Amendment proposed: In page 3, line 5, to leave out from "words", to the end of line 9, and to insert:
following after the word ' upon,' shall be omitted and there shall be inserted the words the Secretary General and all Assistant Secretaries General of the United Nations in respect of themselves, their spouses and minor children, the privileges and immunities accorded to an envoy of a foreign sovereign power accredited to His Majesty, and upon any persons who are representatives of a member Government to the General Assembly or any Council or other organisation of the United Nations and to conferences convened by the United Nations while exercising their functions and during their journey to and from the place of meeting, the privileges and immunities accorded to an envoy of a foreign sovereign accredited to His Majesty other than
the right to claim exemption from customs duties on goods imported (otherwise than as part of their personal luggage, or from excise duties or from taxes or rates':" —[Mr. Manningham-Buller.]
§ Question again proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part Of the Schedule."
§ 7.32 p.m.
§ Mr. Harold Macmillan (Bromley)
When this Debate was interrupted last Friday afternoon, in its agreeable flow through that summer day, we had reached a series of Amendments which, for the convenience of the Committee, you, Major Milner, agreed should be discussed as a whole. I had begun, following my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Daventry (Mr. Manningham-Buller) to explain in further detail, and in reply to the Minister in charge of the Bill, why we still hoped that, in the friendly atmosphere which he had created in earlier stages, he would see his way to accept our point of view. I would pay a tribute to the way in which he has met us over other Amendments, and to the assurances that he gave us on two important points which allowed us to withdraw our Amendments. If he could not meet us in all respects, at any rate he adopted a conciliatory attitude, and realised the very large issues which were raised, quite rightly, by my hon. Friends on this side of the Committee. We have now passed from the treatment of organisations to the treatment of individuals. I venture to repeat what I said then in this respect. I think the Minister will agree with me that, in granting privileges to individuals, we need to exercise even greater care and scrutiny than in granting them to organisations.
This is an age of privilege. Privilege has never been so valued as in these times. Before, privilege was a courtesy or a convenience. It is now a high and valued perquisite. In an age of high taxation, the value of the modern privileges of untaxed salaries and of free allowances has reached almost astronomical figures, calculated in gross values. The free flat, the free motor car, the freedom from taxation and from rates; all those things have become immensely valuable properties. Therefore, we ought to be careful, in granting these privileges, to make sure that we are doing the right thing. An untaxed bottle of gin is worth a king's ransom today. It used to be 1301 said that there was one law for the rich and one for the poor. I do not think that was ever true in our polity; but let us be careful that there is not one law for the commissar and one law for the people.
Therefore, and I am sure the right hon. Gentleman will agree with me, we approach the question of privileges granted to individuals with the idea of careful scrutiny. We have not, of course, gone so far as to use such strong words as were used to the right hon. Gentleman's predecessors by the last Opposition. I do not know where the Minister of Health has been during these Debates. I do wish he would come and join in at some of his old battles. I have amused and interested myself in looking up his speeches. The violent opposition which he gave in 1944 to this proposal should be compared with the temperate, friendly and accommodating attitude which my hon. Friends and myself have tried to take in order to meet the Minister's difficulties.
Broadly speaking, we feel that much has happened since the Bill of 1944 was introduced and withdrawn by the right hon. Gentleman's predecessor, and reintroduced. U.N.O. has met and the Convention has been made. It is our purpose, if we can, to persuade Ministers that the Bill should carry out the Convention and that it should neither go less far nor farther than the Convention in granting privileges to individuals. The purpose of our Amendments, taken as a whole, is to secure that the Convention should be embodied in the Act of Parliament. That is our purpose. There are one or two points in which. curiously enough, the Bill does not go so far as the Convention, does not carry out the Convention. If the right hon. Gentleman will look at Section 13 of the Convention on page 4, I think he will find, so far as can see, that the point has not been dealt with at all in the Bill. That is our view. Section 13 deals with the incidence of taxation in regard to residence, but that is not covered in the Bill. Curiously enough in this respect, the Bill falls short of the Convention. It is for that reason that I have inserted an Amendment in this sequence of Amendments. It is the second part of our Amendment to Schedule 1, in page 3, line 21, after the word "Kingdom" to insert: 1302and in determining the usual place of abode regard shall not be had to residence for the purpose of discharging any official duty. And further provided that the Order in Council shall not confer.The purpose of it is to deal with this omission, as we think it is. It shows how scrupulously correct we are in taking the line that we wish to carry out the Convention. That is the point where the Bill has failed wholly to cover the Convention. The purpose of the Amendments is to go a little wider than the Bill in order that the Bill may embrace something which was agreed on in the Convention.
In many other respects the Bill goes beyond the Convention. First of all, the only people which the Convention recommends should be covered with full diplomatic privilege are those mentioned in Section 19 of the Convention, that is To say, the Secretary-General and all assistant secretaries-general, their spouses, their minor children and so forth. That was laid down in the Convention. The all goes further than that and allows this diplomatic privilege to be given to another and wider field. The Bill deals with organisations other than U.N.O. We have had a very strong assurance from the Minister on that point, which we accept; but we point out that the Bill, when it comes to individuals, allows the higher officers of those organisations other. than U.N.O. organisations, such as the I.L.O., let us say, or the European Coal Commission, to be given full diplomatic privileges.
Moreover, the experts on those various commissions come under the Bill and can be given—I do not say will be—by Order in Council full diplomatic privileges, whereas the Convention says that they shall be given such privileges and immunities as are necessary to carry out their functions. That is a different point. The official representatives of member Governments are given full diplomatic privileges all the time that they are representatives, whether they are actually on duty or not. The Convention requires only that they should be given those privileges if they arise out of their duties. In other words, representatives of member Governments are only to have privileges in England if they are here on duty, and not if they are here for a holiday. In that respect, the Bill goes beyond the Convention.
1303 Next, the right hon. Gentleman criticised the Amendments because he said it was very difficult—I think it is true, as we have found from our own experience — so to draw the terms of a Bill as to carry out precisely in legal language all that is required in the Convention. I think I may venture to say that I believe his criticisms are not quite correct. He said that in one respect the Bill is going further than the Convention. He said that Section 11 only gave in (a)immunity from personal arrest or detention, from seizure of personal baggage."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 12th July, 1946; Vol. 425. c. 826.]The right hon. Gentleman said that our Amendment went further. I think he has failed to observe that Section 11 of the Convention says, after setting out in paragraphs (a) to (f) the, precise advantages which would be given, goes on in paragraph (g) to add this:Such other privileges, immunities and facilities not inconsistent with the foregoing as diplomatic envoys enjoy.Therefore, I think that our Amendments properly cover Section 11 (a) to (g) of the Convention. Then the right hon. Gentleman went on to give an example of what he called the reverse of being too broad. He said that we were too narrow. He failed to see the whole sequence of these Amendments, and overlooked our Amendment to the First Schedule, page 3, line 21, which, taken in conjunction with the Amendment which we are now discussing, will have the effect that is required. We have included in our Amendment to page 3, line 21, Section 13, which was altogether forgotten and omitted from the Bill. Broadly speaking, the purpose of our Amendments taken as a whole is to carry out the Convention. To adapt an old political slogan, it is "The Convention, the whole Convention, and nothing but the Convention." We take our stand on that and rebut absolutely the attempt which the right hon. Gentleman made to say that because we opposed, on insufficient explanation from the Government, the Second Reading of this Bill we were in any way operating against U.N.O. We opposed it with far less vigour, and much more sensibly, than the right hon. Gentleman's friends and colleagues opposed the earlier Measure a year ago.
The next line of defence which the Minister had was to say, "Well, of 1304 course, these are maximum powers. You must let me go a little beyond the Convention. I will not operate these maximum powers. I only have the right to make Orders." I am always doubtful about Governments asking for powers and saying that they do not propose to use them. It is always a very dangerous form of legislation. Why act by Order in Council at all? The Minister of Health had some very potent observations to make on this subject. He said:Why should it be necessary that there should be an Order in Council If it is proposed to confer immunity upon certain persons, or a certain category of persons, why cannot that be included in the Schedule to the Bill? Why should we have to wait for an Order in Council? When an Order in Council comes into force we cannot amend it."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 27th September, 1944; Vol. 403, c. 366.]and so forth. We have not gone so far as that. Nevertheless, I feel that the argument that one should take powers which one does not propose to use is always very dangerous and one which we are entitled, and have the duty, to examine. I am quite certain that if and when the happy moment comes that hon. Gentlemen opposite find themselves on these benches, this kind of Bill will be scrutinised by them with care, not necessarily of the violent and extravagant nature of the Minister of Health and his friends, but with that care which will come from experience and following their traditional duties. Then the right hon. Gentleman said that the number of immunities which will be granted would be very few. He made great play of that and read out how few they would be—practically none; hardly anybody at all. That is the old story of the housemaid's baby—it is only a little one. The thing is either right or wrong, and the fact that few people will get these advantages is not the point.
