HC Deb 09 December 1966 vol 737 cc1804-24

2.48 p.m.

Mr. Joseph Hiley (Pudsey)

I beg to move, That this House congratulates the Northorpe Hall Trust on the success of their experiment in treating young offenders who would otherwise be sent to Borstal institutions and calls on the Home Secretary to provide all possible assistance to this and similar future experiments consistent with the fully independent control which is essential to this form of treatment. "My Government will be actively concerned to make more effective the means of sustaining the family and treating delinquency." Those words were contained in the Gracious Speech in October 1964. I believe that they would command the wholehearted support of every hon. Member. In August, 1965, Command Paper 2742 was published drawing attention to the various official and unofficial bodies which had considered means by which crime could be prevented and how the offenders could be treated.

The increase in crime in recent years has given rise to growing public concern. Many people are physically afraid and more are extremely resentful of the waste and disturbance caused by juvenile delinquency. It is no wonder that those who have suffered, especially those who have had regular attention from the culprits, should demand more severe punishment. That is not the purpose of this Motion today. The White Paper reminds us that the causes of delinquency are complex and that too little is known about it with any certainty. It is clear that such delinquency and many social problems can be traced back to inadequacy or breakdown in the family.

The right place to begin, therefore, is with the family. I could not help thinking as I listened to the long and protracted debate about restricting tobacco advertising on television that so many of these poor and inadequate homes seem to regard a television set as their first priority. It would be a good thing if the powers that be could prevent the showing of crime films and other features which are so common which refer particularly to crime in so many homes which contain potential juvenile offenders.

Much of the White Paper, The Child, The Family and The Young Offender. deals with changes in court procedures, but the proposals made therein are likely to be severely criticised by many. Fortunately, it will not be necessary for my purpose to enter into that controversy I therefore proceed on the basis of the present circumstances. However, assure the House that if all the changes suggested in the White Paper were made they would not affect the operation of the Northorpe Hall experiment.

Hon. Members are aware that the minimum age at which a child can be brought before the juvenile court is 10. Committal to an approved school cannot be made under that age. A child may not be sent for borstal treatment or even to a detention centre until he is 15. Offenders below the age of 10 are dealt with by a variety of means—children's committees, teachers, club leaders, scout movements, child guidance clinics, and so on. But I ask the House to observe that none of these is concerned exclusively with the treatment of offenders.

After the age of 10 the juvenile court comes into the picture. There are at least eight alternatives available to those courts when they are deciding what treatment should be given to a guilty young offender, starting from the absolute discharge to the conditional discharge up to borstal treatment. The decision is an agonising one for magistrates, for more often than not none of the alternatives seems just right. An absolute discharge may be too lenient—those who have suffered from these young people very often think that it is—and committal to borstal may be far too severe. The juvenile court must have regard to the welfare of the offender. In effect, it is a court of law and a welfare-promoting agency at the same time.

I do not wish to use technical terms such as "emotionally disturbed", but to recognise that largely due to unsatisfactory home conditions a boy has engaged in anti-social acts. If the diagnosis is right it would appear sensible to try to give the child that love, care and attention and, when necessary, correction and punishment which he has never known. That is exactly what Northorpe Hall has been trying to do for the past four years. I think that hon. Members will be interested to know how it started and how it achieves that end.

The first director of Northope Hall, when an undergraduate, volunteered to go to help with some refugee children's camps in Central Europe in 1959. These camps were arranged and organised by an organisation known as the Children's Relief International. Those concerned recognised the value of the work which they were doing among these children. When they came home they conceived the idea of a similar holiday camp for difficult children in this country.

With the aid of the Leeds Probation Service, 36 difficult children between the ages of 10 and 13 were taken to Malvern. This holiday camp was a very great success, albeit the children were there for far too short a period for establishing a close relationship between them and the adult. While they were still wondering how they could proceed with this work, they had a windfall. Children's Relief International heard that an old lady had died and, in her will, had left them a 17th century farm house named Northorpe Hall at Mirfield in Yorkshire and £11,000 which would be available to them to equip it for any purpose which they thought appropriate. The C.R.I. obviously could not use this hall for the original purpose of looking after displaced children in Europe, but it was gratified that its work had been recognised by this lady who expressed tremendous admiration for what it had done.

