§ Order for Second Reading read.
§ Mr. Anthony Greenwood (Rossendale)
On a point of order. I wonder whether I might respectfully make a submission to you, Mr. Speaker. The House will recall that recently we have had a number of speeches which seemed to many of us to be of inordinate length. On this occasion, as you are no doubt aware, a very large number of hon. Members are anxious to have the liberty of catching your eye. I am not suggesting that the hon. and gallant Member who is introducing the Bill will trespass unduly on the patience of the House, but it may be that other hon. Members will not be similarly inhibited. I was wondering, Mr. Speaker, whether you would consider the desirability of appealing to hon. Members to limit the duration of their speeches.
§ Mr. Speaker
I am grateful to the hon. Member for that intervention. As a matter of fact, I have an extremely long list of Members who are desirous of speaking, and I am sure that it would be the general desire of the House that speeches should be kept as short as possible. It is an interesting topic, and many hon. Members on both sides are deeply interested in the subject, and the shorter that speeches can be kept, I am sure the more popular they will be with the House as a whole.
§ 11.16 a.m.
§ Wing Commander Eric Bullus (Wembley, North)
; I beg to move, "That the Bill be now read a Second time."
I subscribe to the sentiments that you, Mr. Speaker, and the hon. Member for Rossendale (Mr. Anthony Greenwood) have expressed. For my part, I shall endeavour to set the pace by restricting my remarks, if possible, to about 20 minutes.
It will not have escaped the notice of hon. and right hon. Members that today is Friday, the 13th. Traditionally, we are told that this is an unlucky day. [An HON. MEMBER: "For you."] I confess that it does not worry me in the slightest and I am sure that it does not cause any 755 concern to any hon. Members, because we keep a sense of proportion. It is precisely in that atmosphere that I seek to advance arguments in favour of the Bill. I am anxious that the debate should be conducted in a practical and commonsense atmosphere, with the arguments revealing a sense of proportion and framed in their right perspective.
The subject of the Bill has caused much controversy. Long before I gave notice on 19th November last of my intention to present the Bill, controversy abounded. The difference of opinion is not confined to party politics, which is all the more reason why we should show a due sense of proportion. But whatever controversy abounds, there can be no controversy about the universal desire to find all the deterrents possible to arrest the growth of crimes of violence.
There are those, and I am one, who sincerely believe that because of the alarming increase of crimes of violence against the person, our judges should have power to order sentence of whipping. We believe that such power would act as a deterrent against the would-be offender. I believe it is well understood in this country that the death penalty is retained because it serves as a deterrent.
I think that even my right hon. and learned Friend the Home Secretary, whose presence we welcome here this morning as an earnest of his knowledge of the importance of this subject, also believes in deterrents. Giving notice just eight weeks ago, on 19th December, of his intention to examine the possibilities of introducing legislation to make illegal the sale of offensive weapons, he said:Her Majesty's Government think that in present conditions, when there is so much anxiety about crimes of violence, it would not be right to overlook the deterrent effect on criminals which would be achieved if it were made an offence to be found in possession of an offensive weapon, without lawful reason, in a public place or a place to which the public have access."—[OFFICIAL. REPORT, I 9 t h December, 1952; Vol. 509, c. 1803.]My supporters and those who think as I do are convinced that this Bill is likely. if passed into law, to be a very real deterrent to the man who contemplates physical violence. The whole House, including my right hon. and learned Friend the Home Secretary, recognises 756 the deterrent value of whipping inside our prisons. The whip has been retained as a punishment for attacks on prison warders. Why should the elderly and law-abiding be refused this obvious safeguard?
While there are many millions who wish to see powers restored to our judges to apply the deterrent effect of corporal punishment, I recognise that there are many people who believe that the reintroduction of corporal punishment would be a retrograde step and that it would serve in no way as a deterrent. Their views, of course, must be considered.
It will be argued by those who oppose this Bill that about four years ago the House gave the matter full consideration and accepted the conclusions of the Cadogan Committee. It will be argued that it is wrong, that it is a bad principle, to make too many changes in the law. It will be argued that a reasonable period should be allowed for the trial of any reform. But it cannot be denied that an experiment should be ended as soon as possible if it is not only unsuccessful but is having most unsatisfactory effects. I maintain, with many others, that the abolition of corporal punishment has proved a costly failure, not in terms of finance but in terms of human suffering, and that powers to order a whipping should be restored to the judges.
§ Mr. Leslie Hale (Oldham, West)
Does the hon. and gallant Member say that there has been an increase in the crimes for which corporal punishment was applied prior to 1948?
§ Wing Commander Bullus
If the hon. Member will allow me to develop my case, he will have the answer in my next sentence. Those who argue that the abolition of these powers was a right decision will quote figures to show that those crimes for which whipping was formerly the sentence—chiefly robbery with violence—have decreased in number since the passing of the 1948 Act. But it is generally recognised in the legal profession, though I am afraid it is not common knowledge among the general public, that the figures for recent years do not bear relationship, under the present mode of compilation, with the figures prior to 1948. I am credibly informed by criminal lawyers that since 1948 the 757 Crown has often accepted the lesser plea of guilty in cases of robbery with violence because the greater offence now carries no extra penalty.
§ Mr. Scholefield Allen (Crewe)
Does the hon. and gallant Member not know that that has been the constant practice?
§ Mr. Speaker
I think that it would be conducive to brevity of speeches if interventions were confined to a minimum.
§ Wing Commander Bullus
Many defending counsel have submitted a plea of guilty solely to larceny, and even admitted a measure of "roughness," and that has been accepted. Therefore, the post-1948 and pre-1948 figures cannot be fairly contrasted. That is the sole reason the post-1948 figures show a decrease. But what cannot be contested is the fact of the alarming growth of all crimes of violence against the person. The graph in the Home Office Criminal Statistics. Cmd. 8616, page 31, shows a steady rise from 1940, with the single exception of 1946. The figures have risen from 2,424 in 1940 to 6,516 in 1951. The figures for those over 21 years of age have grown from 1,304 in 1938 to 3.088 in 1951.
It has to be remembered, too, that today the type of violence has changed from that of early days. It has taken on more horrible forms. The cosh is used much more extensively than it was before. Even the Home Secretary recognises the terrible nature of this weapon, because yesterday he presented a Bill to prohibit the carrying of such weapons in public or in places to which the public have access.
It is also significant that prior to 1948 no person would plead guilty to the floggable offence of robbery with violence. There were a very few exceptions, but as a general rule no criminal would plead guilty to this charge. Surely that is an indication that the threat of whipping was a real deterrent.
Whipping need not necessarily mean that the criminal will receive only a short term of imprisonment in addition. The Bill now before the House allows judges to impose a whipping in lieu of or in addition to imprisonment. They can detain the criminal in custody in the interests of the general safety of the public for a long 758 period. But experience since 1948 has shown that many young offenders have had to be sentenced to very long terms of imprisonment where quite clearly a good whipping and a short term of imprisonment would have been a much more suitable punishment and would have allowed more generous time for the offender to rehabilitate himself in the general community.
As the law stands, the only alternative punishment to whipping is a long term of imprisonment. Already our prisons are over-full and a real item of expense to the public purse. Prison conditions are also so much improved for the prisoner that this form of punishment can hardly be termed a real deterrent today.
Opposition speakers will tell me that Parliament abolished corporal punishment not only in the interests of the criminal but because disinterested opinion on penal reform came to the conclusion that there are more effective ways of deterring the vicious criminal. I have yet to see those ways. I shall be told that four years is an insufficient time to prove this belief by experiment. Meanwhile crime grows, viciousness becomes intensified and new forms of brutality are devised. Experience has shown that no moderation towards evil-doers will moderate evil doing. On the contrary, it appears to encourage them to go further. The only sound principle is to act when action is called for and not to be afraid to take the necessary action.
It is arguable that the recommendations of the Cadogan Committee were put into force too soon under the Criminal Justice Act, 1948. Events certainly point to that conclusion. It does not affect the merits of that Committee's recommendations that they were imposed on the country before all the necessary provision had been made for the reforms. But one does not take away the bars of the cage before one has tamed the lion, otherwise the general public may suffer. That is what has happened in this country and the position should be righted until such time as the reforms can reasonably be tried.
Some opponents of this Bill say that the re-imposition of corporal punishment would set us back 100 years. I crave the indulgence of the House to read 759 something from HANSARD of almost 88 years ago. Mr. Scully (Cork County) asked the Home Secretary:Whether his attention has been called to certain Returns lately presented to this House, showing that 1,138 persons (not being soldiers or sailors) of various ages from six to sixty-three years, have been recently flogged in England and Wales, receiving from six to fifty lashes, in many instances by the order of only one Magistrate … And will he explain to the House these three cases, among numerous others of a similar character:—In reply the Home Secretary, Sir George Grey (Norfolk), said inter alia that he
- "1. The case of a person, aged sixty-three years who received twelve cuts of a cat for 'refusing to work' in the House of Correction at Falkingham.
- "2. The case of a child, aged six years, who received twelve lashes at Knutsford on the 6th of June, 1864, besides seven days' hard labour, for stealing one pocket-knife.'
- "3. The case of a child, aged 12 years, sentenced on the 3rd of November, 1863, by the Reverend Algernon Peyton and Thomas Richardson, Esquire, for ' stealing three gingerbread cakes,' to fourteen days' hard labour, and to receive twelve strokes with a birch rod, which were inflicted on the 11th of November, 1863, in the House of Correction at Wisbeach up to the eighth stroke, when the punishment was stopped by the surgeon in attendance?"… was afraid he could not give any explanation with regard to these cases.There is no suggestion that under this Bill we should go back to anything of that type—and that is considerably less than 100 years ago. [An HON. MEMBER: "So what?"] Where the clock has been set back already is in the normal life of our people, especially the older ones, men and women who are frightened to go out after dark and who are frightened to open their doors after sundown. The clock has been set back many, many years because there is a general feeling of insecurity.
The reference to setting the clock back 100 years may refer to the fact that 90 years ago, when there was an outbreak of violence in London known as garrotting or attempted strangulation and when an hon. Member of this House was a victim, a Private Member's Bill to add whipping to the permitted penalty was passed against the advice of the then Home Secretary. The Cadogan Report states that:the wave of crime with which it was designed to deal had already passed before the Bill was introduced.760 There are some parellel features today, but the great difference is that today the crime wave has not passed. I wish it had, but I am afraid it is likely to continue until we take appropriate action.
A leading psychologist has recently expressed the view that society has a right to express its horror against crime. Those who take this view can hardly be opponents of corporal punishment. Many people exclude this motive for punishment, but I would ask why Dr. J. A. Hadfield, the eminent psychologist, pertinently asks:Is it not possible that we do violence to the moral life of the community if we refuse to allow it to express its horror and encourage it to take too lenient a view of acts of brutality?
§ Mr. John Paton (Norwich, North)
I am grateful to the hon. and gallant Gentleman for giving way to me on this point which we may be able to clear out of the way quickly. Is he aware that in response to a question by the "Manchester Guardian" on 2nd January, Dr. Hadfield explained that he was wholly opposed to flogging?
§ Wing Commander Bullus
I am grateful for the intervention and it does not affect the validity of the sentence which I have quoted. I was advancing the view of Dr. Hadfield that there is a moral quality about a punishment which is deserved. Just punishment does not necesarily mean revenge.
Unquestionably the lowering of moral and religious standards generally has much to do with the increase of crime. [An HON. MEMBER: "Why not concentrate on that?"] A generation which in general is not so much concerned with the things of the spirit as were its forbears is bound to fail. The broken home life and prevalent lack of parental control and responsibility is an undoubted reason for increase in crime. I do not want to moralise or sermonise. but these things need to be said.
The Cadogan Committee made many recommendations but the reform requirements are not yet ready. We need new prisons, we need more warders and we need money for reforms. I think we need an increase in the establishment of the Police Force of this country, but we are not yet up to the present establishment. Too many police are engaged in indoor and clerical occupations and on routine 761 police court witness work. Many more should be available for the maintenance of law and order and for crime prevention. These are problems for the Home Office. Such improvements could have their deterrent effect on crime, but the power to order a whipping is another vital deterrent. I do not believe that whipping would mean the end of violent crime, but it would assist in reducing the number of acts of violence. If it served to check only one potential attack, would it not be worth while to have the deterrent of a whipping?
I believe that there is widespread support for corporal punishment throughout the country. The Magistrates' Association, which represents a most important body of opinion, over the whole country, gave their answer to this question in no uncertain terms yesterday. Their views must be respected. I confess that I am much impressed by the views of the Lord Chief Justice and other leading judges on the question of whipping. Let us remember that we have the finest system of justice in the world and that our judges are unequalled.
In this Bill I seek to give them the power to exercise their discretion. I maintain that they are to be trusted. In my humble opinion, they are more fitted than the layman or the politician to decide which is a case for psychiatry and which would benefit by a whipping. Not every guilty person would be likely to be whipped. The judges would have a discretionary power, and I am sure that they would not abuse that trust. One judge recently, in sentencing a criminal for a particularly violent type of crime, echoed what many people in this country feel who are convinced of the necessity for whipping. He said:We are very long-suffering in this country. We put up with the blustering thuggery and cheap rotten gangsterism up to a point. But when we decide a thing is going to be smashed, we smash it. It is going to be smashed now.There are many people in this House and in the country who will echo those sentiments.
Some think that this Bill does not go far enough; others think that it goes too far. Some disagreed with the Bill before its terms were published, for the negative Motion calling for a Second Reading six months hence appeared on the Order Paper several times before the Bill was 762 published. I confess that was preferable to the terms of other Amendments which have since appeared on the Order Paper. Some of the phrases used would suggest that my supporters and I are invested with a desire for revenge and are products of newspaper sensationalism. However long I remain in this House, I hope that I shall never impute unworthy motives to hon. Members whose opinions do not happen to coincide with my own. What matters is the principle behind this Bill. Any possible faulty drafting can be amended and reasonable Amendments can be accepted in Committee. The question on the Second Reading is whether or not our judges are to have the powers of whipping. I presume to hope that the vote may be a straight one and on that issue alone.
I have had many letters on this subject, as no doubt have other hon. and right hon. Members. In my postbag over 80 per cent. of the letters were in favour, and the letters have come from as wide apart as Glasgow and Cornwall, Northern Ireland and Yorkshire. The significant fact is that usually the electorate is disposed to write when they are against something, but this time they want something and they want the deterrent of the birch. Some of the letters are worth quoting. Needless to say, I do not subscribe to the following:Wish members of the Howard League and Sir David could get coshed before your Bill is presented.Another writes:Gaols are not a deterrent hut a place where they go for warmth, good food and good company.A third writes; "Would they allege that a schoolmaster who administered a cut on a boy's bottom for playing truant did this as a revengeful act or as a deterrent?"
Another one says:The arguments against whipping are comparable to those against vaccination and innoculation—mainly sentimental and devoid of scientific basis.Finally, an elderly lady living in Dorset writes:May I. as an elderly woman living alone, and on behalf of many others in a similar position, thank you for taking this step?I received no wildly adverse or insulting communication until this morning, when I received two. which I am afraid I cannot read, and one to which I do not take 763 real exception—because the writer concerned might really have been sincere— referring to me as "the bright, shining star of Wembley."
I should like to thank all those who have written to me. I am grateful to my supporters—including the seconder, my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Ayr (Sir T. Moore)—for their help, and I am also grateful to my hon. and learned Friend the Member for York (Mr. Hylton-Foster) who, without prejudice to his personal views, gave me invaluable assistance in drafting the Bill. I hope the Bill will receive a Second Reading. I think the majority of people are behind it. If it does not secure approval today, I feel certain that the Home Secretary will have to consider similar legislation within 18 months.
I have not sought to influence unduly any Member of this House. I have restricted myself to "whipping" those Members of my own party who hold my views. I have refused numerous invitations from all parts of the country to speak and debate on this subject, and I have avoided writing articles—because the choice is one for the individual and is a serious responsibility for each hon. Member. If this Bill is given a Second Reading, it is my sincere hope that in the near future circumstances will change sufficiently for me to have the privilege of moving the repeal of an Act which today I seek to get on to the Statute Book.
§ 11.42 a.m
§ Lieut.-Colonel Sir Thomas Moore (Ayr)
I beg to second the Motion. There has been so much discussion on this subject in the Press and in another place during the last few years that I have had a horrid fear that the debate today would come as something of an anti-climax; but I am now satisfied, from the many conversations I have had, that the House will approach this very difficult problem at its usual human and constructive best. If it does that, I have no doubt that the wishes expressed by my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Wembley, North (Wing Commander Bullus), will come true today.
We should all be grateful to him for introducing this Bill. It needed discussion; it needed to be analysed and debated. We should also congratulate 764 him on the moderation, good sense and sincerity of his speech. At your request, Mr. Speaker—to which I always pay great attention—I shall try to follow my hon. and gallant Friend's example by speaking only for a short time and, at the same time, I shall endeavour to answer or refute some of the argument that have already been advanced in the Press by the Howard Reform League and in the Amendments on the Order Paper.
I want to make it quite clear that I am not going to quote any examples of the atrocities that have become a feature of our daily Press during the past few years. A young Scottish nurse has compiled an album containing all the cases that have occurred in the last two years, and I have it here for any hon. Member who wishes to consult it.
§ Mr. J. McGovern (Glasgow, Shettleston)
Is it not a fact that the hon. and gallant Gentleman backed Hitler. Mussolini, General Franco and Mosley —and all the forms of thuggery in which they were engaged?
§ Sir T. Moore
I do not know what that has to do with the subject under discussion. I do not admit it, and I cannot see its relevance to the matter under debate.
None of us can be unaware of these cases because we read of them daily when we open our newspapers. As far as I can see, they differ only in the degree of insensate and repugnant cruelty which distinguishes all of them. These cases have only one common factor—the desire for gain—through lust and the fulfilment of a sadistic impulse—or the greed for money. I shall try to analyse the problem objectively.
What we have to do is to prevent people taking what they want—to which they have no legal or moral right—and using violence in doing so. I think that puts the case fairly reasonably. We all recognise the problem. The only conflict between us is what is the best method of solving it. On the one side there are those, including myself, who believe that only by inflicting or threatening to inflict some degree of pain and suffering can we prevent the criminal from repeating his offence or deter a potential criminal from committing it. That is the fundamental difference between us.
