HC Deb 13 March 1951 vol 485 cc1427-59

10.12 p.m.

Sir Richard Acland (Gravesend)

I beg to move, That the Bishops (Retirement) Measure, 1950, passed by the National Assembly of the Church of England, be presented to His Majesty for His Royal Assent in the form in which the said Measure was laid before Parliament. This Measure has been examined by 15 hon. Members of this House, together with an equal number of Members of another place, who form the Ecclesiastical Committee of Parliament, and they have reported upon it. It does not affect prejudicially the constitutional rights of any of His Majesty's subjects other than those of bishops whose rights are necessarily affected by a Measure of this nature.

The Ecclesiastical Committee are informed that this Measure passed through all its stages in the Church Assembly without any division, and that a show of hands on the final motion for its approval indicated an overwhelming majority in its favour. I anticipate that the House will be able to assent to this Motion without any prolonged discussion and without bringing up any particularly controversial points.

I think that I shall best serve the interest of my hon. Friends and hon. Members opposite if I give a brief description of this Measure, and then if, contrary to my expectations, any points are raised, perhaps I may reply to them at the end of the discussion. Part I of the Measure introduces a procedure by which a bishop can be retired if he is incapacitated by physical or mental infirmity from the due performance of his episcopal duties. Hitherto, in such a case, the only remedy open to the Church was to appoint a bishop-coadjutor. I think that the House will feel that this change is an improvement, and if hon. Members will look at the provisions in detail, they will find that the rights of a bishop in this respect are reasonably safeguarded.

Part II allows for a bishop voluntarily to resign if he feels that it is not in the good interests of the diocese that he should continue. The normal case of this kind is where a man has been appointed to a diocese as bishop and, after a quarter of a century, genuinely feels that he has "shot his bolt" and that the interests of his diocese would be best served by the appointment of a new man. The effect of this is almost exclusively to enable a man in that position honourably to offer his resignation and to retain a proportionate part of the pension rights he would have received had he gone on for the full length of his time.

Part III is a Part which may raise one or two points, and I should therefore like to comment on it, as did the Bishop of Winchester in another place, and say that this Part fulfils the doctrine of fair shares for all. In 1947 the Church Assembly passed, and this House approved, the Incumbents (Discipline) Measure, which allows for certain processes of disciplinary action. About two years later a further Measure was passed, the Church Dignitaries (Retirement) Measure, which provided a corresponding procedure in the case of deans, archdeacons and other church dignitaries. This Measure now deals correspondingly with the case of bishops. I do not suppose that in any century there will be many occasions, if any, when this Measure will be brought into play. Nevertheless, as an abstract matter of justice it did not seem right to leave a blank in the legislation.

This Measure would have come before the House in 1948 or 1949 had not the Ecclesiastical Committee during the last Parliament considered that the first draft was defective in that it allowed bishops to be disciplined for their social and political opinions and activities and on account of matters of doctrine. The Ecclesiastical Committee in the last Parliament thought that that was wrong and sent the Measure back to the Church Assembly in order that it should be re-drawn so as to make it quite clear that on matters of doctrine and ritual, and on matters of political activity and opinions, the provisions of the Measure would not apply. I hope that the House will not blow hot and cold on its old opinions and, having sent the Measure back two years ago for reconsideration on the grounds that it did not contain something, now object to the fact that it does contain what on a previous occasion they complained it did not contain.

These questions of political activities and opinions have been dealt with with very great care. There are two grounds on which a complaint can be made. It can be made on the grounds that a bishop has been guilty of conduct unbecoming to the office and work of a bishop or guilty of serious, persistent and continuous neglect of his duty. I hope my hon. Friends will follow this with great care. As far as political opinions are concerned, no complaint may be brought under either of these two heads. As far as political activity is concerned, no complaint can be brought under the heading of a bishop having been guilty of unbecoming conduct, but if the political or social activity is carried on to an extent which amounts to a continual or persistent neglect of his duties by the bishop, then a complaint can be brought on the grounds of such neglect. That seems to me to be entirely reasonable.

Mr. Blackburn (Birmingham, Northfield)

On the construction of the words "social or political opinions," would the hon. Gentleman include "social or political opinions of a totalitarian nature" so that any bishop would be entitled to express opinions of a totalitarian nature as distinct from purely political opinions?

Sir R. Acland

What the hon. Member suggests would be outside the provisions of this Measure, whether those opinions were of the Right or the Left.

The remainder of the Measure deals with procedure, with which I think the House would not wish to interfere, as the decisions seem good to the Church Assembly. The procedure is that when a complaint is made the Archbishop can judge of its serious nature, if it is signed by six clergymen and six members of a diocesan conference. They may decide to refer it to the Upper House of the Convocation of the Province, and this may then appoint a commission which will consider the matter in detail. The Commission report would then go to the Upper House, which might then decide, if the matter was not dismissed by the Commission, either to take no action, or to censure the bishop, or to request the Archbishop to declare the See vacant. If the Archbishop did so declare, that dec- Iaration would have no effect until is was confirmed by an Order in Council.

I hope that the House will find that these are reasonable provisions, and, without spending any more time on them, I commend this Measure to the serious consideration of hon. Members.

10.24 p.m.

Captain John Crowder (Finchley)

I beg to second the Motion.

The House will agree that there are plenty of safeguards in this Measure, and it has been fully considered by the Ecclesiastical Committee, which has on it representatives from both sides of the House and also Members from another place. As the Measure has had all these safeguards put into it, I hope the House will agree to it without a very long discussion.

10.25 p.m.

Mr. Driberg (Maldon)

With most of what the hon. Baronet has said, I imagine few of us would disagree. I am sure that the House approves of the general intention of the Measure, which was commended to me a few days ago by one of the bishops in rather more colloquial language than that used tonight by the hon. Baronet. This bishop said: "It's quite simple really. It's just a machine for getting rid of those of us who get too ga-ga." As such, it is no doubt eminently desirable.

I have one or two points on which I shall not detain the House long. They arise out of what my hon. Friend has already said in relation to the debate that we had in December, 1946, on the Incumbents (Discipline) Measure when, at one o'clock in the morning, the last Parliament approved it by 86 votes to 74. In the debate there was a good deal of discussion on political opinions and political activities among the clergy. One point which those who, from both sides of the House, opposed the Measure ventured to stress rather strongly was that it was dangerous that, although political opinions were rightly safeguarded, there was no safeguard at all against proceedings under the Measure for political activities.

The sponsors of that Measure were themselves divided on that point. The hon. Member who introduced it, now in another place, Lord Burden, said, rather vaguely, that of course the words "political opinions" were intended to cover political activities. On the other hand, Mr. Willink, speaking from the Opposition Front Bench, said quite the contrary and that those who engaged in political activities were liable to a serious charge of neglect of duties.

My hon. Friend and the Church Assembly have found, in this Bishops Measure, an extremely ingenious device for providing two safeguards for excluding proceedings on both grounds. There is to be no complaint about political opinions on the ground that they constitute either unbecoming conduct or neglect of duty or about political activities leading to a charge of unbecoming conduct, although they may lead to a charge of neglect of duties. My hon. Friend commended that to the House as applying the principle of fair shares to these various matters. I agree that this is meant to be fair shares; but the attempt has not succeeded. The net effect is to put bishops in an advantageous position in comparison with the ordinary parish clergyman. A clergyman can be proceeded against for unbecoming conduct if he indulges in political activity. A bishop cannot. My hon. Friend must admit that there is that discrepancy.

