HC Deb 11 December 1958 vol 597 cc484-5
2. Mr. Osborne

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if, in view of the public disquiet over recent bank robberies, wage-snatchings and attacks on defenceless women, Her Majesty's Government will take steps immediately to reintroduce flogging for all crimes of violence.

Mr. R. A. Butler

The evidence does not support the view that when flogging was available for certain crimes—which did not include all crimes of violence— it had the especially effective influence as a deterrent which is now frequently attributed to it. Indeed, after the abolition of flogging, crimes for which it was intended to be a sanction declined.

Mr. Osborne

Is not my right hon. Friend aware that there is a great deal of public disquiet over these crimes of violence? May I ask whether my right hon. Friend has made up his mind that he will never reintroduce flogging, no matter how high the crime wave reaches? If not, to what height has the crime wave to go before action will be taken?

Mr. Butler

I cannot answer hypothetical questions on this matter. I can only give my present opinion and my present intention.

Mr. Anthony Greenwood

Will the Home Secretary re-emphasise that within living memory flogging has never been the penalty for all crimes of violence?

Mr. Butler

It was limited severely before 1948. It was more general about 100 years ago, but thereafter it was limited to a few particular crimes—mainly those under Section 23 (1) of the Larceny Act, 1916.

Dame Florence Horsbrugh

Is my right hon. Friend aware that there is growing anxiety in this country about these crimes? Will he consider what action should be taken and bear in mind that this anxiety in the country is growing?

Mr. Butler

I think that I have been quite active in this direction. As I have informed the House on many other occasions, including a long debate in the House and several previous Questions upon the same subject, I propose in due course to announce my intentions on this matter. It is difficult to repeat oneself indefinitely, as appears to be permitted by Parliamentary procedure, but on a future occasion, when I have more time, I will do my best to satisfy my right hon. Friend's quite reasonable apprehensions on this matter. The situation is certainly very difficult.