§ 5.28 p.m.
§ Mr. Eric Fletcher (Islington, East)
I beg to move, in page 1, line 18, at the end, to insert:and that reciprocal arrangements have been made by the Government of that country.The purpose of this Amendment is to ensure that the principle of reciprocity shall apply in the provisions of this Bill. I do not suggest that reciprocity is an ideal solution. Indeed, I think this is a bad Bill in that it contains a great many imperfections and unnecessary limitations on the liberty of the subject, and that it goes a great deal further than is required to give effect to the agreement regarding the forces of parties to the North Atlantic Treaty. As we go through the Bill in Committee, we shall have an opportunity of showing the extent to which the provisions of this Bill are, at any rate in my view, quite unnecessary.
1055 This Amendment is aimed merely at ensuring what I think will be generally agreed is desirable—that, if we are going to make these changes, they should only be made on the basis of full reciprocity. Even that, of course, although it may sound satisfactory, is not really very satisfactory, for this reason. If this Bill is passed, it will create exemptions from the criminal law and, to some extent the civil law, of this country, in favour of large numbers of American troops.
No one wishes to say a word in detraction from the admirable discipline which is enforced by the American forces in this country over their troops; but one has to consider that if this Bill becomes law it may in due course apply to forces of a great many other nationalities as well. The Amendment would not be worth a great deal as regards America because we are very unlikely ever to have anything like the same number of British troops in the United States as they are likely to have here.
On the other hand, we have large British forces in other countries which are not affected in any way by this Bill, for example, Japan and Western Germany. It would be intolerable if we changed the law of this country in such a way that while we exempted foreign troops from the ordinary obligations of being subject to our criminal law, we did not at the same time take adequate steps to see that British Forces serving elsewhere had a similar kind of protection and were made amenable, in similar cases, to British courts. I would remind the Committee of what has happened in a recent notorious case in Japan. Germany is another instance.
As I understand it, we are passing this Bill in order to change our law before any other country has passed similar legislation. I do not understand why it is necessary for us to grant the exemption which this Bill will give in advance of similar alterations being made by the other countries concerned. The only object of this Amendment is to ensure that this Bill is not brought into operation in respect of any other country by Order in Council until that other country has made similar provisions in its own legislative arrangements for the benefit of our troops stationed there.
1056 I am anxious to ensure that we shall not have the worst of all the worlds. As things stand, British troops stationed overseas are liable, I think it may be argued quite properly, to stand their trial if they commit a criminal offence in the course of their service in that country. The same rule, based upon this principle of reciprocity, should apply here, and foreign troops should not be exempted from obedience to our laws except as part of an international rule of universal application.
I think that the same principle should apply when we come to deal with the position in regard to civil offences. For example, whereas there is considerable difficulty today in a British soldier getting redress if he is injured in a foreign country, foreign personnel serving here have full rights under our civil law.
Equally, I hope we shall, at a later stage, ensure that if any British civilian suffers any injury from any foreign service personnel, he will have at least the same rights of redress and the same rights of being represented, if the offence is prosecuted, wherever it is prosecuted, as he would have if the offence were committed by a British civilian.
The point is obviously one of very great importance to all citizens of this country, because an instance of what is likely to arise under this Bill, unless we are very careful, is reported in today's "Daily Express." It is a typical example of the kind of case with which we shall have to deal.
A Mr. Wilfred Cobb, a farmer, was arrested by American Service men on a spy-hunt exercise. He said he had never been through such a shameful experience. He was met by two American airmen who were engaged in an exercise looking for infiltrating spies. Mr. Cobb, an honest, ordinary, law-abiding British citizen, was marched with his hands above his head to another building. He was then searched and told that if they found anything he would be shot. Rifles were pointed at his back the whole time. He was then ordered to sit on the grass, and one man guarding him was told to shoot him if he moved.
That is what can happen when we have American troops performing manœuvres in this country.
§ Mr. Fletcher
That is the kind of thing which happens, and that is the kind of situation with which we are dealing in order to see what rights such a person will have under this Bill. We have to see whether persons who committed that offence will be amenable to the ordinary criminal courts of this country; whether this man will have the same kind of civil rights as he would have had if anybody else had treated him in this shameful way.
It is no mitigation of the indignity the man suffered for him to be told subsequently by officers concerned that they considered the matter a huge joke. This man suffered and is entitled to redress. As we go through this Bill, I wish to ensure that this Amendment and others which will be moved will ensure that people who are unfortunately victims, no doubt in all good faith, of American Service men engaging in manœuvres in this country, have their full rights properly protected.
§ Mr. S. Silverman
On a point of order. I was wondering, Mr. Hopkin Morris, whether you could indicate your intention, if any, in regard to an Amendment of mine to add a new subsection (5):(5) No such Order in Council shall take effect, or purport to take effect, unless and until the Minister of Defence or other appropriate Minister has certified that satisfactory reciprocal arrangements have been made with the Government of the designated country.That is designed to meet the same kind of point. If it is not your intention to call it, I would respectfully ask leave to speak now, and even if it is your intention to call it, I suggest that it would be for the convenience of the Committee if the two Amendments were considered together.
The Deputy-Chairman (Mr. Hopkin Morris)
I agree, if that meets with the wish of the Committee. I did not intend to call the hon. Member's Amendment, but it can be discussed with the Amendment that is before the Committee.
§ Mr. Silverman
There will be no dispute, I think, in principle about the object which the Amendment is intended to serve. I do not profess to speak for anybody but myself, and certainly not for anybody on the other side of the Committee, but I should have thought that, in principle, the Government would be in favour of it also.
1058 I am sure that it would never be their intention to enact alterations in our law in this direction unless it were on the basis of reciprocity with the other countries concerned. I agree with my hon. Friend the Member for Islington, East (Mr. E. Fletcher) that even if it were fully reciprocal, I do not know that I should like the Bill very much better, but I think everybody on all sides of the Committe is agreed on the assumption that if we are to have any or all of these arrangements, they are tolerable, if at all, only on the basis that they are reciprocal.
The difficulty has been to know how to make them reciprocal. I find a difficulty in my hon. Friend's Amendment. It seems to me to be that if we are to adopt the Amendment which my hon. Friend has moved, we shall be saying to other countries with whom we make arrangements of this kind, "You do it first." That is what the Amendment means. Until they have already done it, we shall not do it. And if they take exactly the same view and say, "No, we will not do it first, you do it first," then indeed no effect would be given to the arrangements at all. However satisfactory that might be to my hon. Friend the Member for Islington, East and myself, others might not think it satisfactory.
§ Mr. R. T. Paget (Northampton)
Surely this is quite a simple arrangement. In order to bring this N.A.T.O. arrangement into operation, there has to be a separate agreement with each participant. That separate agreement should provide that this will be brought into operation simultaneously in both countries. There is no difficulty about that.
§ Mr. Silverman
I entirely agree. That is the object which all of us have in mind, but—and I may be quite wrong—what I fear about this arrangement is that it does not bring these things into operation simultaneously but insists upon priority by the other party to the arrangements. If that is the true meaning, I would not expect the other party to accept it. I should prefer to do this by incorporating in the Bill, a subsection (5) to this Clause to say:No such Order in Council"—that is, the Order in Council which designates a particular country and 1059 applies these arrangements to that designated country—shall take effect, … until the Minister of Defence or other appropriate Minister has certified that satisfactory reciprocal arrangements have been made with the Government of the designated country.The difference between the two proposals is that whereas my hon. Friend the Member for Islington, East, would like to put that in at this stage into this Clause, I say that that might create a difficulty by seeming to demand priority from the other side, whereas if we put exactly the same provisions into the Order in Council then we can make the Order in Council but leave it inoperative until the Minister is in a position so to certify.
Subject to argument, I think that that carries out the object which my hon. Friend has in mind in a way which imposes no hardship and creates no difficulty in regard to any other contracting party but does insure that any amendment of the law which we ourselves make shall remain dormant, as it were, until the Minister is able to certify that reciprocal arrangements have been made. I do not know whether either of these proposals commend themselves to the Government. I notice that there is no Amendment down on behalf of the Government. I should have thought that, this being a matter in which everybody is agreed in principle, it might be possible to work out some agreed machinery satisfactory to all of us to secure that end.
§ Mr. A. J. Irvine (Liverpool, Edge Hill)
I should like to express my agreement with the observations made by my hon. Friend the Member for Nelson and Colne (Mr. S. Silverman). I conceive that it is desired generally in the Committee that reciprocity should take effect, and my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Northampton (Mr. Paget) indicated that it was a most desirable thing that the granting of these arrangements by the sending and receiving countries should take effect simultaneously.
I must confess that it seems to me that the Amendment moved by my hon. Friend the Member for Islington, East (Mr. E. Fletcher) does not provide, or indeed make it possible, for this concession to take effect simultaneously, because 1060 the creation of the privilege in this country only takes effect after arrangements have been made by the sending country. The expression "have been" in the Amendment seems to me inconsistent with "simultaneously."
§ 5.45 p.m.
§ Mr. Paget
Surely the answer is that we make the arrangements and give legislative sanction to what we grant, but those arrangements may provide for their being in operation on a certain date. We want to be satisfied that the arrangements have been made, and then they come into force on the same date. I think that that covers it.
§ Mr. Irvine
I see the point which my hon. and learned Friend has in mind, but I still feel that of the two methods proposed on the Order Paper for meeting this difficulty, the suggestion of my hon. Friend the Member for Nelson and Colne is the more satisfactory because it is less open to doubt upon the point. I should have thought that it was manifestly easier to make the procedure by way of the Order in Council in this country and whatever is the procedure in the sending country coinciding. That is very much easier than to attempt to establish the principle of simultaneous action in the body of the Bill. On the principle of reciprocity, I imagine that there is very general agreement, and I hope that we shall hear from the Government that, in particular, the suggestion made by my hon. Friend the Member for Nelson and Colne will receive sympathetic consideration.
§ Mr. John Strachey (Dundee, West)
I hope that the Home Secretary will give us some form of assurance on this matter of reciprocity, because I think that perhaps it is the one point with which we are more concerned than almost any other, or as much as any other, in this Bill. I do not pretend to be any kind of legal authority to be able to say how it ought to be done, but I should have thought that there were obvious ways in which it could be done.
As I understand it, this matter is fairly complicated because not only does the Bill need a Special Order in Council to become operative in respect of any particular country—that is under earlier Clauses—but also, under Clause 19 (2), it does not come into effect at all until an 1061 Order in Council is made; but, as I understand it, if such an Order in Council is made under Clause 19 (2), bringing the Bill into operation in respect of any country, European or N.A.T.O., then automatically and ipso facto it comes into operation in respect of the United States, which is perhaps the important example here because of the numbers of American troops in this country. For at the moment the Bill comes into operation it replaces the 1942 Act which at present regulates the status of American troops in this country.
What concerns me on this issue of reciprocity is what stage the American Government have reached in this matter. It is important that Her Majesty's Government should tell us, and they have not done so yet. They did not say on Second Reading whether the American Government are, at any rate, moving in step with us. As I understood from discussions in another place, some legislation was put before Congress on this subject, but so far as I know—and I hope I shall be corrected if I am wrong—that legislation was not enacted in the last Congress, and Congress rose without doing anything about it at all.
I think that it is fair to say that we all know that what a new Congress will do must be a matter of speculation. A new Congress is not even elected yet. So we do seem to be moving a good hit ahead. I do not think that matters yet, because the Bill does not become operative when it goes on the Statute Book. It needs an Order in Council to bring it into operation. We should like to be assured that it will not come into operation in respect of any country—because that involves the United States—until the United States, I do not say have completed, but at least are well on the way to completing, this process.
I know that there is an argument against that. It is worth noting. It might be argued that it would be a good thing for us to bring this Bill into operation vis-à-vis the United States quite unilaterally and without regard to anything which the United States Government were doing—because it is the case that as compared with the existing state of things under the 1942 Act, this Bill would mean a very considerable improvement in our position. I do not deny that for a moment. Nevertheless, I think it would be a mistake to 1062 do that. I think that it is a mistake to make that relatively small improvement in the present position and to run ahead in the mere hope that the American Congress will take parallel action.
I should have thought that it would be better, on the whole, to let the 1942 Act run on a bit longer. It has been in operation now for 10 years and it would not matter if it were kept in operation a few months longer, and this Bill will not be brought into operation until and unless we were assured that the American Congress and other member States of N.A.T.O. were moving in step with us.
Onerous and unpleasant as some of the provisions of the Bill are—as we all felt on Second Reading—they become quite intolerable unless they are fully reciprocated, and I cannot see the people of this country supporting a permanent Statute. The 1942 Act was never meant to be permanent, and yet here we are doing something for good—or for a long period—and I very much dislike the idea of running ahead of the action which is taken by other Governments.
That is not a reason against the passing of the Bill, because it can be suspended; in fact, it is suspended until an Order in Council is brought in. But there is a reason for not passing the Bill unless we have really adequate assurances that the Government does not mean to bring it into operation vis-à-vis any other State—and in particular America—until they have that assurance.
§ Mr. S. Silverman
Will my right hon. Friend appreciate that under my Amendment we could have the Bill now without involving ourselves in any legislation or any alteration of the law until reciprocal arrangements have been made? What my Amendment requires is that when the Order in Council—which is in any case necessary—comes to be drafted, it shall not provide a date on which it comes into effect until the arrangement with regard to a particular country has been made.
§ Mr. Strachey
That undoubtedly ties the Government to doing what I am suggesting here, but if the Government in some way or another will give us assurances that they are going to do that, that is the main thing for which we on this side of the Committee are asking.
§ The Secretary of State for the Home Department (Sir David Maxwell Fyfe)
I have great sympathy with the point of view which has expressed itself in the speeches which the Committee have heard. Therefore, I propose to deal with the substance of the Amendment. The hon. Member for Islington, East (Mr. E. Fletcher) will appreciate that there is a technical difficulty in the method of the framing of his Amendment, as it might be read as referring to reciprocal arrangements of defence. I say that with regard to the technical position, but I am not going to deal with the Amendment on any such short view. I want to deal with the subject because it is one of great importance.
I will deal with another preliminary point as to the actual wording, and that is the basis of the Amendment that reciprocal arrangements have been made. I find this difficult to accept. I think it was the hon. Member for Edge Hill (Mr. Irvine) who pointed out that one comes to the old metaphysical abstraction, what is the complete identity of time? Apart from that, there is the broader point which has some political significance and which is expressed in the old quatrain with which you, Mr. Hopkin Morris, are very familiar:Lord Chatham with his sword undrawn,Kept waiting for Sir Richard Strachan;Sir Richard, eager to be at 'em,Kept waiting, too—for whom?—Lord Chatham.That is the practical point which I think the hon. Member for Nelson and Colne (Mr. S. Silverman) had in mind in introducing the time factor.
The important point is that we should be sure that the Government are satisfied that there will be reciprocal arrangements and I hope that, on consideration, the Committee will be satisfied with the undertaking that I am proposing to give. The right hon. Member for Dundee, West (Mr. Strachey) said that he hoped there would be some assurance and, if I may say so with respect, that is entirely right. I am in a position to give an undertaking to the effect that Her Majesty's Government will, subject to the exemption which I shall mention in a moment, not apply the Measure to any foreign country until they are satisfied that the country can guarantee to offer reciprocal treatment to British Forces visiting its territory.
