HC Deb 07 February 1962 vol 653 cc430-55

3.31 p.m.

Mr. Sydney Silverman (Nelson and Colne)

I beg to move, in page 4, line 16, to leave out subsection (2).

Clause 4 does something——

Mr. A. C. Manuel (Central Ayrshire)

On a point of order, Sir William. Has your attention been drawn to the very bad conduct of the hon. Member for Kidderminster (Mr. Nabarro), who is taunting hon. Members on this side about a lapse of manners which he had yesterday, which caused a commotion in the House and a slander to be uttered against my hon. Friend the Member for Glasgow, Govan (Mr. Rankin)?

Lieut.-Colonel Sir Walter Bromley-Davenport (Knutsford)

Further to that point of order——

The Chairman

It is not a point of order. The hon. Member for Central Ayrshire (Mr. Manuel), if he is referring to an incident at all, is referring to what happened in the House. We are now in Committee.

Mr. Manuel

I am sorry if I said "House", Sir William. I should have said "Committee". The incident happened after the House had gone into Committee and after the Mace had been placed below the Table. It was that incident to which I was drawing your attention.

The Chairman

I am obliged to the hon. Member of his explanation, but I think that we should get on with our work now.

Mr. Gerald Nabarro (Kidderminster)

Fast asleep, again.

Mr. John Rankin (Glasgow, Govan)


Mr. S. Silverman

Clause 4 does something which is, I think, new in our legislation. It imposes penalties under the criminal law on British subjects for entering the United Kingdom. I think that the Committee will probably agree with me in the view that, if we are to have this extension of our criminal law, the extension ought to be meticulously examined and ought not to go beyond the necessities of the case—if the case, indeed, has any necessities—and ought not to impose an unreasonable burden on the ordinary citizens of this country.

There were a number of Amendments on the Notice Paper which sought to define or limit the actual offences committed by overseas British subjects in a criminal desire to come and visit the national homeland, but these have not been selected. Subsection 2 is not a provision which imposes any criminal liability on the unfortunate British subject from overseas who has managed to evade, or did not know about, or got in without, a proper certificate or voucher or authority, or without compliance with some instructions which the Home Secretary some day is to give to immigration officers. But it applies to all of us who are here already and who are made subject to a penal code—unless all 50 million of us constitute ourselves into a wide network of espionage and stooging generally on behalf of the immigration officers.

In asking the Committe to leave out subsection (2), I invite the Committee to consider carefully what it does. I invite the Home Secretary, even if he thinks my description of the Clause exaggerated and unfair, nevertheless to look at the subsection and consider whether he really wants to have it in the Bill. If any person knowingly harbours any person… The rest of the subsection directs attention to something wrongful that "any person" may have done, but the "knowingly", as I read the subsection, does not refer to that, but only to the harbouring of a person.

Thus, if one has harboured a person who has committed, or who has rendered himself, as it were, liable under subsection (2), even though one did not know of it or had no reasonable ground for believing it to be the case, one is liable, with the word "knowingly" placed as it is in this subsection.

What kind of person is it that one must not harbour? …any person who he knows or has reasonable grounds for believing to have committed an offence under subsection (1) of this section, being an offence committed by entering or remaining within the United Kingdom, he shall be guilty of an offence. So, if someone comes and wants to rent a room in one's house one must presumably inquire who he is and how he comes to be in the country.

That one must do first, because otherwise one will not be able to say, if one harbours an offending person, that one had no reasonable ground for believing that he was such a person, and, in order to be able to say that one had no reasonable ground, presumably one must make reasonable inquiries. If one has made no inquiries, then the defence of not having any reasonable ground will not avail one, because one will be told that a reasonable man would have asked, knowing the law, whether this was a visitor from overseas and whether he had entered legally or illegally.

First, one must ask him who he is, where he comes from, and, if he is from a Commonwealth country, whether he has a voucher and whether he has had permission to land. One must ask all these questions in order to begin to establish for oneself the case that, if he turns out to be a "wrong 'un", one had no reasonable ground for suspecting it and that one therefore did not know.

What is the offence which he may have committed? It is if he enters or remains within the United Kingdom, otherwise than in accordance with the directions…of an immigration officer… One must not only inquire whether the immigration officer allowed him to land, but what directions the immigration officer gave him, and what he has been doing in the meantime, and how long he has been here, and whether during all that time he has complied with the directions.

The end of the subsection says: …any offence under this subsection, being an offence committed by entering or remaining in the United Kingdom, shall be deemed to continue throughout any period during which the offender is in the United Kingdom thereafter. It is a continuing offence which goes on throughout the whole of the remainder of his stay in this country.

One hon. and learned Member yesterday told us that it was obvious that people covered by the Bill and its penalties were people coming here to become permanently resident—I think that he used the word "settle". Such a person might come as a child or young person. He might not have had authority. He might have been here for five, ten, twenty or twenty-five years thereafter, but his offence is a continuing offence and anyone who harbours him, when either knowing it or having reasonable grounds for supposing it, would be guilty of an offence under subsection (2).

It may well be that the Home Secretary or the Attorney-General will say that they do not mean anything of that kind, do not mean to be oppressive, or meticulous, or to take small points against people, and that they will not harry anybody or worry anybody unnecessarily. But it is one thing to say that in support of the Bill and quite another to make sure that nobody, in fact, will be harrassed, or distressed, or oppressed, as a result of the Bill. In a Bill of this kind there is no need to extend the bounds of the penal law anything like so far as is sought by subsection (2).

No doubt it has been included because a perfectionist in the Home Office, or in the Attorney-General's Department, has sought round to inquire with great diligence to see what kind of offence might some day be committed by somebody, and to make sure that no loophole was left and that every door was slammed tight and that even keyholes were blocked up. That is no doubt necessary with some kinds of legislation. If one were talking about bringing noxious drugs into the country, one would be at great pains to see that every possible loophole was blocked up. One can conceive of a number of circumstances in which great particularity would be justified in seeing not merely that no offence was committed, but that no possibility of an offence remained.

