Birching of Young Offenders

Mr. Godfrey Nicholson (for Viscountess Astor) asked the Home Secretary if his attention had been drawn to recent cases where punishments of birching had been inflicted on boys before the expiration of the statutory period during which the decisions might be appealed against; if he was aware that two boys, aged 12 years each, were ordered at the Southport Children’s Court, on April 13, to receive six strokes of the birch each, and that the same two boys were on April 19 again ordered six strokes of the birch each for an offence committed before the former one; and whether, in view of these and similar cases, he would introduce a Bill to abolish birching as a punishment for young persons on the lines of the original draft of the Children’s Bill in 1932.

Sir J. Gilmour. — I am not aware of any requirement in law to delay the carrying out of an order of a court of summary jurisdiction for the whipping of a boy, as suggested in the first part of the question. On the contrary, the Summary Jurisdiction Act, 1879, provides that the whipping shall be administered as soon as practicable. My attention has been called to the Southport case and I am informed by the Justices that they only resort to whipping on the rarest occasions and with the utmost reluctance. The answer to the last part of the question is in the negative.