HC Deb 02 June 1967 vol 747 cc493-529

This Act shall continue in force until the thirty-first day of December, nineteen hundred and seventy-three, and shall then expire, unless Parliament otherwise determines.—[Mr. Braine.]

Brought up, and read the First time.

Mr. Braine

I beg to move, That the Clause be read a Second time.

The House has just seen fit to reject a safeguard which in their wisdom and experience the British Medical Association and the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists thought necessary, and it has done so on the advice of the Minister of Health who changed his mind between the Committee stage and today. I was profoundly shocked by this abdication of responsibility on the part of a Minister who is charged with the duty of protecting the nation's health. So be it, but in my view that makes this safeguarding Clause all the more important.

The Clause was first suggested by the British Council of Churches at its last meeting in April of this year. While the Council was agreed—as I think practically everybody in this House is agreed, and the leaders of the medical profession are agreed—upon the need for a reform of the law, it was deeply concerned with the Bill in its present form, and even if the Bill is amended, as it may be, to take account of some of these anxieties, one would expect that within a few years of its coming into operation there will be a need to look at its provisions afresh.

The sponsor of the Bill, the hon. Member for Roxburgh, Selkirk and Peebles (Mr. David Steel), said earlier today that we had quite a lot of information about abortion in this country. I beg to differ. I am advised by the B.M.A., and, indeed, by every responsible gynaecologist and obstetrician to whom I have talked about this matter, that one of the difficulties hitherto has been the dearth of reliable information upon which to base both medical and social policy. The estimate of the number of illegal abortions—which are not merely the back street abortions, but those that are self-induced—varies from 30,000 to 200,000 a year. That is a pretty wide variation by any yardstick, and if we take the latter figure, it means that in this country today there is one abortion for every five live births. I do not accept that figure. I sense that it is unreasonable, but I just do not know. It may be exaggerated, but it may not.

We know the number of therapeutic and septic abortions carried out in National Health Service hospitals. We know something about the length of stay. We know the number of deaths arising directly from abortions—happily there do not appear to be very many—but we know nothing at all about abortions carried out outside the National Health Service. We know very little indeed about the pattern of morbidity. It is true, of course, that the notification provisions in the Bill will provide us with a great deal of information which we lack at present, for example, the grounds on which terminations are carried out, and the hazards of the operation. We shall learn a great deal about that. We shall discover the demands which all this will make on the skilled personnel in the Health Service, on doctors and nurses. We shall discover the demand for beds and theatre facilities. We may well learn a great deal about the trend in social attitudes, but as to the present trends and what they are likely to be when a more permissive law is enacted, we are legislating here today largely in the dark.

It is understandable, therefore, that against that background many leading figures in the medical profession, and many of the leaders in the Church communities, have argued that before passing this Bill we should have had a Royal Commission to establish both the facts about abortion in this country, and the results of comparable legislation in other countries. If, however, the House rejects that argument and feels that Parliament ought not to wait, and that we should be prepared to grasp this nettle firmly, then it is reasonable that the Measure should be reviewed in not less than five years' time from now.

We have agreed to reconsider, at the end of a similar period, our decision to abolish hanging for murder. Is it too much to ask that we should review a decision which inevitably means increasing the destruction of potential life? That is what the Bill is about. If it is not about that it is not about anything.

The hope of the sponsors of the Bill is so to change the law that many abortions which take place at the moment illegally—either in the back streets or, self-induced, by some poor, unfortunate woman, driven to desperation—shall be brought within the framework of legality. That is the aim and justification of the Bill. It is clear that if the Bill serves any useful purpose there will be a substantial increase in the number of legal abortions and, therefore, in the destruction on a large scale of potential life.

We can be certain of only one thing if the Bill is passed: it will be expected that abortions will be more freely obtainable under the National Health Service. One reason why the Minister of Health took the line he did this morning may be that he thinks it will all be taken care of in National Health Service hospitals. Nobody in his senses believes that this will happen. With the present pressures being brought to bear upon the hospital service it is clear that if there is an increasing demand for abortion it can be satisfied—certainly in the initial stages—only in the private sector, and that if it is to be satisfied under the National Health Service without detriment to the large number of women who need other forms of gynaecological treatment there will have to be a large expansion in the facilities of the National Health Service.

But if abortions are to be more freely obtainable in the private sector this is bound to affect public and medical attitudes in a variety of ways. Whether the Bill is amended or not in regard to its social provisions it is likely to lead to a sharp rise in demand. This will lead to increasing pressure upon the limited resources of the hospital service.

Expectations might therefore be aroused which could not be fulfilled within the National Health Service. Many people in the medical world believe that this could lead to a rise in the number of illegal abortions. It is certain to lead to a very sharp rise in the number of legal abortions carried out in approved nursing homes in return for fees. For those reasons it is imperative to put a duty upon the sponsors of the Bill and upon the Government to review the whole matter after a reasonable period.

But there is another and compelling reason why we should insist upon a review. The frontiers of medical knowledge are constantly being advanced. One of the great joys of those who have been associated with the Ministry of Health or with health generally is the sense of adventure in medical matters—the feeling that the war against disease and ill health is being waged constantly and relentlessly. New problems arise, but other problems are being overcome because of the skill and inventiveness of those engaged in this work. It is an exciting process.

In Committee we were told repeatedly by its sponsors that the Bill should be drafted in a form which made it possible to take account of changes in medical techniques. It was suggested—and I believe that this is correct—that it may be possible to induce abortions by means of drugs and without the need for any surgical operation. The risk to health may be reduced, and one must hope that something of this nature comes about. But one can envisage two possible lines of development—first, that an abortion which would involve processes which do not require the provision of a properly equipped operating theatre—and we are entitled to assume that that would be a minimum requirement that the Minister would lay down in any Regulations issued in respect of the control of premises—might easily be carried out in the patient's own home, and, secondly, that new techniques might raise new hazards. It does not always follow that the introduction of a new technique is immediately successful. It may raise new dangers.

I am choosing my words very carefully. I have discussed the matter in great detail with those best qualified to know, and I am told that the inducement of abortion by certain chemical substances which I will not name carries with it considerable chance of causing grave abnormality in the child in the event of the pregnancy continuing. Whether or not this is so there are hazards involved. Certainly there are possibilities that techniques will change, perhaps quite rapidly. Certainly there will be an increasing demand for abortion. Certainly the passage of the Bill will raise expectations all over the land which hitherto could have been satisfied only by some unfortunate woman going to a back street abortionist.

One thing is clear: in countries overseas where permissive abortion has been encouraged by legislation, experience has subsequently shown the necessity to review and amend the law. I hope that we can learn from that experience. I do not need to go into the question in detail; other hon. Members have studied the matter and will wish to speak about it. Overseas experience suggests that an early review is vital.

If, therefore, we are to give the Bill a Third Reading we should recognise that it is bound to be followed by considerable changes in public attitudes, mental attitudes, techniques and demand, the extent of which we cannot now judge. We should insist upon a review after a reasonable period.

Mr. David Steel

I want briefly to indicate my attitude to the new Clause. I do not quarrel with the general proposition put forward by the hon. Member for Essex, South-East (Mr. Braine) that the results of the passing of the Bill will be to provide us with much more concrete information about the whole subject of abortion—because of the Regulations for notification—than we have had up to the moment. I also agree that it is possible that at some future time Parliament will wish to make alterations to what would then be the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act.

But the examples given by the hon. Member were examples of changes which might be made to make abortion more easy and not to make it more restrictive. The question of the development of new techniques and the possibility of a pill being developed which makes it unnecessary to have operations carried out in approved nursing homes and operating theatres, is a matter which is controlled not by the Bill but by Regulations made under it. These can, of course, be altered from time to time as the Ministry of Health sees the need.

2.0 p.m.

Changes which have been found necessary in the legislation of other countries have made the administration of abortion easier. I do not see that, in the near future or in five years, any substantial alterations to the Bill would be required. But the new Clause is not about abortion at all but about a matter of wider principle which should be the concern of Parliament as a whole. Parliament is sovereign and we should not impose on our successors the obligation of particular legislation.

The hon. Member suggested that the Bill's sponsors should be required to review it in five years, but, of course, they will have no power, even if the new Clause were passed, to do so. There is no guarantee that a private Member would have luck in the Ballot or would wish to deal with this matter anyway in 1973. Therefore, the responsibility could fall only on the Government of the day.

It is just possible that in 1973 my party will not be in power, but if it were, I as a member of a Liberal Government would feel that there were other matters to which that Government should pay attention and that they should tinker with the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act only if there were clear evidence that it required amendment. Otherwise, they should get on with putting through more important legislation.

To take the hon. Member's case, if things went well with him, he might hope that, in 1973, he would be Minister of Health. Would he, in that situation—no doubt with ambitious plans for the Health Service and future administration of health—like to be told in 1973 that he must go through the whole process over this Bill, which has taken Parliament a year, whether necessary or not, in the fight of the information then available? That would put us in an extraordinary position.

