§ 8.3 p.m.
§ Mr. DINGLE FOOT
I beg to move, in page 1, line 10, to leave out Subsection (1).
The Amendment is to leave out the whole of the Sub-section which makes the possession of documents in certain circumstances a criminal offence. We now come to the most controversial part of what remains of the Bill. As has been pointed out in speeches on the Floor of the House and Upstairs, and also outside the House, it is impossible to say what documents or books may or may not have this particular influence upon a soldier's mind. Books may be perfectly innocent in themselves, but excerpts taken in a certain way from those books and used in a certain way may have this particular effect upon the minds of the troops. I suggest—and I shall be corrected if I am wrong by the right hon. 272 and learned Gentleman—that the offence which it is here proposed to create is one which is either unique or very nearly unique in our criminal law. If I may take one analogy, there has been a good deal of discussion during the proceedings on the Bill about obscene publications, and the analogy of obscene publications has frequently been quoted. In the case of a man who possesses obscene publications, even if he possesses them with intent to publish, as is contemplated under this particular Sub-section, it is not an offence at the present time. That was very clearly laid down in the case of Dugdale against the King in which Mr. Justice Coleridge said:The law will not take notice of the intent without an act. Possession is no such act.In this case, possession is made such an act, and we are placing the man who comes within the scope of the Bill in a worse position than the man who happens to be possessed of obscene publications with intent to publish them. There are 273 very few cases in our existing law where possession unaccompanied by any overt act is in itself an offence. I admit that there are one or two instances, such as having in your possession counterfeit coin, knowing it to be counterfeit and with intent to trade. The same thing applies to forged bank notes and to the possession of the instruments of forgery. Being found in possession of housebreaking instruments without being able to give a reasonable explanation or without lawful excuse is also an offence, and there is an offence created by the Official Secrets Acts of 1911 and 1920, such as retaining official documents after you have been requested to redeliver them and retaining the possession of dies or seals or stamps used by Government Departments without the authority of those Departments.
Those are the existing cases where mere possession, unaccompanied by an overt act, at present constitutes a criminal offence, but I submit that they provide no parallel and no precedent for the offences which it is here proposed to create, because in each case there is a very strong presumption of fact that the possession is for an unlawful purpose. If I am found at night carrying a jemmy or some other house-breaking instrument, there is at any rate a presumption that I am going to use it for an unlawful purpose, but in this case there is no such presumption, because we are dealing with books and documents which in many cases may be used just as well for an innocent purpose as for an unlawful purpose. It is not necessary—and I ask the attention of the hon. Members to the actual words of this Sub-section—that the documents themselves should have the effect of seducing members of the Forces from their allegiance, or that they would be likely to have that effect. It is only necessary that copies of these documents would be likely to have that effect. I would call the attention of hon. Members to the distinction there made between the originals and the copies. I may have in my possession a book which, if it were shown to a soldier, would not in itself produce any particular effect upon his mind. But I might be able to cull certain paragraphs from it und to copy them out, and they might produce this particular effect, and, if the court who tried me decided that I owned that book with 274 intent to commit an offence under Clause 1, then I should be guilty of an offence.
I am going to suggest that there is no real parallel for this Sub-section in English law. The nearest parallel which I have been able to discover occurs not in the English criminal law, but in the Penal Code of Soviet Russia. I have here the Russian Penal Code, and Article 58, Sub-section (10) reads as follows:Propaganda or agitation containing an appeal to overthrow, undermine or weaken the Soviet authority or to commit individual counter-revolutionary crimes … or the dissemination, preparation or possession of literature containing such matter, entails —deprivation of liberty for a period of not less than six months.I am a little puzzled as to why we have this Soviet and Bolshevist legislation brought forward by the present Administration in this country. I can scarcely believe that either the right hon. and learned Gentleman or the hon. and learned Gentleman, as Law Officers of the Crown, would be responsible for anything of that kind, or even that the Service Departments would deliberately take their model from Soviet Russia. The only conclusion to which I can come is that we have to look higher still, and some of my hon. Friends above the Gangway have occasionally been unjust to the Prime Minister when they have suggested that he has forgotten all his early teaching and his old principles. I have here a quotation from a publication of the right hon. Gentleman the Prime Minister in 1919. These were the words he used in that year:The Russian Revolution has been one of the greatest events in the history of the world, and the attacks that have been made upon it by frightened ruling classes and hostile capitalism should rally to its defence everyone who cares for political liberty and freedom of thought.It is now possible to understand why it is alleged by certain of those who defend the Bill that it is really an enlargement of liberty. Certainly, I agree that it is an enlargement of political liberty and freedom judged by the standards of Soviet Russia. It is because I think that the majority of this House have a different standard that I ask them to exorcise these words to-day. May I remind hon. Members who served on the Committee of an Amendment which was moved upstairs, because I think the rejection of that Amendment throws some 275 light on the true nature of the Sub-section? Upstairs my hon. Friend the Member for Colne Valley (Mr. Mallalieu) moved an Amendment to add the words:Provided that no person shall be guilty of an offence under this Sub-section, unless the court is satisfied that the said document was contrived, written, or printed for the purpose of seducing any member of His Majesty's Forces from his duty or allegiance to His Majesty.That would have limited the scope of the Sub-section to publications produced for that particular purpose. If that Amendment had been accepted, it would have meant that, all the fears which have been expressed by a great many people in different walks of life outside this House about the effects of the Bill would have been, at any rate, modified. Probably their fears would have been shown to have been groundless, because ordinary books that any of us might have in our library would have been absolutely privileged from any prosecution under the Act if an Amendment of that kind had been accepted. But the Amendment was not accepted. It would have been possible, by putting in words of that kind, to confine the operation of this Sub-section to the sort of publications about which we have been told by the right hon. and learned Gentleman. It would have been possible to deal with publications like "The Soldiers' Voice" and "The Red Signal," and any other propaganda or leaflet that might be used by the Third International or any other organisation in attempting to interfere with the loyalty of the troops. On the other hand, there can be no question at all of anybody's library being in danger as suggested by those who have spoken on this Bill. There has been a certain amount of discussion this afternoon as to what has been said by the law officers on former occasions as to the purposes of the Bill. I would remind hon. Members—for I do not think that these words have been actually quoted yet—of one particular passage in the speech of the Solicitor-General on the Second Reading of the Bill. He said:Looked at broadly, this Bill is, in a sense, a procedure Bill, rather than a Bill in any way altering the substance of our law." —[OFFICIAL REPORT, 16th April, 1934: col. 848, Vol. 288.]With great respect to the Solicitor-General, who naturally speaks with such great authority on these matters, that 276 contention is entirely destroyed by the presence in the Bill of the Sub-section which we are now considering. We are here creating a new offence for which, I suggest quite seriously, it is very difficult to find an exact precedent, and an offence which, like other offences under the Bill, is extremely vague and difficult to define, and for these reasons I ask the House to accept the Amendment.
§ 8.14 p.m.
§ Mr. LAWS0N
As my name is attached to the next Amendment on the Order Paper which also deals with the subject of possession, I think that it would be advisable if I dealt with the matter now, as it will perhaps give us an opportunity of voting formally on that Amendment later. The hon. Member for Dundee (Mr. Dingle Foot) has rendered the House a very useful service by mentioning the legal position generally with regard to possession. He has also rendered to the House a service by quoting to us the position in a country which, as far as its doctrines and ideas of liberty are concerned, is held in utter abhorence by many members of the Conservative party; that is, the Soviet Republic of Russia. The hon. Member gave us a. very valuable statement from the Prime Minister's speeches of the past with regard to that great country, Russia. I think we understand the wisdom of the statement of the Prime Minister the other day when we heard what his past thoughts were upon these matters. We understand that very wise saying of his: "We have gone on and on and up and up." So far as the Prime Minister is concerned he has gone forward considerably since the days when he expressed such views about Russia.
I was astonished at the statements of the Prime Minister upon this Bill, particularly this Clause, and upon matters of liberty in general. I began to wonder not only whether he had read the Bill but whether anyone had ever explained what its fundamental principles were. When the Prime Minister of this country is engaged in so many things certain details may slip past him, and one could not hold him accountable for not knowing those details, but one would have thought that he had some grip upon this question, to which he addressed himself this week. 277 He apparently was not aware that the Government have had to recognise that their original suggestions in regard to possession in the original Bill in 'the raw were indefensible. The sub-section which the Attorney-General asked the House to accept a few months ago is to-day in a very much modified form. It would surprise many hon. Members if they went back and looked at the original subsection. It said:If any person without lawful excuseThat has been omitted. The wordswith intent to commit or to aid, abet, counsel or procure the commission of an offencewere not in the original sub-section. To that extent the Sub-section has been modified drastically. I understand that the Attorney-General is to make further changes later with regard to search. Let the House note what the Attorney-General originally asked the country to do. He asked that the average person in this country who owns a library or pamphlet or anything of that description should be made subject to the law and subject to search and criminal penalties. When the fact dawned upon the people of this country there were many protests against it. It was not people engaged in political parties or propaganda who made the uproar of protest against the Clause in the raw. Many eminent men came into the field who could not be said to be in the active world of politics. Citizens who belong to no party as far as I can gather very seriously apprehended that the whole of the criminal law was to be set at nought.
The mass of protests and the meetings outside have had an effect upon the Prime Minister and the Attorney-General. I do not know whether they have had an effect upon the Prime Minister, because he seems to think that the original Bill was in the best interests of liberty. They have, however, had an effect on the Attorney-General and the Government generally, and therefore we have had modifications and safeguards. The Prime Minister apparently thinks that the safeguards are sufficient. I do not think that he understood what the essence of the thing was originally. The Government are claiming that persons shall be culpable and shall be charged and be searched if they are in possession of certain documents, pamphlets or books 278 with intent to commit, aid or abet a certain offence.
The question arises: who is to be the judge whether the person has these pamphlets, leaflets and books with intent to commit this crime. The original suggestion was that a magistrate should be the judge in the first instance whether a person was in possession of these documents and should have his house searched. The Attorney-General admitted that it might not be the right thing to allow one magistrate to decide the matter, and he agreed that there should be two magistrates. I understand that he is going to go even further than that.
§ Mr. LAWSON
The search is connected with possession. Possession gives the right to some person to decide whether or not there shall be a search. The modifications and safeguards are in Subsection (1), and I anticipate that the Attorney-General will argue that the danger that was said to be in the Subsection in the past is not there now. The fact is that a person in possession of certain documents is still in danger of being searched and haled before the magistrate. As to the kind of documents, we say that the most unlikely documents will be regarded as proof justifying a search, and it will be said that the dissemination of them would be an offence under this Subsection. The Bill as originally laid before the House of Commons proved to be so dangerous and the moral and legal arguments so strong against it that most respectable citizens were roused into activity. The Government have put in certain safeguards, but it can still be shown that possession places the average citizen in danger of search and certain penalties, and we are therefore entitled to ask what is the use of proceeding with this Sub-section or with the Bill as a whole.
