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I beg to move,
That this House notes with grave concern the mounting wave of crime together with the falling detection rate; regrets that the Government's actions and proposals in this sphere, particularly with regard to the police, appear inadequate to deal with this deteriorating situation, and rejects the Government's proposal to abolish juvenile courts and to give power to the executive to release prisoners after serving only one-third of their sentences without reference to the judiciary.
I should like to take the opportunity of welcoming the right hon. Gentleman to his first major debate as Home Secretary. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."] I see nothing inconsistent in that for, save in a technical sense, he has been barely responsible for home affairs during the past 18 months and he brings to the task of Home Secretary qualities of which all of us in the House of Commons are well aware. Looking at the situation which confronts us at present, I think that the whole country must wish him well. He certainly has a great opportunity to be of service to the nation.
The right hon. Gentleman succeeds one of his own colleagues who was much respected on both sides of the House. I think that at least we can be assured that we will hear from the right hon. Gentleman none of that talk of the dreadful legacy which has been left behind. It would hardly lie in his mouth to refer to that, and I hope that he will content himself with dealing with the situation as it is and with the fuure.
The background of the debate is a mounting crime wave. It is scarcely possible to pick up a newspaper without reading an account of some further breach of the criminal law—murder, robbery, violence, protection rackets, blackmail and every other kind of enormity. It is happening day by day and week by week, and the Opposition would be failing in their duty if they did not to some extent represent the mounting anger and indignation of the public that innocent men and women should be held to ransom by criminals of that character, and did not attempt to see that, so far as it lay within the power of anyone, steps were taken at least to ameliorate the situation, if it cannot be reversed.
I suppose that there are two approaches to the problem of crime and punishment. One approach is concerned principally with the protection of the public, with the building up of the strength of the police force, with punishment and with deterrents. That is certainly an aspect which must never be neglected.
The second approach or theme is concerned with seeking out the origins of crime, why this behaviour starts, where it originates, and what can be done at that stage to check it; with remedial treatment, with the treatment of prisoners in prison and the attempt to bring back criminals to a better realisation of their duties and responsibilities.
Perhaps the problem which confronts any Home Secretary is how to keep public support for the second of those approaches by assuring the public that he is giving a full measure of his attention to the first; for both of them are necessary, and the greatest of Home Secretaries in this country—and hon. Members on both sides of the House would probably include someone like the noble Lord, Lord Butler, among them—have managed to draw those two threads together, the thread of toughness on the one side and compassion upon the other, in order to discharge their duties adequately.
I am bound to tell the right hon. Gentleman that those of us who have been following the Government's record over the past year have some doubts as to whether they have done enough in either of those directions. The highlights of their policy have been remarkably undistinguished. We have had the proposal in a White Paper to release prisoners after serving only one third of their sentences, apparently without much reference to any parole board or to any judicial authority. We have had the proposal to abolish the juvenile courts, opposed by many of the most responsible people dealing with that side of our affairs.
We have had a remarkable circular advising people how to complain about the police. I will concede that that is one aspect of our affairs, and such a circular might be said to stem from the Report of the Royal Commission in 1962. But it was distinguished by the omission of a paragraph which went out of its way to call the attention of the public to the fact that the police were doing a tough and difficult job, and inviting the public to think twice before complaining. That paragraph, which had been seen by the Police Federation, had been dropped. The excuse was that it had been omitted in the process of editing as hardly relevant to the scope and context of the leaflet.
I absolve the right hon. Gentleman absolutely from any responsibility for that. It was a matter of Government responsibility. But I am bound to tell him that that operation caused a certain consternation in public opinion. For a Government to start talking of complaining about the police, when one would have thought that the whole energy of the Government would have been directed towards enlisting support for the police was, to say the least, a little untimely, but to have omitted the tribute to the police, and to have omitted it on the grounds set forth, seems to us to be quite astonishing. However, rumours have reached me that the Home Office is considering reissuing that pamphlet with the proper paragraph reinserted in it. I hope that the right hon. Gentleman will give us some statement about that in the course of his remarks.
It seems to me that, faced with a very real emergency, the record of this Government so far has not been a remarkable one. One must think, too, of the right hon. Gentleman himself. He has been in office for a relatively short time, but he has already started to take certain actions. He has established three committees. It is never very impressive to the House when a Minister starts establishing committees.
There is a vast range of these committees studying a whole variety of matters, but the right hon. Gentleman has established three more, to study manpower, to study equipment, and to study efficiency and management, and the distinguished members of these committees will no doubt be added to the vast number of people who already are, and have been for a long time, studying these particular matters.
I rather agree with the able leader in The Times this morning which said that the right hon. Gentleman's instincts are
right, but one has some doubt as to the methods. I think that the right hon. Gentleman has a little doubt himself. I notice—and it is possible that the members of these committees may have noticed—that within 24 hours of the setting up of these committees there appeared in the Evening News an article entitled, rather flamboyantly, "Whitehall's new whiz-kid", referring to the right hon. Gentleman, in which it said that he
loathes shelving decisions on to committees.
I hope that the Evening News is right in that respect.
While there is everything to be said for committees in the sense that they can keep the right hon. Gentleman in contact with the police force through roots stretching deep down into the various executive branches which will be carrying out these functions, it is vital that the right hon. Gentleman himself should be giving the directions to those committees, and it also vital that we in this House should know what those directions are, and what is the main strategy. I therefore hope that in his speech the right hon. Gentleman will deal with at least two main themes.
First, I hope that he will make a progress report on many of the measures which were instituted and started by my right hon. Friend the Member for Hampstead (Mr. Brooke) when he was Home Secretary. I am thinking here about the need to improve the provision of criminal statistics. It seems astonishing that today criminal statistics should go on lagging so desperately far behind events. Is it really not possible to produce some statistics monthly or quarterly, even if they are the crude figures,—they can be corrected afterwards—so that the House will be trying to debate a situation a little nearer to the present than two years ago? How is that work proceeding?
My right hon. Friend also instituted work on research—research in part into the origins of crime, and into the various and alternative methods of protection. I hope that the right hon. Gentleman will be able to say something about that, and also, of course, about the work of the regional crime squads themselves.
In the main, I hope that the right hon. Gentleman will speak to us, as I hope for a few moments to speak to the House, on what I would call the main strategy of this problem, on the origins of crime, on the organisation of the police force, and on the main principles of treatment, with, of course, some reference to the recent White Papers which the Government have introduced.
I propose now to say a few words about the origin of crime, and I make no apology for detaining the House for a few moments on this matter because I think that it goes to the root of this issue. Whatever else can be said, I do not think that anybody would really contend today that poverty was the main origin of crime. It may perhaps have been at one time, but not today.
Nor, if I may say so, do I agree with some of the statements in the Longford Report. I do not believe that anybody thinks crime today is due to an imbalance between public and private ownership, or what people say about the nationalised industries. I do not believe that an attack on a gas board leads to a contempt for property, which leads on to burglary. One has to get a little nearer to the realities of it.
Perhaps the realities are much nearer, and much more painful for us all, because in part they are perhaps due to the very essence of the modern State which all of us in one way or another, are trying to create. They are due in part to the goals which we set ourselves, and let there be no doubt that on both sides of the House we set very high goals of great material success. We do not differ very much in this. It does not really matter whether the pamphlet is called "Life is better under the Conservatives", or "Let's go with Labour". When it comes to the point, I warrant that there is not a political party in this House which does not hold out the hope of great material success as one of the aims of policy.
In a world in which we lay such stress on material success, the failures will be more frequent than the successes, and even partial success may often be regarded by men as failure in fact. This struggle and the sense of frustration which we occasionally see in the schools, and stretching up into adult life, sometimes reacts on men who are determined to get their own back on society, or to demonstrate their manhood by throwing bricks through plate glass windows and other reprehensible forms of conduct.
If that is part of it, there is another part in the fact that we live in an increasingly anonymous society. I am not blaming any one party. It is due to the fact that the right hon. Gentleman's colleagues will be building bigger schools, and larger factories, and many of them are today arguing the advantages of monopolies in large-scale enterprises. We travel further to school, and further to work. We travel more distantly from our own families and community for holidays. We live in a world in which people no longer have to think of what the neighbours say, because there are no neighbours in that sense, and the older disciplines of a family and community, of church or chapel, are weakening all the time.
I do not say that all that can be changed. It would be an idle dream, and it would be wrong. We cannot reverse it, but perhaps in the Home Office there ought to be men who are watchful to look after some of the older virtues and harder disciplines. Perhaps this ought to be one of the right hon. Gentleman's jobs, and perhaps at times he might restrain a little the enthusiasm of some of his colleagues in marching in what are often conflicting directions.
Against the background of all that, there is sheer opportunity. Never has the world been more open for criminals. Because of the number of cars, of self-service stores, of goods depots, and so on, the opportunities for theft are widespread, particularly where the disciplines are weakening.
The themes which we follow in a modern society often conflict. We want to press on. We want to have success. We want to have material success. We boast to ourselves that we have left far behind the world of poverty, of mass unemployment, and so on, and we do not want to reverse it, but in doing so we have opened up other more sombre possibilities, and we should watch them.
Outside his own Department there are two fields in which I should be making inquiries if I were in the right hon. Gentleman's shoes. The first is the work of local authorities under Section 1 of the Children and Young Persons Act, 1963. Before we do anything more about family service and the rest, what about the administration of the law as it is? Have we a sufficient number of welfare officers? Many local authorities are working under the greatest difficulty. I would refer to the tragic case which occurred in the South of England in respect of which the Home Secretary yesterday called for information. Have local authorities the resources to deal correctly with their great responsibilities?
Very often in this field of delinquency it is men rather than marginal changes of machinery which matter; it is finding enough men and women trained and willing to do this job in welfare or, later, in the probation service. It is their pay and conditions of service which the Home Secretary ought to be watching very carefully all the time, to see whether they are adequate even for the system as it exists today, let alone as it will be with some of the new ideas that are being brought forward.
The other Minister to whom the right hon. Gentleman might talk is the Minister of Education. We have had great debates about comprehensive schools, secondary modern schools, and the rest, but the Home Office should devote its time not merely to the question whether we have comprehensive schools or other schools, but to what is being taught in those schools—what is happening in the lower intellectual strata of those schools, whatever system may be in operation. All the advice that I have had on this subject leads me to the conclusion that in the lower C and D streams there is a fruitful source of young delinquency.
I am not talking about all schools, but the situation exists in those streams, and in my opinion there is a pressing need for the Government to give the closest study to means and methods of education in those areas, and to the use of family welfare services at that level, bringing the parents of the children concerned into the Government's consideration of the matter. These are two practical proposals to which the right hon. Gentleman should give his mind.
I now leave the question of the origin of crime, apologising for detaining the House for so long, and turn to the question of the protection of the public—or to the police. I am sure that we would all wish to pay tribute to the police, who are fighting against the most fearful odds. In my reference to the police I include the special constables. I hope that the right hon. Gentleman will say a word about them, because the recruiting of "specials" is very uneven throughout the country. This is a matter to which the Home Office might give a little thought. The rôle of the police is to enforce the criminal law, and one thing that the Home Secretary might do is to see that we do not constantly enlarge the area of the criminal law.
The police have on their plate just about all they can take, and if we go on increasing the number of criminal offences we shall break the back of our police force. It will not be able to cope. Last Session we debated a Bill on race relations. The right hon. Gentleman may remember that on that occasion the House of Commons rejected the then Home Secretary's advice. He wanted to increase the area of criminal law to deal with that question. We said, "No, this is the wrong approach. You cannot have policemen taken off other duties in order to see whether there is any discrimination in the distribution of cups of tea, and all the rest of it." The Home Secretary accepted our view.
We are in some danger of this in transport matters. I do not wish to elaborate the subject now, but I hope that the Home Secretary will make it clear to the Minister of Transport that the Home Office has a responsibility in these matters and that the ability of the police to enforce the law is a relevant factor, because to have laws which are unenforceable—as we have seen in the case of gaming—tends to bring the whole of the law into considerable disrepute. Do not let us unnecessarily enlarge the area of the criminal law.
I now want to talk about responsibility and command in the police forces. Historically, the House has always been very jealous of any power being exerted over the police. It has always borne in mind the possibility that, one day, a Home Secretary might use the police force to seize power in this country. I am bound to say that, weighing the various risks that confront the country at present, I have not stayed awake at night worrying about the possibility of my right hon. Friend the Member for Hampstead, the right hon. and learned Member for Newport (Sir F. Soskice), or even the present Home Secretary using the police to seize power.
There is something that I worry a little more about, and that is whether the police do not already virtually have the upper hand over the forces of law and order—[Laughter.]—whether the criminals do not have the upper hand over the criminals—[Laughter.] I am sorry; these things happen to all of us. This is a matter of deep concern. We are probably right to hesitate and think of every other way of doing it, but the time has come when the right hon. Gentleman must give his mind to the organisation of the police and to the question of responsibility and command.
The present situation is a very odd one. The right hon. Gentleman is nominally in charge of the Metropolitan Police, but he is not in charge of 126 other police forces in this country. He has an inspectorate which inspects the latter, but not the Metropolitan Police. I find it very difficult to believe that this is a correct procedure. If the right hon. Gentleman is to adopt as a slogan the title of the pamphlet issued by my right hon. Friend the Member for Hampstead—"The War Against Crime"—and we are to fight a war against anything, we want somebody in charge and we want a clear chain of command.
At the top we need a very great reinforcement inside the Home Office and on the police side. I would have thought that any Home Secretary today would need a chief of staff on the police side and the proper organisation for considering strategy and equipment, and the main lines along which the battle would be fought. In default of that I would have thought he would find his task very difficult.
Lower down, he needs to press on with amalgamations. Far too many forces have fewer than 500 men. I am sure that I am being helpful in saying this. It would be quite possible for an Opposition to take every local authority point when amalgamations were going through. I do not seek to do that. Some of the things that I am saying about the police are controversial, but we are at a stage in this war against crime when, unless somebody says something controversial, the battle will go the wrong way. I say that we ought to have this organisation at the top and to press on with amalgamations lower down.
I remember being faced with a problem not altogether dissimilar in connection with the Armed Services. There would have been a riot if we had tried to put the whole of the Army, Navy and Air Force into mud-coloured uniforms and to run the whole thing centrally—administratively, and from every other point of view—from Whitehall. Nor would it have been a good thing to do. What we did was to conduct the central responsibility for the battle from the top. We put that under a central command. We left a good deal of local loyalties to regiments, ships, and squadrons of aircraft—and we always should do in this country—but there was never any doubt who was in command, or what the chain of command ought to be.
It is not good enough for the Home Secretary to have a system in which the initiatives come only from the bottom, upwards. The initiatives should start coming from the Home Office and spread down through all those who are responsible for these struggles. Of course, it will cost money: it ought to cost money. The detection rates are going down in just those places where the equipment is not available, and everybody knows it. The rates—high though they are—cannot bear the greater expense of some of this equipment.
The Home Secretary and the Government must consider taking at any rate part of the responsibility for finance centrally, but they must make absolutely certain that those who are engaged in suppressing crime have the equipment with which to do it. We must not underestimate what crime costs. It is an enormous sum of money and it is proper and worth while that the central Government should provide funds to meet it.
There is also the question of how we use the police. I ask the Home Secretary to consider seriously the possibility of an outside organisation and method study. I know that it will not be popular, but when one looks at the burden, the amount of work which is done by skilled men in writing out reports and dealing with administrative work of all kinds, one thinks of the experiment in Southern Ireland, and there may be a good deal to be said for trying it here. Of course, committees within the police are doing good work. I do not say that the police have not done a magnificent job. In some areas, their work is superb, but, looked at throughout, I believe that a great service could be done in using the time of police officers better if an outside study group considered just how that time is at present used and whether it could be improved.
I will not argue a pay claim for the police: that would be wholly irresponsible. If the right hon. Gentleman is to increase their pay, as I suspect he probably will, let it be done in those areas where recruits are really needed and let it be done to repay efficiency where that is really needed. Above all, he should make it part of a package deal to ensure that the recruitment conditions for the police are so geared to attract more graduates into the police. The numbers Were given me by the Parliamentary Secretary the other day, in a letter which was wholly unsatisfactory. However, that was not his fault: it was the only one which he was allowed to write. On the subject of suggestions to attract graduates into the police, we got nowhere. The graduates are going into the criminal profession at the moment; that is the trouble. We must have some of the brains on the other side as well.
The right hon. Gentleman should have a talk with men who know about the problem, men who are universally trusted, men like Sir Frank Lee, a great public servant now in the university world, or like Lord Butler, who has seen both sides of it, once at the Home Office and now in the university. Let him have a word with those men and see whether something cannot be done to attract some of these young men into the police force. I do not exaggerate the numbers needed, but an adequate supply of such men could make a great contribution to the work of the police.
I turn now to the question of punishment. In my judgment, punishment is relevant to the question of crime. I do not share the views of those who do not think there is crime and barely think that there ought to be punishment. In many cases today, the punishment is wholly inadequate for some crimes which are committed. I saw the other day a report of the case of a policeman in Leicester who had been brutally battered by some young men, who were brought before magistrates and fined £25.
Such treatment is trivial and irrelevant. I recognise that this is a matter primarily for the judiciary, but when I see the Lord Chancellor concerning himself with the fact that there should be more working men on the bench in Bournemouth—and I accept that this is a noble aspiration—all I ask is that he should do something more and try to see, with the assistance of the Lord Chief Justice, that the men and women on the Bench have a sense of responsibility about punishment.
There is nothing technical about this except in the sense that one wants to understand all the range of possibilities. When there are really bad cases of assault on the police and so on, I hope that the whole House of Commons would wish for punishment in such cases to be substantial and severe.
Reform is much in the minds of the people. Quite rightly, the right hon. Gentleman allowed the Press and television cameras to visit Durham gaol and take pictures of the train robbers. But, as the people looked at those train robbers and read about their debating their access to the prison yard and the television sets, and talking about what they would do with their social lives thereafter, some of their minds must have turned to what happened to the poor man who was battered to pieces by these thieves. We must not forget the victims of these crimes.
Although it was absolutely right to turn publicity on these matters, I hope that it will not turn the public against prison reform. I want prison reform to be pressed on with. One of my concerns has been something about which I have heard nothing from the Government in the last year and few promises for the future. All their intentions about juvenile courts and the rest are all very well, but there is a real problem in some of our prisons, which are out of date and with which we could do more work and more opportunities for exercise in them. They are overcrowded, largely with short-term prisoners.
If only we could somehow step up the fines very substantially, using the powers of the magistrates' courts to impose really swingeing monetary penalties, this would be better, in many cases, than sending men to prison. If we could study some of the methods used outside this country, we might benefit. I have in mind such examples as the attendance centres in Belgium, where men work during the week without breaking up a family and carry on with their job, but, at the weekend, instead of going to the football match, they go back into the prisons. There is much to be said for that idea in our country in some cases.
Some originality of thought is necessary to make a dint in the prison reform problem and above all, in methods of rehabilitation and the supply of hostels. There should be more care for those men—for whom one feels some compassion—who leave prison and find the greatest difficulty in getting themselves back onto any sort of proper, decent life. If some of them could spend a little more time in hostels so as to be adjusted to the outside world, this would be a great advantage.
The Government's proposals so far consist of two White Papers, in the light of which, I must ask, what is the future of the Royal Commission? I should like the Home Secretary to say whether he is expecting the Royal Commission to carry on and make recommendations. One White Paper, that on the juvenile courts, must deal with much the same subjects as are being studied by the Royal Commission.
The proposal about the release of prisoners is that the Home Secretary should have power to release them after serving only a third of their sentence and without reference to a parole body or a body representative of the judiciary. There is a dilemma here. In the case of a man sentenced to life imprisonment, the Home Secretary can let him out on licence already. In the case of a life sentence—imposed, perhaps, for the most brutal murder—there there may be some anxiety among the public that, under the powers which already exist, the Home Secretary should be able to let such a man out on licence at any time or within a short time after he has begun to serve his sentence.
In cases of determinate sentences, for a fixed term of years, the Home Secretary has virtually no such power, except the ordinary remission for good conduct.
We may have a situation in which a Home Secretary has to leave in gaol a man whose character and physique have deteriorated to the point at which any man, whatever his view of the original act, would wish to let him out of the prison cell in order to treat him in some other way. This situation is bad on both sides. It is a matter in which both the judiciary and the Executive have a very close interest.
I ask the Home Secretary to consider carefully the general proposal which has been put forward already by some of my hon. and right hon. Friends, namely, that he should have power to release in both types of case. The ultimate authority must be with the Executive and with the Home Secretary.
To satisfy public opinion there would need to be a referential body, a parole body, preferably judicial and certainly with judicial representation on it, otherwise the public would never be satisfied that men would not be let out long before their sentences had been concluded, and we might have the worst of all worlds in which the judiciary, in an attempt to keep men in gaol for long enough, imposed longer and longer and longer sentences so that, even if the Home Secretary were using these powers to the full, he would have to keep men in prison for a very long time. I therefore ask the Home Secretary to apply his mind to that suggestion.
I think that the White Paper on juvenile courts is a very great mistake. The attempt to take children and young people out of the juvenile courts and to treat them in some way which is an extension of the welfare service is a very grave error of judgment. I am not alone in thinking that. Magistrate after magistrate and probation officer after probation officer has said so. I do not say that there are no supporters for the point of view put forward in the White Paper, but there is a formidable body of informed opinion wholly against the proposals put forward in the White Paper.
I put the arguments in this way: human liberty is a matter for a judge and not a matter for a welfare officer. The liberty of a child is just as much liberty as is the liberty of any adult. It is an infringement of liberty to send children to an approved school. Before the Government hand over children to have their liberty taken away in a bargain struck between welfare officers and their parents, they should think well. A man will not easily be forgiven who introduces it into the law. It is a great departure.
Moreover, in any event it is very dangerous to say that this freedom shall be bartered away by the parent. It may affect relations between the child and the parent for the whole of the rest of his life. It is one thing for a boy who has been naughty to be sent to an approved school by a judge, but it is another thing if his own father has agreed with the local welfare officer, who may already have broken down on the case, to send him away. I assure the Home Secretary that there are the most formidable arguments against this course. I am not saying that we shall reach final conclusions in the debate, but all these matters are being studied by the Royal Commission, and I submit that if the Home Secretary tried to rush the House into a decision on the lines of that White Paper he would be failing in his duty.
I know the arguments which lie behind this White Paper. There are those who feel that we must get away from all idea of having judges in this matter, who feel that everything ought to be by agreement, who feel that the difference between delinquency and non-delinquency ought somehow to be obliterated. This is an error. I read the other day an article in the Observer by Barbara Wootton. She criticised the White Paper from the other point of view, because she thinks that it does not go far enough. She says "In practice, everything will turn upon whether the councils"—that is, the family councils—"do or do not succeed in obliterating the division of children into sheep and goats, delinquent and non-delinquent". But we cannot utterly abolish the difference between right and wrong in this world. If we do, we shall not further the cause of the war against crime.
The article continued:
Never shall I forget interviewing in the same week a parent whose child had won a place at Christ's Hospital and another whose boy was on his way to an approved school. The cheers in the one case and the tears in the other illustrated, as could nothing else, the difference between an educational and a penal decision.
But there are Members in this House and people outside who think that there is a difference between winning a scholarship to Christ's Hospital and being sent to an approved school. If we tried absolutely to obliterate all difference, the damage which we should do by sheer muddle and woolly-mindedness would be damage which should not be permitted by any Government.
I apologise for having spoken longer than I intended. I have criticised what I believe to be some of the sins of omission and commission of the Government so far. But the right hon. Gentleman has perhaps one of the greatest opportunities which has been offered to a Home Secretary for very many years. He is faced with a great crisis. There is a great demand among public opinion that something should be done about it. He has an Opposition which is not seeking to score cheap and easy points, but is trying to thrust the right decisions down his throat, however unpopular they may be. This is an opportunity which he should seize with both hands. I ask him to put aside the committees and the vested interests and to get on with the job.
I beg to move, to leave out from "of" to the end of the Question and to add instead thereof:
crime; warmly supports the efforts of the police to combat it, and endorses the determination of Her Majesty's Government to combine effective prevention and detection with penal reform".
For the greater part of his speech the right hon. Member for Monmouth (Mr. Thorneycroft) was in a peculiarly agreeable mood. He started with the most friendly and much-appreciated congratulations and good wishes to me, and he went on to make a number of thoughtful and constructive points, on some of which I shall try to comment in my speech and others of which I shall be extremely happy to study at greater leisure.
But then I looked at the Motion. I can only assume that the right hon. Gentleman was unavoidably absent from the meeting of the Shadow Cabinet which decided to put down the Motion, because the Motion is a Motion of censure, resulting in a vote in party terms, and I understand that we are to have a three-line Whip Division.
I must assume either that the hon. Member for Sutton and Cheam (Mr. Sharpies) will make a remarkably ferocious speech at 9 p.m. to justify the Motion, or, alternatively, that the right hon. Member for Monmouth is dissociating himself ostentatiously from his right hon. Friend the Member for Bexley (Mr. Heath). I hope that the latter is not the case. When I was Minister of Aviation I greatly enjoyed having the hon. Member for Stratford-on-Avon (Mr. Maude) opposite me for much of the time. I hope very much that the right hon. Member for Monmouth will not find himself in the same situation as the hon. Member for Stratford-on-Avon—[HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."] Hon. Members must recognise that this is a Motion of censure. I am very glad that the right hon. Member for Monmouth did not choose to move it in the terms of a Motion of censure, but the House must appreciate that on the Order Paper it is a Motion of censure.
