§ 7.0 p.m.
§ Mr. Kenneth Robinson (St. Pancras, North)
I beg to move,That this House calls upon Her Majesty's Government to take early action upon the recommendations contained in Part Two of the Report of the Wolfenden Committee (Command Paper No. 247 of 1956–57).I fully appreciate that this subject is one which is distasteful and even repulsive to many people, including no doubt some hon. Members. It is a subject which touches deep and perhaps primitive instincts and which rouses strong emotions, but it is also a topic of some importance not only to the minority who are directly affected by the law but also to the rest of the community. It is for that reason that I chose this subject for debate today.
It is a topic which deserves serious and objective discussion, and I am hopeful that this debate will provide just that. I shall try to direct my own speech to that end and to stick to facts, since in my view the facts themselves make the case for reform. I cannot promise that everything that I shall say will be uncontroversial, but at least I have no wish to say anything which will sharpen controversy, where controversy is acute enough already, or anything which will harden prejudice.
First of all, i should like to clear up in the briefest possible way some of the misconceptions that are common about homosexuality. I am sorry to take time on this, but in the light of things which were said on the last occasion when this subject was debated it is necessary to try to clear the air. It is widely held, for example, that all homosexuals are effeminate, depraved and exhibitionist. This may be true of a very small minority, those of a homopsychopathic character, but, after all, much the same could be said mutatis mutandis of a small minority of heterosexual people. The majority of homosexuals are useful citizens who go about quite unrecognised and unsuspected by most of us.
Homosexuality has existed in all societies from the primitive to the sophisticated and at all periods of history regardless of laws and of the rules of society. It has been condemned, condoned and even encouraged at different 1454 times and in different cultures. As far as I am aware, it has never been suppressed. The incidence of homosexuality is not easy to determine, but the best estimates are that in Britain today about one male in 20 to 25 of the population is an active homosexual. The numbers may be substantially more. They can hardly be less.
They are not confined to any particular social class or professional group. As far as one can discover, they are spread fairly evenly through the population as a whole. There is no evidence whatever, despite widespread belief to the contrary, that homosexuality in this country has increased recently or is increasing. There may be some figures which on a superficial glance might suggest that, but research studies reveal no evidence that it is the case.
Homosexuality is seldom a matter of choice for the individual. I understand that it is largely an involuntary deviation, not hereditary but often due to some emotional factor during childhood. I gather that at birth we all of us possess both homosexual and heterosexual elements in our psychosexual make-up, but environmental conditions and family relationships succeed in attracting most of us in the direction of normality. Nor, according to most medical opinion, an opinion which is shared by the Wolfenden Committee, is homosexuality a disease. Therefore, it is not something which is suitable to medical treatment in the accepted sense of the word. To be fair, however, I should say that there are certain psychiatrists who take the view that there are some types of homosexuality which are a form of neurosis and can be treated by psychotherapy. But I think that it is true to say that the generally accepted view among doctors and sociologists that this is a disability, a deviation from the norm of the same sort of order as is left-handedness or colour blindness.
I have no wish to suggest that I regard homosexuality as a desirable way of life. It is in my view undesirable, for reasons which I will tell the House. It is undesirable because it leads so often to unhappiness, to loneliness and to frustration, because it entails in many cases heavy burdens of guilt and shame on those affected by it and because it seldom provides a basis for a stable 1455 emotional relationship. It may also possibly be undesirable on moral grounds because it is a sin, but these are matters on which I am not competent to pass judgment.
Surely all this suggests that these unfortunate people deserve our compassion rather than our contempt, yet we choose to brand them indiscriminately as criminals and to isolate them from the rest of the community. I hope that I am not over-simplifying it—Ihave a great deal to say and I do not want to take too long—when I say that the law states that all homosexual practices constitute a criminal offence. This stems very largely from the notorious Labouchere amendment to the Criminal Justice (Amendment) Bill of 1885. How this came to be enacted is a most extraordinary story which does not reflect very favourably on the House of Commons at that time.
This new Clause was moved at the Report stage, the penultimate stage before the Royal Assent, of a Bill which was designed for a totally different purpose. There was a procedural wrangle about whether it was in order, but Mr. Speaker of that day said that anything is in order if the House wishes it—hardly a sentiment which I think you, Mr. Speaker, would endorse today. Having got the procedural wrangle out of the way, the new Clause, which made all acts of gross indecency, unspecified, between male persons a criminal offence, was added to the Bill without any debate whatever on the substance of the matter, and the provisions of that Clause were re-enacted under the Sexual Offences Act, 1956, a consolidating Measure.
What is it that the Wolfenden Committee recommends? It made a number of minor recommendations, some of them quite important ones, but I want to direct the attention of the House to what is generally accepted as its main recommendation. It is simply that homosexual acts committed in private by consenting adults shall no longer constitute a criminal offence.
The Committee went further. It made it clear that it defined "consent", and "private" in the same sense, as those words are meant in connection with normal sexual acts, and it played absolutely safe by placing the age at 21 1456 for an adult in this connection. So the Wolfenden Committee proposed no changes whatever in the laws governing public decency. Far from removing any protection from the young that the existing law provides, it did, in fact, actually recommend increased penalties for sexual offences involving young persons in one particular category of case.
Why does the Wolfenden Committee think, and why do I think, too, that the law needs to be changed? I think that there are a number of things amiss with the present law. Perhaps the most important of all is the question of interference with the private acts of adults. I take the view that interference with this sort of conduct by the law can be justified only on very exceptional grounds of public interest. I do not consider that such grounds exist in this case. This matter was argued at great length by the Wolfenden Committee, and, I think, with great cogency. I beg hon. Members who have not read that section of the Report to do so.
Secondly, I do not think that there is either equity or consistency in the administration of the law. So far as I can ascertain, no general guidance has ever been given by the Home Office to chief constables about the administration of this law, and so it is very largely the individual attitude of chief constables to the whole matter of homosexuality that determines how zealously, or otherwise, the police in a given area pursue homosexuals. The risks of being prosecuted for this offence vary enormously from area to area, and once a prosecution has been instituted the sentences vary enormously as imposed by different magistrates and different judges. Indeed, I think that there are few laws which fall more capriciously upon the offender than does this one.
Then there are the unparalleled opportunities for blackmail which are inherent in the law as it stands. This is so obvious that I do not think I need labour the point, except perhaps remind the House that the late Lord Jowitt said, based on his experience when he was Attorney-General, that in 90 per cent. of the blackmail cases that came before him there were some homosexual components.
Then there are the dubious police methods, which I do not want to go into 1457 in detail, to which this law gives rise in certain cases at least. It imposes a very unpleasant burden on the police force and, in my view, a quite unnecessary burden. There is also the question of unenforceability. I think that it is generally accepted that to be respected a law should be readily enforceable, but by their private nature the acts with which this law is concerned cannot—not one in a thousand of them—come to the notice of authority. The prosecutions which take place result from informers, from partners to homosexual acts who turn Queen's Evidence, and from confessions extracted by the police.
Lastly, I submit to the House that many of the most objectionable features of homosexuality stem directly from the criminal stigma that attaches to it through the existence of the law. Of all the countries in Western Europe there is only one other, and that is the Federal German Republic, which takes the same legal view of private homosexual acts as we do in this country. If we were to adopt the Wolfenden recommendations it would bring our law into line with that of France, Italy, Denmark, Holland, Sweden, Greece, Spain and Austria. Austria actually changed its law, following some kind of Wolfenden Committee of its own as recently as January of this year. So far as I know, there has been no outbreak of immorality in Austria in recent months as a result of it. Those are the arguments for reform.
I now turn to the arguments commonly advanced against reform. The first is that if we relax the law in any way relating to private acts, homosexuality will spread like a prairie fire, to use the somewhat emotive phrase of the hon. Member for Cheadle (Mr. Shepherd), homosexuals will feel free to proselytise, and young persons in particular will be endangered to a greater extent than at present. Neither of these assertions is provable or disprovable. All that one can say is that nothing of the kind has happened in those countries which have relaxed their law in the direction in which I am pressing this evening.
I know that some hon. Members say that the experience of other countries is not relevant. I always wonder why they say that and why they assume that there is something peculiarly depraved in the British character which suggests that we 1458 should act differently from, say, Sweden, which relaxed this law in 1942 and has noticed no difference at all since then.
On the second point, the question of young persons, all the evidence suggests that the people who normally engage in homosexual acts between adults are not the same people who tend to seduce young persons. The paedophiliac is a rather special type and no relaxation of the law relating to adult acts could have any effect, except possibly a favourable effect, upon the risks to which young persons are subjected.
I must mention, in passing, the very extraordinary argument that is embraced in the Amendment on the Order Paper in the name of the hon. Member for Cheadle. I do not want to misrepresent him. He moves to leave out the words from "House" and to addis of the opinion that the proposed alterations would largely fail to change the status of homosexuals in society …If these proposals were accepted their status would be changed from criminal to non-criminal, and I can hardly conceive of a greater change of status than that.
It is also said—and one or two newspapers have taken this line—that to change the law would be to appear, at any rate, to condone and encourage homosexuality. Do we condone and encourage adultery, or Lesbianism, simply because we have failed to make either a criminal offence?
But the main argument adduced against reform is that public opinion is opposed to it, or is not ready for it. What does this mean? Does it mean that we can never make a change in the law until an overwhelming majority of the people demand that change? If that criterion had been adopted in the past we should still be hanging men for stealing sheep, and still chaining lunatics on beds of straw. A Government are entitled to take into account public opinion; they are entitled to take care that they do not act in such a way as to affront the great majority of the nation. But it is frequently the duty of Government to lead and not to follow public opinion, and to do what they know to be right.
In difficult questions like this, what sort of opinion should they consult before acting? I suggest that it should 1459 be the opinion of a reasonable cross-section of the community which has taken the trouble to study the matter intelligently and objectively—and there is no doubt where such opinion lies in this matter. First, I take the members of the Wolfenden Committee. Out of thirteen men and women, described by Sir John Wolfenden as reasonably intelligent people, who began with open minds and spent a fair amount of time assessing the best available evidence, twelve reached the firm conclusion that the law should be changed. I believe that there was no fluke about this. I believe that out of any dozen people who sat down and studied the matter in the same way as the Wolfenden Committee did, on the average ten or eleven would come to the same conclusion.
Then there is the opinion of the Churches, which is to some of us perhaps the most surprising and welcome feature of the debate. The Archbishops of Canterbury and York, the Church Assembly, the Methodist Conference and the Committee set up by the Roman Catholic Church to study the same problems as those studied by the Wolfenden Committee all support the same recommendation.
Editorial opinion is heavily in favour of the recommendation. The Times, the Guardian, the Observer, the Sunday Times, the Daily Mirror, the Star, the New Statesman, the Spectator, and the Economist are all in favour of the Wolfenden recommendations.
§ Mr. W. A. Wilkins (Bristol, South)
I am a member of the Methodist Church. How does my hon. Friend know that these Churches are representing the views of their congregations? What authority have they to speak for other people?
§ Mr. Robinson
I would be the last person to try to explain what authority the Methodist Conference has; all I am saying is that that Conference passed a resolution in favour of the Wolfenden recommendations. I am trying to stick to the facts, and that is a fact. I am not suggesting that every Methodist is in favour of reform or that every member of the Church of England is in favour. That was a somewhat irrelevant interruption.
On the other side, editorially, we have the Daily Telegraph, the Daily Sketch and, 1460 always in the vanguard of social progress, the Beaverbrook Press.
Medical and sociological opinion is overwhelmingly in favour of changing the law. Incidentally, I should like to refer to the views expressed by two hon. Members on the last occasion when the House discussed this matter. One was an hon. Friend of mine and the other an hon. Member opposite, who are both psychiatrists. They expressed themselves as being against the implementation of the Wolfenden recommendations. I have heard it said that their views are typical of the psychiatric profession. All I would say is that having discussed this matter with many psychiatrists I think that it would be extremely difficult to find any other two who have reached the same conclusion as have the two hon. Members to whom I have referred.
§ Dr. A. D. D. Broughton (Batley and Morley)
I hope that my hon. Friend will give the hon. Member for Gosport and Fareham (Dr. Bennett) and myself credit for not claiming to speak on behalf of the medical profession; we were speaking as individual Members of Parliament. We both have experience of psychiatry, and we drew on that experience when we made our speeches. We did not express an opinion of the medical profession. I hope that my hon. Friend is not suggesting that we are the only psychiatrists who are not in favour of implementing the Wolfenden recommendations.
§ Mr. Robinson
I know that my hon. Friend is speaking for himself, as is the hon. Member for Gosport and Fareham (Dr. Bennett), but their two speeches, taken together, have been represented to me as being psychiatric opinion—and, frankly, they are not. I did not say that they were the only two who opposed the recommendations; I said that we should have to go far to find others.
