§ 4.2 p.m.
§ Debate resumed.
My Lords, at the outset I should like to refer to a matter not mentioned in the Bill, and that is the total abolition of capital punishment. I believe that there are occasions in life when one is entitled to call a spade a spade and not "an adjectival shovel"; and this is one of those occasions. The existence of capital punishment in this country is, in my view, a blot on our civilisation and a stigma on our social and criminal system; and the sooner it is abolished, the better. However, it may not be in order on this Bill to move an Amendment for the total abolition of capital punishment, and it may be in order only to move an Amendment to restrict to 21 the age at which this punishment may be inflicted. At all events, I will take advice on the matter. I propose on the next occasion to move the widest possible Amendment, and I shall call upon all men and women who have a soul and who have a conscience to draw themselves up in the arms of righteousness and abolish this abominable punishment.
1083 Otherwise, this Bill is a serious and efficient piece of legislation to deal with a most perplexing problem, and I feel that we should be grateful to the noble and learned Viscount the Lord Chancellor for the customary lucidity with which he has explained its provisions. This is a complex problem, because crime has increased; and this includes juvenile delinquency. Before the last war there were nearly 3 million unemployed, and in those days one could understand people losing heart and floating into crime. But that is not the position to-day. There is practically no serious unemployment: good wages are obtainable by most people, including young people, who want to work. Yet crime has increased. And, incidentally, the conditions of imprisonment have deteriorated. In March of this year, 162 young persons under 21 years of age were sleeping three in a cell in Wormwood Scrubs. However, it is no good weeping about this matter, and we must try to make some constructive suggestions. It is admitted that there are insufficient detention centres, and the borstals, senior approved schools and remand homes are all over-full. It might be useful to extend and tighten up the procedure by way of probation. The noble Earl, Lord Longford, has referred to certain suggestions which have been made by Sir Basil Henriques, and I will merely draw attention to them again.
That brings me to the question of attendance centres, which were introduced, of course, under the Criminal Justice Act, 1948. There are now 40 of these centres, and in 1959, 25 offenders, aged 12 to 17, attended them. The Bill lowers from 12 to 10 the age at which boys may be sent and raises the maximum hours of attendance from 12 to 24. An extension of these attendance centres might be useful. They could be held in schools, instead of just on Saturday afternoons, and staffed by school teachers and police officers. Most of the staff would be part-time, and the whole scheme would be far less expensive than residential treatment and detention. There would, indeed, be a great saving of money—and that always appeals to me, being Scottish. As a condition of a probation order a youth could be required to attend one of these centres for two hours of every weekday for three months, 1084 making about 130 hours, and then to report back to the court, either to be discharged or ordered some other form of treatment. The effect of this arrangement is that the offender remains at home and does not lose his job. No doubt your Lordships are saying to yourselves: "Boston, Massachusetts, United States of America." It is perfectly true that this scheme has been tried there, with success, and I see no reason why we should not try the same arrangement in this country.
I should like to refer to a few other specific minor but not unimportant matters. Under Clause 1 the present requirement is that the Prison Commissioners should supply a report as to suitability for borstal training. It is suggested that this may be inadequate, and that no offender under the age of 21 should be committed to any form of institutional training unless the court has first considered a full social and medical report on him. Under Clause 4 (which refers to committal to a detention centre) there is at present no statutory requirement for any report to be made. It is suggested that an adequate social and medical report should be made, as where an offender has been considered for borstal treatment.
Clause 5 deals with detention in a remand home. It is suggested that this should be completely abolished. Clause 7 deals with length of detention: it provides that a young person should be detained in a detention centre for consecutive sentences far a total term which shall not exceed nine months at a time. It is suggested that six months is the maximum term which should be served. Under Clause 15, which deals with temporary removal from an approved school, the maximum time for which a young person should be detained in a police cell is 48 hours. It is suggested that the maximum time should be 24 hours.
Those a re only a few minor points. The major point is the abolition of capital punishment, and although I may be the only person in your Lordships' House who is in favour of abolishing capital punishment—
—I intend on the next occasion to move an Amendment for that purpose, and I call upon everybody who has soul to support me.
§ 4.8 p.m.
THE LORD BISHOP OF EXETER
My Lords, I think I ought to explain why I was not in the Chamber when this Bill was introduced, and to apologise to your Lordships. The reason is that I was across the way in the Home Office attending a meeting of the Advisory Council, to which certain matters connected with this Bill have recently been referred, including that to which the noble Earl, Lord Longford, made such extensive reference—namely the question of a non-residential, non-custodian treatment of young offenders. That is a principle with which I should imagine everybody could have nothing but sympathy, though it is one which seems to me, at first sight at least, to present a number of technical difficulties, into which I will not go at this stage. Certainly I hope that the Advisory Council may find it possible to give some pleasure to the noble Earl when they finally make their recommendations: but as to that, I cannot say.
By and large, and in principle, I think this Bill is one to be welcomed and one upon which the Government are to be congratulated. No doubt it is capable of improvement in details, and no doubt it will be by your Lordships so improved. It is to be commended, in particular, for these four features. First, for the extention of the compulsory after-care to cover large numbers of other prisoners; secondly, for the emphasis which is placed in the Bill on detention centres, remand homes and remand centres; thirdly, for the express determination as soon as possible to get rid of all short prison sentences for young people; and, fourthly, for the increased penalties—increased in their severity—which the Bill includes. As to that, I should like to say a word.
There is, I think, a wide feeling in the country that over recent years so much attention has been given to the deterrent quality of punishment and to its reformative object, that the first and primary element in all punishment has tended to be neglected, or at least to be under-emphasised. That first and primary aspect of punishment was called by our forefathers by the perhaps rather unfortunate word "vindictive", which, of course, suggests to us an element of revenge. That, however, was not, and is not, its meaning. The translation of the Latin word vindicta simply connotes 1086 that essential element without which, whatever treatment is accorded to an offender, simply is not punishment. It is that element of unpleasantness, as the noble Earl called it, or of suffering which is in some way due from the offender to the society against whose laws and morality he has offended. Without that element in punishment, there is no moral distinction between the treatment of a criminal and the treatment of a patient in a hospital, whether for physical diseases or for mental diseases. Without this element of the vindictive, the repayment of that which is due, it would obviously be only common sense to treat all criminals as one treats hospital patients, and to keep them in prison as one keeps a patient in hospital until he is cured. That, however, would be a manifest offence against justice.
The whole concept of punishment, therefore, requires that there be this element. Indeed, I think your Lordships will agree, on reflection, that punishment never becomes effectively reformative unless and until it is accepted by the criminal upon whom it is inflicted as being in some sense due from him. It is only at the stage at which he is prepared at least to consider that the treatment which he is receiving is in some sense meditative, that we begin to get that essential element of cooperation from him without which no reform can be achieved. It is the prime business of Governments, and of the legal officers of Governments, to arrive at the just penalties for various classes of offences. They must be neither too heavy nor too light. If they are too heavy they will not be accepted as just: they will be resented, and they will cause sullenness and rebellion. But if they be too light, certain unfortunate consequences will ensue.
It is, after all, only natural that ordinary people should tend, if not to pass their moral judgment, at least to consider, in forming their moral judgments, the fact of the standards of penalties in force as representing, on the one hand, the objective gravity of the offence and, on the other, the extent of social disapproval of behaviour of that kind. Therefore, to get the penalties wrong and to make them too light is inevitably to suggest that the offence is less grave than in fact it is, and that the social disapproval is less marked than in fact it 1087 is; and so, in the end, one confuses the moral standards and judgment of the people.
In applying these penalties when a decision about them has been reached, it is necessary to take into account not only the gravity of the offence but also the degree of responsibility on the part of the offender for his action. This is often a matter of extreme difficulty, and the fact that we now realise far more than used to be realised that there is such a thing as diminished responsibility, and that not all criminals are equally responsible and guilty for their offences, means that we require in our penal system as great a flexibility in the imposition of penalties as we can possibly arrive at. It also means that those who are charged with the duty of pronouncing sentence must have at their disposal as much knowledge of each individual case as can be offered to them. But how that can be done, how adequate reports on the medical and family history of each prisoner can be placed before a sentencing judge or magistrate without causing an intolerable delay in the beginning of the sentence, I have no idea.
It may be thought that the penalties envisaged by this Bill go too far in the direction of severity. I do not myself think so, and I am very glad indeed that there is no provision made within this Bill for the reintroduction of corporal punishment. The arguments for corporal punishment, and the arguments, such as they are, against it, are well known to us all, and I do not propose to go through them this evening, though if an Amendment were unhappily to be tabled, I should be very glad again to enter the fray and to marshall the arguments against reintroduction of corporal punishments as strongly as I can—but not to-night.
To-night I will content myself with only three more points. The first is that, with the passage of this Bill, the urgency of completing the building of the detention centres and of considerably increasing the number of remand homes and remand centres will become extremely pressing. Under this Bill many young offenders will have to be sent to prison on remand, because there are no remand homes and no remand centres to take them. My second point is that under this Bill, with the extension of 1088 compulsory after-care, which I so greatly welcome, the burden which will fall upon the existing probation services will be one which they cannot possibly be expected adequately to discharge at the very high level of service which they render at the present time. They will have a case list which is quite beyond their discharge, and either they will break down or their standards will drop.
I hope that the Government are acutely aware of the immediate necessity of recruiting extensively into the probation services and, I should imagine, of improving the conditions of service, and so attracting the best people into this kind of work. I hope, too, that not all the after-care work will fall upon the probation services. I hope that room will continue to be found for the voluntary societies, though these are at the moment, I think, even weaker, so far as personnel goes, and certainly weaker, so far as training goes, than the probation services. So there will be an obvious case for the diversion of yet more pubic money to the support and encouragement of the voluntary societies to enable them to give a more adequate training to their workers.
Lastly, I would say one word about the powers which the Home Secretary will take under this Bill to issue directions to the managers of the approved schools. I hope very much—and I was very cheered by what the noble and learned viscount the Lord Chancellor had to say about this—that any powers which the Home Secretary exercises in this respect will be so used as to leave the maximum amount of discretion and responsibility to the managers, whether they be the managers of wholly independent schools or managers of schools under the local authorities. It is, in my judgment, absolutely vital to the good work of the approved schools that there should be for every one of them a body of managers, locally recruited from persons of sufficient leisure, sufficient public spirit and sufficient sympathetic understanding, to be able to enter into the schools and take a personal care and interest for the children in attendance at those schools. I have some experience of one such school, where the boys are divided, with a prescribed number made the personal responsibility of each one of the managers. The managers visit the school, speak with the boys who are 1089 their especial responsibility and take a personal care and interest in them; and they even make plans for their future after release. I believe that if we could ensure that for every approved school there would be managers prepared to take this personal interest in the children, the results would be even more impressive than they are. But we shall not get the right kind of person coming forward to act as manager, and to give all his time and care to the work, if he is robbed of all responsibility and discretion. With those reservations, my Lords, I am happy to commend this Bill.
§ 4.23 p.m.
§ LORD AILWYN
My Lords, I confess I find this Bill disappointing, not because of what is contained in it, but because of what is left out of it. I think the Bill is admirable, so far as it goes; but it ignores the imperative need, as I see it, for drastic remedial action to combat this rising volume of violent crime. I find a lack of urgency in this Bill. Any stranger who read this Bill through for the first time would think there was nothing very much wrong with the state of crime in this country at the present time, and certainly nothing to be alarmed about. I do not say for a moment that there is complacency in the Government's general approach, but I do miss that sense of urgency which I think we ought to have at the present time.
These figures of violent crime are frightening, and we have just heard of a further considerable increase in current statistics; and we are much indebted to the noble Earl, Lord Longford, for asking that Question. The latest official statistics we have are those for 1959, which we have all, I have no doubt, read through at different times; and pretty grim reading they make. I want particularly to draw attention to two forms of crime in these statistics: one is violence against the person, and the other is sexual crimes. The number of cases of violence against the person rose from 1,583 in 1938 to 7,079 in 1957 to 9,148 in 1959. The number of sexual offences rose from 2,300-odd in 1938 to 5,600-odd in 1957 to 6,161 in 1959. To-day we have heard that in most of those—all except sexual offences—the increases in current numbers are about 10 per cent. What one finds so distressing is that, if 1090 my arithmetic is correct, about 40 per cent. of the cases of violence and 35 per cent. of the sexual offences were perpetrated by persons under 21 years of age.
For 13 years no court has been permitted to sentence a person to corporal punishment. For 13 years even schoolmasters when wielding a cane have been conscious of a certain risk of being summoned for assault. I came across a case only the other day, where the enraged parent went hot foot to the headmaster of the school where his son had been given a jolly good caning the day before, and threatened him with action. Fortunately, the Home Secretary has come out just recently with some very welcome forthright remarks extolling the use of the cane by both parent and teacher alike. There has been no flogging for 13 years, and there has been a steadily rising volume of crime, lawlessness and thuggery.
I followed with great interest the deliberations of the Standing Committee in another place on this Criminal Justice Bill. I was particularly intrigued with the eleventh and twelfth sittings of that Committee, when the honourable Member for Ayr proposed a new clause incorporating a sentence of corporal punishment for offenders under the age of 21. I can only express my amazement that after this clause had been discussed for four or five hours the honourable Member succeeded in getting only six votes, including his own, in favour of the proposition, while 26 voted against. Frankly, I was flabbergasted. I do not know whether the honourable Member was correct when he stated that he thought about 80 per cent. of our adult population were in favour of the restoration of corporal punishment. I should not be surprised if that was an under-statement. All I know is that certainly 90 to 95 per cent. of those I have asked are unhesitatingly in favour of corporal punishment being restored.
The Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department said at that Committee (col. 522 of the Report of the Committee):Judicial corporal punishment is out of line with modern penal methods and it would militate against the success of reformative treatment.With great respect to the honourable and learned gentlemen, have you ever heard 1091 such rubbish! Does he realise that we are in the middle of the greatest crime wave of the century? Reformative treatment, of course, is a desirable thing: nobody denies that. But we are not going to check, let alone reduce, the crime wave that is afflicting the country at the present time by relying exclusively on any such idealistic treatment. Surely idealism must be reasonable and practicable and discriminating; it must not be allowed to shut out all vestiges of realism. Is it not obvious that more active, drastic measures are required? And the absence of any such proposal in this Bill frankly alarms me. I believe that the old saying:Spare the rod, spoil the childis profoundly true. I believe that this "Cissy" treatment of young thugs and hooligans is utterly wrong. You are not thereby reclaiming the young criminal; you are ruining him. You are not reforming him; you are edging him towards the precipice of serious crime and the shadow of the gallows. I believe that the situation is far too serious to go on dallying with, and being content to rely on, this so-called reformative treatment.
And where does the chief fault lie? Not in these stupid, irresponsible, undisciplined boys and girls themselves, but in us adults, their elders, in allowing such a situation to develop over these post-war years; and, above all, my Lords, with their parents. There, in my opinion, lies the root of the trouble. There is the festering sore of this juvenile crime. Parents have largely relinquished their duty towards their young children and are content to leave them to look after themselves. If I had my way, I would introduce a law forbidding mothers with young children to leave them all day alone and go out to work. Surely a woman with a husband at work should remain at home and look after her children. I would go further. I would make the payment of these bonuses, or bounties, or whatever they call them, of 8s. a week for the second child and 10s. a week for every succeeding child, conditional on the mother remaining at home and bringing up her children in the way they should go.Train an a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it",1092 says the Book of Proverbs—a little optimistic, your Lordships may think; but it is the right principle. In the vast majority of cases, with wages at their present level, there is no need for both parents to go out to work, and there is every need for young children to be under parental control. Can anybody reasonably doubt that some such measure as I have indicated would bring about an improvement in the existing deplorable situation so far as juvenile crime is concerned?
Before I leave this question of the restoration of corporal punishment, let me say that I am firmly of the opinion that it would, in fact, act as a deterrent to violent crime, although I know that abolitionists hold the contrary opinion. I am not forgetting the Cadogan Report which I have browsed through and through. But the Cadogan Report was published in 1937–38–23 years ago; and circumstances and conditions were very different at that tme. The very fact that corporal punishment is retained in Her Majesty's prisons for infliction in certain cases of violence against prison warders and so on, would appear to indicate that there is recognised to be a deterrent value there. Why this punishment of flogging should be so strenuously opposed by the Home Secretary and his advisers is a mystery to me. Having been brought up in the hard way myself, as no doubt have most of your Lordships, and having borne many stripes, my surprise is perhaps not unnatural. Beating has never done anyone any harm, and in countless cases has done a power of good. The only objection I see to a judicial sentence of whipping (as they like to call it) is the delay in admistering the punishment. Of course it ought to be carried out at once, but time has to elapse, apparently, while an appeal is pending, and I can see the difficulty there. But I wonder whether it is insurmountable. I look forward to hearing any comments on this subject from my noble and learned friend the Lord Chief Justice and perhaps from other noble Lords.
Let nothing that I have said, and nothing that I have yet to say, be thought to imply that I have anything but the greatest respect and admiration for the right honourable gentleman, the Home Secretary. My only quarrel with him is that he is too kind-hearted. In the triple 1093 crown that he wears with such distinction—Home Secretary, Leader of the House of Commons, Chairman of the Conservative Party, added to which, of course, he holds the unofficial but none the less arduous post of Deputy Prime Minister—the burden, I should have thought, was well-nigh unbearable, accentuated by the fact of the right honourable gentleman's well-known extreme conscientiousness in all that he undertakes. Nevertheless, I believe that he is wrong in thinking that we can overcome the present crime wave without drastic alterations in the existing law.
My Lords, I have not finished yet. There is just one word that I would say on the working of the Homicide Act. I realise that this is perhaps going a little way from the Bill, but it has been mentioned by the noble Earl opposite and by the noble Lord, Lord Meston, who I am sorry to see is not in his place. There is no doubt that there is general anxiety in the country, a growing apprehension, over this matter of capital punishment. There have been a number of manifestations of public disquiet, at meetings and gatherings of different kinds and letters to the Press. People are disturbed.