1064 The exemption relates to the United States of America. The point has been adumbrated by the right hon. Gentleman and I hope that the Committee will bear with me if I explain at a little greater length the difficulty that arises. There is the question of fact that was pointed out by the hon. Member for Islington, East, that there is not likely to be any factual case for reciprocity in that the number of our troops that would be stationed in the United States is not likely to be large. I entirely agree.
But the matter goes rather deeper than that. As the right hon. Gentleman pointed out, when the Measure comes into force, the Allied Forces Act, 1940, and the United States of America (Visiting Forces) Act, 1942, will immediately be repealed unless a highly artificial course is taken and Clause 18 is brought into operation only in part.
Therefore, I should like the Committee to consider broadly the alternative which seems to Her Majesty's Government to be preferable, namely, to apply the provisions of the Bill to the United States of America. The question which the Committee will have in mind in that regard is that of evaluating the gain to us by so doing. At the moment I would remind the Committee that the United States has exclusive jurisdiction with regard to her forces and the jurisdiction of our own courts is completely ousted.
That was the position about which I and those hon. Members whose memories are sufficiently long can remember the hon. Member for Nelson and Colne making an emphatic protest in 1941 or 1942 when the United States of America (Visiting Forces) Bill was before the House. Whatever defects hon. Members may see in the present Bill, it is a great advance on that position and I have no doubt that the previous Government, when negotiating this agreement, had that point in mind and also had in mind the feelings expressed by the hon. Member. That is why the position has been changed from one of exclusive jurisdiction for the United States forces to one of concurrent jurisdiction with the primary rights being distributed as I explained on Second Reading. It is a great improvement from that aspect that in all except three excluded cases the primary jurisdiction should be that of this country.
1065 I think it would be unfortunate if we were not to take advantage of that position. It is quite right, as the right hon. Gentleman pointed out, that Canada has actually passed the legislation, so that is obviously desirable that we should bring this Bill into operation. In the case of France, as many hon. Members will appreciate, ratification immediately makes the provisions of the Treaty binding under French law. Therefore, if we bring it in in relation to France, it will be necessary for this portion to come into operation. I think that would be to the benefit of the operation and administration of the law and also to the benefit of the standpoint which hon. Members opposite have advanced.
The point has been put forward: what about the position of the United States? The Government contemplate that if the course is taken of applying the Visiting Forces Act to the United States forces, even although at the time of application the United States Government were not in a position to give reciprocity, the balance would be right. In addition, we should be in this position: it would involve terminating the present arrangement with the United States of America whereby their visiting forces exercise the exclusive jurisdiction of which I have spoken. We think this could and should be done by giving the United States Government reasonable notice of our intention.
With regard to all other countries, I give the undertaking fully. As I have said, the Government will not apply the Act to any foreign country until they are satisfied that that country can guarantee to afford reciprocal treatment. In regard to the United States, after a very careful consideration of the points which have been advanced, we believe that the balance of advantage to our people and to the administration of justice in our country is in applying the Act and in that way getting the better position which the late Government were able to negotiate in the agreement which forms the basis of this Bill.
I am not advising the Committee not to accept the Amendment on any technical ground. That is because I want to meet it, although there are technical difficulties. But I am asking the Committee to accept this undertaking as sufficient to meet the feeling which is in all our minds and also, on reflection, to 1066 accept the view that it would be better to make the advances which I suggest. I therefore ask the hon. Member in those circumstances not to press this Amendment.
§ Mr. E. Fletcher
In his undertaking with regard to foreign countries, the right hon. and learned Gentleman has referred specifically to Canada. Could he tell us whether he is satisfied that reciprocal arrangements in fact exist in regard to the other Commonwealth countries?
§ Sir D. Maxwell Fyfe
The position, as I understand it, is that they have not passed legislation at the present time as Canada has passed it, but they did pass legislation corresponding to our 1933 Act, which of course dealt with Commonwealth countries. Under that legislation we are in a position that broadly—I am not going to guarantee it as to details—reciprocal treatment is being given to our forces and has been given since about the time of the 1933 Act.
§ Mr. S. Silverman
I regret to say that for my part I cannot accept the undertaking the right hon. and learned Gentleman has given. It seems to me that it is an undertaking with no substance of any kind in it. There are no visiting forces in this country at the moment except United States forces. No one contemplates that in the near future there will be any visiting forces in this country except United States forces. There may possibly be some, but it is not immediately in contemplation and the practical politics of the matter are that these arrangements and this Bill to carry them out are purely for the United States visiting forces in this country.
What the right hon. and learned Gentleman is saying to us is, "I will give you the undertaking about reciprocity which you require with regard to all the countries which have no visiting forces and are not likely to have visiting forces here in the foreseeable future, but I will not give you the undertaking you want in regard to the only country which has visiting forces here now and which is likely to have visiting forces here for some time." That means that there is no practical undertaking about reciprocity at all.
What the right hon. and learned Gentleman is saying is, "Reciprocity with everybody else but not reciprocity with the only country—namely, the United States 1067 of America—which these arrangements actually affect as a matter of practical politics at the moment," What does he offer as a reason for that? He says, "With regard to the United States of America, we do not need reciprocity." If we do not need reciprocity, there is no reason to pay all this lip-service to the principle of reciprocity. But why do we not need it; why are we prepared to give concessions of this kind except on a reciprocal basis?
§ Sir D. Maxwell Fyfe
I am very sorry if I have conveyed a wrong impression. I did not mean we should never get reciprocity; I meant that we should get it as quickly as possible. The right hon. Gentleman opposite was quite right in what he said. The matter came before the Senate—I know I shall be corrected if I am wrong, but my recollection is that the Senate comes into all treaty-making matters, apart from legislation—but it was not dealt with and cannot be dealt with until Congress sits again.
The point I was putting—I am sure the hon. Member will take it from me that it was what I intended to put—was that we need not do this at once, but, of course, we should continue to seek reciprocity from the United States and, so far as I know, we shall get it when Congress meets again.
§ Mr. Silverman
I am much obliged to the right hon. and learned Gentleman for what he has said. It does clear up what to my mind was an ambiguity. It may be my fault. I take it that what the right hon. and learned Gentleman is now saying is, "We are not saying at all that there should not be reciprocity in this matter between ourselves and the United States of America. Everything we have said about the correctness of the principle of reciprocity applies as much to the United States of America as to any other country." If the right hon. and learned Gentleman says that, then I am afraid I do not see why he should not include that country in the undertaking which he gave.
I understand that his real difficulty now is not a difficulty of principle—the principle is accepted—but that it is a time difficulty. He is saying that if we make that undertaking apply to the United States, those arrangements will not come into force until they are ready 1068 and it is unlikely that they will be ready until January or after, and that is the practical point. Then, I say to the right hon. and learned Gentleman, let us wait. It is not long to wait, and if the United States want these arrangements, as I am sure they do, then I do not see why we should abandon the capacity we have for saying to them "Come along; do your part; do your share"—as we should be abandoning it if we had already implemented the arrangement ourselves.
It may well be that reciprocity is not so popular in the United States as it is in the United Kingdom. I do not know. But supposing it were a little less popular, then if we implement the arrangement now we have absolutely no means whatever of securing an early legislative act in the United States of America to apply the same provisions there. If we do not do it now, then the new Congress will be faced with it as an immediate problem which it will have to solve. If we do it now, then the new Congress may face a great many matters which it may quite reasonably regard as having priority over this one.
What follows if we wait? The right hon. and learned Gentleman says, "Oh, well, we shall have the worse position of the 1942 Act." I hope he will enlighten me. Everybody seems to proceed upon the assumption that the 1942 Act is still valid. I should like to know why it is valid. The 1942 Act was a war-time Act. I have not got it in front of me, but I seem to remember that it was passed for the duration of the war. If I am right about that, then I think we ought to bear in mind that the war is over, and not merely that it has been over for seven years but that 12 or 18 months ago we actually proclaimed the end of the state of war with Germany, and that we have quite recently ratified a treaty of peace with Japan. But if the 1942 Act was, as I seem to remember, valid and operative for the duration of the war, the war is over and it is not valid now. Am I wrong?
§ Sir D. Maxwell Fyfe
The hon. Gentleman is wrong. I think that what he had in mind was an expression of opinion that it probably would last only a short time after the war. But it is not in the Act.
§ Mr. Silverman
I have not the Act here to look it up, and I should not dream 1069 of detaining the Committee while I did so, but if it is not in the Act, I take it that it has always the intention. I cannot imagine that the House of Commons in 1942 would have passed an Act, which it passed with some reluctance even then, unless it was assured that it was a war-time Measure and nothing but a war-time Measure. It is seven years afterwards, and if the validity of it has not been brought to an end with the cessation of hostilities and the ratification of a treaty of peace and the proclamation of the end of the war with Germany, then I think we ought to terminate it now. There is no reason whatever why people on our soil should not be subject to the jurisdiction of our courts, except by reciprocal arrangement.
§ Mr. Silverman
I am afraid I do not follow. It has been a large part of the right hon. and learned Gentleman's argument that one reason why we could not wait for reciprocity in the case of the United States of America is that it does not pay us to do so, and that it does not pay us to do so because if we do not pass this Bill we shall have the 1942 Act. What I am saying is that we can get out of that difficulty by not having the 1942 Act. I am dealing expressly and explicitly with the argument he put forward.
§ 6.15 p.m.
I may, perhaps, be wrong, but I think that the hon. Gentleman was dealing with the repealing of the 1942 Act.
§ Mr. Silverman
I agree that this is not the time to answer that, though I think it should be repealed, but what I am saying is that if the right hon. and learned Gentleman has any difficulty—which he said he was in—he can get out of that difficulty, not by accepting this Measure, but by repealing that one, which is the method I should prefer. I am dealing expressly with the argument which the right hon. and learned Gentleman made.
I am not of the opinion that this is so much better a Measure than the 1942 Act. It is better in some respects, but 1070 in a great many respects it is not. It extends to classes not covered by the 1942 Act. I say to the right hon. and learned Gentleman that if he accepts the principle of reciprocity in the case of the United States of America, as he assures us he does—and I am sure he does—then there is nothing in the argument he put forward which dispenses with reciprocity in that case. Let us have reciprocity, and not go on with legislation until we do.
I am not saying we should not pass the Bill. Pass it by all means. I am not saying we should not give the right hon. and learned Gentleman and the Government the power to designate the United States of America or any other country to which the Measure shall apply at such time and in such degree as the Government of the day think proper. What I am saying is that if they accept the principle of reciprocity, let it apply to the United States as it applies to every other country.
§ Mr. Geoffrey Bing (Hornchurch)
I hope that the Home Secretary will yield to some of the arguments that have been put. I do not want to put it offensively, but I would say to him, "Stand up to the United States of America in this matter." One of the troubles we have had is that we have often sat back on the ground that there would be subsequent reciprocity, and there has not been reciprocity at all. One example of that was our concession in regard to the effects of our policy for visas for United States citizens on the understanding, as I remember the late Mr. Ernest Bevin saying in the House at that time, that there was to be some reciprocity and that this was to be part of a general relaxation of visas. Far from there being any relaxation of visas, we have had all sorts of people, like Mr. Graham Greene and people of that sort, prevented from going into the United States.
As I understand the right hon. and learned Gentleman, the position at present is that the treaty upon which this Bill is based has not yet been ratified by the Senate. But even when the treaty is ratified, what undertaking have we that any legislation in the United States will be introduced to implement it, or can be under the United States constitution?
I should like to hear from the right hon. and learned Gentleman whether he has some advice from the Government's 1071 no doubt able advisers in Washington that any such legislation giving equivalent powers can in fact be introduced in the United States; because otherwise it is nonsense for the right hon. and learned Gentleman to come forward and talk of reciprocity—unless he is certain that such legislation can in fact, under the United States constitution, be introduced. That is the first question that I hope he will answer for us. Has he an assurance that under the American constitution similar legislation to this being introduced here can in fact be introduced in America without amendment of the constitution?
That is a point of some importance, because I think it should be made clear to the right hon. and learned Gentleman that any alliance which takes place between great Powers can only be—I hope, at any rate, so far as this great Power is concerned—on the basis of equality, and it is quite impossible for the right hon. and learned Gentleman to come here and to ask, in this matter or in other matters, that we should concede in this country things which our allies are unprepared to concede to us in their countries. I do not think that my hon. Friends would stand for an arrangement by which we make concessions in our own country to our allies in a common cause when our allies are not prepared so to do on their side.
In principle, it does not matter whether this is something which affects one, one hundred or one thousand British troops in the United States. What we want to know, and what this Committee is entitled to know, is not whether the United States are going to ratify this treaty, but whether, when they have ratified it, it is possible for them to introduce legislation to implement it in their country. If that is possible, what are the plans for the introduction of that legislation? Have they received the support of the present party in power? Have they received the support of the party which may be in power in January? Is there any bipartisan policy on this question?
My hon. Friend the Member for Islington, East (Mr. E. Fletcher) referred to an article in the "Daily Express," and I will only just refer once again to the point there made. One gets cases of this sort where British people are treated in what appears on the surface—there may 1072 be all sort of explanations—to be a harsh and arbitrary way and have no redress. If people are to be told they must put up with this, we must also be able to say to them, "Don't worry. They have conceded to us the right to do exactly those things in their country. If by some change in the law the person who has treated you in this way cannot be prosecuted, it is exactly the same for us in their country. This is an arrangement we have made, which is equal on either side."
I hope the Home Secretary will now be able to tell us, yes or no, whether under the American constitution such legislation giving jurisdiction over foreign subjects can be enacted in the United States, because otherwise any promise to get reciprocity is absolute nonsense. Surely the right hon. and learned Gentleman has come to the Committee equipped with that information before giving a promise that he will get reciprocity. Secondly, will he tell us what promises from the present American Administration and from the other parties have been given that legislation will be introduced to implement this agreement if and when it is ratified by the Senate?
§ Mr. Paget
This debate has been of great value if only because it has enabled us to find out that apparently the Government are putting forward these proposals on the basis that they expect to receive reciprocity from the United States. That is what I understood the right hon. and learned Gentleman to tell us, that he expected it. He has now been undeceived, because whatever else is certain it is that he will not get reciprocity from the United States. The United States Government are in no position to grant it.
§ Mr. Paget
Then I am afraid I must have been very dense when the right hon. and learned Gentleman was speaking, because that is what I understood him to say. He told us about Lord Chatham and Sir Richard Strachan, and about the difficulty of each waiting for the other. He said that because of the 1942 Act it was our intention to introduce this first, and then I understood him to say, "because the Americans are going to 1073 make reciprocal arrangements. It is just a question of time." Is that not what the right hon. and learned Gentleman said?
§ Mr. Paget
Then we are at one, and it is extremely important that he should now realise that the Americans are going to do nothing of the sort, and that they cannot do anything of the sort. That is one of the difficulties of American law and the American constitution. The treaty will become binding as between Government and Government when it has been ratified by the United States Senate, but the fact that it is ratified as between Government and Government does not make it binding upon any individual citizen; nor does it take away from the individual citizen the rights which every American citizen enjoys under the constitution.
