(1) Where a person is summarily convicted of any offence for which the Court
has power to impose a sentence of imprisonment for one month or upwards without the option of a fine, and—
it shall be lawful for the Court, in lieu of passing sentence, to commit the offender to prison until the next Quarter Sessions, and the Court of Quarter Sessions shall inquire into the circumstances of the case, and if it appears to the Court that the offender is of such age as aforesaid and that for any such reason as aforesaid it is expedient that the offender should be subject to such detention as aforesaid, shall pass such sentence of detention in a Borstal institution as is authorised by Part I. of the Prevention of Crimes Act, 1908, as amended by this Act; otherwise the Court shall deal with the case in any way in which the Court of Summary Jurisdiction might have dealt with it:
Provided that if the offender consents, the Court by which he is convicted, instead of so committing him for sentence, may itself pass such sentence of detention in a Borstal institution as aforesaid.
(2) A Court of Summary Jurisdiction or Court of Quarter Sessions, before dealing with any case under this Section, shall consider any report or representations which may be made to it by or on behalf of the Prison Commissioners as to the suitability of the offender for such detention as aforesaid, and a Court of Summary Jurisdiction shall, where necessary, adjourn the case for the purpose of giving an opportunity for such a report or representations being made.
(3) Where a person is committed to prison under this Section his treatment in prison shall, so far as practicable, be similar to that in Borstal institutions, or he may, if the Secretary of State so directs, be transferred to a Borstal institution.
(4) The Costs in Criminal Cases Act, 1908, shall apply in the case of a person committed to prison by a Court of Summary Jurisdiction under this Section as if that person were committed for trial for an indictable offence.
I beg to move the omission of this Clause, which gives large additional powers to magistrates dealing with juvenile offenders. I am in a difficulty in moving this Amendment, because by far the larger number of the hon. Member.; of this House are magistrates and have had great practical experience, which I have not had in these eases, because I am not a magistrate. For that reason they have a sort of vested interest, which, I think, they ought to wipe out from their minds This Clause gives them, not judicial powers, but I must call them grandmotherly powers. Every magistrate naturally thinks he is not only gifted with judicial powers, but has the power of knowing far better than the person in the dock what is good for him, knowing far better than the parents of the person in the dock what is good for that prospective criminal. I must, therefore, ask the House to clear their minds of the idea that they are heavenly gifted or heavenly inspired with the knowledge of what is best for the prisoner. A bench of magistrates ought to be judges, pure and simple. That was their original business, and that is still, in my mind, their principal duty. It is to decide whether a person is guilty or not guilty, and what the punishment for guilt is to be. Gradually more and more we are converting benches of magistrates into sort of philanthropic institutions, who are trusted, not to punish, or not to let off, or not to fine the innocent, but to decide, after having heard a sort of smattering of evidence, generally from the police, and without knowing anything in detail as to the case, what is the interest of the person before them. You have put into their hands powers over these people brought before them which are enormous. Clause 10 gives to benches of magistrates powers to deal with persons between sixteen and twenty-one, or people whom they believe to be between sixteen and twenty-one.The Clause in effect says as follows: "Where a young person, that is between sixteen and twenty-one, is summarily convicted of any offence, and the offender has previously been convicted of any offence, or has been discharged on probation and has failed to observe any condition of his recognisance, and if it appears to the Court that it is expedient that he should be subject to detention for such term and under such instruction and discipline as appears most conducive to his reformation," then they may send him to a Borstal institution for two years. [HON. MEMBERS dissented.] Well, they may send him to Quarter Sessions, and the Quarter Sessions may then do it instead of the magistrates. If the unfortunate youth consents, the Court by which he is convicted, instead of sending him to Quarter Sessions, may immediately send him to this institution. Put a boy of sixteen up there, and ask him whether he will elect to go to Quarter Sessions or to be dealt with on the spot. You are going to give this youth, who knows nothing whatever about the law, an option which he is not in a position to exercise. In effect you are giving to these Courts of Summary Jurisdiction powers to deal with youthful persons between sixteen and twenty-one who have been once convicted of a crime. It may be stealing apples. Associating with bad characters is a crime in the eyes of magistrates, but that is not the crime that has got to be proved against him. If it appears expedient to the bench that he should be subject to detention, and if he has been convicted of a crime previously, then they may send him for two years to a Borstal institution. This is done because the House and the Home Office believe that the Borstal institutions are admirable institutions for reforming boys. I dare say that they are. I do not know anything about them, but I do not believe that we have any right, when it is a question of some small crime, to give to the magistrates the power of sending these youthful people for two years away from their parents and their families to these institutions. It seems to me that you are giving them powers which you have no right to entrust to them. At present these cases would be dealt with by perhaps a, fortnight's imprisonment, and the alternative provided for them under this Bill is two years in a Borstal institution. The hon. Member for Merthyr Tydvil (Mr. Edgar Jones) thinks that it would be much better to send them to a Borstal institution for two years. Supposing he were the parent of a boy, would he think it would be better to send him there for two years?
Most of the parents agree.
