asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department what representations he has received concerning the working of the Children and Young Persons Act since the publication of the White Paper, Command Paper No. 6494.
asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department what progress he has made in carrying out the proposals detailed in the White Paper on the Children and Young Persons Act published in May 1976.
My right hon. Friend has since May 1976 received representations from a number of hon. Members, juvenile court panels and clerks to the justices and from organisations about the working of the Children and Young Persons Act 1969.For progress made in carrying out the proposals in the White Paper on the Children and Young Persons Act 1969—Cmnd. 6494—I would refer the hon. Members to the answer given to a Question from my hon. Friend the Member for Ormskirk (Mr. Kilroy-Silk) on 4th May.
Is not the key question whether the Government are to amend the 1969 Act in order to give juvenile courts the powers that they need to deal with hardened offenders?
The Government set out their response to this question in the White Paper that was issued in response to the Select Committee's Report. We believe that juvenile courts should not make secure care orders and that the responsiblity for the placement of juveniles should be with the local authorities. But subject to that, and within that principle, we are discussing with magistrates, local authorities and all other interested parties how to get around the question of the hard core of determined offenders—which I believe is a very small minority.
Is the Minister aware of the widespread concern among magistrates throughout the country that at the moment they have no power to ensure that a juvenile offender who should be placed in a secure environment for his own safety and for that of the community, may not, in fact, be sent home? Will he follow the recommendations of the Expenditure Committee and take steps to introduce a secure care order?
We made it clear that we were not accepting the recommendation in that respect. Of course I understand the concern of the magistrates in that direction, but the question of a secure care order would blur the responsibility for the treatment of young offenders between the local authorities and the courts. I do not believe that to be desirable.
But is it not a fact that for the hardened and persistent young offender the time has passed for treatment and the time for punishment has arrived?
I do not believe so. I do not believe that the hon. and learned Gentleman really believes so. If he has discussed it—and I know that he has—he will have found that the amazing thing is that there is no agreement between the authorities as to how large this problem is. No one has any idea what the hard core consists of.
asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will now extend the attendance centre system as recommended by the Expenditure Committee in its Eleventh Report on the Children and Young Persons Act.
Consultations are in hand with a view to a modest extension of the junior attendance centre system.
Is the Minister aware that some years have passed since the Eleventh Report was published, and that hooliganism and youth crime have gone on continually? Should not the Government give a more effective answer than to say that the matter is still under consideration? When will they do something about this problem?
I do not know whether the hon. Gentleman was listening when I answered his Question, or whether that supplementary question was prepared in advance. What I said was that we are having consultations with a view to a modest extension of the present system.