I am sorry to have to add that Parliament has been misled on this matter. In the official White Papers which hon. Members will no doubt have studied with the care that they deserve, the actual Measure is accompanied with the report of the Ecclesiastical Committee on the Measure, and in that report is an Appendix containing the comments and explanations submitted by the Legislative Committee to the Ecclesiastical Committee. No doubt very largely on that basis the Ecclesiastical Committee came to the conclusion to recommend to this House that the Measure should proceed. Those comments and explanations are weighty and authoritative. They are signed on behalf of the Legislative Committee by the Most Reverend Primate the Archbishop of York. I am sorry to say that they contain a gross misstatement of fact. This comment says in paragraph 7 on the first page of the Appendix: A Bishops Retirement Measure also dealing with both disability and discipline was passed at the same time but was not laid before Parliament"— I think my hon. Friend rather gave the impression that it had been when he said that this House should not blow hot and cold in this matter— …because the Ecclesiastical Committee were of opinion that 'social and political opinions and activities' which in the Measures concerning Incumbents and Dignitaries were excluded as grounds for accusations of misconduct… I have already shown that that does not correspond with the facts, and if any hon. Member doubts it, I will read the relevant subsection from the actual Incumbents (Discipline) Measure. In Part I, Section 2, it is said that Proceedings may be instituted under this Measure…in respect of conduct unbecoming…or of serious, persistent or continuous neglect of duty…but not…in respect of any question of doctrine, ritual or ceremonial, or of the social or political opinions of the incumbent. There is not a word about activities. But the Archbishop of York and the Legislative Committee told the Ecclesiastical Committee that both opinions and activities were excluded from that Measure. They are simply not telling the truth when they say that, and I am very sorry that my colleagues on the Ecclesiastical Committee, for whom I have the highest regard, as we all have, did not see fit to examine a little more closely the evidence that was laid before them by the Legislative Committee before they recommended this House to proceed to endorse this Measure.

Let me take by way of illustration the case under this Measure and the preceding Measure of any bishop in the Church of England, say, the Bishop of Rochester and one of his clergy. It is a pure coincidence, I know, that my hon. Friend who moved this Motion happens to be a lay reader in the diocese of Rochester. It is clear that the clergyman of whom we have heard in another connection earlier this day, to which I will not refer further, is a very politically-minded clergyman. It may well be that he is also a politically active clergyman. It is quite clear that the political prejudices of the Bishop of Rochester have led him to conceive a violent and extreme hostility to this clergyman to the extent that he has written to him quite improperly suggesting that he should resign his living. It may well be that it is the passing of the Incumbents (Discipline) Measure by this House that has encouraged these arrogant prelates——

Sir Patrick Spens (Kensington, South)

On a point of order. Is it in order for an hon. Member to make personal reflections on a Member of another place?

Mr. Speaker

That is the difficulty. I think personal reflections on a Member of another place should not be made. That is quite out of order here.

Mr. Bing (Hornchurch)

Further to that point of order. Surely we are discussing the need for disciplining bishops. How can we do that if we cannot illustrate it by referring to the conduct of bishops?

Mr. Speaker

One need not do it by naming individual bishops.

Mr. Driberg

May I with great respect, Mr. Speaker, draw your attention to a Ruling which you gave on 29th October, 1946, in a case which seems to me to be fairly analogous, when we were discussing the Motion which led to the setting up of the Royal Commission on the Press? Some hon. Friends of mine were making rather free with the names of Lord Kemsley, Lord Rothermere, Lord Beaverbrook and several Members of another place, and an hon. Member opposite, the hon. and gallant Member for Bute and North Ayrshire (Sir C. MacAndrew), who is now one of your Deputies in the Chair, raised a point of order and said: Is it in order, Mr. Speaker, for hon. Members to discuss a Member of another place? They had been discussing them in somewhat pejorative terms. You said: On a motion like this it is quite unavoidable, because after all the noble Lords are-the proprietors of these newspapers."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 29th October, 1946; Vol. 428, c. 458.] I would suggest that in this case we are: discussing bishops in respect of their conduct of the administration of their dioceses and not as Members of another place.

Mr. Speaker

My Ruling then is not analogous to this case. I said that we could discuss the noble lords, because that was part of their commercial activities, and was nothing to do with their seat in another place. The bishops are there because they are bishops, and it has nothing to do with any outside activity. They are there because they are clergymen.

Mr. Driberg

I would say, with great respect, that I am sure every bishop on the bench is there because he has a genuine vocation to spiritual life, and not because he enjoys the emoluments attached thereto. None the less, they do not serve in an entirely honorary capacity.

Mr. Blackburn

May I entirely follow your Ruling, Mr. Speaker, and venture to make this suggestion. In so far as a bishop is a Member of another place, and because he is a Member of another place, it would be improper to reflect in any way on him; but, in so far as he exercises discipline under the Measure we are now considering, I venture to suggest, at any rate in the abstract, that one is entitled to discuss the powers of a bishop which he does not possess as a Member of the Upper House.

Mr. Speaker

No, I think we could airways mention the facts without making a personal attack on any individual and giving an illustration of what someone might have done. To attack a personality is wrong.

Mr. Driberg

I am prepared to generalise my illustration if you prefer me to do so, Mr. Speaker, and I will continue my speech without referring to the Bishop of Rochester. I have in any case, I think, sufficiently established my point. As I was saying, it may well be that the passing of the Incumbents (Discipline) Measure encouraged some of these arrogant prelates to believe they had a right to behave to the clergy in this way. Under that Measure, any bishop—I do not name any particular one—could initiate proceedings against any clergyman for unbecoming conduct in respect of political activities. But under this Measure which we are now discussing no comparable proceedings can be initiated against that bishop, however scandalous his political activities might seem to be to however substantial a number of the clergy or laity in his diocese or indeed ibis brother bishops.

I have two reasons for taking exception to this Measure, and I hope my hon. Friend who proposed it will tell us at the end of the debate that he will take it away and look at it again, and see what can be done about it. My first objection is the serious one I have mentioned—the slipshod and misleading nature of the comment presented with the Measure. We have in this House no amending power on these Assembly Measures. We have no power to amend them in detail: all We can do if we feel there is a strong enough case is to reject them or ask the sponsors to withdraw them for the time being. My second point is that there should really be parity in this matter between bishops and the lesser clergy, and my hon. Friend was not giving a fair picture, although I know he meant to, when he said this represented fair shares for all.

I should like to ask the hon. baronet if he could possibly give us this assurance, that he would see if it were possible to introduce an amending Measure to the Incumbents (Discipline) Measure to tighten up that Measure on the question of political activities as well as political opinions. If he could give us some assurance of that kind, I think most of us would have no particular objection to this Measure, which, so far as it goes in its kind, is unexceptionable. But if he cannot give us any assurance of that kind, it might be necessary to divide the House tonight—which I do not want to have to do on this Measure—to draw attention to this inequity and make sure that steps will be taken to give ordinary parish clergy some protection in this respect against wolves in shepherds' mitres.

Captain Crowder

May I ask the hon. Member, before he sits down, how he expects the hon. baronet to give an assurance that he will bring in an amending Measure? It would have to be brought before the Church Assembly and to start right from the beginning again.

Mr. Driberg

That is one of the difficulties about this sort of procedure, I agree; but if the hon. baronet can give me even an assurance that he personally will use his strongest influence with his fellow Church Commissioners—an assurance which he might be able to give us—that will be satisfactory.