I dare say, but is it not hard upon those who do not agree? I should like to know if our constituents have heard of this provision. I undertake to say that this provision is unknown to ninety-nine out of every hundred parents in the country. We are merely passing this Bill and making this provision, because we know it will not affect our own children. We pass a good deal too much legislation for the lower orders which does not apply to ourselves. I will take another case. Take a youth between sixteen and twenty-one who has got into difficulties with the police over a picketing case. At the present time he might be sent to prison for a week or a fortnight, but under this Clause you give the magistrates power to say that he has been associating with undesirable characters, because he has got into touch with these labour agitators, and he would be much better in a Borstal institution. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh!"] It is all in the Clause. "Where any person is summarily convicted of any offence." [HON. MEMBERS: "Go on!"] Have hon. Members looked at the Amendments of the hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr. Steel-Maitland) who is so influential when these Bills are being drafted? His Amendments are to leave out all the subsequent qualifications. But even supposing the hon. Member for Birmingham does not carry his Amendment, then what is the Clause? "Where any person is summarily convicted of any offence for which the Court has power to impose a month's imprisonment without the option of a fine"—I suppose the Court has power to impose a sentence like that upon people who break the picketing law, people who come into contact with the police and are convicted of assault—"he can be sent to a Borstal institution for two years."I dare say that in ninety-nine cases out of 100 it would be better to send him to a Borstal institution, but I do not think that you have any right to make a bench of magistrates the judges whether something is in the interest of the prisoner. They are merely judges of what is right or wrong on the particular charge for which the prisoner has been brought before them. It is very desirable that this Section which gives these large additional powers to magistrates should be eliminated from the Bill. Certainly, if the Home Secretary wants a non-contentious Bill, he will pass it without this Clause. Simply because a lot of Members have been impressed with the idea of keeping boys between sixteen and twenty-one out of prison, they are going to do far worse by sending them for a long period to a Borstal institution. I dare say that it is an admirable institution, but still it is imprisonment in the sense that those who are sent there cannot escape, and that you are marking them for life from the very fact that they have been in the institution. I do not think that we ought readily to give to any body of men, however well intentioned, the power to inflict this stigma on people who would otherwise serve a small period of imprisonment.
I beg to second the Amendment. I quite agree that the duty of magistrates is to inflict punishment sufficient for the offence which has been committed. Under this Clause a young person, between sixteen and twenty-one, instead as at present getting one month's imprisonment, could be sent to a Borstal institution for two years, unless the Court of Quarter Sessions decided that he was only to have the punishment that he would get under the present law. Those are very drastic powers to entrust to a bench of magistrates. It would be very hard on a young man to be punished with two years for an offence for which under the present law he would only get one month. I, therefore, have much pleasure in seconding the Amendment, and I hope that the Home Secretary will be able to accept it.
My hon. Friend's statement that he knows nothing of the Borstal institutions shows that the good work which has been done in those institutions during recent years is to him a closed book. We should never have dreamed of putting this Clause into the Bill had we not experience and knowledge of individual lives of so many hundreds of youthful offenders who have been redeemed. My hon. Friend has entirely left that out of the account. The sole object of the Clause is to deal with young persons under twenty-one who, on account of their past history and surroundings, have no chance in life. We take them out of criminal surroundings, we give them education, better habits of life, health, and vitality, and in the great majority of cases when they have passed from Borstal they become honest citizens and earn their own livelihood. This Clause is founded on experience, and on the basis of experience I commend it to the House.
That, of course, sounds all very well, and, as far as it goes, I do not challenge the views of the Home Secretary, but that is not the ground of opposition to this Clause. It is quite a secondary question whether the Borstal Institution is good or bad, and if my right hon. Friend had listened to the Mover and Seconder of the Amendment he would have discovered that. Many of us are seriously alarmed because you are undermining parental authority and seeking to raise up a State-nourished and institutioned race, and whenever you do that Old England will go to the dogs. It is all very well to say that particular boys may be better treated in certain institutions, but it does not at all follow. There has not been time with regard to these institutions to judge, and I am perfectly certain that when our Home Secretary preaches the doctrine that we are to look for our honest boys among those who have been in institutions like this it is a negation of Christianity and simply acknowledging that this is a pagan country.I have been listening to this Debate for an hour or more, and I have never noticed the slightest recognition of the Sermon on the Mount or the fundamentals of Christianity. The whole idea is that if we can get people into some kind of State machine, beneficent, of course, and bearing a very nice title, with some very kind ladies belonging to it—I grant all that—and beneficent Home Secretaries admiring them, it is all to the good. The idea is that unless we can get a large part of humanity into these admirable institutions, and so turn them out fit and meet to become taxpayers and soldiers, we are not on the right lines. Members come to this House determined to pass Acts and Clauses of some kind, and these must go in with the rest. I say quite candidly, as one who has given as much time as anybody else in working for the street urchins, both in town and country, that I have little hope of Clauses or schemes of this kind. There is no recognition in the arguments of the contra account. You may have one boy in ten who goes to this institution and is benefited, and you may worsen the lot in life of the other nine who do not go. As long as it is the doctrine that institutions, law, magistrates, enforcement by probation officers or people in uniform make for manhood and womanhood, so long shall we pass Clauses like this. I have no faith in them. I would very much prefer giving magistrates more latitude, and not limiting them to any particular kind of institution, if these young people are to go to institutions. I regret the whole tone of this legislation, and, if it comes to a Division, I shall vote against the Clause because I think it has a wrong tendency.
I think the hon. Member for Pontefract (Mr. Booth) has done his share to bring about the institution of State regulation and State officialism.
I rise in order to give the Home Secretary an opportunity to repeat his undertaking given in Committee with regard to the restrictive regulations enforced at Borstal, which now shut out a great many of those whom it is desirable to send there.
Perhaps the hon. Member will allow me to intervene. He made a statement with regard to myself and I wish him to particularise it. He suggested that I was responsible for this Borstal institution.
