§ Mr. Ronald Bell
I beg to move Amendment No. 6, in page 14, line 22, leave out 'or not'.
The side note to Clause 20 refers to:Discrimination in provision of goods, facilities or services.It is the first clause in a fascicle dealing with goods, facilities, services and premises. It states in subsection (1):It is unlawful for any person concerned with the provision (for payment or not) of goods, facilities or services to the public or a section of the public to discriminate against a person who seeks to obtain or use those goods, facilities or services—".Paragraphs (a) and (b) of subsection (1) set out the methods whereby a person would be deemed to have discriminated in the provision of goods, facilities or services. They state:
- "(a) by refusing or deliberately omitting to provide him with any of them; or
- (b) by refusing or deliberately omitting to provide him with goods, facilities or services of the like quality, in the like manner and on the like terms as are normal in the first-mentioned person's case in relation to other members of the public or (where the person so seeking belongs to a section of the public) to other members of that section."
§ Mr. John Page
After my hon. And learned friend made his quick dash from being a Teller in the last Division to move this amendment, he mentioned the word "premises". Do "premises" come under "facilities", or was there a natural slip of the tongue by my hon. and learned Friend?
§ Mr. Bell
I was relieved to hear the nature of that intervention. When my hon. Friend said that I dashed from being a Teller to moving an amendment, I thought I was about to be told that I had moved the wrong amendment. Fortunately, it was nothing as drastic.
What I said was that Clause 20 was the first clause in a fascicle—which means a little bundle—of clauses which are headedGoods, facilities, services and premises.If my hon. Friend will look at subsection (2) of the clause, although it is true that "premises" are not mentioned in the first part, he will see the wordsThe following are examples of the facilities and services mentioned in subsection (1).There my hon. Friend will see that "access" is mentioned, andaccommodation in a hotel, boarding house or other similar establishmentand so on. So the answer is "Yes". However, although the first subsection does not mention premises, in practice it 1835 covers them because "facilities" apparently includes "premises".
§ Mr. Bell
Clause 21 concerns discrimination in disposal or management of premises, but my amendment relates to Clause 20. My hon. Friend the Member for Harrow, West (Mr. Page) asked whether the clause with which I am dealing related to premises. It does, but not in the way in which Clause 21 does. It relates in general to the provision of goods, facilities or services to the public or a section of the public, and "facilities" includes "premises" because subsection (2) says so. That is different from Clause 21, because here we are dealing with access or accommodation.
The particular point of the amendment is to leave out the words "or not" in the brackets which contain the words "for payment or not". As the brackets govern the whole of subsection (1) and as the rest of the clause is derivative from subsection (1), the words in the brackets govern the whole operation of the clause.
The effect of removing the words "or not" is that the relevant lines would readIt is unlawful for any person concerned with the provision (for payment) of goods, facilities or services to the public".and so on. In other words, the part of the Bill relating to goods, facilities and services would relate only to people who provide them for payment. Someone who was providing goods, facilities or services not for payment would not be affected by the Bill. It is a little difficult to think of anything much to say, because what one is puzzled by is how anyone could think that the Bill should apply to people who were providing these things without payment, gratuitously as it were.
Let us take one of the examples given at the foot of the page—"facilities for education". When one thinks of someone who is, for example, a retired university teacher who merely as a volunteer invites people to listen to him lecturing on some subject on which he is an expert, not being paid for it, it seems a little hard to understand why he should be subject to this rigorous prescription.
I do not approve of the policy of the Bill, but I can understand those who want 1836 to apply it to commercial operations. Why apply it to people who are not in commercial operation but are acting gratuitously and voluntarily? I cannot remember offhand whether there is a similar provision in the Sex Discrimination Act. Suppose that the retired university professor did not like teaching women and invited young men from a neighbouring university to his home to give them instruction. Why should he not do so? He would not be charging for his instruction. Similarly, why should not someone in that capacity say that he wants only native British people? He is not charging, he is not discharging a public function, and I cannot see why the provisions of the Bill should apply to him.
Education is mentioned in the clause and that is why I mention those examples. There are others. If someone is willing to offer a loan free of interest, why should he be subject to the provisions of the Bill? The clause contains the words "(for payment or not)". I am proposing to leave out those words and confine the application of the clause to those who are not volunteers.
The amendment applies to the provision of any kind of services. It is more difficult to imagine the provision of goods not for payment. Retired people might provide refreshments free of charge in a remote part of the country. I cannot see why they should not be at liberty to refuse to supply someone. There are probably multifarious examples of services being supplied free of payment. There is a vast amount of unpaid activity in the community, and the provisions of the Bill should not be applied to it.