For the purpose of argument, let us concede the case that mass opinion should be consulted on this issue. I can find no evidence of any overwhelming public opinion in opposition to these recommendations. Two or three popular newspapers conducted straw polls shortly after the Wolfenden Committee reported, and although there was in no case a majority for reform, in one case the numbers were very nearly equal and in the other case they were in the ratio of four to five. There 1461 is some evidence to prove that public opinion has moved in the direction of reform since then.
One always consults one's own postbag in these cases. I have had about seventy or seventy-five letters, three of which were hostile. One was couched in terms of personal abuse with which those who have taken any interest in this subject are all too familiar; a second was from a lady referring me to the story of Sodom and Gomorrah in the Bible and assuring me that God will punish, and the third, which arrived this morning, was from a gentleman who advocated the compulsory castration of homosexuals and offered his own services.
I hope that the Home Secretary is not going to repeat the excuse which he gave in the earlier debate for inaction in this matter, and say that public opinion is not yet ready for this change. That horse is not a runner. For a Government who want to make this change there is ample and demonstrable public support to justify their action. Almost everyone, and every organ of opinion—except the House of Commons—has by now expressed a view on this subject. I submit that if we are to retain the respect of the nation we cannot for ever emulate the ostrich on matters of social controversy. Any attempt that might be made to prevent the House from coming to a decision tonight would rightly cause us to forfeit the respect of the people whom we are here to represent.
I now come to the terms of my Motion, which I have worded very carefully in order to make its acceptance by the Government as easy as possible. I have not sought to tie them down to the precise recommendations of the Wolfenden Committee, but before the right hon. Gentleman puts his gloss on my Motion I had better say how I interpret it. Action on the Wolfenden recommendations must imply legislative action on the main recommendation. A few of the worst features of the present law could be mitigated, and should have been mitigated before this, by administrative action, but so long as every homosexual act remains a criminal act the basic evils of the present law will remain. By early action I do not mean action in this Session, but those words can only mean action during this Parliament.
1462 I have spoken for longer than I intended, and I will conclude by asking the House this question: has not the time now come to get rid of a law which achieves no discernible public good, which invites blackmail, which causes untold misery and which creates more evils than it can ever hope to eradicate? In the final analysis this is a matter of tolerance and common justice. This country has a great and deserved reputation for tolerance. This House is admired not least for the concern it shows for minorities, and even individuals, who are unjustly treated. It is to those qualities that my Motion is directed, and it is in that spirit that I ask the House to support it.
§ 7.30 p.m.
§ Mr. W. F. Deedes (Ashford)
Personally, I unreservedly welcome this debate and can at least support what the hon. Member for St. Pancras, North (Mr. K. Robinson) has said in respect of his choice and the reasons for it. I think that many of us also warmly approve the restrained manner in which he has moved his Motion. I am among those, perhaps a minority, who think in many respects that the more we are compelled to discuss this and the wider the discussion goes the better. I do not see how we can hope to get the right answer without it, and I think that those who grow impatient at what I saw described in one newspaper today as "this interminable discussion" are wrong. I am sure that that is not the right approach.
It is rather instructive to consult, as I have done, some of the public prints and indexes both before the Wolfenden Report and before a certain cause célèbre led to the appointment of that Committee. It is noteworthy that previous to that there had been little or no public discussion or report on this subject. Until lately, the English have cherished a reluctance—which is widely recognised—to talk freely on subjects such as this. Perhaps this national characteristic and this lack of discussion is why we now find ourselves in this difficulty.
If this were an authoritarian régime, the Home Secretary could quietly intimate to the police what his wishes were, or what he thought our wishes were, and that would dispose of the matter. But we are compelled—and we have no other 1463 course—to go by public consent, and that involves discussion. Discussion may not remove—I do not think that it will—a great deal of the fear and prejudice which must and does surround this subject, but it will certainly bring about some changes of mind, not all in the same direction.
I must admit that since I became obliged to get to grips with this subject I have partly changed my mind. Five years ago, before the Report was about to be published, I thought that any change in the law was unthinkable in this respect. Even a year ago I thought it would be most improbable. Today I think that with respect to the imprisonment of the homosexual it is inevitable—eventually. I cannot accept the logic of imprisonment for the homosexual as the last word, and since I cannot accept the creation of a special class in our courts, that means I must also accept that it cannot indefinitely be treated as a criminal offence. I do not say that that is a widely shared experience, or that the change of mind has occurred to others, but even less would I attempt to suggest that those who passionately wish to maintain the law as it stands at all costs and indefinitely have not reasonable grounds for their view.
It simply means that I am no longer able to accept the present law as the past word and to remain so indefinitely. Surely the issue which concerns us now, and all who are concerned with this 'subject, is not so much whether but if there is to be change, how and when, particularly how? That seems to be the most complex social problem which has confronted a Government for a very long time, and I think that it is being dismissed far too lightly by a great many people who should know better.
We have not been greatly assisted by what has been said—and left unsaid—by some of the respectable authorities which have come down in favour of the principal recommendation of the Committee. I think that some have displayed, and are still displaying, quite unwittingly perhaps, a brand of intellectual superiority—I will not say arrogance—which goes little towards solving the real difficulties.
It is not difficult to reach a satisfactory intellectual answer to this problem 1464 —satisfactory to oneself and to a cosy audience. It is far more difficult to face the administrative consequences of any change, work them out and follow them through. To this extent, there has been some over-simplification by some very lofty intellects and a belittling of the poltical problems involved. I do not say that of the hon. Gentleman the Member for St. Pancras, North, but I do say to him that it is not good enough, in respect of his last remarks, to say what is apparently the right solution as a jurist or sociologist and as a Member of Parliament, and then, because the Government fail td follow it up at once, to accuse them of moral cowardice.
Sir John Wolfenden, whose standing as a sociologist is high with us all, observed with irony last week—and I do not want to take his remarks out of context—that there were four sexual sins and only one was punishable by imprisonment. I am not sure that that remark does him or the report associated with him justice. If all four of the sins alluded to by him were more and more widely recognised and observed as sins, our problems and anxieties would be less.
Some weighty leaders of the Church of England have given their views and support a change in the law. They have said, in effect, that this should cease to be the responsibility of the legislators and should become their responsibility as upholders of the Christian doctrine. That is not an unreasonable point of view, but what is imperative is that, if we remove legal restraint, there should be in readiness, or within reach, a second defence in the medium of moral restraint. This may not be a view which is widely shared, but it seems to me that very little has been done to build up and strengthen that second line of defence upon which so many in favour of this change ask us to put our weight.
That is one of the prime difficulties, and it is not easy. We are told that it is the existence of an illogical and unjust law which weakens the sense of moral restraint. I accept that there is something in that, but in a world in which extra-marital relations have come to be—let me put this moderately—more lightly regarded than at one time, then it is vain to belittle those who fear that homosexuality might also become so regarded. With the moral walls against 1465 the three sins as thin as they are today, it seems to me most natural and reasonable that many people should be reluctant to see the removal of a legal barrier against the fourth. That is the heart of the fear which is very widely felt, and it must be understood by the supporters of this Motion if we are to get anywhere rationally, and understood by a much wider company outside the House.
Administratively, the difficulties in following through the Wolfenden recommendations are great, and I shall not discuss them now, but dwelling upon them ought not to be branded as moral cowardice. We have the problem, for example, of the universities. If one accepted the recommendation that the age of 21 should be the age within the law the universities would be divided—not half and half—but at least divided. For some it would be within the law and for others it would be without the law. There is the problem of the Services which, as many of us know, have profound problems and anxieties in the matters. We even have the problems of the schools. I shall not exaggerate what the indirect consequences might be of what we might do to the law, save only to mention this consequence which I know will occur to anyone, of schoolmasters above the age of 21 accepting the change in the law.
Those are not light considerations, and they are not lightly dismissed in the Wolfenden Report. I repeat that seldom has there been a problem upon which it has been easier to reach an intellectual answer highly satisfactory to oneself, and harder for others to work out the consequences.
Finally, there is the state of public opinion itself to be considered. It is terribly easy to talk nonsense about it, and one always cites public opinion in defence of what one wants to say. I do not propose to do that. Broadly, it seems to me that the more the subject is debated the more the public is likely to see the force of the main Wolfenden recommendations. I make no secret of that, but I think that there will always remain an adamant minority, and perhaps a majority, opposed to a change.
We are dealing with a law which has obtained for 400 years—[HON. MEMBERS: "No."]—perhaps I exaggerate the number of years, but at least it has 1466 obtained long enough for me to say that the Motion asks for early action after only four years since the Wolfenden Report. I think that those who are asking for that should be clear about for what they are asking. Is it that the Government should take a lead now and hope that the resistant elements of public opinion will come along with them, or is it that the Government should allow public opinion time and then act?
I feel the strongest reservation about the first, and I cannot accept it. I shall not go into the historical or sociological reasons, but the facts of the Wolfenden Report alone justify a very strong element of public resistance. I quote only one paragraph, paragraph 202, in that connection:The fact must be faced that there will always be some men whom it is necessary to submit to some form of compulsory detention for the protection of others. Of 1,022 men in prison for homosexual offences in 1954 "—the last year quoted—no fewer than 590 (58 per cent.) were involved in offences against boys aged 15 or underIt is no good trying to belittle, and it is not in the interests of those behind the Motion to try to belittle, the fact of public opinion with such a finding as that.
If there is action, it must be in line with the second proposition. I suspect the axiom that it is always the Government's duty, as the hon. Member says, to lead and to expect the public to follow. In many things that is true, but not in all, and not when the Government are laying down a statutory charge and transferring the weight in terms of social and moral responsibility to other people.
I consider that there are three essential preliminaries. The first is the programme of research mentioned in paragraph 216 of the Wolfenden Report. That should be given a further run. One consequence of reading the Wolfenden Report is that one discovers how astonishingly little any of us know about this subject. Secondly, there should be a further process of assisting by discussion and debate, however interminable, those large elements of public opinion which have not yet—and why should they?—got to grips with the subject. 1467 Thirdly, there should be more evidence that those who see with such clarity the distinction between crime and sin in respect of this offence are sharing that doctrine with a wider audience and fortifying it for a change in the law.
Perhaps the most grievous error is to pretend that we are dealing with a self-contained, isolated element of society, now the victim of unjust law. To do him justice, at no time did the hon. Member pretend that that was so. It is proposed to make a change in the law which will have positive physical effects on others, however few, now outside that element—let alone the moral consequences.
One should be specific about the moral consequences, because it is easy to talk vaguely about them. Some believe that the homosexuals' case is that there may be removed the unfair shadow of criminal prosecution. They assume that those concerned would then willingly accept the social consequences. If there are those who believe that, I am bound to say that they totally misread human nature. No man will willingly submit unresistingly to a social stigma, to the consequences of that social moral force. There will follow a change in the law—indeed, there has preceded such a change—a campaign of self-justification. That will follow as day follows night. There will follow an effort to prove that homosexuality—I am not speaking of those who support the Motion, but I know from my knowledge of human nature how this will work out—has its virtues, just as many people today seek to prove that divorce has its virtues.
That does not alter my view that we must eventually change the law, but it strengthens my view that we must prepare for that change. Given those prerequisites, I think that we are entitled to expect a change, and it will come. I cannot see how hon. Members can ask for it to come in the lifetime of this Parliament, for instance. I know that the hon. Member is using the word "early" in that sense, but this is not a matter in which there can be early action in the sense that there is early action with pensions, housing, town planning, licensing laws and similar matters.
I would not attempt to state a term of years because there are too many im- 1468 ponderables, but in terms of the history of this law I would regard something inside a decade as early action. However, I know that in the terms of the Motion and in terms of what its supporters have in mind, that is manifestly not early action. I support the proposal of the Motion in believing that a change must and should come, but I cannot accept the interpretation for the qualifying word "early". Hon. Members supporting the Motion would be well advised to think not just broadly of when, but more closely than many have yet shown signs of doing of how. I think that there is no other way of moving towards what they want.
§ 7.47 p.m.
§ Mrs. Eirene White (Flint, Fast)
I would not have intervened in this debate had I not been present in the House when my hon. Friend the Member for St. Pancras, North (Mr. K. Robinson) announced his choice of subject after he had been successful in the Ballot. The reception given to that choice by hon. Members made me feel that it was one's duty to take part in a debate on a subject which is difficult, embarrassing and distasteful.
It is easier for women to make this point: I believe that in considering the subject of male homosexuality a number of men consciously or subconsciously are moved to vehement condemnation by some feeling that they have to assert their own virility in the process. I am not convinced that the most vehement condemnation is necessarily based on a sober study of the facts. All matters of sexual behaviour are apt to arouse strongly subjective emotions. I repeat that sometimes there is a subconscious cause. This is a subject which needs to be considered as objectively a possible.
There is another aspect of the attitude towards homosexual behaviour on the part of at least some men. It is that they may regard heterosexual sin as something not so serious, and they thereforeCompound for sins, they are inclin'd to By damning those they have no mind to.As a woman, I find that very difficult to accept. I regard homosexual behaviour as something extremely repugnant and on the few occasions when one has observed evidence—a woman does not, naturally, come in contact with it as much as a man—I have experienced a feeling of abhorrence.
