§ Mr. Pritt (Hammersmith, North)
I beg to move,That an humble Address be presented to His Majesty praying that the Order in Council dated 16th December, 1942, made under the Emergency Powers Defence Acts, 1939 and 1940, amending Regulations 6A, 45A, 56AB, 60AC, 62 and 70 of, and adding Regulations 47D, 60DAA and 104A to, the Defence (General) Regulations, 1939, a copy of which was presented to this House on 19th January, be annulled.I have to move this Prayer, and if it is an inconvenience to everybody I apologise, although it is not wholly my fault. It was discovered late in the day that, if the Prayer was not taken now, it could never be taken at all. I feel that it is a matter of some seriousness and that, as a matter of public duty, I have no right just to abandon it, so that I must put everybody to inconvenience. By great good fortune I had prepared my argument, and I have just now been able to equip myself with all the necessary documents. I feel that I can relieve the anxiety of the Ministry of War Transport by telling them what I told the Home Office a long time ago; and that is that I am interested in nothing whatever in the many Regulations involved, except Defence Regulation 104A. I did not, of course, tell any other Ministries that, because I thought it would be enough if I told one. One of the defects of this procedure by Prayer is that you have to pray against the whole of the Regulations, and if there were many hon. Members with all sorts of bees in their bonnets—I have only one at the moment—they might all be getting up to object. However, it does not seem likely that at this hour and on this day of the week anybody but myself will raise any discussion.
When I come to deal with Defence Regulation 104A, I am bound to become extremely dull, because this is a rather dull and complicated matter. Incidentally, it is a bit of legislation by reference of a rather extreme type. It is fair to say that it takes about eight hours to discover what the effect of the Regulation is—I am not going to take eight hours to inform the House—and it is only then that you can start to consider the merits or demerits of the matter. The Home Office are, of course, not represented just at the moment, because we discovered the trouble at a very late hour. I will do 1879 my best to explain the matter to the House, and no doubt somebody will watch the matter for the Home Office.
The broad general effect of the Regulation can be stated quite simply. There are a large number of powers, as everybody knows, contained in the Defence (General) Regulations empowering, and it is right and proper that they should empower, a very large variety of people—constables, secretaries of State, soldiers and sailors, persons authorised by other persons and so on—to do all sorts of things which have to be done in war-time, from shooting you to entering upon a piece of land without the landlord's permission. The general scheme and purpose of these Regulations, so far as it concerns Regulation 104A, is to confer a measure of those rights and powers on various groups and officials of the Forces, nations and peoples who are concerned with us in this war, what one would loosely call Allies but actually are called in this Regulation "Allied powers or associated authorities." Those powers are defined in paragraph (8) thus:The expression 'allied power' means a foreign power engaged, in alliance with His Majesty, in any war in which His Majesty is also engaged, and the expression associated authority means a foreign authority recognised by His Majesty as competent to maintain naval, military or air forces for service in association with His Majesty's forces.I would not like to pick out invidiously any particular body as being more important than another, but, purely as an example, there are in this country, as everybody knows, quite a large number of officials and troops of the United States of America, and there are also troops and other officials of such associated authorities as, shall we say, Yugoslavia and Czechoslovakia. [Interruption.] Very well, let us not say Yugoslavia, and let us stick only to Czechoslovakia. It is obvious that a good deal of trouble has been taken to prepare this particular Regulation, although I have a good many complaints to make about it, and it does actually deal with the extension of the Regulations to what I am going to call shortly, if I may without being inaccurate, the Allies or the Allies and associates. It deal with them in three ways. One is to use such phrases as:'His Majesty's Forces,' or 'members of His Majesty's Forces,' or 'servants of His Majesty,' or 'persons acting On behalf of His 1880 Majesty' shall be read to include the naval, military and air forces or servants or persons acting on behalf of the Allied and associated Forces.So automatically that very large section of Regulations which empowered a British soldier to do something which was included in them apply under similar circumstances with the passing of this Regulation to a soldier in the Forces of the Allies. That is only an illustration, because the matter is not confined to soldiers. There is another class, where more care is required, in which there is no automatic extension but in which power given to a Secretary of State or the Admiralty—I suppose it means in actual practice any Defence Department or the Home Office—may extend to these Allied and associated Forces the powers at present exercisable only by certain citizens and servants of His Majesty. There is one way not involving the intervention of the Secretary of State, where a justice of the peace may grant a search warrant. Search warrants are normally addressed and should be addressed to specific individuals authorising them to search, and these individuals are extended under the Regulation to officials of the Allies and associates.
