HC Deb 11 April 1946 vol 421 cc2073-4
23. Mr. Hastings

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether he is aware that the age of criminal responsibility is lower in Britain than in many other countries; and whether he will introduce legislation to amend the law accordingly.

Mr. Ede

The age of criminal responsibility was raised from seven to eight by the Children and Young Persons Act, 1933, following a recommendation made by the Young Offender's Committee. Consideration of any further change must await a suitable opportunity for legislation.

Mr. Hastings

But does my right hon. Friend really believe that at the early age of eight that would be true?

Mr. Ede

The difficulty is not so much one of agreeing with that statement, as of deciding what is the proper age to fix as the minimum age in the circumstances. This will be a matter which will have to be considered when the Criminal Justice Bill is before the House.

Mr. Hector Hughes

Does my right hon. Friend realise that this question of his responsibility for young offenders is an urgent one, and will he give it special attention with a view to preventing such offenders from embarking on a life of crime?

Mr. Ede

I am exceedingly anxious to comply with that principle, and if and when the Criminal Justice Bill comes before the House I hope I shall get the support of the House in strengthening my hands in that respect.