I suspect that the Minister will say that there is gratuitous provision that is comparable to paid provision and that people might prefer not to be paid so that they would be able to discriminate on grounds of race or colour. My answer to that is that it is surely their business. The moment they go out of the sphere of payment, they leave commercial operation and enter into the private side of life. They should be entitled to do what they want to do.
There are to my knowledge many people in the community who do not take the same general view of these matters as do the Government Front Bench. There are people who wish to confine 1837 their social activities to members of the indigenous community, and they are perfectly entitled to do so. Indeed, in the purely social aspects of life no one has yet suggested that they should not be free to do so. If one is giving a tennis party, one can invite whom one likes. I begin to wonder, however, whether that is not confined to one's home, although presumably if one hired courts for the purpose it could be said that it was not being provided for members of the public, so I suppose there would be an escape that way.
There must be many cases where people offer services gratuitously—for example, refreshment in some remote area offered by people who still want to retain a veto. Why should they not do so? They are offering a service to a section of the public. That phrase "section of the public" is becoming very recondite. There has been litigation up to the House of Lords. When the meaning of "section of the public" was in relation to clubs, the advice I gave in a professional capacity was cast aside by the Court of Appeal but sustained by the House of Lords. The whole meaning of the expression is doubtful, as is shown by the fact that the Court of Appeal gave it one meaning and the House of Lords gave it another.
§ Mr. Nicholas Winterton
I am fascinated by my hon. and learned Friend's case. Will he direct his attention to the many thousands of people who give voluntary services unpaid within the social services, perhaps reading to the blind or visiting elderly people? My understanding is that it would be an offence if they showed any sort of discrimination.
§ Mr. Bell
My hon. Friend has provided a very good example. I was casting around for examples on the spur of the moment. The example he has suggested clearly falls cleanly into the category to which I am referring, and it seems to that someone engaging in such voluntary work should be entitled to decide within what scope he or she will render that service. The extraordinary thing is, however, that if such a person wanted to go into an occupation where there was a body which had to consider good character, such an exercise of judgment would stamp him or her statutorily as a person 1838 of bad character. That is the way the Bill will work unless the amendment is accepted.
If my amendment is accepted, a person doing voluntary work and rendering services gratuituously to a section of the public would be free to have views which are not those of the Home Secretary, and not the views of Hampstead, Holland Park or wherever these views derive from. Somebody could hold views, live according to them and not be stigmatised as a racialist—
§ Mr. Bidwell
If the hon. and learned Gentleman held a cricket party, it might well be a better assembly if he had a few West Indians there. It might enrich his life. But it would be obnoxious to to say that no blacks need apply. That is what the Bill is about.
§ Mr. Bell
I have not heard a better jumble of rubbish than that. I am not talking about a cricket party, with or without West Indians, or whether it would be better or worse if they were there. That has nothing to do with the amendment. As for enriching my life, that is a very important subject indeed which the House could well debate on another occasion.
§ Mr. Bell
I have forgotten the rest of the intervention by the hon. Member for Ealing, Southall (Mr. Bidwell), but I am sure it was for the best. He has not enriched my life either on this occasion or on previous occasions.
I hope I shall not be thought unappreciative if I now return to the amendment. I think I was saying that it was not altogether easy for me to think of examples of gratuitous service with the element of generality necessary to enable them to fall within the definition of providing services to the public or a section of the public, but plainly such examples exist on a considerable scale. However, rather than make provision for them in the Bill my view is that nothing should 1839 be done about them. Those who wish to pick and choose should be free to do so.
If the intervention by the hon. Member for Southall meant anything, I think it was that people should not be free to pick and choose even in these uncommercial aspects of their lives. This is a matter of opinion. It is surely for them to decide what enriches their lives. It is not for the hon. Member for Southall, it is not for the Home Office and indeed, with respect, it is not for Parliament to decide.
Although I am committed for the time being by the principle of the Bill to conceding a supply of goods and services in relation to payment, I am not, of course, forced to concede it in relation to voluntary service. I moved the amendment believing that it would be a considerable relief to people who would be quite oppressively affected by the clause if these words were not omitted from it.
§ Mr. Stokes
I am glad, once again, to support the amendment so ably and interestingly moved by my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Beaconsfield (Mr. Bell). Perhaps I may interpose and say that his contributions to our debates during this long night have been notable. I am sure that if the Press, as I hope they do, report what my hon. and learned Friend has said that his views will be re-echoed by millions of people throughout the country.
§ Mr. Flannery
Having listened to the views of hon. Gentlemen opposite the point I am making is that they will be absolutely welcomed by the most wretched elements in our society, in particular, by the National Front, for the sheer racialism which we have been subjected to throughout this long night by hon. Gentlemen opposite.
