§ 4.25 p.m.
§ Mr. Tinker
I beg to move, in page I, line 10, at the end, to insert:Provided that he shall make a report to Parliament at least once in every three months as to the number of occasions upon which such powers have been exercised and the number of persons affected thereby.
§ 4.25 p.m.
§ The Secretary of State for the Home Department (Sir Samuel Hoare)
Before the hon. Member proceeds to speak on his Amendment, perhaps it would be well if I said that I am ready to accept it.
§ Amendment agreed to.1503
§ 4.26 p.m.
§ Sir S. Hoare
Before the hon. Member for Dundee (Mr. Foot) moves his Amendment—in page 1, line 11, at the beginning, insert: "Subject to the provisions of the Schedule to this Act "—I should be obliged to you, Sir Dennis, if you would give the Committee some guidance as to the course which the Debate will take on this Amendment and other similar Amendments. There is a number of Amendments on the Paper all of which, in one form or another, raise the question of judicial procedure or judicial vetoes on the Secretary of State's power. I suggest that it would be better to have a general discussion on the Amendments and then, if necessary, to have separate Divisions on individual Amendments, but to have only one discussion.
I think the Committee will agree in the main with the right hon. Gentleman's suggestion. The discussion of the Amendment in the name of the hon. Member for Dundee (Mr. Foot) necessarily involves the discussion of the proposed new Schedule in his name and necessarily involves, no doubt, considerable reference to an Amendment relating to the same issue standing in the name of the right hon. Gentleman himself; I have regarded these in my mind as superseding also certain other Amendments dealing with the same principle. All those methods of dealing with the particular matter at issue would, of course, be open to discussion on this Amendment.
§ 4.28 p.m.
§ Mr. Logan
Before a general discussion takes place, I should like to have some guidance from you, Sir Dennis. I should like to know how I shall be able to raise the question of organisations which are not attached to this particular body, but which may be Irish bodies of a kindred kind in this country, and whether the right of entry given in this Bill will apply in the case of those kindred organisations. There would be a necessity for a differentiation, and I should like to be able to raise the question as to what the Minister intends to do under this Bill in regard to those bodies.
I think that is a matter for debate and not a matter in which I can help the hon. Member. He speaks of different organisations, but as far as I 1504 have ascertained, no organisation is referred to in the Bill.
§ Mr. Logan
I am aware of that, Sir Dennis, but there cannot be persons without an organisation; and therefore, it follows that the right of entry might be given in the case of a particular body, outside the purview of this body, when it came within the category of certain people who might be mentioned in the Bill. I am anxious to know how kindred organisations, having individual membership, would be protected in regard to the right of entry, and whether the right of entry will be given ad lib with regard to any of those bodies.
That is, obviously, a matter upon which I cannot give the hon. Member any guidance at this stage. If it arises on any of the Clauses of the Bill, he will have an opportunity of referring to it later.
§ Mr. Pritt
With regard to the proposal that there should be a general discussion to cover, once and for all, the question of the extent to which the judiciary is to be allowed to come into this matter, I am the last person to waste time or to have unnecessary repetition but, at the same time, I feel a little anxious in this respect. The question of principle, of how the judiciary can be brought into this matter at any particular stage, may arise in very different forms in relation perhaps to three or four different provisions in the Bill. I should not like to find myself in an hour or two in the position of learning that something to which I attached importance was something which I could not discuss, or, alternatively, being compelled on this Amendment to make a speech which I did not want to make at this stage, to which nobody wanted to listen at this stage and which was not properly applicable or properly apprehended at this stage.
I do not want to suggest that the right hon. Gentleman used language which appeared to mean more than he intended; but I think this is a matter in regard to which the hon. and learned Gentleman may rely upon the Chair. I intended only to widen the discussion as far as was necessary to allow us to deal with the principle raised by the Amendment which I have called, coupled with the proposed Schedule in the name 1505 of the hon. Member for Dundee (Mr. Foot) and other hon. Members. There are probably other parts of the Bill in relation to which the question of the position of the judiciary may arise. In such cases, of course, the question will clearly be open for discussion except in so far as concerns any Amendment on which it may be sought to do something contrary (not to what any hon. Member had said in the course of the discussion), but contrary to a decision already arrived at by the Committee.
§ 4.33 p.m.
§ Mr. Dingle Foot
I beg to move, in page I, line II, at the beginning, to insert:Subject to the provisions of the Schedule to this Act.The object of this Amendment is to provide that the power of making an expulsion order, contained in Clause I shall only be exercised subject to the provisions of the proposed Schedule (Procedure for making expulsion and prohibition orders) which will be found later on the Order Paper. We have a similar Amendment referring to the case of prohibition orders. We propose that no expulsion or prohibition order should be made except where a judge has made a report on the case, and that, before exercising his discretion the Secretary of State must have regard to the judge's report and to any recommendations which the judge may make. It is also proposed that notice must be served on anybody against whom it is proposed to make an order, calling upon him to appear on a certain date before a judge in chambers to show cause why the order should not be made against him. There is also a provision that evidence may be taken and that the person against whom it is proposed to make the order shall have an opportunity of knowing the charges against him and of cross-examining the witnesses who support those charges. Finally we propose that if the judge definitely recommends that no order should be made, then the right hon. Gentleman shall not be empowered to make the expulsion or prohibition order at all. Apart from that we leave him a certain measure of discretion.
1506 I do not suggest that the proposed procedure is ideal or that it is one which I would wish to see followed in the normal course. But I think it represents a. great improvement on what is in the Bill and it is certainly a great deal better than what the right hon. Gentleman himself proposes in a later Amendment to Clause 2. This raises the biggest issue in the Bill, namely whether a person against whom it is proposed to make one of these orders is to have any form of hearing or trial. That is the fundamental question which we have to decide. As the Bill stands, there is no provision for any hearing or trial and I think it was a scandal that a Minister should stand at that Box and recommend that that should be so. We have now seen the terms of the Amendment which the right hon. Gentleman has put upon the Order Paper and to which I presume I may refer. In this Amendment it is proposed that if the person on whom notice has been served objects, and says that there are no grounds for making the proposed order, he may state in writing the reasons for his objection and the Secretary of State shall, unless he considers the reasons to be frivolous, refer the matter to the advice of a person nominated by him not being an officer of police or of any Government Department, and the person so nominated shall interview the objector, examine his objections and report to the Secretary of State.
That procedure, of course, is very different from what I am suggesting in this Amendment and in the proposed Schedule. We do not know who is to be the person appointed by the Secretary of State. If he is appointed by the Secretary of State he can be dismissed by the Secretary of State and he is therefore in a very different position from a judge who is independent of the Home Office. One can well imagine that if the Home Office considered that the person who had been appointed for this purpose was taking too favourable a view of these cases, they would probably substitute somebody else. Apart from that the right hon. Gentleman's Amendment, although an improvement on the Bill as it stands, does not meet the chief objections which we have put forward to Clause I. In the first place, there is no opportunity for the man who is charged to know what case is being brought against him. He does 1507 not know the grounds on which it is proposed to make the order against him. He is expected to meet a case which he has not heard. If he is an innocent man, all he can say is, "I have never had any connection with the Irish Republican Army." He is required to prove a negative, which is always, as the right hon. Gentleman knows, exceedingly difficult. He does not know who his accusers are. He has to make representations in writing and a person appointed by the Home Secretary is then to consider the matter.
Again, under this procedure, the accused person has no opportunity of cross-examining the witnesses who support the charges. That is a vital difference. It is not enough for some persons appointed by the Home Secretary and for the right hon. Gentleman himself to examine carefully the various statements made. The right hon. Gentleman gave an undertaking that he would, himself, examine with the greatest care every one of these cases, but all he will do will be to examine the reports of the person he has appointed and these various written statements which are put before him. That is very different from anything in the form of a trial. Again and again, those of us who spend some of our time in the criminal courts, have seen cases in which, on the depositions, it looked as if there could be no defence. But as soon as you get the witnesses for the prosecution into the box, and cross-examine them when the other witnesses are out of court and show the jury the discrepancies in their evidence you often find that there is no foundation for the charge.
I would remind the Committee of one famous example—not in this country— which took place thousands of years ago namely the case of Susanna and the Elders. Under the procedure proposed in this Bill and in the right hon. Gentleman's Amendment, Susanna would have been disbelieved, because there would have been only these written statements and there would have been no opportunity of cross-examining the Elders. Susanna would have been stoned to death and the Elders would have been justified and held up as examples to all men. That must, inevitably, have happened if the right of cross-examining the witnesses for the prosecution had been taken away in that case and that is bound 1508 to happen in some cases if a procedure such as the right hon. Gentleman now suggests, is embodied in the Bill. I am not under-estimating the concession which the right hon. Gentleman has made but it does not go far enough. I think he must go further. There must be, first, a statement of the grounds on which, and the reasons for which, it is proposed to make the order; secondly, there should be an opportunity for cross-examining the witnesses who support the charge, and, thirdly, the investigation should be carried out, not by a person appointed by and responsible to the Home Secretary, but by someone in the position of a judge who does not owe his office to the favour of a Government Department.
§ 4.42 p.m.
§ Sir S. Hoare
The hon. Member for Dundee (Mr. Foot) whose knowledge of the Bible is as great as his father's knowledge of Burke. In the course of a very persuasive speech, and I say at once that the point which he has raised goes to the heart of the Bill and deals with the principle on which the Bill is based. I wish at the very beginning of this Committee stage to put before hon. Members the position as the Government see it. Let us begin by considering what is common ground between us. First, I suggest that, assuming that the men who are to be brought within the scope of the Bill are potential terrorists, the procedure we propose is a very reasonable procedure. What is in the minds of hon. Members is not the position of the guilty, but the risk to the innocent. Secondly, I suggest, we are all agreed that we should take every possible precaution that is practicable within the scope of the Bill against injustice being done and against mistakes being made. It is worth remembering that there are a number of safeguards already in the Bill.
First there is the scope of the Bill, which we have made as narrow and as limited as we could. We intend that the Bill shall be restricted to the cases of these potential terrorists and if any hon. Member can suggest a narrower or better definition to make it quite clear that we do not want to use these powers generally in other fashions, we shall be perfectly ready to consider such suggestions. The Title of the Bill is, I would remind the Committee, a much more restricted Title 1509 than the Title of the Official Secrets Act, to which reference was made more than once in the Second Reading Debate. Secondly, there is the further safeguard that we restrict the scope of the Bill to persons who have not been resident here for a certain number of years. That again is a further safeguard, restricting it to comparatively recent arrivals in this country. Thirdly, the duration of the Bill is limited to two years, and that shows in itself that it is meant to be an emergency Measure to meet what we hope will prove to be a temporary emergency. Lastly, there is the general safeguard of Parliamentary control, and there is the undertaking, which I gave in the course of the Second Reading Debate, that the Secretary of State would look individually into every one of these cases.
The hon. Member for Dundee wishes us to go further and to add the safeguard of what is really a judicial procedure. He said that such a procedure would allow the Secretary of State some discretion, but within a very narrow field. The only discretion to be allowed the Secretary of State would be that he should be allowed to confirm the orders alreadymade—not a very wide discretion. He further wishes to introduce into the procedure of the Bill the procedure of the law courts. These proposals do really strike at the very root of the Bill. If we felt that the police could carry out their duties effectively without these extra-judicial powers, we should not come to the House of Commons to-day; we should take the cases into the courts of law, and we should hope to get convictions. But the very basis of this Bill is that there is a number of cases of suspicion in connection with this conspiracy to which this legal procedure is not applicable. I do not want to gloss over the fact at all. There is the fact that we have in mind a number of suspects in the country, whom we are convinced are at the centre of this trouble, whom, for one reason or another, we cannot take into a court of law, and in whose cases the ordinary legal procedure is not applicable. They are not cases in which you can have the ordinary legal cross-examination. If you did, you would endanger, not only your sources of information, but the lives of individuals who are in contact with the Government.
The older Members of this House will remember the early days of this Irish agitation. Time after time these blood 1510 vendettas went on, and one or other man who was in contact with the Government was killed, very likely quite a long time after the incident. We cannot run that risk. These are essentially cases, as I say, to which legal procedure is not applicable. If you set up a legal procedure, I am inclined, speaking as a layman, to think that it would be a mere parody of what we believe to be the way in which legal proceedings should be conducted. These cases, by the admission of the hon. Member, ought to be held in camera. I cannot myself see, in cases of suspicion of this kind, the ordinary legal procedure applying. In fact, I think the result would be to set up a new system of Star Chambers, in which a judge would be apparently acting upon a basis of legal procedure, but in actual practice he would not be so acting, and in which the House of Commons would not have the remedy, supposing the powers were abused, as it has in the Bill, against the Secretary of State.
§ Sir S. Hoare
Suppose the Secretary of State is convinced that an order should be made in the interests of the security of the State, and suppose the judge for some reason or other refuses that order. The Secretary of State cannot make the order, and subsequently the man blows up the Houses of Parliament. Who is responsible then? [Hon. Members: "You would be."] It is a very inverted form of responsibility. Let me remind hon. Members that the basis of the Bill is preventive. We are not imprisoning the suspects, we are not proposing to put them into internment camps; all that we are proposing to do is to send them back to the country from which they came.
Sir S. Hoares
I can give the hon. Member the assurance that that is the intention of the Government. This is not the kind of case that was more than once quoted in the Second Reading Debate, of a British citizen being sent to prison without charge. It is preventive action. We want to get these people out of the country and to prevent them 1511 coining into the country, and I should have thought, taking that into account, and taking into account the objections that I have urged against the introduction of judicial procedure, that the Committee generally would come to the conclusion that any proposal such as is made by the hon. Member for Dundee and a number of other hon. Members whose names are on the Paper is quite in applicable. I do say in the Committee this afternoon, with all the force that I can command, that if a judicial procedure of this kind is introduced into the Bill, the Bill, from the point of view of giving the Government, the police, and the community generally greater security against these outrages, is useless.
§ Mr. Wedgwood Benn
Could the right hon. Gentleman tell us what sort of person he has in mind as the person to whom he is going to refer these cases?
§ Sir S. Hoare
The right hon. Gentle man, with his agile mind, jumps on more quickly than most hon. Members. I, with my slower mind, was coming to that point. It may be said that there is nothing more to be done except to leave the Bill exactly as it is. I will be quite frank with the Committee, and I can say, as Home Secretary, that provided the ultimate responsibility of the Home Secretary is left intact, I would welcome the opportunity of having an outside opinion upon the cases, unconnected with the official administration of the Home Office, or a Government Department, or the police force. I say, first of all, that you must retain the ultimate responsibility of the Home Secretary, but within that limitation I should welcome the help of a man or men of this kind. The kind of people whom I have in mind—and I will be ready to discuss personalities with the right hon. Gentleman and with other people interested—are men who would obviously be independent in their position and who would be regarded as in partial people, whose opinion would carry weight.
§ Sir S. Hoare
With or without legal training; I would not exclude one or the other. I do not think— and I say this with great deference in the presence of distinguished lawyers—that this is the kind of job for an acting judge, because 1512 the procedure is so very different from the procedure in a court of law, but I would by no means exclude men with legal experience. The whole point is that men of this kind should be people whose opinions would carry respect, and I would, supposing the Committee agreed with my proposal, give these gentlemen all the information that we had at the Home Office or that the police might have about these cases. I would further see that the complainants were inter viewed by them. I attach considerable importance to a man being confronted by someone who is neither a Home Office official nor an officer of the police, but someone outside the Home Office and the police force, and I would give these gentlemen considerable latitude as to how, further, they carried out their inquiries I believe, myself, that that is the real way to deal with this problem. I be lieve, myself, that there is a number of hon. Members of this House who, while agreeing with me that a legal procedure is not applicable to these cases, would yet like to be satisfied that someone out side the Home Office machine should look into these cases, see the complainants, and then advise the Secretary of State.
§ Mr. Arthur Henderson
If the validity of the objections depends on securing statements from other persons, would the individual appointed by the Home Secretary to examine the objections be allowed to have the benefit of the evidence or statements made by such other persons?
§ Sir S. Hoare
I would give these men very great latitude as to how they con ducted the inquiry, and I would not exclude that. I should imagine that cases might have to be dealt with upon their merits and that what might apply in one case might not necessarily apply in another. The whole object is not to make some smoke screen behind which the Secretary of State can hide, but to give the Home Secretary real help from outside in avoiding mistakes and injustices that might otherwise be made. I would include in the subjects of inquiry the subject of the duration of the man's residence. That is the kind of question that I should allow any inquiry to take within its scope. I think I have said enough to show the Committee quite clearly what is the Government's position. We cannot accept a legal procedure in any form, but 1513 I believe, myself, that the proposal that I am prepared to make when my Amendment on the Paper is called will meet the suspicions of nine out of ten reasonable people in this House, and will make it much less likely that there will be mistakes or cases of injustice in the future, or, what is equally important, that people may think that there will be cases of that kind. With these words dealing with the general proposition, I would ask the Committee to resist the Amendment of the hon. Member for Dundee.
§ Mr. Foot
Under the procedure that the right hon. Gentleman has proposed as an alternative to our own, am I not right in thinking that there is no provision at all whereby the person against whom it is proposed to make an Order will be served with any documents setting out the case against him, and no provision for letting him know the grounds on which it has been decided to make the Order?
§ Mr. Pritt
If under the right hon. Gentleman's proposal he refers the matter to a person nominated by him to interview the objector and examine the objection. If the person interviews the objector and hears nothing of the right hon. Gentleman's case he is more likely to be recommended to be let off. Therefore in the long run the right hon. Gentleman is sure to put before the nominated person the outline of his case.
§ Sir S. Hoare
I do not think the hon. and learned Gentleman can have heard what I said. I said that the examiner would have full information already.
§ 5.1 p.m.
§ Dr. Haden Guest
I sympathise perhaps more with the right hon. Gentleman's attitude than some of my hon. Friends of the legal profession because I am not of the legal profession. I was at one time a member of a special judicial body set up for the purpose of examining appeals by officers. That tribunal had as chairman a gentleman of legal experience, who subsequently became a magistrate, a representative of the military authorities, and myself as representative of the medical point of view. We reviewed the evidence, which was very often not evidence which a lawyer would have accepted. It was very 1514 difficult to sort out but we came to such conclusions as we could to the best of our ability. Would not a tribunal of that kind be better than an individual? Does not investigation of this kind, though it cannot be conducted on legal lines, require someone with legal knowledge to guide other members of the tribunal, who might be able to look at it from a different point of view?
The Debate is getting a little out of hand. I permitted one or two Members to ask questions, but this is developing into a disorderly Debate.
§ 5.4 p.m
§ Mr. Pickthorn
Might I ask you, Sir Dennis, whether there is any intention of calling the Amendment in the name of the hon. Member for Stafford (Mr. Thorneycroft) and myself and the new Sub-section (7) in our names?
§ Mr. Pickthorn
I hope it is in order to try to indicate what seems to me rather the different point raised by those two Amendments. The right hon. Gentleman fully convinced most of us, if we needed conviction, that the full judicial procedure asked for by the hon. Member for Dundee (Mr. Foot) would hardly do, but at the same time I thought some of his arguments did not fully meet the point to which they were addressed.