1469 Equally I, as a woman, have the deepest abhorrence of prostitution by women. I am not speaking of extra-marital relationships, in some of which there is a real feeling of concern for the partner in the act. I am speaking of the commercial prostitution of a woman's body for a man's pleasure for a few minutes. I regard that as utterly repugnant. But it is not a criminal offence, and it is not suggested by anyone in this House that it should be made one.
I am simply suggesting that one should try to look at these different types of personal sin as objectively as possible and that one should try before voting on this matter—certainly before speaking on it—to clear one's mind so far as possible of any subjective feelings.
I have carefully read the Wolfenden Report, and such other material as is available to us, and, frankly, I find the subject of homosexual behaviour extremely baffling. The psychiatrists and the medical men are not agreed—as my hon. Friend has said—on its causation or treatment or whether it is in any circumstances curable. It is, therefore, something which one must approach with some diffidence, but I think it certainly something on which one should pay attention to people of intelligence and goodwill who have done their best to study it carefully.
I think also that one is fully entitled to look at the experience in other countries where the general standards of civilised behaviour are not far different from our own. I think it very odd, to say the least—I almost committed the terrible pun of saying "queer"—that we in this country are almost alone among the Western European countries in persisting in regarding that type of behaviour as a criminal offence. That it is something reprehensible is, of course, another matter. But surely it is something to be questioned why we as one country should be different in our attitude from the Nordic countries, the Scandinavian countries and the Latin countries. I find it very difficult to understand why we in Great Britain should take this attitude.
The countries which have altered their law and made this no longer a criminal offence do not report an increase in this type of behaviour, so far as can be ascertained. I have found a tendency to suggest that there is an increase in this 1470 type of behaviour in this country; but I think that objective analysis will show that this matter has been far more freely discussed at the present time and that there is no evidence—from the nature of things there could be no evidence—that there has been an actual increase in such behaviour. Therefore, I do not accept that as an argument at all.
I find it impossible to accept that the changes in the law under the Wolfenden proposals would endanger young people. Were that so, I should be the very last to support my hon. Friend in this matter. Clearly, the corruption of the young is wicked in itself and, if I may say so speaking as a woman, anything which encourages a deviation of this sort can lead to so much unhappiness not only for the person concerned but for any possible partner should he marry later on—some homosexuals do, in fact there are all sorts of degrees of homosexuality—that it should not be condoned.
I cannot believe, from the evidence given in the Wolfenden Report and elsewhere, that this change is likely to have that effect. On the contrary, I think it might conceivably be argued—though I do not attach too much weight to the argument—that by keeping acts with persons under 21 as a criminal offence, the fact that persons were affected by a fear of falling foul of the law might divert their attention to older people with whom they could have relations in legal safety. So I cannot understand the argument of those who say that this change would endanger youth. That is one of the arguments which appears to be based on a misunderstanding or even possibly on a prejudiced judgment.
I do not wish to speak for too long, because I know there are many other hon. Members who desire to take part in this debate, but I should like to make one final comment on the question of public opinion and on what should be the duty of the House where public opinion is uncertain or even where we may feel there is a majority of public opinion unconvinced that a change is required.
There are some circumstances in which one must be very careful indeed not to be in advance of public opinion. One analogy often put forward is that of prohibition in the United States. But that is a danger when we are seeking by legislation to add something to our 1471 criminal code; in other words, when we are making something an offence when public opinion is not satisfied that it should be so regarded, and therefore is liable to flout the law.
The correct analogy in this case would be if we were proposing to make female prostitution a criminal offence. That would be a foolish thing for the House to do because, indubitably, the House would not carry public opinion with it, and the law would be flouted and brought into disrepute. But this is not at all a case where what one is doing is perhaps going a little in advance of public opinion or giving a lead to public opinion in something where the law would be flouted. It would be a change in such a way as to remove an offence from criminal jurisdiction. Therefore, it seems to me that we are faced with a practical and a moral choice in this matter, and I think that the weight of evidence is emphatically on the side of changing the law.
This is a very difficult and complex problem. The treatment of homosexuals is a very difficult and complex matter. In the earlier debate on the subject the Home Secretary said that more knowledge was required, and I agree. But I suggest in all earnestness that to continue to have this type of behaviour regarded as a criminal offence is precisely what makes it so extraordinarily difficult to obtain satisfactory knowledge or provide satisfactory treatment.
One can hardly imagine circumstances which would make it more difficult than those in which a person so affected feels that he is a potential criminal, that he is always in the position where he can be denounced and hunted and subjected to blackmail and so on. I suggest that no one in that position is in an ideal state for possible remedial treatment. It seems to me that we have to treat this matter as objectively as possible and to give every opportunity for a better scientific approach, and that to treat it as a criminal offence is not conducive to the sort of approach which might help to solve this very difficult social problem.
§ 8.0 p.m.
§ Mr. Godfrey Lagden (Hornchurch)
Having listened to the hon. Member for St. Pancras, North (Mr. K. Robinson) 1472 move the Motion, I feel that he and those who support him will consider my remarks far from enlightened, prudish and quite unfashionable. If he considers them in that light, I nevertheless feel that I shall be in very good company. Possibly his experience of public opinion is unique and quite different from the general experience of hon. Members. Indeed, he seems to have a unique postbag. Possibly that is from people who seek his guidance. His postbag is in my opinion unusual, but I assure him that public opinion in this country is usually, in the long run, fairly accurate and correct, and we should not dismiss it as something not worth bothering about.
Let us consider what the Motion invites us to do. It invites usto take early action upon the recommendations contained in Part Twoof the Wolfenden Committee's Report, which deals with homosexuality. In my opinion, if we did that, very great harm indeed would be done. Those who support the Motion put great stress on the word "consenting" in the phrase "consenting males". They tell us continually about these consenting males. Have we reached the stage of misguided thinking that we say that, providing two evil people consent, then their actions should be considered legitimate?
§ Dr. Barnett Stross (Stoke-on-Trent, Central)
I am following the hon. Member's argument, especially his reference to "two evil people". We all know that many women cohabit because they have erotic attachments to each other. Would he take his view further and say that we should send them to prison and make their erotic attachment a criminal offence, too?
§ Mr. Lagden
With the limited time which we have for this debate—[HON. MEMBERS: "Answer the question."]—it seems to me that to enlarge the debate to include a discussion of female sin, if hon. Members like to call it that, would take up so much time as to be undesirable. If the hon. Member asks me a question which can be answered in a sentence, I will gladly give him an answer, and I will welcome at some time debating this subject fully with him, but I am not prepared to give him a "Yes" or a "No" to his question, which could easily be used against my argument by subsequent speakers.
1473 In my opinion, since time began those who have been put in authority have always been given a duty to see that good is upheld and evil is punished. I suggest to the House that in many ways over the last few years we have been rapidly moving away from that duty. We have rapidly been retreating from the position of seeing that those who do evil and harm are punished. We should not be as lenient as we have been. Especially should people be punished if their actions, which I contend are evil, have physical and mental danger to those with whom they come into contact.
Those of us who have had anything to do with this subject and have seen for ourselves—
§ Mr. Lagden
Yes. Of course, if you have not studied the question at all and know nothing about it, you are not fit to interject.
§ Mr. Pannell
On a point of order. I did not interject. It is the custom of the House, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, that hon. Members who are not intervening actively in the debate shall not be insulted as an alibi by an hon. Member who has no further cogent argument.
§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker (Major Sir William Anstruther-Gray)
I appreciate the hon. Member's point of order, but in the rough and tumble of the debate we must not be too sensitive.
§ Mr. Charles A. Howell (Birmingham, Perry Barr)
If an hon. Member uses the word "You", does not that mean the Chair? The hon. Member for Horn-church (Mr. Lagden) used the word "You", and I think he should be corrected on that.
§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker
There again, the hon. Member for Birmingham, Perry Barr (Mr. Howell) is quite right, but if the occupant of the Chair were always to protest when the word "you" was used incorrectly, there would be far too many interruptions.
§ Mr. Lagden
I hold your knowledge, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, in much greater esteem than that of the hon. Member for Leeds, West (Mr. C. Pannell), to whom I referred.
1474 Over the last few months hon. Members have been inundated from many sources with literature which, under the cover of stating facts, has in my view endeavoured to influence our opinions and to state the case for the homosexual. In my opinion, all right-thinking people would at best—and I put it at best—think of these homosexuals as people with warped minds who have little self-control. I contend that that is the best that one can say for them. In paragraph 20 of the Wolfenden Committee's Report we read thataccording to the psycho-analytical school, a homosexual component exists … in everybody … and … is universal.That may well be so. That could probably be accepted by most people. But if it is so, it shows how very desirable it is that some self-control and some form of self-discipline should be exercised by us all.
§ Mr. Richard Marsh (Greenwich)
If the hon. Member intends to quote from the Report he should quote it in its context. The Report reads:homosexual component (sometimes conscious, often not)If one assumed that it is often not conscious, it would be rather difficult to deal with it by self-control.
§ Mr. Lagden
I concede the point that if one does not know what one is doing one cannot control it. That is fairly obvious.
Let us consider what the literature has been trying to do. It has largely been suggesting that the homosexual is quite a nice chap. The suggestion is, "Do not be frightened of him. He is really a decent chap". Let us not be too legal about things and not too prudish about them. In my opinion, in the general run the homosexual is a dirty-minded danger to the virile manhood of this country. The right hon. Lady the Member for Warrington (Dr. Summerskill) laughs, but it is important for any country to have a virile manhood and to see that it is not corrupted by such men as these.
It has been stated that we must protect the youth of the country from these homosexuals. I suggest that it is equally important that we protect the homosexual from himself and that we should protect all those with whom he comes into contact, not only youth. I am sure that if many hon. Members had 1475 seen the mental and the physical state to which some young men have been reduced by being corrupted by these homosexuals they would know what was their duty tonight and they would know that they must not allow any change in this law.
We may well be in the position, if we do what we are asked to do, of seeing notices outside anyone's house saying, "Homosexual experiences can be had within". So far as I can judge, legally there would be nothing to prevent that. We have driven the less fortunate sisters of these people into the cellars, where they are now controlled by the criminal population. We must be extremely careful before we allow full rein to these people to practise in this country the very horrible sin of the homosexual.
I agree that if these people are sent to prison they should, if necessary, have compulsory medical treatment there. [HON. MEMBERS: "Of what sort?"] It has already been admitted by the highest medical authorities in this country that many homosexuals could benefit from medical treatment. If they could, and if they find themselves in prison, we should make sure that medical treatment is available. [Laughter.] Hon. Gentlemen opposite seem to think that this is a most amusing subject. I cannot impress upon them too highly that it is so serious and so distressing to those it touches that it merits a little more than their humour and laughter.
Paragraph 11 of the Wolfenden Report contains these words:… self-deception can be carried to great lengths …".We must not deceive ourselves that we are just being fashionable and that it is rather clever today to think that sin does not exist in any form and, where it does, that we should condone it.
I wish to quote from the Daily Express, which received such a glowing commendation from the hon. Member for St. Pancras, North. It said recently:Now that Mr. Robinson and his supporters believe that the climate of opinion—both in and out of Westminster—may have altered, they are hoping for a majority backing on the Labour benches and for a good haul of votes from among the seventy-four new Tory M.P.s 'who entered Parliament last October.I am sure from my experience in the House that the hon. Member will not 1476 get the backing of the Labour Party or his own colleagues on this. I am even more certain that he need not look for such misguided help tonight from the seventy-four new Tory Members of the House.
§ 8.13 p.m.
§ Dr. A. D. D. Broughton (Batley and Morley)
I congratulate my hon. Friend the Member for St. Pancras, North (Mr. K. Robinson) on his very good fortune in winning in the Ballot whereby he was placed in the favourable position of being able to initiate a debate in the House tonight. I should also like to compliment him on the restrained manner in which he put forward his case. But I regret that I cannot congratulate him on his choice of subject. There are so many issues which could have been usefully discussed, and at the end of the discussion my hon. Friend could, if necessary, have led all his right hon. and hon. Friends into the Division Lobby.
On Monday, the Daily Express, a paper with which I usually do not agree, published an opinion that this debate is a waste of time. It suggested that this Parliamentary time might have been used to better purpose. I agree with that opinion.
On the other hand, there was an article in the Observer on Sunday, 19th June, written by the Reverend A. Hallidie Smith, which opened with this paragraph:Part Two of the Wolfenden Report is to be debated again in the Commons on June 29. Since the last debate in November, 1958, little has been heard from Westminster other than the stock cliches that 'this is a difficult and complex problem' and that 'legislation art the present time would be premature.' But among the general public it seems that legal reform is demanded, or at least that its necessity is widely accepted.I can only say that the reverend gentleman and I must move in very different circles. A good deal of Press publicity was given to our debate in November, 1958, and several of my constituents spoke to me about it at that time. But since then I have not heard homosexuality mentioned. Does the demand for a change in the law come from the general public in St. Pancras, North? I doubt it.