§ Mr. Stokes
I am not clear from that rather rude and intemperate interjection whether the hon. Gentleman was referring to me personally—I have said only two sentences—or whether he was referring to my colleagues. But in whichever capacity the hon. Gentleman was speaking—he claims to be an educated man who 1840 was once a deputy headmaster—it was a very rude and offensive intervention.
If I may return to the amendment, the purpose of the amendment is to attempt to reduce the size and scope of this clause, which covers not only trade and what, I suppose, one could call ordinary commercial transactions. If the words are not omitted, it would also include voluntary organisations for which no payment is demanded, and presumably it would also cover all forms of charitable activities.
It is well known that, with certain notable exceptions, most hon. Members on the Government side of the House prefer as many activities as possible to be channelled through the State and to be State financed, State controlled and State organised. But those of us whose knowledge of history is perhaps longer than some hon. Members opposite, will know that many of the great movements of this country have been voluntary ones, not State ones, and that in trade and industry many great inventions—in fact nearly all the great inventions—have been achieved by private enterprise and not by bodies such as the NEB or, for heaven's sake, the nationalised industries.
I hope that when I hear the Minister sum up later that I am wrong, but I fear that the addition of the two words "or not" are all-embracing. They will embrace public and private life. They are nothing less than an attack on the voluntary spirit which has been the glory of this country for so long. I also fear that the clause, as at present drafted, is another attack on privacy and on private life and on what we do with our own lives. Some of us choose to spend some or our time doing voluntary work which is entirely unsupervised, separate from and independent of any Government agency or activity.
I fear that the clause is typical of the Government's desire to interfere in every possible sphere. Discrimination itself is a highly personal matter. We all discriminate every day in almost very action. So that alone offends privacy. In trade, the provision of goods and service and voluntary activity, the Government have to stick their finger in. This clause is law-making gone mad. Or perhaps it is the result of the fact that parliamentary 1841 draftsmen, in every Department, regrettably, have so many Bills, that they decide to get the maximum out of each one.
The clause is another abuse of freedom and privacy. We have heard of the thin end of the wedge. This clause is the thick end of the wedge. In 14 hours' debate the Government have made no concessions. They have been absolutely inflexible. Their minds appear to have been completely closed to the constructive suggestions that we have made. This is an opportunity, without damage to the main fabric of the Bill, to agree to a small but important amendment affecting the liberty and private lives of thousands of citizens.
§ Mr. Powell
At first sight the amendment might appear of small importance, but the more it is studied the more it will be found to disclose an important division and distinction in the whole subject of discrimination. Most hon. Members would acknowledge that those who hold themselves out to trade with the public, to offer services, facilities and goods for sale, thereby accept the case in principle for some public regulation of the manner in which they conduct their trade.
We might argue case by case what forms of regulation were necessary and justified, but there is something in the nature of the activity of holding oneself out to provide, for payment, goods, services and facilities to the public which is not only consistent with public regulation by law but may in certain cases positively attract it.
I have made no secret of the fact that I believe that in principle the whole of this legislation is perverse. Nevertheless, there is an important distinction between applying it to those who are offering goods and so on by way of trade and those who are doing so for no remuneration or payment. We are there in the scope of the biblical phrase:Shall I not do what I will with mine own?I would certainly not be disposed to treat many of the parables of the Gospel as intended to be directly applicable to ordinary, still less to economic, life. Whereas, in the case of the parable of the lord of the vineyard which I have quoted, the reference is clearly not to relationships between human beings but 1842 to the relationship of God the Father with the children of men, I do not seek to draw a direct deduction from the text to public behaviour.
Still the phrase is there:Shall I not do what I will with mine own?When the law undertakes the interfering with what a person is doing of his own accord, with his own goods, without payment or remuneration, not by way of trade, not entering into any kind of an actual or imputed contract with any other person, we have moved into an entirely different sphere.
The consequences of bringing the law to bear and applying the whole machinery of investigation and the rest of it which is set up by the Bill, are a degree more serious than in the context of trade. I find little difficulty in imagining quite a number of cases which might fall within the ambit of this subsection if the words "or not" remain part of it. There may, for example, be persons, horticulturists or farmers, who, faced with a glut of some kind of produce, think it proper, and choose, to distribute the surplus which they have not profitably disposed of, by giving it to members of the public who may pass the gate or who may, by invitation, call to collect the goods thus offered.