Your Lordships will remember that the Homicide Act, 1957, rules that the death penalty may be inflicted for crimes of capital murder but not for non-capital murder. The Silverman Bill of 1956, which sought abolition of capital punishment, had passed through all its stages in another place but was firmly rejected here in your Lordships' House. The Homicide Act was brought in as a compromise measure, designed to bridge the gulf between the abolitionists and the retentionists. I think that is a fair description of it. Whether it has fulfilled that function or not is difficult to say. What it certainly has not done is to stop, or even to check, the ever-increasing volume of violent crime. For that reason, I cannot help thinking that if any bridging of that gulf has been achieved it is probably in the direction of the abolitionists coming a little nearer to the views of the retentionists. I would certainly expect that.
Nothing will make me believe that the death sentence is not a deterrent. I have read with great care the Report 1094 of the Royal Commission on Capital Punishment. I am one of those, I am afraid, who do not base my support for capital punishment solely on the deterrent value, but on the basis also of retributive justice. I believe that people who are found guilty of murder of any kind should be put to death. I myself believe that persons found guilty of certain other revolting and diabolical crimes against humanity should also be hanged—but this is not the occasion for raising an issue of that sort. I believe that the time has come to reconsider the bisection of the crime of killing into capital and non-capital murder, and that the courts should be empowered to sentence to death all killers, other than those convicted of manslaughter. I believe that this amendment of the Homicide Act is overdue.
I hope that nobody will dub these propositions of mine as panic legislation; one has given them much thought in the light of the steadily worsening crime situation. I wonder why abolitionists as a whole are so obsessed, or appear to be so obsessed, with the welfare and the protection of the criminal. And why do they appear to give the impression of indifference, and even callousness, towards the victim? Why are they determined to give solace and comfort to the malefactor, yet refuse sympathy and compassion and justice to the injured party, or to his or her sorrowing relatives?
§ THE EARL OF LONGFORD
My Lords, I realise that the noble Lord is speaking with great conviction, from the depths of long-pondered views, but I really hope, considering there are quite a number of abolitionists in this House who are known to him personally, that he will withdraw the suggestion that they are not concerned about the victim. The noble Lord must know that that is untrue, and I hope he will withdraw it.
§ LORD AILWYN
My Lords, the last thing I want to do is to make any kind of accusation, but I do ask why, in their general action and general approach towards this question, those people appear to have more thought for the criminal than for the wretched relatives of the victim who are left behind. I am not making any attack. The noble Earl must know that.
§ THE EARL OF LONGFORD
My Lords, I do not know it and I am afraid that what the noble Lord has said, as he will see when he reads it in Hansard, must be regarded as an attack on those ladies and gentlemen concerned, in that they are very active in public life, in the country and in this House and are completely within the power of the House to be cross-examined at any time. No-one has higher standing in this House than the noble Lord, but I resent any suggestion that abolitionists are not concerned for the victim.
§ LORD AILWYN
My Lords, I should not like the noble Earl to think I was making any attack. I believe I am a reasonably fairminded person, and I am certainly far from being a sadist. Perhaps I get the wrong impression.
§ LORD AILWYN
My Lords, I have almost finished. I find that no sooner is a man found guilty of a crime by the ordinary processes of trial by jury, no sooner is he sentenced by the Judge in accordance with the existing law, than forthwith a hue-and-cry develops to show cause why the law should not take its course—owing to misdirection by the Judge to the jury, to the fact that the true facts of the case were never divulged, or, worst of all, to the fact that there was misconduct of some kind by the police. I say "worst of all", because of all sections of the community to-day the police force, overworked and undermanned, are, in my judgment, the most deserving of support, sympathy and understanding in their almost superhuman tasks in the detection and suppression of crime; instead of which we find increasing numbers of cases of vindictiveness and grossly unfair charges levelled against them. I am not so foolish as to suppose that there are not saints and sinners in the police force, just as There are saints and sinners in your Lordships' House, but I regard it as intolerable that among certain sections of the country it has become fashionable to harry the police and to associate in witch-hunting and determination to brand them as inhuman and dishonest in the way they carry out their duties. I can only say that I believe such action to be the gravest disservice to the nation.
1096 I have kept your Lordships too long. I had hoped to say something on the question of these terrible cases of rape and violation of young children, and my regret at there being no reference to these horrors in the Bill. I hope some other noble Lord will refer to these questions and the urgent need of some positive action to combat the rising incidence of these savage and bestial crimes. I realise that I have strayed a little from the normal Second Reading speech, for which I apologise, and I am grateful to your Lordships for your indulgence. What I have been trying to say is that we are in a jam and I do not see that the provisions of this Bill are going to take us very far along the road in getting us out of this jam.
§ 4.45 p.m.
§ LORD MORRIS OF BORTH-Y-GEST
My Lords, I am very conscious that your Lordships are to-day concerned with many matters that are of great consequence to our country and with many problems that are vexing all who are concerned for her welfare. We know of the rate of increase of crime in recent years. Taking the years 1954 and 1959 alone, I understand that the rate of crime among males in the age group 14 to 17 was nearly half as much again in 1959 as in 1954. If we take the age group between 17 and 21, the rate, in the latter year, was almost double that of 1954. There appears to be not only in this country but in some other countries as well, a malaise affecting some—but most emphatically only some—groups of younger people.
No one could be indifferent to the anxieties and, indeed, to the disappointments that that state of affairs arouses. Conscious of all that, I welcome this Bill and I hope that your Lordships will endorse the principle and the line of approach that the Bill enshrines. While we should all wish to endow the courts with all necessary and desirable powers, I sometimes feel that we ought to guard against thinking that if we do that, then the major responsibility for the prevention of crime passes to the courts alone. It is a few years now since I had the responsibilities of a Judge of Assize. I have had for many years, and continue to have, those of a chairman of quarter sessions. When we see someone in the dock convicted of offences passing beyond the minor ones (and I speak now of 1097 young people), something has already gone wrong. There may have been a failure in the home or the school or there may be a complete lack of the anchorage of any beliefs. There may have been the misfortune of being denied good influence in those years when, in the case of anyone, that is so desirable.
The courts cannot as if by magic suddenly bring it about in any particular case that the trends of a recent period should be reversed. Our penal system is not a kind of flood-gate which the courts can operate and, merely by doing so, by themselves control the flood of crime. The reason why I welcome this Bill and why I very much hope that it will meet with your Lordships' favour is that I believe it provides—and I am speaking mainly in regard to young people—measures of punishment which have deterrent potency while at the same time combining the best reasonable hope of being able to achieve some improvement in the person concerned. When we see a young man in the dock, it is a sad and grievous thing to send him to prison for the first time. We struggle and struggle against that, consistently with our public duty.
I think that this Bill combines a deterrent effect with a reasonable possibility of achieving redemption of the person concerned. A great writer on criminal law, Chitty, many years ago wrote thatThe object of prosecutions is not vengeance for the past but safety for the future.In considering safety for the future we must certainly consider the safety of potential victims, the possible victims of the future, of force, of brutality, of dishonesty and of all the manifestations of conduct that can strike fear into those who are entitled to be protected. How, then, can a court best deal with a case? A young man is a member of our community and is for many years ahead to remain a member of our community. I would submit to your Lordships that in this Bill we see an approach of providing punishment that is certainly not mild or easy, but punishment that at least holds out a reasonable hope of being able, in proper cases, to see that for the future there may be a change.
I most wholeheartedly welcome those provisions of the Bill providing for after-release supervision. At quarter sessions, 1098 before we even begin the business of a new sessions, we go through the reports of the probation officers in the case of those whom we have put on probation. We remember the cases, the facts; we remember our anxieties as to whether we were doing the right thing; and we read through those reports with much concern. Such knowledge as I have of the work of probation officers, the wholly admirable and dedicated work of probation officers, leads me to think that provisions for after-care supervision should be fruitful, of great advantage. My Lords, when a court of law is able to take a course that has the result that someone, instead of being for the future an enemy of society, becomes a useful member of it, then the law has its finest hour.
§ 4.53 p.m.
My Lords, I understand that my noble and learned friend Lord Morris of Borth-y-Lest has just addressed the House for the first time. If so, I should like to say that I think your Lordships are always pleased when one of the distinguished Judges who are Members of this House gives his advice on matters connected with the administration of justice, and I hope that my noble friend will make it a habit to do so.
When I addressed your Lordships on this subject a year ago, I expressed the hope that the Government would not be stampeded by the Durand Report into making unnecessary changes in the law. I would not describe this Bill as a stampede, but there are a number of provisions that seem unsatisfactory to those concerned with juvenile delinquency. In the first place, there is the reduction in the age of admission to borstal from 16 to 15. I think there are many objections to that. One of them is this. As I understand it, borstal has not provision for educating boys. Boys of 15 are, of course, still schoolboys and they come under the Education Act and have to be given full-time education. I understand that borstal has no facilities for giving them full-time education, and if the clause concerned is carried into effect we shall have to start schools, which will in fact be approved schools under another name and under another authority.
1099 The next provision to which I should like to call your Lordships' attention is in Clause 1, where it is provided that a borstal sentenceshall not be passed on a person who is under seventeen years of age on the day of his conviction unless the court is of opinion that no other method of dealing with him is appropriate.I should have thought that that was the duty of every court in every case. I have been for 33 years chairman of a bench of magistrates, and in no case did I pass sentence, or be a party to the passing of a sentence, unless I was satisfied that there was no other way of dealing with the case that was more appropriate. I should have thought that if it was necessary to give some advice to the courts, it should be more specific.
I pass to Clause 15, the clause that deals with approved schools and with the question of the police. It is there provided that a boy cannot be removed to an approved school by a magistrates' order, except by a policeman. Of course, every school depends for its success on the respect which the pupils have for the staff. The staff of every approved school contains a number of able-bodied men, and that they, individually or collectively, should be considered incapable of dealing with any single boy seems to me calculated to destroy the respect the boys have for the staff. That is not all. The boys at an approved school are generally unhappy boys and boys who come from bad homes. Many of them are illegitimate. Some have fathers in prison; some have fathers who have deserted their mothers; some have stepfathers with whom they are on bad terms. The success of the treatment at an approved school depends on its having, as a substitute for the father, some member of the staff who can manage the school in a proper way so that it shall be, so far as is possible, like a happy home. Of course, it cannot be quite like that. But the noble and learned Viscount, I was pleased to see, was cheered when he visited an approved school; and I do not think he would have been if he had found a policeman there. I think that the whole idea of bringing policemen into approved schools is quite wrong.
Then we have a provision about police stations. A boy may be kept for 48 hours in a police station. In these days it is 1100 not the custom to keep people for long in police stations, because if they are not given bail very speedily they are sent to prison on remand to await their trial. I do not say that it is impossible to keep a person in a police station for 48 hours, but there is nobody at a police station whose business it is to look after an unhappy boy for that time. Then we come to remand centres and remand homes, to which these boys who are removed from approved schools may be sent. I do not know anything about remand centres, but I know a remand home in my own county. I have here a cutting from last week's local paper, in which it says that a committee of the county council have been inquiring into complaints by local inhabitants about the behaviour of boys who abscond from the remand home. These complaints are justified, my Lords. The fault is not that of the superintendent, who is very competent. But the remand home is a villa on the side of a main road. It is quite unsuitable as a place of detention for boys who are too tough for an approved school. Then, Clause 15 says that the Secretary of State may order that a boy shall be returned to the school from which he was removed. I wonder to whom that is going to do any good.
I turn from that to the powers given to the Secretary of State under Clause 18. I do not complain that the Secretary of State should have these powers: I think it is proper that he should. He is responsible, and he must have the power to enable him to fulfil that responsibility. But it is provided by subsection (2) that where he is not satisfied with the managers he may withdraw his certificate of approval. Of course, he has that power now in certain cases, and he has sometimes exercised it. When, in the past, he has withdrawn his certificate of approval, the approved school has ceased to be a school. He has done that in the past, as I understand, in cases where the school has been unsatisfactory, not merely on account of the behaviour of the managers but because, for example, the building has been unsuitable. Nowadays, the school with which I am connected belongs to the Government, and the Government are spending a great deal of money on it. It seems absurd that (as I take it would happen) if the Secretary of State, because he was dissatisfied with the manager, withdrew his certificate of approval, the school would 1101 have to close down. It may not be so, but that is how I read this clause.
Then we come on to the provision that, if he is not satisfied with the managers he may appoint some extra managers and put the existing managers on the right path. Your Lordships will have seen from subsection (3) that this applies only to schools not provided by the local authority. That is to say, managers are divided into two classes, the sheep and the goats—and I am one of the goats. I think it is quite right that the Secretary of State should have these powers, but I think it is also right not to exclude these voluntary managers. There is only one more point that I wish to draw to your Lordships' attention, and it is with regard to the Second Schedule. That is a very long one and difficult to understand, but the effect of it is, I believe, that boys who are recalled to an approved school after having been released, when they are released for the second time are, or may be, no longer subject to supervision. I may not be right about that, but that is how my informants advise me, and I think that that point should also be considered.
My Lords, I think I should not end on a note of condemnation. There is a great deal in this Bill for your Lordships' approval; but I should like to call the attention of the House to two suggestions which have been made. One is that, instead of sending bad boys to borstal and detention centres or places other than approved schools, there should be certain closed approved schools—schools which are just like approved schools as they are now but which would have an enclosure from which boys would be unable to escape. The second is a point which has been suggested by the Howard League, who have been good enough to send me their recommendations. It is that, in all cases where boys are found to be unsuitable by the approved school in which they are, they should be returned to the classifying school which sent them there—that is to say, the police should not be sent for, and they should not be sent to remand homes or detention centres. They were sent to the approved school by a classifying school, and if they are returned to the classifying school that school may be able to find some other school in which their behaviour would be more satisfac- 1102 tory. I hope to move some Amendments to this effect on Committee, but I thought it as well to give your Lordships a general Idea of the Amendments which I shall propose.
§ 5.4 p.m.
§ LORD PARKER OF WADDINGTON
My Lords, in my days at the Bar I had the advantage on more than one occasion of being led by my noble and learned friend Lord Morris of Borth-y-Ciest, and it is only right that I should follow him on this occasion. At any rate, it enables me to add my welcome to his appearance in this House and my congratulations on his speech. I feel certain that he will be a great asset to the House and to the Cross Benches.
May I say at once that, in my view, the Government are to be congratulated on this Bill. Many, and particularly the Press, would have people believe that the views of the right honourable gentleman the Home Secretary in regard to penal treatment of young offenders and my views are radically opposed. May I say at once that, so far as I know, our objectives are the same, and that in all except one respect the means by which those objectives are to be attained coincide. May I first, therefore, say a few words in support of this Bill?
The Bill deals almost entirely with the young offender, the under-21, and I do not think that anyone would question the fundamental principle that the penal treatment of young offenders should be primarily remedial and that it should be carried out in institutions separate from adult persons. It is to this fundamental principle that the Bill adheres. The central feature is the indeterminate sentence of borstal training—a sentence ranging from six months to two years. It is a little confusing that it is called borstal training, because a sentence of borstal training under this Bill will, in fact, apply not only to those who would be sentenced to what we call borstal training to-day but also to all young offenders who would to-day be sentenced to imprisonment ranging from six months up to three years. It might, of course, he said that this was a restriction on the power of the courts to give what sentence they thought was appropriate—for example, twelve months in a prison or borstal training. This is perfectly true; but it is a restriction which I, for one, welcome.
1103 Whatever information a court receives before sentence, it is quite impossible, from seeing the offender and from hearing what information is there, to decide exactly the treatment which he requires. That can be discovered only after he has been under observation, and therefore in custody, for a matter of weeks, or even months. Unfortunately, as your Lordships know, the work of the Court of Criminal Appeal has lately been so great that appeals come on only after considerable delay. That has had this good effect, however: that when the appeal is heard more information is available, and it may then be seen that someone sentenced to borstal training did not require long institutional training at all, but merely a short sentence of imprisonment; and, vice versa, that someone sentenced to imprisonment really needed training. I for one welcome, therefore, any restriction that it may be thought this Bill puts on the power of courts, and it is a restriction, I think, which all Her Majesty's Judges would welcome. Indeed, at some later date I myself should welcome what I may call a senior indeterminate sentence to apply to those in the next age group, when it becomes a question of: "Shall they go to prison or shall they go to corrective training?".
Now, my Lords, at the lower end the Bill envisages detention centres, and detention centres in sufficient numbers, that will gradually take the place of any form of imprisonment of under six months. I personally am a great believer in the detention centre, but, most unfortunately, our penal reforms always go ahead of our penal establishments. Here we have an institution that was recommended in 1938, and the building of which began in 1948, when the legislation had provided for detention centres. Thus here we are to-day when, for all practical purposes, the courts have had to abandon detention in these detention centres as a sentence because there is never a vacancy available. I welcome the assurance that steps are being taken now, as a matter of urgency, to provide more and more of these detention centres. I only hope that it will continue to be treated as a matter of urgency, and that the Order in Council envisaged by subsection (5) of Clause 3 can soon be made.
1104 In this connection, I also welcome the provision for supervision after an offender has been released from a detention centre. Ever since the case of Evans, when in the Court of Criminal Appeal we felt constrained, as a matter of interpretation, to say that it was impossible to provide at the same time for detention in a detention centre and for a period of probation afterwards, I have always hoped that such a provision might be introduced. I would also particularly draw attention to Clause 8, subsection (4), under which parents will become liable for any compensation which the court orders to be paid under Section 11 of the Criminal Justice Act, 1948. That power to order the payment of compensation is rarely exercised to-day, presumably because it is thought that in many cases it will be completely ineffectual. But if parents are to be liable to pay, there will be the less reason for exercising that power, and, above all, it will encourage the parents to discipline their children.
My Lords, finally, in dealing with the remedial aspect of the treatment of the young offender, may I urge the Government to give further consideration to the scheme about which the noble Earl, Lord Longford, spoke. I refer to the scheme about which Sir Basil Henriques has written on many occasions. It is, I venture to think, something which is required to-day. It may be said that the idea of probation is that a man should be free; that probation should not be coupled with any form of either punishment or training. But, my Lords, is that a sound argument? To-day the young man who is put on probation thinks he has got off. And, at any rate when it comes to a second period of probation, would it not be right to make it a condition of that probation that he should work, or at least undergo some form of training?
