§ Order for Second Reading read.
§ Mr. Speaker
I have selected the amendment in the name of the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition. For the Second Reading of this Bill, I propose to apply the 10-minute rule from 7 pm until 9 pm. This rule has already worked well in enabling a larger number of hon. Members to be called.
§ The Secretary of State for Scotland (Mr. George Younger)
I beg to move, That the Bill be now read a Second time.
Before speaking about the Bill itself, I should perhaps first explain why, on this occasion, we do not have a money resolution before us at the time of Second Reading. Unfortunately, due to the short time between the Bill's coming from another place and the Easter Recess, it proved impossible to table the money resolution in time for this debate. It is, however, being tabled today and will be proceeded with as soon as possible and in good time before clauses come up for debate at later stages.
The Bill proposes wide-ranging and fundamental reforms of the Scottish criminal justice system. Its 81 clauses and 8 schedules represent the most substantial reform of Scottish criminal procedure, evidence and treatment of offenders since 1963. Throughout the intervening years a great deal of work has been carried out by a number of Scottish departmental committees of inquiry under the auspices of Governments of both parties. The distinguished men and women who served on these committees spent much time and labour on their deliberations in the interests of public policy. We are all very much in their debt. I am glad that we have been able to adopt and put forward in this Bill so many of their recommendations.
The majority of the measures proposed in the Bill are drawn from the recommendations of the committee that sat under the chairmanship of the late Lord Thomson during much of the past decade. Its first and third reports, published in 1972 and 1977 respectively, proposed 812 radical reforms of the procedure on criminal appeals in Scotland. Its second report, published in 1975, ranged widely over the field of criminal procedure generally.
The Bill is also designed to give effect to recommendations made in the Scottish Council on Crime's report on fines, of 1974, and its general memorandum of 1975, which commented on the problem of crime in Scotland in general; the Dunpark report, of 1977, which considered compensation by the offender to the victim; the 1977 report of the working group on football crowd behaviour, chaired by the hon. Member for Glasgow, Queen's Park (Mr. McElhone) on the worrying problem of football crowd behaviour; and the Bryden report on identification procedure, published in 1978.
This is a long and detailed Bill, of great importance. I cannot today cover every detail in an opening speech. If, therefore, I spend much of my time on part I and less on the other parts of the Bill, it is not because they are unimportant but because it seems that the question of police powers has aroused most controversy in public debate, in the media, and in another place.
Many of the arguments, so far adduced in criticism of the Bill are very wide of the mark. I cannot help thinking that a very large proportion of those who have violently condemned this Bill have either never read it at all or have completely failed to understand it or to compare it with present practice both north and south of the border.
To read some of the hysterical statements made, one would never think that a great number of that Bill's provisions—40 out of 81 clauses—were already introduced and, indeed, nearly passed by the previous Government. Only a very welcome general election prevented its passage last year. Nor would one imagine that most of the Bill's provisions are the result of years of work by some very distinguished departmental committees, whose views are certainly not partisan and whose legal expertise is beyond question.
Before commenting on the detailed provisions in part I, I make one general point. The maintenance of law and order is of prime interest to all of us and is of 813 particular need to the weaker and underprivileged sections of the population. Those who live in good housing in good areas of town or country can afford to the orise about crime and criminology. It is often not to them a real daily terror or even, on occasions, a matter of life and death. They suffer grievously from the growing crime rate in our cities and housing schemes. We shall fail them in a real way if we fail to equip the forces of law and order with every reasonable means that we can devise to tilt the balance against the criminal and in favour of his victim and of innocent people generally.
I hope that the House will be prepared to look at the new police powers against this background.
§ Mr. Eldon Griffiths (Bury St. Edmunds)
I agree very much with what my right hon. Friend says. I note that a number of additional police powers are provided in the Bill in respect of search for and control of alcohol in coaches and at sports grounds. If, as I agree with my right hon. Friend, these powers are necessary and effective, why are they introduced for Scotland and not for the United Kingdom as a whole, in so far as they are additional to powers that already exist south of the border?
§ Mr. Younger
I appreciate my hon. Friend's remarks. He has great knowledge of the matter. He will understand that a decision whether to extend these powers to England, Wales or Northern Ireland is a matter not for me but for my right hon. Friends, who, I am sure, will note what my hon. Friend says. My hon. Friend's remarks outline the differences between Scotland and England and the direction of those differences, which are relevant to the consideration of the Bill.
§ Mr. Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bernard Weatherill)
Order. To which hon. Member is the right hon. Gentleman giving way?
§ Mr. Alexander W. Lyon (York)
In order to allay the anxiety of English Members, will the Secretary of State confirm that the Bill will not be a precedent for England and that the Cabinet will not argue that because these changes have taken place in Scotland it is right that they should be introduced into England when the Royal Commission on criminal procedure reports later in the year?
§ Mr. Younger
The hon. Gentleman, I know, sometimes listens to Scottish debates. We welcome his presence. We in Scotland regard ourselves as having a different legal system from that of England. We are proud of that. We deal with matters in our own way. I do not preclude what my right hon. Friends may or may not wish to do in other parts of the United Kingdom, nor would I expect them to preclude what I might wish to do, with the approval of the House, north of the border.
§ Mr. Christopher Price (Lewisham, West)
The right hon. Gentleman will be aware that the Royal Commission on criminal procedure in England has already undertaken a great deal of research, some of which is as relevant to Scotland as it is to England. Was that research made available to the Government before the drafting of the Bill, or is the Bill going ahead irrespective of the work done by the Royal Commission?
§ Mr. Younger
With respect, the Royal Commission is dealing with matters not within Scotland. We in Scotland have had a great deal of work and research done by a large number of committees over many years. I hope that the hon. Gentleman will not think that I am churlish if I say that, having done that work, we feel that we are entitled to proceed in our own way. That is what we intend to do, with the approval of the House.
I hope that the House will be prepared to look at the police powers fairly and against a fair background. Let us by all means ensure that there is full protection for the innocent, so that these powers either do not affect them at all or, if they do, do so in a way that minimises any inconvenience and ensures no hardship or injustice.
If, in the process, this makes life more difficult for the criminal, so much the better. If it reduces the number of wrongdoers who get away with it, surely that 815 is good news for us all. I hope that the House will say so, too. Is it not, therefore, very much in the public interest that both police and suspects should know where they stand? If police need to detain and question, they should have proper laws within which to do so. If criminal suspects are to be liable to such detention and questioning, surely they should benefit from knowing what their rights are and, indeed, should be better able to seek a remedy if the powers are abused and they feel they have a legitimate grievance.
§ Mr. Younger
I really must continue. I apologise, but I hope that the hon. Gentleman will not mind. Many of my colleagues wish to take part in the debate, and I think that I had better move on, because these speeches get very long if one is constantly interrupted.
So far, the debate has concentrated on part I relating to the police powers. Some of the less well-informed critics of that part of the Bill have seen in it an attempt by the Government to pre-empt the work of the Royal Commission on criminal procedure, which is expected to report within the next year. If I may say so, that criticism is quite unjustified. Of course, the Royal Commission is looking at questions in English law similar to those facing the Thomson committee in Scots law. However, the basic differences in the legal system necessarily imply a difference in the remedies, and the recommendations of the Royal Commission, when they emerge, will require to be examined on their merits and in their proper context, as do the recommendations which form the basis of this Bill.
There is one fundamental difference which is particularly significant. In Scotland, apart from certain limited statutory exceptions, there exists no power for the police to arrest a suspect for questioning before charge, and once a person is charged answers to questions will be inadmissible at his trial. In England, the police may arrest someone before they are in a position to charge him, and hold him in custody, even in minor cases, for up to 24 hours for questioning before he is charged. The power of detention proposed in clause 2 is not dissimilar, except that a person detained under clause 2 will have the right of release 816 from detention after a maximum of six hours.
I mention that to illustrate the difference between the two legal systems. The amazement of most Scots lawyers at various aspects of the English legal system is matched only by that of English lawyers at ours. The question, therefore, to be asked of the provisions of the Bill is"Are they right for Scotland?" [HON. MEMBERS: "No".] It is our contention that they are. I am not alone in that view—.—
§ Mr. Younger
I am sorry, but I must proceed. I am sure that hon. Members will have noticed an article in The Sunday Times only yesterday, which quotes a person who is by no means likely to be regarded as someone to the Right in these matters, Professor Michael Zander. The article states:Ironically, the liberally inclined Michael Zander, professor of law at the London School of Economics, points out that the English police can—and frequently do—hold people without charge or arrest 'sometimes for days on end. The measures in this Bill may be an extension of police powers in Scotland, but it they were introduced into England there would be a serious curtailment of police powers'.I hope that that puts the matter into perspective.
§ Mr. Younger
I have been very kind and courteous to the hon. Gentleman, and I hope he will forgive me if I continue.
I turn now to the individual provisions of part I. Clause 1 empowers a constable to require a person whom he reasonably suspects of committing an offence to give his name and address, to ask that person for an explanation of the circumstances giving rise to suspicion and to require him to remain while his name and address are verified, provided that that can be done quickly. The clause also allows a policeman to require a person who may be a witness to an offence to give his name and address. As a result of an amendment which was agreed in another place, such a person is not obliged to remain with the police while they verify the name and address. 817 A statutory requirement is, regrettably, necessary in this case because there are those who do not feel the force of the moral obligation, which all citizens owe to society, to assist the police when they are in a position to do so. As it stands, the clause imposes the minimum effective requirement on such people.
Clause 2, like clause 1, derives from the recommendations of the Thomson committee. It considered the present position under Scots law where, as it put it, the policeare able to carry out their functions only because some persons whom they detain without warrant fail, through ignorance or fear of authority, to exercise their rights.I am sure that that quotation will be familiar to many hon. Members.
The committee felt that, though perfectly legal, it was undesirable that the police should have to rely on the present informal methods of persuasion and perhaps, on occasions, bluff, and it recommended that the position should be regularised and set out in statute so that each party might have a clear understanding of his rights and obligations in this very sensitive area. Clause 2, therefore, provides that a police officer may detain a person at a police station or elsewhere if, but only if, he has reasonable grounds to suspect that person of an offence punishable by imprisonment.
The suspect may be detained only for a maximum of six hours or until he is cleared or arrested, whichever is the shorter time. As a result of another amendment agreed in another place, he cannot thereafter be detained again on the same grounds of suspicion or on any grounds arising out of the same circumstances. That is an important safeguard for the suspect, which was not included in the Labour Government's Bill but is in this one. The clause also contains further safeguards for the suspect, in that it requires the police to inform him of the reason for his detention and to keep a record of the time, place and purpose of the detention. The clause, therefore, provides a very limited and circumscribed power for the police to hold someone in legal custody and to question him. That a similar but wider power already exists in England suggests that it is not the intolerable assault on 818 civil liberties that some people have suggested.
§ Mr. Norman Buchan (Renfrewshire, West)
The right hon. Gentleman began his comments by saying how much work had been undertaken to get this matter right for Scotland. How does he explain that the chief merits which he has so far adduced for the Bill have been due to amendments passed in another place?
§ Mr. Younger
I certainly do not take the view that any particular part of the legislative process has a monopoly of wisdom in this matter. I shall listen very carefully to what is said in this House and even to the hon. Gentleman himself. If he produces any good suggestions, we shall, of course, look at them. I do not think that we should regard this as a sterile process resulting from one piece of advice with no change taking place thereafter. I certainly believe that my noble Friends dealt with the Bill with great skill, as a result of which it has been changed and improved in various ways.
§ Mr. Younger
I am sorry, but my speech will he much too long if I give way too often. I would love to give way to the hon. Gentleman.
Clause 3 provides a person who is detained under clause 2 with a right to have a solicitor and another person informed of his detention. As a general rule, such information must be sent at once. However, the Thomson committee recognised that there will be occasions—particularly in the more serious cases—where the very fact of a person's detention may serve to "tip off" his accomplices, and delay in sending intimation of detention would be justified in such cases. The clause allows for such delay, but the permissible delay is limited to that necessary in the interest of the investigation, or of the prevention of crime, or of the apprehension of offenders.
Clause 4 deals with the dangerous practice of carrying knives or other weapons which leads to so many serious crimes of violence in Scotland. While the practice is illegal under the Prevention of Crime Act 1953, the police have no power at present to stop and search suspected carriers on reasonable suspicion of the offence. The 819 clause, which is based on a recommendation of the Scottish Council on Crime, creates such a power. Very often, those who carry a knife or other weapon do so with no real intention of using it, but then, when they become involved in a fight, they find they have—sometimes without realising it until too late—seriously injured or even murdered somebody against whom they had no real grudge. Of course, this clause will not prevent certain groups of young people from involving themselves in acts of violence, but the judicious exercise by the police of this new power may forestall the most serious consequences of some at least of these acts, and it should be welcomed on that basis if on no other.
It has been suggested that to give the police the powers contained in part I generally will damage their relationship with the community. I do not believe that view to be justified.
§ Mr. Younger
I shall give way in a minute. Nobody is more aware of the need for good police-public relationships than the Scottish police force. The Scottish police have shown a sensible restraint in the exercise of their substantial existing powers, which, incidentally, include the power to search for various items such as dangerous drugs. I am confident that they will use these new powers with similar moderation. Indeed, their high standing with the community should be enhanced by these powers, which will enable them to be more effective in protecting the ordinary citizen from crime.
§ Mr. Dewar
Will the right hon. Gentleman help me over a serious difficulty? Will he explain, by way of a concrete example, how the police will be able to use their power to carry out a search which is impossible under the present law? It seems to me that there is little difference between what is being proposed and what is already available to the police under the Prevention of Crime Act, 1953. I wish to understand the intentions of the Government in this clause.
§ Mr. Younger
That point will be covered in detail in Committee. At present the police do not have powers to search 820 purely on suspicion. They certainly have powers to search after arrest but not on suspicion except in specified circumstances. There is a list of situations in which the police can search on suspicion, including suspicion of a person carrying dangerous drugs, but they cannot search on suspicion of a person carrying dangerous weapons. I do not think that that is unreasonable.
§ Mr. Kilroy-Silk
I was beginning to believe that the right hon. Gentleman had a prejudice against English Members. Does he accept that he is tipping the balance of power in favour of the police in an important discretionary area and that, moreover, it is an area in which enormous difficulties have been encountered in England and Wales with the "sus" law? That law is now largely discredited and the Government are reviewing it with a view to wiping it from the statute book. It has led to the erosion of whatever confidence the minority ethnic communities had in the police. Is not the right hon. Gentleman aware of the problems encountered in England and Wales by the kind of law he is now proposing for Scotland?
§ Mr. Younger
I do not agree with any part of what the hon. Member for Ormskirk (Mr. Kilroy-Silk) says. However, I assure him that I have no prejudice of any kind against him. The situation in Scotland may be more fortunate than, or different from, the one he described. I am not empowered to declare on situations elsewhere, but in Scotland the relationship between the police and the public is extremely good. The majority of the public are most anxious to see that the police are properly equipped to deal, in particular, with people who may carry dangerous weapons. The hon. Gentleman might wish to bear in mind that one day he could be the victim of someone carrying a dangerous weapon. Should that ever occur, he might well be grateful for this provision.
Part II of the Bill contains proposals which are intended to make a major and substantial reform of Scottish law in relation to evidence and procedure. The Government believe that these provisions, taken as a whole, will be widely welcomed not only in making worthwhile 821 improvements to the efficiency of Scottish justice but in providing new and substantial rights and safeguards for an accused person.
Clause 6 provides for the revival of what is called "judicial examination", an old part of Scottish procedure which fell into disuse towards the end of the last century when an accused became entitled to give evidence in his own defence. It is the stage when a person who has been arrested with a view to prosecution on indictment is first brought before a sheriff, but it has now become—apart from the possibility of an application for bail—almost wholly formal.
The Thomson committee considered that fresh use should be made of this procedure and it received persuasive evidence from various prisoners that at present they had no opportunity to have their say until the trial. Those prisoners said that they would welcome an opportunity at an early stage to explain their position in relation to any alleged offence or to deny statements they were alleged to have made to the police. The second consideration which led the Thomson committee to its recommendation was the view that the present procedure led too readily to the preparation of false defences at the trial.
The provisions of clause 6 are based squarely on the recommendation of the Thomson committee in its second report. It provides that at judicial examination the prosecution may put to an accused questions designed to elicit any explanation he may have to offer of the circumstances giving rise to the charge. The accused will also have the opportunity to comment on anything of an incriminating nature which he may have said extrajudicially. I should stress from the outset that nothing in the clause removes —as has been alleged on a number of occasions—the right to silence.
When clause 6 passes into law, it will remain the accused's right to offer no statement either at the judicial examination or at the trial and to challenge the Crown to prove its case beyond reasonable doubt. He may therefore exercise his right to silence throughout the proceedings from the judicial examination to the trial itself. However, where he chooses to give evidence at his trial but not to answer questions before a sheriff 822 shortly after the alleged crime occurred, we do not think it unreasonable that he should be asked to explain to the jury the reasons for not putting forward his explanation at an earlier stage, or to explain any discrepancies between his answers at judicial examination and at the trial.
In the light of constructive criticism in another place, the Government have substantially amended the clause to include on the face of the Bill various safeguards and restrictions recommended by the committee. Formal questioning at judicial examination is to be carried out by the prosecutor, but the aims, scope and manner of questioning are strictly limited. The sheriff is entrusted with an overall duty to ensure that all questions are fairly put to, and understood by, the accused.
The accused has a right to be represented by a solicitor at a judicial examination and he will be told by the sheriff that he may consult his solicitor before offering a reply to any question. This is designed to protect the accused against offering any explanations which will prejudice him at his trial. The solicitor is also given a specific right, with the permission of the sheriff, to ask the accused any question at judicial examination which is intended to clarify any ambiguity in his replies or, where the accused has previously declined to answer a question, to give him another opportunity to reply. The Government believe that the revival of judicial examination will be of considerable benefit both in improving the efficiency of the judicial process and in allowing an accused person an early opportunity, in a legal setting, of putting forward his explanation of the alleged offence.
Clause 7 extends the jurisdiction of the district courts in Scotland so that, where appropriate, they can help ease the severe burden on the sheriff courts. The decision as to which court a case is prosecuted in remains, of course, with the procurator fiscal and this will ensure that this extension will not lead to inappropriate cases being heard in the district courts.
Clause 9 is one of a number of provisions which specifically extend the rights of an accused person. At present the prosecutor may require a reluctant witness to appear for precognition, mainly under common law powers, but there is no similar right for the defence to insist on 823 a witness appearing for precognition. Clause 9 enables the sheriff, on the application of the defence, to require such a witness to appear before him for that purpose.
I have already referred to the Bryden report, which deals with the question of identification procedures under Scottish criminal law. Most of the recommendations of that committee are presently being implemented administratively but two require legislation and they are in clause 10. That clause provides, first, for amendment of the legal aid scheme to allow duty solicitors to attend identification parades to represent the interests of the suspect or accused and, secondly, that where the prosecutor has not held an identification parade either on his own initiative or after a request by the accused the court may order him to do so on a request of the accused. Again, these provisions will be of direct benefit to an accused person and I hope that they will be greatly welcomed by the House.
Clause 12 is one of the shortest in the Bill but schedule 4 to which it gives effect is dauntingly technical. The broad effect is, however, simple in conception. Traditionally, Scottish trials on indictment have consisted of two diets. The first diet is intended for the taking of a plea and disposal of preliminary matters such as pleas of competence and relevance, and there is a trial diet if a plea of not guilty is adhered to. In practice, however, first diets have in most cases become a meaningless ritual where no real issues are discussed. In far too many cases a plea of guilty is not entered until trial diet, with the maximum inconvenience to jurors, witnesses and court staff.
The Thomson committee recommended that first diets should be reformed so as to serve a useful purpose in every case, but this has not proved possible. Instead, we have endeavoured to ensure that where there is a matter which can be usefully disposed of before the trial a preliminary diet should be held, but in all other cases where it would serve no good purpose it is abolished. The new system of optional preliminary diet set out in schedule 4 draws very heavily on the work done by the Thomson committee and in particular implements an important reservation that there should be a preliminary appeal against the court's deci- 824 sion at a preliminary diet on a plea of competence or relevance.
Clause 14 is yet another clause which is designed to further the rights of the accused person. It makes provision to tighten the present procedure for the prevention of delay in trials and in particular the 110-day rule which in Scots law has a similar importance to habeas corpus in England. That rule is now amended—as the Thomson committee recommended—so that it runs until the beginning of the trial, a fixed date, and not as at present to the uncertain date of its conclusion. It is one of the oddities of our legal system that no equivalent to the 110-day rule exists in summary procedure but the clause implements yet another Thomson recommendation by providing that no accused should be detained for more than 40 days under summary procedure after the bringing of the complaint in court. If his trial does not begin within that period, he will be declared free of the charge.
The clause also provides that under solemn procedure all trials should be started within 12 months of the accused's first appearance on petition and an accused is not to be in custody for more than 80 days without an indictment being served on him.
Those who have portrayed the Bill as being antagonistic to the accused ought to take on board all those provisions. They are all in favour of the accused, and I hope that they will he welcomed by the House.
I have already referred to the difficulties which are caused in solemn procedure by late intimations of pleas of guilty, and this problem is even more severe in summary cases. In a number of cases the cause of a late plea of guilty is known to be the reluctance of the accused to co-operate with his solicitor, provided out of public funds by legal aid. Clause 15 is by way of an experiment and empowers, but does not require, the court to set an intermediate diet at which the sheriff can inquire into the state of preparedness of the prosecution and defence cases and as to whether the accused intends to stick to his plea of not guilty.
Clause 19, which again implements a Thomson recommendation, deals with an oddity of Scots law. At present, unlike 825 the situation in England, there is no plea of "no case to answer". The accused may, at the end of the prosecution case, submit that the Crown has failed to make its case and that he should be acquitted, but, if the judge rejects that submission, he has lost his opportunity to lead evidence in his own defence. To a layman, it would seem unjust that the defence should be told, in effect, that there is a case to answer but that he has lost his opportunity of answering it. Under clause 19 the defence would in future be able to make a new submission of "no case to answer" and, if the court rejected it, the accused would not be debarred from leading evidence thereafter.
The increasing complexity of modern trials has led to juries in Scotland being in seclusion for considerable lengths of time, although not, I am glad to say, to the extent experienced south of the border. Under present legislation, which was originally passed in 1587, it is forbidden for any person to have contact with a jury, and this precludes the provision of proper meals or, were the occasion to arise, of overnight accommodation. Clause 24 of the Bill will allow a judge to give such instruction as he considers appropriate for the provision of meals and refreshments and overnight accommodation for jurors.
§ Mr. Buchan
Before the right hon. Gentleman moves on, surely he will say something in defence of clause 21.
§ Mr. Younger
If the conduct of the accused makes it difficult to conduct a trial properly, something has to be done, and this seems a reasonable way of proceeding. If the hon. Gentleman has suggestions to make for improving the clause, no doubt he will make them later.
Clauses 26 to 31 relate to evidence. Clause 31 in particular deserves note. The general principle of corroboration, which is that no one can be convicted of a crime 826 witness, is fundamental to Scots law and, although there has been some relaxation of this in certain cases, it applies very widely indeed. It even extends to the evidence of traffic wardens, and consequently in Scotland these wardens have to patrol in pairs. Particularly at a time when the constraints on public expenditure are severe, it is difficult to justify this, and the clause would therefore provide that, for those very minor motoring offences to which the ticket system applies, the evidence of one witness shall be sufficient for conviction in the event of the case coming to trial.
The Thomson committee devoted its first and third reports to the reform of both solemn appeals and the much criticised summary appeals procedure. Clauses 32 to 36 and schedules 2 and 3 implement these recommendations with modifications. Some Labour Members may feel that they are suffering, as elsewhere in the Bill, a sense of deja vu as regards the proposed measures on summary appeals, since the Labour Government tabled amendments to implement them in their Bill, although they remained undebated at the time of the general election.
Perhaps the most substantial reform is the implementation of the Thomson improvements to the stated case procedure, but the provisions also recognise the fundamental difficulty of any appellate court in that it has not heard evidence given at the trial. We therefore propose to provide the court with a new power, as an alternative to upholding or dismissing the appeal, to set aside a conviction and authorise retrial where all the evidence can be led.
The concept of retrial is new to Scots law, but it was recommended by the Thomson committee for appeals in solemn procedure. The previous Labour Government proposed to extend it to summary procedure, and we agree with them in that conclusion. Some concern has already been expressed that retrial must necessarily be prejudiced because of publicity surrounding the case. It is, however, somewhat difficult to know whether such publicity will rebound to the disadvantage of the defence or the prosecution since the publicity may well have concentrated on the appeal court setting aside the original verdict of guilty. I do not expect that the retrial procedure will be used at all widely, but in cases of genuine and fundamental doubt it would offer the 827 best means of ensuring justice. I should perhaps add that it can only follow a verdict of guilty. There can be no question of retrial where the accused has been acquitted.
Part III of the Bill deals with penalties and reforms the law in a number of respects. In particular, it contains several provisions designed to reduce the use of imprisonment. It is a matter of great concern that Scotland has one of the highest male prison populations per head of population in Western Europe. Imprisonment is an expensive and sometimes ineffective penalty, and the Government's intention is to ensure that imprisonment is used only when it is necessary in the interests of the protection of society or for some other good reason. The Bill therefore includes measures to continue the policy of reducing the use of imprisonment already given effect to in the Community Service by Offenders (Scotland) Act and the Bail etc. (Scotland) Act.
Part III of the Bill also includes new provision for custodial sentences for young offenders. We agree with our predecessors that the present three overlapping sentences—of young offenders' institution, borstal and detention centre —are unsatisfactory and wasteful of resources to no purpose, but we attach great importance to the power of the courts to sentence young offenders to the brisk discipline of a detention centre such as Glenochil. We believe that brief experience of a regime of this kind may serve to deter a young offender from further involvement in crime. Clause 44 therefore provides for detention centre sentences of between 28 days and four months, with a discretion in the court, in passing such a sentence, to order detention in a young offenders institution where it considers a detention centre sentence inappropriate.
It is also likely that, in the course of considering the Bill, the House will wish to consider the merits of the Emslie report on mandatory minimum recommendations for life sentence prisoners. In view of the decision taken in another place to amend clause 42 to remove from the Bill the requirement on a judge to make a minimum recommendation, the Government are anxious to have the views of hon. Members on both sides of 828 the House before deciding whether this proposal should be reintroduced.
Part IV of the Bill introduces a system of compensation by the offender to the victim of his crime similar to that which already exists and operates successfully in England and Wales.