Or again, there are undoubtedly persons who, at their own expense, for purposes which they think good, distribute informative works, or what they may regard as informative works, such as books or pamphlets, generally to members of the public. These are cases which are perfectly practicable and could easily happen. It is not an abstract case to which my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Beasonsfield (Mr. Bell) was addressing himself.
I can understand that from the point of view of some it might appear offensive and objectionable that a person distributing his own goods gratis to the public should take it upon himself to discriminate between one member of the public and another. It may be that we in this place would not choose to do that. But that is not the question. The question is whether we are justified, even given the presumptions of this legislation, in applying this measure in that sphere where there is no implied contract with the public—no trade—and where a person is 1843 acting entirely voluntarily in the disposition freely of his own goods, time or services. I think that those strictures which my hon. and learned Friend has two or three times in the sitting made upon the whole principle of anti-discriminatory legislation are brought into specially sharp focus in this case.
Here, above all, we are arrogating not only to ourselves but to the State the right to examine and penalise not merely the acts generally of the citizen but the actions of the citizen when he is disposing freely of his own goods and time.
§ Mr. Flannery
Can the right hon. Gentleman conceive of a situation where a voluntary worker taking books round a hospital on a trolley did not like the colour of the person who was sick in a particular hospital and deliberately passed by that person because of that personal dislike? Is the right hon. Gentleman saying that that kind of thing should be accepted and permitted in the civilised society in which, I take it, he and I are agreed we live?
§ Mr. Powell
I should be very surprised if the case adumbrated by the hon. Member for Sheffield, Hillsborough (Mr. Flannery) would fall within this clause. In my view in those circumstances it would be the hospital or organisation which was providing facilities. The regulations of the hospital or the organisation would govern its behaviour.
But I shall go further to meet the hon. Member for Sheffield, Hillsborough (Mr. Flannery). I say that I personally would find it objectionable if in any one of the cases that I cited a person who was distributing his own goods deliberately refused that offer of goods to a coloured person. I tell the hon. Gentleman that I would find that objectionable. I would not like it and I would prefer that it was not done.
The question is whether it is better or not that he and I should insist upon our standards, our likes and dislikes, our judgment being imposed by law and by the machinery of the Bill, not upon a person who is trading—because that is a different matter—but upon a person who is freely disposing of his own goods.
I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman because his dialogue, applied to the two words which the amendment proposes to 1844 leave out, highlights the nature of the legislation. Indeed, it highlights it in the extreme case, because it is an extreme case of legislative intervention. We must ask ourselves, agreeing that we would not behave in that way and that we do not like the notion of people behaving in that way, whether it is on balance conducive to good relations between members of the public, whether it is on balance conducive to respect for the law, that the elaborate machinery of the legislation should be applied in such cases.
§ Mr. Nicholas Winterton
Further to the example quoted by the hon. Member for Sheffield, Hillsborough (Mr. Flannery), is not the answer to that sad and tragic case, which we would not like to see happen, that the district hospital administrator would ask the voluntary organisation to replace that person doing that job in the hospital?
§ Mr. Powell
I am sure that that would happen.
I turn to the type of case to which the clause would apply with the words "or not". All of us in the debate are faced with the question, "Are we going to impose by the machinery of the law, our judgment—not merely our taste—of what would be proper behaviour upon persons who are merely engaged in disposing gratis, at their own discretion, for their own reasons, of their own goods and time"? If we say "Yes" in answer to that challenge, we are carried far indeed, and the scope of the law, of the State, will receive an extension which is virtually unlimited.
We may still, whatever might be our respective opinion of the importance or usefulness of law, accept more legislation than I am disposed to accept. We might differ in that. But even given that difference, we would have to decide whether on balance good or harm would be done by the introduction of that law. That is the question. My judgment is that we would be well advised—if we are to have this legislation at all—to stop short of the voluntary and gratuitous activity of individual members of the public.
§ 5.15 a.m.
§ Mr. Nicholas Winterton
It is always a great pleasure to follow my right hon. Friend the Member for Down, South (Mr. 1845 Powell). I do not pretend that I can emulate his ability to use Biblical references.
It will be clear from my earlier intervention that my main concern is voluntary organisations and individuals who give their services to the public free of charge. Personal and intimate relationships are excluded from all race relations legislation to date, but the Minister may indicate that worse may be to come for this country in the brave new world of artificially-enforced behaviour. Perhaps that has already been indicated in the White Paper on racial discrimination, which declared on page 15:exceptions may need to be modified in the light of experience".That is a threatening phrase which fills me with deep suspicion.
