HC Deb 03 July 1967 vol 749 cc1403-59

Which Amendment was: In page 1, line 9, to leave out 'twenty-one' and insert 'twenty-five':—

Question again proposed, That 'twenty-one' stand part of the Bill.

10.15 p.m.

Mr. Speaker

At our last sitting on the Bill we were discussing, with this Amendment, Amendment No. 13, in page 2, line 13, leave out 'twenty-one' and insert 'twenty-five';

Amendment No. 18, in Clause 3, page 3, line 3, leave out 'sixteen' and insert 'eighteen';

Amendment No. 23, in line 9, leave out 'twenty-one' and insert 'twenty-five';

Amendment No. 25, in line 15, leave out 'sixteen' and insert 'eighteen'

Amendment No. 29, in line 31, leave out 'sixteen' and insert 'eighteen' and Amendment No. 30, in line 36, leave out 'sixteen' and insert 'eighteen'.

The hon. Member for Totnes (Mr. Mawby) was addressing the House.

Mr. Ray Mawby (Totnes)

As you have said, Mr. Speaker, at the conclusion of our last sitting on the Bill we were discussing this group of Amendments which, as I then said, can be roughly broken up into two basic parts. The first part deals with the normal age of consent for consenting adults, as provided in the Bill, namely, 21. The Amendment is designed to change that age to 25.

The more important question, with which I had begun to deal last time, is the change covered by Amendment No. 18 and the subsequent Amendments. Clause 3, basically, seeks to reduce the sentence imposed upon anyone who commits buggery with a person above the age of 16 years. The sponsors of the Bill have said that they were interested in making certain that this practice should be allowed among consenting adults, but they have always pointed out that they wanted to increase penalties for those who interfere with children. Probably all hon. Members would support that idea.

Amendment No. 18 seeks to amend Clause 3, which deals with the man who commits buggery with "another man," as the Bill puts it of or over the age of sixteen … I would have thought that the word used should be "person" because to talk of a child of 16 as a man is a misuse of the English language. The Clause provides that a man who commits this heinous offence with another man of or over the age of sixteen shall, instead of being imprisoned for life as prescribed by paragraph 3 of Schedule 2 to the Act of 1956, be and then there are two subsections, the first of which deals with the case of the man who did not obtain consent from the other party, in which case the sentence shall be reduced to ten years, and the second with the case where the other person gives consent, where the term of imprisonment shall be reduced to five years.

I ask the House seriously to consider this matter because the Bill seeks to reduce the sentence upon a man who commits this offence with a child. These are children, boys still attending grammar school or starting apprenticeships, yet this sentence would be seriously reduced. We should consider whether the sentence should be reduced so much for a man interfering with a child. Second, and far more important, is the question of consent. The Bill provides that, if a party of 16 or over consents to the act, the sentence will be only five years. But how can a child of 16 be construed as having consented to an act which he might not begin to understand?

The sponsors may think that the courts are competent to decide whether he has consented, but we have a duty to society to ensure that they never have to—

Mr. James Dance (Bromsgrove)

My hon. Friend may remember that, when we last discussed this unpleasant subject, I raised the history of two young people who were taken from this country to the south of France—

Mr. Speaker

Order. I hope that the hon. Gentleman is not going to repeat the story. We have a long debate ahead of us.

Mr. Dance

I apologise, Mr. Speaker. There was no question of that. Can we be certain that these people were over the age of 16? I am not sure they were. With these young people, is it consent or some idea that they will have a much more comfortable life? This is important. I am trying to enlarge on what my hon. Friend is saying—

Mr. Speaker

Order. Interventions, like speeches, must be related to the Amendments under discussion.

Mr. Mawby

My hon. Friend has a point, because some young people of 16 are just beginning to develop and are out to experiment with anything. The newspapers and our daily life prove how youngsters want to try all these things, including drugs. Young people of that age are not mature and it is thus wrong to provide that the courts should decide whether a young person consented to an act of this nature. If this is to be so, let us at least provide that the age is 18. Even at that age, many young men have not met life, because they are still going to school or university, and we must give them proper protection. By taking the present line, we are doing nothing to protect young people.

I was under a misapprehension last time, because I thought that the Home Secretary would not have the same powers to intervene, for instance, to let a prisoner out on licence, in the case of a person sentenced to life imprisonment for this sort of offence as he would in the case of a murderer serving the same sentence. The Home Secretary shook his head, thereby giving the lie to the view I held. If he has the same powers to allow a man out on licence when he is under a life sentence in the same way as he has for a convicted murderer, there is no need to reduce the sentence from a sentence of life imprisonment. There will still be the right left to the Home Secretary to release a prisoner on licence if he thinks there are extenuating circumstances or that the person is fit to be let out to the community.

Mr. Speaker

Order. On what Amendment is the hon. Member speak- ing at the moment? We are discussing two ages, are we not?

Mr. Mawby

I am sorry, Mr. Speaker. Perhaps I have strayed out of order. I was trying to show that the change that was made reducing a life sentence to a shorter sentence made no need for this provision. I went on for a little too long in my illustration and moved a little way from the Amendment. I hasten to apologise and to move from that point.

Mr. Harold Gurden (Birmingham, Selly Oak)

I am not clear on what my hon. Friend is saying about this sentence. He referred to it as a sentence for five years—

Mr. Speaker

Order. When an hon. Member is trying to get back into order an intervention should not encourage him to go out of order again.

Mr. Mawby

I do not intend to err again if I can help it.

The important point about these Amendments—I am concerned with the later ones more than with the first one—is the whole question of the boy of 16 years of age compared with the boy of 18, to which age my Amendment seeks to change the age concerned. I believe that the age of consent has always been referred to as 21. Some nowadays think that it should be reduced a little for various activities of adult life. It may be that certain changes might be needed to make it in certain cases a little lower than 21. In this matter it is our bounden duty, whatever we may feel, to protect the youth of the country. If there is to be a change, 18 years of age is the absolute minimum. Because I believe that, I support this group of Amendments.

Mr. Ian Percival (Southport) rose

Sir Spencer Summers (Aylesbury)

On a point of order. For the benefit of those who were not present when the debate on this subject was started, may we know whether there will be two Divisions, one concerning the change from age 21 to 25 and a second one on the quite different proposition to change it from 16 to 18?

Mr. Speaker

That is quite a reasonable point. I have had no request for two Divisions. I do not think that at this stage I can promise two Divisions.

Sir S. Summers

Do I understand you to say, Mr. Speaker, that the question has not yet been decided?

Mr. Speaker

I do not know whether the hon. Member heard me.

Sir S. Summers

No, I did not, Sir.

Mr. Speaker

May I repeat myself? No request has been put to me by those who have put down the number of Amendments to the Bill that they require two Divisions. I have now decided that there will not be two Divisions.

10.30 p.m.

Mr. Percival

Mr. Speaker, you used the charming phrase that you could not promise two Divisions. There are many Amendments being discussed together and we are not called upon to decide only two—

Mr. Speaker

Order. I understood the point put to me by the hon. Member for Aylesbury (Sir S. Summers). I have ruled on it. Perhaps the hon. and learned Member for Southport (Mr. Percival) will speak to the Amendment.

Mr. Percival

All I was trying to do, Mr. Speaker, was to think on my feet and to see whether there was some way of explaining that we are dealing with separate issues.

As you have said, we have a long night ahead of us. I want to make one or two general observations about the Amendments which I should perhaps get out of the way first. We have to assume for the purposes of the Amendment that there is to be a Bill of this kind, and I shall bear that in mind and avoid Third Reading points. But there is another assumption which I can fairly make, and it is that all hon. Members are agreed that even if there is to be a Bill of this kind, it is of the first importance that it contains certain minimum safeguards.

I had hoped when I came here, and still hope, that hon. Members, including members of the Government, would not take these matters lightly, would not assume that they have a monopoly of the right ideas, and would not assume that the Bill is perfect, but would assume that those who have come here to speak—and to speak through the night if necessary—believe that there are proposals which require consideration. We hope that those who say that they regard these matters as important will behave as if they so believe.

My last general observation is that I hope that we shall have no more of the nonsense that we have had in the House and the Press that if someone dares to have a different point of view—on detail, for I am keeping to the Amendment—and dares to deploy an argument about it, that is filibustering. I am sorry to see those, self-styled, of enlightened opinion being so intolerant of the opinions of others.

That was, in fact, my last but one general observation—

Mr. Speaker

Order. Before we start the evening, hon. Members should know that hon. Members who speak to an Amendment will be expected to address their remarks to that Amendment. The Chair will see that they do. The hon. and learned Member has made some useful general observations. He must now come to the Amendment.

Mr. Percival

I am obliged, Mr. Speaker. I made those general observations at that point so that I could make them just once. I hope that the House appreciates that they were made in sincerity.

The matters with which we have to deal on the Amendment are very technical, complicated and important. It is disgraceful that the House is discussing them at this time of night when we are all exhausted. But we must do the best we can. In a matter such as this there is very much a danger of more haste, less speed. I do not know what hon. Members opposite find funny about that. It is typical of the assumption—

Mr. Speaker

Order. Let us begin as we intend to go through the night. The hon. and learned Member must start speaking to the Amendment.

Mr. Percival

That was the very next word in my notes. This group of Amendments deals with age. There are two separate groups. The House must first be clear about each of these groups. I make no apology for assuming that there are, perhaps, hon. Gentlemen who have not got them entirely clear, because it takes some experience in the law to work them out. I have spent, I suppose, 20 years understanding things like this. Certainly, I could not work the difference out—

Mr. Speaker

If the hon. and learned Member cannot address himself to the Amendments I must ask him to resume his seat.

Hon. Members

Hear, hear.

Mr. Percival

Mr. Speaker, I am very sorry, because I do assure you that I am doing my best to come to the Amendments. Perhaps I find them more difficult than some Members, but I assure you that it is not for want of trying.

What one has got to get clear in one's mind in discussing whether the ages should be altered—this is what these Amendments do—is the significance of the difference of these two ages in the Bill. This is what I was coming to next, Mr. Speaker, to make quite sure that the House is clear in its mind what the significance of these two ages is. It is this. Subject to the exceptions in the Bill it will, when the Bill becomes law, be no offence to do the things referred to in the Bill if both persons are over the age of 21. This is the first point one has got to get into one's mind. But it is only the first point in which the age of 21 is significant.

Secondly, as I understand the Bill—if I be wrong I shall be happy to have any hon. Gentleman correct me—these things will be an offence if one is under 21, even if the other is over 21, and then both, as I understand it, would be guilty of an offence. This is my interpretation of the significance of the age of 21 as it stands in the Bill at the moment.

The significance of the age of 16 is rather different. The significance of that age is that the seriousness of the offence is mirrored in the penalty provided, which is greater where the person is under the age of 16. I hope that this is an indication of my good will in the matter, that a good deal of what I want to say on that I shall say on my own Amendment, No. 17, in which there is a bit of overlapping, and so I shall not say it now.

Mr. Speaker

Will the hon. and learned Member now address himself to the Amendments? They are to substitute for the two ages in the Bill, in the first case, 25, and in the second 18.

Mr. Percival

Yes, Mr. Speaker. Now the question is, should 21 be the age which has the two consequences I have just postulated, or should it be 25, and should 16 be the age which has the second consequence that I postulated or should it be some higher age, in this instance 18? What one has to bear in mind here is that everybody, including the most ardent promoters of this legislation, is agreed that we have got to have age limits of this kind. The purpose of these age limits is the protection of the young. So what we have to consider, when considering whether these ages are right, is whether they do, in fact, secure the protection sought, whether to have 21 and 16 secures adequate protection or whether one needs some other ages to get the right protection. It is to that that I address my mind.

The first question one must ask oneself in that context—and I shall direct my mind first to 21 and then to 16, and I shall take 16 very briefly because I believe that my contribution on 16 comes later, in my own Amendment—

Mr. Speaker

Order. We have a very serious debate ahead of us, on very serious issues. I must ask the hon. and learned Gentleman to address himself more precisely to the Amendment.

Mr. Percival

I am sorry, Mr. Speaker but I had thought that I was doing that. I am trying to be specific. I have spent a lot of time trying to be specific, and I address myself now to age 21.

The question one has to ask oneself first of all, is, is whether there is any intrinsic reason why that age should be chosen because, if there is, I, who support an alteration of that age, ought to deal with that point. I have asked myself whether there is, and I want to suggest that there is not. In many instances it has been said that the object of the promoters in many of their provisions is to put homosexual conduct on a par, so far as that is possible, with heterosexual conduct, but here one can gain no assistance. The age of 21 has never had any significance in heterosexual conduct, so one cannot say that there is any parallel that one can pray in aid.