10.42 p.m.

Mr. J. Enoch Powell (Wolverhampton, South-West)

The remarks I have to offer on this Measure will not be controversial in the sense of those to which the House has just listened. They are divided under two heads, the first relating to the form of this Measure and the latter to its contents. When a Measure of this kind leaves this House and receives the Royal Assent, it becomes a Statute of the Realm just as much as any other Act of Parliament which goes through what we regard as the normal procedure, and this House is as much responsible for the form in which it reaches the Statute Book as it is for the form of any other Act which we pass.

Therefore, we have the right to claim that these Measures should reach this House in a form which is satisfactory. That claim is all the stronger because under the enabling Act we are not able to amend these Measures. If we could amend them, it might not perhaps matter so much in what degree of perfection they reached us; but we are obliged either to pass them as they stand or reject them.

In many respects the form of this Measure is very unsatisfactory and such as may eventually cause trouble, should it have to be interpreted by the courts and should the procedure, particularly that in Part III, ever have to be put into effect. I am aware that the Measure has had a long and fairly complicated history. I believe I am right in saying it has been through the hands of three successive draftsmen; but the fact that it embodies compromises and has had that sort of genesis is no excuse for it reaching this House in a form which we should not tolerate in work presented to us by the Parliamentary draftsmen. This matter was mentioned in the Church Assembly before the Measure left it, but at too late a stage for it to be considered practicable for the form to be amended.

I must draw attention to two examples of the kind of complaint which I have in mind, in the hope, at any rate in the case of subsequent Measures, of ensuring that they reach this House, and therefore leave this House, in a more satisfactory form. Both examples are from Part III, Section 5. There, after certain procedures have been put into effect, the archbishop may refer the complaint against a bishop to the Upper House of Convocation of the Province "for enquiry and report." Then, if we read through the Measure, we find in Section 7, that, so far from the Upper House of Convocation, to which the complaint is referred "for enquiry and report," doing anything of the kind, they declare the complaint to be unfounded, or they decide not to take further action, or they pass censure upon the bishop, or ask for the bishopric to be declared vacant. Most, if not all, this cannot conceivably be described as a process of "enquiry and report." We have, therefore, a complete conflict between two Sections of this Measure, which would, if they came to be interpreted, cause great embarrassment.

My second example, of defective drafting is also in Section 5, subsection (1). The bishop takes into consultation three bishops from a panel, and then there come these words: And if the Archbishop and the three bishops so selected, or a majority of them, determine that the complaint is serious.… It is quite uncertain, from that wording, whether the majority is a majority of the three bishops, or a majority of the four persons, namely, the Archbishop and the three bishops. This might well be a material point. One may come to the conclusion that on the face of it the wording means a majority of the four persons. On the other hand, the Legislative Committee has reached the other conclusion. If we look at that Committee's report, we find clearly that the Committee thinks that it means a majority of the three bishops.

That is the sort of doubt which ought not to be possible in any Measure which passes this House in order to find its place on the Statute Book. I repeat that I hope that in future, means will be used to ensure that the drafting of these Measures is up to the high standard to which we in this House are accustomed.

Now I pass to the point to which I particularly wish to refer, which relates exclusively to Part III of the Measure. Although the innovation made in the law by this Part is an important one, I do not think that the nature of it has been properly conveyed, either in another place by the Lord Bishop of Winchester, or, with the greatest respect, in this House by the hon. Baronet the Member for Gravesend (Sir R. Acland)——

Mr. Holman (Bethnal Green)

I do not quite follow the hon. Member's argument. As far as I understand, a majority of four is three. If there are three to one, I should think it must include the Archbishop.

Mr. Powell

My difficulty is not in understanding what constitutes a majority of four persons, but whether "them" refers to the three bishops, as the Legislative Committee thought, or to the four persons, as I am personally rather inclined to think it does, from my reading of the Measure. At least, there is evidence of difficulty of interpretation in this very confusion.

If I may continue with the point of substance which I was about to open, the Lord Bishop of Winchester, in another place, referred to the fact that in this Measure there is no provision for any formal appeal to the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council, and he said that this was a real change in the law. There is, indeed, a real change in the law made by this Measure, but I believe it is worthy of a few minutes of the time of the House to consider exactly what the change is, and also what the change is not.

It is at present quite uncertain what is the appropriate tribunal for dealing with a bishop in respect of alleged offences committed in his episcopal capacity. Bishops have been tried, and deprived, by archbishops sitting with assessors, by Convocation, by the provincial court, and even, on one occasion, by a court of three bishops sitting under a Royal Commission. There is thus a wide range of possibilities as to where the initial jurisdiction lies.

Then there is the further question as to where, from any of this jurisdiction, an appeal would lie. In the case of Bishop King of Lincoln in 1888, the case was tried by the Archbishop with assessors and it appeared, though it is not absolutely certain, that the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council, did admit the propriety of an appeal to themselves from that court. The question has also arisen whether either an appeal or an original jurisdiction lies with the House of Lords, though in fact it is fairly clear that neither of these jurisdictions exists. The bishops are indeed Members of the Upper House for a reason which originally would have entitled them to trial by peers, namely, that they held of the King-in-chief under feudal law. Since then, they themselves waived their privilege of peerage before the end of the Middle Ages, and they have never since that time been treated as peers. Indeed, the very appellation "House of Peers." applied to the Upper House, is not fully accurate, and there are no grounds for supposing that an original jurisdiction upon the bishops vests in the Upper House.

That being the present uncertainty and the range of possibilities under the law as it is at present, what change in the law does this Measure make? The first thing we must get clear is that where matters of doctrine, ritual, or social or political conduct or opinions are concerned, the law will stand, after we have passed this Measure, exactly as it stands now, so that we have not escaped by passing this Measure from the old perplexity, rendered celebrated by the Goreham case, of an appeal on grounds of doctrine or ritual from the ecclesiastical courts to the lay courts of the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council. The situation in regard to appeal to the Privy Council on matters of ritual and doctrine is still on this form of unbecoming conduct specifically excluded from this Measure and will remain exactly as it is at present.

Secondly, there is still an appeal to the secular courts under this Measure. After We have passed this Measure, a bishop who is censured or deprived by the machinery provided in Part HI, or indeed by the machinery in Part I, of this Measure, can appeal to the secular courts—I imagine in the first place to the High Court, but I would not be certain—but can do so, after this Measure is passed, only upon the grounds that the provisions of this Measure have not been put into effect. There still, therefore, remains an appeal, and ultimately an appeal to the House of Lords, from the ecclesiastical courts and ecclesiastical jurisdiction set up by this Measure, on the grounds that this Measure has not been implemented in any particular case.

Having stated these respects—and they are important respects—in which this Measure leaves the present state of the law unaltered, I come very briefly to those respects in which it alters it, because the resorts in which jurisdiction is vested by this Measure are curious, though perhaps not illogical. There is, in the first place, a jury of presentment, consisting of an Archbishop and three Bishops, corresponding as it were to the Grand Jury under our old criminal law. Then there is a decision by the Upper House of Convocation, after examination by a Commission. In a sense that is perhaps a kind of rudimentary trial by peers, but of a very special kind.

Then, finally, judgment; the jurisdiction vests in two, and perhaps three, separate places. The right to pronounce censure vests in the Upper House of Convocation itself; but the right to pronounce sentence of deprivation is in the hands of the Archbishop, who is not obliged to be guided by the advice or the opinions either of the Upper House of Convocation or of the Commission to which they refer the case.

