HC Deb 22 April 1959 vol 604 cc484-555
Mr. Hale

I beg to move, in page 1, line 6, to leave out the first "or" and to insert "and".

This Amendment is a singularly short one, but of very great importance. It raises the whole question of the object of the Bill. Subsection (1) says: It shall be an offence for a common prostitute to loiter or solicit in a street or public place for the purpose of prostitution. The House will be aware that until now the law in this matter has always demanded that there should be evidence that somebody was annoyed or that there was conduct which was capable of annoying someone. That test is being taken out. There has always been the argument that different standards of conduct cause different standards of annoyance. I am frequently solicited in the Library of the House of Commons by a voice whispering in my ear, when I am trying to concentrate and study, "Would you like a pair for tonight?"

I am much more annoyed by that invitation, at that time, than by an invitation from a lady in Cumberland Street, addressed to me in a much more mellifluous voice, and which it is much more simple to refuse; I merely have to pass on. Similarly, a heavy lorry, stationary in Old Compton Street, is much more of a nuisance than a girl standing on a step there.

This matter has gone well outside the sphere of being a subject about which one could be facetious, because these girls can now go to prison. The first fundamental proposition I would make is that putting a girl into prison for three months will not do her any good, and will not do the prison or any other woman in the prison any good, either. Until the Home Office devises a place for reception the question of detention should be ruled out.

The Amendment raises the question of the sincerity and attitude of the Measure. Throughout the Committee stage no one explained why the provision in subsection (1) was being introduced. No one has said that there is suddenly a need for it. The Attorney-General has said that, on the whole, there are not nearly so many prostitutes as people think. People talk about the magnitude of this problem, but when we read of Mayhew's days and of Charles Booth's researches into the houses in London, and read that the whole vast area where Waterloo Station now stands was one vast stew, where a girl of 10 could be bought wholesale for a few shillings and transported without anyone raising any question, we get a little better picture of the importance of the matter.

What is the Government's attitude? I read a Press cutting this morning, discussing the somewhat irrelevant topic of my interest in poetry. Perhaps I may recall the only poem that I ever learnt in its entirety, apart from the somewhat irreverent one about Yuletide celebrations in a public institution, to which I need not refer. The poem which I learnt begins as follows: She was poor but she was honest, Victim of a rich man's game. Now she is selling penny matches, Isn't it… a deplorable pity?

If we are to agree to the Government's proposal we need a new verse to the poem, many as there are already. We should add: He was old and he was beastly, Oozing lust and full of drink, And he bought a maiden's virtue, Then, as a chorus of Parliamentary Secretaries: Let us put the girl in clink. Surely that is a fair statement. The Parliamentary draftsman has decided that the act of fornication can be committed between male and female without the male being involved. I would like to see a Clause introduced to provide that the man as well as the woman should be convicted if he takes part in this offence.

If these girls are to be selected for special punishment, and as objects of special detestation, we should be honest and say whether we are opposed to it or not. It is not an easy subject to deal with, or to speak frankly upon, but we now talk about it in a new atmosphere. In my constituency some of the most profoundly religious people I know are concerned about the rather horrifying characteristics of the Bill. Some very decent and highly moral men of ethical standing say that they find something utterly distasteful and repulsive in these provisions.

Let us see what provision we are making for these girls. We may think that they are enemies of society, to some extent. Many people think that, but however distasteful we may think this sort of thing is, we must bear in mind that if we take it away matters may get worse. Many people argue that if we take it away it may be worse for decent girls living in towns. At least, it is a matter about which we know little.

We are increasing the penalties, and we are decreasing the amount of evidence needed to a very marked extent. We are saying that it is no longer necessary to prove any offence, and that all that we need is evidence of loitering or soliciting, coupled with the words, for the purpose of prostitution which is an opinion in a police constable's mind, and no more. Any girl can now be brought before a court, subject to the provision that two cautions have been administered to her. The cautioning system is not embodied in the Act, and we can only hope that it will work. Subject to that, any girl is liable to be convicted on evidence either that she loitered or that she solicited.

8.15 p.m.

It might be said, "I heard a couple of words which sounded like, 'Come on dearie' "That is soliciting. Or it might be said, "I saw her standing in Old Compton Street and not moving about." That is loitering. There may have been no annoyance. She may have done nothing to antagonise anybody. All that would be on the evidence of one policeman. That is evidence which can be given against the girl who is charged on the charge sheet with the offence, having been described as a common prostitute. Nobody would dream of charging a Member of Parliament with speeding and then saying, "He is a fast-driving Member of Parliament and we are, therefore, sure that he was speeding."

I know that it will be said, "These girls keep appearing before the courts. We take the money from them and they earn it later. What does it matter?" The fact remains that some prostitutes leave the profession. We are trying to encourage them to do so. The fact remains that they are liable to be charged years later if they visit their old haunts. A girl who has been convicted in 1959 under the Bill can be brought back thirty years later and charged as a common prostitute if she is seen loitering. That is a fact. I suggest that we should make the law as we intend it to be.

What is the position of a girl charged under the Bill who wishes to plead not guilty? What can she say? The evidence against her is that of one policeman who says, "I saw her standing in the street. She is a common prostitute. She was loitering. She was waiting for customers." That is all. Alternatively, he may say, "I saw her follow a man and say something to him. He appeared to be a stranger. It sounded like an invitation." That is all that is needed under the Clause. No one need say another word.

It is said that these girls always plead guilty, and it is true that often they do plead guilty. That is not the case about which we are very much worried, although it may be that many girls plead guilty because they feel that there is little chance of an acquittal anyway. It is difficult for the magistrate to acquit on the police evidence. Let us face that fact.

Let us take the case, however, where the girl says, "I want to plead not guilty and I will go into the witness box." She will be asked whether she was in Old Compton Street and she will admit that she was. Asked what she was doing there, she may say that she was waiting for a friend. She will be asked, "What sort of friend? Male or female?" She may say, "I was waiting for my boy friend". Next, she will be asked, "Were you standing about?" "Yes, I was", might be the reply. What more can she say? What other answer is she to give?

Never before in the history of this country has a grave criminal charge—and it is a grave criminal charge, carrying loss of reputation and three months' imprisonment—been put in terms so vague and so impossible to describe. All this can be established by a mere collection of words. In my view, it is a deplorable proposition, and in this respect this is a deplorable Bill.

I am glad that later some of my hon. Friends will speak on the question of penalties, but at the moment we are talking about the offence. I do not want to speak for much longer, and, in conclusion, I ask the Government how much more difficult it would be made for the prosecution if we substituted the word "and" for the word "or" and made the phrase read "loiters and solicits". How difficult would it be for the prosecution and how much should we add to their troubles? Surely we ought to be able to say before we arrest a girl for prostitution that she has been hanging about the streets and soliciting. Surely it is the essence of the charge that both those two elements should exist. Surely we cannot present a charge which merits a conviction unless we can say that it contains both those elements.

Mrs. L. Jeger

I beg to second the Amendment.

The Joint Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department (Mr. David Renton)

The effect of the Amendment would be that the prosecution would always have to prove both loitering and soliciting on every charge in every case instead of merely either loitering or soliciting. Although there are many occasions when women are doing both, there are many other occasions when clearly they are only loitering for prostitution but are not soliciting in any sense, unless, perhaps, by some meaningful motion of the eye. That would probably not amount to soliciting in the eyes of the law.

Mr. Alan Fitch (Wigan)

The term "loitering" has been used a great deal. Is it not open to wide interpretation

Mr. Renton

There are many words which Parliament uses in legislation which are open to more than one interpretation, but in the context in which it is likely to be used in these cases I think that the meaning of "loitering" is absolutely clear. Indeed, it is the first time I have heard it suggested that "loitering" is other than a perfectly clear word. When the Wolfenden Committee considered this matter they did not consider that there was any ambiguity. The word means "loitering", and we all know what loitering is.

Mr. Hale

Is she loitering if she is standing still?

Mr. Renton

Yes, I think so. A person who is standing still on the street or moving slowly about the street or even wandering up and down the street might well be considered by the courts to be loitering, but in this, as in so many cases, it is a matter for the courts to interpret, although I do not think that they would have any difficulty in interpreting this word.

As the Wolfenden Committee and the Macmillan Committee found, there is no doubt that a public nuisance arises. Here one touches on a later Amendment in the name of the hon. Member for Oldham, West (Mr. Hale). The obvious presence of prostitutes on the streets for the purpose of their trade and their loitering for the purpose of prostitution, without any overt act of soliciting, are among the things which it is the object of the Bill to prevent.

There are many occasions on which a woman may be both loitering and soliciting. There are other occasions on which a woman may be achieving her purpose by loitering without overt acts of soliciting. There are yet other occasions, perhaps more rare, in which there may be soliciting without loitering. An example which comes to mind is that in which a woman uses her own house as the place where she carries on her trade. She does not loiter in the street to get her customers, but watches from a window of her house and then goes into the street and solicits a man when she sees him passing by. That is a very clear case of soliciting without loitering, and it is a case that it is right for us to cover in the Bill.

Loitering and soliciting are separate actions and must be made the subject of possibly separate offences. That is why we have used the word "or" in the Bill. The existing law dealt with the matter in the same way. It is clear from reading its Report that the Wolfenden Committee considered that loitering and soliciting were separate offences. For those reasons I am afraid that we cannot accept the Amendment.

Amendment negatived.

Mrs. L. Jeger

I beg to move, in line 7, at the end to insert: so as to constitute a nuisance It is necessary to look at the Amendment in the light of other provisions of the Bill. Indeed, without straying from the rules of order, it is essential to consider one or two other things which the Bill does which make the Amendment al, the more necessary.

The Bill changes the existing legislation on the basis of the advice of the Wolfenden Committee by removing any need to prove annoyance. This was done mainly on the ground that the need to prove annoyance had become a dead letter. In my opinion, one of the reasons it had become a dead letter was that in relation to the value of money the penalties were derisory, and for that reason very few of these cases were contested. Under the Bill very heavy money penalties can be imposed and a woman can be sent to prison. It is a great pity that the Government eliminated the need to prove annoyance at the same time as they were increasing the penalties to such a harsh extent that the number of contested cases is bound to increase.

Although very often the annoyance question was a dead letter, it was not without some use on the Statute Book for occasions on which a woman honestly wished to contest the charge. On a previous occasion I referred to a case I heard in Marlborough Street Police Court in which a girl had contested a charge on the grounds that she had not annoyed anybody. She had in fact met her customer at an appointed time and an appointed place, and she won her case.

The fact that a citizen, a prostitute or not, can demand that evidence of annoyance or nuisance must be produced is a very real protection. Now that has gone. Furthermore, the Bill introduces a second-class citizen into our legal system. These penalties are to refer only to women who are common prostitutes. That is another reason why I think Parliament, which is as responsible for the rights of these women as citizens as it is for the rights of any other citizens, should take great care today to see that by allowing this Bill to go through in its present form we do not deprive these women of the elementary rights of citizens of this country.

The words we suggest would impose in the police the need to prove that the woman had loitered or solicited for the purpose of prostitution so as to constitute a nuisance". That is a very tiny shred of restraint we are asking to be placed on the police. We have been told over and over again that the Government are not opposed to prostitution. Prostitution is not illegal. I hope that loitering in a street is not illegal, otherwise we would all be in great trouble. It is to be illegal for the common prostitute, whose profession is not illegal, to loiter in the street without doing anyone any harm, without annoying anybody and without constituting any nuisance. This raises very grave matters of civil liberties. However intolerant hon. Members may feel about the behaviour and way of life of these women—and, I hope, of their customers—we must be jealous of the traditions of civil liberty in this country. A great danger in this Bill is that we are depriving a defined class of people of their most elementary rights.

8.30 p.m.

I was interested to read in the United Nations Report on prostitution—which I hope the Joint Under-Secretary has seen —a reference to a similar attempt in France. There in 1953 the prefect of the Department of Rhŵne decided that prostitutes loitering in the streets were constituting a great nuisance in his Department and, under certain powers conferred on him, he laid it down that prostitutes should not be allowed to loiter in certain streets in the City of Lyons. There was an appeal in that case and the Government of France ruled that the prefect had acted wrongly, explaining as follows: In France the legislator alone has power to encroach upon the liberty of the individual;

Mr. Renton

Would the hon. Lady be so good as to say from which page of the Report she is quoting?

Mrs. Jeger

Yes, from page 21. The Report goes on: the freedom to come and go at one's own discretion is one of the aspects of individual liberty and implies the freedom to move about in a public thoroughfare. In the particular case, the effect of the prefect's order.…however praiseworthy its intention, was to proscribe in respect of one category of citizens a kind of ban on their presence, tantamount to a general or quasi-general, unlawful and excessive prohibition. I think that a very interesting Report from a country which has lived with this problem for a long time. On the next page of the same United Nations Report we find a reference to the Consolidated Convention, to which I hope the Government of this country are a party, Article 46 of which provides that: persons who engage or are suspected of engaging in prostitution should not be subject to special registration or to the possession of a special document or to any exceptional requirements for supervision or notification. I contend that we are making special and exceptional requirements for prostitutes if the Bill stays in its present form. It is they, and they alone, who must not loiter, who must not—as we have just heard from the Joint Under-Secretary—either walk up and down, stand still, move an eye to look out of their bedroom windows and then walk up to a man, in a street, outside their own houses. It is they and they alone who must not do these things. I submit that unless we can work into this Bill the very modest measure of protection for which we are asking today, it will be a terrible disgrace on the Statute Book of this country.

We had long discussions in Committee on the question of retaining the need to prove annoyance. We were defeated, and I shall not weary the House by repeating those arguments. In putting forward this Amendment today we are honestly trying to help the Government to do what Ministers insist they are trying to do. On 18th March the Minister said this Bill deals: with an evident public nuisance Further he said: we must now legislate on the assumption that it… prostitution— is a public nuisance."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, Standing Committee F, 18th March, 1959; c. 228–34.] If that is what the Bill is about, why should the Government be opposed to putting the words "public nuisance" in the Bill? If it is a public nuisance which the Government want to stop, the Government must say it is the nuisance with which they are concerned. The result of that in the few or many disputed cases before the courts would be that the accused would, in the elementary traditions of British justice, have some kind of defence.

The Bill chisels away every possible ground of defence. What is the position of the woman who is a common prostitute and does not argue about it? What is her position when she goes out on normal errands? I raised this point in Committee. I asked the hon. and learned Gentleman what would happen when a prostitute did not feel like working, and went out to look in the shops or to do some shopping or to see her grandmother? The hon. and learned Gentleman had a very kind answer. He said: The hon. Lady was rightly anxious about the prostitute out shopping. She made her point vividly by saying that even prostitutes have grandmothers and might wish to visit them. I assure the hon. Lady that a prostitute out shopping is not likely to be even suspected of an offence. If by some mischance she is suspected, she will have a very good defence. She can tell the court that she was out shopping. She can tell the court she was not loitering or soliciting. The court then will be very ready to believe her. I put to the House—

Mr. Renton

Will the hon. Lady continue the quotation and tell the House my next few sentences?

Mrs. Jeger

Yes, indeed. I was afraid of wearying the House. The hon. and learned Gentleman continued: It is up to the women themselves. When they give up the habit of street soliciting and carry on their profession without that, they will be able to walk about on all occasions without any anxiety."—[OFFICIAL REPORT. Standing Committee F, 18th March, 1959; c. 233.] There the hon. and learned Gentleman is giving his blessing to the call girl and to the expensive tart kept in a West End flat or in a smart hotel. The hon. and learned Gentleman is indicating once again that it is only the Cinderellas of the profession, only the most poor and, in many ways, most inefficient who are to be deprived of their elementary rights of citizens.

Mr. W. Edwards

They are selling their bodies.