§ Dr. Broughton
I am sorry if my hon. Friend and other hon. Friends object to that, but I want to point out that the demand is not coming from the general public in Batley and Morley, because I have not heard the topic mentioned during the last eighteen months.
I suggest to my hon. Friend the Member for St. Pancras, North that he might be well advised to inquire into the source of the present demand. If he does that, he may then find that behind the present small wave of pressure which has swept him to the fore there are homosexuals whose indignation at the attitude of the community towards them and whose fear of harsh laws urge them to try this means towards escape from the wrath of the law. Is it not probable that they wish to be able to ignore public opinion? Perhaps my hon. Friend realises all this and pleads their case because he sympathises with them in their predicament.
§ Mr. K. Robinson
I have been very long-suffering. I cannot understand how anyone can possibly imagine that my motives are any other than those.
§ Dr. Broughton
If those are my hon. Friend's motives and he is motivated by sympathy, let me say at once that he certainly sympathises with homosexuals as individuals no more than I do. In a professional capacity, I have tried to help a number of them.
But I suggest that in our responsible position as Members of Parliament it is not enough to focus our attention on the difficulties of a minority group. Of course their case must be considered, but we must survey the community as a whole and legislate for the good of the majority, even if by so doing it hurts a minority.
The problem that we have to consider is a difficult one, and I believe that we should approach it with great care. First, let us look at the cause of homosexuality. A little is known about this now, and there are several hypotheses put forward. The one which I personally accept is that homosexuality may be regarded as a form of immaturity. That hypothesis suggests that every one of us, in the course of our psycho-sexual development, enters a homosexual phase. That phase occurs at the time of adolescence. It is well known that at that age a girl may get what I believe is called 1478 a "pash" on another girl, and boys hero-worship and idolise members of their sex capable of outstanding masculine achievements. That is the age when youngsters band themselves together in groups of the same sex. Certainly not all of them—only a few—indulge in homosexual practices, and the majority sooner or later develop by taking the normal, daring step forward to heterosexuality. A minority make little or no progress in that direction and remain with a sexual propensity for persons of their own sex.
I need say little about the distribution of homosexuality as my hon. Friend the Member for St. Pancras, North gave it to us so clearly. As he has said, it occurs in all nations, in all parts of the country, and in all walks of life. I have had patients who were well-educated, highly-cultured professional men. Here, let me say to the hon. Member for Hornchurch (Mr. Lagden) that these homosexuals are certainly not all horrible people. As I say, I have had professional men as patients and I have had patients who were manual workers.
What of the numbers? Again, I can do little better than repeat what my hon. Friend said. It is not possible accurately to ascertain the numbers, but I have heard it said, as my hon. Friend mentioned, that about 4 per cent. of the male population is homosexual and indulging in homosexual practices. But if the hypothesis as to cause, which I have attempted to explain, is accepted, it will be understood that there will be many more than that number with some degree of incomplete psychosexual development. At one end of the scale there will be men who are approaching, say, 100 per cent. heterosexual, and at the other end men approaching 100 per cent. homosexual. In between those two extremes there will be a variety of sexual propensities for one or other sex.
It is important to realise that, because whilst I believe that nothing can be done' to change an adult man who is, say,. 75 per cent. homosexual, a man who is, say, 60 per cent. homosexual and 40 per cent. heterosexual can lead a heterosexual life under favourable circumstances.
Another important question that we might ask is: what are the personality types that are homosexual? From what 1479 I have already said, it will be realised that homosexuality occurs in all personality types, but two types ought to be particularly mentioned. The first is described as the adolescent and mentally immature adult, some of whom overcompensate for their inferiority by bravado. They are aggressive types, apt to be bullies, and those of them who are homosexuals I believe are dangerous as homosexuals.
I believe that the present laws keep that type under control to a large extent. Hon. Members, with their wide experience of life and their knowledge of people, will know the personality type to which I refer, and I think that they should ask themselves what kind of behaviour might be expected from that personality type, who is a homosexual, if, by accepting the Wolfenden Report, it appeared that the State condoned homosexuality.
The second personality type to which especial reference should be made is that described in the Wolfenden Report as severely damaged personalities. Some of these are obviously effeminate, flauntingly exhibitionist and deeply resentful anti-social types. Given a change in the law, I believe that those two types would snap their fingers in the face of public opinion. I think that there would be a display of homosexual feeling and a development of a homosexual cult, all of which would be objectionable to the majority of people.
We are aware that already some homosexuals gather together in groups, and instances occur of the seduction of others. Drinking parties are organised as a preliminary to the practice of homosexual offences, and the culprits lack all sense of sin in this respect. Their type of sexual behaviour gives them great enjoyment, and that is all they care about. With the State condoning homosexuality, I fear that that practice would grow. There might even be cases of men who are by their make up, shall we say, 60 per cent. heterosexual and 40 per cent. homosexual, at present living normal. respectable lives, being led astray.
I think, too, that were the recommendations of the Wolfenden Report to be accepted, we might expect to find a display in public of homosexual feelings, particularly by the exhibitionist types. I fear that bullies and seducers 1480 in positions of authority might make homosexual demands on their subordinates. I think that that is possible. I believe that at the present time, little, if any, of that occurs, because if a person in a position of authority asks a subordinate to indulge in a homosexual practice he is asking him to take part in a criminal offence. If, however, the Wolfenden Report were accepted, he would be asking the man merely to consent to something permitted by the law, and it is not outside the realms of possibility that if the subordinate did not agree to this improper suggestion his job might be in jeopardy.
There is a possibility that there would be some increase in homosexual practices. All of those would offend normal people who, after all, are in a majority. It would be a thoroughly bad influence on the young in the difficult period of their transition to heterosexuality. I look upon homosexuality as biologically wrong, and I think, therefore, that any encouragement of it would damage society. It may well be that the law at present is too savage in some cases, and I must say that I was very impressed by the speech which we heard in the debate eighteen months ago by the hon. and learned Member for Epsom (Mr. Rawlinson) on this point, putting forward his ideas about some alterations in the law; but I believe that homosexual practice should remain an offence to show our disapproval of that type of conduct.
My hon. Friend seeks to remedy what he considers an injustice inflicted on a small minority. I can understand his point of view, but I ask the House to consider the effects of such a change on the majority. I think that the effects would be harmful and against the public interest, therefore, I ask the House to reject the Motion.
§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker
In calling the hon. Member for Cheadle (Mr. Shepherd), I want to make it clear that it is on the main Question, because his Amendment has not been selected.
§ 8.30 p.m.
§ Mr. William Shepherd (Cheadle)
I am sure that the House is indebted to the hon. Member for Batley and Morley (Dr. Broughton) for a speech of great moderation which I myself will endeavour to emulate. I must say that I felt 1481 that the speech of the hon. Member for St. Pancras, North (Mr. K. Robinson) was in the best possible taste, and let me say at once, as one who disagrees in the main with the objectives of the supporters of the Motion, that I have a great admiration for those people, both inside and outside this House, who incur public stigma by supporting a policy which is contrary to public opinion a great deal of which is ill-informed.
I would not for a moment attempt to contest the view put forward by the mover of this Motion that it is in any circumstances the duty of the Government to lead on issues before the country. If I really believed that the changes asked for by the hon. Gentleman would really serve the public well, should be with him in standing for those things which a great many people outside the House regard with revulsion and wholeheartedly condemn. I do not for a moment resent what the hon. Gentleman is trying to do, and I honour those who endeavour to right what they feel to be an injustice.
Before I say why I cannot accept what the mover of the Motion wishes us to do, let me mention one or two things on which I hope there is common ground. The first is the very urgent need for research on this question. My hon. Friend the Member for Ashford (Mr. Deedes) was not right when he said that no one had written about this subject until the Wolfenden Report. The references are enormous in their length. Nevertheless, if one reads from Hirschfeld down to West, or later than that, one is still left with the majority of the questions unanswered.
The second thing on which there ought to be common agreement is that this homosexual tendency is, on the whole, generated by early environmental conditions. In addition to much more khowledge of heterosexual affairs, parents should be told something of the dangers of certain types of upbringing which may well influence people to develop homosexual tendencies. I hope we shall have a programme of research not limited to the £5,000 which my right hon. Friend mentioned. I should like to see one of the United Nations organisations spending a great deal of money on a comprehensive investigation of these matters.
§ Mrs. White
Would not the hon. Gentleman agree that it is surely extra 1482 ordinarily difficult to have adequate research into a matter which is a criminal offence?
§ Mr. Shepherd
It is probably difficult to have adequate research into an issue which is (a) a public offence and (b) something which, on the whole, people do not wish other people to know anything about. Nevertheless, I do not think that either of those difficulties is, in fact, insuperable.
The next thing on which we have common ground is the need for a more liberal interpretation of the existing law. My own feeling is that justice is done in these sorts of circumstances by having a deterrent law liberally administered. I view with great revulsion some of the stale prosecutions, such as the prosecution of the homosexual instead of the blackmailer, which take place in this country. I hope that those who are responsible will be made mindful of the view of this House and that there will be, in respect of what may be done in a legislative sense, a much more liberal interpretation of the existing law.
The next thing on which I think we have agreement here tonight is that all homosexuals are not revolting creatures of odious femininity who want to flaunt themselves before the public and who are nauseating members of society. I say at once that there are plenty of that kind. There are the male prostitutes and others who are revolting people. But we must accept, and I really want to bring this home to people outside the House, that the great majority of homosexuals are reasonable people in other respects, many of them struggling bravely against their difficulties and doing their best to live as good citizens. Most of all must we honour those who, having these strong tendencies, fight against them and do not indulge in homosexual practices. I hope that, if the debate does nothing else, it will establish that in the public mind.
It is not enough to base our judgment on sympathy for the homosexual. Society has certain rights and standards which it is entitled to enforce. Our judgment here tonight ought to be a correlation of sympathy for the homosexual and what we regard as just and proper for the vast majority of people in our society.
I am not sure that a great deal of the propaganda on this issue which has been conducted by those who want to 1483 help the homosexual has done so. I suggest that the last two years have, on the whole, made life exceedingly difficult for many homosexuals. Two or three years ago, the man who in middle age had not married would be able to say of himself, and other people would say of him, that he was probably a gay bachelor. With that rather light-hearted and probably quite erroneous assessment of his sexual nature, he would get away. Today, individuals know more about this subject. They have heard a great deal more talk about it and they say other things about the man whom they had previously called a gay bachelor. I wonder whether the proposed changes in the law would be any more helpful to the homosexual than the propaganda of the last two years has been.
The hon. Member for St. Pancras, North was a little unkind to me when he misinterpreted the earlier words of my Amendment, which I am not allowed to move and which I mention only in passing. I want to make clear what I mean when I say that the proposed change would not alter the status of the homosexual in society. This is a very important point for the House to appreciate. As I see it, the homosexual fixes his resentment of heterosexual society on the existing law, but what the homosexual wants is not really a change in the law; he wants to bring about a condition in which he is no longer an outsider, in which he is no longer in a minority, in which he no longer needs to try to hide his true attitude towards sexual matters. He tries to rationalise this in terms of objection to the law.
The real thing which irks homosexuals is that they are different from other people. I am perfectly satisfied that, although there may be some marginal advantage to homosexuals in an alteration of the law, it would not on the whole change the attitude of society to homosexual practices. Therefore, there would be no real advantage to the average homosexual.
I want to underline what the hon. Gentleman said. I thought that everything in his speech was fair and honourable except the fact that he tried to hide from the House that there is a wide variety of homosexual and heterosexual tendencies. If it were the case that we had to deal only with genuine inverts to 1484 whom an association with a woman was revolting, I should have no difficulty in saying where I stand. But, as the hon. Gentleman carefully pointed out, we are not dealing with that. We are very fortunate to have the advantage of a book which has just been published entitled "A Minority". When I have returned it to the Library, I invite hon. Members to borrow it, or, if they are wealthier than I am, they can buy it for 30s.
I think that this book is of transcending importance. It tabulates the views of 127 homosexuals who were interviewed. Let me say at once that this work was inspired by those who want homosexual reform and therefore it is not suspect, as I am. This book states that 20 per cent. of the homosexuals who were interviewed had had regular heterosexual experience at some time during their lives. Therefore, we must not fall into the trap of believing that we are dealing with a helpless minority of men who have only one choice before them, namely, homosexual activity. It is not true, as the hon. Gentleman tried to convince us, that we are dealing with people who have an irresistible compulsion to indulge in homosexual tendencies.
I think that we ought to realise that, although we have sympathy for the homosexuals, they are not the most desirable section of our community and that we have a right as a country to do all we can within humanity to discourage homosexuals, for the benefit of society and, indeed, for the benefit of homosexuals. A life without children and without normal family existence, a life in which one goes into public lavatories looking for one's associations, is not something to which any individual ought to be committed. If by its deterrent effect the law can save a hundred people a year from going on to the path of homosexuality, I think that the element of injustice to a few is justified.