I may have misled the hon. Member. It is true that I was not proposing to call these Amendments in his name, but he may be interested to know that I was proposing to call the one immediately before it, which has the same effect.
That may be. I am just informing the hon. Member of why I was not calling his Amendment.
§ Mr. Pickthorn
The right hon. Gentleman listed four safeguards. The first was that he had to act within a particular scope, and the second that he had to act only in respect of non-residents. If what is being asked is some sort of safeguard of a legal, or judicial, or quasi-judicial character, the right hon. Gentleman's reference to the first two limitations seems to me to have validity only if it can be supposed that there is some hope, or some risk, as one's feeling may be—some chance—that the courts might entertain a question about whether any particular order was within the scope, or was dealing with non-residents; otherwise the right hon. Gentleman's argument seems to me not to be directed to the point that it was intended to meet. In a case (ex parte Sacksteder) in 1918 Lord Justice Pickford said:I am certainly not inclined to say that in no case can the court go behind an order, which on the face of it is valid, ordering detention or custody. If that order is practically a sham, if the purpose behind is such as to show that the order is not a genuine or bona fide order, it seems to me that the court can go behind it.Practically the same thing was said in concurrence by, I think, Lord Justice Warrington. It occurred therefore to my hon. Friend and myself that it was perhaps possible to go a modest way in the direction that the hon. Member wants, and at the same time to be in this respect strengthening the Secretary of State's hand, because at present the Secretary of State has to be satisfied not merely that there is suspicion against a particular man; he has to be satisfied that the man is concerned in certain nefarious practices. The dictionary sense of definition in this connection is,furnished with sufficient proof or information; assured or set free from doubt or uncertainty; convinced.I do not wish to suggest that any Secretary of State could be more conscientious than the present Secretary of State, but a very conscientious Secretary of State might feel himself limited by the word "satisfied" to cases where there was very strong and very rigid proof.
It must really be in the interest of administration that it should be made clear that what the Secretary of State has to have is a reasonable suspicion. In that case, might it not be possible to give us the new Sub-section (7), this small step towards traditional legality, judiciality, 1516 that a judicially practised person sitting in camera should be able to hear appeals, not against conviction, because there would be no conviction, but simply appeals in which he would decide, as no doubt he would generally decide, that the Secretary of State had reasonable grounds of suspicion, or in rare cases that he had not. Some such arrangement as that, even if the drafting of our Amendment is not all that it might be, would really go further than the Government Amendment to meet the objections of the hon. Member for Dundee and at the same time might really, on the whole, rather strengthen the executive than weaken it.
§ 5.11 p.m.
§ Mr. Pritt
The Bill has had a Second Reading, and I do not want to discuss it on any footing except that it is a Bill that is going through, whether it ought to or not, and that we all want, without heat or unnecessary controversy, to get into it as much proper safeguard as we can. Nevertheless, I feel that what the right hon. Gentleman is offering is very little indeed. He said it would be common ground between all of us that, assuming the people to be potential terrorists and not innocent men mistakenly accused, this was very reasonable procedure. Really that means quite nothing because, if you can safely assume the guilt of people, you do not want any investigation into their guilt at ail, and the whole point is that you can never assume people to be guilty, or to be potential terrorists, and therefore we can all surely agree that assuming as proved the one thing that has got to be proved, there is no need to worry any further. I am not making a debating point because the right hon. Gentleman went on to say that there was a possibility of injustice and mistake and we must take every possible precaution against this thing happening. We have spent 500 years, and goodness knows how many millions of pounds, building up a set of precautions against injustice. When I criticise them I get strongly criticised for doing so. Now the right hon. Gentleman wants to jettison the lot as far as a certain number of people are concerned. He agrees that a very strong case has to be made out for doing that. He gave a number of reasons but they do not convince me. He says that any legal procedure will be fatal to his object. I want 1517 to submit a few considerations why that cannot be so.
It cannot be right to say that you can never safely, in a matter of this kind, have the intervention of any one who has been trained to decide questions of fact, and must leave it entirely to people whom a lawyer would describe as amateurs in the most difficult trade in the world, to decide a question of fact in a case in which neither party is telling the truth. 1 think the principal objection in the mind of the right hon. Gentleman is the belief that the judges will bring to bear upon the decision of any question of fact the ordinary rules of legal procedure and apply the rules of evidence; in other words, they will tend to demand the same standard of proof about these suspicions as they would demand if it were an actual indictment for some offence not dissimilar in description. I believe that the right hon. Gentleman greatly underrates the intellectual ability of judges. I myself have done that from time to time. I certainly have never believed that there is the slightest difficulty in asking a judge to decide a point on a different standard of proof. We know that there is one High Court Judge, who has endeared himself to many of us, who has never decided an objection against evidence in his life. He always says, "We will hear the evidence and see what it comes to." I think he would be one of the best possible men for this work, but I must not give his name.
I myself have a little of the quasi-judicial experience that most barristers have who have sat as arbitrators. I have sat as an arbitrator under the strict rules of evidence, as an arbitrator in cases where the parties mutually agreed to allow a great deal of what would be normally inadmissible evidence to be heard, and once in a case where it was expressly stated that I was to disregard the rules of evidence and take into consideration everything that seemed to have anything to do with the matter. I do not regard myself as an overwhelmingly intelligent person, but I did not find the slightest difficulty in applying either of those two what I may call irregular standards of proof. Therefore, I submit that the right hon. Gentleman could at some stage submit either to the advice or to the actual decision of a trained judge, either one still on the Bench or 1518 even a retired judge, the same task as is being committed to him, namely, to satisfy himself that "a person is concerned," and so forth, as described in the Bill. If he can, as he proposes to do, remit any such question to what I may call an amateur examiner, as is proposed in his own Amendment, there is no earthly reason why it should not be remitted to a judicial authority. I would rather it were remitted to a judicial authority siting in open court.
The right hon. Gentleman says it is obvious that such a thing could not be done and that it will have to be done in camera. I say that it would be far better to have a responsible judge sitting in camera than an individual only very indirectly responsible to this House sitting in a room in the Home Office. If it be said that we must not let the man get away meanwhile—a thing I am quite capable of understanding—they might arrest him at the beginning of the proceedings and hold him meanwhile. If it be said that we cannot give away in the presence of the accused person the identity of the informants—agents, spies, or detectives—one answer is, "I do not like it, but it is better than nothing," and another answer is that it should be possible to arrange that their identity should not be disclosed to an accused person, although I contemplate a procedure in which he has the advantage of being present. The right hon. Gentleman says that in that way we should be building up a new Star Chamber. He is building up something that has not got even the light of the star.
Then the right hon. Gentleman very ingeniously made our flesh creep—and I have got such a lot of flesh to creep—by saying, "Suppose a man is, so to speak, acquitted by one of these judicial authorities and then comes along and blows up this House." The real answer to that is that it is just as likely to happen when the right hon. Gentleman himself decides the matter. If the imperfections of the evidence or the ingenious answers to the evidence can deceive a High Court judge to such an extent as to make him say that he is not satisfied that the person in question has been concerned in the preparation or instigation of acts of violence when he is, in fact, a person who is immediately afterwards to walk down Whitehall and blow up this House—if somebody can 1519 fool a High Court judge to that extent, then he can also fool the Home Secretary.
I would add a word about the Amendment of the hon. Members for Stafford (Mr. Thorneycroft) and Cambridge Univesity (Mr. Pickthorn). I think that to add to the words "if the Secretary of State is satisfied," the words "that there are reasonable grounds to suspect" would make things a little easier for the Secretary of State. I thought it was meant to make it a little better for the individual, but if I have misunderstood the point I will not take up time by talking about it. For these reasons it is my submission to the House that the suggestion that this Bill cannot possibly work if the persons primarily intended to decide questions of fact in relation to criminal activities, that is, the judges, are brought in, is a very serious contention indeed and one which ought to fail.
§ 5.23 p.m.
§ Mr. Thorneycroft
I should like to make it plain that I have no desire to make things more difficult for my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary. No one realises more than I do the extreme gravity of the present situation and the responsibility he has to this House and to the country for the protection of the public. One hon. Member behind me reminds me of what happened at King's Cross to-day, and that is a good example, but that a bomb has exploded in King's Cross is no reason why hon. Members should not give the most careful consideration to a Measure of this kind. My right hon. Friend was assuming that the people who are brought within the scope of the Bill are potential terrorists, but it is not potential terrorists alone who come within its scope. You, Sir Dennis, and I are brought within the scope of the Bill, like any other member of the public. If I go to an Underground station with my suitcase and put it down for a moment and pick up another by mistake, and go on to the British Museum, and then a ticking noise is heard coming from the suitcase and I am arrested, I am within the scope of the Bill just the same as anybody else, and am subject to its provisions.
My right hon. Friend said something about "suspicion" and "suspect." He has used those words on several occasions. He said that when a man was 1520 before this person who is nominated by him he would know the charge, which was that he was suspected. I find myself in some difficulty, because in Clause 1 I do not see anything about "suspicion," I do not see the word "suspect" even mentioned, and in those circumstances it is a little difficult to understand just what is the charge that either my right hon. Friend or the person nominated by him is going to investigate. If I may answer the question put to me by the hon. and learned Member for North Hammersmith (Mr. Pritt) my Amendment was designed to meet this very point. Clause 1 as it stands creates a number of new offences. If my hon. Friend says that it does not create offences, at any rate it sets down a number of acts, and says that anyone who does them will get into serious trouble. It also sets up a tribunal or a person before whom these offences are tried. In this case it is the Home Secretary. Before the Home Secretary can act in the matter it is perfectly plain, from the wording of the Bill, that he has to be satisfied about a number of facts and matters connected with design and intention. If he is so satisfied he can make an order.
My difficulty is that I do not see how the right hon. Gentleman ever can be satisfied. He has already told us that while he has suspicions about these people, and refers to them as suspects, he has no evidence upon which he could ask any jury or High Court judge to convict. Surely the standard of evidence which is satisfactory is not a different standard for a Home Secretary and for a High Court judge, or for any reasonable person, and in those circumstances my hon. and learned Friend was right in putting down that Amendment in an endeavour to assist my right hon. Friend. I thought it was better, as he was going to convict these people on suspicion, that we should say so quite frankly, rather than use the phrase, "if he is satisfied," when on his own admission he has nothing upon which he can be satisfied. Moreover, my right hon. Friend having said he had got no evidence on which he could satisfy a judge, our feeling was that if the matter ever came before a judicial tribunal, where these matters would be investigated in any proper manner by a judge, we should 1521 lessen the onus upon him and make it easier for him to prove his case before that tribunal. It was our desire on the one hand to lessen the standard of proof and on the other hand to increase the standard of the tribunal before whom the person was tried.
As at present advised I am bound to say that I am in sympathy with the Amendment which stands in the name of the hon. Member for Dundee (Mr. Foot). I am open to reason and am waiting with interest to hear the reply. I do not know when the Government Amendment which is designed to be a substitute for that one was put down but in the short space of time at my disposal I have endeavoured to study it. I do not think anybody has had time to put down any Amendment to it. I do not want to be dogmatic about these things, I am willing to listen to any reasonable solution of the problem, but there are certain matters of principle which really ought to be considered. The first thing that comes to my mind is that anybody who is charged before the Home Secretary or the person nominated by him should know with what he is charged. My right hon. Friend was questioned upon that matter in the Debate. He says the man is a suspected person. That is typical of the sort of difficulties which will arise. Under this Bill he may be suspected of one of about a dozen things —of being concerned in preparing an act of violence, or instigating an act of violence, or harbouring someone. He ought to be allowed to know what is the charge against him. Moreover, he ought to know the time and date at which the offence is alleged to have taken place, where it is alleged to have taken place or whom he is supposed to have harboured. These things may seem elementary, but they are no legal quibble. If I were charged with an offence I should certainly want to know what those things were.
The second point of principle is that the person ought to have an opportunity of stating his case in person. My right hon. Friend has gone some way towards meeting that point because the person can go along and state his case. I may be rather prejudiced in this matter but I would prefer that he should be allowed to state his case with the assistance of solicitor and counsel. I will not press this point because I realise that I may 1522 have a bias. That suggestion may come better from somebody else. The principle is that he should have an opportunity of calling witnesses in his own defence. I hope that the point I am putting will be answered. I should like to know whether, in the arrangements visualised by my right hon. Friend, the accused will be able to call witnesses to give evidence on oath as to his character, movements and so forth.
Fourthly, I suggest that he should be allowed to confront his accusers and to ask them questions. He should be able to ask questions tending to show that what they had said was false or that they were biased and prejudiced against him. Will any such opportunity be given in any circumstances? I realise that there is some difficulty, because matters of public policy may be involved and you may not want to disclose the name of a witness; but such difficulties have been met before. They were met in the Revolutionary and Anarchical Crimes Act, 1919, in India, where a situation had to be faced which was far worse than this. Special provision was put in that the investigating committee, or a body such as is now suggested, should certify in writing that any particular witness could not be called to speak in respect of any facts put before the accused.
The last point of principle which I wish to put goes really to the root of the matter. It relates to independent third-party judgment. In raising these points I cast no reflection on the Home Secretary whatever, because I am certain that he will administer this Measure to the best of his ability; but third-party judgment is not merely a legal quibble. It is a matter upon which constitutional lawyers have rather prided themselves for a number of centuries. I do not believe in old forms merely for themselves, and I do not think anybody can call me a dyed-in-the-wool Conservative, but I am certainly sufficiently Conservative, when I see something which has been going on for a long time and working very well, to wonder whether it is wise to take it away at once unless there is some very good reason.
This practice has very good reason behind it. Suppose some person's case is investigated by my right hon. Friend and he entertains some doubt, not as to his guilt but as to his innocence. What 1523 would he do then? He might say: "He is better out of the country. I am not going to run any risks. Suppose the House of Commons is blown up; I shall have to answer to the House and to the country." I do not think we could find it in our herats to blame him if he took that view. That is the reason why we should have some third person with an opportunity of investigating these matters. I have already referred to the Revolutionary and Anarchical Crimes Act, 1919 in India. At that time the authorities were faced with a very much graver situation than that with which we are now faced. That Act was devised to meet crimes of treason, torture, murder, manslaughter and damage to property, and contained provisions similiar to those that we are suggesting. They strove to the best of their ability to maintain some substantial constitutional liberty.
I think I have said enough to indicate that my right hon. Friend has not satisfied me, at this stage, that it is necessary to sweep away these various points of principle and that some of my criticisms should be met. Perhaps they could not be met in the way suggested in the Amendment now before us, but by extending my right hon. Friend's own Amendment; in my view, they should be met.
§ 5.36 p.m.
§ Mr. Stephen
I should like to join with the hon. Member who preceded me in saying that none of us would seek to embarrass the Home Secretary in dealing with the present situation. It is very important to know that the Home Secretary has the whole country behind him in the desire to prevent these crimes of violence. Whatever the political outlook of the individuals may be there is, I believe, unanimity throughout the country to assist the Home Secretary in preventing those crimes of violence. One thing that impresses me is that the steps proposed by the Home Secretary may have the very opposite effect from what he desires. The provisions in Clause 1 may lead to harsh treatment of innocent people, and that would in turn create sympathy for the terrorists, especially if the innocent people had been treated in a harsh and oppressive way. In framing his Measure the Hon.; Secretary must see to it that he is creating no possibility that will give 1524 strength to the terrorists in their policy of conspiracy.
When the Home Secretary was dealing with his own proposal in opposition to that which is before the Committee he seemed to suggest that the Amendment proposed by the hon. Member for Dundee (Mr. Foot) practically insisted upon a legal tribunal, but as I read it the Amendment does not imply an ordinary legal tribunal in accordance with the laws of evidence. The distinction between what is proposed by the Home Secretary and what is proposed now by the hon. Member for Dundee is that under the latter proposal the person who will operate in this connection has to have a certain amount of experience in weighing facts and points of evidence, so that he will be able to bring to the consideration of a case a certain amount of experience. Because of his experience he will have judgment to bring to bear in dealing with these cases. The proposal of the Home Secretary, on the other hand, is to nominate somebody—and it may be anybody— without any experience. I am doubtful whether the Home Secretary's proposal will not make matters worse, because it would put this untrained and inexperienced person between the Home Secretary and the House of Commons, if the Home Secretary should be called into question afterwards with regard to any action that had been taken.
The Home Secretary would then have the defence: "I put the papers before Mr. So-and-So, who agreed with me that this fellow ought to get put out, or that this order should be made that the individual should be registered, should report to the police and be put into the position contemplated in Sub-section (3) of Clause 1. Mr. So-and-So's opinion was the same as my own." Such a defence is of practically no importance, because while the right hon. Gentleman will have what facts have been put before him by the Homo Office in connection with the case, and may have seen the man, the man has had no opportunity of putting forward to him anything very material in opposition to the case that has been made out against him. The Amendment suggests that there may be not sufficient evidence to get a conviction by a jury or by a judge, but nevertheless sufficient evidence to lead a judge to see that there is grave suspicion against the individual; and that on account 1525 of that grave suspicion the Home Secretary is justified in taking reasonable precautions.
That is a dangerous position, but the Home Secretary has come to the House and said that something of that kind is necessary. He has said: "I want you to leave it with myself and this other individual whom I am nominating," but surely it is better that there should be some sort of order in this matter and that the accused person who is to be treated in this fashion shall have some idea of the case which he has to meet. He is to be allowed 48 hours to send in a notice to the Home Secretary, and if the Home Secretary thinks it is not frivolous it will be very difficult for him to give material reasons in telling the man that he has to register here. The man will say: "Why have I to register? They must think that I was acting suspiciously." Then he will send in an account saying that he met Mr. Murphy only on a certain occasion. Possibly it will not be his association with Mr. Murphy which is the reason for the action, which is being taken in respect of something entirely different.
§ Mr. Stephen
As I read it, the Amendment of the hon. Member for Dundee gives the individual an opportunity to appear before the judge. The individual would know something about the charges with which he was faced. The Amendment would have a certain force in stopping what will be possible under the proposals of the Home Secretary It means the difference between something that has a certain amount of organisation about it, that has a certain amount of reasonable consideration attached to it, and something that is completely haphazard. I hope that the Home Secretary will reconsider the whole matter, because I am convinced that the greatest service will be done to the terrorists if decent, honest people come under suspicion and are harshly treated in this way. I venture to prophesy that this procedure of the Home Secretary may bring about a movement for the terrorists. In spite of what has happened, I very much doubt whether there is at the moment any real strength at all in the terrorist movement, but, if hundreds of people are subjected to the procedure under the Home Secretary's 1526 proposal, even as modified by the Amendment to-day, I can see it bringing ever so much sympathy to the friends of these people. That will spread again to many others, and will have the effect of creating a movement in support of the terrorists, which would be regrettable. I hope the Home Secretary, when he is going the extreme distance of wanting to act on suspicion, will see the advantage of making sure that the safeguards in connection with acting on suspicion are as great as they can be, in contradistinction to the ordinary judicial procedure.
§ 5.47 p.m.