In dealing with the categories that I believe will be adversely affected by the Bill, I speak as someone who is closely involved with voluntary organisations such as youth clubs, community centres and the councils for voluntary services. Within such bodies tens of thousands of people give their time voluntarily for the benefit of the public. I have referred to those who read to the blind, a service often provided by councils for voluntary service and similar organisations. The people concerned will surely be allowed to choose those to whom they provide the service and will not be instructed to go to this person or that person. If they do not care to go to someone who is yellow, black or white, or who is handicapped, are they to be affected by the legislation?
Voluntary organisations provide a car service to transport elderly people to their specialist day-care accommodation and social gatherings. Are the people involved likely to be affected?
What about those within the youth and community service who are providing their services free, perhaps to teach a group of young people an art, science, game or sport? If they do not care to do that for someone of a particular colour, creed and ethnic group, are they to be discriminated against by the legislation?
§ Mr. Winterton
The exclusion of personal and intimate relationships must 1846 cover those who give their services voluntarily. Those people should not be restricted by State legislation affecting the sort of people to whom they can offer their services. Perhaps I would not choose to eat or drink with the hon. Gentleman.
§ Mr. Winterton
The hon. Gentleman is showing discrimination, but because we are both white there is no problem. However, if the hon. Gentleman happened to be coloured, or if I were coloured, it would be a crime under this legislation. That demonstrates that this legislation is farcical.
I say with all sincerity that a tremendous service is provided for the deserving, the deprived and the elderly by those acting in a voluntary capacity. They represent a huge wealth of talent. They give freely of their time, service, experience and qualifications. Surely we do not wish to see them put off or restricted in the work that they are so willing to do by being subject to this pernicious legislation. I cannot feel that the Government really wish that to happen.
If the Government do not wish many people to be driven out of voluntary service, they will not resist the amendment that has been capably and eloquently moved by my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Beaconsfield (Mr. Bell). It is a simple amendment, but perhaps it is relatively profound, as the right hon. Member for Down, South has indicated. It separates those who perhaps would expect to have some legislative restriction on what they are doing because they are entering into commercial or trading transactions from those who provide their service, experience and time voluntarily. Surely it would be wrong for those who undertake voluntary work to be affected by this legislation.
It could have grave consequences for the hundreds of thousands of individuals and the hundreds of voluntary bodies that do tremendous voluntary work if they were brought within this legislation. It would cost the Exchequer perhaps hundreds of millions of pounds, perhaps even thousands of millions of pounds, to 1847 provide the services that are now provided at no cost by means of paid employees. Having been involved in the provision of various services for some years, I know from the people I have met who benefit from them that in the main it is the services that are provided by those who undertake them voluntarily that they most appreciate.
I hope that my remarks will be considered sympathetically. It has already been said that not one concession has been made by the Government on this important Bill. I think that they could show willing. They could show responsibility by realising—I admit that I have said that I do not wish this measure ever to reach the statute book—that the Bill has had a Second Reading and that it is now our duty to improve it. I believe that the removal of the two words from the clause will be of considerable benefit to the Bill. I ask the Government to look sympathetically at the amendment, and to consider in another place, if not now, making arrangements for the two words to be removed.
§ Mr. John Page
I agree with what has been said in support of the amendment. My hon. and learned Friend the Member for Beaconsfield (Mr. Bell) said that there was a difference between services given free and those for which payment is made or things undertaken in the course of trade. There is a danger—admittedly far-fetched at the moment—that because of legislation of this kind people may feel afraid to offer their services. That could happen once these attitudes spread. Therefore, my hon. and learned Friend, who is my Member of Parliament, has done a great service in pinpointing this small but important difference.
I wish to ask the Minister two questions. I was not on the Standing Committee, and if these matters were raised and answered in Committee I apologise for raising them again now. First, there is in North-West London a large Jewish community. They are admirable, responsible, thoughtful and extremely publicly-spirited people. It is the experience of many colleagues that very few Jewish or Asian constituents coming to see us in our interview rooms with personal family problems. Therefore, I wish to ask whether the Jewish com- 1848 munity is considered a religious group which is not included in the Bill or whether it is considered as an ethnic group covered by the Bill.
I believe that the Jewish community has by practice come to be known as an ethnic group. Therefore, it is important that the position of the Jewish community, its charities, hospitals and so on, should be carefully spelt out. If the Jewish community is to be considered an ethnic group, it would probably be improper for a Jewish hospital or a Jewish convalescent home to admit only Jewish people. That matter should be carefully considered.
Secondly, I am responsible for the choice of scholarship at a school which is basically a Church of England school. If the Minister says that the Jews are an ethnic group, I suppose it would be unlawful if a Jewish parent applied for his child to receive such a scholarship and it had to be refused on those grounds. That could easily happen. It is less material in connection with another school which is for the orphan sons of members of the Armed Services. Although possibly an application could come from an ex-Indian army widow for the inclusion of her child's name, the applicant would have to be a Jew to become a recipient of the scholarship. Will the Minister say whether adoption of any form is covered by the Bill?