Mrs. Jeger

It is a very modest request that those who accuse these women should prove that they have been a nuisance Without that it is not honest for the Government to say that they are not making prostitution itself an offence.

One appreciates the findings of the Wolfenden Committee, and anyone who cares about the standards of contemporary society must be concerned at the apparent deteriorating condition of certain streets and districts. I agree that the Government have a duty to prevent the public advertising and parade of prostitution when it reaches the point of constituting a general nuisance. It is proper at that point to maintain, as the Government have, that a nuisance is created.

Therefore, there is no difficulty for the courts to find that nuisance. The courts are dealing with these problems of public nuisance every day. The Macmillan Committee quite rightly differentiated between the individual who was annoyed by a prostitute and the general nuisance created by a number of prostitutes congregating in certain areas who, while perhaps not individually guilty of an offence, were collectively a nuisance.

We have tried to help the hon. and learned Gentleman by recognising the differentiation and by accepting, though very sadly, our defeat on the Amendment dealing with annoyance which we tried to move in Committee, but we ask him to look at this last possibility. Surely if he has the confidence, which he has often expressed, in the police of this country he cannot maintain that it is impossible for the police or members of the public to testify that a nuisance has been created. I am sure my hon. Friend the Member for Stepney (Mr. W. Edwards) would find many members of the public ready to testify that a nuisance has been created.

Mr. W. Edwards

May I tell my hon. Friend that it is not my job to go around Stepney observing prostitutes. That is the job of the police. If she likes to do it in the district where she lives, well and good.

Mrs. Jeger

I am sure my hon. Friend will agree that it is the right of any citizen—

Mr. Edwards

I have not got the time.

Mrs. Jeger

— to go to court if he wants to give evidence. He should not be prevented from so doing, although normally of course one would expect the police would be able to provide evidence that a girl's behaviour amounted to a nuisance. Otherwise what is the position? Under the Bill we could have a situation in which one solitary prostitute was sitting on the sea shore by herself waiting for a sailor, and being arrested.

It may be that the sailor had asked her to sit on the sea shore. How can it be maintained that there is any offence to the public, that there is any immorality in a girl sitting peacefully on a bench in a park, perhaps, or maybe looking in shop window waiting for a boy friend who happens to be late? I only say that she might be doing that, and she should be given the chance to say so. Under this Bill she cannot plead in her own defence that the circumstances were such as I have described. Therefore, the Government cannot say that this Bill has been drawn with the main object of dealing with this public nuisance if they are afraid to put into the Bill anything relating to public nuisance.

Obviously when street walking assumes a self-evident character it is easily recognisable. We have been told that time and again. But I maintain that it is not for the law or for Parliament to say to whom we shall speak, whether we must be introduced before we can speak to each other, or what we shall talk about when we do engage in what may be casual conversation, even if that conversation goes on between a prostitute and a customer.

I have referred to what I think is the important right of the prostitute to protection under the law of this country. We have heard a great deal about the problem of the respectable woman who might be wrongly accused under this Bill. We recognise the efforts that have been made with the cautioning system to deal with any mistakes which may be made by the police, but I should have thought that the basic protection for the respectable woman or for the girl who is not doing anybody any harm but is just seeing the bright lights would be to accept the Amendment so that she has some grounds for her own defence.

8.45 p.m.

I have considered whether there are any serious difficulties, and, although I am sure we shall be told of some, I cannot conceive of any which measure up to the danger in which we are placing the civil liberties of a number of people if the Bill goes through unamended. I recognise that there is difficulty over the annoyance provision in securing individual witnesses of the annoyance. I have in mind in moving this Amendment that the magistrates in these nuisance cases would only require the police to give some evidence of generally bad, offensive behaviour. I believe that there are plenty of precedents for this. The courts are dealing every day with cases of nuisance. Like my hon. Friend the Member for Oldham, West (Mr. Hale), when speaking on an earlier Amendment, I do not much like this Amendment and I would much rather have kept the nuisance provision in the Bill.

In trying to consider this matter, I found one case which I thought might interest the House. Recently an ice-cream vendor admitted having repeatedly emitted musical notes of a certain loudness sustained over a certain length of time. It was held that such loud noises so prolonged and so frequently repeated contributed a self-evident nuisance. It was decided by the court that it was unnecessary for the police to establish that any particular individual had been annoyed; it was sufficient that a self-evident nuisance had been created.

I should have thought it would not be beyond our courts to administer this Bill with the Amendment that we have suggested. Otherwise, we are confronted with a situation in which, from the start, defence is undermined because there is no defence left to the woman who is a self-acknowledged common prostitute. The hon. and learned Gentleman may say, "That serves her right". If that is so, the Government should be bringing in a Bill saying that she should not be a prostitute, but they are not doing that. It is absolute hypocrisy to say that prostitution is all right except for those who may be loitering on the streets.

The Amendment to make it an offence if one loitered and solicited has been rejected. Therefore we are left with a situation in which loitering itself becomes an offence in the law of this country. I think that it is a very sad day, and I hope that the Minister will be able to assure us that even at this late time he is prepared to make some concession in the best traditions of civil liberty in this country.

Mr. C. Pannell

The dilemma was posed in Committee by the hon. Gentleman the Member for Putney (Sir H. Linstead) that the difficulty running through the Bill is to balance the rights of the prostitute as a citizen and the nuisance that she causes. Therefore, this Bill is not against prostitution, but is against the nuisance. It seems to me that, put as baldly as that, somewhere and somehow we should deal in the Bill with the element of nuisance.

The Minister himself cannot escape the charge that the Bill as it is is a piece of sex and class legislation. It is directed against women for no other cause than the fact that they are women. It says nothing at all about the nuisance of a man walking up and down, nothing at all about the soliciting of women and young girls, nothing about kerb-crawling which is punished in the provinces. It says nothing about all those things. It merely leaves the common prostitute defenceless before the law on this issue. I am not asking about the aggregation of them which may become a nuisance. I am speaking here about the sort of occa sions on which it could be said, to use a nautical expression, that they are on their lawful occasions.

A prostitute may be known to the police. She may have been warned once or twice. On the next occasion, she is due to go up again. She may be walking down any road, going to the railway station, going to meet anybody under the sun, and, without her causing any nuisance at all, a policeman with time on his hands may make it a third offence and take her before the court. That really is the situation.

Little credit is due to a democracy for the way it metes out justice to the self-respecting and seemly in society. The test of a democracy is how it deals, generally speaking, with those who are despised. It is a truism that the humanity of a country, the civilisation of a country, is measured not by how it acts on first-class issues of peace and war or nuclear weapons, but how it acts towards people who find it difficult to defend themselves. Our civilisation is tested—

Mr. W. Edwards

With prostitutes?

Mr. Pannell

Isay to my hon. Friend the Member for Stepney (Mr. W. Edwards) that he must be careful about these things.

Mr. Edwards

I am careful.

Mr. Pannell

I have no doubt that on occasions my hon. Friend has cracked a joke. He has cracked his jokes here and there. He takes a very poor view of these people because they are a nuisance to his constituents. I have the greatest respect for my hon. Friend.

Mr. Edwards

That is very kind of my hon. Friend.

Mr. Pannell

No, it is not. I have respect for him, and I hope that he will have respect for me as a person holding a point of view different from his own.

Mr. Edwards

I will tell my hon. Friend all about it in a moment.

Mr. Pannell

All right. At least, I hope that my hon. Friend will allow me, as one holding a certain belief, to express that belief, however misconceived he may consider it.

Mr. Edwards

I cannot stop my hon. Friend.

Mr. Pannell

I am not trying to stop my hon. Friend. He is trying to stop me.

The civilisation of our country is tested by how we act towards those who cannot hit back. The humanity and civilisation of our country can be tested by the way we treat our pit ponies, by our kindness to animals, by the work of the Curtis Committee and our treatment of under-privileged children. These are the things which stamp our civilisation. The prostitute, the person most abused by men and the most despised, has in the last analysis certain rights before the law. If we ignore that principle, we ignore the principle for which the Home Secretary is anxious to fight.

These things move in cycles. A hundred years ago, in the garrison towns of this country, a woman could be asked to submit to a medical examination. If she refused to submit to the medical examination, she could, however self-respecting she was, be denoted a common prostitute. In fact, once she submitted, the fact that she had been examined discredited her before the law, and, on the other hand, her continued refusal led to continued terms of imprisonment. That is a matter of history about which the Victorians wrote.

Josephine Butler said that she would not have a woman undervalued for no other reason than that she was a woman. There was a great outcry 100 years ago to have licensed brothels in this country, and steps were taken towards that end. The Minister for War at the time fought a by-election in Colchester on the issue and was defeated. The greatness of Josephine Butler and the women's movement lay in their opposition to this kind of approach. Once the right to set up licensed brothels was admitted, that meant recognising women as second-class citizens. This has been the classic issue on which the emancipation of women has been fought over the years. There have been some noble names in the trade union and Labour movements associated with it.

I do not deny the intolerable nuisance to which my hon. Friend the Member for Stepney refers.

Mr. W. Edwards

My hon. Friend had better leave me alone, or I shall be on to him.

Mr. Pannell

Surely my hon. Friend does not really think that I shall go around in terror of anything he may say. All I am trying to do is to address him and the House on this matter. Stepney is one of the places in which prostitution has been an intolerable nuisance. After all, the Bill contains so much of what my hon. Friend wants and has given him so much with which he is in agreement.

Mr. Edwards

It could go further.

Mr. Pannell

My hon. Friend may say that. All I am saying is that, at the end of the day, there must be something to be proved against these women. We must not leave them completely unregarded and at the mercy of any police officer who may come along. A woman may just be standing in a doorway or doing anything. No word is said at any stage about the intolerable nuisance caused by men in this respect, men battening on women.

The issue is plain to me. I see this as a matter of principle bigger than the matter of nuisance itself. As I have said before, we do not discriminate against men because of the shape of their noses. That is anti-Semitism and, generally speaking, I suppose that we consider that obscene. We do not discriminate against men because of the colour of their skins. That is the colour bar. Nobody stands up and asks for that. In just the same way, we should not discriminate against women just because they are women. This is really the classic issue here, and it is very plain to me.

When I have been mixed up in the past with the agitation for equal pay, what I have done I have done on the principle that women should not be divorced, simply because they are women, from rewards of merit comparable with those received by men. In just the same way, women should not stand before the law in a position inferior to men merely on the basis of their sex.

Sir Hugh Linstead (Putney)

The discussion on this matter seems to me to touch one of the most vital questions of the whole subject. It was a question which worried me throughout the whole of the period that the Wolfenden Committee was sitting and during our discussions in Standing Committee upstairs. It is basically, as the hon. Member for Leeds, West (Mr C. Pannell) has said, the question of how far it is necessary in this type of legislation to discriminate against the prostitute.

The arguments in favour of not discriminating against the prostitute have been very strongly and well put tonight. I was much influenced by those arguments during the sittings of the Wolfenden Committee to the extent that I went so far as to draft a note of dissent and It was at one period in favour of taking out the words "common prostitute" from the law.

After we had completed the hearing of our evidence, however, and particularly after we had heard what the local authority representatives had to tell us about the conditions of their streets and of front gardens, about the behaviour of prostitutes who stay in the streets with their customers and about parents who have to go out and clean up their front gardens before they can let their children go out to school in the mornings, I was forced to the conclusion, as, I think, every country in the world, alas and regretfully, has been forced to the conclusion, that there must be some discrimination against the prostitute as such, deeply though everybody must deplore it.

9.0 p.m.

Mr. Hale

Is it right that a lady should be convicted of soliciting in Compton Street because some other lady had to clean up her front garden in Stepney? What has the cleaning up of front gardens to do with the question of whether we want to clear women out of the streets of the West End of London, where there are no gardens any way?

Sir H. Linstead

If the hon. Member will listen to the rest of my argument, I think he will see where it is leading. That being granted, it is clear to me that we must not take any step in this discrimination beyond what is necessary and we must be certain that the woman has whatever rights can be conceded to her as a woman even if she has to be discriminated against as a prostitute.

The difficulty was well put in Committee by the right hon. and learned Member for Newport (Sir F. Soskice), whom I am glad to see present tonight, but he confused the issue of what the charge against the women will be and how it must be proved. To me, that seems to be the fundamental question. As it was put to us in Committee upstairs and as the hon. Lady the Member for Holborn and St. Pancras, South (Mrs. L. Jeger) put it tonight, it would be almost impossible for a prostitute to loiter without being in danger of being charged and convicted, because it would be her word against that of the policeman, and, on the whole, the court would tend to believe the policeman. That, however, oversimplifies the law and the nature of the offence.

The nature of the offence is threefold. The woman must be a common prostitute. She must be loitering or soliciting, and for the purposes of prostitution. The magistrates and the police who appeared before us to give evidence were clear that they would not regard it as sufficient to prove that a woman was known to the police as a common prostitute and was loitering or soliciting and, therefore, one was entitled to infer that that loitering or soliciting must be for the purposes of prostitution.

It will still be necessary, even with the absence of annoyance, for the third prong of the offence to be proved, and it can only be proved by the police giving evidence that they saw a woman who was known to them to be a common prostitute loitering or soliciting and actually speaking to or going off with men. Unless each one of those three prongs of the fork is proved, I am quite certain that the vast majority of magistrates would refuse to convict. If only one or two magistrates refused to convict on police evidence which is not complete in all those three respects, I am quite certain that there would at once be a proper presentation of all these cases as they are presented now by the police.

Mr. S. Silverman

Has not the hon. Gentleman overstated his case a little? If a police officer proves that a woman is a common prostitute, if he proves that she was loitering in a street in which she had previously been known to ply her trade at a time when the trade is normally being plied, does the hon. Member seriously suggest that such a woman would not be arrested and convicted unless she went off with a man? Loitering was introduced precisely to save the prosecution from proving any such thing.

Sir H. Linstead

I say that seriously to the House, and there will be magistrates in the House who will agree with me about it, for the very reason that the police would then prove that the woman was a common prostitute and was loitering. They would ask the magistrate to infer from that that she was loitering for the purposes of prostitution. But the magistrates would say, as they have said on many occasions in the past "We decline necessarily to draw that inference. She may have been loitering for the purposes of looking in a shop window, for the purposes of catching a bus or of meeting a friend." Certainly, some magistrates at present take that view, and I think that it will be the general view taken by all courts in the future. If so, the police will conform to that practice, and I am certain that a common prostitute will not be convicted unless there is evidence showing that she has spoken to potential clients, thereby proving the third prong of the triple offence that has to be proved.

Mr. W. Edwards

It appears that the name of my constituency, if not my own name, comes into this discussion. It is not my intention to make a Second Reading speech, which appears to have happened in two out of the last three speeches. They had nothing at all to do with the Amendment. I have listened to the same argument for hours and hours in Committee. I am sure that my hon. Friend the Member for Holborn and St. Pancras. South (Mrs. L. Jeger) could repeat time and again what she has said tonight because she has said it so often in the past. It is not my intention to delay the Third Reading, although I propose to speak on it if called. However long the House sits, I shall remain here to see the Bill through. Perhaps some of the lawyers whom we have in our midst will be conspicuous by their absence.

Having been irrelevant up to now, like some of the previous speakers, perhaps I may now come to the subject under discussion. My hon. Friend the Member for Holborn and St. Pancras, South puts her case in a very sweet way, and even leaves a lot of people with the impression that a prostitute is a very decent person.

Mr. S. Silverman

She is often a damned sight more decent than her customers.

Mr. Edwards

I do not know about her customers; perhaps my hon. Friend does. I am also certain that my hon. Friend the Member for Leeds, West (Mr. C. Pannell) speaks with great sincerity, but I do not think that he comes down to earth.

