2 OCTOBER 1880, Page 3

The Home Secretary has addressed a second letter to the

Mayor of Manchester on the subject of juvenile offenders. He denies that he desired the magistrates to send no child under fourteen years of age to prison. He only called for reports on such cases, and the consequence has been that committals, ex- cept upon serious charges, have ceased, there having been only twenty-eight in the past week. The effect of the demand for reports was, therefore, to discourage the practice, which would be satisfactory, if Sir W. Harcourt had mentioned the substitute adopted by the magistrates. We fear it was acquittal. Sir William Harcourt, however, is determined on new legislation, the need for which is urgent, and mean- while the prisons will be less crowded. He repeats, we observe, his objections to heavy costs, and wishes fines to be light; but he does not suggest any way in which even light fines are to be extracted, if imprisonment is abolished. Sir W. Har- court seems to think non-payment arises principally from inability to pay, but it also arises from unwillingness. Why not allow the father to commute the fine into a reasonable chastisement of the bad boy? That is the rule in South Australia, and it is said to work well.