That does not apply to this Bill. Is great moral obloquy involved if a reputable citizen of a Commonwealth country gets into this country without having the leave of an immigration officer, or, subject to a direction, with which he complies for a time but which becomes irksome and burdensome or unnecessary, departs from without taking the proper steps to get the direction removed or modified? No doubt an offence is committed, but is it really necessary to go to the lengths involved in this Clause? On what possible grounds is it suggested that one is justified in going beyond that and saying that anyone who rents him a room, or does him a kindness, or anybody with whom he spends a weekend shall himself be guilty of an offence if it turns out that many years ago the immigrant committed an offence which remains a continuing offence by reason of subsection (1)?

3.45 p.m.

There will be created an atmosphere which the Home Secretary, I am sure, does not want. I said yesterday, and I now repeat, that the only kind of sense which the Bill makes is that it is in essence a colour-bar Bill. I do not believe that there is anyone who has followed these discussions who does not believe, as I put it yesterday, that if all immigrants from our Commonwealth countries were white, the Bill would never have been heard of.

Does the right hon. Gentleman believe that subsection (2), which makes it an offence to harbour people who may have committed an offence under the Bill, will apply to anywhere but those districts where there is a large coloured population? Will the Bill produce an atmosphere which will encourage people to regard their fellow citizens as equal with themselves, whatever their colour and whatever their origin? Of course it will not. There will be produced an atmosphere in which people will be afraid to afford any kind of hospitality, to offer help, to offer reasonable lodgings, to look after people, in case it should turn out that they themselves are committing the offence of harbouring under subsection (2).

The Bill is a monstrosity, anyhow, and might almost be a parody of parts of the New Testament. In this the Pharisee will not walk past on the other side, but will call the police force to take the injured person back to Egypt. That is the kind of thing the Government are legislating for. That is the kind of atmosphere they will produce by bringing in the criminal law in this way and applying it in remote cases to people who may be at risk for many years without really knowing what they are at risk about. I urge the Minister to look at this subsection again and consider whether the Bill would not be just a little better without subsection (2) of Clause 4.

Mr. A. J. Irvine (Liverpool, Edge Hill)

I would like briefly to support the Amendment. I am sure that the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Attorney-General and the right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary do not desire to make the Bill an occasion for an extensive superfluous addition to the penal provisions in our law. Having regard to the points put so well by my hon. Friend the Member for Nelson and Colne (Mr. S. Silverman), I hope that they will make the gesture—not a very expansive gesture in all the circumstances, but very welcome—of accepting the Amendment.

What is gained by having this subsection in the Bill? If a person enters or remains within the United Kingdom otherwise than in accordance with the direction, or under the authority, of an immigration officer, it is right that there should be available, given the principle of the Bill, some sanction or machinery to bear against him. But, having done that, he is, as my hon. Friend said, harboured out of kindness, out of charity, by someone.

When the executive authority goes to the house of the person who has harboured the unlawful immigrant, one of two things will have happened, and I ask the right hon. and learned Gentleman to be good enough to have regard to this. Either the immigrant will be there in the house being harboured, in which case he can be apprehended for an offence under the Bill. What, on that hypothesis, can be gained by also making the harbourer subject to a penal provision in the Statute? What in the world is gained, even granted the principle upon which the Bill is founded, by also making the man who is giving the unlawful immigrant shelter guilty of an offence? If the illegal immigrant is in the house and the authorities get him, surely in that way they have satisfied their legitimate purposes.

Alternatively, the illegal immigrant will have left the house. What, on this hypothesis, is gained by apprehending and making subject to penalty the man who has given him shelter, who let him into the stable, and the police have come along when the stable door has been left open for too long and too wide? There is nothing gained for the effective purposes of this legislation by making it an offence on the part of the person who has harboured the unlawful immigrant. What the authorities are legitimately after, granted the principle of the Bill, is the apprehension of, and penalty for, the illegal immigrant.

I suggest to the Committee and to the Government that very little indeed is gained by this superfluous provision that the person who has harboured the unlawful immigrant should be made subject to penalty. I hope that, having regard to considerations of that kind, and to what I admitted at the beginning, and wish to repeat now, my acceptance of the point that the Government do not desire to build on the Bill an unnecessary edifice of penal legislation, the Amendment will be accepted.

The Attorney-General (Sir Reginald Manningham-Buller)

I rise now because it might be to the convenience of the Committee to deal now with the points raised by the hon. Member for Nelson and Colne (Mr. S. Silverman) and the hon. and learned Member for Liverpool, Edge Hill (Mr. A. J. Irvine).

I am glad that the hon. and learned Gentleman realises that it is a necessary corollary of the proposal to control immigration that those who enter illegally, or those who remain longer than they are permitted to under a condition which may be imposed—and, I said yesterday, this is not likely to be imposed in many cases—should be liable to criminal prosecution if they do. This is on the basis, which many hon. Members do not accept, that the control of immigration has to be carried out.

The question arises whether it is necessary to have this provision creating an offence which has been referred to as harbouring, but, with respect to the hon. Member for Nelson and Colne, the version he gave the Committee of what the offence is was slightly misleading. He created the impression that anyone who harboured, in the sense of taking into his premises, or renting a room to, an illegal immigrant, or to one who had remained beyond his permitted time, would be put on inquiry to ask a whole series of questions at any time before he could lawfully permit him inside.

Mr. S. Silverman

Would the right hon. and learned Gentleman advise him not to?

The Attorney-General

The subsection does not provide anything of the sort. I want to make this clear, because this is a fundamental misconception. It is not an offence just to harbour what, to save time, I might call an illegal immigrant. The offence, and the burden of proving this rests on the prosecution, is knowingly harbouring the illegal immigrant, when the owner of the premises knows, or has reasonable grounds for believing, that the person is an illegal immigrant.

Mr. S. Silverman

Having regard to the words or has reasonable grounds for believing", if the right hon. and learned Gentleman were called upon professionally to advise the keeper of a lodging house in the East End of London about the letting of his rooms to a coloured immigrant, would he advise him not to ask any of these questions?

