HC Deb 17 May 1928 vol 217 cc1303-39

I beg to move, "That this House do now adjourn."

I should like at the outset to make it perfectly clear that we have raised this discussion to-night, not because we have the slightest concern with what is known as the Money case, or the Hyde Park case. Our concern to-night is that we should take whatever steps can be taken by this House to preserve what civil liberties we still possess, and it is our duty to offer a resolute and determined opposition to anything in the nature of a Tcheka, or the Turkish system, or the Star Chamber method, or what is known in the United States of America as the third degree. Recently, as the House knows, an ex-member of a Government and a lady were acquitted after a public trial on a charge for an offence alleged to have been committed in Hyde Park, The case was stopped by the learned magistrate before the lady was called upon to give her evidence. The magistrate was so dissatisfied with the evidence for the prosecution, that he stopped the case, awarded £10 costs against the police, and made certain strictures, which are public property, as regards the action of the police. As a result of these strictures, the Home Secretary promised in this House that he would initiate an inquiry. That is the background of the case which I have to present to the House to-night.

On Tuesday of this week, about 1.50 p.m., the lady who had been tried was visited at her place of business by an Inspector Clark, and a lady police officer, who, I believe, is correctly designated as a police chaperon. Miss Savidge was taken into her employer's room, where the police inspector produced his official card, and used these words: "I would like you to accompany me to Scotland Yard with reference to the Leo Money case." Miss Savidge replied that she thought that that case had been finished. The Inspector retorted that it was important that certain matters should still be cleared up, and that it was desired that she should accompany them at once to Scotland Yard. Miss Savidge said that she wanted to go home to change into another coat. The police chaperon declared that to be totally unnecessary, and said, "Miss Savidge must come at once." She was taken in a motor-car to New Scotland Yard. The car passed within a quarter of a mile of her residence, but no attempt whatever was made to enable her to acquaint her mother with where she was going. She arrived at New Scotland Yard, according to my information, about 2.30. She was taken to a room where were Inspector Clark, Inspector Collins and Miss Wiles, the police chaperon. Miss Wiles was dismissed from the room by Inspector Clark. Inspector Clark took down the questions and answers, while Inspector Collins conducted the interrogations.

Inspector Collins began by informing Miss Savidge that the Leo Money case was not nearly finished, that the police officers who had been implicated in the case at Hyde Park were men of good character and good police records, but that their wives had to be considered. He added, "Don't tell lies to us. You have never been sworn before God. We know everything, and if you tell lies, both you and Sir Leo Money will suffer." Then they proceeded to ask her questions—entirely irrelevant questions with which I will not trouble you—about her age, about the wages she earned, and so on. Then a suggestion was put to her that she was not officially engaged to be married. She gave the name of her fiancé. Inspector Collins replied that he knew all about that; he knew who the young man was and his address. Then questions were asked her about how and when she met Sir Leo Money, and she gave the information. She was asked if she had been properly introduced to him, and she said: "Yes, she was introduced by a girl friend," whose name she gave. The police knew all that, and said so.

She was asked what she and the girl friend were doing near Albemarle Street on the night when she, Miss Savidge, was introduced by Miss Egan to Sir Leo Money, and she replied quite innocently that the two friends, she and Miss Egan, had gone to a hairdresser's premises in Albemarle Street which had been advertised as giving free treatment for permanent wave, but that they found that they had gone on the wrong day, and, after leaving these premises, they had met Sir Leo Money. The police then said that they knew all that, and that they knew more than Miss Savidge was aware of. Questions, and elaborate questions, were then put about how the two ladies and Sir Leo Money went to a cinema, where they sat in the cinema, how they sat in the cinema, and what transpired. Questions proceeded for a long time about the Astoria Hotel and about whether any presents in money or goods had ever been given to Miss Savidge; and she admitted that she had once got a present of a pair of suede gloves from Sir Leo Money at Christmas time. Questions were asked about her wardrobe and about her income. She denied any misconduct, and, to use the words in the statement, denied kissing or cuddling in the cinema, or that Sir Leo sat with his arms round her in the cinema. Then in the statement which she gave yesterday, which is a sworn deposition, she says: I got very tired of the cross-examination and let the statements go at what the officers had written down. It is to the credit of the officers—and I say this frankly—that at this period, at any rate, they offered her tea. Tea was brought in, and there was one spoon. One of the officers suggested in a very flippant and humorous way that the one spoon would do for them all, and that "Irene will spoon with me." Then the questions proceeded, half hour after half hour, about what had happened at the Astoria Hotel and what were they talking about in Hyde Park? She told them, quite frankly, that she was speaking to Sir Leo Money about her young man. Then she was asked: Where were they sitting in Hyde Park? She said she did not know, and that it was the first occasion upon which she had ever been in Hyde Park; she did not know Hyde Park at all. Then they tried to trap her about whether she had taken any wine that night at dinner. They suggested that perhaps she was a little dazed, and therefore could not remember accurately what had transpired. This she denied.

Then, Sir, I come to a part of the evidence which I will state with the greatest possible delicacy. Remember that there was no woman chaperon there, and that this is a young girl, 22 years of age, who has gone through an experience which happens to very few young women, thank God! They asked her to stand up to show the length of her dress; they asked her what was the colour of her petticoat. They made comments on her petticoat; and now I will simply read the statements which she made before her solicitors yesterday: I was then requested to give full particulars of the clothes I was wearing and what Sir Leo was wearing. They first requested me to stand up, so that they could see the length of my clothing, which I did. I gave them full particulars of the clothes which I was wearing. There was no woman present. They inquired whether I wore a petticoat, and, if so, what colour, and they made a statement that it was a very short petticoat I was wearing. I will omit the next part, only saying this, that, if as the result of this discussion the Government and the Home Secretary should find it possible to give us the proper kind of inquiry which we suggest, that evidence will be available to him immediately. Then Inspector Collins said—and I direct the attention of the Home Secretary to this— Now, you are a really good girl, and you have never had a man, have you; but there are several things one could do without really sinning. Don't be afraid to tell us, as we are looking after you. Then a demonstration—that is the only word I can use—took place. The officers sat down beside Miss Savidge and asked her for a demonstration of what had happened in Hyde Park. The officers said: "When we were young, we had a good time ourselves. We are only making these inquiries, you know, for the sake of the police officers whose conduct is being inquired into." A police officer put his arm round the girl to demonstrate how possibly Sir Leo might have been sitting.

The SECRETARY of STATE for the HOME DEPARTMENT (Sir William Joynson-Hicks)

Which officer was that?


Inspector Collins. Then her statement proceeds: The officer said, 'Now perhaps you cannot remember, but perhaps he put his hand on your knee,' and at the same time he placed his hand on my knee. He said: 'Are you sure he did not put his hand up your clothes?' I told him I was quite certain that no such act or anything approaching such an act had taken place. The officer said to me: 'As you and Sir Leo were sitting with your arms linked, isn't it possible that he took your hand and put it somewhere without you having noticed?' Then proceeded what may be called, I suppose, a practical demonstration of where her hand might have been placed. I feel very considerable delicacy in this part of the statement, and I say no more than this, that the inspector put one of the girl's hands on his thigh by way of suggesting where the girl might have put her hand during the alleged incidents in Hyde Park. She was then asked if she could not remember whether or not her legs were crossed. They tried to trap her about whether or not two police officers had come upon the scene. She repeated that only one had come at first; she said, "Officer, not officers," and the inspector replied, "Oh, all right then." All that took five hours, without any opportunity being given to the girl to be assisted by a legal adviser, and without even the woman police chaperon being present.