Following this, a trust was formed known as the Northorpe Hall Trust. This has been established with management and case committees. It has already been operating for four years. Nine boys, sometimes ten, have been going to Northorpe Hall every Friday evening after school and remaining there until Sunday evening. Nine boys go for the first weekend of the month, a different nine boys for the second week so that there are about 40 boys a month under the care of Northorpe Hall throughout the year.

The management and case committees are composed of a Leeds University lecturer in psychiatric social work; four probation officers, including the principal probation officer; four magistrates from the juvenile court; and the staff of Northorpe Hall. The trust is managed by Mr. Hill-Wood of the City of London, Mr. Cleworth, who was until recently the Leeds Stipendiary Magistrate, Mr. Faith-full Davies, director of the Childrens Relief International; the first director, Mr. Duncan, who has left the hall and is preparing for ordination; and myself. The Bishop of Wakefield is a visitor.

Boys are not "sent" to Northorpe Hall in the sense that they are sent to borstal. They are invited to go there and I assure the House that more want to go than can be accommodated. They let off steam in the garden, playroom, public baths or by taking excusions into the neighbouring countryside. Self-expression is encouraged, but firmly bound by a strong line of discipline. Just as the slipper may occasionally have to be used in a sensible home, so it is used at Northorpe Hall, but not very often.

The Northorpe Hall method is unique in that there is no break with the home and local environment. When the boys return to their homes on Sundays and to their schools on Mondays the staff use the weekdays to visit the families in their homes and, by now, have managed to build up a bond of friendship and understanding between the boys' parents and themselves. These families are often large and it is frequently clear that younger brothers may find themselves in the same position as the boys on probation, and for the same reason. For this reason, younger brothers are invited, and frequently go, to Northorpe Hall. They go there gladly and enthusiastically.

I suggest that this is preventive treatment at its best. No policemen are involved. No policemen usher the boys into the mini-van to make the 14-mile journey to Northorpe Hall, nor do any kindly probation officers wait at Northorpe Hall for the boys to arrive, and when they get there there are no bars or locked doors. That is the cardinal principle of the system and treatment that we are trying to establish and increase.

The principal probation officer, who is an enthusiastic supporter of Northorpe Hall, enumerates the advantages of the experiment in these words: The value of the Northorpe Hall experiment is that it enables children under school leaving age voluntarily to spend short periods away from home at the week-end and during school holidays without totally taking them out of the home situation. Four benefits may thereby accrue:—

  1. 1. The child and his problems are reached at an early stage. It is the general policy 1808 of the Northorpe Hall Case Committee to consider children between the ages of 10 and 12. It does also consider children under 10 years of age.
  2. 2. The child obtains experience of communal living with members of his own group, along with understanding adults consistent in their attitudes, who participate in group activities with the lads and at the same time come to know them and their families individually.
  3. 3. In many cases the partial withdrawal of a child presenting behaviour problems from the home situation serve to relieve the pressure and tensions existing there."
It is important to remember that references to the boys' own homes. The officer goes on: This in turn enables harrassed parents better to cope with the difficulty. 4. There is considerable flexibility in the value of the project which can extend beyond the time limits of a Probation Order, as well as starting before any statutory agency may be involved. It can be short term or long term, according to need. He goes on to assess the success of this sort of work.

This proposal is in its early stages, but only today I have had a communication from a lecturer at Bradford University stating that he is prepared to undertake an investigation, in comparative terms, to decide and, ultimately, prove how successful we are being in this work.

Apart from small grants from the Leeds Children's Committee, all the money has so far come from voluntary donations. The Trust is, and always has been, short of money. At present we require about £9,000 a year—and by voluntary methods this is a great sum to raise. It costs about £260 a year to care for a boy, compared with about £700 for treatment in the established institutions, although it is fair to remind the House that the other institutions cater for boys full-time whereas at Northorpe Hall we feed and look after the boys for two days a week. If our method is to succeed, as I am sure it will, and is to point the way to the future treatment of young offenders, a considerable saving to the Exchequer could ultimately accrue from the work being done at Northorpe Hall. It is saving the country a considerable amount in maintenance costs alone, but I suggest that there is an incalculable gain to the country if we can direct the lives of these young people from paths of crime to honest endeavour.