The Sub-section originally attacked a right of the citizen which hitherto has been held to be beyond the attack of any Government or person. In essence the Bill is still the same, and however the Government may attempt to introduce safeguards so long as they insist on a principle like this so long will it be quite impossible for the average citizen to be properly safeguarded. It touches also 279 matters of opinion and political views. The Attorney-General has been at great pains to obviate what he has accepted as a real danger, but I have never been able to understand why the Government should still insist on going forward with the Bill. It is said that persons have had in their possession certain newspapers and documents, and although it could not be proved that they had distributed them, yet it is suspected, or it is known by experience, that they have been distributed. On that point, we have never been able to get from the Attorney-General any real reason why this Subsection is forced upon the House at this time. We have had nobody from the Army, Navy or the Air Force to tell us what harm has been done. There has been no concrete evidence during the whole of our proceedings, in Committee or in the House of Commons, to justify this step. Why have not the representatives of the three Services whose names are on the back of the Bill, and who seem to be the persons really involved, been present during our proceedings?
§ Mr. LAWSON
As far as the hon Member is concerned, he does not think that the attendance of the Attorney-General is necessary. These representatives, however, are largely responsible for the Bill. As far as we know there is no evidence that this kind of literature has been distributed amongst the troops or that there has been any trouble amongst the troops. For reasons which are secret to these people, and upon evidence known only to them, we are asked to pass a Subsection which brings into question the loyalty and integrity of great masses of citizens, who are to be subjected to this law because someone in one of these three services has made up his mind that he wants a provision of this kind. Probably the gentleman responsible may be high in one of the services and is probably sitting warming his feet at the fireside to-night reading the "Times" report of yesterday's proceedings and laughing at the House of Commons. We shall vote against the Sub-section. I hope the Attorney-General will withdraw it, although I admit that if he did he would finish the Bill. Possession implies search, and search is what the Government want. The Government would be 280 wise to withdraw this provision and make an end of what has been proved to be indefensible in its original state acid which cannot be defended even with the safeguards which have been inserted.
§ 8.35 p.m.
Mr. VYVYAN ADAMS
We have now reached what those eminent people to whom the hon. Member for Chester-le-Street (Mr. Lawson) referred just now regard as the core of corruption and the centre of putrefaction. It is quite true to say that this is the heart of the Bill and that if this Clause goes the whole Bill collapses. But it is indeed less objectionable than it was in its original form. My hon. Friends will recall that as it was originally drafted any citizen in possession of a Bible might be held to be open to prosecution [HON. MEMBERS: "No!"] My hon. Friends say "No." Perhaps we may have explained to us why it is now hedged about with these extraordinary safeguards. Is it not a fact that the Government were shaken in their own minds and saw the dangers inherent in the Clause as originally drafted? Otherwise, there can be no reason for the singular safeguards now incorporated. I presume that the incorporating of these safeguards has resulted from the attacks that have been made inside this House and outside by persons of detachment and objectivity. So we may say, perhaps, if my right hon. Friend the Attorney-General will forgive the ironical observation, that his determined attack upon Christianity has now fallen to the ground.
At all events, I do say in all seriousness that it was a most lamentable thing that this Bill ever was brought before this House in its original form, and I sincerely hope that the Government will not damage its own prestige or try the patience of its own supporters by again doing that kind of thing. Now so many Amendments have been introduced and accepted that the present form of the Bill bears to its original form no closer resemblance than water does to whisky. Yet it is still entitled "The Incitement to Disaffection Bill." Indeed, the Attorney-General, whose love for this Bill is so famous,moves in a mysterious way his wonders to perform.Perhaps I may be allowed on this Clause to read at a little length what he said on the Second Reading of the Bill: 281Someone may ask: How much of it is there? During the year 1932, there were 17 different subversive pamphlets. I do not mean 17 issues, but 17 different pamphlets of different titles—'The Soldier's Voice' is one, and "The Red Signal' another—containing such incitements as I have mentioned; and in that year there were 20 places of distribution. In 1933 there were A. different subversive pamphlets and 14 places of distribution. The pamphlets are distributed among members of His Majesty's Forces by methods such as I have described. They are thrown over the barrack railings, or pushed into the hands of soldiers or sailors in places of refreshment or in music halls; and it is estimated that in each of the last two years something like 50,000 copies of these subversive pamphlets have been produced and attempted to be distributed for circulation among members of His Majesty's Forces.Perhaps I may read also, without destroying the meaning of what the right hon. Gentleman said, what immediately preceded that passage in his speech. He said:I venture to think that these pieces of propaganda are an insult to members of His Majesty's Forces. The members of His Majesty's Forces in general are inspired by a passionate loyalty to their Service, they have a great respect for the traditions of their regiments or units, and they feel that duty is a real influence. They are gifted, as we know, with a great sense of humour; they are neither angels nor prigs; they have a great wealth of the English language with which to express their grievances.Then the right hon. Gentleman repeated his remark about the insult:I venture to think it is an insult that literature should be produced in large quantities which suggests that these are the authentic organs of opinion in the Army or the Navy, expressing in legitimate language the grievances of those who are bound by a duty or allegiance to the Crown."—OFFICIAL REPORT, 16th April, 1934; cols. 742–3, Vol. 288.]It may be an insult, but it is certainly as great an insult to imagine that the Forces are unable to resist that kind of poison.
§ Mr. DEPUTY-SPEAKER (Sir Dennis Herbert)
I would call the hon. Member's attention to the exact Amendment which is before the House.
Is the Amendment not dealing with Sub section (1) of the Clause, which relates to the possession of documents or copies of those documents?
§ Mr. DEPUTY-SPEAKER
Yes, and I have not yet heard anything said by the hon. Member about possession. He has talked about distribution.
I was under the impression that the Sub-section also dealt with the dissemination of copies.
§ Mr. DEPUTY-SPEAKER
I called the hon. Member's attention to the Amendment and I will content myself with asking him to confine himself to the actual terms of the Amendment.
I will try to make my remarks as relevant as possible. The Sub-section does refer to copies of literature which might be construed as being of a seditious character, and all the way through the discussion of the Bill we have heard the air made. thick with ugly words such as "incitement," "disaffection," "seduction," "sedition" and "disloyalty." The whole basis of the Attorney-General's case is that 50,000 copies of such propaganda were distributed in the course of a single year, or 50,000 in each of two years. It seems to be the Government's idea, basing itself upon this Sub-section of Clause 2, to try to purify the life of both civilians and military. But if the Government are bent upon this kind of great purge why, I wonder, have they not taken powers long since to deal with the "Daily Mail," because for months Lord Rothermere used his license to publish and serve up to the public, both military and civilian, the most seditious and poisonous kind of Fascist propaganda. It was not that 50,000 copies of the "Daily Mail" found their way on to the breakfast tables of both military and civilians, in a year, but that 30 times that number were circulated daily for months on end, until the public were nauseated and began to cease to buy that particular organ of the Press.
§ Mr. GLOSSOP
Is it not a fact that before people could obtain the "Daily Mail" they had to pay for it, whereas this literature was distributed free?
§ Mr. DEPUTY-SPEAKER
I think that that is clearly not applicable to the Amendment, and it emphasises what I said just now. I must again ask the hon. Member to be good enough to bear in mind the Amendment that is before the House. In my opinion he has hitherto been making his speech on the Bill, and that cannot be done on this Amendment.
I am extremely sorry. I seem, according Sir, to your ruling, to which of course I submit, to have strayed unwittingly into the paths of irrelevance. 283 I venture to revert to my original proposition, that this is the core and centre of the Bill. If this Clause goes, if this Subsection goes, the whole Bill collapses. In accordance with your ruling, I will abbreviate my concluding remarks, and again ask the Government not to jettison the prestige they have recently enjoyed nor to damage what I consider to be their remarkably illustrious domestic record which belongs to the last two or three years.
§ 8.44 p.m.
§ Mr. LOFTUS
I would not have intervened but for certain remarks made by the hon. Member for Chester-le-Street (Mr. Lawson). He represented that my right hon. Friend the Attorney-General amended this Clause in response to long-continued public clamour outside this House. My recollection is that as the Clause originally stood it did cause a certain amount of perturbation among some of the supporters of the Government and a few Members including myself promptly tabled Amendments to it. The object of the Amendment which I tabled was to ensure that any individual in this country could have in his possession any literature, no matter how seditious, provided that it was not clearly intended and proved to be intended for dissemination among the members of the armed Forces with the object of seducing them from their allegiance. The Clause read:If any person has in his possession or under his control any document of such a nature that the dissemination of copies thereof among the members of His Majesty's Forces would constitute such an offence, he shall be guilty, etc.My Amendment proposed to make it read as follows:has in his possession or under his control any document copies of which have already been disseminated among members of His Majesty's Forces with the object of seducing them from their allegiance or which are proved to be intended for dissemination among members of His Majesty's Forces with the object of seducing them from their allegiance, he shall be guilty of an offence, etc.That Amendment seemed to me to secure the object of those individuals to whom I have referred. Then I learned that my right hon. and learned Friend the Attorney-General had tabled an Amendment now incorporated in the Bill inserting the words: 284with intent to commit or to aid, abet, counsel or procure the commission of an offence.He assured me, and I also got assurances from other hon. and learned Members, that that Amendment more than covered the intention expressed in the wording of my Amendment. I am not, unfortunately, a member of the legal profession but I believe it is clear that such is the case and that being so, then the Subsection as it now stands gives us this very essential right, that any individual can have in his possession any literature he likes, provided it is not proved that he has it in his possession, and he is not convicted before a jury of having it in his possession, with the object of seducing members of His Majesty's Forces from their allegiance.
§ 8.50 p.m.
§ Mr. McENTEE
The speech of the hon. Member for Lowestoft (Mr. Loftus) is interesting, but it does not convince me that the object which the hon. Member says he had in view when he tabled a certain Amendment has been met. His argument apparently is that one can have in his possession any kind of literature however seditious provided that it is not with intent to seduce members of His Majesty's Forces from their duty or allegiance. We have in this House a number of people who are not in favour of the present constitution of this country, and who are, indeed, openly and professedly, republicans. As a matter of fact I am a republican myself though I have no feeling with regard to his present Majesty or any other person who may be in that position. But I believe that the republican system is better than the system under which we live and I have said so on many occasions and in many places. It has been pointed out that existing republics such as the United States and France are suffering from certain disabilities which would not perhaps aid me in my advocacy of that belief, but I can only say that despite all those disabilities I am still a republican. There are many other people in this House to-day and there have been many people here in the past who have publicly expressed republican ideas, even though they claimed to be Conservatives.