The girl was then released from what I can only describe as a third degree examination. She was taken home in a car. She was questioned going home in the car. I do not complain about the questions then—questions about her fathers income and about her fiancé's income. [HON. MEMBERS: "Why?"] She does not complain about those questions, and that is sufficient for me. The right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary to-day said that a telephonic communication had been sent to the mother. As a matter of fact, no telephonic communication was sent to the mother. A telephonic communication was undoubtedly sent to a nearby police station—


The mother had no telephone.


I only wanted to be correct. A plain clothes policeman called upon the mother, but not until 6 o'clock, and it was not until 8 o'clock or thereabouts that the girl got home. When she got home, she collapsed. "The officers," she said, "repeatedly warned me that I was not to say a word to anybody that I had been at Scotland Yard, or that I had made a statement, and I would never hear any more of this matter, and this was repeated to me after my arrival home." It does not end there. An attempt was made to get evidence of a similar kind from the other girl, Miss Egan, but she refused to give any evidence unless in the presence of her brother.


British bullies!


It does not end even there. An attempt has been made to elicit evidence of a similar kind in other quarters; and Inspector Collins yesterday, or this morning, informed Miss Savidge's legal advisers that they had no right to be communicated with, that he, who was conducting the inquiries, had a right to take evidence where and how he liked, and that there was no necessity for him to communicate with Miss Savidge's solicitors at all. That, Sir, is the story. I am not going to dilate upon some of the statements which the right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary used this afternoon in his answers to supplementary questions; but I observed to my surprise that in one of the London evening papers to-night there is a statement, alleged to be an official statement and alleged to be an official defence of Scotland Yard's action, in which it is said that Miss Wiles took down Miss Savidge's statement, and it has been handed to Sir Archibald Bodkin, who is now considering it. 8.0 p.m.

That statement is alleged by Miss Savidge and her advisers to be grotesquely and absurdly untrue. We have here a case which has been heard before a learned magistrate and dismissed, with £10 costs awarded against the police. An inquiry into the conduct of the police is set on foot by the right hon. Gentleman. The inquiry into the conduct of the police turns out to be an attempt by the police, using third degree methods of inquiry, to endeavour to trip up in some way or other Miss Savidge and her co-defendant in the recent police court proceedings. I will conclude by reading the letter which the solicitors for the defence sent to the right hon. Gentleman. I assume he got it this morning.

Sir W. JOYNSON-HICKS indicated assent.


They are a reputable firm of solicitors in London, and they instructed as learned counsel one who, as an hon. Member of this House, formerly sat on the benches opposite, Sir Henry Curtis-Bennett. Here is their opinion of what has happened during this week: Sir,—We are instructed by our client, Miss Irene Savidge, that on Tuesday, 15th instant, two police officers called at her place of business at New Southgate, and, without giving her an opportunity of consulting with her parents or ourselves, required her to accompany them to Scotland Yard, and there subjected her to an examination with reference to the recent prosecution of our client, Sir Leo Money, and herself. We understand that she was detained there for over five hours, and that after a searching cross-examination by two inspectors, she was then requested to sign a written statement purporting to contain the effect of her replies to the questions which were put to her. We can only express our astonishment at the conduct of the officers in question, and we shall be glad to know whether this was done by your authority. We must also ask you to be good enough to supply us with a copy of the statement in question. Every Member of this House who has any respect for civil liberty, who has any respect for our ordinary judicial system, and wishes any respect to be paid to it, must unite with us to-night in making such a demonstration of protest against these methods that these methods will never again be attempted in this country.


I beg to second the Motion.


I am sure the House would desire that I should make the statement I have to make at the earliest possible moment. May I recall to the House the manner in which this case first came before me? There was a prosecution of a gentleman who is well known to us all, who had been a colleague of mine in the House, and two police officers of perfectly good character and with a good record, one of whom had been a guardsman and left the Army with a very high character indeed—[HON. MEMBERS: "Speak up!"]—were the prosecuting witnesses against the gentleman and the lady in question. The case was dismissed, as the hon. Member has said, with some very strong observations by the magistrate, dismissed, in fact, without hearing all the evidence for the defence. The magistrate said: "It is not necessary; I dismiss the case." Quite frankly, I agree with the hon. Member who is raising this matter that the observations of the magistrate were disquieting, to say the least, to those who are responsible for the conduct of the police in this great City of ours. At once I was faced with this position. Quite naturally, there were questions in the House, and there were innuendoes—even more than innuendoes, accusations—in the Press that the police officers had been guilty of perjury. There were even suggestions in some quarters that it was the kind of thing that leads to blackmail. I accordingly, as the Minister responsible here for the administration of the police force, had to consider what line I personally should adopt.

There were several courses open to me. I could have let the thing go and done nothing. That was a course which did not enter into my mind, as the House, which knows me, will at once agree. It was then possible that I should ask the Commissioner of Police to hold a disciplinary inquiry himself into the conduct of these men. That is a course which is adopted in cases which are not of very grave importance in which an offence against the community or members of the community is claimed to have taken place. That course I dismissed. Then I might have ordered a public inquiry such as I understand is suggested at the present moment. But there was a fourth course. Reading between the lines of the Magistrate's statement, in my view the suggestion was quite clearly made that this was not a case where there could have been any bona fide mistake, he having found quite clearly and quite definitely that this gentleman and this lady were not guilty of the offence; on the other hand the witnesses for the prosecution must have been guilty of wilful and deliberate misstatements amounting to perjury. I was faced with that position. On the one hand, as I have said to the House, I am responsible for the police, and within limits it is my duty, as the Minister responsible for the administration of a great body like the police, to support them and stand up for them unless I am satisfied that they have done wrong.

I therefore took what I should think the House will agree was a wise course. I sent the whole of the papers to the Director of Public Prosecutions. He is an independent officer, not under myself. He owes allegiance to my hon. and learned Friend the Attorney-General. He has control of the whole of the public prosecutions throughout this country. It would have been quite impossible for me, as the head of the police, to conduct a prosecution for perjury against two of my own officers. I handed the matter over to him. I said, "I want you to inquire into this case, and when you have inquired and considered it, I want you to advise me; or, if you like, take your own responsibility and direct such proceedings as you think are right and as you think would lead to the conviction of the men if they have done wrong as suggested." From that moment I ceased to have personal cognisance of the matter, and it was not until after I received notice of the hon. Member's question this morning that I saw the Director myself. I am sure the House will forgive me for putting his view to the House. He takes a very strong view as to his own independence and as to his right to act entirely uncontrolled by any direction, for good or bad, by myself.