As I have said, I will speak on the Amendment because I do not want to keep the House here all night. My hon. Friend the Member for Holborn and St. Pancras, South referred to France, and, possibly, if she had had sufficient time, she would have referred to countries all over the world. and said that the Street Offences Bill, if passed into law, will be one of the most wicked offences against the liberty of the person in this country.

I am not concerned with France. I am concerned only with the nuisance caused in this country. I am concerned about my own constituents and the people of this country. I do not see why we should make loopholes which will enable prostitutes to create a nuisance. My hon. Friend says that their loitering in the street does not cause any harm. I do not think my hon. Friend can say that prostitutes, standing about where there are blocks of L.C.C. flats, with young boys and girls going to clubs, or prevented from going to clubs because of prostitutes hanging about the streets of Stepney, do not constitute a nuisance.

My hon. Friend may not agree that such loitering is a nuisance. I do not know whether she has anything like this in her constituency. Perhaps there are not a lot of ladies in her constituency earning lots of money through selling their bodies. What happens in Stepney, however, is that prostitutes hang about and create difficulties for working-class people—not wealthy people, but the working-class people of Stepney.

Does any hon. Member on this side of the House think that I am going to refuse to support the Government when they are trying to eradicate that nuisance? I have a duty to my constituents to see that this nuisance is eradicated as quickly as it can be done.

Mrs. L. Jeger

I think that my hon. Friend ought to be fair. The purpose of the Amendment is to empower the Government to deal with the nuisance that these people are creating.

Mr. Edwards

I can answer that by answering the point that was put to me. My hon. Friend said that if somebody in a certain street off Commercial Road in Stepney were annoyed because of the presence of these prostitutes and their ponces and pimps in the cafes he could go to the police. There is, however, one thing which my hon. Friend does not understand if she thinks that is the case. The ordinary working-class men and women of Stepney are not police informers. They would rather have some sort of fisticuffs in such cases than go to the police.

In addition to that, scenes are taking place, and, indeed, have taken place for a long time, which are detrimental to the young children there. My concern is for the interests of the young children of Stepney as against the interests of the prostitutes who go into Stepney. If my hon. Friends prefer to take the part of the prostitutes against the young children of my constituency, I must join battle with them. If accepted, the Amendment would make it more difficult to drive these women off the streets of Stepney than is the case today. It would make it more difficult because of the evidence which would have to be accumulated before any police action could be taken.

I hope that the Government will stand by their guns and reject the Amendment and will see that the Bill goes through in its present form.

Mr. Paget

I am bound to say that the speech of my hon. Friend the Member for Stepney (Mr. W. Edwards) seemed a very odd one. He first said that his constituents preferred fistcuffs to going to the police. if the nuisance is such as he describes, one would have expected to see a lot of prostitutes with very black eyes, and that would be at least one solution.

My hon. Friend said in the final words of one of his perorations that he owed it to his constituents to save them from this nuisance. I can understand that, but I would ask him these questions. First, are the prostitutes in Stepney a nuisance? Secondly, does he want to get rid of them because they are a nuisance? Thirdly, if that is the position, why does he object to proving that they are a nuisance? That is all the Amendment provides for.

9.15 p.m.

Mr. W. Edwards

My hon. and learned Friend has asked three questions. I think that I have answered the first two. As to the third, I said that the working-class people in Stepney feel that if to prove that nuisance they have to run to the police they become police informants and they are not prepared to do it.

Mr. Paget

It seems an odd attitude of mind to think that anybody who gives evidence for the prosecution is a police informant. If that were said, it would be rather difficult to convict any murderer. [Interruption.] When this private discussion has concluded, perhaps I may be permitted to go on to say that of the contested criminal cases those in which police evidence only is given are a very small minority. Is everyone who gives evidence, other than a policeman, a police informer? In any case, does the necessity of proving a nuisance make it necessary to call people other than the police? Cannot the police recognise a nuisance? Cannot the police tell the court whether girls in a certain street are or are not a nuisance? Is not that the problem with which we are dealing?

If my hon. Friend the Member for Stepney assures us that in certain areas in Stepney the presence of girls is a nuisance and that is why he thinks he owes it to his constituents to get rid of them, is his perspicacity beyond that of the policemen of Stepney? Why on earth cannot a policeman in Stepney go before the magistrates, if that is so, and say, "This girl was soliciting in an area where in my view soliciting is a nuisance". If that evidence were given by the police, have we any reason to think that the magistrates would not accept it?

Mr. Hale

I was trying to deal with the point that if one reports a serious offence one is a police informer. In "Women of the Streets" the British Social Biology Council states: Stepney also is predominantly young prostitutes' district. It is one of the most popular resorts for absconders from schools…. Cases are quoted of girls who go there and find places to receive them and start them off as prostitutes before they start in the West End. Several individual examples are quoted and the Council states that if people reported these matters at an earlier stage there would be a chance of avoiding the worst. It is evident that there is a considerable demand for prostitutes in Stepney among male persons.

Mr. W. Edwards

From other areas.

Mr. Hale

I accept that, but I would not say that every crime in Oldham is committed by someone from Yorkshire.

Mr. Edwards

I have the greatest respect for the legal profession, but when I hear my hon. Friends who are members of that profession speak on these matters I realise, and have realised for some time now, that it is only a matter of time-wasting with no serious effect on the case at all.

Mr. Paget

I have a good deal of sympathy with Stepney and with my hon. Friend's constituents, but the more I hear about them from him the more I begin to suspect that the nuisance does not come from the prostitutes but from my hon. Friend's constituents. They seem to provide the demand, and having provided the demand—

Mr. Edwards

Why attack the working class whom my hon. and learned Friend is supposed to represent?

Mr. C. R. Hobson (Keighley)

Why all these sneers at the working class

Mr. Paget

As far as I can see, the constituents of my hon. Friend the Member for Stepney attract many young girls, presumably because they provide a market, but they regard giving any assistance to the police in dealing with what they describe as a nuisance in their area as acting as police stooges. Having that evidence from my hon. Friend, I am bound to reflect that it begins to look to me as if the nuisance resides rather among his constituents.

Mr. Renton

This interesting and important Amendment moved by the hon. Lady the Member for Holborn and St. Pancras, South (Mrs. L. Jeger), which has aroused such controversy on the benches opposite, really raises two separate questions. The first is whether this offence should be considered to be a public nuisance and the second is whether it is a nuisance which should be proved in every case or whether, by the way we draft the Bill, it should be inferred for every case.

Both questions were considered by the Macmillan and Wolfenden Committees. Both Committees decided that it was undoubtedly a public nuisance. The Macmillan Committee considered that it should be proved in each case, as the hon. Lady has suggested, but the Wolfenden Committee disagreed with that view, and in doing so it said: But in recommending that it should be an offence for any person 'to frequent any street or public place for the purpose of prostitution or solicitation so as to constitute a public nuisance' they"— That is, the Macmillan Committee— recommended—somewhat inconsistently it seems to us—that the evidence of one or more of the persons aggrieved should be essential to a conviction. The hon. Lady cited a recent United Nations report on prostitution. I hope that it had not escaped her notice that the report states: It is generally agreed that loitering and soliciting for the purpose of prostitution constitute public nuisances and should be proscribed in order to safeguard public order and decency. May I say in parentheses that the quotation made by the hon. Lady from a note relating to France in that report merely bears out that the view in France is that although it is a good thing to make street soliciting an offence, it should be done by the legislature, as we are doing it here, and not by a prefect's order.

Mrs. L. Jeger

I agree with the hon. and learned Gentleman in his reference to the United Nations report, that the public nuisance should be proscribed. That is why we have moved this Amendment. All we are asking is that the Bill shall proscribe a public nuisance in terms.

Mr. Renton

I am glad that the hon. Lady holds that view, because one might have doubted it from her speech and from some of the other speeches we have heard. The Government emphatically take the view that the presence of prostitutes offering their wares on the street is injurious to the public, and for the sake of the record I should say why we consider that to be so because it has a bearing on whether or not this should be specifically proved.

First, we say that it offers ready temptation to young men. Secondly, it suggests to young women an easy way of making money. Thirdly, as the hon. Gentleman the Member for Stepney (Mr. W. Edwards) has mentioned, it makes it impossible for decent people to take their families through certain streets and thoroughfares without some embarrassment. Fourthly, it interferes with the right of the public to go about their business without having what may be called an injurious or offensive parade before their eyes. These are matters about which there is strong public feeling and the public is at least as much entitled to protection as are those women who choose to live by trading in immorality and by advertising their trade on the streets in this way.

If we once establish that this is a public nuisance the question whether or not it should be proved or inferred in every case is a fairly easy one to answer, because the conception of a public nuisance is nothing new to our law. It was a misdemeanour under the common law, and some common law misdemeanours have been given statutory effect. Parliament has also declared various other things to be public nuisances by Statute. I can give one or two examples, by way of analogy. There is street betting, and there are nuisances which are injurious to public health under the Public Health Acts. In the non-statutory field, showing on the highway a picture or exhibition which is disgusting or offensive is a common law misdemeanour.

In all those cases it is necessary to prove only that the act itself was committed. It is not necessary far the prosecution to go on and prove that that act was by law a public nuisance, or was in fact a public nuisance, because the law, either by common law or by statute, has declared, presumed and inferred it to be a public nuisance.

Mr. S. Silverman

But is not the difference that in all the cases which the hon. and learned Member has cited the events which are deemed to be nuisances are themselves offences against the law? If we made prostitution an offence against the law we could apply this argument, but we cannot until we do so.

Mr. Renton

The hon. Member is not correct. Betting is not illegal in this country. But street betting is an offence, and it is a rather good analogy. I am glad that the hon. Member has raised the point, because the hon. Lady said that the Government are not opposed to prostitution, and I go with her only so far as to say that we are not making it illegal. We are not making prostitution itself an offence against the law. But we are making street soliciting an offence against the law, just as Parliament in the past has made street betting an offence against the law. In both cases the nuisance is inferred, and does not have to be proved.

Mr. C. Pannell

In the case of betting, a policeman must go into court and say that he saw money pass. He must give evidence to that effect. This element is absent from what the hon. and learned Member is putting forward tonight.

Mr. Renton

In the case mentioned by the hon. Member the policeman goes into court and says that he saw money pass, and that a betting transaction occurred. What he does not have to do—as he would if the hon. Lady's Amendment were accepted—is to prove to the court that there was a nuisance.

Mr. Silverman

The hon. and learned Gentleman must agree that the policeman has to prove that betting took place, whereas in this case it is not necessary to prove that prostitution took place.

Mr. Renton

It has to be proved that there was loitering or soliciting for the purpose of prostitution, and it is that, in itself, which the Wolfenden Committee described as a self-evident public nuisance. That is practically common ground. At any rate, it is the view of the Government and the majority of hon. Members, and it is the basis upon which we are legislating.

The point that I am now considering is whether it should rightly be inferred in accordance with the precedents that I have mentioned or, on the other hand, should be subject to proof in every case. In paragraph 255, the Wolfenden Committee said: In our view both loitering and importuning"— in the sense of soliciting— for the purpose of prostitution are so self-evidently public nuisances that the law ought to deal with them, as it deals with other self-evident public nuisances, without calling on individual citizens to establish the fact that they were annoyed. The words "individual citizens" might need explanation in the context of this discussion.

If the hon. Lady's Amendment were accepted it would be necessary either for the police or other citizens to give such evidence. For the reasons that I have given, which are supported by the authority of the Wolfenden Committee—and I concede that the Macmillan Committee came to a different view thirty years previously—we feel that our proposal is more consistent with the existing law in this matter of public nuisances, and that it would be wrong to place a specific obligation upon the prosecution in every case.

We are grateful for the interesting discussion which has taken place. It was worth having this as a separate discussion, because it raises a quite separate point from the discussion we had in Committee on the subject of annoyance to individual citizens and to inhabitants or passengers in the street where the offence occurred. For the reasons which I have given, we feel that it would be inconsistent with the broad purposes of the Bill, and with the precedents, to accept the Amendment.

9.30 p.m.

Sir Frank Soskice (Newport)

I apologise for prolonging the debate. I sought to rise earlier, but I was not successful in catching the eye of the Chair. I shall be very brief. My approach is very similar to that of my hon. Friend the Member for Leeds, West (Mr. C. Pannell). I do not believe that with the Clause in its present form we are giving prostitutes a fair chance. They may be prostitutes, but everyone would agree that they must be given a fair chance before the law.

Subsection (i) says: It shall be an offence for a common prostitute to loiter or solicit … for the purpose of prostitution. The magistrate who deals with the case will have the person charged brought before him and that person will, in the first place, be described in the summons as a common prostitute. The police will be entitled—indeed, they will be obliged—to deploy evidence of a general nature describing the person as a prostitute. They will be able to say that on this, that and the other occasion, they saw her loitering for prostitution. and that she was well-known as a prostitute in the area. That is the first point which will be before the magistrate.

The magistrate must then ask himself whether on this occasion she was loitering for the purposes of prostitution. If a magistrate has before him evidence that a woman is a well-known prostitute and must ask himself whether on a particular occasion described in the summons she was actually loitering for the purposes of prostitution, I put it to the House that it will be very difficult for him not to accept the evidence of the police witness against her.

A known prostitute is said by a police officer to have been soliciting on a particular occasion for purposes of prostitution. I say nothing against any magistrate. All magistrates are admirable in their endeavours to administer justice. We are, however. putting them in a difficult position if we ask them to adjudicate upon evidence of that sort.

Either my hon. Friend or the Joint Under-Secretary of State proferred the defence for a prostitute that she might say that she was visiting her grandmother.

Mr. Renton

The hon. Lady the Member for Holborn and St. Pancras South (Mrs. Jeger) said that. I made the comment that the woman was right to draw attention to it. I said that she had only to tell the court what she was doing and there was no reason to suppose that the court would disbelieve her if her story were genuine.

Sir F. Soskice

That precisely points the position. A lady who is sworn by the police to be a well-known prostitute is seen in a street on a particular occasion and the police officer says that on that occasion she was soliciting for purposes of prostitution. She is asked what is her answer and she says that she was going to see her grandmother. Is it suggested that that defence will be believed?

Sir H. Linstead

Surely it is not sufficient for the police officer to say that she was soliciting. He would have to say, "I saw her approach and speak to a number of men".

Sir F. Soskice

The hon. Member's sincerity and understanding in these matters is greatly respected by everybody. He said that he was convinced in the Committee by the fact that there were, as he described it, three prongs to be demonstrated. He was satisfied by evidence of magistrates that magistrates would regard the third prong as having been established only if it could be shown that there was evidence that the woman had approached some male person. The third prong, in his argument, was the intent to invite to an act of prostitution.

I am very sorry, but I do not accept that evidence of the magistrates which convinced the hon. Member. May I say, without I hope undue conceit, that I have appeared in the course of my life in almost every magistrates' court within a radius of fifty miles of this spot, and I do not feel able to accept the evidence which satisfied the hon. Member. I do not think it is the case at all. There may be evidence of gestures and glances which may reasonably satisfy any honest police officer. A police officer can make a genuine mistake.

If it is said of a woman who has been described as a known prostitute that a police officer has seen her in a street on a particular occasion, and if the officer has said, perhaps quite erroneously and under a genuine misapprehension, that she made a gesture or a glance or a movement towards some male person without actually speaking to him, and if that is thought by the police officer to be soliciting for the purposes of prostitution, it will be very difficult for the magistrate in those circumstances to resist the conclusion that he ought to accept the police evidence and reject the woman's evidence.

Everybody will agree that, whatever she is, a prostitute must have a fair deal. Even if she were the worst of criminals she ought to have a fair deal. My anxiety is that on the Clause in its present form a prostitute might be unjustly convicted.

