HC Deb 10 October 1940 vol 365 cc484-5W
Sir F. Sanderson

asked the Home Secretary whether he is aware that there have been a number of cases where goods have been stolen and premises ransacked of householders who have been bombed with their houses destroyed, resulting in the loss of all they possess, and when such cases have come before the court inadequate sentences and fines have been imposed in most cases; and will he take steps to make such an offence a most serious one and punishable by five years or more penal servitude?

Mr. Peake

To inflict on people whose homes or other premises have been damaged by enemy action additional injury by robbing them of goods which are left exposed as a result of such damage is a most despicable form of crime. Such goods are entitled to a special measure of public protection, and a stern view must be taken of such thefts. A Defence Regulation was made in July last authorising the imposition of the gravest penalties, including the death penalty, on persons convicted on indictment of such offences, and another Defence Regulation is about to be made increasing from three months to twelve months the sentences of imprisonment which can be imposed by courts of summary jurisdiction. Amongst the cases which come before the courts are some where special considerations arise, such as cases of pilfering by children, and my right hon. Friend has no information to support the suggestion that, generally speaking, the sentences imposed have been inadequate; but he is proposing to circulate to magistrates copies of this reply.

Sir L. Lyle

asked the Home Secretary whether he will consider advising all magistrates in future to impose sentence of imprisonment instead of a fine, in all cases of looting private houses damaged in air raids?

Mr. Morrison

I would refer my hon. Friend to the reply given to a Question on this subject by the hon. Member for Ealing (Sir F. Sanderson).