We must leave Parliament free, of course, to amend this legislation if subsequently, as a result of the Regulations which we have provided for notification, it proved necessary. That would be the situation if we simply passed the Bill. Parliament could alter it at any time in future if necessary, but it would be undesirable in principle to extend what I consider was a mistake over another Bill and require Parliament to review it in five years, because the same arguments could be applied to every piece of legislation.

Mr. Simon Mahon (Bootle)

I support the new Clause, which requires that the Bill shall expire on 31st December, 1973, unless Parliament otherwise determines. There have been some remarkable conversions this morning, not least the attitudes taken towards this operation for the termination of a pregnancy. All through our discussions, we were told by people who said that they had knowledge and information that the operation was very simple, and that there were hardly any risks. Most of these people now say that it is a very serious operation.

We were also told by the hon. Member for Roxburgh, Selkirk and Peebles (Mr. David Steel) that we who oppose the Bill had not produced the right kind of information. He has just said, however that there is a dearth of information. I say to him, with great respect, that the only reliable information on the subject about which he speaks was produced by me—and not easily, but after a considerable amount of research into this very complex subject, which was exercising our minds so greatly in that long and almost interminable Committee.

However, having produced that, what we are now asking is that we should look at the figures collated over the next six or seven years. It is important that hon. Members should have some idea of the effect of these figures had they been available this morning. I had expected the Minister, who replied rather inadequately to such a serious point, to produce some evidence about what the position would be and the effect on National Health engagement both within and without hospitals.

The hon. Member made no attempt to gather the figures which so many hon. Members have worked so diligently to produce. Hardly an hon. Member has any idea of the figures for Sweden. Sweden has been quoted glibly this morning, but no figures have been produced. Has any hon. Member any idea how many unwanted pregnancies are legally terminated for every 100 live births in any Continental country? I will give way to any hon. Member for an answer—

Mr. David Steel

The figure for Denmark is one in 200.

Mr. Mahon

Would the hon. Gentleman expand on that?

Mr. Steel

That is the figure.

Mr. Mahon

The position is this. I can give the figures for legal abortion rates and this has some effect on the validity of the hon. Gentleman's argument about whether we should examine the Bill again in six years. How different our opinions might be when we go into the Lobby if we had this sort of figure.

These are authentic figures from a completely unbiased source. They are the figures of Liverpool University. The Professor of Gynaecology and Obstetrics there is a man of high repute in his profession, nationally and internationally. I have often thought, incidentally, that the names of other gynaecologists have been treated with scant courtesy in Committee and sometimes in this Chamber, and that it would be as well if we applauded the work of some of these men to keep our homes and families and country right.

Not least among them is the man I am quoting, Professor Jeffcoate, of Liverpool University—

Mr. Deputy Speaker (Mr. Sydney Irving)

Order. I must remind the hon. Gentleman that the new Clause deals with duration and I should be grateful if he would relate his remarks to the new Clause.

Mr. Mahon

I am trying to point out to the House, Mr. Deputy Speaker—I will also obey your Ruling—that it is essential that the House should review its decisions this morning at some later date. We are taking a decision without this knowledge. Therefore, with great respect, perhaps I may be allowed to run quickly through these figures, which may help. No one in the House, either in the Ministry or elsewhere, has produced these figures, which are of great benefit—

Mr. Deputy Speaker

I should point out to the hon. Member that I am not objecting to the figures, but simply asking that he should relate them to the new Clause.

Mr. Mahon

We should have some idea what the effect would be this year, next year or the year after of an estimated number of operations which could take place in this country. No one has yet offered any estimate of the number of legal or illegal abortions which have taken place per 100 live births. There has been no attempt to give any figure. In Poland, the figure for legal abortions for every 100 live births is 23. In Yugoslavia, there are 25 legal abortions for every 100 live births. In Czechoslovakia, there are 42 legal abortions for every 100 live births. In Bulgaria, there are 53 legal abortion operations for every 100 live births.

The figure for Hungary is staggering. In a country with a population of 10¼ million, there are 123 legal abortions for every 100 live births. Is that not a startling figure, and is there any Member of the House who could look at that figure impassively without laying his hand on his heart and saying, "This must not happen in this country"?

Mr. David Steel

Would the hon. Member accept two points—first, that several of the countries that he mentioned have no adequate family planning provisions, and, secondly, that in Hungary the law is simply abortion on request and the medical profession may not refuse to perform abortion if requested? That is quite different from the proposal in the Bill.

Mr. Mahon

I do not concede for a moment that the hon. Member is right. His answers are too slick and too suave. I am dealing with practicalities.

The hon. Member cannot dismiss these figures lightly. They are outstanding and alarming figures. We are giving our people ample opportunity in family planning and in every other respect. It might give the hon. Member, who has pursued the Bill so assiduously, food for thought. As has been suggested by the new Clause, he should try to find out what will be the combined effect of family planning and of abortion. He might be prepared to see whether the figures in 10 years' time are larger than they are today.

Mr. John Tilney (Liverpool, Wavertree)

Has the hon. Member the figures for Japan, where family planning is possible and where every kind of gadget for that purpose is used, but where, nevertheless, the abortion figures are astronomical?

Mr. Mahon

The hon. Member comes from the same city as myself, but there is no collusion between us on this matter, although I happen to have some figures relating to Japan. I hope that my hon. Friend the Member for Liverpool, Kirkdale (Mr. Dunn) does not intervene. I have not all the figures for Japan, but I have some. I will give two figures for Japan and then stray no further into that aspect.

One figure is for the recurrence of unwanted pregnancy where abortion takes place. This is the sort of information for which the hon. Member was asking. In fact, 20 per cent. of people who had abortions had a recurrent unwanted pregnancy within six months and 50 per cent. had a recurrent unwanted pregnancy within 18 months. Moreover, there were 161 deaths from induced abortion and 350 cases of perforated uterus.

Had these figures been available to hon. Members in Committee our task would have been a great deal easier. That is why I suggest that we should correlate all this information over the next few years so that the House can take a fresh look at the whole of the legislation that we are passing.

The opinions of many people on this matter have come to light only in recent months. When this legislation is passed, if it be passed, we shall achieve a greater degree of knowledge not only from other countries but from our own. It has been said that there are no figures relating to National Health Service hospitals, but one figure has been given about a sample of 10 per cent. of doctors who were said to be in favour of this Bill. In fact, there is another 10 per cent. sample inquiry based on the National Health Service hospitals. In the year 1961—these are figures which the House should know and realise are important—there were 69,000 abortions. There were 2,300 therapeutic abortions and 2,900 septic abortions. That figure rose consistently until 1964, when there were 75,000 abortions, 3,300 therapeutic abortions and 2,000 septic abortions.

All of this information was not available in Committee and we had a very difficult time trying to persuade hon. Members in Committee to give us information. Indeed, there were times when we had scant courtesy from them. Now I take the opportunity to convey to the House the results of much hard work before the House takes any further decision. These figures illustrate the immensity of the problem—a problem which starts with the serious nature of even a single abortion.

I started by condemning people for saying that this was a simple operation. It is anything but simple. I will conclude by trying to convey how necessary it is to look at the position in five or six years' time. The expert gynaecologists who are doing the job from day to day in the hospitals are vitally and immediately concerned with what we are doing today. Let us give them some hope that the position will be reviewed at least to some extent.

It must be reviewed if we get a plea from the heart such as that in a letter which I shall quote. When I was asking for this information from Ministers it was not available in Committee and I had to look elsewhere for it. I visited every hospital from which I could get information and I visited clinics. I obtained as much information as I could about the whole problem of pregnancy, from conception to abortion. I did all that because of the paucity of the information which had been given to us in Committee.

2.15 p.m.

I have here a letter, dated 6th March, from Professor T. N. A. Jeffcoate, Professor of Obstetrics and Gynaecology at the University of Liverpool. This most experienced man writes: I now have a little more information about the risks of induced abortion in respect of subsequent pregnancies. This was mentioned in the discussion at the Liverpool Medical Institution last week. It is concerned with experience in Sweden and the figures are not yet published but they are reliable. A large number of cases in which the uterus ruptured during pregnancy or labour have been collected from Swedish hospitals. As a result of this accident 18 per cent. of the affected women die. In approximately 20 per cent. of the cases, at least, the cause of the rupture of the uterus in labour is weakness of the scar which was left as a result of the induction of abortion in a previous pregnancy. The weakness of the uterus which resulted in rupture was only due to an abdominal operation in a few cases. In most cases it was the result of simple operative treatment to terminate an unwanted pregnancy. These comments deal with only one of the subsequent hazards of induction of abortion, but I thought you might like to have the figures in case you can make use of them at some stage. He adds a postscript: Perhaps I should add that those women who do not die from rupture of the uterus are nevertheless seriously ill and have to have a major operation. This, in most cases, means removal of the uterus completely and therefore no further childbearing. Rupture of the uterus also almost always means loss of the baby in the affected pregnancy. I have supported the Labour Party all my adult life, but I did not expect the Government to provide extra time for this Bill. I wish to be completely honest about this. I consider it disgraceful that they should have taken this departure of providing Government time for a Bill of this kind, particularly when considering what is happening in the world. I am discussing this matter as an ordinary working-class layman and to think—

Mr. Deputy Speaker

Order. The hon. Gentleman cannot raise this matter on this new Clause. He may find an opportunity to raise it later. He must address his remarks to the Clause.