§ Sir Arnold Wilson
I oppose this Amendment and support the Bill. I hope that the Home Secretary will give way no further. He has perhaps gone too far. We have heard a great deal about suspicion and suspects. I was taught in my youth that a thing might be said to be true when a reasonable man in the conduct of his private business was justified in assuming that it was so. The Home Secretary has to be "satisfied," and that word should suffice without further elaboration. I entirely dissent from the gloomy prophecy of the hon. Member for Camlachie (Mr. Stephen) that hundreds of persons, many of them innocent, are likely to be affected by the operation of the Bill. In Tennyson's words:You make our faults too gross,And hence maintainOar future darker;May your fears be vain.There is no likelihood of any large number of persons coming under the operation of the Bill.
§ Mr. Stephen
Surely it is a grave matter if it requires a special interference with the whole judicial machinery that has been brought into being as a result of centuries of experience. It is not simply to deal with one or two. Surely there will be hundreds.
§ Sir A. Wilson
It is a grave matter, but our first concern should be to get the ringleaders. They will not risk their own skins, but only the lives of their dupes, I hope we shall not have any element of judicial procedure spatchcocked into this Clause. It seems to me to be most unfair to the judiciary to use them in a matter which is necessarily for the executive. The business of Government is to govern. The Home Secretary has to stand up as his predecessors—Socialists 1527 Liberals and Conservatives —have stood up, and to take the responsibility of governing. [Interruption.] The fact that the Home Secretary advises the Sovereign as to the commutation of the death penalty is an example of the great responsibility he exercises, and we have no reason whatever to be ashamed of it —the responsibility of revising the sentences of judges. [Interruption.] I will not split hairs with the hon. Member as to the difference between commuting a death sentence and revising a sentence. There is no sentence to pass under this Act, only a change of residence.
§ Sir A. Wilson
So far as my argument is concerned it is splitting hairs. The hon. Member for Stafford (Mr. Thorney-croft) suggested that, if he picked up a bag which might contain an explosive that might thereafter go off, he might thereupon become a suspected person. May I tell the House very briefly the story of what happened on 24th January, 1885? At ten minutes past two p.m. on that day part of the House was blown up. Partitions were smashed and blown into the lobbies; the Peers' Gallery was damaged; great pieces of timber were thrown into it. Mr. Gladstone's seat was smashed to pieces by dynamite which was left under the cross benches parallel with the seat of the Sergeant at Arms. Police Constable Cole was injured in Westminster Hall. Police Constable Cox had been seriously injured outside the Chamber. Two persons were found in or near the Chamber, blackened and terrified but uninjured. They were at once arrested. They were quite unable to say why they were there except that they were members of the public and that they had as good a right to be in the House of Commons on a Saturday afternoon as anybody else. They were arrested, taken to Bow Street, and strictly and minutely examined, and they were thereupon released. I do not doubt that that is what would happen to the hon. Member were he to be found in possession of a bag of explosives.
§ Sir A. Wilson
The situation was just as serious in 1885 as it is now. It was a Liberal Government that passed Measures compared with which the present common-sense Bill is mild—[Interruption.] I am referring to the Coercion Acts. At that time we were responsible for Ireland; we are now trying to keep order in England; and it seems to me entirely unfair to the judiciary to seek to place upon them a responsibility which properly belongs to the Home Secretary. I hope he will give way no further.
I have had some experience of con spiracies followed by murder, and of incendiarism and the like. Less than 20 years ago I lost half a dozen of my best friends by organised murder within six or eight months. It was quite impossible to obtain evidence, for any witnesses whom I might have brought before a court would unquestionably have been murdered the following week. It was quite impossible to obtain such proof as would have justified a judge in court in passing a sentence of death. I had no alternative but to resort to deportation and detention. It was a state of affairs parallel to that in India. The head of the Government was bcund to exercise in good faith the responsibility that lay on him to protect His Majesty's subjects and was justified by the outcome. Within a few months the ringleaders who were really behind what I might almost call the innocent dupes who had committed the murders were placed under arrest, and the murder campaign stopped almost as quickly as it had begun. It was the most humane, the most common sense, and by far the quickest method of putting an end to a state of affairs which might have involved thousands of innocent lives. The Home Secretary will never regret the bold action he is taking in putting for ward this Bill, and I earnestly hope he will not go a single inch further than the concessions he is already proposing in the Amendment which stands in his name on the Paper.
§ 5.55 p.m.
§ Mr. Buchanan
I intervene because I do not take the view of this Amendment that is taken by almost all who have spoken on this side of the Committee. I voted against the Second Reading of the Bill. I have a feeling that, in the case of all these Measures, we nearly always get, not the ringleaders, but people who 1529 in the main, compared with the ring leaders, are relatively innocent. One of my strong criticisms, not merely against this Clause but against the whole Bill, is that I do not think it will achieve the object that the Home Secretary desires. If I thought that it would, I would never oppose it, but I have taken that view, and I hold it still. Looking at this Amendment, one fears that the effect will be to take these actions outside party politics, and I want the Home Secretary's actions to be kept within party politics. I am very much afraid that, if a judge is appointed to act in this matter, the Home Secretary will have a defence in this House. As the hon. Member for Bridgeton (Mr. Maxton) put it very well in an earlier Debate, Members of Parliament ought to have the unquestioned right to raise an issue like this, and I feel that this matter concerns me perhaps more than most people, because of the district that I represent in this House. It may well be that, if a judge is appointed, the Home Secretary's answer when the question is raised will be that it has been decided by the judge, and I should be told by the Chair that I have no right of criticism. The word "judge" is constantly used throughout the Schedule—
§ Mr. Foot
The hon. Member will see that the procedure I propose is that the judge shall make a report to the Secretary of State, and that the Secretary of State -shall have regard to the report and recommendations, if any, in arriving at his decision. The one exception is where the judge comes to the conclusion that there are no grounds at all. In either case the final responsibility under the procedure remains with the Secretary of State, and he will be open to criticism in this House.
§ Mr. Buchanan
I agree, but what will the Home Secretary say to me? He will immediately say that a responsible judge has told him what has happened, and that will be the end of it. The Home Secretary will have a perfectly valid, defensible case if he says that a judge has been appointed and he has decided the matter. Those who look over other pieces of legislation of this type will find the same thing running through them. Quite frankly, I would much prefer that the Home Secretary should take whatever course he thinks proper and take the responsibility attaching to it. The Home 1530 Secretary may make a serious mistake, but it is just as possible that a serious mistake may be made by a judge. There is, however, this difference, that if the judge makes a serious mistake nobody can remove him. [Interruption.] Hon. Members know as well as I do the impossibility of tackling a judge in this House. The lay judges in Glasgow sometimes do the most irresponsible and indefensible things, as was mentioned by an hon. Member for one of the London divisions the other day, but we cannot even raise the matter here. If the Home Secretary is not given this defence, it is quite possible that in certain circumstances he might be much more severely dealt with than if he has this defence given to him by the appointment of a judge. The Amendment, as far as I can see, proposes to set up an examiner. He must not be a member of the police or an employé of the Government, and he will have power to make recommendations to the Home Secretary. I would like to know who the examiner is to be. I hope the Home Secretary is not going to tell us that he is afraid to say who the examiner is; because if he does that, he will get to the stage of being afraid to tell us who the Home Secretary is. If there is one man who is in danger it is the Home Secretary.
§ Mr. Stephen
Would the hon. Member also propose carrying this principle right through, and abolishing the umpires?
§ Mr. Buchanan
No. The hon. Member and I once tried to get the House of Commons, and not the umpire, to be the judge in regard to the courts of referees. I myself took an active part in connection with that proposal, and an Amendment was moved. If the hon. Member will look back through the records he will find that that is so. I am anxious to keep the position so that the Home Secretary shall have nobody to pull in between him and me, and so that I shall have the right to attack him. There is a danger that if some mistake is made it will strengthen the terrorists. My fear about the Bill altogether is that it will strengthen, and not weaken them, but now that we have carried the Bill, I am not prepared to give the Home Secretary a way out. I would make him take the consequences if the Measure does not succeed.
§ Mr. Benn
We have some misgivings over this Bill. It makes very dangerous inroads into individual liberties. If our misgivings had not existed before, they certainly would have come into existence after the speech of the hon. Member for Hitchin (Sir A. Wilson). Suppose he were Home Secretary. He is a very distinguished administrator, and he might be Home Secretary one day. I am certain that nobody in the House would confide in him the powers which are given to the present Home Secretary, in whose sense of fairness, I think, hon. Members have great confidence. Another misgiving we have about the Bill is as to its effectiveness as a means of stamping out crime. I hope the Home Secretary will believe that the remarks I am going to make are made in order to assist in stamping out this movement.
I am not able to join in the legal arguments which have been advanced so skilfully by the gentlemen of the long robe, but in this country we have had a great deal of experience of this sort of question. No Empire in the world has had so much experience of terrorism and turbulent minorities as ourselves. The same things as are being said about these people were said about General Hertzog and General Smuts and people in India, and in Ireland in the past. I should like the Home Secretary to view the thing in the light of the experience which we have had in these matters. Above all, I would say to him, "Do not overpaint the picture." The one thing that is required to-day is to keep the temperature down. I do not think the Home Secretary was well advised to bring forward in his speech the other day that "S" plan, which was exposed at Bow Street some months ago, and which has provided splash headlines for the newspapers and suggestions about Guy Fawkes, and so on. If only we keep the temperature down, we deprive these people of something which would help them, and we prevent them from gaining sympathy. Of course, I am not defending these men, but I am trying to make a practical, commonsense suggestion.
When I was in office I had experience of terrorism, as the Home Secretary did in the same office. We know that when you are forced into violent measures you 1532 have lost the trick, and when you get through without violent measures you are winning your way to greater peace. I remember the Meerut case. There was tremendous feeling in India and this country about that case, which had arisen before I went into office. I was pressed to intervene on this case. I refused, and was very severely criticised; but it turned out to be just as well in a way, because the judges, after an intolerably long investigation, vindicated one man, who afterwards was made a Member of this House. That had a good effect. Do not forget that your strongest weapon in dealing with terrorists is the belief of the people that you are being fair. When you have men or boys sent for 20 years' imprisonment, and they go shouting "Up Eire" you have to consider the psychology of them. Suppose you are driven to inflicting capital punishment. That will set us back in our efforts to stop this sort of thing. At present there is no sympathy for these people at all, but suppose that the wrong man is punished for something. The Home Secretary knows that I am not attacking him; I have the sincerest sympathy with him for the burdens that he is having to carry. He may be faced with hunger strikes. We have not forgotten the Lord Mayor of Cork, who died in Brixton Gaol. If anything of that sort happens the Home Secretary will be exposed 10 criticism, but if he can say "We have been fair," public opinion here and elsewhere will support him. I regard this Amendment as fundamental.
This matter affects our relations with Ireland. They have been much sweeter lately than they were before, but the Irish people will be very soon roused if innocent Irishmen are punished in this way. Our relations with America are very critical indeed for the peace of the world. We still have enemies there— they are thinning out, but they are still there. If it is believed that innocent men have been punished under this Act it will have a bad effect on those relations. The Home Secretary has said that there is the safeguard of the House of Commons. He has accepted an. Amendment of ours. But I wonder what the report which he will make to the House of Commons as a result of that Amendment will be like. It may be just numbers and dates. I have an Amendment down, which proposes to allow the House at any time 1533 to discuss the matter. Yet how can we influence the Home Secretary on matters on which he is bound to secrecy? I support the Amendment for the reasons I have given, and because we have never been driven to anything of this sort in our history. The Home Secretary has been very much interested in Irish affairs. If this had not been so serious a Debate, I should have liked to refer to that. We have never been driven to this sort of thing before in connection with Ireland. We had our serious troubles in Ireland in 1922 and 1923. We illegally deported Art O'Brien. That matter was brought up in the House of Lords—not the judicial body, but the legislative assembly. I remember Lord Grey making a speech in which he said that their lordships ought to affirm the general principle that the Government should not have power to deport without trial, and he moved an Amendment. Again, when Ireland was in a state of turmoil—it was just after a party of British soldiers had been shot at Queenstown—the Government appointed a committee to inquire as to what regulations should be made. The members of the committee were Mr. George Talbot, the present Lord Runciman and Lord Chelmsford. Having examined the regulations in the light of that state of affairs, they said:What, then are the defects in English criminal procedure and in the powers of the police which, it is said, impede the prevention and punishment of such crimes? We need not refer to such difficulties as are necessary incidents of any system which requires proof in open court and forbids the detention of accused or suspected persons without trial. These cardinal principles of English law do undoubtedly make less easy the prevention and punishment of crime; but encroachment upon them cannot be justified unless by some exceptional and overwhelming anxiety, such as cannot, in our opinion, be said to exist in the present circumstances.They went on to recommend two special powers—a power of search and a power of obtaining information. We have faced that situation of terrorism many times, and we should have learned something about it. Excessive severity, the appearance of injustice, only increases the terrorism. It is on the ground that the Government must appear to the world to be administering perfect justice that I support the Amendment.
§ 6.15 p.m.
§ The Attorney-General (Sir Donald Somervell)
The Members of the Com- 1534 mittee who heard the reply of my right hon. Friend to the speech of the hon. Member for Dundee (Mr. Foot) will, whether they agree with him or not, agree that he dealt very fully and clearly with the issues of the Amendment and his reasons for rejecting it. There is not much that I have to add to the general case which he then made. I would, however, like to recall the Committee, before coming to the specific points raised, to the situation which has led to the introduction of the Bill and the procedure under it, because this Amendment, as the hon. Gentleman said, goes to the heart of the Bill. My hon. Friend the Member for Stafford (Mr. Thorneycroft), in a speech which seemed to disregard a very large number of the material facts, spoke of things which had gone on well for 500 years and said that he preferred to keep them as they were. The position is that, under the ordinary police and criminal procedure, what he must have known, in spite of the fact that last February they had the most complete knowledge of the existence of this conspiracy and that arrests were made in February and January, and have been made since, and that nobody suggests that the police have not been alert and efficient in dealing with these matters, we still have a succession of acts of violence in pursuance of this conspiracy. I agree that there has been one, or, I think, two explosions to-day, but that does not in any way mean that we should not scrutinise the Bill with care, or that we should legislate in a panic, but it does show that the ordinary methods of preventing crime and dealing with a conspiracy have broken down.
§ Mr. Thorneycroft
I think that the Attorney-General has rather misrepresented what I said. I was not talking about the ordinary procedure. All I was asking was for third party judgment and the entitlement of a man to put his case.
§ The Attorney-General
I do not want to be unfair to my hon. Friend or to anybody else. I was dealing with the impression which I certainly got from his speech. I am coming to the specific points later. My right hon. Friend said there are a number of people about whom the police are satisfied, and believe they can satisfy my right hon. Friend, as being concerned with the preparations for these acts, but who could not be proved in a court of law to be guilty of, or concerned 1535 with, an existing offence within the words of the Sub-section. As everybody knows, in some of these cases you cannot disclose the source of your information without not only imperilling, in the sense that you might not get any more information, but endangering someone's life. You have to be careful not only not to disclose the name, but in some cases not to disclose the nature of the information which it would be perfectly easy for somebody to trace to the source. That is the kind of problem that has led to the introduction of this Bill and to my right hon. Friend asking for these special powers.
I think there has been a certain misconception as to one sentence or two which fell from my right hon. Friend. He has not any objection to a man with legal experience being the person nominated under the section. The objection is to the sort of judicial procedure embodied in the Amendment. Some right hon. and hon. Members have expressed the view that they think that someone with legal or judicial experience would be the most appropriate appointment under the proposed Amendment. My right hon. Friend has given an undertaking—I do not think that there is any precedent in an Act of Parliament that the Home Secretary should appoint after consultation with the leaders of the Opposition—that he would be ready to consult or to receive suggestions as to suitable persons. He said that the whole point is that the person nominated should inspire confidence, and, if it is the general feeling of the Committee that persons with legal or judicial experience would be most likely to inspire the confidence which he desired should be inspired, then he would certainly have regard to that view. As I have said, the objection is not to the judicial or legal mind operating on this case, but to the legal procedure envisaged by the Amendment, and one or two other Amendments which have come under discussion. I think there was great force, though he put it in a slightly different way from that of my right hon. Friend, in the remarks made by the hon. Gentleman the Member for Gorbals (Mr. Buchanan). It would, in our view, be a wrong position in which to put a judge.
This is, and in our view should remain, an executive act. It is an act to be taken admittedly on evidence which cannot be 1536 produced and sifted according to the ordinary legal rules by which evidence has to be sifted if you are having a judicial inquiry. I quite agree with the hon. and learned Member for North Hammersmith (Mr. Pritt) that a legal mind is perfectly capable of dealing with matters on the basis of evidence other than evidence admissible in law. In fact, most of us take the vast majority of the actions in our ordinary lives not on legal evidence, but on a mass of evidence wholly inadmissible in a court of law. Therefore, there is a difficulty in acting on evidence other than legal evidence. There is no objection to the legal mind, but there is objection, in our view, to bringing in a judge as a judge. The hon. Gentleman said with force that however much you pare down the power of the judge as a judge, it still remains that, if he has to have power, some responsibility must pass from the Home Secretary to him. My right hon. Friend took the example of a case where he believed a man ought to be deported, and the judge said, "No." It turned out that the Home Secretary was right, and that the man was in fact concerned with the preparation of these acts. The judge thought the evidence insufficient, and the Home Secretary thought that it was sufficient. That seems to me an impossible solution.
§ The Attorney-General
No, Sir; the Amendment of the Home Secretary has been carefully drawn to leave the responsibility entirely with the Home Secretary. He can under the Amendment if he so chooses, disregard the report. It is the advice to him, and the safeguard is—and it is a real safeguard—that the whole case will be investigated by a person of independent mind and independent of the Executive, and the Home Secretary will have the benefit of his advice. He cannot under that Amendment shift any responsibility from his own shoulders on to those of his advisers, whereas if you have a judge as a judge, it is inevitable that there should be that transfer of responsibility.
§ Mr. Foot
In the vast majority of cases the Home Secretary will act upon the advice of the examiner whom he has appointed, and the example which the Home Secretary gave of the man against whom an order was not made and who 1537 afterwards blew up the Houses of Parliament may equally well occur under that procedure.
§ The Attorney-General
In the large majority of cases he will act on their advice, but he does not get rid of his responsibility because he has been advised. Under the right hon. Gentleman's Amendment that is not so. You cannot attack the Home Secretary when he has not made a deportation order. He could not make a deportation order when the judge had reported against it, but he could under his own Amendment. That is the answer to the procedure suggested by my hon. Friend the Member for Cambridge University (Mr. Pickthorn) and my hon. Friend the Member for Stafford in asking for a third party judgment. That definite expression shows that the Home Secretary is to be responsible to a third party. That would be wrong. It would be taking away from the Home Secretary the responsibility that he should have, and putting it upon shoulders upon which it ought not to be put. This House will have no control, and therefore we think such a safeguard is unsatisfactory, and for these reasons we reject it and ask the Committee to reject Amendments involving some form of judicial veto.