Mr. Peter Rawlinson (Epsom)

Will the right hon. and learned Gentleman explain how the need to prove a nuisance would give a prostitute more protection?

Sir F. Soskice

I am coming to that. I preface that by saying that in Committee upstairs my hon. Friends and I sought to eliminate the words "common prostitute" and to substitute the word "person". We were unsuccessful. Having been unsuccessful, we seek to insert the requirement that a nuisance should be proved in order to give some safeguard to the prostitute.

In the case which I have instanced of a known prostitute being said to be soliciting on a particular occasion, it is at least some safeguard, which may result in her being acquitted instead of being convicted, if it is not possible for the police officer either by calling the person said to have been annoyed or by giving satisfactory evidence of his annoyance to prove a nuisance If he cannot do that, a woman who is innocent may be acquitted—and a woman who is innocent ought to be acquitted.

The punishment under the Bill can be imprisonment. Consequently, these offences will be hotly contested. Women will struggle desperately to establish their innocence. My reason for urging upon the House, contrary to the Minister's view, that these words should be accepted is that if it is necessary for the prosecution to prove not only that a woman is a common prostitute and that she is soliciting on a particular occasion but also that she caused nuisance to some outside person, some passer by, then some protection is afforded.

The prosecution may accomplish the first and second steps because of the reasons which I gave earlier, but it will not be as easy for them to establish the third prong, as the hon. Member for Putney described it. To do that they must be in a position to say that there was a gesture of annoyance or irritation or some vituperate language uttered by the person approached by the woman, or they must be able to call the person annoyed. The policeman's own evidence may suffice, but whereas it will be easy for him to establish the first two limbs of the offence, it will not be as easy to establish the third limb—that a nuisance was created by the woman on that occasion.

I hope that I have not taken too much time in deploying the reasons why this causes me personally a lot of anxiety, which I know is shared by not all but a number of my hon. Friends. I hope that the Minister will give further consideration to this matter, because he has an opportunity to do so between now and the time the Bill reaches another place.

Question put, That those words be there inserted in the Bill:—

The House divided: Ayes 65, Noes 148.

Division No. 88.] AYES [9.40 p.m.
Ainsley, J. W. Hayman, F. H. Skeffington, A. M.
Awbery, S. S. Holt, A. F. Slater, Mrs. H. (Stoke, N.)
Bacon, Miss Alice Hughes, Emrys, (S. Ayrshire) Smith, Ellis (Stoke, S.)
Bowden, H. W. (Leicester, S.W.) Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.) Soskice, Rt. Hon. Sir Frank
Braddock, Mrs. Elizabeth Hynd, H. (Accrington) Spriggs, Leslie
Brockway, A. F. Jay, Rt. Hon. D. P. T. Stewart, Michael (Fulham)
Brown, Thomas (Ince) Jeger, Mrs. Lena(Ho1bn & St. Pnes, S.) Stross, Dr. Barnett(Stoke-on-Trent, C.)
Craddock, George (Bradford, S.) Jenkins, Roy (Stechford) Summerskill, Rt. Hon. E.
Diamond, John King, Dr. H. M. Thomson, George (Dundee, E.)
Ede, Rt. Hon. J. C. Lawson, G. M. Thornton, E.
Evans, Albert (Islington, S.W.) Lee, Frederick (Newton) Usborne, H. C.
Fernyhough, E. Lee, Miss Jennie (Cannock) Wade, D. W.
Fitch, A. E. (Wigan) MacPherson, Malcolm (Stirling) Warbey, W. N.
Fletcher, Eric Marquand, Rt. Hon. H. A. Watkins, T. E.
Forman J. C. Mitchison, G. R. White, Mrs. Eirene (E. Flint)
Fraser, Thomas (Hamilton) Moyle, A. Wilkins, W. A.
Garner-Evans, E. H. Oram, A. E. Willey, Frederick
Gordon Walker, Rt. Hon. P. C. Paget, R. T. Williams, Rev. Llywelyn (Ab'tillery)
Greenwood, Anthony Palmer, A. M. F. Yates, V. (Ladywood)
Grenfell, Rt. Hon. D. R. Parker, J.
Grimond, J. Parkin, B. T. TELLERS FOR THE AYES:
Hale, Leslie Silverman, Julius (Aston) Mr. Charles Pannell and
Hannan, W. Simmons, C. J. (Brierley Hill) Mr. Sydney Silverman.
Agnew, Sir Peter Harvey, John (Walthamstow, E.) Page, R. G.
Allan, R. A. (Paddington, S.) Heald, Rt. Hon. Sir Lionel Pannell, N. A. (Kirkdale)
Arbuthnot, John Heath, Rt. Hon. E. R. G. Partridge, E.
Armstrong, C. W. Henderson, John (Cathcart) Peel, W. J.
Ashton, H. Henderson-Stewart, Sir dames Pickthorn, Sir Kenneth
Atkins, H. E. Hill, Rt. Hon. Charles (Luton) Pike, Miss Mervyn
Baldwin, Sir Archer Hill, Mrs. E. (Wythenshawe) Pitt, Miss E. M.
Barlow, Sir John Hill, John (S. Norfolk) Pott, H. P.
Barter, John Hinchingbrooke, Viscount Powell, J. Enoch
Batsford, Brian Hirst, Geoffrey Price, Philips (Gloucestershire, W.)
Bevins, J. R. (Toxteth) Hobson, C. R. (Keighley) Profumo, J. D.
Biggs-Davison, J. A. Hobson, John (Warwick & Leam'gt'n) Ramsden, J. E.
Bingham, R. M. Holland-Martin, C.J. Rawlinson, Peter
Bishop, F. P. Hornby, R. P. Redmayne, M.
Black, Sir Cyril Hornsby-Smith, Miss M. P. Rees-Davies, W. R.
Boyle, Sir Edward Howard, Gerald (Cambridgeshire) Remnant, Hon. P.
Brooman-White, R. C. Howard, Hon. Greville (St. Ives) Renton, D. L. M.
Butler, Rt. Hn. R. A. (Saffron Walden) Hughes-Young, M. H. C. Reynolds, G. W.
Channon, H. P. G. Hurd, Sir Anthony Ridsdale, J, E.
Cole, Norman Hutchison, Michael Clark(E'b'gh, S.) Roberts, Sir Peter (Heeley)
Cooke, Robert Hylton-Foster, Rt. Hon. Sir Harry Robinson, Sir Roland (Blackpool, S.)
Cordeaux, Lt.-Col. J. K. Irvine, Bryant Godman (Rye) Roper, Sir Harold
Corfield, F. V. Jenkins, Robert (Dulwich) Scott-Miller, Cmdr. R.
Courtney, Cdr. Anthony Johnson, Eric (Blackley) Sharpies, R. C.
Crosthwaite-Eyre, Col. O. E. Kerr, Sir Hamilton Shepherd, William
Currie, C. B. H. Leavey, J. A. Spearman, Sir Alexander
Dance, J. C. G. Legh, Hon. Peter (Petersfield) Spens, Rt. Hn. sir P. (Kens'gt'n, S.)
Davidson, Viscountess Lindsay, Hon. James (Devon, N.) Stevens, Geoffrey
de Ferranti, Basil Linstead, Sir H. N. Steward, Harold (Stockport, S.)
Drayson, G. B. Lloyd, Maj. Sir Guy (Renfrew, E.) Steward, Sir William (Woolwich, W.)
du Cann, E. D. L. Loveys, Walter H. Storey, S.
Duncan, Sir James Lucas-Tooth, Sir Hugh Stuart, Rt. Hon. James (Moray)
Edwards, W. J. (Stepney) McAdden, S. J. Studholme, Sir Henry
Elliott.R.W. (Ne'castle upon Tyne.N.) Macdonald, Sir Peter Summers, Sir Spencer
Errington, Sir Eric Mackeson, Brig. Sir Harry Temple, John M.
Farey- Jones, F. W. McLaughlin, Mrs. P. Thomas, Leslie (Canterbury)
Finlay, Graeme McMaster, Stanley Thompson, R. (Croydon, S.)
Freeth, Denzil Macmillan, Maurice (Halifax) Vosper, Rt. Hon. D. F.
Gammans, Lady Macpherson, Niall (Dumfries) Wakefield, Edward (Derbyshire, W.)
Garner-Evans, E. H. Mann, Mrs. Jean Wakefield, Sir Wavell (St. M'lebone)
Gibson-Watt, D. Manningham-Buller, Rt. Hn. Sir R. Wall, Patrick
Glover, D. Maydon, Lt.-Comdr. S. L. C. Ward, Dame Irene (Tynemouth)
Glyn, Col. Richard H. Milligan, Rt. Hon. W. R. Webster, David
Goodhart, Philip Morrison, John (Salisbury) Williams, R. Dudley (Exeter)
Cower, H. R. Nabarro, G. D. N. Wills, Sir Gerald (Bridgwater)
Graham, Sir Fergus Nicholson, Sir Godfrey (Farnham) Wilson, Geoffrey (Truro)
Green, A. Nicolson, N. (B'n'm'th, E. & Chr'ch) Wolrige-Gordon, Patrick
Gresham Cooke, R. Noble, Michael (Argyll) Woollam, John victor
Grimston, Sir Robert (Westbury) Nugent, G. R. H.
Harrison, Col. J. H. (Eye) O'Neill, Hn. Phelim (Co. Antrim, N.) TELLERS FOR THE NOES:
Mr. Bryan and Mr. Whitelaw.
Miss Vickers

I beg to move, in page 1, line 14, to leave out "three months or both" and insert "fourteen days". Moving the Amendment does not give me a great deal of pleasure, because I do not believe in women being sent to prison for prostitution. In Committee, we tried to get imprisonment deleted altogether. On Second Reading my right hon. Friend, in discussing the penalties, said: The present maximum penalty in London is 40s. for the first and any subsequent offence. In urban areas outside the Metropolitan Police District it is a fine of 40s. or 14 days' imprisonment."—[OFFICIAL REPORT. 29th January, 1959; Vol. 598, c. 1276.] This is the reason for my Amendment. I fully realise that there is already permission to sentence women to 14 days' imprisonment in the rest of the country. It may not be possible to change that. I have no objection to the fine of £10 or £25, but I object to it being £25 and/or imprisonment up to a maximum of three months.

The Prison Commissioners have stated that short sentences are useless for training. There is no hope of changing anyone's ways in three months. Fourteen days should be the third and subsequent penalty, but no one will say that in 14 days any change can be made in the habits of a person.

It is very unfortunate for a woman to have to spend three months in prison for this offence. There is no chance of training her for any future profession. If she has reached the stage of being sent to prison she is not likely to be reformed. She will simply wait until she is released and start her trade again. During the period she is in prison she will not get any stamps on her employment card. Obviously, people will know that she has this conviction against her and that will make it all the more difficult for her to enter another profession.

Many people far more knowledgeable of these matters than I am are opposed to long sentences of imprisonment. I should like to quote from the hon. Member for Salford, West (Mr. Royle) who, during the Committee stage, referred to the views of the Magistrates' Association. He said: The Committee knows that I have had some association with the Magistrates' Association. This matter has been discussed by the appropriate committees of the Magistrates' Association. They were very concerned, in the light of their experience, about the penalties which might be included in the Bill. The matter ultimately came before the committee dealing with the treatment of offenders. There was a long discussion on the question of imprisonment for prostitutes. As a result of their discussion—and they were men and women with very great experience of court work and matters of that kind—they decided against imprisonment by 21 votes to 6. When the decision of the committee was put before the Magistrates' Association the decision of the committee was upheld."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, Standing Committee F, 25th March, 1959; c. 275.] The hon. Member was asked whether stipendiary magistrates were represented on the committee of the Magistrates' Association and the answer given was in the affirmative. That was a valuable opinion and one which I should like the House to consider today.

It is possible now to send women to prison for 14 days. I understand that. in 1957, 211 prostitutes were imprisoned, 122 for the first time, while 89 had had previous convictions. Altogether, I understand that 42 per cent. of the prostitutes who went to prison had had previous convictions in that year, and that, in 1954, 54 per cent. of the prostitutes who went to prison had had previous convictions. I do not think that even a sentence of 14 days' imprisonment has had any deterrent effect.

The Wolfenden Committee, in paragraph 280, said: We are aware that the courts have power to remand a convicted offender, in custody if necessary, up to three weeks, for the purpose of enabling enquiries to be made or of determining the most suitable method of dealing with the case. We understand, however, that some courts are reluctant to use this power of remand in relation to an offence for which they can ultimately only impose a fine. Magistrates are able to impose imprisonment, on remand, for three weeks and I contend that if this Amendment is accepted so that the ultimate penalty is 14 days magistrates may be less reluctant to put these women on remand. The possibility of imposing a shorter term of imprisonment may help magistrates in making up their minds whether or not to put girls on remand for three weeks. They have power already to do that and I hope that as a result of this Amendment they will do so.

I have had a number of letters from voluntary organisations, including the Salvation Army, who are very anxious to help in this matter of remand and in giving help to these girls. They have done excellent work in helping unmarried mothers and I suggest that their assistance will be very beneficial in this respect. I know that my right hon. Friend has been trying very hard to keep people out of prison. I was very grateful to him when he supported the Maintenance Orders Bill which was designed to keep men out of prison. Here we have a Bill which will put a whole category of persons into prison, and I suggest that we should think again.

Earlier in the debate my right hon. and learned Friend the Attorney-General said that there are very few new entrants. I am interested in that point of view. After all, there is a demand for prostitutes. If we are to keep these women off the streets for a long period, in other words, for three months, we shall, I suggest, be getting more new entrants coming in to take their place.

I suggest that we are creating an even greater problem by putting these women in prison for such a long time. I also think that if these girls are in organised rings, it may be cheaper for those who are looking after them in those rings to allow them to go to prison and employ other girls during that period, rather than continually paying their fines. That is another reason that I would put forward for having imprisonment for a shorter period than three months. I wonder whether, if in the women's prisons three women had to sleep in a cell, this proposition would have been put before the House today.

I hope that my right hon. and learned Friend will consider this suggestion very sincerely in the hope of recognising that the law of the land at present gives courts power to put women in prison for 14 days.

Mr. Fitch

I beg to second the Amendment.

I do not want to weary the House very long by deploying more arguments, because I had the privilege of moving in Committee an Amendment deleting the term "imprisonment". Unfortunately, that Amendment was defeated.

There are three points which I should like to make. In discussing a subject like this I do not think that we can be dogmatic, because human beings do not react in the same way under similar circumstances. If we were purely material objects we would. The threat of imprisonment may, in certain circumstances, deter some girls, but not in other circumstances.

It is interesting, when looking at this from that point of view, to study some of the figures. In 1954, 54 per cent. of those who were sent to prison for offences connected with prostitution had been there before. In 1957, 42 per cent. of those who were sent to prison for offences connected with prostitution had been there before. This means that in about 50 per cent. of the cases, imprisonment did not prove to be a deterrent.

When we were discussing this in Committee, the Joint Under-Secretary suggested that I was confusing people of a certain psychological make-up with those who were psychologically unstable. My hon. Friend the Member for Rossendale (Mr. Anthony Greenwood) quoted from a book, "Society and the Criminal", by Sir Norwood East, in which he suggested that many of these girls were psychologically unstable. I believe that prison is no place for people who are psychologically unstable.

I should like to look at this from the point of view of the magistrate. The threat of imprisonment, I believe, will mean that more girls will plead not guilty. That means that proof will have to be given. We have no legal definition, we are told, of a common prostitute, but if cases are to be fought then surely we shall have to have some sort of definition. I am sorry that the Government, in framing the Bill, did not consider a more gradual grading of fines—fines at £10 to start with, £15, £20, and then possibly £25. The passage of the Bill into law will mean that magistrates and police will waste a lot of time.

