§ 4.20 p.m.
§ Order of the Day for the Third Reading read.
§ THE LORD CHANCELLOR (VISCOUNT KILMUIR)
My Lords, I beg to move that this Bill be now read a third time. May I suggest that any further discussion should take place on the Motion, That the Bill do now pass?
§ Moved, That the Bill be now read 3a.—(The Lord Chancellor.)
§ THE EARL OF SWINTON
My Lords, I wish to raise what in another place would be called a point of Order, but as there are no points of Order in your Lordships' House, I suppose that I must call it a matter of procedure. I do this advisedly at this stage of the Bill, after consultation and in full agreement with my noble friend Lord Salisbury, who I know had hoped to be here. The point I wish to put to the noble and learned Viscount the Leader of the House is this. What is the custom and practice of this House in the moving of Amendments on Third Reading? I am well aware that the Standing Order (there is only one that deals with this; No. 43) provides:No amendment, other than a privilege amendment, shall be moved upon the Third Reading of a Public Bill unless notice of the amendment has been given to the Clerk not later than the day preceding that on which the amendment is to be moved, in sufficient time to enable the amendment to be printed and circulated in the form in which it is to be moved.524 That is all there is in the Standing Orders, but those noble Lords who have been long in this House will, I am sure, agree that for generations, certainly for decades, this House has treated the moving of Amendments on a Third Reading as a very exceptional procedure.
I well remember that before the war, when I was in charge of a Bill in your Lordships' House, there was a matter which the whole House very much wanted to amend on Third Reading. It is true that notice had not been given of the Amendment and as we were then on Third Reading, the written notice technically required could not he given. I remember that the noble Marquess, Lord Salisbury, the father of my noble friend, said to the House on that occasion that although the whole House wanted to do this, and although it would clearly have been for the convenience of the House, and the whole business we were considering, that it should be done, the Amendment was such an exceptional matter that we ought not to make any exception to the normal procedure. The House, although it would very much have liked to make the Amendment, felt the force of that argument, and I did not press my proposal.
I have noticed, in this Session in particular, that there has been a sort of tendency to treat a Third Reading as though it were a Committee stage or Report stage. That is entirely contrary to what has been the practice of the House as long as I can remember, and as long as any noble Lord can remember. I think that my noble friend who sits behind me, who has been here a long time, would bear me out. I have nothing to say about the merits of the Amendment which is on the Order Paper to-day. It may be an admirable Amendment. But I think it is true that this is a matter of which there has been ample opportunity for discussion on Committee and on Report stage. I believe that the subject matter of it was discussed on at least one of those stages and on one of them was voted upon.
What I should like to put to the noble and learned Viscount the Leader of the House, to the noble and learned Viscount the Lord Chancellor, and to the whole House is whether my noble friend and I are right in what we believe has been the past practice in this House. Of 525 course, the House can make any change: it is entirely master of its own procedure. But die procedure we have adopted in the past, not just by Standing Order but also by convention, has generally been the result of what we have found practical and convenient and broadly in the general interest. If the House wants to make a change in what has been the common practice in the past, then I venture to suggest, with respect, that we ought not just to slip or slide into this; we ought to do it after a full consideration. If our practice is to be changed, it should be considered by the House fully as a matter of principle and practice, probably after the matter had been considered by the Committee on Procedure and a Report by that Committee made in the House. Then, if we have to lay down a change in what has been our practice—though not, I agree, in the form of a Standing Order—the proper course is that the House should pass a Resolution to do whatever it feels right to do in discussing a Bill, and that should be enshrined in a Standing Order.
§ VISCOUNT ALEXANDER OF HILLSBOROUGH
My Lords, I am very interested in the argument the noble Earl has put to the House, and there is a good deal of substance lying behind it. In regard to the Bill now under final discussion, I would say that the circumstances of this Amendment are somewhat different from the case of the Amendment which was put down by the noble Lord, Lord Molson, on a Third Reading, when I myself protested. On that occasion, there was plenty of time for an Amendment to be considered by the Government and accepted. But this is a somewhat different case. This Bill has already passed through the House of Commons and has been discussed at great length in your Lordships' House. Due notice has been given from this side that the Amendment which stands in the name of my noble friends and myself would be raised. Notice was first given during discussion on Report, but it was not pressed at that time, in view of the speech that was made by the Government spokesman. It is being raised again on Third Reading because it was perfectly plain to us that the Government had been moved in the direction of agreement by what was said on Report stage to such an extent that some steps had been taken. What we want to ensure, there- 526 fore, is that in this final stage of the Bill, which has already passed through the House of Commons, we may get the point we are pressing for established in the Bill before it goes back to another place. I think that that is quite reasonable. On the other hand, on the general argument put by the noble Earl, I think that there is sufficient substance in it to have a discussion of it in the Committee on Procedure.
§ 4.29 p.m.
§ THE LORD PRESIDENT OF THE COUNCIL AND MINISTER FOR SCIENCE (VISCOUNT HAILSHAM)
My Lords, my noble friend Lord Swinton told me a short time ago that he was going to raise this point, and I am grateful to him for having done so, though I have not really had time to study the precedents fully. I think that before I said anything very definite, it would be desirable that I should study them. Therefore, I can only answer the matter as of first impression, and I hope that the House will forgive me if I should turn out to be wrong.
I should like, first of all, quite candidly to admit that the Amendment of my noble friend Lord Molson on the Road Traffic Bill had eluded my vigilance. I was not aware of it before I entered the Chamber on that afternoon, and had I been consulted I should have advised him against it. This is not to prejudge the issue on this Bill, but I think I must obviously accept the responsibility, although I was not aware that the Amendment was going to be moved. I would deprecate an Amendment on a small matter of that kind (acceptable as it undoubtedly was to the House in principle) at that late stage, and I think that in such a case it would have been more convenient if the Amendment had been composed, either by the Government or by a private Member in another place, especially as on that occasion, at any rate, there was doubt as to the future progress of the Bill.
I think I should candidly say that I think it was a mistake. I do not think there is any doubt about that, and I should accept that view. I myself have always deprecated, as a general rule, Amendments here on Third Reading. The Committee and Report stage ought ordinarily to be enough for Amendments, 527 and I do not think the House would like to approve any general licence to regard the Third Reading as yet another opportunity for discussing matters which have largely been gone into on Committee.
At the same time, I would say that, as a matter of first impression, I thought my noble friend slightly over-stated the case against Amendments on Third Reading, and I myself would not have treated the precedent which he cited of the late Lord Salisbury as directly in point, because, as I understand from his account of the matter, on that occasion a Standing Order had not been observed; and that materially alters the case. In this case, the Standing Order has been observed, and I would personally think, as a first impression, that although Third Reading Amendments are to be deprecated, this House would not willingly abridge in advance the right of Members who observe the Standing Order to put down a notice of Amendment in the proper way and to have it discussed, subject, of course, to any comments the House may make about the propriety of a noble Lord's action in any particular case. I think it is one of those matters which probably the House can manage for itself, and would not wish to abridge its rights in advance.
Whether or not this Amendment is a good one or ought to have been moved, I would not myself express an opinion. I had thought that the noble Lord who put it down had fairly fully canvassed the subject both on Committee and on Report. But this is a matter for the House. The noble Lord is in order in doing what he has done. I would not wish this afternoon to say more than that. I fully accept the view of my noble friend, who can either ask me a question, when I have had time to consider and take advice on the nature of the procedure, or pursue the matter further on the Procedure Committee.
§ THE EARL OF SWINTON
My Lords, if I may say so, I am completely satisfied. I would not dissent from anything the noble Viscount the Leader of the House has said. I think it would be convenient if this matter came up at the Procedure Committee. It does not need a formal Motion; they could consider it, and if they thought fit they could report to 528 the House. That would be entirely satisfactory to me and, I am sure, to Lord Salisbury also.