Is an adoption society included in subsection (2)? There could be a danger for an adoption society which might deal with coloured children differently from white children. But if this point is covered, I will not labour it.
It is important that the whole of this Bill should not be considered as providing facilities or protection for the minorities only. I hope that this will be constantly emphasised. However, if that is the case, is it lawful for voluntary services under this provision to be given to immigrants only? If there is an advice bureau for immigrants only, is this not discriminating against the local community? This is a serious problem. If an advice bureau for immigrants were considered unlawful, that would mean that any members of the native polulation should be able to go there as well to get advice. That point should be made clear.
1849 I hope that the Minister will answer these specific questions—I am particularly anxious to have an explanation of the position of the Jewish community.
§ Mr. Tebbit
I find this clause, as it is drawn at present, most odious. It strikes me as being a perfectly natural and normal thing for a man to decide to give away part of his property as an act of charity on a continuing basis, perhaps as a service or as goods without charge. It is odious that the law should intervene and tell him to whom he may or may not give his goods.
It is particularly extraordinary that it will not be an offence—and nor it should be—for someone to refuse to accept such services on the ground that they find the race, colour or origin of the giver objectionable. But the giver may not object to the recipient, in any way, on grounds of race, colour, origin and all the other bits and pieces under the Bill.
It seems extraordinary that one can refuse to give goods, facilities, or services to people on the grounds that they are one-eyed, one-legged, of particularly low intelligence, or particularly high intelligence, or any other respect except those related to their ethnic origin, nationality, or other mumbo-jumbo words in the beginning of the Bill.
Even worse, there are ample opportunities for finding ways to be even more insulting to members of other communities while avoiding, in some circumstances, certain aspects of the Bill. My hon. Friend the Member for Harrow, West (Mr. Page) mentioned the Jewish community. I hope that no one will accuse me of being prejudiced against that community. I fancy that the hon. Member for Smethwick (Mr. Faulds) would probably chastise me for not being sufficiently prejudiced against them. It is possible so to construct the way in which one's goods are given away as to be so offensive to members of a community—for example, the Jewish community—that in no circumstances could they dream of accepting them. It seems that they would be lawful but that to say one will not give them to Jewish people will be unlawful.
I regard that as a most unpleasant and unwise way of conducting one's affairs. 1850 But the world is full of unwise and unpleasant people, and many of them behave in a way of which we would not approve. But if we are to decide that merely on those grounds we shall legislate to compel them to do particular things in particular ways, that will probably cause those people to become even more unpleasant and anti-social in their behaviour.
After all, should we not rejoice if someone is willing to cook meals and distribute them to at least a part of the population, even if they will not distribute them to the whole of the population in their area? Have we now become so priggish and prejudiced that we insist that a person must be wholly good by our standards and not just partially good? If we continue down that road we shall find that those who might otherwise give money, goods or services in a charitable way to some people, if not others, will finish giving them to no one and retreating into a rather less charitable and generous way of conducting their affairs.
§ Mr. Nicholas Winterton
My hon. Friend mentioned earlier that a voluntary worker might not be willing to provide a service for disabled people perhaps because the service was visually unpleasant. Will he consider the case where someone providing free transport to people is unwilling to give a lift to a particular person—it may or may not be a coloured person—because of strong body odour which makes him feel ill? This has happened. Such cases have come to my attention.
§ Mr. Tebbit
I would prefer not to give too much consideration to the point. Rather would I consider the case of someone who might not mind taking people to hospital in his car if they have broken limbs, but will not take the mentally ill, a mongol child or a child with polio. That would be extremely regrettable, but I would not regard it as a matter for legislation. These are areas in which the State has no business to make laws. After all, it is only recently that this House has liberalised many areas of human conduct, so that those which were unlawful not long ago are now lawful. We did so broadly on the basis that it is not for the State to adjudicate on questions of morality.
1851 Here we are adjudicating on these very same questions. Suppose a person said he would distribute his goods, chattels or services to anyone who came along—except a homosexual. The law might prohibit that action in future, but it rightly does not prohibit it now. That area of conduct has been freed from restriction by the law in recent years. Here we are going in precisely the opposite direction.
I presume that one could refuse to carry a homosexual black man in one's car while agreeing to carry what one would refer to as a normal person. Yet one could not refuse to carry a person because he was black, German or Jewish.