"Age of consent" is a term that has been used, and it may be that there are some who take the view that 21 is a sensible age—because consent is an important element in this Bill—and in some respects it has long been regarded as the age of consent. I want to suggest to the House that this would be a fallacious approach. It has been said that 21 has been the age of consent for marriage for a long time, but I think that every hon. Member will agree that that is really talking about something quite different. It has been the age of responsibility for contracts for some time, but I want to suggest that no assistance is to be derived from drawing a parallel there, because the subject matter is so different. It has been regarded for a long time as the age at which people are allowed to vote—indeed there are many who say that if a man is old enough to fight at 18 he should have the vote at 18, and it may be said that he is old enough to do this at 18 if we are to permit people to do it at all.

I suggest that one cannot justify any of those, and I have not been able to think of any other argument that might be advanced in justification. The reason for choosing an age much higher than has ever had any significance in sexual offences before must be the enormous importance of providing protection up to a substantial age. With that I agree. But I suggest that the promoters, though I agree with their motives for going as high as 21, have not gone high enough.

What are we doing here? It is no good looking for a logical basis or for something else in our law which we can use as a comparison. What we have to do is to try to get what is practicable and will secure the desired objective. I suggest at least three reasons why the age of 21 is a bad choice.

10.45 p.m.

It comes right in the middle of a university career. [Laughter.] I have been busy for these last three weeks, so perhaps my thought processes are slow, but I thought we could discuss this on the basis of protecting young people and the desirability of protecting them up to the age of 25. If that is so, it surely applies to university as to anywhere else.

The proposal in the Bill would mean that if, at university, two people did this, one under 21 and the other over, one would not be committing an offence and the other would, subject to the exceptions made. If they were to do this together, both would be committing an offence. That is the sort of absurdity to which the Bill, however well intentioned, leads. It will bring the law into disrepute.

The second reason is that, at the age of 21, most people are just starting on their careers. Few people are established at that age. Earlier, we discussed what is and what is not genuine consent. I think we were all worried that weak people would be under pressure. Many people are anxious to get established at that age and are vulnerable to pressures. For that reason, too, 21 is a bad age.

Thirdly, life is a hard school and we learn by mistakes. I have made some mistakes tonight and I have learnt by them. We learn by our mistakes. It is by having to take decisions and facing situations that our judgment gets better.

Mr. Speaker

Order. The hon. and learned Gentleman's philosophy of life has nothing to do with the Amendment.

Mr. Percival

With great respect, it has this to do with it—that I suggest that a man is a great deal more experienced in life and judgment at 25 than at 21. Other hon. Members may take a different view. But I believe that it is a fact that a man of 25—although there are exceptions—has more experience and better judgment.

Mr. Dance

Would my hon. and learned Friend agree that the age of 21 is an age when people are seeking to take jobs and—

Mr. Speaker

Order. The hon. Member seems to have the habit of seeking to make a speech under the guise of an intervention.

Mr. Percival

It was that kind of consideration mentioned by my hon. Friend the Member for Bromsgrove (Mr. Dance) that I had in mind in my second reason. But I do not want to dilate on any of these reasons. I have given my feelings. I suggest that these are wholly practical reasons. I am not suggesting that 25 is a perfect age. No doubt one can give other reasons for other ages, but if we mean what we say about protecting the young, then 25 is not perfect. However, it is a much more sensible choice than 21 which will merely introduce further anomalies and the sort of ridiculous situation which leads us in these matters to change the law.

On the proposed change from 16 to 18 years I merely want to say that between those ages a person changes a lot; he becomes much more mature. For reasons so obvious that they do not need a lot of illustration, 16 is too young for the purpose for which it has been chosen. I respectfully ask the House to say that a minimum of 18 should be the figure to he included there.

I apologise for having taken so long, Mr. Speaker, but the only purpose in my being here is to put forward views which I believe to be material. I appreciated your guidance on matters when they were not relevant. I regret that I did stray out of order, but, though I did, let no Member of the House for that reason attribute to me any less sincerity than he may have in the views which he holds. I believe that these Amendments are important and that the ages proposed should be at least the minima and I support them.

Mr. Speaker

Order. The Chair never questions the sincerity of any hon. Member, hut the Chair is determined that hon. Members shall keep in order when they are debating.

Mr. Gurden

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. Forgive me for not quite understanding your Ruling, but I am not the only one who misunderstood about the Divisions. On Clause 3, Amendment No. 18 seems to be a different point. Even if we decide on 21 in this Amendment, Amendment No. 18 throws up a different point and I would have hoped that we could divide on that.

Mr. Speaker

I understood the point when it was first put by one of the hon. Gentleman's hon. Friends, I understood it when it was put again by one of the hon. Gentleman's hon. Friends, and the answer is still the same. There will be one Division on this group of Amendments.

Dame Irene Ward (Tynemouth)

On a point of order. What Amendment are we to divide on?

Mr. Speaker

If the hon. Lady looks at her Notice Paper she will see that the Question before us is that "twenty-one" stand part of the Bill.

Dame Irene Ward

Further to that point of order. We are discussing a whole lot of Amendments, but I do not understand why this particular one has been selected, though I am sure it will be the right one.

Mr. Speaker

I cannot accept that, with the hon. Lady's long experience of the House of Commons, she has never before been in her place when on one Amendment we were taking a number of others.

Mr. Raymond Gower (Barry)

I believe that even among those who strongly support the general principles of the Bill there will be a majority who will support the Amendment now being considered. The sponsors of the Bill, and, indeed, many of those who think like them, want greater humanity in the treatment of those who are addicted to homosexual practices. I am sure that those people would be the first to acknowledge that the least desirable consequence of that would be the extension of homosexual practices to those who do not participate in them already. Any wider spreading of these practices would be extremely undesirable. Young persons of 21 who would be held responsible for the normal consequences of a legal contract nevertheless are much more suspectible to new habits or practices than those who are rather older.

I plead with those who are in favour of the principles of the Bill to take the view that it would be beneficial if we raised the age limit by making this moderate increase. Raising the limit from 21 to 25 would ensure at least that anyone under that age who indulged in a homosexual practice for the first time perhaps would render himself liable to a severe penalty, and I feel that we should be creating a valuable safeguard.

When one considers the other group of Amendments, this argument is of even greater weight. It is accepted by hon. Members on both sides of the House that it would be very undesirable to do anything which might make homosexual practices more prevalent among young persons of 16 and just over, whether with consent or without it. To that extent, the Amendment which proposes to raise the limit to 18 years is a very modest safeguard which the House should not hesitate to accept. It would be most regretable if, by failing to make this slight alteration, we rendered possible even a small increase in the number of persons forced, in the case of an offence without consent, or induced, in some marginal cases with consent, to indulge in such practices.

I plead with the sponsors of the Bill to signify that they are prepared to accept the Amendment which relates to the age of 18 years. I hope to hear them say so at a fairly early stage in the debate, and I certainly hope that the House will accept it.

Mr. Leo Abse (Pontypool)

If I am brief in speaking to this Amendment, I am sure that it will be appreciated that it is out of no discourtesy to the House but because we are dealing with a matter which has been well canvassed in another place and in our own Committee proceedings.

I agree with all those hon. Members who have spoken that it is inevitable and obvious that there must be an element of arbitrariness in any decision on this point. However, I believe that the prolonged consideration given to it by the Wolfenden Committee has resulted in a wise judgment. It has taken the present legal age of contractual responsibility as the best criterion for the definition of adulthood in this respect.

I do not believe that we are talking entirely in theoretical terms. Having been asked to come to a decision on a particular age, the House is entitled to take into account the experiences of other Western European countries to see whether the alarm which is genuinely felt by many hon. Members is well founded. During the last few days, I have had the opportunity to be in Sweden and Denmark, and it may be of interest to the House, at a time when it is considering the age of consent, to learn what has been the experience in both those countries.

In Sweden, where for many years now the age of 21 has been the age of consent, in practice, I am informed by the police there, they do not take proceedings against anyone between the ages of 18 and 21, whom they regard as being an adult in this context, unless there is a special relationship, such as that of master and pupil, which would prompt them in those circumstances perhaps to take action.

11 p.m.

It may also be of interest to the House that in Denmark where for many years they had an age group of 21 they have reduced this in the light of their experience to 18. Lest anyone believe that this must be catastrophic, we should remember that when we speak of Denmark we are speaking of one of the few countries of Europe which has the good fortune to be reducing its criminality—not only stabilising it, but in diminishing it. So I think there is an experience which points, apart from the option mentioned in the Wolfenden Committee Report, to the fact, that 21 is a reasonable age in the circumstances.

As to the suggestions concerning 16 and 18 which have been raised, the House itself must judge as to whether one really needs to feel a great deal of indignation because in the particular Clause in the Bill the sentence as far as buggery is concerned in the relevant age groups is reduced from life to 10 years. And it must take into account, too, that in following this Wolfenden recommendation in the same Clause, in the case of men committing gross indecency against young persons, the two-year maximum is increased to five years.

There is no question of anything more serious than the life imprisonment sentence being reduced to 10 years in the case of those of 16 years, while still retaining life imprisonment in the case of boys. So, although I appreciate the fears that have been expressed by hon. Members, and do not doubt that they feel those fears, I do not believe that they are well founded, and I would recommend to the House that this group of Amendments should be rejected.

Mr. William Deedes (Ashford)

I want to refer briefly only to the first of the Amendments. There is a point here which bothers me, and, I think, bothers a number of other hon. Gentlemen, and that is the real difficulty, which ought not to be underrated, which the Amendment as it stands will create for the authorities at the universities and corresponding institutions.

On the face of it, the Bill adds no difficulties at all, because I apprehend that this offence as it has been under the law has never at universities or like institutions been treated as a criminal offence but invariably as a matter of university discipline. I could be wrong about that, but I think that that has been the case.

The Bill is bound to have repercussions because it will affect what has hitherto been regarded as a proper matter for discipline. I foresee two difficulties here. First, there is the age of legality, though I differ from my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Southport (Mr. Percival) because I should have thought that the bulk of undergraduates at universities today are under 21; none the less, the age of 21 will certainly cross the university community, if I may put it that way. As the Bill stands, homosexual acts between two individuals over 21 are licit whereas where one is over 21 and one is under 21 they become illicit. I readily accept that the first Amendment will not really meet the point. Even if one draws a line at 25 one still comes across the cross section of the residential community.

But there remains the effect of the Bill on those who will have to uphold discipline after it has become an Act. Male and female students can be disciplined for all misconduct between them because it involves an elementary breach of a rule about the hours at which they can visit each others colleges. No such consideration will apply as between one male and another, and to this extent the issue of morality and the right to discipline becomes much more and not less difficult.

In effect, the dividing line will become not sex, but age, which may turn on only a month or two. Two consenting males aged over 21 in a college will be within the law and will argue that their behaviour is a matter for private consideration only. But what happens when there are two consenting males, one of whom is a few months under 21? A criminal offence has been committed which would almost certainly be regarded as a matter for discipline within the university.

No doubt everything will be handled with discretion by the authorities. The last thing I want to do is to suggest that they have not got plenty of experience and cannot deal with such matters. But this illustrates some of the real difficulties to which the Bill will give rise, and which perhaps some of the sponsors—I do not say this of the hon. Member for Pontypool (Mr. Abse)—are apt to treat too lightly.

In dealing with such an Amendment, we do not finish our duties by saying that the bulk of the population desires a change in the law and that there is the end of the matter. We have a duty to weigh the consequences of what will be done for some people. I have no doubt that in this instance we shall leave a very difficult matter to be resolved by authorities at universities and elsewhere.

My conclusion is that changing the age limit will make no contribution, and, therefore, in a sense I reluctantly reject the Amendment. Perhaps the matter should have further consideration at a later stage, but I suppose that it is too late now.

Sir S. Summers

I was surprised at the conclusion my right hon. Friend the Member for Ashford (Mr. Deedes) drew from his own arguments. The whole burden of his speech was that to have a dividing line at 21, which would cut right across the university community, made 21 a bad age to choose. Yet, having given all the reasons why the problem differed from problems of heterosexual activities, he apparently did not follow his argument to its logical conclusion and decide to support the Amendment.

I support it. The more I hear of the debate—and this is the first time I have listened to and taken part in the debate on the Bill—the more absurd it seems to me to argue that this change in the law makes sense because it gets nearer the law on heterosexual activities. In this context, an age limit of 16, 18, 21 or 25 is completely different from that in the heterosexual law.

