§ 1. Mr. Harrison
asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will consider increasing the penalties for crimes of violence, in view of the increase in the number of such crimes.
§ The Secretary of State for the Home Department (Mr. Ede)
The maximum penalty for robbery with violence is already imprisonment for life, and, except for murder, substantial terms of imprisonment may be imposed by the courts for all other crimes involving violence. If my hon. Friend is suggesting that in addition the courts should have power to impose corporal punishment for such 1223 offences, I would refer him to the answer which I gave to a number of Questions on this point on 9th March.
§ Mr. Harrison
As in previous replies he has given on this matter my right hon. Friend would not agree that these crimes have increased in number, will he now agree that they have increased in ferocity and audacity within the last month or two? Will he do something to stop this terrible wave of crimes of this kind?
§ Mr. Osbert Peake
In view of the strong feelings upon this matter on all sides of the House, and also in view of the fact that it is now 12 years since we had the Report of the Cadogan Committee on Corporal Punishment, will not the right hon. Gentleman reconsider the whole question, and consider some form of inquiry with a view to bringing the findings of that Committee more up to date than they are, in the light of postwar circumstances?
§ Mr. Ede
The right hon. Gentleman will recollect the discussions we had in the House when the Criminal Justice Act was going through, and the vote he himself gave on that occasion. I will consider whether it is possible to make available the information that was before the Committee to which he alluded.
§ Lieut.-Colonel Sir Thomas Moore
Would the right hon. Gentleman bear in mind that in addition to the other arguments used, there is widespread alarm in the country at the increased violence of the actual crimes committed? Will he not reconsider the whole issue, and perhaps deal with it in the way suggested by my right hon. Friend?
§ Mr. Marlowe
Does the right hon. Gentleman suggest that it is wrong to give publicity to these awful crimes?
§ Mr. H. Hynd
Will my right hon. Friend bear in mind that there is also considerable feeling on all sides of the House that it would be wrong to reintroduce corporal punishment which is barbaric?
§ Mr. McAdden
Will the Minister tell us whether it is his view that much consolation will be afforded to the victims of these assaults by his suggestion that they are not hit with the cosh but hit with publicity?
§ 13. Commander Noble
asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many robberies, or attempted robberies, with violence have occurred in the London area during the last six months.
§ Mr. Ede
During the six months ended 28th February last there were 141 offences against Section 23 (1) of the Larceny Act, 1916, known to the police in the Metropolitan Police district and the City of London; that is, armed robbery, robbery with violence, and robbery or assaults with intent to rob by two or more persons. During the same period there were 26 offences coming under the remaining provisions of Section 23; that is, simple robbery and assault with intent to rob by persons acting singly.
§ Commander Noble
Is the Home Secretary aware that the statistics he gave to the House last week will be very cold comfort to the unhappy people who have been attacked? Will he give an assurance that every possible step will be taken to prevent these crimes, another of which occurred yesterday, which are causing grave anxiety to the people of London?