If a man is a republican and has in his possession literature for the purposes of republican propaganda, will he be held to be attempting to seduce the troops 285 from allegiance to His Majesty if he gives them that literature? Are we to say that republican propaganda of any kind in this country in regard to the troops is an offence punishable at law? I would like the Attorney-General to answer that question. In my view the Bill as it now stands, even with all the Amendments which have been made in it, leaves it open to any Government at any time to prevent the distribution of literature of a republican nature among the troops. The words in the Bill are:Endeavours to seduce any member of His Majesty's Forces from his duty or allegiance to His Majesty.A republican, after all, cannot be a believer in the present constitutional system whoever the King may be. It appears to me that any attempt to advocate the theory of the republic as against the theory of our present Constitution would come within the terms of the Bill.
§ Mr. McENTEE
Hon. Members were complaining a few moments ago that the Army, the Navy and the Air Force were not represented on the Front Bench, but apparently there is at least one representative of those Forces on the Front Bench below the Gangway. Perhaps the hon. Members who were complaining will be satisfied with the intervention of the hon. and gallant Gentleman.
§ Vice-Admiral TAYLOR
I understood the hon. Member to be putting a question to the House generally as regards the distribution of literature advocating the institution of a republic to members of His Majesty's Forces. I am asking him what is the underlying idea of such propaganda among the members of the Forces.
§ Mr. McENTEE
My idea or the idea of any other person in distributing propagandist literature, would be to convince the people to whom it was distributed that the system which it advocated was better than the system under which we live. That appears to me to be 286 the obvious reason. I was asking the Attorney-General—
§ Mr. DEPUTY-SPEAKER
Again I must ask the hon. Member to confine himself a little more closely to the Amendment. Sub-section (1) does not in any way give proper grounds for raising a discussion as to what is or is not seditious literature.
§ Mr. McENTEE
I submit that I have just quoted from Clause 1, to which reference is made in Sub-section (1) of Clause 2, to show that anybody who attempts to, seduce any member of His Majesty's Forces from his duty or allegiance—and I was relying on the words "or allegiance"—by distributing to the Forces any republican literature would be breaking the law if this became the law, and I was asking the Attorney-General to express an opinion on that point. My other objection is that I am still of the opinion that in certain circumstances I might be liable if I had in my possession, as I have at the present time, copies of many seditious pamphlets, not because I want to use them or to distribute them to the Forces—I do not. I used to collect them in the old anarchist days, and I still have them. I used to collect them in those days when the present Prime Minister was considered to be a seditious character, and I have many of his writings and speeches at home which would certainly be considered seditious if I were to attempt to copy and distribute them among the Forces to-day. That is the only reason why I keep them. I keep them as I might keep a museum if I were sufficiently rich to keep a museum, but the very possession of them might be used in certain circumstances as evidence against me, and I might very easily be punished because I possessed them.
May I submit a circumstance that might appeal to some hon. Members opposite? We have heard in this House a good deal about the General Strike, and I have heard remarks made outside that indicated very clearly the feelings of some hon. Members about those who took a leading part in the General Strike. I took a part—in a local sense a leading part not in a national sense—and if I were to judge my chances in conditions like that, if I were found in possession of these things and the troops were 287 brought in, as the Leader of the Opposition said they were in the East End of London and other places years ago, when industrial disputes were proceeding—if I were to judge my chances on being brought before some of the people who sit in this House to-day, such as the hon. Member opposite who is Parliamentary Secretary to the Postmaster-General, judging by his interjection to-day, I would not give much for my chance of getting off or even getting a fair trial if he happened to be sitting on the bench.
§ Mr. McENTEE
That remark indicates the type of mind that you are up against and that the working classes generally are up against. Your only use for them is to use them as long as it suits you and to shoot them when you do not want to use them any more. In the circumstances of a General Strike or any big industrial dispute, if anyone were found, by prejudiced people such as the hon. Member opposite has just indicated himself to be, in possession of any of these things, copies of which, the Clause says, if distributed among the troops might have the effect stated in Clause 1—I say that I have plenty of literature in my possession now, copies of which, if they were distributed among the troops, could easily bring me within the law. The Clause which we are now discussing says, I know, that it has to be proved you have a certain intent in the use of these things, but intent with some of the people that some of us might be brought before in circumstances like that would be accepted without proof, as it has been in previous cases. In the case that gave rise to this Bill, when the present Law Officers, I presume it was, caused the arrest of certain people, the judge fortunately was more broad minded than they were, and the people arrested and charged were discharged, and it is because of that discharge that this Rill is being brought in.
§ Mr. DEPUTY-SPEAKER
It is obvious that this discussion as to the conduct of any particular court in a matter of that kind has nothing to do with this Subsection, and I must ask the hon. Member really to keep in his mind the Amendment before the House, and to confine his remarks more strictly to it.
§ Mr. McENTEE
I have it in my mind very clearly, and I was going to indicate the circumstances in which it might be used in a manner different from what the Attorney-General leads us to believe, but I would like an answer to my question. In my view it would definitely prevent any propaganda being attempted among the troops that could be said to seduce them from their allegiance to His Majesty, if that propaganda were of a republican character.
§ 9.2 p.m.
§ Mr. BANFIELD
I want to ask the Attorney-General whether he has considered the possible effect of this Subsection on the freedom of the Press. We have never as yet had a censorship of political opinion in this country, and we have had a censorship of any kind only during war-time. Apart from that, we have long come to the opinion that it is a very good thing that new ideas shall be printed and circulated, and, generally speaking, we have given the Press quite a free hand. My fear is that under this Sub-section we may in effect get a rather subtle but none the less effective censorship of the Press. It is obvious that people who print pamphlets or newspapers or articles on questions like war and peace, and on the relationship of the civil population to the troops—printers and publishers of articles of that kind in an ordinary journalistic way—will have very grave doubts in their minds as to whether it is wise under this Sub-section to do so, or whether they can afford to run the risk of publishing anything at all which might possibly come under this Sub-section. I think that in itself is rather a serious matter. The objection to this Sub-section seems to me to be that hundreds of thousands of respectable citizens, anxious to change public opinion by constitutional efforts, would be liable, unwittingly and in all good faith, to have in their possession certain things which might be used to be circulated at some time or other among the troops; and although it may be said that you have to prove intent, I suggest that under certain circumstances it might not be very difficult to say that a man had an intention, in spite of the fact that he himself might proclaim his innocence.
One of the great things of which we are proud is the freedom of the Press and of the individual to express his 289 political opinions. We feel troubled about this particular Sub-section because, like many other people, we want to read all sides of questions and are prepared to read all kinds of literature, and, incidentally, literature on war and peace. This kind of literature has always been looked upon as the cream of literature and the sort which We can teach to our children. Under this Clause it may be possible for many of us to find ourselves in danger. I know it may be argued by the Attorney-General that all these fears are groundless and that there is no intention of putting us in danger in the way that we fear.
The right hon. and learned Gentleman may be quite satisfied that nothing of that kind will happen, but one never knows, and in times of public stress and excitement any man taking an unpopular side may find himself within the provisions of this Clause, and the mere fact that he is taking the unpopular side may weigh down the scales of justice against him. One remembers, for instance, how the Tolpuddle martyrs were transported under the terms of the old Mutiny Act. Was it intended that that Act should be used in such cases? When it was before this House, if anyone had suggested that these agricultural labourers could be transported under it the Law Officers of that time would have said, "Nothing of the sort, it is a most ridiculous thing to put up," and so on; yet, as a matter of fact, that Act was used against those unfortunate men. The judge said to them what a judge may say to some of us if in a few years time we are prosecuted under this Bill for having possession of certain documents: "It is true you did not intend to do anything, and I cannot see that you have really done very much, but it is necessary to make an example of you for the benefit of someone else." I am afraid that, in spite of all that may be said about this Clause, about its possible innocence and about the fact that malicious intent has to be shown, and although it has been altered considerably since the first draft of the Bill, it is still a most dangerous Clause.
We ought to be careful how far we curtail the liberty of the Press or the liberty of the subject. I have never been satisfied that this particular Clause is necessary. I made a speech on the Second Reading pointing out to the 290 learned Attorney-General that in my opinion the existing law provided all that was necessary to deal with everything contained in the Bill; in other words, that the Bill was entirely unnecessary. I am still in considerable doubt about what is at the back of the Clause. Is it intended to use it against the Pacifists and the Communists, or against certain organs of the Press having certain views, or is it to be used only in eases of people expressing certain political opinions, and not to be used in cases of people expressing other opinions? On all these ground, I register my protest against this Sub-section. I would it were possible that this Bill could be withdrawn altogether. I am satisfied that even the learned Attorney-General in his own mind cannot be happy about this Clause and the other Clauses of the Bill which rests on it. I wish it could be withdrawn, but, failing that, we can only register our protest by going into the Lobby against it. I am satisfied that public opinion outside will justify the protests we have made, and that we shall be able to justify them up to the hilt when we get the opportunity.
§ 9.13 p.m.
§ Mr. EADY
I have refrained from taking part in this Debate, because I do not approve of too much repetition, but unfortunately I have to do the same as other members, and I have to repeat many things that have already been said. For 16 days in Committee we thrashed out every portion of this Bill. In that time many things were mentioned and repeated when there was no necessity. That length of time was taken because of the obstruction that was made with a view to blocking the Bill. Fortunately we have persevered, and we have eventually brought the Bill to the House for Third Reading. The result is that the Opposition have taken advantage of the position not only to distribute literature all over the country pointing out many things about the Bill that are not true; but practically to canvass the country pointing out—
§ Mr. DEPUTY-SPEAKER
I do not know whether the hon. Member imagines that we have got to the Third Reading?
Mr. EA DY
I meant, of course, the Report stage. The Opposition have taken 291 advantage of the position and have made a kind of publicity stunt of it for their views.
§ Mr. DEPUTY-SPEAKER
I want to call the hon. Member's attention to the fact, not only that we are not on Third Reading, but that being in the Report stage we are now engaged on one particular Amendment and that he must speak to that particular Amendment and to that alone.
Mr. EA DY
I bow to your Ruling, and will confine my remarks to the Amendment. If this Amendment were carried, it would alter the appearance of the Bill entirely. There is no necessity for it. The Clause itself provides for all that is necessary to prevent the distribution or the possession of this class of literature by any person who will use it for an ill purpose. I oppose the Amendment, and I am pleased I have had the opportunity of supporting the Government. If I have a complaint to make, it is that the Attorney-General has been a little too much on the lenient side. At the same time, if a little compromise will have the effect of soothing the opponents of the Measure I have great pleasure in supporting the right hon. and learned Gentleman.