I support the proposition to increase the age to 25 for the very simple reason that I fear that as the years go by whatever age is chosen will be the victim of arguments to reduce it by first one year and then another. Every decade it is alleged that young people are more mature. We hear talk of people voting at 18. Therefore, the higher the figure at which we start, the safer will be the situation 10 or 20 years' hence. This is a very elementary way of looking at the problem, but I should feel much happier that in 10 or 20 years a more reasonable age would follow if we started at 25 than if we started at 21.

I am sorry that Mr. Speaker ruled that we could not express ourselves in a separate Division on the proposition of 18 versus 16. It is not for me to challenge his Ruling, but it is proper for me to regret that one of the reasons which he advanced for his decision was that those who tabled the Amendments did not ask for a separate Division and that the application had been made only by me earlier.

I listened with attention to the hon. Member for Pontypool (Mr. Abse) telling us of the experience which he had discovered on the Continent. He was at pains to say that in Sweden, during the period between 18 and 21, the blind eye was turned. I thought that the sponsors of the Bill disliked the discretion existing to the police and advanced as one of the reasons for the Bill the elimination of the element of discretion. It seemed strange to me, therefore, that the hon. Gentleman should advance as an argument for his case that discretion was applied effectively in Sweden.

The same reasons apply to lifting the age from 16 to 18 as apply to raising it from 21 to 25. With the Amendments there would be a gap of seven years. The Bill proposes a gap of five years. The gap of seven years is to be preferred. I do not propose to advance any further arguments other than to say how much I hope that the House will decide to raise the age from 16 to 18 and from 21 to 25.

Mr. J. T. Price (Westhoughton)

Like the hon. Member for Aylesbury (Sir S. Summers), I listened with surprise to the observations of the right hon. Member for Ashford (Mr. Deedes). I, too, think that he ran away from the logic of his argument. He referred to the practice in universities as it might apply under the proposed legislation. He seemed to say that we are dealing with a closed community, that the university authorities would normally deal with questions of indiscipline and the proctors would report them to the authorities. That may be all right when dealing with the ordinary re- lationship which might exist between a girl student and a man student, a heterosexual relationship in which there is a mutual attraction, with the usual result.

But everyone, including even the Bill's sponsors and those who think that reform of the law is necessary, has come round to the admission that this form of depravity is a source of corruption of young people; and where could corruption have the greatest opportunity of manifesting itself other than within the closed confines of a university?

Sir Gerald Nabarro (Worcestershire, South)


Mr. Price

I believe in calling things by their proper name and I shall try to remain strictly relevant to the issues contained in the Amendments.

If we are dealing with a population of "freshers", as they are called when they go to university at 17 or 18, and stay for four or five years until they are well past the age of consent of 21, we are dealing with a mixed group of people.

Mr. Gurden rose

Mr. Price

I know that the hon. Gentleman wishes to assist, but I am capable of pursuing this argument logically and without getting super-heated about it.

We are dealing with a group of people, which may run to several thousands, who consider that it is being "with it" to respond to every modern idiom which is fashionable—to take drugs and to do all sorts of stupid things which are one of the privileges of youth; in other words, to sow wild oats. The Amendment indicates that the age in the Bill is much too young, even if one accepted the necessity for the Bill, which I do not. That is too wide a question for me to debate tonight, when we are dealing with a group of people, in a university.

11.15 p.m.

Nothing more destructive for the sponsors of the Bill could have been said than was said by the right hon. Member for Ashford. The police would rarely, if ever, take action if an information that something were happening between a boy of 21 or 22, within the sphere of legality, and a junior boy, new to the university. One of the things about homosexuals is that they are always looking for new recruits.

One will find people "hooked", not only with drugs, including heroin, but with this, because it might appear to them to be the done thing, to be done from time to time. The arguments advanced by the right hon. Member for Ashford tended more to show that the age should be raised higher, to 25 perhaps, and that one would then approach a gap between the newcomers and the practised homosexuals—and drug addicts—who may be able to live with homosexual activities and lead others into the fold.

Then we come to the dichotomy between 21 as the age of consent and the junior partner in the enterprise, if it is right to call it an enterprise. The junior partner would be under 21, and perhaps as young as 16 or 17½. Yet, because of differentiation in penalty, neither the House nor the Wolfenden Committee are prepared to admit that the person suffering the greatest personal injury, and at the greatest psychological risk, is the person "hooked" at 15 who does not know what it is all about. The arguments advanced by the right hon. Member for Ashford about this are very casual and complacent. One can be too sophisticated. All reality is disappearing because people are becoming too sophisticated and are prepared to take a casual attitude. I do not care if anybody calls me "old hat" or "old-fashioned". If the House passes this in its present form without realising that we are dealing with something which may corrupt and deprave the rising generation, we may be condemned.

Mr. W. R. Rees-Davies (Isle of Thanet)

I am delighted that the Leader of the House has woken up after that delightful speech. I do not dissent from the observations of the hon. Member for Westhoughton (Mr. J.T. Price) when he says we want a rather less sophisticated approach.

I had lunch with the Secretary of the Congress Party of India who expressed horror that the Government could have extra time for this Bill in the present circumstances. The attitude of many overseas countries to the suggestion that those of 21—

Mr. Deputy Speaker (Mr. Sydney Irving)

Order. The hon. Member is not addressing himself to the Amendment.

Mr. Rees-Davies

I was coming straight to it, Mr. Deputy Speaker.

The suggestion that those of 21 years of age should be given complete freedom to engage in acts of buggery without any kind of control or criminal sanction whatsoever is one which is completely contrary to nature. It has been far too frequently overlooked, particularly by the Press, that what we are concerned with first and foremost in this debate and on the Amendment is the basic fact that we are seeking to offer a complete right to do as one pleases on matters that are contrary to the normal nature of mankind. This is violently objected to by many of the countries in the Commonwealth as contravening the ordinary laws of nature.

Mr. Deputy Speaker

Order. We are discussing, not the principles of the Bill, but the Amendments which are before the House, which are related to the question of age. Will the hon. Member address himself to that subject?

Mr. Rees-Davies

I will, Mr. Deputy Speaker. May I draw your attention to the fact that the age is governed by the words "a homosexual act"? Therefore—and this has been overlooked in this part of the debate—the main question of concern is the nature of the homosexual act.

When considering what the age shall be, whether it shall be 21 or 25, we have to consider whether the permissive act is a homosexual act of sodomy or a homosexual act of permitted masturbation. In the days when this was the subject of discussion in 1885 on the Criminal Law Amendment Act, the whole course of the debate never turned upon argument that buggery would ever be allowed in Britain. This was nonsense. It was not until the modern age of the last few years, and the ludicrous and puerile practices of the present society that wants to carry the Bill through, that it was ever suggested that the crime of buggery would be permitted in Britain.

The point I want to make—it has been overlooked in the debate and I shall come back to it as we go through in the course of our argument—is this. The Bill provides in page 1, line 7—it is a shame on the country that it should—that any homosexual act shall be lawful at 21 years of age.

Mr. Speaker

Order. If the hon. Member will link his remarks to the Amendments, he will be in order.

Mr. Rees-Davies

I assure you, Mr. Speaker, that they are completely linked. The point—you have not been in the Chamber—I am making is that if we are dealing with a homosexual act which is merely gross indecency, or an act of masturbation, we may well apply one age as our criterion, but that if we are permitting an act of complete sodomy, removing the criminal sanction, that criterion as to age does not apply.

Mr. Stanley Orme (Salford, West)

A lawyer's argument.

Mr. Rees-Davies

It is not a lawyer's argument, as I will soon show.

If 21 years of age was to be governed merely by the removal of a position which would permit consenting homosexual acts in private, but not amounting to buggery, I would be prepared to accept 21 years of age as being sufficient for the purposes of avoiding the offence of debauching youth. If, however, one is to permit the removal of the age-old common law crime of buggery, the penetration of the anus, we are encouraging a practice—

Mr. Michael English (Nottingham, West) rose

Mr. Rees-Davies

I will give way presently—which those of us who are conversant with the law know is very similar in its encouragement to those who engage in narcotics, drinks, alcohol, or other practices. There is all the difference in the world between acts of gross indecency which take place between males, which do not lead to sodomy, and those which do. Those who know anything about school life know that young men who engage in masturbation usually grow out of it and turn to women and do not get debauched, whereas those who engage in sodomy remain with it for the rest of their lives. That is the difference.

Those who really understand this subject, and have had to understand it and see it through the courts, and see these addicts suffer as severely as drug addicts and alcoholics suffer, know that there is no cure for the bugger who has been buggered from 16 onwards, and it is about time that the House and this country faced the real fact which arises on this Amendment. There has been a lot of loose thinking on this subject. There are many people who have not given it the real consideration that it merits. They have not faced the difference between masturbation, or acts of indecency, and the full offence of a common law crime.

With regard to the age limit of 21, I accept the line of argument deployed by my right hon. Friend the Member for Ashford (Mr. Deedes) about the universities. The age of 21 is not suitable for this Amendment, because it is saying that we will now allow not only those at university level, but people of 21 or 20 in the factories, and apprentices, too, to continue what one might call the lesser form of homosexual pleasure. In addition, it will be known that they can engage in what at the moment is an offence for which they can be imprisoned for life.

There is an alternative question which I think should be posed on the Amendment to Clause 3. Under this Clause, apparently, if someone commits an act of this sort with an animal, he may be imprisoned for life, but if he commits it with a boy of 16, and he consents, he will be imprisoned for only five years. What more utterly ludicrous anomaly could there be than that?

Mr. English

I have the greatest respect for the hon. Gentleman's legal knowledge, but throughout his speech he has been using the terms "buggery" and "sodomy" as though they were interchangeable. If I recollect aright, he will find that buggery in law is sodomy and/or bestiality, and it would assist his argument if he were to use the word "sodomy" when he means it, rather than "buggery".

Mr. Rees-Davies

I agree with the hon. Gentleman. There is not that difference in Scottish law, but in English law buggery applies only to human beings, whereas sodomy has a wider connotation.

Apparently the purpose of Clause 3 is to reduce penalties. I am not arguing that if we abolish buggery as a criminal offence, to have the offence of buggery we should not reduce the penalties, but if the sponsor of the Bill looks at paragraph (a) of Clause 3 he will see that it applies imprisonment for 10 years except where he other person consents thereto.

It is a very difficult criterion to apply. It is very difficult to establish, or to know, in cases which may arise whether the other party is a consenting party, and this is the criterion upon which we are asked to say whether the right age that we should apply is 16, or whether it should be 18. I think that it is better to play safe and say 18 rather than 16, because if we choose the latter we will be dealing with a large number of youths who do not fully appreciate their responsibilities.

11.30 p.m.

One of the difficulties about which hon. Members know perhaps better than anybody is that there is a great number of boys who, unfortunately, are not in these days mature. We know almost better than anyone that in our own constituencies there are boys who, although 16 years of age, have a mental age of 10 or perhaps 12. They represent nowadays perhaps 5 to 10 per cent. of the young men coming through the schools; the mentally retarded. We also know that it is among the mentally retarded that moral turpitude finds its just place and that, in

this group, there is more homosexuality, more lack of moral responsibility, more lack of moral fibre, more petty larceny, and so on. Surely, therefore, when we are considering a new law, we must think whether these people should receive greater consideration?

I do not hold this out as a major point because my main point is that, whatever we should have done about the first part of this first Clause we should widen it to the degree of applying an age limit of 21 or 25. That is what should be done in a Bill which seeks to remove the common law crime of buggery and which is so fundamental a change that we should oppose it. We should go for an older age in both cases.

Dr. David Kerr (Wandsworth, Central) rose in his place and claimed to move, That the Question be now put.

Question put, That the Question be now put:—

The House divided: Ayes 135, Noes 35.

