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Home Department

Volume 652: debated on Thursday 1 February 1962

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Carpet Sales (Advertisements)


asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will instruct the Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis to institute proceedings against a company, details of which he has been sent by the hon. Member for Swindon, which has been issuing fraudulent advertisements regarding the sale of carpets.

My right hon. Friend has no authority to give the Commissioner of Police any such instructions.

Is not the hon. and learned Gentleman aware that this is a thoroughly unsatisfactory situation? Here is a most dishonest racket being perpetrated by fly-by-night carpet dealers who are advertising their goods under all sorts of misleading descriptions throughout the country. As I understand it, the only reason why they are not prosecuted is that they have no fixed business addresses. Will not the Minister of State have a word with his right hon. Friend and the Board of Trade to see whether this fraud can be stopped?

If any members of the public have any evidence of a fraudulent activity they should bring it to the notice of a chief officer of police. But this matter, so far as I have been able to find out, is not considered by the prosecuting authority to be of good foundation for the institution of proceedings. If the hon. Gentleman has any further information then, of course, the Commissioner would be glad to consider it.

Juvenile Courts (Children Beyond Control)


asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many children, under the ages of 16 and 17 years, respectively, were found by juvenile courts in England and Wales to be beyond control, during the period 1st January to 30th June, 1961; and how many of these children, respectively, were brought before such courts as a result of proceedings initiated by their own parents.

The Joint Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department
(Mr. Charles Fletcher-Cooke)

As the Answer is somewhat complicated I propose, with permission, to circulate it in the OFFICIAL REPORT.

Does not the Minister agree with recommendation No. 19 of the Ingleby Committee which states that a parent's power to bring his child before a juvenile court on the ground that the child is beyond control should be revoked? Does not he further agree that the use of Section 64 of the Children and Young Persons Act, 1933—whereby parents do this, which has become known as the "Sophie treatment"—should also be revoked?

The question of who should have the power in the future to bring children before a juvenile court is, of course, a matter of some controversy. My right hon. Friend is studying this with great care and he hopes to implement the main proposals of the Ingleby Report as soon as possible.

Following is the Answer:

Proceedings in respect of children considered to be beyond control may be brought under any one of several statutory provisions according to the circumstances of the case. Some cases are brought under Section 62 of the Children and Young Persons Act, 1933 (which relates to children in need of care and protection), but there is no means of knowing in how many of these the primary ground of the application was that the child or young person was beyond control. In the only proceedings for which separate statistics are available—those under Sections 64, 65 and 84 (8) of the 1933 Act—296 orders were made under these three sections during the six months to 30th June last in respect of children under 16 years of age; and of that number 274 were the result of proceedings brought by a parent or guardian under Section 64 of the Act. The remainder were brought by local authorities in respect of children or young persons in their care. In respect of children who had attained the age of 16 years but not yet 17, 129 orders were made, of which 118 resulted from proceedings brought by a parent or guardian under Section 64, and the remainder from proceedings brought by local authorities. It would not be safe, however, to assume on the basis of the figures for Sections 64, 65 and 84 (8) alone that the great majority of "beyond control" applications are made by parents.

Firearms (Young Persons)


asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether he will introduce legislation to ban the sale of firearms to young persons by mail order firms.

It is already an offence to sell a firearm to a person whom the vendor knows or has reasonable grounds for believing to be under 17. It is also an offence for a person under 17 to purchase a firearm. These provisions apply whether the transaction takes place by post or otherwise.

Does not my hon. and learned Friend agree that this is a pernicious habit which undoubtedly leads to firearms getting into the wrong hands, especially of youths? Will he look into this matter again to try to stop this practice?

If a person under the age of 17 made some misrepresentation for the purpose of buying a firearm the law could deal with him. It would not be reasonable to make the vendor liable in respect of such a misrepresentation.

Cannot the hon. and learned Gentleman do something to ensure that when firearms are offered for sale by mail order firms it is brought prominently to the attention of both the vendors and advertisers—and also the potential purchasers—that the purchase of them by young persons is an offence and fraught with great danger?

I think that the provisions of the law are fairly well known, and I have no doubt that the publicity which may be given to these questions and answers will help to enable people to understand them still better.

Is the Minister aware that one of the difficulties is that a person over the age of 17 can purchase a firearm and hand it over to a younger person without a licence? Many of these cases come into the courts and difficulties are created because a certificate is not issued, and there is no need for one legally, because the original purchaser is over the age of 17.