Those rights are rights which are quite inconsistent with, for instance, Clause 3 of this Bill. There is the right of every American to take his complaint, whether it be a criminal or civil complaint, to the courts of the United States, and no governmental treaty can deprive the individual American of that. We are depriving our individual citizens of that right by this Bill. The individual American citizen cannot be deprived of that right save by an amendment of the constitution, so that, if the Home Secretary really is under the impression that he has been promised reciprocity, we should like to know who has given him an undertaking to introduced an amendment to the American constitution and when that amendment is going to be brought forward, because within their existing constitution they cannot grant reciprocity here.
§ Mr. George Wigg (Dudley)
I do not know whether my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Northampton (Mr. Paget) is right or not, but I am certain of one thing, and that is that if the United States are faced with having Armed Forces of Her Majesty serving in that country and do not quickly pass a Measure similar to this, they will be extremely stupid. In the same way, I think that the present Government are wise to try to get a Measure like this on the Statute Book. Clearly, if a body of foreign troops is serving in this country 1074 it is far better that they should serve under their own code of discipline than be amenable to the courts of this country.
I can understand that in certain circumstances an aggrieved British subject may feel that it would be far better if an offending American soldier were hauled before the British courts. Suppose a brawl takes place on a Saturday night, a British subject hits an American and the American hits the British subject. If the British subject is taken before the magistrate and fined, or perhaps even sent to prison, the thought may occur to him, "What has happened to the American?"
Under our own code, for a British soldier to fight a citizen of a foreign country in which he happens to serve is a much more serious offence under the military code than under the civil code. Obviously an American commander, just like a British commander who has British troops serving in America, is very concerned about the reputation of the troops under his command and the maintenance of discipline. It would not be much use unless he had effective control, and, quite apart from the legal arguments and these hair-splitting questions about the constitution of the United States, it is of paramount importance that American commanders should have control of their forces here.
I naturally hope very much that the Home Secretary will be able to get a reciprocal arrangement, but in saying that I am really only giving vent to that rather adolescent emotional feeling that if we give the Americans something they ought to give us something back. However, I am not at all sure that it works quite like that. We want a businesslike arrangement which takes account of legitimate grievances which British subjects may suffer as a result of the American troops being here.
For example, what happens if a British subject has the misfortune to be run down by a jeep? To whom does he look for recompense? Does he look to the American forces or to the Minister of Defence? The point which we are really discussing is who is to control the forces, and it seems to me that if we push the argument of my hon. and learned Friend too far, we find ourselves faced with his position—are they to 1075 be effectively controlled by the American commander or by the chairman of the bench of magistrates in the area in which they are serving? I prefer that effective control shall rest in the hands of the American commander.
§ Mr. S. Silverman
I do not know how much time the hon. Member for Dudley (Mr. Wigg) has had to read the provisions of this Bill, but if he has had the time to do so, he will no doubt realise that the provisions of the Bill go a very long way beyond what is necessary merely to retain for the commander of an American unit disciplinary control over the men in that unit, and it is for that reason that we are interested in reciprocity.
§ Mr. Silverman
My hon. Friend does not understand the position. This Amendment says, not whether a number of things which he thinks are necessary shall come into force now, but whether the whole thing shall come into force now. It is for that reason that we are asking for reciprocity. It is no good my hon. Friend saying that we do not need reciprocity for one of the things done by the Bill and, therefore, do not let us bother about any of the others.
§ Mr. Wigg
Apart from that, we have to accept that relations with the United States and other parts of the world are matters only to be handled with great care and wisdom. People feel strongly about these things, especially when our young ladies walk out with the Americans, and so on. I served with the American troops, and I know the kind of things that result. Ultimately what is resolved in this Bill is going to control the American forces. If this Bill is not passed, the American soldier is amenable to the British courts.
§ Mr. Strachey
I should like to put one point to my hon. Friend the Member for 1076 Dudley (Mr. Wigg) and one question to the Home Secretary. I think that my hon. Friend was under a misapprehension in thinking that great difficulties, which he very rightly mentioned, would arise if we did not pass this Bill, or if the Government did not bring it into immediate effect. All that happens is that the 1942 Act goes on, which leaves the position as it is, so I think that all the fears which he apprehends are not really relevant.
§ Mr. Strachey
I want to ask the Home Secretary one point which I think is important and relevant. When we have been speaking of American legislation which was brought before Congress but not passed, I thought it was roughly corresponding with this. Now I am told by the hon. and learned Member for Northampton (Mr. Paget) that it was not legislation at all in this sense, but the mere ratification of the agreement. It would be true that if it were merely that, it would be, so far as any reciprocity is concerned, completely empty. We are saying that we cannot ratify until we have brought our legislation into a position which enables us to ratify. If the Americans are considering ratification without similar legislation, ratification in itself would give us no reciprocity.
I cannot quite agree with my hon. Friend the Member for Dudley (Mr. Wigg) when he suggests that this is a mere matter of prestige. After all, it is not the case that we can never have British troops stationed in America. I can very easily imagine squadrons of the R.A.F. being stationed in America and on visits to America. They might be fairly small in number, but the jurisdiction of the courts over them would be a thoroughly practical and important matter.
1077 We do not imagine that they will ever be there in the same numbers as are the American troops here, but nevertheless I think that it would be an intolerable position for the people of this country if all these sweeping provisions were made, and made permanently in respect of American troops, and nothing of a similar character were done in the United States. I think that we must have a factual statement from the Government as to what is the position in regard to the United States.
§ Sir D. Maxwell Fyfe
I shall be very glad to do that. What I intended to say is that, of course, it is well known that, so far as treaties are concerned, they have to come before the Senate, but the practice is that the legislation giving effect to the treaty and bringing it into effect is produced and was, as I understand it, before Congress at the same time. I am sorry if I have misled the right hon. Gentleman. That is what I am told. It was not only a question of the Treaty-making, but also a question of the legislation.
§ Mr. John McKay (Wallsend)
I have listened intently to the legal arguments on this matter, and I have come to the conclusion that the discussion has revealed something which we want in the Bill itself. There is no question that one of the things which we desire at the moment is that we shall be a unit of our own, particularly when dealing with America, and that we shall uphold the position that in so far as we do anything for America, they, to some extent, shall do a similar thing for our people. I think that is the essence of the discussion.
I do not pretend to know all the legalities, or even what the 1942 Act says, because I do not think it is necessary to know that, but I think this is an important point here and that we should apply our ordinary intelligence to it. When I hear the nonsense which is talked by some celebrities in the legal profession and when there are such great differences of opinion between the lawyers in the Committee I come to the conclusion that this is a subject upon which the ordinary 1078 man can use his brains to reach a solution.
What is the bone of contention? There is, admittedly, a weakness in the law at present and the question arises whether, in endeavouring to amend the law, we should try to get the same kind of treatment for our own people. The Government say that they have had talks with America and have every hope of getting a reciprocal agreement, but we all know that the best kind of agreement is a written agreement and not a promise.
The effect of the Amendment is to say that, while we are prepared to meet the Americans, we must have the same kind of treatment for our own people. The Amendment says that there must be the qualification that the Bill will only operate in this country when America ratifies similar provisions. Surely that is logical. It represents loyalty to our own people. Surely even a legal expert of the highest eminence in his profession should be able to say that that is logical and sensible.
If that is so, are we arguing logically and sensibly? What possible objection can the Government have to the words that we wish to have inserted? There can be no argument at all about them. In all that he has said the Home Secretary has not indicated that there is anything extremely objectionable about the Amendment. He has asked us not to be critical, but to ask the other side to do exactly the same as we are doing is not criticism. The Government should weigh up the matter very carefully. The Conservative Party is supposed to be a very patriotic party. The Labour Party is also a patriotic party. We stand for our country's equality and for the guarding of the rights of our people. The Bill introduces a factor which exemplifies our attitude.
§ Mr. John Freeman (Watford)
For once the Home Secretary has treated the Committee with less than the high standard of courtesy that we expect from him. My hon. Friends have put the general case for reciprocity. The Home Secretary has said, "I quite agree, and I propose to accept all you are asking for in the way of reciprocity straight away in the case of all countries except the United States. In the case of the United States I want to make an exception and I justify that exception not because I do not desire 1079 or expect reciprocity from the United States, but because if we do not implement the Bill in respect of the United States as quickly as possible we shall be left with the 1942 Act which, in many ways, is less satisfactory than the Bill. Therefore, I want to take time by the forelock and leave the question of reciprocity with the United States so that we may gain the benefits of the Bill as quickly as possible." Surely that is an admission by the Home Secretary that he expects, desires and intends to get reciprocity from the United States.
We have a lot of legal talent in the Committee. One would have expected the briefing on the Government side to have been good. However, some of my hon. and learned Friends have raised two points which are absolutely vital to the Home Secretary's argument and the points have not been clarified. The first is whether Congress has examined any legislation ratifying the original agreement, and the second is whether under the United States constitution such legislation is possible even if the Administration wished to introduce it. It seems almost inconceivable that the Home Secretary has not yet clarified those points.
No one who knows the Home Secretary would suggest for a moment that he made his original remarks with any desire to deceive the Committee or in anything other than good faith, but it shows a disregard of facts that he can base a complete argument, which he invites my hon. Friends to accept, on points about which he will not tell us or which he has not clarified. Is legislation of this kind against the constitution of the United States? Even the most learned of my hon. Friends can scarcely be expected to answer that with authority at a moment's notice, but how can the Home Secretary put to the Committee the argument which he has advanced unless he is apprised of the point and prepared to give an assurance on it? Is Congress, interrupted by the Presidential elections in its consideration of the agreement, considering legislation which would bring the agreement into effect?
§ Sir D. Maxwell Fyfe
I did not say that I was informed that it was both, not only the agreement but also the legislation.
§ 6.45 p.m.
§ Mr. Freeman
The Home Secretary is taking the words out of my mouth. What he said was hedged about with several qualifications. As one of my hon. Friends pointed out, if legislation is being considered at the moment by Congress it is presumably in print and a copy will be available. The American Embassy will certainly have a copy and will make it available, as they do for any journalist who asks for a Congressional document of that kind.
In view of the nature and tone of the Home Secretary's answer, I could not, speaking for myself, possibly agree to support the Clause as it stands until such legislation has been made available to us in the Library or by some other means, so that we can see exactly what it is we are being asked to do. If I have done the Home Secretary an injustice in speaking so warmly about this, it was because he chose to base the whole of his argument on two points which he has not bothered to check.
§ Mr. E. Fletcher
The Home Secretary has asked us to withdraw the Amendment and accept an undertaking which he has given. I am sure he will now realise that it is impossible for us to accept the undertaking which he has given or to withdraw the Amendment. I am very doubtful whether it is possible usefully to ask the Committee, in the absence of further information, to proceed with the consideration of the Bill.
With the Amendment we sought to establish the principle of reciprocity, believing that if American and other troops were to be excluded from the jurisdiction of our courts it should be on the basis of reciprocity. The Home Secretary said that he could not accept the Amendment, but that he would give an assurance that the Bill will not be brought into operation as regards any country other than America until he is satisfied that there is reciprocity. He then went on to say that he must specifically and deliberately exclude the United States from his undertaking.
In other words, it is the Government's intention to bring this Bill into operation as regards the United States forces without being satisfied in any way about reciprocity, and, of course, at the moment the United States forces are the only 1081 foreign forces in this country, and, therefore, the only forces to which the principle of reciprocity could apply.
I want to do the Home Secretary justice. I gather from what some of my hon. Friends have said that they were under the impression from the remarks of the right hon. and learned Gentleman that he would be able to get reciprocity from the United States. I did not form that impression. I gathered from his remarks that there was no possible question of ever getting reciprocity from the United States.
§ Sir D. Maxwell Fyfe
I said, and I think I intervened to say it again, that I hoped to get reciprocity, and I will deal with this point in a moment when the hon. Gentleman has finished.
§ Mr. Fletcher
I am glad to have it established that the Home Secretary hopes to get reciprocity. May I point out to him that under existing conditions there is no possible chance of reciprocity? There is no reciprocity at the moment, there is no likelihood of reciprocity in the near future, and I believe that there is no foundation for his suggestion that there is any legislation in contemplation before Congress that is designed to give reciprocity.
If we refer to what was said by the Lord Chancellor in another place in introducing this Bill on Second Reading, we find that he made the position quite clear. He was dealing with the question of ratification and he said:The position is that so far no country has ratified the Agreement. In Canada, a Bill which is necessary to implement the Agreement has received the Royal Assent. One may assume, although I do not know, that that is but a preliminary to ratification. In the United States of America the Agreement was taken for ratification to the Senate on June 16 of this year—a short time ago. It is not certain whether it will be ratified before the adjournment, which is expected this month."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, House of Lords, 26th June, 1952; Vol. 177, c. 451–2.]He then goes on to deal with the question of France.
It is quite clear from what the Lord Chancellor said that Canada had ratified the Agreement and was passing legislation, but in the United States it had come up for ratification. There is no word about any legislation. If there had been any legislation which it was contemplated would be placed before Congress the Lord 1082 Chancellor would have known about it, and the Home Secretary would have known about it before he came down to this House with this Bill. Further, if there were any such Bill laid before the United States Congress there would be copies here. It is quite obvious that there is no such legislation.
What grounds has the Home Secretary for hoping that there ever will be reciprocity? Will he ascertain whether there has been any Bill laid before Congress? Will he tell us whether there has been any discussion through diplomatic channels with a view to United States Congress introducing legislation, and, if so, what form will that legislation take? Will it affect the existing jurisdiction not only of the Federal courts but of the State courts? Will it involve limitations on the existing jurisdiction of the states of the United States? Otherwise, we shall not have reciprocity.
I do not believe there is the slightest prospect of reciprocity on this subject with the United States, and this Committee has to pass this Bill, if it so wishes, knowing there is no chance of getting reciprocity with the United States.
§ Mr. S. Silverman
I only want to clear up a point between the right hon. and learned Gentleman and myself. The right hon. and learned Gentleman intervened just now and said that he hoped reciprocity would apply. I want to remind him and the Committee that he intervened during my speech and what he said went far beyond an expression of hope. What he said was that he accepted the principle of reciprocity, that he did not think that we ought to do this in the case of any country except that country did it for us, and he applied that principle as much to the United States of America as to any other country. That goes far beyond a mere expression of hope that some day they would.
§ Mr. Fletcher
I am not sure how much weight we can put on the view of the Home Secretary's hope. I have given reasons why I believe it is groundless and completely false, and I think that, on reflection, he will agree with me. I do not think that that is the real reason why he is trying to resist this Amendment. He gave a reason why he thought, even without reciprocity from the United States or without any hope of reciprocity 1083 from the United States, it would still be desirable to pass this Bill.
The reason he gave was that unless we pass this Bill the Act of 1942 would still remain on the Statute Book. That Act gives the American forces courts even greater powers than they will have when the 1942 Act is repealed under this Bill. They have a somewhat slighter exemption under this Bill. To do the Home Secretary justice, I should say that that was the real argument.
I want to deal with that argument now, because it is equally false. I am not at all sure that the Act of 1942 is still valid or operative. It was passed during the war and it met with a great deal of resistance both in this House and in another place. As the Lord Chancellor said, it was only made acceptable to the House of Lords because of the silvery tongue of the noble and learned Viscount, Lord Simon.
