§ Magistrates' courts and the superior courts shall have the power to pass a sentence of corporal punishment as an alternative to a sentence of detention in remand homes, detention centres, Borstal institutions or prison on young male offenders convicted of crimes of violence for whatever purpose committed, such punishment to be with the cane up to the age of seventeen years and with the birch for offenders of more than seventeen but less than twenty-one years of age:
§ Provided that no such sentence of corporal punishment shall be passed on such offender except in the case of a second or subsequent conviction for such a crime.—[Sir T. Moore.];
§ Brought up, and read the First time.
§ 4.30 p.m.58
§ Mr. Speaker
I think that it would be for the general convenience if we were to have on this Clause a general debate on the desirability or otherwise of introducing corporal punishment for young offenders.
§ Sir T. Moore
I am much obliged. Mr. Speaker, and I think that ail my hon. Friends are, too, that you have selected this new Clause so as to give a wide and general debate on this subject which is causing so much concern and anxiety to so many of our fellow subjects. I am deeply indebted to my hon. Friend the Member for Liverpool, Kirkdale (Mr. N. Pannell), whose new Clause this is, for generously permitting me, with your co-operation, Mr. Speaker, to move it, and I hope that he will succeed in catching your eye later.
During the Second Reading debate I used the word "we" many times, meaning, of course, my hon. Friends and myself who think alike on this subject of crime and punishment. We desire to protect the weak and helpless and to deter by physical punishment or the threat of it—and we make no apology for that. I hope that my hon. and learned Friend the Joint Under-Secretary will pay particular attention to the last few lines of the Clause. We desire to deter, by physical punishment, or the threat of it, those brutes and monsters who still persist in carrying out their acts of thuggery and violence against harmless and helpless people.
I was interrupted while making my speech during the Second Reading debate by a voice from this side of the House—I think that it was my hon. Friend the Member for Carlton (Sir K. Pickthorn)—who was displaying his usual desire for meticulous accuracy. He asked, "Who are 'we'?" I did not reply then, but I will do so now. I apologise to the House if I appear to repeat remarks which I made during the Committee stage discussions and I will try to avoid doing so as much as possible. As is admitted by the Home Office Advisory Council in its Report, "we" represents 77 per cent. of our fellow subjects in Britain. According to my correspondence, I should have thought that the figure was more like 99.9 per cent. because out of 1,200 letters which I have received there have been only 15 which were hostile to our aim. 59 In a few moments I will read one of them.
We also represent the present Lord Chief Justice, the former Lord Chief Justice, a number of High Court judges and four-to-one majority of the Magistrates' Association. Among those who have written to us are clerks to the justices, magistrates, police officers, social workers, probation officers—in fact, representatives of many of those people who work among others, whether law breakers or law abiders.
I mentioned that there is a minute number of people opposed to our views and efforts. I think that hon. Members will be interested in one letter which I received, because of the source from which it came. One of the pregnant remarks contained in this letter is:Don't you dare bring back corporal punishment or else you will stand the consequences of reprisal … you old buzzard …The writer ends with this fragrant piece:Don't you dare bring back that birch, and don't you ever open your big stinking mouth about it again.The writer signs his name and gives me his address, to which he adds, "world youth organiser". Heaven help world youth. I hope that hon. Members opposite appreciate the importance of this support. I asked the writer to come and see me to discuss the World Youth Organisation, because I thought that his views might be interesting.
Our aim is to restore to the courts the power to impose a sentence of corporal punishment for acts of violence, "for whatever purpose committed"—to use the words of the Clause. The reason we inserted the words, "for whatever purpose committed" was to avoid what is, if I may say so with respect, the somewhat hackneyed excuse so often advanced by Home Office spokesmen that in the case of the one crime for which corporal punishment was inflicted before 1948—robbery with violence—there has been no substantial change since its abolition.
Of course there would not be any substantial change. As I have so frequently said before, the whole social and economic conditions of our country have entirely changed since pre-war days, when the Cadogan Committee recommended the abolition. At that time unemployment figures were high and poverty was 60 far too prevalent, and as a result, men committed acts of violence for money or for food.
Today, as we all know, there are, happily, no such compulsive reasons as hunger or need, since there is full employment, a high standard of living and an adequate amount of money available—sometimes one wonders where there is not too much money. Nowadays young men, and men who are not so young, attack the weak, the frail and the lonely for many reasons; excitement, spite or lust—sometimes, admittedly, for gain—or just for the fun of it. The only requirement demanded by these bullies was, and still is, that their victims shall be weaker than themselves, so courageous are these brutes.
Is it odd, then, that the vast majority of our people should demand, through us, their spokesmen in this House, that these brutal thugs should be given a taste of the pain they so recklessly and wantonly inflict on others? Neither those who make this demand, nor we, are sadists. We do not want punishment for the sake of it. We do not want corporal punishment inflicted lightly, heedlessly or recklessly. But we do want the courts to hold that power in reserve so that it may be used when, in the opinion of the courts, an offence is of such a brutal, violent or repetitive character that no other form of punishment is suitable.
We sincerely believe that corporal punishment is the only effective punishment to deter criminals from repeating their crime or others from committing it. We do not agree with those whose humanity and reforming zeal appears to be almost entirely directed to the criminal. Our sympathy goes to the victim, to the parents of the victim and to those who have loved or still love the victim. Instead of waiting until a crime of violence has been committed, and then setting out to reform the wrong-doer and the evil-doer, we believe it better to deter him from committing an offence by letting him know in advance what punishment may come to him. As I have said before, we would put the horse in front of the cart.
I feel that, once again, I must deal with the defensive policy put forward by my right hon. Friend and repeated, not only in the report of the Home 61 Office Advisory Committee, but ad nauseam by many well-meaning but possibly thoughtless critics. It is that we seek to put the clock back a hundred years. How often have we heard that argument advanced. With respect to my right hon. Friend, it is pure humbug. It is not we who want to put the clock back a hundred years; it is these young and not so young thugs who have brought our country back to the days of a century ago. Then those people—as do their successors today—struck at the old and the feeble, at those living in isolated cottages, at women in the dark, or the fog, and at young girls in lonely places; so courageous are these louts when their victims are weaker than themselves.
We recognise one problem, the difficulty of proving—I stress that word—that corporal punishment is the deterrent which we believe it to be. We are encouraged to think that it is by the fact that the Home Secretary has himself retained that form of punishment for those prison inmates who commit acts of violence in prison, and also by the opinions of those who have suffered such punishment. I have here a letter from a man—I have his name and address—who says:I say bring back the cat and birch and I know what I am talking about as I have been flogged over twenty years ago and have a clean record ever since …Another man, writing from the Royal Air Forces Association, says:I have done four stretches (six years in all) and mixed with yobs for the past thirty years whose policy is, 'Bash and bash hard'. All of them had only one fear which is the cat. They are all terrified of getting flogged.The words "fear" and "cat" are in capital letters.I met many old lags in stir who said 'Give me time, but not the cat'.I could go on, but that is enough for the moment.
§ Miss Bacon
How does the hon. Gentleman square that with the example he gives so often of boys voting to be birched rather than go to borstal?
§ Sir T. Moore
They probably voted that way because they had not experienced birching. I am glad that the hon. Lady reminded me of that point. I shall mention it later.
62 We were up against the problem of proof. Since no one knows how many crimes of violence would not have been committed had corporal punishment been available, and known to be available, this is a very difficult problem to solve. But we know that the present methods, which have been practised since 1948, have not succeeded in quelling this violent wave of crime, and the proposed methods in the Bill will not have any more salutary effect, since they are merely an extension of the existing system. The figures speak for themselves. I will quote them again. In 1938, there were 2,800 crimes of violence. In 1949—after abolition—the number had risen to 5,235, and in 1958 it was 13,800. On my calculation that gives us the frightening figure of 37 crimes of violence every day—and the figures are steadily mounting.
That was the position in Committee, and so we put down a new Clause of a general character seeking to give the courts power to inflict corporal punishment for any crime of violence against the person. That Clause was heavily defeated in Committee, by 26 votes to 6—partly due to the Opposition feeling a sense of moral obligation to vote against the reintroduction of something which their own Government had abolished in 1948 and partly because many of my hon. Friends were uncertain of the deterrent effect of corporal punishment. Now we are on the Report stage. As we were defeated in Committee on this simple Clause we felt that we would be defeated on Report if we put down the same Clause. We therefore had to think of something better to achieve our purpose, which is to stop indiscriminate thuggery.
I put down a Clause—which was not selected—giving the offender a choice of corporal punishment or imprisonment. The Clause that we are now discussing perhaps achieves more, because the young offender will now have a warning that although he is not going to be whipped or birched if it is his first offence he can look forward to corporal punishment if he commits the offence again.
I now turn to the point raised by the hon. Member for Leeds, South-East (Miss Bacon). I was greatly influenced by the letter to which she refers. As the House may remember, I got into considerable 63 trouble over it. Mr. Speaker, who is not in the Chair at the moment, will probably remember it, because he also got into trouble. The letter was from a Mr. Gash, and was published in the Daily Mail. He was a master in a borstal institution, and he conducted a private inquiry among 53 boys asking them if they favoured the reintroduction of corporal punishment. Fifty-one of the boys said "Yes", and two said "No".
Their reasons included the following:It would teach us a better lesson than this place—it's a kip here … It would stop lads getting into trouble more than once … It would stop lads like me getting a record … It would stop 'Teds' beating people up—they don't like pain themselves, they are yellow on their own … I got borstal for my first offence and I've learned more about crime here than I ever knew … The birch would hurt us. Borstal doesn't. It's too soft—that's why we don't mind a second time inside.Those are statements—unbiassed and unsolicited—from people who believe, as we do, that a sterner punishment is required for these young lads. We thought that in Mr. Gash we had got somebody who was well worth quoting.
The Clause we are now discussing gives the young criminal a second chance. He may have been weak, and may have been led away by a stronger personality the first time. Since then he may have acquired a girl friend. He may want to get married and bring up a family, or to obtain a good job. The Clause gives him an opportunity for these things. He has the warning that next time he is convicted of such an offence he will receive corporal punishment. My Clause is an admirable one, although I cannot discuss it here. I will not do so, although if any of my hon. Friends wish to do so I wish them luck.
Various arguments against the Clause will, no doubt, be used this afternoon, just as they have been used before, but my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary has given us a very good example of the value of corporal punishment in that he has retained it in respect of prisoners who use violence against warders. Today's newspapers contain many examples of this. A further question is, "Who will administer corporal punishment?" That question was asked in Committee. I would merely say that 64 corporal punishment was available before 1948 for the crime of robbery with violence and people were then found to administer it. There should not be any difficulty in finding people to do so now.
People have been found to administer the much more severe form of corpora] punishment—flogging. The "cat" is used in prison. Further, as one correspondent pointed out to me, there is a public executioner. Why not have a corps of public punishers? These are possibilities which occur to people who are genuinely disturbed and unhappy about the whole business.
§ Sir T. Moore
I was punished on many occasions when I was young, but that does not matter. Among my correspondents on that point I found many people who were moved by the horrible things which that hypocritical brute Jones inflicted on an immature Girl Guide, and many of them asked me to pass on their names to the Home Secretary as being willing and anxious to take on the job of inflicting punishment on his hide. Unfortunately, he does not come within the scope of the Bill, so it is no use my passing on this information.
I have already quoted in Committee another letter, sent to me by a clergyman of the Church of England. He says:I would willingly wield the whip myself against the thugs who beat up and slashed my gentle wife as she was coming home from a church meeting the other evening. I can now find it in my heart to hope thatsome otherswill never have a similar terrifying and humiliating experience.I therefore feel that there is one more case to be answered, and that is the last bleat of the abolitionists that violence breeds violence. To them I say, where does the violence start, and whom is it started against, and whom is it directed against? It is directed, as we know, against the old and the weak and the young and the trusting. The only proviso, as I have said, is that the victims must be weaker than the thugs. If we turn to the Bible we find many precedents which will, perhaps, influence some hon. Members. We find our Lord 65 using the whip against the moneylenders and the evil-doers in the temple.
§ Sir T. Moore
I was not there. I do not know. I can only quote the Bible as my source.
If we turn to the Gospels we find it said in St. Matthew, chapter 18, verse 6, and also in St. Mark and St. Luke that… whoso shall offend one of these little ones … it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea.That seems a somewhat violent form of punishment, but that is what the Bible authorises us to do.
The clergyman's letter I have quoted concludes:Yours in utter horror and pain of heart at the criminals?This is the final word I have to say, and I apologise for taking much longer than usual. There is one thing which we should drive home. In all the 83 Sections and the ten Schedules of the Criminal Justice Act, 1948, there is not one mention of the word "victim". Not is there a mention of it in the Bill. Yet it is the victim who is battered, bruised, maimed, mutilated and humiliated. It is the victim who even gets murdered at times. Would it not be far better if the Government were to bring in a Bill protecting the people against violence and thuggery? After all, the people have the right to demand of the Government that they carry out the primary duty of Government—that is, to protect the people.
§ Sir G. Benson
This is not the first time that we have discussed corporal punishment in this House. The real question we face is: is there any evidence that corporal punishment is a more effective form of deterrent than the other forms of deterrent at our disposal? It is a matter of fact. The facts have been investigated with very great care more than once.
The first serious investigation was carried out by a Departmental Committee in 1938, which, after examining all the available evidence, presented a unanimous report, rejecting the idea of the reintroduction of corporal punishment. It may be said that circumstances have changed since then. There has 66 been another and much more recent investigation. The matter was referred to the Home Office Advisory Council by the Home Secretary. I served as a member of that Council. We took an enormous amount of evidence from practically everybody who offered to give it—even from the hon. Member for Ayr (Sir T. Moore).
When the Council started its investigations, it was divided very sharply in its opinions between those in favour of corporal punishment and those against, but as a result of the very large amount of evidence that we received the final report was a unanimous rejection of the reintroduction of corporal punishment. We have thus had two very careful investigations, one by a Departmental Committee in 1938, and one by the Home Office Advisory Council. They took massive evidence, weighed the subject, and both came unanimously to the conclusion that corporal punishment should not be reintroduced.
§ Mr. W. R. van Straubenzee (Wokingham)
I interrupt the hon. Gentleman with some hesitation, knowing his detailed knowledge of this subject. He places us upon inquiry to produce evidence that corporal punishment is a deterrent. I ask him what factual evidence he would be able to rely upon for an opinion which he holds and I share—that is, that detention centres are a deterrent. What factual evidence would he be able to introduce if I were to put him on inquiry on that matter?
§ Sir G. Benson
I did not say that corporal punishment was not a deterrent. Any form of punishment is a deterrent. The case against corporal punishment is that there is not a solitary shred of evidence, either in the past or in the present, to show that it is any more effective than other forms of punishment. That is the case against it.
§ Sir G. Benson
Of course it is a deterrent. No one in his senses has ever denied that. But what has to be established if we are to reintroduce it is that it is a deterrent which we require in addition to the other deterrents, and that it is more effective than those deterrents which already exist. I say categorically 67 that the investigations we have had on that specific point have both led to the conclusion that it was not more effective than ordinary imprisonment and other forms of penalty.
Therefore, I suggest that, in view of the fact that we have something equally efficient with corporal punishment it would be a retrograde step to go back to a penalty which has literally nothing to recommend it.
§ Mr. Gerald Nabarro (Kidderminster)
I rise to support the new Clause, and I hope that I shall do so in a quite mild fashion. I am not by instinct a flogger as a method of penal reform. I find the whole topic rather distasteful to discuss publicly or privately and I have only been drawn into the controversy by the urgency of the pleas made to me by constituents and many others who are gravely concerned about the increase in crimes of violence.
Whether or not corporal punishment is a really effective deterrent in present circumstances I find it hard to adjudicate, and I think that every other hon. Member must surely be in the same position. It is thirteen years since corporal punishment was, for all effective purposes save for violent assaults on warders in prisons, abolished. But what is indisputable, in my view, and is reflected in the anxieties expressed by the overwhelming majority of the general public, is the very large increase in crimes of violence against the person.
It is always easy to take as an example a particular year and compare it with another particular year when discussing reformative processes in this sphere, or any other. But it is fair to say that a direct comparison of what occurred in 1948, immediately prior to the abolition of the somewhat limited facilities for the imposition of corporal punishment, should be made, after the passage of a whole decade, with what occurred ten years later in 1958. I have been at great pains to assemble all the relevant statistics and to arrange them under three headings, so that the statistics cannot be attacked on any grounds of inaccuracy.
In 1948, 225 male persons under the age of 17 were found guilty of indictable offences against the person. In 1958, 68 there were 1,012. That is an increase of 350 per cent. in ten years. In the age group between 17 and 21 380 male persons were found guilty of indictable offences of violence against a person. Ten years later, in 1958, there were 2,051, an increase of 440 per cent. By way of comparison and only as a passing reference, in the age group 21 to 30 years, 1,189 male persons were found guilty of indictable crimes of violence against the person in 1948 and, ten years later, in 1958, the figure was 2,471, an increase of 108 per cent. All these figures are for England and Wales, only, excluding Scotland and Ulster.
Another method of comparison is to relate those figures to 100,000 of population, for it is often argued that the population has increased by a wide margin in the decade which I am discussing and that the figures are, therefore, inaccurate unless that increase is taken into account. After adjusting the figures to a basis of 100,000 heads of population, the increase in the same group of crimes was 264 per cent. for the age group under 17,494 per cent. nearly six times as many, for the age group 17 to 21, and for the age group over 21 and under 30 an increase of 143 per cent.
It would be fair for an hon. Member of the Opposition to ask me the source of those figures. It is the Home Secretary himself who briefed me very fully with figures, set out in this form, at my request, in order that I could broadcast on the B.B.C. on this topic in a programme answering questions from a wide variety of people experienced in penal reform.
§ Sir G. Benson
Will the hon. Member relate those figures to corporal punishment? He has been quoting the figures for crimes of violence, but there was only one crime of violence which was previously floggable and that was robbery with violence. Other crimes of violence were not floggable. If he will analyse his figures, he will find that it is the crimes of violence which were not floggable which have increased in the last few years more rapidly than the crime of violence which was floggable.
§ Mr. Nabarro
The hon. Member is a little more impetuous than he usually is. If he will allow me to continue my speech, he will find that I was about to deal with those points.
69 I am establishing what I consider to be one correct basis, that is, a statistical basis. I consider that I am making a correct comparison taking the date immediately before the abolition of corporal punishment for crimes of violence and ten years later. It is often argued by penal reformers that one must not take a period of less than ten years. I am taking exactly ten years and I am using the figures of the Home Secretary which must be regarded as indisputable.
§ The Secretary of State for the Home Department (Mr. R. A. Butler)
Will my hon. Friend relate his statistics to the type of offence for which flogging was regarded as a deterrent?
§ Mr. Nabarro
On the contrary, the new Clause contains the words:crimes of violence for whatever purpose committed.What I am saying is that before corporal punishment was abolished by the Criminal Justice Act, 1948, it was applicable only to robbery with violence, but the figures I have quoted are figures from the Home Office for all crimes of violence against the person.
I am seeking properly to establish how those crimes of violence against the person have increased over a period of ten years. I maintain that I have conclusively established that there has been a huge increase in crimes of violence against the person. The new Clause requires that after a first chance has been given to an offender corporal punishment shall be available on a second crime of violence against the person being committed by the same male individual. It is in the context of the new Clause that the House should consider these figures.
I want now to add to what has been said about the volume and spread of support for the measure contained in the new Clause. I quote from the Economist of 26th March, 1960:Last Monday, the News Chronicle Gallup poll made the depressing revelation that 78 per cent. of the people of Britain want a return of corporal punishment. Support was lowest among the upper class (69 per cent.) slightly higher among the middle class (75 70 per cent.) and highest of all among the working class (79 per cent.).However the Economist sought to categorise those matters, it is indisputable that approximately four out of five of the general public believe that some sort of severe action, in addition to the action at present available under the law, should be taken in respect of crimes of violence and in a judicial sense.