§ Mr. Younger
I think that we are a long way from deciding matters such as that. In any case, those are not matters for me to decide. It is for my right hon. and hon. Friends to decide those matters. I am sure that we shall come to that in due course.
Under the provisions—I am still on part IV of the Bill—any criminal court in Scotland will be able to order an offender to compensate the victim of his crime for any loss, damage or injury the victim has suffered as a result of the crime without the need for him to raise a separate civil action. It is intended that this new power will be used by the criminal courts in those many cases where it is clear to them that an offender can afford to compensate his victim and that it would be right and proper that he should do so, although it will not in any way affect the existing rights of the victim under civil law. In those cases where an offender does not have sufficient means to pay both the fine and the compensation order, the Bill makes it clear that the court should give preference to the compensation order, thus ensuring that the victim rather than the Exchequer will benefit in the first instance. I feel sure that the House will welcome this measure.
Part V deals with a problem of concern to us all—the problem of violence and disorder associated with the holding of sporting events, especially football matches. Too often, a Saturday afternoon's entertainment at a Scottish football match is marred by the drunken and violent behaviour of a hooligan minority. In turn, this is threatening the very life of the game as crowds dwindle with the more responsible fans preferring to stay away. These problems were considered by a working group, chaired by the hon. 829 Member for Queen's Park when Under-Secretary of State for Scotland, which concluded that a major contributory factor to football violence was excessive drinking. The Government share that view, and part V is designed to tackle the problem by implementing the group's recommendations relating to a ban on the carriage and consumption of alcohol by supporters at certain sporting events, and on private hire coaches travelling to or from such events.
The Bill will allow the Secretary of State to designate the sports grounds and events to which the controls in part V of the Bill will apply, and while we have primarily in mind the designation of professional football matches and the grounds at which these are played, the terms of the Bill would enable them to be extended to cover other types of sporting events if circumstances should make that necessary. While clearly these measures alone cannot cure what is a widespread and greatly disturbing problem, we believe that they can make a significant impact in reducing the amount of rowdy and disorderly behaviour at and around football grounds and can make Saturday afternoons more pleasant for all involved.
Part VI contains a number of miscellaneous and general provisions. I should like to draw attention to clause 76. Vandalism is a cause of great concern to many ordinary people in Scotland. It ruins the quality of life for those unfortunate enough to have to live in areas where it is rife, and it places a major financial burden on the ratepaper. In Scottish law at present, it hides under the inappropriate name of "malicious mischief" and, indeed, is often not prosecuted as such but further concealed under some wider offence such as breach of the peace. The statutory offence in clause 76 brings the terminology up to date and will enable the courts to identify previous convictions of a similar nature and take account of them when imposing sentence.
It is inevitable that I have had to take some time to try to explain as much of the Bill as possible. I hope that the House will feel that I have done my best in the time available.
This is a long, complex, but important Bill. It includes a wide range of reforms of Scottish justice, but running through the whole Bill is, I hope, the 830 core of a consistent approach to criminal policy generally. Every citizen should be entitled to expect from the State a system of justice which is fair. To be fair, it must be efficient and reasonably swift. It must protect the innocent and punish the guilty. Its punishments must also be humane. All of these objectives are advanced in the Bill. I believe that it offers a fair balance between the powers of the police and the rights of the individual, between justice and efficiency. It seeks to make imprisonment less common and yet more effective, to make criminal procedure cheaper and better for the individual as well as for the State and to justify and to enhance continued public confidence in the Scottish criminal justice system. It takes full account of the deliberations of a number of distinguished committees reporting over recent years and the representations and reflections to which their reports give rise.
The Bill is no monster and no exception. Nor is it a Bill that could be abhorred by many people, as has been claimed in the media in recent weeks. It deals in a measured and carefully considered manner with some of the most difficult and controversial topics in criminal policy. I believe that it does so constructively, fairly and successfully. I commend it to the House in the hope that it will pass it with complete confidence.
§ 5.5 p.m.
Mr. Bruce Milan (Glasgow, Craig-ton)
I beg to move, to leave out from "That" to the end of the Question and to add instead thereof:this House declines to give a Second Reading to a Bill which will damage relationships between the police and public in Scotland by giving excessive powers of detention to the police and by providing them with new powers to stop and search for offensive weapons.The Bill is a mixture. It is a lengthy Bill. Many parts are uncontroversial as between the two sides of the House. Indeed, many of the provisions are exactly the same as those included in the Bill introduced by the previous Labour Government but which fell at the general election. We shall continue to support those provisions in the Bill which are uncontroversial or were included in the Labour Bill. That does not mean that because provision was included in the previous Labour Bill it should not be subjected to the full scrutiny of the 831 House, including scrutiny by my right hon. and hon. Friends and by Conservative Members. There are many uncontroversial aspects in the Bill, and we do not oppose the Bill as a whole.
There are matters of considerable concern, especially in the first part of the Bill, dealing with the stop and search powers for offensive weapons and with police powers of detention. Nothing that the Government have done since the publication of the Bill, either in their drafting of the Bill or in their handling of the matter, has in any way allayed the concern of many in Scotland about those provisions. The attitude taken by the Minister today in his description of the critics of the Bill does not help to allay the concern expressed by many perfectly responsible bodies, such as the Law Society of Scotland.
The Bill has been altered, to some extent, in the other place. Many of the virtues and safeguards about certain clauses on which we have considerable reservations were introduced in the other place following criticism by Labour peers. It was a little dishonest of the Minister to describe those provisions without mentioning that they were not included in the Bill as it was originally introduced. I shall return to that matter later.
We have tabled a reasoned amendment to the Bill. Unless the Government were unexpectedly to agree to accept our criticisms and to amend the Bill accordingly —and I do not believe that that will happen—we shall press our reasoned amendment to a Division at the end of the debate.
I do not intend to speak, even briefly, about all the provisions in the Bill. The Secretary of State did not do that, and I shall not do so either; it would take far too long. Apart from the provisions on detention, I shall deal mainly with the provisions that were not included in the Labour Bill. That does not mean that some of the provisions that are repeated are unimportant. Some of them are extremely important. It does not mean that some of them are not controversial. There is the question of the accused's removal from the court, which Conservative Members managed to delete from the Labour Bill because of their violent opposition but which now rears its head as a new 832 provision in this Bill. These matters can be discussed in Committee.
I wish to deal with the stop and search powers and the police power of detention. I wish to set those against the background of relations between the police and the public, because that subject is specifically mentioned in our reasoned amendment. It is the background against which we should consider these provisions. Every good policeman, whether he is the man on the beat or the chief constable, recognises that he is dependent on public co-operation for his efficiency and effectiveness. Without public co-operation, the role of the police force in society would be considerably diminished. Therefore, we must do everything possible to ensure a friendly and co-operative relationship between the police and the public.
I agree with the Secretary of State that at present the relationships between the police and the public in Scotland are good. In most instances they are very good. However, that does not mean that certain sections of the community are not worried about police powers and that there are not many complaints about police behaviour. In Scotland we have avoided some of the difficulties which have prejudiced and embittered relationships between the police and the public in England. That has arisen in part—[Interruption.] If hon. Gentlemen from English constituencies will cease their dialogue, I can make my point. The Solicitor-General for Scotland said that there is a right to silence here, and I hope that some hon. Gentlemen will exercise it for a moment.
The relationships between the police and the public in Scotland are good because some of the incidents which have arisen south of the border have not arisen in Scotland. We are fortunate from that point of view. The police in Scotland accept, and most hon. Members will accept, that there have been better relationships between the police and the public in Scotland than has been the case south of the border in recent years. I do not say that by way of criticism of the English police.
Certain aspects of the Scottish system help in ensuring better relationships between the police and the public. There is an independent prosecution system. Some of the controversy which arises 833 over deaths in police custody south of the border is dealt with by different judicial procedures in Scotland. Scotland pioneered community involvement by the police, and it is better developed there than in England and Wales.
However, there is another side to the story. We do not have a formal procedure for complaints against the police. That is a deficiency, and it is my regret that the Labour Government were not able to introduce the necessary legislation when they were in power. It would be ill advised for any hon. Member representing a Scottish constituency to believe that there is any cause for complacency about relationships between the police and the public. I remember when the relationships were a good deal less friendly and when there was a good deal more friction than there is now. That was particularly true—it is relevant to clause 4 of the Bill—in 1968 or 1969 when the controversy about the stop and search practice for offensive weapons was at its height in Scotland. There was tremendous publicity and controversy. There was also much worry in Scotland about police harassment of young people.
Relationships between the police and the public can deteriorate quickly, and in my view clause 4 will contribute to their deterioration. In that context, I refer to the stop and search powers contained in clause 4. This proposal has a long history. It dates back to before the recommendations of the Scottish Council on Crime. One of its recommendations, which is not contained in the Bill, was that the powers should be introduced over a trial period. The Scottish Council on Crime—if not the present Government —recognised the potential difficulties and dangers from the introduction of powers of this sort.
My hon. Friend the Member for Renfrewshire, West (Mr. Buchan) will remember the incidents during 1968 and 1969 when he was a junior Minister at the Scottish Office with responsibility for the matter. At that time the subject was considered carefully, but we reached the conclusion that to introduce this power with its potentiality for abuse could seriously damage relationships between the police and the public in Scotland and that abuses could lead to considerable infringements of civil liberties.
834 I believe that that argument is equally valid today. In fact, it is even more valid today, because if we take account of the other provisions of the Bill, particularly the provision for detention, it is by no means clear that the power contained in clause 4 is necessary—if a power of detention is provided in the Bill. There are circumstances—for example, in dealing with the commission of an offence involving an offensive weapon—in which the power might be justified. At present the police have the power of arrest, and that power will remain, whatever provisions are included in clause 4. However, if clause 2 is accepted in its present form, in future if a constable has any suspicion he will be able to use the new powers of detention, and he will be able to take a suspected individual to the police station and search him there.
My hon. Friend the Member for Glasgow, Garscadden (Mr. Dewar) asked why the new power is needed. If it will not make very much difference, it is redundant. If it is intended to make a considerable difference to the law, it can only be in the sense that the power will be used for searches in the street. We object to that, because that is where the danger will arise. The potentiality of the danger for abuse arises specifically from the power given to a police constable to search individuals in the streets.
Admittedly, there are safeguard provisions about reasonable grounds of suspicion and so on, but we all know that in practice this sort of power could be easily abused. If the clause is accepted, and the power is used to a significant extent, it will considerably prejudice relationships between the police and many young people, and that will spill over to the rest of the community and seriously damage relationships between the police and the public. Where the action is not justified, it is an invasion of privacy and an invasion of civil liberties.
There has never been a case which would have justified this provision. I understand the emotion behind the argument that the power should be used in relation to offensive and dangerous weapons, but in reality I do not believe that the provision would be desirable, and I am not sure that it is necessary, given the provision in clause 2.
§ Mr. Younger
Will the right hon. Gentleman explain why he thinks that it is acceptable for a person to be searched in that way for dangerous drugs but not for dangerous weapons?
Searching for dangerous drugs is not open to abuse in the same way as searching for offensive weapons. The circumstances in which such searches might take place are more restricted than those for offensive weapons. Any power of search given to the police, including searching intending passengers at airports, is in a sense an attack on civil liberties. I do not dispute the later powers in the Bill with regard to searching people attending football matches, searches for dangerous drugs or searches at airports. The circumstances and locations of such searches are circumscribed by the potential or suspected offences, but that does not apply to searches for offensive weapons.
I know the hon. Gentleman's interest in these matters and I hope that he will make his speech later. [HON. MEMBERS: "No!"] Perhaps much later, atfer 10 o'clock.
§ Mr. Griffiths
I am trying to understand the right hon. Gentleman's thought process. It appears that he has no rigid objection to searches for drugs, for the purpose of airport security or for alcohol on coaches or at football grounds, but he objects to searches for offensive weapons. What is the fundamental distinction? Why does the right hon. Gentleman assume that the police will abuse their powers? They, too, are subject to discipline and to the law.
I am merely saying that the provision is open to abuse. In view of the problem of the relationship between the police and young people in urban areas, one must accept that the provision is open to abuse. I believe that the police would accept that. They may argue that they would not abuse the power but not that it was not open to abuse. I have already dealt with the other matters raised by the hon. Gentleman.
The provisions in part I of the Bill dealing with powers of detention also give rise to controversy. We have to 836 reconcile two interests that may conflict. That applies not only to detention but also to powers of arrest. There is the right of the citizen and the need to prosecute crime, bring the guilty to trial and, hopefully, conviction. It is not right to approach the matter purely from the standpoint of rights of the citizen. Equally, it is wrong to take an approach that is obsessed with the need for successful prosecutions and ignores or belittles the rights of the citizen.
The Thomson report put the point well. In paragraph 2.01 it quotes Lord Justice-General Cooper on the conflict:Neither of these objects can be insisted upon to the uttermost. The protection of the citizen is primarily protection for the innocent citizen against unwarranted, wrongful and perhaps highhanded interference, and the common sanction is an action of damages. The protection is not intended as a protection for the guilty citizen against the efforts of the public prosecutor to vindicate the law. On the other hand, the interest of the State cannot be magnified to the point of causing all the safeguards for the protection of the citizen to vanish, and of offering a positive inducement to the authorities to proceed by irregular methods.There is a gap in the law with regard to powers of detention. I do not agree with the provisions in the Bill, but I still believe, as I did when I was Secretary of State, that the law should cover that gap. Paragraph 3.10 of Thomson states:If, as Lord Cameron put it … a person is either arrested or is not: there is no halfway house', and if arrest is competent only when police enquiries have reached the stage at which there is sufficient evidence to charge, it follows that the police have no power to detain a person whom they have reasonable grounds to suspect of a crime unless and until the evidence against him is sufficiently corroborated to justify reporting him to the procurator fiscal. If the police wish a suspect to remain in a particular place or to go to a police station pending further enquiry they must persuade him to do so voluntarily, and this can lead … to an artificial situation in which the suspect is technically a volunteer but is in practice not a free agent.That is what happens now.
Some of my hon. Friends may argue that the law should be left as it is. However, I do not agree. I believe that it leads to artificial and highly unsatisfactory situations that abuse a person's civil rights when he voluntarily accompanies a police officer to a police station. He probably will not know his rights. None of us is sure of the law in such a situation. A person who goes voluntarily to a police 837 station has no idea of his rights with regard to answering questions or how long he can be detained.
It is unrealistic to believe that the position will change without a change in the law. These abuses, irregularities and perhaps even illegalities will not simply disappear. The law should be regularised so that the police and the citizens know their rights. If the police step outside their rights and offend against the law, the necessary action, whether disciplinary or action for damages, should be taken against them.
If we are to change the law, we must get the changes right and make sure that they are acceptable. If we produce legislation that contains provisions offensive to many people, including those professionally concerned, it will be a considerable mistake.
§ Mr. Alexander W. Lyon
My right hon. Friend mentions the possibility of the police abusing the law by way of irregularities. If the provisions in the Bill come into effect, there will be other irregularities that they can engage in. The Bill will move the barrier between civil liberties and police powers a little more in favour of the police, and the opportunity for irregularities may therefore be extended.
That is always possible. It is certainly possible if we do not get the drafting of the legislation right. If we get the drafting of the legislation right, we can write in protections for the citizen which will make it more difficult for irregularities to take place. That would be one of my objectives in dealing with this part of the Bill.
§ Mr. Michael Ancram (Edinburgh, South)
At the moment the right hon. Gentleman seems to be talking about irregularities. Does he accept that in many cases these are now regarded by the law as regularities? In particular, since the case of Hartley v. Her Majesty's Advocate of a year and a half ago, the courts have found no unfairness in a youth being held for 12 hours before he confessed.
I do not want to deal with individual cases, but, of course, many of these events are not irregular. There is nothing to prevent a citizen from volunteering to help the police 838 with their inquiries. There is nothing illegal or necessarily irregular about that. But at the moment the policeman and the citizen are not an on equal footing on this matter, for if the policeman knows the law, the citizen does not. The citizen will often co-operate, in circumstances in which he has no particular wish to co-operate, because he is not aware of his rights. He is perhaps apprehensive that if he does not cooperate, something more disagreeable will happen to him, such as being placed under formal arrest. That is not a satisfactory position. That does not mean to say that it is illegal or even, in many circumstances, irregular, but it is not satisfactory, and I should like to make the law satisfactory. That was why we introduced certain provisions in the Labour Government's Bill which fell with the election.
The Government have mishandled this area of the Bill very badly, both in terms of tile changes they have made as compared with what was in our Bill and also in terms of the further provisions of the present Bill. First, they have increased the powers of detention from four hours to six hours—admittedly on the basis of the Thomson recommendation. We had provision for four hours in our Bill. In my view, no more than four hours is necessary. Even with an unco-operative suspect, the period of four hours is more than adequate to elicit any information —if, indeed, that is the purpose of the exercise—from him. There is protection in the Bill about answering questions, just as there was in the Labour Government's Bill.
Secondly, the inclusion of the provision for fingerprinting is a great mistake. It very considerably increases the powers of the police in this regard. It was specifically excluded from the Labour Government's Bill. That provision should be removed from the Bill.
Even worse than that, the Secretary of State has removed a provision that was in the original Bill—although he did not mention it—which would have allowed continuation of detention after six hours on an application to a magistrate, so that the whole process could continue. Although the Government have now responded to pressure in the other place, their original intention gave justifiable concern to those who felt that the whole balance 839 was being tilted far too much in favour of police powers and far too much against the suspected person. When we take these differences from the Labour Government's Bill, along with the powers of stop and search, which I have already mentioned, and the original provisions concerning judicial examination in clause 6, to which I shall come shortly, it is clear that the balance of the Bill is wrong. Although the Government have made certain changes in the light of criticisms made in the other place and elsewhere, the Bill is still wrong.
We have to reconsider the whole of this part of the Bill in relation to the length of time for which a person may be detained, the fingerprinting provision, and the rest. These are all related to clause 2. We also have to look again at the provisions concerning witnesses, although some change has been made in clause 1, which is now basically the same as in the Labour Government's Bill. Nevertheless, the Government's intentions have given rise to considerable concern, and this must be taken into account before we allow the Bill to be put on the statute book.
§ The Under-Secretary of State for Scotland (Mr. Malcolm Rifkind)
The right hon. Gentleman is seeking to justify to the House the fact that, despite having a power of detention in his own Bill, he is advising his hon. Friends, in the reasoned amendment, to vote against what are described as the excessive detention powers in the Government's Bill. So far, he has mentioned only two points of difference —the six hours' detention instead of four hours, and the right to take fingerprints. I think he would accept that that alone is not a particularly good reason to stand on his head and vote against powers that he introduced.
With respect to the hon. Gentleman, I mentioned three provisions. I believe that, even taken by themselves, these are sufficient reasons.
Public opinion has moved very sharply against the Bill, largely because the Government, in their original provisions—and it is true of the Bill even as it stands at present—tilted the balance very considerably in favour of the police and against the suspected person. That was a profound mistake, and many of the problems that the Government now have flow from that way of drafting the Bill. My 840 comment applies also to the stop and search powers as a whole.
We have to look at the Bill as a whole, particularly part I. The Government have tilted the balance in the wrong way. They have given many responsible people the impression that they are less concerned with the rights of the citizens than with getting successful prosecutions at all costs. The Government have made a profound mistake. Therefore, these matters ought to be looked at.
The question of witnesses will have to be looked at again, under clause 1, as will the matter of access to solicitors, under clause 3. That is important, as is the matter of access to another person, although I accept that there is need for a provision that will allow delay in certain circumstances. I do not think that that argument applies with the same force with regard to solicitors, and it needs to be looked at again.
If we are to have any of these provisions, it would be sensible to accept for a trial period the suggestion that was made by the Scottish Council on Crime concerning stop and search. In my view, it would be sensible to apply that concept of a trial period to all the provisions in the first four clauses and not simply to clause 4 on stop and search. An amendment to that end was moved in another place but was turned down by the Government.
§ The Solicitor-General for Scotland (Mr. Nicholas Fairbairn)
When did the light dawn on the right hon. Gentleman? I do not remember anything about the equivalent provisions in his Bill being for a trial period.
I am trying to explain that the provisions in the Bill are not the same as the provisions in the Labour Government's Bill. What is more, there is considerably increased public concern about the provisions in the Bill, including the new provisions on stop and search, as compared with the provisions in the Labour Government's Bill. We cannot give consent to the Bill as it stands. I am not impressed by arguments about the law of England, and so on, and I hope that the Government will not try to rely on those arguments.
I should like to make s, me brief comments on the other parts of the Bill and 841 to deal with them in the order in which they appear in the Bill. With. regard to clause 6, on judicial examination, I should not want to turn that down out of hand, but it is a very considerable change in the law. It may be technically a reversal to a previous position under Scots law, but it is a very considerable change. It is quite misleading for the Secretary of State to say that it is not an attack on the right of silence. It is an attack on the right of silence, because silence, under these provisions, can be construed as some kind of admission of guilt. I am using the term in a non-legal sense. It can certainly be put against the accused at his trial that he was not willing to answer questions at the judicial examination. There is a very important principle involved here, and there is no point in Conservative Members denying it.
The Secretary of State described what is in the clause, but he did not say that the clause has been significantly amended in another place. The right hon. Gentleman has had a great deal of trouble with the Bill. He will recollect that the clause, as drafted in another place, was much wider in providing what was to be admissible in judicial examinations than was intended by Thomson, or is intended by the Bill as it is now drafted. I accept that it may have been wider because of sloppy drafting, but it was far too widely drawn. I admit that it has been amended. It has been improved by the amendments moved in another place.
There is still considerable anxiety about the scope of questioning that would be allowed. There is still anxiety about the role of the prosecutor as distinct from the role of the presiding judge in the judicial examination. The provisions follow Thomson, but the legal profession is worried.
The role of the accused's solicitor is circumscribed. I think I am right in saying that in the clause as originally drafted and introduced in another place there was no role for the solicitor for the accused—
The Minister will be handling the Bill in Committee. Some of my hon. Friends and some Conservative Members will be fortunate enough to 842 be members of the Committee. I do not include myself in that category. I have heard enough of the hon. Gentleman on housing to last me a long time.
I think that I am right in saying that originally the clause provided no rights for accused's solicitors. That is an issue that will have to be carefully examined in Committee.
Clause 15 deals with the intermediate diet. I welcome it. I do not know how the system will work out in practice, but it deals with the problem of pleas of guilty being tendered at the last minute after much expense has been entered into. I discussed the matter, as Secretary of State, with the Law Society. We were not able to reach a sensible conclusion by administrative means. I welcome the clause and I hope that it will work.
Clause 23 seeks to reduce the peremptory challenge. I am against reducing that challenge from five jurors to one. If it is reduced to one, I see no good reason for having the peremptory challenge. The right peremptorily to challenge one juror would be derisory. The Government would be extremely foolish to enact that provision.
In Scotland we have managed to do without jury vetting. The Lord Advocate said recently that he hopes to continue to do without it. We have avoided that controversy. However, if we are to reduce the peremptory challenge to one, and thereby force challenge to be given with cause, it will not be long before we have jury vetting in Scotland. I shall deplore that. I hope that the Government will drop the clause. If they want to make a reduction, they should not move from five to one, which would make the right derisory.
I welcome clause 24, which gives right of access to a jury at least for providing its members with food and drink. It puts right an unfortunate provision in the law.
I welcome in general terms clauses 32 and 36 and the accompanying schedules on appeals. As the Secretary of State has said, on summary appeals the clauses and the schedules follow very much the amendments that the previous Labour Government introduced while taking their Criminal Justice Bill through the House. Those amendments were never discussed.
843 We must consider the concept of new trials extremely carefully. I agree with Lord McCluskey on the issue of new trials in solemn procedure. The right hon. Gentleman admitted that there is a problem about publicity for a new trial under solemn procedure. The previous trial may have received a tremendous amount of publicity and it will be difficult to get a new jury that is able to clear its mind of everything that has gone before. The right hon. Gentleman said that the publicity might work in one direction or another. That seems to miss the point. I do not want the publicity to work in one direction or another. I do not want there to be any prejudice, whether in favour of the accused or against him at a retrial. It is difficult to avoid that under solemn procedure. I am not happy but, again, it is an issue that can be considered in Committee.
Clause 42 deals with mandatory recommendations by judges on murder verdicts. I hope that the right hon. Gentleman will drop the provision to make recommendations mandatory. It is completely misguided. It is a topic that appeared in the right hon. Gentleman's election manifesto. I must be careful and refrain from saying that we should pay no attention to what appears in manifestos, as such a comment might be quoted against me in another context. However, the present system works perfectly well. I know from personal experience as Secretary of State that the judges and the Parole Board are involved. A mandatory recommendation would be a recommendation of no binding statutory effect. I believe that the Government should accept the decision of another place and leave well alone.
Clauses 56 to 65 deal with compensation by offenders, I welcome these clauses. The proposed system, which is rather less complicated than that recommended by the Dunpark committee, is an improvement. I hope that it will work.
Clauses 66 to 75 turn on football hooliganism. These are matters that can-be considered in detail in Committee. I believe that the general thrust of the provisions in the clauses is right. The previous Labour Government said that they intended to introduce similar legislation following the McElhone report.
844 It seems that there is considerable and legitimate concern about the problem of violence at football matches, hooliganism and the extent to which that arises from drink, especially in Scotland. The McElhone report made various recommendations to football authorities and others. It also made recommendations to the Government. If we expect football authorities to carry out the recommendations made to them—I certainly expect them to do so, and some of them are making an effort—it is only right for them to ask the Government of the day to implement the parts of the report that involve legislation.
There are difficulties in making such legislation enforceable and effective. However, I took the view as Secretary of State that every attempt should be made to make the provisions as effective and enforceable as possible. I think that the right hot). Gentleman should give greater guidance on how he intends to designate sporting grounds. He will cause considerable offence—in my view legitimate offence—to football supporters if he says that these provisions will apply only at football matches and not at other major sporting events in Scotland.
Clause 76 relates to vandalism. I do not believe that there is one hon. Member who is not deeply concerned about vandalism and who does not wish to see everything possible done by the law, and in every other way, to reduce its incidence. It causes considerable offence in the public eye and to the rights of ordinary citizens. I want to see it considerably reduced. Unfortunately, the provisions within clause 76 are cosmetic. The clause makes no difference to the legal situation. In no meaningful sense does it create a new offence. It does not provide for increased penalties. It is a highly undesirable way of dealing with the problem. It attempts to give the impression to the public that something is being done when nothing is being done. We are not in favour of the clause.
§ Mr. Albert McQuarrie (Aberdeenshire, East)
Would not the right hon. Gentleman agree that if it did nothing else, bringing in the word "vandalism" instead of the phrase "malicious mischief" would do something to fight against those against whom he says that we should fight?
