HC Deb 04 April 1963 vol 675 cc623-4
33. Miss Bacon

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department when he intends to lay the order reducing the minimum age for borstal training from 16 to 15 years.

Mr. Brooke

Provision for lowering the minimum age of eligibility for borstal training from 16 to 15 years was made by Section 1(1) of the Criminal Justice Act, 1961. In accordance with the intention which I announced on 7th February in reply to a Question by my hon. Friend the Member for Bridgwater (Sir G. Wills), I have now made an order bringing this Section into operation on 1st August. It does not require to be laid before Parliament.

Miss Bacon

This is a very important matter. In reply to a Question I asked him last week, the Home Secretary said that nearly 2,000 boys aged 16 and 17 had spent periods of imprisonment while awaiting borstal sentence or awaiting removal to borstal, and that of these 461 had spent a period of over a month in a local prison awaiting sentence and 494 had spent a similar period awaiting removal to a borstal. In view of these figures, is it not shocking that the right hon. Gentleman has made an order which will now mean that 15-year-olds will spend these long periods in a local prison?

Mr. Brooke

I agree about the importance of these matters, but I hope that the hon. Lady will approve of my taking action which is designed to make possible the total abolition of imprisonment for offenders under 17. Surely, that is something which the whole House should welcome. As soon as we have enough remand centres, there will no longer be the need for boys who are remanded with a view to borstal sentence to be detained in prison. As the hon. Lady knows, we are pressing forward as rapidly as possible with the provision of more remand centres.

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