§ Amendments made:
No. 106, in page 24, line 8, leave out 'by any person' and insert
'against a particular person, shall'.
§ No. 107, in line 15, leave out from 'investigation' to 'shall' in line 16 and insert 'does not so relate'.
§ No. 109, in page 25, line 21 [Schedule 3], leave out 'another person' and insert 'a particular person, shall'.
§ No. 110, in line 28, leave out from 'investigation' to 'shall' in line 29 and insert 'does not so relate'.
§ No. 111, in page 26, line 18, leave out 'determination' and insert 'conclusion'. —[Mr. Ennals.]444
§ Order for Third Reading read.
§ [Queen's Consent, on behalf of the Crown, signified]
§ 2.45 a.m.
§ Mr. Ennals
I am very proud to have been involved with my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary in piloting the Bill to its Third Reading and proud also to be a member of a Government which has had the wisdom and courage to produce the Bill. Discrimination on racial grounds is one of the greatest, if not the greatest, issues of our time and it is an issue which none of us can afford to sweep under the table. It has to be dealt with and it has to be dealt with firmly. Racial discrimination faces this country with a challenge to our beliefs in the principles of equality, and it is a challenge which we cannot hesitate to meet.
The Bill is based on existing experience of the Race Relations Board and the 1965 Act. At this stage it is appropriate to pay tribute to the work of the Board and to Mr. Mark Bonham Carter, its Chairman, and the other members for the work which they have done, because it was partly the experience and success of that earlier Measure which has enabled us to come forward with this.
I recall that in the Third Reading debate in 1965 the hon. and learned Member for Buckinghamshire, South (Mr. Ronald Bell) said:I regard this Bill as a most dangerous attack on liberty…"—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 16th July, 1965;Vol. 716, c. 1064–5.]That was said three years ago of the 1965 Act. How absurd it was! In fact it has expanded liberty. It has expanded the liberty of the subject in fields in which there was discrimination and it has done so without creating antagonism. The general principle of legislation has not been convincingly challenged on Second Reading, nor in our 50 hours in Standing Committee, nor yet today. The debate has been about the scope and application of the legislation.
I want to thank my hon. Friends on the Standing Committee and right hon. 445 and hon. Members opposite, especially the right hon. and learned Member for St. Marylebone (Mr. Hogg) who played such a constructive rôle in the Standing Committee, which was a very constructive Standing Committee. It was one of those Committees when we did not divide in two directions. As has been said, we divided in five directions, two on our side and three on the other side. The discussions led to substantial improvements in the Bill. Our discussions resulted in a number of suggestions for amending the Bill which the Government have been happy to accept on Report.
In particular we have redefined discrimination to make it clear that, in the context of the Bill, that means treating somebody less favourably than other people because of his race, colour, or ethnic or national origin; but, in so doing, we have emphasised that it is no part of the Bill's purpose to create a privileged class. We have accepted the views of the Standing Committee that the Crown should rot be excepted from the procedure laid down in the Bill, and we have changed the exception relating to small employers so that, for the first two years of the operation of the Bill, those employing not more than 25 employees will be excepted, and that for the following two years, those employing not more than ten people.
Similarly, we have raised the limit of exception for landlords so that, for the first two years of the Bill's operation, only those with more than 12 lodgers will be subject to the provisions of the Bill and, thereafter, only those with more than six.
We have also made it clear that anybody disposing of his own property privately without using an estate agent or without advertising it will not be affected by the provisions of the Bill, and that any harassment of a tenant on racial grounds will be unlawful. There has also been a number of other Amendments made in the light of discussion in Committee to meet the wishes of hon. Members on both sides.
Some hon. Members have sought to weaken the Bill and others to strengthen it. Indeed, some of my hon. Friends would have made it a much tougher Measure, shifting the emphasis from conciliation to enforcement but in the Government's view this was not a proper 446 thing to do. It is sensible that we should pass a law which can command the support of the majority of British people who accept tolerance and fair play regardless of race.
The strength of this Bill will lie, not only in its actual provisions, but in the lead which it will give to the country "to practice tolerance and live together as good neighbours"—and for that I quote from the Charter of United Nations. I believe that it will be an historic occasion when this Parliament declares that discrimination in all fields covered by this Bill is not only morally wrong, but an offence in law. The Bill is an historic contribution to Human Rights Year in which all parts of the world are taking part.
§ Mr. Gilbert Longden (Hertfordshire, South-West)
Is there anything in the present law of England which discriminates against any British citizen whatever his colour and, if there is not, then what is the object of this Bill?
§ Mr. Ennals
The hon. Member does not appear to have been in the chamber for much of the time. If he had followed the debates at all he would know that there is discrimination and it is because there is this element of discrimination that we are determined it shall not be sustained. The Bill will form a firm foundation for a programme of voluntary action. We need that in industry, from management and the trade unions and through the whole range of commerce. We need an understanding that there is equal opportunity for all regardless of race.
The Bill gives new scope for an educational campaign, but the most important thing is that the Bill should be used and not only by those whom it is sought to protect. Too much has been said to undermine confidence in the efficiency of this legislation that we are establishing. Some of the criticism made in this House has gone too far in undermining the effectiveness of this legislation. It is time that we spoke out, those of us who believe in this Bill—spoke out in the country, because if we say things that imply that this Bill will not have the desired effect, then those whom it is designed to protect will fear that the protection is not there. Hon. Members 447 of this House have a responsibility in this connection.
As a result of the debates in Committee and on Report, I believe that we are entitled, and I am speaking for the Government, to have a united House tonight. I hope that those who may have criticised this Bill will have second thoughts about whether they should vote against it. It would be in the interests of good race and community relations if the House was not to divide on the Bill, and I hope that that will not happen.
§ 2.56 a.m.
§ Sir D. Walker-Smith
I want to start with a brief word about the connection between the attitude of people to this Bill and their attitude to race relations generally. There have been suggestions from outside this House that opposition to this Bill, or even criticism of it, derives from an illiberal attitude to race relations. I consider that such a suggestion is unjustified and reprehensible, reflecting at best an ignorance of, and reckless indifference to, the basis of the criticism, and at the worst a smear of an unpleasant character.
There is no inconsistency in combining a liberal attitude towards race relations generally with a belief that this Bill is, on balance, a bad one. In my own case I am against racial discrimination in all the many and varied forms in which it unfortunately manifests itself throughout the world today. I am in favour of racial harmony, understanding and co-operation. I believe in the equality of legal and political rights and status for all.
Like my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for St. Marylebone (Mr. Hogg) I belong to a profession, which, without compulsion of law, has over the years, practised non-discrimination and equality of opportunity. I am proud and happy to be a member of the Bar in a Commonwealth country which is perhaps one of the most multi-racial countries in the world. In February last I was one of 76 hon. Members of this House who found it necessary to vote against Clause 2 of the Commonwealth Immigrants Bill, which I regarded as a gross discrimination, based on a breach of faith.
448 Nevertheless, against that background, I believe reluctantly that this Bill is on balance, a bad Bill. It is bad because it is inept for the high purposes which it purports to serve, and bad because it is likely to exacerbate the situation which it is designed to ameliorate and to evoke the dangers which it is designed to exorcise. There is nothing paradoxical or even very unusual in this. We know from the old proverb the sad fate of those good intentions which take account only of the end and are indifferent to the means. That is a course which this Parliament should never take.
Here we are not engaged in promulgating intentions but in formulating laws. What we put upon the Statute Book is binding on courts and citizens alike, not in the generalised context of their intention, but in the specific context of their provisions. In English law, unlike Continental law, there is no licence to look at what they call travaux préparatories.As the leading textbook on the subject, "Maxwell on the Interpretation of Statutes", puts it:It is unquestionably a rule that the Parliamentary history of an enactment is not admissible to explain its meaning.In another passage Maxwell says:The rule of construction is to intend the Legislature to have meant what they have actually expressed."—a flattering assumption, which I hope we deserve.
There rests, therefore, on Parliament a high and heavy duty to see that bad laws, even if well-intentioned, are not put on the Statute Book. It is not enough for Parliament to identify a problem and propound a solution. It must be the right solution. Otherwise we fall into that false syllogism which in the early days of the last Parliament I diagnosed as the central weakness of this Government—the false syllogism "something should be done; this is something; therefore, let us do it". This Bill is unhappily another example of this false logic. It is, no doubt, some comfort to hon. Members to feel that they are doing something, but if it is the wrong something, we are asking the citizen and the law to pay the price for our own feeling of comfort in this situation.
I come to the imperfections of this Bill, the imperfect means that mar the worthy aim. Part I of the Bill is far 449 from perfect, despite its good intention. Difficulties of definition and drafting, inherent in this exercise, stand out in almost every Clause. The very exemptions and inconsistencies proclaim the difficulty of the task and the imperfection of the result—the exemption for shipping and the different treatment of employment on the one hand, which is the concern of large and powerful organisations, compared with the treatment of housing which is the concern of small and humble citizens.