I am glad that the right hon. Gentleman decided not to move it in those terms, because in my view crime is a most unsuited subject for strict party conflict, and as long as I am Home Secretary I hope that we can prevent it from becoming a subject for strict party conflict. It is a most unsuited subject because it is one in which, more than most, passion and emotion are very bad counsellors. We all have a duty to encourage the nation to look objectively at the facts and to see which reasoned conclusions about prevention and punishment can be drawn from them.
I certainly agree that when he was Home Secretary Lord Butler did a great deal to encourage that approach to the problem. The right hon. Member for Monmouth suggested that I have a word with Lord Butler. I always enjoy having a word with the noble Lord and if I thought that a word from him would help me to solve the problem of crime I would be glad to have it, but I think that more than one word, even from him, is required to explain the whole position.
It would be most unwise to introduce politics into the question of crime and to suggest that although we are faced with a most difficult situation this was the fault of this Government. From the statistical point of view, the bad years for crime were 1951 to 1964. I draw no conclusions from that, but I remind the House of that fact lest hon. Gentlemen opposite be tempted to try to go too far in that direction.
When one remembers what was said in one of the most striking passages in an interesting pamphlet on crime, which the right hon. Member for Monmouth and some of his hon. Friends recently published, about one of the most baffling issues, the social causes of crime, one sees that the right hon. Gentleman and his colleagues discussed the relationship between crime rates and the heavy emphasis society places on individual success—but perhaps it would be better if I quoted the passage:
We have a situation, then, in which the fruits of achievement are continually emphasized, and even graphically displayed, but where achievement is necessarily limited by the structure of opportunity and by the fact that few can move into positions of great success.
Where success is at a high premium, and necessarily scarce, failure must become a common experience.
The price of living in a society which emphasised achievement, is widespread disappointment at the experience of relative failure … It appears that this general situation and response to it are part of the explanation of the increased rate of crime, in relation not only to acquisitive crime, but also to crimes of violence, vandalism, and drug addiction".
We must all beware of dogmatism in this sphere. However, I find it difficult to imagine a neater description of the national atmosphere than what was said by certain hon. Gentlemen opposite before the 1959 election. I would not dream of pressing this point because I feel a great sense of uncertainty in this sphere. It is not a suitable field for politics, so let us have no more censure Motions but, rather, more speeches like the one the right hon. Member for Monmouth just made.
The uncertainty which we may all feel which we should feel if we are wise—about the exact causes of crime should lead to no uncertainty about our determination to deal with its manifestations. I am in no doubt about the magnitude of the problem and about the suffering and fear, not to mention the economic loss, which it causes. Any Governement, certainly any Home Secretary, should give the highest priority to combating the frightening and mounting wave of robbery and violence in this country, though this applies not only to this country.
When I took on my present office some commentators were kind enough to say that I was likely to be a libertarian Home Secretary. If by this it is meant that I approach with scepticism those who wish to stop other people from ordering their own lives as they wish, not because such conduct damages others but because the prohibitors, whether the State or individuals, wish to impose their own standards, choices, taste—or lack of inclination—on others, then I am happy to accept the libertarian label. But it would be a great mistake to believe that there is any connection between such an approach to matters of individual conduct and a soft or defeated approach to the organised criminal conspiracies or more isolated acts of brutal violence which at present disfigure our society.
How are we to mount our attack on this? I am perfectly sure that our main emphasis should be placed on detection and conviction. Of course, punishment has its deterrent as well as its reformative aspects—although there is some substantial evidence to show that the more serious the crime the less susceptible it is to the deterrent effect of punishment.
My noble Friend the Lord Chancellor, in a notable speech in another place in July, 1964, said that he doubted if punishment had any very appreciable effect on the amount of murder, arson or incest; but if the penalties for car parking were abolished he had no doubt that virtually the whole of London's traffic would come to a standstill within 48 hours.
There is a lot in that, but, whether or not we agree with it, there can be no doubt that detection and conviction are prior, and, therefore, more important, deterrents than punishment. If a man is contemplating whether or not to commit a robbery he is more likely to be influenced by whether his chances of being found out are one in four rather than three in four than by whether, if he is convicted, he will get two years or three years.
The probability of detection is essentially a function of the strength and efficiency of the police and these are both subjects on which the right hon. Member for Monmouth had a great deal to say and which have already caused me a lot of thought and anxiety. The right hon. Gentleman somewhat under-estimated what has been done and is being done and I will deal with this matter under four heads.
The first is police pay. It is no part of my case or approach to pretend that everything is necessarily perfect here or that we should have closed minds on this issue. This is not the spirit in which I propose to approach the negotiations which will soon begin for a new pay settlement to run from next autumn. At the same time, however, I am sure that the House would wish to approach this problem against the background of three extremely relevant considerations.
The first is that we must proceed—and I intend to do so—through the statutory machinery which has been carefully established by successive Governments. The second is that we must have some regard to repercussive effects and to pay in largely comparable public services. It is no good thinking that the police can be considered in total isolation from, say, probation officers, other social workers, the fire services or, indeed, the teachers. The right hon. Member for Monmouth indicated that he agreed with me on this point.
The third, perhaps most important, is to remember that the existing police pay, while it may not be generous, is not nearly as niggardly as is sometimes imagined. A Metropolitan constable in the middle of his increment scale, and taking account of his allowances, may draw about £26 a week without overtime, £6 10s. of which would be a tax-free allowance. With the regular six hours' overtime worked in the Metropolitan area he would draw about £29 10s. When the recent arbitration award is put into effect these figures will be increased by 36s. a week. A comparable detective sergeant would receive about £38 a week, with overtime.
In Birmingham, where the force is proportionately about as much below establishment as in London and where a regular four hours a week overtime are worked, the comparable figures are about £21 per week without overtime for a constable in his middle increment scale and about £23 with overtime. The figure would be about £32 for a detective sergeant. In areas like this we are currently negotiating manning-up allowances.
In a force like Cumberland—I am trying to give a picture of the whole country—where there is no significant establishment deficiency, the standard rates of pay, leaving allowances out of account, are at present about the same as in Birmingham, but in that sort of force there is less overtime and we are not negotiating manning-up allowances.
I do not want to give a complacent impression about police pay. I wish the problem to be seen against the background of the facts. The facts lead me to believe that to say that the problem of police manpower is wholly or even perhaps primarily a matter of pay is mistaken. First, the pool of potential manpower on which we can draw is fairly limited. Second, last year was an exceptionally good year for recruitment, both gross and net. Over 7,500 officers were recruited, and the strength at the end of the year was 3,008 up on that at the beginning. This was a substantially better result from both points of view than that achieved in 1961, the year immediately following the 30 per cent. to 40 per cent. pay increase which the Royal Commission recommended and which was put into effect.
I do not deduce from this, of course, that we do not need more police. We do, particularly in difficult areas. As the House knows, we are in England and Wales about 15,000 below the normal establishment, and probably about 18,000 below a realistic establishment. I should greatly like to be able to close as much of this gap as possible, but I stress two interlocking points on this.
First, the most immediate contribution that we can make towards solving the problem is to make the most efficient possible use of the police manpower that we already have. Second, such an approach, in my view, is likely in itself substantially to improve the prospects of increasing police strength in the future. The interest of the job, the standard of equipment available, and the feeling that the best possible use is being made of a man's services have at least as much bearing on the problem of wastage—and wastage is the crux of the problem here—as does the question of pay.
I am therefore very glad that at the first meeting of the Police Advisory Board, which took place on Monday of this week, there was unanimous and enthusiastic agreement for the setting up, under a steering group to be chaired by my hon. Friend the Joint Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department, of three working parties, one to look at police manpower, one at the operational organisation of the police and one at equipment.
The right hon. Member for Monmouth was rather mocking about these committees and he suggested that I did not like them and should not have them. I certainly do not want to put all problems to committees, but the right hon. Gentleman knows that there was a strong feeling among the police that an inquiry would do good. I thought that it would and I thought it quite wrong to resist it. On the contrary, I encouraged it and I believe it right. I think that it is of great importance. Those primarily composing these groups are either police officers or those who have spent a substantial part of their lives on problems connected with police service—but not exclusively so.
I am also anxious to bring one or two outside experts into the working parties. I believe that a management consultant could help a great deal in the manpower group and I shall look at what the right hon. Member for Monmouth said about an outside O. and M. study. In the equipment group I hope to get an electronics expert, perhaps someone with experience of the Royal Radar Establishment at Malvern. I am most anxious that these groups should do a searching but reasonably rapid job and come to their conclusions within about six months. No issues need be regarded as sacrosanct. I hope, for instance, that the arguments for and against the beat system, in so far as it involves patrolling on foot, can be carefully considered, but we shall not reach our objective unless those taking part in the working groups leave prejudice behind them and are prepared to accept conclusions to which the facts may lead them.
Would not the right hon. Gentleman agree that it is just as important to attract the right type of recruit to the police force as to get recruits in sufficient numbers? Has his Department any plans in mind for attracting graduates into the police force? Unless this is done we shall be faced with a serious problem in the force.
I am fully aware of what the hon. Member says and I think it of great importance that we should look at quality as well as quantity of recruits. We are appointing a number of officers to keep in touch with the universities and sixth forms in the regions who can deal precisely with this problem of quality recruitment.
To turn to somewhat wider questions of police organisation, one of the strongest recommendations of the Royal Commission was for the amalgamation of small police forces into larger units. Since the Police Act, 1964, we have been moving ahead with that policy. I think that it is a correct policy and I propose to pursue it with vigour. My hon. Friend the Joint Under-Secretary will be defending it with vigour this evening when we have before the House a Prayer against one of our Orders in this respect.
I am glad to be able to say that we have secured the voluntary amalgamation of the police areas of Smethwick, Walsall, West Bromwich, Wolverhampton and Dudley into a new West Midlands Police Force which will operate under a unified command from 1st April. Amalgamations have been taking place at the rate of about six a year, and at this rate it would take seven years, not 20 years as the right hon. Member for Monmouth suggests in his pamphlet with what I think is a rather curious use of arithmetic, to bring the forces down from 120 to 80, which the pamphlet appears to regard as the target. In fact we have never announced a target figure and at present I am considering urgently how far and how fast we should go. If we can do a substantial part of the job in much less than seven years I shall be very pleased.
We also attach great importance to building up the work of the regional crime squads and other joint efforts. Nor should we rule out a more drastic approach if there was clear evidence that it was necessary for police efficiency. I find, both in the pamphlet and in his
speech, the right hon. Member for Monmouth not altogether clearly helpful in this respect. The pamphlet says:
The time has surely come when the police should be capable of operating in effect as the Queen's Constabulary.
What does that mean? It sounds to me more like a phrase than a policy. Does it mean a national police force, as the right hon. Gentleman in his subsequent Press conference at first indicated that it might mean but then quickly went on to say that what he was proposing would affect only "marginally" the powers and responsibilities of chief constables?
At this stage I became hopelessly confused, but if the right hon. Gentleman and others have clear proposals to put forward I shall listen to them with great interest. I have a very open mind on this question of police organisation. But it is not much good trying to build on such transparent attempts to get the best of both worlds.
The right hon. Gentleman referred to the amalgamation of the police force in the West Midlands. Would not he agree that it is equally important that in the Manchester conurbation, as has been recommended in the special review area reports, one police force should take the place of several?
I have indicated that I am in favour of pressing on with amalgamations where it can be shown that there is a clear efficiency case for doing so, but the hon. Member would not expect me to make an off-the-cuff pronouncement about the right solution in particular areas without having the detailed facts and a full report on them.
As I have said, the third working party will be concerned with equipment and no doubt because of its composition will pay particular attention to equipment used by the ordinary police constable. Much attention has been rightly paid recently to the provision of two-way wireless for the individual policeman. I attach the greatest importance to rapid progress in this direction. Such equipment is relatively cheap—at least compared with some of the equipment I was used to in my previous job—and it greatly increases the efficiency and operational flexibility of the constable. In the past, we have faced a genuine difficulty as to whether to proceed with an equipment programme with sets currently available at a time when we knew that much improved versions would soon be forthcoming. To some extent, this dilemma persists, but there are always great dangers in letting the best be the enemy of the good, and I am resolved to press ahead now with a big programme of buying the best sets which are currently available to us.
We are concerned, also, about providing the police with the backing of good forensic services and scientific advice. The Police Research and Planning Branch, jointly staffed by scientific officers and seconded police officers, has already done a good deal of work in this direction. This will be multiplied several times over in the next few years.
In addition, we have the new Scientific Advisory Council of the Home Office, at the first meeting of which I presided a few weeks ago. We have just started a major research programme to tackle the problem of retrieval by automatic means from the main fingerprint library of a single print left at the scene of a crime. This project is being tackled from different angles by five research teams, one of which will be working at the Atomic Weapons Research Establishment at Aldermaston where our new central research establishment is to be set up. We are working hard on the possibilities of obtaining by scientific means more information from pieces of glass, blood or explosive which may be found on a suspect or at the scene of a crime. Possibilities for rapid advances in these fields are great, and we shall do everything we can to exploit them.
There is a lot to be done, but a lot has been done already. When we talk about falling detection rates, let us remember that this has been a function of increasing crime and not of declining police efficiency. On the contrary. The number of crimes cleared up per police officer has risen significantly, from 3·3 in 1955 to 5·3 in 1964.
I turn now from the problems of detection to those of conviction. Without detection there is no chance of conviction, but detection loses much of its force as a deterrent, at least so far as real criminals are concerned, unless there is a high chance of conviction following. The one is a matter of police strength and efficiency, the other of court procedure. There may be some widespread feeling today that court procedure is calculated both to waste the time of busy police officers and other witnesses and to give an almost excessive protection to the guilty as well as the innocent. The Criminal Law Revision Committee is considering the law of evidence in criminal cases. The Committee has wide terms of reference on this issue, and I await its report with great interest. If any substantial change were advocated, we should need to be convinced that individual rights and liberties were fully protected, but, subject to that, and in our wide thinking, let us remember that the war against crime is not a game—it certainly does not appear so to those engaged in it—and we ought not to defeat ourselves by archaic, elaborate and highly formalised rules which may give an undue advantage to the enemy, for it is with enemies that we are dealing.
I move now from detection and conviction to punishment. First, I mention one form of punishment which is not referred to in the Opposition's Motion but on which, I have no doubt, We may well hear something from Opposition back-bench speakers and about which there is a Motion down on the Order Paper, that is, capital punishment. The Motion on the Order Paper asks for the return of capital punishment for certain categories of murder and, at the turn of the year, there was a good deal of speculation, mostly ill-informed, about the murder figure for 1965, coupled with some suggestion that this should cause a change of policy. This is quite out of the question.
As I am sure every responsible Member of the House realises, in the first place, there is nothing in last year's figures to warrant a change. The initial figure was 262, but in every year many of the deaths initially recorded as murder are found later not to have been minder. In 1964, an initial figure of 236 gave a final figure of 155. In 1963, the initial figure was 225 and the final figure 133. In 1962, the figures were 238 and 142. There is no reason to think that the final figure for 1965 will be substantially out of line with the recent past. But, even if there were, this would not begin to be a reason for turning tail on a decision which both Houses of Parliament, after exhaustive debate and with a very full knowledge of long-term trends in both this and other countries, have taken, with full deliberation and on a free vote. The Government, of course, not that they would wish otherwise, are bound by the terms of the Statute.
The Motion to which the Home Secretary has referred is in my name. May I put this question to him? What sanction have we got against people like bank robbers in prison for life to prevent them shooting or bashing their way out, killing warders and police in the process, going back to their hidden money and then disappearing to South America?
As the hon. Gentleman knows, this subject was debated at great length on the Murder (Abolition of Death Penalty) Bill. I do not think that he adds to the orderly progress of business by intervening not to ask for information or to make a point but really to debate the issue all over again. Perhaps I should point out that we cannot, according to the Statute, make variations for particular types of murder. The House decided otherwise. In any event, a very large part of the case against the death penalty was the case for doing away completely with the whole ghoulish apparatus of the gallows, and that rules out any partial approach.
I come now to an aspect of punishment which is mentioned in the Motion before us. The right hon. Gentleman and his hon. Friends disagree with the White Paper, "The Adult Offender", to the extent that they do not like the parole system without a parole board or without giving the judiciary at least a right to be consulted about what the Home Secretary may propose. I am a little surprised at this view.
As the White Paper has not been debated, let me explain briefly what we propose. It is that the Home Secretary should be empowered to release on licence any prisoner who has served either one-third of his sentence or 12 months, whichever be the longer. Release would be conditional. A normal condition, though not necessarily applying in all cases, would be supervision by probation officer, and conditions as to residence also would, in suitable cases, be imposed. The licence and its conditions would normally continue to apply until the date on which the prisoner would have been released from prison in the normal course, that is, when he had completed two-thirds of the sentence imposed on him by the court, and during the period of release on licence he would be liable to recall to prison at any time if he was in breach of any of the conditions or if the circumstances otherwise warranted it.
The basis of this proposal is that a considerable number of long-term and, indeed, medium-term prisoners reach a recognisable peak in their training at which they may respond to generous treatment but after which, if kept in prison, they are likely to go downhill. To give such prisoners the opportunity of supervised freedom at the right moment may be decisive in securing their return to decent citizenship. This is not a proposal based on a soft approach to punishment. It is put forward as a positive contribution to preparing suitable prisoners for a return to the community as law-abiding members, and this, surely, must be the first object of any penal policy.
Ought this not to be done by the Home Secretary except under the control of the judiciary or a parole board? I do not think so. This does not mean, of course, that we would not consult the judiciary in a large number of cases. Perhaps I may remind the House that my right hon. and learned Friend the Lord Privy Seal started a practice, which had been followed by no previous Home Secretary, of always consulting the Lord Chief Justice and the trial judge before a life-sentence prisoner was released on licence.
But I am sure that the final responsibilities should remain with the Home Secretary responsible to Parliament and not be passed over to the judiciary or a board. The judges cannot tell how a prisoner has developed since sentence was passed. They cannot tell what are his resettlement arrangements and prospects. This can best be done by the Home Office with its full opportunity for informal and confidential consultation.
While I accept the right hon. Gentleman's argument and see the strength of it, may I ask why he cannot undertake to consult—that is the word he used—on "all" cases? Why does he say that he, or his successor, is most likely to consult on "most" cases? Why not make it seem fairer, as it would if he said that the holder of his Office would always consult before making the final decision?
As the hon. Gentleman will see when I come to it, I am willing to consider anything in this respect. But it is his hon. Friends who have put down an extremely formal statement of the position rejecting parole without really putting anything about consultation in its place.
I should like to go on and say what I think are the disadvantages of trying to do it by a board with a fairly wide, or even a fairly narrow, membership. Could such a board do the job better? I doubt this, too. Would it formally interview the prisoner? If it did so and then turned him down, what tensions and unsettlements might this create?
Furthermore, there used to be very similar boards—preventive detention advisory hoards, they were called—which decided, or tried to decide, whether a prisoner sentenced to preventive detention should be released on licence after serving to two-thirds or five-sixths of his sentence. These boards were abolished in 1963 by the right hon. Member for Hampstead (Mr. Brooke) by common consent, including their own, because they had been almost totally unsuccessful in forming reliable judgments about prisoners. I therefore think that there is very little in the Opposition's point here.
The crucial consideration is whether or not we are in favour of the parole system. I gather from the right hon. Gentleman and from his pamphlet that the Opposition are in favour of it, and I am very glad to know that that is the case. If so, the question of how the decision is made is essentially subsidiary, with the balance of argument, in my view—I will not put it higher than this—leaning against what the right hon. Gentleman and the Motion propose.
If my right hon. Friend is coming to his conclusion, might I put to him a point which is in my mind and which he has not touched on yet? Is it beyond the wit of the Home Office that the public can co-operate more greatly in the detection and prevention of crime? I say that for this reason. The people about whom we are talking are obviously the enemies of society, and society should accept the challenge and declare war upon them.
I was proposing to make a mention of that point, but I am grateful to my hon. Friend for mentioning it.
In the final section of my speech I should like to say a few words about the children's White Paper, also included in the rather compendious Opposition Motion. I say a few words partly because I have already spoken for long enough and partly because my right hon. Friend the Minister of State, who has done so much work in this field, will deal with it more fully this evening.
Since the publication of the White Paper, my right hon. Friend has been conducting a wide range of discussions with the interested parties. As she told the House last week, she found a very substantial volume of support for what we propose. But the White Paper was published as a basis of discussion and not, of course, as a last word. I am sure that we should seek power to move in the direction that we have suggested, but in the meantime we shall be very anxious to take into account what has been said and to produce a final scheme which, compatibly with the principles of our approach, is as acceptable as possible to informed opinion and those who work in this field.
I therefore ask the House to reject this inappropriate and curiously put together Motion. But while I regard the Motion as inappropriate, I certainly do not regard the debate as inappropriate or the subject as unimportant. Mounting crime figures are a challenge to the nation and the Government. The record of the recent past, despite great and devoted efforts by the police and others concerned, is depressing. But there is no reason for us to be defeatist about the future. The object must be not merely to halt the rise but to turn the crime figures sharply downwards.
This can be done. It has been done in some places, and often very difficult places, in this country. It has been done in some places abroad, like Chicago, with a most notorious criminal past. I am determined that the best methods at present in use at home shall be applied, where they are suitable, throughout the country, and we shall not be ashamed to accept some cross-fertilisation, from abroad—although we have much to offer as well as to receive. We shall not shrink from any measures of police reorganisation which we regard as clearly necessary to achieve a more efficient force. The police are crucial to crime detection and prevention, and they will receive from me every reasonable support which I can give them. I hope that the general public will do the same. This country can, and must, be made a safer place in which to live.
In our approach to penal reform we intend to be swayed neither by sentimentality nor by emotional and ill-considered cries for vengeance. The object of our penal system is to combine deterrence with the rehabilitation, in the shortest possible time, of the offender who can be brought back into society. We shall work on the basis of the facts in so far as they can be ascertained and not on prejudice of any sort. Our aim will be to combine hope and reality, and not to let either be submerged by the other.
After very many years in this House, the right hon. Gentleman has now made his maiden speech in a substantial debate as the Home Secretary. I join with my right hon. Friend the Member for Monmouth (Mr. Thorneycroft) in welcoming him to that post.
The right hon. Gentleman has been presiding over this great Department of State not for very many weeks, but he may already have discovered not only its very great strength but also some of its very great weakness. He may also have discovered that many of us would be alarmed if it were thought that the liberty of the subject were left in the hands of the Executive as advised by experts in the Home Office. That Office, in my view, is not so organised and the Home Secretary has not sufficient time or a sufficient position to be able to investigate each and every individual case—he has to depend upon the brief which is put before him—as to permit the House and the country to hand over to the Executive the right to decide on the liberty of the subject and these matters of release.
At the beginning of his speech the right hon. Gentleman said that the Motion introduced politics into crime. I suppose that, technically, it does. But he cannot avoid the responsibility which he now has and which others have in the Government of which he is a member. He will take the credit, and he must, of course, accept the blame. But he must see that if it is introducing politics into crime, one cannot avoid the introduction of the differing attitudes of people to crime, to the criminal, to the detection of crime and to the treatment of crime. This is a matter of deep controversy—one which may be reflected in politics, so be it, but one which is a great and dividing controversy.
No one can say that the views of Lady Wootton are the same as those of my right hon. Friend the Member for Monmouth. No one can say that the views of the Lord Chancellor are the same as those of many of my hon. and learned Friends. Of course there are differences between us all. The Home Secretary's responsibilities are limited. All he can do is to tackle the short-term problems of crime. He can be in no doubt of the deep-seated anxiety of every hon. Member of this House—an anxiety which goes far beyond the ordinary responsibilities of hon. Members.
If the right hon. Gentleman is to tackle the short-term problems of crime, he can do so only with the full support of the people and their representatives in this House, some of whom have been notoriously lacking in the support that was given in the past to law enforcement officers. He must provide the leadership from the Home Office and see that there is sufficient allocation of resources and money.
If the right hon. Gentleman had had any real wisdom, he would have had the Chancellor of the Exchequer or at least the Financial Secretary here for this debate to listen to the demand for sufficient allocation of resources to make these fine, noble words of the Home Secretary about fighting crime a reality.
The attitude of the great majority of the people—not the articulate few who write with such skill in certain magazines—is one of real and anxious concern about the present position. There is a feeling of unease among decent, ordinary people. There is a feeling that there has been a drift in recent months into a situation of real danger to many people.
In Washington and New York it is dangerous even in the most respectable residential districts to walk after dark. Such a drift could easily happen here. The right hon. Gentleman illustrated the difference in the situation in Chicago, speaking of the remarkable results that have been achieved there. But those results were achieved because the Chicago police were given adequate resources and strong leadership in the fight against crime.
Our decent, ordinary people have as much compassion as the articulate few. They are concerned that, in this country, we have been tolerating crime and that society is being defied and is being seen to be defied. There is concern that the crimes known to police should total three times the figure in 1938; that there should be 100,000 cases a year of damage to telephone kiosks; that two people were killed and 15 seriously injured because an obstruction was deliberately placed on a railway line; that people should deliberately remove fog warnings on motorways; that violent crime should be 22 times as much as it was in 1938; that the detection rate in London alone has fallen from 50 per cent. in 1938 to 39·6 per cent. in 1964.
