Thursday, 11 August 2011

The 1961 Hansard trawl, featuring lots of law 'n' order and leaving presents for Sierra Leone and Cyprus.

Looking at the last sitting in August 1961, I saw that 'crimes of violence' and 'juvenile delinquency' were at issue, with the latter debate being opened by the MP for Tottenham....

As to the first topic, take it away, David James MP for Brighton Kemptown:

"There is no doubt at all that the fivefold increase in crimes of violence which have taken place since the war gives grave cause for apprehension to many defenceless people".

So, it would appear the rot set in before the end of the Chatterley ban and so forth.

A rather perceptive comment:

 "An American judge recently said in New York: The philosophy of responsibility has been replaced by the philosophy of excuse. Under this new concept all criminals, young and old, are sick people and far from seeing in their criminal actions anything for which the offenders are responsible, we are told to learn to recognise in criminality the existence of something for which society alone is responsible. He concluded At this juncture, when teenage crime is of such general concern, it would be fruitful for our civilisation to reaffirm a philosophy of responsibility and cut down the philosophy of excuse to proper size.
And his modest proposal:

"I am sorry as an English Member to run a hare on my own, but I am a West Highlander by birth and my home is on the Island of Mull. I should like to see the concept of the penal colony revived. I believe that we are far more inhumane than were our predecessors. It is true that in the last century we had Botany Bay to which we could send people, but I accept with considerable reluctance that it might be necessary occasionally to send a man to prison for forty-two years".

It is alleged that in the Western Isles of Scotland, in which I am particularly interested in this respect, we should not be able to recruit staff to look after prisoners. My answer as a Western Highlander is not that people want to leave that lovely part of the world, but that they have to do so because employment is not provided there. The islands of Eigg, Rum, Muck, Canna and Scalpa have an acreage of 49,100 acres and being surrounded by sea there would be no possibility to escape from them. The population there in 1821 was 1,620 but now it is only 130. It seems to me that, both in humanity and as part of a general exercise to make the West Islands more viable, this would be well worthy of further investigation.

A rather entertaining sidetrack:

Charles Fletcher-Cooke.....One of our difficulties is know how to distinguish that class of criminals who have been referred to as psychopaths. The definition in the Mental Health Act is as good as we can get, although it has been gravely criticised in some quarters as being too restrictive. It has been suggested that Joan of Arc, Napoleon and Lawrence of Arabia were psychopathic personalities. Lord Goddard, although in not so many words, recently said something to the effect that we are all psychopaths now.

Mr. Fletcher Joan of Arc was schizophrenic.

Mr. Fletcher-Cooke She may have shown signs of dementia praecox, but I do not wish to go into the diagnosis of Joan of Arc. The definition in its limited sense in the Act has, I think, commanded respect, but even within that limited definition there is the grave difficulty of identifying the individual psychopath.

 There went their chances of a distinction of the legion d'honneur..

And so to juvenile delinquency.

This is a surprise:

The Daily Mail has fought hard in the battle to end the imprisoning of children, which a year ago it so rightly described as a stepping stone to a rake's progress and a system which meant that children were bundled together with possibly hardened criminals, and a system which should he smashed. I thank the Daily Mail for its powerful support. The system has now been smashed and it has played a major part in achieving the victory.

Maybe, just to ring the changes, the left should mock the Mail for that rather than its pre-war enthusiasm for Hitler.

Frankly bizarre generalisation o' the day:

Mr. Brown.... I assure the House from my own experience that there is nothing wrong with British youth today; they are intelligent and of good physique, and they display qualities of courage and fortitude to a markedly high degree. 

Brown's story is interesting - he was elected as Labour, went indy, then took the blue whip in 1962.  He hanged himself in 1972, having since re-joined Labour. 

Back at the plot:

Mr. Crowder ...I would also like to empower probation officers to have the right to take anybody in their care round a prison. Let some of these youths see the inside of a prison for a couple of hours, for the first time in their lives, and it will have a great effect upon them.

Equally, we have a problem with juveniles on the roads. Many of these young men are earning £10, £12 or £15 a week. Very often some of their money is spent on alcohol.
And more from Crowder:

 But has the hon. Gentleman been to a juvenile court and seen how parents are treated? They are paraded in front of the magistrates with their children standing in front of them. Time and again I have seen magistrates literally tick off the parents in front of the children. Such a practice is rather like ticking off officers in front of men in the Army. It is wholly undesirable. The parents should sit apart from their children, because the inevitable result of the present practice is that the child feels that his parents are standing behind him and backing him up in the crime for which he has been brought before the court. I should like to see a marked change in the present practice.

Interesting, no?

And so to corporal punishment:

    I know that the Government are not so minded, but I cannot see why magistrates could not be empowered to impose corporal punishment in the form of the cane on juvenile delinquents. I say that for the simple reason that it hurts, and they do not like it. It is a deterrent, and it does not do very much harm if it is not applied too forcibly.

    § Mr. W. Griffiths (Manchester, Exchange)

    The hon. Gentleman is a friend of mine. How on earth can he say that? There is no evidence that flogging or hitting people is a deterrent and reduces crime.

    § Mr. Crowder

    I cannot today produce evidence to show that it makes any difference, but I do not think that anybody will disagree with me when I say they do not like it.

    § Mr. A. R. Wise (Rugby)

    There is some evidence. The most expensive system of education in the world is based on it.

    § Mr. Griffiths

    What a lot we have here.
But enough of law and order.

What does one give as a leaving gift to an ex part of the Empire?:

Mr. Gaitskell asked the Prime Minister what proposals will be made to this House for a gift from the House of Commons to the Parliament of Sierra Leone, to commemorate the achievement of that country's independence on 27th April, 1961.

The Prime Minister Her Majesty's Government propose that Mr. Speaker should, on behalf of this House, present a mace to the House of Representatives of Sierra Leone in commemoration of the attainment of independence by Sierra Leone and with our best wishes for the future prosperity of her Legislature and people.

History does not recall whether Milton Margai was offered  a chloice between a big metal stick and cold hard cash. 

More of the same:

    Mr. Skeet asked the Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations whether it is the intention of the United Kingdom Government to make a gift to the Government of the Republic of Cyprus to commemorate the attainment by that country of her independence on 16th August, 1960.

   Mr. Sandys Yes. We propose making a presentation of a silver table centrepiece which could be used on formal State occasions.

History does not record etc etc.

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