§ 8. Earl Winterton
asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will place a statement in the Library showing the convictions from 1st January, 1941, until the present time for cruelty to children, where the evidence has shown that permanent impairment of the health of the children has resulted, with the penalty imposed in each case.
§ Mr. Grimond
Can the Home Secretary say why it is that people who kill children through cruelty are not prosecuted for murder?
Mr. F. P. Crowder
Is the Home Secretary aware that even where a person has been convicted of this offence—no matter how serious the offence—the maximum penalty which the court of assize can impose upon him is only two years' imprisonment? Does he think that that is sufficient as a maximum penalty in all circumstances?
§ Earl Winterton
Would the right hon. Gentleman endeavour to obtain this information, because, while it is very important that we should not distract the attention of the House from the suffering of puppies and pussies in pet shops, it is equally important that the House should take an interest in the torture of children?
§ Mr. Ede
May I explain the difficulty about providing this information? During the period to which the noble Lord alluded in the first part of his Question, there were 12,000 convictions—and I am not suggesting that that is a number which can be regarded otherwise than with detestation. The information which he seeks is about the permanent impairment of the children which has taken place, and that would not be recorded even where a conviction was recorded by the court.
§ Mr. Somerville Hastings
Does my right hon. Friend realise that in spite of publicity there is no appreciable decrease in the number of convictions for cruelty and neglect of children?
§ Earl Winterton
Will the right hon. Gentleman consider producing a statement in a different form? I cannot raise it on this Question, but it is very important that the House should be aware of the situation.