§ Mr. Millan
I wish I believed that. If I did, I would be in favour even of a cosmetic operation. However, I do not believe that for one moment.
§ Mr. Peter Fraser (South Angus)
Would not the right hon. Gentleman agree that within the legal system in Scotland we already deploy the technique of giving specific names to crimes which we abhor? At one time in the law of Scotland we had the quaint crime of "hamesucken", which was assault within the home. Now, the most obvious and best example is the crime of rape. The law of assault would cover anything done within the abomination of rape, but we give it a specific name because we detest that crime.
§ Mr. Millan
I am not sure about that. Even if it is true, giving it a specific name does not stop the incidence of rape. I am concerned about stopping the incidence of vandalism and I do not believe that giving it a name will help. However, I do not want to argue the point at any length. I simply believe that this is a cosmetic and dishonest exercise and I am against it.
I sum up by saying that of course there are some provisions of the Bill that are good and that we positively welcome. I referred to some of them during my speech. Therefore, it is not possible to say that the whole Bill is undesirable. I agree with the Secretary of State at least to the extent that any criticism which suggests that the whole of the Bill is undesirable is misguided. However, the Bill is flawed as regards the matters that are the subject of our reasoned amendment. It is flawed both in the way in which it has been drafted and also in the way in which the Government have dealt with it.
The attitude the Government have adopted towards critics of the Bill is that they are misguided and misinformed and have not read the Bill. The Secretary of State said that critics do not know what they are talking about and should leave the Bill to the virtues, right thinking and experience of the Government. But in a matter of this importance it is not sensible to legislate only on the basis of what the Government think is right, even when they are acting on recommendations made by distinguished committees, to whom I also pay tribute. It is necessary to take informed opinion on these matters as 846 well as getting things right in terms of the rights of individual citizens. I believe that, on the matters which are the subject of our reasoned amendment, the Government have signally failed to do that and that is why we shall press our amendment tonight.
§ Mr. David Steel (Roxburgh, Selkirk and Peebles)
I can begin on a note with which the Secretary of State will agree. It is unfortunate that the controversy surrounding part I has tended to detract from the merits of other parts of the measure. None the less, it is right that I should say at the outset that the flaws, as the right hon. Member for Glasgow, Craigion (Mr. Millan) put it, in part I are of such a substantial nature that it is right for me to advise my right hon. and hon. Friends to vote against the Bill this evening.
I also apologise for the fact that, due to an unavoidable prior commitment outside the House, I shall not be present for the whole of the debate. However, in mitigation, I shall impose a self-denying 10-minute rule and deal with part I of the Bill only. Before I do that, I should say that one argument was used by the Secretary of State of which I hope we shall hear no more as the Bill proceeds, and that was the extraordinary admission that considerations of public expenditure were dictating the section of the Bill that deals with the requirement for there to be one witness only on minor traffic offences.
I believe that I am right in saying that there is only one precedent in Scottish law for a court allowing uncorroborated evidence. The Solicitor-General for Scotland shakes his head. Perhaps I should say that there is one precedent with which I am familiar. It is the Tweed Act 1950, which refers to poaching in my constituency. That is not a happy precedent or one which finds much favour among my constituents.
It may be that we should accept this small alteration in respect of minor traffic offences, but let us do it on its merits and not out of considerations about public expenditure. After all courts and justice are expensive and I do not think that such an argument should be adduced.
847 It must be admitted that the Bill as we now have it in the House is a substantial improvement on the horrifying mess that it was when it entered the other place. I pay tribute to my noble Friends in the other place for the work that they did to improve the Bill. I refer especially to the work of Lord Foot, who, though not a Scottish Member, took a considerable interest in the Bill because of its implications, to which I shall turn later, for the rest of the United Kingdom.
I am never attracted by the argument that something the Government propose is more acceptable because it bears a resemblance to something which a previous Government proposed. This should automatically arouse suspicions rather than approbation in the House. It is extraordinary that a Conservative Government are now bringing forward some proposals which they actually opposed while in Opposition, while the official Opposition spokesman has just, rather unconvincingly, opposed some parts of a Bill which he introduced. At one stage in the right hon. Gentleman's argument, I thought that the great philosophical gulf between the onward march of Socialism against reactionary Conservatism was a matter of two hours. I found that extremely unconvincing. Is the Solicitor-General seeking to intervene at this stage, or has he changed his mind?
§ The Solicitor-General for Scotland
I should just like to ask the right hon. Gentleman which measures the Government have proposed which they previously opposed when in Opposition, and which measures the Opposition have opposed which they previously proposed when in Government. We do not all have the benefit of being Liberals, and therefore we do not find it natural to face in both directions on every issue.
§ Mr. Steel
I promised to be brief, so I must move on. This clause has already been referred to in the debate.
My principal objection to the two features of part I is that the Government are pleading that these flow from the recommendations of the Thomson committee. Yet it must be accepted, surely, that that committee recommended the new powers of detention only in the context of safeguards which are not included in the Bill. It seems to me, therefore, that the Government have been highly selective in their approach to the reports of that committee, quoting parts of it which happened to suit them and ignoring other parts. For that reason, I believe that we are right to be critical of the Government's proposal to proceed with a new form of detention without charge and also without the safeguards which the independent committee recommended.
I believe I am right in saying also that the police, in evidence to the Thomson committee, did not ask for these powers. We have not heard any argument so far as to why the Government have decided to proceed with these powers. Surely the nub of the argument, both on detention and on increasing the powers of search beyond those which already exist under the 1953 legislation, is about the effect this is likely to have on relationships between the police and the rest of the community.
I am very disturbed about the deteriorating relationship between the police and certain sections of the community—and I use that phrase advisedly. There is a generation gap here. In the cities there are certain members of the younger generation who appear to be developing antipolice attitudes, which should be extremely worrying to Members of the House. We should debate very carefully before we get into any detail—this is what Second Reading is about—the whole philosophy behind these two measures.
The Government's attitude appears to be that if there is an unacceptable level of undetected crime, the way to tackle it is to increase the powers of the police in these two respects. I argue that that basic philosophy is wrong. The Government should analyse why there is a difference, both in the general crime rate and 849 in the detection rate, between the smaller communities such as those in my own constituency and the cities.
Without going into a long philosophical harangue about the nature of city life, the lack of neighbourliness and so on, let us look at police methods and the facts of police manning as between, say, my constituency and the big cities. In my constituency, by its very nature, the police force is small. The police personnel live in the very small communities, where the offenders also live, and the result is an integration of the police with the community. This is not in any artificial sense; not in terms of the community schemes to which reference was made earlier; not in terms of what the Home Secretary was referring to the other day in Bristol, about service on community relations councils. It is in the ordinary life of the community, outside the life of the policeman wearing his official uniform.
The result is that when crime is committed there is a natural network of information and a natural network of trust and communication between the police in the community and the community that they are policing. I think that we have lost part of that in the big cities. From my observations on going around some of our cities, the tendency over the years in policing has been to move away from the man on the beat and from the small local community police station to the new centralised police building, with all its advantages of modern equipment, coupled with the panda car. The result is that there is not the involvement of the police with the local community that there used to be. Instead of that, the police are seen as almost an alien, outside force coming into a community in panda cars whenever there is trouble, and they are not of the community.
It seems to me that that is the basic mistake that has been made. It is a trend that has been going on over the years. If we want to tackle the problems that lie behind these two proposals in the Bill, we should do it by adopting a deliberate policy of getting the police back into the communities. If that were to happen, I think that there would be no need to bring forward proposals of this kind.
The argument is really about the balance between greater and more effective crime control, and a proper respect for 850 civil liberties and individual freedom. Of course, it can be argued that greater security is as important a component part of the citizen's liberty as his individual freedom. But I think that if one is to argue that, the sacrifices of individual liberty must obviously be worth while. I think that that is where this part of the Bill falls down. The Government have not demonstrated their case for it.
But the other balance that we have to maintain is that between better crime control and the trust, confidence and good will of all sections of the community. I think that the accusation can be levelled that the Bill is guilty of substantial overkill in this respect. I do not want to sound complacent about crime levels in Scotland or about their seriousness, but I sometimes think that some of the speeches that we hear about crime only exaggerate the picture and that we tend to forget the scale of lawlessness in our big cities, for example, in the last century. But, even if one looks at the criminal statistics for 1978 in Scotland, one finds that murders were down by 33 per cent., theft was down by 27,000 cases, malicious damage was down by 4 per cent., housebreaking was down and there was a 1½ per cent. improvement in the detection rate. That is good news, and it ought to be shouted much more from the rooftops, without in any way diminishing the underlying serious problems that remain.
The pay rises for the police have reduced by 60 per cent. the shortage in authorised manpower. That in itself will help.
§ Mr. Barry Henderson (Fife, East)
I entirely accept the figures that the right hon. Gentleman has given about these welcome reductions in the past year, but to take just one, that for malicious damage, where the right hon. Gentleman said there had been a 4 per cent. reduction on the previous year, on that same set of figures it has, none the less, if my memory is correct, risen from 15,000 in 1968 to very nearly 50,000 in the year in which he said we had had a welcome reduction of 4 per cent.
§ Mr. Steel
I had already said twice that I did not want in any way to be complacent about the levels of crime. What I am saying is that it is not all bad news. The fact that there has been 851 a slight downturn is something to which we ought to give greater prominence.
Another major fear, which explains the concern in the other place and here on the part of Members outside Scotland, is that this measure could turn out to be a sort of Trojan horse for the rest of the United Kingdom. It is a fair point to make that the Royal Commission on criminal procedure in England and Wales, which is about to report, has been doing far more detailed and thorough research than has been available to us in Scotland. For that reason also, this is a particularly unfortunate time to be bringing forward these two proposals.
We oppose them in principle. I shall leave the discussion of the detailed parts of the Bill to the Committee or Report stages but I wish to indicate the strong opposition of myself and my colleagues to the two provisions contained in part I.
§ 6.5 pm
§ Mr. Alex Pollock (Moray and Nairn)
It is safe to say that the people of Scotland will be looking at Parliament with a very critical eye and listening with a very critical ear to our discussions on this Bill. We are debating the Bill at a time when there is a very real sense of disquiet among the Scottish people about society's capacity, through its legal institutions, to combat crime. Here I would, with respect, immediately take issue with the right hon. Member for Roxburgh, Selkirk and Peebles (Mr. Steel). It is a constant theme in my constituency, and I believe that the Scottish public are most anxious to ensure that Parliament can preserve that fundamental balance that weighs the detection and conviction of the truly guilty against the innocent individual and the public at large.
It is generally accepted that the Bill represents the most important change in Scottish criminal law for many years. Its radical basis is highlighted by the fact that it contrasts sharply with much of the tradition of the Scottish criminal law and its development, which has relied hitherto largely on evolution through court decisions rather than imposed statutory change. For that reason, if for no other, it is of vital importance that Parliament is seen to address its collective mind with the utmost care to the changes proposed, so that the people of Scotland do not feel that the Bill is being foisted 852 upon them without the fullest possible public debate.
Much of that critical analysis must await the Committee stage, but perhaps on Second Reading I may be allowed to sound a word or two of caution. As a comparatively new Member, I have had to get used to the pressures of the lobby and the pressure group on a wide variety of topics. Some draw attention to the possible dangers of impending legislation. Others wait until the Committee stage before they fire off the full range of their artillery. Sadly, and to my mind suspiciously, in the case of this Bill many opponents did neither. Instead, they chose to assert to me their total opposition to the Bill and its contents well before they had even been published. Such attacks demean the quality of informed opposition and do little to bring about informed discussion about this major piece of legislation, for, if opponents are prepared to condemn without examination, what weight is properly to be given to their perhaps orchestrated anxieties? I venture to suggest that it is very little indeed.
For my part, as a member of the Scots Bar, much of whose practice has been spent in both prosecuting and defending in the Scottish criminal courts, I do not intend to follow blindly the Government's advice. I shall not give it any automatic Pavlovian response. Instead, I intend to base my judgment upon my own convictions based on experience in the Scottish courts, and I shall pay little attention, if any, to the blandishments of the pressure groups to which I have already referred.
§ Mr. Robert Hughes (Aberdeen, North)
Is the hon. Gentleman saying, for example, in his advice to me, that I should disregard the brief which I received today from the Glasgow Bar Association?
§ Mr. Pollock
I would advise the hon. Gentleman that in the case of the brief of the Glasgow Bar Association he would be well advised to hasten very slowly, as perhaps that association ought to have done.
I turn to the main provisions of the Bill. I think that I can safely assert that much of what it contains will be regarded as non-contentious and, indeed, wholly beneficial. The most obvious example is perhaps the reform of the stated case 853 procedure dealing with summary appeals. Over the years it has been recognised on all sides that that is the most unsatisfactory vehicle for allowing appeal to he brought to a higher court. It has caused embarrassment to the client, to counsel and to the bench. I cannot believe that the proposed reforms will be anything but welcome to both sides of the House.
It would be difficult to maintain too spirited an opposition to the revival of the judicial examination as part of criminal procedure. Scotland, unlike its southern counterpart, does not have the doctrine of habeas corpus. Instead, it relies upon an accused person being brought before a court at the earliest possible opportunity. In recent times the first appearance has been largely formal. It is now intended to revive the importance of that first appearance, and I believe that that can do nothing hut good. It affords the defence a genuine opportunity to lay the groundwork for a defence of substance that can be adduced at the subsequent trial. That can only benefit the true administration of justice.
As hon. Members from the Bar and those who are solicitors will know, in the past a defence has been able far too often to sit back with arms folded. It waits to see the strength of the prosecution's case. The defence need not give a single clue about its attitude to the case until the case is so well advanced that it has seen most of the prosecution's hand. The defence may then choose to plead alibi, incrimination or accident. Such tactics do the cause of justice nothing but harm.
It is preferable that the court should know as soon as possible the line of defence that an accused person intends to take. That is to the good of the truly innocent and allows the defence of alibi, accident and so on to be established at the earliest opportunity. The truly innocent accused can be seen to have given a consistent account from shortly after arrest until the trial diet itself. That is likely to carry more weight with the jury than does the present haphazard and lazy system.
Equally important for the sake of public confidence is the opportunity for an accused person to comment at a reasonably early stage on what is some- 854 times described as "extra-judicial confessions". These are allegedly made by the defendant to the police well in advance of the trial. Anyone connected with the defence of accused persons in Scotland will be able to recall cases where, as the preparation for a trial proceeded, the accused was reminded by his counsel or solicitor of confessions or statements that he was purported to have made to the police. They may recall that the defendant made no adverse comment. When the trial came and the prosecution evidence had been given, the defendant still made no criticism of those statements.
It is often only when the accused is in the witness box that, in desperation, he starts to cast aspersions on the quality of police evidence. In the interests of justice, that is no time for such an attack to be mounted. It does little good to the accused, to the police or to the innocent public at large. I therefore welcome this measure as it seeks to provide an early opportunity for a statement of the accused's case to be made before an independent sheriff.
One of the provisions that seems to have caused hysterical outbursts in certain quarters is that of the right to search for offensive weapons. It is alleged that that would exacerbate ill feeling between the police and the public. I assure the House that it will not be resented by the ethnic and innocent majority of my constituents who are law-abiding and who do not carry weapons. They are greatly alarmed by the increasing habit, especially among young people, of carrying such weapons almost as a matter of course.
§ Mr. Buchan
Did we hear aright when we heard the hon. Gentleman refer to the "ethnic" members of his constituency? What is he trying to suggest? Is he suggesting that it would be OK if they were black? Did he mean "ethnic"?
§ Mr. Pollock
The hon. Gentleman may not have listened too closely to earlier contributions. Strong hints were given by some Opposition Members that this power was open to abuse and might lead to harassment of certain ethnic minorities. I speak for the majority of my constituents—an ethnic majority as it happens, although I make no point about that—who are innocent law-abiding citizens. They are not in the habit of carrying weapons. 855 This measure is seen by them as a welcome indication of the Government's intention to act forcibly on their manifesto pledge to improve the fight against crime in Scotland.
If any hon. Member is sceptical about that assertion, he should go to a typical High Court trial in Scotland. He should listen to the usual evidence given by witnesses in any run-of-the-mill trial for assault. One of the most striking features of such trials is the youthfulness of the accused and the frequency with which weapons, such as knives, are carried. A tragic sequence of events is unfolded almost daily in those courts. A young person may go out to a dance and casually pick up a knife from the kitchen of his house on the way out. Some hours later, full of drink, he may indulge in a mad assault on a person known or unknown to him. Given that sequence of events, the stop and search provisions are understandable and defensible.
Far too often an incident that without the use of weapons would have amounted to a run-of-the-mill breach of the peace escalates into a tragic High Court trial of great significance, merely because of some unthinking youngster knows that it is the done thing among his colleagues to go out at the weekend with a weapon up their sleeves or in their denim trousers. When followed by drink, that can result in tragedy.
§ Mr. Robert Hughes
One of the aspects of the stop and search clause that bothers us is the circumstances in which the police may exercise that power. The Bill makes clear that there is supposed to be reasonable suspicion that an offence has been committed. The hon. Gentleman described a set of circumstances in which someone goes out from the house, casually picks up a knife from the kitchen on his way to a dance, later becomes drunk and uses it. How does this clause stop that man from being involved in an offence? Perhaps the police are being given powers to carry out random searches, for example in a dance hall. That does not constitute reasonable suspicion of an individual. Perhaps the hon. Gentleman will explain precisely how this clause can affect the individual in the circumstances that he has described and so prevent crime.
§ Mr. Pollock
The hon. Member for Aberdeen, North (Mr. Hughes) should bear in mind that for many of our young 856 people a Friday or Saturday night's entertainment can stretch over a long period. They may leave the house at six or seven o'clock in the evening on their own. If they happen to meet a police constable, it would be hard for the constable to justify a case of stop and search. As the hon. Gentleman must know, the normal pattern is for individuals to meet a number of their cronies. They will drink in one pub for an hour and perhaps move on to another for further hours of heavier and heavier drinking. By 10 o'clock the individual will probably be with a crowd of his colleagues—some might call it a gang. His courage will be bolstered by drink and camaraderie and he will join in shouting gang slogans and songs. If such a crowd is seen by a policeman to be behaving in an aggressive way en route to a disco at 11.30 pm, that is a different picture from the one portrayed by the hon. Member for Aberdeen, North.
§ Mr. Robert Hughes
I am following the hon. Gentleman's argument closely. He is suggesting that the police would regard it as right to stop and search a number of people who were being boisterous.
§ Mr. Hughes
Perhaps the hon. Gentleman will define "aggressive". He says that being aggressive involves shouting gang slogans and singing songs. I am trying to establish at what stage the police will consider that there is ground to suspect that somebody is carrying a weapon.
§ Mr. Pollock
A policeman will take steps on the basis that he will, if necessary, have to satisfy a court that he had reasonable grounds. Such grounds are as various as the inhabitants of the hon. Gentleman's constituency. In a short speech, it is impossible to itemise all circumstances. However, no court of law will have difficulty in establishing a definition. Anything that seeks to anticipate trouble rather than to allow the trouble to happen is welcome.
From listening to some of the critics one would imagine that the de quo of criminal law reform is whether it maintains good relations between the police and the public. Judging by some of the criticisms, it appears that the Bill's opponents are more concerned with the criminal public than with the law-abiding public. If the critics manage to maintain 857 successfully their vociferous and often ill-informed criticism, good relations among the criminal element will be preserved. They will be able to laugh all the way to the pub, all the way to the disco and back, free from the fear of lawful search. That method of approach does not commend itself to the decent majority. Most people want active steps to be taken by the Government to give the police realistic powers to do a fair job.
Of course there is a risk of abuse, but that risk is greater if the police are not given the proper tools for the maintenance of law and order. In the Bill the Government are seeking to give the police proper tools. I have no doubt that the courts will make it their business to ensure that the tools are used strictly. If the police have the right tools, society can be assured that they have the means at last to tackle the cancer of crime which has affected so much of our society for such a long time. For those reasons I commend the measure, in broad terms, to the House.
§ Mr. Donald Stewart (Western Isles)
It is unfair of the hon. Member for Moray and Nairn (Mr. Pollock) to ascribe tender feelings toward the criminal element to those who oppose the Bill. I have no qualms about crossing swords with the hon. Gentleman about the Bill. On the basis that warfare is too serious to be left to soldiers, it is apparent that civil liberties are too serious to be left to lawyers.
At the time of the clearances in Ross-shire, the law was always on the side of the landlord. There was a saying "Look out for yourself, the law has come to Ross-shire." If the Bill is passed in its present form, the people of Scotland will be saying "Look out for yourself, the law has come to Scotland."
The Secretary of State accused the Bill's opponents of not having read it or of being unaware of the present practice north and south of the Border. I do not see what that has to do with it. The hon. Member for Edinburgh, Pentlands (Mr. Rifkind) told a Scottish lawyer a few weeks ago that he was ignorant of the law of England. As was said at the time, there is no greater obligation on a Scottish lawyer to be learned in the law 858 of England than in the law of Brazil. It cannot be argued that because a certain law exists in England, Scottish law should fall into line with it. That is the least convincing argument.
§ The Solicitor-General for Scotland
The right hon. Gentleman turns tartan. It is a precept, even of the law of Scotland, that a citizen is presumed to know what the law is. The right hon. Gentleman is in England.
§ Mr. Stewart
I regret that. I hope to have the Solicitor-General's assistance in acquiring my permanent return ticket as soon as possible.
It would be an imposition to detain the House on a clause-by-clause examination of the Bill in a Second Reading debate. I accept that some clauses are necessary and useful. I shall identify the areas which I find most objectionable. The proposed new police powers have received most attention, but other aspects of the Bill require comment and involve the liberty of the subject.
In justification of the Bill, the Secretary of State said that Scotland's prison population was higher than that of many other countries. I have no doubt that it is, and many of us find that offensive and unnecessary. I cannot be accused of being soft with criminals, but many prisoners are serving sentences for minor offences.
The Bill involves a radical extension of police powers. It therefore creates a risk for civil liberty and good police-community relations. The House must examine carefully, and reject where necessary, clauses which jeopardise the rights of free men in a free society. Lord Mansfield said that clauses 1 to 4 had received attention because of the misguided assertions of various vociferous groups and individuals in Scotland. I am glad that there are vociferous groups and individuals. It is a truism that the price of liberty is eternal vigilance. In our desire to reduce crime and to apprehend and punish criminals, we must avoid throwing out the valuable safeguards for innocent persons that form a vital part of our law.
Clause 2 deals with detention and questioning. According to the clause, detention begins only when the person has been takento a police station or other premises".859 There is a possibility of abuse by way of undue delay in the taking. If so minded, the police could take a considerable time in reaching a police station. The Law Society of Scotland recommends that detention should begin at the moment of requirement at the locus of the crime.
The principle of detention is repugnant in itself. Detention, as distinct from arrest, is a new concept in Scottish law. The question of four hours or six hours is irrelevant. What redress is there for wrongful detention? The clause removes the existing remedy. The Bill's supporters claim that the clause clarifies a grey area. It is widely accepted that the police use such powers now. The Thomson Committee virtually recognised this by stating;Inviting persons to police stations should be regularised.The remedy is not to allow the police to make their own law but to see that the existing law is maintained.
§ Mr. Ancram
The right hon. Gentleman will agree that this is an important point. Since the case of Hartley some 14 months ago, the law of Scotland, approved by the appeal court, is that the police can detain for uncontrolled periods without creating unfairness in regard to any confession that a detained person might make. We are not talking about applying laws or regulations at present. We are looking at existing laws that allow this to happen legally and asking whether that should be regularised. That is what the Bill tries to do.
§ Mr. Stewart
That is exactly the point. The Government propose to change the law according to the way the police want it. The Government are falling into line.
To clause 3, dealing with the right to have someone informed when arrested or detained, there should be added the requirement that that person should be informed at the start of his detention that he has this right, conferred by this part of the Bill. There should be no distinction between those who are expert in knowing their rights and those who are not.
Clauses 32 and 33, dealing with schedules 2 and 3, attempt genuine improvements by facilitating retrials where there is fresh evidence. But the clauses give so general a power to order retrial 860 that the concept of the "tholed assize" is to all intents and purposes abolished. As the Law Society of Scotland memorandum comments,It is offensive to natural justice to put a man in peril twice for the same offence.There are other points in the Bill such as the trial proceeding in the absence of the accused, the juror challenge, the fingerprinting and the searches, all of which are offensive and should not be accepted by the House. It has been suggested that, since people are searched before boarding an aircraft, the search is an innocuous and accepted development. That is ridiculous. If I objected to being searched before travelling by air, I could go by sea. There is a choice. No one feels diminished by undergoing a search, because everyone is in the same boat. They understand the reason. It is entirely different when a person is picked up off the street. If Conservative Members think that this proposal will make for good relations with the police, they delude themselves. Nothing will create more "aggro" than that single clause. The Government should be warned.
In an article in The Scotsman today, Professor F. H. McClintock and colleagues from the department of criminology at Edinburgh university put the matter of the Bill into perspective. The article says:It cannot be emphasised enough that the police depend upon public co-operation, not only in tracking down criminals … but even in the elementary task of assenting generalised order. It is always authority and not force which allows them to function.That is a lesson that the Bill ignores. I hope that in Committee the good will be retained and the bad parts of the Bill summarily rejected.
§ Mr. Charles Fletcher-Cooke (Darwen)
I fear that I cannot support my Government in the Lobby tonight, but this is not because there is anything in the Bill that I find offensive. After the brilliantly clear exposition of my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Scotland, I feel more friendly towards it than when I entered the Chamber. The reason why I cannot support the Government is that something very important is omitted from the Bill or, at any rate, omitted from the speech of the Secretary of State.
861 The Thomson report admits, like all of us, that the police must be given greater powers, particularly to question those whom they have not yet arrested and to try to persuade the accused person to disclose his defence at an earlier stage. But even those matters that may be said to impinge on the so-called right to silence should be counterbalanced if the tilt is not to be too great in favour of police powers. The questions of the police and the answers of the accused should be recorded and preserved so that the recordings cannot be interfered with. We are told that there is no need for such a provision in the Bill and that inquiries into ways and means are proceeding administratively.
We have had some experience of this kind of situation south of the border. We have been told for eight years that experiments are proceeding. In those eight long years, there has been not a sign of any sort of fruit of these experiments. There is no doubt, from the arguments used from time to time against the taping and recording of questioning by the police, that the arguments are so derisory as to question the sincerity of those who put them. It is for these rough and cynical reasons that I have come to the conclusion that the police authorities do not wish to see a system of recording introduced and are dragging their feet. Until there is greater promise of a secure and efficient system of recording being produced in evidence, it seems to me that, in the balance that has to be struck between the liberty of the subject and police powers, the police powers should not be increased until the police have shown themselves to be more willing for there to be recording of confessions and interviews—the "verbals" as they are called.
