§ Order for Second Reading read.
§ 4.3 p.m.
§ The Secretary of State for Scotland (Mr. Michael Noble)
I beg to move, That the Bill be now read a Second time.
In our modern Welfare State, in which prosperity has come perhaps in larger measure to the young than to any other sections of the community, there has been a steady increase in the number of crimes by young people. The fact that these are committed by only a tiny fraction of our youth, which is broadly better fed, better educated, better clothed, better housed and, I believe, better citizens than any earlier generation, makes the problem stand out all the more clearly. This Bill, among many other things, seeks to improve our treatment of these young offenders.
Our ideas about treatment of crime have progressed far in the last 100 years. But in an age when science and research have done so much to provide the answers and cures to many problems in the social and human spheres, it is all the more depressing that we have made so little progress in our researches into the working of the minds of young offenders. We believe that many of the causes which contribute to this problem are clear enough. Broken homes, lack of parental control and, curiously enough, too much money can be almost as dangerous as too little was in the past.
Yet we have so far found that any exact knowledge of the causes of criminality as between one individual and another is a most intractable field of study. Statistics are being compiled. Research in the universities and in the unit which serves the Home Office and the Scottish Office grows year by year. But at this moment, and perhaps for some time in the future, it would be a rash man who could promise the House that results are likely to come from any of these sources which would give a guarantee of successful diagnosis 654 or treatment in practical terms with any real certainty.
By this I do not, of course, want to run down research, or in any way minimise its importance. The Research Unit's report on murders, for instance, has gone a long way to produce factual information and banish a few of the more sensational ideas previously widely believed by the public. Psychiatry and psychology, these twin, curiously inexact sciences, are making important practical contributions to our ideas on the treatment of offenders. But in the main we are still at the stage of trying to develop methods of research rather than expecting complete answers from our research workers.
If this should sound too depressing to the House, let me hasten to add that if we have little or no exact knowledge of this problem we are year by year gaining in our practical experience of many of the sides of this work. In this, we can make useful progress. My right hon. Friend the Member for Renfrew, West (Mr. Maclay) brought together a group of people most experienced in this field and sought their advice.
The proposals in the Bill derive mainly from three Reports of the Scottish Advisory Council on the Treatment of Offenders. I should like straight away to pay tribute to Sheriff Harald Leslie, the chairman, and all the members of that Council, of whom the hon. Member for Dunbartonshire, West (Mr. Steele) is one and my hon. Friend the Member for Edinburgh, South (Mr. Clark Hutchison) is another, for the work which has gone into the preparation of these Reports and the valuable contribution which they make to improving the treatment of offenders. I am sure that I speak on behalf of the House in expressing our gratitude to the Advisory Council.
It is often asked of a Criminal Justice Bill whether it is a "tough" or a "soft" Bill. This is a question which begs a number of other questions. It appears to imply that a "tough" Bill, one directed primarily towards heavier penalties, will have some automatic result of reducing the amount of crime, or, should I say, of reversing the small but steady increase from which we have suffered in Scotland for the last ten years. But such knowledge as we have does not 655 suggest that "tough" legislation would have this effect.
Of course, the powers of the criminal courts are an essential part of the deterrence of crime. But the picture seems to be one in which the effective deterrent for the great majority who may be tempted to crime is not punishment, but their personal relationships with their family, their friends, neighbours and others, whose affection and respect they value and which they would lose if they were detected in crime. Thus, for the great majority of the population, potential criminals in the sense, perhaps, that we are all potential criminals, the part of the machinery of justice that keeps us on the straight and narrow path is the probability of detection, not the punishment the courts may impose.
At the other extreme, there is a group, fortunately comparatively small, of people who have lost all personal relationships, or who, from defect of personality, have been unable to form them or to appreciate the effects of their actions either on others or on themselves. These are the hard core, sometimes deserving our pity as much as our disapproval, whom we have not yet found the right way of deterring from further crime, or converting into useful citizens.
The Bill increases at various points the penalties which the courts may impose and does not at any point reduce the courts' powers. But the underlying purpose is to improve the methods of treatment available to the courts, to enable them, by wise use of their powers, to reduce the number of offenders who will resort to further crime.
Clauses 1 to 11 of the Bill derive from the Report of the Advisory Council which, for brevity, I shall refer to as S.A.C.T.O. on "Custodial Sentences on Young Offenders". The provisions of the Bill differ in some substantial respects from the provisions enacted for England and Wales in the Criminal Justice Act 1961. There are at present three types of custodial sentence for 17 to 21-year-olds—the detention centre sentence, which may be for such period up to three months as the court may fix; borstal, which is a semi-indeterminate sentence, release being decided by the Secretary of State, subject to a maximum period of detention of three years; and imprisonment for such period as the court may fix.
656 S.A.C.T.O. examined these three sentences. In relation to detention centres, it recommended that the appropriate term for the brisk, constructive regime of detention centre training was three months and that this should be the fixed period for all detention centre sentences. Its recommendation followed the English provision, except that in certain circumstances English courts may fix a longer, though not a shorter, period.
As regards borstal, S.A.C.T.O. found that the actual period of detention imposed fell within twelve to eighteen months. It recommended, therefore, that the maximum period of detention should be reduced from three years to two years, as was done in the English Act.
Regarding imprisonment, it followed a different line. It disapproved entirely of the idea of any person under 21 being detained in a prison. It did not follow the 1961 Act principle of limiting short and intermediate term sentences to sentences of detention centre and borstal training. While, in its view these two sentences would meet most of the cases in which sentences of detention were necessary for young people, it considered that in some cases neither of these sentences would be appropriate, but none the less the court would find it necessary to impose a sentence of detention.
The Government have reached the conclusion that in Scottish circumstances this view, based on the experience which the members brought to the S.A.C.T.O. deliberations, is the correct one. We must bear in mind that in Scotland we are dealing with much smaller numbers, and that we cannot within one type of sentence—detention centre training, borstal training, or imprisonment—provide as many types of institution, with sub-classification and segregation of different types of offenders with different needs, as is possible in England and Wales.
The S.A.C.T.O. solution was to propose the provision of a new type of institution—it called it a "custodial centre", but we have renamed it a "young offenders institution"—for those young offenders for whom, for one reason or another, detention centre training or borstal training is inappropriate. These are the proposals for which provision is made in the Bill and which, if the Bill is enacted in its 657 present form, the Government intend to see implemented as soon as possible. Clauses 1 to 11 modify the detention centre and borstal sentences, provide for the introduction of a "young offenders institution", but in Clause 1 (4) place a limitation on the courts' use of this sentence by requiring them before using it to consider, first, the possibility of either detention centre or borstal training.
Clauses 12 to 15 deal with the extension of post-release supervision, aftercare, as it is generally known, to new classes of offender detention centre inmates, of young offenders' institutions and certain categories of prisoners, set out in Clause 15. These proposals derive also from S.A.C.T.O. recommendations. Although they are perhaps the most important provisions in the Bill, I do not think that they call for any lengthy exposition. We are becoming increasingly aware that successful penal treatment means not only the treatment the offender receives in the institution, but his successful re-establishment in the community, and that settling down once again after a sentence is perhaps the most difficult problem of them all. This is why after-care is so important.
Clause l6 is also derived from S.A.C.T.O. and is intended to improve the courts' powers of treatment. At present, although the ordinary powers of the sheriff summary court are limited to three months' imprisonment, six months may he imposed where an offender is convicted of dishonesty or violence and has two previous convictions of a similar kind. S.A.C.T.O. criticised this provision as being both too little and too late. Its recommendation, which is implemented in the Clause 16, was that the extended power should be one year's imprisonment and that it should be exercisable after one previous conviction.
§ Mr. James H. Hoy (Edinburgh, Leith)
Would the Secretary of State like to say a word about Clause 17?
§ Mr. Noble
Clause 17 derives from the fact that there was a misprint in an earlier Bill. I may be wrong about this. If the hon. Gentleman would like to wait, I am quite certain that my noble Friend the Under Secretary of State will say a 658 word about it when she winds up the debate.
Part II of the Bill is an animal with a longer pedigree. It is by the Ingleby Report and the English Criminal Justice Act, 1961, out of the Report by Mr. Victor Durand, Q.C., on the disturbances at the Carlton Approved School. We have, fortunately, been spared any similar incident in a Scottish approved school, but it is better to be safe than sorry. We have, therefore, taken steps, following English experience, to provide a closed block in the approved school system at the Rossie Farm Approved School. The provisions in this part of the Bill follow similar provisions in the 1961 Act dealing with the treatment of recalcitrant pupils and giving the Secretary of State increased powers over the conduct of approved schools. Clause 18 follows the English Act in reducing to two years the period during which a pupil released from an approved school is subject to compulsory supervision by the managers of the school.
In turning to Part III, we leave the special case of the young offender to deal with the powers of the courts generally. Clause 23 implements one of the more important recommendations of the S.A.C.T.O. Report on short sentences by increasing the powers of fine of the summary criminal courts in common law cases. The results of the research investigation, which hon. Members will find printed at the end of that Report, suggest that, if anything, substantial fines are undervalued as a method of treatment of offenders. So the increases are of a fairly drastic kind.
Clause 25 introduces into Scotland the means inquiry procedure which has been found of value in England and Wales. At present, when a court imposes a fine, its order normally takes something like the following form: "Fined £10 or 14 days' imprisonment. One month to pay". If payment is not made within the month, and no application has been made for extension of time to pay, a warrant is issued for the defaulter's arrest and imprisonment. The police, perhaps improperly, but certainly sensibly, do not always enforce the warrant forthwith. They very often call on the defaulter and advise him to pay up or ask for a little longer time to pay.
659 But, even after the exercise of this discretion, it was the view of S.A.C.T.O., and it is the view of the Government, that too many people, sometimes from sheer fecklessness rather than from deliberate refusal to pay, end up in prison in default of payment of their fines. The purpose of the new Clause is to ensure that persons are imprisoned in default of payment only as a result of a deliberate decision by the court that this is the proper course.
Under the Clause, therefore, the court will normally in future pronounce sentence in the form: "Fined £10. One month to pay". Imprisonment in default will then only be ordered after the accused has again been brought before the court for examination. The Clause also makes wider provision for the placing of fined offenders under supervision for the purpose of encouraging them to pay their fines.
Clause 26 also contains provisions for the improvement of the enforcement of fines. Within Scotland and within England and Wales there are already provisions by which the court which imposes a fine may transfer that fine to the court for the area where the offender lives for enforcement. But with the increasing use of motor travel it is becoming increasingly common that a person resident in England may be fined in Scotland and vice versa. The Clause therefore makes a sensible extension of the existing principle by allowing a summary court in Scotland to transfer a fine to a summary court in England and an English court to transfer a fine to a Scottish court.
Part IV of the Bill contains a number of those improvements in the machinery of justice which are from time to time found desirable. I shall confine myself to specific mention of two provisions only. Clause 30, again in the interests of the treatment of the offender, provides for the abolition of what is known as the "cognate offences" rule. Under present law after a conviction has been recorded and before the judge pronounces sentence the prosecutor lays previous convictions before the court "in aggravation of" the present offence. Only previous offences of the same nature—previous thefts in the case of theft, etc.—are considered to 660 "aggravate" the present offence and, therefore, the prosecution is only allowed to libel these "cognate" offences.
But this principle is in conflict with modern ideas of the treatment of offenders. It now appears to us right that in deciding sentence the court should have as full information as possible about the offender's character and circumstances, and, in particular, about the penal treatment which he has had in the past. Clause 30 abolishes the concept of libelling previous convictions "in aggravation of" the present offence. In future, the prosecutor will be able to refer to any previous conviction and the court will be able to take this information into account in whatever way seems to it best in deciding disposal.
Clause 40, like Clause 26, is a useful cross-Border provision. At present, warrants for the arrest of fugitive offenders from Scotland may be executed in England and Wales only if they are "backed" that is, endorsed by an English magistrate: and the same is true of English warrants in Scotland. This, in the Government's view, puts unnecessary difficulties in the way of the police in their pursuit of fugitive offenders. Until the warrant has reached and has been endorsed by an English magistrate it is not valid and cannot, therefore, be enforced, and even after backing it is only valid for the county in which the magistrate has jurisdiction arid, if the offender has left that county, the process must be repeated all over again. Clause 40 provides that a Scottish warrant may be executed in England and Wales in the same way as a warrant issued in England and Wales; and vice versa.
Part V and Schedule 4 of the Bill deal with criminal legal aid. As the House will know, there are in Scotland long-established arrangements on a fairly extensive scale by which persons accused in the sheriff court and the High Court may obtain legal representation as poor persons. In 1949, Parliament passed legislation—the Legal Aid (Scotland) Act, 1949—which provided, amongst other things, for the introduction of an Exchequer-financed scheme of legal aid in criminal proceedings. It was the understanding that the various provisions of that Act should come into force by stages as financial resources permitted.
661 In the case of legal aid, however, doubts arose about the practicability of the 1949 Act provisions. It was widely thought both that they were too comprehensive and that the machinery for the ascertainment of financial eligibility provided under the Act would prove unworkable in the case of criminal proceedings. For this reason my predecessor set up a committee under the chairmanship of Lord Guthrie to consider what, if any, amendments to the 1949 Act were desirable. Schedule 4 of the Bill amends the 1949 Act very much on the lines proposed by the Guthrie Committee.
Clause 48, the last Clause to which I shall refer, deals with the complement of judges in the Court of Session who also act as judges in the High Court of Justiciary. The present 16 judges are now pretty well fully occupied and it seems only good sense that there should be some elbow room for the appointment of new judges if additional work, whether from the introduction of criminal legal aid or from any other source, should be laid upon them. The Clause therefore gives power for the appointment of up to two more judges should this prove necessary.
So much, then, for the specific provisions of the Bill. As I said earlier in introducing the Bill, we must widen and deepen our knowledge of the causes and prevention of crime before we can hope to achieve a breakthrough in this field. But it remains our clear duty today, in the light of our present knowledge and experience, to make the improvements which that knowledge and experience suggests. It is my sincere belief that the Bill achieves this limited but worthwhile objective, and I commend it to the House.
§ 4.25 p.m.
§ Mr. William Ross (Kilmarnock)
I am sure that everyone echoes the last sentiment expressed by the Secretary of State that the Bill will achieve its limited objectives. As to whether it will or will not achieve the highest or even the lowest of our hopes, I think that we must temper our judgment by reflecting on what has happened in the past.
It was in 1949 that my right hon. Friend the Member for East Stirlingshire (Mr. Woodburn) introduced the last major Bill on criminal justice. Everything that is proposed in this Bill for 662 the treatment of young offenders was provided for in that Bill, and at that time power was taken to ensure that with the development of the appropriate institutions young offenders up to twenty-one would not mingle with adult prisoners in gaol. Power was given by Order in Council to take steps to this end, and many of the institutions about which the right hon. Gentleman spoke today, and some about which he did not speak, remand centres, and detention centres, were provided for in that Act of fourteen years ago.
When the right hon. Gentleman expresses his thanks, in which we join, to the S.A.C.T.O.—I get mixed up with all these initials; I always think that it is something to do with the Supreme Allied Commander—I hope that he will appreciate that when the Scottish Advisory Committee on the Treatment of Offenders sought a remand centre there was none in Scotland, and that, when it sought a detention centre, again there was none in Scotland. Indeed, when we make these bold statements about research, about our knowledge, and so on, let us appreciate that the Committee had to come to England to look at a detention centre.
During the last twelve years the Government have not done their duty in providing for young offenders. Let us remember that the S.A.C.T.O. said that this was no longer a "hit-and-miss" business. In other wards, we can benefit from the research which has been going on in other places, particularly in England, where work has been going on under a research unit established in 1955. We could, therefore, have applied methods which were more than just hit and miss to improve the treatment of young offenders in Scotland.
In 1949 we wanted to clear out of our prisons all young people under 17, and progressively raise the age to 21. At the moment, however, in Scotland there are more young people under 21 in prison than in our one detention centre or borstal institutions. This is a very serious matter. More than 1,200 of them are in prison. And it must be remembered that our prisons are bulging. There are more people in prison today than at any time since 1914. We have less crime, but the daily prison population is higher than it has been for forty years. Year by year we see 663 the prison population increasing alarmingly.
I can only recall once again what was said by the party opposite in 1949 to my right hon. Friend the Member for East Stirlingshire, when the number of prisoners was 1,900. At the end of the last year for which we have figures, the number was over 3,000—an increase of over 50 per cent. And still we do not know all the reasons. I will tell the right hon. Gentleman some of the reasons. He has managed to make a speech about some aspects of Scottish life without blaming low rents. We ought to congratulate him on that. We have had a Minister trotting round the country, and coming to Scotland recently, deploring the lowering of standards and the undermining of traditional institutions. He is right.
In the three years since all these reports were printed to what have we, as Scots, been dedicating our legislative activities? The Betting, Gaming and Lotteries Bill and the Licensing (Scotland) Bill. We have been making it easier for people to gamble and to get alcoholic liquor—creating an atmosphere of materialistic selfishness that runs counter to what we seek to do, namely, raise the tone of the nation. The right hon. Gentleman knows that it is not so easy today far parents to fulfil their tasks, with all the new pressures upon them from the mass media of communication, whether it be in the Sunday newspapers or what we get every night. We are nightly victims of death, drama, triviality and Daz. All these have the effect of creating a certain atmosphere and mood.
We should get back to the idea that the proper study of mankind is man and not the moon, and that there is more to deal with than the materialistic and environmental aspects; that although we solve questions of poverty, housing and the rest, our social sciences have not kept abreast, and we have not devoted nearly enough money to research in this matter. We have been guilty of spiritual neglect. At the same time, we have been building up forces which render it more and more difficult for this to be remedied.
I come now to the Bill. It is a patchwork of penal change. There is no broad theme running through it; indeed, there are sometimes contradictory themes. We 664 are certainly grateful to S.A.C.T.O. for what it has done, and to Lord Guthrie's Committee for its work on legal aid—and we are still awaiting the Report of the Kilbrandon Committee—but I wonder to what extent the Bill has been brought forward because of the physical state of affairs in relation to our prisons, prisoners and courts. Our prisons are bulging and our courts are overcrowded, and if our courts are overcrowded they cannot do the kind of job that we want them to do, namely, to select the right treatment for young or old offenders.
We must face this problem. What we are doing here is to throw more work on to the courts. If some of these changes are carried out it will make it even more necessary for us to ensure that the right of individuals to have legal aid in order to defend themselves is preserved, in the changed situation that has arisen. This is not easy.
We now have these new young offenders' institutions. Everybody will agree with the Secretary of State that, as far as possible, we must keep young people out of prison, and prevent them from mixing with adult and hardened criminals. All the Reports tell us that in present conditions, if they are in the same prison, it is impossible to prevent that. More than that, we must avoid a familiarity with prisons being acquired at an early age.
For some of these youngsters this familiarity has become a matter of boasting. They say that it does not mean a thing. It is often much more effective to fine people and to make sure that they pay the fine than it is to send them to prison. Some talk of sending people to prison without the option of a fine, but in some cases it would be much more effective if they were fined without the option of imprisonment. I will return to that matter later.
Surely the whole point is that if we are to keep these young people out of prison, we have a choice between the sharp shock of the detention centre, one or two years' borstal training—I was looking round to see whether my hon. Friend the Member for Chesterfield (Sir G. Benson) was here, because in 1949 we changed the period of borstal detention from two years to three years and he objected; here we are reverting to a term of two years—and, thirdly, the new young offenders' institution, which will 665 take the place of imprisonment for those between the ages of 17 and 21.
If we are to select the right punishment for a particular offender we must be armed with the full knowledge of the person. We must know how he is likely to respond, and what treatment is likely to be effective in achieving what is desirable, from the point of view of the ultimate protection of the public, namely, that the person concerned should emerge as a reformed character. This must always be our aim, although treatment will still be punishment and involve the loss of freedom.
We must have the information. Where are we to get it? Have we the staffs? Have we the remand centres? We have not. We have only one. Is it really a remand centre? I gather that it is called a remand unit. As far as I can read the prison reports, it was originally intended to be part of the borstal institution at Polmont. But it may be, as I have heard suggested, that it is but an annexe to Barlinnie. Have we the proper staff there to prepare all these reports adequately, concerning background, mental condition, and the likelihood of response to treatment. If, as S.A.C.T.O. says, we are beyond the "hit and miss" stage in this matter, we can only take advantage of that situation if we get all the necessary information. It means that the court must have time properly to assimilate all the relevant information and then decide.
In 1949, the late Mr. Walter Elliot asked why, in respect of a young offender—and at that time a young offender was a person under 17; now it is a person under 21—if the case was dealt with by the lowest summary court, namely, the magistrates' court, and there had to be a custodial sentence, written reasons had to be given, whereas in the sheriff court there was no insistence upon written reasons. I suppose the idea is that the sheriff is a trained legal man. But we are coming more and more, after conviction and with decision as to sentence, to something that is not a legal decision.
It may well be that a long experience in the law may prove a bar to proper decisions; that there already exist built-in ideas of how to deal with people. Ideas have to be changed probably even in the sheriff courts as well as elsewhere. The Minister should think seriously whether we want a proper assimilation in 666 relation to these reports, and whether first there should be an adequate preparation of a report and then adequate consideration in all our summary courts.
It is one of our great weaknesses in Scotland that we make do with the second best. We shall get the best results from our institutions only if they are properly staffed and also adequate and suitable for the purpose. It was, I think, Lord Craigton, the Minister of State in another place, who, in a moment of forgetfulness, said that we have already got one remand centre. He was boasting of having achieved that after fourteen years. We have already got one offenders' institution. But, let us face it, that is the ancient prison of Dumfries. It became a closed borstal, and now it has been given a coat of paint and is to be given a new name.