Mr. Mahoo

I will not carry your patience beyond endurance, Mr. Deputy Speaker. I regret the attitude of the Minister this morning and I am thoroughly disappointed with both the Minister and the Government over this issue.

Mr. Joseph Hiley (Pudsey)

I support the new Clause. I was interested to hear the concluding remarks of the hon. Member for Bootle (Mr. Simon Mahon). I assure him that the sentiments he expressed are shared by many of my hon. Friends.

When we were debating the Betting and Gaming Act, 1960, the hon. Member who is sponsoring this Bill, the hon. Member for Roxburgh, Selkirk and Peebles (Mr. David Steel) was probably still at school. [HON. MEMBERS: "Cheap."] in those days we were talking about back-street bookies. Today, we are talking about back-street abortionists. In those days, we were worried about the problems being caused by back-street bookies operating against the law and I recall the hon. Member for Bermondsey (Mr. Mellish), now the Joint Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Housing and Local Government, referring to bookies standing behind the dock gates. Those of us who come from the North spoke of how bookies' runners operated in the mills and factories.

We had the feeling at that time that the Betting and Gaming Act would put everything right. I challenge those who debated that Measure at that time—and I regret to say that I was a member of the Standing Committee—to say whether they conceived what would be the result of that so-called liberalising legislation. Out of it has come increased gambling and gaming, with bingo halls and the rest. I fear that out of the so-called liberalising Bill which we are now discussing will arise even greater evils than arose out of the Betting and Gaming Act.

Obviously, the horrible practice of back-street abortions must receive our attention and we must do everything we can to remedy the situation. However, we should not use this problem as an excuse for introducing legislation which, I believe, will ultimately lead to abortion on demand. Do not let us allow the present problem to lead us along the path of some Communist countries in which there is abortion on demand.

Mr. Deputy Speaker

Order. The hon. Gentleman is going a long way from the new Clause, which does not oppose the Bill but merely seeks to introduce a review period. He must address his remarks to the Clause.

Mr. Hiley

I apologise, Mr. Deputy Speaker. I am not a sufficiently experienced speaker to appreciate these finer points.

We are legislating in the dark and I urge the sponsor or the Government—I do not know who is in charge of the Bill at this stage—to accept the new Clause because there are many aspects of the Measure about which we are not clear. By accepting it we will have an opportunity of reviewing the whole matter in five years' time. Between now and then statistics can be collected about whether our worst fears have materialised or whether the advantages claimed by the sponsors of the Bill have been realised. It would appear that the sponsors of the Measure have little confidence in it if they are not prepared to allow it to come before Parliament after a five-year experimental period.

Those who consider that the Measure is going too far will agree with the sentiments expressed in a leader in The Times this morning, for those sentiments advocate what is proposed in the new Clause. The writer reveals truly and adequately how many people are uncertain about the terms of the Bill.

I hope that we will not pass the Bill in its present form. Five years is sufficient a period before looking at the matter again. I beg the sponsors of the Measure to heed what is being said by those who support the Clause and to allow the Bill to have the further consideration that will be required in five years' time.

Mr. Douglas Houghton (Sowerby)

The new Clause embodies a thoroughly bad principle. This House should be reluctant to pass legislation with the terminal date dependent on further action by Parliament at a future time.

The hon. Member for Essex, South-East (Mr. Braine) referred to the conditional provision for the abolition of hanging. The difference between hanging and this Measure is that the Government would have to take action on the termination of an Act of Parliament suspending capital punishment because the Government must erect the scaffold to restore the status quo ante, because the Government must provide the executioner and the Government cannot evade their responsibility in that connection. They can, however, in this.

There is no need for the Government or Parliament to do anything at the end of five years. They do not have to erect the scaffold. The Measure could lapse and, indeed, the new Clause states that it should lapse unless Parliament decides otherwise. How are the Government to decide otherwise?

Mr. St. John-Stevas rose

Mr. Houghton

No. I will not give way.

The hon. Member for Roxburgh, Selkirk and Peebles (Mr. David Steel) explained that the Bill depends on private Members' initiative and up till now—indeed, until this day—it has depended on private Members' time. No Government have dealt with this problem in 100 years. Governments shirk all moral issues that arouse deep questions of conscience and religious differences. Hon. Members know that, and sometimes I feel angry when I hear them suggesting that the normal process of private Members' procedure should be left to deal with important matters of this kind. "Cynical hypocrisy" is my comment about that.

Let us consider the practical aspects of the matter. Suppose Parliament does nothing about it; that no private hon. Member is successful in the Ballot, or, if he is successful, he chooses some other subject and the Government of the day, even though the hon. Member for Essex, South-East might be the Minister of Health, decide to do nothing. Conservative Governments usually find it easier to do nothing, rather than something, especially in a matter of this kind. The Measure may lapse. What then? Presumably—and there are some distinguished lawyers present—the provisions of the Offences Against the Person Act, 1861, would be restored.

2.30 p.m.

Mr. Hogg

The right hon. Gentleman is mistaken about that. They are not abolished or amended by this Bill. They are still in force under the Bill. They would not need restoration.

Mr. Houghton

I thought that that was the legal position, and I am glad to have confirmation of it. The 1861 Act would be the only Government Measure left. If that is so, we are restored to the position in which abortions in certain circumstances, on the opinion, given in good faith, of one registered medical practitioner, is enough. Abortions could be performed in places not designated by the Minister of Health, because the 1861 Act makes no provision for where abortions shall be performed. If the Measure were allowed to lapse, we would be restored to the present position, with all its imperfections and all its scandals, and I am sure that that is not in contemplation when the House is introducing reforming legislation.

We see how dependent on action to be taken by the Government of the day the future of our abortion laws would be. The back-street abortionist would then, perhaps, be restored to his kingdom, because the safeguards in the Bill would go as well as its liberalising Clauses. Indeed, if hon. Members in some quarters have their way, still more safeguards would be introduced—and they would all go if the Measure were to lapse at the end of five years.

I am sorry to find myself in such disagreement with my hon. Friend the member for Bootle (Mr. Simon Mahon), but all he said about the figures has nothing to do with this new Clause. The House can take note of the number of legal abortions done in accordance with the provisions of this Measure, and notified in accordance with its provisions at any time. It need not wait for five years, or it might feel it desirable to wait for seven years. This is a thoroughly bad constitutional proposal in any case, and I do not think that it has any merit, either, because the end of five years is not necessarily the time at which a review would be suitable. A review might be needful before then, or it might be more suitable later than that.

If the House were to accept this new Clause it would leave the future of the abortion laws in an extremely uncertain and precarious position.

Mr. Braine rose

Mr. Houghton

I do wish that the hon. Member for Essex, South-East would relax a little. He does not realise how off-putting his fidgety behaviour is. Now I see the right hon. and learned Member for St. Marylebone (Mr. Hogg) getting fidgety. This is the first speech I have made on the Bill at any time, and I hope to be listened to with reasonable attention and without hon. Members showing signs that they cannot bear it any more—

Mr. Hogg

I am sorry to interrupt the right hon. Gentleman, but I suggest to him that if he omits personal remarks and confines himself to the merits of the new Clause he will find that no one fidgets, whether they support or criticise him.

Mr. Houghton

I will not provoke any further conversation on that. I suggest that Eon. Members do not see themselves as others see them—[Interruption.] I am prepared to listen to any personal remarks at any time—

Mr. Speaker

Order. I think that we might now get back to the new Clause.

Mr. Houghton

I was about to conclude, Mr. Speaker, when an hon. Member tried to interrupt me.

I can conclude in just about a sentence by saying that to leave the abortion laws in such a precarious position would be a bad thing, and some extremely compli- cated legal questions would arise at the terminal date if Parliament had not by then renewed or amended the Measure, or introduced fresh legislation. This new Clause would create a thoroughly bad constitutional position practically, and on every other ground it would make a very messy end to this legislation.

Mr. Hugh Rossi (Hornsey)

The hon. Member for Roxburgh, Selkirk and Peebles (Mr. David Steel) put forward two main reasons why this new Clause should be rejected. The first was that this is a Private Member's Bill and that it would be wrong to require the Government of the day in five years' time to reconsider it as a Government Measure. The second was that most of the objections mentioned in this debate could easily be dealt with by amendment in the light of experience and did not require the Measure to fall as a whole. With the leave of the House, I want to draw attention to a matter which exercises my mind considerably and might well concern the Home Secretary and the Government of the day in five years time. It is a matter on too broad a basis, and one that raises considerations too broad to be dealt with by amendment to the Measure as time goes on.