§ 9.15 p.m.
§ The ATTORNEY-GENERAL
The hon. Member who moved this Amendment spoke, if he will allow me to say so, with a brevity which did not at all interfere with the clarity of his argument or the accuracy of his information. Subsequent speakers, including the hon. Member for West Leeds (Mr. V. Adams), seemed to find greater difficulty in addressing themselves to the point of the Amendment. Indeed, I seem to recognise a good deal of dissatisfaction with the course I took in Committee in trying to meet the objections of hon. Members opposite. I can imagine how they would have reproached me if they had been able to say that I had been obdurate and had refused to make any Amendments, and was hardhearted. Now their complaint is, and I can well understand it, that I have been so reasonable that they have very little of which to complain. Therefore, the greater part of the speeches from the benches opposite were directed against the Sub-section in its earlier form and not against it in its present form. The 292 hon. Member who moved the Amendment, if I understood him aright, seemed to suggest that this Sub-section would make the mere possession of documents an offence. Every now and then he guarded himself against giving that impression, but more than once he seemed to come back to it, and it is certainly the impression which the hon. Member for Wednesbury (Mr. Banfield) has given the House, and which I think the hon. Member for West Leeds has also given to the House.
Let me say as emphatically as I can that this Clause does not make, and never did make, even in its old form, the mere possession of documents an offence. I want to confine myself to the Clause in its present form. It begins by saying that a person must have the intention to commit, or to aid or abet or counsel the commission, of an offence under Clause 1. Therefore, one has to prove two things. First, to prove an intention to commit an offence under Clause 1, and, secondly, to prove possession. The proof of intention is a proof which the prosecution must undertake. It has sometimes been suggested that the character of a person charged will be proof of intention. Any lawyer will know that that is wrong. You might as well attempt to prove that a man who was charged with being drunk while in charge of a motor car on 1st November was guilty because he had been drunk on 1st October. His character and his antecedents would have nothing on earth to do with the charge, and could not be given in evidence. The prosecution will have to prove intention by giving evidence of some overt acts, as we lawyers say, in a phrase which I think is understood, and will have to undertake the onus, and discharge the onus before a magistrate or, if the person charged prefers it, before a jury, of showing that this intention exists.
Some people seem to find it difficult to understand the point about intention. It is very familiar to us in the law, and I think it is very familiar to everybody in ordinary life. Let me give a homely example. Suppose I was so fortunate as to be invited by the hon. Member to take part in a feast in the approaching Christmas season. I should feel no terrors if I saw him brandishing a carving knife on the other side of the table, because I should know that he was not 293 going to attack me, but something else. But supposing I met him, with wild eyes and uplifted hand, chasing me round the room with a carving knife, I should know perfectly well that he had another intention. Let me give another illustration, and engage in a personal reminiscence. A few weeks ago, in the holiday season, I had left my car in a garage in Carlisle. My train arrived in the middle of the night and I wanted my car, but I could not get it. I leaned against the door and it opened.
§ The ATTORNEY-GENERAL
The caretaker or the owner came down and said that I was guilty of housebreaking. I said, "Not at all"; because the Larceny Act begins by saying that you are guilty of an offence only if it can be proved that there was an intention to commit a felony, and there was no evidence that I had any such intention. It is a familiar thing to lawyers that an offence depends upon the ingredient of intention, which must be proved by giving evidence of acts of which the person charged has been guilty. It really is ludicrous to say, as has been suggested up and down the country, that the possession of a Bible, or the possession of the book of the right hon. Member for Carnarvon Boroughs (Mr. Lloyd George) on the Great War, would constitute an offence. I will not say that is a wilful misunderstanding of the Bill, but it is a misunderstanding of it, and one for which, I am sorry to say, some persons are responsible who ought to have been able to understand the Bill better.
Let me take the ease of the hon. Member for West Walthamstow (Mr. McEntee). He told us that he has a collection of pamphlets—seditious pamphlets he said. Let me say in passing that this Bill has nothing to do with sedition, and I assume he meant pamphlets which might be used to seduce a soldier from his duty or allegiance. He prefaced a case which he wanted me to consider by saying, what all of us who know him know to be true, that he has no intention at all of using those pamphlets for any evil purpose. That case is a very easy one. The very nature of the case, as stated by the hon. Member, is that he has no intention of ever using those documents for the purpose of seducing a soldier from his duty. In that case the 294 hon. Member may sleep at nights without worrying about the possession of those documents. But if he were a different character, less loyal than we know him to be, in spite of his somewhat academic republican opinions, and anybody could suppose that he intended to make copies of those documents and distribute them to the troops and say, "Those are very good reasons why you should disobey your orders," then the hon. Member would be in a very different position, and a less happy one, than he is to-day.
That is the whole point about this Clause. The onus which I require every prosecution to undertake when those words "with intent to commit an offence" were put in the Clause will prevent anybody from being charged under Sub-section (1) merely on account of the possession of documents. I think every one of us has documents which contain references to the duties of soldiers or to the law of liberty, but it really is fantastic to suppose that I, or any other hon. Member, be he pacifist, Communist, revolutionary, or anybody else, stands in any danger from the possession of those documents unless and until he does something which shows plainly that he has an intention to use them for the purpose of seducing a soldier from his duty. I have no doubt that I shall be reproached, for I have tried, and even gone out of my way, to meet what I thought unreasonable fears. I have not admitted for a moment that the fears were well-founded. On the other hand, I have thought it right where possible without doing injury to the structure of the Bill, to meet ill-founded fears, and I think I have succeeded. To leave out this Clause would quite frankly take away a very valuable and important part of the Bill. I ask the House to say, for the reason that it is important, that they will support the Clause. There are no terrors for anybody who has given proof of their intentions.
§ Mr. McENTEE
Will the right hon. and learned Member deal with the distribution of propaganda and literature?
§ Mr. DEPUTY-SPEAKER
I think it is unlikely I could allow the right hon. Gentleman to do that: the relevance of the question was the subject of my observation on the hon. Member's speech.
§ Question put, "That the words proposed to be left out, to the word 'has,' in line 12, stand part of the Bill."296
§ The House Divided: Ayes, 271; Noes,67.297
|Division No. 374.]||AYES||[9.28 p.m.|
|Acland-Troyte, Lieut.-Colonel||Flint, Abraham John||Maitland, Adam|
|Agnew, Lieut.-Com. P. G.||Fox, Sir Gifford||Makins, Brigadier-General Ernest|
|Allen, Lt.-Col. J. Sandeman (B'k'nh'd.)||Fremantle, Sir Francis||Manningham-Buller, Lt.-Col. Sir M.|
|Applin, Lieut.-Col. Reginald V. K.||Fuller, Captain A. G.||Margesson, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. D. R.|
|Apsley, Lord||Gibson, Charles Granville||Marsden, Commander Arthur|
|Assheton, Ralph||Gillett, Sir George Masterman||Mayhew, Lieut.-Colonel John|
|Astbury, Lieut.-Com, Frederick Wolfe||Gilmour, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir John||Mills, Major J. D. (New Forest)|
|Bailey, Eric Alfred George||Glossop, C. W. H.||Milne, Charles|
|Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley||Gluckstein, Louis Halle||Molson, A. Hugh Elsdale|
|Balfour, Capt. Harold (I. of Thanet)||Goff, Sir Park||Monsell, Rt. Hon. Sir B. Eyres|
|Barclay-Harvey, C. M.||Goodman, Colonel Albert W.||Moore, Lt.-Col. Thomas C. R. (Ayr)|
|Beauchamp, Sir Brograve Campbell||Graham, Sir F. Fergus (C'mb'rl'd. N.)||Moreing, Adrian C.|
|Beaumont, M. W. (Bucks., Aylesbury)||Grattan-Doyle, Sir Nicholas||Morris, John Patrick (Salford, N.)|
|Beaumont, Hon. R. E. B. (Portsm'th, C.)||Greaves-Lord, Sir Walter||Morris-Jones, Dr. J. H. (Denbigh)|
|Birchall, Major Sir John Dearman||Grimston, R. V.||Morrison, William Shepherd|
|Blindell, James||Gritten, W. G. Howard||Moss, Captain H. J.|
|Borodale, Viscount||Guinness, Thomas L. E. B.||Muirhead, Lieut.-Colonel A. J.|
|Bossom, A. C.||Gunston, Captain D. W.||Munro, Patrick|
|Boulton, W. W.||Guy, J. C. Morrison||Natlon, Brigadier-General J. J. H.|
|Bowater, Col. Sir T. Vansittart||Hacking, Rt. Hon. Douglas H.||Normand, Rt. Hon. Wilfrid|
|Bower, Commander Robert Tafton||Hales, Harold K.||Nunn, William|
|Bowyer, Capt. Sir George E. W.||Hamilton, Sir George (Ilford)||O'Donovan, Dr. William James|