Thirdly, if it does deter, what then? Will it deter a girl from prostitution? Certainly not. It will merely deter her from public prostitution, shall I say, or public soliciting, and she will take up undercover work. We shall witness the extension of the call-girl system, the sort of thing experienced under prohibition in America, with the springing up of vice rackets, making the whole thing big business. We may do what we set out to do, namely, clear the streets of prostitutes, but we may quite shortly find ourselves having to deal with even more serious problems.

I do not believe that imprisonment will be effective in any way. We must go far deeper into the problem. I hope that the fears which many of us on this side who oppose the Bill have, that we may have the same kind of system as there is in America. will not be realised; but I am afraid that they will.

10.0 p.m.

Mr. Renton

The Amendment proposed by my hon. Friend the Member for Plymouth. Devonport (Miss Vickers), who has, I know, taken a very great interest in this subject, is based on the assumption, which is unwelcome to her, that there shall be a penalty of imprisonment under the Bill. The only point raised by her Amendment, I think, is what the maximum period of imprisonment which can be awarded by the courts should be. Whenever Parliament fixes a maximum penalty, we should, I suggest, consider whether it is large enough to cover the worst type of case which is likely to come before the courts for the particular offence. It is a matter of judgment and a sense of proportion in each case, bearing in mind what the purpose of the penalty is.

As the Wolfenden Committee said, and as the Government accept, imprisonment in these cases, unfortunately. can have only two purposes. One is simply to deter, and the other is to create a sort of sanction to help the probation officer. It is felt that girls will more willingly accept the advice of the probation officer if the possibility of prison is lurking in the background. Those are the two purposes of the penalty of imprisonment in this case.

What should the maximum be to cover the worst type of case? As my hon. Friend pointed out, outside London it has been possible to award a maximum of 14 days, and the courts have awarded that maximum. The hon. Member for Wigan (Mr. Fitch) said, quoting some figures, that imprisonment was not at present a deterrent. He will find from the figures he quoted that the success rate is not so very bad, bearing in mind that it was a maximum of only 14 days imprisonment, and the result might have been even better if some of the cases. the worst type of case, could have been covered by a higher maximum penalty.

We were right, I think, in accepting the Wolfenden Committee's recommendation that there should be a maximum of three months. After all, for the worst type of case, we need to have a sufficiently stiff penalty to make it clear to the really persistent offender, the type of woman who, after many convictions and, perhaps, a short sentence of imprisonment, and after being given every chance, still persists in this way of life. We are entitled to bear in mind that we are dealing with matters in which, so far as the offender is concerned, there is very often a great deal of money at stake in her immoral earnings. I must cover myself; I say her "immoral" earnings, not her "illegal" earnings.

It is a matter of judgment and proportion, a matter on which people can legitimately differ in detail. But the broad recommendation of the Wolfenden Committee that three months should be the maximum is, we feel, about right.

In answer to the hon. Member for Wigan, who said that we should have had a more gradual scale of penalties rising from £10 to £15 to £20, and so on, I will remind him that the penalties now laid down, both the financial penalty and the penalty of imprisonment, are maximum penalties. It will be for the courts, if they wish, in regard to either fines or imprisonment to make their own scale or upgrading as the offences become more frequent.

For those reasons, my advice to the House is not to accept my hon. Friend's Amendment. Perhaps, in the light of what she has heard me say, she may even feel inclined to withdraw it.

Mr. Anthony Greenwood

I hope that the hon. Lady the Member for Plymouth, Devonport (Miss Vickers) will resist the blandishments of the hon. and learned Gentleman the Joint Under-Secretary of State. It seems to many of us—I think that this is an anxiety shared by hon. Members opposite—that it is a very serious step indeed to increase the penalty for this offence to as much as three months. In my view, imprisonment is a sanction which should be kept for the more serious types of crime, for instance, crimes of violence, crimes involving fraud, and other such offences. The Government now propose to have a penalty of three months' imprisonment for something which is not in itself illegal but which is the offence of doing something perfectly legal in an illegal way. I believe that three months' imprisonment for that is quite excessive.

The hon. and learned Gentleman said that there were two justifications for action of this kind. First, he said, it would be a sanction to help the probation officer. I think I am right in saying that, on Second Reading, I quoted the view of the National Association of Probation Officers that imprisonment as a sanction to help the probation officer was not a very welcome innovation. Nobody can say that the threat of imprisonment hanging over a woman is really the best basis for treatment by the probation officer.

The other sanction to which the hon. and learned Gentleman referred was that of being a deterrent. My hon. Friend the Member for Wigan (Mr. Fitch) has effectively disposed of that, in spite of what the hon. and learned Gentleman said. I remember on Second Reading quoting cases of prostitutes in provincial cities who had as many as seventeen previous sentences of imprisonment. I find it difficult to believe, as the Joint Under-Secretary believes, that a woman who already has seventeen sentences of imprisonment would be any more deterred by the fact that it would be possible at the discretion of a magistrate to give her a sentence as long as three months.

I do not believe that that has been effective in the provincial cities. I do not want to list them, but hon. Members who travel widely about the country must know of the state of affairs which at present exists in many of our provincial cities although for forty or fifty years they have had the power to send prostitutes to jail.

A third justification for imprisonment would be if it were a cure and a means of stopping women from leading this form of life. The Joint Under-Secretary conceded, however, during our discussions in Standing Committee that he himself did not regard it as a cure. That cuts the ground right from under the feet of the Government in making a proposal of this kind.

My last point is that if we start increasing the number of prostitutes who are sent to prison, we shall be introducing a disturbing element into prison life. I cannot believe that it is in the interests of healthy prison administration that we should increase the number of women of this kind who go there. It would increase the possibility of corrupting other women and it would open up to prostitutes other ways of earning a living at the expense of society. For these reasons, I hope that the hon. Lady the Member for Devonport will follow the courageous course that she has taken so far and will ask for the opinion of the House upon her Amendment.

Mr. Paget

The Joint Under-Secretary did not seek to answer in any way the points put by the hon. Lady the Member for Plymouth, Devonport (Miss Vickers). I will repeat them to him. The first was the long sentence which puts these girls away. Since there is a demand that creates supply, that merely means more prostitutes. That is simple logic. The next point made by the hon. Lady was that girls being away for a certain amount of time in jail would not be any inconvenience to the pimp who runs the stable, if I may put it that way. One is a little reminded of the words once used by Lord Clanricarde: "The Irish are the most extraordinary people. They think they can intimidate me by shooting my agents."

What we are considering is how long the sentence should be. The hon. and learned Gentleman gave two reasons. One was that the sentence would provide the probation system with a sanction. I do not think he would seriously suggest that fourteen days is not enough for that. Secondly, he suggested that it should be a deterrent—a deterrent to what? The Government, through the Home Secretary, who does not seem to be looking in much on the Bill, assured us that this was not an attempt to stop prostitution. So we do not want a deterrent to stop prostitution. It is to be a deterrent to stop the girls practising their business on the street. If the police choose to enforce it, is not fourteen days amply sufficient to make the girls exercise their business elsewhere? That would probably mean joining an organisation, but it is amply sufficient if the police choose to use it.

Then, the hon. and learned Gentleman referred to the worst case, that of the girl who persists in going on the streets. What is that girl to whom the hon. and learned Gentleman referred as the worst case? She has probably done it all her life, her Ma did it before her and she is a little bit crazy, or she would not go on doing it after getting a sentence of fourteen days several times. What are we deciding? In the case of a crazy, oldish, ageing girl of this sort we are deciding whether to leave her to support herself or whether to support her at the public expense and demoralise our jails in the process. I believe that for the real purpose which the Government want—that is, to clear the streets—fourteen days, if the police are prepared to use it, is ample and that anything over and above that is an added social nuisance.

Miss Vickers

I am not at all satisfied with what my hon. and learned Friend the Joint Under-Secretary has said, but in view of the fact that I do not seem to be getting much support from this side of the House and of the Divisions we have had earlier, I beg to ask leave to withdraw the Amendment.

Hon. Members


Question put, That "three months or both" stand part of the Bill:—

The House divided: Ayes 140, Noes 49.

Division No. 89.] AYES [10.16 p m.
Agnew, Sir Peter Grimston, Sir Robert (Westbury) Pickthorn, Sir Kenneth
Altken, w. T. Harrison, Col, J. H. (Eye) Pike, Miss Mervyn
Arbuthnot, John Harvey, John (Walthamstow, E.) Pott, H. P.
Armstrong, C. W. Heald, Rt. Hon. Sir Lionel Powell, J. Enoch
Ashton, H, Heath, Rt. Hon. E. R. G. Profumo, J. D.
Atkins, H. E. Henderson, John (Cathcart) Ramsden, J. E.
Baldwin, Sir Archer Henderson-Stewart, Sir James Rawlinson, Peter
Barter, John Hill, Mrs. E. (Wythenshawe) Redmayne, M.
Batsford, Brian Hirst, Geoffrey Rees-Davies, W. R.
Biggs-Davison, J. A. Hobson, John(Warwick & Leam'gt'n) Remnant, Hon. P.
Bingham, R. M. Holland-Martin, C. J. Renton, D. L. M.
Bishop, F. P. Hornby, R. P. Reynolds, G. W.
Black, Sir Cyril Hornsby-Smith, Miss M. P. Ridsdale, J. E.
Boyle, Sir Edward Howard, Gerald (Cambridgeshire) Roberts, Sir Peter (Heeley)
Bryan, P. Howard, Hon. Greville (St. Ives) Robinson, Sir Roland (Blackpool, S.)
Butler, Rt. Hn.R. A. (Saffron Walden) Hughes-Young, M. H. C. Roper, Sir Harold
Channon, H. P. G. Hurd, Sir Anthony Ropner, Col. Sir Leonard
Cole, Norman Hutchison, Michael Clark(E'b'gh, S.) Scott-Miller, Cmdr. R.
Cooke, Robert Hylton-Foster, Rt. Hon. Sir Harry Sharpies, R. C.
Cordeaux, Lt.-Col. O. E. Irvine, Bryant Godman (Rye) Shepherd, William
Corfield, F. V. Jenkins, Robert (Dutwich) Spearman, Sir Alexander
Courtney, Cdr. Anthony Johnson, Eric (Blackley) Spens, Rt. Hn. Sir P. (Kens'gt'n, S.)
Crosthwaite-Eyre, Col. O. E. Kerr, Sir Hamilton Stevens, Geoffrey
Currie, G. B. H. Leavey, J. A. Steward, Harold (Stockport, S)
Dance, J. C. G. Legh, Hon. Peter (Petersfield) Steward, Sir William (Woolwich, W.)
Davidson, Viscountess Lindsay, Hon. James (Devon, N.) Storey, S.
de Ferranti, Basil Llnstead, Sir H. N. Stuart, Rt. Hon. James (Moray)
Drayson, G-B. Lioyd, Maj. Sir Guy (Renfrew, E.) Studholme, Sir Henry
du Cann, E. D. L. Loveys, Walter H. Summers, Sir Spencer
Duncan, Sir James Lucas-Tooth, Sir Hugh Temple, John M.
Edwards, W. J. (Stepney) Macdonald, Sir Peter Thompson, R. (Croydon, S.)
Elliott, R.D.(Ne'castle upon Tyne.N.) Mackeson, Brig. Sir Harry Vosper, Rt Hon. D. F.
Errington, Sir Eric McLaughlin, Mrs. P. Wakefield, Edward (Derbyshire, W.)
Farey-Jones, F. W. McMaster, Stanley Wakefield, Sir Wavell (St. M'lebone)
Finlay, Graeme Macmillan, Maurice (Halifax) Wall, Patrick
Fletcher, Eric Macpherson, Niall (Dumfries) Ward, Dame Irene (Tynemouth)
Freeth, Denzil Manningham-Buller, Rt. Hn. Sir R. Webster, David
Gammans, Lady Maydon, Lt.-Comdr. S. L. C. Whitelaw, W. S. I.
Garner-Evans, E. H. Milligan, Rt. Hon. W. R. Williams, Paul (Sunderland, S.)
Gibson-Watt, D. Morrison, John (Salisbury) Williams, R. Dudley (Exeter)
Glover, D. Nabarro, C. D. N. Wills, Sir Gerald (Bridgwater)
Glyn, Col. Richard H. Nicholson, Sir Godfrey (Farnham) Wilson, Geoflrey (Truro)
Goodhart, Philip Nicolson, N. (B'n'm'th, E. & Chr'c.'o Wolrige-Gordon, Patrick
Cower, H. R. Noble, Michael (Argyll) Woollam, John Victor
Graham, Sir Fergus O'Neill, Hn. Phellm (Co. Antrim, N.)
Grant-Ferris, Wg Cdr. H. (Nantwich) Pannell, N. A. (Kirkdale) TELLERS FOR THE AYES
Green, A. Partridge, E. Mr. Brooman-White and
Gresham Cooke, R. Peel, W. J. Mr. J. E. B. Hill.
Awbery, S. S. Greenwood, Anthony King, Dr. H. M.
Bowen, E. R. (Cardigan) Grenfell, Rt. Hon. D. R. Lawson, G. M.
Braddock, Mrs. Elizabeth Grimond, J. Lee, Frederick (Newton)
Brockway, A. F. Hale, Leslie Mitchison, G. R.
Castle, Mrs. B. A. Hannan, W. Oram, A. E.
Ede, Rt. Hon. J. C, Hayman, F. H. Paget, R. T.
Evans, Albert (Islington, S.W.) Holt, A. F. Palmer, A. M. F.
Forman, J. C. Hughes, Emrys (S. Ayrshire^ Pannell, Charles (Leeds, W.)
Fraser, Thomas (Hamilton) Jeger, Mrs. Lena(Holbn & St. Pncs.S.) Parker, J.
Gordon Walker, Rt. Hon. P. C. Jenkins, Roy (Stechford) Parkin, B. T.
Plummer, Sir Leslie Spriggs, Leslie Wade, D. W.
Price, Philips (Gloucestershire, W.) Stewart, Michael (Fulham) Warbey, W. N.
Robinson, Kenneth (St. Pancras, N.) Summerskill, Rt. Hon. E. White, Mrs. Eirene (E. Flint)
Silverman, Julius (Aston) Thomson, George (Dundee, E.) Wilkins, W. A.
Silverman, Sydney Nelson) Thornton, E. Yates, V. (Ladywood)
Simmons, C. J. (Brierley Hill) Usborne. H. C.
Soskice, Rt, Hon. Sir Frank Vlckers, Miss Joan TELLERS FOR THE NOES:
Mr. Fernyhough and Mr. Fitch
The Attorney-General

I beg to move, in page 1, line 17, to leave out "of" and insert "to be".

During our Committee discussions some doubts were expressed as to whether subsection (3) of the Clause enlarged the powers of arrest that constables possessed. I informed the Committee that there was no intention to enlarge the power but that the Clause was necessary to remove doubt cast by a decision of the House of Lords on an earlier decision of the Court of Appeal.

To make it quite clear that a constable can only arrest in respect of conduct which he himself has seen, we are altering the wording so that it will read: A constable may arrest without warrant anyone he finds in a street or public place and suspects, with reasonable cause, to be committing an offence under this Section. I think that that removes all possibility of doubt about the interpretation of the Section and brings it back into line with what the powers were thought to be before the House of Lords' decision cast doubt upon it.

Amendment agreed to.

Mr. Hale

I beg to move, in page 1, line 17, at the end to insert: and who refuses to give her name and address". The Amendment has already been substantially covered in debate and the point that I desire to make, which I do not regard as a small one, has already been discussed. The opinion of the House against it has already been expressed and at this late hour, for the convenience of hon. Members on both sides, I shall not develop my arguments but be content, saying that I shall not press the Amendment to a Division.