The Attorney-General

I do not think that he is under an obligation to ask any of them. It has to be proved that the lodging-house keeper either had actual knowledge that the person was an illegal immigrant, or had reasonable grounds for believing it. If the illegal immigrant says nothing about where he has come from, or what he is doing, and if the lodging-house keeper asks him no questions, I fail to see how the person harbouring can possibly be liable to conviction. I might not carry the hon. Gentleman with me, but I think that his fears are not justified, and I do not think that this provision can have, or could be expected to have, the consequences he foresaw.

We have considered this carefully, and we believe that this is a necessary ancillary proposal to the creation of the criminal offence of illegally entering or illegally remaining in this country. I think that it is reasonable that people who are prepared to help others to escape the notice of the authorities, knowing that they are illegal immigrants, and to help them to remain here, should themselves be liable to a penalty.

I regard this provision as a necessary deterrent to those who might be tempted to set up a system to assist those who come into the country in breach of the law as it will be if the Bill is passed, or to remain here in breach of the conditions lawfully imposed under the Bill.

This is a necessary provision, though I doubt very much whether there will be any prosecutions under it, because the difficulties of proving that a particular individual has reasonable grounds for believing the man to be an illegal immigrant, or that he knows it, are not likely to lead to many prosecutions. At the same time, it is desirable that we should have this in the Bill so that if need be, in appropriate cases, a prosecution can be brought, and as a deterrent to those who might otherwise participate in the evasions of the provisions of the Bill.

4.0 p.m.

Mr. Ede (South Shields)

I am quite unconvinced by what the right hon. and learned Gentleman has said. At the moment, we have the advantage of having with us the Leader of the House, whose principal article of faith is the brotherhood of man. History shows how that doctrine has compelled people, through the ages, to commit just the kind of thing, on the basis of religion, against which the subsection is directed. The song "John Brown's Body" commemorates a man who believed that where people were oppressed, in the way that this Bill oppresses people, it was a virtue and not a crime to help them. How many miles have some of us marched singing in memory of him!

If there is ever a prosecution under this subsection of the Bill, members of the Society of Friends—whose record in this kind of thing is very honourable—will feel not that they see a black man, but one who was the inspirer of their faith, and who said: Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me…Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me. The right hon. and learned Gentleman may contemplate with equanimity the prospect of prosecuting people who, in this case, will be inspired not by any sordid motive or desire to flout the law, but by the belief that it is part of a Christian's duty to see that no man is oppressed when they can prevent it.

Mr. Michael Foot (Ebbw Vale)

It is hardly possible to add anything to what has been said by my right hon. Friend the Member for South Shields (Mr. Ede). This is a most intolerable proposal of the Government, and I wish to make only a few comments on what was said by the Attorney-General. In mitigation of the horror of this subsection, and in response to a question put by my hon. Friend the Member for Nelson and Colne (Mr. S. Silverman), he said that the best advice he could give lodging-house keepers was not to ask any questions, because then they would not be in any difficulty. I do not know whether he would like to make that quite clear, but he apparently agrees that if lodging-house keepers do not ask any questions they cannot get into any trouble.

That is the advice of the Attorney-General; it is not what the Clause says. The right hon. and learned Gentleman may easily mislead many people by giving such advice. I submit that that is not what the Clause says, and it would be most extraordinary for the Attorney-General of England to be able to say that if people wanted to get round a provision demanding that they should have reasonable grounds for believing that an offence had been committed they could do so merely by not asking any questions. We know that this will work exactly the other way round in practice.

One of the problems in some of the areas to which immigrants go when they arrive in this country—and one of the problems which is designed to be dealt with by the Bill on racial discrimination which is now before the House, and which was introduced by my hon. Friend the Member for Eton and Slough (Mr. Brockway)—is that lodging-house keepers, hotel keepers, or other people who provide housing facilities, already operate racial discrimination.

Despite what the Attorney-General says, the Bill is a direct provocation to hotel and lodging-house keepers to exercise racial discrimination, because if they do so they will be safe, and cannot be prosecuted under the subsection. An immigrant may say, "I am in the clear. I have a voucher", or "I came in under the other Clause under which immigrants are allowed in." The lodging-house keeper may then say, "That may be so, but I have to play safe; I had someone last week who told me that he had a voucher when he did not have one." He is safer if he exercises racial discrimination than if he does not.

The Clause, therefore, clearly encourages certain people to engage in forms of racial discrimination which the Government say that they are against, although they refuse to comply with the request of my hon. Friend the Member for Eton and Slough to help pass his Bill to make it an offence. And the same Government which refuse to make racial discrimination an offence proceed, at exactly the same time, to introduce a provision in a Bill which will encourage the application of racial discrimination.

There is only one defence for the step which the Government are taking, and the action which the Attorney-General has defended—and it is a poor one. Assuming that we accept that this kind of Bill is necessary, and that the Government are determined to have it, the only possible excuse that the Home Secretary can make for inserting this provision is that the Bill is inoperable without it. If the Government say that—and the Attorney-General did not go so far in his defence of it—that is a major argument. But if that is their argument it means that the provision will have a very wide application.

The only possible defence for this provision is that if it is not inserted in the Bill it will be possible to drive a coach and horses through it, but the Attorney-General did not say that; he said that it was a necessary ancillary proposal, or a needed deterrent. He did not claim that it was essential. If he meant to claim that, it is clear that this provision will be applied over a wide area, and that will make its offensiveness all the greater. If, on the other hand, as the Attorney-General appeared to indicate, this subsection will be applied only very rarely—and I think that at one point he said that there would be no prosecutions under it——

The Attorney-General

I said that there would not be many.

Mr. Foot

First, he said that there would be no prosecutions at all, and a moment or two later he said that there would not be many. He can check that in the OFFICIAL REPORT. Let us suppose that there are no prosecutions, or not many—in other words, that this provision is not very important to the Bill. If that is the case, why should not the Government have the generosity to delete it? The provision will affect not merely the persons to whom its terms will be found eventually to apply; it will give a wonderful handle to some people who have been the mast passionate supporters of the Bill but whose support the Government have repudiated.