I wonder if the hon. Lady appreciates that this matter really is significant only in relation to air guns and shot guns? A firearms certificate is issued—and this is rarely done—by a chief officer of police and would be necessary for the purchase of a more dangerous weapon.



asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether he will now consider the revision of present legislation on fireworks to limit their sale to responsible corporations and other bodies, bearing in mind the increasing danger to young persons.


asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department what consideration he has given to the further evidence sent to him by the Booth Hall Children's Hospital, Manchester, on 9th November, following that sent to him in February, 1961, of the severe burns caused to children by fireworks; and if he will now introduce legislation to restrict the general sale of fireworks and to confine their use to organised displays by responsible bodies.


asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if, in view of the 3,719 firework casualties treated in English hospitals between 4th and 7th November, 1961, he will obtain and publish detailed statistics of the damage caused by the misuse of fireworks in early November, 1961, and take steps to minimise injury to persons and damage to property in November, 1962.


asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department what legislation he has decided to introduce to restrict the sale of fireworks.

It would not be practicable to obtain statistics of the damage to property caused by the discharge of fireworks last November, but my right hon. Friend shares the concern of hon. Members at the number of personal injuries which were caused. The suggestion that the general sale of fireworks should be prohibited and that their discharge should be confined to organised displays by responsible bodies involves some practical difficulties, and my right hon. Friend would, in any event, be reluctant to interfere with the enjoyment given by the many properly-conducted family firework parties. My right hon. Friend is studying the information from hospitals obtained by my right hon. Friend the Minister of Health, and will consult the police and others concerned in the hope of finding some practicable ways of reducing the number of accidents.

But the crux of the whole problem is the ability of youngsters to walk into a shop and purchase fireworks. Cannot the penalties on these vendors be increased, so as to prevent fireworks getting into the hands of the wrong persons?

It is already an offence to sell fireworks to children under 13, or for anyone to let off fireworks in the street. I must say, of course, that both of these provisions have proved difficult to enforce. We are concerned about these accidents and are considering how they can be further prevented, but without placing intolerable restrictions on the whole of the community.

Is my hon. and learned Friend aware that, despite the difficulties, in most States of the United States and in the Republic of Ireland there is a total prohibition of the sale of fireworks to the general public, with the result that there has been a considerable reduction in the number of accidents? Has his attention not been drawn to the very strong feeling of hospitals, particularly the children's hospitals—and especially the children's hospital in my constituency—which deal with burns, of the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents and of many other bodies that education in safety has failed? As 439 people were treated as in-patients, and 3,280 as out-patients in the period 4th-7th November last, is not legislation necessary?

While we do not, of course, ignore the laws of other countries, we have to remember that those laws would not necessarily be suited to the traditions and temperament of our people. As to the second part of my hon. Friend's supplementary question, I would wish to study the information he has given.

Would not the Minister of State agree that one of the things to do is to get his scientific advisers to consult the firework manufacturers who, surely, have no more interest in causing damage and casualties than has anyone else? Cannot he proceed on those lines?

I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman because, in fact, we are examining a number of suggestions for preventing accidents at the moment. Some of those suggestions involve improvements in the design and manufacture of fireworks, and if examination shows that they would make a useful contribution to the solution of the problem we shall get in touch with the manufacturers, and would hope for their co-operation.

Does not the right hon. and learned Gentleman agree that these dangerous, futile and wasteful celebrations of Guy Fawke's Day are an unnecessary menace to life and limb and that, in view of the large number of hospital cases resulting each year from the celebration of this anniversary, the time has now come for this menace to life and limb, and to the nerves of old people and animals, to be brought to an end, despite the bloodthirstiness of his hon. Friends?

I think that the hon. Gentleman will find that those points are covered by the answers I have already given.

In view of the tenor of some questions from both sides of the House, would the Minister of State give an assurance that the Home Office will not interfere with the traditional enjoyment of Guy Fawke's night?

Licensed Premises (Sunday Opening)


asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether he will introduce legislation to provide for local options on the Sunday opening of licensed premises in England as in Wales.

Is the Under-Secretary of State aware that I am not at all surprised by his reply? Since the majority of Welsh Members did not want local option in Wales but had it thrust on them by the English Members, does he not think it unreasonable to withhold from the English the same liberty that he extends to the Welsh? is he not aware that, if he pursued the same stupid policy in England as has been pursued in Wales, he would have the same stupid result?

The solicitude of the hon. Member for the welfare of the English is very commendable, but we have had Sunday opening of licensed premises in this country for a very long time and I do not think that we want to interfere with that arrangement.

Television Programmes (Crime)


asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department what communication he has received from the Independent Television Authority regarding an inquiry into the influence of television programmes on crime; what reply he has made; and if he will make a statement.

I am grateful for the proposals which have been made to me by the Chairman of the Independent Television Authority for an inquiry into the impact of television on society. I have been studying them in the light of the available information about other research in this field. I hope to arrange further discussions both with the Independent Television Authority and with the British Broadcasting Corporation, and in due course I shall make a further statement.

I am sure that the House will welcome the Home Secretary's assurance that this is an important matter and that an inquiry would be useful, but would he not agree that the inquiry would be very much more useful if it were conducted under auspices that could be shown to be, and generally seen to be, entirely impartial?

I see no reason why an inquiry should not be conducted in such circumstances.



asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether he is satisfied that the security requirements of the United Kingdom are fully safeguarded as regards aliens entering the United Kingdom from the Irish Republic, in view of disclosures earlier in the year concerning security.

