§ Order for Second Reading read.
§ 3.55 p.m.
§ The Secretary of State for Scotland (Mr. Woodburn)
I beg to move, "That the Bill be now read a Second time."
This Bill was introduced in another place, where a considerable number of Amendments were made to points of detail, and it comes to us, therefore, after having already undergone a fair degree of detailed examination. The question of crime in a community, like that of sickness and epidemics, is not one which can be ignored. Society, for its own protection, must deal with it. The study of crime and its treatment is as old as society itself and there is, therefore, a great deal of experience and a long history to guide those who approach the problem in a scientific and humane manner.
In the framing of the Bill we are indebted to the work of quite a number of Scottish bodies. I might mention the Scottish Advisory Council on the Treatment and Rehabilitation of Offenders, of which the Very Rev. Dr. Taylor is the Chairman. The council's report on the Scottish prison system—the last of a series dealing with the treatment of offenders in Scotland—has just been published and is available in the Library. Then there is the Scottish Central Probation Council, over which Lord Keith presides; the Scottish Central After Care Council, over which the Rev. Dr. George MacLeod presides, and the associations of local authorities. The Lord Advocate, the Lord President of the Court of Session and many others have made their contribution to the Bill. We also had the benefit of the discussion by hon. Members during the passage of the 1948 Act for England and Wales, and we recognise that as far as possible it is desirable that the best experience of the three countries should be embodied in our legislation.
In this matter Scotland requires a different approach from England and Wales. We have a differing judicial system and different methods of prosecution and administrative arrangements. Nevertheless, we took advantage of the 1948 Act to abolish whipping in Scotland at the same time as it was being abolished in England 766 and Wales. In the case of capital punishment, it was desirable that Scotland and England and Wales should act together but, as the House may remember, as a result of the long discussions, this question has been remitted to a Royal Commission and we in Scotland will also await its conclusions.
In presenting such an important Bill, it is appropriate, on Second Reading, that we should examine its principles and purposes. When we come to the Committee stage there will be many matters which we shall desire to discuss in greater detail. In the treatment of crime, society has a double purpose. It has the purpose of protecting itself and its institutions, and, secondly, it has the duty of dealing with the offender in the way which will bring him most good.
From the earliest time, society has sought to protect itself by "putting the fear of death" upon the criminal, and nearly all forms of punishment have been tried to enable society to revenge itself upon the lawbreaker or to deter potential offenders. These have ranged from ridicule to torture and death. Most of us have shuddered at stories of the rack and thumb-screw and, on the other hand, been entertained to learn how the fishmonger who sold bad fish had to walk about with his fish round his neck. We read of drunkards made to walk round in a barrel with their head and arms protruding, and many other forms of ridicule were used as a punishment for minor offences.
Today, society recognises that punishment for the sake of revenge is unworthy sadism. On the other hand, most people still have the feeling that there should be some retribution exacted from those who make others suffer. There are many offences concerning which the public would resent it bitterly if the criminal "got off with it." Parliament, however, has to approach such matters without heat and with clear thought.
The first thing the Bill does is to clear the decks of obsolete penalties. Accordingly it abolishes drawing and quartering, attainder, corruption of blood, escheat or forfeiture for treason and murder, outlawry or fugitation, hard labour—crank and treadmill — which brings back memories of Charles Reade's "It is never too late to mend"—and penal servitude.
767 Today, as in all social diseases, we approach this problem as one where prevention is better than cure. The first preventive action is, as far as possible, to remove the circumstances which tend to breed crime. The greatest of these was, of course, poverty. It has always been difficult for any normal person to feel that the man who stole a loaf to feed his starving child was in any way a vicious criminal, yet in past times, the guilty conscience of a society where such poverty existed, often resulted in vicious punishment for such an offence. Today society has removed this particular breeding ground for offences. Full employment, by providing remunerative activity, also removes the idleness which was formerly a predisposing factor in breaking the law.
We are still left, however, with environmental conditions which seem to generate mischief, which, in some cases, degenerates into criminal offences. The child who grows up in a congested area with no healthy outlet for his natural energies and spirit of adventure, frequently misdirects his otherwise healthy activity into the field of what is now called juvenile delinquency. We are all disturbed at what appears to be an increase in juvenile delinquency. I have not been able to satisfy myself as to how far this is due to our modern legalistic methods of treating juvenile delinquency. In the old days the policeman frequently dealt with this on the spot, as a parent would—as many hon. Members will know from their own practical experience, but today we insist on more formal treatment of juvenile cases.
If I might illustrate this, I would quote the case of a magistrate of the City of Edinburgh, who had a grocer's shop. One day he was going home from a funeral when he saw a boy up a tree. He gave him certain chastisement with his umbrella until the boy came down and slipped away. The next day when he was serving in his shop in another guise, a man came in and said, "Youngsters are remarkable these days. My boy came to me last night, and asked me if it was legal for a man to hit him with an umbrella while he was up a tree." Children have become legalistic in the matter of discipline though whether this is a more normal way of dealing with the matter is another 768 point. In the case of juvenile delinquency, parents and society must recognise increases in this form of offence as an indication of their failure to guide youthful energy in its proper direction. While everyone nowadays would resent any suggestion of exploiting youthful labour, it ought to be considered whether some earlier forms of youthful service in leisure hours would not be the most satisfactory way of guiding the expenditure of youthful activity.
In this Bill, we deal with this particular problem by measures to repair damaged moral values and provide social care and guidance. We regard imprisonment of young offenders as the wrong approach. Up till now, between 20 and 30 young people between 14 and 17 have been sentenced each year to prison, while 900 to 1,000 have been gaoled between 17 and 21. We regard prison as the wrong place to help such young people. The Bill proposes what might be described as graded treatment according to the personality of the offender.
Experience has shown the value of the probation system, but this has been used far too little in Scotland. In England between 1945 and 1948, about 28 per cent. of all juvenile delinquents were placed on probation, but only about 14 per cent. in Scotland, yet in the same years, between 80 and 87 per cent. of the offenders who were put on probation in Scotland completed their periods of supervision satisfactorily. We therefore, consider that it is important that probation should be used by the Scottish Courts whenever possible, and in Scotland we place some importance on getting the co-operation of the probationer in his own welfare.
In those cases where probation is not suitable or has failed, the Bill proposes to prohibit the imprisonment of persons under 17 and eventually by Order in Council, to raise this minimum age to 21 as new methods of treatment become available. For those who require not so much training and guidance as to be pulled up sharply and to be made to realise that they've done wrong the Bill proposes the establishment of a new type of institution, which we call a detention centre, to which Courts may commit offenders who are over 14 but still under 21. This will provide strict discipline for periods up to three months.
769 In those cases where a prolonged period of rehabilitation is necessary, uniform sentences of three years in a Borstal institution will be given. In this case, the progress of the patient will be carefully observed and he will be discharged as soon as the cure is regarded as reasonably permanent. I myself have told the Borstal boys that we were reluctantly giving them hospitality, and what they were in was a moral hospital to get their health back, so far as their behaviour in society was concerned; that as soon as we were satisfied that they were cured out they would go. There is no particular virtue in keeping people merely on theory, and if we can be certain of them then they have got to leave for normal society. Today, the tendency is to try to make the person in such institutions live a normal life so that he has become habituated to work and to living under self-discipline. In all these cases, the courts are to have before them all available information about the background and character of the offender before deciding how to deal with him, and to this end the Bill provides that proper arrangements will be made for his remand and examination.
In accordance with the object of keeping young people out of prison, offenders under 21 who are remanded in custody must be sent either to a local authority remand home or to a State remand centre—a new institution for those over 17, or those under 17 who are unruly. A proportion of offenders have to be dealt with as mental cases, and where necessary they have to be maintained in a suitable institution where society can prevent them doing damage to others or to themselves and enable them to live as useful a life as is possible.
For this reason the Bill gives the court improved powers to send such people for treatment, not as criminals, to appropriate types of mental institution or guardianship. In the case of those who have been charged with grave offences and placed, because of their mental condition, at His Majesty's Pleasure, the archaic description of criminal lunatic is being abolished. We regard it as a wrong description for a person who cannot be convicted, and therefore the Bill proposes that in future such a person will be confined in a State mental hospital under the General Board of Control and no longer brought within the prison system. It seems to us to be a 770 contradiction to say that a man was not responsible for his actions, and then put him in an institution that implies his guilt. He is either not capable of pleading and not capable of being guilty in the normal sense, or he is a criminal who is subject to conviction.
There are other cases of a marginal type where the persons may not be mentally deficient or insane in the eyes of the law but may be abnormal or subnormal or unbalanced to such a degree that they require treatment designed to enable them to behave in the way which society imposes upon us. To enable such cases to be dealt with, the Bill proposes that the court may put the offender on probation, subject to a condition that he submits to an appropriate form of treatment—either by attending a suitable clinic as an outpatient, or by agreeing to undergo residential treatment.
There are, of course, persistent offenders who cannot be properly treated by these means. Many of them are not mentally abnormal in any technical sense, although they are warped in their attitude to the law. With such cases, after experience has shown that other methods are unsuccessful, courts will be able to deal in two ways. Where it seems likely that prolonged training, rather of the kind at which we aim in Borstal, will rehabilitate the offender, the court may sentence him to a period of corrective training. Where this method is not likely to succeed and where the record of the offender is such as to make it desirable that society should be protected against him, the court may send him to preventive detention. He will of course, be given such training as is practicable, but the primary object will be to keep him, under suitable conditions, away from the temptations which he has shown himself unable to resist.
The object of the Bill in general is to make the punishment fit the criminal rather than the crime. Both as a cure and as an example to others, the punitive element must certainly be retained, not only for the protection of the public but in the interest of the transgressors themselves. The Bill is not the outcome of any weak or sentimental attitude towards the criminal. The treatment of the criminal is a regrettable necessity, but in the treatment of the criminal we have to retain a sense of proportion. Difficult 771 problems are involved in the provision of prisons, institutions and personnel to supervise the offender. All this is a great drain on the working members of the community, and it would be quite wrong to allow any sentiment to lead us to coddle the criminal to the detriment of the well-doing members of the community.
It is very much like the problem which we face in agriculture. We can expend a certain amount of money trying to develop marginal land, but when the land becomes too poor all the money we spend on it will not recover it to agriculture. In the same way, we may get people of marginal characters, fading into no character at all. It may be that we spend far too much of the country's resources trying to recover what cannot be recovered, and that the same amount of money spent on other persons in the community might produce far better results. The only trouble with the marginal criminal, as distinct from the marginal land, is that we have to keep him in any case. The problem is to make him as useful as possible to society, if he cannot be cured. The offender in most cases must accept responsibility for his actions. Where these are deliberate and hurtful to other members of the community he must accept his medicine.
On the other hand, society accepts in this Bill its responsibilities. The best treatment of crime is its prevention. This will be effected as far as possible by the abolition of known causes, by efficient policing which prevents much crime, and by prompt detection, which is one of the best deterrents. We hope that our education system will increase its influence in creating good standards of citizenship. Public opinion exercises a wholesome restraint on those who offend, and the public themselves, by co-operation with the police, have made and can make a great contribution. As a society we realise that work and well-being make people more law abiding than idleness and poverty and that it is better to have housing and health than prison and penalties.
Society is spending a great amount of money on the provision of healthy environment, with educational outlets for energy, guidance for leisure, and opportunities 772 for sport and for youthful training. There is a great field here for social work for men and women who are prepared to help children and youth through their training years for manhood. Work, in my view, is the most healthy and most satisfying interest in life. The creation of false interests and unreal values stimulates greed and envy, which frequently lead to wrong behaviour. It is the illusion of selfishness instead of the reality of service which leads to much of what we call crime. Society, however, in our country, is essentially healthy, and with the new approach to the treatment of the offender which is outlined in the Bill I feel sure that progress will be made in eliminating preventible crime from our midst.
It is a far cry to the earliest treatment of crime. We must realise that every now and again, as in Nazi Germany and in other countries even today, the most barbarous punishments seem to be revived, even after all the development of civilisation. Therefore it is a credit to our civilisation and to the standards we have reached that we are in a position to be discussing the treatment of crime in this medicinal and remedial way today. This has almost become part of our national hospital service, up to the degree of person who is a deliberate and vicious violator of other people's liberties. Where crime is the result of mental ill-health it will, in future, be treated as such.
The difficulty remains whether, in the treatment of individuals according to their individual temperaments, there is a limit to the amount of attention which can be given to any individual in the community. The most we can hope to do is to divide individuals into classes and, as far as possible, give to each of those classes the kind of special treatment which might be most beneficial. The Bill will enable our society to go forward towards the better use of its manpower resources and to save men and women who might otherwise have been useless to society.
I remember, when I was attending classes as a youngster, that one of the teachers had had a great experience of Germany. It has always stuck in my mind that he told us what the Germans did with some of their prisoners. They used to take the prisoners out to great 773 moorlands which they wanted to recover for agriculture. The prisoners had to build the farm huts and sheds and live in them while they gradually recovered the ground for agricultural purposes, turning it over until the place had become a farm. When they had done that, they moved to the next location, and the farmer moved in. In that way the Germans recovered tremendous stretches of land and made them available for agriculture. I often feel that it would be much more useful if people who cannot discipline themselves could be used for constructive work of that kind which would bring a benefit to the country as a whole.
We put forward this Bill, not with the object of mollycoddling the prisoners, but of treating prisoners according to the standards of our society for their wellbeing, in the hope that this class of person will be reduced to the minimum and that society will rise in its general moral behaviour.
§ 4.18 p.m.
§ Commander Galbraith (Glasgow, Pollok)
I am sure that the House appreciates the wide range of the explanation which the Secretary of State for Scotland has given of the contents and purposes of this most complicated Measure. On this side of the House we do not regard the Bill as controversial in the political sense. We recognise, however, that as between individual Members of the House, apart altogether from political affiliations, there is room for a fairly wide divergence of opinion. In that connection I think it is right for us to keep in mind, as the right hon. Gentleman has told us, that initially the Bill is the result of painstaking work carried out by a number of departmental committees. In particular, it is based on recommendations which have been received from such bodies as the Scottish Advisory Council on the Treatment and Rehabilitation of Offenders, to whose work I should like, with the right hon. Gentleman, to pay my tribute. The Measure also comes to us from another place where it has already been scrutinised fairly closely and where Amendments have been made which are of benefit to the whole Measure.
I am happy to think, as the right hon. Gentleman appeared to be, that in this Bill on a somewhat serious subject there are certain lighter aspects. I observe, for 774 instance, the ancient sanctions, some of them dating from 1707 and some of a much earlier origin than that, which are being removed from our criminal code. Forfeiture no longer has to follow on the crimes of murder or treason. Forfeiture has never had any very great terrors for me or for a large number of my hon. and right hon. Friends, and since the advent of the present Government with a Chancellor of the Exchequer who by sleight of hand leaves nothing whatsoever in our pockets, not even in the pockets of the most prudent, any element of fear or terror which forfeiture had for us has ceased to be. I am sure that it is because the right hon. Gentleman senses that, owing to the manipulations of his right hon. and learned Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer, forfeiture has lost all its effect, that he has decided to abolish it.
§ Mr. Woodburn
I hope that the hon. and gallant Gentleman is not contemplating making himself liable for it.
§ Commander Galbraith
Even if I did, I am afraid that the crime would not result in any very great benefit to the Exchequer. There is also the abolition of what I have always understood to be the somewhat undignified and very painful process of drawing and quartering as part of the penalty for high treason.
§ Commander Galbraith
The Bill also abolishes penal servitude and hard labour, and imprisonment for those under 17 years of age is prohibited. Detention centres are provided for offenders under 21, higher standards are aimed at for probation hostels and homes, and the Bill also provides that remand centres are to be supplied for young persons committed for trial so that they shall no longer have to wait in prison for the date of their trial to come on. I am also glad to see that the qualification for Borstal training is to be widened, that the probation system is to be modified, and that two new types of treatment have been introduced for the benefit of persistent offenders.