I do not know that this is always the best way to deal with these things. We have had time to make preparation and to get appropriate detention centres and remand centres and we have not done too well about it. So let us not play upon this business of the intractable position and the fact that we have tried this and that. We have tried very little. In Scotland we have given ourselves less chance to get research carried out. Some research has been done in England that we might well have done had we tackled the problem much earlier.
I wish to move on to the question of the new policy for fines. The decision is that we should make the fines much more realistic, from £10 to £50 in the lower courts—the magistrates' court—and from £25 to £250 in the sheriff courts. That is a tremendous jump. At the same time, the Minister is concerned about the number of people who go to prison because they cannot pay a fine. I think it fairly logical to argue that if people could not pay smaller fines, they may not be able to pay bigger fines——
§ Mr. Ross
I do not know whether I talked over this matter with my hon. Friend, but he should not steal my thunder. We are making arrangements to pay 667 by instalments and my hon. Friend underestimates the gentleman concerned if he thinks that that gentleman would fail to see that there might be business in this for himself.
I am sorry that my hon. Friend the Member for South Ayrshire (Mr. Emrys Hughes) is not present in the Chamber, because he had something to do with the question of payment by instalments in relation to the 1949 Act. We are faced with this dilemma. We have to make the fines realistic. But it also means that the court, when deciding the fine, will need to accept the letter and the spirit of the law and consider whether a person can pay. A small fine may prove a heavy burden to someone whose resources are small, whereas, obviously, even a maximum fine would be small to someone with considerable resources. With proper administration we could adjust these things. But, here again, we are at the mercy of the discretion of the courts.
I sincerely hope that this will be considered from the point of view of our desire to keep people out of prisons. At present, 40 per cent. of the men received into prison in Scotland during last year and 55 per cent. of the women went there because they could not pay a fine. That represents almost one in four and the figure amounts to well over 4,000. I sincerely hope that the new provisions in respect of instalments and the possibility of a person coming back to court without having to face an automatic prison sentence in default of payment of a fine will work well because in itself this should prove helpful.
It is also a good thing that while a person is paying his fine by instalments he should be subject to supervision. This could be beneficial and might ensure that people did not fall behind with their instalments. I was troubled by the fact that although there is power for the courts to administer the law in this way, in certain areas it is not done. I am glad to say that in Kilmarnock it is done and that should be the attitude elsewhere. In Kilmarnock, the courts will not exercise the power to put a person into prison for default unless it is appreciated that the person concerned is trying to "get away with it" and has no intention of paying a fine.
§ Mr. John Brewis (Galloway)
Would the hon. Member go as far as to say 668 that if a person who has been fined, and has been put under supervision while paying his fine, behaves himself for a considerable period, the courts might have the power to excuse him from paying the remainder of the fine, on the advice of the supervisor?
§ Mr. Ross
That is a point which might be considered during our Committee stage discussions. I think that it is covered by the Statute, that if the circumstances of a person change the circumstances in relation to the fine may change. But it is a moot point whether "changed circumstances" might be construed as a change in the behaviour of a man rather than in his ability to pay.
I wish to refer to the question of aftercare generally. I feel that the Government have not made up their mind about this and that it is time that they did. The probation service in Scotland has built itself up into a very fine service indeed and is working closely with the courts. Very often it is in touch with possible future offenders as well as actual offenders. It is one of the sad features that sometimes these things run in families and it may well be that in many cases we could tackle this problem by treating it as a family problem from the aspect of the social worker and meet the trouble before it arises.
The right hon. Gentleman takes great care, over the supervision in respect of borstal lads who are out on licence and in respect of the year which is now statutory in relation to detention centre offenders, not to stipulate that they shall be supervised by a person or society. It is about time that the Minister made up his mind. It may well be that he is waiting for a further report. We have to make preparations to deal with this. We have to expand whichever service it is to be. So far as I can see, we must have a national service in respect of this matter and the probation service is there, ready and experienced and with a system of training, and would be able properly and adequately to do this work.
I should have liked very much to talk about approved schools, but I see in the Chamber my hon. Friend the Member for Glasgow, Bridgeton (Mr. J. Bennett), who knows plenty about them. I should also have liked to cover the whole aspect of penal reform and new ideas about the 669 treatment of offenders. I am glad to see my hon. Friend the Member for Glasgow, Woodside (Mr. Carmichael) in his place. I see hon. Members present who are much more experienced in many of these aspects of the Bill than I am, but I want to say a word or two about legal aid.
Legal aid was another thing which we decided in 1949. There is no argument about legal aid. The House of Commons decided fourteen years ago that it should be provided, and a very comprehensive system of legal aid in respect of criminal cases was introduced. We have had the benefit of the Guthrie Committee's Report. That Report appreciated the administrative difficulties which would be involved if we were to apply a financial test and then try, thereafter, on the basis of future income, not only to determine but to collect contributions in respect of that. Therefore, the Committee decided that contributions were out. The Committee provided a scheme which did not give such comprehensive cover as did the scheme of my right hon. Friend the Member for East Stirlingshire in 1949.
Now we have the Government scheme, or at least a sketch of it. Four lines in the Schedule are devoted to it. But as far as I can see it is whittling away still further the suggestions made by Lord Guthrie's Committee. We have to balance the matter in relation to the rights which individuals in Scotland have had for over 500 years. I think it right to say that as far as the legal profession is concerned, it has over all the centuries done more voluntary and free work than any other profession, not only in this country but anywhere in the world. We have every reason to be proud of what it has done, and I think that that profession will be the first to realise that now the system is on the point of a breakdown.
We remember the position which arose in Glasgow, where there was a strike. People discovered that they were unrepresented, and the sheriff had something to say about it. It may well be that there was a breakdown in communication between the client and the poor person's solicitor and the agent. In some areas the system is still working well, but in the more populous areas the burden is far too heavy to be carried. To my mind, what we want is a much more comprehensive preservation of the rights that now exist and we are not 670 getting that in respect of legal aid as provided in the Bill.
I hope that when we come to the Committee stage of the Bill we shall be able to go into this matter and try to make some improvements. I know the difficulties. I think that one of them, about which the Government are concerned, is the effect which this will have on the courts, because the courts are overworked at present. If criminal cases are to have rights and if those rights are met by a proper legal aid system, then, of course, we shall probably have more contested cases and a further slowing up in the work of the courts. Therefore, we are balancing the rights of the individual against the position into which, by the very growth of crime in Scotland, we shall be placed.
Clause 32 will be one of the most contested Clauses in the Bill. I assure the right hon. Gentleman that there is little or no political disputation about the Bill as a whole, but there will be plenty of controversy about this Clause. Clause 32, as I appreciate, goes back to the position which was remedied in 1949 and which had existed from 1926 until that year. It was a position which was deplored by most agents, solicitors and counsel. It meant that the sentence of a man who appealed, even though he was in gaol all the time pending the appeal, started after the appeal had been decided. This was so unfair that it was wiped out by my right hon. Friend in 1949. But now we are returning to that position, without any real reason being given for so doing. I wonder whether this matter, which is so obviously unfair and which cannot be justified either on grounds of need or equity, is related to the fear that appeals with legal aid support might increase as a result of this Measure. I do not think that the fear is really justified. It is certainly not justified by the circumstances.
I had a look at the Report on Prisons in Scotland to see just exactly what was happening. As far as I can remember, the figures were as follows: 225 prisoners appealed, 93 or 94 withdrew their appeals, about another 90 appeals were dismissed, which left 55 for decision. Of the 55 for decision, five were upheld, there were 10 in which the sentence was reduced, there were 15 others, I think, in which the appeal was rejected and there 671 were still some awaiting decision. This was the measure of the problem.
For the life of me I cannot think that it is necessary to say that if a man who is in gaol appeals and loses his appeal his sentence shall start from that time. It is most unfair. Supposing a man appealed and was granted bail, which he was able to provide, he would be free pending the appeal. This is not equity. It means that if a man can afford bail he only serves the actual sentence, whereas in the case of a man who cannot afford bail, if his appeal is dismissed, he not only serves the actual sentence but a period in prison between his application to appeal and the deciding of the appeal. It is palpably unfair. It was a situation which we were glad to get rid of in 1949 and we should not return to it in 1963. I sincerely hope that we shall be able to convince the right hon. Gentleman in Committee. By the way, I hope that we shall see him in Committee.
§ Mr. Deputy Speaker (Sir William Anstruther-Gray)
I hope that the hon. Member will take me into his confidence, also.
§ Mr. Ross
I apologise Mr. Deputy Speaker; I did not realise that I was whispering.
We are faced with a very technical Bill, the kind of Bill on which we should have the legal advice which only the Lord Advocate can give, but we never even see the right hon. and learned Gentleman. I remind hon. Members that when we finished the 1949 Criminal Justice Bill the late Mr. Walter Elliot paid tribute to the Lord Advocate of that date, Lord Wheatley, and said that but for his helpfulness and the benefit of his knowledge, experience and detailed preparation we could not have got that Bill through so satisfactorily.
We shall be placed in the position of not having a Law Officer for Scotland on the Government Front Bench during the time that we are dealing with the Bill. I hope that it will not be left to the noble Lady the Under-Secretary. She will have a bad enough time as it is, 672 without being left to herself. We have been told by the Prime Minister that the Member who is to answer for the Lord Advocate in his enforced absence is the Secretary of State for Scotland, so I hope that we shall have the benefit of his legal knowledge in Committee.
I want to find out about the misprint in Clause 17. I hope that the explanation was not "off the cuff", nor off the brief. So far as I interpret Clause 17—my hon. Friend the Member for Glasgow, Scotstoun (Mr. Small) will be concerned about this because it makes a considerable change in relation to the First Offenders (Scotland) Act, which he was able to get on to the Statute Book—it means that an absolute discharge or sentence of probation which hitherto did not carry a conviction will now be construed as a conviction. Such a person will then no longer be a first offender. All the protections, certainly in relation to a person over 21, go with that. It is a very strange misprint. I hope that it was a misprint which led the right hon. Gentleman to make the statement rather than anything else.
I am also far from satisfied with Clause 30. This, again, is a matter for the Lord Advocate and the Solicitor-General for Scotland. It is a considerable break from Scottish tradition that after all these years of advice given in respect of protection of young offenders something will be done which will affect all this.
The Secretary of State posed a question and answer, whether this was a "tough" or a "soft" Bill, and said that it was neither. Under sheriff court summary procedure a man can be sentenced,instead of six months, to one year on the maximum, and we should realise that that one year will automatically, by Statute, carry supervision for yet another year. By legal aid he could be denied by that same court protection which is now afforded. This could be construed as a rather tough and unfair Bill. We have to control these things and find whether this is just and right.
On the whole, the intentions and hopes of the Bill are right. I sincerely hope that when we discuss these things in Committee we shall do so in the spirit of ensuring that the public is protected and that that protection does not mean unthinking punishment, but that there is 673 always an element of possibility of reformation, which, eventually, is the real protection the public can get. Let us never forget that behind all this is a tremendous amount of cruelty, of hardship, of distress for victims, and that there is heartbreak and distress for the parents of people who have fallen by the way.
I sincerely hope that in that spirit we shall be able to make this Bill, which is better than when it entered another place, emerge from our deliberations better than it is now.
§ 5.5 p.m.
§ Sir Thomas Moore (Ayr)
I do not propose to follow the hon. Member for Kilmarnock (Mr. Ross) in what he said because I agree with practically all he has said, particularly in regard to the inexcusable delay in implementing the proposals contained in the 1949 Act. That has led to a congestion in our prisons which is quite intolerable.
The increase in crime, especially among the young, is a very frightening by-product of our affluent society, as it is now the habit to call it. What is the meaning of it? What is the cause of it? Many suggestions have been made, but no one can give a definite and true answer. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Scotland has referred to broken homes as one of the reasons. No doubt that is part of the reason, but in many cases the children—that is all many of them are—come from quite good homes and have been thought of by their mothers and fathers as the light of their eyes. Yet somehow or other when they get into a crowd or a mass heaven knows what might happen. That is the problem with which we are faced.
As we know, this is not confined to Scotland, although at one time, oddly enough, Scotland was remarkably free from crime, especially crimes of violence. Unfortunately, we cannot say that today. For instance, in 1938 juvenile crime was only 10 per cent. of total crime in the country. In 1958 it had risen to 25 per cent. in the country as a whole. Last year it was 31 per cent. in Scotland alone. That is a fantastic rise. This Bill seeks to do something about it, but we all have a responsibility which we cannot ignore.
One of the reasons may be the very welcome increase in our police force 674 in Scotland; 346 officers came into the force in 1961. That probably would mean that more offenders, both young and old, were caught. But surely it is the prevention of crime that we are all seeking rather than the apprehension of the criminal. The House well knows my views on the subject of prevention. I have explained them at length, sometimes ad nauseam, especially when we have been discussing the 1961 Act. So I shall not refer to corporal punishment as an alternative. Successive Parliaments have refused to accept that form of punishment, in which I still believe. Therefore, I shall leave it at that, but I am intensely opposed to prison for the young. I would never send a first offender to prison under any circumstances, nor even do what I saw suggested in a report the other day by a Mr. Cronin of the Prison Officers' Association, send him to borstal. I was shocked at the criticisms made of borstal institutions.
I have examined the Bill very sympathetically and carefully and, on the whole, I think it one of the most intelligent Bills—this is the one point on which I cannot agree with the hon. Member for Kilmarnock—that has been introduced by this Government or any other. Because it incorporates all my ideas except one, I feel that I must warmly welcome it. One old principle to which the hon. Member referred it reaffirms strongly. That is the necessity to segregate young offenders from older and hardened criminals.
I well remember during our discussions in Committee on the 1961 Bill referring to a case of a young boy, a constituent of mine, who was barely 16. He was sentenced by the local court to borstal for a quite trivial offence—breaking and entering, taking cigarettes or chocolates, or something of that sort. As often happens, there were no vacancies in any borstal institution. Hon. Members may believe it or not, but that boy was sent to Barlinnie of all places, well known for its crime-hardened inmates. Again hon. Members may believe it or not, but he was kept there for three months until I got to hear of it. That is bureaucracy gone mad. There must be some other means of keeping a young child—that is what this boy practically was—under supervision. He could have been put on probation for a 675 while or something like that. How can anyone believe that it would be anything but a near-miracle if that boy emerged from Barlinnie undefiled in both body and mind?
Perhaps I digress from the main principle of the Bill, or what I regard as one of the main principles. It is a new one. I refer to the young offenders institutions dealt with in Clauses 2 and 11. I want to know much more about these institutions. What exactly are they? They are not described in the Bill. What will be their curriculum or curricula? How many will there be? Will they be erected, or will existing buildings be altered? Is discipline to be a major feature of the curriculum? There was a very good article in the Evening News the night before last on this question of discipline. The article referred to these young offenders' institutions. Discipline, hard work, open air, the normal healthy activities which would be enjoyed by young persons, are and should be the most important factors at these institutions.
I note that the Bill lays much stress on heavier monetary penalties. I am very much in agreement with that. However, if the young person concerned cannot pay or does not want to pay the financial penalty he is sent to prison. This is exactly what we do not want to happen. We must find some other method of forcing payment of the fine. If there is a direct and flagrant refusal on the part of the young offender to pay anything, out of sheer cussedness, I agree that he must be sent for discipline to some form of borstal or detention centre or to one of these new institutions. When the culprit cannot pay—cannot, as distinct from will not—there should be a provision in the Bill making the parents share the responsibility for the misdeeds of their children. I am sure that we are all agreed that character, or the lack of it, is largely formed in the home, although later schools play their part. Parents should not be able to evade their responsibilities when their children are in trouble through the parents having avoided their responsibilities earlier.
I am glad to note that after care will be compulsory, because I believe that after care, especially for young people, is most 676 important. First offenders especially are nearly all young and at an impressionable age and therefore much more subject to kindly, sympathetic and helpful after care. I agree with the hon. Member for Kilmarnock that the more difficult problem arises in connection with those who have spent two, three or four years in prison or who have returned to prison. They have lost or broken a great many of their home and social ties. They are now accustomed to prison as part of their lives. I hope, therefore, that the Secretary of State will be very careful in the selection of those who are to supervise these prisoners in their after care. None of us wants anyone to go back to prison if this can be avoided. We must ensure by every means in the power of the Secretary of State that a young offender who comes out of prison does not return. If he gets another sentence of imprisonment, he will think that there is nothing in it. Or he will think that there is something to boast about, especially if he has been sent to a proper prison such as Barlinnie. It is indeed then something to boast about that he mixes with some of the best known criminals in Scotland. I therefore hope that after care will be treated at a matter of the greatest importance.
The hon. Member for Kilmarnock mentioned the provision in conection with legal aid. Oddly enough, only a few days ago I received a letter from one of my constituents. I should like to know if what she says is correct. She says this:I am the mother of the 13 year old boy found guilty along with a 12 year old boy of setting fire to St. Margaret's Roman Catholic School, Ayr, in October, 1962. I could not consider an appeal in my son's case as I could not afford the £80 asked for by my solicitor in the trial. Owing to my husband being off work through illness quite a lot and the fact that I have three other children. …Surely this is not correct—£80 to lodge an appeal! If it is true, I certainly hope that the proposals contained in the Bill, especially when we get it in Committee, will make it possible for anyone, no matter what his financial circumstances are, to have free legal aid if necessary. With the remaining provisions of the Bill I am broadly in agreement, so I wish it godspeed through its remaining stages.
§ 5.18 p.m.
§ Mr. Thomas Steele (Dunbartonshire, West)
The Secretary of State for Scotland must be delighted that on this Bill 677 being introduced there should be so much agreement between my hon. Friend the Member for Kilmarnock (Mr. Ross) and the hon. Member for Ayr (Sir T. Moore). I am looking forward to the Committee stage and to the efforts of my hon. Friend, on the one hand, and those of the hon. Gentleman, on the other, in pressing the improvements all of us will want to see made to the Bill.
Like my hon. Friend the Member for Kilmarnock, I am of the view that the Bill should be called the Criminal Justice (Scotland) (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill, because there is no real theme running through it. Unlike my hon. Friend, who questioned why it should be brought in at this time, I would rather ask why there has been so much delay in bringing it forward. The English Measure is already on the Statute Book. This Measure was mentioned in the Gracious Speech last year. Naturally I welcome the Bill and, like my hon. Friend, think that it is a step forward in the right direction, although it has taken a long time for it to be introduced. It deals with the difficult problems involved in handling crime and criminals.
As my hon. Friend the Member for Kilmarnock said, legislation is not the all-important item to be considered when dealing with this problem. It is equally essential to bring the provisions of the 1949 Act into operation and ensure that the existing powers of the Secretary of State are fully used. I was most interested in the excellent speech made by my hon. Friend the Member for Kilmarnock. It showed attention to detail and that my hon. Friend had probed deeply into the true meaning of the Bill's provisions. He also gave us a good deal of philosophy and good sense; and that represents his approach to the matter.
My hon. Friend said that in many aspects Scotland was lagging behind England in its approach to the problem. I have asked myself whether there is something wrong with the Scottish character or whether it is our general approach to these matters which is wrong, because there is always so much criticism of the way in which we handle these matters. I have also been wondering whether it is merely our method of administration which is wrong. I agree that the Secretary of State cannot personally supervise every aspect of all 678 matters for which he is responsible. He has such multifarious duties to perform that that would be impossible. However, one sometimes gets the impression that Scotland is suffering from the way it approaches these subjects. England is further ahead in the administration of criminal justice in all its aspects and I have been wondering whether that is because there is a senior Cabinet Minister clearly responsible for these things in England.
I appreciate that when my right lion. Friend the Member for South Shields (Mr. Ede) was Home Secretary in the Labour Government he had a desire to do something to improve the existing state of affairs. I also appreciate that the right hon. Gentleman the present First Secretary brought a good deal of influence to bear on his Department. There is no doubt that that influence, ability and pressure on the Cabinet enabled him to introduce some improvements. Nevertheless, it must be disappointing to the officials responsible in Scotland and others interested in this subject that we are lagging behind England and Wales.
The Minister paid a tribute to me for my work on the Committee which went into this matter. It was a new experience for me and I enjoyed it very much, but during my period on the Committee I was always conscious of my lack of knowledge of these matters. I would like, therefore, to pay a tribute to the other members of the Committee for bearing with me in our discussions. I only hope that I was able to contribute something to our many meetings.
It is not my intention tonight to refer to the Bill in detail. I would rather listen to the comments of hon. Members, for in Committee we will have a better opportunity to go into the individual provisions. I wish to deal with only one question; the probation service in Scotland, because there seems to be a general reluctance on the part of those concerned to give the Service the status to which it is entitled. When my right hon. Friend the Member for East Stirlingshire (Mr. Woodburn) introduced the 1949 Act he said:Experience has shown the value of the probation system, but this has been used far too little in Scotland."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 20th October, 1949; Vol. 468, c, 768.]The then Lord Advocate reinforced that statement in his winding-up speech. One 679 is disturbed to learn that in the findings of the Morison Committee thirteen years later exactly the same point was made; that the probation service in Scotland was not being used to the same extent as in England and Wales.
Naturally, the Scottish probation service is extremely concerned about this and, in this connection, it is worth considering the system used for arriving at salaries and conditions in England and Wales compared with Scotland. In England and Wales there is the Joint Negotiating Committee of the probation service on which the probation service is represented in its own right. In Scotland there is the National Joint Industrial Council. It has a Probation Officers' Committee, although the probation service as such is not represented as an organisation and the probation officers must be members of their own Association and also members of N.A.L.G.O. to enable them to negotiate their own salaries and conditions.