I consider that the present arrangements afford reasonable protection against the risks which my hon. Friend has in mind.

Can my right hon. Friend confirm that there is absolutely no control whatever over any aliens entering this country from the Irish Republic? Does he think that, with the rather poor reputation for security that we have inevitably acquired over the last eighteen months, we can afford to have a substantial part of our immigration control handed over to the Irish Republic which must, after all, have criteria rather different from ours, since it is a neutral country?

For some time there has been what may be described as an acceptable measure of security, thanks to immigration control in the Republic. As far as we can see, those arrangements have been operating satisfactorily and I should not like to disturb them.

Telephone Calls (Interception)


asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department what has been the number of interceptions of telephone calls authorised by him, year by year, to the most appropriate date, since the publication of the Birkett Committee Report of 1957.

It would not be in the public interest to give the figures for which the hon. Member asks.

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that I am not surprised by that Answer—[HON. MEMBERS: "Why ask a silly Question?" Because I wanted to ask a supplementary question. Is the Home Secretary satisfied that this process is under proper control, and can he state categorically that nobody, no matter who, is allowed to tap anyone else's telephone calls without his explicit consent?

I would refer the hon. Gentleman to the Report of the Corn-miner of Privy Councillors, when he will see that the operation of this control has been carried on according to the recommendations there made. I think that is sufficient security in answer to his question.

Will the Home Secretary say whether he is satisfied that there have not been any interceptions of telephone calls that he ought to have authorised but that have not, in fact, been authorised by him?

Can the Home Secretary say what conceivable reason in the public interest there can be for not giving the number of interceptions? The Question says nothing about how they are done.

I think that supplementary question is out of order, because it is our practice to be bound by, and for the Chair to support, the refusal of a Minister to answer a Question on grounds of public interest in relation to security.

Prison Service (Recruitment)


asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department what progress is being made in recruiting for the prison service.

Good progress is being made and we trust it will continue. There were 9,200 applicants for posts in the prison officer grades in 1961, compared with 4,438 in 1960. The national advertising campaign which ended last December has so far produced 3,254. It is too early to say how many trained officers will result from these applications.

The last training class at Wakefield produced 110 trained officers, compared with 41 from the corresponding class last year. A second training school is being set up in Falfield, in Gloucestershire, to help Wakefield to cope with the increased number of recruits selected for final training.

I thank my hon. and learned Friend for a more encouraging reply than I expected. Does he consider that the present measures will continue to ensure an adequate rate of recruitment, not only to overcome the prison staffing shortage, but also to meet the requirements of the expansion of prison accommodation that is under way?

We have very much in mind not only the need to man the new prisons as they come in, but also the effect of the prospective introduction of an 11-day working fortnight instead of the 12-day fortnight as at present. All these things will require more manpower, and we are very glad that increased manpower seems to be coming forward.

Long-Term Prisoners (Hostel Scheme)


asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will make a statement about the effectiveness of the hostel system of rehabilitation for long-term prisoners.

We believe that the hostel scheme for long-term prisoners is most effective. Research is being planned, but since it must be based on a study of a substantial number of cases over a prolonged period, its results cannot be available for some time. Of 308 men and 13 women discharged from a hostel since the scheme was started in 1958, 36 men and no women are known to have been reconvicted by 30th September, 1961.

Would not my hon. and learned Friend agree that the success—I think that we can call it a success—of the hostel system so far is very largely due to the dedicated work and enthusiasm of the prison officers responsible for operating it?

Yes, indeed. Tribute should certainly be paid to them. Of course, we are hoping to open more hostels during the present year.

Nuclear Weapons (Fire Hazard)


asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will issue to civil defence personnel and local authorities the information concerning the effects of nuclear bombing and the subsequent fire-storms, details of which have been sent to him by the hon. Member for Willesden, West.

Information about the fire hazard and other effects of nuclear weapons is already available in official publications.

Is not the Minister of State aware that the dissemination of facts of this kind, which at the moment are published only in the New Statesman, would do much to make the public-spirited Civil Defence action at present less of a well-meaning effort or charade? Is he also aware that the Senate in America has given far wider dissemination of this information than we have? Would he consider having an organisation like the Holifield Commission to look into this matter?

I think that the hon. Gentleman should inform himself before describing the Civil Defence effort as a charade. The article in question did not in fact add to our information and it was in some respects incomplete. It did not mention a number of important factors, such as meteorological conditions and types of building construction, which tend to support different conclusions. May I say that we welcome all discussion of these matters.

Will the Minister of State prepare a popular version of these official documents on the effect of nuclear weapons, which can be given very wide distribution in public libraries and elsewhere?

I do not know whether the right hon. Gentleman has considered the small pamphlets the "Hydrogen Bomb", and the one got out last year, "Civil Defence Today". Those pamphlets give in brief form a very clear picture of what might happen.