I have no doubt at all that many of these provisions are all to the good and bring our criminal code more into line with modern ideas, particularly so in regard to young persons. Many of these provisions 775 —the right hon. Gentleman alluded to this—such as detention centres, probation homes, remand centres and Borstal training, aim not so much at punishment as at reform, but I was glad to have an assurance from the Secretary of State that, even if that is the case, there is no intention of coddling those who offend against the law.
I hope I shall not be considered a barbarian, but I wish to state a conviction which I hold very firmly indeed, that many of these institutions would be unnecessary and that the country could be saved the expenditure of large sums of money if parents were only instructed about the benefits their children would derive from being thoroughly and soundly spanked on that part of the anatomy which Providence has provided for the purpose, immediately they show signs of disregarding parental authority or acquiring any vicious or bad habits. Not only would the country be saved much money, but at the end of the day many parents might be saved a deal of sorrow. I give that to the House as my experience. For any real misdemeanour nothing is more salutary, at least up to the age of 18, than a good sound caning properly administered—I speak from experience about that also—and I can tell hon. Gentlemen opposite who have not had the benefit of that experience that, while it hurts, it does very little harm. I know of few who cared to have it repeated at too frequent intervals, but I can assure the House that it does encourage towards the paths of virtue.
Be that as it may, the Bill is undoubtedly a further step towards the mitigation of any hardship and harshness which still remains in our penal code. Surely for us to move in that direction is a great act of faith, an act of faith which would not appear to be justified from the trend, if I comprehend it aright, which is revealed in the criminal statistics for our country for 1948, Command Paper 7,708. The figures given in that document show that, comparing 1939 with 1948, there is an increase in crimes known to the police of from 61,000 to 78,000, an increase in crimes against property with violence from 16,000 to 30,000, housebreaking as compared with 1937 is up by 115 per cent.—from 13,781 to 776 29,732—and the number of persons proceeded against for housebreaking—I think that is probably a fairer figure to take to show the trend—is up by 88.1 per cent.
I have observed that the Government lay claim to every improvement which is made. They lay claim to the fall in the death rate, to the fall in the stillbirth rate and the fall in the maternal and infant mortality rates as being the outcome and result of their good administration. If I am not mistaken, I heard hon. Gentlemen opposite claim the credit for the increase in the birth rate in 1947 as being a great achievement by the present Government. I notice that there has been considerable shyness on that subject since the Report for 1948 was published revealing a fall in the birthrate for that year. Some hon. Gentlemen opposite may be sensitive on that matter, and I leave it there, but the Government simply cannot have it both ways. If they are to claim, without an} just warrant, credit for good trends, they must accept responsibility for had trends, and therefore they must accept the responsibility for any shortcomings that there may be in regard to crimes as revealed by the figures which I have quoted. They can at least take comfort from one of the figures contained in that Report. In the case of drunkenness, there has been a notable decrease since 1939 of no fewer than 10,000 cases in 1948.
The House in general will agree that by far the most serious aspect of the criminal statistics relates to young persons of 17 years of age and under. The number of that category against whom proceedings were taken increased by 2,681 or 15 per cent. in 1948 over 1947. Crimes against the person increased by 52, housebreaking by 710 and theft by 574, and the guilt of young persons was established in no fewer than 14,024 cases as compared with 12,457 in 1947, or an increase over that period of 12 months of no fewer than 1,567. These are very serious figures, and they give us no cause whatsoever to be complacent, particularly when we find that the peak age in relation to theft is between 13 and 15, housebreaking between 13 and 14 and for all crimes committed by young persons, between 13 and 14.
Judging by these figures, there appears to be something very far wrong with the 777 discipline in many of our homes, and also perhaps in many of our schools, but I am not blaming the teachers for that because it appears to me that for all practical purposes they are prohibited from taking action of a disciplinary nature which would be likely to be effective. However, I do blame the parents, and in that the right hon. Gentleman seems to be in agreement with me.
§ Mr. Rankin (Glasgow, Tradeston)
Will the hon. and gallant Gentleman expand a little more a statement he has just made? He stated that teachers were prohibited from taking, within the school or even at times outside the school, the necessary disciplinary action—
§ Commander Galbraith
I do not think that teachers have at their disposal methods of disciplining the pupils which are likely to be effective to the full extent I, should like to see. I may be wrong. The hon. Gentleman is welcome to his opinion and no doubt he will develop it when he speaks.
§ Mr. Rankin
The teacher has at his disposal the very instrument which the hon. and gallant Gentleman has just told us was so effective in his own case.
§ Commander Galbraith
Yes, but surrounded by a good many safeguards. I sometimes wonder whether, in the light of these figures, there should not be stronger measures of discipline entrusted to teachers though I doubt whether they would welcome that as a body. I do not know that they would care to use them if they had them, but I have no doubt that it would be in the interests of the youth of the country. I mention these facts because, in considering a Bill of this nature, they are worthy of the consideration of the House.
This Bill calls for the provision of a large number of new institutions. That means a lot of new building, and in that connection we must keep our feet firmly on the ground. So I would quote to the House words used by Lord Morrison when speaking for the Government and stating the policy of the Government in 778 another place. The words used by the noble Lord were these:… the provisions of this Bill can be brought into force only gradually. Many of the projected reforms depend upon the prevision of new types of institution, and while the national building programme is so congested these reforms must inevitably be delayed.Since those words were spoken the situation, as we all know, has deteriorated to a large extent, and it seems that the implementation of many of the important provisions of this Bill will be even more protracted than the noble Lord then believed. Indeed, the situation today is such that parts of the Bill are likely to remain a dead letter for a long time. If, however, building of new institutions is altogether out of the question, I hope that will not prevent improvements being made in existing conditions. Indeed I hope they will be the first to receive attention. In that regard I would remind the right hon. Gentleman of the Report on Prisons in Scotland, 1939–1948, Cmd. Paper 7747, and also of the Report of the Medical Advisor on Prisons in Scotland published this year. I trust that the unsatisfactory conditions referred to in those documents are receiving and will continue to receive the urgent attention of His Majesty's Government.
While I do not criticise this Bill in principle—I hope I have indicated that I accept it with certain doubts and reservations—I feel that in detail it requires further examination, and to that it will be subjected during the Committee stage. Meantime my right hon. and hon. Friends agree that, as the Bill has no political complexion of a party nature, they will today accord to it an unopposed Second Reading.
§ 4.34 p.m.
§ Mr. Hubbard (Kirkcaldy)
I will pass only one comment on the remark made by the hon. and gallant Member for Pollok (Commander Galbraith). I assure him that the form of corrective punishment he received when young was in no way a monopoly of the Opposition. I probably suffered, or benefited, to the same extent except that in view of my proportions I was a much better target than he was.
Of course we all welcome this Criminal Justice Bill. Indeed, for a considerable time I have been convinced that if there were a little more justice there would 779 probably be far fewer criminals. Perhaps, in a more abstract way, too, if some of us had received more justice in the past we might have been deemed to be criminals. At any rate, we approve of the Bill, particularly of that part which deals with crime amongst young people. Everyone will agree that any suggestion which tends to prevent crime, particularly on the part of young people, is the first concern. I would put prevention first, reform second, and punishment last.
For a considerable period of my public life I have been much concerned about what happens to young children who are alleged to have committed crimes. It is difficult to define the difference between the natural wildness one finds among healthy children and behaviour which is criminal in intent, and I was particularly interested in that part of the Bill which says that the background of the child must be taken into consideration. Often I have seen children removed from their surroundings and put into institutions when the people who ought to have been in institutions were the parents of those children.
Another thing I watched for a long time with great regret is that until now the boy or girl who, because of his bad parents it is felt would be better away from their care, finds himself in the same institution and receiving the same treatment as children who are there because they have done something really bad. That is not a good practice because sometimes the rather wild children have little or no knowledge that they are beginning to be the enemies of society. Sometimes the first indication they have of that is when they reach the old type of remand home. Indeed, I have heard them discussing this question, and one who enters a remand home or an institution is often held in esteem in proportion to the crime he has committed.
I had an interesting experience many years ago when crossing over on a ferry from Tayport to Dundee when a number of boys from the Mars training ship were crossing at the same time. One of them had a great deal to say about why they go there. He informed us that one boy was in detention for having stolen a hen and observed that it was a good job it had not been an ostrich he had stolen or otherwise he would have been dead— 780 perhaps drawn and quartered, because the law which it is intended to repeal by this Bill was still in operation then. I do not know what the disembowling part would have entailed—
§ Mr. Hubbard
That is what I wanted to know. My worry all along has been that young lads and girls who stray a little off the path between right and wrong often for the first time mix with those who have a definite opinion as to what is right or wrong and who have deliberately set out on a wrong course. I have often heard people say that they are judged by the company they are in, but I can never make up my mind why the good person is influenced by the company of the bad one instead of the bad person being influenced by the company of the good person. To my mind that is all a little confusing.
I had a rather unfortunate experience in trying to help a boy who was doing his best to rehabilitate himself with the very great support of a master from his approved school. It was very difficult for him to be sent back home because of the bad influence of his parents. For that very reason, however, and for that reason alone, be behaved extremely well, until ultimately he discovered that the best way out of his predicament was to commit a crime which would warrant his detention in a Borstal institution, so that after a short period of training he would be able to enlist in one of the Services. I feel that the Bill will put an end to difficulties of that sort. In the past, little or no regard has been paid at certain remand centres to the type of home from which a young person came or to the persons in charge of the remand homes themselves. The fact that these faults are to be remedied is another reason for welcoming the Bill.
There are various matters which cause me anxiety concerning people who find themselves quite unexpectedly in a court of law. A person entering a court of law always expects to get justice, but everyone knows that justice is capable of different interpretations. A person who is brought before the court for the first time may be unfortunate in that his case is badly presented. He might feel that if he could be afforded an 781 opportunity to have his case re-heard there might be a different result. But if, because of financial difficulties, he cannot afford to do this, and goes to prison for the first time, he suffers under a sense of frustration that he ought not to be there and has had bad treatment in the court. This is one of the reasons why frustration is often closely linked with revenge. A very bad impression is at once created in the young person's mind. He feels he has had a raw deal and at the forefront of his mind is a determination to have some form of revenge at the earliest opportunity. For this reason, therefore, any extension of criminal justice which will make it possible for everyone to have further opportunities in the courts is very desirable.
I am very interested in the question of the young person who is averred to have committed something wrong but is deemed to be suffering from some form of mental disease. Such a person has to be taken to a special mental school for treatment. It is mentioned in the Bill that there are to be fixed periods for Borstal detention. I should like an assurance that when young persons are sent to mental homes of any description there will be regular periodical reviews of the effect upon them of their treatment. There is always the feeling in people's minds that it is much easier to be certified and be sent to a mental institution than to find a way out from such places.
I should like some positive assurance concerning young people, whose minds may have been warped because of conditions under which they have lived, because of lack of parental control or because, perhaps, of an overdose of that corporal punishment from which my hon. and gallant Friend has suffered—and so have I. Probably in our younger days we were struck in the right places, but children are not always struck in the right places. It is for those reasons that young people find themselves in mental homes, and I ask for the assurance that a definite time will be stated for releases from Borstal institutions and that time limits will be imposed for the re-examination of young people sent from the courts to mental homes.
782 Whenever any new Measure dealing with criminal law is brought before the House we are taking a step forward. Although no benefit is derived by anyone in detaining people too long at the expense of the State, I agree that some form of protection must be afforded to those citizens who try to keep within the law.
§ 4.45 p.m.
§ Colonel Gomme-Duncan (Perth and Kinross, Perth)
Most of us will agree with what the hon. Member for Kirkcaldy (Mr. Hubbard) has been saying, not only in respect of corporal punishment, in which I, with perhaps a beatable area almost equivalent to his, have shared. The matter of treating children and young offenders is one in which everybody ought to be particularly interested. Many of us in this House are parents and we all have our share of these responsibilities. As the hon. Member said, lack of parental responsibility is one of the main causes of juvenile crime, not only here but probably in other countries also. I shall revert later, if I may, to other of the points put forward by the hon. Member for Kirkcaldy.
I agree with the general principles which the Bill contains. I agree, too, that on this occasion we do not need to go into great detail. There are, however, various sides of this big question to which I should like to refer. The historical side is interesting and has been mentioned. I am delighted to see several English hon. Members present and as we shall, I hope, hear from them, perhaps I might tell them that the punishment of hanging, drawing and quartering was expressly invented by a King of England for the benefit of a Scottish patriot known as William Wallace. That is something in which they will take either pride or otherwise and to which they will doubtless refer, but it is something which they cannot deny. The only fault of William Wallace was that he fought for the liberty of his country; and that was the result to him, over 600 years ago. Yet in the last 20 years there have been more cases of that or its equivalent than there were 600 years ago. We may not, therefore, have become as civilised as sometimes we think.
We are all agreed that the punishment of offenders is necessary, whether the offences are against individuals or the 783 community as a whole. We are also agreed, I hope, that the punitive aspect, as the right hon. Gentleman said, must not be allowed to obscure the reformative side. The punitive side is very necessary, but at the same time we must realise that we have a responsibility for people who fall by the way. If we punish them we must at the same time give them every possible opportunity of restoration to decent society, as far, at any rate, as their mental and physical powers will allow them to go.
It is, of course, extraordinarily difficult to lay down any sort of hard and fast rules that all people between 14 and 17, or whatever the ages are, must be treated in this way, and that all those between 17 and 21 must be treated in that way. In those two categories there will be little thugs of 14 and 15, far more deserving of the drastic treatment which those age 21 and 22 will receive, because they have already reached that stage. In this very difficult problem we rely so much on the judgment of those people whose duty it is to decide where and how the boy or girl is to be treated. It is an immense and very difficult responsibility. Any help which we can give in this House by legislation of this kind is a step very much in the right direction.
As has already been said, it is very necessary to guard against false sentimentality on the subject of crime. I do not think there is any doubt that in the minds of many young people the thug is a hero. The chap who does the biggest crime is a bit of a swell. I can remember thinking the same when at school, to be perfectly honest. That produces a difficult feature in dealing with young offenders. There it is a question of the tact and experience of the people who do the job which may make or mar the situation.
The figures in the White Paper referred to by my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Pollok (Commander Galbraith) give no reason for complacency in Scotland. We have to realise that our prisons are overcrowded, as I believe they are in England and Wales. That is a very clear pointer that something is still very far wrong. Of course we have to allow for the tremendous disturbance, mental, physical and economic, of the war and the aftermath 784 of that is bound to result in unsettlement and added crime through people being mentally, physically and otherwise disturbed. We can take a little comfort in the hope that this will recede very steadily.
Crimes against the person and against property, with or without violence, are one of the most disturbing features of present crime statistics and in Scotland they show a really alarming rise. In Command Paper 7747, Report on Prisons in Scotland, we find that crimes against the person in 1939 were 1,373 and in 1948 1,480, and that is still going up. Crimes against property, with or without violence, have gone up even more. Crimes against property with violence in 1939 were 1,120 and, in 1948, 2,534. One does not need to go into more detail, but there are indications that this type of crime, unfortunately, is not on the decrease, but on the increase.
Perhaps the saddest, and in some ways the most disheartening feature, is the number of crimes committed by persons under 21. That again brings us back to the question of homes and parental responsibility. In the same document I found that between 1939 and 1948 crimes by persons under 21 have rather more than doubled. That is an unfortunate state of affairs but, I believe, it is pretty general all over Great Britain. I am happy to see that in my own category, between 50 and 60, the figures have dropped substantially. Figures for people of between 50 and 60 dropped from 2,058 in 1939 to 760, I believe, so the older ones are learning a little sense.