765 When the Criminal Justice Act was first introduced in 1938, and again in 1948, when it was passed, I remember saying that it was indeed well named the "Criminal Justice Act" inasmuch as it sought to do justice only to the criminal. Not once on any page or in any part of that Act is the word "victim" mentioned. The other day I was surprised to read, in a Press cutting which was sent to me, that I was regarded as the most sentimental Member in the House. No one likes to be singled out as possessing a virtue or a vice which is open to criticism, so I sought to analyse the word "sentimental" I consulted my good friend Mr. Chambers, and he informed me that it is applied to anyone with an excess of fine feeling.
I was greatly relieved at that. I accept that description, but I would clarify it by saying that my feelings, like those of my hon. and gallant Friend, are for the victims, whereas our opponents and I give them credit for their degree of sentiment—seem to be mainly interested in the future of the criminal. My interests lie with the protection of the innocent child and the helpless old lady, or the ordinary inoffensive, law-abiding citizen, rather than with the reformation of the thug and the gangster—although the latter problem is also in my mind.
There are many, both inside and outside this House, who are genuinely and sincerely convinced that methods other than corporal punishment can end this reign of terror to which we are at present being subjected. My hon. and gallant Friend has referred to the Cadogan Committee. In what conditions did that Committee sit? The scars of the First World War had been largely obliterated and it seemed a good time for experiment. That was the background to the setting up of that Committee. But what actually happened? They recommended that corporal punishment should be abolished, but the offences to which it was then applicable were confined to a very limited field.
Today the field is far wider. Violence is offered in practically any kind of crime. A young girl who protests at being violated, an old age pensioner who protests at her life savings being taken from her, the clerk who is taking from the bank the money to pay weekly wages and protests at that money being taken from him—all are liable promptly to be 766 battered, probably into a state of unconsciousness. That is why the public have now become angry and resentful and want to see something done.
§ Mr. Emrys Hughes (South Ayrshire)
The hon. and gallant Gentleman has cited a list of crimes. Is he aware that in his constituency a crime which is causing great alarm is driving to the danger of the public while under the influence of drink? Is he prepared to suggest flogging for that?
§ Sir T. Moore
I will answer something intelligent, but not that sort of interruption from the hon. Gentleman. The Penal Reform League have issued many tables of figures. I do not suggest for a moment that statistics prove nothing; indeed, I say that they will prove anything if they are adequately handled. I will quote one figure—a figure which was not quoted by my hon. and gallant Friend. In 1947, the last full year before the Criminal Justice Act came into force, crimes of violence plus sexual crimes numbered 14,407. In 1951, the number had increased to 21,149—an increase of about 70 per cent. I regard that as convincing.
§ Sir T. Moore
The hon. Member will have an opportunity to speak. There have been references to the meeting of the Magistrates' Association when a couple of hundred people at a meeting of 400 voted in favour of the abolition of corporal punishment. The magistrates have now had an opportunity of saying what they really think, although not the whole 18,000 of them; the figures would have been very much more in our favour had they been given the opportunity. In any event, the result is convincing.
Our opponents are undoubtedly swayed by the views of the well-meaning and worthy people who appeared in our midst some years ago, the psychiatrists. It is a great mistake to allow the psychiatrists to usurp the authority of our judges— and that is what is tending to happen. Significantly, none of our opponents has yet referred to the opinions of the judges. Why is that? Because they know that 767 the judges are not swayed by sentiment but are swayed by knowledge, by reason and by judgment.
I will quote only one judge—not the Lord Chief Justice, whose views on the subject are well known; not Lord Alness, who wrote a very powerful and convincing article in the "News of the World "last Sunday and who is a very humane man; not Lord Oaksey, not Lord Justice Asquith, all of whom express themselves in favour of the return of corporal punishment. I will quote one remark made by Lord Justice Roche, who has long been regarded as a very humane judge. This happened during the 1948 debate. He was describing a case which he had recently tried in which a boy of 16 had violated a child of 13 with shocking brutality. He discussed the case with Mr. Paterson, the Prison Commissioner, and they both decided, very reluctantly, that it was a case for the cat. I should not have thought so myself, but obviously they did. When the youth was taken from the triangle, the one remark he made was,"I will never do this sort of thing again "; and as far as we know, he never did.
Our objection to the arguments used by our opponents is that they never refer to the views of those who have been raped or battered, or, in many cases, mutilated or injured for life. Their views are avoided, but it is important to consider the views of those who have been so treated. Our opponents seem also to ignore the public opinion which has been so fully represented by every section of the Press. "The Sunday Pictorial," which is certainly not in favour of me or of corporal punishment —and I do not mind that—published a singularly repulsive photograph of myself—no doubt a very good photograph—some months ago and referred to my attitude towards the return of corporal punishment. They issued a questionnaire to their readers and they were good enough to tell me the resuIt. They told me that 442 or 443 replies were in favour of my attitude and nine were against it. On that same occasion, I had 144 letters, and none was against my attitude.
What are the alternatives which our opponents offer to our suggestions in the Bill? They say there should be a longer trial of the 1948 Act. As my hon. and 768 gallant Friend asked, how many old ladies have to be coshed and how many children have to be violated before that trial can be regarded as completed? Our opponents suggest better education—that is a suggestion in one of the Amendments. Education has never been more comprehensive or widespread than it is today, and yet these crimes of violence are constantly increasing. They say we must deal with the problem by improved social conditions, but, again, our social conditions, while admittedly not yet perfect, are steadily improving; and at the same time as that steady improvement takes place, so the number of coshing crimes increases.
Another suggestion is that we should use longer sentences of imprisonment. But we read from the Prison Commissioners' Report that our prisons have become so overcrowded as to necessitate in some cases three criminals in a cell, and certainly with not enough warders to look after them. The only result of that is to train more ardent criminals than ever. It may be suggested that we should build more prisons, but I do not think any Government would be able to adopt such an anti-social policy as to build prisons when houses are so urgently required.
§ Sir T. Moore
I thank the hon. Gentleman very much, but I cannot give way. I am sure he will have an opportunity to speak. My time is limited. Our opponents also advocate more police officers, but the police service is not a compulsory service, and successive Governments have found it impossible to make it attractive enough to obtain sufficient recruits.
Another argument which our opponents always regard as conclusive is that corporal punishment debases and brutalises the recipient. But in most cases we are punishing debased brutes, and we cannot do them any more harm. I wonder whether hon. Members recall the case last year of a burly chief petty officer who had a little inn in the North and who was attacked by some would-be coshers who thought he had some money. Having been a boxer in his time, he beat them up and inflicted grave suffering and considerable pain. The other day, another 769 burly man, Mr. Raven, had the audacity and temerity to throw a would-be cosher through a window causing him great suffering and pain.
In other words, they did exactly what this Bill seeks to do to would-be coshers. What do hon. Members opposite suggest that we should do to the would-be cosher? Send him to the remand home? None of those arguments holds water. What are we going to do?
§ Sir T. Moore
What are we to do to those people who are causing all this danger and creating so much fear to so many of our fellow citizens? I believe we have met the case by the Bill. The only fault I find with it—and it is a serious fault—is that it specifies the form of instrument to be used and the form of punishment. I think that is a mistake. In Clause 3 (a), the Bill says,(a) the instrument used shall be a birch rod;I would delete the words "a birch rod" and substitute "at the discretion of the courts." They have more information about the person convicted and the type of crime which is being committed, and in my opinion it would be far better to leave it to their discretion. Of course that is a Committee point which can be
Finally, we come to Scotland. They say—and, of course, we know—that corporal punishment has been illegal for 90 years there, and so our Scottish opponents—and I am sure I see some of them in front of me—say, as it has not been used it cannot have been necessary. But how many cases of razor slashing or general thuggery might have been avoided in Glasgow had there been corporal punishment, had the courts had the power to inflict it. Indeed, it was found necessary at one time some years ago to bring Sir Percy Sillitoe to clean up the razor gangs in Glasgow. When Sir Percy left the razor gangs reappeared.
I think—and this is my last word— we all know that our standards of conduct and behaviour have slipped since the war. Some show it by the evasion of payment of their taxes, thereby making the burden heavier for their neighbours; others show it by a reluctance to give a full day's work for a full day's pay; we all show it, I think, by tending to take more from 770 the common weal rather than to give to it. I think that the world still remembers our greatness and our great sacrifices and our endurance; and the world still looks to us for moral leadership. I believe that only by cleansing our own moral character shall we become worthy to regain that leadership and give it once more.
§ 12.2 p.m
§ Mr. Ellis Smith (Stoke-on-Trent, South)
I beg to move, to leave out "now," and, at the end of the Question, to add, "upon this day six months."
I know the House will forgive a personal note before I proceed any further. This morning I feel very lonely, because an hon. Friend of mine who would have seconded this Amendment is lying in bed with influenza and bronchitis, and another hon. Friend of mine who would have supported me has passed from us while proceeding on a Parliamentary delegation, doing his duty to the very last. I thought it well to mention that before proceeding. [HoN. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."]
I am very pleased that this issue has been raised here today, because my indignation is constantly being aroused when these big and controversial issues are being considered in other places than in this House, as has been happening recently. For that reason alone I am very pleased that the people's elected representatives, who are answerable to the people of this country, are being called upon this day to decide where they stand in relation to this issue and whether they accept their responsibilities in regard to it. I hope that there is going to be no running away from this issue today, and that we are all going to be called upon and are ready to accept our share of responsibility so that the whole world may see where we stand.
Crime in this country is thriving, and there can be no doubt that public disquiet is manifest wherever one goes. In my view, those guilty of crime should be punished, but our task is to remove the causes of crime, and, above all, especially amongst young people, to remove the temptations that give rise to crime, to reduce crime to the irreducible amount. Let me emphasise that it is only an infinitesimal proportion of our people who are responsible for any crime. Our problem is how to reduce the numbers of crimes, and to decide what is the best 771 form of punishment that tends to avoid a repetition of crime. In my view, those are the fundamental issues with which we are faced today. Therefore, I hope that during this debate we shall approach the problems involved with correct perspective, and that we shall give credit where it is due, for our people are the most self-disciplined people in the world.
There has been a steady improvement amongst our people. I do not make the claims that so many do. I was born of ordinary people and desire only to serve them and truly to reflect their ideas, because there are so many forces operating in other directions. Therefore, I have no hesitation in saying that there has been a steady improvement in the conduct of our people in alignment with the improvement of education and the improvement of education facilities that lie at the very doors of our people with also improved housing and improved amenities.
Had there been more time—but I want also to set a good example in the matter of length of speeches—I should have quoted extracts from this Command Paper 8685, which everyone should read. I shall give just one or two quotations with pride, because I have seen such a difference in my time in the industrial areas of this country. We may see such a difference, if, for instance, we take the number of offences of drunkenness proved in 1951 per 10,000 of the population. I invite anyone to make a serious analysis of this document, and I only wish the Press would report more of this kind of thing instead of indulging in what so many newspapers do constantly.
I believe whipping, the stocks, the birch, witch hunts—and the modern version of witch hunts I mean also—are relics of barbarism. In the mid-20th century they are out of date. The difference between the stocks and the birch is mainly only one of the degree. My own views on this issue have been formed since I came into this House. They were formed by listening to hon. and right hon. Gentlemen from whom I differed fundamentally but whom, because of their lives, I respected, and who held high office; and today my views are in the main determined by my own varied experience in life, first of all, in acting in a representative capacity.
772 It is so easy to speak here, it is so easy to speak in the courts and other places, but where real manliness is put to the test is in the part one plays, or tries to play, in serving one's fellows in large industrial establishments in this country. It was there that I learned that the best way to obtain discipline and maintain discipline is so to conduct oneself that one wins the respect of one's fellows. That, in ever widening circles, has its effect. That way, I am convinced, is the best way to maintain discipline— rather than to resort to these midVictorian ideas to which expression has been given this morning.
In addition to that, I served in the Forces in Britain, France, Belgium, and Germany. It was the most humiliating experience I have ever had. I spent five years before the war in trying to use my influence behind the scenes in my own party, and in debates in this House, to get all the political parties to see that we should never get the cream of our manhood to volunteer for the Services in peace time without a fundamental change in the way the men were treated. That was not done, but we have had now to raise their status, improve their amenities, improve their pay, to get the number now volunteering to serve in the Forces. In spite of my view about the Forces, everything that I went in for— I am not being egotistical, but merely giving a concrete example—I did well. I got crossed rifles for markmanship I turned out a first-class machine gunner and a first-class driver. But there was one thing I could not do, and that was to use a bayonet. Had I refused to use a bayonet
§ Mr. Dudley Williams (Exeter)
On a point of order. We are discussing the Second Reading of the Criminal Justice (Amendment) Bill. Has what the hon. Gentleman is now saying anything to do with the subject?
§ Mr. Ellis Smith
If the outlook of some people had prevailed I would have been flogged for not using a bayonet. Had I been flogged, far from reforming me at that age, I should not have been satisfied until I had flogged those who had flogged me.
§ Mr. Bernard Braine (Billericay)
The hon. Gentleman will bear in mind that if others had not used bayonets he might not be here now.
§ Mr. Ellis Smith
I do not mind that being said, but I put my record against the hon. Gentleman's, or anyone else's. While I could not use a bayonet, I used a tank. That having been said, let us realise what is fundamentally involved in this. We have also read how some people treated our forefathers when we were fighting for the right to have a say in life, and what was done then to our forefathers some people would do us today.
No one can doubt that we are faced with an outbreak of violent crime and an increase in juvenile crime, but we differ about the reasons that give rise to this. In my view, it is, in the main, the aftermath of two world wars, but the Second World War in particular. Those who were closely in touch with people know how lack of parental control and influence during the war had its effect, with the young fathers away in the Forces and the young mothers playing their part in industry.
In addition, there is a new form of military training. One cannot train young men to be parachutists, to take part in jungle raids, and all that kind of thing, without leaving an effect on a small number of them. Therefore, our task today is, not altogether to blame others for how they act, but to ask ourselves what contribution we can make to remove the influence of the past few years upon our young people.
§ Mr. Beverley Baxter (Southgate)
The question about the brutalising effects of commandos' training has been made over and over again, but there has been no evidence that ex-commandos and parachutists have taken to violent crime in civilian life. It is time that that theory was squashed for ever.
§ Mr. Ellis Smith
It may not apply to the individuals responsible, but that kind of thing cannot be shown on the screens and printed in the Press without affecting others who may not have been involved.
I have read the report of the Cadogan Committee, which was composed of the most experienced people in the country. Their investigation went on for nine 774 months; they had 20 meetings, heard 72 witnesses and considered 50 memoranda. After all that, their conclusions were unanimously against out-of-date ideas. The justification for corporal punishment would be that it acted as a deterrent, but in my view the balance of evidence is that it does not act as a deterrent. The Cadogan Committee said so. Naval discipline has shown it, too. Year after year when the matter was raised in the House the big naval people said that discipline could not be maintained if corporal punishment was abolished. It was abolished, and naval discipline is better today than it has ever been in the history of our Navy. It was the magistrates who abandoned whipping because in their view it was failing to achieve its purpose. It is only five years since Parliament abolished corporal punishment, although had it not been for the war I believe it would have been abolished in 1940. Surely we are not going to introduce it again so soon.
I hope that the Home Secretary will consider taking action about one or two of the points I wish to raise. I believed for a long while that the films were having a very bad effect upon some of our young people. I do not say all films, because some have an educational value, but some of the films did. Very few people seem to agree with me, but now that the damage is done, more and more people are agreeing, and there is evidence of it in the Library, which I should like to quote if I had more time. I have not seen the modern comics, but I am told that they are really disgraceful. If I had more time I would certainly quote from the "Manchester Guardian" the speech of a headmaster speaking at a conference in London only a few weeks ago in order to prove that point.
I had intended to deal with the Press, but in order to save time I will content myself with drawing attention to the "Manchester Guardian" of 22nd January of this year, in which Mr. Kenneth Brown, the President of the Newspaper Society, speaking in Manchester, made a greater indictment than I am able to make.
I now wish to place on record my protest against a document being sent to hon. Members last week. I have no hesitation in saying that dangerous tendencies are being embarked upon by certain publications in this country.
§ Mr. Ellis Smith
This is "Picture Post," and I am going to ask the Clerk of the House to look at it. In my view, it does not raise a question of Privilege, but it is getting dangerously near to it. This is a deliberate circulation stunt, exploiting issues of this kind for circulation purposes, and in my view every Member of this House should have refused to answer it. That is the best way to deal with things of that kind.
I believe that the Home Secretary is taking constructive steps to deal with this problem. The publication yesterday of the Prevention of Crime Bill is a step in the right direction, and one of the steps that we must take. The 1948 Criminal Justice Act is the modern form of dealing with these problems. It is only five years old and has already proved its value where it has been allowed to operate. It has harnessed voluntary associations of our citizens, men and women of good will, who are gathering experience which will increase in value as they gather more. I hope that the Supervisory Probation Services at Liverpool and other centres will be given encouragement by this debate.
Every Home Secretary for the past 50 years is responsible for a serious and scandalous state of affairs in our prisons. [Laughter.] This is no laughing matter. The state of our prisons is a terrible handicap on the staffs—they will not be laughing—and the responsibility for the lack of modern methods should be placed at the door of every one of us.
There is an indictment against the administration in the Report of the Select Committee which should be read by every Member of this House. I have read it from cover to cover, and I have no hesitation in advertising this document, because it is the kind of document to which we should pay attention. Had there been time, I should certainly have quoted from it in order to show the kind of action that we should take.
776 I believe that the time has arrived in this country when, without any hesitation, this House should say to the Home Secretary: There has got to be an enormous increase in the police force of this country; an increase not only of men but also of women who are capable of doing the work they may be called upon to do. They have to be given better pay, fewer hours on duty, better education— not in a military form—to enable them to understand why our fellow citizens act in the way they do, and the best way to deal with them.
Just as we have improved the conditions of the miners in order to get their good will, so we have to do the same for the police. Therefore, I hope that as the result of today's debate we shall have the Home Secretary's unanimous support for the demand that he should go to the Cabinet and say, "Well, this Bill has been overwhelmingly defeated, but at the same time we want constructive steps to be taken of this character, in order that our people may go about the country in the way that they deserve."
People in high places should not forget their privileged position and responsibilities. In the towns of our fellow-citizens, the Lord Chief Justice should not have made the observations which he has been making during the past two or three years. He is a fellow-citizen of ours and can say what he likes in another place and can write in the Press, but he ought not to use his privilege and important position for the purpose of making the observations which he has made.
In conclusion, I ask: Are the constant controversial observations made by the Lord Chief Justice consistent with the dignity of his high office? Do they tend to maintain that dignity? In my view, we are called upon today to give a lead to our fellow citizens, to let the world see that Britain is not going to take this reactionary step that is proposed, and we are called upon by the United Nations not to embark upon this. I hope that we are going to say by an overwhelming majority that we are not prepared to support this Bill, but at the same time we want constructive action taken in order to deal with the problems of our day.