Is it not a fact that these pamphlets cannot be easily obtained by the public? One cannot get them at station bookstalls or similar places. What is the objection to putting these pamphlets into ordinary circulation and allowing people to buy them and have the opportunity of reading them? Even if they may not make complete sense, they would give the public an opportunity of seeing what the situation really is, according to the best knowledge that the Government have.

Some of these pamphlets have been on sale from time to time at bookstalls, and I think that I am right in saying that they can be obtained from local Civil Defence headquarters. I will certainly consider further my hon. Friend's suggestion.



asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department, how many cases of murder were known to the police in 1961; and what were the corresponding figures for the two previous years.

The number of murders known to the police in England and Wales in 1961 was 152. The corresponding figures for 1960 and 1959 were respectively 153 and 149.

Is my hon. and learned Friend aware that there is grave concern outside the House about the number of murders and the nature of the murders committed recently, and is he satisfied that his present policy of dealing with this type of crime is producing the best possible results?

In fact, the number of murders is remarkably stable from one year to another. I am not quite sure what my hon. Friend has in mind when he says that the policy is not working.

Is my hon. and learned Friend aware that I made no such statement? I merely asked him whether he was satisfied that the present policy—I am not criticising it—is producing the best results.

One can never be satisfied so long as there are any murders at all.

Jury Service


asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether he is aware of the anomalies which exist at present in the selection for jury service in general and particularly in regard to the selection of women jurors; and what legislative proposals he has to deal with the situation.

My right hon. Friend is aware of certain criticisms of the present methods of selection of jurors, but any changes in the law would require very careful consideration and he can hold out no prospect of early legislation.

Is the Minister aware that his reply will be received with very considerable disappointment by those who believe, and I think are correct in their belief, that the vast majority of the adult population in this country is not eligible for jury service? There is an anomaly of a very serious nature in that only a householder or property owner, whether a man or a woman, is entitled to be called, in spite of the tendency nowadays for a woman sometimes to have possession of a house, in which case her husband is not entitled to go on to the jury, or a man to have possession, in which case the wife is not entitled to go on the jury? Does he not think that a very simple alteration of the law might meet that?

It would be simple but whether it would be desirable is a different question. For a defence of the present system of recruitment of jurors, I would refer the hon. Gentleman to the Hamlyn Lectures of Mr. Justice Devlin, as he then was.

Prisons (Education Expenditure)


asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department why expenditure on education in prisons, Borstals, and detention centres is being cut; what facilities will cease to be available; and what annual saving he expects to achieve.


asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department what estimate he has made of the savings he will effect by restricting educational activities at Wandsworth Prison and in prisons generally.

No reduction in total expenditure on education in prisons, amounting in the present financial year to £341,500, is at present contemplated. But it has been decided that in the present financial situation any substantial increase in 1962–3 must be avoided.

It will therefore be necessary, in order to offset increased costs, to effect a slight reduction in the number and duration of evening classes from next summer term. Details are being worked out.

Does not the Answer in fact mean that, taking into account the rising costs, there will be a restriction or a reduction in educational activities in places where educational activities are most important as a factor in countering crime and effecting the reform of people who have committed crime? Would not the Home Secretary, in view of the very small sum of money involved, reconsider this, when in fact a large expansion of educational activities in prisons, etc. is called for?

Unfortunately, every section of the Estimates had to take its share of the cuts. There is no actual cut in the total amount. I do not think that the number of class hours reduced will be very serious. If the hon. Gentleman wishes, I will let him have details of the revised programe.

The Home Secretary has not answered my Question about the effect in Wandsworth Prison if these small and rather dismal economies are made. Does he not realise that we probably derive more value from the educational work we do in our prisons than from any other aspect or phase of our prison administration?

There have been adjustments since the original instruction was sent out, and I hope that at Wandsworth and elsewhere the effect of its implementation will not be unduly serious.


asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many inmates of Her Majesty's prisons desiring and permitted to attend educational classes are unable to do so because of inadequate facilities; and what effect the proposed cuts of the Prison Commissioners will have in the coming financial year on existing educational provision.

Some classes have waiting lists and others are difficult to fill; I regret that detailed information is not available. Educational facilities have been greatly enlarged in recent years, with a threefold increase in expenditure since 1953–54.

For the measures proposed in 1962–63, I would refer the hon. Member to the reply given to Questions by the hon. Members for Newcastle-under-Lyme (Mr. Swingler) and Brixton (Mr. Lipton) today.

Does not the so-called limitation in the future look very silly against the so-called liberal reforms which the right hon. Gentleman is making? Can he say whether every local prison and every specialist establishment has a full-time tutor organiser or educational officer?

I should want notice of the latter part of the hon. Gentleman's supplementary question, which I Should be glad to answer. I will inform him of the answer, in any case. In answer to the earlier part of his supplementary question, there has been a threefold increase in the last six or seven years, and that is a great improvement. I am naturally sorry that the total has to remain at this level this year, and we must see what we can do to improve on it.