It is said that this is an expensive operation. So it is. To record the procedure and to keep the tapes is an expensive operation. But the expense is trivial compared with the time that is spent in the courts of justice, certainly south of the border and, I dare say, north, in challenging the verbals. The judge power, the witness power, the Bar power and the solicitor power that is occupied, sometimes day after day, in challenging the record in the police notebook or whatever is the case goes on. Nothing is more expensive than court time. I would 862 have thought that every police station or every magistrates' court could be supplied, according to the system that is adopted, with the latest system of videotapes that are superior to the former tapes for reasons that will be obvious to hon. Members. The whole apparatus could be supplied to every police station in exchange, I would guess, for one day of the time of the criminal courts of the United Kingdom.
I do not question the sincerity of my right hon. and hon. Friends on the Government Front Bench. I am sure that they are as keen as Lord Thomson and as keen as my right hon. and learned Friend the present Secretary of State for Education and Science, who, eight years ago, revealed to us that these experiments were taking place in England, but we have heard practically nothing about them since then. The Executive—this is one Executive whether for Scotland, England, Wales or Northern Ireland—must tell the police and those who have undertaken to produce the fruits of this experiment to show us some of those fruits. Not until that is done in a substantial form will I be able to support any increase in police powers whether north or south of the border.
§ Mr. Frank McElhone (Glasgow, Queen's Park)
I wish to confine my detailed comments to clauses 66 to 75. Many hon. Members will recall that I was asked by my right hon. Friend the Member for Glasgow, Craigton (Mr. Milian), when he was Secretary of State for Scotland, to chair a working party on football crowd behaviour. It is fair to say that, when the report was published about a year afterwards, the response was very favourable indeed. Indeed, everyone connected with football wrote and said that it was a workable and practical solution. Having said that, I should point out that it has been an embarrassment to see my name associated with certain clauses of a Conservative Government Bill, and I hope that that is not misunderstood outside the House.
I never claimed that the report would in any way be a panacea. It was accepted that the working party made some practical and far-reaching recommendations, some of which have still to be implemented. I am conscious of this problem 863 if for no other reason than that a young teenager who lives in my constituency is at present fighting for his life in a Glasgow hospital. At a recent match between Rangers and Celtic he was struck by a can, as a result of which his life is seriously at risk.
It is obvious to those who follow football reports that at the two Scottish Cup semi-finals on Saturday last many people were injured as a result of flying cans and bottles. Indeed, I read that at one match more than 100 arrests took place. That is bound to give cause for concern.
Those of us who attend football matches are conscious that youngsters tend to stand at the front of the terracing. The obnoxious thing is that people who throw cans tend to fill them with urine and attempt to throw them at the referee, whom they will never reach. Inevitably, the cans fall at the front of the terracing or hit a policeman who is walking around the terracing. That is where the damage is caused, mostly to young people.
I read with great interest the debates in the other place, in which various Law Lords tried to define a "controlled container". Many arguments and views were advanced. For example, it was felt that hip flasks should be allowed into the grounds. Not many of my constituents attend football matches and take hip flasks with them. While I have no objection to the carrying of a hip flask, it is still a weapon by any legal definition. I am conscious of the difficulty of finding a definition of "container" which will get round many of the problems that were outlined in another place.
However, it is not the hip flask which causes the trouble. The damage is caused by bottles and cans, something of which the working party was extremely conscious. We took evidence from almost everyone connected with football—from the players, the managers, the referees, the club stewards, the ambulance corps, the trade unions, the coach operators and the three police organisations. Almost everyone, including the media, was consulted and gave either oral or written evidence as to how the problem should be tackled. We did not forget the punter, as he is known in Scotland—the ordinary football supporter. Oral evidence was taken from several punters, especially some who had been in trouble. Therefore, the working party made great attempts 864 to understand the problem, and I believe that the composition of the working party indicated that those who served on it were extremely knowledgeable about football and its problems.
During the past few months, as I anticipated this Bill coming onto the Floor of the House and as I thought about the report, I found myself re-examining the question of the sale of alcohol in football grounds. I have recently visited some English grounds, the last of which was at West Ham in London. There one can have a carton of beer or lager in a plastic or paper cup, which seems quite civilised. I do not see why that cannot happen in Scotland. Indeed, paragraph 36 of the working party report stated that after a period of time—it is now three years since that report was first published—we might consider the sale of beer or lager in a controlled way, with the clubs taking responsibility. Such a proposal could be supervised by the police in its early stages.
The clauses to which I am referring dwell strongly on the problem of alcohol at football games. In my experience, it is not really beer or whisky which causes the problem. Indeed, there was one notable occasion when I took Scottish Office officials on to the terracing at a Rangers-Celtic match. As they had never been at a football match, let alone a Rangers-Celtic match, it was quite an experience for them. Rigor mortis almost set in before the first half had finished. Nevertheless, although they gave advice to me as a Minister from their own knowledge, their knowledge was incomplete.
As I said, it is not the beer or whisky which is the problem. Rather, it is the cheap wine which is sold in great amounts, particularly in the area that I represent. One wine in particular, called Lanliq, has a strong potency. If there is one particular alcoholic liquor which causes the problem at football matches, and vandalism and crime in the evening, it is that wine. It is potent and cheap. It looks like whisky when sold across the counters or in off-licences. It is something about which I have been concerned for a considerable time.
We should do something about the problem of cheap wine and the beverages, such as cider, which are mixed with it. It drives young people crazy, and often they are not aware of what they are 865 doing when they start throwing missiles and cause so much damage. That is something of which the Committee might take account.
The clubs themselves have a responsibility. All too often many choose to ignore the problem. They are concerned about their League placing or Cup position and not so much about the problem within their grounds. I am pleased to say that in recent times a number of clubs have started to take steps. I mention only two. Rangers and Aberdeen are spending a lot of money on the installation of seating, which I believe will go some way towards helping the police identify those who may misbehave in the way that I have described. Others, including Mr. Desmond White, the chairman of Celtic, have recently taken a strong stand in respect of those fans who misbehaved abroad. I think particularly of the recent match in Spain.
Clauses 67, 68 and 69 relate mostly to fans travelling on coaches to and from football matches. The working party met the coach operators, and they were extremely keen for some legislation to be enacted in order that their coaches could be protected from unruly fans. However, from my reading of the debates in the other place, I am also conscious that the driver of such a coach could be at risk. After all, it is his livelihood and job.
I welcome clause 69, which is a change from the earlier Bill, and some credit is due to the noble Lords who referred to the future employment prospects of coach drivers. However, I believe that that clause must be further strengthened in the interests of the driver. He is placed in a most invidious position. For example, when a coach leaves a local pub to go to a football match, as they so often do, drink is on board but the driver spots it only when he is half-way down the motorway or on a main road. It is difficult for the driver, placed in that invidious position, particularly if some fans have already consumed a fair amount of liquor. We must guarantee the future of those drivers.
Clause 68 is drafted in a misleading way. Having read it twice, I am still not clear what it means. Under section 92 of the Licensing (Scotland) Act 1976, it is still legal to carry six pints of alcoholic 866 liquor in a container. That Act has not been repealed. There is an ambiguous situation whereby it is possible to stop football fans boarding a coach and yet at the same time it is possible for other people to carry six pints of alcohol with them in a container. I hope that the Minister will clear that point up.
Will the Secretary of State be more precise about what is meant by the designation of football grounds? Is it the intention of the Secretary of State to designate the ground or the event? There could be enormous problems in this context. I am pleased that the provisions of the Bill are not confined to football stadiums. We are now seeing in rugby the growth of those problems from which football has suffered. I hope for more precise details on the issue of designation from the Secretary of State.
Because of falling attendances at Hampden Park, semi-finals of the Scottish Cup are attended by fewer than 20,000 people at a ground that can hold well over 100,000.
The message that should get through to club managers is that fewer youngsters are going to football matches. Fathers are not taking their children to matches. Youngsters are the seed corn of the next generation of football supporters, and if clubs are to be able to pay high salaries and bonuses to their players they must be assured of good attendances. If a youngster does not attend football matches, my experience tells me that he will not start attending in his twenties or thirties. I hope that football management will catch on to that fact.
I also hope that the media will examine the Bill carefully, because if it is to be successful it depends to a great extent on the media. I believe that the media in the past have been facetious and sometimes dishonest in reporting football matches. Because we have learnt to distrust the media in its dealings with so many other things, that does not mean that it is not free to comment on the game as it wishes. However, I wish that football commentators would sometimes be more accurate.
As a former chairman of the Glasgow magistrates, it was my job to comment on crowd disturbances after a Rangers-Celtic match and on how many people had been arrested for drink and other offences. On an occasion at Celtic Park 867 I said that the crowd had been the best behaved in my experience at such a match. That was because only nine people had been arrested. I was not told that a great fight was in progress outside the ground. A few days later I was watching a television programme called "What the Papers Say". That programme quoted my remarks, saying that Glasgow's senior magistrate had spoken of the best behaved football crowd ever. A caption was then displayed pointing out that 296 people had been arrested. I would, therefore, hope that the media will have some regard for factual reporting. If they do not, those who have responsibilities in this context can be caused embarrassment.
The fans and the clubs are being presented with a challenge. In the days in Glasgow when public houses were called sawdust pits, I, as chairman of the licensing justices, told applicants for licences that if they would put carpets on the floors of their public houses and raise the standard of amenities I would be generous in granting licences. In my constituency the raising of standards in public houses has encouraged better behaviour. I believe, therefore, that it would be wrong to put restrictions on football fans, because 95 per cent. of them are well behaved.
Of course, I realise that there is a serious problem. But three years after the publication of the report on football crowd behaviour I think that it is time to put the challenge to club managements and licensing authorities. We should say that we are willing to try a controlled experiment in the sale of beer and lager at football grounds—as is done in England—and put fans on their honour. We cannot guarantee instant success but we must present a challenge to the ordinary fans—as well as to those who do not behave well—and make the football grounds more attractive. We should not implement any restrictions until we have given the fans a chance of savouring conditions that are commonplace in England at many sporting events.
Although I give a qualified welcome to the clauses to which I have referred in some detail, I believe that other clauses in the Bill will damage relations between the police and the public. Some of those clauses threaten civil liberties, and for those reasons I shall vote against the Bill.
§ Mr. Speaker
I remind the House that at 7 pm the 10-minute rule will apply. Therefore, any hon. Member who is called before 7 pm will, I trust, understand that he may not speak for more than 10 minutes after 7 pm.
§ Mr. Michael Ancram (Edinburgh, South)
I will take careful account of your ruling, Mr. Speaker. I hope that the hon. Member for Glasgow, Queen's Park (Mr. McElhone) will forgive me if I do not follow him in detail in this matter. I say that out of respect for all the hard work he has done and the hours he has spent studying this subject. I understand that much of his work was done on the spot and I am sure that the House is grateful.
This is a Bill of great complexity and is a major attempt to bring the criminal law of Scotland up to date. It is impossible in a debate such as this to deal with all the specific principles which arise as a result of the provisions of the Bill. For that reason, I shall deal with only a few of them.
The Bill removes some of the glaring anachronisms in our criminal law and applies common sense in their place. I am sure that Opposition Members who are lawyers appreciate as much as I do that once the Bill is passed a miscarriage of justice will become a ground of appeal. At last we will get away from the former complication which meant that we had always to try to fit what, in equity, seemed to be a good ground of appeal into the somewhat restricted definition of grounds of appeal allowed by the law.
For this reason and for many others, I believe that the Bill should be welcomed. I caution Opposition Members who intend to vote against the Bill of the dangers of being seen to throw out the baby with the bath water. As an advocate I have practised, latterly, almost exclusively in the criminal law mostly in Glasgow. Unlike my hon. Friend the Member for Moray and Nairn (Mr. Pollock), I have always practised on the defence side, and I have obviously looked at the Bill with a good deal of interest.
There are certain details of the Bill about which I am doubtful and I hope that this evening or perhaps later some of my doubts will be allayed by my hon. Friend the Minister. I have doubts, for 869 instance, about reducing the number of peremptory challenges of jurors from five to one. The right hon. Member for Glasgow, Craigton (Mr. Milian) made the point—and I agree with him—that this could lead to an increase, if not in jury vetting, at least in the checking of juries.
That will mean an increase in the amount of unnecessary work undertaken by instructing solicitors. The cost of checking through jury lists to make sure that there is nobody who could possibly be biased or prejudiced against a client will clearly increase. My experience shows that the system of having five peremptory challenges to jurors has worked, and it is interesting to note that the Faculty of Advocates seems to take the same view.
I should like to ask about detention. I do not want to go into this matter in detail as it has already been dealt with at considerable length. The question that I should like to ask is one to which the right hon. Member for the Western Isles (Mr. Stewart) seemed to have the answer but which I cannot find in the Bill: when precisely does the period of detention start? It is important that, if the period of detention is to be acceptable, it should have a strict starting and finishing point. I hope that the Minister will be able to help me in that regard tonight.
I am anxious about the removal in another place of the so-called Emslie proposals on sentencing in murder cases. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State also referred to this matter. I have long been worried that, except in exceptional cases of murder, no distinction can be made by a judge in the light of mitigating circumstances, on the one hand, or aggravating circumstances, on the other. Few can defend the present system as the best that we could achieve.
It has always struck me that persons I have seen convicted for murder and sentenced, according to statute, to life imprisonment have often been convinced that that meant about eight years—and often it does. What strikes me is that, in their minds, it is less than, for instance, the great train robbers got, less than many people convicted for robbery or, indeed, of other serious crimes would get. If murder is to remain the most serious crime in the criminal calendar of Scotland, we should recognise it by giving the 870 judge flexibility to indicate how serious he considers that crime to be. If we seek deterrence to murder and if we wish for justice to be seen to be done, something along those lines must be done.
I wish to speak now about the powers to search in clause 4. I listened with great interest to the right hon. Member for Craigton. I was pleasantly surprised by the moderate tones with which he dealt with this subject, because I have been saddened by some of the tones I have heard in Scotland and in the media over the past few weeks about the Bill. I was interested in what I saw to be the right hon. Gentleman's selective civil libertarianism. If a policeman searches someone for drugs, somehow that does not matter; that will not hurt community relations. If he searches for stolen birds' eggs, which he is entitled to do, that, too, does not create the bad community relations about which the right hon. Gentleman was talking. But when a policeman searches someone for a knife, that is different. I find it difficult to understand how the right hon. Gentleman can draw that distinction. The only possible way in which that distinction can be made is by suggesting that somehow, because it is knives, the police will use some particular technique of harassment.
If there is to be harassment, I believe that we would have seen it already in the areas about which I have spoken. We would also have seen harassment in the other area where there is great police power—the breathalyser law. Occasionally we hear of some isolated incidents of harassment. But it is dangerous to suggest, as the opponents of the Bill seem constantly to suggest, that the odd, isolated incident means that the police will generally use the new powers as a means of harassing and persecuting the public. I cannot help feeling that some of the criticism that is made against the Bill, and this clause in particular, is politically motivated or, in some cases, motivated by malice.
What is the individual liberty about which we are talking? Is it the right to walk about the streets carrying offensive weapons—often knives? Is the right hon. Member for Craigton saying that the price of good police-public relations is allowing people to walk about the streets of our cities carrying knives? If he believes that that does not happen, he 871 should sit through a circuit of the Glasgow High Court and listen to the cases that come up: case after case of assault, severe injury, culpable homicide, murder —all with offensive weapons, often knives.
What would strike the right hon. Gentleman most is that in so many of the cases there is no motive for the crime. When the person put the knife into his pocket, he had no intention of using it. It happened to be there when he lost his head or his temper—whether as the result of drink or not—and the incident occurred.
I have no doubt that many youngsters without criminal intent put knives into their pockets as they leave their homes in the evening—not special knives mostly kitchen knives—and when things go wrong, when too much drink has been taken, when the fight starts, the incident happens which results in injury and often death.
I say in all sincerity, especially to those who oppose this measure, that there is no more tragic sight in life than to see two destroyed, ruined young lives at the end of a trial: one, the victim, maimed or often lying dead on a mortuary slab —the photographs of which I have had to study more times than I care to remember—and the other, a young man sentenced to a long spell in gaol with all that means to his future—his life wrecked and behind him often before he reaches the age of 20—all because it happened to be his habit to carry a knife.
We can stop or deter this senseless waste only by putting it into the head of the habitual knife carrier that no longer will he be able to do that without anybody asking questions, except when the incident or the accident has happened. He must understand that in future the occasion may arise when he is searched and something that has never mattered to him in the past will suddenly render him open to punishment and that often he will be punished for it.
Finally, I see the Bill offering constructive powers to help the police to protect the innocent citizen. Obviously all criminal law is a delicate balance between the rights of the individual, on the one hand, and the necessities of justice and the protection of the vulnerable in our society, on the other. Often the vulnerable are the old and the weak who are the unsolicited 872 victims of violent crime. We on the Government side care about the victims just as much as we mind about the rights of accused persons. We care about the old people who are often mugged and beaten in their own homes for the sake of a few pence. We care about the injured and sometimes dead bodies which result from a Friday night's drinking and brawling. We care in particular about the fear of ordinary people to come to their doors at night or to go out to see their friends because of armed gangs.
§ Mr. Ancram
I must carry on, because Mr. Speaker told me that I must finish by 10 minutes past seven.
I put all this side into the balance of rights in the Bill. Then I ask one final question: have the innocent anything to fear from the Bill? A detailed look at the Bill shows that the answer is a resounding "No." But the guilty or potential criminals have something to fear under the Bill, because it will make it easier for them to be apprehended and convicted. If an argument is needed for supporting the Bill, I believe that argument is as strong as any.
§ 7.9 pm
§ Mr. Norman Buchan (Renfrewshire, West)
This is a serious Bill. I regret that the aspects that have given rise to serious concern in many areas of Scotland have been dealt with in a flippant and dangerous way by the Government Front Bench and by some Conservative Members. To refer to the Law Society, the Faculty of Advocates, the entire criminology department of Edinburgh university and others as being irresponsible, hysterical and politically motivated suggests that the Conservative Party has not understood the seriousness of this legislation.
I wish to deal with some of the points raised by the hon. Member for Edinburgh, South (Mr. Ancram). He referred to the Emslie report. I do not believe that the judges of Scotland have been anointed with the wisdom of the Lord by oil descending from the high heavens. I suspect their judgments all too frequently. We could consider some of the recent judgments south of the border—for example, those of Lord Denning. No sooner does he make a judgment than it is reversed by a court of appeal. Yet the hon. 873 Gentleman says that this sort of judge should have the right to decide the length of a sentence for murder. If we give that power to the judges, we are severely pushing back the clock.
The Bill would still retain the right for a judge to make a recommendation. I would rather leave it to other people to decide on the length of time that should be served following a sentence of life imprisonment. It is no use comparing such a sentence to some of the judgments on offences against property, for example, the Matt Lygate case. We know that often those who occupy the bench pay higher regard to offences against property than to offences against the person.
The hon. Member for Edinburgh, South made a defence of the Bill on the ground that he is against crime. That is no defence. He is telling us that he is against sin. We are delighted to know that the chairman of the Tory Party in Scotland is against sin. However, it is hardly a defence of specific proposals in the Bill.
We have been told that those who oppose the Bill are ignorant and hysterical and that they have no expert knowledge because they are not suffering by living in the housing schemes in which these crimes take place. Of course, the same is true of the Government. They have not had that direct experience. It is unworthy of any Front Bench Member, let alone a Scottish Office spokesman, to make such a statement.
I have held a self-denying ordinance since Christmas because I wished to speak at length on the Bill. I now find myself trapped—it is like the poverty trap—to making a speech of 10 minutes. Therefore, I can deal only with one or two issues.
There is a significant difference between the Bill and the previous Labour Bill regarding the powers of search. I think that the Labour Bill was also a bad Bill in respect of the first few clauses. I opposed the detention powers.
The real progenitor of the powers of search is the hon. Member for Glasgow, Cathcart—[HON. MEMBERS: "The hon. Member for Southend, East".] I am sorry, I meant the hon. Member for Southend, East (Mr. Taylor). A transfiguration has taken place. It is like Hamlet without the 874 Prince of Denmark. It was from the hon. Gentleman's playing of the tough card—which the hon. Member for Edinburgh, South has repeated tonight in that those who wanted tough action were those concerned with law and order—that the powers of search arose.
The Times today—also perhaps hysterical, ill advised and ignorant—said that police organisations have not asked for such powers in their evidence to the Thomson committee. The provisions arise from the demands of the hon. Member for Southend, East in his previous incarnation as the hon. Member for Cathcart.
The provisions on the powers of search have not answered the significant question "Why are the powers necessary?" The 1953 Act provides powers of arrest where there is reasonable cause to believe that an offensive weapon is being carried. If the Government wish to extend those powers in another way, we must ask why. The answer is given in The Scotsman by more illiterate, ignorant, and politically motivated people at the department of criminology at Edinburgh university. The article states:The desired effect is obviously deterrence but to produce this result, to impress upon the individual that if he carries a knife, however inconspicuously, he is really likely to be searched, the police would have to conduct routine and extensive searches on the streets of every large town almost daily.The side effects of such strong medicine would make the condition more palatable than its cure.Rather than preventing the incidence of crime, the provisions would have the opposite effect. The reason why I resisted such provisions in the past was not because I was in favour of crime or sin but because I recognised that such a step would be one of the causes of violence.
§ Mr. Ancram
Does the hon. Gentleman accept these powers when they relate to searching for drugs? It appears from the figures that the searches are working and that the incidence of drugs found as a result of searches has been reduced.
§ Mr. Buchan
That is not correct. The percentage of drugs discovered after search is very low. The powers of search used in relation to terrorism show a success rate of about 1 per cent. It does not achieve the desired effect.
875 As I know to my cost through three broken ribs, the main weapon used in mugging is not a carried weapon but the boot, or a bottle if it is at hand. The powers of search could exacerbate the position. Unless practised in permanent frisking, they cannot achieve any noticeable effect.
The spurious argument in comparison with drugs and the argument that we all accept the powers of search in relation to aircraft are completely dishonest. As the right hon. Member for Western Isles (Mr. Stewart) said, we have other choices. We do not need to travel by aircraft if we object to the powers of search. We can travel by train or boat. When he suggested that, hon. Members seemed to find it funny. They forget that he represents the Western Isles.
When we buy an airline ticket, we enter into a contract knowing that we will be subject to search. There are two points here that should be borne in mind. First, we have voluntarily entered into that contract and, secondly, the search is not discriminatory. We are all subjected to that. Surely we are not suggesting that everyone walking along Sauchiehall Street will be frisked. We know what would happen. The frisking would be against the young. They would eventually react. It is that reaction that will cause the breakdown of relationships between our youngsters and the police. Heaven knows, those relationships are not good at present.
One reason why the relationships are not good is that a lead has been given to those who wish to over-exercise their rights by the presence of an obnoxious and reactionary Government. They are introducing discrimination and are attacking trade union rights. Police are given a lead in that way, although there has already been criticism that they have over-used their powers in action.
I want good police relationships to exist within the community. The Bill will not help that. It will cause crime rather than reduce crime. I quote again from The Scotsman:It is always authority and not force which allows them to function. Policing in the style of an army of occupation is not only politically unacceptable, it is also"—
§ Mr. Iain Sproat (Aberdeen, South)
I am glad to have this opportunity to give a strong welcome to the Bill. I welcome it for one overriding reason. The Bill helps substantially to right the balance in Scotland between the criminal and the law-abiding citizen in favour of the law-abiding citizen. For too long the balance in Scotland has been on the side of the criminal. The Bill at least does something to drag back that balance and to help the innocent.
I wish to concentrate on two areas—first on the stop and search powers and secondly on the detention of a person at a police station or in a constable's presence. Those provisions have been violently, and even viciously, attacked in certain quarters. The hon. Member for Renfrewshire, West (Mr. Buchan) referred to some of the broader areas that have prompted almost political attacks on the Bill. Some of the attacks have come from people who will use almost any opportunity to undermine law and order and to denigrate the police.
Conservative Members accept that some of the attacks have also come from people whom we would normally regard as serious and whom we respect, and they require answers to their questions. I should like to try to give my answer on why the Bill is right and justifiable in principle and practice on the stop and search detention powers.
It has been alleged that to give the police the right to stop and search people in the street is somehow a gross and sinister restriction of the rights of the individual and a derogation of civil liberties. We have never attempted to deny that it is a restriction of the rights of the individual. But the principle upon which we promote it is that by giving the police that right we are infringing a lesser freedom in order to increase a greater freedom. We are infringing the right of the individual to walk in Sauchiehall Street without being stopped and searched, in order that the innocent person can 877 walk in Sauchiehall Street without the risk of being mugged or assaulted. That is the essential balance and principle that clause 4 seeks to embody. The Government have talked a great deal about increasing the freedom of the individual, and there are few more important freedoms of the individual than the freedom from crime and attack. That is why the Bill is not only a part of all the legal Bills that we have put forward—the Bail Etc. (Scotland) Bill, and so on—but is part of the wider policy of the Government to increase the freedom of the individual in as many aspects of society as possible.
In a Bill such as this, there is a price to pay. The price is that people can be stopped and searched for weapons. Most people are prepared to pay that price. Most people are keen to pay the price if the result of people being stopped and searched for weapons is that other, innocent people can go about their law-abiding business in greater freedom.
§ Mr. Sproat
I heard the points made by the hon. Member for Aberdeen, North (Mr. Hughes) earlier, which were answered by my hon. Friend the Member for Moray and Nairn (Mr. Pollock).
The Government have a sound case in principle—the principle that a lesser freedom is decreased in order to increase a greater freedom. That is the substantial principle upon which the Government rest their case. It is not simply a sound case in principle. It is a sound case in precedent and in present practice. My hon. Friends have already mentioned that all hon. Members agree to be searched when they board an aeroplane. Visitors to the House agree to be searched before they enter. The principle of people being searched for offensive weapons is apparently acceptable. However, some hon. Members say that there is a difference between being searched before boarding an aeroplane and being searched in the streets.
Even that fine distinction has been breached. A person can be searched in the street at random if the police believe that they have reason for suspicion. If the police suspect a person of carrying a bird's egg of a protected species, of possessing drugs or carrying alcohol in a football ground, they now have the right 878 to search. Therefore, both in principle and in practice, the House has already conceded the point. It is sheer hypocrisy for Labour Members to try to pretend that the Government are now concocting some monstrous infringement of liberty and human rights. On many occasions in the past the House has accepted the principle and the practice. The key fact that cannot be denied is that no innocent person will suffer because of the stop and search powers. On the contrary, innocent people will gain.