I am sorry it should be such a wearisome task to take a few Regulations and point out the somewhat grave effects that result, as I suggest, from the fact that these powers are given to the Allies and associates in addition to the British authorities. I am not, of course, being chauvinistic, but the real anxiety I feel about it is this: I think a great many people agree with me that a very wide measure of power to do things which would ordinarily be somewhat arbitrary must be conceded in war-time. The real safeguard in such cases is, I think the House will agree, that if there is an abuse of the power, it can be brought up in this House and challenged. The anxiety I feel is that in such cases it will not be possible to challenge them if they are done under this extended Regulation by foreign Powers. Once the Regulation exists, and I suppose it does exist at the moment, if a member of the Armed Forces of His Majesty takes some course which is said to be wrong, and there is a misuse of power, you can ask the Secretary of State for War why it has been done, and he can accept responsibility, and make restitution if necessary, and see that it does not 1881 happen again. But if it is done by the armed forces of any other Power, their Ministers do not sit here, and we cannot ask, them, while the Foreign Secretary is presumably not responsible for their conduct and we cannot ask him. There is nobody else we can ask.
I do not want to use any extravagant language about this, because it is a matter which should be soberly considered, with-out heat—it may be that I am not the right person to do it, but the Motion is in my name—and I think the best thing I can do is to take some of the Regulations and see the way they work out, and the difficulty which is caused, in the hope that the Home Office will undertake to reconsider the Regulations and draft them in a different form. The first one I can take, which happens to be quite a good illustration, is Defence Regulation 8. I hope the House will not be alarmed if I take five or 10 minutes over Defence Regulation 8, and will not assume that I shall take five or 10 minutes over each of the 40 odd Regulations involved. Defence Regulation 8 comes in a Section which deals with an important matter of defence: "Provisions for the security of the State." I think everybody would say that this Regulation ought to exist. I am going to take it first in its original form. Section 8, paragraph (1), gives the Postmaster-General power to direct by order that, subject to exemptions, and subject to permits, nobody shall use wireless transmission apparatus. That is the thing I am most interested in at the moment, as a fair illustration. You would expect that Sub-section to be restrictive. In paragraph (2) the competent authority may provide for dealing with wireless transmission apparatus. When you get to the foot of page 25, in Sub-section (3), you get the actual operative thing which is effected by Defence Regulation 104A. It says that any person acting on behalf of His Majesty may, in relation to any ship or aircraft—it may be the Ministry of War Transport is interested, after all—take such steps and use such force as may appear to that person necessary and reasonable for securing compliance with this Regulation and, where contravention of such an order has occurred in the case of a ship or aircraft, to enable proceedings in respect of the contravention to be effectually taken.
Look at the Regulation as it stood a few months ago. It was an admirable 1882 Regulation. You want power to act most vigorously in such a case. It might be the Customs officer of a port or the chief constable of a port, or a constable or a soldier to whom an officer has given an order, or it might be a naval officer, who would have to go on board a ship and say, "You have wireless apparatus here in working order, and you have no authority to use it. I am going to dismantle it, and if, as I suspect, you have been using it, I am going to take such steps as necessary to enable action to be taken in respect of the contravention." If necessary, he could arrest the master of the ship. To enable proceedings in respect of the contravention actually to be taken against the master of a ship which is going to sail, you must necessarily take him off the ship and put him into the local lock-up. In the ordinary course there would be no trouble. The British officer would be acting in a proper way. But suppose, in fact, there is a mistake and there is no order prohibiting that particular ship to use a transmitting apparatus and it is very important that it should use it. Questions must immediately be raised. If that is done by the British authorities, you can at once go to the Ministry of War Transport or the Home Office or to whoever it may be and have it cleared up. The captain, the master of the ship, will know that he could immediately get into touch with his owners and get them to get to the Ministry, and on the next Sitting Day you could ask questions by Private Notice of the responsible Minister about it.