At each level of our judicial system there is ample and strong support for the plea being made by my hon. Friends and myself. I quote two extracts, the first by a London magistrate of very long experience, and the second by the Lord Chief Justice. The London magistrate is Mr. J. P. Eddy, Q.C., who, in the Daily Telegraph, on 28th November, 1966, wrote:But a long experience of penal practice, including visits to many prisons at home and abroad, has satisfied me that there is a hard core of criminals who are not interested in reformative treatment, and will resume their evil ways as soon as they have the opportunity.It seems to me utterly wrong when one of these offenders is brought before an Assize judge and he is convinced, all other methods having failed, that corporal punishment is the only appropriate treatment, that we should deny him the right to order it.My own view is that the mere existence of the punishment, though it may be imposed only in rare cases, would be a real deterrentMr. Eddy is a London magistrate of more than a quarter of a century's experience in the London courts.
I add to that the view, though it may have been widely read by hon. Members, of the Lord Chief Justice, Lord Parker, as reported in the Daily Mirror on 25th April, 1960:Lord Parker made the plea on Saturday at the conference of the National Association of Probation Officers, at Margate, Kent.He said that he did not favour the reintroduction of flogging, but he did think that corporal punishment should be reintroduced in the form of birching or caning.If this was administered only after a court warning, and was limited to people, under twenty-one, he said, it would go a long way to meet his point of view.Those words of Lord Parker, the Lord Chief Justice, are precisely the words of the new Clause save only that the new Clause is a good deal more temperate and liberal than the Lord Chief Justice in that it allows a man found guilty of a crime of violence against the person a first chance, and corporal punishment 71 would be ordered only for a second offence.
For all those reasons, which, I think, are valid and widely supported, I believe that a large percentage of hon. Members today will support the new Clause. It might not be a majority. I am not concerned with that. I am not an indiscriminate flogger. I believe in penal reform. I believe that the Home Secretary's general purposes and policies in this context are correct—stern borstal treatment, and even sterner detention centre treatment. I would have detention centre treatment closely analogous to "glasshouse" treatment in the Army—[Interruption.] The hon. Member for Bristol, South (Mr. Wilkins) is muttering. Perhaps he has not been in a "glasshouse."
§ Mr. Nabarro
Nor have I. I managed to escape committing Army crimes to that extent, but I have seen at close quarters the reformative effect of "glasshouse" treatment. The only difference is that in a civil case I would pay a man a small sum of money for his labours, while undergoing "glasshouse" treatment.
I support the Home Secretary in his policy of detention centres, but, as Mr. Eddy said, there is a hard core of grave offenders who commit these hideous crimes of violence, which is unreformative and I believe that they would greatly benefit from the type of treatment outlined in the new Clause.
§ Mr. Julian Snow (Lichfield and Tamworth)
I have listened carefully to the hon. Gentleman. I appreciate that he has been speaking entirely in the context of the situation as it appears to be in the United Kingdom, but, because of the thoroughness which he applies to any question, has he considered the fact that it appears to be almost a world-wide characteristic of the post-war period that there has been this upsurge in crimes of violence? When I say world-wide, I mean in countries strictly comparable with this country from the point of view of sophistication. Should we not consider whether there are other factors which might lead to a conclusion as to the best form of punishment?
§ Mr. Nabarro
I came prepared to answer the hon. Gentleman's intervention. If he read, as I did, the Daily Mirror of 9th August, 1960, he will have found the most interesting article "Teenage Hoodlums" on the crime page, by Tom Tullett. He says:The world-wide increase in juvenile crime is the major item on the agenda of the United Nations Congress on crime which opened in London yesterday.Crime experts from eighty-six countries are discussing the nuisance we in Britain call Teddy Boys and Girls.In Germany they are called Halbstarke (half-matured); in France, Blousons-noirs (black-jackets); in Australia, the boys are known as Bodgies and the girls Widgies.This is certainly a world-wide manifestation, but every country must try to find its own solution. Britain has special circumstances. I am asking only that this extreme sanction be applied on a second offence to deal with the otherwise unreformative hard core. I believe that the hide of the thug is tender and receptive. A policy of whack the thug should be our policy, and I believe that it would inflict a sharp and salutary lesson.
§ 5.15 p.m.
§ Mr. R. T. Paget (Northampton)
Will the hon. Gentleman deal with these two points? Throughout the world the younger generation is finding itself with a good deal more money in its pockets, and it is behaving in this way. When I was young, the young people who had money in their pockets tended to be the undergraduates. Did not the undergraduates in my day behave like far bigger hooligans than the Teddy boys of today? Secondly, the hon. Gentleman says that he has not been in a "glasshouse". I do not know whether he has been flogged. Many of the hon. Members sitting round the hon. Gentleman have been frequently, with both cane and birch.
§ Mr. Nabarro
I am not in a position to comment on the habits and behaviour of undergraduates in pre-war years. I 73 was not an undergraduate. I was doing something which I thought at the time was much more worth while.
§ Mr. Nabarro
I recognise the special difficulties associated with what is commonly called judicial beating. I am the father of four young children under 15. I do not suppose that I have ever struck the children more than giving them a cuff round the ear.
§ Mr. Nabarro
Whatever is the normal parental habit in this context, most parents at some time believe that a child has to be sternly reproved, and that is properly done, in a parental sense. The judicial problem is different. I do not think that it is proper for the hon. and learned Member for Northampton (Mr. Paget) to draw attention to the behaviour of undergraduates who misbehaved themselves in pre-war years when they ought to have been working, within the context of the new Clause, which is sincere and genuine in the belief of those who support it, and is applied only to an unreformative hardcore of dangerous and violent young male criminals.
§ Sir Douglas Glover (Ormskirk)
Is my hon. Friend suggesting that the hard core of dangerous criminals will be reformed by getting six of the best with the cane?
§ Mr. Nabarro
This is a matter of opinion. I quoted the opinion of the Lord Chief Justice. I quoted the opinion of an experienced London magistrate. I saw my hon. Friend fast asleep before the new Clause was moved. He must have been asleep, also, during the early part of my speech. I probably woke him up. I made it clear that the methods described in the new Clause are only some of several reformative methods which would be employed in this context.
In the matter of crimes of violence against the person I believe that the present law favours the brute and ignores the victim. That condition is intolerable to our society which is 99.99 per cent. law-abiding. The 0.01 per cent. which is not law-abiding would fall within the ambit of the new Clause—that is all it is; it is the second offender and more, who ought to be 74 dealt with severely, and the emphasis ought to be on over-severity rather than on timidity in view of the overwhelming general interest of the 99.99 per cent. of law-abiding citizens in our community.
§ Mr. Leslie Hale (Oldham, West)
I have not followed the figures of the hon. Member for Kidderminster (Mr. Nabarro) in detail, but he seems to have concluded his speech by saying that he is proposing the reintroduction of corporal punishment for so limited a number of criminals that it would seldom be applied and never in the right cases.
I always listen with attention to the hon. Member for Ayr (Sir T. Moore) when he makes his repetitive speech. I usually listen to the hon. Gentleman with somewhat similar affection as I do when I hear Stanley Holloway as Scrooge referring to the same sort of sentiments and with much the same accent and also using much the same historical observations. I know that the hon. Gentleman enjoys a good deal of affection in the House and, therefore, I do not propose to follow to their legitimate conclusion some of his excursions into the question of flagellation. Such a discussion could be followed perhaps more in detail and more effectively in the French Chamber of Deputies where a number of members have come under the jurisdiction of the law because of their affection for this particular room in the public brothels which used to exist there and which I am told by some very sincere social reformers they would like to see back again. But in the whole of the history of penal reform, from the Marquis de Sade to Mussolini, one does not see these names quoted with exaggerated respect.
The hon. Gentleman rather supported Mussolini at the time of the jackboot and the castor oil and the other remedial actions taken to clear Italians of socialism. But I do not want to pursue this matter; I hope that we are going to have a talk on penal reform. I think that the important but irrelevant figures which the hon. Member for Kidderminster produced on this occasion are of importance in a discussion on penal reform. I might be tempted to remark on the philosophy as to whether an advocacy of violence by the Government might induce youngsters 75 to believe that violence has more ethical validity than has the New Testament to which the hon. Member for Ayr made an infelicitous reference. I speak reluctantly as an agnostic—
§ Mr. Nabarro
The hon. Gentleman used the word "irrelevant". I quoted a ten-year comparison of figures of crimes of violence against the person up to the age of 21, which showed an increase in these crimes. As the proposed new Clause refers to crimes of violence against the person, however committed, how can these figures possibly be irrelevant?
§ Mr. Hale
The hon. Gentleman said this before in precisely the same terms in reply to an intervention by my hon. Friend the Member for Lichfield and Tamworth (Mr. Snow) and at that stage the Home Secretary made a similar interjection which appeared to express the point of view which I expressed. Maybe I am wrong; maybe the Home Secretary is wrong; maybe the hon. Member for Kidderminster is right. But if one takes the law of averages, I think that the hon. Member for Kidderminster is wrong again.
§ Mr. Nabarro
The figures I quoted are typed on Home Office paper and were supplied to me by the Home Secretary. I read out precise extracts of that document. Surely, therefore, it is ridiculous to say that the figures are wrong. The hon. Gentleman may not think that they are applicable, but they cannot be wrong.
§ Mr. Hale
I did not say that they were wrong. I said that they were accurate, even though supplied by the Home Office, and that they represented a state of affairs which we all deplore and a state of affairs which is much worse in most other countries of what is called the Free World. The United States, of course, has a desperate and terribly unhappy problem of gang life among youngsters, and some of the crimes committed there have been so terrible and purposeless that all of those who take the subject seriously realise that in penal reform there is no certainty. Figures rarely prove anything. But all who look at the cases in the United States know that there is no human, logical explanation for them except a sort of curious contagion, a curious inverted virtue, because among these gangs of brutal thugs 76 committing wicked and brutal crimes there is an esprit de corps and a loyalty to the gang which is frightening.
I speak as a reluctant agnostic and I rarely quote theological matters except with humility. The hon. Member for Ayr made a somewhat infelicitous reference to the New Testament. He expressed high approval of the action of our Lord in driving the usurers from the Temple. In that particular test I am with him wholeheartedly, and if the hon. Gentleman wanted to turn the usurers from the housing estates I should welcome his assistance and co-operation and invite him to join the Keep Left group when we would try to drive them from our life. However, I do not think that a relevant—
§ Mr. Hale
The hon. Gentleman did not refer to this particular action, and to discuss it would take us a little outside our terms of reference.
May I come back to the main proposition? One of the really astonishing things about the march of science in these days is the extent to which it establishes the value and the scientific accuracy of the teaching of our Lord as taught in the New Testament. With respect to the hon. Member for Ayr, if he really suggests that our Lord was in favour of corporal punishment then he ignores the whole of the Sermon on the Mount, the theory that one should turn the other cheek and that kindness is best.
The right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary will know of a very interesting institution for the treatment of youth in Paris where they have a very severe problem and where they are trying to treat deprived children. When they came to consider what deprived children were they found that the normal terms of deprivation really did not apply. To be deprived of education or a chance in life is really no grievance to a child. When a person reaches the age of 50 he may feel such a grievance, but at the age of 15 he does not. Very often he welcomes it. To be 77 deprived of food and other basic necessities are the sort of trials to which the poor have submitted for generations and which they have survived. Those interested in the subject found that the one thing of which such children could not be deprived was real affection. If it could be maternal affection, so much the better, but if not they sought affection everywhere, whether it was from the prostitute in the street or from the black marketeer in the club. They wanted affection. They needed something like understanding.
§ Sir T. Moore
That is exactly what I and my hon. Friends are trying to show for the victims of these cruel brutes.
§ Mr. Hale
The hon. Gentleman talks about the victims. I can remember over the years when appealing for some misguided youth that I was never thinking of the widow, the person injured, the policeman, though my hon. Friends and I have had some opportunity to do something to deal with the problems of the police. I should not have thought that our record was a bad one.
One of the curious examples comes from the tortuous history of the Evans case. The one man whom we know enjoyed the full advantage and the benefit of corporal punishment was John Reginald Halliday Christie. He was beaten by his deeply religious father who worshipped an angry God and Mr. Gladstone. When he came out of the Forces he was still suffering from a dumbness which I think is called aphonia. I am not sure whether that is the correct term; it was strange to me; but at least he was unable to speak, not because of anything physically wrong with him but because temperamentally he suffered a shock which had deprived him of the will to exercise even his vocal chords.
This man recovered when he saw his father. He used a single word which is not of four letters but which Dr. Johnson described as a term of affection in the Navy, though that was not really correct then and would not be correct today. This man's loathing for his parent was such that he recovered his speech in order to curse him. That is the man who became a sexual pervert. He became the victim of some curious force that we are not able to define and 78 which we cannot in modern circumstances excuse. We do not yet know how to deal with it. Some day perhaps we shall. However, these things happen.
The hon. Gentleman referred almost obsequiously to the utterances of Her Majesty's judges. On every question of social reform Her Majesty's judges have consistently been wrong during the last 120 years. Sometimes it has been the judges, sometimes the bishops, and sometimes both. I said that I did not wish to be controversial, but I must say in parenthesis that the well-known habit of appointing to the bench unsuccessful Tory M.P.s with large majorities and no incomes has added to the judicial ignorance which is sometimes expressed on social matters.
The hon. Member for Kidderminster made a speech asking society to put the clock back and introduce a punishment which we have previously by Statute reprehended and abolished, asking it to be done for the 0.1 per cent. of cases, and this in the circumstances of a number of Amendments some of which refer only to young people anyhow. On an occasion when a previous Lord Chief Justice said that some lads could do with a jolly good hiding, or words to that effect, the Howard League for Penal Reform—which, I am sure the right hon. Gentleman will agree, has never been one of the large public advertising associations which promulgate theories but has been a research organisation which has sought to ascertain the truth—examined the matter and took statements and published a statement about it. It was found that the youths in question were the sons of a surgeon major in the Army who believed passionately in corporal punishment and had thrashed them brutally for many years.
This is our dilemma—I put it to hon. Members sincerely—in examining the evidence. We know that there is no certitude. We know that on this we are merely expressing opinions which have a basis of emotion and research and no certitude at all. But there is a lot of evidence that corporal punishment produces humiliation and resentment, that it may be the worst thing one can do with even a brave adult criminal and that it certainly is the worst possible thing one can do with the young adolescent whose mind and habits one is trying to form and who one is trying to 79 train to become a decent member of a healthy society.
§ Mr. W. F. Deedes (Ashford)
The hon. Member for Oldham, West (Mr. Hale) has taken us into rather deep waters, and I do not propose to swim after him. I want to deal with only one point of the new Clause, which I feel I am unable to support.
My concern about it arises from the vagueness of the categories of crime which it is proposed to punish by this means. My hon. Friend the Member for Kidderminster (Mr. Nabarro) used the expression "whack the thug", an expression which invites very general support from a large number of people, but it does not define very exactly the categories of crime that he or many others have in mind as covered by the Clause. Nobody has yet—I very much doubt whether anybody will be able to—produced an agreed list of crimes involving violence for which this Clause will be invoked. The words used are:convicted of crimes of violence for whatever purpose committed.If a more exact description can be provided, I shall be interested to hear what it is.
I will quote one example of what I have in mind. We have only recently experienced a new form of outrage, the outrages on British Railways trains last week. That has produced—it is very characteristic of the mood of many people towards corporal punishment—a demand that those found guilty of such offences should receive corporal punishment. As I read the Clause, such crimes would, rightly, be outside the categories covered by it. The point I want to stress is that, although the value of corporal punishment may be arguable, what we cannot possibly have is an eclectic list of offences to be dealt with by corporal punishment which fits the needs of the time.
§ Mr. Nabarro
My hon. Friend the Member for Ashford (Mr. Deedes) was a junior Minister at the Home Office a number of years ago and will know that the Home Office categorises the crimes to which the Clause purports to refer, and they are crimes of violence against the person. Had I drafted the Clause, I should have put in "against the person" after "crimes of violence". Obviously 80 the Clause does not cover beating up railway carriages or things of that kind. It is concerned only with crimes of violence against the person. I apologise for the omission.
§ Mr. Deedes
I am interested to hear my hon. Friend's view, but I am sure he will be the first to admit that his view is not necessarily the view of others who want the restitution of corporal punishment. There are the widest opinions on this as to the offences for which corporal punishment should be restored. It is the lack of clarity on this which gives me my principal doubts about it.
One of the reasons why I feel unable to accept the Clause is that it is not possible to meet the requirements of unprincipled youths with unprincipled methods, and the restitution of corporal punishment without very exact definitions about where it is to be inflicted and for what reason seems to me to be something which none of us can logically support.
§ Mr. Fitch
The hon. Member for Ayr (Sir T. Moore) seemed to suggest that before the war one could expect crimes of violence because there were so many unemployed, but certainly my knowledge of the unemployed, and unfortunately I was one of them for a short time, did not lead me to that conclusion. The hon. Gentleman seems to suggest that now crimes of violence are undertaken for such reasons as lust, excitement and even enjoyment. But surely lust is something which is as old as man himself? It is not something which has suddenly appeared as a post-war problem. Excitement is as old as the human race. It is not a problem which has suddenly come upon us.
As my hon. Friend the Member for Oldham, West (Mr. Hale) said, quotations from the Bible, whether the New Testament or the Old Testament, can be found to bolster up whatever view one has, and I thought that the quotations given by the hon. Member for Ayr were very weak indeed. The hon. Member went on to quote a number of people who had written to him—magistrates, probation officers, doctors and lawyers. The same types of people have also written supporting our point of view. I think it is very unwise to base one's arguments on letters written by people who are 81 often emotionally disturbed about matters such as these.
The hon. Member said that he was supported by 77 per cent. of the population, and the hon. Member for Kidderminster (Mr. Nabarro) said that 80 per cent. of the population were in favour of the reintroduction of corporal punishment. That may be so on the basis of a Gallup poll, but are we to legislate on the basis of a Gallup poll?
§ Sir T. Moore
The Home Office Advisory Council admitted that there was at least 77 per cent. in favour.
§ Mr. Fitch
I do not dispute that. The hon. Member knows as well as I do, however, that one can often get the sort of answer one requires by putting a loaded question.
Let us be frank about this. Whether we are in favour of corporal punishment or against it, the emotional reaction of all of us on hearing of a brutal crime is to say, "String him up and flog him". That is the obvious emotional reaction of anybody and it is a natural one.
§ Mr. Fitch
I am speaking for myself and, I think, for most people. That is the obvious emotional reaction. We must, however, ask ourselves whether it is a rational reaction and whether it will do any good. In other words, would the reintroduction of corporal punishment deter criminals? I do not suggest that the hon. Member for Ayr (Sir T. Moore) and those associated with him are personally interested in flogging; I do not think that they are. They are humane and sincere men who believe that their method would reduce crime. Many of us do not think so. Surely, however, we have it in common that we are all trying to find a way that will reduce crime.
As the hon. Member for Kidderminster said, there has been an increase in juvenile crime. In 1958, there was an increase of 26 per cent. over the previous year, but in 1959 the increase had dropped to 7 per cent. I do not know the figure for 1960, but all this suggests to me that many of the present-day young offenders are those who were born or brought up just before or during the war, when homes were disrupted and there were domestic difficulties. I believe that 82 as the years go by, we shall see a natural reduction in juvenile crime, because home life has become more settled.