The Home Secretary seemed to assume that that Act was still operative, but it might very well be argued that it has lapsed. It was passed to deal with a war-time, temporary emergency. The Preamble to the Act reads as follows:An Act to give effect to the agreement recorded in Notes exchanged between His Majesty's Government in the United Kingdom and the Government of the United States of America, relating to jurisdiction over members of the military and naval forces of the United States of America.If we look at the Notes which were exchanged between the present Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, who also held that office in 1942, and Mr. John G. Winant, of the United States of America, it is made perfectly clear that that Act was passed for the limited purpose of dealing with the presence of United States forces in this country during the war.
§ Mr. Fletcher
Yes, and to give effect to that agreement.
The Home Secretary skated quickly over this subject on the Second Reading. Why does the Home Secretary assume that that 1942 Act, passed in wholly temporary and unusual circumstances, is still in operation? He said:From the Notes that were exchanged between the then Foreign Secretary and the American Ambassador, which were scheduled 1084 to the 1942 Act, it is apparent that it was contemplated at that time that the Act should come to an end soon after the termination of hostilities; but there have always been American troops here since then."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 17th October, 1952; Vol. 505, c. 567.]7.0 p.m.
I was under the impression that all the American troops were withdrawn soon after the end of the war, with negligible exceptions, and that two or three years ago fresh contingents of American troops arrived because of the new defence arrangements. I could not agree with the Home Secretary that one can lightly assume that the Act of 1942 is in operation. If it is, it is a pure accident and, as my hon. Friend the Member for Nelson and Colne (Mr. S. Silverman) has said, it ought not to be in operation. It ought to be repealed and nothing put in its place, except on the basis of reciprocity.
Those of us putting this point of view are not doing so in any spirit of anti-American feeling. I believe that the Americans would be the first to realise the value of the sentiments that are being put forward from these benches. It is a very humiliating experience for this country to concede this exclusive jurisdiction to foreign courts except on the basis of reciprocity. There is no reason why we should do so among allies. I believe that the United States of America, with whom we are all anxious to be friendly, would respect us much more if we paused before we passed this Bill in order to insist on the basis of reciprocity with the United States. I am sure that they would appreciate the reasons.
§ Sir D. Maxwell Fyfe
I am very anxious to deal with the points which hon. Gentlemen have raised. I am sorry that the hon. Member for Islington, East (Mr. E. Fletcher) should have said that I treated the House with discourtesy. I may have made statements with which he disagrees, but I have tried to deal with the points which have been raised, and such shall be my constant endeavour. The hon. Gentleman has refused to accept or to be satisfied with the view I have put and he says that he will persist in his Amendment. I should therefore like, before the Committee comes to a decision on the matter, to deal with one or two points.
The hon. Gentleman said he was very doubtful whether the Act of 1942 was 1085 still in operation. He did not quote any part of the enactment of that Act to justify such a view.
§ Mr. S. Silverman
Yes. My hon. Friend called attention to the long title, which says:An Act to give effect to an agreement recorded in Notes exchanged …The Preamble says that the Notes were set out in the Schedule to the Act, which was to give effect to the agreementduring the continuance of the conflict against our common enemies.
§ Sir D. Maxwell Fyfe
It is a great pity to try to give a legal opinion without having all the words. The hon. Gentleman knows that in presenting a legal argument I try to deal with the matter properly. I was just going to deal with the point which has been raised. I was saying, first, that there was nothing in the enacting Sections, as both hon. Gentlemen who have spoken know very well. The Long Title is not a part of the enacting portion of an Act of Parliament, and the Short Title is a description, which does not import the agreement. Even if it did, if hon. Gentlemen will be good enough to look at paragraph 10 they will see these words:Finally, His Majesty's Government propose that the foregoing arrangements should operate during the conduct of the conflict against our common enemies and until six months (or such other period as may be mutually agreed upon) after the final termination of such conflict and the restoration of a state of peace.During the six years when the Government of the country was in the hands of hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite, they allowed the agreement to continue. Even the tenuous argument which hon. Gentlemen have advanced therefore falls to the ground. Even as a means of keeping a lively discussion going, I believe they will not stand by the view that the Act is not in operation.
Both hon. Gentlemen have expressed the other point of view that the Act ought not to be in operation, even if it is. I am surprised. I am a fairly regular attender in the House of Commons, and during the six years when hon. and right hon. Gentlemen sat on these benches I cannot remember their beseeching the right hon. Gentleman who preceded me, 1086 or the right hon. Gentleman who was at the War Office, that the Act should be done away with. Even if they did so, and I was unlucky in not hearing them, the fact is that their Government did not repeal the Act. The Act is in operation.
I believe that the way in which this matter was introduced caused some surprise to the Chair, as did the fact that it was being discussed at such length. The point was that I had said that it was better to have a new Act containing the improvement introduced by the Bill giving effect to an agreement which hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite had made. It is not fair or right for hon. Gentlemen on those benches to assume that their own party leaders in the Government of the country would have made an agreement in these terms without believing, as they have certainly given us to understand they believed, that they were improving the position by making the agreement.
The second line of argument, that if the Act does exist it ought not to exist and in any case the Bill is no improvement on it, falls, not only on the merits but on the fact that the Bill has been made for the very purpose of such improvement by our predecessors in office.
The other point that has been put to me is whether the United States of America can bring in the necessary legislation, and it is said that I have no evidence in that regard. I have the very good evidence that the United States are one of the signatories of the agreement. If hon. Gentlemen will look at page 15 of the agreement, they will see the signatures of various countries, and of the United States of America. It is carrying even the ordinary extension of time for debate a considerable way to say that when a country has signed an agreement and in that way pledged itself to carry it out—and impliedly pledged itself to be able to carry it out—there is no evidence about it. That is carrying the point of view of argument a little too far.
I know that one could get an example of a Treaty having been made and not adopted. That can be done in any country, but here is a Treaty which has been signed. A few odd remarks about the American constitution thrown out at random by British lawyers is not a serious contention that the Treaty cannot be brought into effect.
§ Several Hon. Members rose——
§ Sir D. Maxwell Fyfe
I have tried to meet the points, but if I have not been successful the fault and deficiencies are mine. Since, however, we have been discussing this for one and three-quarter hours, I really must ask the Committee to come to a decision. I have tried to appreciate the feeling on what I know is an important point.
I put it on these two broad grounds: first, that during any period of waiting for ratification we shall get the improved position which the Bill gives over the 1942 Act, and secondly, that I have every reason to believe that it will be ratified when Congress meets again. I cannot guarantee it, but I have every reason to expect it. I have tried to meet all the points and I ask the Committee to come to a decision with reasonable celerity.
§ Mr. Strachey rose——
§ Mr. Bing
I am much obliged to my right hon. Friend. May I put to him and to the right hon. and learned Gentleman the appropriate passages in the United States Constitution? I had the good fortune once to hold a fellowship in this subject at an American university. So while I cannot claim the conversancy of the right hon. and learned Gentleman with it, I should like to put the difficulty which is in my mind and which my right hon. Friend might deal with, as the Home Secretary has been unable to do so. Article 5 of the United States constitution——
Order, order. I am here to call the speakers and I cannot allow this speech to continue. I called the right hon. Member for Dundee, West.
§ Mr. Charles Pannell (Leeds, West)
On a point of order, Sir Charles, do I understand it is your Ruling that if a right hon. Member gives way to one of his colleagues, it is not in order?
Giving way means that the colleague wants to correct something the hon. Member has said. The right hon. Gentleman has not even begun his speech yet. I have called him and therefore I expect that he will speak when he is called and that other hon. Members will speak when they are called.
§ Mr. Strachey
With great respect, Sir Charles, I feel that this is a matter of great substance which we are all trying to raise. The debate has taken a most unexpected course to me, because I thought that we would have the facts before us on which we could come to a conclusion on this matter. What has happened? We started our debate with a great deal of harmony—you were not in the Chair, Sir Charles, at the moment—on a point on which we were all agreed, namely, that there should be reciprocity, not just with America, but with all the countries which are parties to this agreement and to this proposed legislation.
It has been emphasised quite as strongly by the Home Secretary as by the Attorney-General and all the speakers on the Government Bench that all this would be impossible and intolerable unless there was reciprocity. I certainly took them at their word and imagined that that was how they felt also. Then we reached the curious stage when they said, "That is all true except in the case of the United States, where it will pay us to go ahead a little on their action in order to improve the position as against the 1942 Act." As I said when I spoke first, there is an arguable case for doing that, although I do not think it is right, if it is obvious that the United States action will come along in a few months' time. That is what the answer of the Home Secretary to my hon. Friend the Member for Nelson and Colne (Mr. S. Silverman) certainly led us to expect.
At that point the suggestion was made from this side of the Committee that the action begun in the United States Congress last summer was not by any means 1089 legislation to give effect to parallel provisions in the United States but merely an empty gesture. And remember that even that empty gesture was not made; it was only put before the United States Congress and Congress adjourned without gress, and Congress adjourned without taking any action. I am not saying that it was merely an empty gesture of ratification, but I am asking whether that was the case. I have not received an answer and none of us has received an answer from the benches opposite.
I can only suppose it is because they do not know and have not got a copy of the piece of paper which was before the United States Congress and which would tell us in a moment what it was and whether our doubts on that score are valid or not. Certainly it is essential for the Committee to know this before making up its mind on the question.
That was the first step. Then further suggestions were made by my hon. Friend that not only was the legislation which was initiated but not carried through the United States Congress not an implementation of parallel provisions in the United States, but that there was no prospect of legislation parallel to this being taken even when the new Congress comes along. Again, I do not know whether those suggestions were right or wrong, but they are extremely germane to this argument, and we were not told by the Home Secretary whether that was so or not.
A further suggestion was made from this side of the Committee that not only was there no apparent prospect of parallel legislation, but there was no possibility of it in the United States because such legislation would be unconstitutional. Again, I do not pretend to know whether that is the case, but again, unfortunately, the Home Secretary has not told us whether it is the case or not. How are we to make up our minds what to do about this Amendment unless we can be told whether that is the case?
If it is the case that it would be unconstitutional for the United States to pass parallel legislation, then, except in the extremely remote contingency of a constitutional amendment of the matter in the United States—which is so remote as to be out of the realm of practical politics—we are faced with the fact that if we take this action there is no question of reciprocity in the case of the United 1090 States and we are doing it purely unilaterally and without any prospect of similar action.
And it is permanent legislation. It is no use saying that it is better than the 1942 Act because that was meant to come to an end at an early date. It might be argued that, in spite of all that, it would still be right to go ahead and take this unilateral action; but that was not the case put before us on the Second Reading or today. We have never had that argued. I do not know whether that is the position or not and I submit to you, Sir Charles, that no one on the Committee knows whether that is so, because the facts have not been put before us. We waited anxiously for the last remarks of the Home Secretary, but apparently he is unable to tell us whether or not that is the case.
In those circumstances, I simply do not see that there is any material before us to enable the Committee to come to a decision on the Amendment, which is all important—we are all agreed that reciprocity is the essence of this matter—and so I can only say that the Committee should suspend its proceedings until the facts can be put before us. Therefore, I beg to move, "That the Chairman do report Progress and ask leave to sit again."
§ Several Hon. Members rose——
Will hon. Members allow me to put the Question?
Question put (pursuant to Standing Order No. 26), "That the Chairman do report Progress and ask leave to sit again."
§ The Committee proceeded to a Division.
§ Captain Charles Waterhouse (Leicester, South-East)
(seated and covered): May I draw your attention, Sir Charles, to the fact that the bells are not ringing?
If the bells are not ringing, of course hon. Members cannot be summoned to vote. Is it the case that the bells are not ringing?
§ Captain Waterhouse
The bells rang once only. They did not ring again. The police called a Division.
I think we had better go on with the Division, and I will try to have the bells repaired before the next one.
