HL Deb 29 January 1963 vol 246 cc253-306

3.17 p.m.

Further considered on Report (according to Order).

Clause 19 [Assessors for recorder in appeals and committals from juvenile courts]:

LORD STONHAMmoved, in subsection (2), after "be" to insert where it would be contrary to the child's interests to delay the hearing,".

The noble Lord said: My Lords, Clause 19 provides that where a court of quarter sessions for a borough deals with a case on appeal from a juvenile court, or one referred to it by a juvenile court, there shall sit with the recorder as assessors two magistrates with juvenile court experience. The clause provides that where possible they shall be drawn from the borough juvenile court panel, and that, again where possible, one should be a man and the other a woman. It is perfectly obvious that that is an extremely valuable provision, and one which we fully support. But subsection (2) provides that in certain cases the recorder shall sit with only one assessor, or indeed with none at all. If the recorder sits with no assessor from a juvenile court panel, then, of course, the whole value of the clause is lost in those particular cases.

Your Lordships will recall that at the Committee stage I moved an Amendment to provide that the recorder should not consider a case if no member of the juvenile court panel was there to advise him as an assessor. The noble Marquess, Lord Lothian, replying to the Amendment, put forward what I regarded as a very substantial objection to it—and I think he will agree that it was the only objection of substance he did raise; namely, that it might mean that a child's case would be held up for a period of several weeks, which would be wholly undesirable. I agree that that would be so, and this Amendment, which proposes merely to add the words where it would be contrary to the child's interests to delay the hearing ", does, I submit, fully meet that point. It would ensure, so far as humanly possible, that the purposes of this clause are fulfilled in all cases. We are dealing with borough quarter sessions, and it would seem to me very unlikely, in view of the rules which the Lord Chancellor will draw up, that there would be no member of the juvenile court panel available to assist with the case; but if such circumstances did arise, and if the recorder then felt that because of the possible delay it would be injurious to the interest of the child, then he should act alone.

I think that this is a matter of some importance. I have discussed it with one or two recorders of my acquaintance, and I was rather shocked at the attitude which they took on this particular point. They virtually pooh-poohed the idea, taking the view, "We are well able to take care of these cases," and I have no doubt at all that on points of law the recorder is better fitted to deal with them than a lay assessor. Nevertheless, I submit—and the whole purpose of this clause emphasises this point—that in matters of this kind he should have the advice of the magistrate members of a juvenile court court panel, who may well have had many years' experience. I think that the point is quite clear. I hope the noble 'Marquess will agree that the Amendment meets his previous objections, and that the Government will accept it.

Amendment moved— Page 11, line 12, after ("be") insert the said words.—(Lord Stonham.)


My Lords, to recapitulate a little, subsection (2) of Clause 19 provides that in a case where subsection (1) requires a recorder sitting at quarter sessions on an appeal to be assisted by juvenile court justices as assessors the recorder may sit with one assessor if two are not available, and that if no assessors are available he may sit alone. The noble Lord, Lord Stonham, has pointed out in moving this Amendment that, if the Amendment is passed, it would allow the recorder to sit alone only when it would be contrary to the child's interest to delay the hearing. As the House will remember, on the Committee stage the noble Lord moved an Amendment which would have prevented the recorder from sitting alone in any circumstances whatsoever. On that occasion, as he has pointed out, I made the following point [OFFICIAL REPORT, Vol. 245 (No. 20), Vol. 470]: … the hardship caused by delay outweighs the disadvantage of allowing an appellant or an offender to be dealt with by the recorder without the assistance of a juvenile court magistrate. I had specifically in mind at that time the possible hardship to the child; but it is of course true that delay might cause hardship and difficulties in other ways as well.

For example, in a case where the appeal was against a finding of guilt as well as an order of the juvenile court, and so entailed a rehearing of the whole case, it is possible that the principal witness for the prosecution might have to come a long distance, or that the children's parents might have to travel a long way to be present, with a certain amount of inconvenience and expense. I do not want to suggest that these considerations should take precedence over the child's interests, but only that they should be taken into account and that any conflict between the interests of the child and those of others persons should be resolved in the fairest way to all concerned.

At the same time, the Government appreciate the motives behind the noble Lord's Amendment. It might, I think, be possible at any rate to go some way towards meeting his wishes by borrowing some words from paragraph 17 of Schedule 2, which relates to the constitution of juvenile courts in the metropolitan area. To take an example, it might be possible to state expressly in Clause 19 (2) that the recorder (like a stipendiary magistrate in a juvenile court) may sit alone only where it appears to him that "an adjournment would not be in the interests of justice". A similar provision in paragraph (2) 2 of Schedule 2 to the principal Act and (as regards juvenile courts outside London) in Rule 12 of the Juvenile Courts (Constitution) Rules, 1954, has, I believe, been in operation for some years, and it does not seem to have been contrary to the interests of children appearing before juvenile courts. There is one other small point—


My Lords, would the noble Marquess allow me to interrupt him? I am not clear whether he is now suggesting, in order to meet at least part of my point, that there should be an Amendment to Schedule 2 of the present Bill, or to another Bill. Could he make that clear?


I am sorry, my Lords. I had not quite finished. What I was going to say, having finished what I have said, is that I understand the noble Lord's Amendment as it stands is defective, in so far as it would not indicate who is to decide whether delay would be contrary to the children's interests. What I am authorised to say to him is that, if he would be agreeable to withdrawing his Amendment, I can give an undertaking that the Government are prepared to move at a later stage in the Bill an Amendment on the lines that I have outlined already. I cannot be more specific at this stage as the noble Lord will realise, because it does require some more thought. But I hope that with that undertaking he will be prepared to withdraw.


My Lords, does that mean that the noble Marquess is envisaging an Amendment something on the lines of where it seems to the recorder that it would be contrary to the child's interests to delay the hearing…"?


My Lords, without being absolutely specific, I would say that that is what is in the mind of the Government at the moment. I should not like to be absolutely specific, because we should like a little more time to think about the precise wording.


My Lords, I am very glad to learn from the noble Marquess that, in principle, my noble friend's Amendment commends itself. But I hope that, in arriving at the final form of words, the noble Marquess will not pay too much heed to the type of example that he gave; for instance, that a prosecution witness might have to come a long distance. This happens every day in the courts, not only in cases concerning children, and an enormous amount of time is constantly—perhaps unavoidably; perhaps sometimes avoidably—wasted on the part of witnesses. I think it would be very unfortunate if in the case of juveniles, where the overriding considerations must be the welfare of the child or young person and the interests of justice, these considerations were allowed to prevail when they are disregarded every day in the case of adults.


My Lords, before we leave the matter of these assessors, I should like to ask the Minister what he envisages as the precise function of these assessors. It may well be that he explained this at an earlier stage when I was not able to be here, and if so I apologise to him; but I imagine he will agree with me that the assessors are not part of the court, and that the recorder is not in any sort of way bound by any expression of opinion that may be given to him by these assessors. That is the normal position of assessors, at any rate in connection with legal proceedings, and I should like to have the opinion of the noble Marquess whether that general rule would apply in this particular case.

While I appreciate that this is perhaps going a little wide, does the noble Marquess not think that it would really be very much better if there was applied in these recorders' courts the normal rule for quarter sessions, where, while the chairman is a professional lawyer, not only is he assisted by lay magistrates but the lay magistrates have just as much part in the decision as does the chairman himself? The magistrates brought in from the juvenile courts would then have just as much weight in regard to what should be done with the child as would the recorder himself, who, as my noble friend pointed out, is really just there as a professional lawyer.


My Lords, as I understand the noble Marquess, the main defect of the Amendment which I have now moved is that it does not indicate who is to take the decision, and I agree that it has that defect. I hope that the noble Marquess will bear in mind that, a few Amendments later, he or his noble friend will be moving on behalf of the Government an Amendment to another clause which has precisely the same de- fect. No doubt they will correct it in due course. But I do admit that point, and I understand the noble Marquess to say that, although there is another difficulty—the question of witnesses having to attend on another occasion—the Government regard that as of less importance than the interests of the child. It is in the spirit of those two things, and because the noble Marquess has given an undertaking that he will take the point away and come back with a better Amendment than mine, one which does not have the defect and at the same time covers the point, that I would express my gratitude for the Government's offer and ask leave to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn,

Clause 24 [Age limits for children sent to special reception centres]:


My Lords, I think I can assure you that this is purely a drafting Amendment. I beg to move.

Amendment moved— Page 13, line 39, leave out ("or commits for trial or sentence").—(Earl Jellicoe.)

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

Clause 25 [Attendance at court of parents of child or young person brought before court]:

3.30 p.m.

THE MARQUESS OF LOTHIAN moved, in subsection (1) to omit the proposed new paragraphs (a) and (b), and to substitute: any person who is a parent or guardian of his may".

The noble Marquess said: My Lords, I should like, with permission, to discuss Amendments Nos. 29, 30 and 31 together. As it stands, Clause 25 provides that a court, before which a child under 17 appears, is to require both his parents to attend at all stages of the proceedings, unless satisfied that it would be unreasonable to require either or both of them to do so. Noble Lords will remember that when this clause was considered in Committee the noble Lady, Baroness Wootton of Abinger, drew attention to the practical difficulty that the court has no opportunity of considering before the proceedings start whether it is reasonable to require both the child's parents to attend; and she added, I think, that in her view it was unnecessary for both parents to be summoned as a matter of routine in more or less every case.

We appreciate that there is a real difficulty here, though I understand that it is equally inherent in Section 34 of the principal Act, which has nevertheless been made to work for the past 30 years. That section, like the clause in its present form, contemplates a decision by the court in every case whether the child's parent or guardian is to be required to attend throughout the proceedings. Where the proceedings are instituted by summons, the justice issuing the summons has an opportunity to consider the matter then—although, as the noble Lady quite rightly pointed out, the information available to him at that stage may not be adequate. But where the child is arrested without warrant and released on bail at the police station, or, in "care or protection" proceedings, is removed to a place of safety, there is no opportunity for a court or justice to consider the question before the child first appears in court. Whether the child is then accompanied by two parents, by one parent or by no parent at all, their attendance cannot in any real sense of the words be said to have been required by the court.

These Amendments, my Lords, are designed to take account of this practical difficulty, while safeguarding the main object of the clause, which is as recommended in the Ingleby Committee's Report, paragraph 200—that is: … to make it clear that the court has power to order the attendance of both parents". With Amendments Nos. 29 and 30, the proposed new subsection (1) of Section 34 of the principal Act would read as follows: Where a child or young person is charged with any offence or is for any other reason brought before a court, any person who is a parent or guardian of his may be required to attend at the court before which the case is heard or determined during all the stages of the proceedings, and any such person shall be so required at any stage where the court thinks it desirable, unless the court is satisfied that it would be unreasonable to require his attendance". As the noble Lady will see, this goes somewhat further than she suggested, in so far as it allows the court to dispense with both parents' attendance. I realise that this may seem rather wide, but the reason for it, as I hope noble Lords will appreciate, is that we feel that from time to time cases will arise—I think, for instance, of a case of a boy aged 16 accused of bicycling without a light—in which the court might reasonably think it unnecessary to compel either the father or the mother to attend.

