HC Deb 27 July 1977 vol 936 cc719-41

The Lords agree to the amendment made by the Commons in

After Clause 47

Page 37, line 12, at end insert new clause: Where any person has been arrested, other than under the Prevention of Terrorism Act 1976, and is being held in custody in a police station or other premises, he shall be entitled to have intimation of his arrest and of the place where he is being held sent to a person of his choosing.

with the following amendments:

No. 16, leave out other than under the Prevention of Terrorism Act 1976". No. 17, leave out a person of his choosing and insert one person reasonably named by him, without delay or, where some delay is necessary in the interest of the investigation or prevention of crime or the apprehension of offenders, with no more delay than is so necessary.

The Secretary of State for the Home Department (Mr. Merlyn Rees)

I beg to move, That this House doth agree with the Lords in Lords Amendment No. 16.

Mr. Deputy Speaker

With this we shall take Lords Amendment No. 17 and the proposed amendment to it standing in the name of the hon. Member for Lewisham, West (Mr. Price), in line 1, leave out from first 'delay' to end.

Mr. Rees

The clause which is the subject of these amendments was moved on Report by my hon. Friend the Member for Islington, South and Finsbury (Mr. Cunningham) and was added to the Bill against Government advice. I indicated then that while, in the Government's view, this was a matter which should be left to the Royal Commission on pre-trial procedures, I nevertheless recognised the strength of feeling in all parts of the House and wished to respond to it.

These amendments were moved by my noble Friend the Minister of State in another place. I believe that they preserve the spirit of the clause moved by my hon. Friend while removing the risk that it will add to the difficulties which the police already face in dealing with crime and in bringing offenders to justice.

7.30 p.m.

The amendments make four changes in the original clause. First, they remove the exception referring to persons arrested under the Prevention of Terrorism Act, so that the clause applies to such persons as well as to those arrested under other powers. I hope that this will be welcome, although I fully understand what my hon. Friend the Member for Islington, South and Finsbury was doing in the first instance. Secondly, it is proposed that the intimation should be sent "without delay". This is in response to the point made on Report and acknowledged by my hon. Friend—namely, that no requirement as to the urgency of the intimation was included in his original clause.

Thirdly, the intimation is to be sent to "one person reasonably named" by the arrested person. I shall briefly explain the concept which lies behind that phrase. The object is to avoid the embarrassing possibility of the police apparently being required by law to notify, for example, someone outside the categories that one would expect. In the way the clause is now worded, they would have to telephone anyone who was named. Surely that would be wrong. The person named might be a football player or a pop star. That would bring the provision into disrepute with the police and, I think, more generally.

I considered whether it would be possible to list the categories of person who might reasonably be named. I do not think that that can be done without drawing up a very long list. I think that right hon. and hon. Members will realise the sort of people who are concerned—for example, lawyers, community workers, Members of Parliament, neighbours or members of the family. Further guidance will be given in the circular to the police that the Home Office proposes to issue when the provision comes into force. When the circular is sent out I shall ensure that it is published in Hansard. That will meet a point that my hon. Friend felt very strongly about even before my time at the Home Office.

Mr. Carlisl

Presumably "reasonably named" covers a solicitor. Apparently we do not have to have the name of the person.

Mr. Rees

No; a solicitor. That is a matter that I shall consider before the circular is issued. There is a wide range of persons whom it would be appropriate for people to have the right to contact. I shall put those categories into the circular.

Fourth, the amendments have the effect of enabling the police to delay sending the intimation if that is necessary in the interest of the investigation, prevention of crime or the apprehension of offenders for so long as those considerations apply, but no longer. I fully understand that this is the most important of the changes effected by the amendments. It is necessary because an absolute and unqualified right of the kind proposed in my hon. Friend's original clause would impose a serious handicap on the police in dealing with crime.

In the vast majority of cases, there will be no reason for keeping a person in police custody incommunicado. However, in legislating we must cater not only for the general run of cases but for exceptional cases. The Association of Chief Police Officers felt very strongly about this issue. It contacted me and said that if the clause remained as it is worded it would mean that the fight of its members against crime would be made extremely difficult. I received representations from the Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis, who is from Scotland, where a different system is operated. The Commissioner feels that, if the clause remains as it stands, the job of his officers to combat crime in a number of important cases will be made extremely difficult.

I have a list of cases before me. I do not want to weary the House by reciting the complete list but I shall take one or two examples. Perhaps the House will take my word that there are other examples. The police could be dealing with a kidnapping case. They may have arrested one of the offenders without recovering the victim or being aware of his or her whereabouts. In such a case, premature information would be a mistake. We must balance civil liberties on the one hand with the need to deal with cases of that sort. Other examples are Customs cases and drug carrying. I feel sure that I am right, as it was right in another place, to table the amendment. There must be some delay in a number of cases, but I propose to make arrangements for monitoring the new provision.