Nevertheless, mindful of its good intentions, it would be possible to swallow Part I but for the enforcement provisions of Part II, Part II is a novelty in our law and legal system. It is a sort of grey no-man's land between criminal and civil proceedings. It seems to combine the consequential rigours of criminal proceedings without their safeguards, and the penalties of civil proceedings without their even-handedness.
Consider the combination of circumstances with which the subject of a complaint is faced. There is no reason to suppose that every complaint will be justified. They are formidable indeed—the novel methods of inquiry, the power to impose perpetual injunctions and to exact perpetual assurances, the grim sanction of indefinite incarceration by way of committal for contempt, the fear of damages with an award of costs superimposed, the spectacle of a powerful board as adversary with all the resources of public funds behind it. Is not that a prospect at which the stoutest heart might quail and to which the clearest conscience might yield? [Laughter.] The Home Secretary laughts, but it might well be so.
§ Sir D. Walker-Smith
It is not really a laughing matter. It is not a laughing matter on either side of the House.
In such circumstances, though there might be victory, there would not be justice. It would not help race relations because it would create bitterness and provoke the very evil which the Bill is intended to eradicate. Part II is radically defective in that it constitutes a derogation from our accepted standard of the rule of law, and the progress of 450 this Bill has unfortunately shown no material improvement. It follows that in this vital respect the Bill stands as it did when, on 23rd April, we were obliged to condemn it because on balance it would not in its praotical application contribute to the achievement of racial harmony.
For that reason we voted as we did that day, and I believe rightly; and for that reason, regretfully but still rightly, I think we should condemn it tonight.
§ 3.5 a.m.
§ Mr. Hugh Jenkins (Putney)
I rise to make my only comment on the Bill, and it will not take more than a couple of minutes to do so. As my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary has pointed out, the purpose of legislation is not merely to establish the boundaries of the permissible. It is also to create climates of opinion and to establish custom and behaviour. As has been pointed out, that is peculiarly the case in the Bill.
There are areas that the Bill does not touch and has not attempted to touch, but I hope that behaviour in those areas will be influenced by the Bill. If behaviour is not so influenced, it will be necessary to legislate further.
As an example of that, I refer to clubs which practise racial and colour discrimination. There is one such club in Wolverhampton. It has been blacked, if that is the right word, by the entertainment unions because it has discriminated against a coloured singer, a Miss Ruth Saxon, and refused her entry to the club. I hope that the Club and Institute Union will realise that it cannot run away from its responsibilities and that no racialist club can be permitted to remain a member of the C.I.U.
The T.U.C. will be asked to carry a resolution on the subject this year and I believe that this will be helpful, together with this legislation, in creating a climate in which racial prejudice is recognised for what it is, a sort of venereal disease of the spirit. I am sorry if there are those who suffer from that disease in this House. That Bill is their medicine. They may not like it, but in the end it will do them and all of us a great deal of good.
§ 3.7 a.m.
§ Sir S. Summers
I was glad that my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Hertfordshire, East (Sir D. 451 Walker-Smith) began his speech by saying that those who consider this to be a bad Bill and who intend to vote against it should be acquitted of any suggestion of being racialist by so doing.
I want to start by protesting as strongly as I can against the leading article in The Times a few days ago.
§ Sir S. Summers
That part which I consider totally unjustified reads as follows:Those who disobey the Conservative Party whip in order to oppose it cannot escape the charge that they do not care how their coloured fellow citizens are treated.[HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."] The article also accuses those who would vote against the Bill of a complete lack of charity.
In the whole of this discussion, which is dealing with an entirely novel field, it would be much happier for all concerned if those of us who differ from others had a little more charity, tolerance and humility, because—perhaps I may be wrong, perhaps they may be wrong—we are dealing with a new situation. As such, mistakes may well be made, and it is dangerous to take up rigid attitudes at this stage without the experience of this kind of legislation from the past, because we may regret so doing.
Unlike practically every other hon. Member, I was prevented from being here on Second Reading. I shall not speculate what I would have done had I been here. At least, I tried to discover what has gone on since. In studying the Committee stage, I was a little disappointed to find that on 23 occasions when there was a Division my Front Bench was on the losing side, compared with only eight times when they were on the winning side. So, from a superficial point of view, it would appear that they did not succeed in making drastic changes in the Bill which, at the time it was presented on Second Reading, attracted a reasoned Amendment to throw it out.
I have considerable faults to find with the Bill, notably the rôle assigned to the Ministry of Employment and Productivity, and the limited scope for exemption for what is termed the small operator 452 both in housing and in employment. Those who think that not sufficient changes have been made in Committee may well feel that the reasons that prompted the Opposition to throw out the Bill on Second Reading still prevail. I do not share that view. I confess that I am influenced somewhat by the fact that a close friend of mine in America is at present suffering in prison for his activities in the civil rights campaign. I am influenced further by the thought that in my view Martin Luther King was one of the greatest men of our time, and I cannot but believe that some legislation is needed.
I will not go into detail, but I fear that the outstanding speech of my hon. and learned Friend at the beginning might well have been made on almost any Bill on this subject presented to the House. He did not indicate what changes would have prompted him to say that this would do more good than harm, and there are many who take a serious view of the Bill and would probably take a similar view on almost any Bill that was introduced. Therefore, in the last resort, one has to make up one's mind whether one is merely against any legislation, in which case clearly the consequence is to vote against this Bill.
If, on the other hand, one believes that some Bill is needed, it is very much more difficult to decide whether or not to vote against this one, but on balance, as I say chiefly because the emphasis is on conciliation, I am prepared to give it a chance to see how it works, without voting for it but without voting against it.
To those who intend to vote against it I would say three things. It is frequently said by mothers of children who are in danger through the lack of a zebra crossing, "Must we wait until two or three more children are killed before the safeguard is provided?" There is evidence that there is widespread discrimination in this country. Must we wait for the situation of discrimination to get all that much worse than it is before the House takes its courage into both hands and tries to legislate? If we take the view that the problems of drafting, of penalties and of enforcement are so complicated and intractable that this is not a subject that can be tackled by legislation, sooner or later that view will recoil to our regret and to our detriment.
453 Fortunately, the problem associated with colour as yet is comparatively small, thank God, compared with the situation in America. If legislation to tackle the problem is put off the problem will become more serious. We will make mistakes in the Bill;I have no doubt that the next Government provided from this side will make drastic changes in the Bill—I hope they do. The question that we must ask ourselves in the last resort is whether this is a perhaps inadequate attempt to provide a background which will help to create a public opinion response on this subject, or whether it is such a bad Bill that we will throw it out. I hope that we will give it a chance and see how it works.
§ 3.15 a.m.
§ Miss Joan Lestor (Eton and Slough)
Although I do not wish to delay the House at this late hour, as one who is very conscious of the meaning of this legislation and who has a large number of immigrants among my constituents, I must comment on a few aspects of the Bill.
I welcome the Measure and the fact that the Labour Party it talking about equality for everybody. Although some of my hon. Friends have severely criticised the Measure, and I have shared their view, we would be foolish not to accept this as a good first step in the right direction. However, it would be wrong for us now to rest on the assumption that, having declared that we want equality for all, the problem will solve itself. It will not, because the Bill represents only a small part of the public education that is vital in this sphere. Many of us are wondering where we go from here, and that is why we are apprehensive about the enforcement aspects of the Measure.
When the Bill was first discussed people tended to talk more about immigration than about race relations. Many speeches about immigration were made at that time and we tried to point out that we were really concerned with race relations. That must be right because we are concerned with relationships among our population, among the people who are already here and among those who are likely to come here. Nevertheless, one cannot separate one's attitude towards immigration from one's attitude towards building harmonious race relations.
454 I will not hark back to previous legislation, except to point out that the impact of that legislation—including the provisions affecting Asians in Kenya—made us hesitant on this score That is why I say that one cannot separate one's attitude towards immigration from one's attitude towards building a harmonious society.
§ Miss Lestor
I wish to refer to Clause 24, which enables the Government to conduct research into the whole question of race relations and the building of a better society. It is in this context that I wish to make it abundantly clear how sad it is that when we in Britain talk about immigration we think in terms of coloured immigrants. I have deduced from Answers to Questions in the House that this impression is unfounded. From the employment point of view, the Home Office has admitted that there are more white than coloured immigrants coming to this country.
It is vital to remember this, because on so many occasions when we have talked about race relations and immigration we have virtually always talked about coloured immigration. This highlights the question of colour, when that should not be the main issue. For this reason the Government should, when conducting research—as they can under the Bill—direct their attention to having a rational immigration policy which removes the present emphasis on colour from the concept of immigration. We must devise a policy which is concerned with skills and the needs of the country.