When the Morison Committee reported on 15th March last year the Home Secretary asked the negotiating body in England and Wales for its comments on that Report. The Secretary of State also asked the appropriate body in Scotland for its comments. The negotiating body for England and Wales recommended a 10 per cent. increase in salaries, pending further consideration, and this was put to the Home Secretary who, at that time, was in difficulties with the Government. I will not go into those difficulties. Suffice it to say that he turned down the 10 per cent. and agreed to a 2½ per cent. increase—the same 2½ per cent. which was being offered all round, so I suppose that one cannot blame the Home Secretary too much for his attitude at that time. This was turned down by the probation officers, but the increase came into operation on 1st April, 1962. Negotiations were resumed in October, when not only did the negotiating body accept the recommendations of the Morison Committee but an immediate increase took effect on 1st January, and the total increase will be in payment by December, 1964.
What has happened in Scotland? In Scotland, the Secretary of State acted in exactly the same way, and asked the Probation Officers' Committee to comment, but its chairman said that it was not 680 prepared to accept the recommendations of the Morison Report. He did not appear to have any knowledge of the purpose of the meeting, and not only did our probation officers not get the 2½ per cent. offered to the probation officers in England and Wales but they were told that they would not get anything at all.
At a later meeting, the employers offered the probation officers a 3½ per cent. increase in salary as a full implementation of the Morison Report. That was naturally turned down. Since agreement could not be reached, a dispute has been declared, and the whole affair has gone to the Industrial Court. The settlement reached in England and Wales means that the man there in the basic grade now receives at his maximum £250 a year more than his opposite number in Scotland.
A committee having been set up to examine salaries and conditions, it is ridiculous that the officers in England and Wales should accept its recommendations but that the body of Scotland should turn them down completely so that the matter has to go to an Industrial Court which can only accept the Morison Committee's Report. It is an indication of the attitude of the employers and others concerned towards the probation service generally, and until that attitude can be changed the service cannot be used as it should be.
The Morison Report said quite clearly thatIn Scotland there has, in general, been a narrower conception of the functions of the serviceIt went on to say:… we do not believe that they can be removed by simple administrative or legislalative acts".One wonders whether the traditions and public opinion of Scotland are such that we are narrow minded, bigotted and harsh in our approach to these matters. I am not prepared to accept that we are, but there must be some underlying reason for the fact that in these matters we lag behind England.
I am sure that most Members will agree that there has been some misuse of short sentences of imprisonment. When one reads in the 1961 Report that out of a total of 12,350 offenders taken into prison, 11,290 were admitted for terms of less than six months, one can 681 the better understand the problem. If 90 per cent. of those in Scottish prisons are in for such a short period, there is something wrong, and there is not very much that one can do. In such a short period, the idea of rehabilitation is quite nonsensical. Here, again, we fall far below England, where the figure is 70 per cent., though many of those interested say that that percentage, too, is much too high.
The problem is not one of legislation. The Secretary of State said that we must have the courts making wise use of their powers. It is only natural that the S.A.C.T.O. report could not criticise the courts to any great extent because the decision must rest with the person concerned, but anyone who has given any attention to the matter must know that there is something wrong, now that we have so many different alternatives, and can decide whether a person should go to a detention centre, to borstal, to young offenders institutions—of which there are so many—or to prison. It is right and necessary that the courts should be properly advised.
I should like here to pay a tribute to Sheriff Prain of Perth and to Mr. Harold Leslie, Q.C., the chairman of our committee, both of whom are very much concerned with this matter. In conjunction with the Scottish Office, they have been holding weekend conferences to which magistrates and others have been invited so that all these problems can be considered. I hope that the Secretary of State will ensure that all possible assistance will be given to those who are prepared to undertake this work, as it is a very necessary and essential part of our administration if our legislation is to be made effective. Those administering the law must know exactly what the penalties are, and what we are trying to do. I hope that many more of these conferences will be held.
As at present organised, the probation service may not be too helpful. The Morison Committee has already reported on its organisation in Scotland, and I should like to know what the Secretary of State intends to do. It is quite a time since the Report was issued, and full use of probation will not come from the present organisation. There must be a drive from the centre to enable the work to be done.
682 The one thing that my hon. Friend the Member for Chesterfield (Sir G. Benson) has always said—though whether he is right or wrong I do not know—is that whether offenders are sent to borstal, to detention or to prison the statistics show that the rate of re-conviction is always the same. If that is true, it is much better to send them to detention for two months than to borstal for eighteen months—or, at least, it is less expensive, which I think would appeal to the Secretary of State. If probation is even less expensive than the others, there is all the more reason why we should ensure that it is much more widely used. I hope that this will be done.
I come now to a point which is related to something said by the hon. Member for Ayr about supervision and aftercare. I have a problem here in that the report of the Scottish Advisory Council on the Treatment of Offenders, of which I was a member, and with whose conclusions I am familiar, has not yet been produced. I am, therefore, somewhat inhibited in what I should like to say, but I hope that the Secretary of State will not take it amiss if I put one particular problem to him. It arises in connection with the whole subject of supervision.
The Secretary of State has not yet made up his mind about how all this is to be done. I am anxious to ensure that he does not, by this legislation, prevent himself from taking any action which he might wish to take. I want whatever decision he takes not to be inhibited by any words in the Bill; otherwise, it might be a long time before we had further legislation. I hope that he will accept my criticism in that spirit.
Supervision after borstal is covered by the Prisons (Scotland) Act, 1952, Section 33 (3) of which says that a person shall beunder the supervision of such society or person as may be specified in a notice to be given to him by the Secretary of State".It makes perfectly clear that it is within the jurisdiction of the Secretary of State to decide what he will do. We have the same situation in regard to the detention under this Bill. There is compulsory supervision, but it is open to the Secretary of State to say how it shall be done. The same is true in regard to the young offenders institutions. Clause 13 (1) uses the words "such society or person".
683 I draw to the attention of the Secretary of State that there is a variation when we come to people released from prison. Although the S.A.C.T.O., in a sub-committee of which I was not a member, said that young people released from prison ought to be under the supervision of the probation service—I do not quarrel with that—I point out in passing to the Secretary of State that, if we refer to paragraph 1 of Schedule 1, as we are directed to do by Clause 15, we find that the words areunder the supervision of the Society".The definition of "the Society" is given in paragraph 12 of the same Schedule, and we find that this is the After Care Council. Again, in paragraph 2, there is a reference to a personbeing an officer of the Society or any other person authorised by the Society".This makes quite clear that supervision must be done by the After Care Council.
It seems to me that the Secretary of State is limited by these words. I hope that he will clarify the position so that, when we reach the Committee stage, we shall have not only these words but further words such as those we find in other provisions, namely, "such society or person". If this were done, the matter would be cleared up and we should be sure that the Secretary of State had complete freedom to do whatever he thought right.
I do not pretend to be an expert about after care. One of my hon. Friends who has done a great deal of research takes the view that there is very little value in it. I do not know. I am not sure that I agree with that view. However, it is a fact that we are very lacking in information and the results of research. In Scotland, in a smaller community where the numbers are not so great, we should have the opportunity to do research in a much better way, and I hope that something will be done in that direction.
There is one thing of which I am quite convinced. There can be a great number of different bodies and authorities associated with the treatment of one offender. I am not criticising any person or group. It seems to me that this is how things have happened. Like Topsy, it has just "growed". There has been a problem, and one group or other has come along to tackle it; there has been another 684 problem tackled by someone else, and so it has gone on. The apparatus has, at it were, developed in sections. We have the local authority's child welfare officers, the inspectors of the N.S.P.C.C., the approved school welfare officers, the after care service for borstal and prison, the probation officers, the Council of Social Service, the Discharged Prisoners Aid Society, the National Assistance Board, the W.V.S., the religious bodies, and many others. They are all interested and many good people are associated with their work.
Some are trained personnel but many are not. Because of the nature of their work, several representatives from various bodies may be going into one home. It seems to me that, with our present scarcity of personnel, any overlapping or waste of trained manpower is wrong. Moreover, with all the various groupings, there being only a certain number of cases, there is to some extent a lack of opportunity for the promotion of those concerned.
I agree with my hon. Friend the Member for Kilmarnock when he says that the family, not necessarily the individual, may be the problem. Many people interested in this subject nowadays are thinking much more in terms of the family rather than the individual. Within one home there may be someone who has been in borstal being supervised by an after-care officer. The child welfare officer will be coming in to look after the children. Another son may be on probation. All these different people are looking after them, and it is a family problem. The more I am associated with these matters, the more do I recognise that, in many instances, we face family problems rather than individual problems. The time has come to look at the whole subject and ensure that we make the best use of the skilled manpower we have.
I make a final plea for the probation officer in Scotland. Although he is the person with the experience and the training, he seems to be the Cinderella among the services. I trust that, in our discussions in Committee, we shall be able to ensure that something is done to put his position right. Also we must encourage the Scottish Office to arrange many more conferences and meetings where those who are interested can be brought together and where, in particular, 685 those who have to administer the law will gain good knowledge of what we are trying to do.
§ 5.50 p.m.
§ Mr. John Brewis (Galloway)
The hon. Member for Dunbartonshire, West (Mr. Steele) speaks with considerable knowledge owing to his membership of the Scottish Advisory Council on the Treatment of Offenders. We all echo what he has said about the probation service and the value of it. I understand that about 60 per cent. of all offenders who are put on probation do not come before the courts again, which is an extremely good record. There is, as the Report indicates, a great deal of research and work going on into the problem of rehabilitating prisoners in Scotland as well as in England, as appears from the various Reports which form the background of this Bill and with which the hon. Gentleman was associated.
Today, the emphasis must be on the rehabilitation of the prisoner by suitable sentences and suitable after care where possible, which is a tremendous contrast with what the Prime Minister William Pitt once said, namely, that transportation was the cheapest and most expedient way of dealing with criminals for the simple reason that no after care was necessary. In those days, too, there was hanging for many very small offences, which, of course, involved no after care, but in this day and age we have to have the rehabilitation and care of the criminal always very much in mind.
Reading the Reports, particularly the Annual Report about prisons, one gets the impression of a prison service consisting of many hardworking and, for much the greater part, dedicated men doing a difficult job, often in trying circumstances, and being overwhelmed with a wave of more and more prisoners sent to them, frequently with short sentences which do not give them time to effect any reformation. We must encourage in every possible way—and the hon. Member for Kilmarnock (Mr. Ross) referred to this, I think—liaison between those who have to give the sentence and those who have to carry out the reformation and after care of the prisoner.
Young members of the Bar have to pass an examination in criminal law. They are the people who subsequently become sheriffs-substitutes, sheriffs and 686 even judges of the High Court. They may never see the inside of a borstal. When they become judges their connection with the prisoner is for the period of the trial and the verdict, and after passing sentence they part with him completely. Yet that is one of the most important matters in dealing with the offender.
It is absolutely essential, since there are so many weapons open to a judge these days for dealing with juvenile offenders—approved schools, remand homes, borstals, detention centres and now a young offenders' institution—that the judge or lay magistrate who sentences the prisoner should have access to all the reports, medical and legal, on the prisoner. He must know the prisoner's background if he is to pass a sentence suitable for the case. For example, a prisoner may well be a cheerful extrovert hooligan. Obviously, he should go to a detention centre. A prisoner may be mentally ill and therefore a specialised institution may be much more suitable in his case.
Speaking from a legal point of view, it is much more logical that all the people concerned in the trial should have no knowledge of any previous convictions while the trial is in progress, but they must have time to study the record before sentence is passed. If we wish to keep this feature of Scots law, we must have better remand facilities, as is mentioned in the Reports. But I wonder whether that is the real answer. Should a young offender come before the court, be found guilty and then sent to a remand centre for several days? I cannot think that this is psychologically good for any person knowing that he is guilty and not knowing what will happen to him or for how long.
I much prefer the system by which the judge at the trial has before him, and him alone, a record of the previous history of the accused. The judges and sheriffs are so steeped in the legal traditions of giving a fair trial that I am sure that they would lean over backwards to ensure that there was no bias whatever in the way that the offender was tried.
If a man has gone straight for a number of years, there should be some provision by which his record can be expunged in time. I had a case in my constituency 687 in which a young man employed by the railways was sent at the age of 17 to prison for six months after having got mixed up with a gang of older men who had been stealing railway property. Eighteen years later, having had nothing else on his record at all and having been employed as a clerk by the Army with an exemplary rceord, I found it almost impossible to get him another job because he had had this one conviction. We should consider trying to take away after a certain number of years the stigma of a prison sentence.
The thing which is causing most public anxiety is the usual one of juvenile delinquency. It undoubtedly stems largely from an unstable family life, poor education facilities and lack of constructive leisure time occupations. We must work on the material which comes to hand, and it is not particularly good. Of the 13,090 offenders who were sent to prison in Scotland in 1961, only seven were described as being of superior education. The vast bulk were of the so-called army of the unskilled. Only nineteen of the 13,090 were previously in professional employment. The youth who comes before the courts mainly reflects the same material.
I should like to quote from a borstal governor's report dealing with the sort of person who goes to borstal. He says:The one thing common to most young men received here lies in their 'negativeness'. Now one seldom talks of a positive bad character but rather of a lack of character. This general trait of the negative is further portrayed in their lack of purpose outside, their slowness to act upon advice, instruction or warning, not as a display of resistance, but an indication of their satisfaction in low standards. This … poses a problem of training more complex than that of the more positive 'bad hat' who at least presented a foundation upon which to build.Another report states:The high figure of very disturbed lads handicapped by serious home and domestic problems appears to be increasing. Particularly noteworthy as a result of this background is the shameful lack of awareness of moral, social and religious standards.That is the sort of material with which the staff of borstals have to work.
I feel certain, as, I am sure, most hon. Members would agree, that corporal punishment is no answer to that negative sort of character who comes into borstals. If it is a question of the real "bad hat", 688 he is, perhaps, the easiest of all to be dealt with, because he can be sent to a detention centre, where the régime is just what he needs.
It is a compliment to the staff of borstals that 40 per cent. of those who go there do not offend again. It is a step forward that we are preventing boys who have been to borstal not being sent back there to contaminate such other boys undergoing training as they meet and also that we are able to transfer them to a young offenders' institution, which is much more suitable to the young recidivist.
There are six borstals in Scotland and another is planned at Norran Wood, in Angus. I wonder whether it is possible to get even more segregation among the boys who are sent to borstal. The hon. Member for Dunbartonshire, West mentioned the predictability factor by which it can be said that seven out of eight of the best group of boys will not return to borstal once they have undergone training there, while at the other end of the scale the proportion in the worst group is precisely the same figure inverted. In between, there are several groups in which different numbers of the offenders may return. Is it possible to use this scientific predictability to have, so to speak, good and bad borstals and to separate the categories of boys as much as possible?
In dealing with the sort of negative character of some of the boys at borstal, group counselling can be extremely useful in getting the boys to come out of themselves and to talk and think about themselves. Also, we have to keep always in mind the reformative value of religion in these institutions and the valuable work which is done by the chaplains.
Borstal has to be essentially reformative and the detention centres have to be a deterrent, but it would be a great mistake if it got around that borstals were a sort of university for thieves, in which one went into a dormitory and found it full of people lying in bed smoking, and that detention centres were a sort of Army "glasshouse" in which people never stopped running about. There must be an element of each in these institutions. Those who go to detention centres should also have a chance of improving their education and their skill, while we should 689 always emphasise that the régime at borstal should be hard, as befits somebody who has offended against the public.
I wonder whether my noble Friend the Parliamentary Secretary, when she replies, can say something about the distribution of these institutions over Scotland. I believe that we already have two detention centres, one senior and one junior, and that both of them are situated in Perth. We have, or are getting, a young offenders' institution to be situated in Dumfries. Surely, a more logical distribution would be to site them in the area of the main bulk of population, which is largely in the central belt of Scotland.
I am sure that before the debate is finished somebody will say that the problem is mainly one of bricks and mortar and the necessary building being provided and that these methods of reforming criminals have not yet been properly tried. There are throughout the country plenty of large houses which their owners would be only too pleased to sell. They are often in fine surroundings and spacious grounds and are much more suitable than an old converted prison to contain young offenders.
That is a course that the public schools in Scotland have adopted. I am thinking of Gordonstoun, which was housed originally in a private mansion, and of another similar school at Dall, near Loch Rannoch. It has been possible to convert them into excellent educational institutions at comparatively reasonable expense.
A further point is that one of the best forms of rehabilitation for the young offender is for him to have to do constructive work. I have seen this happen at Penninghame Open Prison, where the prisoners worked marvels with an old mansion, putting in extra plumbing and making a bowling green, greenhouses and things of that sort. It can have an extremely good effect upon the prisoner if he has to do work to make his place comfortable rather than moving into a brand new detention centre. There is good reason, therefore, for getting on with providing several more detention centres if they are needed.
Finally, a word about fines. In Scotland, we have a bad reputation for not 690 sufficiently using the probation service, for giving too many short sentences and for sending to prison far too many people who have not paid their fines. The last Report on Prisons showed that 8,109 persons were sentenced to 60 days or under and the 5,325 were sentenced for non-payment of fines. Probably these figures largely, although not necessarily completely, overlap. It seems to me that a short sentence in prison is a very bad thing. If a person has a comparatively good social background, the disgrace of such a sentence may result in the complete collapse of his life. If, on the other hand, he is a hardened criminal, it makes little difference to him.
The fine which is imposed should be adapted to an offender's ability to pay. The problem is, however, difficult for magistrates, who must of necessity have a sort of tariff for each offence, so that justice appears to be done and one person is not mulcted with a swingeing fine and somebody else gets off comparatively lightly.
I therefore very much welcome the provision for paying fines by instalment, because instalment payments are quite well known in the average home throughout Scotland and budgeting is quite often practised for hire-purchase commitments. By allowing for fines to be paid by instalments, we could have the effect of making a real deprivation without making it impossible for the person to pay the fine.
We must remember that often when an offender comes before a court and is convicted, his conviction is a disgrace and he may well lose his job, so that his ability to pay the fine is commensurately reduced. It is a good thing to have supervision of people paying fines by instalments. When an offender under supervision has paid his instalments for many weeks without a lapse, could there not be some provision in certain cases for his being given a remission of the remainder of the fine? In Clause 29 there will be power for the Secretary of State to take similar steps in connection with young offenders who have been at borstal or in detention centres.
I welcome the Bill. It includes some imaginative provisions and makes a number of improvements. But it must always be a fallacy to think that we can solve 691 this problem by making laws. The solution has to lie in improvements in our educational, social and religious background.
§ 6.11 p.m.
§ Mr. James Bennett (Glasgow, Bridgeton)
I shall confine myself to the question of approved schools, not because I profess to be knowledgeable on them, or because I have any inside knowledge, but because I have a great interest in this matter.
I welcome the provisions of the Bill whereby managers of approved schools can now license children for six months. I am extremely disappointed that most of the part of the Bill dealing with approved schools refers to administrative changes and not so much to rehabilitation, since, in effect, juvenile delinquency really starts in the approved schools. I remember that when I was a member of a local authority I visited a junior approved school, where I met a young lad.
Later, I met him again at an intermediate approved school, and in course of time I caught up with him at a senior approved school. There was a sad inevitability about his progress. I wonder whether I would have seen him at a borstal if I had continued with my work with the local authority.
There are three categories of approved school in Scotland—junior, intermediate and senior. There are 23 of these schools. It may be of interest to hon. Members to know that 588 Glasgow children attend these schools. Each costs £11 18s. a week, a grand total to Glasgow of £618 per child per year, which is much in excess of what it would cost parents to send a child to a good boarding school.
At the moment, a child sent to an approved school is committed for a period of from one to three years. These new provisions will give power to managers to allow a child out under licence. I have said that I welcome such a provision, but I have some reservations as to how it will work.
When a child is put up for licence, many factors are taken into consideration. He is initially put up for licence because his conduct merits such consideration. and it is tragic that home conditions or lack of parental control—factors out- 692 with the jurisdiction of the child himself—should force him to remain in the approved school and serve his full term. There is neither justice nor humanity in a system that allows that.
It is better to do as many of my hon. Friends and hon. Members opposite have suggested. Many a child finds himself in a particular school as a result of downright bad parents, and it seems a tragedy that retribution is demanded of the child because of the sins of the parents. That is why I ant bitterly disappointed that no effort is made in the Bill to bring about a situation whereby parents themselves could be made to face their responsibilities. Possibly, in Committee, we may be able to move Amendments to remedy this situation.
Undoubtedly, strong action is needed against many parents who show a complete lack of interest in the welfare of their families. It is commonplace to find a record of delinquency running through a family, and it is no satisfaction to find boy after boy or girl after girl from such a family wending their way through the various approved schools. After all, we concern ourselves very much with the effect of juvenile delinquency and we should pay much more attention to the cause. That, as I have said, undoubtedly lies, in the major part, in the homes of many of our people.
I have said already that the cost of keeping a child in an approved school costs Glasgow £11 18s. a week. That is not such a fantastic sum in terms of hard cash, but why is it necessary to keep children in approved schools because of factors over which youngsters can have no control? Very often a child is refused a licence not because of bad parents, but because of a bad home. Surely, even if a child is denied a licence and remains in the approved school, the time must come when he has to leave, having served his full term. He must still then go back to the home which was considered to be too bad for him earlier. Would it not be much better to allow a boy, if he has merited consideration of such nature, to go back to his own family? I put these forward as suggestions which, I think, are worth consideration.