Commander BELLAIRS

Not of the Attorney-General.


Of myself; he is entirely free of any control by myself. He holds, and I think the House will agree he is right, that before he could undertake a prosecution for perjury, which is a very serious matter, involving the possibility of penal servitude and, I need hardly say, the loss of their entire position by these police officers, he must be satisfied by his own inquiries, not by mine, that there was at least a prima facie ease to go before the Courts. He therefore decided to make certain inquiries. He wrote in his own hand, he tells me, to the Commissioner of Police asking him to lend him one of his most experienced inspectors, and the Commissioner sent over—I had no knowledge of what was going on, nothing whatever to do with it—Chief Inspector Collins. Chief Inspector Collins was put in charge of the case, and certain inquiries were made. Then, as I say, I got notice this morning of the hon. Gentleman's question. In that question the hon. Gentleman accused the police of practically third degree methods. He said she had no opportunity of communicating with her parents or legal advisers; they expressly forbade her to communicate with anyone and she was taken to Scotland Yard and there questions were put to her over a period of five hours. If the hon. Member will allow me to say so, the suggestions he has made in his speech this evening as to the nature of the questions were not mentioned in that question. [Interruption.] I am not complaining, but I am going to say to the House that this was the first moment that I ever heard any suggestion of any questions of that kind.

Immediately after questions this afternoon, I sent for the Director of Public Prosecutions. As I have told the House, I do not as a rule interfere, because I have felt that I had no authority to interfere, but the suggestions were of great importance and, if hon. Members will forgive me for saying so, we are quite as much concerned for the liberty of the subject as they are. I sent at once for the Director of Public Prosecutions, and I also sent for Chief Inspector Collins and for Detective Sergeant Clark, the other one concerned in this case. I saw them personally. In view of what I am going to say later, perhaps I had better not make any observations in regard to them either on the one side or the other. I took personal statements from them myself. I thought the matter was one of absolutely vital importance, and that the Secretary of State himself should devote his whole time to trying to get to the bottom of this affair. Upon those statements I came to the conclusion that there was undoubtedly a case for inquiry. The statements made by the Inspector and the Sergeant, and by the woman inspector who was present part of the time and drove in the car with Miss Savidge, all deny in the very strongest terms most of what has been said by the hon. Gentleman.

Here, then, is raised a quite definite challenge of truth between those for whom the hon. Member has spoken here tins evening and those two police officers. It is a very serious position indeed. I do not hesitate to say that since I have been Home Secretary there has been no such case. I have had various smaller troubles in regard to police matters. The House will remember that we have had inquiries into two or three different cases, but those have not given me anything like the grave anxiety which this one has given me—still more because of the statements made by the hon. Gentleman in his speech. I do not complain for one moment of the manner in which he has presented his case. The House will allow me to say that he presented it with great moderation, and put the points very fairly before the House.

What am I to do? As I say, I have the responsibility for the control of the police. The police themselves deny quite definitely the statements made. I do not know whether the hon. Gentleman or the House may have noticed that while he was speaking and making those further accusations, which were not included in the question, accusations which, if there is any truth at all in them, are of the most damning character to the police force of the metropolis and these officers, I sent my private secretary, my Noble Friend the hon. Member for Weston-super-Mare (Lord Erskine), up to my room, where those police officers now are, and he has brought down a message from them denying altogether the statements made by the hon. Member. [Interruption.] Forgive me. I am trying to tell the House all the facts. It would be just as wrong for me to keep one side back as the other. After all, these officers are entitled to justice, just as much as, I say is quite definitely, the members of the public are entitled to justice. The hon. Member asked me in his speech if I would give a full and proper inquiry, an inquiry, I think he said, such as would be satisfactory to those concerned. If I had any doubt whatever as to the propriety of an inquiry this afternoon, I have no doubt whatever, after the statement made by the hon. Member, that it is essentially a case for a full and complete and exhaustive inquiry. I could not hold my office here for one single moment if I refused the request of the House of Commons to grant the fullest and most impartial inquiry into a case where grave allegations of this kind are made against three members of the police force.

Do remember that on the character of the Police Force depends a very great deal in the life of this great Metropolis. If it can be established for a moment that charges of this kind are true, if would be a very grave slur upon the Police Force, and it would be a slur and a disgrace from which, I do not hesitate to say, it would take them some time to recover. As the Minister responsible, I hope, from the bottom of my heart, that this inquiry will be of such a character and have such a result as will not merit that slur. On the other hand, the complainants are entitled to have that inquiry made to the uttermost. Therefore I accept the suggestion which has been made by the hon. Member for Dundee. I do not know what form the inquiry should take, but I can think of nothing better than that I should ask for the appointment of one of His Majesty's Judges to hold a full and open inquiry, and if the hon. Member or his colleagues would like to make any other suggestion as to the nature of the person or persons to hold that inquiry, I am quite willing to confer with them through the usual channels, and I should be glad to consult them in the course of to-morrow. I think hon. Members will agree that in a matter of very grave anxiety indeed I have done what I believe to be the only right thing. This is an inquiry which, I think, in the interests of the community, the whole House would desire, and in the interests of the moral and the discipline of the Police Force I desire that the inquiry should be made as quickly and as exhaustively as possible.


I am sure that the House must have listened with intense interest to the speech which has just been delivered by the Home Secretary, and all sections of the House must welcome the promise he has made with regard to the proposed inquiry. We on these benches readily accept his suggestion, accompanied by the offer he has made that there might be a consultation with those sitting on this side of the House with regard to the actual character of the inquiry. I hope the right hon. Gentleman and the Government will not limit this inquiry to the single issue that has been raised by my hon. Friend the Member for Dundee (Mr. Johnston). I am sure the Home Secretary must be aware that there has recently arisen out of various cases a growing dissatisfaction and, may I say, a withdrawing of public confidence in regard to some of the methods adopted by the Metropolitan Police? I do not say whether that is right or wrong but, as the Home Secretary said in his closing sentences, so much depends upon the public having confidence in the Metropolitan Police that we cannot afford to allow an increase in this dissatisfaction or a further withdrawal of the confidence of the public in the Police Force.

At the same time, with all due deference to the Home Secretary, I say that something more is needed than the handing over of this case to the Director of Public Prosecutions. The question of the police methods has been raised by my hon. Friend the Member for Dundee. The right hon. Gentleman appointed a Committee, and thought it wise to leave it entirely to that inquiry. But surely we have never had a case like this? Here is a young lady who is not a prisoner, and there is no suggestion that she will be a prisoner; in fact, all that is suggested is the other way, because she was discharged and exonerated, and alternately the police were put in the dock. This young lady is taken from her place of business and taken down to a room at New Scotland Yard.