I understand the main plank in the argument of the sponsors of the Bill to be that the country is faced at the moment with large numbers of illegal abortions annually, and that the best way to cope with this situation is to bring it into the open by permitting abortions in circumstances in which they can be controlled and supervised by the State under the National Health Service. It is therefore argued that this is a humane and enlightened Measure, and of benefit to our society as a whole, and that there is no need for constant review.

The hon. Member for Pudsey (Mr. Hiley) has referred to our experience in liberalising the gambling laws. Although I had not the privilege at that time of being a Member of this House, I followed the arguments in that case very closely. They were precisely these: make an illegal act legal, control it, and we will do away with the evils. Today, the Home Secretary is most anxious about the present state of gambling, and about its impact on the moral thinking of the population. This is the effect of a liberalising Measure. We now have before the House a liberalising Measure dealing with a matter far more important than gambling. It deals with the attitude of society to humanity itself; the attitude of man to man, and of man to life. That is what we are considering today.

What will be the impact of this Measure on our society? Is it an impact that will require reconsideration in five years' time of what we are doing today? It is a well known principle, hallowed by antiquity—dating back to the days of Aristotle—that great parts of the population in any society derive their personal code of morality from the law of their land. Their personal morality is dictated by what is permitted or not permitted by the law. In this case, we are saying that something that has not been permitted by the law in the past is now to be permitted. What effect will that have on the moral outlook of our society; on our view towards humanity, and on our view towards human life?

There is an answer to this. These are in a sense rhetorical questions, but experience in other countries has shown what in fact happens. The experience of those other countries argues very strongly for caution on our part and the necessity for thinking very carefully of the steps we are taking and of giving ourselves the right to look at this situation again in five years' time.

Constantly throughout the debate reference has been made to the report of the Council of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists. I am surprised that this report tends to be denigrated by proposers of this Measure. I say I am surprised because one would have thought that a body such as this has within it the experience which most hon. Members do not and cannot possess. Therefore hon. Members should look with great attention at what is said in it. In the report there is reference to what has happened in other countries which have permitted abortion. The very point which concerns me is made when it says: the legalization of abortion alters the climate of opinion among the public and even the Courts of Law. The result is that even criminal … Acts which will remain even after this Bill is passed— abortion becomes less abhorrent and those guilty of the offence receive punishments so light as not to discourage them and others in their activities. The total effect is that women are increasingly ready to have pregnancies terminated and potential criminal abortionists are less reluctant to help.

Mr. Speaker

Order. The hon. Member is going into the merits of the Bill itself. He must get back to his argument, which I follow

Mr. Rossi

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. If this is the experience of other countries, is it possible for it to be our experience? If so, is not this a matter so grave, having such an impact on the fabric of our society, that it is only right that we should follow the advice given in this new Clause to give us the right in five years time to look at what we have done to see whether our experience is the same as that of those other countries?

Should we not see whether we are creating a situation where not only naturally does the number of legal abortion operations increase, but the number of illegal operations not merely does not decrease but perhaps increases? If it increases or even remains static, we shall have failed in what we are trying to do in this Measure. In five years' time we shall know whether or not we have failed. This is the importance of a new Clause of the type we have before us. These are considerations which cannot be dealt with in the words of the hon. Member for Roxburgh, Selkirk and Peebles by amendment in the light of experience as experience of the Act goes along. It is something which goes to the very root of the matter and the very right of the existence of the Act itself.

In Japan, we are told, there are still one million illegal abortions and the legal abortions are on the same level. The experience in Hungary and Czechoslovakia has been that illegal abortions have not decreased despite the fact that legal abortions are permitted very liberally. These are matters which go to the root of the Bill and matters which give great concern. It has been admitted throughout the debate today that there are still vast unknown territories covered by the Bill. My right hon. and learned Friend the Member for St. Marylebone (Mr. Hogg) spoke of the rackets that might be likely to arise should the Bill be passed in its present form. Five years will tell us whether he is right or wrong. If he is right, the Home Secretary for another reason would want the Act to be terminated after due time.

We hope that a little caution will be induced among the proposers of the Bill and that they will not be so frightened of the consequences of what they are doing that they are not prepared to have it looked at again by this House in five years' time.

2.45 p.m.

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

Despite the expert guidance of yourself, Mr. Speaker, and that of your deputies in the Chair, the debate has occasionally shown signs of being a sort of Second-and-a-half Reading debate. I assure you that I do not propose to follow any of those precedents, but that I shall confine myself in these few remarks narrowly to the new Clause itself.

This Clause, as was admitted by the hon. Member for Essex, South-East (Mr. Braine), is very much based on the precedent of Section 3 of the Murder (Abolition of Death Penalty) Act, 1965. I must point out that the Clause, if it were carried, would be a great deal less precise than Section 3 of that Act, because it does not stipulate how Parliament should so determine after a period of five or six years. Secondly, it does not provide exactly what the law should subsequently be if Parliament then determined that it did not wish the Act to continue in force.

It is highly arguable whether it is in general principle desirable that there should be a proliferation of this sort of Section 3 provision which the House decided in rather exceptional circumstances to put into the Murder (Abolition of Death Penalty) Act, 1965. The hon. Member for Roxburgh, Peebles and Selkirk (Mr. David Steel) and my right hon. Friend the Member for Sowerby (Mr. Houghton) deployed some powerful arguments on the general point with which I feel a great deal of sympathy. I certainly do not think that it would be desirable if, in general, our criminal law were to be on a provisional basis on which everything had to be for five years and to be renewed after the end of that period.

That point apart, and without in any way wishing to take a dogmatic position that the law relating to abortion might not need looking at again after some period in future—I would not wish to contest that view, we might well have new evidence and wish to see how the Act was working—I think that the position in relation to this Bill is not comparable with that in relation to the Murder (Abolition of Death Penalty) Act.

It is not comparable primarily for this reason. There is, I think, fairly widespread agreement in the House, whatever our differing attitudes to this difficult problem of abortion, that the persent law in relation to abortion is uncertain and in many respects unsatisfactory. The position about the death penalty was not uncertain. People could have strong views about it, but it was based upon a Statute passed by the Government in 1957, and it was fairly clear what it was intended to do. There was not a general view that the position was uncertain. There was a difference of opinion as to what should be done about it.

It would be unsatisfactory, whatever our views may be about abortion, that we should put into the Bill, if it were passed, a provision that, after a given period of five and a half years, we should automatically revert, if the House at that time so wished, to a position which is almost universally recognised as being uncertain and unsatisfactory.

Furthermore, there would be considerable difficulties unless detailed provisions were made in the Clause, which they certainly are not, for transitional provisions for the proceedings which were already in force, but which had not been completed at the time when the five and a half years were up.

The House should bear in mind that, were the Clause to be passed as it stands, the Act could conceivably lapse even without debate in five and a half years' time. It could, in any case, if the House were so minded, lapse on the basis of one debate, and without anything being put in its place.

It would be wrong that I should seek excessively to guide the House, except to tell hon. Members how the Clause strikes me from the point of view of the workability of the Bill. I do not wish to put forward the view that we are, or will be, saying the last word about abortion in whatever Bill we pass, if we pass a Bill, during the course of these debates. However, it appears to me that this provision would not be the right way to secure an adequate review, if an adequate review were thought to be necessary.

The hon. Member for Hornsey (Mr. Rossi) raised the parallel of the Betting and Gaming Act, 1960. I do not regard this subject as in all respects analogous with that of betting and gaming. But, even allowing for that difference, while certain unsatisfactory features of that Act, now very widely recognised, cause me very great concern indeed, my problems in relation to this subject would have been in no way eased had the 1960 legislation lapsed automatically in the course of 1966. Indeed, they would have been made a good deal more difficult. In the case of the Betting and Gaming Act, where undoubtedly experience has shown that certain changes are necessary, it is overwhelmingly desirable to replace it with new and improved legislation, rather than to let it lapse and for us to revert to the position as it was before the previous Act.

In my view, very much the same considerations, whatever our differing views about this subject, would apply to this difficult question of abortion. It is clearly for the House to decide, but I cannot advise the House that it would make the Bill more workable to accept the Clause.

Mr. Hogg

I had not really intended to embark on this Clause. I intend to say only a few things about it, which I think I can now do within the rules of order, having regard to what the Home Secretary has said. It is obviously true that, if Parliament can make a workable job of any Bill, it is, in general, undesirable that it should put a time limit to that Bill, because then it should be satisfied with its efforts. We all know that Parliamentary time, under our present system of legislation, is not an easily come-by commodity. Whether it is public time or private Members' time, it is equally difficult.

I must say this in view of what the Home Secretary has said. I think that it has a direct bearing on the Clause. although I still remain fairly neutral about it. If the sponsors of the Bill make their point and carry the Bill through Parliament, they will have created a state of the law which will demand the attention of the Government long before the five years are up.