§ Ayes, 159; Noes, 183.1091
|Division No. 241.]||AYES||[7.20 p.m.|
|Anderson, Alexander (Motherwell)||Hale, Leslie (Oldham, W.)||Pargiter, G. A.|
|Anderson, Frank (Whitehaven)||Hall, Rt. Hon. Glenvil (Colne Valley)||Paton, J.|
|Awbery, S. S.||Hall, John (Gateshead, W.)||Pearson, A.|
|Bartley, P.||Hamilton, W. W.||Peart, T. F.|
|Benson, G.||Hargreaves, A.||Plummer, Sir Leslie|
|Beswick, F.||Hastings, S.||Poole, C. C.|
|Bevan, Rt. Hon. A. (Ebbw Vale)||Hayman, F. H.||Popplewell, E.|
|Bing, G. H. C.||Healey, Denis (Leeds, S. E.)||Porter, G.|
|Blackburn, F.||Henderson, Rt. Hon. A. (Rowley Regis)||Price, Joseph T. (Westhoughton)|
|Blyton, W. R.||Holman, P.||Proctor, W. T.|
|Boardman, H.||Holmes, Horace (Hemsworth)||Pryde, D. J.|
|Bowden, H. W.||Hubbard, T. F.||Rhodes, H.|
|Bowles, F. G.||Hudson, James (Ealing, N.)||Richards, R.|
|Braddock, Mrs. Elizabeth||Hughes, Cledwyn (Anglesey)||Roberts, Goronwy (Caernarvonshire)|
|Brockway, A. F.||Hughes, Emrys (S. Ayrshire)||Robinson, Kenneth (St. Pancras, N.)|
|Brook, Dryden (Halifax)||Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.)||Rodgers, George (Kensington, N.)|
|Brown, Rt. Hon. George (Belper)||Hynd, H. (Accrington)||Ross, William|
|Butler, Herbert (Hackney, S.)||Irvine, A. J. (Edge Hill)||Schofield, S. (Barnsley)|
|Castle, Mrs. B. A.||Irving, W. J. (Wood Green)||Shackleton, E. A. A.|
|Champion, A. J.||Jenkins, R. H. (Stechford)||Shinwell, Rt. Hon. E.|
|Chetwynd, G. R.||Jones, David (Hartlepool)||Short, E. W.|
|Clunie, J.||Jones, Jack (Rotherham)||Silverman, Sydney (Nelson)|
|Coldrick, W.||Keenan, W.||Simmons, C. J. (Brierley Hill)|
|Collick, P. H.||Kenyon, C.||Slater, J.|
|Corbet, Mrs. Freda||King, Dr. H. M.||Smith, Ellis (Stoke, S.)|
|Craddock, George (Bradford, S.)||Kinley, J.||Soskice, Rt. Hon. Sir Frank|
|Crosland, C. A. R.||Lee, Frederick (Newton)||Sparks, J. A.|
|Cullen, Mrs. A.||Lever, Leslie (Ardwick)||Stewart, Michael (Fulham, E.)|
|Dalton, Rt. Hon. H.||Lindgren, G. S.||Strachey, Rt. Hon. J.|
|Darling, George (Hillsborough)||Logan D. G.||Summerskill, Rt. Hon. E.|
|Davies, A. Edward (Stoke, N.)||MacColl, J. E.||Sylvester, G. O.|
|Davies, Ernest (Enfield, E.)||McGhee, H. G.||Taylor, Bernard (Mansfield)|
|Davies, Stephen (Merthyr)||McKay, John (Wallsend)||Taylor, John (West Lothian)|
|Deer, G.||McLeavy, F.||Taylor, Rt. Hon. Robert (Morpeth)|
|Delargy, H. J.||MacPherson, Malcolm (Stirling)||Thomas, David (Aberdare)|
|Dugdale, Rt. Hon. John (W. Bromwich)||Mallalieu, E. L. (Brigg)||Thomson, George (Dundee, E.)|
|Ede, Rt. Hon. J. C.||Mann, Mrs. Jean||Tomney, F.|
|Edelman, M.||Manuel, A. C.||Viant, S. P.|
|Edwards, Rt. Hon. Ness (Caerphilly)|
|Evans, Albert (Islington, S. W.)||Mayhew, C. P.||Weitzman, D.|
|Evans, Edward (Lowestoft)||Messer, F.||West, D. G.|
|Evans, Stanley (Wednesbury)||Mikardo, Ian||White, Henry (Derbyshire, N. E.)|
|Fernyhough, E.||Morgan, Dr. H. B. W.||Whiteley, Rt. Hon. W.|
|Finch, H. J.||Morley, R.||Wigg, George|
|Fletcher, Eric (Islington, E.)||Morris, Percy (Swansea, W.)||Wilkins, W. A.|
|Foot, M. M.||Mort, D. L.||Williams, David (Neath)|
|Fraser, Thomas (Hamilton)||Moyle, A.||Williams, Ronald (Wigan)|
|Freeman, John (Watford)||Murray, J. D.||Williams, W. R. (Droylsden)|
|Gaitskell, Rt. Hon. H. T. N.||Neal, Harold (Bolsover)||Winterbottom, Ian (Nottingham, C.)|
|Gibson, C. W.||Oldfield, W. H.||Winterbottom, Richard (Brightside)|
|Glanville, James||Oswald, T.||Woodburn, Rt. Hon. A.|
|Gooch, E. G.||Padley, W. E.|
|Greenwood, Anthony (Rossendale)||Paget, R. T.||TELLERS FOR THE AYES:|
|Grenfell, Rt. Hon. D. R.||Paling, Will T. (Dewsbury)||Mr. Arthur Allen and Mr. Royle.|
|Griffiths, David (Rother Valley)||Pannell, Charles|
|Aitken, W. T.||Bullock, Capt. M.||Fell, A.|
|Amery, Julian (Preston, N.)||Burden, F. F. A.||Fisher, Nigel|
|Anstruther-Gray, Major W. J.||Carson, Hon. E.||Fleetwood-Hesketh, R. F.|
|Baldwin, A. E.||Cary, Sir Robert||Fraser, Sir Ian (Morecambe & Lonsdale)|
|Banks, Col. C.||Channon, H.||Fyfe, Rt. Hon. Sir David Maxwell|
|Barber, Anthony||Churchill, Rt. Hon. W. S.||Galbraith, T. G. D. (Hillhead)|
|Barlow, Sir John||Clarke, Col. Ralph (East Grinstead)||Godber, J. B.|
|Baxter, A. B.||Cole, Norman||Gomme-Duncan, Col. A.|
|Beach, Maj. Hicks||Conant, Maj. R. J. E.||Gough, C. F. H.|
|Beamish, Maj. Tufton||Craddock, Beresford (Spelthorne)||Gower, H. R.|
|Bennett, Sir Peter (Edgbaston)||Crookshank, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. F. C.||Graham, Sir Fergus|
|Bennett, Dr. Reginald (Gosport)||Crosthwaite-Eyre, Col. O. E.||Grimond, J.|
|Bennett, William (Woodside)||Crouch, R. F.||Grimston, Hon. John (St. Albans)|
|Bevins, J. R. (Toxteth)||Crowder, Sir John (Finchley)||Hare, Hon. J. H.|
|Birch, Nigel||Davies, Rt. Hn. Clement (Montgomery)||Harris, Frederic (Croydon, N.)|
|Bishop, F. P.||Digby, S. Wingfield||Harrison, Col. J. H. (Eye)|
|Boothby, R. J. G.||Dodds-Parker, A. D.||Harvey, Ian (Harrow, E.)|
|Bowen, E. R.||Donaldson, Cmdr. C. E. McA.||Harvie-Watt, Sir George|
|Boyle, Sir Edward||Donner, P. W.||Heald, Sir Lionel|
|Brooke, Henry (Hampstead)||Doughty, C. J. A.||Heath, Edward|
|Brooman-White, R. C.||Drayson, G. B.||Higgs, J. M. C.|
|Buchan-Hepburn, Rt. Hon. P. G. T.||Duncan, Capt. J. A. L.||Hill, Mrs. E. (Wythenshawe)|
|Bullard, D. G.||Duthie, W. S.||Hinchingbrooke, Viscount|
|Hirst, Geoffrey||Maitland, Patrick (Lanark)||Shepherd, William|
|Holland-Martin, C. J.||Manningham-Buller, Sir R. E.||Simon, J. E. S. (Middlesbrough, W.)|
|Hollis, M. C.||Marlowe, A. A. H.||Smiles, Lt.-Col. Sir Walter|
|Holt, A. F.||Marshall, Douglas (Bodmin)||Smithers, Peter (Winchester)|
|Hornsby-Smith, Miss M. P.||Maude, Angus||Snadden, W. McN.|
|Horobin, I. M.||Maudling, R.||Soames, Capt. C.|
|Howard, Gerald (Cambridgeshire)||Maydon, Lt.-Comdr. S. L. C.||Spearman, A. C. M.|
|Howard, Greville (St. Ives)||Medlicott, Brig. F.||Stanley, Capt. Hon. Richard|
|Hudson, Sir Austin (Lewisham, N.)||Morrison, John (Salisbury)||Stevens, G. P.|
|Hudson, W. R. A. (Hull, N.)||Nabarro, G. D. N.||Stewart, Henderson (Fife, E.)|
|Hutchinson, Sir Geoffrey (Ilford, N.)||Nicolson, Nigel (Bournemouth, E.)||Storey, S.|
|Hutchison, Lt.-Com. Clark (E'b'rgh W.)||Nield, Basil (Chester)||Stuart, Rt. Hon. James (Moray)|
|Hylton-Foster, H. B. H.||Noble, Cmdr. A. H. P.||Studholme, H. G.|
|Jenkins, Robert (Dulwich)||Nugent, G. R. H.||Summers, G. S.|
|Jennings, R.||Oakshott, H. D.||Taylor, William (Bradford, N.)|
|Johnson, Eric (Blackley)||Odey, G. W.||Teeling, W.|
|Kerr, H. W. (Cambridge)||Orr, Capt. L. P. S.||Thompson, Lt.-Cdr. R. (Croydon, W.)|
|Largford Holt, J. A.||Orr-Ewing, Ian L. (Weston-super-Mare)||Thornton-Kemsley, Col. C. N.|
|Legge-Bourke, Maj. E. A. H.||Partridge, E.||Touche, Sir Gordon|
|Legh, P. R. (Petersfield)||Peake, Rt. Hon. O.||Turner, H. F. L.|
|Lindsay, Martin||Perkins, W. R. D.||Turton, R. H.|
|Linstead, H. N.||Peyton, J. W. W.||Vane, W. M. F.|
|Lloyd, Maj. Guy (Renfrew, E.)||Powell, J. Enoch||Vosper, D. F.|
|Lockwood, Lt.-Col. J. C.||Price, Henry (Lewisham, W.)||Wade, D. W.|
|Longden, Gilbert (Herts, S. W.)||Prior-Palmer, Brig. O. L.||Wakefield, Edward (Derbyshire, W.)|
|Low, A. R. W.||Raikes, H. V.||Wakefield, Sir Wavell (Marylebone)|
|Lucas, Sir Jocelyn (Portsmouth, S.)||Remnant, Hon. P.||Ward, Miss I. (Tynemouth)|
|Lucas, P. B. (Brentford)||Renton, D. L. M.||Waterhouse, Capt. Rt. Hon. C.|
|Lucas-Tooth, Sir Hugh||Roberts, Peter (Heeley)||Wellwood, W.|
|McCallum, Major D.||Robertson, Sir David||White, Baker (Canterbury)|
|Macdonald, Sir Peter (I. of Wight)||Robinson, Roland (Blackpool, S.)||Williams, Rt. Hon. Charles (Torquay)|
|Mackeson, Brig. H. R.||Robson-Brown, W.||Williams, Gerald (Tonbridge)|
|McKibbin, A. J.||Roper, Sir Harold||Williams, Sir Herbert (Croydon, E.)|
|McKie, J. H. (Galloway)||Ropner, Col. Sir Leonard||Williams, R. Dudley (Exeter)|
|Maclay, Rt. Hon. John||Russell, R. S.||Wills, G.|
|Maclean, Fitzroy||Salter, Rt. Hon. Sir Arthur||Wilson, Geoffrey (Truro)|
|Macmillan, Rt. Hon. Harold (Bromley)||Schofield, Lt.-Col. W. (Rochdale)|
|Macpherson, Maj. Niall (Dumfries)||Scott, R. Donald||TELLERS FOR THE NOES:|
|Maitland, Comdr. J. F. W. (Horncastle)||Scott-Miller, Cmdr. R.||Mr. Drewe and Mr. Redmayne.|
§ Original Question again proposed, "That those words be there inserted."
§ Mr. S. Silverman
On a point of order. You will remember, Sir Charles, that when my right hon. Friend moved his Motion to report Progress and ask leave to sit again, my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Hornchurch (Mr. Bing) and I were both on our feet. You asked us whether we would resume our seats to that you might propose the Question, so I apologise—and, naturally, my hon. and learned Friend would apologise—for not having realised that that was necessary.
After we had resumed our seats, Sir Charles, you then proceeded to put the Question, as though it were not capable of debate. I was on my feet to debate the Motion which my right hon. Friend had proposed. I believe I am right in saying that the Motion to report Progress is a debateable Motion provided, under Standing Order 25, that the debate thereon is confined to the matter of the Motion; which I had every intention of doing. But we had no opportunity of debating it, because you proceeded to put the Question.
§ 7.30 p.m.
There was no opportunity of debate because I put the Motion forthwith under Standing Order 26, which I am entitled to do; and I asked the hon. Member to sit down because in this Committee only one person stands at a time. If I am standing I expect other hon. Members to resume their seats.
§ Mr. Silverman
On a point of order. I am obliged to you, Sir Charles, for drawing my attention to other Standing Orders, but I have looked at Standing Order No. 26 and it appears to deal with the operation of the Chairmen's Panel.
§ Mr. Silverman
On a point of order. The book which I have purports to be 1095 the House of Commons Manual of Procedure in Public Business, 1951. Is that not the right book?
That is not the Standing Orders. I think if the hon. Gentleman looks at the back of the book he will find Standing Orders—I think in the appendix. I think he will find, on page 236, the Standing Order under which I put the Question. The Standing Orders of the House of Commons is the book which guides our proceedings, and if the hon. Gentleman looks at the Standing Orders he will find that I was quite correct in what I did.
§ Mr. Bing
If I may interrupt the points of order for a moment, I would say that, fortunately, there is only one edition, or at any rate one standard form, of the constitution of the United States, and this I wish to draw to the right hon. and learned Gentleman's attention. This is a point of some substance and we ought to have from the right hon. and learned Gentleman his view as to whether or not, under the constitution of the United States, it is possible for such legislation to be enacted.
The right hon. and learned Gentleman will, I am sure, fully appreciate that none of us can claim to be an expert on the United States constitution. I do not think any exists. The Supreme Court always does something which none of the experts predicted. Nevertheless, I have had the good fortune to hold a fellowship in this subject at an American university and I therefore speak at any rate with some knowledge of the sort of difficulties which are likely to arise in the interpretation of the constitution. If I can give my very humble opinion to the right hon. and learned Gentleman, it is that Article V of the Bill of Rights completely rules out the possibility of the United States being able to pass such legislation without an amendment to the constitution. I am sure that we agree that in view of the importance which the Bill of Rights series of amendments to the constitution occupies in the minds of the United States, it would be a far cry to suppose that, in order to facilitate legislation on this matter, they would amend the Bill of Rights.
Perhaps I may call to the right hon. and learned Gentleman's attention the wording of Article V of the Bill of Rights, 1096 which, as he knows, forms the first series of amendments, the series of 1791 amendments, to the constitution of the United States. Article V deals with "persons," a term which, as the right hon. and learned Gentleman knows, is used in the United States constitution in contradistinction to "citizens" to cover both those who are citizens of the United States and those who happen to be there, Article V says:No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in land or naval forces ….The right hon. and learned Gentleman will appreciate that "land or naval forces" refers to the land or naval forces of the United States. As far as the law of the United States is concerned, the land or naval forces of any other country are merely civilians when they are in United States territory. That is the position as I understand it.
But even in the case of the United States forces, those powers are qualified by the words,… when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offence to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law;The right hon. and learned Gentleman is no doubt familiar with the immense importance in the constitution of the phrase "due process of law," and an immense amount of case law exists about the meaning of this phrase. It continues,nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.What we want to know from the right hon. and learned Gentleman is whether there has been any consideration of "due process of law." Is it possible, with the due process of law condition in the constitution, for Congress to enact legislation enabling a court unknown to the United States to function on United States soil? It may be possible, but my own reading of the constitution would be otherwise, although nobody can claim to be an expert in this matter.
It is an extremely difficult matter and no doubt, before he introduced the Bill, the right hon. and learned Gentleman took the opinion of competent lawyers in the United States for, as he so rightly said, nobody in this Committee is able 1097 to decide the question. At least we should be told that he has taken advice. If in his opinion his learned Friends were not in a position to give him advice, no doubt he obtained it from someone who was. What was that advice? Was the advice given to him that such legislation could be enacted?
Again, I refer him to the United States Constitution, this time to Article III with which, no doubt, he is equally familiar. That is the Article which provides for the exercise of the judicial power of the United States, and it provides that the judicial power of the United Statesshall be vested in one supreme Court, and in such inferior Courts as the Congress may from time to time ordain and establish.I do not know whether the right hon. and learned Gentleman, despite these very clear words, believes that Congress has the right to establish courts which have no connection with the Supreme Court and which are not inferior to it, but which can operate a quite different and, as far as the United States are concerned, alien system of jurisdiction. If the right hon. and learned Gentleman glances at the bottom of Section 2 of the same Article—and I will not trouble the Committee with the whole of the argument—he will see the provision thatThe trial of all Crimes, except in Cases of Impeachment, shall be by Jury; and such Trial shall be held in the State where the said Crimes shall have been committed; but when not committed within any State, the Trial shall be at such Place or Places as the Congress may by Law have directed.The Committee will appreciate that what the Congress of the United States can enact in the way of setting up in the way of new courts is very strictly limited. I may be wrong; there may be some loophole by which such courts as these may be established—but that is the question which we are asking the right hon. and learned Gentleman. He has gone into these matters; and I am quite certain that he would never have brought the Bill before the House unless he were in a position to assure the Committee that the provisions which he sought to be secured could in fact be secured in law.
What is the loophole? I may be entirely wrong on this, but one is faced with difficulty. It is quite true that the United States constitution provides for the organising, arming and disciplining of the militia and generally for the arming 1098 and disciplining of the forces of the United States. That is how martial law can be administered in the United States. But, of course, as I understand it, that does not permit Congress to arm or discipline anybody else's forces. They must be the forces of the United States andto make Rules for the Government and Regulation of the land and naval Forces;is, again, one of the powers which is entrusted to Congress. But these, again, are the forces, as I understand the law, of the United States of America.
