§ 6.31 p.m.
§ Mr. Gordon Walker (Smethwick)
I beg to move,That this House regrets the failure of the Secretary of State for the Home Department to ensure that no telephone conversations should be intercepted without his express warrant and that material obtained by interception should in no circumstances be made available to any body or person whatever outside the public service; and calls upon Her Majesty's Government to carry into effect their acceptance of the recommendations in the Report of the Committee of Privy Councillors appointed to inquire into the interception of communications, presented to Parliament on 28th November, 1957, Command Paper No. 283.This Motion raises two distinct but related issues. The first concerns the interception of a telephone conversation without the warrant of the Secretary of State, and the second issue goes to the disclosure of material obtained by interception outside the public service to a domestic tribunal. Both of these are of the highest importance for the liberty of the subject. Both are attended by some difficulties. But, in both these aspects of the problem, as it seems to us, the Secretary of State has acted in breach of the acceptance by the Prime Minister on 3rd October, 1957, of the Birkett Committee Report.
I should like to take the two issues, related as they are, separately and in turn and to start with the question of interception. The right hon. Gentleman argued—this argument has been taken up by a number of newspapers—that, since in this case the listening in was done with the consent of one party, and was done on an extension, it really is nothing more than a case of eavesdropping, no different in essence from a policeman hiding behind a curtain to catch a blackmailer. Therefore, it is argued, the police must have this sort of power in order to make effective criminal inquiries.
I wish to make one thing clear straight away. The argument between us here is not about whether or not the police should have the sort of power they used in this case. We are saying they should not use the power off their own bat, that they should have applied for a warrant to the Secretary of State. The right hon. Gentleman then would have had to 1522 decide whether this was a proper case for the application for a warrant, whether it fell within the sphere of crimes and types of offences for which interception is permissible. To say that a warrant is necessary in this case is no more to deprive the police of the power to intercept than saying that a search warrant is necessary deprives the police of the power to search.
Those who argue—this has been argued in many quarters, including some liberal-minded newspapers—that this is only a case of legitimate eavesdropping seem to me to be on a rather dangerous and slippery slope. The line running from eavesdropping all the way to telephone tapping is a line made up of a series of gradations, and it is not at all easy to draw a logical line of distinction. After all, telephone tapping itself is only a form of eavesdropping, and one must be very careful how far one carries this eavesdropping argument One can only distinguish between eavesdropping on the one hand and telephone tapping on the other because one draws an arbitrary line—not one which can be wholly defended in logic—which is absolutely necessary to the securing of our liberties. Just because it is not easy to draw a logical line, it is absolutely essential to draw a clear and firm line in these matters and to draw it decisively on the side of liberty.
I have given a great deal of thought to these difficult questions, both as a member of the Birkett Committee and in this matter, as soon as the facts which we are now discussing first became known to us. It seems to me that the point at which we must draw a clear line, even though it be a little arbitrary, if our liberties are not to slip and slide from us, is, first, at the point where the police came in, and, secondly, where a telephone is concerned. It seems to me that one must cling to those two points or one is in grave danger of being led into very perilous paths, as I think the facts of this case show.
It was not—as the right hon. Gentleman kept on implying when answering Questions on 3rd December—just somebody listening in on an extension. It was the police listening in. Now let us consider what the police did without a warrant authorising them to do it. They first of all instigated a conversation and 1523 then they deliberately and secretly listened to that conversation and recorded it. They recorded the words of a man, who knew nothing about what was happening, with the aim of incriminating him. And all that was done without a warrant. I say that our liberties are really in danger unless we stoutly announce and affirm that every citizen in this country must have the absolute assurance that this sort of thing does not happen, that this sort of action is not done to him by the police without the warrant of the Secretary of State. I think that equally we get into danger unless we draw a line, and a firm line, between eavesdropping at large and eavesdropping on the telephone. Everycitizen—
§ Mr. Peter Rawlinson (Epsom)
Does the right hon. Gentleman mean that if somebody was being threatened and asked police officers to come and listen to see whether in fact it was a threat, that could be done only if the person concerned, before or after going to the police, had the authority of the Secretary of State?
§ Mr. Gordon Walker
I think there might be occasions, as indeed there are in the case of a search, when there is a need for emergency action to be taken, which the police take at their own risk and for which they subsequently get cover. Of course that can happen. A search can be conducted without a warrant in certain circumstances, but it should not be so unless it is a real matter of vital urgency that it should be done. Wherever it is possible the police should get a warrant for a search or an interception, and that is what I said.
§ Mr. John Hobson (Warwick and Leamington) rose—
§ Mr. Hobson
The right hon. Gentleman must surely face the situation that a search warrant is wholly unnecessary unless the owner of the premises objects. If he gives his consent, a warrant becomes unnecessary.
§ Mr. Gordon Walker
When someone is having a conversation intercepted he cannot know about it. Someone who is being searched can know about it. For 1524 that reason one needs a greater protection. At any rate, I affirm—though other hon. Members who may speak later may take a different view—that unless we take this clear stand that the police need a warrant for an interception, we shall find our liberties in danger, as I shall show in a moment.
Every citizen who uses any means of communication provided by the State should have an absolute assurance that his communications, his talks or his letters, should not be deliberately intercepted by an agent of the State without a warrant. Here again the facts in this case that we are discussing show where a failure to preserve this sort of distinction leaves us. I agree there can be more than one view on this, but I beg hon. Members who differ from me to consider where the argument may lead them.
The right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary said on 3rd December, in answer to questions, that this was not a case of tapping because there was no interception of a public telephone system, by which I take it he meant that it was not done at or through a public telephone exchange which then would have been under the control of the Postmaster-General who, at any rate since 1937, has not acted in these matters without the Home Secretary's warrant.
I see that point, but what actually happened in this case? Apparently the police intercepted a conversation, not at an extension in the ordinary sense of the word, but at an exchange in a private block of flats—indeed, at the very point at which the telephone line entered into the public telephone system. If they had gone one stage further along the line they would have been at a public telephone exchange. Indeed, the right hon. Gentleman on 3rd December implied strongly that they ought to have gone to the public telephone exchange, because he said:What I should like to see happen is the thing"—he was referring to the facts and what was done in this case—done by normal intercept, with the authority of the Secretary of State …"—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 3rd December, 1959; Vol. 614, c. 1388.]—in other words, that it should have been done at a public telephone exchange. This means, in other words, that simply by taking another point along the line at 1525 which to make the interception the police avoided the need to ask for the Secretary of State's warrant, which they would have had to do if they had gone one stage further along the line to make the interception through a public telephone exchange.
The defence by the Secretary of State of the use by the police of this device opens rather appalling prospects. When the Birkett Report was accepted, we all thought that our rights were protected clearly because the Secretary of State's warrant would be needed for each and every interception. That was the general impression that we got from the acceptance of the Birkett Report. But now we find that by the use of the simple device of finding the right point on the line other than at a public exchange at which to make an interception, apparently any policeman in the land can intercept any conversation at his own discretion and without a warrant.
§ Mr. Peter Kirk (Gravesend)
It must be done with the consent of one of the parties making the call.
§ Mr. Gordon Walker
I have a difficult argument to develop. It is fairly close-knit. I will, of course, give way if hon. Members insist, but if they would make their points if and when they catch your eye, Mr. Speaker, I would be grateful.
Any policeman in the land, if he picks the right point and gets the consent of one party, can intercept the conversation unknown to the other party at the other end—something that we did not think could happen to us. They can do this now with the blessing of the Secretary of State. When these very events have occurred, the Secretary of States comes to us and says, "Everything is quite all right. It is nothing to do with me. This was not telephone tapping at all." We are now in a worse position owing to the attitude of the right hon. Gentleman on 3rd December. He has fully justified this. Any policeman who acts in this way can count on the same sort of protection from the right hon. Gentleman. He only has to use these simple devices in order to avoid the need to get a warrant.
The Secretary of State urged in his defence that he could do nothing because he has no control over the provincial police. He said on 3rd December: 1526I am not myself responsible for the provincial police in any particular…"— [OFFICIAL REPORT, 3rd December. 1959; Vol 614, c. 1388.]This argument seems to me wholly misconceived and ill-advised, and it bears the mark, to my mind, of an excuse thought up to explain inaction. The power and duty of the Secretary of State to control all official interception through his warrant does not derive from his capacity as a police authority. It derives from his capacity as Secretary of State.
Look again where this argument of the right hon. Gentleman leads us. The Birkett Report in Appendix II lists the authorities and agencies which used the power to intercept between 1937 and 1956, and we see there a number of authorities which are certainly not in any way under the direct authority of the Secretary of State, but all of which needed a warrant in order to intercept—for instance, the Customs, the Port of London Authority and chief constables of provincial forces. I hope we shall not hear any more tonight of the argument that the right hon. Gentleman cannot control interception by the provincial police because he cannot control the provincial police.
Where does that lead us? It means that bodies like the Customs, the Port of London Authority and the provincial police, which are not directly under the control of the Home Secretary, could, with these simple devices, intercept without a warrant in the same way as has been done in this case with one party not knowing. It can be done without his warrant, with impunity and, indeed, with his blessing, if they can find a convenient way of intercepting at a point other than at a public telephone exchange, and—although this is not an absolute necessity—with the consent of one of the parties. The arguments of the right hon. Gentleman would lead further. If they could find a place other than a public exchange, they could intercept with impunity even without the knowledge of either party. I think the right hon. Gentleman's arguments would lead us very near to that conclusion.
All our safeguards in this matter rest on the assumption that the warrant of the Secretary of State is necessary for any official interception, and our safeguards are rendered nugatory unless the 1527 right hon. Gentleman accepts the complementary responsibility to see that there is no official interception, in any meaning of the word, without his warrant. Unless he can insist on that and enforce that, our safeguards that there can be no interception without his warrant are rendered nugatory. The law can be broken, of course. Someone may exceed his authority and may tap without a warrant. But then the Secretary of State surely has the duty at least to condemn the act, to repudiate it and take steps to prevent its repetition and not come here to cover up the action, to defend it and, therefore, throw into doubt the liberties of which we thought we were certain.
In connection with this interception, the right hon. Gentleman used one other main argument with which I should like to deal. He said that the facts of this case, in so far as they relate to interception, fall outside the scope and intent of the Birkett Report. He said that on a number of occasions. As a member of the Committee that produced that Report, I must challenge that contention. The Committee was not limited, as the right hon. Gentleman constantly implied in his answers, to a consideration of tapping through a public telephone exchange. For instance, we went into the question of unauthorised tapping. There is a section of the Report which deals with unauthorised tapping.
Of course, by definition, unauthorised tapping will occur at a point other than the public telephone exchange. We were told, as the Report makes clear, that this never happened and there were no cases known of unauthorised interception at a point other than the public telephone exchange. But we did, none the less, suggest that Parliament should consider making unauthorised tapping illegal. It is now very important that we should consider that. If unauthorised tapping had been made illegal, as the Birkett Report suggested, this action of the police which we are now discussing would certainly have been illegal.
The whole tenor and burden of the Birkett Report was that this odious and furtive power, as we described it throughout the Report, should be continued only on the assumption that there should be no official tapping of any kind without a warrant. That is what the Committee 1528 said in its Report, and that was the underlying theme running through it all. If there can now be official tapping, with one person not knowing and his words being listened to, then we have not the liberties we thought we had and we have not the assurance we thought we had when the Government accepted the Report.
I come now to the second aspect of the matter, the disclosure of intercepted material outside the public service. I can argue this more shortly, because it is almost unanimous public opinion that in this matter the Secretary of State was wrong. I begin by reading the recommendation in paragraph 154 of the Birkett Report:We recommend that in no circumstances should material obtained by interception be made available to any body or person whatever outside the public service.It would be hard to find more comprehensive terms than that. That recommendation was intended to cover, and I think it did cover, every conceivable case of a disclosure of intercepted material outside the public service, and this was specifically accepted by the Government. That should have settled the matter. After the Government had accepted those very clear words, we should have been able to take it for granted that this would never happen again. But it did happen. It happened in flat violation of the Government's acceptance of the Birkett Report.
The subsequent disclosure seems to me to make the original interception even worse. It means that the words of a man were secretly taken down by the police, without his being warned and without his knowledge at all, and they were then used in evidence where he was in jeopardy. This makes the original interception, the secret taking down of words without warning, much worse than if there had been no disclosure. Since the conversation was instigated by the police, it is very difficult not to make the assumption that the conversation was meant to incriminate the man who was being listened to secretly. One cannot absolutely draw that conclusion, but it is improbable that the police would instigate a conversation without some idea of what would be said and the sort of answers which might be trapped out of this man secretly. This really is an 1529 absolute departure from all normal and proper police behaviour. Anyone with any regard for the liberty of the subject must be gravely disturbed by that event.
I will put to the right hon. Gentleman a very simple question to which, I hope, he will give a simple answer one way or the other. Why was the material not destroyed when it was decided not to institute criminal proceedings? The Birkett Report is absolutely clear on this matter. In paragraph 151, the Committee said:The information so obtained "—meaning information obtained by interception for the detection of crime—goes only to the police and, until the recent case affecting Mr. Marrinan, had never been disclosed to any outside person and had always been destroyed.This was a Report on all the evidence which had been given to the Committee. Did the Secretary of State find out why the police departed in this case from what the Birkett Committee was told was the universal practice? Why did he not order the destruction? If it is in fact the case that such information was always destroyed, as the Birkett Committee was told, why was it not destroyed in this case?
The core of the matter is that this disclosure was made by the Secretary of State on his own discretion. He could have stopped it. He decided not to stop it. He tells us that he could have stopped it only by invoking Crown privilege. This is true only on the assumption that the material was not destroyed. When one makes that assumption, I agree that he was in that difficulty.
None of us wishes for an unnecessary extension of Crown privilege, but I agree with The Times in this matter, that it would have been in this case the lesser evil. After all, the Government gave Parliament a clear and categorical pledge that such a thing would never happen again. In the light of that pledge, the Secretary of State had art overriding duty to make it effective and not to act as if the pledge had never been given at all. That is really how he acted. The pledge of the Prime Minister was made just a bit of paper.
The right hon. Gentleman, of course, had a very difficult decision to make. We have sympathy with him. It is very hard to make these decisions. But so 1530 had Lord Tenby a difficult decision to make in the Marrinan case. He, too, considered that he was acting in the interests of justice, but the Birkett Committee condemned him. If the Committee had bean examining the present Secretary of State's action in this case, it is more than likely, I think, that it would have used the same grave words, that the decision of the Secretary of State "was a mistaken decision".
This is not the occasion to raise the broader issues which come out of this, though there are very many, except that I should say that I believe that the time has come when we really should debate the whole subject of interception. The Birkett Report, with its important suggestions for legislation, has never been debated, nor, may I add, have my reservations to the Report ever been debated. I should very much like that to happen.
There is one broader issue I should mention, namely, the proposal in the Professions Supplementary to Medicine Bill that certain bodies, private tribunals, should be given the same subpoena powers as the General Medical Council. Clearly, we must take steps to limit those powers from being extended to compelling the disclosure of intercepted material. But that would not be enough because there are all the existing bodies which have the power already, and they are not the subject of Bills before the House. We must take an early opportunity to clear the matter up over the whole range of private tribunals.
The immediate issue before us is the one in our Motion which deals with the actual conduct of the Secretary of State in a particular case. This we desire to bring home to him. He is falling too much into the habit of rushing automatically to the defence whenever the use of authority is called in question. Frankly, we are becoming a little tired of the way in which he tries to escape his responsibilities in such cases by pleading his doubts, his difficulties and the advice given to him, and then diverting attention from what he has done or has not done by raising a smoke screen of even bigger issues. I hope that he will, for once, squarely face the charges we make.
We say that he should have said far more clearly than he did that the police should have come to him in this case for a warrant, and he should openly 1531 rebuke their failure to do so. He must recognise his own responsibility to ensure that no official interceptions are made without his own express warrant. If necessary, legislation must be passed, though, until now, we all thought that it was not necessary and it could be done by the power of the Secretary of State. He should never have allowed the disclosure in this case. Those are the charges we make against him.
The right hon. Gentleman rightly values his reputation as a liberal Home Secretary, but let him remember that a reputation for liberalism in a Home Secretary must rest not just on words but on deeds, and on deeds in particular cases in which our liberties are threatened or abused.
§ 7.0 p.m.
§ The Secretary of State for the Home Department (Mr. R. A. Butler)
When the Opposition requested a day to discuss this matter, and, above all, when they placed their Motion on the Order Paper, I was the first to realise the importance of the subject and the need for a debate. We have now arranged this debate before we adjourn, and although we may find that we have differences of opinion on the matter—and that is clear to me after listening to the speech of the right hon. Member for Smethwick (Mr. Gordon Walker)—this debate may do something, at any rate, to illustrate how the Government feel in this matter and certain action which I propose to take.
I endeavoured to set out the facts of this case in the statement which I made previously. To the best of my knowledge, all the relevant information has, in substance, already been put before the House. I accept the circumstances which turn our debate more on to the general issues than on to this particular case but I will just remind the House of the facts.
In April this year, the Reading police, on behalf of the deputy coroner, were investigating circumstances of which the House must be taken to be aware. In general, it may be said that in the course of this investigation the police took a statement on 20th April from a subscriber in which she mentioned that she had had a telephone call from the person primarily concerned and it seemed likely that he might get in touch with her 1532 again. At the suggestion of the police, she rang him up and with her agreement a police shorthand writer listened to the conversation on an extension and took a note of it. [Interruption.] I dare say that the hon. Gentleman may have one in his own house.
