HC Deb 27 April 1961 vol 639 cc620-1
41. Mr. Hale

asked the Prime Minister whether the statement on corporal punishment made by the Secretary of State for the Home Department on 19th April, 1961, to the Conservative Women's National Advisory Committee represents the policy of Her Majesty's Government.

The Prime Minister

My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Home Department explained the objections to judicial corporal punishment. What he said certainly represents the policy of Her Majesty's Government.

Mr. Hale

The Home Secretary also said other things. Is the Prime Minister aware that while his right hon. Friend, with his customary vagueness, did not say which end of the belt was to be used on which end of the child or even which end it was intended to reform, this was recommending an offence against Section 1 of the Children and Young Persons Act, 1933, for which people have been sent to prison? While we appreciate that there is a difference of opinion among people of decent feeling on these questions of corporal punishment and on the value of the leather belt, indeed on tea, veal and ham pie, provincial newspapers or even commercial television, the right hon. Gentleman might find some lessons on the pernicious effects of the whip on the basis of "si monumentum requiris, circumspice".

The Prime Minister

I must congratulate the hon. Member on a supplementary question admirably delivered and very comprehensive in its character. I am fortunate in that, although I have held many offices, I have never been Home Secretary or Minister of Education. Therefore, my experience has been entirely on the receiving end of this matter.

Mr. Emrys Hughes

Look at the result.

The Prime Minister

Judged by certain aspects, that might be said to be not altogether unsuccessful. I think it was quite clear what the Home Secretary was saying. He was saying that while there was a strong feeling in favour of disciplinary measures applied either in school or by the parent immediately after the offence without all the paraphernalia of the whole formality of police court proceedings and long delay, he did not approve—and the Government support him here—of the return of corporal punishment as part of the judicial system as opposed to the ordinary methods of discipline.

Mr. S. Silverman

Is the Prime Minister aware that what the Home Secretary was saying on this occasion went far beyond the policy which he rejected when the hon. Member for Ayr (Sir T. Moore) pressed it upon him, in that even the hon. Member for Ayr has never asked for corporal punishment for peccadilloes, but only for crimes of violence? Will the Prime Minister explain the inconsistency?

The Prime Minister

I do not think there was any inconsistency in what my right hon. Friend said. I think that his position is clearly understood and that it commands general support in this House and in the country.

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