At Cambridge, Professor Radzinowics believes that only about 15 per cent. of crimes are brought into the open. Thus, the post-war attitude towards crime and the treatment of the criminal, with the tremendous rise in the volume of crime, leads good, ordinary people to lose any feeling of confidence that they may have had that we have been moving on the right lines in these last years.
If, in another field of national activity, we had consistently over the years pursued a certain policy and attitude and had seen that policy fail increasingly, what would happen? There would be a call for a complete change of policy. Over the past few years, there has been a great change in the criminal pattern which the police have to meet. The Commissioner of Police has written that, shortly after he took office, he detected a different pattern of crime. In that pattern, great crimes have been committed by organised gangs. Gangsters, as the Commissioner has said, have been seen strutting around London, envied and copied by minor criminals. The zoom in crime rates began in 1955. In 1959, the present Lord Chancellor—then Mr. Gerald Gardiner, Q.C.—said, in a letter to The Times, that there should be yet another amnesty for all those with pistols but that any one found thereafter in the possession of a pistol, should, notwithstanding any other offence involved, receive a term of imprisonment of not less than five years.
If Lord Gardiner is of the same opinion now, why has not that suggestion been carried out? The crime position is far worse than it was then. The propensity for carrying guns continues. Why should any person, other than an authorised person such as a Service man or police officer, have a pistol in his possession? Severe penalties, although they might affect some foolish persons keeping souvenirs, are needed if we are to get rid of the great number of guns which are still carried about.
Yet, in this situation, proposals are made that the police, already fighting against such tremendous difficulties, should take on further duties. Fortunately, we have dissuaded the Government from some of them. Do the Government think that they will get the support of the nation and the police if they require the police to stop any motorist and cause him to breathe into a bag at any time, however inconvenient? Do they think that to be psychologically sensible at this time? There must be an order of priority. The right hon. Gentleman must match deeds with words. The police must not be given so much extra to do that they lose their sense of direction. Let us put the priorities first.
We also hear a great deal of public slop and sentiment about those who have committed crime. We hear it about the train robbers. Books have been written about them that seem to try to turn them into some kind of magic, magnificent characters—forgetting the railwayman who has suffered so much ever since the roberry. That attitude has been pandered to by many entertainment makers throughout this country.
In public meetings, sometimes of a legal nature, that I have attended, I have seen how interested people are and how deeply they feel about the crime situation. As my right hon. Friend said, in the old days it was accepted that the poor and starving were often driven to crime because the balance was so weighted against them and in favour of property and the over fed and the privileged. That was also the time when society, because there were no police, imposed brutal punishments to try to maintain what was described as "law and order". Today, the situation is wholly different. Too much emphasis has been put on the idea of not making it clear that society condemns crime and criminals.
The Home Secretary must have in mind two objectives. First, the youth or first offender should be prevented from developing into a recidivist. This is a subject in which I favour, as the right hon. Gentleman does and many of my hon. Friends do, penal experiment. I do not like the expression "penal reform". I never know what "reform" may mean or what "reaction" may mean. They are part of the current cant, a shibboleth, but by all means let there be experiment with these people who should be given all the advantages and opportunities which can possibly be given to them and who may have offended because of weakness, or drink, or personal grief, or despair. They are the people to whom society should give compassion and they are the people for whom society should provide to make sure that they can rehabilitate themselves. They should have probation and hostel training and everything should be devoted to them.
Similarly for the youth, but let the youth have no doubt of the gravity with which society considers the commission of an offence and let him not doubt that society's accusation and society's condemnation must be a grave matter. It cannot just be slid over into some sort of cosy situation or some cosy arrangement among anonymous officers and the family, especially when the offence involves violence. Whatever is done with him thereafter, let him be told that he is brought before the court because of the gravity and seriousness of what he has done.
It is for those reasons that one rejects the idea of a family council. I make no complaint that such an idea should be considered, for suggestions of this kind should be considered, but this idea should be rejected. It is part of the attitude which has developed, an unrealistic and sickly attitude to what is crime. But when there is a violent mentality in a youth, there should be nothing other than society's accusation and condemnation made fiercely and rigorously.
But that is not the major problem. That does not deal with the real criminal, and if we deal with the real criminal, we remove the temptation for others to go into the profession of crime, to drift, or be attracted, or tempted into crime. If we deal with the major criminal, we deal with half the problem.
So much pain and so much misery, as many hon. Members know, come from crime and the commission of crime, not only to the person who is accused and convicted, but to the families who are connected, quite apart from the victims. Crime is now a viable profession and it pays because, as has been pointed out, the risk is such that there is a good chance of success and the penalties are such that they do not deprive the criminal of the loot.
The police must, therefore, receive the support which the right hon. Gentleman gave in his speech today. But he will also need the support of hon. Members opposite who sit below the Gangway and right hon. Members on this side of the House and others. There may be a very few in the police force who offend against the rigorous standards which we must insist that the police should have, but that does not mean that we as the House of Commons should condemn the whole force.
I noted with some anxiety that not long ago, when a man was charged with criminal libel when making an accusation against a police officer about something or other, certain sections of society, some articulate people, immediately presumed that the police officer was guilty of the things of which he had been accused. But when it came to trial the prisoner did not even attempt to justify the wicked accusations which he had made against that police officer. What concerned me was the attitude of certain articulate sections of society who immediately presumed and assumed that the police officer was wrong, and they did not wait to hear the evidence or to see what happened.
If the police are constantly fighting brutality and viciousness, as they have to do, it is not unreasonable that in such a body there may be some who resort to retaliation, but they are very few and it is time that the House of Commons gave the police as a whole the support to which they are entitled. We have to prove that support by giving them increased pay. I appreciate what the right hon. Gentleman has said about the problem of pay, but the rôle of the police cannot be compared with that of probation officers. Of course probation officers are very important, but they do not undergo the same risk of physical injury.
Probation officers are not complained about in the House of Commons and they do not suffer from criticism and they do not run the danger of physical violence. No service is the same in those respects as the police. That is why in the immediate crisis we must put first things first and deal with the pay of the police, even over-generously. That is something which will get us considerable support in the police and I believe that the public would be prepared to pay for it.
Thirdly, I come to equipment. The right hon. Gentleman will have seen the report in the Police Review recently about the position in Lancashire and the combination of the motorised beat and the foot beat system with proper equipment, with radio. He will have seen the figures in Lancashire showing the success of this system when the patrolling officer has a radio in constant touch with the police station so that there is a constant beat through the area. This has reduced crime and thus reduced offences against property and people.
In the pamphlet produced by the committee which he was chairman, my right hon. Friend the Member for Monmouth has suggested the centralisation of the police. I have always been sorry that there is not a regional system of the police, as was proposed in evidence given to the Royal Commission by a committee of which I was chairman. That proposal was rejected. We suggested that, as with military commands, there should be regional zones, south-east, south-west, north-east, north-west.
What impresses me and what I draw to the attention of the House is the acute feeling among police officers who join borough police forces that they wish to remain police officers only within that borough police force, so that they join knowing that they will always have their domestic home in the area and that their children will be educated at particular schools and that they themselves do not stand the risk of being transferred to another part of the county perhaps many miles away. That feeling must be taken into account.
But why should there not also be some centralisation, some centralised command? If there were a centralised command in regions or areas, there could also be specialist services. I am anxious to see what will be the success of the regional crime squads. Will there be conflict between those regional crime squads and the large local forces on matters of informants and so on? All kinds of different conflicts could arise. If we had regional police forces as specialist services, mobile services of C.I.D. or traffic, we would have a sort of static defence force which police officers might join if they wanted to serve in a particular borough, and, like a strategic reserve, mobile forces could move to any areas where they were needed. This would mean a much more centralised command for the police.
In all these problems we have to make sure that the right attitude is held by those who have the direct responsibility. If, as I know he is, the right hon. Gentleman is as interested in these matters as he is in what I regard as some of the fringe problems of his Department, he will make a drive to deal with these problems. He has to show himself to be determined and strong. He has to remove from the Home Office any ideas it may have about what should be the proper liberty of the subject. It is right to believe that it knows far more than most about the effect which prison may have on a man and whether he should be allowed out of prison, but it has to take into account what the public sees and hears in court when a person has committed an offence. We have to remember that the public is constantly threatened, that children and families or houses may suffer from depredation on the next occasion that an offence is committed.
If one is going to deal with this problem one has to stand by the court which, in the name of society, commits a man to serve a particular punishment. One has to see that it is only with the approval of that court, or the judiciary, that there is subsequently a release from well-deserved imprisonment.
I have suggested that one of the real needs is to get at the booty of persons who have been convicted. At present this is a difficult task. It may be possible to achieve this if one adopts a system whereby a person, who has been sentenced to several years' imprisonment, is released before the expiry of that term but on the condition that he is entered on a register and may not acquire possessions without registering their acquisition; that he may not own a motor car or use a motor car unless he states how he got it, whether from earnings or as a gift. The whole position is illustrated by a person serving a very long sentence who knows that at the end of it he will be able to get the reward of his crime and no one can touch him. We must see that society can touch him, unless we want to permit the present position which allows such a person, absolutely and utterly, to defy society.
I believe that one can make crime not pay by making a person, who has been convicted of say, a bullion robbery, subject to a period of supervision and allowing the length of sentence to be cut down. If such a person moved to a different house or acquired a possession he would have to give an explanation. It is not beyond the wit of our society to devise such a system.
There is a real need for robustness. I do not mean an unthinking brutal approach to people who commit crime. There are people who fall into crime through weakness, despair and grief, and they are those to whom compassion should be extended. But there must be a firm and determined attitude toward those who are deliberately defying our society. This is a responsibility resting upon the right hon. Gentleman and it is one which, in the view of myself and some of my hon. and right hon. Friends, has not been exercised sufficiently robustly in the immediate past.
It would be very difficult to disagree with most of the remarks of the last speaker, the right hon. and learned Member for Epsom (Sir P. Rawlinson). My own feelings correspond very largely to the tone which has been set by previous speakers this afternoon. There have been years during which it has been necessary to campaign vigorously for penal reform. I can remember many years ago—more than I would now care to mention—joining the Howard League and being most impressed by its studies on the subject of criminology and penology. These have been very valuable contributions to the subject about which we are now talking.
Although we want, on the one hand, to be generous, kind and humane, we must, on the other, be firm and strong. We cannot hope for any very dramatic advance under one Minister of State or another just because we talk and ask for action. The cause of crime and the measures one might take to reform criminals is a very difficult matter indeed. These are new sciences about which we can have no exactitude. I have my own feelings upon the subject, and I have clashed with many other people. I hold very strongly that there is at least as large an element of heredity in the character defects which criminals portray as there is of environment.
The effects of the flourishing society of today are beginning to bear me out. I recall my early childhood, and a brother who was extremely troublesome among two other children who gave no trouble at all, who told the truth, who were afraid of the other child, who did not know how to tell the truth, who could not keep his hands off anything and who was so weak that he was always being led astray by companions. This was one family with the same environment and the same influences yet with one child so different from the other two.
I can recall many children whom I have known extremely well, children who started life so badly that from the earliest age one could have been sure that they would grow up to be criminals. I have known such a child go that way until he reached the age of about 18, and then from 18 to 30 go through such hardships and difficulties in connection with the war that he returned a reliable citizen. I have known another child begin a gracious, beautiful childhood in which I was able to say that her parents would spoil her if they could, but I did not think that they would be able to do so, and then have seen the child at about 8 years develop the most extraordinary tendencies, of which no one would have believed she was capable. Knowing her heredity I was not too surprised when this happened.
The incidence of recorded juvenile delinquency, though larger today than it was, is still of a very minor character. It is so much so that I doubt whether most of the kindly people who act as juvenile magistrates have ever, in their own family, had any experience of a child with real character defects, a child who is difficult to control with ordinary firmness and humanity. It is so rare an experience for a parent that he or she does not appreciate the immensity of the task of controlling and bringing up such children.
I mention this to illustrate the difficulty of the subject, not to be controversial, because like my right hon. Friend I believe that this is a subject unworthy of controversy. It is worthy of the greatest disputation and consideration, but not of controversy. Further remarks that I shall make will be few and they will be directed mainly to the Government's White Paper on "The Child, The Family and The Young Offender", which I am very happy to welcome.
A long association with the juvenile courts has made me unsparing of admiration for the magistrates in the London area, with their very high standards and devotion to the interests of the children who appear before them. It cannot be overestimated. Yet, during all the years that I have sat in the courts, I have been conscious of certain factors which have circumscribed their work and my work in trying to reclaim young offenders. I should like to list them.
First, the early acquaintance with the majesty of the law, which can breed such familiarity with it, militates against the fear and respect for it which youngsters should have. At the same time, there is the risk of a child acquiring the stigma which is referred to in the White Paper which is not easily shifted in later life. Secondly, there are the limitations on the treatment which one can prescribe in the juvenile courts. This leads almost inevitably to knowledge among children and parents that it is not until several offences have been committed that it is likely that drastic action will be taken. I have to advise constituents when parents turn to me, as they do to my fellow Members. Magistrates find themselves in a real dilemma in deciding how to deal with cases and what action to take for the best since there are so few courses which can be taken.
Another factor which struck me years ago and which I have always thought was very important is this. In a court there is a need to observe the rules of evidence. From my acquaintance with the way in which they work, the observation of these rules does not always arrive at the truth. I have mentioned the rule that a child can choose whether to give evidence on oath. He does not realise, and his parents do not realise, that if he elects not to give evidence this will preclude him from being carefully questioned by the magistrates, who want to get at the truth. The magistrates find themselves completely stymied if a child elects to take this course. They want to learn the truth of the matter. It is in the child's interest that the truth should come out and not that he should be in a position to avoid giving it.
My experience tells me that the prosecution's case nearly always rests on the child's admission of his guilt. Often the prosecution does not have other evidence with which to convict the child. On a number of occasions, when half a dozen or more children have been accused of the same crime, the little ones have pleaded guilty and the older, more knowledgeable and wary ones have pleaded not guilty. It has been impossible to prove the guilt of those who pleaded not guilty because there was not sufficient evidence.
But the court could not overlook the fact that the younger ones had pleaded guilty and, therefore, it had to treat the offenders quite differently, although the older ones were obviously more guilty than the younger ones. It had to release the older ones and deal with the younger ones. This gives rise to a feeling of frustration in the court. But what it must do to parents I can only guess. This is not a good thing from the point of view of the parental attitude towards the courts.
Another disadvantage is the difficulty of getting the parents' co-operation in dealing with the child for the welfare of the child once the law has been set in operation. They are either frightened for their child or resentful, especially when they know that their child has been caught and that the others have escaped. This is particularly the case when the only communication which members of the bench can have with the parents, apart from the few minutes that they are seen in court, is through the probation officers and their written reports.
I regard two things as pre-eminently essential for dealing with the young offender: first, to ascertain the truth both as to the commission of the offence and the offender's associates in the commission of the offence; and, secondly, to ensure that there is parental co-operation. Youngsters must know that their offences cannot be hidden and parents should feel that it is in their child's interest to face the truth and to enlist every aid possible to help the child.
I turn to another facet of my experience which I think should encourage the Government to persevere with their plans for a family service. Since the war, the education service has developed, under powers given to it in the Education Act, 1944, a network of schools, both day and residential, for maladjusted children. These are conducted in London on completely voluntary lines. Rarely is a parent known to refuse the opportunity which such schools provide to help their children. The children in these schools have behaviour difficulties which are normally noted by the schools or reported by the parents—the very children who might come before a court. The whole object of the service for maladjusted children is to keep those children from coming before the courts.
There has been built up a service which is gaining a great deal of experience in co-operation with the parents in getting their interest in small schools. I agree with the desirability of comprehensive schools in another connection. In these small schools, members of the staff are able to contact the parents. The parents visit regularly. The children go home at weekends and on holiday. In other words, they are boarding schools with very special staff. They are costly, but they are helping to prevent children from coming before the courts.
On occasion, the courts find a way out of sending children to approved schools. When I was a member of the bench we did everything that we could to stop a child going to approved school. If we could get him deemed to be maladjusted and to send him to a small boarding school for maladjusted children we were pleased to do so because we felt that we were doing something for the child and that the child's needs would be studied. The help of psychiatric teams is enlisted and is valuable. Sensible use is made of them. Incidentally, I have felt strongly for a long time that any psychiatrist who seeks to give advice on how to treat a maladjusted child should have had a period—six months or a year—in a school and should have helped to deal with the children. This is the difficult task. Advice can be given freely, and one tries to carry it out with these children. I know many heads of the schools and I know exactly what a hard life theirs is.
However, I am talking about this subject because I want to show the House that there is nothing wrong in the Government suggesting that children of this type should be dealt with by the ordinary local authority services and should not have to run the gauntlet of the law at an early age. I am talking about it, too, because I want to show that a great body of experience is being built up about how to handle these children, about what is in their brains, their make-up, and so on, all of which is extremely valuable and ought in my view to be brought together somehow in the kind of way suggested in the White Paper.
The ideas thrown out in the White Paper have my thorough approval. As I have said, however, I do not hope for miracles—I know too much about it—but we have to go on the right lines, and I feel that these are the right lines.
I am particularly pleased by the suggestion that the approved schools should be a part of the system which is to provide the family service to try to train decent young citizens. The approved schools suffer from certain things. Normally, a child does not go to an approved school because his parents want him to go. The right hon. Member for Monmouth (Mr. Thorneycroft) talked about children being free and not deprived of their liberty, but I often wonder how many of those young gentlemen who went to Eton really wanted to go. I gather from television interviews that quite a lot of them did not. I am sure that nobody can think too much about what kind of liberty a child wants for itself at a tender age.
The idea is to dispel from the child and the parents any thought that a young and difficult child is being sent away, removed from his parents or deprived of his liberty. He is merely being sent to a boarding school, like many another middle-class young gentleman or lady. This is something which we are getting in the schools for the maladjusted, and I am certain that we will get more of it. The approved schools have always suffered from this.
Many a time when I have come home, my husband has said to me, "What have you been doing today? How many of them have you sent to their doom?" Sometimes I could say, "Thank goodness, none." Another time, I had to say that a mother was prostrate before us in the court at hearing the decision of the magistrates, but that we had no alternative because the child had been backwards and forwards to the court and there was nothing else we could do. These are distressing things for magistrates.
Some of the approved schools are fairly large units with quite a number of children who can contaminate others. Then, there are quite a number of decent little children who have been led astray and I do not think that they should ever have been brought before the courts at all.
I believe very much in the general decency of people and children, but I know that children have to be trained. If parents are not careful, and if they treat their children as if they are grownups before they have had a chance of being trained, they are running the risk of their running amok later on when they find associates who are stronger than themselves and who do not attach the same importance as they do to the social values. Parents will have to do a great deal of pulling up their socks and a great deal of rethinking.
I remember my mother saying to me, "You will never have the kind of treatment that we received", by which she meant the use of slippers and the like which were applied when children did not do exactly as they were told. I never felt anybody's hand upon me. When I was 10 and my mother lifted her hand to strike me, I said, "How dare you", and she always told everybody that, after that, she could not.
We know that there has been a kind of revolution against the strict control of children. The majority of children are reasonable creatures and can be brought up accordingly, but, unfortunately, one does not know which are the right ones to treat in a reasonable way. That is a matter of difficulty for us all. Parents must, however, be sure that children take notice of them. It is better for them to be a little firmer in the interests of the children themselves and of society.
I do not care for change for change's sake. I have shown that often enough. I did not care at all for the abolition of the London County Council. I do not believe in miracles. I have become too long in the tooth to believe in them nowadays. I do, however, believe in operations that are necessary, as I think that this one is, being very carefully timed so that the new responsibilities do not fall on overburdened shoulders. I assure my right hon. Friend the Minister of State that, much though I support her, I shall not disapprove if the Government feel that they must move fairly slowly in the direction that I feel to be so essential.
Towards the end of his speech the Home Secretary referred to the mounting crime figures. All of us, on both sides, accept that not only has crime become a serious social problem, but that it is of great concern to the average person. I am told that recent Gallup polls show that it is a subject about which people feel more concerned than on any other subject.
What we must attempt to do is to try, as the hon. Lady the Member for Peckham (Mrs. Corbet) said at the beginning of her speech, to find means of eradicating the causes of crime. I think that everyone would agree, however, that of necessity that is bound to be a long programme. What the people who are concerned with the crime figures want to know is what can be done in the short term and what lead the Government are giving in the fight against crime.
Because many hon. Members are anxious to speak in the debate, I propose to limit myself to merely two aspects of the subject: first, what can be done to assist the police at the present time, and secondly, what I still consider, with respect to the hon. Lady the Member for Peckham, to be the wholly ill-conceived and ill-thought-out proposals concerning young offenders as set out in the recent White Paper.
As to what can be done at the moment in assisting the police, I think that everyone would accept the remark made by the Home Secretary that whether punishment is tough or soft, the real deterrent to crime is the likelihood of arrest and conviction. It is an old statement, but it is still true, that people do not commit a crime with a policeman standing at their shoulder.
The really serious matter in the present crime figures is not only the vast increase which has occurred in recent years, but the fact, at the same time, there has been a fall in the rate of detection. I appreciate the point which the Home Secretary made on this matter, that when we talk of a percentage figure it is a percentage of an increasing overall amount, but the fact remains that today in the country as a whole the detection rate has dropped for the first time ever to below 40 per cent., and if one concentrates purely on the figures for the metropolitan area of this City alone one finds that in 1964 the figures for the rate of detection dropped to 21·6 per cent. in the Metropolitan Police area.
Quite frankly, that means simply that four out of every five offenders are getting away undetected, and I believe that the height of this figure is in itself a grave cause of the increase in crime.
What are we going to do about it? I suggest that the first thing we have to do is to increase the number of the police. Some people have said that we are 10,000 short, some have said we are 20,000 short; the Home Secretary today, I think, gave the figure as 18,000. If to increase the number of police means we have to increase the pay of the police, then we must increase that pay.
I fully accept, as the Home Secretary said, that the shortage in the police figures today is not solely a question of pay. If one looks at the figures one sees that the disturbing fact is that of people who join and then in the fairly early years depart into other work. They do not necessarily achieve better salaries than those they got in the police force. I accept that it is mainly a question of the conditions but, unfortunately, like so many things, this is really a vicious circle, because we shall not improve the condiditions, the conditions about which the police complain, which is the amount of night duty work which they have to do, the number of weekend duties which they have to do, unless we increase the numbers.
Regrettably, we shall not increase the numbers unless we can entice more men into the police force and the most likely way of achieving that is by improving the rate of pay. Therefore, I suggest to the Minister of State, who is here, that if we are to need, as a means of increasing the number of police, to put up the pay of the police, the cost of that to the nation is minimal compared with the cost of crime at the moment.
The second thing we have to do, I believe, is to increase the efficiency of the police and particularly the efficient use of the time of the existing members of the police force. I shall be very brief about the efficiency of the police as the Home Secretary, of course, has already dealt with this at some length, but I personally believe that the great trouble today is that we still have far too many police forces in this country.
I interrupted the Home Secretary to point out, when he referred to the amalgamation in the West Midlands, a similar amalgamation in the Manchester area. Perhaps I should say in the Lancashire area and the Manchester conurbation, in case I may offend the susceptibilities of people living in the area surrounding Manchester either in Cheshire or Lancashire. But the recommendation which has been put forward by the Special Review Area is that there should be one police force for this contiguous area. What has been the attitude of the Minister of Housing and Local Government to that Review Area Report? Frankly, he is merely ditching the Report, and what worries me is that, in ditching the Report, he may be ditching also the sensible, serious suggestion of amalgamating the police forces in that area.
If we are to do that we have to look further. If we are to amalgamate the police forces in the area of the Manchester conurbation, as has been proposed, I suggest to the Minister of State that the next thing we must do is to look at the rest of Lancashire and amalgamate the police forces in the rest of Lancashire into one Lancashire police force. We cannot, in this day and age, fight the war against crime when in Lancashire alone we have 17 separate police forces. That leads to inefficiency; it leads to additional expense; and I believe that it reduces the effectiveness of the battle against crime.
The next point I would put to the Minister of State as a means which is essential in the short term is to improve the modern methods of detection available to the police. Again, the Home Secretary said something about this. I wish again to concentrate my remarks on what I have seen for myself happening in the Lancashire area. I would remind this House that in Liverpool, for example, the figures for 1965, I understand, will disclose not only a fairly substantial reduction in crime but at the same time a rise in the percentage detection rate.
What has happened in Liverpool over that time? There closed circuit television has been installed as a means in the fight against crime. If we look at other parts of the north-west area we find, in the Burnley police force area, a reduction in the amount of crime and, of course, an improvement in the detection figures, because in that area—pioneered by the Lancashire county police force—they now have working a two-way personal radio system for the policeman on the beat—which I believe is the biggest breakthrough in crime detection which has been achieved.
I believe that the Home Office at the moment is not giving adequate leadership, adequate guidance, adequate drive to other police forces to take over these methods of detection of crime. I asked a Question of the Home Secretary last Thursday, and the Answer I got said that at the moment 23 out of 120 police forces were using personal radio. It should not be 23. It should be as nearly as possible the whole of the 120; certainly it should be over 100, and the Home Office should be persuading chief constables to take up these schemes, and it should be providing sets, and it should be pressing on with this at the greatest possible speed.