§ Mr. Macmillan
But the right hon. Gentleman made great play of that. The point is, is it a good thing or a bad thing? It is a good thing to carry out the Convention. On that we are absolutely agreed. I must make some reference to what I thought was a bitter and rather uncalled for attack which the right hon. Gentleman made on my hon. Friend the Member for the Scottish Universities (Sir 1305 J. Boyd Orr). The hon. Member for the Scottish Universities is a very old friend of mine, and I am proud to think that I was instrumental in making well known some of his earlier writings. I was astonished at the attack which the right hon. Gentleman thought fit to make upon him. In his defence and in trying to prove how few of these officials would ever come to England or to Scotland, he said:The director of the Food and Agricultural Organisation, the hon. Member for the Scottish Universities (Sir J. Boyd Orr), might, conceivably, reside in this country, but in fact he resides in the United States, and there is every reason to believe that he will continue to do so, … —[OFFICIAL REPORT, 12th July, 1946; Vol. 425, C. 825.]I had the good or ill fortune to reside abroad during a period of the war, but I should have been very angry if the Prime Minister had said that the right hon. Member for Stockton-on-Tees, as I was then, has gone to Algiers and is never likely to return.
§ 7.45 p.m.
§ Mr. Noel-Baker
I am sorry to interrupt the right hon. Gentleman when he is enjoying himself, but the point is that so long as the hon. Member for the Scottish Universities (Sir J. Boyd Orr) remains the director, he must be at the seat of the Food and Agricultural Organisation. It is extremely improbable that the seat of that Organisation will be in this country.
§ Mr. Macmillan
The problem of how the hon. Member for the Scottish Universities is to draw his Parliamentary salary, how it is to be taxed, and which part is privileged and which is not is more inscrutable than before. If I were the hon. Gentleman, on reading this I should be very much annoyed to be told that as far as the Government knew the hon. Member for the Scottish Universities had no intention of ever carrying out his duties in this House.
I have tried to cover the points upon which we are at difference and since the right hon. Gentleman has made so soon a recovery from the shock of the Second Reading— he has shown great good will during the most recent stages of the Bill—I am going to put a proposition to him which I hope he will agree to. This series of Amendments is intended to carry out the Convention. The right hon. Gentleman argued the other day that they contained mistakes and legal 1306 errors. We have had fairly good advice on them and believe them to be sound, but if they require some minor amendment, the Government with all its legal advice—which it is entitled to receive but scarcely ever does receive on the Floor of the House— no doubt could think of better words. Perhaps the right hon. Gentleman would give us an undertaking that between now and the Report stage he would try to redraft the Bill in these particulars, either by accepting our Amendments or by re-embodying them in a new form so as carry out the Convention and nothing more, so as to give these privileges only to those people agreed upon in the Convention. We have met the right hon. Gentleman very well on the subject of the organisations because he gave us a pledge, if we withdrew our Amendment, that if it were found that the international court required some more privileges he would bring in a one-Clause Bill and not operate by Order in Council.
I know the attraction of privilege. We who belong to the ender-privileged classes realise how terrible is the attraction of privilege and how it grows upon those in office. But I do not want to join issue to get an agreement. The purpose of our Amendments is to embody the Convention in the Bill and not to permission to the Government to make Orders in Council granting privileges to persons beyond the Convention. Perhaps the Minister would look at them as a whole. After all, his predecessor had to take back the Bill and redraft it to meet the demands of the House of Commons. If the right hon. Gentleman would agree to redraft the Bill to carry out the Convention, I and my hon. Friends would be happy to agree that the further stages of the Bill in those considerations should be carried without more ado as an agreed Measure.
§ Mr. Wilson Harris (Cambridge University)
It is inevitable that a Measure of this kind should be discussed to some extent on party lines. That is the tradition of the House. However, the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Bromley (Mr. Macmillan) has gone very far towards obliterating party divisions on this subject and, speaking as one who is not associated with any party. I would like to join very cordially with him in the appeal he has made to the right hon. Gentleman 1307 the Minister of State. This Bill is entitled:An Act to amend the Diplomatic Privileges (Extension) Act, 1944, in connection with the general convention on privileges and immunities of the United Nations approx ed at the first General Assembly.…Any one who is devoted to exercises in stretching can, of course, stretch the words "in connection with" to whatever extent he likes, but I submit that the normal reading of that phrase is "in conformity with the general convention on privileges and immunities of the United Nations," and that a reasonable request to the House is that it should pass a Bill which would carry out the intentions of this Convention and that it is not reasonable to come and ask the House to do something considerably more than that.
I imagine that the members of the General Assembly who have passed this Convention undertook to go to their respective countries and draft legislation carrying out what the Convention said; just that, and, I imagine, in most cases nothing more. If I may venture to say so, I think the appeal made by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Bromley is most reasonable and, if it were acceded to, would result in the very best kind of settlement; one which would be agreed in all quarters of the House. Therefore, I would appeal to my right hon. Friend at any rate to consider very carefully between now and the next stage of the Bill, whether he cannot go very far, if not all the way, towards meeting the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Bromley.
§ Mr. Boyd-Carpenter (Kingston-upon-Thames)
I hope that the right hon. Gentleman will listen to the appeal made to him both by my right hon. Friend and by the junior Burgess for Cambridge University (Mr. Wilson Harris). It is now clear beyond argument that the series of Amendments which the Committee is now discussing give the right hon. Gentleman what he told the House on Second Reading he required, that is to say, the implementation of the Convention. I am perfectly certain that if the right hon. Gentleman looks at them closely, he cannot but come to that conclusion. There is only one point in support of what has been said which I would wish to urge 1308 upon the right hon. Gentleman, and that is this; if the right hon. Gentleman would be good enough to look at the Amendment to Schedule 1, page 3, line 21—to leave out from "proviso," to the end of line 23, and to insert:after the word 'taxes' there shall be inserted the words 'other than as permitted by Part III the Schedule hereto,' and after the word 'Kingdom' there shall be inserted the words 'and in determining the usual place of abode regard shall not be had to residence for the purpose of discharging any official duty. And further provided that the Order in Council shall not confer,'—he will see that it deals with the Bill's own Amendments to the proviso to Section 1(2) of the Act of 1944. The Committee will recollect that under that proviso in the Act of 1944 it was laid down as the result of discussion in the House, that these tax privileges should not apply to British subjects resident in the United Kingdom. If the right hon. Gentleman will accept this Amendment, that proviso will be modified to the extent of permitting to such persons freedom from taxation upon their official salaries. Surely that is all that the right hon. Gentleman needs? If he persists in the Bill as it stands, it will mean that British subjects resident in the United Kingdom will have the same fiscal privileges as foreign diplomats are accorded when they are accredited to the Court of St. James. It is illuminating to see what those privileges are. I can quote no less an authority than the right hon. Gentleman himself when he said in the last day's Debate that such people first of all received freedom from taxation upon British Government securities they held and, secondly, freedom from taxation upon all their overseas investments. I am referring to column 824, Vol. 425, of the OFFICIAL REPORT for 12th July last.
What justification is there for according to British subjects resident in the United Kingdom freedom from taxation both upon British Government securities and upon their overseas investments? No sort of argument has yet been adduced to support the proposition that unless they have that immunity, they cannot properly do their jobs under these international organisations and, indeed, it would be a somewhat surprising proposition to suggest that was so. If they get, as this Amendment gives them, freedom from national taxation upon their salaries, that is surely all that is needed for 1309 efficient working. I do not want to make any fantastic suggestions as to the possibilities of abuse under the provisions of the Bill as it stands, but surely it stands out that if you place a British subject in this country in the position that all his overseas investments are free from tax, you are subjecting that individual to a very great temptation to see to it that all his capital is invested in foreign securities, which I should have thought was a financial inducement wholly alien to the wishes of the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer. I hope, therefore, that the Minister of State will accept the proposition, so moderately and lucidly put, that those privileges are not necessary for the efficient working of these international organisations.