The hon. Member for Kidderminster talked about the letters he had received from his constituents. That was one of the reasons why he felt impelled to speak today. I have received no letters from my constituents in Wigan. When I spoke on this matter in Committee, I received about seven somewhat abusive letters, but they came from places like Eastbourne and Brighton, where I was described, together with my hon. Friend the Member for Leeds, South-East (Miss Bacon), as a beatnik and many other things. It is entirely wrong to base one's case, either one way or the other, on the emotional reactions of people, and particularly of those who write letters. Something far more solid is needed.
I do not think that there are any practical grounds for reintroducing corporal punishment. I have spoken to six or seven prison governors. They certainly were not in favour of the reintroduction of corporal punishment. Whilst it may deter a certain type of criminal, there is the other type of criminal who rather swanks about this kind of thing. To him, it is a sort of medal and he becomes a martyr among his colleagues. I hope, therefore, that the new Clause will be rejected. As one earlier speaker has said, these problems are apparent in Europe, yet there is no clamour there for the reintroduction of corporal punishment.
Perhaps we are inclined to be a little puritanical in this matter. We feel that if there is a certain amount of vengeance, everything will be all right. I do not say that people consciously believe that, but that is probably behind many of the emotional outbursts. I realise that this is quite natural, but I do not believe that the reintroduction of corporal punishment would solve the problems that confront us.
§ 5.45 p.m.
§ Mr. James Dance (Bromsgrove)
In supporting the new Clause, I will be brief, because our case has been well made by previous speakers. There are, however, one or two points which I wish to emphasise. First, I do not feel that the Clause goes far enough. I should have liked the young hooligans who have 83 been destroying railway carriages and cinema seats to be given a sharp reminder on that part of their anatomy which would make them appreciate the comfort of the soft upholstery provided by the unfortunate managements of those concerns; but in this Clause we are not asking to go as far as that.
Whilst I support the views put forward in the Bill by my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary, in particular concerning the detention centres, I feel that in the same way as, when making up a cricket team, one may have the finest batting side in the world but without bowling and fielding, too, one will not get very far, we must have an alternative to the detention centres, and I consider that this type of corporal punishment would be extremely beneficial.
There is one point which has not been sufficiently stressed. We are always being accused in the Press and by speakers that we want flogging. It is in no way flogging that we want. It is not the "cat". I hope that the Press will publish this. We have never wanted that. What we want is the cane and the birch in certain cases. [An HON. MEMBER: "Why not the 'cat'?"] I do not like the "cat", because it is damaging to the skin of the individual, and I do not like that.
§ Mr. Dance
The hon. and learned Gentleman may have been involved in the same crime. He also lived in a house close to mine, and he used to listen whilst I was receiving my punishment. That, however, is not the point.
I do not believe that my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary realises how desperately strong is public feeling about this matter. It is desperately strong. 84 Only last Saturday, at a "surgery", an old lady came to see me. She was petrified. She asked whether, somehow, I could persuade the local council to put extra lighting in her street as she was terrified of walking home each evening from the bus. This kind of thing is going on right and left. The old lady had reason for her fears. Only the previous year, a woman was battered by one of these hooligans and died.
It is all very well for hon. Members opposite, and hon. Members on this side, to ask whether we know that corporal punishment is a deterrent. I ask them, do we know that it is not a deterrent? Is it not worth giving it a trial and doing something now rather than waiting for sometime in the future when the new detention centre ideas come into being? One could buy a cane and cane a boy tomorrow, but it takes time to build the detention centres.
I agree that we are getting a new form of crime. Not only is there the question of people who rob others and commit violence in that way, but in many cases there is sheer devilment. I am convinced that if some of the youths who went around being beastly, horrible little guttersnipes were given a sharp reminder, they would not do it a second time. I sincerely hope, therefore, that my right hon. Friend will accept the new Clause, although I am afraid that he will not. If he does not, for the first time in my comparatively short career in the House of Commons I will have to vote against the Government.
§ Mr. V. Yates
I thought that the hon. Member for Bromsgrove (Mr. Dance) gave an almost complete answer to the argument whether flogging is a deterrent or not. I gathered the impression that he was flogged several times.
§ Mr. Yates
We considered this question for four-and-a-half hours in Committee and some of the arguments we heard in Committee have been put forward again this afternoon. If flogging is considered as a real deterrent I could never understand why it should be confined to young persons of 17 to 21. If there is so much in this, why is it not included for women?
§ Sir T. Moore
This Bill deals only with young offenders, not with elderly men like the hon. Member for Birmingham, Ladywood (Mr. V. Yates) and myself.
§ Mr. Yates
So far all the argument has been against the young offender. The more I hear the hon. Member for Ayr (Sir T. Moore) the more exasperated I become by the reasons he gives why this Clause should be accepted. He keeps talking about the victim, but there is nothing in this new Clause about the victim. We are asked to support a Clause which has no reference whatever to the victim. How on earth would it assist the victim if we birched or caned someone who had committed a crime? From my association with him I have found the hon. Member for Ayr to be of a kindly disposition and of a Christian nature, yet he cannot see that the real deterrent to crime is a proper scientific understanding and application of penal reform methods which will have a lasting effect.
The Report of the Advisory Council on the Treatment of Offenders, which we had to consider in the Standing Committee when we were discussing corporal punishment, says in paragraph 37:We have also received considerable evidence that, whereas some offenders would respond to judicial corporal punishment, and suffer no ill-effects from it, others would be significantly harmed.That is very significant. The paragraph goes on:In general, the more stable the personality the less harm such punishment would be likely to do, but with such stable personalities other forms of punishment would be likely to prove equally effective.The Report also says:those whose personalities are other than normal were said either to act on impulse, without reflecting on the possible consequences, or to have some deep-seated motive for accepting any risk that might be involved. The knowledge that corporal punishment was available as a judicial penalty would therefore not deter them from committing offences, and if they received that punishment they would not profit from it. In many cases they might be permanently harmed, and indeed might commit further offences in consequence of having been beaten. Medical witnesses were agreed that if an individual already had a substantial element of resentment in his make-up, …One of my hon. Friends referred to this—judicial corporal punishment would be likely to make it worse; he would tend to become bitter and resentful and therefore more, rather 86 than less, inclined to behave in an anti-social manner. The aggressive type of adolescent, in particular, often expected violence to be met with violence; if it were, his aggressiveness might become more intractable, but if he were treated by reformative methods there might in due course be a lasting improvement.That Committee was examining this very important matter very carefully week after week and month after month.
The hon. Member for Kidderminster (Mr. Nabarro) asked if any of us had been in a "glasshouse." I have visited an Army "glasshouse" and I have found that some of the more drastic and severe forms of punishment have been revised because it was not proved that they acted as a deterrent or a cure. I went to Colchester to examine this matter. Hon. Members opposite may think that longer periods on a diet of bread and water and that kind of punishment might deter, but the more I examine this matter the more I am certain that the idea of using the birch or the cane in the manner suggested by this Clause is not only wrong, but barbarous. It is a barbarous method.
I know that hon. Members opposite sincerely believe this is the right method, but it is taking us back to the Middle Ages. If the infliction of physical pain can be the deterrent which hon. Members opposite believe it to be, then the more physical pain inflicted the better it should be. We could go back to the thumbscrew and everything else if in fact physical torture were the best method. The hon. Member for Bromsgrove said that he did not want the "cat" brought back, but wanted the birch to be used. We should consider what this Committee said about the birch. This is what the hon. Member wants:A prisoner who is to undergo corporal punishment is strapped to an apparatus, known as a triangle, which is best described as a heavier and more solid form of the easel used to carry a blackboard in a school-room. His feet are strapped to the base of the front legs of the triangle. If the cat is to be administered, his hands are raised above his head and strapped to the upper part of the triangle. If he is birched, he is bent over a pad placed between the front legs of the triangle and his hands are secured by straps attached to the back legs of the triangle.If it were what the hon. Member for Kidderminster described as cuffing a boy across the ear, it would not be so serious, but this is the method of punishment described in the Report.
§ Mr. Dance
I do not think the hon. Member quite realises that the reason for this contraption is that in some of the public schools, which some hon. Members opposite despise, a boy who is being punished bends over freely and does not struggle but takes his punishment like a man, whereas thugs do not.
§ 6.0 p.m.
§ Mr. Yates
I am saying that hon. Members should face this question. It is not a case of giving a chap a slap, but of inflicting something which may do permanent harm to him. That is what the expert Committee has said.
I want to refer to another aspect. Hon. Members who are advocating this Clause claim that they are not advocating a retrograde step. I want to call attention to the fact that every country that has abolished birching as a method of punishment has never returned to it. Paragraph 86 on page 26 of the Report on Corporal Punishment states:… the present demand for the reintroduction of judicial corporal punishment seems to be limited to this country. Other countries which have dispensed with it show no desire to reintroduce it, though many of them are faced with problems similar to those that exist here.I often wonder why hon. Members think that we should deal with our criminals in a less humane manner than any other country. The Report adds:The demand for it in this country is often the subject of adverse comment abroad, and its reintroduction would be certain to damage our reputation as the country which has been a pioneer in the use of enlightened methods of penal treatment.I do not know of any country that imposes birching. If we return to it this will be the outstanding country in this respect. I cannot understand how the hon. Member for Ayr can ask for it. He and I were recently on a delegation to the Soviet Union. I asked a question about this subject. The Russians were rather surprised. They did not know what was meant by the term "flogging".
§ Dame Irene Ward (Tynemouth)
I was a member of that delegation. What did the hon. Member mean by saying that 88 "we explained"? I certainly never explained.
§ Mr. Yates
The hon. Lady was present on this delegation and she will recall that when hon. Members were asked whether there was any matter they wished to discuss or ask questions about, I and another hon. Member said that we would like to know something about the Soviet penal code. The hon. Lady evidently was not present when we discussed this matter with the Deputy-Chairman of the Supreme Court in Moscow. When the term "flogging" was explained as an English term for the infliction of physical pain, the Russians said, "This is not included in our penal code." I asked the reason why.
§ Mr. S. Silverman
Is it not clear that apart from the political side of the Soviet penal code, which nobody supports, the ordinary criminal penal code is among the most enlightened in the world?
§ Mr. Yates
I had the pleasure of reading a book which was presented to me giving a full explanation of the methods adopted to deal with various kinds of crime. There has been a considerable change in penal methods in Russia. The Deputy-Chairman of the Supreme Court in Moscow said to me, "We never impose physical pain as a method of punishment." [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."] "We do not, because we believe that it lowers the dignity of the individual." [Laughter.] That is true.
Hon. Members opposite can sneer as much as they like, but is there any other country that is embarking upon the reintroduction of what hon. Members want us to reintroduce now? If hon. Members opposite complain against other countries and their methods they must be reasonably certain that our standards are higher and better. I am totally disgusted by this continuous request, without any exercise of intelligence in considering whether or not this infliction of pain is the solution.
I have discussed this matter with prison governors and penal reformers. I discussed it only the other day with a 89 superintendent of a remand home who said to me, "Mr. Yates, if you reintroduce this kind of punishment you will undo everything that we are trying to do. All our psychiatric and other work is to be thrown away if we are to embark upon this method." I hope, therefore, that the House will treat this Clause as the Committee treated it.
I hope that the House will reject the Clause by an overwhelming majority, not only on grounds of party considerations or ideologies but on the ground of humanity. I do not say that, because we take a different view, and that I and my colleagues necessarily have all the virtue on our side, but I am pleased that in Committee we were absolutely united. There is no demand of this nature within our movement. It is true that there is public opinion, and it is very often ignorant public opinion, in favour of it. People write letters to me and say that I ought to be hanged or ought to be flogged. [An HON. MEMBER: "Hanged."] It is the duty of this Parliament to attempt to lead public opinion and not to pander to the worst and most ignorant elements in it. I hope, therefore, that we shall reject the Clause by an overwhelming majority.
§ Mr. R. A. Butler
We have had a certain debate on this subject and some good speeches and I now rise to give the point of view of Her Majesty's Government. In doing so, I quite understand that there may be others who wish to express their opinion. It is not because of any wish to stifle discussion that I rise, but I must make it clear that we have a very long Order Paper on the Bill. This is the first major discussion. We have major discussions on other subjects to follow and I hope that if I give in limited scope the view of Her Majesty's Government as reasonably as I can we may, after a suitable interlude for others to express their opinions, be able to proceed with the rest of the Bill.
I have prepared a speech on every one of the new Clauses so I hope that I may be allowed to deliver my speech on this new Clause in the name of my hon. Friend the Member for Liverpool, Kirkdale (Mr. N. Pannell). I did not know which of the new Clauses would be called.
§ Mr. Butler
Very much the same. This new Clause calls for the corporal punishment of young offenders on second and subsequent conviction and it has been moved in a clear manner by my hon. Friend the Member for Ayr (Sir T. Moore). A general discussion has been permitted on this and therefore I will address my argument to the general issue.
There has been one similarity in all the speeches, and that is that we have been dealing with judicial corporal punishment. I will now concentrate on the objections to that. The question of corporal punishment has been discussed throughout the ages. Samuel Johnson said in his day:There is now less flogging in our great schools than formerly but then less is learnt there so that what the boys get at one end they lose at the other.It would be possible to make all sorts of deductions from this statement. The first, which would greatly annoy my hon. Friends, is that flogging appears to have been on the decline in the time of Dr. Johnson. I will not pursue that. The second is that it is beneficial to learning, which no doubt will appeal to certain of my hon. Friends. Again, I must stress that it was not judicial flogging to which Dr. Johnson was referring. Many of us have less difficulty, as I have made clear in public statements and at conferences, with a personal relationship in beating with the cane or otherwise performed by a parent or schoolmaster in which there is a personal relationship and where there is no delay. It is quite a different question from judicial beating or flogging, or whatever one likes to calls it, to which I will now address my remarks. That difference will come out clearly in the course of our discussions on the Bill.
I should like to say to my hon. Friends who have spoken hitherto that I deeply respect the conviction which is apparent in many of their speeches. My hon. Friend the Member for Bromsgrove (Mr. Dance) referred to a visit by one of his constituents at what he described as a "surgery". There is no doubt that he did not exaggerate when he said that there is anxiety in the country about the present state of crime. The only difference of opinion is as to what is the best method of dealing with it, which I shall deal with in the course of my speech.
91 I respect this conviction. I respect the figures given. I do not question the figures given in the Advisory Council's Report on the extent of public opinion by straw votes on this subject. I do not question the figures given by my hon. Friend the Member for Ayr. What I question is whether this type of flogging is the right way to deal with the crime wave from which we are suffering.
Before dealing with that I shall make one or two other small excursions into the history of this. I was reading the autobiography of my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister's favourite author, namely, Anthony Trollope. He refers to his youthful experience and to one of his teachers in these rather attractive words:He must have known me had he seen me as he was wont to see me for he was in the habit of flogging me constantly. Perhaps he did not recognise me by my face.I use that only as a small illustration from the works of Trollope to show that it would be a pity if any of us concentrated solely on this subject and got obsessed by it. I realise that many of my hon. Friends who put this forward as a solution think of it very frequently as the sole solution. I think it is a lesson to us here in the House not to take this as the sole solution of the crime problem. Secondly, I think it is most important not to concentrate the whole of our discussion on the Bill on this one subject, because there is a great deal else in the Bill which must also be discussed.
I will now address myself to the main objections felt by the Government to judicial corporal punishment. I will put it as shortly as I can, because the speeches have been made so often before. Two Reports—the Cadogan Report and the Report of the Advisory Council on the Treatment of Offenders—have shown up the very real difficulties which exist. They have, in particular, shown up what an immense change such a proposal as we are discussing today would mean in the law. The Government agree with the result of both these inquiries. We do not believe that the country can go back. While I do not want to offend my hon. Friend the Member for Ayr by referring to paragraph 85 of the Report, which says that we should be putting the clock 92 back 100 years, I want to quote from paragraph 4—the initial part of the Report—which says:At no time since 1861 has corporal punishment been available as a judicial penalty for the offences for which its reintroduction appears now to be particularly desired, namely, all crimes of violence and sexual offences.I must honestly say that, whatever are our views of penal reform, I am absolutely convinced that flogging is the wrong way to deal with sexual offences. This is proved by all the doctors and medical people, and I think it undesirable in itself.
Looking at the general situation, we see that, in fact, the new Clause is fundamental and would be going back. I do not believe it would provide the right remedy. I would have more reliance on this method if there were no alternative methods. The whole object of the Bill is to provide alternative methods. In Committee this was brought out especially dramatically with reference to the views of my right hon. and learned Friend the Attorney-General, who is sitting beside me. He originally advocated this form of punishment in 1948 so as to avoid sending young people to prison. My right hon. and learned Friend said on Second Reading: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."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 17th November, 1960; Vol. 630, c. 680.]That is undoubtedly the case, because the object of the Bill is to put up a variety of different schemes for the purpose of dealing with young offenders, and dealing with them in the manner which we think is most effective.
In this connection I think it is only right to refer to detention centres. The House must be satisfied that there are adequate detention centres and that the régime in them is strict and suitable for dealing with young offenders. If the House feels that, even those who most conscientiously are concerned with crime, as so many hon. Members are, would be right to support the provisions of the Bill and not revert to corporal punishment, which I do not think judicially administered would be effective.
First, there have been rumours that the régime in detention centres has 93 weakened. I have made it my business since these rumours got about to inquire again from the Prison Commissioners on this subject. I am assured by them, and I know it from my own experience of visiting detention centres, that there is no intention whatever of not having the strictest possible régime for young people at detention centres. The time spent in them will not be long. They are manned, if I may call it that, by the most excellent governors, many of whom I have met personally. I rely absolutely on the régime in detention centres to be effective and strict.
Secondly, will there be enough detention centres? I am speaking in the presence of the author of the 1948 Bill. I think it quite possible to say that greater progress should have been made since that date in building detention centres, and in so far as we have responsibility I accept responsibility. When we started to consider the Bill there were only a few detention centres. By 10th April of this year we had seven detention centres, and the last three have been opened since the Second Reading of the Bill. That indicates that we have on purpose been making a particular drive in our building programme for the prisons. Aylesbury opened in January, Medomsley in February, and New Hall on 10th April. All except Medomsley and, of course, New Hall, are already full to their capacity.
We now plan six more centres, two of which will be opened this year and the rest in the year after, leaving only one centre for the year after that, making thirteen in all, which is one more than was originally promised. Therefore, we are running broadly up to schedule. We have a régime in the detention centres upon which I think we can rely. I make the claim, which I think magistrates will find to be correct, that in the end, when we have finished our programme—and already up to a certain extent—we shall have enough detention centres to serve the courts and the magistrates in dealing with the vital question of the young offenders.
If I had not made those points I could not have carried several of my hon. Friends with me in supporting the Bill as it stands without the new Clause so sincerely moved by my hon. Friend the Member for Ayr. I am grateful to my hon. Friend the Member for Ashford 94 (Mr. Deedes) for his speech. He questioned the vagueness of the categories of crime put forward in the new Clause, and I know full well that he has had doubts about the nature of detention centres. I hope that he and many others like him will feel it right to support the Bill as it stands and not the new Clause.
I hope that I have gone some way to convince hon. Members that the reintroduction of corporal punishment is not desirable on general grounds. We consider, in fact, that its reintroduction would be justified only if there were a reasonable assurance that it would reduce crime. The Advisory Council has written a very sensible Report on this matter, and if we look at paragraph 46 we find—and this is the answer to my hon. Friend the Member for Kidderminster (Mr. Nabarro)—that the Council used the statistics in a way rather different from my hon. Friend.
I do not claim that my hon. Friend used the statistics wrongly. In fact, whilst he was speaking I was underlining the statistics that he was using, which are in Appendix C to this Report, for which the Home Office is responsible, and I purposely made available to my hon. Friend for the programme he undertook the most correct statistics I could.
The first thing to say about the statistics is that the growth of offences of violence against the person in the years 1938 to 1959 should cause every hon. Member most seriously to think. They are extremely serious and are taken as serious by the Administration and, in particular, by myself as Home Secretary, being responsible for law and order.
