HC Deb 31 March 1981 vol 2 cc226-48
Mr. George Cunningham

I beg to move amendment No. 2, in page 5, line 11, leave out Clause 8.

Mr. Deputy Speaker

With this it will be convenient to take the following amendments:

No. 3, in page 5, line 27, leave out from `to' to end of line 29 and insert `a fine not exceeding £400'.

No. 4, in page 5, line 27, leave out from `to' to `a' in line 28, and Government amendments Nos. 17, 18, 19 and 23

Mr. Cunningham

We come now to far more important aspecs of the Bill than those that we have just been considering. This group of amendments really embraces three different subjects and questions. First, should the new offence of interfering with a motor car be put on the statute book at all? Is there any need for it? Secondly, if it is, ought that offence to be one for which a penalty of imprisonment can be awarded? Thirdly, should this offence be one that may be committed only in a public place, or should it be commitable anywhere at all? I should like to take these points in reverse order.

The term "public place" is differently defined for different purposes on the statute book but in Committee we ensured that in the Bill the reference in the clause to "public place" meant a place where the person in question was a trespasser at the time. It is worth remarking that a similar offence that already exists on the statute book—namely, the offence of tampering with a motor vehicle under section 29 of the Road Traffic Act 1972—may be committed in a public place or in a parking place provided by a local authority.

I made the point—and we moved an amendment in Standing Committee to achieve this—that if we are, unfortunately, to have this offence, it is arguable that it should apply to the offence not only when it is committed on a public street but when it is committed, in particular, in a car park or, let us say, on a council housing estate. This is because, if the offence is to exist at all, residents on a housing estate are going to be very puzzled to know why it can be used if their car is parked on the street but not if it is parked in a supposedly more secure position within the estate boundaries.

I think that in Committee we were generally in agreement that such an extension would be desirable, and we bothered ourselves mainly about where the line should be drawn. On the whole, I would prefer to draw the line short of a private driveway, so that a local authority car park in the middle of a town used for shopping purposes, a car-parking space on a council estate, a car-parking space in a private block of flats, and the like, would be included but a small private driveway would be excluded.

I accept that there is a logical difficulty in justifying that line and almost certainly a practical difficulty in defining it. Therefore, with some hesitation we have come to the conclusion that the right thing to do, if we are unfortunately to have this offence, is to allow it to be an offence that can be committed in any place.

The second issue is whether the offence should be one in respect of which a sentence of imprisonment may be awarded. We are trying to cut down the prison population. Ministers fall over themselves—I will not say bullying the judges but trying to influence judges and benches either not to award custodial sentences when at the moment they do, or to award shorter sentences. Given that we are sure that the offence should not exist, we are thereby sure that if it does exist it should not be possible to award a sentence of imprisonment.

In Committee my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Bradford, West (Mr. Lyons) said that interference with a motor vehicle is an offence that is not triable by jury, and that there will be some temptation on the police to bring a charge under this offence rather than a charge of attempted theft, for example, to avoid jury trial.

We all know—especially those of us who have the stipendiaries of London to deal with—what a difference there can be in the chances of conviction before a London stipendiary, before a jury, or, for that matter, on appeal in the Crown court. So there is a case for saying that there should be some disincentive against the police using this new offence too much, and such a disincentive might be the non-availability of a custodial sentence under it. Then, if the police felt that they wished to expose the charged person to the possiblity of prison, they would have to go for the more serious charge of attempted theft, which is what they always should do if the actions that they say they have observed are ones that could conceivably justify that charge. On those general and specific grounds we do not believe that the new offence of interference with a motor vehicle is one that should be imprisonable, and we have tabled an amendment to that effect.

Our view is that the offence of interference is not needed. "Sus", the offence of loitering with intent to commit an arrestable offence, was, even 156 years ago, an aberration in English law. It was contrary to proper principles of law as much then as it is today. Indeed, in some respects one would have thought that there would be more opposition to it in the middle of the nineteenth century than there is today.