|Boyce, H. Leslie||Hartland, George A.||Oman, Sir Charles William C.|
|Braithwaite, Maj. A. N. (Yorks, E. R.)||Harvey, George (Lambeth, Kenningt'n)||Orr Ewing, I. L.|
|Brass, Captain Sir William||Harvey, Major S. E. (Devon, Totnes)||Pearson, William G.|
|Broadbent, Colonel John||Haslam, Henry (Horncestle)||Peat, Charles U.|
|Brocklebank, C. E. R.||Haslam, Sir John (Bolton)||Penny, Sir George|
|Brown, Cot. D. C. (N'th'l'd., Hexham)||Headlam, Lieut.-Col. Cuthbert M.||Perkins, Walter R. D|
|Brown,Brig.-Gen. H. C. (Berks., Newb'y)||Heilgers. Captain F. F. A.||Petherick, M.|
|Browne, Captain A. C.||Hepworth, Joseph||Peto, Geoffrey K. (W'verh'pt'n, Bliston)|
|Buchan, John||Herbert, Major J. A. (Monmouth)||Pike, Cecil F.|
|Buchan-Hepburn, P. G. T.||Hills, Major Rt. Hon. John Waller||Powell, Lieut.-Col. Evelyn G. H.|
|Burgin, Dr. Edward Leslie||Hope, Sydney (Chester, Stalybridge)||Power, Sir John Cecil|
|Burnett, John George||Hopkinson, Austin||Procter, Major Henry Adam|
|Cadogan, Hon. Edward||Hornby, Frank||Radford, E. A.|
|Caine, G. R. Hall-||Horsbrugh, Florence||Raikes, Henry V. A. M.|
|Campbell, Sir Edward Taswelt (Brmly)||Howard, Tom Forrest||Ramsay, Capt. A. H. M. (Midlothian)|
|Campbell, Vice-Admiral G. (Burnley)||Howiitt, Dr. Alfred B.||Ramsay, T. B. W. (Western Isles)|
|Caporn, Arthur Cecil||Hudson, Robert Spear (Southport)||Ramsbotham, Herwald|
|Carver, Major William H.||Hume, Sir George Hopwood||Ramsden. Sir Eugene|
|Cassels, James Dale||Hunter, Dr. Joseph (Dumfries)||Reed, Arthur C. (Exeter)|
|Cayzer, Maj. Sir H. R. (Prtsmth., S.)||Inskip, Rt. Hon. Sir Thomas W. H.||Reld. David D. (County Down)|
|Cazalet, Capt. V. A. (Chippenham)||Iveagh, Countess of||Reld. William Allan (Derby)|
|Chapman, Col. R. (Houghton-le-Spring)||Jackson, J. C. (Heywood & Radcliffe)||Rhys, Hon. Charles Arthur U.|
|Chapman, Sir Samuel (Edinburgh, S.)||James, Wing.-Com. A. W. H.||Rickards, George William|
|Christle, James Archibald||Jamieson, Douglas||Roberts, Sir Samuel (Ecclesall)|
|Clarry, Reginald George||Jennings, Roland||Robinson, John Roland|
|Clayton, Sir Christopher||Jesson, Major Thomas E.||Ropner, Colonel L.|
|Cobb, Sir Cyril||Kerr, Lieut.-Col. Charles (Montrose)||Rosbotham, Sir Thomas|
|Cochrane, Commander Hon. A. D.||Kerr, Hamilton W.||Ross, Ronald D.|
|Colfox, Major William Philip||Kimball, Lawrence||Ross Taylor, Walter (Woodbridge)|
|Conant, R. J. E.||Kirkpatrick, William M.||Ruggles-Brise, Colonel E. A.|
|Cook, Thomas A.||Lamb, Sir Joseph Quinton||Runge, Norah Cecil|
|Cooke, Douglas||Law, Sir Alfred||Russell, Alexander West (Tynemouth)|
|Copeland, Ida||Leech, Dr. J. W.||Russell, Hamer Field (Sheffield, B'tside)|
|Craddock, Sir Reginald Henry||Leighton, Major B. E. P.||Rutherford, Sir John Hugo (Liverp'l)|
|Craven-Ellis, William||Levy, Thomas||Salmon. Sir Isidore|
|Crooke, J. Smedley||Lewis, Oswald||Sandeman, Sir A. N. Stewart|
|Crookshank, Capt. H. C. (Gainsb'ro)||Liddall, Walter S.||Sanderson, Sir Frank Barnard|
|Croom-Johnson, R. P.||Lindsay, Kenneth (Kilmarnock)||Sassoon, Rt. Hon. Sir Philip A. G. D.|
|Cross, R. H.||Lindsay. Noel Ker||Scone, Lord|
|Cruddas, Lieut.-Colonel Bernard||Lister, Rt. Hon. Sir Phillip Cunliffe-||Selley, Harry R.|
|Culverwell, Cyril Tom||Liewellin, Major John J.||Shakespeare, Geoffrey H.|
|Davies, Maj. Geo. F. (Somerset, Yeovil)||Lockwood, John C. (Hackney, C.)||Shaw, Helen B. (Lanark, Bothwell)|
|Denman, Hon. R D.||Lockwood, Capt. J. H. (Shipley)||Shaw. Captain William T. (Forfar)|
|Denville, Alfred||Loder, Captain J. de Vere||Shepperson, Sir Ernest W.|
|Dickie, John P.||Loftus, Pierce C.||Shute, Colonel J. J.|
|Doran, Edward||Lumley, Captain Lawrence R.||Skelton, Archibald Noel|
|Drewe, Cedric||Lyons, Abraham Montagu||Slater, John|
|Drummond-Wolff, H. M. C.||Mabane, William||Smith, Sir J. Walker- (Barrow-in-F.)|
|Dugdale, Captain Thomas Lionel||MacAndrew, Lieut.-Col. C. G. (Partick)||Smith, Louis W. (Sheffield, Hallam)|
|Duggan, Hubert John||MacAndrew, Capt. J. O. (Ayr)||Smith, Sir Robert (Ab'd'n & K'dine, C.)|
|Duncan, James A. L. (Kensington, N.)||McConnell. Sir Joseph||Somervell, Sir Donald|
|Eady, George H.||McEwen, Captain J. H. F.||Somerville, Annesley A (Windsor)|
|Ellis, Sir R. Geoffrey||Maclay, Hon. Joseph Paton||Soper, Richard|
|Elmley, Viscount||McLean, Dr. W. H. (Tradeston)||Sotheron-Estcourt, Captain T. E.|
|Emmott, Charles E. G. C.||Macmillan. Maurice Harold||Southby, Commander Archibald R, J.|
|Essenhigh, Reginald Clare||Magnay, Thomas||Spens, William Patrick|
|Stanley, Rt. Hon. Lord (Fylde)||Thomson, Sir Frederick Charles||Williams, Herbert G. (Croydon, S.)|
|Stanley, Rt. Hon. Oliver (W'morland)||Thorp, Linton Theodore||Wills, Wilfrid D.|
|Stevenson, James||Todd, Lt.-Col. A. J. K. (B'wick-on-T.)||Wilson, G. H. A. (Cambridge U.)|
|Stones, James||Touche, Gordon Cosmo||Windsor-Clive, Lieut.-Colonel George|
|Storey, Samuel||Wallace, John (Dunfermline)||Winterton, Rt. Hon. Earl|
|Stourton, Hon. John J.||Ward, Irene Mary Bewick (Wallsend)||Wise, Alfred R.|
|Strauss, Edward A.||Ward, Sarah Adelaide (Cannock)||Womersley, Sir Walter|
|Strickland, Captain W. F.||Wardlaw-Milne, Sir John S.||Worthington, Dr. John V.|
|Sueter, Rear-Admiral Sir Murray F.||Warrender, Sir Victor A. G.||Young, Rt. Hon. Sir Hilton (S'v'noaks)|
|Sutcliffe, Harold||Waterhouse, Captain Charles|
|Taylor, Vice-Admiral E. A. (P'dd'gt'n, S.)||Weymouth, Viscount||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Templeton, William P.||Whiteside, Borras Noel H.||Captain Austin Hudson and Lieut.- Colonel Sir A. Lambert Ward.|
|Thomas, James P. L. (Hereford)||Whyte, Jardine Bell|
|Thomas, Major L. B. (King's Norton)||Williams, Charles (Devon, Torquay)|
|Adams, D. M. (Poplar, South)||Graham, D. M. (Lanark, Hamilton)||Mainwaring. William Henry|
|Adams, Samuel Vyvyan T. (Leeds, W.)||Griffith, F. Kingsley (Middlesbro', W.)||Mailalleu, Edward Lancelot|
|Addison, Rt. Hon. Dr. Christopher||Griffiths, George A. (Yorks, W. Riding)||Mander, Geoffrey le M.|
|Attlee, Clement Richard||Grundy, Thomas W.||Maxton, James|
|Banfield, John William||Hall, George H. (Merthyr Tydvil)||Milner, Major James|
|Batey, Joseph||Harris, Sir Percy||Nathan, Major H. L.|
|Bernays, Robert||Hicks, Ernest George||Owen, Major Goronwy|
|Bevan, Aneurin (Ebbw Vale)||Holdsworth, Herbert||Paling, Wilfred|
|Brown, C. W. E. (Notts., Mansfield)||Janner, Barnett||Parkinson, John Allen|
|Buchanan, George||Jenkins, Sir William||Rathbone, Eleanor|
|Cape, Thomas||John, William||Roberts, Aled (Wrexham)|
|Cocks, Frederick Seymour||Jones, Henry Haydn (Merioneth)||Salter, Dr. Alfred|
|Cove, William G.||Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly)||Smith, Tom (Normanton)|
|Dagger, George||Kirkwood, David||Thorne, William James|
|Davies, David L. (Pontypridd)||Lansbury, Rt. Hon. George||Tinker, John Joseph|
|Davies, Rhys John (Westhoughton)||Lawson, John James||West, F. R.|
|Davies, Stephen Owen||Leonard, William||White, Henry Graham|
|Dabble, William||Llewellyn-Jones. Frederick||Williams, Edward John (Ogmore)|
|Edwards, Charles||Logan, David Gilbert||Young, Ernest J. (Middlesbrough, E.)|
|Evans, David Owen (Cardigan)||Lunn, William|
|Evans, R. T. (Carmarthen)||Macdonald, Gordon (Ince)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Foot, Isaac (Cornwall, Bodmin)||McEntee, Valentine L.||Mr. Walter Rea and Sir M. McKenzie Wood.|
|Gardner, Benjamin Walter||McGovern, John|
|George, Megan A. Lloyd (Anglesea)||Maclean, Nell (Glasgow, Govan)|
§ 9.37 p.m.
§ Mr. BUCHANAN
I beg to move, in page 1, line 17, to leave out "two justices of the peace," and to insert "a judge of the High Court."
I have had a note from the Attorney-General to say that he was accepting this Amendment, with one or two consequential Amendments. In these circumstances, I do not wish to delay the House, other than to say that we have always viewed with a great deal of apprehension the leaving of this matter in the hands of justices of the peace. We think that in Scotland such a practice meant practically leaving it in the hands of your political opponents. In my native city four-fifths of the justices belong to parties which are opponents of the Labour party and of ourselves. Consequently, we welcome the change very much. As this change, however, does not quite fit in with the law of Scotland, I wonder if the Solicitor-General for Scotland can give us any idea of what it is proposed to do for Scotland now that the Amendment is to be accepted for England? Although the change in some small degree modifies our bitterness against the Bill, it in no 298 way lessens our opposition to it, and we still think it is a very bad Bill.
§ 9.41 p.m.
§ The SOLICITOR-GENERAL
We are prepared to accept this Amendment. I quite appreciate that it does not placate my hon. Friends in their opposition to the Bill as a whole. The question raised by this Amendment has been fully discussed from time to time, and the issues are familiar. I do not associate myself with the criticism that has been expressed as to the possible abuse or irresponsible use by justices of the peace of the power which was placed in their hands under the Bill before this Amendment was accepted. As the Attorney-General said on the last Amendment, we have been anxious to meet apprehensions even though we felt there was no real foundation for them. Apprehensions have been expressed as to the possible abuse of this power of search, and we have thought it right to accept this Amendment by which the matters on which the authority issuing the search warrant is 299 to be satisfied shall be considered by the trained mind of a judge of the High Court rather than by lay magistrates. I hope the House will feel that is sufficient for me to say in accepting this Amendment.
§ 9.43 p.m.