The problem of truancy was drawn acutely to my attention when I put a Written Question of the Secretary of 693 State asking what was the average length of stay of a truant in an approved school. I was shocked to learn that it was 17 months. If I have any decided opinion at all on the subject, it is that no child should be sent to an approved school because of truancy. What is the cause of truancy? Is it inherent backwardness and inability to do home lessons or to keep up with classmates?
Whatever the cause, a term of 17 months in an approved school for such an offence as truancy is beyond understanding—certainly beyond mine. I feel strongly that this is an offence which does not merit detention in an approved school. Recently there was a case in my constituency of a 14-year-old girl who was found guilty of truancy and sent to an approved school. I concede that her record in the secondary school was atrocious. Nevertheless, action was only taken when she was on the point of leaving school. Now she is in an approved school.
The point about approved schools is that children are sent there because they require an education which they are not getting. It seems strange that in this girl's case, when she had had such a bad record in earlier years, it was only on the verge of her leaving school that this action was taken, That smacks of injustice, if not of vindictiveness, and I can find no justification for that sort of treatment for this sort of girl.
Sending to approved schools young people who are found to be mentally handicapped is another subject which demands consideration. I should like the Bill to contain a provision that no child classified as mentally handicapped and attending a special school should ever be sent, in any circumstances, to an approved school.
On many occasions when I have raised questions such as truancy I have been told that the offence was not so much the truancy as that the truant was keeping bad company. For the life of me I cannot see that any better company will be found within the precincts of an approved school. I say that with due respect to the headmasters and staffs of these schools, for whose work I have a tremendous regard. But they have enough problems on their hands, psychological problems, and so on, without having to deal with youngsters whose 694 only offence is that they have played "hookey".
I hope that in Committee we shall have an opportunity to go into these matters in much greater detail and to make the provisions for dealing with approved school more worth while, so that we do not regard only a child's chronological age when we decide which kind of approved school to send him to. Approved schools are classified according to the chronological age of the child and not his mental age, but it often happens that a child's mental age is such that although his chronological age fits him for an intermediate approved school, he ought to go to a junior approved school. Conditions such as that canot lead to a satisfactory solution of these problems. I hope that these matters will be thoroughly examined in Committee.
§ 6.23 p.m.
§ Mr. Forbes Hendry (Aberdeenshire, West)
The hon. Member for Glasgow, Bridgeton (Mr. J. Bennett) will forgive me if I do not continue his discussion of approved schools. It is a subject on which he has great knowledge, far more than I have, and anything that I might say would add nothing to what he has already said and to what I hope he will say in Committee. I was especially interested in what he had to say about family influence on children who find themselves in approved school. If he puts forward Amendments to correct the present sad state of affairs, I shall consider them with great sympathy to see what can be done to assist in overcoming this problem.
It is a very great pleasure, indeed a peculiar pleasure, to have a Scottish Bill welcomed by both sides of the House. An extraordinary thing happened during the speech of the hon. Member for Kilmarnock (Mr. Ross), when the caustic soda of his oratory acted on the acid of his satire and produced a welcome for the Bill, or at any rate, for its spirit and intention. I hope that relations between the two sides of the House in subsequent stages of the Bill will be equally friendly. After all, both sides are trying to improve the law in this respect.
Various bouquets have been given to the efforts of those who have contributed to the genesis of the Bill. Not least, I 695 should like to pay tribute to the hon. Member for Dunbartonshire, West (Mr. Steele), who has done a great deal and who has given me a great deal of helpful information about the Bill. I should like also to acknowledge the efforts of my right hon. Friend the Member for Renfrew, West (Mr. Maclay), who, during his term of office as Secretary of State, gave this subject a great deal of attention. I am sorry that he was no longer in office when the Bill was introduced.
The other hon. Member whom I should particularly like to mention is my noble Friend the Under-Secretary, who is to wind up our debate. I know from experience that she has done a tremendous amount of work on this subject since she took office. She has personally visited many institutions and we all owe her a debt of gratitude for the trouble she has taken in this connection.
The Bill seems to me to have two main intentions. One is to deal with the increasing amount of crime in Scotland, particularly that committed by young people. It is horrifying to find from prison reports and other publications that more than 30 per cent. of the crime and offences committed in Scotland are committed by people under 21. This is a serious state of affairs. The hon. Member for Bridgeton indicated some of its causes. I am much more concerned about what we can do to deter people from crime in future and to save those young people who have wandered from the straight and narrow path and to bring them back to a proper way of life. I do not know whether the Bill will be successful, but we all hope that it will.
I want to deal with a subject which has not received much attention as yet—the new system of sending a boy to a detention centre. Both my right hon. Friend and the hon. Member for Kilmarnock spoke about detention centres as places designed to give short, sharp shocks. That expression occurred in the House a long time ago. However, I was delighted to find that a detention centre is a great deal more than a place designed to give a short, sharp shock. That it certainly does, but there is a great deal of thought behind the idea of a detention centre and hon. Members may be interested to know the philosophy behind it. besides the penal philosophy.
696 When a boy is taken to a detention centre, he is immediately challenged to make something of himself. I did not know that until I visited one recently. The boy is given an achievement card and is set a number of tasks to achieve during his period of detention, a task which he thinks impossible when he first goes. For instance, a weedy boy is told that he has to run a mile in six minutes. At first, he thinks that that is impossible, but by the time he leaves he can probably do it—certainly 99 per cent. of the boys can. That is on the physical side, but there are various mental tasks which the boy has to carry out for himself. The difference between the boy when he comes out three months later and when he first goes in is remarkable.
My hon. Friend the Member for Perth and East Perthshire (Mr. MacArthur) knows a great deal about this subject. It is a new departure in that, in addition to punishing the boy, it goes a very long way to making a man of him. More can be done along these lines. A second detention centre is now being started, but a third is urgently required. An extension of this method of dealing with boys could do a great deal to bring them back on to the lines which they have temporarily left. It is not necessarily the best solution for a boy who has been at an approved school, but, if a boy has just gone off the lines, this method can give him new confidence in himself and there is a great deal to be said for it.
While we are paying compliments, I should like to pay a compliment to the governor and staff at the detention centre at Perth, which is doing absolutely magnificent work.
I now pass to the next stage in the hierarchy, the new type of penal institution—the young offenders' institution. We have not heard very much about what is intended to take place in these institutions, and I should like my noble Friend to tell us more. We are achieving a great deal if we take a bad boy, or a boy who has gone wrong, out of Barlinnie and put him into a place like a young offenders' institution, or a boys' prison, or whatever it may be called, and away from the hardened criminals of Barlinnie.
§ Mr. John Rankin (Glasgow, Govan)
I am sure that the hon. Member would 697 agree that we should not use the term boys' prison".
§ Mr. Hendry
Whatever it may be called, it is a clear improvement on Barlinnie, where the boy would have to mix with hardened criminals.
§ Mr. Hendry
I am grateful to the hon. Member, for I was about to come to that subject.
I have discussed this problem with various sheriffs in Scotland and many of them are concerned about what is to happen to a boy who requires something more than he can get in a detention centre. It seems to be generally agreed that three months is about the right period to spend in a detention centre, but there may be a first offender, or even for a second offender, who is not irrecoverable, for whom three months is not adequate. Will my noble Friend consider segregation within the young offenders' institution to deal with the boy who requires a sharper sentence, perhaps six months, for his training and salvation rather than segregation along with other boys who are further advanced along the road to crime?
Will she also consider whether Dumfries is the best place to site the juvenile offenders' institution? Both she and I represent constituencies in the North-East of Scotland, which is far from Dumfries. An institution of this sort in Dumfries will be of very little value to boys in the North and North-East and other areas which are far from Dumfries. There is a distinct danger of boys in those areas going to Craiginches Prison, which may not be as bad as Barlinnie but which is not a desirable place for a boy. I support what my hon. Friend the Member for Galloway (Mr. Brewis) said about using a country house in the centre of Scotland. Probably near Perth would be the most suitable location.
There one other problem in connection with detention centres and juvenile institutions which has not been mentioned, and that is the boy who is discharged from the detention centre on remission.
698 The remission which a boy can get in a detention centre under the present law, and it is not altered by the Bill, is 14 days. I am advised by the governors of these places that 14 days is a ludicrously short time in the event of the boy going wrong again. If the boy has to go back for only 14 days that is no deterrent to him.
I think that my right hon. Friend should give serious consideration to the method of treating the boy who has got a remission and then broken faith with the authorities who released him and requires to be brought back. He must not in any circumstances go back to the detention centre and contaminate the boys there. I should like to hear what the Scottish Office is doing to deal with the boy in those circumstances, and whether anything can be done, possibly by giving a longer period of remission and a rather longer penalty in the event of the boy having to be brought back.
Borstal training does not come within the scope of the Bill, but there is one thing that I should like to say about it, and here I appeal to hon. Members opposite who have influence with the trade unions. A great deal of good work is done in borstal institutions in Scotland in teaching boys a useful occupation. In that way, boys could go a long way along the road to learning a trade. At Polmont, which is the principal institution, a great deal of training is given in metal work and that, I understand, is regarded by the boilermakers' and engineering unions as counting towards time in a craft apprenticeship.
That is a good thing. It gives the boys something to work for. The other trades being taught there are not, I understand, regarded by the trade unions as counting towards craft apprenticeship and I think that something more should be done in the way of craft training not by legislation but by the good offices of all concerned.
Remand homes are very much within the concern of the Bill. Unfortunately, there is no remand centre, as the hon. Member for Kilmarnock pointed out. There is one remand unit and another unit about to he opened but both of these units are not self-contained institutions and are nothing more or less than branches of Barlinnie Prison. The boys who go there are not treated as 699 they ought to be in a remand unit. The function of a remand unit is to watch a boy being held on detention and to get a psychiatrist's report and reports from the prison officers which will help the judge to deal with the boy.
That is not what is happening. The boy goes there under prison rules and is allowed to lie in bed all day if he likes. There does not appear to be any power in the hands of the Scottish Office to ensure that these boys are treated in these places as they ought to be treated.
§ Mr. William Hannan (Glasgow, Maryhill)
If the hon. Member will look at the record of the proceedings in another place he will find that, despite what he said, and I agree with him, Lord Craigton said, on Second Reading:There is nothing in the Bill about remand centres, but the first one is already operating satisfactorily at Polmont, and another is being got ready near Airdrie."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, House of Lords, 13th November, 1962; Vol. 244, c. 543.]The hon. Member seemed to think that this is not a remand centre, but the noble Lord says that it is.
§ Mr. Hendry
I thank the hon. Gentleman, but with all respect to the noble Lord whom he quoted this is definitely not a remand centre in the sense that I understand a remand centre, and I understand that the Scottish Office have not the powers at the moment to run it properly as a remand centre. I hope that my right hon. Friend and the noble Lady will consider whether they ought not to take statutory powers in the Bill to employ these boys in a useful way and so that they can be observed and reported upon to the judges who have to deal with them later.
This is a matter of very great importance. I hope that this will be done, because I feel that it would be of inestimable value to the judges who have to deal with these boys later. I think that we have to take very great care to make sure that we are not just putting another rung in the ladder for the boy who will go from an approved school to a detention centre and from there to borstal, then to a young offenders' institution and from there to prison.
I am glad that the Bill increases the power of a sheriff-substitute sitting as a summary judge and enables him to 700 impose a salutary term of imprisonment, when he thinks it necessary, for a second offence. I know that this is a contentious question. Some sheriffs welcome it, while others think it terrible that for a second offence any summary judge should have the power to inflict one year's imprisonment. From the inquiries that I have made I am satisfied that it is a salutary power, because the second offence is the occasion when a really salutary sentence will do the most good.
I welcome this provision, but I ask my right hon. Friend to consider whether the Bill is sufficiently well worded to cover the case of a juvenile, because it seems to me that what the sheriff is given power to do is to inflict one year's imprisonment, but that what he ought to be entitled to do is to inflict one year's detention in one of these new institutions. I feel that one year's detention, or imprisonment, or whatever it is called, at this stage will do the most good, and I repeat that I welcome this provision.
While we are on Clause 16 which provides for this salutary sentence of imprisonment, may I say that I very much approve of the efforts that have been made to get rid of the horrible system which has grown up in Scotland of imposing short sentences of imprisonment. It seems to have become almost automatic for the summary courts, in particular, the lay courts, to regard 30 days as the usual sentence in many cases where such a sentence is quite unsuitable.
The other day I was reading the report of the debate on this Bill in another place. I was particularly interested in the remarks of the noble Lord, Lord Chorley, who described his experience as a lay magistrate in England, and said that his bench was horrified to find that in the North of England boys who had come across the border from Scotland with a history of short sentences of two, three, four, or even six months' imprisonment for comparatively trivial offences, when one decent sentence at the proper stage might have cured them once and for all. I find that many of the sheriffs in Scotland welcome this new power, and those sheriffs who do not think that this is a suitable sentence can always use their discretion and not use it.
I think that most hon. Members received a letter either yesterday or today from an organisation calling itself the 701 Glasgow Bar Association. This letter contains certain criticisms of this proposal, and I think that it might be helpful if I were to refer to them. This is a responsible body, and it has given a good deal of thought to the situation that might arise. I think that if the new provision is operated sensibly, any objections which the Glasgow Bar Association or any other body might have to it would largely be eliminated, because, after all, the person who decides how a particular case is to be dealt with is the Lord Advocate, who has a duty to instruct the Procurator-Fiscal on that.
Lord Guest, dealing with this point in another place, expressed the hope that the Lord Advocate would make sure that where there was any doubt about credibility, he would give specific instructions to the Procurator-Fiscal to make sure that the ease was not tried summarily by a judge, but was tried by a jury. I think that if that arrangement were put into operation by successive Lords Advocate in a sensible way, and in accordance with the spirit of the Bill, a great deal of the criticism which has been levelled against this provision would be eliminated.
It is interesting to note that in another place Lord Craigton gave an undertaking that the Lord Advocate would give such an instruction to Procurators-Fiscal, so if hon. Gentlemen opposite have been upset by these criticisms I think that the administration of this provision along the lines suggested will go a long way to avoid any ill-effects.
§ Mr. Rankin
The hon. Gentleman put in a qualifying phrase. I have a copy of the memorandum to which he referred. He said that if these provisions were operated sensibly the proper consequences would flow from such action. But operating them sensibly, and sticking to the words of the Bill, can be two different things. If the wording of the Bill makes it difficult to operate the provisions sensibly, obviously we must look carefully at the wording of the Bill.
§ Mr. Hendry
The hon. Gentleman has taken my point. He has read the criticisms made by the Glasgow Bar Association, and this is really a Committee point. My noble Friend has no doubt taken note of the point, and she will he able to refer to what the noble Lord, Lord Craigton 702 said in another place, and I have no doubt that she will be able to give us an assurance on this point.
Following on this increase in the power of a sheriff-substitute sitting as a judge alone to impose one year's imprisonment, I think that it might be worth while my noble Friend looking at the possibility of increasing to three years the jurisdiction of the sheriffs' court under solemn procedure that is, a sheriff sitting with a jury. At the moment, such a court has power to imposed up to two years' imprisonment.
After allowing for remission, that means a sentence of only 18 months, which is very little different from that which a sheriff will be able to award, and it seems to me that a sheriff's court sitting with a jury might be able to assist the High Court in the discharge of its duties because many of these cases must he comparatively easy to deal with. The High Court may have a great deal of work on its hands hearing appeals, possibly as a result of legal aid. This has been suggested by one of the sheriffs in Aberdeen. It seems a point worthy of study and I put it to my noble Friend for consideration.
I pass to Clause 23, which is the controversial one, at least in the eyes of some people. It increases the power of the sheriff to impose fines. It enables him to impose a fine of up to £250 instead of the present limit of £25. This is an extraordinary increase, which requires some study. I have discussed this with people who have a good deal of experience of the effects of fines, and I am satisfied that this provision is a good one. I know that the Glasgow Bar expressed doubts about it, but I ask hon. Members to consider the case of a small shopkeeper who is charged with resetting. Unfortunately, there has been a good deal of thieving of valuable, but light, goods such as cigarettes. Obviously, nobody will steal a large quantity of cigarettes unless he can get rid of them. If somebody steals 100,000 cigarettes he cannot smoke them all: he must find somebody to take them off his hands. A considerable number of small shopkeepers, particularly in the country districts, have, I understand, fallen to the temptation of buying stolen cigarettes at a low price.
703 This is a difficult case to deal with, because the man involved is not a criminal in the ordinary way. He has, on one solitary occasion, been tempted with the chance of a quick profit. He has done wrong, but it seems to me that the correct way to deal with him is to impose a heavy financial penalty to counteract not only the profit he may have made, but the profit that he might hope to make in the future. If such a man were sent to prison, he might be put out of business. His wife might be left to run a business which she could not manage, and which she could not readily sell. It seems to me that in a case like this, and in numerous others which I have not time to discuss now, a salutary fine of this sort might have a very good effect indeed.
The interesting thing that I have discovered from my researches is that those sheriffs who are rather younger and more imaginative welcome the new power that is being given to them of inflicting swingeing fines, whereas the older and more conservative sheriffs are not quite so keen. It seems to me that a great deal of imagination has to be used, and this could be a very powerful weapon to the courts in handling certain crimes. If a sheriff feels that he should not inflict such a fine it is always within the discretion of the court. We are giving this power to the sheriffs in order that they can make good use of it if necessary.
I ask my noble Friend to give some thought to the whole question of fines. Since 1908, there has been in existence a table equating, certain fines with certain terms of imprisonment. It first came into existence in 1908, in the Summary Jurisdiction (Scotland) Act and it was reenacted in the Summary Jurisdiction (Scotland) Act of 1954. A fine of 5s. was equated to a term of five days' imprisonment, a fine not exceeding £1 to a term of 10 days' imprisonment, and a fine not exceeding £3 to 20 days' imprisonment. In these days that table is complete nonsense, and I ask my hon. Friend to consider recasting it to bring it into line with the present value of money.
Much Scottish legislation provides for the infliction of fines which are completely out of touch with the present-day 704 value of money. The Burgh Police (Scotland) Act of 1892 provides for a vast number of fines—60 or 70—some of them in the region of 10s. One that I can remember imposes a fine of 10s. for allowing a chimney to catch fire, whereas it costs 12s. 6d. to have the chimney swept. A lot of thought needs to be given to revising the fines laid down in the old statutes, in order to bring them up to date.
I am sorry to have to speak at such length, but this is an important Bill, and I hope that I shall be forgiven. Sheriffs generally, outside Glasgow, are chary about the new duty imposed upon them to refrain from fixing sentences of imprisonment for failure to pay fines at the time when they inflict those fines. If the person fined knows that he is to be liable to serve a term of imprisonment if he does not pay he will be rather more anxious to pay the fine than he would be otherwise. I regard the present law as being sufficient to do everything which the Bill attempts to do in this respect. It is already possible for sheriffs to allow for the payment of fines by instalments.
understand that difficulty in this matter has arisen principally in the City of Glasgow, but if the court officials there were to use more understanding in implementing the existing statutory provisions the picture would be completely altered, and the courts would be saved the enormous amount of work involved in having people brought back later and sent to prison specifically for failure to pay fines.
Hon. Members may be interested to know what has happened in the sheriff court at Aberdeen during the past year. The sheriff-clerk has been very helpful. He tells me that during the past year 1,949 fines were inflicted in that court, which is a busy one. In 156 cases, payment of the fine by instalments was allowed, and in only 32 cases were the accused persons sent to prison. That included five cases where the accused persons were vagrants and were not given time to pay. Therefore, in only 27 effective cases were persons sent to prison for failing to pay their fines. Of those 27 persons, 16 were released from prison on payment or part-payment of their fines.
In the long run, the number of people sent to prison for this offence was very small, and I am told by the court officials 705 there that the courts would be greatly hampered if these people were apprehended, brought before the sheriff again, and specifically given a sentence of imprisonment.
Some people who would not otherwise be sent to prison would be sent there if the present law were put into effect in an understanding way. The whole situation could be handled by the Lord Advocate, who could give proper instructions to the courts, telling them properly to enforce the law, in the proper spirit, to make sure that the horrible situation that has arisen in Glasgow was remedied.
Thought should be given to the powers of law magistrates to impose short terms of imprisonment in lieu of fines. I am concerned about the increase in the powers to be given to lay magistrates, especially in regard to imprisonment. My right hon. Friend should think carefully about confining the powers of lay magistrates to dealing with those cases that arise under the Burgh Police (Scotland) Act and similar statutes, rather than extending their powers to common law offences, which may give rise to terms of imprisonment where imprisonment is not the best way of dealing with the accused person. I suggest that the lowest judge entitled to award a term of imprisonment in respect of these offences should be a sheriff-substitute.
Many hon. Members have referred to the subject of after-care, and I shall not say much about it. The hon. Member for Dunbartonshire, West dealt with the subject very well. Nevertheless, I ask my noble Friend to consider whether the proper machinery exists for after-care in the form of the After-Care Council. I am told that there is only one after-care officer in the whole of the North-East of Scotland and that he is responsible for Peterhead, Craiginches and Inverness Prisons, and all the borstal cases in the area. That seems to be completely ludicrous.
On the other hand, there is an excellent probation service which is not only able but is willing to take on this work. I endorse everything said by the hon. Member for Dunbartonshire, West in that respect. The probation service might very well be given this additional duty. In many cases a probation officer knows the person who is being subjected to after-care. He may very well have 706 known him since his boyhood, and he knows his background, his family circumstances, and everything else about him.
There is one rather peculiar point which has not yet been dealt with. It probably has not occurred to anybody except to lawyers who are accustomed to deal with these matters. Section 3 of the Road Traffic Act deals with careless driving. Many drivers who are involved in accidents are taken before sheriffs and charged with an offence under Section 3 (1) of the Act, and until their cases are disposed of nothing can be done about claims for damages pending in the civil courts or even under negotiation.