Britain is an extremely conservative country in that kind of thing. Once something gets on to the statute book we are lucky if we manage to get it off after 156 years. If we put this new interference offence on the statute book, my prediction is that it will be there 156 years from now, and we shall never know what life would have been like without it. Almost certainly life would have gone on without it in very much the same way. I shall have a suggestion to make to our colleagues in the House of Lords as to what they might be able to do about it. Unfortunately, I thought of it too recently to be able to table an amendment here.

9 pm

The new offence is a great deal better than it was as it stood when the Bill first appeared. We have tightened up the burden of intention, which the prosecution must show. The Law Commission, in its thorough consideration of the law of attempt, indicated many times that it felt that criminality should not extend too far back from a completed criminal offence. It said that on those grounds the general law of attempt should not apply to actions too remote from the final act and that if Parliament wanted to extend further away from a clear, final offence, Parliament ought to lay down the limitations. The Law Commission report implied clearly that Parliament should be extremely cautious in doing so and that it should do so only on overwhelming grounds, where certain preparatory behaviour was so dangerous to society that we wanted to make that preparatory behaviour a criminal act even though it would not be a criminal act under the general law of attempt.

On those grounds, the Opposition feel that no case is shown. There is no case that the Minister made on Second Reading or in Standing Committee to justify the putting of this offence in the place of "sus". The Select Committee, which recommended that we get rid of "sus", suggested that there was no need to put an offence in its place. The Committee was almost unanimous in its report. I am aware that the Minister is now looking up the part of the report that mentions that the one gap that could be left was that of interfering with car doors, and the like. There is, however, no point in repealing something if one fills the totality of the gap that is left. The Select Committee's advice was to take it away and not to replace it except with the general law of attempt. The Committee was writing at a time before the Law Commission produced its report.

Our proceedings in Committee revealed confusion among some witnesses about the difficulties that could arise if the police were not able to bring a charge of this nature. Some of that confusion was reflected in the speech of the hon. Member for Bury St. Edmunds (Mr. Griffiths). It seems to be suggested that if the police see somebody doing something suspicious they have to be able either to charge him with an offence or at least arrest him. One often says that the police can arrest under the Criminal Law Act. This was stated by the Minister a few moments ago.

The Opposition maintain that what the police should do in those circumstances is to wait and see whether the man does the thing. I believe that this is what the police normally do. If the police see somebody who looks as if he is about to break into a house and the behaviour is not so clearly criminal as to justify a charge, they will normally hang around and wait to see whether he does it. That is the correct alternative to this kind of offence, rather than bringing a charge in respect of behaviour that is, at most, preparatory, and, at its most innocent, subject as much to innocent interpretation as to guilty interpretation.

On those grounds, the Opposition believe that it would have been better at least to enjoy life without the offence of interference with a motor vehicle for a while to see whether we suffered. The suggestion that I make to our colleagues in the House of Lords is that they should table an amendment to say that the clause will come into force only at a date to be declared by the Minister.

Mr. Percy Grieve (Solihull)

Would not the enjoyment be entirely that of the criminal classes?

Mr. Cunningham

That is what we are trying to find out. It is always best to "suck it and see." It is best not to put laws on to the statute book unless they are clearly necessary. It is best not to invent crimes unless they are necessary. We shall not know whether this crime is necessary unless we have life without it for a little while.

Even people who believe that the retention of this offence is highly desirable do not regard it as the most important thing in the statute book. It is at the end of the spectrum. It is not an attempt to commit a criminal offence. It is very low down indeed in the criminality spectrum. So let us see what it is like without it first. We may not need it at all. Once a law is on the statute book, if it is removed before 150 years that will be a record. I suggest to our colleagues in the House of Lords that they should invent an amendment whereby the offence comes into force only when the Minister declares a day. I hope that the Minister will then leave it for a while and declare a day later, when we can see whether it is necessary.

On those grounds we shall vote for amendment No. 2 to delete the new offence of interference with a motor vehicle. If, unfortunately, we are unsuccessful in that attempt we shall vote for amendment No. 4, to make the offence non-imprisonable.

