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Accused Persons (Bail)

Oral Answers to Questions — Home Department – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 23rd January 1964.

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Photo of Mr Charles Hale Mr Charles Hale , Oldham West 12:00 am, 23rd January 1964

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department in how many cases in the most recent period of 12 months for which figures are available an accused person has been detained in prison because bail was refused or was not provided by the accused; and how many of such cases were dealt with by fine, or probation, or by acquittal

Photo of Miss Mervyn Pike Miss Mervyn Pike , Melton

35,244 untried persons were received into prison in 1962. Of these 1,265 were subsequently found not guilty. It is estimated that about half the remainder were dealt with by fine, probation or discharge, but the exact number is not available.

Photo of Mr Charles Hale Mr Charles Hale , Oldham West

Does not the Under-Secretary realise that a refusal of bail has all the social effects upon an accused person of a short sentence of imprisonment—perhaps the loss of employment and all the other difficulties? When bail should be granted as a matter of right, unless circumstances of a special nature are proved, is it not monstrous to say that 35,000 people were sent to prison, to be fed for 14s. 6d. per week, before they were tried? Will the hon. Lady not consider with her right hon. Friend the necessity of taking steps to see that people are granted bail as of right unless there is real evidence to the contrary?

Photo of Miss Mervyn Pike Miss Mervyn Pike , Melton

The hon. Member knows that this is a matter for the courts and not for my right hon. Friend.

Photo of Sir Eric Fletcher Sir Eric Fletcher , Islington East

Granted that it is a matter for the courts, it is also a matter which intensely concerns the House and the public. The figures which the hon. Lady has given are most astonishing. Will she not, with her right hon. Friend, use her influence to instil into magistrates and those responsible for the administration of the law that the withholding of bail is punitive and ought not to be used for punitive purposes and that wherever possible bail should be granted as of right?

Photo of Miss Mervyn Pike Miss Mervyn Pike , Melton

These figures reflect a great many people who are not in prison for very long. Some are there for a very short time while sureties are provided, and so forth. I am sure that what has been said in the House will be noted by magistrates.