If the right hon. and learned Gentleman would attempt to deal with the argument rather than discuss the matter with the Chief Whip, which suggest another method of disposing of it, I should be infinitely obliged, and so would the Committee. The right hon. and learned Gentleman will be aware that the United States Constitution is a complicated balance between the powers of the States and those of the Federal Government. As I understand the provisions of the agreement they would, so far as I can visualise the position, involve an alteration in the rights which the States at present exercise over the citizens of each State of the Union.
The right hon. and learned Gentleman may think I am wrong in that. Perhaps if that is so he will argue that point with me. If I am right in that, it is quite impossible for the Federal Government to enact any legislation at all. It may express the hope that the individual States will deal with the matter, but as the right hon. and learned Gentleman must be well aware, unless a power has been expressly granted by the States to the Federal Government the Federal Government does not possess any power than that particularly granted. It is difficult to see how an Act of Congress could deprive a State court of a right which it previously possessed and was given under the constitution.
The right hon. and learned Gentleman may have answers to all these points. If he has not, it is a little presumptuous to ask the Committee to pass the matter and merely rely on a Closure vote. We are giving away British rights and we are asked to do so upon an undertaking given—an understanding on the part of the right hon. and learned Gentleman that this was an equal sharing between allies and that irrespective of how many 1099 British troops there were to be in the United States they were to have identical rights.
We were told by the right hon. and learned Gentleman that that was the basis on which he asked us to pass the Clause. He says there is some natural delay, the matter cannot get through the Senate. But the approval of a treaty by the Senate, as the right hon. and learned Gentleman knows, only affects the treaty issue; that is not a judicial determination by the Senate as to whether, in fact, the provisions can in law be carried out. It is not for the Senate so to say because on a number of occasions States and Congress may have passed laws which have been material in some respect; so the fact that the Senate has ratified the treaty does not make it in any sense law.
The question one has to ask—and one has to ask a good constitutional lawyer in the United States, of which there are no doubt a number employed by the British Embassy—is, would such legislation in his view be constitutional or not? Is the right hon. and learned Gentleman in a position to tell the Committee? Let me put my questions quite clearly to him. First, has he taken any advice from any American constitutional lawyer on this point? That is the first question he should answer. Second, if he has, what is the nature of that advice? Has he been told that it might be constitutional or it might not, or has he been told that it is most certainly constitutional? Third, if he has been told that it is quite possible for the Federal Government to enact such legislation, will the right hon. and learned Gentleman deal with the various points I have raised, which I admit may be mistaken or have been due to a misunderstanding of the American constitution. It is a very difficult subject.
Will the right hon. and learned Gentleman deal with the arguments which we are in doubt about, which would spring to the mind of any constitutional lawyer who merely looks at these points, and, without doubt, have been dealt with in the opinion which the right hon. and learned Gentleman has obtained, if he has obtained one. He should have no difficulty in disposing of the argument if he has taken the trouble of obtaining an opinion. Will he tell us that he has taken an opinion? If not, will he give an 1100 undertaking that he will postpone the Third Reading of the Bill until he has communicated with the American Government and discovered from them whether or not they think they can pass the necessary legislation to make the Measure reciprocal? At all events, I do not think that the Committee should now decide whether or not they should pass the Measure if the provisions are not to be made reciprocal.
The right hon. and learned Gentleman should, in a matter which affects the liberty of the British subject, at least not put the Bill through when we are under a complete misunderstanding of the nature of the arrangement which has been made. It might be that the right hon. and learned Gentleman will come frankly before us and say, "I made a mistake when I told the House that there would ever be any reciprocal arrangement. We are told by the American Government that it is absolutely impossible. Nevertheless, we ask you to pass the Bill."
That is an argument to which the Committee might or might not respond; I do not know. But we can have no proper democratic process here unless we are given the facts. None of us is able to interpret the United States constitution very well. Will not the right hon. and learned Gentleman ask the United States Government their view, or are we to take it as his opinion of the United States constitution, which he explained was as worthless as mine?
I hope that the right hon. and learned Gentleman will not have the Closure moved because, from experience we have had on other Measures, we all know that the House and Committee respond, and respond very warmly, when an attempt is made to meet the points and to deal with the matter on a proper basis of argument. But if the Bill is to be dealt with on the basis of moving Closures, stopping discussion and not answering any points, that is not the way which leads to any quicker progress. I hope that the right hon. and learned Gentleman will take the view which I know he always likes to take, if he is allowed to take it, of answering the arguments and giving us the facts.
§ Mr. S. Silverman
I should like, first, to correct one plainly false point which the right hon. and learned Gentleman 1101 made. He was dealing with the argument that if the 1942 Act had not come to an end it ought to have done, and he said that this was a quaint argument to come from us because we could have repealed it ourselves and he did not remember any pressure from myself or my hon. Friends on the late Government to do so.
He has forgotten the very paragraph in the agreement to which he drew my attention, namely paragraph 10 of the agreement in the Schedule of the 1942 Act, which says quite plainly that it is to continue until the cessation of hostilities, for six months at least after that and thereafter by agreement. The cessation of hostilities did not come until we ratified the Treaty with Japan. That was done when his party, not the party on this side of the House, was the Government. Therefore, that was really quite a false point, and I am sure that the right hon. and learned Gentleman will correct it when he deals with the more substantial ones, as I hope he will later.
I should like to ask where the right hon. and learned Gentleman thinks the matter now stands before the Committee. I accept that both during the Second Reading debate and today his opinion was that it would be wrong for the House in this Committee to enact this Measure to except on the basis of reciprocity, and that that basis included the United States of America. The position with regard to reciprocity in the United States is now very different from what it was when this debate began and during the Second Reading.
May I ask the right hon. and learned Gentleman what he would advise the Committee to do about the Clause, about this Amendment or about the Bill as a whole if it should turn out that my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Hornchurch (Mr. Bing) and my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Northampton (Mr. Paget) turn out to be right? At the moment what is being said is, "It is all right. Let us do this thing now. Let us not now exact any undertaking not to bring in an Order in Council designating the United States of America as a sending country within the meaning of this Bill because everything will be all right some day and we can afford to wait. We shall be all right in the meantime." As we going to be all right some day?
1102 At present, all that has happened is that the Senate has been asked to ratify the arrangements and that it has not yet done so. There is no suggestion of the introduction of any legislation. It has not been introduced. Nobody has said it is to be introduced and certainly nobody has said when it will be introduced. And apparently, if one may leave the irony out of the speech of my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Hornchurch, no one so far has even taken the trouble to find out whether, in the event that the Senate some day ratify it and thereupon some legislation is introduced and in the event that that legislation then introduced is some day passed, it will not be challenged in the Supreme Court of the United States and held to be invalid.
Supposing it should turn out that none of these steps is taken, or if these steps are taken it is then ruled that there is no power under the constitution of the United States to pass the necessary legislation? Would the right hon. and learned Gentleman then still wish the Committee to pass this Clause as it stands, with no basis of reciprocity at all? If he would, then that is quite inconsistent with what he has said repeatedly up to the moment—that "I only ask you to pass this on the basis that America and other countries in whose favour we pass it do exactly the same thing."
Until these questions are cleared up it is a dereliction of public duty on the part of any Minister or any Government to ask the House of Commons and the Parliament of this country to oust the jurisdiction of our own court in relation to people on our own soil and acts committed against our own citizens, people entitled to be protected by the Queen's peace within our country.
It is absolutely wrong. It is the sort of thing that people would have been impeached for attempting in the old days. One may justify it possibly on the basis of reciprocity. It is conceded that one cannot justify it unless on the basis of reciprocity. It is now plain that there is no guarantee of reciprocity from the United States, and there is considerable doubt whether reciprocity is legal in that country. In those circumstances, the right hon. and learned Gentleman is asking us to accept an undertaking about reciprocity which applies to every country in 1103 the world which can possibly benefit from this agreement, except the country which stands to benefit from it at the moment or in the foreseeable future.
This is carrying loyalty to allies rather far. Suppose we passed legislation of this kind and were then left without any reciprocal arrangements in the United States. Would it still be contended that we were a completely independent country and a free and equal partner in N.A.T.O. with the United States? Such a conception would be fantastic, reminding one more than anything else in the world of the late George Orwell's remark that in some countries and in some alliances everybody is equal but some are more equal than others—and we would be less equal than anybody. In those circumstances, I hope that the Committee accepts one of the Amendments before it or rejects the Clause.
§ Mr. Michael Stewart (Fulham, East)
Like many other hon. Members, I came into the Committee this afternoon with the intention of listening rather than speaking. Many of us were in agreement with the general purposes of this Bill to make reasonable arrangements for the good working of the North Atlantic Alliance. But we realised that this is an extremely tricky Bill, that it might contain many legal pitfalls and even to those of us generally in its favour there were a number of points about which we were obliged to feel considerable anxiety.
We came, therefore, partly hoping to hear the legal technicalities expounded by those who understand them on both sides of the Committee, and partly so that we might be reassured about those sections of the Bill which seemed to a lay reading particularly risky or dangerous. Those of us who felt like that were not altogether surprised when, on the very first Amendment, it appeared that there was a considerable legal and constitutional point involved.
We were prepared for the fact that at any moment the lawyers might discover in the Bill something more than any layman could see. But what surprised us was that, when it was apparent that there was an important legal principle here that needed to be fully explained to the Committee, the Government were not in a position to help the Committee to a better 1104 understanding. That has been surprising and disconcerting throughout the general debate on this Amendment.
What is the position? We are told that not only is it important to have a Bill of this kind, which we would all concede, but that it is important particularly to get it applying to United States forces so that it can take the place of the 1942 Act. But we are obliged to notice, as already mentioned by previous speakers, that this, unlike the 1942 Act, is to be permanent legislation on a subject on which it would be inconvenient and altogether unsuitable to bring in a series of amending Bills at frequent intervals. This is one of those topics on which once the House of Commons has legislated it will do well to leave legislation alone for a considerable time.
Therefore, it is of great importance that the Bill which we are asked to pass now should not only be in some respects preferable to the 1942 Act, but should be a good piece of legislation which we can put on the Statute Book with real confidence that we shall not need to amend or touch it for many years to come. Yet here, on the first point that comes up for discussion in Committee, it is apparent that it is no such thing, for no part of this Bill is good unless the principle of reciprocity applies.
When I saw the wording of the Amendment I thought that possibly it was an excess of caution to have the principle of reciprocity written into the Bill in this manner. I thought that if it was possible for the Government to establish beyond doubt that, in fact, there would be reciprocity one might do without altering the words of the Bill. But when the Government approach that task of trying to assure the Committee that the principle of reciprocity really will work and that there is no need for an Amendment like this in the Bill, we find that if there is to be reciprocity so far as the United States is concerned, first of all the treaty has to be ratified by the United States Senate.
All that is fact at the present time is that some steps have been taken towards ratification But Her Majesty's Government are not in a position to tell us when that process of ratification, even, is to be concluded. But we also know that to get reciprocity there must be legislation. At one stage in his remarks the Home Secretary used a form of words 1105 which led us to suppose that there was some sort of Bill either actually drafted or possibly in contemplation by the United States Congress. Do I understand him to say that there is such a Bill?
§ 8.0 p.m.
§ Sir D. Maxwell Fyfe
I said that I was told that the procedure was that at the same time that it was brought before the Senate for ratification there was also introduced—that was the practice—a Bill which would legalise and make binding a treaty. I understand that that is the practice.
§ Mr. Stewart
I am not quite clear how the Home Secretary can use the phrase "the practice" with regard to a type of legalisation for which there is no peacetime parallel either here or in the United States; but if he has been telling us that in the United States in the past, when the ratification of a treaty and consequent legalisation on any topic were in progress, it has been the practice to ratify and introduce legislation at about the same time—and I think that is what he is telling us—he is not telling us anything at all about any Bill to carry out this particular purpose.
If we ask the direct question: Has such a Bill been introduced into the Congress of the United States?—I think that we must conclude that the answer is "No." If we ask the question which an ordinary member of the Committee could not answer, but which might be answered by a member of the Government: Has such a Bill been prepared or is there even a draft of such a Bill?—the Government, the only members of the Committee who could possibly inform us on a point like that, are not only not in a position to do so but have not taken any steps to find out.
It is their casual behaviour which makes it difficult for those of us who welcome the Second Reading of this Bill, who want to watch it carefully, help it through and try to make it a good Bill, to go with the Government. We are obliged to remember that the Government have done this sort of thing before. During the debate on this Bill in Committee I have been alarmingly reminded of the proceedings at the beginning of the Session on the Home Guard Bill, where the Government made the same error of handling a problem, about which we were 1106 all prepared to help it, by bringing forward a hastily devised piece of legislation and having on the Front Bench people who could not answer any of the questions which the House and the Committee would normally ask during the progress of a Bill.
It would not matter so much if the Government did that on a purely domestic matter, but it is too bad when the Government behave in this casual fashion about a matter in which good relations between this country and the United States are involved. We all know that if there are to be good relations between us there are a great many legal and administrative problems which have to be carefully thought out and wisely presented to this Parliament and to Congress in the United States.
The Government ought to have taken more than usual care in the presentation of a Bill of this kind. We are being asked not only to put up with a piece of Governmental slovenliness, but a piece of Governmental slovenliness on a topic where especial care is required. I am sorry if I have spoken with an excess of indignation on the matter, but it is distressing—particularly to people who, like myself, have on a number of occasions gone out of our way to help the cause of good relations between ourselves and the United States—to see those good relations endangered by mere muddle and by the Government coming to the Committee not properly equipped with the facts.
There are still two or three ways by which the Government could get out of this difficulty and by which we could advance to the proper consideration of the Bill. They could say that they will accept my hon. Friends Amendment or if—as so often happens—the actual wording of the Amendment is not satisfactory and might not even realise the end which my hon. Friends had in mind in putting it down, they could say that they will do what the Amendment has in mind by some different means. For instance, they could adopt the suggestion contained in a further Amendment in the name of my hon. Friend the Member for Nelson and Colne (Mr. S. Silverman). Again, they could say, "We do not want to accept either of these Amendments at the present time, but we will give an undertaking to bring in on the Report stage an Amendment which brings about the substance 1107 that is asked for, because the consideration of this Bill is still young at the present time."
If they did not want to go even as far as that they could adopt the suggestion put forward by my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Hornchurch (Mr. Bing) that we should go ahead with the Bill now, but that it should be understood that the Bill should not proceed to its final stages until there had been consultation with the American Government and right hon. Members on the Front Bench were in a position to give us the information and the assurances which are necessary and which they cannot give us at the present time.
There are, therefore, three or four ways in which the Government could get out of the difficulty in which they have landed themselves, and in view of this I hope that they will be willing to adopt one of them. If they are not I am bound to say that I do not see how I or many of my hon. Friends could in any way refrain from supporting the Amendment which has been put down.
§ Mr. Ede (South Shields)
I know that this is an exceedingly difficult matter, and when it appeared to me that I might have the task that has fallen to the right hon. and learned Gentleman tonight I regarded it with the greatest apprehension. I am quite sure that he will realise that I have some consideration for the difficulties that arise. Everyone in the Committee expects that if this Bill is passed it will result in reciprocal action in any country whose armed forces get the benefit of its operation here. I think that is common ground on both sides of the Committee.