No; what I said was that the hon. Member has assisted in the creation of State officials galore since he had been a supporter of the Government, and this, in my opinion, is a far more useful institution than many of the branches of State officialdom which have been set up in recent years. I wish to direct attention to what I would call the too strict administration of this institution. I gave the Home Secretary instances in Committee, and on looking up the report I find it is perfectly true that over and over again, as the result of the stringent regulations which the Home Office has prescribed for this institution, a number of boys for whom its treatment would be most desirable have had to be excluded. Indeed, it is very difficult, when looking at the regulations, to find a case that can be considered really suitable for admission, and, so far as my experience goes, only one in four or one in five who are thought suitable by the magistrates are regarded as eligible for admission by the prison authorities. I have in mind the case of a boy who, be cause he had a narrow chest, was declared physically unfit for admission to Borstal, whereas that is just the place where his chest might have been developed. In another case a boy was objected to because one of his feet was shorter than the other. Surely that dfficulty might easily have been got over by giving him proper boots! These are matters which the Home Secretary promised to inquire into with a view of making the regulations sufficiently elastic to prevent these boys being shut out in the future. I hope he will be able to tell us that something is being done in that direction. So far from desiring, as this Motion does, to cut this Clause out, I would like to give my testimony to the value of this institution. An hon. Member opposite has interjected a remark to the effect that I am a magistrate, and therefore in favour of such an institution. But I would like to say that I know something about the working of this institution, and have come in personal contact with the administrators. I have also seen the report of the good work done, and I am aware that in at least 80 per cent. of the cases in which boys have been sent to Borstal they have, as a result, become perfectly good citizens.I have seen letters from across the sea from former inmates who are now occupying excellent positions, and only a little while ago I was assured by the director of Borstal Prison that he had just received from a former inmate who prior to his committal there was in a bad way, and, owing to his past likely to degenerate into a confirmed habitual criminal, and who through the treatment had got a fresh start on the other side of the Atlantic, and is now earning substantial money. This is only one of a great many cases. The boys are not treated as though they are in a State institution or in a reformatory, but they are made to feel their responsibility, and they are taught a trade. I hope the Home Secretary will be able to extend this system, and will provide more opportunity for outdoor pursuits, and for teaching these lads trades, thereby largely increasing their usefulness. So far from objecting to the Clause, I support the maintenance of the Borstal Institution because I am convinced of its value to the community at large.
I am rather sorry that my hon. Friend the Member for New-castle-under-Lyme (Mr. Wedgwood) has not had some experience of the Borstal Institution. I was not on the Committee which dealt with this Bill, and therefore I am at some disadvantage in considering the effect of this Clause. I do not speak as one who desires to restrict in any way, but rather as one who would extend the influence of the Borstal Institution. Keep boys out of prison if you can. I expect this Bill will do something towards effecting that, and when there is a criminal taint, when a boy shows he has a tendency to become an habitual criminal, then, I am quite sure, the Borstal Institution, with its longer sentence, is very much better than a short sentence to be served in a prison. I cannot think anyone can be worse off under the Clause, and I feel that frequent short sentences are a step towards paganism rather than from paganism. But I am inclined to criticise the Clause from the fact that it rather increases the amount of imprisonment not under Borstal conditions. It is proposed to send juvenile adults to prison for an indeterminate period until the next Quarter Sessions takes place. That may frequently mean quite a number of weeks, and surely that detention for a crime or offence which is punishable with a limit of one month's imprisonment, and for which, in fact, only a week's or a fortnight's imprisonment might be imposed, cannot be beneficial to the boy. It might be a boy had committed an offence for which under ordinary circumstances he would be awarded seven or ten days' imprisonment. I know he must have been previously convicted, but you are actually putting him under the conditions which you actually want to save him from. Your object is to save him from becoming an ordinary prisoner. I would like to ask the Home Secretary why it is necessary to interpose Quarter Sessions in this matter? Does he think the Court below is not to be trusted with the committal? I have an Amendment on the Paper to leave out the necessary reference to Quarter Sessions, and that would avoid this intermediate sending of the boy to prison until next Quarter Sessions, and until inquiry has been made.
It is optional.
I know that if the boy agrees his case can be dealt with by the Court below. You do not think it advisable that that Court should be able to send him to Borstal without his consent, and it will involve his being in prison for, it may be, four or eight weeks, and on the top of that he may have two years' imprisonment added.
I do not want to prolong this Debate, but I do desire to say a word or two in favour of a Clause which I think is one of the most important in the Bill. I happen to have had a good deal of experience of the Borstal Institution. I have watched the progress of youths there, and nothing has more impressed me than the fact that the place is not a prison at all. It is merely a teaching and training institution. The hon. Member for Newcastle-under-Lyme, I am sorry to say, insists on using terms which are really not applicable. These boys are no more in prison than army recruits can be said to be in prison. They are merely under training, teaching and discipline. There are certain conditions of admission. The first is youth. In the second place, there must have been a previous conviction, as showing that the former punishment had failed to have a deterrent effect. In the third place, he must have criminal tendencies, and must be known to associate with bad characters. What is the use of the hon. Member for Pontefract (Mr. Booth) complaining that the Bill takes away parental responsibility when dealing with a boy like that.
I think that the hon. Member is under a misapprehension. The word between "criminal tendencies," and "associate with bad characters" is "or," and not "and."
I am not going to bandy words with the hon. Gentleman. The consensus of opinion, and the good sense of this House, I am quite sure will be found to be in favour of this Clause. The question is, whether we shall punish boys or teach them? These are cases in which punishment has failed to act as a deterrent, and therefore we want, not two years' imprisonment, but two years' training in Borstal, in order that these lads may be protected against themselves.
I hope the Home Secretary will accept my Amendment depriving the magistrates of the power to deal with offenders by consent. I have seen a good deal of this practice of asking prisoners to give their consent. As a rule, the boy really knows very little of what is going on, and he is very much inclined to say, "I consent." If he does so he can be put away for three years. He gives his consent in ignorance of what the bench is going to do. I am strongly in favour of this Clause as a whole, because if a case goes to Quarter Sessions, it gives the boy a right to appeal to the Court of Criminal Appeal, sitting in London, against the sentence imposed, whereas if he is persuaded to say, "I consent, and I will allow the magistrates in Petty Sessions to deal with my case," he loses that right of appeal. I am very strongly in favour, too, of the Borstal system. I have had the privilege of seeing it working, but I really must dissent, as I did on the Second Reading, from what has been said by the last speaker. A number of people connected with the Borstal Institution have written thanking me for the remarks I then made. It is a delusion to say that Borstal is not in any sense a prison. It is a place of punishment, as well as a place of detention. It is meant to be so, and there is not the slightest doubt about it. I think it is wrong to give power to magistrates in Petty Sessions to deal with cases of this kind. One object of this Clause is to commit to Quarter Sessions in order that further inquiry may be made. These are not cases which should be dealt with offhand. You may have a couple of boys brought before the Court for an offence for which, under ordinary circumstances, before the Borstal system was instituted, a sentence of a month or two's hard labour might be given. One does it still if you think the boys have respectable parents or people who are likely to give them a fresh chance in the world after they come away. In certain cases you find that the boys have a good home and are strong, but need discipline and punishment. In those cases you use the Borstal Institution.