Where proceedings are instituted by summons, the justice issuing the process would in practice, I think, be guided by the age of the child and the nature of the charge or other allegation. I have already given an example of a case where neither parent might be required to attend. But if, for example, the charge were one of larcency, which might prove either a grave offence or a fairly minor one, the court would probably require only one parent, in the first instance, to attend. If the charge were obviously a serious one, the court might prefer to have both there from the start. Where proceedings start with the arrest of a child, or his removal to a place of safety, it is obvious that there is no room for the exercise of the court's discretion until after the proceedings have begun, and if one or both of the child's parents did appear at the outset of the proceedings it must have been either because of their own interest in the child's welfare or because they had been warned previously that the court would expect them to do so.

Subsection (2) of the new version of Section 34, as amended by the third Amendment—that is, Amendment No. 31—would provide for such steps as are practicable to be taken to inform at least one parent or guardian. It is not possible, I think, to stipulate to the parent or guardian about the desirability of his attendance, because this, as I hope the noble Lady will agree, is dependent on the age of the child, the nature of the charge or other allegation and, to some extent, I have no doubt, the practice in such a case of the court before which the child will appear. If, in either event, when the case comes on for hearing, neither parent, or possibly only one, is present, it will be for the court to consider at this stage whether it is desirable that, either then or at a later stage, any parent who is not at that time present should be required to attend, and, if so, to summon him or her unless satisfied that it would be unreasonable to do so. For example, it may be sufficient for one parent to be present to watch the child's interest while the charge is being tried but desirable that both should attend a later hearing at which the court decides how to deal with the child.

I hope that the noble Lady will feel that, as amended in this way, the clause will provide a workable means of securing so far as possible that a court dealing with a child under 17 should have before it at any stage that it wishes both the child's parents, or his guardian, whether it is desirable in the child's own interests or in the interest of justice. It is possible that different courts will take different views on the desirability of having both parents, but the clause as amended will direct their attention to the need to consider the point, and it goes as far as practicable, I submit, to meet the Ingleby Committee's wishes that both parents should attend the court unless the court is satisfied that the attendance of one can be dispensed with. My Lords, I beg to move.

Amendment moved— Page 14, leave out lines 16 to 19 and insert ("any person who is a parent or guardian of his may")—(The Marquess of Lothian.)


My Lords, it is a very unusual experience to find the Government not merely accepting the sense of Amendments moved from this side of the House but even going rather further, and I should like to express appreciation of the way in which the Government have recognised both the practical difficulties and what might be in some cases the practical absurdities of requiring both parents to be present. In a number of cases that come before juvenile courts the de facto parents are not always the legal parents. Very often there has been a break-up in the home and the child may be living with his natural mother and with a stepfather who is acting as the de facto guardian, and it would be quite absurd to bring along the natural father, who may have had nothing to do with the child for a very long time. There are all kinds of cases in which absurdity would arise if the attendance of both parents were required.

I would entirely agree with the noble Marquess that in minor cases it is often quite satisfactory if one parent alone attends, but I felt a little uneasy that he had gone quite so far as he had in making it possible for cases to be heard with neither parent present. In my experience, this happens quite often, and especially in the type of case which he has instanced—perhaps a young man of 16, who is wage-earning on his own and who has committed a minor offence. But it has been the practice in the courts that I know not to proceed with the case unless the defendant himself agrees that it should be heard in the absence of his parent or guardian. That seems to me to be a rather important safeguard, and I do not know whether the noble Marquess would be able to work that into the Bill at a later stage.

Apart from that, these very complicated Amendments appear to me to be in their practical result very much in accord with justice, with a reasonable view of parental responsibilities, and with common sense. There is a fundamental philosophical difficulty in Amendment No. 30, but I would not propose to pursue that. I notice that Amendment No. 30 contemplates that a court may think an action is simultaneously desirable and unreasonable. I might challenge the philosophy implied there, but I think your Lordships would be satisfied if the practical result were what was desired.


My Lords, I support what my noble friend Lady Wootton of Abinger has said about Amendments 29 and 30, but, as I understand it, the noble Marquess is also intending to couple with those two Amendments in this discussion Amendment No. 31, and I cannot recall that he referred specifically to Amendment No. 31 which is on a different and separate point. I appreciate his modesty in not referring to it, for it is the very one that contains the defect that my Amendment had previously. Subsection (2) now says: Where a child or a young person is arrested or taken to a place of safety, the constable by whom he is arrested or the officer of the police in charge of the police station … or the person by whom he is taken to the place of safety as the case may be shall cause each of the parents of the child or young person who can be found and any guardian of his to be warned to attend at the court … In other words, the subsection now specifically places the responsibility for warning or informing the parents or guardian on one of three classes of person.

The Government propose in Amendment 31 to delete all those words and merely to say that where the child or young person is arrested or taken to a place of safety, such steps shall be taken as may be practicable to inform at least one person whose attendance may be required under this section. Who is going to take the steps? If we accept this Amendment, no one will have a clue whose duty it is to inform the parent or guardian. Some unknown people, not specified in the Bill, are to say what they think are practicable steps. There are all sorts of steps open to a police constable or to the officer in charge of the police station or to the person conveying the child to a place of safety. There is a different practicality as to the steps that each can take. Suppose the parents are difficult to find. Then I should have thought that the police, at least as the subsection originally stands, would through their enquiries be the people most likely to be able to get word to the parents. I do not want to pursue the matter any further now that the noble Earl is in his place, because he may give me a very simple answer to get over the point, but I think he will agree that if Amendment 31 is to be accepted he must be able to show me that somewhere in the Bill it is indicated who is to take the steps to inform the parent or guardian and what kind of criteria would cover the term "as may be practicable". As it stands at present, subject to any enlightenment he may give, I would say this is a wholly objectionable Amendment.

3.44 p.m.


My Lords, while respectfully concurring in what has fallen from the lips of the noble Lord, Lord Stonham, in relation to Amendment No. 31—I entirely agree that if we are going to lay down a duty in the Amendment it should be made perfectly clear upon whom it rests that that duty shall be performed; and the Amendment fails in that respect to make it clear—I should like your Lordships to return to the point of principle with which Amendments Nos. 29 and 30 are concerned. If your Lordships were to ask me, as I think I have been asked more than once in interviews with the Press or on radio, what were the main principles upon which the Ingleby Committee founded its Report, I think I should say first and foremost, that one of our objects was to emphasise the importance of parental responsibility and to bring home to parents the duty and the burden which lies upon them. This duty a number, at any rate, of parents at the present time seem to ignore; they are anxious to escape from it and to place elsewhere a responsibility which is truly theirs.

One of the ways in which we wished to emphasise parental responsibility was by making it an obligation that both parents should, in the ordinary way, be summoned to court when the child had to appear; and indeed in regard to the younger children under 12, for whom we propounded the new procedure which we were debating the other day, we suggested that the summons itself should go to both parents and should place them under an obligation to bring the child to court with them. That part of the Ingleby scheme has been jettisoned by the Government, but here there seems to me to be a further whittling away of the emphasis we sought to place on parental responsibility. My noble friend, Lord Feversham, who is President of the Association of Probation Officers and who is unable, for personal reasons, to be present here this afternoon, has told me of the deep concern which the probation officers feel at the Amendments which they now see on the Order Paper and which we are now discussing.

The noble Baroness, Lady Wootton of Abinger, herself admitted that the Amendments seemed to go further than anything she had asked the Government to do in the Committee stage. When I read them I think that that probably is the case, because the law at present is contained in Section 34 of the Act of 1933, whose terms are set out almost verbatim in paragraph 199 of our Report. The law at present is that when a child is charged with any offence or is for any other reason brought before a court his parent may in any case and shall if he can be found and lives within a reasonable distance be required to attend court … There is therefore a clear obligation here upon the court to require the attendance of at least one parent. And, of course, there is the power to summon the other parent if the parent having the actual possession and control of the child is the mother; in that case the father of the child can be summoned as well. The words of the existing Section 34 are: … if that person"— having the actual possession and control of the child— is not the father, the attendance of the father may also be required. What is now proposed in the Amendments would make the clause read as follows: and any person who is a parent or guardian of the child may be required to attend at the court before which the case is heard or determined during all the stages of the proceedings and any such person shall be so required"— that is to say, to attend— at any stage where the court thinks it desirable, unless the court is satisfied that it would be unreasonable to require his attendance. Therefore, with these Amendments incorporated in the clause, there is now a power to dispense with the attendance of either parent and surely that goes back beyond the position which has existed since 1933. I understand the difficulty which the Government find and which my Committee also found. The difficulty is in distinguishing a perfectly trivial case from a case of some substance.

The case which has been cited by the noble Marquess in moving the Amendment, of a boy riding a bicycle without lights after lighting-up time, is what appears to be a pretty trivial thing and in the ordinary way one would be inclined to say that it was not necessary to summon both the parents to the court in a case of that kind. But there is the practical difficulty of ascertaining in advance which are these trivial cases. It certainly would not be a satisfactory dividing line, in my opinion, to say that in the case of an indictable offence both parents must be summoned and that in the case of an offence which can be dealt with summarily only one parent need be summoned. I do not think that that would be at all a satisfactory dividing line and I hope that the noble Baroness, with her experience of juvenile courts, will agree with my view on that point. From my point of view, it would be better in a small number of cases for some parents to be unnecessarily summoned than for us to revert to the position as it has been in most courts since 1933, in which the normal practice is for only one parent to be required to attend.

Therefore, I think that this Amendment goes beyond anything that can be reconciled in any way with the recommendation of the Ingleby Committee. It also, I think, goes beyond what the noble Baroness was asking for when she moved her Amendment at Committee stage. I earnestly ask the noble Earl, Lord Jellicoe, when he comes to reply, to say that this may be looked at again in the light of the observations made in this debate and that possibly some other form of words may be introduced into the Bill in another place at a later stage.


My Lords, I have listened with great interest to what has been said by the noble Baroness, by the noble Lord, Lord Stonham, and by my noble friend. I should like to deal with two difficulties which noble Lords have mentioned. The first is the difficulty of this Amendment's going beyond what the noble Baroness suggested on Committee stage. As my noble friend Lord Lothian said, in a sense it does and in a sense it does not. In so far as it does, we have done so because we thought that to place an absolute obligation upon both parents to attend in certain circumstances would not work. There is not only the trivial case which my noble friend alluded to, but also the case where one parent may be a seaman and abroad and the mother may be sick. In that case, it would be impossible to impose a definite obligation on both parents to attend.