Mr. Mayhew

I am grateful to the hon. Member for Islington, South and Finsbury (Mr. Cunningham) for the clear way in which he moved his amendment. I am responsible for a number of amendments in the group and it may be helpful if I say something about them now.

I am grateful for the hon. Member's recognition that if we are to have the new offence of motor vehicle interference it should apply wherever the vehicle is found. We believe that the new offence contained in clause 8 is a useful crime-fighting tool for the police.

The hon. Member asks why we should not enjoy life without "sus" and not put anything in its place. Anyone who reads the police evidence to the Committee and takes note of the high proportion of cases in which "sus" is used against motor vehicle interference will believe that there is not much enjoyment to be gained for people whose cars are interfered with, who have articles stolen from their cars, or whose cars are taken and driven away or stolen. That is why, having paid attention to the evidence about the high incidence of opportunist street crime against vehicles, we believe that we cannot leave the gap unfilled.

The hon. Member for Islington, South and Finsbury said that there was no point in abolishing a law if we intended to fill the gap completely. However, we are not filling the gap completely. My hon. Friend the Member for Bury St. Edmunds (Mr. Griffiths) asked about the illustrations given by the police in their evidence. I had to tell them that the gap was not fully filled in the particular and specialised circumstances to which he referred. Section 2 of the Criminal Law Act is available but there is no substantive offence to take the place of "sus" in such circumstances.

One has to strike a balance. The Government believe that the weight to be given to the adverse consequences of keeping "sus" on the statute book is greater than the advantages of having a substantive offence that would meet the circumstances to which my hon. Friend referred. We are not filling the gap completely.

Mr. Robert Kilroy-Silk (Ormskirk)

I am sure that the Minister will accept that, in one respect at least, the new offence goes wider than the existing "sus" offences. Under existing legislation two separate occurrences have to happen whereas under the new offence simply trying one car door will be sufficient to cause an offence. Could not the Minister at least amend the Bill so that there must be two separate acts before an offence can be deemed to have been committed?

Mr. Mayhew

Personally, I believe that the offence is narrower than "sus", because it requires the proof of specific intent—one of the three theft-related offences—whereas one of the great bones of contention about "sus" was that it did not require any intent. People often complained that they had done nothing. In that regard, therefore, this offence is very much narrower.

In answer to the hon. Gentleman's point about having to commit more than one offence, the matter was dealt with by one of the distinguished police officers who gave evidence, Sir Philip Knights. He said that he did not envisage any prosecutions being brought unless at least two actions had been observed. He thought that that was the way the police would operate. In other words, he thought that a single handling of a car door handle would never form the substance of a prosecution.

Mr. Kilroy-Silk

The hon. and learned Gentleman cites with approval the evidence of Sir Philip Knights, the chief constable of the West Midlands. If he approves of that, why does he not put it in the Bill? It is certainly not sufficient for him to say "We have made the offence in the Bill, but we have been given an assurance by chief constables that they will exercise the discretion widely." That is not an acceptable way in which to legislate.

Mr. Mayhew

I am not saying that one cannot visualise circumstances in which it was so abundantly clear that the interference with the motor vehicle was carried out with the intention of committing one of the theft-related offences that it would not be sufficient to proceed on one act of interference alone. That is why I resist the hon. Gentleman's suggestion.

In Committee we changed the offence considerably. I shall say a word on the subject, because it is important. A number of hon. Members on both sides argued that the clause could be improved if it included a specific requirement that the prosecution should have to show that an act of interference was carried out with criminal intent. My hon. Friend the Member for Grantham (Mr. Hogg) raised this subject on Second Reading. Those hon. Members who served on the Special Standing Committee will know that the Government paid careful attention to those criticisms and tabled an amendment, which the Committee accepted, to introduce such a requirement.