We believe that the Amendment that we have put down is a real safeguard. We think it is desirable—and I wholly agree with what was said by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Gorton (Mr. Benn)—that when you are faced with matters such as this you should do everything possible to satisfy the people that you are going to take these exceptional powers with fairness and administer them with the object of fulfilling the primary purpose, which is the preservation of law and order. He referred to the great experience which, in the course of our history, we have had in different parts of the world in these matters, and he, I know, had personal experience of them when at the India Office. To judge in the light of that experience. I suggest to the Committee that this Measure is a very moderate Measure. This only allows an expulsion or prohibition order to be made in cases where men belong to some country other than this country. The period of an order under this Bill is only two years. It is not a perpetual exile as some people have suggested. The 1538 Measure is of a limited kind. I hope that I may have induced the hon. Member to withdraw his Amendment. At any rate, I have done my best to put before the Committee our reasons for believing that in practice and in principle the introduction of the words which the hon. Member suggests would be wrong, I hope the Committee will feel that my right hon. Friend has gone as far as he could reasonably have gone to provide a safeguard for independent investigation.
§ 6.31 p.m.
§ The Attorney-General
I said that I would look into it, I said that I thought it was two years, but as the hon. and learned Member took a different view, I did not want to be dogmatic, and I said that I would look into it.
§ Mr. Pritt
The words that I heard were "Yes, I agree." It does not however matter what was said on Monday but what stands now, and as I understand it when an order is made for expulsion it is an "uno ictu" order for expulsion lasting for ever unless it is revoked; and even the power to revoke ends at the end of two years. It is true that the power to inflict a penalty for breaking the order will disappear at the same time, but as the Bill stands that order and any disgrace that may be attached to it—these men may think it an honour rather than a disgrace, although I regard it as a disgrace—will stand, and the disgrace will be that there will be the order for ever.
§ 6.32 p.m.
§ Mr. Lansbury
I had not intended to take part in these discussions, but after listening to the Debate and realising that we are discussing some very fundamental issues I should like to put my point of view before the Committee. It is impossible to move an Amendment incorporating what I want to say. Of course, I was not a Member of this House in 1870 or before then, but my earliest recollections go back to the blowing up of the wall of Clerkenwell Prison and to the shootings in Manchester, for which three Irishmen paid the penalty with their lives. Then followed a long series of years when, in Ireland, and to a lesser extent 1539 in this country, we were subjected to coercion Bills of various descriptions. What we are doing to-day is playboy legislation compared with that which was passed during the Land League disorders in Ireland.
As I listened to the hon. Member for Stafford (Mr. Thorneycroft) and I heard the argument of the hon. Member for Hitchin (Sir A. Wilson) I could not help feeling that all this is just beating the air. You will not put this thing down by legislation of this sort. You are dealing with people who are fanatics and who believe that Ireland is kept divided by this country and that Ireland would be united but for our power. I cannot argue that now, but I would appeal to the Committee. I realise that we must maintain law and order and protect the citizens from this sort of outrage that is taking place, but there is always some deep-seated reason that makes men risk life and liberty in this manner. It was the same with the women suffrage movement and it is the same in India. I would implore the Committee not to be satisfied with passing this legislation, not to be satisfied with this legal argument whether it is best to have a judge or somebody else to advise the Home Secretary. I know I am getting out of order, Colonel Clifton Brown, but I could not get into the Debate on the Second Reading of the Bill, and I think you will forgive me, because it is the kernel of the Bill that we are discussing. I should like to appeal to the Government and to my hon. Friends to make a determined effort by trying to do what is the only thing that van be done, namely, to get the Northern and Southern Irelanders together to discuss how they can remove these grievances in the only sensible manner, by becoming decent Irishmen one towards another.
§ 6.36 p.m.
§ Sir Richard Acland
There is one part of our Amendment with which the right hon. Gentleman has not really dealt. I am not going to insist on the exact words of our Amendment, but I would ask the right hon. Gentleman to consider the principle involved and see whether there is not some way in which it might be incorporated in his own Amendment. The right hon. Gentlemen have led the Committee to assume that nobody is to be 1540 dealt with under this Bill unless he is, in fact, taking part in a conspiracy. I would like them to face fairly and squarely the fact that some people will be dealt with under this Bill who are entirely innocent. [Hon. Members: "How?"] Because it is the essence of the right hon. Gentleman's case that the police cannot deal with this matter if they are asked to comply with the very high standards of proof which are required in our criminal courts—standards of proof which are so high that we can say that out of a thousand people who are convicted of high crimes probably not one was innocent the whole time. Therefore, the Ministers are asking the Committee to allow action to be taken against individuals on a lower standard of proof. In the case of high crime such as burglary, the country is prepared to allow a number of guilty burglars to be acquitted rather than run the risk of one innocent person being convicted. Now we are asked, in view of the great danger to life and property involved in the present conspiracy, that we shall slide down to a lower standard of proof and that we shall not run the risk of even a few of these conspirators being at large.
By adopting a lower standard of proof, surely we are doing something which makes it almost certain that although in each single case the Home Secretary may say "The suspicion is good enough for me," yet in the course of action taken under the Bill a number—the number may be small—of wholly innocent people will be tampered with. The right hon. Gentlemen opposite have an extraordinary confidence in their own judgment if they can be quite certain that with a lower standard of proof it will not be the case that a man who is wholly innocent will be suspected by the police. What will be the position of an Irishman who has not been living here for the full 20 years but has been living an ordinary, decent life, and he suddenly receives notice of an expulsion order which has been made against him? He will have to take advantage of the Amendment which the Minister has put before us. What can he do if he has no more knowledge than that the order has been made against him? The only thing he can do is to write on a piece of paper and send it to the Home Secretary saying that he is entirely innocent. He can do nothing else. Surely, 1541 in order that he may have a chance of submitting his case to the Home Secretary he must have more information than that.
There is nothing in the Bill which requires anybody to tell him whether he is accused of preparing an act of violence, instigating an act of violence or harbouring a suspected person. Without revealing any source of evidence, it ought to be possible to give the man some information as to what he is supposed to have done, so that he may be able to state his case to the Home Secretary. If he is given no information, he can merely say: "I am completely innocent of any of the acts charged against me," but in nine cases out of ten the Home Secretary will say that that is frivolous. I submit, therefore, that there ought to be one further stage, so that the person on whom such a notice is served may ask for an amplification of the reasons for which the notice has been served upon him, and after receiving them he may be able to deal with them in writing to the Home Secretary. If that is not done, you are not giving the man a chance. In the case of an entirely innocent man who I submit will, through inadvertence, be charged—and I submit that innocent men will be charged in order that you may make certain that you are charging the guilty—you will be aggravating the bitterness felt already, if such a man is not given a better chance of dealing with the charge that it made against him. He ought to be given such information that he can send to the Home Secretary an answer which will be coherent and which the Home Secretary will not be able to dismiss by merely saying that it is frivolous. I would urge the right hon. Gentleman to adopt some of the essence of part of our Amendment.
§ 6.43 p.m.
§ Mr. Radford
I wish to intervene for only a very short time but it seems to me after listening to the speeches that one might think the Home Secretary was proposing to do away with the old maxim that a man has to be proved guilty or else he is regarded as innocent. All that my right hon. Friend is proposing is that if he is satisfied that an individual is a party to one form or other of this criminal conspiracy he shall be required to leave this country for a period, or he may have to register with the police, or if he is out of the country and is seeking to come in, 1542 he shall be debarred from entry. It is an absolute distortion of the facts to hear all this scientific discussion as to whether or not an innocent man may be adjudged guilty on inadequate information. There is no other country where such a discussion as that we are having this afternoon could take place, seeing that within the last two hours a dozen innocent people have been killed or wounded.
Mr. Max ton
I am interested in the speech of the hon. Member, but is it not a little out of order on this Amendment?
§ The Deputy-Chairman (Colonel Clifton Brown)
I am bound to say that it seems to me we are getting on to subjects which are not quite in order on the Amendment. The Amendment is very wide, but we must not go outside, and I think the hon. Member is now introducing elements which may engender heat.
§ Mr. Radford
I do not want to trespass beyond the bounds of order, and I will conclude by saying that I hope the Home Secretary will not accept the Amendment. I do not know whether I shall be in order in answering the hon. Member for Barnstaple (Sir R. Acland) who asked, "What has this to do with it?" The right hon. Member for Gorton (Mr. Benn) made a reference to the Bill making an inroad into our liberties. What about the liberties of those people who cannot go to a left luggage office and leave their luggage there without the danger of being blown to pieces? That is a danger to our liberties. Before I resume my seat I should like the Home Secretary to know that ordinary, plain Englishmen are behind him in the very moderate action he is taking under the Bill.
§ 6.48 p.m.
§ Mr. Aneurin Bevan
I will not detain the Committee for more than a few moments, as most of the arguments for and against the Amendment have already been made. It seems to me that the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Gorton (Mr. Benn) and the Attorney-General were stretching the matter a little far when they suggested that the responsibility of the Home Secretary to this House was any safeguard of the liberties 1543 of any man. If the psychology which has just been displayed is any indication of the mood of the House, then, if further outrages take place, what chance is there of our raising any individual case here? The Home Secretary will say, "I am satisfied that he is a suspect and should be deported, and in the interests of public safety I cannot disclose the information." In fact, the individual has no protection at all, and hon. Members would be unable to exert any influence on the Home Secretary. It is unworthy of the Attorney-General to suggest that the responsibility of the Home Secretary to this House has any practical significance in that regard. The Home Secretary is responsible where a principle is involved, but where it is a matter of the treatment of an individual there is no chance of any hon. Member exerting any influence at all.
But suppose that, after these powers are obtained, the outrages continue? I imagine that the Home Secretary will use these powers with great diffidence and care. He will satisfy himself in every instance that he has good grounds for suspecting the persons who are being dealt with, although the kind of evidence which would satisfy him is rather difficult at the moment to distinguish. Nevertheless, he will not use these powers excessively. But let us suppose that the outrages continue, that these powers are ineffective in suppressing them. What will be the result? The pressure upon the police will be so great that the Home Secretary will be bound to relax his vigilance, and more and more people will be drawn in, many innocent people may be deported. We all have in our constituencies large numbers of people who belong to the nation involved. Feelings will be stirred up and, instead of dealing with this problem, we shall be creating a very much wider one. In the interests of the police I think they should be protected from the temptation to exercise these powers, because in the circumstances they might exercise them in such a way as to raise far greater difficulties.
It seems to me that the suggestion made by the Home Secretary in his proposed Amendment will have to be amplified a great deal before there is much value in it. Is the individual to whom these cases are to be referred to have access to all the information which the 1544 Home Secretary will possess? The Home Secretary can, of course, refuse to refer a case to the investigating agent, but if he refers a case has the individual, that is the investigating person, power under the proposal to receive all the information in the possession of the Home Secretary? I presume so, because the Home Secretary might not otherwise be able to convince the investigating agent that an order should be made, but there is no power to enable the investigating agent to require the information. In the next place, is the investigating agent to be told the name of the informer? There is the point that if the accused person is informed of the name of the informer there might be terrorism and intimidation against the informer, but cannot the investigating agent be told the name of the informer without the information leaking through to the accused person? There is nothing in the proposed Amendment to enable the investigating agent himself to interrogate the witnesses against the man.
It seems to me that the investigating agent should have additional powers if he is to form a proper judgment on the matter, and I ask hon. Members to realise that unless the investigating agent is armed with these powers, then the accused person is not, in fact, receiving the protection which the Committee thinks he should receive. It is all very well for hon. Members to talk about the powers of the judiciary. When we speak of the powers of the judiciary we are speaking of the liberties of the subject, and here is an attempt on the part of the Home Secretary to bring in a third-party judgment. If that third-party judgment is to be exercised by a man without any power of cross-examination or power to call witnesses, then it is a protection which is not of much value. I hope when we come to consider the Home Secretary's proposal we shall have some improvements in regard to these details. I think it would be far better if the Amendment were accepted. The police should always be protected from temptation of this kind, and I am afraid that in a time of stress and panic these powers will be exercised in such a way as to widen and not mitigate the problem which we are considering.
§ 6.57 p.m.
§ Mr. Gallacher
I want to put before the Committee a matter of the very greatest 1545 importance, and I hope that every hon. Member will see to it that the Home Secretary gives a favourable answer to the question I am going to put. The Attorney-General has pointed out that an individual can be arrested on information given, but the information will not be disclosed nor will the name of the informer. If the information were disclosed it might be possible to trace it back to the informer. I want to ask the Home Secretary if he will put something in his proposed Amendment that will guarantee that in no circumstances will an agent provocateur be used? I refer the Home Secretary to the tragic case of the Wheeldon family. An agent provocateur was sent there and he lived in their home. He made suggestions about attacking the right hon. Member for Carnarvon Boroughs (Mr. Lloyd George) and the late Mr. Arthur Henderson, and after he had made these suggestions he got them to talk. He reported them, and as a result Mrs. Wheeldon got 10 years and her daughter and son five years each. There never has been in the history of this country such a gross and malignant
§ travesty of justice. In 1916 the hon. Member for Dumbarton Burghs (Mr. Kirkwood) was in Edinburgh as a deportee. An hon. Member of this House went to see him and he also saw the military authorities. When he saw the hon. Member for Dumbarton Burghs he said, "I have seen a document about you that would justify your being shot." The evidence was provided by lies and by informers; there was not a word of truth in it. I ask the Home Secretary very seriously, will he put something in his Amendment which will guarantee that in no circumstances will an agent provocateur be used?
§ Sir S. Hoare
I can give the hon. Member the guarantee which he desires at once. I hate the very idea of an agent provocateur, and I am strongly opposed to any such thing. Any authority I have will be used against any such proceeding.
§ Question put, "That those words be there inserted."
