HC Deb 10 December 1953 vol 521 cc2160-1
15. Lieut.-Colonel Lipton

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether his attention has been drawn to a report on the law relating to sexual offences drawn up by a joint committee of the Magistrates' Association and the British Medical Association in 1949, of which a copy is in his possession; and what action he has decided to take in the matter.

Sir D. Maxwell Fyfe

I am familiar with this report, but, as I have already informed the House, I am not at present in a position to make any statement on the questions with which it deals.

Lieut.-Colonel Lipton

In view of the fact that this report, published in 1949, foretold the tremendous increase in this class of offence, is it not time that a very strong effort was made to tackle the whole problem, because the vast increase in the number of offences shows that the law, particularly where young children are concerned, is failing to achieve any useful purpose whatsoever?

Sir D. Maxwell Fyfe

I told the House, at rather great length, a week ago that I have the matter under very careful consideration.

29. Mr. K. Robinson

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether he has yet considered a resolution from the Church of England Moral Welfare Council requesting him to set up an inquiry into the whole subject of homosexuality; and what reply he has made.

Sir D. Maxwell Fyfe

I have received and acknowledged this resolution. I am not at present in a position to send a considered reply to the Church of England Moral Welfare Council, but I shall take their views into account in examining the general question of the law relating to sexual offences and the treatment of sexual offenders.

Mr. Robinson

In view of his rather disappointing replies last week, is the right hon. and learned Gentleman aware that no one has suggested any lessening in the protection of children and young persons? What concerns this body and so many other people is the unsatisfactory state of the law relating to homosexuality among male adults. Has his attention been drawn to the views of a learned judge who, at Kingston, as reported in "The Times" on Monday, said that prison is no solution for these offences and frequently aggravates the causes of the trouble?

Sir D. Maxwell Fyfe

I tried to deal with this matter a week ago, and I do not want to cover the same ground again. I know that the Council has said that the duty of the State to protect young people is self-evident, but one of the matters which it wants to consider is the validity of the right given to the State to take cognisance of immoral private actions between adult male homosexuals. That, to my mind, cannot be looked at in isolation from the effect on young people. That is one of the aspects of the subject to which I attach great importance. I am considering the matter. I have not a shut mind. I know that the Council is approaching the matter with a great desire to do good and I shall be quite prepared to consider the matter further.

Sir T. Moore

In the meantime, will my right hon. and learned Friend consider establishing a hospital for these unhappy people, where they car receive suitable discipline and treatment until the legal review which he is undertaking?

Sir D. Maxwell Fyfe

I must repeat that I do not accept for a moment that prisons are not alive to this problem and doing their utmost to treat these people according to the most up-to-date views and knowledge. A week ago I gave my reasons for thinking that prison treatment is essential in a large number of cases.