§ VISCOUNT HAILSHAM
My Lords, I think this is the sort of matter which can be conveniently discussed in the Procedure Committee. On first impression this afternoon this is the answer that I would make.
§ On Question, Bill read 3a, with the Amendments.
§ 4.34 p.m.
§ LORD STONHAM moved, after Clause 20 to insert the following new clause:
Director of After-Care
. The Secretary of State shall appoint a Director of After-Care who shall have the status of a Prison Commissioner and shall be responsible for official after-care and for co-ordinating statutory and voluntary after-care.
§ The noble Lord said: My Lords, I am not an authority on the Rules of your Lordships' House. The one Rule that I have had invariably impressed upon my mind in the short time I have been here is that we should be courteous one to another. I should regard it as the ultimate discourtesy if I intentionally wasted your Lordships' time with matters which had been fully discussed at an earlier stage. I gave complete and adequate notice of my intention, in that I mentioned it during the Report stage, and I hope to convince your Lordships that the matters of which I shall now speak have certainly not been anything like wholly discussed, and that they are matters of importance which ought to be discussed before we finally part with this Bill.
§ In moving this Amendment, I am asking your Lordships to support a fundamental change in our penal system. At present our interest in an offender, which begins when he is sent to prison, virtually ends when he comes out. We want to change this because it is not only socially and morally wrong, but stupidly and fabulously expensive. A great part of the £15 million annual cost of the prison service is caused by the 20 or 30 per cent. of offenders who keep going back for more. Those of us who have worked in this field know that many of these men, given a chance, will make decent citizens. Instead of a burden on society, they would be an asset. But for this we must have an efficient and a sufficient after-care organisation.529
§ There is a service in existence whose members are well-meaning and devoted, but the service itself, compared with the need, is so grotesquely inadequate as to be almost useless. I am not—and I must make this very clear indeed—attacking the men who run it. For example, Commander Hague who, in his one person, combines the functions of the statutory Director of the Central After-Care Association and the General Secretary of the voluntary National Association for Discharged Prisoners' Aid Societies, does his gallant and excellent best with pitifully inadequate resources. You do not blame a man if he fails to push back the tide with a mop; you blame the method chosen for the job, and you blame the people who gave him that job. That is the position with regard to the organisation that I have mentioned.
§ My Lords, 40,000 men and women come out of prison every year, and after-care for all but 700 of them is the responsibility of 37 local discharged prisoners' aid societies and their National Association. Half the local societies' expenditure is paid by the Treasury. In a typical year only £20,000 is spent on actual assistance to prisoners—£20,000 for 40,000 people, an average of 10s. a head, enough for a poor night's lodging and a cup of tea. Two out of every five long-sentence men have no home to go to when they leave prison. With such financing, it is not surprising that in a case I quoted last week an ex-prisoner wrote three times, over a period of three months, to the National Association for help in getting working clothes, and in the end all he got was a letter to the W.V.S. I am not criticising their devoted officers when I say that the very existence of these organisations in their present form is harmful to ex-prisoners, because the public is deceived into thinking that they do something effective for them.
§ What of the public departments who administer the Welfare State? These are the facts, not from prisoners, but from the Ministers who have been good enough to reply to me in response to my inquiries. When a man who has saved as much as £1 leaves prison, he is given half-a-crown and a railway warrant, and also an insurance card which is a means of identification and a passport to possible security. But the card is unstamped, so few employers will look 530 at him. He is in a foreign country without a visa. He goes to the local employment exchange, but they wilt not register him for benefit because he has no place of residence. If he still has his £1 when he goes to the National Assistance Board, they will not give him any money; but they will give him a voucher for a lodging house. Of course, it is at this stage that he begins to think that he was better off in prison.
§ Next day he returns to the labour exchange, and the manager makes him sign a document so that the prospective employer can be informed of his prison background. Mr. John Hare, the Minister of Labour, has been kind enough to assure me that this is not normal practice when sending a man to manual employment. Similarly, Mr. Boyd-Carpenter assures me that emergency cards can be issued by his local officers to prisoners who have not been given a regular card. Yet ray man was refused one. No, these things are obviously not in the rules but they happen to ex-prisoners—dogs that anyone can kick with impunity. We are, in fact, my Lords, kinder to stray dogs than we are to ex-prisoners: for example, the man who was discharged without an insurance card. A girl at the insurance office refused his plea for a bit of paper to say he had applied for a card; the labour exchange refused registration because he had no home. Rowton House refused him a bed because he had no card and his prison discharge papers were not regarded as sufficient proof of identity. When he walked into a police station to get the proof he was a dog without a collar. A dog would have been fed and sent off to Battersea, and, in due course, someone would have given him a home.
§ When a man walks out of prison his punishment should end and not be just beginning. We want more welfare officers in prisons and we want them to have a higher status and the power to relate a man's training to the job he is going to when he comes out of prison. We want men to go straight to a job with cards and papers free of the prison brand. We want homes and hostels to get the homeless prisoner over the first few difficult weeks. We want after-care officers to advise, direct and encourage; and, above all, we want a Director to co-ordinate the whole business—not only 531 the proposed new set-up but the work of Government Departments so far as they relate to ex-prisoners. In my submission, on the grounds of economy, common sense and humanity, the case for this programme is unanswerable.
§ The noble and learned Viscount who sits on the Woolsack does not in fact dispute it. His only material objection in my view to our earlier Amendments is that it would be prejudging the work of the Advisory Council. I am somewhat puzzled by this objection, first, because much that we are asking for was in fact recommended by the Maxwell Committee, and the Lord Chancellor has told us that eight years ago, as Home Secretary, he accepted those recommendations. Does he now expect the Advisory Council to say he was wrong to accept those recommendations, or that the present Home Secretary was wrong not to have implemented them? Surely not.
My second reason for bewilderment in this matter was the Report that came to me that the Home Office had already appointed a Director of After-Care, which we asked for in the Amendment. Naturally I knew that if the Lord Chancellor had been aware of it he most certainly would have mentioned it when he replied to the debate last week. So I checked yesterday with the Prison Commission. The Secretary of the Commission told me that—and I quote:
It is quite true that Mr. C. J. Cape, an Assistant Commissioner, was recently relieved of his educational duties and is now in charge of welfare.
Incidentally, the Prison Commission always calls "after-care", welfare. When I asked for an interpretation of what had developed in the last few weeks, I could not be precisely told that this change had been made. And then when I pressed for further details I was told that Mr. Cape was now—and again I quote:
responsible for the Prison Commissioners' relations with the Central After-care Association, the National Association of Discharged Prisoners' Aid Societies, and the local discharged prisoners' aid societies.
I suggested that this meant that he was, in fact, Director of After-care, but I was informed—again I quote:
The Commissioners did not claim that title for Mr. Cape.
The position, therefore, is still very obscure, but it seems obvious that Mr. Cape has part of the job without the title. It is equally obvious that the Home Secretary has been doing good by stealth. But now that he has partly braved the displeasure of his Advisory Council the main objection to the Amendment has been removed. But we cannot be fobbed off with a pretended substitute for a real organisation. We still need the Amendment, because the Director must have status equal to that of a Prison Commissioner and he must have something to direct. Above all, the various contributories to after-care must have their activities co-ordinated.
§ I should emphasise, my Lords, that if ex-prisoners are to be given a chance, the statutory and voluntary forms of after-care must not only be co-ordinated but have the scope and be in the form that we have suggested. I say this because the Lord Chancellor expressed the view last week that if my Amendment were accepted it would defer the Bill's provisions for statutory supervision until after a Director of After-care had been appointed. Yet that objection now seems to have all but disappeared. But I must remove any possible doubt about what we regard as necessary.