Let the House remember that this is a very serious matter. Why did we insti- tute women police? Why did we appoint a Committee a few years ago to look into the work done by the women police I Why did we suggest that they should be increased in number? In this case the women police have been used for a purpose for which they ought never to have been used, and when a woman policeman ought to have been used she was actually turned out of the room in which the investigation was going to take place. If women police are to be treated like that, it is going to have a detrimental effect on the public mind as to the proper use to which women police should be put. But that is not all. It is no use suggesting to the House that this young lady did not ask for this, that, or the other, or for any assistance. I think that the Director of Public Prosecutions, if he desired to get any assistance from this young woman, ought to have written to her and made an appointment. He ought to have asked her for an appointment either at her home in the presence of her father, or else at the office of her legal advisers, who had taken part in the recent case in promoting her defence. None of these things was done.

All this hinges upon the more recent methods that seem to have crept into the police administration in the Metropolitan area. This kind of thing is not good for the police themselves, or for the whole object for which the right hon. Gentleman instituted an inquiry. The whole object of referring this case to the Director of Public Prosecutions has been completely destroyed. I think the House will agree with that view. What use is this statement now? How can the Home Secretary ask the Director of Public Prosecutions to proceed to charge these officers with perjury, and take them into any Court in this country after the statement upon which the case was going to be based has been extracted from this young lady in this way? It is absolutely useless. Now I come back to the point at which I started. The issue raised to-day is not the issue of the right hon. Gentleman having asked the Director of Public Prosecutions to do a certain thing. That may have been the right thing to do, but I think the issue with which we are now faced is the coming into our police administration of what has been characterised as third degree methods. If we are adopting such methods we ought to check them, or at least the public should be made aware of what is really involved. I hope, therefore, that the Home Secretary and the Prime Minister will both keep their minds open as to the scope of the inquiry. When we are at it, let us make it real, let us make it comprehensive, let us make it searching. Then, probably, we shall do something to restore public confidence, and, I hope, prevent any repetition of one of the most disgraceful episodes that has ever been brought to the notice of this House.

Captain O'CONNOR

It would be somewhat curious if no more voices were to be heard on a matter which is of really vital importance to so many of the people of this country, more especially as, although this is a manifestation of a feature, it is only one manifestation, I am confident, of a feature that has been creeping in and has beers causing grave suspicion in the minds of the public for some time past. I feel very grateful indeed to the right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary, and I think he has adopted the only possible and right course in acceding to the request for an inquiry. I want to go one step further, and, without being invidious in suggesting the names of persons who should take part in that inquiry, I do suggest that this is a case in which both the right hon. Gentleman and those who suggest the form that the tribunal should take should be particularly careful that, if it be a judicial one, it is constituted with, as its President, some Judge of notoriously generous feeling and wide views. It is possible, even with judicial desires and impartial minds, for Judges to have the point of view of the prosecuting counsel, and it is not impossible that a tribunal might be set up which was not as favourable to hearing evidence which tended against the police as some other tribunal that might be proposed.

The right hon. Gentleman, I think, flattered himself when he said that he was always prepared to investigate cases of perjury. He will remember, when I recall it to him, that, no more than about three years ago, I myself invited him to prosecute two police officers who gave perjured evidence against me. One officer gave evidence against me of a conversation that had occurred when, as I alleged and proved, he was not present. I invited the right hon. Gentleman, and he invited the Director of Public Prosecutions, to consider the case with a view to instituting a prosecution, but no steps were taken, although the conviction—which was a comparatively trivial one, merely for dangerous driving of a motor car—was quashed at my instance without my being called on, and although there was the evidence of both myself and my wife to prove that a case of deliberate and direct perjury had occurred upon a vital issue. That is one example of the disquieting cases that have caused many of us to press for an investigation of this character, and, from such inquiries as have been open to me, I myself have been satisfied that there is a case to be investigated in regard to these suggested "third degree" methods. I myself have known of cases which approximate to the "third degree," and I should he very pleased to give the Home Secretary, at the proper time, instances, with names, of people who have been, to my knowledge, kept at Scotland Yard for considerable periods of time while statements were being taken from them.

The matter is made worse when the reply is given that those people were probably guilty people. That does not affect it. Anyone can be generous to the innocent person; it is when a person has a murky record on some other head that it is particularly desirable that the principle of the liberty of the subject should be respected above all others. For that reason, I hope that this inquiry will be relentlessly pursued. The time is absolutely ripe for it. It may be of interest to the House to know that last year there was a suggestion of raising the question, arising out of the Good-wood conviction, which filled some of us with a certain amount of distress and lack of confidence. This matter would have been raised, and it was my intention to raise it, in this House, but I was told by sensible, serious people whom I respected, in all quarters of the House—not by way of threat, but by way of caution—"Do not dare mix up in this, because, if you do, they will get you sooner or later"; and there are serious, reasonable people in this country who are afraid to go into Hyde Park, and who really do view with apprehension the threat that, somehow or other, the police will get back at them if they attempt to enforce the ordinary rights of citizens. I think that this inquiry, once it is embarked upon, can do a great deal of good in cleaning out and purging something that is wrong in the Metropolitan Police Force.


The hon. and gallant Member for Luton (Captain O'Connor) has made a contribution to the Debate which I am sure the whole House has appreciated. Perhaps I may be allowed, as an old Home Secretary and an old Attorney-General, to say a word on the matter. Everyone sympathises sincerely with the difficult position of a Home Secretary when he is challenged and has to answer on a matter of this sort, and the right hon. Gentleman has done what we expect him to do, that is to say, he has done all that he properly could at this stage to protect the interests of public servants who cannot themselves be heard in this House, and at the same time he has proposed a method by which this very alarming situation may be investigated. I have some doubt as to whether a conclusion on this particular issue, which has been raised so clearly before the House by the hon. Member for Dundee (Mr. Johnston), could wisely be postponed until some distant date, when all investigations of a similar kind may have been embodied in a Report. I am not opposed to a wider inquiry, and I think that what the hon. and gallant Member for Luton has just said has much truth in it. The matter is not merely one of whether the Metropolitan Police are deserving of the confidence of the public; what is very nearly as important is that public opinion should be reaffirmed in the view that it can safely give it to them. Therefore, a wider inquiry may very well be right, but, if there is going to be a wider inquiry, I would venture to suggest that it should be made a specific term of the wider inquiry that this particular incident should be investigated first, and should be reported upon first. Otherwise, we shall get involved in very lengthy investigations, a great number of people who, for some reason or other, have a complaint against the police, or think that their reputation can be improved, will want to come forward and claim to help, and there will be great delay.

The other point that I would venture to make to the House and to the Home Secretary is this: I am not sure that everyone present has quite appreciated how extremely disquieting the answer is which the right hon. Gentleman has given to us now. It is one thing for him to say, "These police officers are in my room, and there are matters in the statement made which they deny"; but let us be a little precise for a moment. Is not the Home Secretary already informed and in a position to tell us that this young woman was in fact fetched from her office without any previous notice and carried off in a police car to Scotland Yard? I say to myself what I dare say many other Members say: If that had happened to my daughter, how should I feel l Although there is bound to be disputing, and will be to the end, as to some details of what passed at Scotland Yard, the thing that is so disquieting to me first of all is that the Home Secretary is not in a position, after making investigations, to deny that.