If I may say, without trespassing on the rules of order, in one sentence why I think so, it is because the Bill, whatever else it does, does not repeal Sections 58 and 59 of the Offences Against the Person Act, 1861, which seems to me to be wholly inappropriate to the social and medical conditions of today. When the sponsors of the Bill superimpose, as they will by the product of the Bill, if they get it through, a further engraftment on a basically unsatisfactory state of the law, I do not think that the situation can be tolerated for five years.

The advantage of the Clause—I repeat that I remain fairly neutral about it—is that it will be made necessary for any Government to do that before the five years are up. This is without prejudice to the arguments advanced by one of my hon. Friends about the consequences of legislation, which must in this field be to some extent problematical. Hon. Members on both sides of this controversy who think that, whether one favours the Bill or whether one does not, we shall have created a state of the law which can last for even as long as five years without a proper codification and revision are living in a fool's paradise.

Although personally I would for that reason slightly prefer the Clause to be inserted, I do not want to take an unduly controversial view about it. I see the force of the Home Secretary's argument. I have said what I have said because, on the results of Divisions hitherto, it looks as if the Bill will go through. I hope that the Home Secretary, who is, after all, the guardian of our legislative structure about criminal law, will take note of what I have said.

Mr. Peter Mahon (Preston, South)

I am particularly pleased to have caught your eye, Mr. Speaker, because for some months now I have had the feeling that, if I do not have the opportunity to say a few words about the Bill, I will burst. The Bill is not a new phenomenon. Early in March, 1966, prior to the General Election, there was another Bill along the same lines.

Mr. Speaker

Order. May I warn the hon. Gentleman that he may have to burst if he cannot keep his remarks in order. He must address himself to the Clause we are discussing?

Mr. Mahon

I agree; and I will abide by your Ruling, which is, as always, very generous, Mr. Speaker.

There is something to be said for a period of duration. If it is good occasionally for individuals to have to cool their heels, I believe that it is good for Parliament occasionally to stand and stare and to visualise what the passage of a Bill such as this can involve. An hon. Member opposite said that Parliament is sovereign, and one can readily concede that. But with the widest stretch of imagination one cannot concede that Parliament has dominion over life or death, and one must take issue with him on that point.

I am pleased that my right hon. Friend the Member for Sowerby (Mr. Houghton) tried to reduce the temperature somewhat. I was also pleased when in answer to a question yesterday my right hon. Friend the Leader of the House informed my right hon. Friend the Member for Leeds, West (Mr. C. Pannell) that the House intended to debate these very vexed problems in entirety and to see that no issue was burked in relation to the Bill. We have been glad to have all along the line the assurances that the issue would be well and truly debated on its merits.

But it did not escape my notice today that my right hon. Friend who posed that question yesterday was very keen to move the Closure. I am also sorry to observe—

3.0 p.m.

Mr. Speaker

Order. I know the hon. Gentleman's feelings about the Bill. He will have opportunities of expressing them at different stages of the debate. For the moment we are discussing whether the Bill, if it becomes an Act, shall last for just over five years or not.

Mr. Mahon

I entirely agree, Mr. Speaker, that we are not at this moment debating an issue of fundamental and momentous importance. But it is important enough, because Parliament should give due and careful consideration to the matter and we cannot do that unless we devise ways and means of taking a look at the result of legislation with every passing day. That is why I am prepared to advise caution, why I say, "festina lente"—"hasten slowly." That was what Parliament was prepared to do over the "hanging" Bill. We said that we would observe the reaction, and its effect during a five-year period. It was abhorrent to Members of Parliament that we should agree out of hand, without any thought of revision at any time, to judicial murder.

My hon. Friend said that we did not need a scaffold. [HON. MEMBERS: "It was the right hon. Gentleman."] Yes, my right hon. Friend the Member for Sowerby. I would not demote him for the world. But we do not require a scaffold to murder an unborn baby. That is why we should say that we must ponder on what legal abortion will involve.

Some hon. Members today appear to have been inclined to give some credence to the national opinion polls, but they can be used to serve one's purpose. Even in recent months there has been a tremendous change of opinion in the House and, because of that, one is led to the thought that perhaps the people in the country will not be too pleased if so much indecent haste is revealed in our deliberations on this all-important issue.

Mr. Speaker

Order. I must ask the hon. Gentleman to address himself to the Clause.

Mr. Mahon

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I am grateful for your indulgence. I have not altogether disregarded your admonitions. I always pay particular attention to what you say to me, but now, thank goodness, for the next few minutes I can be in order.

What I ask—and I pose the question with great concern—is why we, the mother of Parliaments, are so unwilling to accept the safeguards which are embodied and implicit in the Clause.

Why are we so hell-bent on opening the floodgates? The Government also must at all times, and particularly where such great and momentous issues are involved, give themselves the opportunity of reflecting from time to time. Any Government will lose favour if they resolutely refuse to adopt a cautious attitude in such important matters.

One can be sceptical with justification. We have been advised so wrongly by our own friends We were informed by Ministers of the Crown that the attitude of the Government was one of strict impartiality. The time-honoured procedure of the House has been disregarded absolutely. It may be a good and proper thing from time to time to change the rules and procedure of the House, but when it is apparent that the rules and procedure of the House, which have been designed and calculated to facilitate the passage of business at all times, are to be changed for a specific purpose—

Mr. Speaker

Order. The hon. Member must take note of what the Chair keeps saying to him. I do not criticise the observations that the hon. Member makes, but they are out of order on the Clause.

Mr. Mahon

As you have said, Mr. Speaker, I feel strongly about some things. I always give due regard to opposite opinions.

I think it was Voltaire who said: I detest your opinions, but I will defend them to the death".

Mr. Speaker

Order. Voltaire is out of Order on this Clause.

Mr. Mahon

I shall defend to the death my right to say what I wish to say in the House of Commons. That was what the people of Preston, South sent me here to do. The opposition was tremendous, but I overcame it and I think that I am competent enough to overcome any opposition that may be directed at me here today.

Mr. Speaker

Order. The Chair is serious. The hon. Member is free to speak in the House and to express his opinions on the subject which is being discussed. We are discussing whether the Bill is to last for only five to five and a half years. The hon. Member must address his remarks to that.

Mr. Mahon

I am grateful for your kind guidance, Mr. Speaker. I do not look upon you as the opposition. I look upon you as a friend indeed.

My right hon. Friend—I could not quite understand what he was trying to convey—said that this was a sort of Second-and-a-half Reading debate. I have been a long time in local government, it took me a long time to get here and, perhaps, I am not as quick on the uptake as I should be, but I am trying to become a mature Parliamentarian and endeavouring to keep always within the rules of debate. When, however, my right hon. Friend said that this was a Second-and-a-half Reading debate, the thought crossed my mind that that might be because it was such a half-baked Bill.

I cannot find any fault at all with a provisional basis. Some of our laws are so archaic, so wrong, and productive of so much evil in the country, that I do not think my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary should frown so definitely on some provisional legislation. I think that it may not be a bad thing. Certainly, this legislation could well and truly have been deferred without any great loss to anyone at all in our country.

Mr. Rees-Davies

I am delighted to see the Attorney-General in his place this afternoon as well as the Home Secretary. I rise only to pose to them this very simple question. I do not support the new Clause. I am against it. However, the House is now deciding the moral issue, and when that issue has been decided, and the Bill becomes an Act of Parliament, it will then be for the Home Secretary and the Attorney-General to recognise that they will have on their plate a really serious administrative problem.

Are we to be met in the future with the argument that this matter of abortion—as, for example, the matter of divorce—is one which the House must deal with in private Members' time and is not a matter for Government legislation? I want to know the answer to that. When we come to the conclusion of what, no doubt, will be the lengthy debate we shall have here, and the conclusion of debate in another place, and the Bill becomes an Act of Parliament, it will be for the Government of the day to amend that Act of Parliament at the earliest opportunity if they think it right so to do.

I sound this note of warning. At the beginning of the day, when I moved an Amendment, and moved it constructively, I hope, I did not draw attention to the very great dangers in our criminal law, but I can tell the House, with, if I may say so, a not inconsiderable knowledge of criminal practice, of what goes on in abortion cases. To my own personal knowledge there are, for example, two well-known doctors who are conspirators for the purpose of giving abortion certificates, which takes place regularly. This will extend.

I have no doubt that if there is no sort of safeguard with regard to the medical profession the Attorney-General and those others concerned with the administration of the criminal law will very soon find that the Bill, when an Act, will require amendment—and it is not the sort of subject we should have to try to deal with again on a Friday, and it will doubtless be very difficult to get another 300 Members here on another Friday.

Therefore, although, on balance, I dislike intensely having a five-year period for legislation, nevertheless I would hope that we can have an assurance that, if the legislation is passed, the Home Office will keep wide awake in its very great responsibility for administration of the criminal law and justice.

3.15 p.m.