What is the punishment inflicted upon them?
If the hon. Member underwent the first six months of the treatment in a Borstal institution, it would certainly alter his appearance very considerably. I do not want to go into these details. There is not a person who, having been in a Borstal institution, and who comes before you again who will not tell you that the first six months in a Borstal institution is no joke and is not meant to be. It is a serious thing. Before you make up your mind to send a boy to one of these institutions, you have to make-inquiries of those who know the boy and his tendencies. It is a thing which requires careful inquiry of the governor of the gaol where the boy has been, and other persons. The sentence should not be passed by a magistrate in Petty Sessions. It is a very serious responsibility before you take upon yourselves, although no doubt it is for the good of the boy, and you have to think twice before you pass a sentence of two or three years' incarceration on any human being for an offence for which the ordinary person gets six months' hard labour. I have frequently gone into the Police Court and seen the way in which it works. I am frequently shocked by the way these matters have been conducted. The Police Court is not the atmosphere in which persons ought to be asked to consent to three years' incarceration in a Borstal institution. Although I am strongly in favour of this Clause, I am also of opinion that if a magistrate thinks a case is one for Borstal treatment, he should commit the boy to Quarter Sessions. I suggest that the words "provided that if the offender consents, the Court by which he is convicted, instead of so committing him for sentence, may itself pass such sentence of detention in a Borstal institution as aforesaid," should be omitted.
May I suggest that we should first dispose of the Motion to omit the Clause, then we can discuss that matter?
I agree. I hope the hon. Member (Mr. Wedgwood) will support me when I come to move that Amendment, and will allow the Clause to go through in a form in which it will be of use to the country, instead of being, as it now is, a great danger. It would be easy to bring Borstal institutions into disrepute if you have hasty sentences passed in this way, and once you get public opinion against you, you will experience great difficulty in getting people sent to them. I shall support the Clause.
While agreeing with a great deal which my hon. and learned Friend has just said, I would point out to him that the consent of which he speaks is not a consent to be tried but a consent to a sentence, which is a very different kind of consent from that with which we are used in the Courts. It is not a question of being asked, "Do you agree to be tried by this tribunal or do you desire to go to Quarter Sessions?" The young person is actually tried and convicted, and then the question arises whether he will consent to being sent to the institution or to being committed to the Quarter Sessions for sentence.
May I suggest that we should discuss that later? We shall have all this discussion over again. We are only now on the question whether the Clause be omitted from the Bill.
It has a bearing on whether or not we should accept this Clause in its substantial form. There is the question whether magistrates should have this power. I am inclined to think that that power should not be granted on the consent of the boy, not because of the difficulty in which the prisoner is placed because of that election, but because the atmosphere is unsuitable. As to the interval between Petty Sessions and Quarter Sessions, the hon. Member for Bury (Sir G. Toulmin) spoke of it as if it were passed in an atmosphere with habitual criminals. That is not so. It may be desirable or undesirable that the period should be long or short, but the remanded prisoner is not sent to be associated with the habitual criminal. The hon. Member for Newcastle-under-Lyme (Mr. Wedgwood) attributes to my hon. and learned Friend (Mr. Nield) partiality in dealing with great social questions merely because he has had the benefit of experience in dealing with the administration of criminal justice. One would have thought it was rather an advantage to have an hon. Member who could bring to a question of this sort experience as to whether or not it was desirable in the interests of the people. Apparently, because my hon. and learned Friend knows something about the subject, therefore he is prejudiced. What are the qualifications of the hon. Member for New-castle-under-Lyme to deal with the Clause? On his own statement his qualification is that he knows nothing about it. He criticises the Member who knows something about it because he is prejudiced, and then admits that he has no knowledge of the subject with which he is occupying the time of the House. The statements of those who are familiar with the working of the Borstal system should be of greater value to the House than the opinion of an hon. Member who brings forward a Motion to delete a Clause on the confessed ground that he is entirely ignorant of the subject. Those who have experience of the working of the Borstal system know that it is a very valuable one, although there may be respects in which it could be amended. I shall certainly vote against a proposal which means the limitation of a possible benefit to young society, a benefit which is too limited already, and which should be more widely distributed.
It is not necessary for me to reply to the hon. Member who has just sat down. It is possible to know why we should not send people to prison without ever having been in prison ourselves, and in the same way it is possible to object to give power to magistrates far in excess of what they have already without ever having suffered from them. I listened to the hon. Member for Ealing (Mr. Nield) with great respect. He, as a magistrate, has had dealings with these cases. He, and the hon. Member for Bury (Sir G. Toulmin), and the hon. Member for Stirlingshire (Dr. Chapple), one after another told the House that a Borstal institution was an ideal place, and that they all wished to send more people to such institutions, in fact, the Borstal institution was so admirable that they fancied the whole of the working classes could not do better than go through them and be trained. [An HON. MEMBER: "They said nothing of the kind."] None of them went so far as that, but they all meant it. The hon. Member for Ealing and the hon. Member for Stirlingshire certainly said it was desirable that more people should go through these institutions than actually did so. There is no limit to the desire and aspirations of these State bureaucrats.
What I said was that owing to the rules of the Home Office, boys who were otherwise eligible were too closely excluded.