I hope that my hon. Friend is not suggesting that chief constables and other senior police officers are slow in wanting these new techniques and aids? The difficulty is in getting the equipment.
I am most grateful to my hon. Friend for his interruption, in case I gave that impression. I am not suggesting that chief constables are slow in taking up these means. What I am saying is that there should be a department of the Home Office through which modern means of detection of crime and information can be disseminated throughout the police forces and encouragement given to the provision of equipment—from the Home Office itself.
The final point I want to make on the question of the efficiency of the police was mentioned by my right hon. Friend. I ask the Minister of State to look with care and interest at the figures of the experiment at Kirby, on the outskirts of Liverpool, and the dramatic drop in crime achieved in that area, referred to by Colonel St. Johnston, the Chief Constable of Lancashire, in an article written in The Times on 26th January this year.
But I leave that and turn to the other side of this matter, and that is the efficient use of police time. I believe that far too much time is being taken up by policemen in doing jobs which could be adequately done by other people, whether it is on secretarial work or in controlling of traffic.
Above all, I believe that a great deal of time is being wasted by police officers in unnecessary attendance at court today. I ask the Home Secretary to look with urgency at the possibility of expanding the area in which fines or a ticket basis can be imposed for offences, rather than a policeman always having to go to court, and with all humility I invite the Minister of State to look at a document which may shortly be in her hands inviting her to consider the present procedure of committal proceedings, and the waste of time they impose on the police.
What, above all, we have to do is to obtain a change in the attitude of the public to the police. We have to foster good relations, rather than foster antagonism. I notice that the Government's Amendment to the Motion speaks of our warmly supporting the efforts of the police. What expression of support has been shown during the last 12 months? The only expression that I have seen is the publication by the Home Office of a pamphlet telling people how to complain against the police. Nowhere in that pamphlet is any acknowledgment made of the difficult work done by the police, and nowhere is there any acknowledgment made of the fact that the vast majority of complaints are found to be wholly trivial and unsubstantiated. In every police force today we find that the time of senior police officers is taken up inquiring into complaints against the police made by members of the public, 85 per cent., of which are found to be wholly unsubstantiated on inquiry.
In the Sunday Telegraph last week I saw that the Metropolitan Police are trying to appoint 22 additional detective chief inspectors whose whole time will be involved solely in inquiring into complaints by the public against the police. Nothing could have been more ill-conceived and worse timed than for the Home Office in that sort of atmosphere to bring out a pamphlet of the type that it did.
Like the right hon. and learned Member for Epsom (Sir P. Rawlinson), I believe that we have a duty in the House to set the standard and to remember that we should ourselves encourage co-operation with the police, rather than encourage criticism of the police—a thing which is very easy to do. It is easy to seek headlines and publicity in that manner.
The proposals of the Government are in danger of antagonising and making worse the relationships between the public and the police. The unenforceable imposition of a 70 m.p.h. speed limit causes resentment among the motoring public. The intention to create random spot checking of motorists for alcohol is wholly undesirable and will be the greatest single cause of increasing antagonism between the public and the police at the present time. I beseech the Home Office to consider ways of improving relationships, rather than pursuing policies which exacerbate the difficulties.
I turn now to the aspect dealt with in the White Paper, which is the intention to abolish the juvenile courts and set up a family council. I bitterly regret the proposal, because I feel that it is full of the most dangerous ideas. Last Thursday in the House, when replying to Questions, the Minister of State took exception to some of the words that I used about the document and to the comments that had been made to her about it.
I still believe that the idea of a family council with some unhappy bargaining between welfare officers on the one side and parents on the other by which the future of children is to be decided is a real threat to the liberty of the child. The threat in the background of recourse to a family court will mean that on many occasions without any public knowledge of the fact, children will have their lives decided for them in a manner which is wholly unsatisfactory.
Although the Minister of State tells me that it is not right to say that the White Paper has few friends and many enemies, I do not think that she will dispute that it is entirely opposed by the Magistrates' Association, by the National Association of Probation Officers and by the Residential Child Care Association. The Minister of State shakes her head, but I have a pamphlet in my possesion in which those bodies express their grave exception to the proposal in the White Paper to set up family councils.
I hope that the hon. Lady will have had an opportunity already to look at the very thoughtful paper presented to her as being the unanimous view of all the magistrates for the City of Manchester, which is one of opposition to the proposal.
To empower a body sitting in private to agree with the consent of parents to send a child away to what is the equivalent of a detention centre, a long-term residential training establishment or an approved school is a fundamental change in our legal procedure and one which the House should not accept. It is all very well for the hon. Lady to say that it is not punishment. To children sent to a detention centre or a long-term residential training school it will seem to be and will be punishment, and punishment in which their parents have concurred. On going there, children will feel that they have been rejected by their parents, as well as being sent there by an outside body.
The unhappy bargaining between the family council and parents, with the threat of the family court in the background will mean that many of the types of parents whose children find themselves in that position will have tremendous pressure placed upon them to persuade their children first of all to agree that they did what is being suggested they did, and also to agree on what is being proposed by the welfare officer as being the best thing for their future. The parents will fear what will happen in the family court if they do not agree, and they fear that they may be the subject of publicity if they go to the family court.
In cases of that nature, the children themselves need the safeguard of a judicial process before they are removed from their home surroundings and put into a custodial establishment.
I noticed the Minister of State nodding during the speech of the hon. Member for Peckham. She may say, and I accept it, that if it is possible to deal with offending children without taking them to the courts, that is a good thing. I am a strong supporter of the police juvenile liaison scheme, but the Minister of State must appreciate that that scheme and the proposals in the White Paper have one fundamental difference. If the parents do not agree with the police that rather than their child being taken to court they should allow the police to supervise him, no one has any power to do anything which is punishment of the child without going through the judicial process. Under the present proposals, children can be punished by being removed from their homes without a judicial process intervening, and it is to that which I, for one, take strong exception.
I do not believe that the Minister of State appreciates the attitude of the parents themselves. She is wholly mis- guiding herself if she thinks that agreements will be easily arrived at which are genuine agreements on both sides rather than because of the threat of going to the family court as the alternative.
The White Paper will create great delay if we are to have a system whereby a child first goes to the family council where he must agree that he committed the offence and, if not, he goes to the family court, the court then decides on the guilt of the child, he is then shuffled back to the family council to see if agreement can be reached on what is to be the penalty. If agreement cannot be reached, the child is again sent to the family court where the penalty is fixed. In other words, the child goes first to the family council, then to the family court, back to the family council and then again to the family court. I believe that the delay that it will cause is again a grave objection to the White Paper.
The advocates of the White Paper wholly underestimate the good that is done by our juvenile courts. They wholly underestimate the amount of time taken in obtaining reports from probation officers and people of that kind before deciding on the future of a child.
One other point about the White Paper which has not yet been touched upon is its proposals with regard to children from 16 to 21. The Government propose to set up a vast new system of courts for dealing with those children. Nowhere in this White Paper is the case made for those courts. Why does one need a wholly separate type of court to deal with people of this age? My experience—and I believe the experience of many hon. Members who spend part of their time in the criminal courts—is that the courts of quarter session and magistrates' courts are as capable of, and as suitable for, dealing with young criminals of 19 or 20, as they are for dealing with people of 21 or 22, and from reading the White Paper one gets the impression that somewhere in the background there is some form of woolly sentimentality running through the thinking on this subject.
I believe that a healthy regard for the courts is a thoroughly good thing to instil in a person of 19 or 20 who is regularly committing criminal offences. I accept, as the White Paper says, that when passing sentence on a person under 21 the court should be required to have regard to his welfare. Any court should always have regard to the welfare of a person of any age, but that is not the only issue. There are other aims of inflicting punishment. The expression of abhorrence by society is one, the deterrent to others is another, and I think that the White Paper is mistaken when, in dealing with the principle of sentencing, it refers only to the welfare of the person concerned.
I believe that the White Paper is ill-conceived and ill-thought-out. I was slightly disappointed by the opening remarks of the Home Secretary when he implied that in some way the Motion suggested that the opposition were attempting to say that the crime wave was the fault of the Government. I did not read the Motion in that way, nor did I take the speech of my right hon. Friend the Member for Monmouth (Mr. Thomeycroft) to do so. I think that the Motion says that the matters contained in the White Paper on juvenile courts, and the matters contained in the White Paper on adult offenders, and on the release of prisoners without reference to a judicial body are matters of principle on which one is entitled to say that one strongly opposes the Government.
I welcome the vast majority of what the Home Secretary said about the fight against crime, but on these two issues, and on what I believe is the failure by the Government to encourage good relationships between the public and the police, and, indeed, on what I believe is the effect of their policy, the Opposition are entitled to say that they oppose the Government.
The only deplorable thing about this debate is the Motion which initiated it. I agree with the greater part of the speech of the hon. Member for Runcorn (Mr. Carlisle). Indeed, he said some of the things which I intended to say. The hon. Gentleman is entitled to say that the Opposition should express their strong opposition to what the Government have, and have not, done, and I suppose he is entitled to say that this can be done by way of a Motion of censure, as is the case here. But he may, on reflection, feel that if the best is to be obtained from a debate of this kind on an issue about which hon. Members on both sides are concerned, and about which they have strongly held, sensible, and deeply thought out views, it would have been better if the Motion had been put down in a form which invited the House generally to make its comments on the present situation, the present problems of crime, and so on, rather than to sit in judgment on what has or has not been done by a Government who, compared with the previous Government, have been in power for a relatively short time, and, whatever their faults, are making an effort to deal with the problem in a way which the previous Government did not, or at any rate did not succeed in doing.
I said at the beginning that I found myself in almost entire agreement with the hon. Member for Runcorn, as, indeed, I have done with most of the speeches so far. I did not altogether agree with the hon. Gentleman's strictures on the White Paper on juvenile delinquency, but perhaps my right hon. Friend will not take it amiss if, having told him in private, and I repeat it in public, that we expect great things of him in his present office, and congratulating him on his appointment, I say that I think a number of hon. Members on this side of the House regard the White Paper on juvenile delinquency and the family courts as not wholly bad, as has been suggested from the benches opposite, but believe that the Government would be well advised to consider the criticisms which have been made of it, particularly by magistrates and probation officers.
I say that because I believe that almost any form of tribunal will serve the interests of children. Whether it be a magistrates' court, or a family court, the anxiety of those who sit on it is the wellbeing of the child, and it is a pity to destroy one method before all the methods which are available have not been sufficiently tried. The existing methods of dealing with juvenile delinquency have not been exhausted, nor has the Children and Young Persons Act achieved its full capacity. This is not because of the failure of the intention behind them, but of the personnel, and if the problem arises under those Acts almost the same problem will be met by the family courts.
There are three matters to which I should like to draw the attention of my right hon. Friend. The first of them has been exhaustively dealt with by hon. Members who have preceded me. I am referring here to the waste of manpower. If it is true, and it is, that we are desperately short of police, it is exceedingly short-sighted of the Government deliberately to waste the police manpower that we have. Too much time and energy is spent by the police on traffic control, on prosecuting traffic offences, and on spending long periods in court dealing with traffic offences which could more easily be done by other civilians. After all, a policeman is only a civilian who has been given special training and authority. Any other civilian given proper training, and under proper authority, would be equally competent to serve as a traffic officer and thus release police officers for their proper business of dealing with crime.
It might be of considerable advantage if the police were no longer responsible for non-criminal traffic offences and their prosecution, because my experience is that there 13 probably no greater single reason for the loss of confidence in the police on the part of ordinary citizens than the feeling that they are harried by police officers for trivial traffic offences.
If that is so, it seems to me that one radical approach to the problem of police manpower is to appoint people as traffic police, or to retain police officers who retire too young. I think that we should retain police officers who have become too old for criminal duties and the physical exertion of pursuing criminals and use them for road control and traffic duties, and possibly also for sedentary office duties which young people resent having to do. Whether or not the increase in police manpower which would follow would make any material difference to the war on crime would then depend on the use that would be made of the men who had newly been made available.
I underline the suggestions already made that we should have more police in fast cars equipped with two-way radios and with dogs, and that we should use closed circuit television, as used in Liverpool. That would do a great deal more to defeat criminals than having many more men on foot in the large towns where most crime is committed. Mobile police squads in properly organised forces, with power to act independently of the local constabulary, would do a great deal to overcome the present disability from which the police suffer, as against the criminals, who do not have to pay regard to the local police authority frontiers.
In a speech made about a year ago I committed myself to the doctrine that the time had come if not for a national police force at least for greatly strengthened regional police forces in a few large centres, with proper and thoroughly up-to-date equipment, including, perhaps, a couple of computers. The fact that these have been greatly neglected in our fight against crime is evidence of the poverty of imagination with which the battle against crime has been fought for a long time. Nobody but the criminal finds the present police set-up profitable. In my experience, most modern criminologists find it wasteful, frustrating and inefficient.
Catching the crook is only part of crime prevention. There are two other points on which I want to comment and which relate, first, to the conviction of criminals once caught, and, secondly, to their detention, punishment and treatment.
For a long time we have followed the doctrine of committal proceedings. The time may have come when the investigatory system followed on the Continent will yield more profitable results in the attack against crime than our very formalised and stylised system, which gives criminals a considerable advantage. Much of my professional career has been spent in crime. I am one of the people whom crime has paid. In my experience, many people who, at committal proceedings, have absolutely no answer to the charges laid against them, have a perfectly worked-out defence by the time they appear at quarter sessions or assizes, largely on the strength of the information given at the earlier committal proceedings.
I do not want to prejudge issues of this kind, but in my opinion the adoption of an investigatory procedure similar to that which is operated on the Continent may have many advantages over our stylised and formalised committal proceedings.
Mr. Emlyn Hanson:
I agree that we should do away with committal proceedings, except in cases where the defence requests them, but the defence must be entitled to see all the statements and all the evidence brought against the defendant. There may be good reasons for abolishing committal proceedings, but the one advanced by the hon. and learned Member is not a good one.
The hon. and learned Member is entitled to his point of view. In my view, justice would be better served if we had an inquisitionary procedure similar to that which operates on the Continent. This would give the defence the same opportunity of knowing precisely what case was being laid against it. It often happens that the stylised process of the procedure followed in committal proceedings here affords the criminal—especially the experienced criminal—an opportunity of making up his defence.
In many ways perhaps the most important of the disadvantages from which we suffer in dealing with criminals is that although, in theory, we are committed to the doctrine that the object of all sentences is not only to prevent crime, but also to encourage those who have been sentenced to live a good and useful life, in practice nothing has been more unsuccessful than our penal system. Too many people are sentenced to terms of imprisonment for offences which do not involve dishonesty or personal violence. It is completely illogical to commit people to prison for driving offences and for failing to observe statutory rules. The punishment appropriate to driving offences which do not involve a criminal element is not prison. In the same way the failure to observe statutory rules does not merit a prison sentence; it should be dealt with by way of a heavy fine or some other form of restitution. In the case of driving offences not including a criminal element there should he a forfeiture of the licence of a person who cannot or will not drive properly.
The other aspect of the same matter which reveals the failure of our real social responsibility in punishing people arises when magistrates and judges commit people to prison either for very short or very long sentences. The effect of sending people to prison for very short sentences is, at one and the same time, to crowd our prisons and to create personal and social problems for the sentenced persons and for their families. Such sentences serve no useful purpose for society or for the persons so sentenced.
Our prisons are so overcrowded by people who are serving short sentences that it is virtually impossible properly to deal with people who are serving long sentences. If we were to remove from our prisons those people who are serving sentences of six months or less we would discover that at any one time between 15,000 and 20,000 of our 40,000 prisoners would be released. This would enable those in charge of our prisons to deal more properly with, have more concern about, and provide more effective treatment for, those who are recidivists, who constitute our real problem.
If this is too radical a proposal I invite the Home Secretary, nevertheless, to give it his attention. If a crime does not deserve at least six months' imprisonment it does not merit an immediate loss of a man's liberty. All sorts of alternatives could be introduced. In some cases fines would be appropriate, and in others, restitution. Short-term detention may sometimes be appropriate, in places other than prisons, where the persons concerned can be separated from long-term, professional prisoners, who can teach them a great deal about crime. Yet again, in some cases we might follow the practice, adopted in other countries, of bringing people into detention centres during the weekends, at the same time making it possible for them to make restitution.
There is no reason why Britain should not follow the lead of most civilised countries and introduce, for people who commit crimes for the first time, or who continually commit petty crimes, a system of suspended or deferred sentences. The fact of detention, and the possibility of detention if they were ever caught again, would be much more effective than any short-term centence could be. That would remove the majority of people who are now serving short-term sentences. By removing them and the cost of their maintenance the prison service would be better able to give time and energy in attending to the long-term prisoners who are the hard core of our criminal population, and who constitute the real challenge to society in all senses of that word.
I apologise for intruding myself into this debate. I shall not be long, I hope. My one title to speak is as a constituency Member. But the story I have to tell—my speech will be largely a narrative—is so illustrative of the great matters which we have been discussing and so pregnant with danger to us all that I think that I may be forgiven if I tell it.
In his powerful peroration, the Home Secretary expressed his determination that ordinary people in this country should live safely, more safely than they do now. This narrative concerns an ordinary person. He lives not much more than a mile and a half from here, near Marble Arch, with his wife and his baby of two years old in a little flat. He seems to me to be a responsible man. He has been selected to represent the residents' association of the block of flats in which he lives, an association which he played a considerable part in forming. That association was formed because of the activities of a club which occupies the premises under the block of flats. It is called by the name of a sporting club. That is to say, it is a gambling club.
I noted what the Joint Under-Secretary has said about gambling clubs the other day. I wish to express no judgment on this matter. All I say is that anyone with any experience of these things knows that there are special dangers associated with these clubs. They are apt to be a nuisance and to attract undesirable people in and about them. If they are to be carried on, this must be done by people with wide experience of handling such clubs and by identifiable management which acts responsibly and can be made responsible. Since I have been the hon. Member for my present constituency, a gathering number of complaints has been accumulating about the activities of this club.
It began only with nuisance of noise extending into the early hours of the morning, violence attending motor cars and, finally, towards Christmas of last year, a more specific complaint of threats against the residents of the flats when- ever they managed to make a complaint about the noise and the nuisance to which they were subjected. That is what was going on. In one case, it was accepted that one of the threats of violence was by a member of the staff of the club. In other cases it was by members of the club itself. Tyre slashing took place and there were threats of violence to the person.
In due course, when these complaints accumulated, I advised the residents of the block to oppose the management of the club when they applied to the licensing authority for the renewal of their licence for dancing and music. Two or three days before that opposition was made public and the hearing took place, the telephone bell rang in the flat of my constituent. A voice, evidently belonging to someone who knew the size of his family, said that, if he cared for the future of his wife and child—a baby of two—he would not continue his objection to the licence of this club, and that, if he did continue it, he must take the consequences. He was advised to warn his friends to take a similar line of conduct in relation to their objection to the licence.
My constituent ignored that advice, but he has since been living in a state of siege. His wife is not strong and he himself is a coronary case and has been warned to avoid anxiety or too much exertion. He has had a coronary attack during the last three days. At the hearing, at which the renewal of the licence was refused, of the six members of the residents' association who gave evidence, four complained that they had been intimidated and, in each case, the threat related precisely to their continuing with their objection to the renewal of the licence. One said that the threat had been to throw her downstairs into the cellar and another said that it was to split his head open. There were also other complaints.
Just before Christmas—some weeks before the events which I have described—my constituent had visited a gentleman who claimed to have something to do with the management of the club. It had been rather difficult to discover who had anything to do with the club's management. The actual licensee was not readily available and complainants were apt to be passed from hand to hand. This gentleman is described as an antique dealer and an American citizen. He gave my constituent to understand that he was going about with an escort armed with a firearm and that he had three other "strong-arm" people in attendance—not policemen.
Of course, the natural effect on my constituent was to make him take very seriously indeed the possibility that violence might be used against him. After the refusal of the renewal of the music and dancing licence, the question of the liquor licence, of course, remained. The residents' association gave it to be understood that when the liquor licence came up for consideration—as it will do in a few weeks—they intended to oppose the renewal of that as well. Again, I express no opinion. This will be a matter for the licensing justices. However, what happened next was a remarkable set of events.
Two police officers called at the flat of my constituent and were there for two and three quarter hours that is to say, from 9 p.m. to 11.45 p.m., according to the information which he has given me. They left him very far from reassured. They gave him a lot of information about the management: I do not understand the reason for this. They said that if he pursued his objection to the liquor licence, they would not guarantee his safety and advised him to change his residence.
I must say that this is a somewhat surprising event to take place—as my constituent assures me it did—that police officers, instead of telling him to resist crime, should tell him to deal with it in that way. I do not want to speculate on their motives—I understand that their conduct is under investigation—but he was later called upon, two or three days ago, by a senior police officer. My constituent tells me that, after he made this statement, this police officer attempted to get an undertaking from him that he would not put a copy of his statement in the hands of his Member of Parliament.
That is all very well: I told the Home Secretary this today and I understand that it is now denied, although my constituent was quite specific about this interview. It is very important indeed that the Home Secretary should tell the Metropolitan Police that if they want, as I am sure everyone wants, to co-operate with this House as friends and allies in the war against crime, they must not try to come between a Member of Parliament and a constituent who is making a complaint of this kind, to prevent him from supplying information.
There is only one other piece of the story and that is that I was approached by somebody who claimed to be responsible for the management of the club. He was, perhaps not insignificantly, a minority shareholder, not one of the directors or the licensee. He was a solicitor. He was not acting professionally, but was an investor. He gave me particulars of the club when I asked. It is a £100 private company, although I understand that it controls an investment of £250,000.
The four directors, whose names he gave me, are apparently a retired gentleman, somewhat elderly; a gentleman who has come from West Africa after having spent 30 years there, but without any other qualifications of which he could tell me; a gentleman about whom all I could ascertain was that he was a director who dealt with insurance matters; and the fourth director, the same gentleman who has gone about, or is claimed to have gone about, with an armed escort, and who is an antique dealer but who, I understand, has some previous experience in the United States in managing gambling clubs. This is a story of a little block of people living within 1½ miles of this House and subjected to threats for which nobody has so far been punished, living in genuine fear from the kind of twilight world which this kind of organisation sometimes tends to attract around it.
This raises questions which I put to the Home Secretary. What are his powers in relation to clubs of this kind? It is not for me to criticise gambling. But it is important that the Home Secretary should be armed with powers, and should use them in relation to matters of this kind in order to see that a club of this kind is responsibly managed, that the management is experienced in handling gambling clubs—if gambling clubs are to exist—that the kind of danger and the kind of nuisance which I have been trying to describe does not take place and that, above all, if complaints are made about the management of the club, then the moment they start threatening members of the public and putting them in fear of personal violence in order to stop them from putting their objections before the proper tribunal, it involves something which is far more serious than nuisance or noise or hooting at night.
Above all, I implore the Home Secretary to make it clear to the Metropolitan Police Force, for which he is responsible, that when people complain they should be reassured and not dissuaded from pursuing their complaint to its logical conclusion; and, secondly, that Members of Parliament should not be treated in a way in which, it is alleged at any rate by my constituent, I was treated in that efforts were made to try to stop a Member of Parliament from obtaining information in order to put his complaint before the House.
The House ought to thank the Opposition for putting down this Motion, not because of the aggressive terms in which it is couched but because it gives an opportunity to discuss this great national problem. During the past 14 years we have had far too few opportunities of dealing with this aspect of the situation. We are partly to blame, but the Opposition, who were then the Government, must share the responsibility, because the House has taken the whole question of the growth of crime far too lightly in the years since the war, and we have not given the time to it, as a national problem, which ought to have been given to it.
I listened to the right hon. Member for Monmouth (Mr. Thorneycroft) with a good deal of astonishment. Yesterday he made a plea that the aircraft industry should be dealt with on a non-political basis. I did not expect that he would claim this subject, on the following day, also to be non-political. Is the right hon. Gentleman claiming that the Conservative Party have no responsibility for the growth of crime in this country since the war? He said, for example, that both political parties had sought to raise the standard of living of a materialist kind. Is it not fair to say that the Conservative Party appeal to the individual to secure that extra share of wealth for himself whereas the Socialist Party appeal to people to work collectively in the common interest? The Socialist philosophy is very different from the "Get-rich-quick, I'm-all-right-Jack" philosophy which we had during the years when the Tory Party were in office.
The example given by the right hon. and learned Member for St. Marylebone (Mr. Hogg) resulted from an. Act of Parliament passed by his party when they were in office. Does he imagine that that Act has had no effect upon crime? Does he not know of crimes which were committed under the banner of the 1957 Rent Act? Does he know of no assaults, no crime, no crooked lawyers, no crooked estate agents, all under the banner of that Rent Act? He claimed that the betting laws were abolished because they were unenforceable, and that this was an advantage, but many examples exist of the kind given by the right hon. and learned Gentleman of crimes resulting from the Betting, Lotteries and Gaming Act. There has been arson and robbery and there have been protection rackets, all surrounding the betting shops which were established under that Act.