Mr. Braine

We have had an interesting debate. I shall be brief. I have a great respect for the Home Secretary, but I must say that I was completely unimpressed by his argument. Of course, it is unusual to require insertion in an Act of Parliament of a provision of this kind. Of course it is true that Parliament can review its legislation at any time—subject, of course, to the very important consideration which my hon. Friend the Member for the Isle of Thanet (Mr. Rees-Davies) has just raised. But the Home Secretary, I fear, did not address himself to what is really at issue.

I shall not now repeat the arguments I adduced in introducing the new Clause, save to say, first, that the need for it was made all the more imperative because of the rejection of the safeguard which the leaders of the medical profession have asked for and which even the Minister of Health himself thought necessary right up to the Committee stage. I will come back to that in a moment, because the House has not given sufficient attention so far to the extraordinary somersault of the Minister of Health, who is responsible for safeguarding the nation's health on this vital issue.

The second argument is that, in a matter of high social importance with considerable consequences for the happiness and health of countless thousands of women, it is manifest that we are legislating in the dark. The speech of the hon. Member for Bootle (Mr. Simon Mahon) deserved a much wider audience. Experience has shown that in countries overseas which have liberalised their abortion laws and where, east of the Iron Curtain, little or no regard is paid to religious considerations, it has been found necessary to revise those laws.

The hon. Gentleman reinforced my argument thaat there is a considerable dearth of information, and no one accepted his challenge on that. However, there is one item of information upon which we have some knowledge. In the United Kingdom, there is one area where therapeutic abortion is carried out in hospitals by consultants in good conditions and in circumstances where the standard of obstetrics is as high as any one could wish. In Aberdeen, the number of therapeutic abortions carried out is six times the national average.

If the Aberdeen model were to be adopted for the country as a whole, in present circumstances it would impose an impossible burden upon the Hospital Service. The Minister of Health knows that, and it may be that it is that knowledge which causes him to seek to wash his hands of responsibility—

Mr. Speaker

Order. The hon. Gentleman must link his remarks to his own Clause.

Mr. C. Pannell

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. I thought that the hon. Member for Essex, South-East (Mr. Braine) had spoken earlier on this Clause. He did not ask leave of the House to speak again and it was not given to him.

Mr. Speaker

Order. When a Bill has been to Committee upstairs and it comes back to the House, the hon. Member in charge of an Amendment has the right to speak again.

Mr. Braine

Mr. Speaker, I promised to be brief, and I shall keep my promise.

The relevance of what I have just said is that we are today dealing with a vital stage in the passage of a Bill which, if its sponsors are correct, will lead to a substantial increase in the number of therapeutic abortions. Since in large measure these will not be carried out in National Health Service hospitals, because the physical resources do not exist, it follows that they will take place in the private sector in return for fees. That is the logic of the Bill which its sponsors and the Minister of Health have failed to bring out, except by default.

My right hon. and learned Friend the Member for St. Marylebone (Mr. Hogg) was quite right when he said that the Minister of Health and the Home Secretary will have to take physical control of the situation long before the five years are up—

The Attorney-General (Sir Elwyn Jones)

indicated assent.

Mr. Braine

I am glad to have the agreement of the learned Attorney. Whatever may be the constitutional disadvantages of inserting a provision of this kind in the Bill, by accepting the Clause the House is demonstrating for the first time in the passage of this Bill the importance which Parliament attaches to the provision of adequate safeguards. It will be demonstrating that we have learned something from foreign experience, and it will perhaps be serving notice on the Government, and future Governments, that matters of high social importance such as this should not be left to private Members, but should be dealt with by the Government themselves. I feel bound to advise the House to divide.

Mr. Eric Ogden (Liverpool, West Derby)

It is not my fault that I am speaking after the hon. Member for Essex, South-East (Mr. Braine) has both moved the Clause and replied to the debate on it. Like my right hon. Friend the Member for Sowerby (Mr. Houghton), this is the first time that I have spoken on this subject, either in the House or upstairs, during the last 12 months.

It may be that this Clause is not the most important of all the Amendments which we shall consider during the next few days, but I think that it is a test Amendment, and that it will show the intentions of the sponsors of the Bill to future Amendments. I do not agree with the right hon. and learned Member for St. Marylebone (Mr. Hogg) in his forecast of the progress of the Bill on the basis of the last Division, because I for one voted against the previous Clause, but I propose to vote for this one.

Mr. Speaker

Order. We cannot go into history. The hon. Member must come to the new Clause.

Mr. Ogden

The provisions of the Clause have been made a little too complicated by some of those who have spoken. We are not asked to decide whether every law should have a terminal period, though there has been a tendency for this to happen with Government legislation over recent years. Mention has been made of the abolition of the death penalty Act. The 70 m.p.h. speed limit has some relevance, too. I do not remember anyone on the Front Bench complaining very much about the fact that Part IV of the Prices and Incomes Act should have a terminal date, so let us not go into too great detail about the rights and merits of other Measures.

The hon. Member for Roxburgh, Selkirk and Peebles (Mr. David Steel) was good enough to remain in the Chamber and answer the hon. Member for Essex, South-East. There are, of course, eight sponsors of the Bill, and at one time none of them was in the Chamber. When Members make points—and it is not always easy for some of us to support the Bill—they are entitled to have at least one sponsor present in the Chamber listening to what they say.

If the Bill is so important, this Clause will make it easier for some of us to support its long-term aims. The Committee upstairs seems to have been composed of those who were wholeheartedly in favour of these proposals, and those who were wholeheartedly against them.—[HON. MEMBERS: "No."] I said it seems as though that was the case. "Seems" is the operative word. There is a great danger in enthusiasm. There is a third force, the doubters, and I am one of them. We want a law which is better than the existing one. I do not know what will be the result of this Measure, in whatever form it is finally passed, but I want a better law than we have now. It may be that I am a coward. I make no bones of it, but there can be no harm in saying that the law shall lapse, not be reviewed, at the end of six years, and place the responsibility on a future Parliament to decide what should happen then.

It may be—and so far there is no indication of this—that it is the intention of the sponsors of the Bill to fight every Amendment at any price. I would like them to recognise this third force of doubters to whom I have recognised, and to give them some consideration. This is a testing Amendment for the sponsors.

Mr. C. Pannell 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 198, Noes 107.