The initial success demands that the experiment be continued in other cities. Voluntary control and a family atmosphere are essential fundamentals of the treatment. It is for that reason that I commend it to the House and trust that the Home Secretary will consider supporting the continuation of this work most generously.

I conclude by quoting what Mr. Justice Barry said in the preface to a report he made to the Home Office in 1962 entitled. "Non-Residential Treatment of Offenders under 21": The present rate of crime among offenders under 21 demands from everyone concerned with the welfare of young people new and lively ought about the problem of delinquency and a readiness to experiment with new ways of tackling this problem…some of us would not exclude the possibility of an experiment with a non-residential centre for offenders by a voluntary organisation willing to undertake it. I hope that what I have said, plus those words of Mr. Justice Barry's, will influence the right hon. Lady, who I know is already familiar with the work of Northorpe Hall, because she represents a Leeds constituency. The fact that she knows so much about it made me hope that she would have sent the Home Secretary himself here to listen to me today, but I hope that she will pass on what I have said and I hope that the experiment which has been started so well will have some encouragement from the Home Office to enable us to carry on.

3.7 p.m.

Mr. Percy Grieve (Solihull)

It is with very great pleasure that I rise to support my hon. Friend the Member for Pudsey (Mr. Hiley) in commending the Motion to the favourable consideration of the House and of the right hon. Lady the Minister of State, Home Office. Many things divide the two sides of the House, but we are all united in our urgent desire to see that our youth grow up straight and honest and make good citizens for the future. We may, and sometimes do, differ about the means by which we hope that this may be secured.

My hon. Friend referred to the White Paper on the Juvenile Offender, which contains things which cause disagreement between the two sides of the House and, indeed, between Members on the same tide. However, I do not propose in the short time available today, and knowing that many hon. Members wish to speak, to enlarge the scope of this debate or to refer to that in any detail.

The problem to which my hon. Friend devoted his attention today, and to which I am happy to learn that he is devoting his own voluntary efforts in supporting the Northorpe Hall scheme, is one of the most urgent problems facing us today. I do not propose to quote a large number of figures, but three sets of figures illustrate in a most compelling way the gravity of the problem. I am looking at the criminal statistics for England and Wales for 1965. On page 12 are set out the statistics of persons found guilty of offences of all kinds, by age groups. Under the heading of "Persons Found Guilty of Indictable Offences" we find, under the age of 14, 25,073; between the ages of 14 and 17, 37,797; between the ages of 17 and 21, 44,804. The total of persons found guilty of indictable offences in all age groups over 21 is 110,761. Therefore, of a total of 218,435 persons found guilty of indictable offences in this country in 1965, very nearly a half were under 21.

One other set of figures, comparing 1965 with 1938, illustrates the great gravity of this problem. Of male persons found guilty of indictable offences between the ages of 14 and 17, in 1938 there were 11,645 and in 1965 32,818—nearly a threefold increase. Of those found guilty of indictable offences between the ages of 17 and 21, in 1938 there were 10,131 and in 1965, 40,486—very nearly a fourfold increase.

Similar figures are to be found to illustrate the numbers of persons found guilty of non-indictable offences. The figures for males in the 14 to 17 age group in 1938 were 17,782 and in 1965, 26,499. In the 17 to 21 age group, in 1938 the figures were 38,042 and in 1965, 51,450. These figures illustrate more graphically than any amount of talking the gravity of the problem which we are facing. In those circumstances, I submit that any realistic and imaginative contribution to the problem of solving crime is one which is worthy of the most serious consideration.

I agree completely with what my hon. Friend suggested that, by and large—there are, of course, exceptions to everything—one of the root causes of crime, perhaps the biggest root cause of all, is to be found in lack of security and lack of love and affection in early childhood. This is something which arises as often as not from broken homes, unhappy homes and homes where there are already delinquents in the family. I submit that it is with this cause of crime that schemes of the Northorpe Hall kind are particularly designed to deal.