The origin of the clause is to be found in the report of the Home Affairs Select Committee on "sus". The Committee specifically drew attention to the difficulties that arose in charging an attempt in the case of interference with parked motor vehicles when it was not clear precisely what the individual concerned intended to do. That passage is to be found at paragraph 37 of the Report. The Committee said: There is evidence of some confusion in the law of attempt. This arises particularly in cases where;(a) it is unclear exactly what offence was being attempted—for example, when a person attempts to enter a locked car and it is not known whether he intended to steal it, to drive around in it, to sleep in it or to steal from it; Virtually everyone who has considered these matters has acknowledged that the difficulty of the law of attempt it that in prosecuting one has to specify which particular offence the accused person was trying to commit. It is very difficult. Magistrates have to ask themselves whether they are satisfied that it was offence A or whether it was perhaps offence B. If it might be offence B they cannot be satisfied that it was offence A. Therefore the prosecution has to fail.

Mr. George Cunningham

The Government have found the solution to that problem—and a very obvious solution it is—in the amendment to clause 8, which the Government tabled in Standing Committee. They say there that the intention that needs to be proved is an intention to do one of the three specified offences, and it does not need to be shown which of the three offences it was intended to commit.

Equally, one could rely on the law of attempt but provide that in the case of an attempt to do any one of those things it would be sufficient to satisfy the court that the person was attempting to do one of those things even if it could not be shown which of the three he was attempting to do. In other words, the proximity to the completion of the offence would remain the same as what is required for the law of attempt, but there would be the qualification that in this case there did not need to be proof of attempting a specific offence but one of three, four or even five offences.

9.15 pm
Mr. Mayhew

The evidence of the police officers in particular establishes the need for an offence of interference with a motor vehicle. The suggestion that a police officer should wait and see what happens does not reflect the realities of policing. If we followed the suggestion, much more time would have to elapse, and we should be faced with the difficulties that everyone acknowledges, however one formulates the offence of attempting to commit a criminal offence, of proximity or more than a merely preparatory act. Anyone who studies the police evidence in particular will acknowledge, having regard to the high prevalence of opportunist street crime concerning motor vehicles, that there is need for an offence of interference. That is why the Government are right to retain the provision, which is a valuable addition to the statute book.

The discussion of the provision in Committee, with particular reference to the police officers' evidence, confirmed that it was necessary to establish such an offence. It is important to bear in mind the evidence that a significant proportion of "sus" cases concerned interference with vehicles. The witnesses also emphasised the importance of thefts of and from vehicles in the overall crime figures. The latter is all too well known to those who live in urban areas. Those who oppose the creation of a new offence argue that such activities can be dealt with by other means, but their arguments do not sufficiently address themselves to the reality of the problem.

It is suggested that we should give it a try without the provision and see how we get on, but we should not be seen to be discharging our responsibility to the public if we took away a statutory offence that has been used substantially to prosecute people for interfering with motor vehicles and did not put anything in its place, because we wanted to wait and see. In these days of increasing crime, we should not be considered to be particularly careful of our duties if we adopted that blithely confident approach.

Mr. Andrew F. Bennett (Stockport, North)

The clause-heading is "Interference with vehicles". The Minister sometimes uses the word "vehicles" and sometimes "motor vehicles". Why should the provision apply only to motor vehicles and not, for instance, to bicycles, when bicycle thefts are increasing? The heading "Vehicles" would cover bicycles and motor vehicles, if the clause has to remain in the Bill.

Mr. Mayhew

Bicycles get stolen, and without straining the logic of our philosophy the provision could be extended to bicycles, boats and other forms of conveyance. We have not done so because it has been impressed on us that the main area for such crime is motor vehicles. If the hon. Gentleman presses us hard, the provision might be extended elsewhere, although we have been anxious to confine the clause. "Sus" has not been used to an appreciable extent to deal with possible bicycle thefts, although it may have been in university towns. I do not know.

Finally, I come to whether the offence should be punishable by imprisonment. If we did not have the power to imprison, there would be no means by which magistrates could make a convicted person the subject, for example, of a community service order. That is important If the hon. Member for Ormskirk (Mr. Kilroy-Silk:) is concerned, as we all are, not to have unnecessary custodial sentences, it would be a great mistake to close the door to the making of a community service order or a detention sentence order. Such orders can be made only in respect of imprisonable offences. The appropriate method of dealing with persistent offenders may be by way of custodial orders.

