HC Deb 27 April 1950 vol 474 cc1117-8
28. Mr. Profumo

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department how far he attributes the figures of juvenile convictions in each of the years 1945 to 1950 to overcrowded homes.

Mr. Ede

The causes of juvenile delinquency are many and varied, and more than one factor may be operative in any particular case. Other things being equal, a child from a home that is not overcrowded has doubtless a better chance in life, but it is not, in my view, possible to attribute any precise amount of juvenile delinquency to a single cause such as overcrowding.

Mr. Profumo

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that if he looked into the reports of probation officers and of juvenile convictions he would find that a very high proportion of those convictions concerned young people coming from overcrowded homes? In view of that fact, is he prepared to recommend to the Minister of Health that an even higher figure for houses completed should be aimed at?

Mr. Ede

I think that overcrowding is one of the causes; it is not the only cause, nor do the people to whom the hon. Member referred put it as the principal cause.

Mr. Malcolm MacMillan

Will my right hon. Friend say to what extent the legacy of overcrowding was due to the criminal neglect of the party opposite?

Mr. Harmar Nicholls

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that magistrates, particularly in industrial areas, are very concerned about the number of juvenile crimes which arise through overcrowded houses and through parents being separated owing to overcrowding? In view of that, would he make strong representations to the Minister of Health to raise the house-building target from the very low level at which it is at present?

Mr. Ede

No, Sir, I am not prepared to do that.