The whole of the arguments of those who support the Clause go to show that Borstal institutions are so good that more ought to go through them. If that is not the basis of the hon. Member's argument, I fail to understand what it was. I realise, to my great regret, that there are certain classes of people who believe that the ideal prospect to put before the country is that of the State looking after children and straight-waist-coating them from their cradle until they reach manhood. I am up against them all the time, even if they are magistrates themselves. I would call the attention of the House to the fact that three Members of this House, all of them magistrates,
Division No. 186.]
|Abraham, William (Dublin, Harbour)||Bathurst, Charles (Wilts, Wilton)||Bridgeman, William Clive|
|Acland, Francis Dyke||Beauchamp, Sir Edward||Brunner, John F. L.|
|Allen, Arthur A. (Dumbartonshire)||Beck, Arthur Cecil||Bryce, J. Annan|
|Allen, Rt. Hon. Charles P. (Stroud)||Benn, Arthur Shirley (Plymouth)||Burn, Colonel C. R.|
|Arnold, Sydney||Benn, Ion Hamilton (Greenwich)||Burns, Rt. Hon. John|
|Baker, Joseph Allen (Finsbury, E.)||Benn, W. W. (T. Hamlets, St. George)||Burt, Rt. Hon. Thomas|
|Baldwin, Stanley||Bethell, Sir J. H.||Buxton, Noel|
|Barlow, Sir John Emmott (Somerset)||Black, Arthur W.||Byles, Sir William Pollard|
|Barnes, George N.||Boland, John Plus||Carlile, Sir Edward Hildred|
|Barnston, Harry||Bowerman, Charles W.||Carr-Gomm, H. W.|
|Barran, Sir John (Hawick Burghs)||Boyle, Daniel (Mayo, North)||Cassel, Felix|
|Barrie, H. T.||Brady, Patrick Joseph||Cave, George|
have declared that the Borstal treatment is so good. Does the House think that people who believe that a Borstal institution is an ideal institution are the sort of people who ought to have given to them increased powers to send children to these institutions? They are the people who believe in the admirable education given, and who are to decide whether a youth of sixteen should be sent for seven days to a prison or for three years to a Borstal institution. I know these people are actuated by the very best of motives, but I differ from them. We are handing over to the people who have these powers the liberties of the young man of this country. [An HON. MEMBER: "Criminals!"] If we all had had the opportunities they had had, how many of us would be criminals? We happen to be well off and can escape these Courts. The one thing in this Debate which affects me is that the hon. and learned Member for Cambridge University (Mr. Rawlinson) is not against this Clause. When I listen to him I always feel that the Universities should have a representative in this House. I always listen to him with the greatest possible respect and gain great advantage from his arguments, but, although he proved conclusively that part of the Clause was thoroughly bad, he said ho was going to vote for it, although he did not give one reason in favour of it. That was a little weakness on his part. I do not think he is a magistrate who has a vested interest in increasing their powers. A bulwark of the liberties of the subject, such as the hon. and learned Member, ought to be with us in the Lobby when we are defending the rights of the people of this country, and protecting them from the servile state to which they are being committed by the Home Secretary and those behind him.
Question put, "That the words, 'Where a person is summarily convicted of any offence,' stand part of the Bill."
The House divided: Ayes, 299; Noes, 36.
|Cawley, Sir Frederick (Prestwich)||Hayden, John Patrick||Orde-Powlett, Hon. W. G. A.|
|Cawley, Harold T. (Lancs., Heywood)||Hemmerde, Edwkard George||O'Shaughnessy, P. J.|
|Cecil, Evelyn (Aston Manor)||Henderson, Major H. (Berks, Abingdon)||O'Sullivan, Timothy|
|Cecil, Lord R. (Herts, Hitchin)||Henderson, Sir A. (St. Geo., Han. Sq.)||Palmer, Godfrey Mark|
|Chaloner, Colonel R. G. W.||Henry, Sir Charles||Parry, Thomas H.|
|Chapple, Dr. William Allen||Hewart, Gordon||Pearce, Robert (Staffs, Leek)|
|Clancy, John Joseph||Hibbert, Sir Henr F.||Pease, Herbert Pike (Darlington)|
|Clay, Captain H. H. Spender||Hickman, Colonel Thomas E.||Pease, Rt. Hon. Joseph A. (Rotherham)|
|Clough, William||Higham, John Sharp||Perkins, Walter Frank|
|Clyde, James Avon||Hills, John Waller||Philipps, Colonel Ivor (Southampton)|
|Clynes, John R.||Hinds, John||Phillips, John (Longford, S.)|
|Collins, Sir Stephen (Lambeth)||Hoare, Samuel John Gurney||Pirie, Duncan V.|
|Compton-Rickett, Rt. Hon. Sir J.||Holt, Richard Durning||Pollock, Ernest Murray|
|Cooper, Sir Richard Ashmole||Hope, John Deans (Haddington)||Ponsonby, Arthur A. W. H.|
|Cornwall, Sir Edwin A.||Hope, Major J. A. (Midlothian)||Price, Sir Robert J. (Norfolk, E.)|
|Courthope, George Loyd||Horner, Andrew Long||Pringle, William M. R.|
|Cowan, W. H.||Hudson, Walter||Pryce-Jones, Colonel E.|
|Craig, Captain James (Down, E.)||Hughes, Spencer Leigh||Radford, George Heynes|
|Craig, Norman (Kent, Thanet)||Illingworth, Percy H.||Randles, Sir John S.|
|Craik, Sir Henry||John, Edward Thomas||Rawlinson, John Frederick Peel|
|Crocks, William||Jones, Edgar (Merthyr Tydvil)||Rea, Rt. Hon. Russell (South Shields)|
|Crumley, Patrick||Jones, Henry Haydn (Merioneth)||Rea, Walter Russell (Scarborough)|