The only other point is this: As my right hon. Friend has pointed out, there is in the Bill no provision to implement Section 13 of the Convention; at least I have not been able to find it. I hope, if I am in error, that the right hon. Gentleman will point it out. That provision to include the important effect of Section 13 of the Convention is included in this Amendment, and I hope that the right hon. Gentleman will not only accept that as an earnest of the sincerity with which these Amendments are put forward to implement the Convention, but if he cannot see his way to accept it, that he will point out to the Committee where in the Bill is the implementation of Section 13 of the Convention. Because, if he has failed in his Bill to implement Section 13, then his Bill does not do what on the Second Reading he told the House it was intended to do, that is to say, to implement the Convention. No doubt through an oversight, it would appear that the right hon. Gentleman has failed to ask this Committee to carry out our international obligation, which I am perfectly certain he would be the last man to deny is a most serious matter. Having put those two points to the right hon. Gentleman, may I once again repeat the hope that he will accept the spirit in which these Amendments are put forward, and indicate his willingness to accept them?
§ Lieut. -Commander Joynson-Hicks (Chichester)
May I add a word in support of the plea made to the right hon. Gentleman, not because I think I can put it any more forcibly or reasonably 1310 or sympathetically than my right hon. Friend has done, but because I feel it is a question which cannot be too much emphasised? I am most deeply opposed to any legislation which takes powers that the Government do not immediately see the need to use. It may be some relief to hon. Gentlemen to know that I opposed that in the last Government. When I was a supporter of that Government, there were occasions—I think the right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary will recall one or two in which he was interested—when the Government sought to take powers more than they could immediately see the need to use.
§ The Secretary of State for the Home Department (Mr. Ede)
Surely that was the last Government but one?
§ 8.0 p.m.
§ Lieut.-Commander Joynson-Hicks
I appreciate the correction, and I am grateful for the reminder that we did have one happy interlude. But even on those occasions, during the period of the last Government but one, I opposed that as a matter of principle, and I shall continue to oppose it as a matter of principle whatever Government seek to take powers which they cannot see the immediate necessity for using, because I believe it is bad constitutionally, legally and morally. I do not think it is really material to the discussion we are having whether the actual number of people visualised is eight, as I think was estimated by the right hon. Gentleman, or seven, or nine, or any such number. The question is the principle involved. Wherever we are extending to people privileges over and above those which the mass of the community enjoy, we are by so much diminishing the privileges of the mass of the community. That is a thing which I believe we in this Committee should watch very carefully.
It has been mentioned before that it is strange to see the building up of a privileged body coming from the Government at the present time. What we on this side of the Committee want to see is the extension of privilege to all citizens of our own country. We do not want to see their privileges diminished in any way by the uprising of a privileged body whether members of our own community, British subjects, or foreign subjects coining into this country—a privileged body created by statute, and under statu 1311 tory powers. I hope we shall ensure that we do not go beyond the Convention to which we are pledged. I fully sympathise and agree with the Government in their desire to do all that is necessary, advisable and possible to make for a happy, successful and fluent working of U.N.O. We want it to do its work successfully. It is laid down in the Convention how far the organisation feels it necessary for Governments to go, in order to ensure working on smooth and satisfactory lines. Let us go so far, and do what the body itself invites us to do. But, I sincerely hope the right hon. Gentleman will see his way to limit our activities to the extent of the Convention, and not start a sort of competitive spirit between the countries of the world who are members of the United Nations organisation, in setting up privileged bodies who may visit the different capitals of the world in connection with U.N.O. business.
§ Mr. Noel-Baker
I was very much obliged for the words which fell from the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Bromley (Mr. H. Macmillan) at the beginning of his speech. In fact, he is much too kind to me, and much too modest himself. As other hon. Members have pointed out already, he played a great part in lowering the temperature of our Debates and enabling—if he will forgive me for saying so—his party to recover from the shock of the Second Reading and in saving them from the dangerous courses—dangerous to them—on which they had begun to embark. I speak with genuine gratitude on behalf of the Government, and I think of everyone in the Committee, when I say that we are grateful to him. He actually made the proposals on the basis of which earlier difficulties between the two sides of the Committee were solved, and if he can make a proposal which could solve our present difficuty, no one would be happier than I, or readier to accept it.
I still hope we may finish this Committee stage in a very short time, because, as the right hon. Gentleman pointed out, in spite of rather spirited interchanges in the earlier Debates, we have arrived at a common purpose. If I say that I find it very difficult to accept these Amendments—I shall explain why—if I think it would create difficulties for His 1312 Majesty's Government and for Parliament itself to accept them, and that it would make it very difficult for us to carry out the Convention, I still think that, thanks to the right hon. Gentleman, we are agreed on what we want to do. I hope I can show that we are not rejecting the Amendments out of any spirit of obstinacy or amour proper.
Before I deal with the Amendment, perhaps the Committee would permit a word about two points which arose in our last discussion which I ought to amplify a little. The first dealt with the application of this system of diplomatic immunities for international organisations to the Colonial Empire. In answer to an interjection from the right hon. Gentleman, I said that the system of these immunities would apply to the Colonial Empire and perhaps it may be that the phrasing in HANSARD is that the Bill would apply. I think the right hon. Gentleman knows that the Act of 1944 does not, in fact, apply to the Colonial Empire. It is made effective by legislation, by the local legislative bodies in different areas, and we intend the same thing in this Bill. When I answered, I meant that we intended to make the system effective throughout the Colonial Empire, and that we will do it, as it was done in the Act of 1944. Secondly, I was asked about the meaning of Clause 1 (2) of the Bill when the Schedule had been amended. The point was whether the practical effect of Orders in Council which had already been made under the 1944 Act, would be wider when this Bill was passed, because those existing Orders referred to parts of the Schedule of the 1944 Act, and by this Act those Schedules would have been altered. I said on Friday that this Subsection would have the effect of preventing such automatic widening. At the request of the hon. Member for Northwich (Mr. J. Foster) I said I would look further into the matter. I have done so in consultation with Parliamentary Counsel and now I wish to say that my previous statement is correct and the wordsThe foregoing Section shall not affect the operation of any Order in Council already mademean not only that the Order in Council will not be cancelled but also that its practical effect will not be altered.
§ Mr. H. Macmillan
The right hon. Gentleman said that he consulted with Parlia 1313 mentary Counsel. Does that mean the Legal Department of the Foreign Office, or the Law Officer of the Government—the Attorney-General?
§ Mr. Noel-Baker
It means the legal advisers to the Foreign Office, and also those who help to draft Bills, the department commonly known as that of Parliamentary Counsel, who have primary responsibility for drawing up legislation presented to the House.
I accept the right hon. Gentleman's view that we have a common purpose, and I accept his definition of it as he gave it in our last discussion. He said:All of us are ….anxious to carry out the Convention. The Convention was made, and we agreed with it. It is a good Convention. Our purpose is to see that it is carried out, not only because we put our name to it—which, after all, is a good reason for carrying out an international agreement—but because it is also wise if the United Nations Organisation and the associate organisations, so to speak, are to become efficient."—[OFFICIAL REPORT. Friday, 12th July, 1946: Vol. 425, c. 828.]I accept that. I can quote other sentences from the right hon. Gentleman with which I am in full agreement. We are agreed on the purpose, and I thought we were agreed—I still hope we are—on the substance of what is necessary to carry out the convention. We agree that we have got to give power to the Government, by legislation, to give to the United Nations organisation the privileges and immunities which the Convention provides for that organisation as an organisation. But we also agreed, on the basis of undertakings which I gave, and which I shall repeat in a precise form—I hope an agreed form—on the Report stage, that these privileges must also be given to other organisations besides the United Nations in the strict sense of the Councils, the Assembly and the Secretariat established by the Charter.