If we look at Appendix D—the next set of figures—we find reference to robbery and assault with intent to rob, and if we read those figures with the figures after 1948, when flogging was removed, we find that, in fact, these offences do not increase. They drop. It is therefore possible to quote the figures against my hon. Friend the Member for Kidderminster in exactly the opposite way. If we refer to paragraph 46 of this Report—it is my business to know these Reports by heart—we read:The number of robberies known to the police increased steadily during and soon after the war from 287 in 1938 to 1,101 in 1948, 95 despite the fact that in the years 1941–4 … 1946 and 1947 corporal punishment was imposed on adults more often than it had been in the years immediately before the war.The Council then points out that after 1948, when corporal punishment was taken off, the figures dropped. But what was its conclusion? It was not a smug and complacent conclusion but the one to which I would come myself, which is that we should not regard the available statistics as a basis for any firm conclusions. It is not fair to quote statistics one way or the other, and I shall not do so, but, if we do quote them, those that I have quoted to show that this is not a very good deterrent are just as valuable as the other man's, who quotes them the other way.
So much for the statistics hitherto quoted in the debate generally. The next objection was put in a dramatic way by the hon. Member for Birmingham, Ladywood (Mr. V. Yates). I do not want to follow him into his excursions into Soviet Russia, because I do not think that I could do so very satisfactorily, but he referred to some of the methods mentioned in, I think, page 23 of the Report. When we see the instruments that have to be used for this form of punishment, and when we see that, even with the moderate and modest phrasing of the Amendment with reference to the cane, for juveniles it would result in a not too easy situation, I think we must all agree that this system is repugnant to very many of us. What is described in those pages, which I need not myself describe, is not consistent with the general scheme of penal reform as practised at the present time.
The objections put out by the Council are also equally convincing when it says that if there is to be flogging there should be some personal relationship between the person who is beaten and the person who beats. If there is a personal relationship—and I hesitate to say "warm" personal relationship—the warmer it is the sooner is the punishment forgotten. That comes down to us not only from practise but from history, and happens to be true. I do not think that the method described in the Report will work, and when my hon. Friend the Member for Ayr asks us to perform this, I must remind the House that the Council came to the conclusion that it could not honestly recommend any ser- 96 vice or person or persons who could themselves carry out this task.
Paragraph 82 of the Report states:We have been unable to think of any way of overcoming this difficulty. There seems to be no service to whom it would be appropriate or acceptable to give this task, and there are obvious and serious objections to employing people especially to inflict corporal punishment on convicted offenders, even for strictly limited periods.When my hon. Friend the Member for Ayr suggests that there might be someone like the executioner and, at the same time, says that volunteers could come forward, I do not doubt the spirit in which he puts that forward, but I do regard it as utterly impracticable in dealing with judicial corporal punishment through the courts.
Further objections to corporal punishment arise from the delay that must undoubtedly arise. It does not arise in personal chastisement, but it must arise in anything to do with the courts because there must always be the right of appeal. When we add to that the fact that if we were to revert to this form of punishment our practice would be distinctive in that we should be the only country in the world using it, the arguments for not so doing become indeed very formidable, and I am afraid that the Government cannot accept this new Clause.
As the Minister chiefly responsible for law and order, I understand the anxieties which exist in the country today, especially among women, and more particularly in some of our big cities. It has been particularly dramatically brought to my attention from Manchester, Liverpool, Birmingham and other of our big cities. In my view the proper way to deal with the young offender is as we propose in this Bill. The other way is by a strengthened police force. For the first time in forty years, since the Bessborough Report, the police are having a rise in pay and improvement in conditions, and I am glad to say that recruitment is now developing very satisfactorily.
In order to get their numbers back to something like the cadres that should correspond to the needs of the built-up areas—and in the built-up areas of my own county of Essex the police are woefully short and cannot do their job properly—we must put the reformation and strengthening of the police in the 97 forefront of our methods of fighting crime. We must see that the courts indulge in the severest possible sentences. Although we cannot interfere with that ourselves as politicians, I have noticed in this Report an insistence that long sentences may become necessary, and longer sentences may be necessary to deal with this trouble. In this Bill we deal only with the young offender. We are not trying to put him into prison, but we are trying to find a special method of dealing with him. If I thought that the method contained in this new Clause would help me I would adopt it, but I do not think that it is consistent with the methods we are using.
I am responsible, as it were, for a great team. My hon. Friend mentioned the probation officers, but, in general, the probation officers at the meeting addressed by the Lord Chief Justice took violent exception to his words, not because they disliked the Lord Chief Justice but because they disliked the method. I have a team to look after, and I have many people in it who are working all out to cure this crime wave.
As I say, if I thought that this suggested method was consistent with their methods I would adopt it, but I do not believe that it is, and it is because I feel that the Bill provides an alternative—an honourable alternative—that I ask my hon. Friends, who think so sincerely on this subject, to work with us in this way, and not against us.
§ 6.30 p.m.
§ Miss Bacon
I want to make it perfectly clear that I speak from this Box on this Clause for myself alone, because we on this side of the House will have a free vote on this important matter. Nevertheless, knowing most of my hon. Friends as I do, I am certain that a great many of them will vote against the Clause.
I agree with a great deal of what the Home Secretary has just said. Indeed, the speech he has just made, and the speech which I am about to make, are probably as much alike as any two speeches coming from opposite sides of the House ever will be during this Parliament. I want most sincerely to congratulate the right hon. Gentleman on the stand he has taken in the face of the clamour from some of his hon. Friends.
98 It has been said that those who are against corporal punishment are moved by sentiment and emotion. I believe that exactly the opposite is true. The emotion seems to come from those who advocate corporal punishment. There is the cry "Flog 'em". Those of us who are against corporal punishment are against it not because of emotion, but because of cold, hard facts. I want to make it perfectly clear that those of us who do not support the new Clause are not more concerned for the criminal than for the victim, as is often alleged. Also, those of us who will vote against the new Clause—I know that there will be many of both sides who will do so—are just as concerned about the increase in crime as those who support the Clause.
The question we have to ask ourselves is: will corporal punishment do any good at all? As my hon. Friend the Member for Chesterfield (Sir G. Benson) said, there is no evidence to show that birching and flogging are any greater deterrent than any other method of punishment. There is plenty of evidence to show that they are not. The hon. Member for Kidderminster (Mr. Nabarro) said that there had been an increase in crimes of violence, but he did not prove anything in his speech. He said that some prisoners did not respond to reformative treatment. That is quite true. The hon. Gentleman did not produce any evidence to show that corporal punishment would make such people respond to reformative treatment. There does not seem to be any evidence to show that people will not resume crime even after corporal punishment.
I shall not quote again the figures for robbery with violence, which the Home Secretary gave. Robbery with violence, the only crime for which there was corporal punishment before the war, has always been a crime which has fluctuated in its incidence over the years, but the fluctuation has never been according to whether there was corporal punishment or not. The fluctuation in robbery with violence has depended upon entirely different causes.
Before the war, it was shown that those who were flogged had a much worse record subsequently than those who were not flogged. Here again, we have a concrete example to show that flogging and birching do not have the effect that some hon. Members feel that they would.
99 I am still very puzzled about the instance often quoted by the hon. Member for Ayr (Sir T. Moore) when he tells us, quite seriously, about the vote taken inside a boys' borstal to show that the boys there would rather be birched than go to borstal. If that proves anything at all, I should think that it proves that corporal punishment is not a deterrent.
In 1948, corporal punishment for robbery with violence was abolished, but it is significant to note that, by 1948, magistrates were not using the powers that they possessed. Birching for that crime had greatly declined, and it had declined because magistrates realised that it was not such an effective method of punishment as others. The hon. Member for Kidderminster spoke this afternoon about prison warders. Let us suppose that corporal punishment had not been retained for this purpose in the 1948 Act and prison warders had been attacked thereafter. I am perfectly certain that we should have heard many speeches today arguing that the reason was that flogging and birching had been abolished.
It is worth noting that every considered report has come down against corporal punishment. The Cadogan Report of 1938, a Home Office Report in 1951, and the Report of the Advisory Council on the Treatment of Offenders, published only a few months ago, all came to the same view. The membership of the Advisory Council included some very eminent people, people whose names are very well known in matters of penal reform. The view of the Council was unanimous against corporal punishment.
We have been told that some members changed their mind during the sittings of the Council. We have been told that when the Council began its deliberations there were some members who believed that to return to corporal punishment might be beneficial, but that, after having met for several months and considered all the evidence, both oral and written, and being confronted by the facts, they changed their minds so that, by the end of the Council's deliberations, the Report was unanimous.
It is said by some hon. Members opposite that other methods have failed. This is where I criticise the right hon. 100 Gentleman and his Government for the policy that they have pursued during the past few years. It is not true to say that other methods such as detention centres have failed. Until comparatively recently, these other methods, by and large, have not been tried. The Criminal Justice Act, 1948, introduced by my right hon. Friend the Member for South Shields (Mr. Ede), envisaged detention centres and remand centres. This afternoon, the Home Secretary told us proudly that we now have seven detention centres, three of which were opened in the last few months. It surely cannot be argued that detention centres have been tried and have failed when we have had only four of them for more than a very short time. The remand centres which were to be of such great benefit are still not in existence. The first one is only now just being built. It is not true that other methods have been tried and have failed. The Home Office and the Government have not pursued such an energetic line in this matter as we hoped that they would.
We who are against corporal punishment are just as concerned as others are at the increase in crime. Sometimes, when we hear of a particularly dastardly crime, we feel, rather like the writers of some of the letters received by the hon. Member for Ayr, "If only we had those people for five minutes, what would we not do?" but, as the Home Secretary has said, we are here discussing judicial corporal punishment. I need not add anything to what he and my hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham, Ladywood (Mr. V. Yates) said about the infliction of some punishment.
The hon. Member for Ayr said that he had had letters from people who said that they would come forward to inflict corporal punishment. Having heard the hon. Member for Ayr speak on this and other subjects during the Committee stage of the Bill, and knowing what his attitude is, I do not believe that he himself could inflict this punishment that he would call upon others to inflict. I am fairly certain that he could not.
§ Sir T. Moore
My view is that the State must give a lead in this matter, that neither parents nor teachers will fulfil their responsibilities in the matter of punishment if the State is known to 101 frown on judicial corporal punishment. The atmosphere is wrong. That is the view that I and others hold.
§ Miss Bacon
That is an interesting comment, but it is not quite on the point I was making. The State, in this context, is not a nebulous body. Some people will have to do it, and I was saying that I was fairly sure that the hon. Member for Ayr could not be one of them.
The hon. Gentleman and others made great play with public opinion. I admit that there is a great section of the public which, on being asked a question and being desired to give an immediate answer, would say, "Yes, let us reintroduce corporal punishment". Like the hon. Gentleman, I have had many letters—perhaps my "fan mail" has not been as great as his—from people who are angry because I have been against birching. The sentiments contained in some of those letters have horrified me greatly. What is public opinion? Is it going round asking a snap question and getting a snap answer from the man in the street? Or is it the kind of informed public opinion which comes from studying this matter?
The News Chronicle conducted a Gallup poll which, as has been said, showed that a considerable proportion of those who were asked the question said that they were in favour of bringing back the birch. But it is significant that in the issue of the News Chronicle in which the results of this Gallup poll was published the editorial columns deplored the result of the Gallup poll. That same day, 21st March, 1960, the editorial columns of the News Chronicle stated:Today's Gallup poll on corporal and capital punishment is deplorable news.This was followed by editorials in the Guardian and in The Times. They pointed out what a great deal had to be done to put this problem properly before the people of this country. The Guardian said:That Parliament was ahead of opinion in this country could previously be surmised, but majorities of this size are disturbing.The Times said:What the Gallup poll has demonstrated, and in this it has been of significant social service, is the task of education still facing the reformers. Progress may be more rapid now its dimensions have been made so clear.
§ Mr. Norman Pannell (Liverpool, Kirkdale)
I believe that the hon. Lady is reading those letters in The Times which favour her cause.
§ Miss Bacon
I am not reading letters. That would be quite unfair. What I am reading to show the trend of informed public opinion is leaders from The Times and from the Guardian. I am not quoting letters which have appeared in them.
I can comfort the right hon. Gentleman by saying that I was at a conference of women a short time ago, attended by magistrates, councillors and many mothers, which passed this resolution:That this Conference views with great alarm the present tendencies among various sections of the public to press for the return of the birch and other forms of corporal punishment. It congratulates the Home Secretary on his firm stand against this outcry and urges that he and the Government resist any attempt to return to this iniquitous form of punishment".That was a national annual conference of women from all over England, Scotland and Wales.
The increase in juvenile crime cannot be so easily remedied by the reintroduction of the birch. It is something which we have to try to cure along other lines. A recent Report by the Home Office Research Unit, entitled "A Delinquent Generation", showed quite conclusively that children who were aged 4 and 5 during the disturbed war years were the juvenile delinquents of today. The United Nations congress on crime drew attention to the fact that there was much more scope today for young people to get into trouble. It also drew attention to the effect of mass media on crime among young people.
I agree with the right hon. Gentleman when he says that we need more policemen on the beat. If there is one thing that can be proved statistically it is that the one deterrent to crime is the detection rate. When the detection rate is high, crime is low. When the detection rate is low, crime is high. In other words, when people think that they can get away with it, and will not be caught, there is an increase in crime.
103 I wish to quote from an article by a very eminent doctor which appeared in the Lancet on 26th March. He concludes with these words:Legislative reform must have a considerable public opinion behind them. Unhappily, it is also true that general agitation has, on occasions in the past, been the mainspring of retrograde and panic measures. To bring back corporal punishment now, despite all the evidence we have, would be to acknowledge that, in some cases at least, motives of revenge must be given priority. It is inconceivable that this could serve the interests of the country.That I believe to be undoubtedly true.
§ 6.45 p.m.
§ Mr. N. Pannell
I am grateful for having had the opportunity of hearing the views of 'the hon. Lady the Member for Leeds, South-East (Miss Bacon) and of my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary before giving my own. Their speeches showed a great measure of agreement which is very uncommon in our deliberations and debates in the House. I have no desire to flog a dead horse. Many hon. Members may think that this issue is dead as it has been considered by two Committees, one in 1938 and the other recently, which were both unanimously against the reintroduction of corporal punishment. But this issue is not dead. It is very much alive in the country and in my constituency, where there have recently been many cases of assault on innocent old ladies, one of whom was maimed for life.
I am grateful that the opportunity occurs for the views of the people of this country to be expressed on this matter, people who fail to understand the tenderness with which the authorities regard these thugs who inflict pain so thoughtlessly and their indifference for their innocent victims? That is how they look at the matter, and it is a reasonable way to look at it.
I should like to refer briefly to the Cadogan Committee of 1938 and to the conditions in which it sat because it has so often been quoted during the debate and in the proceedings of the Barry Committee. The Cadogan Committee had before it the figures of robbery with violence for the previous sixty years, but even the figures from 1907 to 1935 show that they fell during that period from 139 to 55. The Cadogan Committee, quite reasonably, thought that as the 104 figures were falling so drastically over the years, despite the lesser application of corporal punishment, it was safe to abolish the penalty altogether.
However, the situation changed dramatically, and when the right hon. Member for South Shields (Mr. Ede) introduced the Criminal Justice Bill in 1948 he was faced with very different figures. They are given in the Barry Committee's Report. In regard to crimes known to the police, which differ somewhat from the figures which I have just given—I am dependent on these official sources—namely, Appendix D of this Report of the Barry Committee, we read that in 1938, the year in which the Cadogan Committee sat, the number of crimes known to the police of robbery with assault and intent to rob was 287. When the right hon. Gentleman introduced the Bill in 1948, the figure had risen to 1,101. [An HON. MEMBER: "It is now 1,900."] Admittedly, the figures had risen, despite the continued application of corporal punishment, and I beg leave to quote the comment which the right hon. Gentleman made on that occasion. He said:One must hope that, as the war and all its disturbing influences on the mind of our population recede into the past, we shall get back to something more approaching the normal figures of 1938. While there may be many ways in which we shall never get back to the prewar spirit of circumstances, I hope that that may be one of the ways in which we may be able to do so."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 27th November, 1957; Vol. 444, c. 2133.]It was clearly indicated in the remarks of the right hon. Gentleman on that occasion, and it was the general understanding of the House in giving assent to the Bill, that the figures which had risen so dramatically since 1938 would, as the influences of war receded, revert to the figures of 1938, but, alas, they did not do so. My right hon. Friend the Home Secretary has mentioned that the figures fell after the abolition of corporal punishment, but the right hon. Gentleman opposite expected them to fall to 238. Actually, the lowest point to which they fell was 580.
§ Mr. John Hobson (Warwick and Leamington)
The remarkable fact was that after 1948, the figures for robbery with violence fell, while the figures for other crimes steadily increased.
§ Mr. Pannell
I do not want to draw a red herring across the trail by referring 105 to other matters, and I am dealing with the one crime for which corporal punishment was applicable, and I think it is relevant to do that, as it has been so often quoted against those who are in favour of the reintroduction of corporal punishment. I say that the figures had fallen, but they had not fallen to the level of those of 1938. It was twice the figure in 1953, when it might have been assumed that the effect of the war had receded. The right hon. Gentleman's hopes were not justified. Had there been a continuation of corporal punishment, the figures would have gone down to the 1938 figures, but they were in fact twice that level, and thereafter there was a dramatic increase.
§ Mr. Scholefield Allen (Crewe) rose—
§ Mr. Pannell
I cannot give way until I have finished my argument. In 1959, the figures rose to 1,900, or nearly twice the figure which the right hon. Gentleman mentioned in 1948. Now, we are told that statistics can prove nothing, and that they do not prove that corporal punishment is a deterrent. Surely we are entitled to take these figures, because we have no other basis and no one can judge whether corporal punishment would be a deterrent on someone who has not been before the court. Therefore, we can only judge on the figures of those who have been before the courts, and when we consider the only crime which for practical purposes corporal punishment is applicable we have to face the fact that in the year the Barry Committee sat, that is, in 1938, the figures were half what they were twenty years before. In the thirteen years since corporal punishment was abolished they had nearly doubled, and I think that that is a convincing figure.
§ Mr. Scholefield Allen
Is the hon. Gentleman aware—and I am speaking in the presence of a former Home Secretary who was in office at that time—of the very great change that took place in the classification of crimes of violence at that time? The present Home Secretary will confirm that. The hon. Gentleman is not comparing like with like. Is he also aware that included in the category of crimes of violence are many crimes which he would not recognise as crimes of violence, as, for instance, 106 motor manslaughter, which is a crime of violence?
§ Mr. Pannell
I think the hon. and learned Gentleman has not perhaps studied these figures as closely as I have done. I have not given my own figures but have quoted figures from two Reports, both of which declare against corporal punishment. I cannot do better than quote these sources of reference which influenced those committees in coming to their conclusions.
This Clause is not concerned only with the crime of robbery with violence, for which corporal punishment was applicable. It is concerned with all crimes of violence, and is restricted to those under 21. Although many figures have been quoted to the House today, I am going to beg leave to give a few more.
I have before me figures which I have extracted from the Criminal Statistics, England and Wales, 1959, concerning convictions of males for crimes of violence generally since 1938. I want to draw a contrast between 1938 and 1959 according to age groups. For those under 17, in 1938 there were 110; in 1959, 1,201, or eleven times as many. Of those between the ages of 17 and 21, in 1938 there were 147; in 1959, there were 2,222, or sixteen times as many. When we come to the higher age groups, we find that for those between 21 and 30 the increase was seven and a half times, and for those over 30 three and a half times. Those are the figures, and they show that crimes of violence are far greater among those under 21 than among the higher age groups.