First, I must ask Her Majesty's Chief Inspector of Constabulary—

Mr. Bruce Douglas-Mann (Mitcham and Morden)

I appreciate that the monitoring proposals to which my right hon. Friend has referred will be of some help, but is he aware that it is the practice of the police in many circumstances to refuse access to solicitors in trivial or minor cases? It is their practice to refuse to allow solicitors to interview those who have been held in a police station on the ground that to do so would delay or impede inquiries. The clause that we now have provides no real protection, because in every case where the police wish to have any reason to refuse they can always say that the provisions in the clause are applicable. Would it not have been possible and practicable for my right hon. Friend to have made provision for the police, in circumstances where they wish to refuse these rights, to make application to a magistrate? In the majority of cases of serious crime there will have been a warrant, but in other cases where there has been summary arrest the police could make an application to a magistrate.

Mr. Rees

In answer to my hon. Friend, I make one point that perhaps I should have made before developing my argument. In the declaratory clause it is still the case that the Judges Rules apply. The administrative direction still applies. It is in seeking to carry out the wishes of the House that this provision comes in addition to the Judges Rules.

Mr. Christopher Price (Lewisham, West)

My right hon. Friend will be aware that he has drawn in different language the amendment which was passed in another place, and apparently in somewhat wider language than the Judges Rules, which talk about hindrances to the process of investigation or the administration of justice, whereas the clause contains three categories—namely, the investigation of crime, the prevention of crime and the apprehension of offenders. Is there any significance in the new wording?

Mr. Rees

I must tell my hon. Friend that because of the tightness of the Session I had to consider these matters in only two days. I had in mind that the Royal Commission was set up to look into the deeper significances and deeper problems. I considered the point about a magistrate and after much discussion, which continued for a long time, I felt that I could not take that course in the short term. It is not something that I can do in the Home Office without consulting magistrates and others. It is not a matter of having an idea in an office and putting it into practice. There may be something in what my hon. Friend has suggested, and I am sure that his suggestion will be considered by the Royal Commission. But I have to work in the short term.

As for the remarks of my hon. Friend the Member for Mitcham and Morden (Mr. Douglas-Mann), there is no great significance in what is being done except in one sense. It is true that the Judges Rules are still with us. It was put to me in the House that people did not care about the Judges Rules. The hon. Member for Burton (Mr. Lawrence) made that point. What we are seeking to do outside the Judges Rules is to put something in statute law that in this instance is declaratory—namely, to allow someone to contact someone outside the police station or wherever he is held. Therefore, we thought of the wording in a different context from the Judges Rules, which are capable of being taken into account in the trial.

First, I have asked the Chief Inspector of Constabulary to ensure that in their examinations of complaints registers Her Majesty's inspectors pay special attention to any complaints about the police operation of the clause. However, there must be more monitoring than that. That is why I am discussing with the Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis and other chief officers how we can do something on top of that. I have in mind that, in cases where there is a delay, notification will have to be made to me and that this information should be collated.

I shall hope to find a way of informing the House so that in the short run it should be possible to say that there have been X number of cases recently. Of course, that will depend on the nature of the cases and whether they have gone to court. We would monitor the situation. I think that that would meet the point made by one of my hon. Friends.

On Report, two points were put to me. I was told that there was no problem in the Birmingham area. Other examples were also put to me of people not being allowed to get in touch with their relatives or solicitors. even when the cases were unimportant. The amendment includes the words in the interest of the … prevention of crime". This applies to important cases. We shall find out in the short run the number of cases involved to enable us to get it right. If it is blatantly wrong, I shall have to do something about it. If it needs investigation over a longer term, the Royal Commission is the appropriate body to consider it.

Mr. Arthur Lewis (Newham, North-West)

I have the greatest confidence in the Home Secretary, but, with respect, he will not be Home Secretary for all time.

Mr. Kilroy-Silk

Why not?

Mr. Lewis

Because age creeps up on all of us—even on this great Home Secretary. On Report my hon. Friend the Member for Bethnal Green and Bow (Mr. Mikardo) referred to a chap who had two or three inquiries. What happened? The Home Secretary said "I am not publishing the report." We cannot do anything about that. What will happen when we have another Home Secretary? This does not apply to my right hon. Friend. He will say "I am not going to give the information." I do not have as much confidence in all Home Secretaries as I have in my right hon. Friend.

Mr. Rees

I am grateful for my hon. Friend's confidence in me. I need not go into the details of the case referred to by my hon. Friend the Member for Bethnal Green and Bow (Mr. Mikardo). That inquiry was set up to give information to the Director of Public Prosecutions. People gave evidence and they were clearly told that, under the normal procedures, it would not be published. That is a different example.