§ Mr. George Craddock (Bradford, South)
; I beg to second the Amendment so ably moved by my hon. Friend the Member for Stoke-on-Trent, South (Mr. Ellis Smith).
This is a most important debate, and it concerns the criminal proclivities of a small section of the community which are exercising the minds of Members of Parliament and people in the country. I was disappointed with the approach which was made by the mover and seconder of the Motion, because I consider that they did not get down deep enough to the problems which cause criminality.
May I refer to the Cadogan Report? This is a most important Report and the terms of reference were divided into three parts: corporal punishment of young offenders by order of courts of summary jurisdiction; corporal punishment of older offenders for offences dealt with by the superior courts; and corporal punishment of offenders against discipline in prisons and Borstal institutions. For the purpose of my argument, I wish to disregard the third item. I consider that is quite a different matter from the general proposition that we are discussing today.
Whipping has been a form of punishment in this country from earliest times, and payments for whipping figure largely in municipal and parish accounts from an early date. When death was the penalty under the common law for felonies, whipping was one of the punishments for misdemeanours at common law and for those misdemeanours for which no punishment was specifically provided by statute.
Whipping has been known throughout the years to be the cheapest form of punishment; that is to say, it does not require the over-all expenditure which is necessary for long terms of imprisonment if the lash is the only thing taken into account in dealing with prisoners. I know perfectly well that in these days punishment means not only the lash, and that has been the case for many years. There is a period of imprisonment as well. I want to make that quite plain. It was only in 1820 that an Act of Parliament of George IV abolished the whipping of females privately and 778 publicly. We feel that since this step was taken some progress has been made.
In 1843, the Commissioners on the Criminal Law submitted their Seventh Report, containing recommendations for a comprehensive codification of the criminal law. It is very important to realise what this Committee said in order to try to controvert the opinions expressed by the mover of the Motion. I will quote the exact words:Whipping is a punishment which is uncertain in point of severity, which inflicts an ignominous and indelible disgrace on the offender, and tends, we believe, to render him callous, and greatly to obstruct his return to any honest course of life.In 1927 a Departmental Commission on the treatment of young offenders submitted a Report on the various methods then available for dealing with juvenile delinquents. It said:
We deprecate strongly any indiscriminate use of whipping. To the young person who is nervously unstable, or mentally unbalanced, the whipping may do more harm than good.[HON. MEMBERS: "What about the victims?"] That is a most important point, but we want to have fewer victims, and therefore we should treat this as a disease and take appropriate steps to eradicate it.
By 1932 birching had been largely abandoned by the juvenile courts. I will give some figures to show the trend. The number of birchings in England and Wales in 1900 was 3,385; by 1910 the number had dropped to 1,702; by 1914 the number had increased to 2,415: in 1915—the war was on—birchings jumped to 3,514; in 1916 the number increased to 4,864; and in 1917 birchings reached a peak of 5,210. In 1918 the number dropped to 3,759. There was a very important reason for that. In the January the Americans had come into the war on the side of the Allies, the German spring offensive had been defeated, the Germans cracked in the summer and in the November came the armistice. The war having been settled, people were returning to normal conditions.
In 1920 the number of birchings dropped to 1,380, in 1930 there were only 135, and in 1936 the figure was 166. The number of birchings per year in England and Wales and also Scotland hardened at between 100 and 200. It can be seen 779 that magistrates were dealing much more sympathetically with young offenders.
Theorists have recognised that punishment may be justified on the three main grounds of retribution, deterrence and reform, but changes have taken place in our penal code and methods during the last century tending to subordinate retribution and to promote the elements of reform and deterrence, and few people would now defend treatment of young offenders based purely on the retributive principle. If my remarks deal largely with juveniles, it is because I consider that aspect very important. In a few years' time the juveniles will be the adults, and we ought to apply a principle which will be beneficial not only to the young, but to the still young at 30 to 40 years of age.
In the Children and Young Persons Act, 1933, Parliament expressly directed the juvenile courts to concentrate their attention primarily on the element of reform. It said that every court should have regard to the welfare of the child, take steps to remove him from undesirable surroundings and secure proper provision for his education and training.
Sir William Clarke Hall in 1920 wrote an interesting book describing investigations he had carried out in a manufacturing town and a coastal town. He said that 76 per cent. of those birched had returned to the courts within two years. The corresponding percentage for those put on probation was under 48; for those fined, only 35; and for those bound over, only 28. There is no proof in those figures that birching has done good. The juvenile organisations of the Board of Education drew the conclusion from those figures that the use of the birch did very little good, because one out of every four of those birched returned to the courts in less than one month. I hope the hon. and gallant Member for Wembley, North (Wing Commander Bullus) will take note of that in view of his remarks, for it disproves his argument.
Wing Commander Bulks
Surely those figures are for juveniles and not for persons over 17 years of age?
§ Mr. Craddock
Witnesses gave evidence on behalf of the National Association of Probation Officers. That is a very important body working with the courts. 780 It has been concerned with the after-care of children, young persons and adults for many years, and its evidence is worth while. The hon. and gallant Member mentioned that the magistrates had decided by an overwhelming majority to support flogging, but he did not say that, according to this morning's newspapers, the probation officers have decided against flogging by a majority of six to one.
Therefore, let me return to the point that I was making, the view expressed by the probation officers to the Cadogan Committee. They said that they were definitely against the retention of any power to order corporal punishment for young offenders. They based their view mainly on the ground that birching is not a sufficiently constructive method of treatment. It made no attempt to deal with the causes underlying the offence, and for this reason had not been, in their experience, an effective means of improving the child's conduct.
Psychiatrists were mentioned by the hon. and gallant Member for Ayr (Sir T. Moore), but I want to mention what was said by the medical psychologists who gave evidence to the Committee. They saw great objections to birching as a judicial punishment for young offenders in so far as it was imposed merely for punishment's sake, as an expression of the hatred felt by the community towards the person who has offended against the laws of the community. This element of sadism—that is their own description— which is present in all punishment is accentuated when the punishment takes the form of inflicting physical pain.
My hon. Friend the Member for Stokeon-Trent. South (Mr. Ellis Smith), who moved this Amendment, spoke shortly about the effect of two world wars on the young people of this country. This is a matter on which I may make one or two further remarks, and with the permission of the House I should like to give a few statistics, because they are so very important. I will be as brief as I possibly can, because I know there are many other Members who wish to speak in this debate. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."] I have been speaking only for about five minutes.
§ Mr. Craddock
Very well, but I want to say, without further delay and without preventing other Members from speaking, that we ought to hear many views on this important matter.
If there is one thing that I regret, it is dealing with this matter in the manner in which we are doing today, because the debate is not sufficiently comprehensive in view of the great scope of the difficulties in which we are placed in dealing with criminals. I think that something like a Commission ought to try to discover what are the causes which underlie such offences. I should like to see this matter dealt with in quite a different way.
I am sorry I cannot give the details I should have liked to give. The problem of curing criminals before they become hardened, and the difficulties of dealing with those who are a menace to society have led to a new approach, which is now being tried after sentence by the courts, and that new approach is accentuated in the Act of 1948. There is no doubt, as my hon. Friend said, that the growth of crime has been tremendous during recent years, and I think it is very largely a case of the circumstances of war. I am so certain of that that I could easily prove it had I the time.
Nevertheless, I feel, that we have got to assess the individual more carefully. and I do not think we would do the slightest good by birching. I do not believe that virtue can be instilled with the lash. I firmly believe in the old saying that for every little devil who is knocked out, three little devils are knocked in. We are all products of our
civilisation. Our actions stem from education, home environment and early experiences. We cannot force people to take up the sword, the gun and so on, and upon their return to civilian life expect everyone immediately to react to the new way of life overnight. It cannot be done.
We must look again at the circumstances which engulf our young people in their early, formative years. We must consider again whether our educational system gives high promise for the young, whether, in fact, such early training should not be varied to give that broad-based instruction which will encourage the good and the noble.
From the factual I proceed in conclusion to reinforce the use of psychology 782 and imagination. To make it easy for our young people to purchase instruments of crime, and to display them in shop windows, is calculated not to reduce crime, but to increase it. Sensuous literature is not an aid for the young, but damages their personalities. Birching has proved not to be a deterrent, and I hope if the Motion for a Second Reading goes to a Division, the House will reject it. People no longer respond to barbaric treatment and an overwhelming vote for the Amendment will mean that this House still retains its soul.
Finally, no case has been made out for birching. On religious grounds, social.grounds, moral grounds, humanitarian grounds, and for scientific, mental, physical and psychological reasons, I say that we would be failing in our public duty if we reverted to medieval methods in the treatment of offenders.
§ 12.48 p.m
§ The Secretary of State for the Home Department (Sir David Maxwell Fyfe)
I am sure the House will not think it an intrusion if I intervene briefly at this stage of the debate and indicate the Government's view on the proposals contained in this Bill. We recognise that the question involved is one on which strong opinions are sincerely and conscientiously held by individual Members, and we have therefore decided that hon. Members on this side of the House shall be free to vote for or against the Second Reading of this Bill as they think right.
At the same time, this is a Bill which bears very directly on the responsibility of the Government for the maintenance of law and order, and I think the House will naturally and rightly expect to be given some indication of the attitude of the Government and to be told whether the Government consider the Bill an appropriate method of dealing with the great problems created by the prevalence of crimes of violence at the present time.
As has been pointed out more than once since this debate commenced, Section 2 of the Criminal Justice Act, 1948, abolished corporal punishment as a judicial penalty on 13th September, 1948, under four and a half years ago. Before that date, the courts in England and Wales had power to impose corporal punishment for a limited number of offences, of which the principal one for 783 adults was robbery with violence under Section 23 (1) of the Larceny Act, 1916. I am sorry to quote it so exactly, but it is important to distinguish subsection (1).
The serious increase in recent years of crimes of violence against the person has naturally caused concern and apprehension, and has given force to the suggestion that corporal punishment should be re-introduced as a penalty, not merely for the limited number of offences for which it could be imposed until 1948, but for crimes of violence against the person generally. We must face that, because that is the suggestion being made today and is what we are discussing.
I think that it is common ground and generally agreed that the strongest, and perhaps the only legitimate, argument in favour of such a proposal is that corporal punishment is likely to be much more effective, both in preventing the individual from repeating his offence and in deterring others from committing such offences, than any of the punishments which the courts now have power to impose.
I do not think that it is unfair to say that so far we have not heard very much of the punishments which the courts have power to impose, and I think it is relevant to consider them, especially those which have been introduced by the Criminal Justice Act, 1948. I propose to do so as shortly as I can. I do not propose to go into the theoretical or metaphysical discussion about corporal punishment, but to try to give the House in the shortest time I can certain relevant facts and considerations.
The first is the fact that the number of offences of robbery with violence known to the police—I emphasise "known to the police" and not those on which there have been convictions, because my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Wembley, North (Wing Commander Bullus) made a point with which I will deal a little more fully in a moment—unlike other crimes of violence against the person, have actually gone down since they could no longer be punished by flogging.
I should like to quote figures, although I am sure that every hon. Member here knows them, as it is important to canalise the argument. I am going to add, because that is fair, the provisional figures 784 for 1952 which I have, and which are correct to an error of one per cent. They are provisional only to that extent. These are the figures of offences known to the police under Section 23 (1) of the Larceny Act, 1916. That means that it is known that the crime is committed, beyond the figures of those who have been convicted. Therefore, there is no question of the plea to a lesser offence coming in. The answer of my hon. and gallant Friend in advance is irrelevant to this point, so far as I can see.
In 1946, the figure was 804; in 1947, 842; in 1948, 978; in 1949, 860; in 1950, 812; in 1951, 633; and in 1952, 766. The House will observe that, although the figures for 1952—that was why I was anxious to quote them to the House—show a regrettable increase over the figures for the previous year, the total is not so high as for 1950, is substantially less than the totals for 1948 and 1949, and is substantially less than the average of the rising figures of the three years before the abolition.
§ Captain Charles Waterhouse (Leicester, South-East)
When my right hon. and learned Friend started this argument, he used the words "crimes of violence." Surely he is now referring to robbery with violence.
§ Sir D. Maxwell Fyfe
I am sorry if my right hon. and gallant Friend did not hear me clearly. I was dealing with robbery with violence known to the police under Section 23 (1) of the Larceny Act. I am sorry if I did not make that clear. I have looked up this point since my right hon. and gallant Friend raised the question of pleas to a lesser offence and, without going through a number of figures, it can be taken with reserve.
I have been dealing up to now with crimes known to the police. May I take now the question of convictions, comparing 1948 and 1951? In 1948, when there were 448 convictions under Section 23 (1), there were 45 convictions under the other subsections of Section 23, for robberies simplicita, without violence. In 1951 there were 359 under subsection (1), that is, a reduction of 89, and there were 65 convictions under the other two subsections, that is, an increase of 20. I am looking at it fairly. I hate straining statistics to bolster up an argument.
Making every allowance, that certainly does not support, but militates against, 785 the point that my hon. and gallant Friend sought to make that the reason for the reduction is that cases have been shifted out of the "robbery with violence" category into the "robbery" category. I hope that that is a clear argument. These figures are striking. The way to look at them, and to see that we are not being mesmerised by statistics, is to imagine that they had been the other way, and to imagine the play that hon. Gentlemen who support the Bill would have made with the figures had they been the converse.
It is very important, not only for our vote today but for the general morale of the people of this country, to make the point that it is not right that the provisions abolishing corporal punishment as a judicial penalty should be considered in isolation from the other provisions of the Criminal Justice Act, 1948. It was not an isolated provision. Problems of crime and criminals were approached on a broad front. The Act laid down a large and flexible plan for reformation, deterrence and prevention, and it introduced new forms of punishment. It is particularly important to note the new provisions that it made in respect of young offenders and persistent offenders.
It is no light task to summarise a Bill when the right hon. Gentleman responsible for it is sitting opposite me, but I hope he will think that I do it fairly, because I should like to remind the House briefly of its provisions. For young offenders, the provision giving power to order detention for not more than six months in a detention centre was intended to provide a short, sharp and salutary shock, and I believe that it is doing it in the one centre which we have been able to establish, and that it will do it more. Secondly, the attendance centre was to provide a less drastic means of reclaiming young offenders before they became persistent criminals. They have to report and occupy time at the attendance centre, where an eye is kept upon them.
I am very sorry, and I am sure the whole House is very sorry, that because of the difficulties with capital investment, I have not been able to secure more detention centres. One has been opened, and I hope to open another reasonably soon, and I believe that they do provide a greatly needed form of treatment for young offenders between probation 786 and Borstal, and that they can give just that pull up which might make all the difference. There are 12 attendance centres open, and I hope that number will soon be increased.
I want now to turn to provisions relating to persistent offenders, because they have been in full operation for some time, and I want to remind the House how they work. Corrective training may be imposed on a person over 21 years of age if convicted of an offence punishable by two years' imprisonment or more and with at least two previous convictions for similar offences. In fact, corrective training is not often used for people above 30, and practically never for people above 35, and the object of the sentence, in the words of the Act, is "his reformation and the prevention of crime" The intention is to try to stop those who have been engaged in crime from developing into habitual criminals, and the sentence may be between two and four years.
Then there is preventive detention, which is for periods from five to 14 years, and that sentence may be imposed on a person over 30 who has been convicted on indictment of an offence punishable by at least two years' imprisonment, who has at least two previous convictions for serious offences and who has served at least two sentences of imprisonment. Again, I call attention to the words of the Act—if the court is satisfied that it is expedient
for the protection of the publicthat he should be detained in custody for a substantial time. That means the detention of confirmed criminals for long periods in conditions of maximum security and strong disciplinary control, while, at the same time, the effort is made to do what is possible to send these hardened offenders out of prison both willing or willed and able to lead useful and honest lives.
These methods have not been neglected; the courts have made use of them. There are now more than 1,500 men and women serving sentences of corrective training, and more than 900 men and women serving sentences of preventive detention. I should like to say that I quite realise the importance and the tragedy of one point that has been mentioned already; namely, the fact that so many of the prison population are 787 sleeping three in a cell. That does not apply to these new systems of corrective training and preventive detention, because we are determined that they shall be given a proper chance to operate, but what we cannot say, and what I think it would be idle to say, is whether they have succeeded now. There has not been a chance for us to give statistical reasons, and all that I can say, from the 15 months in which I have been at the Home Office, is that they ought to succeed.
§ Mr. Harmar Nicholls (Peterborough)
Would my right hon. and learned Friend allow me to intervene? He has suggested that the time allowed so far has not been sufficient to arrive at a judgment on the statistics. Could he give the House any idea of what period of time would be reasonable before he could do so?
§ Sir D. Maxwell Fyfe
Yes. I am sure the hon. Gentleman wants to put the argument fairly, and it is a poor debating point to compare the statistics I have used with statistics where prison sentences intervene before we can have any statistics at all; but I should have thought that it would need something like another three to five years. It is a guess but that is the period which I have always had in mind.
I do not know whether people agree with me or not, but it seems to me to be right, because of the length of the sentences. Less than four and a half years after the Act came into operation, it does seem, in our view, premature to reverse the provisions of the Act about corporal punishment until there has been more time to assess the effects of the whole scheme introduced by the Act for dealing with different categories of offenders.
I want to say to the House that the fact that it is the considered view of the Government that it would be premature does not mean that we are in any sense complacent about the grave state of crime. We are ready to take vigorous measures to combat crime, as we have shown by the introduction of the Prevention of Crime Bill yesterday, and this House is ready to consider active measures to deal with crime, because, while the House will reserve all its rights, I understand that the idea of that Bill is generally acceptable.
788 I think dealing with offensive weapons is very important, but nothing short of a continuous four-point approach to this problem of the crime wave will do any good. I believe that the step I have just mentioned in attacking offensive weapons is important, and that it is also important that, despite the difficulties of the capital investment programme. I should find a way of improving the situation of our prisons and of trying to get more camps, old castles or anything that I can examine, in order to improve the accommodation, without increasing the expense, which everyone appreciates is not only a question of money, but one of taking resources from other things of which we are in such desperate need. I am trying to do that, and I am also trying to secure what I believe is the essential of a penal system; that is to get the elements of deterrence and of reformation in proper balance.
The third important matter, which was mentioned by the hon. Member for Stoke-on-Trent, South (Mr. Ellis Smith), is increasing recruitment to the police, because that comes into the sphere of prevention. As the House knows, although we have had a considerable increase in the last figures which I gave in answer to a Question, there are still difficulties in London, Liverpool, Manchester, Birmingham and Bristol, and any help that I can get from the House in encouraging recruitment I do ask for as one of the most valuable services that people can give to their country today.
