HC Deb 26 April 1956 vol 551 cc1950-1
13. Mr. Grimond

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will review the law relating to cruelty to children, as at present offences against property draw heavier sentences than those against children.

Major Lloyd-George

Section 1 of the Children and Young Persons Act, 1933, which provides penalties for certain offences of cruelty to children, will be within the terms of reference of the Committee, the proposed appointment of which I announced on 2nd February.

Mr. Grimond

While thanking the Home Secretary for that answer, and while pointing out that I am not personally, in general, in favour of very heavy prison sentences, may I ask him whether he will also look at the cases reported in the newspapers, from which it seems that most brutal assaults on children draw much lighter sentences than crimes against property or, indeed, crimes against adults?

Major Lloyd-George

I have no doubt at all that in many cases sentences are given which are far below those which could be given, but that does not show that the law itself is deficient. This Committee is going to look into these matters when it is appointed.

Mr. Hastings

Will the Home Secretary at the same time give consideration to the question of the early recognition of cruelty to children, because in most cases which come before the courts there is a record of months or even years of cruelty up to that time which has not been recognised by the authorities?

Major Lloyd-George

While I will certainly do that, I am sure the hon. Gentleman appreciates that in some cases it is not always easy to get the information. That is the difficulty.