Division No. 418.] AYES [11.37 p.m.
Abse, Leo Ford, Ben McNamara, J. Kevin
Albu, Austen Fraser, Rt. Hn. Hugh(St'fford&Stone) Maddan, Martin
Allaun, Frank (Salford, E.) Ginsburg, David Marquand, David
Allen, Scholefield Gordon Walker, Rt. Hn. P. C. Mendelson, J. J.
Archer, Peter Greenwood, Rt. Hn. Anthony Mikardo, Ian
Atkinson, Norman (Tottenham) Gregory, Arnold Montgomery, Fergus
Barnes, Michael Grieve, Percy Moonman, Eric
Barnett, Joel Grimond, Rt. Hn. J. Newens, Stan
Benn, Rt. Hn, Anthony Wedgwood Hale, Leslie (Oldham, W.) Noel-Baker, Francis (Swindon)
Bidwell, Sydney Hamling, William Orme, Stanley
Booth, Albert Hannan, William Oswald, Thomas
Boyle, Rt. Hn. Sir Edward Hart, Mrs. Judith Owen, Dr. David (Plymouth, S'tn)
Bray, Dr. Jeremy Haseldine, Norman Page, Derek (King's Lynn)
Brooks, Edwin Hattersley, Roy Palmer, Arthur
Cant, R. B. Heffer, Eric S. Pannell, Rt. Hn. Charles
Carmichael, Neil Herbison, Rt. Hn. Margaret Pardoo, John
Castle, Rt. Hn. Barbara Hobden, Dennis (Brighton, K'town) Parker, John (Dagenham)
Channon, H. P. G. Hooley, Frank Parkyn, Brian (Bedford)
Chapman, Donald Houghton, Rt. Hn. Douglas Pavitt, Laurence
Crawley, Aidan Howell, Denis (Small Heath) Perry, Ernest G. (Battersea, S.)
Crawshaw, Richard Huckfield, L. Price, Christopher (Perry Barr)
Crossman, Rt. Hn. Richard Hughes, Emrys (Ayrshire, S.) Roberts, Gwilym (Bedfordshire, S.)
Dalyell, Tam Hunt, John Robinson, Rt. Hn. Kenneth (St.P'c'as)
Davidson, Arthur (Accrington) Jackson, Colin (B'h'se & Spenb'gh) Robinson, W. O. J. (Walth'stow, E.)
de Freitas, Rt. Hn. Sir Geoffrey Jackson, Peter M. (High Peak) Rowland, Christopher (Meriden)
Delargy, Hugh Jeger, Mrs.Lena (H'b'n & St.P'cras,S.) Rowlands, E. (Cardiff, N.)
Delf, Edmund Jenkins, Hugh (Putney) Royle, Anthony
Dewar, Donald Jenkins, Rt. Hn. Roy (Stechford) Shaw, Arnold (Ilford, S.)
Diamond, Rt. Hn. John Jones, Rt. Hn. Sir Elwyn (W.Ham, S.) Sheldon, Robert
Dobson, Ray Judd, Frank Shore, Peter (Stepney)
Dunwoody, Mrs. Gwyneth (Exeter) Kerr, Mrs. Anne (R'ter & Chatham) Silkin, Rt. Hn. John (Deptford)
Dunwoody, Dr. John (F'th & C'b'e) Kerr, Dr. David (W'worth, Central) Silverman, Julius (Aston)
Ellis, John Kerr, Russell (Feltham) Smith, John
English, Michael Kirk, Peter Steel, David (Roxburgh)
Ensor, David Loughlin, Charles Stonehouse, John
Faulds, Andrew Luard, Evan Strauss, Rt. Hn. G. R.
Fernyhough, E. Lubbock, Eric Swingler, Stephen
Fitch, Alan (Wigan) Lyon, Alexander W. (York) Taverne, Dick
Fletcher, Ted (Darlington) MacDermot, Niall Teeling, Sir William
Foley, Maurice Macdonald, A. H. Thatcher, Mrs. Margaret
Foot, Michael (Ebbw Vale) Mackintosh, John P. Thomson, Rt. Hn. George
Thorpe, Rt. Hn. Jeremy White, Mrs. Eirene Worsley, Marcus
Tilney, John Williams, Alan Lee (Hornchurch) Yates, Victor
Walters, Dennis Williams, Mrs. Shirley (Hitchin) TELLERS FOR THE AYES:
Wellbeloved, James Williams, W. T. (Warrington) Mr. Eric G. Varley and
Whitaker, Ben Wilson, William (Coventry, S.) Mr. Ian Gilmour.
Allason, James (Hemel Hempstead) Hutchison, Michael Clark Percival, Ian
Boyd-Carpenter, Rt. Hn. John Jennings, J. C. (Burton) Price, Thomas (Westhoughton)
Bullus, Sir Eric Jones, Arthur (Northants, S.) Rees-Davies, W. R.
Corfield, F. V. King, Evelyn (Dorset, S.) Sinclair, Sir George
Crowder, F. P. MacArthur, Ian Summers, Sir Spencer
Currie, G. B. H. Mahon, Peter (Preston, S.) Taylor, Sir Charles (Eastbourne)
Dance, James Marten, Neil Taylor, Edward M.(G'gow, Cathcart)
Deedes, Rt. Hn. W. F. (Ashford) Mawby, Ray Tomney, Frank
Giles, Rear-Adm. Morgan Maydon, Lt.-Cmdr. S. L. C. Ward, Dame Irene
Goodhew, Victor Morgan, Elystan (Cardiganshire) TELLERS FOR THE NOES:
Gower, Raymond Page, Graham (Crosby) Sir Gerald Nabarro and
Grant-Ferris, R. Page, John (Harrow, W.) Mr. Harold Gurden.
Harrison, Col. Sir Harwood (Eye) Pearson, Sir Frank (Clitheroe)

Question put accordingly, That "twenty-one" stand part of the Bill:—

The House divided: Ayes 136, Noes 40.

Division No. 419.] AYES [11.40 p.m.
Abse, Leo Grieve, Percy Palmer, Arthur
Albu, Austen Grimond, Rt. Hn. J. Pannell, Rt. Hn. Charles
Allaun, Frank (Salford, E.) Hale, Leslie (Oldham, W.) Pardoe, John
Allen, Scholefield Hamling, William Parker, John (Dagenham)
Archer, Peter Hart, Mrs. Judith Parkyn, Brian (Bedford)
Atkinson, Norman (Tottenham) Haseldine, Norman Pavitt, Laurence
Barnes, Michael Hattersley, Roy Perry, Ernest G. (Battersea, S.)
Barnett, Joel Heffer, Eric S. Price, Christopher (Perry Barr)
Benn, Rt. Hn. Anthony Wedgwood Herbison, Rt. Hn. Margaret Ridley, Hn. Nicholas
Bidwell, Sydney Hobden, Dennis (Brighton, K'town) Roberts, Gwilym (Bedfordshire, S.)
Booth, Albert Hooley, Frank Robinson, Rt. Hn. Kenneth (St.P'c'as)
Boyle, Rt. Hn. Sir Edward Houghton, Rt. Hn. Douglas Robinson, W. O. J. (Walth'stow, E.)
Bray, Dr. Jeremy Howell, Denis (Small Heath) Rowlands, E. (Cardiff, N.)
Brooks, Edwin Huckfield, L. Royle, Anthony
Cant, R. B. Hughes, Emrys (Ayrshire, S.) Shaw, Arnold (Ilford, S.)
Carmichael, Neil Hunt, John Sheldon, Robert
Castle, Rt. Hn. Barbara Jackson, Colin (B'h'se & Spenb'gh) Shore, Peter (Stepney)
Channon, H. P. G. Jackson, Peter M. (High Peak) Silkin, Rt. Hn. John (Deptford)
Chapman, Donald Janner, Sir Barnett Silverman, Julius (Aston)
Crawley, Aldan Jeger, Mrs.Lena (H'b'n&St.P'cras, S.) Smith, John
Crawshaw, Richard Jenkins, Hugh (Putney) Steel, David (Roxburgh)
Crossman, Rt. Hn. Richard Jenkins, Rt. Hn. Roy (Stechford) Stonehouse, John
Dalyell, Tam Jones, Rt. Hn. Sir Elwyn (W. Ham, S.) Strauss, Rt. Hn. G. R.
Davidson, Arthur (Accrington) Judd, Frank Swingler, Stephen
de Freitas, Rt. Hn. Sir Geoffrey Kerr, Mrs. Anns (R'ter & Chatham) Taverne, Dick
Delargy, Hugh Kerr, Dr. David (W'worth, Central) Teeling, Sir William
Dell, Edmund Kerr, Russell (Feltham) Thatcher, Mrs. Margaret
Dewar, Donald Kirk, Peter Thomson, Rt. Hn. George
Diamond, Rt. Hn. John Loughlin, Charles Thorpe, Rt. Hn. Jeremy
Dobson, Ray Luard, Evan Tilney, John
Dunwoody, Mrs. Gwyneth (Exeter) Lubbock, Eric Walker-Smith, Rt. Hn. Sir Derek
Dunwoody, Dr. John (F'th & C'b'e) Lyon, Alexander (York) Walters, Dennis
Ellis, John MacDermot, Niall Wellbeloved, James
English, Michael Macdonald, A. H. Whitaker, Ben
Ensor, David Mackintosh, John P. White, Mrs. Eirene
Faulds, Andrew McNamara, J. Kevin Whitelaw, Rt. Hn. William
Fernyhough, E. Maddan, Martin Williams, Alan Lee (Hornchurch)
Fitch, Alan (Wigan) Marquand, David Williams, Mrs. Shirley (Hitchin)
Fletcher, Ted (Darlington) Mendelson, J. J. Williams, W. T. (Warrington)
Foley, Maurice Mikardo, Ian Wilson, William (Coventry, S.)
Foot, Michael (Ebbw Vale) Montgomery, Fergus Worsley, Marcus
Ford, Ben Moonman, Eric Yates, Victor
Fraser, Rt. Hn. Hugh (St'fford&Stone) Newens, Stan
Ginsburg, David Noel-Baker, Francis (Swindon) TELLERS FOR THE AYES:
Gordon Walker, Rt. Hn. P. C. Orme, Stanley Mr. Eric G. Varley and
Greenwood, Rt. Hn. Anthony Owen, Dr. David (Plymouth, S'tn) Mr. Ian Gilmour.
Gregory, Arnold Page, Derek (King's Lynn)
Allason, James (Hemel Hempstead) Deedes, Rt. Hn. W. F. (Ashford) Hannan, William
Boyd-Carpenter, Rt. Hn. John Gibson-Watt, David Harrison, Col. Sir Harwood (Eye)
Bullus, Sir Eric Giles, Rear-Adm. Morgan Hutchison, Michael Clark
Crowder, F. P. Goodhew, Victor Jennings, J. C. (Burton)
Currie, G. B. H. Gower, Raymond Jones, Arthur (Northants, S.)
Dance, James Grant-Ferris, R. Kershaw, Anthony
King, Evelyn (Dorset, S.) Page, Graham (Crosby) Taylor, Sir Charles (Eastbourne)
MacArthur, Ian Page, John (Harrow, W.) Taylor, Edward M.(G'gow, Cathcart)
Maclean, Sir Fitzroy Pearson, Sir Frank (Clitheroe) Tomney, Frank
Mahon, Peter (Preston, s.) Percival, Ian Ward, Dame Irene
Marten, Neil Price, Thomas (Westhoughton)
Mawby, Ray Rees-Davies, W. R. TELLERS FOR THE NOES:
Maydon, Lt.-Cmdr. S. L. C. Ross, Rt. Hn. William Sir Gerald Nabarro and
Morgan, Elystan (Cardiganshire) Sinclair, Sir George Mr. Harold Gurden.
Oswald, Thomas Summers, Sir Spencer
Mr. Speaker

We come to Amendment No. 2, in the name of the hon. Member for Chelmsford (Mr. St. John-Stevas), in page 1, to leave out lines 10 to 14. With it we are taking the following Amendments:

Amendment No. 3, in page 1, leave out line 12.

Amendment No. 4, in page 1, leave out lines 13 and 14.

Amendment No. 5, in line 14, at end insert: (c) in a public park to which the public have or are permitted to have access.

Amendment No. 6, in line 14, at end insert: (d) on any land or woodland to which the public can obtain access.

Amendment No. 7, in line 15, at end insert: (e) in premises which either person uses by virtue of his employment.

Amendment No. 54, in page 1, leave out lines 12 to 14 and insert:

  1. (a) by an act of a lewd, obscene and disgusting nature and outraging public decency; or
  2. (b) by conduct injurious to public morals by tending to corrupt the mind and destroy the love of decency, morality and good order.

Amendment No. 51, in line 14, at end insert: (c) in a British Railways sleeping car.

Amendment No. 53, in line 14, at end insert: (c) in a prison cell.

Sir G. Nabarro

On a point of order. There was a good deal of misunderstanding, Mr. Speaker, about your Ruling on the number of Divisions which would be permitted on the last group of Amendments. Having regard to the heterogeneous character of the group of Amendments which we are now called upon to discuss, may we be instructed at the outset as to your Ruling on the number of Divisions which may be called, bearing in mind that there are four distinct and separate principles involved?

Mr. Speaker

If there were any misunderstanding, I should have thought that it was not due to any lack of clarity in what Mr. Speaker said to the House on that occasion. There will be one Division on this group of Amendments, and it will be on Amendment No. 2.