Having said that much, my Lords, I feel constrained to point out the limited powers of the court to inflict punishment as such. As I have already said, the fundamental principle in regard to the young offender must be that the penal treatment should be primarily remedial. But I venture to think that it should not be exclusively remedial; and particularly is this so during the present age, when, as has been pointed out, crime among young offenders is increasing, and 1105 continuing to increase at quite an alarming rate. For the last two and a half years since I became Lord Chief Justice have, I am afraid, on every available opportunity drawn attention to this increase. To-day I believe that even those who have consistently shut their eyes to the facts, and who have sought to belittle the increase in crime, are being forced, not by my utterances but by public opinion, to face the facts.
Again, in the last two and a half years I have been urging the old principle that the certainty of punishment is a far greater deterrent than its severity—and I have urged that in your Lordships' House. I have read with delight the Interim Report of the Royal Commission on the Police, and I am still more delighted that its recommendations are being implemented. Let us hope that, as a result, there will be an increase to the police forces, and an increase of the right type of recruits. But however sound that principle is, it is difficult to see its complete success in the sense that every offender will be caught. Something more, surely, is necessary. I venture to think that the courts, as well as the Government, owe a duty to the community—a duty to do their best to halt this crime wave. But if they are to do so, they must have the necessary weapons of punishment.
It might be said that under this Bill there are two such weapons: first, there is the power to detain in a detention centre for discipline; secondly, there is the power to give sentences of imprisonment of three years and over. So long as detention centres are looked upon as places of discipline and punishment, well and good. But, as I understand it, the position is that not only will there be insufficient centres for some time to come, but they will become again places of training, of remedial treatment and not primarily of punishment.
§ THE EARL OF LONGFORD
My Lords, may I be permitted to interrupt to ask the Lord Chief Justice a question? Does he draw a very sharp distinction there? Surely he would like a young man in whom he was interested, and who was sent to a detention centre, to corm away a better young man, even if other people were also deterred by the kind of treatment taking place there?
§ LORD PARKER OF WADDINGTON
My Lords, we always want both; but the prime object of a detention centre, I should have thought, was to submit a man to harsh discipline as a punishment.
So far as sentences over three years are concerned, I confess that I am horrified at long sentences for the young unless they can be avoided. It is these considerations that have always led me, and I am afraid still lead me, to be a reluctant advocate of corporal punishment—I say "reluctant" because I believe that no one likes the idea. I am certainly not one of those who approach the matter in a revengeful spirit, though I quite recognise that there is a risk that I shall be included in what the noble Earl, Lord Longford, called the other day the "rough and tough brigade". But it is surely a matter which requires further consideration.
The right honourable gentleman the Home Secretary is reported in the Press to have said at Exeter the other day:We must punish crime hard. I pledge myself to support every measure which I think will be effective in the campaign against crime.My Lords, it is in that spirit that I urge the right honourable gentleman to think again on this matter. The pros and cons, as has been said, have been gone into many times. It will be said, and can be said with some force, that the matter has only recently been considered by the Advisory Council on the Treatment of Young Offenders. Needless to say, I have the greatest respect for every individual member of that Council. Nevertheless, I should not be doing my duty, I think, if I did not criticise, very shortly, the reasons they have stated in their Report.
It is said, first, that to reintroduce corporal punishment would mean putting the clock back. So be it. If it is necessary, why should we shrink from it, especially when it is the hooligans themselves who have retarded the clock? We do not shrink from the bombs of modern warfare, weapons which are thought to be necessary deterrents. Yet those who lived in the days when corporal punishment was thought necessary, would no doubt have been horrified at the idea that any civilised community should have weapons of this character. In this 1107 connection, may I remind your Lordships of the recommendation of the Cadogan Committee's Report, from which all this stems? In the conditions of 1938, they put it no higher than that the balance, of advantage lay in abolition; but nobody suggests that the conditions of to-day are anything like they were then.
The second reason given by the Council is that the reintroduction of corporal punishment might lessen our prestige and damage our reputation abroad. Really, I should have thought that such a reason had only to be stated in order to be put, not second, but long last, if at all, in a list of reasons. Thirdly, my Lords, it is said that it affronts the conscience of a civilised community, and ought to be reintroduced only if it would substantially reduce crime. That reason contains two elements. First, does the idea of corporal punishment really affront the conscience of a civilised community? I myself am clear that it does not—always assuming that this country is not wholly uncivilised. It is said (and I do not think that anyone challenges it) that something like 75 or 80 per cent. of the population of this country are in favour of corporal punishment. A Gallup poll showed that it was not only the women who were in favour: there was an equal division of men and women. The Judiciary are largely in favour of it. The magistrates, also, in spite of the evidence given by their Association, are largely in favour of it.
The second element is the question whether the reintroduction of this punishment would substantially reduce crime. I suppose that that depends largely on what is meant by "substantially". The Council themselves recognise that in a certain number of cases it would act as a deterrent, both to the offender and to others; and I, for one, should welcome it if it acted as a deterrent in only 10 per cent. of cases. But, of course, it would do more than that. No doubt a few offenders would not be deterred—no doubt a few of them will glory in their martyrdom, and do it again. We have heard of such cases. But where does this argument lead us? A not inconsiderable number of offenders who go to prison commit further offences. Is it to be said that, for that reason, imprisonment should be abandoned as being no deterrent?
1108 At the expense of wearying your Lordships, I cannot refrain from referring to one of the many letters I have received on this subject—letters both ways. This is a letter from an old man of 78, written, I venture to think, in his own inimitable and illiterate style. He says:Dear Sir, what you say, violence treated sloppily! You are right, Sir, I know. I am now 78 but I still remember as a boy of 15 I was given 6 strokes of the birch. I was a bad lad then, but I stole because I was hungry and I used violence to get the handbag. I was caught and received the birch. I still used to steal but I never used violence again. It hurt too much. Mr. Paddy Child was the magistrate. The place was Rochester Row. I think myself if we used the birch back we would stop a lot of violence. They do not like what it hurts. The prisons are like hotels nowadays to what they were 60 years ago.Another argument put forward is that the position of crime is not so grave as is generally supposed, and that severer sentences of imprisonment should be given by the courts. Again, there are two elements. I think that the crime position is more or less grave—I leave it to the good sense of the House; but I would submit that there is only one answer. The second element is this question of severer sentences of imprisonment for the young. Presumably as an indication of possible sentences there are set out at the end of the Report, in Appendix H, the maximum sentences which can be given for certain offences—sentences ranging from five years to life imprisonment. Presumably, the implication is that the courts have ample power to deal with matters by way of imprisonment. My Lords, I view any suggestion of long sentences for the under 21, except in very rare cases, with absolute horror. I should like anyone to come and sit in a court, and see a young man under 21 sentenced to three, four, five or more years of imprisonment. At that age it is a lifetime. And what happens to his education? What chance have young men, so sentenced, in afterlife?
Only the other day, in the Court of Criminal Appeal, we had a case of four or five young men, of good family, who three years ago had begun, no doubt in a high-spirited manner, systematic burglary. They had been doing it to the tune of several thousands of pounds, and in the course of it had persuaded other young men to come in. The judge of 1109 assize had felt constrained to give those young men five years' imprisonment, and they appealed. The plea put forward was this: Is there not another method of punishment, however severe, that can be substituted, which will allow these men to finish their education? One, it was said, was likely to be an eminent scientist. One was a budding engineer. What chance have they in after-life? I do believe, and I feel it very strongly, that for cases of this sort some form of corporal punishment is far kinder to the offenders. Some form of corporal punishment which, if need be, could be coupled with a short period in a detention centre would surely enable these young men to make a better start in life.
THE LORD BISHOP OF EXETER
My Lords, am I right in thinking that the noble and learned Lord is advocating corporal punishment not only for crimes of violence but for any type of crime?
§ LORD PARKER OF WADDINGTON
My Lords, I was coming to that in a moment. I feel that anything is better than nothing.
May I come to another reason given by the Advisory Council for opposing corporal punishment? It was stated under the head of "Practical reasons", and refers to the delay. This is, I venture to think, the real argument against corporal punishment. I confess that I see no way of getting round it, other than to say that corporal punishment shall never be administered except for a second offence, after warning. Suppose one were to say to a man, "You see that fire. If you put your hand in it you know you are going to get burned. I am saying to you that, as surely as that, if you go and do this again, you will be caned or birched", or whatever the form of corporal punishment might be. Then I venture to think that, whether the punishment takes place 24 hours or 24 days after the offence, it can do no harm. The offender has done it, and chosen to do it with his eyes open. Of course, one may laugh at it and say that it savours a little of the dog who is said to be allowed one bite. But if this question of delay is to be faced, then I think that corporal punishment should be given only after warning and, therefore, for a second offence.
Once again I urge the Government to reconsider giving the courts this further 1110 weapon. I care not whether it takes the form of caning or birching; either one can hurt, and either, or both, have that element of indignity which these young people fear. I care not whether it applies to all offences or whether it is made to apply merely to those which involve gross personal violence. It certainly should not be given automatically, but only as a matter of discretion; and it should be capable of being imposed coupled with other penalties. Please do not think, my Lords, that I envisage a kind of wholesale corporal punishment. My own feeling is that if the weapon were there the need to use it would be very rare; and, indeed, if it were thought that there was likely to be excessive use, then confine the power, by all means, to courts of quarter sessions and assizes.
I apologise for having occupied so much of your Lordships' time, and I ask you to forgive me; but this is, naturally, a matter which concerns the courts very closely. The courts I feel, owe a duty to the public; and I feel that I should not be doing my duty if I did not once more put before your Lordships my views on the matter.
§ 5.32 p.m.
§ LORD STONHAM
My Lords, I was extremely encouraged, as I am sure my noble friends were, to hear the Lord Chief Justice say that his objectives and the means of attaining them were the same as those of the right honourable gentleman the Home Secretary: that was, until he developed his one exception. I am bound to say that I am much more reassured by the Prime Minister's statement that corporal punishment forms no part of the Government's penal system. I am not nearly as old as the old gentleman who wrote to the Lord Chief Justice, who I think he said was 78, so I have not personal experience, like that old gentleman, of the benefits of the birch, but my grandmother was old enough to have witnessed as a child the public hanging of a child. That had about it some measure of indignity. That also was the kind of punishment that one would have thought would have been such a deterrent that it would have been very rarely inflicted, just as the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chief Justice thought that if we had the penalty of flogging or birching it would be such a deterrent that the Bench would rarely have the need to inflict it. 1111 My Lords, we do not hang children any more for stealing; that is a deterrent which is no longer necessary. But the reason and the justification for the argument of the Lord Chief Justice for birching and flogging springs from the same germ as the arguments which no doubt were passionately put forward in your Lordships' House a hundred years ago for the retention of such punishments as the sentence of hanging for larceny.
The Lord Chief Justice was speaking almost as if there were no deterrent in our present penal system; that the prisons were not prisons any more, but were more like hotels. I have visited some of those "hotels" in different parts of the country, and I am in correspondence with scores of the inmates. For what satisfaction it may give, I can assure your Lordships that the penal system in all its aspects is a very strong deterrent indeed. Yet, in answer to a Question before this debate started, we learned to-day that there were in this country, in 1960, 742,714 indictable offences, one in 70 of the whole population; and that every form of offence, except sexual offences, showed an increase, of which the smallest increase was 6 per cent. and the largest 15 per cent. It does not look as if the deterrent is working very well, does it? If offences increase in one year by 10 per cent.—and they have been going up steadily every year—is it not at least a prima-facie reason for looking at the penal system, as my noble friend Lord Long-ford suggested, and asking ourselves the question: is it not all wrong?
It is true that the size of the prison population and the incidence of crime among young people compel us to admit the need for the additional prisons and remand and detention centres of which the noble and learned Viscount on the Woolsack has given us details this afternoon. But, in my view, this need is the unhappy fruit of the long years spent in pursuit of a wrong policy; of the years during which almost all official thought of all kinds has been directed more towards filling prisons than emptying them. It would make more sense if we devoted a much larger proportion of our thinking, our money and our effort, first, to stopping people going to prison, and 1112 secondly, to ensuring that, if they do go, then once released they will never return.
I should like to confine my remarks to considering ways of reducing the numbers of both new entrants and re-entrants to prison. Of the young people who fall foul of the law, the majority come from the 60 per cent. who are potentially anti-social. They are the youngsters who are not members of any church or of any kind of youth organisation. If they have parents who attempt to exercise control, they are either resentful of it, or indifferent. They are thus virtually devoid of any real adult contact. Money has made them superficially mature. Yet inwardly they lack the experience of life, which came earlier to our generation because of the tougher economic conditions. At 18 they are much younger than we were; and they know it. That is why they are aggressive—to show that they are tougher than they know themselves to be.
What is the average tough teenager's attitude to established institutions? He regards all authority as the horrible untouchable, strictly for the birds. He has no respect for age or wisdom. He looks at a parson as a fool in a black nightgown. He considers youth clubs childish. Yet, basically, he is wide open to good influence, provided it does not patronise. The difficulty is for the good influence to make contact when every obvious approach is suspect. Left alone, he is a reasonable being, but his way of life leaves him equally vulnerable to the yobs, the yahoos, the gang leaders, the rotten apples in the barrel. Given the right quantities of boredom, alcohol and high spirits, they can turn him into a hooligan, or even a criminal.
Do not imagine, as I did a few years ago, that he is not different from what we were when we were his age. He is different. He was born in the 'forties, when his parents were compelled—I say compelled; the noble Lord, Lord Ailwyn, said it was from choice—to enrol together in the rat race for money and possessions. His mother perhaps resented having to leave work for a few months to give him birth. She would rather have got some new furniture. She put him in a nursery school as soon as she could, and throughout his early life he did not have sufficient parental affection and discipline. Mum was never 1113 there, and Dad was working overtime. He was a doorstep kid. He was alone. Influenced only by the money symbol, he left school at 15 and got a job. He worked hard and earned enough money to make him independent. That is what he wanted—independence—to be a man, an adult. He does not feel like an adult; all the more reason to seem like one, drink more, swear more, wear flashier clothes. But he is bored, very bored. Money buys the cinema, the café, the beer, but it cannot buy what he needs—a sense of being needed, of belonging, of being important. So boredom leads to the search for "kicks". He pushes a billiard cue through the ceiling, or his fist in somebody's face.
I know that the noble Lord, Lord Ailwyn, who is not here at the moment, wanted to answer this sort of thing with virtually everything, so far as I understood, except the rack and the thumbscrew. Yet you cannot appeal to the tough teenager by force, because he has no history of imposed discipline. That is why, in my view, those who say "Birch 'em" are so stupidly, utterly wrong. You cannot appeal to his soft side—he has not got one; Mum did not give him one. It is terrible; it is dreadful. But it is true, and we must not minimise it or ignore it.
Do not think that you can make contact or turn him into a useful citizen by thrashing him or sending him to borstal. That is why he is a problem, and if we either ignore him or try to flog it out of him, we might as well give up entirely and leave the future of this country to him and his like. But society cannot allow these young people to be outcasts. We must—and again I say without patronage—make contact on a man-to-man basis. Because, despite all outwardseeming—and I have tried this—the vast majority of this group of young people can be as decent, courageous, adventurour and potentially responsible as ever we were.
I think that an improved, expanded and, above all, an enlightened youth service would make a great difference. But unquestionably, once they are delinquent, the best possible man-to-man contact for them is with the probation officer, and the ideal method of straightening out the incipient young criminal—it is the best I have ever heard of—is 1114 the idea which has been mentioned several times this afternoon, and always with approval and support. It is an idea put forward by Sir Basil Henriques, most of whose experience has been in the East End of London, a part I know very well, and it is to combine a probation order with an order to attend at an attendance centre.
My Lords, most of these young people will never need an approved school, let alone borstal, and I therefore warmly welcome the proposal in the Bill to reduce the minimum age for attendance orders to 10 years and to increase the maximum hours of attendance to 24. But I hope that we shall be able to persuade the Government, at a later stage of the Bill, to increase the maximum hours of attendance. I should not like at the moment to specify to what maximum, but I am most interested in this possibility of a period of three months with attendance on week-day evenings for children for a total of 130 hours. I should be most grateful if the noble and learned Viscount would let us know if that would be possible under the Bill as it now stands, provided that it was combined with a probation order; that is to say, if 130 hours total attendance at an attendance centre would be possible under the Bill, if it were combined with a probation order. If it were not, of course, then I think that at a later stage we should move a suitable Amendment. But I am certain that that would provide a much better opportunity for training and for instruction in the constructive use of leisure.
But if these proposals are to become really effective, the Government must ensure that there are more attendance centres, that they are open in the evenings, so that children can attend, instead of on Saturday mornings, and also (I do not think this point has been made before) that programmes must be provided at different times for different age groups, because youngsters, whose ages range from 10 to 17 years, cannot possibly be taught at the same time, or indeed in the same place; certainly, not in the same room. I hope that we can hear something about that.
But more important, in my view, than anything in this Bill is the need to expand the probation service, because it is impossible for any man to deal 1115 adequately with 60 to 80 cases. The service is already heavily overloaded, and the increase in statutory after-care, however welcome, will thrust an additional heavy burden on it. My noble friend Lord Longford mentioned that there would be 12,000 additional cases per annum, and I believe that he meant without considering after-care from detention centres. That is an enormous number of additional cases. Therefore, my Lords, these provisions will remain so many words on paper, unless we can have an assurance from the Government that they will forthwith implement plans for a considerable increase in the number of probation officers, and give a pledge—perhaps the Lord Chancellor will be able to say something about this—that the Bill's provisions for statutory after-care will not become operative until the additional officers to cope with it are in post. Otherwise, I think it will be a tremendous disappointment.