There should not be a limit placed on people from one part of the world because they happen to be coloured, and no ceiling should be placed on people from other parts. Unless we have such a rational policy we will go on talking only about coloured immigration. And if that happens, this Measure will not achieve any of our hopes. This is an important Bill and, if we try, we can make it effective. That will not happen unless, when we talk about immigration, we talk about it broadly and not in terms of colour.
§ 3.20 a.m.
§ Mr. John Hall (Wycombe)
It will not pass unnoticed that I put my name 455 to an Amendment tabled by my hon. Friend the Member for Torquay (Sir F. Bennett) which is in almost identical terms with that tabled by the Opposition on Second Reading, except, of course, that it has one or two amendments to bring it up to date. It was moved by my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for St. Marylebone (Mr. Hogg) in an outstanding and very moving speech.
In that speech, my right hon. and learned Friend said:Again we are proposing to divide the House on a reasonable Amendment. Again we will seek to improve the Bill in Committee. Again, if scome of our objections are met, there may be a chance of passing the Bill on Third Reading.Later in his speech, when he was referring to the judgment of the Lord President of the Council, who had said that when the Bill became law it wouldprobably be uneven in application and partially ineffective,my right hon. and learned Friend said:We think this subject is so important that Parliament ought not to be asked to pass a Bill which will 'probably be uneven in application and partially ineffective.' If a Bill is partially ineffective it will bring the law into contempt. If it is uneven in application, which is what the Lord President said, it will certainly exacerbate racial relations, not improve them.So far as I understand the proceedings in Committee—and having listened to the debate today—only the most minor changes have been made in the Bill and they certainly do not meet the major objections raised on Second Reading by my right hon. and learned Friend. If he still retains the same objections—and he has shown a consistency in attitude to the Bill throughout the Committee and Report stages—if I am right in maintaining that the Bill has changed only in minor respects, we are still in the position in which Parliament ought not to be asked to pass a Bill which, again in the Lord President's words, willprobably be uneven in application and partially ineffective.There is no merit, of course, as hon. Members on both sides will agree, in consistency purely for consistency's sake. Circumstances might arise, the march of events might demand, or even command, a change in attitude, but in this case nothing has happened between Second Reading and Third Reading which would 456 justify a change in attitude, certainly on this side of the House.
There were three broad principles of policy which were described very well indeed by my right hon. and learned Friend in his speech which still remain the same, which I accept, and I imagine most hon. Members on both sides of the House accept. The statement with which my right hon. and learned Friend ended his speech is as true now as it was then. He said:…the Government will not miprove matters in this field unless they can carry the people with them. Some of us flatter ourselves about being progressive. But the more progressive we are in this field, and the more progressive we think ourselves, very often the more surprised we are at how our constituents say that we are out of touch with them. And so it may be the case."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 23rd April, 1968;Vol. 762, cc. 69–80.]Nothing has changed except perhaps the attitude of that great organ of editorial opinion, The Times, which has already been quoted by my hon. Friend the Member for Aylesbury (Sir S. Summers). In its Saturday leader it was praising my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition for handling the present issue which, it was said, divided our party, in such a way as to reduce the damage of disunity, but in an interesting leader on 13th April, it was condemning my right hon. Friend for tabling an Amendment which, it was contended, was designed to do exactly the same thing. On Saturday it suggested that those not prepared to follow the party line could cast reflection on the Conservative Party. On 13th April, The Times was saying:it would be misguided to try to paper over Tory differences in that this would surely be to misunderstand what the public requires of an Opposition on a great issue. There are deep and sincere differences of opinion within the country as to the best method of dealing with the racial problem and it is likely to increase rather than to diminish respect for the Tories if the public can see these differences reflected within the party.On Saturday The Times was suggesting that those who were now against the Bill were men of prejudice, men without charity; little, mean men the product of the private bar and the provincial caucus. On 13th April the same newspaper said this:It is not disreputable to argue that racial harmony cannot be achieved through the 457 pronouncements or the pressures of the law, and that it can be developed only through the healing properties of time, of education, or of other policies... It is entirely reasonable that this difference of opinion should be argued out in public debate.It is not for me to suggest why The Times should change its attitude in a leader which displays all the prejudice, meanness, hypocrisy and lack of charity which it professes to discern in those with whose views it does not agree. Perhaps I can comment, in reply to The Times reference to the parable of the Good Samaritan, that had the Good Samaritan lived in a time when the race relations legislation was in force, and had he been called upon to succour two injured travellers of different races, with the possible threat of being referred to the Race Relations Board if he chose to succour one first, he might well have passed by on the other side. This is no more absurd than the reference made by The Times to them. [An HON. MEMBER: "Sacrilege."] I suggest that the hon. Gentleman addresses that remark to The Times.
Let me finally reiterate my own position. I think that some hon. Members on both sides of the House will know that for many years, in co-operation with many organisations and with leading citizens in my constituency of High Wycombe, I have worked with and through immigrant organisations to try to help them to settle into the community in which they have chosen to live. We have done a lot through these organisations to iron out differences which naturally arise when newcomers come to a town in large numbers—the problems of education, the problems of housing, the problems of catering for the different religious requirements which in themselves impose quite a problem on a comparatively small local authority. We have done a great deal to prevent the development of racial prejudice, both between the coloured immigrants and the white people in the town and—this is equally important—between members of the immigrant races themselves. A great deal of prejudice and discrimination exist between the immigrants who come to live in this country.
I would be the first to admit that a great deal still remains to be done. I would be the first to admit that there are cases of discrimination, prejudice and injustice. However, there are cases of 458 prejudice, discrimination and injustice between white people as well as between white and black. Nevertheless, allowing for that, a very high degree of success has been achieved by those who work in this field in my constituency. In a town with one of the highest proportions of immigrants to white population in the country, a considerable degree of racial harmony has prevailed.
Indeed, we have had no trouble of any consequence throughout the whole period that I have been the Member for this constituency. We have achieved this by education, by persuasion, by conciliation, by dealing with problems before they have arisen. We have done it without the aid of any new legislation. We have done it within the existing law.
My objection is that the Bill when enacted will stir up all the prejudice which lies beneath the surface. It will make the work of those who are already working in this field far more difficult. It will create the impression among many people, with its anomalies, with its injustices, and with its appeal to the sanctions of the courts, that they are being singled out for discrimination themselves white against black. It will make our problems in a town like High Wycombe ten times more difficult. This is the reason I oppose this Bill. I opposed it at the beginning. I regarded it as a bad Bill. I still think it is a bad Bill. I shall go on doing what I have done throughout and in which I have been consistent, and that is, oppose it.
I only pray that the Bill we pass in this House tonight will not do what I think it will do: I hope it will not provoke the animosities which, we know, underlie the feelings of some of our citizens in this country. I hope that it will not undo the work we in Wycombe have been doing for many years. I hope it will not do damage to the good relations we have built up in Wycombe over many years without the aid of legislation.
§ 3.30 a.m.
§ Mr. Winnick
I would say to the hon. Gentleman the Member for Wycombe (Mr. John Hall) that good race relations have been destroyed in the last few weeks by the notorious speech of the right hon. Member for 459 Wolverhampton, South-West (Mr. Powell). I believe that it should be said that many of us were disgusted, nauseated, by the type of speech the right hon. Member made.
The Bill is a most welcome Measure. I consider that there are certain imperfections in it, but I also would like to congratulate the Government on the Bill, for I believe that they should be congratulated on their courage in tackling this problem. It is a problem which needed to be tackled, and by this Bill they have taken necessary measures.
Some mischief makers have spread the nonsense that what we are doing is creating a privileged minority. It is not true, and the people who spread that dangerous nonsense know it is not true. We are not in any way creating a privileged minority. What we are doing is to try to take the necessary steps to overcome the discrimination people have to suffer in Britain because of the colour of their skins. If any proof was needed that discrimination existed, and still unfortunately continues to exist, in our country, it was given by the P.E.P. report. I knew discrimination existed, and I raised the matter in the House before the P.E.P. report was published. What worried me was the evidence that the people suffering most in the coloured community were people who had been here the longest and the people with the most skills. That was indeed very worrying and disturbing, and as long as a single person in our country is penalised or discriminated against because of the colour of his skin the House of Commons ought to be very worried indeed.
One of my hon. Friends said earlier that in America a situation existed in which all the car pullman porters are negroes and it is difficult for white people to become such porters. If that type of situation existed in Britain I would be against it. I do not look upon myself as being pro-negro or pro-white: I believe in equal rights, and I believe discrimination should be combatted. The Bill, to a very large extent, does so by the measures it proposes over housing, employment, and credit facilities.