What I should like to suggest on this point, bearing in mind the specific suggestion the noble Baroness made and what my noble friend has said, is that I should have an opportunity of looking at this comparatively detailed point between now and when this Bill goes to another place. I am reasonably satisfied that the clause, as amended by the first two Amendments, is broadly speaking right, but I should like a chance of looking at the difficulty to which noble Lords have alluded. By the same token, I should like a chance, between now and when the Bill goes to another place, to look at the difficulty in the third Amendment to which the noble Lord, Lord Stonham, alluded. It is my understanding that there are so many possible circumstances that it is probably unnecessary to try to lay a particular obligation upon the police or any other person, and probably Clause 34 as drafted is wrong in that respect and so was the original clause which we are now seeking to amend.

On Question, Amendment agreed to.


My Lords, I beg to move.

Amendment moved— Page 14, line 21 at end insert ("and any such person shall be so required at any stage where the court thinks it desirable, unless the court is satisfied that it would be unreasonable to require his attendance").—(Earl Jellicoe.)

On Question, Amendment agreed to.


My Lords, I beg to move the next Amendment.

Amendment moved— Page 14, line 23, leave out from ("safety") to end of line 30 and insert ("such steps shall he taken as may be practicable to inform at least one person whose attendance may be required under this section").—(The Marquess of Lothian.)


My Lords, is it the intention to move this Amendment under the circumstances explained? Will the noble Earl amend his Amendment at a later stage?


My Lords, I think that my suggestion was that the Amendment would be moved, and I hope approved by your Lordships, subject to the assurance which I gave just now.

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

3.58 p.m.

LORD STONHAM moved, in subsection (1) (a), to leave out "under the age of thirteen" and to insert: who has not attained the upper limit of the compulsory school age".

The noble Lord said: My Lords, we all approve the purpose of Clause 27, which deals with the evidence of children in proceedings for sexual offences. The clause as it now stands has the object of saving children under 13 from the embarrassment of appearing personally in court and giving evidence for the prosecution. There is provision for them to give evidence in writing. In this Amendment, I desire to extend the exemption to children of compulsory school age.

I submit to your Lordships that all the strong arguments in favour of protecting children under 13 from this sort of embarrassment, something which can affect their whole lives, which indeed can warp and distort their whole lives, apply with equal force to children of compulsory school age. It is highly undesirable that children of 14 or 15 should be subjected to this sort of thing, then perhaps go back to school and be questioned about it, because the subject may well have appeared in the newspapers. It would be regarded as wrong for that to happen to children under 13. If children of school age, who have the misfortune to be caught up in a case of this kind, are able to make a statement in writing, in the same way as children under 13, I think that that would be a very satisfactory improvement to the Bill as it now stands. I hope that the noble Earl will agree. I beg to move.

Amendment moved— Page 15, line 3, leave out from ("child") to ("shall") and insert ("who has not attained the upper limit of the compulsory school age").—(Lord Stonham.)


My Lords, I listened not without sympathy to the noble Lord's remarks, but I am still not really clear why the age under this clause should be linked in any way with the upper limit of compulsory school age. I can see no real connection between these two possible limits. It seems to us better to specify an age in years, basing that on the stage of development that a child of that age may normally be expected to have attained. Guided by that principle, we have suggested 13 as the right age. That age was not chosen without careful thought. I think we should all agree that the age of sexual maturity is tending to fall these days, and I would suggest that, by and large, and in this day and age, 13 seems about as reasonable a dividing line as can be found. It coincides with the age up to which Parliament in legislation dating back to the last century has thought it right to provide for much heavier penalties for a sexual offence against a child. Moreover, I think we must remember that many girls (I am not really wishing to discriminate between the sexes here) of school age have nowadays attained a degree of sexual maturity, and in some cases of sexual experience, and they may be in no special need of protection in this particular context.

We are suggesting in Clause 27 a rather unusual arid exceptional procedure. Its object is to protect the young child. For the very reason that this procedure is exceptional, and that it limits the power of the defence to get witnesses to give evidence at the first opportunity, we should, I suggest, be careful not to extend it beyond its primary purpose.

There is a further consideration, and it is this. I think we cannot shut our eyes to the fact that some young people, at least, will have reached a degree of sophistication by the age of 13 or thereabouts, and for them it may well be advisable that their evidence on such matters should be tested by cross-examination at the earliest opportunity. For this reason, if the age limit in the clause were raised to take in children up to 16, it is likely that in most cases the defence would object to the application of the new procedure for a young person of that age. To extend the provisions of the clause, designed primarily for the protection of the young and immature, to a range of cases where such protection is perhaps unnecessary, and possibly even undesirable, would, I suggest, only tend to obscure its purpose and to reduce the proportion of cases in which the new procedure is likely to be applied. For those reasons, although I do not think there is anything particularly sacrosanct in this context about the age of 13, I suggest to your Lordships that the clause is best left unamended.


My Lords, I appreciate that the noble Earl has some difficulty in deciding where to draw his line, and that, with regard to my noble friend's Amendment, the school leaving age may be rising and you may get young people with a considerable degree of experience still at school. But even so, I wish the noble Earl would think again, and particularly if he cannot bring himself to go as far as my cable friend's Amendment, ask himself, if only because of the additional complications that this involves: why 13? We draw a line for a great many purposes in dealing with young people in the courts at 14. This is the line between the child and the young person. That line regulates, for instance, the operation of the rule of doli incapax. It is an important watershed in the methods of dealing with the problems of children and young persons who come before the courts. I hope the noble Earl will consider whether it is necessary now to make yet another dividing line of 13, and whether, even if he cannot go as far as the Amendment suggests, he will not bring it into line with the distinction between the child and the young person.


My Lords, I echo the point that has been put by my noble friend. It is natural that many cases affecting children are not reported, and even at an age much higher than 13 their names are not allowed to be used. While agreeing with the noble Earl that nowadays girls and boys are reaching physical maturity at an earlier age (at least two years earlier, I would say, than in my generation), and that a number of girls have sexual experiences at a much earlier age, I should have thought that that was an argument for my Amendment; not for the Bill as it stands. What we are talking about is, not whether these young people have had sexual experiences, but whether they are involved in a case which has sexual implications and, indeed, in which they may have been victims or willing participators. In any case, by law they must have been victims, and they must have had a crime committed against them. I am considering, not that physical fact of a crime which has been committed, but the whole salacious, nasty, filthy business which has to be talked over, with the child, as it were, as one of the leading proponents in the limelight, being questioned by adults, when possibly she is scared stiff but is nevertheless acting the grown-up, case hardened woman. I thing this is wholly bad, whether the child is 13, 14, 15 or 16.

Here is an opportunity, not to stop the sexual offence but greatly to curtail the advertising of it—the glorification of it, if you like, the blazening of it; to curtail creating out of something wholly undesirable a special person being made of the child who had to go up and talk to the "beak" about it and then go back to her school friends and tell them all the details, with all the embellishments. If she merely had to write a letter (even that would be an imposition) putting it down in black and white, which could be used in court, then I think it would be very much better.

I would therefore ask the noble Earl to re-examine what he said and then try to think: is not all this an argument against the Bill as it stands and for the Amendment? If his particular difficulty is adopting the maximum limit of compulsory school-leaving age, which in certain circumstances may be extended, and if there is a great merit in having a particular age—such as 13, as it is in the Bill—I would be satisfied to have it fixed at 15, although it would be better still if it were 16. I therefore ask the noble Earl (I know, in view of what he said, that he cannot give an undertaking) at least to say that he will have a look at this point again so that we may deal with it in the final stage of the Bill.


My Lords, I may speak again only with the leave of the House, but in view of what the noble Lord and the noble Baroness have said I hope that I may have that leave. The noble Lord asked me if I would have a look at what I have just said and, in the light of that, whether I would not be convinced by what he has said. I will accept his painful invitation and will look at what I have said. But having done so I think I am more likely to be convinced by my own arguments than I am by his, because I still feel that it would be a mistake to link these two possible age limits with the school-leaving age. I am more attracted by the idea of considering the possibility of whether the age of 13, which we have suggested, is the right age.

The noble Baroness asked me to ask myself whether 13 was and must be the law of the Medes and Persians in this matter. I asked myself that question before the noble Lord moved his Amendment, and my answer was contained in what I said. I also said that we did not regard the age of 13 in this context as necessarily being sacrosanct. I took the point about uniformity which the noble Baroness made. If there is a general desire that this age should be raised, I am very willing to give the noble Lord an assurance that we will consider that possibility at a later stage of the Bill, but, of course, quite without commitment. In view of the time factor, I do not think it could be while this House is considering the Bill.


My Lords, on that assurance by the noble Earl, I beg leave to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 33 [Street trading]:


My Lords, this is best described as a drafting Amendment. The purpose of subsection (2) of the clause is to exempt street trading by young persons in established markets from the restrictions imposed by the principal Acts on street trading generally by young persons. Because the proposed provision is at present expressed in terms of Sections 20 (1) of the principal Act and 30 (1) of the Scottish Act, it has the effect of exempting such young persons trading in established markets from the minimum age limit imposed by subsection (1) of those sections, but it is defective in that it does not exempt such young persons from the provisions of subsection (2) of those sections which enable local authorities to make by-laws prohibiting or regulating such street trading by persons under 18. This Amendment is designed to regulate that position. I beg to move.

Amendment moved—

Page 17, line 19, leave out from beginning to ("restrict") in line 20 and insert— ("(2) Nothing in the said section 20 or section 30 of the principal Scottish Act or in any byelaw made under either of those sections shall").—(The Marquess of Lothian.)

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

Clause 35 [Restriction on persons under 16 taking part in public performances, etc.]:

4.15 p.m.

THE EARL OF IDDLESLEIGH had given notice of his intention to move, after subsection (4) to insert: ( ) In the case of a person over the age of 15, the local authority may, subject to such restrictions and conditions as the Secretary of State may by regulation prescribe, grant a special licence for such person to take part in any performance or series of performances to which subsection (2) of this section applies, at any time during the period before which such person attains the age of 16:

Provided that—

  1. (i) the local authority is satisfied that the person is fit to take part in performances during the said period; and
  2. (ii) the local authority is notified in advance in the prescribed manner before the person takes part in any performance or series of performances."

The noble Earl said: My Lords, I set down this Amendment with the intention of assisting theatrical managers who are in the position of having to get hold in a great hurry of an actor capable of impersonating a child. The process of obtaining a licence for a child actor involves a good deal of documentation and a good many consents. While some local authorities, notably the London County Council, are extremely quick and efficient in granting these licences under suitable conditions, other local authorities, perhaps through their distance from London, perhaps for other reasons, take a good deal longer over the job. If a licensed child actor falls sicks during the run of a play, it is obviously necessary to obtain a substitute as quickly as possible. Under the present law, theatrical managers overcome the difficulty by finding a young person of between 15 and 16 years of age—an age group which is not at present subject to licensing, but which will be when this Bill is passed. Among that age group they may be fortunate enough to find a young person small enough and slight enough able, with the help of a little stage illusion, to impersonate a younger child.