The second thing is this. This lady, I understand, was represented at the recent Police Court proceedings by a solicitor. As well as the gentleman in question, she had counsel. No doubt it is true when the case is over the counsel had finished with it, but still I am speaking in the presence of some members of the profession of the law, both barristers and solicitors; who know this thing very well. I should have thought if one was going to get a statement from this young woman in the circumstances, knowing she had just had a solicitor acting for her and that she was quite a young woman, it might have been reasonable to ring him up or communicate with him in some way and it does not give one a very pleasant impression when one finds that has not been done. [An HON. MEMBER: "The Home Secretary is in the dock!"] The Home Secretary is constitutionally responsible to the House, and I am all for holding him responsible.

The third thing which, at least to me, with such experience as I have had, was extremely disturbing is this. It is true that if you are going to take a statement from a confused witness about some distant matter that happened a long time, ago, you may perfectly honestly occupy a good deal of time in doing it, but this was dealing with a thing that had only just happened, and a thing which, right or wrong, must have been burnt into the woman's memory, and I cannot understand how it could possibly take five hours to do it. It was between one and two o'clock when she was visited and eight o'clock when she was released. We are told the officers have a good record behind them. There are other matters that they challenge. [An HON. MEMBER: "You are prejudging them!"] I am not prejudging them in the least. I have been very careful to say these three matters are undisputed and indisputable.

It is those three things that are common ground, and while I do not in the least prejudge what happened at Scotland Yard, it is a very grave thing to find that in those three respects there had been no dispute about it, and the conclusion I should have thought the House would be wise to come to would be that possibly there might be conferences between the different parties concerned, but I would at least urge that if the inquiry is general this case should be dealt with first and it should be reported first, because it wants to be done without unnecessary delay. I beg the pardon of the hon. Member who seems to think I have been prejudging the matter. I have prejudged nothing that is not admitted, but the things that do not appear to be challenged at all are so disturbing that I think the very least the Home Secretary can do is what he has frankly done and suggest an inquiry.


May I, by permission of the House, say one word. I have the statements of other people. I have a statement from a gentleman who is in the House now and who was present, one of the managers of the firm, when this young lady was asked by the sergeant to go to Scotland Yard. I felt, as there is to be an inquiry, that it would be very much better not to attempt to dispute questions of detail, but I ask the right hon. and learned Gentleman and the House generally not to assume that all the statements are accepted by me. I thought it very much better that the evidence I have in my possession should be put before whoever holds the inquiry.

Commander BELLAIRS

I congratulate the hon. Member for Dundee (Mr. Johnston) who brought this matter forward. On all the points on which the Home Secretary has replied, every one must see that the conduct of the Director of Public Prosecutions is called in question. This matter ought never to have happened. The Director of Public Prosecutions is responsible for it, and the inspector must have acted under his authority. The Attorney-General is responsible for the Director of Public Prosecutions. We are entitled to some explanation how it came about that the Director of Public Prosecutions authorised the cross-examination of this young woman for five hours. It is inconceivable to my mind how it can have happened. I come to this point. Does the inquiry under the Director of Public Prosecutions go on? Is it abandoned? I come to another point. Were there no shorthand notes taken of the proceedings during the five hours cross-examination when the Director of Public Prosecutions was not present? It is a most astounding thing and I think some explanation is due to us about the action authorised under the Director of Public Prosecutions.


Speaking with the experience I have had in the Metropolitan Police, and contact with the police service generally throughout the country, there will he nothing but warm-hearted support for the decision of the Home Secretary to have the fullest possible inquiry into the allegations that have been made. No one, I hope, will accuse me of not being a friend of the police. I have always held the view, even at the risk of my own personal popularity, that where there is wrong, particularly in the police, he would be a poor friend to the police who made any effort to close down what ought to be a thoroughpaced inquiry, and I am positive that, as the result of the Debate, at any rate we shall keep our minds open, hoping that the inquiry will sift it from beginning to end and will also deal with the system which provides either opportunities or inducements or in any way leaves the police officer an exceedingly difficult duty to do, and then after he has done it leaves the individual officer to incur the penalty of public opinion.

A great disservice has been done to the future interests of these two officers who were engaged in the original case by what has transpired. I am not going to ask the right hon. Gentleman to withdraw any possibility of a prosecution, because I feel if there had been a prosecution on lines which would have been without any question as to the propriety of the methods, it is possible the officers would have been quite prepared to take their trial in the dock. I now feel that the Director of Public Prosecutions, having come into the picture, having accepted a great measure of responsibility for the manner and the method in which the inquiries are made by those who are sent from New Scotland Yard—excellent officer of the Crown as he may be—cannot expect either Judge, jury or public opinion to take an unbiased point of view with regard to any evidence which may he tendered through the channel for which he is responsible. While I do not appeal for the prosecution to be withdrawn, I am hopeful, at any rate, that before any proceedings for perjury, if such proceedings are demanded, are taken against the two officers in question we shall have the whole atmosphere—the bad atmosphere—which has been created cleared up by the inquiry which is proceeding.

I should imagine that it will be possible, within the constitution of the inquiry that may be set up, whatever may have been the delinquency or otherwise of the officers in the case, to do the whole job and clean up the whole thing, in order that there may be no question about opportunities being presented to the officers in the case. I only rose to put that point of view. I have known considerable feeling in the service from time to time because of the opinions that have sometimes been developed by the Press, but nevertheless there is a feeling that whatever opinions one may hold nothing can be lost to the police by a public inquiry. If there is an offender in the police force against either the high standard of the force or the methods that ought to be adopted, then that individual is better out of the police force than in it. That feeling is rooted deeply in the heart of every man who is proud of the service. Although I left the service under circumstances which might have been unpopular at that time, at any rate, I am positive that the feeling which stimulated the action of many of us in endeavouring to cleanse the service from any possibility of mismanagement or impropriety and which existed then exists to-day. The Home Secretary will be supported, and I am perfectly certain that his action will be applauded by every common-sense person in the police force.


I do not intervene in the Debate except to make some suggestions. I associate myself entirely with the remarks made by the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Spen Valley (Sir J. Simon). I would point out, however, that the Home Secretary cannot do more than he has done, in saying that he will give the inquiry asked for. That he has whole-heartedly done. The only question arises: What sort of inquiry ought it to be? First and foremost, it must be quick; it must be done at once. We do not want to wait about while people consider what the general scope of the reference is to be. While this thing is in people's minds and before they can change their minds, let us get it done and finished with. If we have a general inquiry after that, that is another matter, but for heaven's sake let us get a quick, short, sharp inquiry on this particular thing and carry on the other afterwards. It is a very definite cut-and-dried case, and there ought to be no difficulty in getting at the root of the matter if it is done quickly. That is the whole thing.

As regards the nature of the tribunal, I always feel that in these cases one single Judge is rather at a disadvantage. Where it is a case of disputed evidence, as it will be in this case, the Judge, under the ordinary procedure, asks very properly for the assistance of a jury. My feeling is that the tribunal ought to consist of not fewer than three, and that it should be presided over by a High Court Judge of the nature mentioned by my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Luton (Captain O'Connor), not what we call a criminal Judge but a general Judge, a King's Bench Judge of wide experience. I think he ought to have associated with him two other men of standing and legal training who will assist him in determining issues of fact. Having said that I have nothing more to say.