§ Mr. Willis (Edinburgh, North)
Surely we cannot take parents from their children for six years and put them in the Forces and then expect them to be as well behaved when they come back.
§ Colonel Gomme-Duncan
But we have to deal with the question of homes. The war is over and the homes remain and this result is being produced. We have to face up to it, whether we like it or not. The figures give something of the 785 picture of the problem we are up against, and I think this Bill goes several valuable steps forward towards trying to solve it.
I turn now from the prisoners and their problems to the question of the staffs of prisons. From personal experience—let me add hastily, as an inspector of prisons and not as an occupant—[An HON. MEMBER: "Why?"]—so far anyway—we have in the prison staffs as loyal, conscientious and sympathetic a body of men and women as can be found anywhere in the country. We have to remember that all our reforms and the things about which we are thinking today are dependent on these people. The provisions of this Bill largely depend on the co-operation of this grand body of men and women.
It is not everybody's job to be a prison officer and, of course, there are misfits and sometimes unfortunate results, but there are certainly no more in that service than in any other walk of life and we have to realise that they are doing magnificent work. It is of the greatest importance and our bounden duty to see that the rewards and conditions of these people are commensurate with the immense responsibilities we place on their shoulders because there is no doubt that each Measure, such as this Bill, puts added responsibility on the staffs of prisons and homes who have to administer those Measures. We must not let them down in the matter of rewards.
We have to remember that the staff is still inadequate to deal with the great problem of our prisons and reform homes. I understand that the Prime Minister the other day notified a 5 per cent. cut for all Government Departments and I presume that includes the prison service. No one would deny the necessity for this, but I suggest that it needs to be very carefully watched to see whether a 5 per cent. cut is wise at this time in a service which is already understaffed for efficient running while, possibly, there is some other place where a 10 per cent. cut could be made and the prison service let off the 5 per cent. I know that others in other services will say, "What about my service, it is as important as others," but I think this should be considered and I should like to hear from the right hon. Gentleman who is to reply how the 5 per cent. cut 786 will affect the provision of staff for these prisons and homes.
We have all to realise that the Civil Service organisation, its rules and methods, must play an enormous part in the running of the prison service of Scotland. I would again pay tribute to the covenanted Civil Service of this country, which I believe to be the best in the world, without exception, hard working, conscientious and a model of probity and impartiality in everything they do. But however good the Civil Service is—and ours is very good indeed—the training and outlook of civil servants are rather more directed towards facts, figures, statistics and files than live human beings. That is inevitable, and it is no reflection on them to say that their training is not primarily for dealing with human beings in active life—and the prison population is one of the most human of all gatherings of human beings.
In all walks of life direct and constant personal touch between those running the show and those who are being run is of the greatest importance. In no case is it more important than when dealing with a collection of broken lives, or lives in danger of being broken, such as those in our prisons and reform homes, It is essential that there should be the closest personal touch between the directing administering body and the actual units administered. Here it is inevitable that the Civil Service mentality is not really trained for the purpose. That, as I say, is in no way casting reflections on their administration as such.
The lack of first-hand experience among civil servants in dealing with types such as the criminal classes, as they are called—I mean the inhabitants of criminal institutions—means that their approach is based rather upon just "bodies" and not upon individual human beings with problems and immortal souls of their own. The set-up in Edinburgh is extremely efficient. The Director of Prisons in Scotland today is a man of the highest calibre, of great character, wide sympathies and great experience in the handling of men, one of the best types of Regular Army officers who could be found. He has done a magnificent job. Unfortunately he is due to retire shortly. I hope that the right hon. Gentleman will exercise the greatest possible care in selecting a successor for this tremendously important 787 job. Without casting any reflection upon the Civil Service, I would urge that it should not be just a matter of promotion by age or seniority to this particular job because it is a job that not everybody can do, however excellent he may be at other things.
§ Colonel Gomme-Duncan
If he is the best for the job.
I should like to suggest a remedy. It is easy to criticise, but I hope that my criticisms are being taken as purely friendly and constructive ones. Before I point this remedy, may I ask the Solicitor-General for Scotland or whoever is to reply whether he or any of his colleagues have any knowledge of any comparable organisation of the size and type of the prison service in Scotland where the executive body, the men who do the actual running of the prisons, have no representative at the administrative headquarters? Is there any case of that in any comparable organisation? I think not, but I should like an answer to that question, if possible.
That brings me to my suggested remedy, which is a limited remedy but would, I believe, help enormously. What is urgently needed is some form of administrative staff officer—as we should say in the Army A and Q, the Major-General in charge of administration—whose job is direct and constant liaison between the units, in this case the prisons and homes, and the administrative headquarters in Edinburgh. That is of the greatest importance. If that would cost more money I am convinced that a saving could be made somewhere else in that Department which would enable this appointment to be made, a step which would give a greater value for money without increasing the total expenditure.
§ Mr. Scollan
Does the hon. and gallant Member mean that at the present time there is no such contact?
§ Colonel Gomme-Duncan
I was coming to that point. The people in Edinburgh do their utmost to keep in touch with those units; from personal experience I know that they make every possible effort, but the fact is that they are weighed down by the mass of 788 administrative detail which has to be done in Edinburgh, and which the complex modern systems we invent seem inevitably doomed to carry. They just cannot keep in touch as frequently as it should be done, and as they would like.
I wish to make another brief but important point. Far wider latitude and discretion should be given to governors in what they do within their own prisons. We must realise that the governor is the man on the spot: he knows all the staff, the prisoners and the problems. It is very trying to have to refer constantly, however correctly and well-meaningly, to Edinburgh about something which they could do straight away. If they could take the necessary action in such matters and have loyal backing from Edinburgh it would be a great improvement on the present set-up. I am not suggesting that governors do not now get loyal backing from Edinburgh. I am saying that they should be able to act far more on their own and then refer to Edinburgh for confirmation of their action.
§ Colonel Gomme-Duncan
Not enough chance for it. We have to realise that in the prison services and in Criminal Justice Bills and all these matters with which we deal in this House we are dealing only with an evil which exists. I am convinced that the real solution of all these problems lies in the re-establishment of high Christian principles in the homes and individual and public lives of the people of our country. Until we achieve that all this will not be of advantage. We are dealing with an existing evil, and as the right hon. Gentleman said, we must get rid of the causes of that evil and then we shall not need to cure it. It is only curable by a reversion to Christian principles.
§ 5.6 p.m.
§ Mr. W. J. Brown (Rugby)
For an Englishman to intervene in a Scottish Debate is to carry rashness to the point of folly. It is the first time that I have ever been so venturesome in the years in which I have sat in this House. But there is an organic connection between the prison service in Scotland and that in England, and I have a very direct and intimate relationship with both. It is that which has led me to seek to address the House today. This Bill represents a 789 further stage in progress from the conception of penology as a punitive thing to the conception of penology as a reformative and curative thing. From that point of view the Bill in general will be welcomed by everyone in the House. It reproduces many of the features of the English Criminal Justice Act, and it is an attempt to keep in step with a new conception of the purpose of detention in prison.
I felicitate the Secretary of State for Scotland on the introduction of the Bill. But there are two points upon which I should like some assurance before I come to the particular matter which I wish to discuss today. Under one Clause of the Bill, dealing with persistent offenders, provision is made for sentences of preventive detention for a term of not less than five or more than 14 years on persons over the age of 30 who are convicted on indictment of a serious offence, and have previously been convicted on at least three occasions of similar offences. That Clause has done more to strike terror into the heart of the criminal classes than any other provision in either the English or the Scottish Measure—the threat of preventive detention, which means that for an offence for which a man would normally receive a sentence of a couple of years he may find himself confronted with a sentence of anything up to 14 years.
I welcome the appearance of this provision in the Bill, but there is just one consequence about which we had better be rather careful. If, instead of imprisonment for two years, sentences of 14 years are imposed on particular occasions, it means that the man concerned has to be in prison for a much longer time. He has not a two years' tenancy but a 14 years' tenancy. The prisons of Britain, including Scotland, are heavily overcrowded. The prison population today is roughly twice what it was in 1938. It was then of the order of 10,000; now it is of the order of 20,000. Those are figures for the whole country. I do not separate the figures for Scotland; I wish to give the general picture. So gross is the overcrowding in many prisons in Britain that prisoners are not confined in separate cells at night, but are sleeping three in a cell.
That has certain potentially very grave consequences, one of which I will not 790 labour because it will spring to the mind of everybody who knows the problem of homosexuality in prison. The other is a very grave increase in the risk of attack on the individual officer. When an officer goes into a cell where there is one inhabitant inevitably there is a certain element of risk, which may be high or low. But when he goes into a cell where there are three prisoners, who have had the opportunity of consorting together as to what they want to do—if they are in that mood—the risk of possible attack on the officer is very largely increased.
I would urge that in Scotland, as in England, this preventive detention Clause, which I think extremely valuable, must be considered in relation to the total accommodation available in prison. If we are to have more preventive detention sentences then we must deal with a good many other offences not by imprisonment, but by fine, because it is an impossibility to get the added accommodation necessary if we heavily increase the number and duration of prison sentences in Britain.
There is provision made in the Bill for the erection of one additional prison. But what is wanted, not only in Scotland but in England, is the pulling down of nearly all the existing prisons. It is not often that I agree with the Lord President of the Council, but there was one speech he made four or five years ago, when he was at the Home Office, in which he expressed the opinion that the only thing to do with the prisons of Britain was to blow them up. I agree with him. Nearly all of them derive from the early 19th century, and were erected to conform to prison principles which we have long since largely discarded. They are incapable of adaptation to modern conceptions of penology, and they largely frustrate the remedial element which has been developed in our prison system. But as a realist I have to recognise, as we all have to recognise, that the present financial situation in Britain does not permit of the blowing up of the prisons and the erection of more suitable edifices; although some day I hope we shall be able to get round to that.
I come now to the matter about which I particularly wish to speak, and that is the position of the prison staffs. I was grateful for the comments made by the hon. and gallant Member for Perth 791 (Colonel Gomme-Duncan). It is the case that when we have done with this Bill someone has to administer it; and the people who have to administer it are the staffs of the prisons. We need today a radically different type of officer from what we needed in the past. Every change from the punitive to the remedial conception of imprisonment demands for its application a better type of officer than before.
In the early days the functions of the officers was largely described by their older name. They used to be known as "turnkeys." That just about expressed their function of locking people up and letting them out again. We have passed from the turnkey to the warder, and we have passed from the warder to the officer. The more we carry the reformative and curative element in penology to completion, the higher, better-educated, and psychologically adapted type of officer we need to recruit. That is axiomatic and I do not think anybody would dispute its elementary truth.
The fact is that much of the reformative and remedial character of prison administration is being hampered and frustrated by the lamentable shortage of staff. That shortage of staff creates evil effects all the way round. The risk of attack is increased in proportion to the deficiency in numbers of staff, and that, again, I think everyone will readily appreciate. But the shorter we are of staff the more difficult it becomes to get more, because the effect of the shortage of staff is to require evening and weekend work on a scale which would not otherwise be necessary. The possible recruit compares the irregularities and interuptions of prison life with what he might have in the factory, and the result is that the shorter we are of staff the more difficult it becomes to get more staff. That is the situation today.
Staffs in Scotland and in England are working what is called the "Morrison hour." During the war they voluntarily offered—and I think it is to their credit—to work an extra hour a day in order to enable the existing inadequate staff to be spread, as it were, a little wider. They are still working that "Morrison hour" today. But even though they are working an hour a day longer than their hours as laid down, there is still a very 792 heavy shortage of staff in both Scotland and England. That complicates every problem of prison administration.
Why is there a shortage of staff? I think there are a number of reasons. First of all, the job itself is not an attractive one. To live permanently in the society of social criminals, or social misfits, in the dark and depressing conditions of a prison is not an attractive thing at the best of times. One can think of 45,000 other careers which one would rather follow than the career of a prison officer. That is one element. The second element is that men cannot depend either on getting away at a regular time of the day or of enjoying their weekends. They live either in the prison or within a given radius of it, and whenever there is a disturbance in the prison they are liable to be called in—at any time, in the middle of the night or whenever the trouble may occur. One finds increasingly that those irregularities in attendance, emphasised, increased, and exaggerated by the shortage, constitute a very serious obstacle to adequate recruitment to the service.
In the olden days, these and other disabilities were overcome, because the prison service offered two elements in conditions of service which exercised a strong attractive power. One element was the permanency of the job. In a world where employment was insecure, when periodic waves of being out of work swept over the country the attractive power of a job which was regular and permanent was very real. When I first went into the Civil Service myself, I was told, "It is poverty, but thank God it is permanent." The element of permanency and security exercised a very strong attractive power. But with full employment, when, if a man leaves one job he can go to the next-door factory and get another, the attractive power of that element of permanency has very largely disappeared. That, I am certain, is one of the reasons why we are failing to attract a sufficient number of the required type of men.
The other attractive feature was the pension. At the age of 55 or thereafter a man could go on pension. In the world of the 19th century, when no provision was made for old age, before the Old Age Pension came into operation or anything of that kind, the assurance of a pension at the end of a man's working life, was 793 a very attractive thing. It had a strong power of drawing recruits into the service. But the Social Services, so to speak, have caught up with what were the special provisions made in the public service. In principle today every workman may look forward to receiving a pension, and so that pension element in the prison conditions of service does not exercise the same attractive power as it used to do in the days gone by. The upshot is that we are grossly understaffed in the prisons both in Scotland and in England. The decision to apply a two-shift system taken years ago has been inhibited because of the shortage of staff. Every governor and every prison officer I have talked to agrees that this lies at the root of the prison problem.
I know that these are not propitious times in which to talk about wage increases, but I affirm that we must do something here, otherwise the prison administration is in danger of breaking down. I do not want to be an alarmist upon that, but that is the case. If we had more than one serious outbreak in British prisons we should be hard put to it to maintain order. It is as bad as that. If there were a major Dartmoor disturbance which involved concentrating warders from other prisons, leaving them still further denuded, there would be every possibility of a widespread breakdown in the prison service, which none of us wants to see.
Even at the risk of appearing to propagate wage increases at a time when the Government frown on them, I ask them to remember that in their own wages policy they made an exception in the case of what they called the "undermanned industries." They recognised that it might be necessary to offer added attractions in the case of industries which were manifestly undermanned, and for which the number of new recruits required could not be obtained.
I do not ask the Secretary of State for Scotland for any pledges on this matter. He knows, and I know, that the Scottish service and the English service are related here, and he can no more act without the Home Office than the Home Office can act without him in dealing with the Scottish side of the prison service. But I ask him to consider gravely this fundamental issue of the shortage of staff. I 794 ask him to consider with his colleague at the Home Office what can be done to overcome it. I think that he will find that it boils down to offering greater monetary attractions to draw men.
If a man has to choose between going into a factory, with the knowledge that he has done for the day at five every evening, and that the rest of his time is his own, with the knowledge that he will have Saturday and Sunday off each week which he can spend with his wife and family—if he has to choose between that and going into the prison service, where he will get no more money than the factory worker, but will have his evenings interrupted, his weekend peace destroyed, and will be denied the liberty to move about freely, as the police are—certain restrictions are placed upon their social movements—then the odds are about a dozen to one that he will choose the factory rather than the prison.
If we are to overcome the difficulty we must face up to the problem of wages in the service. I conclude by asking the Secretary of State for Scotland to consult with the Home Secretary and, with him, to work out, in conjunction with the unions concerned, scales of pay which will overcome what is at present the biggest liability in the whole of the prison service—the failure to attract and retain an adequate number of the required type of officer.
§ 5.24 p.m.