This Bill raises the licensing age to 16, and the people fear they may be in a considerable dilemma. I have had the advantage of putting that point to the noble Earl, Lord Jellicoe, and his advisers, and with the courtesy and efficiency which the noble Earl has shown throughout his conduct of this Bill, for which we are all most grateful, he has promised to give the matter further consideration. I do not expect that anything can be done during the passage of the Bill through this House, but I have some hopes that the really strong case which I have presented to him may bear fruits in another place. In those circumstances, I do not propose to move my Amendment.

EARL JELLICOE moved, after subsection (5) to insert: ( ) Without prejudice to the generality of the preceding subsection, regulations under this section may prescribe, among the conditions subject to which a licence may be granted. a condition requiring sums earned by the person in respect of whom the licence is granted in taking part in a performance to which the licence relates to be paid into the county court (or, in Scotland, consigned in the sheriff court) or dealt with in a manner approved by the local authority.

The noble Earl said: My Lords, during the Committee the noble Lord, Lord Stonham, asked for some express provision to enable local authorities to super vise the disposal of the earnings of child performers. Your Lordships may recall that his original proposal would have required the local authority to be satisfied—I emphasise that word; and I am going back to his previous wording—that adequate and proper provision has been made for the management and investment of his earnings before any licence could be granted. As I pointed out then, a local authority could not discharge that responsibility without looking with a much more inquisitorial eye at the family affairs of the child in question than many people would consider right or reasonable. For this and other reasons, I was not able to accept the noble Lord's Amendment, but I said that I should like the chance of further considering this not unimportant matter.

The Amendment which I am now moving has three purposes. In the first place, as the last two lines of it, I hope, show, it is intended to make it clear that the Secretary of State has the power to make regulations for the supervision by the local authorities of a child's earnings, and that the local authority, for their part, may concern themselves with the protection of earnings in determining the conditions to be attached to a licence. In Committee I said that the local authority's responsibilities and powers in this respect would be spelled out in the regulations which would follow this Bill when it is enacted, and the noble Lord asked for a specific assurance on that point. I think that this Amendment gives him that assurance.

In the same way, this Amendment would enable regulations to be made for continuing the existing practice which commended itself to the Bateson Committee whereby some local authorities have insisted, by a condition attached to the licence, that a proportion of the child's or young person's earnings should be banked. Thirdly, it would enable the local authority, in cases where a more permanent and effective control might be thought better—and this, I suppose, might apply to cases where the child or young person is earning a really large sum—to attach a condition requiring earnings to be paid into the county court or, in the case of Scotland, consigned in the sheriff court, for administration as a trust fund on behalf of the child or young person. This was, in fact, a suggestion made by the Bateson Committee after discussion with the Lord Chancellor's Office.

At this stage I do not think I could indicate in any detail what precise provisions would be included in the regulations when they were made. However, the general aim will be to avoid undue rigidity and prescribe conditions which will allow the licensing authority to match the degree of control which it seeks to impose to the needs of the individual case. As the Bateson Committee indicated, there would probably be few cases in which the comprehensive protection of county court administration would be needed; and I should perhaps mention that under the new provision the local authority would also be able, where they judge this best, to approve other arrangements for protection—for example, a private trust, where this is judged to be appropriate. I beg to move.

Amendment moved—

Page 19, line 23, at end insert— ("(6) Without prejudice to the generality of the preceding subsection, regulations under this section may prescribe, among the conditions subject to which a licence may be granted, a condition requiring sums earned by the person in respect of whom the licence is granted in taking part in a performance to which the licence relates to be paid into the county court (or, in Scotland, consigned in the sheriff court) or dealt with in a manner approved by the local authority.")—(Earl Jellicoe.)


My Lords, I am most grateful to the noble Earl and those who have advised him on this matter, because I feel that the Amendment with which lie has now come forward not only provides for meeting, as it were, the case that I put, but on the whole leaves greater flexibility. Providing the essential requisites are understood in the way he has put them, I am quite sure that what we both have in mind will be met.

I think that it was going a little too far to try to regulate the investment of the child's earnings as distinct from the management of the child's earnings, and, so far as smaller sums of, say, £500 a year are concerned, if an appropriate proportion of them is paid into a banking account, as some licensing authorities insist (perhaps at least a third of it) I think that is quite satisfactory. But for larger sums I feel that a trust fund of the kind the noble Earl mentioned is the sort of thing we should like to see for the protection of these children, who may have large earnings only while children and whose future, therefore, should be assured. These are the kind of points I have in mind. I am quite sure they can be dealt with by the machinery that would be provided by the Amendment and I would wholly support it and thank the noble Earl.

On Question, Amendment agreed to.


My Lords, you will recall that during the Committee stage of the Bill I moved an Amendment designed to enable a local authority to exercise some control over a person's employment during the period of reaching the age of 16 and the actual time of leaving school. The noble Earl accepted the Amendment in principle and undertook to assist me in the drafting of a revised Amendment giving effect to this point. I am most grateful to the noble Earl for his help in the matter. This Amendment, if accepted, will bring this Bill into line with the provisions of the Education Act, 1962. I beg to move.

Amendment moved—

Page 19, line 35, at end insert— ("( ) For the purposes of this section, a person who has attained the age of sixteen shall be deemed not to have attained it if:—

  1. (a) he is deemed by virtue of section 9 of the Education Act, 1962, not to have attained that age; or
  2. (b) he is deemed by virtue of section 33 of the Education (Scotland) Act, 1962, to be of school age.")—(Lord Stonham.)


My Lords, on this point at Committee, as the noble Lord has mentioned, I assured him that I was quite happy in principle with the Amendment which he then moved. I merely wish to confirm that I entirely agree with the Amendment he has now proposed and I am grateful to the noble Lord for bringing this defect in the Bill to our attention.


My Lords, may I intervene before the noble Earl sits down to ask whether it might not be possible to put the wording in a slightly different way? It is a little confusing to say, … a person who has attained the age of sixteen shall be deemed not to have attained it if:—

  1. (a) he is deemed by virtue of section 9 of the Education Act, 1962, not to have attained that age…"

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

Clause 36 [Restriction on licences for performances by children under 13]:

EARL JELLICOE moved, in subsection (1), to leave out "it" and insert "(a) the licence". The noble Earl said: My Lords, I think it would be helpful if we could take this Amendment and No. 38 together. Taken together they would make Clause 36 (1) read as follows: A licence under the preceding section in respect of a person under 13 shall not be granted unless—

  1. (a) the licence is for acting and the application therefore is accompanied by a declaration that the part he is to act cannot be taken except by a person of his age; or
  2. (b) the nature of the performance and of his part in it is wholly or mainly musical."
The background to this Amendment is as follows. Your Lordships will recall that at present the minimum age of employment for young persons is, with one or two exceptions, 13. One exception is that children of 12 and over may be employed in entertainment, subject to safeguards but at present no children under 12 may be so employed. The Bateson Committee recommended in paragraph 111 of their Report that this absolute ban should be raised, since, to quote their words: … there is a strong case for the use of children to take parts written for child performers. The Government agree with this view; hence Clause 36. However, when we discussed this clause in Committee the noble Lord, Lord Stonham, criticised the clause as it was then drafted as being too restrictive. I gave him an assurance that if we could find a formula which would include the artistic performance and at the same time exclude troupe work, in the sense employed by the Bateson Committee in their Report, we should be glad to do so; and that is the origin of these two Amendments.

I think it might be easiest to explain the Amendments by citing the sort of performance which Clause 36, as amended, is intended to permit and the sort of performance it is intended to exclude. For example, we think it will permit a child to act in a play or in a part which only a child can take, such as those children who take the parts of Mamillius, in The Winter's Tale, which Ellen Terry, so Bateson tells us, played when she was seven; or of young Mac-Duff or the little girls in Toad of Toad Hall, to whom the noble Lord, Lord Stonham, referred. It would also include a child taking the speaking Hart in pantomime or a Christmas play. And, of course if we include the Wendys of this world we do not see how we can possibly exclude the child taking an individual part which only a child can act in television commercials. These parts would, we think, be included. It would include the child singer or singers—for example, Lough, or the Vienna Boys' Choir. It would equally permit a child singer to perform in opera, even if he were not taking a part which required a child qua actor. It would include the brilliant young instrumentalist, the young Menuhin, and the talented young conductor, the young Mozart—in so far as anybody conducted an orchestra when Mozart was a young man. But it would exclude a young dancer under 13 whether for troupe work or for the individual parts.

Finally, we must remember that there is a complete exemption for those taking part in certain exempted performances under subsection (3) of Clause 35. I think it was generally agreed in Committee that the clause as drafted was not entirely satisfactory, and in redrafting it we have proceeded as follows. We felt that a special case could be made for permitting boy singers to be employed under the age of 13 because the quality of a boy's voice cannot be produced by adults and the boy is therefore not doing something which could equally well he done by an adult. To this extent the new category eligible for licence is akin to the existing category of child actor. To that extent we are still, of course pursuing the pure machinery of Bateson. But if the employment of the boy singer is to be allowed, it is difficult to justify excluding the girl singer or the child instrumentalist. Those are the main reasons why we have drawn the clause as we have done now. I could expatiate longer on the point, but I hope that it will not be necessary. I beg to move.

Amendment moved— Page 19, line 37, leave out ("it") and insert ("(a) the licence").—(Earl Jellicoe.)


My Lords, again I am most grateful to the noble Earl for his work on this matter. He has succeeded in finding the formula which eluded him in our discussions in the Committee stage and, I think, has made a first-class job of it. I think these two Amendments will not only remove a lot of doubt but avoid a great deal of trouble and difficulty and evasion which would have occurred had the clause gone through in its original form. I think I am right in saying that every kind of performance by a child of which most people, generally speaking, would approve will now be permitted under the clause as amended—subject to licence of course—but excepting the child troupe work, the child dancer. I think that is a very satisfactory conclusion to have reached. I think I am also right in saying that I made one error in talking about the boy Lough and "Oh for the Wings of a Dove!". In any case, making a record for sale in the ordinary way is not a performance, and therefore would not have been regarded as necessitating a licence, so that it was outside the terms of this particular discussion. But I agree with the very satisfactory conclusion we have reached, and I congratulate the noble Earl upon it.

On Question, Amendment agreed to.


I beg to move this Amendment.

Amendment moved—

Page 19, line 40, at end insert ("or (b) the nature of the performance and of his part in it is wholly or mainly musical").—(Earl Jellicoe.)