Generally speaking, the insurance company against whom such a claim is made refuses to deal with the claim until the criminal action in the sheriff court has been dealt with, because if the person against whom the claim is made pleads guilty it is held to be tantamount to an admission of liability involving the insurance company in damages at the end of the day. It has been my experience, and the experience of many other people, including sheriffs with whom I have discussed the matter, that much extra work is caused to the courts by this circumstance.
Having been accused of the offence of careless driving the person concerned is immediately told by the insurance company that he must plead not guilty. The case then goes to trial at the sheriff court, and that may involve a delay of up to six months. It means wasting half a day of the sheriff's time and, generally speaking, the position of many people is prejudiced. I suggest that the Bill might be extended to include a provision that people charged with careless driving should not if they plead guilty, have that regarded as a confession in respect of any civil proceedings which might follow.
Another point which might be included in the Bill has been raised in the House on many occasions. I refer to the status of the sheriff substitute. That title is much misunderstood even in Scotland. For some reason it appears to give the impression that a sheriff substitute is a sort of inferior judge. In fact, he is an important judge and equal to a recorder in England. I ask my noble Friend to 707 take the opportunity given by the introduction of the Bill to change the title of these judges and to underline their status.
I wish to acknowledge the help that I have received in conducting my researches not only from the sheriff court in Aberdeen, but from other officials, and the courtesy and help of the governors and staffs of the various penal institutes which I have visited. I recommend other hon. Members to visit these extremely interesting establishments and I can assure them that they will be more than welcomed by the governors, and will have a very interesting experience.
This is an extremely good Bill. The faults which it contains may be put right during the Committee stage. The suggestion has been made that my noble Friend may find difficulty in dealing with some of the technical points. As one with a little skill and experience of the law of Scotland I should be only too willing to place my services at her disposal and I am certain that my hon. Friend the Member for Galloway, who also has skill and experience of these matters, would do the same. I wish her well in her conduct of the Bill during the Committee stage and I am sure that hon. Members opposite will do everything to help her.
§ 7.2 p.m.
§ Mr. Hector Hughes (Aberdeen, North)
The hon. Member for Aberdeenshire, West (Mr. Hendry) is the only qualified Scottish lawyer who has spoken in this debate on an essentially Scottish Bill, and I find that surprising. I am surprised that he did not take the point which I intend to make the central theme of my observations.
Before doing so, however, I wish to congratulate my hon. Friends the Member for Kilmarnock (Mr. Ross) and the Member for Dunbartonshire, West (Mr. Steele) on the speeches which they made, first, because they were excellent speeches; secondly, because they were entirely critical of the Bill; and, thirdly, because they support implicitly the arguments which I intend to address to the House.
I agree that this is a Bill of good intentions. But it contains many defects and does not fit into the Scottish legal pattern. It has many critics in the 708 Scottish legal profession and law schools and amongst the Scottish legal authorities and Bar Associations. I have been provided with a critical and detailed memorandum by the Glasgow Bar Association and I have received many other helpful memoranda from other sources, some from the legal profession and some of a humanitarian and reformative kind.
This Measure should not be accepted without full consideration by an expert committee of practising Scottish lawyers in Scotland drawn from both branches of the profession, and fully aware of the background of Scottish law and tradition. The Bill neglects the recommendations of the Mackintosh Committee which have been much praised by experienced people in Scotland. Incidentally, a peculiar fact is that the Bill was introduced in another place and in this House by non-lawyers. Neither in this House nor anywhere else have we had the advantage of the wisdom, the learning, the skill, or the presence of the Lord Advocate or the Solicitor-General for Scotland. I think that that marks a sinister sentence, if not a paragraph, in the history of Scottish legal reform and in the history of Scotland as a whole.
Times have indeed changed in this respect. On other similar occasions there were available distinguished Scottish lawyers to advise on such Bills as this. Now, alas, they have gone, either to another place or to adorn the Scottish Bench. We are left in this House with comparative intellectual poverty on occasions such as this, when we have to consider Scottish technique and Scottish law which is very different from English law. I can remember when there were in this House such distinguished lawyers as the present Lord Clyde, Lord Reid, Lord Thomson, Lord Wheatley, Lord Milligan, Lord Johnston and Lord Grant. What a galaxy of erudition. Today, we have not one member of the Scottish Bar.
Not only was the Bill introduced in another place by a non-lawyer, but the only Scottish lawyer who spoke on it, Lord Guest, said that he wished to sound a note of warning about the Bill. The case I am making is clear about the absence of Scottish lawyers and the difference between Scottish and English law. There is, therefore, a need to refer the Bill to an expert committee of practising Scottish lawyers who know the needs 709 of the situation and by their learning and experience would be in a position to consider the Measure. My argument is in favour of having the Bill, before it goes a step further, referred back to Scotland to such a committee so that that committee can give the Legislature the advantage of its knowledge and learning.
I speak on the Bill with diffidence, but not with reluctance— with diffidence because I have not the honour of being a member of the Scottish Bar; without reluctance because I feel that I owe a duty to Scotland to present the arguments which I am putting forward in these peculiar and untraditional circumstances. I have many learned friends who practise Scottish law at the Bar and on the Bench in Scotland and who teach Scottish law in the Scottish universities. Indeed, if I may say so, I had to undergo and pas:; an examination in Roman law on my own way to the Bar. It is part of the foundation of the Scottish system of law.
One danger of the Bill, and one of our duties in connection with it, is to prevent it from being used as an instrument to approximate too closely Scottish law to English law. Both are excellent systems of law, each in its own way. But each has its special virtues. In my view, Scottish law—and this Bill is designed to become part of Scottish law—should develop according to Scottish genius and Scottish needs, to which the neglected and important Mackintosh Committee's Report is a significant monument.
One of my criticisms of the Bill is that it might have been used to implement some of the recommendations of the Mackintosh Committee. But this has not been done. Indeed, certain English fetatures which do not suit Scottish conditions are being introduced unnecessarily into Scottish law by means of the Bill. Here and now is not the time to deal with Committee points, but I shall mention briefly some of the points which I have in mind.
First, the Bill does not implement the more desirable recommendations of the Mackintosh Committee. Secondly, it fails to envisage and co-ordinate previous Scottish legislation. Thirdly, it does not deal: with to-day's needs in a comprehensive way. Fourthly, it fails to deal, above all, with the time wasting plea of "not guilty" in cases where the accused is obviously guilty but pleads "not guilty" for ulterior reasons.
710 There are many other criticisms of detail which I could offer, but this is not the time to do so. I stress the difference between the Scottish and English systems. Like the English system, Scottish law evolved through the ages according to the genius of the Scottish people. As the great Lord Cooper of Culross, the former Lord Justice General and Lord President, said:For roughly 200 years after the accession of King David I the legal statesmen of Scotland were actively engaged in the construction of a legal system founded upon Anglo-Norman law, and when the superstructure had attained a considerable height they proceeded to fashion it according to a pattern of their own.That was the pattern of Scottish genius. According to Scottish needs, that pattern today differs much from the English pattern in procedure, in nomenclature and otherwise. It is utterly wrong that a Bill of this kind should be introduced into the Legislature regardless of the history, traditions, needs and nomenclature of Scotland. It has been well and truly and authoritatively said—I mention this to stress the difference between the two systems:In England the student or practitioner has little to guide him through a maze of precedents and forms of pleading beyond the difficult pages of Coke. And the Scots lawyer might have pointed, with pardonable pride, to the fact that in the Court of Session there was no separation between law and equity,There is a cardinal and essential difference between the two, and these things have to be taken into account in connection with a Bill such as this.
I am saying this not in derogation of the English pattern of law, but only to point out some of the great differences which should be present in our minds when we are considering the Bill and which support my argument that the Bill should be sent to Scotland for consideration by a committee consisting of actually practising lawyers of both branches of the profession. It is, therefore, fair to say that the pattern of Scottish law, like the pattern of English law, is based on noble principles and practical good sense. It has produced great lawyers both at the Bar and on the Bench. Some of those who adorned the benches of this House now adorn, as I have already mentioned, the Scottish Bench.
Some of the points which I am now making have been made eloquently by 711 learned Scottish lawyers such as Professor T. B. Smith, Professor of Civil Law in Edinburgh University, who is at present lending his learning to Harvard University, in the United States. The Scots have spread their genius and system of law throughout the British Commonwealth of Nations, and yet so strong is the impact of England and English law that we find, only the other day, the Attorney-General for England taking credit for the spread of English law and English genius throughout the British Commonwealth of Nations. It is only right to say that Scottish law and Scottish genius have done just as much as the English system and the English genius to spread that.
I hope that I have made it clear that for all the reasons that I have put to the House the Bill should go no further. It should be remitted to a committee of experts composed of practising lawyers of both branches of the profession in Scotland so that they can consider it and make their recommendations to the advantage of the Legislature.
§ 7.19 p.m.
§ Miss Harvie Anderson (Renfrew, East)
The hon. and learned Member for Aberdeen, North (Mr. Hector Hughes) evidently lacks only one qualification which has prevented him from being on the noble list he read to us. I certainly cannot go so far as he went in suggesting that this Bill would be better if returned to Scotland for examination by a specialised committee of lawyers. At the same time, I am very much aware that I have rather curiously been called a non-lawyer and therefore I suffer from the intellectual poverty to which the hon. and learned Member refers. Nevertheless, I can claim to be a lawyer's daughter. Perhaps that enables me to have some small view on a Bill which is concerned with the law of Scotland.
It is undoubted that this Bill brings certain improvements, certainly very great improvements concerning the younger section of our community who fall into a criminal record. I should like particularly to consider for a moment the position of after care. Other hon. Members have referred to this already. It is particularly important because, as I understand the position in Scotland, there is a shortage both in the after care service and in the probation service. In neither 712 service is it possible to train people overnight.
While, as I understand, the probation officers feel very strongly that much of the work should fall to them, for as long as there are too few probation officers we should welcome that contribution to after care which is provided by the after care service. Therefore, it is not my intention to try to differentiate between the merits of the two, but rather to suggest that we require both and that they should both be encouraged.
In Clause 12 (1), Clause 13 (1) and in the First Schedule it would have been wise, and perhaps will still be agreed to be wise, to include the words "probation officer" and also to include them in other Clauses where that is relevant. The hon. Member for Dunbartonshire, West (Mr. Steele) has already made reference to this, and I support the point which he put forward. In this particular consideration we should be concerned to include the widest number of competent people so that we can adjust our view in relation to those best qualified in the area concerned. This would mean that we would also carry out one of the recommendations of the Morison Report and, incidentally, give considerable encouragement to the Probation Service in Scotland.
I suggest that while we are adding work both to the probation service and to the after care service—and wisely so—we should consider not only the shortage in establishment, which is undoubted, but that many of these people are not always working in very satisfactory conditions. When we commit to after care, particularly younger offenders, it does not please me to think of them going to very limited and unattractive accommodation which often, by reason of lack of finance, is in a back street. Very often the accommodation is and ill-heated. Yet those are the conditions in which some of our after care services have to operate.
When we add to the after care service responsibility, as we shall undoubtedly do when we pass this Bill, we should at the same time seek to improve the conditions under which these people work. There is no doubt whatever that they do excellent work. Whether it be in the realm of the probation officer or the 713 after-care officer, we should give them a greater degree of comfort than they have at present. The actual insertion of words to provide for this can be done at a later stage. I hope that when we reach Committee my right hon. Friend will feel inclined to accept what we seek in that regard.
I raise a particular question in relation to something much further on in the Bill. It is in connection with the backing of warrants. My right hon. Friend made reference to this. I think the relevant Clause would be Clause 40, although it is referred to earlier in the Bill. I am not entirely clear about this, and I must confess to a little hesitation in expressing an opinion about the necessity for backing warrants. The procedure laid down in the Bill will, I think, lay considerable extra work on the police. I have heard that they have made suggestions whereby the procedure could be improved from their point of view and take up less of their time.
Whether that is so or not, I should be glad if my noble Friend can tell me when she winds up the debate. In an isolated area where perhaps there is only one constable, it is asking a lot to have warrants backed twice when they come from England and go back again, as I understand is the procedure at present. I should like that point looked into with particular consideration for the police force who have to administer the procedure.
There has been a great deal of talk in the debate about conditions in prisons to which young people still have to go. It is perfectly obvious, as was said in another place when the Bill was introduced, that the ideal conditions, many of which are laid out in the Bill, will take some time to evolve. I agree with my hon. Friend the Member for Aberdeenshire, West (Mr. Hendry) who said that some of us have some doubts about whether the site of the old prison in Dumfries is the correct site or environment for one of the new propositions we are discussing. Even after we have passed this Bill there is bound to be considerable delay before its provisions can be carried out in ideal surroundings. I should require a lot of convincing that it is in the long run economical in the widest sense to repaint an old prison for a new purpose. I may be convinced 714 about that, but I am not at present; time will tell in Committee.
While our young people during the interval are left in prisons—for as short a period as possible, but nevertheless in prison—we should pay tribute to the work done in Scottish prisons by the staff. Much too little credit is given to a very enlightened prison staff, working in many cases in archaic conditions and doing most progressive work. It is no use making a party political point over how the prisons are so old, but I believe there has been only one prison built in the whole United Kingdom during the last 100 years. So we have not ten years of "wicked Tory rule" to catch up with but 100 years of backwardness.
If we expect prison officers to encourage young people during the time they spend in prison we ought to take more care and more interest in what they are doing. When these young people are in prison I do not think they have adequate work or sufficient to think about. We could well put a lot of thought into the question of the hours of work which a prisoner is expected to do. I do not wish to go back to the bad old days in this respect, but I think it nonsense to have a young prisoner idle for many hours of the day. If we look at the facilities for providing occupations in prison we see that they could be brought more up to date. I hope that as a result of the interest aroused by the Bill these points will be looked into.
If we encourage the good work, in the sense of suitably occupying the mind and the body within prison, we shall make the more easy also the transition to the type of care which is described in the Bill, especially for the 17 to 21 year olds.
Clause 25 undoubtedly effects a great improvement in relation to the failure to pay fines. The collection is also a matter of commonsense. In Committee it may well be that the recommendation of S.A.C.T.O. will have to be followed rather more closely than would appear to be the case from my understanding of the Clause.
I am proud to have had a close association both with the prison service and with the probation service over a number of years. It has been my good fortune to look in at it rather than looking at it from within. None the less, I have a very profound admiration for the 715 whole range of work. The very fact that we are spending so much time on bringing the criminal justice law of Scotland up to date is encouraging to this wide range of good work, which is very little recognised.
I congratulate my right hon. Friend on bringing forward this Measure. I hope that it will have the support of the whole House, and in its implementation I hope that it will reflect great credit on those who operate these services for us in Scotland.
§ 7.32 p.m.
§ Mr. William Hannan (Glasgow, Maryhill)
I do not wish to disagree with the general tenor of the speech of the hon. Lady the Member for Renfrew, East (Miss Harvie Anderson). However, I noted that at the beginning of her speech she put up her defences by saying, as is the usual custom with hon. Member; opposite, that she was not making any party political point. When that is done one always waits for it, because it is as certain as night follows day that a political point follows.
I accept a great deal of what the hon. Member for Aberdeenshire, West (Mr. Hendry) said. I suggest that the researches with which he was associated in Aberdeen have not been quite accurate. He was critical of Glasgow in respect of the payment of fines by instalment, but he will see from page 25, paragraph 74, of the Report on the Use of Short Sentences that Aberdeen Burgh is in the same company as Glasgow. It is there stated that Glasgow, Aberdeen and Dundee had not exercised the power in a single case and the Edinburgh police court had done so in only one case.
§ Mr. Hendry
The hon. Gentleman will remember that I was speaking about the sheriff court and that at a later stage in my speech I was rather critical of lay magistrates.
§ Mr. Hannan
I accept that at once. Nevertheless, this is something close to the hon. Member's heart. The Under-Secretary is a representative for that area. I accept the criticism the hon. Gentleman made of Glasgow only in the sense that a further study of the Report shows that, as with other areas, the difficulty is collection and administration. I agree 716 with the hon. Gentleman that even a system of fines by instalment would he much cheaper than keeping people in prison at a cost of £450 a year, or approximately £9 a week.
I was surprised that the Secretary of State said that we had had no incidents in Scotland similar to those at Carlton School. His predecessor will tell him that in my constituency there was a home, and this is what started my inquiries into these matters. The home was so bad that Glasgow Corporation pulled the buildings down to the ground and new buildings are being built now. It is precisely because of the confusion in this whole matter—probation homes, remand centres—that we are having the whole gamut of legislation and provision of accommodation in the last two or three years, only part of which is incorporated in the Bill.
In July of last year we had an excellent debate on young offenders, in the Scottish Grand Committee, when I had the honour to introduce a Motion on the Estimates. I hope that the House will forgive me if I recall some of the features then highlighted. I then said:Few social problems give rise to more heat and less light than that of young offenders. It is important to look at the question in perspective …I said that it must be recognised that since pre-war years the number of offences had increased and there was a different type of offence. The method of compiling statistics had altered. I said that we must not exaggerate it out of all proportion.
I agree with the Secretary of State that in this country we have probably the finest group and generation of young people that we have known. There is no group that resents more than they do the misdeeds of their own generation. I said in July of last year:The general picture is one of unruliness, dishonesty. … There is misdirected energy rather than positive criminal activity …"—[OFFICIAL REPORT, Scottish Grand Committee; 5th July, 1962, c. 58–9.]Nevertheless, this gives us scant satisfaction when we read the newspapers of the outstanding cases of malicious crime and personal attack made, particularly on old people.
It is that kind of thing which young people resent. Nevertheless, the violent 717 young thug rates about one in every thousand of his age group. It is their problems that we must study especially. The treatment of young offenders is a challenge to the whole of society. One could go on making comparisons with past years, but it would be an arid pursuit in many respects.
Much of the post-war legislation has remained a dead letter because of the inactivity of the Tory Government. For fourteen years there has been on the Statute Book power to provide the most important institutions—remand centres—yet there is not one in Scotland even now, as was admitted by the Government spokesman in another place. The scandal is that the Government have not made the financial resources available, neither in this field nor in what some of us believe to be a field which can contribute to the cure or prevention of this type of behaviour, namely, education, particularly in junior secondary schools, where we are turning out, at the age of 15, young people who are ill-equipped to meet the blandishments of the society which the Tory Government have helped to create through bingo halls, betting shops, premium bonds, extended liquor licences, etc.
It is no wonder that so many young people, ill-equipped as they are, fall victims to such an atmosphere. They are ill-equipped to meet this modern world, yet they are marrying earlier, at the age of 18 or 19, and within three, four, or five years they themselves are bringing up children in the same sort of atmosphere. There is not only this shortage of accommodation, but a dangerous shortage of trained scientific staff to deal with the matter.
I do not intend to weary the House with a great number of statistics, but it is interesting to note the types of homes and institutions which appear in the Reports produced on this subject. There are remand homes, remand centres, probation homes, probation hostels, approved schools, detention centres, borstals and prisons. What a jungle! The unfortunate thing is that these places may be looked upon by some minds as representing a ladder which it is desirable to climb. The Secretary of State should examine the whole question of voluntary homes for young people and I recommend to him the Report produced 718 by the Committee the chairman of which was Baroness Elliot. I will not venture further on this subject because I will find myself out of order.
In the July debate upstairs the Under-Secretary said that no specific study of the effects of probation had been undertaken in Scotland. In view of what has been said on this matter by Government spokesmen, that is rather surprising and I would like to know if anything is being done now. The Under-Secretary also said that he would welcome the views of hon. Members on the training of probation officers and the future of the service. We know that lack of staff means that the officers cannot devote the time and attention needed if these youngsters are to be reclaimed. It is also known that the nearer a person is to the community in which he lives the more success is likel to attend in the efforts at his rehabilitation.
In this connection, why have no arrangements been made in Scotland to finance students through the university social science courses, for such assistance is being given in England? These students are accepted for entry to the probation service and the same assistance should be provided to established officers who are capable of taking a degree.
§ Miss Harvie Anderson
Is the hon. Member not aware that the present output from the approved course for entry into the probation service is satisfactory and that in three years' time the establishment will be entirely satisfactory in Scotland under the present arrangements?
§ Mr. Hannan
I think that we are at cross-purposes. I am talking about the training of probation officers based on the two-year social science courses in the universities. For instance, local social workers are at present seconded to commercial colleges for this purpose and I wonder why the same should not apply to probation officers. I agree with those who have said that probation officers hold the key position in crime prevention and rehabilitation. For this reason, greater attention should be given to their salaries.
I will not dispute the suggestion of the hon. Member for Ayr (Sir T. Moore), who said that the great increase in the number of policemen in Scotland had had some 719 effect in deterring young people from taking up crime. The more police there are the better will be their effect. But there is one aspect to which I would draw his attention. I have with me figures to show the comparison between the number of policemen and probation officers in various parts of Scotland and these are very revealing statistics.
In Edinburgh, which has a higher rate of crime than Ayrshire, there are 120 policemen to one probation officer. In Ayrshire, there are only 26 policemen to one probation officer. Edinburgh's crime rate is greater than that of Ayrshire, so this seems to refute the argument of the hon. Member for Ayr. Glasgow has 37 policemen to one probation officer while the ratio in Lanarkshire is 74 to one. If those statistics prove anything, they prove that the probation service should be strengthened.
The Government have failed badly in the provision of remand centres in Scotland. A number of these have been built in England and are doing good work. I understand that these places are designed for young people who are at present being sent to prison, including those aged between 14 and 17 who are of a particularly vicious type. There are cases known in Scotland of young people of between 14 and 17 who have been sent to prison. Naturally, there has been a public outcry about that.
