§ Order for Second Reading read.
§ 3.45 p.m.
§ The Secretary of State for the Home Department (Mr. R. A. Butler)
I beg to move, That the Bill be now read a Second time.
This Bill is designed to make more effective and appropriate measures of detention and punishment for young offenders. One of the main objects is to detain the young in institutions other than prisons, where they will not be infected by contact with older prisoners, more experienced in crime, and will be subject to more energetic and bracing forms of discipline. I shall be saying something later in what I have to submit to the House about the forms of discipline suggested by the Bill which I think are suitably energetic and bracing to be a suitable deterrent for the young.
The Bill also contains some important proposals for compulsory after-care which I shall be mentioning, and also, as a general example of what the Bill tries to do, I would say that within the limits of sentences imposed by courts there will be greater flexibility in handling individual offenders and providing training best suited to the young person's needs and most likely to make him or her an honest and useful citizen.
When we introduced the Education Act in 1944, we used the expression, "age, ability and aptitude". That was about opportunity and hope for the future. In this Bill, we are considering for the young the nature of a misdemeanour and the redemptive capacity of young offenders. I hope, therefore, that it will be found suitable for the task which we wish to carry out.
There is a rather sombre background against which we are introducing the Bill. Last year, roughly one-third of the persons convicted for indictable offences were between the ages of 14 and 21. The total number of such offences known to the police was more than twice as great as the number in 1938. There is some indication, which I have taken the opportunity of mentioning on various occasions, that the rate of increase may 563 be easing off—and that is a good thing—and that the present generation of children, although more numerous than their predecessors, will be less prone to commit offences.
However we read statistics it cannot be denied that there is no simple solution to this problem. We cannot in any way be self-satisfied about what we propose. The causes of crime lie deep in human character and often derive from the pressures and temptations to which the nature and structure of our society subject the individual. The problem changes as society changes and we have to reflect that the affluent society offers temptations of a different but no less potent kind from those of poverty; and that the new housing estate may have examples of problems of delinquency no less than the slums. This is a challenge to us in our generation for constructive thought and vigorous action.
I wish to digress for a minute to look abroad, because concern about the rising volume of crime is not confined to this country alone. Hon. Members may recall that in August last Her Majesty's Government acted as hosts to the Second United Nations Congress on the Prevention of Crime and the Treatment of Offenders. Delegates came from 84 countries widely separated by geography, politics, culture and economic development—to discuss the common problem of crime and the criminal.
It was clear that in many countries, though not all, there had been a substantial increase in the rate of juvenile delinquency and that among the countries with the greatest apparent increases were some, like the United States, the United Kingdom and Sweden, that had high standards of living and well-developed social services.
One other general conclusion we drew from this was that there was general agreement on the value of a stable family life, on constructive occupation for both work and leisure, and on close co-operation between the authorities and the public over measures to help those who had already strayed into delinquency, or were likely to do so. I maintain that we must obviously agree with this diagnosis.
We cannot solve the problem of crime just by passing Acts of Parliament. A 564 great many and varied measures are necessary. I hope that during the discussions on the Bill no one will claim that reliance on one method or one type of punishment will suffice. I hope that all, whether parents, teachers, the churches, newspapers and social organisations, will realise their part. We can only seek to make sure that our legislation is adequate to support the operations we are conducting in other parts of the field.
I held a conference of all those interested parties, including the Churches and social workers. I hope that between us we can gradually evolve some plans which we want to start by consultation with all people interested, denominations and parties, joining in and making an experiment in various localities to see how we can do better with our young people than we have done up to date.
In the first part of my speech I want to deal with eight different methods of fighting crime. Among the weapons with which to fight crime I put, first, the absolute need to ensure that the police are brought up to strength and that their relations with the public are such that they can rely on public support in preventing and detecting crime. As soon as we receive the Royal Commission's interim Report we shall consider urgently what action the Government and authorities involved can take to this end.
The second method I take is the position of the probation officers. This body of people does invaluable work, of a different kind, in the prevention of crime and the reformation of offenders. They will have a very much heavier burden as a result of the compulsory after-care included in the Bill, so they should be very much in our minds during this Second Reading debate. They recently had an interim increase in pay of 12½ per cent, and all aspects of this service are at present being re-examined.
I am hoping for the report before too long and to this I attach great importance, for quite often they are forgotten, although they play a very important réle. The strength of this service has increased by nearly 60 per cent. in the last ten years, but there is still urgent need for expansion to meet the increasing burden placed on probation officers by the high level of crime and by our new proposals and increasing responsibilities which the Bill will put upon them.
565 The third method I have in mind is the prison service. Since we made substantial improvements in pay and conditions in the service only two years ago, the number of prison officers has risen from 4,500 to over 4,900. We must continually hold their needs in mind.
The fourth method is to make our review as comprehensive as possible on this difficult subject. The Lord Chancellor and I have appointed two bodies to examine our weapons in the field of law. The Criminal Law Revision Committee has recently submitted a Report on the law relating to suicide and attempted suicide. It is at present engaged on a review of the law of larceny. Also, the Streatfeild Committee is considering the machinery of the superior courts. As and when reports come from these bodies, appropriate action will be taken.
Fifthly, I have also had the benefit of reading the comprehensive Report of Lord Ingleby's Committee, which has surveyed our system of juvenile courts and treatment of juveniles. Many of the Ingleby recommendations relate to children in need of care or protection as well as to children found guilty of offences and, therefore, they would be outside the scope of the Bill. There are many—in particular, the much discussable proposition of the raising of the age of criminal responsibility—on which we need time for public opinion to form and express itself, and for consultation with all the interests concerned—which are numerous—but there are some recommendations that we have felt justified in accepting at once and have been able to fit into the framework of the present Bill.
I now come to the sixth method. The Advisory Council on the Treatment of Offenders has been considering whether corporal punishment should be reintroduced as a judicial penalty. I have been asked by some what the nature of this body is. As I think considerable importance may be attached to its findings, I wish to digress for a moment to say that the Advisory Council on the Treatment of Offenders is a standing body. It was not appointed ad hoc for this particular inquiry. It was first appointed in 1944 and is under the chairmanship of a judge, Mr. Justice Barry.
566 So much is this a standing body that only three members have been nominated to join it in the last two years and only two in the period since it had the remit, or coinciding with its recent remit. One of these is a V.C., who can hardly have been chosen by reason of being a "softie", and another was the Chief Officer of the City of London Police. I mention this because I think that hon. Members may want to know what the constitution of the Council is. Its members include many from the professions and walks of life concerned with the prevention of crime and reform of offenders.
There is a recorder and chairman of quarter sessions, a Metropolitan magistrate, and lay justices and two hon. Members of the House—one from each side—my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Warwick and Leamington (Mr. Hobson) and the hon. Member for Chesterfield (Sir G. Benson). It also includes a criminologist, representatives of the Churches and of the medical profession. In so far as we can find a balanced team, I think that this is a balanced team to consider this very difficult and important matter. I mention this only because I have had inquiries on the subject.
As hon. Members will be aware, the Council advised against reintroduction of corporal punishment. It recorded six main reasons for its conclusions. It was impressed by the marked cleavage of opinion not only on the question of whether or not corporal punishment should be reintroduced, but on particular aspects of the problem, by the fact that demand for its reintroduction seems to be limited to this country, and by the practical difficulties involved, of which the Council found that the most serious is the delay which must elapse between commission of offence and infliction of punishment.
The arguments which I regard as most cogent and most important are these. The Council has concluded that there can be no assurance that corporal punishment would substantially reduce crime and afford real protection to potential victims. It considered that in these circumstances it would not be justifiable to restore this form of punishment, which is inconsistent with the new methods—some of which are included in 567 the Bill—and which, with others introduced in 1948, have not yet been fully tried out. The Bill was drafted, and, indeed, published, before I received the Council's Report.
This Report confirms the Government's judgment that we should not include corporal punishment among the new and severe measures included in the Bill. While these matters, that is, the effect of corporal punishment on young offenders, can be discussed and decided on during the passage of the Bill, I must make it clear that my colleagues and I are convinced by the findings of the Report.
The seventh possible method that I have to consider is other penalties available to the courts. The Advisory Council expressed the view that a severe and exemplary punishment is often salutary. It considered that the powers of punishment for serious offences at the disposal of the courts—which are much stronger than is often supposed, and of which striking examples are given in Appendix H of the Report—are adequate to meet this need. I accept the Council's view. I think that when one examines the powers that the courts have one must come to the same conclusion.
What is often not adequate is the power to fine for less grave offences. We are working on proposals to strengthen this power, and some definite proposals to this end, in respect of juveniles and their parents, are included in the Bill in Clause 8, to which I hope close attention will be given.
In passing, I should like to say that I expect shortly to receive the report of the official working party which I set up to consider proposals involved in establishing a scheme for compensating victims of crimes of violence.
I understand that the working party has found many intractable difficulties, which will call for some very close study before the Government can decide whether a scheme should be introduced. It is one in which I am very much interested, and I shall press on with its examination in the light of the working party's report.
The eighth method is to get our buildings right. This very much affects the Bill, because the Bill depends for its implementation on buildings being available, 568 especially buildings of a certain sort, and the Prison Commission is driving ahead with the largest programme of building and refurbishing prisons and other institutions which we have known for many generations.
Since the White Paper on Penal Practice in a Changing Society was published, seventeen months ago, no fewer than 31 new establishments have reached various stages of development. Of these, three new open prisons have already been completed and three detention centres will be open within the next three months, increasing the total amount of building construction to a figure which is more than four times that of two years ago.
What matters for the Bill is that by the latter part of next year we hope to have 10 detention centres in being, of which eight will be senior centres, and two more junior centres by early 1962, giving a total of 12 detention centres which was our target in the recent White Paper. These centres were foreshadowed long ago and have been most strongly pressed for by the courts. We are also bringing into the prison building programme more modern construction methods, as we did in education, and I hope to lay at Blundeston next year the foundation stone of the first prison designed on new lines.
Besides the prison building programme, which, I think we can now say, is forging ahead, I have something to say about the approved schools. We are pushing forward a large programme of modernisation and improvement of premises, including some necessary new building. I think that hon. Members who have had an opportunity of working with and visiting these schools must realise that in carrying out their difficult task they should have facilities and standards of accommodation in accordance with modern requirements of social training and education.
We intend, among other reforms, to establish a small number of closed units, attached to existing boys' schools, and providing for observation and treatment as well as secure custody. Boys will be enabled to progress from the closed unit to more open conditions of training.
The enlarged building programme started recently is gaining momentum, 569 and schemes now approved or under consideration cover over 100 of the 117 schools. Expenditure, spread over this and the next few years, will be about £5 million. Improvements in premises and facilities in these schools, important though they are, will be of limited value unless sufficient staff of the right calibre are attracted to the service. I take this opportunity of paying tribute to the skill and devotion of the staff in approved schools, who often work under very unsatisfactory conditions.
In filling some of these posts, particularly those of housemaster in the boys' schools, what struck me particularly when I have visited them recently with my right hon. Friend the Minister of State and my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary of State has been the difficulties arising from the general shortage of qualified social workers. Mr. Durand drew attention to this matter in his Report. The staffing of the girls' schools has also been a source of concern. With the help of the Central Training Council in Child Care we are extending the training facilities for housemasters and for house staff in all schools, and improved salary scales have recently been agreed for these categories.
As opportunity occurs in rebuilding schemes, we are also seeking to improve the living conditions for residential staff in the schools. I hope, in all modesty, that the attention being given to these matters will help to overcome the shortage of staff from which many of the schools have suffered and to improve their conditions.
§ Mr. W. A. Wilkins (Bristol, South)
I am sorry to interrupt the Home Secretary, but I should like to suggest to him that he has omitted one rather important point from the eight which he has mentioned. I suggest that he might add a ninth point to the ones which he has already put forward in his consideration of the environment conditions which are, perhaps, responsible for some juvenile delinquency.
I wonder whether the right hon. Gentleman would include the type of film which is depicted on television screens, mainly in an appeal to the child mind, which very often shows the shooting down of human beings in a callous sort of way which must leave an impression on children's minds. I think that 570 many people share my view on this. They regard this as an extremely important factor in child delinquency and think that the Home Secretary might pay some attention to that aspect of the problem.
§ Mr. Butler
We have already had contacts with the authorities concerned, Independent Television and the B.B.C. They have themselves set up their own inquiries into this matter. I myself spoke on this when opening the Congress organised by the National Union of Teachers recently, and while I cannot enlarge on what I said then, I willingly add that to the categories I have described; and I have no doubt that it will be included in the OFFICIAL REPORT and the general volume of my speech.
I will now describe further some of the salient features of the Bill. The future pattern of borstal, detention centres and attendance centre training is taken up in Clauses 1, 3, 4 to 7, 10 and 11. The future of the approved schools is dealt with in Clauses 14 to 19, the extended system of after care in Clause 13 and the First Schedule, Clause 14 and the Second Schedule, and Clause 20 and the Third Schedule.
The special powers of the courts to deal with certain grave offences committed by children and young persons and the substantial increases in maximum fines that they and their parents can be ordered to pay are in Clauses 2 and 8, together with the provision for moving unsuitable offenders from approved schools to other penal institutions in Clauses 16 and 17, and, finally, the powers to amalgamate the Prison Commission and the Home Office in Clause 23. That is an orthodox Second Reading manner of referring to the various Clauses of the Bill. If I take them under those headings, it will probably be convenient and shorter.
First, as to detention in borstals, detention centres and attendance centres. Under Clause 1, the minimum age for a sentence of borstal training is lowered from 16 to 15 and a court will be able to pass such a sentence whenever it thinks it expedient that the offender should be detained for training for not less than six months, although, if an offender is under 17, the court may not impose a borstal sentence unless it is of the opinion that no other method of dealing with him is appropriate. The 571 maximum term of sentence of borstal training is reduced from three years to two years and the minimum term from nine months to six months.
This proposal in Clause 11 is simply based on practical experience of the value of an intensive régime of training for the young. At present, the average time spent in borstal is sixteen months. This is approximating the Bill to present practice and experience that the effect of short but severe attendance at borstal is likely to last. The Clause also makes consequential adjustment of the period of compulsory supervision after discharge on licence.
The provisions relating to detention centres owe their origin to the reports of the Advisory Council and of the Ingleby Committee. Here, we have something which is brought in from the Ingleby Committee. These provisions are to be found in Clauses 4 to 7. Under the Bill, the courts will have a variety of choice: short term in detention centres, medium term, chiefly in borstals, and long term in prison.
Clause 3 restricts the imprisonment of offenders under 21 to sentences of six months or less, or of three years or more, or eighteen months or more if the offender has previously been sentenced to imprisonment or borstal training. The power to impose sentences of six months or less will cease when enough detention centres are available. When the scheme is fully in operation, which from the statement about detention centres will be seen not to be far away, most young offenders will be kept out of prison.
I do not see this greater emphasis on detention centres and borstals as something that will make the way of the transgressor softer or more agreeable. There will be more borstals than hitherto, including more closed borstals, and the greater range of establishments available will ultimately make it possible to have a wide variation in treatment, particularly for boys who need to be in a secure establishment. The régime will be brisk and exacting, as it has been up to now in the experience on a modest scale that we have had.
That experience and, so far, the after care of the boys who have left, has 572 indicated to us that the detention centre, in particular, has a great part to play in dealing with the young offender. Imprisonment will remain, but it will be restricted to those cases that are so serious that committal to prison is unavoidable.
Clause 10, in particular, deals with attendance centres and sets the minimum age at which a child may be ordered to attend an attendance centre at 10 instead of 12. I should like to take this chance of commending the attendance centres, of which we now have over 40 for boys under the age of 17, as well as the experimental one at Manchester for youths aged 17 to 21. I believe that they are a valuable means of checking a boy's drift into delinquency at an early stage and that greater use might be made of them.
I now come to the future of the approved schools. We have taken from Mr. Durand's Report certain suggestions for dealing with the minority of turbulent and subversive youths who try to disrupt the discipline of the schools. That came out forcibly in the Durand Report and we have accepted that advice in Clauses 16 and 17. I am also seeking additional powers over the management of voluntary approved schools, whose work I am anxious to preserve and encourage.
Under Clause 18, I can give directions to the managers of approved schools. I intend, of course, to rely as far as possible on persuasion, but I should like to have this power in reserve. Under Clause 19, I have the power to make an instrument of management for a voluntary approved school. I have copied the precedent which I inserted in the Education Act, 1944, in relation to voluntary schools. I also take powers in exceptional circumstances to appoint additional managers.
I am sure that these new powers, combined with the new building programme and the new outlook for the teachers in the schools, will spell out a new era for the approved schools. I should like to make it quite plain that I am not prepared, any more than I was in the Education Act, to destroy the voluntary approved schools. We may well discuss these matters, but I wanted to put out the position as I see it and 573 the reforms that I am attempting to make.
As for the provisions on after care in particular, Clause 14 and the Second Schedule completely——
§ Mr. Charles Royle (Salford, West)
Before he leaves the question of institutions, can the right hon. Gentleman say something about remand centres? I know that there is no reference to them in the Bill, but some of us are worried about this point.
§ Mr. Butler
I will not add anything on remand centres at this stage, but I will put it before my right hon. and learned Friend the Attorney-General, who will wind up the debate.
The provisions on after care in Clause 14 and the Second Schedule completely revise the system of after care of persons released from approved schools on lines recommended by the Ingleby Committee. For adult offenders, we are extending the scope of compulsory after care so as to provide the supervision and support during the crucial period after discharge. Nothing we can do for a young man while he is in prison is of any value unless we can negotiate the readjustment to freedom successfully. If we can help him here, we may substantially reduce recidivism or, in simple English, return to prison. This is one of the most important and potentially beneficial proposals in the Bill.
The House will want to examine closely the provisions for recall. The extension of compulsory after care will create new problems of organisation and will, no doubt, also affect the arrangements for providing voluntary after care for those who are not subject to statutory supervision. It is my intention to invite the Advisory Council to undertake a review of the existing practice and to consider how far any changes in the organisation of statutory or voluntary after care are desirable or practicable.
I now come to the next heading, the extended powers of courts and increased fines, which are dealt with in Clauses 2 and 8. The Bill will strengthen the hands of the courts in dealing with children and young persons. Clause 2 extends the existing power of higher courts to sentence children and young persons found guilty of grave crimes to 574 detention in such place and such conditions as the Secretary of State may direct. This is at present restricted to attempted murder, manslaughter and wounding with intent to cause grievous bodily harm.
Under the Clause, however, the power will apply to any offence punishable in the case of adults with fourteen years' imprisonment or more. This includes all the most serious offences, among them burglary, certain sexual offences with juveniles, causing grievous bodily harm with intent to maim, using firearms with intent to resist apprehension, housebreaking and committing a felony, rape and robbery with violence or when armed. The Clause notably abolishes the remaining powers of the courts to sentence a person under 17 to imprisonment.
Clause 8 raises to levels in keeping with the present value of money the maximum limits that govern the imposition of fines on children and young persons or on parents for their children's offences. I attach great importance, as did the Ingleby Committee, to enabling the courts to bring home to parents their responsibility for their children's conduct. This object is advanced by subsection (4), which puts beyond doubt the power of the courts to require the parent to pay compensation for loss occasioned by his child's offences.
I come, finally, to the powers in Clause 23 which we wish to take to amalgamate the Prison Commission and the Home Office. Clause 23 enables Her Majesty by Order in Council to transfer to the Secretary of State any or all of the functions of the Prison Commissioners and, if all these functions are transferred, to dissolve the Prison Commission as a statutory authority. It is necessary when examining the Clause, to get it into focus, to realise that immense changes have taken place since the Prison Commission was established in 1877.
The Prison Commission was established simply to provide and run establishments for the secure custody of prisoners. It was the Home Office alone that was concerned with policy. In recent years, however, the headquarters staff of the Prison Commission has been strengthened to enable it to play a greater part in the development of policy 575 and to take on some administrative duties previously undertaken by the Home Office. Now, we find that the original division of responsibility between the Prison Commission as an executive authority and the Home Office, which is the Department concerned with policy, has disappeared.
These changes have been the logical development of penal policy. In consequence, it has become increasingly clear that the Secretary of State's responsibility for the Prison Commission, as regards both the formulation of policy and its execution, is really the same as my responsibility for the Home Office. That is reflected in my day-to-day detailed answers in the House. The working relationship between the Commission and the Home Office, both in the discussion of broad policy and on day-to-day matters of administration, has never been so close. In my experience extending over several years, it is almost identical. The continued existence of the Prison Commission as a separate statutory body has thus become less important and largely unreal.
I should like to make clear that the present proposal in the Bill to take powers implies no reflection whatever on the work of the Prison Commission. Goodness knows, there has never been a more distinguished body. Its very distinguished Chairman, Sir Lionel Fox, has just retired and has been succeeded by an able, young man. The more one can say in praise of the work of the Prison Commission, the more apt that praise would be.
I should like to make it clear that this does not foreshadow any drastic or dramatic change. For example, it is not intended to place in fresh hands the duties of those who, as Commissioners and others, are responsible to the Secretary of State for administering the prison system. The dissolution of the Commission as a statutory authority will not mean the dissolution of the Prison Board as a team of administrative and professional officials. The large staff of public servants of all ranks who man the institutions and the head office will have every encouragement to foster and maintain the pride in their service which they have developed to a remarkable degree.
576 Before I conclude, I should like to give the House examples of the modern need for further integration. For example, links between the prison and probation services and between approved school and borstal services may in this manner be brought closer and, therefore, lead to better working.
As Secretary of State, I am concerned with the reformative aspects of prison treatment and their development in relation to other kinds of treatment. Eventually, I should like to see—if it comes about, we may look back to this in future years—what is now the Prison Commission become a part of a wider organisation covering all Home Office responsibilities for criminal justice and the treatment of offenders. That reform might be supported by both sides of the House.
The power which is being sought in the Bill is to give Parliamentary approval to a situation which has developed and to give authority for a formal degree of integration. While I do not doubt that the power is susceptible of criticism, I hope that my explanation will put it in rather a better setting than may have appeared up to date.
I do not think that I need go into details about Parts III or IV of the Bill. I feel sure that all the proposals in the Bill will have useful results. The two aspects of the Bill to which I attach particular importance are, first, the provisions of Part I. These establish a new pattern for the treatment of young offenders. We shall have a logical and practical range of discipline powers available to the courts, and, which is most important for young people, a power of deciding which form of detention best suits the young man or the young woman. That is the best way to deal with young people, whether in the realm of opportunity or the realm of discipline. There will be detention centres for those who need a short period of training, borstal for those who need longer training, and prison reserved only for those few for whom borstal is inappropriate or whose offences are so grave that detention for three or more years is necessary.
§ Mr. Christopher Mayhew (Woolwich, East)
It was not clear from the Home Secretary's earlier remarks whether he 577 intends a change of discipline inside borstal compared with what has been normal.
§ Mr. Butler
I am glad to say that I do not intend any change in the closed borstal, which is the more severe kind of borstal. I hope that the open borstal will continue to develop as an equivalent, in its own way, to certain forms of school.
There is a vital difference between the closed and the open borstal, which I wish to retain. The closed borstal deals with boys who need severe training. The open borstal takes boys who need the more redemptive opportunities of the open borstal system. The hon. Gentleman himself, in his work in investigation, will have noticed the striking difference between the closed and the open system. I shall attempt to retain that.
Secondly, I attach great importance to the proposals about after care, which I have defined, and hope that they will be closely examined by the House. I believe that if we can give effective help and guidance to those who most need it when they return to society we may, by this small Bill, hope to achieve results of great value.
I have no doubt whatever that during the passage of the Bill constructive comments and suggestions will be made by hon. Members. They will certainly be received in the spirit in which they are offered. I shall welcome all suggestions during the passage of the Bill. Today, I commend it to the House as a contribution to a problem that concerns us all and demands all the resourcefulness and vigour that we can command.
§ 4.24 p.m.
§ Mr. Gordon Walker (Smethwick)
I was glad to hear what the Home Secretary said about the need to bring the police up to full strength, particularly in the Metropolitan area. I welcome his statement that he will give quick and sympathetic attention to the interim Report of the Royal Commission which is concerned with pay and conditions of the police.
I hope that the right hon. Gentleman, for his part, will give us credit for the setting up of the Royal Commission. It would never have been set but for the pressure which came from this side of the House over a certain case. I hope 578 that we shall have a mutual exchange of compliments on this matter.