Under Defence Regulation 104A, the important words in this paragraph (3) of the main Defence Regulation (a), are "any person acting on behalf of His Majesty." By virtue of Regulation 104A, "any person acting on behalf of His Majesty" becomes, any person acting on behalf of the Government, or of any Allied Power or of any associated authority. I hope that I have not given an extravagant explanation, when I say that it is possible at some port or airport where there are of necessity—and it is a very good thing very often—some Allied or associated authorities, you may find an Allied or friendly officer firmly believing that he has the right to take a squad of armed men on to the ship and proceed, to dismantle the wireless apparatus, and the master being convinced that he ought to do nothing of the sort—
§ Earl Winterton (Horsham and Worthing)
Is not the whole point of the contention which the hon. and learned Member has elaborated that, if this power is given, and must be given for reasons for which we cannot go into of a very secret character, it should be delegated by the British Government specifically to the foreign Government? He is not suggesting that the Allied Government should not have it, because there are certain circumstances in which they must have it. Is not the whole point that it should be properly delegated?
§ Mr. Pritt
I think the Noble Lord will see that I have already mentioned the main point. I am interested in finding some machinery whereby a challenge in this House can somehow or other be brought about. If the Noble Lord will wait another two or three minutes he will find what I am suggesting about this particular Regulation. I am sure he would be glad that I should say that you have to run a good many risks of that kind in war-time; people have to have power to move quickly. But when I come to suggest specific ways of putting Regulation 8 right, I am faced with some difficulty in that I do not know—and that it would not be right that I should know—the particular, cogent, reasons which have led the Government to extend this particular power. Of course, I can do a good deal of guessing but no more than that. It may be—and I am grateful to the Noble Lord for his suggestion—that it would be quite possible to devise some machinery whereby this power, instead of being conferred upon an Allied or associated military force directly by Regulation, should be conferred upon them by delegated power from the Government. For example, it should be conferred only by the Secretary of State. Then I feel, although I am not confident, that it would always be possible to challenge the Home Secretary in this House about the exercise of the power he had conceded. It may be that that would make a very substantial difference.
The only remedy we can ask for in this House is to have the whole thing annulled, but I have no desire to press this matter to a Division in a House which cannot have a great many Members present at the moment and which, through various unfortunate errors, has not been given proper time to prepare itself. I may say 1884 that I have done no lobbying of any description in connection with this matter; I am not interested in anything except getting it properly considered. It may be that at some stage the Minister will be able to say that the whole matter will be reconsidered, because the Government always have the advantage, in this particular procedure, that the Regulation goes on and if they promise to give it full consideration it does not thereupon lapse and leave them in a difficulty. I suggest to the House that it is undesirable that that sort of power should be exercisable side by side in one port by a British officer and in another port by an officer of an associated Power, that the British officer's conduct can be immediately challenged in this House, which, so long as it is not done vexatiously, is important and valuable, and that the other, as to whom we have no right to assume he will be more careful or diligent than the British officer, it will not be practicable to challenge in the House. Those of us who have from time to time to deal privately with the Foreign Office in relation to the conduct of some Governments, which had better not be named, necessarily found the matter one of delicacy and difficulty. It would be ungracious to say more than that, especially of the one or two cases when the Foreign Office at any rate did their best.
I have taken a little while over Regulation 8, and I hope I may be forgiven now if I take up another point, not at anything like the same length, on paragraph (12), which has to do with protected places. Those of us who have to do with labour problems know that by now practically every factory in the country is a protected place. I have no doubt that it is right that they should be. Paragraph (3) of Regulation 12 says:Where in pursuance of this Regulation, any person is granted permission to be in a protected place, that person shall, while acting under such permission, comply with such directions for regulating his conduct as may be given by the authority by whom the Order was made, or by, or on behalf of, the authority or person granting the permission.…and any person acting on behalf of His Majesty, and any person authorised in that behalf by the occupier of the premises….may detain any such person for the purpose of searching him.Further, under paragraph (4),If any person is in a protected place in contravention of the Regulation, or,"—1885 this is more important—while in such a place, fails to comply with any direction given under this Regulation, then.…he may be removed from the place by any constable, any person acting on behalf of His Majesty, or any person authorised in that behalf by the occupier of the premises.An ordinary citizen reading that as being something for the security of the realm would not think there was any trouble about it, but in actual fact we know, because there has been a certain amount of trouble about this Regulation from time to time, that some enthusiastic employers have used these powers as a means of carrying on a trade dispute. There was one employer—he was put right in the House very quickly, which shows the importance of it—who thought the way to deal with a trade dispute was to call out the Home Guard and have people, who were in a shop where he thought they ought not to be, removed by their own fellow workers with fixed bayonets. What may happen—and this is a bit against the workman—is that an employer may say to a workman who is late, "The next time you are half an hour late for your work you will be sent home." The occasion may arise and the employer may order the workman to go home, and the workman, believing the instruction to be foolish or high-handed, may say, rightly or wrongly, "I will not go home." There are employers in this country who are a bit high-handed. If the employer who some while ago called in the Home Guard in a situation like that has not learned his lesson, or if he is on holiday and his nephew has not learned his lesson, and calls in a squad of armed soldiers from an Allied Force, and they come in and march a Worker out, it will take all the efforts of all the trade union officials for 16 miles around to prevent a strike, because some of the workmen will be angry. Once again, as the noble Lord pointed out and as I have pointed out, the really important thing is that in one case there is no effective challenge and in the other case there is a very effective challenge indeed, as has been actually demonstrated in the House.