§ Mr. Rankin (Glasgow, Tradeston)
I am sure that the hon. Member for Rugby (Mr. W. J. Brown) will forgive me if I do not follow him in the line that he took. I lack that intimate and close acquaintance with prisons and prison life which evidently he has obtained. I want to refer to the use which has been made of the statistics quoted during this Debate by the hon. and gallant Member for Pollok (Commander Galbraith) and the hon. and gallant Member for Perth (Colonel Gomme-Duncan). They pointed out, appropriately, that the statistics showed that crime was on the increase. We all recognise that as a very serious factor in our discussion. I notice, however, that that increase is in progress while all the implements of punishment still remain. This shows, I think, that the fear of punishment itself, is not a deterrent to the commission of crime.
795 While quotations were being made from these statistics my mind went back to a school in Warsaw in which I stood three years ago. If I remember aright, the hon. and gallant Member for Bewdley (Major Conant) was with me in that school. Forty boys were gathered there, the teacher told us, from almost all parts of Poland—from the east and the west and from Warsaw itself. Every one of them had been deprived not only of father but of mother for six years. They did not even know what a home was. They were the juvenile scourings of Poland as a result of war. The teacher told us that they presented the toughest possible problem that the teaching profession in Warsaw faced after the war.
A similar type of problem but not so intense was created in this country as a result of the war, and it still persists. A few weeks ago I saw a dyke built by a railway company which had been almost torn to pieces by the boys who live in part of the constituency represented by the hon. and gallant Member for Pollok. Of course, if the police had caught them they would have been tried at court and sentenced as criminals. They had torn down something and yet they were little products of a world which had been bombed and blasted and torn to pieces for six years by adults who doled out amongst themselves medals for creating destruction on an infinitely greater scale than that for which these boys would have been treated as criminals. That spirit is still extant. It is no use saying that the younger generation can be kept apart from this destructive mind which infests society today. If we want to see a reformation in the conduct of youth we ourselves must apply in our lives some of those Christian principles to which the hon. and gallant Member for Perth referred.
There is a further point about the use of these statistics. I invite the hon. and gallant Member for Pollok to take the statistics for Glasgow and to divide them as they apply to Pollokshields and as they apply to my Division. In that analysis, I am sure he will find the effect of the different environment that obtains in my Division, compared with that which obtains in Pollokshields in his own Division. It is no use taking the total 796 statistics; we have to analyse them, and, when we come to analyse them, we see what a tremendous effect environment has in shaping the mind of the child. I take up the point of domestic environment which has been referred to by hon. Members opposite in the suggestion that some of this delinquency is due to lack of parental responsibility. I do not disagree with that, but I would press the matter a little more closely. I would not say that it was so much the lack of parental responsibility as the lack of parental affection. Every child born into this land needs to be loved, and, where love of the child is lacking in the parent or parents, then that child is on the way to crime. I have seen that in application, and I want my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State to keep that in mind when he comes to the curative process so far as child delinquency is concerned.
In Scotland, we have two different types of treatment concerning these young criminals, and I have seen both of them in operation. I have stood in a school—none of these places should be called schools—on the outskirts of Glasgow where the boys and girls were sentenced to a "stretch," as they called it, in the school. They were being treated in exactly the same way as they would have been treated had they been in a school in the city itself, and that, to begin with, is wrong, because if we put these boys into schools and seek to apply to them the regulations of the ordinary school, then the discipline automatically becomes harsher. It cannot be avoided; with every fracture of the regulations, the discipline becomes harsher still.
I have stood in another place in the city of Glasgow, and I mention this because any hon. Member of this House who cares to go there and see for himself will be welcomed. I refer to Lennox Castle Institute. There, we have an entire absence of punishment. The headmaster of that school plays the part of father and mother to every one of these boys and girls. He plays that part in order to substitute in their lives at Lennox Castle that essential affection of which they were deprived in their domestic life, and the difference in the results in the two schools has to be seen to be believed. In the one, there is no punishment; in the other, there is punishment. In the 797 one to which I first referred, all the curative purpose is being destroyed by the method employed; in the other, where punishment is lacking, the school is working successfully, and, in most cases, the boys and girls are going out to be a credit to their city and their country.
§ Mr. Scollan
Will my hon. Friend give way? He raises a very important point on the correction of adolescents, and I would like to ask his opinion on an experience which I actually had, and which the hon. Member for West Fife (Mr. Gallacher) also knows about, in a reformatory school in Paisley. The headmaster there adopted the process which has been applied by the headmaster of Lennox Castle. He had a number of strong healthy boys and he cut out corporal punishment. One day, one of the boys went out of the school—
§ Mr. Scollan
I want my hon. Friend's explanation of this applied principle. One of these boys went to the Provost of the town and passed a slip of paper to him, telling him that the headmaster of the school wanted £5 change. The Provost handed him the £5, and the boy put the slip of paper in his pocket and ran off, locking the door on the outside and taking the key with him.
§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker
I am sorry, but if the hon. Gentleman cannot ask his question quite shortly and in the form of an interruption, I cannot allow him to go on.
§ Mr. Rankin
I have been very generous in the opportunity which I was giving to my hon. Friend, but, in view of the fact that I thought you were ruling him out of Order, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, owing to the length of his interruption, I rose to resume my speech. If you are prepared to permit it, I am perfectly prepared to give way to my hon. Friend.
§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker
If the hon. Member for West Renfrew (Mr. Scollan) understands the difference between an interruption and a speech he may now complete his interruption.
§ Mr. Scollan
Thank you. Mr. Deputy-Speaker. What happened? Immediately 798 the matter was reported to the headmaster of the school, he called all the boys together, and when he explained to them what the boy had done, these young reformed country hooligans shouted "Hooray." What does my hon. Friend call that?
§ Mr. Rankin
It must be obvious to the House that to cite a particular fracture of the regulations which occurred in that system is misleading. This is a system which I know is working well, because I have worked it myself for years, and in all the years in which I have actually worked it I have never had a single example of an incident such as has just been described by my hon. Friend. It may be true—
§ Mr. Rankin
We have exceptions to every rule, and even my hon. Friend very often proves himself to be an exception rather difficult at times to deal with. Perhaps I have gone too fully into certain points raised in the Debate, and have strayed further than was my intention.
I congratulate my right hon. Friend on his speech this afternoon, not merely because of its content, but because of the progressive background which illuminated the whole of it. I believe there will be little disagreement on either side of the House with what I regard as the three main principles of the Bill. My right hon. Friend, I believe, said that there were two principles, but I would say that there were three. First of all there is the protection of society, which is our business; secondly, the prevention of crime, which is also our business; and, thirdly, associated with it, the treatment of the criminal.
The Bill can be further welcomed because it proves that we now recognise in our legislation that the imposing of a sentence, although it may finish the legal aspect of a crime, does not end our responsibility to the individual; that when an individual is sentenced to a period of detention we have only dismissed the legal aspect, and that beyond that there lies a great field of problems—intellectual, spiritual, emotional and physical—that still have to be tackled. I welcome this Bill tonight because I believe it is a progressive attempt to face up to those problems.
799 In Committee we shall have the opportunity to investigate a little more closely some of the things that have been said today because I heard figures given and they do not tally with some of my figures. That matter I will leave for future exploration on the Committee stage. With regard to the probation system, we welcome its extension to the 21s. But if we can apply probation to the 21s, how are we going to refuse to apply it to the 22s?
§ Mr. Rankin
Probation is generally applied, so far as the juvenile and the adolescent are concerned, but in Scotland today probation is applied to only .5 per cent. of cases of adults. I am sure the Bill is welcomed because it gives us the opportunity of extending the application of that probation on the adult side as widely as it is being applied today on the adolescent and juvenile side. In conclusion, I wish to say that I welcome the Bill because I believe it is framed on broad, progressive lines that will be of help in creating a new social atmosphere and a fresher approach to the problem of crime and punishment.
§ 5.44 p.m.
§ Lieut.-Colonel Sir Thomas Moore (Ayr Burghs)
Each speaker today has analysed his reactions to the introduction of this Bill, and I confess that, to a large extent, mine do not agree with most of the speeches to which we have listened. When the Bill was introduced last Session, many of us saw in it opportunities and possibilities for great and very necessary advances in our Scottish criminal system; but, in view of what has happened since, and what the Government have disclosed to us regarding the gravity of our position, it seems to me almost cynical, and certainly somewhat fatuous, to be discussing the hostels, the centres and the homes envisaged in the Bill. If, indeed our financial and economic position is so grave and so grim—as many of us believe it to be—all these splendid and admittedly necessary institutions are merely castles in the air, and will certainly never become facts, at any rate in our time. Will there be the money even to build them, and, once built, will there be the money to run 800 them? I should like whoever is to wind up for the Government to tell us within what reasonable period we may expect any of the basic plans outlined in this Bill to be put into effect.
However, since it has been decided to debate the Bill and to occupy Parliamentary time in doing so, let us examine it in a spirit of hope and determination, and, indeed, prayer, that it will one day be a living and working entity, and that we shall see the benefits which the Bill proposes enjoyed by our people. Happily, it deals with a subject concerning which there is no ideological clash and on which no party venom or argument need arise. As hon. Members will recall, it is of mixed parentage. The first time that a Bill dealing with this subject—on which the present Bill is largely based—was introduced was in 1938, and it was presented to the House by a Tory Home Secretary. It had to be dropped in 1939 owing to the war, and then the English Bill was reintroduced by a Socialist Home Secretary in 1947. Now we have the Scottish child to deal with our peculiarly Scottish problems in 1949.
There are two specific reasons why I welcome this Bill. They are that it clarifies the law and makes the task of our judges easier. I suppose there are many hon. Members who as young men meditated on the career they would like to follow, and many no doubt thought of the law. They saw themselves defending the weak and innocent—a sort of St. George slaying the prosecuting dragon—and equally, no doubt, many looked forward to the final reward of their efforts and to the possibility of being created a judge. I imagine that in most cases the prospect appalled them and that the true and revealing statement which, I understand, has been used by many eminent judges—"There but for the grace of God go I"—caused them to back away from their ambition and to choose some other job which would not demand so much moral courage.
A judge has fearsome responsibilities. He has to have great wisdom, tolerance, experience and judgment, holding as he does the careers, if not actually the lives, of his fellows in his hands. It must be a great source of comfort and consolation to our judges, and also, I think, one of the proudest parts of our Constitution, that they are, or should be, immune from 801 the criticism, animus or even the support of the Executive. That is one of the reasons why I feel I must mention that I, like many other Members, was shocked at the language of the criticism used by the Under-Secretary of State for the Colonies—
§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker
The hon. and gallant Gentleman really must concentrate a good deal more on the general principles in this Bill and not go so wide as he is going.
§ Sir T. Moore
While, of course, accepting your Ruling, I should like to point out that we are discussing a Criminal Justice Bill, and judges are—
§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker
This is a Criminal Justice Bill as it might apply to Scotland some day. It has nothing to do with colonial judges or the Under-Secretary of State for the Colonies.
§ Sir T. Moore
I hope you will forgive me for putting one more point, Mr. Deputy-Speaker. It seemed to me that when I was referring to the protection which our judges have because of their freedom from criticism by the Executive—
§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker
I was listening to the hon. and gallant Gentleman's remarks when he was talking about that, and I thought that he was getting rather wide of the contents of this Bill.
§ Sir T. Moore
Then I shall leave the Under-Secretary to his own rather stupid remarks.
Having tried to analyse the responsibilities of the judge, I ask: what must guide him in giving punishment? Is it to be retribution or reformation? Whatever course he adopts, what effect may his punishment have on the weaker, greedier and more anti-social elements among us who may be falling or likely to fall into crime? There are other factors which are involved. A judge must aim chiefly at interpreting the decisions of Parliament—I will add, heaven help him sometimes when we think of some of the decisions we reach. Therefore, I think this Bill, on which I congratulate the Lord Advocate and the Under-Secretary of State, has succeeded in translating the wishes of Parliament more clearly than any Bill which has been before us for a considerable time. It not only retains 802 provisions for punishment but it is largely reformative in its intentions and purpose. It has its defects, of course, but its authors are human, as I am sure both of them will agree. All the same, I welcome it for the honesty and humanity with which it seeks to make the law suitable to our progress in civilised thought and feeling.
Speaking for myself, I would mention a few of its particularly attractive features for a start. As has been mentioned already, it abolishes penal servitude with that barbarous ticket-of-leave system which seemed to me as if the law was pursuing a devilish vendetta against the victim once he had completed his imprisonment and paid his penalty. I have seen cases of that ticket-of-leave system which has ruined family life, crushed hopes of a normal social life and destroyed the possibility of success in industrial life. One of the biggest achievements of this Bill is the abolition of that system. Mention has also been made of the abolition of the somewhat odd punishment of drawing and quartering in addition to hanging. This process has always seemed to me slightly redundant and certainly somewhat sadistic, at the same time.
I am sure we all specially welcome the treatment of the juvenile offenders in our community. The creation of these remand centres where young people will no longer be subject to vitiating contacts with hardened criminals is possibly one of the second important achievements in the Bill. I would also like to say a word about the atmosphere in these centres and homes. This is one of the most important things which will have to be dealt with. Young people are very impressionable and are very malleable. Indeed, that is possibly why they get to those homes. Friendliness, understanding and sympathy will help, but repulsion and condescention never will. We are all happy and relieved that those whose minds are temporarily or permanently disturbed will receive more humane and intelligent care and attention.
While giving the Bill a warm welcome, I must register one or two protests about its defects. As my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for West Perth (Colonel Gomme-Duncan) has said, crime is increasing both in Scotland and in England, and indeed, even in my own constituency—despite my example, as 803 hon. Members would no doubt like to interject. It was exactly the same after the First World War but not quite to the same extent. As the hon. Member for Tradeston (Mr. Rankin) has said, wars inevitably have such repercussions. The loosening of moral standards, the weakening of home controls and the cheapening of life generally all lead to the same end.
§ Mr. Rankin
The hon. and gallant Gentleman is putting into my mouth a word which I did not use. I do not wonder at these things happening, but I will not say that they are inevitable.
§ Sir T. Moore
I accept the hon. Gentleman's regret for not using the word, but I have used it, so we are all square. We have also a large number of deserters—an almost insoluble problem—wandering round our cities and countryside homeless, lawless, foodless and very often hopeless. It is easy to understand why these criminal tendencies seem to be sweeping our island.
I am now on a note of criticism. I feel it is a particularly inappropriate time to abolish any possibility of applying corporal punishment. I know, of course, that in Scotland it has become almost an obsolete weapon in the hands of our judges, but when the English Bill was being discussed last year in another place the Lord Chief Justice said that it was a good weapon to have in reserve for those whose depravity rendered them immune to any other form of punishment.
§ Mr. Emrys Hughes (South Ayrshire)
Does the hon. and gallant Gentleman advocate the reintroduction of a penalty which has not been used in Scotland for 300 years?
§ Sir T. Moore
I am using as my argument what the Lord Chief Justice said in another place, that it was a good weapon to have in reserve. I think some hon. Members may recall the case of a mother swan which, while hatching her future little family, was stoned to death by some young hooligans. They were charged. What happened? They were fined 5s., not for killing the swan but for 804 stealing the eggs. What ridiculous nonsense. Would it not have been far better, instead of fining them 5s., to have put them across the knee of some well padded housewife and let them have it where it hurts most? Only by bringing home pain and suffering to those who inflict it shall we get rid of that kind of reckless, needless and useless cruelty of which those young lads were guilty.
§ The Lord Advocate (Mr. John Wheatley)
Is the hon. and gallant Gentleman now suggesting that the abolition of whipping, which was carried through by Section 2 of the Criminal Justice Act, 1948, should be repealed? Is that his proposition?