With regard to detention, surely, in the perspective of rising lawlessness and the seriousness of crime, it cannot be said that it is a gross infringement of human liberty to be stopped and asked for a name and address. It cannot be regarded as a gross infringement that a person detained at a police station has to give his fingerprints. I cannot imagine why anyone who is innocent should be afraid of so doing—particularly when the fingerprints are destroyed afterwards. I cannot understand why certain Labour Members should object to these proposals, particularly when fingerprinting might quickly establish the innocence of a person who is detained.
It cannot be practical to leave the law of Scotland in such a state that the only way in which the police can question or detain a suspect is by bluff, improper threats, irregularities or by arresting and charging the person. That cannot be a practical way of dealing with such incidents as a fracas in a dance hall, and so on. The Bill puts forward a practical and sensible solution which, in my opinion, does not infringe any human right. It will increase the human rights of the majority of people in Scotland because it will enable the truly guilty to be prosecuted more easily, and it will help the truly innocent to go about their law-abiding business more freely.
§ Mr. Peter Fraser (South Angus)
Much of the criticism of the Bill may lead the House and the Scottish public to believe that the Bill has been hastily cobbled together and that it is a deliberately repressive and anti-civil libertarian measure. Nothing could be further from the truth. It is a statutory consolidation of more than a decade's work on both the criminal procedure in Scotland and the substance of the criminal law. It is 879 imperative that as the Bill proceeds through the House those extravagant claims by such politically motivated bodies—I use the term with no regret—as the Stop the Bill Campaign be exploded.
The core of the Bill is to be found in the Thomson committee reports. It is worth reminding the House that the committee was first appointed by a Lord Advocate, Lord Wilson of Langside, as long ago as January 1970, reporting, as the Secretary of State indicated, as far back as 1972 and then principally in October 1975. Although the Thomson report is the core of the Bill and has a certain patina of age, the recommendations of other eminent reports have also been included.
All questions of civil liberty must be resolved essentially on a determination of the proper balance between the rights of individuals brought before the courts and the rights of other individuals to be protected from those who break the law. It is neither repressive nor tyrannical to propose that the protection of law-abiding citizens from crime is a fundamental duty of any society. That being so, the essential balance requires adjustment from time to time. I believe that both lawyer and non-lawyer in Scotland would agree that there is a correct time to adjust that balance, whichever way one feels it needs adjusting. The balance has shifted, but it by no means requires legislation in only one direction.
It may surprise the House that almost 10 years ago I gave evidence for the Scottish Council for Civil Liberties. I am proud to say that the paper submitted by the council, relating specifically to appeal provisions, found favour with the Thomson committee, the previous Government and this Government.
Surely it cannot be argued that the provisions in the Bill with regard to solemn procedure and stated case procedure are not a substantial advance in the interest of the individual in Scotland. Is it seriously suggested that the defence right to have witnesses cited for precognition is not of substantial benefit to the accused? Is it seriously suggested that the defence right to apply for an identification parade is not again of substantial benefit to the accused?
The proposals to prevent trials being delayed beyond 12 months would be re- 880 garded as astonishing by legal practitioners in the remainder of the United Kingdom, particularly in London, who are well used to cases going to trial long after 12 months have elapsed. Other details and procedural changes provide for quicker, cheaper and better justice in Scotland. Are they not in the interests of the individual?
If all else in the Bill fails, one provision is more important than any other—the provision in clause 19 that allows the defence to put forward a plea of no case to answer and, if that fails, still to have the right to lead evidence. That has been a substantial omission in the law of Scotland, which breached the fundamental principle that at all stages the Crown should prove its case beyond reasonable doubt.
All such provisions are conveniently ignored by those who oppose the Bill, who stated in a publication that in the BillThe rights of the individual are conveniently forgotten in the name of expediency.I find that incomprehensible. They must have a selective capacity for analysis that is dumbfounding.
The major attack on the Bill is in regard to the earlier provisions. I shall deal with only two. First, with regard to judicial examination, my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Scotland pointed out that the Thomson report did not put judicial examination forward as an instrument of repression or to further the aims of the police or prosecution. It gave three main reasons why judicial examination should be revived in Scotland, two of which are for the substantial benefit of the defence. The Thomson committee thought that it would advance the interests of the individual in legal process. It is not a novel process in Scotland and is in no way part of a deliberately repressive policy.
On the subject of detention, my greatest criticism of the Thomson committee is that it wrongly adopted the pejorative term "detention" rather than "temporary arrest", which it began to use. The phrase "temporary arrest" is more sensibly understood and does not have an emotive connotation.
Although the members of the Thomson committee disagreed on other matters, they were unanimous on the introduction 881 of a six-hour period of detention. We should first consider whether the police are entitled to ask questions as part of their investigations. If they are, they should have the opportunity to question suspected persons, with the accompanying right to invite, them to police stations.
So far the failing in this debate has been that we have concentrated on posable irregularities in police procedure. As my hon. Friend the Member for Edinburgh, South (Mr. Ancram) pointed out, the appeal court in Scotland stated that, on the standard test of what is fair to the accused, a statement obtained by someone just this side of imbecility after 12 hours of questioning was fair. I am therefore astonished that those who oppose the Bill are complacent about the status quo when that is the existing state of the law.
Those who oppose the Bill have not put forward clear alternatives. They have merely asked for a Green Paper. Sheriff Gerald Gordon is the greatest authority on criminal law in Scotland. Are they suggesting that he should reconsider the views that he gave in the Thomson report?
It is suggested that the angels are wholly against detention, and quotations have been produced. I wish to quote one source that has traditionally considered itself to be on the side of civil liberties and the individual. On 31 January, in its leader, The Guardian said:The issue which needs to he resolved is whether the police have the right to detain someone suspected of an ordinary criminal offence for up to six hours for questioning. The answer to that is: yes—so long as there are adequate safeguards.I support in outline what my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Darwen (Mr. Fletcher-Cooke) said about tape recordings. I am also pleased that in another place provision about redetention was removed. I hope that the details will be hammered out in Committee, but I warmly support the Bill.
§ Mr. Deputy Speaker
The House will not have failed to notice that I called in succession two hon. Members from the Government Benches. I apologise to the hon. Member for Glasgow, Garscadden (Mr. Dewar), whom I intended to call. I shall rectify that situation by calling con- 882 secutively two Members from the Opposition Benches.
§ Mr. Donald Dewar (Glasgow, Garscadden)
I do not know whether the hon. Member for South Angus (Mr. Fraser) will be alarmed or flattered by being confused with myself.
I believe that we all accept that the Bill is important, but it is a blockbuster of a Bill. It illustrates that big is not always beautiful. I accept that it contains many good clauses and is not a bad Bill in every respect. However, there are a number of key clauses on which I have substantial reservations. The effect of those reservations is cumulative and decisive.
I object to the Bill. It encroaches on civil liberties and is a danger to the ordinary citizen. I shall give three reasons for saying that. One can be found in clause 4, which provides the new powers of search. This is an area of some confusion in my mind, and I look forward in Committee to getting elucidation from Ministers as to exactly what new power—over and above that which already exists in the Prevention of Crime Act 1953—this clause would give the police if it came on to the statute book. Whatever the intention, it is very doubtful whether it would be achieved.
As I understand from previous debates in this area, the Government assume that the new clause will allow the police to search when suspicion that an offence has been committed or is being committed has not crystallised upon an individual but is attached to a group—say, the inhabitants of a dance hall or of a public house, or a group walking down the street. If the courts are persuaded that that is a proper interpretation, there is indeed a real danger of harassment arising from it and from that development in police practice.
It may be said that that is an antipolice point or that it is fanciful. Those who think that it is fanciful should refer to the debates on the last Administration's Bill. They will see that the hon. and learned Gentleman who is now the Solicitor-General suggested that reasonable suspicion that an offence might be committed would amount to the knowledge that someone one saw on the street had previous convictions.
883 If that is the kind of advice that may well be going forward, there is a real and substantial fear of harassment. It is an encroachment on civil liberties because of the reintroduction of judicial examination, which I take to be an attack on the right to silence. It is a beguiling and a persuasive idea that a special defence or a comment or an explanation about an alleged extrajudicial confession should be put on record at a very early stage. However persuasive the argument may be, and despite the imprimatur of Thomson, it is wrong because it is an implied attack on the right to silence. If that right is exercised, it is open to almost certainly devastating comment, either by the prosecution or the judge. It cannot be said that a right remains inviolate if the exercising of it will attract such a fatal—or possibly fatal—penalty.
My next point concerning the encroachment of civil liberties relates to the six-hour period of detention, about which we have been arguing here for a very long time. It is not a minor technicality; it is an attack on a basic right. Whatever may have been said in the debate, as I understand the law in Scotland, until the police are in a position to arrest and to charge, a citizen is allowed to go about his ordinary duties unless he is prepared to co-operate in a session of questioning. The fact that that right is often not exercised is not a reason for abolishing it. That is a peculiar and extremely dangerous argument.
The position which can now occur is that someone can be taken to a police station—a place which Lord Cooper, in a famous judgment, once described as a "sinister" venue, where the dice are often seen to be loaded against the suspected person. The object of holding him there is to induce self-incrimination, and that is a very dangerous concept.
The test at the moment is fairness. The provisions in the Bill will make it harder for the courts and the juries to decide when that fairness test has been met. The hon. Member for South Angus mentioned Professor Gerald Gordon, now Sheriff Gordon of Glasgow, who wrote the standard book on criminal procedure. I will give the House a quotation from an article written by him in 1978. He states: 884In the absence of any guidelines for juries beyond 'fairness', there is a risk that undesirable police practices will be encouraged, or at least condoned, as means justified by ends and by the good faith of the police in their endeavour to catch criminals. In the heyday of Chalmers a policeman may have been inhibited from pursuing his inquiries because of the knowledge that the court would reject the evidence he obtained; today he will always be well advised to chance his arm to the extent that his own conscience will allow because of the strong likelihood that any relevant evidence will be admitted.Professor Gordon goes on to say that he has basic doubts about the present state of the law before the Bill reaches the statute book. Those inherent dangers, he points out, will be greatly increased if the Bill reaches the statute book, and my own view is that it is a risk that this House and the Scottish legal system should not run.
I am against the Bill because certain of the clauses seem to be dangerous not only to the public but to the police themselves. I cannot go into this at any great length, but we are, on the question of the power of detention, inviting the police to take to a police station for interrogation someone they think is guilty but against whom they have not sufficient evidence to raise a charge. Quite clearly, they are bringing him there in the hope that they will be able to extract some sort of damaging confession from him.
It is not easy to envisage a six-hour detention with the criminal law equivalent of merely name and number. That would be a position of frustration that would try the patience of a saint. Although I do not have anything but the greatest respect for the police force as a body, I do not believe that they are a body of saints. We may be putting them in a position where abuse may result or in which, equally dangerously, there will be allegations of abuse made against the police. That would be a thoroughly bad thing.
I hope that the Under-Secretary of State in charge of the Bill will think very long about the words of the hon. and learned Member for Darwen (Mr. Fletcher-Cooke) about tape recording. One very simple thing that we could do would be to implement large parts of the Bill, if that is what the House wants, but not this part of it until tape recording is available and is on stream. I give notice that I shall be pushing very hard for that in Committee.
885 Similarly, from the police point of view, there is the power of search. There is no doubt that that can lead to friction. This is not something that I have dreamt up; it is something that the Thomson committee was very worried about, as is shown in paragraph 3.19, where it states that thereis a fear that this will lead to police harassment of young persons, particularly where such persons have a police record. Some may think that such harassment would be a small price to pay for any reduction on the number of assaults with weapons committed by young persons, but apart from anything else there is a grave risk that any harassment would be counter-pro-ductive in the long nm, since it would lead to increased antagonism to the police.The point is well taken by the Thomson committee. I am sorry that it was not taken to the logical conclusion. I hope that the House will be prepared to think very hard on that point. There are some very difficult problems, particularly in regard to the younger generation and their relations with the police. I believe that these changes will exacerbate them.
The third and final reason why I have grave doubts and why I oppose the Bill is that it is in some ways unworkable and dangerous for the system. I deal first with the matter of judicial examination. If I go to Glasgow sheriff court and I have a client in custody and he is due to appear at 2 p.m. at 1.30 p.m., I shall not know even whether he is on petition. Almost certainly, I shall not have seen the petition. I shall not know what time is alleged for the offence. I shall not know whether there is any special defence. I shall not have any knowledge of any extra-judicial confessions, because the information will not be available to me. The whole thing is chaos and confusion. It is a Hogarthian scene in these cells, as I know from my professional life. The idea that one can advise a client, take him down a few minutes later into court and guide him through something that will have fundamental importance for his whole defence is impractical nonsense. If we enforce that provision, God help the duty solicitor, and, more important, his client.
I believe that in saying that I would carry with me everyone who is in regular practice in Glasgow sheriff court. I think that I would also have the tacit support of most of the sheriffs, although I cannot claim that, as I have not talked to them. 886 In the real and practical world, judicial examination cannot be reintroduced effectively, and we shall have to look very carefully at the practical consequences in the life of a jobbing criminal practice in Glasgow before we go forward with these proposals.
This is, of course, an important Bill, but it seems to me to be fundamentally misguided and fundamentally mistaken. There is a tendency to say that there are individual rights and that there are public rights and that they are in conflict and irreconcilable. I do not believe that that is true. At the end of the day, the overriding and most important right is to have a legal system which embraces us all and a legal system which gives proper and perhaps particular protection to those small and unfortunate groups who are at risk of the law and who are under suspicion. If we encroach upon their protection, we impoverish ourselves, because we all have an interest in making sure that the law is impartial and that it helps those who are in trouble. The Bill at least encroaches to a dangerous extent on those principles, and that is why I shall vote against it.
§ Mr. John Maxton (Glasgow, Cathcart)
I am grateful to you, Mr. Deputy Speaker, for calling me immediately after my hon. Friend the Member for Glasgow, Garscadden (Mr. Dewar). I find it difficult to believe, Mr. Deputy Speaker, that you thought that the hon. Member for Aberdeen, South (Mr. Sproat was speaking from the Opposition Benches.
Those of us who are opposed to some parts of the Bill have been accused of being hysterical and ignorant. I am sure that those who have made such accusations from the Government Benches have directed them partly at my hon. Friend the Member for Garscadden and myself. It is true that we oppose certain parts of the Bill.
The hon. Member for Edinburgh, South (Mr. Ancram) accused us of throwing the baby out with the bath-water in our opposition to the Bill. I shall use another metaphor which, again, is in common usage—namely, that the Bill is rather like the curate's egg. There are parts of it that are good. The problem with the rest of the egg is that it is so rotten that it is inedible.
887 The two parts of the Bill to which I object most strongly are an attack upon the civil liberties of people in Scotland. They are an attack upon people's rights. It is proposed to give the police the power to detain without good cause, without there being a genuine reason for arrest or charge, for six hours in a police cell. The only valid reason that I have heard advanced from the Conservative Benches for the introduction of such a power is that it will regularise the present position. In other words, the police are already taking people into detention and holding them there without a proper and legal right to do so.
If a section of the community is breaking the law, it is surely a spurious argument to say that the best way to solve the problem is by getting rid of the law and allowing that lawbreaking section to act legally. If that argument is accepted, the best way to reduce all crime figures is to cease to regard certain acts as criminal. If that is done, there are no criminals and no crime.
Will the new detention clauses stop the police from abusing their powers? Will the clauses have a regularising effect as Conservative Members, Ministers and the Thomson report have suggested? In my view, they will not. There will still be police who will be able to abuse the new, wider powers. The clauses allow detention to take place. The time at which a person is detained must be registered. However, it is never clear when detention starts. Is it when a person is picked up on the street and first asked to accompany the constable, is it when he arrives at the police station, or is it after certain other procedures have been gone through? It is not clear.
Who will register the time? The police will do so. They will have the right to enter the general nature of the suspected offence. That will be done by the police. They will say that the person will be informed of his rights. Who will inform him of his rights? Again, that will be done by the police. That will be done in the secrecy of the police station without any witnesses or any other persons being present. It will be the word of the police against that of the suspected person.
The suspected person will have the right, if the police allow him to do so, to 888 contact a solicitor or a member of the family to inform him or her that he is in the police station. Who will judge whether he should have that right? That issue will be judged not by the suspected person, not by an independent person, but by the police. The police will have complete control of the detention powers throughout. If there is to be abuse, it will he committed by the police. If there is abuse and the person who is picked up under the detention clauses complains to a lawyer or to the police that there has been abuse—for example, that he was detained for longer than six hours and not allowed to contact a lawyer or friend, without due cause—who will investigate the complaint? The investigation will be carried out by our old friends the police. There is no system in Scotland for an independent inquiry into complaints by members of the public into police activity.
We are seeing an extension of police powers, but the abuse of police power that is possible under existing legislation will not be removed. It will still exist when the Bill is enacted. We are extending the powers of the police but not regularising them. Instead, we are curtailing the rights of the individual within our society.
The second major complaint that I have against the Bill concerns the powers of stop and search. Various Conservative Members have said "We are prepared to accept laws that allow a person to be searched for drug abuse or under the provisions of the prevention of terrorism legislation. Therefore, why do we not extend that power and allow it in other instances?" I object to the powers of search in those two examples. The other example that has been used is the power of search for stolen birds' eggs. Not many of my constituents are stopped to have their pockets searched for birds' eggs.
As my hon. Friend the Member for Renfrewshire, West (Mr. Buchan) said, it is interesting to consider the number of those who are stopped and searched for drugs and are found to be carrying drugs. In many instances in England when suspected persons are found to have drugs on them it appears that they have been placed on them by the police. It seems that only 25 per cent. of those who are stopped are carrying drugs. That means that 75 per cent. who are stopped 889 and searched are innocent. That also means that 75 per cent. will feel aggrieved at the police stopping and searching them. The stopping and searching is either random or on police suspicion.
Why do the police come to the conclusion that a person might be carrying drugs? It may be that the police consider that a person's hair is too long. You will notice, Mr. Deputy Speaker, that my hair has been cut. I had it cut because I knew that the Bill would be introduced and that the police are suspicious of those wearing long hair. The police may take an interest in someone who is not wearing conventional clothes. There are various reasons why the police look at certain people, especially young people, and decide that they might be carrying drugs.
If the power to stop and search is extended to cover offensive weapons, the same thing will happen. There are young men in my constituency who are unemployed. They may be wandering the streets, because there is little else for them to do. They may be stopped by the police and searched for weapons. The majority of them will not be carrying an offensive weapon. What will be their reaction? It will be the same if they are detained under the detention clauses. It will be an aggravation against the police.
It is of major assistance to the police in their efforts to solve crime to have the support of the community in the area in which they operate. The clauses to which I have referred will destroy the relationship between the police and the community, especially in the large housing estates that my hon. Friend the Member for Garscadden and I represent—for example, the Castlemilk, the Drumchapel and the Easterhouse in Glasgow.
In those areas, the police need the cooperation of the people to solve crime. The clauses will lessen or destroy the possibility of co-operation. There will be aggravation and alienation between the people and the police. That is already there to an extent because the police are abusing their present powers. It already exists and it will worsen. The Bill will not assist in solving crime but will increase the problems, especially in areas of the sort to which I have referred.
890 The Government are introducing public expenditure cuts. They are doing so against a background of rising unemployment. They are creating the seed-bed of crime. Crime comes from social causes. The Government are exacerbating those social causes. At the same time they are attempting to give greater powers to the police so that they can attack working-class people who are unemployed as a result of their own policies. That is the feature that I find most abhorrent.
§ Mr. Bill Walker (Perth and East Perthshire)
I give the Bill a qualified welcome only. I welcome the powers contained in clause 4 to enable police officers to stop and search anyone who they have reasonable suspicion to believe may be carrying an offensive weapon. I welcome clause 55, which increases from £200 to £1,000 the fine for a second assault on police officers within two years. I also welcome clause 5 and how it proposes to deal with simple drunkenness as opposed to dangerous drunks by setting up detoxification centres. I say that as a teetotaller. I am glad that we are to deal with the drink problem in scotland.
However, I am disappointed as I believe that the Bill ducks some of the more contentious problems and papers over others. For example, in part I, which deals with police powers, especially the power of detention, the time period of six hours is just not long enough. It should be at least 12 hours and preferably 24 hours. I qualify that by saying that I accept that it would be advantageous and desirable to videotape questioning by the police. I believe that the police would welcome that if they had powers of detention at the same time.
In my view, the people of Scotland wish, above all else, to be protected from violence, intimidation and theft. The majority of parents in Scotland want their children to be brought up to believe in traditional Scottish values and to know the difference between right and wrong. Yet, sadly, hundreds of thousands of Scots, both old and young, no longer feel safe from assault and robbery.
In urban areas old people often go in fear and trembling. I remember canvassing at the by-election in Garscadden. I 891 was horrified by the number of doors in the tenements where there was not one chain but four. The old ladies behind those chains were frightened and trembling. I suggest that in many of our town centres young people also find it dangerous to walk the streets after sunset. As never before, our urban and, indeed, some of our rural areas, are dangerous. One can no longer travel alone safely on the last bus or on some trains and it is certainly dangerous to go to football matches and some discos.
The danger is greater today than it was in the days of our parents or our grandparents. Should we be surprised? Since 1945 the well-intentioned, articulate academics and reformers have had their way, often aided and assisted by woolly political thinking and woolly, inept political action. Old values and old standards have been debunked and rejected. The situation in Scotland today is evil, violent and frightening in many areas. Excessive drinking is often the root of the problem.
The Bill does not deal to a sufficient extent with the drink problem in Scotland, especially drink linked to criminal activity. A crime occurs in Scotland every few minutes. In the past 15 years the number of crimes of violence has more than doubled. The number of murders has also doubled. The incidence of the crime of rape has trebled. One in every five policemen is injured while carrying out their duties in the course of their police career. That is the situation that exists in Scotland today.
In Tayside in 1979 the number of murders increased by 50 per cent.; the number of attempted murders was up by 15 per cent.; the number of assaults on police officers was up by 13 per cent.; other serious assaults were up by 14 per cent. The carrying of offensive weapons has increased by 6 per cent. and robbery with violence has increased by 27 per cent.
Chief Constable Little of Tayside says in his report:Instances of assault and robbery have also risen and this again can be attributed to the central crime area where there was a spate of such attacks towards the end of the year involving elderly women in particular.It is no longer safe to be alone on the streets of some of our Scottish cities after dark. This horrendous catalogue of terror, injury and violence is a mas- 892 sive indictment of the failure of our system of law and order to control the evil and savage elements that exist in our society. It is wrong to pretend that those elements do not exist, because they are there. What is frightening is that the number of violent crimes is increasing.
Much has been said today about civil liberties. To me, that means going about my lawful business without fear of intimidation. It is only those who are involved in unlawful pursuits who need worry.
It is only right that Parliament should question the whole framework of policies designed to combat crime, violence and vandalism. It is right that we should introduce a Bill of this nature. My reservation is that the Bill does not go far enough in some respects. For that reason, I hope that I shall be given the opportunity to move some amendments in Committee. It is necessary for the people of Scotland to see that we are doing something about the increase in this horrendous catalogue of violent crimes and crimes of vandalism.
It is wrong for us to talk in abstracts. It was interesting to hear one Opposition Member say that he was a victim of mugging. That gives us some idea of the ratio of violent crime. Looking around the Chamber, I suggest that on the existing statistics in Scotland another hon. Member at present in the Chamber will have been a victim of mugging. It will not necessarily be an hon. Member who is advocating that something should be done about mugging. When muggers go out and about, they are not selective; they are simply looking for a victim. It is true to say that one is at risk if one is alone in some of our Scottish cities or travelling alone on a train or the last bus or walking some of the dark streets in East Perthshire alone.
§ Mr. Buchan
I should tell the hon. Member for Perth and East Perthshire (Mr. Walker) that I was within a few minutes' walk of the House of Commons when I was mugged, but I still oppose the nonsense in the Bill.
§ Mr. Walker
I do not suggest that it is safe to walk from the House of Commons; I am suggesting that it is unsafe to walk alone in some Scottish streets. This is a Scottish Bill being 893 debated by Scots and it is only right that I should refer to Scotland. If the hon. Member for Renfrewshire, West (Mr. Buchan) wishes me to catalogue the problems of London, I can do so because I have done my homework on that. However, I am not here to do that this evening.
I am concerned with the many millions of fellow Scots who want to live good, respectable lives and who look to us to do something about violent crime. They recognise that in the final analysis the prevention of crime will depend upon the effectiveness of our police forces. In this respect, one matter about which I still have reservations is the number of policemen on the beat. We should think carefully about increasing the number of policemen on the beat, because that is the best deterrent. Unfortunately, there is nothing in the Bill that increases expenditure on the police. However, I hope that that will be dealt with in a future Bill.
There is nothing humorous about this matter. It is sad, depressing and degrading for the victims of violent crime. We should be concerned always with the victims and should not spend so much time worrying about the criminal fraternity. It is well equipped to look after itself, as I know from the correspondence that I receive. I have a prison in my constituency and I take an active interest in what goes on in that prison. At a number of debating evenings I have had with them the villains in that prison have advised me of how well they know the law. They certainly know it better than I do.
My speech has been designed to draw attention to the victim, the innocent and those who want to live a decent life in Scotland.
§ Mr. Norman Hogg (Dunbarton, East)
At the last general election we heard a great deal from the Conservative Party about law and order, and we also heard a great deal from it about individual freedom. Its promise was to strengthen the forces of law and order and simultaneously to arrest the process, as the Conservative Party saw it, of the erosion of civil liberty. This Bill does not serve either of those objectives. Indeed, far from increasing the area of individual freedom, it actually shifts the balance against the people. It erodes civil liber- 894 ties, it offends the principles on which our criminal law has operated hitherto, and it extends police powers. I think that it exposes the true Tory position, which is very different in reality and in practice from the glib and easy phrases of the Tories' election manifesto.
Clause 2, which relates to detention and questioning at a police station, is particularly odious. The new principle of a limited detention, as a kind of half-way arrangement between inviting persons to a police station and arresting them, is at best very dubious and more likely to be thoroughly dangerous. The person detained would not have the rights and safeguards which normally apply to arrest. Moreover, this new provision would bring within the law the practice, which has developed over a period of time, of detaining persons for rigorous questioning. I am sure that every hon. Member has at some time had representations about that happening to a particular constituent.
A person assisting the police with their inquiries has not been obliged to remain at the police station. He has had the right to leave. Now, the Bill provides for six hours' detention. In that very long time he or she would be subject to close, determined and rigorous examination. Such questioning could be a frightening experience. Indeed, I am persuaded that it would be, and it would be intimidating to the person detained. He could be detained for the full six hours—a kind of short, sharp punishment—with no intention on the part of the police of making a charge. Such abuses are occurring even now, and the Bill will give the force of law to such an abuse.