The right hon. Gentleman described the Bill as a small Bill. I shall have some adverse comments to make about its scope and adequacy, but I want to start by saying something about what I regard as the qualities of the Bill. One is a negative quality, in that it quite intentionally excludes flogging from the range of punishments which should be provided for by the law. I was very glad to hear the right hon. Gentleman say that he accepts the Report which has been recently published on this. On the positive side, the Bill has the virtue that it is a move towards the ending of imprisonment for the under-21s, except in very grave cases, and towards a new and better concept of after-care.
Flogging is an issue which raises a great deal of heat and emotion, but I hope that it will not raise so much that it diverts attention from other very important aspects of the Bill.
§ Sir Thomas Moore (Ayr)
Will the right hon. Gentleman please drop the word "flogging" and use the words "corporal punishment"?
§ Mr. Gordon Walker
I like to use my own vocabulary. The hon. Baronet can use his. Unless it is an unparliamentary word, I am fully entitled to say "flogging" when I mean it and "corporal punishment" when I mean it. I do not know if the hon. Baronet is one of those who distinguishes between birching and the cat and all the rest of it. I think that such distinctions are false and should not be drawn. I said "flogging". I say "flogging" now, and I shall repeat it.
I hope that the heat and emotion will not divert us from consideration of other very important matters raised by the Bill. I do not doubt that the advocates of corporal punishment and flogging will make a great deal of the public opinion poll which appeared in March of this year and showed that 70 per cent. of those questioned expressed themselves as in favour of flogging—that was the word used, I think. We do not have government by public opinion poll in this country, nor government by judges.
§ Mr. Gordon Walker
I am glad that the right hon. and learned Gentleman said that. Nor do we have government by the Conservative Party conference, the 1922 Committee, or anything else.
§ Mr. Gordon Walker
No. We make up our own minds, which is what I am just coming on to say.
Nor are we governed by judges. In the matter of penal reform we can count ourselves lucky that we have not listened to the collective views of the judges through the decades and the centuries. If we had, we should have made very much less progress than we have. Parliament alone must decide this, after listening to argument and having discussion across the Floor of the House. This is peculiarly an issue which should be settled by Parliament rather than by plebiscite, referendum, public opinion poll, or anything else.
One of the striking things about the problem is the great difference between the instinctive and emotional opinion, reached by people without having heard argument, and the opinion which is arrived at after study and argument. No body or group in the country which has given real study to the problem and listened to argument is in favour of the reintroduction of flogging.
§ Mr. Gordon Walker
The Advisory Council started by being divided on the issue. After very careful study, it came out unanimously against the introduction of flogging. I agree entirely with the right hon. Gentleman that it is a very powerful and representative body and anything but a lot of "softies". The right hon. Gentleman's picture of the composition of the Advisory Council proved entirely that it is a responsible and representative body.
The Magistrates' Association is another example. Its members, replying to a postal vote without hearing any argument, were in favour of restoring flogging. On the other hand, the Council, which considers, discusses and argues every matter, was by a substantial majority against its reintroduction. The prison governors are divided—there is no majority in favour of it. The borstal 580 governors are against it, and 90 per cent. of the probation officers are against it. Wherever there has been careful, argued study and discussion the result has always been the same.
The case of the advocates seems to me to collapse because of their total inability to answer three very important questions. First, they have to establish that this type of punishment is a deterrent. If they want to make a major change that would put the clock back a hundred years, the onus is on them to establish that there is a deterrent, and I say that there is absolutely no evidence that it is a deterrent. Nowhere have I seen any evidence, apart from feeling and emotion, that this is a deterrent, and the Advisory Council's Report confirms that.
It is no good the advocates saying, "Let us try it for five years and see whether it is a deterrent." They have on them the onus of proof. Otherwise, that argument could be used for any alleged deterrent—the thumbscrew, the stocks, or anything else. We cannot just say, "We feel that something is a deterrent, so let us try it out on the country." One has to establish some sort of proof that it is a deterrent——
§ Sir T. Moore
Why did crimes of violence increase from 2,800 a year to 13,800 after this deterrent was withdrawn?
§ Mr. Gordon Walker
That interruption seems to me to be clear proof that the hon. Gentleman has not read the Report, where the whole matter is dealt with absolutely clearly. I shall not go into all the statistics now, because I take it that those interested have read the Report. I would only say, first, that "crimes of violence" is a very curious expression, and includes and excludes offences that it should not. Secondly, there is no doubt that there has been no relation between the removal of flogging and the incidence of these offences.
The analogy that is often drawn between judicial corporal punishment and corporal punishment in schools and in the home breaks down because there is an inevitable delay in judicial flogging; it can rarely be imposed under several weeks. Further, as the Report says, there is a cold-blooded brutal formality about it that totally differentiates it from corporal punishment in the school or in the home.
581 The advocates of this form of punishment have to answer the further question: who is to administer the punishment? The police are unanimously against having this duty—if that is the word—thrust on them. The probation officers are unanimously against it. All the senior members of the prison service are against it. If this punishment were reintroduced, who would administer it?
It is, of course, absolutely necessary to deter criminals and to protect society against them. The real deterrent, as the Report makes clear and as we all know, is a high probability of being caught. That is one reason why it is so important to bring the police to full strength where they are at present below strength. The protection of society was provided by the introduction and availability of the full range of punishments that were originally foreseen in the Criminal Justice Act, 1948, which were designed both to reform the criminal and to protect society against him.
I believe that much of our present problem arises because neither of these things has been achieved under this Government. The police force is gravely under strength in the Metropolitan area, and we are still very far from having built the buildings and built up the services that were foreseen as long ago as 1948. The Government must bear their share of the blame for the very grave crisis of crime that we are facing.
It is characteristic of the Government that they do not really like public expenditure and regard it as a bad thing. It is because of that that every public service is short of staff, whether it be the Metropolitan Police, the prison officers or the probation officers. Prison building is extremely short. Office blocks can go up all over the place, but in the course of nine years of office of this Government it has been impossible to build one new prison. The failure to build enough detention centres—although I was glad that the right hon. Gentleman said that 10 are being planned—and the total failure to build a single remand centre very greatly reduces the effectiveness of this Bill.
First, there is the stopping of the imprisonment of those under 21 years of age. The present position is really scandalous, and a blot on the national conscience. If we look at the 1959 Report of the 582 Prison Commissioners, we find that in one year the number between 16 and 21 who were received into prison under a sentence of imprisonment was 2,660. What is much worse, the number under 21 who were received into prison on remand and not subsequently sentenced to imprisonment—just held in remand for various reasons—was no less than 4,585. Those were young people who should not have been in prison, but were held there because we have not the remand centres that we ought to have. Because we have not those remand centres, the Bill will do very little to remedy this grave scandal.
Clause 3 retains the imprisonment of the under-21s for up to six months specifically because, as is explained in the later part of the Clause, there are not the detention centres. The right hon. Gentleman said that 10 of these are planned. When those 10 are in being, will they be enough to bring this part of the Bill into operation?
§ Mr. R. A. Butler
As I said, there are to be 12. There are to be 10 by next year, and 12 after that. But we shall have eight senior ones.
§ Mr. Gordon Walker
I asked whether that number would be enough to deal with the proviso which says that the removal of the right to send young people to prison after six months depends on there being enough detention centres. I ask whether the 10 centres will be enough to enable that proviso to be brought into force.
§ Mr. Butler
We envisage that our programme will be sufficient to enable the Bill to be operated properly, and the reason we have put in the proviso is to make sure that the building programme is carried out at the same time, so that we can coincide the two things.
§ Mr. Gordon Walker
I am glad to hear that, but I am sorry that it cannot be brought directly into force.
Clause 1, which reduces the minimum age for sentence to borstal from 16 to 15, will clearly need much thought. There is a lot of argument for and against that, but it seems to me that this also ought to be postponed until our remand centres are there. Otherwise, we shall sometimes find that a child between 15 and 16 will have to be sent on remand 583 to prison to await sentence by quarter sessions because they alone can commit to borstal. Unless there are the remand centres, this could be a very reactionary Clause. It could actually lower the age of admission to prison on remand.
As I say, only quarter sessions may commit to borstal, and it may be necessary to wait from the juvenile court proceedings to the quarter sessions proceedings. If there is no remand centre there may be nowhere other than prison to send these very young people. Therefore, whatever may be the merits of the main issue of reducing the age, I am sure that this provision should be postponed until there are sufficient remand centres——
§ Mr. T. L. Iremonger (Ilford, North)
The right hon. Gentleman is possibly creating the impression that young offenders sent on remand to prison are sent to prison. That is not the case at all. The prisoner on remand is kept quite separate from the others. It is not as though he were going to prison.
§ Mr. Gordon Walker
I wish that that were the case, but our local prisons are so overcrowded that it often happens that there is not that separation. But even to send a boy of 15 into a prison, in any circumstances, seems to me so unthinkable that it should not be done. This part of the Bill should be postponed.
The same sort of story applies to after-care. Because of shortage of staff, that cannot be carried out nearly as well as it ought to be. The provision of compulsory after-care certainly introduces a very important new principle that I wholly and totally support. The prime purpose of justice is to make sure that the released prisoner does not go back to prison, but it is still too frequently true that a prisoner's real punishment starts not on the day that he enters prison, but on the day that he leaves it. That is still true. One cause of the reversion of a released prisoner to crime and his return to prison is that he often finds that only amongst his old criminal associates can he find the society in which he feels at home and has personal status.
This is one of the reasons why there is so much of this returning to prison, although, of course, it is not the only 584 reason. The present state of affairs is bad. The Report of the Advisory Council on the After-Care and Supervision of Discharged Prisoners, at page 27, states that of prisoners serving a second to fourth term, one in four had no home to go to when they left prison, and that one in ten had no employment when they left prison. So this is a fairly considerable element in this problem of recidivism.
The Bill itself introduces a new principle in compulsory after-care of prisoners, and as regards young criminals and young persons I take it that it restores the position as it was before the case of Regina v. Evans in 1958 and somewhat extends it. This idea of aftercare for prisoners is very greatly frustrated by the shortage of probation officers. Clause 20 produces, as the Report of the Advisory Council makes clear, a list which is arbitrarily limited and adjusted not to the real needs but to the availability of probation officers. This shows how much the shortage of people and of buildings affects the progress of penal reform in this country.
I want to ask the right hon. Gentleman one question on Clause 20. Why should prisoners under a life sentence be excluded from compulsory after-care? Lots of them are released.
§ The Attorney-General (Sir Reginald Manningham-Buller)
My right hon. Friend has power under the existing law, when he releases prisoners on licence, to make them undertake to undergo supervision, so that it is not necessary to put it in Clause 20.
§ Mr. Gordon Walker
I do not know that I agree with that. After-care does not start on release. It starts from the early stages of being in prison. It is no good unless it starts early and unless it relates to work in prison and to contacts between the probation officer and the prisoner. This does not seem a satisfactory explanation, although I am glad they are not actually excluded. It does not seem to me that they are adequately included, because after-care does not start merely when a man is released.
A sanction is clearly needed if compulsory after-care is to work, and, therefore, there must be recall, but recall means imprisonment and it should be 585 done by the courts and judicial authorities and not by the Administration. As to prisoners, this seems to me to be reasonably satisfactory. There is to be a justices' warrant and an independent recall board. But as to young detainees I am more worried on this score.
Under the First Schedule, the Prison Commissioners can recall to a detention centre, and, as I read the Schedule, they can actually detain a boy for a longer period than that to which he was originally sentenced by the court. Under the Second Schedule, managers of approved schools, who are voluntary people and not even under State control, can recall and they, too, can subject a boy to a longer period of detention than the court originally imposed upon him.
This seems to me to be wrong in principle, and I hope that the right hon. and learned Gentleman will give some attention to this in his reply. I hope that he will not tell me that there are some precedents about borstal, and so forth, because when there are bad precedents they should not be followed; they should be abolished when opportunity offers. It is undesirable that young delinquents should get the wrong idea of the law of this country. The law is that only courts can punish and imprison—not managers of approved schools, nor the Prison Commission. This matter needs careful consideration.
I do not like the reduction in the age from 12 to 10 in attendance centres, which is proposed in Clause 10. Although it was recommended in the Ingleby Report, it seems wrong and retrograde, and will leave too great an age spread in these centres.
With regard to approved schools, we are not satisfied that the provisions the Bill go far enough. We think that the service that is so far provided out of public funds should have a greater public control over it, and we need a more integrated system. However, my hon. Friend the Member for Leeds, South-East (Miss Bacon) will deal with this when she speaks at the end of the debate.
Coming to Clause 23, relating to the power to end the Prison Commission and to take it into the Home Office, this was originally in the 1948 Measure. It was then withdrawn. There are some very divided opinions on this point. On 586 the whole, I am in favour of the Clause. I have the highest possible regard for the Prison Commissioners. They initiated a great deal of the prison reform in this country; none the less it is anomalous that an independent body should have such great power over liberty and ever-increasing powers of recall, release, and so on—powers which should not be exercised by an independent body. It seems to me that these powers, which will become greater, must be exercised by a Department belonging to a Minister who is himself responsible to Parliament. This is a principle which outweighs the arguments on the other side. I therefore personally welcome this Clause.
The Bill makes a little progress and takes steps in the right direction, but it seems to me very inadequate to the tasks and the crises facing the country. Although nobody thinks that any Government or Parliament alone can combat or reduce crime, the Government, none the less, have a great deal of responsibility. Our research is still lamentably inadequate. The Advisory Council's Reports are full of complaints that there is no real knowledge. There has never been research into after-care. Our criminal statistics are wholly misleading in many respects. One works in the dark in much of this field. The Government are responsible for this. It is nothing to do with the sort of society that we have. The amount of research that we have depends upon decisions taken by the Government.
The relationship of crime to the social environment is a very complex question. Many factors and instruments must be involved. As I see it, crime must be held to be due to defects of character in the criminal and, therefore, we cannot eradicate this. On the other hand, the amount of crime at any one time must, as I think the right hon. Gentleman said, depend in part on whether or not we have the sort of society that checks or stimulates the defects of character in a criminal.
Here, I think, the Government have a high responsibility, though not an exclusive one. The right hon. Gentleman said that an affluent society had special temptations, and this is quite true. But the present Government themselves have fostered a society in which 587 material advancement, personal success, selfishness and disregard of one's neighbour are encouraged.
§ Mr. Gordon Walker
It is part of the whole philosophy of the Government that each man should go for himself. The Government have fought elections on it. There are two matters on which I particularly want to touch, and both of them could still be remedied. First, it is wrong of the Government to tolerate fiscal dishonesty in high places with so much complacency. When people see rich people getting away with things of this sort, certainly this has a very grave effect on the whole tone and atmosphere of society. There is much more fiscal dishonesty in high places than there used to be.
§ Mr. Gordon Walker
I want to stop dishonesty in low places, too, if the Home Secretary will begin to stop it in high places. He has never shown any inclination to do so yet.
I think that commercial television plays a part in this. I was interested to note what my hon. Friend the Member for Bristol, South (Mr. Wilkins) said about horror films, and so forth. I am not myself so much concerned with that—I think that the effect is often exaggerated—but what worries me is that we have now in this country a new and potent instrument of advertising which makes a far greater impact than the Press or poster advertising, and which is devoted to spreading the idea of false values, of materialistic success, of an easy life without any effort as one's main aim, and that the highest good is personal advancement.
That is getting worse. As I watch commercial television advertisements, it seems to me, for instance, that advertisements for drink are being directed more and more to younger and younger people. This is a very bad thing, because it helps to create the wrong sort of social environment.
Then, the Government's whole approach is conditioned by the fact that they do not really like public expenditure. We regard it as a symbol of the 588 type of Government we have in this field of penal reform that, after nine years, not one remand centre has been built. This is an indictment of the Government and of the Home Secretary, who has been in office three years, and despite the fact that it was foreseen as early as 1948.
If we look at the Bill—and I agree that it has got some good things in it—as the fruit of nine years of Conservative Government and three years of the right hon. Gentleman's term of office, and we think of it as the best they can do to meet the very grave crisis of crime that is facing the country today, we see that it is a miserable sort of thing, one in which no one, least of all the Home Secretary, can have very much pride.
§ 4.52 p.m.
§ Sir Kenneth Pickthorn (Carlton)
Perhaps I may begin by making a few remarks about the speakers who have preceded me. I am bound to say that I was surprised that my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary, towards the beginning of his speech, should talk of action within the limits imposed by the courts and when he came to speak of Clause 20 and the Third Schedule did not indicate any awareness that the courts were being ousted. It may be right or wrong, I shall come to that in a moment, without being legally qualified. It slightly astonished me that a Minister who has the residual responsibility, all the responsibility that no other Minister has, for preserving legality and constitutionality should have passed over that part of the Bill without remark, and I was very glad that the right hon. Member for Smethwick (Mr. Gordon Walker) referred to it, although if I may say so without offence or patronage I think his reference was very inadequate.
Incidentally, on this idea of our not being governed by judges, I think it ought to be a little played down by hon. and right hon. Members opposite. We have had great decisions amounting almost to acts of government by judges, which have established essential liberties. The whole modern notion of the law of evidence, which stems from the Star Chamber, and otherwise from the common law as applied by the judges—the bulk of the law on habeas corpus as a guarantee of freedom, are laws made by judges; and we ought to stop this claptrap about not being governed by judges 589 and that we ought to be governed by the persons selected by the Opposition as having thought about these things. [Interruption.] The right hon. Gentleman told us that it is true that there is a great majority on one side on this important matter of public debate, but that the really thoughtful ones were all on the other side. That is a perfectly fair synopsis of what he said.
§ Sir K. Pickthorn
I was very glad indeed to hear my right hon. Friend speak about the necessity to strengthen the police, both in the technical sense in increasing their numbers up to establishment and perhaps increasing the establishment, and, perhaps even more important, of doing everything that possibly can be done to ensure that the police, in acting against violence, can always count upon the immediate sympathy of the general public. I do not believe that that has been so true of recent years as it was at one time. I believe that the greatest of all the heroes and martyrs of our liberties is Mr. Fiske, the bricklayer, the man who would not let go of the gunman whom he had seized, there being no police present, or, perhaps, the governess, whose name I have forgotten, who kept in sight the gunman who had murdered General Sir Henry Wilson at Eaton Place. These are the real heroes and martyrs of our liberties, and we should do everything we can to make sure that their memories live and are effective.
I want to begin my more or less prepared remarks—things I have thought of beforehand—with a very short allusion to the corporal punishment question. I hate all punishment. It is a detestable thing, and though it does not matter what my personal feelings are, I find myself more disturbed by long terms of imprisonment than I am by some sorts of corporal punishment—I am almost tempted to say, including hanging. It seems to me that to imprison a man for a long time means more than the remark of Dame Ethel Smyth who, when she was asked what 590 she specially noticed about prison, replied, "You can't get out". It is not only that, but it is the fact that the whole moral and intellectual nature of anyone who is not either a man of great virtue himself or visited by the grace of God—the whole man is apt to rot. We must, those of us who feel deeply against corporal punishment, if we are honest, admit that we feel deeply against all other punishments.
I think there are some matters, as, for instance, the Standing Orders recognise, of putting a burden on the taxpayer, but there are some other matters upon which there are no Standing Orders, and private Members should be laws unto themselves. It needs an overwhelming conviction for a private Member to want to aggravate or sharpen penalties. I am sometimes tempted to think that it ought to be done, but, on the whole, I am prepared to go on acquiescing in the opinions of my betters for a very long time and to go a very long way in believing that whatever authoritative opinion is against aggravation of punishment, may be held at least for the moment to be right. But I am bound to say I am rather shaken by the Advisory Council. I have all the respect for Advisory Councils which Advisory Councils demand from a respectable citizen, and I have a special respect for this especial Advisory Council, and a most especial respect for two or three members of it.
But I am bound to say I am extremely shaken by the logic of the Conclusion, from which it appears that the reasons against corporal punishment are that "there is a measure of agreement that it would be retrograde, and the Council is not sure that it is generally realised how retrogressive it would be". That does not seem to me to be a very strong argument against something, that one believes that there is considerable opinion against it, though not so strong as one would like. Or, almost putting the same thing in another way, they say that if we reintroduced corporal punishment there would be adverse comment abroad.
And then the Advisory Council goes on, rather like the right hon. Gentleman opposite, to assume the case against putting the clock back. I hope it is not disrespectful, Mr. Speaker, to presume 591 that you look at the clock as often as any man. It must have occurred to you that putting the clock back 12 hours is really indistinguishable from putting the clock on 12 hours, and not very easily distinguishable from leaving the clock alone. Really, this very foolish metaphor ought long ago to have ceased to be used, especially when it is combined with suggestions about adverse comment abroad. It is merely an example of the modern fallacy of bowing down to fashion in precisely those parts of life wherein fashion is wholly irrelevant. I could well understand it being said that it would be behind the times and subject to disapproval in Paris and in the better parts of Vienna if we raised the hemlines of the judges' robes or lowered the waist-lines of policemen's tunics. What all this has to do with whether corporal punishment is a good thing or not, I really fail to understand. That was all I wanted to say about corporal punishment. I hope it is enough to induce the House to take the subject more seriously than it has usually been taken.
I want now to say a few words about the Clauses and Schedules to which the Home Secretary alluded—Clauses 13, 20 and 23 and the First, Third and Fifth Schedules, I think they are. Here I have to undertake to expound the law to hon. Gentlemen and even to hon. and learned Gentlemen. I hope that they will bear with me. If I get it wrong, and it does not matter—let me go on—but if I say something which is spoiling the argument, I hope they will correct me. I hope and believe that what I am about to say is right. I have taken all the trouble I could and I have consulted experts.
Under the Criminal Justice Act, 1948, to which the right hon. Gentleman referred without appearing to be aware that very much of it is amended and very much is repealed by the Bill before us, there are classes of persons who are now to be at a disadvantage compared with the same classes or any other class in previous years. Under that Act, they could have been put under supervision orders, unless the court otherwise determined, for 12 months, subject to the Prison Act, Section 29, and they had to register with the police and report monthly. So far as appears on the Statute Book, that was the whole of the requirements put upon them. The penalty for 592 non-compliance by those people was, after summary conviction—again, therefore, upon the order of a court—six months.
Now, under the new Clause 20, supervision orders are to be made not by assize or quarter sessions but by the Prison Commissioners, in other words, by a purely administrative authority, which indeed, in another part of the Bill is made more plainly and unmistakably administrative even than it has been hitherto. That is the direction in which the taking over of these things is to move. Again, non-compliance here is punished not by a court but by a recall board. I do not know whether that is an old term of art or a new one. It was new to me.
The House will notice what the difference is between a recall board and any sort of court: it is not public; it is bound by no rules of evidence or procedure. A recall board may administer oaths; that is all we really know about its procedure, that it may administer oaths. It is subject to no appeal. It accepts written evidence on what, from the point of view of the accused, is the essential point at the time, from a probation officer; whereas under the 1952 Act, which, also, was referred to, I think, by the right hon. Gentleman opposite, it had to be a chief officer of police, an officer in charge of a station or the Commissioner in the the Metropolis, who submitted evidence; and, of course, the evidence of those officers under that Act came before a court. Now, many other officers are to be allowed to give evidence, which is not to come before a court, but is to be with authority at this stage.
I have not yet told the House what is the class of persons to which I am referring. Perhaps I should pause now to do so, though I have no doubt that all those who are interested know. The class of persons, quite true, is a class of criminal persons, and, for all I have to say to the contrary, almost all criminals are undeserving persons. But that is not the line of approach which is suitable in this connection. These are criminals who have been sentenced to four years or more, or to six months on a second offence, or six months where the criminals are 25 years of age or younger. That is, I think, what it means, although the drafting is bad.
593 These people so sentenced will, upon release, come under supervision and, as far as I can make out, there is no specification or limit to the requirements which may be put upon them by their supervisors. Is that right? So far as I can make out, there is nothing in the Bill and there is nothing limiting in an earlier Statute. I do not see how there could be anything at common law or in practice. It is in these ways, therefore, that this particular class of Her Majesty's subjects may be treated by something which is not a court. Yet there is talk against putting the clock back. Incidentally, we heard today that there was serious consideration going on of the possibility of providing compensation for the injured in cases of crimes, of violence and others. That is really, if anything, putting the clock back. That is going back to our pre-Anglo-Saxon ancestors in the woods of Germany. That is where all the criminal law came from, that is where the whole thing started. However, not to go back quite so far as that, for that is only so far on the stocks, it is really fair to say that some of Her Majesty's subjects may have to endure anything up to 12 or very nearly 12 months' detention which they otherwise would not endure, without any kind of judicial intervention. The process by which that happens is putting the clock back with a vengeance. It goes quite a long way behind Magna Carta and I think it goes back behind King Alfred, though I am not sure that it goes back so far as the principle of compensation for the injured.