I think that any extra expenditure of this kind would be a tremendous saving of public money, quite apart from the incalculable social gain, because the probation service is the greatest single agency for rescuing people from a life of crime, and thus reducing the prison population. The individual consideration, the man-to-man approach, must be continued when the attendance centre is inappropriate and the court orders a young person to a detention centre.
The Home Secretary has promised that the régime at the detention centres will be hard and severe, and that principle was very much approved by the Lord Chief Justice. My noble friend Lord Longford did wring from him a statement that he regarded severe discipline there as a punishment, but surely the object—if it has any objective at all—must be rehabilitation. And this hard and severe régime, however necessary it may be for the ordinary tough, the uncomplicated case, is surely going to be unsuitable with many who are given sentences of less than six months. It will be disastrous for them; some are disturbed, others merely slow, stupid, weak, dull-witted, and for them the ordinary tough régime would be quite unsuitable. It may put them right over the edge. There must be, therefore, a variety of detention centres, or at least 1116 of detention régimes, to cope with different types of youth, and it is surely imperative, as my noble friend has said, to include social workers in their staffs.
I hope that when, at a later stage, we raise these points in detail, the Government will accept our Amendments and give the necessary firm assurances, because they are all directed towards ensuring that once a youngster has committed an offence, his treatment is appropriate to his needs, with the object that he never comes back for more. In most cases that does not mean undue severity, but finding out what is missing and trying to supply it. Those who insist that corporal punishment and toughness are the only cure are, in my view, either ignorant of the facts or indifferent to them. Indeed, some who constantly bay for blood are fundamentally just as wrong and misguided as the youngsters their ignorance would destroy.
I should now like to deal briefly with the subject of after-care which, in the foreword to the Pakenham-Thompson Report, has been described by my noble friend, Lord Longford, as "the most neglected corner of the Welfare State", as indeed it is. It is incredibly stupid that, whilst the Government spend £15 million a year on keeping men in prisons, they spend less than £250,000 on after-care to keep men out of prison. We keep a man in prison at a cost of £8 a week. When he comes out of the prison gates, blinking in the early morning light, we give him 5s. and a travel warrant, thus making as sure as we can that he will be back behind prison bars again very soon.
We maintain, in the Prison Commission, an efficient central organisation to keep men safely in prison, but we have no central organisation at all to try to see that, once free, they do not go back. My noble friend Lord Longford mentioned something about Pascal. It is rather obscure, but it led me to think of different degrees of insanity. There cannot be any difference of opinion about this sort of system. To spend £15 million a year on keeping men in prison, and less than £250,000 on keeping men out of prison, is just plain "daft" in any language.
My noble friend Lord Longford also made reference to the television film series, "Probation Officer", and, in par- 1117 ticular, one programme which he quite rightly criticised. I saw that programme myself, and I remember the incident to which he referred. It was unforgivable, and one would like to think that it could not happen at any detention centre. I should like to put, as fairly as I can, the other side of the medal. I have never in my life plugged commercial television, but if I am at home on Monday evenings I endure the advertisements for the sake of watching "Probation Officer" on A.T.V. Most of the plays stand up on their merits as such, but in addition most of them, so far as I am able to judge, are accurate documentaries, and, as a whole, I would say they constitute a valuable social service. Two weeks ago, they had a play dealing entirely with prison after-care, which was so impressively convincing that I am hoping to have it shown in the Grand Committee Room so that as many of your Lordships as are interested can see it, because it gives a clear insight, and an accurate insight, into the difficulties which beset discharged prisoners.
A man comes out with 5s. and neither job, home nor friends. A sandwich and a cup of coffee, and he is almost penniless. The National Assistance people cannot help him until he has an address which, in his case, has to be a dosshouse. The Labour Exchange send him after innumerable jobs with a plague placard in the shape of an employment card with no stamps. As soon as he shows it, the answer is "No". I think this continuous failure of the authorities to find a way out of this stamp difficulty is one of the most vicious pieces of official cruelty that I know. This particular man is persistent, and goes to the probation officer, and so things begin to happen. But how many will have that sort of persistence? It is common knowledge in prisons among prison officers that if a regular is not employed within two weeks of coming out of prison he starts to work his way back. This stupidity must surely be ended. It is intolerable, inhuman and very expensive. More statutory compulsory after-care is welcome, but it will be almost useless unless the present system is radically altered.
Last year the National Council of Social Service published the Report of the Pakenham-Thompson Committee on 1118 The Problems of the Ex-Prisoner. With my noble friend Lord Longford as chairman, the Committee comprised representatives of industry, the Press, probation officers and voluntary societies, and they had the invaluable assistance of the General Secretary of the National Association of Discharged Prisoners' Aid Societies. I should have said that, although it was a voluntary Committee, the composition was sufficiently wide and experienced to merit the full consideration of the Home Secretary and the authorities. But I understand that a copy of this Report, Problems of the Ex-Prisoner, was sent to the Home Secretary last November, but he has not yet made any public statement about it. I should be grateful if the noble and learned Viscount, when he comes to wind up this debate, will let us know, if he can, the Government's views on those particular points.
§ Time EARL OF LONGFORD
My Lords, may I interrupt my noble friend? I should not like the idea to go about that I am acquiescing in the feeling that we have been treated in some way with discourtesy by the Home Secretary. I understood that this Report, along with other relevant documents, had been referred to the Advisory Council, which is now looking into the matter. I may have my own opinion as to whether they are moving fast enough, but that is the reason why we have had no public statement.
§ LORD STONHAM
I am grateful to my noble friend, but I think what I said was accurate—that there had been no public statement, and the Report was published some six months ago. Perhaps the noble and learned Viscount might be able to tell us if the Advisory Council has yet started work, because it would be a step in the right direction if we could be told that. In any case, the proposals which most interest me and, I think, merit the most careful consideration are the proposals to set up at the Home Office a Department to deal exclusively with after-care, under a director with the status of a prison commissioner, and to recruit and maintain under his direction after-care officers with the same standards and training as probation officers. There is the suggestion to increase the number of prison welfare officers to a number sufficient to 1119 ensure that prisoners are properly prepared for re-entry into the world long before they are discharged. Will they also grant-aid voluntary societies in the provision of hostels for homeless ex-prisoners and in the training of sponsors or associates who are willing to help individual prisoners? With many ex-prisoners it is not so much the difficulty of getting a job as of keeping it. I know from experience that if these men, even those with bad records, have a friend who trusts them they will not let him down. That is why it is so important that there should be these associates, trained people though voluntary, who are willing to be friends to these men.
Above all, it is important that, if a director of after-care is appointed, or whatever other medium the Government propose to set up, he must have at his disposal the funds to ensure that a prisoner will be kept on his feet while he is finding and settling into a job. Anything else is quite disgraceful. You simply "chuck" them out with a virtual certainty that they are coming back. It is no use pretending otherwise, and it is no use complaining about the growing numbers of the prison population if we do not take sensible steps to reduce them. I am quite sure that even the noble Lord, Lord Ailwyn, would agree that once a man has paid the price to society and served his sentence, he should be given a chance outside and not have things made completely impossible for him.
If this sounds like more money, I would still advocate it, even if that were the case. But in my view it is absolutely certain that money spent on trained personnel and organisations for obviating the need to send delinquents to prison, and on the rehabilitation of ex-prisoners, will provide a big financial saving. Much more important, however, it will enable us to make good citizens of those who would otherwise be lost, and enable those who have broken the law and paid the price to resume their place in society and find themselves again.
§ 6.0 p.m.
§ LORD DENNING
My Lords, may I first join in the welcome to my noble and learned friend, Lord Morris of Borth-y-Gest? Your Lordships will have 1120 noticed throughout his speech that high principle, careful accuracy and that warm humanity which he always displays with us on all occasions.
This Bill will be most sincerely welcomed, because it is a constructive effort to do remedial work among our young offenders. As the Lord Chief Justice said, our penal reforms have often outstripped our penal establishments, and it is so in this case. Let me divide them into the main stages. First, the period when we put the youngster on probation. Let us first have, as has been strongly recommended, the attendance centres, as Sir Basil Henriques, Lord Longford and others are suggesting; and have these youngsters attend every day, in the evenings or at suitable times at those centres.
Another thing which has not been mentioned but which I should like to bring forward is the provision of probation hostels. I tried a case recently. Let me cite the sort of case. A mother had an adopted child which she had brought up from babyhood, and they were entirely at arm's length in the house. She exercised too much control over him; so much so that on one occasion he set light to the blankets upstairs and ran down out of the house and said: "I have done it this time; you can't get at me again". He was up for arson. It was clear it was wrong to put him on probation so that he would simply go back to his mother.
It is no good sending a boy back home where he had bad surroundings or bad associates or bad home conditions. In those circumstances it is necessary to be able to ask the probation officers whether there is a probation hostel, to take him away from where he is, perhaps in Brighton, and put him in London in a hostel and let him go to work there, away from his old surroundings. Very often the answer is that there is no room; but in that particular case the probation officer did find a place. There is a great need for probation hostels where the youngsters can be taken away from bad surroundings, sent to another district, and to have work there. That is probation.
The next step is detention centres. How glad I am that the plans are in hand to increase those, so as to accommodate all these youngsters whom one 1121 does not want to send to prison, whom one does not want to send to borstal, but who need a short, sharp, severe period of discipline! That is the next stage. But the cardinal, central feature of this Bill is taking away the power of the court, in effect, to sentence a man to imprisonment when he is under 21. They will be able to sentence a man only to over three years—a very rare thing—or under six months. In between the court loses its power to give a sentence. It can give only an indeterminate sentence; it can only say, "You are to be sentenced to borstal training". That means he is there for anything from six months to two years, and the judges in the court have no control over it. That is our old system of borstal training applied universally to people under 21. Although at one time I did not like the idea of taking the power of punishment away from the courts and putting it into the hands of prison officers or borstal officers, nevertheless I believe it is the right way. The young person can be classified, taught, trained and disciplined. I have looked at a centre for young persons under 21, with their strict régime. It is a very fine thing for bringing them back to sanity; and that, in effect, will be the general system of borstal training.
When I speak of this, I would suggest that the plans which are now proposed are inconsistent with the reintroduction of corporal punishment, and I say that for this reason. I have been on the Bench long enough to be one of the Judges who, before 1948, inflicted corporal punishment. I remember a case where it was a question of what to do with a youngster aged 20 who had been guilty of robbery with violence. That was practically the only case in which one could give corporal punishment, for many years before 1948. He had come up behind an old man sitting in his chair, knocked him over the head and taken a few shillings from his pocket. He had not injured him seriously, but it was a clear case of robbery with violence. I wondered what to do with him. There were, in effect, two alternatives; to sentence him either, as in the circumstances I thought appropriate, to three years' penal servitude, which would mean two years' effective, or to eighteen months' imprisonment plus 20 strokes of the birch. I chose the 1122 latter, which would mean that he would be out after twelve months.
A Judge, when he gives corporal punishment, of course reduces the length of the sentence which he is going to inflict. Under this new system the Judge would never be able to adjust the sentence with the whipping, if whipping were brought in. He has no control over the sentence going from six months to two years; it is whatever the Prison Commissioners think right. If the judge is to have no control to equate the whipping with the length of sentence, it seems to me inconsistent to introduce, or suggest introducing, into this Bill the question of corporal punishment.
But I would go further. I regret to differ from my noble and learned friend the Lord Chief Justice on this point. For many years before 1948 whipping was practically confined to robbery with violence. Now it would be introduced for all crimes: wounding with intent—the youngster who gets a broken bottle or a cycle chain and hits another over the head—or the rape of young girls. All these, I suggest, would be cases supposedly for corporal punishment. wonder whether it would be right for the Judges to have a responsibility which is so different from rightful infliction of corporal punishment by a schoolmaster or parent, where it is personal and immediate. This is altogether different: a judicial sentence of corporal punishment which is delayed and impersonal and may be after a long period of time, inflicted in altogether different circumstances, when the person who is beaten is screened from the whipper so that he does not know who he is, and indeed with the governor and medical officer being there, months after the offence.
I often think of this question to myself. We should not, on our collective responsibility, do an act which individually I believe none of us would be prepared to do, or even to witness. Indeed, if you read the report of the Advisory Committee, you will see that the chief officers of police all say: "Do not give it to the police." The prison officers, the senior officers, say: "Do not give the job to us". The probation officers, of course, would not dream of doing it. It seems to me it is the same when one is in the Army; you do riot ask a man to do what you will not do yourself. So, indeed, we ought not to ask anyone on 1123 our behalf to do a thing we would not do ourselves.
It seems to me that the right measures, and the right degree of public denunciation, which, of course, is an essential matter in the enforcement of our criminal law, is attained by the system that we have: the system of detention centres, borstal training and, if need be in the last resort, as at Notting Hill Gate, long sentences; but only in the last resort. That is a far better system than going back to the haphazard, delayed and, I think, unfortunate system of corporal punishment. But that is a difficult question. I will not detain your Lordships on it now, except to say that the whole trend of this Bill and its provisions, and particularly the provisions for supervision after the people come out, is wholly to be welcomed.
§ 6.10 p.m.
§ THE EARL OF IDDESLEIGH
My Lords, I would venture to welcome this Bill as providing as tough a remedy for the state of crime in the nation as is compatible with public opinion. It astonishes me that any noble Lord, after reading the provisions of this Bill, should describe the Home Secretary as insufficiently tough, or as excessively loving kind. A family fined the substantial sum of £10, plus damages, plus the loss occasioned as the result of the misbehaviour of their child of under 14, will not, I think, be inclined to pay much tribute to the kindheartedness of the Home Secretary. It seems to me that the fines will do a vast amount of good in forcing upon slack and casual parents a measure of responsibility.
May I also cordially welcome the increase in the penalties for helping young persons to escape, be it from a detention centre or from a remand home. I have seen something of the terribly bad consequences that ensue when a child is enabled to escape from a remand home, and I trust that some means will be found, perhaps by the motoring organisations, perhaps by the Transport and General Workers' Union, perhaps by means of notices in transport cafés, to warn the motoring and lorry driving public against the grave harm that may be done by giving lifts to unexplained young persons by the roadside.
1124 With one modification I welcome the attendance centres. The subsection instructs the magistrates, before awarding such a sentence, to take into account the availability of public transport. I fear that that will mean that boys in remote villages, who often need the attendance centre as much as boys in towns, will not get the benefit of it; and I would suggest to Her Majesty's Government the possibility of making arrangements in certain cases for special constables to be employed, of course on payment of expenses, in taking young persons to attendance centres when other transport is not available.
May I express the hope, too, that great attention will be paid to the remarks of the noble Lord, Lord Raglan, which coincide exactly with advice I have received from the headmaster of an approved school. It is felt in those quarters that the Bill has certain defects in so far as it deals with approved schools; and the inability of Her Majesty's Government to put into effect the recommendation of the Durand Report for at least one closed approved school is lamentable, although one realises the difficulties in which the Home Office is involved in its exceptionally large building programme. The headmaster with whom I discussed the matter was strongly opposed to the clause which allows a boy to be removed directly from an approved school to a borstal institution. He felt that the distinction between an approved school and a borstal institution must be most sedulously preserved. It would seem altogether wiser that the boy being taken from an approved school should be sent to some institution where his conduct can be studied by psychiatrists and other experienced persons in order to determine to what extent his bad conduct was psychotic, and to decide after prolonged and careful examination whether what was needed was a borstal institution or mental treatment.
At this point in my speech I must confess to great embarrassment. Many years ago, for a few years, I served as a schoolmaster, and I thought that I would venture to offer to your Lordships a few remarks from a scholastic point of view. What was my shock on receiving the list of speakers, to discover that I was to speak in front of the headmaster 1125 himself—a most distinguished headmaster of the time! I offer him every humility, every excuse. But there is a point to which I hope attention may be given by the Ministry of Education: it concerns the classroom teaching in approved schools. On this point I have had the advantage of consultation with a lady of great experience who has taught in a girls' approved school which was divided into classes—the house girls who did little work in classrooms, and the school girls who did a substantial amount of classroom work.
She informed me—and I can very well understand it—that one of the great difficulties attending teaching in these schools was that the girls came up from ordinary schools where they were at very different levels of educational progress, and owing to the shortage of teaching staff (and I wish that steps would be taken to induce more teachers to go into approved school work; there are grave difficulties about that) it was necessary to take girls of quite different rates of progress in the same class. This induced an appalling sense of frustration in the girls—and no doubt this applies equally to the boys—who were compelled to learn again subjects which they had already studied.
Those of your Lordships who are in touch with schoolchildren will appreciate what a schoolchild means by the word "done"—" I have done arithmetic"; "I have done decimals"; "I have done Australia". Arid one may even get a collector's piece, "I have done the Trinity". It is exceedingly frustrating for these girls to have to face in their lessons subjects which, as they would put it, they have "done". I wonder whether educational experts could devise some course that would avoid that particular End of frustration; some course, that is, which avoids the stock class-room teaching in history, geography, arithmetic and so on. Possibly foreign or European history might be a substitute.
I would also stress the great educational importance in these schools of really good art training, which gives the pupils who suffer from so much frustration by their surroundings a chance to liberate their spirit in constructive work. May I add that I am much more concerned at the girls' approved schools than I am at the boys' approved schools—I am very doubt- 1126 ful indeed whether we are right in applying to girls in trouble anything like the same treatment as to boys who are in trouble—especially as in the girls' approved schools young prostitutes have to associate with wild girls of quite different background.
May I say a word upon the vexed subject of corporal punishment? I served for two years in a day school in America where no corporal punishment was allowed. I then served for a year in a boarding school in India where corporal punishment was allowed and was carried out fairly frequently. Let me confess—although it will no doubt lower me in the opinion of some noble Lords—that it did not affront my conscience that at the end of my experience I remained very doubtful indeed whether it did very much good. If that is true of corporal punishment in schools, I feel far more strongly opposed to the reintroduction of judicial whipping.