What I am saying is that, despite the Judges Rules—some of my hon. Friends did not take account of the Judges Rules, but that is another matter—the House wanted something done in this respect. I have tried to accede to that request. I had to protect the unusual situation. The matter will be monitored to ensure that this reservation is kept to the unusual situation. I suggest that an arrangement which allows a criminal in certain circumstances to contact somebody outside may be to the detriment of the public generally, and we should be wrong to allow it to happen. I have tried to balance civil rights with unusual cases. What I want to find out from the monitoring is whether it can be confined to the unusual cases. I shall find a way of reporting to the House, and the circular which I propose to issue will be published in Hansard so that all hon. Members may see it.

Mr. Christopher Price

I realise that we want to move on. I do not propose to detain the House too long on this amendment.

I have tabled amendments to Lords Amendments Nos. 16 and 17. Therefore, I take it that it is proper for me to move them at this stage, unless I am directed otherwise.

Mr. Deputy Speaker

Order. I should inform the lion. Member that his amendment to Lords Amendment No. 16 has not been selected. The appropriate time to move the amendment to Lords Amendment No. l7 is when we have disposed of Lords Amendment No. 16. We are taking them together, but the Question on his amendment will not be put till we have disposed of Lords Amendment No. 16.

7.45 p.m.

Mr. Price

Thank you, Mr. Deputy Speaker.

I think that we should discuss this matter a little further. I tabled my amendments because I felt that when the House on Report passed the amendment against the Government's advice—that is unusual; it happens infrequently—it did so in the full knowledge that it was trying to create for someone who had been arrested an unqualified right to inform someone of his choice.

My objection to the Lords Amendment No. 17 is that it puts us back to square one regarding the behaviour of the police. The amendment would put back the words where some delay is necessary in the interest of the investigation or prevention of crime or the apprehension of offenders, with no more delay than is so necessary. That gives a carte blanche to the police that they already possess in the Judges' Rules to decide on the spot to deny the right of information to a relative.

I appreciate the strenuous efforts made by my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary to meet what he admitted was a genuine cross-party feeling in the House, but I think that this amendment in a sense misses the point. On Report we suggested that there should be an unqualified right for a person to let somebody know that he had been arrested and where he was. The police say that they do not want anything to be done that would make their job of preventing crime more difficult than it is. I think that the words one person reasonably named by him go a long way to meet the point made by the police. If someone nominates a known criminal, I consider that under this clause the police would have every right to say "No, we shall not tell him."

Mr. George Cunningham

Does my hon. Friend mean that the police would be able to do that by invoking the word "reasonably" rather than the qualification? If so, I disagree.

Mr. Price

We can discuss the meaning of the word "reasonably" throughout the rest of the debate. I think that the word "reasonably" gives the police a degree of latitude as to who should be told. For example, the Home Secretary said that it would be unreasonable to tell a pop star. On Report, the Archbishop of Canterbury was mentioned as being an unreasonable person to be nominated. I believe that the police would also have the right to say "No, that is an unreasonable person to be told" if they knew that the person to be told to be someone who would immediately and directly impede any inquiries that they were pursuing.

Mr. Merlyn Rees

I have revealed the discussions I have had, and I believe that in terms of the practicalities we should proceed in the way that I have indicated. What does one say to a policeman in a case that may not be under the prevention of terrorism legislation, where the link with the arrested person's wife might mean that weapons or drugs in a house could be removed? Is my hon. Friend saying that in that case the police could reasonably say "No, we shall not tell the family"?

Mr. Price

Surrounded as I am by a host of lawyers it is difficult for me to give an absolute definition of the legal meaning of the words, but I would have thought that if my amendment had been selected, to restore the clause to the state in which it left this House, the point that my right hon. Friend has just made about bombs would not apply.

Mr. Merlyn Rees

What about drugs?

Mr. Price

If the police felt that the person to be told was in a position immediately to hinder investigations I would have thought so. I do not wish to pursue that point.

I come now to what my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary said about the circular and the monitoring procedure. What particularly concerns me in this sort of procedure is that, in certain police stations in the Metropolitan area, to be allowed to inform somebody that one has been arrested is the exception rather than the rule. Few people would deny that. I very much hope that if my right hon. Friend is framing a circular based on this clause to send to the police, as he says he is, he will include in that circular some advice particularly about juvenile and young people. In the recent arrests in Lewisham a number of allegations were made—we shall see whether they are proved or not—that young people whose average age was 16 and who in many cases were under 16 were held for 48 hours without their parents discovering where they were. That sort of case was mentioned time and again at Report stage. We feel that it is our duty in this House to provide some absolute safeguards in such cases, even though the police might feel that by providing these safeguards we were in some way hindering the administration of justice.

My right hon. Friend also referred to monitoring. I am glad that he is not simply going to restrict the monitoring to the monitoring of complaints procedures, because that would be inadequate. In regard to the notification procedures that my right hon. Friend is about to set up, I noted the form of words that my right hon. Friend used. He said that discussions were going on. There was no absolute pledge that this would take place.