§ Mr. Gordon Walker
I understood that it was not an extension but the exchange at the bottom of the flats.
§ Mr. Butler
It was the extension of the telephone from her own room. It was all within the same private telephone and in the same house. It was an extension of the telephone of the subscriber within the same house and not on the public telephone system. That is the only valid distinction, not being a telephone engineer, that I can draw. The House will remember that the police eventually concluded that there were no grounds for instituting criminal proceedings and that, after the inquest, the deputy coroner thought it right to bring the case to the attention of the General Medical Council.
A solicitor acting on behalf of the Council subsequently interviewed the subscriber to whom I have referred. She disclosed to him that the telephone conversation had taken place on 20th April and had been overheard by the police. A subpoena was then served on the shorthand writer to give evidence at the hearing before the Disciplinary Committee of the General Medical Council and to produce the shorthand notes of the telephone conversation. The Chief Constable thereupon referred the matter to me on the question of whether Crown privilege should be claimed.
As I have told the House, after taking the advice of the Law Officers, I decided that it should not be claimed, and I will deal fully in a few minutes with my reasons for coming to this conclusion. In the meantime, I should like to emphasise that the police were required by subpoena to produce this information. There was no question of my authorising or consenting to the disclosure of the record of the telephone conversation to the General Medical Council. My sole concern was to consider whether I should intervene by making a claim to Crown privilege. Let us get that quite clear.
When the right hon. Member for Smethwick requested you, Mr. Speaker, 1533 to rule that this case should be considered under Standing Order No. 9, he referred to the interception by the police of a telephone conversation without the express warrant of the Secretary of State, the disclosure to a domestic tribunal of material obtained by interception and the consent given by the Home Secretary to this disclosure. I do not accept that as an accurate description of what happened, nor do I accept, now that we have the Motion on the Order Paper, that there has been any failure on my part. I will take these charges together.
The phrases used by hon. Members opposite embody complete misconceptions about what happened in this case—the first about what was done by the police and the second about what was done by me. With regard to the action by the police, there has been quite a determined attempt from hon. and right hon. Members opposite to say that what happened in this case is exactly on all fours with the practice considered by the Birkett Committee. This is confirmed by the terms of the Motion. Indeed, in our previous exchange, one hon. Member quoted paragraph 101 of the Birkett Report—the right hon. Member for Smethwick quoted paragraph 154 of the Report—which states that in no circumstances should information obtained by interception—that is in the terms described in the terms of reference of the Birkett Committee—be disclosed to any outside body. With that recommendation, I have already said that I warmly agree, and the practice of the Government is firmly based upon it. No information so obtained has been or will be communicated to any outside body.
§ Mr. Scholefield Allen (Crewe)
The right hon. Gentleman seems to have jumped a little. Did not the Birkett Committee recommend that evidence obtained for criminal purposes should be destroyed when it was no longer needed for those purposes? The right hon. Gentleman was faced with the existence of that evidence. Why was it not destroyed? If it was, he would never have been put in this position.
§ Mr. Butler
As I have already explained, this case is not on all fours with any recommendation of the Birkett Committee. It is part of a criminal 1534 record of a criminal investigation by the police. It is for the police, including the Reading police, to decide for how long such records should be kept. It has been asked why I did not intervene. I knew nothing about the matter. When the Reading police received the subpoena they still had the record. It had not been destroyed. It was not a record on the same lines dealt with by the recommendation of the Birkett Committee.
§ Mr. Gordon Walker
Should not general instructions be given that these things should be destroyed? Even though this case is not completely on all fours, it is similar.
§ Mr. Butler
By saying that, the right hon. Gentleman has conceded a great deal of his case. I am ready to consider how much influence could be brought to bear on the police either to keep their records secret or to destroy them. To say that this case is on all fours with the Birkett Committee is a travesty of common sense. What happened was that the police listened with the agreement of one party, to a conversation between that party and another person on a private telephone extension or on the extension—I accept the amendment—of the party who gave the consent.
I see in the Observer and New Statesman, both doughty champions of personal liberty and not always as friendly to the Administration as they are to right hon. and hon. Members opposite, categorical statements—I have the cuttings here—that this case did not involve the tapping of a telephone. Further, it is said in the New Statesman that the telephone in question was not tapped. I agree with these journals. I think that they are right. I think that they have a correct view of the situation, but they refer to the important point, to which I shall come later, about the use made of any record like this. That is a most important point which I shall not avoid but will discuss in detail.
There is the clearest possible distinction—it is right to emphasise it—between listening, as was done in this case, to a single conversation with the agreement of one of the parties which, as I told the House on 3rd December, involves no infringement of the law, and the secret interception by the Post Office of 1535 all the telephone calls of a particular individual on the warrant of the Secretary of State. It was with the last point alone that the Birkett Committee was concerned.
I hope that the House will accept the importance of this distinction and will appreciate that there was in fact no departure from the recommendation of the Birkett Committee or from the pledge of the Prime Minister, which related and could only relate to operations over which the Government have control through the requirement to obtain a warrant. In answer to part of the Motion on the Order Paper I will tell the right hon. Member for Smethwick that to that pledge we adhere.
Hon. Members, however, may nevertheless feel that it is a matter for concern that any material obtained by the police by listening-in to a telephone call, even with a subscriber's consent, should be passed on to an outside body, and that is a matter with which I shall be dealing. Meanwhile, hon. Members may ask what can be done about cases of listening in on an extension by the police, as distinct from interception of the public telephone system under warrant with the authority of the Secretary of State. Here I must point out, and despite what the right hon. Member for Smethwick says, drum it home, as I have done on another occasion, that the Secretary of State is not responsible for the administration of the provincial police.
The Prime Minister has just informed the House today that Her Majesty the Queen has approved the proposal to set up, under the chairmanship of Sir Henry Willink, a Royal Commission on the police which will be concerned, among other things, with their constitutional position. The terms of reference have been announced. They will necessarily cover the extent, if any, of the accountability of the police to the police authorities, to the Secretary of State and to Parliament, for their actions. The right hon. Member for Smethwick asked a question about that this afternoon.
I must not seek to prejudge the result of that inquiry. I can now only act as the law stands, and as the law stands it has hitherto been regarded as a fundamental principle of our constitution that 1536 a Minister of the Crown has no power to intervene in the day-to-day operations of the police and in particular in their methods of detecting criminals, bringing blackmailers to justice, and otherwise conducting criminal investigations. Under the constitution, the police possess a measure of independence and autonomy, and any politician who attempted to take that away would be the biggest enemy of personal liberty and justice in this country.
Having made the constitutional position clear, I can tell the House that I have no reason to think that there is widespread listening-in by the police. [An HON. MEMBER: "How does the right hon. Gentleman know?"] I have made great inquiries. I have consulted several forces and have consulted with my own inspectors. What inquiries I have made—and I am sure that the House will be glad to hear this—assure me that this method of investigation is very rare indeed. I can find few instances of it on my inquiries.
There are many methods of inquiry—such as overhearing conversations, reading a letter at the invitation of the recipient or, in a Shakespearean context, standing behind the arras—which may be distasteful but which on occasions it might be necessary for the police to use in their constant battle against crime. I am aware of the crime wave and it would not be right for me to single out this particular method of investigation from others involving a disclosure by one party without the knowledge or consent of the other.
However much hon. Members ask me, I cannot see that it would be practicable to prohibit the police by legislation from using this means of inquiry. I daresay the police will read the result of our debate. I am quite certain that the view in the House is that this should be used sparingly and only for that purpose. I will certainly see that the police are aware of the views of the House.
This leads to the second question—whether the local police, having been subpoenaed to produce their evidence of the conversation, a claim of Crown privilege should have been made, and whether the Home Secretary should do so if any similar cases should arise in future. I should like to remind the 1537 House of the considerations to which the Home Secretary must have regard in considering whether to make such a claim. First, and most important, executive interference with the processes of justice is inherently undesirable. When a court or tribunal has to try a case, it is obviously desirable that, as far as possible, all relevant evidence should be before it, otherwise one or other of the parties, and sometimes it is the defendant, may be prejudiced.
Some kinds of evidence, however, must be excluded on the ground of the public interest, and Ministers can secure some evidence being excluded by formally objecting on that ground to its production. Ministers, however, do not have an absolutely free hand in doing so. Lord Simon laid down the proper test in these words:The Minister in deciding whether it is his duty to object …ought not to take the responsibility of withholding production except in cases where the public interest would otherwise be damnified, for example… where the practice of keeping a class of document secret is necessary for the proper functioning of the public service.The question I had to decide, therefore, was whether the document in question was one of a class which it was necessary for the proper functioning of the public service to keep secret. I had to consider this question in the light of the statement on the whole subject made by the Lord Chancellor in 1956 in another place when he said thatThe proper way to strike a balance between the needs of litigants and those of Government administration is…to narrow the class as much as possible by excluding from it those categories of documents which appear to be particularly relevant to litigation and for which the highest degree of confidentiality is not required in the public interest."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, House of Lords, 6th June, 1956; Vol. 197, c. 743.]When I was asked to consider this case, it did not appear that the document fell easily into any of the classes in which privilege had been claimed in the past.
In these circumstances, I thought it right to take the advice of the Law Officers. The advice that I received was that I should not be justified in making a claim of Crown privilege. I accepted that advice and I have no doubt in my mind that I was right to accept it. My right hon. and learned Friend the Attorney-General will be replying to the 1538 debate. He will be able to deal with any legal aspects that arise more fully, but I think that it will be for the convenience of the House—as the Motion is on the Paper and as I took the decision in all good faith and after great consideration as will he seen from what I have already said—if I indicate briefly the main factors which influenced my decision.
The first, as I have said, is that this document did not fall clearly into one of the accepted classes. To have claimed privilege for it might, therefore, have involved an extension of an area which it has been our purpose to keep as narrow as possible. Many lawyers have objected to the extension of Crown privilege and have accused the Government of seeking to extend its scope, but so far as I know, this is the first time when objections have been taken to not extending the scope of Crown privilege.
The Times has been mentioned. I have no complaint about the manner in which The Times has reported or commented on this case. I am impressed by reading such statements and by the new desire to extend Crown privilege, but the Government should not fall in with any such suggestion, for the reasons I have given, namely that the executive should not step further into the realm of justice.
Having discussed the first reason, I give the second set of reasons. It seems to me impossible to say that the police record of the conversation in question was a confidential document in the proper sense of that expression. Perhaps the right hon. Member for Smethwick will listen to this part of my speech, because confidentiality was one of the criteria laid down by the Lord Chancellor and it has been accepted by all who have studied the exercise and use of Crown privilege.
Let us examine the circumstances in that light. The subscriber with whose agreement the record had been made had already informed the General Medical Council that a telephone conversation had taken place with the doctor concerned and that the police listened in. Thus, even if privilege had been claimed for the record, oral evidence of the conversation could have been given—and in fact it was given—by the subscriber. To have checked that would, indeed, have been an inroad into the liberty of the subject.
1539 In considering this case, the House would do well to remember the words of Lord Simon in the classic case of Duncan v. Cammell Laird that:It is not enough that the Minister …does not want to have the documents produced..He went on to say:… it would not be a good ground that, if they were produced, the consequences might involve the Department or the Government in Parliamentary discussion or in public criticism.In order to avoid such discussion or criticism I might well have claimed privilege in this case. It might have been convenient to do so, but I have no doubt at all that against the background of the doctrine to which I have referred, and in view of the advice I received, and in view of the particular circumstances of this case, it would definitely have been wrong.
§ Mr. Hugh Gaitskell (Leeds, South)
Is it not the case that Lord Simon's judgment, to which the right hon. Gentleman has referred, related to a case with which the Government themselves were involved? I recall that this question of Crown privilege came up and that it was naturally a matter of great concern to the general public, but here we are dealing with a case in which the Government themselves are not involved at all.
§ Mr. Butler
I have examined the judgments and statements of these authorities I have quoted, and they were dealing with the general principle. I think that anybody who made a claim of Crown privilege simply to keep out of public discussion and political difficulty would be wrong. I am very glad that I did not do it, to keep out of public discussion.
Future cases will have to be judged on their merits, bearing the public interest in mind. The General Medical Council, in commenting on the case with which we are concerned, has said that it seems most unlikely that the sequence of events will ever recur. I should think that very probable—that they will never recur.
I can give the House the assurance that I will ask the chief officers of police to ensure whenever they are asked by any disciplinary body to produce evidence on subpoena that they will let me know at once so that the fullest con- 1540 sideration may be given to the question whether the public interest involves or justifies a claim of privilege.
§ Mr. Butler
Not necessarily. It depends entirely on the case and the circumstances.
Turning now from this case I think the House will want to know what view the Government take about the general question of disclosure to outside bodies of information in the hands of the police. I recognise that there is much uneasiness about the possibility that material obtained for the purpose of prosecuting a criminal investigation should later be used for a quite different purpose in disciplinary proceedings before a domestic tribunal or a professional body. I undertook to consult the Lord Chancellor and the Law Officers on this general question, and I have now had an opportunity of doing so; and this preliminary consultation has suggested two possible ways in which this question of disclosure might be approached if on mature consideration it is felt—and we shall listen to the debate—that the present position is unsatisfactory.
I will if I may deal with them separately. First, is there a case for curtailing the powers of these professional disciplinary bodies? It might, for example, be possible to provide by legislation that no disciplinary body statutory or otherwise should have power to secure the issue of a subpoena to the police, but I think we must consider very carefully the implications of such a proposal. I must remind the House that the purpose for which Parliament has conferred special powers on these bodies is to protect the public, and any such change would need very careful consideration and strong justification. In fact it was the Labour Government in 1950 which gave these powers to the General Medical Council. Any suggestion, therefore, of the kind I have made would require full consultation not only with my colleagues but with the various bodies whose powers would be affected.
I must say that the preliminary views which I have received from one of these bodies, the General Medical Council, indicate that the powers of subpoena are vital to the thorough investigation of cer- 1541 tain cases and may be vital for the person appearing before the tribunal. In answer to the right hon. Gentleman, I think that we should deal with the important matter of principle involved and then turn our attention to the provisions of the Professions Supplementary to Medicine Bill which was recently read a Second time.
Just before I come to that, a possible approach has occurred to me as a result of my consultations. I have wondered whether the powers of professional disciplinary bodies to secure the issue of subpoenas, while not being withdrawn, might be subject to some control. It might, for example, be possible to provide that such bodies should have power to obtain a subpoena only by leave of a judge or master of the High Court. The question of a claim of Crown Privilege could be considered at that stage, and even where it was decided not to make such a claim the court would in suitable cases consider whether, on grounds which are now well known at least since the case of Marks v. Beyfus in 1890 the police could properly refuse to disclose information on grounds of public policy. The effect of this proposal would be that the court—not the disciplinary body—would decide, if no claim of Crown Privilege were made, whether the information should be disclosed. Such an arrangement, which might require legislation, would perhaps go some way to meet the anxiety felt by the House.
However, this is a most complex problem which raises many difficult issues. It is especially necessary to keep in mind the position of the disciplinary tribunals which have been charged by Parliament with the duty of preserving the good name and integrity of their professions. I do not think we should lightly interfere with these bodies which have for many years performed with fairness and efficiency the duties entrusted to them. We must also keep in mind the interests of the man or woman with whose case the professional body is concerned. Further, even if it were agreed that the powers of these bodies were too wide and that some change is necessary, any particular solution is likely to raise many problems affecting many interests. 1 think we should have guidance before setting up new bodies under the Second Schedule to the new Bill relating to the professions supplementary to medicine.
1542 I am persuaded, therefore, and I hope the House will agree, that there is need for a close and searching review of this question. The Government have therefore decided to set up a committee to examine this problem, and the terms of reference will be as follows:To consider to what extent and subject to what conditions subpoenas (or in Scotland citations) should be issuable to secure the attendance of witnesses and the production of documents before disciplinary tribunals; and in particular to consider whether subpoenas should be issuable to secure the production before such tribunals of evidence obtained by police officers in the course of criminal investigation; and to make recommendations.I am glad to inform the House that Lord Simonds has agreed to act as chairman of the committee. There will be two other members, one from Scotland—with the agreement of my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Scotland—and one from England, whose names will be announced shortly. I am sure the House will welcome this authoritative inquiry into this complex and important problem.
Pending its report, we must remember that the Second Schedule to the Professions Supplementary to Medicine Bill deals with these matters and that we should not reach conclusions as to its contents till we know what the Committee recommends and what we finally decide.
I have endeavoured to cover the points raised by the right hon. Gentleman and his hon. Friends. I repeat that this case is quite distinct from those raised by the Birkett Report. On the main issue to which this case calls attention and which causes anxiety we have decided to set up an inquiry. Pending the report of that inquiry and the Government's decision on it, I ask the House to have confidence in the Administration and to reject this Motion.
§ 7.28 p.m.
§ Mr. Dingle Foot (Ipswich)
It seems to me that during the larger part of his speech the right hon. Gentleman was really playing with words. He said that this was not a case of telephone tapping. It may not have been tapping in the strict technical sense, but it was a case of telephone interception. The precise method of interception makes no difference. It makes no difference whether 1543 the police tap a line or whether they listen in on the house exchange, or whatever it may be. In fact, the conversation which one of the parties supposes to be a confidential conversation is being overheard. It is precisely with this wider issue of telephone eavesdropping and the consequences of such eavesdropping that the Birkett Committee was concerned.