Here I should like to draw on my own personal experience of this matter. It is 10 years since I first began to sit in judgment at quarter sessions, 10 years in which I have sat regularly for 30 or 40 days a year and have had the sad duty of hearing the antecedents of the accused at the end of a case, sometimes on a plea of guilty and sometimes after a finding of guilty by a jury. One of the things which has struck me forcibly and has gravely shocked me has been the number of times I have found that a career of crime has not, as it were, begun in crime but has begun in cases where somebody was in unsuitable surroundings or, to use the official expression, "in want of care and attention", and has been sent to an approved school. I have found that in numerous cases.

The first time that person went to an institution was not because of an offence but because an offence was likely to be committed, because the person was in need of care and attention. At a tender age, sometimes eight, nine or ten, he has been sent to an approved school. There, unfortunately, he has met others, some of whom have committed offences, and has fallen into the sort of habits that that kind of communication engenders.

It has always seemed to me that there was room for an institution of a different kind from the approved school for people whose real needs were not of correction but of care and attention. I had it in mind to make that point for years before I had the honour of being elected to the House and I am happy to have the opportunity of making it today.

Drawing on my experience, it seems to me that it is precisely for this kind of care, or the case of a person only just on the fringe of crime who has a delinquent brother or sister, that a scheme of the Northorpe Hall kind is designed. That kind of scheme merits not merely the encouragement of the voluntary worker but of the Government and the Home Office.

Nobody with experience of the courts should lose an opportunity of paying a tribute to the great value of the work done by the Probation Service. The courts increasingly rely on probation reports, and on the personal contacts which probation officers make with those under their care, in their heavy duty of deciding on the future of offenders. Northorpe Hall has the assistance and approbation of the Probation Service, and for that reason too I would commend it to the House.

There are many ways of meeting the problem of juvenile delinquency and I hope that we shall go on devising others. There is borstal, which fulfils an admirable purpose. It is often said that when people go to borstal they are among bad companions, and that once a boy goes to borstal he is finished. In my experience that is far from being the case. I believe that the rate of success at borstal—I am speaking from memory, and the right hon. Lady will correct me if I am wrong—is about 50 per cent. Considering that borstal very often gets the boys after they have committed a number of offences, that is a high rate of success.

Detention centres fulfil a very useful purpose, and for the younger child there is the approved school. But there is the child who is more sinned against than sinning, and whose real need is security, love and affection much more than correction, for whom some other institution might be devised. It seems to me that Northorpe Hall mets that need in Leeds, and I hope that there may be other Northorpe Halls to meet it in other parts of the country.

For those reasons, I commend the Motion to the House and particularly to the right hon. Lady, although there may be room for improvement in the precise way that the House accepts the Motion. For instance, I understand that the children who go to Northorpe Hall are not of borstal age. But that is a point on the drafting of the Motion. It is to the spirit of the Motion that I invite the approbation of the House and of the right hon. Lady the Minister of State.

3.20 p.m.

Mr. William Wilson (Coventry, South)

The House is extremely grateful to the hon. Member for Pudsey (Mr. Hiley) for moving his Motion. At the outset of his speech, he rightly told us that the causes of crime among juveniles and young offenders are complex indeed. The ways of dealing with these offenders run all the way from absolute discharge to a period at a borstal institution.

For the courts which have to consider the cases of juvenile and young offenders coming before them, far more than for the adult courts, the real question must always be, "Why did this individual commit this crime?" It is imperative, therefore, that in dealing with young offenders, the court should know as much as it can why the offences are committed; but it is in this part of our criminal administration that we are at present most lacking. We do not know enough about the background and the reason why offences have been committed. This is why I am so glad to welcome the Motion. The more time we can devote to, and the more experience we can gain with, those who have actually committed offences the better will the administration of our criminal justice be.

In these days, when there is a shortage of money, of staff and of buildings to administer our criminal code, we must have some priorities. If staff, buildings and money must be rationed, the rationing should always be in favour of the juveniles and young offenders. We can never hope to solve the problem of adult crime without first solving the problem of crimes committed by juveniles and young offenders. If we solve this problem, we shall go a long way towards solving the other.

For these reasons, I hope that my right hon. Friend the Minister of State will give wholehearted encouragement to such schemes as Northorpe Hall and will be able to tell us that this scheme is only a forerunner of what the Home Office hopes to do in other areas.

3.23 p.m.