Finally, it may be—it must be—true that many factors contribute to the appalling situation that faces us. No doubt much responsibility lies in the home. No doubt there is a strong case to be argued on the subject of certain television programmes. But do not let us forget this: these boys and girls in trouble are, or until very recently have been, schoolboys and schoolgirls. We must realise that the school, in our education system, cannot escape a great share of responsibility for the antisocial attitude of a very considerable proportion of our juveniles—more considerable, I am afraid, than criminal statistics reveal. These young people go about in gangs, and while the gang-leader may be caught the rest seem to be just as antisocial in their fundamental attitude.
I am very much concerned by the moral condition of some of our State schools. A feature of the day is the immense popularity of private schools of all kinds. They are flourishing wherever one goes. I understand that that is largely due to the fact that parents of children who have failed to pass their 11-plus examination send their children, often at very great sacrifice to themselves, to any kind of 'private school that is available. I have heard the mother of a family who are in a very bad economic position, and for whom the maintenance of the barest minimum of decent standards is a matter of constant anxiety and trouble, say: "Whatever the 1127 fees, and whatever the cost of the uniform, I am going to send my child to a private school because I do not like the moral influences that it will meet in the State school."
When I say that, let me hasten to say that I am not attributing blame to the staff or the management of the State school, because the headmaster of the State school is deprived of the most powerful weapon which the headmaster of the public or the private day school possesses; that is to say, the power of expulsion. Most of your Lordships, and I daresay some of your Ladyships, were at public schools. We know that the tone of our public schools was very largely maintained because the headmaster had the power, in his sole discretion and without assigning any reason, of expelling any pupil whose conduct was such as to injure the tone of the school. And let us remember that the headmaster of the State grammar school or a secondary modern school has no such power. What is the position of a headmaster who sees one of his pupils injuring and ruining the moral tone of his school? He can punish very moderately; he can exhort—which is seldom of much value. Those measures having failed him, he must be content to see the evil influence spreading.
It is not a matter which we could introduce into this Bill, but I would urge that serious consideration be given to providing the managers of all schools with power to bring any of their pupils before a magistrates' court and to plead that the pupil in question is beyond educational control. After all, that would be analogous to the power which a parent possesses to bring his child before a court and plead that it is beyond parental control. The court would then have power, if it found the complaint of the school managers, briefed by the headmaster, fully justified, to commit the child to an approved school as in need of more control than the day school could give. I would beg that this solution be very seriously considered, in the interests of the vast bulk of children attending the schools who must be preserved from evil influences.
§ 6.31 p.m.
§ LORD JAMES OF RUSHOLME
My Lords, I want to speak very briefly indeed this afternoon, because I am essen- 1128 tially a layman in penological matters and I feel a great deal of diffidence in speaking at all in front of people, some of whom know a great deal more about this subject than I do myself. Nevertheless, from the nature of my job I know something about young people, particularly boys, and something, I think, about their problems; and, like everyone else, I am alarmed by increases in juvenile crime and anxious to support any measures which arrest or, still more important, prevent them. There are, perhaps, two preliminary things I should like to say before I make the single main point I want to make about this Bill.
First, I think one cannot say too often how alarming it is that we really know so little about the causes and treatment of delinquency. Whenever one comes to think about it or speak about it one realises that, compared with so many other subjects with which one is accustomed to deal, here one is trying to deal with something in ignorance. Of course, that ignorance has been analysed and discussed with the greatest skill by two Members of your Lordships' House who are here at this moment, and I do not say any more about it. Nevertheless, a realisation of that position should surely make us aware that any attempt to deal with crime by legislation must be accompanied by a no less real determination to experiment wisely in our treatment and to encourage in every way we can these social investigations which will in time, we hope, help us to understand.
Secondly, in considering these questions it is always necessary, I think—certainly for the layman—to remind ourselves that, serious though the statistics may be, it is easy to lose a sense of proportion in talking of crime waves and that sort of thing, and to forget that, in spite of the harmful publicity given to every kind of crime by some of the Press, in itself a factor which may not improbably be a predisposing factor to crime, it is only a tiny percentage of the juvenile population that is involved. One might easily get the impression that juvenile violence, in particular, was a widespread and common phenomenon; that the young spend their time now running round with flick knives and coshes and the rest. Yet I find that in the three months' period ended January 31 1129 this year, out of 825 offences found to have been committed by juveniles in Manchester, not a conspicuously law-abiding city I should have thought, only five were offences against persons.
To me it is indeed sometimes surprising that young people remain as moral as they do. The influences of school, which we allow to end for the majority at fifteen, not a great age—and some of us, your Lordships may remember, have been attempting to get that age raised, unsuccessfully so far—and of the church, where it exists, and of youth clubs, where they exist, have to fight against an environment which can scarcely be called an encouragement to the good life. With a new and temporary affluence, the boy or girl in his or her late teens is all too vulnerable against a background where often the only escape they know from squalor is the culture of the amusement arcade, the juke box and the motor bike on the by-pass.
Nor do we make it easier for the young when the ideas with which we present them, through some of our Press, the "telly" and the film, are those of easy money and easy virtue in a world of moral ambiguity. It is no use, really, talking about crime prevention in isolation. One has to think of the other agencies. It is no use economising in education, because if we economise in education we shall need Criminal Justice Bills to deal with rising crime statistics. The way of the social life of the young is, in fact, dependent on the stimulus we give.
Having said that, I want simply to return to one particular omission from the Bill that I regret, one that has been referred to. One of the questions we may well ask is whether the methods of punishment and treatment, particularly those that do not involve removal from home, are varied enough and of the right kind to encourage and reform in the way we want. Fining in these days of high wages is not a very severe punishment. It contains no reformative element and, associated as it is in the public mind with offences like parking, it cannot be said to involve much element of moral disapproval. Probation is an admirable system. From all that one knows and hears it is impossible to speak too highly of the overworked officers who run it. 1130 But in the minds of some young offenders it has few overtones of punishment or even of inconvenience. There may be the feeling that they have been let off—they are not, but they may feel that. The attendance centre is admirable in idea and practice for the comparatively trivial offence.
What then? It is, of course, partly the feeling that the courts need further sanctions, other than removal from home, which has led to the outcry for corporal punishment. That subject has been discussed so much that nothing significant remains to say. I think it is unfortunate that so much of the discussion has been purely sentimental; and it is necessary, I believe, to try to get sentiment out of one's mind in discussing this. Of course, I mean it has been sentimental on the part of those who defend corporal punishment in the sense that the dearth of hard evidence for its effectiveness means, really, that nothing but sentiment remains. Yet how much we need hard evidence to make us believe in it
After all, it is intrinsically improbable that a young man, who has probably been savagely beaten on many occasions throughout his life, as a very large number of those appearing before the courts have been, should be improved by more beating. It is intrinsically improbable that humiliation should be the right treatment for an aggressive personality that probably springs from previous humiliations. It is intrinsically improbable that our young people are so much worse than young Frenchmen or Swedes or Russians that ours, alone, should be the only penal system, pretty well, in the civilised world that needs this particular sanction. It may be that those improbabilities can be removed, but we shall need some pretty hard evidence to remove them. But all the hard evidence that exists on this difficult problem shows that, in fact, juvenile corporal punishment is not a deterrent.
The only new evidence, apart from opinion and sentiment, that so distinguished an exponent of the case as the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chief Justice could produce this afternoon was a letter from an aged ex-delinquent; and, if I am faced with the alternative, I prefer the Advisory Council as evidence. That is why we are in fact so often driven back on sentiment. If I 1131 may state my own view, for what it is worth—headmasters are traditionally, if not always in fact, supposed to know about corporal punishment—it is that judicial corporal punishment is practically ineffective, morally dubious and, very often, psychologically harmful—and when I say "psychologically harmful", I do not mean to the criminal; I mean to the community that inflicts it. I think that most of those of us who are actively concerned with young people will be delighted that Her Majesty's Government have resisted the clamour of opinion and sentiment on this matter.
But, having said that, there is surely a case for trying out any new form of punishment and treatment that offers reasonable hope of success; and here we come to this idea of a training centre, tried in Boston, that has been recently commended in the strongest terms by Sir Basil Henriques. I simply want to say that, from the point of view of a layman who knows something about education, this seems to me to deserve the most careful investigation. For five nights a week for three months the offender, who is also on probation, attends the centre for two hours for instruction and training. Now this is a scheme which should appeal both to those who want to stiffen the punitive side of our approach and to those concerned with reform. The deprivation of liberty is serious, and would certainly, I think, be a very real deterrent, in my experience of young people.
But far more important is the genuinely educative effect which would certainly follow in a number of cases. There is a real chance that, given this length of treatment, something positive might be accomplished. The offender is removed for two of the most dangerous evening hours from the diseducative environment of the street to the genuinely educative one of the centre. There is a chance for formal teaching, particularly for remedial teaching for the illiterate or semiliterate—and how much crime at this level, one wonders, is associated with a low level of literacy. If the physical training is supervised, as I suppose it would be, by police officers, there is a chance to build up a new relationship with authority.
1132 Above all, from the educator's point of view—and that is the only one from which I am qualified to speak—there is the chance for the boy to associate over some time with men whose moral standards are themselves firm. It is the power of example which is really at the root of successful moral education, and it is this principle which gives the probation service its many triumphs. These centres would give that process of learning a far greater chance of success than it has now. If we want another argument for at any rate some experiment along these lines, then we can use the argument of cheapness, because such centres would be cheap. The saving of money which would result in reforming those who might otherwise be candidates for residential institutions might be very great indeed. The saving of human material—and that, after all, is the object of any of these exercises—by combining part-time educational work of this kind with the merits of probation may well be no less, and far more important.
The truth is that the more alarmed we are about delinquency the more we should be prepared to innovate. Here we have a simple, inexpensive and, to someone who knows a little about education, clearly promising line of experiment, and I, for one, should have hoped to find provision for something like it in the Bill that is before us.
§ LORD AMWELL
My Lords, on the question of psychology, is it not a fact—I am not sure whether it is or not, but I certainly have read it—that one of the main reasons why flogging and all forms of flagellation were abolished in the Royal Navy was largely because of their psychological and physiological effects, akin to the effects of certain forms of perversion? If that is a fact, it strikes me as a very strong point in the argument that is going on now.
§ 6.44 p.m.
§ EARL FORTESCUE
My Lords, I am one of those who welcome this Bill, but I think it does not go anything like far enough. At this late hour I shall try to be brief, but there are some points that I wish to make because I, together with an increasingly large proportion of the population, am more and more perturbed by this present wave of crime and violence. I myself have served with 1133 British soldiers during two world wars, so I love my fellow men—I cannot do otherwise—and in between them I have been an employer. The outstanding feature about the average Briton is his ready response to leadership and his ready adoption of a decent standard, if he can be introduced to it. Is it really necessary that we should have this wave of crime and violence? I am inclined to doubt it. I have been much impressed by many of the official and other publications on the subject of flogging and against capital punishment, but the public must be protected. The reformers, the sentimentalists and the advocates of a soft policy may well be right in theory, but they have failed lamentably. Perhaps they are right in the long run, but, if so, they have been most unlucky in their timing.
What is the background to all this? In the last 40 years we have had two world wars in which violence was, of necessity, laudable. This toughness was the answer to the King's enemies; and I submit that we should now get equally tough with the Queen's enemies, the criminals. Over this long 40 years we have had more and more education of a sort, which seems to have stimulated amongst the idle ones a desire for easy and quick riches. Religion is on the decline, largely owing to the poverty of the churches, and this has led to less consideration for one's fellow man. At the same time, and above all, we have had a Press which has glorified crime and glarnourised sex, and a cinema trade by means of which immorality and violence are made to appear commonplace and laudable. Television, also, is by no means innocent. At the same time, the penal reformers, advocating a soft policy, have created an atmosphere in which it does not appear disgraceful to be a pervert or a criminal. Such people are not made to feel that they are public enemies, but are led to believe that they are clever, interesting, pitiable and, indeed, rather smart. My Lords, I have heard with my own ears a quite intelligent lady say, "Oh, he must be clever; he is a homosexual", and she would not have hesitated to ask him into her house.
The results of all this we have seen: almost daily rapes, murders, robberies with violence and rife homosexuality. A large number of people go in daily 1134 fear of their lives—solitary old ladies, innocent girls, and respectable cashiers. The soft policy has failed lamentably and the public must be protected. It is time that we returned to a tougher policy. We did not have all this trouble in the past, when justice was tough. To look back a long way, it is common knowledge that hanging did away with sheep stealing in a very few years. First, we must clean up the Press and cinema. Next, we must encourage and make it possible for the churches of all denominations to exert more influence. Above all, we must demonstrate most forcefully that rape, homosexuality, robbery with violence and murder do not pay. We must step up the penalties by making hanging and flogging the punishments for certain stated crimes; and hanging need not be confined to murder.
Where a sexual or homosexual crime is repeated, it is not unreasonable to hold that the criminal has forfeited human consideration, and that in order to protect the public the criminal must be treated as an animal. There is a simple operation in everyday use whereby intractable male animals are rendered tractable, and I submit that where such crimes are repeated, that operation should with certainty be performed, a s it is indeed in some foreign countries. In aggravated cases of rape, such as have recently occurred, the operation might well be carried out on conviction of the first offence.
Finally, I am led to wonder whether our whole social system in the past has not been partly to blame. It is evident that crimes of violence and sex are rare among those who have had the advantage of education at a public school, or a good grammar school. Perhaps the self-discipline and the standards of behaviour and religion therein inculcated enable that fortunate minority to resist temptation. The effect on a man of joining a good régiment is very similar. It is interesting to speculate what might be achieved by better leadership and better education, with the encouragement of all the various denominations among the churches. If we can thus improve our general standards of social conduct over the years, then that would be the time to talk again about the sort of policy which has now been such a failure. I must here declare an 1135 interest. I have suffered grievous bodily harm at the hands of a criminal, but before I sit down to await the caning which I shall no doubt get from some of those on the other side, I should say that I had plenty of good canings when I was at school. They did me good without exception, even the odd ones which I did not deserve, and so I await my next caning with equanimity.
§ 6.52 p.m.
§ LORD CHORLEY
My Lords, the noble Lord who has just resumed his seat evidently appreciates that he has favoured the House with sentiments which were more characteristic in this country, if I may say so, in the eighteenth and very early nineteenth centuries than they have been for a long time. One wonders how much it is necessary to controvert what he has said. For example, he said it was well known that hanging had put down sheep stealing. I should have thought that if there was one historical fact in the history of criminal administration which was accepted by every historian, it was that it had done nothing of the sort. I found it almost impossible to understand how the noble Lord had ever come by the idea that the capital punishment which was so characteristic of criminal jurisprudence in this country in the eighteenth century had had any effect in the way of checking the violent crimes which were endemic all over the country at that time.
Bad as the crime wave is now, if the noble Lord would only take the trouble to read the great work, History of English Criminal Law in the Eighteenth Century, by Dr. Radzinovicz, which is in the Library and which he can take down from the shelves quite easily, I am sure he would be disabused of that idea in a very short time. The theory that the crime wave is due to softness is supported by no sort of evidence at all, so far as I can see. It is possible that there may be an element of truth in it, but surely one needs some evidence before changing and deflecting the course of all recent criminological progress. If the noble Lord will study what has happened in the United States, I think he will see that certainly in some States there has never been this soft policy. Criminals guilty of the crimes to which he has just referred are sometimes 1136 executed, and in many cases are sent to prison for tremendously long terms. Twenty-five or thirty years are not at all uncommon terms of imprisonment in several States of the United States of America, yet he will find that the crime wave there is worse than it is here—there is no question of that. The increase in the criminal statistics for crimes of violence and crimes of dishonesty are even worse there than here. I do not wonder that the noble Lord is disturbed by the situation. We all are, and I suppose that those who know most about it are even more disturbed than others.
One of the weaknesses of this Bill seems to me that its framers have not bee paying attention to such research as has been going on. The noble Lord, Lord James of Rusholme, I was very glad to see, emphasised that even now, after we have got on to research, we are still doing much too little and are very ignorant of the causes of crime and of the best way to handle it. That is unfortunately very true, although no doubt, particularly with the present Home Secretary, steps are being taken to remedy the position.
My objection to this Bill is that the Home Office seem to be ignoring the results of the research which they have in fact done themselves, some of which has thrown a good deal of light on some, at any rate, of these problems. For example, there is the particularly valuable Mannheim-Wilkins researches into prediction in connection with borstal treatment. These very able researches are following up the work done at Harvard by Professor and Mrs. Glueck on predicting the probability of young lads becoming hardened criminals. They have made an investigation into a substantial number of borstal boys, and have in fact found a very similar pattern to that which the Gluecks found in the United States—namely, that a substantial number of criminals become recidivists, no matter how they are treated. Actually, the Mannheim-Wilkins investigation was made in borstal, and they discovered that there are a substantial number of boys who can be relied upon not to go wrong again after they have been to borstal. There is another substantial section of boys who can pretty well be relied upon to go wrong after they have been to borstal.
1137 The interesting thing is that Sir George Benson, to whom we owe an enormous amount for his unflagging interest in these problems, and for the research that he has done in person, is a very good example of a man becoming interested in these problems through having been subjected to prison treatment himself. He was a conscientious objector during the First World War, and the country had what I might almost call the bad taste to subject him to a term of imprisonment. But undoubtedly in the long run that paid off remarkably well, because it gave a man of very great ability and human sympathy an objective in life. And though he has been a valuable member of Parliament, I think that most people would agree that the best contribution he has made is with regard to these problems of criminality. Sir George Benson has discovered that the Mannheim-Wilkins results apply over the whole field, whether we are using fines, or imprisonment or detention centres. Even in the probation field, the result works in the same way. This is very disturbing. It suggests that we need to re-think from the beginning in regard to these matters.
We need to be able to pick out that section of criminals, fortunately the substantial majority, who are not likely to become recidivists: those who are arrested and brought before a court, who are subjected to the disapproval of their own families and neighbours, who are sensitive to this salutary shock and afterwards go right. It does not matter very much whether we send them to prison or fine them or put them on probation. If this is true (and in the House of Commons Sir George Benson produced a substantial amount of evidence to show that it is true, or at any rate enough to establish a case for much further research) it means that we must think about starting again and possibly modifying our ideas on these matters. It seems to me that, in producing this Bill, the Home Office have neglected these researches and have failed to understand what is implicit in them.