The hon. Member for Ealing, Southall (Mr. Bidwell) is muttering. If he thinks that the areas covered by the Bill are proper matters for legislation, he must consider whether he should not go further still, into some of the areas I have just described. Why is it proper to discriminate against homosexuals or people who are mentally ill, but not proper, in law, to discriminate against somebody of a different race?
I regard discrimination solely on grounds of race as unpleasant and I would not want to be part of it. But it becomes increasingly difficult to decide—when dealing with broad categories which overlap in many ways—whether a person is discriminating on grounds of race or on other grounds.
It has been conceded that there should be no element of discrimination in many commercial transactions. I agree that it would be improper to discriminate against a West Indian in the granting of motor insurance because he was a West Indian. However, if it were shown that West Indians had more accidents than Sikhs, I should not think it wrong for a motor insurer to charge a West Indian client a higher premium. He would be discriminating on grounds of experience and not of race. If one community had habits that a person found objectionable, it would not be wrong for him to say, for instance, that he would give none of them a lift in his car, though he would carry the members of other communities.
We are blundering around in size 14 legislative boots all over the private lives of people, without any consideration of why they act the way they do or why we 1852 should prohibit them from so acting. It is bad enough in commercial transactions, but we are going too far when we legislate on how people may dispose of their goods in a charitable fashion. If the Bill is to go on the statute book, at least we might make this further small improvement by the amendment.
§ 5.45 a.m.
The Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department (Dr. Shirley Summers-kill)
The hon. and learned Member for Beaconsfield (Mr. Bell) may recall that he attempted to make a similar amendment to this to Clause 2 of the Race Relations Bill in 1968. He tabled that amendment. It was moved by the right hon. and learned Member for Huntingdonshire (Sir D. Renton) and then withdrawn, so he was not totally persistent.
§ Mr. Ronald Bell
That shows the folly of allowing one's hon. Friends to move amendments when one cannot rely on them to persist.
§ Dr. Summerskill
There is no more reason why the House should accept that amendment today than there was in 1968.
§ Dr. Summerskill
My right hon. Friend who is now Secretary of State for Social Services pointed out at that time that there was—as there is now—a wide variety of facilities and services which were provided to the public free of charge and which there was no reason then to exclude from the scope of the Bill. There is no more reason now to exclude them. In fact, the arguments against the amendment are today stronger than they were in 1968 by reason of the fact that Section 2 of the 1968 Act, which makes it unlawful to discriminate in the provision "whether for payment or otherwise" of goods, facilities and services to the public or a section of the public, has been on the statute book for nearly eight years. To take now the deliberate step of excepting the provision without charge of goods, facilities and services from generally strengthened legislation would be an indication that Parliament regards such discrimination as in some way right or justifiable.
The proposers of the amendment seem to overlook—perhaps they did not overlook this—the wide range of facilities that the public are using and enjoying where 1853 there is no direct, on-the-spot payment. Perhaps I may mention the whole facilities of the housing departments and the opportunity for people to register their complaints, and the whole facilities offered by local authorities in an advisory or information service capacity.
§ Dr. Summerskill
They are used by people who are not necessarily paying rates in the area of the particular park or recreation ground. They may be paying rates somewhere else, but there is no direct payment. There are also library facilities and public gardens. A wide variety of facilities is available for which there is no direct payment.
§ Dr. Summerskill
That is not the only argument that I shall be advancing, but it is one of them.
As the Bill says, these aregoods, facilities or services to the public or a section of the public".These are available. In fact, the Bill gives as an example,facilities for entertainment, recreation or refreshmentandaccess to and use of any place which members of the public are permitted to enter.Therefore, it is only right to consider the places I have mentioned as falling into those examples, where there is no direct, on-the-spot payment. Perhaps a person has paid rates in Scotland. He can still come to London and sit in a park which is paid for by the rates of Londoners.
§ Mr. Tebbit
If that is the area in which the hon. Lady is concerned, why is the clause not drawn more tightly? Please do not tell me that it was in an 1854 earlier Act. Before the 1968 Act, how many complaints were made of people being refused admission to public parks on the ground of race, ethnic origin or nationality?
§ Dr. Summerskill
I cannot give the figures for which the hon. Gentleman asks. That does not mean that we cannot put in the Bill a wide-ranging clause to make it unlawful to discriminate. That is the difference between the Government and hon. Members who have spoken. We want Clause 29 to be a wide-ranging clause. The supporters of the amendment admitted that they wanted to reduce the scope of the Bill. There is a complete difference of principle between us.