Has the right hon. Gentleman considered recently the number of men who are still three to a cell in a number of our gaols? Since they are shut up, as the right hon. Gentleman knows, for so many hours during the evening, night and early morning, is any cut at all justified in these educational classes, which at least enable them to do something useful in the evenings?

Fortunately, the cuts will be marginal in certain summer classes for a few hours, but I realise the importance of getting men out of the cells, and that is why we have done so much recently for work as well as for education.

Civil Defence


asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether he will lay a White Paper before the House explaining the principles on which Her Majesty's Government's policy on Civil Defence is based, and showing the main items of expenditure to which £18 million were allocated during the fiscal year, 1961–62.

The basis of our Civil Defence organisation is well known and I do not think that a White Paper is necessary at present. Information about home defence expenditure in this financial year is available in the Report on Defence, 1961; and it is intended to deal with the subject in the corresponding Report for 1962.

Will the right hon. Gentleman in the forthcoming Report make quite plain what is the policy of the Government in regard to such matters as early warnings, evacuation of cities and shelter against 10-megaton bombs?

We shall do our best in the coming Defence White Paper to answer as much as we can of the right hon. Gentleman's questions.

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that it is many years now—five years, I think—since we had an adequate debate on Civil Defence? Is it not time that the House had an opportunity to discuss this serious problem? May we expect his co-operation in getting it?

I am always ready to take part in debate. It is a matter for the arrangement of the business of the House.

Remand Homes (Boys)


asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many boys were held in remand homes awaiting places in approved schools during the last six months of 1961; and what proposals he has for taking into account time spent in remand homes while waiting for vacancies in approved schools towards completion of sentence.

The total figure for the last six months of 1961 is not yet available, but on 31st December there were 396 boys in remand homes awaiting places in approved schools. The maximum period for which a boy may legally be detained in an approved school runs from the date the approved school order and includes any time spent in a remand home while awaiting admission to a school. Managers of approved schools have a statutory duty to release a boy as soon as he has made sufficient progress in his training.

I thank my hon. and learned Friend for the last part of his Answer, but does not he agree that much strain is put on the staffs of remand homes by these boys being held there because places in approved schools are not available? Can he hold out any hope of the waiting list being cleared in due course?

There is a strain on the staffs and other people connected with remand homes as a result of the blockage of remand homes. Fortunately, the position is improving.

It is planned to provide between 350 and 400 additional approved school places for boys in the present year, with a further expansion of much the same kind in the following year. We think that this will go a long way to ease the blockage.

Accidents In The Home


asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department what recent study he has made of the causes of accidents in the home; and what new proposals he has to reduce the number of those accidents.

The main cause of accidents in the home is human frailty in the form of ignorance, carelessness and physical disability. This is being combated by education and publicity. A secondary cause is faulty design of appliances, and whenever an example of bad design or construction is brought to notice steps are taken, so far as is reasonably practicable, to have it remedied.

Does not the Minister realise that severe shock and pain is suffered when infants are injured or meet an early death as a result of burns in the home, and is not he aware that it would be well worth while the Government requiring by regulation the manufacture of night-wear garments from non-flammable materials only? If he saved only one life a year by the enforcement of such a regulation, would it not be well worth while?

There is a later Question on the Order Paper dealing with regulations. More than half of the fatal accidents in the home occur to people over 75, and many of those accidents are due to the old people falling down.

Consumer Protection (Regulations)


asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department what plans he now has for making regulations under the Consumer Protection Act, 1961, other than safety regulations concerning oil heaters and electrical appliances.

It is a long time since we passed the last Consumer Protection Act and had the Interim Report of the Molony Committee. Is it not time that we had action from the Minister's Department, as was promised during the Committee stage of the Bill, to make regulations safeguarding against hazards of the kind to which my hon. Friend the Member for St. Helens (Mr. Spriggs) has just referred?

I made clear during the passage of the Bill that it would not be followed by a large number of regulations. That view was confirmed in the Interim Report of the Committee on Consumer Protection, which said that the Committee did not envisage that the power to make regulations would need to be exercised with great frequency.

The real point here is that, when a danger comes to our notice, we get in touch with the manufacturers, and the manufacturers have so far always been willing to co-operate in trying to establish the cause and overcome the danger when it is due to faulty design or in warning the public when it is due to misuse.

Is it not time that the Minister did something more positive instead of pouring out a torrent of Civil Service verbiage designed to stifle the natural exuberance of children? Why does not he try to be more positive and introduce regulations compelling manufacturers of dangerous articles used in the home to make their products safe rather than try to stifle the natural activities of children?

I think the hon. Gentleman will agree that, if it is possible to rectify a fault without regulation, it is better not to have the regulation.

This is a very important subject. Will the Minister read again what is said on page 11, of the Interim Report, where it is definitely suggested that some regulations should be introduced to provide safeguards against the hazards which are presented by all kinds of modern inventions, materials and appliances? Will he look at the matter again and see not so much how narrow he can make the regulations but how effective they might be?