Who is taking the place of the courts?—mere bureaucrats. I say "mere" in no pejorative sense but as Queen Elizabeth I meant when she said she was "mere English". It is a pure bureaucracy, so far as I can see, except in so far as my right hon. Friend—here again I was frightened by what he said—calls in aid Parliamentary responsibility. In spite of much that we often say and in spite of the fact that many of our privileges depend upon our having on a series of occasions taken up judicial matters, I undertake to say, although it is difficult to prove a negative, that this never was a cause in this sense nor was there ever a debate in the House as if the House were a court of appeal in a criminal or quasi-criminal matter which ever did the House any honour. The House may sometimes 594 have increased its privileges in that way in the course of time, but it has never done the House in which the occasion occurred any honour, and I think that we should be very careful indeed about that.
The Prison Commissioners are to be made more bureaucratic. Who are the recall board to be? We are not told how many recall boards there are. I should be grateful if we could be told the answer to that question. Are there to be many of them, or a single board with a series of different avatars, subcommittees, and so on? All that we can gather from the Schedule is that there will be at least three lawyers on the board. I will not say that they will all be bad lawyers, only that they will be all unsuccessful lawyers. There will be at least an equal number of non-lawyers; and there are to be no inhibitions about its procedure.
The only point at which anyone who could be called in any way a judicial person comes into the process, so far as I can understand it—and I have read this part of the Bill often—is under paragraph 2 of the Third Schedule. I hope that the right hon. Gentleman who is to reply to the debate will reinform himself about this. Where, on application by the Prison Commissioners—again the "prosecution" is launched by the Prison Commissioners—a justice of the peace who has experience as a prison visitor thinks that there is reasonable cause to believe that there has been non-compliance—he has not got to have it proved before him that there has been non-compliance by the supervisee—he may warrant arrest and imprisonment for three weeks, which may be lengthened if it is inconvenient for the recall board to deal with the poor chap within three weeks.
When the chap does get before the recall board—I admit that this is almost certainly a drafting error—in order to go on holding him the recall board does not have to find that there has been any non-compliance. It may let him out if it does so find, and it may let him out if it thinks that he is likely to be good in the future without reference to the fact whether he has been non-compliant in the past or not. That is a comparatively minor, and perhaps drafting, point and perhaps ought to be left to the Committee stage.
595 I must apologise for speaking for so long. However, this is not an easy matter to deal with quickly. I have one other paragraph which I should like to add, or perhaps two. One concerns the general proposition that Her Majesty's subjects should not be subjected to arrest or detention except by direct order of a court: I hope that on that I have the sympathy and agreement of everyone in the House.
Secondly, one more particular thing. I believe that the philosophy of penology which the right hon. Gentleman—I hope that he is listening to this——
§ Sir K. Pickthorn
—I believe that the philosophy which is assumed by him and by almost every other one of our contemporaries in these matters, and indeed almost stated by the right hon. Gentleman, I am inclined to believe is a mistake; I am sure that it is extremely debatable: namely, the assumption that there is something superior about trying to be reformatory rather than trying to deter. I think that assumption is a fundamental error. I believe I could show that both in practical effect and in moral altitude it may be argued to be inferior.
I want to indicate the possibility of the other view. We have often been told that the Home Secretary wants to be progressive, and I am glad to hear it. But we must be a little careful lest, for the sake of gaining victory, we destroy the purpose for which the victory is sought. It is no good the Home Office getting more and more progressive if we are to have, not from the lunatic fringe of floggers, but the argument that we had today from the right hon. Gentleman opposite about—I have forgotten the phrase; it was an odd one—a severe crisis, I think it was, of crime increase. It is no good the Home Office getting more and more progressive if that is going to be the result. I beg hon. and right hon. Gentlemen to think it possible that the moral improvement of the criminal, like most of the other higher objects of existence, should be an indirect object, that the object of imprisonment should be the prevention of crime and that the State's business in the odious duty of punishing is to be justly preventive of injustice.
596 Assuming for a moment that there is something in that view rather different from the one which is fashionably current, let us apply it to what is being done here. These are unfortunate people, perhaps very undeserving people. I do not suppose that they would put their feelings about punishment in the words that I have used in trying to be as quick as I could, but it is one of the terrible faults of intellectual snobbery to suppose that people are not in their bones aware of propositions which they could not put into words to which one happens to be accustomed. It is a terrible and odious mistake for those who happen to be more verbally quick or educated than the rest to make.
Such men are conscious that supervision is meant to improve them. They may be suspicious that Governments, when they set out to improve their subjects morally, hitherto have always turned tyrannous; they may even be such cads as to think that the thing sometimes turns into priggery. Certainly I feel—I use the word "feel" rather than the word "think"—that punishment with that purpose, designed for the moral improvement of the sufferer by way of deprivation of liberty without those features commonly assumed, and not least assumed among the criminal classes, to be both the marks and the essence of fairness—open trial, proper judge, jury, rules of evidence, appeal—I feel certain that such men would feel that punishment in that way would be unfair; and I am sure that in so far as the proper purpose is deterrent or moral improvement, or both, or each producing the other, the major hope must be, with human humility, that we can make it easier for the poor devil who has been caught to believe that his misfortunes, even his punishment, are his own fault. If we can do that, all the rest may be added unto us. In order to do that, we must come with our hands cleaner than ever they had to be in the Court of Chancery.
§ 5.18 p.m.
§ Sir George Benson (Chesterfield)
It is so long since I addressed the House that I almost feel inclined to ask the indulgence which is always shown to the first offender. I think that when considering our penal system the three custodial forms of treatment are regarded as having three entirely different purposes. A 597 prison is associated with punishment; borstal with reform; and detention with deterrence, owing to that rather unfortunate phrase which was once used, the short, sharp shock.
I think that these differentiations are entirely obsolete. As a matter of fact, official policy in respect of all these institutions is quite definitely reform. If hon. Members went to Lewes Prison—which is the one institution that is definitely an adolescents' prison—and compared it with a borstal at, say, Portsmouth, and did not know in which institution they were, I doubt very much whether any one of them would be able to distinguish whether it was a prison or a borstal.
Detention is a little more strenuous than prison or borstal because it is a shorter sentence, but here again the reform motive has certainly come to the fore ever since sentences of detention were introduced. As long ago as 1948, Sir Lionel Fox, who was then the very distinguished chairman of the Prison Commissioners, writing in the Probation Officers Magazine, not only repudiated the idea of punishment as being part of the purpose of our penal system, but went so far as to repudiate the concept of deterrence.
His point was that unless the Prison Commissioners could assume that the deterrence was implicit in the loss of liberty they could not go on with the job, which they regarded as their prime job, of making our penal system reformative. Sir Lionel said that loss of liberty alone must regarded as an element of deterrence.
Clauses 1 to 19 of this Bill deal with custodial treatment, in which I include prison, borstal and detention of adolescents. We have far more knowledge of those forms of treatment than we have of any other penal sanction. The reason is that those forms of treatment are the only ones in which there has been any attempt at real, profound research. Our knowledge stems primarily from the Mannheim-Wilkins research, which, as hon. Members will remember, was published by the Stationery Office in the booklet entitled "Prediction in Relation to the Borstal Treatment."
Prediction technique is based upon the statistical relationship between background 598 factors and subsequent failure or success. In this research borstal lads were classified into five groups to which were given the ascriptions A, B, X, C and D groups. Lads who fell into A group had a success rate of seven out of eight. Those in B group had a success rate of two out of three, those in X group an even chance, those in C group a success rate of only one out of three and those in D group a success rate of one out of eight.
This method proved so accurate that it is now used by the Prison Commissioners in their allocation of boys to their various borstals. It occurred to me that as prison, so far as adolescents are concerned, is very little different from borstal, borstal predictors might have some application to sentences a imprisonment on adolescents. The Prison Commissioners gave me the data relating to some 300 boys who had been sentenced to prison and who had passed through Lewes. The follow up period was similar to that of Mannheim and Wilkins. I classified them according to the borstal predictors into the A, B, X, C and D groups and got the astonishing result that imprisonment in Lewes gave results identical with borstal training.
The Prison Commissioners did not like that; they were horrified and I was surprised. In effect, the Prison Commissioners said, "This must be wrong. We have concentrated on reform in borstal. Borstal must give better results." They asked the research unit of the Home Office to do a check on Stafford Prison, which is the other big prison centre for adolescents. That check confirmed up to the hilt that imprisonment gave identical results with borstal. I now had the data of 300 Y.P.s at Lewes and 400 at Stafford. I had a sample of 700, which is a very large sample. Naturally, the first thing that occurs to one is whether there is any difference between a long sentence and a short sentence of imprisonment.
I amalgamated the two groups and divided them into those who had served nine months or less in prison and those who had served fifteen months or more. Allowing for one-third remission which is never lost from a punishment for young persons, that gave two groups—one with an average period in prison of four 599 months and the other with an average period in prison of fifteen months. I classified them again according to the borstal predictors, and again got the identical result. It did not matter whether a lad went to prison for four months or for fifteen months, the results were identical. Those in the A group showed seven out of eight successes, and those in D group seven out of eight failures.
The next obvious thing was to see what happened in Goudhurst Detention Centre. I asked for 300 records from that institution and the Prison Commissioners let me have them. Allowing for remission, the average length of sentence served in Goudhurst Prison was even shorter than other prison sentences. It was only eleven weeks. Again I classified according to the predictors, and again the result was identical. So we have the extraordinary position that no matter whether lads are sent for eleven weeks to a detention centre, for 18 months to a borstal or for four months or fifteen months to prison, the results are identical in every case. The A group will show seven out of eight successes, and the D group seven out of eight failures. Apparently, institutional treatment of various kinds makes little or no difference to the results.
I think that here we have struck what is possibly a fundamental fact in our penal law, and that law can be stated quite simply. "On a given type of individual all forms of penal treatment give identical results." That is surprising, but as far as I know there is only one example of penal treatment which is an exception.
This uniformity of results from penal treatment ought to have been realised many years ago. The first evidence is to be found in research by the Metropolitan Police in 1937, when they undertook a piece of research on first offenders. They took 20,000 first offenders who had been convicted in and around London in 1932 and made a five-year follow up. The result is staggering. Fine, dismissal, imprisonment gave identical results. On the other hand, curiously enough, the results from probation were worse. The reconviction rate varied with age, but sentence seemed to have little or no effect.
600 A couple of years ago the Home Office research unit started a piece of research into first offenders in Glasgow. As soon as I heard of it, I suggested that they should take out similar figures to those of the Metropolitan Police in 1932. They did this. They took out the effects of imprisonment, probation, dismissal and fine on five age groups. I will not read out the different age groups, because each group had its own reconviction rate. It was the age group and not the sentence which settled the rate of reconviction.
I will give the House the totals for imprisonment, dismissal, fine and probation and compare them with the English figures. I ask hon. Members to bear in mind that we are comparing these results in Scotland in 1954, when we had pretty well revolutionised our penal system and there was no unemployment, with conditions in 1932, when we had nearly 3 million unemployed.
These are the results: imprisonment, failure rate in England 19.7, in Scotland 22.1; dismissal failure rate in England 20.2, in Scotland 21; fine, failure rate in England 17.8, in Scotland 18.4. These figures are virtually identical. The variation is too small to be significant. Yet the English figures related to a time when there were upwards of 3 million unemployed and no social services; the Scottish figures to a period when there was no unemployment, when penal treatment had been revolutionised and we had the finest social services in the world. Yet the effect of the first sentence on a first offender remained completely unchanged. Frankly, I do not know the answer to that problem.
Vice-Admiral John Hughes Hallett (Croydon, North-East)
Will the hon. Member also give the figures for probation?
§ Sir G. Benson
The figures are higher, although I do not know why. The failure rate for probation in England was 29.7 per cent. and for some curious reason in Scotland it was 37 per cent., but the Scottish figures were based on a very small sample.
In the White Paper on Penal Practice we are told that in 1953–54, 87 per cent. of star prisoners were successful on a three-and-a-half year follow up. A star prisoner is not necessarily a first offender. The stars are a mixed bag. They are 601 persons who are in prison for the first time, broadly speaking; but they may have had several previous convictions which did not end in a prison sentence. They may include first offenders. According to the White Paper, in 1953–54 there was an 87 per cent. success rate for star prisoners. In 1930–31, before we had reformed our prison system, before we had any social services, and while we had a heavy unemployment rate, the result was 82 per cent. Apparently neither variation in prison conditions nor variation in social conditions has the slightest effect upon the results of our penal system.
Let us turn to corporal punishment. The Departmental Committee of 1938 came to the conclusion that it could not find a single shred of evidence to show that corporal punishment was any more effective than any other form of treatment, and that corporal punishment on top of a prison sentence was no more effective than a prison sentence without corporal punishment. The Advisory Council has just issued a report on corporal punishment. We had massive evidence in front of us, and we came unanimously to a conclusion, which confirmed completely the findings of the Departmental Committee in 1938. I know perfectly well that this will not have the influence on the floggers. Flogging is the result not of rational conviction but of an obsession. We have had flagellants throughout the ages, and we still have them. They were so much of a nuisance in the Middle Ages that the Pope made it a heresy, and at least one was burned at the stake. We are milder with them now.
A little while ago I was in prison. As I frequently do, when I visit a prison, I decided to have a meal in association with the prisoners. One learns a good deal that way, particularly if one gets them arguing. The tables are generally for six. I listened while they argued. But eventually one man after another left the table, took his implements away and went to play darts or perhaps to his cell.
I was left, finally, with one man, who was very forthcoming and very helpful. For instance, he gave me detailed instructions on how to break into a locked car at night when nobody was 602 about. He said that it was very profitable. I asked whether that was why he was in prison, and he replied, "No. That was what I was in for last time. This time I am in for brothel-keeping." I think I must have looked rather shocked, because he hastened to add, "Mind you, it was a very high-class brothel, with whips, and rods and birches; and you should have seen the pictures." Our floggers have some rum companions.
The more one examines the results of our penal system and our different forms of treatment, the more one is driven to the conclusion that all forms of penal treatment give exactly the same results on the same type of individual. It is true that some different types of crime have their own reconviction rate. For instance, we have overwhelming evidence, curiously enough, that crimes of sex and violence have a far lower reconviction rate than crimes against property. On the other hand, breaking and entering has a far higher reconviction rate.
This comes out extremely clearly if we examine that great piece of evidence, the Metropolitan Police figures for 1938. What is interesting is that what I might term these criminal patterns seem to be international. A little while ago I was reading the Report of the Illinois Parole Board. The board separates crimes into crimes indicative of early parole, crimes indicative of late parole—that means keeping the men in prison longer—and crimes which are neutral in this respect. The extraordinary thing is that crimes indicative of early parole were crimes of sex, violence and homicide, and the crimes indicative of late parole were breaking and entering.
If hon. Members will consult the details in the preface to the Criminal Statistics for 1938 they will find that that is exactly what happens here. Crimes of sex and violence showed a far lower reconviction rate than crimes against property, and breaking and entering and burglary showed a far higher rate. These matters therefore are curiously international. These results must be regarded as disturbing. There is an old saying that in the dark all cats are grey and it may well be that material which has 603 been primarily collected for administrative purposes is not the best material on which to try to base a penal policy or to estimate the results of penal treatment.
One of our major troubles is that we have done very little research into an immensely complicated problem. But thanks to the Ford Foundation we are now engaged in a piece of research incomparably superior to anything done in this country before, and one which, because of certain advantages in our penal system and crime statistics, will probably prove to be one of the finest pieces of research in the world. It is being carried out by University College, the Home Office, the Prison Commissioners and the National Social Survey.
I have a copy here of the questionnaire that has been prepared. Hon. Members who are magistrates will probably know the rather inadequate information that they get from the probation officer when they have to judge a case. This is a questionnaire which goes to the young prisoner's parents. There are 120 or 130 questions. Some of them may have as many as eight or nine alternative answers and we are taking 300 borstal boys, 300 prisoners and 300 probationers. This questionnaire will be filled up for all of them. We are getting absolutely first-class co-operation from parents.
There is a similar questionnaire for the youngsters themselves. Again, we shall have 900 of these questionnaires prepared because there are 300 for the three different types of treatment. We shall have to allow for the length of sentences and for a period of release to find out what the result of the sentence has been. When we have done that we shall have to analyse this enormous amount of data. I am bound to add, "Thank God for electronic computers." It may be eight, nine or ten years before we are through, but I think, as I have the honour to be chairman of the Committee, that I can say that although it may be late when it comes hon. Members will realise that this information will have been well worth waiting for.
§ 5.48 p.m.
§ Sir Thomas Moore (Ayr)
Although I know that we have all listened with deep interest to the sincere and sometimes moving speech of the hon. Member 604 for Chesterfield (Sir G. Benson), I do not suppose that he will wish me to follow him in his remarks, well knowing that my views and his are probably totally in opposition. The right hon. Member for Smethwick (Mr. Gordon Walker) asked three questions to which he wanted answers, and I propose to give them in the course of my speech.
In the Gracious Speech at the Opening of Parliament it was stated that the primary aim of Government policy is… to improve the protection of the community against crime.My right hon. Friend the Home Secretary preceded this announcement by saying on 14th October at Scarborough that:It is our intention to put the first emphasis on discipline"—and I stress the word "discipline" myself—and fighting crime.So far so good. Both were admirably said and the present Bill is the first result.
I would say straight away that it is an admirable Bill in many ways, but I confess that it appears to have a strange kinship with its predecessor the Criminal Justice Act, 1948—more detention centres, more remand homes, more borstals and, of course, more and better prisons, but they have just not materialised and the results sometimes have been very tragic.
I have in mind the case of a young constituent of mine. I mentioned this previously on a Friday, but there were so few hon. Members present that no one took much notice of it. The boy was 16½ years old. He had been convicted of house breaking and larceny and was sentenced to go to borstal. However, there was no room in a borstal institution. He was sent, believe it or not, to Barlinnie, which is regarded—in Scotland anyway—as the home of our most hardened, most sophisticated and most brutal criminals. What is even more unbelievable is that he was kept there for two months because no room could be found for him in a borstal institution. How could any boy of his age emerge undefiled in either body or mind from an experience like that? Although this does not really come into this part of my speech, I am tempted to 605 say that a good whipping would have done the boy less harm in every way.
Therefore, I view with a certain amount of dubiety and criticism all the measures in the Bill which are so hopefully held out to us. However, I imagine from what I have heard that these facets of the Bill will be dealt with in due course by other hon. Members who are much more knowledgeable and much more qualified than I am. Therefore, as the House might expect, I shall confine myself to a very narrow field, not to what is in the Bill but to what has been omitted.
I am reinforced in this decision by the Home Office Advisory Council's Report on Corporal Punishment which was issued last Monday. I have read the Report with great care and great interest, but I am, of course, naturally very disappointed at its recommendations. Indeed, I hope that the Home Secretary will not finally decide upon accepting them until he has heard my refutation of the arguments which apparently induced the Advisory Council to reach the conclusion that it did reach.
I wish to make a few criticisms of the Report. I recognise that it is a very well meaning Report, and that it has been compiled, as was said by my right hon. Friend, by well meaning and honourable people—as my right hon. Friend pointed out, very distinguished people. Indeed, many of us know some of them and like and admire them personally. Having said that, I must now criticise them. It seems to me that they have tended to place far too much reliance on the Cadogan Report of 1938, to which everyone refers as the stock answer. Turning back to the Cadogan Report of 1938 means going back 22 years, but since then the whole social and economic conditions of the country have dramatically altered.
§ Sir G. Benson
As a matter of fact, on that body we spent nearly six months taking massive evidence.
§ Sir T. Moore
I appreciate that, but perhaps the hon. Gentleman will allow me to proceed with these criticisms.
In 1938, as we sorrowfully recall, there was widespread unemployment and far too much poverty. It was a fact, as we all know, that robbery was committed for the motive of gain, possibly by a hungry man, and violence 606 was the sort of unhappy concomitant to it. But today all that has changed. We now have full employment, the Welfare State and plenty of money in the hands of the people. Why is it, therefore, that these crimes have tended to increase? We know that in 1938 robbery with violence was practically the only crime to which corporal punishment was applicable. I believe that the crimes of violence, very often with robbery—the crimes of which we all complain and about which we read in the morning and evening newspapers—are now committed for totally different reasons. They are committed sometimes for excitement, sometimes from frustrated lust, and even, as I have previously said, sometimes apparently for the fun of the thing.
§ Sir T. Moore
Just a minute. I would close those remarks by saying that the Report seems to have ignored these dramatic changes in our social and economic conditions between 1938 and today.
§ Mr. Hughes
Would the hon. Gentleman agree with me that to be drunk in charge of a motor car and kill somebody on the road is also a crime of violence, and does he advocate the cat or the birch for this kind of crime, which is prevalent in his constituency?
§ Sir T. Moore
I think that is the most admirable suggestion, and I hope that it will appeal to the Home Secretary, who, after all, has a certain amount to do with the law as well as with the punishment of the criminal.
§ Mr. Hughes
The hon. Gentleman should put that in his election address. It was not in his last election address.
§ Sir T. Moore
I will put it in my next one. It will ensure my being returned with an increased majority.
It seems to me that there has been a certain amount of conflict between the members of the Council—no doubt I shall be put right on that—and the result is that, as so often happens, they have tended to come down on the side of no change and maintaining the status quo, which is always an agreeable solution in any difficulty, and, also, they are 607 relieved from recommending any positive action.
I would say that the Report has given a very fair and very reasonable assessment of the views of those who are both for and against the restoration of corporal punishment. The Council has quoted letters and evidence reflecting public opinion and anxiety. It has quoted the Lord Chief Justice and all his High Court judges as being predominantly in favour of restoration, although it has not mentioned the former Lord Chief Justice, Lord Goddard. It has quoted the Magistrates' Association as being, by a large majority, in favour of the restoration of corporal punishment. It has assessed public opinion as being in favour of the restoration at a higher percentage even than the Gallup poll, at 77 per cent., whereas the latest Gallup poll figure was only 74 per cent. So the Council has been generous; I agree that is so.
The House will recall that before I put a Motion on the Order Paper—it was in 1957, and it was the first Motion on the subject—with reference to corporal punishment and the repeal of the 1948 Act, I had allowed about 10 years to elapse—since the 1948 Act—so that we could have some knowledge of the working of the Act. Since I tabled my Motion I have received just under 800 letters, including 43 in the last two days.
§ Sir T. Moore
Yes, including some from Ayr. I wish the hon. Member would let me get on with my speech. He may be able to make a speech afterwards if he wants to.
Out of those 800 letters, there were only 11 which were against my point of view. The Advisory Council acknowledges all that and points out that it has received about the same proportion. Therefore, I suggest that the figure of 77 per cent. of the public as being in favour of restoration is more or less right.
However, it is very interesting and rather noteworthy—the right hon. Member for Smethwick referred to this—that the only support the Advisory Council received from any organised body of opinion was from the Probation Officers' Association. I have a great respect for probation officers——
§ Mr. John Hobson (Warwick and Leamington)
The Council of the Magistrates' Association and many other public bodies take the view subsequently adopted by the Advisory Council.
§ Sir T. Moore
But the Magistrates' Association is four to one for restoration. I have quoted the Magistrates' Association. Now I am quoting the Probation Officers' Association.
§ Mr. Charles Royle (Salford, West)
Perhaps I can help the hon. Member, as I am deputy-chairman of the council of the Magistrates' Association. The position is that the council has steadily, since the 1930s, taken a view against corporal punishment, but an occasion arose when a poll had to be taken amongst the members of the association. This poll showed that a large majority of members favoured the reintroduction of corporal punishment.
The members of the council of the association are the representatives of the various branches. They are people who devote more time and more thought to these great problems than do the rank-and-file members of the association—hence they came to the conclusion that corporal punishment should not be reintroduced.
§ Sir T. Moore
I cannot allow any more interruptions if they are to be taken advantage of to make speeches.
I have great respect for the average probation officer. Indeed, in my own County of Ayr, they are very good and valued and helpful friends of mine. But has it struck anyone in the House that, if our views are correct and corporal punishment is restored with the effect that we believe that it will have of stopping or diminishing juvenile crime, the jobs of the probation officers will largely disappear? [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."] I will leave it at that. [HON. MEMBERS: "Withdraw."] I am just pointing out the facts which exist.