§ Sir T. Moore
Yes. If the right hon. and learned Gentleman had been listening to what I said he would have remembered that I said I think it is a great pity that that weapon, which the Lord Chief Justice thought should be held in reserve, cannot be made available for such exceptional cases of gross cruelty as that disclosed in the case I have just mentioned.
§ The Lord Advocate
Does the hon. and gallant Gentleman know how many cases there were in the 25 years prior to 1948 in which the use of that form of punishment was invoked by the Scottish courts?
§ Sir T. Moore
I do not know, but I am willing to look it up if the right hon. and learned Gentleman wants me to do so. Is it in the Command Paper?
§ Sir T. Moore
That is very comforting news, and I hope the news will be even better in the next 25 years, but I do not think it in any way affects my argument. I am referring to the principle concerned.
There is one point I should like the right hon. Gentleman to consider. Could not something be done to change the name Borstal? That name has a very sinister significance not only to the young inmates themselves but to all their friends and relations. When the English Bill was being discussed this was mentioned. Could they not be called say Paterson Homes in memory of that great Scottish reformer? It would be a very appropriate name and it would do away with something that stinks in the minds and 805 thoughts of all these unhappy young people and their parents.
These are mostly points which can be raised and possibly dealt with in Committee, but I think the Bill is a good skeleton. It is well designed, it is strong and carefully put together, and if it is clothed with wise administration and sympathetic handling from St. Andrews House and by the prison governors and the superintendents of the various homes and remand centres, I believe it will become, what we all hope it will become when it is finally brought into operation, a pronounced and lasting success.
I have already referred to the fact that capital expenditure has been suspended by the Chancellor of the Exchequer and even further restrictions are threatened. That, of course, immediately brings one back to the question, when can we expect all these advantages to be at the disposal of Scotland? When is our criminal system to be reformed on the lines laid down in the Bill? How long shall we have to wait? Can the right hon. Gentleman give some indication? Mention has been made of those who fall by the way, of our responsibility for restoring manhood or womanhood to many who are in danger of losing it and of building a more honourable, more honest and self-reliant community. Yet, with all this skeleton, this framework, on which can be built such a splendid edifice, we are left in the dark as to when we may look forward to the machine being introduced. I therefore ask the right hon. Gentleman to give us some hope that we may expect, at any rate in our time, to see the Bill made a working Measure for the betterment of our community as a whole.
§ 6.4 p.m.
§ Mr. Benson (Chesterfield)
It must be almost unprecedented for two English hon. Members to dare to speak on a Scottish day.
§ Mr. Benson
When I remember the havoc that hon. Members from over the Border, such as the hon. and gallant Member for Ayr Burghs (Sir T. Moore), attempted to wreak upon an English Criminal Justice Bill, I hope Scottish hon. Members will take my intervention in the spirit in which it is intended—that is, of pure retributive justice. This Bill has been commended by the Secretary 806 of State and it has been blessed by every hon. and right hon. Member who has spoken in this Debate today. I do not want to strike a jarring note, but I suggest that if I were to put forward the thesis that this is a very bad Bill and that the bulk of it ought to be withdrawn in Committee, then the Lord Advocate could not produce a single shred of evidence to show that I was wrong. That is because this Bill, apart from the purely administrative Clauses, is based entirely upon guesswork and nothing else. I am glad to note that the hon. and gallant Member for Pollok (Commander Galbraith) agrees with me in that; he himself said it was an act of faith. If I understand the word "faith" it means a belief for which one has no adequate grounds.
This Bill is undoubtedly an act of faith and I challenge the Lord Advocate to produce a shred of concrete evidence to support any one of the new proposals in it. He cannot do so. If he took up my challenge all that he could produce would be the opinions of his advisers. He can produce nothing else. He would say that this Bill is more or less a departmental Bill; it is based upon the experience and the opinions of those people who know most about the matter—Borstal governors, our prison commissioners and those who are working the machine. That is perfectly true. That is what it is based upon, and I suggest that their opinions are based upon guesswork and nothing else for the simple reason that they have no body of carefully collected and carefully correlated facts upon which to go. Their only basis, therefore, is guesswork.
There are many Clauses in this Bill, but I want to take as proof of what I am saying simply the Clause which abolishes the two-year probation sentence. I am quite prepared to admit that to have two different types of probation of sentence is bad and to have one sentence only is better, but why has three years been chosen and not two years? Are there any grounds for it? Has a careful analysis been taken of the effect of the two-year sentence by comparison with the three-year sentence. Have follow-ups been made in some hundreds of cases of boys who received two or three years to find which gives the better result? Not a bit of it. The decision to abolish the two-year sentence instead of the three-year 807 sentence is based upon opinion, and very largely the opinion of Borstal governors who have to run the Borstal system.
The validity of this decision depends on the value of the opinion of Borstal governors and on nothing else. This is a rather important matter, because the value of the opinions that Borstal governors hold not only indicates how completely guesswork is the basis of this Bill but also throws a good deal of light on the power of the courts to make intelligent use of the increased power of sentence which this Bill gives them. I have met a large number of Borstal governors and I have invariably asked them one question. I have said, "When a boy has been with you for about 18 months you have to make up your mind as to what is his possible course of conduct if he is released. You have to decide whether he is likely to go straight or whether he is likely to go wrong. What percentage of correct estimates do you make?" The first Borstal governor I asked said, "Well, what with the number of boys who go wrong who ought to go right and the number of boys who go right who ought to go wrong, I do not think it is more than 50–50."
"In other words," I said to him, "your opinion as to the result of Borstal training would be no more accurate if you tossed up a penny? It is pure guesswork?" And he said, "Yes." As I say, I have asked that question of a very large number of Borstal governors, and I have not yet found one who is prepared to claim that his successes were better than 60 to 40, which is very little better than guesswork. If that is the value of the opinion of Borstal governors, then I say this decision to abolish the two-year instead of the three-year is based upon something which is guesswork and nothing more.
It also throws a very great deal of light on to the working of our courts. The Secretary of State mentioned that under this Bill additional data would be before the courts in order to enable them to make their judgments, in order that they may give wiser sentences. The purpose of the court is, of course, to choose that sentence which is most likely to alter the conduct of the delinquent. How much 808 information have the courts before them as compared with the Borstal governors? The court sees the delinquent for an hour, for a day, possibly for two days—not longer. It has a certain amount of information which is collected by the police and probation officers. Compare that amount of information with the amount the Borstal governor has when he is making the assessment just before the boy comes out. I speak now of English conditions.
When the boy is sentenced to Borstal in this country the first thing that happens is that he goes to Latchmere House Allocation Centre, and there for six weeks he is turned inside out; he is vetted and tested from every possible, conceivable angle. He is checked up by experts, psychologically if necessary, and then a very comprehensive dossier is sent along with him to the chosen Borstal, which is, of course, at the disposal of the Borstal governor. The Borstal governor then lives with him for 18 months, and it is his duty to get to know the lad. With all that detailed information, with that 18 months' experience of the lad, what is the value of the opinion of the Borstal governor? I have already told what is the opinion of the Borstal governors I have asked as to their chances of making an assessment of the effect of that Borstal sentence.
But there is one very great difference between the court and the Borstal governor. The latter is making an assessment after the sentence has been served. That is an enormous advantage. The court is making an assessment on infinitely less information and experience of the lad, before the sentence is served. Is it suggested that the court has better chances of being right, of assessing the type of sentence that ought to be passed? To do that it has to assess, with the Borstal governor, of course, the effect of the sentence.
The basis of the sentence of the court is guesswork, just as the basis of the assessment of the Borstal governor is guesswork. As soon as guilt has been found—and up to that point no one can criticise our judicial system—but as soon as guilt has been found we get away from the hard, rigid, logical approach to guesswork and emotion. The Prison Commissioners are just as much in the dark in the handling of delinquents as the courts are in passing sentence, because 809 there is no correlated body of knowledge to help them to form a rational, intellectual judgment. As I say, I challenge the Lord Advocate to produce one shred of rational evidence, convincing evidence, for a single alteration in the law—apart from administrative alterations—in the Clauses of this Bill.
There is one Clause which justifies the Bill up to the hilt. It is not even a Clause. It is a subsection, and that is Clause 70 (3 f) which gives the Secretary of State power to spend money upon research into the causes and into the treatment of delinquents.
§ Mr. Benson
We have not any limitation in our English Measure. But let me point out that if you in Scotland spend £1,000 a year it is £1,000 more than you have ever spent before. Fortunately, we have some very clear guidance as to the line along which research must go. For many years now—for nearly 30 years—research has been going on in the United States of America connected with the name of Sheldon Glueck, of Columbia University, and there has also been parallel research by Healey and Bonner, which shows quite conclusively that it is possible to get away from the basis of guesswork, upon which our penal system is based, and to apply what I may call in broad terms the scientific method.
I am not going to attempt to explain what these American researchers have discovered, or the results of their work. It is far too complicated. However, they have shown that we can apply a scientific method of penology, and hon. Members will find the Gluecks' works in our own Library—though I warn them they are stiff going.
The tragedy is that nothing has been done in this country or in Scotland of a similar character. The research work involved is a matter of years. However, as I say, the work that has been done in America is a pointer. We know the line along which we can go, and if the Secretary of State of Scotland in Scotland will spend his miserable £1,000 a year upon investigation and upon research, and if the Home Secretary in England will spend the—fortunately unlimited—sums that he can spend on research, 810 then, though he will not be able to spend much because we have not the researchers, we shall be able to get away from the fantastic situation that we base the whole of our treatment of delinquents, from the time that they are found guilt until after the serving of the sentence,, and their release, upon nothing but ignorant and uninformed guesswork.
§ 6.20 p.m.
§ Mr. McFarlane (Glasgow, Camlachie)
When I first came to consider this Bill, in the brief study which I was able to give to it, I concluded that this was a field best left to those experienced in criminal law or to those who had devoted a lifetime of interest to penal reform. I am certain that the hon. Member for Chesterfield (Mr. Benson) is one of those. I do not think that he will expect me to follow him into the profundities of penal reform. On the contrary, my approach is entirely that of a layman who is deeply concerned, as we all are both in and out of this House, with the results and consequences of such a Bill as this.
We are concerned to ensure that the effectiveness of the law is not impaired, and we have an acute anxiety that the community is afforded the maximum protection. The hon. Member for Tradeston (Mr. Rankin), in speaking of the views that my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Pollak (Commander Galbraith) expressed on the serious increase in crime, said that was because we had, if I express him correctly, still a very large measure of punishment in this field. The Secretary of State for Scotland also spoke of this Bill as being a new approach. I think that, from my reading of it, the Bill very largely codifies methods, treatments, and practices which have been in existence and growing gradually for many decades—that retribution and punishment should be increasingly disregarded and ameliorative treatment should take its place, as has been practised very largely in this country in all our institutions and in all our methods for a very large number of years.
I think that it must be agreed that this Bill codifies that position and elaborates it very much on the same lines as those which have been followed in the past. It certainly establishes much more elaborate 811 machinery, but the general framework of probation, Borstal, remand and prison reform remain in the Bill largely on the lines which we have been progressively developing over a great number of years. The preponderating emphasis has undoubtedly been upon the treatment of the young offender. I think that I am right in saying that the ultimate ideal of penal reform is the correction and reformation of youth, so that we can secure an ever-diminishing class of habitual and hardened criminals. I, like all Members on both sides of the House, welcome the Bill for the contribution which it makes towards that end.
I regret, as so many hon. Members have done, the physical limitations of the times in which we live, and I do this specially with a view to the grievous conditions of the mentally defective and the insane. It is notorious in Scotland, more especially as a result of recent researches which have been conducted in my own part of the country, that there is an utter and complete inadequacy of even elementary accommodation for those who are so deplorably afflicted.
If I welcome this Bill, I must confess with my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Pollok that I recognise a very disquieting background. Evidence has been given of the growth of serious crime and the growing number of the prison population. I notice that in the very full report of the Commissioners for the English Prisons that they state:In 1948 the daily average population was 19,765: in July of that year it reached 20,000, and although it has since remained stable at about that level, there is reason to believe that it may yet go higher. Populations of this order have not been known since 1911.Many Members in this Debate, on the broad lines on which it has been approached, have tried to account for this circumstance by the aftermath of War, and lack of parental control. There is undoubtedly a great deal of point and value in those observations, but I would say that we have enjoyed—if I can put it in that way—a period of full employment and relative economic stability, and it certainly must be a matter of acute anxiety to every one of us, if we enter more difficult and uncertain times in the economic sense, what the consequence will be on the criminal statistics. I venture to suggest that the important 812 procedure in this Bill must undoubtedly lie in the Committee stage and that Members of this House will have to give full recognition to some very unpalatable facts.
The hon. Member for Chesterfield spoke of guesswork in the matter of determining the value of results. Probation has long been tried in this country. We have had probation for about 40 years, and I recognise, what was new to me, that as the Secretary of State said, we had not used probation in Scotland as largely as it had been used in England. I should like to point out some figures in the report of the prison statistics which are to me an exceedingly disquieting reflection on all the effort that has been made of an ameliorative and remedial type. On page 35, in reference to previous convictions of those who enter Borstal, it is pointed out that of a total of 2,051, only 53 had no previous convictions, and for the rest, 268 had one conviction, 416 two convictions, 1,031, three to five convictions, 277, six to ten convictions, and six had above ten convictions.
When we consider the effort that has been lavished, wisely. I think, upon juvenile delinquency, it is a very serious reflection that that is the only evidence that we can afford at the moment of its comparative success, and that is exceedingly disquieting. I have a very limited experience of probation, but in my own little world I have come up against it in business and I have found this great weakness in its administration in Scotland, that invariably the culprit thinks that he is being let off. There is no doubt about that. When he is put on probation he seems to associate that with a vindication of his innocence and acts accordingly. I think that when we come in Committee to these new proposals we shall have to study from this point of view the retention centres which the Secretary of State associated with the introduction of sharp discipline. We shall certainly have to study this matter with very serious scrutiny, always recollecting this unfortunate and melancholy background.
The hon. Member for Chesterfield spoke of Borstal. Again I regret that so far as Scottish statistics are concerned, there is a certain inadequacy. When we turn to the English statistics we find that, while the Commissioners say 813 that only a very thorough and complete examination of reconvictions and the actual method of assessment can be conclusive, they also say it is clear that only a little more than half do not come back again on reconviction. That again is a matter for reflection as to the success of the Borstal system. In these matters, expressing my own view with the utmost sincerity, I would say that what perplexes the ordinary citizen is the growing liberality of treatment—although we do not dispute its value over all these years—and the disappointing results. It is to that theme that the House must address itself on this Criminal Justice Bill, and I think we must always have in the background the idea that anything of a restraining or punitive nature must be such that those who suffer a period of detention resolve never to come back into such an institution.
§ 6.31 p.m.
§ Mr. William Ross (Kilmarnock)
The hon. Member for the Camlachie (Mr. McFarlane) struck the right note when he drew attention to the need for properly balancing the factors that must enter into our considerations when framing a Criminal Jusice Bill. We must take into consideration the very natural fears of the general public, who may feel that people who are in essence enemies of the public are being treated far too lightly. At the same time, there must be set against the possibility of reform the fact that the punishment may be far too severe. I think that on the whole this Bill balances those factors very well, and the slight change of emphasis towards reformation and insistence on making an effort to reclaim, particularly young lads, is one that is well worth while.
The opposition to the Bill that was voiced by my intrepid English friend—
§ Mr. Benson
I hope the hon. Gentleman will not misrepresent me. I did not oppose the Bill. I did not say that it was a bad Bill. I said there was no evidence that it was a good Bill. My guess is that it is a good Bill; but it is only a guess.