The right hon. Gentleman announced the terms of reference of a new committee of inquiry to be presided over by Lord Simonds, but he must not imagine that that really disposes of the issues which are raised by this Motion. It does nothing of the kind and I shall seek to show that it does not touch the principal issues with which the House is concerned, or ought to be concerned, in this debate.
There is, I suppose, general agreement with the Birkett Committee that, however distasteful it may be, there must on occasion be justification for the interception of telephone conversations. It is needed for purposes of public security and for the detection of serious crime. What we are concerned about, however, is not so much the power under warrant to intercept and make a record of telephone conversations, but the question of the transcripts or records of those conversations being given in evidence.
There are three questions which require an answer. The first is whether we ought in any circumstances to prohibit the use in evidence of telephone intercepts. To that question the Birkett Committee gave an affrmative reply. The second question is, if there is a prohibition, how wide it should be and to what courts or tribunals it should apply. Thirdly, the question which arises directly out of the incident with which we are now concerned is whether it should be open to one party to the telephone conversation to waive the prohibition without the knowledge of the other party. I should like to consider the second question first, because on the second question the Committee of Privy Councillors was divided.
Lord Birkett and Lord Monckton recommended, in effect, that evidence of telephone intercepted conversations should be given only in courts of law. They said that it should not be available to private bodies and domestic tribunals. 1544 On the other hand, my right hon. Friend the Member for Smethwick (Mr. Gordon Walker) had one or two reservations and recommended, in effect, that evidence of such conversations should not be used by the Crown in any proceedings whatsoever. He did not say whether in his view it should be used by the defence and he did not deal with the case that might arise where evidence is given in civil proceedings to which the Crown is not a party. There was, however, this division of opinion in the Committee of Privy Councillors.
I have known both Lord Birkett and Lord Monckton for many years. I have the highest regard for both of them and for their judgment, but I cannot help feeling that on this issue my right hon. Friend the Member for Smethwick was more nearly right than they were.
I ask the House to consider—this has not been considered yet—the anomalies that are bound to arise if we distinguish in this matter between courts and domestic tribunals. Let me take the form of domestic tribunal with which I am most familiar. Let me take the case where a barrister is convicted of a crime and he is convicted, let it be supposed on what, for convenience, we might call telephone evidence, the evidence of an intercepted conversation. After his conviction the matter is bound to be referred to the benchers of his inn. They have to hold their own investigation. They have to decide whether the man should be disbarred.
Under the ruling as it now stands, however, whereby this evidence is available in a court but is not available to a domestic tribunal, we have the position that the benchers cannot admit in evidence the record of a telephone conversation even though they might be perfectly well aware of it. It might have been fully reported in the newspapers at the barrister's trial, but the benchers are precluded from looking at that evidence.
Let us take another case, that of a doctor who is called before the General Medical Council. The position there is slightly different because, unlike the benchers of an inn, the General Medical Council is precluded, so to speak, from going behind a conviction. It must accept that a conviction or the finding of a divorce court is correct as long as the 1545 conviction or finding takes place in this country. If it has taken place in another country, the General Medical Council must itself go into the evidence and decide whether the conviction was right.
If, however, that happens and the doctor who is brought up is charged with a crime in a court and is acquitted, but the telephone evidence shows quite clearly that he has been guilty of the most serious professional misconduct, again we have a similar position. The General Medical Council, with the doctor before it, will be perfectly familiar with what has passed in the court and yet it will not be able to have regard to that evidence because it is denied it.
One could go on giving example after example of the various professional tribunals showing the anomalies that must arise if we draw this distinction and if we say that this form of evidence, which as a matter of law is perfectly admissible, is to be available in one kind of proceeding and not in another. That is why, speaking for myself, I do not believe that this differentiation can be justified. I think that my right hon. Friend the Member for Smethwick was right in his minority report.
The matter does not, of course, end there. We are not merely concerned, or we may not be concerned in the future, only with trials in courts of law and inquiries by professional tribunals. Those are not the only occasions when people are required to give evidence under oath. There may, for example, be inquiries—we have had two in the last year or eighteen months—under the Tribunals of Inquiry Act, 1921. It might easily have happened in some of the inquiries which have taken place under that Act that evidence of an intercepted telephone conversation might have been tendered.
What would be the position then? Many of us have expressed misgivings from time to time about the procedure under the Tribunals of Inquiry Act. When people come before an inquiry of that kind and are accused of something they do not have the normal rights of accused persons. No charge is framed against them and if there is a finding, although it may be fatal to their whole careers, they have no right of appeal. We should add a good deal to the terrors of this form of procedure if, 1546 as might well happen in an inquiry under the Tribunals of Inquiry Act, this kind of evidence is to be admitted.
Therefore, my submission to the House is that difficult though this question may be—and we all appreciate the difficulties—it is really a question of all or nothing. Either we must make this evidence generally available in any lawful trial or inquiry, or else we must prohibit it altogether.
I appreciate that this is not easy to resolve and that there are great disadvantages whichever course one adopts. I appreciate entirely what the hon. and learned Member for Epsom (Mr. Rawlinson) said when he intervened, but there are, of course, times when one wants to call this form of evidence, particularly when dealing with dangerous criminals and especially with blackmailers. If we impose a general prohibition on this form of evidence in any court or any tribunal or inquiry, undoubtedly certain people will not be convicted who richly deserve what otherwise would happen to them.
§ Mr. Rawlinson
Would the hon. and learned Member accept that there are certain offences which could never be prosecuted, such as the passing of obscene messages over the telephone? There is often an interception and evidence is obtained in that way. Surely, the hon. and learned Member does not suggest that all this evidence must he excluded?
§ Mr. Foot
The recipient of the message is in a position to give evidence.
I have said that I appreciate that there are considerable difficulties whichever course is adopted. My submission is that we cannot escape from this dilemma. There are many anomalies which inevitably will be created if we say that this evidence is to be produced in one place and not in another. Therefore, we have to choose.
It seems to me that we ought to choose complete prohibition. We must have regard to the circumstances in which we live, and what is more important than almost anything else at the present time is to build and strengthen the safeguards which protect the ordinary individual citizen against the misuse of authority. That I believe is even more important than the detection of crime of the kind 1547 which the hon. and learned Gentleman has in mind.
I will come for a moment to the other question raised. It is suggested that we are dealing here with something different from the subject matter of the Birkett inquiry because one of the parties to the telephone conversation agreed with the police that they should listen in. It seems to me that if that doctrine is adopted it also involves us in considerable difficulties, because at what stage is the permission to be given? Is permission to be given simply for the police to listen in to the conversation or is permission to be given at a later stage for the transcript to be given in evidence? If the permission is given, can the permission ever be withdrawn?
I think we can all appreciate other difficulties which might arise if we can waive the prohibition. There are many cases in which the police would want to be able to call evidence of this kind. It would depend upon getting the consent of one of the parties to the conversation.
§ Sir Kenneth Pickthorn (Carlton)
May I ask one question? Would it make a difference to this part of the argument, which I am trying to follow, if the third party were not the police but some other person who had been asked to do it? Would the hon. and learned Gentleman's argument be the same then or different?
§ Mr. Foot
It would be the same because I am dealing here with the principle of interception. Of course in the majority of cases the people who will be concerned will be the police, and it will be very much in the interests of the police desiring to bring a successful prosecution to obtain the consent of one of the parties to an intercepted conversation. We all know the difficulties that arise sometimes over the taking of statements by the police. Those of us who frequent courts know very well how often the question arises as to whether a statement has been a voluntary one or whether it was obtained by some form of pressure. The same kind of consideration must inevitably arise if we say that the prohibition on giving this kind of evidence in the courts or before a tribunal can be waived by one of the parties. There again the question is 1548 bound to arise as to whether the waiver was itself a voluntary one.
§ Mr. Charles Doughty (Surrey, East)
The hon. and learned Gentleman talks about consent to listening in to a conversation—using the neutral expression—and then talks about consent to giving evidence. Once the police have evidence by consent there is no question of giving or withholding it.
§ Mr. Foot
That is one of the matters on which I would like to have an answer. Is it said that there is no objection to the original interception or is it said that there is a waiver in respect of the giving of evidence? Let us suppose that there are two parties to a conversation. One agrees to the police listening in, and it is then proposed to give that conversation in evidence in some subsequent proceedings. Would it be open to the person giving the original permission to withdraw it? If we are saying that there must be a discretion to the individual to give the consent. it must also be open to that individual to withdraw the consent when it comes to using the evidence which has been so obtained
I am not suggesting that we are dealing with an easy question here. It is not a question which admits of any perfect answer, but certainly it is not sufficient to have the kind of enquiry which the right hon. Gentleman has suggested this evening. The Minister is merely concerned with the power of professional tribunals to issue subpoenas. Speaking for myself, I should be reluctant to cut down the powers they possess. After all, the professional tribunals are carrying out very necessary functions, functions which in many cases are imposed on them by statute, and it may be necessary for them to have the power to summon evidence and to call for documents. I think they should, but I submit that the serious issues raised by this Motion are not met by the very narrow type of enquiry which the right hon. Gentleman is now suggesting.
§ 7.45 p.m.
§ Mr. Ian Percival (Southport)
Mr. Deputy-Speaker, it is with great diffidence that I rise to speak on so important and serious a subject, and as I have no reasonable prospect of disguising my nervousness I feel it better 1549 to confess it at the outset and seek the indulgence of the House.
I understand that it is traditional when one first addresses this House, which I am conscious is a great honour as well as a nerve-racking experience, to abstain from controversy and to begin by making reference to one's constituency. It is easy for me to combine the observation of both those traditions, for I have the honour to represent Southport, which is, of course, by common consent the finest coastal and residential resort throughout the length and breadth of the United Kingdom.
Turning to the subject of this debate, I have one point and one point only to make: and I have already suffered the mortification of hearing my one point made already by both right hon. Members in opening the debate. However, and since they have made it as but one part of much wider arguments, I venture to hope that the House may feel that it is a point of sufficient importance to merit further development as a single point in isolation.
In common with all lawyers, I have for many years taken a close interest in the subject of Crown privilege in relation to evidence in proceedings, with especial reference to the relationship between the claiming of Crown privilege on the one hand—which necessarily means that the subject and the tribunal are deprived of material evidence—and the liberty of the subject, on the other hand, which requires that on all matters which fall to be decided by a court or tribunal all material that is admissible as evidence should be before the tribunal.
I rise to speak because I seem to have discerned in discussions about this case, both within the precincts of this Palace and outside, a certain amount of misunderstanding as to that relationship between Crown privilege and the liberty of the subject, and I should like at least to endeavour to make a small contribution towards removing that misunderstanding. I propose, therefore, to direct my remarks particularly to the question of the making available to a court or tribunal of evidence of the nature of that which was, in fact, before the tribunal in the matter which gives rise to this discussion.
Of course, I appreciate fully that the first reaction of many people, and a very 1550 natural and normal reaction, may well have been that the making available of such evidence is an infringement of the liberty of the subject. Indeed, there can be no other ground for complaint about making it available. I hope, however, to be able to demonstrate that that does not at all necessarily follow and that the true position may, indeed, be the reverse.
As I understand the facts—and I say that advisedly, because I accept that I may not have them as completely, or as completely accurately, as other speakers in this debate—the evidence in this case was quite clearly admissible and clearly most material and important. The tribunal, as has already been said—though perhaps I may be permitted to repeat at least this part of the facts in order to develop my own way of putting the point—had power to subpoena the witness to give evidence of what he had heard, and he was obliged to give that evidence unless both of two requirements were fulfilled. The first was that the Crown had the right to claim privilege or otherwise to prevent the witness from giving his oral evidence. The second was that the officer of the Crown delegated to exercise those privileges chose in his discretion to exercise them.
I venture to doubt whether in this particular case, though much more authoritative legal opinions than mine may be expressed about it, the Crown had, in fact, any right to claim privilege, because it would have been difficult to bring the case within the grounds upon which it is permissible for the Crown to claim privilege. If that be right, then the second question, the discretion as to whether that privilege should have been claimed or not, did not arise. if I am right on that proposition of law, then it would, of course, be necessary for the Crown to seek an extension of the right to claim privilege if it were to be able to prevent the giving of such evidence as this in the future.
But it is within my knowledge, and, I am sure, within the knowledge of all hon. Members, that for many years now there has been a cry, from lawyer and layman alike, that the power of the Crown to claim privilege should be reduced and that such powers as are left to the Crown to claim privilege should be used more and more sparingly. 1551 The whole basis upon which that claim has been advanced has been that the exercise by the Crown of its right to claim privilege is a most glaring instance of infringement of the liberties of the subject. And it is a very real infringement of the liberties of the subject, and I am not entirely convinced that the subjects other than lawyer subjects fully appreciate what a grave infringement it is.
If the rule of law is to continue to prevail, it is absolutely essential that justice should be done and be seen to be done. It is a prerequisite of that, and one of the rules of natural justice, that a tribunal called upon to decide between subject and subject or subject and Crown should have before it all the material and evidence relevant to its decision, and, ex hypothesi, every time Crown privilege is claimed the tribunal is deprived of some material which is relevant to its decision and, therefore, hampered in doing justice.
In 1953, great concern was aroused by the case of Ellis and the Home Office, in which case it was said that the plaintiff was denied evidence which might have assisted his case because the Crown had claimed privilege and deprived the Court of that evidence. So strongly did the learned judge who tried the case feel about it that he said this:I must express, as I have expressed during the hearing of the case, my uneasy feeling that justice may not have been done because the material before me was not complete, and something more than an uneasy feeling that, whether justice has been done or not, it will certainly not appear to have been done.On appeal, Lord Justice Jenkins, as he then was, pointed out that, while it must always be reasonable to permit the Crown to claim privilege where the public interest demands it, if public interest is to be the test then it is in the public interest, and the public interest demands, that justice should both be done and be seen to be done.
It would seem that following the case of Ellis and the Home Office some very anxious thought was given to the matter, certainly at all levels in the legal world. As my right hon. Friend has said, on 6th June, 1956, the Lord Chancellor made a statement, which has been referred to, the effect of which was that the classes of evidence in respect of 1552 which privilege could be claimed should be narrowed. Further, he announced immediate changes in the practice to be followed by Departments of State to secure an immediate move towards that end. The late Lord Jowitt, on behalf of the Opposition on that occasion, expressed agreement with those principles and objectives.
In my view, any attempt to extend the scope of Crown privilege for evidence, or to extend the use of the powers which exist, would be a most retrograde step and one which really would tend to prejudice the rights and liberties of the subject. To have taken any other course than was taken in this case would, I submit, have involved taking that step. It appears to me to be paradoxical to suggest that such a step should have been taken, or should on any future occasion be taken, on the alleged ground that it is for the protection of the liberties of the subject when, in fact, its tendency would be to operate in the other direction.
I should like to illustrate my point in a simpler way. It is important that the public at large should follow these matters, and they are not altogether easy to follow as matters of law; but a simple illustration might assist to that end. I apprehend that if the evidence in question had been favourable to the subject, and had the Crown been entitled to claim privilege, and had the Crown claimed privilege, there would have been an immediate and fierce outcry that this was yet another example of the infringement of the liberties of the subject.
I make no bones about it; in my view, such an outcry would have been wholly justified. However, I submit that it is illogical to suggest that because the evidence was unfavourable an outcry in the other direction is justified. The question whether evidence should or should not be made available cannot depend upon whether it is favourable or unfavourable to any party.
I apologise for taking the time of the House with what I appreciate is a rather dry, dusty, lawyer-like approach to one aspect of the problem, but I have done so for two especial reasons. My first reason is that I believe that a proper consideration of this problem necessarily involves consideration of technical legal points, and it is, therefore, necessary—not necessarily desirable—that anybody 1553 who wishes to form and express a view about it should at least have those points present in his mind.
My second reason is that I hope that I may thereby make a small contribution—I hope in a non-controversial way, as has been my endeavour—towards preserving a sense of balance and proportion about this important aspect of the matter so that neither we nor the public may be stampeded by the very special facts of this particular case into advocating something which would be a reversal of what one thought was the universally accepted policy in relation to the scope of Crown privilege.
I sincerely hope that, in doing so, I have not trespassed too greatly upon the indulgence of the House. If, by misfortune, I have, my only excuse must be a sincere concern for the protection of the rights and liberties of the subject, coupled with the firmly held view that there is nothing more likely to be detrimental to the rights and liberties of the subject than an extension of the right to claim Crown privilege or an extension of the use of that right.
§ 8.0 p.m.
§ Mr. Leslie Hale (Oldham, West)
This is the first time in fourteen years that I have had the privilege of congratulating a maiden speaker, due to the fact that I speak myself so rarely. It is a very rare privilege, in a highly controversial debate, to be able to congratulate the hen. Member for Southport (Mr. Percival) upon a very excellent speech and to be able to say that he spoke on a subject of which he obviously had very considerable knowledge and spoke with some authority, and to be able to add that, in general, I found myself in agreement with nearly everything he said. I congratulate him. He spoke briefly and ably. He represents a very delightful constituency. I used to know a girl—but I will not go into that now.
The only thing on which I disagreed with him was when he said that a maiden speech should be non-controversial. My own maiden speech was so controversial with my own party that I have never quite recovered, and although, since then, all of my hon. Friends agree with what I said, they thought at the time that it was presumptive for a young Member to say it. I heartily congratulate the hon. Member.