This Bill, as it now stands, will eventually increase to 12,000 a year the number of ex-prisoners who will come under statutory after-care. The Lord Chancellor has defined this as
a form of obligatory acceptance of supervision as a condition of discharge, which carries with it liability to recall to confinement for a breach of any condition of the supervision.
It is, therefore, supervision, not aftercare. I do not object to it, but it underlines the need for the co-ordination asked for in the Amendment, so that the aids to rehabilitation shall be equally available to the 12,000 prisoners released under statutory and the 30,000 more who will be released under voluntary aftercare. It also establishes the need for a co-ordinated after-care service in addition to the probation service. Without it, so-called after-care would be a mere façade, a dodge to throw extra burdens on the probation service.
§ At present the probation service of about 1,500 officers is some 300 under strength for the proper discharge of its existing duties. Statutory supervision 533 duties and the work of providing the courts with Streatfeild-type reports would involve a 50 per cent. increase in the present strength of the probation service. Now this has a direct bearing on our case because it makes it abundantly clear that if we are to have a proper system of after-care and give convicts a chance to become citizens it must be a separate service, it must be co-ordinated, and there must be central direction. In their speeches the right honourable gentleman the Home Secretary and the noble and learned Viscount the Lord Chancellor have assured us that they want our penal system to include both the certainty of punishment and the promise of reform. Acceptance of this Amendment will give statutory form to that promise.
§ My Lords, as was disclosed before I started, this is the third time during the passage of this Bill that I have raised this subject. As a result, the facts have been fully exposed. Last week, on my noble friend's advice, I deferred a Division to enable those facts to be fully considered and to enable more noble Lords to take part in the eventual decision, and I am encouraged to believe that this was the right course—I mean no discourtesy, but I think it was the right course—and I am encouraged in that view because I understand that the noble and gallant Viscount, Lord Montgomery of Alamein, intends to make his maiden speech in support of this Amendment; and, if I may say so, he has the reputation for making adequate preparations to ensure victory. However encouraging that support, I am painfully conscious that this is the final appeal, the last time in this Bill that we shall be able to make an appeal for a fair deal for the most vulnerable, defenceless and friendless people in the whole country. It is not a Party matter; it is a question of justice and humanity. And I ask you, my Lords, the highest and last court of appeal, for justice for the lowest and least worthy, and the most forlorn in the land. I beg to move.
After Clause 20, insert the said new clause.—(Lord Stonham.)
§ 4.51 p.m.
§ VISCOUNT MONTGOMERY OF ALAMEIN
My Lords, this is the first time that I have had the honour of addressing your Lordships' House, and 534 I should like to apologise in advance for any atrocities I may commit. I can assure your Lordships that everything I say will be completely uncontroversial. The noble Lord, Lord Stonham, mentioned just now certain techniques that I adopted in war time when fighting the Queen's enemies. I would remind him that there are battles and battles. It is one thing to fight the Queen's enemies in war time; it is another and very different thing to fight the politicians. They are totally different things, as I know very well, having had experience of both. In the first case, provided that you have a good organisation and adequate resources: that you know your job, and that the morale of your soldiers is high, you win. It is just like that—you win. In the second case, however good may be your organisation, however adequate may be your resources, however high may be the morale of your supporters, you lose. I have noticed with great interest some of the battles that have taken place here in your Lordships' House. They always end in the same way: the noble and learned Viscount who sits on the Woolsack rises, takes three paces to his left, makes a speech and you lose. I must admit that he is generally pretty good.
Against this background I should like to consider this problem. Last week my noble friend Lord Longford said that he had worked with me in the War Office, which is very true; and he said that while there he had learned from me certain words; and that also is very true. He used three of them—I am certain he learned more really, but he used three. He described the organisation for this matter, the after-care of prisoners who have been discharged, and he said that from his experience of working with me he was sure I would have used three words to describe the organisation: a "shambles", a "nonsense" and a "mess". If what he said about the organisation is true—and I would emphasise that—I do not think that any of those words would do. If what he said was true, I would say that the organisation looks like being a complete "dog's breakfast". It may be that some of your Lordships will not knew what is meant by a "dog's breakfast"; and you will not find it in the dictionary. But it is exactly the opposite to the "cat's whiskers". I came to the conclusion 535 that there must be something wrong with the organisation—there must be. It is a tremendous human problem, and it is for that very reason that I have felt impelled to speak. I am sure that this problem must be tackled at once. If it is not tackled at once, I feel that the effect of these discharged prisoners wandering loose in the nation could be very bad on the young people of our land, who are greatly influenced by example, as we know.
I will try not to be controversial, but I served for ten years in the Western Defence Organisation, during which time I was in very close contact with all the nations of the Free World, all the Governments. My experience of them was that Governmental action in the Free World is seldom taken at once; there is generally a good deal of delay, and if the problem is difficult it is handed over to a committee of experts to examine and report. The moment that is done, complications creep in and simplicity disappears out of the window. I also learned in my Continental life in Europe that political leaders seldom act on their own judgment and make decisions. Their decisions are always based on what they are told by their advisers. They are very prone to hand the problem over to a committee to collect ideas, and I have a feeling that in this country we are committee-ridden. A clergyman friend of mine told me the other day that he was trying to explain to a Chinaman the doctrine of the Trinity, a very difficult thing to explain to a non-Christian, and this Chinaman could not get it. Finally, his face lit up, and he said, "Ah I see—English, committee". That is what he said.
Knowing this background, I decided that I would go into battle on this particular problem; and I hope, of course, that when the noble and learned Viscount moves three paces to his left it may be the one battle that I have ever fought with the political body in which one does not suffer total defeat—in peace, not in war. My Lords, I can claim to have some small knowledge of the handling of men—indeed, I think it has probably been the mainspring of my whole adult life. I have been brought up in my profession—I am a soldier—to face up to a problem, however difficult it may be; to analyse it; to sort out the things that 536 matter from the things that do not matter (and it is an extraordinary thing what a lot of things do not matter); to make a decision and to take action: in other words, to do something. That is what I have been taught to do. But I have learned by bitter, very bitter, experience that if you make a decision in Whitehall you are ruled offside at once; it is one of the things you do not do; and a free kick is awarded against you.
I am convinced, from what I have heard and what I have read, that everything in the organisation for handling this matter is not as it should be; I am convinced of that. It may be that that is an understatement. In this problem, which I think is urgent, we need decision and action; and while there are a great many things that need looking at, I think that there are probably two things which are fundamental to the whole business: first, a very good and sound organisation, and secondly the right people to operate it.
As to the organisation, I am not myself convinced that this problem will be solved simply by creating a Director of After-Care. I would say, from what I have heard here in your Lordships' House, and from what I have studied, that the whole structure of the organisation needs a thorough overhaul from top to bottom, to make certain that it is exactly right for doing what must be done. Then, having examined the whole structure, I believe that next we must have the right people to operate it. Here I think there is room for much improvement. A good organisation is useless without the right people to handle it—a well-organised army cannot succeed without good Generals. I well remember that in a conversation during the war with Sir Winston Churchill I said to him. "You like Generals who win battles." His reply was quite short, "You're telling me!" The same applies here. I think that the people selected to operate this organisation must be those who really care for their fellow men.