I hope that in the notification procedures some information can be given to the House not only about total numbers but the ages of the people arrested, so that we can at least have some statistics about young people and juveniles in this area. I hope that those statistics will be presented to the House not just as raw statistics but in a form that will mean something not only to hon. Members but to the Royal Commission. The difficulty that we all have in discussions about this problem is that there are no statistics. My hon. Friends talk about Birmingham and about Scotland, but we cannot say that we think that this or that is the case when no one has any real hard statistics about police practice in this area.

Mr. Arthur Lewis

I think that my hon. Friend and I know that statistics are already available at the moment but that the Establishment often uses the hoary old saying that to provide the statistics would take too much time and effort or would involve disproportionate costs and, therefore, the information cannot be revealed. We all know that the information is there, but the Establishment does not want to reveal it because it would damage the Establishment.

Mr. Price

I agree that that is the case in a wide area, but in this case I believe that there are no statistics. Nobody knows, and some people do not want anyone to know. It is our job in the House to insist on this.

My final point is about Scotland. The point was made throughout Report that if this system works in Scotland, where the criminal population is no greater or no less than in England and Wales—although perhaps it is a little greater—why cannot we have this unqualified right in England to inform someone? I know that in Scotland the person informed is a solicitor, not a person "reasonably" chosen. Why cannot it be an unqualified right? I am not saying that the law works perfectly in Scotland. I would not be surprised if there were cases in which the police do not allow other people to be informed, but at least the provision is written into the law, and there is some sanction if the police ignore it. If my amendment is passed, I am not saying that the police would always take notice of it or that they would not decide to ignore it from time to time.

However, it is peculiarly the job of the House of Commons to write this sort of absolute safeguard into the law because we alone, as Members of Parliament—rather than the civil servants who draft these Bills and have to take a whole range of considerations into account—can write these safeguards into the law. That is why I am inclined to press this amendment, but before making any decision I would like to hear a little more about the detailed nature of the monitoring procedure.

Mr. George Cunningham

On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. I ask you to clarify the selection of amendments. I understood you to say that the reference in the selection list to the amendment—in my copy of the selection list it is in the singular—is to "amendment thereto" and the only amendment is to Lords Amendment No. 17. Is that correct?

Mr. Deputy Speaker

The amendment that has been selected is the amendment in the name of the hon. Member for Lewisham, West (Mr. Price) to Lords Amendment No. 17.

Mr. Cunningham

Can I put it to you, Mr. Deputy Speaker, that that is a rather curious thing to do, because the effect of my hon. Friend's two amendments together is to restore the language to what was passed by this House. If one selects the second amendment but not the first, what one does is to knock out the qualification but retain the applicability of my original clause to cases under terrorism as well as cases not under terrorism. If that is the selection that has been made it is a pretty daft one.

8.0 p.m.

Mr. Christopher Price

On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. I am utterly and completely puzzled by the selection of amendments. My two amendments were an effort to allow the House to take a decision roughly on the lines of the decision which was taken on Report. The selection of amendments, however, appears calculated to prevent the House from doing that. I do not understand why that selection has taken place. I am in a difficult position about whether to press my amendment, because one amendment without the other does not provide the sort of combination that anyone here wants.

Mr. Deputy Speaker

I understand that the Government are moving to agree. The hon. Gentleman is moving to disagree.

Mr. Christopher Price

Further to that point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. When I consulted the Public Bill Office I was instructed that although I wanted to put everything in one amendment, for House of Commons purposes I must follow the form now set out involving two amendments. Nevertheless, the intention was quite clear.

Mr. George Cunningham

Further to the point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. Am I right in thinking that the first amendment is not necessary and that my hon. Friend the Member for Lewisham, West (Mr. Price) will be able to achieve its result simply by voting against the Government proposal to disagree with it?

Mr. Deputy Speaker

That is absolutely correct.

Mr. Cunningham

I apologise then, Mr. Deputy Speaker, for starting that hare.

I wish to pay tribute to the manner in which my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State and my hon. Friend the Minister of State have responded in the last fortnight or so to what was done on Report. I have had a number of altercations with Ministers in my brief time in this House, and I have made a number of efforts to get them to do what they did not want to do. The manner in which my right hon. and hon. Friends have responded both to what happened on Report and to representations that I made afterwards is a model of how Ministers ought to react to that type of situation.

I am particularly grateful to the Government for having accepted both suggestions, namely, that a circular should be issued—for what that is worth, which is not a great deal, but it is worth something—and, far more important, that a monitoring process should take place throughout England and Wales. That is very important, because it means that the police will get the message that there is a new regime. However much the wording of this provision looks like and is like the wording of the Judges' Rules, something different has happened. They will have to answer now in a way in which they did not have to before for the use of the qualification.