We must also give it to what are called the specialised agencies, the other bodies which we discussed at great length in earlier Debates. I think that after those Debates no one now resists the view that this Bill must apply to them as well as to the United Nations Organisation proper. I thought we were all agreed that in order that these organisations may be able to function, privileges and immunities must be given to four classes of persons who will do the actual work—representatives of Governments, who are dealt with in 1314 Article IV of the Convention; high officials, the subordinate officials——
§ Mr. Pickthorn (Cambridge University)
Are high officials Class 2? Is the right hon. Gentleman still dealing with the first class, or has he gone on to the second class?
§ Mr. Noel-Baker
The first class is representatives of Governments. They are dealt with in Article IV of the Convention. Then officials, firstly of higher rank, secondly of subordinate rank, who are dealt with together in Article V of the Convention. These are two more classes, if I may so phrase it; this is only my own classification for present purposes. Lastly, there are experts, members of Commissions of inquiry, etc., who are dealt with in Article VI of the Convention. I hope I understand that hon. Members opposite are agreed that people of those four categories, who are working not only for the United Nations proper, but also for the associated organisations. must all have the privileges that are granted under the Convention. I think that is plainly the intention of the Assembly, because the Resolution attached to the. Convention says that the immunities given to these other organisations shall be unified—the word in this Resolution is "unification," on page 8 of the Convention. I hope it is understood that in all these four categories there must be some people connected with all these organisations who must have these rights and privileges.
§ Mr. H. Macmillan
I think the right hon. Gentleman may have given the impression—I am quite sure by mistake —that these four classes of people were to have the same type of privileges. He referred to Article V, which deals with two sets of people, officials who will have the privileges of Section 18, and certain specified people who have extra privileges, which are laid down in Section 19. We are trying to ensure that the appropriate types of privilege shall be given to the appropriate types of these categories of persons. All we ask the right hon. Gentleman is to put them into the Bill.
§ 8.15 p.m.
§ Mr. Noel-Baker
The right hon. Gentleman is admirably making my argument for me. My whole point is that there must be different privileges under the Convention' for each of these four 1315 categories, and in fact the privileges for each of these categories in respect of each organisation may differ in some degree, we hope as little as possible. It is that which makes it so extraordinarily difficult to draft a Bill which will cover all these possible cases satisfactorily. As I have said, we want, as hon. Members opposite want, to have a Bill which will enable us to give the necessary privileges, and no more, to each of these four categories of people who are concerned with each of the international organisations under discussion.
§ Mr. Manningham-Buller (Daventry)
May I put one point? Under the Bill, Section 1 (2, b) of the principal Act, as amended, provides that these higher privileges should be conferred on such persons employed upon or on behalf of the organisations as may be so specified. That means that those persons and missions can get the full privileges of a diplomatic envoy. There is no recommendation to that effect in the Convention. so far as I can see.
§ Mr. Noel-Baker
No, they will not, until we make Orders in Council, which Parliament can annul, get the full privileges of a diplomatic envoy. In fact, it would be extraordinarily difficult to draft into the Bill what they will get. I will come to the point when I reach the Amendments which have been put down by the hon. and learned Member and his friends.
Hon. Members opposite—I am not trying to be patronising—have shown great industry and ingenuity in drawing up their Amendments, and have done an excellent piece of work. But with great respect, they do not carry out the Convention, and they get into a great number of difficulties of which I will give some illustrations. I say so after having examined the Amendments in the most sympathetic spirit and I say it in no carping spirit, but simply because it illustrates my contention that the matter is a great deal more difficult than they have thought. I should like nothing better than to accept these Amendments and finish with the Bill, if that would really solve the problem. I am asked, firstly, on the point raised today about Section 13 of the Convention, why is there no reference in the Bill to Section 1316 13 of the Convention, which deals with residence and taxation? I am advised it is because we need no legislation in this country to deal with that matter, because it embodies a principle already recognised by our Revenue law as applicable to people who have diplomatic status. Therefore, it does not need to be stated again here.
§ Mr. H. Macmillan
That would only apply, therefore, to people who have full diplomatic status, not to the minor type of privileges which the right hon. Gentleman says the Government are to give under Order in Council?
§ Mr. Noel-Baker
I think it is all right, but I will look into it and answer the right hon. Gentleman.
Let me come to another point. Take Section 1 (2, b) as hon. Members opposite seek to amend it. It is the point I have already dealt with. As it is here drafted, the powers could only be exercised by the Government with regard to the United Nations organisation and what, for the purpose of brevity, I might call the specialised agencies would be excluded. We have already agreed on an earlier Amendment that they should not be excluded.
§ Mr. Noel-Baker
If the right hon. Gentleman will look at it, he will see I am right, and that the effect of this Amendment would be to cut out other organisations which ought not to be cut out.
§ Mr. Manningham-Buller
Surely the right hon. Gentleman does not mean "cut out other organisations." It would cut out individuals of other organisations from getting privileges which are not recommended in the Convention.
§ Mr. Noel-Baker
It would cut out those who want to serve these organisations in various capacities, whether as delegates or as officials or as experts on Commissions. I thought I had established, a few minutes ago, that it was the clear intent of our early discussions that such persons were to have privileges. I am not trying to score a point. These Amendments, if accepted, would cut these people out and therefore would not produce the effect which hon. Members 1317 opposite desire. There is another point about the representatives to the Assembly and to other conferences. The proposers of the Amendments have left out Section 16 of the Convention which makes the expression "representatives" include members of delegations down to the rank of secretaries of delegations. That is a very important point. It was only put in Section 16 after long discussion, because it is required, but the Amendment which the hon. Gentlemen opposite have put forward, would not deal with that.
Thirdly, there is the point which I mentioned on Friday, and on which I was challenged, namely that, in dealing with the privileges of representatives to the Assembly or to conferences, the Amendment gives too much by way of immunity of suit to representatives in one way and too little in another. I said it would give too much to them in giving them full immunity from suit whereas Section 11 (a) of the Convention very deliberately and carefully refrained from giving full immunity. "Ah," say the hon. and learned Member for Daventry (Mr. Manningham-Buller) and the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Bromley, "but you have forgotten sub-paragraph (g) of the same Section which says that such other privileges, immunities, and so on, as diplomatic envoys enjoy shall be granted to these people." With respect, I think the right hon. Gentleman missed the effect of the words which he read, which came in the first line of that subparagraph:Such other privileges, immunities and facilities not inconsistent with the foregoing ….It is quite plain that full immunity from suit would be inconsistent with the foregoing——
§ Mr. Macmillanindicated dissent.
§ Mr. Noel-Baker
Sub-paragraph (a) would not appear at all unless it was intended to restrict the full immunity from suit. I do not think the contrary thesis could be maintained. Subparagraph (a) would be nonsense unless it was so intended and unless that was its real effect. On the other hand—and here I think hon. Members did not challenge what I said—it gives too little because, in its limitation of immunity to the period of representation only, it runs counter to Section 12 of the Convention. That is a point they have not met.
1318 In the fifth place, we come to the Amendment which deals with experts on temporary missions referred to in Article 6 of the Convention. The Amendment would put them into Part III of the Schedule, with subordinate officials. Of course, the Convention does not give full diplomatic rights to these experts in the sense that an envoy has them. That is true. That is part of the purpose, but it gives them what they require. It specifically defines what they require. It says, for example, that they must have immunity from personal arrest in the full sense. That is in Section 22 (a). In Section 22 (c) it says they must have inviolability for all papers and documents. If they were in the place where hon. Members opposite would put them—in the third part of the Schedule—if they were classed as subordinate officials, they would not have those two rights. Therefore, once more, the Amendment of hon. Members opposite would not carry out the intention of the Convention.
The sixth example is the proviso to Section 1 (2). The Amendment proposed by hon. Members opposite has been studied carefully. We find the matter not very easy to interpret but we think it certainly introduces to some extent the nationality criterion. We think in attempting to follow Section 13 of the Convention—the provision which excludes periods spent at conferences, and so forth, from being counted as residence where incidence of taxation, depends upon residence—it applies it, not merely to the representatives and the members, as it should properly be applied according to the Convention, but also to officials, whereas under the Convention this provision should not be applied to officials. I give one more illustration. In Part III of the Schedule further items are sought to be added by hon. Members opposite in their Amendments, sub-paragraphs (3), (4), (5) and (6) which correspond to subparagraphs (d), (e), (f) and (g) of Section 18 of the Convention. It was industrious and ingenious of hon. Members opposite to find out that those provisions had been omitted from the Bill. They were omitted for the reason that the obligations contained in that part of the Schedule can be carried out by executive action by His Majesty's Government. They do not require legislation and we did not put into the Bill something that was unnecessary.