When I was very small one of the first hymns I was ever taught was that called "Once in Royal David's City". There is a line in one of the verses which has had a profound influence on me all my life. That line was:And He careth for our sadness.537 I think it was that which had a great effect on me from an early age—because when I was young I did not really have a happy youth; and later, when I became a soldier in the First World War of 1914–18, I saw the whole horror of modern war descending on the shoulders of British soldiers, and I think that what really started me off on my great affection for the soldier was that line:And He careth for our sadness.I believe that these good men, when found, must be paid properly. It seems to me that there are two key jobs in this organisation: one the prison welfare officer, and the other the after-care officer. I would describe them as lynchpins in the set-up; and if they are not men of the very best steel then the organisation could collapse—the one inside the prison and the other outside. Those two must be a team and they must be whole-time regulars, not retired men paid a small salary for part-time work—underpaid. That would be quite useless. I was most interested last week in seeing Dr. Beeching speaking on television of the Transport Commission set-up. He said that he was going to bring in some good young men at the top, and that he thoroughly realised that he would have to pay them well. I think that it is essential that the people who are brought in, who really care for their fellow men, should be paid really good salaries. Only in this way will good men be obtained.
Finally, I should like to say that I believe it will be a tragedy if we have to divide the House on a most human problem like this. It is inconceivable that all of us in this House should not feel the same about it, wherever we sit. I used to sit on the Cross Benches, but I got crowded out by Admirals of the Fleet, Law Lords, Judges, and retired members of the Diplomatic Service, and I came up here. Last week my friend Jo Grimond wrote and said that he thought I might with convenience sit on the Liberal Benches. There would certainly be more room there! But I thought I was safer up here. If we divide the House, it will merely make those people whom we so badly want to help think that we do not know how to do it, or that we are making this a matter of Party politics. Of all the problems that I have ever heard discussed in your Lordships' House—and I have been a Member here for about fifteen or sixteen 538 years—I would say that this one is quite definitely non-Party, and is a matter for all of us who really care for the sadness of these people—men and women.
I would urge—perhaps "urge" is not the right word: I would plead that Her Majesty's Government will give an assurance that the whole matter of aftercare will be reviewed in the light of the discussion that has taken place in your Lordships' House—both the organisational structure and the people who operate it, and their fitness to do so. I hope that during that investigation noble Lords who know a good deal about this subject, such as my noble friends Lord Longford and Lord Stonham, would be consulted, which I am informed has not happened so far. If Her Majesty's Government would give this assurance, I should hope that the Amendment would be withdrawn. I think the last thing we want to see is noble Lords going into the Division Lobby on a subject on which, basically, we must all agree in principle. It may be that some of us disagree on methods, but I should have thought that methods could be sorted out by consultation and discussion, and not by clearing the Floor and rolling up our sleeves on what is really an intensely human problem.
§ 5.8 p.m.
§ VISCOUNT ALEXANDER OF HILLSBOROUGH
My Lords, I am happy that it should fall to my lot to follow the noble and gallant Field Marshal who has just addressed your Lordships' House. He and I know each other—in the old days quite closely, but of late somewhat from afar. I think he has made an extraordinarily good maiden speech. From a man of his character and experience one would not expect to hear a speech which did not reveal some of his own personal qualities. Some parts of his speech this afternoon have revealed these in an excellent manner. I thought he was going strong at first on action, which he has always regarded as the great thing to do in life. His approach to a problem has always been: study it, work it out and then act. But in this particular case the Advisory Committee have been in action for about six years. Now that we have proved, I think, that there is a great need for this aftercare service to be better organised, and to be directly under the control of a Director, we want to make sure that the 539 decision of this House in regard to this matter is recorded in the Bill, and that such a Director will be appointed.
At the opening of the noble and gallant Field Marshal's speech, I felt that he was giving some excellent advice to individuals to praotise in certain circumstances—excellent advice. He quoted a line from "Once in Royal David's City", which appealed to me very much indeed. But I think that what we need in a State like ours, which has set up a great Welfare State, is to see that we do everything in every department of our experience which will not make the Welfare State dependent upon something the State does for the individual, but which results in the whole community of individuals putting something in to help the State. It is something like Emerson said in one of his Essays: that the State must follow in the long run the character and conduct of its citizens and that the law which is instituted is really only a memorandum of the character and the conduct of the citizens.
The lines that occurred to me when the noble Viscount was quoting the hymn, and that I should have thought might have been, and may well have been, one of his inspirations in his great career, come from an American poem, Vandyke, in The Builders:Four things a man must learn to do,If he would make his record true:To think without confusion, clearly,To act from honest motives, purely,To love his fellow men sincerely,And to trust in God and heaven securely.I think that my noble friends Lord Longford and Lord Stonham have been inspired during the whole of their examination of this Criminal Justice Bill to try to get that into operation, so that even the downcast, the guilty, the punished, can be capable of redemption, and redemption which brings them back to making a contribution to the State, however collective it may be in its provisions for education, for security, for social advancement—to bring even the outcast and the punished back, to making his or her contribution to the welfare of the State.
It is because we think that the aftercare is so vitally important with regard to discharged prisoners that we want to secure what has been in our minds since 540 we raised this matter in the earlier stages of the Bill: that a Prison Commissioner should be made into virtually a Director of After-care. That we want to establish in legislation. I hope that the noble and gallant Viscount, if he will excuse me for saying so, does not want a long interregnum for another consideration, another inquiry, in order to avoid a Division on an Amendment in this matter. Because, as I say, for six years there has been an Advisory Committee; this Criminal Justice Bill has been before the other House for months, and we have had it up here for considerable investigation. We have made the case perfectly clear; and I think, therefore, that we ought now to put it into the Statute.
I want to make it quite clear, so far as I am concerned, as I think my noble friend made clear, that we do not want a Director who is working a system which is in any way going to detract from the noble and self-sacrificing work of so many voluntary institutions. I think that was made quite clear by my noble friend Lord Stonham. And, if I may say so, after-care for those who have passed through the courts in some form or another or served in prison is much wider spread in the voluntary associations than many people recognise. Only last Saturday I was speaking in Essex to Central Home, promoted by the West Ham Central Baptist Mission, and there were there lads who had been through the courts and been found in need of care and protection, being looked after for some years. I am glad to say that place had the support of the Carnegie Trust, and there was a fine house built for them to be brought up in. So far as I know, in the years they have been working not one boy who has been in that place has afterwards returned to any kind of failure. If that can be done at that age, it can be done, as has been proved in many cases, in after-care for the discharged prisoners, if they get a really human deal.
Nobody knows better than the noble and gallant Viscount the Field Marshal who has just spoken that, if we are to follow what he has advised, you must have a Director and you must pick the right one. That is what he has indicated to us. There is no reason why we should be deciding who is going to be the Director. What we want is only that the 541 principle that a Director be provided should be established in the Statute, and I think the time has come now to act and to take a decision. If we do that, I would say to the noble and gallant Viscount that not only have we had good advice about action, but we shall be very pleased to hear him discourse upon it at greater length in the future.
§ LORD FRASER OF NORTH CAPE
My Lords, with your Lordships' permission I want to say a few words. I am a sailor, and we do not talk, perhaps, quite so much as Field Marshals; but my solution, which is a Royal Navy solution, is just this. All you need to do is to appoint a Commander-in-Chief, After-care; tell him to get on with the job; and if he does not, chuck him out!
§ 5.17 p.m.
§ THE LORD CHANCELLOR
My Lords, it is, I should like to say, a very happy occasion for me to be speaking on the Motion which has attracted the first speech of the noble and gallant Viscount who has addressed us on this Amendment. I hope that, now that he has broken the ice (because it would be quite wrong in his case to say that he had broken his tongue), he will plunge in often again and that we shall have many opportunities of hearing his wisdom and advice.