Sir Charles Taylor (Eastbourne)

Further to that point of order. When a group of Amendments has been taken in the House, it has been traditional that we should be allowed to vote on each Amendment and each Clause.

Hon. Members


Mr. Speaker

Order. The hon. Member is addressing the Chair.

Sir C. Taylor

In the past, when we have debated a group of Amendments dealing with similar subjects we have been allowed a Division on each Clause and each Amendment which was different in character from the others.

Mr. Speaker

With respect to the hon. Member, that is not an accurate statement of what has happened during the history of Parliament. I have selected the Amendment on which there may be a Division—Amendment No. 2.

Sir S. Summers

Further to that point of order. Amendment No. 51, for example, deals with British Railways sleeping cars.

Sir G. Nabarro

First class—not second class.

Sir S. Summers

Am I right in stating that we shall be in order to discuss that issue, but that we shall be unable to give effect to our views on it by having a Division? If that is so, is there any point in making references to it?

Mr. Speaker

The hon. Member has correctly stated the sorry facts of the situation.

Sir C. Taylor rose

Hon. Members


Mr. Speaker

Order. We have a lot of serious business before us tonight. I hope that we shall not waste time on frivolous points of order.

Sir C. Taylor

If you think my point of order frivolous, Mr. Speaker, I apologise. Amendments Nos. 5, 6, 7, 54, 51 and 53 are all entirely different. I suggest that we should be allowed to vote on each of those points.

Mr. Speaker

I must guide the hon. Member. He has been in Parliament a long time. [HON. MEMBERS: "Too long.] It is not unusual in the history of Parliament that quite a number of Amendments of a different character are grouped together in one debate. The Chair decides which shall be selected for a Division. I have selected Amendment No. 2 for a Division.

Mr. Rees-Davies

I beg to move Amendment No. 2, in page 1, to leave out lines 10 to 14.

The Amendment is in the name of the hon. Member for Chelmsford (Mr. St. John-Stevas), and I move it, notwithstanding the fact that he is a very strange bedfellow of mine for this purpose. I do so with great humility. In this Amendment the hon. Member wishes to exclude privacy. I wish to include it. The other principle with which we are dealing is the one of outrage to public decency. Each one of these Amendments deals with the principle of privacy or public nuisance, deals with the principle of public morality or outrage to public decency.

Clause 1(2) says: An act which would otherwise be treated for the purposes of this Act as being done in private shall not be so treated if done—

  1. (a) when more than two persons take part or are present; or
  2. (b) in a lavatory to which the public have or are permitted to have access, whether on payment or otherwise."
The sponsor of the Bill has recognised, by the exclusions which he puts forward, that he does not wish to have homosexual orgies between two persons or more than two persons; he also recognises, apparently, that they should not take place in a public lavatory. That is very good of him, but what I think we really want to consider is something of a wholly different nature. What I believe should be the principle to which the House should apply its mind is one which has stood the test of time and which has the complete support of the judges of the courts, and fairly recently of the Law Lords in the House of Lords.

Therefore, I have ventured to put down—in their language, let me hasten to add, not mine—Amendment No. 54, which would leave out those two paragraphs (a) and (b) and insert instead:

  1. (a) by an act of a lewd, obscene and disgusting nature and outraging public decency; or
  2. (b) by conduct injurious to public morals by tending to corrupt the mind and destroy the love of decency, morality and good order.
It may be asked: why should one seek to insert into an Act of Parliament now the principles which were adumbrated in another place in a case in which the matter was most fully discussed as being the appropriate alternative? I say that this is the reason: that the whole basis, if we go back to the history of this matter, for laws being introduced to impose criminal sanctions arose out of a desire to curb a public mischief. They arose out of the necessity to establish law and order. They arose because the judges were the custodians of good morals, pro bonis morum. It has been the judges throughout the last five centuries, right up to the present—indeed, up to the present year—who have been the arbitrators for the protection of morals and society in Britain.

It was not until fairly recently that there has ever arisen in modern times a real conflict, but in the Bill this conflict arises. Until not so very long ago—and in a moment I shall refer to the relevant passages of that debate—it has not really come to pass that the judges and Parliament have come into real conflict. In the Bill they undoubtedly do, because the law at the moment is that any person who perpetrates an act which, in the words of Amendment No. 54, is of a lewd, obscene and disgusting nature and outraging public decency is guilty of a common law misdemeanour.

12 m.

Mr. Nicholas Ridley (Cirencester and Tewkesbury)

I do not quite understand how, as this Clause deals with acts done in private, the Act can offend against public decency. If it is done in private, it cannot be known to the public. Perhaps my hon. Friend will address himself to that point.

Mr. Rees-Davies

Yes, I certainly shall. If my hon. Friend will be kind enough to read lines 10 and 11 he will see that an act which would otherwise be treated for the purpose of the Bill as being done in private shall not be so treated if it is done when more than two people are present.

Therefore, the Bill as it now stands says that if two people wish to participate in a homosexual act they can be permitted to do so, but that if more than two people want to engage in that act they cannot be so permitted; the law stands, and a criminal offence takes place. Equally, it says that if those two people do the act in a public lavatory they commit an offence; if they do it in private they commit no offence.

The whole essence of the Bill is to permit, if I may say so, largesse to homosexuals to engage in any pleasure they may wish provided that they do it in private, but, says the promoter, "I am prepared to concede that if they do it in a public urinal, or at a party where more than two are present, it shall be a criminal offence."

I say that the whole of that idea is a complete nonsense. I say that if we wish to make some sense of a very had Bill the only way to do it is to amend it by saying, as their Lordships have said in another place and as set out in the Amendment No. 54. We must insert: by an act of a lewd, obscene and disgusting nature and outraging public decency; or by conduct injurious to public morals by tending to corrupt the mind and destroy the love of decency, morality and good order. We will then achieve our purpose, which is to retain the right for homosexuals to engage in their pleasures in private, but will have protected the public from the public display of their immorality. I hope that I have explained to my hon. Friend the essence of this point.

This Amendment is only one of a number of most important Amendments giving rise to what I venture to submit is undoubtedly the major debate on these matters, arising because of the complete misunderstanding of the background of our homosexual laws. It dates back to that inept Report of the Wolfenden Committee, which understood very little of the true nature of the corruption of homosexuality. I have not hitherto had the full opportunity to attack the whole basis of the approach in this matter. This debate, fortunately, Mr. Speaker, which deals with the question of private or public, will keep me in order in a very wide display of the important issues of the day, because the whole question that has arisen here is: shall we permit the Bill to pass on the basis that what people do in private is not to be the subject of a criminal sanction?

I concede at once that it requires a strong writ to declare that what two people like to do in the privacy of their own homes shall be the subject of a criminal sanction. I do not suppose that any of us particularly wants to bring forward for public gaze what a husband and wife may do in the privacy of their own home. But we do it, and we shall continue to do it because an act of sodomy, under the Bill, will still be a matrimonial offence as between husband and wife. Most hon. Members probably do not know that sodomy is a matrimonial offence, upon which a wife can institute and obtain a decree of divorce. A well-known hon. Member, engaged in these debates, did not even know what sodomy was, and that is probably true of many members of the public.

Be that as it may, the House has said that it will take cognisance of cruelty, of sodomy between husband and wife and of many other matrimonial offences. If we are to do this, we must carefully consider whether we should or should not extend this law to acts in private. What is to be the scope?

The Bill says that the test is that the act is between two men. Is that fair? It says that if two homosexuals engage in an act together privately, whatever the act may be it shall not be a criminal offence. But if a third man is an onlooker, even although not a participator, his presence makes it a criminal offence. Pity the voyeur. We are in an extraordinary situation. Homosexuals are perverts. We have in English no phrase to describe the voyeur. We have to use a French word, because it is only in France that this practice apparently rules.

Those of us who recognise these facts know that homosexuals get a large part of their pleasure from observance. Those of us who have the misfortune to engage in the criminal law know that there is good reason why public urinals are consistently used for the sort of offence known as gross indecency. We have had the unfortunate experience of seeing well-known members of the theatrical profession, clerics and professional men brought before the courts because they could not resist the temptation to expose themselves in public to the public gaze.

Those who recognise the psychology and the background of this business know that to give encouragement, as the Bill seeks to do, to this form of illness, and to permit a continuance of these matters, is undesirable. I apprehend that the hon. Member for Pontypool (Mr. Abse) was so willing to accept the limited amendment of subsection (2)—limiting the voyeurs, banning the attendance of more than two people at such an act, limiting the position in relation to public urinals and lavatories—because he recognised, as do others, the psychology and the background of the homosexual.

The hon. Member for Smethwick (Mr. Faulds) is not here. Being a man who, like me, makes no shame of the fact that he likes the ladies, he raised the point, "I think that it is a bit hard on 'queers' if they cannot have their pleasures without being bullied".

It is their attitude of mind—I hope that hon. Gentlemen will try to get rid of it—that in some way they are being good to 'queers'. This is not good for queers and we are not here in Britain today or through the centuries to do good for what is unnatural. This approach will not do Parliament any good whatsoever. Let us get down to the real facts. If we want to go ahead and introduce the Bill we either have to legalise the whole thing and not include public lavatories and all the rest of it and say, "We will take a chance and deal with this by medical treatment" or we must limit it very severely.

What are the limitations which I would seek to put in? First, I do not think that we should fall into conflict with what has been, since the 16th century, the general picture. In words, which I can only describe as Churchillian, it was put by Lord Simonds, in the House of Lords, in the Shaw case in 1962 Appeal Cases. Dealing with the corruption of public morals, at page 266 he said: I am concerned only to assert what was vigorously denied by counsel for the appellant, that such an offence is known to the common law, that it was open to the jury to find on the facts of this case that the appellant was guilty of such an offence. I must say categorically that, if it were not so, Her Majesty's courts would strangely have failed in their duty as servants of the guardians of the common law. Need I say, my Lords, that I am no advocate of the right of the judges to create new criminal offences? I will repeat well-known words: 'Amongst many other points of happiness and freedom which Your Majesty's subjects have enjoyed there is none which they have accounted more dear and precious than this, to be guided and governed by certain rules of law which giveth both to the head and members that which of right belongeth to them and not by any arbitrary or uncertain form of government.' These words are as true today as they were in the seventeenth century and command the allegiance of us all. But I am at a loss to understand how it can be said either that the law does not recognise a conspiracy to corrupt public morals or that, though there may not be an exact precedent for such a conspiracy as this case reveals, it does not fall fairly within the general words by which it is described … The fallacy in the argument that was addressed to us lay in the attempt to exclude from the scope of general words acts well calculated to corrupt public morals just because they had not been committed or had not been brought to the notice of the court before. It is not thus that the common law has developed. We are perhaps more accustomed to hear this matter discussed upon the question whether such and such a transaction is contrary to public policy. … On the one hand, it is said that it is not possible in the twentieth century for the court to create a new head of public policy, on the other it is said that this is but a new example of a well-established head.

Mr. Orme

On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. Is the long quotation that the hon. Member is making in line with the Amendment before the House?

Mr. Deputy Speaker

The hon. Gentleman is entitled to quote from a reference work as long as it is within the Amendment. So far it is in order, but I will listen very carefully.

12.15 a.m.

Mr. Rees-Davies

I assure you, Mr. Deputy Speaker, that it is upon this that Amendment No. 54 is based. The quotation continues: In the sphere of criminal law, I entertain no doubt that there remains in the courts of law a residual power to enforce the supreme and fundamental purpose of the law, to conserve not only the safety and order but also the moral welfare of the State, and that it is their duty to guard it against attacks which may he the more insidious because they are novel and unprepared for. That is the broad head … within which the present indictment falls. It matters little what label is given to the offending act. To one of your Lordships it may appear an affront to public decency, to another considering that it may succeed in its obvious intention of provoking libidinous desires it will seem a corruption of public morals. Yet others may deem it aptly described as the creation of a public mischief or the undermining of moral conduct. The same act will not in all ages be regarded in the same way. The law must be related to the changing standards of life, not yielding to every shifting impulse of the popular will but having regard to fundamental assessments of human values and the purposes of society. Today a denial of the fundamental Christian doctrine which in past centuries would have been regarded by the ecclesiastical courts as heresy and by the common law as blasphemy, will no longer be an offence … When Lord Mansfield, speaking long after the Star Chamber had been abolished, said that the Court of King's Bench was the custos morum of the people and had the superintendency of offences contra bonos mores, he was asserting as I now assert, that there is in that Court a residual power, where no statute has yet intervened to supersede the common law, to superintend those offences which are prejudicial to the public welfare. Such occasions will be rare, for Parliament has not been slow to legislate … But gaps remain … Let it be supposed"— and here is the real barb— that at some future, perhaps, early, date homosexual practices between adult consenting males are no longer a crime. Would it not he an offence if even without obscenity, such practices were publicly advocated and encouraged by pamphlet and advertisement? Or must we wait until Parliament finds time to deal with such conduct? I say, my Lords, that if the common law is powerless in such an event, then, we should no longer do her reverence. But I say that her hand is still powerful, and it is for Her Majesty's judges to play the part which Lord Mansfield pointed out to them. I make no apology for having quoted that at length. When Lord Simonds argued the case that they were the custodians of the morals of society, he knew all about the Wolfenden Report. He knew perfectly well that shortly we should be faced with a Bill to reform the law on homosexuality, and he recognised that, once such a reform comes about, it will result in prurient advertisements and encouragement to engage in these practices, because the professional pimps and prostitutes who are male will seek to make additional money, and it will be far harder to catch them since they will not be guilty of any offence unless they can be caught living on the immoral earnings of prostitution—and the Bill has had to make special provision for that event.