In what will be a very brief speech I must say I hope the House will not be 460 complacent about the future. In my opinion—perhaps I am being somewhat pessimistic—in the next few years we shall have a tremendous struggle in Britain to make sure that people who were born here, or who, if not born here, have spent most of their early life here and been brought up here, and who have non-white skins, have the same opportunities as the white people. What causes me more concern than anything else is the feeling that we shall not overcome the problem but will have the same type of racial situation as exists in the United States. It is not too late to learn lessons from America. Hence the reason we should welcome the Bill which, I hope, will become law in the very near future, but I hope that we shall not be unduly complacent about the the problems which will arise in the near future. Given good will and tolerance we can, I believe, overcome our problems, but we have to make sure that mischief-making people who stir up racial trouble are answered.
We need political courage in facing the problem of the minority in Britain, and if we have sufficient political courage we can make sure that people not white can live their lives here in Britain without being penalised or discriminated against in any way.
§ 3.35 a.m.
§ Dr. Winstanley
In a way this is perhaps rather a sad occasion, because I believe that the vast majority of hon. Members do not discriminate in their behaviour towards coloured people or people of different racial or ethnic origins, do not wish to discriminate, and do not believe that other people should discriminate. They want to see people protected from that kind of discrimination, but it seems to me rather unlikely that the message that will emerge tonight will have that degree of clarity.
Our party political system is divisive in a sense, though I make no criticism of that. It is understandable and right perhaps, that whatever a Government suggest an Opposition tend either to oppose or at best damn with very faint praise. We must also accept that things people disagree about are news, and things they agree about are not often news. I make no complaint about that either, but it means that the divisions of opinion are often publicised with much 461 greater force than the agreements. This is inevitable, but on a moral issue of this kind we should all strive on an occasion like this to achieve the kind of unity and consensus which perhaps normally emerge only in time of war. When there is a war we do not very often find reasoned Amendments.
I realise that that cannot be used as an argument for getting people to support a Bill which they regard as defective or do not agree with in detail. Therefore, before the Bills leaves us we should look at the kind of criticisms that have been made. Many hon. Members have said that it will not do its job and cannot be enforced. I accept some of those criticisms. We may find when it is operating that in many fields it cannot be enforced with the vigour and effectiveness that some hon. Members would wish. But that is not a reason for opposing it. The House has a duty to set an example by stating clearly at least what should happen, even if it cannot enforce it to the fullest possible extent.
It has been said by many hon. Members that in some curious way the Bill interferes with the ordinary liberties of the subject. Many examples have been given tonight. I do not accept for a moment that any well-intentioned person will be inhibited in any way from doing anything which any honourable or decent person should regard as something which he or she should be able to do. I think that it was the hon. Member for Isle of Thanet (Mr. Rees-Davies) who went on at some length about private behaviour in a person's private home. When we examined what he meant by the person's private home, the Englishman's castle, we found that he meant a house into which that person was taking various residents and paying guests, in other words, running a business. When a person runs a business by providing accommodation—
§ Dr. Winstanley
I am not discussing an Amendment, Mr. Speaker, but a matter which is in the Bill, which regulates what a person does in his or her home, if it is being used for business purposes. It is right that it should do so in this connection.
462 It has also been said by many hon. Members that in the, we are told, intimate matter of the private sale of a house the Bill in some way restricts a person's right to sell his house to whom he wishes. I tried to examine this by asking the right hon. and learned Member for Hertfordshire, East (Sir D. Walker-Smith) what he thought about cases where people arranged privately to sell their house to an individual, not knowing that individual, satisfied themselves that the money was forthcoming and so on, but at the very end met the person, found that he was black and said, "I am afraid that I cannot sell the house to you." I asked the right hon. and learned Gentleman whether he thought a person ought to be permitted to say that, and he said "No." But that is precisely the kind of thing—and the only kind of thing as I see it—that the Bill stops them from saying.
I accept that the Bill cannot do everything I should like it to do, but I do not accept these various arguments that in some curious way it restricts people from doing legitimate, sensible and reasonable things. I do not believe that any well-intentioned person will find that this Bill restricts them in any undesirable way at all.
When I said this was a sad occasion, let me also say I am sure it is a very useful occasion, because I think it has helped many hon. Members to learn more about what the Bill actually means. I think many of them were not very clear about this. I hope too that, as a result of these discussions, it may help people outside to realise what the Bill means.
I think I should emphasise, as did the hon. Lady the Member for Eton and Slough (Miss Joan Lestor), that this Bill is not about immigration. It is not about recent arrivals here. Whenever we discuss race relations and the people involved in this Bill, everybody immediately talks about recent arrivals, but I think we should constantly be reminded that the Bill is about people who live here, people who belong here, people who in another connection the Home Secretary might have referred to as belongers, people who have nowhere else to go to.
When we talk about people being assisted to go back to their place of origin, it should be remembered that for 463 many of them their place of origin is Cardiff, Liverpool or Manchester. It is this kind of thing which this House should hammering home.
Before I sit down, I should pass my congratulations to the right hon. and learned Member for St. Marylebone (Mr. Hogg) for endeavouring to arrive at that kind of consensus. He was good enough to say some kind words about me on a previous occasion, and that did not do me any harm in Cheadle, and I hope my kind words about him tonight will not do him any harm.
In the debate on the Expiring Laws Continuance Bill on 15th November, 1967, the right hon. and learned Gentleman said thatpersons lawfully within this country should be treated on the basis of the universal declaration of human rights, that one person should be treated in the same way as another in respect of dignity and human rights."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 15th November, 1967;Vol. 754, c. 441.]Surely that is precisely what this Bill is trying to do. It may have some sad effects; it may not do everything we would like; but I am sure it would do a lot if we all said now that we support it, as I and my right hon. and hon. Friends do.
§ 3.44 a.m.
§ Mr. Heffer
I do not want to detain the House long, but one of the hon. Members on the other side said that he was influenced in supporting this Bill because of a friend he had who was a civil rights worker and who was imprisoned in the United States. I am influenced in supporting this Bill because I have in my own family relatives who are of a different colour from myself, and I know the experiences which they have had at different times because of prejudice and certain discrimination that has been applied to them.
As far as I am concerned, it is regrettable that we have had to bring in legislation of this kind. It would have been much better if we could have had orderly integration in our country, and a multi-racial society where prejudice did not exist, without any legislation at all.
The only argument that has to be faced—the only serious argument that has been put forward—is whether the Bill is necessary and whether it is right 464 that we should bring it in. If we are honest with ourselves we have to admit that there has been practised over the past few years in particular among a small but nevertheless articulate section of the population discrimination against some of our citizens because of their colour and ethnic origins. Surely we have to learn the experience of the U.S.A. I said in Committee that the experiences in this country are not the same as those in the U.S.A. It would be wrong to translate its situation automatically in our country. But we have in front of us the experience in the U.S. where because they failed to tackle their problems early enough there is the great prejudice and upheaval that arises periodically in their cities.
This Bill surely is designed, rightly, to make certain that we deal with the problem before it gets to the stage that it has done in the U.S.A. For that reason every citizen in this country who is not prejudiced ought to welcome the Bill. It is true that legislation cannot make any one of us love our neighbour. It cannot eliminate prejudice. It cannot make the person who is so twisted in mind and attitude love another person whose skin is a different colour. But what it can do, and what it will do, is regulate the habits of our people in a civilised manner. This surely is the essential nature of the Bill.
The Bill obviously has a number of weaknesses. It could have been strengthened. But I do not think that the conciliation part could have been or ought to have been strengthened. I think we have got that right. Maybe our experience over the years will prove that we need to strengthen the Bill in this direction. But I think that it is right that we should, as we are doing in the Bill, rely first upon the normal methods of conciliation that exist within industry, and then as a last resort use the conciliation machinery in Part II of the Race Relations Board.
I welcome the Bill in every way possible. It is a necessary Bill. I hope that hon. Members opposite who believe in the Bill as I do will not merely abstain from voting but give us their support in the Lobby in the same way as some of my hon. Friends found themselves in the same Lobby on a matter of principle last week.
§ 3.49 a.m.
§ Mr. Scott
Like my hon. Friend the Member for Wycombe (Mr. John Hall), I have spent much time and effort in my constituency in trying to encourage good community relations, and, indeed, in the last two years I have been chairman of the Voluntary Liaison Committee in the City of Westminster which has worked for better community relations in that city.
I am bound to say that my experience has led me to exactly the opposite conclusion from that to which the experience of my right hon. Friend has led him. Many people have made many suggestions about what will be achieved or what will happen as a result of the passing of the Bill. I think it will do three very positive things, and three very desirable things. First, it will make clear that this nation is opposed to racial discrimination and that a public declaration is important. Secondly, it will give support to the wobblers, those who say that they do not want to discriminate but that their tenants, customers or employees will not like it unless they do. Thirdly, it will provide some redress to those of our citizens who suffer the humiliation of racial discrimination.
It is not a strong Bill but if it is operated well, vigorously and effectively, it can win the confidence both of the host and of the minority communities and can make a real contribution to harmonious race relations, and it can make clear that racial discrimination is not only unlawful but no longer respectable.