I have two points to put to my right hon. Friend. The first follows upon a point put by the hon. and learned Member for Runcorn (Mr. Carlisle). He asked whether it would be sufficient to ask for an unnamed solicitor or, presumably, a firm of solicitors, without a personal name, to be informed. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State said that his understanding was that that would count as a "person reasonably named". Am I right in thinking that the words used would also cover notification of an organisation such as the National Council for Civil Liberties, so that if someone asked for the NCCL to be informed that would be covered by the words "person reasonably named"? I am grateful to see my right hon. Friend nod his head in agreement with that.

My right hon. Friend has assured us that the circular he proposes to issue will not only be popped in to the Library in the normal way but will be printed in Hansard. Will he go further? The circular which he would issue on this subject would not have a statutory basis. It would not be subject to affirmative or negative resolution in the House. Given the history of this case, I suggest that it would be possible for him to have informal consultation with those hon. Members who have taken an interest in the matter—in so far as he is able to identify them, and I do not think that he will have great difficulty there—before the circular is actually issued. There is nothing more galling than to find that a circular has been sent out and then to succeed in persuading the Minister that something is wrong with it. Although he would have agreed to change it before the circular had gone out, that would be infinitely more difficult to do afterwards. I hope that my right hon. Friend will agree to such consultation once he has the text of the circular clear in his mind.

Mr. Graham Page

I hope that in that circular the Home Secretary will not include encouragement to the person in custody reasonably to name his Member of Parliament. The Home Secretary mentioned that point during his speech, and I fear that he will encourage the practice.

Mr. Cunningham

I join in that exhortation. I have no wish to be reasonably so named by a large number of people in my constituency.

I am glad to notice that the text of my original clause has survived to a considerable extent notwithstanding the scorn that was poured upon it from the Front Bench and from a number of other quarters. In particular I notice that the word "intimation", which I was assured would not be comprehensible to an English lawyer, turns out to be comprehensible not only to a lawyer but also to every policeman. The word I used on that occasion to describe my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary's remarks—a word which did not find its way into Hansard—has turned out to be justified.

The drafting of the amendment leaves something to be desired in respect of the phrase "reasonably named". That phrase stuck in my throat when I read it because I could not quite see what the point of it was. The intention, I gather, is to avoid use of such names as Walt Disney and Santa Claus. But I wonder whether that meaning will be obvious to people who are using the circular. That is one point that I hope the Secretary of State will clear up in the circular.

The amended text would, I believe, be adequate for all purposes if the police operated it genuinely and honestly. The trouble is that we are all fearful that they will not, and that, seeing language which is so similar to that which is used in the Judges' Rules—

Mr. Geoffrey Finsberg (Hampstead)

I hope that on reflection the hon. Member will not say that we are all fearful, because some of us do not think that the police are always wrong. Perhaps in that respect the hon. Member will refer to "most" hon. Members.

Mr. Cunningham

I know no one who believes that the police are always wrong. I do not think there is any such person. Do not let us exaggerate the differences which exist between hon. Members, especially on this issue, which is very much a joint effort from all parts of the House.

The monitoring process will be important in ensuring that whatever abuse of the qualification has taken place hitherto, the same abuse will not take place in the future, however much the language of the qualification is similar to the language used in the Judges' Rules.

My right hon. Friend, speaking tonight, and my noble Friend the Minister of State in the Lords, gave examples of situations in which it was thought right for the qualification to be invoked. There was no reference to the time during which notification might be withheld. It is important to cover that aspect in the circular. It is one thing to say that we shall not send out a message in 24 hours and, in a very unusual case, 48 hours, but it would be entirely different for a message to be held back for a matter of days on the pretence—and perhaps it would he true—that sending out the message would seriously impede investigation.

There is one good point to be noted about the language of the qualification. It is the word "justiciable". The qualification does not state that the message does not need to be sent out if the police consider that there will be an impediment but that the message does not need to be sent out if there is an impediment.

For the purposes of the Royal Commission it is important for us to clear our minds, as we were starting to do on Report, about the conceptual difference between the Judges' Rules and provisions such as this. The Home Office circular covering the Judges' Rules states: As is made clear by the Judges, the Rules are concerned with the admissibility in evidence against a person of answers, oral or written, given by that person to questions asked by police officers and of statements made by that person. That is the rôle of the Judges' Rules. It has nothing to do with the behaviour which we may wish to make a statutory obligation. The two things are parallel. They duplicate. There is nothing wrong with their duplicating. We should take into statute those things which we want to make an obligation and leave the Judges' Rules to deal with the extent to which any breaches of the actions stated in the Rules can be taken into account when deciding whether evidence is admissible.

On the monitoring process, given the clause passed on Report, it was clear that the majority was found only because the House was prepared to accept that changes of this nature would be made in the Lords. Personally, I find that the text, as it has emerged from the Lords, is acceptable. I propose to accept the Lords' text and to vote against the amendments to it.