There is no substantial evidence that the powers of arrest as they exist are insufficient. Those who make that claim must substantiate their case, and they have certainly not done that this evening. They must demonstrate that the evidence has been destroyed or that the course of justice has been interfered with. The powers of arrest are already very wide, with sufficient power being vested in the police. To many of us, an extension of police power is wholly unacceptable.
Another new power is given to the police in clause 4—the power to search a person for offensive weapons where a constable has reasonable grounds for suspecting that an offensive weapon is being 895 carried in public. I suppose that the argument is that such a power would be useful in crime prevention. That I do not believe to be reasonable when weighed against all the opposing arguments. Surely a citizen in a free country has the right to be protected against unreasonable search. These principles are violated in the Bill.
What constitutes reasonable grounds which would give authority to a constable to make a search? What are these reasonable grounds? I fear very much the consequences of this power. The individual interpretation by constables of "reasonable grounds" would lead to varying practices. Of that I am certain. But worse still would be the likely discrimination against young people, and particularly young people in certain localities, such as the localities of my hon. Friends the Member for Glasgow, Garscadden (Mr. Dewar) and the Member for Glasgow, Cathcart (Mr. Maxton). There are localities in those constituencies where this would be a serious problem. Who can say that such provisions are an extension of freedom?
I believe that it is in the areas of social deprivation that the powers of clause 4 will be used. The police will, perhaps, initiate random searches. My hon. Friend the Member for Aberdeen, North (Mr. Hughes) has attempted several times today to get this matter clarified. It has not been clarified. I hope that it will be clarified in the winding-up speech, because my hon. Friend is entitled to an answer. But there will be random searches among young people, and the tensions which already exist between the police and the community will be exacerbated.
What of the innocent person who is told by a constable that he is to be searched? I would strongly object to that. I would find it offensive. I would regard it as an indignity that I should be subjected to such a procedure. Yet this would he the risk in terms of clause 4(2). A person resisting a search may be guilty of obtructing a constable, so an innocent person, protecting his innocence and believing that in this country he has a right to protection from search, will find that not only has he lost that right and that the powers of the police have been extended but that his resistance is an offence. That is such a price to pay for this measure that I cannot believe that 896 the House would never agree to it, and I hope that it will not agree to it.
The advance of authority at the expense of the people is what we are seeing here. The advantages as the police see them and as the Government claim are lost against the cost of the disadvantages. The law as it stands allows search before arrest in cases of urgency and also allows the police to arrest any individual whom they have reasonable cause to believe is carrying an offensive weapon. Where, then, is the advantage of the Bill's provisions? If the sole objective is to reduce crimes of violence, this clause will not achieve that. That is also the view of the Scottish Council for Civil Liberties.
Clause 6 provides that at judicial examination the prosecution may put to the accused person questions to obtain explanations and to give the accused an opportunity of commenting on anything that he may have said extra-judicially. This provision is opposed by both the council of the Law Society of Scotland and the Scottish Council for Civil Liberties.. I am confident that the House will want to have very careful regard to their views, because the change here is fundamental.
The right proposed exists only for the Crown. The right lost is the accused's right of silence and the presumption of innocence. The accused does not have to answer. That is a fact. Clause 6(2) proposes a new subsection to section 28 of the Criminal Procedure (Scotland) Act 1975, providing in subsection (2) that the judge or the prosecutor may comment at the trial on failure to answer at the examination or on inconsistencies between answers on judicial examination and later in evidence at the trial.
The accused person will not be able without prejudice to reserve his defence, and there is no limit to the number of examinations which he may have to undergo. If the clause is enacted, the accused will be in the position of finding it very difficult to refuse to answer questions, and certainly at the trial refusal to answer will be regarded by a jury as an admission of guilt.
The Bill represents major changes and major losses in our civil liberties and in our rights. It is an attack on freedom. It is the second attack on freedom that 897 we have had. [HON. MEMBERS: "Rubbish."] Conservative Members may imagine that the Bill is popular, but it will not be popular when these powers are 898 enacted. What is more, what is popular is not necessarily right.
The Bill is an attack on freedom. It reduces rights. It lessens our liberties. It will not reduce crime and it will not prevent crime.
§ Mr. Ian Lang (Galloway)
I intervene in this debate with some diffidence, and I do so as one who is not a lawyer but who, having been involved in politics for some years, is aware of a strong public desire in Scotland for a comprehensive review of the powers, procedures and penalties relating to criminal justice. In particular, I am aware of the relentless rise in crime over the past decade and the now urgent need for determined action to fight it. In this, I would, if he were still in the Chamber, take issue with the right hon. Member for Roxburgh, Selkirk and Peebles (Mr. Steel), who used some astonishingly misleading statistics in his speech this afternoon.
Much research has been done, and we now have no fewer than eight reports by distinguished specialist committees on various subjects, which appear in the Bill. Promises have been made by both of the major parties over the past few years. I say to the hon. Member for Dunbartonshire, East (Mr. Hogg) that it is not merely a matter of popularity, of keeping one's promises to the electorate; it is a matter of keeping good faith, and, above all, it is a matter of doing what is right and necessary in the interests of the people. There has also been detailed debate on many of the issues which arose in the previous Parliament when the Labour Government brought forward their proposals, many of which reappear in this Bill. Now I believe that the time is ripe, almost two decades since the last major reform of criminal justice, for firm action across the board. That is what this Bill offers. It is a major piece of legislation, and I warmly welcome it.
Of course, all that is not to say that we should throw caution to the winds. On the contrary, I believe that we should proceed at all times with great care, because the field of criminal justice is fraught with traps and quicksands. If in this Bill we do something that is wrong, it may not be easy to undo it, so we must try very hard to get it right the first time around. On the whole, the Bill gets it about right. I believe that that is true as regards those clauses concerned with changes in the powers of the police.
When one hears some people talk about the police, one may think that 900 they constituted some alien power in our midst. They do not. They are a vital part, integral yet independent, of the Government of the country. They, along with our courts, are the instruments by which the laws which we pass can be enforced. They are an essential structural ingredient in the fabric of our society. They are, indeed, the strong arm of the law and the front line in our defences against the forces that would set aside the rule of law and undermine the values on which our society is based. We owe it to ourselves and to the vast law-abiding mass of people in this country, whose security and welfare we profess to advance, that the police be ensured of the ability to fulfil the important duties that we expect of them.
From time to time the balance between the powers of the forces of law and the rights of individuals needs to be adjusted. Sometimes small individual liberties are better sacrified to the greater good of the maintenance of the rule of law, on which our greater liberties depend. The balance is delicate and needs careful handling. Like the Government, the previous Labour Government, and the eight distinguished committees and working groups that laboured long and with dedicated study, on the detail of the large majority of measures enshrined in the Bill, I believe the time is right—indeed, overdue—for an adjustment in that balance and for a strengthening of the powers of law enforcement and detection.
I believe that the electorate, to whom we promised such action, expect and want that from us. The intolerable level of crime, especially crimes of violence and those among young people, demand it of us. We would be culpably negligent if we did not take action.
We made a fine start a year ago with the police when we implemented at once the Edmund Davies report on pay. We have restored their earnings, numbers and morale. We are now right to strengthen their powers. In particular, I welcome the provision of powers for temporary detention, which the previous Government wanted and which the Thomson committee recommended. I even wonder whether six hours is long enough. It is a matter of judgment. However, I would 901 not go as far as the 24 hours or more that is allowed in England and Wales.
I also welcome the limited powers of search for offensive weapons, based on the recommendations of the Scottish Council on Crime, which go less far than those of the Thomson committtee. To Opposition Members and members of the public who argue that that power is an infringement of individual liberty, I reply that I would soon be stopped, searched and questioned twice a week than stabbed in the back once in a lifetime.
The hon. Member for Dunbartonshire, East was concerned about civil liberties. I suggest that a sober man who refuses to take a breath test is subject to the same type of infringement of liberty.
The use of these powers and other new powers such as the right to detain potential witnesses requires sensitivity on the part of the police. There is no reason to believe that the police are incapable of that. The Scottish police are an experienced and dedicated body of individuals. The powers proposed are moderate, considered and practical. They provide a legal sanction where before there was of necessity bluff or persuasion. Those who criticise them have signally failed to provide a better alternative.
For some time the balance of power between the wrongdoer and justice has been in need of particular attention as regards the young. There has been an explosion of crime and violence among the young in recent years, with an alarming and consequential drop in detection and conviction. That is when the potential criminal habits of a lifetime can become ingrained. That is when the need for firm and stinging retaliation by society is most needed and could be most effective on those who first set out to test the strength of society's resolve.
The creation of the crime of vandalism, in place of such euphemisms as "breach of the peace" or "malicious mischief", is therefore welcome and overdue. I also welcome the accompanying plans for short sharp sentences in detention centres, the provision of reparation or compensation to victims—as urged by the Dun-park committee—and the control of alcohol at football matches as urged by the McElhone working party and a number of other measures.
902 The right hon. Member for Glasgow, Craigton (Mr. Milian) seemed to indicate that to create the statutory offence of vandalism is mere cosmetics. With respect, I disagree. Surely it is the duty of Government to maintain the law in good repair, to keep it relevant to the changing nature of our society and the problems that it faces. In recent years we have seen a sustained rise not just in mischief or in the disturbance of the peace, but of the violent and gratuitous destruction of property and the terrorising of innocent victims by groups of young thugs. It is our duty to focus our attention and the full resources of the law upon that. Vandalism is what it is, and that is what it should be called. If that is a stigma, so be it. The solution to those who would be stigmatised lies in their own hands.
It is right to remove alcoholism from the list of statutory offences, punishable by imprisonment. Heavy fines—although I question whether the sum of £50 is enough—and the use of detoxification centres must offer a more appropriate and desirable approach to this difficult and dangerously expanding problem. This Bill reflects the society in which we live rather than that in which we might wish to live. As such it is a realistic and measured response to the problems that assail us in the field of criminal justice in Scotland. It sets out to restore the balance that has been lost. It is comprehensive, well considered and fair. I wish it speedy progress to the statute book.
§ Mr. George Foulkes (South Ayrshire)
I shall make an unusual start to my speech by springing gallantly to the defence of the Secretary of State. He was attacked most unfairly by my hon. Friend the Member for Islington, South and Finsbury (Mr. Cunningham). He complained that the Government would get the Bill through as a result of the Government's English majority. Indeed, my hon. Friend introduced the 40 per cent. clause that blocked the Scottish Assembly. That Assembly would now have been discussing not this Bill, but something much better. That would have been to our benefit and to the great benefit of the people of Scotland. The only loss to the Bill would have been the wisdom of the 903 hon. and learned Member for Darwen (Mr. Fletcher-Cooke).
The Government have made great play of the similarity between the previous Labour Government's Bill and this measure. I ask the Government, particularly the Under-Secretary, to remember that the greater part of the Bill is welcomed by all. Many people have said that. The greatest protest has been made about the new provisions introduced by the Government. It should not be assumed that all Opposition Members support, or have supported, all of the previous Bill. Even those who have and who will have second thoughts should be considered honourable. It is not dishonourable to recognise one's own mistakes.
I am sure that all hon. Members will have welcomed the Secretary of State's assurance that the Government will give serious consideration to well-argued amendments in Committee. Most of the clauses reflect no political differences between us. It would be appropriate if Parliament applied some common sense to the legal knowledge and expertise that have already gone into the Bill. Many hon. Members have pointed out that we have had no Green or White Paper and no such discussion. It is therefore more important that careful scrutiny, even more careful than usual, should be given to the clauses in Committee.
My hon. Friend the Member for Glasgow, Queen's Park (Mr. McElhone) referred to football hooliganism. I give the proposals the benefit of the doubt. They are motiviated by good intentions. However, they would not have saved the life of a constituent who was on his lawful way to the Scotland-England match at Wembley. He boarded a normal service train at Kilmarnock. It was already overcrowded when it was allowed to leave Glasgow central station. Passengers were intoxicated and vanadalism and violence had taken place when my constituent boarded the train. There was no policing of that train. The train proceeded to Warrington in spite of a dying man being on board. The Government must be more vigorous in discussions with the various football organisations, British Rail and the police.
Apart from a notable contribution from my hon. Friend the Member for Glasgow, Cathcart (Mr. Maxton), hon. 904 Members have ignored the root cause of crime. They discuss the effects but ignore the cause. Football grounds in Scotland are an appalling disgrace. My hon. Friend the Member for Queen's Park was too lenient. Most football grounds in Scotland are primitive, although there are honourable and notable exceptions. It is time that the football authorities did something about it.
Even more important than football grounds is the question of young people in the community and the root cause of vandalism and violence. How can one expect disillusioned young people to behave when they are offered no future and no jobs by the Government and when their facilities for recreation are being cut?
Because of financial pressures the Strathclyde regional council, in spite of rising rates, proposes to make huge charges for the use of schools. Youth organisations will fall by the wayside. Young people will have even less to do because of the Government's policies. More vandalism and violence will occur because of the public expenditure cuts. Government Members are the vandals. They should be dealt with. What do they suggest? They say that we should have more Glenochils. They suggest that there should be a Glenochil for every region. They suggest not a school for every parish nor a community centre for every community, but a Glenochil for every region. Glenochil is ineffective. The rate of recidivism is high.
I also oppose the provisions for detention on suspicion. Specific criticisms have been dealt with. One of the worst aspects is the inability of the detained person to contact relatives. That will cause anxiety to relatives. A detained person will not be able to contact a lawyer unless the police agree that it will not be harmful to their investigation. Not many police will agree to that.
Who supports the Bill? All practising lawyers seem to oppose it. The Glasgow Bar Association has sent a detailed memorandum. The Law Society of Scotland oppose many aspects of the Bill. The criminal law department at Edinburgh university opposes it in today's The Scotsman. Everybody opposes it except members of the Conservative Party who are bound and gagged by their Front Bench. Opposition has come from the 905 STUC, the Scottish Council for Civil Liberties and many other groups. Even the chief constable of the Grampian region has expressed opposition. The only supporters are Lobby fodder. They can be relied upon to go through the Lobbies to support the Government, whatever they say in the highways and byways. The lack of support in the country and the unstinting support of the Lobby fodder speak volumes, if not 81 clauses, about the Bill.
§ Mr. John MacKay (Argyll)
To the long list of people and bodies opposed to the Bill mentioned by the hon. Member for South Ayrshire (Mr. Foulkes) could perhaps be added the vehement opposition of those in Barlinnie and suchlike institutions. I should like to refer to the less controversial ground covered by the hon. Member for Glasgow, Queen's Park (Mr. McElhone). I have two small boys who are keen on football. They would dearly like to go to a professional match. I would willingly take them but my wife forbids it. Whips may play an important role in this House but wives are even more important in one's own house. I cannot take my two boys to professional matches because of football vandalism and hooliganism about which we hear and see so much. As the hon. Member for Glasgow, Queen's Park mentioned, there are many mothers who forbid their children to go to football matches.
I would like Ministers to consider one of the points made by the hon. Member for South Ayrshire about the availability of alcohol on football specials or trains heavily used by supporters going to football matches. More will be required than this Bill. Football players themselves need to exhibit a great deal more sportsmanship on the field than has occurred over the last few years. If there was less violence, and fewer arguments took place with the referee on the field, there might be a lot less violence on the terraces.
Vandalism is a crime under a different name. Why not call a spade a spade and not an instrument causing malicious mischief to the back of a springtime garden? Let the public see that we believe that vandalism is a crime and that a vandal is a criminal. This would not increase the punishment for vandalism but it would show the public and those young- 906 sters who sometimes act out of fun, that their action is wrong and criminal.
I welcome what clause 7 says about district courts. I sat for many years on the Bench. I welcome the extension of the cases that will be heard. I would, however, suggest that the time has come to consider increasing the fines that can be imposed by district courts. The Burgh Police (Scotland) Act specifies a maximum£5 fine for being drunk and incapable. That amount is probably less than it cost the accused to get drunk and a lot less than he will spend to celebrate when he walks out.
It is obvious that controversy exists over clauses 1 to 4. We have to think seriously about civil liberties. The civil liberty of the innocent, law-abiding citizen is the most important civil liberty. I welcome the powers granted to the police to search people whom they have reason to suspect may be carrying weapons. The chief constable of Strathclyde in his recent article suggested that young people leave their homes with weapons not necessarily to assault the police but to assault anyone who crosses their path.
It is only right and proper that the police should have powers to stop and search people they think may be carrying offensive weapons. That is much more important than stopping them to see whether they have rare birds' eggs that they have stolen in Harris in the constituency of the right hon. Member for Western Isles (Mr. Stewart) or even to see whether they have drugs, or stopping people in cars who may not have had a drink at all so that they can be breathalysed. It is far more important for the preservation of life and liberty of young people that the police should be given power to stop and search for offensive weapons.
What bothers me is the sight, portrayed by Labour Members, of police rampaging down every high street stopping and searching every youngster they come across. Some Labour Members are poisoning the minds of young people against the police. The question of the police detaining someone for six hours has been mentioned. One would think that the police, at the moment, cannot take someone to a police station and question them for some hours.
907 In fact, the six hours proposed in the Bill are considerably less than the 12 hours which, in the case of Hartley v. Her Majesty's Advocate in November 1978, the appeal court found that it was proper for the police to take an accused 17-year-old—albeit, supposedly voluntarily, but as the 17-year-old was not properly mentally balanced, it is difficult to decide what is voluntary and what is not—to question him on two occasions, on one occasion, the day after, for 12 hours until they got a confession. That is the situation as it stands at present. It is no good Labour Members ducking this issue, as they have done.
I believe that the Bill will help the police to maintain law and order. It is the police who maintain law and order. It is not Acts passed by this House, the lawyers, the professors and lecturers in law at Edinburgh university, and certainly not the Scottish Council for Civil Liberties. The law is kept by the police.
If I am assaulted in the street, I do not shout "Help, lawyers", I shout "Help, police", because the police stand between me and the thug. If I stay in an Edinburgh housing estate through which some vandals are rampaging, I do not send for the law faculty of Edinburgh university, I send for the police. The public knows that that is what the police are for.
I wonder how many lawyers are murdered in a year. How many of them are assaulted each year? Not very many. Yet, last year in Strathclyde, as the report of the chief constable shows, 20 per cent. of his police officers were assaulted in the protection of us and our constituents. That must be borne in mind.
What has disturbed me during my year in this House is that, from some Labour Members, there has been a sustained campaign of smear and innuendo against the police force. Perhaps I feel that more than others, as my father was a police officer. I have two uncles who were police officers and my cousin is a police officer. I know many policemen, both presently active and retired. Frankly, the people whom I know, and to whom I am related, are not the type of policemen whom the hon. Member for Glasgow, Cathcart (Mr. Maxton) slandered in his speech. I simply do not recognise the portrait that is painted by some Labour Members, who 908 seem to wish to smear the forces of law and order and the police force of this country.
The police force has a difficult, dangerous and unpleasant job to do. When one is brought up in a police station, one is made very aware of the unpleasantness and the dangers which are involved in the job of the police. Their job is to protect us, our children and our old folk. My experience of police officers is that they will not abuse the powers that are given in the Bill. Rather, they will use them to protect us, as is their duty.
§ Mr. Neil Carmichael (Glasgow, Kelvingrove)
Debates such as this are always difficult. Certain Conservative Members always behave as though we are not concerned with the victims but are concerned only with the criminals. In fact, it is more complicated than that. I have seen some of the more intelligent Conservative Members wincing at the comments of some of their colleagues.
One hon. Member spoke as though there was once a wonderful age in Scotland when there was no crime, and he suggested that we should go back to old Scottish values. That is an absolute myth. If one reads the history of Scotland, one will discover that, especially when urbanisation took place at a rapid pace, whole areas of Glasgow, Dundee, Edinburgh and other cities were almost no-go areas for the police. There was never a beautiful, idyllic Scotland—a people's friend version of Scotland—to which some Conservative Members have suggested we should return.
I am equally concerned and worried about crime. To a large extent, I have always been involved with the subject in this House, either in debate or in the all-party committee on penology. What I do not believe, and what I know the more intelligent Conservative Members do not believe, is that there is some magic formula.
The belief is held by some people that a wand can be waved giving powers to the police and that thereafter everything will be all right. There is no magic. The issue is complicated. There is world-wide crime in our technological society and there are no easy answers to our problems.
909 The Secretary of State made great play of the fact that the Bill was nonpartisan and that a similar measure had been introduced by the Labour Party when it was in power. The Secretary of State must be aware of the criticism of the Bill emanating from reputable bodies throughout Scotland and that those bodies are not friends of the criminal. They are concerned about crime. If the Secretary of State does not intend to pay any attention to those bodies, we should closely examine the Bill which proposes fundamental changes in the criminal law of Scotland.
We have been told that the Bill is a result of a much industrious work by learned people. If the Bill is as important as that, let us treat it in a nonpartisan way. I believe that there should be a free vote on a large number of the clauses. If the Government were willing to allow that, I believe that a surprising number of Conservative Members would vote against some of the clauses. The Solicitor-General for Scotland has in the past persuaded me and my hon. Friend the Member for Glasgow, Garscadden (Mr. Dewar) to vote with him on one or two occasions. On those occasions we treated the issues being debated as being far too important to Scotland to be approached in a narrow, party political way.
My right hon. Friend the Member for Glasgow, Craigton (Mr. Milian) dealt with the nub of the Bill when he referred to the relationship between the police and the public. The reasoned amendment tabled by the Leader of the Opposition and others of my right hon. and hon. Friends is appropriate because it deals with that relationship.
The leader of the Liberal Party, the right hon. Member for Roxburgh, Selkirk and Peebles (Mr. Steel), spoke of the generation gap. There is no doubt that a generation gap exists and we do no good by pretending that relations between young people and authority are as good as they should be. There is a crisis of authority and because the police are the epitome of the expression of authority it is easy for relationships between them and certain groups to become abrasive.
Statistics show that there appears to have been an improvement since the 910 1960s and early 1970s but that does not mean that we should be complacent. Serious trouble may be smouldering below the surface. I can understand how the hon. Member for Argyll (Mr. MacKay)—having been brought up in a police station—might have a different view of the relationship between the police and some groups. He will have a different view of the social scene from that of many other hon. Members. His view may have been in part a privileged one and in part a narrow one.
My right hon. Friend the Member for Craigton emphasised that the police do not maintain law and order. The police are a kind of vital and absolutely essential fire brigade. But if society does not agree with the law no police force can maintain the law. There have been examples in certain parts of the world recently where very powerful armies have been unable to hold back people determined on a certain course of action. It is not a matter of being anti-police.
The hon. Member for Moray and Nairn (Mr. Pollock) accompanied the all-party penal reform group on visits to prisons and for that reason I had hoped for more support from him. He said that there would be a risk of abuse if we did not give the police the tools with which to do the job. I wonder how far we go in this matter. The hon. Gentleman is an experienced prosecutor and defender in the courts. I suggest that the relationship between the police and the public is very brittle.
During the recess I travelled around Glasgow and other parts of Scotland. I am not making a cheap party point when I say that the Tories have made matters worse; but they will make them a great deal worse unless they make the U-turn that we hear they are likely to make fairly soon.
Part of the trauma of our decaying society is that going through parts of Dundee, Glasgow or Edinburgh, one sees young people with no hope, no jobs. They left school perhaps a year or 18 months ago and there are no jobs on the horizon. One does not need to wonder why they go to Ayr or to Scarborough, or wherever, to get a little excitement. Obviously, when walking about the streets of cities in both Scotland and England, they feel that nobody cares what they are doing. 911 The only way that they can get recognition is by doing something outrageous. I abhor purple and red hair. It is disturbing, but we must try to understand rather than to condemn. It means something. They are trying to give us messages and we, in the Mother of Parliaments, should try to understand and find out what those messages are.
It is dangerous to increase antagonism between young people and authority, which is basically the police, any more than is necessary. We know the kind of young people who will be picked up by the police. My hon. Friend the Member for Glasgow, Cathcart (Mr. Maxton) was right: it will be those with the long hair, the slightly out of the ordinary, who will be laid upon—"laid upon" is an unfortunate phrase—who will be victimised by certain police.
I do not suggest that the police as a whole will do that, but I have had experience which I described in a Committee recently. There were two bad policemen in a division in my constituency and it was months before the police were able to get rid of them. I discovered much later that the senior police in that division were trying to find a way to get rid of those officers. They did it ultimately, but in the meantime those officers caused a great deal of trouble in the area. Therefore, one or two police officers, particularly with powers such as these—
§ Mr. Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bernard Weatherill)
Order. I must ask the hon. Gentleman to bring his remarks to a close.
§ Mr. Carmichael
—could do a great deal more damage to the police force as well as to police-public relations. I hope that we shall not add to that by passing some of the contentious legislation in the Bill.
§ Mr. Albert McQuarrie (Aberdeenshire, East)
The Bill contains many clauses of the 1979 Bill which was proposed by the previous Labour Government prior to the general election. It is not a Bill to create oppression of citizens or to form a police State, as has been indicated by many Labour Members. I am sad that the principal remarks of Opposition Members related mainly to the powers of search and arrest. We did not hear much about vandalism 912 or about the citizen who was suffering. However, Conservative Members did take up that matter.
During the past few months right hon. and hon. Members have been receiving massive correspondence on the Bill as well as reading in the press what various editors thought about it. The Bill has no real significance to these public protesters; it is merely habit in that respect.
This Bill, as the leader article in today's issue of the Glasgow Herald states, is "Justice for all". That is the way that we look at it. The Bill seeks to legislate the many proposals which have been received from various bodies, which are concerned about existing legislation and which have been presented to both the previous Labour Government and to this Government.
It is not my intention to delay the House with many comments on the clauses, as these will be fully ventilated when the Bill moves from the House after the vote and goes into Committee. I wish to comment on some of the proposals contained in the Bill. I am certain that the vast majority of people in Scotland agree with the proposals to give police officers more power to stop and search when an officer is suspicious that a crime has been, or is intended to be, committed, or that the person being challenged by the officer may be in possession of an offensive weapon.
It is a sad state of affairs that many people have no regard for law and order. The recent outrages in the town of Ayr, in the constituency of my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Scotland, are a clear illustration of what law-abiding citizens are having to suffer. Any legislation which seeks to control these thugs must surely receive the approval of the House.
I fully approve the proposals to curb vandalism, despite the fact that the right hon. Member for Glasgow, Craigton (Mr. Milian) does not consider "vandalism" an appropriate word. As my hon. Friend the Member for Perth and East Perthshire (Mr. Walker) said—and he was substantiated by my hon. Friend the Member for Galloway (Mr. Lang)—it is vandalism.