There are, I think, weaknesses about homosexual character which we ought not to ignore. There are serious weaknesses about homosexual character which are dangerous in some cases and certainly disturbing in others, and I am convinced that an increase in homosexual activity would be damaging to the community.
Why do I think that it would be damaging? First, because homosexuals 1485 are, by their very nature, promiscuous. I do not want to blame that on homosexuality, because it is merely the fact that a man is a polyerotic individual, if not polygamous, and when he is freed from the restraint of marriage, as is the case of the homosexual, he indulges his fancy in a number of different directions. But the homosexual is terribly promiscuous. If one reads this report, "A Minority", one will see that about 26 per cent. of the interviewed homosexuals had between 12 and 24 different homosexual partners during the past year. What is more important is that homosexuals are proselytisers.
§ Mr. Austen Albu (Edmonton)
Has the hon. Gentleman any information on the comparable figures for heterosexuals?
§ Mr. Shepherd
That would make a very interesting discussion into which I cannot be led because of the pressure of time and the subject of the debate, but I should be prepared to discuss it with the hon. Gentleman personally afterwards.
A damaging aspect of this promiscuity is that the homosexual is a proselytiser. I ask the House to take serious note of what this report says about these 127 volunteers who are reported on by a body favourable to homosexual reform. It states that 20 per cent. prefer to obtain partners who are not homosexuals and another 30 per cent. are attracted by men who are not themselves homosexuals.
I ask the House to appreciate what would happen if we said to these men, "Society no longer takes a serious view of what you seek to do." I am convinced that the result would be a substantial increase in homosexual activity. I do not know of any responsible authority, homosexual or otherwise, who would attempt to refute that contention.
§ Mr. K. Robinson
The hon. Member indicated that he would prove that homosexuals were proselytisers. He then produced figures which show that 80 per cent. of the sample were not proselytisers. Incidentally, it is not a typical sample, because these are volunteers who answered an advertisement for the purposes of this research study.
§ Mr. Shepherd
The hon. Member is not quite right. The sample was obtained in a variety of ways, as he will see if he reads the book. Neither is it true that 80 per cent. of the sample were not proselytisers. There is another category which alters that figure. I do not want to put this any higher than to say that 20 per cent. of these individuals prefer—I stress "prefer"—to have an association with a non-homosexual and that another 30 per cent. were attracted by the non-homosexual.
I have said that this would mean an increase in the danger to the young and I have been assailed by the hon. Member for St. Pancras, North because I have made this statement. I will endeavour to the best of my ability to support and defend the view which I have taken. It is commonly said by those who support homosexual reform that a paederast is a specialist section of the homosexual, that he will not associate with adults and that those who associate with adults will not associate with young people.
Let me tell the House what this report said about these 127 homosexuals. Nine per cent. of them thought that it was wrong to associate with boys but that they might be tempted. Nine per cent. said that they would take part in homosexual activity with boys under the age of 17. Six per cent. said that they would be prepared to engage in homosexual activities with boys of any age. Instead of the pattern emerging which is said by homosexuals so frequently of a limited number of people who are prepared only to have associations with young boys and of the others who will avoid it, we see that there is a category of 24 per cent. who will be prepared to engage, in perhaps a variety of circumstances, in homosexual activities with boys.
What the Wolfenden Report is asking us to do concerning consenting acts in private is to legalise buggery. Some hon. Members are not quite aware of that. It is not a question of legalising gross indecency as defined in the Act of 1885. We are being asked by the hon. Member for St. Pancras, North to legalise buggery in private, and I would say that there are very compelling reasons why we should not do so.
The hon. Member for Batley and Morley spoke about the dangers of individuals who were homosexuals forcing 1487 homosexual practices upon their subordinates. It is interesting to read in this report, "A Minority", that one employer, who now has, apparently, a large business, and who is himself a homosexual, when he employs anybody, prefers to choose—he has one other category I will not mention—homosexuals, and, presumably, he does his best to see that those homosexuals are promoted, and he boasts that now he has five employees who are homosexuals who earn more than £3,000 a year. That is a glimpse of what is happening today, and of what might be possible on a larger scale if the law were altered.
I would say that the case against the change has been very clearly made, but I would ask the House, and my right hon. Friend particularly, to consider one possibility. Up to the time of the Act of 1885 acts of gross indecency in private among males were not actionable. The Act of 1885 made acts of gross indecency, which are rather lesser acts in the homosexual sphere, illegal, and a penalty of two years' imprisonment was provided for. It seems to me that there is a possibility the House might like to think of making a relatively small amendment which would not meet the total demands of the homosexuals but which might go some way to putting the position at any rate apparently on a more equitable basis.
It is this, that we take away that Section in the Act of 1885. That means that acts of gross indecency among consenting adult males in private would not incur the penalty of the law; but acts of sodomy would still incur the penalty of the law. Let me remind the House that heterosexual acts of sodomy also incur the penalty of the law; and, therefore, homosexuals would not be able to say that they had been singled out for a particular form of treatment, because the law as applied to heterosexual acts of that nature would apply equally to homosexuals. I put that suggestion to my right hon. Friend for consideration. It is obviously not something he can decide upon immediately.
I am sorry to have detained the House for so long, but I wanted to put the reasons before the House why I feel that any major alteration in the law is at this stage wrong. I think that the House is entitled to take the view that it ought 1488 not to be too far in advance or behind public opinion. It is entitled to the view that there are grave dangers attached to the general relaxation of existing deterrents on homosexual activities.
§ Mr. David Weitzman (Stoke Newington and Hackney, North)
The hon. Gentleman has not dealt, has he, with the principal, material point here? What is the effect of the present law in regard to this matter?
§ Mr. Shepherd
I am afraid that I cannot go on much longer. I presume the winding-up speech is due to start.
I have tried to show the House the effect of the existing law. I conceive the existing law as having a deterrent effect upon the marginally homosexual man. I do not think that it has any effect on those unfortunate individuals who are almost completely homosexual. I do not think that if we doubled the penalties, or even if we imposed the death penalty for homosexual activities, we would have any effect on those people who have a distinct and complete homosexual orientation.
But I am convinced that the existing law has an effect on those men for whom there is a choice, who because of their indefinite orientation can swing to either the homosexual or the heterosexual line. In that respect I believe that the existing law is of value to those men and of value to society, and I think that it would be wrong and harmful if we were to make a change which would take from these individuals the stimulus to go along the line of heterosexual activity.
§ Mr. Scholefield Allen (Crewe)
Is the hon. Member aware that on the Report stage Labouchere introduced Section 11 into the 1885 Act? Do I understand that the hon. Member is prepared to have that Section repealed? It was a Section which stole into the Criminal Justice (Amendment) Act in the middle of the Report stage of the Bill, and a Section which the very distinguished judge, Sir Travers Humphreys, condemned. Is the hon. Member prepared to support the repeal of that Section? I think that it would help a great deal if it were repealed.
§ Mr. Shepherd
I do not want to delay the House much further. I have already said that that might provide an avenue of possible compromise. We might consider any compromise, but I believe that 1489 the existing law has its value and that any change as recommended by the Wolfenden Committee would be strongly against the interests not only of the community but of the homosexuals themselves.
§ 8.57 p.m.
§ Mr. Douglas Jay (Battersea, North)
I only want very briefly to give my wholehearted support to the case which was put so moderately by my hon. Friend the Member for St. Pancras, North (Mr. K. Robinson). There seems to me one sufficient reason why the House ought to make the substantial change in the law which my hon. Friend and, indeed, the Wolfenden Committee have urged. It is that our criminal law on this issue at present discriminates against one minority and in doing that, in my view, it infringes on the essential liberty of the individual.
I do not believe as a principle that the State or the law has any right to interfere with the acts of private individuals, whatever they may be and however much one might dislike them, which have no effect on other people. They are surely a matter of conscience and not of law, and it is the mark of a truly free country to leave them to conscience and not to the courts.
§ Mr. Peter Rawlinson (Epsom)
Would the right hon. Gentleman agree, therefore, that he would not have the criminal law interfere with euthanasia, abortion and incest?
§ Mr. Jay
I should have thought that it could be argued that all those practices did have effects on society. I was saying that that was the criterion according to which we should judge.
If anyone really seriously contends that private acts of this kind between consenting adults in private do harm to society I would say two things to them. How can one possibly argue that these acts do so while adultery and lesbianism do not? Surely there cannot be any logic or any ethic in that distinction.
Secondly, I would say that whenever in such issues as these there is a doubt—and there may be a doubt about those mentioned by the hon. Member for Cheadle (Mr. Shepherd)—looking around the world as we see it today, we ought to give the benefit of the doubt to the 1490 side of toleration. I only add this tonight. The letters I have received since the previous debate—and I have received some letters, like other hon. Members—have convinced me that this issue is not, as I admit I previously supposed, a rather abstract question affecting a tiny minority of people. We are undoubtedly concerned here with real suffering, amounting in some cases to persecution and directly affecting hundreds of thousands of our fellow citizens. Therefore, I hope that this Parliament will distinguish itself on this issue by coming down on the side of personal liberty and will remove this seventy-five-year-old blot from our criminal law.
§ 9.0 p.m.
§ The Secretary of State for the Home Department (Mr. R. A. Butler)
I shall try not to detain the House too long so that other hon. Members may still have an opportunity to join in. It may be useful if I say a few things on this subject. We all remember the last debate, which was in 1958, and I think that it was common ground then that no steps should be taken which would be detrimental to the general public interest. I shall come back to that in a few minutes. On that occasion, hon. Members differed widely in their views on whether to implement the Wolfenden Committee recommendations would be injurious to the public interest, and also as to their conclusions on particular questions which one has to ask oneself before deciding this issue.
Having listened to the debate, I find that there is as great a difference of opinion as there was on that occasion. I have found a considerable apposition, just as I have found in the speeches of those who put forward the case, as did the hon. Member for St. Pancras, North (Mr. K. Robinson), great delicacy of approach, and a considerable basis of knowledge, such as was exhibited by my hon. Friend the Member for Cheadle (Mr. Shepherd). So, although we have made some considerable progress, no one who has to legislate or decide on this subject can deny that there is still a very great difference of opinion, and, in my opinion, a very great deal of work still to be done. I hope that my contribution may be of use, in a constructive way, in indicating what we have 1491 been doing since the last debate and in trying to answer two or three of the points made.
Let me come immediately to the suggestion of my hon. Friend the Member for Cheadle, who referred to a small Amendment which would erase from the Statute Book the Labouchere Amendment. That was a matter which I mentioned in my previous speech. I described the state of the law, and I said that we had a combination of the Labouchere Amendment and other statutes, not one statute, but statutes whose substance dated from Henry VIII and before.
I expressed doubt whether, if we had a clean slate we would legislate exactly like this. I remain exactly of the same opinion today. I also said—and I still adhere to the view—that before any prohibitions are removed we should understand what the consequences would be. In my speech, not only am I going to give some account of the progress made since the last debate, but I am also going to ask certain questions, and if hon. Members can answer them on this occasion, or some other occasion, it seems to me that we shall make further progress.
On the question of simply withdrawing the Labouchere Amendment, I cannot tonight make any statement on our intention to legislate. I listened with great interest to the hon. Member for St. Pancras, North, and I also read his article in the New Statesman; indeed, I think that I have read every article that has been written in the last fortnight on this subject. As the hon. Member for Batley and Morley (Dr. Broughton) indicated, there has been a new spate of interest on this subject. I should like to take as an illustration of the views of the hon. Member for St. Pancras, North something which was in his article in the New Statesman but not in his speech.
The hon. Member referred in his speech to the many countries who have changed the law, but in his article in the New Statesman he drew attention to the particularly important example of Norway, where, he says, private homosexual acts between consenting adults may be prosecuted, but only if the prosecution is deemed necessary in the public interest. I take that illustration as an example, not to torpedo the hon. Member or to deny the sincerity of his approach, but to show how very difficult the situation is. This 1492 is very much the same kind of attempt to get the best of both worlds that we found in the speech of my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Epsom (Mr. Rawlinson) in the last debate, when he said that we might get the best of both worlds by keeping the substantive law as it is and narrowly limiting its enforcement.
In fact, he has suggested that prosecutions should be instituted only by the Director of Public Prosecutions, with the consent of the Attorney-General, and that proceedings should be taken only if the public interest so requires. If we could reach a situation like that it might well be the solution of the problem, and I have some sympathy with the end in view. As, so far, my hon. and learned Friend has not been fortunate enough to catch the eye of the Chair, if he develops this point on another occasion I shall listen to what he says, as I have listened to what my hon. Friend the Member for Cheadle has said this evening. I have some sympathy with the end in view, but local administration of criminal justice through chief officers of police and the right of the private citizen to prosecute are essentially features of the legal system of England and Wales.
I consider that a very special case must be made out in each instance before the prosecution of any particular offence is reserved to the Director of Public Prosecutions, with the consent of my right hon. and learned Friend. This is an absolute part of the law of the country, and if we depart from it I am afraid that we shall make a novelty which will not be typical of the British law up to date.