§ Miss Margaret Herbison (Lanarkshire, North) rose——
§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker (Sir Gordon Touche)
Order. If the hon. Member 609 for Ayr (Sir T. Moore) does not give way, the hon. Lady must resume her seat.
§ Miss Herbison
On a point of order, Mr. Deputy-Speaker. Could you give the House some guidance on this matter? A most honourable body of men——
§ Miss Herbison
—have been maligned by the hon. Member for Ayr (Sir T. Moore). What protection have they in this House?
§ Sir T. Moore
Let me make my speech in my own way. [HON. MEMBERS: "Withdraw."] I have testified to my respect for the probation officers. I have many good and valued friends among them. I only ask the House if it recognises the point that I have made. [HON. MEMBERS: "No."]
The fundamental difference between members of the Advisory Council and my colleagues and myself is that they seem to be entirely concerned with the criminal and very little with the victim. I have said before that in all the vast volume of the Criminal Justice Act, 1948, that the word "victim" is not once mentioned, nor can I trace any reference to the victim in the Report of the Advisory Committee.
§ Sir T. Moore
Yet, it is the victim who is battered and bruised, maimed and mutilated. Also, the victim has relatives. Surely we could give some more of our humanity to the victims and less to the criminals? It is far more important that we should devote our energies to trying to prevent crime and to deter the criminal from committing his crime rather than to concentrate on reforming him after he has committed the crime. That is a very important thought, and should be given great attention. The whole atmosphere towards crime and violence has become vitiated during the last 15 years.
§ Mr. William Ross (Kilmarnock) rose——610
§ Sir T. Moore
I cannot give way now. Perhaps the hon. Member may try at some other time. Like all good things and bad things, this attitude comes from the top. Today we have a humanitarian Home Secretary, for whom I have the greatest admiration and, I hope, friendship. The whole country knows that he is humanitarian and it is imbued with the sensitiveness to crime which he has. Thus we have parents refusing to chastise their children when they misbehave, schoolmasters refusing to punish misbehaving boys and girls because they are frightened of the parents taking action, and now we have the courts deprived of the power to administer corporal punishment.
We thus have this gross and dramatic increase in delinquency and crimes of violence. Every morning and evening newspaper carries reports of fresh crimes. I know that it does not come within this Bill, but it is time that parental responsibility was restored to the parents, and that they were forced and persuaded to accept their duty in that respect—instead of as today shifting their responsibilities on to the State or the probation officer.
I shall come to the end of my remarks now, but before I close I shall refer to something in which my right hon. Friend was very deeply concerned. If the two young men who were hanged last Thursday had been chastised or punished when they started misbehaving themselves, I wonder if they would eventually have come to that position in which the Home Secretary was forced to refuse a reprieve. It is a sobering thought and one which has been with me since Thursday. It reinforces my view that corporal punishment might not be such a bad thing for the community as some of my colleagues opposite seem to think.
Four things guided the Advisory Council in making its recommendations. I shall briefly refer to them in order. The first was, which courts should have the right to inflict corporal punishment—juvenile, magistrates', or assizes? Now, youths have lost all respect for juvenile courts. They laugh at them. I have seen their attitude at the courts—"I'm all right, Jack". That is all the impression they make. Magistrates' courts are too indiscriminate. There is no general standard of punishment, and so I believe that cases which are likely to involve 611 corporal punishment should be referred to the assizes.
§ Sir T. Moore
The second thing was the question of delay. The Council stressed that point. It considered how delay, which could be detrimental, could be avoided between the commission of the crime, the finding of the offender guilty and the application of corporal punishment. I admit that that has caused me a certain amount of anxiety, too. The answer is simple, however.
The one danger when inflicting corporal punishment is in doing it in heat, anger or emotion. If the punishment is not carried out for some little time afterwards, it will be carried out coolly and cold-bloodedly—just as cold-bloodedly as the crime for which it is the punishment.
The Council referred next to disparities between the punishments given by different magistrates' courts. The Council put the extraordinary view that it would create much public comment if there were a differentiation between different magistrates' courts in their allocations of punishment. The job of our courts is surely not to avoid adverse comment from the public. As the Queen's Speech implied, their job is to ensure that the streets, roads and homes of our country should be made safe for the old and the young to use.
Finally, I want to take up what was said about putting back the clock. It is not we who are seeking to put the clock back a hundred or more years, but the thugs and hooligans who have taken us back to the days of the footpads and boyos of a hundred years ago who made life for the pedestrian impossible. The right hon. Member for Smethwick asked what evidence we had that corporal punishment was an effective deterrent to those who had received it or to others. The answer is simple and conclusive. There is no evidence to show how many people were deterred from committing crime because of the existence or nonexistence of corporal punishment. It is no use advancing statistics, except that the Report itself says that in the years up to 1939 crimes of violence averaged 2,800 while in 1959 the number was 13,800. That is obvious and conclusive 612 evidence that to remove the deterrent ultimately causes the crime figures to increase.
§ Miss Alice Bacon (Leeds, South-East) rose——
§ Miss Bacon
Is the hon. Gentleman aware that before the war there was flogging in England, but not in Scotland, when perhaps the Scots were more enlightened than the English, but that the decline in crime was greater in Scotland than it was in England.
§ Sir T. Moore
That argument is completely irrelevant, because we are discussing a Bill applicable to England and Wales, and the Scottish Bill will come up in due course.
I ask my hon. Friend to consider a proposal put forward by those who believe that corporal punishment is a deterrent. We believe that the courts should have the right in reserve—not to apply it every five minutes or for every crime—to use the cane on youthful criminals up to 17 years of age, the birch for criminals of more than 17, and to drop the cat with its implication of sadism. It is because of its relation to the cat that the right hon. Member for Smethwick stuck to flogging. Flogging is associated with the cat, but in fact my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary is the only flogger left among us, because he insists on retaining it for criminals who misbehave themselves in prison. Our proposal is that there should be a trial period of five to ten years. If the figures go up as a result of five-year or ten-year period, we will say that we have failed and that there must be some other answer to this wave of violence. If we succeed, we will quite rightly ask the Home Secretary to incorporate corporal punishment as a permanent part of our penal code. I believe that in making that offer we have the support of the vast majority of our people and that the vast majority of our people hope that my right hon. Friend will accept it.
§ 6.14 p.m.
§ Mr. Clement Davies (Montgomery)
The hon. Member for Ayr (Sir T. Moore) is a most interesting study. I can think of no one possessing such a complex character.
§ Mr. Davies
There is no one who is so kind-hearted, tender, or sentimental, and yet year after year he asks us to inflict on people, weeks and months after they have committed an offence, the cruellest and most savage punishment which can be inflicted. It is impossible to understand.
§ Sir T. Moore
A very distinguished judge suggested to me that it would be a very good thing for the criminal to dwell for a time on the punishment he was to receive.
§ Mr. Davies
I can understand anyone, when hearing for the first time about a fiendish attack on another, saying in a moment of anger that he would like to deal with the criminal, but anger is a bad guide and a dangerous guide when one has to perform judicial duties.
I suggest that the hon. Member gives more attention to the researches which have been so carefully undertaken by the hon. Member for Chesterfield (Sir G. Benson). No one has devoted more time to this matter or done so much to try to relieve the lot of the prisoner than the hon. Member for Chesterfield has done throughout the years, and we were delighted to hear him speak today.
I agree with the advice tendered to the right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary by the Advisory Council. I see that the Council was impressed by the argument that the greatest deterrent to crime was not the fear of punishment but the certainty of detection. I am more than impressed. I believe that that is true, and I was delighted to hear the Home Secretary begin by saying that he intended to increase the police to full strength. I would like to see him also devote more time to raising standards for members of the police. That can be done only by increasing their emoluments and making their lives much easier.
A few years ago, I looked at questions put to persons who offered themselves to the chief constable as possible recruits for the police. The paper was very simple, but when I saw some of the answers, I was shocked. I would have been shocked if those answers had been given by children of eleven. The spelling was all right, but the lack of knowledge about matters of general interest 614 was appalling. There is nothing more dangerous that putting in authority and in uniform a man who is ignorant. The law is now so complicated and the duties of the police so many that it is only right that the public should be protected by individuals of the highest standard and I am sure that the best form of deterrent is an efficient police force and not a degree of punishment.
I approve of the Bill so far as it goes. It follows the trend which we have now been following for a considerable time, certainly throughout the century. However, I was surprised by one sentence in the Advisory Council's Report which said:We have no doubt, however, that there are cases in which a severe and exemplary punishment is often salutary.If the members of the Council were to cast their minds back to the position of a hundred years ago, they would agree with me that the death penalty, the most severe punishment there is, was administered in scores of offences up to 1861. Indeed, there was nothing more exemplary than the habit in those days of leaving the bodies of hanged criminals at crossroads. But it did not stop crime, and the position has been much improved since our forebears passed the legislation of 1861 which changed that state of affairs.
§ Mr. William Shepherd (Cheadle)
Does not the right hon. and learned Gentleman think that that criticism is a little unfair? Surely the severity of punishment must be judged not historically but in the light of prevailing circumstances and the view which society holds.
§ Mr. Davies
Certainly one must always, and one does, bear that in mind when considering whether a sentence is exemplary. When one is on the bench one tries to do the best one can. I was chairman of quarter sessions for twenty-four years, and one had to consider all the circumstances in each case. I am sure that the severity of the sentence is not much of a deterrent to others. It is quickly forgotten.
§ Mr. Hobson
Would not the right hon. and learned Gentleman consider that the sentences imposed because of the riots at Notting Hill, which were discussed 615 earlier today, were both exemplary compared with others and salutary in their effect?
§ Mr. Davies
No. One has to do one's best. When one is dealing with a case, one has to look at all the circumstances and then do justice as best one can, but to think that it will have an effect on others at some later date is wrong. It passes out of their minds, and they act accordingly.
It is for that reason that I want to come to a rather different matter from that dealt with in the Bill. The Bill deals with juvenile offenders after they have committed an offence, and, so far as the Bill goes, I agree with it, but I would like to begin art the other end. I hope that the right hon. Gentleman will devote more time to the remarkable report of the Ingleby Committee over which Lord Ingleby, whom we all learned to respect in this House for his balanced mind, his industry and his care, presided. The Commitee took a considerable time to prepare its report, but it was time very well spent.
What strikes one at once is that the Committee began by considering the position not after the crime had been committed but in the early stages when the child's mind might have been influenced. No one has a better record in this House for the extention of educational facilities than the right hon. Gentleman. He was responsible for that great Act of 1944. I only wish that at that time we had considered this question as well and devoted more time to the training, protection and care of the very young. Someone has rightly said of the formative years between birth and eight or nine that it is then that the human spirit is either liberated or imprisoned.
I would like to see the Government taking this matter much more seriously than they have done, and doing much more about it. They have been set a wonderful example by that remarkable woman Margaret McMillan whose centenary we celebrated only a few months ago. She showed the value of early training and early-care, particularly when dealing with a problem child. Her teaching has been taken up in other countries more strenuously, more vigorously and more effectively than it 616 has been in this country. What has been done here is almost negligible. I ask the right hon. Gentleman to devote more time to that.
What I would also like to see in our primary schools is more attention being paid by doctors who can help with regard to the mind rather than with regard to bodily health. Mental health is rather taken for granted so long as the body is taken care of. I am sure that if we were to devote more attention to problem children in schools there would be less need for the approved schools and detention centres of today, and there would be fewer juvenile delinquency problems.
It is on that note that I would like to end by asking the right hon. Gentleman to pay more attention to this matter, and to see whether we cannot follow up the Bill by carrying out some of the provisions and suggestions made in the Ingleby Report. The other points to which I listened this afternoon are very interesting, but I think that they are Committee points with which we will be able to deal in Committee. In the meantime, I hope that the Bill will become law.
§ 6.25 p.m.
§ Mr. John Hobson (Warwick and Leamington)
This is a curious debate on Second Reading. The Bill deals to a great extent with the treatment of young offenders, but the main subject of debate has been the prevention of crime and the increase in crime.
I respectfully submit that there is a considerable difference between those two problems. Of course, there is no doubt that the treatment of those who have been caught and convicted and have become criminals is of the greatest importance in preventing them from repeating crime, but there is another and wider problem. It is the extent to which the criminal law can prevent people from embarking on their first crime. We are all sinners; we all have some of the old Adam in us, and the only thing that prevents people from committing crimes is that there is sufficient control of the evil instinct in them to enable the good to triumph.
The subject raised by my hon. Friend the Member for Ayr (Sir T. Moore) is one which is troubling the country very much, namely, whether the present penal 617 practice of the courts and the powers of the courts are sufficient to deal with the enormous increase in crime. Since the early 'thirties crimes of violence have increased six times; crimes of what one might call straightforward dishonesty have increased three times, and the increase in crime by people in the age group 17 to 21 is quite horrifying.
Figures for crimes of violence by that age group are now 15 times as high as they were just before the war in 1938. Everybody who goes into the criminal courts or reads the daily papers becomes conscious of the fact that there are thugs and louts who use violence without consideration in a way that was never experienced before the war, and it is that which is so disturbing to the public generally. I am sure that all hon. Members who desire to face and consider the situation will realise that it is that which the Advisory Council had very much in mind in all its deliberations. I am sure that it was conscious of the anxiety of the public as a whole that this matter should be dealt with.
My hon. Friend asked whether there were not some disagreements on the Council. I am sure that I can say, with my colleague on the other side, that there were no disagreements, and that we unanimously signed the Report because we agreed with it. I hope that neither this House nor the country will think that because that Report and this Bill do not include any provision for the reinstitution of judicial corporal punishment that that means that the question of ordinary corporal punishment can be left on one side. Although not all the members of the Council agreed with this, I am greatly in favour of the ordinary, reasonable, sensible use of the cane on children by parents and school masters.
I hope that when my right hon. Friend the Attorney-General winds up the debate he will make it plain to the country that there has been no alteration in the law, and that schoolmasters and parents are still entitled, provided they do it reasonably and sensibly, to chastise those committed to their charge. I would not like it to be thought that because there was no recommendation for the reinstitution of judicial corporal punishment, ordinary corporal punishment in that sense was in any way 618 frowned on by those who made the recommendation.
The Cadogan Report and the Advisory Council carefully considered whether the experience of many people of the efficacy of corporal punishment by parents and schoolmasters was equally applicable in the case of convicted louts and thugs who had indulged in crimes of violence. That is one of the difficult subjects which everyone must consider. There are three sharp distinctions between the use of corporal punishment by the courts and its use in other circumstances.
First, there is no relation of affection or respect when it is administered by the courts. Secondly, there is no continuing relationship between those who decide to administer it and those who have to receive it. That is of immense importance, because in home or school the parent or master can decide the right and sensible moment for administering it. Whatever the offence happens to be, he knows that the child or pupil has overstepped the mark and that it would be a good thing to inflict some corporal punishment upon him. More important still, there is a continuing relationship between the child or pupil and the parent or master, as the case may be, which allows of reconciliation afterwards, so that the child feels that he is restored to the affection and respect of his master or parent. Those are vital distinctions between the use of judicial corporal punishment and the use of ordinary corporal punishment.
Most important of all, however, is the distinction of delay. At home, punishment can be administered immediately and can be terminated quickly. But if the courts are to have this power, the criminal must first be caught and then remanded until the court can sit. Then his case must be considered; he must be remanded if necessary for a medical report, and then, if he is sentenced to corporal punishment, time must be allowed to elapse for an appeal to be made and to be heard. After all that time the unfortunate person who has been sentenced to judicial corporal punishment has had a long period, in cold blood, waiting for the sentence to descend upon him. I submit that no sensible person would dream of treating his own child, not to mention his own dog, by handing him over in cold blood, 619 weeks after the crime, to have punishment inflicted upon him by somebody who had nothing whatever to do with the offence. That is the really great distinction between the two types of corporal punishment.
Nevertheless, speaking only for myself, I would have been prepared to consider even the use of judicial corporal punish-men had I been satisfied of its necessity, and that it would really deter from crime. Had I been satisfied that by placing this power in the hands of the courts once again there would have been a diminution in the rate of crimes, especially crimes of violence, I should certainly have been prepared to recommend it and, if necessary, to make a separate report.
But when one looks at the evidence and considers the experience of everybody who has had anything to do with this matter, one cannot find any evidence, anywhere, of any relationship between the power to inflict corporal punishment for any offences and the rate at which those offences are committed. I agree with my hon. Friend the Member for Ayr (Sir T. Moore) that one can draw conclusions either way from the statistics, but there are three rather startling sets of figures connected with this aspect of the matter. First, when corporal punishment for robbery with violence was abolished in 1947–48 there was a period of ten years when the figures in relation to that crime fell—at a time when the crime figures in the country generally were rising. It is true that since 1958 the figures in respect of robbery with violence have risen again, but it could not be said that that had anything whatever to do with the abolition of corporal punishment in 1948
Secondly, there are some very remarkable figures in Appendix G to the Report which I would draw to the attention of hon. Members. They relate to more than 3,000 men who committed the offence of robbery with violence between 1920 and 1948. Some of them were flogged and some of them were not. If one examines the extent to which they were either flogged or not and then committed minor or serious offences subsequently, one finds not the slightest difference between the respective rates of reconviction. On that ground—the very wide spread of figures respecting 3,000 620 people convicted of offences of robbery with violence over that prolonged period—I cannot think that the reinstitution of flogging could make any difference to the rate at which crimes of violence are now being committed.
There is another figure, which does not appear in the Report of the Advisory Council. In 1920—a very long time ago—the Board of Education conducted an inquiry into 574 children who had been birched by the courts. It was found that four out of five of them were charged again with some other offence within a period of two years. Again, upon those figures, I find it difficult to believe that the mere fact of reinstituting corporal punishment by the courts could lead to any reduction in the rate of crime. Had I been convinced otherwise I would have taken the view of my hon. Friend the Member for Ayr, but until there is some proof that it will do good I cannot see why corporal punishment should be reinstituted.
The real question is whether, in addition to the penalties which exist at present, the reinstitution of flogging would have sufficient effect to make justifiable the reintroduction of the power to administer it. Only if it has a unique power should it be reinstituted. I accept the evidence of many witnesses who appeared before the Advisory Council and said that there were certain persons for whom corporal punishment by the courts would do some good; but they were usually the most balanced people—the sensible, solid people, for whom corporal punishment is quite unnecessary. It is for that reason that this form of punishment has no unique validity.
The question remains whether the public should be satisfied with the present position and with what can be done if we do not reinstitute the power to inflict corporal punishment by the courts. Here I would go further than the right hon. and learned Member for Montgomery (Mr. C. Davies), who said that the risk of detection is really the cure for crime. I do not think that that is sufficient by itself. Nobody minds being detected if he knows that nothing will happen to him. There must be a combination of the high chance of detection followed by the knowledge that something unpleasant will happen. 621 It is with that in mind that we must first consider the question of the police.
That leads to the question of detection. It was very noticeable that most of the expressions of anxiety about thuggery and crimes of violence came from large towns, such as Birmingham and Liverpool, which have the greatest shortages of police. I have the honour to be a member of the Royal Commission on the Police. We have been hearing evidence about shortages and the places where they exist, and there is no doubt that London, Birmingham, Liverpool and Glasgow have the most substantial shortages. It is very significant that it is in those very areas that the greatest number of expressions of anxiety are heard about the present wave of violence.
I therefore hope that when the interim Report is published my right hon. Friend and the Government will be able to accept it and do what is best to increase recruiting for the police and improve the standard and quality of the policemen who are recruited. But I think that, on top of that, it is necessary to consider what will happen if more people are detected in the commission of crimes of violence, and I hope that those responsible for administering punishment will take a more severe view of crimes and punishment. I think the Notting Hill case was one where a severe punishment was both exemplary and at the same time salutary, and I would remind the House that there has been a steady decline in the use of borstal and imprisonment for the punishment of crimes of violence.
If one looks at the Appendix to the Advisory Council's Report, one sees there the numbers of persons convicted of crimes of violence, the numbers dealt with and the different ways in which they were dealt with during the years 1938, 1948 and 1959. In 1938, 45 per cent. of those convicted of indictable crimes of violence against the person went either to prison or to borstal. But in 1959 only 22 per cent. of those persons so convicted went either to prison or to borstal. That shows apparently that for sentencing persons for crimes of violence the courts are using sentences of imprisonment or borstal to only half the extent to which they were used twenty years ago. I hope that, in view 622 of the very serious crime wave which exists and the shocking cases of thuggery which are taking place all over the country, the courts will think that the time has arrived for imposing sentences which are exemplary on people who commit such crimes, and I hope that the results will be salutary.
I am sorry for having detained the House for so long, but I should like just to say a word about the Bill itself, which has received singularly little attention during this debate. There is not much I wish to say. I certainly welcome very much the provisions for extending the after-care of prisoners. One knows only too well from experience in the courts that the greatest problem any criminal faces is to make a return to society. Those who have become institutionalised and who serve term after term after term are never able to face this problem standing on their own feet. That is why one so frequently finds the tragic cases of men who have been released from prison and, within a couple of days, are inside again to serve another long stretch.
After-care can, I hope, do much to restore such men to a society in which they can begin to live an ordinary life again. We need the help of the probation officers for that work. I should like to ask the Government whether many of the projects that are adumbrated in this Bill will be matched by a suitable recruitment of manpower, because the staffs at detention centres will be people with great responsibility and the success of the centres will, in my view, depend to a large extent on the sort of people who are put in charge of them. Equally with the approved school and with the probation officers; equally with after-care. It is the personality of the people whom we are able to attract into this service which is of the most vital importance, and I hope that my right hon. Friend will be able to say something on that score.
I should like to conclude with a word or two in support of my hon. Friend the Member for Carlton (Sir K. Pickthorn). I also feel the gravest anxiety about the provision of the recall boards as they are to be at present drafted. I cannot think it right or acceptable that a man should be deprived of his liberty without the intervention of any court at 623 all. I would suggest as a possible alternative that we might adopt some sort of system similar to that on which people are put on probation. The probation office has a supervising court of local magistrates. Should not the after-care officer, who is in fact a probation officer, also have a supervising court in the same way as the probation officer? If there is an allegation of a breach of the conditions of release, ought not the person against whom such an allegation has been made be taken back to the supervising court as is done in the case of a breach of probation? Were that done, there would be the interposition of the courts of this country before a man was for the second time deprived of his liberty, even though it were only to serve part of a sentence which had been remitted. Perhaps this is a matter which can more conveniently be dealt with in detail in Committee, but I feel the gravest anxiety about the principle that a mere recall board on a certificate of an after-care officer, and without his appearance, should be entitled to order the reimprisonment of a person who is at liberty.
I welcome this Bill. I am sure it will do very much towards the better treatment of those who have been convicted, and I am glad that the Home Secretary has stood out against very widespread pressure to put into this Measure penal provisions which I think would do no good at all.
§ 6.46 p.m.
§ Mr. Christopher Mayhew (Woolwich, East)
Listening to the speech of the hon. and learned Member for Warwick and Leamington (Mr. Hobson) and studying calmly the Report of which he is a joint author, I do not see how anyone could fail to conclude that it would be very wrong to reintroduce corporal punishment into this country. The outstanding, feature—it is quite astonishing—of this Report is that it proves, in my view conclusively, that corporal punishment makes no difference one way or the other to the future career of a person who is punished. This links up with what I think is the most remarkable feature of the debate. It links up with the thought-provoking and interesting speech of my hon. Friend the Member for Chesterfield (Sir G. Benson) who Showed—I think this vitally important— 624 that whether we send an offender to borstal, to prison or to a detention centre the evidence suggests that equally it has no effect on his future career.
I wish to ask the Government whether they now feel that a sufficient amount of research has been done on this matter, and that they can take these conclusions into account in forming policy. It is true that research so far has been scrappy, but such research as there has been bears out this disturbing conclusion that none of our present methods of treatment is either more or less effective than any other method. At first sight, I admit, that seems contrary to common sense. We know, for example, the very different success rates of different forms of treatment. We know that the success rate of probation is 70 per cent., that is to say, that 70 per cent. of those on probation do not commit new offences within three years. We know that the success rate of the detention centres is 60 per cent. For the approved schools it is 59 per cent. and for borstal it is 41 per cent.