Lieut.-Commander KENWORTHY

I want to ask a question of the Home Secretary before we leave this matter, and he can answer me without any sort of an inquiry at all. I wish to say, before putting this question, that I naturally associate myself with everything that has fallen from the lips of hon. and right hon. Members of the three parties. This has really become a non-party question, and I see the House of Commons for once absolutely united. At Question Time to-day, and again to-night, the Home Secretary rather led me to believe—I am a layman and he is a member of the legal profession, and will, I hope, excuse me if I have made a mistake—that once he had sent papers in a certain case to the Public Prosecutor, he, as Home Secretary, had no further jurisdiction and no further control, and that the Public Prosecutor then acted apparently entirely on his own responsibility. He could instruct the police to take a person for examination, and perhaps could raid and search a house. Apparently he had an absolutely free hand, except that nominally he is, as Public Prosecutor, answerable to the Attorney-General. Is that the case?

I see the learned Attorney-General in his place. Perhaps the right hon. Gentleman will explain what is his responsibility in this rather unusual case? Was he aware of the methods, or was he consulted or advised as to the methods that were to be used to obtain evidence in this inquiry or evidence on which a prosecution might be founded? It was a case of prosecuting apparently either two police officers or Sir Leo Chiozza Money and the young lady for perjury. One or other of the two parties must have been committing perjury. [HON. MEMBERS: "No!"] I must have misunderstood it. Then it was only a question of prosecuting the two police officers?


Quite clearly there was no probability or possibility of prosecuting Sir Leo Chiozza Money and Miss Savidge. The question was whether the police officers were de serving of prosecution. Perhaps I may answer the question put to me by the hon. and gallant Gentleman. It is quite true that it is the rule of our constitution that executives should not interfere in these matters. I handed the case over to the Director of Public Prosecutions. It was then his responsibility to conduct the case, and it would have been wrong for me—and I have never done so—to give him instructions as to the method he should adopt in carrying out his duties. He is entitled to appeal to the Attorney-General for advice if he wishes, but I, as it were, cease to have control of a case as soon as I hand it over to him.

Lieut.-Commander KENWORTHY

I am obliged to the right hon. Gentleman. The question as to who is to be prosecuted for perjury is not important. I am not asking about that at all, and I am sorry if I created an impression of that sort. The right hon. Gentleman is responsible for the use of the police, the inspectors, the detectives, the women police, and so on, because that is an executive action. The right hon. Gentleman says that as a Minister he does not rant to interfere with the judiciary, but does the Public Prosecutor act with a judicial function? If so, who gives the executive orders to the police? For example, suppose the Public Prosecutor at any time has a case sent to him by the Home Secretary arising out of some lawsuit. Does that empower him to search the house of anybody and to take anybody to Scotland Yard? Was the Attorney-General consulted?

The Attorney-General is a Law Officer of the Crown, does he accept any responsibility in the matter? I am anxious, as a private Member who has had no legal training, that these points should be cleared up. Probably 999 people out of every 1,000 people have had no legal training, and they will desire that these points should be cleared up, because they are also disquieted, as we are. What are the powers of the Public Prosecutor, and to whom is he responsible? Apparently, Sir Archibald Bodkin did not see the Home Secretary or give him any account of his action. I should like to say to the Home Secretary that that state of affairs will not be tolerated. We cannot have even a Public Prosecutor above Parliament, above the Cabinet, above the law, when to his hand he has the well-disciplined and generally excellent body, the Metropolitan Police, who have to obey his orders. These points must be cleared up, and I would ask for enlightenment, if possible, from the Attorney-General on a matter of great importance.


I think the Home Secretary takes too narrow and too technical a view of his position. It seems to me that the Director of Public Prosecutions and the Attorney-General are responsible for the conduct of the prosecution, but the Home Secretary remains responsible for the conduct of the police, whether there is to be a prosecution or not. Nothing can remove the responsibility that lies on him for seeing that the policemen act correctly. He has nothing to say as to whether there shall or shall not be a prosecution or as to what steps shall be taken for the conduct of the prosecution, but he always remains responsible for any acts of the policemen, as policemen, during a prosecution, as he is when there is no prosecution. My right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Spen Valley (Sir J. Simon) dealt with three points with a clearness which satisfied the House. The question that remains is, what is to be the character of the tribunal that will hold the inquiry. It is rather a difficult and delicate matter for a barrister to make any remark about Judges, but here is a case where we know there will be on one side two police officers and one policewoman, and on the other, a girl. It is most important that those who are conducting the inquiry should be removed from all possible suspicion of having a leaning towards the acceptance of police evidence. Magistrates and Judges in criminal cases are every day having their opinions formed by what policemen swear, and they find, or I will assume they find in the great bulk of cases that they are reliable witnesses, and that may create an unconscious bias in favour of police evidence. Therefore, I am sure that the public would be better satisfied if those who sit on that inquiry are felt to have no connection whatsoever with the police, had never heard police evidence and would simply be actuated by a view which would make police evidence stand on exactly the same footing as that of anybody else. I am sure the Home Secretary will study the question with a view to meeting these points.

9.0 p.m.


There are certain matters which arise out of this case which still remain to be cleared up. It is true that we have been promised an inquiry with regard to what actually happened when this unfortunate woman was taken to Scotland Yard, but I would like to know, in the first place, by what authority anyone had a right to go to interview this woman. Very little has been said about that. As the right hon. and learned Member for Spen Valley justly said, all the earlier parts of this unfortunate affair are really beyond dispute. By what authority, then, did the police go to see this woman? She was not suspected of committing any crime; she was not a person who was liable to be charged with perjury. She was a person who, if the magistrate is to be believed, had been doubly wronged. For all we know she may herself have been contemplating an action against these police for false imprisonment, and she may have consulted her solicitor with a view to enforcing her legal rights for the wrong which these police have done to her. How is it that in the circumstances of this woman, who would be rather a complainant than a suspected person, the police went to her place at all?

I cannot help thinking that some confusion has arisen as to the functions of the Director of Public Prosecutions and the police in this matter. I have been for a short time a Law Officer, and I have some knowledge, though not very deep, of the way in which these matters proceed. I understand that the Director of Public Prosecutions says, and very properly: "Before I can decide whether I will enter upon a prosecution I must have the evidence put before me." The evidence is put before him, and, as an experienced criminal lawyer, he says: "Having this or that evidence before me, I can decide whether or not I will bring a prosecution." I never understood that it was any part of the function of the Director of Public Prosecutions to say what methods were to be employed in order to obtain the evidence. The whole complaint here, as I understand it, is not that the Public Prosecutor might have written a letter to this lady, as any lawyer might, who wished to get evidence in a case, and have said: "May I visit you, or may someone on my behalf visit you, quietly, in your own residence, and will you please say what you have to say?"