Mr. T. L. Iremonger (Ilford, North)

There could be no better way to do justice to the Motion and the way my hon. Friend the Member for Pudsey (Mr. Hiley) moved it than to say that he has spoken and acted like a true Yorkshire-man. What he has done has been intensely practical, very sensible and motivated by true kindness, and I hope that the right hon. Lady the Minister of State will consider herself embraced within that commendation.

The House is right to respond warmly to the Motion. Having myself spent two years on the abortive Royal Commission on the Penal System. I am enormously interested in what my hon. Friend said and aware of the very wide questions concerning juvenile delinquency which the Motion raises. This is one of the matters in our society about which we are all deeply concerned.

The theme of my hon. Friend's message was, I thought, best expressed in the prospectus of Northorpe Hall, of which he kindly handed me a copy, which recognises that the need is for more and better fences at the top of the cliff instead of ambulances at the bottom. That gets to the root of the problem—to the root of the entire problem of delinquency and crime in modern society. It is the theme which we on this side tried to put to the country in "Crime knows no Boundaries", the gist of which we incorporated in the party's manifesto at the last election. We there made a brief reference to schemes of remedial training in schools which, we feel, are far more important in dealing with crime than anything that might be done for criminals who have already committed crimes and have been caught and sentenced.

I have become increasingly sceptical over the years of what is called treatment. "Treatment" is the word we give to shutting up people in understaffed establishments, having no clue whatever about what to do with them and then letting them out at the end of an arbitrarily determined sentence and hoping that they will do better. I have long thought that this "treatment" was a totally meaningless concept and that it would be far better not to wrap up what we do in a hypocritical term like "treatment". There may be better and there may be worse ways of dealing with people in custody, but to say that by any method of custody we can "treat" the deep-seated personal, social disease which has brought them inside is a little too hopeful.

The juvenile failure rate even in borstal—which is a marvellous concept, marvellously carried out by the dedicated people in the borstal institutions—is 60 per cent., and that is failure. It simply means that the young people who come out and do not commit further crime were not going to commit it in any event, and that those who are going to commit further crime have had nothing whatever done for them.

Spending an indeterminate time in bad company and then being let out, even on licence to be looked after by probation officers with the best will in the world, is a recipe for failure. It is too late. Once a young man has embarked on a career of crime, the only two things that will cure him are, first, time and, secondly, marrying. The latter is true because, on the whole, girls are better adjusted to our society than men and they very soon sort the boys out. I have submitted to the House before that marriage is the best treatment for delinquency. It is difficult to impose and, of course, there are some for whom it cannot apply.

I have also become increasingly sceptical, if it does not sound too arrogant to say so, about another of the sacred cows of our penal system: research. The two words which are most bandied about in penal circles are "treatment" and "research". They are both utterly phoney and bogus. I have no doubt whatever what the cause of crime is; one does not need research into it. Change—and we are living in an era of more explosive change than ever before—causes social stress, and stress causes breakdown in individual people. One of the symptoms of breakdown is behaving in a way of which those who have not broken down do not approve. Therefore, the root cause has nothing to do with the penal system or with the social order. It is concerned with the enormous changes that society is undergoing.

That is borne out by the fact that, contrary to what one would expect, the lowest incidence of crime occurs in countries where the standard of living is usually lowest. life is hardest and, one would think, there was most invitation to people to commit crime. Crimes are not committed in those primitive and remote rural communities which are largely sustained by traditional institutions, because people there are not subjected to the stress of change. They know their place in society—they may not like it but they accept it—and they are not moved by this terrible sense of being adrift which is the trouble at the root of juvenile crime.

It is also borne out by the observed phenomenon that as the school leaving age is raised, the maximum incidence of crime always occurs in the year before and the year after leaving school. It comes not at the age of 13, 14, 15 or 16, but in the two years when the individual is beginning to face, first, doubt in his soul about what will be his place in society and then, in the following year, doubt in his soul about whether he is fitting in and able to identify himself with the social environment in which he has to work.