With regard to the present Amendment, I must say that, having replied to it twice already (and on one occasion, I must tell the noble and gallant Viscount, the proposers of the Amendment took us into the Division Lobby and the House rejected their view by a two to one majority), there is a certain difficulty in getting one's mental and oratorical forces together for the third time. But I shall do my best, and I should like to assure the noble and gallant Field Marshal on two points. He first of all asked: were the facts put forward in support of these three Amendments (shall I say?) accurate? They are not accurate. He then asked that the whole matter should be the subject of a thorough overhaul. In that he was following the noble Earl, Lord Longford, who suggested that it should be the subject of an inquiry. That is exactly what there is going to be. The difference between the supporters of the Amendment and those of us who have hitherto opposed it is that we want to 542 see the matter the subject of a thorough inquiry and overhaul before the course of action is decided upon. Those who are supporting the Amendment want to decide upon a course of action before that inquiry. So, really, I feel, in view of the noble and gallant Field Marshal's words, that I have his support, although he rose to speak for the Amendment.
§ THE EARL OF LONGFORD
May I interrupt the noble Viscount? He has been good enough to refer to me as desiring that there should be a further inquiry, if I understood him aright, into this matter. I am not quite sure what he is quoting from me to that effect.
§ THE LORD CHANCELLOR
If the noble Earl will give me a moment, I think I shall be able to give it him. Yes; the noble Earl, under the alias under which he then operated, was the mainspring of the Pakenham-Thompson Committee; and the Pakenham-Thompson Committee itself said that it would be satisfied if a Departmental inquiry were to be ordered to examine the field which they had covered, and to recommend specific and detailed action within, say, twelve months. That seemed to me to concede that an inquiry was due; and it leaves only a difference between the noble Earl and myself as to whether the proper body is a Departmental Committee or the Home Secretary's Advisory Council. I think the proper body is the Home Secretary's Advisory Council, because they have already done such good work in this field, and I am sure they will give us an admirable Report. So I do not think that I was overstating the principle. I am very glad to be able to assist, and to give the noble Earl the information he was seeking.
§ THE LORD CHANCELLOR
Of course. It is the usual procedure, when an Amendment is moved against the Government, for Opposition speakers to speak before the Government speaker, so that the Government speaker has an opportunity of dealing with all the points raised, because then he can deploy the Government information and forces; but I have far too much respect and political affection for the noble Earl to insist on that point. If he wants to speak after 543 me and do his best to tear me to bits, I do not mind, and the House will make its judgment. I am merely saying that the usual procedure is to allow the speaker for the Government to meet all the arguments, and not to try to "sandwich" him, but the noble Earl can do what he likes.
§ THE EARL OF LONGFORD
In that case, perhaps I might interrupt the noble Viscount. It was merely that I did not want to interrupt his flow at this point, and thought it might be more civil to make a comment afterwards. At the moment, I have nothing in my mind to say afterwards, except to remove any idea that when we drew up the Pakenham-Thompson Report last year we expected that the Advisory Council, or some such body, would delay from November to May before meeting to discuss it. We wanted an immediate inquiry. As I am not going to speak again, perhaps I may now take the opportunity of congratulating with all my heart the noble Viscount, Lord Montgomery of Alamein.
§ THE LORD CHANCELLOR
I am sorry, because, as I say, my general affection makes me hesitate to say anything against the noble Earl, who is not only a fair but a frank and friendly debater. But for the first time I have heard him make a remark about the Advisory Council which I think, on reflection, he will feel is tinged with a lack of generosity—something which, usually, he is the last to show.
He has talked about the delay, and the failure to mobilise the Advisory Council, between November and May. I think that that is a little ungracious when it is remembered, first, that the Council had only just concluded a lengthy and particularly difficult inquiry; and, secondly, that other matters in connection with the treatment of offenders were engaging the Government's attention. It was necessary to decide which of those should be referred to the Council. In the event, my right honourable friend the Home Secretary decided to refer to the Council two other questions: preventive detention and non-residential training centres—and I need hardly remind the noble Earl of the feeling which he himself showed on the subject of non-residential training 544 centres. It then became necessary to appoint additional members before the Council could constitute three sub-committees to deal simultaneously with these two matters and the matter which we have already discussed, and which has been referred to. So I hope that it will not go out from this House with the imprimatur of the noble Earl that there has been any delay in using the Advisory Council or, which would be much worse, that there has been any delay or hesitation on the part of the Advisory Council itself.
§ THE EARL OF LONGFORD
As I have been referred to again, and as I am not allowed to speak later, perhaps the noble Viscount will allow me to intervene once more. We have several times alluded to this delay between November and May in the coming together of the Advisory Council. My imprimatur is worth nothing anywhere, but if it were worth anything I would say with conviction that there has been a rather shocking delay in the coming together of the Advisory Council.
§ THE LORD CHANCELLOR
If the noble Earl says that there is a shocking delay after what the Council has done in the way of the Reports we have seen on these three important subjects, then all I can say is that what shocks him does not shock me into anything except admiration for the assiduity of the Advisory Council.
Now once again I ask for your Lordships' all-enduring patience to put once more the answers to this attack which I made before. In 1951, my predecessor appointed the Maxwell Committee to deal with this subject. I received their Report in October, 1951, a few months after I became Home Secretary, and, as I have told those of your Lordships who were good enough to listen, I accepted that Report. Now strangely enough—not strangely enough; I do not think that the noble and gallant Field Marshal can have known of it, although it is not strange that the two minds should go to the same point—the Maxwell Committee took the view which the noble and gallant Field Marshal has expressed today: that the first important point was welfare officers inside the prisons, and so they recommended to me. My Lords, we got on with it; and although the task is not complete—in one sense, my Lords, 545 a task like this is never complete, because that would mean complacency—there are 51, not 30, welfare officers at the moment. Furthermore, there are only three local prisons now without a resident welfare officer, and all three should have one by the end of the year.
It is not easy to recruit for that service. It requires a high spirit of devotion and a vocational spirit, as well as efficiency; but I do say that recruitment for that service is not helped by the depreciatory remarks regarding it which have come from those supporting these Amendments. The noble Lord, Lord Stonham, said that after eight years there were about 30 such officers. He was only roughly 50 per cent. or 100 per cent. out in the number, or 60 per cent., depending on how you calculate it. Then he said that they had virtually no training and precious little status. My Lords, that does not help recruiting. As I say, it is a difficult matter, but we have recruited. We have got up to 51, and there are only three prisons without them—and those we hope to fill by the end of the year.
My next point, and here I come back to the noble and gallant Field Marshal, is that the Maxwell Committee, as he did, having dealt with the first point of welfare officers inside the prison, said that the next important matter was to have a service for discharged prisoners. Having set free workers from the societies who had previously been engaged inside prisons, they were then set to deal with the prisoners after they had come out.
Now, my Lords, one thing distressed me; that the impression made on the noble and gallant Field Marshal who has listened to our debates should be that these voluntary societies are—whether it is a "dog's breakfast" or anything else—not doing a good job. As the noble and gallant Field Marshal may remember, I have an interest. I have myself been president of one society. I have appealed for them, and so on. But he may take it from me that, apart from the bad cases, which are, quite naturally, marshalled on an Amendment of this kind, there are a vast number of good cases where good, kind efficient, and dedicated people do a great deal of good work. I believe that one ought to say that, and I am very glad that the noble Viscount who leads the 546 Opposition dissociated himself from any criticism of the personnel of the kind that I have described. The next point of time I am taking quite generally was about four years after the Report, when it was decided to extend the after-care to a much greater number of prisoners. Therefore in 1957 the way that should be done was referred to the Advisory Committee. They recommended an extension of statutory after-care to further classes, not only prisoners but those in detention centres.