|Cullinan, John||Jones, J. Towyn (Carmarthen, East)||Reddy, Michael|
|Dalziel, Rt. Hon. Sir J. H. (Kirkcaldy)||Jones, Leif (Notts, Rushcliffe)||Redmond, John E. (Waterford)|
|Davies, David (Montgomery Co.)||Jones, William (Carnarvonshire)||Redmond, William (Clare, E.)|
|Davies, Ellis William (Eifion)||Joyce, Michael||Redmond, William Archer (Tyrone, E.)|
|Davies, Timothy (Lines., Louth)||Joynson-Hicks, William||Rendall, Athelstan|
|Delany, William||Kellaway, Frederick George||Roberts, Charles H. (Lincoln)|
|Denniss, E. R. B.||Kelly, Edward||Roberts, George H. (Norwich)|
|Devlin, Joseph||Kenyon, Barnet||Roberts, Sir J. H. (Denbighs)|
|Dewar, Sir J. A.||King, Joseph||Robertson, Sir G. Scott (Bradford)|
|Dickinson, Rt. Hon. Willoughby H.||Lambert, Rt. Hon. G. (Devon, S. Molton)||Robertson, John M. (Tyneside)|
|Dickson, Rt. Hon. C. Scott||Lambert, Richard (Wilts, Cricklade)||Robinson, Sidney|
|Dillon, John||Lane-Fox, G. R.||Roch, Walter F. (Pembroke)|
|Donelan, Captain A.||Lardner, James C. R.||Roche, Augustine (Louth)|
|Doris, William||Law, Hugh A. (Donegal, West)||Rowlands, James|
|Duffy, William J.||Leach, Charles||Runciman, Rt. Hon. Walter|
|Duke, Henry Edward||Levy, Sir Maurice||Russell, Rt. Hon. Thomas W.|
|Duncan, C. (Barrow-in-Furness)||Lewis, Rt. Hon. John Herbert||Rutherford, John (Lancs., Darwen)|
|Duncan, Sir J. Hastings (Yorks, Otley)||Lewisham, Viscount||Samuel, Rt. Hon. H. L. (Cleveland)|
|Edwards, John Hugh (Glamorgan, Mid)||Low, Sir Frederick (Norwich)||Samuel, J. (Stockton-on-Tees)|
|Elverston, Sir Harold||Lundon, Thomas||Sanders, Robert Arthur|
|Esmonde, Dr. John (Tipperary, N.)||Lynch, Arthur Alfred||Scott, A. MacCallum (Glas., Bridgeton)|
|Esmonde, Sir Thomas (Wexford, S.)||Lyttelton, Hon. J. C.||Shoehy, David|
|Eyres-Monsell, Bolton M.||MacCaw, William J. MacGeagh||Sherwell, Arthur James|
|Falconer, James||Macdonald, J. M. (Falkirk Burghs)||Shortt, Edward|
|Falle, Bertram Godfray||McGhee, Richard||Simon, Rt. Hon. Sir John Ailsebrook|
|Farrell, James Patrick||Mackinder, Halford J.||Smith, H. B. Lees (Northampton)|
|Fell, Arthur||Macnamara, Rt. Hon. Dr. T. J.||Smyth, Thomas F. (Leitrim, S.)|
|Fenwick, Rt. Hon. Charles||MacNeill, J. G. Swift (Donegal, South)||Spicer, Rt. Hon. Sir Albert|
|Ffrench, Peter||MacVeagh, Jeremiah||Stanier, Beville|
|Field, William||M'Callum, Sir John M.||Stanley, Hon. G. F. (Preston)|
|Fitzgibbon, John||M'Curdy, Charles Albert||Steel-Maitland. A. D.|
|Flavin, Michael Joseph||McKenna, Rt. Hon. Reginald||Stewart, Gershom|
|Forster, Henry William||Malcolm, Ian||Strauss, Edward A. (Southwark, West)|
|Furness, Sir Stephen Wilson||Marks, Sir George Croydon||Sutherland, John E.|
|George, Rt. Hon. D. Lloyd||Marshall, Arthur Harold||Taylor, John W. (Durham)|
|Gilmour, Captain John||Meagher, Michael||Taylor, Theodore C. (Radcliffe)|
|Ginnell, Laurence||Meehan, Francis E. (Leitrim, N.)||Taylor, Thomas (Bolton)|
|Gladstone, W. G. C.||Meehan, Patrick J. (Queen's Co., Leix)||Tennant, Rt. Hon. Harold John|
|Glanville, Harold James||Millar, James Duncan||Thorne, G. R. (Wolverhampton)|
|Glazebrook, Captain Philip K.||Molloy, Michael||Toulmin, Sir George|
|Goddard, Sir Daniel Ford||Molteno, Percy Alport||Trevelyan, Charles Philips|
|Goldman, C. S.||Montagu, Hon. E. S.||Verney, Sir Harry|
|Goldstone, Frank||Mooney, John J.||Wason, Rt. Hon. E. (Clackmannan)|
|Greenwood, Hamar (Sunderland)||Morrell, Philip||Wason, John Cathcart (Orkney)|
|Greig, Colonel James William||Morison, Hector||Watson, Hon. W.|
|Grey, Rt. Hon. Sir Edward||Morton, Alpheus Cleophas||Watt, Henry A.|
|Griffith, Rt. Hon. Ellis Jones||Munro, Rt. Hon. Robert||Webb, Henry|
|Guinness, Hon. W. E. (Bury S. Edmunds)||Murray, Captain Hon. Arthur C.||Weston, Colonel J. W.|
|Gulland, John William||Neville, Reginald J. N.||Wheler, Granville C. H.|
|Gwynn, Stephen Lucius (Galway)||Newton, Harry Kottingham||White, Major G. D. (Lanes., Southport)|
|Gwynne, R. S. (Sussex, Eastbourne)||Nicholson, Sir Charles N. (Doncaster)||White, J. Dundas (Glasgow, Tradeston)|
|Hackett, John||Nield, Herbert||White, Patrick (Meath, North)|
|Haddock, George Bahr||Nolan, Joseph||Whitehouse, John Howard|
|Hamilton, C. G. C. (Ches., Altrincham)||Nugent, Sir Walter Richard||Wiles, Thomas|
|Hancock, John George||O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny)||Wilkie, Alexander|
|Harcourt, Robert V. (Montrose)||O'Connor, John (Kildare, N.)||Williams, Aneurin (Durham, N. W.)|
|Hardie, J. Keir||O'Connor, T. P. (Liverpool)||Williams, Colonel R. (Dorset, W.)|
|Harmsworth, Cecil (Luton, Beds)||O'Doherty, Philip||Wills, Sir Gilbert|
|Harris, Henry Percy (Paddington, S.)||O'Donnell, Thomas||Wilson, Rt. Hon. J. W. (Worcs., N.)|
|Harvey, A. G. C. (Rochdale)||O'Dowd, John||Wilson, Captain Leslie O. (Reading)|
|Harvey, T. E. (Leeds, West)||Ogden, Fred||Wilson, Maj. Sir M. (Bethnal Green, S. W.)|
|Haslam, Lewis||O'Malley, William||Winfrey, Sir Richard|
|Havelock-Allan, Sir Henry||O'Neill, Dr. Charles (Armagh, S.)||Wing, Thomas Edward|
|Wood, Hon. E. F. L. (Yorks, Ripon)||Yeo, Alfred William||Yoxall, Sir James Henry|
|Wood, Rt. Hon. T. McKinnon (Glasgow)||Young, Samuel (Cavan, East)|
|Worthington Evans, L.||Young, William (Perthshire, East)|
TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—Mr.