§ Major NATHAN
May I ask for information on one point of some importance, that is, what procedure does the Solicitor-General contemplate as regards the application to the judge? Is it to be made to a judge in chambers or to a judge sitting in open court? I recognise there are manifest advantages and disadvantages in either course, and incline to the view that, on balance, the advantage rests with application to the judge in open court. Will the Solicitor-General inform the House of the procedure contemplated for carrying out the provision in its amended form?
§ 9.44 p.m.
§ Mr. CROOM-JOHNSON
May I add another request? Some sort of procedure will have to be laid down. So far as we have heard, no Amendment is being made in the Bill which will empower anybody to make regulations to lay down what that procedure is. I had rather hoped the Solicitor-General would indicate what consequential Amendments are to be made. When we hear those it may be that the points which have been raised by the hon. and gallant Member opposite and myself will prove to have been thought out, and will be disposed of at a later stage.
§ 9.45 p.m.
§ Mr. COCKS
I do not wish to be unkind to the Solicitor-General, but really the surrenders that the Government have made on this Bill since we have been discussing it in the House have given the Bill an entirely different character from that which it had at the beginning. Those of us who have had a very strong objection to the Bill still have that objection to it, and, in view of the many alterations which have been made by the surrenders of the Law Officers of the Crown, and of the fact that the Bill is now altogether different in character from what it was when it received a Second Reading, I think the Government ought to withdraw it altogether and bring forward a new Bill in the next Session. I would suggest too that, when they are 300 bringing in a Bill like this, attacking the liberties of British subjects, they ought to draw up the Bill themselves, and not bring in one drawn up by people who know nothing about draftsmanship. As they have made these changes and surrenders, they ought to take the opportunity of being honest, truthful and courageous by withdrawing the Bill altogether, and saying that next Session they will deal with the matter in quite another way.
Lieut.-Colonel SANDEMAN ALLEN
I should like to ask how the Government are going to get in the necessary consequential Amendments in view of the fact that they have altered the whole language of the Clause from the third person singular to the third person plural. Are arrangements going to be made for that?
§ 9.47 p.m.
§ Mr. LAWSON
The Solicitor-General has been asked to explain a point of procedure, and no doubt he will reply, but may I first say two or three words? There seems to be a, general impression in the Press that, because the granting of a warrant is now to be considered by a judge, the Bill has therefore lost all its obnoxious features, but the liberty which is the common right of every citizen can still be limited by the particular state of mind of any judge who has to give judgment upon the literature which is held to be of a questionable character, and as to whether the person concerned is likely to use it for questionable purposes. Although the position is much improved, it will still be possible to take away the liberty which is the right of the citizen at the present time.
§ 9.48 p.m.
Without wishing to waste any more of the time of the House, may I express to the Solicitor-General the congratulations of my hon. Friends and myself on his having had the courage to accept this Amendment, which we have pressed all along? Without in the least saying that we approve of the Bill now, we should like to take that opportunity.
§ 9.49 p.m.
§ The SOLICITOR-GENERAL
With regard to the point raised by the hon. and gallant Member for North-east Bethnal Green (Major Nathan), I think there is every objection to the application being made in open court. That 301 matter was fully debated on an Amendment as to the question of substituting a court of summary jurisdiction for two justices. The application will normally be made to the judge in chambers. With regard to the question of special rules of procedure, these, of course, can be made.
§ Amendment agreed to.
§ 9.50 p.m.
§ The SOLICITOR-GENERAL
I beg to move, in page 1, line 20, after "committed," to insert:and that evidence of the commission thereof is to be found at any premises or place specified in the information.Hon. Members who were on the Committee will remember that there was a discussion on this point during the Committee stage. It was suggested that, as the Bill was drafted, the premises or place which might be searched were not connected by any words with the evidence with respect to what was to be searched for. It is difficult to concieve that a warrant would be granted unless the two were connected, but my right hon. and learned Friend said he thought that the point was a reasonable one, and as a result he put down this Amendment. It provides that the information must specify the place and relate to the evidence of the offence.
§ 9.51 p.m.
§ Dr. ADDISON
I beg to move, as an Amendment to the proposed Amendment, in line 1, after "that," to insert:any document specified in the information will provide.The purpose of this Amendment to the proposed Amendment is to secure that not only shall the place be specified, but that the things searched for shall be specified. Otherwise there will be a roving commission to search every paper that may be in the person's house. The definition of the offence in Sub-section (1) is that:any person has in his possession or under his control any document of such a nature that"—and so on. If an application is made to a judge to search for something which is evidence of the offence, that evidence is in the nature of a document, and therefore it is fair to require that the information lodged should specify the documents for which it is desired to search. Otherwise, those who conduct the search might 302 turn the person's place upside down and take away anything they like. There was a case not long since in which property was removed in that way, and therefore it is right to require that a sufficiently clear specification shall be laid before the judge, so that, before he grants permission to search for papers, he may be informed as to what papers are to be searched for.
§ The SOLICITOR-GENERAL
We cannot accept this Amendment, and I hope my right hon. Friend will see that it is not really necessary. The Amendment Which I have moved states clearly that the judge has to be satisfied that evidence of the commission of the offence is to be found at any premises or place specified in the information. It is clear that the only evidence that could be contemplated by these words is documentary evidence. That is what one is searching for. Therefore, the Judge of the High Court has to be satisfied that there is documentary evidence relating to the commission of an offence on certain premises. The only effect of this Amendment would be to make it necessary to specify the documents. In our view, that is going too far. It may well be that there is information that there are documents in someone's possession for the purpose of distribution, but the information may not be sufficiently exact to enable the documents to be specified in the ordinary sense of the word. This power is now being put into the hands of Judges of the High Court, who, I am sure, in the opinion of the Whole House, may be trusted to exercise it with care and discretion. Obviously, they will not issue a warrant unless they are satisfied that there is documentary evidence. To put in a provision that you have actually to specify the documents would, in our opinion, be to require a greater degree of particularity than is necessary. The information might not be in the possession of the authorities in cases where it would be perfectly proper to go to a judge and obtain a search warrant.
§ 9.57 p.m.
§ Mr. ATTLEE
This is really a very vital point in the Bill. The refusal to accept the Amendment shows that the Government want the old general warrant. They want the right to get an order and to go and search someone's house. That is a roving commission to 303 search to find evidence, because the Government have not the information. The Solicitor-General says that they might not know the exact documents. That is precisely the device of every kind of tyrannical Government. The whole point is that you have a Government which does not know what it wants. If there are definite documents intended to be used by the Communist party or someone to seduce the troops and they want to know where they are, that could be specified. But what the Government want is not that at all. They want really to search the houses of certain people whom they suspect. They do not know whether they have this, that or any other document. The Bill is to be used against people who, the Government think, are likely to use this kind of method. That is why a roving commission is wanted. Our point is that, if the Government seek this power, if they want evidence, they must state what the evidence is. Then under the Bill they can go and search the house and find it. That is not the act of a strong Government but of a Government that gets the wind up. If they have a reasonable suspicion that there is such evidence, they should specify in the warrant what it is they are going to search for. Instead of that, they say, "We do not know what there is to search for, but give us a warrant to see if we can find some evidence to bolster up our prejudices."
§ 10.2 p.m.
§ Mr. COCKS
The Solicitor-General says it is absurd to apply to a judge and to suggest what you want with such great particularity, but our whole freedom is involved. The Attorney-General may laugh. His liberty is not involved. This is class legislation which will only be directed to the poor and obscure and not to eminent people. I do not imagine that the Attorney-General's office will ever be searched, or even the Prime Minister's. In any case it would be useless to search the Prime Minister's office for anything, because no one can understand what his speeches or articles mean. They are so obscure that no judge would convict him. The Solicitor-General says, "Here is a ease where search is to be made in people's private premises." I do not know so much about the judges as he does, but I should imagine a judge would 304 ask what sort of evidence was wanted. He would want a more definite description of what was wanted. He would like to know whether they are documents or other articles. We do not ask the Solicitor-General to say they are documents printed on a certain kind of paper or in a certain kind of ink. We want him to say what kind of thing it is that he is looking for. We do not want him to go to a person's house and find the notes of his speeches, or the books upon which those speeches are founded. What is the offence in connection with which premises can be searched? It is not necessarily a question of corrupting soldiers in barracks or sailors in ships.
There is a point which has not been sufficiently emphasised. Nearly everyone has suggested that the Bill is going to operate at once in the condition of the country as it is at present, when most of those who serve in the Army are in barracks and most people in the Navy are definitely in ships, and we know who they are. I am suggesting a state of things when the country is at war and every one of a military age, say between 17 and 45, is nominally a soldier.
§ Mr. PIKE
The position in war time would be completely covered by the introduction of the Emergency Act.
§ Mr. COCKS
There is no Emergency Act in existence at the present time, and I want to know what is to happen. We are talking about people who are supposed to counsel some views to their own children who may be of military age.
Does the Solicitor-General suggest that the police might go and search the house and see a mother's letters to her children, for example, which might say, "My dear George—or Thomas, or whatever the name might be—I know you have to make a great decision, but before you decide to go and fight and drop bombs on other people, I will counsel you in the name of our common religion to read certain texts of scripture," and so on. That is the sort of thing which might be information suggested by the Solicitor-General. There is no end to it. The whole Bill is drafted in such vague language that it might embody all sorts 305 of things. It might embody even speeches by the Attorney-General upon the value of the Sabbath, and so on. Certain things should not be done on Sundays. I do not think that raids, for example, should be made on Sundays. Something to that effect ought to be put in the Bill so that there should not be raids when everybody was going to church. It is a disgraceful thing for the Attorney-General to put his name to a Bill which allows raids on a Sunday when everybody is going to church. I am surprised that he is to allow the police to raid peaceful, quiet, God-loving homes in this way.
When the Attorney-General or Solicitor General goes to a judge lie ought specifically to state the kind of information he is trying to find. I do not say that they should say document "A" or document "B," but they should say a certain kind of document. Prayer books and Bibles might be thrown into the street by policemen who did not hold such high religious
§ views as the Attorney-General. Why should the family Bible be taken off the table and thrown into the street or a search made for texts marked by someone or other? It is disgraceful. The Bill should contain definite instructions that the evidence required by the Attorney-General for the purposes of prosecution should be of a certain kind and not of a general kind, otherwise, as my hon. Friend the Member for Limehouse (Mr. Attlee) said, we are instituting the principle of general warrant which all historians say was an outrage on British liberty. I do not think that the victory for that liberty gained in the 18th century should be rejected and discarded even by a National Government.
§ Question put, "That those words be there inserted in the proposed Amendment."