Mr. Clive Soley (Hammersmith, North)

It is important to be technically correct. It is merely a Home Office recommendation that a community service order may be imposed as an alternative to imprisonment. I think that the Minister will find that I am right in saying that a number of courts use such orders in respect of nonimprisonable offences and are within the law in so doing.

Mr. Mayhew

Distant though I am from the source of wisdom in these matters, I am told that I am right and the hon. Gentleman is wrong. If I find that that is incorrect, I shall write to the hon. Gentleman to acknowledge my mistake.

I think that the Government are right in not accepting the amendments, which would prevent magistrates' courts from imposing sentences of imprisonment in proper cases, important though it is that no unnecessary sentences of imprisonment should be brought about. I paid attention to the remarks of the hon. and learned Member for Bradford, West (Mr. Lyons), who is not in the Chamber today, about applying a disincentive and the fear that the police would prosecute under this provision because otherwise they would risk a jury trial. I do not think that his proposal is the answer to determining this issue.

We are discussing a useful crime-fighting tool that has been made much more effective by reason of the evidence to which we listened in Committee and by the changes made in Committee. Having fashioned that tool, there is no reason why we should deny to the police the ability to use it on private premises or in council car parks and restrict its use to public places. I hope that the House will support the Government's view.

Mr. Kilroy-Silk

I am sorry that the Minister chose to answer the debate before it had really been opened. That is an unusual procedure on Report. I support the amendment, which seeks to delete clause 8, mainly on the ground of the unnecessary imprisonment of offenders and because the new offence of interference with a motor vehicle, which is created by clause 8 as amended in Committee, requires an intention to commit an offence of theft or of taking and driving away.

The danger of the clause as it stands arises from the difficulty of deciding what was or was not in the mind of the accused. I shall quote from the report of the Home Affairs Select Committee entitled "Race Relations and the `Sus' Law", the Bill being to some extent derived from the report. In commenting on the present suspected person offence the Select Committee stated: A conviction depends on the court's judgment as to the subjective intentions of an accused revealed by a course of behaviour witnessed in most cases by two or more people who are usually two police officers". The Committee went on to say: the understandable absence of civilian witnesses makes the offence yet more unsatisfactory". It added: It is impossible to make any accurate estimate of the proportion of those convicted for 'sus' who did not in fact intend to commit an arrestable offence. It is indeed questionable if, in many cases, the accused could themselves have been certain as to their precise intentions when arrested. Exactly similar problems to those will arise in adducing an intent to commit one of the offences contained in clause 8(2).

I accept that the clause does not merely re-enact the "sus" offence. It is not re-enacted in another guise. As the Minister said in response to my earlier intervention, the clause is expressly limited to circumstances in which someone interferes with a vehicle, though it would seem not a bicycle.

However, even in those circumstances, the new offence goes wider than the present "sus" offence, as it would depart from the present requirement that at least one act which would give rise to suspicion must be followed by a further separate act which constitutes the offence. In contrast, under the Bill as presently drafted, trying a single car door would suffice for an offence to be committed. That is not acceptable. I should have hoped that some of the amendments which have not been selected, but which would have dealt with that aspect, would have been preferable.

The Bill also runs counter to the recommendations of the Home Office working party on vagrancy and street offences, which reported in 1976. It consisted of three chief constables, an inspector of constabulary and officials from the Home Office, the DHSS and the Department of the Director of Public Prosecutions. That working party was not exactly anti-police or biased against the police. However, it stated in its final report: One suggestion put to us is that one act by the defendant ought to suffice for conviction in the absence of an explanation. We reject this idea, which it seems to us would provide insufficient safeguards against wrongful convictions. The working party recommended that the "sus" law should be replaced by an offence limited to a case of a person whose antecedent conduct in a public place suggested an intent to commit an arrestable offence. It proposed that "antecedent conduct" should include at least one suspicious act before and distinct from the act which caused him to be charged with the offence.

The working party's working paper of 1974 stated: The new offence might then refer to 'a course of suspicious conduct 'or' a repetition of suspicious conduct', or, by exclusion, provide that it should not suffice to establish suspicion that there has been only one instance of such conduct. Precisely that proposal should have been incorporated in the Bill. Its absence makes clause 8 unacceptable.