I also have some statistics on this matter. They reveal that, in 1961, 96 young people between 14 and 17 were in prison, yet untried. Half of them were found not guilty, admonished, or fined. Some were put on probation because there was no remand centre available. Thus we have young people being sent to prison and it is for this reason that I support the remarks of my hon. Friend the Member for Kilmarnock (Mr. Ross). It is not that the Government have been converted on these social questions. The fact is that the public scandal and outcry will grow greater if more accommodation is not provided.
Even the new accommodation being provided is of a secondhand character and certainly not in keeping with modern ideas. The Government are converting hospitals and the proposed detention centre at Perth is associated with Perth Prison. I understand that another, at 720 Langriggend, was a former tuberculosis hospital. This is not the way to deal with this problem. I am not suggesting that we should provide private rooms and baths and set these youngsters up in nice hotels. I do not want my remarks to be distorted in that way. I am merely saying that we will not get the respect, dignity and response of these young people by putting them in secondhand places of this type.
The alternative is that young people of an unruly or depraved character should be sent to prison. Considering the alternatives, we are faced with a shocking state of affairs which even the Bill will not cure, because—and this is the argument used so often by the Government Front Bench—some time must elapse before anything really happens. The Government have already had fourteen years in which to deal with these problems and it seems that it will take another ten or twelve years before something concrete is done.
It would be interesting to know more about the remand units which are to be inhabited by adults sent to Barlinnie Prison under the four-day remand system. This is another abuse in the name of an attempt to ease the overcrowding problem in that part of Scotland. Surely the Government realise that such places are not remand centres in the true meaning of the Reports which have been produced on this subject. No doubt the pressure which has been brought on the Secretary of State following the abuse of 14-and17-year-olds being placed in Barlinnie Prison to join the lags there has had some effect. We welcome these progressive proposals, but we feel that they do not go far enough and we shall certainly go into them in greater detail in Committee.
We need a proper centre to observe these boys and get their proper background so that the courts may be assisted in passing sentence. I would commend to the right hon. Gentleman the probation hostel at Kilbirnie, the only one I know of in Scotland, which I had the privilege to visit during the Christmas Recess with my hon. Friend the Member for Central Ayrshire (Mr. Manuel). It is run by the Salvation Army on the sort of principle suggested by the hon. Member for Aberdeenshire, West. It is a former country home, and at one time the Salvation Army had 721 15 boys living there. Of those boys, nine were able to return to their homes after having stayed at Kilbirnie for some time, and five joined the Armed Forces of their own volition. Only one was sent to an approved school. That place has an excellent record, and its example could be copied with profit by others.
Clauses 1 and 2 of the Bill revise the penalties that can be imposed on offenders between 17 and 21, the principal change being that instead of being sent to prison in default of paying a fine, offenders between those ages will he sent to young offenders institutions for suitable training. If we have to wait as long for those institutions as we have had to wait for remand centres, we shall not make very much progress. I have a shrewd suspicion that the Government are just getting the Bill on the Statute Book, without very much hope of operating it. Perhaps the Secretary of State can tell us what the prospects are of some of these buildings coming into being. How soon does he expect the building in Dumfriesshire to be completed? Are there any other places in train? More information of that type will help to convince us that the Government really mean business.
The Bill deals with many things, but it is interesting to note some of the subjects that are not even mentioned. One thing that causes very strong feeling is the delay in cases coming into court to be tried. I refer not only to the delay between the pleading diet and the trial, but to the delay between the alleged committing of the offence and the date of the pleading diet. I want to get those terms quite clear in the right hon. Gentleman's mind, because in Answers I have had from the Scottish Office during the last two years his officers have courteously pointed out the distinction that has to be made.
Only on Monday of this week I read of a man belonging to a respectable profession—I will not mention names, because I want to avoid embarrassment—who was charged with a motoring offence. The alleged incident happened in July of last year, the pleading diet took place three months later, and the man's trial took place only this week. In this case the Joint Under-Secretary the hon. Member for Rutherglen (Mr. Brooman-White) wrote to tell me: 722To get complete in formation on this interval is still a formidable undertaking and, to give a quick answer (which, by the way, relates to summary cases only), I have asked the Sheriff Clerk to give an estimate on the basis of a sample check. The answer is that in 1960 there were about 625 cases in which the interval between pleading diet and trial exceeded four months, and that in 1961 the corresponding figure was rather more than 960. In 1961 the period of delay appears to have shortened a little after the appointment of an additional sheriff substitute in August, but we cannot yet be certain of the ultimate effect of this appointment … in the great majority of these cases the accused pleads guilty at the pleading diet and the case is disposed of there and thenIt is in those last words that I think we see the aim of justice being thwarted, and administrative convenience usurping the dispensation of justice. We all know that in more than 90 per cent. of cases at a pleading diet those accused, no matter how strongly they feel about their innocence, plead guilty. It is a mockery of justice, and it is only when we discuss a Bill like this that we are able to raise such questions about the law and the administration of the courts.
As one of my hon. Friends has said, we can go in the greatest detail into the affairs of the National Coal Board, the nationalised transport industry, electricity, the Health Service—the whole shooting match; but the law and its administration is a closed book. We cannot discuss it. It is a matter of privilege and patronage through a narrow channel to the bench, and we cannot get at it.
The courts need greater facilities to get on with the job. As things are, more than 90 per cent. of people, no matter how strongly they may feel about their innocence, find their solicitor suggesting, "If we ask for a date it will be four months ahead—and it will mean going through to Edinburgh. You know what it is. You had better plead guilty, hadn't you?" There is the mental strain on minds that take these things very seriously—the never knowing when the summons will come, the knock at the door, the public disgrace, the idea of the name being published in the newspapers. To some people that does not matter but to many, including the individual in the south of Scotland of whom I have just spoken, it can mean a great deal.
I do not want to pursue that matter further except to say that in it there is an analogy with the mention in paragraph 32 of the Report of the possibility 723 of young people being sent to prison, despite the fact that it is illegal. There must be many hundreds of people charged with minor offences who, however strongly they feel about their innocence, take the line of least resistance. It takes a very strong-minded man to proceed even in the face of his own solicitor's advice.
In many cases, the solicitor's attitude is influenced not by the merits of the case, but by the practical difficulties that confront him in getting the case dealt with. I do not want to exaggerate, or to say anything that will give encouragement or comfort to those at war with society—we have had to exercise some restraint in the past—but the time has come when I have to say these things.
The Bill should have dealt with the deplorable congestion in the courts, and the backlog of cases. That is a scandalous omission, and the Scottish Office must deal with that matter very urgently. The Secretary of State can see on the front page of the Daily Herald today two paragraphs headed:Time Study Men Speed JusticeEfficiency experts have been called in to reduce the backlog of cases waiting to be heard by civil courts and the Appeal Court.Time-and-motion men are working in several London courts as part of an investigation ordered by the Lord Chancellor, Lord Dilhorne.Is the right hon. Gentleman prepared to give us a similar assurance?
I invite him to come to Glasgow on any day and go unannounced to see what goes on in the courts. The corridors and hallways are thronged with people. This is no exaggeration. Police witnesses who ought to be out on duty are there wasting the whole day because cases timed for ten o'clock in the morning do not come on that day at all. Witnesses are there and they lose employment, with the consequent trouble of completing forms in order to make claims. Solicitors reporting at ten o'clock in the morning for their cases find that there are as many as 27 diets down for the same time.
Is this the administration of justice? Is this carrying out the law? It is a matter of getting through the business as quickly as possible. A solicitor does not know a few days or even hours before a case who will be the fiscal who is to handle 724 it. The building itself is outdated and outmoded. It is dim, dingy and dark. The basement is in use and children are shepherded there to wait.
The right hon. Gentleman may look a little askance and think that this has nothing to do with the Bill. Perhaps he is right. But that is my objection. These are the practical realities of the situation, and the Bill is incomplete in this sense and unlikely to deal with our problems.
In terms of finance, the loss of time, energy and expense in travelling and waiting must be colossal. The time and motion study "boys" could look into it. If Clause 47 comes into operation, and criminal cases have the benefit of legal aid, the right hon. Gentleman will not be allowed to get away with it for very long, when solicitors' fees of three guineas an hour have to be paid while they are waiting. He should look ahead a little and get a move on. Much more than this Bill is required to put these matters right.
I come now to my last point, which relates to a fundamental defect in the system. Why should the Court of Session Appeal Court continue? Why should solicitors, witnesses and accused have to travel and take up seats in trains from Aberdeen, Glasgow, Perth and Dumfries in order to go to Edinburgh for appeals? Why cannot they be heard in their own areas? What is the situation? There is an appeal. The solicitor who knows the case best cannot deal with it. He must get another man in Edinburgh to handle it. He, in turn, must engage counsel, and then a senior must be engaged. Thus, the man at the end of the line knows least about the case.
As I understand it, this does not happen in the United States. The man who is engaged at the beginning of the case, who knows intimately the circumstances, the location, the geography and the personal details, can take his client right up to the highest court. If Perry Mason can do this in the United States, and never lose a case, we are entitled to ask why the same sort of thing cannot be done here. Anyway, half the lawyers in any court of law are proved wrong. Why should this inefficient time-consuming ritual continue? Why should solicitors and witnesses have to travel to Edinburgh for appeals? I cannot understand it.
725 I spurn the unworthy suggestion which might be made by some knowing people who tip one the wink and say that every labourer is worthy of his hire. The same sort of thing arose under the Health Service in regard to consultations with specialists and all the rest. There were Questions in the House about it. Perhaps there is something in it. I am a layman in these matters, but I think that there is material here for study by a full wide-ranging inquiry into the whole working of the law in Scotland and the administration of the courts. I shall leave it there.
There are many other matters about which I should like to speak. I agree, on the whole, with the suggestions in the Report about fines, for instance. I would go a little further. I should like there to be a system of fines imposed on the parents of children guilty of vandalism so that some discipline might be exerted upon them to induce a recognition of their responsibility to the community in the making good of damage done. One might, perhaps, after due consideration, develop these ideas even a little further.
I am sorry to have taken so long, but I hope that what I have said has done something to make the Secretary of State understand the extent of the problem. I accept the Bill as a crumb, as something to be going on with, but I hope that the right hon. Gentleman realises that a far more fundamental approach to all these matters is required.
§ 8.5 p.m.
§ Sir James Duncan (South Angus)
With the last suggestion of the hon. Member for Glasgow, Maryhill (Mr. Hannan) I have a great deal of sympathy. I consider that some responsibility should be laid on the parents of, in particular, younger children for their delinquencies. When we go to Committee, perhaps the hon. Gentleman and I, if he has any ideas on the subject, can get together about it.
The hon. Gentleman made a dramatic speech about the courts in Glasgow, cannot help feeling that his must be a rather exceptional situation. I know only of what happens in my own area, and that sort of situation does not arise there. Perhaps this is because we are an agricultural, quiet, sensible law-abiding part of the world.
Not being a lawyer, I find this Bill extremely difficult to understand. There 726 are many references to previous Acts and there is a great deal of practice covered of which I am totally ignorant. With the hon. Member for Kilmarnock (Mr. Ross), I equally regret that we have not a Lord Advocate in this House. Nevertheless, I do not think that this should be a party issue, because there is not a lawyer on the Opposition side, either. I understand that both parties are in the same position. They find it very difficult to have a suitable senior lawyer adopted for any reasonably good seat on this side of the House or on that. This is a real problem, and, if we are to have a debate on the reform of the House of Lords, we might have some suggestions to make. I sympathise with my noble Friend if she is to take the Bill through Committee. It will be a very strenuous task for someone not trained in the law.
All Scotland has been worried about the extent of crime, particularly juvenile crime, since the war and especially during the past few years. I have some figures here. In Scotland, 31 per cent. of all crimes and offences are committed by young persons under 21, 14 per cent. of this figure being accounted for by juveniles under 17, and 17 per cent. being accounted for by young persons between the ages of 17 and 21. It is the extent of juvenile crime which has, I think, been worrying a great many people in Scotland. In particular, they have been worried by the roughness of modern crime, by the cases of old ladies being coshed on the head by youths in a dark passage at night, and so forth. We must do something about that.
The hon. Member for Maryhill tried to blame the Government for the delay. There may have been some delay because it was not easy to know what was the best thing to do. We have had these reports, referred to by the hon. Member for Kilmarnock, since 1960 which have been trying to tell the Government the right thing to do. I think that a report is still awaited. I therefore do not think the Government are altogether to blame.
§ Sir J. Duncan
I agree. It is extremely difficult to know how to tackle the young 727 offender. We now have the general lines on how to do it. I therefore welcome the Bill as a legal part of the new vision towards dealing with offenders.
I agree with the hon. Member for Kilmarnock that we must strike a very careful balance between the interests of members of the public, who have to be protected against these thugs, and the interests of the delinquent. The interests of the delinquent are that he should no longer commit crime for the rest of his life—rehabilitation, as it is called. I believe that the Bill is a fair balance between these interests.
I did not hear the speech of my hon. Friend the Member for Ayr (Sir T. Moore), but I think that he still wants to beat some of these young thugs. I have a great deal of sympathy with his belief that they should be beaten, because I am old-fashioned enough to believe that if a young thug attacks an old lady in a dark passage with a bottle he really wants some of his own medicine. I can only hope that these detention centres and places like we are organising now will be the equivalent of that. But we are still in the experimental stage in seeing whether they will be a sufficient deterrent and sufficiently curative in their nature to have the effect that we want.
The remand homes are mentioned in the Bill as a place to which a boy in an approved school may be sent. I am aware that a committee has been reporting on remand homes. I have one in Dundee to which my constituents occasionally go. I am not at all happy about it, and I am not sure that the committee has reported in the right way. I believe that the Government should take them over. At the moment they are under the local authority. My county says—and I say this against my own county council—"We have hardly any of these sort of people. Why should we pay?" That is Dundee's dilemma. My authority says, "Boys come in from Fife, Perth, Angus and Aberdeenshire and we have to pay for it all." The situation has become so bad, I understand, that the sheriff substitute in Dundee will not send children to this place any more.
I have visited this home. Children between 5 and 16 years go to it on remand for up to twenty-eight days and can be remanded again for up to another twenty- 728 eight days. They do not do anything, although they do get up in the morning. My hon. Friend the Member for Aberdeenshire, West (Mr. Hendry) seemed to imply that they lie in bed all day, but they have to get out of the bedroom. They are put in a room with nothing to do except look out of the window and wonder how to make their escape, and many of them do escape because it is not secure.
The remand home, although it is only a temporary shelter for people awaiting trial or sentence, must be organised in a much better way. I hope that my right hon. Friend, when he has got the other things going, will turn his attention to remand homes. The one that I know is not a suitable place to which to send people straight from a court or from an approved school as laid down in Clause 19.
I turn to remand centres. I am surprised to know that there are any in existence. I am not sure what their purpose is. I hope that my noble Friend the Under-Secretary of State will try to explain the object of remand centres. If people are sent to them only on remand, there must be a limit on the time that they are there while the court is deciding what to do with them. My complaint is that nothing can be done with these people while they are at a remand home. The maximum period that they can be kept there is 28 days plus another remand of 28 days. They sit and do nothing. There is no opportunity for training or rehabilitation. My fear is that these remand centres will become the same sort of places as remand homes only for older boys and, I suppose, girls in due course.
I know something about the question of borstal because we are getting a new borstal at Noranside. Unlike my hon. Friend the Member for Galloway (Mr. Brewis), I understand that there is quite a lot of classification of people sentenced to borstal. I understand that all boys sentenced to borstal go to Polmont. There they are looked at and classified, and the best ones go to one place, which I think is west of Glasgow, in Renfrew-shire somewhere, and the next best go to Castle Huntly in Perthshire. In my part of the world we are wondering what sort of boy we will get in Noranside. The boys at Castle Huntly are there for a maximum of three years. Under the Bill, this will be two years.
729 I am not sure whether that is right, and I should like to know more about this matter before l make up my mind on it. Very few of them escape and after a period of training and having regular meals and plenty to do under good instructors—here I pay tribute to, as I think he is called, the warden, the head of this place, who is a magnificent man—they are allowed out. They are allowed certain privileges. They are allowed to go into Dundee, which is quite near, on Saturday afternoons and visit the cinema or have their hair cut. The only prohibition is that they must be back before dark, which in summer means that they are out quite late. They go to work on farms or on other projects in the neighbourhood.
Gradually these boys become completely changed. The number of failures is remarkably small. But, of course, these are the second-best boys. The best ones go to the place in Renfrewshire and the next best go to Castle Huntly. What are we to get at Noranside? If we get the third-best, we shall not have a great measure of success. This is in a rural area. It was formerly a sanatorium which is being converted at a cost of £180,000 and it will be open for boys in July.
There has been a great deal of perturbation in the neighbourhood. The people were naturally concerned that there might be escapes, that some of the boys might be tough and that they might interfere with the local inhabitants. I think that that difficulty is being overcome, but everything will depend upon the first lot of boys who go there. If they create the right impression, behave well and do not run away, and do not cosh a girl in a dark country lane, I believe that the local people will take to them. It is possible that in a year or two, not only will they be able to go out and do useful work in the neighbourhood, but it will even be possible for the warden to organise dances to which the local girls will be invited and would be willing to go.
§ Mr. Brewis
My hon. Friend may be interested in our experience in Wigtownshire, where we have an open prison at Penninghame. At first, everybody protested vigorously. Now, it enjoys excellent relations with people all around. The prisoners go to evening classes, play football and have settled in very well.
§ Sir J. Duncan
The main reason first is having a first-class man as head of the institution. Secondly, the boys were so well looked after that a feeling of cooperation is created in the neighbourhood and no fears remain.
I plead with my noble Friend the Under-Secretary that the boys sent to this institution will not be the third-grade ones, but will be equal second, so that the new institution can get a good start. If it has a good start, I believe that it will be a great success.
I understand that the young offenders institutions are for those aged from 17 to 21 who have committed serious offences and who otherwise would have gone to prison. If, for example, a 19-year-old goes to such an institution after being sentenced to 4 years' imprisonment for murder or some other serious offence, what will happen when he is 21? Does he then have to be transferred to prison to complete his sentence? Except in the most exceptional circumstances, Clause 1 prevents people under the age of 21 being sent to prison. I should like to know what will happen to somebody who reaches the age of 21 after being sent to a young offenders institution.
I regard after care as extremely important. The Castle Handy experience is that very few people fall again into crime. There is, however, the danger that some people will revert to crime unless there is a good deal of supervision after they leave. These boys are not vicious. Most of them are dull and unadventurous. They are easily led. It is easy for them to go back to a bad home after having their morale raised.
I agree with what so many people have said about crime being a question of the family rather than of the individual. Somebody who goes back to a bad home might regain contact with old associates and fall back into crime. It would be extremely useful to have a superviser watching, who could give a little advice from time to time and say, "Do not see that lad again. He is a bad one." A lad might be easily led unless he had what I might call a friend out of court. Therefore, I am very much in favour of this kind of supervision. In my view, it will have to be developed a great deal.
731 I welcome the Bill. It will be a headache in Committee to get through it and to understand it. We shall have to do our best. Even if in due course it is slightly amended, as it stands today it represents a step in the right direction in experiment and in understanding the young delinquent. I hope that in the end we shall be able to rescue hundreds of these people from a life of crime into which they otherwise might fall.
§ 8.25 p.m.
§ Mr. William Small (Glasgow, Scotstoun)
I agree with much of what the hon. Member for South Angus (Sir J. Duncan) has said about the social fabric and the background of some of the reasons why people end up in prison. It must, however, be remembered that there is no trade union to get better institutions and better treatment in this direction.
A feature of the Bill is that it will cost very little money. Broadly, it represents administrative adjustment and it concerns the technique of sentencing people. There are new techniques in sentencing which do not cost a great deal. I have attended many social welfare conferences and have sat as a magistrate and I have listened to various descriptions of the modern utopia. In terms of the Secretary of State's own description, the change from cognate to non-cognate now means that we are dealing with a total personality and not a crime. This is a new element which is dealt with within the scope of the Bill.
The argument outside on the generality, and not necessarily a slogan, is that every child born in Britain in an ideal society should be born with the flag flying at full mast, representing total opportunity. How are we to achieve this, however, as long as the Government concentrate on smaller housing provision, with slums remaining as they are and other antiquated buildings such as schools and the like? This simply creates, not necessarily a cesspool, but it represents a lack of opportunity to many of these people.
I congratulate my hon. Friend the Member for Kilmarnock (Mr. Ross) on the confident way in which he dealt with the subject. As I look at his stature from the back bench I look forward to the day when I have to see him by 732 personal interview in case he has taken silk.
§ Mr. Small
Is this a soft Bill or a hard Bill? I believe that it is probably more hard than soft. Some features, such as the paying of fines by instalment, we have had for a long time. Now the big cities will operate instalment fines, so there will not be a great deal of difference to the law there. But in raising from six months to a year the minimum sentence which can be imposed by a sheriff's court, the Bill lessens the chance of a person having a jury trial, and that is a harder feature of the Bill.
I do not know how successful compulsory supervision will be. It is unlikely to succeed unless the will is present in the person to be supervised. I do not believe that compulsory supervision will add to the chance of reformation.
§ Mr. Small
I agree with the hon. Gentleman.
My intervention is mainly about the switch-over which entails a major intrusion of English law into Scottish law. Our law in Scotland was stated in the 1949 Act. This was that nothing but cognate cases were brought before a judge. That procedure continued in the First Offenders (Scotland) Act, 1960, which was a Private Member's Act and went through the House unanimously.
