The Cane

Parents could be jailed if they took Mr Butler’s advice, says Labour MP

By Daily Mail Parliamentary Correspondent

cuttingPARENTS can be sent to prison if they take the advice of the Home Secretary to chastise their children, a lawyer M.P. claimed in the Commons yesterday.

Mr Leslie Hale (Lab., Oldham West) was protesting at a speech made by Mr R.A. Butler to the Conservative women’s conference last week.


He told the Prime Minister:

“While we realise that with customary vagueness Mr Butler did not say which end of the belt was to be used to which end of the child — or which end it was intended to reform — this is recommending an offence against the Children and Young Persons’ Act, 1933, for which people have been sent to prison.

While we appreciate that there is a difference of opinion among people of decent feeling on corporal punishment and the value of leather belts — and tea, veal and ham pie, and provincial newspapers — Mr Butler might get some lessons on the pernicious effect of the whip.”

Mugshot of L.Hale MPBoth Mr Macmillan and Mr Butler chuckled at this. Then the Prime Minister said: “I have never been Home Secretary or Minister of Education.

“Therefore my experience is entirely on the receiving end in this matter. Judging by certain aspects, it might be said to be not altogether unsuccessful.”

Mr Macmillan said that all Mr Butler had meant was that there was a strong feeling in favour of “disciplinary measures” applied in school or in the home immediately after an offence — “without all the paraphernalia and formality of police court proceedings and long delay.”


He added: “And the Government support him.”

Earlier Mr Kenneth Lewis (Con., Rutland and Stamford) complained that some education authorities forbade headmasters and teachers to use the cane.

Sir David Eccles, Minister of Education, said: “I think this is a matter which one should leave to the local education authorities’ discretion.

“In fact, good discipline in the schools, which is very necessary, is largely a matter for the head teacher. If the Head thinks the use of the cane is one method I hope he will be supported.”