Mr. Alexander W. Lyon

I intend to be brief. Fulsome tributes do not flow often from my hon. Friend the Member for Islington, South and Finsbury (Mr. Cunningham). I hope that it means that he will be translated to the Home Office in due course, both for his own sake and for that of the Home Office, because it would do them both a power of good. I am sorry that my hon. Friend takes the attitude he does to the amendment moved in the Lords. This is no further advance on the Judges' Rules, because the words that we are moving to omit give the police the same kind of cover for refusing access either to a solicitor or anyone else, that are contained in the Judges' Rules. They will have the same effect.

I do not believe that monitoring will add anything to the position in the Judges' Rules. I do not believe that once the police officer says—expletive deleted—"You are not going to get your husband, your solicitor or anyone else informed about your presence here", the officer will make out a Home Office form in duplicate and sign that he has broken the rules of this provision. It is nonsense to believe that in the world in which the police live within their stations that they will keep a record of the number of times people are refused access to a relative or solicitor.

8.15 p.m.

Mr. Christopher Price

I agree with my hon. Friend the Member for York (Mr. Lyon), knowing the inside of my local police station. Does that mean that he does not take seriously the forthright words of my right hon. Friend when he says that in future the whole attitude will change and that the police will till in these forms so that we shall know how many are denied access?

Mr. Lyon

My hon. Friend the Member for Lewisham, West (Mr. Price) must recollect that in addition to the Judges' Rules there is the Home Office circular which underlines the need for a solicitor to be called when an accused asks for him. He must remember that that provision was introduced by a Home Office that presumably was interested in civil liberties. A fat lot of good that has done. Even if the provison is contained in legislation it will not change the situation.

Each time the police want to refuse access they will say that to inform a solicitor will impede the investigation of the crime. If they do have to record it, they will do so in those terms. It is impossible for the Home Office or anyone else to monitor that.

I am sure that my rght hon. Friend is acting in good faith but he has conceded the case because of pressure from the police. It is nonsense to tell a criminal that it would undermine the course of justice to tell his wife, solicitor or anyone else that he is detained in a police station.

The lie was given by Lord Mansfield who said that to most of us it seemed intolerable that one could be taken to a police station and not be able to ring a solicitor. Of course, to the middle class that would be intolerable, but to a criminal it might not appear so, because he is not given the chance to inform anyone else. That situation will not be altered by this proposal.

Mr. Douglas-Mann

I agree with my hon. Friend the Member for York (Mr. Lyon). Nevertheless, I am not completely happy to leave the matter without qualification. There are circumstances in which it may be desirable for the police to hold up notification. But we need to have some mechanism.

Faced with the choice of this clause or accepting the amendment I prefer to accept the amendment in the confidence that the Government will introduce some legislation on the lines outlined by the Home Secretary that will provide a mechanism that will indicate those cases where an exception is required. I would rather do that than leave the matter where it stands and not have legislation for years until the Royal Commission has reported. I hope that my hon. Friends will press the amendment and that my colleagues will support them.

Mr. Merlyn Rees

There is a problem for the prosecuting process. I believe that the Royal Commission examining the many aspects is the right way to proceed.

As a result of the feeling in the House we have made a move. I do not accept that in the majority of cases criminals are not allowed to get in touch with anybody. I hope that if my hon. Friend has evidence to that effect he will give it to me. I do not find that that is so. It is not true that in most cases people are not allowed to get in touch with someone.

I hope this matter will not be pressed. We have made a start. I shall have the circular printed in Hansard. I am discussing the matter with the police. It is my responsibility to consult. In most cases I discuss with hon. Members in many parts of the House in order to obtain their views. In that sense consultation will take place.

With regard to the circular, there is a problem about juveniles. I have taken the point about organisations as well. On the monitoring, I do not want to set up a vast statistical body. What I want to do is to get the information that will be relevant to the Royal Commission and to the way in which it is proceeding. Discussions are taking place. We had to rush this. I do not complain about that. I am discussing this matter with various interests, because that is the way to proceed. That is why I have not made up my mind. However, I believe that we have the right solution at this stage. I hope that on all sides of the House the Government will be supported.

Mr. Christopher Price

With the leave of the House—

Hon. Members


Mr. Price

On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. I wonder whether I could, in one sentence, clarify what appeared to be a muddle but was not?

Mr. Nigel Lawson (Blaby)

Order. That is not a point of order.

Mr. Deputy Speaker

Order. I understand the difficulty of the hon. Member for Lewisham, West (Mr. Price). However, he can address the House only by leave. Perhaps I can help him by saying that he has a course of action that he may need to take, which I think he understands, and which I think the House understands in this particular matter.

Question put and agreed to.

Lords amendment: No. 17, in line 3, leave out "a person of his choosing" and insert one person reasonably named by him, without delay or, where some delay is necessary in the interest of the investigation or prevention of crime or the apprehension of offenders, with no more delay than is so necessary.

Motion made, and Question proposed, That this House doth agree with the Lords in the said amendment.—[Mr. Merlyn Rees.]