The Report makes certain recommendations for somewhat limited action, and we have that in mind.


asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department what plans he now has for making regulations under the Consumer Protection Act, 1961, which would make electrical appliances safe for the public.

I would refer the hon. Member to the reply given on 21st December to a Question by the hon. Member for Sheffield, Hillsborough (Mr. Darling).

That reply given to my hon. Friend said, in effect, that the Government were not prepared to do anything. Is the Minister aware that both Which? and Shopper's Guide have recently reported on such articles as electric fire lighters and electric blankets and the dangers involved in their use? Does he know also that there are on the market even sewing machines which are not always safe for use and that the consumer is confronted by the hazard of other unsafe electrical appliances?

The information at our disposal shows quite clearly that scarcely any accidents are due to the faulty design of domestic electric appliances but that those accidents which occur are due to bad fitting or to misuse.

Courts Of Summary Jurisdiction (Fines)


asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department how long the examination by his Department of fines which can be imposed by courts of summary jurisdiction has continued; and when his new scales will be announced.

A comprehensive review, involving examination of several hundreds of small statutory fines in consultation with other Departments, has been in progress since 1957. Substantial progress has been made, but I cannot at present say when it will be possible to introduce legislation on this subject.

Is my hon. and learned Friend aware that courts of summary jurisdiction are getting extremely tired of housing simple drunks at less than economic cost? Having regard to the increase in crime in many parts of the country, does he not think that, if fines were increased so as to hit people through their pockets, we might be able to deal with the situation much more cogently than we are now, and does he realise that at least the Newcastle bench on which I sit is thoroughly tired of continuing delay in providing for greater fines particularly for the simple crimes?

My hon. Friend is quite right in the principle she puts forward, but the examination of the matter is much more complicated than might appear. It is not possible just to multiply the old fines—some of which go back hundreds of years—by a factor representing the change in the value of money. Some offences may have changed considerably in importance and some of the heavier fines might be quite inappropriate. As regards cases of drunk or drunk and disorderly persons, I agree that the penalties fixed by the Licensing Act, 1872, are inadequate. Perhaps we might have a talk about the quickest way of improving them.

Mr Peter Baker


asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he has now completed his review of the case of Mr. Peter Baker, a former Member of Parliament, in the light of the new information which has been in the possession of his Department for several months; and if he will make a statement.

Yes, Sir. I informed Mr. Baker on 30th November that after giving the matter the most earnest consideration I had reached the conclusion that the material which he had submitted to my Department on 29th September did not give grounds which would justify any action on my part. Mr. Baker subsequently sent me some additional material, which has also been carefully considered, but he has been informed that it would not justify any alteration in my decision.

While appreciating that this is a very complicated and difficult case, may I ask the right hon. Gentleman whether he has personally looked at the papers and whether he is completely satisfied about every aspect of the case—for instance, about the allegation that Mr. Baker was induced to sign a paper agreeing to plead guilty when he was not in a fit physical or mental state to do so?

I have personally examined the papers which, as the hon. Gentleman realises, are somewhat voluminous. It is obviously a very difficult case, but I cannot make any further observation except that I am afraid that these documents do not justify any action on my part.

Armed Guards (Firearms Certificates)


asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department what is the present policy of his Department in granting firearms certificates for the purpose of enabling banks and other organisations to provide armed guards when valuable property is being transported in the Metropolitan area.

I would refer the hon. Member to the reply given to his Question on 25th January.

Would the right hon. Gentleman agree that, although there is growing concern about the number of highway robberies, for bank guards to carry firearms would be generally regarded as a retrograde step likely to provoke criminals also to carry firearms? Does his reply mean that he proposes to withdraw certificates already granted for the use of firearms by bank guards?

I endeavoured to explain in my Written Answer on 25th January that under the Statute the decision whether such a certificate should be given rests with the chief officer of police. The Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis acts on the view, with which I agree, that in general firearms are not a suitable means of protection in these cases. At the present moment, that is the statutory position.

Spectacle Frames (Inflammable Materials)

25 and 32.

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) whether, in view of the additional evidence which was forwarded to his Department by the hon. Member for Bromsgrove on 20th December, he is considering taking any further action to prohibit the use of inflammable materials in spectacle frames;

(2) whether, as long as cellulose nitrate is allowed to be used in the manufacture of spectacle frames, he will consider introducing a regulation that all such frames, sold in this country, must be clearly stamped with the words "Highly Inflammable."

I will discuss these suggestions with the manufacturers of spectacle frames.

Does my hon. and learned Friend realise that this is a very dangerous matter? Until my glasses caught fire, I had no knowledge that the material used in them was inflammable. Will my hon. and learned Friend consider this matter and take quick action on it? In any case, let us warn the public that in many cases they are wearing gun cotton on the ends of their noses.