1554 I think that the right hon. Gentleman was on very firm ground in saying that any extension of Crown privilege is bad. Ninety per cent. of lawyers are saying that there is far too much already. Those who believe in liberty want to see this used as little as possible and those of us who took part in trying to abolish the doctrine that the Crown can do no wrong really thought that we had done something, which, apparently, we failed to do.
I would say that the Home Secretary, taking the advice of the Attorney-General on that matter, cannot be seriously impugned for acting on the advice of his own Attorney-General, whom he was not responsible for appointing. I would have said, speaking in the abstract, that I agree with what my right hon. Friend the Member for Smethwick (Mr. Gordon Walker) said, that, an balance, and on a fine balance, there was rather more argument for not putting it forward. I do not think that anyone would suggest that this is one of the graver issues.
The right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary, who always makes a good defence for himself, impressed me immensely when he made his first explanation of this matter. As I had not then applied my mind to the subject, I thought that he was making an excellent case. He has made today, as he always does, an excellent case, but in the process he dropped one or two quite terrible bricks. The whole story has become worse. If one gets the permission of the person at one end of the telephone that is a rather different situation from tapping the two ends. What is the difference? The difference is a much graver risk of miscarriage of justice because the person at one end may be putting up a case, but if one is tapping a telephone wire with neither party knowing it is being done, there is a reasonable chance of getting a perfectly honest conversation.
The right hon. Gentleman went further and said that the police were investigating on behalf of the coroner. I understood him to say that, but I do not want to misrepresent anything that he said. If I were to deal with coroners, I should probably be outside the scope of this debate. However, I think that the day is rapidly coming when the House has to consider whether coroners serve any useful purpose or whether they are not, generally speaking, a definite burden on 1555 the administration of justice. In many years of active practice I cannot recall any instance in which I think the holding of a formal inquest by a coroner served any useful purpose at all.
It has to be remembered that the right hon. Gentleman has now said that the police investigated on behalf of the coroner, which is not the normal function which the police have in these cases. But I agree that it is normal for two investigations to be proceeding at the same time and for the police to supply what evidence they get. There is no impropriety in that at all. I personally cannot see any impropriety on the part of the police in this matter. They were asked to make investigations. It is an astonishing thing to be told that in the first place the coroner decides that there is a case for investigating a murder or manslaughter when no one has been told a single fact that could possibly justify that suspicion.
Secondly, we were then told that no evidence having been produced in respect of the matter which was being investigated—indeed, further, that such evidence as was available was wholly in favour of the man in the issue being investigated—there comes a suggestion that there has been a breach of profession[...]l etiquette in relation to an act of adultery. I understood the right hon. Gentleman to say that the coroner communicated that information to the General Medical Council. If he did, it seems to me to be shocking conduct and to show personal venom. I do not know whether the coroner in the case was a medical man or a lawyer, but it is a rather appalling story.
The case against the right hon. Gentleman today, which has become worse, is this. I thought that the one thing of which I could accuse him, in the first instance, was that he was a little less than forthcoming on the question that the police initiated the matter. The right hon. Gentleman will recall that that fact came to the cognisance of the House only about three-quarters of the way through the long period of questioning which followed his statement. It was important that we should know it, because the right hon. Gentleman said in the Marrinan debate, "This has always been done by Post Office workers; it has really nothing to do with 1556 the police." I do not suggest for a moment that he was trying to deceive, but I say that we were justified in formulating from that a rather wrong impression of the normal practice. He said that this was not a normal practice. I accept that qualification.
The right hon. Gentleman now comes to the House and says, having given an undertaking to the House that this thing shall stop, "I cannot do it because I have no authority over the provincial police". In the same speech in which he said that he had no power to do it because he had no authority over the provincial police, he says, "I am promising the House that I shall take steps like this in respect of statements taken by the provincial police". The right hon. Gentleman cannot have it both ways. If he is giving an undertaking to the House that in future these documents should normally be destroyed, how can he give that undertaking in respect of documents taken by the provincial police unless he hears that the documents exist and has the power to do it?
The right hon. Gentleman says that that is one of the matters which may be considered by the forthcoming Royal Commission. I do not want to weary the House by covering the whole ground which I would wish to cover. I think that it was the right hon. Gentleman who said—he may not have said it, but I agree with whoever did say it—that on the whole, looking back, it is a pity that we did not have a debate on the Report of the Birkett Committee at the time. There was a very good reason for this. It was a very strong Committee. It consisted of three distinguished men, all of them known for their liberal views, who had been members of three different parties, and it could not have had any better chairman than Lord Justice Birkett, known to be a great libertarian and, I think, a very great man, for a tribunal like this. Some alarming things were elicited in the course of that inquiry and the most interesting is to be found in a paragraph at the end of the Report where we are told that this procedure is rarely used in Scotland. It is astonishing that every time we come to consider Scottish legal procedure we seem to find that under every head it is better than ours.
I do not have the figures in my hand, but I think that in Scotland there were 1557 about three cases in five years, whereas in England in the year I have in mind it was about 223 telephones and about 224 letters. Those figures are probably not cumulative and many of them are no doubt where there were two orders in one case, but it is still a considerable and alarming number.
In listening to the right hon. Gentleman I recalled that, of course, these practices were fairly widespread. That is why at tile first instance I was not prepared to take too censorious a view. When I was a lad I served my term as an office boy with an attorney's firm in which I was employed by the Official Receiver in Bankruptcy. It was normal in a suspected case of reckless expenditure or concealment of moneys, and so on, to have an order and to check a chap's correspondence, to steam it open and to stick it up again and to pass it back to him as quickly as one could so that he did not spot that his mail was being tampered with.
As far as I remember, no prosecution ever resulted. We were a jolly, happy office. So far as I know, no information of any importance ever came out and no prosecution ever followed. It was mostly a case of acting through venom, acting on anonymous information which it was thought should be investigated. That practice still goes on. Was that included in the Secretary of State's orders, or was it separated?
I have known 25 years or more of telephone tapping. I used to court the lady at the local post office at Measham whom I married, and I am very happy that I did. There used not to be anyone on night duty and in the period of my engagement the arrangement was that one switched on the bell at the telephone exchange and if anyone rang during the night someone had to go down and answer. In the early part of my engagement, it was naturally me, but after my marriage, of course, things were different.
If one is dealing with one call in a village which nearly always starts off with, "Was she up when you got home?" as the standard formula from one croney to another and concludes with the question "Shall we be seeing you tomorrow night?" there is nothing to do if the only bit of carpet is in front of the telephone than to stand there in one's bare feet until the conversation is over. I did a lot of telephone tapping in that way.
1558 Some years later I had installed an intercommunicating telephone in my office. It was installed by a private firm which I think was called the Dictagraph Company, although I am not sure of the name and I do not want to slander the firm. The chap who installed it said, "Of course we can arrange a private telephone in any wall so that you can listen to the conversations of your staff". I said that I had never heard anything quite so appalling, but he said that many people did it.
I cannot think of anything more filthy than for a man to have a telephone attachment so that he can listen to the private conversations of his female staff in the place of their employment. The man told me that it was done and that seems to be a case for looking into all these matters with their serious implications.
I listened with great joy to my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Ipswich (Mr. Foot), because this is a very important issue. I disagree profoundly with one of the reservations of my right hon. Friend the Member for Smethwick (Mr. Gordon Walker) when he said that of course telephone tapping must he used for security and for finding out who was a Communist. How the deuce does one know who is a Communist? One of my right hon. Friends always used to think that I was. In point of fact, at one time the definition in the Parliamentary Labour Party was that a Communist was anyone who disagreed with foreign policy. Who would like to say that Mr. Khrushchev was a Communist? Joe Stalin, if he were still alive, would certainly say that he was not, and would probably have him shot for deviationism. Who defines it and who defines the difference between a Communist and a Socialist? Who knows what a Christadelphian is? What is the qualification of the police report on these matters?
The fact is that every system of espionage has always done more harm to the people who have used it than it has done to the people on whom it has been used. All the attempts at security in America did more damage to the United States in its international relations—more damage was done by McCarthy and by Mr. Parnell Thomas and his family staff—than was done to it even by Mr. Foster Dulles.
1559 The activities of the charwoman Mme. Bastian in the waste paper basket of the German Embassy in Paris plunged France into political turmoil for a generation and partly led to the war of 1914. In that war, the early weakening of Austria after the first few days was due to the fact that the head of the Austrian espionage service and the head of the Russian secret service and the chap in charge in Italy had been swapping documents all the time and framing cases against their subordinates to prove their own honesty.
If one plays a dirty game, one imperils the foundations of one's justice and gains nothing by it. In America, this issue was raised in 1927 before the "Nine Old Men", and everyone knows how libertarian were the views of the Nine Old Men in the 1920s. But two of the three greatest American justices, Oliver Wendell Holmes and Brandeis, were among them, and they were among the dissenters about telephone tapping. Oliver Wendell Holmes said some words about it which are worth repeating. He said:We have to choose and for my part I think it a less evil that some criminals should escape than that the Government should play an ignoble part. For those who agree with me no distinction can be made between the Government as prosecutors and the Government as judge. If the existing code does not permit District Attorneys to have a hand in such a dirty business, it does not permit a judge to allow such iniquities to succeed.They said that the Fourth Amendment constitutionally prohibited the use of telephone tapping. They were a minority of four out of nine and later Congress passed a Bill to abolish telephone tapping.
The F.B.I., of course, never takes any notice of anything that Congress passes and everyone knows that telephone tapping still goes on. In fact, the F.B.I. contested the question of whether a member of the F.B.I. was a person within the meaning of the Act, but by a majority of seven to two the court found against the F.B.I. That is the expression of opinion of a great libertarian and that is my expression of opinion today.
I do not believe that these things can be done with honesty. I do not believe that they are needed. We have heard about the single case of a telephone call annoying a girl, but that is not a question 1560 of tapping or of the girl being insulted and giving evidence at one end. What one has to do is to find the bloke at the other end. He is not found by telephone tapping, because he is nearly always speaking from a call box and under an assumed name. Blackmail has been mentioned, but blackmail can be stopped if the victim is given an absolute assurance that he will be completely protected, in which case it will be possible to get him to come forward and give evidence.
The basic principle here lies in the fact that much of this tapping goes on from home telephones and in a block of flats one may be listening to conversations of 15 families and in a home perhaps listening to a conversation of four, five, six or seven people, including six who are innocent of any association with what one is trying to investigate.
The moral foundation of this country is the home and that moral foundation rests on the security of the home. I dislike the expression, "British way of life," but it has some merit notwithstanding. The great value of the British way of life, outside the immediate neighbourhood of Park Lane, is the security, the decency, the integrity of the home. Those are things that are being disturbed by these things.
That is why when we prosecute eavesdroppers and Peeping Toms under a wretched Act of 1361. No one protests, because no one sympathises with such people. Perhaps it would be better if we provided more modern legislation. That is why all of us instinctively feel that it is so wrong that we should carry it to the extent of failing to do our duty and not reporting cases to the police. It is a curious thing that the uninstructed man in his own mind draws the same definition as the experts suggest should be drawn.
There are some cases of such violent crime that the home must be invaded. There are cases of such gravity that the fact that they occur within the sacred four walls cannot protect them. But in the main let us keep the home inviolate and keep that freedom inviolate. This practice means that the foundations of our morality and of personal character are not secure; let us wholly abolish this practice.
§ 8.20 p.m.
§ Mr. John Hobson (Warwick and Leamington)
I am very glad to follow the hon. Member for Oldham, West (Mr. Hale). I differ profoundly from him about whether the question that we are here investigating is the security of the home. Quite different issues are raised by this debate, very important issues for the liberty of the subject, and very important issues on our criminal procedure. I submit that what is in issue here is whether Her Majesty's mails and telephones should be maintained, and beyond that, whether the ordinary rules should not apply.
The real issue is what is meant by "interception." It is listening on any telephone, or is it only secret interference with the lines which are in the possession of and under the control of Her Majesty's Postmaster-General?
Surely the analogy that we ought to consider is that of the Post Office and the mails, because the telephone is a modern device, more immediate and more convenient, for conveying messages from A to B over an intervening space. We are considering today that question as it touches the liberty of the subject.
I stand as firmly as any other hon. Member in this House for the individual liberty of the subject. I remember with mixed feelings that in the last Session I did my best to try to prevent officials of local authorities searching private homes under the Furnished Houses (Rent Control) Bill without a search warrant. I received singularly little assistance from right hon. and hon. Members on the other side of the House.
That is perhaps by the way. We are here considering a means of communication provided by the State, and the security of that means of communication. I stand firmly on the principle of the Committee of Privy Councillors, and for the idea adumbrated by the hon. Member for Oldham, West, that there should not be interference with a means of communication which has been provided by the State. Mails ought not to be opened and telephones ought not to be interfered with for the purposes of the State while they are under the control of the Post Office, and, therefore, under the control of the State.
This case is completely different, and here I differ from the interpretation 1562 which the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Smethwick (Mr. Gordon Walker) put on the word "intercept". As I understand the position, there were two internal extension telephones under the control of the householder. We all know that those of us who are in business, or in a profession, arrange for our clerks or colleagues to use an extension under our control. They frequently do so for the purpose of a triangular conversation. Occasionally it would not be proper or seemly for one's clerk to join in the conversation or, conversely, for one to join in a conversation which one's clerk is holding. That is perfectly proper. Indeed, in the home one's wife and children frequently use the telephone extension.
What difference is there between a person who has the right to use the two extensions allowing any third person, be he a police officer or anybody else, to use an extension, and the recipient of a letter, once it has been delivered by the servant of the Post Office and been opened by him, making that letter available as he pleases to whom he pleases? Anybody who writes a letter knows perfectly well that, although the instruction on the back of it is to burn it, it may not be burnt and may fall into other hands. Anyone who uses the telephone, particularly those in London who get so many crossed lines, knows that other people are likely to listen on the telephone. I imagine that all the residents in the village in which the hon. Member for Oldham, West lived were aware that their private lives were known in the local post office. Nobody assumes that a telephone is secure, least of all when there are so many extensions.
If a writer of a letter can have that letter used in evidence against him at the will of the recipient, on what principle can it be said that the recipient of a telephone call cannot get some third person, both to listen to that telephone conversation and give evidence about it? Indeed, it may lead to the ends of justice that that should be so, because nothing is easier than to deny what is said on the telephone. If two people have heard it the matter can be put beyond doubt, as it was in this case.
We have therefore to consider whether consentual use by the recipient is improper and ought to lead to the 1563 exclusion of what might be most relevant and important evidence in courts of law or before tribunals.
Is it suggested by those who take a contrary view and support the Motion that the warrant should be necessary only for a police constable? What is to happen about a private detective? Is he to be allowed to listen on a private extension in the home or place of business only with the warrant of the Home Secretary? Or is it to be that persons other than chief constables are not to give evidence if they overhear a telephone conversation on an extension under private control?
§ Mr. C. Pannell
I agree with the hon. and learned Gentleman so far. What bothers me is the second point that my hon. Friend the Member for Oldham, West made, whether, granted that this is allowable, the police have a right to use it. We boggle at the idea that such evidence, instigated by the police, should be handed over to a tribunal outside the courts of law. We are particularly bothered because it is proposed to extend that to another seven tribunals. I do not want to make a speech now. I ask the hon. and learned Gentleman to believe that what bothers us is not the case that he has posed—we agree with him on that—but the other point that was put forward by my hon. Friend.
§ Mr. Hobson
The hon. Gentleman's intervention illustrates that everybody wobbles on the two points. They try to fire two barrels and when one misfires they say, "What about the other one?". I know the hon. Member for Leeds, West was trying to confine himself to one barrel, but a great deal of the speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Smethwick was devoted to the point to which I am addressing myself.
We must face the position that the suggestion that the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Smethwick and those who have tabled this Motion have made is that police constables should only be allowed to listen on the end of a private telephone with consent and if they have a warrant. The only result will be that a detective constable in Newcastle or any other place which is far away will get a private detective to do his work because it may be that he will not have time in which to get a warrant.
1564 I cannot see that it leads to the ends of justice or liberty that police constables should have to get warrants to indulge in what every other citizen can do with the consent of the owner of the telephone, and what every other citizen can give evidence about if called upon to do so in a court of law or before a tribunal.
It was suggested, of course, that the possession of search warrants for private premises was the important analogy. I absolutely agree. It is, in fact, the complete analogy. But we all know from experience that the police very frequently—I should think in 90 per cent. of cases —go to the premises and ask the owner, "Can we have a look round?" The owner, if innocent, agrees, and on those premises frequently may be found very incriminating evidence against a third person, who has nothing whatever to do with the premises but has left his goods upon them.
There is nothing improper in that. Why should the police officer, in those circumstances, be allowed to go on the premises only if he has a warrant? It is absurd to say that one should get a warrant to do what the person who has control of the premises or the instrument is perfectly prepared to allow one to do.
The House may be interested to know of the case that followed that of Dr. Rose before the General Medical Council. It was the case of a doctor suspected of stealing the property of patients in the ward of a hospital. He was caught doing so by police officers, who hid on the premises behind a screen and observed him doing so. Is it suggested that they should not have been allowed to go on the premises without a warrant, or that the doctor should have had notice that they were observing him in the ward? In every circumstance, that becomes absurd. The real anxiety in this case, I quite agree, is whether such information, having been obtained, should be handed over to tribunals that are not courts of law, and I should like to say a word or two on that.