Much depends on the way in which the Board and the Community Relations Commission work, particularly the latter, because law enforcement is one thing but the development of community relations through the Commission is perhaps the bigger part of the task. If it can work imaginatively at national level and can encourage local committees to work in that way in our cities;if it can not only encourage compliance with the law but affirmative voluntary action to wipe out racial discrimination by voluntary action, then the passing of the Bill can be a beginning and not an end to a story.
The debates on the Bill have been confused much with the debate on immigration. To my mind, what the Bill 466 is about is that children in Paddington and many other places who have been born here, are going through our schools, who will get their O and A levels and many of whom will go to university, will want the jobs for which they are qualified and the houses they can afford. If we do not give them those jobs and houses, we shall be storing up a problem for ourselves. But this is not really why we should be passing the Bill. They should get the jobs they are qualified for and the houses they can afford because it is right that they should do so.
§ 3.53 a.m.
§ Mr. Michael Foot (Ebbw Vale)
The hon. Member for Paddington, South (Mr. Scott) has made a courageous speech and I do not wish to be tempted into examining the fissures in the party opposite. It might not help him and others in overcoming them. But something should be said and I say it directly to the right hon. Member for Wolver-hampton, South-West (Mr. Powell). I waited to see whether he would take part in these debates. I think that he should have done. One of the virtues of the House is that the views that an hon. Member expresses, particularly when they are unpopular, can be tested in debate. When an hon. Member makes claims, wide or extravagant, they can be subjected immediately to cross-examination. For example, the case of the Wol-verhampton widow might have been disposed of at once in the House. In the same way, many of the other allegations he has made outside the House he has not chosen to make inside it.
The right hon. Gentleman has such a great reputation in this House—everyone knows he can defend his views with great ability—that I find it remarkable that he has not chosen to try and persuade his fellow Members to accept the views he has stated outside. I do not accuse him of lack of courage. It would be foolish for anyone to do that. As I have said, his ability is of the very highest. That makes it all the more remarkable, if the issue is of such paramount importance for the future of the nation, as the right hon. Gentleman said in his famous, or infamous, speech, that he has not spoken in these debates. Surely this is the place where he should have come to speak, and then the House of Commons would have been able to judge 467 whether he was prepared to speak in the House in the same tone which he used outside. I therefore say to the right hon. Gentleman—
§ Mr. Evelyn King
On a point of order. Is this discussion of a speech largely about immigration and which in any event had nothing to do with the Bill in order on Third Reading?
§ Mr. Foot
I have said what I wished to say. The reputation and the maintenance of the reputation of the House of Commons require that hon. Members, particularly those of high standing in it such as the right hon. Gentleman, should be prepared to state their views in the House. I invite the right hon. Gentleman, if he does not do it today, to seek an early opportunity to recapitulate in the House the views which he stated outside it, so that they may be subjected to scrutiny and examination by other hon. Members. One of the reasons why many of us welcome the Bill is precisely that it will help to remedy some of the evil consequences of the right hon. Gentleman's deed when he delivered that infamous speech.
§ 3.56 a.m.
§ Mr. Evelyn King
Unlike the hon. Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. Michael Foot), having spent about 70 hours on the Bill, it would be my wish, at four o'clock in the morning, to say something about the Bill which the House, whether it agreed with it or not, would find constructive. The reason I cannot do that is that within the rules of order I can discuss only what is in the Bill. A major criticism of the Bill is that, with the possible exception of Part III, which deals with the Community Relations Commission, it is negative and consists of a list of things which people must not do.
I am practical enough to know that sometimes rules of that sort have to be made, but I earnestly hope, and I am entitled to say so in the light of some of the speeches, that no one will imagine for a second that the problems with which we are faced will be in any serious manner solved by the Bill. It would be out of order for me to dwell on the solu- 468 tions to the problem, which lie in housing, education and spending money. In effect—and I hope that I shall have fairly general agreement about this—it is a poor man's Bill, which does not touch the true and vital nature of the problem.
The problem which worries me almost more than any other is that of workability. I believe that I can carry most hon. Members with me about that, especially those who feel strongly about the Bill. They at least should agree with me that if we were to make to the immigrant community promises which we could not fulfill, if we were to offer hopes which were not realised, we would do something irresponsible.
I should like to comment on the workability. It is easy to overlook what the Bill says. The employment provisions, for instance, cover about 100,000 employers employing tens of millions of people. The Bill purports to say that if one of the million immigrants is unjustly treated in the means by which he gets his employment, or in the means by which he is promoted, or on the occasion on which he is sacked, there will be cause for complaint.
It goes on to say that the sale of houses shall come within its scope. I do not know precisely how many houses change hands every year;certainly tens of thousands, or how many tenancies are changed, but certainly hundreds of thousands. What I press on the House is that the sheer weight, the sheer vast-ness of the field which we are trying to cover, is such that if it is covered, there will have to be a whole machinery of enforcement, with officials and staffs, which is nowhere in the Bill defined.
A major portion of this work is to be done by the Race Relations Board. The total strength of that Board, to cover the whole field which I have tried to outline, is 19 persons; and from Buckinghamshire to Land's End I do not believe that there is a single one.
It is well that we should legislate genuinely and sincerely. If we say that these are the things which we believe ought to be the law, we should say, also, that we know these are the things which we can, in fact, do. We should say that we are providing the machinery for carrying out our intention, but I believe that in this we are bound to be doomed.
469 That is largely why, in most of the comments I have ventured to make in the Standing Committee I have sought to reduce the area within which the Bill would work; and I say that because I would rather have some small measures which can bear fruit than to set out before the immigrant community a Bill so wide in its scope that it cannot effectively be enforced.
At this hour I will say no more, but I beg hon. Members not to be misled by airy flights of talk about human rights. The first human right is that a promise made is fulfilled. Nobody would be more delighted than I if what I have ventured to say tonight comes to be proved wrong. If I am proved wrong, then I shall be delighted, but, on the evidence I have, I cannot prophesy for the Bill the success that I should like to see.
§ 4.5 a.m.
§ Mr. Hogg
When I think of all the time which I have spent on the Bill since it was introduced on Second Reading I tremble to think that, at five minutes past four in the morning, I have yet another infliction to make on the House, but, having regard to the course which things have taken, I hope that the whole House would agree that manifestly I should not be doing my duty to the House—and indeed, still more to my party; because I have not played a small part in these debates—if I did not speak from this Bench.
If what I say to those behind me, and even more to those opposite to me in such good numbers, is accepted with forbearance, I shall be content, but this is a matter in which a certain amount of candour is required.
I think that I can honestly say that I can only remember one debate that I have ever taken part in in this House—the Norway debate, some time ago, in 1940—that has caused me more anxiety as to whether I was doing the right thing. In each case, I differed from some members of my own party. In each case, I was sorry to do so, because I respected them and respected their opinion. In each case, my decision was based partly on instinct as well as reason, but instincts are not always bad guides, especially if they are supported by experience.
470 We are now on Third Reading of the Bill, and, by custom, we only discuss its contents. There is one preliminary point I want to make, which is not purely a debating point, because it has a distinct bearing on our discussions. It will be seen that Clause 4, Clause 6, Clause 9, as amended, Clause 10, Clauses 11 and 12, as amended, the greater part of Clauses 13 to 17 inclusive, the whole of Part III, apart from one passing reference by my hon. Friend the Member for Ayles-bury (Sir S. Summers), whose speech I greatly appreciated, all the Schedules—none of these has come into controversy or serious discussion in today's debates.
In a sense that is a debating point, because some were consequently on things in dispute. Broadly speaking, they are provisions in the Bill that are either accepted or not seriously disputed. When one is considering a vote, although I do not want to say anything about that part of the Bill which constitutes the greater part of the remarks I have already made, I would ask the House not to forget that I have mentioned it, because it enters into my calculations as to what the proper course is. There are two entirely separate questions in any House of Commons debate. The first is, what is one's opinion on the controversy? The second is how one translates that into the "yes" or "no" procedure which constitutes the voting pattern which, rightly, disciplines us into accepting or rejecting. The relationship between these two separate issues is often a question of anxious consideration.
In this case, I have never had any doubt about policy, and there has been a wide consensus within my party upon what that policy should be. A dispute has arisen about how to translate it into a voting pattern. But, having accepted that this was basically a decision on which there was a very wide consensus of opinion, I am bound to accept that this has to be treated as a question of tactics, not in a pejorative sense, but in a proper, responsible sense, of casting a vote or not casting, acting in a way which does most good to the country, and which closely represents the opinion that one holds.
I have always thought, and I say this in great humility, that in this House, and in public life, whereas principle must be a question for the individual conscience, 471 and policy must be a question for a party, tactics can legitimately be regarded as the prerogative of leadership. I say this in a House which has discovered during its short life, since 1966, many difficulties of tactics, on both sides. In approaching the Bill and its contents I was conscious of three broad groups of opinion in the House, all of which were represented in my party. I suspect that all of them are present in the party opposite, although they have not come to the surface.