The fourth point—I make no apology for mentioning it, because I am sure it is in all our minds—is that we must all do whatever comes to our hand and our opportunities to improve the weakening moral standards of our time. I believe that on that quadruple front, we can deal with this situation, and I can only assure the House that these are the approaches to it with which I get up in the morning and go to bed at night.
I want to make another point, and hope that the House will bear with me and will understand if I make some comments on the Bill. I appreciate the sincere anxiety regarding the increase and the extent of crime which induced my hon. and gallant Friend to bring this Measure before the House. I also appreciate his anxiety to bring it forward in a 789 form which will give the House its opportunity of declaring its view on the broad principle to which he has so urgently referred.
I myself have come to the conclusion that the subject is simply not susceptible of over-simplified treatment; and this goes beyond alterations which could be cured by Amendments. It would require a new approach and new thought, because the conclusion which I have reached is that it would not be possible to carry out the intention of those who have introduced the Bill by any general provision on the lines that they have proposed. I want to make it quite clear that this is not a sort of niggling attack on the Bill as not being in proper form, nor is it something which could be cured by Amendments. It is a difference of approach, and I hope that the House will bear with me while I develop it very shortly.
If we were going to legislate on this problem, I think that it would be necessary to specify the particular offences for which corporal punishment could be awarded and that it would be necessary to consider very carefully what these offences would be. Perhaps I might refer to the difficulty which arises with regard to crimes for which corporal punishment could be imposed if the Bill became law.
It is, no doubt, the intention of the Bill to bring within its ambit serious crimes of violence in general, but a reference tofelony … involving the use of any personal violence to any person …involves, to me, so many obscurities and anomalies that I can not see how it would work in practice. The difficulty is that in England and Wales crimes are not divided into felonies and misdemeanours on any logical basis. It is something that grew up with a mixture of common law development and statutory imposition on top; and it would not always be clear whether a felony involved personal violence.
Let me take one example which shows the difficulty. It is even doubtful whether that sentence in the Bill would apply to all the offences of robbery with violence under Section 23 (1) of the Larceny Act which were previously punishable by flogging. I am sure that this occurred to my hon. and gallant Friend, and I 790 merely quote it to show the difficulty. A robber who holds up a person with a gun and puts him in fear, committed an offence under that Section and before 1948 could have been flogged. But it is not clear—I am sure that my hon. and learned Friends will agree with me—as a matter of legal construction whether
involving the use of any personal violence.includes grave apprehension of personal violence. It must, therefore, be doubtful whether that robber could be flogged under the Bill. I hope hon. Members will not misunderstand me. I am not doing this to try to be smart on legal difficulties. 1 am doing it to try to show how difficult is the problem.
Let me develop it a little further. The Bill would enable the courts to impose corporal punishment on persons convicted of murder, attempted murder, manslaughter—manslaughter does not seem an offence for which corporal punishment is very appropriate in a number of cases—rape, and most of the offences which can be called felonious wounding; but it would not cover assault, including mdecent assault, or any of the misdemeanours normally grouped under the heading of malicious wounding —that is, the lesser woundings. It would not apply to attempted rape, although the degree of violence employed might be the same as in the case of rape—and Parliament deaIt with that by a special Bill as being a serious matter.
I have tried to face the problem. I am sure that a number of my hon. Friends who support the Bill are now thoroughly disgusted with me for going on in a legal kind of way.
§ Mr. H. Nicholls
My name is one of those attached to the Bill. We accept my right hon. and learned Friend's argument about the difficulties, but surely he is not suggesting that if the House expressed itself on the principle, it would be impossible to overcome the difficulties.
§ Sir D. Maxwell Fyfe
I am coming to that. I thought that I was putting it clearly. I said that I think the only way in which this could be done would be to make a complete list of offences for which we are ready to flog, and to discuss each of them. My hon. Friends who are impatient with the distinction which I 791 have made might say, "All right. Include in the Bill all misdemeanours which involve violence." But just think where we are. If we are prepared to pass a general Bill—this is the point that I am making—which includes all misdemeanours with violence, are hon. Members really prepared to vote for a Bill that makes common assault punishable by flogging? Are they prepared, without discussion and within a general envelope, to include broadly all sex offences in that way?
I am not answering the point. I quite agree that, as quoted by my hon. and gallant Friend, some of these offences are, obviously, most serious, but to settle their punishment en bloc with a number of offences, without considering and discussing what we really think about modern treatment of sex crime, is a method which is not practical. That is the point that I am seeking to make.
The other point is the difficulty with regard to Scotland. I am not clear from the speeches I have heard whether the mover and the seconder want the Bill to apply to Scotland. Suppose that it did apply to Scotland. The result would be that if they made the necessary Amendment to apply the term "felonies with violence" to Scottish law, we would have a different series of offences which would be covered by the Bill in Scotland from those we would have in England.
§ Sir T. Moore
I have just received a telegram from Scotland which I should like to read to my right hon. and learned Friend:Scottish prison officers back your plea for return of corporal punishment for Scotland. Good luck.I think that that indicates the feeling of those who are largely responsible for dealing with these criminals. Therefore, it would give a lead to my right hon. and learned Friend to introduce a suitable Bill, which could also affect Ireland.
§ Sir D. Maxwell Fyfe
If my hon. and gallant Friend is coming down on the side of applying this Bill to Scotland, he really ought to consider the difficulties. One is driven into the position again that, unless one lists offences in the way I have described, one either has a great divergence of offences in Scotland and England, or else one says that this will 792 not apply to Scotland. Then one has a divergence of practice which would be really rather astonishing in this year of grace. Therefore, I find again the greatest difficulty from that point of view.
I am sorry that I have taken so long, but I have tried to show that these are important points. I have not dealt with many other points that are left unanswered because they should be dealt with in Committee—such matters as the number of strokes, the limitations one should apply—whether this punishment should be awarded with sentences of Borstal training, corrective training and a period in an approved school. These things would require great discussion. There would be the question whether this punishment should apply to a first or a second offence. All these are Committee matters on which, after long consideration, we should have to make up our minds.
These are the difficulties and we must face the issue, which I consider is the main one, of whether we are going to embark on this sea, knowing, as we must do that it will mean a discussion of every offence to determine whether it comes within these provisions or not—because I cannot see any other honest way of doing it. Or are we going to consider again the point to which I have applied my mind—whether it is not premature, having taken it, to reverse the decision in the Act of 1948? I have no doubt that it is premature and I feel therefore that I have no alternative but so to advise the House.
§ Sir Ian Orr-Ewing (Weston-super-Mare)
Would my right hon. and learned Friend in any event be prepared to undertake to examine the methods which are now used to bring to the attention of those who occupy the bench in any capacity the records of those who have passed through their hands after sentence? Secondly, would he also institute an inquiry to discover whether it would be advisable or not to give publicity to second and further offenders who come before the juvenile courts?
§ Sir D. Maxwell Fyfe
Certainly, should be most pleased to consider those points. Indeed, as I hope the House appreciates, I am always ready to consider any suggestions for improvements in administration.
§ 1.24 p.m
§ Mr. Ede (South Shields)
In the last eight or nine years the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Home Secretary and I have frequently appeared, either first or second, in discussions dealing with the Department which he now adorns. Never have I listened to him with greater acceptance than I have today. In this Parliament I have heard no more courageous speech than the one which he has just delivered.
My hon. Friend the Member for Rossendale (Mr. Anthony Greenwood) appealed for short speeches. This is going to be the first. Because it would be unwise for anyone opposing this Bill to attempt to elaborate on what the Home Secretary has said, I want to deal with just two or three points which have arisen. I want to deal first of all with this question of sexual crimes. The inflation of the figures for violence has generally arisen from the phenomenal increase in sexual crimes. I am not convinced that in this House we have yet discovered the proper way to deal with sexual crimes, but I am certain of this —that flogging is no remedy for them, neither is it a deterrent. In fact, in certain circumstances it is an incentive.
If we faced that honestly, taking medical as well as legal opinion into account, I think that we should be very ill-advised to pass any words that made it possible to apply corporal punishment to sexual offenders. That is not saying that I do other than detest such crimes, but detestation is a poor ground upon which to base justice.
Neither am I impressed by the opinion of the judges. If this House had listened to the judges instead of to Sir Samuel Romilly, we would be still hanging people, even children, for stealing anything over the value of 1s. Never have the judges been in favour of any of the penal reforms that have been the glory of the penal system of this country during the last 150 years; and one could have hoped that even the present judges would have learned from the mistakes of their predecessors.
Lastly I come to the point which my hon. Friend the Member for Stoke-on-Trent, South (Mr. Ellis Smith) made when he dealt with every Home Secretary for the last 50 years. I was not at all sure that he was not going to say, "I will 794 make an exception in this Bill and allow Home Secretaries to be flogged." During my period of office I genuinely tried to improve conditions in our prisons. I secured permission for the erection of two new prisons when time and opportunity afforded and, as far as I am concerned, shall do all I can to support the Home Secretary in any effort which he makes to secure new prisons of a type where 20th century methods can be employed. Even if the right hon. and learned Gentleman were faced during his short period of office with a substantial reduction in crime he could not apply modern methods of dealing with crime in the existing prisons. We have to face that fact.
I have welcomed what the right hon. and learned Gentleman has said today. I believe that his analysis of this Bill is perfectly sound. Let us face the fact that we are not voting on this Bill today. If we were voting on this Bill the right hon. and learned Gentleman has killed it as dead as mutton in this speech which he has made. What we are voting on is the issue whether we believe that flogging— [An HON. MEMBER: "Whipping."] I do not care what it is called, it is the thing that matters and not the words that we use.
§ Wing Commander Bullus
Would not the right hon. Gentleman admit that there is a real difference between the cat and the birch?
§ Mr. Ede
Curiously enough, all expert evidence, including that of the people who have suffered both, states that there is no great difference but that, if anything, birching is more painful and indecent than the cat. We are voting on whether we shall say that the experiment embarked on in 1948 has in the circumstances of our times had a fair chance. I should have thought that when that issue is posed the answer must be that the time for reaching a sane and considered judgment has not yet arrived.
§ 1.30 p.m
§ Captain Charles Waterhouse (Leicester, South-East)
The right hon. Gentleman the Member for South Shields (Mr. Ede) said he had rarely listened to a speech of my right hon. and learned Friend with which agreed more cordially. I am afraid that I must say precisely the reverse. I shall not join issue on the exact difference of wording, but it should be 795 made clear at this stage that in our view corporal punishment may be desirable although flogging may not.
What we really believe in is some form of corporal punishment, and in the few minutes during which I shall detain the House, that is the theme I shall develop. The hon. Member for Stoke-on-Trent, South (Mr. Ellis Smith), who moved the Amendment, said that we must keep the matter in proper perspective and that, with better amenities, better behaviour is manifested throughout the whole country. Can he really say that when, comparing the figures of 1910 with those of today, we find that crimes of violence amounted then to 3.5 per 100,000 whereas today they amount to 10.9 per 100,000 of the population?
During that long period from 1910 to 1952 when corporal punishment, either by birching or the cat, has been decreasing, crimes of violence have increased. I hope the Parliamentary Secretary will bear in mind the fact that at no period during all the years set out in Appendix 5 of his Criminal Statistics have crimes of violence gone up nearly as fast as they have since 1947. In that year they were 7.1 per 100,000, whereas today they are 10.9 per 100,000—an increase of more than 50 per cent. What nonsense it is to pretend that the abolition of flogging can have had no effect.
My right hon. and learned Friend did not deal quite fairly with the argument of the switch of charges from robbery with violence to robbery. We do not suggest that charges have been shifted in that way. We say that the charge has been shifted to a variety of other things such as malicious wounding, assault occasioning grievous bodily harm and the like. To pick out one charge and say that, because that has not increased, our argument is wrong is completely unfair.
§ Mr. Spencer Summers (Aylesbury)
Did my right hon. and gallant Friend not hear the statistics given of those cases where the point he is making had no bearing at all, namely, cases known to the police?
§ Captain Waterhouse
I have been through the statistics extremely carefully, but the hon. Member knows as well as I do that with a mind sufficiently facile one can make statistics prove almost any- 796 thing. I am perfectly sure that I could produce a better case from those criminal statistics than that produced by the Howard League and in the opposite direction.
§ Captain Waterhouse
No, I will not. I agree entirely with the Home Secretary that the moral approach is most important. He put that fourth on his list but I put it first. The moral approach has to start in the home, it has to continue in the school, it has to go on through life. Without a moral approach to induce a right attitude in our boys and girls it is hopeless to think we shall ever reduce crime. I agree also with the hon. Member for Stoke-on-Trent, South that deterrents and detection are vitally connected. The detection of indictable crime is now only 47 per cent. It is far too low and should be remedied.
Now I turn shortly to my main argument. I believe that corporal punishment, especially for boys, is a real deterrent and is not detrimental morally. I am not referring to the old system of catching a boy, letting him wait three or four weeks before being tried and having appeals to the Home Secretary, letting the case drag on for another month or two and ultimately bringing the miserable youth to the police court and giving him a dozen with the birch. That is no good and it is not my idea. Most of us remember what we had in school. We were caught doing wrong, we went before the head or our house-master or prefect or teacher. If he thought we had merited punishment we got it, and we got it quickly, and I do not believe that any of us carried any rancour in our minds.
§ Captain Waterhouse
I suggest for the serious consideration of my hon. Friend that we should perhaps turn not to flogging but to birching and to caning. We should allow magistrates if necessary to order the cane or to send the culprits back to school to be caned. If a policeman should be too strong, put a stout policewoman on the job, but give them corporal punishment to keep them out 797 of incarceration. The worst thing we could do to children in general is to send them to homes, Borstal or anywhere else. There are specific cases where undoubtedly such institutions are of the greatest possible value, but the more we can keep children out of incarceration the better it is for the children and the better it is for the country.
I have an open mind on the question of flogging for the adult criminals, but that they richly deserve it I have no doubt. Whether it does them any good I have some doubts. Certainly I would never flog a criminal more than once. If a man came before the court a second time for a similar offence of so serious a nature, he should be put in some place from which he could never again return to prey on the public, and there he should be made to work so that he did not become a charge on the State. If he did not work sufficiently, amenities should be withdrawn.
I urge with all seriousness that the figures published by the Howard League are not convincing. Figures could equally well be produced from the Criminal Statistics to prove the precise opposite—I have them here but there is no time to quote them—that since the abolition of birching and flogging crimes of violence have increased. We are on the side of the citizen, we are not on the side of the wrongdoer. We want to reform the wrongdoer, we want to protect the citizen. It is in that sense that I make my appeal.
§ 1.40 p.m
§ Mr. George Benson (Chesterfield)
; In 1863 a Private Member's Bill re-introduced corporal punishment into our penal code. It was passed against the wishes of the then Home Secretary, who denounced it as panic legislation. Exactly 90 years later some hon. Members are attempting once again to re-introduce corporal punishment into our penal system—and they also are doing it in a sense of panic.
Throughout the country at the present moment there is a widespread fear with regard to crimes of violence. It is perfectly true that ladies are afraid to be left in their homes alone at night. They are afraid to go out into the streets. But the cause of that fear is certainly not the volume of crime; it is the extraordinary stunt which the Press have been carrying 798 on for the past two years. During that period the Press have been "plugging"—I think that is the word—crimes of violence. One cannot pick up a single evening newspaper without finding some crime splashed in it. As a result of this long-continued stunt an entirely false impression has been created, which is entirely unjustified by the actual state of crime.
Even our cinemas are trying to cash in on this. I see that we now have a film called "Cosh Boy." As a result of this long-continued stunt we have been given a wildly exaggerated picture. There has been an increase in all crimes, including crimes of violence. Nobody pretends to deny that. Unfortunately it has occurred in every country which has been affected by the war; but I say categorically that, so far as this country is concerned, there are no grounds for panic.
Let us take an objective view. We are the House of Commons; we are not merely newspaper readers. This country has a population of 45 million, and in 1951 there were half a million indictable crimes. Of that half a million crimes 6,500 were listed as crimes of violence. Instead of being grounds for panic I suggest that these figures indicate how small a part violent crime plays in our national life. The hon. and gallant Member for Wembley, North (Wing-Commander Bullus) and the hon. and gallant Member for Ayr (Sir T. Moore) talked a great deal about the cosh and about thuggery. I hope no one will imagine that the 6.500 crimes of violence listed in Criminal Statistics—which I notice the right hon. and gallant Member for Leicester, South-East (Captain Waterhouse) is reading—were all cosh crimes and crimes of violence of the type we have been discussing today.
The great majority of these crimes were comparatively trivial. The number of crimes which may be regarded as desperately serious was very small. Eight hundred cases of robbery were known to the police in 1951. In this connection I would point out to the right hon. and gallant Member for Leicester, South-East that he and the hon. and gallant Member for Wembley, North are entirely muddled in thinking that crimes which are known to the police can be reclassified after they have been reported. Every crime is classified and appears in 799 the list of crimes known to the police, irrespective of what happens at the trial or between the offence and the trial.
With regard to these 800 robberies in 1951, I want to make clear that at one end of the scale there were cases where the victim was left bleeding and unconscious; but at the other end of the scale there would be cases where one small boy pushed down another small boy and stole his toffee apple. The latter case, if it comes to the notice of the police, is regarded as a crime of robbery with violence, because there is no other place for it in crime statistics. When we refer to these figures we must realise what they mean and we must not exaggerate them.
We can get a fairly good idea of the seriousness of violent crime by studying the sentences which are imposed by the courts, rather than by reading Press reports. I want to call attention to the sentences that have been passed in respect of crimes of violence in 1951. At the same time I would draw the attention of hon. Members to the fact that since 1938 the judges have enormously increased the weight of their sentences. Continual reference has been made to the overcrowding of our prisons. The number of men serving sentences in prison at the present time is roughly two and a quarter times what it was in 1938; but that is not due to an increase in the number of men sent to prison. On the contrary, the number of people sent to prison in 1951 were within a couple of hundred of those imprisoned in 1938.
This enormous increase in our prison population is due to the fact that the judges have doubled their sentences, and we must keep that fact in mind when estimating the seriousness of crime. We must not forget that where serious crime is concerned, particularly crime with violence, the judges are not hesitating to pass very long sentences. Only a short time ago the Lord Chief Justice had before him two young thugs who beat up and robbed an old woman. One was 15 years old and the other 17. The youngster of 15 was placed in the custody of the Home Secretary for five years and the other received seven years' imprisonment. So it is clear that the courts are not afraid of handing out heavy sentences for crimes of violence.