Sir R. Acland

I am sure the hon. Member will agree that the Archbishop cannot deprive the bishop against the will of the Upper House. It is only if the Upper House is against the bishop that the Archbishop has a discretion.

Mr. Powell

Exactly; I am much obliged to the hon. Baronet. The fact remains that jurisdiction, where deprivation is concerned, is in the hands of the Archbishop. Indeed, it is not even ultimately in the hands of the Archbishop, for it remains ultimately in the hands of the Crown.

Sir P. Spens

May I point out that deprivation by the Archbishop declaring the bishopric vacant does not take effect until it is confirmed by His Majesty in Council?

Mr. Powell

I was saying that the ultimate decision is a Crown decision, so that the ultimate jurisdiction does remain after this Measure is passed with the Crown, albeit the Crown in Council, and not the Crown acting on the advice of the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council, as might have been the case heretofore. That is a perfectly proper ultimate resort of jurisdiction in this matter, on two grounds. A bishop is a bishop in virtue of holding both the temporalities and spiritualities of his see. He derives both, though by different methods, from the Crown. He holds the temporalities by allegiance to the Crown and does homage to the King for them. He is elected to hold the spiritualities in virtue of letters missive from the Crown. So that that which the Crown both temporarily and spiritually confers is only taken away again ultimately by the act of the Crown.

I hope I have not unduly detained the House by attempting to render a little clearer the nature of the change which we are making in the law on a matter which has for centuries been one from time to time of severe acrimony and debate.

10.57 p.m.

Mr. Bing (Hornchurch)

If I do not traverse exactly the same ground as the hon. Member for Wolverhampton, South-West (Mr. Powell) that is not because I do not endorse a great many of his arguments, in fact I depart from very few of the arguments he has so cogently advanced, but I feel there is another aspect of this matter at which the House ought to look for a moment.

My hon. Friend the Member for Graves-end (Sir R. Acland), in introducing this Measure, said that we were dealing with the bishops last, and seemed to consider that a matter for congratulation. I do not know, but I should have thought that my hon. Friends would have considered that a matter for regret, and had there been introduced earlier a Measure to deal with the bishops rather the same sort of Measure to deal with the incumbents, we might not now be in some of the difficulties in which we find ourselves.

Secondly, my hon. Friend advanced the argument that this Measure was very unlikely to be used on any occasion and therefore the House ought to pass it. When I heard him say that, I thought I was listening to my noble Friend the Lord Chancellor in another place recommending a Government Measure. If I, as I am going to do, invite the House to join with the hon. Member for Wolverhampton, South-West—if I understood him aright—in dividing the House and rejecting this Measure, I do so because I think we should pass a Measure which is of some use.

It is desirable that there should be some degree of control and some degree of discipline of bishops. Let me give the House a reason why that is so. Bishops are after all, in a position in which they can use their spiritual authority. It is most undesirable that they should be persuaded in any circumstances to use it to assist—I use the term broadly—the temporal ambitions of any Member on either side of this House. It would be most undesirable, for example, were a Member to write to any bishop about one of his constituents and say to him, "Can you bring pressure on him?"

I do not for a moment suggest that such a thing could possibly be done, but let us just suppose for a moment that some Member—one who is not at the moment in the House—were to write, say, to the dean of a well-known cathedral pointing out that some member of his chapter was not acting in accordance with what he considered to be the correct political line, and that that dean in that case proceeded to put pressure on that member of the chapter. There is not a Member of the House here who would not immediately suggest that the dean in question should be disciplined.

Mr. Godfrey Nicholson (Farnham)

May I ask the hon. and learned Gentleman what pressure he thinks the dean could exert on a member of the chapter?

Mr. Bing

Surely he could exert a certain spiritual pressure. But on matters of that sort the hon. Gentleman is a far greater authority than I. Does the hon. Gentleman want to interrupt again?

Mr. Nicholson

Before I interrupt again, I will let the hon. and learned Gentleman display his ignorance still further.

Mr. Bing

If that were the only purpose of the hon. Gentleman, surely he is wasting the time of the House by interrupting.

Now let me say that what should be done in the case of the dean surely should be done in the case of a bishop. Consider how grossly improper it would be—if one can conceive such a thing happening, and I am not for a moment suggesting that anything of that sort would be done—if, say, a clergyman wrote to his Member of Parliament, and such Member of Parliament sent such a letter to the clergyman's bishop with the words, "Can you do something about it?" Well, of course, that would be a matter for the House, and we are not discussing that now; but what we are discussing is whether we have in this Measure machinery for dealing with a bishop who is so blind to the duties of his office that he yields to this sort of political pressure.

Mr. Nicholson

May I interrupt the hon. and learned Gentleman? Will he please tell the House what steps he thinks the bishop in question can take about it?

Mr. Bing

It is most undesirable that any bishop should be in a position to write such a letter to one of his incumbents, who owes him spiritual duty, and that he should, at the request of a Member of any part of this House or of any person outside—not only of members of this House——

Mr. Nicholson rose——

Mr. Bing

We have just been addressed very ably by a professor of Greek, I think. He will recall a form of Greek drama, which consists of one man interrupting another almost continuously. That is a type of drama in which I am not proposing to act.

Of course, it need not be a Member of this House who could make such a request that the bishop should bring pressure on one of his clergy. It might be a firm of jam manufacturers, or manufacturers of any sort. Suppose a firm were to write to a bishop saying, "Please discipline your clergy; they are coming out in favour of temperance. We have had letters about temperance from the clergy. How bad it is for trade." Well now, seriously——

Mr. Nicholson

May I ask the hon. and learned Gentleman what powers he thinks a bishop has over his clergy? All these references to Greek drama are most interesting, but we are now discussing the powers of bishops over their clergy. What power does the hon. and learned Gentleman think a bishop has over his clergy?

Mr. Bing

I will come to the hon. Gentleman in one moment. He took part, I see, in the Division on the Incumbents (Discipline) Measure. I wonder why he voted as he did, for obviously he had not listened to the arguments of Mr. Willink on his own Front Bench. Mr. Willink thought that the bishops should be able to discipline their clergy for their political activities. It is improper for this House to pass a Measure which does not contain one word about disciplining a bishop who is prepared to make use of his office for the purpose of bringing political pressure to bear on the incumbents in his diocese. I hope my hon. Friends will oppose this Measure, unless it is withdrawn and sent back to the Assembly so that they may make an appropriate Measure to deal with such a bishop, should such a case arise.

And now to deal with Mr. Willink. On 18th December, 1946, he said with regard to political opinions: I gather that the suggestion of the hon. Member for Maldon is that the Measure could be amended by the Assembly adding the words 'or activities'. That is an impossible suggestion. It is obvious that the extent of political activity might amount to serious, persistent and continuous neglect of duty."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 18th December, 1946; Vol. 431. c. 2127.] In this case it is much more than that. It is not neglect, but using a holy office for the purpose of promoting the cause of one political party against another. I am sorry the Opposition do not support us in this view. Do they think the bishops will always be on their side and therefore they ought to safeguard the rights of the bishops to bring pressure on their clergy?

Mr. Blackburn

Would the hon. Gentleman give one instance in which any bishop has given political support to any party and thereby tried to do something against a clergyman within his own bishopric?