§ Mr. C. Pannell
Is it not part of the present injustice that the enforcement of this law is very patchy, in that in certain counties the chief constables, or whoever is responsible, do not enforce the law at present, while in other counties it is enforced rigorously? Is that a good basis for justice?
§ Mr. Butler
I recently read a newspaper article by Mr. Rolph, who has contributed greatly to this question, in which he suggested that I should give instructions to the police. That is impossible under the general system of the English constitution. I have sympathy with the end which my hon. and 1493 learned Friend has in view, and if he and his hon. Friends can suggest any modification of our existing practice which does not run counter to the existing relationship between the executive and the judiciary, I shall be glad to consider it.
I am making the point that it is very difficult to get the best of both worlds, because there is an objection in principle. It would mean either that enforcement of the law against a particular class of offender, such as consenting adults committing homosexual acts in private, would cease, or that some limited class of offender would be singled out by some discretionary process for prosecution, and all others would be allowed to break the law with impunity?
Not only will there be an objection on grounds of principle, but it will also raise practical problems. If any hon. Member can help me to find an answer to these problems, I shall be glad. For example, who will assess the public interest, and how will it be assessed? How are we to decide it in legislation? What does "consenting" mean? That is a very difficult point, to which I saw no answer in the Wolfenden Report. Why, in the case of a man, should the age of consent be 21, while the age of consent in respect of a girl, in certain Acts, is 16? The Wolfenden Committee excluded the Armed Forces, as my hon. Friend the Member for Ashford (Mr. Deedes) said. Are we to accept its recommendations to that extent? It is very difficult to carry through this reform if we make that big omission.
Lastly, can someone help me to say how we should define the words "in private"? I would remind the House that this is a Private Member's Motion; perhaps that is misunderstood outside. When we are discussing legislation these things will have to be precisely answered, but up to date I do not know the answers, and if I can have some help on that this debate will be of some service.
§ Mr. Butler
Yes, in punishment. I cannot go into it further except to ask for some assistance in reaching a conclusion. There is another aspect of the problem—
§ Mr. R. T. Paget (Northampton)
The right hon. Gentleman has said that we should be creating a precedent if we took from the ordinary citizen the right to prosecute. We should not be creating a precedent. There are a number of Acts under which a prosecution can only be brought with the permission of the Attorney-General. Under the Official Secrets Act one can only be brought with his permission if he certifies that it is in the public interest that it should be brought. We thus have an exact precedent for what is now suggested.
§ Mr. Butler
I am indebted to the hon. and learned Gentleman, who is well versed in law, but I have consulted my right hon. and learned Friend the Attorney-General on this matter and, up to date, we do not see any way through. I offer this to my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Epsom and others if they think it may be of some assistance. We are aware of the precedents quoted by the hon. and learned Member for Northampton (Mr. Paget).
I shall not go into the question of blackmail. My information is that criminal proceedings are rarely instituted in such circumstances. I cannot undertake to issue instructions to the police, but I will make that reference, and my understanding is that proceedings are taken only in exceptional and well-proved and justified circumstances.
My hon. Friend the Member for Ashford laid down three preliminaries before action, and these I accept. One is research, another is to educate, and continue to educate, public opinion—I believe that public opinion is being continually educated on this matter; I do not think that the hon. Member for St. Pancras, North need despair of that and the third thing is that those who speak of these matters should acknowledge the difference between sin and crime, and in attempts to reform the law should freely acknowledge that homosexuality is, in general, an undesirable practice. I have noticed, to my satisfaction, a slight improvement in the last direction. For instance, there was 1495 the leader in The Times today which came down in favour of reform but said that this fight…will not be won by the presentation of homosexuality as something to be regarded as otherwise than unnatural, sinful, and to be resisted wherever possible.It is very much better, if we are to aim at reforming an unsatisfactory law, that we should at least have open statements such as those concluding words of The Times leader about this practice, otherwise I do not think that the reformers will make their case. I said that there was a good deal of work to do when I last spoke. I shall not go into the details asked for by my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Epsom, about the various types of homosexual and the statistics that we might get, because I do not want to detain the House.
I wish to describe, however, the progress we have made. The first is a research project under the auspices of Birkbeck College and financially supported by the Home Office. The object is to compare the psychological and other characteristics of homosexuals sampled from different groups, and to investigate whether those characteristics differ from group to group or differ from characteristics of non-homosexuals. This involves a study of family and social, educational and occupational background, and the personal characteristics of homosexuals who have been convicted of such offences or have been treated in clinics because of such tendencies.
I shall not go into detail, but I have read the book A Minority by Mr. Gordon Westwood. The House will be glad to know that Mr. Westwood is taking part in this project we are sponsoring with Birkbeck College, and we hope that it will provide some uniform and useful information about the cause and nature of homosexuality.
The second line of inquiry which I pursued, following up my promise in the previous debate, is a study not of individual homosexuality but that of groups and the way in which homosexuals associate with them, with particular reference to the means by which and the extent to which homosexual conduct spreads within society. The other way that I promised we would make some investigations and in which we need a great deal more information 1496 is the possibility of influencing homosexual behaviour by psychotherapy or medical means, such as the use of oestrogen. The House may be interested to know that considerable efforts have been made, and are continuing, to add to our knowledge of these matters by the work which has been done by the Prison Medical Services. Here, again, there are limitations in scale, and it is not possible yet to draw any firm conclusions, but we are making progress on the lines which I undertook when I last spoke.
§ Mr. K. Robinson
Does the right hon. Gentleman mean that oestrogens are no longer forbidden in prisons?
§ Mr. Butler
Yes, Sir. I mean that we have made experiments with its use, and when I speak on Friday next at the commencement of our first psychiatric prison at Grendon Underwood, I propose to explain this further and explain in more detail some of the scientific work which we are doing. The opening of this new prison will, I hope, be a new chapter in the Prison Service in this respect.
These experiments and studies will take some time, and I am not attempting to say that it is solely by research that we shall solve this problem. Nor am I claiming that I cannot accept the Motion solely because I am engaged in research. I do not think that that would be honourable. However, I think that research is important as a means of educating public opinion and of finding out answers to some of the fundamental problems with which we are dealing.
I must now conclude by dealing with the main issue, as I see it, after giving the House that progress report. It seems to me that there is one fundamental question to which we are always brought back. There are, unfortunately, people today to whom criminal law and moral law are co-terminous in the sense that they have no other firm point of reference. They consequently consider that if conduct is not prohibited by criminal law, there is no reason why they should not indulge in it. The restraints which criminal law imposes, therefore, still remain important.
I endorse what my hon. Friend the Member for Ashford said, that in a period when religious and ethical 1497 restraints are weak, as undoubtedly they are now—and they should be strengthened—those of the criminal law acquire a special significance. Nobody occupying my responsible position and seeing the state of crime and the state of morality in the country at the moment can doubt that the second line of defence, mentioned by my hon. Friend the Member for Ashford, is not sufficiently strong at present.
Therefore, in the state of progress which we have made so far with public opinion and with our research, I would not regard this as being a time to let down our first line of defence, unless I find an absolutely satisfactory way of doing so.
During this period of research and consideration, we must, therefore, ask ourselves whether the removal of the legal sanction against homosexual conduct between consenting adults in private would weaken the moral sanction against homosexual conduct. Would the removal of the legal sanction make it more difficult or less for the bisexual and the young to resist temptation to homosexual conduct? Would homosexuals be more ready, or less, to break their homosexual associations and to seek medical treatment? Would homosexual conduct spread, or, losing the glamour of its rebellion, would it decline?
The answers to those questions will become less speculative than they are at present in proportion as our knowledge grows, as our knowledge of the social and psychological background improves. Our judgment is likely to be all the sounder not if we shun discussion but if we allow discussion to proceed, if we examine every concrete suggestion made. I think that progress has been made with the positive suggestions made in the debate. I think that progress has been made in the study of this matter by the Church. I refer to another book, Dr. Sherwin. Bailey's book, "Homosexuality and the Western Christian Tradition", which makes a remarkable contribution on these difficult issues.
When I last spoke I said that we would undertake certain work. That we have started. The debate will take the discussion further. I recognise that the present law imposes hardship on the constitutional homosexual and that it 1498 has its own undesirable consequences. I do not believe that the full case for a change has yet been made, nor am I convinced that we are yet in a position to take a final decision on what the precise nature of the change should be. We need more information and we are trying to get it. We need more time to discuss the very fundamental issues which arise in this matter of the relationship between law and morals and more time to weigh the possible, and necessarily speculative, consequences of modifying that relationship.
§ 9.20 p.m.
§ Mr. Anthony Greenwood (Rossendale)
This is the second time on which many of us have spoken in this House on this subject. I hope that hon. Members will appreciate that it is not an easy subject on which to speak and that those who speak in support of my hon. Friend's Motion certainly do not do so with a view to seeking easy popularity. But if it is difficult for us an individuais I think that it is even more difficult for a political party to have an official line on a matter of this kind. I wish to make perfectly clear at this stage that tonight I am speaking for myself alone, not for my party, but I hope that my views will commend themselves to most of my colleagues.
Tonight we have the opportunity, which is all too rare in this House, of being able to speak and to act as individuals. But if we have the right to speak our own minds tonight, I believe that we also have the duty to act as well. I think that it would be a matter for great regret if the House adjourned tonight without having reached a decision one way or the other upon the matter before us.
The debate has shown that this is a widespread problem, probably more widespread than is usually thought. All of us in the House have known public men who have been discredited and ruined, in spite of many years of devoted public service and in spite of characters which were otherwise unblemished, because they gave way to what Freud called a physical or psychological abnormality, or what my hon. Friend the Member for St. Pancras, North (Mr. K. Robinson) called an involuntary deviation.
1499 My hon. Friend the Member for Batley and Morley (Dr. Broughton) reminded us that homosexuals are a minority in the population and that it is our duty to protect the majority. That, of course, is a point of view which all of us would accept, and if I thought that by doing what my hon. Friend has suggested we were endangering the moral well-being of the majority of the population I should hesitate to take the step that he proposes. The hon. Member for Cheadle (Mr. Shepherd) gave us a gloomy picture of what he believed would result from any change in the law. But those possibilities must have been present in the minds of the thirteen men and women who constituted the Wolfenden Committee, and of whom twelve decided to repudiate those dangers and to accept the proposal for an amendment of the law.
Unless one believes that greater moral danger would be done all of us on both sides of the House must remember that we must always be jealous of the rights of minorities. Tonight we have had various estimates of the number of homosexuals in the country. Obviously, it is difficult for any of us to be positive about it. The lowest estimate which I have been able to find is 500,000, approximately the population of the City of Leeds. The highest estimate I have found is that they are nearly as numerous as the population of Wales.
Whatever estimate we accept of the number of homosexuals and if we add the members of their families and their friends—who perhaps share their anxiety and their embarrassment to almost the same degree as the homosexuals themselves—then we are dealing with and proposing to legislate for a substantial percentage of the population. It is a great problem not only from the moral point of view but also from the point of view of the numbers it affects. And it is my own, purely personal, point of view that it is time we acted.
I confess that I was a little disappointed in the Home Secretary's speech. We welcomed the progress report which he gave us upon the research which has been conducted. We know that the right hon. Gentleman's heart is in that research. We welcomed the attention which he gave to it, and we were glad to have the progress report of what 1500 has been achieved so far. But otherwise it was a characteristic speech, of the sort we are accustomed to hear from the right hon. Gentleman—the kind of speech in which he promises us every assistance short of actual help.
He fell back tonight upon the differences of opinion, but I remember that when we were discussing the Wolfenden Committee's Report before and when we discussed the Second Reading of the Street Offences Bill there were strong differences of opinion on prostitution which cut right across party lines; but the right hon. Gentleman was not deterred on the latter occasion by the fact that there was not unanimity of opinion in the House.
I certainly do not intend to do what was suggested by the hon. Member for Ashford (Mr. Deedes)—to accuse anybody of moral cowardice upon this issue. I know the difficulties which the right hon. Gentleman has to face, and I sympathise with him in his position, because this is one of those fields of human life in which morality and law overlap, and the difficulty for all of us who call ourselves Christians is always to know how far the State can legislate in order to make men and women into moral creatures. It is a subject—and I hope that the hon. Member for Hornchurch (Mr. Lagden) will not take offence if I suggest is—which was discussed by Mr. Justice Devlin last year in his Maccabaean Lecture to the British Academy on "The Enforcement of Morals", and which has been dealt with more recently in the current number of Parliamentary Affairs by the Lord Bishop of Exeter.
I hope that all hon. Members will realise that none of us can be too dogmatic or wholly consistent in a metaphysical dilemma of this kind. But does it not seem a little strange to hon. Members in all parts of the House that a State which allows an elderly man to seduce a young girl immediately she reaches the age of consent, which allows a married man to consort with prostitutes, and which allows a woman to resort to homosexual practices with impunity, nevertheless should be so rigid and so harsh in its approach to male homosexuality?
