HC Deb 22 June 1961 vol 642 cc1665-7
20. Mr. Lipton

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether, in view of the growing number of cases of cruelty to children, he will introduce legislation to increase the penalties for this type of offence.

Mr. Vosper

The law relating to the prevention of cruelty to children was among the subjects considered by the Ingleby Committee, which recommended an increase from £25 to £100 in the maximum fine that may be imposed on summary conviction of an offence under Section 1 of the Children and Young Persons Act, 1933. The Committee's recommendations are under consideration, but I cannot yet say when it will be possible to introduce legislation.

Mr. Lipton

That does not take us very far. Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that, as in the revolting case of the man who blinded his six months' old child for life and received a trivial sentence of six months, the public are staggered by such leniency? Why are such vile cases dealt with in a petty way by petty courts, when, for example, for maiming cattle a prison sentence of up to fourteen years can be imposed? Is not the law far too kind to these brutal and sub-human men?

Mr. Vosper

The maximum penalties on conviction on indictment are a fine of £100 or two years' imprisonment, or both. On summary conviction the penalty is a fine of £25, which it is proposed to increase, or six months, or both. The Ingleby Committee made only one recommendation, having reviewed this very thoroughly.

Mr. Lindsay

Is my right hon. Friend aware that recently we were all shocked by the case of a child of six months who was blinded for life by a beating from his father, and that the maximum punishment was six months' imprisonment? Surely that is quite out of proportion, and legislation should be introduced to deal with this sort of case?

Mr. Vosper

I can but note what my hon. Friend said.

Mr. Iremonger

Is my hon. Friend aware that this case received seven years in a higher court in the last day or so?

Mr. Lipton

Not this case.

In view of the unsatisfactory nature of that reply, I propose to go on and on and give the Government no peace until they do something about this.