Division No. 344.] AYES [3.25 p.m.
Allen, Scholefield Ginsburg, David Orme, Stanley
Armstrong, Ernest Goodhart, Philip Orr-Ewing, Sir Ian
Atkins, Ronald (Preston, N.) Gordon Walker, Rt. Hn. P. C. Owen, Dr. David (Plymouth, S'tn)
Atkinson, Norman (Tottenham) Cray, Dr. Hugh (Yarmouth) Panned, Rt. Hn. Charles
Bacon, Rt, Hn. Alice Gregory, Arnold Pardoe, John
Bagier, Gordon A. T. Griffiths, David (Rother Valley) Parker, John (Dagenham)
Balniel, Lord Griffiths, Rt. Hn. James (Llanelly) Parkyn, Brian (Bedford)
Barnes, Michael Hale, Leslie (Oldham, W.) Pavitt, Laurence
Barnett, Joel Hamling, William Perry, Ernest C. (Battersea, S.)
Beaney, Alan Hannan, William Prentice, Rt. Hn. R. E.
Bell Ronald Haseldine, Norman Price, Christopher (Perry Barr)
Bennett, James (C'gow, Bridgeton) Heffer, Eric S. Quennell, Miss J. M.
Bessell, Peter Henig, Stanley Rees, Merlyn
Bidwell, Sydney Hobden, Dennis (Brighton, K'town) Rees-Daviee, W. R.
Binns, John Houghton, Rt. Hn. Douglas Reynolds, G. W.
Booth, Albert Howarth, Harry (Wellingborough) Richard, Ivor
Bossom, Sir Clive Howie, W. Ridley, Hn. Nicholas
Bradley, Tom Huckfield, L. Roberts, Gwilym (Bedfordshire, S.)
Bray, Dr. Jeremy Hughes, Emrys (Ayrshire, S.) Robinson, Rt. Hn. Kenneth (St. P'c'as)
Brooks, Edwin Hunt, John Robinson, W. O. J. (Walth'stow, E.)
Brown, Hugh D. (G'gow, Provan) Hunter, Adam Rodgers, William (Stockton)
Brown, Bob (N'c'tle-upon-Tyne,W.) Iremonger, T. L. Roebuck, Roy
Brown, R. W. (Shoreditch & F'bury) Jackson, Colin (B'h'se & Spenb'gh) Rogers, George (Kensington, N.)
Bruce-Gardyne, J. Jackson, Peter M. (High Peak) Rowland, Christopher (Meriden)
Buchan, Norman Jeger,Mrs. Lena(H'b'n&St.P'eras,S.) Rowlands, E. (Cardiff, N.)
Butler, Herbert (Hackney, C.) Jenkins, Hugh (Putney) Russell, Sir Ronald
Butler, Mrs. Joyce (Wood Green) Jenkins, Rt. Hn. Roy (Stechford) Ryan, John
Cant, R. B. Johnson, Carol (Lewisham, S.) Scott, Nicholas
Carmichael, Neil Johnson, James (K'ston-on-Hull, W.) Shaw, Arnold (Ilford, S.)
Conlan, Bernard Johnson Smith, G. (E. Grinstead) Sheldon, Robert
Corbet, Mrs. Freda Jones, Rt. Hn. Sir Elwyn (W. Ham, S.) Shore, Peter (Stepney)
Crawshaw, Richard Jones, T. Alec (Rhondda, West) Short, Mrs. Renée (W'hampton, N. E.)
Crossman, Rt. Hn. Richard Kelley, Richard Silkin, Rt. Hn. John (Deptford)
Crouch, David Kerr, Dr. David (W'worth, Central) Silkin, Hn. S. C. (Dulwich)
Dalyell, Tam Kerr, Russell (Feltham) Silverman, Julius (Aston)
Davidson,James(Aberdeenshire, W.) Lawson, George Skeffington, Arthur
Davies, Dr. Ernest (Stretford) Ledger, Ron Small, William
Dewar, Donald Lee, Rt. Hn. Jennie (Cannock) Snow, Julian
Dickens, James Lee, John (Reading) Spriggs, Leslie
Digby, Simon Wingfield Lestor, Miss Joan Steel, David (Roxburgh)
Dobson, Ray Lewis, Arthur (W. Ham, N.) Steele, Thomas (Dunbartonshire, W.)
Doig, Peter Lipton, Marcus Strauss, Rt. Hn. C. R.
Driberg, Tom Loughlin, Charles Thorpe, Rt. Hn. Jeremy
Dunnett, Jack Luard, Evan Tilney, John
Dun woody, Mrs. Gwyneth (Exeter) Lubbock, Eric Tuck, Raphael
Dunwoody, Dr. John (F'th'& C'b'e) McCann, John Turton, Rt. Hn. R. H.
Eadie, Alex MacColl, James Urwin, T. W.
Edwards, Robert (Bilston) MacDermot, Niall Varley, Eric G.
Ellis, John McKay, Mrs. Margaret Vaughan-Morgan, Rt. Hn, Sir John
Ensor, David Mackenzie, Gregor (Rutherglen) Vickers, Dame Joan
Evans, Albert (Islington, S.W.) Mackie, John Wainwright, Richard (Colne Valley)
Evans, Gwynfor (C'marthen) MacPherson, Malcolm Walden, Brian (All Saints)
Evans, loan L. (Birm'h'm, Yardley) Marquand, David Wallace, George
Eyre, Reginald Mendelson, J. J. Watkins, David (Consett)
Fernyhough, E. Mikardo, Ian Weitzman, David
Finch, Harold Miller, Dr. M. S. Wellbeloved, James
Fisher, Nigel Mills, Stratton (Belfast, N.) Whltaker, Ben
Fletcher, Raymond (Ilkeston) Mitchell, R. C. (S'th'pton, Test) Williams, Alan (Swansea, W.)
Fletcher, Ted (Darlington) Molloy, William Wilson, William (Coventry, S.)
Foot, Sir Dingle (Ipswich) Morris, John (Aberavon) Winniek,David
Foot, Michael (Ebbw Vale) Moyle, Roland Winetanley,Dr.M. P.
Forrester, John Mulley, Rt. Hn. Frederick Worsley,Marous
Fowler, Gerry Murray, Albert Yates, Victor
Fraser, Rt. Hn, Tom (Hamilton) Newens, Stan
Freeson, Reginald Ogden, Eric TELLERS FOR THE AYES:
Gardner, Tony Oram, Albert E. Mr. Edward Lyons and
Garrett, W. E. Orbach, Maurice Sir George Sinclair.
Gilmour, Ian (Norfolk, C.)
Alison, Michael (Barkston Ash) Grieve, Percy Mott-Radclyffe, Sir Charles
Allason, James (Hemel Hempstead) Griffiths, Eldon (Bury St. Edmunds) Munro-Lucas-Tooth, Sir Hugh
Alldritt, Walter Hamilton, James (Bothwell) Murton, Oscar
Atkins, Humphrey (M't'n & M'd'n) Harris, Frederic (Croydon, N.W.) Nabarro, Sir Gerald
Beamish, Col. Sir Tufton Harris, Reader (Heston) Oakes, Gordon
Bence, Cyril Harvie Anderson, Miss Onslow, Cranley
Berry, Hn. Anthony Hiley, Joseph Page, Derek (King's Lynn)
Biffen, John Howarth, Robert (Bolton, E.) Page, Graham (Crosby)
Biggs-Davison, John Hutchison, Michael Clark Pearson, Sir Frank (Clitheroe)
Black, Sir Cyril Irvine, Bryant Godman (Rye) Pink, R. Bonner
Blaker, Peter Jones, Arthur (Northants, S.) Powell, Rt. Hn. J. Enoch
Boyd-Carpenter, Rt. Hn. John Jones, Dan (Burnley) Price, David (Eastleigh)
Braine, Bernard Kerby, Capt. Henry Price, Thomas (Westhoughton)
Corfield, F. V. Kershaw, Anthony Ramsden, Rt. Hn. James
Costain, A. P. Kimball, Marcus Rawlinson, Rt. Hn. Sir Peter
Crosthwaite-Eyre, Sir Oliver Knight, Mrs. Jill Robson Brown, Sir William
Cullen, Mrs. Alice Lancaster, col. C. G. Rodgers, Sir John (Sevenoaks)
Cunningham, Sir Knox Langford-Holt, Sir John Ross, Rt. Hn. William
Currie, G. B. H. Lever, L. M. (Ardwick) Rossi, Hugh (Hornsey)
Dalkeith, Earl of Longden, Gilbert St. John-Stevas, Norman
Dance, James Mabon, Dr. J. Dickson Smith, John
Delargy, Hugh McAdden, Sir Stephen Stodart, Anthony
Dempsey, James McBride, Neil Stoddart-Scott, Col. Sir M. (Ripon)
Dodds-Parker, Douglas Macdonald, A. H. Symonds, J. B.
Doughty, Charles McGuire, Michael Tay lor, Edward M. (G'gow, Cathcart)
Eden, Sir John Mackenzie, Alasdair (Ross &Crom'ty) Teeling, Sir William
English, Michael Maclean, Sir Fitzroy Temple, John M.
Errington, Sir Erie McMaster, Stanley Tinn, James
Fitt, Gerard (Belfast, W.) MacMillan, Malcolm (Western Isles) Wall, Patrick
Foley, Maurice McMillan, Tom (Glasgow, C) Ward, Dame Irene
Fortescue, Tim McNamara, J. Kevin Weatherill, Bernard
Galhraith, Hn. T. G. Maddan, Martin Wells, William (Walsall, N.)
Galpern, Sir Myer Mahon, Peter (Proston, S.) Wills, Sir Gerald (Bridgwater)
Giles, Rear-Adm. Morgan Mahon, Simon (Bootle)
Gilmour, Sir John (Fife, E.) Marten, Neil TELLERS FOR THE NOES:
Glover, Sir Douglas Maydon, Lt.-Cmdr. S. L. C Mr. James A. Dunn and
Goodhew, Victor Morris, Alfred (Wythenshawe) Mr. Harold Gurden.

Question put accordingly, That the Clause be read a Second time:

The House divided: Ayes 122, Noes 198.

