HC Deb 05 November 1959 vol 612 cc1177-8
9. Mr. Iremonger

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will make a statement on the progress made and anticipated in the provision of detention centres; and, in this connection, what consideration he has given to the suitability of four residential school camps in Surrey, Sussex and Oxfordshire recently advertised for sale by private treaty or later by public auction by order of the Receiver and Manager of the National Camps Corporation, Limited

Mr. R. A. Butler

Two additional centres—in Durham and Yorkshire—are now in course of construction. During the past year, the Prison Commissioners have submitted to local planning authorities proposals for the provision of five other centres, each of which has aroused local objection. A public inquiry has been found necessary in two cases and may well be necessary in others.

Hence, there may be some delay, which is the more to be regretted since the experience of the existing centres has shown that the fears on which opposition to their establishment was based have proved to be completely without foundation.

The four camps to which my hon. Friend refers were inspected by the Prison Commissioners some time ago but were found unsuitable for conversion to detention centres.

Mr. Iremonger

With regard to the first part of my right hon. Friend's Answer, has he any special steps in mind to prepare local public opinion for the advent of proposed detention centres, especially by letting local people see what the reaction has been to such centres in places like Goudhurst and Kidlington, where they have proved successful?

Mr. Butler

Yes, we have attempted to do that. We cannot and should not deprive people of their right to have an inquiry if they so desire. We examine how we can expedite this part of our procedure consistent with the public good and we provide as much information as possible.

Mr. S. Silverman

Does the right hon. Gentleman not agree that detention centres are only part of our machinery for dealing with juvenile delinquency? Can he confirm that two-thirds of the approved schools are provided by voluntary bodies and not by the State and a great many of them are staffed by people with no teaching qualifications and no special training of any kind?

Mr. Butler

I should wish to answer a question on approved schools with rather more thought than I could give to it in answer to a supplementary question. There is at present an inquiry going on, the result of which may prove useful to us and the House generally in planning the future of approved schools. So let us give this matter some time and consider it thoroughly.

Mr. Deedes

In view of the importance of establishing more detention centres quickly, and in view of the very widespread public misunderstanding about what they in fact do, could the right hon. Gentleman take steps to give some reassuring indication to the public of what detention centres are doing and the work he expects of them?

Mr. Butler

My visit to Goudhurst in my hon. Friend's division convinced me that they have a salutary effect and that they also have a good effect on the boys' future. I will certainly take what steps I can to make their merits known.