I am not going to deal with the difficulties of the American constitution except to say that one of the biggest difficulties that exist has not yet been mentioned, which is that in the Senate, to get ratification, two-thirds of the votes have to be obtained, no matter whether people turn up or not. It is not two-thirds of those present and voting, but 64 at least out of the 96 members.
Will the right hon. and learned Gentleman tell us this—because this goes to the root of the whole matter: If we assume that by the end of next year the American Senate has not ratified the agreement or, if it has, the American 1108 Congress has not passed the necessary legislation to make matters reciprocal in the two countries, what would he propose to do?
§ Mr. Paget
I want to ask one other question before we leave this matter. We have concentrated on America, but this Measure comes into force immediately with regard to many other countries, such as India, Pakistan and Ceylon. Can the right hon. and learned Gentleman tell us whether the Indian Government have passed the necessary legislation, and whether the Indian constitution allows them to reintroduce legislation which would involve having British troops once again in India with extraterritorial rights and exercising a separate jurisdiction? As I remember the constitution of India it was designed to prevent that very thing. Had the Indians and the Pakistanis been consulted?
§ Sir D. Maxwell Fyfe
I recognise the fact that the right hon. Member for South Shields (Mr. Ede) rose out of a fellow-feeling—if not for me for the inheritor of the Visiting Forces Bill, and I feel that it would be quite wrong not to respond. I realise, also, that the hon. Member who preceded him is anxious to help forward the principle of the Bill, however he may feel about certain points.
If I may recapitulate the position as I see it, it is this: I put before the Committee my belief—which, I know, some hon. Members opposite do not share—that in any set of facts it would be a good thing to get an improvement from the 1942 Act by this Bill. That was the first position and the second position was that I have no reason to suppose anything to the contrary, as I hope I have made clear in the last few hours, that the United States would give us reciprocity. The way I put it to the Committee, as the Committee will remember, was, I think, after an interjection by the hon. Member for Nelson and Colne (Mr. S. Silverman), that I want a change from the 1942 position. I thought we ought to effect that change even though reciprocity were delayed owing to the fact that Congress would not be meeting for some time.
Therefore, I asked the Committee—it now seems a long time ago—whether they would accept the qualified amendment which was that it should apply in the case of all other countries, but not in the case of the United States. I think 1109 the Committee will do me this credit, that I did put the position before them quite frankly that that was what I was trying to do.
The point on which the hon. Member for Fulham East (Mr. M. Stewart) criticised me—and I admit there may be substance for that criticism—is that I have not had the documents before me which, I was informed, went to Congress. If the Committee hold me blameworthy for that I take the blame. That is one point; I have been given certain information and, although I quite agree that the perfect Minister in the perfect world would never accept information about the document without seeing the document, I confess I did not. I took the information which was passed on in a Departmental way.
§ Mr. M. Stewart
Would the right hon. and learned Gentleman be able to have the information before the House on the Report stage?
§ Sir D. Maxwell Fyfe
I have already made inquiries. I do not want to give an undertaking when I am in a difficult position, but I have already tried to get it and I would rather leave it that way than to give an undertaking about it. On that point I agree, but I have never told the Committee otherwise. That was the information given to me and that was what I believed and still believe to be the position.
The new point that has developed today is the suggestion that there are constitutional difficulties. I put to the Committee these two facts. First of all, all countries mentioned in the case of which constitutional difficulties have been imagined, have signed the agreement. The agreement was signed a considerable time ago and it was signed by the Government which hon. Members opposite supported. The country has signed the agreement and I think it is going quite far to suggest that they would sign the agreement knowing, or having had the view suggested, that it could not be ratified.
The right hon. Gentlemen and their colleagues, when they made this agreement, had the most expert advice, not only from their own offices, but from all the international law resources which are at the call of the Foreign Office. I 1110 cannot believe that right hon. Gentlemen opposite signed an agreement which they knew, or even suspected, could not be given effect to by the other signatories. I am sure they would not have done that. It is an interesting point that there are two of them present who were in the Government at the time. Of course, neither of them has suggested that they signed the agreement with any suggestion being made that the co-signatories could not carry it out, any less or any more than this country could carry it out.
We have had a most interesting excursion into the constitutional position in the United States. I hope that the hon. and learned Member for Hornchurch (Mr. Bing) will not hold it against me as being levity when I say that I have argued on a remunerative basis some of the points he raised, but I will not say that I have not enjoyed them tonight, because he raised the points quite well.
Now I come to the point put to me by the right hon. Member for South Shields (Mr. Ede). As he appreciates, there is power not only to apply the Act but to disapply the Act. That can be done and he would not, nor would anyone who has been a Minister, expect me to say now what course will be taken if certain things should eventuate. I point out that we have got these powers and I sincerely hope that nothing will be done to break down the co-operation of the general alliance and working together for which right hon. Gentlemen opposite worked and for which we are working. I only point out, as a matter of constitutional law and procedure, which is what we have been discussing tonight, that there are avenues open, and we have kept them open, to deal with the situation should it develop in an unfortunate way.
After what I have said, I hope the Committee will be prepared to come to a decision in this matter. As hon. Members have indicated, this is not the final stage of the Bill; the matter can be brought up again. Although it is not strictly in order, may I say that I have tried—as hon. Members who have perused the Order Paper will know—in a number of cases to meet points raised on Second Reading. There are at least seven subjects where I have tried to do so by putting down Amendments. I should not like the Committee to take 1111 from any words of mine the feeling that this has been dealt with in an unfriendly way. That is the last thing I want.
I have put the position as it seems to me. I have tried to put frankly to the Committee the position I am in. If the Committee feel that I ought to have obtained more exact information, in the traditional way I can only tell the Committee at once that I am sorry I have not and that I will do my best to rectify it and at all times to be frank about the position.
As we have had this discussion and hon. Members have, quite properly, voiced their criticism with the directness we expect in this Committee, I hope that they will leave this point to be pursued on a further occasion. But if they desire
§ to register their view they can vote for an Amendment which, I am afraid, if passed would not have the effect of doing what it is intended to do.
§ Question put, "That those words be there inserted."
§ The Committee divided: Ayes, 154; Noes, 164.1113
|Division No. 242.]||AYES||[8.20 p.m.|
|Anderson, Alexander (Motherwell)||Grenfell, Rt. Hon. D. R.||Padley, W. E.|
|Awbery, S. S.||Griffiths, David (Rother Valley)||Paget, R. T.|
|Bartley, P.||Grimond, J.||Paling, Will T. (Dewsbury)|
|Benson, G.||Hale, Leslie (Oldham, W.)||Pannell, Charles|
|Beswick, F.||Hall, Rt. Hon. Glenvil (Colne Valley)||Pargiter, G. A.|
|Bevan, Rt. Hon. A. (Ebbw Vale)||Hall, John (Gateshead, W.)||Paton, J.|
|Bing, G. H. C.||Hamilton, W. W.||Pearson, A.|
|Blackburn, F.||Hargreaves, A.||Peart, T. F.|
|Blyton, W. R.||Hastings, S.||Plummer, Sir Leslie|
|Boardman, H.||Hayman, F. H.||Poole, C. C.|
|Bowden, H. W.||Healey, Denis (Leeds, S. E.)||Popplewell, E.|
|Bowen, E. R.||Henderson, Rt. Hon. A. (Rowley Regis)||Porter, G.|
|Braddock, Mrs. Elizabeth||Holt, A. F.||Price, Joseph T. (Westhoughton)|
|Brockway, A. F.||Hubbard, T. F.||Proctor, W. T.|
|Brook, Dryden (Halifax)||Hudson, James (Ealing, N.)||Rhodes, H.|
|Brown, Rt. Hon. George (Belper)||Hughes, Cledwyn (Anglesey)||Richards, R.|
|Butler, Herbert (Hackney, S.)||Hughes, Emrys (S. Ayrshire)||Roberts, Goronwy (Caernarvonshire)|
|Castle, Mrs. B. A.||Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.)||Robinson, Kenneth (St. Pancras, N.)|
|Champion, A. J.||Hynd, H. (Accrington)||Rogers, George (Kensington, N.)|
|Chetwynd, G. R.||Irvine, A. J. (Edge Hill)||Ross, William|
|Clunie, J.||Irving, W. J. (Wood Green)||Royle, C.|
|Coldrick, W.||Jenkins, R. H. (Stechford)||Schofield, S. (Barnsley)|
|Collick, P. H.||Jones, David (Hartlepool)||Shackleton, E. A. A.|
|Corbet, Mrs. Freda||Jones, Jack (Rotherham)||Shinwell, Rt. Hon. E.|
|Craddock, George (Bradford, S.)||Keenan, W.||Short, E. W.|
|Crosland, C. A. R.||Kenyon, C.||Silverman, Sydney (Nelson)|
|Cullen, Mrs. A.||King, Dr. H. M.||Simmons, C. J. (Brierley Hill)|
|Dalton, Rt. Hon H.||Kinley, J.||Smith, Ellis (Stoke, S.)|
|Darling, George (Hillsborough)||Lee, Frederick (Newton)||Soskice, Rt. Hon. Sir Frank|
|Davies, A. Edward (Stoke, N.)||Lever, Leslie (Ardwick)||Sparks, J. A.|
|Davies, Ernest (Enfield, E.)||Lindgren, G. S.||Stewart, Michael (Fulham, E.)|
|Davies, Stephen (Merthyr)||Logan, D. G.||Strachey, Rt. Hon. J.|
|Deer, G.||McGhee, H. G.||Summerskill, Rt. Hon. E.|
|Delargy, H. J.||McKay, John (Wallsend)||Sylvester, G. O.|
|Dugdale, Rt. Hon. John (W. Bromwich)||McLeavy, F.||Taylor, Bernard (Mansfield)|
|Ede, Rt. Hon. J. C.||MacPherson, Malcolm (Stirling)||Taylor, Rt. Hon. Robert (Morpeth)|
|Edelman, M.||Mallalieu, E. L. (Brigg)||Thomas, David (Aberdare)|
|Edwards, Rt. Hon. Ness (Caerphilly)||Mann, Mrs. Jean||Thomas, Ivor Owen (Wrekin)|
|Evans, Edward (Lowestoft)||Manuel, A. C.||Thomson, George (Dundee, E.)|
|Evans, Stanley (Wednesbury)||Mayhew, C. P.||Wade, D. W.|
|Fernyhough, E.||Messer, F.||West, D. G.|
|Finch, H. J.||Mikardo, Ian||White, Henry (Derbyshire, N. E.)|
|Fletcher, Eric (Islington, E.)||Monslow, W.||Whiteley, Rt. Hon. W.|
|Foot, M. M.||Morgan, Dr. H. B. W.||Wigg, George|
|Fraser, Thomas (Hamilton)||Morley, R.||Wilkins, W. A.|
|Freeman, John (Watford)||Morris, Percy (Swansea, W.)||Williams, David (Neath)|
|Gaitskell, Rt. Hon. H. T. N.||Mort, D. L.||Williams, Ronald (Wigan)|
|Gibson, C. W.||Moyle, A.||Williams, W. R. (Droylsden)|
|Glanville, James||Murray, J. D.||Winterbottom, Richard (Brightside)|
|Gooch, E. G.||Neal, Harold (Bolsover)||Woodburn, Rt Hon A.|
|Greenwood, Anthony (Rossendale)||Oldfield, W. H.|
|Greenwood, Rt. Hn. Arthur (Wakefield)||Oswald, T.||TELLERS FOR THE AYES:|
|Mr. Arthur Allen and Mr. Holmes.|
|Aitken, W. T.||Harris, Frederic (Croydon, N.)||Orr, Capt. L. P. S.|
|Amery, Julian (Preston, N.)||Harrison, Col. J. H. (Eye)||Orr-Ewing, Charles Ian (Hendon, N.)|
|Anstruther-Gray, Major W. J.||Harvey, Ian (Harrow, E.)||Orr-Ewing, Ian L. (Weston-super-Mare)|
|Baldwin, A. E.||Heald, Sir Lionel||Partridge, E.|
|Banks, Col. C.||Heath, Edward||Perkins, W. R. D.|
|Barber, Anthony||Higgs, J. M. C.||Powell, J. Enoch|
|Barlow, Sir John||Hill, Mrs. E. (Wythenshawe)||Price, Henry (Lewisham, W.)|
|Baxter, A. B.||Hinchingbrooke, Viscount||Raikes, H. V.|
|Beach, Maj. Hicks||Hirst, Geoffrey||Redmayne, M.|
|Bennett, Sir Peter (Edgbaston)||Holland-Martin, C. J.||Remnant, Hon. P.|
|Bennett, Dr. Reginald (Gosport)||Hollis, M. C.||Renton, D. L. M.|
|Bennett, William (Woodside)||Hornsby-Smith, Miss M. P.||Roberts, Peter (Heeley)|
|Bevins, J. R. (Toxteth)||Horobin, I. M.||Robinson, Roland (Blackpool, S.)|
|Birch, Nigel||Howard, Gerald (Cambridgeshire)||Robson-Brown, W.|
|Bishop, F. P.||Howard, Greville (St. Ives)||Roper, Sir Harold|
|Boothby, R. J. G.||Hudson, Sir Austin (Lewisham, N.)||Ropner, Col. Sir Leonard|
|Boyle, Sir Edward||Hudson, W. R. A. (Hull, N.)||Russell, R. S.|
|Brooke, Henry (Hampstead)||Hylton-Foster, H. B. H.||Salter, Rt. Hon. Sir Arthur|
|Brooman-White, R. C.||Jenkins, Robert (Dulwich)||Schofield, Lt.-Col. W. (Rochdale)|
|Buchan-Hepburn, Rt. Hon. P. G. T.||Johnson, Eric (Blackley)||Scott, R. Donald|
|Bullard D. G.||Kerr, H. W. (Cambridge)||Scott-Miller, Cmdr. R.|
|Bullock, Capt. M.||Langford-Holt, J. A.||Shepherd, William|
|Burden, F. F. A.||Legge-Bourke, Maj. E. A. H.||Simon, J. E. S. (Middlesbrough, W.)|
|Carr, Robert (Mitcham)||Legh, P. R. (Petersfield)||Smiles, Lt.-Col. Sir Walter|
|Carson, Hon. E.||Linstead, H. N.||Smithers, Peter (Winchester)|
|Cary, Sir Robert||Lloyd, Maj. Guy (Renfrew, E.)||Soames, Capt. C.|
|Channon, H.||Lockwood, Lt.-Col. J. C.||Spearman, A. C. M.|
|Clarke, Col. Ralph (East Grinstead)||Longden, Gilbert (Herts, S. W.)||Stanley, Capt. Hon. Richard|
|Cole, Norman||Low, A. R. W.||Stevens, G. P.|
|Conant, Maj. R. J. E.||Lucas, Sir Jocelyn (Portsmouth, S.)||Stewart, Henderson (Fife, E.)|
|Craddock, Beresford (Spelthorne)||Lucas, P. B. (Brentford)||Storey, S.|
|Crookshank, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. F. C.||Lucas-Tooth, Sir Hugh||Stuart, Rt. Hon. James (Moray)|
|Crosthwaite-Eyre, Col. O. E.||McCallum, Major D.||Studholme, H. G.|
|Crouch, R. F.||Macdonald, Sir Peter (I. of Wight)||Summers, G. S.|
|Crowder, Sir John (Finchley)||Mackeson, Brig. H. R.||Taylor, William (Bradford, N.)|
|Digby, S. Wingfield||McKibbin, A. J.||Teeling, W.|
|Dodds-Parker, A. D.||McKie, J. H. (Galloway)||Thornton-Kemsley, Col. C. N.|
|Donaldson, Cmdr. C. E. McA.||Maclay, Rt. Hon. John||Touche, Sir Gordon|
|Donner, P. W.||Maclean, Fitzroy||Turner, H. F. L.|
|Doughty, C. J. A.||Macmillan, Rt. Hon. Harold (Bromley)||Turton, R. H.|
|Drayson, G. B.||Macpherson, Maj. Niall (Dumfries)||Vane, W. M. F.|
|Drewe, C.||Maitland, Comdr. J. F. W. (Horncastle)||Wakefield, Edward (Derbyshire, W.)|
|Duncan, Capt. J. A. L.||Maitland, Patrick (Lanark)||Wakefield, Sir Wavell (Marylebone)|
|Duthie, W. S.||Manningham-Buller, Sir R. E.||Ward, Miss I. (Tynemouth)|
|Fell, A.||Marshall, Douglas (Bodmin)||Waterhouse, Capt. Rt. Hon. C.|
|Fisher, Nigel||Maude, Angus||Wellwood, W.|
|Fleetwood-Hesketh, R. F.||Maydon, Lt.-Comdr. S. L. C.||White, Baker (Canterbury)|
|Fraser, Sir Ian (Morecambe & Lonsdale)||Medlicott, Brig. F.||Williams, Rt. Hon. Charles (Torquay)|
|Fyfe, Rt. Hon. Sir David Maxwell||Morrison, John (Salisbury)||Williams, Gerald (Tonbridge)|
|Galbraith, T. G. D. (Hillhead)||Nabarro, G. D. N.||Williams, Sir Herbert (Croydon, E.)|
|Godber, J. B.||Nicolson, Nigel (Bournemouth, E.)||Williams, R. Dudley (Exeter)|
|Gomme-Duncan, Col. A.||Nield, Basil (Chester)||Wilson, Geoffrey (Truro)|
|Gower, H. R.||Noble, Cmdr. A. H. P.|
|Graham, Sir Fergus||Nugent, G. R. H.||TELLERS FOR THE NOES:|
|Grimston, Hon. John (St. Albans)||Oakshott, H. D.||Mr. Vosper and|
|Hare, Hon. J. H.||Odey, G. W.||Mr. Richard Thompson.|
Question put, and agreed to.