Mr. A. Fenner Brockway (Eton and Slough)

I beg to second the Amendment.

Amendment negatived.

10.26 p.m.

The Joint Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department (Miss Patricia Hornsby-Smith)

I beg to move, That the Bill be now read the third time.

We have had a very frank and comprehensive debate on this subject, and we have come to the last stage on a Bill in which we have been engaged on a problem of public order and of public decency. Like very many matters of this kind, it has raised, on the one hand, the problem of the liberty of those whose conduct it is sought to restrain and, on the other, the liberty of those to whom that conduct is offensive. We are called upon to endeavour to work out a fair balance between the two and do what seems to be right in the public interest.

I should like to remind the House of the situation with which the Government were faced when we introduced the Bill. We had and still have in London about 1,800 women practising prostitution, loitering and soliciting day after day in the streets.

Mrs. L. Jeger

And men.

Miss Hornsby-Smith

The activities of these women are concentrated mainly in the West End, in Soho, Paddington, the neighbourhood round the railway stations, and in Stepney. There are, of course, other places in which they also operate. The penalty in the Metropolitan area of £2 was first legislated in 1839. Hon. Members on both sides of the House appreciate that that penalty has become farcical in the light of present-day conditions and that it is no deterrent at all. In the main areas where prostitution so widely applies, large numbers of women have been carrying on their sordid and immoral trade openly on the streets through which ordinary people pass and through which wives and children go on evening outings or to and fro on their regular business. It has been strongly represented to my right hon. Friend, and not least by deputations from the constituency of the hon. Member for Stepney (Mr. W. Edwards), in representations from that area supported by all the churches and by members of all parties, and by hon. Members from other constituencies that the condition of our streets is an outrage to all ordinary decent people who cannot go about their business with their wives and children with- out having this trade flaunted in their faces and without having prostitutes plying their trade on their very doorsteps.

The existence in our city of the open and blatant advertising and pursuit of prostitution created a moral danger to which the Government could not close their eyes. The existence of the nuisance has been recognised by the Macmillan Committee, the Wolfenden Committee and the Church of England Moral Welfare Council. In fact, it is one of the few points upon which those three bodies agree. But the law must deal with individuals. It is impossible to deal with the nuisance created by the plurality of prostitutes except by dealing with each of them separately, and the justification of the Bill is that the public are entitled to have the nuisance removed by effective means. On the other hand, we have been careful not to inflict injustice on prostitutes.

Mrs. L. Jeger


Miss Hornsby-Smith

The hon. Member for Blackburn (Mrs. Castle), has interjected persistently, but I am not aware that she has been present throughout much of the rest of our debate today.

Mrs. Jeger

It was I.

Miss Hornsby-Smith

While the Government consider that they have a duty to provide an effective means of removing the nuisance created by prostitutes, we are anxious that everything possible should be done to prevent new-corners from falling into the trade. It is for that reason that I believe the cautioning system will be valuable and that the arrangements that have been made to allow for an appeal against that cautioning will meet with the support of hon. Members on both sides of the House.

But it is the very essence of preventive measures that they should be applied early, and in this case as soon as the girl is thought to be soliciting and before she becomes committed to prostitution. It is also important that a girl should, if possible, be helped without having to appear before a court or arrested, and I believe that the experienced police officers—often they will be women police officers—and moral welfare workers and probation officers to whom the girl will be referred where it seems suitable to do so, will be able to help her effectively if she is willing to be helped.

If she is not willing we must accept that, unless and until the sanctions which can be applied to her if she reaches the point of committing an offence under the Bill become available she cannot be compelled to accept help.

My right hon. Friend has been most anxious to meet those who thought that there should be a formal means of applying to have the record of a caution expunged, and today we have inserted an Amendment to that effect. Nevertheless, I would like to re-emphasise the statement made by my right hon. and learned Friend the Attorney-General when he said that if any woman should unfortunately be cautioned in error she would in the first place report the matter to the chief officer of police in the ordinary way, and I repeat the assurance he then gave that the Commissioner of Police is most anxious to ensure that any caution given in error is at once removed from the record, irrespective of whether the woman in question lodges a formal appeal.

The Bill is limited in its extent. It is intended to deal with a very specific problem—a clearly limited nuisance. This nuisance, as I have already said, is the public behaviour of prostitutes. We are not attempting to deal with all forms of behaviour which are an offence against public order in the streets; there are other and more appropriate statutory provisions for dealing with them. But so far as men are concerned, in the Bill we have increased the maximum penalty far living on immoral earnings from two years' to seven years' imprisonment, and have accepted the Wolfenden Committee recommendation to increase the fines from £5 to £20 for the first offence and from £20 to £50 thereafter, for allowing prostitutes to frequent refreshment houses. Further, we have provided for the forfeiture of licences on first conviction instead of later, which we think will go a long way towards preventing the abuse, which was current—not least in areas like Stepney—of the exchange of tenancies or licences to avoid forfeiture on a conviction.

My right hon. Friend carefully considered what was said during the debates upstairs, and he has considered anxiously whether we could meet the obviously strongly held sentiments of hon. Members opposite. We have introduced or accepted Amendments where we thought it possible to do so, notably in providing for an appeal against a caution. Where we have not felt able to agree to Amendments it has been because my right hon. Friend thought that they were attempts to transform the Bill into quite a different kind of Measure, and one which we thought would be less effective for dealing with the clearly defined and limited problem with which this Measure is concerned.

I hope the House will agree that for its limited purpose—which we have never attempted to deny—this is a workmanlike Measure, which will equip the police to remove what is injurious from our streets, do much to discourage newcomers and give the public freedom once more to go where they will and know that their children can go through the streets of their own neighbourhood without seeing a public trade in immorality paraded there.

10.35 p.m.

Mr. Anthony Greenwood

I regard this as a thoroughly bad Bill. It is a Bill to which many religious leaders are strongly opposed. It is a Bill to which the Church of England Moral Welfare Council expressed the strongest opposition, and although the hon. Lady the Joint Under-Secretary calls the Churches into evidence in support of the Bill, she must be well aware that her right hon. Friend received a deputation representing eighteen women's organisations, including the Mothers' Union and the St. Joan's Social and Political Alliance.

But, in spite of my strong opposition to the Bill, I hope to set an example to others by restricting my remarks to the space of five minutes so that we can come to a decision within a reasonable time. In spite of our efforts on the Bill, we have obtained only two concessions from the Government. The first is that they have agreed to increase the penalty for living on immoral earnings from five to seven years. The second is the rather belated concession today which has made the practice of cautioning less offensive.

In spite of these concessions, however, our basic objections remain. We believe that the Bill is a vicious piece of sex legislation, and I want very briefly to summarise why we come to that conclusion. First, we object to the retention of the term "common prostitute" because, as hon. Members have said earlier today, it imports a note of prejudice into any proceedings against these women. Any magistrate who knows that a woman has already had two cautions is going to start with a bias against the defendant.

We believe, further, that retaining the term "common prostitute" retains the double moral standard between men and women to which Josephine Butler was so strongly opposed. It penalises the women and does absolutely nothing to prevent the activities of those men who at present are making our streets a disgrace by pestering wives and daughters. I can see hon. Members on both sides of the House who have told me that their wives and daughters have complained about the activities of kerb crawlers.

We can take up the time of the House to impose further penalties on these women, but apparently we are unable to do anything about the men. We resent the dropping of the provisions relating to annoyance, and we deplore the fact that in future it will be possible to send women to prison for three months for reasons which I adduced a few minutes ago.

There are two overwhelming objections. The first is the one on which my hon. Friend the Member for Leeds, West (Mr. C. Pannell) put his finger when he said that the test of a democracy was the way in which it treated its minorities. I believe that to be perfectly true, and the more depressed and weak the minorities may be the more important it is that we should preserve the highest traditions of the country in treating them equally before the law.

I will, if I may, help to conclude the education of hon. Members opposite in Tory democracy by quoting what Burke wrote to Fox nearly 200 years ago. He said: People crushed by law have no hope but power. If laws are their enemies, they will be enemies to laws. I believe that that is what the Government are doing in these circumstances, and that, far from redeeming these women, the tendency of the legislation will be to drive them further along the road to degradation.

The last point I want to make is that we are prepared to increase the penalties and are prepared to have suitable fines imposed upon these women, but we believe that the severity with which the Government are now dealing with the problem will only serve to push it into the background. As I put it on an earlier occasion, it will create a vicious network in the background which will be strengthened by the proposals of the Government.

I should like my last words to be those of the New Statesman, which summed up its attitude as follows: If this law is accepted, society will be deliberately planning to make its vice more discreet, probably more profitable and almost certainly more corrupt. If that is what the Government want, they can have it. For myself, I will have no part in it.

10.40 p.m.

Lieut.-Colonel J. K. Cordeaux (Nottingham, Central)

I welcome the opportunity of trying briefly to refute the comment of the hon. Member for Rossendale (Mr. Anthony Greenwood) when he referred to the Bill as a vicious piece of sex legislation. I shall not try to rehash all the arguments which we have had in the many sittings of the Committee—I attended every one—but it was pointed out by those who support the Bill, as I do, that a man soliciting women can be prosecuted in the same way as a woman can be prosecuted. He can be prosecuted under the Sexual Offences Act.

Mrs. L. Jeger

Surely the hon. and gallant Member does not wish to deceive the House. If a woman is bringing an action against a man on the ground that she has been importuned or that he has made a nuisance of himself, she must give specific evidence of the dates and the occasions and must show that this has taken place persistently. It is misleading to make such a comparison between the position of men and women under the legislation.

Lieut.-Colonel Cordeaux

I cannot see that it is in any way misleading. I was referring to the action which the police are able to take and should take against a man, just as they take action against women.

I will not repeat all the arguments which took place between the hon. Lady and myself in Committee because it is now a late hour, but one point which has not been made previously is that if the police will do their duty and prosecute men who are soliciting women the punishment for the man is incomparably greater than for the prostitute. For the man the punishment lies in the disgrace of the conviction. Hon. Members smile, but I cannot see that it is any disgrace for a professional prostitute to be convicted for prostitution—or, at any rate, it is very little disgrace—and to be fined.

I have a newspaper cutting in my hand, and although I will not give details of the persons concerned, I will say that it reports a case in one of our large cities in which a kerb-crawler was prosecuted and convicted. According to this report, the defendant having been stopped asked the policeman to call his sergeant and ask him "to forget it this time." He said, I will shoot myself if the facts are reported. Later he added, I must admit that I am guilty. Can you do anything about it? I would like to apologise. Later his defending counsel said, The prosecution has been a very great shock to the accused and very salutary. His greatest humiliation has been in making a clean breast of the affair to his wife and his employer. He has been completely forgiven by both He is heartily ashamed of himself, and so I ask you to take a lenient view of the case. It is obvious that the punishment to such a man, when the facts become known to his wife and to others in the neighbourhood, is incomparably greater than that which a professional prostitute will suffer from a conviction.

I do not want to go further into that point made by the hon. Member for Rossendale. Everything I heard in Committee convinced me, as I had believed earlier, that the Bill will succeed in its comparatively limited object. We must remember that its object is limited. That has been forgotten throughout these debates. Its object is to drive prostitution off the streets of this country and not to stop prostitution.

Sir Leslie Plummer (Deptford)

And drive it into flats.

Lieut.-Colonel Cordeaux

I believe that it will drive prostitution off the streets.

I am sure hon. Members are wrong to suggest that this is not such a serious evil as all that. Hon. Members have said, "It has always been very bad and it is no worse today." My hon. Friend the Member for Plymouth, Devonport (Miss Vickers) pointed out that at 12.30 a.m. in 1881 there were 500 prostitutes between Piccadilly Circus and Waterloo Place, that there were today only 300 more, making a total of 800, which, in view of the increased population, represented little change.

From experience which I have had in this matter in many capitals of Europe and many seaport towns, I believe that the position on the streets of London is a far greater disgrace than in any other place I have seen. I was assistant naval provost marshal in the nineteen-twenties in Malta. Although in Malta prostitution was not run by the Government, there was a system whereby any person who wished to act as a prostitute had got to have the approval of the police to do so and then had to reside in a certain area. There were only three streets where prostitutes were allowed to reside and to practise. Those streets were either a cul-de-sac or streets into which no one went unless it was for the purpose of making use of the services of a prostitute. I had the responsibility from a Service point of view of looking after that area. It was not pleasant. I have seen night after night queues of thirty or more men outside a brothel where only one woman practised.

The point is that no one need have seen that sort of thing unless going there to make use of the prostitutes, whereas in London, where we do not have any form of Government control of prostitution—and I am sure no one on either side of the House would want it—if we allow prostitutes to practise in the streets, owing to the general construction of London they will be in those streets where ordinary people are going about their normal business and amusements. People cannot get away from this scandal; it is quite impossible. Whether they are going to and from theatres or cinemas, to restaurants, underground stations or bus stops in the West End, it is there before them. It is seen, and must be seen, by our young men and women, by adolescents and school children. It is an absolute scandal that it should be so seen.

Unless all that is put a stop to, as I believe it will be by this Bill, those young people are bound to think that we of the older generation and we in this House condone that sort of thing. It is rather well summed up by an old couplet which hon. Members probably know: Vice is a monster of such frightful mien, As, to be hated, needs but to be seen; Yet seen too oft, familiar with her face, We first endure, then pity, then embrace. I am absolutely sure that 'this Bill will succeed in what, admittedly, is its limited object of driving this evil underground so that our young people will not be contaminated by 'the sight and the apparent condonation of it. I hope, therefore, that the House will give the Bill its Third Reading.

10.49 p.m.

Mr. E. Fletcher

I hope the House will forgive me for intervening in this debate for a few minutes. The only reason I do so is that I am in the unhappy position on this Third Reading of taking a view which I think is contrary to that of most of my hon. Friends.

I share a great deal the regrets expressed by my hon. Friend the Member for Rossendale (Mr. Anthony Greenwood) about the failure of the Government to accept a large number of Amendments which were moved by my hon. and right hon. Friends for the improvement of the Bill. I do not think it is a perfect Bill in any sense. It is full of defects, and I regret profoundly that the Amendments which were suggested by my hon. and right hon. Friends, both in Committee and on Report, have not been accepted. I think this Bill was capable of a great deal of improvement. I support the recommendation put before members of this House by the moral welfare associations of the various Churches.

I find myself in this position on Third Reading. I do not think I have to judge whether I shall vote for or against the Third Reading merely on the emotional grounds of my resentment at the Government's failure to accept improvements to the Bill. As I understand my duty, it is merely to consider whether the law of England is better as it now stands, or whether it will be better if this Bill, with all its imperfections, is passed into law. On that question I can only exercise my judgment to the best of my ability, and my view is that, with all the imperfections in this Bill, I feel obliged to support it on Third Reading because I think it will produce some improvement in the law.

I support the Bill for two main reasons. First, because I think it will do something to eradicate from our streets, particularly from the streets of the West End of London, what is really a national disgrace. Maybe it will drive vice underground—I do not know, but I do care. I am not sure whether vice underground is better than vice above ground. If it is driven underground, there may be a problem we shall have to deal with. But, apart from that, I am convinced that this Bill may do something to deter people from entering the profession of prostitution, and if it does that it will be a good thing. Therefore, for my part, and with great regret at the limitations in the Bill, I am prepared to support the Third Reading.

10.52 p.m.