Amendment proposed to the lards amendment, leave out from first "delay" to end.—[Mr. Chistopher Price.]

Question put, That the amendment to the Lords amendment be made:—

The House divided: Ayes 68 Noes 242.

Division No. 226] AYES [8.22 p.m.
Allaun, Frank Heffer, Eric S. Parry, Robert
Bennett, Andrew (Stockport N) Hoyle, Doug (Nelson) Pendry, Tom
Buchan, Norman Hughes, Robert (Aberdeen N) Phipps, Dr Colin
Callaghan, Jim (Middleton & P) Janner, Greville Prescott, John
Canavan, Dennis Jeger, Mrs Lena Price, C. (Lewisham W)
Carmichael, Nell Jenkins, Hugh (Putney) Richardson, Miss Jo
Carter-Jones, Lewis Kilroy-Silk, Robert Roberts, Gwilym (Cannock)
Castle, Rt Hon Barbara Lamond, James Robinson, Geoffrey
Clemitson, Ivor Latham, Arthur (Paddington) Rodgers, George (Chorley)
Cook, Robin F. (Edin C) Lestor, Miss Joan (Eton & Slough) Rooker, J. W.
Corbett Robin Lewis, Arthur (Newham N) Rose, Paul B.
Crawshaw, Richard Litterick, Tom Shaw, Arnold (Ilford South)
Davies, Bryan (Enfield N) Lyon, Alexander (York) Skinner, Dennis
Edge, Geoff McDonald, Dr Oonaqh Spriggs, Leslie
Ellis, John (Brigg & Scun) McGuire, Michael (Ince) Steen, Anthony (Wavertree)
English, Michael McNamara, Kevin Thomas, Ron (Bristol NW)
Evans, John (Newton) Madden, Max Thorne, Stan (Preston South)
Flannery, Martin Mendelson, John Torney, Tom
Fletcher, Ted (Darlington) Miller, Dr M. S. (E Kilbride) Weitzman, David
Forrester, John Mitchell, Austin Vernon (Grimsby) Wise, Mrs Audrey
Fowler, Gerald (The Wrekin) Moate, Roger
Fry, Peter Molloy, William TELLERS FOR THE AYES:
Garrett, John (Norwich S) Newens, Stanley Mr. Ian Mikardo and
Hayman, Mrs Helena Orbach, Maurice Mr. Bruce Douglas-Mann.
Anderson, Donald Davidson, Arthur Harrison, Rt Hon Walter
Archer, Rt Hon Peter Davies, Denzil (Llaneili) Hart, Rt Hon Judith
Armstrong, Ernest Davies, Ifor (Gower) Havers, Rt Hon Sir Michael
Ashton, Joe Davis, Clinton (Hackney C) Hooley, Frank
Atkins, Rt Hon H. (Spelthorne) Deakins, Eric Hooson, Emlyn
Atkins, Ronald (Preston N) Dean, Joseph (Leeds West) Horam, John
Bagier, Gordon A. T. Dempsey, James Huckfield, Les
Banks, Robert Dodsworth, Geoffrey Hughes, Rt Hon C. (Anglesey)
Barnett, Guy (Greenwich) Doig, Peter Hughes, Mark (Durham)
Barnett, Rt Hon Joel (Heywood) Dormand, J. D. Hughes, Roy (Newport)
Bates, Alf Drayson, Burnaby Hunt, David (Wirral)
Bean, R. E. Dunnett, Jack Hunter, Adam
Beith, A. J. Dunwoody, Mrs Gwyneth Irving, Rt Hon S. (Dartford)
Bell, Ronald Durant, Tony Jackson, Colin (Brighouse)
Benn, Rt Hon Anthony Wedgwood Dykes, Hugh Jackson, Miss Margaret (Lincoln)
Bennett, Dr Reginald (Fareham) Eadie, Alex John, Brynmor
Bishop, Rt Hon Edward Eden, Rt Hon Sir John Johnson, James (Hull West)
Blenkinsop, Arthur Edwards, Robert (Wolv SE) Johnson Smith, G. (E Grinstead)
Boardman, H. Ellis, Tom (Wrexham) Jones, Barry (East Flint)
Booth, Rt Hon Albert Ennals, David Judd, Frank
Boothroyd, Miss Betty Evans, Ioan (Aberdare) Kaufman, Gerald
Bottomley, RI Hon Arthur Ewing, Harry (Stirling) Kellett-Bowman, Mrs Elaine
Bottomley, Peter Fairgrieve, Russell Kimball, Marcus
Boyden, James (Bish Auck) Finsberg, Geoffrey Lamborn, Harry
Boyson, Dr Rhodes (Brent) Fookes, Miss Janet Lamont, Norman
Bradley, Tom Foot, Rt Hon Michael Latham, Michael (Melton)
Brittan, Leon Ford, Ben Lawrence, Ivan
Brooke, Peter Fox, Marcus Lawson, Nigel
Brotherton, Michael Fraser, John (Lambeth, N'w'd) Leadbitter, Ted