Without trying to be unfair to the Conservative Party, I suggest that the philosophy of life with which they governed the country when they were in office, together with some of the Acts of Parliament which they passed, had much to do with the growth of crime in this country. If this is not so, then one must say that philosophy is of no importance and a way of life does not matter. Aristotle said that it was the duty of a Government to create the conditions in which the citizen could lead a good life, and I take it that he did not mean a good-time life. Can one claim that the philosophy of the Government which is ruling the country and the way in which it interprets that philosophy have no relation to the way in which the people of the country behave? With all respect, I believe that there is a relationship, and I do not think it right that the principal Opposition spokesman should blind his own eyes to the responsibility which his party have in this respect.
The causes of crime are many. There is the lack of discipline in the homes and the loss of the discipline of religion, which taught responsibility. Some hon. Members have rightly indicated that the criminal's principal fear is the fear of detection and punishment. Is not this one of the great teachings of Christianity—that one is responsible for one's actions, and that whatever one did had to be paid for at some time or another? This is a form of discipline and teaching which is not given to the young these days, and that must play its part in the behaviour of our youth.
There is the loss of the discipline of patriotism, which once was a powerful factor in this country—pride in one's country. There is the loss of pride in craft which has developed with the growth of machines and with the introduction of dull, boring and repetitive jobs, as a result of which so many people have lost the pride of personality resulting from pride in a task well done. There is loss of respect for older people, which has been a great deal encouraged by commercial interests, which place so much emphasis on youth because youth is a profitable market for commercial interests to exploit. This has meant a loss of respect for older people, which has been reflected in the attitude of children to teachers and to all kinds of people who formerly had some authority over them. There is also the effect of broken homes due to divorce and to many other causes.
Psychiatrists have even found a connection between the criminal and failure in the 11-plus examination. The young boy at a sensitive age fails in this examination and is rejected by society. He has to go to another school when his parents wanted him to go to the grammar school. Psychiatrists have found this to be a cause of juvenile delinquency, in some cases leading to a life of crime.
It is difficult, to say the least, for any Government to try to put back the clock and teach a higher standard of morality. In the past men like Abraham Lincoln set a great example of behaviour and teaching and the leaders of the nation today, as represented in this House, can do much by example and teaching to change the philosophy of this country, a philosophy which has deteriorated very much this century.
Many hon. Members have referred to the pay of the police. I will not say much on this subject. One of the prob- lems is that the pay of the police is too low at the starting rate. It is all very well for the Home Secretary to say that police pay must bear a relation to the pay of other public services. That is true, but we must not forget that the police relate their pay to that in other industries, outside public services, as a result of which many young policemen leave the force for higher pay. They can get more as labourers.
Only last week my attention was drawn to the case of a young man in High Wycombe who was earning £22 10s. a week in a skilled job. He had a dispute with the firm, left it and, the following day, acquired other employment at a starting wage of £24 a week. Any young policeman must consider these factors when thinking of the relatively low pay which he gets, particularly in his early years in the force.
Consider the position of teleprinter and computer operators. The police force trains these men and, immediately they are proficient, a great many of them leave the force for employment in commercial enterprises—men who have been trained by the State and who, after reaping the rewards of that training, go into commerce because the money is very much higher.
Several hon. Members have concentrated their remarks on the problem of the police having sufficient money for the upkeep and maintenance of the force. One of the chief defects of the police force has been the extent to which it has been kept deliberately short of money, partly because the police precept is a difficult problem these days. Local authorities attempt to keep down the cost of the force and this has a serious effect on efficiency. That is why some hon. Members have said that we should transfer at least part of police expenditure to the national Exchequer.
In many parts of the country the equipment of the police is inadequate. There are too few radio cars. I know of one police station which has only one W.T. car. Because of bad maintenance, owing to the shortage of money, that car is often out of action, resulting in the station having no radio car at all. An experiment has been carried out in Harlesden, where men on the beat have been supplied with walkie-talkie equipment. I understand that the experiment has been successful and that the men on the beat have done their job so well that very little work has been left for the mobile policeman to do.
All vehicles and men in at any rate the Metropolitan Police Force should be equipped with radios, even if the range extends to the local station only. It is obvious that policemen on street duty are more likely to be keen to prevent crime if they are aware of the interesting events which are taking place near or off their beats.
How many hon. Members know that police cars use probably the poorest grade of petrol available, so poor that decompressor units are fitted to Jaguar cars to enable them to use this poor petrol which, of course, reduces their performance? How many hon. Members know that police cars do not get new oil but reconditioned oil? This is due to the parsimonious attitude of the authorities towards the police force. It is something which the men in the force view deeply.
Hon. Members may be amused to hear what S it Robert Peel said in 1829 when introducing the Metropolis Police Improvement Bill. He feared that one of the causes of the increase in crime was the increase in the mechanical ingenuity of the age by which perpetration of crime was aided and the means of detection lessened. In other words, the mechanical improvements—which went so far to distinguish this country and provide us with a scource of prosperity—aided the perpetrators of crime by enabling them to travel great distances in a few hours, resulting in the means of detection being lessened.
On reading what Sir Robert said in 1829 I wondered what mechanical means of transport there were at that time, remembering that that date was eight years before Charles Dickens published the Pickwick Papers with their rollicking stories of the great days of the coaching era. Sir Robert must have known what he was talking about. If his remarks were true then, how much truer are they today? The motor car has indeed given the criminal his opportunity.
I have a suggestion to make on the problem of manpower. Do hon. Members realise that the number of constables on the beat at some stations is so small that at school times all the men on the beat are engaged in looking after school crossings? This applies in some areas around London and is a dreadful waste of manpower.
I was privileged to visit New Zealand for the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association's Conference. I see an hon. Gentleman opposite who also went on that occasion. While there I found that school crossings were patrolled by the school children themselves. I made inquiries and discovered that there were no accidents, that the children did the job very well and were glad to do it. The children are dressed in white coats which are easily distinguishable. Each one has a long pole, at the end of which is a circular sign. A child stands on each side of the road, on the pavement, and without going into the carriageway projects the signs across the carriageways, stopping the cars. The system works well.
The New Zealanders said that their drivers were much less courteous than British drivers. They therefore believed that if this system worked well in Wellington it would work at least as well in London. The Home Secretary should consider the possibility of extending this idea to this country, for it would release a considerable number of men to do their proper duties, at least during several periods of the day.
The question of excessive paper work has been mentioned, but I will not comment on it. I must, however, refer to the time wasted in courts. There are cases where policemen who have been on night duty are kept waiting in the courts for the cases with which they are concerned to come on, no doubt because solicitors persuade magistrates to let their cases come on first. They are always nagging the magistrates. Most solicitors go to bed at a reasonable hour and enter and leave court at a reasonable time. Why they should have preference over policemen who have been up all night I do not know. Stipendiary magistrates do not usually fall for this nonsense. They have more consideration for the police than have the lay magistrates. An increase in the number of stipendiary magistrates might result in night-duty policemen being called earlier, enabling them to go home at a reasonable hour. It must be borne in mind that the efficiency of the policemen available is weakened if they waste so much time in court.
Next, the degree of co-operation between uniformed policemen and members of the C.I.D. It is by no means perfect. There is a great deal of friction between them in many stations. I know of one case where a uniformed policeman, at the scene of a burglary, carefully guarded some finger prints. The C.I.D. man came along and, the policeman having pointed out the finger prints to him, the C.I.D. man said, "I am not interested in them" and rubbed them off. One continually gets complaints, indicating a considerable lack of cooperation between the two forces.
I say little about this new form which the Home Secretary has introduced to enable the public to make complaints about the police force. As the hon. Member for Runcorn (Mr. Carlisle) said, it means that trivial complaints, which are in general the bulk of complaints against the police, formerly dealt with by the local superintendent who knew the man and was able to evaluate the complaints, are now dealt with by civilians, very often far from the scene of the incident, who have no knowledge of the policeman or, indeed, of police work.
An important factor in preventing crime is that there should be more cooperation between the police, architects and local authorities in the design of houses. Far too many houses have been built in the past to a design which perhaps did not matter when crime was not so great, but that kind of house which is vulnerable to the petty thief or burglar is still being built in and around London. It has, for example, easily opened french windows. The burglar has merely to break a piece of glass and insert his hand and unlock the door when people are out shopping. There is a great variety of weaknesses in the design of houses which could be eliminated, to make the work of the criminal harder, if some sort of advice were given to planning authorities and to builders and architects by the police themselves. It is relatively easy in design to make the work of the burglar much harder than it is at the moment, and some steps should be taken to obtain this kind of co-operation.
The question of a separate force for traffic offences has been exhaustively dealt with and I will not say much more about it. One of the important factors in this suggestion is that if the present police were able to concentrate on crime one would have in the whole force a different psychological approach. I do not see why this proposal is so bitterly opposed. It has been tried in other countries where they have separate forces, even with different kinds of uniforms, and it works very well. Why cannot we have it in this country?
There is no reason why police engaged on the detection of crime cannot be all plain-clothes men. I cannot see any great advantage in having uniforms for men engaged in this kind of work. We know that the policeman on the beat who walks round at regular times is an easy timekeeper for the burglar. He knows when the policeman is coming and he seizes an opportunity between rounds to do his job and slip away. The fact that the policeman is in uniform makes it much easier for the criminal to see him. If the idea of having a force for traffic and other offences is adopted it is worth considering the abolition of uniforms for policemen engaged in the detection of crime.
I am extremely glad to have caught your eye, Mr. Speaker, because at the beginning of my speech I should like to clear up the genuine misunderstanding which occurred last Thursday. I want to make absolutely clear that no question of discourtesy was involved. I had tabled Question No. 43, which asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department
if he will make a statement on the proposals submitted by the Prison Officers' Association for a review of the existing arrangements for compensation for the dependants of prison officers killed in the course of their duty and for officers disabled as a result of assaults."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 27th January, 1966; Vol. 723, c. 92.]
As the Prime Minister was answering Questions that day I realised that this Question would not be reached and I was able to catch your eye, Mr. Speaker, and put a supplementary question to Question No. 29, in the name of my hon. Friend the Member for Dorset, South (Mr. Evelyn King), which I would have put to my own Question.
Unfortunately—and this was a genuine misunderstanding—the right hon. Lady the Minister of State for the Home Department, in her reply, said that I must put a Question down on the subject. The whole point is that it embarrassed me a little because not only did I tell the Prison Officers' Association that I would table a Question, but I informed the Association that I had done so. I hope, therefore, that the right hon. Lady will forgive me for raising this point now.
I think that on both sides of the House we are all agreed that the one thing we need to keep down the great increase in crime, and particularly crimes of violence, are more men on the beat. I am absolutely convinced that this is so. Whereas once a crime has been committed the Z cars are extremely useful to go out and detect what has gone on, the real prevention of crime is with the man on the beat on his own feet. I am also convinced that it is the man on the beat who gives confidence to people living in the district and removes a great deal of fear which they would feel if they did not know that there was a policeman moving around in their area.
How are we to get more men into the police force? This is what we need. Various suggestions have been made that there has been a wastage in the use of policemen, but we need more and I am convinced, as the hon. Member for Kensington, North (Mr. George Rogers) has said, that we must have a more realistic approach to pay. I am not sniping at the moment, but had the prescription charges remained and the sum of money, I believe £46 million, involved had been devoted to increasing police pay it would have been more beneficial than what took place.
I come back to the question of compensation. It is important that men who are doing an extremely dangerous job in certain circumstances—and this applies to prison officers who since the Death Penalty (Abolition) Act have had the protection of capital punishment removed from them—should be given a positive assurance that if they are injured in the course of their duty their income will be made up to full police pay until they reach pensionable age.
If a prison officer or a police officer is murdered in the course of his duty his widow should receive the same pension as she would have received as a normal pensioner if he had served his full time and retired. This is reasonable. This is why many of us have tabled a Motion on the subject and why I hope that the right hon. Lady will consider it seriously. It is important and I believe that it would help recruitment.
I do not want to make a party point but this is an issue which we pressed on the right hon. Member for Hampstead (Mr. Brooke) when he was Home Secretary and he announced some minor concessions to the widows of policemen who had lost their lives in the course of their duty. This was strongly resisted for a long time, but in the end there was a minor compromise and improvement as a result of our deliberations.
I appreciate the hon. Member's remarks. It is a pity that more was not done. I believe that we should go ahead with it now.
Another form of compensation which is very important is that to people who have been injured or who have suffered loss or had their property damaged by the acts of criminals. They should receive compensation. I know that something is being done about it at the moment, but what I should like to see—I do not think that it is unreasonable—is the criminal, when he has served his time inside and come out and got a decent job, as many of them do, automatically having to pay part of that compensation weekly to the people who suffered the injury or damage.
I am sure that it would not be too difficult a system to arrange. An alteration of his code number could do it if he paid Income Tax by P.A.Y.E. That would be a good and fair thing to do, and it would be right as well because it would remind him week after week that crime does not pay. The attitude at the moment is that crime does pay, but, if we could bring home to the criminal week by week that it does not pay, we should, I am sure, be doing something both right and practically worth while. There may be snags and difficulties in administering such a scheme, but I am certain that, in principle, it is not a bad idea.
My final word is to urge on the Home Secretary and the right hon. Lady once again the importance of bringing more recruits into the police force and putting more men on the beat. By having more men on the beat, we shall keep down crime and restore confidence to the public.
I am getting old, I am getting a little bored and a little cynical and, unfortunately, I am also getting garrulous. I hope, therefore, Mr. Speaker, that when you start to tap the arm of your Chair in reprobation, I shall observe it as promptly as possible and try to be brief. I have nothing new to say on this subject, and I apologise for intruding. Except that, as many of the things which I have said in speeches 15 years ago are now being slowly and gradually accepted, I cannot help feeling that, if I keep on emphasising them, a little more may get done.
I observe with pleasure the presence of the hon. Member for Essex, South-East (Mr. Braine), who was Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Health and who, I have noticed, has been here nearly all day and, therefore, presumably, is wondering whether the dining room may be a more attractive place at this moment than the Chamber. I had a long correspondence and series of meetings with the hon. Gentleman some time ago. They started on that bitter note with which I have always addressed nearly all Ministers, but I must say that, at the end, he came out of it very well. We were dealing with a child of six in Oldham, a child of good parents, one of several children, who was already a kleptomaniac and who, by the time she was 11, 12 or 13, had been before the magistrates time after time and had received from the local magistrates every consideration.
I mention this only because it is one of the problems with which we have to deal, problems which cannot be dealt with by oratory, which we know in our hearts, on our present state of knowledge, are almost insoluble, problems which we are groping unhappily to try to solve. In this field, there are so many uncertainties, and, indeed, the human individual is the most incalculable of all creatures. I was very touched by the opening remarks of my hon. Friend the Member for Peckham (Mrs. Corbet). How true they were. The possession of great virtue and a tendency to vice run often together. Anyone who cares to turn up the life of Voltaire will find there a man capable of immense generosity and tremendous meanness, running concurrently a sort of moral schizophrenia and great genius which made him do almost anything.
Because I have reached the age when I cannot often remember what I wanted to say and when I am apt to sit down without knowing what I said, I shall try for a moment to concentrate on one or two matters which I believe to be important. I was a member of the Longford Committee, I refused to sign the Report, though I did not publicise the fact at the time, on the eve of an election—though I do not regard anything I do as important. I refused to sign it not because I disagreed with anything in it, but because I thought that there were one or two fundamental issues which we had not been able to attack at all.
It was a brilliant and distinguished Committee, an impressive Committee—I was about the only odd lot in it—and it had some very important things to say. But I was concerned that, under pressure of time, we had to leave outside the ambit of our deliberations what happens inside the prison, which I regard as important.
The right hon. Member for Monmouth (Mr. Thorneycroft) has already had so many tributes paid to his speech that they are becoming almost an insult because we have almost reached the stage of saying that it was his first really intelligent and generous speech. I should not say that for a moment. I usually listen to him with pleasure. But I certainly thought that it was his most intelligent speech, and until the last 10 minutes, when he began rather to waffle about punishment, I thought it constructive.
The right hon. Gentleman made an important point about statistics. Many hon. Members will have read the recent book by Pauline Morris. I confess that I have not read it in detail. I skimmed through it and put it on my list for study. One tremendously attractive feature of it is the use of a skilled mind concerned with the problems of penal reform in directing statistics to things which we have not been told and the contribution of information which is important.
The Home Office statistics have never quite solved this problem. I know that my right hon. Friend the Minister of State will say that, of course, Pauline Morris had a lot of help from the Home Office. I am sure that that is true. I have always found the Home Office helpful. Indeed, I have been almost surprised at the intelligence shown at the Home Office during the past 12 months or so, and my correspondence has been singularly happy with my right hon. Friend the Minister of State and my other right hon. and hon. Friends since they have been there. I have no complaints, and nor do I complain about the Home Office being cautious or conservative. This is a difficult field, perhaps one of the most difficult fields of reform, in which even the Left-wing Socialist should say, "Festina lente". One cannot dash in on these things.
Many years ago, I made a speech here about the prison at Melun. I notice that the B.B.C'., about 10 years later, has now publicised it. I do not know what has happened there recently. It is probably full of French generals, and, in a week or two, will probably be full of French police if the investigation into the Ben Barka affair goes much further into detail. When I saw that prison, it was concerned with the problem of classification, and, in my view, the problem of classification has always been the vital issue inside prison.
The attitude of the churches has been that those who study penal reform have been in the leadership of progress and those who study theology have been opposed to any recognition of the fact that people may be born with tendencies. Even the common thyroid gland deficiency and the operation can result in a wholesale change of personality. Buoyancy is one thing. Lethargy is another. Individuals inherit defects. It was not only Speranza's desire to have a daughter which affected Oscar Wilde; it was also the history of the Queensberrys which affected the marquess with whom he came into conflict.
We cannot give effect to all these things—it is silly to say that we can—but at least an understanding of them is important. But the argument always put to me from theological circles is, "But you cannot abandon a human soul". That is very good theology. Unhappily, it is impractical in political terms. We have to face the doctor's dilemma. Speaking from this side, I am partly on the side of the Tories. We have to say, "We will save those who can be saved". We have to recognise that, if there are people put two or three in a cell, and little Lord Fauntleroy is locked up with Bill Sykes, the old view of the Victorian novelist that Bill Sykes would burst into tears and say that the dear lord and his curly locks had converted him to virtue is highly improbable. What will happen is that the lad with the curly locks will have a close hair shave and be out "snitching" handkerchiefs the moment he is released.
We really must not create a mixed society in which some of the unfortunate victims of tendencies there for a month or two are locked up in conversation with people who are devoted enemies of society. There are devoted enemies of society. I used to know two lots of them. Indeed, I used to act for one of them. They were very entertaining fellows. They were about the only people who were influenced by punishment. They worked out what the sentences were and committed crimes which usually did not land them in for more than six months. While I was defending them, very few of them went to prison at all. They had it all worked out.
There are also people who take the view that on the whole, provided that the stakes are big enough, a devoted enemy of society would not stop at anything. I do not think that the train robbers would have stopped at anything in pursuance of their plan. We should understand this and appreciate that such people exist. The frightening thing is that they exist rather more than they did.
I want to say a word about the staff which was recruited under a distinguished governor at Melun. I do not want to deal with this at length. I am sure that people who see television will know something about it. I cannot afford television, neither the money nor the time. At Melun, they have recruited a staff of near university standard. I am a little doubtful about recruiting university people to the police force. The police are highly antagonistic towards the idea of an officer force recruited at high level. It would be much better to expand the excellent police training colleges and give the lads who go there a better chance of training and being taught and studying subjects which are regarded as important to them.
There is room, however, for recruitment in the prison service of men of higher educational attainments. We had evidence of prison officers before the Longford Committee. One of the most moving pieces of evidence that we had was that those who had worked in open prisons, new prisons and even prisons which had a psychiatric service—there are too few of them—had found a new value in life. They were allowed to do something. They were given a certain amount of discretion. The evil about the prison service is that the warder is still performing the duties of a turnkey. He locks the prisoners up at a certain time and unlocks them at a certain time. He is not supposed to talk to them, because if he does so he will be accused of showing favouritism. He carries out a series of orders, much as is done in the Army. He has practically no individual discretion. It is not for him to say that this fellow is decent or that one is not.
At Melun they devoted nine months of consideration to the first question of how to classify prisoners—of course, they made mistakes; everyone makes mistakes—and whether it could be said that certain people could be rescued and saved even if it took 10 years. They were dealing with prisoners of under 36 none of whom had less than a 10-year sentence, and most of whom were from the most violent of all the criminals of Paris.
Classification is essential. One has to ascertain what can be done within the limits of the service available. One has to say what is said in Oldham Hospital every day, reluctantly, by every one of the brilliant people who do it, that we have not the services to be able to save everybody, that we cannot provide beds for older people who will be there for 9, 10 or 11 months, that we have at the moment to use the beds to the best public advantage. That is a hard decision, and it was the doctor's dilemma years ago. This has all to be related to the question of reclamation.
The right hon. Member for Monmouth, rather strangely in a very progressive and thoughtful speech, came back to "Nobody worries about the train driver." If any want to worry about the disabled, I am with them. If any want to worry about those hit over the head, I am with them. If any want to worry about people in pain, I am with them. I am standing up in slight pain at the moment because one of my ankles has gone. It is a curious comment on our modern society. The one reinforced with aluminium screws and so on is working perfectly well, but the other, provided by Providence or my progenitors, is giving constant trouble.
The question of provision for the disabled—one to which I have devoted a little time; even people suffering from byssinosis come within my terms of reference—is one thing, and the question of dealing with crime is another, and they are not related.
I want to say a word—I regret it—about the Liberal Party who are assembled here tonight in much greater numbers than normally. As one who constantly calls himself a Liberal, and thinks that he is a dashed sight better Liberal than any of them, I do it more in sorrow than in anger. But the thing that worries the police at the moment is a lack of public co-operation. On the Royal Commission, we came to the conclusion—we started rather hesitantly about it—that the image of the police in the mind of the average decent citizen is just as high as ever it was—unless he is driving a car; and it is all right when he is a pedestrian again. This is the position. But people will not co-operate. People develop a Ça ne fait rien attitude, feeling that it may put them to some great trouble, that they may lose work over it, or that the case may be adjourned and they do not want to have to attend.
I want to say something that I have been thinking over for some time. I was a little surprised round about the 'thirties when the Liberal Party announced that it had secured a legal decision to the effect that the carrying of identity cards was either statutorily ineffective or constitutionally irrelevant. I forget the arguments on which it was based. I never understood why people should not carry an identity card. I have one. I have a British Museum card, a Biblioteque Internationale card—cards galore. Why should not anyone carry an identity card? How helpful it would be! Why should it not have his fingerprints? How helpful that would be! I do not think that we yet have any counterfeiting of fingerprints, although we know that they can be artificially reproduced by a very skilled workman. However, why should not the average citizen say, "I want to co-operate with the police"?
The right hon. and learned Member for Epsom (Sir P. Rawlinson) said that if we asked the police to pop breathalysers into our mouths, and so on, the public image of them would not improve—at any rate, while one was wearing one. The police themselves have a very great case on this. If one is to consider pay and respect for the police, one should consider those things in relation to the duties—the difficult, courageous and extremely able duties—that they are intended to perform instead of the lousy jobs that this House puts upon them. No policeman thinks that if he goes around putting tickets on parked cars, however necessary that may be, it will improve the public's image of him, or entitle him to come to the House and say, "I am worth a lot of money."
Before the Royal Commission Sir Ronald Howe gave evidence about a national detective force. I have dealt with the problems of a national police force, on which we made certain decisions too early which inhibited us too late. With regard to a national detective force, what is the point of having special training for detectives in various localities, special laboratories, special arrangements for photographs in small areas, special provisions so that, as I have said before, when a crime is committed in Blackpool the thieves have taken refuge in a very small county borough in Lancashire—which I will not name, though I am tempted to do so—very soon after even the Lancashire force has been alerted and before the Lancashire motor cars can reach the county borough? It is absurd.
The argument which was put against this—a perfectly reasonable argument—was that one wanted to promote the good man to the detective force from the police force, and that if he proved not to be very good one wanted to be able to bung him back again. That is reasonable enough in its way, but not very important, because one could arrange it by any sort of cooperative arrangements all over the area, over two or three or four forces.
I say that there should be classification of criminals and co-operation with the police. The right hon. Gentleman made rather heavy weather of the question of complaints about the police. We think that it is very important that there should be the opportunity of registering complaints about the police. We think that it is greatly to the advantage of the police. If hon. Members had looked at the evidence about this they would understand it. The police are open to be shot at, and badly shot at.
Perhaps a substantial number of motorists who get picked up by police on a lonely road make unjustified complaints by way of both defence and attack. We thought that these should be put through proper channels in a way that would give protection to the police against unjustified complaints but would also give confidence to the public that complaints were directed to the right quarter. That is important.
I conclude with a single observation. There is nothing about the White Paper with which I quarrel. Nor is there anything in it which gives rise to enthusiasm, although it is good and goes a short way. But there may be a time when we realise in relation to children that perhaps a great deal can be learnt from the study of children perhaps born with defects. There is a great deal of information that we passionately need and by co-operation between, for example, the Home Office and the Department of Education and Science, we might be able to learn more.
I have found recently that in the North, tragically, increasing numbers of children are out of control at the ages of 4 and 5. Special provisions for special classes are being initiated to try to provide control and direction. It seems an insoluble problem. There are no certitudes and no answers, but, nevertheless, it is the responsibility of the House to try to find them.