I thought that the speech of the hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Ipswich (Mr. Foot) was unanswerable. In substance, it was what I intended to say. These tribunals, and particularly the General Medical Council, are charged with a duty of making inquiries which is 1565 of the greatest importance. The whole integrity, standing and respectability of the medical profession, and the trust of the public in it, depends upon the way in which the General Medical Council is able to carry out its duties.
Without those disciplinary powers, doctors would be doing dreadful things without any penalty at all, but we all know that, fortunately, we in this country are blessed with a great profession upon which the public as a whole can entirely rely, but they can do so because of the fact that there is a strong disciplinary body that can make due inquiry into how doctors are behaving. In making that inquiry, the members of the Disciplinary Committee of the Council are charged with discharging the duty of justice; of holding the scales between the propriety of the profession and the rights and liberties of the individual medical practitioner.
Justice does not consist in finding always for the prosecution or finding always for the defence. It consists in discovering the truth, and one cannot discover the truth except by due process of law—by having the evidence available. To tie the hands of the Council so that only part of the evidence was available might, in some cases, assist the practitioner, but equally—as was said in an excellent maiden speech by my hon. Friend the Member for Southport (Mr. Percival)—it might be extremely injurious to the practitioner and prevent him from properly defending himself.
What is necessary for the members of the Disciplinary Committee to carry out their duties properly is to have the ability and the power to inquire into the matters of complaint, and unless they have the right of subpoena, unless they have the right of compelling witnesses to give what is admissible evidence in a court of law, they cannot do that duty, and they are then thrown back on methods that are far less satisfactory.
Most hon. Members will know that the power of subpoena was given by the Medical Act, 1950, introduced by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. Bevan). It was then given to the General Medical Council for the first time without any opposition. No question was raised on Second Reading, in Committee, on Report or on 1566 Third Reading about the conferment of that power on the Council. The reason why no question was raised was that before that Act was passed the Council had not been able to discharge its duty of discovering the truth.
In those days there were many serious cases, in which witnesses who could have conclusively proved matters of grave complaint against doctors—who should not have remained on the register—failed to turn up, and the whole proceedings then collapsed against the individual doctors. The only result was that the Council then had to resort to reading written statements, not subject to cross-examination. The witness may have put something on paper on which he was not prepared to stand on cross-examination. If he were not forced to attend, the Council could rely only on secondary and much worse evidence.
Other important safeguards, both as regards the General Medical Council and the disciplinary bodies for the professions supplementary to medicine are, first, that they all provide for a legal assessor to preside over or be present at the proceedings. The legal assessor to the General Medical Council not only performs that function. He is the deputy-chairman of county quarter sessions and very experienced in the law. As far as I know, none of his decisions or the advice he has given to the Council has been reversed on appeal. The second safeguard is that there is a right of appeal from the General Medical Council to the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council.
Those two safeguards put the General Medical Council, if not in the position of the High Court, at any rate in the position of quarter sessions and other superior courts. The issues are disentangled under the advice of an experienced lawyer, who also controls the admissibility of evidence and the procedure, and the facts are considered by ordinary, commonsense men. An appeal lies to a tribunal of the highest standing—the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council. There could be no better safeguards than those. Only when tribunals are constituted in that manner, with the safeguards that they are responsible and properly advised and appeals lie to the courts, is it safe to entrust such extensive powers to them. It is in this case right that such a tribunal should 1567 have all the evidence and the ability to obtain it which an ordinary court of law would have. If it does not, less than justice would be done.
§ 8.37 p.m.
§ Mr. Marcus Lipton (Brixton)
What I find deeply disturbing is the Home Secretary's attitude to this whole matter. He is still of the opinion that he has done nothing wrong, that no one else has done anything wrong and that there is nothing to excuse or defend. Hon. Members opposite who have spoken also seem to think that nothing has happened to which exception can be taken and that the present situation is reasonably satisfactory and calls for no special action by the Government or anyone else.
That is profoundly disturbing. I am absolutely convinced that the public instinct is right and that the expressions of opinion by the Home Secretary and his hon. Friends are completely at variance with it. The right hon. Gentleman said that the kind of case which gave rise to the debate is not on all fours with the Marrinan case. Technically, he is right. It is very easy to argue legalistic distinctions between the Marrinan case, which gave rise to the Birkett Committee Report, and to the case of the doctor at Reading.
We were told after the Marrinan case and the Birkett Committee's Report that this kind of thing would never happen again. The Home Secretary repeated the same formula tonight. He said that the kind of case which occurred at Reading was never likely to recur. If that is so, why does he now suggest that another committee should be appointed to go into the further ramifications of the subject and make recommendations which the House will have an opportunity of considering in due course?
If the Home Secretary thinks that he is right, and nothing has happened to which real exception can be taken, it is not necessary to appoint a committee. We will let the General Medical Council and the other disciplinary bodies with statutory powers carry on in exactly the same way. We allow what we might call partial interception to go on as it goes on at the moment, and leave everything alone. I do not think that that will be tolerated by the public, because this is not fundamentally a purely legal 1568 matter. Although he made a very ingenious defence tonight, I think that the Home Secretary knows that, morally, his position is weak and that what happened at Reading is completely in contradiction to the whole spirit of the Birkett Report.
That is our complaint against the Government. The fact that, even now, we have not received any assurance from the Home Secretary that the obnoxious performance at Reading is not likely to recur makes the whole position very unsatisfactory. I am prepared to concede that the Home Secretary acted in what he deemed to be the public interest by not claiming Crown privilege and by taking whatever other action he took. But, in doing so, I think it true to say that he disclosed a simple and easy way of evading the main suggestion or proposal in the Report of the Birkett Committee. The public is genuinely disturbed to learn that this kind of thing is possible, and is going on, and that it represents a state of affairs about which the Government are not really concerned.
There is one further consideration which I wish to put to the Home Secretary and to the Government. At present, there are about 1 million private telephone subscribers who share their telephone line, that is to say, 37 per cent. of all the private telephone subscribers in the country share a line, if we accept the argument of the Government as propounded by the Home Secretary, it means that it is possible for a police officer to go into any one of a million homes and to say, "We should like to listen to a conversation that the other subscriber with whom you share your line is having." Perhaps it is a conversation with a "stool pigeon", or a police informer, who, by arrangement with the police, is holding a conversation with that subscriber. That, surely, is a deplorable state of affairs.
It may be necessary to have this power for purposes of counter-espionage or something like that, but the point I am trying to make is that if we concede the argument advanced by the Home Secretary, it is possible for the police to go into any one of a million homes and, by arrangement with one private telephone subscriber, listen to the conversation of another person with whom the telephone line is shared.
1569 For the sake of argument I am prepared to concede the right of the police to listen to telephone conversations in cases where serious crime is involved, and without going into too many definitions of what the expression "serious crime" may mean. But when the police hand over to other professional bodies like the General Medical Council, the General Dental Council, the Council of the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons, or the Bar Council, records which have been made by whatever method—telephone tapping interception, listening in, or any other arrangement—we are faced with an intolerable situation. In effect, it means that the police are supplying private societies with information about the conduct of suspected members of those organisations, and it is not for that kind of thing that we pay the police.
Because of that, the public generally rejects the kind of attitude displayed by the Home Secretary and by his hon. Friends. I do not think that such an attitude is in accordance with what we might like to call a moral outlook on life. I know that it may be considered ridiculous to introduce moral considerations into a purely legal argument. A number of very interesting legal arguments have been adduced by members of the Bar, with whom I have no quarrel. I am myself a member of the Bar, although I do not earn a living from it. The point I wish to stress is that we are not engaged on a purely legalistic argument. We feel that we are entitled to ask for cast-iron assurances that this kind of thing will not be allowed to continue and that information obtained in this way will not be passed to a professional tribunal which is not a court of law.
The hon. and learned Member for Warwick and Leamington (Mr. Hobson) referred to the procedures followed by the General Medical Council. He omitted to point out that that body is not bound by the same rules of evidence as the High Court is, and, although there may he a legal assessor on that body, the rigid practice of the High Court as to the rules of evidence is not followed to the letter by these private tribunals.
§ Mr. Hobson
There is a rule of evidence which the General Medical Council has to follow, under which it 1570 must obey the ordinary rules of evidence such as are followed in an English criminal trial, unless the G.M.C. has consulted a legal assessor who advises that body that its duty to inquire makes it necessary that it should admit other evidence, on such occasions, for instance, as when dealing with overseas cases when it is necessary to proceed on something which is less than the best evidence. The usual practice of the General Medical Council is to follow the usual rules of evidence as are followed in the English criminal courts.
§ Mr. Rawlinson
The hon. Member for Brixton (Mr. Lipton) may know that that was laid down in a Statutory Instrument which was laid before Parliament only last year.
§ Mr. Lipton
All kinds of things are laid down, but they are not always followed in practice. I am asserting that if I have to be tried anywhere I would rather be tried in a court of law than by any professional tribunal in the land.
I do not want to be led away into another argument, because I promised to speak briefly. We must insist that the police must not be allowed to hand over to any professional tribunal for any other purposes evidence which they have collected in the course of their criminal investigations. If the evidence that they have collected in the course of their criminal investigations leads to a criminal charge being preferred, that is what the police are for and that is why they have collected the evidence; but if that evidence does not justify the institution of criminal proceedings, that should be an end of the matter so far as the existence and use of the evidence collected by the police is concerned.
I hope that the House will register in no uncertain manner its disquiet over what has happened. I do not believe that the proposals that have been put forward by the Home Secretary to appoint another committee to make further recommendations really meets the situation, because even after that committee has reported and after the Government may have said, "We accept the recommendations", it is still possible for another borderline case to arise and for the Government to say, "It is never likely to occur again." We must establish the principle once for all so that there can be no dubiety about it.
1571 It is no use making reports or accepting recommendations or giving assurances. We have to embody what we believe to be right in the form of legislation, so that there can be no argument, doubt or suspicion or a repetition of the kind of case which has given rise to this debate.
§ 8.50 p.m.
§ Mr. Peter Rawlinson (Epsom)
The hon. Member for Brixton (Mr. Lipton) said that he was a member of the Bar, although no longer earning his living at the Bar. I should have thought that he would have been reluctant to try to establish what has already, I think, been exploded beyond all doubt, and that is that there is any real connection between this kind of interception and the telephone tapping of which we generally speak. Therefore, if he sets himself up as the arbiter of the instinct of the nation, if that be its instinct, which I myself do not accept, he should remember that the full and proper facts have not until now been disclosed to enable persons to judge.
I share with, I am sure, every right hon. and hon. Member of the House the general repugnance felt at the thought of listening posts being set up and people being able to intercept conversations through the public telephone system between one person and another. But, of course, I accept, as the Privy Councillors accepted, that it is occasionally essential for the security of the State that there should be interception. The security of the State can be endangered not only by outside enemies or internal political enemies but, of course, by criminals. Therefore, although I admire the sentiments expressed by the right hon. Member for Smethwick (Mr. Gordon Walker) in his reservation to the Birkett Report, I do not believe that they accord with reality. As he said, they would give comfort to some criminals. Modern criminals and modern methods of crime are well organised and highly skilful. I believe that the deterrent effect of knowing that the Secretary of State can issue a warrant and that there can be interception serves a considerable purpose in preventing what may be the organisation of crime on a very serious scale.
As my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Warwick and Leamington 1572 (Mr. Hobson) made quite clear, this matter really turns on the second point, namely, whether information should be given to private tribunals. In 1950, 1956 and in 1958 Parliament dealt with the powers of the General Medical Council. For instance, in 1958, the General Medical Council Disciplinary Committee (Procedure) Rules Order in Council was laid before the House. It was not prayed against. Parliament has decided to give certain tribunals, apart from courts of law, statutory powers because it is thought to be in the public interest that these bodies should have such powers in order to protect the public.
The public is protected, because a profession, whichever it may be, on which people very much depend itself ensures that it sternly looks after the standards of skill and behaviour of its members. When I heard my right hon. Friend say that he intended to set up a further committee, I hoped that that committee will hear evidence and, in its conclusions, will reject any suggestion for the removal of the subpoena power from the professional bodies, not only the General Medical Council, but the Law Society, the disciplinary bodies of the dentists, the opticians, the midwives, the veterinary surgeons, and the architects. We have given them that power. It has not just come into being. It has been given to them by the House of Commons. Discipline in those bodies is in the public interest, for they are specialists, and on their skill and integrity many depend.
§ Sir Godfrey Nicholson (Farnham)
Where does my hon. and learned Friend draw the line? Does he envisage every professional body having a private court? Is it not conceivable that the House may have made a mistake?
§ Mr. Rawlinson
Of course, as my hon. Friend knows, this House is always capable of making a mistake. If he asks me about drawing a line, I say that any profession on the members of which the public depends for skill and integrity as affecting the personal lives or livelihoods of people should be given power so to control its members, that a member's name can be erased from the register if his conduct demands it, if his skill is not what it should be, or if he suffers from the habitual taking of drink or drugs so that other people's health or 1573 lives are in jeopardy as a result of his bad professional attention or lack of skill.
With regard to the General Medical Council, I think that it is important to realise that during the last sixty years or so there have been only 290 erasures, only one quarter of which were due to improper or indecent conduct, such as adultery. The remainder were due to members of the profession procuring or attempting to procure miscarriages, offences of fraud and forgery, canvassing and offences relating to drink and drugs. It is undoubtedly to the benefit of the public that the profession should be able to remove persons not able to give the medical attention that they ought to give. My hon. and learned Friend referred to the matter of appeal to the Judicial Committee. Since 1950, there have been only three such appeals and none has been successful.
With regard to the case from which this debate arises, some of the evidence which was elicited, both at the inquest and at the disciplinary inquiry, has not been correctly represented by some hon. Members. In fact, there was, as some hon. Members may know, a letter from the deputy coroner so that inquiries were made about the prescription given by the doctor to the deceased person, statements of the doctor to the police, and letters which were left to the coroner but which were excluded from the consideration of the Committee as not being in accordance with the very strict rules of evidence, were excluded. That was in favour of and to protect the practitioner against the complainant.
With regard to Crown privilege which arose when the matter came before the Home Secretary, I agree completely with What my hon. Friend the Member for Southport (Mr. Percival) said in his excellent maiden speech. Crown privilege may be a technical subject, but it is of vital importance to all of us, whether we be lawyer or layman. Here was legally admissible evidence corroborating that of a member of the public making a grave complaint against a practitioner. In my view, if the Home Secretary had ruled so as to prevent that evidence being handed over because of Crown privilege, that would have been a gross extension of Crown privilege, which is the very last thing that anyone wishes to see.
1574 Having regard to the terms of the Motion, I must say that although I much admire the sentiments of the right hon. Member for Smethwick it is totally misconceived and certainly should be rejected by the House.
§ 8.58 p.m.
§ Mr. J. Grimond (Orkney and Shetland)
I follow the hon. and learned Members for Epsom (Mr. Rawlinson) and Warwick and Leamington (Mr. Hobson) and the hon. Member for Brixton (Mr. Lipton) in their condemnation of what is commonly known as telephone tapping. I was glad to hear the hon. Member for Oldham, West (Mr. Hale) go rather further than most hon. Members have in the debate, and even further than the minority Report of the findings of the Committee of Privy Councillors. The least I could do is to go as far as the minority Report. The hon. Member was right to draw attention to the views of very eminent American judges. He referred, I think, to two of them. Mr. Justice Frankfurter is also on record as being wholly opposed to telephone tapping. These are not men lacking in experience and well versed in the British traditions of law. However, I do not think that this rather wide subject is the main matter under debate.
I share the view that there is a distinction between what happened in this case and what happened in the Marrinan case. There is some distinction between telephone tapping as it was in the Marrinan case and as it is in this case, but as the debate continued I have become a little confused as to exactly what it is. The hon. Member for Oldham, West made a fair case for saying that it is worse if the victim, so to speak, who is to ask certain specified questions in the hope of getting certain answers, is put on one end of the telephone. The hon. and learned Member for Warwick and Leamington drew attention to the well-known fact that nothing on a telephone is entirely private, and that those who use the telephone must possibly expect crossed wires or people to be listening in. This argument, however, affects telephone tapping, strictly so-called, just as much as it affects a person who is listening on an extension. I am still puzzled about exactly where the distinction lies, although I still feel that there is a distinction. When the Home Secretary was speaking, 1575 I thought that it might lie in the fact that it was admissible for a person being blackmailed or for a girl against whom obscene language was used to ask the police to listen to what was happening. As opposed to this, when the Home Secretary mentioned the case of the man behind the arras as a parallel case, one recalled that the most celebrated man behind the arras— Polonius—came to a sticky end and that when that happens the whole of the audience approves.
On the whole, the difficulty about making the distinction, the fact that even if it is a victim of a possible crime who invites the police to listen in, seems to me to confuse the question —and I am opposed to interception in both forms. Whether there is a distinction or not, the main topic of the debate has turned on what use it is proper to make of the information so obtained.
These are two points that I should like to make. First, the Home Secretary, on 3rd December, and hon. Members, today, have said that it is highly undesirable to extend the system of Crown privilege. I agree. On 3rd December, the Home Secretary said that it was undesirable in the name of liberty, and this, of course, is the fundamental reason for not extending Crown privilege. Liberty, however, is not a disembodied spirit which is detached from live people. In this case, one has to consider whose liberty is at stake. So far, this does not seem to have been done. The only person whose liberty was directly at issue in the present case appears to have been the doctor. It was his liberty that was threatened. It is a well-known feature of law that often when it is a question of the defence as against the prosecution the scales are weighted rather in favour of the defence. This point has not been given sufficient attention.