§ Mr. Woodburn
The hon. and learned Gentleman's contention is that an Allied or Associated Power would have no responsibility to this House. To that extent I agree with him; but in the instance he has given of the manager of a 1886 factory, the manager of the factory would not be responsible to the foreign Power but would be responsible to a Minister, and if he took action, whatever the people assisting him might do, he would be responsible under this Regulation.
§ Mr. Pritt
I doubt whether that is true in a situation of the sort I have mentioned. The Minister of Labour or the Home Secretary would be very anxious to help, but the correct answer for either of them to make in the House would be, "I am not responsible for the management of Messrs. So-and-So's factory. The Minister of Aircraft Production has not yet taken over the shares in it; it is still a private concern. I can exercise an influence, but I am not responsible for the conduct of the manager." I think that would be the real answer. Far and away the best remedy is to say that such-powers shall be delegated by the British Minister and not conferred direct by Regulations. With regard to Regulation 8, I wanted to suggest that possibly if power were given to any specific Allied authority in relation only to the ships or aircraft of its own flag, that would be a very good compromise.
Regulation 13 extends to various Allied soldiers on duty the right to remove people from protected areas, which is a different thing from protected places. No one would seriously complain of that, though it is much better to have it done in a way which enables possible abuse of it to be considered in the House. I think it is worth while having a look at Regulation 24, which gives the Secretary of State power to provide by Order prohibiting or regulating the display of lights. There is a good deal with regard to noise and light which is of direct importance, and no one wants to interfere in it very much, but in paragraph (2) it says:If any Order made under this Regulation is contravened, or not complied with, in the case of any premises, vehicle or vessel, any constable or member of His Majesty's Forces may enter the premises or board the vehicle or vessel and take in relation thereto any such steps as may be reasonable and necessary to enforce the Order.That seems to be the sort of thing to which one would not be likely to take any objection, but it struck me that it was something which, being used mainly in emergency and in defence operations, it would be useful to consider by way of contrast, because it is a fairly strong power which, nevertheless, everyone 1887 would agree should be granted. One result that I discovered from a study of these Regulations is that if you drive past what is familiarly called a "traffic cop" and he is a military traffic cop, whether British or foreign, you may be sentenced to death, because it amounts to "forcing a military strong point." I imagine that it would not often be imposed in unsuitable cases, but I warn any Members who get impatient with "traffic cops" that it may be better to select a civilian one.
I now come to consider the second class, and that, of course, is one to which less objection is taken, because, while they are very serious powers, they are only to be conferred upon Allied Powers and associated authorities if the Minister thinks fit. Paragraph (4) of Defence Regulation 104A says:The Secretary of State or the Admiralty-may by Order, subject to such limitations and conditions as may be specified in the Order"—Then there are three fields in which they may do it. The first is that he may authorise members of the naval, military and air force of any Allied Power or associated authority to exercise any of the powers exercisable under Regulations 18D and 88c. Regulation 18D, which has nothing to do with 18B, confers very wide powers on, among other people, members of His Majesty's Forces to arrest people on suspicion and to detain them. As the Regulation has hitherto stood, it really provided full safeguards by limiting the detention to a period of 24 hours or in certain exceptional cases 48 hours, and after that you had either to let them go or prosecute them before the civil power. It seems to me to be an admirable power although likely to be occasionally abused. I met one case of bad abuse which was challengeable in this House. It is thought right that the Government Department should have express authority to extend that power in suitable cases, and if, as a result of that the exercise of it may be challenged by challenging the Secretary of State who extended the power, I think that the danger under 18D will be limited to this relatively narrow danger. We must remember that all trouble arises under Regulations not from people who enforce them properly, but from people who abuse them and enforce them vexatiously. Therefore, it will always be possible, and a little more likely with people of other nations who are not 1888 accustomed to our legal procedure, that when somebody is lawfully arrested and detained the detention may last for a considerable time, say in the detention cells of an Allied base or headquarters, considerably longer than the 24 hours, before it is found out and challenged. I feel that that is the sort of risk that has to be taken in war-time, but as long as we have the right to challenge it in this House and, of course, the right to challenge it in the court if you have the facts, the witnesses, and plenty of money, which is all we have whether it is a British authority or an Allied authority, it is something that has to be put up with.