|Wortley, Rt. Hon. C. B. Stuart-||Younger, Sir George||Geoffrey Howard and Captain Guest.|
|Agg-Gardner, James Tynte||Jessel, Captain Herbert M.||Smith, Albert (Lancs., Clitheroe)|
|Ashley, Wilfrid W.||Jowett, Frederick William||Smith, Rt. Hon. F. E. (L'pool, Walton)|
|Baker, Sir Randolf L. (Dorset, N.)||Lowe, Sir F. W. (Birm., Edgbaston)||Strauss, Arthur (Paddington, North)|
|Bird, Alfred||Macdonald, J. Ramsay (Leicester)||Sutton, John E.|
|Booth, Frederick Handel||Markham, Sir Arthur Basil||Terrell, George (Wilts, N. W.)|
|Boyle, William (Norfolk, Mid)||Murphy, Martin J.||Thomas, James Henry|
|Campbell, Captain Duncan F. (Ayr, N.)||Newman, John R. P.||Thorne, William (West Ham)|
|Dalrymple, Viscount||Outhwaite, R. L.||Wardle, George J.|
|Fiennes, Hon. Eustace Edward||Parker, James (Halifax)||Wilson, W. T. (Westhoughton)|
|Flannery, Sir J. Fortescue||Pratt, J. W.||Wood, John (Stalybridge)|
|Henderson, Arthur (Durham)||Raffan, Peter Wilson|
|Hodge, John||Richardson, Thomas (Whitehaven)|
TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—Mr.
|Hogge, James Myles||Rutherford, Watson (L'pool, W. Derby)||Wedgwood and Mr. Goldsmith.|
|Hope, Harry (Bute)|
I beg to move, in Sub-section (1), to leave out the words "for which the Court has power to impose a sentence of imprisonment for one month or upwards without the option of a fine, and."The effect of leaving out these words will be to enable the Court to deal with certain classes of cases which, as the Clause stands, will not come within its purview. The classes of cases are really two, one general and one special. There is a general class of case which I think most people, at any rate, with certain exceptions, know really require treatment of this kind, and that is the class of boys or girls, as the case may be, who as they are growing up are of an entirely unsettled character, commit petty offences and are quite distinct from the boy or girl who may commit one more serious offence for which they may be sent to prison for punishment and come out again. It is almost the invariable experience that where you get boys of a criminal tendency who are always unsettled—continuous small lapses and continuous irregularities—they are really the boys on whom treatment of this kind will in the end confer more benefit than upon any other class of case. There is one special case which ought to be dealt with in this way and which at present, under the Clause as it stands, cannot be dealt with, and that is young girls from the age of sixteen up to the limits of the Bill who solicit in the streets. At present under the Bill they cannot be dealt with, and yet almost every police magistrate and every authority, I think, is of opinion that this is really a particular class of case which more than almost any other wants to be trained in regularity of habits, and not to be exposed to the continual temptation of going and soliciting in the streets day after day and week after week. The extension which I propose really enables the Court to deal with these two cases. I wish to say one thing, especially to hon. Members who share the opinions of the hon. Member (Mr. Wedgwood). I should be willing to agree to any Amendment which would carefully hedge about the power of dealing with these cases. I think any Amendment might well be made which would see that if these cases are dealt with they should only be dealt with after scrupulous care, and where it is quite certain that it is really for the good of the person whom it is proposed to put into a Borstal home under treatment. I agree with the hon. and learned Gentleman (Mr. Rawlinson) that we have to regard a Borstal home as a home which is not necessarily an easy and a light case of detention. Of course it is a strict place of detention, and of course the detention there is in the nature of punishment. It is not exactly like a prison, because on the whole education there forms a much more prominent feature of it than it does in a prison, and punishment forms a less prominent feature; but still, there it is, a strict place and a place of detention and punishment, and therefore I should be only too glad for any provision to ensure that these cases are not dealt with loosely. In the first place, the two paragraphs (b) and (c) that follow make it clear that if these cases are to be dealt with at all or sent to a Borstal institution, there must be some added characteristic besides the actual offence which has been committed and for which they are sentenced. If the hon. Member moves an Amendment later on I should be perfectly willing to have the power of dealing with these cases confined to Quarter Sessions only. There may be certain benches of magistrates which deal with such cases very carefully and in every way that could be desired, and it is quite possible that with other magistrates dealing with the cases quickly, or without sufficient care, you may not get the best results, and therefore hedge about the treatment with every care that is possible, but once you hedge it about with care I think the two cases which most need this kind of treatment are the two that I have just stated. My experience, although perhaps not as great as that of other Members of the House, has been considerable. I have lived and worked with them, and so also have some of my friends, and our experience has been that what is more a curse to boys when growing up than anything else is not the commission of a single grave fault—that may be punished and done with—but the tendency to get into irregular habits, and to commit many minor offences. Under our modern system of industry there is more chance of that in the case of a boy than in almost any other circumstances. It is by enabling the boy to be put to training that I think this Bill may have the best results, and it is for that reason I ask the House to enable this class of offences to be dealt with. I, in my innermost conviction, believe that it has not for its tendency the curtailment of individual liberty. You put a young boy or girl under these temptations, and the whole tendency of modern industrial occupation is to give them opportunities of committing offences. It is precisely that kind of boy who may go from bad to worse. It is really from knowledge of the case, so far as I have been able to analyse it, that I say we are not really interfering with individual liberty. We are enabling these persons to get real liberty afterwards as independent citizens.