§ The Committee divided: Ayes, 123; Noes, 212.1547
|[Division No. 285]||AYES||[6.59 p.m.]|
|Acland, Sir R.T.D.||Grenfell, O. R.||Parkinson, J. A.|
|Adams, D. (Consett)||Griffiths, G. A. (Hemsworth)||Pearson, A.|
|Adams, D. M. (Poplar,S.)||Griffith, J. (Llanelly)||Pools, C. C.|
|Adamson, Jennie L. (Dartford)||Groves, T. E.||Price, M. P.|
|Adamson, W. M.||Guest, Dr. L. H. (Islington, N.)||Pritt, D. N.|
|Alexander, Rt. Hon. A. V. (H'lsbr.)||Hall. G. H. (Aberdare)||Rathbone, Eleanor (English Univ's.)|
|Ammon, C. G.||Hall, J. H. (Whitechapel)||Richards, R. (Wrexham)|
|Anderson, F. (Whitehaven)||Hardie, Agnes||Riley, B.|
|Banfield, J. W.||Harvey, T. E. (Eng. Univ's.)||Roberts, W. (Cumberland, N.)|
|Barr, J.||Hayday, A.||Robinson, W. A. (St. Helens)|
|Beechman, N, A.||Henderson, A. (Kingswinford)||Seely, Sir H. M.|
|Bellenger, F. J.||Henderson, J. (Ardwick)||Sexton, T. M.|
|Benn, Rt. Hon. W. W.||Henderson, T. (Tradeston)||Silkin, L.|
|Benson, G.||Hills, A. (Pontefract)||Silverman, S. S.|
|Bevan, A.||Hopkin, D.||Simpson, F. B.|
|Bromfield, W.||Jagger, J.||Sinclair, Rt. Hon. Sir A. (C'thn's)|
|Brawn, C. (Mansfield)||Jenkins, A. (Pontypool)||Sloan, A.|
|Burke, W. A.||Jenkins, Sir W. (Neath)||Smith, E. (Stoke)|
|Cap., T.||John, W.||Smith, T. (Normanton)|
|Cluse, W. S.||Jones, A. C. (Shipley)||Sorensen, R. W.|
|Cooks, F. S.||Jones, Sir H. Haydn (Merioneth)||Stephen, C.|
|Collindridge, F.||Kennedy, Rt. Hon. T.||Stewart, W. J. (H'ght'n-le-Sp'ng)|
|Cove, W. Q.||Kirby, B. V.||Strauss, G. R. (Lambeth, N.)|
|Daggar, G.||Kirkwood, D.||Summerskill, Dr. Edith|
|Davidson, J. J. (Maryhill)||Lathan, G.||Taylor, R. j. (Morpeth)|
|Davies, R. J. (Westhoughton)||Lawson, J. J.||Thorne, W.|
|Davies, S. O. Merthyr)||Lee, F.||Thorneycroft, G. E. P.|
|Day, H.||Leonard, W.||Tinker, J. J.|
|Dobbie, W.||Leslie, J. R.||Tomlinson, G.|
|Dunn, E. (Rother Valley)||Macdonald, G. (Ince)||Viant, S. P.|
|Ede, J. C||McEntee, V. La T.||Watkins, F. C.|
|Edwards, A. (Middlesbrough E.)||McGhee, H. G.||Watson, W. McL.|
|Edwards, Sir C. (Bedwellty)||MacLaren, A.||Westwood, J.|
|Edwards, N. (Caerphilly)||Maclean, N.||White, H. Graham|
|Evans, D. D. (Cardigan)||MacMillan, HI. (Western Isles)||Whiteley, W. (Blaydon)|
|Gallacher, W.||Mander, G. le M.||Williams, T. (Don Valley)|
|Gardner, B. W.||Marshall, F.||Windsor, W. (Hull, C.)|
|Garro Jones, G. M.||Mathers, G.||Woods, G. S. (Finsbury)|
|George, Megan Lloyd (Anglesey)||Maxton, J.||Young, Sir R. (Newton)|
|Gibson R. (Greenock)||Messer, F.|
|Graham, D. M. (Hamilton)||Nathan, Colonel H. L.||TELLERS FOR THE AYES. —|
|Greenwood, Rt. Hon. A.||Oliver, G. H.||Sir Percy Harris and Mr. Foot.|
|Acland-Troyte., Lt. Col. G. J.||Grimston, R. V.||Peake, O.|
|Adams, t. V. T. (Leeds, W.)||Gritten, W. G. Howard||Petherick, M.|
|Agnew, Lieut.-Comdr. P. G.||Guest, Maj. Hon. O. (C'mb'rw'll, N.W.)||Pickthorn, K. W. M.|
|Allen, Col. J. Sandeman (B'knhead)||Guinness, T. L. E. B.||Porritt, R. W.|
|Anderson, Sir A. Garrett (C. of Ldn.)||Gunston, Capt. Sir D. W.||Procter, Major H. A.|
|Aske, Sir R. W.||Hambro, A. V.||Radford, E. A.|
|Astor, Viscountess (Plymouth, Sutton)||Hannah, I. C.||Ramsden, Sir E.|
|Baillie, Sir A. W. M.||Harbord, Sir A.||Rathbone, J. R. (Bodmin)|
|Balfour, G. (Hampstead)||Haslam, Henry (Horncastle)||Read, Sir H. S. (Aylesbury)|
|Balniel, Lord||Haslam, Sir J- (Bolton)||Reid, J. S. C. (Hillhead)|
|Barrie, Sir C.C.||Hely-Hutchinson, M. R.||Remer, J. R.|
|Bennett, Sir E. N.||Hepburn, P. G. T. Buchan-||Rickards, G. W. (Skipton)|
|Bower, Comdr. R, T.||Hepworth, J.||Ropner, Colonel L.|
|Bracken, B.||Hoare, Rt. Hon. Sir S.||Rosbotham, Sir T.|
|Brass, Sir W.||Holmes, J. S.||Ross, Major Sir R. O. (Londonderry)|
|Broadbridge, Sir G. T.||Hopkinton, A.||Ross Taylor, W. (Woodbridge)|
|Brooklebank, Sir Edmund||Horsbrugh, Florence||Rowlands, G.|
|Brooke, H. (Lewisham), W.)||Hudson, Capt. A. U. M. (Hack., N.)||Royds, Admiral Sir P. M. R.|
|Bullock, Capt. M.||Hulbert, Squadron-Leader N. J.||Ruggles-Brise, Colonel Sir E. A|
|Burgin, Rt. Hon. E. L.||Hume, Sir G. H.||Russell, Sir Alexander|
|Burton, Col. H. W.||Hunloke, H. P.||Samuel M. R. A.|
|Butcher, H. W.||Hunter, T.||Sandeman, Sir N. S.|
|Campbell, Sir E. T.||Hutchinson, G. C.||Schuster, Sir G. E.|
|Carver, Major W. H.||Jones, Sir C W. H. (S'k N'w'gt'n)||Scott, Lord William|
|Cary, R. A.||Jones, L. (Swansea W.)||Shakespeare, G. H.|
|Cayzer. Sir C. W. (City of Chester)||Keeling, E. H.||Shaw, Captain W. T. (Forfar)|
|Cazalet, Thelms (Islington, E.)||Kellett, Major E. O.||Shepperson, Sir E. W.|
|Chamberlain, Rt. Hn. N. (Edgb't'n)||Kerr, Colonel C. I. (Montrose)||Simmonds, O. E.|
|Chapman, A. (Rutherglen)||Kerr, Sir John Graham (Sco'sh Univ's.)||Simon, Rt. Hon. Sir J. A.|
|Christie, J. A.||Keyes, Admiral of the Fleet Sir R.||Smiles, Lieut.-Colonel Sir W. D.|
|Clarry, Sir Reginald||Kimball, L.||Smith, Bracewell (Dulwich)|
|Cobb, Captain E. C. (Preston)||Knox, Major-General Sir A. W. F.||Smith, Sir R. W. (Aberdeen)|
|Colville, Rt. Hon. John||Lamb, Sir J. Q.||Smithers, Sir W.|
|Cooke, J. D. (Hammersmith, S.)||Lambert, Rt. Hon. G.||Snadden, W. McN.|
|Cooper, Rt. Hn. T. M. (E'nburgh, W.)||Letch, Sir J. W.||Somerset, T.|
|Cox, H. B. Trevor||Leas-Jones, J.||Somervell, Rt. Hon. Sir Donald|
|Craven-Ellis, W.||Leighton, Major B. E. P.||Spears, Brigadier-General E. L.|
|Croft, Brig-Gen. Sir H. Page||Levy, T.||Spens, W. P.|
|Cross, R. H.||Lewis, O.||Stanley. Rt. Hon. Oliver (W'm'l'd)|
|Crossley, A. C.||Liddall, W. S.||Stewart, J. Henderson (Fife, E.)|
|Crowder, J. F. E.||Lipson, D. L.||Storey, S.|
|Davies, C. (Montgomery)||Little, Sir E. Graham-||Strickland, Captain W. F.|
|De la Bére, R.||Little, J.||Sueter, Rear-Admiral Sir M. F.|
|Denman, Hon. R. D.||Llewellin, Colonel J. J.||Sutcliffe, H.|
|Dodd, J. S.||Lloyd, G. W.||Tasker, Sir R. I.|
|Doland, G. F.||Looker-Lampson, Com dr. O. S.||Tate, Mavis C.|
|Donner, P. W.||MacAndrew, Colonel Sir C. G.||Taylor, C. S. (Eastbourne)|
|Drewe, C.||M'Connell, Sir J.||Taylor, Vice-Adm. E. A. (Padd., S.)|
|Duckworth, Arthur (Shrewsbury)||McCorquodale, M. S.||Thomson, Sir J. D. W.|
|Dugdale, Captain T. L.||MacDonald, Rt. Hon. M. (Ross)||Thornton-Kemsley, C. N.|
|Duncan, J. A. L.||Macdonald, Capt. T. (Isle of Wight)||Tifchfield, Marquess of|
|Dunglass, Lord||McKie, J. H.||Tufnell, Lieut.-Commander R. L.|
|Eastwood, J. F.||Macmillan, H. (Stockton-on-Tees)||Wallace, Capt. Rt. Hon. Euan|
|Eckersley, P. T.||Magnay, T.||Ward, Lieut.-Col. Sir A. 4.. (Hull)|
|Edge, Sir W.||Makins, Brigadier-General Sir Ernest||Ward, Irene M. B. (Wallsend)|
|Edmondson, Major Sir J.||Margesson, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. D. R.||Warrender, Sir V.|
|Elliston, Capt. G. S.||Markham, S. F.||Waterhouse, Captain C.|
|Emrys-Evans, P. V.||Marsden, Commander A.||Wells, Sir Sydney|
|Entwistle, Sir C. F.||Mason, Lt.-Col. Hon. G. K. M.||Wickham, Lt.-Col. E. T. R.|
|Errington, E.||Maxwell, Hon. S. A.||Williams, Sir H. G. (Croydon, S.)|
|Erskine-Hill, A. G.||Meller, Sir R. J. (Mitcham)||Willoughby de Eresby, Lord|
|Flaming, E. L,||Mellor, Sir J. S. P. (Tamworth)||Wilson, Lt.-Col. Sir A. T. (Hitchin)|
|Furness, S. N.||Mills, Sir F. (Leylon, E.)||Windsor-Clive, Lieut.-Colonel C.|
|Fyfe, D. P. M.||Mills, Major J. D. (New Forest)||Wise, A. R.|
|Gilmour, Lt.-Col. Rt. Han. Sir J.||Morris-Jones, Sir Henry||Womersley, Sir W. J.|
|Gledhill, G.||Morrison, G. A. (Scottish Univ's.)||Wood, Rt. Hon. Sir Kingsley|
|Glyn, Major Sir R. C.||Morrison, Rt. Han. W. S. (Cirencester)||Wright, Wing-Commander J. A. C.|
|Goldie, N. B.||Nail, Sir J.||Young, A. S. L. (Partick)|
|Gower, Sir R. V.||Nivan-Sptnce, Major B. H. H.||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.|
|Granvillo, E. L.||Nicolson, Hon. H. G.||Mr. Munro and Captain McEwen.|
|Grldlty, Sir A. B.||O'Connor, Sir Taranse J,|
|Grigg Sir E. W. M||O'Neill, Rt. Hon. Sir Hugh|
§ 7.6 p.m
§ Sir S. Hoare
I apologise for interrupting the hon. and learned Member, but if 1548 he will allow me to do so, may I say that I am willing to accept this Amendment?
§ Mr. Benn
I am not obstructing and we are trying to co-operate with the right hon. Gentleman, but does the insertion 1549 of the word "reasonably" mean that someone will be in a position to go to a court and say that the Home Secretary has made such an order but has not made it reasonably in respect of the policy on Irish affairs?
§ The Attorney-General
It makes clear that the Home Secretary is required to be reasonably satisfied having regard to what is put before him.
§ Amendment agreed to.
§ Mr. Pritt
I beg to move, in page I, line 12, to leave out "in his opinion."
I do not know whether the right hon. Gentleman will accept this Amendment. In my view it is rather linked up with the words "reasonably satisfied." If it is accepted the Clause will run:If the Secretary of State is reasonably satisfied that any person in Great Britain, not being a person who is and has been, throughout the last preceding twenty years ordinarily resident.If the satisfaction has to be reasonable it should not be recommitted to a mere opinion, and the reasonable satisfaction should be left to cover both the question of the person being 20 years ordinarily resident and the question of the person being concerned. I am, therefore, asking the right hon. Gentleman whether he would consider accepting the removal of the words "in his opinion." It will not, of course, remove the matter from his judgment, but it will leave it plain that his reasonable satisfaction is required in connection with both questions.
§ 7.10 p.m.
§ Mr. Silverman
I am not quite sure that I follow the hon. and learned Member's reasons or his explanation of this Amendment. I think that the words "in his opinion" refer only to the period of residence of a man who is the subject of the Clause, and have nothing whatever to do with any acts which may have made him suspect in the eyes of the law. The question of whether a person is or has been resident throughout the period of 20 years in this country is a question of fact which is easily capable of exact proof in the ordinary way, and I think that the words "in his opinion" are unnecessary. The question 1550 of whether a person belongs to the category of persons who may be dealt with under this Section should be strictly proved. My name is down to the Amendment, and I support it because in my opinion the words "in his opinion" leave a question of fact to be determined as though it were a question of opinion when it is nothing of the kind.
§ 7.12 p.m.
§ The Solicitor-General (Sir Terence O'Connor)
I think that my right hon. Friend would be prepared to meet the point as put by the hon. and learned Member for Hammersmith North (Mr. Pritt) but it would not be met by the Amendment he proposes, and if my hon. and learned Friend will leave it at that, before the Bill passes through all its stages we will try to meet the point of leaving it to the Secretary of State. But the point made by the hon. Member for Nelson and Colne (Mr. Silverman) is, of course, a quite different one and that we are not prepared to meet. The hon. Gentleman put it as being a pure question of fact as to whether a person is "ordinarily resident." He has not, perhaps, had quite the same misery of acquaintance with Income Tax Acts as some of us, or he would know that books have been written on this topic, and the number of the judgments on the subject is legion. I think the real answer to the question he put is that this would be, of course, one of the matters which would come under the consideration of the examiner who is being introduced by the subsequent Amendment of the Home Secretary which we have not yet reached.
§ Mr. Pritt
I am almost certain I can accept what the hon. and learned Gentleman suggests if he will say if this is the sort of thing he has in mind—" If the Secretary of State is reasonably satisfied that any person in Great Britain is not a person who is and has been throughout the last preceding 20 years ordinarily resident in Great Britain," etc.
§ 7.14 p.m.
§ Mr. Silverman
I am sorry to find myself in disagreement not merely with the hon. and learned Gentleman opposite but with the hon. and learned Gentleman 1551 who sits beside me. I can see the force of the argument which led the Home Secretary to resist any suggestion that in the circumstances he could submit to the test of ordinary judicial proof the reasons which led him to take a view that a man should have an expulsion order or a registration order served upon him. But I cannot see how or why any of those objections apply to the question of where a man has been ordinarily resident during the last 20 years. I know that the matter of ordinary residence is not a simple thing, and I know there have been a number of legal decisions on the point, but however difficult it may be sometimes, I do not think it is difficult in ordinary cases. There it is simplicity itself. However difficult it may be in some exceptional cases, it is still capable of proof, and it is the sort of question which the Government can prove in the ordinary way in a court of law, under ordinary judicial principles. I think this is a point of substance. With regard to a question of facts of this kind, there is no reason why the right hon. Gentleman should be exempted from proving his facts in the ordinary way, particularly as the special position in this matter would be in no way prejudiced by his having so to do.
§ 7.16 p.m.
§ Mr. Foot
I should like to say a word or two in support of the hon. Member for Nelson and Colne (Mr. Silverman). It seems to me that the two issues are entirely different. The issue that has to be decided when the Secretary of State is making up his mind whether or not to grant an expulsion order is a matter very largely of conjecture. These questions of suspicion can be nothing more. The right hon. Gentleman has to decide whether, on the slender information, it may be, in his possession, a person is probably associated with this particular conspiracy. That is something which does not lend itself to exact examination. But when the right hon. Gentleman is dealing with the question of 20 years' residence, it is something that can be definitely proved to the satisfaction of any ordinary tribunal. My hon. Friends and I have a new Clause on the Paper in which we suggest that on this one issue of 20 years' residence, it should be possible to appeal from the Home Secretary's order to a judge, and that the judge should be entitled to quash 1552 the order if he finds that, in fact, the person against whom the order is made is outside the class of persons whom Parliament intended to include in the Act. In those circumstances, I wish to support the argument of the hon. Member for Nelson and Colne. I hope the Government will reconsider the matter, and consider whether they cannot leave it to any ordinary court, at any rate in the last resort, to decide a pure question of fact of the sort which the courts have to determine every day.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ 7.18 p.m.
§ Mr. Arthur Henderson
I beg to move, in page 1, line 14, to leave out "twenty," and to insert "five."
Sub-section (2) of the Clause covers only those who have been ordinarily resident in Great Britain for less than 20 years, or, to put it another way, any person who can prove that he has lived in this country for more than 20 years is outside the scope of Clause 1, Subsection (2). I should like to ask the Home Secretary why he has fixed on a dividing line of 20 years. There might be cases of one person who had lived in this country for 21 years, and another person who had lived in this country for 19 years. The first person might have been born in Ireland and lived most of his life in Ireland but have been in this country for more than 20 years, and so would be outside the scope of the Subsection. The other person might have been born in this country, he might be 19 years of age, and therefore, he would be within the limit of 20 years and would be brought within the scope of the Bill. I realise that there may be a case for concentrating on those who have come to this country more recently, and that the ringleaders of this campaign of terrorism are more likely to be those who have more recently come from across the water. I should have thought that that would involve taking the view that there may be many people, resident in this country for 10, 15, 18 or 19 years, who may be the rank and file of the movement, and not the persons principally responsible for the campaign. In speaking on the Second Reading of the Bill, the Home Secretary said: 1553The individuals with whom we shall be dealing will in the main be recent arrivals to these shores.Strangely enough, he went on to say:That is the reason we have put in the Bill a 20 years limit." —[OFFICIAL REPORT, 24th July, 1939; col. 1053; Vol. 350.]I should have thought that a person who had lived here for 19 years was not a recent arrival in this country. The Home Secretary cannot have it both ways. Either he has a reason for fixing the limit of 20 years, or he is not concerned merely with recent arrivals, because it is quite ludicrous to suggest that a person who has been in this country for 19 years is a recent arrival. In the Amendment I suggest that the period should be five years. I believe that the Home Secretary would be able to cast his net over all those who are responsible for the campaign if the limit was five years instead of 20 years.
§ 7.22 p.m.
§ Sir S. Hoare
The period of 20 years is an arbitrary decision to a great extent. We had to consider what period of time we would take. We were anxious to make it clear in the Bill that its scope extended, not to established British citizens in this country, but to persons who have come into the country within recent times. The question then arose as to whether we should take a period of 5, 10, 15 or 20 years. What should be the period? Without going into details, I can tell hon. Members that I looked very carefully into the type of cases with which we might have to deal. I looked into specific cases. On the whole, far the greater number of the suspects we have in mind are people who have come into this country in quite recent times, the last few years. At the same time, there are some who have been resident within these shores for a longer period, and in some cases they are perhaps not less dangerous on that account. If we are to make this Bill effective, I advise the Committee to accept the 20 years' period. I can give hon. Members the undertaking that we should naturally look with great care, perhaps with specially great care, at cases of men and women who have resided here for a very long time. Obviously, the fact that they have roots in this country and so on would have to be considered. We should have to take all those facts into account, but hon. Members would 1554 be taking a considerable risk, and the Home Secretary would be taking a considerable risk, if this limit of time were reduced, even though the actual number of suspects involved was a very limited one.
§ Mr. Bellenger
May I put a question to the right hon. Gentleman? Suppose that there were a person whom he had reason to suspect, and that person had lived here just over 20 years, could that person be dealt with under the Bill?
§ 7.25 p.m.
§ Mr. Pritt
There are two things I should like to say. In the first place, the Home Secretary has very frankly told us, what a good many people know, that there is a list of people who are suspected and in respect of whom the right hon. Gentleman can see hopes that, in a few days' time, he will become satisfied of certain facts, and that the 20 years' period rather than a shorter period has been chosen because some of the people on the list would not have been covered if there had been a period less than 20 years. While, of course, there are times when we have to do that sort of thing, it is a very dangerous thing to do, and it is something which ought not to pass without at any rate some mention being made of it.
The other point to which I want to refer has been mentioned already. I do not like the Bill, but I want to be fair about it. The Bill very fairly recognises, in Sub-sections (2) and (3), the distinction between people who really are, in the matter of their daily life, surroundings, friends, chance of earning a living and so on, domiciled in England, and people who are guests or visitors, or are not exclusively rooted in England. The Bill recognises this in the very real sense that it says that some of the people who are regarded as being concerned in this are nevertheless to be regarded as having their roots in England to such an extent that the only thing to be done in their case—although it is serious enough in a way—is that they shall be required to register and report, but if they want to blow up this building or some other building, they will be left tolerably free to do so. The Government have gone some way towards recognising that distinction. If that be so, surely a period of 20 years is far too long. It is all very well to 1555 say that the right hon. Gentleman will be very reasonable; but whenever we ask him to be what we think is very reasonable, he at once replies by asking, "How can I take any risks in the present state of affairs? "He says that if he allowed the question of suspicion to be handled by a High Court judge, he might be responsible for having the House of Commons blown up. In these circumstances, we are forced to regard this Measure as one that will be used up to the hilt. I suggest that as a distinction between people who have real roots in this country and those who have not, the period of 20 years is a ludicrous one.
§ 7.30 p.m.
§ Mr. Benn
I wish to make it clear that we are not attempting to stop the progress of this Bill. We are really trying to prevent innocent people getting into trouble. That is the only purpose we have. Let me give a case in point. It is the case of a girl named Norah Glenn, who was charged at Manchester. She is 18 years of age and therefore would come within the compass of this Bill. The police were convinced that she was guilty, otherwise they would not have charged her. Under these powers, being 18 years of age, she would have been put away.
§ Mr. Benn
She would have been sent away; she would have been deported. The Attorney-General probably knows the case. This girl was charged with a number of others at the police court. When the case came to the Assizes a month later, she was acquitted. That is the sort of difficulty which will arise. We are not trying to put difficulties in the way of the Home Secretary. We want to help him by calling attention to the difficulties that will arise. Surely he can see that, although he must fix a time, this period of 20 years will give rise to difficulties. Here is the case of this girl of 18. Unquestionably she would have fallen under the mischief of this Bill if it had existed at that time. What does the Home Secretary propose to do in a case like that? If I may express my own personal opinion, I do not think it is for us to fix any period of years. I think that once you start with this sort of business, you must allow the Home Secretary to decide, but a case like that which I 1556 have quoted must give rise to serious misgivings.
§ 7.3 p.m.
§ Sir S. Hoare
Of course it is possible to quote individual cases in relation to almost every conceivable he kind of conditions. I can only say to the right hon. Gentleman, in regard to the case which has quoted, that these powers are permissive, and I cannot believe that any Home Secretary would order the deportation of a young person of that kind, who really had no connection with any other part of the world. In that kind of case a deportation order would not be made. The kind of case which has to be taken into account is the case of the man of say, 45 years of age, who has been here for 20 years and who may be a very-dangerous terrorist. It is towards a case of that kind that this provision is directed and not towards cases of the kind which the right hon. Gentleman has in mind.
§ 7.34 p.m.