One is the group of enthusiastic supporters of the Bill, represented well in this Third Reading debate by the Undersecretary himself. I respect their opinion, and I think that even the most inveterate opponents of the Bill respect them, too. Certainly, my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Hertfordshire, East (Sir D. Walker-Smith) respected it, because he described it—and it is not an insult so to describe it —as well-intentioned.
If I may venture a friendly criticism, it is—and hon. Members will give me credit for having said so throughout—that they are perhaps a little too unaware of the extent to which they have to bring people along with them in their opinions, a Title too oblivious of the necessity for good legislation as well as good intention, and possibly again a little unaware of the difficulty of enforcing particular provisions about which some of us feel doubts. It is for that reason that although I have accepted many of the purposes behind the Bill, I have never numbered myself of that company.
On the other side, and on the other extreme, I have been aware throughout of a body of opinion not represented so far in this Third Reading debate. Perhaps it has been holding back. There has been a body of opinion—and I challenge anyone to say that I am wrong—to whom any legislation of this kind or which bears a general resemblance to the legislation that we are discussing is wholly obnoxious. I do not reproach them any more than I reproach the enthusiastic supporters of the Bill. I do not accuse them of being uncharitable or of being racialist. On the contrary, I see quite clearly that it is their view that legislation of this 472 kind is inherently an infringement of individual liberty.
As I have said for a very long time and repeatedly in the course of our debates, the only liberty which is worth while is ultimately the liberty to do what is wrong—that is to say, the liberty to do what other people think is wrong. Therefore, I respect and recognise that there is a legitimate moral value behind that opposition. But I must add that it is not my position.
My hon. and learned Friend the Member for Buckinghamshire, South (Mr. Ronald Bell) was agreeable enough to say in a very well-written letter to The Times, which I read with great enjoyment, that he liked my political company. Well, I like his. But, knowing what his view is of this subject, knowing that he would oppose anything that right hon. Gentlemen opposite proposed, and that I do not reject everything that they propose, much as I enjoy his political company, I would find it a little embarrassing to find myself wholly identified in a straight vote against the Bill in the Lobby. I think that it would be natural for people who found us there together to suppose that we agreed, when we do not.
That is one of the difficulties that I felt from the start about handling the tactics of the Bill, by which I mean the way in which to translate what I believe to be a consistent, although admittedly controversial, view about its contents into a consistent and intelligible voting pattern.
I notice that none of the hon. Members on my side who have spoken so far on Third Reading have gone as far as I know the inveterate opponents of the Bill go. I wonder whether they are doing the party or the House or the country a service by identifying themselves with such a position. Respect it as I will, I cannot find it possible to identify myself with that position—that is to say, a blank negative to the Bill.
I now come to the actual contents—that is to say, to those parts of the Bill that have been discussed. I refer to Clauses 1 and 2, the Clauses dealing with employment and accommodation, and the enforcement Clauses. These are all that are in controversy.
473 The whole House knows that I have had my reservations about Clause 1. I share the view, although it was never adequately discussed because of the Rules of Order, which was put forward at intervals by the hon. Member for Hamp-stead (Mr. Whitaker). I believe that it was a mistake to put in Clause 1 in such a form as it holds at the moment, in which the root of the Bill limits its base to race, colour, ethnic origin and national origin. I believe, and I have said before, that that tends to some extent to polarise the antagonism which we want to diminish.
A more hopeful Clause 1 would have been something quite different which founded itself upon human rights. Unhappily, my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Buckinghamshire, South found that view quite as abhorrent as I found his total opposition to the Bill. As it was out of order we could never resolve our difficulties, but it causes me another doubt as to whether I should happily, on this occasion, find myself voting with my hon. and learned Friend in the "No" Lobby.
That brings me to Clause 2, which we have discussed and which I have criticised. I did so yesterday, and I do not want to repeat my criticism. I now want to say a word about the question whether it is inherently an infringement of liberty, because this is one of the objections which some of my hon. Friends feel to the Bill as a whole and it can be as conveniently discussed in relation to Clause 2 as to any other part of it.
I do not so find it. I have already said that I go along with it. I recognise that individual liberty involves the liberty to do what other people regard as wrong. I would fight for that liberty even where it was unpopular to do so, because it always is unpopular to defend in a public place the right to do what other people think to be wrong.
I am, however, bound to add this proviso to that doctrine. Where individual acts add up cumulatively to a large-scale social injustice, it is, a least, for consideration whether Parliament ought not to deal with them. Where one is dealing with services offered to the public, whether by a barrister, as I tend to offer my services, or as I used 474 to do before the Bill started, or as a doctor, a priest or a shopkeeper, and more particularly where those services are offered to a section of the public by one of the great sources of supply—the great landlords, the great trade unions, the great businesses or the great providers of transport—I begin to think that one is dealing with something where, if the individual right to the service is infringed, a serious source of injury might take place.
In at least two of the areas—and here I move on to Clauses 3 and 5—those of housing and employment, there is positive evidence that injustice on a serious scale may be taking place. I cannot, therefore, say that it is inherently and necessarily an infringement of the liberty which I respect to attempt to legislate about it.
I agree that I find blemishes in the legislation, and I have not sought to minimise those blemishes. I do not think that the House was wise to include in the Bill those parts of it which are so wide of scope as to cover what we have agreed to call, by a kind of legitimate shorthand, the small operator. I wanted to deal with the large operator and with the large-scale effects. That the House has decided against.
I accept the decision with regret, because I think it was a mistake, but in the end, in Clause 2, in Clause 3, in Clause 5, and in the subordinate Clauses 7 and 8 I find that there is material to praise as well as the material which I found to blame. So, also, in the enforcement Clauses. We have had a debate on damages and I will not repeat what I had to say then.
I also wish to criticise those parts of the enforcement Clauses which convey exclusive jurisdiction upon a limited number of county courts, not on county courts as a whole and not on the High Court, and add those extraordinary creatures that the Attorney-General in Committee found it so difficult to defend, the assessors, which I venture to say he must have attacked robustly in the privacy of Government counsels. These are blemishes, but, on the other hand, here too I find an element of the Bill which is not devoid of merit.
The Under-Secretary, in his enthusiasm, congratulated his colleagues upon 475 their courage and vision in bringing forward the proposals of the Bill. He even congratulated them on the Race Relations Act. What he ought to have done was to congratulate the Conservative minority on the Standing Committee which introduced the enforcement provisions of the Race Relations Act of 1965. It was a Conservative invention based largely on American experience. When the Government introduced that Bill they introduced it with criminal provisions. It came back from Standing Committee with conciliation and injunction machinery which came from us. I do not see why we should not claim credit for it. It am not claiming it exclusively, but the hon. Gentleman's praise was exclusively devoted to his own side and I think that we, too, are entitled to a little bit of the praise.
That leads me to the crux of the matter. On Second Reading, I supported, I hope with some force, a reasoned Amendment which said that, on balance, the Bill would do more harm than good. This is obviously a difficult judgment to make as a whole. I wholly disagree with those of my hon. Friends who ay that it is in ail respects the same Bill. I have not pretended to remind the House of the phrase which my hon. Friend the Member for Wycombe (Mr. John Hall) reminded the House of and which I used on Second Reading. This is not a repetition of the history of the Race Relations Bill of 1965. The changes have not been fundamental here as they were then, but it would be a great mistake, in my judgment at any rate, to described them as contemptible or insignificant simply because they were not fundamental.
A new assessment clearly has to be made as to the balance, and it is a more difficult balance to draw. If I were to rest solely on that limb I am sure that I should be spending a great deal of the House's time, and I do not wish to do so, because I must point out that there are other differences between the situation on Second Reading and the situation which we now face. The Motion is different on Second Reading. We had the rational and frequently debated option of a reasoned Amendment, and we took it. We inquired whether that option was a reasonable option 476 on Third Reading. The conclusion we arrived at was that it was neither reasonable nor intelligible. It is within the rules of order, so I am informed, but in 30 years' experience of the House I cannot readily recollect a single instance where it has been taken.
Now, we have to choose between a direct vote for or a direct vote against, and I am reluctant to ask my party to give a direct vote against the Bill. Had that been the option on Second Reading, I should have taken the same view as I am taking now. If I had had to choose on Second Reading in the light of my then speech either to vote for the Bill or to vote against it, I should have refused to vote. As it was, I had another option and I asked my hon. Friends to take it.
But if my hon. Friends ask me what has changed since then, then I am bound to say that one thing that has changed has been my fundamental assessment of the Bill, which is that it is a matter to be discussed rationally in the light of the social context in which we are placed and in the light of its probable consequences, and not in a mood of bad temper or emotionalism. That is not the only thing that has changed. In my judgment, the social climate has also changed since Second Reading. This is where an element of instinct must come in, but I am not entering into the criticism that has been made on the benches opposite of the speech of my right hon. Friend the Member for Wolverhampton, South-West (Mr. Powell). I said all I had to say about that on Second Reading.
