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Corporal Punishment Sentences

Volume 395: debated on Thursday 2 December 1943

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asked the Home Secretary whether he can present a Report to the House as to the number of magistrates courts which have ordered the birching of children during the past year; and will he present a list of those courts to the House?

The orders made by magistrates' courts when dealing with young offenders, including orders for birching, were in peace-time classified by police districts in the annual volume of criminal statistics, but the publication of these statistics has been suspended during the war. I will inquire whether the information asked for by my hon. Friend can be given for the year 1942.

asked the Home Secretary whether he is contemplating the early abolition of the birching of children either by an Order in Council or by legislation?

The abolition of the power of magistrates courts to order boys to be birched would require legislation. A provision to this effect was included in the Children and Young Persons Bill, 1932, and though it was passed in this House without a Division it proved unacceptable in another place. In 1938 the Departmental Committee on Corporal Punishment came unanimously to the conclusion that as a court penalty corporal punishment is not a suitable or effective remedy for dealing with boys charged before juvenile courts, and my information is that it is not used by the more experienced juvenile courts. Whether legislation to abolish the power would be practicable at present is not a matter on which I am in a position to make a statement, and all I can say is that I have noted my hon. Friend's suggestion.

asked the Home Secretary the number of sentences of corporal punishment imposed on adults for the year 1942 and-for the first six months of 1943?

Forty-one persons were sentenced in 1942 by courts of assize or quarter sessions to receive corporal punishment. The figures for the first six months of 1943 are not yet complete, but such returns as are available show that 16 persons were sentenced by courts of assize and quarter sessions to receive corporal punishment during this period.