§ Mr. Silverman
I do not think this matter is as simple as the right hon. Gentleman would make it appear. I agree that he would not desire to do anything unreasonable, but there will be other Home Secretaries and there may be other periods of panic. The words in the Measure are perfectly plain. They provide for a period of 20 years. What is the good of saying that this Bill is intended to apply only to persons of the age of 45 and that persons who, by reason of the date of their birth, could not possibly come within this exempting provision, will necessarily be exempt? Suppose the right hon. Gentleman's advisers reported to him that a person had brought himself, in every detail, within the liability to an expulsion order, but that he was only 18 years of age. Would the right hon. Gentleman feel that he should not make an order in that case? I feel sure that he would make an order. Yet that would be a person who could not possibly be exempt by reason of this 20-year provision. Suppose the case of another person, aged 21 and born in this country, who has never been out of this country. He is not within the Bill but the right hon. Gentleman has none of these special powers in his case, even though that person may have done all the things which, if he had been born in Ireland, or had lived part of his life in 1557 Ireland, would have made him amenable to this special legislation.
It is not good enough to say that such persons are not being put away. I do not read the Clause in that way. If an expulsion order is served upon a person, the right hon. Gentleman is under no obligation to facilitate that person's withdrawal from this country. It is true that under a later Clause he has power to do so but he need not do so. He can leave the onus of getting himself out of the country, upon the person who has been served with an order, "requiring him to leave Great Britain." Suppose such a person wants to obey the order but cannot, because no other country will take him. He has then committed an offence under this Measure and is liable to five years' penal servitude. It was said earlier that two categories of persons were affected. In view of the Amendment which has first been accepted there is a third category now. There is the class of person of whom the right hon. Gentleman is "reasonably satisfied" that they have not been ordinarily resident in this country for 20 years. It is not necessary for the right hon. Gentleman to prove that those persons have not been here for 20 years. He need only be "reasonably satisfied" that they have not been here for 20 years, though in fact they may have been here for that period. Considering the number of persons involved and the unfairness which may be caused by this provision, I submit that the period of 20 years is too long.
§ 7.38 p.m.
§ Mr. A. Henderson
Perhaps the Home Secretary would help the Committee in regard to the specific case of young people born in this country who have not attained the age of 20 years. These are the very sort of persons liable to be influenced by those who desire to promote this campaign of terrorism. If they commit an offence under this Measure, are they to be asked to leave the country, and, if so, where are they expected to go? This is a very special case and I ask the Home Secretary, before coming to a final decision on the Amendment, to give us some assistance on that point.
§ 7.39 p.m.
§ Sir S. Hoare
It is difficult for me to tie myself down rigidly in regard to a form of procedure which must be adapted to particular cases. With that general 1558 reservation I can tell the hon. and learned Member that in cases of the kind he has mentioned it is most improbable that we should make a deportation order. Upon the face of it, those persons would have nowhere to go, and if they have nowhere to go there is no point in making a deportation order against them. I think hon. Members must assume that, setting aside the present occupant of this office, Home Secretaries are bound to behave reasonably and sensibly over these matters, if they are given these powers for the exercise of which they will be responsible to Parliament.
§ 7.40 p.m.
§ Mr. Logan
I am concerned about the case of the young man under 20 who has been born in England and who does not know anything about any other country. I want to say straight away and to be quite clear about it, that having regard to what is going on, I have no objection whatever to regulations being made. I do not want anybody to be under any misapprehension about that, and I am not saying it with any reservations. All I am concerned about is that injustice should not be done to innocent people. The innocent people are the only people I am concerned about. The others must take the responsibility on their own shoulders. I understand that this Clause gives the Home Secretary the power of deportation and that, if there is not deportation there may be imprisonment. A young misguided man may come into this country and get into touch with families in this country. You may have the case of boys or girls born here of Irish parents and resident here and having no connection with anywhere else, although their sympathies may be over the water. Are those people to be deported out of this country and alienated from the only home they know? The question of association enters into this. A boy or girl of 20 having no connection whatever with this matter, may, by the very fact of having visited certain people, be brought within this Bill, and made liable to deportation. That seems an absurd proposition and I do not know how any Member of the Committee can regard it in an easy fashion.
§ The Deputy-Chairman
I am afraid the hon. Member is now getting rather wide of the Amendment and is discussing the whole of Clause I.
§ Mr. Logan
With all due respect we are considering here a very important point, and all I wish to do is to ask that the case of the young person of 20 years of age should be considered. As it is, this seems a rather stiff proposition. I think some exceptions should be made, and that the Home Secretary would be well advised to give it further consideration.
§ 7.44 p.m.
§ Mr. Stephen
The Home Secretary said that if a young person were born here, a deportation order would not be made against him because there would be nowhere for him to go. Will the right hon. Gentleman arrange before the Report stage to put definite words into the Bill making that clear? As I see it, the Home Office might take the view that a deportation order should be made. The young person would be unable to satisfy the order and would therefore go to prison. The, Home Office would be unable to go to the court and have the young person imprisoned on suspicion. They might be unable to prove a case against him in court. But in order to get that person out of the way, they would make a deportation order which could not be complied with and thus get the young person into prison by a roundabout way. The Home Secretary seems to signify disagreement. If it is the case that that would not be done in any case, I hope he will see that it is made statutorily impossible.
§ 7.45 p.m
§ 7.46 p.m.
§ Mr. Maxton
I wish the Home Secretary would say something more than that. I went through this Bill very carefully, and I have come to the conclusion that this Clause might enable the Home Secretary to deport a Scotsman. My son was born in Scotland, and if he were interested in Irish matters, might he not be deported from his own native land? Surely it is not the Home Secretary's intention that a 1560 law should pass on to the Statute Book of this country that enables a Minister to deport British-born British citizens to places unspecified.
§ The Deputy-Chairman
The hon. Gentleman is getting quite beyond the scope of the Amendment, which is to substitute the word "five" for the word "twenty."
§ Mr. Maxton
But if five years were substituted for 20 years, the points that we are raising would not arise. Surely the Home Secretary would not dream of deporting a child of five. We should assume that he would not regard such a child as a dangerous terrorist, but a young person of from 18 to 20 years of age, who is in what might be called the hobbledehoy stage, might be held to be just the kind of person to whom this sort of thing might appeal. Surely the right hon. Gentleman will give us an assurance that some words will be found to make it impossible for him to deport a British-born British citizen.
§ 7.48 p.m.
§ Sir S. Hoare
I can tell the Committee that the people whom we intend to deport are people whose home, speaking in a general term, is outside these shores. A check on any abuse of this power is that if people have not got a home or association of this kind, a deportation order will not work. The hon. Member for Bridgeton (Mr. Maxton) may say to me, "What would happen supposing you attempted to deport one of these young people who had nowhere to go to, and who came back because there was no place to take him? "I am sure that in that case the Attorney-General would take that into account in deciding whether or not to institute a prosecution. I must repeat that in the interests of security we deem this period of 20 years necessary. If we did not have it, the net against these people would not be wide enough. We have to take into account the kind of anomalies that have been brought to our attention, and I will look into them to see whether we can meet them, but after the assurances that I have given as to the way in which this provision is going to be administered, I think the Committee ought to carry it.
§ 7.50 p.m.
Mr. Silver man
On a point of Order. I want to ask whether, when the Committee is discussing the legal effect of 1561 the words of some Amendment, it is relevant to be told by the representative of the Government what the intentions are of this particular Administration. I do not raise that in any frivolous spirit, but it seems to me to be somewhat important. Time after time in these discussions, when it is pointed out that the strict meaning of words which we are discussing is to give certain powers to the Government, we are met with the reply, "You are perfectly right, but we do not intend to exercise those powers, and, therefore, you ought not to bother about them."
§ The Deputy-Chairman
There is no question of a point of Order here. The Home Secretary must make his statements in his own way, and the Chair cannot interfere.
§ 7.51 p.m.
§ Mr. A. Henderson
In view of what the Home Secretary has said, and of the fact that he has given an undertaking to consider the possibility of inserting an Amendment to Sub-section (2) to deal with the point of the position of an infant under 21 who has been born in, this country, but who may offend against the provisions of this legislation, I ask leave to withdraw the Amendment.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ 7.52 p.m.
§ One of the two sub-heads, and the more serious qualification—
§ Amendment agreed to.
§ Further Amendments made:
§ In page 2, line 1, after "is," insert "reasonably."
§ In line 4, after "is," insert "knowingly." —[Mr.Pritt.]
§ 7.53 p.m.
§ Mr. Maxton
I beg to move, in page 2, line 8, to leave out "place of work."
If the Home Secretary has a person's full name, address, photograph and measurements, I do not see any reason 1562 why his place of work should be brought into the matter at all, and the man be subjected to all the difficulties in relation to his employer and his fellow workers what do arise if police inquiries are being made at his place of employment.
§ Sir S. Hoare
We accept this Amendment, but I would point out that there might be cases in which the police would have to warn an employer. Speaking generally, we have no wish to carry on any kind of espionage on a man's work, and I will, therefore, accept this Amendment.
§ 7.55 p.m
§ Mr. Eastwood
I would like to utter a word of warning to my right hon. Friend. Surely there can be no question here of any undue interference with a person at his place of work. This person, whoever he may be, who becomes suspect has to register certain information with the police, and there is no extra labour or inconvenience to him, whether he registers, together with his name and address, his place of work or not. Surely the whole essence of this Bill is to try and stop episodes such as happened to-day at King's Cross. We want the authorities to be able to get all the information that they can. A man comes under suspicion, and they should be able to get to know as soon as possible as much as they can about him. What happens after that is in the discretion of the Home Secretary, but I do hope that in this and in other matters he will not be too eager to make concessions, so as to limit his discretion, when, for all we know, he may have to come to us later on and ask for even greater powers than the present Bill gives him.
§ 7.57 p.m.
§ Mr. Eastwood
I am very grateful to the right hon. Gentleman for calling my attention to that fact. If I am going to be liable to be blown up, and that can be stopped, I would like to have it stopped whether the person concerned has been resident here for 20 years or for 50 years.
§ Mr. Benn
Hon. Members opposite, whenever a point is brought forward that they cannot argue, beg the question, and 1563 they always say, "We are going to be blown up by a bomb. "I should like to point out—and I should be ashamed if I did not point it out—that any citizen of this country is liable to be put on ticket-of-leave in certain circumstances by the Home Secretary as a result of this Bill. We hope it will be transitory and specific, but there is the power. I am not objecting, but I think it would be shameful for a Member of this House to let that pass, without comment, that the Home Secretary now, by a lettre de cachet, can put everybody on ticket-of-leave if he is himself satisfied. Let us not assume that everyone who is trying to protect the rights of the innocent is in favour of the guilty.
§ 7.59 p.m.
§ Sir S. Hoare
In reply to my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Kettering (Mr. Eastwood),I agree fully that we want to make certain of catching these people, and I have not the least intention of accepting any Amendment which would have the effect of making that more difficult. I accepted this Amendment for this reason, that I think these words might create a lot of unnecessary suspicion and give the impression that the police are constantly going to get information from employers about employés, and, whether rightly or wrongly, the impression will get about that men are being dismissed for reasons that they do not understand. I would rather avoid that kind of suspicion if I can. I do not think the retention of these words is essential to the Bill. I feel that the police will be able to get the information that they want without an express provision of this kind, and, therefore, I think it wise, on the whole, to accept the Amendment.
§ Mr. Maxton
I hope the hon. and learned Gentleman opposite did not intend to suggest that I moved this Amendment because I approve of railwaymen at King's Cross being injured.
§ Mr. Maxton
I do not think the fact that railwaymen are injured at King's Cross is a reason why shipyard labourers should be driven out of their employment on the Clyde. If the Home Secretary knows where a particular man is, where he is staying, and what his appearance 1564 is, I think we can safely leave it in the hands of the authorities to deal with that person.
§ Amendment agreed to
§ Further Amendment made: In page 2 line 14, after "is" insert "reasonably." —[Mr. Pritt.]
§ Clause, as amended, ordered to stand part of the Bill
§ CLAUSE 2. —(Effect of expulsion orders and prohibition orders.)
§ 8.5 p.m.
§ Sir S. Hoare
I beg to move, in page 2, line 42, at the end, to insert:Provided that if a person upon whom such a notice has been served objects that there are no grounds, or no sufficient grounds, for the making of the order against him, he may within forty-eight hours of the service of the notice send to the Secretary of State representations in writing stating the reasons for his objection, and upon receiving such representations the Secretary of State shall, unless he considers the reasons to be frivolous, refer the matter for the advice of a person nominated by him (not being an officer of police or of any Government department) and the person so nominated shall interview the objector and examine his objection, and shall report to the Secretary of State who shall as soon as may be reconsider the case and either revoke the order or notify the person against whom it was made of his refusal to do soI can assure the Committee that in my view this proposal would be a very real safeguard against an order against an innocent person. I want it to be a genuine safeguard and I shall certainly make it my business to see that it is worked in that spirit
§ 8.7 p. m
§ Mr. Silverman
I beg to move, as an Amendment to the proposed Amendment, in line I, after "notice" to insert "or notice of a registration order."
If the right hon. Gentleman's Amendment is inserted without these words, this qualified right of appeal is given in a case where an expulsion order is made, but no corresponding right of appeal is given where an order for registration is made. It will probably be admitted that, if it is right in principle to allow some sort of review in the case of an expulsion order, it is right to allow the same kind of review in the case of a registration order. For one reason it is even more important, because a registration order can be made against anyone. It is not a question of orders against residents, or normal 1565 residents, in some other country. Any person in Great Britain may have a registration order made against him. Therefore, it will probably be agreed that, since it has been thought right to provide this additional machinery in the case of expulsion orders, it ought not to be withheld in the case of registration orders.
§ 8.9 p. m
§ The Solicitor-General
My right hon. Friend has only just seen the Amendment and I am afraid I cannot give an undertaking to accept it at the moment. The position of a registration order is, of course, quite different from a case where an expulsion or prohibition order is made. In the case of a registration order the person against whom it is made is required only to give notice of his movements and to register, and, generally being a person who is under the reasonable suspicion of the Secretary of State, to account for his movements from time to time, if required by the police. That is very different from the case in respect of which we put in this check on the administration in the case of an expulsion order. It would certainly complicate the Clause and add to the amount of investigation which would have to be done by the person my right hon. Friend has in mind, and my right hon. Friend is not prepared at the moment to accept an Amendment on these lines. I can, however, give an assurance that the matter will be looked into before the later stages of the Bill to see whether the objections are as formidable as we think they are at present.
§ 8.11 p.m.
§ Mr. Pritt
The hon. and learned Gentleman suffers from the disadvantage of never having been on ticket of leave and not knowing how very serious this form of restriction is. I have not been on it either, but I have known people who have. In actual practice being on ticket of leave is a very unpleasant thing indeed, and the right hon. Gentleman has recognised it in some of his legislation by generously making arrangements to abolish it. In giving consideration to the matter, as promised, I hope it will not be regarded as at all a light thing to be registered, finger-printed, measured and made to report. It is the easiest way in the world to lose your job, however sympathetically administered—and it is not always administered sympathetically.
§ Amendment to the proposed Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ 8.13 p.m.
§ Mr. Benn
I beg to move, as an Amendment to the proposed Amendment, in line 7, after "department," to insert:serving upon the objector at the same time a short statement of the facts upon which the Secretary of State has relied in making the order.I think it will commend itself to anyone that a person who is about to be expelled, or prohibited from coming here, should be given some statement of the facts on which the Home Secretary relies.
§ The Solicitor-General
I very much regret that my right hon. Friend cannot see his way to accept this proposal. As he has explained, necessarily a good deal of the material on which he will make up his mind will be material of a confidential character. To disclose the facts to the objector will necessarily put at risk the people who supplied the information in-some instances. It will be disclosing an avenue of information which it is most undesirable that we should disclose, and for that reason alone it is not possible to accept the Amendment to the proposed Amendment, but I would add this as a reassurance to the right hon. Gentleman. As I think the hon. and learned Member for North Hammersmith (Mr. Pritt) pointed out, when the matter comes before the referee, or whatever one cares to describe him as, it must be quite obvious that a gentleman of the calibre of my right hon. Friend has described will at once put before the objector the kind of case that is being made against him. It is proposed that the examiner or referee should be put in possession of all the relevant facts, and he will, no doubt, at an early stage of his interview with the objector make known, with discretion no doubt, to the objector the case that is going against him.
§ The Solicitor-General
I think it is preferable that the functions of the examiner should be left at large as much as possible. The confidence that the House and the country will feel in the examiner will be justified by the appointments or the-nominations which my right hon. Friend makes. If an examiner were, as my right hon. Friend suggested he might very well 1567 be, a retired judicial officer with experience, it is quite clear that he would be unable to discharge his functions unless he notified in sufficient outline to the objector what was the case against him, but that is a very different matter from requiring him to serve on the objector a statement of the facts on which the Home Secretary is relying as the ground for making the Order. Therefore, I am afraid that this Amendment to the proposed Amendment cannot be accepted.
§ 8.17 p. m
§ Mr. Pritt
In my humble submission this is really very bad indeed. For the benefit of hon. Members who are thronging the benches behind the right hon. Gentleman I will explain not only what this Amendment does but what the next Amendment, which I understand is not going to be accepted either, would do. The Bill as it stands simply says that the referee shall interview the objector and examine his objections. Literally that means that he shall say to him, "Thomas O'Flaherty, you are going back to Ireland. Will you tell me why you object?" Thomas O'Flaherty will object because he is not to be allowed to remain in England. It will not be as badly managed as that, of necessity, but the referee will say, "It is suggested that you come under this Act. I will read you the Clauses of it. What can you say?" and the man can only say, "I do not; will somebody tell me in what way it is suggested that I do come under it." Then says the hon. and learned Member, "Oh, the referee is sure to tell him the nature of the case." He is telling us that the Government refuse to tell the man the substance of the case but saying that the referee is sure to do it.
As the Clause stands, the referee does not even need to be told himself, and with a Home Secretary who says that he is terrified of this, that and the other, terrified of some "nark" or somebody being spotted and then being dealt with brutally, it is very likely that he will not tell the referee very much, Therefore, one says naturally, "If we are asked to abandon this not elementary right, but this tiny fragment of an elementary right, let us see whether there is something which could be put in the Bill to say that the referee shall be able to tell him." Accordingly we have proposed to add after 1568 the statement in the Clause that the person so nominated shall interview the objector and examine his objections the words "and all the evidence in the possession of the Secretary of State," and the hon. and learned Gentleman has indicated that he will not have that Amendment either. Every single thing that the hon. and learned Gentleman says will surely be done is offered by us in Amendments and we are told that we are not to have them. When we reintroduce this Bill in a few years' time and call it the "Prevention of Financial Sabotage (Temporary Provisions) Bill," and put in the word "banker" instead of "person concerned" we shall get all sorts of objections from hon. Members opposite
§ The Chairman
The hon. and learned Gentleman is undoubtedly tending to discuss this and the next manuscript Amendment together. I think that would not be inconvenient for him, but it is a little inconvenient for the Committee without their knowing what the second Amendment is.