The Bill does not go far enough with regard to the penalties that can be imposed for vandalism. In a recent case one thug was fined £350 for carrying an 913 offensive weapon and taking part in a riot. Was he worried about the fine? No, he was not. When he was questioned about his reaction to the fine he was reported to have said that he had a take-home pay of £130 a week, and that he would have to cut back on the beer to pay the fine. When asked if he was sorry for having committed the offence, he said that he had no regrets and would ensure that he was much smarter in the future, so as to evade arrest.
It has been said that penalties for these offences should be hard enough to hit the offender where it hurts. If these are the sort of remarks that can be made when a fine is imposed, the Bill should have tougher penalties so that the offender really understands that crimes against the public do not pay.
There are the football hooligans. We heard very little about them from Opposition Members. They cause much damage on their drunken journeys to and from the match. They enter the grounds in such a state that the police have difficulty in controlling them. Consider the two big matches in Glasgow last Saturday. A young police officer was carried off on a stretcher, required stitches for wounds in his head and had to remain in hospital. In addition, 83 persons were arrested for drunkenness and rowdyism.
The parts of the Bill dealing with the control of sporting events should be welcomed on both sides of the House as they deal with these problems and are based on the report of the McElhone working group, which was chaired by the hon. Member for Glasgow, Queen's Park (Mr. McElhone).
There is one section of the Bill that I would like the Minister to reconsider, namely, clause 31 which seeks to change the law in relation to traffic offences under section 80 of the Road Traffic Regulation Act 1967. I do not believe that the proposal in the Bill would be acceptable to the people of Scotland, who have always had the protection that two witnesses were necessary to prove a case for prosecution. The clause should be redrafted, and retain the present practice, as any change would be considered an erosion of justice.
As has been said by other right hon. and hon. Members, the size and scope of 914 the Bill are such that it will be the largest piece of major legislation in the area of criminal justice since 1963. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Scotland quoted what was said in another place:Every citizen should be entitled to expect from the State a system of justice which is fair. To be fair it must be efficient and reasonably swift: it must protect the innocent and punish the guilty. Its punishments must also be humane."—[Official Report, House of Lords, 15 January 1980; Vol. 404, c. 26.]In supporting these comments, I am certain that these sentiments are fully covered in the Bill. That can only be good for the future of criminal control in Scotland and a safeguard for the law-abiding citizens who dwell in our country.
§ Mr. Harry Ewing (Stirling, Falkirk and Grangemouth)
I am delighted to have the opportunity to follow the hon. Member for Aberdeenshire, East (Mr. McQuarrie). The hon. Gentleman's almost final comment summed up his attitude to the Bill and, I suspect, the attitude of many towards law and order. He said that he was grossly dissatisfied with the proposal to abolish the law of corroboration in the case of parking offences but that he was strongly in favour of the stop and search powers. That sums up his attitude. The hon. Gentleman feels that he has more chance of being caught for parking illegally than for carrying an offensive weapon. He said that we should maintain the law on corroboration in respect of parking offences—but that we should impose stop and search powers—because parking offences are more likely to affect the hon. Gentleman.
I turn to the background against which the Bill is introduced. I suspect that the Solicitor-General will be delighted when the Bill reaches the statute book, because it is the last Bill that will give Labour Members the opportunity to give the Solicitor-General for Scotland a feast of his own words. He has a fair number of good substantial meals to which to look forward in Committee. I shall deal with one or two soup courses —the starters—first.
The background against which the Bill is introduced is one of rising crime. I say that deliberately, because in the last year of the previous Labour Government—the Labour Party has been branded by Conservative Members as not being in favour of law and order—crime 915 in Scotland fell by 12½ per cent. The Under-Secretary of State for Scotland, when he was first appointed a Minister at the Scottish Office, was delighted to issue that figure. I accept that that reduction was from a high level of crime, and I am not trying to paint a bright picture where none exists.
Since the Conservative Government took office the Lord Advocate, the noble Lord Mackay of Clashfern, has gone to great lengths and trouble to say publicly that crime in Scotland is again substantially increasing under the present Administration. I am not surprised that the Bill has proved to be so much of a hotch potch, because Conservative Governments do not have much experience of introducing law reform measures. It is said that the Conservative Party is the party of law and order, but the hon. Member for Aberdeenshire, East gave the game away. If the Bail Etc. (Scotland) Bill is discounted, the last Scottish law reform measure introduced by a Conservative Administration was the Criminal Justice (Scotland) Act 1963—that is, 17 years ago. During the Conservatives' period in office between 1970 and 1974 the numerical strength of the police forces fell to its lowest level, and yet the Conservative Party claims to support the police. No criminal justice legislation was introduced between 1970 and 1974 to strengthen the power of the courts or the power of the police.
When the Labour Government left office in 1979 police strength in Scotland was the highest in the history of the force. The Labour Party—supposedly the party of disrespect for law and order—introduced five law reform measures between February 1974 and the 1979 election.
I am simply putting on record the fact that a Labour Government increased police establishment levels and police strengths throughout Scotland to record levels, and at the end of the day, because of the law reform measures that we took, we were able, with the help of the police forces, to reduce crime in Scotland by 12½ per cent. I wager that in 1984, when the next general election is due to take place, the Tory Government will not be able to claim a record approaching that. I believe that crime will have soared yet again under a Tory Government and that police manpower levels will be no higher.
§ Mr. Peter Fraser
That is absurd. The Thomson committee was appointed in January 1970. Its second report, which forms the guts of the Bill, was first presented to Parliament in October 1975.
§ Mr. Ewing
The hon. Gentleman is new to Parliament. He should understand that law reform measures are not necessarily based on committee reports. [Interruption.]
If the hon. Member for Edinburgh South (Mr. Ancram) will stop playing the part of a vandal, contain himself and learn to behave in the way that he is trying to encourage the people of Scotland to do, we shall proceed more quickly.
The majority of the five law reform measures passed by the Labour Government between 1974 and 1979 were mere extensions of existing powers to make more severe penalties available to the courts. They did not require the recommendation of committees. I am sure that the hon. Member for South Angus (Mr. Fraser) understands that.
Unfortunately, throughout the debate the attitude has prevailed, particularly on the Government Benches, that those who are against the Bill are against the police. That is rubbish. Nothing is further from the truth. Many of us oppose certain measures in the Bill because we are deeply concerned about the police and their role in society. We do not wish to see their position damaged.
The Secretary of State in opening said that the Bill would redress the balance in favour of the police. Balance is all important. It is widely accepted by those who practice law—which I do not—that law is very much a question of balance. We must consider various factors in trying to reach the correct balance— the position of the police, accused persons and victims of crimes. We must also consider the ordinary individual, who is not responsible for enforcing the law, who does not offend against it and who is not a victim of crime.
There is a difference between this Bill and our Bill. The balance in this Bill has been markedly tipped in favour of law enforcement, in its broadest sense. The Bill includes the stop and search powers, judicial examination and other issues to that end. The Bill is damaged by the balance being tipped in that way.
917 If the Government had introduced the remainder of the Labour Government's Bill, with the re-trial procedures, I am certain that it would have gone through the House without the controversy that the present Bill is causing, and that it would not have given so much cause for concern to the people of Scotland. The then Lord Advocate, now Lord Murray, had already given an indication that we would table the necessary amendments on Report. Had that Bill, with those added provisions, been introduced, including the powers of detention for four hours, it would, as I have already suggested, have gone through the House without controversy.
It is unfair to single out those who are opposed to the Bill as being "way out". When we look at the very wide cross-section of opinion opposed to the Bill, it is only right to take account of the concern that has been caused.
If I may give the Solicitor-General for Scotland the first feast of his own words, I agree with him when he said that as a matter of habitshorter and more frequent Criminal Justice Hills would be infinitely more sensible than big Bills.".—[Official Report, Scottish Grand Committee, 14 December 1978; c. 97.]He then proceeds to produce a Bill which has 81 clauses and eight schedules. If that is an example of a short Bill, I should hate to see what the Solicitor-General for Scotland would regard as a long Bill.
Obviously, the question of stop and search has given us the greatest cause for concern. While the right hon. Member for Western Isles (Mr. Stewart) is here, let me take issue at once with him. Just as the Leader of the Liberal Party and his party cannot have it both ways, neither can the right hon. Member for Western Isles and the Scottish National Party have it both ways. He surely did not take the trouble to read the proceedings on the Committee stage of the previous Bill, because it was the hon. Member for Dundee, East (Mr. Wilson), the chairman of his party, who introduced a new clause to create stop and search powers. The present Government have latched on to that. It was partly as a result of that new clause being tabled that the Solicitor-General for Scotland spoke to his amendment and the new clause. The new clause and the hon. 918 and learned Gentleman's amendment were taken together in the same debate, and were knocked over by the Solicitor-General for Scotland and the hon. Member for Dundee, East, who supported each other with regard to stop and search powers. It does not become the leader of the Scottish National Party, therefore, to come to the House and tell us that he is against the provision when his own party chairman was strongly in favour of it.
We are opposed to the stop and search powers because of the damage that will be done particularly to the relationship between the police and the public. When the last Bill was in Committee, many questions were asked and answered about what hon. Members would do if constituents came to them and complained that they had been stopped and searched, that they did not have a police record, that they were as innocent as the day was long, and asked for the matter to be taken up with the chief constable. Would the Member of Parliament simply tell his constituent that it was the law of the land, like it or lump it, and that the police had the power to search?
The strong possibility is that Members of Parliament will take up that kind of complaint with chief constables. In that event, the constable who carried out the search would have to justify in the first instance to the deputy chief constable his reasonable ground. Every hon. Member, from whichever part of the House, knows that complaints will mount up. There can be no doubt that, as this happens, relationships between the police and the public will become increasingly estranged, more and more difficult, and that all the community involvement work that has taken place over the past few years will go for naught.
I read with great interest an interview entitled "The Honest Truth" that the Under-Secretary of State, who will be dealing with the Bill in Committee, gave to yesterday's Sunday Post. The questions which gave him the greatest difficulty were those that he was asked about the stop and search powers. He was asked why stop and search powers are to be introduced in Scotland but not in England and Wales. I shall paraphrase the Minister's reply. I am not misunderstanding him or misquoting him. The hon. Gentleman said that because Scotland, especially the West Central belt, has 919 more serious crime involving the use of offensive weapons, the power is needed in Scotland. By implication he was saying—the hon. Member for Bath (Mr. Patten) is nodding his head in agreement, but I suspect that there is not much serious crime involving the use of offensive weapons down among the sheep in the area from which he comes—that there is more serious crime in Scotland. I doubt whether that is so. I doubt whether Glasgow is a more violent place than Liverpool, Manchester, Birmingham or some of the other cities in England and Wales.
The Minister was saying "Because we have more serious crime in Scotland we need stop and search powers." By implication he was saying that the rest of the country does not need them. The Secretary of State was placed in great difficulty today when he was asked whether it was intended to introduce stop and search powers throughout the rest of the United Kingdom. The right hon. Gentleman gave the only answer that he could possibly give.
The second question that the Minister was asked in the "Honest Truth" article gave him equal difficulty. He was asked whether he could give examples of situations in which the stop and search powers would be used. The hon. Gentleman gave two interesting examples. He said that if the police are called to an incident where an offensive weapon has been used, obviously they will search those at the scene of the incident. Secondly, if they are on their way to an incident and they see someone running away, they will try to apprehend that person and search him.
If those were the only two instances in which the stop and search powers were to be used, much of the argument that my right hon. and hon. Friends have advanced against the new provision would be removed and a great deal would be done to reassure those who have anxiety about the powers. However, the Minister knows that those are not the only two circumstances in which the powers will be used. Let every hon. Member who has spoken in the debate understand that there will be occasions when innocent persons are stopped on the streets and searched.
When listening to the hon. Member for Edinburgh, South, I had the impression 920 that he regarded that as an acceptable risk in order to create a greater degree of safety—I do not think that I misrepresent him—and to enable others to go about their business. The difference between us is that we do not believe that it is an acceptable risk. We do not believe that the arrest of innocent persons who have no record, nothing against them and no blemish on their character should be allowed to take place. Everyone knows that when someone is stopped and searched the fact soon becomes a matter of common gossip. It soon becomes common knowledge, especially in smaller neighbourhoods, that a person has been stopped and searched. That will do the reputation of the person concerned no good in the village or community.
§ Mr. Ancram
Does the hon. Gentleman take the same view about the breathalyser procedure, when someone who is sober is asked to blow into a bag? Surely that is humiliating. Others get to know about it. Neighbours soon know what has happened. The breathalyser legislation was introduced by a Labour Government.
§ Mr. Ewing
That may appear to the hon. Gentleman to be a smart point. I assure him that it is not nearly so smart as he thinks. I understand that when the police use a breathalyser kit they have to register in a pro forma in the police station that they have used the kit. They have to register the name and address of the person concerned. They have to declare whether the test was positive or negative. The Solicitor-General for Scotland and the Secretary of State seem to indicate dissent. If the police use breathalyser kits and do not record the fact that they are doing so, that is a change in the procedure. Certainly when the breathalyser test was introduced the police had to record the fact that it was used.
It is interesting that this should be used as an example because in recent years—especially the past two or three years—people in Scotland have been stopped and breathalysed, but after they had been stopped for something which had nothing to do with being suspected of drunken driving. Clever lawyers have been able to get their clients acquitted. The hon. Member for South Angus is laughing because he knows that that is true. Therefore the stop and search powers, as the 921 hon. and learned Member for Darwen (Mr. Fletcher-Cooke) said, are a very wide extension of police powers and should not be introduced at present. Had they been omitted from the Bill it could have a much easier passage than it will have. That is not a threat but an indication of the difficulty which hon. Members face because of the inclusion of the stop and search powers.
I conclude this part of my remarks by saying to some Conservative Members—I do not name them because I suspect that they will know who I mean—that it is not on to come to the House and try to build a political career for themselves based on people's fears. That is the simplest thing in the world to do. We can all do that. Members of Parliament should have at least a sense of responsibility. Some of their speeches made me cringe.
I noted that the Secretary of State was keen to pass over the invitation to make reference to clause 21. I also noted that when the Minister of State introduced the Bill in the other place he deliberately avoided any reference to that part of the Bill. I am referring to trial in the absence of an accused person. It is interesting to note that such a provision has been included in the Bill and that three of the occupants of the Government Front Bench voted against this clause and were instrumental in having it deleted from the Labour Government's Bill. The only difference in clause 21, which was clause 24 in our Bill, is the sop that officials in the Scottish Office have given to the Solicitor-General, to try to quell his fears, that if a person who is not represented is removed from the dock the trial judge will appoint a legal representative. But that does not take account of the reservations that the Solicitor-General for Scotland put forward in Committee when we debated this provision in our Bill, and he knows it. He was absolutely delighted to join with some of my hon. Friends to ensure that that clause was deleted. So when we come to acrobatics I am sure that the Solicitor-General must be the fittest man in the Government at present.
One part of our Bill that I wish the present Government had retained was the reference to part-suspended sentences. When we debated this in Committee the Solicitor-General and his hon. Friends 922 started off in the debate—I suppose that is what debates are for—with great reservations about part-suspended sentences. But right at the end of the debate blinding conversion came and the Solicitor-General said that he was persuaded, and lo and behold part-suspended sentences were retained in our Bill without a Division, with the concurrence of the Solicitor-General and his thanks and praise to those of us who had been able to persuade him. That provision is not in this Bill. Yet we are told that part of the purpose of the Bill is to reduce the prison population. The Minister and the Under-Secretary of State who is responsible for prisons know that part-suspended sentences, if introduced only on an experimental basis for a trial period, could have made a contribution to reducing the prison population. I am not suggesting that they would have made a massive contribution but they could have gone some way to reducing the prison population in Scotland.
Some hon. Members say that we have the highest male prison population in Western Europe. We have only the second highest, but that is nothing to boast about. I understand that West Germany now has a higher male prison population per head of population. Conversely, we ought to pay tribute to the ladies, because we have the lowest female prison population per head of population in Western Europe. In these days of equality, the ladies would never forgive us if we did not put that on record.
I hope that in Committee we shall certainly consider the possibility of reintroducing the part-suspended sentence concept. The Solicitor-General for Scotland is shaking his head. No doubt we shall hear his reasons for a change of mind.
I should like to take up a point made by the hon. Member for South Angus. I hope that the Government will pay attention to what their hon. Friends say. Obviously we are not in favour of detention for six hours. Our proposal was for four hours, and I shall stand by that. If six hours is to remain in the Bill, there is a strong case for adopting the hon. Member's suggested wording. Indeed, it was the wording proposed by the Thomson committee when considering the matter. I hope that the Solicitor-General 923 for Scotland will look at what his hon. Friend said.
I come finally to the question of judicial examination. This was not in the Labour Government's Bill, but it is in this Bill There can be no doubt that there is a serious problem—I say this with great respect to my hon. Friends who are lawyers—when an accused person, on pleading diets and all the rest of it, pleads not guilty and we incur fairly substantial legal aid costs in that process, and then, just before the trial proper starts, we get a change of plea and a plea of guilty, all at substantial expense to the legal aid fund.
§ Mr. Ewing
I am not suggesting that the judicial examination will cure that problem, but I am anxious to discuss whether it will do so. I am also anxious to discuss the effect on the trial of an accused person of his remaining silent. In the memorandum issued by the Scottish Office there is strong indication that any accused who decides to remain silent at the point of judicial examination would be at a serious disadvantage when it came to his trial. The wording in paragraph 11 of the document issued by the Scottish Office is quite clear when dealing with the question of judicial examination and clause 6. There is a danger. I am sure that the Solicitor-General for Scotland would agree. Indeed, if he were to prosecute a case where the accused had decided to remain silent at his judicial examination and then led evidence at the trial proper, and if he thought it to the prosecution's advantage to bring out the fact that the accused had decided to remain silent at the judicial examination, there can be no doubt that he or any prosecutor worth his salt would use that situation. It would act against the accused, because the jury would have doubt sown in their minds because the accused had had the opportunity at judicial examination, which took place much earlier, to make a statement and chose not to do so.
The Under-Secretary—the hon. Member for Edinburgh, Pentlands (Mr. Rifkind)—is nodding his head in agreement. That is a very dangerous agreement to give us. He agrees that someone who decides to reserve his position, as 924 it were, until the trial proper starts will be at a disadvantage because of the decision to reserve his position.
Therefore, at this stage, I am not prepared to accept the concept of judicial examination; nor at this stage am I prepared to condemn it. I am anxious to see the Bill in Committee and to discuss the question of judicial examination in detail and depth, so that we know the effect that judicial examination will have. Before we reach that stage I should be grateful if the Under-Secretary and the Solicitor-General for Scotland will turn their minds to the question of the change of plea just before a trial proper starts. When I had some responsibility for such issues we met various organisations in order to try to do somethings about the drain on legal aid resources resulting from a late change of plea.
I think that I have said sufficient to indicate that the Opposition have a serious reservation about the Bill. I stand by the parts of the Bill for which I was responsible when I was a Minister. There can be no question about that. However, the new material—to use the phrase which appears in the Government press releases —introduced in the Bill causes us serious concern. As a result, I invite my right hon. and hon. Friends to join me in the Lobby tonight to vote for the amendment.
§ The Solicitor-General for Scotland (Mr. Nicholas Fairbairn)
It must be very difficult for an hon. Member such as the hon. Member for Stirling, Falkirk and Grangemouth (Mr. Ewing) who has guided a Bill, the majority of whose provisions are echoed in this measure, to maintain a pretence of righteous indignation for 30 minutes. However, he almost succeeded and towards the end he made some helpful remarks about judicial examination.
The hon. Member for Stirling, Falkirk and Grangemouth began his remarks by saying that the figures for crime had fallen during the period of office of the previous Labour Government. I do not approach crime from the point of view of whether the figures went up or down by a certain percentage in a year. For example, 78 people died as a result of homicide last year in Scotland, mostly because knives had been carried unlawfully. The fact 925 [The Solicitor-General for Scotland.] that there were 106 deaths in the previous year is no cause for satisfaction. The figure represents 78 good lives that were uselessly destroyed. If we could save one of those lives in any one year, we should have to be given very convincing reasons for making a change in the law that did not achieve such an effect.
We must examine with the greatest care any attempt to resist a change that has a substantial chance of saving even one life. Many Opposition Members have shown constant concern for whether they are being falsely represented in their search and belief in what is now called "civil liberties"—presumably as opposed to "criminal liberties". With respect to them, I am impressed that the "Stop the Criminal Justice Bill" campaign to which a large number—and a significant personality—among the Labour Party gave their names, opposed the Bill before it had been published. Not one of those hon. Members has said, in the hysterical terms in which others have criticised certain provisions, that he welcomes the libertarian excellence of the provision that if a prosecution is not brought within 12 months of charge no prosecution can lie. What other nation in the civilised world can boast such a power? However, we have heard not a word from those who claim to have an interest in civil liberties. They hide their resentment of the law and of those who enforce it behind a pretence of concern for liberty.
Let us be clear. To be a member of society involves the sacrifice of innumerable civil liberties. One gives up the Tight to help oneself to what one wants. One gives up the right to hit anybody. One gives up innumerable rights for the benefit of society. One surrenders to the State one's rights to protect oneself.
I was impressed by the right hon. Member for Glasgow, Craigton (Mr. Millan), who did not seek to make unnecessarily provocative comments. He concentrated his remarks on his reservations about the concept of detention and search. Hon. Members from both sides of the House must, or should, agree that it is in the interests of us all to ensure that crime is deterred. It is in the interests of us all to ensure that that deterrence is created principally by the detection of crime and the conviction and punishment of those who commit crime.
926 Of all those who have expressed views in the press and learned journals, whether they commit crimes or have crimes committed against them, fear that crimes will be committed against them, or those who go about their ordinary business and may come into contact with the criminal law on the wrong side or the right side, few have gone unheard in the somewhat histrionic condemnation of some of the Bill's provisions.
The hon. Member for Renfrewshire, West (Mr. Buchan) has a particular knowledge of the thinking of persons who are silent. It is not easy to find intellectuals amongst the law-abiding public who have the hon. Gentleman's reservations about the Bill.
§ The Solicitor-General for Scotland
Perhaps the hon. Gentleman knows members of the public to whom he talks as members of a secret society, perhaps even in his sleep. The ordinary members of the public are more anxious that they might be the victims of a crime than they are about the possibility of being asked to be searched for an offensive weapon. For everyone who resents being searched there must be 100,000 who are thankful to be searched instead of being stabbed.
If Opposition Members do not like the concept; if they resent the police and are suspicious of them and are on the side of the law they can take steps by their utterances. It is important that as far as possible we remove fear from our society. The fear of crime is one of the principal fears.
I turn to the question of powers of search. The hon. Member for Glasgow. Garscadden (Mr. Dewar) referred to how the powers are being changed from the provisions in the Prevention of Crime Act 1953. I was amazed that the hon. Gentleman did not appear to have read that Act.
Section 1(3) of the Act provides:A constable may arrest without warrant any person whom he has reasonable cause to believe to be committing an offence"—of carrying an offensive weapon—if the constable is not satisfied as to that person's identity or place of residence".If he happens to know that the person is carrying a weapon, he may not arrest 927 him unless he is not sure of his name and address.
That is a very different situation from the power that we now propose—a power that was not inserted by a cumulative vote of the Committee but by the single vote of the Labour Member of Parliament for Dundee, West. Whatever the contribution made by the chairman of the Scottish National Party, it does not alter the fact that it was a Labour Member of Parliament who was conscious of the fact that people are stabbed. In the South court in Glasgow, last week, there were five cases, every one of which involved the use of a knife. In the North court, there were five cases, all of which I prosecuted, each involving an offensive weapon.
§ The Solicitor-General for Scotland
It lies ill in the mouth of the hon. Member for Aberdeen, North (Mr. Hughes) to suggest that, even if one of them might have been stopped by this power, it would not have been beneficial.
§ Mr. Robert Hughes
Will the hon. and learned Gentleman say which of those five cases would have been prevented by this Bill? How would that have been done?
§ The Solicitor-General for Scotland
There is a substantial chance in at least half of those cases that had this power existed the weapons would not have been carried and could not have been used. If this power is known to exist, and if this law can he advertised in the same way as the breathalyser law, the public will not tolerate the carrying of weapons.
§ The Solicitor-General for Scotland
There has to be reasonable suspicion. Whether we see Labour Members handing the knife round among themselves and, therefore, all have to be searched to find who has the parcel at the time the music stops may be another matter. There are considerable powers of search without warrant and without suspicion under 928 many Acts of Parliament to which none of those who object to this Bill have objected in the history of their enforcement. There is the Conservation of Wild Creatures and Wild Plants Act, for instance.
Literally thousands of people are stabbed in Scotland every year. If even a few of those could not suffer that fate, I believe that the Bill would be worthwhile. I do not believe that there are any parents in Scotland who would not prefer that their children were searched and found to have a knife than that they had to turn up and watch them being tried in the High Court for using one.
§ The Solicitor-General for Scotland
I think I must get on with my speech.
I now turn to the question of judicial examination. In the view of the Government, it is fundamentally important that the innocent should be acquitted and the guilty should be convicted. In the assistance of the concoction of a false defence, nothing is easier than not committing oneself until one can discover a way around the evidence which establishes one's guilt. An innocent man who is charged with a crime knows immediately that he has not done it. He knows exactly what explanation he has to give. He knows whether he can establish the fact that he was somewhere else. He knows whether he can establish that the act was done in self-defence. He has nothing to fear from stating his position. But a guilty man has everything to fear from having to state his position at the outset.
Indeed, in the Glasgow High Court only this week some gentlemen were asked to account for the fact that they were in a motor car containing the tools of robbery—masks, gloves, tools and housebreaking equipment. Their explanation was "It must have flown in the windie". It was because they were required to give an explanation at the time, and could not or did not do so, but gave a false one when they saw what the evidence was that their conviction was assured. I believe that nothing is more in favour of an innocent man than the right to state his position immediately, and that nothing is more harmful to a guilty one who is trying to falsify his defence.
§ The Solicitor-General for Scotland
With great respect, I do not think that the hon. Gentleman should necessarily raise that matter. As I appeared for Meehan, and as at the outset he made a judicial statement of his innocence, that reinforces the fact that an opportunity ought to be given to do so in all cases.
§ The Solicitor-General for Scotland
Due to the wise discretion of the right hon. Member for Craigton, he was pardoned.
§ Mr. Dewar
If, for example, someone who is about to appear within a few minutes is handed a petition which says that safebreaking took place within a period of, say, three days, how can he produce an alibi if he is innocent when he does not know when it was alleged that the crime was committed? What arrangements do the Government envisage to give that kind of information?