My Lords, that is the substance of the part of the Bill which deals with the supervision after release from prison. Were politics and legislation as susceptible of speedy action as the field which is the noble and gallant Field Marshal's own, one might criticise a delay of two years. But at some time—I am not going to give a lecture on it now—I shall explain to the noble and gallant Field Marshal, if he will listen to me, the course that it takes to get an idea into a Bill under our legislative system. He may take it from me that to produce a Bill in a couple of years is well up on the average. And so this Bill was produced, and now having extended the problem under the Bill, my right honourable friend felt that it was right, as I have said, to refer it to his Advisory Committee and to get the best possible advice before he builds up his new machinery for a different set of circumstances. That is the situation for which, indeed, the noble and gallant Field Marshal asked: that there should be a thorough overhaul. That is what is going to be done.
There is only one other point. I do not want to spend a great deal of time on it, because it is an individual point as to the position of 'a civil servant. But as there seems to have been some surprise that I did not deal with it earlier, I should like to explain what it is. Until April 4 of this year the gentleman in question was the Assistant Commissioner for Education, Welfare and Civil Defence. On that date he was relieved of his responsibility for education to allow him to devote the greater part of his time to welfare—and, of course, your Lordships will appreciate that welfare is a wider subject than after-care. It includes dealing with a prisoner's welfare problems during sentence. It also 547 includes matters such as the system of prison visitors and the provision of prerelease training courses.
There is included in that work an element of after-care, but it did not seem to me to be a reply to what I was being asked for—that is, to set up a separate sub-committee—to put forward that here was a gentleman who was dealing with a variety of subjects but not that subject alone. If the noble Lords think I was wrong in not dealing with it, I accept the responsibility. But it did not seem to me to be the answer. The real answer seemed to me to get the best advice on our new problem, and that we are going to do.
I have tried to deal with the various problems that have been put up to me for the third time. If I might just remind the noble and gallant Field Marshal of the points, I say that there has been put before the House a greatly exaggerated picture which minimises the good work that has been done, and an account of what has happened in the past which gives a totally incorrect figure. But on the main point, we are prepared that this new problem which this Bill puts up should be reconsidered, and it is because my right honourable friend the Home Secretary wants to have the best advice possible that he has asked for this course to be taken. It would really be—I want to choose my adjectives with care—an injudicious course to embark on a new scheme of action which the Bill lays down by asking the most expert body you can to advise upon it, and then anticipate that advice by accepting the Amendment which is put before us to-day.
If your Lordships will allow one personal reminiscence on having to deal with it three times. I remember that once, when I had concluded what seemed to me a certain important speech. I was asked if I would repeat the end of it for Moscow Radio. So at eight o'clock in the morning I went into a completely empty room and did my best to work up my peroration again for the benefit of
§ Moscow Radio. As I was just finishing it for the second time, one of the team who were taking it down tripped over the connecting cable. So that ruined Number 2. Then I had to start again, even colder, even more depressed, to do it for the third time, so that Moscow Radio might have this great enjoyment of hearing me speak. Then I managed to do it. All I can ask your Lordships is that, having borne with me three times, you will support me for the third time as your Lordships did on the first.
§ 5.40 p.m.
§ LORD STONHAM
My Lords, I am most grateful to those who have taken part in this debate and who have supported this Amendment. I will not keep your Lordships, but I hope you will allow me to join, with others, in thanking the noble and gallant Field Marshal for his characteristic, kindly, and human speech. I will not deal with anything that the noble and learned Viscount has said, except this. I made three speeches, all of them different, and I appreciate, for reasons of economy, that all his three speeches have been the same; but none of them has answered what I said. The only other thing is that he alleged I had grossly exaggerated. I reject that suggestion. He made only one point, and I will not pursue it because there will be another opportunity. But I would say that the case has not been answered. And, really, no attempt has been made to answer it.
Since, unhappily, the Government will not accept the Amendment, I ask your Lordships, in the interests of these people, not to wait until we get a "jolly good Report" from the Advisory Council, but to help us act now for these people who are coming out of prison, with little help being given to them. I would ask your Lordships to support this Amendment in the Division Lobby.
§ On Question, Whether the said Amendment shall be agreed to?
§ Their Lordships divided: Contents, 34; Not-Contents, 67.549
|Airedale, L.||Cork and Orrery, E.||Kilbracken, L|
|Alexander of Hillsborough, V.||Cranbrook, E.||Latham, L.|
|Amwell, L.||Crook, L.||Lawson, L.|
|Attlee, E.||Fraser of North Cape, L.||Lindgren, L.|
|Citrine, L.||Henderson, L.||Listowel, E.|
|Colwyn, L.||Hughes, L.||Longford, E.|
|Lucan, E. [Teller.]||Ravensdale of Kedleston, B.||Taylor, L.|
|Macpherson of Drumochter, L.||Rea, L.||Terrington, L.|
|Ogmore, L.||Sinha, L.||Walston, L.|
|Pethick-Lawrence, L.||Stonham, L. [Teller.]||Williams, L.|
|Rathcreedan, L.||Summerskill, B.||Williams of Barnburgh, L.|
|Albemarle, E.||Dunleath, L.||Milverton, L.|
|Auckland, L.||Ebbisham, L.||Montgomery of Alamein, V.|
|Baden-Powell, L.||Ellenborough, L.||Morris of Borth-y-Gest, L.|
|Balfour of Burleigh, L.||Foley, L.||Munster, E.|
|Bathurst, E.||Fraser of Lonsdale, L.||Newall, L.|
|Bethell, L.||Freyberg, L.||Newton, L. [Teller.]|
|Blackford, L.||Gage, V.||Northesk, E.|
|Bossom, L.||Goschen, V.||Rathcavan, L.|
|Bridgeman, V.||Gosford, E.||St. Aldwyn, E. [Teller.]|
|Buckinghamshire, E.||Grenfell, L.||St. Oswald, L.|
|Carrington, L.||Hailsham, V. (L. President.)||Salisbury, M.|
|Cawley, L.||Hastings, L.||Sinclair, L.|
|Chesham, L.||Hawke, L.||Spens, L.|
|Clwyd, L.||Horsbrugh, B.||Stonehaven, V.|
|Colville of Culross, V.||Howard of Glossop, L.||Strang, L.|
|Colyton, L.||Iddesleigh, E.||Strathcarron, L.|
|Conesford, L.||Jellicoe, E.||Stuart of Findhorn, V.|
|Craigton, L.||Jessel, L.||Swinton, E.|
|Davidson, V.||Kilmuir, V. (L. Chancellor.)||Teviot, L.|
|Denham, L.||Margesson, V.||Torrington, V.|
|Denning, L.||Massereene and Ferrard, V.||Waldegrave, E.|
|Derwent, L.||Melchett, L.|
|Digby, L.||Merrivale, L.|
On Question, Amendment agreed to.
§ 5.50 p.m.
§ THE LORD CHANCELLOR
My Lords, in rising to move that this Bill do now pass, I hope that your Lordships will not take it amiss or consider it discourteous on my part if, after the very full discussions we have had on the Bill, I limit my remarks to a most genuine expression of gratitude to all noble Lords who have taken part in our deliberations. They have shown, if they will allow me to say so, the most obvious care, attention and study in raising the various matters, and I am most grateful to them. I can assure them that the background, the content and the spirit of what they have said will all be taken into account by my right honourable friend the Home Secretary, even though we have not been able to include their Amendments in the Bill. With that expression of thanks, I hope that your Lordships will allow me to move formally that the Bill do now pass, but of course I shall be delighted to deal with any specific points about which noble Lords may ask me.
§ Moved, That the Bill do now pass.—(The Lord Chancellor.)550
§ 5.52 p.m.
§ THE EARL OF LONGFORD
My Lords, the noble and learned Viscount could never be discourteous, and he can be, and often is, generous. Certainly those who have taken part in these debates will wish to join me in thanking him for what he has just said about our exertions and also for the extraordinary trouble he has taken in replying to difficulties. I seem to remember the Home Secretary describing this Bill in the House of Commons as "a modest instalment of penal reform," and I suggest that that is how it has been presented by the noble and learned Viscount, by the noble and learned Viscount the Leader of the House, and by the noble Earl, Lord Bathurst, who is not with us but to whom I should also like to pay tribute, along with the other noble Lords, for his courtesy and care. From this side we have treated the Bill as good, so far as it goes, though it does not go very far.