If we go further and take more recent years, making a comparison between 1951 and 1959—less than ten years ago—we find that convictions for crimes of violence of persons under 17 have risen three and a half times and that convictions of those between 17 and 21 have risen five times. That is a dreadful situation. My right hon. Friend, for whom I have the greatest regard and respect, has told us that the measures which he has in mind are likely to deal usefully with that situation. I should very much regret it if my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary were to be put on record as the Home Secretary who presided over the greatest increase in crime which this country has ever 107 known. While I applaud his reforming zeal I doubt its efficacy.
He has spoken of detention centres, but did not tell us what was the effect of the detention centres that have been in existence for several years. We have had four of them working for several years, and if my right hon. Friend were able to tell me what effect they had had on the crime situation I should be more encouraged to think that, when we had thirteen, the situation would steadily improve, but there is no such evidence. All we know is that, despite the tardy introduction of detention centres and despite the fact that we have had four in being for some years, the figures of juvenile crime have steadily risen.
We have been told so many times in this debate today that we are putting the clock back. If the clock is wrong, if it is fast, is it not sensible to put it back? Have this Government and the Conservative Party ever shrunk in the past from putting the clock back? This Government stopped the clock of nationalisation and reversed it in many respects for the country's good. That may have been called putting the clock back, but it was an effective thing to do.
Then we are told that we should fear the criticism of other countries if we were to be the only country which was retaining corporal punishment. But we are pioneers in this case and should not be inhibited by psychiatrists and emotionalists from carrying out a sensible measure which may have the effect of reducing the present terrible wave of crime. I am convinced that if we were to do so and were proved successful we should find many other countries of Europe immediately following our lead.
I and those who support me in the new Clause feel—perhaps not strongly but most earnestly—that something more is needed than the reformative measures which have been put into force over the years and which are still the main plank in my right hon. Friend's platform. What is there so dreadful in corporal punishment? It is not the rack or the thumbscrew. It is a relatively mild punishment, but it has a deterrent effect and is worthy of being tried.
108 The new Clause deals with the young, from the age of 17 to 21. It proposes that corporal punishment should be applied only for the second or subsequent offence. It may remove some of the objections to the Clause that was proposed in Committee, because it will enable the reformative measures advocated by my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary and by many other hon. Members, especially on the opposite side of the House, to be tested. If those measures have been tested and have failed, corporal punishment can be applied. Surely, that is reasonable and logical.
I very much hope that my right hon. Friend will enable the House to have a free vote on this issue. It is a matter that cuts right across party lines. It may be that the feeling on the benches opposite against the reintroduction of corporal punishment is stronger than the feeling on this side. I must, however, say to my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary that I and many of my hon. Friends who support me in the new Clause feel so firmly about it that if it is not accepted by the Government, we intend to take it to a Division and to vote in its favour.
§ Mr. Scholefield Allen
If, on this question, there was to have been a purely party vote I would not have dared to intervene at this stage; but there is not to be a party vote, at least on this side of the House. I cannot help feeling that some hon. Members have still to be persuaded that it would be wrong to pass the Clause. We have had an emotional approach which is not based upon the facts. The facts are contained in a Departmental Committee Report of 1938 and in the recent Report of the Advisory Council on the Treatment of Offienders.
I intervene principally because I have been concerned with crime and juvenile delinquency for nearly forty years and because, for the last fourteen years, I have had the privilege—sometimes, I would almost say, the terror—of dealing with criminals awaiting sentence. Never once in my experience at quarter sessions have I found the lack of the power to order corporal punishment, although—and I ask those who stand for corporal punishment to believe me—I have found very many other defects in our penal system which required remedying.
109 We have had the gap of detention centres, which have not been available. Many of the ways in which we could deal with the wave of juvenile crime have not been available either to magistrates or to the higher courts. Now, these various methods are coming into operation. The Bill deals with young offenders. It is another method of trying the scientific and proper approach to deal with the crime wave.
I wonder whether the kindly hon. Member for Ayr (Sir T. Moore) has ever sat in a court and seen young people charged with a crime and pleading guilty. A great number of them are mentally defective. Who suggests flogging people of that kind? Many of them have grave physical defects. Most of them come from divided homes, or no homes, or homes that are not fit to live in. There comes before one in the courts a number of poor, pathetic young men—very rarely young women—who have not had the chance in life which many of us have had. One approaches this matter with great humility when life is in one's hands.
I believe, not for emotional reasons, but on the evidence that is available, that flogging and causing these people physical pain is unlikely to redeem them from a life of crime. There are other and more effective methods. Certainly, if corporal punishment were the only available deterrent, I should vote for the Clause, but we have many methods of dealing with juvenile delinquency and we ought to use those before we revert to the method which has been abolished in this country and which does not exist on the Continent of Europe in any country that I know.
Until recently, I was a Representative at the Council of Europe and served on its Legal Committee and on a Committee which was set up to consider juvenile delinquency. We have discussed this matter not merely for hours, but for days. I have visited Vaucresson, near Paris, where, for four years, statistics have been piling up as a result of an investigation into causes of juvenile delinquency and crime. It is a marvellous institution and is doing great work. This country has nothing to compare with it.
That is what we lack. Not until recently have we had a chair of criminology or penology. Our statistics are 110 lamentably poor. As my right hon. Friend the Member for South Shields (Mr. Ede), a former Home Secretary, said, the classification of our statistics constantly changes. We have no real classification. The result is that crimes of all kinds of violence, from slight acts of violence to the person, like striking a man across the face, to a motor cyclist or motorist ploughing a man or woman down on the road, or the savage actions of the thugs of which we have heard from the hon. Member for Ayr, are lumped together.
One thing that the Home Office ought to do—and which, I believe, it is now starting to do—is to undertake research into the statistics and to get the right classifications, so that when we quote them, unlike the hon. Member for Kidderminster (Mr. Nabarro), we know what they mean, what they represent and what they classify. The statistics that the hon. Member quoted do not sustain the lesson that he wants to press home. I assure the hon. Member that the statistics are utterly unreliable.
The statistics are classified in different ways in different towns. Chief constables classify them differently. I get the statistics from the borough of which I happen to 'the recorder and when I compare them with those of other boroughs they do not make comparison. We should have a scientific classification and scientific statistics. Then, we would be able to argue them. France and the United States have much more scientific statistics available, but this country has not got down to the scientific probing of either crime in general or juvenile delinquency in particular.
I ask those who still have an open mind to remember that perhaps those who know more about juvenile delinquency are not the judges, the recorders or the magistrates, but the probation officers. The vast majority of probation officers, over 90 per cent. of them, are against the reintroduction of corporal punishment, and that is because they are in contact with these people.
The new Clause suggests that these young people should be birched at second conviction. Many times in my experience, when I have had a boy to sentence, who has already been under the probation officer and failed to satisfy him, the probation officer has said, "I 111 believe that there is good in this man. If you will let me have him again I will make another and more determined effort." I am quite sure that, many a time, if I had ordered a flogging, the boy would never have been redeemed.
I remember that in my early days in the City of Liverpool it was a well-known fact that many a juvenile birched by order of the magistrate would go out proudly, stick his fingers in his armpits and say, "Come down the jigger"—that is what they called it—"and I will show you what they have done to me." They were young heroes. They were a type of exhibitionist. We have many of them. I suppose that most Members of Parliament are, to some extent exhibitionists, or they would not be here. However, these young fellows like this kind of thing; they enjoy it; they put up with the pain in order to be young bravadoes.
But there are also many of the other type, physically or mentally defective, or who come from homes which are not homes, from divided homes, and these are the people who, by flogging, would be driven perhaps not only into permanent crime, but into permanent suffering, whose whole constitution would be undermined by it, perhaps to turn their brains. That is the kind of thing which happens when young people feel they have been unjustly treated by society.
I appeal to any hon. Gentleman who really cares about juvenile delinquency not to give way to this clamour for the reintroduction of a method which we abolished in 1948, and which no other country in Europe needs. I can support my hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham, Ladywood (Mr. V. Yates) in saying that we find, when we meet the Representatives at the Council of Europe of other countries, that they really do not understand why we believe that we can flog a man into decency. I am not talking about Russia, but about Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Germany, France and Italy. They believe—and I believe that there is a great deal of evidence to support them—that we flog a man into continued thuggery and delinquency. I believe that if we flog in an attempt to reform these people the exhibitionists will become permanent criminals, and a large number of the others will become permanent invalids.
112 Our salvation lies—and I stress this whenever I get an opportunity—in better and fully manned police forces, such as we have not had in the City of Blackburn since I have been there, and which very few boroughs in the country have. I do not know whether the Attorney-General can tell us how many police forces are undermanned, but I believe that most of them are to the extent of about 10 per cent. If we could get the necessary additional policemen to make crime detection more certain, that would help solve one part of the problem. I am quite sure that if we had a well-trained and highly paid probation force, that would solve another part of it. It costs a great deal of money to keep one of these young people in a detention centre or in prison. The probation service is cheap at the price, and it is the way of redemption for our young offenders.
I therefore appeal to hon. Gentlemen opposite not to vote on party lines, and to all who are really concerned about the elimination of juvenile delinquency to do ail that they can to see that we have a first-rate probation service and fully manned and fully trained police forces.
§ 7.15 p.m.
§ Mr. Hirst
The hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Crewe (Mr. Scholefield Allen) did not do much justice even to his own argument by drawing that very substantial red herring right across the track. No one who thinks that this may be a deterrent has for one minute suggested that the subnormal child is to be beaten. That suggestion is not in the Clause and no one has said that it should be. Incidentally, for that matter, such a child would be hardly suitable to send to a detention centre.
What we are suggesting—and hon. Members must get it quite clear—is that magistrates, the courts, should be given the power to impose sentences of corporal punishment. I understand that the hon. Gentleman is a recorder. I am sorry that I do not know of what town. [HON. MEMBERS: "Blackburn."] I take it that he would have enough regard and respect for those who administer the law, as, indeed, I have, to believe that they would use this power with discretion. That is all we are asking. All we are asking is that they should be given this power.
113 I must join with my hon. Friend the Member for Liverpool, Kirkdale (Mr. N. Pannell) in his remark that there should be a free vote on this occasion. I really must protest to my right hon. Friend on this matter When I remember that there were certain other matters, about which there were certain feelings of conscience on which a free vote was allowed, I say, that this is a matter on which a free vote should be allowed, and I deprecate very much that there is apparently not to be one. As usual when I feel conviction, the denial of a free vote will not make the slightest bit of difference to me. I shall vote against the Government on this occasion, just the same.
I refer to my right hon. Friend's speech. I am very sorry he is not in his place at the moment. He has been very attentive to the debate, and I do not grudge him a minute or two away; but I am sorry that he is not here, because I must say some rather unpleasant things about him.
First, my right hon. Friend referred to the report of the Advisory Council on the Treatment of Offenders. I have it here, I have read it, and that of the Cadogan Committee, most carefully. I know what the general public thinks. I know what a very large number of my constituents think; and it is rather difficult not to feel that the meeting was not a packed meeting. That is the opinion many people have. I feel that it is a great pity that it was not far more representative than, clearly, it was. A great deal of the Report carries, to my mind, astonishingly little weight. That is as much as I have to say about that Report.
The second thing that my right hon. Friend said was that we cannot put the clock back. I am not suggesting we put the clock back. We are dealing with a different question and with different elements which were born of the so-called criminal class of which Dickens wrote in his wonderful books. We are dealing with different elements today. They are very substantially relatively young men with quite substantial material means, and many of them are just nasty, dirty little cowards.
My right hon. Friend talked about putting the clock back, but my right hon. Friend should have closer contact with the country on this matter. His contact with the country is deplorably out. It is 114 not we who are putting the clock back. He should take some trouble to know what the feeling of the country is, and he should have much greater regard for it than he has in persisting to refuse to recognise and have regard for the conviction of public opinion in this matter. It is he who is putting the clock back, not we.
My right hon. Friend knows exactly how I feel about this, because I have written him letters and sent him articles which I have contributed to the newspapers.
§ Mr. Hirst
I am sorry to be attacking my right hon. Friend when he is out of the Chamber, but he already knows exactly how I feel about this, and he knows, too, that I should have the courage to say the same things about him if he were present. It is he and the Government who are putting the clock back. I have not heard for a long time a more ridiculous statement than his, or one which is so damaging to the general views sincerely held by the greater proportion of the people, and certainly by the enormous majority of the Conservative Party of which, on paper at least, he is a leader.
My right hon. Friend referred to a "variety of schemes". A variety of schemes, heaven help us—57 of them. I have no doubt, like the Heinz varieties. All of them have proved futile and completely ineffective in the end. Now we are to have a whole mass more of these variety of schemes. Some of them are the same old tricks performed with the same dirty old cards, chipped, torn and dilapidated; and a few with cards borrowed from another pack.
Take detention centres. We have had them already. My hon. Friend has pointed out how ineffective they have been. We are to have another dozen. It would be much better were the money spent on the provision of more hospitals rather than detention centres, for what good will they do, unless they are carried out under the type of régime referred to by my hon. Friend the Member for Kidderminster (Mr. Nabarro)? He was definite that these detention centres will not work unless they are grim places—
§ Mr. Hirst
I will when I have finished my sentence—teaching a grim lesson. We should not water them down, as many of our prisons have been watered down. Sometimes, if one cannot obtain a ticket for a performance, the only place to hear the Amadeus Quartet is in Armley Gaol.
Is not it about time we thought of adopting the tactics to which my hon. Friends have referred, and which have been so wrongly taken up by hon. Members opposite? There are other people to consider as well as the poor, darling sinners. Of course, let us try to help them, but we have also a duty to other people—to the mass of the people. There are hundreds of thousands of people who would sleep happier in their beds if they thought that there was to be a trial period of punishment for this new type of crime, to see whether such punishment works or not. Do not let us look backward; let us look forward to a period five years ahead, and wait to see what the position is like then. If, at that time, I am proved wrong, I shall be prepared to eat my words, but at the moment I do not think that I am wrong.
There is, moreover, such a thing as anxiety neurosis, a very nasty thing from which to suffer. None of us would be truly representing our constituents if we did not have that sort of thing in mind. We know perfectly well that it nags at the lives of many people. Were this additional deterrent provided, I think that that danger would be enormously reduced and let me tell everyone the sum of that in human happiness would be enormous. It would outweigh any conceivable measure of failure, if there were any failure, in the policy which I have in mind.
§ Mr. Scholefield Allen
The hon. Member has been criticising detention centres. May I ask whether he has ever taken the opportunity to visit one?
§ Mr. Scholefield Allen
The Home Office will arrange for any Member of 116 Parliament to visit any detention centre or any prison, and has done so. I am merely asking the hon. Member, who has severely criticised these centres, whether he has ever asked to visit one, or visited a detention centre?
§ Mr. Hirst
The answer is "No". It has nothing to do with the question. Moreover, let me tell hon. Members that I have not the slightest intention of doing so. I am not going to waste my time in that manner. I am arguing that detention centres are proved ineffective and that I do not believe that additional detention centres would prove any more effective. If they are proved to be more effective than the present centres, I shall be extremely interested and I shall want to know why they have suddenly become effective, when, hitherto, detention centres have been completely inefficient.
§ Mr. Hirst
I have referred to certain feelings in the country. I wish to quote from the Telegraph and Argus, which circulates widely in West Yorkshire. On 25th March it reported, in very large headlines which I think, Mr. Speaker, you can see from where you are sitting:Tip-Off Led to Gang Round-Up. Following a 'tip-off' Bradford Police went last night to Manningham Lane where, the City Court was told today, they found a gang of 30 to 35 youths who, apparently, intended going to Shipley"—which, as everybody knows, is my constituency.Pedestrians were jostled into the roadway and manhandled. Ultimately, some of the youths were arrested and when 13 appeared in Court studded belts, a metal cosh, a pepper pot and nails made into a knuckle-duster were shown to the Bench.On the same day an editorial appeared in this newspaper, which has not previously been in favour of the arguments 117 which I have supported for a long time. The editorial commenced:Many will regret, as did the magistrates' chairman Mr. Gilbert Holdsworth, that the Court could not order the birching of the hooligans who ganged up in Manningham Lane …The editorial concluded:But while Mr. Butler does not think that the solution to this problem lies in harsher penalties or purely repressive measures which do not lead to reform' many people would like the penalties to be given at least a trial.Normally, the editor is against my views, but he has realised what I and my hon. Friends have realised for long enough. We now have quite a different element of crime from the type of crime committed in the years before the war. Any comparison with what happened before the war is absolute nonsense. I am asking that that should be the basis of thinking and not this miserable Advisory Council's Report. I am shocked that my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary should so lower the standard which he represents as to fall back on such dishwash for his arguments.
§ Miss Bacon
The hon. Gentleman has quoted a Yorkshire newspaper. Will he quote the editorials in the Conservative Yorkshire Post over the last few months?
§ Mr. Abse
I do not wish to follow the vituperative attack made on the Home Secretary by the hon. Member for Shipley (Mr. Hirst) because I believe his speech is so weighted with prejudice that it will not commend itself to the House at all. I should like to take what may appear to be a somewhat eccentric view but one which I have formed from such clinical experience as I have had in the last ten years of almost daily dealings with criminals.
I suggest we must always be careful that in holding out a punishment to a criminal we are not attracting the criminal to the crime rather than deterring him. In the early days of my professional life it was most bewildering for me to observe that if one succeeded in obtaining an acquittal for a man who had a long record, one was never thanked for it. On the other hand, if a man were convicted and imprisoned, time and 118 again one found that he would write a letter of thanks. I have frequently noticed—I have discussed this with many others who perform the same rôle as myself—that when a criminal is convicted and sentenced he will thank the judge. He will stand erect in the dock and express thanks for what is often a long term of imprisonment. But if the same man finds himself acquitted, he will adopt an almost sullen and resentful attitude towards those who successfully defended him.
This curious attitude is one which I have often found, for example, among murderers. Only on one occasion did I find among the murderers I have known a murderer who did not want to be hanged. This may sound extravagant, but, as we all know, 40 per cent. of those who commit murder commit suicide before they are caught. Of those who are charged, a high percentage endeavour to die by attempting suicide. It must be understood that a certain form of punishment—in my view any form of flogging—has a singular attraction for certain elements. It must be understood that we are not dealing with normal people. Normal people would not go on committing crimes or want to spend most of their life in prison. So it is no use applying to them the criteria which we would apply to ourselves.
What happens among a high percentage of criminals, from my own experience, is that they are loaded with neurotic guilt and commit crimes in order to be punished, and if one endeavours to attract them in some forms one is more likely to raise the level of crime than to diminish it. Bluntly, it is my view that hon. Members who are urging a Clause of this character are inciting crime rather than attacking it.
If one thinks this view eccentric, think of what often happens. Every policeman will say that there are a large number of people who when they have committed an offence will immediately go to the police and confess it. There are a large number of criminals who will leave an obvious clue behind in the way of a letter or something else which will clearly reveal their identity, because they are courting disaster and because they are people who are, unfortunately, 119 mentally ill in this way and loaded with neurotic guilt. It becomes inevitable that we must be careful not to attract them by giving them the punishment they are seeking.
Just as there are criminals who kill in the hope that they may be hanged, so a large number of criminals will commit petty offences so that they may receive punishment, as a result of some vague sense of guilt induced by their early infantile experience.
§ Mr. Abse
It is the argument of those who believe that by punishing one does not conquer crime and who rather believe that one must use other methods. However, I say that there is a particular danger in the case of hanging or flogging because of this curious attraction these punishments have for some groups.
Clearly, it is not enough merely to say this. Every one of us must face the fact that we axe confronted with an increase in the incidence of crime and must wish to make a contribution so that we can diminish it in some way. I believe it is unfortunate that so much emphasis has been placed upon the detention centre, because I believe that the Home Secretary may well find himself in great difficulties. In the long run the detention centre may fail, and as a consequence we may be urged to try this desperate remedy which has been urged upon us, which I believe is bound to be a failure.