1319 I said I would be very glad to accept an Amendment if the Amendment would do what hon. Members opposite want to do, and what we want to do, namely, to carry out the Convention. I ask them to reflect again on what I said when I was interrupted early in these present remarks, that in this Convention we have to take powers to give privileges to four different categories of people, the privileges which are necessary for each of those categories; that they have to be applied to a large number of different organisations and, while we hope there will be as great a unification as possible, it will not be the same for all the organisations. There will be some required for some of the organisations and not for others, and in each we want to reduce the privileges to the minimum.
We think the right plan was to adopt this form of legislation which, so to speak, sets a maximum; which gives us power to give to each organisation what is required for each of the four categories and no more —a maximum which we can and will cut down by our Orders in Council. I have explained why—and I am sure hon. Members opposite will agree, now they 'have heard my explanation—their Amendment really will not do. We have been thinking about this throughout these Debates because the point was made very early. We have come to the conclusion that it would not be reasonable to do it in the way hon. Members suggest. I have given pledge after pledge that we will not do more than the Convention requires us to do. As hon. Members opposite know, of course, they can annul any Order when it comes up. If it was annulled, we should have to amend the Order and, of course, we should do that. This system gives us the elasticity which may be needed; if in our dealings with these new organisations we make mistakes then without legislation the thing can quite easily be put right. I hope on the basis of what I have said, hon. Members opposite will agree that our method is right and I hope they will give us the Bill without further discussion or Division.
§ 8.30 p.m.
§ Mr. Manningham-Buller (Daventry)
I do not intend to take very long in dealing with the points which have been raised by the right hon. Gentleman but I intend, if I can, to follow him with regard to each point which he made. He started by 1320 saying it was very difficult to accept the Amendments. I was glad to hear him say he was not rejecting them out of any spirit of obstinacy or amour proper. If that be the case—and I, of course, accept his statement to that effect—I think on further consideration he will see that the defects which he has pointed out in these Amendments, so far as there is any substance in his criticism, are defects which can very easily be remedied by a matter of drafting.
I want to say a word about what the right hon. Gentleman said in regard to Clause 1 (2), which provides that:The foregoing subsection shall not affect the operation of any Order in Council.I must say that, when one looks, for instance, at the European Coal Organisation Order, which says, in terms, that the privileges which certain people have should be the privileges set out under Part II of the Act, it is true that the Order in Council under Clause 1 (2) will not be affected. That I can see straightaway, but I think that, when we take out the original Part II and put in a new Part II, it does entirely alter the effect of the European Coal Organisation Order in Council. I do not feel the confidence which the right hon. Gentleman has expressed about that He says he has been advised by Parliamentary counsel. I am sorry that there is no Law Officer present who could throw further light on the subject. I am not in the least confident on that matter, and I ask the right hon. Gentleman to say that he will look into it again between now and the Report stage—we often have Acts intended to mean one thing, meaning another when they get into the courts to make quite sure that the matter is properly covered.
The right hon. Gentleman went on to say that the Amendment does not carry out the Convention. Our criticism of the Bill is that it does not carry out the Convention, and that does strengthen the plea which my right hon. Friend put forward, and which I put forward when I said that I regarded the Convention as an excellent document. It lends force to the plea that the right hon. Gentleman should really have a shot at making this Bill conform to the Convention, which it does not do now, and which he admitted it did not do when he moved the Second Reading. If the right hon. Gentleman, between now and the Report stage, could 1321 put down an Amendment to make it conform to the Convention, I think he would find that the Bill would have a very speedy passage. The first thing which the right hon. Gentleman criticised was the provision of our Amendment for Section 13 of the Convention being covered. He made that his specific criticism, but he has told us tonight that no legislation was necessary because that protection is given to persons having full diplomatic status. That is very different from what he told us on the last occasion. On the last occasion, he criticised us—it will be found in column 827 of HANSARD— for not making any provision with regard to Section 13 of the Convention. We now get criticism from the right hon. Gentleman for not doing it in the first place, and he attacks our Amendment because we have done it. He really cannot have the best of both worlds, and there is not much substance in that criticism. If it is not necessary to put it in, we are content to leave it out, but he should not attack us on that account.
In regard to Clause 1 (1, b), the right hon. Gentleman said it would cut out the individuals of other organisations not connected with U.N.O. Now, this Bill was intended to carry out the Convention, and, as far as I can see from the terms in which it is drafted, we have, in fact, limited the higher categories of individuals who are given the full privileges of a diplomatic envoy in accordance with the recommendations of the Convention, whereas, in fact, the Amendment, as the right hon. Gentleman has admitted, with regard to experts on missions, goes very considerably beyond. As to the definition of "representatives" in Section 16 of the Convention, nothing would be easier than to put down an Amendment giving the definition set out in the Convention and including that in the Bill. Really, that is not any argument for not accepting the Amendments as they stand, if that definition Clause is put in.
Now I come to the right hon. Gentleman's interpretation of Section 11 of the Convention, and, with the greatest respect to him, I must say that his explanation of the interpretation of that Section is entirely wrong. Let us see what it does. It starts by giving membersimmunity from personal arrest or detention … inviolability for all papers and documents, … and also such other privi- 1322 leges, immunities and facilities not inconsistent with the foregoing.That "and also" in relation to Section 11 (g) means such other privileges additional to those mentioned before. It has been specified before that there is immunity from personal arrest. It is not inconsistent with that grant of immunity, to go on and say that a man can have any other privileges or immunities of a diplomatic envoy, and if the words are intended to mean what the right hon. Gentleman said, I do not think the Convention is so well expressed as I originally thought it was. I would ask the right hon. Gentleman to look at that again very carefully.
With regard to the experts, there is nothing in the Convention which says that any expert should have the full privileges of a diplomatic envoy. The Bill provides for that being given. There is really no reason why the Bill should not follow the form of the Convention very closely. The right hon. Gentleman has said that the extra words which we seek to add to Part III of the Schedule are unnecessary because the provisions contained in the Convention can be carried out by executive action. The giving of Press rates to the organisations could be carried out by executive action, and there is really no need, as a matter of law, for their insertion in the Bill, when the Post Office is run by the Government, and Cable and Wireless shortly will he. But there is an argument for putting in those words so that anyone who looks at the Act when this Bill has been passed can see precisely what the individual is getting, and what he is not.
For the sake of clarity in our Acts of Parliament, I ask the right hon. Gentleman to be precise and specific. Now that he is in a much more friendly mood on this matter, I beg him to say that he will give it still further consideration and see whether he cannot, between now and a later stage, put down Amendments bringing this Bill into line with the Convention —it goes far beyond it at the present lime —limiting the Government powers to what the Convention says they should be. If he will do that, he will find that the Bill will have a much smoother passage than it has had hitherto.
§ Mr. Wilson Harris
May I put one paint to the right hon. Gentleman, the answer to which will clarify my own mind and probably those of other hon. Members? 1323 There are obviously two questions which arise with regard to this matter. One is whether the Bill, as drafted, accurately carries out the intentions of the Convention. That is a matter of friendly discussion, and no insuperable difficulties arise in regard to it. The other is whether the Government are deliberately intending to go beyond the limit of the Convention. I understood from the right hon. Gentleman's earlier speeches that they did so intend. If I understood him aright this evening, he said he was asking for nothing that did not lie within the four corners of the Convention. If it is a matter of the whole Convention and nothing but the Convention, I can follow him al/ the way; if it is not, I cannot.
§ Mr. John Foster (Northwich)
I wish to detain the Committee for only a short time, in order to examine the reasons underlying this series of Amendments. As the hon. and learned Member for Daventry (Mr. Manningham-Buller) said, the object of these Amendments is to make the Bill more like the Convention. It is clear that the right hon. Gentleman opposite thought that, in some respects, these Amendments did not carry out the Convention to the full. Our submission is that the Bill put forward by the Government, and this Schedule in particular, does so even less. I would invite the right hon. Gentleman to examine the Bill again to see whether he cannot, by making some slight Amendments to our Amendments on the Report stage, bring the Bill into conformity with the Convention.