We know that some organisations in this country are attempting to stir up racial discrimination, especially in areas where great numbers of coloured immigrants are living, and we know that they are trying to intimidate lodging-house keepers and others not to take in coloured immigrants.

Does the Attorney-General believe that these evil organisations will not use this provision in their attempts to persuade lodging-house keepers? Does not he think that they will say, "You now have a perfect excuse for not taking coloured people into your house." Does he think that that kind of thing will not be done? What the Government appear to be saying is that it does not matter whether or not they have the provision, but they mean to insist on it, even with all its evil consequences.

On many occasions the Home Secretary has claimed that he was extremely reluctant to introduce the Bill, that he hates it, has fought against its introduction, and greatly desired not to have to introduce it. If he wishes to show his sincerity in making that claim he should say that he will drop this provision, at any rate. That would be a proof of his sincerity. But if he is not even prepared to drop this provision—which his own Attorney-General says will involve very few prosecutions, and is merely a necessary ancillary proposal—very few of us will attach any credit to his claim that he was reluctant to introduce the Bill.

Sir Hugh Lucas-Tooth (Hendon, South)

Hon. Members opposite have spoken as though this provision were an astonishing novelty, something being introduced into our law for the first time. Over the years many people have sought to enter this country and have been subject to a code of law which, in many respects, is similar to what we are proposing today to enact. Hon. Members who have spoken did not in this respect draw any distinction which I have heard between British citizens and Italians or others. What they have said would have been equally applicable to any person coming to this country——

Mr. S. Silverman

I referred to British subjects.

Sir H. Lucas-Tooth

The hon. Member's comments were in no sense limited to British subjects. He was not making a patriotic speech——

Mr. S. Silverman

The hon. Baronet is mistaken. It may be that I did not make myself clear. But I began by saying that for the first time a criminal sanction was being applied against British subjects entering the homeland.

Sir H. Lucas-Tooth

It is not applying a criminal sanction against British subjects entering this country.

Mr. S. Silverman

Of course it is.

Sir H. Lucas-Tooth

The Amendment with which we are concerned applies to British subjects who are here. It applies to those who are harbouring them.

The language used in the Aliens Order of 1953 has a great similarity to the words in this Bill. In Article 25 (2) of that Order it states: If any person aids or abets any person in the commission of an offence under this Order, or knowingly harbours any person whom he knows or has reasonable grounds for believing to have committed such an offence, he shall be guilty of an offence against this Order… Those words are very nearly identical. They were put into that Order, which is a consolidating Order, and they appear in Orders which were in force when the right hon. Member for South Shields (Mr. Ede) was Home Secretary. The right hon. Gentleman operated those words without difficulty, and I venture to suppose that the words in the Bill can be operated equally effectively and justly under the present legislation.

Miss Jennie Lee (Cannock)

When listening to the Attorney-General I had the feeling that the right hon. and learned Gentleman was taken by surprise, that he was considering the subsection for the first time. I assume that the Attorney-General is a reasonable man. It must have been evident that if we allow this subsection to remain in the Bill we shall favour the artful dodger and the good liar, and cause trouble to all kinds of simple people.

This provision will apply to coloured people, to very poor people. We have to be especially on our guard to protect them. There may be a case involving someone who has taken in a lodger. It may be that a woman is involved who may become confused. She may have heard something or she might say something. It is the simple people who could be easily trapped. An accomplished liar or a more sophisticated person would not be caught.

This subsection will bring the law into disrepute. This is a subsection which the Attorney-General himself says he does not think will be operated often. But it seems to me clear that so far as it may be operated, it will operate against the simpler and more honest type of citizen. The more serious delinquent will know how to escape this very wide net.

4.15 p.m.

Mr. David Weitzman (Stoke Newington and Hackney, North)

The hon. Baronet the Member for Hendon, South (Sir H. Lucas-Tooth) suggested that there was no novelty about these words. There is not. Of course we have provisions of the same kind applicable in other branches of the law. That is not the point. There is a difference in its application in that, for the first time, a British citizen is concerned in this connection. But that is not the point.

I have listened time and again to the Horn Secretary protesting about how sorry he was that the Bill was necessary and how much he regretted that an enactment of this kind had to be placed on the Statute Book. If that be so—I accept, of course, that the right hon. Gentleman was sincerely expressing that opinion—surely the Home Secretary will endeavour to make the Measure as innocuous and harmless as possible. Here we have taken one great step. For the first time we are prohibiting British citizens from coming freely and having the right of free entry to this country. Is it necessary to go further? Is it necessary to make this part of a penal code in the way advocated?

I am wondering how the matter will be dealt with. I accept the position in law as it was so clearly set out by the Attorney-General. I agree that the words in the Bill are "knowingly harbours", and that a person, to be guilty of the offence, has to know, or have reasonable grounds for believing, that an offence has been committed. But how are we to prove an offence? Are we to send a police officer to the house to cross-examine the person concerned and obtain evidence in that way? Shall we seize the person concerned and submit him to a cross-examination?

Just think of the words used by the Attorney-General—I accept them as being absolutely correct—that this Measure will not be used at all, or may be used only on a few occasions. If that be so, why is it necessary to create this offence? I take this opportunity to beg the Home Secretary to think again about this matter. I plead with the Minister not to inflict a criminal offence of this kind by legislation which may not be used, or which is unnecessary. I say frankly that the very fact that we propose to impose a Measure of this kind will create a great deal of mistrust and do a great deal of harm and suspicion. Surely the right hon. Gentleman can give in to us on this point. Surely he can look again at this provision and do something about its exclusion.