It was argued that the freedom of people who do voluntary work should not be interfered with. The Government feel that discrimination is wrong, whether or not the provision of the facility or service is paid for. Opposition Members agree that discrimination is wrong if a person is being paid. We want to make sure that discrimination is wrong if a person is not being paid. We see no distinction between the two.
Let me take an example. Surely there is no distinction between a discotheque provided by a voluntary body and a discotheque provided by a commercial undertaking which makes a charge? It is equally wrong to discriminate on grounds of race between people who want to enjoy those facilities. I could give many other examples. There is a clear difference of principle here.
I was asked about the homes and other facilities specifically provided for Jewish people. The provision of services which are restricted to individual racial groups would be unlawful under Clause 20, but Clause 35 provides an exception specifically to cover racial groups which have special needs, for instance in education or welfare, which can be covered only by special provision.
The supporters of the amendment believe that, if there is to be legislation, its scope should not extend beyond transactions by way of profit. The Government believe that, as under the 1968 Act, all transactions involving the public should be covered and, further that all facilities and goods and services available to the public, whether or not for 1855 payment, should be covered. That is the clear division of principle.
§ Mr. Nicholas Winterton
My understanding is that personal relationships have not been included in any race relations legislation. Is there a change in Government policy? A great deal of voluntary work is on a personal relationship basis.
§ Dr. Summerskill
Presumably what the hon. Gentleman means is a one-to-one relationship. The clause refers to theprovision … of goods, facilities or services to the public or a section of the public".That is where the type of relationship is defined in the clause. I ask my right hon. and hon. Friends to oppose the amendment.
|Division No. 228.]||AYES||[5.56 a.m.|
|Bell, Ronald||Fraser, Rt Hon H. (Stafford & St)|
|Bennett, Sir Frederic (Torbay)||Powell, Rt Hon J. Enoch||TELLERS FOR THE AYES:|
|Biffen, John||Stokes, John||Mr John Page and|
|Boscawen, Hon Robert||Tebbit, Norman||Mr Ivor Stanbrook.|
|Budgen, Nick||Winterton, Nicholas|
|Anderson, Donald||Harrison, Walter (Wakefield)||Robinson, Geoffrey|
|Atkinson, Norman||Hayman, Mrs Helene||Roderick, Caerwyn|
|Bean, R. E.||Hooley, Frank||Rodgers, William (Stockton)|
|Bidwell, Sydney||Jenkins, Rt Hon Roy (Stechford)||Short, Mrs Renée (Wolv NE)|
|Blenkinsop, Arthur||John, Brynmor||Silkin, Rt Hon S. C. (Dulwich)|
|Booth, Rt Hon Albert||Johnson, James (Hull West)||Skinner, Dennis|
|Callaghan, Jim (Middleton & P)||Judd, Frank||Snape, Peter|
|Cocks, Michael (Bristol S)||Kaufman, Gerald||Spearing, Nigel|
|Coleman, Donald||Kerr, Russell||Stoddart, David|
|Cook, Robin F. (Edin C)||Latham, Arthur (Paddington)||Summerskltl, Hon Dr Shirley|
|Corbett, Robin||Lestor, Miss Joan (Eton & Slough)||Thomas, Ron (Bristol NW)|
|Cox, Thomas (Tooting)||Lipton, Marcus||Tinn, James|
|Crowther, Stan (Rotherham)||Lyons, Edward (Bradford W)||Tomlinson, John|
|Cryer, Bob||McElhone, Frank||Walker, Harold (Doncaster)|
|Davidson, Arthur||MacFarquhar, Roderick||Walker, Terry (Kingswood)|
|Davis, Clinton (Hackney C)||Mackenzie, Gregor||Ward, Michael|
|Dormand, J. D.||Madden, Max||Watkinson, John|
|Eadie, Alex||Miller, Dr M. S. (E Kilbride)||White, Frank R. (Bury)|
|Ellis, John (Brigg & Scun)||Miller, Mrs Millie (Ilford N)||Whitehead, Phillip|
|Faulds, Andrew||Morris, Alfred (Wythenshawe)||Willey, Rt Hon Frederick|
|Flannery, Martin||Newens, Stanley||Wise, Mrs Audrey|
|Foot, Rt Hon Michael||O'Halloran, Michael||Wrigglesworth, Ian|
|George, Bruce||Palmer, Arthur||Young, David (Bolton E)|
|Graham, Ted||Pavitt, Laurie|
|Grant, John (Islington C)||Pendry, Tom||TELLERS FOR THE NOES:|
|Grocott, Bruce||Radice, Glies||Mr A W Stallard and|
|Hamilton, James (Bothwell)||Rees, Rt Hon Merlyn (Leeds S)||Mr Alf Bates.|
§ Question accordingly negatived.