Of course, the first impression one gets is that that shows a different effectiveness between these institutions. But, as my hon. Friend showed perfectly plainly—I think this is borne out by all the experts—when allowance has been made for a different type of offender given these different treatments, it can be shown by modern research methods that there is no difference in effectiveness between probation, detention, approved schools or borstal. This does not mean that offenders cannot be reformed, simply that we do not know how to do that at the present time. It emerges that whether a man goes straight or not does not depend on how he was treated after being sentenced. It can be predicted with great accuracy form his family background, his character and his previous career before he ever gets treatment of any kind at all.
I recently visited a number of prisons, borstals, approved schools and detention centres in connection with some broadcast programmes, and perhaps this occasion provides an opportunity to thank the Home Secretary for the courtesy I was shown in many of these places. I recall many of the most intelligent detainees saying something like this to me. "Treatment has nothing to do with it. If a man is going to go 625 straight, he will go straight, and if not, not."
The discouraging thing is that there is great truth in that. It is borne out by the Report on Corporal Punishment and the solid facts of research referred to by my hon. Friend. It is a profoundly disheartening conclusion, disheartening particularly to the staffs of these institutions whose devoted work improves the quality of life of those detained while they are detained, but for whom it must be very discouraging to find that their work is not having an effect in reforming the detainees, as one would hope.
I ask the Government whether they would agree that, in view of the line taken by my hon. Friend and by the Report, and the line I am putting forward now, we must accept the position as it is at the moment, and try to work out a penal system for both adults and juveniles in the light of these conclusions. The first thing that follows, if we apply this line, is that far more experiment in different methods of treatment, different forms of detention, different lengths of sentence, is required. Particularly, those new experiments should be carried out in such a way that clear conclusions can be drawn as to their effectiveness or otherwise, so that they can be a genuine guide for the future.
More importantly, I think, it follows—if we accept this assumption that those who are going to, go straight will go straight anyway—that the best penal system for juveniles and adults will be one which filters out from the rest those who will go straight anyway. Those whom it is realised will go straight should be released as quickly as possible and we should put away, shut up—humanely and, I hope, productively, but perhaps for a long time—those who are not going to go straight when they leave. I hope that this will be the general direction of the development of our penal system in future.
Of course it is easier said than done, but, if the House will bear with me, I wish to suggest how this principle can be applied to this Bill and to the treatment of young offenders. The first thing which obviously emerges is that there are enormous advantages in a three months' detention course over a two-or-three years' borstal sentence. That 626 thought seems to be behind the Bill in the proposed reduction of the borstal sentence and the reference to detention centres, but I do not think that the Bill carries the principle far enough.
My impressions, after investigating two of our best and most representative borstal institutions, were, I am afraid, not favourable. Of course, the borstal conception is a humane and civilised one and the staff seemed to be doing their job admirably; but most borstal sentences are expensive, long-drawn-out and ineffective. I believe that the £2 million a year which we now spend on the 4,000-odd borstal boys could be put to better use. I was surprised by what the Home Secretary said about discipline in borstal. My impression from talking to boys and officers was of a relaxed discipline. There were untidy dress, pinups on the walls, and clouds of tobacco smoke, but I would not object to that at all if good results could be shown.
I would not object at all to the first-class vocational training and guidance at borstal if it were producing results. But it is not. The success rate is only 41 per cent. and is declining. My judgment is that we should do equally well if these young offenders were undergoing three months at a detention centre rather than sixteen months' borstal sentence.
I am sorry that this should be so. I would much rather believe that the kinder, relaxed and more constructive borstal training was effective, especially as there is very little which is inspiring about a detention centre. That seems to consist of a lot of sterile "square-bashing". I would much prefer it to be shown that borstal training got better results than detention centres, but on present knowledge this cannot be shown. We have to go on the knowledge and evidence which we have at the moment and the detention centre, therefore, seems to have great advantages over borstal centres.
Arising out of this, I asked the Home Secretary to consider one specific suggestion. Why not convert a number of borstal institutions, perhaps half a dozen, into detention centres and send all borstal boys there in the first instance? Half a dozen borstals would be all that would be needed for the total annual committals to borstal. All 627 borstal boys could go there and do a course for three months. At the end of the three months' course, either of two things will be done—the staff could discharge those—perhaps 50 per cent.—who had been of good behaviour, had good prediction ratings and would go straight, while the rest could be sent to undergo the course of borstal training prescribed for them in this Bill.
Alternatively, if preferred, after three months all could be released. We could estimate that 40 per cent. or 50 per cent. would go straight and the rest on reappearance in court would get the full three-year borstal sentence. I put it to the Home Secretary that there might be very great advantages in doing this. In the first place, 3,000 detention centre places would be made available almost immediately without any new building such as he described this afternoon. The prisons would be quickly emptied of all young prisoners. Overcrowding in prisons, which is a terrible disgrace, would be drastically cut and many hundreds of lads who anyway are going straight after detention would go straight after three months instead of after sixteen months. Although it may be argued that the other boys will commit new crimes earlier than they otherwise would, on reappearance in the court they would get sentenced to longer borstal training. I should like the Home Secretary to consider this.
Would he also consider another suggestion? Where the lads are sentenced to a long borstal sentence—and I should be happy with the three years under the changes I have suggested—could he not experiment to convert one or two borstal institutions into organisations which would be economically self-supporting, or nearly self-supporting? I can never understand why in this country we refuse to allow our prisoners and borstal boys to earn their own living while under detention. Why should they not earn wages, pay for their keep, support their families and even, in certain cases, pay compensation to victims of their crimes?
I have just returned from a visit to the Soviet Union. There, at my request, I was shown round one of their penal camps. Some of the features of the camp were unimpressive, but this camp was also a factory, in which the prisoners 628 were turning out aluminium goods of all kinds. The prisoners earned trade union rates and worked trade union hours under trade union conditions. The prison made a profit. Workers actually came from outside to do jobs in the factory. In one room I met two draughtsmen working side-by-side, one an ordinary worker who commuted from Moscow because he wanted the job, and the other an inmate of the prison.
The staff of the prison said something to me which seemed very striking. They said, "Training prisoners is bad—building a wall and knocking it down again. The prisoner sees no results. The mental recognition of the results of labour is all-important." I believe that there may be a great deal in this. I remember how much borstal instructors emphasised to me that the work which the borstal lads do had to be purposeful. They said that otherwise the apathy, boredom and unco-operativeness of the boys was liable to make the system fail. They had to work for something.
They had in mind diplomas of the City and Guilds and so on. But the natural thing to work for is wages, and the natural way to spend a day is in making something useful for society, not in putting up walls and knocking them down again. In the Soviet camp, I was told that the success rate was unbelievably high. But I ask the Home Secretary whether we cannot have an experiment here on those lines. He is building new prisons. It is disappointing to see how very much like the old prison buildings they seem to be. Why cannot we experiment with the conception of an economically self-supporting borstal or prison?
My last point deals with something which was touched on by the Home Secretary when he started his speech—that we cannot really deal with this problem of juvenile crime as an isolated, self-contained problem. We have to deal with it in its social context. Here, I know, I shall be on controversial ground with some hon. Members opposite.
I agree with the consensus of expert opinion, as it seems to be today, that most young offenders go astray because of their own weakness of personality. They are emotionally immature and lack self-control and moral sense as a result. The main cause of their crime is their 629 own defects of personality. But that is not the whole story.
There is the other side of the equation, namely, the temptations and opportunities for crime which society puts in their way. I sometimes feel that our affluent society might have been specially designed to aggravate and exploit the weakness of personality of the average young offender. It stresses individual ambition, success and wealth. But the average young offender is already too much out for himself. He needs a social climate which will encourage him to pay regard to the rights and interests of other people—to work with them instead of against them.
Then, our affluent society brings strong pressure on young people, through advertising and salesmanship, to spend freely, to go after money and what it can buy—cigarettes, clothes, drinks and all the rest of it. But the average young offender already lacks self-control on these things and needs to be encouraged to restrain himself.
The advertising of drink has been mentioned. It is true that when one goes round our borstals, prisons and detention centres one can see, by reference to the files, that drink in many cases has been an aggravating factor. When one comes from a borstal and drives along the road, one sees on the hoardings commercial advertisements directed to young people, encouraging them to drink. No one wants a puritan society, but surely there is a half way house between a society which stops young people from smoking and drinking and a society which eggs them on to excess in these matters for commercial purposes. We want a society which will help potential delinquents to keep off things like drink.
Finally, there is the question of honesty—of earning money by hard work. That is another problem for the average young delinquent. What encouragement does our affluent society give him, a society which advertises something for nothing, Premium Bonds, pools and all the rest of it? Here, again, I think that we are creating the wrong moral and social climate for the young delinquent.
Finally, the attitude of our society to crime itself. We pour out scores of millions of pounds in our newspapers, films and television, in glamourising and sensationalising 630 crime, exploiting it for our amusement and entertainment.
Someone once said, "A society gets the crime it deserves". I believe that is true of our over-commercialised, affluent society. This Bill, in my view, tinkers with the problem. There is no harm in it. I do not think that anyone will vote against it. But I think that the Home Secretary is capable of much greater things than this. If we are to get on top of this social problem we need a broader approach, more courage, and more vision than this Bill shows.
§ 7.5 p.m.
§ Mr. W. F. Deedes (Ashford)
Several speeches in the course of the debate have caused me to regret the extreme poverty, until quite recently, of our research. The first was the remarkable speech of the hon. Member for Chesterfield (Sir G. Benson). The right hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Montgomery (Mr. C. Davies) said something about it, and then we had the speech of the hon. Member for Woolwich, East (Mr. Mayhew), most of whose speech I should like to follow, which is unusual for me in debates of this kind.
I must first take up his point about the affluent society. I think it is false thinking to suggest that a society which becomes wealthier is at fault when more criminals are the result. We used to believe that poverty was one of the main reasons for crime, but we are now finding that this is probably not as true as we thought. We are finding that a wealthier society, with more goods available and more wealth to share, is more tempting to the weak minded. That is a theme which Professor Galbraith adumbrates very fully in his book, "The Affluent Society", and one which I accept. Surely one might expect that a display of wealth, not necessarily an offensive display, would create more envy and greed than poverty itself.
I want to talk about detention centres, which also follows on the remarks made by the hon. Member for Woolwich, East. Those parts of the Bill which relate to the future of the detention centres are very important indeed. As was foreshadowed by the Advisory Council in its first Report on the treatment of young offenders—not its second Report on corporal punishment—the scope of the detention centre is to be 631 immensely increased in dealing with young delinquents, which to many represents the most anxious knot in the crime problem. I am sure that is sound policy. The aim to keep juveniles out of local prisons will be most warmly welcomed, but it means that the future policy of the detention centre is tremendously important and that it is imperative at this late hour to get the regime right. This is to be one of the keystones of juvenile penology. In 1957, 70 per cent. of our young offenders were sentenced to prison for less than six months. That gives some idea of the numbers involved in the prospective rôle of the detention centre.
It is impossible not to be critical of the rate of development of the detention centre in the last twelve years. This idea was envisaged in the Cadogan Report. It was authorised in the Criminal Justice Act, 1948, and it is a grievous reflection that on page 17 of the Report about corporal punishment the Committee had to say:… for various reasons these new methods have not yet been fully developed. There is a great shortage of detention centres; many courts have no centre available to them, while those that have frequently experience great difficulty in obtaining a vacancy for a youth who would benefit from this form of treatment.It continues:Consequently the conditions that were contemplated when corporal punishment was abolished have not yet been achieved.That is twelve years after the Criminal Justice Act authorised the establishment of the detention centres.
In recent years, as I know from my experience of talks with magistrates, countless young offenders have been denied what the magistrate wanted for them, which was a short, sharp shock at a detention centre. It is disquieting to think of the number of square pegs which, for want of something better, have been put into the wrong holes.
It is unprofitable to go into all the causes for this, and I accept the Home Secretary's assurance today that there are to be ten of these detention centres in operation quite shortly. But not the least of the difficulties has been local resistance. That is a point which should be made. The attitude of the local citizens when a detention centre is being brought into the district is, "Anywhere but here. A very good idea, but not in this part of the country." I think that 632 we should stress that the citizens' contribution to the solution of the problem of juvenile delinquency lies in perhaps being a little more enlightened about the reception of these establishments.
The question arises, how far does a programme of twelve detention centres relate to the numbers going through the courts? My hon. and learned Friend the Member for Warwick and Leamington (Mr. Hobson) asked this of the Attorney-General, and I should like an assurance about it. Have we any idea how far twelve detention centres relate to the numbers likely to be going through?
We should also note that the proposed rôle differs in most important respects from the initial idea. At the earliest detention centre, Blantyre House, in my constituency, about which I have known a little since its earliest days, the first idea was a short sharp shock, what was called the brisk tempo. The emphasis was on punishment. There was no bullying, but no young man who entered that establishment subsequently left without most unpleasant memories and no one wanted to go back; and I think that I am right in saying that, after the first cycle, nobody did go back.
I think that we should acknowledge how much is owed to the earlier executors of the policy at Blantyre House and, I think, one other establishment in the Midlands. They were wisely given a great deal of freedom by the Prison Commissioners to exercise their own discretion and to develop these detention centres in the light of experience.
It is clear that the detention centre of the future will receive, under the provisions of the Bill, an increasingly mixed bag. They are to have enlarged functions, and I think that the administrative difficulties which may result are taken a little lightly by the Advisory Council on the Treatment of Young Offenders. Greater difficulties may arise than the Council foresees. These places have hitherto been, though they are decreasingly now, places for youths thought likely to benefit from "a short, sharp shock". It is as well to emphasise that there are still many youths of whom that is true. That type of customer remains and will have to be dealt with. The detention centre and the short, sharp shock is, after all, the main substitute for 633 the birch. It is the capacity of the detention centre, by means of a short, sharp shock, to do what the birch used to do which is the factor which decides in my mind against corporal punishment. The efficiency, the efficacy, of the detention centre in replacing the birch is to my mind one of the principal considerations in the argument about corporal punishment.
At the same time as it continues to replace the birch, the detention centre is now to go a little wider. In effect it will receive all youths whom courts think should be detained in custody for a period of six months or less. It will become the only alternative to the indeterminate sentence. That means that there will be fewer first offenders. The detention centre began primarily with many first offenders, but as I read it—I may be wrong—I think that it will now receive some who are actually serving their second detention centre sentence, and they will be fairly tough. In sum—and this goes to the heart of the administrative problem—the difference between the best and the worst for which the detention centre has to cater will be much wider than hitherto. There will be a much wider margin between the most difficult customer, on the one hand, and the easier customer, on the other hand. Yet all those will have to go, within a relatively short compass, through the same course of three months or six months. We should not underrate the demands which that will put on the staff.
I want to raise two points about administration on this. Hitherto these detention centres have been staffed exclusively by volunteers, men in the prison service with a vocation for this work, and I am not over-stating it when I call them dedicated men. They are men who feel that they can make a success of it. Will that be possible in all twelve detention centres? Shall we get enough volunteers from the prison service to man these places? It is a very important point, because this will be among the most exacting services in the whole field of penology.
The man required to do this job is a rare breed indeed. The degree of personal supervision, personal training and influence is higher in the detention centres than at the costliest public schools—and properly so, because they 634 are dealing with a much more difficult chap. That imposes a very big responsibility, first on the warden and then on the officers who are to serve under him. The calibre of these men is of prime importance in the success of these detention centres. These men must be subject to Prison Commission principles, but I hope that they will remain as free as possible in detail, because we should stress the personal nature of the work in a detention centre. It cannot be done to rule, or not to too many rules.
The second difficulty which I foresee in the administration of the detention centre is that it has to take sentences of three months and six months in the same building. Régimes are likely to be geared to three months, because that is the principal sentence, not, of course, by terms as one understands it at school, because the entry is continual and there are fresh entries daily, but in terms of the course to be run. It will not be easy to give double value in the second three months to those who receive a sentence of six months. In fact, I do not think that it can be done. Boredom, which is the enemy of discipline, will step in. Will it eventually be possible to separate the detention centres by terms? I know that we are to have a juvenile and senior centre, but can we spit them again, eventually, and have three-month sentences in one detention centre and six-month sentences in another?
I do not think that we should pass these provisions about the detention centres without recognising one fact; there are aspects of juvenile crime which have changed, and changed very much for the worse, since the detention centre was first conceived. I am on the side of those—and they include, I am afraid, some of the so-called floggers—who recognise that among juvenile delinquents today there is a hard core of thoroughly vicious, amoral, dangerous youngsters. We do no service to the problem by trying to dodge that or to frame it euphemistically. No doubt—this is not the time or place for it—we could find reasons, if not excuses. If we pursued the lines suggested by the hon. Member for Chesterfield, I think that we should probably find the reasons quickest.
But these do not solace frightened members of society. The people who 635 are frightened are not necessarily hysterical; there are rational people in this country who are thoroughly frightened of what this type of vicious youth can do to them. They are not neurotic and they are not hysterical. A very difficult balance has to be struck at the detention centre in handling this type, whose particular crime may not merit a sentence of more than six months, along with the rest. There will be a kind of boy entering these places who is outside the experience and reckoning of most of us.
I want to re-quote a letter from the governor of one of the borstals which the Home Secretary quoted some months ago:Lads now coming into borstal do not speak the same language as the staff. When we discuss matters of ethics, dishonesty, deceit, lying and show that we consider the boys to have wrong srtandards—we are looked upon as not being part of this world.That is not imagery; that is reality. It is from the governor of one of the borstals. No one will suggest that rough handling for three months will remedy that, and perhaps we are some way off any system which will remedy it, but there is a balance to be struck between punishment and remedial treatment. An element of each is needed. "Punishment" must not become in too many minds a dirty word. Those elements of society which have a not unreasonable fear of these juveniles have a grievance if detention centres do not remain disagreeable enough to be feared beforehand and looked back upon with the strongest distaste. They must remain, at least for the tough element, a very unpleasant experience and not simply—this is the important point—for retribution or vengeance. They may determine whether the resort to violence in a single instance will become a habit of violence. That is where the detention centre may be decisive.
When we say, therefore, that the detention centre is the civilised alternative to the birch, we must know what we are saying and be able to fulfil our intentions. The detention centre is not simply an instrument for the reclamation of misguided youths. It also has to be the means, almost the principal means, of protecting society against dangerous young men and against violence, which is often rendered more beastly, thoughtless 636 and dangerous by the immaturity of the attacker. Unless we get that straight we shall be deluding ourselves and the public on whose behalf we are debating the Bill.
§ 7.22 p.m.
§ Mr. Charles Royle (Salford, West)
The hon. Member for Ashford (Mr. Deedes) devoted most of his speech to detention centres and the type of young people we are sending there. I am very grateful that he spent so much time on this point, because I regard it as probably the greatest of our problems in this context.
I have a reason for saying that. About two years ago, because of the removal of my home, I ceased to be a justice of the peace in Lancashire and became one in Brighton. Since then I have reached the conclusion that Lancashire is the most law-abiding place in the country. My experience as a magistrate at my new home has been appalling. The type of young men of whom the hon. Gentleman spoke abound there. They are one of the horrors that the people who have to use the streets of Brighton—the little London—late at night have to face. People go about in mortal fear. Hardly a day passes without the courts having before them a string of this type of individual. The problem is a very real one.
The hon. Gentleman spoke of the shortage of detention centres. Perhaps he will forgive me for saying that I, who have never held office, except the exalted one of a Whip, was disappointed at the small amount of influence an Under-Secretary has with his chief. The hon. Gentleman was Under-Secretary at the Home Office for a time, and he must share my disappointment that he was not able to persuade his chief to open more detention centres during that period. He said that there are not enough, but there has been power to establish them since 1948. However, it was not until this afternoon that we heard from the Home Secretary of a real advance in the building of detention centres. The hon. Gentleman must be disappointed with what happened to the influence he had during his period of office.
I may return later to the subject of detention centres. As a debate of this kind proceeds, points which one intended to make are made by others, and I do not want to be guilty of repetition. I was impressed by a number of speeches. 637 I liked some of the things said by the hon. Member for Carlton (Sir K. Pickthorn). I was especially impressed by the speeches of my hon. Friends the Members for Chesterfield (Sir G. Benson) and Woolwich, East (Mr. Mayhew).
If we debate corporal punishment ad nauseam in Committee and on Report, the case for not returning to corporal punishment will not be put better than it was put by the hon. and learned Member for Warwick and Leamington (Mr. Hobson). I am deeply indebted to him for his balanced approach to the problem.
The speeches to which I have referred dealt with prediction tables, and so on. The problem of research has to be tackled. I cannot help feeling that in the Bill we are putting the cart before the horse in many ways. A Bill like his cannot be considered unless we also consider, as speakers have considered today, the circumstances of crime today. It is a grave matter, not only among the people to whom I have just referred but among the population as a whole, particularly the young.
One of my prime objects is to ensure that a sense of proportion is maintained. The youth of this country are not rotten. They are fine. It just happens to be the case that those who offend against the law and go along the lines of thuggery are the ones who hit the headlines in the newspapers. Attention is drawn to them, but they are only a small proportion of the country's youth. The great proportion of young people go about their business and pleasures in a law-abiding way and are a credit to us as a nation. In the main, they are as good as any generation of young people in our history. I should not like it to be thought as a result of the debate that there is a general feeling that young people in this country are a lot of thugs.
However, there are many thugs, even though they be but a small proportion of the total. We must analyse some of the causes. One cause which has not been touched upon today is the influence of the war and the after war years. We must remember that a person who is 17 today was born during the war. Someone aged 23 was 8 years old at the end of the war. There was a concentration, even on a young mind, of the glory of force. These things were 638 embedded in their minds in very early years. Year after year, through film, television and story, there has been some glorification of violence. They have seen it in a way in which it was never seen before. Unfortunately, in many of the things which we see vice is shown to have its rewards. The temptation is there for people to try it out for themselves.
I want to mention the effect of drink. The whole country was a little worried last week when two youths were hanged for a very nasty and vicious murder. I am told by my hon. Friend who represents the constituency concerned that there is very little doubt that they had been drinking heavily on the night of the murder. That case can be multiplied again and again out of my own experience as a very humble magistrate. The influence of drink on these young people is probably causing them to stray into paths that they would never enter if they were sober. I do not want to be a killjoy, but we must consider to what extent drink is so available to our young people as to lead them into these paths.
Again, I wonder whether this materialistic age has anything to do with crime among our young people? Does a greater income, a higher standard of living, create greater greed and lead to some of the crimes that we see in the calendar today?
Before I turn to the Bill—and I must needs be critical of it—I wonder whether the Home Office, when preparing other legislation, would think in terms of radical changes in our courts. There is no mention of that in this Bill, nor did I expect it, but there should be research into reasons for and causes of offences. Has not the time come when we should separate those who offend against the law?
There are those who are merely irresponsible, and others whom we might regard as cads. On the other hand, there are those who are really vicious and who deliberately go against the law. In motoring cases, we have the difference between careless driving and dangerous driving. Thousands and thousands of motorists are brought before the courts on petty charges to do with parking and lights. They are charged under the 639 criminal Acts, and I think that that is crazy.
Is there now room for some sort of division of our courts, so that we might separate those who are vicious from those who are just careless and irresponsible——
§ Mr. Speaker
I am sorry to interrupt the hon. Member. I know that the debate has run very wide and I did not want to interrupt him, but I find the greatest difficulty in getting this matter anywhere near the Bill.
§ Mr. Royle
I am much obliged to you, Mr. Speaker. I let myself be led away, and I know that what I have been saying would, in the main, be more applicable to a transport Bill. Nevertheless, consideration might perhaps be given to what I have said.
This is a very makeshift Measure. We have waited for it since 1948, but it seems to offer very little improvement. For example, one was very worried to hear the Lord Chancellor, speaking to the United Nations Conference on Crime at Church House in August, confess to his audience that they would find our prisons very poor. We have had a very long time to do something about that. What are we doing about it? The Home Secretary spoke this afternoon about the new prison he hopes to open next year.
The present position has lasted far too long. We have criminals, in the circumstances that now prevail in our prisons, living three in a cell. The Government have been very lax, and I do not think that the Bill gives us much hope of improvement. How are some of its provisions to be implemented in a general sense? How, in spite of the Bill, shall we be able to avoid sending young offenders to prison for a long time?
Since the right hon. Gentleman became Home Secretary he has spoken here many times about progressive reforms in this sphere. I and other hon. Members have praised him for his progressive attitude, but I must tell him that I am terribly disappointed that he has not made anything like the progress which we were promised. I am greatly disappointed that after so many years in office he has not done for us those things that we thought he was promising.