I know that several hon. Members wish to speak and I shall therefore confine myself to only one or two of the points I had intended to raise. I support what the hon. Member for Oldham, West (Mr. Hale) said about bringing in the public. That is an aspect I wish to emphasise, although it has been mentioned by others today. I do so because it is so important and is causing so much concern among the bodies most professionally engaged with crime prevention and the public.
The public and Parliament must apply themselves closely to the question of the young offender. I support wholeheartedly the emphasis and the interest which the right hon. Lady the Minister of State has taken in the investigation which led to the White Paper and in its preparation, because it is the young offender who becomes ultimately the old lag. If we could break through and reduce the number of young people who turn to crime, we could look more happily in later years to a reduction of overall crime.
But, while I support the right hon. Lady's aims, I have the gravest reservations about the methods proposed in the White Paper. The young, from babyhood, have a natural instinct to "try it on" and see what they can get away with. A small baby rapidly discovers that if it cries someone will pick it up and pet it almost automatically. A mother or even an aunt learns not to pick it up when it starts to whimper. Similarly, a youngster may "pinch" something from the larder or pick up part of his parents' loose change. If he is not caught and rebuked or corrected it becomes an exciting chase to see how much he can get away with.
The hon. Member for Kensington, North (Mr. George Rogers), in a most interesting speech, took an early opportunity, I was delighted to find, to rejoice in his new-found freedom, having given up the vow of silence imposed upon him as a Whip. With him, I believe that the greatest deterrent to descent into crime lies in the early stages, and first and foremost with the parents.
Are we emphasising enough the responsibility of the parents and the fact that the main basis of character education—no matter how good our probation officers or teachers—starts with and continues through the most formative years and the maximum hours of the day within a home, with good parents providing an education and discipline by their own example and teaching the difference between right and wrong.
The Home Secretary, in his only and rather vicious party political point, emphasised that the crime wave had risen from 1951 to 1964. I had the privilege of being at the Home Office myself for some years and I think I am right in saying that the statistics that were true then are true now and that the increase year by year in the various age groups in crime bears a close relationship to those who, at the outbreak of war, were between three and seven years of age. They suffered the upsets of evacuation or of mother working overtime in a factory, or of being looked after by "grannies" or others. They lost and missed throughout these years the authority of father, who was in the forces.
That graph started in 1945. It showed then in very young offenders and has continued year by year up through the scale. We saw in the war a breakdown, and are still seeing a breakdown, of family discipline and cohesion. Too often we see parents ready to "pass the buck". They should be made to recognise their responsibilities. I think that it is extremely important that juvenile courts should insist on their presence. It is important that they should not "pass the buck" to teachers. I have known some parents go to the school and say, "I cannot do anything with little Willie. Will you deal with him?". Quite properly, the schoolmaster has replied that the child behaves well enough in school and that it is the parents' responsibility to see that he behaves well at home. Similarly, in court, it is the abdication of parenthood when a parent comes in with a 10-year-old child and asks the court to take him into care because "I cannot do anything with him".
At every stage we must bring in the responsibility of the parent. To a certain extent, the Government's proposals may appear to do just that but I am very concerned about the suggestion that there should be family councils. These are neither fish, fowl nor good red herring.
These councils are to have powers yet they will not be courts. They will engage in more than a friendly talk and I am concerned to know—it is not clear in the White Paper—what types of offence—and how serious—they will deal with. If they are to deal with the beginnings of petty thieving, that is all right. But very serious offences are committed by quite young people nowadays.
One has only to think of the lightheartedness with which obstacles are put on railway lines. If that were done by adults and resulted in crashes, it would be cold-blooded murder. In my constituency, I have known farmers who have had to give up their farms, having seen their barns destroyed by fires wantonly set alight. A cow in calf and a horse in foal have been shot at with pellets so that they aborted and had to be destroyed. Are offences of this type to be dealt with in the juvenile court as previously where there will be judicial inquiry into the evidence for and against and where the child will know that this is a serious day?
As I understand it, the family council will deal with the young up to 16 years of age. At the moment, everybody is saying how much more mature are the young and how much more freedom they should have. They get married at 16 and some of them, with parental consent, even younger. They are said to be more mature and some people are advocating that they should have the vote at 18.
But surely we should emphasise the responsibility of that claim to maturity and not make proceedings cosier and cosier. The family council will do just that. Throughout the White Paper there appears the phrase "if the parents agree", but what happens if they do not agree? Will there not be a reaction by the parents, so that we will then have the triple process of the family council, the family court and back to the family council? Currently, the most likely recidivists have laughed at probation. They dress for the part and they look all meekness and sorrow, but the moment they are on probation, a percentage of them go out and do exactly the same again.
I have in mind an example which emphasises why parents should be brought in. A constituent came to see me. I suppose that all hon. Members know that some constituents pitch us a yarn, but we start from the basis that they are telling the truth, unless from our experience we know at once that they are not. We take up the case with the appropriate Minister and give the alleged story.
In this case my constituent was a weeping mother, poorly dressed and looking very miserable and unhappy. She told me that her son on a first offence, never having been in trouble before, had only "borrowed" the bicycle but had been sent to an approved school for three years. Because I thought that that sentence for a first offence was a bit stiff, I went to great pains to ask the mother again and again at that interview whether she was sure that her son had never been in trouble before. "Oh, no," she said.
I was then at the Home Office and it was very stupid of her to say that, because I was able to get the details very quickly, indeed. I saw the boy's record. He had been brought before the court four times. On the first occasion, the case was dismissed; on the second, it was probation; on the third, probation; on the fourth time he was sent to an approved school.
I was very angry about having been misled and I asked the mother to come to see me. She arrived dressed to kill, an entirely different woman and quite convinced that I had got her son out and back. That was not within my power, of course, but constituents often think that one can wave wands. I asked her why she had lied about her son's case when she must have known that I would find out. Her answer was, "Well, on those occasions he got off". To her probation did not mean that her son had been considered to he wrong and that the case had been proved against him, and that he had been given another chance by being put on probation or that he would not have been put on probation if there had not been a charge proved against him.
It is at this young stage that we have to persuade parents to accept their responsibilities. We have to stop the future criminal who starts by stealing sweets and then a camera and then a bike and then goes on to stealing cars or something even more dangerous and, for him, even more exciting. It is the excitement to the young of getting away with it and trying something harder and more ingenious, and it is in this respect that this cosy family council is the wrong means to deal with these far more mature young people, many of them with far more to spend than their hard-worked parents.
I believe that the family council would cause grave dissension if it was challenged by parents—and I see that the council's decisions must be agreed by the parents and that if the council is challenged, the case is to go to court. Because these are often acts against the public weal, against the good of the community, and some of them are highly serious and, if undertaken by adults, would bring very heavy penalties, they should be coolly, sympathetically and wisely carried through under the due process of law in family courts or juvenile courts—and I do not quibble about the name. To go as far as the White Paper suggests and have cosy discussions between various bodies, parents, the welfare officers and the members who may be chosen for these committees would be wrong. We should uphold the due process of law clear from top to bottom with all the sympathy of well-chosen magistrates experienced in juvenile cases.
The public is sick and tired of the weak-kneed treatment of youngsters. There was never more praise than when a few magistrates put their feet down and produced some jolly heavy fines for stealing money from telephone kiosks. The reaction to that was that at last something was being done. It was not just the money which was being lost, but the reaction was that there might be a loss of life if someone could not get a doctor, or an ambulance, or a fire brigade, or whatever it was, because of the lack of a great public service.
Equally, if some small person's property is robbed, or his animals or children are injured, it is just as important to him. It is important to keep these things under the recognised process of law, and that is why we should think again about family councils.
I want to say a few words about the sentiments expressed by the right hon. Lady the Member for Chislehurst (Dame Patricia Hornsby-Smith) as an introduction to what I have to say. It was probably true that there was a reaction and a welcome to those stiff sentences, but for a reason different from that suggested by the right hon. Lady. I think that the public does not understand the problem and that we do not understand the problem and that the reaction to fear is punishment. The problem is too deep to be solved merely by stiff sentences or anything of such a popular punitive nature.
One of the things which worries me about this great issue of crime, particularly having discussed it with many of those involved in the law practically and academically, is that our statistics tell us so little about it. Our statistics on crime are almost meaningless. This is especially true when there are two groups of statistics from two parts of the country.
For instance, taking two cities whose populations are comparable, Glasgow and Birmingham, we find that there are very different social and economic backgrounds and that the methods of recording crime are different. Birmingham records malicious mischief and Glasgow does not. There are other variations of method in police forces throughout England, Scotland and Wales. Other difficulties are found if one searches behind the bare statistics. For instance, about 60 per cent. of the crime in the country is connected with the motor vehicle in some way. Birmingham has many more vehicles than Glasgow, so that again the statistics are not strictly comparable on the same fundamental basis.
Has Birmingham more apprentices than Glasgow? I should imagine that it has, and we know that young people in apprenticeships or about to enter them are less prone to juvenile delinquency than those who take up dead-end jobs. The availability of jobs is another factor. In some parts of the country, particularly in Glasgow and the North-East, the availability of jobs for school-leavers is much less than in the South-East and the Midlands. The first flood of juvenile delinquency usually begins in the year before leaving school. If young people had a choice of jobs when they leave school, the chances are that it would be easier for them to select a suitable job.
Because of this first flood of delinquency before young people leave school we can look forward to an increased wave of delinquency in the 1970s when the school-leaving age goes up. In spite of all the time that is spent in discussing crime, in our newspapers and on television, the public are badly informed on fundamental points. It has become quite a game with me to ask people how many women prisoners they think there are in Scotland. I get all sorts of answers ranging from 500 to as high as 6,000. There are, in fact, about 40 women prisoners in Scotland, and there have seldom been many more. This was a surprise to all manner of people who consider themselves informed—and I must admit that until I was told I had thought that there were about 400 or 500 women prisoners. Somehow or other the facts are not getting through to the public as I would like them to. The mass media is tending to exaggerate rather than to inform.
Crime baffles all of us. We do not understand it. It baffles the police too. They are not baffled by a single act of violence or a house-breaking, but by the increase in crime and what is happening in our society. I have spoken to many senior police officers and women on the beat, and they just do not know the answer. Many of them have their own ideas, but when one discusses the problem one realises that they are as uncertain as anyone. Too many people believe that the solution would be a big increase in the police force. One of the terrifying things which has emerged from my discussions with people in the force is that they are coming to the conclusion that even if it was brought up to full establishment this would not solve the problem of crime. Some of them have reached the conclusion that the only time that we can get a complete establishment in the police force is when there is a slump. Someone spoke of the good old days of the 'thirties when there were plenty of people available for the force. They were forgetting that the 'thirties was also a period when there were gangs of people in places like Sheffield, Birmingham Glasgow and Liverpool. People tend to forget that, although crime has changed in many ways, it is not new and was rampant in possibly an uglier form in the 'thirties.
I should like to see salaries raised, because this would help to attract more policemen into the force and would cut down the extra work police have to do by way of compulsory overtime. It would also help the public to understand the problems of the police. There has been talk of the Home Office issuing a leaflet telling people how to make a complaint about the police. I went into this with my local police and, while they think that it is deplorable that such a thing should be necessary, they accept it. In one of my local stations a police superintendent spends all his time investigating complaints by the public.
I am worried about this, as I am sure that my right hon. and hon. Friends are. The police are too and are anxious to re-establish a good relationship with the public. They want to allay public disquiet and discontent. The problems of the police are not so dissimilar from the problems of many other public servants in society. Will we ever be able to give the police or the teachers or the nurses the position in society which will allow them to compete with productive industries? Up to now the public and this House have never been too keen to release the money or to impose taxes to bring this about. I believe that this is a reflection upon our society.
The solution to crime in the 20th century cannot be found by superficial methods. Even if the police had all of the aids which they want, all the mechanisation and improved communications and chances of promotion, the problem would not be solved. The changes in our society have been so drastic over the years that we must look into the problem a great deal more deeply than this. It is fashionable for people to say that they were once juvenile delinquents. I say this probably with more cause than most because I was brought up in the East End of Glasgow and I suppose that in modern terms many of the things that I did would have been classed as delinquent.
I think of the time when I was 14 or 15 and compare the outlets which I had with those available to young people today. The land hunger had not reached the stage which it has reached now so that there were plenty of vacant places close to one's home to play football without going through the formality of marching in formation to the local playing fields. The streets were one's playground. When I was young there were crazes, particularly in Scotland, which involved using the streets. For instance, many of us roller-skated for miles throughout Glasgow on the roads. This is impossible today. We are now almost afraid to drive on the roads. When we consider that about a third of the area of any city is made up of roads and streets, we realise that a very large part of the environment has been closed to young people.
We cannot turn back the pages of History, but we should recognise that things have changed and that the changes are fundamental. Young people are demanding much more freedom but in a society which is trying to force much more conformity on them than ever before. This leads to considerable tensions.
In considering the causes of disturbance in society we always make the negative approach. The Joint Under-Secretary of State for Education and Science, who is responsible for sport, has suggested that there should be swimming baths built outside the schools so that young people can use them after school hours. It has been suggested that in Scotland, and particularly in Glasgow, organised games should take place in the parks next year to keep young people off the streets. None of this is done to enable young people to enjoy themselves. It is not for the sake of the young people that we do this; it is for our sake. This is unfortunate.
We should get away from the old Victorian idea about keeping off the grass, which applies to many parks, particularly in the North. We want to create a society in which people can enjoy themselves.
I do not believe that we can get far in solving the problem of crime without carrying out some work and study on what we think crime is. One of the first things which I should like to see—I cannot understand why it was not done long ago—is the Home Office and the Secretary of State for Scotland getting together and finding out the best way of recording misdemeanours, crimes and offences so that from Land's End to John o' Groats people who commit the same crime are put into the same category. Once we have the bare statistics out of the way, instead of wasting energy trying to break them down and finding out what they mean, people are categorised and we can then get a little closer to the root of the matter.
My hon. Friend the Member for Kensington, North (Mr. George Rogers), particularly in the initial part of his speech, spoke about the changes needed in society. He made one or two remarks about the previous Government. I will not blame them. The world is moving into a state of material affluence at, perhaps, too fast a rate for us to keep abreast of moral attitudes. The only way in which we can solve the problem which we have been discussing is to understand the environment in which we are living. This involves spending a great deal of money on education and turning out people who will not only enhance their value to society but whose value to themselves is such that they will not want and will not need to get excitement from an outside situation which they cannot get from within their own lines.
It has been a significant feature of the debate that so many speakers, from both sides, have been in agreement. It is to be regretted that the Motion is virtually in the form of a Motion of censure. It would be a matter of regret if there were to be a vote tonight, because I have heard nothing in the speeches from this side of the House which have been of a tone to censure the Government.
We had two remarkably good speeches from the Front Benches. I was particularly interested in the discursion in the early part of the speech of the right hon. Member for Monmouth (Mr. Thorneycroft) on the causes of crime. It is an interesting commentary on our times that the more we believe that we know about the causes of crime, the more crime we get. We are all concerned about what is described as the wave of crime that is attacking the country, but it is important to get this matter in correct perspective. Every country, certainly in the Western world, whether Communist Russia, Socialist Sweden or the capitalist countries of the West, is still faced with this problem. At times, such a dramatic air is given to the problems of crime that we tend to forget that we have always had serious crime.
The serious matter which is arresting our attention today is the apparent increase in the number of people who are charged with committing various crimes. What we are seeing is undoubtedly one of the symptons of the affluent society, however that affluent society is brought about. An emphasis is necessarily placed upon material benefits, and very often that emphasis is not matched by an emphasis on other values. We have had the erosion of old traditional values, but we have not had their replacement by other values. The force of social sanctions is being eroded.
I happen to come from a part of the country where the force of social sanctions is very much felt. I come from a rural area where the incidence of crime in relation to the rest of the country is very low and where the detection rate is very high, because when a crime is committed the public nearly always support the police and there is close liaison between them. The main problem of crime arises in the areas of our society where we have what has been described as an anonymous society. It is to that aspect that we must give our attention.
Whenever I think of crime, I think of the words of St. Paul, in one of his letters, when he spoke of the importance of behaviour by Christians and the importance of bearing in mind the susceptibilities of the weaker brethren. It is as well sometimes to reflect on those words.
In our metropolitan society today we have many of what school teachers call "key" children, both of whose parents are out of work. They are provided with the keys of the flat, they can go in on their own, they watch television and their parents often return home tired. The child is, perhaps, given very little training. We have to remember that the influence of newsprint, dramatic stories of crime, sex and the rest and television programmes, often glorifying violence, is bound to have an effect upon some people who have a latent tendency in this direction. I do not say that there are not other reasons for having a censorship. All I am saying is that we must recognise that one of the symptoms of people with latent weaknesses might give way to those weaknesses under the influences that occur in their daily lives.
Once when a man was tried for an offence and was found not guilty a witness remarked to me that some people were honest by instinct, other were honest by calculation and some were honest by training. What we have to remember is that many people keep the law not because of instinct, not because of calculation, but by training.
The only study on latchkey children of which I am aware has proved the very reverse of the popular conception and shows that in most cases the family in which the mother goes out to work produces comparatively fewer delinquents than other families. This is simply another direction in which we need a great deal more information.
The hon. Member must not mistake me. I am not saying that latchkey mothers, if I may use the term, are necessarily slacker than others. I accept that responsible mothers would tend to take even greater care for additional training for their children if they themselves went out to work, but I feel that, where we are concerned with cases of delinquency, by and large we are concerned with people who have an hereditary tendency to it, or environmental reason, or they lacked the discipline which is given in the good home and family.
It is a very difficult problem to inculcate into a child a sense of responsibility when the parents refuse to take responsibility. It has been suggested in one or two speeches from this side that we should make parents responsible, but we cannot make people take responsibility; very often they do not take it.
It is very important to bear in mind one danger in relation to the statistics. For example, we have always had crimes of violence, horrible and vicious. One has only to read the old legal cases to learn this. We have them today, but many of the recorded cases of violence today would not formerly have been cases which would have been reported at all. In 1964 23,470 cases of violence were reported, but Mr. McClintock, the Cambridge criminologist, did some research into these figures and it appears that many typical examples were of brawl—in the home, in "pubs", in cafés, between people very well known to one another; and many of these were family quarrels, which would not have been reported to the police once upon a time, and brawls in "pubs" where, in the early years of this century, a police sergeant would have stopped them with his stick, and that would have been the end of that, and there would have been no recorded crime.
We should keep these figures in perspective, but much more important to our society today is the emergence, which we all deplore, of highly organised gangsterism, organised very often by intelligent people who are honest by calculation and have made the calculation that crime pays. They very often play for high stakes, and very often get away with it. There was the narrative given to the House by the right hon. and learned Member for St. Marylebone (Mr. Hogg). It had many disquieting features about it, and revealed perhaps the kind of tendency which we are all aware of and which is taking place in our society.
In this kind of case, though I entirely agree that punishment is important, it is the question of detection which is vital in the calculation which such people as this make. I think that perhaps the very long sentence passed on the train robbers was possibly passed with a view to establishing what the odds would be as a matter which ought to be taken into account by criminals who want to embark on this kind of offence—that one of the features they had to calculate was a very lengthy term of imprisonment.
I should like to turn my attention for a short time to the police. Of course, we do have very great reason to be proud of our police force. But it is very often dangerous to generalise about it. For example, I constantly hear of the need for greater centralisation of police forces, It is worth remembering as a matter to be considered that the metropolitan detection rate in this country is 21·6 per cent. and that the county detection rate is 46·6 per cent. Certainly, there are different features in county forces compared with the metropolitan forces. That I accept, but in my experience certainly, I have found that the smaller police forces very often have a very much higher detection rate. What I think would be dangerous would be to make the police an impersonal force in our national life. However the police forces are to be organised in the future, it is very important to have the force integrated into our social life.
If I may give another example from my part of Wales, if any strange or suspicious looking character is seen in the neighbourhood, the local police sergeant knows almost immediately. It is almost as if he has a built-in radar. Most detection by detectives in rural areas arises from gossip. We are in great danger of thinking that if we have every possible modern device that will necessarily assist in crime detection. If it removes the man from the beat, and takes him away from where he gets information through gossip, one will probably find less detection rather than more. I remember one chief constable of a very efficient rural force telling me that he objected to putting his officers on to scooters, because if they went scooting past the local population there would be a more impersonal relationship and that they would no longer glean information from gossip.
A very distinguished detective once told me that most of the crimes that he had solved had been solved through information received from his "narks", which is the name given to police informers in metropolitan areas.
It is vitally important for the country at large that the status of the police is a high one. Police officers feel very strongly that they have not a sufficiently high status in society. Pay is one of the matters that have to be investigated, and I should have thought that there was a great deal to be said for increasing considerably the pay of a new entrant into the police force in particular.
I agree with those hon. Members who have suggested that there is a good case for relieving police officers of a number of their formal duties, and there could be considerable modification in the procedures related to such things as motoring offences which take up so much of their time.
In our metropolitan areas I would be in favour of having a quite separate force, taking the duties of controlling traffic entirely away from police officers. There may be a case in rural areas for maintaining a single police force, but, certainly, when a police officer has to spend a great deal of time chasing motorists in our crowded cities it is not the best way to get co-operation between the irate citizen and the officer in the course of his other duties. On the other hand, I agree with the suggestion that we ought to use the two-way radio communication system between police officers on the beat and their headquarters.
I think that our law could be changed considerably to assist the police in their investigations. The laws of evidence were largely evolved at a time when an accused man was not allowed to give evidence in his own defence. It is not appreciated that until the late nineteenth century an accused man at the assizes or quarter sessions was not allowed to give evidence in his own defence, and the rules of evidence were so developed as to enable a man to have the greatest possible protections. The laws of evidence were evolved to protect the innocent, but I am convinced that to a very large extent today they do not give the innocent person the protection that he ought to have and that they certainly protect the guilty man a great deal.
The speech of the hon. and learned Member for Warrington (Mr. W. T. Williams) dealt with the committal system, which I agree, could be abolished with profit except where the defence wants committal proceedings to take place, and with trials.
What we have to remember is that many of the most serious crimes in the country are never tried, because they are never detected. If one takes the metropolitan detection rate of just over 21 per cent., it means that 79 per cent. of the crimes are not detected at all. The detectives concerned know who have committed those crimes, but they are unable to get the information. I think that there is a good case for having a complete review of our laws of evidence in criminal cases. I think that much more evidence ought to be made admissible, with due warnings to the court that attention must be given to the weight to be given to different pieces of evidence. Under our laws of evidence today, it is important for the police to try to get a confession out of the suspected man, and the Judges Rules are calculated to ensure that the confession is obtained by proper means.
It would be much better if, when the police have good grounds for suspecting a person of a crime, they could bring that person before an inquisitorial magistrate, an examining magistrate, and have him examined on oath before that magistrate. There is no reason why the man should not be represented, and this would be a great breakthrough.
During this Session I have put down two Questions to the Home Office on this, and I wish that it had a proper study group on the examining magistrate's system. I should like to see it introduced in an area in central London, say Soho, for an experimental period. We can see how we get on during that period, and if it is a success there is no reason why it should not be extended to the rest of the country.
I would have expected a more intelligent intervention from the right hon. and learned Gentleman. The Liberals have no intention of going back to the Star Chamber. Many of the most advanced legal reformers in this country who are concerned about the increase in the crime rate think that the examining magistrate system, which is applied in many civilised countries, should be investigated more by this country.
I propose now to deal with a point about sentencing policy. There is a great deal to be said for the system of the suspended sentence. There is a good case for its introduction in this country. The experience of other countries, such as Sweden, France, and Israel, suggests that many benefits are to be obtained from it. The method is simple. A court passes a sentence of imprisonment for an offence, but suspends its execution. Thereafter, the criminal has a threat over his head, and if he commits another offence he is brought before a court and he has to serve his sentence for the first offence, subject to any discretion within the strict limits of the second court.
There are many reasons for adopting the suspended sentence. One is that our prisons are overcrowded. An offence may merit a sentence of imprisonment, yet there may be good personal reasons why the man should not be sent to prison. It costs the State a great deal of money to maintain a prisoner, and we must have regard to our overcrowded prisons. I think that the suspended sentence reflects the view of society on the offence, and also holds a strong deterrent over the head of the man who has been so sentenced.
I invite the attention of the Minister of State to the article entitled "The Suspended Sentence" which appeared in The Magistrate in August, 1965. It was
written by Brian Leighton, J.P., and in the article he said:
The suspended sentence means that the offender—possibly for the first time in his life—is positively informed as to what will happen to him if he repeats his criminal behaviour—yet there is nothing in such treatment which is repressive or likely to breed resistance to society.
In view of the shortage of time I shall not continue the quotation, but I think that this system merits great consideration by the Home Office. During my early days at the Bar I remember being at a court where the system of suspended sentences was practised until the Home Office stopped it. It was thought by members of the Bar to be a very efficacious system.
I shall not, as I had hoped to do, deal with juvenile delinquency, except to say that I have no personal experience of it. I have had considerable correspondence on the subject, and magistrates who have written to me are generally in favour of a considerable reform of the prison system, taking the view that the criminal law as at present organised is far too blunt an instrument to deal with the juvenile offender.
The Home Office Statistical Study "Delinquent Generation", which has been referred to, confirmed once more—if it needed confirmation—that disturbances in the social or family life, if they occur when children are passing through their fifth year, had the most marked effect on subsequent criminality. Works abound co-relating early maternal and paternal deprivation with delinquency.