Therefore, I think that research into the causes of crime is unnecessary. My mind is closed on the matter. I think the ultimate wisdom lies with those who say there is no such thing as a happy criminal. The root of the problem which my hon Friend is putting to the House is how are we going to get at the potentially deeply unhappy people. How are we going to give them the kind of happiness and sense of identity and belonging to society which means that they will not want to commit crimes? I do not commit crimes, not because I am afraid of the law, but because my own self-respect prevents me from doing so. I am not tempted to steal. Most of us do not commit crimes simply because we are not tempted to do so. But let us ask why would hon. Members not read the private letters of a friend which they might happen to find lying about in his rooms? That is the sort of temptation with which well-to-do people might be faced. They do not do it, not because they might be found out or punished, but simply because they do not want to be that sort of person. Therefore, I suggest, it is only by the self imposition of standards, by which a human being can live in a happy and confident relationship with people whom he respects, that we will build up the fortifications which will stop a man from committing crimes.

It is no use telling a person what he ought to do or dictate to him what his standards should be. That is about as real as going around the desert and planting a lot of plastic trees. These things have to grow from the roots of the human being and the Motion of my hon. Friend has got to the secret heart of the matter.

It is necessary to find these individual human beings who are in jeopardy and to give them the kind of support and comfort in their own society which they ought to get, but which they do not get, from their own families.

This is an intensely personal job which has to be done. A probation officer cannot be expected to have resources of time or dedication to give to individual "cases"—as they are bound to seem to him. Therefore, the House should say to the hon. Lady that she should ask herself what the Government should do about that. This is really what this debate is about: what we are asking the right hon. Lady to do? I would submit, first, that we should congratulate her on one thing which she—or her right hon. Friend—has already done. She has, as I suggested should be done, embraced in the terms of reference of the Advisory Council, which was set up to consider the treatment of offenders, the duty to consider prevention as well as treatment of crime. Now the hon. Lady should ask the Advisory Council to turn its attention to this Northorpe Hall experiment, and others like it, and suggest to the Government what help it needs and how institutions like it can be set up in other parts of the country.

The Government should, further, extend the responsibility of the Advisory Council on the Treatment of Offenders which has taken the place of the abortive Royal Commission. This really ought to be an inter-Departmental organisation. The treatment of offenders is not a matter which is primarily and solely the concern of the Home Office. It concerns the Department of Health, the sphere of psychiatric social work and the special hospitals, like Rampton and so on. It concerns even more urgently the Department of the Secretary of State for Education and Science, because a very large part of this responsibility should lie upon the teachers, who should be conducting special remedial classes in all secondary modern schools for those backward, slow-learners who find themselves outpaced by their contemporaries and not adjusted to the demands or life in modern society, and who are very easily tempted to fall into delinquency as a compensation to make themselves important. I should like the right hon. Gentleman to widen the scope of the Advisory Council, so that the Department of Education and Science could be brought in and experiments like this embraced as part of the educational system.

Thirdly, of course, I would want to endorse the plea for the obvious help which should be given in the form of funds. After all, it is a little ironic that this whole experiment, which I think is rich with hope, should depend upon the entirely fortuitous chance that a lady died and left her property and money for this purpose. This is something which, the Government might well realise, would be a pricelessly worthwhile investment for taxpayers' money, not only because of the material damage which it would save but because of the enormous spiritual suffering and the waste of human lives which could be prevented.

3.36 p.m.

The Minister of State, Home Office (Miss Alice Bacon)

This has been a most interesting debate, and I wish that we could have more like it, at greater length and with more hon. Members present, We are all grateful to the hon. Member for Pudsey (Mr. Hiley) for raising this matter. I ought to be more grateful than anyone else in the House, perhaps, because probably more children from my constituency go to Northorpe Hall than from his and probably any other.

The debate has ranged wider than I thought it would, but I will do my best in the short time available to answer most of the questions raised. The whole problem—I know that the hon. Member for Ilford, North (Mr. Iremonger) does not like the word "treatment"—of the juvenile offender is extremely important. We all know that the juvenile delinquent of today is the criminal of tomorrow and that if we can deal with juvenile delinquency at its roots many people would not commit crimes in adult life.

The hon. and learned Member for Solihull (Mr. Grieve) gave some rather frightening figures about the amount of juvenile delinquency. Of course, these figures are to be regretted. It does not make the problem any better, but perhaps I ought to add that the proportion of juvenile delinquency to adult crime over the years from 1938 has not changed. It is not that the juvenile delinquency rate is going up much higher than the adult rate—indeed, in the last figures published it was only a very small movement—but that the rate of juvenile delinquency did not go up quite as much as the rate of adult crime. If there is any comfort to be drawn at all, perhaps there is some slight crumb in those figures. I agree with the hon. Member that juvenile delinquency is a serious problem, and the Government take it seriously.