The explanation is that those fields to which I have referred are those in which, with the approval of the Churches, we believe it right to allow a man or a 1501 woman to exercise a moral choice rather than bring those activities within the criminal code. As Sir John Wolfenden pointed out to the British Medical Association the other day, it is significant that only about three-and-a-half of the Ten Commandments are embodied in the criminal code.
I mention these things to show the difficulty which we all face. Those of us who adopt what his Lordship of Exeter called a liberal approach rather than a theocratic approach, resent very strongly indeed the suggestion that we are less firm in our adherence to spiritual and moral values than are those who take a different point of view. But that is the impression which some organs of the Press have striven to create. There was an example in the Sunday Express last Sunday in an article by Mr. John Gordon, whom I always read with pleasure and sometimes with appreciation. That was not my reaction on Sunday. Mr. Gordon described how the homosexuals werewhooping with delight at the certainty of victory".He went on to say:But they may find the moral standards of most M.P.s a little higher than they calculate.It is only fair to stress that those of us who take this point of view—we take it with a certain amount of hesitation and realising the implications that taking it may have—are nevertheless taking exactly the same point of view as those leaders of the religious denominations to whom my hon. Friend the Member for St. Pancras, North referred.
Yet some papers have been apparently at pains to give the impression that the only effect of implementing the Wolfenden proposals would be to legalise homosexuality between consenting adults. I do not think that we can emphasise too frequently that the Wolfenden Report also calls for the imposition of heavier penalties for offences against young people and that it stresses the need for the rigorous enforcement of the provisions about public decency. Moreover, the dangers envisaged by my hon. Friend the Member for Batley and Morley did not seem to influence the psychiatrists who sat on the Wolfenden Committee. If only the true implications of what the Wolfenden Committee recommended were generally 1502 recognised, the few pockets of resistance still remaining would rapidly disappear.
I want to get this legislation on the broad general ground that the present law operates unjustly and harshly against a minority of men, who anyhow lead their lives under a shadow of fear, of guilt, and of feeling different.
The right hon. Gentleman put a number of questions to us, and we shall consider them and consider their implications. If the right hon. Gentleman extended his researches to other countries, he might find in some of them the answers to the questions he put to us tonight. This is a matter upon which we lag behind the other countries to which hon. Gentlemen have referred. However, it is quite clear that the right hon. Gentleman is pursuing a number of inquiries, which will mean that legislation will take time, but I hope that he will not use the researches which he is conducting as an alibi for going slow upon the various solutions which have been put before us. If the right hon. Gentleman would seriously consider and report to us on the practicability of carrying out what he said is now the practice in Norway, it would relieve a great deal of anxiety. And many of the most objectionable features of this law would be removed if there could only be some consistency of application throughout the country. Although we all know the difficulties that the right hon. Gentleman has in enforcing uniformity, he surely cannot have forgotten that he has regular conferences with chief constables, and it would be perfectly easy for him to lead the chief constables along rather more progressive lines than many of them are proceeding along at present.
I suggest to the right hon. Gentleman that he should put to chief constables the undesirability of basing prosecutions upon evidence which has come out in blackmail cases. I suggest, too, that he should urge upon them the desirability of establishing two main criteria before prosecutions take place—first, the safeguarding of young people, and, secondly, the protection of public decency.
Unless the Government go rather further than the Home Secretary has gone tonight, I shall be happy to support my hon. Friend the Member for St. Pancras, North if he sees fit to press the matter to a Division.
§ 9.35 p.m.
§ Mr. Edward Gardner (Billericay)
Having listened to some of the speeches tonight, I have come, very slowly and with some anxiety, to the view that at the present time it would not be possible, if one is looking to the safeguarding of our youth, to support this Motion. The Wolfenden Report is probably one of the best known, most discussed and least read Reports of our times. I have been very surpised by the number of people to whom I have spoken who have never handled the Report, or read it. I can at least claim to have done that. I can also claim some experience in the way in which the courts try to punish homosexuals, and concern themselves with their treatment.
From that experience, limited though it may be, I am satisfied that the view of the Wolfenden Committee that the homosexual is found at all levels of intelligence and society is correct, but we must avoid the danger of blowing up this problem to exaggerated proportions. As the Wolfenden Committee found, the number of practising homosexuals in this country is a very small minority of the population.
I suggest that one can infer from the Wolfenden Report with some accuracy that these people fall broadly into three groups. First, there is the person who is exclusively homosexual—one might describe him as a true homosexual. I do not believe that that person is necessarily an evil person. The true homosexual is frequently born into that state or condition. He has no choice, and it may well be that throughout his life his sexual appetite is directed by nature in one unnatural direction. Then there is the second class of homosexual, who has a choice; who can turn towards natural affections and satisfaction. Thirdly, there is the class of person who is just criminally perverse.
Although I have, as, I am sure, most hon. Members have, a very real sympathy for the true homosexual, I have less sympathy for what might be called the ambisexual, and no sympathy at all for the purely perverse. I think that the reason why most people who are against any form of sympathy towards homosexuals and feel so strongly about this is that they confuse the three classes of persons involved.
1504 The main recommendation of the Wolfenden Report is, of course, that homosexual acts between consenting adults in private should be allowed—or, at least, should not be visited by the criminal law. My view, which, I think, is shared by a number of hon. Members, is that if that recommendation were implemented there would be an obvious increase in the danger of the corruption of youth. I say that because, if the law were so changed, there would be nothing except ethical standards or the condemnation of society—which still, of course, exists—to prevent two males living together as lovers. That, I would suggest, and I put it forward as a matter of commonsense, would be the worst possible example one could give to youth.
§ Dr. Stross
The hon. Gentleman said a few moments ago that he had some sympathy with those who could hardly help themselves because they were suffering, as it were, from an inborn defect. There are other inborn defects, such as a tendency to diabetes, which is a recessive genetic defect, or a tendency to hair-lip. If his argument is not carefully thought out, it means that we have got to send all these people to prison for offending against their own background.
§ Mr. Gardner
I do not want to treat the hon. Gentleman's interjection with anything but respect, but this is something in a category by itself. It is not a disease. It is a state. I have tried to distinguish between categories of homosexuals and I have said, I hope clearly, that I have, as I am sure most people have, sympathy for the homosexual.
§ Brigadier Terence Clarke (Portsmouth, West)
If we are to allow this sort of thing to occur, would my hon. Friend be happy to go into a public house and find a couple of hairy old males sitting on each other's knees and liking it? Is that what we are going to allow?
§ Mr. Gardner
When I express sympathy with the true homosexual it does not mean that I have any sympathy for his activities. I thought that I had made that quite clear.
There is no doubt that the effect of the present law is to prevent the sort of thing to which my hon. and gallant Friend has so colourfully referred. It 1505 is not referred to in the terms which he used, but I think it is covered by paragraph 23 of the Wolfenden Report. That paragraph points out:It must not be thought that the existence of the homosexual propensity necessarily leads to homosexual behaviour of an overtly sexual kind.It goes on to say:Many persons, though they are aware of the existence within themselves of the propensity … successfully control their urges towards overtly homosexual acts with others, either because of their ethical standards or from fear of social or penal consequences …Who can say, and where is the statistical evidence, which of those three deterents is uppermost in the minds of people who are now persuaded not to go in for overt acts?
Another consequence of a change in the law would be that it would not be the true homosexual who would necessarily go with the true homosexual. The other people, the ambi-sexual and the others, would be drawn into the vortex of their unnatural desires. if the law were changed, the adult homosexual—and this is said in the Wolfenden Report—could with immunity not only practise his homosexual acts in private with other adults, but he would with impunity be able to procure or attempt to procure other young men—and a man who is 22, 23 or 24 is still young—to perform those acts with him.
§ Mrs. White
It is true to say that the Wolfenden Report, on the contrary, suggests that there should be heavier penalties for procuring and for keeping disorderly houses for male prostitutes.
§ Mr. Gardner
That is so, but only where the procuring is by third parties. If the procuring is in private, the approach is different. If the hon. Lady will refer to paragraph 115, she will see that reference is made to this point.
There is no magic in privacy. The fact that these acts would be committed in privacy really does not and cannot excuse them. Many crimes, including murder, are usually committed in private.
There is much in the Wolfenden Report in the minor recommendations with which I agree, for example, those which refer to blackmail and to the Director of Public Prosecutions taking over proceedings if the offender is under 1506 21. In my view, however, it is the permanent duty of the House to safeguard youth and the House would not fulfil that duty if it were to accept the Motion.
§ Mr. Denzil Freeth (Basingstoke)
Before my hon. Friend concludes, will he explain something which has been worrying me throughout the debate? If the implementation of the Wolfenden Committee's proposals would result in either a large-scale increase in the number of practising homosexuals or in the perversion of children, why is it that in the countries of Northern Europe which have virtually, implemented those proposals, for instance, Norway in 1944. where there is equal love for children and a desire to protect public morals, there is not found, so far as the Wolfenden Committee was able to discover, any evidence of an increase in the type of activity which my hon. Friend is discussing?
§ Mr. Gardner
There are no statistics to bear this out. If my hon. Friend will look at paragraph 58, he will see it there said:It may well be true that the present law deters from homosexual acts some who would otherwise commit them, and to that extent an increase in homosexual behaviour can be expected.
§ 9.48 p.m.
§ Mr. Roy Jenkins (Birmingham, Stechford)
This debate began with an extremely persuasive and moving though moderately phrased speech by my hon. Friend the Member for St. Pancras, North (Mr. K. Robinson). There has since been no attempt to reply to the extremely powerful arguments he then put before the House. We have just heard a rather equivocal speech from the hon. Member for Billericay (Mr. Gardner) and, a little earlier, we heard what I think it is fair to describe as a deeply prejudiced speech from the hon. Member for Hornchurch (Mr. Lagden) who was hardly able to refer to the subject without a pejorative note creeping into his voice.
1507 The general expression of view which we have heard has been one of sympathy for the problem and a desire to do something about it, but with some hesitation about concrete proposals. Perhaps the most significant speech in this respect was the one we heard from the hon. Member for Ashford (Mr. Deedes). The hon. Gentleman told us that his mind had moved during the past eighteen months sufficiently for him now not to be able to conceive that we could go on keeping the law as it is now and continuing indefinitely to imprison homosexuals, but he said that we should not change the law now. Certain things must happen first, he said.
This was to some extent the view of the Home Secretary also. I certainly did not gather that the Home Secretary was prepared to defend the present law on its merits or to envisage an indefinite period in which it continued to exist.
The hon. Member for Ashford referred specifically to other sexual sins which have been mentioned by Sir John Wolfenden and said that in all these cases, including homosexuality, the general moral sense against them is not strong enough, and cannot be depended upon to hold the position. But no body of opinion in this House suggests that we should legislate against these other sexual sins and that we should make them not merely sins but crimes as well. Further, I do not believe that any body of opinion in the House, if the Labouchere amendment had not been slipped in on the Report stage of the 1885 Act, would now come forward with a proposal for the Labouchere amendment. Certainly the Home Secretary would not do so. I understood the right hon. Gentleman to say explicitly that he would not wish to legislate in this form had it not been done.
§ Mr. R. A. Butler
I said that the Statutes are so complicated and date from such different dates and had been so complicated by the Labouchere amendment that nobody framing the law from the start would do it in that way.
§ Mr. Jenkins
I am sure that the Home Secretary, in view of the general sympathy which he expresses on these matters, would not wish to go on record as saying that he himself would legislate in the form of the Labouchere 1508 amendment if it were not there. That is all that I am postulating for the moment.
The difficulty, as I understand it, and a certain genuine difficulty which arises in the minds of some hon. Members, is that we wish that the Labouchere amendment was not there. Of course, it creates an illogical position between homosexuality and Lesbianism. We wish that it was not there, but it is there and there is a difficulty about removing it lest it be thought that in doing so this House was proclaiming that homosexuality is a good thing.
I do not believe that many people would take that view. In view of the form in which the Motion has been moved and of the general expressions of opinion in the House, I do not believe that many people would take that view. But let us assume that that is a genuine danger in the minds of some hon. Members. Let us also assume that the hon. Member for Ashford—and, I think, the Home Secretary—express a very general feeling in the House when they say that public opinion will move, that we cannot go on indefinitely sending homosexuals to prison, that we will legislate in time and that this change will come about. If that is the case, is it desirable that we should attract the greatest possible attention over a long period by a campaign for the removal of the Labouchere amendment?
Hon. Members who take the view that the present law does grave harm but yet are not willing at present to advocate a change in it take a very heavy responsibility upon themselves. But if it is the view that this will come about, that it must come about and that we must move in a more civilised direction, is it sensible to say that it can come about only as a result of a major campaign which will attract the greatest possible attention to what is being done?