The second question is whether it is proper to give evidence to semi-judicial or quasi-judicial bodies. The hon. and learned Member for Ipswich (Mr. Foot) made a convincing case for saying that, if we allow the evidence to be given in courts of law, it is difficult to draw the line and say that it should not be given to quasi-judicial bodies. But it is one thing to collect evidence of a possible crime and, if the man is convicted of 1576 that crime, to pass on the evidence to the quasi-judicial body. It is quite another thing to say that if, in the course of collecting evidence of a possible crime, one comes across evidence about other improprieties, surely they should be sent to the body in question. Surely it is possible to draw a distinction and say that this latter evidence should not be passed on.
I feel quite certain, however, that if it is agreed that there are circumstances in which telephone tapping in the strict sense, or telephone listening in the sense in which we are discussing it today, is justified, if these bodies have the right to subpoena witnesses it cannot be said that they must not subpoena the witnesses who have collected the evidence in this way. It must be either all or none. I am glad to think that there are comparatively few bodies which have this power and that they are closely circumscribed. I am indebted to the hon. and learned Member for Epsom (Mr. Rawlinson) for saying that there are only seven such bodies, but I share very much the doubts of the hon. Member for Farnham (Sir G. Nicholson). The hon. and learned Member for Epsom went very far when he appeared to contemplate a considerable extension of this principle, because there are a great many bodies who are concerned with the sort of things that the hon. and learned Member mentioned.
§ Mr. Rawlinson
I mentioned only those who already have these powers. I appreciate that it is suggested that other bodies may shortly have these powers and that there may be a good case for having only one disciplinary body to control all these.
§ Mr. Grimond
If there were only one body to deal with all the professions covered by the new Bill, that would be a little more reassuring.
What this debate has to resolve is this. I am certain that, after the Report of the Committee of Privy Councillors and the Government's response to it, the impression of those who have followed the matter has been twofold: first, that there was to be no telephone interception without a warrant; and, secondly, that the results so obtained were not to be handed over to quasi-judicial bodies.
As it has turned out, we were mistaken. The Home Secretary has assured us that 1577 it is possible for the provincial police, at any rate, to carry on interception and that he cannot stop it; and, furthermore, that it is possible for these quasi-judicial bodies to subpoena witnesses and for reasons which he has explained, that the Home Secretary would, at any rate, often be in a position in which he would not exercise Crown privilege. The public may be wrong about this, but I am quite certain that this is not how they understood the matter had been left after the report of the Privy Councillors. The present position should be cleared up.
I reiterate that this interception, to use a neutral word, of letters and telephone conversations is odious and that it is not and never has been a justification in this country of odious practices that they were necessary or convenient for the detection of crime. We have very stringent rules about the interrogation of people by the police, and we long ago gave up torture, which may be a very good way of extracting information about crime.
The hon. and learned Member for Warwick and Leamington also told us, I think with some conviction, that we could not distinguish between what a policeman does on a telephone and what an ordinary person may do, if an ordinary person should be on an extension and able to overhear a conversation. Surely, however, there is a distinction, and this distinction between the police and other citizens is constantly emphasised.
I feel that we have got a certain way by the promise of the Home Secretary to set up an inquiry into the question whether quasi-judicial bodies of various sorts should have the right to subpoena. I should like him to go further. I should like him to assure us that in the inquiry, which was announced earlier, about the police, the question of their powers and their position in relation to the Home Secretary's warrant will be examined.
Further, I think that the second inquiry, to deal with subpoena, might well have its terms of reference widened. I think that it might be asked to consider, also, some of the questions which were referred to the Privy Councillors—the question of making evidence available at all to outside bodies, and on what conditions it should be made available, the question of Crown privilege in relation to this whole matter, which is a 1578 matter which the Home Secretary, also on 3rd December, said he would examine, and also the use of warrants and who should grant them.
It has been suggested—I do not know whether or not it is a feasible suggestion—that so much power should not be left in the hands of the Home Secretary and that some of these powers might be exercised, say, by a judge. I dare say it would be inconvenient, but, as I said, in the detection of crime in this country we do not always accept that the most convenient thing must be done.
I think it reasonable to ask that these inquiries should be widened in the ways I have suggested, and I certainly think that before we leave this subject the public at large should be very much more clearly informed on what the position exactly now is, because while I do not believe that people appreciate the limitation on the Home Secretary's powers to control the police or to control this whole process of tapping, I do believe that there is a very widespread feeling in this country against the whole practice of telephone interception.
§ 9.9 p.m.
§ Mr. W. F. Deedes (Ashford)
I am rather surprised that there has not been a wider welcome on either side of the House to the proposal put forward by the Home Secretary that he was to inquire into the matter which has aroused the feelings of most hon. Members who have spoken and about which they have shown themselves to be particularly perplexed and anxious. I, at any rate, welcome the prospect of this inquiry. It may not be welcomed outside this House. I think that it is quite possible that amongst a strong body of feeling which is entitled to respect it may not be, and I think it is important to consider why this may be so and to say a word about it.
In effect, I think that an inquiry is needed to supplement the Report of the Privy Councillors last October. Some of the general principles now concerning us were admirably dealt with in that Report, but it is incomplete. The principal conclusion in paragraph 101 reads:We therefore conclude by recommending that there should be no disclosure of information obtained on public grounds by the exercise of this great power, to private individuals or private bodies or domestic tribunals of any kind whatsoever.1579 It never seemed to me that the matter could be allowed to rest there, because while it is true that the issue of a warrant to intercept communications is an exercise of very great power it is not the only exercise of great power and of unpleasant power which must be used in this country for the prevention and detection of serious crime and the preservation of the security of the State.
The most difficult thing we have to argue is not whether the interception of communications is a legitimate method in combating crime and in pursuing the criminal, but how far many of these strong powers, many of which have not been touched upon, may be used outside the courts not for dealing with crime, but for regulating the conduct of professional bodies. I have never thought it logical to isolate the interception of communications and put it in a class apart. Such methods really involve no separate principle. But the use of police methods and the use of police evidence for purposes other than the original purpose for which these great powers are granted seems to me to involve a very great grinciple indeed.
It is not only illogical to isolate the interception of communications, but it places the Home Secretary in very great difficulty. The Report of the Privy Councillors, left him to invoke Crown privilege, and in this case the Home Secretary has incurred censure for doing so. The case has not been mentioned, but I recall a decade ago the case involving farmer Odlum, where the Minister concerned incurred severe censure, many thought rightly, for invoking Crown privilege. Moreover, it has been lately shown that Parliament, and not the Home Secretary, has been guilty of a little inconsistency in this matter.
We have all accepted paragraph 101 of the Privy Councillors' Report, but we are at present passing a Measure granting powers to other professional bodies which will make the occasion of the Home Secretary having to invoke Crown privilege more frequent. This Crown privilege should be used most sparingly, as has been said in a most persuasive speech from my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary. There is, however, very strong feeling among professional bodies on this point and that will become 1580 apparent when the inquiry which has been promised tonight gets to work. It is well to recognise this and seek to understand it.
I find disturbing the conviction of people of high standing, professional bodies and men, that occasions will arise when, for the proper administration of justice—and that is how they see it—it will be necessary and legitimate to have access to evidence obtained for the prevention of detection of serious crime. There is a gulf here between what Parliament may want and professional bodies may want, and it is a matter on which convictions are held with absolute sincerity.
My own feeling is that evidence obtained by police for criminal proceedings ought not to be used—one cannot say never must be used—for the judgment of morals and professional conduct outside the courts of justice. Not merely interception, but many other methods, have often to be employed within the law which are extremely powerful and extremely unpleasant.
Let me give an example, from a recent occurrence, of what I mean. The Privy Councillors' Report indicated that the powers of interception of the Customs and Excise were altogether exceptional. That is not altogether true. Earlier this year the wife of a constituent, a highly distinguished professional man, posted a letter to her son in France. She was satisfied by the bank that extra money could be sent. She sent £1, but, wrongly, omitted to get special permission. That letter was opened in the course of business by the Customs and Excise at the Post Office. The letter and the £1 were returned to the sender, and in a later explanation it was observed:The letter packet… was, in strictness, legally liable to forfeiture, but under an administrative concession, it was decided to allow it to be restored to you with the explanation of the correct procedure to be followed when remitting money abroad.This, both the chairman of the board and the Postmaster-General, indicated to me that they are authorised to do by the Foreign Postal Packets (Customs) Warrant, 1948. What is interesting in this context is what prompted the opening of the letter, because I have reason to believe that my constituent is not a notorious smuggler, nor would he be suspect of serious offences against cur- 1581 rency regulations, which, the Report led us to believe, were the circumstances in which these powers are used.
I mention this only to indicate that probably a great deal more of this kind of thing goes on within the law than most of us suspect. These powers are strictly measured, as they should be, against the absolute needs of law and order. That is their yardstick and, as I see it, that is their justification. Without that justification such powers should not exist. Parliament would never have granted such powers and that is a balance which society contrived for itself. But it is not a balance which ought to be used to tip the scales elsewhere, and that is what I most earnestly feel about this extrajudicial procedure.
It is wholly natural that bodies of highly reputable professional men should consider it essential that they should be assisted in the protection of their profession and the protection of the public and indeed, as was said earlier, the protection even of the defendant. I concede to my hon. and learned Friends that it may even be in the interests of the defendant that full evidence should be brought forward. It is that which makes it seem so compelling that all the evidence should be made available, and that to withhold it, as my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Warwick and Leamington (Mr. Hobson) suggested, would be to defeat the discovery of truth.
It is so compelling that it is hard to resist, yet I confess that I resist it. I think that we should resist it, because the judgment of crime and the judgment of sin, even professional sin, is not quite the same thing. That is what makes law-making in this place so difficult. It may seem absurd to some hon. Members that a doctor drunk in charge has committed a crime, but that a doctor who has committed adultery with a patient has not done so. Of course, some offences, such as abortion, are covered by both, but where there is not a crime the machinery of the State —the powerful and terrible machine—should not be applied. There is always a risk that we shall come to the point when someone will say that the police cannot secure a conviction, but that, on their evidence, we can root someone out of his profession. I cannot accept that.
1582 The problem of separating crime and sin is one of the oldest we are confronted with. It bedevilled our discussion of the Wolfenden Report. It was brilliantly discussed this year by Sir Patrick Devlin, in his Maccabean Lecture in Jurisprudence, entitled "The Enforcement of Morals". The point he made was that there is no firm principle to guide us in the line between crime and sin. It is because there is no firm principle, but only instinct to guide us, that we should proceed so carefully. That is why I welcome the inquiry.
Somebody may ask: where should the line be drawn? I would reply that it is extremely difficult to find the line and that we shall need an inquiry to find it. The attempt must be made to find a line on what public bodies outside the courts should have access to and which public bodies should have such access given to them. If we are to inquire into that, as we have heard tonight, a distinct step forward will be made.
§ 9.20 p.m.
§ Mr. Eric Fletcher (Islington, East)
I think the whole House would agree that we have had a very fruitful and instructive debate, as we generally do in this House when high matters touching the liberty of the subject are involved.
I think that, if for no other reason, the Motion of censure tabled by my right hon. and hon. Friends has justified itself by the announcement which the Home Secretary made towards the end of his speech, and which I welcome in common with the hon. Member for Ashford (Mr. Deedes) and others. As a result of this debate an inquiry is to be held under the distinguished chairmanship of Lord Simonds into the whole of the circumstances in which communications of this kind can be disclosed to professional or other domestic tribunals. But that does not in any way dispose of the Motion of censure. We must still press it home to a Division because, although the Home Secretary has made an attempt to make amends and put matters right for the future, it is based on the right hon. Gentleman's conduct in the past.
I observe that this is not the first time this Session—it is, indeed, the second time within a month—that as a result of a Motion of censure which we have had to table on the conduct of the Home Secretary the right hon. Gentleman has 1583 been driven to the appointment of either a Royal Commission or a Committee of Inquiry to investigate matters which have caused very considerable public disturbance. It was less than a month ago, in a debate in this House on the case of Garrett and Eastman, that we had to attack the action of the Home Secretary. As a result of that debate, we obtained the promise of an inquiry and the Prime Minister this afternoon announced that a Royal Commission will be appointed.
Therefore, while we welcome the announcement that the matters which have so greatly disturbed public opinion are to be investigated, I must invite the House to return to the basis of the Motion of censure. The hon. Member for Orkney and Shetland (Mr. Grimond) a few moments ago expressed the matter very succinctly when he said that everybody assumed that as a result of the Birkett Report there would be, first, no telephone interception by the police without warrant, and, secondly, no disclosure of the results of any such interception to any private body or domestic tribunal.
The Home Secretary has attempted in his defence this afternoon to argue, first, that the case of Dr. Fox is not on all fours with the Marrinan case which the Birkett Committee was investigating and, secondly, that he was justified in withholding the claim to Crown privilege and, therefore, in disclosing the documents to the General Medical Council.
I wish to say a word or two about both those aspects of the Motion. I admit, of course—it must be evident—that the precise facts of this case are not on all fours with those of the Marrinan case which was the precise subject of inquiry by the Birkett Committee, but nobody reading the Report of the Birkett Committee can doubt that the Committee was dealing with the whole category of cases of telephone interception by the police. As my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Ipswich (Mr. Foot) has pointed out, we are concerned here with the liberty of the subject, and the person aggrieved is just as much aggrieved if interception takes place with the consent of one party to the investigation as if it takes place in the ignorance of both parties. In other words, from the point of view of public disquiet, eavesdropping of this kind is just as odious and repug- 1584 nant to public opinion as the kind of interception that took place in the Marrinan case.
The Times, in its leading article on 7th December, expressed very well the public feeling on this subject, and it was typical of other organs of the Press. The Times—I do not think its language was too strong—said:Eavesdropping is distasteful and more is needed than emerged on Wednesday to satisfy people that this commonplace device of police states will be used in our free society only for compelling reasons affecting the course of justice at its gravest and, then, with the prior consent of high authority.The Birkett Committee, in commenting on the Marrinan case, said in paragraph 92:It has been the settled policy of the Home Office that, save in the most exceptional cases, information obtained by the interception of communications should be used only for the purposes of detection, and not as evidence in a Court or in any other Inquiry.We all concede that the police must have these wide powers for certain limited purposes, namely, for the security of the realm, for dealing with espionage and for the protection and prevention of crime, but the House is insistent that these powers shall be carefully regulated and subject to proper safeguards in the interest of the liberty of the subject. That is why we all thought they would be used only on the Home Secretary's written warrant.
I appreciate that we cannot criticise the Home Secretary in this case for having issued his warrant because he was not asked for his warrant. I think, however, that we should like to know whether, had he been asked for his warrant, he would have issued one. It is also pertinent to point out that the Home Secretary said that as a result of his inquiries, leaving aside the kind of telephone tapping that occurred in the Marrinan case, he was satisfied that there had been no widespread use of listening in. If that is the case, administratively it would not be very difficult to seek a warrant from the Home Secretary in the rare cases in which the police have to resort to this device.
On the second aspect of this motion of censure, which in some ways is the more serious aspect, the Home Secretary was less than frank with the House. We were all under the impression that the Birkett Committee had emphatically 1585 recommended that there should be no disclosure of information obtained on public grounds by the exercise of telephone interception to any private individual, private body, or domestic tribunal of any kind.
As my right hon. Friend said in opening the debate, it is unfortunate that we did not have a debate in the House on the recommendations of the Birkett Committee, because had there been such an opportunity we should have been able to resolve a good many of the new questions which have been thrown up by this case before the General Medical Council and which have been ventilated this afternoon.
I must remind the House that, although it did not debate the recommendations of the Birkett Committee, the Prime Minister on 31st October, 1957, in answer to a Question, said:The Government accept all the Committee's recommendations and arrangements are being made to give effect to those of them which call for a change in procedure."—[OFFICIAL REPORT. 31st October, 1957; Vol. 575, c. 398.]I hope we shall hear precisely what steps were taken by the Prime Minister and what instructions were given either by him or by the Home Secretary as a result of that undertaking given in the House.
It seems to me that if proper instructions had been given in accordance with the Prime Minister's promise and assurance to the House this disclosure by the Home Secretary would not have taken place. The Home Secretary says that this has nothing to do with it, but the disclosure was a disclosure by the Home Secretary because of the Home Secretary's personal failure on two grounds. First, he failed to ensure destruction of the record. He says that he had never heard about it. Then the Home Secretary is blaming the Prime Minister because the Prime Minister promised the House that he would ensure that effect was given to the recommendations of the Birkett Committee. One of the statements made by the Birkett Committee was that information so obtained goes only to the police and until the recent case affecting Marrinan it had never been disclosed to any outside person and had always been destroyed. Therefore, I ask why the record was not destroyed in this case.
Secondly, the Home Secretary must face up to his failure to rely on Crown 1586 privilege. We listened to a very interesting maiden speech by the hon. Member for Southport (Mr. Percival), on which I congratulate him, although I do not agree with what he said. As I understood it, he went so far as to say that there should be a much greater inroad into claims for Crown privilege than there was at the moment.
It is our indictment of the Home Secretary that he failed to use the one and only method by which he could have avoided disclosing this record of an intercepted telephone conversation, namely, by relying on Crown privilege. He told us on 3rd December that he did not take that responsibility himself but consulted the Law Officers of the Crown. We know quite well from other contexts the Home Secretary's opinion of some of his colleagues, but he cannot shuffle out of his responsibilities in that way, and I will explain why.