From my hon. Friend's experience and from the other cases which he has brought to our notice, we feel that we are now justified in approaching the manufacturers with a view to discussing this potential danger with them.

Anti-Nuclear Demonstrations (Prisoners)


asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many persons under the age of 21 years were in prison on Christmas Day, 1961, for reasons connected with their part in the anti-nuclear arms demonstrations of 9th December, 1961 and how many of them are still in prison.

Three youths and one girl were in prison on Christmas Day; one youth and one girl were still in custody yesterday.

Does not the hon. and learned Gentleman regard this as an extremely distressing thing in view of the fact that the maximum penalty for the offences with which these people were charged was a fine of 40s. and that comparatively recently this House enacted legislation which directed the courts not to send people under the age of 21 to prison if there was any other way of dealing with them? Is it not the case that these people in prison were in default of the payment of fines of 40s.? Is not there the greatest possible disparity between the maximum fine laid down by the Statute and the fact that some of them are still in gaol for not having paid it?

I think that the House will be grateful to the hon. and learned Gentleman for explaining the last point, which no doubt had escaped everyone's attention up to the time that he communicated the information to the House. I should like to ask him whether there are methods of compelling defaulters to pay fines other than by keeping them in gaol for three or four months in default of the payment of a fine of 40s.?

This sanction is that which the law courts have imposed, and, of course, my right hon. Friend has no power to interfere with it save for the question of remission, which comes under statutory powers. He has no other power in the matter at all.

I thought that the hon. Gentleman was about to ask the next Question. Perhaps I should have specified it.


asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many persons were in prison on Christmas Day, 1961, for refusing to be bound over to keep the peace under the Act of 1361 or otherwise; how many of these were under 21 years of age; and how many are still in prison.

Twelve males and six females, of whom three youths and one girl were under 21 years of age. Four males and two females were in custody yesterday.

Does not the hon. and learned Gentleman consider this a complete abuse of this antiquated Statute? Does he consider that we ought in these cases to send people to prison for refusing to promise not to do things for which the maximum penalty, if they had done them, would have been a fine of 40s.? Is not the practice becoming absurd? Has it not become an administrative endeavour by the Home Office and the police authorities to prevent the expression of opinion?

The hon. Member is trying to repeal this law. If he succeeds in that, a new situation will arise. Until the law is repealed, it will be enforced.

Does not the hon. and learned Gentleman agree that, although it is true that while an Act is in force it should be enforced, this is no good reason for abusing it or for misusing it for political purposes?

There is no question of abusing it for political purposes. The responsibility for these sentences is that of the magistrates and not of my right hon. Friend.

In view of the unsatisfactory Answers to Questions No. 28 and 29, I would like to give notice that I will take an early opportunity of raising them again.

Royal Society For The Prevention Of Accidents (Home Safety)


asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he is aware of the small grant given for home safety activities to the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents; and if he will increase the amount in future.

My right hon. Friend is making a grant of £1,500 to the Society during the current financial year and proposes to make a grant of the same amount in 1962–63. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Scotland is making similar grants. These grants are intended to recognise the importance of the Society's home safety work and are not designed to finance any particular part of it.

Does the Minister realise that for road safety committees, the Department grant-aids the Society to the extent of nearly £100,000, which, no doubt, is necessary? Is he aware, however, that more accidents occur in the home than on the roads but that all that the Society is offered for home safety measures is a paltry £3,000, to be divided between Scotland and England? Does not the Minister believe that the time has come when this amount should be brought up to a more realistic figure?

No, Sir. I do not think it right to make a comparison between the degree of Government help in respect of the two types of fatal accident. There is a great distinction between fatal accidents on the road and those in the home, more than half of which occur to people over the age of 75 and, as I said earlier, are largely due to falling down.

Barmitzvahs (Metropolitan Police District)


asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many applications for special orders of exemption for Barmitzvahs in the Metropolitan Police District have been made in the past three years; and how many have been granted.

Wages And Bank Robberies


asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many wage snatches have been made known to the police in each of the past three years; what were the annual sums involved; and in how many cases the criminals have been caught.

I will, with permission, circulate in the OFFICIAL REPORT figures for the Metropolitan Police District.

Is the Minister satisfied that all possible steps to deal with this serious situation are being taken and that the most careful consideration is being given to such methods as might be used to prevent this kind of crime?

Yes. The Commissioner is constantly devising new methods to meet this danger. It obviously would not be in the public interest to mention them. I should, however, say that owners also have a part to play and the Commissioner, like other chief officers of police, offers advice to firms which have large packets of wages to be carried. It is hoped that this advice will be followed wherever possible. I hope that publicity may be given to the hon. Member's Question and my Answer.

Following are the figures:

YearNumber of robberiesNumber of attempted robberiesAmount stolenNumber of cases in which arrests were made


asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many persons concerned in wages and bank robberies in 1961 have been convicted; and in how many cases no persons have been arrested.