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

4.35 p.m.

LORD STONHAM moved, after Clause 36, to insert the following new clause:

Employment of children for modelling and advertising purposes

"For paragraph (a) (i) of subsection (2) of section 18 of the principal Act there shall be substituted the following sub-paragraph:— '(i) the employment of children, before they attain the age at which employment ceases to be prohibited under paragraph (a) of the last foregoing subsection, for modelling or photographic purposes connected with children's fashion or by their parents or guardians in light agricultural or horticultural work;'".

The noble Lord said: My Lords, this new clause would be an enlargement of the position as it now stands. When I discussed something similar in Committee, the Government took the view, I believe, that I was seeking an enlarge- ment of what is well known to be the present position. The fact is, however, that the employments referred to in my Amendment are common: they are going on all the time and are virtually unregulated. The law as it stands at present is being disregarded, and it is very difficult to enforce its provisions. For example, quite a number of children are being employed as models to display children's clothing. Others are being employed as photographic models taking part in television films for advertising purposes, and in some cases—as those of us who have visited some of the studios which are used for this purpose know—in undesirable conditions.

I appreciate that there are undoubtedly legitimate trade interests which require that children should be employed for these purposes. If on the stage it is impossible in many cases for an adult to play a child's part, it is certainly still more impossible for an adult, or even a young person, to model children's clothing. We all appreciate that. Moreover, there is no real objection to that class of work being undertaken by children provided that it is carefully regulated. The purpose of this Amendment is to enable a local authortiy to make such by-laws as would effect the necessary control. In fact it would make modelling by children legal but subject to safeguards. At present it is not untrue to say that this work is illegal but goes on with no safeguards. Therefore, the Amendment is not an enlargement of this field of work; it is an acknowledgment that the work exists, that it is not undesirable work and that there is no need to prevent children from doing it—we cannot do it in any case—but that it should be regulated.

During the discussions on the Committee stage the noble Marquess, Lord Lothian, asked why the particular forms of employment which I had mentioned should be singled out for special treatment. I hope I have now made it clear that there is no reason at all, except that at present this kind of employment is widespread but uncontrolled. I feel strongly and so do a number of licensing authorities, that so far as children are concerned this illegal form of employment constitutes the greater part of the ways that they are employed. That is the argument for the Amendment. We say "Right, it is going on. Let us see that local authorities can make by-laws so that it is properly controlled, and then there will be no great harm in it because it will be properly regulated". I hope that on this occasion I have made my purpose clear and that the Amendment will commend itself to the Government. I beg to move.

Amendment moved— After Clause 36, insert the said new clause.—(Lord Stonham.)

4.40 p.m.


My Lords, I should like to support this Amendment. I know that child models are difficult to find. I have had a case of that, and also a case of people complaining bitterly that they have stuck to the rules but that other people have not. If there are safeguards, there seems to be little trouble in having younger children taking their proper part. I hope this point will be considered. We need the safeguards and with reputable firms, et cetera, they are there: the children are well chaperoned and the hours are not difficult. I think this would be of great advantage. I beg to support the Amendment.


My Lords, I think I can assure the noble Lord, Lord Stonham, straight away that he has made his point perfectly clear. Nevertheless, this is a difficult matter and I see great difficulties with this Amendment. May I point out the least of the difficulties straight away?—a purely technical one. I notice that his Amendment as drafted would extend only to England and Wales. Section 28 of the principal Scottish Act covers the same ground as Section 18 of the principal Act, and I should have thought that if we were to have a clause of this sort it should presumably cover Scotland as well as England and Wales.

Now to turn to matters of greater substance. I would, of course, agree that this is something which we all know is going on. My noble friend Lord Grenfell has pointed this out. A glance at any collection of advertisements for children's clothing it quite enough to establish that children under 13 commonly act as photographers' models. It is also common knowledge that children of that age sometimes act as mannequins in mannequin parades, and indeed on television. One can assume that many, if not most, of those children are employed, in the legal sense, to do so. In other words, as I think the noble Lord made clear, the law is not being observed, and is probably not being enforced by prosecution of the offenders.

I think there are in fact great difficulties here in enforcing the law. Employment as a child mannequin is likely to be casual and only occasional for those who take part in it; and there may be other features that complicate enforcement. But at least mannequin parades are held in public, so enforcement should be possible. Nevertheless, it is fairly clear that local authorities—on whom the main responsibility for enforcement must rest—do not, or do not all, try to enforce the law in this respect. This is not a criticism of local authorities; it is just a statement of fact.

Employment as a photographer's model is, again, casual and only occasional. Here there must be much greater difficulty in the way of enforcing the prohibition, or indeed, conditions on the grant of a licence. The employment takes place in a great many private studios or in private houses or even out of doors; and there is no way of telling from the finished photograph whether the child was employed, or whether the photograph was taken in this country, or whether the offence—if there was one—took place recently enough for a prosecution to be brought. For these and other reasons, I find it hard to see how the law here could be consistently enforced.

I would straightaway grant that it is bad to have on the Statute Book a law that cannot be fully enforced. I would equally suggest that it would be worse to enact another that was no better in that respect. As I see it, that might well be the result if we adopted the noble Lord's suggested Amendments. He proposes that local authorities, in making by-laws governing the employment of children, should be able to authorise, where they adjudge it fit, the employment of children under 13 as mannequins or models. This may be a perfectly harmless form of child employment, subject to the safeguards that those by-laws include.

As I see it, the proposal is open to three main objections. First, if it is right to allow children of that age to be so employed—I am not arguing whether it is right or wrong—it must be right everywhere and not merely in those areas where the local authority choose to make the appropriate by-law. Second, if it is impracticable to enforce a complete prohibition—and I suggest that it is impracticable, or at least extremely difficult—it would be even more difficult to enforce the conditions that are found in this sort of by-law: for example, a condition that a child may be employed only at specified times of the day or for a specified period. Third, conditions of the kind that are usually prescribed by these by-laws are, in the nature of things, useful only in relation to regular employment: they are seldom appropriate where the employer's need to employ children is sporadic and the child is employed casually, at irregular intervals and often by different employers.

For these reasons, though we are open to persuasion on the point, we are not so far persuaded that, if anything is to be done, this is the way to do it. Moreover, if modelling is to be allowed, why only for "purposes connected with children's fashion", as the noble Lord's Amendment reads? If for advertising clothes, why not for advertising other goods? Why not for advertising spring cars as well as Easter bonnets? Why should that family picnic scene with a new car on the South Downs with a child in the party be ruled out? And if a child may pose for a photographer, why not for a painter? And if this sort of employment is to be exempted, are there not others that ought also to be exempted? Those are some of the difficulties that I foresee here.

The noble Lord's real criticism, if I have got it right—and if I have I would concede that it has some validity—is that the present section, Section 18 of the principal Act, prohibits more than is needed, or, at least, what is prohibited is done and it is absurd to prohibit something which we know to be going on. I would concede that there is validity in that point.

But what is the alternative? I would suggest that there are formidable difficulties in the way of making the provisions fit all possible situations. What sorts of casual employment should be permitted and what prohibited? What do we mean by casual employment? And at what stage, for any particular child, does an accumulation of casual employment become regular employment? Any provision exempting new employments might have to be fairly elaborate, as will be seen from the pro- visions of the Bill dealing with employment in entertainment.

I think it is optimistic to suppose that we should ever be able to get a new provision that fitted exactly, and we must be sure that any change we make is a change for the better. For the reasons I have sought to outline. I do not consider that the noble Lord's suggestions would improve matters. We shall gladly consider any others that may be made but, on the information that I have before me at present—and I have of course noted what my noble friend Lord Grenfell said—it seems better here to leave well alone and trust to the good sense of the administering authorities. For those reasons, I cannot advise noble Lords to accept Lord Stonham's Amendment.


My Lords, I am most grateful to the noble Earl for that most careful reply, with a great deal of which I agree, but I think I could sum up his remarks by saying that the Government are aware that the present position is unsatisfactory. They do not know how to put it right. The only thing they are certain of is that my Amendment is no good. With all of those three provisions I would agree, but I am still most dissatisfied to leave it as it is.

The noble Earl said that we ought to leave the position to the good sense of the local authorities. But it is the leading licensing authorities who are so dissatisfied with the present position that they have asked me to help them by putting down this Amendment, in order that the Government could help them get over the difficulty. The licensing authorities feel that they have a great deal of good sense, but with the Act as it stands at the present time, as the noble Earl is aware, every kind of employment is prohibited except that they are authorised to permit licensed employment in light agricultural and horticultural work. At the stage when that Bill was passed we were presumably in the position where only certain classes of children in certain areas of the country undertook light agricultural and horticultural work, and therefore we had to authorise that. The farmers and horticulturists could not have got their potato harvest in without the help of school children, or something of that kind; therefore we had that authorisation in the Act.

We have now reached the position where there is an enormously enlarged scope of quite proper and legitimate employment for children, but which, nevertheless, is wholly and completely illegal. The Government, in effect, say "Yes, we know that, but we do not know how to get over it. Therefore, let us leave it to the good sense of the licensing authorities". The licensing authorities say, "We have got plenty of good sense, but no power." I think that that is a quite fair summary. The noble Earl complained that the Amendment as drafted would apply only to England and Wales and that I have left out Scotland entirely. With great temerity, and only because there was no native Scot on these Benches at the time, I have intervened in a number of Scottish matters, to the tolerant amusement of native Scots on the other side of the House. That is as far as I am going with Scotland. But if the noble Earl in his further consideration of this matter includes Scotland then I think everyone will approve.

My Lords, in a moment I am going to ask your leave to withdraw the Amendment because of its obvious deficiencies, but in my submission they are deficiencies only of drafting, not of principle. I think we must tackle the principle. The noble Earl said it is no good having a law which will not work, or which it is impossible to implement. He instanced the photographer's child model who might be photographed in a back room or on the Sussex Downs, in which case one would not know whether it was professional or otherwise. Some escape the net of every law, but I feel that it is possible, if not in your Lordships' House then certainly in another place, to find another way of getting over this difficulty, a difficulty which we see and want to cure.

The provision in the existing Act is wholly wrong and quite untenable because it shuts its eyes to a whole field of illegal employment. Every one of us sees evidence of its going on, day after day. Since this is a Bill to protect the interests of children, we ought to say: "This is desirable employment; it is perfectly all right provided that we ensure that children who are engaged in such employment are not being exploited, and provided we ensure that their health and working conditions are properly looked after." I think it should be possible for Parliament to find a form of words which achieves that objective. My Lords, I beg leave to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

4.55 p.m.

LORD LINDGREN moved, after Clause 39 to insert the following new clause

Central licensing authority

".—(1) A central licensing authority shall be appointed by the Secretary of State which shall be responsible for licensing

  1. (a) all children under 13 years of age;
  2. (b) all children coming from or going abroad; and
  3. (c) all children taking part in television broadcasts.