If we are to amend the law at all, the only sensible way would be to say that Parliament wills that two men may do what they please in private, however perverted it may be, but the moment that it impinges upon public society, upon an outrage of public decency or upon public morals, the moment that they engage any third person in their repellent acts, we shall apply by Statute what is the common law of today. That is the basis, in substance, of Amendment No. 54, which I should like to see in place of Amendment No. 2.

I have enlarged upon that particular aspect first for this reason. We recognise that when, ultimately, the Bill leaves here it will go to another place. When it goes to another place there will then, no doubt, be an opportunity to consider what has been said with regard to subsection (2).

I do not believe that the main sponsor of the Bill—he is too intelligent a man for that—or, indeed, the other sponsors, who are all persons of acute intelligence, like subsection (2). I do not think that they like the Bill as it stands, with this ludicrous provision that if a third party is present then the persons concerned can be sent to prison for a long period of years, whereas if there is no third person they can do what they like.

Hon. Members will have an opportunity to deal with what happens in railway sleeping cars and situations of that kind when we come to other Amendments, but what we have got to try to do in the Bill before we turn to consider which of these alternative Amendments shall now be the subject of further consideration is to recognise, first, whether we ought or ought not to leave out lines 10 to 14.

We are in some little difficulty, a difficulty which I am sure my hon. Friends and those who support the views I express will wish to develop in future, because if we support Amendment No. 2 with our vote we would leave out lines 10 to 14, and if we do that we would, of course, harm the very interests which we seek to serve.

My hon. Friend the Member for Chelmsford has now departed for the Middle East and is not with us tonight, after having dealt with the girls on Thursday. I thought that it was a little unfortunate, if I may say so to the Home Secretary, that the girls were treated as being very much less important and were given Thursday while the Government seemed to prefer the boys by giving them right through to 2.30 p.m. today. But this does give us an opportunity of developing our arguments without being unduly short of time.

Regretfully, we must oppose Amendment No. 2. At the moment we will not have the opportunity to be able to leave out lines 12 to 14 and insert the Amendment which we would seek to put in at this stage. All we can really do, therefore, is to seek to draw the attention of the public to what, I think, has not really been fully understood.

The real trouble has been that the sponsors have been trying to seek a compromise so as to get something through the House. They have, in a sense, been assisted by some apathy in this field which has fallen on many members of the public as a result of the large numbers of committees, and so on, which have set up. We have got a bit far away from what is the essence of homosexuality, which is completely different from the principles in the case of the ladies and abortion.

In this case, the essence of the whole matter is—it makes one laugh at times because one needs a sense of humour or one gets a little out of context—that in the case of homosexuality the first issue we have to decide is whether we ought to countenance it at all as being something quite contrary to nature. A large number of people believe that there should be a criminal sanction for many reasons; but I should be out of order if I developed that point.

If it is to be permitted, the next question is: To what extent? What has been said consistently, not only about homosexuality, but every form of public lewdness or obscenity, is, "Please, not in public." There was a Member of this House who stood upon the parapet at Drury Lane in 1600 and peed upon the people. It was held that he had been guilty of a grossly obscene act, and he was duly punished.

Whatever else we do, we cannot have homosexuals parading their homosexuality in public. Subsection (2) as it stands is not wide enough. It is an effort, but the way to do it is not to count heads and to say that if there is a boy looking over one's shoulder the act does not count as being private.

Mr. Gower

Is it not much more serious and ludicrous than that? Does not the present wording mean that if two homosexuals begin such a practice and a third person arrives during its commission they will be guilty of an offence?

Mr. Rees-Davies

Yes. One must bolt the door. One must not allow a "peeping Tom" to get in, because if he did one would be guilty, even if he was aiming to enjoy himself and one did not know that he was there. Therefore, this is a nonsense. One cannot just specify a public lavatory. The farce of doing so will be illustrated by my hon. Friends speaking to Amendments which they have thought out, and I shall not deprive them of their pleasure. They will show what a ludicrous nonsense subsection (2) is. One has only to consider the public parks to realise what a mockery the Bill is. If a homosexual act is done outside the public urinal in Hyde Park it is not an offence, but if it is inside it is.

What is Parliament doing? What do we imagine that the Indians, Ghanaians and Jamaicans—people who thought that all law and order came from this country—will think of the Home Secretary if he allows this drivel to get on the Statute Book? I would rather help him draft a Bill that made some sense than leave it in this form, because it will mean absolutely nothing, and will add just one more unfortunate piece of legislation at a time when we are trying to bring forward thoughtful social legislation which will make the Home Office respected throughout the country.

Mr. Dance

To return to the question of peeping though doors, would my hon. Friend agree that it is possible that homosexuals might go into a hotel room where one can see through a window? Would somebody looking through commit a crime? Do we know?

Mr. Rees-Davies

I am sure that the Home Secretary will send for the Attorney-General to advise my hon. Friend, when he makes his own speech on the matter, whether such a person would be present within the meaning of subsection (2,a). It would be a matter for a ruling by the judge as to whether a "peeping Tom" was regarded as being present or not.

We had one or two cases of actors or actresses engaged in various exhibitions in which other people watched their performances. In those cases it was held that the voyeurs were part of the exhibition and the performance and were watching, and that as they were participators in an obscene exhibition they could he convicted of the offence. Therefore, there is some precedent for saying that any person watching the participants would be guilty. On the other hand, if they did not know that they were being watched. I suppose that it would be said that the burden of proof would he to show that they knew that they were being watched and I suppose that they might get out if they were able to show that they did not believe that they were being watched.

12.30 a.m.

Not only in this Bill, but in many other Acts we have made mistakes because we tried to count heads or numbers. If we merely refer in an Amendment to when a person does a "lewd, obscene and disgusting" act which outrages public decency, whether it is a "lewd, obscene and disgusting" act which outrages public decency is a matter for the jury on the direction of the judge. It would be for a jury to say, if a third person was present, whether it was deliberately a lewd and disgusting performance.

Suppose that there were two homosexuals in a tent on Epsom Downs on Derby Day who allowed people to come in to watch. That has happened in an exhibition of women. If it happened with men, it would be a lewd and disgusting exhibition which outraged public decency. I quote from a case in 1860 in which that very thing happened in an exhibition on the Downs.

But what we who oppose the Bill so strenuously are concerned about is that we simply do not believe or accept that if we permit grown men to be allowed to enjoy these pleasures—s—

Mr. Norman Atkinson (Tottenham)

On a point of order. The hon. Gentleman is becoming extremely expert by sheer practice. This is the fifth time that we have been round this particular piece of track. We seem to be getting to know the argument thoroughly. I wonder whether there is any point in appealing to you, Mr. Deputy Speaker, to ask the hon. Gentleman to enliven the proceedings by some fresh thinking.

Mr. Deputy Speaker

Nothing that the hon. Gentleman has said was out of order. If he becomes repetitious, I shall have to apply the appropriate rule.

Mr. Rees-Davies

This is the only occasion since 1956 on which I have spoken in the House for more than 20 minutes. I am now doing so because I think that there is quite a number of hon. Members who do not know as much about this subject as they think they do.

No doubt there is a number of people who think that they know about this subject. Unfortunately, I know nothing about homosexuals from my personal knowledge, but I know a fair amount about the subject because I think that I can claim that, of any Member on either side, I have had to do more cases concerned with their practices than any other Member. I should have thought that that could not be gainsaid.

I therefore speak with knowledge. I hope that I have not been repetitious. I do not think that I have. I quoted a long extract from Lord Simonds because I felt that the pith of this matter, which has never got across to the country, is the argument which needs repeating in the sense that one must point it out in different ways, namely, that there is a world of difference between allowing people to do what they like in private and allowing them to do what they like in public.

I should not wish to stop people doing outrageous acts of immorality of the normal kind in private, but if they indulge in these practices in the terms of this Amendment, I am saying that we should safeguard the public entirely by not permitting any form of intrusion into public society. There are various forms of it.

One question is whether one can contain it by enjoining that this safeguard shall apply only in urinals or public parks—physically in a place—or whether it not much better to do it by coming to principles. One is public indecency which must relate to a place and the other is general, dealing with good order in society, and I think one can contain it to that extent, and that we should seek to do it in any way that we can.

In every way, all forms of corruption, if seen to take place, corrupt other people. If one goes to a party and people are "pushing" pills and saying "This does not do any harm", other people take them. If one goes to a party at a university where there are pretty girls and two or three men say "Let's see if you can make it" and the girls are seduced, other men get a better chance, and if two or three do it other girls copy and you get more immorality. Equally, if it is a party of boys. All corruption creates a wider realm.

It is said that the Bill is designed to be concerned precisely with the acts of those who have grown up to be homosexuals in private. We have so to circumlocute and surround the Bill with these Amendments that it will be able to achieve only that very limited purpose. I would have wished to develop some of the other themes of these Amendments, but I see that a large number of my hon. Friends and hon. Gentlemen opposite wish to speak to the other Amendments and other aspects of this wide-ranging subject. I have deliberately contained my argument to the one Amendment because I anticipate those we shall have on the other six.

The Secretary of State for the Home Department (Mr. Roy Jenkins) rose

Mr. Gurden

On a point of order. On Friday morning it was ruled by the Chair that the mover of an Amendment had the right of reply. I raise this now because I may well not get an opportunity if another Closure is put on the debate, as we expect. Would you say, Mr. Deputy Speaker. as your colleague did, whether that still applies?

Mr. Deputy Speaker

If the hon. Member is asking me whether he will have a right to reply, the answer is, "No". The mover of the Amendment, and only one has been moved, has a right to reply. That is, of course, subject to the Closure.

Mr. Roy Jenkins

Had the hon. Member for the Isle of Thanet (Mr. Rees-Davies) not addressed the Committee for 50 minutes, I would have proposed to allow a few other hon. Members to intervene before I intervened, but I thought that in view of, I will not say the excessive, but the considerable length of his speech, it might be convenient if I were to intervene at this stage.

Mr. Gower

On a point of order. Is it in order, Mr. Deputy Speaker, for a Minister to say that he allows hon. Members to speak? Surely, that is completely out of order.

Mr. Deputy Speaker

I understood the right hon. Gentleman to say that he was intervening for the benefit of the House. The length of a speech is a matter of fact and not of judgment or comment.

Mr. Gower

Further to the point of order. The right hon. Gentleman distinctly said that had not there been a long speech he would have allowed other hon. Members to take part in the debate. I suggest that that is completely out of order.

Mr. Deputy Speaker

It is the practice for Ministers to intervene and for the Chair to call them when they intervene. I do not think that anything which has been said has been out of order or improper.

Mr. Jenkins

Thank you, Mr. Deputy Speaker.

I intended to convey to the House, which, I am sure, was obvious to all hon. Members, except for one or two who are rather over-excited, like the hon. Member for Barry (Mr. Gower), that I would not have risen and endeavoured to catch your eye at this stage had it not been for the long, but, no doubt, interesting speech of the hon. Member for the Isle of Thanet.

The hon. Member for the Isle of Thanet, who speaks in a most impressive way, said that he had not addressed the House for more than 20 minutes since 1956. I cannot recall the exact length of his speech, and I am glad to say that I cannot recall that speech in 1956. What I do recall is that I have never heard the hon. Member addressing the House on any of these important social or criminal matters in which he did not imply that nobody but himself understood the depths of depravity with which we were dealing. I would not like directly to refute him in that proposition which he puts before the House, but I think that a little occasional modesty and a little occasional willingness to believe that others may at least have some hint of a view of what he is talking about would not be entirely unreasonable.

