I have asked my Advisory Council on the Treatment of Offenders
to consider whether there are grounds for reintroducing any form of corporal punishment as a judicial penalty in respect of any categories of offences and of offenders".
It is too early to say when the Council will be likely to report
In a later statement in relation to the Report of the Inquiry into the disturbances at the Carlton School I shall be referring to the certain delay which may have to take place in the introduction of that Measure, because I have other Measures in mind which might arise out of that Report. Therefore, I think that there should be time for such a Report to be available. The important thing is that the Report should be made available, as its predecessors have been, and be printed for the benefit of hon. Members' consideration, whatever their views may be.
Is my right hon. Friend aware that commissions to which this matter has been referred have been considering it for four or five years, but have not yet reported? Will he give an assurance that, whatever delay there may be in the introduction of legislation for penal reform, the legislation will occur this Session, as is promised in the Queen's Speech?
I think that my hon. Friend had better examine the considered reply which I am to give to the hon. Member for Ashford (Mr. Deedes) on a later Question in relation to the question of the approved school which will deal with a very important aspect of the treatment of juvenile offenders. I could not give any absolute decision about the date at this stage, but I might be able to do so a little later in the year.
In view of the original Report on corporal punishment and the subsequent White Paper issued by the Home Office, would not the right hon. Gentleman agree that the Home Office Advisory Council—and I had better declare my interest in that I am a member of it—would he able to produce a Report with a reasonable degree of celerity?
Yes, I have been in touch with the learned judge who is the chairman and I have no reason to believe that there need be any great delay in this matter, but I think that the Committee wants time to look into it properly.
On a point of order. Observing that the Question to which my right hon. Friend has referred is Question No. 53, and as the hon. Member concerned might like to be able to consider the reply in conjunction with the reply to these Questions, would it be possible for my right hon. Friend to anticipate the order of Questions?