§ The House divided: Ayes, 73; Noes, 280.307
|Division No. 375.]||AYES||[10.10 p.m.|
|Adams, D. M. (Poplar, South)||Griffith, F. Kingsley (Middlesbro', W.)||Mailalleu, Edward Lancelot|
|Addison, Rt. Hon. Dr. Christopher||Griffiths, George A. (Yorks, W. Riding)||Mander, Geoffrey Le M.|
|Attlee, Clement Richard||Grundy, Thomas W.||Maxton, James|
|Banfield, John William||Hall. George H. (Merthyr Tydvil)||Milner, Major James|
|Batey, Joseph||Harris, Sir Percy||Nathan, Major H. L.|
|Bernays, Robert||Hicks, Ernest George||Owen, Major Goronwy|
|Bevan, Aneurin (Ebbw Vale)||Holdsworth, Herbert||Paling, Wilfred|
|Brown, C. W. E. (Notts., Mansfield)||Janner, Barnett||Parkinson, John Allen|
|Buchanan. George||Jenkins, Sir William||Rathbone, Eleanor|
|Cape, Thomas||John, William||Rea, Walter Russell|
|Cocks, Frederick Seymour||Johnstone, Harcourt (S. Shields)||Roberts, Aled (Wrexham)|
|Cove, William G.||Jones, Henry Haydn (Merioneth)||Salter, Dr. Alfred|
|Daggar, George||Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly)||Sinclair. Maj. Rt. Hn. Sir A. (C'thnees)|
|Davies, David L. (Pontypridd)||Kirkwood, David||Smith, Tom (Normanton)|
|Davies, Rhys John (Westhoughton)||Lansbury, Rt. Hon. George||Strauss, G. R. (Lambeth, North)|
|Davies, Stephen Owen||Lawson, John James||Thorne, William James|
|Dabble, William||Leonard, William||Tinker, John Joseph|
|Edwards, Charles||Llewellyn-Jones, Frederick||West, F. R.|
|Evans, David Owen (Cardigan)||Logan, David Gilbert||White, Henry Graham|
|Evans, R. T. (Carmarthen)||Lunn, William||Williams, Edward John (Ogmore)|
|Foot, Dingle (Dundee)||Macdonald, Gordon (Ince)||Wilmot, John|
|Foot, Isaac (Cornwall. Bodmin)||McEntee, Valentine L.||Young, Ernest J. (Middlesbrough, E.)|
|Gardner, Benjamin Walter||McGovern, John|
|George, Major G. Lloyd (Pembroke)||Maclean, Nell (Glasgow, Govan)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES —|
|George, Megan A. Lloyd (Anglesea)||Mainwaring, William Henry||Mr. Groves and Mr. D. Graham.|
|Acland-Troyte, Lieut.-Colonel||Boyce, H. Leslie||Chapman, Col. R. (Houghton-le-Spring)|
|Adams, Samuel Vyvyan T. (Leeds, W.)||Braithwaite, Maj. A. N. (Yorks, E. R.)||Christle, James Archibald|
|Allen, Lt.-Col. J. Sandeman (B'k'nh'd.)||Brass, Captain Sir William||Clarry, Reginald George|
|Applin, Lieut.-Col. Reginald V. K.||Broadbent, Colonel John||Clayton, Sir Christopher|
|Aysley, Lord||Brocklebank, C. E. R.||Cochrane, Commander Hon. A. D.|
|Poke, Sir Robert William||Brown, Col. D. C. (N'th'I'd., Hexham)||Coifox, Major William Philip|
|Assheton, Ralph||Brown, Brig.-Gen. H. C. (Berks., Newb'y)||Conant. R. J. E.|
|Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley||Browne, Captain A. C.||Cook, Thomas A.|
|Balfour, Capt. Harold (I. of Thanet)||Buchan, John||Cooke, Douglas|
|Barclay-Harvey, C. M.||Burghley, Lord||Copeland. Ida|
|Beauchamp, Sir Brograve Campbell||Burgin, Dr. Edward Leslie||Courtauld, Major John Sewell|
|Beaumont, M. W. (Bucks., Aylesbury)||Burnett, John George||Craddock. Sir Reginald Henry|
|Beaumont. Hon. R. E. B. (Portsm'th, C.)||Cadogan, Hon. Edward||Craven-Ellis William|
|Birchall, Major Sir John Dearman||Campbell, Sir Edward Taswell (Brmly)||Critchley, Brig.-General A. C.|
|Blindell, James||Campbell. Vice-Admiral G. (Burnley)||Crooke. J. Smedley|
|Borodale, Viscount||Caporn, Arthur Cecil||Crookshank, Capt. H. C. (Gainsb'[...])|
|Bossom, A. C.||Carver, Major William H.||Croom-Johnson, R. P.|
|Boulton, W. W.||Cassels, James Dale||Cross, R. H.|
|Bowater, Col. Sir T. Vansittart||Cayzer, Maj. Sir H. R. (Prtsmth., S.)||Cruddas, Lieut.-Colonel Bernard|
|Bower, Commander Robert Tatton||Cazalet, Capt. V. A. (Chlppenham)||Culverwell, Cyril Tom|
|Davies, Edward C. (Montgomery)||Law, Richard K. (Hull, S.W.)||Roberts, Sir Samuel (Ecclesall)|
|Davies, Maj. Geo. F. (Somerset, Yeovil)||Leckie, J. A.||Ropner, Colonel L.|
|Denman, Hon. R. D.||Leech, Dr. J. W.||Rosbotham, Sir Thomas|
|Denville, Alfred||Leighton, Major B. E. P.||Ross, Ronald D.|
|Dickie, John P.||Lewis, Oswald||Ross Taylor, Walter (Woodbridge)|
|Doran, Edward||Liddall, Walter S.||Ruggles-Brise, Colonel E. A.|
|Drewe, Cedric||Lindsay, Kenneth (Kilmarnock)||Runge, Norah Cecil|
|Drummond-Wolff, H. M. C.||Lindsay, Noel Ker||Russell, Alexander West (Tynemouth)|
|Duckworth, George A. V.||Lister, Rt. Hon. Sir Philip Cunliffe-||Russell, Hamer Field (Sheffield, B'tside)|
|Dugdale, Captain Thomas Lional||Liewellin, Major John J.||Rutherford, Sir John Hugo (Liverp'l)|
|Duggan, Hubert John||Lockwood, John C. (Hackney, C.)||Salmon, Sir Isidore|
|Duncan. James A. L. (Kensington, N.)||Lockwood, Capt. J. H. (Shipley)||Sandeman, Sir A. N. Stewart|
|Eastwood, John Francis||Loder, Captain J. de Vere||Sanderson, Sir Frank Barnard|
|Ellis, Sir R. Geoffrey||Loftus, Pierce C.||Sassoon, Rt. Hon. Sir Philip A. G. D.|
|Elmley, Viscount||Lumley, Captain Lawrence R.||Savery, Samuel Servington|
|Emrys-Evans, P. V.||Lyons, Abraham Montagu||Scone, Lord|
|Entwistle, Cyril Fullard||Mabane, William||Selley, Harry R.|
|Essenhigh, Reginald Clare||MacAndrew, Lieut.-Col. C. G. (Partick)||Shakespeare, Geoffrey H.|
|Flint, Abraham John||MacAndrew, Capt. J. O. (Ayr)||Shaw, Helen B. (Lanark, Bothwell)|
|Fox, Sir Gifford||McConnell, Sir Joseph||Shaw, Captain William T. (Forfar)|
|Fremantle, Sir Francis||Macdonald, Capt. P. D. (I. of W.)||Shepperson, Sir Ernest W.|
|Fuller, Captain A. G.||McEwen, Captain J. H. F.||Shute, Colonel J. J.|
|Gibson, Charles Granville||McKie, John Hamilton||Skelton, Archibald Noel|
|Gillett, Sir George Masterman||McLean, Dr. W. H. (Tradeston)||Slater, John|
|Gilmour, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir John||Magnay, Thomas||Smiles, Lieut.-Col. Sir Walter D.|
|Glossop, C. W. H.||Maitland, Adam||Smith, Bracewell (Dulwich)|
|Gluckstein, Louis Halle||Makins, Brigadier-General Ernest||Smith, Sir J. Walker- (Barrow-in-F.)|
|Goff, Sir Park||Manningham-Buller, Lt.-Col. Sir M.||Smith, Louis W. (Sheffield, Hallam)|
|Goodman, Colonel Albert W.||Margesson, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. D. R.||Smith, Sir Robert (Ab'd'n & K'dine, C.)|
|Gower. Sir Robert||Marsden, Commander Arthur||Somervell, Sir Donald|
|Graham, Sir F. Fergus (C'mb'ri'd, N.)||Mason, Col. Glyn K. (Croydon, N.)||Somerville, Annesley A. (Windsor)|
|Grattan-Doyle, Sir Nicholas||Mayhew, Lieut.-Colonel John||Soper, Richard|
|Grimston, R. V.||Mellen, Sir Richard James||Sotheron-Estcourt, Captain T. E.|
|Gritten, W. G. Howard||Mills, Major J. D. (New Forest)||Spears, Brigadier-General Edward L.|
|Gunston, Captain D. W.||Mline, Charles||Spens, William Patrick|
|Guy, J. C. Morrison||Mitchell, Harold P. (Br'tf'd & Chlsw'k)||Stanley, Rt. Hon. Lord (Fylde)|
|Hales, Harold K.||Moison, A. Hugh Elsdale||Stanley, Rt. Hon. Oliver (W'morland)|
|Hamilton, Sir George (Ilford)||Monsell, Rt. Hon. Sir B. Eyres||Stevenson. James|
|Hammersley, Samuel S.||Moore, Lt.-Col. Thomas C. R. (Ayr)||Stones, James|
|Hartland, George A.||Moreing, Adrian C.||Storey, Samuel|
|Harvey, George (Lambeth, Kenningt'n)||Morris, John Patrick (Salford, N.)||Stourton, Hon. John J.|
|Harvey, Major S. E. (Devon, Totnes)||Morris-Jones, Dr. J. H. (Denbigh)||Strauss, Edward A.|
|Haslam, Sir John (Bolton)||Morrison, William Shepherd||Strickland, Captain W. F.|
|Headlam, Lieut.-Col. Cuthbert M.||Muirhead, Lieut.-Colonel A. J.||Sueter, Rear-Admiral Sir Murray F.|
|Heilgers, Captain F. F. A.||Munro, Patrick||Sutcliffe, Harold|
|Heneage Lieut.-Colonel Arthur P.||Nation. Brigadier-General J. J. H.||Taylor, Vice-Admiral E. A. (P'dd'nt'n, S.)|
|Hepworth, Joseph||Normand, Rt. Hon. Wilfrid||Thomas, James P. L. (Hereford)|
|Herbert, Major J. A. (Monmouth)||Nunn, William||Thomas, Major L. B. (King's Norton)|
|Hills, Major Rt. Hon. John Waller||O'Connor, Terence James||Thomson, Sir Frederick Charles|
|Hope, Sydney (Chester, Stalybridge)||O'Donovan, Dr. William James||Todd, Lt.-Col. A. J. K. (B'wick-on-T.)|
|Hopkinson, Austin||Oman. Sir Charles William C.||Touche. Gordon Cosmo|
|Hornby, Frank||Orr Ewing, I. L.||Tufnell, Lieut.-Commander R. L.|
|Horsbrugh, Florence||Patrick, Colin M.||Ward, Lt.-Col. Sir A. L. (Hull)|
|Howard, Tom Forrest||Peake, Osbert||Wa[...]d, Irene Mary Bewick (Wallsend)|
|Howitt, Dr. Alfred B.||Pearson, William G.||Ward, Sarah Adelaide (Cannock)|
|Hudson, Capt. A. U. M. (Hackney, N.)||Peat, Charles U.||Wardlaw-Mline, Sir John S.|
|Hudson, Robert Spear (Southport)||Penny, Sir George||Warrender, Sir Victor A. G.|
|Hume, Sir George Hopwood||Perkins, Walter R. D.||Waterhouse, Captain Charles|
|Hunter, Dr. Joseph (Dumfries)||Petherick, M.||Whiteside, Borras Noel H.|
|Hutchison, W. D. (Essex, Romf'd)||Peto, Geoffrey K (W'verh'pt'n, Bilston)||Whyte, Jardine Bell|
|Inside, Rt. Hon. Sir Thomas W. H.||Pike, Cecil F.||Williams, Charles (Devon, Torquay)|
|Iveagh, Countess of||Powell, Lieut.-Col. Evelyn G. H.||Williams. Herbert G. (Croydon, S.)|
|Jackson, J. C. (Heywood & Radcliffe)||Power, Sir John Cecil||Wills, Wilfrid D.|
|James, Wing-Com. A. W. H.||Procter. Major Henry Adam||Wilson, G. H. A. (Cambridge U.)|
|Jamieson, Douglas||Radford, E. A.||Windsor-Clive, Lieut.-Colonel George|
|Jennings, Roland||Raikes, Henry V. A. M.||Winterton, Rt. Hon. Earl|
|Jesson, Major Thomas E.||Ramsay, Capt. A. H. M. (Midlothian)||Wise. Alfred R.|
|Johnston, J. W. (Clackmannan)||Ramsay, T. B. W. (Western Isles)||Womersley, Sir Walter|
|Kerr, Lieut.-Col. Charles (Montrose)||Ramsbotham, Herwald||Worthington, Dr. John V.|
|Kerr, Hamilton W.||Ramsden, Sir Eugene||Young, Rt. Hon. Sir Hilton (S'y'noaks)|
|Keyes, Admiral Sir Roger||Reed, Arthur C. (Exeter)|
|Kimball, Lawrence||Reid, David D. (County Down)||TELLERS FOR THE NOES—|
|Kirkpatrick, William M.||Reid, William Allan (Derby)||Captain Sir George Bowyer and Commander Southby.|
|Lamb, Sir Joseph Quinton||Rhys, Hon. Charles Arthur U.|