The Amendment which the hon. Member moved was an Amendment which, as he said, was, rather surprisingly, jointly in the name of himself and of his hon. Friend the Member for Chelmsford (Mr. St. John-Stevas), who is not here tonight—and perhaps that is just as well, because I think that there are many hon. Members, on both sides of the House, who welcome the absence of the hon. Member for Chelmsford even more than they would welcome his presence on this occasion.

The purpose of the Amendment of the hon. Member for Chelmsford, to which the hon. Member for the Isle of Thanet subsequently put his name, was to make the Bill in one sense very much wider and to impose no limitations concerning privacy and public lavatories. The hon. Member for the Isle of Thanet used the Amendment as a sort of paving Amendment by which to introduce another Amendment of his own, and I would like to say a few brief words about his Amendment and other Amendments which follow.

First, however, perhaps I may deal with the Bill as it stands with the lines which are proposed to be left out in order, in the view of the hon. Member for Chelmsford, to put nothing in their place and, in the view of the hon. Member for the Isle of Thanet, to put something different in their place.

The hon. Member for the Isle of Thanet spoke as though what we were proposing was the most appalling liberal monstrosity which was forced down the throats of the House, to the great shock and dismay of people in Ghana and various other places—which he mentioned with, I thought, an element of hyperbole, but I am not quite sure—as a result of an excessively liberal regime in the Home Office or in other Government Departments.

Perhaps I may remind the hon. Member, although this may not entirely commend the Bill as it stands to some of my hon. Friends, that the subsection which he has attacked in such excessive language was moved by the Viscount Dilhorne in another place and that the Tellers in favour of the Amendment were the late Earl Kilmuir and Viscount Montgomery of Alamein, so perhaps we need not take his strictures on that point too seriously.

Mr. Rees-Davies rose

12.45 a.m.

Mr. Jenkins

The hon. Gentleman spoke for 50 minutes. I hope that he will forgive me if I do not give way.

The hon. Gentleman proposes that we should substitute: (a) by an act of a lewd, obscene and disgusting nature and outraging public decency"— I cannot roll the words round my mouth in quite the way the hon. Gentleman did, but I shall do my best— or (b) by conduct injurious to public morals by tending to corrupt the mind and destroy the love of decency, morality and good order. I cannot think of any words more subjective, and, therefore, more vague and more uncertain, and less satisfactory than those, and I cannot, from any point of view, believe that this would be a substantial improvement.

Then we have Amendments Nos. 5 to 7 in the name of the hon. Member for Totnes (Mr. Mawby), the first of which would bring in a public park, the second of which would bring in land or woodland, and the third of which would bring in premises occupied by somebody by virtue of his employment. I do not think that any of these Amendments are necessary. I think that this can be dealt with by the normal laws of public decency, and that if any of them were to be accepted a most anomalous situation would be created; and in any event they are faulty from a technical point of view.

Then there is Amendment No. 51, again in the name of the hon. Member for Totnes, though on this occasion supported by the hon. Member for Bromsgrove (Mr. Dance), which proposes to insert: in a British Railways sleeping car. This Amendment would also have a curious effect. It would exclude a sleeping car owned by British Railways, but not one owned by Wagons-Lits. It would also create the somewhat anomalous situation by which an act, if performed either in a sleeping car or in a lavatory on the train, would make the person subject to the criminal law, but if performed elsewhere on the train would not make him necessarily so subject, which I do not think is entirely the object which the hon. Gentlemen have in mind. In any event, the whole subject is thoroughly and adequately covered by the fact that an act of indecency would, prima facie, be a breach of railway byelaws which prohibit riotous, disorderly, indecent, or offensive behaviour on the railways. Therefore, I would advise the House that all the Amendments are unnecessary.

Mr. Mawby

I am sure that the House is grateful to the Home Secretary for throwing cold water on the Amendments and giving us some advice which no back bencher can hope to get in the ordinary course of events. As I said on earlier Amendments, I am not wedded to the words of any of my Amendments. I am really concerned with the principle.

I think that it is important to consider the history of this matter, because in Committee my hon. Friend the Member for Chelmsford (Mr. St. John-Stevas) tabled a similar Amendment. Unfortunately, because it was a starred Amendment, it was not selected, but during the debate on the Question, "That the Clause stand part of the Bill" he explained why he had put it forward. I think that there is some substance in what he said, though I do not necessarily agree with his point of view.

My hon. Friend said: I have a particular objection to subsection (2). My first objection is that if there is to be a Clause attempting a definition of privacy it should be phrased in positive rather than negative terms. The whole approach to this subsection is vitiated by the fact that it is framed in negative terms. Avoiding the problem of a positive definition of privacy, it goes on to attempt two rather arbitrary limitations on the conception of privacy."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, Standing Committee F, 19th April, 1967; c. 18]. My hon. Friend then went on to make a number of references to Wolfenden, trying to base his argument upon firm foundations; and his argument was simply that all one needs to do is to lay it down that an act by consenting adults in private is all right. Full stop.

That is what he wanted to put forward, but we have, instead of this, these two—and only two—exceptions which are clearly laid down. Subsection (2) of Clause 1 reads: An act which would otherwise be treated for the purposes of this Act as being done in private shall not be so treated if done—

  1. (a) when more than two persons take part or are present; or
  2. 1448
  3. (b) in a lavatory to which the public have or are permitted to have access, whether on payment or otherwise."
I will not labour the point about more than two persons being present, because my hon. Friend has already spoken about it. But there are anomalies. The Home Secretary informed us, when he quoted the names of those illustrious people who give support to these exceptions being specifically written into the Bill, that this was sufficient; but if there are to be these two specific exceptions then I say that they are not enough.

That is the reason why I have sought to put down one or two Amendments which cannot be exclusive. They can only be examples of what must be covered if one is to specify exemptions and exceptions. This is a point which the Home Secretary, with all his care, did not reply to at all. I would refer to the first Amendment, which is concerned with a public park to which members of the public have access.

If the Home Secretary had said that the courts have, or might have in the future, decided that an act in a public park would not be construed as being an act in private, then my Amendment is destroyed. Yet the right hon. Gentleman did not even attempt to deal with that particular point. So I want to point out to the House that in public parks, to the knowledge of all of us, there are parts in which, indeed, one can see ail sorts of activities going on which offend some people, but from which other people steer away. I am referring to heterosexual activities. Is it to be the case when this Bill passes that homosexual activities can be condoned or ignored as heterosexual activities are at present?

It is a valid question. If the homosexual act was construed by a court as not being in private, then I should be glad to hear what the Home Secretary has to say. Furthermore, there are places other than public parks. We have large areas of land and woodland which are available to the public, but which are not necessarily public parks. They are not laid out as parks are generally understood to be. Sometimes they are in private ownership, but, because they have footpaths and rights of way, people use these areas at weekends and in their leisure time. Most of us have become accustomed to meeting and ignoring courting couples.

If the Amendment is not accepted and the Bill becomes an Act without this exemption, can we be satisfied that in future we shall not come upon homosexual acts which give great public offence? Some hon. Members may feel that to see a homosexual act in a woodland would not give offence, but that it would give offence to the general public. That is why this is an essential Amendment.

The next Amendment covers premises which either person uses by virtue of his employment. This covers factories, workshops, offices, and so on. It is important that these premises should be covered. In the past, employers have found this sort of thing going on in their premises. It should be made clear that neither Parliament nor society is prepared to countenance this sort of activity in a place of work, or even in premises used by either person by virtue of his employment. The acceptance of the Amendment would deal with many of the difficulties which have been mentioned by my right hon. Friend the Member for Ashford (Mr. Deedes). It would cover university premises and the living quarters of those involved.

The Home Secretary rightly had some fun at my expense on the question of British Railways sleeping cars. I do not begrudge him that, but the point involved here may have escaped his notice. The Bill does not apply to Scotland. Night sleepers regularly run from Euston to Edinburgh, Glasgow, and so on. If the Amendment is not accepted perhaps the right hon. Gentleman will tell me what the situation will be. [An HON. MEMBER: "Stop at Carlisle!"] This is a very important point. As far as I can see, two persons who have adjoining sleepers with a communicating door will not be committing any act which is against the bylaws of British Railways—

Mr. Michael Clark Hutchison (Edinburgh, South)

May I remind my hon. Friend that the Home Secretary is so ignorant that he talked about Wagons-Lits running to Scotland. There is no such thing. If he cares to go to King's Cross or Euston he will find that the sleeping cars are ordinary British Railway sleepers. There are no Wagons-Lits in Scotland.

Mr. Roy Jenkins

I talked about them—

Mr. Gurden

On a point of order. Is it in order, Mr. Deputy Speaker, to have one intervention on top of another?

Mr. Deputy Speaker

It is certainly not the practice to have an intervention upon an intervention, but I thought that in this case it might clear the air and allow us to make progress.

Mr. Roy Jenkins

I was talking about Wagons-Lits running from Dover to Victoria.

Mr. Mawby

The important thing is that two passengers who occupy adjoining sleepers after boarding a train at Euston are committing no breach of British Railways by-laws if they indulge in this practice, but as soon as the train crosses the border and goes into Scotland they are committing an offence. Is this the right way to leave a Bill? Are British Railways sleeping car staff to receive special instructions to blow a whistle at the border?

1.0 a.m.

Mr. Dance

Or possibly call, "All out!".

Mr. Mawby

Although we can all see the humour at this hour, this is a serious matter.

The Home Secretary may say that only the Procurator-Fiscal could prosecute, and would give everyone the benefit of the doubt and say that it was all right as they got on at Euston. But two men would be in grave danger, and this is wrong. The Amendment would mean that, in the lavatory of the train or a sleeping car, the act would be legal, but anywhere else on the train would be illegal, and would be covered by British Railways by-laws relating to a public nuisance. Therefore, the right hon. Gentleman did not answer my point. He must have thought that the last Amendment would not be moved, as he did not refer to it, and I would have thought that that matter could safely be left to the prison authorities.

Those hon. Members who agree with my hon. Friend the Member for Chelmsford have a well-based and logical case, that these acts must be between consenting adults in private, without exemption. If it is thought, as the sponsors and the right hon. Gentleman think, that certain exemptions are necessary, the two which are provided are not nearly enough to make it clear not only to us and the general public, but to the courts, who will have to make the final decision, not about what Parliament meant but about what the Act will say—

Mr. J. T. Price

I am following the hon. Gentleman's argument with interest and some agreement. Would he not agree that the most serious departures are not the exceptional cases of woodlands and parks and railway sleepers, but private clubs for the enjoyment and promotion of homosexual activities? I should want the Home Secretary to give more serious thought to this. We all like a joke, but this is not a matter for levity. When we liberalised the betting and gaming laws, much to the abhorrence of many, including myself, we went too far. and now my right hon. Friend wants to tighten them up—

Mr. Deputy Speaker

Order. The hon. Member is making a speech, not an intervention.

Mr. Mawby

I agree entirely with the hon. Member.

The reason I did not deal with that this evening was that we debated in Committee a new Clause which was specifically designed to deal with clubs which set out to take advantage of homosexuals and those prone to these practices. I apologise to the hon. Member, but if I repeated that I would be out of order. I certainly agree that this is an important matter, and so is the point about privacy.

There will be those who will go into the Lobby having decided that there should be no exemptions at all. On balance, I think that there should be exemptions, but they are not enough. If the sponsor went so far as to say that, regard less of the wording of the Amendments which may be very bad indeed, he accepted the principle I have tried to establish, he would go some way to carrying me along with him.

Mr. Quintin Hogg (St. Marylebone)

I rise for only a few moments to raise what I think an important point which emerges from the Home Secretary's speech. He, I think, was more concerned to amuse the House than to enlighten it. It is very important that this point should be elucidated. I am glad to see the Attorney-General present. Perhaps it is a question for the Attorney-General rather than for the Home Secretary.

We are dealing with the criminal law. We are dealing with an offence for which people have been punished in the past and defining an area in which they may be punished in future. It is as well rather seriously to discuss exactly what the law we are to pass, if we are to pass it, is to mean. The main purpose of the Bill is to legalise, or, at any rate, to remove from the Criminal Law Amendment Act, 1885, and from the common law, acts done in private by two consenting adults. Until I heard the speech of the Home Secretary, I was more or less under the impression that I knew what was meant by the words "in private", but, having heard his speech, I am in serious doubt as to what those words mean.

If the purpose is to legalise, or, at any rate, to remove from the ambit of the criminal law an act done in private, it is important that Parliament should use language which makes clear both to the courts and those accused of offences what is meant by "in private". If the Home Secretary's argument—if it can be called an argument and not a jeu d'espirit—amounted to anything, it amounted to saying that what is done in a public park can be done in private. Is that the view of the Attorney-General? Is what is done in a public place something which is done in private if only two people happen to be present? If so, I do not understand the meaning of subsection (2) as it stands.