(2) The central licensing authority shall be responsible for supervising the application by the local authorities of the regulations governing the licensing of children between the ages of 13 and 16."

The noble Lord said: My Lords, I beg leave to move Amendment No. 40, and, if your Lordships will agree, I feel that No. 42 might well be discussed with it because it is associated with the same general principle. We discussed the general principle during the Committee stage. I make no apology for returning to it again on the Report stage because, to me and to my colleagues, it is quite an important point.

Part II of the Bill is largely based on the Bateson Report, which was published in August, 1950. Now, some twelve years afterwards, the conditions in which the recommendations of the Bateson Committee were made in regard to the entertainment world have been very largely altered by the development of television—particularly commercial television and the employment of children in that field. The Bateson Committee made a recommendation, which I entirely support, that there should be one central licensing committee covering the employment in the entertainment world of children in this country as well as children wanting to go abroad and those abroad wanting to come into this country for employment.

In brief, the recommendation suggested that there should be a simple administrative system in place of the present rather complicated arrangement in which three Government Departments, and Bow Street Magistrates' Court, are involved. The recommendation by the Bateson Committee, and the general principle of this Amendment, is supported by the theatrical managers and also by the trade union movement. In regard to Amendment No. 42, my attention has been called to the fact that reference to "police magistrates" might lead one to believe that police and magistrates are allies against the citizen. In fact, of course, this was a reference to the functions performed by Bow Street Magistrates' Court which now licenses children in this country who wish to go abroad.

Amendment moved— After Clause 39, insert the said clause.—(Lord Lindgren.)


My Lords, we discussed this matter during Committee, when I gave my reasons at some length for resisting this Amendment. I naturally have been interested to hear a fuller exposition of it this afternoon, but, having heard it, I am still unable to recommend that your Lordships should accept the Amendment. It is true, as the noble Lord, Lord Lindgren, said, that the Bateson Committee some twelve years ago recommended something along these lines. They felt that a central licensing authority in all cases would be too cumbersome. Therefore, they recommended something not far from what the noble Lord is now suggesting.

As he has observed, their recommendation for a central authority to deal with the groups mentioned in his Amendment was based on their view that generally more uniform administration was required here, and that these particular groups presented particular problems. I still find it hard myself to see how uniformity would be improved or administration as a whole made more effective by adding, for special categories of children, a new body to the existing licensing authorities who would continue to deal with the other categories. We must remember, I think, that a central licensing body would not be in a position to carry out its responsibilities alone. As the Bateson Committee themselves recognised in paragraph 255 of their Report, from which I quote: a licence would be granted centrally only after consultation with the local licensing authority of the area in which the child lives. The Bateson Committee also recognised that the authority of the area in which the performance in question was going to be held must be responsible for the enforcement, and also must have power to vary the conditions attached to the licence when it is granted. I think that Bateson were perfectly right here, and that if such a central licensing authority were established it would necessarily have to work in some such way. I do not think anything the noble Lord, Lord Lindgren, has said has contradicted that. But in these circumstances I find it hard to see what would really be left for the central authority to do. Decisions would have to be based on the views of the local authorities, and in that event it seems much better to us that they should have full responsibility in the first place to issue, to enforce and to vary, if necessary, the licence.

May I now turn briefly to the three groups singled out for special centralised attention in subsection (1) of the proposed new clause? First, there are the children under 13 years old. I still cannot sec why we need a different machinery for children under 13 from that for children betwen 13 and 16. As I have just said, at least one local authority would probably have to be consulted by the central licensing body in every event. In these circumstances it surely is better to devolve full responsibility on them straight away, with their full knowledge of local circumstances and of local opinion. If, for example, a brilliant young cellist wishes to present a series of concerts in the Free Trade Hall at Manchester, it seems to me much better, much less cumbersome, quicker and more efficient—in short, more sensible—for the right person in Manchester (and this is on the assumption that the young cellist in question lives in Manchester and is going to give the performance in Manchester) to decide the conditions of a licence rather than the right person—however right—in Whitehall.

Then there is the second category, the children appearing on television. The reason why Bateson, as I understand it, recommended central licensing for them was that in 1950 television was largely experimental. This is hardly the case now. Again, television is to a very large extent regionalised. If a child is to appear or to be auditioned in that new principality to the North—Granadaland—it would seem both irksome and unnecessary for permission to be obtained in Whitehall. Furthermore, we are not recommending, and noble Lords are not recommending—and I think they are quite right not to do so—central licensing for films and for sound broadcasting. That was not recommended by Bateson. But if we are not recommending it for those categories, what real justification is there for recommending it for television?

Thirdly, there are the children coming from or going abroad. So far as children going abroad are concerned, there is already a degree of centralisation under the system by which licences are issued separately by the Bow Street Magistrate. As I have said before, this system seems to work perfectly well, and as at present advised I cart see no real reason to change it. As for children coming to this country from abroad, they are very few in number—something like 40 a year. I understand that the numbers going abroad are only something like 60 a year, and a central licensing authority for them alone would hardly be justified.

Then we come to subsection (2) of the proposed new clause. This new clause suggests that its movers think that local licensing authorities, in exercising the powers vested in them by law, need to be controlled or supervised in some way by the proposed central licensing authority. As I explained during Committee, the Government do not accept this. There may in our view be a case for central licensing; there is certainly in our view a case for local licensing; but I would suggest that there is really no case at all for the hybrid system proposed by noble Lords, which, as I see it, falls between the two stools. I recognise that perhaps I do them an injustice, and that at least for some noble Lords opposite a combination of centralisation and licensing may be almost irresistible. But I would suggest to the House as a whole that this Amendment should be resisted.


My Lords, I should like to thank the noble Earl for his very detailed reply. I do not agree with him, particularly as I think there is a special case for youngsters under 13 years of age. There is, of course, the question of the Ministry of Education, the Home Office and the Ministry of Labour being involved, and the central licensing authority could be associated with just one Government Department rather than with three. But in view of the detailed study which the noble Earl and his Department have obviously given to the Amendment, I beg leave to withdraw it.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 40 [Licences for children and young persons performing abroad]:


My Lords, this is a purely drafting Amendment. I beg to move.

Amendment moved— Page 22, line 12, after ("section)") insert ("and section 26 of that Act (which imposes penalties for contraventions)").—(Earl Jellicoe.)

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

5.8 p.m.

LORD STONHAM moved, after Clause 45, to insert the following new clause:

Retrospective contribution orders

".—(1) Where a child or young person has been committed to the care of a lit person or to an approved school or has been received into the care of a local authority under the provisions of section 1 of the Children Act, 1948, an application for a contribution order in respect of him may be made notwithstanding that the parent has ceased to be liable to make contributions in respect of him, and in such case, the provisions of the principal Act relating to contribution orders shall apply as if the application had been made when the parent was so liable.

(2) Where an application for a contribution order is made to a court of summary jurisdiction after a child or young person is committed to the care of a fit person or to an approved school, or is received into the care of a local authority under the provisions of section 1 of the Children Act, 1948, the Court hearing the application may, if it thinks fit, direct that any order for weekly payments shall have effect from a date not earlier than the date when the child or young person was so committed or received into care but in no case prior to a date six months before the first hearing of the application."

The noble Lord said: My Lords, this is a new clause of particular concern and interest to local authorities, and I would apologise that on this Amendment I shall have to go into the matter in some little detail. The position, as your Lordships will know, is that under the Children and Young Persons Act, 1933, and the Children Act, 1948, the father and the mother of a child or young person committed to the care of a fit person or to an approved school, or received into care, is liable to make contributions in respect of their child. Under the 1933 Act the juvenile magistrates' court at the time of the child's committal, or any magistrates' court for the area of the parents' residence, may subsequently make contribution orders for the payment of weekly sums in accordance with the parents' means. Contribution orders are enforceable as affiliation orders, and this appears to indicate that they are effective only from the date on which they are made.

Most children's authorities, of course, try to secure parents' contributions under voluntary contribution arrangements, and they do not forthwith apply for contribution orders unless parents have said pretty firmly and categorically, "I am not going to pay". Most of these parents do not use that kind of language, but they manage to convey their views on the subject. But the normal procedure is to obtain from a liable parent details of income or other family circumstances; to assess provisionally in accordance with a scale; to verify earnings with employers—because parents seem to have a habit of understating their earnings in these cases—and to confirm or amend the assessment. With the co-operation of the parent, this process takes only about two or three weeks, and unless by that time the parent has said that he will not pay, he must be given a few weeks more to start paying voluntarily.

It is therefore, perhaps, a total of six weeks or more before a decision can be taken to apply to a court for a contribution order. Then, of course, in the case of many petty sessions, certainly London, it is probably four weeks more before the case can be heard; and very often it can be delayed still further if the parent is unco-operative, because he can delay it by non-attendance. It is seldom, therefore, adding all that up, that a contribution order can be secured by a local authority in less than three months. Of course, by that time, in most cases, fortunately, the child has been to the approved school and has come home again, because the period will be for just about two months.

Now there are various devices whereby, theoretically at least, a local authority can improve this situation. First of all, where children are committed to the care of the local authority by juvenile courts application for a contribution order may be made at the same hearing, but this is frequently not feasible as the father, who is usually the person who has to contri- bute, is not at the court at the time. The local authority is seldom able to anticipate the court's decision or to obtain beforehand the necessary information as to means and to verify it. So, generally speaking, they cannot get a contribution order at the time of the committal of the child. Then, it is possible for local authorities to enter into stamped agreements with the parents which can be enforced in county courts, but this procedure, naturally, is always frustrated by unco-operative parents—and they are the very ones in respect of whom a contribution order has to be made. They simply refuse to sign; so, of course, stamped agreements are not therefore a satisfactory answer to the problem.

Despite this Amendment, local authorities consider that the policy of encouraging parents to contribute voluntarily is the only practicable one in view of staff resources and court facilities. It is found in practice that over half the parents who have been adjudged capable of contributing will not do so without the sanction of a court order—in other words, "I can pay for little Johnnie, but I am not going to unless you make me". A particular difficulty arises concerning children who are received into care for very short periods, perhaps during the illness of a parent, and these short-stay cases comprise half of all the cases of children received into care in this way. As I think I have said before, experience shows that over half the children leave the local authority's care before there is any chance of getting a contribution order.

Of course, many parents pay willingly and without a contribution order, and it is felt that it is unfair to them and to the other ratepayers if parents who can pay financially (if they cannot, no order is made) nevertheless evade this obligation by various means. Over one single year nearly £20,000 had to be written off by the L.C.C. for no other reason but that parents who had been assessed to pay did not pay and refused to pay voluntarily—and afterwards, of course, it was impossible to recover. If it may be considered undesirable that, as my Amendment suggests, payments should be ordered after the children have returned home, it is as well to note that under existing arrangements the majority of parents are in arrears of court order payments, and that it is normal practice for these arrears to be discharged after the actual liability has ceased. I submit that, if enforcement action becomes necessary, it can be safely left to the child care authority or to the magistrates, as they do now, to see that arrears are discharged at a rate which places no undue burden on the family.