§ The Chairman
If the Committee assent to the two Amendments being discussed together I think that would be for the general convenience: only it is difficult for hon. Members to realise what the two Amendments would do from only having them read out
§ Mr. Pritt
I will read it again. It comes in at line 8. The Clause says that the person so nominated shall interview the objector and examine his objection, and we want to add words after the word "objection" so that it will read "the person so nominated shall interview the objector and examine his objection and examine all the evidence in the possession of the Secretary of State." I should like to point out that when we have some person as gentle as myself as Home Secretary dealing with bankers who have committed financial sabotage this is what we shall be able to do. We shall be able to say: "We are not bound to put any of the evidence before the referee, but certainly we will put the bulk of it. We will not put before him any of the evidence that really gives away the sources of our information, but we will put enough to convince him, and if he is convinced he will so report to our Secretary 1569 of State and the reconsideration of the case will be quite a formal matter and we shall maintain the order." But if the referee reports back that on the evidence we have condescended to put before him he really does not think we have made out a good enough case we can then go back to our own room and sit down and say to ourselves, "Well, we have to reconsider the whole case, the responsibility is ours. On the evidence we put before him it may be that, perhaps, he is not unreasonable in recommending us to revoke the order, but we have something up our sleeve, and adding what he has seen to what he has not seen we shall maintain our order."
That will be making an absolute farce of the whole of this procedure, and it is no good the right hon. Gentleman saying that we ought to trust him not to make a farce of it. For the moment I am dealing with the case on the footing that we do trust him not to make a farce of it, but unless these Amendments are adopted he is almost forced by his own statement to make a farce of it, because he is saying, "I will not give the man a short statement of the facts, because it might be dangerous and give the show away, and I will not undertake to put all the evidence in my possession before the referee, because that might indirectly give the show away." So he is saying that he must be left in the position, when the referee has reported, of being able to consider the referee's report and consider the evidence which the referee has never had a chance to see, and the order will ultimately be what I might call not revoked—but that will have been done on something which the referee has never had a chance to bring his independent mind to bear.
If that is not to happen I suggest that the right hon. Gentleman ought to accept the Amendment indicated. I am not very proud of the words, which we have had to draft very quickly to put into a Clause which itself was drafted quickly, but he ought to say that either he will accept those words or put the substance of them in on Report stage. I am entitled to make this general observation: that it is notorious to the whole world that policemen are not much worse than other people, but they have got their job to do and have to show results, and if you once let policemen know that they can 1570 keep their witnesses back and never let anybody see them witnesses will become as fruitful as the vine.
§ 8.25 p.m.
§ Mr. Foot
I would like to support briefly the two Amendments to the proposed Amendment. The Solicitor-General said in answering the first of these Amendments that it was dangerous to inform the person against whom it is proposed to make an order of all the facts alleged against him. My first comment on that is that the difficulty might be dealt with in the way that was suggested by us a short time ago. If the Solicitor-General will look at paragraph 2 of the Schedule it will be clear that why we proposed that a notice should be served on the person concerned specifying, with sufficient particulars and reasonable information the nature of the facts alleged against him, the ground on which they were alleged and the order, if any, made against him. That would not bind the person who drew up the notice to include all the facts in possession of the Home Secretary who had thought it necessary to make the order, but it would enable the man to know the nature of the case which he had to meet.
Upon an earlier Amendment, the hon. Member for Stafford (Mr. Thorneycroft) pointed out how many different types of case might arise. There is the simple case which occurs to all of us in which a man might make his defence by proving an alibi. He is alleged to have been at a certain house at a certain time when some bombing outrage was being planned. If he can prove that he was actually 100 miles away he has a perfectly simple defence. That is the kind of thing which is likely to arise. What will happen under this procedure? You have to disclose to him at some stage that this kind of thing is alleged against him. Then he says: "I can call a friend of mine to prove that I was at that place 100 miles away on the night in question." What will then happen? The referee who is holding the inquiry will, if justice is to be done, adjourn the inquiry until some future date, and the man will have to be kept in custody until the witness can be brought. Thus you have waste of time and the man unnecessarily kept in custody for a longer period than would have been the case, and, in addition, 1571 you are adding slightly to the burden placed upon the referee. All that difficulty, trouble and delay would be avoided if you gave the man the sort of notice that was suggested in the first place.
The other argument is the one about giving away your sources of information. It is obvious that that situation must arise and I can appreciate the force of the argument. The Solicitor-General himself, and the Home Secretary in an earlier speech, made it clear that at some stage you have to give away the source of your information if the inquiry by the referee is to be worth anything at all. Consider again a kind of case that I have mentioned, in which he case against the accused is that he I as been in a certain place with a well-known incendiary on a certain night. Questions have to be put to him that will convey clearly to his mind that there are only one or two people who could have given information against him. You are bound to come up against that difficulty whatever form of procedure you adopt. Since you cannot obviate it entirely it would be much more satisfactory to give the man some sort of notice and indication of the case—I do not say of the facts— in good time before the hearing so that he might know the sort of case he has to meet and the sort of defence that might be accepted.
We have not yet had any indication of this kind, but is it contemplated that the referee shall hear any evidence other than that of the man himself? Suppose the man says, as he is bound to say, in certain connections: "I can prove that I am innocent of what you are alleging against me if I am able to call certain friends of mine who were with me at that time"; is it contemplated that it will be within the competence of the referee to call those witnesses and test them by cross-examination? If not, the position will be serious, because you will be depriving a man of what might be a very simple way of proving that he is innocent of the allegation advanced. I hope we can have an answer that other evidence will be called at the hearing before the referee, since at one stage or another you have to reveal something of your case. If the trial by the referee is to mean anything at all surely there is an overwhelming case for giving the 1572 man notice in some form before the proceedings start
§ 8.30 p.m.
§ Mr. Thorneycroft
The Solicitor-General in dealing with the first Amendment to the proposed Amendment said that the referee—or call him what you will—will at once put before the accused the kind of case which is being made against him. If that is to be done, is there any objection to the kind of case which is to be made against him when he comes up being given to him say 48 hours before, so that he can have a look at it and see what is going to be said against him. The hon. Member who has just spoken has had a wide experience of police courts, and he knows how difficult it is to meet a case when you are put into court at the last moment without any instructions whatever. It is not unreasonable to ask that, say, 48 hours' notice should be given to the accused man, who is probably in custody, any how
On the second Amendment to the proposed Amendment my right hon. Friend is, I understand, refusing that point too. All that is suggested is that the evidence in his possession should be given, not to the accused, but to the right hon. Gentleman's own nominated investigator. I would like an answer to this question: Suppose that investigator were a judge of the High Court; would my right hon. Friend refuse to communicate to that judge of the High Court the information in his possession, and if so, why?
§ 8.33 p.m.
§ Mr. Pethick-Lawrence
I should like to put to the Home Secretary one small point on this question of evidence. Many Members of the Committee quite appreciate the difficulties that are present to the mind of the Government over this matter, but the Government have said that at some stage or other the man must be given the substance—not the details and not the evidence—of the charge against him. My feeling is that if that is to be the case, there ought to be some provision for it in the Bill. There is nothing whatever in the Bill that even suggests that that procedure, which the Solicitor-General tells us will be followed, will in fact be followed. Hon. Members who are raising these points will be satisfied if words which the Government think meet the case—not necessarily the words 1573 that have been proposed on this side of the Committee—are included, and provided there is in the Bill itself some mention of the fact that the substance of the charge against the man will at some point that is not too late be given to him who is the sufferer in the case. Otherwise, the whole procedure will be fruitless. If the man is not to know the substance of the case against him there is no point in having the referee. The man might say: "I am quite guiltless, "but that is all he can say. He must know something of the charge against him, and some reference to this procedure should be included in the Bill.
§ 8.35 p. m
§ Sir R. Acland
I support the plea which has just been made, and should like to make it a little more specific. We thought that, although the Government were not being very generous towards our Amendment, they were showing Some appreciation of the point of view we tried to express on the Second Reading; but, now that they are rejecting these two Amendments, we are forced to revise our view about the Government's desire to meet us. That is the more unfortunate because we have recently been informed that the Government desire to get the whole of this Bill to-night. I hope that, if we are asked to co-operate with the Government in this way, they will cooperate with us as far as they can. My hon. Friend the Member for Dundee (Mr. Foot) has suggested one alternative set of words which might be taken from paragraph 2 of our Schedule I would submit another set, which would be even easier for the Government to accept, as an Amendment to the first of the manuscript Amendments which we are now discussing. I would suggest that it might be made to read in this way:Serving upon the objector, so far as he can without detriment to the public interest, a short statement of the facts upon which it is proposed to make"—and so on. Is it conceivably possible that the Government could resist an Amendment in these terms? It seems to me that they would be completely safeguarded as to everything they do not want to do, and yet would be undertaking in the Bill to do everything which they say they will do. There is an important distinction between the Minister saying that something will be done and having it in the Bill in black and white, and I think the 1574 Government ought to realise that that is so. At any rate, we feel strongly that it is so, and that they should try to meet us. As to the rejection of the second manuscript Amendment, that seems to me to be so amazing that I cannot understand it, and find myself quite incompetent to make any comment on it.
§ 8.38 p.m.
§ The Solicitor-General
I do not complain at all, because, by the nature of things, if an Amendment of the Government appears on the Order Paper on a particular day, one must expect manuscript Amendments; but it is very difficult in such a case to do anything except deal with the terms of the Amendment which are in manuscript before you. You cannot go on making Amendments to Amendments with any great convenience and without getting into hopeless confusion. Therefore, I have to deal with the first Amendment on what it says. It says that you must serve on the objector at the same time a short statement of the facts on which the Secretary of State relies. I have already said that my right hon. Friend cannot contemplate an Amendment in those terms, because it would involve his telling the objector what his material is. It may be extremely confidential; it may expose people to risk of life or bodily injury. If I may give an example that has occurred to me while I have been sitting on the bench as the Debate was going on, supposing that this were done, and that the referee reported, as he would be entitled to report, that the man had been for more than 20 years ordinarily resident here, the Home Secretary would revoke the order without prejudice to the facts. He might still remain perfectly satisfied that this man was an accomplice in the conspiracy, and yet, because it was reported to him, and he accepted the report, that the man had been here 20 years, the man would go free of the expulsion order. But he would have in his possession, if this Amendment were accepted, a statement of the confidential facts on which the Home Secretary had been brought to make up his mind in the first instance. Obviously, that is a situation which could not be contemplated, and therefore it is quite impossible to accept the first Amendment.
What does the man against whom an order has been made know? He knows 1575 that an expulsion order has been made, and he knows that it has been made because the Home Secretary, responsible to this House, is satisfied that he has been concerned in the preparation or instigation of acts of violence directed against this country. It is true that at the present moment there is no requirement in Clause I that that statement of the nature of the offence must be served upon him, but my right hon. Friend would be prepared to look into the question whether the nature of the offence should be disclosed to him with the original notice. There is, of course, the presumption that everyone knows the law, but, stretching a point in this case, that might be got over by including something in Sub-section (5) of Clause 1 providing that notice should be given to the man, when the expulsion order is originally served, of the circumstances in which an expulsion order ought to be served.
§ The Solicitor-General
That is all that I mean. He is supposed to know why the expulsion order is being served, but I can see no very great objection to that. As to the serving of a notice of the facts upon which the Home Secretary's mind would be made up, my right hon. Friend, for the reasons I have given, could not accept that suggestion. I pass to the second Amendment which we are also discussing, and which would provide that the referee, as we may call him, should be given all the evidence in the possession of the Secretary of State. Again I must deal with the Amendment as it stands. It is obvious that the referee will not in every case want all the evidence that is before the Secretary of State. Suppose, for example, that the only objection made by the objector is that he has been here for 20 years. If that is decided in his favour, and the Home Secretary accepts the report, it is conclusive and settles the matter, and in these circumstances there is no point in the person who is conducting the inquiry being given all the material which went to make up the Home Secretary's mind on the matter. But my right hon. Friend has given an 1576 express assurance at this Box that it is his intention in every case to give to the referee all the material that is relevant to the making up of his mind on the issue that is before him. I suggest that that ought to be enough, and that the hon. and learned Member for North Hammersmith (Mr. Pritt), who is not at the moment in his place, was, quite unwittingly and un designedly, misrepresenting my right hon. Friend when he said he would not undertake to give the referee all the material.
§ The Solicitor-General
My right hon. Friend has given it in my hearing and in the hearing of all of us at this Box this afternoon. I think my hon. Friend must have overlooked it. It has been given explicitly here.
§ Mr. Pethick-Lawrence
The Solicitor-General cannot get away with that. How a particular Home Secretary, while he retains that office, administers the Bill is not relevant to our discussion. We are discussing whether this Bill, in its present form, should become an Act without any Amendment embodying the idea that we are discussing.
§ The Solicitor-General
That is a different objection. All I am saying at the moment is that it is not fair to say that no assurance has been given that the referees will, in fact, be put in possession of all the relevant materials. That assurance has, in fact, been given. The right hon. Gentleman says that an assurance is not enough; that he would like to see it embodied in an Act. I will tell him one-reason why my right hon. Friend does not desire to see it embodied in an Act. This is emergency legislation, dealing with a critical position, and the more you put into a Clause of this kind which enables the matter to be brought before the jurisdiction of the court, the less effective and prompt you make the legislation. It is possible to conceive types of proceedings by which questions of whether the tribunal was properly furnished are brought for decision before the High Court. The moment you permit that, you rip up the whole purpose of the legislation. In matters of legislation the House of Commons has to be governed by the pledge of the administrator as to the way that 1577 the Act is to be administered. For these reasons neither of the Amendments would, in our opinion, effect the purpose of the Bill, which is to enable us to deal promptly with these things.
§ 8.48 p.m.
Sir J. Nail
It is much better to deport a dozen innocent persons than to allow one innocent person to be killed
§ Mr. Benn
We all feel exactly as he does about that, but we do not feel that justice can be done to the people who suffer by punishing the innocent. Of course, this is a very difficult problem; but I have often seen cases where public sentiment has been involved, and I have regretted afterwards that I have not had the courage to stand up for what I believed in because public sentiment was against me. There was a case after the outrages some time ago in Tottenham Court Road. A man named Fluke was brought up because the police believed that he was guilty of taking part in that outrage. Under this Measure, the police, believing him guilty, would have recommended him for deportation. Suppose that he did not know what was the charge. He would have been deported. But knowing what the charge was, this man was able to produce an alibi to show that when the outrage occurred he was not there; he was proved, in fact, to be a man who was not in sympathy with Eire at all. Why cannot the Government agree to an Amendment which asks for the most elementary right, that a man 1578 who is charged should be given information as to the charge which is laid against him?
§ 8.52 p. m
§ Mr. Harvey
The Government have shown themselves very much in earnest in their desire to, meet points which have been raised in different quarters with a view to safeguarding the rights of citizens, and I hope they will be able to go a little further than the learned Solicitor-General felt able to do. It ought to be possible to give some general indication of the charge without going into details. I can quite see that there is an objection to giving any detailed information, but it ought to be possible to give the accused a general indication before he is confronted in secret with the investigator or referee. If he knows the charge only at the very last moment, when he is confronted with the referee or investigator, he is at a very great disadvantage—and I do not think the Government wish to put an innocent person at a disadvantage. It should be possible for the Government to look into this with a view to themselves finding words, which they can themselves introduce if necessary, to make it possible that, at the very earliest opportunity and before the accused person is brought before the investigator, he will know the general nature of the charges brought against him. That can be done without revealing any facts which it would be dangerous to the public interest to disclose. I hope the Government will be able to see their way to meet the very weighty objection which has been raised on this point.
§ 8.54 p.m.
Sir J. Nail
The hon. Member for the English Universities (Mr. Harvey) quite clearly expressed himself most concerned about rights. As I understand the Bill and the Government's attitude to this Amendment to the proposed Amendment they are more concerned with the lives and safety of individuals. As I said to the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Gorton (Mr. Benn), the safety of one person was much more important than the civil rights of a dozen, and I am sure the public at large would rather see a dozen persons wrongly deported than one killed.
§ Mr. Maxton
That is not always the hon. Member's attitude when the question of safety in mines is under discussion
Sir J. Nail
The hon. Member has no right to say that. I have never, in this House or elsewhere, endeavoured to impede safety in mines.
§ Question put, "That those words be there inserted in the proposed Amendment."