The hon. and learned Member for Solihull said that the root causes of crime were lack of security and lack of love and affection. There is no doubt that, for the majority of young people who find their way to the juvenile courts, family circumstances have had a great deal to do with what has happened to them. I once visited an approved school which had 118 boys in residence at the time. The headmaster made a quick survey for me and found that only 30 had been living with both their own parents immediately before they entered the approved school.

But we must also have in mind the fact that it is not only the boy or girl from what one might call the "poor" home who is concerned. These days, children from what are considered quite good homes are getting into trouble. Indeed, I sometimes feel that perhaps parents can be a little too indulgent with their children——

Mr. Grieve

I do not want to be misunderstood. I made the point that a great deal of crime had roots in lack of security, love and affection. Of course there are other roots, but the Motion was directed to the particular case of lack of security, love and affection.

Miss Bacon

I agree entirely that most of it is lack of security, love and affection. But there seems to he a new element—juvenile delinquency among other types of children from other types of home.

I could not agree more with what the hon. Gentleman said about approved schools. It is true that quite a number, particularly of girls, who find their way into approved schools do so, not because they have committed an offence, but because they are in need of care, protection and control. The figures are significant as between boys and girls. In the case of boys, 95 per cent. of those who enter approved schools do so because they have committed an offence and only 5 per cent. because they are in need of care, protection or control. With girls, the situation is quite different. Only about 40 per cent. of girls who enter approved schools do so because they have committed an offence, while 60 per cent. of them are there because they are in need of care, protection or control.

I agree with what the hon. Gentleman said about approved schools and hope. therefore, that, when we discuss this in more detail at a later stage, he will agree entirely with what we suggest in our White Paper about approved schools—The Child, the Family and the Young Offender—to abolish the approved school order as such.

We shall always have to have some kind of establishment for boys and girls who need residential training and treatment, but what has been wrong in the past has been the inflexibility of the approved school order. The juvenile court commits a boy or girl to an approved school, but very often when the child gets there it is found that it is not the right place for him. This ties up with what the hon. Member for Ilford, North said.

In such a case, we might find that a child should be in a special school, a special educational establishment or a school for maladjusted children. Perhaps he should not be in an educational establishment or a Home Office establishment or care of children establishment but should be receiving psychiatric treatment under the Ministry of Health. But once there has been an approved school order from the court, it is very difficult to vary the treatment in the way we would like to do. That is why we suggest in the White Paper that the only order required where residential treatment is needed is a fit person order, committing a child to the care of the local authority. It would then be left to the local authority to determine the right treatment.

The hon. Gentleman also mentioned other forms of treatment available in addition to approved schools, such as borstals and detention centres. I would also put in a word on something not mentioned today—the attendance centre. Boys are sent to such centres for Saturday afternoons or evenings for a few hours when the court thinks that this will probably be sufficient to pull them up.

As the hon. Member for Pudsey knows, we have a successful attendance centre in the City of Leeds.

My hon. Friend the Member for Coventry, South (Mr. William Wilson) said that it was necessary to understand the whole background of why an offence had been committed. I certainly agree, but it is not always easy. That is why we set great store in our White Paper on finding out why a child has behaved in the way he has and we think it more important to find out why a child behaves in a particular way and to see how we can help him than to bring him before a juvenile court and record the fact that he or she has committed an offence.

The hon. Member for Ilford, North mentioned our new advisory council, and I will certainly see that the experiment at Northorpe Hall is drawn to its attention. I also agreed very much when he said that at least in the whole treatment of juvenile offenders not only the Home Office but health and education should be brought in. He will know that, arising out of the White Paper, the Government have accepted the whole concept of a family service, because we think that at local authority level we have to bring in all aspects of local social services, education, health and so on and we hope that by early next year, at least by the spring or early summer, the Seebohm Committee, which is considering this whole question of how to set up a family service, will have reported.

Mr. Iremonger

I do not want to be written into this family service business on the strength of what I have said. I should like to reserve my position on that.