Mr. William Shepherd (Cheadle)

I want to say how much I appreciate the Government having carried this Measure through. I asked them a long time ago to do this, not. I think, on excessively emotional grounds. I think that the condition of our streets in the West End is something lamentable and, without being excessively emotional about it, that we ought to put it right, and I am grateful to the Government for taking the action they have taken to do just that. I realise the limited extent of the Measure. Hon. Gentlemen and hon. Ladies opposite have been excessively sympathetic towards prostitutes generally and have tended to put that sympathy before getting rid of this admitted evil on the streets. I prefer to get rid of this evil on the streets than indulge in excessive sympathy for prostitutes, though I readily admit that I prefer to see the attitude of hon. Gentlemen opposite to the harsher attitude of some years ago.

I believe that the allegation that this is a sex Bill designed against women is a false concept. All that we are doing is really to stop the sale of prostitution in the streets. It is really a street trading Bill as such, and it is not normal to prosecute the man who buys a pound of apples off a barrow from a street trader. One can prosecute the man who has the barrow for street trading, but not the individual who buys the apples from him. All we are doing here is to stop street trading in prostitution. The argument that we are indulging in discriminatory sex legislation is not supported.

I think there is a real danger in the Bill that it will inevitably drive vice into different channels, with the establishment of the call-girl system on a much more extensive and organised scale than at present. We have not faced the consequences of that in the Bill. [HON. MEMBERS: Hear, Hear.] I do not complain about that, because we will probably have to deal with that when we see the developments. But we ought to realise that one of the inevitable consequences will be a tendency to organised vice on the call-girl lines on an extensive scale, and we may have to give attention to that aspect in the future.

I am glad the Government have brought in this limited Measure. I am satisfied that it will reduce the volume of prostitution on our streets and that it will reduce the temptation to young women to enter this trade. I wish the Measure a speedy passage onto the Statute Book.

10.56 p.m.

Mr. W. Edwards

I am not a newcomer to this sort of discussion. It was in 1957, I believe, on the occasion of an Adjournment debate, when I had the temerity to say to the present Home Secretary that if prostitution were to take place in Saffron Walden on a scale similar to that prevailing in Stepney he might wake up and do something about it. Something has been done about it since 1957, and I congratulate the Home Secretary on paying the greatest possible regard to the views of all working-class organisations and religious leaders in Stepney by introducing this Bill.

Stepney has been referred to frequently. Deputations have been led by myself and by two mayors of Stepney to the Home Office because of the problem which has existed there and which has greatly worried the working-class population in Stepney during the last few years. Obviously, I should be one of those to retract what I said about the Home Secretary in 1957, and I congratulate him upon the presentation of this Bill. I do so because I am absolutely certain that the net effect of the Bill will be to take a lot of these girls off the streets and make them do a decent job of work. In the past girls have been able to laze about in the streets and sell their bodies; then they would be taken to court where they were fined £2 and they would not worry about it.

I understand that that has been going on for the past hundred years [An HON. MEMBER: "For 4,000 years."] It might be 4,000 years, but if that sort of thing occurs in front of children and young people in Stepney, whether my hon. Friend likes it or not, I am in favour of stopping it. The only way to stop it is to make it more difficult for these people to carry out these activities.

All the Bill does is to impose a heavier fine on the lady who allows herself to enter this life—and in London, only after she has received two cautions. But in these days when there is plenty of money, particularly in London, where prostitution prevails, it is the easiest thing in the world for some of these ladies to get £10 or £15 a night. The fine now proposed will be a bigger deterrent than the £2 fine, but it certainly will not cripple them at all.

What I like about the Bill, if I may say so without wishing to appear ruthless or heartless, is the provision for imprisonment. I never want to see anybody in prison, but unless we have a law in this country under which people can be put into prison there will be little hope of our being able to survive as decent citizens. I am sure that the provision for a maximum penalty of three months' imprisonment is the best thing that could have been done, solely because it will grip these girls at the right time. The more we in this House do to see that girls do not tread this shocking path the more we shall be doing our duty to the mothers and fathers who bring them into the world. I am all in favour of the provision for imprisonment, although I hope that it will have such an effect upon the young people that they will decide to earn an honest living instead of selling their bodies.

My hon. Friend the Member for Rossendale (Mr. Anthony Greenwood) talks about "our basic objections" to the Bill. He says that religious leaders and all sorts of other people are opposed to it. I have found no religious leader in Stepney who says that he opposes the Bill—not one. The religious leaders who, perhaps, oppose the Bill do not know the first thing about what is taking place. In the same way, with respect to many of my hon. Friends on this side who have taken a line different from mine, they do not know the first thing about it. They have looked at it completely from a theoretical or, in many cases, a legal angle.

When one has the honour to have members of the legal profession serving on a Standing Committee, as I said on an earlier Amendment, by the time those hon. and learned Members have finished talking we do not know the first or last thing about the Amendments. They are the sort of people who really have not faced the facts of the situation.

There is only one complaint I have about the Bill. The Joint Under-Secretary would not accept an Amendment in the name of the hon. Member for Liverpool, Kirkdale (Mr. N. Pannell). I think that the Bill will clean the streets of London, the streets of Manchester, and the streets of other big cities by imposing these very heavy deterrents upon the girls who think that they see an easy way of life; but I should have liked to have dealt with the men behind the scene in order to ensure that those who live on the earnings of the girls were thrown out of the country.

Somehow or other, the Home Office, I am much afraid, has had to give way to the Colonial Office. To the Home Secretary I say that, if even the problem confronts him at any time in the future, he should put his principles into practice. I am quite certain of what his principles are. He does not want these stinking people who come to this country and earn money from the bodies of women to be allowed to remain. They should go back to the Colonies, which are under the control of the Colonial Secretary. We may be able to deal with that matter at a later date.

The Bill has been amended in some ways. The penalty for living on the immoral earnings of women, one of the worst diseases one can be afflicted by, was two years' imprisonment before this Bill, was put up to five years, and then I had the greatest pleasure in supporting my right hon. and hon. Friends in increasing it further to seven years. I would have made it more than seven if that had been possible. We have got to face up to the situation. In the West End and East End of London, in the suburbs of Essex and Kent, and in other large cities, it has worsened much more than was the case before the war. I do not believe for one moment that this Bill does away with the liberty of the subject. Those people who will be affected by the Bill have no need to be if only they will live clean and honest lives.

11.7 p.m.

Mr. Rees-Davies

I had the pleasure of following the hon. Member for Stepney (Mr. W. Edwards) on Second Reading, when he made a briny and breezy speech.

I agree with his last observations about ponces. The great majority of ponces and pimps in this country are not Englishmen. They are principally Maltese, Ghanians and Jamaicans. Over two-thirds are men who come from these territories, and there are a small number of Sicilians and Italians. As the Colonial Secretary is here, may I say that I hope the day will come when we shall be able to ensure that these men are sent back to the territories from whence they come? They are a pest to this country, and the crime of poncing is a singularly un-English crime.

I shall refer later to one or two effects of Clause 3, in which the penalty is raised to seven years' imprisonment in respect of ponces, because, inadvertently, we have covered another class affected by this Bill.

As I see it, this Bill will achieve its purpose, which is to remove the public nuisance and the indecent shame of prostitution in the public streets. It is utter nonsense to say that this is a vicious piece of sex legislation. If the hon. Member who said that understood the Bill properly, he would understand that his remark was nonsense.

This Bill in no way seeks to create inequality between the sexes. It is a Bill designed entirely to remove women from the streets. Therefore, the question of inequality does not arise. it is a crime to engage in acts of gross indecency in public. It is a crime for a man to commit any act of indecency to a woman in public, and he can be sent to prison. If he does it in the privacy of his own flat, it is merely making a pass at the woman. In this Bill we are merely doing for women what the law has already done for men. As the hon. and gallant Member for Nottingham, Central (Lieut.-Colonel Cordeaux) pointed out, in Nottingham they have been able to remove men for loitering, as we are now providing for women. So much for that.

The only other matter with which I want to deal briefly tonight is this, because it is entirely new material and it is important that the Government should fully appreciate the effect of their Clause 3. The hon. and learned Member for Northampton (Mr. Paget) and myself are at issue on one grave matter of principle. He and other hon. Members have expressed the sincere view that when the prostitutes are driven off the streets a call-girl system will be set up which will lead to far more grave corruption. I join issue, and always have done, with the hon. and learned Member in that regard, but I do so subject to one matter.

Clause 3 provides that the penalties for living on the immoral earnings of prostitution shall go up from two to seven years. I expect that almost the whole of the House of Commons is under the illusion that that refers to ponces. Unfortunately, it does not. It also refers to a number of other people who can be found guilty of the same offence, although the offence which they may perpetrate on the community is one of minimal content.

The difficulties that will arise now are these. When we get the prostitutes off the streets and into flats it will be found that they have to get their clientele somehow, and when they seek to get their clientele they will do it in one of three ways. The first is by giving their cards to the taxi-cab drivers and hotel porters. The second way is by putting advertisements in the local shops. For example, in Shepherd Market, not only will the local taxi drivers be given the cards of girls who happen to live in that neighbourhood in flats, for which they pay, but the girls will seek to put up small advertisement cards in the little shops immediately surrounding the area. Thirdly, they will seek through their former clientele to give their telephone numbers to night clubs, restaurants and anywhere else from whence they think they may be able to achieve their clientele. That is what they will seek to do.

Unfortunately, through difficulties, I failed to be able to devise any Amendment to Clause 3 to exempt from the previous law the position which arises in those cases. I point out, however, that if these girls are unable to operate from their flats because they are hindered from being able to achieve the advertisement which they need for their business there will be great difficulty in operating the Bill successfully because, in practice, it will mean that they would rather go back on the street than be unable to operate their business.

I do not believe it was meant that under Clause 3 a person should be convicted and sent to prison for a period of five years because he takes a tip, not from a woman but from a man, for the purpose of offering the name of a woman who will give her services as a prostitute. I do not propose now to argue the legal position but merely to state that I am quite satisfied from the law as it stands that a hotel porter or a taxi driver who gives the name of a prostitute to a man and takes a reward from the man would none the less be guilty of the offence of living on the immoral earnings of prostitution.

I draw attention to that not only so that it may be investigated when the Bill goes to another place but, far more than that, so that the Home Office may take due note and be careful that the Commissioner of Police does not start prosecutions for living on the immoral earnings in the case of people of that class, because, if so, and if the girls are unable to operate their business behind closed doors, they will come back on the streets again and the Bill will not succeed.

The way in which the Bill was handled by my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary on Second Reading and has been handled with the new Clause concerning cautions which has been put into it not only has been humane and constructive but will achieve the purpose which my right hon. Friend and the Government seek. I regard it as a thoroughly good Bill, but I agree that there is the possible danger of organisation in the trade. If it is avoided—there is no organisation worth talking about left in London now that the Messinas are out of business, for it was they primarily who organised the trade here in the past; as they are out of the way, these girls will remain independent—there will always be professional call-girls—we shall undoubtedly reduce the in take enormously. The intake that comes into this profession at the moment comes in primarily at Hyde Park in the case of London. With the removal of the girls from the streets we shall reduce the amount of prostitution, to the benefit of the community. We shall drive it from the streets and, if with equal humanity we do not drive the girls back on the streets again, we shall secure all the objects for the attainment of which the Bill will prove a valuable instrument.

11.15 p.m.

Mr. Paget

I find the prospect of every taxi-driver and porter taking the prostitutes' cards much more degrading than the spectacle of these girls on the streets. I opposed the Bill on Second Reading because I thought it was a very bad Bill. I now think it a considerably worse one. So far, the fines have been increased to a level at which they are completely trivial in comparison with the girls' earnings, but not at all trivial in comparison with police wages. By that increase in the fines we have provided no deterrent at all but we have raised largely the level of corruption.

We have provided for a prison sentence, and by that, in effect, have provided that a girl at a certain stage of her career must leave the streets and employ agents to get her custom. On Second Reading, I thought that at least the Bill would achieve its end by clearing the streets. I am now convinced that it will not. I will give the House my reasons for so thinking. By a cautioning system, which, I believe, was dreamed up during Second Reading and which has been wholly unconsidered, we have provided a system by which a girl will have at least a year's run before she gets into the gaol zone. At the same time we are clearing all the best pitches for her. Nothing on earth could make this trade so attractive to the girl. We are removing the experienced competition. As it becomes experienced, we are clearing all the best pitches and giving the new entrant a year's run on them.

I assure the House that there will be plenty of new entrants to fill those pitches. We shall see the streets just as full, but in the process we shall be seeing new girls, new entrants into this profession. Therefore, we shall have more prostitutes and not cleaner streets. We shall have more corruption, more organisation and more organised crime.

11.19 p.m.

Mr. Rawlinson

I have had the privilege and opportunity of listening to several hon. Members and have now had the good fortune to catch your eye, Mr. Speaker, on both Second and Third Reading. The more I have listened to hon. Members the more I have realised that this is a subject on which one needs a great deal of expertise. I find, having listened to all the speeches, that I prefer the robust common sense of the hon. Member for Stepney (Mr. W. Edwards) to what I hope I may be allowed to call the academic twitterings of some hon. Members who have taken part in the debate. This is an action which the Government were obliged to take by the common sense of the people of this country who were refusing to continue to accept a situation which had become a thorough menace to all those who occupy or visit the capital city. Having said that, I have considerable reservations about what the effect of the Bill will be, and I have said as much in the past, and in the debate on the Wolfenden Report.

This seems to me a Bill which is designed solely for public order. As my hon. Friend the Member for Cheadle (Mr. Shepherd) said, there are certain things we are permitted to do in private which the country says we may not do in public. "Do it in public and it gives offence to us," says the country, "and if you wish to do it, go off and do it elsewhere." That seems to me to be the reasonable and sensible course, which the Government have taken in promoting this Bill.

I do accept, however, and agree with what the hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Northampton (Mr. Paget) said. If we accept the Bill we have to accept also the consequences. If we drive this off the streets we still do not abolish it. Not even the holy alliance of my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary, my right hon. and learned Friend the Attorney-General, my hon. Friends the two Joint Under-Secretaries of State and 600 Members of the House in 1959 is going to abolish the oldest profession. The oldest profession is going to persist.

But it will not be paraded in the streets. It will not be there for people to see. As some hon. Gentlemen and hon. Ladies who have been concerned about this problem know, it was the practice for large sections of schoolboys to go round the streets watching the activities of these ladies and on occasion to become involved with these ladies so that they themselves were the subjects of criminal prosecutions. There has been paraded before those boys of tender age an obvious, ugly temptation to which some of them succumbed. That is, of course, only a minor point to make in this tremendous problem which the House has to face in considering the Third Reading of this Bill, but nevertheless there was that temptation.

To hon. Gentlemen opposite who may say they do not take into account or care about that aspect of the problem, I say that this is the right Bill to achieve this very limited purpose. I think it is a Draconian Measure. I think it had to be a Draconian Measure to succeed in its object.

I have no fear about conviction of the innocent, that innocent people will be convicted in the manner suggested. It is many years since the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Newport (Sir F. Soskice), for whom I have the greatest respect, was last in a police court. I do not think that what he had to say about his experience in the police courts would occur today. If that lady was on her way to her grandmother and did not pass the time by soliciting—if she did pass the time by soliciting she would have been properly convicted—then I am quite satisfied she would be able to prove it and would not be convicted of this offence in a magistrates' court.

I think organised vice will certainly arise. We have seen recently in the courts examples of how organised it has been in the past, and we shall see it again in the future. But that is what we are doing deliberately by this Bill. We are saying that the market place shall not be in the streets but shall be somewhere else, and that what formerly existed on the beats in the streets of London shall now move into various flats and rooms.

The Bill appears to be trying to do two things. By increasing the penalties by Clause 3 it appears to be trying to deal with the alternative, because the alternative means the creation of an extended system of poncing, and the ponce, though no one is particularly attracted to him or the role which he plays, plays a very important and very human and psychological part in this problem. There are many cases, as is well known, of prostitutes who will give evidence in defence of the ponce. The prostitute is the last person to wish to see the ponce convicted because the ponce represents to her not only her business agent but also, in many cases, someone for whom she has an emotional and human attachment which she does not wish to see severed by the action of the court.