800 I hope I shall be able to carry the House with me when I say that the really serious crimes are those in respect of which a sentence of over two years' imprisonment is awarded. I want to deal with the two largest categories of violent crime—felonious wounding and robbery. I have chosen those not only because they are the two largest categories but because they are the crimes which have been plugged by the Press during the past two years. In 1951 there were 423 convictions for robbery, or which 80 per cent. were for robbery with violence, which carries a sentence of life imprisonment. What happened in those cases?
One hundred and seventy-one of those crimes came before the juvenile court. Hon. Members may say it is a shocking thing that youngsters should be guilty of robbery with violence; but I hope they will not forget my simile of the boy with the toffee apple. Of those 171 youngsters who were convicted of robbery, 38 were discharged immediately on conviction, either absolutely or conditionally. It is obvious that there was nothing very serious about those crimes. Nineteen wore fined. One does not impose a fine in the case of a serious robbery. Eighty-one were put on probation and, of the whole 171, only 28 cases were regarded as sufficiently serious for the offender to be sent to an approved school.
Now let us see what happened with regard to cases coming before the assizes and quarter sessions. There were 253 convictions for robbery. Again, do not forget that at assizes and quarter sessions robbery can carry with it a life sentence. Of the 253 persons convicted at assizes and quarter sessions, only 170 were sent to jail; nearly 100 did not go to jail.
Let us take our category of over two years' imprisonment as a serious sentence. Only 77 persons were sentenced to over two years' imprisonment in 1951 for robbery with violence. When we take the really serious offences, with a sentence of over five years, in 1951 only nine persons were sentenced for robbery to over five years' imprisonment.
Let us next take felonious wounding. Again, it is an offence which carries with it a sentence of life imprisonment. There were 357 convictions, and I will not analyse them quite as carefully as I did 801 the robbery cases; but of the 357 convictions, only 252—just over two-thirds— were sufficiently serious for the offender to be sent to prison. If we take the criterion of sentences of over two years, we find that only 85 people were sent to prison for over two years, and of the 85, only 16 were sent to prison for over five years.
If we put these figures together—these figures for the two largest categories of felonious violence: robbery and felonious wounding—we find that there were 780 sentences; but of those 780, only 137 were sent to prison for between two years and five years and only 25 for more than five years.
We have two pictures—the picture as it is drawn by the evening Press and the picture as it is drawn by the judges in the sentences which they impose. Which do hon. Members suggest is the more accurate and more objective picture? I prefer the picture drawn by the judges.
§ Mr. Benson
I will deal with that. The fact that the judges passed only that tiny number of sentences for these two crimes of violence shows how exaggerated a picture the Press has been drawing for the past two years. Nobody denies that there are a number of very vicious and disgusting crimes committed in this country every year. The question before us is this: is corporal punishment the way to deal with them? We have had 90 years' experience. We had had 75 years' experience when the Departmental Committee reported, and they reported that they were unable to find any evidence whatsoever that corporal punishment had ever reduced the crime rate. We have had 15 years' experience since then, and that 15 years' experience completely confirms the finding of the Departmental Committee.
§ Captain Waterhouse.indicated dissent.
§ Mr. Benson
The right hon. and gallant Member may shake his head, but he cannot get away from the fact that robbery with violence increased from 1939 to 1948 when it was floggable and when the judges were flogging more frequently than they had ever flogged in any previous 802 period of this century. It increased by four times. As soon as flogging was abolished, the amount of robbery started to fall.
§ Captain Waterhouse: That means nothing.
§ Mr. Benson
It may be nothing to the right hon. and gallant Gentleman, but it is a confirmation of the findings of the Departmental Committee that the use of corporal punishment has no bearing on the crime rate.
Captain Waterhouse: There were more cases of robbery with violence in 1948, when the punishment was abolished, than ever before. As has been said, in subsequent years the courts no longer made charges of robbery with violence; they charged people with offences which were easier to prove.
§ Mr. Benson
The hon. Gentleman is completely muddled. The figures which have been provided are those of crimes known to the police. Those are the figures which the Home Secretary quoted. The courts do not compile the list of crimes known to the police; that is done by the police forces. Those crimes are compiled and entered into the register long before the case comes to court. The police authorities compile the list of crimes known to the police.
§ Captain Waterhouse: And the police decide what the charge shall be.
§ Mr. Benson
I am afraid I cannot explain to the right hon. and gallant Gentleman the difference between crimes known to the police and persons charged, but will he take it from me that there is a difference and that every other hon. Member understands it? In view of our 90 years' experience, it is quite fantastic to suggest that corporal punishment is the answer to violent crime.
What interests me about the Bill is that the birch is specified and not the cat. There was a time when the cat was supposed to be an almost miraculous instrument. No man ever risked the cat twice: that was the belief. Indeed, some people thought it was one of the 39 Articles. It was a firm belief of ninetenths of the population. Now the birch is preferred to the cat because it is supposed to kill by ridicule. The cat is supposed to make a hero of its recipient. 803 but the argument now is that the birch kills by ridicule.
Let us also put this argument to the test of facts. From 1939 to 1948, robbery quadrupled. As I have said, the judges flogged more frequently and consistently than ever before in this century. There were 279 floggings in those 10 years: and of that number, 39 were by the cat and 240 by the birch. In other words, in the last 10 years of flogging the judges used the birch six times as frequently as they used the cat, and robbery went up and up and up every year.
Yet the argument now is that the birch is supposed to kill by ridicule. Let us look at this legend. All these legends— the legend of Mr. Justice Day and of garrotting—are almost always put in the dim and distant past. This idea that the birch kills by ridicule starts with the entirely apocryphal exploits of the Recorder of Portsmouth in 1912. When other people assumed that the cat was the effective instrument, he was a heretic; he decided that it was the birch. He applied the birch, and—believe it or not, so runs the legend—within 12 months, in less than a year, he stamped something out. What he stamped out nobody quite knows, not even the author of the legend, who tells it differently every time he tells it. This tale of the efficacy of the birch in Portsmouth is another Justice Day legend. The whole thing is moonshine from beginning to end. There is not even a substratum of fact in it, and the man who invented and is spreading this stupid legend is Lord Goddard, the Lord Chief Justice of England. It is nothing but a figment of Lord Goddard's rather too fertile imagination.
Anyhow, let us just look at another argument. I do not want to speak too long, but I notice that the mover and the seconder of this Bill cannot quite agree about the state of our prisons. The mover said imprisonment was no deterrent and no punishment. The seconder said our prisons were unfit to send young thugs to. The argument is, of course, that we must flog young thugs and not send them to prison. What I want to know is this, When have these people who have decided that our prisons are unfit for young thugs to be sent to ever lifted up a finger to improve our prisons? We find 804 that the people who work for prison improvement are lined up to a man against this Bill. [An HON. MEMBER: "On both sides."] On both sides of the House, certainly.
As a matter of fact our prisons are giving extremely good results at the present time. We are too apt to decry our prisons. A very large number of youngsters—I am including in "youngsters" men up to 25, because 80 per cent. of the people convicted of robbery are under 25—quite a number of youngsters convicted of robbery are first offenders, and we are getting extraordinarily good results from our prisons by sending first offenders there. Somewhere about 85 per cent. or 90 per cent. of first offenders do not go back, and there has been a distinct improvement in these figures as compared with what they were pre-war, and it is most marked in the case of youngsters.
The argument that we either flog or that we send for a short sentence and flog runs entirely in the opposite direction from all the known facts on the subject. To begin with, robbery is a crime of young men. As I said, 80 per cent. were under 25. Violence is a crime of young persons. Anybody who examines, say, 500 criminal records will find that crimes of violence come at the beginning—as a rule; there are exceptions; but, broadly speaking, violence is a crime of young people. When we get a dangerous young thug it is, I think, fantastic to whip him and give him a short sentence. If we send him to prison for a longish sentence we are protecting the community for a considerable period, and, what is more, we are giving him time to grow out of the dangerous age. This idea of whipping and a short sentence is really too frivolous for so serious a matter.
I have spoken longer than I intended, but there is just one other point I want to make. It has been said, I think I do not know whether I am accusing him wrongly—by the right hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for Leicester, South-East that one can prove anything by figures. It was certainly said by the hon. and gallant Member for Ayr. That is not true. We can prove a lot by figures, but there is one thing we cannot prove, and it is this, that corporal punishment has ever reduced the crime rate.
§ 2.5 p.m
§ Mr. Hylton-Foster (York)
I feel very sure that the hon. Member for Chesterfield (Mr. Benson) has done a good service in this debate by analysing what really is the substructure of this increase in crime in general that is bothering us all so much. He will forgive me, I know, if I do not follow him, because I have incurred a duty, unfortunately, to my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Wembley, North (Wing Commander Bullus), whose Bill this is, because clearly, in assisting him, "without prejudice," as he said, with the drafting of his Bill, I have landed him in a lot of nonsense and criticism which, I desire to say in public, he does not deserve.
Of course, the House will recognise that the only object of introducing a Bill in this form was to see that the House this day should have a general opportunity of discussing this topic, and the easiest way to raise it was to take a non-technical phrase of the Lord Chief Justice in a speech in another place as representing the views of the supporters of this Bill, and to put it into a Clause, and use that as the test in general of that which should incur corporal punishment.
I am rather sorry that my hon. and gallant Friend's Bill should have brought him a string of abusive epithets—"barbaric," "atavistic," at one stage even "mid-Victorian." I submit to the House that he quite properly has done a considerable public service at this time, particularly in view of the amount that has been written in the newspaper and of the publicity which has been given, in using his good fortune in the Ballot to give us an opportunity of discussing this matter here and now. He kindly referred to my drafting efforts, without prejudice, because I told him that, despite my inadequate penmanship, I was an opponent of the Bill.
I find there is agreement about some things. There is agreement that we must have the kind of Bill my right hon. and learned Friend introduced yesterday to deal with weapons. There is agreement that we must do everything that we can to strengthen the police position. My right hon and learned Friend spoke of that under the heading of what is preventive. I think it goes much further than that, with respect to him. I think that by far and away the best deterrent 806 of all is the certainty of detection. That is the outstanding thing; and, in the face of this rise in crime, we could well be concerned that the strength of the provincial police is 12 per cent. down and the Metropolitan Police 20 per cent down. That is a puzzle we have to look at. I know that it is costly to have policemen. I think they cost an average of £1,000 a year per policeman on the establishment, but there is a lot to be said on the other side of the account— the cost of maintaining this vast prison population, the cost of all the loss and of all that is damaged, the cost, indeed, of the general misery that is occasioned by crime.
I think this debate reveals agreement on one other point, that if there is one thing which it is certainly bad to do it is to go changing the principles of our criminal reformation system and court penalties at short intervals. That is certainly bad. I say that only because we hear over and over again the argument that we started the experiment too soon, and that we ought to have built the prisons and the detention centres first, and all the rest of it. What the merits of that argument were in 1947 I am not concerned to inquire. It certainly is a bad argument now.
Clearly, the onus is on the persons insisting that we ought to change it to come here and put some factual evidence before the House, not something to appeal to the emotions, but something to appeal to reason, and to say affirmatively that by adding corporal punishment to the powers of the courts we shall be adding something to the power of the existing deterrents which the courts can now apply. If they made good that argument, then we would all be with them, but certainly the onus is on them, and no one who listened to my right hon. and learned Friend just now, with the figures available to him, could conceive for one moment that that case can be made out. It never is.
Emotional declarations are made about it, but I have every confidence in saying that there cannot be any evidence in support of that proposition. As we all know, eminent persons, capable of assembling evidence and using it—and using it cogently— make speeches and declarations which do not contain any evidence in support of that proposition. They 807 sometimes contain complaints about what is shown from statistics.
They contain, as in the case of my right hon. and gallant Friend the Member for for Leicester, South-East (Captain Waterhouse), a kind of disbelief in the validity of the figures and statistics themselves. I confess that, I did my best to follow my right hon. and gallant Friend, but I could not follow him. Supposing he meant—and I think this may have been what was in his mind—that it is the police who must select the charge, and therefore that the police could vary the charge from one of robbery with violence down to something else, then it is quite impossible to conceive on what scale the police could put such a charge on the facts lower than robbery, or what their object would be.
If my right hon. and gallant Friend. without troubling to remember what the Home Secretary was saying, would look at the way in which in Criminal Statistics robberies are grouped, he would find that all the Section 23 offences go into one group under the heading "Robberies." If what he was saying were true and the police had been doing something preposterous of that kind, and robberies with violence and robberies were lumped together, there would be an increase in the total. But there is not. They are lumped together there, and the fact is that in that class of crime from 1950 to 1951 there was a decrease of more than one-fifth. Do what you like with statistics, twist and contort them in every way you like, you cannot, in my belief, construct them into an affirmative argument for saying that corporal punishment ever was an effective deterrent.
I know some of my hon. Friends feel strongly about this, and before sitting down I should like to add one word of explanation, because it seems surprising to think that corporal punishment should not be a more effective deterrent. Of course it is some deterrent. No one but a fool supposes it is anything but that. But there are points about our present position which afford the explanation. To my mind, there is no sort or kind of analogy with the good solid beating some of us got at school—and I include myself in that category—which did us such instant and permanent good because it happened very swiftly on the offence. 808 Such punishment is well understood and is administered by somebody for whom one usually has respect—or a kind of affectionate hatred, as the case may be.
But there is no sort or kind of analogy with the judicial beating, before which there is the whole gap before detection, then the gap before conviction, then the gap required by inquiries as to whether the offender is fit to be beaten, then the gap provided to give time for a right of appeal, and after that some perfectly unknown, strange policeman or warder, as the case may be. gives the beating. In my view, there is no analogy.
It is a strange feature that in this increase in crime there are two definite age groups who are obviously responsible for it. There are the persons born just after the 1914–18 war, and those now between eight and 14 years old. These are sad facts, but there they are. No one who has examined the position can deny that. The first block were responsible for about 64 per cent. of indictable crimes by males in 1936, and the proportion is high now. The group between eight and 14 years of age, boys and girls together, is now responsible for one-fifth of the indictable offences. [HON. MEMBERS: "More"] More if you please. I thought it was a fifth. I suggest that that does not look as though what was wrong was something in the scheme of punishment. The cause lies deeper. I should go on for too long if I discussed that, but if one thing is manifest it is that whipping does not go to the cause, and if we do not go to the cause we do not protect the public.
There is a quite fatal misunderstanding on the part of some of my hon. Friends of the character of the young criminal of today. No one who has really looked at it, studied it and thought about it, could suppose that one so reckless, so irresponsible and so selfishly daring would ever be deterred by whipping by the birch. It is quite out of proportion to the risk he is taking now. He is not a man who cares: he is vain, ignorant, lazy, selfish—unbelievably selfish—no decent hobbies, frequenting street corners. pubs, betting houses, and cinemas, no conception of loyalty. It is a most pathetic experience to have to go and see one of these people and say, not in the pompous words of the law but in ordinary simple human terms, "Can't you see how selfish your conduct 809 is, how utterly it disregards the feelings and interests of the victim? "and to have your words and ideas obviously regarded as mere twaddle, as something unrelated to reality. That is the terrible thing we have to face.
If the House will not take it from me, perhaps I might be forgiven for reminding them once more of a much better authority, namely, the Governor of Lowdhan Grange Borstal Institution. I take it from the 1947 Report of the Prison Commissioners, because it is true of the man with whom we are trying to deal;I believe that the generation with which we are dealing and will have to deal in the next years has but the faintest conception of what is meant by honesty. truth and uprightness. Honesty is regarded as outmoded. Truth is a virtue only when it cannot be denied, and uprightness is a form of stupidity.That, in my belief, is the state of mind in those persons, and we cannot hope to cure a state of mind, or deter a person in that state of mind, either by beating or the threat of beating, as the case may he. It is a long term job. It may cost us a lot as a community. It may cost him a long sentence, but there is nothing cruel in a long sentence if that state of mind can be cured. These beings, these odd and troublesome beings, are a malady in our community, but they are a challenge to it, and a challenge which will not be met by beating.
§ 2.17 p.m.
§ Mr. Scholefield Allen (Crewe)
I should like to associate myself with the speech of the hon. and learned Member for York (Mr. Hylton-Foster), who is Recorder of the City of Hull, and therefore speaks on this matter with some considerable experience. It is not only Her Majesty's Judges who are dealing with crimes of various kinds, but Members of this House also have that onerous task, and some of us are as well able to make up our minds on this matter as the Lord Chief Justice of England.
If an impartial, unbiased view were taken of this matter, stripped of sentiment and emotion, I believe that no one could go into the Aye Lobby today after the speech of the Home Secretary, which was one of the finest speeches I have heard him make—and I heard him make some of his very early speeches, not in this House but in another part of the country. His speech was calm, dispassionate, unemotional, logical and analytical, and, 810 as someone put it in, I think, not very good English, it damned the Bill.
I would say to my right hon. Friend the Member for South Shields (Mr. Ede) that it is not every lawyer who has been opposed to reform. One of the greatest criminal judges of this country, Mr. Justice Hawkins, who later became Baron Brampton, was a great protagonist of reform in the criminal law. It is a long while now since he used the words, but I think that they were true when he used them, and I think that they are true today. Mr. Justice Hawkins said: "If you flog a man you make a perfect devil of him." I think that has been the experience of a great number of people —not judges who only see the man in the dock for a matter of 10 minutes or a quarter-of-an-hour, but of the probation officers, warders and prison governors who see the man after he has suffered the flogging.
Most civilised countries—and I think that it is true to say all countries in Europe—have abandoned corporal punishment. We abandoned it in 1948. Are we to go back on that decision today? I commend to the House one of the leading articles in today's "Times." What "The Times "said— and this is a question which right hon. and hon. Members should put to themselves—was:The starting point for today's debate on the Bill to reintroduce corporal punishment for crimes of violence should be a clear understanding that Parliament is being asked to set aside the deeply considered principles on which the nation's penal system has come to rest.That is exactly what the Home Secretary said in the course of his speech.