§ The Committee divided: Ayes, 119; Noes, 1901581
|Division No. 286]||AYES.||[8.57 p.m.]|
|Acland, Sir R.T.D.||Griffiths, G. A. (Hemsworth)||Parkinson, J. A.|
|Adams,D.(Censett)||Griffiths, J. (Llineliy)||Pearson, A.|
|Adams, D.M.(Poplar, S.)||Groves, T. E.||Pethick-Lawrence, Rt. Hon. F. W.|
|Adamson, Jennie L. (Dartford)||Hall. G. H. (Aberdare)||Poole, C. C.|
|Adamson, W. M.||Hall, J. H. (Whitechapel)||Price, M. P.|
|Banfield, J. W||Hardie, Agnes||Pritt, D. N.|
|Barr, J.||Harvey, T. E. (Eng. Univ's.)||Richards, R. (Wrexham)|
|Batay, J.||Hayday, A.||Riley, B.|
|Bellenger, F. J.||Henderson, J. (Ardwick)||Ritson, J.|
|Bonn, Rt. Hon. W. W.||Henderson, T. (Tradeston)||Roberts, W. (Cumberland, N.)|
|Benson, G.||Hills, A. (Pontefract)||Robinson, W. A. (St. Helens)|
|Bevan, A.||Hopkin, D.||Sexton, T. M.|
|Bromfield, W.||Jagger, J.||Silverman, S S.|
|Buchanan, G.||Jenkins, A, (Pontypool)||Simpson, F. B.|
|Burke, W. A.||Jenkins, Sir W. (Neath)||Sloan, A.|
|Cape, T.||Jones, A. C. (Shipley)||Smith, E. (Stake)|
|Chater, D.||Kennedy, Rt. Hon. T.||Smith, T. (Normanton)|
|Cluse, W. S.||Kirby, B. V.||Sorensen, R. W.|
|Cooks, F. S.||Kirkwood, D.||Stephen, C.|
|Collindridge, F.||Lathan, G.||Stewart, W. J. (H'ghfn-le-Sp'ng)|
|Cove, W. G.||Lawson, J. J.||Summerskill, Dr. Edith|
|Daggar, G.||Lee, F.||Taylor, R. J. (Morpeth)|
|Davidson, J. J. (Maryhill)||Leonard, W.||Thorneycroft, G. E. P.|
|Davies, R. J. (Westhoughton)||Leslie, J. R.||Thurtle, E.|
|Davies, S. O. (Merthyr)||Logan, D. G.||Tinker, J. J.|
|Dobbia, W.||Lunn, W.||Tomlinson, G.|
|Dunn, E. (Rother Valley)||MacDonald, G. (Inc)||Viant, S. P.|
|Ede, J. C.||McEntee, V. La T.||Walkden, A. G.|
|Edwards, Sir C. (Bedwellty)||McGhee, H. G.||Watkins, F. C.|
|Edwards, N. (Caerphilly)||MacLaren, A.||Watson, W. McL.|
|Evans, O. O. (Cardigan)||Maclean, N.||Westwood, J.|
|Evans, E. (Univ. of Wales||Marnier, G. le M.||White, H. Graham|
|Foot, D. M.||Marshall, F.||Whiteley, W. (Blaydon)|
|Gallacher, W.||Mathers, G.||Williams, T. (Don Valley)|
|Gardner, B. W.||Maxton, J.||Windsor, W. (Hull, C)|
|Garro Jones, G. M.||Messer, F.||Woods, G. S. (Finsbury)|
|George, Megan Lloyd (Anglesey)||Montague, F.||Young, Sir R. (Newton)|
|Gibson, R. (Greenock)||Morrison. R.C. (Tottenham, N.)|
|Graham, D. M. (Hamilton)||Naylor, T. E.||TELLERS FOR THE AYES-|
|Green, W. H. (Deptford)||Nod-Baker, P. J.||Mr. Charleton and Mr. John.|
|Greenwood, Rt. Hon. A.||Oliver. G. H.|
|Acland-Troyte, Lt.-Col. G. J.||Craven-Ellis, W.||Grimston, R. V.|
|Adams, S. V. T. (Leeds, W.)||Crooke, Sir J. Smedley||Gritten, W. G. Howard|
|Agnew, Lieut.-Comdr. P. G.||Cross, R. H.||Guest, Maj. Hon. O. (C'mb'rw'll. N. W.)|
|Allen, Col. J. Sandeman (B'knhead)||Cruddas, Col. B.||Gunston, Capt. Sir D. W.|
|Anderson, Rt. Hn. Sir J. (So'h Univ's)||Davies, C. (Montgomery)||Hambro, A. V.|
|Aske, Sir R. W.||De la Bére, R.||Hannah, I. C.|
|Balfour, G. (Hampstead)||Donman, Hon. R. D.||Harbord, Sir A.|
|Balfour, Cast. H. H. (Isle of Thanet)||Dodd, J. S.||Haslam, Henry (Horncastle)|
|Barrie, Sir C. C.||Doland, G. F.||Haslam, Sir J. (Bolton)|
|Beamish, Rear-Admiral T. P. H.||Donner, P. W.||Hely-Hutchinson, M. R.|
|Beechman, N. A.||Drewe, C.||Heneage, Lieut.-Colonel A. P.|
|Boothby, R. J. G.||Duckworth, Arthur (Shrewsbury)||Hepworth, J.|
|Bower, Comdr. R. T.||Dugdale, Captain T. L.||Higgs, W. F.|
|Broadbridge, Sir G. T.||Duncan, J. A. L.||Hoare, Rt. Hon. Sir S,|
|Browne, A. C. (Belfast, W.)||Dunglass, Lord||Holdsworth, H.|
|Burgin, Rt. Hon. E. L.||Eastwood, J. F.||Holmes, J. S.|
|Burton, Col. H. W.||Edge, Sir W.||Hopkinson, A.|
|Butcher, H. W.||Edmondson, Major Sir J.||Horsbrugh, Florence|
|Campbell, Sir E. T.||Elliston, Capt. G. S.||Hudson, Rt. Hon. R. S. (Southport)|
|Cartland, J. R. H.||Emmett, C. E. G. C.||Hume, Sir G. H.|
|Carver, Major W. H.||Entwistle, Sir C. F.||Hunloke, H. P.|
|Gary, R. A.||Errington, E.||Hunter, T.|
|Cazalet, Thelma (Islington, E.)||Erskine-Hill, A. G.||Hutchinson, G. C.|
|Chapman, A. (Rutherglen)||Findlay, Sir E.||Inskip, Rt. Hon. Sir T. W H.|
|Christie, J. A.||Fleming, E. L.||Jennings, R.|
|Cobb, Captain E. C. (Preston)||Furness, S. N.||Jones, Sir G. W. H. (S'k N'w'gfn)|
|Colville, Rt. Hon. John||Fyfe, D. P. M.||Jones, Sir H. Haydn (Merioneth)|
|Cooke, J. D. (Hammersmith, S.)||Gilmour, Ll.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir J.||Jones, L. (Swansea W.)|
|Cooper, Rt. Hn. T. M. (E'nburgh, W.)||Gledhill, G.||Keeling, E. H.|
|Cox, H. B. Trevor||Gridley, Sir A. B.||Kerr, Colonel C. I. (Montrose)|
|Kerr, Sir John Graham (Sco'sh Univs.)||Neven-Spence, Major B. H. H.||Shaw, Captain W. T. (Forfar)|
|Kimball, L.||O'Connor, Sir Terence J.||Smith, Sir Ft. W. (Aberdeen)|
|Lamb, Sir J. Q.||O'Neill, Rt. Hon. Sir Hugh||Smithers, Sir W.|
|Leech, Sir J. W.||Peake, O.||Snadden, W. McN.|
|Lees-Jones, J,||Peters, Dr. S. J.||Somerset, T.|
|Leighton, Major B. E. P.||Petherick, M.||Somorvell, Rt. Hon. Sir Donald|
|Levy, T.||Pickthorn, K. W. M.||Spans, W. P.|
|Lewis, O.||Ponsonby, Col. C. E.||Stewart, J. Henderson (Fife, E.)|
|Liddall, W. S.||Porritt, R. W.||Strauss, H. G. (Norwich)|
|Little, J.||Power, Sir J. t.||Sueter, Rear-Admiral Sir M. F.|
|Llewellin, Colonel J. J.||Procter, Major H. A.||Sutoliffa, H.|
|Lloyd, G. W.||Radford, E. A.||Tasker, Sir R. I.|
|Locker-Lampson, Comdr. O. S.||Raikes, H. V. A. M.||Taylor, Vice-Adm. E. A. (Padd., S.)|
|Loftus, P. C.||Ramsbotham, Rt. Hon. H.||Thomson, Sir J. D. W.|
|MacAndrew, Colonel Sir C. G.||Rathbone, J. R. (Bodmin)||Thornton-Kemsley, C. N.|
|M'Connell. Sir J.||Reed, Sir H. S. (Aylesbury)||Titchfield, Marquess of|
|McCorquodale, M. S.||Reid, J. S. C. (Hillhead)||Touche, G. C.|
|MacDonald, Rt. Hon. M. (Ross)||Remer, J. R.||Ward, Lieut.-Col. Sir A. L. (Hull)|
|Macdonald, Gap). P. (Isle of Wight)||Rickards, G. W. (Skipton)||Wardlaw-Milne, Sir J. S.|
|McEwen, Capt. J. H, F.||Ropner, Colonel L.||Waterhouse, Captain C.|
|Magnay, T.||Rosbotham, Sir T.||Webbe, Sir W. Harold|
|Making, Brigadier-General Sir Ernest||Ron, Major Sir R. D. (Londonderry)||Wells, Sir Sydney|
|Margesson, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. D. R.||Ross Taylor, W. (Woodbridge)||Wickham, Lt.-Col. E. T. R.|
|Markham, S. F.||Rowlands, G.||Williams, Sir H. G. (Croydon, S.)|
|Marsden, Commander A.||Royds, Admiral Sir P. M. R.||Willoughby de Eresby, Lord|
|Mellor, Sir J. S. P. (Tamworth)||Ruggles-Brise, Colonel Sir E. A.||Wilson, Lt.-Col. Sir A. T. (Hitchin)|
|Mills, Major J. 0. (New Forest)||Russell, Sir Alexander||Windsor-Clive, Lieut.-Colonel G.|
|Mitchell, H. (Brentford and Chiswick)||Russell, S. H. M. (Darwen)||Wise, A. R.|
|Moore, Lieut.-Col. Sir T. C, R.||Salt, E. W.||Wood, Rt. Hon. Sir Kingsley|
|Morris-Jones, Sir Henry||Samuel, M. R. A.||Wright, Wins-Commander J. A. C.|
|Morrison, G. A. (Scottish Univ't.)||Sandeman, Sir N. S.||Young, A. S. L, (Partick)|
|Muirhead, Lt.-Col. A. J.||Scott, Lard William||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.|
|Munro, P.||Sellay, H. R.||Mr. James Stuart and Mr. Buchan|
|Nail. Sir J.||Shakespeare, G. H.||Hepburn.|
Question put, and agreed to.
§ The Chairman
I suggest that if the hon. and learned Member really wants to make a statement, I can call the second Amendment to the proposed Amendment for the purpose of enabling him to do so
§ 9.4 p. m
§ Mr. Pethick-Lawrence
Cannot the Solicitor-General give some indication between now and the Report stage that he will consider whether some words can be put into the Bill which will meet our difficulty? There is no guarantee in the Bill that the referee shall know the facts, or that, if he does know the facts, the man should be told. Cannot the Solicitor-General give a promise that between now and the Report stage some consideration can be given to the matter?
§ The Chairman
There is nothing before the Committee at the moment. I will put the original Amendment of the right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary.
§ Question again proposed, "That the proposed words be there inserted."
§ 9.5 p.m.
§ The Solicitor-General
I am not sure Sir Dennis, whether you are putting the whole of the Government Amendment. There is an Amendment of the hon. and learned Member for North Hammersmith (Mr. Pritt) which we have not yet discussed. May I make a few observations about the second manuscript Amendment—in line 8, after "objection," to insert:and examine all the evidence in the possession of the Secretary of State.I should like to reply to what has been said by the right hon. Member for East Edinburgh (Mr. Pethick-Lawrence). I have given my reasons why we cannot accept these words as they stand, and he has asked whether we will look into the matter between now and another stage of the Bill and see whether we can surmount the objection that I outlined and meet the case which they have made. I certainly will give that undertaking. That shall be looked into, and if we can see a way round the difficulty, my right' hon. Friend does not see any objection in principle to having embodied in the Bill the assurance that he has given.
§ 9.6 p.m.
§ Mr. Benn
Our difficulty is this. We feel strongly about the points we have raised, but we are equally anxious that 1583 the Government should receive all the powers they want as soon as possible. We do not want to stand in the way of that, and we are willing and anxious that the Committee stage should come to an end to-day, but that makes it very difficult with regard to drafting an Amendment. If the Amendments are made in another place by the Government and they come back to us here as Amendments, we should have freedom to discuss them as such almost with the same latitude as if they had been moved in this House. There are, of course, certain limits. I think that is the best thing that we can do, because there is no opportunity for the drafting of an. Amendment now unless the right hon. Gentleman has his Amendment ready. Therefore, the best arrangement would be that the undertaking given by the Government will be implemented by Amendments which will be moved in another place and that those Amendments should come to us and we shall be given a reasonable chance of examining them in the light of the promises made to us. Would that be agreeable to the right hon. Gentleman?
§ 9.8 p.m.
§ Sir S. Hoare
I am much obliged to the right hon. Gentleman for what he has said. I certainly agree. With regard to the points that we said we would consider, perhaps I might be able to confer with the right hon. Gentleman. So far as we have given undertakings, whatever form they take, we shall carry them out. I think the best plan would be, if it suits the right hon. Gentleman, that to-morrow he should have a talk with me, and then we should adopt the procedure suggested, namely, that the changes, if changes are to be made, will be made in another place.
§ Mr. Pritt
As the right hon. Gentleman's main Amendment is now before us, may I, in order to get something on record, ask him to consider this point? Now that this right has been conferred by the proviso, may we take it that if, out of the blue, a man gets a notice of expulsion, he shall be given a statement informing him that he has the rights that are mentioned in the Secretary of State's new words. That is to say, that if he objects that there are no grounds or that there are unsufficient grounds for the charge, he may make application.
§ 9.10 p.m.
§ The Solicitor-General
I am much obliged to the hon. and learned Member. That relieves us from the difficult' of discussing the Amendment which the right hon. Member for Gorton (Mr. Benn) has handed in to that effect. It is our intention to incorporate the effect of that Amendment in Clause 1 (5), and at the same time to implement the promise I made that we will also incorporate something in Sub-section (5) which will enable an indication to be given to the person who is served with an order that he is in fact believed to be concerned with preparation, instigation or harbouring, as the case may be, which are the provisions of Sub-section (2).
§ Further Amendments made:
§ In page 3, line 2, leave out "has been made," and insert "is in force."
§ In line 5, after "but," insert "subject as hereinafter provided."
In line 7, at the end, add:
Provided that no person shall without his consent be so placed on board ship as aforesaid until after the expiration of forty-eight hours from the service upon him of notice of the order made against him or if he makes representations to the Secretary of State in accordance with the last foregoing Sub-section until after the decision of the Secretary of State with respect thereto has been notified to him."—[Sir S. Hoare.]
§ 9.13 p.m.
Mr. Benn; I beg to move, in page 3, line 7, at the end, to add
(3)This Section shall have effect only in cases where some other country in which such person can reasonably reside without endangering his liberty is willing to receive him.I should like to ask what the Government intend to do with the man who has nowhere to go. I understand that four men who have been convicted came from Northern Ireland. Suppose you propose to deport some men to Northern Ireland and the Government of Northern Ireland say that they do not want them. Suppose their home town will not have them? What is to be done with them? Are they to be subjected to imprisonment or internment? That is the difficulty that I visualise in this Amendment. I do not know whether Eire will take back the people whom the Home Secretary may wish to send there. I am trying to 1585 foresee some of the difficulties that may arise. Suppose the difficulty does arise and Eire will not take them and the North of Ireland will not take them. It looks as if we shall be obliged to have some form of internment. Once we have an internment camp for people of this kind, people of passionate fanaticism, then all kinds of trouble will arise. I should be sorry for the Home Secretary if he had to intern people who had not been subjected to trial, not subjected to any charge, or convicted, but who were kept prisoners in a country they hated. That would have the worst possible effect on the future. Therefore, I move this Amendment to get some information from the Government as to what they intend to do with such persons.
§ Sir S. Hoare
I certainly do not like the idea of internment and I hope very much that we shall be able to avoid having recourse to any such expedient.
§ Sir S. Hoare
Not at all. I have as much dislike to internment as the right hon. Member. The Bill is based upon the assumption that the countries of origin will take back their citizens, and I believe we shall find that they will do so. Whatever course we may have to take I prefer to base the Bill on that assumption, but if they do not do so, and on a large scale, we shall have to have a new Bill. If there is an individual case in which for some reason, perhaps because the man or woman is not accepted as a citizen and is voluntarily sent back here, having been deported, then we shall have to take into account the fact that a return is impossible.
§ 9.17 p.m.
§ Mr. Logan
I think the right hon. Gentleman would be perfectly justified in accepting the Amendment, because if the difficulty should arise that any of these countries refuse to accept these people, then he has an alternative which will enable him to deal with the matter. It is certainly an Amendment which would give him power to deal with a particular case. As I understand, Eire is not only making its own regulations, but that in the case of persons convicted there would not be any entry into Eire. Therefore, 1586 these people who have been put on board ship would be on the high sea. What is going to happen to them? The I.R.A. Rave been proscribed in Southern Ireland, and if we suspect these people, they are to be put on the first ship out. Where are they to go? If they are inhabitants of Eire and Eire refuses to accept them, where are they to go? If the Amendment is not accepted I imagine that the right hon. Gentleman is going to be in some difficulty in dealing with these cases.
§ Sir S. Hoare
What I said was that the basis of the Bill is that the countries of origin will take back these people; if not we shall have to take other measures which might almost inevitably mean a new Bill. I think that the wise course is not to put anything into the Bill which would give the impression that the countries of origin will not take back their citizens.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Clause, as amended, ordered to stand part of the Bill.
§ CLAUSE 3. —(Offences and penalties.)
§ 9.22 p.m.
§ Mr. Harvey
I beg to move, in page 3, line 11, after "fails," to insert "without reasonable cause."
We all recognise that it is necessary there should be severe penalties for a breach of the order which is made, but I am sure the Government would not wish the penalty to fall upon someone who through no fault of his own was prevented from fulfilling the obligation within the time limit. There are several obvious cases in which this might happen, and where I am sure it is not the intention of the Home Secretary that any penalty should be imposed. A man might fall ill, be stricken down with grave influenza or some infectious illness, when it would be quite impossible for him to fulfil the terms of the Order. He may at the last moment be delayed by reason of the death of his wife or child, and in that case I do not think the delay of a week ought 1587 to be a ground for penalty. It may be a case of accident, a broken ankle, or a broken collar bone, which would make it difficult for him to get away. I am sure that the Home Secretary wishes to be merciful in cases of that kind, and I am certain that the insertion of these words would not interfere with the object of the Clause.
§ 9.24 p.m.
§ The Attorney-General
While appreciating the sort of case which the hon. Member has in mind, I think it is better not to insert these words. First of all, there is the fact that the consent of the Attorney-General or the Solicitor-General has to be obtained before further proceedings can be taken, and cases of sickness or accident would, of course, receive consideration. I think it is much better to leave the offence absolute, and, in the cases which the hon. Member has in mind, to rely on the ordinary safeguards which apply in many other cases. There are many other cases in which there may be a breach of the law but where it is quite plain that there is no culpability, and I think that we should take the same course in this matter.
§ 9.25 p.m.
§ Mr. McEntee
Would the Attorney-General deal with the case of a man who is quite willing but quite unable to find the means with which to go. A great number of these young men, particularly in the circumstances arising now as the result of these I.R.A. outrages, will probably be out of work. It may be that they have not the fare to get to Eire, America or anywhere else they may desire to go. What will you do in cases like that? If a case like that arises have you got that power or will you exercise some other power you may have to see that they get an opportunity of going by having a ticket presented to them?
§ 9.26 p.m.
§ Mr. Pritt
The Attorney-General advances two reasons for not accepting this proposal. One of them is absolutely baseless. He says that you cannot institute the proceedings without the consent of the Law Officers. The Bill says that you cannot institute the proceedings without the consent of the Law Officers 1588except such as the court may think necessary by remand or otherwise to secure the safe custody of the person charged, but this Sub-section shall not apply to Scotland or to any prosecutions instituted by or on behalf of the Director of Public Prosecutions.The Director of Public Prosecutions institutes practically every prosecution of the slightest importance in the country. The fiat of the Attorney-General, therefore, simply does not exist. I do not suppose there will ever be a prosecution under this Section which is not instituted by the Director of Public Prosecutions.
§ The Attorney-General
The Director of Public Prosecutions acts under the general instructions of the Attorney-General, but the Attorney-General is responsible.
§ Mr. Pritt
That is even sillier. Most of us know that in many cases he consults the Attorney-General, but there is a well recognised form of protecting people from wrong prosecutions, and that is that it shall not be done without the fiat of the Attorney-General. He then has to make up his mind whether he will grant it. This is not that case. The Attorney-General so often gives us so bad a reason for something which may be good in itself that we do not know where we are.
§ Amendment negatived.
§ 9.29 p.m.
§ Mr. Foot
I beg to move, in page 3, line 17, to leave out from "to," to "or," in line 18, and to insert "imprisonment for a term not exceeding two years."
This Amendment deals with the term of imprisonment which the court may inflict under this Clause. I understand that the right hon. Gentleman will accept this Amendment, and, therefore, I beg to move it formally.
§ Amendment agreed to.
§ 9.30 p.m.
§ Amendment agreed to.
§ Amendment agreed to.
§ Clause, as amended, ordered to stand part of the Bill.