Mr. G. M. Thomson (Dundee, East)

I wish to endorse the pleas which have been made by my right hon. and hon. Friends and to ask the Government to reconsider their views. The Attorney-General told us that because of difficulties of law it was unlikely that there would be any prosecutions and that, certainly, any prosecutions there were would be very few. As was said by my hon. Friend the Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. M. Foot), at one point the right hon. and learned Gentleman said that there would be no prosecution and then he qualified that statement slightly. In any case, it seems likely that this Clause will not be used frequently. Therefore, I ask the Government whether they cannot consider the deterrent effect of the subsection as being out of all proportion to the damage which it will do.

After all, the provisions of the Bill as a whole are not directed against criminal activities. It is turning the traditionally free movement of Commonwealth citizens into this country into an illegal act. This subsection will carry that a step further. It is saying that anyone who knowingly harbours somebody guilty of an illegal act is himself liable to exactly the same penalties. I agree with my right hon. Friend the Member for South Shields (Mr. Ede), who said that this could easily involve questions of conscience of great importance to the citizens of this country or, alternatively, to Commonwealth citizens coming to this country perfectly legally.

Some of us in this Committee have on occasions given shelter, comfort and consolation to citizens of the Commonwealth or citizens of our Colonies who live in this country because if they had gone back to the Colonies they would have been subject to arrest. People who are giving shelter to such people in those circumstances might very well find themselves in a grave conflict of conscience.

I make this final plea to the Government. As they know, there is sitting at this moment a constitutional conference of immense importance concerning the future of Jamaica. Hon. Members of both sides of this Committee have had the privilege of hearing the Prime Minister of Jamaica, Mr. Norman Manley, speaking to them in this building during the last few days. What struck most of us who heard him was the singular lack of bitterness in making his views known about this Bill, and his magnanimity towards the people and the Government of this country, despite——

The Chairman

Order. I hope the hon. Gentleman will not go further from the point of this Amendment. It is a very narrow Amendment.

Mr. Thomson

I was about to finish, Sir William.

I was wanting to say that the phrases which the Prime Minister of Jamaica used indicated that he feels sure that the Government will operate the Bill in a benign way when it becomes an Act. The Government have the opportunity here of showing that they are willing to operate the Bill in a benign way by agreeing to take this subsection out of the Clause. If it remains in, it seems to me to be unnecessarily vindictive. I hope that the Government will have second thoughts about it.

Mr. S. Silverman

I apologise to the Committee for intervening again in our very limited time, but we have not heard a word from the Home Secretary on this matter. We have had a speech from the learned Attorney-General, which dealt with the legal side of the question raised here, but it is not the legal side of this matter that is the most important. It is a question of policy.

What is the Government's policy about this? It has been pointed out to the Home Secretary, who has not said a word, that we are here doing a very revolutionary thing, in that, for the first time, we are making it a criminal offence for a British subject to enter the United Kingdom. We have to look at that very carefully, and we want to know what is the Home Secretary's view on the point of policy involved.

Two offences are contemplated here. One is that if a person knows, he can be convicted of an offence under this subsection. If he does not know, he can be convicted of an offence under this subsection if the authority or the court decides that though he did not know, he ought to have known. That is what "reasonable grounds for believing" means. How are we to find out? Are we to have a system of search warrants in order to find out whether there were "reasonable grounds for believing" or not? I will not press that further. What has been said demands a reply from the Home Secretary, and I appeal to him to make it.

The Secretary of State for the Home Department (Mr. R. A. Butler)

I have no hesitation in making a short reply, but I cannot add to the words pronounced by my right hon. and learned Friend the Attorney-General.

We did give this very serious consideration, not only on its merits, but also because we wished to be as reasonable over this, at this stage of the Committee proceedings of the Bill, as we could, as I attempted to do yesterday in the discussion on a variety of Amendments. I am advised by my advisers that in the light of the administration of the Aliens Order, there have been cases in which this power in Section 25 (2) has been necessary. I would be very glad to give way and not include this power in the Bill, but I am advised that it is necessary to include it. I am sorry that that is the case, but it is only after mature reflection that I must stick to

my opinion. In the circumstances, I hope that we may be able to make progress, in view of the limited amount of time at our disposal.

Mr. Eric Fletcher (Islington, East)

We on this side of the Committee are most disappointed with the reply of the Home Secretary. We regard this provision in the Bill as unnecessary, and as an indication that the Government are not being sincere in their desire to operate the Bill in as benign and sympathetic a way as possible. We shall show our resistance to this subsection by dividing the Committee against it.

Question put, That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Clause:—

The Committee divided: Ayes 271, Noes 183.

