HC Deb 27 June 1963 vol 679 cc1636-7
14. Mrs. Hart

asked the Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations if he will initiate a conference of Ministers from countries of the Commonwealth who are concerned with judicial and penal questions, together with expert advisers, to discuss the merits of various penal methods, including the use of corporal punishment.

The Under-Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations (Mr. John Tilney)

I understand that a United Nations Congress on the Prevention of Crime and the Treatment of Offenders is to be held in Stockholm in August, 1965. This may be proceeded by a series of regional meetings also under United Nations auspices. My right hon. Friend sees no need for a Commonwealth Conference in addition.

Mrs. Hart

This conference will, of course, be welcome. But is the hon. Gentleman aware, for example, that in Tanganyika in our own Commonwealth some convicted prisoners are to have 24 strokes of the cane every year of their imprisonment? Is it not a pity if we cannot assist within the Commonwealth some of our former territories to achieve more quickly than we did in a hundred years of struggle enlightenment on penal procedures, and is not this a direct Government responsibility?

Mr. Tilney

Tanganyika is a sovereign independent State of the Commonwealth, and neither I, my right hon. Friend, nor Her Majesty's Government have any responsibility for it.

Mr. G. M. Thomson

Will the hon. Gentleman ensure that when our delegation is being made up for the conference that is to take place it will include representatives from some of our Colonial Territories so that they may enjoy the benefits of more progressive methods of penal reform?

Mr. Tilney

I will bear the views of the hon. Gentleman in mind.