HC Deb 26 February 1953 vol 511 cc2292-4
39. Mr. Dodds

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many boys from Borstal institutions volunteered for flood relief work: what institutions were concerned; and what has been done for the boys to indicate the appreciation of the nation.

Sir D. Maxwell Fyfe

Many inmates of Hollesley Bay Borstal Institution, near the Suffolk coast, volunteered for extra work on flood relief and the maximum number so employed at any one time was 164. The Prison Commissioners' appreciation of the spirit and efficiency displayed by all concerned has been expressed in a message to the Governor and by a visiting Commissioner on the spot.

Mr. Dodds

In view of the splendid work which was done under deplorable conditions, cannot something more be done to show the appreciation of the nation? Does not the Home Secretary think that if we showed that appreciation in a more practical fashion it would indicate to those in Borstal that good work will not be overlooked; and is not that better than advocating flogging?

Sir D. Maxwell Fyfe

I will not go into the last part of the question, but I should like to say this with great seriousness: Borstal is a form of training and the time which a boy spends there is in proportion to the training necessary. Therefore, the obvious thought that comes to mind with regard to lessening the time is not appropriate to Borstal training. I am very grateful to the hon. Member for raising this matter, because I think that, quite wrongly, the expression "Borstal boy" conveys far too much a bad content.

If I may trespass on the time of the House, I should like to point out that up to the end of 1951 53 per cent. of those released from Borstal in 1949 had not been convicted again, and another 29 per cent, have settled down after one subsequent conviction. That compares remarkably with the prewar figures—12 years before—of 1937, when the corresponding figures were 56 per cent. and 20 per cent. I am therefore grateful—and I mean it—to the hon. Gentleman for giving me this chance of explaining the position.

Mr. Ede

While thanking the right hon. and learned Gentleman for the tribute which he has paid to the Borstal work, may I ask him whether he does not think that practical work of this kind, which convinces a youth of the real value of his work, is the kind of thing that Prison Commissioners might use increasingly in their efforts to train the boys?

Mr. Turner-Samuels

Did the Home Secretary mean to convey that the work done by these boys either will not be or cannot be taken into consideration? Is it not the case that the whole of the conduct of the boys is taken into consideration by the Borstal authorities and that they act accordingly as to the terms which the boys are to serve there?

Sir D. Maxwell Fyfe

Certainly. All I said was that shortening the sentences by an arbitrary period would not fit in with the conception of Borstal training. I entirely accept what the hon. and learned Gentleman has said.

Mr. de Freitas

Would the Home Secretary not agree that one of the reasons for the success of the Borstal institution on the edge of the Lincolnshire coast is that the day to day work which the boys perform there includes reclaiming land from the sea, which is heavy physical work but very satisfying because it shows great accomplishment?

Sir D. Maxwell Fyfe

I agree with what the hon. Member says about the importance of that work.