Brown, Hugh D. (Provan) Freeson, Reginald Le Marchant, Spencer
Buchanan, Richard Freud, Clement Lester, Jim (Beeston)
Butler, Mrs Joyce (Wood Green) Fry, Peter Lewis, Kenneth (Rutland)
Callaghan, Rt Hon J. (Cardiff SE) Gilbert, Dr John Mabon, Rt Hon Dr J. Dickson
Campbell, Ian Ginsburg, David McAdden, Sir Stephen
Carter, Ray Glyn, Dr Alan McCartney, Hugh
Clark, Alan (Plymouth, Sutton) Godber, Rt Hon Joseph McElhone, Frank
Clarke, Kenneth (Rushcliffe) Golding, John Macfarlane, Nell
Clegg, Walter Gow, Ian (Eastbourne) MacFarquhar, Roderick
Cocks, Rt Hon Michael (Bristol S) Graham, Ted MacKay, Andrew (Stechford)
Cohen, Stanley Grant, George (Morpeth) MacKenzie, Rt Hon Gregor
Conlan, Bernard Grant, John (Islington C) Maclennan, Robert
Cowans, Harry Gray, Hamish McMillan, Tom (Glasgow C)
Cox, Thomas (Tooting) Grist, Ian Magee, Bryan
Craigen, Jim (Maryhill) Grocott, Bruce Mahon, Simon
Cronin, John Hamilton, James (Bothwell) Mallalieu, J. P. W.
Crowther, Stan (Rotherham) Hampson, Dr Keith Marks, Kenneth
Cunningham, G. (Islington S) Hardy, Peter Marshall, Jim (Leicester S)
Cunningham, Dr J. (Whiteh) Harrison, Col Sir Harwood (Eye) Marshall, Michael (Arundel)
Mason, Rt Hon Roy Raison, Timothy Taylor, Mrs Ann (Bolton W)
Mawby, Ray Rees, Rt Hon Merlyn (Leeds S) Temple-Morris, Peter
Mayhew, Patrick Rhys Williams, Sir Brandon Thomas, Mike (Newcastle E)
Meacher, Michael Roberts, Albert (Normanton) Tierney, Sydney
Mellish, Rt Hon Robert Roberts, Michael (Cardiff NW) Tinn, James
Millan, Rt Hon Bruce Robinson, Geoffrey Tuck, Raphael
Mills, Peter Roderick, Caerwyn Urwin, T. W.
Miscampbell, Norman Rodgers, Rt Hon William (Stockton) Wainwright, Edwin (Dearne V)
Mitchell, R. C. (Soton, Itchen) Roper, John Wainwright, Richard (Colne V)
Moonman, Eric Ross, Stephen (Isle of Wight) Walker, Harold (Doncaster)
Moore, John (Croydon C) Ross, Rt Hon W. (Kilmarnock) Walker, Terry (Kingswood)
Morgan, Geraint Ryman, John Wall, Patrick
Morgan-Giles, Rear-Admiral Sainsbury, Tim Ward, Michael
Morris, Michael (Northampton S) Sandelson, Neville Warren, Kenneth
Moyle, Roland Selby, Harry Watkins, David
Mudd, David Shersby, Michael Watkinson, John
Mulley, Rt Hon Frederick Shore, Rt Hon Peter Weatherill, Bernard
Neubert, Michael Silkin, Rt Hon John (Deptford) Wellbeloved, James
Noble, Mike Sims. Roger While, Frank R. (Bury)
Oakes, Gordon Skeet, T. H. H. White, James (Pollok)
Ogden, Eric Small, William Wiggin, Jerry
O'Halloran, Michael Smith, Dudley (Warwick) Willey, Rt Hon Frederick
Onslow, Cranley Smith, John (N Lanarkshire) Williams, Rt Hon Alan (Swansea W)
Oppenheim, Mrs Sally Snape, Peter Williams, Alan Lee (Hornch'ch)
Orme, Rt Hon Stanley Speed, Keith Williams, Sir Thomas (Warrington)
Osborn, John Spence, John Wilson, Alexander (Hamilton)
Ovenden, John Spicer, Jim (W Dorset) Wilson, Rt Hon Sir Harold (Huyton)
Owen, Rt Hon Dr David Stallard, A. W. Woodall, Alec
Page, Rt Hon R. Graham (Crosby) Steel, Rt Hon David Woof, Robert
Palmer, Arthur Stewart, Ian (Hitchin) Young, David (Bolton E)
Pattie, Geoffrey Stewart, Rt Hon M. (Futham)
Pavitt, Laurie Stoddart, David TELLERS FOR THE NOES:
Penhaligon, David Stott, Roger Mr. Donald Coleman and
Pink, R. Bonner Strang, Gavin Mr. Joseph Harper.

Question accordingly negatived.

Main Question put and agreed to.

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