§ 8.30 p.m.
§ Mr. E. Fletcher
I beg to move, in page 2, line 6, after "such," to insert "limitations."
This is a verbal Amendment which I hope the Government will accept. It is intended to make abundantly clear that in respect of any foreign country to which hereafter the Government decide by Order in Council to apply the provisions of this Bill, they may in the Order in Council introduce any limitations that may be necessary on the exemptions being granted by the main provisions of this Bill.
For example, it may well be found that in the course of negotiations, either with 1114 the United States Government or other Governments, that for constitutional or other reasons some other Government is unable to give us full reciprocity. They may be able to give us some protection but not the full protection envisaged by this Bill. In those circumstances, it might be desirable that the Bill should apply to some other foreign country with whatever limitations the Government may be able to arrange as a result of some negotiations. I hope the Government will accept both the spirit and the letter of the Amendment.
§ Lieut.-Colonel Marcus Lipton (Brixton)
I should like to associate myself with what my hon. Friend has said. I do 1115 so because I am trying to apply one general test to all the Amendments on the Order Paper, namely: Do they or do they not give such additional powers to the Government of this country to protect the situation as it affects us without prejudice to the general principles underlying the Bill? Because this Amendment seeks to give just a little additional power to the Government—additional power which will not, I think, prejudice the generality of the argument in favour of the Bill as a whole—I express the hope that the Attorney-General will find it possible to accept the Amendment.
§ The Attorney-General (Sir Lionel Heald)
We are quite prepared to accept this Amendment. Perhaps I might be allowed to say just this. Subsection (3) says:it shall have effect subject to such adaptations or modifications as may be specified in the Order.The view we take, which I venture to think is a quite sound one, is that "adaptations or modifications" could never be construed as allowing any substantial extension. At the same time, it can do no possible harm to make it quite clear that it is only to cover limitations. Therefore, in order to save time, and also because it is a perfectly sound principle to make matters abundantly clear, we propose to accept the Amendment.
§ Amendment agreed to.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Clause, as amended, stand part of the Bill."
§ Mr. Paget
I had put down an Amendment to leave out subsection (3). I believe that the Amendment which has now been accepted together with the assurance of the Attorney-General go a very long way to meet my point on that subsection. I feel that on a Bill such as this, which limits constitutional rights, it would be altogether wrong to provide that the Bill itself and the powers it gives should be variable by the Executive by Order. With a view to adapting it to specific countries, it may be necessary to cut out certain parts, as long as that does not involve adapting it by enlarging it and enlarging the powers.
I wish to revert to the central argument which we have had upon this question of reciprocity. I raised this matter very 1116 strongly on the Second Reading because I believed then, and this argument has done much to confirm me in that belief, that this was really the wrong way to do it; that one ought not to legislate in order to give effect to the general agreement, but one ought to legislate to give effect to each particular agreement when it has been hammered out to suit the circumstances of each particular country.
On this question of reciprocity, I pointed out to the Home Secretary, at the conclusion of his speech upon the main Amendment, that this Bill, when it becomes an Act, comes into operation immediately so far as India, Pakistan, Ceylon and the other Dominions are concerned. The right hon. Gentleman then referred me to Clause 19, and it is perfectly true that the Measure as a whole is only brought into operation by Order in Council, but if it is brought into operation for anybody, whether it be America or anybody else, then immediately it is brought into operation in the case of the Dominions whose names are set out in Clause 1.
I feel that we ought not to pass from this Clause without pressing the Government, at least when we come to the Report stage, to tell the House what India has done, what Pakistan has done and what Ceylon has done; what agreements have been come to with those countries and whether, in fact, there is to be any reciprocity with those countries.
Again, some of us would be interested to know what is the position with regard to the Union of South Africa. The right hon. and learned Gentleman the Home Secretary is always so charming in the House, in taking all the blame upon his shoulders for coming here and asking for a Bill without any of the relevant information being before the Committee, that one feels a little boorish in pressing the matter, but, nevertheless, it is a serious matter if we are not to have this relevant information at some point, and I ask before we part with this Clause for an assurance that we may be informed, when we get to the Report stage, what is the position in regard to each of these countries, what legislation they have introduced, what legislation is necessary, and whether it is possible for India and Pakistan within their constitutions to introduce legislation analogous to that which we are being asked to pass tonight.
§ Mr. Bing
I beg the right hon. and learned Gentleman's pardon. Probably both of us were being courteous for so long that it almost gave the Chairman an opportunity to put the Question, and that is a courtesy which, I am sure, both sides of the Committee would think was being carried a little too far. Now that I am on my feet, may I say that if the Attorney-General is in a position to deal with the legal argument, which his right hon. Friend the Home Secretary was not, I think that on both sides of the Committee we would greatly appreciate it.
We should like to know what steps will be taken to discover how other States will give us reciprocity. Can the Attorney-General tell us when this information will be available? Can he assure us that a cable has now gone to Washington to ask for an opinion to be sent to us? In America there are lawyers who work at high pressure, and no doubt we should within three or four days—or the matter can be deferred until the next Session, because there is no hurry about it—be in a position to know whether or not we shall get reciprocity. It is not so much to ask. I am sure that the Attorney-General feels that if he is not able to answer the question it must be one of great profundity and one on which it is worth seeking a United States opinion.
Tentatively, many hon. Members on this side of the Committee have put forward the view that reciprocity on the part of the United States is impossible. Is the Attorney-General so certain about that? What was quite clear was that the Home Secretary had confused two processes of legislation which are well known to those who make a study of the methods of the United States Congress. The Home Secretary was confusing the legislation which sometimes accompanies the ratification of a treaty with the legislation which implements it, but they are two distinct and different matters. We want to know, not merely whether the necessary legislation to ratify, where such is 1118 required, is to be introduced, but whether there is any intention or ability to introduce any legislation in order to implement the treaty in the United States.
I hope the Attorney-General is in a position to give us that information now. In those circumstances, I willingly give way, having risen, as he well appreciates, only owing to a misunderstanding between himself and myself.
§ The Attorney-General
I apologise for any misunderstanding which there may have been between myself and the hon. and learned Member for Hornchurch (Mr. Bing). I did not rise because I did not believe it possible that he did not propose to speak on the Question that the Clause stand part of the Bill. The hon. and learned Gentleman remarked that lawyers work at high pressure. I agree that some of them seem to do so.
The matters which he has raised can very safely be left in the hands of my right hon. and learned Friend the Home Secretary, who has already said that he will go into them carefully. Only the Home Secretary can deal with them at the proper time. It is no use hon. Gentlemen opposite trying to drive a wedge into this side of the Committee.
I cannot very well carry any further the fundamental question raised by the hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Northampton (Mr. Paget). It has already been discussed at such length that I feel that anything I added to it would be a waste of the Committee's time. Therefore, I really do not think I can add any more, except to say that I am entirely in agreement with my right hon. and learned Friend in the matter. As it is his concern, it is very much better to accept what he has already said, and I ask the Committee to do that.
§ Mr. E. Fletcher
It is all very well for the Attorney-General to say that it is the Home Secretary's concern, but surely it is the concern of the Government and of the whole Committee. As the Attorney-General must surely be aware by now, we are all vitally concerned about the matter.
All that my hon. Friends are asking for is an assurance that effective mechanical steps have been taken by somebody in the Government to obtain the information from the United States—also from India and Pakistan, but from the United 1119 States in particular—so that on the Report stage the House will know precisely what, if any, legislation has been introduced before the United States Congress to give effect to the Treaty if and when the United States ratifies it. My hon. Friends also want to know what information the Government have obtained as to the constitutional powers of Congress or the various state legislatures to pass legislation which will give effect to the treaty. Surely the Attorney-General can give us an assurance that steps are being taken to furnish that information not merely at the Report stage but before the Report stage.
We are trying to get this vitally important legislation, which affects the liberty of the subject, through its remaining stages before the Session comes to an end, and it is not fair to ask us to do it unless we are properly informed about the relevant position. I do not know when the Report stage is to take place, but today is Wednesday and the Report stage cannot take place before Monday. This is a subject on which I hope for an assurance that we will be furnished with this information before the Report stage. It could be published as a White Paper. Could we please have that assurance?
§ Lieut.-Colonel Lipton
The Committee is in a real difficulty, which arises because the Government have introduced a Measure without informing themselves fully as to the importance of the principles involved. The information that we seek is of vital consequence. It would be out of order if I quoted too extensively by way of analogy what, in my view, was the precipitate action of the Government in regard to the German treaties. There does not seem to be any reason why, in any other international arrangement or series of recognitions in which we are concerned, we should always and invariably be the first Government to take the necessary steps without trying to find out what others are doing.
It might be possible to argue that we cannot hold up the necessary legislation here until we obtain the views of all other countries which might be concerned, and get from them specific assurances and all that sort of thing; but it is not unreasonable to suggest that the Government should have some information 1120 in the case of this Bill as to what is taking place in other countries. It would help to allay some of the disquiet and discomfort which some of us feel about this Measure.
We have no wish to put forward unreasonable difficulties or arguments. It is true that the Measure has been introduced at a late stage in the Session and we are pressed for time, but that fact should not deprive us of the right to be as fully informed as we can be of the action that is being taken by other Governments concerned in the matter.
§ Mr. Paget
I do not want to be awkward, but here the Government bring forward a Bill and say that its basis is reciprocity. They have not got the information as to what one other single party to the agreement has done in order to bring about that reciprocity which they themselves say is fundamental. They tell us that Canada is the only one that has ratified the treaty let alone introduced the legislation which we are considering tonight. They do not know anything, as far as I am aware, about what legislation has been introduced in Canada. They have no idea what has been introduced in Australia and not a clue as to what has happened in New Zealand, let alone in the Union of South Africa, Pakistan or India.
Is it not reasonable in those circumstances that we should, before we part with the Bill, ask for an assurance and ask to be supplied with the elementary information of the utmost importance with which we ought to have been supplied? One does not want to force unnecessary Divisions or to waste time, but if we cannot have a satisfactory assurance we cannot accept the Clause.
§ Mr. Bing
The Attorney-General's answer was most unsatisfactory. Nobody is trying to drive a wedge between him and his hon. and learned Friend, but we have always worked on the principle that if a senior colleague leaves the Bench and a junior one is left he is the one who speaks for the Government. If the senior leaves the Bench he cannot speak. The only one who is left on the Bench is the Attorney-General and I address my questions to him.
He knows that under Article 18 all the ratifications have to be deposited at Washington. We are told that only one 1121 State has ratified the agreement. How can we make certain that we shall get reciprocity if we cannot be certain that sufficient States will deposit their ratifications to make the agreement work at all? When does the hon. and learned Gentleman expect that those ratifications will be deposited? When does he expect to get even the minimum number? We do not need very many to carry the matter through, but at least we need four.
Are we to get information when four States will have ratified? As 30 days have to elapse after the four States ratify, what is the argument about against postponing the Measure now? Surely it can be left over until next Session, when assurances can be obtained from the United States. If they cannot be obtained, the Bill can be reintroduced on a new basis.
The agreement was entered into in perfectly good faith that reciprocity would be obtainable. If there are doubts about reciprocity they alter the whole situation. It may be desirable to ratify the agreement under conditions where there is not reciprocity, but we ought to be in a position to know. It is not for the hon. and learned Gentleman to push off his responsibility by saying, "It does not matter. One of my colleagues has said something."
Before we part with the Clause we want the Attorney-General to say something and to give a further undertaking that the information will be obtained and that there will be a clearer statement before we are asked to look at the matter again. That is the undertaking we ask for from him, and we hope that we shall get it.
§ The Attorney-General
I am sorry if there is any misunderstanding about my attitude. What I said was dictated by one idea and one only, which was that when the Home Secretary had said he would do his best before the Report stage to get the information if it was available it was imperative for me not to cast the slightest doubt upon that undertaking. As a loyal colleague it was my duty to say that my right hon. Friend would do his best to get the information and place it as the disposal of the House. I cannot go any further than that.
An undertaking that something will be done has to be interpreted, as the hon. 1122 and learned Member for Hornchurch (Mr. Bing) ought to know, in a practical way. To give an undertaking that we will do our best to get the information is one thing. To undertake to get the information is something which I cannot do. We shall, of course, do our best to get it and to deal with the questions which have been raised.
The proper thing to do in this situation I have always thought, with my training, which has been just the same as that of the hon. and learned Member for Hornchurch, is to make sure that we get the best information available and give it at the time when we have it. That time, it seems to me, is the Report stage, at which we can give all the information that is available for this purpose. The House will have the matter entirely in its own hands and it is simply with the idea of saving the time of the Committee, of helping the Committee as much as possible, that I suggest that is the right line for us to take.
§ Clause, as amended, ordered to stand part of the Bill.