As the noble Lord, Lord James of Rusholme, said, we must be looking for new ways of punishment, or of treatment, if your Lordships prefer to look at it that way. I am sorry that this Bill does not go further—it does go a little 1138 way—towards putting the obligation on criminals to indemnify people they have injured, whether personally or in relation to their property, by making it clear that they can be made to pay where the law perhaps was not altogether clear before. Again, through the instrumentality of a refugee professor, the Home Office have done valuable research work into this problem, and I am sorry that that is not reflected more concretely in the Bill.
One aspect of this matter which has come closely to my attention over recent months is the tremendous amount of damage being done by week-end hooligans in the national parks. We were debating the Report of the National Parks Commission only a week or two ago in your Lordships' House. I was up in the Peak District the week-end before last, and I heard some of the grievances of the farming community about these young louts who come out from Sheffield and Manchester and other big towns and destroy farm property just for the "fun" of doing so—pushing down walls, bashing in barns and destroying agricultural machinery as it lies in the fields. I should like to be able to take these people and make them put right the damage they have done: build up the walls they have knocked down; clear out the streams they have blocked up, and otherwise indemnify the people whose property they have injured. I think that one of the things that we are failing to do is to bring home to the prisoner the injury which he is doing. If we could bring him more directly in relation to the damage which he has done and make him see what is involved in it, we might be on the way to getting a better type of punishment.
My Lords, I should like to say a word or two on the problem of probation. Sir George Benson's findings in relation to probation are very disturbing, and I feel that they ought to be checked up carefully. They are not in accordance with my own experience at quarter sessions. It is true that I work in a county with hardly any urban population, and it may well be that the situation there is not characteristic of other parts of the country. I have found that our success with probation is a good deal more than the 70 per cent. which Sir George Benson found in his figures. But whether or not he is right, it is clear that in some parts 1139 of the country, at any rate, we are not getting quite the right type of probation officer. I wonder whether perhaps it is not the case that the people who choose probation officers, and the people who train them, look for too intellectual a type. Sometimes the sort of probation officer one would hardly expect to be a success is the most successful. Probation officers are dealing with a primitive type of mind and personality, and the ability to understand such minds, and put oneself en rapport with them, is not necessarily the ability possessed by a man with an intellectual approach, who can answer questions on Lombroso's theories about crime and that sort of thing. I think that there may well be improvement to be looked for here. In any event, it is clear, as indeed the noble Earl, Lord Longford, very cogently argued this afternoon, that a substantial increase in the number of probation officers is required under the Bill. Maybe it will be possible to obtain them from among rather less intellectual types. I do not suggest that the standard should be lowered, but that in some parts of the country it might be reasonable to look for a different type of probation officer.
The next point on which I would say a word or two is that of lowering the age for borstal to that of 15. I am not satisfied that this is altogether a wise move. If courts make use of the new power at all extensively, it may well be that the result will be worse than the cure. To put boys of 15 into borstals with older boys, even if they are only boys of 17, may have exactly the opposite effect to that which is hoped for. I think that before this step is taken it is certainly imperative to obtain a much fuller report on their antecedents than is provided at present for the courts. As a chairman of quarter sessions, like any other chairman with his fellow magistrates, I have to deal with a large number of cases sent by the lower courts to the quarter sessions for borstal sentences, and with other cases in which we have to consider whether borstal training is the right course to take with young lads coming before us in the ordinary way of indictment. The present Commissioners' Report, which is one of the items in the dossier, so to speak, is altogether too cursory and not sufficiently informative.
1140 I do not want to go into the whole question of getting more information about prisoners, a matter upon which the Streatfeild Committee have reported, and with which I understand my noble friend Baroness Wootton of Abinger will be dealing in her speech. But this is an aspect of the matter which has been much in my mind for a considerable time and I feel that an opportunity ought to be taken in the present Bill, particularly in connection with the transfer of boys from approved schools to borstal institutions, to insist that much fuller information is provided for the tribunal which has to undertake this responsible decision.
I imagine that one of the reasons for providing for this transfer is to deal with the absconders from the approved schools. That is a very real problem, and it seems to be a growing one. We need approved schools where the security arrangements are much better than they are at most of the approved schools at the present time. Only at the last quarter sessions I had two boys before me whom the master said he would not take back because he could not keep them for 24 hours. One of them had absconded four times, and he had always taken some other boys with him. They had always immediately broken into houses, in which they did a great deal of damage, and most of it just wanton damage. Obviously it is necessary for boys like that to be restrained in such a way that they cannot get out, and I should have thought it was better to do that by having full security approved schools than to rely on borstal.
And these absconding boys are not only those of over 15. The particular boy who was the ringleader in the case I mentioned had started this game of absconding at 13; and he was only 14 when I had him before me. I would suggest that the limitation on the power to transfer these boys from approved schools, which I understand in the Bill is at 15, should be removed. Obviously this type of conduct is by no means confined to boys of 15, and I do not understand why the limitation of the age of 15 should appear in the clause.
I am very much in sympathy with the after-care provisions, which I feel are most important. I entirely agree with everything my noble friend Lord Long- 1141 ford said as to the lack of importance which has in the past been attached to this problem, and it is most helpful that during the last few years people like my noble friend and the late Miss Fry have been paying so much attention to it. It seems to me, without claiming to have any particular knowledge of it, that the after-care arrangements depend tremendously on finding jobs for these people to go to. I suppose that is a truism. At the present time, on the whole, it is not altogether difficult to find jobs, but it is not easy to keep the lads or the men in those jobs: it tends to leak out that they have been in prison, and that immediately causes trouble. It is not always easy to find them jobs of the steady-going variety, which require a certain amount of skill, and in which a man is more likely to settle down. I think a significant fact is that the jobs obtained are casual jobs, such as working in a hotel, where the lad soon gets tired and goes off and gets into trouble again. If you could train him to work requiring a good deal of skill, in which he could take pride, I feel that he would be much more likely to settle down. I appreciate that there is a committee working for the Home Office under Sir Wilfrid Ansom on the problem of prisoners, and I hope that they are devoting particular attention to this question of training the young prisoner, which seems to me to be of special importance.
I do not myself believe that it can be done, so to speak, in vacuo. I was interested in what the noble and learned Viscount said about visiting approved schools and being impressed, because I have had exactly the same sort of feeling of the wonderful work going on there. The workshops are often extraordinarily up to date, with fine lathes and beautiful machines. And yet one always has a slight suspicion that as the lads are not working to earn wages, or to sell their products, or something of that kind, there is a certain lack of reality about it, and that with much less beautiful machinery they might be trained in a way that would be more likely to have long-term results, if they could only, so to speak, be harnessed to the general industry of the country.
I appreciate that this opens up difficult problems in relation to trade unions and things of that sort, and we have discussed 1142 it in the more general conspectus of this problem during past debates. But every time I go abroad or hear about the arrangements which are being made in foreign countries, whether in Western European countries or in Communist Russia, I am very much impressed by the fact that they succeed in those countries in harnessing the prison population, or much of it, into the general industrial community: they earn trade union wages, and their goods are sold, and in that way they are in a position to step out of the prison atmosphere into the atmosphere of the general world and settle down, and are much less likely to go wrong again.
Finally, I should like to support what has been said about the winding up of the Prison Commission. I am sure that this would be a serious mistake. It is all very well to talk about the position having changed in the Home Office and that sort of thing; but I have yet to see any really cogent argument for breaking up the Prison Commission. The Prison Commission over the past 50 years or more established its authority in a quite unique way. It may be that in the earliest days it was simply concerned to execute policy decisions taken in the Home Office, but I think that from the time of Sir Ruggles-Brise onwards it has obviously been cross-fertilisation, with most of the fertilisation coming from the Prison Commission. I just cannot imagine that if the Chairman of the Prison Commission was, so to speak, an anonymous bureacrat, head of a division in the Home Office, its present influence for good would continue. I am interested to know that a substantial number of ex-prison governors take the same view; and I believe that even a number of present prison governors (although one cannot pray them in aid, at any rate by name) are of that opinion, too. I am sorry that this clause has come to us from another place, because I had thought that it would be taken out. I hope that the Government will look at this matter again, because I am sure it would be a most unfortunate thing to do. We shall have opportunities to try to get some of these mistakes in the Bill put right on the Committee stage, and I hope that we shall take advantage of them.
§ 7.19 p.m.
My Lords, I rise with a certain degree of temerity, first, 1143 because it is late in the evening and, secondly, because I do not fall into that exalted and revered category of being a legal luminary. But I take part in this debate because I feel very concerned about the increase in the crimes of violence which is occurring throughout the country. I am concerned with this Bill, like my noble friend Lord Ailwyn, not for what it contains, but for what it omits.
I am concerned that there is no measure in this Bill for the reintroduction of the use by the courts of corporal punishment. I am aware, my Lords, that this is a highly controversial subject, and one about which people hold very strong views. I am aware also that it is a subject which is apt to raise deep passions. I respect, indeed, the views of those people who are against the use of corporal punishment, and I realise that those views are held with equal sincerity and just as strongly as are my own views, which are in favour. I shall try to bear that in mind, my Lords, in the course of what I have to say.
There must be few people who are not gravely concerned about the increase in crime which is occurring throughout the country. The incidence of crimes of violence and sexual crimes is far too high for anyone to be complacent, and it is my opinion that those crimes would not only be fewer but would also be more justly punished in some cases were the reintroduction of the birch and the cane for people under 21 brought about. I think it is an acknowledged fact that the majority of irresponsibility most easily corrected by corporal punishment takes place in people under 21, who have no particular responsibility, are unmarried and are not fully adult.
To my mind, the advantage of corporal punishment lies directly in two ways, although it has other indirect advantages. Its two advantages are, first, as a punishment and, secondly, as a deterrent. I am of the opinion, my Lords—and I see no reason to be ashamed of it—that a person who transgresses the law should be liable to be punished for it and that suitable punishment may in certain cases be corporal punishment. I think that those of us who are against corporal punishment, as well as, indeed, those of us who are in favour of it will admit that we dislike all forms of punishment. I do not care for corporal punish- 1144 ment for what it is; I do not care for prisons and all that the thought of them conjures up—borstals and the thought of people contained in them. But, my Lords, I dislike far more the thought of harmless and respectable people being coshed and slashed, and girls being assaulted, not by people who cannot control themselves, but by people who can control themselves but will not.
The second direct advantage is, to my mind, the deterrent value. It is sometimes said that corporal punishment is no deterrent. Of course it is a deterrent. But what is important is whether it is more of a deterrent than the other things which exist for punishing offenders. I do not propose to try to prove to your Lordships that it is a deterrent, because I believe that that is impossible; it is indeed as impossible as it is to prove that it is not. Arguments and statistics can be brought forth on both sides. They may be brought forth but they are no proof; they merely add weight to one's case. I would merely draw your Lordships' attention to the words of the noble and learned Viscount who sits on the Woolsack, when he spoke in one of the debates on capital punishment. He said:You can never tell when the deterrent has worked. You can only tell when it has failed.How true that is! But it does not stop me from being convinced in my own mind that corporal punishment is a deterrent, as also, I believe, is the Home Secretary convinced, for, of course, he retains it for use in prisons.
My Lords, crimes of violence have increased alarmingly since the war—in fact, by a startling amount. If one looks at just a few statistics, one sees that in 1938 there were 2,721 crimes of violence, and in 1959 there were 13,876 cases: an increase of 510 per cent. Of crimes of violence by people under seventeen, in 1938 there were 116, and in 1959 there were 1,231: an increase of 1,061 per cent. Of crimes of violence by young males between seventeen and twenty-one, in 1938 there were 163, and in 1959 there were 2,366: an increase of 1,451 per cent. It may be said that, when corporal punishment existed before the war, there were five times fewer crimes of violence, and in the case of young people crimes of violence were ten times fewer. I would not be foolish enough to claim 1145 that that is entirely the result of abolishing corporal punishment. I merely state the facts and let noble Lords draw whatever deductions they wish from them.
But, my Lords, I believe that totally inadequate steps are taken to deal with these young offenders. Instead of punishment being given to the young offender, on so many occasions we are often led to believe that he is some form of mental patient. I believe this attitude to be wrong in many cases. There are many young thugs who commit crimes of violence and are not lacking in mentality at all, but who are lacking in discipline and who, far from considering others, merely use others as a means of inflating their own egoism. Here, my Lords, I make one great distinction. There is all the difference in the world between the man who has a warped and diseased mind and who, as a result, cannot help committing some crime or some sexual act, and the lout who does not care about the thoughts or lives of other people, and is merely out for his own self-gratification. The first deserves all the benefits that modern mental treatment can give. The second, to my mind, frequently deserves the birch. Furthermore—and this is the point—the second should not, for the sake of convenience, or for the sake of the appearance of being broad-minded, be confused with the first.
Without question, the general public are alarmed and terrified at the waves of crime that are passing through the country. The Home Secretary has suggested that the newspapers should "soft pedal" on the subject, and that they are inflating it to extravagant proportions. With respect, my Lords, I think that he is wrong. I think that the public should be fully aware of the terrible and detestable crimes which are being perpetrated, and of the measures by which these young thugs are dealt with.
I should like, if I may, just to quote an odd case or so of the type of thing that has happened in my own county of Norfolk within the last eighteen months, a place which one would not consider to be a hotbed of crime. In one case there was a group of young Teddy-boys who made an unprovoked attack on a group of Royal Air Force men in King's Lynn. It ended up by being a fight between the leader of the Teddy-boy gang and one of the R.A.F. men. The remainder 1146 of the gang linked arms and encircled the two, so that the public could not interfere and could not help. The R.A.F. man was kicked unconscious by the youth, who was wearing specially studded and plated boots. In the course of the fight, the Teddy-boy had half his ear bitten off. As a result of the prosecution the youth was fined £20, and afterwards he bragged to his gang, in front of both the police and the public, that the penalty meant nothing to him. Within three months he was prosecuted again for using threatening behaviour, and fined £5. This is not an uncommon incident.
Another concerned a group of Teddy-boys who mounted the top deck of a double-decker bus, where there were a few grammar-school boys. The leader of the Teddy-boys picked on a fourteen-year old boy and assaulted him without provocation. The senior boy, who was a prefect, intervened and remonstrated with the leader. The remainder of the gang attempted to provoke him to a fight, but without success; whereupon one Teddy-boy attacked and struck him violent blows in the face with his fist, which was reinforced with a metal chain wrapped around his knuckles. The Teddy-boys left, assaulting two or three younger boys on the way. They were reported to the police later that evening, and the whole gang were arrested. The court put them on probation.
The third case to which I would draw attention occurred when a thirteen-year-old girl was brutally assaulted by a married man aged 20. He tried to have intercourse with her against her will. When she screamed, he kicked her in the face and subjected her to severe physical blows. He was fined £50 for indecent assault and £6 15s. costs. I am aware of the danger of quoting in your Lordships' House things out of their context. But I would merely say this: Are we right, in these types of cases, to debar completely the use of corporal punishment by the courts should they deem it fit to use it? Are we convinced that the measures available to the courts are strong enough to punish the offender, to deter the potential criminal, and to protect the public? I think that they are far from adequate, and I would welcome a strengthening in the power of the courts with regard to the cane or the birch. They may not be used frequently, 1147 but they would at least be another weapon in the armoury to be used when occasion justified it. I think there is nothing more pathetic than to read of a Judge or a magistrate, who has heard the case and all the facts put forward on both sides, and who has the interests of the public and the offender in mind, giving judgment and saying, "Of course, I should like to send you to be birched, but I am not allowed to." These types of case are happening frequently all over the country.
If I may trouble your Lordships, I should like to quote an extract of a comment of the Sunday Dispatch. It says:Yesterday the Dispatch made a random selection from local papers in the London area. They all carry reports of crimes committed last weekend. One paper actually records: 'Local police, C.I.D. officers, dogs, and ambulance men were working non-stop (coping with robberies and attacks) from dusk on Friday until dawn on Monday.'This is the tally:Local paper No. 1.—Sixteen crimes ranging from burglaries to indecent assault.Local paper No. 2.—Ten crimes, from a gang fight to a threat to carve up young girls.Local papers Nos. 3 and 4.—Fifteen crimes including thuggery and assault, menaces, insulting behaviour, indecent assault, housebreaking and burglary.I think this is a terrifying state of affairs, and one which should be dealt with with the utmost urgency and expediency.
My Lords, I believe that corporal punishment, far from doing harm, is often better than the alternatives of prison or borstal. The penalty is of short duration. It may be painful, but it is not harmful, and it is a lot better than closeting up a young man with a number of hardened criminals. That is the best way to turn an amateur criminal into a professional. It is of interest also to note the contents of a letter published in the Daily Mail from a master of a borstal institution who conducted his own private inquiry among the 53 boys under his charge. His name, curiously enough, was Mr. Gash, and of the 53 boys under his charge, 51 favoured the reintroduction of corporal punishment. Some of the reasons given were these:It would teach us a better lesson than this place—it's a 'kip' here.It would stop lads getting into trouble more than once.1148It would stop lads like me getting a record.I got borstal for my first offence and I've learnt more about crime here than I ever knew.The birch would hurt us. Borstal doesn't. It's too soft—that's why we don't mind a second time inside.We all hate crime, and I think we all hate punishment. I believe that it is surely the prime duty of the Government to protect the lives of the citizens; to make towns and streets and the country places safe for people to live in, to work in and to walk in. To my mind, the Government are failing in this respect. I have tried to explain why I think the reintroduction of corporal punishment is not only desirable but essential. I am aware that, in so doing, I have taken up more of your Lordships' time than I should have done, and that in the process I may have offended the views of some of your Lordships. If I have, I certainly apologise. But the fact that I hold these views also entitles me to hold the view that the Home Secretary and the Government, by introducing a Bill such as this present Bill, with no provision for corporal punishment, are doing a disservice against not only the interests but also the wishes of the vast majority of the country.