Why do we attach such importance to this matter? The reason lies very largely, I think, in the aspect of taxation. The effect of the Bill is to give power to the Government to bestow on a large category of foreigners, and on British subjects if they are appointed, the immunity from taxation which is accorded to an envoy. It has now been established, I think, that an envoy does not pay on his foreign income or on his investments in war loans. I am still surprised that an envoy is assessed on income not deducted at the source in England, as the right hon. Gentleman seemed to indicate, and if he is going to speak again I would like to hear him say so categorically. It does surprise me that the ambassador of Ruritania is assessed on income arising in England which is not deducted at the 1324 source. Of course, there is no power to make the ambassador pay it, but I would be very surprised if, in fact, such an assessment were made. The reason why it is objectionable to give a larger category of persons this diplomatic immunity—that is to say, larger than is provided in the Convention—is that our practice is wider than that of other countries. We give envoys an exemption in respect of their income larger, for instance, than is given in the United States of America. It would not be the time or the place to advocate a change in diplomatic practice as regards envoys, and as long as it is not changed, envoys in this country will enjoy exemption on their foreign private income which is not accorded to envoys in other countries.
As was said in the Debate on the Second Reading, a British diplomat in America will be assessed on his private income arising in America, even if it is invested in Government securities, and if that diplomat happens to have been resident in America before he was appointed, as was the case with many diplomats in the British Embassy in Washington during this war, he will be assessed on his foreign income as well. So than the objection to giving this wide immunity in this Bill is that we are putting into a category of persons who are exempted from Income Tax a much larger number of persons than is required by the Convention. As I see it, it is no answer for the Government to say. "We are going to keep it down to the Convention." I do not see how in an Order in Council they are going to exclude foreigners and British subjects from this wider immunity, when the Order in Council must necessarily give them the immunity of an envoy. This immunity from taxation is objectionable in the case of foreigners, but so long as it is restricted to the Secretary-General and the seven or eight assistant Secretaries-General there is not much harm in it. But to give it to this larger class of foreigners and British subjects seems even more objectionable.
It becomes even more objectionable when we have a British subject appointed to a post which carries the immunity of an envoy. For example, let us say that Sir John X is appointed to a post which carries the immunity of an envoy. He then has immunity from Income Tax and Surtax as regard two emoluments, which is right. He has immunity from taxation 1325 on his foreign income and on the income derived from Government investments.
The result is, of course, if he has any money in English shares, in English capital values, he would get an enormous advantage from the point of view of taxation by selling out from his other investments and investing in tax free War Loan. Of course, that is a practice which would inevitably be followed by somebody who wishes to take the less amount of tax, and on the face of it he would not be doing anything at all unethical
The object of this Amendment is to prevent an unnecessary class or persons getting immunity from taxation on their foreign income and on their income in Government stocks. It may well be that the right hon. Gentleman is prepared to give some undertaking as to that, and, as regards the class of persons other than those provided for by the Convention, who will have the immunity of taxation of an envoy, be prepared to give an undertaking and say that all the classes of persons who are not given that immunity by the Convention should have their taxation relief circumscribed to the extent that it only applies to their emoluments and their salaries. Of course, while that would not be satisfactory as an Amendment embodied in the Bill, it would at least go some way to showing us that the danger we apprehend from a somewhat large class of people being able to enjoy this immunity, would be then removed. It is all the more grave that officials of the United Nations organisation should enjoy this large immunity. In the case of diplomats there is a good deal of control, both by the Foreign Office and by the head of the mission. If a diplomat is abusing his diplomatic privilege, in the sense of getting an unnatural advantage from it by remission of taxation, it is always open to the Foregin Office to say, "We think he ought to pay this tax voluntarily." They are very reluctant to do that. It is also open to the head of the mission to say, in regard to any particular case of full envoy immunity, that a particular person should not take advantage of it, so as to not bring him in disfavour with the country to which he is accredited.
In the case of the United Nations organisation officials, the danger of giving this unnecessarily wide envoy im- 1326 munity—if I may call it that—is, as has been said, that high officials of the United Nations organisations are not accredited to any particular Government, and the immunity is not restricted to the time when they are discharging their functions. If the French Ambassador to Spain comes to England he is not given this immunity from taxation in this country; he naturally has to pay on his investment in Government securities. In the case of a United Nations organisation official, the immunity is world-wide. It is obviously right in the case of the high officials that the advantages of giving them this very wide immunity from taxation and currency restrictions should be applied to them, as was the Convention. We want to develop the idea of respect to a world State, and of the responsibilities of these high officials being absolutely untrammelled by pressure from national Governments. There I entirely agree with the right hon. Gentleman. But this Bill allows this very wide immunity to be extended to another class. It allows the Government to say that a whole category of lesser officials —but high officials under the definition of the Bill—may, in their wanderings throughout British territory, have this immunity from taxation which, by the Convention, is only intended to apply to the Secretary-General and Assistant-Secretaries-General. In my submission, the fact of being accredited, and the fact that in the case of envoys it is restricted to the country to which they are accredited, and does not apply to them while they are in other parts of the world, are very important factors in justifying the principle of the Convention in restricting it to this narrow class.
I only wanted to add one more word to support the hon. and learned Member for Daventry when he spoke about Section 11. It seems to me that on this legal point the right hon. Gentleman may not be correct when he says that Section 11 (a), which gives immunity from personal arrest, is meant to limit the immunity, and that Section 11 (g), which says that these representatives of members may enjoysuch other privileges … not inconsistent with the foregoing as diplomatic envoys enjoyis meant only to include immunities which do not cover the immunities granted under Section 11 (a). In other words, his argument is that because under Section 11 (a) 1327 immunity from personal arrest or detention is mentioned, it does not cover any wider immunity which includes that. I think that is very doubtful as a principle of construction. For instance, if one said that somebody was immune from chicken pox, that is not inconsistent with being immune from any disease. A piece of cake is not inconsistent with the whole cake, the smaller area is not inconsistent with the larger. The word "inconsistent" is not a proper word to describe the difference between a part and the whole. I do not know what Euclid would have said about that, but it seems to me that when the greater includes the less, the greater is not inconsistent with the less. However, that is a minor point, and it was only a point brought by the right hon. Gentleman against our Amendment. The general principle however remains: we are anxious, just as the right hon. Gentleman is anxious, that the Convention should be followed to the letter, and that the principle of immunity and privilege should be applied to these international officials to enable them properly to discharge their duties. But the Convention, in its wisdom, has said that the highest form of immunity is only necessary for a very limited class. I submit that the British Government should follow the Convention, so that foreign nations will see in the Bill that we are fulfilling our obligations under the Convention, but are not going one whit beyond them.
§ Mr. Pickthorn (Cambridge University)
I would ask the right hon. Gentleman to consider, if he will, a couple of rather general points, and one other which is more particular and, in a way, rather delicate and perhaps blunt at the same time. I will come to that last. The first two, I think, 'have already been indicated, though perhaps not quite so specifically as I understand them and wish the Committee to understand them. First of all, is the Bill, without the Amendments, calculated to give to the Government power to grant wider immunities, or immunities to wider classes of persons, than is necessitated by the Convention? It seems to me plainly that it is. If it is, I would invite the right hon. Gentleman to say whether he ought not to offer so to amend the Bill as to avoid that disparity. I would suggest to him that it is not a sufficient answer to say that the Amendments put down by 1328 the Opposition do not exactly meet that demand. That may be so; but even if that is so, upon the assumption which I have made, the Bill, as drafted, is going to give the Government power to grant wider immunities than are necessitated by the Convention. Upon that, I do think that the Government ought to consider whether this is not one of the points on which they should have a self-denying ordinance. They should deny themselves what governments—and, I agree, all governments—are always tempted to do —to use a majority to take wider powers than are necessary. It really will not do for the right hon. Gentleman to pledge himself, and to say he is sure we shall accept his pledges, and so on. It has nothing to do with matters either of Party prejudice or of personal judgment of character to say, that such pledges are not relevant to this kind of argument. If the Bill is giving wider powers than the Convention necessitates, it ought to be amended; and the right hon. Gentleman ought to make quite plain to us, whether that is so and, if it is so, why he refuses this Amendment. Merely indicating that his legal advisers do not think our Amendment is the best possible is not enough.