The Home Secretary gave the game away when in column 1383 of the OFFICIAL REPORT of 3rd December he tried to defend himself by saying that this particular case was not covered by the dictum of the Lord Chancellor about claiming privilege in 1955—that should be 1956. According to HANSARD, it is 1955, but in actual fact it is 1956; the actual date was 6th June, 1956. The Home Secretary referred both to the previous dictum of Lord Simon and the subsequent dictum of the present Lord Chancellor. His whole defence was that, because of those dicta, he did not feel justified in claiming Crown privilege.
I invite the House to realise that those statements by Lord Simon and the present Lord Chancellor in June, 1956, are not the last word on the subject of Crown privilege. Both those statements were made before the Birkett Committee reported and before the Marrinan case arose and before this case arose. In other words, what the Lord Chancellor was considering in 1956 and considering as the result of a great deal of pressure from my hon. and right hon. Friends against it was any extension of Crown privilege, particularly in cases affecting disputes between a private litigant and the Crown. Nothing that was said on those occasions had any relation to the claim for Crown privilege before a domestic tribunal.
§ Mr. Fletcher
The right hon. Gentleman shakes his head, but let us take a case in which it is conceded that the circumstances of the Birkett Committee's Report apply and disclosure to a private tribunal was to be stopped; how else could it be stopped except by relying on a claim for Crown privilege?
Our criticism of the Home Secretary is that, by neglecting to rely on a claim for Crown privilege, be failed to take the only step that was open to him to implement the promise given by the Prime Minister in the House. We feel that the Home Secretary has defaulted not only in his obligation to this House in allowing documents taken for the purpose of trying to detect crime in circumstances in which it was then found that no crime had been committed, but in allowing those documents to be used before a purely private professional tribunal not concerned with the administration of justice but concerned with a domestic offence, an offence of professional misconduct. By his action the Home Secretary has violated the assurance that was given to this House by the Prime Minister.
§ The Attorney-General (Sir Reginald Manningham-Buller)
I agree with the hon. Member for Islington, East (Mr. Fletcher) that this has been a very interesting debate, but it is even more unlike a debate on a Motion of censure than the last debate on a Motion of censure moved by right hon. and hon. Gentlemen opposite. Indeed, the hon. Gentleman had to work very strenuously to bring any censure into his speech at all. The right hon. Member for Smethwick (Mr. Gordon Walker) and the hon. Member for Brixton (Mr. Lipton) attempted to censure my right hon. Friend, but the note of censure was absent from the vast majority of speeches by hon. Members opposite whose speeches were serious and interesting, and moved far outside the narrow range of the terms of the Motion.
Having listened to this debate which has been a serious one on matters of great interest, it seems to me that there are four main questions with which the House would like me to deal. May I summarise them in this way? First, there is the question whether the police were entitled to listen in to the conversation between this lady and the doctor who was subsequently charged before 1588 the Disciplinary Committee of the General Medical Council. Secondly, there is the question raised by the terms of the Motion, whether in this case my right hon. Friend was under a duty to prevent the police from listening in and whether he failed to discharge that duty Thirdly, there is the question whether the evidence obtained by the police should have been made available for production before the Disciplinary Committee and whether my right hon. Friend could and should have prevented that happening. Finally, there is the question whether any party to proceedings before the Disciplinary Committee should have the right to sue out subpoenas to secure the production of such evidence, which was evidence obtained by the police not for the purpose of any proceedings before the Disciplinary Committee but in the course of the discharge of their duties as police officers.
I hope that in those questions I have correctly summarised the issues that have emerged in the course of the debate and the points which are of particular interest to hon. Members who have spoken from both sides of the House. In endeavouring to answer and deal with them, I should like to start with this. We must remember that in 1950 the Disciplinary Committee was charged by Parliament with the duty discharged since 1858 by the General Medical Council of determining whether a registered medical practitioner has been guilty of infamous conduct in any professional respect. This duty which rests on the Disciplinary Committee is an onerous one.
I want to emphasise what has already been said in this debate, that in discharging its duty that Committee acts not just in the interests of the medical profession but in the interests of and for the protection of the public. Just as it is important in the public interest that fraudulent and dishonest lawyers should not be allowed to carry on their profession, so it is important for the protection of the public that doctors guilty of infamous conduct should not be permitted to carry on their careers.
I have thought it necessary to emphasise the public interest in this at the outset of my speech because, if that is accepted, I think that a great many things follow from it. It was as recently 1589 as 1950 that this House decided that any party before the Disciplinary Committee of the General Medical Council should have the right to sue out a subpoena to secure the attendance of a witness or to secure the production of documents. Parliament, in 1950, must have thought that it was essential, in order to secure fair play and justice and a correct determination by the Committee, that parties before it should have that power of securing the attendance of witnesses and of securing the production of documents. The point has been well made by my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Warwick and Leamington (Mr. Hobson) in the course of a most interesting and, if I may say so, excellent address.
I should have thought that in the case of a body of that sort, which, although it is not trying a man for his life may be trying him for his professional life, Parliament was right in 1950 in thinking that, whatever may be the position of other disciplinary bodies, the parties appearing before that body, whether it be to prosecute, if I may use that word or to defend, should have the right of securing the evidence they want by taking out a High Court subpoena, and that, if they had not that right, injustice might result.
I do not know whether the view of Parliament has changed today with regard to the suing out of subpoenas by that particular body, but I think it is clear from its terms of reference that the question of the right to sue out subpoenas to secure attendance before the Disciplinary Committee, and before any other disciplinary body, will fall for review—and I think it desirable that it should fall for review—by the committee under the chairmanship of Lord Simonds. It may well be the case that while the right to compel attendance before one tribunal is desirable, there is no real need to give that power to compel attendance before another.
The next question is this. The right to sue out a subpoena having been lawfully exercised by what I may call the prosecution in this case—it might have been by the defence—should the police have refused to comply with that subpoena? Could my right hon. Friend have rightly prevented them from doing so? If he could have done that, should he have done so?
1590 Here, I would emphasise that, unlike the Marrinan case, there was no question of handing over voluntarily to an outside body reports of telephone conversations obtained as a result of telephone interception under the warrant of the Secretary of State. This was a case very different from the Marrinan case, and a great many of those who have spoken in this debate have recognised that. There, authority had been given by the Executive to intercept the telephone conversations of a particular individual, and the records of the conversations that Marrinan had with that individual were voluntarily handed to an outside body, and used in evidence against Marrinan. There is all the difference in the world between the interception of all telephone calls of a subscriber at the instance of the Executive and the lifting of a receiver, with the consent of a telephone subscriber, by a policeman in an independent police force not under the control of the Home Secretary.
§ Mr. Gordon Walker rose—
§ The Attorney-General
I would prefer not to give way now. I emphasised that in the Marrinan case there was no question whatsoever of refusing to comply with a subpoena issued out of the High Court. That was the question my right hon. Friend and the police had to consider. It was not just a question whether it should be handed over voluntarily. The answer to that might have been easy. The question was, "Can we refuse? Are there valid grounds for refusing to comply with a subpoena issued out of the High Court?"
I wish to consider that with the House for a moment or two. Under the law, the police are entitled where there is a public prosecution to refuse to disclose the name of an informer on grounds of public policy, unless the judge is of the opinion that disclosure of the name of the informer is necessary or right in order to show the accused's innocence. That was decided in 1890 in the case of Marks v. Beyfus, but that case does not apply here. There was no question here of disclosing the name of an informer. All that was asked for by the subpoena was the production of the shorthand notes for a telephone conversation, about which two other people could testify.
1591 As has been said and freely recognised, in some cases a Minister can assert a claim of Crown privilege. We had a very remarkable and interesting maiden speech by my hon. Friend the Member for Southport (Mr. Percival) on that point. I listened to my hon. Friend with the greatest interest. I thought for a moment that he was verging on controversiality when he claimed that Southport was the most attractive watering place on the coast of Great Britain.
The effect of putting forward a claim of Crown privilege is to exclude the evidence, no matter which side it tells for, and the result of such exclusion is that perfect justice may not be done. But a Minister is not entitled to claim Crown privilege—he has no right to give instructions to the police to disobey a High Court subpoena—just because he likes to. I emphasise that it was a High Court subpoena in this case. A Minister is not entitled to say that it should be disobeyed just because obedience might be awkward or embarrassing. Apart from Crown privilege, Ministers have no right any more than members of the public, to interfere with the exercise of jurisdiction by the courts, and the issuing out of a subpoena by the High Court is an exercise of the court's jurisdiction.
§ Mr. Gordon Walker
This is very important. If a party in such a case as this came across a real full tap in the sense of the Marrinan case and subpoenaed that, could Crown privilege be then used or would the Prime Minister's assurance to us be ignored?
§ The Attorney-General
If the right hon. Gentleman had waited for a few moments he would have seen that, without his interruption, I was going to deal fully with that point.
It has been laid down—not by a committee, but by the courts, as the hon. Member for Islington, East knows—that it is not right to claim Crown privilege except in cases where the public interest would otherwise be damnified. That is laid down in a reported case, and instances were given. One instance is where the practice of keeping a class of documents secret is necessary for the proper functioning of the public service.
It cannot be said that these shorthand notes would come within any of those categories, or that their disclosure would 1592 be injurious to the public service. The public interest would not be damnified by the disclosure of the shorthand notes of a conversation about which two people are free to testify. Crown privilege is not, as some people seem to think, like a piece of elastic which can be stretched and used whenever a Minister thinks it convenient. It can be used only in very special circumstances. I advised my right hon. Friend that he was not entitled to claim Crown privilege for these shorthand notes. In the light of the law on this subject, I felt that I could not give him any other advice.
If what I have said is right, it follows that my right hon. Friend had no power to compel the Reading police to disobey the subpoena, and no power to prevent the use of the shorthand notes in evidence before the Disciplinary Committee. It is right, also, that the police had no legal ground on which to base a refusal to do so—
§ Mr. Fletcher rose—
§ The Attorney-General
I cannot give way to the hon. Gentleman. I have a lot to say and if he listens I think that he will find that I shall cover most of the ground.
The Motion before the House seeks to condemn my right hon. Friend for failing to secure that the shorthand notes were not used before the Disciplinary Committee. I hope that I have said enough to show that this part of the Motion is completely misconceived. It seeks to censure my right hon. Friend for failing to do something which, in my view, he had no right whatever to do under the law as it stands today. One of the tasks which the committee will have to consider is whether evidence obtained by the police in the course of their investigations should be made available in proceedings before the Disciplinary Committee. But, I repeat, that as the law stands today, my right hon. Friend had no right to secure the non-production of those notes.
I wish to make clear now—here I am dealing with the point raised by the right hon. Member for Smethwick—that in my opinion a claim for Crown privilege could properly be made for the report of a conversation obtained as a result of telephone interceptions under the Secretary of State's warrant. I say that 1593 for this reason. The Report of the Birkett Committee makes clear that such warrants are issued only in very serious cases, and, in the unlikely event in future of any outside body getting to know of the existence of a report in such a case, I should feel no hesitation in advising that Crown privilege could properly be claimed on the ground that the public interest would be damnified by its disclosure—that the secrecy of such records is necessary for the proper functioning of the public service. That is a very different thing from a shorthand note taken of one conversation as the result of lifting a telephone receiver.
I consider that this Motion is based on the mistaken belief that what happened in this case is covered by, or closely analogous to, what happened and what was reported on by the Birkett Committee. One has only to look at the terms of reference of that Committee to see what a big difference there is. The terms of reference show that the Committee was appointedto consider and report upon the exercise by the Secretary of State of the executive power to intercept communicationsand that Report was based on, and solely concerned with, the issue of a warrant permitting of the interception of a telephone conversation of a particular subscriber.
The right hon. Gentleman has done his best to bring this case within the four walls of that Report and so has the hon. Member for Islington, East. But I think that I am right in saying that nearly every other hon. Member who has spoken on this matter thought that there were distinctions between the cases—even, for once, the hon. Member for Brixton. There is a very valid distinction. It is ridiculous to suggest that a police officer, when asked to lift a telephone receiver, should have to reply, "I really cannot do that without the Secretary of State's warrant."
The Birkett Committee was reporting on telephone tapping. Here, there is no question of that. As has been said before, the shorthand note was taken with the consent and knowledge of one subscriber. There is nothing to stop a subscriber from asking someone to listen to, or agreeing to someone else listening to, a conversation which he or she is to have. I believe that there is nothing to stop a subscriber from fixing up a record- 1594 ing machine so that the conversation is recorded. If, in this case, either of those things had happened there could be no ground for preventing the eavesdropper from obeying the subpoena and no ground for preventing a subscriber from producing the record. Is it really the case that the police should be put in a different position from any other member of the public with regard to listening to a telephone conversation at the request or with the consent of the subscriber?
In this connection, there is a passage in the Report of the Birkett Committee which is pertinent. It was dealing with the other kind of telephone interception. At the same time, it is not irrelevant to this matter and I should like to refer the Committee to it. Paragraph 144 states:We cannot think it to be wise or prudent or necessary to take away from the Police any weapon or to weaken any power they now possess in their fight against organised crime of this character. The Police ought not to be handicapped in their efforts to prevent or to detect crime, whilst the criminal is allowed to use every modern method to achieve his purpose.The paragraph concludes—and this is dealing with telephone interceptions:We therefore think that no useful purpose would be served by recommending that the power of interception be no longer exercised in the detection and prevention of crime, for it would remove from the hands of the Police a weapon which they have found to be effective when all other methods have been unavailing, and would announce to potential wrong-doers that they have nothing to fear from the Police in this particular respect. This, in our opinion, so far from strengthening the liberty of the ordinary citizen, might very well have the opposite effect.If we accept this principle that no policeman should be able to give evidence of what he has heard from lifting a telephone receiver with the consent of the subscriber, then we are strengthening the power of the criminals at the expense of law-abiding citizens.
My right hon. Friend has reminded the House of his constitutional position with regard to the provincial police. He has at present no power to prevent a policeman listening to a conversation at the request or with the consent of a subscriber. He could, of course, be given that power by Statute. He has not got it now. Legislation might provide that a policeman could only act in that way with his consent and could only then do that act which any other citizen is free to 1595 do without anyone's permission. But before we provide for any kind of legislation of that kind, we should reflect upon the likely consequences. If that were provided, it would be most unlikely that consent would be obtained sufficiently quickly, in which case, as I say, the telephone might well become an instrument of great benefit to the criminal classes.
I am sure that the House will welcome the appointment of the committee to which my right hon. Friend has referred. I should like to say that the very question raised in his powerful speech by my hon. Friend the Member for Ashford (Mr. Deedes) as to the use of evidence taken by the police in the course of an investigation into possibly criminal conduct, before bodies of this sort clearly
§ falls within the terms of reference of that committee.
§ But when one comes, at the end of the day, to the Motion on which we are about to vote, it really seeks to censure my right hon. Friend for failing to do things which he had no right or power to do. I hope that I have convinced the House that it is utterly misconceived and that the best thing would be for the right hon. Member for Smethwick to follow the recent precedent of his party and withdraw it. But if it is pressed to the vote, with confidence I ask the House to reject it as wholly unfounded and really unworthy of serious consideration.