§ 7.36 p.m.
§ LORD CROFT
My Lords, I welcome this Bill, particularly Clauses 4 to 7, and implicitly the great building programme the Government have undertaken, without whioh these clauses cannot be implemented. These are the clauses which provide more appropriate methods of punishment for the younger offenders between the ages of 14 and 20 by greatly extending the system of detention centres, thus keeping young offenders under 21 away from the demoralising effect of prisons. As I see it, these detention centres will be, and are, more of a deterrent than the prisons and, at the same time, far more remedial. In them, you have a brisk régime; there is something going on all the time. There is education and guidance, and the main thing about them is that the whole day is organised and these youths kept on the move, whereas in prison there is a lot of waiting about and the general atmosphere is much more demoralising and less bracing. I should say that many of these Teddy-boys prefer the prison atmosphere much more than the atmosphere of the detention centre.
1149 That brings me to the matter of the régime of the detention centres, and I must admit that I do not know very much about them. I have not actually been to see one, and what I know is derived from reading the papers and from hearing what people say who have been to see them. This régime becomes of paramount importance now that in a few months' time, or at any rate in a year's time, there will be a large number of new prisoners entering a greatly increased number of detention centres. I believe the ultimate number of centres will be twelve. It may well be that the courts will inadvertently commit young men to these detention centres who in some way or other are unsuitable for the rather strenuous régime there. Therefore would urge Her Majesty's Government to consider very carefully the régime which takes place in the detention centres and, if necessary, to vary it to take into account those abnormal people who may be mentally disturbed—they may be inadequate; they may be incompetent in some way—and who are incapable of deriving benefit from the standard régime at present in force in those centres. In this respect, I would endorse what the noble Earl, Lord Longford, said when he advised that each detention centre should have, a social worker attached to the staff.
Especially welcome is the extension of compulsory supervision and after-care to the three categories of prisoners mentioned in Clause 21 and the Third Schedule. This provision marks a great step forward and should do much to help the prisoners concerned to rehabilitate during the vital year following their release, and probably also may save some of them from relapsing into a life of crime. This is clearly going to lead to a great increase of work for the hard-worked probation officers, and I sincerely hope that the Order bringing it into effect will not be made until the manpower position of the probation service, on whom the burden will mainly fall, has been improved. It is to be hoped also that there will be room for increased activity by the voluntary societies; and here I would echo what was said by the right reverend Prelate, the Lord Bishop of Exeter, who suggested that the State should give some measure of support to these societies.
On the issue of corporal punishment I allowed myself to be influenced by 1150 the two Reports, the Cadogan Report of 1938 and the Departmental report of 1960. Having read both the Reports and all the evidence which is summarised in them under the various headings of medical evidence, statistical evidence, evidence from various societies and individuals, and also the practical difficulties involved, I was persuaded that judicial corporal punishment should not be reimposed; and I congratulate the Government on having resisted the agitation for the reintroduction of corporal punishment. In view of those Reports, I think it would have been difficult to have reintroduced corporal punishment. I am not saying that corporal punishment is not a deterrent; it obviously is. But there is nothing about it which is more specially deterrent or more deterrent than other forms of punishment.
In conclusion, I congratulate Her Majesty's Government on introducing a Bill which at the same time takes account of the necessity to deter firmly the young offender from crime while also going some considerable way towards establishing more humane and scientific methods of treatment for offenders, thereby making the repetition of crime less likely.
§ 7.45 p.m.
§ BARONESS WOOTTON OF ABINGER
My Lords, perhaps the best description of this Bill might be that it is a generous pouring of new wine into old bottles. This is a practice against which we have been warned at the highest level; nevertheless we sometimes find ourselves in the position that we have new wine which we wish to use and the supply of appropriate bottles is altogether inadequate. In this case some of the wine, I think, is in the Bill, and the bottles are the physical buildings which we have inherited from an outmoded penal system, on the one hand, and to some extent also, on the other hand, a traditional and obscurantist philosophy. I do not know which is the more lasting obstacle to reform, but I suspect that to some extent both are already crumbling.
Much alarm has been expressed, and understandably, at the increase not only in crime as recorded in the statistics but, more particularly, in serious crimes of violence, and I am sure that we all share in a sense of grave concern at these incidents. I never quite understand, at the 1151 same time, why it is regarded as particularly deplorable that so high a proportion of our crimes is committed by young persons. About one-third of indictable offences are committed by people under 17, and about half the offences of breaking and entering are committed by persons of that age. After all if you turn that fact the other way up you might get very considerable encouragement, because at least it is evidence that as we grow older we grow better, and I think it might be a great deal nastier if crime continued throughout life perhaps at an ever-increasing rate of aggravation. But after the age of 30, in the case of the male—and the crimes committed by females are, as we know, negligible—the crime rate drops, as your Lordships are well aware, to something about one-eighth of what it is in the peak age group of 14 to 17.
Let us cheer ourselves up for a moment by recalling that from the age of 14 improvement begins. Crimes of serious violence are, of course, an incident particularly of young manhood. They are not so much an incident of the under-17's. I myself—and I think of this with a sober concern—reckon that I must have personally tried something between 6,000 and 7,000 juveniles. I do not think that I can recall more than about one in a thousand—some half dozen of those cases—which were offences of serious violence.
After 17, from 17 to 21, of course the incidence is greater, and it is, I suppose, to that age group particularly that this Bill is directed. We welcome very much the clause of the Bill which proposes to keep out of prison persons under 17. This is a remarkable and welcome advance, and I think we are prepared—or some of us are—subject to safeguards, to accept the lowering of the borstal age to 15. On this there can be two opinions. But we must recognise that there are young persons of 15 who are a serious public danger.
I have in mind an acquaintance of mine who has an irresistible desire to drive other people's motor cars, and a rather high-class taste in the exercise of this practice. The last time he appeared in my court he was charged with taking and driving a car, and eighteen other similar cases were taken into consideration, none of them concerning a car less expensive than a Jaguar. I think we 1152 should all agree, that such a young man must in some way be restrained. But we are very much concerned at the idea that young men, indeed boys of 15, who must be detained and for whom a borstal régime, whilst rather more grown-up, might be more suitable than approved schools, should languish in prison for a number of weeks while waiting to get there. The Ingleby Committee recommended that magistrates' courts should have power to commit direct to borstal, and I think it must be a corollary of the lowering of the age that direct committal should be permitted. A remand centre is not necessarily the answer. It is not only the delay in prison to which objection can be taken.
Now let us turn for a moment to the "new wine". The "new wine" of this Bill is, I think, the emphasis on a flexible treatment. It was, to me, a very great encouragement to hear the Lord Chief Justice and the noble and learned Lord, Lord Denning, alike welcome the provision that makes for flexible treatment in the case of the young offender, even though this deprives the courts of the power which they have hitherto had. I am not sure that we have fully appreciated the implications of the indeterminate sentence. The Lord Chief Justice, I think, went so far as to say that in some cases he would welcome an indeterminate sentence, even in an older age group. The essential implication of the indeterminate sentence is that it commits us to a particular objective in sentencing. It commits us, in determining the length and nature of the sentence, to considering what the result of the exercise is going to be, and it must be essentially a sentence directed to the future.
If we are trying to assess the culpability of an offender, that is a relatively simple matter inasmuch as it is a matter only of past history. It is a matter of considering the nature of the offence and any mitigating circumstances; but it is all over and done with, and the offence is in history. If it is a matter of considering the result of a sentence, then the sentencing becomes a question of a rational act directed towards a particular end, and it becomes a matter which must be judged by rational criteria. If a sentence is to be indeterminate, the Prison Commissioners will not take into account the blameworthiness of an offender in 1153 considering when he should be released; they will take into account the probability of his offending again and the effect upon the public of his being returned to the community. They will, in fact, be thinking of the future results of their actions, and not of the punitive effect upon a particular individual.
I do not know whether your Lordships could bear with me if I were to refer for a moment to the great emphasis on this aspect of sentencing which was laid recently by the Streatfeild Committee, of which I had the honour to be a member. In the Report of that Committee we read:… the key to advance in this field is to recognise the fundamental difference between assessing culpability and pursuing the other objectives of sentencing t namely, that where a court is seeking to reform, to deter or to protect, it is seeking to control future events rather than simply to pass judgment on past events.… Where a court passes a sentence of corrective training rather than imprisonment, it is implicit that it has reason to believe that corrective training has a better chance of reforming the offender.… The most satisfactory ground for such beliefs is that similar sentences previously imposed in similar circumstances have had the desired result.… Unless the results of this observation are properly marshalled and systematically made available to the courts, sentences aimed at controlling future events are largely speculative, and the court cannot even know whether such objectives are practicable.My Lords, in the debate to-day we have heard a great many expressions of opinion: one believes in corporal punishment; one believes in capital punishment; one does not believe in corporal punishment or capital punishment. These are all expressions of personal opinion, and they are often stated with considerable emotion. What I think is important in this indeterminate sentence is that it nay lead us out of the field of opinion and omission into the field of exact observation and information. I do not propose to say anything at all about either capital or corporal punishment. There is no reference to corporal punishment in the Bill, and I hope that there never will be. I listened with the closest attention to the speech made by the noble Lord, Lord Ailwyn, in a rather despairing hope that there might be one sentence with which I could find myself in agreement. There were in fact two such sentences, one when he said that the Homicide Act, 1957, was a compromise—with which I myself am glad to be associated; I mean the sentence not the 1154 compromise—and the other when, in his opening observations, he regretted that the Bill did not go far enough. For my part I wish that it had gone further in the opposite direction.
There are one or two omissions from the Bill which I regret, but perhaps we can correct them at a later stage. One omission that I should like to see remedied is a determined attempt to keep the young offender in the community. The Bill lays considerable emphasis throughout on custodial treatment, and particularly upon detention centres. It has now, I think, become the reasoned doctrine that short sentences of imprisonment are to be deprecated. Magistrates have repeatedly been told that a short sentence merely familiarises a man with a penal institution and gives no opportunity for reform. I think we need to be a little careful that we do not substitute a short sentence in the detention centre for a short sentence of imprisonment, with all the same objections.
I notice that there is a special language for detention centres. The appropriate adjectives are "brisk", "bracing" "energetic", and the appropriate noun is always "discipline". The detention centres have lived always under the shadow of a particular cliché—that of the "short, sharp shock". I hope that noble Lords who use that expression will remember to finish the quotation:A short, sharp shockWith a cheap and chippy chopperOn a big black block".That is the full quotation. That might appeal to the noble Lord, Lord Ailwyn, but I do not think that it was in the minds of those who devised the detention centre. Surely, we ought to try desperately to keep the young offender in the community. So far as the young offender is concerned, and possibly so far as the offender of any age is concerned, the only real reason for incarceration is the protection of the public. That is the basic reason why people must be segregated from the community. It is a compelling reason in cases of serious violence such as the noble Earl, Lord Ferrers, quoted. But these are still exceptions, and most of the offences which figure in criminal statistics have a high nuisance value and perhaps not a very great deal else. And it is surely important that young people should learn, by an educative process within the community in which they are 1155 to live their lives, not to commit these offences.
One of the greatest drawbacks of our existing penal structure is, I think, its irrelevance. The disciplined, brisk, bracing, energetic régime is all very well. It lasts for a few months, but no one is able to explain very clearly how it teaches someone to behave better. I remember very well going to a detention centre and noticing the emphasis, in the quasi-military discipline then laid upon the boys, on folding their clothes in the proper way and placing them at the end of their beds. They had to be exactly so. I looked at this and asked the warden if he would tell me how emphasis on the correct way of folding one's clothes on a bed each day taught anyone not to steal. It was not a very popular question.
I believe that we must give attention, above everything, to the relevance of the way in which we try to re-educate those who will not keep to the rules; and this applies no less to the attendance centres, which I greatly hope we are going to see, of the type to which so many noble Lords have referred to-day, and about which Sir Basil Henriques has spoken. I do not think we can accept the view that handicrafts are necessarily a corrective of delinquent tendencies, nor even the view held in some quarters that the sight of a high mountain, and still more the effort of scaling the mountain, somehow purges criminal instincts. If we are to have young offenders kept in the community, we must do a great deal of serious thinking about the kind of training, just as much as about the fact that there should be training in these centres; and we have to relate the training to the actual lives the people are going to live and the actual temptations they are going to experience. This is an aspect that we have not thought about enough.
I think that psychologists long ago disposed of the theory that if one is highly trained in one thing it enables one automatically to excel in others—the theory of the transference of mental training. The same theory applies to the artificial régime which prevails in penal institutions. A man who is detained in any kind of penal institution lives a life which is wholly artificial and far removed from any environment to which he is to be returned; and the transfer of what he 1156 learns in prison to what he is going to do outside is a transfer which is very unlikely to take place in the sense that the prison authorities wish.
There is one other omission from the Bill that I deeply regret; that is, that it does not raise the age of criminal responsibility. Perhaps we shall have another Bill, a Children and Young Persons Bill, which will make good this omission. As your Lordships know, this, too, was recommended by the Ingleby Committee. I know it will be said that there is no adequate provision for dealing outside the courts with difficult and naughty children between the ages of 8 and 12 years. At a later stage perhaps we can meet that argument. But after a long experience of 20-odd years in the juvenile courts, the one firm impression that I carry away is that they are, at the best, totally inappropriate instruments for dealing with young children. We cannot teach children to behave by parading them in front of strangers.
When the right honourable gentleman the Home Secretary was speaking on the final stage of this Bill in another place, I believe he claimed—and rightly claimed—that he had been very modest about it. If I may borrow a somewhat famous saying from another context, I would add that he had plenty to be modest about—and not only he. All of us who, in however humble a capacity, are associated with the administration of criminal justice in this country have reason to be modest, indeed to be humble, even ashamed. And if I may say so without disrespect, that surely goes for Her Majesty's Judges, for magistrates and for prison officials. For we are all great failures.
The evidence, my Lords, lies in the criminal statistics. It lies in the facts of recidivism, the full extent of which we do not fully learn. The most astonishing evidence of all lies in some figures quoted in another place by the honourable gentleman, Sir George Benson, which show that whatever the treatment meted out to offenders, be they sent to detention centres or to prison, be they given short sentences of imprisonment or long sentences, one can tell, before they go in, in which cases the treatment is going to succeed and in which it is going to fail. In other words, our vast and expensive penal 1157 structure does not make a ha'p'orth of difference to the persons who are subjected to it. Perhaps one should not put it as strongly as that; but at least this Bill shows that we are going to try to think constructively about the aims of our policy.
The Bill contains no fundamental rethinking of our penal philosophy, but it has at least accepted the view that the right penal policy is the one which succeeds, which discourages crime. The figures suggest that the right penal policy in that sense has not yet been found. But once we admit that that is our objective we are well on the way to marshalling the experience which will show us the road to that goal. Exact observation and orderly marshalling of experience have conquered space. I think it is the merit of this Bill that, at least by implication, it admits that the same weapons might prove no less powerful in the conquest of ourselves.
§ 8.9 p.m.
§ THE LORD CHANCELLOR
My Lords, I have one very pleasant, personal reason for enjoying making this speech, and that is that this debate gave an opportunity for the maiden speech of my noble and learned friend Lord Morris of Borth-y-Gest. He has gained distinction as a lawyer and a judge, and as a prominent Welshman and Pro-Chancellor of the University of Wales. But, more than that, he has conferred distinction on many friends by the friendship which he has extended to them, including myself for many years. It was a joy to hear him, and we wait with great expectation for his next speech.
The second point which gave me pleasure was the flat statement of the noble Baroness, Lady Wootton of Abinger, that this is a subject in which none of us can feel pride but in which every one of us can feel a spur of stimulation to try something better. There was only one point on which I did not agree broadly with her approach. I would respectfully say that she underestimates the effect of discipline and the activity and energetic approach to the detention centre. At the end of this very long debate, I am sure I shall put it badly, but I should like to give her the way it appeals to me. If you start from smartness, and proceed from smartness to combine with it fitness and 1158 endurance, and if you learn at the same time the ability to take orders without resentment, and often with pride, then you come not only to hope and expectation of efficiency in yourself but to a mastery of yourself which I cannot but believe is helpful on a return to the outside world. I know that some of my noble friends will not have to look very far to find the source of these remarks of mine, but they convey something in which I believe very strongly.
I think that, apart from the questions of corporal and capital punishment, one of the remarkable features of this debate is that it has not raised great issues or divisions of principle. Therefore I hope that your Lordships will bear with me if I deal with a number of points of great interest, but of secondary controversial value, which have been raised by the various speakers. May I take the first one of the noble Earl, Lord Longford, which comes into my mind? The noble Earl asked me about the general problem of the recruitment of prison staff. I should like to put the position to him as I see it. I agree that we are suffering from a shortage of prison officers. Our need is for about 300 recruits a year to keep up to present strength at the present rate of wastage, which is about 25 a month. In addition to the replacement of normal wastage, we are committed to the opening of new establishments, and for these we shall require about 500 extra men if these establishments are to be fully manned and if our commitments in relation to existing establishments are to be fully met. We are also committed, as I think the noble Earl himself has reminded us on previous occasions, to introducing an eleven-day-fortnight as and when the staff position enables us to do it.
It is quite true that the recruitment figure dropped seriously in the autumn of 1960, but an increase in pay ranging from 18s. 6d. to 25s. 6d. a week for the basic-grade prison officer was agreed in January last, and this, coupled with vigorous measures to stimulate recruitment, has already resulted in an improvement in the recruiting situation. The latest figures for officers who have joined for training are those for the April batch, in which 115 men and 7 women joined, compared with 89 men and 9 women in the February batch, 75 men and 8 women in the December 1159 batch and 64 men and 7 women in the October, 1960, batch. These batches represent a two-month intake. We have carried out an intensive series of test advertising campaigns in the North and North-West of England, where plans are advanced for an increase in publicity among members of the Armed Forces and for an increase in recruiting literature being distributed through Ministry of Labour offices. I agree, and I know that the noble Earl takes this view, that the prison service is doing a fine job. It offers a very rewarding career, if one that has its difficulties, and the Government are taking all steps open to them to make the excellent opportunities which the service offers more widely known. So I ask the noble Earl to believe that we have that problem in mind. I do not want ever to try to over-paint the picture, but, from the beginnings, it appears it may be getting better.