Bewilderment over the ætiology of crime may be exaggerated. Although there may be many reasons for delinquent behaviour it is undoubtedly true that a large section of the children who are born of broken or loveless unions are the children who have a particular vulnerability to delinquency. Those who, through their professional work, have been exposed daily to those who are juvenile or adult criminals know that in the end, whatever our initial optimism, we are compelled to acknowledge that once children are abandoned or seriously mishandled they and society are bound to suffer. Remedial action is likely to have very great limita- tions. The terrible consequences of a mutilated childhood are well-nigh irreversible.
If a person suffers from an early physical disability—something like infantile paralysis—we might try to minimise the condition and support the individual psychologically, but we do not try to cure. We realise that if we want a preventive we use something to do that. The real effort is directed, in such a physical trouble, to discover the causative factor and to combat it through a vaccine. In my view many of the offenders who are most disconcerting to society and who are the despair of the courts have chronic handicaps which would never respond to any one decision of the courts.
They need to be accepted as people with a permanent disability. But such a pessimistic conclusion is only justified if an effort is made to find the cause of their disability and seek to prevent it. This Motion's desire to solve crime by punishment dodges the recognition of the limitation of the effectiveness of punishment. If we visited the nearest junior approved school and examined the records of the little boys there we would see how terrifyingly high is the proportion of illegitimate children who come from broken homes and who, for years, have been tossed to and fro from a problem family to living in care, and who often have passed through the hands of half a dozen foster parents in as many years.
So, demanding more police, demanding longer sentences and the serving of punishment may have a marginal effect, but I do not think that it will be much more than a catharsis for the more primitive sadistic urges of local Conservative associations. Those who are more concerned with preventing crime will demand that our social resources should be mobilised to give aid to the child exposed to the threats of illegitimacy, of fatherlessness, of affectionless and broken homes. An example has been mentioned in the recent case of the injuries to a foster child.
When we are talking about delinquency how, as a community, can we expect the best from about 23,000 foster parents who are receiving niggardly maintenance payments in return for a working week of seven days, and sometimes seven nights, if those foster parents receive no wages for service, no health and insurance stamp, no paid holiday and not even an allowance for breakages and wear and tear in the home? Foster parents are expected to subsidise the community for the care of its children.
Even worse than the State's parsimony is the lack of aid given to this foster parents to help deal with the problems that go with receiving someone else's rejected or handicapped child into one's home. No serious attempt has been made to provide training facilities for those engaged in this most delicate of tasks. There are little or no official efforts to bring the isolated foster parents in an area together for mutual aid and discussion and perhaps for pediatric and psychiatric advice. After the foster parents have signed a form promising to look after the child's emotional, spiritual and physical well-being, they will be fortunate in many cases if they can see the over-burdened and harassed visiting child care officer for more than 15 minutes a week.
It is no good our being sententious about what occurs to a foster child when this is going on. It is no good, too, this House raising its hands in horror at mounting figures of crime when it turns away from recognising that about 10 per cent. of the children in care are illegitimate, and while we refuse to make the most elementary changes in our legislation to make certain that there can be some hope of that child remaining in a stable relationship with a mother.
I have put down about a score of Questions dealing with this subject for the Home Secretary to answer tomorrow and I hope that this matter will be looked at seriously. It will be a genuine contribution to stopping the spread of juvenile delinquency if we can do what Denmark is doing by ensuring that there is a chance of these illegitimate children remaining in a stable relationship with their mothers.
If we really mean what we say in the White Paper, "The Child, The Family and The Young Offender" that the Government
… will be actively concerned to make more effective the means of sustaining the family and of preventing and treating delinquency",
perhaps we would cease to be so parsimonious in what we are doing for marriage guidance. In the figures which
I received in the last week from the Home Office, it appears that for every £1 which we spend in aid to marriage guidance to stabilise the home, we are spending £100 or more on subsidising divorce.
We have heard a good deal about family courts. The right hon. Member for Monmouth (Mr. Thorneycroft) has had much to say about liberty. But what crimes can be committed in the name of liberty! Those of us who have worked in juvenile courts have seen how often the procedures are obstacles to getting at the facts, the truth and the remedies. One of the few occasions when a solicitor can feel ashamed is when he has succeeded in quite properly defending and obtaining the acquittal of a young person with an unfortunate home life, when he knows, at the same time, that the attention which should be directed to the whole condition of the home and family as a result of the acquittal will take place.
I hope that, whatever the prestigious factors which are prompting magistrates and probation officers to criticise the White Paper, they will be resisted. I genuinely believe that we need an inquisitorial system through a family council instead of our juvenile courts, never mind our magistrates' courts. We need to investigate the real causes of the acts of children.
The particular criminal act is only a symptom. Our preoccupation with the offence and the ingredients of it and whether it is proved distract us from looking at what has gone wrong with the family and brought the child into the court. Therefore, I trust that, whatever the legalistic arguments of the professional lawyers, the Home Secreatry will resist some of them and be prepared to recognise that there is a good deal to be said for having an entirely different system to that of the juvenile court, which too often treats the child as if he were a young adult criminal, not as a child in serious familial trouble.
We can also too easily assume, in our sophisticated world, that there is still no correlation between poverty and crime. That is just not true. An analysis of Home Office research shows a connection between people's age of 4 or 5 at the time of the deepest depression of the 'thirties and the terrible crime rate which followed them. This is established. This should warn us when we know that 2¼ million of our childen are living in poverty. This is 30 per cent. of the people in low income groups. Two-thirds of a million children are in households with an income level below the basic level at which they would receive National Assistance. Let us not be so sophisticated in talking about an affluent society. This cannot be the only place to look for the roots of crime. The poor are still with us.
In some senses, crime can be a healthy symptom of a society, because it means that, instead of the unhappy childhoods of Victorian days, there is an acting-out instead of widespread repression. Although this can be uncomfortable for society, it shows a more permissive and freer condition out of which may be coming the development of our material life and the activity of a richer society.
Despite the Jeremiads, we may perhaps look at our statistics with caution. If we genuinely want to get at the roots of crime, then instead of concerning ourselves excessively as tonight with the niggling censorship attempts of the Opposition, instead of raising our hands in horror at what juveniles are doing by way of vandalism, we should harness our social resources to try to heal the broken marriages, to assist in the problems of the illegitimate, to turn our attention to the problems of foster parents, to see how we can help child care officers and train many more. Then we should be doing something genuinely to fight crime. We should tackle the problem at the beginning, with understanding of the child's problem. If we were doing this we might then have the right to be more optimistic as to what would result in our fight against crime.
The debate, and the Motion put down in the names of my right hon. Friends and myself, reflect the growing concern both of the House and of the public generally at the steeply rising rate of crime. No one listening to the speeches from both sides of the House would dispute that this has been both a useful and a constructive debate.
In many respects there is a considerable degree of agreement on both sides of the
House as to the nature of the problem. There is no point in exaggerating the problem, but the House and the country must face the fact that society today is losing the battle against the criminal. In his Report for 1964, the Commissioner of Police for the Metropolis said:
1964 has proved to be the worst year of the century for crime".
If 1964 were bad, 1965 will be even worse. A difficulty with which we are faced in a debate of this kind, as was said by my right hon. Friend the Member for Monmouth (Mr. Thorneycroft), is the time lag between the end of the year which we are discussing and the preparation and release of statistics for crime. Unless the statistics are published very much earlier than has been the case in the past, we shall not get the figure for 1965 until well into the latter half of 1966. We are, therefore, always discussing crime figures which relate to a time well in the past.
But The Times published on 18th October, 1965, the result of a study which it had carried out by means of an inquiry among various police forces, and this study showed that the rate of rise in crime for the first eight months of 1965 had continued almost unchecked throughout the whole of the country. Some of the results for 1965 shown by this survey are quite alarming. Looking at the figures produced for the Metropolitan area alone, we see that crimes of robbery and assault with intent to rob were up by more than 32 per cent. in the first eight months of 1965, compared with the first eight months of 1964. Robbery was up by 18 per cent. and breaking into shops and warehouses by 17·8 per cent. The number of thefts from motor cars—one of the biggest sources of crime there is—went up by 42 per cent.
It is significant from this survey that, of the 10 areas surveyed, only Liverpool showed a significant drop in the rate of crime. It is important to realise that in Liverpool and Lancashire generally the police authorities have been at the forefront in introducing modern methods of prevention and detection.
It is almost beyond dispute that the rate of crime largely depends on the chances of being caught. To far too many people crime is a paying proposition. The risks are comparatively small. The figures for London are probably the worst of all and in this area the criminal has a four to one chance of getting away with it. The gains from crime are considerable. I telephoned the British Insurance Association this morning and asked if they could give me the figure for the amount which had been stolen during 1964. I was given the figure of £34 million.
It is no use blaming the police for what has happened and I am glad that no hon. Member on either side of the House has sought to do that. The police do an excellent job in conditions of increasing difficulty. The professional criminal has modern equipment and modern means of communication at his disposal. He has these things because he can afford to buy them. The police are handicapped by the shortage of manpower, which leads to split shifts, the failure to get rest days and excessive overtime. The Police Federation carried out a survey recently and it revealed that C.I.D. officers in many areas normally work 16 to 17 hours a week overtime. I believe that even more overtime is worked in the Metropolitan area.
The police are also handicapped by a lack of communications equipment, modern two-way radio sets, which should be provided for policemen on foot. In his speech the Home Secretary said that he was taking urgent measures to deal with this problem and he placed great importance on the provision of these sets. His hon. Friend the Under-Secretary, answering a Question the other day, said that a further 2,000 sets would be provided in the financial year 1966–67. Does the Home Secretary really think that 2,000 sets for the whole country will provide a solution to this problem? Is that the degree of urgency he places on this? Many policemen feel that they are not getting a square deal. They feel—and I agree with the hon. Member for Oldham, West (Mr. Hale) on this issue—that they are not getting the co-operation they should have from the public or from the Government. They are being frustrated by a lack of equipment.
Like my right hon. Friend the Member for Monmouth, I do not want to enter into the pay dispute. One complaint of the police is the long delay there was in bringing their claim to arbitration—the months they had to wait for answers to letters addressed to the Home Office.
They are frustrated by the ever-rising burden of duties which the House and
the Government place upon them. Whatever may have been the reasons for publishing the pamphlet, "How to Complain Against the Police"—and I accept that this was a recommendation of the Royal Commission—it is quite certain that both the timing and the handling of that pamphlet were absolutely deplorable. The Home Secretary has inherited a difficult position. When he assumed office he was sent an open letter from the Police Federation of which I will read only a small part. The Federation said:
Morale in the Service is lower than it has been for a long time and there are several contributory factors. … Our members can now see little hope of ever securing a shorter working week, having more rest days, enjoying a normal family life. The domestic pressures which have forced out many good men who liked the job and wanted to make it their career, have now been renewed and our members may find it hard to resist them. If the manning situation deteriorates still further, the responsibility for such a gross betrayal of the general public must rest fairly on the shoulders of the authorities.
I am sure that the right hon. Gentleman will do all he can to restore that position, but let there be no doubt about the difficult position which the right hon. Gentleman has inherited.
The letter is addressed, "Dear Mr. Jenkins".
My right hon. Friend the Member for Monmouth has referred to the need for the reorganisation of the police and I do not intend to expand on that for the moment. I hope very much that the Home Secretary will press ahead with the programme of amalgamations initiated by my right hon. Friend the Member for Hampstead (Mr. Brooke) and the formation of regional crime squads also initiated by him.
The Government have said that they are determined to fight the rising rate of crime. The House must ask what they have done during their 18 months of office to demonstrate their determination. They have passed the Firearms Act for which I give full credit to the right hon. Gentlemen's predecessor. They have published two White Papers, "The Adult Offender" and "The Child, The Family and The Young Offender", but it is fair to say that neither has been received with great enthusiasm.
There are points in both of them with which I find that I can agree. In the White Paper "The Adult Offender", the abolition of corrective training and the new arrangements for persistent offenders are both logical and right. The arrangements for the abolition of preventive detention, of course, were announced originally by my right hon. Friend the Member for Hampstead on 23rd July, 1964. I welcome the extension of the hostel system and the proposed arrangements for "drunks". Far too large a proportion of our prison population is composed of drunks and inadequates.
I am much more doubtful about the proposed machinery for releasing prisoners on licence after they have served only a third of their sentence. I have always thought that there are many prisoners who would be most unlikely to commit another crime even if they were released within a week of being sentenced, but for the professional criminal the length of sentence is a matter of calculated risk, as his chance of getting caught and the booty with which he hopes to get away.
It is not only the effect on the prisoner which the judge has to take into consideration when passing sentence. There is also the need to deter others from committing similar crimes. I draw to the right hon. Gentleman's attention the leading article in The Times of 10th December, 1965, which discussed the problem facing the Home Secretary and asked:
If the trial judge believes it to be necessary, in society's interests, that a certain man should stay in prison for a given length of time, on precisely what grounds will the Home Secretary determine that that view should be set aside?
The Home Secretary will find it very difficult to demonstrate to the public the reasons that he adopts for setting aside the judgment of the court in a matter of this kind unless he consults, and shows
that he is able to consult, either a parole board or some form of judicial committee.
There is much scope for bringing our present penal system up to date. I should like to see harder work in prisons, and I believe that a great many prisoners would like to also. I have talked to men about to be released after serving long sentences, and they have said to me, "How can we go out and get a job as a labourer, which is the only form of job we can get after a sentence such as ours, and hold the job when we have been doing only 18 or 20 hours' work a week, most of it sitting down sewing mailbags?" They cannot possibly do it; there ought to be harder physical work in prisons.
I should like to see removed from our system the degradation which there is in prison life today. One has only to visit a local prison at half-past six in the morning at "slopping-out" time to see humanity at its most degrading and lowest.
We should look at the problem as a whole, directing our attention to the entire question of penal reform. This was the purpose of my right hon. Friend the Member for Hampstead in setting up the Royal Commission on Penal Reform.
We should look at the question of the suspended sentence referred to by the hon. and learned Member for Montgomery (Mr. Hooson). We should look into the question of the greater use of the indeterminate sentence, which I believe is probably more to be detested than anything else by the professional criminal who wishes to calculate the time he wishes to spend in prison. We ought to look at the means of compelling criminals to make restitution to the victims of their crimes. One of the greatest deterrents to the criminal that we could have would be to make certain that if he was caught he would never enjoy the fruits and proceeds of his action. I know that it is difficult to do this, but I hope that the right hon. Gentleman will pay attention to the very useful remarks made about this by my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Epsom (Sir P. Rawlinson).
The other White Paper published by the Government is, I know, of particular concern to the right hon. Lady who will reply—that entitled "The Child, The Family and The Young Offender". The trouble with this White Paper also is that it anticipates the findings of the Royal Commission. We certainly need to find new ideas for treating the young offender, but much more important than that is ideas for preventing young people from becoming offenders at all. The broken family and the disturbed child are often the result of housing difficulties. There is a need, I believe, for the social departments, particularly at local authority level, to get together and ascertain sometimes whether these problems cannot be solved before they ever come to the courts. I believe, too, that we should look at the possibility at bringing together some part of the training of all those who have responsibility at local authority level for the welfare of children—the child care officers, the probation officers and those employed by The voluntary societies.
But the proposals in the White Paper for abolishing the juvenile courts and putting family councils in their place have been criticised in a very great number of quarters—not least by the probation officers and the magistrates. Yesterday the Manchester magistrates published a very powerful attack upon the whole concept of the main proposals in the White Paper. The Manchester magistrates, after all, know something about these things, and this is what they said about family councils:
The magistrates are of opinion that these proposals are both impractical and undesirable. They are impractical because the conception of family councils completely ignores the absence of an existing service capable of constituting and administering them. … They are undesirable because the fundamental object of the proposals is to place what are essentially judicial functions into the hands of what would clearly be a non-judicial tribunal.
The Manchester magistrates have also very strongly criticised the proposals in the White Paper for separate courts for the 16–21s:
The magistrates are of opinion that no useful purpose can be served by setting up special young offenders' courts. They are satisfied that there is no advantage to be gained by separating accused persons under 21 from accused persons over 21, nor by the trial and sentencing of persons under 21 in a separate court—even if it is composed of magistrates on the juvenile court panel.
I agree that there is scope for improving the existing arrangements of our juvenile courts. We could have in certain
cases a less formal atmosphere. We could have the separation of what are loosely called welfare cases from delinquency cases. Certainly we need to look for new methods of treatment for the juvenile delinquent.
I agree also with what was said by the hon. Member for Oldham, West. Classification is all important in juvenile cases above all, as in adult cases, but I believe equally that the 15-year-old who breaks up telephones, who beats up old people for the joy of it or who puts obstacles on railway lines should understand and be left in no uncertainty that society should not and will not tolerate this kind of conduct.
The rate of crime is still growing—and is growing alarmingly. The criminal is still winning the battle in spite of the efforts of an overworked, undermanned and ill-equipped police force. In spite of the speech of the Home Secretary, I believe that the Government have so far shown an inability to cope with this great problem which faces us, and for that reason I ask the House to support the Motion.
This has been a varied and interesting debate, but certainly not a debate of censure according to the Motion. We on the Government side welcomed the opportunity to debate these very important matters.
Before I come to the general points which have been raised I want to deal with one or two of the individual questions which have been asked. I fully agree with and appreciate what the hon. Member for Bromsgrove (Mr. Dance) said about his Questions last Thursday. I am sorry that there was a misunderstanding, but, as he says, he does not blame me for that.
The right hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for St. Marylebone (Mr. Hogg) is not, I see, here now. I am sorry—I see that he is here. I was looking for him in the place from which he spoke. I assure the right hon. and learned Gentleman that we are looking into his complaint, which is a very serious one and will be dealt with seriously. But, in complaints against the police, I think that the right hon. and learned Gentleman must not do what the right hon. and learned Member for Epsom (Sir P. Rawlinson) condemned—believe the worst about a police officer before the investigation has been held. We will, however, certainly look into his complaint.
The Motion mentions three things. First, it refers to the police. I am not sure what the Opposition are criticising, or what they advocate. We have not had a reply to the questions which my right hon. Friend asked about what the Opposition were advocating about the police service. In 1964, this House passed the Police Act, introduced by the last Government. It was a comprehensive Act based on the Royal Commission and rewrote the whole of our police law. Last year, 1965, was the first full year of its operation and also the first full year of this Government.
I am not sure what it is that the Opposition want. They talk in their pamphlet about a "Queen's constabulary" and about the Home Secretary having more responsibility. We still have not heard from them throughout the debate whether or not they mean a national police force or still believe in a local authority police force. Certainly, during the passage of the Police Act—and I sat through every minute of those debates—I did not hear any of those views expressed. Many hon. Members from what is now the Opposition moved Amendments designed to stop the Home Secretary from having more power than was being given to him. Surely the Opposition cannot suggest, with all the information which my right hon. Friend gave today, that the Government have not done all they could to carry out the 1964 Act.
The last year has seen amazing progress in our police forces. In 1965, having regard to the fact that there was a certain amount of wastage from the police forces, there was a net gain of more than 3,000 men. In 1964, there was a net gain of only 796. The year 1965 was a record year for manpower since the end of the war, with the exception of 1948.
We have heard today about civilianisation and the up-to-date equipment which the police are having to use and about science and computers. My right hon. Friend is getting ahead with amalgamations and we have had the regional crime squads. All this shows that a great deal is going on in the more scientific use of manpower in the police. If we are to take full advantage in good time of new developments of value to the police, we must be able to plan ahead as far as possible.
It is for this reason that my right hon. Friend intends to invite a small number of experts on communications to advise him on longer-term developments, but there is also much more to be done to make the most effective use of office equipment available both at headquarters and. where suitable, at stations. Some forces have done a great deal and provide dicta-phones and centralised reporting equipment, and so on, but we need to evaluate the work and see that all forces are brought up to the standards of the best.
Three years ago, expenditure on communications equipment, such as radios, was just over £500,000. By next year we shall spend nearly twice as much as that. In the same period, 10,000 more wireless sets will be in use and an additional £300,000 worth of equipment. At present 28 police forces have personal radios and in three months an extra 60 forces will get them. This shows that the general picture is of a service which is very much alive to the problems which it has to face and we intend to see that every possible assistance is given to the men who are actually carrying on the battle with their traditional devotion to duty and, indeed, gallantry.
The second thing which the Motion mentions is parole for prisoners. Parole is not a new idea. It has been recognised for a long time that for some prisoners it is a waste of human life and public money to keep them in prison. Therefore, the idea has been mooted for a long time that there should be a system of parole under supervision and with power to recall. Hon. Members opposite have advocated this and we have had Questions froth hon. Members opposite about when we are to do this, and I see that the Conservative Party pamphlet which has just been issued is also in favour of parole. Therefore, there is a measure of agreement on the main question whether there should be a parole system for longer-term prisoners.
The only matter at issue seems to be the method of deciding which prisoners should be allowed on parole. On method, it is true to say that when as recently as last summer the House considered the procedure by which life sentence prisoners should be released on licence, it decided in favour of leaving the matter to the discretion of the Home Secretary of the day in consultation with the appropriate people. In doing so, the House implicitly rejected the idea of referring the matter to any outside body, however composed.
However, this is a matter for argument and discussion. I do not think that the method by which we decide that our prisoners shall be released on parole is one for a critical Motion in this House. I am very pleased that the main suggestion—the need for parole—seems to be accepted by everyone on both sides of the House.
The hon. Gentleman the Member for Sutton and Cheam (Mr. Sharples), talked about prisons. I recognise as much as he does, the need for a good deal of prison reform. But surely he cannot blame us for some of the things which he has described. We inherited the prison system and we are doing our best with it. It is not an enviable job to be responsible for the prisons of this country. One thing I have learned is that one can never win.
For instance, if a prisoner gets over the wall we are told that we should keep him in, and keep the prison more secure. If we keep the prisoners more secure we are then called inhuman. So we open the prison gates to let the Press in to see that we are not inhuman and we are criticised because it is said that the conditions are too good. We all recognise the need to get ahead as quickly as possible with our present programme, but it is not easy. It takes nearly twice as long to build a prison as to build a school or a hospital. Before we begin to lay the foundations there are objections from people who live in the vicinity. We have to spend time hearing the objections and holding an inquiry.
I am pleased that Juvenile delinquency has taken up a good deal of this debate. We have to face the fact that one-third of the persons found guilty of indictable offences last year were under the age of 17. If we can divert children from crime during their early years we shall have gone a long way towards tackling the problem of crime in the years to come. Too often the juvenile delinquent of yesterday is the adult criminal of today. The files with which I deal every day tell their own story—supervision, approved school, borstal, prison. It is too often a progression.
Although one-third of the persons found guilty of indictable offences are under 17, this proportion is almost exactly the same as it was before the war, so that the increase in juvenile crime has been matched by a corresponding increase in adult crime. Thus the children appear to be no worse than their seniors. In itself this should make us think carefully about the kind of society in which we live. There are sometimes inherent defects in a child, but for the individual child, as for the young delinquent as a whole, it is often difficult to point to any cause or set of causes.
Despite the increase in the amount of research in recent years we are still a long way from understanding the factors which give rise to delinquency. In many cases the disturbance may be part of the ordinary process of growing up, and is not serious or of long standing. In other cases it may be more deeply-rooted, perhaps a sense of insecurity bred by parental neglect or inadequacy, or a sense of failure derived from backwardness at school.
I was interested to see that the document published by the Conservative Party points to the fact that some children feel a sense of failure at school. For many years I have said that we had a system in our schools whereby four-fifths of our children were made to feel failures at the age of 11.
It is often a cause. The right hon. and learned Gentleman must read the document which his own party produced, because this matter is referred to in it in these terms.
This is the background to the White Paper—a serious problem of crime, especially of crime committed by young people, which is certainly not being solved by traditional methods. What we have attempted in our White Paper on juvenile delinquency is a complete reappraisal of the problem and the way in which it might be tackled. We do not claim originality for all of this. For example, the idea of establishing a comprehensive family service to provide for all the needs of children in families has been discussed in professional circles for many years. The Government have accepted the need for a family service, although we recognise that its establishment will not be an easy task owing to the various and sometimes conflicting interests involved. But the matter is now being considered by an independent committee under the chairmanship of Mr. Seebohm.
The central theme of our White Paper is the need to deal with children of school age, as far as it is possible to do so, outside the courts and to bring the parents into active co-operation with the authorities. I believe that children should be taught right from wrong at an early age and that they must be punished at an early age by depriving them of some of their small treats. But I do not believe that children of a very tender age should be regarded as criminals and branded as criminals for the rest of their lives.
I am sorry. I usually give way, but I have a lot of ground to cover.
In our White Paper we are concerned not so much with an isolated act as with the general pattern of behaviour of the child. If the social services can help to put a child on the right road and can help parents with how to deal with their children it is infinitely better than taking a child of school age to court.
There is nothing particularly new in the idea that some way should be found of dealing with delinquent children, as far as possible, without resort to the courts. In general terms, this proposal has had the support of a number of bodies, including the Kilbrandon Committee, which considered the question in relation to Scotland, and others with which I will deal later.
The White Paper deals with many matters other than the processes of the courts. I have been a little disappointed that so much of the discussion both inside and outside Parliament has been concerned more with machinery than with the important changes in treatment. After all, the only purpose of the machinery is to see that the child gets the right treatment.