My Lords, that is the case for this Amendment. I would point out that a Working Party of officers from local authority associations first recommended in 1954 legislation along the same lines as I am suggesting in this Amendment, and that the Ingleby Committee, in paragraphs 379 and 380 of their Report, arrived at the same conclusions. They pointed out that a precedent exists under the National Assistance Act for exactly the same kind of thing that my Amendment is designed to provide. I would also mention that some week or so after my Amendment was tabled I received a letter from the Secretary of the Association of Municipal Corporations. He referred to the Amendment and to the fact that it would have the effect of implementing the recommendations of paragraphs 379 and 380 of the Ingleby Committee Report, and he said this: This Association, which includes in its membership all the county boroughs in England and Wales, fully supports the new clause which you are to move. So I really can say that the whole body of responsible local authority opinion throughout England and Wales supports this Amendment; that it is a recommendation of the Ingleby Committee, which went into the question very carefully; that it has been a recommendation by child officers who have thoroughly investigated it for the last nine years; and that the opportunity has now come to deal with it in this Bill.

Perhaps it would appear superficially that I am asking for money to be ground out of poor people by local authorities. Nothing of the kind. I am asking that local authorities be given reasonable power to ensure that people who, by definition, can afford to make a contribution to their children's support are made to do so if they will not do so voluntarily. I think, therefore, that at least in principle this long Amendment, which in detail may not wholly commend itself to the noble Earl, should be acceptable to the Government. I beg to move.

Amendment moved— After Clause 45, insert the said new clause. —(Lord Stonham.)


My Lords, I should like to say a word in support of this Amendment which has been so admirably and fully explained by my noble friend Lord Stonham. As he mentioned, this Amendment has the support of the Association of Municipal Corporations and, while it might seem on the face of it to be of very little importance, it is, from an administrative point of view, of very great importance to local authorities who will be responsible under the Bill when it becomes an Act. This Bill will have failed in its purpose if more children are not received into care of local authorities. I think everyone will agree, as Lord Stonham has quite rightly said, that parents who can reasonably afford to make some contribution towards the care and upkeep of their children should do so.

Speaking out of my own experience, not in connection with orders so far as children are concerned but in another branch of the service, I can support what my noble friend Lord Stonham has said, that local authorities always try to work by consent. They feel it far better to get the agreement of a parent or parents to any order made as that helps to maintain good will between parent and local authority. But there are always a number of people who will not pay. I regret to say it, but I know from my own experience that there are parents who will seek to avoid making any contribution to the cost of the care of their children. I could tell of many of the shifts and evasive actions which have been taken by parents.

Unless some administrative provision of this kind is given to local authorities, they will lose a considerable sum of money every year—money which ought not to be lost by them—because of the difficulties which my noble friend has explained, in getting the details necessary for making an order, and also because of the action taken by the parents. Therefore, it seems to me that some elbow room, if I may put it that way, some administrative elbow room, should be given to the local authorities as proposed in this Amendment. Unless they are to lose a lot of money, they will have to make an assessment at the earliest possible moment, perhaps without the relevant information before them, and then apply to the courts for a justices' order to be made. If that procedure is forced on to the local authority it will impose a very heavy load of work on the official staff, the children's welfare department, and, in addition, will unnecessarily clutter up the courts. As I know, and as my noble friend Lord Stonham has said, the local authority goes to court for a justices' order only in the last resort: rather do they administer the law with a desire to work by consent. I think it is very unfair, and quite wrong, that the local ratepayers should be penalised by the loss of substantial sums which ought to flow into their treasury, substantial sums which should be contributed by a number of parents, simply because the local authorities have not the appropriate means of dealing with these people. I hope that, even if this Amendment, backed as it is by people in the field who know the problems and the difficulties, and who also know what, I regret to say, human nature is to some degree, is not acceptable, the noble Earl will be able to give us some assurance that he will help us to find some solution to this very difficult problem.

5.27 p.m.


My Lords, I am grateful both to the noble Lord, Lord Stonham, and to the noble Lord, Lord Burden, for their lucid exposition of the purposes of this Amendment. I should like to make two points plain straight away. First, I appreciate the arguments in favour of the proposals as set forward in the Ingleby Committee Report and as deployed, very lucidly, by both noble Lords. Second, I recognise the importance of this matter. I know from my own contacts with the children's departments of local authorities that keeping parents up to the mark with their contributions can be a very troublesome business for them.

I was, if I may say so parenthetically, impressed by that sum of £20,000 which the noble Lord, Lord Stonham mentioned. At the same time, I think it only right that we should look at both sides of the coin here. There are, I think, arguments on the other side not stated in the Ingleby Committee Report which perhaps were not brought to their notice. Thus, this proposal might remove an incentive to the prompt institution of proceedings for a contribution order in a case where a local authority should bring such proceedings early, and where it might be particularly undesirable that the parents concerned should get behind with their contributions. It could remove an incentive there. Again, there are the possible practical results.


My Lords, may I interrupt the noble Earl for a moment? I hope the noble Earl appreciates that no local authority will take proceedings for a contribution order until the parents have made it quite apparent that they will not pay. It is the parents' fault if they get behind.


My Lords, my point was that if a local authority knows it has this stand-by retrospective power (we are talking about this hypothetical local authority, which we know never exists—the not-so-good local authority) it may not be as quick in exhausting both the voluntary method and then making the contributions order as it might be if it did not have this retrospective power. That was my point.

May I just mention a couple of possible practical difficulties, too? A parent saddled with sizeable arrears from the start might be less likely to keep up his current payments. In any event, a contribution order must take account of a parent's arrears and income. Since the cost of keeping a child in a children's home runs at about £10 a week, the parent's weekly contribution is hardly ever likely to meet the current cost of maintaining that child. Any addition to cover liabilities already incurred, or held to be incurred, by parents may thus be more notional than real; and once the arrears are paid off the amount the parent continues to pay towards current costs may be less in the last resort than if the weekly sum originally fixed by the court had not had to be divided between current payments and arrears. I would suggest, therefore, that all the arguments may not point the same way.

I personally incline to the view that the pros may have it in favour of this Amendment. But I think this is a question which requires more consideration than your Lordships have yet been able to give it. The Government would like to give it that consideration. Meanwhile, I do not think I could advise noble Lords to accept this new clause in the Bill in its present form. This is for two main reasons. In the first place, we are inclined to feel that, if we are to have retrospection here, the period of six months specified in subsection (2) would be better reduced to three months. The six-months period admittedly found favour with the Ingleby Committee. Nevertheless, we feel that three months would allow a local authority reasonable time in which to press the parent and test his willingness to fulfil a voluntary agreement. Secondly, there is a technical difficulty in the clause. It does not specifically exclude a contribution order made so as to require a child aged 16 or over to contribute to his own maintenance, if engaged in full-time remunerative work, a case in which the Ingleby Committee's recommendation, I think, was not meant to apply.

Having ventilated what I would grant is a point which certainly merits closer examination, I trust that the noble Lord will be content with ray assurance and not press his Amendment at this stage.


My Lords, the noble Earl is aware that I never hesitate to agree with him if he has pointed out difficulties in an Amendment that I have moved, and I agree with him on the two points he made at the end of his speech. I agree that three months would be better than six—indeed, that was the actual time I myself gave as the normal time these things should take. Secondly, the omission with regard to a young person who is in full-time employment and earning might well be repaired. Having said that, however, I must add that this is the first time on this Report stage, on either clay, in which the noble Earl's main arguments against an Amendment seem to cut no ice or hold no water, whichever is the appropriate metaphor—and I think that they did not convince him either. In those circumstances, if he could devise a better Amendment, incorporating the two points he mentioned, I think that it would meet with the satisfaction of all, with the possible exception of those parents who do not want to pay anyway; and, of course, it is no part of our object to satisfy them. With that, I ask leave to withdraw my Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 60 [Citation, construction, commencement and extent]:


My Lords, this Amendment and the next are both technical matters of drafting. I beg to move.

Amendment moved— Page 30, line 39, leave out first ("and").—(Earl Jellicoe.)

On Question, Amendment agreed to.


My Lords, I beg to move this Amendment.

Amendment moved— Page 30, line 39, at end insert ("and so much of Schedule 5 as relates to section 25 of the principal Act").—(Earl Jellicoe.)

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

Schedule 3 [Minor and Consequential Amendments]:

5.37 p.m.

EARL JELLICOE moved in paragraph 14 (1) to leave out from "words" (where that word occurs a first time) to the end of the sub-paragraph, and insert: 'if it thinks fit' there shall be substituted the words and, if it is not a juvenile court, shall, unless satisfied that it would he undesirable to do so'".

The noble Earl said: My Lords, may I first remind your Lordships of the background to this Amendment? At present, Section 56 (1) of the principal Act provides that, where a child under 17 is found guilty of an offence other than homicide by a court other than a juvenile court, that court "may, if it thinks fit" (as the phrase goes) remit the case to a juvenile court. That court then decides how the offender is to be dealt with. As it stands, paragraph 14 (1) of Schedule 3 to the Bill amends that provision by deleting the words "if it thinks fit". The intention here was to indicate that remittal is to be the normal course, as the Ingleby Committee recommended in paragraph 176 of their Report.

The Amendment which I am now moving would go further and, in relation to courts other than juvenile courts, substitute for the words "may, if it thinks fit" the words "shall, unless satisfied that it would be undesirable to do so". Thus the opening words of Section 56 (1) of the principal Act, as amended, would read as follows:— Any court by or before which a child or young person is found guilty of an offence other than homicide may and, if it is not a juvenile court, shall, unless satisfied that it would be undesirable to do so, remit the case to a juvenile court ….

In Committee, the noble Baroness moved a new clause, which would have made it obligatory for a court other than a juvenile court to remit the case of a juvenile offender to a juvenile court. When I pointed out the objections to this, she suggested that we might consider—and I quote her words from column 467 [Vol. 245 (No. 20)] of Hansardwhether there is any possibility of spelling out the exceptions or, if not, making it perfectly clear that the exceptions must be thoroughly exceptional".

We examined the first alternative very carefully. However, we found no practicable way of specifying in the Statute all the circumstances in which it would be right for a court other than a juvenile court to deal with a juvenile offender itself.