The noble Earl asked me what the position was in regard to approved schools; whether the clauses are only a stop-gap, and whether more fundamental measures are contemplated. The answer is that the Bill is already based on the main recommendations relating to approved schools of the Ingleby Committee and the Durand Report—that is, in so far as they require legislation. The Ingleby Committee say, in paragraph 91 on page 162:The existing blend of management of approved schools by local authorities and voluntary bodies should be continued, but there is need to improve the position as regards the constitution of voluntary committees of management.That is what we are trying to do in this Bill. As I said in my opening speech, we believe the existing system is basically sound, though it needs strengthening in certain respects, and the Bill gives what additional powers are needed for that purpose.
I do not want to dwell at any length on the question of the film which was referred to at the beginning of the debate. The position, as I understand it, is that the Prison Commissioners saw the script, criticised it in a number of particulars and asked for alterations. They saw a rehearsal for the film, but on the bare floor and without the settings of properties. They again asked for a number of alterations, and some were made, but the company were not pre- 1160 pared to make them all. My Lords, it is very difficult to obtain authenticity in fictional entertainment. The Commissioners had no power to ban the film, but it does not represent their policy. In particular, they repudiate the portrait drawn of the warden. I think that is almost entirely what the noble Earl thought the answer would be.
May I say one other word? The former warden of the detention centre was moved not because of some defect in his work or policy; it is quite unfounded to say that he was. He was moved to another establishment in the normal course, about a year or so ago, having spent several successful years at the centre since its opening. My noble friend Lord Bessborough asked me to say that he had no intention of suggesting that the warden was moved as a punishment, or because of some defect. The noble Earl is here, but I have much pleasure in saying what he asked me to say.
§ THE EARL OF LONGFORD
My Lords, may I thank the Lord Chancellor very sincerely for that answer, which I feel will give a lot of comfort in excellent quarters? Since he mentioned the noble Earl, Lord Bessborough, I should like to say that I did not understand him to say that anyone has been removed, and so I hope he is now much happier.
§ LORD STONHAM
My Lords, may I also say that I saw the film, and while I support my noble friend in the comment he made, I would say that the warden in the film was portrayed as a wholly sympathetic and understanding character.
§ THE LORD CHANCELLOR
My Lords, I am very glad to hear that. I did not see the film. The noble Lord, Lord Stonham, said that the series was useful and helpful, and one with the right approach. I must say that the two or three of the series that I have seen bear out entirely what he said as to the general approach of these films. I do not think I have seen more than two or three, but, so far as I have seen them, they do do that.
With regard to the question of the abolition of the Prison Commission, I tried to describe the situation as it exists today. Although I could go into the 1161 question at greater length, I am sure it is a matter the noble Earl and his friends will want to discuss on the Committee stage; so, after this long debate, having put my general point, I hope the House will not think me discourteous if I do not go into that detail now. As regards Annual Reports, it will be observed that Clause. 25, subsection (3), provides that an Order in Council transferring any functions of the Prison Commissioners must require an Annual Report to be made to Parliament by the Secretary of State in respect of transferred questions; so I think full information will be given.
Finally, I think the noble Earl, Lord Longford, asked me about the organisation of after-care. As he knows, because he mentioned it later, the Home Secretary has asked his Advisory Council on the Treatment of Offenders to review the arrangements for the organisation of statutory and voluntary after-care for persons discharged from prisons, borstals, detention centres and approved schools, and to consider whether any charges are necessary or desirable. The Boston scheme has also been referred by the Home Secretary to the Advisory Council, and the terms of reference are:To consider whether there is scope in this country for new methods of non-residential treatment of offenders under 21, with particular reference to the provision of training on the lines of that provided by the Citizen Training Centre in Boston".So both these points have been referred to the Council. Someone asked me whether they had actually started, but I am afraid I have not that information. However, in both cases I was given the terms of reference, and about ten days ago these were referred to the Council. The paper I have is dated, but it may have been earlier than that; and if there is any relevance to the point, I will let the noble Lord, Lord Stonham know.
THE LORD BISHOP OF EXETER
My Lords, perhaps it would help your Lordships if I said that the Advisory Council had its first meeting on these matters this afternoon.
§ THE LORD CHANCELLOR
Then that answers the point. I am grateful to the right reverend Prelate for his help.
Now we come to the major points of principle which were introduced into our discussions, in the perfectly proper way that they were not in the Bill and that, 1162 in the opinion of various of your Lordships, they ought to be. That is, and I hope always will be, a perfectly proper approach to a Second Reading debate.
On the question of capital punishment, there are many people who, like the noble Earl, Lord Bessborough, conscientiously believe that capital punishment is wrong and cannot in any circumstances be justified. There are many others who regard it as the only appropriate penalty for the more brutal forms of murder and as a unique deterrent—I think my noble friend Lord Ailwyn mentioned that. Again, there are others who believe that it should be retained, at least for certain types of murder, but who would like to see the minimum age of eligibility raised from 18 to 21. What is perfectly clear is that all these views not only exist, but are held with great strength. In the light of these conflicting views, the Government believe that, for the moment, the right thing is to leave the law unchanged.
The existing law, which was laid down in 1957 in the Homicide Act, was the result of much anxious consideration and earnest debate. I was responsible for it in your Lordships' House, and your Lordships will remember the debates we had on the Committee stage. In the view of the Government it is too early yet, after only four years' experience of the operation of the new provisions, to attempt to assess their value or to consider any amendment to the law. For the comfort of my noble friend Lord Ailwyn, however, I may say that I have certain figures which are comforting to me, at any rate. I know all the dangers about statistics, but I should like to give them to the noble Lord because I know how much consideration he has given to the point. The annual average of the number of murders known to the police, including cases which were subsequently dealt with as manslaughter on account of diminished responsibility, from 1952 to 1955, was 140. The average for the period 1957 to 1960 was 165, an increase of 18 per cent. The corresponding increase in crimes of violence during the same period was 80 per cent. I think that, without pointing the moral or adorning the tale, those figures bring some comfort on this question.
Now, my Lords, I come to the other question, corporal punishment. That has 1163 been earnestly stressed with great restraint, if I may say so, by my noble friend Lord Ailwyn, my noble and learned friend the Lord Chief Justice, my noble friend Lord Fortescue, and my noble friend Lord Ferrers. I think they would all agree with this: that before reintroducing this form of punishment, the Government would have to be convinced that it would be an effective deterrent and/or that it would give increased protection to potential victims of crimes of violence. I take these two points because they are really the double thesis on which my noble friend Lord Ferrers advanced his argument.
I accept that my noble friends and those who advocate corporal punishment (and I recognise that they have much support in public opinion) believe that it would make a useful contribution to the reduction of violent crime. But this is not the view of those who have made an objective study of the available evidence. Only last year my right honourable friend the Home Secretary asked his Advisory Council on the Treatment of Offenders to consider whether there were any grounds for reintroducing any form of corporal punishment as a judicial penalty in respect of any category of offences or offenders. The Council's Report, which was published last November, shows that it was the unanimous opinion of its members that judicial corporal punishment should not be introduced.
The right reverend Prelate the Lord Bishop of Exeter will correct me, but I think that it is broadly understood that this endorses the view of the Cadogan Committee only in the present circumstances, whereas the Cadogan Committee were dealing with the circumstances of 23 years ago. My noble and learned friend the Lord Chief Justice, who I am sorry to say is not here, mentioned the arguments of the Advisory Council and I think that it would be fair for me to summarise as shortly as possible the arguments on which the Council depend. The first is thatit would mean putting the clock back not twelve years, but a hundred years.I think that that is broadly correct, because, for some 90 years before 1948, the only offence for which the "cat" was used was robbery with violence. 1164 Noble Lords are really going back to the position of 1861—and that is a fairly long way to turn the clock back. It makes one think. The second argument, to which my noble and learned friend was not inclined to attach much importance, is that the reintroduction of corporal punishment would be certain to damage our reputation as the country which had been a pioneer in the use of enlightened methods of penal treatment. My noble friend Lord James of Rusholme adopted that view, if I caught the sense of his remarks rightly, by asking, "Why should young people in this country require treatment which is not needed by the young people of other countries in Europe?" That was his presentation of the argument.
Then the Council say thatThere is no evidence that corporal punishment is an especially effective deterrent either to those who have received it or to others.This is a matter which the Cadogan Committee went into very carefully, as the Advisory Council have done again, and that is their conclusion. Then there is the point thatjudicial corporal punishment is out of line with modern penal methods and would militate against the success of reformative treatment, such as probation or borstal training.My noble and learned friend Lord Denning gave a limited example of that, but as I understand them, the Council deal with this on the broader line that it would have an adverse effect on the line of conduct we are pursuing. They also say thatmany of the new methods contemplated under the Criminal Justice Act, 1948, have not been fully tried and they are to be greatly developed in the immediate future.I should like to come back to that aspect in answer to the point of my noble friend Lord Ailwyn and his worry that we are not proceeding with a sense of urgency and energy. But before I do so I must take the final point—the practical objections and difficulties which strengthen the case against judicial corporal punishment. There is the one which my noble and learned friend Lord Denning mentioned, about who is going to do it; and there is the one which my noble and learned friend Lord Parker of Waddington admitted was his greatest difficulty. As the Council put it:The most important of these objections is the delay that must occur between the commission of the offence and the infliction of the 1165 punishment. This would be particularly harmful to juvenile offenders.These, my Lords, are six formidable reasons. We considered them and the Government accepted the recommendation based on them. But I want to say to my noble friend Lord Ailwyn that we do not think that, by advocating the increased use of these methods, we are being lazy and not showing a sense of urgency or energy. I would ask my noble friend to believe that there are few positions in life more difficult than that of the Home Secretary, responsible for putting new methods into operation at a time when there are all other claims of houses, factories, hospitals, nuclear development, and all the other matters with which my noble friend is so familiar. I tried to show in my speech that whatever was the position of responsibility in earlier days, we are now getting the building programme going, and we hope that that, coupled with the considerable improvements that are made in methods by this Bill, will give everyone concerned a better chance on the treatment side. I should like to assure my noble friend that it is in that spirit of going ahead with drive and energy that we believe the problem will be tackled.
I come now to a point that was raised first by the right reverend Prelate the Lord Bishop of Exeter, and later developed by the noble Lord, Lord Stonham. Both expressed some doubt about the ability of the probation service to bear the extra burden of work that will result from the Bill and hoped that the Government realise the importance of improving recruitment to the service. Other noble Lords had the same feeling. I should like to tell the House that at present the probation service is the subject of a study by a Departmental Committee, under the chairmanship of Sir Ronald Morison, which was appointed in May, 1959, and has therefore had an opportunity of making a good deal of progress with its task. The Government must await the Committee's report before considering what needs to be done to strengthen the probation service. Then (and this is a point on which I was asked for an undertaking), the various provisions of the Bill are to be brought in stage by stage, and the process will be timed so as not to place too heavy a burden on the service. I think that that is what the noble Lord, Lord 1166 Stonham, wanted me to say before this debate finished.
My noble friend Lord Raglan had doubts about the reduction of the borstal age to 15. Of course the general argument for that is that there are 15-year-olds whom we do not want to send to an approved school, but, on the other hand, we do not think there is a need for them to go to prison. My noble friend was worried about the educational side of it. I should like to tell him that education classes are already held at all borstals, mainly in the evenings; but at some there are day-time classes for backward boys, or for those of more advanced standards who may study for the General Certificate of Education. There are part-time and full-time tutor organisers at each borstal; professional teachers are provided by the local education authorities, and the arrangements are inspected by Her Majesty's Inspectors of Education. If my noble friend would like further details, he will find fuller information in the Prison Commissioners' Annual Report for 1959, at page 82.
My noble friend Lord Raglan also said that it would undermine respect for the staff of approved schools if policemen were brought in to remove recalcitrants. Unfortunately, the experience of the Carlton School has shown the need for a power of the kind conferred by Clause 15 of the Bill. The Government are sure that it will seldom be required, but the existence of the provision for use in emergency will greatly strengthen the hands of the managers and staffs of approved schools to deal with a small proportion of difficult inmates who might otherwise disrupt discipline.
§ LORD STONHAM
My Lords, may I interrupt the noble and learned Viscount? Was it not the case concerning the Carlton School that the headmaster gave an undertaking in court that five difficult youngsters would be removed to another school; that they were not so removed, and that caused the trouble? There would have been no need to bring in the police if the undertaking had been complied with.
§ THE LORD CHANCELLOR
I hope the noble Lord will not hold it against me, but it is some time since I read that Report, and I am afraid I cannot confirm or deny what he says. I do not 1167 impute that he would say anything rashly, but I just do not remember. I will look into that.
With regard to the other points that my noble friend Lord Raglan raised, I will look at them carefully again, and, as he said, it will be open to him, if he wishes, to pursue them by putting down Amendments on the Committee stage. However, if there is any point on which he would like information before then, he knows that he has only to ask or to write to me and I shall be pleased to see that it is given to him.
The noble Lord, Lord Stonham, asked whether attendance of 130 hours at an attendance centre would be made a requirement of the probation order. Such consideration as we have been able to give to it in the intervening period makes it seem doubtful, as the clause stands, whether it would be proper for such a requirement to be attached to a probation order, bearing in mind the extent of the deprivation of liberty and the fact that in 1948 it was thought necessary to confer specific power on the courts to send young people to attendance centres for twelve hours. There is a great difference between 12 hours or 24 hours and 130 hours. Indeed, it would really require a different type of attendance centre, with a different régime. That is one of the points which the Advisory Council on the Treatment of Offenders would have to consider in relation to the scope for new forms of non-residential treatment of persons under 21. I think the noble Lord wanted to be informed of the position as I saw it, and he now knows it and can think out his future action.
My noble friend Lord Iddesleigh, in what was, if I may say so, a very thoughtful speech, raised some interesting points on the educational side of approved schools. He was good enough to give me notice of two of them and I have tried to inform myself about them. He was rather concerned about the staffing. Approved schools, like other educational establishments, suffer from some shortage of teaching staff, but there is no serious shortage of teachers in either girls' or boys' approved schools. I understand that of the 439 teaching posts in the schools in England and Wales only about 30 are at present 1168 vacant. Teachers in approved schools are paid on the Burnham salary scale, including graduate and training additions where appropriate, together with an addition for qualified teachers of £120 a year carried beyond the maximum of the scale; most teachers also receive an extraneous duty allowance of £216 a year for an average of fifteen hours a week for supervision duties outside the recognised hours of duty; the value of promotion inducements is fully recognised, and it is usual for senior posts to be filled from within the service.
My noble friend also pointed out that delinquent boys and girls are, to some extent, the product of our ordinary schools, as well as of their homes, and he raised with me a number of questions about the general training for citizenship undertaken in our schools. He was doubtful whether enough attention was paid to character training, particularly in secondary modern schools; whether there was a case for more ethical teaching, apart from religious instruction; whether there was any machinery by which a school inspector could find out the incidence of delinquency among his pupils or ex-pupils of a particular school; and whether there is sufficient liaison between the Home Office and the Ministry of Education.
On his major problem he would be the first to recognise that it is not a new one. I myself only go so far back as Plato, but it was certainly one which was in evidence at that time. In more modern days, my right honourable friend the Minister of Education drew attention to the problems involved and the way in which the schools in this country try to solve them, in an interesting pamphlet entitled Citizens Growing Up. If my noble friend Lord Iddesleigh would look at pages 11 to 15. 40 to 42 and 42 to 45, I think he would get some help on his points.
I am afraid that the information published about crime does not identify the criminal's school. It would be rather unfair for a school to be judged on the proportion of criminals among its old boys, because some are in a much more difficult position than others. But I want to assure my noble friend, seriously, that Her Majesty's inspectors pay attention to the tone and atmosphere of the school, and to its standards of 1169 discipline, in the course of their inspection, and will do their best to advise the teacher. I also want to tell him that the Home Office and the Ministry of Education work closely together on this point. He also deplored the decision not to provide a closed approved school. The relative merits of a simple closed school and several closed parts attached to existing schools have been considered, and it was thought that the balance lies in attaching closed parts to certain of the classifying schools.
My noble friend Lord Fortescue raised the great question about the effect of the different forms of the treatment of crime. I suppose we all put something into our reading of history by the way we read it, but certainly I have been convinced that in the earlier days, when the philosophy underlying the system was purely vindictive and retributive—that is, when death or mutilation were regarded as the suitable reply to crime—it did not work. Then one passed to the deterrent phase, and it was thought till relatively late in the nineteenth century that, although you had cut out the purely retributive and cut down the number of offences for which death was the penalty, you must still rely on deterrents alone; that is, you put your people in horrible buildings, doing horrible and wasteful work like work on the treadmill. It may be a little earlier, but I think it is Bentham, is it not, who quotes the example of somebody deliberately blunting the tools in order to make the work more difficult, because they 1170 believed that, if it was difficult and frightful, in awful conditions, that would be a deterrent.
It was found that that did not work, and it did not stop crime, and that is why we are emphasising both deterrents and reformation. But I could not agree more than I do with the right reverend Prelate that one must never entirely eliminate—to use a technical term—the vindictive element, in the sense in which he used it. But although it must be so, and although the sentence must be such as to show the disapproval of society, to show that society does make a reply to people who, as one noble Lord said, simply use society as a means to their ends, it must have not only the deterrent element but also the reformative element. That is what we are seeking to do, and that is, really, the object of this Bill.
My Lords, I should like to say, despite the disagreements on these two points, which I have tried to answer as best I can and to answer with great sympathy for the strength in which my noble friends hold their views and the restraint with which they have advanced them, that I think we are on the right lines, and I am grateful for the general support for the Bill which your Lordships have been good enough to give me to-day.
§ On Question, Bill read 2a, and committed to a Committee of the Whole House.
§ House adjourned at three minutes before nine o'clock.