HL Deb 01 July 1981 vol 422 c256

7 Clause 11, pages 5, line 21, at end insert— ("(2A) The court shall not deal with the offender by making an order under section 19 of the Criminal Justice Act 1948 (an attendance centre order) if it appears to the court, after considering any available evidence, that he is under 17 years of age.").

The Lord Advocate (Lord Mackay of Clashfern)

My Lords, I beg to move that the House do agree with the Commons in their Amendment No. 7. This was a Government amendment in another place. It ensures that the only penalty for juveniles who commit contempt in the face of a magistrates' court is a fine. Magistrates' courts, including juvenile courts, have at present no powers to punish for contempt, and the Government take the view that a power to fine is adequate to deal with children aged 16 and under who misbehave in court.

Moved, That this House doth agree with the Commons in the said amendment.—(Lord Mackay of Clashfern.)

Lord Mishcon

My Lords, for the purposes of clarification I wonder whether the noble and learned Lord the Lord Advocate could explain to us the reason why it is thought unsuitable that a youngster under the age of 17, when behaving in a manner which is contemptuous of the court, should have an attendance centre order made against him but must have a fine? One would have thought that the attendance centre order might have taught him some respect for the court, whereas a fine is so often paid by a parent and may not have the same salutary effect.

Lord Mackay of Clashfern

My Lords, the matter is one of judgment. The Government feel that the likelihood is that a young person who commits an offence in court under this clause will possibly be distressed and bewildered. The best method of dealing with that, it seems to us, is by an immediate penalty such as the imposition of a fine. An attendance centre order, on the other hand, is by its nature a delayed and protracted penalty which involves arranging for the juvenile to attend the centre for a few hours on alternate Saturdays over a period of up to six months. It seemed to the Government that it was not wise to make that an appropriate punishment for contempt of court.

On Question, Motion agreed to.