§ Mr. W. R. Rees-Davies (Isle of Thanet)
I am attracted to the hon. Gentleman's argument. I appreciate the desire to remove the Labouchere amendment. That relates solely to acts of indecency between males in private. I do not believe for one moment that the homosexuals of this country want just that. They want the removal of the crimes of sodomy and buggery from the annals of our crime sheet. If I believed that all that they really wanted 1509 was the removal of what was never intended by Parliament in 1885, that could have been done a long time ago. What we realise today is the contrary of this argument. This is the point which we have to meet. [HON. MEMBERS: "Speech"] It is not a speech; it is a point. The point which we have to meet is this: do we believe that we ought to change the fundamental laws of sodomy and buggery in this country? That is the real issue.
§ Mr. Jenkins
In the first place, I wish that the hon. Member would not speak as though one were representing a pressure lobby of homosexuals. In considering this question, I am not concerned only with what homosexuals want or even primarily with what they want. I am concerned with what I think is a reasonable law for a civilised country. In the second place, I am not prepared at this stage, or at any stage in the debate, suddenly to pronounce that I know what would be a better reform of the law than twelve members of the Wolfenden Committee after due consideration recommended. On this matter, I am fully prepared to stand solidly behind the Wolfenden recommendations.
One hon. Member in the debate said that if this proposal is adopted there is a danger that homosexuals will regard it as a victory and will celebrate it as such. It will be much more than a victory if it is done in several years' time after a great campaign, which is, apparently, what the Home Secretary says we must have to get it done. It would be far better that those hon. Members who know in their minds that this position cannot, and should not, be
§ maintained indefinitely should not express sympathy without expressing anything else, but should face the problem squarely now.
§ My hon. Friend the Member for St. Pancras, North was not asking for precipitate legislation. He was asking for legislation in this Parliament. That is a moderate request. I hope that all hon. Members who know that this change must come and who know that it is right will vote tonight in the conviction that that is what they are voting for.
§ There are difficulties, no doubt. The Home Secretary put them up. The right hon. Gentleman can be very good at putting difficulties before the House. He can be extremely good at cutting through them when he wants to. I do not believe that difficulties which other countries have not found insuperable are insuperable here. Do not let us be too complacent. I am not sure that misplaced national complacency is not the major British disease at the present time. Do not let us be too eager to stand out as an island against the general current of civilised world opinion. I hope that we can carry this Motion tonight and give a signal to the Government that opinion has changed and that we want legislation at a reasonably early date.
§ Question, That the Question be now put, put and agreed to.
§ Question put accordingly:—
§ The House divided: Ayes 99, Noes 213.1511
|Division No. 126.]||AYES||[9.58 p.m.|
|Abse, Leo||Edwards, Robert (Bilston)||Jenkins, Roy (Stechford)|
|Allen, Scholefield (Crewe)||Emery, Peter||Jones, Rt. Hn. A. Creech(Wakefield)|
|Atkins, Humphrey||Emmet, Hon. Mrs. Evelyn||Kerr, Sir Hamilton|
|Bacon, Miss Alice||Fitch, Alan||King, Dr. Horace|
|Benn, Hn. A. Wedgwood (Brist'l, S. E.)||Fletcher-Cooke, Charles||Lambton, Viscount|
|Berkeley, Humphry||Foot, Dingle||Lever, Harold (Cheetham)|
|Bourne-Arton, A.||Fraser, Thomas (Hamilton)||Lipton, Marcus|
|Bowles, Prank||Freeth, Denzil||Longden, Gilbert|
|Carr, Compton (Barons Court)||Ginsburg, David||Mabon, Dr. J. Dickson|
|Castle, Mrs. Barbara||Gordon Walker, Rt. Hon. P. C.||MacColl, James|
|Chetwynd, George||Greenwood, Anthony||McInnes, James|
|Critchley, Julian||Gresham Cooke, R.||Maddan, Martin|
|Crosland, Anthony||Grimond. J.||Mallalieu, E. L. (Brigg)|
|Crossman, R. H. S.||Hayman, F. H.||Mapp, Charles|
|Davies, G. Elfed (Rhondda, E.)||Holman, Percy||Marquand, Rt. Hon. H. A.|
|Davies, Harold (Leek)||Holt, Arthur||Marsh, Richard|
|Delargy, Hugh||Howell, Charles A.||Mayhew, Christopher|
|Donnelly, Desmond||Hughes, Emrys (S. Ayrshire)||Millan, Bruce|
|Driberg, Tom||Jay, Rt. Hon. Douglas||Mitchison, G. R.|
|Molson, Rt. Hon. Hugh||Silverman, Sydney (Nelson)||Turner, Colin|
|Moore, Sir Thomas||Skeffington, Arthur||Wade, Donald|
|Noel-Baker, Rt. Hn. Philip (Derby, S.)||Slater, Mrs. Harriet (Stoke, N.)||Wall, Patrick|
|Oram, A. E.||Sorensen, R. W.||Warbey, William|
|Padley, W. E.||Stewart, Michael (Fulham)||Weitzman, David|
|Pannell, Charles (Leeds, W.)||Strauss, Rt. Hn. G. R. (Vauxhall)||Wheeldon, W. E.|
|Parker, John (Dagenham)||Stross, Dr. Barnett (Stoke-on-Trent, C.)||White, Mrs. Eirene|
|Parkin, B. T. (Paddington, N.)||Summerskill, Dr. Rt. Hon. Edith||Wigg, George|
|Pavitt, Laurence||Swingler, Stephen||Wood, Rt. Hon. Richard|
|Powell, J. Enoch||Teeling, William||Wyatt, Woodrow|
|Rankin, John||Thatcher, Mrs. Margaret||Yates, Victor (Ladywood)|
|Reynolds, G. W.||Thomas, George (Cardiff, W.)||Zilliacus, K.|
|Robinson, Kenneth (St. Pancras, N.)||Thomson, C. M. (Dundee, E.)|
|Royle, Charles (Salford, West)||Thornton, Ernest||TELLERS FOR THE AYES:|
|Silverman, Julius (Aston)||Thorpe, Jeremy||Mr. Albu and Sir Leslie Plummer.|
|Agnew, Sir Peter||Grimston, Sir Robert||Morgan, William|
|Aitken, W. T.||Gunter, Ray||Mott-Radclyffe, Sir Charles|
|Allason, James||Hamilton, Michael (Wellingborough)||Neave, Airey|
|Awbery, Stan||Harman, William||Noble, Michael|
|Barter, John||Harris, Frederic (Croydon, N.W.)||Orr-Ewing, C. Ian|
|Baxter, Sir Beverley (Southgate)||Harris, Reader (Heston)||Osborn, John (Hallam)|
|Beaney, Alan||Harrison, Col. J. H. (Eye)||Osborne, Cyril (Louth)|
|Bell, Ronald (S. Bucks.)||Harvey, Sir Arthur Vere (Macclesf'd)||Page, Graham|
|Bence, Cyril (Dunbartonshire, E.)||Harvie Anderson, Miss||Paget, R. T.|
|Bennett, F. M. (Torquay)||Heald, Rt. Hon. Sir Lionel||Pannell, Norman (Kirkdale)|
|Bennett, Dr. Reginald (Gos & Fhm)||Hendry, Forbes||Partridge, E.|
|Bingham, R. M.||Herbison, Miss Margaret||Peart, Frederick|
|Bishop, F. P.||Hicks Beach, Maj. W.||Peel, John|
|Black, Sir Cyril||Hiley, Joseph||Pentland, Norman|
|Blackburn, F.||Hill, Dr. Rt. Hon. Charles (Luton)||Percival, Ian|
|Blyton, William||Hill, Mrs. Evelyn (Wythenshawe)||Peyton, John|
|Bossom, Clive||Hill, J. E. B. (S. Norfolk)||Pickthorn, Sir Kenneth|
|Box, Donald||Hinchingbrooke, Viscount||Pike, Miss Mervyn|
|Brewis, John||Hocking, Philip N.||Pitt, Miss Edith|
|Brooman-White, R.||Hornsby-Smith, Rt. Hon. Patricia||Pott, Percivall|
|Broughton, Dr. A. D. D.||Howard, John (Southampton, Test)||Price, J. T. (Westhoughton)|
|Brown, Alan (Tottenham)||Hughes-Young, Michael||Prior, J. M. L.|
|Brown, Thomas (Ince)||Hutchison, Michael Clark||Probert, Arthur|
|Browne, Percy (Torrington)||Hynd, H. (Accrington)||Proudfoot, Wilfred|
|Bryan, Paul||Iremonger, T. L.||Ramsden, James|
|Bullus, Wing Commander Eric||Irvine, Bryant Godman (Rye)||Rawlinson, Peter|
|Butcher, Sir Herbert||James, David||Redmayne, Rt. Hon. Martin|
|Butler, Rt. Hn. R. A.(Saffron Walden)||Jeger, George||Rees, Hugh|
|Cary, Sir Robert||Jenkins, Robert (Dulwich)||Renton, David|
|Chichester-Clark, R.||Jennings, J. C.||Roberts, Sir Peter (Heeley)|
|Clark, William (Nottingham, S.)||Johnson, Dr. Donald (Carlisle)||Robertson, Sir David|
|Collard, Richard||Kaberry, Sir Donald||Robinson, Sir Roland (Blackpool, S.)|
|Cooke, Robert||Kelley, Richard||Robson Brown, Sir William|
|Cordeaux, Lt.-Col. J. K.||Kerans, Cdr. J. S.||Rogers, G. H. R. (Kensington, N.)|
|Cordie, John||Kerby, Capt. Henry||Roots, William|
|Corfield, F. V.||Kershaw, Anthony||Ropner, Col. Sir Leonard|
|Craddock, Sir Beresford||Lagden, Godfrey||Russell, Ronald|
|Curran, Charles||Langford-Holt, J.||Scott-Hopkins, James|
|Currie, G. B. H.||Lawson, George||Sharples, Richard|
|Dalkeith, Earl of||Leather, E. H. C.||Shepherd, William|
|Dance, James||Legge-Bourke, Maj. Sir Harry||Short, Edward|
|Davies, S. O. (Merthyr)||Lewis, Kenneth (Rutland)||Simon, Sir Jocelyn|
|Deedes, W. F.||Lilley, F. J. P.||Skeet, T. H. H.|
|Deer, George||Litchfield, Capt. John||Slater, Joseph (Sedgefield)|
|Digby, Simon Wingfield||Loveys, Walter H.||Smith, Dudley (Br'ntf'rd & Chiswick)|
|Doughty, Charles||Lucas, Sir Jocelyn (Portsmouth, S.)||Smith, Ellis (Stoke, S.)|
|du Cann, Edward||Lucas-Tooth, Sir Hugh||Spriggs, Leslie|
|Duncan, Sir James||McAdden, Stephen||Stanley, Hon. Richard|
|Ede, Rt. Hon. Chuter||MacArthur, Ian||Steward, Harold (Stockport, S.)|
|Eden, John||McCann, John||Stodart, J. A.|
|Edwards, Rt. Hon. Ness (Caerphilly)||McKay, John (Wallsend)||Storey, Sir Samuel|
|Elliott, R. W.||McLaughlin, Mrs. Patricia||Studholme, Sir Henry|
|Farey-Jones, F. W.||McMaster, Stanley R.||Symonds, J. B.|
|Finlay, Graeme||Macpherson, Niall (Dumfries)||Tapsell, Peter|
|Fletcher, Eric||Mahon, Simon||Taylor, Sir Charles (Eastbourne)|
|Fraser, Ian (Plymouth, Sutton)||Maitland, Cdr. Sir John||Temple, John M.|
|Gammans, Lady||Manningham-Buller, Rt. Hn. Sir R.||Thomas, Leslie (Canterbury)|
|Gardner, Edward||Manuel, A. C.||Thomas, Peter (Conway)|
|Gibson-Watt, David||Markham, Major Sir Frank||Thompson, Kenneth (Walton)|
|Glover, Sir Douglas||Marlowe, Anthony||Thorneycroft, Rt. Hon. Peter|
|Glyn, Sir Richard (Dorset, N.)||Marshall, Douglas||Thornton-Kemsley, Sir Colin|
|Goodhart, Philip||Marten, Neil||Tiley, Arthur (Bradford, W.)|
|Goodhew, Victor||Mathew, Robert (Honiton)|
|Gourlay, Harry||Matthews, Cordon (Meriden)||Turton, Rt. Hon. R. H.|
|Gower, Raymond||Mawby, Ray||van Straubenzee, W. R.|
|Green, Alan||Maydon, Lt.-Cmdr. S. L. C.||Vickers, Miss Joan|
|Grey, Charles||Monslow, Walter||Vosper, Rt. Hon. Dennis|
|Wainwright, Edwin||Wilkins, W. A.||Woof, Robert|
|Ward, Dame Irene (Tynemouth)||Williams, Paul (Sunderland, S.)|
|Watts, James||Wills, Sir Gerald (Bridgwater)||TELLERS FOR THE NOES:|
|Webster, David||Wilson, Geoffrey (Truro)||Mr. Rees-Davies and|
|Wells, John (Maidstone)||Wise, A. R.||Brigadier Clarke.|
|Whitelaw, William||Woodnutt, Mark|