Mr. Bing

I do not wish to delay the House. [HON. MEMBERS: "Answer."] I do not think there is any need to prevent any bishop or clergyman from indulging in political activities. I myself received a letter from a bishop the other day, although not on a subject which I thought made it necessary to send it on to the Archbishop. There is every reason why bishops and clergymen should take a full part in political activities. I have done my best in this House to see that clergymen had the right to sit in this House. I am not attacking the political rights or activities of the clergy, but I am attacking the fact that someone is in a position to use his spiritual office to bring pressure on his spiritual subordinates, and there is no method in this Measure of dealing with such a person.

When this Measure was first introduced, no doubt such a thought was so far from the minds of the bishops that they could not imagine that one of them could behave in this way, but we should take precautions in case one of them should. One never knows what appointments will be made in the future. I do not wish to be drawn into criticism of any existing appointments, but we should be in a position to deal with this matter. I feel that I certainly must divide the House against this Measure unless there is an assurance that it will be possible to take these steps.

One of the troubles that some hon. Members have about this Measure is that until it is passed no action can be taken in regard to any matter that has previously arisen. Who knows that there might not arise a case where previous to our passing this Measure there was some bishop who had used his office in this way? The Measure should be drawn in such a way that we could deal immediately with such a case as the House agrees is a gross abuse of the episcopal office, and unless my hon. Friend can see that that is done, I regret that I shall have to divide the House.

11.11 p.m.

Mr. Iain MacLeod (Enfield, West)

I thought for a sentence or two at the beginning of the hon. and learned Member's speech that, unusually, he was going to make a contribution to the debate, but he returned very soon to his usual task of muddying the waters. I will make one remark only on his speech, and I know that it will be echoed by many hon. Members on the other side: I think it contemptible that people who have neither interest nor affection for the Church of England should use an opportunity such as this for pursuing their private witch hunts. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."]

Mr. Bing

What evidence is there for that accusation?

Mr. MacLeod

I think the evidence of the cheers which greeted my remark and the agreement of many hon. Members on the other side of the House.

Mr. James Hudson (Ealing, North)

On a point of order. With regard to any of these Church questions which are settled by law, and over which this House has its responsibility, is it within the right of any hon. Member to cast doubt on the right of all other hon. Members, without exception, to have their say with reference to these questions?

Mr. Deputy-Speaker (Major Milner)

I think that in general terms that is so. It is also, of course, a rule not to impute motives in this House.

Mr. MacLeod rose——

Mr. Bing

On a point of order. The hon. Member made a grave personal accusation against me. Is it your intention, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, to invite him to withdraw?

Mr. Blackburn

Further to that point of order. Will the hon. and learned Member say what the personal accusation was?

Mr. MacLeod

I propose, subject to——

Hon. Members


Mr. Deputy-Speaker

It is usual in those circumstances, whether a personal imputation was made or not—and I am not clear whether one was made—for an hon. Member to say if a personal imputation was made, and withdraw it.

Mr. MacLeod

I was not conscious of making a personal imputation against the hon. Member. I willingly withdraw—and I say this quite sincerely—if that point was so taken.

Mr. Blackburn

Further to the point of order. You are making a very important Ruling——

Mr. Deputy-Speaker

Order. I understood the hon. Gentleman was speaking to the point of order which was raised by the hon. Member for Enfield, West (Mr. Iain MacLeod).

Mr. Blackburn rose——

Mr. Deputy-Speaker

There is a point of order before me at the present moment.

Mr. MacLeod

I would not make an imputation against the hon. and learned Member or any other Member. If it was thought to be so, then I gladly withdraw it. I made a comment which I thought was fair, but perhaps I may be allowed to leave the subject there, which is what I want to do.

Mr. Blackburn

Do I understand it to be your Ruling, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, that an imputation was made? If so, may I know what the imputation was?

Mr. MacLeod

I was not conscious of having made an imputation, but I genuinely want to leave that point. About a week ago, when discussing a very controversial matter, a right hon. Gentleman rose and said that he hoped he might be able to reduce the temperature by making a short statement. I had hoped to be rather more successful than he was, but I seem to have failed for perhaps the same reason as he did.

I take as my starting point the comments made by the Lord Bishop of Winchester, the chief sponsor of this Measure, before the Church Assembly on 21st June last. In apologising for a certain inexactitude in some of the things he had said, he asked the Assembly to remember that "behind him had been the House of Bishops and that they had shown a fluidity of mind which might be said to be unusual even in the English Episcopacy." I should like to second that statement, because I find the Measure an astonishing piece of slipshod drafting.

A very experienced judicial authority, Sir Cyril Atkinson, raised a number of important points affecting drafting. I find it surprising that everyone obviously regarded Sir Cyril as an amiable eccentric for raising points of drafting in the Church Assembly. His points having been dismissed for the rather odd reason although an attractive one to a Tory, that because no one else had raised points before there could not possibly be any substance in those raised on that occasion, the Chairman of the House of Clergy said that it was not for Parliament to tell the bishops how to discipline themselves. It is fair to say that that is arguable, but it is the duty of Parliament to see that Measures such as this which are presented, and which are just as much a Statute of the Realm as any other Acts when they are passed, are precise in wording and exact in what they propose to do.

I have noted something like a dozen points, none of which I will give to the House, to show that this Measure does not carry out its intention. I know, as does the hon. Baronet, what this Measure is intended to do. We have followed this Measure and read the reports of the Church Assembly, as well as the statement made by the Bishop of Winchester in another place. But these things are not evidence, and if this Measure has ever to be construed, particularly the monstrously inaccurate Part III, I have not the slightest doubt that whoever has to pronounce on it will find himself in the greatest difficulty.

As I have said, in view of the debate that has taken place, I am not going into those matters, but I should like the hon. Baronet to consider this point. These matters are and should be properly discussed by this House. We are recommending His Majesty to grant the Royal Assent to a Measure. It is a duty of ours to see that nothing slipshod gets through, and I hope that the Church Assembly—I myself am an active member of the Church of England Men's Society—will note the criticisms of drafting substance made by Sir Cyril Atkinson in the Assembly by my hon. Friend and by the hon. Member for Maldon (Mr. Driberg), and which I could duplicate a dozenfold. I trust that he will use what influence he has to see that future Church Assembly Measures which are brought before this House are put in a form which is acceptable to the courts of this land.


Mr. Eric Fletcher (Islington, East)

I very much hope that this debate will not degenerate into party exchanges, because obviously this is not a party question. I very much hope that the House will support the Measure as it has come to us from the Ecclesiastical Committee. We can all find fault with the draftsmanship of this Measure, and I think one could find fault with the draftsmanship of a great many Measures which come from the Church Assembly, but I do not think that is a reason which should induce us to reject it. After all, these Measures, and this one in particular, are primarily matters which affect the domestic concerns of the Church of England, and if they choose to draft their Measures in a way which does not come up to the perfection set in this House, that is a matter for which they will suffer and it need not be adduced as a reason for asking us to reject them.

This Measure has received a great deal of attention from the Church Assembly and the Ecclesiastical Committee. My hon. and learned Friend the Member for Hornchurch (Mr. Bing), in a very amusing speech, has suggested in effect that the Measure does not go far enough and that it differs in some degrees from the parallel Measure passed a few years ago for the purpose of disciplining incumbents. I personally doubt whether in a matter of this kind, when we are discussing the discipline of bishops and of clergymen, we can properly use the analogy of fair shares for all. What is important is that this Measure attempts to define the cases in which some measure of discipline can be brought to bear——

Mr. Bing

Would my hon. Friend agree with me that nothing could bring the Church into greater disrepute than if the bishops were in a position to use their office, without any disciplinary check, for the purpose of bringing political pressure to those who are placed under them?