Under the Bill, unfortunately, the aims of the detention centre as it was originally conceived are to be glossed over. As originally conceived, it was a preventive centre. It was intended only for a particular type of lad who was in difficulty. It was intended for those who could be pulled up quickly, those who had not as yet so deteriorated that it was unlikely that, to use a term employed at the time, a short, sharp shock could not bring them back to a better sense of morality. Unfortunately, under the Bill those are not the only people who are now to go into the detention centres. Those who would otherwise be sentenced to six months' imprisonment are now likely to go into a detention centre.
120 Under the Bill it will be possible to recall people who have been let out of a detention centre if they failed. It will be possible, further, to place inside a detention centre people who have failed to pay a fine. Whereas at the beginning there was a definite idea behind the detention centre in that it was intended for a certain group of people, those who had not so deteriorated as to be irreclaimable by a short sojourn inside a centre, now it is thrown wide open.
I regret very much the implication of what the Home Secretary is saying, that the detention centre is a panacea, because I do not believe it. I do not believe—and I have visited detention centres—that this idea of a brisk régime will really get at those who are not merely committing a peccadillo or are being convicted for one particular offence, but those who are the real problem that we have to face—those whose criminal tendencies are deep-rooted. So I should like to warn the Home Secretary that in his endeavour to contain what I regard as the irrational prejudice in demands like the Clause by the placing of excessive reliance on the detention centre he may as the years go on find himself in increasing difficulties.
§ Mr. van Straubenzee
Like the hon. Member, I have taken advantage of the opportunity to visit a detention centre. But will there always be room to deal with the very class of person that he has outlined; that is to say, not those who are deep-rooted criminals but those who are much more on the fringe? Is it not precisely for them that the detention centre is so effective?
§ Mr. Abse
I do not think that the throwing open of the detention centre to all was the original idea. One has only to refer to Dr. Grunhut one of the main exponents of this type of centre and who has done so much to point out the advantages of it. In my view, it was conceived for a different type of person. I believe that the existing detention centres, which are now being rapidly increased, will be disrupted. We shall be bringing back into the detention centres people who are in some cases already institutionalised and will disrupt the whole atmosphere. If it attempts to cater for what it cannot cater for, I believe the detention centre will be a failure.
121 The question of what suggestion one has to make must then arise. If I believe, as I do, that the roots of crime must be explored, it is natural that I look, as I have indicated when discussing a further Clause, with profound concern at the fact that such a large number of approved schools are lacking in psychiatric advice or psychiatric guidance. I know—I have seen it in this House—that there are a large number of people who try to devalue any psychiatric attempts whatsoever. We should at least give them a trial. It is a popular notion that the opportunities are being given. It is a popular notion that we have such a reforming Home Secretary that great reforms are being achieved. But I cannot accept that point of view when I know that twenty-one out of thirty-three girls' approved schools have no psychiatrists visiting them.
§ Mr. Speaker
The hon. Gentleman may not have been out of order on the last occasion when he stated these facts, but I must ask him in this case to address his observations to the matter of introducing corporal punishment for young offenders.
§ Mr. Abse
I am moving generally, Mr. Speaker, because everybody else has moved very far indeed and has dealt with so many other problems under the umbrella that we were having a general discussion about penal reform. However, I will narrow my argument in accordance with your direction.
I do not think it is an extravagant view to suggest that, since we know that crime starts so early and since we know that violent crimes are committed by men who usually have a long record of violence it would be worth while our examining suggestions such as that made by Dr. Glover, that there should be a screening of the child population. One can attempt to whip people into behaving well or attempt to find those who exhibit some symptom of pre-delinquent behaviour. As every child has a medical examination statutorily three times during his school career and as vocational tests are made for a large number of our children, surely it would not be ridiculous to suggest that we integrated into our school medical service a properly equipped psychiatric service with a sufficient number of psychiatrists. We already have a medical service. Let it have psychiatrists and psychologists, 122 people, in fact, with the clinical training. Then we might be able to prevent the murder and the violence which the whole House abhors.
This would be an expensive and difficult task, but we shall not counter crime merely by being angry, nor by saying, with great indignation, that these people should be whipped. I realise, Mr. Speaker, that you are being indulgent in allowing me to expand this suggestion. I am urging that we should at least consider the possibilities of tackling this problem by going to the roots of crime.
We get these demands for whipping and flogging, because the Home Office has categorically said in its White Paper that it does not believe that its rôle is to examine the roots of crime or, as it called them,… the deep-seated causes of crime.The sensible way is to take advantage of the vast amount of psycho-analytical knowledge which is at our disposal, but is practically untouched—though used in many other countries.
Despite our natural resistance to this type of thing, we should at least try it, otherwise the Home Secretary will for ever be faced with demands, such as this Clause, simply because the other methods which he is using are merely expedients for detaining people, and then letting them out with the same, deep-seated social misbehaviour as they had when they were originally detained.
§ The Attorney-General (Sir Reginald Manningham-Buller)
We have been debating this matter for more than an hour since my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary announced the Government's views. I agree that it is a very important matter, but I ask my hon. Friends to consider whether we should not proceed soon to a conclusion. I do not intend to repeat the arguments put forward by my right hon. Friend or to repeat his views, and a repetition of the views in favour of corporal punishment perhaps does not serve a very useful purpose. The views on both sides have been very fully and very frankly expressed.
I have listened to many debates about corporal punishment, going back to 1948, and I think that this has been one of the best of the lot. At the same time, I must say that I cannot conceive of any new argument that can be brought forward in favour of the proposal contained in 123 this Clause. I therefore ask my hon. Friends to consider whether we should not proceed to a conclusion, bearing in mind that both sides of the House, on Second Reading, supported this Bill and that we want to make some progress with the Report stage.
§ The Attorney-General
I will deal with that in a moment. I think that my hon. Friend well knows the position about that.
I speak in a different capacity from that in which I spoke in 1948. As the right hon. Member for South Shields (Mr. Ede) will remember, when he introduced his proposals for the abolition of flogging and birching I spoke in favour of retaining birching.
§ 7.45 p.m.
§ The Attorney-General
The main reason I did so was because I hoped that the imposition of that kind of sentence in those days would remove the necessity of sending to prison, with its possible contamination. I spoke, with the same sincerity with which I am sure my hon. Friends have spoken today, in favour of corporal punishment.
Now, I say frankly that I am absolutely convinced that it would be wrong to attempt to reintroduce it in any shape or form. We have been asked to try it out, to see how it will work. But we have had experience of how it has worked. It is not something new. We have had experience, and we know from the figures, from our knowledge in the courts, how little use was made of the power when the courts possessed it—how infrequently, how rarely, it was used. There is, I know, a very widespread and general feeling of concern among all sections of the population and among all parties about the present crime wave. It is that feeling of concern and apprehension which, I have no doubt, has led many people sincerely to the conclusion that the right step to take is to reintroduce corporal punishment. But that conclusion does not follow from the premise.
I am sure—and I know that my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary agrees 124 with me—that the most important step we can take in dealing with the crime wave is to reduce the number of those who commit these terrible crimes and avoid detection and apprehension. The best and most effective step in dealing with the crime wave is the one to which he referred, namely, that of getting more police, more policemen on the beat, and improving police methods of detection.
I wonder whether, if this Clause were carried, we should find the courts making any more use of this power than they did immediately before it was abolished. I ask my hon. Friends who take a different view from the one which I now take-taking the same view which I took in 1948—to consider this: it is all very well to say that we should give the courts power to impose a sentence of corporal punishment. Their chief argument in favour of it is its deterrent effect. But the deterrent effect of giving the courts power to impose corporal punishment would not last very long when it was realised that they were not imposing it. That is why I say, in all sincerity, that I do not believe—
§ The Attorney-General
I do not suppose for one moment that my hon. Friend the Member for Shipley (Mr. Hirst) will agree with me.
§ The Attorney-General
I hold my view as sincerely as he holds his, and I ask for as much consideration for my argument as I have given for the arguments advanced by my hon. Friends. It is not enough, even from their point of view, to say that the courts should be given back the power to inflict corporal punishment unless we could make sure that the courts would use that power. I do not believe that the courts would use it any more than they used it in the years immediately before it was abolished, particularly when we are stressing in this Bill the need for the courts to have reports from probation officers and others about the proper method of treatment of offenders.
I do not believe that this power would be used, and in those circumstances the deterrent effect would be gone completely. I do not believe that this suggestion is the answer. Nor has any 125 answer been found to the problem of the delay that must occur before the infliction of judicial corporal punishment.
I have, perhaps, spoken more strongly than I had intended when I rose, and I shall not go on because the arguments have been put completely on both sides. We have a great deal of business to do on this Bill, which everyone wants because it will make great improvements and will strengthen the hand of my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary in dealing with the present crime situation. For that reason, I ask my hon. Friends whether we could not now proceed to a conclusion.
My hon. Friend the Member for Liverpool, Kirkdale (Mr. N. Pannell) knows from what my right hon. Friend said that it is a Government decision not to accept this Clause. That being so, I do not think that he can reasonably expect there to be a free vote on this issue.
§ Mr. Ede
The hon. Member for Liverpool, Kirkdale (Mr. N. Pannell) quoted what I said in 1947 when I introduced the Bill which ultimately became the Criminal Justice Act, 1948. I hope that he feels as disappointed as I do that the course of public conduct did not follow the lines which most people then expected it to follow. I admit that I am greatly disappointed.
The crime wave has been constantly mentioned, but waves have undulations and there do not appear to have been many undulations in the crime trend in post-war years. Most people hoped that there would be variations and a final downward trend, but that has not been the case. However, that has not been confined to this country, and every civilised country—or every country which claims to be civilised, which may be a rather larger number—has had the same problems.
I welcome what the Home Secretary said. Most of us must realise from our knowledge of the inescapable facts that we are dealing with a very serious situation and I welcome the right hon. Gentleman's promise that the other measures embodied in the Bill will be actively put into operation with as much speed as the supply of men and materials will permit.
I hope that the right hon. Gentleman will feel that hon. Members opposite, who have spoken with some vehemence 126 this afternoon, are undoubtedly speaking for a vast mass of uninstructed opinion outside the House—I put it like that deliberately—but let us realise that uninstructed opinion, if voiced long enough and vehemently enough, can become the determining factor in matters of this kind.
The Bill, which only carries on the counter measures proposed in the 1948 Act, without going very much beyond them, will be effective if the right hon. Gentleman implements his pledge this afternoon. What would have been the good in 1948 of proposing to close Dartmoor and two or three other prisons and building others in their place when the demand for men and materials was for other purposes and other buildings?
The right hon. Gentleman has an opportunity, if he will avail himself of it, to carry out his pledge and to deal with this matter on lines which will leave no sense of shame on our civilisation. I should be profoundly disappointed if we were driven by the continuance of the present conduct of a limited and small section of our population to bring back punishments which made no appeal to reform but which relied on vengeance and on a sense of punishment with no hope of reform. I sincerely hope that the right hon. Gentleman will be successful.
§ Lieut.-Commander S.L.C. Maydon (Wells)
The right hon. Member for South Shields (Mr. Ede) has spoken of uninstructed opinion. If by that he means open minds unsullied by untried and uncertain theories, then give me uninstructed opinion every day of the week. We are being asked to accept a great many theories which have not been fully tried and some of which have been going for only four years and some for even less. If we are to be asked against our will to accept such theories, we should have some evidence beforehand of their success, and nothing said today has convinced me that there is any such evidence.
§ Lieut-Commander Maydon
The hon. and learned Member for Northampton (Mr. Paget) is talking of the days of the cat-o'-nine-tails and keel-hauling, both of which punishments have very properly been dispensed with today. But when I left the Navy methods of corporal punishment were in force which were effective, and the hon. and learned Gentleman knows that as well as I do. I believe that those methods still exist.
§ Lieut-Commander Maydon
Caning of boys, as the hon. and learned Gentleman well knows. Perhaps he has never heard of it. It did exist, but I am not certain that it still does.
Much can be argued from statistics. Those who oppose the Clause like to have it both ways. They say that there was corporal punishment before 1948, but that it was ineffective, and they then produce statistics related solely to robbery with violence. When we produce full statistics for all sorts of crimes of violence, they say that corporal punishment applied only to robbery with violence. They cannot have it both ways.
Today it has been argued that with more certain methods of detection all will be well. Nobody would applaud that more than I in the measures taken to increase our police forces and to improve their conditions; but, if detection is to be effective and form an effective deterrent, as a last resort the courts must have power to impose effective sentences. Those who read the daily newspapers, or even the so-called comic papers, know as well as I do that for many years one of the principle butts of the caricaturists has been the juvenile courts. That is a deplorable state of affairs, but if by their own actions the juvenile courts had not put themselves in that perspective in public opinion, the caricatures would not have been drawn and people who read magazines and papers of that sort would not have seen them.
§ Mr. MacColl
The hon. and gallant Member has made a very wide and sweeping and rather slanderous statement about the workings of our courts. Will he specify in what precise way juvenile courts have deserved to become features of comic strips?
§ Lieut-Commander Maydon
The only way to support such a contention is to produce a definite case, which I am not prepared to do, but there is a contention that juvenile courts are far too lenient with young offenders who have committed serious offences. Those who study the results of these courts will agree that that is borne out every day.
§ 8.0 p.m.
§ Mr. MacColl
The hon. and gallant Gentleman says that he is not prepared to produce cases. He has made a categorical statement about justices of the peace who are appointed by the Lord Chancellor to carry out the exercise of justice in this country, as much as judges are. If an hon. Member makes slighting remarks about judges in the House, he is pulled up. It is wrong for the hon. and gallant Gentleman to make gratuitous criticisms about people who are doing unpaid work in the administration of justice—I declare my interest because I am one of them—without any tittle of evidence, or cases or examples of any sort. He should not lend himself to this kind of vulgar sneer. It is unworthy of an hon. Member.
§ Lieut-Commander Maydon
The hon. Gentleman said that there is no evidence, and, as I have said, I am not prepared to produce any at the moment, but he knows that it is commonly said in the country that there are many cases of young thugs being let off by these courts. He knows that as well as I do. I appreciate his position as one of the magistrates and his trying to defend his fellows and himself in this respect—that is only natural—but he knows that there is this perfectly honest, well-founded and commonly held accusation against the courts. We have the right of free speech. We can criticise our judges or our magistrates if we think that they have not fulfilled their purposes properly.
§ Mr. R. Gresham Cooke (Twickenham)
During our discussions in the Standing Committee the hon. Member for Ayr (Sir T. Moore) quoted a case from Worthing in which a young thug had knocked over and attacked no less than six girls and women in the course of the last few weeks before he was had up. He was put on probation by the magistrates.
§ Dame Irene Ward
There are many magistrates who feel that part of the system of juvenile courts needs reform.
§ Mr. MacColl rose—
§ Lieut.-Commander Maydon
The hon. Gentleman has had a fair say, and I do not think that it would be proper to give way to him further.
There is one new aspect. My right hon. and learned Friend the Attorney-General said that all the arguments had been exhausted. I have sat through the debate from the beginning, and there is one aspect which has not been touched on. Only this morning I read in my newspaper of a cinema which was now apparently employing an ex-Royal Marine commando, who was also alleged to be a judo expert, to protect the cinema. That is one instance, and there are others which do not immediately come to my mind, but there are no doubt cases where people are beginning to take this matter into their own hands, and if that is happening it is a dangerous state of affairs.
One has only to discuss these matters in one's constituency, in the pubs or in the clubs, and people come up and say: "By Jove! If only I could get my hands on the young so-and-so's". If public opinion is getting to that state it is dangerous, and I think that the Government should take account of it and take measures to prevent people from taking these matters into their own hands.
That is the point I particularly wanted to make, because it is a new one which has not previously been mentioned. It is an important point which, together with the many others put forward during the debate, leads me to support the new Clause. I hope that many hon. Members on both sides will go into the Division Lobby to support the new Clause.
§ Dame Irene Ward
As a magistrate I listened with great respect and interest to what my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary said about the new Clause, which I intend to support in the Division Lobby. I was disappointed in the approach of my right hon. Friend, because he discussed the new Clause as if it were being put forward as an alternative to all the other provisions in the Criminal Justice Bill.
130 I did not serve on the Standing Committee and, therefore, did not hear all the arguments put forward, but I do not for a moment think that it is the intention of those who support the Clause to put it forward as an alternative. I listened very carefully to my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary and he did not put forward any argument to suggest why this general power—which after all is all that we are asking for—should not also be included in the Bill to add to the other provisions included in it.
That was regrettable, because it is of tremendous importance for magistrates and for the courts to have as wide a variety of powers as possible to try to deal with the cases which come before them as humanely, as reasonably and as much in the general interest of the public as possible.
When my right hon. and learned Friend the Attorney-General intervened in the debate I listened carefully to what he said. I am rather tired of statistics. I take a much more realistic view of the duties of magistrates and what we ought to do to try to reduce juvenile crime, and, indeed, crime of all kinds. I was astounded to hear him announce that if this general power were given to the courts and the magistrates they would make no use of it. On what basis can he put forward an argument of that kind?
I think that opinion in the country has altered considerably since the days when magistrates ceased to make use of the powers they had. I do not mind saying in very certain terms that we should not have had such an enormous body of public opinion on our side for the reintroduction of corporal punishment if the country did not feel that Parliament—and I say Parliament advisedly, which means both sides of the House—had not "gone soft" on the treatment of young thugs and young offenders.
It is not wise to argue about the results of Gallup polls of one kind or another. The public does not know all the arguments for and against, nor does it know the limited powers of magistrates. If it did, it would certainly support wider powers being given to magistrates.
People who want a peaceful, well-conducted country with a vast reduction in juvenile crime feel that Parliament, and perhaps magistrates, are failing to 131 give them what they want and demand that the courts should have the widest possible powers and that we should be firm, resolute and strong.
One or two hon. Members have used arguments which I think are very right in support of this Clause. My hon. Friend the Member for Shipley (Mr. Hirst) asked about the effect of the detention centres. I think it is true to say that my right hon. Friend did not give any evidence to show why he felt that the increase in the number of detention centres would be the answer to this problem. If my right hon. Friend wants to know a little of what I feel in my heart I will tell him, speaking as a magistrate—though not, I am afraid, able to act as a magistrate very often because of my attendance in Parliament—that there are things to which we as magistrates would be very glad to see him give attention.
§ Mr. A. E. Hunter (Feltham)
What evidence has the hon. Lady that the cat-o'-nine-tails or birching would prevent juvenile crime?
§ Dame Irene Ward
I am not talking about the cat-o'-nine-tails. I have no intention of talking about the cat-o'-nine-tails and neither am I asking for its reintroduction. I am merely asking for some general powers to be given to magistrates.
I agree very much with what was said about subnormal people who come before the bench. That is a very difficult problem. There is a great deal more which could be done by the Government to try to deal with this aspect of a difficult situation, but that does not detract from my view that when a young offender coming before the bench shows all the signs of being vitally alive but just out of tune with life, magistrates should have the power to order the birch if they feel so inclined.
I am proud, as everyone is, of our summary courts of jurisdiction. I am very proud of the part which magistrates play. I do not think my right hon. Friend did very much in his speech to support magistrates who administer justice through the summary courts of jurisdiction. Why should he assume that magistrates—who are appointed because they have something, I hope, to offer to 132 the administration of justice—if they were given this general power, would use it unwisely?
I repeat that if my right hon. Friend wants a few suggestions about what would help magistrates—which I do not find in the Bill—I can give him a very wide variety. We are still waiting for a reconsideration of the fines we are able to impose on those who come before courts of summary jurisdiction. It has taken years to get a reassessment under modern conditions. The Home Office works far too slowly in this matter. If my right hon. Friend thinks that detention centres are the answer, he should have got on with them more quickly.
