HC Deb 04 June 1964 vol 695 cc1233-4
15. Mr. A. Brown

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many children, being persons under the age of 17, were remanded to prison instead of remand homes and remand centres during the period 1st January to 30th April, 1964.

The Joint Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department (Miss Mervyn Pike)

213 persons under 17 were remanded to prison in this period.

Mr. Brown

Is my hon. Friend aware that that figure seems slightly higher than the figure for the corresponding period last year? Is she aware that as long ago as July, 1960, the then Minister of State, Home Department, promised the House that steps would be taken to end this out-dated practice of remanding children to prison?

Miss Pike

I assure my hon. Friend that the number does not show an increase. It is the general trend. We are not complacent about it. We are anxious to bring it down.

Miss Bacon

Is the hon. Lady aware that in 1961 the then Home Secretary, now the Foreign Secretary, promised that we should very soon have many new remand centres opened? When will they be opened? Three years later very little appears to have been done.

Miss Pike

There is a Question later on the Order Paper on this subject.

Mrs. Braddock

Is the hon. Lady aware that many magistrates, myself included, when they sit in juvenile courts are informed by the clerk of the court before even the case starts that there are no vacancies in remand homes? Is she aware that the magistrates are left in the position, when there is no place of security, despite the fact that they do not want children to be sent to prison, of having to send them there in many cases in order to avoid difficulties and to save the time of the police in looking for boys who do not come to court when they have been allowed to go home? This is a difficult matter which ought not to be allowed to continue any longer.

Miss Pike

I think that the hon. Lady will be more than satisfied when she hears the Answer to a later Question.