Division No. 345.] AYES [3.34 p.m.
Alison, Michael (Barkston Ash) Fortescue, Tim McNamara, J. Kevin
Allason, James (Hemel Hempstead) Galbraith, Hn. T. G. Maddan, Martin
Alldritt, Walter Galpern, Sir Myer Mahon, Peter (Preston, S.)
Anderson, Donald Giles, Rear-Adm. Morgan Mahon, Simon (Bootle)
Atkins, Humphrey (M't'n & M'd'n) Gilmour, Sir John (Fife, E.) Marten, Neil
Beamish, Col. Sir Tufton Glover, Sir Douglas Maude, Angus
Bell, Ronald Goodhew, Victor Maydon, Lt.-Cmdr. S. L. C.
Bellenger, Rt. Hn. F. J. Hamilton, James (Bothwell) Mills, Stratton (Belfast, N.)
Bence, Cyril Harris, Frederic (Croydon, N.W.) Morris, John (Aberavon)
Berry, Hn. Anthony Harris, Reader (Heston) Mott-Radclyffe, Sir Charles
Biffen, John Harvie Anderson, Miss Murton, Oscar
Biggs-Davison, John Higgins, Terence L. Nabarro, Sir Gerald
Black, Sir Cyril Hiley, Joseph Oakes, Gordon
Blaker, Peter Hobson, Rt. Hn. Sir John Ogden, Eric
Boyd-Carpenter, Rt. Hn. John Hogg, Rt. Hn. Quintin Onslow, Cranley
Braine, Bernard Howell, David (Guildford) Orr-Ewing, Sir Ian
Bray, Dr. Jeremy Hutchison, Michael Clark Page, Derek (King's Lynn)
Buchanan, Richard (G'gow, Sp'burn) Irvine, Bryant Godman (Rye) Page, Graham (Crosby)
Corfield, F. V. Jones, Arthur (Northants, S.) Pearson, Sir Frank (Clitheroe)
Costain, A. P. Jones, Dan (Burnley) Percival, Ian
Crosthwaite-Eyre, Sir Oliver Kerby, Capt. Henry Pink, R. Bonner
Cullen, Mrs. Alice Kimball, Marcus Powell, Rt. Hn. J. Enoch
Cunningham, Sir Knox Knight, Mrs. Jill Price, David (Eastleigh)
Currie, G. B. H. Lancaster, Col. C. G. Price, Thomas (Westhoughton)
Dalkeith, Earl of Lawson, George Pym, Francis
Dalyell, Tarn Lever, L. M. (Ardwick) Ramsden, Rt. Hn. James
Dance, James Longden, Gilbert Rawlinson, Rt. Hn. Sir Peter
Delargy, Hugh Mabon, Dr. J. Dickson Renton, Rt. Hn. Sir David
Dempsey, James McAdden, Sir Stephen Robson Brown, Sir William
Dodds-Parker, Douglas McBride, Neil Rodgers, Sir John (Sevenoaks)
Doughty, Charles Macdonald, A. H. Ross, Rt. Hn. William
Eden, Sir John McGuire, Michael Rossi, Hugh (Hornsey)
English, Michael Mackenzie, Alasdair(Ross&Crom'ty) Russell, Sir Ronald
Errington, Sir Erie Maclean, Sir Fitzroy St. John-Stevas, Norman
Fitt, Gerard (Belfast, W.) MacMillan, Malcolm (Western Isles) Small, William
Foley, Maurice McMillan, Tom (Glasgow, C.) Smith, John
Stodart, Anthony Tilney, John Wills, Sir Gerald (Bridgwater)
Stoddart-Scott, Col. Sir M. (Ripon) Tinn, James Wood, Rt. Hn. Richard
Symonds, J. B. Wall, Patrick
Taylor, EdwardM.(G'gow, Cathcart) Ward, Dame Irene TELLERS FOR THE AYES:
Teeling, Sir William Weatherill, Bernard Mr. James A. Dunn and
Temple, John M. Wells, William (Walsall, N.) Mr. Harold Gurden.
Allen, Scholefield Goodhart, Philip Owen, Dr. David (Plymouth, S'tn)
Armstrong, Ernest Gordon Walker, Rt. Hn. P. C. Palmer, Arthur
Astor, John Gray, Dr. Hugh (Yarmouth) Pannell, Rt. Hn. Charles
Atkins, Ronald (Preston, N.) Gregory, Arnold Pardoe, John
Atkinson, Norman (Tottenham) Grieve, Percy Parker, John (Dagenham)
Bacon, Rt. Hn. Alice Griffiths, David (Rother Valley) Parkyn, Brian (Bedford)
Bagier, Gordon A. T. Griffiths, Rt. Hn. James (Llanelly) Pavitt, Laurence
Balniel, Lord Hale, Leslie (Oldham, W.) Perry, Ernest G. (Battersea, S.)
Barnes, Michael Hamling, William Prentice, Rt. Hn. R. E.
Barnett, Joel Hannan, William Price, Christopher (Perry Barr)
Beaney Alan Haseldine, Norman Quennell, Miss J. M,
Bennett, James (G'gow, Bridgeton) Heffer, Eric S. Ramsden, Rt. Hn. James
Bessell, Peter Henig, Stanley Rees, Merlyn
Bidwell, Sydney Hobden, Dennis (Brighton, K'town) Rees-Davies, W. R.
Binns, John Houghton, Rt. Hn. Douglas Reynolds, G. W.
Booth, Albert Howarth, Harry (Wellingborough) Richard, Ivor
Boston, Terence Howie, W. Ridley, Hn. Nicholas
Bradley, Tom Huckfield, L, Roberts, Gwilym (Bedfordshire, S.)
Brooks, Edwin Hughes, Emrys (Ayrshire, S.) Robinson, Rt.Hn.Kenneth (St. P'c'as)
Brown, Rt. Hn. George (Belper) Hunt, John Robinson, W. O. J. (Walth'stow, E.)
Brown, Hugh D. (G'gow, Provan) Iremonger, T. L. Rodgers, Willi am (Stockton)
Brown, Bob (N'c'tle-upon-Tyne.W.) Jackson, Colin (B'h'se & Spenb'gh) Roebuck, Roy
Brown, R. W. (Shoreditch & F'bury) Jackson, Peter M. (High Peak) Rogers, George (Kensington, N.)
Bruce-Gardyne, J. Jeger, Mrs. Lena (H'b'n&St.P'cras, S.) Rowland, Christopher (Meriden)
Buchan, Norman Jenkins, Hugh (Putney) Rowlands, E. (Cardiff, N.)
Butler, Herbert (Hackney, C) Jenkins, Rt. Hn. Roy (Stechford) Ryan, John
Butter, Mrs. Joyce (Wood Green) Johnson, Carol (Lewisham, S.) Scott, Nicholas
Cant, R. B. Johnson, James (K'ston-on-Hull, W.) Sharples, Richard
Carmichael, Neil Johnson Smith, G. (E. Grinstead) Shaw, Arnold (Ilford, S.)
Conian, Bernard Jones,Rt.Hn.Sir Elwyn(W.Ham, S.) Sheldon, Robert
Corbet, Mrs. Freda Jones, T. Alec (Rhondda, West) Shore, Peter (Stepney)
Crawshaw, Richard Kelley, Richard Short, Mrs. Renée(W'hampton,N.E.)
Crossman, Rt. Hn. Richard Kerr, Dr. David (W'worth, Central) Silkin, Rt. Hn. John (Deptford)
Crouch, David Kerr, Russell (Feltham) Silkin, Hn. S. C. (Dulwich)
Davidson,James(Aberdeenshire, W,) Lambton, Viscount Silverman, Julius (Aston)
Davies, Dr. Ernest (Stretford) Langford-Holt, Sir John Skeffington, Arthur
Dewar Donald Ledger, Ron Snow, Julian
Dickens, James Lee, Rt. Hn. Jennie (Cannock) Spriggs, Leslie
Digby, Simon Wingfieid Lee, John (Reading) Steel, David (Roxburgh)
Debson, Ray Lestor, Miss Joan Steele, Thomas (Dunbartonshire, W.)
Doig, Peter Lewis, Arthur (W. Ham, N.) Strauss, Rt. Hn. G. R.
Driberg, Tom Lewis, Kenneth (Rutland) Thomas, George (Cardiff, W.)
Dunnett, Jack Lipton, Marcus Thomson, Rt. Hn. George
Dunwoody, Mrs. Gwyneth (Exeter) Loughlin, Charles Thorpe, Rt. Hn. Jeremy
Dunwoody, Dr. John (F'th & C'b'e) Luard, Evan Tuck, Raphael
Eadie, Alex Lubbock, Eric Turton, Rt. Hn. R. H.
Edwards, Robert (Bilston) MacColl, James Urwin, T. W,
Ellis, John MacDermot, Niall Varley, Eric G.
Ennals, David McKay, Mrs. Margaret Vaughan-Morgan, Rt. Hn. Sir John
Ensor, David Mackenzie, Gregor (Rutherglen) vickers, Dame Joan
Evans, Albert(Islington S.W.) Mackie, John Wainwright, Richard (Colne Valley)
Evans Gwynfor (C'marthen) Macleod, Rt. Hn. Iain Walden, Brian (All Saints)
Evans, Ioan L. (Birm'h'm, yardley) MacPherson, Malcolm Wallace, George
Marquand, David Watkins, David (Consett)
Fernyhough, E. Mendetson, J. J. Weitzman, David
Finch, Harold Mikardo, Ian Whitaker, Ben
Fisher, Nigel Miller, Dr. M. S. Williams, Alan (Swansea, W.)
Fletcher, Raymond (Ilkeston, Mitchell, R. C. (S'th'pton, Test) Williams, Alan Lee (Hornchurch)
Fletcher, Ted (Darlington) Molloy, William Wilson, William (Coventry, S.)
Foot, Sir Dingle (Ipswich) Morris, Alfred (Wythenshawe) Winnick, David
Foot, Michael (Ebbw Vale) Moyle, Roland Winstanley, Dr. M. P,
Forrester, John Mulley, Rt. Hn. Frederick Worsley, Marcus
Fowler, Gerry Murray, Albert Yates, Victor
Freeson, Reginald Neave, Airey
Gardner, Tony Newens, Stan TELLERS FOR THE NOES:
Garrett, W. E. Oram, Albert E. Mr. Edward Lyons and
Gilmour, Ian (Norfolk, C.) Orbach, Maurice Sir George Sinclair.
Ginsburg, David Orme, Stanley