HC Deb 08 November 1962 vol 666 cc1127-9
6. Mr. J. P. W. Mallalieu

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department what provision he is making for increased accommodation in remand homes.

The Secretary of State for the Home Department (Mr. Henry Brooke)

The responsibility for providing remand homes rests with the councils of counties and county boroughs, and I am in consultation with them. I am glad to say that the remand home accommodation in England and Wales has increased by 190 places, or 15 per cent. since June, 1961. I hope that about 100 more will become available early next year, and schemes are in hand to produce further places.

Mr. Mallalieu

Could the right hon. Gentleman say what, in fact, is the extent of the shortage at the present time and how far these expansions, to which he refers, will go to meet that shortage?

Mr. Brooke

No, Sir. It is not possible exactly to evaluate the shortage because it is linked up with the shortage of places in approved schools. Boys and girls have to remain longer in remand homes if they cannot go to approved schools, but we are increasing the number of approved school places by 2.000, and, although I am very well aware of the seriousness of the present shortage, a great deal is being done to relieve it.

Miss Bacon

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that we have been pressing this matter for the last two or three years and that magistrates all over the country are finding the position absolutely impossible? While we agree that it is the responsibility of the local authorities, can the night hon. Gentleman say what he is doing other than being in consultation with the local authorities? What pressure is he bringing to bear, and is he likely to review the financial position about this between his Department and the local authorities, such as was promised to us some time ago?

Mr. Brooke

Work is being done on the arrangement for financing remand homes, which the hon. Lady may know can cause difficulty as between one local authority and another. That is certainly in hand. Neither my predecessor nor I have needed any prodding from the House, because we have been pressing forward very rapidly with the provision of new remand homes, as shown by the increase of no less than 15 per cent. in the last fifteen months.

Mrs. Braddock

Is it not very disconcerting indeed for juvenile court magistrates, when they take their place on the bench, to be told before any case is started that there is no accommodation in the remand homes? This makes it very difficult when a decision has to be taken on what is to happen to one of the boys or girls who come into the juvenile courts? The Minister knows the difficulty that we are placed in in Liver-pool in this respect. Will not he see whether it is possible to speed up the provision of additional remand homes?

Mr. Brooke

I entirely agree with the hon. Lady. I take this matter very seriously indeed. It is a consequence of the spectacular rise in juvenile delinquency, and we have to provide accommodation, with the help of the local authorities, that will correspond to the increasing need.

Mr. Lagden

Is the Minister not aware that a farcical position has been reached in many courts where the clerk of the court, prior to the court sitting, phones round to see whether it is possible to remand anybody that day, but very often has to inform the magistrates that it is not possible?

Mr. Brooke

I will most willingly look into any case of that kind, but the fact is, as I have just stated, that this massive increase both in remand home places and in approved school places, which are even more important, is now in progress.