Division No. 69.] AYES [4.25 p.m.
Agnew, Sir Peter Cooper, A. E. Hay, John
Aitken, W. T. Cordeaux., Lt.-Col. J. K. Heald, Rt. Hon. Sir Lionel
Allason, James Costain, A. P. Hendry, Forbes
Amery, Rt. Hon. Julian Coulson, Michael Hicks Beach, Maj. W.
Arbuthnot, John Craddock, Sir Beresford Hiley, Joseph
Ashton, Sir Hubert Critchley, Julian Hill, Dr. Rt. Hon. Charles (Luton)
Barber, Anthony Crosthwaite-Eyre, Col. Sir Oliver Hill, Mrs. Eveline (Wythenshawe)
Barlow, Sir John Crowder, F. P. Hill, J. E. B. (S. Norfolk)
Barter, John Curran, Charles Hirst, Geoffrey
Batsford, Brian Dance, James Hobson, John
Baxter, Sir Beverley (Southgate) d'Avigdor-Goldsmid, Sir Henry Hocking, Philip N.
Beamish, Col. Sir Tufton Deedes, W. F. Holland, Philip
Bell, Ronald de Ferranti, Basil Hollingworth, John
Bennett, F. M. (Torquay) Digby, Simon Wingfield Howard, John (Southampton, Test)
Bevins, Rt. Hon. Reginald Donaldson, Cmdr. C. E. M. Hughes-Hallett, Vice-Admiral John
Biffen, John Doughty, Charles Hughes-Young, Michael
Biggs-Davison, John Drayson, G. B. Hutchison, Michael Clark
Bingham, R. M. du Cann, Edward Iremonger, T. L.
Birch, Rt. Hon. Nigel Duncan, Sir James Irvine, Bryant Godman (Rye)
Bishop, F. P. Eccles, Rt. Hon. Sir David Jackson, John
Black, Sir Cyril Eden, John James, David
Bossom, Clive Elliot, Capt. Walter (Carshalton) Jenkins, Robert (Dulwich)
Bourne-Arton, A. Elliott, R.W.(Nwcstle-upon-Tyne, N.) Johnson, Dr. Donald (Carlisle)
Box, Donald Emmet, Hon. Mrs. Evelyn Johnson, Eric (Blackley)
Boyd-Carpenter, Rt. Hon. J. Errington, Sir Eric Johnson Smith, Geoffrey
Boyle, Sir Edward Erroll, Rt. Hon. F. J. Joseph, Sir Keith
Braine, Bernard Farey-Jones, F. W. Kerans, Cdr. J. S.
Brewis, John Farr, John Kerby, Capt. Henry
Bromley-Davenport, Lt.-Col. Sir Walter Fell, Anthony Kerr, Sir Hamilton
Brooke, Rt. Hon. Henry Finlay, Graeme Kershaw, Anthony
Brooman-White, R. Fisher, Nigel Kirk, Peter
Brown, Alan (Tottenham) Fletcher-Cooke, Charles Lancaster, Col. C. G.
Browne, Percy (Torrington) Fraser, Ian (Plymouth, Sutton) Langford-Holt, Sir John
Bryan, Paul Freeth, Denzil Leather, E. H. C.
Buck, Antony Galbraith, Hon. T. G. D. Leavey, J. A.
Bullard, Denys Gammans, Lady Leburn, Gilmour
Bullus, Wing Commander Eric Gardner, Edward Legge-Bourke, Sir Harry
Burden, F. A. Gibson-Watt, David Lewis, Kenneth (Rutland)
Butler, Rt. Hn. R. A.(Saffron Walden) Gilmour, Sir John Lindsay, Sir Martin
Godber, J. B. Linstead, Sir Hugh
Campbell, Sir David (Belfast, S.) Goodhart, Philip Litchfield, Capt. John
Campbell, Gordon (Moray & Nairn) Goodhew, Victor Lloyd, Rt.Hn.Geoffrey (Sut'nC'dfield)
Carr, Compton (Barons Court) Grant, Rt. Hon. William Lloyd, Rt. Hon. Selwyn (Wirral)
Cary, Sir Robert Grant-Ferris, Wg. Cdr. R, Longden, Gilbert
Channon, H. P. G. Green, Alan Loveys, Walter H.
Chataway, Christopher Gurden, Harold Lucas-Tooth, Sir Hugh
Clark, Henry (Antrim, N.) Hamilton, Michael (Wellingborough) McAdden, Stephen
Clark, William (Nottingham, S.) Harris, Frederic (Croydon, N.W.) Maclay, Rt. Hon. John
Cleaver, Leonard Harrison, Brian (Maldon) Maclean, Sir Fitzroy (Bute & N. Ayrs.)
Cole, Norman Harrison, Col. Sir Harwood (Eye) Macleod, Rt. Hn. Iain (Enfield, W.)
Collard, Richard Harvey, John (Walthamstow, E.) MacLeod, John (Ross & Cromarty)
Cooke, Robert Hastings, Stephen McMaster, Stanley R.
Macmillan, Rt.Hn.Harold (Bromley) Price, David (Eastleigh) Thomas, Leslie (Canterbury)
Macpherson, Niall (Dumfries) Prior, J. M. L. Thompson, Kenneth (Walton)
Maddan, Martin Prior-Palmer, Brig. Sir Otho Thompson, Richard (Croydon, S.)
Maginnis, John E. Profumo, Rt. Hon. John Thornton-Kemsley, Sir Colin
Maitland, Sir John Proudfoot, Wilfred Tilney, John (Wavertree)
Manningham-Buller, Rt. Hn. Sir R. Pym, Francis Touche, Rt. Hon. Sir Gordon
Markham, Major Sir Frank Ramsden, James Turner, Colin
Marlowe, Anthony Rawlinson, Peter Turton, Rt. Hon. R. H.
Marshall, Douglas Redmayne, Rt. Hon. Martin Tweedsmuir, Lady
Marten, Neil Rees, Hugh van Straubenzee, W. R.
Mathew, Robert (Honiton) Rees-Davies, W. R. Vane, W. M. F.
Matthews, Gordon (Meriden) Renton, David Vaughan-Morgan, Rt. Hon. Sir John
Maudling, Rt. Hon. Reginald Ridley, Hon. Nicholas Vickers, Miss Joan
Mawby, Ray Ridsdale, Julian Wakefield, Edward (Derbyshire, W.)
Maxwell-Hyslop, R. J. Robertson, Sir D. (C'thn's & S'th'ld) Wakefield, Sir Wavell (St. M'lebone)
Maydon, Lt.-Cmdr. S. L. C- Robinson, Rt Hn Sir R. (B'pool, S.) Walder, David
Mills, Stratton Roots, William Walker, Peter
Montgomery, Fergus Ropner, Col. Sir Leonard Walker-Smith, Rt. Hon. Sir Derek
More, Jasper (Ludlow) Royle, Anthony (Richmond, Surrey) Wall, Patrick
Morrison, John Russell, Ronald Ward, Dame Irene
Mott-Radclyffe, Sir Charles Scott-Hopkins, James Watkinson, Rt. Hon. Harold
Nabarro, Gerald Sharples, Richard Webster, David
Neave, Airey Shaw, M. Wells, John (Maidstone)