I would only add, with some seriousness of mind and purpose, that I have been rather perturbed by some of the manifestations of public feeling which have taken place since Second Reading. If I had to vote against the Bill, I would have found it very much more easy to do so on Second Reading than I would now. It is a matter of the highest importance, both for the House and the country, that the rather ugly manifestations of feeling that have taken place should not be associated with in any way by any hon. Member. I am not associating myself in any way with the criticisms, which were wholly unjust, in The Times leading article. But whether the criticism is just or unjust, it would be difficult—one would spend a great deal of time doing this—to explain away 477 a straight vote against the Bill as not being associated with that kind of feeling.
§ Hon. Members: Rubbish.
§ Mr. Speaker
Order. The debate has been placid so far. There is no reason why it should not remain so.
§ Mr. Hogg
—and I have given up what I believe to be a promising professional career and I have abandoned a great hereditary position. I am not now going to be put down from saying what I believe it is my duty to say by unmannerly people who cannot hear views different from their own in silence. I ask my party to agree with me.
§ 4.30 a.m.
§ Mr. Callaghan rose—
§ Mr. Callaghan
It falls to me to say the last word, and I do so willingly. I am proud to take part in this debate, because whatever agreement or disagreement there may be with the views expressed by the right hon. and learned Member for St. Marylebone (Mr. Hogg)—I completely understand his emotion and that of those who may oppose him—the fact remains, as hon. Members will acknowledge, that in his speech, and in the speeches of others, such as those of the hon. Member" for Paddington, South (Mr. Scott) and the hon. Member for Wycombe (Mr. John Hall), we have heard the accents of truth, sincerity and principle.
At a time when politicians of all shades are under considerable attack for falling below the level of events, we can be proud of the kind of debate that we have had. It has taken place in the early hours of the morning, but it has certainly been none the worse for that. Indeed, in my view it has been all the better for it. I speak of the generality of the debate. We have listened with great attention and very great care for 478 99 per cent. of the time. Irrespective of whether we agreed with them or not, we respected the views put forward. I want to state my attitude, because I think that this is a very great occasion. When introducing the Bill I had read a great deal of the debates which had taken place before and what had been said by the right hon. and learned Gentleman and his colleagues. Although I hope that I am as good a party man as any, I was determined to make this as far as possible a bipartisan approach. I am not ashamed of that. I believe it to be the right approach on this issue. I prepared a Bill which, although it fell short of the expectations of the right hon. and learned Gentleman, nevertheless, as I saw it, was based on a consensus of view in the House and would, as the right hon. and learned Gentleman adjures us, not antagonise the people of this country, but carry them with us.
On Second Reading, the right hon. and learned Gentleman put a number of questions and considerations to me. The particular points he put were about the position of the small employer, the position of the person who let his house or a part of it, about the owner-occupier who sold his house without recourse to an estate agent, who had a private transaction, and the position of the small landlord. I say this to those who criticise the right hon. and learned Gentleman. It is not for me to defend him; he probably can do that better without my help. In his reasoned Amendment he asked the Government to consider these points. All of them have been considered and changes in the Bill have been made on all of them. They may be changes which some people will find more palatable than others. I did it in pursuance of my very strong desire that the House of Commons, in so far as it is possible, should unite in this novel declaration of principle. I say this to those who have criticised the right hon. and learned Gentleman. I have endeavoured, not to his utter satisfaction, to meet the points that were made.
I really believe that it is more important to have a united House of Commons on this issue than it is to satisfy any desire to exploit party fissures or to attack each other's lack of principle and bona fides in this matter. I appeal to the House very sincerely tonight. I know 479 there are some who feel bound to vote, but I ask the House to let us have, if possible the Third Reading of the Bill without a Division. It could be the greatest and most unanimous declaration that could be made.
In the light of the nature of the deliberations we have had, in the light of the fact that the official Conservative Opposition does not propose to vote against the Bill, I think that the time has come when we should proceed with the discussions in the all-party committee I proposed when making my Second Reading speech. The nature of our discussions and the Bill which has emerged are of such a character that we should now begin, all parties in the House, to foresee the operation of the Measure, as I trust it will emerge from another place, and the other issues which concern race relations.
Therefore, I shall be approaching once more the right hon. and learned Gentleman—he gave me a reply last time which was favourable, but he said that he wished to reserve his position—and the Liberal Party to see if we can establish this committee now. I have the deepest and most profound conviction that the path of happiness and the health of our society lies on the declaration of principle that, whatever view we may take about people coming into this country, once they are here they must be treated as equals.
This is what the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Wolverhampton, South-West (Mr. Powell) could do to help. I take the view of my hon. Friend the Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. Michael Foot). I intended to say something about it, but I will not pursue it, because my hon. Friend made it clear. The right hon. Gentleman has a responsibility to make a distinction, if he believes in a distinction, between his views on the number of people coming to this country and the treatment of those who are already here. He is at the moment associated with opposition to the Bill. He is also clearly associated with a desire to prevent any others from coming here.
I would take the view that the integration, absorption and assimilation of the million new citizens we have got here is of greater importance to the health of our community than the unlimited entry 480 of new migrants. A very difficult balance has to be held. But the right hon. Gentleman, who has the ear of the country on this question of race, has now the responsibility for making his position clear, not on migration, but on the question of the Bill. I regret very much that he has not attempted to intervene in any of our debates to make his position clear.
If there is one picture that will live in my memory, as I imagine that it will in the memory of every Member, it is the picture of the Palace of Westminster surrounded by good, decent British working-men jeering at the High Commissioner for Kenya because he was of a different colour. There must be a terrible gap, a terrible lack of education which I cannot believe that the right hon. Gentleman can defend. He cannot defend that kind of approach; and he has a great responsibility, because he has the greatest influence of anybody with the people of this country at the moment, because of the views he has expressed. He has a responsibility to make it clear that, no matter what the colour of a man's skin is, when he is in this country he should be treated equally with everyone else. It is the right hon. Gentleman's responsibility to begin to damp down the flames that he has stirred. I leave the right hon. Gentleman with that, but it is something that he should reflect on very seriously indeed.
As regards the Bill itself, there are four questions. Is it necessary? Will it make things worse? Is it practicable0 Is it enough? I answer those questions quite simply in this way. I believe that the Bill is necessary for the reasons expressed by many hon. Gentlemen, including the hon. Member for Aylesbury (Sir S. Summers) and the right hon. and learned Member for St. Marylebone. There are, I regret to say, a number—and a growing number—of examples of discrimination, particularly in the fields of employment and housing. It is, in my view, and in the view of the great majority of the House of Commons, therefore necessary to declare that in a society in which we wish to live this discrimination shall be made unlawful.
Secondly, will it make things worse? This is the view which is taken by some hon. Gentlemen. We cannot forget history on this. The history of the matter 481 is that, when the Race Relations Bill, 1965 was introduced, great changes were made in it, but I do not think that I do the hon. and learned Member for Buckinghamshire, South (Mr. Ronald Bell) an injustice when I say that on Third Reading he said—I have not checked my memory on this and I am willing to withdraw this if he says that he did not say this; if he did not, others did—that the operation of the 1965 Act would make matters worse. That is precisely the criticism which is being uttered about this Bill at this time.
I think that anybody who has studied this matter will have no doubt that the operation of the Race Relations Act, 1965, has improved race relations in the limited fields in which it operated. There may be some who will disagree about that. I can only say that they are in a substantial minority on that matter. Therefore, if we may judge from the history of previous legislation—and I am entitled to draw a conclusion from it—it is at least as likely that the Bill will make things better as it is that it will make things worse; and I myself would put it much higher. I think that there is a very strong prospect that it will improve matters rather than make them worse, for the reasons given by the hon. Member for Paddington, South. I found more hope in the hon. Gentleman's approach and in his speech than I did in all that much publicised postbag of the right hon. Member for Wolverhamp-ton, South-West.
Then, is it practicable? I think that the answer to that is, Yes, despite the fears of the hon. Member for Dorset, South (Mr. Evelyn King). He referred to the millions of people in employment, but that is one reason, a very important reason, why I wanted to use the machinery of the trade unions and of the employers, the voluntary machinery which now exists, which, extending over
§ the whole field, at present operates for the millions of people to whom he referred. The individual grievance today is taken up—millions of them, if the hon. Gentleman likes; the individual grievance today is solved; and we are using exactly the same machinery in this very important field. Therefore, I take the view that, although there are bound to be difficulties in this matter, the machinery is practicable, and that it can be made to work if it is used with vigour.
§ Then the question is asked: is it enough? No, it is not enough. I should be out of order if I were to state now the other things which are necessary to make the Bill succeed, but I have never pretended that legislation on its own will solve this very great problem with which everyone in the House is faced. There are, clearly, other measures which are necessary, but to which I will not now refer.