The complaint is as to the method by which the evidence was extracted and the manner in which this woman was handled. Those are matters for the police; those are matters for the Home Office, and I am not at all satisfied that the Director of Public Prosecutions had anything to do with this action at all. It has been left in such a confused way that I believe the public on reading this Debate to-morrow will get the idea, which may be a true one, although I do not think it is, that the Director of Public Prosecutions authorised this lady to be taken in a cab to Scotland Yard, authorised a five hours examination and authorised all the other things of which we are complaining.


Very likely he did.


My hon. Friend says that very likely he did. At any rate, that impression has been created. If the Director of Public Prosecutions did authorise it, then we ought to know it. If, on the other hand, as I believe from my knowledge of the way in which these things are done, the police did it, then that ought to be clearly stated. We do not know at the moment how much responsibility the Public Prosecutor took in the matter, but I find it very difficult to believe that the Public Prosecutor, whatever anybody may say, did give minute directions as to the way in which this evidence was to be obtained. I believe it was done by Scotland Yard, and the Home Secretary is the Minister responsible. He cannot avoid his responsibility by saying that the matter has passed to the Director of Public Prosecutions and that he has no further responsibility. Therefore, on this point at any rate we are entitled to some information. The real fact of the matter is this, that we have seen during this Parliament in particular more and more power going to the Executive as against the private citizen. We have found it in Bill after Bill, and in one way after another the theory has been advanced that the Executive have rights which are denied to the private individual. With such knowledge of constitutional law as I possess, I say that the Home Secretary, the Director of Public Prosecutions and the police, had no more right to interrogate that woman than any private citizen.


The hon. and learned Member will kindly address the Chair.


I say that the Director of Public Prosecutions and the Home Office had no more right to ask that lady what she had to say, in order to enable them to decide whether they would prosecute the policemen concerned, than any private litigant who was proposing to prosecute the policemen. There is a growing belief in certain places that the Government have a right to interrogate, investigate and arrest in a way which is denied to the private citizen and, therefore, if for no other reason, I protest against all the things which were done in this case. I say nothing as to what actually happened at Scotland Yard, but I say that there is common ground for declaring that what is already admitted to have happened is most serious and most disquieting. I join with other hon. Members in thanking the Home Secretary for promising an inquiry, and I hope that in considering the personnel he will also consider the scope of the proposed inquiry and should consider whether we can tolerate public officials abrogating to themselves rights which are denied to private citizens.


I only rise for the purpose of pressing three points on the attention of the House. The Home Secretary has quite properly said that he feels it to be his duty to defend police officers under his control. That defence will clearly involve considerable expenditure of public money, and so far as the police officers are concerned, it will afford them no trouble whatever. But what about the unfortunate family associated with this unhappy girl? Already they have been involved in considerable expense. I would remind the House that during the hearing of the case by the magistrate, it was pointed out that one of the disquieting features was that whilst a rich person might escape because he is able to employ learned counsel, at some expense, the working class person would be found guilty because he is unable to employ learned counsel. In this particular case considerable expense has already been incurred, and clearly much more expense will be involved if a public inquiry is held. I want to ask the Home Secretary whether in such a public inquiry, involving learned counsel on either side, the expenditure incurred by the complainants will be met out of public money as will be the case of learned counsel employed for the purpose of defending the police officers. I think we are entitled to some enlightenment from the right hon. Gentleman on that point.

My second point is with regard to the functions of the police officers concerned. A charge of a serious nature has been brought against them. It is true that they have not been found guilty, but in the meantime it is quite proper to request that they should be suspended from duty. Surely the right hon. Gentleman does not propose to permit these police officers to continue their duties whilst this serious charge is hanging over their heads? Obviously the girl will be suspended from her duties. She cannot resume her employment. I wonder what will be the economic implications of her trial yesterday? It is very difficult for a girl in such a case to resume her employment. The finger of scorn is pointed at her by her associates, and the statements made in the House to-day will be associated with her. I deplore that, as I am sure every hon. Member will deplore it also, but we all know what happens in such cases, and I think we are entitled to ask that the police officers concerned shall he suspended from duty.

My third point is with regard to the astonishing silence of the Attorney-General during this Debate. He was not so silent when the case of a certain Mr. Campbell was under consideration in 1924. I recall also that Sir Archibald Bodkin was then the Director of Public Prosecutions, as he is now. There is an atmosphere created by the presence of this gentleman that is somewhat disturbing, and the Attorney-General ought to rise in his place and tell the House whether he was aware of the intentions of the Director of Public Prosecutions before these police officers were sent on this unworthy mission. The Home Secretary has told us that he accepts no responsibility for the Director of Public Prosecutions: he passes it on to the shoulders of the Attorney-General. In that case it is quite proper to ask the Attorney-General to defend the Director of Public Prosecutions for the wanton act which was committed yesterday, and about which no inquiry is necessary. I join with other hon. Members on this side and below the Gangway in the observation that whatever inquiry may be called for in respect of the statements made at this Box, or the case which forms the basis of these observations, no inquiry is called for in respect of the precipitate and premature action of the Director of Public Prosecutions. The Attorney-General is the person responsible, and he must either at this stage or some future occasion answer for the deeds of his subordinate. I think we are entitled to some information from the Home Secretary or the Attorney-General in respect of these matters.

The ATTORNEY - GENERAL (Sir Thomas Inskip)

If there is going to be—as there is—a judicial inquiry into the matters connected with the examination of Miss Savidge, it is most desirable, in my opinion, that individual Members should not express their views as to the truthfulness of the statements made by one party or the other. There is nothing more likely to make the result of a judicial inquiry unsatisfactory than attempts by hon. Members to prejudge the issues. I shall therefore refrain from saying a single word upon any of the matters which have been brought in charge against any of the police officers concerned. My right hon. Friend the Home Secretary replied to the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Spen Valley (Sir J. Simon) in terms with which I am sure the right hon. and learned Gentleman would not quarrel. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Spen Valley expressed the view that certain matters were not in dispute, and he expressed some concern that those matters were apparently admitted. My right hon. Friend the Home Secretary said enough to indicate to the right hon. Gentleman and the House that the whole of the truth has not yet been disclosed, as to some, at any rate, of the matters referred to by the right hon. Gentleman. I repeat that warning. I say no more about these matters, because they are, with the consent and at the request of hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite, to be the subject of a judicial inquiry. That is enough for that aspect of the case.

The hon. Member for Linlithgow (Mr. Shinwell) has, for some reason best known to himself, sought to make me the object of some charge. Of what precisely that charge is I am ignorant. The hon. Member imported into this case a matter which I thought he would have been better to forget, namely, the Campbell case. The difference between the Camp- bell case and this is that in the Campbell case, as we all recollect, certain instructions were at first given by the Attorney-General and then withdrawn. I will not enter into the circumstances in which they were withdrawn. In this case the Attorney-General has not yet given any instructions. As Attorney-General, I have not been asked to give any instructions. It is not usual for the Director of Public Prosecutions to ask the Attorney-General for instructions as to prosecution in a case in which the evidence has not yet been obtained. The duty of the Director of Public Prosecutions is to make such inquiries as a person appointed to discharge his responsibilities must be trusted to make. When be has ascertained the nature of the case from the investigation which he is properly charged and trusted to make, he will obtain, and does obtain in proper course, the directions of the Attorney-General. For the moment, I happen to be the Attorney-General and when I am asked to give directions and have given them, those directions will not be subject to the interference of any executive officer. That is the difference between this case and what happened in the case to which the hon. Member refers.