§ Question put:—
§ The House divided: Ayes 238, Noes 336.1599
|Division No. 25.]||AYES||[10.0 p.m.|
|Abse, Leo||Dodds, Norman||Janner, Barnett|
|Ainsley, William||Donnelly, Desmond||Jay, Rt. Hon. Douglas|
|Albu, Austen||Driberg, Tom||Jeger, George|
|Allaun, Frank (Salford, E.)||Dugdale, Rt. Hon. John||Jenkins, Roy (Stechford)|
|Allen, Scholefield (Crewe)||Ede, Rt. Hon. Chuter||Johnson, Carol (Lewisham, S.)|
|Awbery, Stan||Edelman, Maurice||Johnston, Douglas (Paisley)|
|Bacon, Miss Alice||Edwards, Rt. Hon. Ness (Caerphilly)||Jones, Rt. Hn. A. Creech(Wakefield)|
|Baird, John||Edwards, Robert (Bilston)||Jones, Dan (Burnley)|
|Baxter, William (Stirlingshire, W.)||Edwards, Walter (Stepney)||Jones, Elwyn (West Ham, S.)|
|Beaney, Alan||Evans, Albert||Jones, J. Idwal (Wrexham)|
|Bellenger, Rt. Hon. F. J.||Fernyhough, E.||Jones, T. W. (Merioneth)|
|Bence, Cyril (Dunbartonshlre, E.)||Finch, Harold||Kelley, Richard|
|Benn, Hn.A.Wedgwood (Brlst'I,S.E.)||Fitch, Alan||Kenyon, Clifford|
|Benson, Sir George||Fletcher, Eric||Key, Rt. Hon. C. W.|
|Bevan, Rt. Hon. Aneurin (Ebbw V.)||Foot, Dingle||King, Dr. Horace|
|Blackburn, F.||Forman, J. C.||Lawson, George|
|Blyton, William||Fraser, Thomas (Hamilton)||Ledger, Ron|
|Boardman. H.||Galtskell, Rt. Hon. Hugh||Lee, Frederick, (Newton)|
|Bowen, Roderic (Cardigan)||George, Lady Megan Lloyd||Lee, Miss Jennie (Cannock)|
|Bowles, Frank||Ginsburg, David||Lever, Harold (Cheetham)|
|Boyden, James||Gooch, E. G.||Lever, L. M. (Ardwick)|
|Braddock, Mrs. E. M.||Gordon Walker, Rt. Hon. P. C.||Lewis, Arthur (West Ham, N.)|
|Brockway, A. Fenner||Gourlay, Harry||Lipton, Marcus|
|Broughton, Dr. A. D. D.||Greenwood, Anthony||Logan, David|
|Brown, Alan (Tottenham)||Grey, Charles||Loughlin, Charles|
|Brown, Rt. Hon. George (Belper)||Griffiths, David (Rother Valley)||Mabon, Dr. J. Dickson|
|Brown, Thomas (Ince)||Griffiths, Rt. Hon. James (Llanelly)||McCann, John|
|Butler, Herbert (Hackney, C.)||Grimond, J.||MacColl, James|
|Butler, Mrs. Joyce (Wood Green)||Gunter, Ray||McInnes, James|
|Carmichael, James||Hale, Leslie (Oldham, W.)||McKay, John (Wallsand)|
|Castle, Mrs. Barbara||Hall, Rt. Hon. Glenvil (Colne Valley)||Mackie, John|
|Chapman, Donald||Hamilton, William (West Fife)||McLeavy, Frank|
|Chetwynd, George||Hannan, William||MacMillan, Malcolm (Western Isles)|
|Cliffe, Michael||Hart, Mrs. Judith||MacPherson, Malcolm (Stirling)|
|Collick, Percy||Hayman, F. H.||Mahon, Simon|
|Corbet, Mrs. Freda||Healey, Denis||Mallalieu, E. L. (Brigg)|
|Craddock, George (Bradford, S.)||Henderson,Rt.Hn.Arthur(RwlyRegis)||Mallalleu, J. P. W. (Huddersfield,E.)|
|Cronin. John||Hewitson, Capt. M.||Manuel, A. C.|
|Crosland,Anthony||Hill, J. (Midlothian)||Mapp, Charles|
|Crossman, R. H. S.||Hilton, A. V.||Marquand, Rt. Hon. H. A.|
|Cullen, Mrs. Alice||Holman, Percy||Marsh, Richard|
|Darling, George||Holt, Percy||Mason, Roy|
|Davies,Rt.Hn.Clement(Montgomery)||Houghton, Douglas||Mayhew, Christopher|
|Davies, G. Elfed (Rhondda, E.)||Howell, Charles A.||Mellish, R. J.|
|Davies, Harold (Leek)||Hoy, James H.||Mendelson, J. J.|
|Davies, Ifor (Gower)||Hughes, Emrya (S. Ayrshire)||Millan, Bruce|
|Davies, S. O. (Merthyr)||Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.)||Monslow, Walter|
|Deer, George||Hunter, A. E.||Moody, A. S.|
|de Freitas, Geoffrey||Hynd, H. (Accrington)||Morris, John|
|Delargy, Hugh||Hynd, John (Attercliffe)||Moyle, Arthur|
|Dempsey, James||Irvine, A. J. (Edge Hill)||Mulley, Frederick|
|Diamond, John||Irving, Sydney (Dartford)||Neal, Harold|
|Oliver, G. H.||Ross, William||Thorpe, Jeremy|
|Oram, A. E.||Shinwell, Rt. Hon. E.||Timmons, John|
|Oswald, Thomas||Silverman, Julius (Aston)||Tomney, Frank|
|Owen, Will||Silverman, Sydney (Nelson)||Ungoed-Thomas, Sir Lynn|
|Pannell, Charles (Leeds, W.)||Skeffington, Arthur||Wainwright, Edwin|
|Pargiter, G. A.||Slater, Joseph (Sedgefield)||Warbey, William|
|Parker, John (Dagenham)||Smith, Ellis (Stoke, S.)||Watkins, Tudor|
|Parkin, B. T. (Paddington, N.)||Snow, Julian||Weitzman, David|
|Paton, John||Sorensen, R. W.||Wells, Percy (Faversham)|
|Pavitt, Laurence||Soskice, Rt. Hon. Sir Frank||Wells, William (Walsall, N.)|
|Pearson, Arthur (Pontypridd)||Spriggs, Leslie||White, Mrs. Eirene|
|Peart, Frederick||Steele, Thomas||Whitlock, William|
|Pentland, Norman||Stewart, Michael (Fulham)||Wilcock, Group Capt. C. A. B.|
|Plummer, Sir Leslie||Stonehouse, John||Wilkins, W. A.|
|Prentice, R. E.||Stones, William||Willey, Frederick|
|Price, J. T. (Westhoughton)||Strachey, Rt. Hon. John||Williams, D. J. (Neath)|
|Probert, Arthur||Strauss, Rt. Hn. G. R. (Vauxhall)||Williams, Rev. Ll. (Abertillery)|
|Proctor, W. T.||Stross,Dr.Barnett(Stoke-on-Trent,C.)||Williams, W. R. (Openshaw)|
|Pursey, Cmdr. Harry||Summerskill, Dr. Rt. Hon. Edith||Willis, E. G. (Edinburgh, E.)|
|Randall, Harry||Swain, Thomas||Wilson, Rt. Hon. Harold (Huyton)|
|Rankin, John||Swingler, Stephen||Winterbottom, R. E.|
|Redhead, E. C.||Sylvester, George||Woodburn, Rt. Hon. A.|
|Reid, William||Taylor, Bernard (Mansfield)||Woof, Robert|
|Reynolds, G. W.||Taylor, John (West Lothian)||Wyatt, Woodrow|
|Roberts, Albert (Normanton)||Thomas, Iorwerth (Rhondda, W.)||Yates, Victor (Ladywood)|
|Roberts, Goronwy (Caernarvon)||Thompson, Dr. Alan (Dunfermline)||Zilliacus, K.|
|Robinson, Kenneth (St. Pancras, N.)||Thomson, G. M. (Dundee, E.)|
|Rogers, G. H. R. (Kensington, N.)||Thornton, Ernest||TELLERS FOR THE AYES:|
|Mr. Bowden and Mr. Short.|
|Agnew, Sir Peter||Cole, Norman||Green, Alan|
|Aitken, W. T.||Collard, Richard||Gresham Cooke, R.|
|Allan, Robert (Paddington, S.)||Cooke, Robert||Grimston, Sir Robert|
|Allason, James||Cooper, A. E.||Grosvenor, Lt.-Col. R. G.|
|Alport, C. J. M.||Cooper-Key, E. M.||Gurden, Harold|
|Amery, Julian (Preston, N.)||Cordeaux, Lt.-Col. J. K.||Hall, John (Wycombe)|
|Arbuthnot, John||Cordle, John||Hamilton, Michael (Wellingborough)|
|Ashton, Sir Hubert||Costain, A. P.||Hare, Rt. Hon. John|
|Atkins, Humphrey||Coulson, J, M.||Harris, Frederic (Croydon, N.W.)|
|Balniel, Lord||Crichley, Julian||Harris, Reader (Heston)|
|Barlow, Sir John||Crosthwaite-Eyre, Col. O. E.||Harrison, Brian (Maldon)|
|Barter, John||Crowder, F. P.||Harrison, Col. J. H. (Eye)|
|Batsford, Brian||Cunningham, Knox||Harvey, Sir Arthur Vere (Macclesf'd)|
|Beamish, Col. Tufton||Curran, Charles||Harvey, John (Waithamstow, E.)|
|Bell, Philip (Bolton, E.)||Currie, G. B. H.||Harvie Anderson, Miss|
|Bell, Ronald (S. Bucks.)||Dance, James||Hay, John|
|Bennett, F. M. (Torquay)||d'Avigdor-Goldsmld, Sir Henry||Head, Rt. Hon. Antony|
|Bennett, Dr. Reginald (Goa & Fhm)||Deedes, W. F.||Heald, Rt. Hon. Sir Lionel|
|Berkeley, Humphry||de Ferranti, Basil||Heath, Rt. Hon. Edward|
|Bevins, Rt. Hon. Reginald (Toxteth)||Digby, Simon Wingfield||Henderson, John (Cathcart)|
|Bidgood, John C.||Donaldson, Cmdr. C. E. M.||Henderson-Stewart, Sir James|
|Biggs-Davison, John||Doughty, Charles||Hendry, A. Forbes|
|Bingham, R. M.||Drayson, G. B.||Hicks Beach, Mal. W.|
|Birch, Rt. Hon. Nigel||du Cann, Edward||Hiley, Joseph|
|Bishop, F. P.||Duncan, Sir James||Hill, Dr. Rt. Hon. Charles (Luton)|
|Blank, Sir Cyril||Duthie, Sir William||Hill, J. E. B. (S. Norfolk)|
|Bossom, Clive||Eccles, Rt. Hon. Sir David||Hirst, Geoffrey|
|Bourne-Arton, A.||Elliott, R. W.||Hobson, John|
|Box, Donald||Emery, Peter||Hocking, Philip N.|
|Boyd-Carpenter, Rt. Hon. John||Emmet, Hon. Mrs. Evelyn||Holland, Philip|
|Boyle, Sir Edward||Errington, Sir Eric||Holland-Martin, Christopher|
|Braine, Bernard||Farey-Jones, F. W.||Hollingworth, John|
|Brewis, John||Farr, John||Hope, Rt. Hon. Lord John|
|Brooke, Rt. Hon. Henry||Fell, Anthony||Hopkins, Alan|
|Brooman-White, R.||Finlay, Graeme||Hornby, R. P.|
|Browne, Percy (Torrington)||Fisher, Nigel||Hornsby-Smith, Rt. Hon. Patricia|
|Bryan, Paul||Fletcher-Cooke, Charles||Howard, Gerald (Cambridgeshire)|
|Buhard, Denys||Forrest, George||Howard, Hon. G. R. (St. Ives)|
|Bullus, Wing Commander Eric||Foster, John||Howard, John (Southampton, Test)|
|Burden, F. A.||Fraser, Hn, Hugh (Stafford & Stone)||Hughes Hallett, Vice-Admiral John|
|Butcher, Sir Herbert||Fraser, Ian (Plymouth, Sutton)||Hughes-Young, Michael|
|Butler, Rt.Hn.R.A.(Saffron Walden)||Freeth, Denzil||Hulbert, Sir Norman|
|Campbell, Gordon (Moray & Nairn)||Galbraith, Hon. T. G. D.||Hurd, Sir Anthony|
|Carr, Compton (Barons Court)||Gammans, Lady||Hutchison, Michael Clark|
|Carr, Robert (Mitcham)||Gardner, Edward||Iremonger, T. L.|
|Cary, Sir Robert||Gibson-Watt, David||Irvine, Bryant Godman (Rye)|
|Channon, H. P. G.||Glover, Douglas||Jackson, John|
|Chataway, Christopher||Glyn, Dr. Alan (Clapham)||James, David|
|Chichester-Clark, R.||Glyn, Col. Richard H. (Dorset, N.)||Jenkins, Robert (Dulwich)|
|Churchill, Rt. Hon. Sir Winston||Godber, J. B.||Jennings, J. C.|
|Clark, Henry (Antrim, N.)||Goodhart, Philip||Johnson, Dr. Donald (Carlisle)|
|Clark, William (Nottingham, S.)||Goodhew, Victor||Johnson, Eric (Blackley)|
|Clarke, Brig. Terence (Portsmth, W.)||Gower, Raymond||Johnson Smith, Geoffrey|
|Cleaver, Leonard||Grant, Rt. Hon. William (Woodside)||Jones, Rt. Hn. Aubrey (Hall Green)|
|Joseph, Sir Keith||Moore, Sir Thomas||Soames, Rt. Hon. Christopher|
|Kaberry, Donald||Morgan, William||Speir, Rupert|
|Kerans, Cdr. J. S.||Morrison, John||Stanley, Hon. Richard|
|Kerby, Capt. Henry||Mott-Radclyffe, Sir Charles||Stevens, Geoffrey|
|Kerr, Sir Hamilton||Nabarro, Gerald||Steward, Harold (Stockport, S.)|
|Kershaw, Anthony||Neave, Airey||Stodart, J. A.|
|Kimball, Marcus||Nicholls, Harmar||Stoddart-Scott, Col. Sir Malcolm|
|Kirk, Peter||Nicholson, Sir Godfrey||Storey, S.|
|Kitson, Timothy||Noble Michael||Studholme, Sir Henry|
|Lagden, Godfrey||Nugent, Richard||Summers, Sir Spencer (Aylesbury)|
|Lambton, Viscount||Ormsby-Gore, Rt. Hon. D.||Sumner, Donald (Orpington)|
|Lancaster, Col. C. G.||Orr, Capt. L. P. S.||Talbot, John E.|
|Langford-Holt, J.||Orr-Ewing, C. Ian||Tapsell, Peter|
|Leather, E. H. C.||Osborn, John (Hallam)||Taylor, Sir Charles (Eastbourne)|
|Leavey, J. A.||Osborne, Cyril (Louth)||Taylor, W. J. (Bradford, N.)|
|Leburn, Gilmour||Page, Graham||Teeling, William|
|Legge-Bourke, Maj. H.||Partridge, E.||Temple, John M.|
|Lennox-Boyd, Rt. Hon. Alan||Pearson, Frank (Clitheroe)||Thatcher, Mrs. Margaret|
|Lewis, Kenneth (Rutland)||Peel, John||Thomas, Leslie (Canterbury)|
|Lilley, F. J. P.||Percival, Ian||Thomas, Peter (Conway)|
|Lindsay, Martin||Peyton, John||Thompson, Kenneth (Walton)|
|Linstead, Sir Hugh||Pickthorn, Sir Kenneth||Thompson, Richard (Croydon, S.)|
|Litchfield, Capt. John||Pike, Miss Mervyn||Thorneycroft, Rt. Hon. Peter|
|Lloyd, Rt. Hn.Geoffrey(Sut'nC'dfield)||Pitman, I. J.||Thornton-Kemsley, Sir Colin|
|Longbottom, Charles||Pitt, Miss Edith||Tlley, Arthur (Bradford, W.)|
|Longden, Gilbert||Pott, Percivall||Tilney, John (Wavertree)|
|Loveys, Walter H.||Powell, J. Enoch||Turner, Colin|
|Low, Rt. Hon. Sir Toby||Price, David (Eastleigh)||Turton, Rt. Hon. R. H.|
|Lucas, Sir Jocelyn (Portsmouth, S.)||Price, H. A. (Lewisham, W.)||Tweedsmuir, Lady|
|Lucas-Tooth, Sir Hugh||Prior, J. M. L.||van Straubenzee, W. R.|
|McAdden, Stephen||Prior-Palmer, Brig. Sir Otho||Vane, W. M. F.|
|MacArthur, Ian||Profumo, John||Vaughan-Morgan, J. K.|
|McLaren, Martin||Proudfoot, Wilfred||Vickers, Miss Joan|
|McLaughlin, Mrs. Patricia||Ramsden, James||Vosper, Rt. Hon. Dennis|
|Maclay, Rt. Hon. John||Rawlinson, Peter||Wakefield, Edward (Derbyshire, W.)|
|Maclean,SirFitzroy(Bute&N.Ayrs.)||Rees, Hugh||Wakefield, Sir Wavell (St. M'lebone)|
|McLean, Neil (Inverness)||Rees-Davies, W. R.||Walker-Smith, Rt. Hon. Derek|
|MacLeod, John (Ross & Cromarty)||Renton, David||Wall, Patrick|
|McMaster, Stanley||Ridley, Hon. Nicholas||Ward, Rt. Hon. George (Worcester)|
|Macmillan,Rt.Hn.Harold(Bromley)||Ridsdale, Jullan||Ward, Dame Irene (Tynemouth)|
|Macmillan, Maurice (Halifax)||Rippon, Geoffrey||Watts, James|
|Macpherson, Niall (Dumfries)||Roberts, Sir Peter (Heeley)||Webster, David|
|Maddan, Martin||Robertson, Sir David||Wells, John (Maidstone)|
|Maginnis, John E.||Robinson, Sir Roland (Blackpool, S.)||Whitelaw, William|
|Maitland, Cdr. J. W.||Robson Brown, Sir William||Williams, Dudley (Exeter)|
|Manningham-Buller, Rt. Hn. Sir R.||Roots, William||Williams, Paul (Sunderland, S.)|
|Markham, Major Sir Frank||Ropner, Col. Sir Leonard||Wills, Sir Gerald (Bridgwater)|
|Marlowe, Anthony||Royle, Anthony (Richmond, Surrey)||Wilson, Geoffrey (Truro)|
|Marples, Rt. Hon. Ernest||Russell, Ronald||Wise, Alfred|
|Marten, Neil||Sandys, Rt. Hon. Duncan||Wolrige-Gordon, Patrick|
|Mathew, Robert (Honiton)||Scott-Hopkins, James||Wood, Rt. Hon. Richard|
|Matthews, Gordon (Meriden)||Seymour, Leslie||Woodhouse, C. M.|
|Maudling, Rt. Hon. Reginald||Sharples, Richard||Woodnutt, Mark|
|Mawby, Ray||Shepherd, William||Woollam, John|
|Maydon, Lt.-Cmdr. S. L. C.||Simon, Sir Jocelyn||Worsley, Marcus|
|Milligan, Rt. Hon. W. R.||Skeet, T. H. H.||Yates, William (The Wrekin)|
|Mills, Stratton||Smith, Dudley (Br'ntf'rd & Chiswick)|
|Molson, Rt. Hon. Hugh||Smithers, Peter||TELLERS FOR THE NOES:|
|Montgomery, Fergus||Smyth, Brig. Sir John (Norwood)||Mr. Redmayne and Mr. Legh.|