We now have detention centres; we have places where young people come for discipline and training on Saturday afternoons and in the evenings in their own time. We have now the power of extending the Borstal system to adults by giving them long sentences—four years of corrective training—and we have, as the Home Secretary says, further powers of passing sentences up to, I think, 14 years' preventive detention. These are very real powers. They have only been in the hands of the courts for a matter of three-and-a-half years. Those who have been dealt with in that way have not even come out yet, so we cannot see the effect of this new system upon the statistics, but I am quite sure that the effect is there 811 We did, by Section 2 of the 1948 Act, abolish corporal punishment. I commend a further paragraph from "The Times" leading article to Members of the House. It is this:Although these Ministers "—and this refers to my right hon. Friend the late Home Secretary and will, I think, have the full support of the present Home Secretary-
supplied the parliamentary driving force, the scheme of the Act owed less to any politicians than to the ripe experience of men in the Home Office, the prison service, the police, the Howard League and other organisations, who had studied the behaviour of criminals, not. like judges and jurymen, during their brief appearance in the dock, but over the years of their lawless activity or their sojourns in gaol.The magistrates have given their views on corporal punishment. The magistrates are very like judges. They see the prisoner or accused for a very short time, but the probation officers have many contacts with the prisoner and so have prison warders and prison governors. The vast majority of the probation officers are against corporal punishment.
The abolishing of corporal punishment was held up long enough owing to the war. I suggest that we should not go back on the decision which was given after great consideration of all the facts. We were told by the right hon. and gallant Member for Leicester, South-East (Captain Waterhouse) that we should ignore the statistics. That is the argument of people when the statistics do not go their way.
I think that the Home Secretary put it rather moderately when he asked what would the advocates of flogging have said if the statistics had been in their favour. We should have been told indeed that the case now for the re-introduction of flogging was completely unanswerable.
I think that we should look at some of the cases headlined in the Press. I believe that this alleged violent crime wave is very much of a Press stunt. There was a case. I noticed reported in one of the more respectable papers but not in the sensational evening papers. It was the case of a man called Robinson who came before the Lord Chief Justice last December and who got 10 years' imprisonment for robbery with violence. What did the Press tell me?—that 812 Robinson was birched for robbery with violence in 1941. It was rather one of the more respectable papers which printed that, and I searched in vain in the evening papers for any report of that particular case.
Then the Lord Chief Justice had those two young boys who had a weapon in Epping Forest. He said;
I suppose that they were brought up to be treated like little darlings and tucked up in bed at night.When the facts were investigated. it was established that one of the "little darlings tucked up in bed" was the son of a sergeant major who had beaten him on many occasions.
The hon. and gallant Member for Leicester, South-East said that he had had that sort of thing at school. When I look at him and listen to his speeches, I imagine that caning might have done one part of his anatomy good, but I doubt if it did the other.
§ Mr. James MacColl (Widnes)
Would my hon. and learned Friend also draw the attention of the House to a third case of that type in which the judge asked why a boy sent to a remand home had not been caned by the superintendent? He had in fact been caned three times and there had been inquiries about excessive corporal punishment from that particular home.
§ Mr. Scholefield Allen
I might round that off with a fourth case which came before Mr. Justice Cassels at Leeds Assizes, when he passed sentence of four years' imprisonment on a thief, a man who had a list of 25 previous convictions and had begun in his boyhood with two judicial birchings. What Mr. Justice Cassels said, I again commend to the House and to the Lord Chief Justice. He said:
What is so often claimed for corporal punishment does not seem to have been realised in your case. I wonder if you would have been so bad had you been put on probation under the care of a probation officer.In my experience—and I have some five years' experience of dealing with these cases—I am quite sure that boy would more likely have been reformed if he had not had his judicial birching but had been put under the care of those admirable officers trained for the purpose, the probation officers, of which 813 there are too few, and, if I may say so on their behalf, whose pay is too low.
§ Mr. E. H. C. Leather (Somerset, North)
To make the point clear, would the hon. and learned Gentleman confirm that none of the cases which is argued against this Bill was given any measure of publicity in the popular Press?
§ Mr. Scholefield Allen
That is, I think. a fact. The one which concerned Mr. Justice Cassels was not, I think, mentioned at all in the popular Press. I got my information first from the "New Statesman," and then I checked it by finding out what had actually happened because I did not want someone to get up today and say, "Where did that come from?"and when I said, the "New Statesman," for him to say "Oh well."
The Home Secretary gave some statistics for 1952. The criminal statistics for that year are not yet published, but I have the statistics for Blackburn, a typical northern industrial town. The population of Blackburn is 111,000. There were only two cases of robbery with violence, one for every 55 to 56,000 of the population, a very low figure indeed. The general statistics are even more interesting. There were 28 cases of offences against the person in 1948 and only 14 in 1952; there were 319 cases of offences against property with violence in 1948 and only 222 in 1952; and offences against property without violence dropped from 394 in 1948 to only 304 in 1952. Therefore, the total figure for those major crimes dropped from 741 in 1948 to 540 in 1952. I can only express the hope that the statistics for the whole country will be as satisfactory as those for Blackburn.
This Bill goes backwards. It adds more crimes to those for which whipping could be imposed. Many criticisms of it can be made and they have been most effectively uttered by the Home Secretary. The object of punishment, and the object that we sought under the 1948 Act, is primarily to reform the criminal, not merely for his own sake but because, if we succeed, society is protected in the future from his anti-social acts. We have set out to try to bring him away from crime. Can any one imagine anything less likely to attain that object than 814 flogging him in the first days of his imprisonment? I am sure there would be a strong tendency to create in him further anti-social tendencies which would make him more difficult to handle in prison and make more difficult his own reformation and the task of the warders.
I appeal to bon. Members—I wish I could appeal to all who will come in at Four o'clock without having heard the arguments— not on any emotional ground, but on the basis of firm, sound, logical arguments backed up by such statistics as there are, to give our great experiment a further chance.
§ 2.34 p.m.
§ Commander C. E. M. Donaldson (Roxburgh and Selkirk)
Whatever else the Bill may accomplish, it has accomplished one of the main objectives of the sponsors in putting it forward; it has permitted a free expression of opinion, without party affiliation, upon a subject with which the people of the country are very much concerned. It may be said that, as I represent a Scottish constituency, I should be brief and say little, and that is certainly my intention, but it has been said by hon. Gentlemen on both sides of the House that hon. Members have a responsibility in this matter to reflect in some measure the feelings of the people whom they represent.
I can say from my experience in my own constituency, that the general public has given a great deal of thought to this subject. I can assure hon. Members that in the south-east of Scotland there is a strong feeling that the matter of corporal punishment is one of some urgency, although the people there may not realise that, in its present form the Bill is not necessarily applicable to Scotland.
I wish to make a personal remonstrance against the attack made by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for South Shields (Mr. Ede) in his reply to my right hon. and learned Friend the Home Secretary. The right hon. Gentleman first complimented the Home Secretary and then followed those remarks by what appeared to be a most extraordinary attack on Her Majesty's judges. The purposes of justice are not well served when such attacks are made in this House, in the 815 Press or elsewhere, and I feel it necessary to utter my personal protest.
It also appears to me that thought for the victims of vicious attacks has been singularly lacking in our discussions. Not only in the South but also in the North and in all other parts of Britain there are, indeed and in fact, many people who go in fear by night, and some in fear by day, because young people and older people have no consideration for the welfare of anyone but themselves. Those who are subjected to this fear have a right to look to us in this House to weigh the matter up and to go into the Lobby as our conscience directs us, but we should consider them as well as those who are liable to imprisonment or such other punishment as the judges may inflict upon them when they are brought to trial.
There has been a complete lack of response to the appeal made by the hon. Member for Rossendale (Mr. Anthony Greenwood). This is a subject on which we ought not to be too hasty in coming to a decision. We are entitled to be swayed by thought and argument. While I agree with many of the things which the Home Secretary said, I believe we are entitled, as the representative of the people, to consider the feelings of those who are subject to attack. If there are hon. Members who have seen those who have been victims of razor and chain attacks, as I have done, they will seriously consider whether there has not been adduced in some measure an argument for supporting the Bill in its broad form.
The right hon. Member for South Shields said that we shall decide this matter not on the Bill itself but on a principle. I believe that to be so. My hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Wembley, North (Wing Commander Bullus) had in mind that he was bringing forward a principle for discussion, and we have certainly had a fruitful discussion.
I disagree with the attacks which have been made upon Her Majesty's judges. I also disagree in considerable measure with the attacks which have been made upon some portions of the Press. I believe that we are entitled to express ourselves here without giving thought to those considerations. Whether or not those attacks are justified. I wish to remonstrate against them.
§ 2.40 p.m.
§ Mr. Geoffrey de Freitas (Lincoln)
I am sure the whole House will agree with the hon. and gallant Member for Roxburgh and Selkirk (Commander Donaldson) that it is right that the feelings of the victims be considered. The hon. and gallant Member also said that a lot of thought had been given in his constituency to this problem. I am sure that is right, but I wonder if they have also considered the point I am about to make.
Because so many hon. Members want to speak, I shall concentrate on this one point, a point which is contained in the Amendment on the Order Paper in the name of the hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for Belfast, North (Lieut.-Colonel Hyde) and myself referring to the Convention on Human Rights. The full title is the Convention on Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms.
Let me put it frankly and say that most of us in this Chamber have not much need nor much wish to be associated with documents which contain such extremely flowery terms. It is rather foreign to our phrasing. We are inclined to look to our system, and say that, after all, we protect human rights and fundamental freedoms in this country far better than in most other countries. Let them look to us and see how we do.
On many occasions dating back to before the war, I have met continental lawyers and discussed criminal administration and justice in this country. They always praised our system, especially such aspects of it as the presumption of innocence. More recently I have had a lot to do with foreign lawyers, once or twice during my term at the Home Office and on many occasions since then. I have found that these continental lawyers and parliamentarians look to us even more today for guidance in criminal jurisprudence. Why is that? It is that during the last generation on the continent there has been so much violence, revolution and dictatorship that they look to us for leadership in a move towards the creation of a less violent code of behaviour by servants of the State.
We have known violence in this country, the violence of war, but the violence of man to man, legalised violence by servants of the State, we have not known. Consider countries like Germany, 817 Italy and the occupied parts of Europe. The Nazis and the Fascists legalised violence by servants of the State. It is not surprising, therefore, that at the very first session of the Council of Europe at Strasbourg the British delegation, and particularly the present Home Secretary who was Chairman of the Legal Committee, took the lead in drafting this Convention on Human Rights. Subsequently it was laid before this Parliament and ratified. We were the first country to do so.
Our example played a great part in leading the countries born again after the war towards a system which prevents legalised violence by servants of the State. If this Bill becomes law, they will not look to this country with the great respect that they have in the past. I beg hon. Members to consider this from the point of view of men who grew up on the Continent in which corporal punishment, whether in schools or as a sentence, is quite unknown. We are accustomed to corporal punishment. We do not realise that everyone else in Europe thinks of it as a medieval conception and a symbol of the past.
A great deal has been talked about beating at school. I can remember how surprised they were when I recounted to Continental lawyers the experience I had had when at school—a typical English public school—first of being beaten and then later as a prefect having to do my share of beating. It did not seem a terrible thing to me, but it did to those Continentals to whom I was speaking. They said to me, "Were you not degraded by it?" To them it seemed monstrous. [Laughter.] We can laugh, but we do not seem to appreciate the point that to Continentals degradation is inevitably associated with corporal punishment. I beg hon. Members to try and see this from the point of view of countries which are looking towards us for leadership out of their past period of violence by servants of the State.
They used the word "degradation," and that is the word in Article 3 of the Convention on Human Rights. That article expressly says that no one shall be subject to degrading punishment. If we pass this Bill we are telling ourselves and Europe that we are different from everyone else, and that we are going to do what in their minds is a medieval 818 degradation. Our influence is too valuable to have it sacrificed in that way, and I say sacrificed lightly because we have been given no proof whatsoever that corporal punishment in itself is an effective deterrent.
If we fall back on emotions as a justification for making changes in the criminal law, we are on extremely dangerous ground. The emotional approach is always dangerous. The first debate we had in this new Chamber on the Adjournment dealt with the subject of cruelty to animals in cancer research, and I had to reply for the Home Office. I made the point that the numbers of experiments quoted in the debate were not on dogs and cats but were on mice. I received letters denouncing me for my cruelty in not realising that mice were warm-blooded animals as I was. I was prepared for such letters but not for the one which read:Mr. de Freitas, you are cruel conniving at the sufferings of mice. You should be publicly flogged to death.I beg the House to consider that the world and Europe particularly needs our leadership today. We cannot give moral leadership by doing something which lessens our esteem in the eyes of continental people. Remember that the continental countries have had several years of physical violence inflicted by servants of the State. Under our leadership they have put that behind them and have joined with us in signing this Convention.
§ 2.48 p.m.
§ Mr. Frederic Harris (Croydon, North)
I have no hestitation in supporting my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Wembley, North (Wing Commander Bullus) in bringing forward this Bill. He has done a great service to everybody in the country in taking this opportunity to bring the matter forward so that we have a chance of discussing whether corporal punishment should be restored or not. My own position is quite clear, because I am one of the sponsors of the Bill. I represent with two of my hon. Friends the borough of Croydon, which unfortunately in crimes of violence has gone through a very difficult time during the last two or three years. There are many women in my constituency of North Croydon who have advised me, as I am sure they have done other hon. Members. that at dusk—
§ Mr. Harris
The right hon. Lady does not know what I am going to say, so that is a silly interruption.
Many women from my own constituency have advised me that at dusk they feel they must keep their front doors closed, barred and bolted, because they dare not open them after dark. That is an actual fact.
§ Mr. Harris
In many parts of Croydon, as in other parts of the country, people are extremely nervous, particularly when they are alone in their houses, to open their front doors in the evening. They fear that they might be set upon and coshed by some violent criminal. [Laughter.] This is no laughing matter to women of that kind, and it is perfectly true. Surely in this so-called civilised country of ours this is a quite intolerable position which needs most urgent consideration.
Time and again I have wondered, and I am sure other hon. Members have done so too, what one's own feelings would be if one's wife or daughter were set upon in such a criminally violent attack. From such an attack the victim may suffer a complete nervous breakdown for the rest of her life. Would anyone hesitate for one moment to agree that any such cowardly attacker should be given a thorough thrashing?
We all know that many violent criminals are cowards at heart. References have been made to schooldays of the past. I remember that in the playgrounds the bully, because of his size and physical ability, always held sway and had no hesitation in knocking smaller boys about whenever he had an opportunity to do so. When another boy who was bigger and more physically able came to the playground, the bully soon stopped his cowardly attacks because he was frightened of physical punishment. That same view is held by violent men. One thing they certainly fear is that they may receive similar corporal punishment to that which they are prepared to mete out to their victims.
In these days, far too much thought is paid to the criminal and far too little to the victim when a cowardly attack of the 820 kind which I have mentioned is made. We hear of it or read of it, and say at the time how terrible it is. Unfortunately we then forget all about it again, even though, as the result of the attack the victim may suffer for the rest of his life from being dangerously hurt. We do not think any more about it. Later, if the violent criminal comes before the court, public emotion is often swayed entirely the other way. We must always remember the fate of the victims in these cases. The criminals themselves give little or no thought to the victims of their outrages.
Our police force is undoubtedly second to none in the world today, and we expect it to protect us against these criminals, yet in the majority of cases where a criminal attack should be answered by corporal punishment the police know that the punishment which is meted out to the criminal is a long term of imprisonment. I maintain that that is no deterrent to the criminal. Today our Metropolitan Police is some 30 per cent. under strength. Certain remedies to improve that position are in the hands of the Home Secretary, such as helping with pensions, for which some of us have tried to get assistance. Other Ministers are helping with such matters as housing. These factors influence men when they are considering joining the police force. The police have a right to expect corporal punishment to be restored for violent and cowardly attacks.
I know that one must be careful not to overstate a case, but almost every day we read in the national papers or hear on the radio of some outrage in the country. Crimes of violence are unfortunately taking place daily. We must acknowledge that on this subject very sincere views are held on both sides and must be very much respected, but I am convinced that one can feel throughout the community a growing demand for the change proposed by this Bill in the existing method of punishment. Hon. Members have referred quite rightly to the Press. It may be that the Press have built up this feeling, yet we cannot deny that it is very much there. At almost every public meeting in my part of the country some 70 per cent. of those present are found to be in favour of the restoration of corporal punishment. In our capacity as Members of Parliament 821 representing the public in our constituencies it is our duty to convey that point of view to the House of Commons.
The general argument against corporal punishment is that it is barbaric, but what about the crime itself? If a criminal decides to use violence he is using barbaric methods. In this particular case, though I know it is a bad thing to say, the principle, "An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth" sometimes applies, and the criminal should be given the same medicine as he is prepared to administer to his victims. Corporal punishment was abolished only in 1948, and it may be too soon to bring it back again, but that argument does not mean anything to me. How many more vicitims have to be sacrificed to violent crimes before Parliament comes back to its senses? If only one victim is saved, it is right that the clock should be turned back. If warders in prison are attacked the prisoners responsible can receive corporal punishment for what they have done. Why should those criminals not receive corporal punishment for what they do outside prison? If anything, the public are less prepared for attack than are warders.
Much more could be said on the subject, but one does not want to take up the time of the House. I have listened to the whole debate and I realise that we may not succeed in the restoration of corporal punishment for attacks of violence, but I have not the slightest doubt that if the present crime wave continues public pressure will demand that these cowards be dealt with by their own medicine. Despite the marvellous hopes and thoughts that some of us have in theory, on sheer practical grounds I cannot see why, if an elderly woman in my constituency is knocked down and seriously injured by a violent criminal, that criminal should not be thrashed. No one will convince me that the threat of such corporal punishment is not a deterrent to a violent criminal of that kind. Therefore I sincerely hope that the proposal will be adopted.
§ 2.58 p.m.
§ Mr. John Paton (Norwich, North)
I consider myself fortunate in being called to follow the hon. Member for Croydon, North (Mr. F. Harris). He represents one extreme view on this subject, and I might 822 possibly be held to represent the other. Most of my life I have been concerned in an active way with the movement for penal reform and have been an ardent opponent of corporal punishment and capital punishment. I make that known to the House so that there can be no misunderstanding about my position.
The hon. Member has brought out most clearly and has emphasised most strongly the real division in the House of Commons in this debate. It is, of course, not a debate on party lines, because there are hon. Members on the other side of the House equally keen as I am to prevent any going back to flogging. Therefore, it is a non-party question and a non-party debate, but the hon. Member for Croydon, North, in the extraordinary farrago—I hope he will not take that term as insulting—in the extraordinary muddle and confusion of the arguments he presented to the House, has emphasised and exemplified the muddle and confusion that has run through the case presented by those in favour of the Bill since the beginning of the debate. It is really quite extraordinary that, in spite of the annihilation to which the Bill was subjected by the Home Secretary, in spite of the fact that, from the beginning of the debate until now, all the argument has been on this side and no argument at all upon the other, it is still possible for the hon. Member for Croydon, North to repeat the statements made by his hon. and gallant Friend who opened the debate.