The hon. and learned Gentleman has forgotten one point of substance, and that is that in this important case—with which the right hon. Gentleman beside him was very much concerned—he was absolutely ignorant of what was going on and that his subordinate, the Director of Public Prosecutions, took an action which might have involved the Government in considerable difficulties without consulting him.


The hon. Member is still apparently unable to appreciate the duties either of the Director of Public Prosecutions or of the Attorney-General. The Director of Public Prosecutions—I repeat for the information of the hon. Member—has the duty of making proper inquiries into the case which is entrusted to him. [HON. MEMBERS: "Proper inquiries!"] If he makes improper inquiries, or uses improper methods, that is a matter for which the Director of Public Prosecutions or any officers under him will be prepared to answer. [HON. MEMBERS: "To whom?"] In this House. [HON. MEMBERS: "Through you?"] Certainly, but the hon. Member who last spoke appeared to be making some point, which I still fail to understand, against me for not giving directions in a case which is not ripe for my decision. The hon. Member will be pleased to understand that when the Director of Public Prosecutions has obtained the evidence which he thinks necessary to enable a decision to be arrived at, he will then seek my direction. Up to that point it is for the Director of Public Prosecutions to use his discretion. I will say no more about the way in which the Director of Public Prosecutions exercised his powers in this case, because those are the very matters which are to be submitted to judicial inquiry.


In view of the pledge given by the Home Secretary that there will be a full inquiry in a form as to which he will consult with my right hon. Friend the Member for Burnley (Mr. A. Henderson) and other Members on this side and in all parts of the House, I beg to ask leave to withdraw the Motion.

Several HON. MEMBERS rose


I am bound to put that Question to the House. Is it the pleasure of the House that the Motion be withdrawn?





Does the right hon. Gentleman object?


I only rise to ask a question of the Home Secretary. If the police are represented by counsel in this inquiry, obviously Miss Savidge and Sir Leo Chiozza Money will also find it necessary to be represented by counsel. The inquiry may take some time and may be a very expensive proceeding. The fees of the police counsel will be borne by the Treasury—by the public—and would it not be fair, especially having regard to the fact that this young lady has not means, that her counsel should also be provided at the public expense?


I also wish to ask a question. The women who read this Debate will be very disquieted with regard to their safety from police methods. Is it not possible for the Home Secretary and the Attorney-General jointly to give an assurance to the country that from now—from half-past nine o'clock to-night—no man or woman will be dragged away by police officers in this irresponsible manner, for any examination or investigation?


May I also ask if, when the statement was obtained from the lady in question, a copy of it was given to her? I should also like to know what was the method of getting the statement. I remember when I was 11 or 12 years of age signing a statement covering many foolscap sheets, of which I only signed the last sheet. Is it the case that when a statement has been extracted from any person forcibly or has been given voluntarily, the person concerned gets a copy of the statement so as to refresh his or her memory later on; and is it the case that only the last page is signed, making it possible for other pages to be substituted?


The suggestion has been made in the course of this Debate that these police officers should be suspended pending an inquiry. May I ask, before acceding to that suggestion, that he should consider seriously whether it would not be unjust to suspend anyone from their duty before they have been proved to be at fault.


As one who believes that this House exists to defend the liberties of the citizens of this country, I am surprised that neither the Home Secretary nor the Attorney-General has denounced the manner in which this girl was taken to Scotland Yard. I believe that it is an invasion of the rights of the citizens of this country and that we ought to protest against it.


I will put my point in two sentences, and it is directed to my friends on the Front Bench below me as well as to the right hon. Gentleman opposite. It is in regard to the composition of the court of inqury. I would draw the attention of the Home Secretary to the fact that throughout the country, though there is great confidence in our Judges, there is a feeling that, even so far as the highest Judges are concerned, in the last resort they tend to lean towards the Executive. I would like this point to be borne in mind when this inquiry is considered.


In regard to the latter question, I have told my right hon. Friend opposite that I will consult him on the terms of the inquiry, and I hope that my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Spen Valley (Sir J. Simon) will be willing to help us. I should be glad to have a meeting with him, and we might discuss the terms of reference. With regard to the Commissioners who will hold the inquiry, I think it undesirable to discuss that point now, but I will discuss it with my two right hon. Friends.


With regard to the proposed tribunal, I would seriously suggest that a woman should be a member. There is a woman at stake, and more than half the population is of the female sex.


I think it undesirable at the moment to go further than I have done. I will discuss it with the right hon. Gentlemen opposite. With regard to the point raised by the right hon. Gentleman for Carnarvon Boroughs (Mr. Lloyd George), he will understand that I cannot give a definite answer without consulting the Treasury, but I will put it before them with a great deal of sympathy. With regard to the question asked about the statement made by Miss Savidge at Scotland Yard, that statement was signed by her and initialed by her on every one of the pages.


Was she given a copy?


She was not given a copy. Her solicitors have written asking for one, and they will, of course, get one.

Commander BELLAIRS

In whose possession is it now?


Here, in my possession. A suggestion was made that I should rise in my place and denounce the way the lady was dragged—


I did not say "dragged."


I have thought it was desirable, as these statements have been made openly, that should read a paper containing the statement made by one of the welfare workers of the firm who was present on the occasion, and then I will ask the House to let me close, from the political point of view, the discussion in this matter, and let it be referred to a Committee. The statement is as follows: On Tuesday, 15th May, about 1.50 p.m., Detective-Sergeant Clark called at the works at which Irene Savidge was employed. Detective-Sergeant Clark asked to see her. He did not ask for her at the works, but asked the welfare worker if he might see Miss Savidge. She was called into my office, where the officer asked her to go to Scotland Yard, where the inquiries were to be held. He suggested she should accompany him in the car. Miss Savidge said she was willing to go. I put the question to her whether she was quite wiling. She replied she was quite willing. No pressure was put upon her. She got her hat and coat, and left the works accompanied by a lady officer. I was present the whole time, and no request was made by her to be allowed to see anyone.'


If she had refused, what would have taken place?


After the statements that were made I thought it only right that that statement should be made.


Am I not entitled, on behalf of the liberty of the individual, to an answer to my question.


The hon. Member will forgive me. I am nearly closing what I have to say.


I asked you a question which you would not answer. It is not fair.


Order, order!


I have spoken on the matter to the House more than I ought to have spoken. I have desired to answer every legitimate question. The matter has now got beyond the Parliamentary stage; the matter has got to the stage of a really solemn and important examination.


Were the police entitled to bring that lady, if she refused to go?


Most certainly not. The statement is absolutely unjustified from every point of view. They have no power to do it. I would now ask the House to allow the Motion to be withdrawn.

Question, "That this House do now adjourn," put, and negatived.