I think it is of more importance than ever to put this point to the right hon. Gentleman. He will do me the justice of admitting that I have put this argument on all sorts of Bills when all sorts of parties were in office. I think it is particularly important at a moment like this when we are purporting to set on foot a new sort of international forum, and when we are the first nation to give statutory authority to what is required by the Convention—I think it is extremely important that we should keep in exact step with the Convention, and not outrun the pace of the Convention any more than lag behind the pace set by the Convention. I think it is an argument which it is quite fair to put forward, and I think it is peculiarly appropriate on this occasion, and I invite the right hon. Gentleman to consider that.
Then, my second general point in connection with this block of Amendments is his argument against, at least, one of these—I think I can lay my finger on it: it is the fifth down on page 2811. There may have been another, but that one he certainly alluded to, and he endeavoured to put that one 1329 out of court upon the plea that it is not necessary, that here legislation is not requisite, because what is needed here can be done by administrative action. Again, I would invite him to consider whether that argument really is good enough. Declaratory statutes and declaratory sections in statutes have been common form—perhaps, they were commoner form than any other kind of statutory provision for many generations —and up to the present day have been common form in statutes. At this moment, when 51 nations are invited to legislate in order to give statutory force to this Convention, precisely at this moment, there is a very strong argument, indeed, for the view that everything they do, should be done explicitly and openly, even if this means a certain amount of declaratory language, though the new Statute is not strictly necessary in order to achieve the desired result. I think that is a fair argument, and I think it ought to be met.
Now I come to my last point, about which I have some slight diffidence I apologise to the right hon. Gentleman that I have not warned him upon it, for it is a point on which, I think, he ought to have been warned; but I have not had the chance. It is this general argument of extending semi-diplomatic privileges to a new class of persons against whom His Majesty's Government will not have the accustomed sanction of reciprocity. The general argument for doing that has been that all these organisations and persons are extremely well intentioned; that we need not have fear of abuse. For instance, it was specifically said by the right hon. Gentleman the other day—I think he referred to it tonight—that there was no case of abuse by the League of Nations or any of the organisations associated with it. I ventured to say on an earlier occasion that I thought that that was a dangerous argument. There are many pieces of behaviour in many families which would be scandalous if publicly known, but which do not always get publicly known. It would be temerarious to use that argument in regard to a family, and it might be equally temerarious in the case of the League of Nations, or some of its associated organisations. Now we know, or at least I think we know, because newspaper reports on these matters never carry us very far, and the newspapers have not 1330 had much time yet in connection with the espionage, if it is espionage, in Canada. A newspaper tells us:Among the organisations through which the system was said to have operated was the International Labour Office.That may be going beyond the facts—I do not know. Here is another newspaper cutting which says a little more, though it has chosen rather unhelpful detail as newspapers very often do. One cannot 'quite see how it was worth the expense to telegraph that a lady was—A stout woman of about 45 who walked with the assistance of two sticks … an employee of the International Labour Office.At least it looks as if it was plain that whether or not the International Labour Office was in the racket, certainly one of its employees was. I hope, therefore, it is not unfair to put to the right hon. Gentleman this question: Have the Government more information about this, and if so, does he not think it ought to be given to the House, if not at this stage, on Third Reading, because the general argument for this extension of privilege on the ground that abuse need not be feared, that experience shows in analogous cases abuse does not happen, does seem on the face of it to have a considerable hole punctured in it by this allegation. If it can possibly be made available to us, we ought to have more information than we can expect to get from across the Atlantic in newspapers at short notice.
§ Mr. H. Macmillan
The right hon. Gentleman, in answering the case for these Amendments, and in appealing to us not to press them, was good enough to pay tribute to the spirit in which I have approached this Bill, but if he attempted in any way to draw any difference between myself and my right hon. and hon. Friends, I am afraid that he was on a false track. What I was trying to' do, having seen the Debate on Second Reading, was to argue the right hon. Gentleman away from the morass into which he was getting, and in a spirit of old comradeship, based on a not inglorious Government, to try to get him back from these wild statements into calmer waters. If he says that because my hon. Friends and I stood against privilege we were somehow against the League of Nations or the United Nations, he will see that here that does not run, and that we are carrying out our proper guardianship of the privileges of the people whom we 1331 represent. He says, as I understand it, that his legal advisers tell him that these Amendments will not carry out the purpose. He says that he sympathises with our party, but that our Amendment will not carry out that purpose.
Well, of course, I have one advantage over him—I have very good legal advisers; and they are here. We never see his advisers; they are wandering around. Of course, I am not competent, and I do not think that he is really competent; we are both amateurs dealing with the exact meaning of these words. They have their advisers, and our's are not without distinction. If he says that, then I say to him: In that case, give us something, so that we can reach an agreeable conclusion on this matter. He says: "I will give you an assurance that if it comes to the issue of Orders in Council, we will not, in fact, use the maximum powers, but we must have the maximum powers and we will issue Orders appropriate to each of these four categories of persons."
I cannot resist reminding him of what his colleague's views are about assurances. The right hon. Gentleman the Minister of Health met the same argument made by the former Attorney-General, and he said, in splendid words, which should be printed over every Government Department: "I am sorry, but I think the House is with me in this matter when I say that I am rather chary of assurances by the Front Bench. Why are these things not put in the body of legislation?" I agree with the Minister of Health. He has vanished now to a happier and higher field, but he still has, I am sure, chat instinctive love of the traditions of this House which has made him one of the great Parliamentarians of his time. When I say, "Why cannot you put it in the Bill?" the right hon. Gentleman says: "I would like to, but it just cannot be done, it is impossible. There are no lawyers in the world who could put into a Bill what is in the Convention." Of course, he has his lawyers. If this cannot be put into the Bill, how is it going to be put into Orders in Council? I am only an amateur, but it seems to me that if one can draw up words appropriate to Orders in Council for each of these four categories of persons, it should not be beyond the wit of man, at reasonable fees, and with proper consideration, to put them 1332 into the Bill. It he really says, and all the lawyers say, "Sorry, but it cannot be done," then I am afraid, without disrespect to my legal friends in general, that I must agree with Mr. Bumble and say that in that case the law is an ass. Of course it can be dune. What is meant is that they do not want to do it, because it is a tiresome, troublesome, and, perhaps, complicated operation, and it is much easier to consider each case when one has an Order in Council.
I would make an appeal to the right hon. Gentleman to end this matter in this new spirit of comradeship, which we appear to have developed by the very important concession which he has made to us, to carry that through. Cannot the Law Officers make a supreme effort before Parliament adjourns? Cannot the learned Attorney-General, before he sets out for Warsaw, or wherever he goes, really put his mind to this? Cannot he and his Parliamentary Counsel say whether this thing can be done? It seems to me that if it is possible to draft words conveniently in the Convention, it really must be possible to draft them in the Bill. If he contends that our Amendment does not do that properly, let him draw up an Amendment that will. He has proved himself so accommodating, under pressure, and also perhaps under the charm of the holidays not so far removed, that I would make this last appeal to his better nature. He is one, I am sure, who can he moved by argument. Of the Government as a whole, it may well be said that they belong to the category thatgoeth not out except by prayer and fasting.We have had a little fasting, perhaps now we may have a little prayer. I do not ask for a definite pledge, but for some indication that he will look at this matter between now and the Report stage to see if this cannot be put down in a tidy and proper way, so as to set an example to the Government not to use this slapdash way of taking powers far beyond their need.
I appeal to him to do that, and if he could give that assurance I should not trouble whatever particular shift happens to be on duty this evening to walk through the lobbies. I would be very much happier if I felt that I could rely upon his consideration between now and next week or next fortnight or whenever we take the next stages of the Bill to see whether the human brain could not do what Members of this House wish him to do.
§ Mr. Noel-Baker
I expect' hon. Members would like me to answer some of the points they have made, and, therefore, with great diffidence I inflict another speech on the Committee, which I hope will not be too long. The hon. and learned Member for Daventry (Mr. Manningham-Buller) raised again the meaning of Section 1 (2) and what effect it would still have on the Orders in Council made under the 1944 Act. The words of Section 1 (2) are that that—shall not affect the operation of any Order in Council already made.I am advised that that means that it will leave the Order in Council operating with the same content and effect as it is now. I hope that that interpretation will satisfy him. In any case I will look at it again as he asked me to do.