Mr. Fletcher

I think it would be unfortunate if in any approach we made to this matter we should be unduly concerned about the incident which was brought to the notice of this House on Thursday last—an incident which I hope will become the subject of an inquiry at a later date, an incident which I personally resent at least as much as my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Hornchurch. I deprecate it very profoundly, but I do not personally share the view of my hon. Friend that that episode, which I regard with profound regret and misgiving and which I hope is unprecedented and quite exceptional, is sufficient ground for asking this House to reject this Measure. Even if it is a valid argument that this Measure does not deal with the cases which might occur, it does at any rate produce some improvement on the present position, because for the first time it clarifies the law about the extent to which some measure of discipline may be brought to bear on bishops.

The doubt I feel about the Measure is the ambiguity of its language, in particular with reference to Section 5. In view of the point my hon. Friend the Member for Maldon (Mr. Driberg) has raised, I think it is important to remind the House exactly what the Measure does provide in the way of political activities of bishops. If hon. Members will turn to the report of the Legislative Committee of the Church Assembly to the Ecclesiastical Committee of this House and another place, they will find these words in explanation of the last part of Section 5 of the Measure: It was felt that while no action should be taken against a bishop for his opinions, it was possible that his activities might amount to neglect of duty. If he chose to devote so much of his time to political or social activities that he failed to carry out his episcopal duties, it was highly undesirable that it should be impossible to take action. If that means anything it means, as I understand it, that if a bishop chooses to devote a great deal of his time to political and social activities and fails to carry out his episcopal duties, it would be possible for disciplinary action to be taken against him on the ground of persistent or continuous neglect of duty.

Mr. Driberg

Would my hon. Friend also deal with the point I raised about the misstatement of fact, which is a serious one, because it is the basis of the "fair shares" argument raised by the hon. Baronet the Member for Gravesend (Sir R. Acland)?

Mr. Fletcher

If I may continue what I was saying before I come to that point, the explanatory memorandum goes on: Social and political activities cannot be the ground for a charge of unbecoming conduct; but if they lead to neglect of duty they may enter into a complaint under that head. Where I think there is an innovation in this Measure—and I am not really concerned at the moment to express an opinion whether I agree with it, because I think it is primarily a matter for the Church authorities themselves—is that I think we have to remember that the bishops of the Church of England, or at any rate a great many of them, are by law established as Members of another place. [HON. MEMBERS: "Not all of them."] No not all; I said a great many—two Archbishops, three senior bishops, Winchester, Durham, London, and 26 other bishops in order of seniority.

They are Members of another place, and I think it is important to remember, as a matter of constitutional doctrine, that those Members of another place have not only a right but a duty to express their opinion on all social and political matters. They have just as much a right and duty as Members of this House have to express, whenever they think appropriate, their opinions by speech and vote on all controversial matters coming before another place. Until comparatively recently, opinions expressed on social matters by the bench of bishops have been regarded as of value to the community.

Mr. Blackburn

The hon. Member is going a little too far. It has always been the practice for the bishops to be independent and to express ecclesiastical views, their views as bishops. It has never been the practice for bishops to be members of a political party.

Mr. Fletcher

The hon. Member completely misunderstands the position. For generations it has been the right and duty of the bishops in another place to express their opinions on controversial matters. I do not want to enter into a controversy, but if I had to do so in answer to the hon. Member, I would say that the criticism that has been made, with considerable validity in the past, is that the bench of bishops have tended to exercise their vote in one political direction rather than in another. That may or may not be a coincidence, but I hope that bishops of the Church of England, like other impartial people, will move with the times and will reflect the general views of an advancing civilisation.

But the point is that surely it ought not to be thought, because of any language used in this Measure, that attention given by the bishops to social and political problems is necessarily any dereliction of any other part of their duties, and I hope that nothing that is said in this Measure will ever be so construed.

With regard to the point made by the hon. Member for Maldon, speaking for myself and also for the hon. Member for Aston (Mr. Wyatt), who also is a member of the Ecclesiastical Committee, and judging from the words of the report read by the hon. Member for Maldon, I think it is a fair criticism of the description in this memorandum of the Measure dealing with incumbents. But be it granted that there is some difference in the language used in this Measure from that used in the Incumbents (Discipline) Measure, I would still submit to the House that in itself and so far as it goes, this Measure is a very desirable clarification and improvement in the law as it stands; and because it has received the practically unanimous support of the Church Assembly, it is one which this House should endorse.

Mr. Driberg

In view of his concession to me, for which I am grateful, I would ask the hon. Member if he does not agree that the position is that an incumbent can still be proceeded against for unbecoming conduct in respect of political activities, but a bishop cannot?

11.33 p.m.

Mr. Assheton (Blackburn, West)

I thought it strange that certain hon. Members opposite should appear anxious to oppose a Measure which disciplines the bishops merely on the ground that it did not go far enough. I should have thought they would have been satisfied that at any rate a beginning has been made.

Mr. Bing

I apologise for interrupting the right hon. Member when he is just beginning, but will he deal with the point about which we on this side are most anxious to know? Would he agree with me that a bishop who used his office to bring political pressure on one of his incumbents should be disciplined?

Mr. Assheton

I do not propose to deal with that point further than to say that this is a Measure for the disciplining of bishops and if hon. Members do not think it goes far enough, they should be glad to see that some Measure has been brought forward for that purpose. As we cannot amend this Measure, we are not in a position to adopt the suggestion put before the House by the hon. and learned Member for Horn-church (Mr. Bing).

I sympathise with those hon. Members on this side who have made certain complaints about the drafting of the Measure. But let me deal with the point raised by the hon. Member for Maldon (Mr. Driberg). As a member, of the Ecclesiastical Committee, like the hon. Member for Islington, East (Mr. E. Fletcher), I was naturally anxious when I found some criticism levelled against the report of our Committee, a Committee which, as the House knows, contains members of both another place and of this House. It is a Committee which does its best to go into these matters carefully, and to understand them.

The comment of the hon. Member for Maldon was not really on the report of the Ecclesiastical Committee, but on the report which the Legislative Committee of the Church Assembly rendered to the Ecclesiastical Committee. I have been perusing that report since the hon. Member's speech, and have tried to make up my mind why, if at all, an error was made. If there is an error, I think it is a slight one, due perhaps to the attempt on the part of the draftsman of this report to compress some of the statements he was making. The words complained of by the hon. Member for Maldon are these: A Bishops (Retirement) Measure also dealing with both disability and discipline was passed at the same time but was not laid before Parliament because the Ecclesiastical Committee were of opinion that 'social and political opinions and activities' which in the Measures concerning Incumbents and Dignitaries were excluded as grounds for accusations of misconduct were not so excluded in the Bishops Measure. The fact is that in the case of the Incumbents' (Discipline) Measure, 1947, that is not quite accurate, but in the case of the Church Dignitaries (Retirement) Measure, 1949, it is so. In the Church Dignitaries (Retirement) Measure, the words: Social or political opinions or activities are referred to. In compressing into one sentence the statements of two different Measures, a slight error has perhaps been made by the draftsman of the report of the Legislative Committee.

Mr. Driberg

I am sorry to harp on this point, but I do not think it is quite so trivial. After all, the hon. Baronet commended this Measure to the House, by suggesting that it gave parity between incumbents and bishops.

Mr. Assheton

There is not exact parity between bishops and deans, but there is between bishops and incumbents, as far as I can see.

