HC Deb 20 November 1925 vol 188 cc882-4

Amendment proposed: In page 39, line 25, at the end, to insert the words

5 Geo. IV. c. 83 The Vagrancy Act, 1824. In section four the words ''in any street, road, or public highway, or in the view thereof, or in any place of public resort."

—[Commander Eyres Monsell.]

Lieut.- Commander KENWORTHY

I want to draw the attention of the Home Secretary to this fact, that he wishes to repeal the words in any street, road, or public highway, or in the view thereof, or in any place of public resort, But on looking at the Act in question, as far as I can see, it purports to prevent the exposing of indecent pictures to the public. But what I want to call attention to is that in lines 11 and 12 are the words in any street, road, highway, or public place. There is a difference in the wording of the Act, therefore, and the wording of the Amendment, and I hope the right hon. Gentleman will look into it with his draftsman. Secondly, it is rather vague as to what is referred to. This is a well-known Vagrancy Act, and this particular Section of it deals with everything imaginable in the way of petty offences, from poaching to threatening robbery with violence and all kinds of other things. I should like to know what is meant to be referred to.


The very filthy offence of exposing the person with intent to annoy children. What I am aiming at is to remove a limitation in the. Act. At present that abominable offence, to be an offence, must occur on the public highway, and I want to remove that restriction.

Lieut.-Commander KENWORTHY

I hope the right hon. Gentleman will draw the attention of his draftsman to the other point I made.


I will look into that.

Amendment agreed to.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Bill be- now read the Third time."

Captain BENN

We have had a certain amount of discussion on this Bill, but there has been a good deal in it to which many people would take exception, and I do not think it is fitting that the Bill should pass out of the control of this House without a further opportunity being given to hon. Members to express their views on some parts of it. As regards Part 1 of the Bill, it contains a great deal that is good, and that, I think everyone will agree deserves the support of all who desire to see an improvement in the administration of justice. But I am afraid that the same meed of praise cannot be offered to other parts of the Bill. It is noticeable that in the course of the Bill some very important changes have been made, at the instance mainly of the official Opposition in this House. The Government, for instance, proposed to abolish grand juries, and, leaving the matter open to a free vote of the House, their original proposal was defeated by hon. Members, a thing which in itself throws an interesting light on what might happen in this House if Members were allowed to vote always according to their conscience instead of under the direction of the Parliamentary Secretary to the Treasury and his subordinates. Then we come to the second very objectionable Clause about the search warrants, and it is significant that the Home Secretary felt that even he, who poses as a strong man in such matters, was going a little too far, and that he was compelled, at the beginning of to-day's sitting, to withdraw the whole of that Clause.


I must remind the hon. and gallant Member that on the Third Reading we must discuss what is in the Bill, and not what might have been.

Captain BENN

I am aware of that, and it is clear that I was going beyond the strict Orders of the House in dealing with a Clause which had been omitted. I did not do it wilfully. There are other Clauses, however, left in the Bill which give rise to serious consequences. There is the Clause on which we eat sometime this afternoon dealing with the infringement—

It being Four of the Clock, the Debate stood adjourned.

Debate to be resumed upon Monday next.

The, remaining Government Orders were rend, and postponed.

Whereupon Mr. DEPUTY-SPEAKER adjourned the House without Question put, pursuant to Standing Order No. 3, until Monday next (23rd November), pursuant to the Order of the House of 16th November.

Adjourned at Two Minutes after Four o'Clock.