Miss Bacon

I note what the hon. Gentleman has said, but if he will think about this quietly later he will see that the family service is an attempt to bring all the services at local authority level into the treatment of children. However, we shall have to wait and see what the Seebohm Committee reports. We all know that it is not very easy to reorganise the whole of the local authority personal social services.

I come now to the principle matter raised by the hon. Member for Pudsey. Perhaps I should correct him on just one thing. lie said that no child under the age of 10 could be brought before the courts. That is not strictly correct. No child can be brought before the courts as having committed an offence if under the age of 10, but a child can be brought before the courts under the age of 10 as in need of care, protection and control. I agree with him that the family is the right place to begin, and he and others have stressed the importance of home conditions.

The hon. Gentleman has brought to our notice today the specific matter of Northorpe Hall. As he explained, Northorpe Hall is provided by a voluntary organisation to enable boys from Leeds to spend part of their weekends and holidays in surroundings where they can satisfy a need for adventure and find understanding adults who are willing to help and befriend them. This is a most worthwhile object and everybody concerned with the welfare of children will be grateful to the hon. Member and his fellow trustees for the work which they have done in promoting this venture.

As the hon. Gentleman said, there are very close links between Northorpe Hall and the probation service, because the probation service is consulted about the selection of the boys and it is only natural that many of the boys should be either on probation or come from families known to probation officers. I agree that it is very important that the essence of the scheme is that boys are invited to go to the Hall and are not sent there or compelled to go. They are not sent by the. court or probation officer and this helps in enabling trust and confidence to be built up, and I would praise anything which helps to keep boys and girls out of the ambit of the courts.

However, I have one little disappointment for the hon. Gentleman. It is that the voluntary nature of these arrangements makes it impossible for the probation committees to pay anything towards the expenses of the Hall. While a probation officer can encourage probationers to use any of the statutory and voluntary agencies which contribute to its welfare, probation committees themselves could not contribute financially to the upkeep. Nor has my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary any power to make any direct grants towards a body which may help to prevent delinquency. Some people might think that that ought to be altered. Help in this respect is given by the local authority.

In its wisdom or otherwise, Parliament has not given my right hon. Friend the power to make financial contributions, and I am afraid that there is no way in which we could directly help the trustees of Northorpe Hall. The local authorities have power under legislation to deal with children, to make grants to voluntary organisations in certain circumstances. Section 46 of the Children Act 1948 makes it possible for a local authority to make contributions in certain circumstances to any voluntary organisations, the object of which is to promote the welfare of children. The Children and Young Persons Act, 1963, also places on the local authority the duty to take any steps that it can in order to prevent a child either coming into care or coming before the courts.

I understand from what the hon. Gentleman has said that the Leeds City Council does give some help to Northorpe Hall. I do not know whether it would like to increase that help, and I had better not suggest that it ought to, because I have to go back and face the City Council afterwards. It has the power to give a certain amount of help, which my right hon. Friend has not. There are many organisations which could be said to help in the reduction of juvenile delinquency. A short time ago I visited a club, which the hon. Gentleman probably knows very well, the Hunslett Boys' Club of which 200 boys of school age are members. The work of this club probably means that some of the boys who would have come before the juvenile court do not now do so. Because it caters for children of school age rather than those who have left school it finds it difficult to get help from the local authority. This has to be looked at in conjunction with the others and it may be a good idea to look at the whole question of assistance to voluntary bodies, both in the educational and juvenile delinquency sphere.

Maybe it is important that Parliament should do so this. At the moment we cannot give directly the financial help for which the hon. Gentleman asks. As has already been pointed out, there is one slight mistake in the Motion, in that boys under the age of 15 are not sent to Borstal. I assure him that we accept the spirit of everything that he has said and, having heard what I have said, perhaps he would withdraw the Motion. There are two reasons why we cannot accept it, There is a mistake in fact and we could not give direct financial assistance. We will certainly take note of all that has been said this afternoon and perhaps in the future we may look at the whole question.

Mr. Hiley

It is sometimes said that it is not what one says but how one says it that matters, and the hon. Lady turned me down with such a lovely smile on her face. I feel that I ought to say that I am prepared to withdraw my Motion, but that I look forward to assistance from her in future.

Motion, by leave, withdrawn.