I will, with permission, circulate in the OFFICIAL REPORT such figures as are available. These figures are for the Metropolitan Police District.

I am obliged to the right hon. Gentleman for that Answer. Has it occurred to him, however, that when crimes of this character occur, they become front-page news, but that little is reported in the Press about convictions? Could the right hon. Gentleman use his influence with the Press to ensure that attention is paid to the convictions in order to reassure people that those who commit such crimes are sentenced?

Robberies of wagesTotal number of cases (including attempted robberies)Number of cases in which no arrest was madeNumber of persons sent for trialResults
ConvictedAcquittedNot yet dealt with
In transit7867*18747
On premises191414437

* Includes one case of attempted robbery of a bank guard in a bank van conveying money from a bank to other premises.

Robberies within bank premises (including attempted robberies)Number of cases in which no arrest was madeNumber of persons sent for trialResults

Traffic Signals, Parliament Squart (Sessional Order)


asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether he intends to move the House to amend the Sessional Order to the Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police now that traffic signals have been installed in Parliament Square; and whether he will make a statement.

The traffic signals will be switched off and the junctions will be controlled by police officers up to midnight on any day when the House or its Committees are sitting. If the House is sitting late, the junctions will continue to be controlled by the police until the House rises and for half an hour thereafter. I see no occasion therefore for an amendment of the Sessional Order.

In thanking my right hon. Friend for that reply, may I ask whether he can say how much police manpower is being saved by the installation of these traffic lights?

I should want notice for the exact figure, but it clearly affords a considerable help.

Will the Home Secretary make inquiries whether this practice is now of much value or is deemed necessary? It is not observed. In any

Following are the figures for the Metropolitan Police District for 1961:

event, there is a passageway under the road and I have never heard of a Member of Parliament being prevented from attending to his duties by being held up on the crossing. If it is necessary for the better movement of traffic to have traffic lights, might we not forgo this privilege?

No. I think that the Sessional Order is best observed by the compromise arrangements which have been reached with the Metropolitan Police.

Mr Aires Braganza


asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department when Mr. Aires Braganza was released from detention at London Airport.

Is the Minister aware that I have put down the Question so that I might correct a misstatement of which I was guilty a week ago? I then said that Mr. Braganza had been given Indian papers and had been allowed to go to Germany. I now am informed that that is not the case and I wish to apologise to the hon. and learned Gentleman and to the Civil Service.

Civil Defence Personnel (Compensation)


asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department what compensation would be payable under his regulations to a Civil Defence volunteer in the event of death while undertaking duties in a peace-time emergency.

Dependants of a member of the Civil Defence Corps killed in the course of official duty in peace time would be eligible for the benefits payable under the National Insurance (Industrial Injuries) Acts subject to the statutory conditions.

Does the Minister regard this as adequate from two points of view? First, these people are volunteers. They are giving this service in their spare time and as a public service. Ought not that to be recognised by additional compensation if their lives are lost? Secondly, is it a good method of recruiting for this service to give this mean compensation which the hon. awl learned Gentleman has announced?

Fortunately, these deaths are rare, but they are covered by the National Insurance (Industrial Injuries)

Estimated net inward movement from1955195619571958195919601961
West Indies27,55029,80023,00015,00016,40049,650 66,300
East Africa7007006504001502502,650
West Africa1,5002,0002,200950750-5005,450
Hong Kong3005509002004505002,150

Note.—A minus sign denotes a net outward movement.



asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether he is aware that ether is being bought from chemists by young people for use as an intoxicant; and if he will take steps to prevent this practice.

My right hon. Friend has seen Press reports of a recent case in which this was alleged to have

Act and any question of the adequacy of the pension scales and supplementary allowances under that Act is a question for my right hon. Friend the Minister of Pensions and National Insurance.

Will the Minister bear specially in mind those volunteer workers in the neighbourhood of London Airport and all other airports, who are called when aeroplanes crash and who in such cases are frequently in great danger?



asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will give, in column form for each year, the net inflow of immigrants for each of the last ten years from the West Indies, East African Territories, West African Territories, Cyprus, Malta, Hong Kong, Malaya, Singapore, India, Pakistan and Ceylon.

Following are the figures:

been done, but he has no evidence to suggest that there is any practice calling for preventive measures.

Nevertheless, will my hon. Friend keep this matter under review? Is he aware that whereas this drug can be bought ostensibly for innocent purposes, such as cleaning clothes, it can be a dangerous addiction-inducing, intoxicating drug?

We will certainly keep the matter under review. The pharmaceutical societies have informed us that as a matter of professional honour a chemist would not sell ether unless satisfied that a purchaser wanted it for bona fide purposes and certainly would not give it to children It is true that an ingenious person can use almost any substance for this sort of nefarious purpose if he knows how.

Has my right hon. and learned Friend any reason to think that this habit is at all widespread and that there is any real abuse in this way?

No, Sir. We have no reason to believe that there is any widespread abuse.