Mr. Bing


Mr. Assheton

In the Incumbents Measure there is reference in Section 2, subsection (ii), to the social or political opinions of incumbents. There again, in the appropriate Section in this Measure, there is reference in Section 5 (1, c) to the social or political opinions of a bishop. Looking at the Church Dignitaries Measure, one finds in Section 4 (1, b) reference to the social or political opinions or activities of a dignitary. I agree that there is not exact parity. Therefore, I dissociate myself from the argument that we are having fair shares. But that is not the kind of argument with which I wish to be associated. Therefore, it does not disturb me to be dissociated from it in this particular case.

I suggest to the hon. Member for Maldon that the fact that there may possibly have been some misunderstanding in the report of the Legislative Committee does not invalidate the report of the Ecclesiastical Committee, which is itself a Parliamentary Committee and has to report to this House. I do not think that if the Ecclesiastical Committee had considered that point, it would have made any different report. I think that hon. Members opposite who are on this Committee will agree with me over that. I think that the Measure should commend itself to the House in spite of the difficulties of drafting which have been referred to by hon. Members behind me, and I hope very much that the hon. Member for Maldon and the hon. and learned Member for Hornchurch (Mr. Bing) will remember that Parliament has given to the Church Assembly the right to legislate, subject to our final approval.

Parliament has delegated these powers to the Church Assembly. Frequently, what the Church Assembly has done has not wholly commended itself to this House, but the understanding is that we have given the Church of England a certain amount of freedom. They have brought forward this Measure. It does not go far enough to suit all hon. Members of this House, but it is considered by most hon. Members to be an advance. There may be some drafting difficulties in it, but on the whole I suggest that the House would be wise to do what we do as often as we can, and that is to accept a Measure which the Church Assembly has sent to us, and let it go forward, if possible, without a Division.

11.41 p.m.

The Secretary of State for the Home Department (Mr. Ede)

I rise only to make it quite clear, as I have had the question put to me, that, of course, the Government have no responsibility at all for this Measure. Any hon. Member is entitled to vote in any way he pleases and should there be a Division, it may even be that Members of the Government will go into different Lobbies, for there is no political issue involved here.

Apart from that, may I say that, speaking as a Nonconformist, I want to express my sympathy with the Church of England that it should have to have its Measures considered by this House, on matters concerning its internal organisation and discipline. There are many Nonconformists in this House. In fact, I rather suspect that the number of Conformists, if we had a very strict investigation, might be found to be surprisingly small, but there are a number of Nonconformists here and we realise it is a great disadvantage to any Church that it should have to have this kind of Measure debated in an assembly in which men of many faiths, and of none, participate.

If it is of any interest to anyone, I have been so impressed by the criticisms made by hon. Gentlemen opposite with regard to the drafting and efficiency of this Measure that, should there be a Division. I should not find myself able to vote for the Measure.

11.44 p.m.

Mr. Mitchison (Kettering)

I beg to move, "That the debate be now adjourned."

If I may give my reasons very shortly, they are these. I am all for fair shares in this matter, and I observe that on the Incumbents (Discipline) Measure the discussion began at 9.59 p.m., and that shortly before 11.22 p.m. a similar Motion was moved upon the grounds that many hon. Members still wanted to speak, the hour was late, and that outside the weather was inclement. All these conditions prevail today. Mr. Speaker accepted that Motion and, with respect, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, I hope you will accept mine. I have a more substantial reason—that having listened to this debate, I cannot avoid the conclusion that some of the opposition to this Measure has been put forward on such varied grounds that possibly if there were opportunity for further consideration, the opposition might be less definite next time.

Mr. Deputy-Speaker

The Question is, "That the debate be now adjourned."

Mr. Blackburn

May I speak, Sir?

Mr. Deputy-Speaker

The hon. Member may speak on that Motion.

Mr. Blackburn

I only wish to offer the observation that it would be certainly completely wrong for a vote to be taken now unless there has been a full opportunity to debate this matter. I go further and say that there are certain aspects, and far the gravest aspects of this matter, which have not been mentioned in any speech this evening and with which I shall venture to deal if I am called on the major issue.

If you accept the Motion, Sir, I defer to your Ruling. In any event there should be a full opportunity to discuss this matter. Once this matter had been determined by an affirmative vote this evening, there would be no Committee stage; we can only vote on it on the Motion.

Mr. Keeling (Twickenham)

I support the Motion that the debate be adjourned in order to give the hon. baronet the Member for Gravesend (Sir R. Acland) a chance to have another look at the Measure and see whether he does not agree with the Leader of the House that it is really extremely badly drafted. If he came to the same conclusion, he could withdraw his Motion and send the Measure back.

Mr. Driberg

May I support the Motion on the same grounds and also in the hope that my hon. Friend may do what his seconder tonight said that it would be impossible for him to do—take consultation with his colleagues, the supporters of this Measure, his fellow Church Commissioners and the Church Assembly, and find out if it is possible to accede in any way to our requests and meet the criticisms which have been made from this side as well as the other side of the House.

Mr. Reader Harris (Heston and Isleworth)

May I say that I oppose the adjournment of the debate because the House of Commons has very few occasions on which it can debate and examine these matters.

Sir R. Acland

I have little to say except that I hope the House will come to a decision tonight, and I believe that in those circumstances I may be able to say something which would not be unacceptable to my hon. Friend the Mem-

ber for Maldon (Mr. Driberg) in relation to drafting points. Although I am sure that the criticism made will be taken notice of by those who draft these Measures, I could not hold out any expectation that either now or at a later time, one would be able to suggest that the whole of the Measure should go back to the beginning of the whole Church Assembly procedure and come up in an entirely different form.

Mr. Angus Maude (Ealing, South)

I oppose the Motion for the adjournment of the debate on one ground only, that certain things have been said in this debate which went rather wide of the subject under discussion, and certain impressions may have been left which are misleading and which I think should be answered tonight. Certain impressions left in particular by the hon and learned Member for Hornchurch (Mr. Bing) would, I think, do great damage if allowed to simmer uncorrected. Therefore, I hope we shall be able to discuss the matter further.

Mr. Wyatt (Birmingham, Aston)

I also oppose the Motion, because if the debate tonight were adjourned, we would have to come back and have the same discussion all over again a few nights later. We might as well come to a decision tonight.

Question put, "That the debate be now adjourned."

The House divided: Ayes, 132; Noes, 128.