§ Mr. Small
I introduced that Act and no one challenged the principle at that time. Why, then, is this change being made now? While I understand the need for change, I cannot say that I welcome this one. I believe that if we change from cognate to non-cognate offences in this way, there will be an area of social hostility in the court. The lay magistrate will have to go through the antecedents of the accused and come to a decision on his total personality. Under the First Offenders (Scotland) Act, a lay magistrate has to give reasons in writing for a sentence. Now he will be placed in the situation of having to examine the accused's history and working it out as a tabulated list. But some of the 733 convictions in the past of the accused may be surplus to the current decision.
If we enter into the introduction of non-cognate offences we are dealing with the personality as a whole. Thus, the indispensable basis may shift from deducible law and commitment from a lower court. We are now shifting the criteria from cognate to non-cognate procedure. The magistrate at this stage is a layman and he must give reasons in writing why he sends a man to gaol.
In all the big cities in England there are stipendiary magistrates who are professional lawyers but who also have to follow this procedure with sentences of six months and under. Why should there be an exemption for sheriffs in Scotland? I am not asking for this to be done in this way just because it is done in England. My aim is to get reasons as to why a man has been sent to gaol. We should not hide behind the fact that the sheriff's court has legal advice available and that a decision must be made by law alone.
While I do not want to fill the world with psychologists and psychiatric social workers and so on—and I do not demean that profession at all—there are many requirements in this aspect of social work, and men trained in the law and sitting as sheriffs ought to be able to bring to bear the sort of pressure which is applied by other professions. I am always surprised when reading the newspapers to find that our best legal brains should be sitting in the divorce courts where two people who have found that they cannot live together merely want to be separated, and yet we do not have sufficient numbers of highly qualified men in this more important branch of the law.
It may be that I am peculiar, but I take the view that there is a psychology in every profession. The psychology of the teaching profession is that it wants to do its best for its pupils, and there are pressure groups and so on to that end. Some headmasters say that we are treating the problem from the wrong end and that we ought to treat poverty first. However, there is a psychology within the profession which demands that something better should be done. The medical profession speaks of the doctor-patient relationship and asks for better hospitals and better facilities for treatment. I want the legal profession also to act as a pressure group, if it has any psychology at 734 all, in order that we can resolve many of the problems which we have discussed today. I hope that in Committee the Government will be prepared to accept Amendments which will improve the Bill and help to do something more for the less fortunate.
§ 8.37 p.m.
§ Mr. Neil Carmichael (Glasgow, Woodside)
So much has been said about the Bill that it is difficult now to find something original to say. It is a complicated Bill, as has been well demonstrated by the difficulties of interpretation which hon. Members on both sides of the House have discovered. Basically, it is an advance in some ways, but in others it is retrograde, particularly because it could have provided so many opportunities.
My main reaction when I first saw the Bill was disappointment with its timidity. I felt that there was no basic change of attitude towards the treatment of offenders. There was merely to be another building—and much has been made of the fact that the choice of building was not very wise. The old penitentiary at Dumfries has a number of things which do not commend it as a choice for the sort of institution to which it is to he converted.
One of the problems about it is its distance from the main areas from which delinquents tend to come. That is important especially for city people who are suddenly taken a long way from their old habitats. City people have a feeling of isolation. They are insular, and the long distance from main centres will have a bad psychological effect on the boys. There is also the effect of being taken to a much smaller community where outlets for jobs and meeting employers are fewer. The building itself is unsuitable. Why take people from Barlinnie, admittedly a secluded part of Barlinnie but still a prison, and put them in another prison at least 100 years old? This sort of environment will still be classed by the boys and young men as a prison.
The most important reason why Dumfries is a bad location is that families will find it difficult to visit boys there, and visiting is very important, for with this class of delinquents contact must he made as easy as possible between the boys and their families so that the boys feel that they are still accepted and are still part of the group.
735 I regret perhaps most of all that the Bill does not allow for a much greater use of classification of types of youths who will be sent to such centres as that in Dumfries. Despite what some hon. Members have said, I feel that there have been enormous advances during the last ten to twenty years in sociology, psychiatry, penology and even in education. It is unfortunate that the Bill was not much bolder in making a real attempt to set up some sort of professional network which could classify these boys, because I believe that with this type of offender classification is absolutely necessary and the first step in any type of treatment to be given. That treatment depends on a thorough knowledge of the offender—not merely of what he has done—but a thorough knowledge of his background, social conditions, mental health and all the other things that have made him do what he has done.
The authorities in Scotland are totally understaffed to do this. That, I think, is what is most lacking in the Bill. There is no genuine desire to do anything more than make a slight advance in penology—no attempt to make any real break-through in the treatment of offenders. The number of trained staff in Scotland is quite inadequate even to make a rough division of the offenders, and it is totally inadequate to provide professional individual work on the boys. I believe that this is the only way in which we can ultimately amass sufficient information to lay down a plan for the proper treatment and care of these boys.
Not only is there a lack of professional staff, but there is a reluctance on the part of the Department to set in being a real training programme for the prison and borstal officers. These officers do a very tiresome and exacting job. They do it frequently under very poor conditions, in locations that are often not what most of them would desire for themselves or for the raising of their families, and we should give every encouragement to the setting up of training schemes to help these officers in their work.
I have attended a number of courses and classes at which these officers have been present. They are eager to find out more about the treatment of 736 offenders, and how they can help to rehabilitate the people under their care. It is important to realise that the people who want to adopt new methods of training are not merely do-gooders or amateurs. They are the people who for perhaps twenty years have been in daily contact with prisoners and boys in borstal.
They have seen the brutal type of boy about whom we have heard so much today, and they have also seen the brutal methods used in an attempt to cure boys of that type. It is because they realise that these methods are not effective that they are anxious to discover what makes people tick fundamentally and what makes one boy become a criminal while another with a similar background does not.
Social conditions play a big part in delinquency, but my hon. Friends must realise that the improvement of social conditions will not of itself prevent delinquency. The problem goes much deeper than this, and this is why fundamental training in the treatment of prisoners is essential. In America and the Scandinavian countries people have realised that the present methods of treating offenders are extremely expensive, and are beginning to spend money on trying to find more up-to-date methods of dealing with them. They have begun to realise that the old methods of treatment are ineffective, and that they must, therefore, find new methods of dealing with the problem.
I should like the staff of the prison service in Scotland to be increased. I should also like to see professional staff, in conjunction with the universities, undertaking the training of officers in the prison and borstal services.
One of the problems in these institutions is that boys are given jobs which they not only regard as silly, but as somewhat effeminate, and the last thing they want to do is something which appears to be in any way effeminate. Some of the jobs are not far advanced from breaking stones.
One of the most frustrating things fox city boys is to put them to work in the garden. This seems to be the only outdoor work available, and the only reason why they apparently like it is because they get a little more freedom and can even manage a smoke on the quiet.
737 I hope that we shall use our youth employment services and our vocational guidance experts to find out the kind of things from which these boys are most likely to profit; to find out the kind of work which will give them the best sense of creation. If we can get them to do the creative jobs to which they are suited we shall be a great deal further along the road to making them better citizens, who will return to their community with a much greater chance of not going back to the institutions in which they have been trained.
§ 8.50 p.m.
§ Mr. E. G. Willis (Edinburgh, East)
I very much agree with what my hon. Friend the Member for Glasgow, Woodside (Mr. Carmichael) has said, but it is not with Parts I and III of the Bill that I wish to deal. As quickly as possible, I want to make one or two other points. My hon. Friend the Member for Glasgow. Maryhill (Mr. Hannan) said that it was about time the legal system of Scotland was inquired into rather more fully than it has been for a long time. I have taken that view for many years. Not only does our legal system need looking into; a number of practices within it also require examination.
One that comes to my mind is the present jury procedure in criminal cases. In Scotland we have fifteen jurors for a criminal case, and the verdict of guilty or not guilty can be decided by eight votes to seven, as far as I know, unlike the situation in England, where there has to be a unanimous verdict, failing which the case goes for retrial. That system has its great weaknesses, but so has ours. With a system under which a person can be found guilty by eight votes to seven, the more serious the case the more serious that one vote is.
As far as I know, nobody outside the jury room knows what the majority is when the jury returns to court. It is simply asked what its verdict is and whether it is unanimous, or has been arrived at by a majority. In a murder case the fact that a man on a charge of murder can be convicted by eight votes to seven is something that we should look into. It raises very important questions, especially if efforts are made for a reprieve. I do not know whether the 738 to the majority in a murder trial, but in any case this situation ought to be examined.
I suggest that in our criminal procedures by jury we should insist on a majority of at least ten to five, in other words, a two-thirds majority. That would seem to be quite reasonable. The present system, under which a man's life can be decided by one vote out of fifteen, cannot be regarded as a satisfactory one.
My hon. Friend the Member for Mary-hill also pointed out that we ought to examine the processes in our courts, speaking with particular reference to the Glasgow Sheriff Court. He called for a time and motion study in the courts, and I am tempted to agree with him, especially in relation to Clause 48, under which it is proposed to appoint two more judges. For many years we had 13 judges in the Scottish Court of Justiciary—eight in the Inner House and five in the Outer House. Since then, we have added three to the Outer House, making eight in either House. Now we propose to add another two.
Everybody must agree that this increase, from 13 to 18, is an enormous one. From my inquiries I understand that when there were only 13 judges they worked for five days a week—Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday—Saturday being devoted to undefended divorce cases. Now, however, the undefended divorce cases are taken on Fridays, so they sit for only four days a week. Then we have the interruptions that occur in the business of the courts on Wednesdays. I wonder whether we should consider the appointment of two more judges at £16,000—which, incidentally, is one of the most expensive items in the Bill—without obtaining much more information concerning the work done by those judges. It has been suggested to me that we should send the Organisation and Methods Department of the Treasury to inquire into the procedure——
§ Mr. Woodburn
I think my hon. Friend will agree that judges do not do all their work in the courts. I am aware of instances where judges have had to spend a great deal of time working on their judgments and going into the background of cases in order to produce judgments. It is similar to the position of teachers who do a great deal 739 of their work outside the schoolroom. The judges do a great deal of work outside the courtroom.
§ Mr. Willis
But teachers work five days a week. They have not reduced their working week to four days. It was suggested in a letter published in the Scotsman on Monday that undefended divorce cases need not be heard in Edinburgh at all and I think there is something in that suggestion. They should be heard by the sheriff court in the area in which they arise, which would save the pursuers the expense of having to engage lawyers where they live and also having to engage lawyers in Edinburgh in order to appear in an undefended divorce case which usually lasts for about ten or fifteen minutes in the Edinburgh courts. That would mean that the courts would not be sitting for most of Friday and therefore the judges would sit only on Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and another half-day.
We ought to think along these lines before wildly rushing in to appoint two additional judges, despite the increase of crime in Scotland. I suggest that five additional judges, when originally we had only thirteen, warrants a better explanation than is provided.
This Bill introduces legal aid for criminal cases, and it is interesting to note that once again we in Scotland are years behind England in this matter. One of the excellent proposals in the Measure which was introduced by my right hon. Friend the Member for East Stirlingshire (Mr. Woodburn) has been whittled down. This Bill leaves to the courts the decision about providing legal aid. I do not consider it a satisfactory arrangement. There are no statutory limits laid down. In civil cases statutory limits are provided in order to determine who shall receive aid and how much and even then they can obtain it only on probabilis causa. The sheriff court is left to make a decision under the proposed procedure and that is a difficult job for a sheriff without experience.
I agree with the minority recommendation of the Guthrie Report that the determination of financial liability where undertaken by a legal aid committee or by the court should be based on a statutorily prescribed financial criterion. That is a sensible recom- 740 mendation. This is a bad method because it would allow the establishment of different standards in different sheriff courts. Different sheriffs will take different views about the entitlement of individuals in particular cases.
It cannot be a good thing to have individuals all over Scotland working according to their own rules. I have read Schedule 4 which lays down how this is to come into operation. It seems to me to leave a lot of flexibility to the court itself, which would appear to create a situation in which we shall have different practices all over Scotland. Much as I appreciate the reason for this—it is because of the necessity for speed in these cases; a decision has to be made speedily because of the needs of the case itself—I do not think that this is the correct answer to the argument for speed, and I hope that when we examine this matter in Committee we shall look at it more closely.
There are other parts of the Bill with which I disagree. I think that Clause 30 must be looked at exceedingly carefully indeed. It seems to me that the introducing of new principles into Scotland requires a lot of examination before we accept it. I agree with the very strong criticism made of Clause 32. This is a scandalous Clause, to put it mildly. I imagine that the right hon. Gentleman wilt receive a number of representations about Clause 32, and I think that he should be prepared to withdraw it on Report.
I have tried to say one or two things as quickly as possible in order to allow my hon. Friend to participate in the debate. I end by saying that I welcome the Bill so far as it goes. It does not go far enough. It is a complicated Measure, and when I first read it I thought that surely the time was ripe for the bringing together of all the Criminal Justices Acts. Surely it is time that we got on with the business rather more rapidly than we are doing, because to plough one's way through all the legislation referred to in the Bill is really a very lengthy job indeed. I hope that the right hon. Gentleman will look at that point, too. Otherwise, I welcome the Bill.
§ 9.3 p.m.
Mr. Bruce Milian (Glasgow, Craigton)
I understand that I have five minutes in which to make my contribution to the 741 debate and, therefore, I shall have to say a good deal less than at one time I had hoped to be able to say.
I am particularly glad that my hon. Friend the Member for Edinburgh, East (Mr. Willis) mentioned one of the points about the legal aid provisions, because I have been interested to see the effect of this Schedule as compared with the recommendations contained in the Report of the Guthrie Committee.
In the short time available to me I propose to mention one or two points on which, I think, the provisions of the Bill fall short of what I had hoped the Government would have introduced in the way of a legal aid scheme for criminal cases. In the first place, in the kind of proceedings in which legal aid is to be available, the Guthrie Committee's Report recommended that in proceedings before a sheriff court legal aid should he made available in all cases where the person was charged with an offence punishable with imprisonment without the option of a fine. In other offences, where perhaps a fine as well as imprisonment could be imposed, the court would have the discretion to decide whether or not legal aid should be given.
I am very disappointed to find that under the Fourth Schedule, if I read it correctly, the court is also to have discretion whatever the class of offence a person is charged with, so that in the case of an offence punishable with imprisonment without the option of a fine there is stilt the necessity to get the court's agreement to legal aid. I think that that is very undesirable. There were very strong arguments in the Guthrie Committee's Report as to why the recommendation of that Committee should be adopted.
As far as financial eligibility is concerned, I agree very much with what my hon. Friend the Member for Edinburgh, East said. It is most undesirable to leave this matter to the courts without any criteria at all and without any standards being laid down. I appreciate that there is very much greater difficulty in criminal cases in laying down standards and estimating what the future income will be compared with civil cases, but I still think that a case for some sort of standard is absolutely unanswerable.
I was very much impressed by the note of dissent given by Mr. Stewart to the 742 Guthrie Report. I am sorry that the Government have not followed him in that. These no doubt are points which we can take up in Committee. I hope that the Government will have an open mind about them and about a number of things with regard to legal aid and other matters to which many of us have considerable objection, including points in Clauses 17, 30 and 32. In those the Government proposals represent very backward steps.
I very much agree with what my hon. Friend the Member for Glasgow, Mary-hill (My. Hannan) said. It is not any use getting the legal system according to Acts of Parliament put into what we consider reasonable and progressive form without at the same time dealing with accommodation in the courts. I am thinking here particularly of the Glasgow Sheriff Court and of the administration of justice generally in Scotland. I hope that we shall be able to follow up these points in Committee. In regard to legal aid provisions, despite the improvements which are being made in this Bill, a great deal of the progress will be completely vitiated because of the unfortunate physical circumstances in which so much of justice is dispensed in Scotland at present.
I hope that as well as turning attention to the kind of sentences which should be imposed on young and other offenders, the Government in the next few months will pay considerably more attention than they have paid in the past to the administration of justice in Scotland where, I consider, a great deal remains to be done.
§ 9.7 p.m.
§ Mr. James H. Hoy (Edinburgh, Leith)
We have had a very interesting debate. I look at the treatment of young offenders from a personal experience I had some years ago. It was at the time when my right hon. Friend the Member for East Stirlingshire (Mr. Woodburn) was Secretary of State for Scotland.
With him, I paid a visit to Polmont Remand Home. One of the cases which struck me most forcibly was that of a young man who had completed his sentence but begged to be allowed to stay at Polmont until such time as he was called up for National Service. His sentence having been concluded, he dreaded that he would be sent home. We have to think of the treatment of young people in this light and in a humane way.
743 It may be that that young man's home was bad, or that his parents did not have much opportunity to improve it, but here was a man who had tholed his assize and his next step was to go into National Service. We have to devise a system of training our young people who have gone astray which will get them back on to the right road by which they can make a contribution to society.
I was interested in the opening speech of the Secretary of State. I had read parts of it before. I hope that he does not think that I am being rather jocular in saying that, but, as I pointed out to my hon. Friend the Member for Kilmarnock (Mr. Ross), I read some quotations from a speech made by Lord Craigton in another place. The Secretary of State added a little novelty in moving the Second Reading of the Bill by saying that we had to face all these difficulties despite the fact that people today were better fed, better clad and better housed. I thought that the sharp reminder he got from my hon. Friend the Member for Glasgow, Maryhill (Mr. Hannan) was well called for.
My hon. Friend reminded the right hon. Gentleman that if these things are right, temptations are being placed before young people today which were not there before. We in Parliament have spent so much time creating betting shops and gambling casinos and extending licensing hours, and so on, thereby making it much more difficult for young people under those circumstances.
Over and above all that, there is a tremendous increase in unemployment amongst young people in Scotland, so the temptation becomes all the greater. We shall not cure this evil simply by altering the administration of justice or the treatment of offenders. We must start at an early age—not only teaching good citizenship to children while they are at school, but when they leave school we should at least ensure that they are given the opportunity to earn their living. When they are doing that they will not be getting into trouble. I agree with the hon. Member for Galloway (Mr. Brewis) that all this adds up to the simple old dictum that prevention is much better than detection. It is from that point that we should start.
We are in some difficulty in dealing with what is purely or mainly a legal Bill. We shall not have the assistance 744 of the Lord Advocate, because he is not entitled to sit in the House; nor is the Solicitor-General for Scotland. We miss them. I was glad that one of my hon. Friends recalled an expression used by the late Walter Elliot, when he said of the present Lord Wheatley, who was then Lord Advocate, that he was Lord Advocate not only for the Labour Government but was Lord Advocate for Scotland. It was in that sense that he served the House.
In the treatment of young people what we are going to do is merely a change in administration. Under the Bill, young offenders are now to be sent to remand centres instead of to prisons. The one effect of this will have, which will be beneficial, is that they will not then be mixing with adult offenders. If we can prevent this, we are taking a step in the right direction.
The system will be this. An assessment having been made and a dossier having been prepared in the centre as to the nature of their offence and their background, three certain things can be done with young offenders. First, they can be sent to a detention centre—I think for three months—followed by six months supervision. Secondly, they can be sent to borstal for a period which normally will be 15 to 18 months. Thirdly, what are regarded as the worst offenders can be sent to a young offenders institution.
I want to raise this question with the Secretary of State. After we have sentenced these young people to whatever term we might decide, we are imposing on them an added sentence when we say that they will suffer six to 12 months' supervision. This will have to be handled very carefully. There could be nothing worse for a young person, having served his sentence, than to find on release that someone will always be supervising him. This might well put a chip on his shoulder which will result in his being sent back again.
Think of two young people who come out. One has this additional sentence of supervision imposed on him and the other has not. The one who has will feel that, as a human being, he has not tholed his assize and is out for a probation period. The right hon. Gentleman should go about the administration of this scheme with great care. This is nothing new 745 in the proposal of the Secretary of State. This could all have been done under previous legislation. All these schemes will count for nothing unless the Scottish Office makes provision to provide these centres.
The Bill makes provision for dealing with fines by instalments, and I agree that if we can prevent people going into prison we are doing the best possible thing. There is no more wasteful form of expenditure than to lock people up and if we can prevent them going to prison we will be doing something for their good and for the good of the country.
I wish to cite a case which arose in my constituency, to show just what I mean. One of my constituents, a young man, who had been in difficulties over the payment of some instalments was fined a considerable sum which had to be paid by a certain date. He came to me and said, "I shall not be able to manage it. I just cannot pay the fine and the instalments at the same time".
With the co-operation of the Sheriff-Clerk of Edinburgh arrangements were made to overcome this difficulty, for the alternative would have been to send the man to prison and his wife and children would have become the responsibility of the rate and taxpayers. Thus, anything we can do to prevent people going to prison will help everyone concerned.
I wish to follow the remarks made by my hon. Friend the Member for Glasgow, Maryhill—and, to a considerable extent by my hon. Friend the Member for Edinburgh, East (Mr. Willis)—about the administration of justice in Scotland, for this is important to people who will be charged. I am told that, in Glasgow in particular, the delays between arrest and trial can amount to as long as six months. If that is so—and one has read quite recently of the amazing tangle into which the court has got itself in Glasgow—then, obviously, this calls for some administrative action. How can the problem be tackled? The Bill contains the proposal to appoint two additional judges and I find it difficult to understand such a proposal coming from the Government. For some months last year we were operating without a Lord Justice Clerk.
§ Mr. Hoy
I understand that they sit from Tuesday to Friday and that once a month they sit on a Saturday to deal with divorce actions. If the courts are as hard pressed as the right hon. Gentleman said when introducing the Bill, he might suggest to them that they meet on Mondays to get rid of the backlog.