640 This is a very paltry Bill for the implementation of some of the problems that have been facing us, and, I repeat, the cart is put before the horse. Whether the accommodation be for prison, detention centre, school or anything else, it has to be made at least parallel with the legislation. We are failing there. We are to sentence youths of from 17 to 21 years of age to six months or under in detention centres, to two years in borstal or, for very nasty offences, to three years' imprisonment. Where is the accommodation?
This brings me to the subject of remand centres, about which I had the temerity to interrupt the Home Secretary. There are no remand centres, though these were envisaged in the 1948 Act. What is the present position? This last year we had a token £1,000 in the Estimates for the preparation of plans at Risley. We are now told that that establishment will be ready in 1962 and will cost £1¼ million. A similar place is envisaged at Durham—I suppose that that will be ready in 1965—and will cost £2 million. Why so much money?
I cannot understand why a remand centre should cost £1¼ million. A number of them built much more modestly would have been very much more useful. Why does it take as long to build a remand centre as it takes to build a huge block of flats, and almost as long as it took to build the M.1——
§ The Minister of State, Home Office (Mr. Dennis Vosper)
The hon. Gentleman perhaps does not understand that that remand centre will accommodate no less than 600 prisoners, and will incorporate a major hospital and ancillary services. As first planned, it is a very big undertaking indeed.
§ Mr. Royle
That is just the point. I do not think they need to be built to accommodate 600. Smaller ones to serve every district would be more economical, and a lot handier in every respect. I just cannot understand why the Home Office is embarking on a scheme of remand centres costing so much money.
The trouble is that we shall still have to send children to prison because we have not these remand centres, and the Government have not put a jerk into it. I can quote figures that the Minister of 641 State has given to the House. Of juveniles sent to prison in 1959, there were 43 boys of 14, 125 of 15, and 412 of 16 years of age. Of the girls, one was 14, four were 15, and 21 were 16 years of age. That makes a total of 606. Up to the end of June of this year, the total was 400, so that it looks as though last year's figures may be exceeded.
I cannot help but register very strong disappointment. Are we, as magistrates, to be compelled to carry on sending children to prison because there is a lack of other and more suitable accommodation? What about the attendance centres? I believe that every county borough should have at least one and that every county should have at least two. The hours of attendance are inadequate. I should like to know what is the position of attendance centres for ten-year-old children, when we are at the moment considering the question of raising the age of criminal responsibility to 12. Perhaps in the winding-up speech this matter will be clarified.
I wanted to say much more, but I will conclude on a matter which is troubling me very much and which has been referred to by the hon. Member for Carlton and the hon. and learned Member for Warwick and Leamington. I am delighted with the provisions relating to supervision. They are first-class, and I am pleased that this principle is being extended. Prisoners coming out of prison and boys coming out of detention need a helping hand.
I am disappointed, however, that we have not yet got round to the question of full remuneration. It will help enormously in the re-establishment of these people if they are able to emerge into the world again with some money in their pockets. With the exception of that one point, I think the supervision provisions are good. However, we should ask ourselves who are going to carry out the supervision. It will be done mainly by the probation officers. A Departmental Committee has been sitting a long time on the subject of probation officers, and by this Bill we shall be placing more and more work on their shoulders. There has not been a previous inquiry into this matter since 1936. Month after month goes by and we have heard nothing 642 about the Report of the present Committee. We do not know when we shall have a chance to discuss improvements in the probation service. This matter drags on; yet we do not hesitate to add more work to that already performed by the probation officers.
This brings me to the question of recall. The probation officer again will mainly be responsible for this. In the case of detention centres the Bill proposes that there should be recall in the hands of the Prison Commissioners, and on failure to comply with the requirements of supervision the offender will be liable to be returned to the detention centre to complete the period gained by remission.
The suggested arrangements for new groups of discharged prisoners are more complicated. At present, prisoners under supervision are released on licence so that they may simply be recalled. Under the new provision, there will be recall supervision on remand, and failure to comply will be reported to the Prison Commissioners. However, by the Bill we are scrapping the Prison Commissioners, so I do not quite understand that. They will apply to a justice for a warrant and an offender may then be committed to prison for 21 days. The Commissioners then bring him before a recall board.
Would it not be much better if these offenders were placed under the supervision of the court to which the probation officer is attached? Serious breaches could then be reported by the probation officer to the court, which would be empowered to take action in the same way as for a breach of a probation order. This should apply to both prisons and detention centres. The method envisaged in the Bill is, in effect, to hand over the responsibility from the judiciary to an office of the State. As has been said, this is a very bad setback in our methods. We have been fighting against this for years. It is not in accord with the national policy of keeping the judiciary and the legislature separate. In addition, the proposed change would be an elaborate and expensive system which would to some extent cut out the system in operation and which works. I hope the Government will reconsider this question of recall. I am sure that when we reach the Committee stage some of 643 us will want to put down Amendments to change the system envisaged.
This Bill fails to deal with the question of payment of reasonable remuneration to prisoners to help establish themselves in life outside the prisons. It fails to make more provision for detention centres, remand centres and remand homes. It fails to set up machinery for research into crime and its causes, and it is lacking in its proposals for treatment.
In short, the Bill misses a great opportunity. We have looked forward to it for a long time. We cannot help but express disappointment, and I feel tempted to ask the Home Secretary whether he believes that his journey to the House to move the Second Reading of the Bill was really necessary.
In common with any other hon. Members, I have a feeling of great disappointment that we have not got a much bigger Bill which would approach our problems in a much more courageous way. In what it does I hope it will be successful, but we have a lot to do in Standing Committee and on Report.
§ 7.47 p.m.
§ Mr. T. L. Iremonger (Ilford, North)
The House naturally listens with great respect to the hon. Member for Salford, West (Mr. C. Royle) because of his long experience and his position as vice-chairman of the council of the Magistrates' Association. I think he was a little hard in criticising the Bill as though it were the Government's prison building programme. Nonetheless, what he said was valuable in that it illuminated what the House would do well to take note of, namely, that this is primarily a machinery Bill and that the success of its provisions will depend largely on the implementation by the Government of the plans which it has initiated; and it is not a matter for debate here and now as to whether the balance of national resources applied in this year or that year or for this purpose or that purpose was rightly judged.
As we have heard today and on previous occasions, we have a programme of prison building which certainly must be put into effect before the provisions of this Bill bear fruit. I shall hope in a minute or two to follow the hon. Member in what was a very valuable and important point he made about 644 the probation service. The House is in his debt for what he said about the importance of the public keeping a sense of proportion about crime, particularly juvenile crime, and that the impression should not be conveyed that this House regards the present generation as being singularly vicious or corrupt. We are debating crime; we are not debating youth; and because we are emphasising crime we are not condemning youth.
There was a great deal of wisdom in the hon. Member's statement that the present generation, which throws up a rather disquieting proportion, albeit still a small proportion, of vicious and criminal youths, is the generation which went through its vitally important formative years in the war. I would not follow his analysis of the effect of the war upon children at that time. I would not say that they were as sophisticated as he might imply. I would say rather that the war caused disruptions in family life which gave rise to emotional disturbances which, in weaker characters, have their results when children come to their maturity. I am quite sure that the generation with which we are dealing now, and with which we have been dealing for some time, is not one which ought to be judged on its own, because of the peculiarly unhappy circumstances of its genesis.
This Bill is one of the very greatest possible importance in so far as it touches upon the protection of the public and the maintenance of public order, and it is a question which involves something of a crisis of confidence for the Government, because my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary has envisaged, and is now in the process of carrying out, a scheme of social reform with the theme of freedom for a responsible society. There is a very great danger that the public may say, "It is all very well to sweep away the out-dated legislation of the Victorian age, but we would rather have our out-dated betting laws and licensing laws and so on, if, at the same time, we could have something of Victorian security and a rather more severe attitude towards crime."
I do not think that this is a just judgment on the part of the public, but I mention it as a danger of which my right hon. Friend should be particularly aware in giving the right emphasis in his social 645 programme to his prime duty of maintaining public order and protecting law-abiding citizens. I have devoted some time and thought for the past year or more to this problem of delinquency, which is the most disturbing symptom of what is really the most disturbing fundamental weakness of modern society, but it is only fair to recognise—and this is one point which emerged clearly from the United Nations conference on crime in London recently—that it is a fundamental weakness, whatever its nature may be, in modern society all over the world. It is not confined to this country. It is found everywhere, with the possible exception of civilisations and cultures which are primarily agrarian and in which there is a social order established and buttressed by traditional and religious attitudes.
This great weakness is that material prosperity gives rise to surprising and rather disturbing proportions of moral destitution. The fundamental cure for this weakness is a universal responsibility of society as a whole. It is not a responsibility which can properly be put upon the Government or upon this legislature, but, for all that, the legislature and the Government have a responsibility for first aid, treatment and hygiene in dealing with the symptoms and more simple manifestations of these fundamental weaknesses.
This is a Bill in which details are all important, and, therefore, it is primarily a Committee stage Bill. What I think we ought to do on Second Reading is to make sure that we see it in the right perspective. I am sure that the perspective in which we should look at it is the perspective of the Government's penal policy as a whole. I am sure that the conception of the Government's penal policy is quite right, but it would be quite wrong if the public got the idea that this Bill is intended or envisaged as being some revolutionary wholesale change which will transform the whole penal system and have a dramatic effect upon crime. What the Bill has to do is to enable the present system to work more effectively, and even more, perhaps, to pave the way for results that can only come about when the Government's activity in other spheres, primarily in building more prisons, have taken effect.
646 If I may digress for a moment, I should like to pursue a heresy which handicaps the Government in its need for sympathy from the public in its struggle with the criminal element in society—the heresy which leads people to believe that, in some mysterious way, the penal system is a tap which controls the volume of crime and that legislation or administration can form the moral quality of society in the same way that discipline in a good home or school or family can form the moral quality of a family. I am afraid that governing a huge nation is not as simple a matter as all that. It is most unfortunate that the public so often compare the responsibilities of Government with the responsibilities of parents or schoolmasters, because the dynamics of the situation are entirely different.
I think that that perspective and that attitude perhaps help us to see how important it is to strengthen the police, who, I am sure, are the much more important element in actually keeping crime at the lowest possible level than anything we may do to the criminal when he has committed a crime, has been caught and is inside the penal system. It is the lack of this general perspective and the strength of the heresy that leads so many people to cry for so me single, flamboyant and dramatic gimmick of penal practice, such as corporal punishment, or whatever it may be, which they feel will put a stop to the whole thing and transform the situation. I am afraid it is not as simple as all that. But this is merely a digression in pursuit of a heresy, which is one which will be properly debated at length in later stages of the Bill.
I approach the penal system as a whole, and therefore this Bill, with the conception—and obviously the emphasis differs, and many people sincerely hold a different view—that the object of the penal system is primarily the protection of society. I think that, as a matter of fact, that the most effective means of protecting society is in the reformation of the individual offender once he has been caught. I do not think that reformation is an end in itself as a part of the penal system. In other capacities as, I hope, a humanitarian, and as one who puts high value on the individual human being, I can see reformation as having a 647 value in itself, but as a Member of this House and as responsible to my constituents, I put the protection of society as the first priority, and I am only interested in reforming offenders in the context of a penal system in so far as I think it is the best way to protect my constituents from the harm which they may otherwise do.
In the last 18 months or more, I have been round a large number of prisons, courts, allocation centres, borstal, young persons' prisons, psychiatric units, detention centres and approved schools, and the question which I asked myself throughout this tour was "How far is this place"—whatever it might be—"doing its job in protecting society, apart from just keeping the offenders out of circulation for a while?" The answer seemed to me to depend primarily upon the men who were actually running the institutions themselves. I asked myself "What questions are these men asking themselves? What are they really trying to do, and are they asking the right questions?" I can say what question they are asking themselves, and I am sure it is the right question. The whole penal system is orientated to answering the question "What sort of man are we going to put back into society when we have finished with him?" I am sure that that is the right question and that it is right that the object of the system should be, as I think it is and as I have heard it expressed by the men who are responsible, to take the young criminal and, as far as one possibly can in the time at one's disposal, break him as a criminal but, at the same time—and this is much more important and much more constructive—make him as a man.
If one does the one without doing the other, one is really not protecting society because the young criminal is inside for only a few months and he has his whole life outside in society afterwards. It is a very high standard to set. Whether it is reached or not depends primarily on the quality and calibre of the individual officers of the prison service, the governors, the wardens, and, in the approved schools, the headmasters. To a large extent—I will qualify it in a minute—I think it is a matter of Kipling's maxim,Ships is all right. It's the men in 'em".648 I believe that, if we have the idea right, if we have the right conception of the penal system, and if we have the right man, properly trained, and if he is properly seized of the idea—here I entirely agree with what was said by my hon. Friend the Member for Ashford (Mr. Deedes)—and if we leave it to the right man and trust him to get on with the job, we shall not go far wrong.
Although I thought there was a great deal of interest in what they said, I was a little concerned by what struck me as a rather pessimistic fatalism in some of the notable speeches which came from the benches opposite, for instance, the speeches of the hon. Member for Chesterfield (Sir G. Benson) and the hon. Member for Woolwich, East (Mr. Mayhew). There seemed to be a fatalistic and pessimistic assumption that one really cannot do anything about it; it is all ordained beforehand and, when we get somebody inside, we classify him according to Mannheim and Wilkins, and there we are. We might as well write him off. I believe that if we followed too far the idea of the hon. Member for Woolwich, East, we might be driven by logic to the position of sentencing an offender not according to either his needs or the enormity of his offence but according to the prediction table. That, I think, would be more an interesting philosophical exercise than an exercise in justice, and it is one which the public, which does its best to follow these rather sophisticated ideas, would find it difficult to follow and quite impossible to tolerate.
As I have mentioned what the hon. Member for Woolwich, East said, I will refer also to his remarks about the detention centre as it has been until now. I quite agree that it will be a different matter when everyone who goes inside for less than six months goes to a detention centre, but I thought that the hon. Member was wrong in dismissing the present detention centre as involving merely sterile "square-bashing".
There are only four detention centres now, and it might be invidious if I mentioned any one, but the detention centre to which I went struck me particularly favourably just because it was not concerned with mere sterile square-bashing. The warden said to me, "You cannot do anything by mere discipline. What you have to do to these boys is 649 to put them on to something which they think they cannot do but they dare not fail to attempt". He took me to the gymnasium where he had arranged a sort of assault course around which all these boys had to go in three minutes if they were to qualify for the privileges which allowed them the things which are so very precious and important to someone in those circumstances. There were these—I think the popular phrase is—young thugs sweating their "guts" out trying to do something which authority had required them to do because they wanted to do it and were determined not to fail.
The warden said, "Once you have got them to the stage where they have tried and they have succeeded, you have brought them through a psychological barrier, and then it is possible to try to build up some kind of constructive achievement enabling them to make a constructive attempt to make something of their lives". The theme was that they should endeavour and that they should succeed. That seems to me, from my recollections of sterile square-bashing—and I have had my share—to be something very different.
In my view, we should be a little careful in putting too high a value on the detention centre as an alternative to the birch. The appeal of the birch is primarily to those who are horrified and disgusted by the viciousness and violence of the crimes which have been committed. By definition, a boy who goes to a detention centre is a boy who has committed a crime for which the sentence will be not more than six months. To my mind, this argues that we shall not, in fact, have in the detention centre the kind of boy who has committed the kind of crime which calls for a penalty of, say, up to fourteen years. Therefore, although I am sure that there will be a very valuable disciplinary element in the detention centres, we should not imagine that this will be the complete answer to the vicious young thug who has beaten up the old lady in the sweet shop, because he may well have to serve a rather longer sentence.
At this stage, I must tell my right hon. Friend how grateful I was for the co-operation of the Home Office in arranging for me to go and see these places and how profoundly impressed I was by the 650 morale, spirit and sense of mission of the officers of the prison service. I sincerely hope that we shall never again reach a position in which these men—their wives and families come into it, too—are driven to wonder whether, perhaps, they will pursue their chosen profession or leave the service. In my view, we have absolutely first-class men. We are very lucky not to have lost them, or more of them, and I am sure that we should spare no expense to ensure that we keep them. We cannot do this kind of job in the right way with second-rate men, and, of course, it cannot be done in second-rate conditions. This is why I think that the building programme which my right hon. Friend has in mind and is pursuing must be adequate.
I do not consider that the building programme is so very important in the sense of giving improved physical conditions or even in eliminating overcrowding. In my view, what is important is that the whole merit of the borstal system, for example, which depends so much on allocation, depends in the final analysis upon the accommodation available. After all, we send these boys to allocation centres for up to a month, and they are seeded out very carefully. The whole success of the treatment of the individual offender depends upon sending him to the right kind of borstal. Time and again, it was brought home to me that an allocation was made not on the merits of the institution to which the boy was sent or on the particular needs of the boy but because, in fact, there was only one place available at the time to which he could go. We must, therefore, have enough borstals if we are to have sufficient flexibility in allocations.
For all that I praise the general conception of the penal system and the administration of it, I must admit that, in the result, it is far from satisfactory when one realises that at least half these boys will commit further crimes within three years of release after their first sentence. Why is this so? For my part, I do not think that it is the fault of the borstal, the detention centre or the approved school system inside. It goes a little beyond that. After all, in the case of both the approved school and borstal training, the sentence is a comparatively long one but a boy spends a comparatively short time inside. The rest he spends outside on licence. We are apt 651 to lose sight of the enormous importance of the second part of the sentence which he spends outside on licence, when his training is put into effect. Then, in fact, he has to adapt himself, under supervision, to what he must do for the rest of his life, which is to live on tolerable terms with the rest of the community. Everything, therefore, depends upon the quality of the supervision during that period.
The whole idea of the borstal system is that the treatment cannot be considered completed by training inside until it has been proved and tested by the result outside. I do not think that the appalling figure of 50 per cent. failure is a reflection on borstals. It is a reflection on the system of after care and supervision on licence. I am not criticising the quality of the probation service. I am criticising its quantity. I should like to give my right hon. Friend some facts and figures on which he might well ponder in relation to the future of the probation service to which the hon. Member for Salford, West rightly drew attention.
Let us look for a few moments at the cost of the failures. My argument is based on figures given in answer to a Parliamentary Question which I tabled to my right hon. Friend on 27th October. The Answer was based on the figures for 1954 to 1956. Every year there are on average 900 failures from borstal, 315 failures from detention centres and 1,215 failures from approved schools, making a total of 2,430. By "failures" I mean boys who go back inside. They go back inside at a cost to the community of £10 a week on average. Therefore, as a result of the failure of the system, half of which is inside and half outside, the taxpayer is presented with a bill of £24,300 per week. Assuming that one failure means one year inside after the boy has failed, that is an annual cost to the country of about £1½ million. That is the cost in cash to the taxpayer, but we must not forget that these failures also represent another cost—the cost of 2,430 crimes and all the legal proceedings involved, to say nothing of the distress and lack of protection to the community which cannot be assessed in money.
Looking at the 2,430 failures in terms of after-care, this is the picture. About 652 5,000 boys are discharged every year. They are supervised by probation officers. I do not like generalising or talking about averages, but I am taking a statistical average. The average probation officer has a case load of 65, of which 10 per cent. are discharged borstal and approved school boys. Therefore, the average probation officer has six discharge boys to look after and 59 "other" cases. On the average, three of his boys will fail.
I ask my right hon. Friend whether we can feel satisfied that a probation officer so loaded can give to six boys at this critical juncture of their training and redemption the close supervision and support which the whole conception of borstal and the approved school system demands. May we not reasonably suggest that a less overloaded probation service would bring about some improvement in the failure rate? I do not assume that there will be a very dramatic improvement. I only ask for the assumption that we could, by improving the conditions of after care, cut the failure rate by one-fifth.
If we did that, we would save 500 crimes and at least £250,000 in a year, which would pay for 250 probation officers at £1,000 a year each. A precise estimate is impossible, but, however it is worked out, I suggest to my right hon. Friend that an increased expenditure on after-care—I have no doubt that this is on the way, but I am merely pointing out the economics and finance of it—must at least pay for itself, and, at the best, would actually represent an economy; to say nothing, again, of the reduction in crime and in the distress caused by the crimes of the failures, which would be a desirable end in itself.
I should like to go further into the background of the Bill. I should like to draw my right hon. Friend's attention to the great lack of hostels in which discharged approved school boys can be accommodated when they are going out to work for the first time and have no suitable homes to which to go. They have little idea about life. They have no idea how to manage their affairs. They do not know how to arrange their weekly income so that they do not get into trouble. They need help and guidance in facing the adventure of life. I am sure that many failures would be 653 avoided if a little more money and care were spent on providing hostels in which they could be looked after during the first years in which they have to find their own feet.
I want to refer to the question of staffing of the approved schools. I was unfavourably impressed in the two excellent approved schools which I visited—I spent one day at each—by the desperate shortage of staff, not so much on the teaching side as on the housemaster side, to which my right hon. Friend referred. I hope that it will be possible to give better pay and conditions to people in these posts and to bring them into line with the Burnham scale, which is the obvious thing to do, so that we can recruit enough of the kind of persons we want for this highly responsible job in the approved school system.
I should like incidentally to refer to two things, one which I am sorry not to see in the Bill and one which I am glad to see in the Bill. I am sorry that it has not been possible to deal in the Bill with the problem of compensation for the victims of crimes of violence, either by the State or by the criminal through deduction from his prison wages or the attachment of wages after he has left prison, or both. I realise, as my right hon. Friend said, that this is a very thorny problem. It sounds easy and appealing when first mooted, but it raises formidable administrative questions involving the problem of the payment of wages to prisoners for work done either in or outside prison during their term of imprisonment. It also involves very difficult legal and constitutional questions. All that I can say is that I hope that my right hon. Friend will pursue this line of thought with vigour.
I welcome something in the Bill which has always seemed to me likely to inspire public confidence, and that is the move towards the closer association of parents, where there are parents—the trouble with many delinquents is that in the real sense they have not any parents—with the crimes of their children. There is a great deal of public feeling—it has often been expressed to me—that there is not enough responsibility on the part of parents and that many young criminals are the victims of the neglect and carelessness of those who should be responsible for them.
654 Finally, I should like to raise an important point, and I will deal with it as briefly as I can. It is relevant to raise it with reference to Clause 16. It concerns the problem of the criminal psychopath whom I isolate in my mind as a peculiar and particular problem to which this House and my right hon. Friend should give special consideration. I do not want to discuss what a psychopath is. Hon. Members who were in the last Parliament will recollect the discussions we had on Clause 4 of the Mental Health Bill. Broady speaking, a psychopath is now statutorily defined as someone who has three qualities—he is abnormally aggressive and abnormally irresponsible and is in need of medical treatment.
For the layman, the best introduction to the psychopath is the book by the American Dr. Cleckly, the title of which is in itself something of a revelation—"The Mask of Sanity". Although it has been something which it has been very difficult to grasp until quite recently, there is now an excellent book by Kurt Schneider called "Psychopathic Personalities". Recently, Dr. Peter Scott had an article on the criminal psychopath in the Lancet. The proceedings of the recent conference of the National Association of Mental Health dealt exhaustively with the medico-social problem. Therefore, there is no need for anyone to lack sources of information on the subject. When the Mental Health Act was before the House, I felt that the only way to gain any insight into what a psychopath is was to meet some—unless one has one in the family.
I therefore spent the day at Dr. Maxwell Jones's social rehabilitation unit attached to Belmont Hospital, and also a day with the group therapy unit working with criminal psychopaths from prisons in various parts of the country who have volunteered for treatment at Wormwood Scrubs. I think that I know what is meant now. I am convinced—though a great many people are not—that there is such a thing as the psychopath, and that many criminals are psychopathic. It is only fair to say that I started my investigations into this feeling very sceptical indeed about whether there is reality behind this conception. I am convinced now that the psychopath does exist, and that psychopaths are people totally incapable of forming any 655 valid human relationship and incapable of compassion, remorse or guilt, and who are not what we may call "bad" men.
I believe that moral guilt and sin and badness are real things. But I recognise that one must recognise a certain class of humanity as coming into a different category. These people not infrequently get into bad trouble and come up against the criminal law. There are quite a few in approved schools and borstals, and my suggestion is that these should be carefully located and weeded out and given separate treatment, for the sake of the other offenders in the institution. It is a characteristic of these people that they have an appalling influence on weak characters with delinquent tendencies. They are the classic wreckers of any régime devised for the rehabilitation and reformation of other people.