By Section 30 of the Sexual Offences Act it is an offence knowingly to live wholly or in part on the earnings of prostitution. The onus of proving that he was not doing so knowingly is put upon the accused. By case law, as my hon. Friend the Member for the Isle of Thanet (Mr. Rees-Davies has said, even if a man receives payment not from the prostitute but from a person with whom he has provided her, he is nevertheless liable to be convicted of an offence under Section 30 of the Act to which I have referred. It has also been held that if a person lets a room at an inflated rent for the express purpose of allowing a woman to carry on her trade of prostitution that person can be convicted. The increase in the penalty to a period of imprisonment for seven years is an attempt to deal with the problem of the ponce, and I do not think that that problem can be effectively and properly be dealt with in this way.

I also agree that the increased burden will be placed on the police forces. The police are aware of the extent to which the possibilities of corruption will exist when vice is highly organised on a large scale. There will also be an increased burden on the courts. All this is the price we pay for a Bill which will succeed in driving these people from the streets.

I do not think that this House can be confident that this is the final solution to the problem. It should be approached as a worthwhile experiment which the Government were right to make—an experiment to try to increase public order and public decency. But this is a Measure which my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary and the officers at the Home Office will watch very carefully Having given a proper lead, it will be my right hon. Friend's desire to amend the law if necessary hereafter, and to give a further lead if it should be found that the alternative situation, which I feel must arise, creates in its turn very serious and grave problems.

11.27 p.m.

Mr. Parkin

The hon. and gallant Member for Nottingham, Central (Lieut.-Colonel Cordeaux) and the hon. Member for Cheadle (Mr. Shepherd) have painted a clear and concise picture of the sort of developments they would like to see take place, which makes it quite unnecessary for me to speak about the alternative which is in the minds of some of those who attack the Bill. If I had said that all hon. Members opposite were in favour of the sort of system outlined by those two speakers, I should have been accused of prejudice and exaggeration. The hon. Member for the Isle of Thanet (Mr. Rees-Davies) made a passionate plea for the tout. If that is what hon. Members opposite expect. I can only take comfort from the concluding words of the hon. and learned Member for Epsom (Mr. Rawlinson), that he regards the Bill as an experiment. I had always hoped that it would be.

But whatever form a Bill on this subject takes, everything depends on the dynamic administrative energy of the Home Secretary. The Home Secretary's immediate predecessor had the reputation of being a rather lazy man. We had debates on this subject from time to time, but nothing happened. The present Home Secretary—and this is my real complaint about the Bill—has thrown away a rather unusual opportunity. He had the benefit of a long period of work done by welfare bodies throughout the country, and hon. Members have spent considerable time in studying this intractable, dreary and distasteful subject. Now we have a pitifully inadequate Bill, which misses the opportunity of dealing with many aspects that one would have thought ought to be dealt with, such as the use of property and the indirect problem of immoral earnings.

On such an important matter as cautioning the Home Secretary did not think it worth while explaining to the Standing Committee what he had in mind in his Second Reading speech, and even today the Attorney-General was given the job of opening and closing the debate on the matter. He had to say, of course, that he was not responsible for the police, but had been given to understand that that was going to happen. I cannot help feeling that the momentum of reform which we understood was ablaze in the belly of the Home Secretary when he went to his new office has been somewhat slowed down. I am sorry that the right hon. Gentleman has missed an opportunity and has not given us a better Bill to begin with and has not helped us to improve it in Committee and on Report. I can only hope that he will enjoy a happy weekend in Paris.

11.30 p.m.

The Secretary of State for the Home Department and Lord Privy Seal (Mr. R. A. Butler)

I am intervening only briefly at the end of this day on which we have concluded the Report stage and are now concluding the Third Reading of the Bill. My hon. and learned Friend the Member for Epsom (Mr. Rawlinson) hoped that this was not the final word. I think that we should all approach the Bill in a spirit of modesty, because we are dealing with a fundamental problem of human nature—morals. I do not think that any law, however excellent, can settle any moral problem, and I say immediately to my hon. and learned Friend that I would not regard this Bill as in any sense final but as a weapon which will help us to deal with a blatant blot on our civilisation, especially in our capital city.

I am surprised that in the course of the debate there has not been more realisation of the very severe difficulties which we are facing in our streets. While I would like to pay a tribute to the spirit which has been shown in the course of the Report stage on both sides of the House, I should have liked to have heard a little more account taken of the seriousness of the position which we are facing in our streets. Nobody who walks through our streets can but be impressed by the difficulties of the present situation. It was to deal with those difficulties, which, I think, are obvious to all, and which must have an effect on our younger generation and which give us cause to worry when any of the younger generation go through the streets, that we accepted the findings of the Wolfenden Committee.

That, I think, is the answer to the hon. Member for Paddington, North (Mr. Parkin), namely, that we have accepted in toto the findings of the Wolfenden Committee. It is rather peculiar that when a Government accept the findings of a Committee which they have set up they should be criticised and that when they do not accept its findings they should also be criticised. In this case, I think that we were right to accept the findings of the Wolfenden Committee. They are practical findings which, I hope, will deal with a practical problem.

I do not think that the Committee's findings or the Bill completely solve the moral issue. I think that they deal with the practical aspects of the problem. They do not solve the moral issue, and I have never thought that they did. I did not think so when I first read the Wolfenden Report and I do not now. But I am sure that the Bill is the only way in which to deal with the matter.

I have had to face up to the need for a thoroughly practical Measure. The hon. Member for Rossendale (Mr. Anthony Greenwood) rarely speaks, at any rate in a summing up or conclusive manner, without quoting my great aunt Josephine Butler. I sympathise with the hon. Gentleman in the easy target which he has on this occasion. That is why I am taking part in the debate.

In answer, I should like to say how much I owe to my right hon. and learned Friend the Attorney-General and my hon. Friends the Joint Under-Secretaries of State for the Home Department for the work they did in Committee, and to the members of the Committee, in considering the Bill. It has been an extremely hard tussle, and in facing the conclusion reached I had also to face up to my own family tradition. What I decided was on the best possible advice, that the women with whom the Bill deals are very different from those with whom my great aunt had to deal, very different indeed.

The women with whom we are having to deal now are those making very considerable fortunes per week. The hon. Member for Stepney (Mr. W. Edwards) is perfectly right in quoting the sums which they earn. We are not dealing with the poor, pushed out by the circumstances of a capitalist society to earn their living by prostitution. We are not dealing with that at all. We are dealing with girls who deliberately go into this trade to make a living—and to make a far greater living than do those who do an honest day's work without prostituting themselves or entering into immoral practices. The more the House realises those facts the better. We are not dealing with the same problem as occurred in Victorian days. It is because I have been able to face that problem that I was able to introduce the Bill personally, otherwise I should have hesitated.

I hesitate less in the later stages of the Bill because of the new Clause which we introduced today. The hon. and learned Member for Northampton (Mr. Paget), who is never backward in coming forward in our debates, had a talk with me yesterday about his new Clause, which I considered with him very carefully. Whatever work he thinks I have not done in speaking in the House on Report and Third Reading, I have done work behind the scenes, which I think is the right place for a Minister in charge of a Bill to work.

I sympathised with him about his new Clause, but we could not introduce it and it is not in order for me to discuss it on Third Reading because it is not in the Bill. The reason that we did not accept it was that we thought that cautioning was better not made statutory, as the hon. and learned Member, the hon. Member for Nelson and Colne (Mr. S. Silverman) and others desired. We thought it better to leave it to the police to operate it and to introduce the right of appeal in our new Clause.

The new Clause was amended in accordance with the wishes of right hon. and hon. Members opposite so that the proceedings can be held in camera. I am satisfied that, as amended, the new Clause is a great improvement from the point of view of personal liberty, and as personal liberty has been at stake on Second Reading and throughout the other stages of the Bill, I think that we have made an improvement in the Bill. I am glad to see this improvement and to note that the hon. Member for Rossendale is in favour of it.

I was gratified in the Third Reading debate to hear speeches from my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Nottingham, Central (Lieut.-Colonel Cordeaux), the hon. Member for Islington, East (Mr. E. Fletcher), my hon. Friend the Member for Cheadle (Mr. Shepherd) and the hon. Member for Stepney—lour speeches in succession—in favour of the Bill. That is not bad. In addition, there has been support from my hon. Friend the Member for Isle of Thanet (Mr. Rees-Davies) and my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Epsom, who always enriches our debates on these disagreeable topics. When we add those speeches we find that we have had quite a good finish to a very disagreeable Bill and a very disagreeable discussion.

It is to the credit of the House that we have been able to face this problem. How it will work out I cannot say. In dealing with moral issues it is impossible to say what the force of legislative provisions will be, but my contact with the Metropolitan Police leads me to believe that the Bill can be operated to the advantage of all the matters we have in mind.

I know that there is some anxiety in respect of the provincial police. My right hon. and learned Friend the Attorney-General said that 12 chief constables have agreed to operate the scheme. I shall shortly be meeting chief constables at their annual meeting and the provincial police at one or more meetings. I undertake to the House that I will discuss with them the operation of

the Bill in the Provinces and in the other forces of the country. That is the best way to do it.

In response to my hon. Friend the Member for Hornchurch (Mr. Lagden), I cannot at this late hour alter the whole system of our relationship with provincial police forces, but I can guarantee to make the system work as well as possible. In meeting the other chief constables and the other police forces of the country, I will do my best to make the system work not only in the Metropolis but also in the Provinces.

The hon. Member for Rossendale quoted Edmund Burke in a particularly moving way. What I remember about Burke's writings especially is his reference to right character, and it is right character that we are seeking to ensure in the Bill. If we fail we can stand at the bar of posterity and be responsible for our actions. I believe we shall have a partial success. If we have a partial success, we can take the wisdom of the House in the future, build upon what we have done, and perhaps have a more creative result after the initiative, which has demanded some courage, and which I hope the House will now support.

Question put That the Bill be now read the Third time:—

The House divided: Ayes 131, Noes, 25.

Division No. 90.] AYES [11.40 p.m.
Agnew, Sir Peter Edwards, W. J. (Stepney) Irvine, Bryant Godman (Rye)
Altken, W. T. Elliott, R.W,(Ne'castle upon Tyne, N.) Jenkins, Robert (Dulwich)
Arbuthnot, John Errington, Sir Eric Johnson, Eric (Blackley)
Armstrong, C. W. Farey-Jones, F. W. Kerr, Sir Hamilton
Ashton, H. Finlay, Graeme Leavey, J. A.
Atkins, H. E. Fletcher, Eric Legh, Hon. Peter (Petersfield)
Baldwin, Sir Archer Freeth, Denzil Lindsay, Hon. James (Devon, N.)
Barlow, Sir John Gibson-Watt, D. Llnstead, Sir H. N.
Barter, John Glover, D. Lloyd, Maj. Sir Guy (Renfrew, E.)
Batsford, Brian Glyn, Col. Richard H. Loveys, Walter H.
Biggs-Davison, J. A. Goodhart, Philip Lucas-Tooth, Sir Hugh
Bingham, R. M. Gower, H. R. Macdonald, Sir Peter
Black, Sir Cyril Graham, Sir Fergus Mackeson, Brig. Sir Harry
Bowen, C. R. (Cardigan) Grant-Ferris, Wg Cdr. R. (Nantwich) McLaughlin, Mrs. P.
Boyle, Sir Edward Green, A. McMaster, S. R.
Brooman-White, R. C. Grimston, Sir Robert (Westbury) Macmillan, Maurice (Halifax)
Bryan, P. Harrison, Col. J. H. (Eye) Macpherson, Niall (Dumfries)
Butler, Rt. Hn. R. A.(SaffronWalden) Harvey, John (Walthamstow, E.) Manningham-Buller, Rt. Hn. Sir R.
Channon, H. P. G. Heald, Rt. Hon. Sir Lionel Mawby, R. L.
Cole, Norman Heath, Rt. Hon. E. R. G. Maydon, Lt.-Comdr. S. L. C.
Coolie, Robert Henderson-Stewart, Sir James Milligan, Rt, Hon. W. R.
Cordeaux, Lt.-Col. J. K. Hill, John (S. Norfolk) Morrison, John (Salisbury)
Corfield, F. V. Hobson, John(Warwick & Leam'gt'n) Mott-Radclyffe, Sir Charles
Courtney, Cdr. Anthony Holland-Martin, C. J. Nabarro, G. D. N.
Crosthwaite-Eyre, Col. O. E. Hornby, R. P. Nicholson, Sir Godfrey (Farnham)
Currie, G. B. H. Hornsby-Smith, Miss M. P. Nicolson, N. (B'n'm'th, E. & Chr'ch)
Dance, J. C. G. Howard, Gerald (Cambridgeshire) Noble, Michael (Argyll)
Davidson, Viscountess Howard, Hon. Creville (St. Ives) O'Neill, Hn. Phelim (Co. Antrim, N.)
de Ferranti, Basil Hurd, Sir Anthony Page, R. G.
du Cann, E. D. L. Hutchison, Michael Clark (E'h'gh, S.) Pannell, N, A. (Kirkdale)
Duncan, Sir James Hylton-Foster, Rt. Hon. Sir Harry Partridge, E.
Peel, W. j. Scott-Miller, Cmdr. R. Wall, Patrick
Pickthorn, Sir Kenneth Sharpies, R. C. Ward, Dame Irene (Tynemouth)
Pike, Miss Mervyn Shepherd, William Webster, David
Pott, H. P. Spearman, Sir Alexander Williams, Paul (Sunderland, S.)
Price, Philips (Gloucestershire, W.) Spans, Rt. Hon. Sir p.(Kens'gt'n, S.) Williams, R. Dudley (Exeter)
Ramsden, J. E. Steward, Sir William (Woolwich, W.) Wills, Sir Gerald (Bridgwater)
Rawlinson, Peter Stuart, Rt. Hon. James (Moray) Wilson, Geoffrey (Truro)
Redmayne, M. Studholme, Sir Henry Wolrige-Gordon, Patrick
Rees-Davies, W. R. Summers, Sir Spencer Woollam, John Victor
Renton, D. L. M. Temple, John M. Yates, William (The Wrekin)
Reynolds, G. W. Thompson, R. (Croyden, S.)
Robinson, Sir Roland (Blackpool, S.) Vosper, Rt. Hon. D. F. TELLERS FOR THE AYES:
Roper, Sir Harold Wakefield, Edward (Derbyshire, W.) Mr. Hughes-Young and
Ropner, Col. Sir Leonard Wakefleld, Sir Wavell (St. M'lebone) Mr. Whitelaw.
Bevan, Rt. Hon. A. (Ebbw Vale) Holt, A. F. Soskice, Rt. Hon. Sir Frank
Brockway, A. F. King, Dr. H. M. Spriggs, Leslie
Cattle, Mrs. B. A. Oram, A. E. Stewart, Michael (Fulham)
Diamond, John Paget, R. T. Stonehouse, John
Fernyhough, E. Palmer, A. M. F. Summerskill, Rt. Hon. E.
Greenwood, Anthony Plummer Sir Leslie White, Mrs. Eirene (E. Flint)
Grenfell, Rt. Hon. D. R Robinson, Kenneth (St. Pancras, N.) Vates, V. (Ladywood)
Grimond, J. Silverman, Julius (Aston)
Hale, Leslie Silverman, Sydney (Nelson) TELLERS FOR THE NOES:
Mrs. Lena Jeger and Mr. Fitch.

Bill accordingly read the Third time and passed