Nicholson, Sir Godfrey Shepherd, William Whitelaw, William
Oakshott, Sir Hendrie Simon, Rt. Hon. Sir Jocelyn Williams, Dudley (Exeter)
Orr, Capt. L. P. S. Skeet, T. H. H. Wills, Sir Gerald (Bridgwater)
Orr-Ewing, C. Ian Smith, Dudley (Br'mf'd & Chiswick) Wilson, Geoffrey (Truro)
Osborn, John (Hallam) Smyth, Brig. Sir John (Norwood) Wise, A. R.
Page, Graham (Crosby) Spearman, Sir Alexander Wolrige-Gordon, Patrick
Page, John (Harrow, West) Speir, Rupert Wood, Rt. Hon. Richard
Pannell, Norman (Kirkdale) Stanley, Hon. Richard Woodhouse, C. M.
Pearson, Frank (Clitheroe) Stevens, Geoffrey Woodnutt, Mark
Peel, John Stodart, J. A. Woollam, John
Peyton, John Stoddart-Scott, Col. Sir Malcolm Worsley, Marcus
Pickthorn, Sir Kenneth Summers, Sir Spencer (Aylesbury) Yates, William (The Wrekin)
Pike, Miss Mervyn Tapsell, Peter
Pilkington, Sir Richard Taylor, Sir Charles (Eastbourne) TELLERS FOR THE AYES:
Pitman, Sir James Taylor, W. J. (Bradford, N.) Mr. Chichester-Clark and
Pitt, Miss Edith Teeling, Sir William Mr. McLaren.
Pott, Percivall Temple, John M.
Abse, Leo Fletcher, Eric Kelley, Richard
Ainsley, William Foot, Dingle (Ipswich) Kenyon, Clifford
Albu, Austen Foot, Michael (Ebbw Vale) Key, Rt. Hon. C. W.
Allaun, Frank (Salford, E.) Forman, J. C. King, Dr. Horace
Allen, Scholefield (Crewe) Fraser, Thomas (Hamliton) Lee, Miss Jennie (Cannock)
Awbery, Stan Ginsburg, David Lewis, Arthur (West Ham, N.)
Baxter, William (Stirlingshire, W.) Gourlay, Harry Lipton, Marcus
Beaney, Alan Grey, Charles Loughlin, Charles
Bence, Cyril Griffiths, David (Rother Valley) Mabon, Dr. J. Dickson
Bennett, J. (Glasgow, Bridgeton) Griffiths, W. (Exchange) MacColl, James
Benson, Sir George Grimond, Rt. Hon, J. Mclnnes, James
Blackburn, F. Gunter, Ray Mackie, John (Enfield, East)
Blyton, William Hall, Rt. Hn. Glenvil (Colne Valley) McLeavy, Frank
Boardman, H. Hamilton, William (West Fife) Macpherson, Malcolm (Stirling)
Bowden, Rt. Hn. H. W. (Leics. S.W.) Hannan, William Manuel, A. C,
Bowles, Frank Hart, Mrs. Judith Mapp, Charles
Boyden, James Hayman, F. H. Marsh, Richard
Braddock, Mrs. E. M. Healey, Denis Mason, Roy
Brockway, A. Fenner Henderson, Rt. Hn. Arthur (Rwly Regis) Mayhew, Christopher
Broughton, Dr. A. D. D. Herbison, Miss Margaret Mellish, R. J.
Brown, Rt. Hon. George (Belper) Hill, J. (Midlothian) Mendelson, J. J.
Callaghan, James Hilton, A. V. Millan, Bruce
Castle, Mrs. Barbara Holman, Percy Milne, Edward
Chapman, Donald Holt, Arthur Mitchison, G. R.
Craddock, George (Bradford, S.) Hoy, James H. Monslow, Walter
Crosland, Anthony Hughes, Cledwyn (Anglesey) Moody, A. S.
Darling, George Hughes, Emrys (S. Ayrshire) Morris, John
Davies, Rt. Hn. Clement (Montgomery) Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.) Mort, D. L.
Davies, Harold (Leek) Hunter, A. E. Moyle, Arthur
Davies, Ifor (Gower) Hynd, H. (Accrington) Neal, Harold
Davies, S. O. (Merthyr) Irvine, A. J. (Edge Hill) Noel-Baker, Rt. Hn. Philip (Derby, S.)
Deer, George Irving, Sydney (Dartford) Oliver, C. H.
Diamond, John Janner, Sir Barnett Oram, A. E.
Dodds, Norman Jay, Rt. Hon. Douglas Owen, Will
Donnelly, Desmond Jeger, George Paget, R. T.
Driberg, Tom Jenkins, Roy (Stechford) Parker, John
Ede, Rt. Hon. C. Johnson, Carol (Lewisham, S.) Parkin, B. T.
Edwards, Walter (Stepney) Jones, Rt. Hn. A. Creech (Wakefield) Pavitt, Laurence
Evans, Albert Jones, Dan (Burnley) Pearson, Arthur (Pontypridd)
Fernyhough, E. Jones, Elwyn (West Ham, S.) Peart, Frederick
Finch, Harold Jones, J. Idwal (Wrexham) Pentland, Norman
Fitch, Alan Jones, T. W. (Merioneth) Plummer, Sir Leslie
Popplewell, Ernest Small, William Wainwright, Edwin
Prentice, R. E. Smith, Ellis (Stoke, S.) Warbey, William
Price, J. T. (Westhoughton) Snow, Julian Watkins, Tudor
Probert, Arthur Sorensen, R. W. Weitzman, David
Randall, Harry Soskice, Rt. Hon. Sir Frank Wells, Percy (Faversham)
Rankin, John Spriggs, Leslie Whitlock, William
Redhead, E. C. Steele, Thomas Wilkins, W. A.
Reid, William Stewart, Michael (Fulham) Willey, Frederick
Rhodes, H. Stones, William Williams, Ll. (Abertillery)
Roberts, Albert (Normanton) Strachey, Rt. Hon. John Williams, W. R. (Openshaw)
Roberts, Goronwy (Caernarvon) Strauss, Rt. Hn. G. R. (Vauxhall) Willis, E. G. (Edinburgh, E.)
Robertson, John (Paisley) Swain, Thomas Winterbottom, R. E.
Robinson, Kenneth (St. Pancras, N.) Symonds, J. B. Woodburn, Rt Hon. A.
Ross, William Taylor, Bernard (Mansfield) Woof, Robert
Shinwell, Rt. Hon, E. Thompson, Dr. Alan (Dunfermline) Wyatt, Woodrow
Short, Edward Thomson, G. M. (Dundee, E.) Yates, Victor (Ladywood)
Silverman, Julius (Aston) Thornton, Ernest Zilliacus, K.
Silverman, Sydney (Nelson) Thorpe, Jeremy
Slater, Mrs. Harriet (Stoke, N.) Timmons, John TELLERS FOR THE NOES:
Slater, Joseph (Sedgefield) Wade, Donald Mr. Rogers and Mr. Lawson.

