HC Deb 22 June 1971 vol 819 cc1179-80
13. Mr. Hardy

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services if he will issue new regulations governing the use of corporal punishment in approved schools, particularly to prevent or restrict the repeated use of the maximum penalties where boys of low intellectual capacity repeatedly abscond.

Sir K. Joseph

No, Sir. The Approved School Rules already provide that no boy with any physical or mental disability shall be caned without the sanction of the school doctor.

Mr. Hardy

May I first thank the Secretary of State for the correspondence I have had with his Department? May I ask him whether he would agree that it is barbaric that boys of very low intellectual capacity should be subjected to repeated use of severe or maximum corporal punishment as laid down by regulations? Would he not agree that this means that a boy of such low intellectual capacity will be driven to greater desperation and is therefore more likely to commit such offences as absconding?

Sir K. Joseph

It would certainly be barbaric to cane a boy who did not have the intelligence to know that what he had done was right or wrong. I am advised that this is no such case and I am confident to leave the judgment in this instance to the headmaster.

Mr. Alfred Morris

If the boy in this case is handicapped, as I understand him to be, is it not a deeply disquieting case? Moreover, is not the corporal punishment meted out to him inconsistent with an important recommendation in the Plowden Report? Would the right hon. Gentleman institute a full and searching inquiry into this case?

Sir K. Joseph

No. It is not right to bandy discussion about individual cases in the House. My evidence is that this boy is not handicapped, although he is intellectually below average. As for withdrawing the right of the headmaster to use corporal punishment when he thinks fit, I stand with the previous Gov ernment on leaving that power, at any rate for the moment, with the headmaster.