§ Mr. R. A. Butler
I got on with them as soon as I assumed office. I could not move more quickly than that.
§ Dame Irene Ward
I am not blaming my right hon. Friend purposely, but he was also a member of Her Majesty's Government at the time when he was Chancellor of the Exchequer. I do not want to be too unkind, but I wonder whether when his predecessor brought up the question of detention centres he, as Chancellor of the Exchequer, was as enthusiastic about them as he is today. Does he want to answer that?
I do not want to be too unkind, but when my right hon. Friend speaks about the policeman on the beat I am bound to say to him, what a battle we have had. Perhaps he was involved in that battle at the Home Office and not as Chancellor of the Exchequer, but what a battle we had to get fair treatment for the police. What a battle we have had to get a slight move forward in regard to probation officers. I do not think the position is at all satisfactory today. What a battle we have had—and have not yet won—for adequate pensions for retired policemen and their widows. That is all bound up with the recruitment of an adequate police force, satisfied and happy to do the job.
My hon. Friend the Member for Ashford (Mr. Deedes) apparently rejected the Clause because he did not think it very well drawn. That may well be so, but if my right hon. Friend had felt that the cause was right and that general power should be given to magistrates—as I think it should be given—with all the legal advice he has in the Home 133 Office he could have brought forward a Clause to deal with the situation, perhaps in better legal phraseology than the Clause in the name of my hon. Friend the Member for Ayr (Sir T. Moore) and those who support him.
I do not think there could be any real objection to this general power being given to magistrates. To reject this out of hand is not really doing justice to magistrates who try to serve my right hon. Friend so well and adequately. I do not mind about statistics. If we do our homework we can make statistics answer any case we like to put forward. I sit on a bench with a very remarkable body of magistrates and we have most difficult cases to deal with. For all I know, the hon. Lady the Member for Leeds, South-East (Miss Bacon) may be a magistrate.
We have many difficult cases before us and occasionally, although not very often, they arise out of the problem of broken homes and the unhappy past of the people who come before us. If my right hon. Friend wants to do something about statistics which have been bandied about between the two sides of the House, I should like him to look into the statistics related to the many who come before the courts because of their past histories. Then, perhaps, we could get a little more money to help deal with deprived children and some of the difficulties with which we are faced in the shortage of social workers. We might also get a move on with the recommendations of the Young husband Committee. I could suggest many ways in which my right hon. Friend could spend money as Home Secretary before he again becomes Chancellor of the Exchequer.
I think magistrates ought to have this general power. My right hon. Friend ought to have greater confidence in their administration of justice. They know what is going on and they see some of these young people who come before them. I want much wider powers for the bench. It is all very well reforming in the Home Office, but I want these reforms to spread to the magistrates who are on the job. There are a great many more reforms which I could suggest to my right hon. Friend. If he will 134 have a private talk with me, I shall tell him of some of them.
In the meantime, I have every intention of supporting this Clause. I am not interested in whether there is to be a free vote or not. I have no intention of doing anything but supporting the Clause with my vote in the Lobby.
§ Mr. MacColl
The hon. Lady the Member for Tynemouth (Dame Irene Ward) seemed to be a little ambivalent about magistrates. She started by supporting the hon. and gallant Member for Wells (Lieut.-Commander Maydon) in his general attack on the competence of magistrates, and she finished by saying that they are such wonderful people that they should be given more power and discretion.
§ Dame Irene Ward
I appreciate the hon. Member's action in springing to the defence of magistrates, but I did not think that my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Wells (Lieut.-Commander Maydon) was attacking them. He was talking about the problems of juvenile courts. A great many magistrates feel that to eliminate any fear that those who come before those courts might experience—[HON. MEMBERS: "Speech."]—we have gone too far in removing the deterrent of the juvenile court.
§ Mr. MacColl
If I may now utter the second sentence of my speech, I was about to say to the hon. Lady that I suspect that most of the criticisms made of the working of the juvenile courts have been made by those magistrates who have not been honoured by being elected to the panel of juvenile justices.
I do not want to follow the hon. Lady in what I think is really the drawing of a red herring about the magistracy, nor do I want to follow the Home Secretary in the fascinating development of the theory of collective responsibility of cabinet Government, on which I certainly agree with the hon. Lady's comments. I want to confine myself to what I think is the fundamental difficulty about this new Clause and the fundamental confusion about the arguments deployed on corporal punishment both in Committee and on the Floor of the House. It is that protagonists of corporal punishment can never make up their minds whether they regard it as 135 a severe and frightening penalty or as a quick, easy, rather soft option for the not too seriously delinquent people.
Those two views are present in the two new Clauses on the Order Paper. One is the proposal that corporal punishment should be something one can agree to have as an alternative by the consent of the person concerned. The other view is put forward in the new Clause which we are now discussing. The hon. Member for Kidderminster (Mr. Nabarro) is a clear believer in corporal punishment as being a very severe, brutal and frightening penalty, because he said that the hide of the thug is tender and receptive. I do not believe that that is true. I do not believe that the hide of the thug is more tender or more receptive than that of my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Northampton (Mr. Paget). If corporal punishment did not prevent my hon. and learned Friend from turning back to the straight and narrow way, I do not think that it will make a thoroughpaced thug turn back to the straight and narrow way. The hon. Member for Kidderminster talked about corporal punishment as embodied in the new Clause as being the extreme penalty.
§ Mr. MacColl
I wrote down "penalty" but I will settle for "sanction". The hon. Member regarded it as the last straw for the "hard core" as he terms them, for the people beyond redemption, but that was not the view expressed by the hon. and gallant Member for Wells and one or two hon. Members who had breezy reminiscences of life in the Navy or at Eton and elsewhere where one was regarded as being a "cissy" if one cared about being beaten. The hon. and gallant Member for Wells said that it was a suitable penalty for people who ripped up cinema seats, but those people only do malicious damage anyway and the new Clause does not cover them.
The people covered here are not thugs who make a noise outside a cafe at two o'clock in the morning or thugs who behave like undergraduates inside a cinema. The Clause is supposed to cover only second offenders, the people who have had their chance, the people who are really serious, hard cases, the people whom it is thought the other type of treatment has failed to help.
136 If we take that view I think that we ought to put no limit to the ferocity of the punishment that we administer. It is really cissy stuff to cut out the cat-o'-nine-tails. After all, if one only canes the violent thugs and one applies only a genteel type of punishment it will have no effect on them. It will have no more effect on them than it did on hon. Members opposite when they were at school. If we are to apply a deterrent punishment we must increase the severity of the punishment. As one fails to apply an effective deterrent one finds before long that one has to introduce the cat o' nine tails and even a few embellishments to it.
§ Commander Anthony Courtney (Harrow, East)
I hope that the hon. Member realises that the Cadogan Committee, whose Report is the basis of what we are now discussing, recommended the retention of the cat-o'-nine-tails for the circumstances for which corporal punishment is now allowed, that is, for mutiny in prisons and for physical assault on prison officers.
§ Mr. MacColl
I would merely recapitulate what was said by my hon. Friend the Member for Leeds, South-East (Miss Bacon)—that, in spite of flogging by the cat-o'-nine-tails, we are all desperately worried by the present state of prison discipline, and that if that punishment had been abolished earlier we should now be faced with a demand for its restoration. This is precisely what I am saying. We shall have to reintroduce the cat-o'-nine-tails if this punishment is to be an effective sanction. We should have to introduce the old-fashioned idea of punishing people more than once, of ordering them to be flogged on several occasions, because any single flogging that a prisoner can stand without dying or without its being stopped by a medical officer is unlikely to be a sufficiently effective deterrent over a long period. If brutality is to be relied upon for the deterrent, it must be made workmanlike and effective and we must not be put off by all this genteel schoolboy stuff.
The hon. Member for Ayr (Sir T. Moore) was quite cynical about it. He said that he did not think that the cat-o'-nine-tails is more painful than the birch. He said that he was, therefore, settling for the birch to mollify public opinion 137 because he thought that it would be as unpleasant as the cat-o'-nine-tails. Other hon. Members have said that the birch is not flogging. Why is it not flogging if they want to protect the women who are suffering these brutal assaults? If they are going to stick up for the victims, why not flog the criminals?
My answer to that question is that I do not think that it is an effective deterrent, however brutal it is. The fundamental fallacy about the argument for the deterrent based upon severity of punishment is that it assumes that the person receiving the punishment is a rational human being who governs his motives by his experience. As I said in Committee, the difference between the bishop and the hoodlum is that the bishop learns from experience and once having been punished he keeps out of trouble again, whereas the hoodlum goes on and on obtaining more punishment because he lacks the particular quality of mind of being able to say, "I know that this is a stupid thing to do because I shall be punished".
The hon. Member for Tynemouth, with her great experience, told us about the work of magistrates. She has found, as I have, that one of the characteristic features of the delinquent young is that they do not respond to cause and effect. It is no good saying to them, "Surely you realise that if you commit another offence you will be punished for it." It does not work that way, because the minds of delinquents and criminals do not work that way.
That is the only point I want to make. We must make up our minds what we are trying to do. Are we trying to introduce the last fundamental extreme sanction for grave crime? If we are doing that, is it not terrible to think that thugs, people who have committed violent assaults, will not go to prison, because this is an alternative to prison? They will have a single penalty, which will be over in a few minutes, and then they will be let loose on the country, with no protection for society. The people advocating the introduction of corporal punishment are the same people who are talking about protection for the weak and helpless. Yet they will not shut these brutes up. They will let them loose hoping that their theories will work.
§ Mr. MacColl
As my hon. Friend the Member for Nelson and Colne (Mr. S. Silverman) says, the brutes will be let loose with a chip on their shoulders and a new grudge against society. They will not be shut off away from society. They will be let loose among society immediately, just because a few hon. Members with happy recollections of their days at public school think that after all beating people when they misbehave is all rather jolly fun.
§ Mr. Gresham Cooke
The answer to the hon. Member for Widnes (Mr. MacColl) is perfectly clear. It is that caning or birching is a deterrent. I was amazed to hear the hon. Member for Chesterfield (Sir G. Benson) tell us that, in his view, birching and caning were a deterrent, because in Committee many hon. Members opposite, including, I think, the hon. Member for Chesterfield, said that it did not matter about reintroducing corporal punishment because it was not a deterrent. This shows how public opinion on the other side of the House is being educated. Hon. Members opposite now admit that birching and caning are deterrents.
§ Sir G. Benson
I do not deny that birching and caning are deterrents. All forms of unpleasantness can be deterrents. The question is whether caning and birching are a more effective deterrent than other forms of deterrent and whether it is worth while reintroducing corporal punishment. My opinion is that it is not.
§ Mr. Gresham Cooke
My hon. Friends and I take the view that it is a deterrent and that it will be an additional deterrent alongside the detention centres and other things that we are introducing.
I shall not run over all the points which have been raised tonight, but I must take up two or three things which have been said in the debate. It has been freely said that the fear of detection is a great deterrent. However, one of the difficulties at the moment is that the fear of detection is not a deterrent, because magistrates have been weak and soft and many young thugs think that they will be bound over. If Parliament, on this occasion, will give magistrates a lead, and show them that we mean 139 business in fighting crime, I am certain that magistrates will face up to crime much more seriously than they have in the last ten years.
The two great fallacies on which hon. Members opposite base themselves are the fallacies contained in the Cadogan and Barry Reports. Both Reports are based on a statistic, which is that the boy who has been birched has no worse and no better record than the boy who has been put on probation. The answer is that the boys who are capable of being birched are the boys who will be very bad, anyhow. The fact that their record is about the same as those who have been put on probation shows that they have pulled themselves up. One would expect their record to be very much worse than the record of those put on probation.
The second great fallacy of the Barry Report is that we are not told how many crimes of violence before the war were prevented by the fear of the deterrent of the cane, which existed in those days. The Barry Report does not tell us that at all.
It has been asked: who will do the birching? I have spoken to some police officers since the Standing Committee proceedings, and they all clearly told me that if they were ordered by Parliament to carry out birching they would take it as their duty—
§ Mrs. E. M. Braddock (Liverpool, Exchange)
Does not the hon. Gentleman think that it might be useful if the magistrate who ordered the penalty did the birching? That might change the whole situation.
§ Mr. Gresham Cooke
I think that it would be perfectly proper for the police to do the birching, as happened before the war.
Mention has been made of the delay in punishing a young man in this way, because he might have to wait two or three weeks until his appeal had been heard. That delay occurred before the war, and nobody made much fuss about it then.
My hon. Friend the Member for Ashford (Mr. Deedes) asked what crimes would be covered by this new Clause, and thought that it might be difficult to list 140 those crimes. I think that that would be perfectly easy. I myself would list violence, malicious wounding, indictable assaults and robbery with violence—and it might be perfectly open also to include malicious damage to property of the type of which we have had recent cases.
I would point out to the Home Secretary that since 1938, we have had a terrible increase in crime. Juvenile crime has gone up by nine or ten times. I would ask my right hon. Friend to think of his predecessor, Sir William Joynson-Hicks, who sat for my constituency in the 'twenties We then had a Home Secretary who, had he been Home Secretary now, would, I am certain, have stamped on this crime wave effectively—
§ Mr. Charles Pannell (Leeds, West)
The hon. Member speaks of a Home Secretary of the 'twenties. That same Home Secretary propagated armed insurrection in Ulster, and all sorts of traitorous and misconceived ideas. I hope that the hon. Gentleman will leave the late Lord Brentford out of the argument.
§ Mr. Gresham Cooke
Hon. Members will remember that before the war the rate of crime of this type was very much lower than it is today, and that both magistrates and Home Secretaries were tougher then than they are today. We face a most serious situation, and I feel, as do my hon. Friends, that we have to give this birching and caning a try for a time. Unless my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary can bring it in, I shall have to vote against the Government.
§ Mr. S. Silverman
I had not intended to take part in this debate because, although I recognise that it has been conducted with great intelligence and good temper and, on the whole, good humour—I hope that I shall not be thought offensive if I say this—it has been mainly a rehash of an argument whose real content was 141 exhausted very many years ago, and because I thought that it might have been better to have a qucker end of this debate—after adequate time—and to get on with something else. Since it has gone on for more than four hours, and there is now no prospect of more important questions being given the same length of time, it is not, perhaps, a matter for apology if I offer a comment of my own.
I have listened, not to all of this debate but to a great deal of it. Let us see what is common ground among us before we proceed to consider what we differ about. There has been a great deal of talk about deterrence. There is no Member of the House, whatever his view on this question, who believes that deterrence is the only factor in the argument. We are all satisfied that there are some things we must not do even if we are 100 per cent. satisfied that they are 100 per cent. deterrents. That is the answer which supporters of the Clause might well give to the taunts levelled against them when they are asked, "If you believe in the deterrent virtue of this particular penalty over and above all other penalties, why are you so anxious and meticulous to say that you do not believe in flogging?". They say that they do not ask to restore the "cat". Why not ask to restore the "cat"? If deterrence is the only thing one has to consider, and if violence is the only effective remedy for violence, ought one not to advocate the return of the "cat"?
The reason why supporters of the Clause do not advocate the restoration of flogging, if by that is meant the "cat", and do not advocate the restoration of the stocks, the pillory, the thumbscrew or breaking on the wheel is not that these would not be effective deterrents. Clearly, if the cane or the birch is an effective deterrent, then breaking on the wheel, or the rope, would be an effective deterrent. The reason why they do not advocate these things is that everyone realises that, deterrent or no deterrent, there are some things which one should not do.
§ Mr. van Straubenzee
Would it be equally fair for me to retort that the hon. Member would not, for instance, propose returning to bread and water in a detention centre for the same reason? I do not think that it would be.
§ Mr. Silverman
If the hon. Gentleman will have a little patience, he will be able to follow a connected argument to the end. I was beginning only with the first point I make, that although this argument about deterrence has some validity in the discussion, it is a mistake to suppose that it is the only or a decisive factor. It is not, and no one in the House believes that it is.
§ Mr. J. C. Jennings (Burton)
I have followed very carefully the hon. Gentleman's logical argument. Will he agree that another factor enters into a consideration of the question he asks, namely, what the public conscience will accept? The public conscience will accept the cane and the birch, but it would not accept the thumbscrew, the rack or breaking on the wheel. It should be made clear that we are advocating what the public conscience demands and will accept.
§ Mr. Silverman
With great respect to the hon. Member, that is exactly what I say. There are some kinds of penalty so revolting in themselves that the public will not stand for them. I am sure that the hon. Gentleman did not intend to be understood as saying that, if only he could get away with it in public opinion, he would be in favour of any such restoration.
§ Mr. Silverman
So his argument about public opinion did not really justify his intervention. What he says about public opinion is true equally of himself just as it is true of every hon. Member of the House of Commons.
Deterrence is not the only factor. I agree that it is one of the factors, if it can be established. But the whole history of the matter shows that one cannot establish that this form of penalty is any more effective in preventing or deterring crime than any other penalty.
There are people who sneer at statistics, but they are not logical when they do so. They ask us to take full cognisance of all the figures concerning the increase in crime. They do not say disregard them or that we should take no notice of them. They do not say that we should disregard all the figures which the Home Secretary provided for 143 the hon. Member for Kidderminster (Mr. Nabarro). So far from saying that figures and statistics do not matter, they are saying that they are the very basis of their case. They are asking the House to adopt this proposal because, they say, crime of this kind is increasing. They prove that crime of this kind is increasing by pointing to the figures. If the figures are valid for showing how crime of this kind is accelerating, growing, varying, and so on, they cannot say, with any show of reason, that the other figures which the Home Office provides about how far the infliction of this penalty has in the past prevented a particular offender from committing the same crime do not matter.
There is a tendency for us to call figures statistics when we do not like what they show and want to dismiss them from the argument, and to call figures evidence when they support the case that we wish to propound. But this is not good argument. This is not the way to reach sound or sane decisions. The fact is that just as the figures show that there has been an increase in crime, the same figures show that the remedy which is being advocated here is not a remedy at all. The figures are there. We can say that we do not wish to pay attention to them, that we do not believe them, that we have misread them or that we have drawn the wrong inferences from them, but no one has an interest in drawing the wrong inferences.
§ Mr. R. J. Maxwell-Hyslop (Tiverton)
The hon. Gentleman has said that the figures show that corporal punishment is ineffective. As there has not been any corporal punishment in the last decade, how can that statement possibly be true?
§ Mr. Silverman
I do not want to repeat the argument which has been used ad nauseam on both sides of the House in the last four hours. The hon. Gentleman must take it from me. I know that it is a great deal to ask, but it is getting late and I do not wish to speak for much longer.
The general concensus of opinion is that the evidence of the figures, both during the period when we had this penalty and during the period when we had not, and more particularly if we relate the removal of the penalty to the 144 crimes for which the penalty used to be inflicted, is all one way.
§ Mr. Maxwell-Hyslop indicated dissent.
§ Mr. Silverman
The hon. Gentleman shakes his head. All I can say is that most people who are acquainted with the figures know that they point in the direction that I have indicated. The hon. Gentleman would not abandon his argument, even if he thought that I was right on this point, because he thinks that there is some virtue in this penalty, quite apart from deterrence, the merits of the matter or anything else. There is a sort of nostalgia about it. There is a sort of undercurrent, a kind of emotional spasm, about it, sometimes mixed up with not very desirable emotions.
I should like hon. Members to remember in their quiet moments that almost every hon. Member who has described the actual operation or who has recalled school-time memories has found it a source of merriment. Have they ever paused to consider why they thought it funny or what the deep psychological foundations are for this sense of fun? If we cannot establish that this thing really does prevent crime more than any other penalty, there is no case for it.