§ Mr. Ross
I am beginning to realise more and more how true is the Scottish appreciation of the glibness of English tongues, because every Scotsman who 814 listened to the hon. Gentleman was convinced that he was not entirely satisfied with the Bill. I heard him mention only one good thing in the Bill, and that was only a subsection. He claimed, first of all, that the Borstal system, against which he set no good alternative—certainly no detailed alternative—was purely a matter of guesswork. He also claimed that the reports under which the authorities decide whether or not the offender after conviction should be sent to Borstal are again guesswork.
When we consider subsections (3) and (4) of Clause 19, I do not think that that opinion is entirely justified, because before a sentence of Borstal training is passed the court calls for a report on the physical and mental powers. It does not end there, because when the report is considered the court, if it thinks necessary, can send for any person, who is either concerned in the report, or mentioned in the report, or can add to the report, for a further examination. Taking into consideration the gravity with which the authorities in Scotland—I do not know what they may be like in England—look upon the question of young offenders, I think that they will certainly not lightly disregard considerations as to the effect of the two types of punishment.
Again, I think the hon. Member for Chesterfield (Mr. Benson) failed to take into consideration the fact that, as far as the Bill itself is concerned, the alternative to a Borstal sentence is actual imprisonment. I feel that, whether or not there is guesswork as he suggests, there is no guesswork in the conclusion that the less humane and less reformative means of punishment have failed to stem the march of crime.
As the hon. and gallant Member for Pollok (Commander Galbraith) pointed out, crime does march on, although I think it was probably in jest that he suggested that we should take a certain amount of blame for the fact that it has marched on since 1945. The trend is very obvious. The trend of crime starts in 1939. My hon. Friend the Member for Tradeston (Mr. Rankin) pointed out that a lamentable, if natural, reaction from the war was the break-up of family life and the lack of parental control, occasioned by parents going into the Army, and in many cases by mothers going into factories.
815 The steps that have been taken to widen the scope of punishment for young offenders is something that we should support. The fact that there will be no imprisonment at all for young people under 17 should gratify most of us who feel that it really does not help the reformation of criminal tendencies to send young people of that age to mix with hardened offenders. Similarly, with those under 21, it will only be in exceptional circumstances that imprisonment as we know it, and as we do not like it for its effects on these young people, will be imposed. Prison is the last place to send any young offender if we want to have him reformed, and given the conditions of prisons today as described by the hon. and gallant Member for Perth and Kinross (Colonel Gomme-Duncan), where there is overcrowding and a freer mixing of prisoners, the deleterious effects would be even worse. We should-therefore be grateful for this step.
Remand homes and State remand centres, as well as the extension of the work of probation officers, will not in themselves bring the beneficial effects we desire unless these remand homes are very carefully supervised and the work done in them of a character which will lead to the rehabilitation of these young lads. In Committee we must spend a little more time looking into this question. The hon. Member for Chesterfield might help us there, because evidently he has studied the problem and has more experience of it than we have. We must see that we get the right probation officers as well as the right people to run these homes. I would only observe that it means more work for the probation officers, and I hope the Lord Advocate will note that at the present moment many probation officers in Scotland cannot even get a motorcar to go round doing their work, because they are granted no priority.
We have to be careful that the continued segregation in these remand homes and remand centres does not produce the same evils as prison segregation. Control depends upon the staff, and discipline must be imposed, because we do not want a complete softening up and relaxation of discipline. I mean real discipline. I should like to go on to discuss this question as raised by the hon. and gallant Member for Pollok, but I think it 816 is more suitable for an education debate than one on a Criminal Justice Bill. Reeducation with a view to making them useful citizens is desirable, and we now have the chance. The whole thing is obviously symptomatic of much more deeply rooted diseases to which we as Members of Parliament must direct our attention.
§ 6.40 p.m.
§ Mr. Henderson Stewart (Fife, East)
This Bill is concerned for the most part with the reform and punishment of those who have committed crimes and offences. To bring about the enlightened changes that are proposed here will take, even in the best circumstances, a long time, and in our present circumstances a much longer time. Therefore, the reaction of this Bill upon me is that while it is a very fine Measure on paper, it will not have very much effect at present upon the lessening of crime. This, apparently, is not the way by which we are to reduce quickly this dreadful toll of crime—it may do so ultimately, but not quickly. I am much concerned to find ways and means to reduce it quickly, which brings me to the third thought which has been in the minds of most Members, namely, prevention of crime. We are almost forced to look at that, because if we can somehow prevent crime we may reduce it much more quickly. What causes crime is the question we ought to ask ourselves, because if we know the causes of crime it will help us greatly in dealing with it.
There is no doubt that one of the causes of crime, certainly among young people, is bad housing. We cannot escape that. No one who like myself has had constituency responsibilities for nearly 17 years can fail to have seen the results of two, three and even five families cramped up together in one or two rooms, driven by physical circumstances away from their fireside at night into the streets. That upsets the whole mental and moral outlook of young people, and until we can remove this cause we shall always have a measure of juvenile delinquency. There is no doubt that poverty and unemployment have also been responsible for crime in the past, but we have no poverty now and we have very little unemployment, although we still have crime—more crime, in fact, among young people than ever before. Therefore, I am thrown back to housing as being the most important cause of all.
817 But there are other causes, as I have found from my own experience. We had better not be mealy-mouthed about this. The fact is that there are a great many parents of humble families and other families who are lamentably incapable of managing their households, and particularly the mothers. I am sure Members have come across many cases where the young mother is making a real mess of the whole business through sheer ignorance. She is not cooking food properly, or managing the home, her children or her husband properly, and there is trouble in consequence. There are still more parents who have not learnt what should be a fundamental lesson in parenthood, namely, how to teach children reasonable and decent manners. That "manners makyth man" is as old as the world. Have we not all come across many cases where ill-mannered children almost automatically run into trouble which had they been better mannered, they would have avoided?
Then, as has been said, how many more families are there which lack the Christian virtues of honesty, unselfishness and truth, with the result that children are lead into trouble? Of course, some men and some families are evil; it will no doubt be agreed that some clans were evil in other days.
§ Mr. Henderson Stewart
I should not like to suggest that the Labour Party is more responsible in this respect than the rest of us, but I hope the hon. Member will not tempt me too far. Some people are incorrigible, and we cannot obviously deal with them. An evil man ought to be locked up; there is no other way. But I am concerned with the great mass of young people who are lead by environment into a great deal of trouble and what we can do about it.
At the present time the Secretary of State is limited in the amount of new housing he can provide for the country, and unless I am mistaken, he is to be limited a bit more after Monday—at least, we shall not expect a great advance. If I were the Secretary of State, I should make dead certain of sufficient housing being provided in Scotland for the police, because if the police are properly housed we shall have an immediate increase in the prevention of crime. I have gone into 818 this, and I am absolutely certain that a lot of trouble is due to this in the city of which we are speaking. I do not think anyone will deny that a great deal of the crime in Edinburgh and other parts of the country is also due to the fact that there are not enough houses for the police. Not a great deal can be done to improve the housing of the people, but the Secretary of State can do quite a lot in other directions.
A lot of the trouble of junior delinquency is to be found in the homes of comparatively young married couples. They have not been well taught at school. I was a member of the advisory council on education, and as the right hon. Gentleman knows we went into this matter among others. We were all impressed, I think, by the fact that sufficient opportunity is not provided in the schools for young girls to learn how to run a home. There is ample opportunity to learn French and English, all of which is very important, but a fundamental of human family happiness is the capacity to run a home sensibly. The Secretary of State might start now, as it will not be very expensive and need not take much time—
§ Mr. Henderson Stewart
The Secretary of State could start now greatly extending the education offered to girls in school in the management of the home. I do not mean only cooking, but all the housework of the home, which would do a great deal of good. I am wondering whether the right hon. Gentleman would not consider again some more rapid approach to the junior colleges. I have told the House more than once, and I stand by my opinion now, that it would have been far better for Scottish children as a whole if, a year or two ago, we had chosen to extend the system of junior colleges instead of raising the school-leaving age. I am certain that on balance it would have paid us, but we chose otherwise. Cannot the Secretary of State extend this principle of continued education to help keep young people of 15, 16 or 17 off the streets and put them where they can learn something?
§ Mr. Woodburn
It has been calculated that to build a junior college would take labour and material equivalent to the building of 200 houses. Does the hon. 819 Gentleman think that any local authority at the moment would dare to build a junior college at the expense of 200 houses? Something much less elaborate than that would have to be done.
§ Mr. Henderson Stewart
Yes, I agree that it would have to be less elaborate but, after all, the right hon. Gentleman increased the school-leaving age and added to the number of pupils schools have to take; he imposed on local authorities the duty of greatly increasing their accommodation. His answer does not quite meet my point. I say that something should be done now to extend the system of what, in the old days, we used to call evening classes. Now they are evening classes in a new sense.
There is a third thing which I believe the right hon. Gentleman could do. I was speaking about Christian principles, and although I do not want to make heavy weather of this, I believe it is the lack of Christian principles which is the cause of much of the trouble today. I should like to know how closely the right hon. Gentleman is in touch with the Church of Scotland in this matter. At the moment we have a Moderator of the Church of Scotland who is a man of great vision, whose mind goes far outside the confines of the Church of Scotland and who has a broad conception of the duties and interests of the Church. There is a great opportunity for the right hon. Gentleman to consult the Moderator and see whether Church and State cannot bring a new spiritual urge into this matter. Something could be done now; it does not need great buildings or expenditure, or a 5- or 10- year plan. It could be done this year or next. It is along these lines that we must approach this problem, because no other lines are open to us in our present economic circumstances. We should do our utmost to reduce juvenile crime in our country so that we can all gradually move into a better behaved community.
§ 6.54 p.m.
§ Mr. Scollan (Renfrew, Western)
There are two points I should like to put to the Lord Advocate before dealing generally with the Bill. Clause 28 says:For the removal of doubts it is hereby declared that a person may be convicted of, and punished for, a contravention of any statute or order, notwithstanding that he was guilty of such contravention as art and part only.820 The term "art and part" is very elastic. If a person is quite innocently in the company of another person why may be guilty of a particular crime, it could be said that he took art and part in it. I should like to know what is implied by this provision, and whether the Lord Advocate does not think it is high time that it was removed from Scottish law altogether?
I also want to ask about rules for the management of prisons, etc. Clause 49 (2) says:Rules made under this section shall make provision for ensuring that a person who is charged with any offence under the rules shall be given a proper opportunity of presenting his case.Assuming that a prisoner has broken a rule, and is brought before the governor or commissioners, will he have the right to call witnesses, such as fellow prisoners, in his defence? Will he have the right of representation? If there is to be some kind of trial, either the governor has to be given complete power or there must be provision for the rights that are given in the case of an ordinary trial.
During this interesting discussion we have heard a lot about juvenile crime. For some years I was a magistrate in the City of Glasgow, and I was often pained at the number of juvenile cases which were brought before the bench. Not always, but very frequently, we discovered that the root cause of the trouble was in the offender's home. I realise, however, how difficult it would be to find an immediate and lasting cure. I have read "Crime and Punishment," by Dostoievsky, and "It is never too late to mend," by Charles Reade, who was responsible for prison reform in the days of the treadmill. I also discussed this matter some years ago with the late Chief Constable of Glasgow, Mr. Warren who said, "So long as offenders have never been in prison they have a fear of it, and that tends to hold them back. But once they have served a term of imprisonment they come out and say, 'It is all right; I did it on my ear.'" I agreed with that statement. Instead of prison preventing people from going further along the wrong road it results in contempt for reformatory measures.
One thing that struck me as a magistrate was that crimes against property resulted in stiff penalties while the penalties for crimes against a person were often ludicrous. We remember the 821 cases of razor slashing and men clubbing each other with bottles. I could quote cases in my own city where the punishment for these offences was ridiculous. Often, decent working-class citizens were in danger. In fact, in some districts people were afraid to give evidence against offenders of a violent disposition, who were ready to use physical force without provocation against would-be witnesses. It is very difficult to know what to do in these cases.
My hon. Friend the Member for Chesterfield (Mr. Benson) brought up the old gag, which I thought was buried 30 years ago, about the phrenologist finding out by the shape of the head whether a person had criminal tendencies or not, and he added that it was being used in America. He also spoke about the criminal type. That suggestion was exploded a long time ago. There is no such thing as a criminal type. The potential criminal is anyone in society today. If a man becomes a housebreaker or a burglar he deliberately does it because, though he knows it is a gamble, he thinks if it comes off, he can live a better life than the ordinary working man, and if it does not come off, it is not too bad inside. That is the psychology of the position. We hear about a set type of criminal, a principle that seems to be accepted by the people of America, and it is argued that that type will go that way anyway irrespective of what is done for them. That type of fatalistic nonsense has got to be exploded. Statistics do not always prove anything, but one thing they do prove is that, if we take the percentage of those with a criminal tendency, we see that the thing becomes ridiculous.
So far as treating prisoners in a more humane fashion is concerned, we have to remember that at one time society punished its criminals only by corporal punishment. Then the citizen grew more civilised, and only those who were more vicious in their actions against society were incarcerated in prison. That brings us to the point where we find a new idea developing. I have listened with very great interest to criticisms of this new idea which is an open air prison. In one part of the world they have adopted the scheme whereby those who break a certain code of laws in that country shall be lifted by the scruff of the neck and 822 placed in another part of the country to do useful work instead of being incarcerated in prison.
We are gradually passing from the old way of dealing with crime and punishment. I believe that the main cause of the trouble with our adolescents in Scotland is that from 14 to 18 years of age they have nothing to do in their spare time. Would it not be better if someone got down to the question of the innumerable important jobs which have to be done in the country and for which labour cannot be procured, and take these youths for those jobs? A question was asked in the House the other day, and the answer given by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Colonies was to the effect that certain steps were taken because the prisons were overcrowded in a certain Colony. Everybody seemed surprised at that. I drew the attention of the House to the fact that there has been a campaign going on against Russia, because that country has done exactly the same thing.
We have to face the question of whether the old penal method we knew in our lifetime is better than the one which was in existence prior to it, remembering that the one prior to it was purely corporal punishment. Chief Constable Warren said to me on one occasion that if he had had his way when a first offender went into custody he would receive a short, sharp lesson, and would come out in a day or two's time never wanting to go back. I am inclined to agree with that. That is a point to consider instead of incarcerating them in a Borstal institution. Let us not forget that the finest men in the world can be employed in Borstal to teach those incarcerated about love, their duty as citizens and all the rest of it, but it will not make any difference when these high-spirited youngsters congregate together without anything useful to do. Then it will be found that they will develop that very disease which the State is trying to cure. They must be kept within the bounds and the nature of their punishment must be to do something useful. If something is done on those lines, we would have much greater progress today in the crusade of putting down juvenile and adolescent crime.
My last words are to the Lord Advocate. While accepting the present 823 system, I sincerely hope the time will come when we shall be prepared to examine some new creative system which will revolutionise the whole business, and get rid of those who think it is far more cruel to steal 20 years off a man's life than it is to hang him.
§ 7.8 p.m.
§ Mr. Willis (Edinburgh, North)
I welcome the ideas underlying this Bill. To emphasise the point of trying to reform the criminal, particularly the youthful offender, is very desirable, but in looking over this Bill I am rather uneasy. When this Bill has been in operation for a time we shall have more people in institutions than we have today. We are to have remand centres, detention centres, approved probation homes and hostels, which will all be additional, and we are to have an increase in the Borstal population. At the end of it we are likely to have an increase in the prison population. There seems to me to be something wrong with this Bill if that is going to be the actual result.
We have heard a lot today about the increase in crime, and particularly of crime amongst adolescents. There are quite good reasons for this. Many of them have been given in the course of this Debate. I am not so certain that the hon. Member for East Fife (Mr. Henderson Stewart) was quite right when he talked about the influence of the home. If it is true that that is one of the most important causes then it would suggest that the parent of today is a worse parent than the parent of 20 or 30 years ago. I do not think that that is so.