§ Mr. Hoy
In any case, I do not want to make too much of it. I merely suggest that if there is any danger of the courts being over-worked, they might meet on Mondays. There is also something in the suggestion that divorce cases might be taken in other parts of the country; that it is not essential for everyone to go to Edinburgh—the expense involved must be intolerable. Even under private procedure legislation we do not now ask Scottish contestants to come to London, but carry out the proceedings in Edinburgh, or elsewhere in Scotland.
If this money is available, why not devote it to some other purpose in the administration of justice in Scotland? I am told that one of the reasons for the delays in certain courts is that we have not quite as many sheriffs-substitute as we might need, that procurators are in short supply—and, perhaps, courtrooms as well. If these thousands of pounds are available, I suggest that they might be devoted to the better administration of justice in Scotland rather than to creating more judges at this time.
I must reinforce what has been said by my hon. Friends about the changes relating to the cognate offences rule, previous convictions, and dates of imprisonment. I am certain that this change in Scottish law will not be welcomed. It is quite all right for the right hon. Gentleman to say that, on conviction, offences other than cognate offences will, for the first time in the 747 courts of Scotland, be taken into consideration by the presiding sheriff. The sheriff must be affected if, before he passes sentence, he finds that the person whom he has been trying for some offence has been convicted on other indictments. We should be very careful not to load things too much against the accused or convicted person. We will need some little time in Committee before we agree to a person's previous convictions being placed before the court in this way.
As to the date of imprisonment, it seems to us an imposition that if a person should choose to appeal the time involved will not count in his term of imprisonment. We always run the risk, of course, of the trifling appeal, but surely the law is big enough to find a solution to our problem without the introduction of this Clause.
I must repeat to the noble Lady the question I put to the Secretary of State about Clause 17, because, quite frankly, I did not altogether understand the right hon. Gentleman's answer. The Clause reads:For the purposes of the First Offenders (Scotland) Act 1960, any order made by a court of summary jurisdiction under section 1 or section 2 of the Criminal Justice (Scotland) Act 1949 (which provide for absolute discharge and probation) shall be treated as a conviction.The legal advice I have received is that things have worked quite all right so far without this change being made, and it seems to me that if we have given a young offender an absolute discharge and probation it is a little unfair that, should he again err, we recall that circumstance and place it against his record. In the circumstances, I feel that the right hon. Gentleman is asking us to accept a little too much.
I understand that the noble Lady wants about 35 minutes for her reply, so I content myself with these concluding observations. We welcome the Bill for what it does so far. Some things in it will require considerable amendment. We remind the Secretary of State that we still await one further report. We have at times blamed the right hon. Gentleman for being too slow in bringing forward his legislation. Perhaps, on this occasion, he has been a little too quick with it.
748 The report we have yet to receive will deal with the age of criminal responsibility, and this, of course, could be tremendously important. I trust that we shall not have a repetition of what happened in regard to young people under the English Bill, when the other place raised the age to 12 instead of 8 and then the might of the Government was brought in to reduce it to 10.
When the Bill reaches the Statute Book, a great responsibility will fall upon the Secretary of State and his office. All we do here by the Bill will depend upon the administrative action which is taken and will depend, also, on the facilities, the buildings, and so on, being available to accommodate those who have been convicted.
On behalf of my right hon. and hon. Friends, I extend our thanks to Sheriff Leslie and his Council, including my hon. Friend the Member for Dumbartonshire, West (Mr. Steele), for the work which they have done in providing the Reports on which the Bill is based.
§ 9.26 p.m.
§ The Under-Secretary of State for Scotland (Lady Tweedsmuir)
It is a rather nice change for once not to be taking part in a fishing debate with the hon. Member for Edinburgh, Leith (Mr. Hoy). I thought that the hon. Gentleman brought a very human attitude to some of the very difficult problems with which we are dealing in the Bill.
This very interesting debate has revealed a general acceptance of the main purpose behind the Bill, which is to try to improve the present methods of prevention of and treatment of crime. My right hon. Friend discussed the Bill in detail. I shall try to answer as many as I can of the points which hon. Members have made, although, as some of them said, certain of the points raised were, perhaps, more suitable to be discussed in detail in Committee.
I heartily agree with the hon. Member for Kilmarnock (Mr. Ross), who opened the debate—I hope that he will not be too astonished—that it would be a great advantage, not least to me, were the Lord Advocate to be in the House of Commons. However, I think that we can agree that if some chance of electoral fortune put the hon. Gentleman on these benches he and his hon. Friends might 749 well find themselves in equal difficulty. I have had very great assistance from the Lord Advocate, which I very much appreciate, and from the sheriffs and staff of the courts concerned.
The Bill comes at a time when we all share in concern at the increase in crime. But this increase is not found in this country alone. It is present in many other countries with widely different economies and social structures. Although it is difficult to make exact comparisons because of the varying methods of keeping statistics, it appears that there is an increase of crime in America, Russia and most European countries. Also, it is marked among young people.
Although we may all have our own feelings or opinions about the causes of crime—some with which I disagree were advanced from the Front Bench opposite —it is true to say that the causes of crime are still imperfectly understood. Considerable research and many experts produce conflicting views. One could say that crime appears to stem, in part, from the stress of modern society, the freedom from family discipline and the greater responsibility this gives to young people, from either affluence or poverty —the temptations appear equally potent. As my hon. Friend the Member for Galloway (Mr. Brewis) said, whatever the causes, they certainly lie deep in human character. When we discuss a Bill such as this, I hope we shall not forget the by far the great majority of our young people who are a great tribute to their generation.
If we are gradually to overcome the rise in crime, particularly among young people, our penal service has to be as flexible as possible. The Bill contains some useful improvements to this end. It provides a legal framework for sentence, disposal, treatment and after-care of wrongdoers and is largely concerned with young offenders between the ages of 17 and 21.
The House may be interested to know the numbers of custodial sentences on juvenile and other offenders in 1961 in Scotland: detention in a remand home, 735; approved school, 858; detention centre, 311; borstal, 424; imprisonment of people under 21, 1,247, of which 553 were in default of payment of fines; and imprisonment of those over 21, 13,090, of which 5,525 were in default of payment 750 of fines—which gives point to Clause 25, as was mentioned by my hon. Friend the Member for Galloway.
As the hon. Member for Kilmarnock and many other hon. Members rightly said, this legislation must be matched by the institutions which are described in the Bill and by the improvement of our existing penal buildings. I had a chance to see some of our institutions, and I agree that there is a great deal which is unsatisfactory, but there is also much which is good. I should like to thank the governors and wardens in the various prisons, detention centres, borstals, and remand homes, and the headmasters of approved schools which I visited for their courtesy and the trouble which they took to answer innumerable questions. I am sure that the House would like me to congratulate them and the prison officers and staff, wherever they are, on doing a difficult but extremely interesting and worthwhile job.
It is true that much remains to be done. The hon. Member for Kilmarnock questioned why much more has not been done since the Bill of 1949. I think that everyone will recognise that, although expenditure is rising—and I will give the figures in a moment—a country with an ever-increasing population and expanding needs puts pressures on every one of its public services. We must therefore ask ourselves whether the need for new prisons and other institutions should have priority over education, hospitals, housing and industrial development. I do not think that they can.
§ Lady Tweedsmuir
It is true that more needs to be provided in Scotland, but a great deal is being done. For instance, at this moment expenditure on new buildings and alterations in Scotland is running at just under £500,000 a year. The published estimates for 1963–64 for the prisons are £593,000. I will come to the new buildings in a minute, but, briefly, on the old, we have created about 300 additional places in existing prisons by reconstructions and alterations, and we have made many improvements in our workshops, which many hon. Members have said are very important.
The new places opened recently have all been for young offenders and therefore 751 are closely related to the Bill. As hon. Members know, the first detention centre in Scotland, which takes about sixty young men between the ages of 17 and 21, was opened at Perth in June, 1960. A second detention centre of about the same size and for the same age group will he opened in April next, also at Perth.
In July, we hope to open a new borstal institution in semi-open conditions at Noranside, in Angus, to which my hon. Friend the Member for South Angus (Sir J. Duncan) referred. He hoped very much that due regard would be paid to security because of the feeling of the people in the district. I assure my hon. Friend that those selected to go to Noranside will be carefully chosen with that in mind.
My hon. Friend the Member for Galloway referred to remand institutions, and particularly that at Polmont, which, it is true, is within the perimeter of the borstal, but is separate from it. It was opened towards the end of last year. It provides accommodation and facilities for examination and reports—which every hon. Member has considered to be important—on about 60 young offenders remanded by the courts after conviction but before sentence. Psychiatric services are available.
A second remand institution of the same size has just been opened at Longriggend, near Airdrie, for young people before trial. It is hoped with the opening of these two remand institutions —1 say this in particular to the hon. Member for Glasgow, Maryhill (Mr. Hannan) and my hon. Friend the Member for Ayr (Sir T. Moore)—to keep all young persons on remand awaiting sentence out of Barlinnie Prison. This is important. Search is being made for a more permanent remand centre, if possible near Glasgow. If it can be found, Longriggend will become a junior detention centre for those aged from 14 to 17.
Clause 2 of the Bill describes the new idea of the young offenders institution. It is a new idea because it was felt in the S.A.C.T.O. Report that people of this age should not mix with older prisoners. For this purpose, we hope within the next few months to let contracts for the adaptation of Dumfries borstal to provide 40 extra places to start with and an eventual total of 100.
752 My hon. Friend the Member for Aberdeenshire, West (Mr. Hendry) said that he felt he should criticise the proposed use of Dumfries for that purpose. This was done also by the hon. Member for Glasgow, Woodside (Mr. Carmichael), both because it is an old building and because of the distance involved. For some at least of the young offenders concerned, however, it is necessary to have a secure institution. The Government feel that the only way of providing a young offenders institution without several years delay for new building is to use Dumfries, which is due to be ready in about a year's time.
To those who feel that Dumfries is not quite the right type of building, I add that a great deal of search has gone on throughout Scotland—and is continuing —for existing premises which might be adapted as a young offenders institution. Over 50 premises have been inquired into and a great many inspected, but none as yet has been found suitable. Although some of my hon. Friends have described certain big, old buildings standing in their own grounds as suitable for the purpose, that is not always the case.
The young offenders institution will have to cater for a wide variety of sentences. My hon. Friend the Member for Aberdeenshire, West asked what kind of sentences would be served among the young offenders attending this institution. The majority will be serving short sentences of six months, involving, with the normal two-thirds remission, detention for not more than four months. There will be a few people serving sentences of more than a year. There will be first offenders and there will be others who will already have been in a detention centre, a borstal institution or an approved school. There will also be some young people who have been released from borstal and recalled because of failure to comply with the conditions of post-release supervision.
I share the concern of those who have said how important it is to try to secure proper segregation. An attempt will be made to separate groups as far as is possible, but the trouble is that no single group, as far as can be foreseen, will be there in sufficient numbers to justify a separate building.
The hon. Member for Dunbartonshire, West (Mr. Steele) and my hon. Friend the 753 Member for Ayr asked about the curriculum which was to be carried out in these institutions. The discipline and training of a young offenders institution will be designed generally to encourage these young people to earn privileges by good behaviour, which will mean that they can work outside the institution. Here, of course, psychiatric services will also be available. Otherwise, one could say that it will be a mixture, in some sense, of the régime of a detention centre and a borstal, with workshop training, educational and hobby classes and also discussion groups.
We do not know what use the courts will make of this new sentence of detention in a young offenders centre. We cannot assume that Dumfries, even when it is available to take over 100, will be sufficient. So we are going to hold in reserve accommodation for a further sixty to seventy young men offenders in the former wing for women in Edinburgh Prison, which will be an independent institution with its own workshops and recreation area under the control of its own governor.
We do not want to forecast now what kind of young offenders will be in Dumfries or in Edinburgh. A great deal will depend on the numbers in the different categories. But, in general, young offenders sentenced to terms of less than three months might be expected to go to Edinburgh, and that will ease one disadvantage, felt very strongly by the hon. Member for Woodside, that Dumfries was inconvenient for visits by relatives and friends. We also hope that, in that connection, it may be possible for those serving longer sentences at Dumfries to be brought from time to time, if necessary, to Edinburgh to receive visits.
A good deal has been said about aftercare. The hon. Member for Kilmarnock dealt with this in particular, and several other hon. Members on both sides of the House referred to it. Also the whole question of probation and the Morison Report was dealt with by the hon. Member for Dunbartonshire, West, the hon. Member for Leith and the hon. Member for Woodside. The Bill insists, as several hon. Members have pointed out, on the importance of effective arrangements for 754 after-care. We were asked what the Government's intentions were.
The hon. Member for Dunbartonshire, West in particular made reference to the possible use of probation officers as supervising officers in the same way and to the same extent as they are used in England and Wales, and the House will be aware that the arrangements for carrying out after-care supervision have been under consideration by S.A.C.T.O., which rather inhibited the hon. Gentleman's remarks, as he was a member.
§ Mr. Steele
I may be wrong in my interpretation, but I thought that I carefully refrained from making any proposition as to how it should be done. What I tried to do was to ask that nothing should be in the Bill to prohibit the Secretary of State from doing what he might think should be done.
§ Lady Tweedsmuir
I think that that statement was extremely diplomatic of the hon. Gentleman. I hope that what I said—that it inhibited him—was equally diplomatic. My right hon. Friend has just received this report and arrangements are being made for its publication as soon as possible. We shall simply have to wait until it is published and hon. Members have had a chance to read it before we can consider the matter further.
Nevertheless, existing legislation gives the Secretary of State considerable flexibility in relation to after care, and under the existing law, if this is appropriate, probation officers may be employed as supervising officers in Scotland in the same way as they are employed in England and Wales. The specific answer to the hon. Member for Dunbartonshire, West, who asked that nothing should be done to try to inhibit any improvements, is that the Government are now considering the Report and that if it appears that further or different powers are required amendments will be moved in Committee. Perhaps I should also say now that the Government propose in Committee to make a number of useful cross-Border proposals of the kind in Clauses 26 and 40.
The hon. Member for Dunbartonshire, West regretted that the Bill did not contain provisions carrying out the recommendations of the Morison Committee 755 in relation to the Scottish probation service. I join with him and with my hon. Friend the Member for Renfrew, East (Miss Harvie Anderson) in the tributes which they have paid to the extremely fine work which is done by the probation service. The main recommendations of the Morison Committee in relation to Scotland, which would require legislation, are those relating to the organisation and administration of the service. As the House will remember, the Committee recommended that the basic unit of administration should be the sheriffdom, instead of the county and the large burgh, and also thought that there should be a new type of probation committee to replace that established under the Criminal Justice (Scotland) Act, 1949.
Following the publication of the Report, my right hon. Friend sought the views of those most concerned—the sheriffs, the local authority associations, and the National Association of Probation Officers. It is only very recently that all their comments have come to him, and they are now being considered. The House will agree that it is very difficult to find the right form of organisation for the probation service. It is a social service which operates to the requirements of the courts. I agree that there is a general feeling of disquiet about the efficiency of the present organisation, and that of some of the other social services generally. The Morison Committee had certain criticisms to make and the Government accept that faults have to be remedied.
The S.A.C.T.O. report on after-care, which has just been received, also comments on the administrative implications of a decision, if it were made, to entrust after care and probation to the same service. All one can say to the Probation Service now is that there will be no unnecessary delay in coming to a decision.
The hon. Member also referred to negotiating machinery and pay and conditions of service. The Morison Committee recommended that negotiating machinery for Great Britain should replace the present separate English and Scottish machinery, and it invited both Secretaries of State, the Home Secretary and my right hon. Friend, to consult all the interested parties, of which there 756 are many. This they propose to do, but legislation would not be necessary. The Morison Committee's recommendation on pay and conditions of service clearly took the highest priority and so my right hon. Friend decided that as a first step the pay proposals should be referred to the separate bodies, and, as the House knows, arbitration is about to take place.
The hon. Member for Leith asked if I would try to explain Clause 17.
Mr. Hoy: What I asked was whether the noble Lady would try to explain the Secretary of State's explanation of Clause 17.
§ Lady Tweedsmuir
I heard my right hon. Friend and what he said was that this was a Clause to correct an error in drafting. I should like to make it clear that Clause 17 does not alter the position by which, when probation or an absolute discharge is imposed under Section 1 or Section 2 of the Criminal Justice (Scotland) Act in a summary court in Scotland, the offender is not convicted. I think that that is what was concerning the hon. Member.
§ Lady Tweedsmuir
I am advised that the law already provides that when on a subsequent court appearance previous convictions are laid before the court, an order made in this way without a conviction may be laid before the court as if it were a previous conviction. Therefore, in deciding whether a convicted person is a first offender under the terms of the First Offenders (Scotland) Act, 1960, the court must look to his previous convictions and should be able to regard such an order as a previous conviction. I understand that it was in error that this was omitted from the 1960 Act, and Clause 17 merely remedies the defect.
Can the noble Lady say under what circumstances an absolute discharge on conviction is regarded as not being a previous conviction?
§ Lady Tweedsmuir
Not without notice, and I should also prefer to discuss this in Committee, as no doubt would most other hon. Members.
The hon. Member for Glasgow, Bridgeton (Mr. J. Bennett) spoke 757 extremely interestingly about approved schools, but he said that he thought that the matters which were troubling him were more appropriate to Committee stage, and perhaps we had better therefore leave them until then.
§ Mr. Hoy
My hon. Friend was perturbed about the numbers of children sent to approved schools on conviction for truancy. I thought that the noble Lady would tell us how many children were in that category.
Lady Tweedsmuir I should be delighted to do so at a later stage, but one of the most important parts of the Bill deals with legal aid, and perhaps I should now deal with that.
§ Mr. Bennett
The latest figures which I have show that of 1,520 children in approved schools 55 boys and 26 girls were there because of truancy.
§ Lady Tweedsmuir
I am sure that we shall hear more about that in Committee.
The hon. Members for Kilmarnock, Glasgow, Craigton (Mr. Millan) and Edinburgh, East (Mr. Willis) spoke in particular about criminal legal aid. We were reminded that the Guthrie Committee recommended that legal aid should be available as of right, not only in connection with solemn proceedings, but also in the sheriff summary court, provided the accused was charged with an offence for which imprisonment is a competent penalty. Hon. Members asked why the Bill departs from this recommendation in so far as it relates to the sheriff summary court.
As has been pointed out, the Bill leaves in force the provisions of the Legal Aid (Scotland) Act, 1949, that make legal aid available as of right in connection with solemn proceedings. It also introduces, for the summary court, new provisions. Under these, legal aid will not be given unless the court considers that, in all the circumstances of the case, it is in the interests of justice. These new provisions do not follow the distinction drawn by the Guthrie Committee between offences for which imprisonment is a competent penalty and those for which it is not.
The Guthrie Committee recognised that in providing legal aid as of right in all criminal cases, the 1949 Act had 758 gone too far. If this is accepted, it is then a question of where to draw the line, between the grant of legal aid as of right or on the court's certificate. The Guthrie Committee's recommendation would have made legal aid available as of right for some cases in the sheriff summary court but not for others. A distinction would have been drawn between offences for which imprisonment is a competent penalty and those where it is not. We take the view that there is no need for an automatic right to legal aid in any category of case in a summary court; that the proper place to draw the line is between solemn proceedings on the one hand and summary proceedings on the other, and this the Bill provides. In this connection I should mention that in England and Wales the line is drawn between murder cases and other cases. I understand that, if the charge is murder, legal aid is available as of right, but that in other cases it is given only if the court grants a certificate.
§ Lady Tweedsmuir
I agree that the poor people's agents in Scotland have given a very fine voluntary service for a long time, but I think that the Bill tries to get the right balance, short of giving a complete right to legal aid in all cases. By comparison with England and Wales the Bill is generous in allowing legal aid as of right in all cases taken by solemn procedure, and I think that this is reasonable.
I should remind hon. Members that the Bill provides that in the sheriff summary court and in the justice of the peace juvenile court legal aid for the early stages of a case will be available without inquiry into the accused person's means and without the court's certificate if the accused is in custody. This is a practical arrangement which will enable the court to proceed at once with a custody case without granting an adjournment to enable the accused to apply for aid. In cited cases, that is cases in which the accused is not in custody, he has time to apply for legal aid before the first hearing.
I was also asked when the Government intended to introduce a statutory 759 scheme for criminal legal aid under the 1949 Act as amended by this Bill. I cannot give a firm date, but I hope that it will be possible to bring the Act into operation in connection with criminal proceedings in the course of the financial year 1963–64. The timetable will depend on the speed of the Bill's progress through Parliament and on the time taken to prepare the subordinate instruments which are required, and to complete the necessary administrative arrangements.
Many hon. Members spoke about Clauses 16, 23, 30 and 32 which have been the subject of a submission given, I think, to all Scottish Members by the Glasgow Bar Association. I should have liked to have dealt with them in detail, because I am fortified by a document from the Lord Advocate himself on each of these points, but I feel that we can deal with this in Committee. That being so, I conclude by saying that I think the Bill has received a general welcome. I assure the House that the Government will carefully consider any improvements to it, but, as my right hon. Friend said at the start of this debate, our knowledge of the causes of crime and the treatment of offenders is still extraordinarily limited even in this twentieth century, so the Bill is based on the best expert advice that we can get, and I commend it to the House.
§ Question put and agreed to.
§ Bill accordingly read a Second time.
§ Bill committed to a Standing Committee pursuant to Standing Order No. 38 (Committal of Bills).
§ Notwithstanding anything in paragraph (2) of Standing Order No. 57 (Standing Committees (constitution and powers)) and Standing Order No. 59 (Scottish Standing Committee), Bill to be considered by the Scottish Standing Committee.—[Mr. Noble.]