One final word. There has been a rise in juvenile crime since the war. The hon. Gentleman repeated it several times, and he is quite right. It is a terrifying increase in crime, but the hon. Gentleman talks about the figures before the war and the figures since the war as though the war had not happened, as though it had no effect on the matter at all, as though we could take it out of the picture and treat the whole pattern of development as if those dreadful six years had never occurred. The generation with which we are dealing was the most bitterly betrayed generation of almost any in the history of mankind.
I am not saying that the war could have been prevented. I was never one of those who thought that there was any escape from the Hitler war in the end. It may have been a most unnecessary war, but certainly it became, as they handled it, the most inevitable war. I am not saying it could have been prevented, but, please, do not let us forget the devastating effect which it had on the lives of young children who certainly 145 had no responsibility for the world in which they were compelled to be brought up in those early formative years.
Before we go about making these demands to inflict all kinds of further suffering and further physical cruelty, let us ask ourselves how much their fault is our fault. For how much are we responsible? How much have we neglected them? How much have we treated them badly, failed to educate them, failed to give them any kind of example which they could follow? Let us remember, in the end, that we do not
§ cast out Beelzebub by Beelzebub. If violence against the person is a bad thing, as undoubtely it is, it is a bad thing whoever inflicts it.
§ Mr. A. E. Cooper (Ilford, North) rose in his place, and claimed to move, That the Question be now put.
§ Question, That the Question be now put, put and agreed to.
§ Question put accordingly, That the Clause be read a Second time:—
§ The House divided: Ayes 67, Noes 259.147
|Division No. 131.]||AYES||[8.55 p.m.|
|Agnew, Sir Peter||Gurden, Harold||Nicholls, Sir Harmar|
|Barlow, Sir John||Hiley, Joseph||Osborne, Cyril (Louth)|
|Baxter, Sir Beverley (Southgate)||Hill, Mrs. Eveline (Wythenshawe)||Page, John (Harrow, West)|
|Bidgood, John C.||Hirst, Geoffrey||Page, Graham (Crosby)|
|Black, Sir Cyril||Hocking, Philip N.||Pilkington, Sir Richard|
|Brewis, John||Hollingworth, John||Ropner, Col. Sir Leonard|
|Bullus, Wing Commander Eric||Howard, Hon. G. R. (St. Ives)||Steward, Harold (Stockport, S.)|
|Cleaver, Leonard||Irvine, Bryant Godman (Rye).||Stodart, J. A.|
|Cooke, Robert||Jennings, J. C.||Stoddart-Scott, Col. Sir Malcolm|
|Cordle, John||Johnson, Dr. Donald (Carlisle)||Taylor, Sir Charles (Eastbourne)|
|Courtney, Cdr. Anthony||Johnson, Eric (Blackley)||Taylor, Edwin (Bolton, E.)|
|Craddock, Sir Beresford||Kerans, Cdr. J. S.||Teeling, William|
|Dance, James||Kerby, Capt. Henry||Thatcher, Mrs. Margaret|
|Donaldson, Cmdr, C. E. M.||Kershaw, Anthony||Thomas, Leslie (Canterbury)|
|Drayson, G. B.||Lagden, Godfrey||Tiley, Arthur (Bradford, W.)|
|du Cann, Edward||Longden, Gilbert||Turner, Colin|
|Duncan, Sir James||Lucas, Sir Jocelyn||Walker, Peter|
|Eden, John||MacArthur, Ian||Ward, Dame Irene|
|Farey-Jones, F. W.||Mawby, Ray||Watts, James|
|Farr, John||Maxwell-Hyslop, R- J.||Wise, A. R.|
|Fell, Anthony||Maydon, Lt-Cmdr. S. L. C.||Woodnutt, Mark|
|Gresham Cooke, R.||Montgomery, Fergus|
|Grimston, Sir Robert||Nabarro, Gerald||TELLERS FOR THE AYES:|
|Sir T. Moore and Mr. N. Pannell|
|Abse, Leo||Chapman, Donald||Foot, Dingle (Ipswich)|
|Ainsley, William||Chataway, Christopher||Foot, Michael (Ebbw Vale)|
|Allason, James||Chetwynd, George||Forrest, George|
|Allaun, Frank (Salford, E.)||Chichester-Clark, R.||Fraser, Ian (Plymouth, Sutton)|
|Allen, Scholefield (Crewe)||Clark, Henry (Antrim, N.)||Fraser, Thomas (Hamilton)|
|Arbuthnot, John||Cliffe, Michael||Gaitskell, Rt. Hon. Hugh|
|Awbery, Stan||Cole, Norman||Gammans, Lady|
|Bacon, Miss Alice||Cooper, A. E.||Gibson-Watt, David|
|Balniel, Lord||Cordeaux, Lt.-Col. J. K.||Ginsburg, David|
|Barber, Anthony||Corfield, F. V.||Goodhart, Philip|
|Bennett, Dr. Reginald (Gos & Fhm)||Coulson, J. M.||Goodhew, Victor|
|Benson, Sir George||Craddock, George (Bradford, S.)||Gordon Walker, Rt. Hon. P. C.|
|Bevins, Rt. Hon. Reginald (Toxteth)||Critchley, Julian||Gourlay, Harry|
|Birch, Rt. Hon. Nigel||Cullen, Mrs. Alice||Gower, Raymond|
|Bishop, F. P.||Cunningham, Knox||Grant, Rt. Hon. William|
|Blackburn, F.||Curran, Charles||Grant-Ferris, Wg Cdr. R.|
|Bossom, Clive||d'Avigdor-Goldsmid, Sir Henry||Griffiths, David (Rother Valley)|
|Bourne-Arton, A||Deedes, W. F.||Grosvenor, Lt.-Col. R. G.|
|Bowen, Roderic (Cardigan)||Deer, George||Hale, Leslie (Oldham, W.)|
|Boyd-Carpenter, Rt. Hon. John||de Ferranti, Basil||Hamilton, Michael (Wellingborough)|
|Boyle, Sir Edward||Dempsey, James||Hamilton, William (West Fife)|
|Braddock, Mrs. E. M.||Digby, Simon Wingfield||Hart, Mrs. Judith|
|Brookway, A. Fenner||Dodds, Norman||Hayman, F. H.|
|Brooman-White, R.||Ede, Rt. Hon. C.||Heald, Rt. Hon. Sir Lionel|
|Brown, Alan (Tottenham)||Edwards, Rt. Hon. Ness (Caerphilly)||Herbison, Miss Margaret|
|Browne, Percy (Torrington)||Edwards, Robert (Bilston)||Hobson, John|
|Bryan, Paul||Elliott, R. W. (Nwcstle-upon-Tyne, N.)||Holland, Philip|
|Butcher, Sir Herbert||Errington, Sir Eric||Holman, Percy|
|Butler, Rt. Hn. R. A. (Saffron Walden)||Evans, Albert||Holt, Arthur|
|Campbell, Sir David (Belfast, S.)||Fernyhough, E.||Hopkins, Alan|
|Campbell, Gordon (Moray & Nairn)||Finch, Harold||Hornby, R. P.|
|Carr, Compton (Barons Court)||Finlay, Graeme||Hornsby-Smith, Rt. Hon. Patricia|
|Carr, Robert (Mitcham)||Fisher, Nigel||Houghton, Douglas|
|Cary, Sir Robert||Fitch, Alan||Howard, John (Southampton, Test)|
|Channon, H. P. G.||Fletcher-Cooke, Charles||Howell, Charles A.|
|Howell, Denis||Mendelson, J. J.||Slater, Joseph (Sedgefield)|
|Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.)||Millan, Bruce||Small, William|
|Hughes Hallett, Vice-Admiral John||Mills, Stratton||Smith, Dudley (Br'ntf'rd & Chiswick)|
|Hughes-Young, Michael||Milne, Edward J.||Smith, Ellis (Stoke, S.)|
|Hunter, A. E.||Mitchison, G. R.||Sorensen, R. W.|
|Hutchison, Michael Clark||Moyle, Arthur||Spearman, Sir Alexander|
|Hynd, John (Attercliffe)||Mulley, Frederick||Spriggs, Leslie|
|Irvine, A. J. (Edge Hill)||Neal, Harold||Steele, Thomas|
|Irving, Sydney (Dartford)||Neave, Airey||Stevens, Geoffrey|
|Jackson, John||Noble, Michael||Stonehouse, John|
|Johnson, Carol (Lewisham, S)||Oliver, G. H.||Stones, William|
|Jones, Rt. Hn. A. Creech (Wakefield)||Orr-Ewing, C. Ian||Storey, Sir Samuel|
|Jones, Rt. Hn. Aubrey (Hall Green)||Oswald, Thomas||Stross, Dr. Barnett (Stoke-on-Trent, C.)|
|Jones, J. Idwal (Wrexham)||Padley, W. E.||Studholme, Sir Henry|
|Jones, T. W. (Merioneth)||Paget, R. T.||Sylvester, George|
|Joseph, Sir Keith||Pannell, Charles (Leeds, W.)||Tapsell, Peter|
|Kaberry, Sir Donald||Pavitt, Laurence||Taylor, Bernard (Mansfield)|
|Kelley, Richard||Pearson, Arthur (Pontypridd)||Taylor, John (West Lothian)|
|Kerr, Sir Hamilton||Pearson, Frank (Clitheroe)||Thomas, Peter (Conway)|
|Kirk, Peter||Peel, John||Thompson, Dr. Alan (Dunfermline)|
|Lawson, George||Pentland, Norman||Thompson, Kenneth (Walton)|
|Leavey, J. A.||Pickthorn, Sir Kenneth||Thompson, Richard (Croydon, S.)|
|Leburn, Gilmour||Pitt, Miss Edith||Thornton Kemsley, Sir Colin|
|Lee, Frederick (Newton)||Pott, Percivall||Tilney, John (Wavertree)|
|Lee, Miss Jennie (Cannock)||Powell, Rt. Hon. J. Enoch||Turton, Rt. Hon. R. H.|
|Lewis, Arthur (West Ham, N.)||Prentice, R. E.||Vane, W. M. F.|
|Lewis, Kenneth (Rutland)||Prior, J. M. L.||Vaughan-Morgan, Sir John|
|Linstead, Sir Hugh||Prior-Palmer, Brig, Sir Otho||Vickers, Miss Joan|
|Lipton, Marcus||Proctor, W. T.||Vosper, Rt. Hon. Dennis|
|Loughlin, Charles||Proudfoot, Wilfred||Wade, Donald|
|Lucas-Tooth, Sir Hugh||Pursey, Cmdr. Harry||Wainwright, Edwin|
|Mabon, Dr. J. Dickson||Pym, Francis||Wakefield, Edward (Derbyshire, W.)|
|McCann, John||Ramsden, James||Warbey, William|
|MacColl, James||Randall, Harry||Webster, David|
|McInnes, James||Rankin, John||Weitzman, David|
|McKay, John (Wallsend)||Rawlinson, Peter||Wells, John (Maidstone)|
|McLaren, Martin||Redmayne, Rt. Hon. Martin||Whitelaw, William|
|McLaughlin, Mrs. Patricia||Rees, Hugh||Whitlock, William|
|McMaster, Stanley R.||Reid, William||Wigg, George|
|MacPherson, Malcolm (Stirling)||Renton, David||Wilkins, W. A.|
|Macpherson, Niall (Dumfries)||Reynolds, G. W.||Williams, W. R. (Openshaw)|
|Maddan, Martin||Roberts, Albert (Normanton)||Willis, E. G. (Edinburgh, E.)|
|Maginnis, John E.||Roberts, Goronwy (Caernarvon)||Wilson, Geoffrey (Truro)|
|Maitland, Sir John||Robinson, Kenneth (St. Pancras, N.)||Woodhouse, C. M.|
|Mallalieu, E. L. (Brigg)||Rogers, G. H. R. (Kensington, N.)||Woollam, John|
|Mallalieu, J. P. W. (Huddersfield, E.)||Roots, William||Worsley, Marcus|
|Manningham-Buller, Rt. Hn. Sir R.||Russell, Ronald||Yates, Victor (Ladywood)|
|Manuel, A. C.||Shaw, M.||Yates, William (The Wrekin)|
|Marquand, Rt. Hon H. A.||Shepherd, William|
|Marsh, Richard||Short, Edward||TELLERS FOR THE NOES:|
|Marten, Neil||Silverman, Julius (Aston)||Colonel J. H. Harrison and|
|Mathew, Robert (Honiton)||Silverman, Sydney (Nelson)||Mr. J. E. B. Hill.|
|Matthews, Gordon (Meriden)||Slater, Mrs. Harriet (Stoke, N.)|
§ Miss Bacon
I beg to move,That further consideration of the Bill, as amended, be now adjournedI do so to find out what are the intentions of the Government about the Bill. We have now spent five-and-a-quarter hours on one new Clause which was discussed adequately during the Committee stage for four-and-a-half hours, after which it was defeated by 26 votes to 6. Very soon we shall reach another most important Clause concerning the restriction of the death penalty. This was defeated by only 16 votes to 15 during the Committee stage discussions. I should like to know from the Home Secretary whether it is his intention to go on so late tonight that the vote on this very important Clause will be taken at a late hour.
In view of the fact that we have taken so long on this one Clause, and still have 148 to consider the control of approved schools, attendance centres, the future of the Prison Commission and the whole of the question of after-care, as well as take the Third Reading—that could take a considerable time—I should like to know whether it is still the intention of the right hon. Gentleman to try to get the whole of this Bill tomorrow.
§ Mr. R. A. Butler
The hour is very early for a discussion about progress on a Bill of this sort. Our discussions have, I think, been conducted in an atmosphere of constructive argument; I hope that applies to the patient debate we have just listened to. We all knew that that debate would take a long time, because there is a lot of feeling on the subject, and when there is a lot of feeling in the House, on either side, the discussion always takes a long time. We shall then 149 come to a comparatively short Amendment which is important but technical. Then we shall have a very important debate on the death penalty. All I can say at this stage is, at least let us make progress.
We do not propose to keep the House unreasonably late. We shall sit beyond eleven o'clock, I should imagine, but we do not propose to kep the House up all night. We want to make reasonable progress. If we find that we can reach a decision on this matter, let us do so. If we cannot, we cannot do so, but let us approach it in an atmosphere of reason. If we have to put off the vote until tomorrow, we shall have to do so, but I think that we should try to make sufficient progress with this important debate to attempt to reach a decision tonight.
§ Mr. Gordon Walker (Smethwick)
When the right hon. Gentleman says we should reach a decision on this important matter he is, I take it, referring to the question of capital punishment. It seems to me very optimistic to think that we should reach a decision if he is thinking of the House rising at about eleven o'clock. We have had a debate which was kept going mainly by speakers from the opposite side of the House. I make no complaint about that; I state it as a fact. If, as I understood him to say, the right hon. Gentleman expects that we shall rise at eleven o'clock—
§ Mr. R. A. Butler
I did not say that it would necessarily be eleven o'clock. I said that we were not going to sit all night. I would put the limit at twelve o'clock. The point is to make progress.
§ Mr. Gordon Walker
The right hon. Gentleman originally said eleven o'clock. I heard him say at "about eleven". He also talked about not sitting all night. I thought that the night ended at twelve. We should be perfectly prepared to accept the right hon. Gentleman's first thoughts on this subject, that we should sit till about eleven, making good and constructive progress on the next Amendment and then starting on the big one about capital punishment, which, of course, will also arouse on both sides of the House deep and divided feelings which, in the same way as on the previous Amendment, must be given vent to. If the previous debate ran for nearly 150 five hours, we can expect the debate on capital punishment to run a considerable time.
Therefore, I hope that the right hon. Gentleman will adhere to his first words to us when he spoke of "about eleven". [HON. MEMBERS: "No."] I heard the right hon. Gentleman say "eleven". [HON. MEMBERS: "No."] The right hon. Gentleman said "not much later than eleven." [HON. MEMBERS: "No."] At any rate, the word "eleven" occurred in the right hon. Gentleman's remarks. [HON. MEMBERS: "Yes."] There is a difference between "later than eleven" and "twelve". If the right hon. Gentleman had meant "twelve" he would have said "twelve". He is a man of great precision of language, as is well and widely known, a man who always says clearly, exactly and lucidly what he means.
It is not hon. Members on this side of the Chamber who have been keeping the House up till this time. If there is a general desire to sit all night, we on this side of the House are prepared to do so if we have to do it. [Interruption.] Hon. Members opposite who have been keeping the House here, no doubt quite rightly, for the greater part of five-and-a-quarter hours—out has been mainly through their own efforts—really have no right to be impatient at this stage of the proceedings. They have brought us into this difficulty. [Interruption.] Of course they have.
We want to know how long we are going to be asked to sit. We have to decide how to divide upon the Question before the House. We want to know whether the right hon. Gentleman meant "not much later than eleven", because there is a lot of difference between "not much later than eleven" and "sitting till midnight". Therefore, the answer which the right hon. Gentleman can give us will make some difference to our attitude towards this question, towards the question of suspending the Rule, and towards other questions which lie ahead of us.
§ Mr. R. A. Butler
We must be very careful about the way we handle the procedure of the House. As the hon. Lady the Member for Leeds, South-East (Miss Bacon) said, it is true that both these subjects were very fully discussed in the Standing Committee. With your gracious consent, Mr. Speaker, we have now been able fully to rehearse and consider all 151 the arguments on these issues for a second time. We must try to prevent that from wrecking all consideration of the Clauses of the Bill from Clause I onwards, which I should like to reach tomorrow so that we may start on them. I think that is perfectly reasonable.
The hon. Lady need not get excited, nor need her right hon. Friend the Member for Smethwick (Mr. Gordon Walker). On a question of life and death I think it would be wrong to force the House to take a decision at an hour which it found unreasonable. I think that I am not trying to be unreasonable in my remark about eleven o'clock. I said that after eleven o'clock I should begin to consider the situation and that we would not sit later than twelve. I honestly think that it will be found that there are many hon. and right hon. Gentlemen who wish to speak on this Bill if we give a little latitude tonight and do not go to bed too early, as long as they find that they are not being rushed about a decision.
What I want to do as Leader of the House is to see how the debate goes and if there are a great many speeches to come, fit several of them in tonight so that we do not sit too long tomorrow before we come to a vote. That is my idea, and I think that is the best way to deal with the matter. I am putting my cards right on the table. I think that is the right way to deal with the question of capital punishment. I do not think that it would be right for the right hon. Gentleman or his hon. Friend to stop a few extra speeches tonight if hon. Members want to speak. I shall be here to listen whatever hour we rise, but I do not wish us to sit too late and certainly not all night, for that would not be the way to run the proceedings. If we find an easy decision, let us take it, but if there is doubt about the position, I shall bow to the feeling of the House.
§ 9.15 p.m.
§ Mr. S. Silverman
I do not want to detain the House, and we are all grateful for much of what the right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary said. I would, however, like to have a specific understanding—though I know that a decision would rest ultimately with you, Mr. Speaker, if such a Motion were 152 moved—that the Government do not intend to move the Closure of the debate on the death penalty in order to get a tidy result in today's debating and to leave the field clear for other matters tomorrow.
I gather from what the right hon. Gentleman has said that he does not think that that would be the right thing to do, and that the debate on the proposal to raise the age limit for the infliction of the death penalty, which arouses as much, and perhaps more, feeling than the question of corporal punishment, should not be foreshortened.
§ Mr. R. A. Butler
I do not think that any healthy Government ever gives undertakings about the subject of the Closure. I have said, however, that I do not think that a decision should be forced tonight if it is against the general wishes of the House. As I shall be here throughout the debate, I shall be able to calculate the feeling of the House. If there is a feeling for a decision then we may take one, but I think that the House will want to take a decision first order tomorrow as soon as we can. I do not want, however, to prevent one or two hon. Members from making speeches on the subject tonight if they wish to do so.
§ Miss Bacon
In view of the fact that the Home Secretary has given an undertaking that the vote on the death penalty will not be rushed, I beg to ask leave to withdraw the Motion.
§ Motion, by leave, withdrawn.