If hon. Members go round to approved schools and borstals they will find many who will say to them "The whole disciplinary and security system of this institution is geared to the demands of three or four boys—no more—whose influence and behaviour is of a quite different order from the rest of the boys." They are those who, I believe, would be found to be psychopathic personalities, and it is unfair to the staff and the rest of the school, and damaging to their interests in the community at large, that they should be in reformative institutions at all.
What should one do with them? One must be on one's guard, because if one takes this too lightheartedly one will be open to the temptation of trying to get rid of recalcitrant or awkward young criminals by classing them as psychopaths because one cannot cope with their problems. What might provide a safeguard against that temptation and might be a better approach is that the Mental Health Act might be used to detain these offenders for medical treatment, which can be done compulsorily up to the age of 25.
This would, I am sure, do more than any other single act of policy, to assist the treatment of other offenders in approved schools and borstals, and would reduce the incidence of crime amongst young people outside. I recognise that this is a drastic suggestion. There are difficult questions to consider, 656 not least the possibility that there are degrees of psychopathy. But I ask my right hon. Friend to allow his thoughts to be stimulated on the subject, and also ask him whether he has caused any study to be made by his Department on the means and methods and organisation of Dr. Sturup's famous institution of criminal psychopathy at Herstedvester in Denmark.
I met Dr. Sturup earlier this year and heard his ideas. Account should be taken of his example in planning the functions of the new prison psychiatric hospital at Grendon Hall, at Grendon Underwood. I suggest that his methods should be specially considered in any plans for further Grendon Halls which may be projected for the future.
There are profound and important considerations which students of the human mind—and soul—have hardly begun to consider. One of the most important, because of its direct link with so much that poisons human happiness, is what medical men call the aetiology—the scientific study of the cause and origin—of the psychopathic personality. Even more important, after that, there is the problem of successful treatment.
Perhaps the House may feel that we have strayed, in considering such things, some way from comparatively simple administrative problems, from simply saying that the Government's duty is to maintain public order, and from the workaday provisions of this Bill, but the House may also feel that we have perhaps come close to the start of the hidden path which leads to the heart of the mysteries of social order and the health of society.
§ 8.27 p.m.
§ Mr. Alan Brown (Tottenham)
I rise wholeheartedly to support the Bill. As one who has had the honour and privilege of serving for some years on the children's committee of the second largest county authority in England, and thereby being fortunate enough to have gained some experience in that very vast subject with which we are now dealing, I have no hesitation in saying that all those actively connected with child care and juvenile delinquency will welcome the Bill.
Child care and dealing with young delinquents are complex subjects. Briefly 657 to illustrate that point, I ask hon. Members to consider some of the legislation directly affecting children and young persons during little more than the past ten years. At least seven Acts have passed through Parliament—the Children Act, 1948, the Criminal Justice Act, 1948, the Adoption Act, 1958, the Matrimonial Proceedings (Children) Act, 1958, the Legitimacy Act, 1959, and the Mental Health Act, 1959—the seventh Act is the Children Act, 1958, which received the Royal Assent in August, 1958, and Part II of which was promptly repealed in December, 1958. Such a fine example of Parliamentary confusion must be a rarity in the annals of this honourable House.
§ Mr. Brown
I should have thought that it was. It can be accepted as indicative of the complexity of the subject.
When it is realised that those Acts are themselves largely integrated with earlier legislation, such as the Children and Young Persons Act, 1933, and the Children's Act, 1908, and with a number of reforms passed in the last century and dating back as early as the Industrial Schools Act, 1861, it will be readily appreciated that the mass of legislation which confronts the administrator in this work is alarmingly complex, frequently conflicting, and often unworkable if the best interests of the child are to be placed first.
The result of that piecemeal legislation is that today we find ourselves confronted with a system which is a mixture of part of an old penal system to which new and more enlightened methods of treatment have been grafted from time to time over a hundred years of history. A typical illustration of the unfortunate consequences of possessing such a system was provided last March by the case of the girl in Holloway Prison. I do not intend to go into that again. We all remember it too plainly. However, last March the right hon. Member for Runcorn (Mr. Vosper) cited Section 27 of the Criminal Justice Act, 1948, as the cause of the disgraceful treatment afforded to that young schoolgirl. No doubt that statement was correct, but one has to look to the year 1908, to the 658 original Children's Act, to discover the origin of the legislation in question. That is one instance of grafting modern legislation to old Acts of years gone by, and there are scores of other examples which I could quote.
So far I have mentioned only one of the many factors which make for difficulties and confusion when considering the problem of the juvenile delinquent—the mass of outmoded and frustrating legislation. There is another factor which is equally complex and frequently as frustrating—the juvenile delinquent himself, the human element.
It is interesting to note that specialists in this work, such as Barbara Wootton, have expressed the view that, in spite of an enormous amount of research into juvenile delinquency, we are still at the stage of knowing very little which can be said to have been scientifically proved about it. It has been said that there has not been enough research into the problem of delinquency, but I find it difficult to think of any subject in which there has been more, and it has been research not only in this country, but all over the world. We have recently had a United Nations convention pooling ideas and experience and trying to find a solution.
Perhaps an indication of the willingness of the older generation to understand the difficulties which confront the younger generation is to be found in the number of official committees which have been set up—all of which to my knowledge have now reported—and whose number exceeds twenty, which is surely a record for any day and age.
I pause at this stage not only to say how much I welcome the Bill but also to pay tribute to the Home Secretary and the right hon. Member for Runcorn who, despite all the difficulties and complexities which cast a fog over the whole of this work, have nevertheless produced proposals which are progressive, enlightened, lucid and, most important, workable.
The Bill contains measures which represent the biggest step forward in legislation relating to children and young persons since the original Children's Act of 1908 which provided for the establishment of juvenile courts and attempted to close prisons to children under 16.
659 Having said that, I now turn briefly to the Bill itself. Here at long last we see a real attempt to end a system of treatment of the young offender which has for too long contained both methods of treatment and penal sanctions long since outmoded.
I have frequently in this House bitterly criticised the unfortunate compromise of attempting, for lack of suitable accommodation, to house the new spirit of education within the old prison system. The Bill takes the first positive steps to end that compromise. Far wider use will be made of borstal training, detention centres, approved schools and attendance centres. This enlightened treatment, taken in conjunction with the raising of the minimum age for the imposition of prison sentences from 15 to 17, will go a long way to protect the juvenile from bearing the prison stigma throughout his adult life
Further, in surroundings such as a prison, a child must inevitably mix with older youths and young adults, most of whom are more hardened and experienced in criminality. Adolescent youngsters are particularly susceptible to criminal indoctrination, and our present system, far from acting as a deterrent, has all too frequently had the opposite effect. In my view the Bill will go a long way to stop this criminal indoctrination of the juvenile.
I am particularly pleased to see that at long last an important step has been taken by virtue of Clauses 1 and 4 to get rid of that most insidious and un-British document, "the secret report". In this respect, I must in fairness pay tribute to at least two of our national papers, the Daily Mail and the Star, for following a recent condemnation of this document by a well-known judge. In my view the newspapers did a public service by drawing widespread attention to the injustice of such secret reports. The Star said:They are not made on oath, neither are they made available to the people against whom they report.Under the terms of the Bill these reports must be made available to the defendant if the court is considering passing a borstal sentence or a sentence of detention. I must admit that I would have preferred to have seen this extended to all cases, but at least the Bill takes a step in the right direction.
660 My criticism of the Bill is directed not against what is in it but rather against what has been omitted. It is the omissions which disappoint me, because we are faced with a situation where crime has reached a peak never before known in this country. It is no exaggeration to say that society is alarmed. I have heard a similar view expressed by hon. Members today. The number of juveniles found guilty before the courts has increased from 67,724 in 1956 to 99,559 in 1959, and is without parallel in the history of this country. Even the war years produced nothing to compare with that disastrous increase.
Little comfort is to be gained from the knowledge that not all of the 99,559 children found guilty before the courts were guilty of indictable offences, but the inescapable fact is that over the past four years each succeeding year has seen no fewer than 10,000 more children brought before the courts than in the previous year. In 1955 the figure was 60,666. In 1959 it had risen to 99,559. It is also interesting to remember that during the four years in which the Ingleby Committee has been deliberating—time which I believe may have been wasted—we have seen an enormous increase in juvenile delinquency. It is a pity that the Committee could not have reported very much more quickly.
This increase in delinquency must be halted. If other Clauses, embodying certain findings of that Committee and the opinions of other experts, had been inserted in the Bill we would have been able to go a long way towards halting this shocking increase in delinquency. I shall be glad to hear the Minister of State give his reasons for the omissions to which I refer. I should also like him to tell us why the age of criminal responsibility has been left at 8 and not raised to at least 12.
I now turn briefly to the excellent Report of the Ingleby Committee. Among its most important recommendations is No. 6, which recommends that juvenile courts, in their dealings with children whose primary need is care and protection, as opposed to delinquent children, should get further away from the conception of criminal jurisdiction. Hon. Members may recall that I drew the attention of the House to this strange 661 flaw in our present legislation at Question Time on 12th May. We seek to combat juvenile delinquency, and yet we use precisely the same methods of disposal and treatment in the case of the innocent child—the child who is merely the victim of neglect—as we do in the case of the child whom I heard tonight referred to as the juvenile thug.
What manner of justice is it that demands that an innocent person, just because he is under the age of 17 and is therefore subject to juvenile law, should be dragged before a court of summary jurisdiction and from there sent to a remand home or centre, where, perforce, he is mixed with hardened criminals, frequently well-steeped in crime? In my experience the treatment of the non-offending child is the primary cause of its persistent absconding. I mention this because I believe that findings such as these, which were arrived at in the Ingleby Committee, could well have been incorporated in this otherwise excellent Bill. It would have been much improved with those additions.
Finally, I wish to deal with the issue of corporal punishment, which some hon. Members have sought to have reintroduced First, although the Criminal Justice Act, 1948, withdrew the right of the courts to administer corporal punishment, it went only part of the way to stop it. Corporal punishment is widely used in approved schools even today. Any youth in such a school—and there are many youths up to the age of 18 in them—can and frequently does receive corporal punishment. I am not too happy about this but it must be remembered that corporal punishment administered by a headmaster to a boy under his care has an entirely different psychological effect upon the lad than has judicial corporal punishment. I do not believe that corporal punishment carried out by strangers, in what might be described as cold blood, and often days after the offence has been committed, has any place in modern and enlightened society.
The argument of the supporters of judicial corporal punishment would appear to be that accompanying the growth of delinquency, especially juvenile delinquency, there has over the past decade been a general legislative 662 tendency to substitute reformatory for deterrent methods of treatment and the reforms which have characterised the penal methods in this country during past years have been a contributory feature to the, increase in the incidence of delinquency. While this conclusion may be the simplest one to draw from the crime statistics over the past twenty years at any rate, unfortunately the problem does not resolve itself quite so easily.
The increase in crime in any or all age groups does not necessarily indicate that existing penal sanctions or methods of dealing with offenders in this country are ineffective. There are so many other factors existing in the world today which have tended to promote crime and especially juvenile crime. We live in a fast-changing society. Knowledge and ideas, the beliefs of centuries and the long-established sense of moral values are all being challenged as the world rapidly advances in scientific knowledge. Confusion abounds and confronts the youngsters who find it difficult to believe in anything, even in the security of their own future in this atomic age. I would go so far to say that few adults are sufficiently reliable and consistent to be able to present with confidence a scale of values which are acceptable to the young.
There are other factors which must be considered, including quite obviously the cinema, television, horror comics and pornographic literature. All these are influential factors. Another thing which must be taken into consideration is that the increase in juvenile delinquency is not confined to Britain. That point has been made by several hon. Members and it is true. The statistics show an alarming increase in practically every country in the world and in many of them the increase is greater than in Britain. Flow, then, can we blame our penal system for a social disease which is on a world-wide scale?
I believe that the fight to halt delinquency could be assisted, first, by strengthening the methods of crime prevention, by strengthening the child care service, the prevention service and all those other activities in the same sphere. Secondly, we should strengthen the methods of crime detection, which means strengthening the police force. That is a 663 point which the Home Secretary has already dealt with in an able fashion. No doubt increases in pay and improvements in the conditions of service might attract the right type of man into a service which is essential for the safety of the public. Thirdly, we must recognise the responsibility of parents as being most important. Fourthly, we must remove corrupting influences from juveniles. I have no time to go into that subject which covers a very wide field. Fifthly, I recommend the provision of youth clubs and organised sport and leisure. That would take many boys off the streets. It is idle hands which usually get into trouble.
If we as legislators have credit due to us, let us take it and share it, for together we have learned much. If mistakes have been made, let us not seek to blame each other. Rather let each of us add his experience in this vital matter to a common pool of understanding from which may flow many more enlightened Bills. Then the Bill now before us will not be an end in itself, but rather a beginning, a firm foundation upon which we can build a comprehensive, efficient and beneficial system of legislation relating to juveniles.
§ 8.51 p.m.
§ Mr. R. M. Bingham (Liverpool, Garston)
My hon. and learned Friend the Member for Warwick and Leamington (Mr. Hobson) mentioned, and I respectfully agree with what he said, that it is in the urban areas of this country where public disquiet at the current crisis of crime is greatest.
I welcome this opportunity of speaking on this subject as a representative of one of the cities which is gravely affected by this problem, namely, Liverpool. I have little doubt that the citizens of Liverpool, and probably of other urban areas, will assume from what has been said by many hon. Members in the course of the debate that this is a small Bill which attempts to deal in a minor way with what is a major and pressing problem. No doubt the Bill makes a number of much-needed modifications and it is welcome to that extent, but the impression it gives, and will undoubtedly give, to many—particularly in urban areas—is 664 that the existing system is perfectly adequate in major respects and merely needs embellishment and improvement.
That is not the view of the country, at least in the densely populated urban areas. Whatever one may think of it, the recent Report of the Advisory Council on the Treatment of Offenders makes clear that something like 75 per cent. of the people in the country are so dissatisfied with the failure under the existing system that they are anxious to see the reintroduction of judicial corporal punishment, on a scale unparalleled in the last one hundred years. If we ask people why they are so dissatisfied as to put that forward, I think the answer is clear, that present methods are quite inadequate to protect them, their children, their parents, their families, their neighbours and those whom they know from criminal injury.
It is not an exaggeration to say that in Liverpool, and I have no doubt the same is true of other areas, residents fear, and with good reason, that the danger to old persons, young girls and those who in any event have no self-defence of being insulted—which is bad enough—or molested—which is worse—or assaulted in the streets at night by youths and young adults is such that it is not safe for them to go abroad. It is noticeable that those who do not own motor cars and therefore have to proceed abroad on foot speak with much added emphasis on this subject.
On behalf of those whom I represent, I have to ask what this Bill does to ally their fears? I fear that it will do very little, although it is very good in its way. There is no urgency, or insufficient urgency, shown on the problem regarding urban areas. To take a short illustration, the Ingleby Committee sat for four years considering this problem. It made recommendations at the end of those four years, but it cannot have thought the problem very urgent because, according to my calculations, it managed to sit on an average only one day each month. That does not imply a great sense of urgency.
The two things which above all prevent crime are certainty of detection and certainty of punishment. The hon. Member for Chesterfield (Sir G. Benson) appears to be shaking his head. We must 665 agree to differ. The first is outside the scope of this Bill. The second is the one to which I wish to address myself. The only penalties which today mean anything to the youth or young adult is the approved school or borstal. Detention centres are almost non-existent, and I doubt whether they are really effective for toughened offenders with whom I and my constituents are mainly concerned, and conditional discharge or unconditional discharge is treated as a let-off. They have very little effect and value for the toughened offender. They certainly have a proper place in our system but they do not touch the hardened offender at all.
I am not at all happy that the system at present prevailing for approved schools and borstals is best suited for us. The reason, which I will state very briefly, is that they are inconsistent. In the eyes of authority both institutions are reformatory, but in the eyes of the offender they are penal, and magistrates convict and sentence to borstal and approved schools for two mutually inconsistent reasons.
One is that it is the ultimate punishment for the incorrigible and the other is that it is the best form of reformation for the corrigible. I should like to see in the Bill more attention to better systems of fining and particularly of introducing parental responsibility. I should also like to see a system for making better provision for the payment of compensation over an extended period by the offender to the victim.
Finally—I have to curtail what I should like to say very much—if the present vacuum which appears to the public, certainly in the urban areas, to exist in their protection continues we shall have to face the widespread demand for corporal punishment. I personally deplore the idea of meeting criminal violence with official violence. I appreciate everything that has been said so forcefully against it by the Advisory Council. But the public must be protected, and one must recognise that if the existing methods are failing—and everyone throughout the debate today has agreed that they are failing—then on those who refuse to accept corporal punishment as the ultimate form of punishment lies the heavy onus of providing some remedy which will give protection.
666 With these reservations and qualifications, I recognise that the Bill marks an advance in methods of treatment, though not as great as one would have hoped.
§ 8.59 p.m.
§ Miss Alice Bacon (Leeds, South-East)
This has been a curious debate, in that many speeches have had little to do with the Bill, but I think this is understandable, for two reasons. First, the Bill is rather disappointing and inadequate. It is all right as far as it goes, but it does not go far enough. Secondly, the Bill is important for what is left out rather than for what is in it
I am very pleased indeed that the Home Secretary has not given way to the pressure in his own party and, let us admit it, in very large sections of the country about corporal punishment. As we all know and admit, there has been a very serious increase in crime, and it is only natural that there should be national anxiety about it. I want to make it clear that those of us who reject corporal punishment are just as much concerned as are others about this increase in crime, particularly among young people.
This public anxiety has shown itself in a demand for birching and flogging. But this plea seems to be largely emotional and is not based on any evidence whatever which supports the view that corporal punishment would be a deterrent. The recent Report, which has been mentioned on many occasions, has shown this quite clearly and has reiterated the findings of the Cadogan Committee in 1938. We have had the benefit today of speeches from the two hon. Members who were members of the Committee which has recently reported.
We must remember that before 1948 the only crime which was punishable by flogging was robbery with violence. Looking at any increase or decrease in crime since that date, therefore, it is relevant from this point of view to look only at fluctuations in the amount of robbery with violence. Corporal punishment for robbery with violence was abolished in 1948. In 1938, before the abolition, there were 200 cases of robbery with violence. In 1948, following a period of ten years in which flogging had been one of the punishments, the number had risen to 978. In 1955, seven years after flogging had been abolished, the number of 667 crimes of robbery with violence had fallen to 577.
I think that that shows that while there may be other figures to indicate that crimes have increased, and although the number of crimes has fluctuated, it has not fluctuated according to whether corporal punishment has been one of the so-called deterrents. Every Committee which has investigated this problem has come out strongly against corporal punishment. The Home Office investigation of 1951 showed that many sentenced to corporal punishment before the war had a worse record afterwards than those who were not so punished.
As I pointed out to the hon. and gallant Member for Ayr (Sir T. Moore), the experience of England and Scotland before the war shows the same trend—for when there was flogging in England and not in Scotland before the war, the decline in crime was greater in Scotland than in England. It is interesting to note, too, that when magistrates could order juvenile offenders to be birched, they rarely did so, because they found that this was not as effective as other methods. Very often the birched boy became a hero.
We have all heard parents say, "I have slapped my child and no harm came to him; therefore, there is no harm in flogging." That has been said again and again during the debate. That kind of punishment may have done no harm and may have done some good, and it is remembered in after years, where administered by the teacher or by the parent, with a kind of good-humoured grin; there has been no bitterness in the memory of such corporal punishment. But it is entirely wrong to argue from this that it would be wise to administer corporal punishment by judicial birching, given by a stranger after all the processes of law and probably months after the offence was committed. That could produce only bitterness and a desire on the part of the person birched or flogged to get his own back on society.
Sometimes some of the floggers frighten me, and I am particularly frightened by some of the letters which I receive on this subject. The mother with the son who said, "Beat 'em, Mum, beat 'em", should look at the sadistic tendencies of her own son.
§ Miss Bacon
Perhaps she was. I was not at the Conservative Party conference. There is nothing to prove that corporal punishment is effective. There is a great deal to prove that it is not.
I realise that it up to those who reject judicial corporal punishment to produce other methods. It has been said during the debate, as it is said in other places, that other methods of dealing with young offenders have failed. That is not true. The other methods have not been tried properly.
§ Miss Bacon
In 1948 we passed the Criminal Justice Act. The provisions of that Act have not been carried out. Twelve years after the passing of the Act we have no remand centres and only four detention centres. Therefore, it is not true that the other methods introduced by my right hon. Friend the Member for South Shields (Mr. Ede) have failed. They have not been tried.
I find the Bill disappointing in many ways. It is a small Bill in view of the great problems confronting us. Its main object is to keep out of prison young offenders under the age of 21. If the whole of the Criminal Justice Act, 1948, had been put into operation, that could have been done under Section 17 (4) merely by an Order in Council. The Section says:His Majesty may by Order in Council prohibit courts of summary jurisdiction from—(a) sentencing to imprisonment persons under the age of twenty-one years or such lower age as may be specified in the Order".Therefore, to a great extent the Bill reiterates some of the provisions of the Criminal Justice Act, 1948.
The Bill is rather curious, too, in that it is rather hotchpotch. We are told that it is a Criminal Justice Bill, and the right hon. Gentleman hinted that we might later have a Children and Young Persons Bill.
The Bill is a curious mixture of both. It deals with approved schools, which are usually dealt with by a Children and Young Persons Bill. If it is merely a 669 Criminal Justice Bill and we are to have a Children and Young Persons Bill later, I do not see why some of the recommendations of the Ingleby Committee are in the Bill but not others. We have waited a long time—namely, four years—for the Report of the Ingleby Committee. When we asked Questions in the last year or two about these problems, the right hon. Gentleman told us to await the Report of the Ingleby Committee.
I find the Report extremely disappointing after four years of work by the Committee. There are certain good things in it, but on the whole it is not a particularly progressive Report. The only worth-while recommendation in it is that the age of criminal responsibility should be raised from 8 to 12, but that is not in the Bill. When I moved an Amendment to the Indecency with Children Bill to make the age higher than 8, I was told by the Joint Under-Secretary that we must await the Report of the Ingleby Committee. Now that we have that recommendation, it is not in the Bill.
I do not believe that the Ingleby Report is very progressive. It is condemned in one paragraph alone as not being particularly progressive. It talks about the managers of approved schools, who incidentally exercise all rights and powers of parents. It discusses whether or not there should be an age limit for the managers who possess these very important powers. Paragraph 438 states:We think it is desirable too that the instrument should make provision for an age at which managers should be required to retire—there is no such requirement at present. The time must come when a manager is no longer able effectively to carry out the duties that he has so willingly undertaken in the past. It is difficult to be dogmatic in this matter, but we think that it would not be unreasonable to require a manager to relinquish his appointment on reaching the age of seventy-five and we recommend accordingly.That really condemns the Report as being not very progressive, and it makes one wonder how many managers of approved schools, who are exercising all the rights, duties and powers of parents, are over the age of 75.
The subject of approved schools was left for me to deal with by my right hon. Friend the Member for Smethwick (Mr. Gordon Walker). I listened attentively to the Home Secretary, but I thought 670 him unconvincing. To some extent, the Bill's proposals improve the control that the Home Office has over approved schools, but does not tackle the problem at all adequately. Of the 118 approved schools, only 25 are managed by local authorities. Of the remainder, 41 are managed by voluntary organisations, and the other 52 by self-appointed local committees. At the same time, we must remember that the costs of approved schools are met by public funds; roughly half by the local authorities and half by the Government.
I am not arguing that every local authority school is necessarily better than every approved school run by a local committee—that is not the point—but it is a matter of principle that the control of these institutions, to which young people are committed by the courts, should be under some responsible authority and not exercised merely by some local ad hoc self-appointed committee. I do not think that it is generally realised just how much these committees work in isolation. I take as an example the Carlton approved school, not because it is, perhaps, so typical—I do not know; I have not been to all of them—but because we have something written about it.
We are told that this school was started in 1856, and that six trustees were appointed, in order to have a reformatory school in this village. From then until now—for over one hundred years—that school has gone on in the same way. When a manager dies or retires, some other local person is appointed to the management. There is no contact with and no control whatsoever by the local authority. We read that at the time of last year's disturbance the chairman was Captain S. H. Starey, M.C., D.L., J.P., that the vice-chairman was Col. J. P. White, M.C., D.L., J.P., and that the school correspondent, who was also a manager, was Col. G. A. Battcock, C.B.E., D.T., D.L. That seems rather a preponderance of ex-Army officers running that school. I do not know how many more are the same.
