HC Deb 14 December 1939 vol 355 cc1289-90W
Mr. Poole

asked the Home Secretary whether he will exercise his discretion in the case of a 15-year-old boy, found guilty of arson at the recent Birmingham assizes; and, in view of the police evidence as to his low physical and mental health due to the extreme poverty of his unbringing, cause the remission of that part of the sentence which relates to the 12 strokes of the birch?

Sir J. Anderson

I understand that when informing the court of the boy's character and antecedents, the police quoted a report of the headmaster of his school which included a statement to the effect that his impression was that the boy lacked vitality, physically and mentally, because of the poverty of his home, but the headmaster, in the same report, also expressed the opinion that he was a normally healthy boy. Under the arrangements made for carrying out the sentence of the court, a medical officer will be present and will satisfy himself, before the sentence is carried out, that there is no medical reason against the infliction of the punishment ordered by the Court. I have been unable to find grounds which would justify my recommending any interference with the sentence which the court thought it necessary to impose.