Regulation 47A is one that I ought to mention because, as a matter of practice, serious practical difficulties may arise; but again it is only a minor complaint because the power will only be given if the Secretary of State thinks it ought to be given. The first paragraph of 47A deals with persons engaged to serve on board any ship to which the Regulation applies, and it says that they shall not refuse to sail, or desert, or be absent, and so on. That is a very necessary provision which no doubt in certain circumstances many people may be tempted to disobey. The Minister will no doubt agree that "Any ship to which this Regulation applies" means in practice every ocean-going ship. The Regulation about which I am worrying is in paragraph (3) with which paragraph (4) has to be read. It says:Where an authorised officer has reason to believe that any person has, in the United Kingdom, contravened the provisions of paragraph (1) of this Regulation, that person may be conveyed on board his ship by or under the direction of that officer.I daresay it would not happen in Wolverhampton, which is not a port, but it must be a very common thing in Cardiff that certain authorised officers find a man who, they are told, ought to be on such and such a ship sailing on some journey, that the ship is due to sail and that the man is obviously trying to dodge sailing. They take him on board, the ship sails, and there he goes. But if they put the wrong man on the ship, or put the right man on the wrong ship, it is a very serious matter, because it is difficult for him to challenge their action until after the ship has been torpedoed or gets safely to the end of her journey. The authorised officials are defined as: 1889the master of the ship, any mate of the ship, the person having the management of the ship, any constable, any commissioned officer in His Majesty's forces and any superintendent within the meaning of the Merchant Shipping Actand the Secretary of State is entitled to extend the power to:commissioned officers in the Naval, Military or Air Forces of any other Power and persons acting under the orders of any such officers.The real difficulty is the fact that when you come to try to challenge any action the man is on the high seas, and you cannot do very much about it. I cannot help thinking that the House might be disposed to say that, subject to the knowledge which the Government must possess and which we must allow them to possess, and to some extent to keep to themselves, this is a sufficiently drastic and serious thing for it really to be important to keep it in British hands, so that it can be challenged, and the Government ought not to be allowed to keep this part of the Regulation unless they can show a very strong case indeed for it.
Regulation 48 is actually a very much stronger power, because it gives power to fire at aircraft flying over this country in certain circumstances. After all, our Allies and Associated Powers are here in order that they may fire, and I do not want to suggest for a moment that there should be any restriction upon what any Secretary of State thinks they ought to be allowed to do about firing on aircraft. With regard to the power to grant search warrants, 88A is the only Regulation which deals with that, and it is on page 276. My recollection is that there was a good deal of anxiety and discussion about giving this power as widely as it was drawn when it was first given, but as it originally stood it gave a justice of the peace, when there was reasonable grounds for suspecting that any of the offences specified in the Second Schedule to the Regulation had been committed, to grant search warrants. I am not challenging the width of that as it authorisesany constable or any member of His Majesty's Forces together with any other persons named in the warrantto enter and search, but the Secretary of State is to be allowed to extend that power to officers of the armed forces of these various other Powers. Constitutionally, of course, it ought to shock people greatly, because if there is anything that any coun- 1890 try keeps strictly to itself it is the actual executive powers of judicial and quasi-judicial officers. I am not shocked or worrying about that in the least, but I feel just a little anxiety. I feel that if you have a situation which is sufficiently calm and peaceful to enable you to resort to a justice of the peace and ask him for a search warrant you might just as well grant the search warrant to persons who are directly responsible to the British Crown, because they are servants of the British Crown, and who understand, for better or worse, the standards which we enforce in this country. But the Government may be able to tell me that there are circumstances in which premises in the occupation of Allied Forces are very much better searched by those Allied Forces, and there may be some reason why they should be covered by the warrant of a British justice. I would like an explanation about that too.