The subsection says: An act which would otherwise be treated for the purposes of this Act as being done in private shall not be so treated if done— (a) when more than two persons take part or are present; If the only test of what is done in private is the presence of two people and no more, I can understand what the Bill is trying to say. It would be a perfectly rational test and a relatively easy one to apply, although relatively difficult to conceive of circumstances in which the witness to a homosexual act would be likely to give evidence.

If there is a conception of what is done in private other than that, I think that we should know what it is and how definite a meaning can be attached to it in law. Is what is done in a railway train, to which people have access on payment of their fares, done in private or not? Is that which is done in a public park done in private or not? People should not be left in doubt about this. We are entitled, either from the Law Officer, or the sponsor of the Bill, or someone else, to have a more definite and precise answer to the question than that which the Home Secretary has given the House.

Mr. Roy Jenkins

The broad position about what is in private stands, and has been accepted by another place, on the Wolfenden approach to this matter. The Wolfenden Committee thought that it was for the court to decide whether public decency had been outraged and thought that in general there would not be any greater difficulty in establishing this for homosexual acts than for heterosexual acts. But, in addition, the view was taken in another place that there should be included this special provision relating to public lavatories, which is obviously a social feature of homosexuality as opposed to the heterosexual act. There was also the provision about more than two people being present, to deal with any possible danger of orgies developing.

Mr. Hogg

With respect, I do not think that the Home Secretary has applied his mind to my difficulty. Although it may be immoral, the heterosexual act is not illegal in the sense of being criminal. Broadly speaking, under the 1885 Act, which the Bill does not seek to repeal, the homosexual act is illegal in the sense of being criminal. There are a number of common law offences which have been mentioned by their old-fashioned names in the debate and which are also intrinsically illegal in the sense of being criminal. That is not true of the heterosexual act.

Although one can understand that the House of Lords would be satisfied in the case of heterosexual acts that only those things which can easily be witnessed in the case of heterosexual acts would be against the criminal law, this is not so, intrinsically, about the Bill. What the House must apply its mind to in the Amendment and the Clause is this: two adults who may be contemplating conduct of a homosexual character want to know whether they are protected from prosecution. One must consider this as a serious question, because people cannot be left in doubt as to whether they are committing criminal conduct. The 1885 Act deals with what used to be called a complete offence—an act of gross indecency—which is intrinsically still illegal, because we have not repealed either of those provisions; but that is not criminal if it is done in private. As far as I know, the Act does not contain a definition of what is meant by "in private". Originally, I thought that I knew, but the Home Secretary's speech has put me in considerable doubt.

It is not good enough to talk about the Wolfenden Report, because the courts will not be able to refer to the Wolfenden Report. It is not a document which one can cite in court as an authority for what the statute means. Juries will not be able to hear the Wolfenden Report. It is not good enough for Parliament, as a law-making body to say, "We shall leave it to the courts and to juries to decide what is in private and what is not", especially when we cannot even answer a straight question whether what is done in a place such as a public park is in private or in public.

The Attorney-General owes the House some guidance—or perhaps the sponsor of the Bill would give it, because he has not approached the matter in quite the light-hearted spirit of the Home Secretary.

1.15 a.m.

Sir G. Nabarro

Before my right hon. and learned Friend sits down, and to follow his argument, is he aware that in paragraph 64, on page 25, the Wolfenden Report takes this very point, and starts off with these words: Our words 'in private' are not intended to provide a legal definition"?

Mr. Hogg

I am obliged to my hon. Friend. I had not recalled that phrase, but it does support the argument I was putting forward. If Parliament is to pass this legislation it must be clearly in such form that the courts will know what to do and the public will know what not to do.

Mr. Abse

That paragraph to which reference has been made continues: It is our intention that the law should continue to regard as criminal any indecent act committed in a place where members of the public may be likely to see and be offended by it … The view taken in the other place by Lord Dilhorne was that the conduct should be deemed to be in private unless more than two persons are present when the homosexual conduct takes place; and that if there are only two people that should be regarded as in private. Of course, if it takes place in a public place—

Mr. Speaker

This is a long question to ask before the right hon. and learned Member sits down. The question must be brief.

Mr. Abse

To come to a conclusion, the distinction I put to the right hon. and learned Gentleman is that understood in another place, that if it was likely to be observed, and in a public place, the courts would be in no difficulty in coming to the conclusion that it was not taking place in private.

Mr. Hogg

I do not want to prolong my remarks, which were intended to be extremely short, but I am not reassured by this. If the Bill had used that language, that if an indecent act is committed in a place where members of the public may be likely to see it and be offended at it, I thing that I would have found the expression intelligible, but the Bill does no use this language. It uses a phrase which, as my hon. Friend the Member for Worcestershire, South (Sir G. Nabarro) reminded me, was deliberately intended not to have a precise, legal significance.

One has to ask what is meant by the phrase as it is in the Bill. When considering an Amendment which would omit or qualify or extend the phrase in Clause 1(2), one finds that neither the Home Secretary has given us any rational account of the matter, except to refer us back to the Wolfenden Report, which is not a legal document; nor, apparently, has the sponsor of the Bill been able to do more than say that the phrase is one which was not to be put into the Bill.

Mr. Dance

I will be extremely brief. I refer to Amendment No. 51 and British Railways sleeping cars. I do not know whether I would be in order if I were to extend that to cabins in British Railways packet boats, but I believe that they would be a similar category. There could be a very difficult situation for two people enjoying their particular form of amusement—it does not appeal to me—aboard the packet, and being within the law if the Bill is passed, if they suddenly found the vessel arriving at—shall we say?—a Scottish port.

Would they then we breaking the law? Where is the law broken? Within the three-mile limit? Or has the vessel to tie up? I feel that we should have had more clarification about this whole subject. After all, let us face it, these people—I do not agree with what they do—ought to know exactly where they stand. Where do they stand? I hope that one of the Law Officers or the Home Secretary will give us this information, because it is extremely important.

My hon. Friend the Member for Totnes (Mr. Mawby) spoke very well, if I may say so, on the subject of sleeping cars, but the argument applies just as much to the cabins of packet boats—perhaps more so, because when one arrives over the border in a sleeping car on the railway one knows more or less where one is—or so one hopes—but tides may change and one may be anchored outside for some time before coming in to land. Who is to warn these unfortunate people when they are or are not breaking the law?

Again, as my right hon. and learned Friend asked, when two, three or more people are involved what is the situation in relation to the "peeping Tom"? Two people indulging in these practices may imagine they are unobserved and they may be all right. On the other hand, they may think that other people of the same convictions would like to look in on them, and may pay to look—[HON. MEMBERS: "Disgusting."] I know that it is disgusting but it could happen and it does take place, I gather, in other countries.

If that takes place, who is to blame—the two people concerned, or the people organising the "peeping Tom" episode? Or are they all concerned? I do not agree with these practices, I do not like them at all, but I think that those who indulge in them should show where they they are. Are they within the law if they indulge in these practices at the three-mile limit and outside the law when they tie up alongside? This may sound funny, Mr. Speaker, but I do not intend it to be funny at all. It is an extremely serious subject—

Mr. Speaker

Order. I accept that the hon. Member regards the subject as serious, but he must link his seriousness with one of the Amendments we are now discussing.

Mr. Dance

I was about to sit down, Mr. Speaker.

I want clarification on this question of railway sleeping cars or cabins in boats, and on the question of who is the criminal in the "peeping Tom" case?

Dr. David Kerr rose in his place and claimed to move, That the Question be now put.

Question put, That the Question be now put:—

The House divided: Ayes 116, Noes 27.

Division No. 420.] AYES [1.25 a.m.
Abse, Leo Grimond, Rt. Hn. J. Owen, Dr. David (Plymouth, S'tn)
Albu, Austen Hale, Leslie (Oldham, W.) Palmer, Arthur
Allaun, Frank (Salford, E.) Hamling, William Pannell, Rt. Hn. Charles
Allen, Scholefield Haseldine, Norman Pardoe, John
Archer, Peter Hobden, Denis (Brighton, K'town) Parkyn, Brian (Bedford)
Astor, John Hooley, Frank Pavitt, Laurence
Atkinson, Norman (Tottenham) Houghton, Rt. Hn. Douglas Price, Christopher (Perry Barr)
Barnes, Michael Howell, Denis (Small Heath) Richard, Ivor
Benn, Rt. Hn. Anthony Wedgwood Huckfield, L. Ridley, Hn. Nicholas
Booth, Albert Hughes, Emrys (Ayrshire, S.) Roberts, Gwilym (Bedfordshire, S.)
Boyle, Rt. Hn. Sir Edward Hunt, John Robinson, Rt. Hn. Kenneth (St. P'c'as)
Brooke, Edwin Jackson, Colin (B'h'se & Spenb'gh) Robinson, W. O. J. (Walth'stow, E.)
Cant, R. B. Jackson, Peter M. (High Peak) Rowland, Christopher (Meriden)
Carmichael, Neil Jeger, Mrs. Lena (H'b'n&St.P'cras, S.) Rowlands, E. (Cardiff, N.)
Castle, Rt. Hn. Barbara Jenkins, Hugh (Putney) Shaw, Arnold (Ilford, S.)
Channon, H. P. G. Jenkins, Rt. Hn. Roy (Stechford) Shore, Peter (Stepney)
Chapman, Donald Johnson Smith, G. (E. Grinstead) Silkin, Rt. Hn. John (Deptford)
Crawshaw, Richard Jones,Rt.Hn.Sir Elwyn(W.Ham,S.) Silverman, Julius (Aston)
Crossman, Rt. Hn. Richard Judd, Frank Skeffington, Arthur
Dalyell, Tam Kerr, Mrs. Anne (R'ter & Chatham) Steel, David (Roxburgh)
Davidson, Arthur (Accrington) Kerr, Dr. David (W'worth, Central) Stonehouse, John
de Freitas, Rt. Hn. Sir Geoffrey Kerr, Russell (Foltham) Strauss, Rt. Hn. G. R.
Dell, Edmund Kirk, Peter Swinger, Stephen
Dewar, Donald Luard, Evan Taverne, Dick
Diamond, Rt. Hn. John Lubbock, Eric Teeling, Sir William
Dobson, Ray Lyon, Alexander (York) Thomson, Rt. Hn. George
Dunwoody, Mrs. Gwyneth (Exeter) MacDermot, Niall Thorpe, Rt. Hn. Jeremy
Dunwoody, Dr. John (F'th&C'b'e) Macdonald, A. H. Walker-Smith, Rt. Hn. Sir Derek
Ellis, John Mackintosh, John P. Walters, Dennis
English, Michael McNamara, J. Kevin Whitaker, Ben
Ensor, David Maddan, Martin White, Mrs. Eirene
Faulds, Andrew Marquand, David Williams, Alan Lee (Hornchurch)
Fernyhough, E. Mendelson, J. J. Williams, Mrs. Shirley (Hitchin)
Fitch, Alan (Wigan) Mikardo, Ian Wilson, William (Coventry, S.)
Fletcher, Ted (Darlington) Montgomery, Fergus Worsley, Marcus
Foot, Michael (Ebbw Vale) Moonman, Eric Yates, Victor
Fraser,Rt.Hn.Hugh(St'fford&Stone) Morrison, Charles (Devizes)
Gardner, Tony Newens, Stan TELLERS FOR THE AYES:
Ginsburg, David Noel-Baker, Francis (Swindon) Mr. Eric G. Varley and
Gregory, Arnold Orme, Stanley Mr. Ian Gilmour.
Allason, James (Hemel Hempstead) Hutchison, Michael Clark Rees-Davies, W. R.
Bullus, Sir Eric MacArthur, Ian Sharpies, Richard
Dance, James Mahon, Peter (Preston, S.) Sinclair, Sir George
Farr, John Marten, Neil Summers, Sir Spencer
Giles, Rear-Adm. Morgan Mawby, Ray Taylor, Sir Charles (Eastbourne)
Goodhart, Philip Maydon, Lt.-Cmdr. S. L. C. Taylor, Edward M. (G'gow, Cathcart)
Goodhew, Victor Morgan, Elystan (Cardiganshire) Tomney, Frank
Gower, Raymond Page, Graham (Crosby)
Grant-Ferris, R. Percival, Ian TELLERS FOR THE NOES:
Hogg, Rt. Hn. Quintin Price, Thomas (Westhoughton) Sir Gerald Nabarro and
Mr. Harold Gurden.

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