In the few remarks I shall offer today, it will be rather from the point of view of what it does not do than from the point of view of what it does that I would make a few criticisms and point to one or two inadequacies. The discussions we have had strike me as having 551 been conducted at a high level. I hesitate to say that because I have played a small part in them, but leaving out my little rôle, I feel that some of the speeches that have been made—particularly those of my noble friends Lord Stonham and Lady Wootton of Abinger, who is in Japan, where I am sure she is instructing very effectively in the secrets of criminal justice—are bound to be of great assistance to the Home Secretary.
As the House knows, I have taken a particular interest in what has come to be known, very properly, as the Henriques Plan. Many of us were disappointed that nothing has been actually put into the Bill about that plan. I fully realise the considerable difficulties, which were set out sympathetically by the noble and learned Viscount, Lord Hailsham, and I hope that in time to come—and before too long—we shall see a plan of non-residential training embodied in the law of this country. For that reason alone, if not for many others, I think that these discussions may deserve to be remembered.
When we look at the gravity of the crime situation—though none of us exaggerates it or falls into the trap of supposing that most people have now become delinquent—we must all ask ourselves whether something larger than this was not possible at this time. Without ranging too far afield, and while appreciating the difference between legislation and administration, and that this is, of course, a piece of legislation, I feel bound to remind the noble and learned Viscount and the House of the unfortunate factors which at the present time make the prison situation a source of such grave disquiet. It would be wrong not to pay tribute to the Government and to the Home Secretary for the size of their building programme. But, of course, the benefits of that programme are not with us yet. Having said that, I must remind the House—I do not think I need give any figures beyond those I have already given on Second Reading—that when the present Home Secretary assumed his office four and a half years ago, there were 2,000 prisoners sleeping three to a cell, and there are now 7,400. Of course, that is the product of the crime wave. But it supplies the back- 552 ground for our discussions, and while that situation continues we must ask ourselves seriously whether something more ambitious could not have been attempted than the modest affair before us.
There is one aspect of the prison situation to which I alluded on Second Reading and to which I hope your Lordships will forgive me if I return to-day, because I have received further information. I refer to the under-staffing in our prisons. I hold in my hand a letter, of which the noble and learned Viscount the Lord Chancellor has received some small notice, a letter from the Secretary of the Prison Officers' Association. With the leave of the House, I will read one or two extracts, because, after all, all these plans for improving the treatment of prisoners, for the correction of prisoners and even for the punishment of prisoners, will come to naught, will be verbiage and waste paper unless they are accompanied by some effective steps to increase the size of prison staffs. I will not say anything to-day about probation officers, although we know that the shortage there is very grave. I mentioned that point at an earlier stage and my noble friend Lord Stonham spoke about it earlier to-day.
Perhaps your Lordships will allow me to quote some extracts from this letter from the Secretary of the Prison Officers' Association. He points out:The, staffing situation in the prisons and Borstal institutions is now extremely critical"—This is an officer of many years standing, writing in the knowledge that these words will be published—and there is hardly an establishment which has its full complement of staff. During the recent trouble at Dartmoor, the staff was seven officers under strength and there were another three officers away on training courses".I did not look up this point, but I think that the Government, when asked a Question about Dartmoor, were under the impression that there was no shortage there. The letter goes on to describe the serious situation at Pentonville, and it then proceeds:According to the reports which have reached us over the last two or three days, the situation has sharply worsened at several establishments.Then he gives the details of that. Now this is something which, without trying 553 to make any sort of Party or Opposition point, should be fairly and squarely before the House. The writer goes on:The position will be further aggravated later in the year, since the Home Secretary has already announced that five more new establishments are to open before the end of 1961—with several more planned for 1962/63".That certainly is a solid point on which we should do well to pause for a moment. We are rather apt to assume that we necessarily improve matters—and that is by and large so—by increasing the number of establishments. But from the point of view of the staff, that represents extra labour and makes understaffing worse. At any rate, this is the report. I will not read the whole letter, though I shall be glad to do so if the Lord Chancellor wishes. It goes on:I have never known the morale of the staff so low"—and this is not a stray officer writing, but a very responsible official—and this is, I am sure, due to the excessive hours that the staff are working and to their complete inability to order any kind of social life owing to additional attendances in the evenings and to the loss of their rest days in order to meet the requirements of the establishments.Yours sincerely,H. Cronin.Of course, it is a difficult problem. I have no doubt that if the Lord Chancellor and his colleagues were able, even by a stroke of the pen or by simply signing the bill, they would take immediate steps to rectify this. This situation is similar to that which we find in the Services when recruiting is bad. We are now faced with the task of somehow or other making this service far more attractive if we are going to do the job that all of us, irrespective of Party, want to see done.
I will not dwell on the position in the Probation Service, which in some ways is worse, considering the enormous increase in the responsibilities which is rightly involved. But in this connection, and in the wider connection of social work generally, I cannot help throwing out the idea that the time has come when a comprehensive inquiry ought to be conducted over the whole field of social service. In that phrase I include the police, the prison officers and the probation officers, besides all those who are ordinarily referred to as social or welfare workers. Various inquiries 554 have been held—the Lord Chancellor and others are fully familiar with them. There is one going on at the present time into the Probation Service. The conditions of the prison officers were looked at not so long ago, and we debated in this House last year the Younghusband Report, which was concerned with various categories of social work.
It seems to me, however—and I say this in the conviction that the noble and learned Viscount will consider it seriously, though he can hardly answer it precisely today—that some comprehensive look must be taken at all these services and a national policy formulated. It may be that, because of these other inquiries, or for other reasons, the Government cannot see their way to undertaking a comprehensive inquiry of that kind. In that case, I should hope that the noble and learned Viscount might express goodwill towards such an inquiry. I should like to see one of the great Trusts undertaking an inquiry of this sort. It would not be the first time that one of the great Trusts has undertaken an inquiry blessed by the Lord Chancellor, as I have every reason to know. But I feel that we have reached a serious stage in trying to give effect to penal and social reform. If the Welfare State breaks down, it will break down through the shortage of welfare staff, and I would say that there is no field in which the danger is more acute than the social field we are now discussing.
I should like to end by saying a word—and I hope I shall not he accused of lack of generosity on this occasion—about the present Home Secretary. He has now been Home Secretary for rather more than four years, and I think that most of those interested in penal reform would say that in the lifetime of all of us there has never been a Home Secretary more genuinely addicted to penal progress. Yet it would be impossible to say that the situation, for which he bears at any rate a titular responsibility, is improving. I would say that under his inspiration the treatment in our prisons is growing steadily more humane; and I give him full credit for that. But the material side, including the staffing position, seems to be getting worse and worse. Certainly it is still far behind our modern ideas of what is appropriate.
555 I cannot help wondering whether the Home Secretary—I have paid my tribute before to his humanity and idealism, and I pay it again—would need to rely quite so heavily on various Committees and Advisory Councils if he had all his time to give to the work of his great office. We know that he is a man deeply burdened with other things. If he were not Home Secretary he would, I am sure, be doing more work than most of us do in our various vocations. I myself believe—and this is my last thought on the Bill—that this is a good Bill, so far as it goes, but that it lacks imagination, breadth and scope. It does not cope with the main problems before us, and I cannot help feeling that, if the Home Secretary were free to concentrate on the tasks of his office, he would go down in history as one of the greatest Home Secretaries. And that, I believe, is something of which as a nation we should all be proud.