§ The Solicitor-General for Scotland
The hon. Gentleman will know very well that the defeat of alibi is normally "How do you remember what you were doing on 21 January?" when one is being asked a question on 5 May, if that is possible under the 110-day rule. But to be able to say "Well, I know where I was yesterday, and if you go to granny she will tell you that I was at tea with her" is a much more convincing alibi which will be checked at the time.
I turn to the question of detention. Through the recommendation of the Thomson committee, detention has been enlarged by only two hours. I want to make it absolutely plain that the leader in The Times is an indication of the sort of situation in which prejudice to the Bill has been shown. It is headed "The wrong Scottish precedent". It says:Westminster is still responsible for Scottish legislation. It has the duty to scrutinise proposed Scottish law to ensure that it does not offend against any basic principles of law or practice that should be uniform throughout the United Kingdom.find that an extraordinary concept. We are proposing that in Scotland one may—to use the phrase of my hon. Friend the Member for South Angus (Mr. Fraser) 930 which I prefer—be "arrested without charge" or "temporarily arrested". Whereas in England, under section 38 of the Magistrates' Courts Act 1952, one may be arrested, detained and questioned without charge for 24 hours, for Scotland we are proposing six hours.
If that detention is on a serious matter —and hon. Members do not need to represent English constituencies to know this—one can be arrested without limit of time and without charge subject only to habeas corpus if it is ever applied. The powers we seek are infinitely less than powers which have never been the subject of complaint from the National Council for Civil Liberties in England. I, therefore, do not understand the argument that we are leading the English down a dangerous alleyway and I reject it.
I turn now to the matter of tape recording during detention which was raised with great sincerity by my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Darwen (Mr. Fletcher-Cooke). We have arranged two experiments—in Dundee and Falkirk—which started this week. In those experiments three tape recorders simultaneously record, with a time clock, three separate tapes. The tapes cannot be fudged. One will be retained by the police, one will be retained by the court and one will be given to the accused person.
These experiments are not intended as a means of procrastination. They constitute a serious attempt—started by the Labour Government—to record examination or questioning which occurs when a person is at the disadvantage of being alone and the only witness to what he says. I trust that whatever conclusion my hon. and learned Friend may have come to about the English experiment he will take it from me that the Scottish experiment is genuine and sincere. I hope that it will become general practice before long.
I noted that the right hon. Member for Roxburgh, Selkirk and Peebles (Mr. Steele) objected on principle to detention. His principles are so strong that when the issue of detention was debated in the Scottish Grand Committee on 14 December 1979 he made a lengthy speech of four lines in which he did not mention the principle of detention. It was not 931 mentioned by any other Liberal Member of Parliament either. I am not, therefore, entirely impressed by the concept of his principle.
A large number of people pretend to high-minded thoughts on these matters which are the law in other parts of the United Kingdom and which have not been objected to in those parts of the United Kingdom. The amendment tabled by the Opposition deals with the question whether the powers of detention and search will lessen respect for the police or damage relations between the police and the public. That is an important issue.
I regret that there are people who regard the police as hostile. Such people regard anyone who wears a police uniform, whoever he may be, as hostile. I greatly regret that. I have seen examples of it. Anything that we can do to prevent such an attitude is important. I regret that a large number of people, by their words and actions, foster just such an attitude among young people, whether they intend to do so or not.
I do not believe that the police will use these or any other powers to harass young people to create generation gaps, but I am certain that no one who is in favour of civil liberties could base his thoughts on the principle that any law of the land which persons chose to regard as an excuse to be antagonistic towards the police would have a foundation of law for long.
There are difficulties in cities and in urban situations, there are differences of emphasis to many things, and we must always try to overcome them. But nothing which is said in the House or elsewhere which tries to generate false fears and to create a bad image of those who have the thankless task of trying to keep the peace and the law is helpful in that regard.
A number of hon. Members spoke of matters which gave them concern. I pay tribute to the hon. Member for Glasgow, Queen's Park (Mr. McElhone) for his helpful contribution to a Conservative Bill. It is a matter of concern for all of us to attempt, in every way we can, to make football on Saturdays, or whatever day of the week, the fun that it is meant to 932 be. I noted his remarks about trying to sell alcohol in paper cups. I think that we would be wiser to see whether we can make a success of putting the present proposals into effect before going to the further stage. The hon. Gentleman's fears that one type of sport may be discriminated against are unfounded. Wherever it is thought to be necessary, the Secretary of State will designate with impartiality.
My hon. Friend the Member for Edinburgh, South (Mr. Ancram) was worried about peremptory challenges. It has always been my view, acting for the defence, that it was wrong that the defence, particularly if there are several accused, could manipulate the constitution of the jury. That will not lead to what is loosely called jury vetting. I understand that in England jury vetting is a matter for the Crown. We are talking about jury vetting by the defence. At present, there is jury vetting. The defence looks at jurors' occupations, clothes and where they live. If it thinks that they will be in favour of its client—not impartial, but in favour of its client—it will allow them. If it thinks that they will not be in favour of its client, it objects. I do not find that attractive to the concept of justice. There may be one person to whom the defence objects for some unspecified reason and it is right that it should do so, but, if it shows cause, it can object to any other persons.
As my hon. Friend the Member for South Angus said, the Bill introduces advantages for accused people. I wish that those who mind about liberties would mention them more often: the citing of witnesses for the defence, the holding of identification parades for the defence, the 40-day rule and the 12-month rule for bringing prosecutions and the "no case to answer". It is a major advance in the law of Scotland to be able to say "I have no case to answer."
The Bill has been denigrated by certain writers in the media. If it is studied by the public, they will feel safer to live in Scotland. If it is studied by those who have any sense of justice and fairness, they will understand that it is a major step forward in the protection of the innocent and the conviction of the guilty.
§ Question put, That the amendment be made:—934
§ The House divided: Ayes 128, Noes 182.935
|Division No. 251]||AYES||[10 pm|
|Allaun, Frank||Evans, loan (Aberdare)||McMillan, Tom (Glasgow, Central)|
|Archer, Rt Hon Peter||Evans, John (Newton)||Marks, Kenneth|
|Ashton, Joe||Ewing, Harry||Marshall, David (Gl'sgow, Shettles'n)|
|Atkinson, Norman (H'gey, Tott'ham)||Field, Frank||Marshall, Dr Edmund (Goole)|
|Beith, A. J.||Flannery, Martin||Maxton, John|
|Benn, Rt Hon Anthony Wedgwood||Foot, Rt Hon Michael||Meacher, Michael|
|Bennett, Andrew (Stockport N)||Ford, Ben||Millan, Rt Hon Bruce|
|Bidwell, Sydney||Foster, Derek||Miller, Dr M. S. (East Kilbride)|
|Booth, Rt Hon Albert||Foulkes, George||Morris, Rt Hon Charles (Openshaw)|
|Bradley, Tom||Freud, Clement||Morton, George|
|Bray, Dr Jeremy||Garrett, W. E. (Wallsend)||O'Neill, Martin|
|Brown, Hugh D. (Provan)||George, Bruce||Pendry, Tom|
|Brown, Ronald W. (Hackney S)||Golding, John||Powell, Raymond (Ogmore)|
|Brown, Ron (Edinburgh, Leith)||Grant, George (Morpeth)||Prescott, John|
|Buchan, Norman||Grant, John (Islington C)||Price, Christopher (Lewisham West)|
|Callaghan, Jim (Middleton & P)||Hamilton, James (Bothwell)||Race, Reg|
|Campbell, Ian||Hamilton, W. W. (Central Fife)||Rooker, J. W.|
|Campbell-Savours, Dale||Harrison, Rt Hon Walter||Ross, Ernest (Dundee West)|
|Carmichael, Neil||Hart, Rt Hon Dame Judith||Rowlands, Ted|
|Carter-Jones, Lewis||Haynes, Frank||Shore, Rt Hon Peter (Step and Pop)|
|Cocks, Rt Hon Michael (Bristol S)||Heffer, Eric S.||Skinner, Dennis|
|Coleman, Donald||Hogg, Norman (E Dunbartonshire)||Smith, Rt Hon J. (North Lanarkshire)|
|Concannon, Rt Hon J. D.||Home Robertson, John||Soley, Clive|
|Cook, Robin F.||Homewood, William||Spearing, Nigel|
|Cowans, Harry||Hughes, Robert (Aberdeen North)||Spriggs, Leslie|
|Craigen, J. M. (Glasgow, Maryhill)||Janner, Hon Greville||Steel, Rt Hon David|
|Cryer, Bob||Jay, Rt Hon Douglas||Stewart, Rt Hon Donald (W Isles)|
|Cunliffe, Lawrence||John, Brynmor||Stoddart, David|
|Cunningham, George (Islington S)||Jones, Rt Hon Alec (Rhondda)||Strang, Gavin|
|Cunningham, Dr John (Whitehaven)||Jones, Barry (East Flint)||Thomas, Dafydd (Merioneth)|
|Dalyell, Tam||Kilfedder, James A.||Thomas, Dr Roger (Carmarthen)|
|Davis, Terry (B'rm'ham, Stechford)||Kilroy-Silk, Robert||Tinn, James|
|Deakins, Eric||Lambie, David||Wainwright, Richard (Colne Valley)|
|Dean, Joseph (Leeds West)||Lamond, James||White, Frank R. (Bury & Radcliffe)|
|Dempsey, James||Leadbitter, Ted||White. James (Glasgow, Pollok)|
|Dewar, Donald||Leighton, Ronald||Whitlock, William|
|Dixon, Donald||Lewis, Ron (Carlisle)||Wilson, William (Coventry SE)|
|Dormand, Jack||Litherland, Robert||Winnick, David|
|Douglas, Dick||Lyons, Edward (Bradford West)||Woolmer, Kenneth|
|Dunn, James A. (Liverpool, Kirkdale)||McElhone, Frank||Young, David (Bolton East)|
|Eastham, Ken||McKay, Allen (Penistone)|
|Edwards, Robert (Wolv SE)||McKelvey, William||TELLERS FOR THE AYES:|
|Ellis, Raymond (NE Derbyshire)||MacKenzie, Rt Hon Gregor||Mr. Hugh McCartney and|
|Ellis, Tom (Wrexham)||Maclennan, Robert||Mr. Ted Graham.|
|Alexander, Richard||Clarke, Kenneth (Rushcliffe)||Haselhurst, Alan|
|Ancram, Michael||Cockeram, Eric||Hawkins, Paul|
|Aspinwall, Jack||Colvin, Michael||Hawksley, Warren|
|Atkins, Robert (Preston North)||Corrie, John||Heddle, John|
|Baker, Nicholas (North Dorset)||Cranborne, Viscount||Henderson, Barry|
|Bendall, Vivian||Crouch, David||Holland, Philip (Carlton)|
|Benyon, W. (Buckingham)||Douglas-Hamilton, Lord James||Hooson, Tom|
|Berry, Hon Anthony||Dover, Denshore||Howell, Ralph (North Norfolk)|
|Best, Keith||Dunn, Robert (Dartford)||Hurd, Hon Douglas|
|Bevan, David Gilroy||Dykes, Hugh||Jenkin, Rt Hon Patrick|
|Biggs-Davison, John||Eden, Rt Hon Sir John||Jessel, Toby|
|Blackburn, John||Eggar, Timothy||Jopling, Rt Hon Michael|
|Bonsor, Sir Nicholas||Fairbairn, Nicholas||Knight, Mrs Jill|
|Boscawen, Hon Robert||Fairgrieve, Russell||Knox, David|
|Bottomley, Peter (Woolwich West)||Faith, Mrs Shella||Lang, Ian|
|Boyson, Dr Rhodes||Fenner, Mrs Peggy||Langford-Holt, Sir John|
|Braine, Sir Bernard||Fisher, Sir Nigel||Lawrence, Ivan|
|Bright, Graham||Fletcher, Alexander (Edinburgh N)||Le Marchant, Spencer|
|Brinton, Tim||Fookes, Miss Janet||Lennox-Boyd, Hon Mark|
|Brocklebank-Fowler, Christopher||Fraser, Peter (South Angus)||Lester, Jim (Beeston)|
|Brooke, Hon Peter||Gardiner, George (Reigate)||Lloyd, Ian (Havant & Waterloo)|
|Brown, Michael (Brigg & Sc'thorpe)||Garel-Jones, Tristan||Lloyd, Peter (Fareham)|
|Bruce-Gardyne, John||Glyn, Dr Alan||Luce, Richard|
|Bulmer, Esmond||Gorst, John||Lyell, Nicholas|
|Burden, F. A.||Gow, Ian||McCusker, H.|
|Butler, Hon Adam||Grant, Anthony (Harrow C)||Macfarlane, Neil|
|Cadbury, Jocelyn||Gray, Hamish||MacGregor, John|
|Carlisle, John (Luton West)||Griffiths, Eldon (Bury St Edmunds)||MacKay, John (Argyll)|
|Carlisle, Kenneth (Lincoln)||Griffiths, Peter (Portsmouth N)||McNair-Wilson, Michael (Newbury)|
|Carlisle, Rt Hon Mark (Runcorn)||Grist, Ian||McQuarrie, Albert|
|Chapman, Sydney||Grylls, Michael||Major, John|
|Clark, Hon Alan (Plymouth, Sutton)||Hamilton, Michael (Salisbury)||Marlow, Tony|
|Marshall, Michael (Arundel)||Patten, Christopher (Bath)||Stainton, Keith|
|Marten, Neil (Banbury)||Patten, John (Oxford)||Stanbrook, Ivor|
|Mather, Carol||Percival, Sir Ian||Steen, Anthony|
|Maude, Rt Hon Angus||Pollock, Alexander||Stevens, Martin|
|Mawby, Ray||Porter, George||Stewart, John (East Renfrewshire)|
|Mawhinney, Dr Brian||Powell, Rt Hon J. Enoch (S Down)||Stradling Thomas, J.|
|Maxwell-Hyslop, Robin||Prentice, Rt Hon Reg||Taylor, Teddy (Southend East)|
|Mellor, David||Price, David (Eastleigh)||Tebbit, Norman|
|Miller, Hal (Bromsgrove & Redditch)||Raison, Timothy||Thatcher, Rt Hon Mrs Margaret|
|Mills, lain (Meriden)||Rathbone, Tim||Thorne, Neil (Ilford South)|
|Mills, Peter (West Devon)||Ridley, Hon Nicholas||Thornton, Malcolm|
|Moate, Roger||Rifkind, Malcolm||Townend, John (Bridlington)|
|Molyneaux, James||Roberts, Michael (Cardiff NW)||Trippler, David|
|Monro, Hector||Roberts, Wyn (Conway)||Waldegrave, Hon William|
|Morris, Michael (Northampton, Sth)||Ross, Wm. (Londonderry)||Walker, Bill (Perth & E Perthshire)|
|Morrison, Hon Charles (Devizes)||Rossi, Hugh||Walker-Smith, Rt Hon Sir Derek|
|Morrison, Hon Peter (City of Chester)||Royle, Sir Anthony||Waller, Gary|
|Murphy, Christopher||Sainsbury, Hon Timothy||Ward, John|
|Myles, David||St. John-Stevas, Rt Hon Norman||Watson, John|
|Neale, Gerrard||Shaw, Giles (Pudsey)||Wheeler, John|
|Needham, Richard||Shaw, Michael (Scarborough)||Wickenden, Keith|
|Nelson, Anthony||Shersby, Michael||Wilkinson, John|
|Neubert, Michael||Silvester, Fred||Winterton, Nicholas|
|Newton, Tony||Sims, Roger||Wolfson, Mark|
|Normanton, Tom||Skeet, T. H. H.||Young, Sir George (Acton)|
|Onslow, Cranley||Smith, Dudley (War. and Leam'ton)||Younger, Rt Hon George|
|Page, Rt Hon Sir R. Graham||Speed, Keith|
|Page, Richard (SW Hertfordshire)||Speller Tony||TELLERS FOR THE NOES:|
|Paisley, Rev Ian||Spicer, Michael (S Worcestershire)||Mr. John Cope and|
|Parris, Matthew||Sproat, lain||Mr. John Wakeham.|
§ Question accordingly negatived.
§ Main Question put:ª936
§ The House divided: Ayes 183, Noes 128.937
|Division No. 252||AYES||[10.12 pm|
|Alexander, Richard||Faith, Mrs Sheila||MacKay, John (Argyll)|
|Ancram, Michael||Fenner, Mrs Peggy||McNair-Wilson, Michael (Newbury)|
|Aspinwall, Jack||Fisher, Sir Nigel||McQuarrie, Albert|
|Atkins, Robert (Preston North)||Fletcher, Alexander (Edinburgh N)||Major, John|
|Baker, Nicholas (North Dorset)||Fookes, Miss Janet||Marlow, Tony|
|Bendall, Vivian||Fraser, Peter (South Angus)||Marshall, Michael (Arundel)|
|Benyon, W. (Buckingham)||Gardiner, George (Reigate)||Marten, Neil (Banbury)|
|Berry, Hon Anthony||Garel-Jones, Tristan||Mather, Carol|
|Best, Keith||Glyn, Dr Alan||Maude, Rt Hon Angus|
|Bevan, David Gilroy||Gorst, John||Mawby, Ray|
|Biggs-Davison, John||Gow, Ian||Mawhinney, Dr Brian|
|Blackburn, John||Grant, Anthony (Harrow C)||Maxwell-Hyslop, Robin|
|Bonsor, Sir Nicholas||Gray, Hamish||Mellor, David|
|Boscawen, Hon Robert||Griffiths, Eldon (Bury St Edmunds)||Miller, Hal (Bromsgrove & Redditch)|
|Bottomley, Peter (Woolwich West)||Griffiths, Peter (Portsmouth N)||Mills, lain (Meriden)|
|Boyson, Dr Rhodes||Grist, Ian||Mills, Peter (West Devon)|
|Braine, Sir Bernard||Grylls, Michael||Moate, Roger|
|Bright, Graham||Hamilton, Michael (Salisbury)||Molyneaux, James|
|Brinton, Tim||Haselhurst, Alan||Monro, Hector|
|Brocklebank-Fowler, Christopher||Hawkins, Paul||Morris, Michael (Northampton, Sth)|
|Brooke, Hon Peter||Hawksley, Warren||Morrison, Hon Charles (Devizes)|
|Brown, Michael (Brigg & Sc'thorpe)||Heddle, John||Morrison, Hon Peter (City of Chester)|
|Bruce-Gardyne, John||Henderson, Barry||Murphy, Christopher|
|Bulmer, Esmond||Holland, Philip (Carlton)||Myles, David|
|Burden, F. A.||Hooson, Tom||Neale, Gerrard|
|Butler, Hon Adam||Howell, Ralph (North Norfolk)||Needham, Richard|
|Cadbury, Jocelyn||Hurd, Hon Douglas||Nelson, Anthony|
|Carlisle, John (Luton West)||Jenkin, Rt Hon Patrick||Neubert, Michael|
|Carlisle, Kenneth (Lincoln)||Jessel, Toby||Newton, Tony|
|Carlisle, Rt Hon Mark (Runcorn)||Jopling, Rt Hon Michael||Normanton, Tom|
|Chapman, Sydney||Kilfedder, James A.||Onslow, Cranley|
|Clark, Hon Alan (Plymouth, Sulton)||Knight, Mrs Jill||Page, Rt Hon Sir R. Graham|
|Clarke, Kenneth (Rushcliffe)||Knox, David||Page, Richard (SW Hertfordshire)|
|Cockeram, Eric||Lang, Ian||Paisley, Rev Ian|
|Colvin, Michael||Langford-Holt, Sir John||Parris, Matthew|
|Corrle, John||Lawrence, Ivan||Patten, Christopher (Bath)|
|Cranborne, Viscount||Le Marchant, Spencer||Patten, John (Oxford)|
|Crouch, David||Lennox-Boyd, Hon Mark||Percival, Sir Ian|
|Douglas-Hamilton, Lord James||Lester, Jim (Beeston)||Pollock, Alexander|
|Dover, Denshore||Lloyd, Ian (Havant & Waterloo)||Porter, George|
|Dunn, Robert (Dartford)||Lloyd, Peter (Fareham)||Powell, Rt Hon J. Enoch (S Down)|
|Dykes, Hugh||Luce, Richard||Prentice, Rt Hon Reg|
|Eden, Rt Hon Sir John||Lyell, Nicholas||Price, Christopher (Lewisham West)|
|Eggar, Timothy||McCusker, H.||Raison, Timothy|
|Fairbairn, Nicholas||Macfarlane, Neil||Rathbone, Tim|
|Fairgrieve, Russell||MacGregor, John||Ridley, Hon Nicholas|
|Rifkind, Malcolm||Spicer, Michael (S Worcestershire)||Walker, Bill (Perth & E Perthshire)|
|Roberts, Michael (Cardiff NW)||Sproat, lain||Walker-Smith, Rt Hon Sir Derek|
|Roberts, Wyn (Conway)||Stainton, Keith||Waller, Gary|
|Ross, Wm. (Londonderry)||Stanbrook, Ivor||Ward, John|
|Rossi, Hugh||Steen, Anthony||Watson, John|
|Royle, Sir Anthony||Stevens, Martin||Wheeler, John|
|Sainsbury, Hon Timothy||Stewart, John (East Renfrewshire)||Wickenden, Keith|
|St. John-Stevas, Rt Hon Norman||Stradling Thomas, J.||Wilkinson, John|
|Shaw, Giles (Pudsey)||Tebbit, Norman||Winterton, Nicholas|
|Shaw, Michael (Scarborough)||Thatcher, Rt Hon Mrs Margaret||Wolfson, Mark|
|Shersby, Michael||Thorne, Neil (Ilford South)||Young, Sir George (Acton)|
|Silvester, Fred||Thornton, Malcolm||Younger, Rt Hon George|
|Sims, Roger||Townend, John (Bridlington)|
|Skeet, T. H. H.||Trippier, David||TELLERS FOR THE AYES:|
|Smith, Dudley (War. and Leam'ton)||Taylor, Robert (Croydon NW)||Mr. John Wakeham and|
|Speed, Keith||Waldegrave, Hon William||Mr. John Cope|
|Allaun, Frank||Evans, John (Newton)||McMillan, Tom (Glasgow, Central)|
|Archer, Rt Hon Peter||Ewing, Harry||Marks, Kenneth|
|Ashton, Joe||Field, Frank||Marshall, David (Gl'sgow, Shettles'n)|
|Atkinson, Norman (H'gey, Tott'ham)||Flannery, Martin||Marshall, Dr Edmund (Goole)|
|Beith, A. J.||Foot, Rt Hon Michael||Martin, Michael (Gl'gow, Springb'rn)|
|Benn, Rt Hon Anthony Wedgwood||Ford, Ben||Maxton, John|
|Bennett, Andrew (Stockport N)||Foster, Derek||Meacher, Michael|
|Bidwell, Sydney||Foulkes, George||Millan, Rt Hon Bruce|
|Booth, Rt Hon Albert||Freud, Clement||Miller, Dr M. S. (East Kilbride)|
|Bradley, Tom||Garrett, W. E. (Wallsend)||Morris, Rt Hon Charles (Openshaw)|
|Bray, Dr Jeremy||George, Bruce||O'Neill, Martin|
|Brown, Hugh D. (Provan)||Golding, John||Pendry, Tom|
|Brown, Ronald W. (Hackney S)||Graham, Ted||Powell, Raymond (Ogmore)|
|Brown, Ron(Edinburgh, Leith)||Grant, George (Morpeth)||Prescott, John|
|Buchan, Norman||Grant, John (Islington C)||Price, Christopher (Lewisham West)|
|Callaghan, Jim (Middleton & P)||Hamilton, James (Bothwell)||Race, Reg|
|Campbell, Ian||Hamilton, W. W. (Central Fife)||Rooker, J. W.|
|Campbell-Savours, Dale||Harrison, Rt Hon Walter||Ross, Ernest (Dundee West)|
|Carmichael, Neil||Hart, Rt Hon Dame Judith||Rowlands, Ted|
|Carter-Jones, Lewis||Haynes, Frank||Shore, Rt Hon Peter (Step and Pop)|
|Cocks, Rt Hon Michael (Bristol S)||Heffer, Eric S.||Skinner, Dennis|
|Coleman, Donald||Hogg, Norman (E Dunbartonshire)||Smith, Rt Hon J. (North Lanarkshire)|
|Concannon, Rt Hon J. D.||Home Robertson, John||Soley, Clive|
|Cook, Robin F.||Homewood, William||Spearing, Nigel|
|Cowans, Harry||Hughes, Robert (Aberdeen North)||Spriggs, Leslie|
|Craigen, J. M. (Glasgow, Maryhill)||Janner, Hon Greville||Steel, Rt Hon David|
|Cryer, Bob||Jay, Rt Hon Douglas||Stewart, Rt Hon Donald (W Isles)|
|Cunliffe, Lawrence||John, Brynmor||Stoddart, David|
|Cunningham, George (Islington S)||Johnston, Russell (Inverness)||Strang, Gavin|
|Cunningham, Dr John (Whitehaven)||Jones, Rt Hon Alec (Rhondda)||Thomas, Dafydd (Merloneth)|
|Dalyell, Tam||Jones, Barry (East Flint)||Thomas Dr Roger (Carmarthen)|
|Davis, Terry (B'rm'ham, Stechford)||Kilroy-Silk, Robert||Tinn, James|
|Deakins, Eric||Lambie, David||Wainwright, Richard (Colne Valley)|
|Dempsey, James||Lamond, James||White, Frank R. (Bury & Radcliffe)|
|Dewar, Donald||Leadbitter, Ted||White, James (Glasgow, Pollok)|
|Dixon, Donald||Leighton, Ronald||Whitlock, William|
|Dormand, Jack||Lewis, Ron (Carlisle)||Wilson, William (Coventry SE)|
|Douglas, Dick||Litherland, Robert||Winnick, David|
|Dunn, James A. (Liverpool, Kirkdale)||Lyons, Edward (Bradford West)||Woolmer, Kenneth|
|Eastham, Ken||McCartney, Hugh||Young, David (Bolton East)|
|Edwards, Robert (Wolv SE)||McElhone, Frank|
|Ellis, Raymond (NE Derbyshire)||McKay, Allen (Penistone)||TELLERS FOR THE NOES:|
|Ellis, Tom (Wrexham)||McKelvey, William||Mr. George Morton and|
|Evans, loan (Aberdare)||MacKenzie, Rt Hon Gregor||Mr. Joseph Dean.|
§ Question accordingly agreed to.
§ Bill read a Second time.
§ Bill committed to a Standing Committee, pursuant to Standing Order No. 40 (Committal of Bills).