§ 13. Mr. A. Henderson
asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether he will now make a statement on his investigations into the problem of drunkenness among young persons.
§ Major Lloyd-George
Any increase in the number of convictions for drunkenness of young persons is a matter of great regret and concern. I am glad to say, however, that the number remains very small in proportion to the total number of young persons. The figures for 1954 were 124 offences among about 865,000 males under 17; 12 offences among 839,000 females under 17; 3,157 offences among 1,041,000 males aged 17 and under 21, and 209 offences among 1,107,000 females aged 17 and under 21.
The number of offences in any one police district is small, and the police, I am informed, have no reason to think that they indicate any tendency for juvenile drunkenness to assume serious proportions.
My inquiries have not disclosed any clearly apparent cause of the increases that have taken place. Such further inquiries as seem practicable will he made, and I shall, of course, continue to watch the situation closely.
§ Mr. Henderson
Has the attention of the Home Secretary been drawn to a report recently published in the Manchester Guardian which describes what I think most hon. Members would agree are disturbing conditions concerning drunkenness or excessive drinking by young persons, especially at dance halls? Has he any information on that aspect of the problem, and, if so, does he propose to take any steps with regard to it?
§ Major Lloyd-George
The right hon. and learned Gentleman will appreciate that I have to answer Questions a little later about dance halls. Those Questions are in rather a different category to the one which he asked. As I indicated in my Answer, I have had special inquiry made. I do not think that the figures which I gave support the contention that there is a very serious problem at the moment.
§ Mr. John Hall
Can my right hon. and gallant Friend say if there is a greater proportion of drunkenness among young people in Carlisle than in other parts of the country?
§ Mr. de Freitas
Is the Home Secretary aware that many social workers and statisticians are critical of the figures which are given, as they do not disclose the nature of the problem? Will he consider whether more useful figures could be compiled?