This appeal is the purely emotional appeal, as opposed to the reasoning appeal. The hon. Gentleman talked about the fear of women in the night time to answer a knock at the door. He talked about various people suffering great anxiety in these times, as if these anxieties are a monopoly of himself or of the people who take his point of view. Every one of us is concerned about the increase in violent crime. Every one of us is concerned about these anxieties brought upon the old and the feeble. Of course, all of us share them. Why should the hon. Member imagine that only he has the kind of human sympathy required to appreciate a situation of that kind?
§ Mr. Paton
It is within the recollection of the House that the hon. Gentleman said it. There was far too little talk, he said, from those who are opposed to flogging about the condition of the victims of violent crimes, and too much consideration—[HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."] There is the corroboration. What I am pointing out is that that idea is sheer illusion. Hon. Members opposite have no monopoly of human sympathy; there is as much of it on these benches as on those, so that I hope we shall have no more of that kind of humbug.
The hon. Member for Croydon, North said that the first thing he wanted to do was to inflict a thorough thrashing, but what we want to ask ourselves—and this is the crux of the whole debate—is this: Is a thorough thrashing in any sense a deterrent to violent crime? That is the question. The Home Secretary has already today annihilated the supporters of the flogging Bill. He said that the evidence that exists would show that that proposition has no foundation whatever. I am not going to repeat the arguments, which are very well-known, as also are the facts, but the Cadogan Committee, after examining cases spread over 75 years, came to the unanimous conclusion that there was no category of violent crime which had been deterred by the application of flogging.
§ Mr. Braine
The hon. Gentleman will remember that the Cadogan Committee was convinced that the case for the retention of corporal punishment in prisons had been made out.
§ Mr. Paton
No, I cannot give way; I must get on.
That inquiry was in 1938, and it was an extraordinarily important and conclusive inquiry, but, since then, a second inquiry was made much more recently which has not been mentioned in this debate today, but to which I think it is necessary that some reference should be made. It is the Home Office investiga- 824 tion in 1951 into 738 cases of men convicted of robbery with violence during the decade 1931–40. In 1951 this investigation took place. Its result was given in the House of Lords White Paper No. 121, of 1951. This was the conclusion:The subsequent record of those men who were sentenced to corporal punishment has, as in the 1921–30 period, been worse than that of those who were not sentenced to corporal punishment. Of those flogged, 48.2 per cent. have not subsequently been convicted of any offence, as against 55.3 per cent. of those who were not flogged. And 45.6 per cent. of those flogged have subsequently committed serious offences, as against 37.9 per cent. of those who were not flogged.That was a Home Office investigation in 1951 into over 700 cases.
What is the use of hon. Members, like the hon. Member for Croydon, North and the others who have supported him, coming to the House today and presenting an extraordinary front of complete obstinacy to the facts that have been presented to them in this way? Their whole case has been founded on an emotional appeal and on an illusion, the illusion that flogging a man will necessarily deter him from violent crime. That is not only an illusion, but it is a most dangerous illusion.
We cannot buy crime prevention by flogging. We cannot hope to deal by flogging with this extraordinarily complex problem, which is presented to us not only in Great Britain—and this is a fact that hon. Members, surely, must appreciate. The phenomenon of the increase in violent crime volume is not a British phenomenon. It is a post-war world phenomenon applying to almost every country in the world. It is. therefore, a phenomenon which cannot be accounted for by some peculiarity in the British situation.
It is no good hon. Members thinking that this world problem in its British manifestation is so different from its manifestation elsewhere that we can cure it by a few floggings.
§ Mr. Paton
No other country accepts that view but ourselves. It is only in Great Britain and the British Commonwealth that this belief in flogging holds. It has been abandoned by practically every other country. My hon. Friend the Member for Lincoln (Mr. de Freitas), 825 when speaking, made the very important point that there was here an international convention, that it was necessary for us in Great Britain to remember that this country, which had led the world in so many things of great value and whose moral leadership on many points had been accepted by the world generally, was in this particular issue of corporal punishment in danger of lagging behind advanced opinion in the world.
I have in my possession a cutting from the "Observer" of 14th December last, which bears upon this point. The "Observer" Special Correspondent was writing from Geneva, where a crime prevention conference under the auspices of the United Nations was being held, a gathering of penologists from all the countries of Europe. One of the things that that gathering laid down was that Rule 25, which prohibits the use of corporal punishment, was adopted unanimously by all the penologists representing all the countries of Europe, but with the proviso that in the United Kingdom it must at present be subject to the use of flogging as a punishment for grave offences against prison discipline. They had to make an exception in our favour in that respect, in my opinion a dishonourable exception.
The Special Correspondent of the Observer goes on to say:The flogging controversy now raging in Britain is privately regarded by European delegates with astonishment mingled with dismay, and the reintroduction of this punishment, for offences outside prisons, would be considered a highly retrogressive step.So in this matter, in the true sense of the facts, the eyes of Europe are upon us. It is most important, therefore, that for the sake of the good name of this country, for the sake of the retention of that moral leadership which we have given in the past and still seek to give, we should cast our votes most decisively against this Bill today.
The hon. Member for Billericay (Mr. Braine) pointed out that we still flog for offences against prison discipline. I want to make it definitely clear that for my part I think that that is a completely futile provision which we could abolish without any real danger to the prison officers. The exception was made in that case on the thoroughly solid ground that people who are already in prison have already been deprived of liberty.
§ Mr. Paton
The result is that it is difficult to find any further effective sanction to apply to them since they have been deprived of their freedom. It was because of that main reason that this exception was made in the general abolition. I hope, therefore, that the House will throw out most decisively and emphatically this completely reactionary Measure, which I believe would stain our name in the country and would hold us up to the opprobrium of all the peoples in the world who have abandoned long ago a barbarous penalty of this kind.
§ 3.12 p.m.
§ Mr. Dudley Williams (Exeter)
I do not propose to follow the hon. Member for Norwich, North (Mr. Paton) in great detail. While he has put his arguments in the most emphatic manner, I do not believe for a moment that he represents in any way the consensus of opinion in this country on corporal punishment.
I was glad of the points made in this debate about the position of the victims of crimes of violence. I have a particular interest in this aspect because about two years ago I was very nearly violently assaulted by two criminals. I cannot emphasise to the House too deeply the appalling effect that even an attempt is liable to have on one's outlook, and the nervousness with which one goes around for some time afterwards. I have great sympathy indeed with those people who are subjected to these assaults and the fear that must haunt them for many years afterwards.
I am concerned about finding some method by which we can prevent a recurrence of crimes of violence on the part of a particular individual. I think that it will take a long time to remove crimes of violence completely from the criminal calendar, but I do not think that if corporal punishment is re-introduced we shall see many signs of people continuing to commit crimes of violence once they have been subjected to that form of punishment.
Part IV of the Cadogan Report refers to the use of corporal punishment in prisons and Borstal institutions. I refer to it because some remarks have been made today to the effect that corporal punishment is not very much of a 827 deterrent. I should like to read to the House a few lines from paragraph 75 of that part of the Report. It states;We are thus satisfied that the fear of corporal punishment does exercise a strong deterrent influence in restraining violent prisoners who would otherwise commit serious assaults on prison officers; hat no other penalty would operate as an equal, or sufficient, deterrent.After reading that part of the Report, there is no doubt that corporal punishment is a deterrent.
I am not trying to make the point that if we submit a man to corporal punishment he will thereafter be a law-abiding member of society. That is not borne out by the statistics. In many cases he will continue to resort to a life of crime. However, I say emphatically that when a man has once been subjected to corporal punishment, he does not as a rule thereafter commit a crime for which he can have the same sentence. That is borne out in the Report. Not only where it is a question of offences in prison hut also in the case of offences outside prison, he does not come back for another dose of corporal punishment as a general rule.
§ Mr. Ede
If I may interrupt the hon. Gentleman, I have in my hand particulars of a case which occurred during my Home Secretaryship. The man was flogged for an offence of gross personal violence against a warder on 30th June He committed the offence again in February of the next year. The follow-June he again committed the offence and received the same punishment.
§ Mr. Ede
Unfortunately it is not exceptional—and I speak as an ex-Home Secretary. In that case it was so evident that flogging was no deterrent that I had to resort to something else. In the statistics there is no proof that flogging has ever deterred a certain type of criminal from repeating the offence; in fact. he likes to pretend that he is such a tough guy that flogging cannot cure him.
§ Mr. Williams
I am grateful to the right hon. Gentleman for his intervention because it enables me to amplify my point. May I refer him to paragraph 71 of the Cadogan Report, where they review the records of 92 persons who were sentenced between the years 1926 to 1934 828 and their subsequent reaction to corporal punishment. Of the 92, only five subsequently committed crimes of violence against the warder. Those statistics disprove the theory of the right hon. Gentleman.
I hope I have carried the House with me as regards the fact that corporal punishment is an effective deterrent to a man repeating a crime of violence. I conclude by asking what alternative punishment exists to it? Recently in Exeter we have had some most distressing cases of violence against the person by various people. They have been brought before the assizes and have received extremely long sentences of imprisonment, one of 12 years and two or three of five years. I know what my reaction would be if I were sentenced to a long term of imprisonment for any crime. I should come out an enemy of society and nothing would reform me. because I believe that when a man has had a sentence of that order he cannot reestablish himself and there is nothing but bitterness in his nature.
If, however, a man, especially a young man, instead of being shut up for a long period during which his mental outlook is completely distorted, is given a short sentence and at the same time a thrashing, he has every opportunity to re-establish himself in society. I do not think that flogging or whipping is an adequate punishment for the older men who are persistently given to violence. I do not think it does them any good. In their case the courts have adequate powers to award long sentences and shut them away from society for a protracted period, in the hope that when they are released they will be too old to carry on a life of violence.
I believe that the re-introduction of corporal punishment will be a strong deterrent to people who think of committing felonies, and if it is confined to young offenders it will be a fairer and more humane sentence than long imprisonment.
§ 3.21 p.m.
§ Mr. Victor Yates (Birmingham, Ladywood)
This has been a very remarkable debate which has brought forth points of view which show quite clearly that, whatever views we hold, we all abhor and detest the present wave of crime. It has 829 also shown that we are all genuinely anxious to find the best method both of detecting crime and reaching a solution to the problem with which it faces us.
After listening to the speeches of hon. Members on both sides of the House, I cannot help feeling that this debate will have served a most valuable purpose if it gives to the House a better understanding of the deeper causes of crime and an idea for a wiser way of dealing with criminal offences. In one of the most remarkable speeches we have heard, the Home Secretary brought together a vast legal knowledge and a human understanding. The hon. and learned Member for York (Mr. Hylton-Foster) made an admirable contribution which gave us a very clear indication that there are deeper causes which we should seek to understand.
My hon. Friend the Member for Stoke-on-Trent. South (Mr. Ellis Smith), in moving the rejection of this Bill, referred to the Select Committee on Estimates and their Reports which was published recently. I have the honour and privilege to be the Chairman of the Sub-Committee which carried out the special inquiry. I am amazed at the fact that some hon. Members—including those who promoted this Bill—do not seem to understand the fundamental purpose of sending people to prison. When the Sub-Committee were examining the expenditure on prisons—and we had to visit a number of prisons and Borstal institutions—we had in our minds the following fundamental statement of purpose which the Home Office has issued and which every judge should understand:The purpose of a prison is to protect society against crime and this purpose is not served if the offender returns to society unfitted rather than fitted to lead a normal life and earn an honest living.My hon. Friend the Member for Stoke-on-Trent, South referred to the Home Secretaries we have had in the past 50 years. I would say that my right hon. Friend, who was responsible for the Criminal Justice Act of 1948, must receive the congratulations of those who believe in a better way of dealing with criminals.
§ Mr. Yates
I have every reason to congratulate the gentleman to whom the hon. and gallant Member has referred and whose advice I would hope the hon. and gallant Member would follow. If we read the debates which have taken place recently we must see that those who have had the widest experience in this matter are those who are advising that the course adopted by the Bill is wrong.
My right hon. Friend the Member for South Shields (Mr. Ede) introduced a Bill in 1948 as a result of which rules were made for the training of prisoners, and in the forefront of those rules is the following:The purposes of training and treatment of convicted prisoners shall be to establish in them the will to lead a good and useful life on discharge, and to fit them to do so.The hon. and gallant Member for Wembley, North (Wing Commander Bullus) and the hon. and gallant Member for Ayr (Sir T. Moore) have told us that that is not the purpose, but that in fact the purpose of the treatment of criminals is to inflict torture and pain.
§ Mr. Yates
The hon. and gallant Gentleman can refer to HANSARD. Those were the words I understood him to say. If he did not say them, what does this mean? I have in my hand a publication entitled "Juvenile Justice" issued by the National Society for the Retention of Corporal Punishment, and the hon. and gallant Member for Ayr is mentioned on one page as "a stalwart for our cause."
§ Sir T. Moore
As my name has been introduced and as the hon. Member for Rossendale (Mr. Anthony Greenwood) gave me warning that my name would be mentioned, may I make the position quite clear? Among the hundreds of letters which I received after I had introduced my Motion was one from a society called the Society for the Retention of Corporal Punishment. I replied thanking them for their support, just as I replied to the Womens' Guild of Empire and to all others who volunteered their assistance.
§ Mr. Yates
All I can say is that the hon. and gallant Gentleman should make a few more inquiries. This document goes on to say:We are doing everything in our power, but so much depends upon the support we can command. With us is allied the Corpun Educational Organisation which exists to provide teachers, educational authorities, and parents with carefully selected and manufactured instruments of correction. Already there are 10,000 ' satisfied customers.' Corpun also runs a unique literary service publishing the personal experiences of those entrusted with the care of the young of administering corporal correction and providing them with a media for the frank expression of opinion. Profits from these enterprises are ploughed back to further the work of the N.S.R.C.P.I leave the House to decide whether or not this is an organisation to which any hon. Member should be attached and whether it is an organisation which should guide us in the best principles of the treatment of criminals.
In referring to the 1948 Act, the Home Secretary gave an explanation of what the prisons were trying to do, and he explained the uses of corrective training and preventive detention. I agree with him that there has not been a sufficient opportunity to test the new methods. I was surprised to read the other day of an emminent judge—in fact he has now retired—who made a statement that no one knew the difference between corrective training and preventive detention except the Prison Commissioners. What an admission for a man who has been a High Court judge, and to whom we are supposed to make—
§ Sir Patrick Spens (Kensington, South)
Will the hon. Gentleman allow me to intervene? I rather think that that remark was made as regards the public. It meant the public had not had time to know the difference.
§ Mr. Yates
Well, he said "no one." Clearly he did not understand it himself.
When I was charged with the responsibility of visiting prisons up and down the country with the Estimates Committee, I went—and I would give this to the Home Secretary as one example of where corrective training shows clearly as the proper way of dealing with criminals—to the only prison that has been built in this century. Every other prison is nothing but a hideous monstrosity. The one I refer to is at Camp Hill in the Isle of 832 Wight, which is a prison for corrective training, which came into being as a result of the 1948 Act. There I saw a criminal and I talked to him. He was a "cosh boy." He had been committed to two prisons before he went to corrective training, and his last offence was a crime of violence in which he had used a cosh.
What do the promoters of this Bill intend to do with that type of man? They would flog him or whip him—or whatever they call it. They would then send him for a short term of imprisonment, probably to Wandsworth. They would place this man in Wandsworth Gaol on a landing with 120 prisoners sleeping in 40 cells, with one lavatory. This was disclosed in our Report. Is there any sensible person in this House who is going to tell me that he would send the man back there with the addition of stripes across his back, and that he would be deterred from further crime? The man would be more antisocial. The hon. Member for Croydon. North (Mr. F. Harris) made us tremble for the old ladies who are in fear. They are the people who would condemn him for sending the man to a short term of imprisonment plus a whipping and then letting him out to do further damage.
Now, as I have said, this man went to Camp Hill, and as a result of his training he was educated in classes. He was put to work, to a 40-hour week as opposed to the 22-hour week in the local prison. He was corrected physically, because an operation was performed by an outside specialist that made it possible for that man to understand, from the mental, moral and physical angle, that a great service had been rendered to him. In fact, he was not serving time: it was time that was serving him and the community. I say that that is the way to deal with criminals. The Governor said to me, "This man has been corrected mentally, morally and physically. He will go out and never return to crime again."
§ Mr. C. E. Mott-Radclyffe (Windsor)
Will the hon. Gentleman allow me to intervene? If he makes this inference from his visits to various prisons with the Estimates Committee, I think that to be fair, and to get the question into proper perspective, he should also not omit some reference to the views expressed, albeit unofficially, by the 833 prison officers themselves on the subject of corporal punishment.
§ Mr. Yates
I was mentioning this only as an example of what I think is good.
I want to pursue that further, to find out what kind of evidence we can collect which goes to bear out that the experiments that have been carried out have proved to be successful. I have in my hand an overseas course tour of H.M. Prison, Wakefield, which was given to every member of the Select Committee visiting the prison. Wakefield Prison is a Regional Training prison, and not only houses difficult prisoners, for corrective training, but also provides training for officers. In the introduction, it says;No prisoner is sent to prison these days to he punished. He is sent to prison in order that his deficiencies—moral, mental, physical, educational, trade, etc.—can be treated and corrected. Thus we find included in the staff of the modern prison chaplains, doctors, psychiatrists, vocational training instructors and educational experts.I bow to the very valuable service rendered by the psychiatrists and doctors who are battling against this difficult problem
§ Mr. Yates
I am sorry that I cannot give way again. I have not the time.
In Wakefield Gaol an inquiry was held. At the regional training prison there are a number of prisoners in the corrective training class, and in 1948 and 1949 an investigation was carried out on 1,100 prisoners. They found that 46 per cent. came from faulty homes, only 4 per cent. came from good homes, and 45 per cent. were of subnormal intelligence.
I will give only one quotation from the report of the Select Committee on Estimates, because this House should have other opportunities to consider this important report. I asked the Governor of Wakefield Gaol:Could you tell us what evidence you have that the extra money that it costs to run a prison of this kind achieves the result that we desire? What evidence have you got that it would have that result? Can you give us anything concrete?The Governor replied:The percentage of successes, I think, is the overriding point to take into account.I asked:What is the percentage of successes?834 He said it was 91 per cent. I then asked the medical officer, Dr. Roper,
Would you suggest that the special technique you have been able to bring to bear in the prison, even on a very limited scale, has contributed to this percentage of successes?He said:
I am pretty sure it has.I suggest that that is the best way to deal with criminals.