|Law, Sir Alfred||Rickards, George William|
Question, "That the proposed words, as amended, be there inserted in the Bill," put, and agreed to.
§ Mr. SPEAKER
An Amendment consequential on the Amendment moved 308 by the hon. Member for Gorbals (Mr.. Buchanan) and accepted by the House is necessary here.
§ Amendment agreed to.
§ 10.24 p.m.
§ Mr. MALLALIEU
I beg to move, in page 2, line 3, after the first "any," to insert:other persons named in the warrant and any.This is an Amendment necessitated by one which I propose to move later, but with your permission I will deal with both Amendments now. It is unnecessary For me to explain the position but when a similar proposal was considered in Committee the right hon. Gentleman accepted the principle and stated that he would try and find suitable words to carry it into effect. The right hon. and learned Gentleman has now intimated that he proposes to accept certain words of my Amendment as a result of consultation with the officials, and, therefore, I do not propose to weary the House with any further details.
§ 70.25 p.m.
§ The ATTORNEY-GENERAL
The charge has been made against me that I refused to accept the principle of this Amendment in Committee, and by so doing made it possible for police officers to commit an offensive act against a woman. I have been very much reproached about this in letters addressed to me and the Prime Minister, and I am very much obliged to the hon. Member for stating that I accepted this proposal in principle and merely left the words to be settled on the Report stage.
§ The ATTORNEY-GENERAL
That a woman should always be present to carry out any search that might be necessary upon another woman.
§ Amendment agreed to.
§ Further Amendments made: In page 2, line 3, after "enter," insert "the premises or place."
§ In line 5, leave out "any premises or place named in the warrant."—[The Attorney-General.]310
§ Amendment agreed to.
§ Further Amendments made: In page 2, line 11, leave out from "that" to "a" in line 17.
§ In line leave out "Provided that," and insert "(b)."—[The Attorney-General.]
§ 10.29 p.m.
§ Miss RATHBONE
I beg to move, in page 2, line 20, at the end, to insert:Provided that if a search warrant under this Act has been executed on any premises in the absence of the occupier of the premises, it shall be the duty of the officer of police who has conducted or directed the search to notify the occupier that the search has taken place and to supply him with a list of any documents or other objects which have been removed from the premises.The Attorney-General notified yesterday that he would be willing to accept this Amendment, and I shall not therefore take up much time in moving it. There are three observations I wish to make very briefly. First, I would like to thank the Attorney General for accepting the Amendment. We must all recognise that, though his concessions to-day and on previous days do not satisfy those of us who object to this Bill in principle, he has shown considerable elasticity of mind and magnanimity in the readiness with which he has accepted Amendments. It is quite obvious that the Attorney-General when he recognised the sort of monstrosity that was being foisted upon him by the Service Departments did his best to try to lick the creature into shape. The second thing I would like to say is that I wish he could have seen his way to have gone further and to have accepted the Amendment which appears earlier on the Paper—
In page 2, line 10, at end, insert:Before executing a search warrant in the absence of both the occupier of the premises and the person suspected of an offence under the Act, the officer charged with the search shall, where possible, inform the occupier and the suspected person and invite them to be present at the search, and if neither of them can be found without unduly delaying the search the officer shall secure the presence at the search of a magistrate or of some person or persons who may reasonably be regarded as representing the interests of the occupier and of the suspected person.311 I think we must all recognise that although the present Amendment does provide a certain safeguard for the suspected person in that he will no longer be subject to finding that his premises have been broken into and articles removed without even being officially told that this has happened, it does not really remove the objection in general to search without the presence of the suspected person or the occupier. Simply being told afterwards that documents have been removed does not provide any safeguard against the danger of planting. Those of us who have the highest possible respect for the police as a body must recognise that the police, like every other body, may have black sheep in their midst and that the possibility of fictitious planting is real. The third and last thing I would say is this. I do not know whether you, Mr. Speaker, intend to call an Amendment to the Amendment which comes later on the Paper, but I recognise that this Amendment would have been better if the wordsin the absence of the occupier of the premiseshad been omitted. When I made my draft my mind was fixed upon the supposed wrongs of this absentee suspected person, and, therefore, I inserted these words, but I appeal to the Attorney-General to recognise that even in cases where the suspected person has been present at the search, it may not be possible for him in the darkness possibly, or the confusion of the moment, to take a full note of the documents that are being removed though he may be allowed to see them. It would be a great matter if this list of documents could be supplied to suspected persons and occupiers even when they have been present and, therefore, I would appeal to the Attorney-General to accept my Amendment without these words.
§ 10.34 p.m.
§ Dr. ADDISON
I beg to move, as an Amendment to the proposed Amendment, in line 2, to leave out "in the absence of the occupier of the premises."
This Amendment to the proposed Amendment seeks to give effect to the wish expressed by the hon. Lady in her concluding remarks. It would provide 312 that whether the occupier is present at the search or not, he is entitled to be provided with a list of the documents which have been removed. The mere fact that he happens to have been absent when the search took place, should not alone entitle him to have a list of the documents removed. He should equally be entitled if he has been present at the search. If a number of documents have been removed he is entitled to know what they are. The Attorney-General knows that it would be possible for the police to take barrow-loads of documents from premises. Who could say what was or what was not in that mass of documents? The right hon. and learned Gentleman has accepted the principle of the Amendment, and I will not therefore stress the point now. I hope he will agree that whether the occupier was there or not, he is entitled to have a list of what has been removed.
§ The ATTORNEY-GENERAL
The combination of the right hon. Gentleman and the hon. Lady is irresistible, and I am very glad to accept the Amendment to the proposed Amendment.
§ 10.36 p.m.
§ Mr. O'CONNOR
Before my right hon. and learned Friend accepts this, is he satisfied that the occupier of the premises may be the person who is suspected of committing the offence? It may be someone quite different. The occupier may be the owner of a flat, and the person suspected of committing the offence may be a lodger, and why the occupier should be notified of the contents of documents belonging to the lodger passes my comprehension.
§ 10.37 p.m.
§ Mr. COCKS
I think the point made by the hon. and learned Member for Central Nottingham (Mr. O'Connor) is worthy of consideration. Suppose the right hon. Member for Carnarvon Boroughs (Mr. Lloyd George) lets his agricultural estate at Churt to somebody else, and suppose that place is searched. The documents in connection with a recent book that has been published may quite probably come under the terms of this Bill. In that book the right hon. Gentleman has made certain charges against the high command in Flanders.
§ Mr. COCKS
I am using it as an illustration. That particular house at Churt contains a lot of valuable documents, and it may happen in the course of time that the present owner may let that house to somebody else, who will then become the occupier under this Amendment. Why involve the occupier, who might make some statement which might bring him under the purview of the Attorney-General, who may send his myrmidons to Churt and seize documents belonging, not to the occupier, but to the owner—very important and damaging documents, if they came into the possession of the Government. The Government might even destroy them and would probably be willing to destroy them, and I think it is very important that if any documents have beers removed, not only the occupier but the owner should be notified of what has happened. I think that the right hon. Member for Carnarvon in the case that I have mentioned should be notified of what has happened if his house has been raided and documents seized. I, therefore, support the hon. and learned Member for Central Nottingham in his appeal to the Attorney-General to include the word "owner" as well as "occupier."
§ Amendment to the proposed Amendment agreed to.
Further Amendment to the proposed Amendment made: In line 5, at the end, add:
and where any documents have been removed from any other person to supply that person with a list of such documents." —[Dr. Addison.]
Further Amendment made: In page 2, line 20, after the words last inserted, insert:
(2) No woman shall, in pursuance of a warrant issued under the last foregoing subsection, be searched except by a woman."—[Mr. Mallalieu.]