I will not say that this is the dullest speech I have ever made in this House, because I do not know how dull I have been in the past, and I never shall know, because those are things which you cannot judge objectively. But I could not hope to make anything but a dull speech on this matter. In this case there is something very serious to be considered. What I would like best is to know from the Minister or Ministers concerned that really new consideration will be given to this matter at once. All I can do is to move the Motion.
§ The Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department (Mr. Peake)
I am sure that the hon. and learned Gentleman will acquit me of any discourtesy for not being here at the commencement of his speech and finding myself under the handicap of having to reply to his very learned and erudite speech without much opportunity of preparing and reading my brief. Since I am sure that the hon. and learned Member has already stated the fact that at five minutes before the hour fixed for the interruption of Business he told me he hoped to raise the matter this day week, I need merely add that I understand that, as a result of circumstances over which neither he nor I have any special control, he would have found himself out of time if he had deferred his Prayer until then.
1891 The hon. and learned Member has dealt with the application of Defence Regulation 104A, and to a number of details in the various Regulations which have become law in the past. It seemed to me that on occasion his criticism was directed not so much to the application of the powers given by Defence Regulation 104A to Allied nationals as to a criticism of the material contained in the original Defence Regulations which form part of our war-time code.
§ Mr. Peake
That was rather how I interpreted some of the remarks of the hon. and learned Gentleman. Defence Regulation 104A confers certain powers in certain circumstances upon members of the Allied Forces. I think we must bear in mind that the Allied Forces are sharing the duties and responsibilities of the British Forces in the United Kingdom, and it is clear that, for various purposes, their position needs to be assimilated to that of the British Forces and other persons in His Majesty's service. This has been done by the new Regulation to which the hon. and learned Member has drawn attention. The existing provisions in Defence Regulations relating to persons in His Majesty's Forces are of three kinds. There are provisions which make it an offence to interfere with or to hinder the work of His Majesty's servants in the exercise of their duties. In the second place, there are provisions giving members of His Majesty's Forces or persons in His Majesty's service certain immunities from legal obligations or prohibitions. In the third place, there are provisions conferring upon members of His Majesty's Forces powers of arrest, entry and search. Until Defence Regulation 104A came into operation the position was anomalous as between members of His Majesty's Forces and members of the Allied Forces. For example, it was an offence to endeavour to seduce from their duty persons in His Majesty's service, but not an offence to endeavour to seduce from their duty the servants of an Allied Government. It was an offence, to take another example, to sabotage apparatus used in His Majesty's Forces, but this did not extend to apparatus used in the service of the Allied Governments. Again, servants of His Majesty and members of the British Forces are properly exempt from many of the re- 1892 quirements or prohibitions which apply to members of the public generally, and it is clearly right that members of the Allied Forces should be put into a similar position.
In order to avoid complicated and piecemeal adaptation of all the existing Regulations into which the words "members of His Majesty's Forces or persons in the service of His Majesty" are introduced, the position has been met as far as possible by a general provision that with certain exceptions these expressions should, wherever they occur, be interpreted as including members of Allied Forces and servants of Allied Governments. There are, however, very special cases, such as the powers of arrest to which my hon. and learned Friend has referred, in Defence Regulation 18D and Defence Regulation 88c, where no general power is conferred upon members of the Allied Forces, but it needs a specific Order by one of His Majesty's Secretaries of State under paragraph (4) of the Regulation before such powers can be exercised. The House will understand without my going into a lot of unnecessary detail that, for example, in the event of invasion there may be specified areas where Allied Forces are engaged and where, let us say, the airfields are operated by members of Allied Air Forces. Under those circumstances I think the whole House would agree that it would be reasonable for a Secretary of State to confer powers of arrest upon members of Allied Forces so that they could deal with persons in civilian clothing who might attempt to interfere with the operations. Then there are also a number of regulations, which my hon. and learned Friend has mentioned, contained in Part III of the Regulations dealing with shipping. I think he mentioned Defence Regulation 47A and Defence Regulation 48. There, again, the powers conferred can only be exercised, as I understand it, after a Secretary of State has made a special Order, and upon these shipping matters, if my hon. and learned Friend needs further information, I shall have to ask my hon. Friend the Joint Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of War Transport to say something.