The hon. Member for Northwich (Mr. J. Foster) raised once more the question of Section 11 (a) and (g) of the Convention, the legal immunities to be given to representatives of Governments coming to Conferences or to the Assembly. The reply to him was this: surely there would be no point in putting in subparagraph (a) at all, if subparagraph (g) bore the interpretation which he gave to it. Although I will agree to look at it again, I think that is the only reasonable interpretation.
The senior Burgess for Cambridge University (Mr. Pickthorn) asked why did we turn down the fifth Amendment on page 2811 simply because it is declaratory of powers that now exist. I will look at that again before the Report stage and see whether there is something that could, with real advantage, be put in. I confess that we wanted to make this Bill as short as possible and we wanted to save the time of Parliament as much as possible. Once that general method of the Bill was decided on, I think the omission of the subparagraphs was the logical conclusion, but I will look at it again.
The hon. Member for Northwich again raised the question of taxation. On the subject of the taxation that the various categories of people will have to pay I still think what I have said before is correct and I do not want to change or add to it. High officials of an international organisation will only get immunity from taxation when they are resident here, just as an envoy only gets it when he is resident here. Of course the normal situation will be that these officials will not be resident here, because I do not suppose any inter- 1334 national organisation will have its seat in this country. If any such officials were resident in this country, I say again what I said on the Second Reading, that we want an international official who is British, to have the same status, privileges and rights in all particulars as an official of an equal grade of other nationalities, and we also want him to have the same status and privileges as envoys of larger or smaller Powers accredited to the Court of St. James.
I do not know that I really followed the hon. Member for Northwich on one of his points. He said, if I understand him, that we were obliged by the Bill to do something about taxation by Order in Council. Of course, we are not obliged to do anything by Order in Council under the Bill. We are empowered to do things; and we are free to restrict what we do to something less than the Bill provides. The Bill says plainly:to such extent as may be specified in the Orderand that is how we intend to adjust the privileges to what is required in each Organisation.
The junior Burgess for Cambridge University (Mr. Wilson Harris) asked me whether this Bill really meant the Convention, the whole Convention, and nothing but the Convention. The senior Burgess for Cambridge University asked me the same question, but in a rather different form. I will deal with both in turn. I would answer to the junior Burgess that in the effect which it will have this Bill will give us the Convention, the whole Convention, and nothing but the Convention. The Government can do nothing under the Bill without an order in Council——
§ 9.15 p.m.
§ Mr. Wilson Harris
Are the powers in the Bill to represent the Convention, the whole Convention, and nothing but the Convention?
§ Mr. Noel-Baker
It is the case that in certain unimportant particulars the Bill gives the Government power to do something that is wider than the Convention. In the practical effect it will have it will give us the Convention, the whole Convention, and nothing but the Convention.
§ Mr. Pickthorn
The right hon. Gentleman says that that is the practical effect, but what he means is that it is the practical effect which the Government means 1335 to make under the Bill, and not the practical effect the Bill would have.
§ Mr. Wilson Harris
If, as the right hon. Gentleman says, that is the practical effect why cannot that be specified in the Bill?
§ Mr. Noel-Baker
I have the highest respect for both the Burgesses who represent the leading University of the country. I quite agree that the senior Burgess is right in saying that Parliament should be jealous of granting such powers. I do not deny that for a moment. I do not want to repeat at-length all I have said so many times about the power of Parliament to destroy an Order in Council; but if Parliament destroys an Order, the Government must present an amended Order. While, technically, therefore, the House cannot amend an Order in Council, the Government must either give the Order up, or must amend it. Therefore, Parliament really remains the master of what is done. If the junior Burgess for Cambridge University had been here all the time, he would have seen that when you come to deal with the rights of these four different categories of persons in respect of a large number of international organisations, the detail may vary greatly. If you try to put that detail into the Bill you will have a Bill which is enormously unwieldy, and you will make a large number of mistakes which will subsequently have to be amended by legislation.
The reason why we adopted this method, after having considered the methods suggested by hon. Members in their Amendments, and which we decided were unworkable, is because we were convinced that neither for the Government, nor Parliament, was there any advantage in those methods. We considered that there would be grave disadvantage in the fact that amending legislation would be needed whenever a change of detail was desired. I hope that the House will accept that argument as being of great force. The senior Burgess for Cambridge University spoke about the I.L.O., and the Canadian espionage case.
1336 Of course, there may be abuses. I may have overstated the experience of the past with international organisations; it may be things were hushed up. All I meant to say, in my original statement, was that, in fact, this had not led to any considerable abuse or caused any grave scandal. I think that is admitted. Cases may arise, and that is why this Pill and the Convention provide such ample safeguards against abuse. I have spoken of these safeguards before I repeat them once more. There is the limitation of the privilege to what is needed for the purpose for which the man has it. There is also, not only the right of waiver, but the duty of waiver imposed on the various persons, organisations, or Governments concerned. There is the provision for tribunals to try a case, if there is a dispute. There is, in the last resort, reference to the International Court of Justice. It is not conceivable that, if the Director of the International Labour Office were asked to waive the immunity of an official, supposing she had an immunity, in this espionage case, that he would not waive it, that justice would not take its course. We must consider the thing as a whole. We must think of the main purpose which is in view. For those reasons, I suggest, both to the senior and to the junior Burgess for Cambridge University, that the method of precise definition in the Bill, which hon. Members opposite have suggested by their Amendment, would have a very great and practical disadvantage, and that the advantage, if any, would be very small.
§ Mr. Wilson Harris
Does the right hon. Gentleman take the view that the Convention has so completely failed to make itself clear?
§ Mr. Noel-Baker
By this Bill we shall not only cover the United Nations, but there are to be modified versions of this Convention in respect of other international organisations. There may be many of them. We want by this Bill powers to deal with them. The Convention sets a maximum which none of our Orders in Council will ever exceed, but we do not want to have to come to the House with a new Bill every time the privileges of one of these organisations are consolidated and have to be brought into force. I think hon. Members opposite have been fully satisfied by the assurances which, on request, I have 1337 given on that point in our earlier Debates about these other organisations.
§ Mr. Manningham-Buller
The right hon. Gentleman has raised the question of waiver, and referred several times to the waiver of the Secretary-General of the United Nations. What is the position with regard to waiver when an organisation is not a United Nations organisation?
§ Mr. Noel-Baker
The intention is, as I shall say in the pledge which I shall read on the Report stage, which I think is now agreed on both sides, that, with regard to the existing organisations which have immunities under the 1944 Act, we shall not change the Orders in Council, unless and until they are consolidated with the new system, on the basis of the Convention, by the Secretary-General in the negotiations which he will have. With regard to new organisations which are created— for example, the Health Organisation, which is now under discussion in New York— we shall present an Order in Council only when the Secretary-General has drawn up the immunities in accordance with the system of the Convention. I hope that is clear and satisfactory. I do not say and this is really the point that was made by the junior Burgess for Cambridge University and by the right hon. Member for Bromley (Mr. H. Macmillan) in his concluding words— that precise definition of everything in the Bill itself could not be done by lawyers; I say it is not worth doing, because the advantage one would get, if any, would be outweighed by the great disadvantage which one would suffer. Certainly, I will consider again, between now and the Report stage, whether Amendments can be introduced which will go some distance in the direction which hon. Members opposite want. I do not feel very optimistic about it, because we started on that plan, and we gave it up as a result of our attempts. I think I have given many practical examples of the great difficulties we would encounter, but certainly we will consider it. And I will make one other offer, which perhaps the right hon. Member for Bromley may think of some use. I would certainly undertake that the Government would consult with the Opposition, through the usual channels, as to the terms of the first Order in Council which we brought in 1338 under the Bill, so that we could make sure that that Order in Council did not go beyond the Convention, and there would thus be that guarantee for hon. Members opposite before any Order was made.
§ Mr. Manningham-Buller
I think we have had a valuable discussion on this matter and have made some progress. The right hon. Gentleman has said that he will endeavour to make a further attempt between now and the Report stage to meet what I think are the wishes of both sides of the House that the Bill should correspond with the Convention, and I welcome this. If we on this side can be of any assistance in achieving that common object, although the right hon. Gentleman says that we have failed so far by our Amendments, I am sure we shall be glad to do so. In view of his assurances I beg to ask leave to withdraw the Amendment.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Schedule agreed to.