One of the factors that the court might well have to weigh is how long the child would have to wait for the next sitting of the juvenile court to which his case would be remitted. But whether the disadvantages of delay would outweigh the advantages of remittal would depend not only on the length of the interval but on other factors such as the seriousness of the offence, the age of the child, and possibly quite fortuitous and exceptional matters like the imminent emigration of the family to New Zealand or the impending admission of the child to hospital to have his tonsils out. To specify some categories of exceptions would exclude other combinations of circumstances that we really cannot foresee in advance.

The Government have therefore conic back to the noble Baroness's other alternative. We have tried to find a form of words that will indicate more clearly than those at present in the Bill that remittal is to be the normal course and that a court is to refrain from it only for some positive reason. Like the noble Baroness, Lady Wootton of Abinger, we see no magic quality in the phrase "special reasons". As she herself said during Committee, such reasons can be "very slippery". As we see it, the courts will have ultimately to decide which cases should be treated exceptionally and which not. All that it really seems practicable to do in the Statute is to spell out what is to be the rule and what the exception. That, I submit, this Amendment does pretty plainly. I beg to move.

Amendment moved— Page 39, line 5, leave out from ("words") to end of line 7 and insert the said new words.—(Earl Jellicoe.)

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

LORD STONHAM moved, in paragraph 16, in the proposed new subsection (2B), after "person" to insert: "of or over the age of sixteen". The noble Lord said: My Lords, paragraph 16 of Schedule 3, which I desire to amend in the manner suggested, really contains an Amendment which forms a new subsection of Section 62 of the Children and Young Persons Act, 1933, which states that: Any young person brought before the court as being in need of care and protection… The new subsection which is proposed to this Schedule would prohibit a married person of any age, however young, from being brought before, or dealt with by, a juvenile court under the present provisions of Section 62 of that Act. I desire to insert the words: of or over the age of sixteen". It would, therefore, read: A person of or over the age of sixteen who is, or has been, married, shall not be brought before, or dealt with by, a juvenile court under this section". The provision, as it stands without my Amendment, would operate against the interests of quite a number of young girls, especially those who are, or have been, married according to the laws of other countries when very young. For example, to quote an actual case, quite recently the attention of a children's officer of a local authority was drawn to the case of a girl from Pakistan who was thirteen years of age and had come to this country in order to join her husband. She was found to be living under the most deplorable conditions, and the local authority, if they had been able to do so, would have brought her before the juvenile court as being in need of care and protection. But with this provision, since this girl of thirteen was a married woman and not a child, they could not help her. That is an actual example, and noble Lords must be aware that this kind of case does, and will, crop up. My Amendment is designed to restrict the operation of this new subsection to married people who are sixteen years or over; and those who are under sixteen, if they are still in need of care and protection in the manner I have indicated, should not be denied it. I hope that this Amendment will commend itself to your Lordships. I beg to move.

Amendment moved— Page 39, line 27, after ("person") insert the said words.—(Lord Stonham.)


My Lords, I agree with the noble Lord that there are some girls in this country under sixteen years of age (I think the numbers must be quite small) who may, under foreign law, have contracted perfectly valid marriages. I quite take the point that marriage at an age not permitted by our law ought not to stand in the way of local authorities affording such young girls the care and protection which they obviously may need. I am grateful to the noble Lord for pointing out the particular example which he did, as I think it helps us to visualise the sort of difficulty with which local authorities have been faced. I might mention that in paragraph 92 of their Report the Ingleby Committee referred to a girl of sixteen who contracts a valid marriage". I think this shows that the Committee had only girls of that age, and not younger girls, in mind. For these reasons, and those which the noble Lord has given, I am glad to accept this Amendment.

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

5.48 p.m.

LORD STONHAM moved, in paragraph 26, in the proposed new subparagraph (3), to leave out "in their area who is out under supervision from that school" and to insert: in or from that school who is likely to be or is out under supervision in that local authority's area".

The noble Lord said: My Lords, the aim of this Amendment is to make sure that paragraph 26 of Schedule 3 prescribes duties which conform to the accepted practice about after-care of approved school children. In my submission, the Schedule as now worded fails to do that. The Amendment implements the Ingleby Committee's recommendation No. 111: that children's authorities should be required, if requested to do so by approved school managers, to act as after-care agents to approved-school children. This is now, of course, general practice. The point was made in paragraph 491 of the Ingleby Report that after-care duties begin when the child enters an approved school, and that the after-care agent should be appointed as soon as possible after the child is admitted. Indeed, preparations for release from an approved school begin quite soon after admission, and, therefore, it is essential that the after-care agent should make early contact with the child's family, or the place to which the boy or girl is expected to be released, and keep in close touch with the parents, if the child has parents, and even to make various arrangements, including periods of leave, before the eventual release of the boy or girl.

A Home Office Memorandum issued to approved schools in 1955 emphasised the importance of this preparatory after-care work. But despite this Memorandum, the paragraph requires local authorities to undertake after-care duties, if so requested, in relation to a person who is out under supervision from the approved school, which means after he has been released. It could be interpreted as not including the most important preparatory stages of after-care, prior to actual release. Such an interpretation would be embarrassing to local authorities, because it would be contrary to the present generally accepted practice. It has been stated by many people that after-care of adults who go to prison should begin with the welfare officer in prison on the day the man starts his sentence. If that is true of adults—and I think it is—it is even more true of children that their successful rehabilitation after they have served their term in the approved school should start on the very day or as soon as possible after they get the first shock of going into an approved school. Therefore, I am submitting this Amendment so as to make it clear beyond any shadow of doubt that the duty of local authorities to act as after-care agents, including the duty to employ staff for that purpose, includes the time that the child is in the approved school and is not restricted, as the present wording would have it, to the time when he is under supervision. Again, I hope that the point will commend itself to the Government. I beg to move.

Amendment moved— Page 40, line 29, leave out from ("person") to ("or") in line 30, and insert the said new words.—(Lord Stonham.)


My Lords, I have only three brief points to make in reply to the noble Lord. The first is to assure him that we recognise the great importance of satisfactory after-care arrangements in this as in other spheres. That was why paragraph 26 of Schedule 3 to the Bill follows the Ingleby Committee in placing a clear duty on local authorities to undertake, on the Manager's request, the after-care of an approved school child. My second point is that it is at least arguable that a duty to undertake after-care would include this additional duty to do the necessary preparatory work which is provided for in the noble Lord's Amendment. However, we have been in consultation with the local authority associations on the question whether the point required clarification. Their replies suggest that it would be safer to put the point beyond doubt, and we propose to discuss with them and with the London County Council the form the Amendment should take. I should mention that the drafting, as we see it at present, presents some difficulty, since it is not always possible to say at the beginning of a child's stay in an approved school—the very time when the managers will want to make their request to a local authority—where he is likely to go on release.

This brings me to my third and final point. Given this sort of drafting problem we should like a little time to consider the precise form the Amendment might take. I trust that the noble Lord will at this stage be content with my assurance that at a later stage of this Bill, after we have had time for further consultation, we shall be very willing to move an Amendment along the lines of that which we have just been discussing.


My Lords, I am most happy to accept the noble Earl's assurance. I gather that he has come to the conclusion that clarification or added words are necessary to put the point beyond doubt. He is not satisfied that the words I suggest are necessarily the right ones, but I shall be perfectly satisfied, if he will consult the local authorities in this matter, to leave it to him to then decide the form of words which will meet the point.

As this is the last of a large number of Amendments I have had to move, I should like to thank the noble Earl and his noble friend for the very great care with which they have considered all our arguments and also their unfailing courtesy. In my experience this Bill, at least in its Report stage, is unique, in that I cannot recall one Amendment that has been moved from these Benches which the noble Earl or his noble friend have not either accepted or given an assurance about which has been almost equal to acceptance. For that I and my noble friends are extremely grateful. I ask leave to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.


My Lords, first may I say how grateful I am to the noble Lord for what he has just said. I hope he was wrong in his final remarks, otherwise I fear my reputation may not be unblemished elsewhere. As regards this Amendment, I should perhaps explain that Section 43 (1) of the Children Act, 1948, lays down the functions of the Secretary of State on which he is, in England and Wales, to be advised by the Advisory Council on Child Care. They include his functions under that Act and under Parts IV and V of the Act of 1933. In this Bill, Clause 1 has some affinities with the Act of 1948 and Clauses 11 and 13 are related to the subject matter of Part IV of the principal Act. We therefore think it right that the functions of the Secretary of State under these clauses should be brought within the Advisory Council's terms of reference. That is the effect of this Amendment. I beg to move.

Amendment moved—

Page 43, line 27, at end insert— ("41. In section 43 (1) after the words 'the Children and Young Persons Act 1933' there shall he inserted the words 'sections 1, 11 and 13 of the Children and Young Persons Act 1963'.").—(Earl Jellicoe.)

On Question, Amendment agreed to.


My Lords, this Amendment is purely a matter of drafting. I beg to move.

Amendment moved—

Page 43, line 48, at end insert— ("46. In section 75 (2), for the words from including an order' to '1933' there shall he substituted the words 'including detention in pursuance of a provision made by virtue of section 9 of the Children and Young Persons Act 1963'.").—(Earl Jellicoe.)

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

Schedule 5 [Enactments Repealed]:


My Lords, this Amendment is consequential to Amendment No. 44.

Amendment moved— Page 46, leave out lines 18 and 19.—(Earl Jellicoe.)

On Question, Amendment agreed to.


My Lords, as this Amendment is linked with Amendments Nos. 52, 53 and 54, I suggest that we might consider them together. These are drafting Amendments to the provisions of the Criminal Justice Acts of 1948 and 1961 about attendance centres. They repeal words which are no longer needed since your Lordships accepted the Amendment raising the minimum age of criminal responsibility to 10. I beg to move.

Amendment moved—

Page 47, line:39, column 3, at beginning insert—

("In section 19 (1), the words 'not less than ten but'.
In section 48 (2), the words 'of not less than ten but'.")
—(Earl Jellicoe.)

On Question, Amendment agreed to.


My Lords, this is again a consequential drafting Amendment. I beg to move.

Amendment moved—

Page 48, line 18, column 3, at end insert— ("In section 70, in subsection (2), the words from 'or that' to 'control him'.").—(Earl Jellicoe.)

On Question, Amendment agreed to.


My Lords, I beg to move this Amendment formally.

Amendment moved— Page 48, line 19, column 3, at beginning insert ("In section 10, subsection (1)").—(Earl Jellicoe.)

On Question, Amendment agreed to.


My Lords, I move this Amendment formally. I beg to move.

Amendment moved— Page 48, line 23, leave out ("and").—(Earl Jellicoe.)

On Question, Amendment agreed to.


My Lords, this is the last Amendment, which I also move formally.

Amendment moved— Page 48, line 27, at end insert ("and the entry relating to section 19 of the Criminal Justice Act, 1948, the words from 'and for' to the end of the entry; and the entry relating to section 48 of the Criminal Justice Act. 1948").—(Earl Jellicoe.)

On Question, Amendment agreed to.