§ VISCOUNT HAILSHAM
My Lords, I did not interrupt the noble Earl, but I hope that this kind of breadth of discussion on the Motion "That the Bill do now pass" is not treated as a precedent. This is the Third Reading of the Bill, and this should normally be restricted to matters which are in the Bill. This wide disquisition on penal administration on the Motion "That the Bill do now pass" would not, I should have thought, be something which we should repeat. I did not interrupt the noble Earl, because I know how deeply he feels about this matter, and I did not want to give the impression that I was seeking to stop the flow of argument. But I feel that this is not a good precedent.
§ THE EARL OF LONGFORD
My Lords, if I have offended against the good sense of the House, I apologise.
§ 6.8 p.m.
§ LORD STONHAM
My Lords, like my noble friend Lord Longford, I agree that this is a very useful Bill, although we regret that our efforts to make it go further than it does have failed. Nevertheless, we wish the Bill very well indeed. But to a large extent its value will depend upon the vigour and sense of urgency with which its provisions are implemented.
556 I have three short points I want to address to the noble and learned Viscount, all of which, I believe, are directly related to the Bill as it stands. The first is in connection with the girls' detention centre. The noble and learned Viscount will remember there was a good deal of discussion when I said that there would never be more than twelve or fifteen girls in a detention centre at one time, and the noble Earl, Lord Bathurst, thought there would be some 25 to 30. The fact is that when you deduct the fine-defaulters and the young prostitutes from the average of about 150 girls under 21 who are sentenced to prison, there are only about 50 who are sentenced to terms of less than six months every year. So the number in a detention centre at one time cannot be more than twelve to fifteen. My question on this point is therefore this. Since the fine-defaulters certainly go to prison, as I understand it, and since the noble and learned Viscount has assured us that prostitutes will not go to a detention centre, can we know how we are going to deal with prostitutes? Are they going to prison or to some other haven, and is the noble and learned Viscount also satisfied that, considering these small numbers, it is still desirable to proceed with the original plan?
The second point—and it is a very brief one—is concerned with the noble and learned Viscount's statement that the Government intend to implement the Streatfeild recommendations within the terms of this Bill by administrative means. I have to inform the Lord Chancellor that although the National Association of Probation Officers welcomed his statement last week on the Streatfeild recommendations, they are disturbed that they were not called into consultation, as they were over the Ingleby Report. They say—and I quote:We are concerned that actions now promised in the Lord Chancellor's reply to you shall not take place without full consultation, so that we all know what is going on. If such consultation is taking place only at top level that, in our opinion, is not really satisfactory.I am sure the Lord Chancellor, if he may not be able to say anything about that now, will certainly take note, because I feel this is a matter of importance and a possible decision is too recent for any consultation to have taken place.
557 The last point that I want to put forward is the need for co-ordination between probation, prison welfare, and after-care services. I could quote, but I will not, cases where perhaps three different probation officers might well be dealing with different members of the same family. I do not want to develop it, but I ask him to submit the point to the Advisory Council that, above all things, we need co-ordination of the probation and welfare services and that it may well be that the probation service may provide the main and essential part of the framework and the basis of aftercare services when they are set up. I am grateful to your Lordships for your patience in listening to these three brief points, all of which. I hope, were in order, and I would add my good wishes to this Bill as we send it on its way.
§ VISCOUNT STUART OF FINDHORN
My Lords, before the noble and learned Viscount replies I want to take up a minute and a half on a question of procedure, because I have spent a considerable part of my life in another place. I presume that it is in order to move Amendments on Third Reading, certainly in the case of an important Amendment like this one, which was supported by four Opposition leaders of experience and responsibility; but considering the fact that the Amendment had been discussed twice before in your Lordships' House and indeed voted upon, is it, even if it is in order, considered by my noble and learned friend the Leader of the House a good thing that, unlike in another place, we should be able to re-hash the same Amendment all over again?
§ VISCOUNT HAILSHAM
My Lords, I am grateful indeed to my noble friend for raising this point. Actually it is very close to the point which was raised by my noble friend Lord Swinton at an earlier stage this afternoon. I said that I personally deprecated Third Reading Amendments except in unusual circumstances, and that I thought that this one had been canvassed fully on two previous stages. But the noble Lord is in order under Standing Orders in putting his Amendment down on notice—I think it is Standing Order No. 48 or 49—and in that case I think it is up to the House to comment upon the suitability of the Amendment. I do not feel 558 it was right for the House to do other than to give its own judgment on it.
§ THE LORD CHANCELLOR
My Lords, I am very grateful for the speeches which have been made. I do not think that I could profitably follow the noble Earl, Lord Longford, into the general view which he formed, but I think we both agree, and indeed he indicated, that our hopes are based on the contents of the Bill coupled with the building programme. I think we may legitimately have some hopes when the two are in operation. The other point was on the prison service, and I want to say only three very short things. The first is that when I was Home Secretary I was struck by the extraordinarily high standard that was set for the prison service, both in selection and operation. I wish to say that so that we do not get a picture of unrelieved gloom, but I should not want the noble Earl to think I am being complacent, because I am not. There has been some improvement recently in the rate of recruitment. We are doing a pilot advertising campaign in the North-West and, of course, as the noble Earl knows, there have been substantial increases in pay owing to the recommendation of the Wynn-Parry Committee of 1958 and again in January, 1961.
I should like the noble Earl to ask the writer of the letter to convey to all his members, the sense of this House as to the immense task which our prison service performs. I cannot think of any more exacting and, in many ways, depressing work at first sight, but equally I cannot think of any more rewarding work when it is carried out with a feeling of devotion and vocation, as it so often is. We should be glad if he would convey from the Government and from the House our gratitude to the service for carrying on this job under the difficulties which we realise so well.
§ THE EARL OF LONGFORD
My Lords, may I just rise to say that I am sure the words of the noble Viscount the Lord Chancellor will be deeply appreciated.
§ THE LORD CHANCELLOR
I thank the noble Earl very much. The noble Lord, Lord Stonham, asked me about three points. The first was with regard to girls in detention centres, and I think 559 that there, in view of the debates we have had, we must give more consideration to the programme for girls' detention centres, because of the opinions that have been expressed. Whether my statement about that—that I could not imagine any magistrates sending prostitutes to a detention centre—was one of those snap expressions which I may regret I do not know, but I think the noble Lord knows what I have in mind. There are often, of course, women convicted of other offences who have indulged in some prostitution, and I should not like it to be said that I had, so to speak, bolted this door against them, because that would depend on the two things, namely, how the detention centre shapes and what sort of programme we can get into operation. But I will ask my right honourable friend to give that matter very serious consideration.
The second point was with regard to the Streatfeild recommendations on information and the like. I think that the significance of my remarks has been mistaken. My emphasis was on administration and not legislation. Therefore, a great deal could be done by administration in that half of the report. That was what I wanted to emphasise, not that it would be done without consultation. I think the noble Lord can assure those who are worried that the usual and proper consultation which is in accord with modern administrative as well as legislative practice will take place. He can be assured that I will report it to the Home Secretary and ask him to consider that point.
On the third point, I should like again to say that I will bring the question of co-ordination of probation and welfare services to my right honourable friend's special attention. I do not think I can say any more at the moment, except to say that I do regard it as very important and I am sure he will. I think those were the points about which the noble Lord asked me. Both Mr. Butler and I will read the speeches most carefully and consider what has been said. Finally, I should like to thank the noble Earl, Lord Longford, for his generous tribute to my right honourable friend. He knows that statistics must be faced; that they often reflect problems for which a personal figure cannot be praised or 560 blamed, but they still represent a problem, and that we will all go on fighting together the problem of crime and trying to prevent it.
§ On Question, Bill passed and returned to the Commons.