4.30 p.m.

Mr. Donald Chapman (Birmingham, Northfield)

I beg to move, in page 4, line 22, at the beginning to insert "knowingly".

My hon. Friend the Member for Nelson and Colne (Mr. S. Silverman), when moving the earlier Amendment, said that we regard some of the powers, offences and penalties in the Bill as too sweeping, and some of the rights of search, and so on, as being too sweeping. We shall be debating that on the Question, "That the Clause stand part of the Bill", and also when we come to the Schedules.

This small Amendment is another example of an attempt to prevent the powers and definitions of the penalties in the Clause from being too sweeping. This subsection says that a person who makes any false statement, false return, or false representation to an immigration officer under the Act shall be guilty of an offence.

This Amendment would provide that he would have to be proved to be knowingly making such a statement before he would be committing an offence. The sort of example I have in mind is that of a man who comes from the West Indies and says that he is coming here and is admitted because he has a particular skill which is required here. That is one of the definitions which allow him entry. When he defines his skill in the West Indies it may mean something quite different from what it means over here.

A man who calls himself a mason in the West Indies probably has very elementary experience of the building trade, but that description is used there. "Mason", or some such word which has a skilled connotation here, may be used there differently and he would not know that he was committing an offence. There may be cases of an unintentional offence being committed. I hope that in the circumstances the Attorney-General will accept the Amendment.

The Attorney-General

I do not think that it would be right to put "knowingly" in that particular position because it is difficult to conceive of a person making or causing something to be made to an immigration officer, a particular return, representation or statement, without knowing it.

The point which I think is in the mind of the hon. Member for Birmingham, Northfield (Mr. Chapman) is that he wants to be satisfied that a person will not be liable to a conviction for an offence under this subsection unless he knows that the statement is, in fact, false, which is a slightly different thing. I think that it could be argued in some of the decisions in the cases that the word "knowingly" would be implied to cover that, but I am inclined to think that it would be better not to leave it at that.

I ask the hon. Member to be good enough to withdraw his Amendment on my undertaking to consider the inclusion of words on Report to make it clear that the person must have knowledge that the return is false, that the statement is false, or the representation is false before he can be convicted. There are various forms of words which are used to make that clear beyond doubt. I do not want to pin myself to any particular form at the present time. One may want words rather similar to the words we discussed when we were talking about "reasonable grounds" as a whole.

There is a formula in Section 1 of the Perjury Act which would cover this point. I will undertake to give it careful consideration between now and Report to make clear beyond any doubt what is intended. If the hon. Member will be good enough to withdraw his Amendment I will insert words which, I think, will satisfactorily meet the point which he wants to be met.

Mr. Chapman

I am grateful to the right hon. and learned Gentleman for what he has said. In the circumstances, I beg to ask leave to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Mr. Fletcher

I beg to move, in page 4, line 27, after "document" to insert "in his possession".

The Chairman

It will be convenient to discuss at the same time the Amendment in line 27, at the end to insert "in his possession".

Mr. Fletcher

This is another example of a case in which it seems to us that the language of the Clause, introducing new offences into our criminal law, has been drawn in a way which is unnecessarily harsh and offensive. Subsection (3, b) makes it an offence for anybody to refuse to produce any document to an immigration officer or to furnish him with any information". It becomes an offence if there is a refusal to produce any document whatever or to give any information whatever.

Surely there must be some limitation to those words. The Amendment is designed to provide that it is an offence only if there is a refusal by the person to produce a document which is in his possession or to give some information which is in his possession. Surely it is unnecessary for the Act to go further than that. I hope that the Attorney-General will regard these as reasonable Amendments which he can accept as an improvement to the Bill.

The Attorney-General

It is certainly not the Government's intention to make the Bill harsh or unduly onerous. It is our intention to make it fair. I am sorry that the hon. Member for Islington, East (Mr. Fletcher) thought fit to use those expressions. As an indication of our intentions, I will tell him that we think that there is ground to limit the documents concerned in the sense which he suggested, but that we do not think it wide enough to say, "in his possession", because the person might pass the relevant document to his wife and then refuse to produce it. We want to think of the right words. The hon. Member is familiar with the wording in another context "possession or power", and we believe that something of that sort is the right formula.

We agree that it would suffice, in respect of information, to make the position clear by including the words "in his possession".

I will ask the hon. Member to withdraw his Amendment and not to move the second Amendment, so that the draftsmen have scope to reconsider this provision with the object of going a little wider in relation to documents than "documents in possession" but going no wider than "information in his possession". We hope to table such proposals on Report.

Mr. Fletcher

I willingly respond to that suggestion. Indeed, I welcome any sign that the Government are prepared to accept reasonable Amendments to the Bill. That is something which we should like to encourage at all stages. On that basis, I beg to ask leave to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

4.45 p.m.

The Chairman

I understand that it is not desired to move the Amendment in the name of the hon. Member for Birmingham, Northfield (Mr. Chapman), in page 4, line 27, after "document", to insert: relevant to his admission to the United Kingdom under this Act I therefore do not propose to call that Amendment, but this will not prejudice the possibility of considering at a later stage the following Amendments: In Schedule page 15, line 25, after "documents", to insert: relevant to his admission to the United Kingdom under this Act". In page 15, line 26, after "any", to insert "such".

In page 15, line 30, at the end to insert "such".

Mr. Chapman

I am obliged to you, Sir William.

Clause ordered to stand part of the Bill.