I should have thought that the most important factor in the lives of these children, who are now 15 or 16 years of age, is that for six of the most formative years of their lives their fathers were away. That means that there was an enormous lack of influence in their lives at a very important time. A child gets out of hand and his mother is incapable of dealing with him, particularly if he is a boy because he has got too big. He is also surrounded, as was said by my hon. Friend the Member for Tradeston (Mr. Rankin), with all the glamour of war. He is taught that it is a great thing to smack somebody on the back of the neck or indulge in some other dodge and he gets a rather queer outlook upon society.
824 I should have thought that the attention the problem is receiving from organisations such as the Churches and youth societies would bring about a diminution in youthful crime. We ought to be looking forward not to an increase but to a decrease in crime, as are many people to whom I have spoken on this matter. We are to treat youthful offenders along the lines suggested by the Bill. The success of that treatment should mean a decreased demand for prison accommodation, yet we are to have an extra prison and more accommodation. It is suggested that more offenders will require accommodation in prisons under the provisions relating to corrective and preventive detention. The hon. Member for Rugby (Mr. W. J. Brown) suggested that the provisions of the Bill would, in themselves, be the greatest deterrent to crime. I have sympathy with that view. If the sentences which can be imposed under the Bill are to be worth while, they should be a deterrent, and we should have fewer criminals still.
I am puzzled, because while, on all those grounds, there should be an automatic decrease in adolescent crime, we are asked for increased prison accommodation. We are supposed to be taking steps to deal with crime in a way that will turn youthful offenders into good citizens. It is exceedingly puzzling, to say the least of it, and I would like the Minister to give us information on how the results he expects are to be arrived at. The interesting thing is the statement that the increased demand for prison accommodation which is expected as a result of the Bill will not show itself until several years after the Bill has come into operation. This matter requires explanation. If the Bill is as good as it ought to be and as hon. Members have said it is, we ought to require less prison accommodation. If the Bill does not achieve that result, it will be a failure.
§ 7.14 p.m.
§ Lieut.-Colonel Elliot (Scottish Universities)
I do not think it can be denied that we have had a most interesting Debate. It is odd how this House can produce Members of high experience in almost every subject and at very short notice. This Debate upon criminal justice has been taken part in by my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Perth and Kinross (Colonel Gomme-Duncan) 825 who has been an inspector of prisons, by the chairman of the Howard League for Penal Reform, by an hon. Member with great experience in the organisation of prison officers, the hon. Member for Rugby (Mr. W. J. Brown), and, in addition, by ordinary citizens, whose attitude to this matter is perhaps more important than that of any of the experts. They are the people with a positive contribution to make, such as my hon. Friend the Member for Camlachie (Mr. McFarlane). We have also had some of the robust common sense of the hon. Member for Western Renfrew (Mr. Scollan).
This is all the more important, because today is one of those days when the community is in an unhappy mood. We are reviewing our failures. That is what is overhanging our discussion. More particularly, we are reviewing a more recent failure: the treatment of crime is constantly becoming more humane, yet the number of persons in detention is constantly increasing. Something is going wrong. Obviously we are not merely studying the general phenomenon of the failure of the community to cope with certain individuals but an increasing failure in certain other respects. The Bill is largely one of organisation and machinery and it will have its effect solely upon the individuals whom it attracts into the treatment of this intractable problem.
I do not believe that this problem will be solved by the scientific researches mentioned by the hon. Member for Chesterfield (Mr. Benson). With all respect to him, I say that what he said to the House was that this subject had been investigated, not here but in America, a country of such films as "I was a prisoner in a chain gang," and novels or biographies which would make one think there was a wide field for improvement in some of the treatments of offenders in the United States. The difficulty was that although the hon. Member suggested that the methods of treatment had achieved most valuable results, which would point the way to new methods of advance, "those methods," said the hon. Member in effect, "are so recondite that I could not give the House even an inkling of what they are." Methods which are too recondite for the hon. Member for Chesterfield, who has a great gift of exposition, are 826 not so hopeful as he would have us believe.
§ Mr. Benson
I hope the right hon. and gallant Gentleman will realise that I am an interloper in this Debate. I had already spoken for a quarter of an hour. If the House could have put up with me for an hour I could have explained them.
§ Lieut.-Colonel Elliot
No hon. Member is an interloper in our Debates. We are more than glad to have advice and counsel from any quarter, especially in this matter, which affects not only the part of the country north of the Border. The prison population there is not drawn from only one section of the United Kingdom. There is a floating population even there. Secondly, and this is more important, if it would take the hon. Member an hour to explain the matter to a fairly intelligent audience such as this, with a certain amount of specialised knowledge, what is the chance of the ordinary man understanding it at all?
I think that the hon. Member for Chesterfield sought to prove too much. He asked: What is the use of a system in which the court is at a great disadvantage, in which the Borstal governor has a six weeks' vetting of a boy and then an 18 months' knowledge of him, after which his estimate of the probable chances of the boy's recovery is such as could be expressed by the tossing up of a penny and guessing "heads" or "tails"? The logical conclusion to that is that the court might as well do that in the beginning without this process. This is somewhat too paradoxical for the hon. Member for Chesterfield seriously to advance.
I agree with the hon. Member for West Renfrew that this is not a matter which can be solved by statistics or research. We cannot analyse the instrument by the instrument. We cannot dissect the mind by the mind. We cannot carry out these complicated researches because the research reagent is being altered by the things it is doing just as much as the object upon which the research is being carried out. I distrust these matters. I believe we have to fall back on rule of thumb here, and I do not seriously believe that the line of argument put forward by the hon. Member for Chesterfield is one which, for a long time to come at any rate, will be 827 of any very great advantage to those who are discussing this difficult and intractable problem.
We therefore have before us a problem which is being examined both north and south of the Border. This Bill has a parallel in the English Bill, and, if I may address myself to the Lord Advocate, I understand that the differences between the two Bills are some half dozen in number. This Debate will go on record and it is desirable that we should be able to compare the two approaches. I do not believe that they differ very much. In England, I understand, the court must convict before making a probationer discharge order, but in the Scottish Bill no conviction is recorded in the case of summary jurisdiction. No doubt the Lord Advocate will give the reason for that.
In England stipendiary magistrates and all petty sessional courts and courts of quarter sessions who desire for exceptional reasons to send young persons under 21 to prison must state their reason in writing for adopting this course. I understand that this is not provided for in the Scottish Bill, although it may become the practice.
Thirdly, the Scottish Bill makes no provision for attendance centres for young people, which were introduced into the English Act by Lord Templewood. Fourthly, in England the court can order a defendant to pay damages for injury or compensation for loss. There is no power under existing Scottish criminal law to award costs against an offender. If anybody desires to claim damages, I understand that he has subsequently to take proceedings in the civil court.
Fifthly, in the Scottish Bill security for good behaviour by a probationer who is a child can only be given by a parent or guardian, whereas in England it can be given by any person who consents to give it. There may be advantages in that, but, again, that is a point upon which the House would like information from the Lord Advocate. Lastly, there is a division in legal opinion about the words:Proceedings on indictment against bodies corporate.I understand that Lord Normand and Lord Reid took different views about the 828 meaning of this. Anything on which Lord Normand and Lord Reid differ is obviously a matter which we should approach with the greatest trepidation.
These are obviously minor differences. The broad problem remains the same. The broad problem remains that we have this rising prison population and the rising number of cases of crime. I once worked out that house-breaking, burglary and theft had become one of the major heavy industries of the country 'and that the output of the offences against property in London in a year was about equal to the shipbuilding output of the Clyde. That is a formidable figure. It shows that it is a large industry, and in some ways it backs up the opinion of the hon. Member for West Renfrew that some people have chosen this way of life because they think it is a good chance, if they are willing to risk it, and feel that it is not so bad if they have to go inside, which, incidentally, is a strong argument against prison reform at all.
There is also the difficulty of the liberalisation not producing its corresponding diminution. The hon. Member for North Edinburgh (Mr. Willis) said very truly that we should be looking forward to a diminution of the prison population. Obviously they are the worst misfits of all when you can do nothing with men except lock them up and deprive them of the opportunity even of contributing to the upkeep of society, let alone of improving themselves. Then we reach the last stage. As has been said during the Debate, to lock a man up for 20 years may in some ways be as grave as, or graver than, taking his life because we damage him irreparably. We have an example in point because before the war commenced all prisoners with less than three months to serve and all the Borstal inmates who had served not less than six months of their detention were discharged unconditionally. That was partly to minimise the dangers from air-raids, etc., and the prison populations were thereby reduced.
That did not last very long; the number of prisoners has been rising steadily. In 1939 there were 1,350, in 1940, 1,320, in 1941, 1,337, in 1942, 1559, in 1945, 1,955, in 1946, 1,983, in 1947, 1,889 and in 1948, 1,902. That is a graph which runs contrary to the satisfactory social 829 graphs in other aspects of our national life with which we are all pleased. People say that this is due to broken homes and the lack of parental control but what becomes of the arguments about the improved health of the children and the decreasing maternal mortality. It is a very odd thing that the same set of facts are used in relation to an increased wave of crime and the increased healthiness of the citizens.
§ Lieut.-Colonel Elliot
It is an odd thing that that should lead to an increase in crime. That goes contrary to the argument which has usually been adduced. I am always a little doubtful about that.
§ Lieut.-Colonel Elliot
Not quite. If it is true that the abolition of poverty leads to a diminution in crime, the saintliest of our characters should be the club-men of the West End. That is not always true. Poverty does not always go with crime. If so it would have been a very bad look-out for the Twelve Apostles. It is a more recondite problem than this.
We are gradually being driven quite against our will to a conviction of the existence of evil, a revolutionary thought. The idea of the nineteenth century that there was no such thing as evil and that things would get better and better until sin and sorrow disappeared is not borne out by fact. There is something different in life, or in that outside life which we do not know; certainly there is something very resistant, tough and stubborn which is certainly not to be dismissed simply by humanitarian methods.
There are certain immediate steps which can obviously be taken. It has been said that one lamp-post is worth 10 policemen. That is a very good maxim. Prevention is better than cure. There is no doubt that the large places are almost invitations to offences against property, not to speak of other offences. As I have said, the diminished number of police in the Metropolitan and all other areas is almost an invitation to crime. That leads me to the point made by the hon. Member for Rugby (Mr. W. J. Brown) and others, that the conditions both of the police and of the prison 830 officers must receive the close attention of the Secretary of State, because it has been proved by experience that they diminish crime.
The one way of diminishing crime is the certainty of detection. If the ordinary criminal thinks he will be detected, it is a great deal more effective as a deterrent than the fear of the punishment he will receive if by chance he is caught. Therefore, to diminish it I would attach more importance to adequate policing than to some of the remedies which have been brought forward, such as education. I rather doubt the holding up of the school as the sole forum in which civic virtues can be inculcated.
Again, housing is of much greater importance and there are one or two suggestions one might make there. For instance, does it not seem anomalous that in Duke Street in the heart of Glasgow there is one of the most thinly populated areas, far more thinly populated than the most wealthy of the districts represented by my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Pollok (Commander Galbraith)? There are seven acres with eight people to the acre on them living in the heart of an area with a population of 100 or 200 to the acre all round—the prison of Duke Street. In my time I was anxious to get that prison pulled down and housing started on that site—
§ Lieut.-Colonel Elliot
—and it would have been done if war had not broken out. Now, however, the war is over, and those who talk so much about facing the future might face the present. One of the present things is that every time that one takes a tram down Duke Street one sees this sterilised area sitting in the middle of the slum which produces prisoners to go into that prison.
A vigorous campaign might be launched, and when the Secretary of State says that it would take 200 houses to produce one of the junior colleges, it might be reasonably asked whether convergence might not be carried out; whether, in fact, the right hon. Gentleman has not set himself too ambitious a standard in housing; whether he could not render a great service by reducing the intense congestion even at the cost of somewhat reducing the superficial area. 831 Sorrowful as I would be to do that, yet I say that the overcrowding in our cities is so desperate now that in some way or other it must be reduced. Certainly it is a counsel of despair to say that at some time or other we shall need to stop housing for a year in order to build schools, or that we shall need to stop building 200 houses in order to build one of the junior colleges. We must advance on a broader front than this or else this problem will never be solved at all.
The discussion that has gone on today is a discussion of the actual steps which are being taken to deal with this problem, but I come back again to the point that this twentieth century has had literally burned into it a conviction of the existence of evil. Jung, the psychologist, recently read a paper in which he said that the only result as far as he could see of two enormous European wars had been that the 15,000 or 20,000 intelligentsia have been convinced of the existence of evil. He added that two wars were a cheap price to pay for that; that, in fact, it was such an important conclusion that it was worth all the destruction which had been necessary to bring it about.
How we can deal with that is certainly a problem beyond the power of the House today, but it is not to be dealt with by the idea of the nineteenth century that simply by an increase of liberality can the problem of crime be solved. That is the fundamental admission we have to make. We can only deal with it by good men in the prisons dealing with the results because it will be from good men and women that the prisoners will learn.
Several speakers have quoted Charles Reade's "It is never too late to mend." It was a chaplain there, who by example and not by teaching, produced the modification of the prison in which he worked. It was his memory which later, when the convicts were deported to Australia, that more than once affected them and kept them from falling back into crime. It was the example of a single individual and, until we discover some further technique or method of dealing with it, the only way we shall ever produce any lasting reform of these unhappy characters is by getting good individuals into contact with those misfits. It is the only way in which we shall bring about what all the House 832 desires—a permanent cure of those unhappy individuals for whom we all feel a responsibility. Even more, every one of us recognises the truth uttered by the great prison reformer who looked out of the window at the convicts going past and said, "There, but for the grace of God, go I."
§ 7.37 p.m.
§ The Lord Advocate (Mr. John Wheatley)
In the first place, I endorse what the right hon. and gallant Member for the Scottish Universities (Lieut.-Colonel Elliot) has said with regard to the nature of this discussion. My own feeling is that Scottish Members distinguish themselves more in this field, where they are dealing with broad human considerations, than in any other. Various aspects have been canvassed and a range of views has been presented to the House, from the ultra-humanitarian to the rather rigid, but I do not think that any of the hon. Members who have spoken could be accused of being the lineal descendants of Lord Braxfield, who summarised cavalierly the fate of people who came before him in the simple expression, "Here's a chiel that's nane the waur o' a hanging."
We have not had the usual contribution from the legal profession in this Debate despite the fact that it is a Criminal Justice Bill, but I will not suggest that the Debate has been any the worse for that, because on a subject of this nature—again I endorse the views of the right hon. and gallant Gentleman—the views and opinions of experienced men and women of the world are just as important as the views of any one profession, although the views of the profession would naturally be desirable.
I think, therefore, that the House will be reassured to know that in the preliminary stages the high personages in the legal profession were necessarily consulted in relation to a number of things. Also, as the House knows, this Bill went through its baptism of fire in another place where it was subject to the scrutiny of two eminent Scottish Law Lords as well as other members of the other place with legal qualifications. In this House we have had a large variety of viewpoints represented. I might almost say that even the consumer's interest has not been left unattended to.
833 The Bill is a reflection of the change which has taken place during the past few decades in the attitude of the community towards offenders against our criminal law. We are steadily getting away from the old Mosaic idea of an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth and a life for a life. As my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State has said, the emphasis is shifting from punishment for the offence to treatment of the offender—in other words, to make the punishment fit the criminal and not the crime, subject to the necessary reservations to ensure that particular types of offenders are not too leniently dealt with and that sufficient powers are at the disposal of the courts to ensure that where necessary rigid punishment should be administered.