The hon. Member who moved the Amendment spoke with his accustomed lucidity and precise-ness. We can appreciate the importance of the demand he has addressed to the House. The hon. Member has three Amendments put down by which he proposes to extend the power of committal to Borstal institutions. This Clause, as it now stands, restricts the power of committal to those who have been committed to prison for one month without the option of a fine. The object of this Amendment is to enable the magistrates, in the first instance to suggest a Borstal institution in respect of an offence, however trivial, provided the other part of the Sub-section has been complied with. I am sure the hon. Gentleman must have observed from the trend of the discussion that there is considerable difference of opinion as to how far we can trust the magistrate. We thought, and the Committee thought, that where the offence was one for which imprisonment could not be imposed, a Borstal institution was not suitable for such a case, and that we must wait until the offender had committed an offence for which he was liable to a month's imprisonment without the option of a fine. I appreciate what the hon. Member said about boys or girls who commit a series of small and trivial offences. As regards girls, under the Criminal Law Amendment Bill, there is a specific provision introduced to deal with that class of case. Whether that is satisfactory or not, we shall consider in due course; but I submit to the House that when you commit to a Borstal institution for two years or three years, as the case may be, the sentence ought not to be imposed unless the young person has committed an offence for which he is liable to a month's imprisonment without the option of a fine. Let us draw the line somewhere. I submit that we ought to leave the Clause as it is.
I would like to point out in opposition to the Amendment that it would render boys liable to be sent to a Borstal institution for playing football in the streets and for other offences of an equally trivial character. It seems to me that this is the wrong way to proceed. We ought first to have a development and extension of our educational system, for I believe that in that development and extension is to be found the true solution for many of the cases to which the hon. Gentleman referred in moving the Amendment. It is because I think the remedy proposed by the Amendment to be a very serious departure in social science that I trust the House will reject it.
I wish to point out that the hon. Member who moved the Amendment is acting strictly on Conservative views. He believes that the State ought to mould the individual in the best form to serve the State. My own point of view is that we should look after the individual and give him the best possible chance without paring him down to make him suit the classes of this country.
Question, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Bill," put, and agreed to.
I beg to move to leave out the words—
This point has already been referred to by the hon. and learned Member for Cambridge University (Mr. Rawlinson). Perhaps it will interest the hon. Member for Newcastle-under-Lyme (Mr. Wedgwood) if I state that I do not ask that the magistrates of Petty Sessions should have this power. I think it is undesirable. In cases of committal to Quarter Sessions it is not always possible that the information required by the Section could be forthcoming without a remand. Take the case of offenders brought up on night charges at Courts next morning. You want to avoid a remand, and you ask under this Section power to send a child to a Borstal institution. After all, in sentencing a child it is difficult to get satisfactory conditions, because I am perfectly sure that in most cases the parent, if consulted, will not consent to the child being sent away. I therefore think that on the original charge you will not have got the information as to previous convictions, and still less likely are you to have got the information on which to act with respect to a criminal's character. You could not get that in a few hours, especially if the case arises at night. There seems to be a misapprehension as to the method in which remand prisoners are treated. They are not allowed to exercise in the same yard with convicted prisoners. The rules which appertain to recreation and other matters in the case of remand prisoners are wholly different from the rules which apply in other cases. They are detained in different compartments, not necessarily cells, and everything is done to prevent the prisoners from feeling that they suffer anything but restraint of liberty. It is a total misapprehension to say that you are bringing these prisoners into contact with convicted criminals. Inasmuch as you must remand for some time in order to get the information which alone qualifies for getting an order, it can be no objection to the remand extending to Quarter Sessions. From Quarter Sessions you can appeal to the Court of Criminal Appeal, but from Petty Sessions you cannot."Provided that if the offender consents, the Court by which he is convicted, instead of so committing him for sentence, may itself pass such sentence of detention in a Borstal institution as aforesaid."
I beg to second the Amendment. I have already indicated strongly my reasons for putting my Amendment before the House. I wish to make it quite clear that in regard to Petty Sessions, and certainly in regard to Police Courts, where matters have to be done with a great rush, the magistrates should not be allowed to pass a sentence of more than three years under any circumstances. The Government will spoil the Clause if they put in these words. It is a dangerous precedent. It is a step in the wrong direction to give magistrates this tremendous power of committing to a Borstal institution for three years persons between seventeen and twenty years of age. I say it is monstrous. I feel certain that a large number of Members will agree with me in that, and I hope pressure will be brought to bear on the Government to accept this very innocent Amendment.
I must remind the House that these words were originally inserted in the Bill in order to meet the very serious difficulty to which my hon. Friend referred, that of persons being kept in prison for perhaps six or seven weeks awaiting trial at Quarter Sesssions when the whole sentence might only be a month. In Committee the difficulty was, to a certain extent, met by introducing into the Bill Sub-section (3), which runs:—
The result of that was that if a person was committed for a period of four, five, or six weeks, he would be getting the benefit of Borstal treatment. Consequently, much of the ground which we originally had for including the proviso to give a prisoner the option, if he liked, of getting an immediate trial has vanished. I shall be glad to accept the Amendment."Where a person is committed to prison under this Section his treatment in prison shall, so far as practicable, be similar to that in Borstal institutions, or he may, if the Secretary of State so directs, be transferred to a Borstal institution."
Perhaps this will save the next Amendment which was to omit the words "if the offender consents." In many ways there is something to be said for the proviso, but as it is evident that the feeling of the House is against it, it is useless to occupy further time with it.
Amendment agreed to.
I beg to move at the end of the Clause to add the words, "a person sentenced by a Court of Quarter Sessions under this Section to detention in a Borstal institution may appeal against the sentence to the Court of Criminal Appeal as if he had been convicted on indictment, and the provisions of the Criminal Appeal Act, 1907, shall apply accordingly."
Amendment agreed to.