Not only was that proposal made by the Home Office working party, with its strong police representation; but Sir David McNee, the Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis, expressed support for the recommendations of the Home Office working party in the memorandum which he presented to the Home Affairs Select Committee during its inquiry into the "sus" law. In that memorandum he listed a number of specific proposals by the Home Office working party which he favoured, including a proposal that antecedent conduct should include at least one suspicious act before and distinct from the act which caused him to be charged with the offence. Neither the Home Office working party nor Sir David McNee could be suspected of wishing to make the job of the police more difficult. I cannot see why the Government see fit on this occasion to ignore the advice from such an authoritative and experienced source.

Having made the mistake of answering a debate which has not taken place, I hope that the Minister will at least be able to answer some of my points, and those which will be made by Conservative Members. The possibility that someone who had not formed a dishonest intent could be penalised by the new offence is in many respects the Bill's most objectionable feature. For that reason alone, it should be opposed.

In many ways, just as important is the fact that the Bill makes the new offence subject to the potential penalty of imprisonment. The Minister is proposing that a maximum period of three months can be imposed for what is by any estimate a trivial and minor offence. We must view that against the background of the current crisis of overcrowding in the prison system, which was referred to by the Home Secretary in a speech to the Leicestershire magistrates on 13 February which will be repeated and quoted time and again. He said: Of the many problems facing me as Home Secretary, the most pressing and dangerous is the chronic crisis of overcrowding in our prisons which threatens to undermine our criminal justice system and its contribution to maintaining law and order in our society. 9.30 pm

There are about 43,700 men, women and schoolchildren in our prisons today in accommodation designed for 39,000 people, and 18,000 of them are living three to a cell built for one in Victorian times. Very often they are locked up for 23 hours out of every 24.

Already, a few short weeks after the conclusion of the prison officers' dispute, there are five prisoners in Oxford prison who are having to sleep in a library. There are 29 prisoners at Watton detention centre who are having to sleep today in storerooms and classrooms because of the gross overcrowding at those two institutions.

The Home Secretary, to his credit, has repeatedly and very forthrightly pointed to the problems of overcrowding in the prison system and has urged—some would say threatened or at least cajoled—the courts to use imprisonment only when it is absolutely necessary. For example, in his speech to the Conservative central council on 21 March 1980, he pointed out: It is no use continuing to overburden the staff who have to run the system, too often in antiquated and inadequate buildings, with petty offenders who can be dealt with just as well in other ways". Those "petty offenders" are precisely the kinds of offenders that we are talking about tonight and with whom we are dealing in the Bill.

I wonder whether the Minister was present on 21 March at the Conservative central council and heard those words of his right hon. Friend the Home Secretary. If he heard them, did he take account of them? Does the Home Secretary know that what he is saying in one breath is being countermanded in another here tonight by the Bill?

The Home Secretary went on to say: We shall need, and in this the courts have their part to play,"£ one would have thought that the Minister of State had his part, too, but he is not fulfilling it tonight— to see that the prisons are not allowed to remain cluttered up with trivial and inadequate offenders who are no real threat to anyone, except possibly themselves, but whose presence helps to create the extremely acute pressures which afflict our prisons today and all who work in them". Those are not my words or the words of my hon. Friend the Member for Islington, South and Finsbury (Mr. Cunningham), or of any of the other radical Members on the Benches behind me. They are the words of the Conservative Home Secretary. I should have thought that he at least would take the time and the trouble not just to make those very encouraging and highly welcome statements but to ensure that his actions backed up what he was saying frequently in his speeches.

Mr. Mayhew

My right hon. Friend did not say on that occasion that there should be removed from the statute books the ability of magistrates in serious cases—for example, the case of a really persistent offender who has in the end to be sent to prison, perhaps after every other non—custodial alternative had been tried—to take action to secure the protection of the public. He acknowledged that such cases exist, although perhaps they are rare. But my right hon. Friend said nothing to suggest that that kind of ability should be removed from magistrates' courts.