I have seen during the last few weeks nearly all the organisations concerned with this matter, and there is a general measure of agreement on many of the proposals in the White Paper. Almost all agreed on the need for a family service. Almost all agreed on the proposal to establish observation centres fulfilling the present functions of remand homes and classifying centres. Nearly all agreed on our proposed treatment for children under the age of 16. Nearly everybody is agreed on the proposal to abolish the approved school order and the proposal that approved schools should cease to be a separate service and instead fit into the comprehensive range of local authority residential establishments.
Too often the approved schools have been completely isolated and the whole of the approved school system is inflexible in the sense that local authorities cannot remove a child from an approved school to another kind of establishment most suited for it. I will talk presently about the proposals for the 16s to 21s.
It is sometimes sheer chance whether the behaviour of children leads to preventive work by the social services before the child reaches court or whether the child reaches court before its social behaviour is detected. I have in mind a case, brought to my notice by my hon. Friend the Member for Ince (Mr. McGuire), of a 10-year old boy who was awaiting a place in a school for educationally subnormal children. Part of his subnormality led him into taking things from stores. While he was waiting to get into the educationally subnormal school, he was taken before the juvenile court and committed to an approved school. Because of that approved school order, there was nothing that we could do to get the boy back to where he really belonged, into a school for educationally subnormal children. That is why we want to place the approved schools at the disposal of the local authorities to use as part of their range of residential establishments.
The proposal which has caused most comment is that to replace the juvenile court with family councils and family courts. The Motion refers to the abolition of the juvenile court as if we propose to put nothing in its place. Juvenile courts were established in 1908, nearly 60 years ago. Times have changed since then. Habits and the whole pattern of life have changed. If juvenile crime was decreasing, if the juvenile courts had a salutary effect, there would be no need to re-examine this problem. But that is not so.
I am very pleased indeed that we have this opportunity today to put the matter in its proper perspective. I know that there has been opposition from some magistrates—[Hox. MEMBERS: "Some?"]—and from probation officers, but the speech today from my hon. Friend the Member for Peckham (Mrs. Corbet), who has great experience in juvenile courts, shows that not all magistrates are opposed to the White Paper. As every hon. Member knows, those who disagree with anything are a little more vocal than those who agree. Disagreement is news, whereas agreement rarely gets into the newspapers.
There are many other organisations which agree with our approach in the White Paper. For example, the Association of Children's Officers is in agreement with the White Paper, as is the Association of Child Care Officers. The National Union of Teachers is in agreement with replacing juvenile courts with some other system. A great deal has been quoted today from the Police Federation. The police submitted to the Royal Commission on Penal Policy their views about juvenile delinquency. They stated:
We can find only a very limited place for juvenile courts as such in the social system, and would wish them to be abolished. The admirable work done by these courts is not underrated, but their function as it relates to the younger age groups should form no part of the judicial system, and should be handed over to the Education Department.
If hon. Members opposite condemn the White Paper because we wish to replace the juvenile courts by some other system, they have also to condemn the Association of Child Care Officers, the Association of Children's Officers, the National Union of Teachers, the Police Federation and many other people as well.
I have been asked why we should have the juvenile courts for those aged 16 to 21, and is not the age of 21 too high. In this we are merely bringing the courts and procedures into line with what is already established practice for treatment. Those in the age group 17 to 21 are already subject to a special range of custodial sentence which distinguishes them from adults—borstal, detention centres, young prisoner centres, and so on. We thought it was sensible, since we have this special range of treatment for those up to the age of 21, to have a special court which would deal with them, and we think that this makes sense.
This White Paper was published for discussion. As I have said, I spent hours seeing the various deputations, and I think I know the views, the sometimes conflicting views, of those concerned, on the one hand, the magistrates and probation officers with quite different views from the local authority associations, the A.M.C. and the C.C.A., and the child care and children's officers.
As my right hon. Friend has said today, we are considering all the views which have been given to us, and we shall take into account all these opinions, but some of them are so conflicting that it will be difficult to produce proposals which will please everybody, because whereas the magistrates and the probation officers would like to retain juvenile courts there is a very big body of opinion on the other side, the local authority associations, child care officers and children's officers, who like neither juvenile courts nor the family councils, but would like the whole of this question dealt with by the various social services of the local authorities.
We have really been getting ahead in thinking about this very important problem of juvenile delinquency. The Tory pamphlet which was published last week dismissed the whole of juvenile delinquency in fewer than 700 words. I think that this has all the marks that the Tory committee could not agree.
Now many of the problems of the last 40 to 50 years have become less acute. We have dealt with questions of poverty, of bad housing, of ill-health, and with the problems of the elderly. There is only one social problem which has become more acute, and that is the problem of crime; because today crime is our greatest social problem. The police are in the front line of the fight against crime, but it is a responsibility for all of us, and we as a Government are determined to do everything in our power to help in that fight, and, if possible, to eradicate the causes.
|Division No. 19.]||AYES||[10.0 p.m.|
|Agnew, Commander Sir Peter||Douglas-Home, Rt. Hn. Sir Alec||Kerby, Capt. Henry|
|Allison, Michael (Barkston Ash)||Drayson, G. B.||Kerr, Sir Hamilton (Cambridge)|
|Allan, Robert (Paddington, S.)||du Cann, Rt. Hn. Edward||Kershaw, Anthony|
|Allason, James (Hemel Hempstead)||Elliott,R.W.(N'c'tle-upon-Tyne,N.)||Kilfedder, James A.|
|Amery, Rt. Hn. Julian||Emery, Peter||Kimball, Marcus|
|Anstruther-Gray, Rt. Hn. Sir W.||Errington, Sir Eric||King, Evelyn (Dorset, S.)|
|Astor, John||Eyre, Reginald||Kirk, Peter|
|Atkins, Humphrey||Fair, John||Kitson, Timothy|
|Awdry, Daniel||Fell, Anthony||Lagden, Godffey|
|Baker, W. H. K.||Fisher, Nigel||Lambton, viscount|
|Balniel, Lord||Fletcher-Cooke, Charles (Darwen)||Lancaster, Col. C. G.|
|Barber, Rt. Hn. Anthony||Fletcher-Cooke, Sir John (S'pton)||Langford-Holt, Sir John|
|Barlow, Sir John||Forrest, George||Lewis, Kenneth (Rutland)|
|Batsford, Brian||Foster, Sir John||Lloyd, Rt.Hn.Geoffrey(Sut'nC'dfield)|
|Beamish, Col. Sir Tufton||Fraser,Rt.Hn.Hugh(St'fford &Stone)||Lloyd, Ian (P'tsm'th, Langstone)|
|Bell, Ronald||Fraser, Ian (Plymouth, Sutton)||Lloyd, Rt. Hn. Selwyn (Wirral)|
|Bennett, Sir Frederic (Torquay)||Galbraith, Hn. T. G. D.||Longbottom, Charles|
|Bennett, Dr. Reginald(Gos. & Fhm)||Gammans, Lady||Longden, Gilbert|
|Berkeley, Humphry||Gardner, Edward||Loveys, W. H.|
|Berry, Hn. Anthony||Gibson-Watt, David||McAdden, Sir Stephen|
|Biffen, John||Giles, Rear-Admiral Morgan||MacArthur, Ian|
|Biggs-Davlson, John||Gilmour, Sir John (East Fife)||Maclean, Sir Fitzroy|
|Bingham, R. M.||Glover, Sir Douglas||Macleod, Rt. Hn. lain|
|Birch, Rt. Hn. Nigel||Glyn, Sir Richard||McMaster, Stanley|
|Black, Sir Cyril||Godber, Rt. Hn. J. B.||McNair-Wilson, Patrick|
|Blaker, Peter||Goodhart, Philip||Maddan, W. F. M.|
|Bossom, Sir Clive||Goodhew, Victor||Maglnnis, John E.|
|Box, Donald||Gower, Raymond||Maitland, Sir John|
|Boyd-Carpenter, Rt. Hn. J.||Grant, Anthony||Marten, Neil|
|Boyle, Rt. Hn. Sir Edward||Grant-Ferris, R.||Mathew, Robert|
|Braine, Bernard||Gresham-Cooke, R.||Maude, Angus|
|Brewis, John||Grieve, Percy||Maudling, Rt. Hn. Reginald|
|Brinton, sir Tatton||Griffiths, Eldon (Bury St. Edmunds)||Mawby, Ray|
|Bromiey-Davenport, U. -Col. Sir Walter||Griffiths, Peter (Smethwick)||Maxwell-Hyslop, R. J.|
|Brown, Sir Edward (Bath)||Curden, Harold||Maydon, Lt.-Cmdr. S. L. c.|
|Bruce-Gardyne, J.||Hall, John (Wycombe)||Meyer, Sir Anthony|
|Bryan, Paul||Hall-Davies, A. G. F.||Mills, Peter (Torrington)|
|Buchanan-Smith, Alick||Hamilton, Marquess of (Fermanagh)||Mills, Stratton (Belfast, N.)|
|Buck, Antony||Hamilton, M. (Salisbury)||Miscampbell, Norman|
|Bullus, Sir Eric||Harris, Frederic (Croydon, N.W.)||Mitchell, David|
|Burden, F. A.||Harris, Reader (Heston)||Monro, Hector|
|Buxton, Ronald||Harrison, Brian (Maldon)||More, Jasper|
|Campbell, Gordon||Harrison, Col. Sir Harwood (Eye)||Morgan, W. G.|
|Carlisle, Mark||Harvey, Sir Arthur Vere(Maoclesf'd)||Morrison, Charles (Devizes)|
|Carr, Rt. Hn. Robert||Harvey, John (Walthamstow, E.)||Mott-Radclyffe, Sir Charles|
|Cary, Sir Robert||Harvie Anderson, Miss||Munro-Lucas-Tooth, Sir Hugh|
|Channon, H. P. G.||Hastings, Stephen||Murton, Oscar|
|Chataway, Christopher||Hawkins, Paul||Neave, Airey|
|Chichester-Clark, R.||Hay, John||Nicholls, Sir Harmar|
|Clark, Henry (Antrim, N.)||Heald, Rt. Hn. Sir Lionel||Nicholson, Sir Godfrey|
|Clark, William (Nottingham, S.)||Heath, Rt. Hn. Edward||Noble, Rt. Hn. Michael|
|Clarke, Brig. Terence (Portsmth.W.)||Hendry, Forbes||Nugent, Rt. Hn. Sir Richard|
|Cole, Norman||Higgins, Terence L.||Onslow, Craniey|
|Cooke, Robert||Hiley, Joseph||Orr, Capt. L. P. S.|
|Cooper, A. E.||Hill, J. E. B. (S. Norfolk)||Orr-Ewing, Sir Ian|
|Cordle, John||Hirst, Geoffrey||Osborn, John (Hallam)|
|Corfieid, F. V.||Hobson, Rt. Hn. Sir John||Page, John (Harrow, W.)|
|Costain, A. P.||Hogg, Rt. Hn. Quintin||Page, R. Graham (Crosby)|
|Courtney, Cdr. Anthony||Hopkins, Alan||Pearson, Sir Frank (Clitheroe)|
|Craddock, Sir Beresford (Spelthome)||Hordern, Peter||Peel, John|
|Crawley, Aidan||Hornby, Richard||Percival, Ian|
|Crosthwaite-Eyre, Col. Sir Oliver||Hornsby-Smith, Rt. Hn. Dame P.||Peyton, John|
|Crowder, F. P.||Howard, Hn. G. R. (St. Ives)||Plckthom, Rt. Hn. Sir Kenneth|
|Cunningham, Sir Knox||Howe, Geoffrey (Bebington)||Pounder, Rafton|
|Curran, Charles||Hunt, John (Bromley)||Powell, Rt. Hn. J. Enoch|
|Currie, G. B. H.||Hutchison, Michael Clark||Price, David (Eastleigh)|
|Dalkeith, Earl of||Iremonger, T. L.||Prior, J. M. L.|
|Dance, James||Irvine, Bryant Godman (Rye)||Quennell, Miss J. M.|
|Davies, Dr. Wyndham (Perry Barr)||Jenkin, Patrick (Woodford)||Ramsden, Rt. Hn. James|
|d'Avigdor-Goldsmid, Sir Henry||Jennings, J. C.||Rawlinson, Rt. Hn. Sir Peter|
|Dean, Paul||Johnson Smith, G. (East Grinstead)||Redmayne, Rt. Hn. Sir Martin|
|Deedes, Rt. Hn. w. P.||Jones, Arthur (Northants, S.)||Rees-Davies, W. R.|
|Digby, Simon Wingfield||Jopling, Michael||Renton, Rt. Hn. Sir David|
|Dodds-Parker, Douglas||Joseph, Rt. Hn. Sir Keith||Ridsdale, Julian|
|Doughty, Charles||Kaberry, Sir Donald||Roberts, Sir Peter (Heeley)|
|Rodgers, Sir John (Sevenoaks)||Taylor, Frank (Moss Side)||Walters, Dennis|
|Royle, Anthony||Teeling, Sir William||Ward, Dame Irene|
|Scott-Hopkins, James||Temple, John M.||Weatherill, Bernard|
|Sharples, Richard||Thatcher, Mrs. Margaret||Webster, David|
|Shepherd, William||Thomas, Sir Leslie (Canterbury)||Wells, John (Maldstone)|
|Sinclair, Sir George||Thomas, Rt. Hn. Peter (Conway)||Whitelaw, William|
|smith, Dudley (Br'ntf'd & Chlswlok)||Thompson, Sir Richard (Croydon,S.)||Williams, Sir Rolf Dudley (Exeter)|
|Smith, John||Thorneycroft, Rt. Hn. Peter||Wilson, Geoffrey (Truro)|
|Smyth, Rt. Hn. Brig. Sir John||Tiley, Arthur (Bradford, W.)||Wise, A. R.|
|Spearman, Sir Alexander||Tilney, John (Wavertree)||Wolrige-Gordon, Patrick|
|Speir, Sir Rupert||Turton, Rt. Hn. R. H.||Wood, Rt. Hn. Richard|
|Stainton, Keith||Tweedsmuir, Lady||Woodhouse, Hn. Christopher|
|Stanley, Hn. Richard||van Straubenzee, W. R.||Wylie, N. R.|
|Stodart, Anthony||Vaughan-Morgan, Rt. Hn. Sir John||Yates, William (The Wrekin)|
|Studholme, Sir Henry||Vickers, Dame Joan||Younger, Hn. George|
|Summers, Sir Spencer||Walder, David (High Peak)|
|Talbot, John E.||Walker, Peter (Worcester)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES:|
|Taylor, Sir Charles (Eastbourne)||Walker-Smith, Rt. Hn. Sir Derek||Mr. Martin McLaren and|
|Taylor, Edward M. (G'gow,Cathcart)||wall, Patrick||Mr. Francis Pym.|
|Abse, Leo||Donnelly, Desmond||Hunter, A. E. (Feltham)|
|Albu, Austen||Driberg, Tom||Hynd, H. (Accrington)|
|Allaun, Frank (Salford, E.)||Duffy, Dr. A. E. P.||Hynd, John (Attercliffe)|
|Alldritt, Walter||Dunn, James A.||Jackson, Colin|
|Allen, Scholefield (Crewe)||Dunnett, Jack||Janner, Sir Barnett|
|Armstrong, Ernest||Edeiman, Maurice||Jay, Rt. Hn. Douglas|
|Atkinson, Norman||Edwards, Rt. Hn. Ness (Caerphilly)||Jeger, George (Goole)|
|Bacon, Rt. Hn. Alice||Edwards, Robert (Bilston)||Jeger,Mrs.Lena(H'b'n & St.P'cras,S.)|
|Bagier, Cordon A. T,||Ennals, David||Jenkins, Hugh (Putney)|
|Barnett, Joel||Ensor, David||Jenkins, Rt. Hn. Roy (Stechford)|
|Baxter, William||Evans, Albert (Islington, S.W.)||Johnson, Carol (Lewisham, S.)|
|Bellenger, Rt. Hn. F. J.||Evans, Ioan (Birmingham, Yardley)||Johnson, James(K'ston-on-Hull,W.)|
|Bence, Cyril||Fernyhough, E.||Johnston, Russell (Inverness)|
|Benn, Rt. Hn. Anthony Wedgwood||Finch, Harold (Bedwellty)||Jones, Dan (Burnley)|
|Bennett, J. (Glasgow, Bridgeton)||Fitch, Alan (Wigan)||Jones, Rt. Hn. Sir Elwyn(W.Ham,S.)|
|Bessell, Peter||Fletcher, Sir Eric (Islington, E.)||Jones, J. Idwal (Wrexham)|
|Binns, John||Fletcher, Ted (Darlington)||Jones, T. W. (Merioneth)|
|Bishop, E. s.||Fletcher, Raymond (Ilkeston)||Kelley, Richard|
|Blackburn, F.||Floud, Bernard||Kenyon, Clifford|
|Blenkinsop, Arthur||Foley, Maurice||Kerr, Mrs. Anne (R'ter & Chatham)|
|Boardman, H.||Foot, Michael (Ebbw Vale)||Kerr, Dr. David (W'worth, Central)|
|Boston, Terence||Ford, Ben||Leadbitter, Ted|
|Bottomley, Rt. Hn. Arthur||Fraser, Rt. Hn. Tom (Hamilton)||Ledger, Ron|
|Bowden, Rt. Hn. H. W.(Leics S.W.)||Freeson, Reginald||Lee, Rt. Hn. Frederick (Newton)|
|Boyden, James||Galpern, Sir Myer||Lee, Miss Jennie (Cannock)|
|Braddock, Mrs. E. M.||Garrett, W. E.||Lever Harold (Cheetham)|
|Bradley, Tom||Garrow, Alex||Lever, L. M. (Ardwick)|
|Bray, Dr. Jeremy||Ginsburg, David||Lewis, Arthur (West Ham, N.)|
|Broughton, Dr. A. A, D.||Gourlay, Harry||Lewis, Ron (Carlisle)|
|Brown, Rt. Hn. George (Belper)||Greenwood, Rt. Hn. Anthony||Lipton, Marcus|
|Brown, Hugh D. (Glasgow, Provan)||Gregory, Arnold||Lomas, Kenneth|
|Brown, R. w. (Shoreditch & Fbury)||Grey, Charles||Loughlin, Charles|
|Buchan, Norman (Renfrewshire, W.)||Griffiths, David (Rother Valley)||Lubbock, Eric|
|Buchanan, Richard||Griffiths, Rt. Hn. James (Llanelly)||Mabon, Dr. J. Dickson|
|Butler, Herbert (Hackney, C.)||Griffiths, Will (M' Chester, Exchange)||McBride, Neil|
|Butler, Mrs. Joyce (Wood Green)||Grimond, Rt. Hn. J.||McCann, J.|
|Callaghan, Rt. Hn. James||Gunter, Rt. Hn. R. J.||MacColl, James|
|Carmichael, Neil||Hale, Leslie||MacDermot, Niall|
|Carter-Jones, Lewis||Hamilton, James (Bothwell))||McGulre, Michael|
|Castle, Rt. Hn. Barbara||Hamilton, William (West Fife)||Mclnnes, James|
|Chapman, Donald||Hamling, William (Woolwich, W.)||McKay, Mrs. Margaret|
|Coleman, Donald||Hannan, William||Mackenzie, Alasdair (Ross & Crom'ty)|
|Conlan, Bernard||Harper, Joseph||Mackenzie, Gregor (Rutherglen)|
|Corbet, Mrs. Freda||Harrison, Walter (Wakefield)||Mackle, George Y. (C'ness & S'land)|
|Cousins, Rt. Hn. Frank||Hart, Mrs. Judith||Mackie, John (Enfield, E.)|
|Craddock, George (Bradford, S.)||Hattersley, Roy||McLeavy, Frank|
|Crawshaw, Richard||Hazell, Bert||McNamara, J. K.|
|Cronin, John||Heffer, Eric S.||Mallalieu, E. L. (Brigg)|
|Crossman, Rt. Hn. R. H. S.||Herbison, Rt. Hn. Margaret||Mallalieu,J.P.W.(Huddersfleld,E.)|
|Cullen, Mrs. Alice||Hobden, Dennis (Brighton, K'town)||Manuel, Archie|
|Dalyell, Tam||Holman, Percy||Mapp, Charles|
|Darling, George||Hooson, H. E.||Marsh, Richard|
|Davies, G. Elfed (Rhondda, E.)||Horner, John||Mason, Roy|
|Davies, Harold (Leek)||Houghton, Rt. Hn. Douglas||Maxwell, Robert|
|Davies, Ifor (Gower)||Howarth, Harry (Wellingborough)||Mayhew, Christopher|
|Davies, S. O. (Merthyr)||Howarth, Robert L. (Bolton, E.)||Mendelson, J. J.|
|de Freitas, Sir Geoffrey||Howie, W.||Mikardo, Ian|
|Delargy, Hugh||Hoy, James||Millan, Bruce|
|Dell, Edmund||Hughes, Cledwyn (Anglesey)||Miller, Dr. M. S.|
|Dempsey, James||Hughes, Emrys (S. Ayrshire)||Milne, Edward (Blyth)|
|Diamond, Rt. Hn. John||Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.)||Molloy, William|
|Doig, Peter||Hunter, Adam (Dunfermline)||Monslow, Walter|
|Morris, Alfred (Wythenshawe)||Richard, Ivor||Thomas, Iorwerth (Rhondda, W.)|
|Morris, Charles (Openshaw)||Roberts, Albert (Normanton)||Thomson, George (Dundee, E.)|
|Morris, John (Aberavon)||Roberts, Goronwy (Caernarvon)||Thornton, Ernest|
|Mulley, Rt. Hn. Frederlck (Sheffield Pk)||Robertson, John (Paisley)||Thorpe, Jeremy|
|Murray, Albert||Robinson, Rt. Hn. K. (St. Pancras, N.)||Tinn, James|
|Neal, Harold||Rodgers, William (Stockton)||Tomney, Frank|
|Newens, Stan||Rogers, George (Kensington, N.)||Tuck, Raphael|
|Noel-Baker, Francis (Swindon)||Rose, Paul B.||Urwin, T. W.|
|Noel-Baker, Rt. Hn. Philip (Derby,S.)||Ross, Rt. Hn. William||Varley, Eric G.|
|Norwood, Christopher||Rowland, Christopher||Wainwright, Edwin|
|Oaks, Cordon||Sheldon, Robert||Walden, Brian (All Saints)|
|Ogden, Eric||Shinwell, Rt. Hn. E.||Walker, Harold (Doncaster)|
|O'Malley, Brian||Shore, Peter (Stepney)||Wallace, George|
|Oram, Albert E. (E. Ham, S.)||Short, Rt. Hn. E. (CN'c'tle-on-Tyne,C.)||Warbey, William|
|Orbach, Maurice||Short, Mrs. Renée (W'hampton,N.E.)||Watkins, Tudor|
|Orme, Stanley||Silkin, John (Deptford)||Weitzman, David|
|Oswald, Thomas||Silkin, S. C. (Camberwell, Dulwich)||Wellbeloved, James|
|Owen, Will||Silverman, Julius (Aston)||Wells, William (Walsall, N.)|
|Padley, Walter||Silverman, Sydney (Nelson)||White, Mrs. Eirene|
|Page, Derek (King's Lynn)||Skeffington, Arthur||Whitlock, William|
|Palmer, Arthur||Slater, Mrs. Harriet (Stoke, N.)||Wigg, Rt. Hn. George|
|Pannell, Rt. Hn. Charles||Slater, Joseph (Sedgefield)||Wilkins, W. A.|
|Pargiter, G. A.||Small, William||Willey, Rt. Hn. Frederick|
|Park, Trevor (Derbyshire, S. E.)||Snow, Julian||Williams, Alan (Swansea, W.)|
|Parker, John||Soskice, Rt. Hn. Sir Frank||Williams, Clifford (Abertillery)|
|Pavitt, Laurence||Spriggs, Leslie||Williams, Mrs. Shirley (Hitchin)|
|Pearson, Arthur (Pontypridd)||Steel, David (Roxburgh)||Williams, W. T. (Warrington)|
|Peart, Rt. Hn. Fred||Steele, Thomas (Dunbartonshire, W.)||Willis, George (Edinburgh, E.)|
|Pentland, Norman||Stewart, Rt. Hn. Michael||Wilson, Rt. Hn. Harold (Huyton)|
|Perry, Ernest G.||Stonehouse, John||Wilson, William (Coventry, S.)|
|Popplewell, Ernest||Stones, William||Winterbottom, R. E.|
|Prentice, R. E.||Strauss, Rt. Hn. G. R. (Vauxhall)||Woodburn, Rt. Hn. A.|
|Probert, Arthur||Stross, Sir Barnett (Stoke-on-Trent, C.)||Woof, Robert|
|Pursey, Cmdr. Harry||Summerskill, Hn. Dr. Shirley||Yates, Victor (Ladywood)|
|Randall, Harry||Swain, Thomas||Zilliacus, K.|
|Rankin, John||Swingler, Stephen|
|Redhead, Edward||Symonds, J. B.||TELLERS FOR THE NOES:|
|Rees, Merlyn||Taverne, Dick||Mr. Sydney Irving and|
|Reynolds, G. W.||Taylor, Bernard (Mansfield)||Mr. George Lawson.|
|Rhodet, Geoffrey||Thomas, George (Cardiff, W.)|