I was rather surprised to hear the Home Secretary try to compare that position with that obtaining in the educational world. He knows as well as I do that the voluntary schools, principally Church of England and Catholic schools, are quite different from these approved 671 schools run by local managers and local committees. Education at the voluntary schools is under the general direction of the local authority——
§ Mr. F. H. Hayman (Falmouth and Camborne)
Would my hon. Friend also agree that one-third of the managers of voluntary schools are appointed by the local authorities?
§ Miss Bacon
Yes, I am grateful to my hon. Friend for mentioning that. That also is a very important distinction.
The Government must decide what they are going to do about the approved schools. It is no use just having these provisions which are in the Bill. Some people think that approved schools should be managed by the Prison Commissioners. I do not think so. Others think that they should be taken over by the Ministry of Education. I am not so sure about that. I would favour the approved schools being run by the local authority children's committees. I believe that is where the responsibility really belongs. If it is thought desirable, as I have no doubt it would be, for some religious and voluntary schools to continue, surely same arrangements could be made for the appointment of suitable managers and teachers in those schools.
§ Mr. A. P. Costain (Folkestone and Hythe)
The hon. Lady will admit that there are certain approved schools run by children's organisations. The National Children's Homes are running satisfactory schools which have all the benefits of the children's home service.
§ Miss Bacon
Yes. I have said that if it is a voluntary school belonging to a voluntary organisation or religious body, that is quite different from these little local committees which work so much in isolation. Another point to bear in mind is that it is very difficult to get staff to go into these schools where they are completely on their own and where they have no contact with other members of the same profession in the local authority area.
There are two other proposals in the Bill to which we shall probably return in Committee. One is the proposal to reduce the borstal age from 16 to 15 and to lower the age for attendance at attendance centres from 12 to 10. I 672 feel that the latter proposal needs very careful consideration because the attendance centres are for boys up to the age of 21; even the junior ones go up to 17, and I do not like the idea of young boys of 10 and 11 being in attendance centres with youth of 15 and 16. It would be entirely inappropriate. However, we shall probably deal with that in Committee.
The whole question of approved schools, borstals, detention centres and attendance centres in relation to the ages of the children and the type of children who go there has not been studied carefully enough. We should guard against being content to accept these institutions and decide which children shall go there, instead of questioning whether or not these are the right institutions for the purpose.
I now want to turn to some of the wider points in the Bill. This year I visited several prisons, and this has been rather a new experience for me. I have seen some of the good things, and some other things that have horrified me. The work that the prisoners do, the training that they receive, the classes that they attend and the attitude of the prison officers are all first-rate. But there are three things in particular that concern me.
First, I am concerned about the number of prisoners, and especially young prisoners, on remand who are in prisons with convicted prisoners. We are told that they are kept separate. That may be, but those who are on remand can see all the other prisoners and they are, in fact, in prison. A great many of these persons are subsequently not convicted at all. I hope that we shall make progress towards getting some other arrangements for these people on remand, particularly the young ones.
Secondly, it is rather horrifying to think of the number of people in prison for non-payment of fines and for debts, particularly for hire-purchase. Whenever I went to a women's prison I was always told of the number of women there because of hire-purchase difficulties. There are many women in prison today because they have become the victims of some over-persuasive salesman. It becomes so very easy for them to sell the television set to help pay for the washer, and I 673 think we might look at this problem a little in the future.
In particular, I have been most concerned about the provision of both prisons and borstal institutions for women and girls. The number of women prisoners is only one-eighth that of men prisoners, but because of the small number of women prisoners it means that unless there are very small units the classification of women prisoners presents a greater difficulty than the classification of men prisoners. Because of that the progress in classification in different institutions has not gone ahead so rapidly with women as it has with men.
There is one big prison for women, which is really five prisons in one, at Holloway, where we have the remand accommodation for young persons and corrective trainees. I know that that is being closed down and that other provision is being made, but it has taken us a long time to get to this stage. Except for Holloway Prison, which is a big prison for women, and a very good prison which I saw at Aston Grange, an open prison for women, and a similar one at Hill Hall for women, all the accommodation in the country for women is in blocks of men's prisons.
What is even worse is that most of the girls' borstal accommodation in this country is also in blocks of men's prisons. I know that it is a temporary arrangement, but it is an extremely bad arrangement. I was at Durham a few weeks ago, and saw the girls' part of the men's prison there. I know that there was a lot of nonsense in some of the Sunday newspapers about the love notes that were being passed from the girls to the men, but that is entirely beside the point. The point is that that period of borstal training, which is supposed to be educative in character, should be carried out within a men's prison. This is completely indefensible. Not only that, but the borstal at Durham Prison is also a women's prison, so that we get older women prisoners on remand side by side with the borstal girls. As I have said, I know this is a temporary arrangement, but it is a temporary arrangement that will probably last for a total of about three years, and that will mean that many girls will have had the whole of their borstal training in these conditions.
674 There is one other small point in connection with this matter which I should like to put to the right hon. Gentleman. I want these girls to be removed from Durham and the other prisons where they are, but I understand that if they are removed from Durham the accommodation for borstal girls will be in Essex. There is to be no borstal accommodation in the North of England, with the exception of one small borstal institution in Staffordshire which accommodates under twenty girls. That means that after a girl from Northumberland, Durham, Lancashire or Yorkshire is sentenced to borstal training, she will be taken to Essex, where I should think the probability of her parents visiting her will be negligible. I would have hoped that it might have been possible to have had two borstal institutions, though I know that there are fewer than 150 borstal girls in the country, but we should have one of these borstal institutions in the north of England as well as one in the south of England.
I want to say one word on after-care, which has been dealt with at great length by many other hon. Members. I will leave out a great deal of what I had to say, except that the after-care of young girls is most important. I am sure that the right hon. Gentleman will have taken note of the rather alarming passage in the Report of the Prison Commissioners for 1959 in which is described some of the difficulties which girls meet when they leave borstal. We are told that they are dependent in some cases on getting girls into voluntary shelters.
The Report says:The matrons in charge of these shelters do a wonderful job.But the Commissioners point out in an earlier passage thatEvery year there is a large number of girls who come from broken homes, having lost either their father or mother through death, divorce or separation, or who have been abandoned or removed from their home and taken into care. This year about 60 per cent. of those discharged come into this category.The Report goes on to describe what is happening now as a result of the Street Offences Act:At the same time it is not desirable that young girls without any roots socially should have to be accommodated in a big city where they are constantly under temptation and in 675 danger of being swept into organised prostitution. The introduction of new laws concerning soliciting has resulted in the homeless and friendless girl being in an even more dangerous position than hitherto.The Report describes also how many girls, when they have been recalled and come out of borstal, are not wanted in their own homes. After-care in these matters is extremely important to ensure that girls coming out of borstal are particularly well looked after.
The Bill itself is not particularly important. What is important is the speed and determination with which it is put into effect. We must have detention centres, remand centres and real aftercare. It is not the schemes which are important but the speed with which we get on with the building of the buildings and the staffing of the institutions.
The Bill contains provisions for those who have committed crimes and been convicted. As has been said many times today, the deterrent is the fear of being detected. Everybody who goes into crime goes into it thinking that he will get away with it. I was pleased to hear the right hon. Gentleman say that he laid great stress on an adequate police force. Prevention is the greater problem. I do not think anyone knows all the answers. We have had a very good debate today.
We do not know what makes 2 per cent. of our young boys and girls get into trouble and 98 per cent. lead quite blameless lives. When we speak of juvenile delinquency, let us not forget the 98 per cent. Let us not think that all the children of this country are juvenile delinquents. They are not by any means. In the 2 per cent., perhaps there is something in their make-up, perhaps a craving for excitement and adventure—I do not know—and all the influences of school and home must be brought into play if we are to have a reduction in juvenile crime.
The Ingleby Committee reported a great increase in the number of broken homes, divorces and so on just at a time when there is a great increase in juvenile delinquency. Hon. Members have spoken today about parents' responsibility and control. I would go so far as to say that I think that, sometimes children are left 676 to their own devices and pursuits at too early an age. We may have gone just a little too far in thinking of the independence of children and their wanting to live their own lives at too early an age. We do not want children to be tied to their parents' apron strings, but there is sometimes a tendency to cut them off too soon.
We have to recognise that the failure is not all on the part of the young people. The failure is on the part of society. We live in a complex and uncertain world. We live in a society where a lifetime of hard and honest work brings less material benefit than one day's activity on the Stock Exchange. We are living at a time when it is sometimes thought that to work is a mug's game. A great effort by us all is needed if we are to reduce the level of juvenile delinquency. We have got to set the young people an example. I believe that the Bill goes only part of the way to deal with these problems. We shall support it, although we think it rather inadequate for the needs of the day, and we shall seek to improve it in Committee.
§ 9.30 p.m.
§ The Attorney-General (Sir Reginald Manningham-Buller)
The hon. Lady the Member for Leeds, South-East (Miss Bacon) began her speech by calling this a curious debate in that many speeches had little to do with the Bill. I agree with her as to the reason, but not with regard to the adjective which she used to describe the debate. It is true that many speeches have had little to do with the Bill, but I should have said—and I think that I have heard most of the debate—that it has been an extremely interesting debate and not a curious one. I regard it as a very important debate. We have had particularly interesting speeches from my hon. Friend the Member for Ashford (Mr. Deedes), from my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Warwick and Leamington (Mr. Hobson) and from the hon. Member for Chesterfield (Sir G. Benson).
I found the statistics with which the hon. Member for Chesterfield regaled us rather depressing in connection with the conclusion to which he came. He asserted that all forms of penal treatment give exactly the same result on the same type of person. That should be, and no doubt is, a cause for somber 677 reflection when we consider all the efforts which have been made in past years by previous Governments and by this Government to secure greater numbers of reformed persons. I think, however, that the hon. Member would agree that the statistics which he gave are not sufficient to reach an absolutely positive conclusion, although they give food for serious thought.
As I have said, I think that this has been an extremely important debate on matters on which not only hon. Members but also people throughout the country hold widely differing views with great sincerity. We have had discussion about the causes of crime. It is an easy thing to say, as the hon. Member for Woolwich, East (Mr. Mayhew) said, that an affluent society leads to delinquency. It is an easy thing to assert, as the right hon. Member for Smethwick (Mr. Gordon Walker) asserted at the conclusion of his speech, that Government policy is solely to blame. However, I think that everyone knows that the real causes of crime at this time go far deeper and are far more complex, and cannot be summarised either in one sentence or in a passage. What we can do is to concentrate on what is the best thing to do in the fight against crime.
I agree with hon. Members on both sides of the House who have emphasised repeatedly the necessity, if we are to be successful in our fight against crime, for securing as speedy detection of the crime as possible and the speedy bringing to justice of those responsible. To that end I am sure that the House welcomed the statement of my right hon. Friend about the police. That matter is not under discussion so much today, but we ought to bear in mind, I think, that the best deterrent of all is prompt detection and the conviction of persons responsible for the commission of offences.
However our views may differ about punishment and what is the right punishment, I think that there is agreement among us all about what we want to secure, and that is, surely, the bringing into force of a system which not only operates as an effective deterrent to the commission of crime but also offers the best prospects of reforming the criminal. These are the twin objectives of a modern penal system, and the difficulty is to keep a proper balance between them.
678 We have heard some speakers emphasise one aspect, and some the other. The hon. Member for Chesterfield and the hon. Member for Woolwich, East devoted their speeches, I think almost entirely, to the reformatory side. On the other hand, my hon. Friend the Member for Carlton (Sir K. Pickthorn) and my hon. Friend the Member for Ayr (Sir T. Moore) seemed to concentrate solely on the deterrent, or punitive, side. We must surely pay attention to both sides and try to achieve a proper balance.
It is not easy to do this, but this Bill goes some way towards it. It is not, of course, sufficient just to deter a convicted person from committing another crime. We all want, by the process of detection, arrest, conviction, and sentencing to do something to deter others from committing like crimes. Reference was made by my hon. and learned Friend to the effect of the sentences passed in relation to the Notting Hill offences, and I have no doubt that they had a very adequate deterrent effect.
It is true, as the hon. Lady the Member for Leeds, South-East (Miss Bacon) said, that not so much has been said about the contents of the Bill. This is a very important Bill, and it should be borne in mind that it makes provision for the future treatment of young offenders. I emphasise the words "for the future treatment", for none of the provisions comes into effect when the Bill reaches the Statute Book but they will be brought into effect as soon as possible—and that means when adequate facilities are available. My hon. Friend the Member for Ashford asked whether we thought that 12 detention centres would be sufficient. The answer is, yes; and if, unfortunately, they do not prove to be sufficient then provision will be made for more.
Questions were also asked about remand centres. I do not wish to underestimate the importance of remand centres. Two are being planned and sites are now being found for two others. Although young persons now remanded do go to prison, I understand that efforts are made, with perhaps varying degree of success, to keep them segregated from convicted prisoners. I must say, however, that I think that the provision of detention centres is more 679 important than, and should take precedence over, the provision of remand centres. Views may differ about that, but I shall seek in the course of my speech to justify that contention.
This is not the time, when so many serious offences, so many offences involving violence, are committed by young people, for any relaxation of the criminal law. I do not wish to trouble the House with statistics, but it is the case that, after allowing for population changes, the rate of crime in 1959 among males in the age group 14 to 17 was nearly half as much again as it was in 1954. In the age group 17 to 21 the crime rate for males in 1959 was almost twice the 1954 figure.
I myself would not find it possible to support this Bill if I thought that it was in any sense a "soft" Bill which made things easier for young convicted criminals. Some people may think it is open to criticism in that by Clause 2 (2) the power of judges and of quarter sessions to sentence persons between the ages of 15 and 17 to prison will be taken away when that Clause is brought into force, and that by Clause 3, when that comes into force, the courts will no longer have the power to sentence persons between the ages of 15 and 21 to imprisonment for terms of between six months and three years, and that the power to send them to prison for up to six months will go when sufficient detention centres are available.
I do not share that view. I think that there would be force in it if the alternatives provided by the Bill provided a more pleasant régime than imprisonment. I do not think that they do and I will explain my reasons for holding that view, but first I should like to say that if we are to prevent the tragedy of young people embarking on a life of crime—and those of us who have done work in the criminal courts have experience of those sad cases where a man has spent the best part of his life in prison—it is essential that we should do all in our power to prevent the young criminal from being contaminated by contact with the old lag and converted by him into a hardened criminal.
To my mind, one of the most important steps we can take in that direction 680 is to ensure as soon as we can that young criminals are not ordinarily sent to prison where there is a risk of such contamination, and there is obviously a greater risk of contamination if young convicted prisoners are mixed up with older prisoners than there is when efforts are made to segregate those sent on remand and awaiting trial from convicted prisoners.
In 1948, I moved an Amendment to the Criminal Justice Bill to retain the power of birching. Perhaps I should say straight away that I did not do so because I had experienced that the corporal punishment inflicted on me in my school days by my right hon. Friend the Member for Thirsk and Malton (Mr. Turton) produced any salutary effect. It had neither deterrent nor reformatory influence.
One of the main reasons which I advanced in 1948 for retaining the birch then was that the exercise of that power by the courts might, I thought, make it possible to avoid sending young offenders to prison and, if they had to go to prison, to give them shorter sentences than would otherwise have been the case. When the Bill's provisions come into effect, it will mean that young offenders will not ordinarily be sent to prison, and so the main argument which I advanced in 1948 for the retention of some form of judicial corporal punishment falls to the ground. Indeed, any proposal for the restoration of corporal punishment for young offenders must be judged against the background of what the Bill proposes as an alternative to imprisonment.
I am satisfied that the alternatives which it provides mean a more strenuous and more rigorous régime for young offenders than they would have to undergo when serving a sentence of imprisonment in a local prison. Let me remind the House of the powers which the courts will have when the Bill is brought fully into effect. They will continue to have their present powers to send children and young persons to approved schools, and here I deal with the point which the hon. Lady the Member for Leeds, South-East made. The reason the Bill does not deal more extensively with the Ingleby recommendations is that it can deal with the Ingleby recommendations only in so far as they relate to children who go to approved schools via the courts.
681 The courts will continue to be able to send young persons to detention and borstal and if they go to detention they will be subjected to strict discipline and a pretty tough régime. In answer to my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Liverpool, Garston (Mr. Bingham), it certainly will, I suspect, be the case that many of the tough offenders to whom he referred will find detention centres not entirely pleasant places.
If young offenders go to borstal, they will be kept far more fully employed than they are likely to be when serving a sentence of imprisonment in the local prison. Borstal institutions vary tremendously in character to deal with the different types of individuals who go there. The hon. Member for Woolwich, East referred to relaxed discipline and pin-ups in one borstal that he visited. That may be so, but it is the case that in all borstals there is a 44-hour working week with vocational training and compulsory evening classes. In local prisons the régime cannot be so exacting and the hours of work are much shorter, often 25 hours or less.
None the less, there may be some whose offences are of such gravity that a borstal sentence involving a maximum loss of liberty for two years would be wholly inadequate. In such cases, and unfortunately there may be some, the court can, if it thinks right, and where it has power to do so in the case of adults, pass a sentence of three years or more imprisonment. I know that judges are most reluctant to give long sentences of imprisonment to young persons, but there may be cases where there really is no alternative.
If the offence is one which is punishable with 14 years or more imprisonment, the court can, under the Bill, instead of passing a sentence of three years or more imprisonment, order the detention of the young offender for a specified period, and then that young person will be detained for that period in such place and subject to such conditions as the Home Secretary may direct.
I hope that I have said enough about this part of the Bill to justify my contention that this is in no sense a "soft" Bill where young offenders are concerned. It is against this background that any proposals for the reintroduction of corporal punishment for young persons must be considered.
682 It has already been said that the Advisory Council which considered this matter did not begin its inquiry by being unanimously opposed to corporal punishment. I do not think that it would be either right or wise for any Government, or any Member of this House—indeed, for anyone—to treat lightly the conclusions of this body, reached by it unanimously after the hearing of a mass of evidence from persons of varying views.
While I do not expect that the Council's conclusions, and the reasons it gave, will lead to all the advocates of corporal punishment changing their views, and while some of the reasons it advanced for its conclusions may seem more cogent than others, none the less, in the light of its conclusions reached after a careful and prolonged consideration of the question, it surely would be quite wrong for the Government now to put forward any proposals for corporal punishment.
I would like to respond to the invitation put forward by my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Warwick and Leamington by saying that the fact that we are not putting forward any proposals for corporal punishment does not mean that it may not be the right, and indeed the duty, of parents and teachers, on appropriate occasions, to administer corporal punishment.
I believe that sentences of detention, with the rigorous treatment that that involves, are likely to have a very considerable deterrent effect not only on those who are undergoing detention but also on those who might be contemplating the commission of a crime that might lead to their going to detention centres.
It may well be that the deterrent effect will be far greater than one would get by giving the courts power to sentence to corporal punishment, when that power was seldom exercised in the past and would not, I feel, be more likely to be more frequently used in the future, particularly when the courts will have other, and, I think, entirely adequate powers in relation to young offenders.
§ Sir T. Moore
My right hon. and learned Friend has explained exactly the reformatory powers of these detention centres, remand homes and borstals. Will corporal punishment be applicable in those centres?
§ The Attorney-General
It is in approved schools at present. But the proposal that we are considering is, as I understand it, that we should arm the courts with power to pass such a sentence.
To me, one of the most powerful arguments against the reintroduction of corporal punishment is the delay that is bound to occur between the imposition of such a sentence and its execution. Most of the advocates of corporal punishment, if not all, would agree that it is most likely to be effective and to operate as a deterrent if it is inflicted very soon after the commission of the offence. Most people would agree that the longer the interval between the commission of the offence and the infliction of the punishment the less effective it is likely to be. Yet, if we are to permit appeals from sentences of corporal punishment, there is bound to be a very considerable delay before the appeal is heard. I have not heard any serious suggestion as to how this difficulty can be overcome.
I do not think that anyone could support the proposition that there should be no appeal from such a sentence. I have mentioned this particularly, for it is a problem which should not be ignored by the advocates of corporal punishment. If they can find no satisfactory solution—and I cannot see any acceptable solution—that is a very valid objection to the reintroduction of judicial corporal punishment.
I now come to what I think is a most important part of the Bill—a part which has not been the subject of much discussion today—namely, the proposal for subjecting to supervision some categories of persons who have served the sentences imposed upon them. One of the great problems that has long been with us is that of securing the reintroduction into civil life of those who have served long sentences of imprisonment—and I should like to stress that the object of supervision is not limited to seeing that the offender does not go wrong again but is also to secure the resettlement in civil life of the person concerned.
I am sure that we are all aware of the difficulties that a convicted person encounters in getting on his feet again. One often reads accounts of persons leaving prisons with the best intentions of starting a decent way of life and then, 684 as a result of the difficulties they encounter, embarking again upon a career of crime. Supervision has the twin objects of helping those supervised to go straight and checking them if they begin to slip. If this supervisory system is to be effective, we are convinced that there must be some sanction—some way in which supervision can be enforced.
The Bill makes provision for the gradual extension of compulsory supervision on the lines proposed by the Advisory Council. Supervision is not intended to fetter the ex-prisoner with restrictions after discharge but to provide him with a friend and counsellor, who will usually be a probation officer, who can help him with his material difficulties in finding lodgings and employment and, more important still, by giving him personal encouragement and guidance. Compulsory supervision already applies and has applied for many years to those discharged from borstal training. It also applies to those discharged from corrective training and preventive detention.
We now propose that those who have served a sentence of four years or more shall be subject to compulsory supervision. Those who have served long sentences need special help in readjusting themselves to a free life, and I am sure that this is a sound proposal. We also propose that those who have served a sentence of six months after serving a sentence of three months or more imprisonment, corrective training, borstal training or preventive detention, and first offenders sentenced to six months or more imprisonment who appear to be under the age of 26 should be subject to supervision.
We do not think it is necessary to subject other first offenders to supervision. A large proportion of persons who go to prison for the first time do not go back to prison again. Except in the two cases I have mentioned—those serving six months and under 26 years of age, and those serving four years or more—this supervision will not apply to first offenders. It will apply to those who offend again and get six months after having already served sentences of the sort that I have described. Compulsory supervision in relation to these categories is likely to be most valuable and most important, for it may well 685 prevent the offender from becoming a hardened criminal.
The period for which such offender will be under supervision will be 12 months, and the courts will know when they come to pass sentence whether it is one which will involve such supervision. As I have said, it is our view that compulsory supervision must have some sanction linked with it and the Advisory Council, after hearing a number of bodies, came to the conclusion that after care could not be made wholly effective without some sanction. I hope the House agrees with that.
The next question is what should the sanction be and it is this part of the Bill which has been the subject of some criticism today and was the subject of a great deal of the speech of my hon. Friend the Member for Carlton. The Bill proposes that for breach of any requirements imposed by the Prison Commissioners by those subject to supervision, that person if found by the recall board to have been guilty of a breach, and if it is not of the opinion that there is a reasonable likelihood that he will comply with the requirement thereafter, shall be detained in prison for a period either equal to the period of remission he had or could have obtained, or six months, whichever date comes first.
It is these provisions which have been criticised and, while we think it is essential to have some sanction to secure compliance with the Prison Commissioners' requirements—I hope I carry the House with me in saying that—at the same time we shall certainly carefully consider what has been said today with regard to the constitution and the functions of the recall board and see whether it is possible to effect an improvement to meet the wishes of the House in relation to this part of the Bill.
That is really the only part of the Bill which has been subject to any serious criticism today. As was said by the hon. Lady the Member for Leeds, South-East, a great many of the speakers travelled a long way from the confines of the Bill. That they did so should not blind us to the fact—as I believe it to be the fact—that the Bill is one of great importance in our criminal law. I hope and trust that when its provisions come to be implemented—I hope that will be 686 possible soon—we shall see it operating as a more effective deterrent to prevent the commission of crime by young persons and a more effective reformatory influence to prevent those young persons who have been committing crime from repeating their offences. I hope the House will now give this Bill a Second Reading.
§ Question put and agreed to.
§ Bill accordingly read a Second time.
§ Bill committed to a Standing Committee pursuant to Standing Order No. 38 (Committal of Bills).