The hon. and gallant Member for Wembley, North said we had not provided the machinery for reform. If we have not provided adequate machinery, that is no reason why we should not provide adequate machinery. Where we have provided it, such as at Camp Hill and, such as it is, at Wakefield Training Prison, it works. In Parkhurst, which provides preventive detention, men are working only 17¾ hours a week. For the hardened criminals we have not provided the machinery whereby the Act can be adequately carried out.
It is argued that the retention of corporal punishment in prisons for attacks on warders is a reason for its introduction outside. Who would say that the power to flog in prison deters crimes with violence? Look at the violence that has occurred in the past year. Look at the recent razor slashing to which reference has been made during the past year. As a matter of fact, when we questioned the prison officer about this, he said that violence occurred after every detention board meeting. It has nothing whatever to do with the prison officers. I would not say for a moment that, because we have the power to flog in prison, it deters violence.
There is much more that we could say, and I think that my hon. Friends on this side and, in fact, on the other side have given a considerable number of statistics to show that corporal punishment does not deter the criminal and, in many cases, makes him more anti-social.
What would I say are the overriding considerations which we should have before us? What are the social conditions which produce the criminal mind? Every one of us is responsible; and we have collective responsibility for criminality. It does not matter how perverse the crime, how evil it is. the criminal is not alone responsible. Society is responsible. In fact, 835 society has produced the criminal and society must cure him.
When we consider that 16 million men, the flower of the world's youth, died in two world wars and that many more millions were trained to fight and to kill, it is not surprising that a proportion do not blossom in the way that we would desire. Punishment or imprisonment must be judged by its curative results. For that reason, I hope the House will reject this Bill, that it will turn its back upon the dark ages, because I do not believe that it is possible by the use of brutal methods and methods of cruelty to establish a Christian order of civilisation.
§ 3.43 p.m.
§ Mr. Harmar Nicholls (Peterborough)
I think that it is agreed on both sides of the House that this debate has been outstandingly useful. I think that in a last word from this side of the House one ought to try to put this question of corporal punishment, so far as it applies to this Bill, in its proper perspective.
It can be gathered that on one side hon. Members are suggesting that in no circumstances should corporal punishment be used at any time. Supporters of the Bill have said that on all occasions when violence is used corporal punishment is the only remedy to be applied. That does not represent the real views of either side of the House. It certainly does not represent the view of the hon. Member for Ladywood (Mr. Yates), because I take it that he supported the Act put on to the Statute Book by his right hon. Friend, in which there is retained corporal punishment inside prisons for attacks on prison warders.
In retaining that punishment, it is admitted that there are circumstances in which corporal punishment ought to be used. The supporters of the Bill are not saying that for every crime of violence every time someone is attacked, whatever the circumstances, corporal punishment must be applied. It is somewhere between those two views that, I think, reasonable Members will make up their minds.
I think that since the State first made itself responsible for acting for the individual in dealing with criminals, there have been three points of view. There 836 are those who say that the sole legitimate aim of punishment should be retribution. That is rather an old-fashioned and outmoded view. Others have said that the only legitimate aim is to deter and to reform and that the whole of the punishment should aim at being a deterrent. I believe the real answer is that punishment ought to combine an element of both of those. I believe the supporters of the Bill would concede that by far the biggest proportion should be deterrent, but, in a smaller proportion, retribution should be taken into account, certainly at a time like this, when so many horrible crimes are happening throughout the country.
I suggest, in asking hon. Members to support the Bill in the Division which will soon take place, that the Bill, with the Amendments which will have to come during the Committee stage, would represent a fuller and a more satisfactory law. I believe the Bill would certainly represent public opinion as it stands at the present time.
The best way of dealing with the points which have been raised in the debate is to look at the various Amendments which have been tabled, for in examining them, one sees the answers to them. There has been a charge that far too much emotionalism has been brought into the subject. Let us look at the first Amendment which has been tabled, regarding it from that point of view. The Amendment was tabled before the terms of the Bill had been decided upon, before the hon. Member for Stoke-on-Trent, South (Mr. Ellis Smith) could have known what the Bill would ask him to do. While I have every highest respect for the hon. Gentleman, I suggest that there was an element of emotionalism in his putting down the Amendment before he knew what he had to amend.
The hon. Member for Rossendale (Mr. Anthony Greenwood), who put down the second Amendment, claims respect from both sides of the House. The last part of the Amendment says:… and believes that the most effective safeguards against crime are to be found in a general improvement in social conditions, the fulfilment of all the penal reform provisions of the Criminal Justice Act, and a strengthening of the police forces, which can only be achieved by better pay and conditions.I can assure the hon. Member that he has the full, unstinted support of all hon. 837 Members who support the Bill in that statement, Of course, we want better social conditions. We recognise that improved housing and improved social conditions must be an important part of the work we do in bringing about an improvement in criminal statistics. Of course we know we want more policemen and that the only way we can get them is by making their pay and conditions more attractive. We are not asking the hon. Member to move one inch from the position which he has taken up in his Amendment. We wish to retain that part of the Amendment and help him to achieve what he seeks, but we ask him to bear in mind that there may be the few odd criminals who will not respond.
My hon. and learned Friend the Member for York (Mr. Hylton-Foster) deserved all the plaudits he got for his most effective speech. In his peroration he reminded us of the young criminal who when spoken to in an attempt to remind him of his responsibilities to society and of the pain he inflicts upon people, meets one with a stony stare, not understanding the language which one uses. That sort of appeal makes no impression on that type of young person. It might be that, in addition to the social improvements for which the Amendment of the lion. Member for Rossendale asks, some form of corporal punishment, administered after due and proper consideration by a judge. might be necessary for such a person in order to make him understand his responsibilities.
The Amendment in the name of the hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Aberdeen, North (Mr. Hector Hughes) says:… this House is strongly of opinion that the most effective means of preventing and curing crime lies in improved social conditions. improved and more general religious and secular education, particularly of boys and young persons, greater encouragement to young persons to engage in outdoor games and sport….We do not deviate from the hon. and learned Gentleman on that, and we will support him in any move he can make to give a good healthy outlook to young men who appear to be turning into thugs. We are not in opposition to that at all, and we accept that part of his Amendment, but we ask him to take into account the type of young man who will not respond to ordinary language.
838 The Motion on the Order Paper in October read:That this House notes with approval the views recently expressed by Her Majesty's High Court Judges on the subject of corporal punishment.The hon. Member for Accrington (Mr. H. Hynd) put down an Amendment to make the Motion read:That this House notes with approval the views recently expressed by the Magistrates' Association in rejecting an attempt to support the re-introduction of corporal punishment.That was a legitimate point at that time because we had just had the annual meeting of the Magistrates' Association which by 219 votes to 166 decided against the re-introduction of corporal punishment. But since that time we have had a referendum of all magistrates who are members of the Magistrates' Association.
§ Mr. Anthony Greenwood
Does the hon. Gentleman include among the people who are allowed to vote those who, by reason of age, are no longer allowed to sit on the bench?
§ Mr. Nicholls
The members of the Magistrates' Association number 9,294, the overwhelming majority of whom are on the active list, appear week by week in the courts and know what is going on. Of 9,249 magistrates circularised, 6,423 replied. Of that number 4,412 said that they were in favour of a return to corporal punishment in some form, and only 1,886 supported the previous decision of the annual meeting.
I do not want to make a bigger point of that than is absolutely necessary, but the hon. Member for Accrington, who put down an Amendment to our Motion of 29th October, 1952, attached a lot of importance to it because he omitted all reference to High Court Judges giving a decision, and replaced it with the Magistrates Associations' findings. Indeed, Viscount Templewood, who for so long has led the movement against corporal punishment, speaking in the House of Lords on 22nd October last said [Interruption.] It has been quoted up and down the country, and as it was said in the last Session of Parliament I think it will be well within the rules of order to quote this verbatim. This is what he said:Lastly, let me draw the noble and learned Lord's attention to a debate that took place last week at a meeting of the Magistrates'839Association on this subject of corporal punishment…. Anyhow, it is my firm conviction that that vote showed effectively the general view of the magistrates of the country who, after all, have before them something like 90 per cent. of the cases of crime and delinquency that come into the courts."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, House of Lords, 22nd October. 1952; Vol. 178. c. 865.]It is significant that these men and women who day after day are brought into close contact with criminal delinquency in their own neighbourhood and are quoted quite definitely as being against the change that has been proposed today, are now as magistrates voting in favour of the change.
We have had today the very effective speech of my right hon. and learned Friend the Home Secretary against the Bill. He has been applauded by hon. Gentlemen on the other side of the House, and quite rightly today we allowed him to have a transfer and we have not charged any transfer fee. I want to make it clear that we think so much of my right hon. and learned Friend that hon. Members opposite can only have him today. We want him back after today's debate for other important matters.
§ Mr. Nicholls
We have to take into account the final figure that the right hon. Gentleman gave us. He reminded the House that the report for 1952 which is just to hand shows an increase in crimes known to the police that could have been subject to corporal punishment. The number has gone up to 766. My right hon. and learned Friend said that if the previous figures had gone up we should
§ have made reference to that fact in the debate. I noticed that no hon. Gentleman paid much attention to the very significant rise to which I have just referred. Perhaps some hon. Gentlemen would have made more use of the figures given by my right hon. and learned Friend if the number of attacks had gone down instead of up, as is the case. Convictions for violence by people over the age of 21 have gone up in no uncertain manner. In 1938, the figures were 1,304; in 1949, they were 2,682 in 1950, they were 3,056, and in 1951, they were 3,088. That steep rise justifies the suggestion we make in the Bill that some additional method should be brought into effect to try to stop this tendency.
§ I would make one other point in reply to the debate. We have heard adverse comments upon opinions expressed by learned judges. Some hon. Gentlemen would have us completely disregard the opinions of the judges. When does a lawyer cease to be a person to whose views one can pay attention? Is it up to the position of recorder that he may be listened to, and not beyond?
§ I am convinced that the Bill represents the opinion of the country and that the opinion of the country in this instance is right. We should be helping the Home Secretary and strengthening morale by passing the Second Reading of the Bill. Heart and head would be working together, and I therefore hope that the House will accept the Motion.
§ Question put, "That now ' stand part of the Question."
§ The House divided: Ayes, 63 Noes, 159.841
|Division No. 93.]||AYES||[4.0 p.m.|
|Aitken, W. T.||Harvey, Air Cdre. A. V. (Macclesfield)||Nicholls, Harmar|
|Assheton, Rt. Hon. R. (Blackburn, W.)||Hay, John||Price, Henry (Lewisham, W.)|
|Baldwin, A. E.||Higgs, J. M. C.||Raikes, Sir Henry V.|
|Baxter, A. B.||Hirst, Geoffrey||Robinson, Roland (Blackpool, S.)|
|Beach, Maj. Hicks||Holmes, Sir Stanley (Harwich)||Robson-Brown, W.|
|Beamish, Maj. Tufton||Horobin, I. M.||Roper, Sir Harold|
|Bell, Philip (Bolton, E.)||Howard, Gerald (Cambridgeshire)||Ropner, Col. Sir Leonard|
|Boyle, Sir Edward||Hudson, Sir Austin (Lewisham, N.)||Russell, R. S.|
|Braine, B. R.||Jenkins, Robert (Dulwich)||Ryder, Capt. R. E. D.|
|Brooke, Henry (Hampstead)||Johnson. Eric (Blackley)||Schofield, Lt.-Col. W. (Rochdale)|
|Burden, F. F. A.||Lambert, Hon. G.||Smithers, Sir Waldron (Orpington)|
|Craddock, Berestord (Spelthorne)||Law, Rt. Hon. R. K.||Spens, Sir Patrick (Kensington, S.)|
|Crowder, Petre (Ruislip—Northwood)||Lockwood, Lt.-Col. J. C||Teeling, W.|
|Cuthbert, W. N.||Lucas, P. B. (Brentford)||Thompson, Kenneth (Walton)|
|Davidson, Viscountess||McAdden, S. J.||Turner, H. F. L.|
|Donaldson, Cmdr. C. E. McA||McCorquodale, Rt. Hon. M. S.||Ward, Miss I. (Tynemouth)|
|Donner, P. W.||McKibben, A. J.||Waterhouse, Capt. Rt. Hon. C.|
|Drayson, G. B.||Markham, Major S. F.||Williams, Sir Herbert (Croydon, E.)|
|Duthie, W. S.||Maydon, Lt.-Comdr. S. L C||Williams, R. Dudley (Exeter)|
|Fisher, Nigei||Mellor, Sir John||TELLERS FOR THE AYES:|
|Gough, C. F. H.||Mott-Radclyffe, C. E.||Wing Commander Bullus and|
|Harris, Frederic (Croydon, N.)||Nabarro, G. D. N||Sir T. Moore.|
|Acland, Sir Richard||Grenfell, Rt. Hon. D. R.||Orbach, M.|
|Albu, A. H.||Grimston, Hon. John (St. Albans)||Orr-Ewing, Sir Ian (Weston-super-Mare)|
|Allen, Arthur (Bosworth)||Hamilton, W. W.||Paget, R. T.|
|Allen, Scholefield (Crewe)||Harris, Reader (Heston)||Palmer, A. M. F.|
|Alport, C. J. M.||Hastings, S.||Pargiter, G. A.|
|Amery, Julian (Preston, N.)||Heath, Edward||Parker, J.|
|Anderson, Frank (Whilehaven)||Hinchingbrooke, Viscount||Paton, J.|
|Bell, Ronald (Bucks, S.)||Hollis, M. C.||Pitman, I. J.|
|Benn, Wedgwood||Holman, P.||Plummer, Sir Leslie|
|Bennett, F. M. (Reading, N.)||Hornsby-Smith, Miss M. P.||Popplewell, E.|
|Bennett, Dr. Reginald (Gosport)||Houghton, Douglas||Prior-Palmer, Brig. O. L|
|Benson, G.||Hudson, James (Ealing, N.)||Reeves, J.|
|Beswick, F.||Hughes, Emrys (S. Ayrshire)||Renton, D. L. M.|
|Bing, G. H. C||Hutchinson, Sir Geoffrey (Ilford, N.)||Robens, Rt. Hon. A.|
|Blackburn, F.||Hyde, Lt.-Col. H. M.||Robinson, Kenneth (St. Pancras, N.)|
|Blenkinsop, A.||Hylton-Foster, H. B. H.||Rodgers, John (Sevenoaks)|
|Bossom, A. C.||Hynd, J. B. (Attercliffe)||Rogers, George (Kensington, N.)|
|Bottomley, Rt. Hon. A. G.||Irvine, A. J. (Edge Hill)||Ross, William|
|Bowden, H. W.||Irving, W. J. (Wood Green)||Shepherd, William|
|Bowles, F. G.||Isaacs, Rt. Hon. G. A.||Silverman, Julius (Erdington)|
|Boyd-Carpenter, J. A.||Janner, B.||Silverman, Sydney (Nelson)|
|Brockway, A. F.||Jay, Rt. Hon. D. P. T.||Simmons, C. J. (Brierley Hill)|
|Brook, Dryden (Halifax)||Jenkins, R. H. (Stechford)||Smith, Ellis (Stoke, S.)|
|Buchan-Hepburn, Rt. Hon. P. G. T.||Johnson, James (Rugby)||Smith, Norman (Nottingham, S.)|
|Bullock, Capt. M.||Jones, A. (Hall Green)||Snow, J. W.|
|Buller, Herbert (Hackney, S.)||Jones, David (Hartlepool)||Sorensen, R. W.|
|Callaghan, L. J.||Jones, Frederick Elwyn (West Ham, S.)||Spearman, A. C. M.|
|Carson, Hon. E.||Jones, T. W. (Merioneth)||Stewart, Henderson (Fife, E.)|
|Cary, Sir Robert||King, Dr. H. M.||Stewart, Michael (Fulham, E.)|
|Chapman, W. D.||Leather, E. H. C.||Strachey, Rt. Hon. J.|
|Chetwynd, G. R.||Legh, P. R. (Petersfield)||Strauss, Henry (Norwich, S.)|
|Clarke, Col. Ralph (East Grinstead)||Lewis, Arthur||Summers, G. S.|
|Corbet, Mrs. Freda||Lipton, Lt.-Col. M.||Summerskill, Rt. Hon. E.|
|Crosland, C. A. R.||Llewellyn, D. T.||Swingler, S. T.|
|Daines, P.||Low, A. R. W.||Taylor, Rt. Hon. Robert (Morpeth)|
|Darling, George (Hillsborough)||Lucas-Tooth, Sir Hugh||Thomas, David (Aberdare)|
|Davies, Ernest (Enfield, E.)||MacColl, J. E.||Thomas, Ivor Owen (Wrekin)|
|Davies, Stephen (Merthyr)||McGovern, J.||Thomas, P. J. M. (Conway)|
|Deedes, W. F.||McLeavy, F.||Viant, S. P.|
|Deer, G.||Macleod, Rt. Hon. Iain (Enfield, W)||Vosper, D. F.|
|Delargy, H. J.||McNeill, Rt. Hon. H.||Wade, D. W.|
|Donnelly, D. L.||MacPherson, Malcolm (Stirling)||Wallace, H. W.|
|Eccles, Rt. Hon. D. M.||Mallalieu, J. P. W. (Huddersfield, E.)||Weitzman, D.|
|Ede, Rt. Hon. J. C.||Maude, Angus||Whiteley, Rt. Hon. W|
|Evans, Albert (Islington, S.W.)||Mikardo, Ian||Wilkins, W. A.|
|Fienburgh, W.||Mitchison, G. R.||Williams, Gerald (Tonbridge)|
|Finlay, Graeme||Molson, A. H. E||Williams, Ronald (Wigan)|
|Follick, M.||Morley, R.||Wills, G.|
|Foot, M. M.||Morrison, John (Salisbury)||Wilson, Rt. Hon. Harold (Huyton)|
|Freeman, John (Watford)||Moyle, A.||Winterbottom, Ian (Nottingham, C.)|
|Fyfe, Rt. Hon. Sir David Maxwell||Mulley, F. W.||Younger, Rt. Hon. K.|
|Garner-Evans, E. H.||Nal[...]y, W.||TELLERS FOR THE NOES:|
|Gibson, C. W.||Nicholson, Godfrey (Farnham)||Mr. George Craddock and|
|Greenwood, Anthony (Rossendale)||Nicolson, Nigel (Bournemouth, E.)||Mr. Yates.|
Main Question, as amended, put, and agreed to.
§ Words added.
§ Second Reading put off for six months.