Division No. 60.] AYES [11.52 p.m.
Allen, A. C. (Bosworth) de Freitas, Geoffrey Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.)
Bacon, Miss A. Deer, G. Hutchinson, Geoffrey (Ilford, N.)
Balfour, A. Dodds, N. N. Hynd, H. (Accrington)
Bartley, P. Driberg, T. E. N. Irvine, A. J. (Edge Hill)
Benn, Hon. A. N. Wedgwood Dunglass, Lord Jones, D. T. (Hartlepool)
Beswick, F. Fernyhough, E. Jones, William Elwyn (Conway)
Bing, G. H. C. Field, Capt. W J. Keeling, E H.
Black, C. W. Finch, H. J. Kinghorn, Sqn.-Ldr. E
Blenkinsop, A. Lang, Rev. G.
Blyton, W. R. Foot, M. M. Lee, F. (Newton)
Boardman, H Freeman, J. (Watford) Lever, L. M. (Ardwick)
Bowles, F. G. (Nuneaton) Freeman, Peter (Newport) Lindgren, G. S.
Braddock, Mrs. E. M. Gibson, C. W. Lloyd, Rt. Hon. G. (King's Norten)
Brockway, A. Fenner Gitzean, A. Longden, F. (Small Heath)
Butler, H. W. (Hackney, S.) Glanville, J. E. (Consett) MacColl, J. E
Carmichael, James Gomme-Duncan, Col. A. McGhee, H. G.
Champion, A. J. Greenwood, Anthony W J. (Rossendale) McInnes, J
Clunie, J. Greenwood, Rt. Hon. Arthur (Wakefield) McKay, J. (Wallsend)
Cocks, F. S. Griffiths, D. (Rother Valley) MacPherson, Malcolm (Stirling)
Collindridge, F. Hall, J (Gateshead, W.) Mann, Mrs. J.
Cove, W. G. Hall, Rt. Hn. W. Glenvil (Colne V'll'y) Manuel, A. C
Craddock, George (Bradford, S.) Hamilton, W. W. Mathers, Rt. Hon. George
Crosland, C. A. R. Hannan, W. Mellish, R. J
Crossman, R. H. S Harrison, J. Mellor, Sir J.
Cullen, Mrs. A. Hewitson, Capt. M. Middleton, Mrs. L.
Darling, G. (Hillsboro) Holman, P. Mitchison. G. R.
Davies, Harold (Leek) Holmes, H E (Hemsworth) Moeran, E. W.
Davies, S. O, (Merthyr) Hudson, J. H. (Ealing, N.) Moody, A. S.
de Chair, S. Hughes, Emrys (S. Ayr) Morgan, Dr. H. B.
Morley, R. Robens, A. Timmons, J
Morris, P. (Swansea, W.) Robertson, J. J. (Berwick) Wallace, H. W
Mullay, F. W Robinson, Kenneth (St. Pancras, N) Wells, P. L. (Faversham)
Nally, W. Ropner, Col. L Wells, W. T. (Walsall)
Neal, H. Ross, William (Kilmarnock) West, D. G.
Paling, Will T. (Dewsbury) Scott, Donald White, H. (Derbyshire, N. E.)
Parker, J. Shackleton, E. A. A. Wigg, George
Poole, Cecil Simmons, C. J. Wilkins, W. A.
Popplewell, E. Slater, J. Williams, W T (Hammersmith, S.)
Porter, G. Smithers, Sir W. (Orpington) Winterbottom, I. (Nottingham, C.)
Proctor, W. T. Sorensen, R. W. Winterbottom, R E (Brightside)
Pryde, D. J. Stewart, Michael (Fulham, E.) Younger, Hon Kenneth
Pursey, Comdr. H. Sylvester, G. O.
Rankin, J. Taylor, H. B. (Mansfield) TELLERS FOR THE AYES:
Rees, Mrs. D. Thomas, D. E. (Aberdare) Mr. Donnelly and
Reid, W. (Camlachie) Thomas, I. R. (Rhondda, W) Mr. Ungoed-Thomas.
Rhodes, H. Thomas, I. O. (Wrekin)
Acland, Sir Richard Haire, John E. (Wycombe) Ormsby-Gore, Hon. W. D.
Aitken, W. T. Harden, J. R. E. Orr-Ewing, Charles Ian (Hendon, N.)
Alport, C. J. M. Hare, Hon. J. H. (Woodbridge) Pearson, A.
Amery, J. (Preston, N.) Hargreaves, A. Powell, J. Enoch
Anderson, A (Motherwell) Harris, F. W. (Croydon, N.) Price, M. Philips (Gloucestershire, W.)
Arbuthnot, John Harris, R. R. (Heston) Prior-Palmer, Brig. O.
Ashton, H. (Chelmsford) Harvie-Watt, Sir G. S. Raikes, H. V.
Assheton, Rt. Hon. R. (Blackburn, W.) Hay, John Redmayne, M.
Astor, Hon. M. Hayman, F. H. Remnant, Hon. P
Awbery, S. S. Heath, E. R. Renton, D. L. M.
Beamish, Maj. T. V. H Henderson, John (Cathcart) Roberts, Goronwy (Caernarvonshire)
Bishop, F. P. Hill, Dr. C. (Luton) Rodgers, John (Sevenoaks)
Blackburn, A. R Hollis, M. C. Smith, E. Martin (Grantham)
Boles, Lt.-Col. D. C. (Wells) Hope, Lord J. Smithers, Peter (Winchester)
Boyd-Carpenter, J. A. Houghton, Douglas Sparks, J. A
Boyle, Sir Edward Hudson, Sir Austin (Lewisham, N.) Spens, Sir P (Kensington, S.)
Brooke, H. (Hampstead) Hylton-Foster, H. B. Stanley, Capt. Hon. R. (N. Fylde)
Broughton, Dr A. D. D Jenkins, R, H Stoddart-Scott, Col M.
Buchan-Hepburn, P. G. T Jennings, R. Stokes, Rt. Hon. R. R.
Burke, W. A. Jones, Jack (Rotherham) Strauss, Henry (Norwich, S)
Butcher, H. W Keenan, W. Studhofine, H. G.
Coldrick, W Kenyon, C. Summers, G. S.
Collick, P. Kinley, J. Taylor, C. S. (Eastbourne)
Conant, Maj. R. J. E Lambert, Hon. G. Taylor, R. J. (Morpeth)
Cook, T. F. Lancaster, Col. C. G. Thomas, George (Cardiff)
Corbet, Mrs. F. K (Peckham) Langford-Holt, J. Thompson, K. P (Walton)
Crookshank, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. F. C. Lennox-Boyd, A. T. Thorneycroft, G. E. P (Monmouth)
Crosthwaite-Eyre, Cot. O E. Llewellyn, D. Vernon, Maj. W. F.
Crouch, R. F Longden, G. J. M. (Herts. S. W.) Ward, Miss I. (Tynemouth)
Crowder, Capt. John F. E. (Finchley) Lucas, Major Sir J. (Portsmouth, S.) Waterhouse, Capt. Rt. Hon. C.
Davies, A. Edward (Stoke, N.) Lucas-Tooth, Sir H. Wheatley, Major M. J. (Poole)
Deedes, W. F. McCorquodale, Rt. Hon. M. S. Wilkes, L.
Digby, S. Wingfield Mackeson, Brig. H. R. Willey, O. G. (Cleveland)
Donner, P. W. McKibbin, A. Williams, C. (Torquay)
Duncan, Capt. J. A. L MacLeod, Iain (Enfield, W.) Williams, Sir H. G. (Croydon, E.)
Dye, S. MacLeod, John (Ross and Cromarty) Williams, Ronald (Wigan)
Ede, Rt. Hon. J. C. Macmillan, Rt. Hon. Harold (Bromley) Wilson, Geoffrey (Truro)
Fletcher, W. (Bury) Marlowe, A. A. H. Wilson, Rt. Hon. J. H. (Huyton)
Fort, R. Marshall, D. (Bodmin) Wood, Hon. R.
Foster, J. G. Maude, A. E. U. (Ealing, S.) Wyatt, W. L.
Fraser, Sir I. (Morecambe & Lonsdale) Nabarro, G.
Fraser, T. (Hamilton) Nicholls, H. TELLERS FOR THE NOES:
Galbraith, T. G. D. (Hillhead) Nutting, Anthony Mr. Nicholson and
Grimston, Hon. J (St. Albans) Oakshott, H. D. Mr. Eric Fletcher.

Question put, and agreed to.

Debate to be resumed Tomorrow.