In another category are various powers of requisitioning under Part IV of the Defence Regulations which are specifically excluded from being exercised 1893 by members of the Allied Forces under Defence Regulation 104A. There remain certain defence regulations in Parts I, II and V which confer on members of His Majesty's Forces, or persons acting on behalf of His Majesty, certain limited power of entry, search, etc. These powers are being conferred on Allied Forces. The hon. and learned Member drew attention to one contained in Defence Regulation 8 and another in Defence Regulation 12, and another, I think, in Defence Regulation 24 dealing with the extinction of lights.
§ Mr. Peake
It should be emphasised that these powers stand on a different footing from the powers of arrest without warrant under Defence Regulation 88c and Defence Regulation 18D, since they relate only to particular places or areas—for example, the power of removing trespassers from a protected place or area—and they are exercisable only for specific purposes—for example, the power of entry under Defence Regulation 24, to extinguish a light. It is always possible that occasions may arise where immediate action is necessary and the only person available to act is a member of an Allied Force. It has been made absolutely clear to the Allied Governments that these powers are exercisable only for special purposes or in special circumstances, and that as a general rule they should not be used except after consultation with the appropriate British authorities.
My hon. and learned Friend made a point of some importance when he said that no Minister would be answerable in this House if there was any abuse of any of these Regulations. But I would draw attention to analogous powers of a very far-reaching character which we have conferred on Allied Governments—in Acts which were carried through this House after a great deal of criticism, such as the Maritime Courts Act and the Allied Forces Act, even to the extent of giving Allied Governments jurisdiction over their own subjects within British territory. When the hon. and learned Gentleman says that there is no Minister directly responsible in these matters, I can only say that the Foreign Secretary would be at any rate the appropriate Minister to whom Questions should be put, and that 1894 if grave abuse does occur, the Foreign Secretary would take the matter up through the ordinary diplomatic channels. I apologise once more for not having been here at the commencement of my hon. and learned Friend's speech, and also for not having given to this matter the very close study which it deserved, in advance of his making his speech. I can only say that it is owing to lack of notice, and I undertake that everything he has said will be most closely examined in the Departments concerned, to see whether any of the points were overlooked during the very prolonged discussions which took place before this Regulation was put forward.
§ Mr. Pritt
I think I am entitled to reply. First, I suggest that it is a little unsatisfactory to say of a thing like Defence Regulation 8 that it applies only to particular places and only for the purpose of removing trespassers. The particular places to which it applies are places where about 12,000,000 people are employed every day. As for removing trespassers, it gives power to remove all those who they say, rightly or wrongly, ought not to be there, including, for instance, a workman whom they may tell to leave. I am comforted to some extent by the statement that the Allied Powers have been asked not to use these powers except after consultation. With regard to analogous powers conferred by Act of Parliament, I know my right hon. Friend will not mind my saying that that is the sort of thing a lawyer would say. To a lawyer it does appear a sort of analogy to allow maritime courts and conscription and so forth to be carried on by Allied Powers in this country; but when I try not to be a lawyer, but to look at it with a little common sense, I see all the difference in the world between allowing Dutch courts to try Dutchmen and Dutch military authorities to recruit Dutchmen—which need not worry English people very much—and the possibility of taking Dutch forces into a British factory among British workers, which does worry me very much. It is not an analogy. In practice, we can apply to the Foreign Office. That is true. I have done it. I do not want to say anything against the Secretary of State because he was very good. He said he could not do anything, but he did it, which is the right and proper technique in these matters. It is not, of course, nearly as satisfactory as the proper right 1895 to challenge in this House. I recognise the difficulties the Minister has had in dealing with a very technical matter at short notice and do not complain in the least of anything that he has not dealt with or of his speech at all, but I would be happier if he told me that the whole matter would be reconsidered. But he has said that what I have said will be given consideration and in these circum- 1896 stances, I am justified in offering him the little courtesy of not moving the Motion and letting it be called down, but of asking the leave of the House to withdraw it,
§ Motion, by leave, withdrawn.
§ It being after the hour appointed for the Adjournment of the House, Mr. SPEAKER adjourned the House without Question put, pursuant to the Standing Order.