§ Therefore, in commending the Bill to the House for Third Reading, I appeal, as strongly as I can, to every Member in the House, no matter where he may sit, to allow it to go forward. I believe that the arguments which have been put against it, sincerely held though they are, are not sufficiently strong to justify the House in being divided on a fundamental issue of human principle and human equality like this. For the sake of the House, for the sake of the country, for the sake of the 50 million of our own people in this country as well as the million immigrants we have here, the coloured citizens we have living here, for the sake of all of us, I beg right hon. and hon. Members to give the Bill an unopposed Third Reading.
§ Question put, That the Bill be now read the Third time: —
§ The House divided: Ayes 182, Noes 44.483
|Division No. 274.]||AYES||[4.42 a.m.|
|Abse, Leo||Baxter, William||Brown, R. W. (Shoreditch &F'bury)|
|Allaum, Frank (Salford, E.)||Bidwell, Sydney||Buchan, Norman|
|Alldritt, Walter||Blackburn, F.||Buchanan, Richard (G'gow, Sp'burn)|
|Anderson, Donald||Blenkinsop, Arthur||Callaghan, Rt. Hn. James|
|Archer, Peter||Booth, Albert||Cant, R. B.|
|Armstrong, Ernest||Boston, Terence||Carmichael, Neil|
|Atkins, Ronald (Preston, N.)||Bottomley, Rt. Hn. Arthur||Chapman, Donald|
|Atkinson, Norman (Tottenham)||Boyden, James||Coe, Denis|
|Bacon, Rt. Hn. Alice||Braddock, Mrs. E. M.||Coleman, Donald|
|Bagier, Gordon A. T.||Bray, Dr. Jeremy||Concannon, J. D.|
|Barnes, Michael||Brown, Hugh D. (G'gow, Provan)||Cullen, Mrs. Alice|
|Barnett, Joel||Brown,Bob(N'c'tle-upon-Tyne,W.)||Dalyell, Tam|
|Davidson, Arthur (Accrington)||Hughes, Rt. Hn. Cledwyn (Anglesey)||O'Malley, Brian|
|Davidson, James (Aberdeenshire,W.)||Hughes, Emrys (Ayrshire, S.)||Orbach, Maurice|
|Davies, G. Elfed (Rhondda, E.)||Hughes, Roy (Newport)||Orme, Slantey|
|Davies, Dr. Ernest (Stretford)||Hunter, Adam||Oswald, Thomas|
|Davies, Harold (Leek)||Jackson, Colin (B'h'se & Spenb'gh)||Palmer, Arthur|
|Davies, Ifor (Gower)||Janner, Sir Barnett||Parkyn, Brian (Bedford)|
|Dell, Edmund||Jay, Rt. Hn. Douglas||Peart, Rt. Hn. Fred|
|Dewar, Donald||Jeger,Mrs. Lena (H'b'n & St.P'cras,S.)||Pentland, Norman|
|Diamond, Rt. Hn. John||Jenkins, Hugh (Putney)||Rees, Merlyn|
|Dobson, Ray||Johnson, James (K'ston-on-Hull, W.)||Richard, Ivor|
|Dunnett, Jack||Johnston, Russell (Inverness)||Robinson, Rt. Hn. Kenneth (St.P 'c' as)|
|Dunwoody, Mrs. Cwyneth (Exeter)||Jones, Rt. Hn. Sir Elwyn (W.Ham,S.)||Robinson, W. O. J. (Walth'stow, E.)|
|Dunwoody, Dr. John (F'th & C'b'e)||Judd, Frank||Rose, Paul|
|Eadie, Alex||Kerr, Dr. David (W'worth, Central)||Ross, Rt. Hn. William|
|Edwards, William (Merioneth)||Lee, Rt. Hn. Frederick (Newton)||Ryan, John|
|Ellis, John||Lee, John (Reading)||Shaw, Arnold (llford, S.)|
|Ennals, David||Lestor, Miss Joan||Shore, Rt. Hn. Peter (Stepney)|
|Faulds, Andrew||Lewis, Ron (Carlisle)||Short, Mrs. Renée (W'hampton.N.E,)|
|Fernyhough, E.||Luard, Evan||Silkin, Rt. Hn. John (Deptford)|
|Fletcher, Raymond (llkeston)||Lubbock, Eric||Silverman, Julius|
|Fletcher, Ted (Darlington)||Lyon, Alexander W. (York)||Slater, Joseph|
|Foot, Rt. Hn. Sir Dingle (Ipswich)||Lyons, Edward (Bradford, E.)||Small, William|
|Foot, Michael (Ebbw Vale)||Mabon, Dr. J. Dickson||Spriggs, Leslie|
|Ford, Ben||McBride, Neil||Steel, David (Roxburgh)|
|Forrester, John||MacColl, James||Summerskill, Hn. Dr. Shirley|
|Fraser, John (Norwood)||Macdonald, A. H.||Swain, Thomas|
|Freeson, Reginald||McGuire, Michael||Taverne, Dick|
|Galpern, Sir Myer||Mackenzie, Alasdair(Ross &Crom'ty)||Thomson, Rt. Hn. George|
|Ginsburg, David||Mackenzie, Gregor (Rutherglen)||Urwin, T. W.|
|Gordon Walker, Rt. Hn. P. C.||Mackintosh, John P.||Varley, Eric G.|
|Greenwood, Rt. Hn. Anthony||Maclennan, Robert||Walker, Harold (Doncaster)|
|Grey, Charles (Durham)||McMillan, Tom (Glasgow, C.)||Watkins, David (Consett)|
|Griffiths, David (Rother Valley)||McNamara, J. Kevin||Weitzman, David|
|griffiths, Eddie (Brightside)||Mahon, Peter (Preston, S.)||Wellbeloved, James|
|Griffiths, Will (Exchange)||Mahon, Simon (Bootle)||Wells, William (Walsall, N.)|
|Hamilton, James (Bothwell)||Mallalieu, J.P.W.(Huddersfield,E.)||Whitaker, Ben|
|Hamling, William||Marks, Kenneth||White, Mrs. Eirene|
|Hannan, William||Marquand, David||Whitlock, William|
|Harper, Joseph||Mendelson, J. J.||Willey, Rt. Hn. Frederick|
|Harrison, Walter (Wakefield)||Mikardo, Ian||Williams, Alan Lee (Hornchurch)|
|Haseldine, Norman||Millan, Bruce||Williams, Clifford (Abertillery)|
|Hazell, Bert||Miller, Dr. M. S.||Wilson, William (Coventry, S.)|
|Heffer, Eric S.||Milne, Edward (Blyth)||Winnick, David|
|Hilton, W. S.||Mitchell, R. C. (S'th'pton, Test)||Winstanley, Dr. M. P.|
|Hooley, Frank||Molloy, William||Woof, Robert|
|Horner, John||Morgan, Elystan (Cardiganshire)||Yates, Victor|
|Howarth, Robert (Bolton, E.)||Morris, John (Aberavon)|
|Howell, Denis (Small Heath)||Moyle, Roland||TELLERS FOR THE AYES:|
|Howie, W.||Murray, Albert||Mr. Ernest G. Perry and|
|Hoy, James||Newens, Stan||Mr. Ioan L. Erans.|
|Allason, James (Hemel Hempstead)||Hall, John (Wycombe)||Pink, R. Bonner|
|Bennett, Sir Frederic (Torquay)||Hirst, Geoffrey||Powell, Rt. Hn. J. Enoch|
|Bitten, John||Hordern, Peter||Ridley, Hn. Nicholas|
|Biggs-Davison, John||Irvine, Bryant Godman (Rye)||Ridsdale, Julian|
|Boardman, Tom (Leicester, S.W.)||Jennings, J. C. (Burton)||Russell, Sir Ronald|
|Body, Richard||Kerby, Capt. Henry||Sandys, Rt. Hn. D.|
|Bullus, Sir Eric||Knight, Mrs. Jill||Taylor, Edward M.(C'gow,Cathcart)|
|Burden, F. A.||Longden, Gilbert||Teeling, Sir William|
|Campbell, B. (Oldham, West)||Maginnis, John E.||Walker-Smith, Rt. Hn. Sir Derek|
|Cordle, John||Maude, Angus||Wells, John (Maidstone)|
|Craddock, Sir Beresford (Spelthorne)||Mawby, Ray||Williams, Donald (Dudley)|
|Cunningham, Sir Knox||Maydon, Lt.-cmdr. S. L. C.||Woodnutt. Mark|
|Drayson, G. B.||Montgomery, Fergus|
|Errington, Sir Eric||Murton, Oscar||TELLERS FOR THE NOES:|
|Goodhart, Philip||Nabarro, Sir Gerald||Mr. Ronald Bell and|
|Goodhew, Victor||Neave, Airey||Mr. Harold Gurden.|
|Bill accordingly read the Third time, and passed.|