There may be differing views about what "rigid punishment" means. The hon. and gallant Member for Ayr Burghs (Sir T. Moore) deprecated the passing of whipping. I think he is, perhaps, a lone voice crying in the wilderness.
§ The Lord Advocate
I do believe it, but I may be wrong. Even if I were wrong in thinking that the hon. and gallant Member is a lane voice, I am sure he is in a very small minority, and I am convinced that the reasons adduced during the passage of the Criminal Justice Act when whipping was abolished were perfectly justified because the modern conception of punishment regards whipping as something not consistent with ideas of humane punishment.
§ Sir T. Moore
That was against the decision and desire of the highest legal officer in the country—the Lord Chief Justice.
§ The Lord Advocate
With the greatest deference, I am not always prepared to accept that people in that position are necessarily the best judges of the appropriate form of punishment. They can vary extremely depending upon their individual nature. One of our greatest criminal judges in Scotland—a man for whom I think, everyone here will have the greatest respect as a criminal lawyer; now, unfortunately, not with us—Lord Justice Clerk Craigie Aitchison, held 834 entirely different views. I do not want to make comparisons but to indicate that there are different views among different members of the judiciary. That does not mean to say, however, that we are being, weak or sentimental towards the criminal or that the punitive element is being ignored or eliminated.
The basis of our new approach proceeds from a proper appreciation of the old Scottish principle that where a criminal has undergone his punishment, he has "tholed his assize." This surely must mean more than that he is not capable of being tried again for the same offence. In a proper system of criminal administration it should also mean, first, that the ordinary prisoner should, after the termination of his punishment, return to society without a chip on his shoulder or a grudge against society; and secondly, with the necessary safeguards in certain cases, he should not be penalised further by being a marked man in the social and economic life of the community by virtue of his conviction.
That will call not only for a new attitude from the criminal, but for a new attitude from society. One of the great difficulties, in my experience in criminal law—and I have a fair experience of it now—has been the tragedy of the man who came out of prison and became a social pariah, and who could do nothing else but return to crime because he could find no employment and no proper place in society. Therefore, while we recognise and impose upon the man who has been convicted the duty to readjust himself to come out to take his rightful place in society, we also impose upon society the duty to absorb that man once he is free.
Towards the end of getting the punishment appropriate to fit not only the crime but the criminal, we have extended the various methods of punishment available to the court. We have extended the duty of inquiry by the court before deciding what the form of punishment should be. That still leaves the range of punishment within the discretion of the court, and it is for the court at the end of the day to determine, in the particular circumstances of any case, what is the appropriate system of punishment.
Although we have introduced other and new methods of reformative treatment, 835 we have also introduced, as hon. Members will recollect, a new form of punishment known as corrective training, and we have reviewed the whole basis of preventive detention, which previously was inter-linked with habitual criminality. In Scotland we were never able in recent years to take advantage of that form of punishment owing to the difficulty of proving habitual criminality. In the last few years, therefore, preventive detention in Scotland was almost a dead letter. By the new method, introduced in the Bill, of corrective training for the younger members of the community with certain previous convictions, and by preventive detention for the older men above 30 with more previous convictions, we have introduced a new system of punish-men for cases where that is appropriate.
We have rightly left the discretion at the end of the day to the court. It is not either for this House or for the Executive to try to indicate to the court what punishment there should be apart from outlining in any statute the range of punishment appropriate to any particular offence. We must have faith and confidence in our judiciary, from the highest to the lowest, to impose the appropriate sentence. If sometimes we disagree with the sentence which is imposed, we must realise that different judges approach problems from different angles and are different human beings.
The second principle in the reform of offenders involves the extension of the work of the After Care Council. I refer, first, to the adjustment of the prisoner and, secondly, to the adjustment of society. To effect that adjustment a great deal will depend on the extension on the work of the After Care Council in reabsorbing men back into society. If I may respectfully say so, I doubt whether sufficient notice has been paid to that aspect of the Bill.
The principles to which I have referred are particularly apposite in the case of youthful offenders, first offenders and, of course, those suffering from mental weaknesses. We must, and do, preserve these strong powers of punishment, but we must not lose sight of the fact that where possible it is better to reform an offender into a useful and unembittered member of society than to wreak vengeance on him and leave him an embittered pariah 836 on society. It is against that background that the Bill has been presented.
There may be many points of detail which can be properly discussed in Committee, and I am sure hon. Members will appreciate that I am not indicating any discourtesy if I do not deal meticulously with all the points which have been raised. In saying that, let me sound a word of warning. We are very anxious, because of the timetable—not for tonight, but hereafter—for the Bill to pass through Committee so that we shall get the Act this Session. While I do not want in any way to indicate that we are clamping down on the Committee stage, I appeal to hon. Members to bear that in mind when we reach the Committee stage and Amendments are tabled.
Turning to some of the points which have been raised, my first comment is that we all appreciate the great social problem of the causes of crime and how to prevent it. I trust I may be excused if I do not develop that topic tonight, because it is a subject on which one could speak for a very long time and the Bill deals really with the treatment of offenders, after offences have been committed, with a view to returning them to society in the best possible form and shape. I would rather not go into the very difficult social problem because I could not do it justice in the time at my disposal.
There was a criticism that this Bill was good on paper, but no use in practice. I demur entirely from that criticism. It is perfectly true, having regard to the economic position of the country, that it may be we cannot immediately build certain buildings envisaged within this Bill, but those buildings to which reference was made only concern three Clauses of the Bill. There is a tremendous amount of other machinery in the Bill which is of the greatest value in improving not only the treatment of offenders but the prosecution of offenders, the duty of a court to take certain steps to see that the proper treatment is available for offenders, and things of that nature. To suggest that there is no good in this Bill—
§ The Lord Advocate
—is to ignore many of the admirable features of the Bill and to concentrate on two or three 837 Clauses and say that because the various buildings necessary for putting into effect the working of those Clauses may not be available within the next year or two this Bill is only a paper Bill.
We are extending the variety of the methods of treatment. In order to indicate in the case of a young person the varieties now open to the court, I draw the attention of the House to the fact that a case may be dealt with by an absolute discharge, by probation, or by a fine, a younger child might be sent to an approved school, and a juvenile to a detention centre, or to Borstal. That gives a large variety of forms of treatment for young offenders whereby they may get the appropriate treatment for the particular circumstances of the case.
In the case of those who may be mentally affected, my hon. Friend the Member for Kirkcaldy (Mr. Hubbard) was rather apprehensive that a person who had to go and get some form of treatment as a result of the report to the court should not be left without some sort of safeguard or remedy and there should be periodic examinations to ensure that he was not left there indefinitely. I can give my hon. Friend that assurance because, if the men were certified as mentally deficient or insane under the respective statutes they would go into institutions and be subject to periodic inspections. If they were placed on probation with the condition that they should have this treatment they would be under probation officers and subject to periodic examination.
I now turn to examine the position in regard to probation. I wish to make an appeal and, without in any way transgressing on the rights of the court to determine the appropriate sentence in any case, to draw the attention of summary jurisdiction courts in particular to the fact that probation is a form of treatment available not only for young persons but available for persons of any age. Unfortunately, in Scotland we have not taken advantage of it sufficiently as compared with England.
My right hon. Friend gave some figures which showed that in England 28 per cent. of the juveniles brought before the courts were put on probation but only 14 per cent. in Scotland. In the case of adults the figures were 2 per cent. in England and .5 per cent. in Scotland. 838 Yet the figures show that for the years 1945–48, which are the comparable years for the figures I have given, of the juveniles put on probation 80 per cent. to 87 per cent. completed the course of probation satisfactorily, which indicates that it is a good form of treatment if properly carried out. I thoroughly agree with my hon. Friend that if we are to have these methods utilised to the fullest extent, we must have the right people there and the right form of training. That is all provided for in the Bill and we are hoping we shall get the proper people there.
Dealing with the introduction of new matter into the Bill, hon. Members will remember that before sentence of imprisonment can be passed on a young person under the age of 21 there must be a full inquiry into the whole of his circumstances and the court must inquire into any alternative method of punishment and be satisfied that there is no proper alternative method of punishment before imposing that method of imprisonment, which indicates a more humane approach to ensure that young people do not get imprisonment at too early an age and have that mark seared into their souls which may alter the whole course of their lives.
My hon. Friend the Member for Chesterfield (Mr. Benson) made what I regarded as an attack on the Bill.
§ The Lord Advocate
He rather demurs, from that and I am prepared to accept his demur. He put forward a thesis that this is a thoroughly bad Bill and that nothing I could say could prove the contrary. I am accepting his explanation that he thinks it a good Bill despite that. I think I have already said sufficient to indicate that this is a good Bill. He was particularly anxious about the position of Borstal training and asked why it was that we had altered the sentence of Borstal to a flat rate of three years when heretofore it could be either two or three years.
The answer is simple; a sentence can be only a flat rate of three years, but, during that period, the Secretary of State is entitled to release the Borstal prisoner conditionally on supervision up to a period of 12 months, or the unexpired period of sentence, whichever is the 839 shorter. Therefore, administratively, it will be possible to reduce that sentence dependent upon the manner in which the Borstal inmate is responding to Borstal treatment. I think that a better idea than saying that it should be a sentence of either two or three years. In other words, a person in Borstal by his attitude towards his treatment can qualify for a much quicker release than two or three years.
§ The Lord Advocate
My hon. Friend also said that the basis of assessment was purely guess work when judging the appropriate sentence in any case. I listened with interest because I thought we would get an alternative theory and a better defined scale of punishment. At the end of the day, when dealing with individuals surely it is the experience of the man on the Bench, armed with the information brought before him which will determine whether or not it is the right sentence. That may be guess work but, generally, it has worked out very well in our practice in Scottish courts.
This Bill, according to my hon. Friend the Member for Chesterfield, is a Bill for which we cannot take much credit because we are merely echoing advice given by departmental officers. I should like to pay tribute to the work of departmental officers who have contributed in no small measure to producing a Bill which I can say with confidence will be accepted with open arms in legal circles in Scotland and is regarded as a fine Bill. Apart from the great co-operation we have from departmental officials, we have had the advice of various bodies to which my right hon. Friend referred in his opening speech.
I now wish to deal with one or two questions posed to me by the right hon. and gallant Member for Scottish Universities. He wanted to know why our Bill differed in some respects from the English Measure. The primary answer is that we have our own particularly Scottish procedure, Scottish background and Scottish history and we have been at pains to see it preserved in this Bill. We did not slavishly follow this English Bill and disregard that traditional Scottish background. In summary cases in Scotland 840 we have placed people on probation without proceeding to conviction ever since 1907 when the Probation of Offenders Act came in.
The English Act provided for proceeding to conviction, and the reason we differ is that we feel in Scotland, if we are to put a person on probation for a minor offence which is triable in a court of summary jurisdiction, it rather offends against the idea of probation that we should record a conviction against him. In other words, if he satisfactorily comes through his probation he is entitled to get off with a clean sheet, subject to the proviso that we have reserved the right to make reference to previous probation orders if a person comes up again. That is desirable because if a court has to decide whether or not a person is suitable for probation the court should be in possession of the knowledge that he had previously been on probation and know how he had responded to that probation treatment.
The right hon. and gallant Gentleman said that under the English Act magistrates who were sentencing people under the age of 21 to imprisonment had to give their reasons in writing. We have a corresponding provision in our Bill in Clause 17 (3) in respect of judges of courts of summary jurisdiction other than sheriffs and the one stipendiary magistrate whom we have in Scotland. We have excluded them because we feel that they are qualified judges as distinct from the lay judges found in the other courts.
To take the case of a sheriff, if he were sitting with a jury in solemn procedure, he would not be required to state in writing his reason for imposing imprisonment on a person whereas if we made a sheriff do so under this Clause he would be required to state his reasons in writing when sitting in cases of summary jurisdiction. It seems silly to ask a man sitting in one capacity to give his reasons in writing and sitting in another capacity not to do so. We feel that we have sufficient confidence in our sheriffs and our stipendiary magistrate to exclude them from the operation of this Clause, while at the same time maintaining it so far as lay magistrates are concerned.
So far as attendance centres are concerned, we feel that they would not serve 841 any particular purpose, particularly having regard to the scattered population in many parts of the country. We have various other forms of alternative punishments and methods of dealing with young people and we do not feel that the setting up of attendance centres at this stage would effect any useful purpose.
We have never had in Scotland the system for awarding damages in criminal cases, which I understand was a further point made. We in Scotland feel that the proper procedure in such a case is to allow the person damnified to raise a civil action for damages and not confuse what is purely a criminal matter with a civil matter. There is another reason for that attitude. In Scotland criminal proceedings are, with very few exceptions, at the instance of the public prosecutor and not at the instance of a private prosecutor, and it is undesirable that the public prosecutor should in a way be acting as the solicitor of a pursuer in an action of damages for recovery in respect of his damnification. The person damnified should raise his action in the ordinary way in the civil court and should not do it at the hands of the public prosecutor.
The next point raised by the right hon. and gallant Gentleman was the question of security so far as probation was concerned—that in Scotland the only person who could stand in would be the parent or guardian whereas in England any person consenting to do so could be accepted. We considered this very carefully indeed, but we came down against the English system because we felt that by the introduction of the consenting party, no matter how well meaning and well being he may be—it might be a clergyman in some cases—we should be introducing a third element. The responsibility is still that of the parent. If a third party were introduced who had a financial interest in the matter to see that the child was behaving himself properly, and if that third person was coming to see if Johnnie was getting into the house before eight o'clock at night and was doing this and not doing that, the possibility of friction through that third party interference would become very great. We felt that rather than risk that possible conflict of interest which might arise, we should be better without it.
842 The last point raised by the right hon. and gallant Gentleman was about proceeding on indictment against bodies corporate. In Scotland we could heretofore proceed on indictment against bodies corporate only in certain circumstances—under Defence Regulations, under the Companies Act and under the price control regulations. We felt that bodies corporate should be chargeable on indictment like any other legal persona in Scotland and we have introduced a clause to make them so indictable.
§ Lieut.-Colonel Elliot
But it was regarded as a little obscure. I wonder if during the Committee stage it would be possible for the Lord Advocate to clear up the point a little more?
§ The Lord Advocate
If the nature of the obscurity is brought to my notice I will look at what their Lordships said on, the matter. I was in the other place when it was being discussed, and my recollection is that the Bill is all right as it stands.
I do not want to go into the other matters regarding witnesses, representation at trials, etc. These matters can be dealt with in Committee. All I wish to say is a word of consolation in regard to accommodation in prisons. I had not intended to deal with it because the hon. Member for Rugby (Mr. W. J. Brown), who raised it, having made his speech, left the House and did not come back. I doubt if he is entitled to any reply, but as he has raised a point which may be of interest to other Members in the House, it is right to let them know that accommodation for prisoners in Scotland is considerably higher than the average number of inmates. In other words, we have a fair amount of room still available. It is one of the few areas in Scotland where we have not got a housing problem, certainly not an overcrowding problem.
I should not like to think that we shall have more people in our institutions as the result of the new measures. It may be that we shall have more as a result of longer sentences of corrective training and preventive detention, but I hope, as a result of what is being done, fewer people will go into prison. Though we have more methods to deal with offenders, it does not necessarily mean dealing with more; it may be the same number or even fewer. But it may be that one or two new types of prison would be desirable in 843 the interests of advance in this particular line of country.
I should like to thank hon. Members on both sides of the House for their contributions. In its march through its various stages this Bill will, like every other, be improved. We should like to send from this House eventually a Bill which, though perhaps not the millennium, is a definite step towards the better administration of criminal justice in this country, consistent with more modern and I should like to think more enlightened views, and which, while retaining the power to punish strongly wrongdoers who need punishment will salvage many other offenders from the wreck of wrongdoing and let them return to society as lawful and useful members of the community.