Mr. Kilroy-Silk

I wonder whether the hon. and learned Gentleman ever bothers to read the Home Secretary's speeches. Let me give the hon. and learned Gentleman an example from the Leicestershire speech, where the Home Secretary said that in 1979 there were 9,000 people serving sentences of 18 months or less—not the trivial three months that we are talking about tonight but 18 months or less.

The Home Secretary referred to non-violent and non-dangerous offences, to which again we are referring today, and he asked: How far can we be sure they invariably deserved imprisonment at all?

Mr. Mayhew

Quite right.

Mr. Kilroy-Silk

The hon. and learned Gentleman says "Quite right". The Home Secretary was doubting whether 9,000 non-violent, non-dangerous offenders who were in prison for 18 months or less should even have been put there in the first place. He is saying largely what the report on petty persistent offenders, which the hon. and learned Gentleman's own Department published only last Thursday, said—namely, that petty persistent offenders should be diverted from the criminal justice system and the prison system.

Mr. Mayhew


Mr. Kilroy-Silk

I shall give way in a moment. I have a few more questions.

Does the hon. and learned Gentleman ever read the research findings of his own Department? A moment ago he rose in high dudgeon and talked about the dangerous petty persistent offender. Is it really dangerous to have committed the offence of attempting to interfere with motor vehicles? In a different incarnation, as an Opposition Back Bencher when the Labour Government were in office, the hon. and learned Gentleman talked about the disgrace and the scandal of imprisoning petty persistent offenders. Is he saying that because he wears a different hat he now regards them as dangerous?

Mr. Mayhew


Mr. Kilroy-Silk

I have said that I will give way. The hon. and learned Gentleman's occupancy of the Front Bench does not give him any particular kudos. Has he suddenly changed his mind on all those issues? Is he seriously suggesting that the public will be in great danger and under serious threat if we say that these individuals should not be in prison? If that is his view, should he not increase the maximum sentence from three months to 18 months or more?

Mr. Mayhew

I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for at last giving way. He might have acknowledged that my right hon. Friend has done more than any Home Secretary in recent years to draw the attention of the public and all concerned to the dangerous degree of overcrowding in the prisons and the need to question whether sentences should always be as long as they are. The hon. Gentleman fails to recognise that what my right hon. Friend said in Leicestershire was that the question should be asked whether every prisoner in that category serving 18 months needs to spend so long in prison. The hon. Gentleman suggested that the Home Secretary was saying that none of those people should be in prison at all. To put that gloss upon my right hon. Friend's speech is inaccurate and misleading.

Mr. Kilroy-Silk

Of course the Home Secretary should be given credit where it is due. I think that I have given it, both today and on other occasions, and always on the record. The right hon. Gentleman has indeed drawn attention to the deplorable and disgraceful state of our prisons far more than any previous Home Secretary of any party. But he has not yet done anything to reduce the prison population, although he has been in office for two years. It is not good enough for him to continue making high-sounding speeches, however much I personally applaud and welcome them, if at the end he does not produce the goods.

The Home Secretary had the opportunity tonight to take out of the penal system one group of offenders who the hon. and learned Gentleman must accept—because by definition it is true—are minor, petty offenders, albeit some of them may happen also to be persistent offenders. They are not a major danger to society, and on no conceivable argument is it necessary to put them into prison. The arguments against imprisonment generally have been deployed elsewhere, not least by the Home Secretary himself. He called for shorter sentences. He pointed out that imprisonment does not deter, reform or rehabilitate and that it is inordinately expensive and often counter-productive for the individual. He went on to say that for those who are not dangerous or violent every effort should be made to find non-custodial alternatives within the community.

I am doing no more tonight than preaching to a specific case in the same terms, and employing the same language as the Home Secretary himself has applied as a generality. All the research and evidence shows that the use of imprisonment and the lengths of sentences bear little or no relation to whether the individual will commit further offences or become a positive, constructive and contributing member of society.

For those reasons, and for the reasons that the Home Secretary has powerfully and eloquently advanced, it has become increasingly accepted that non-custodial sentences should be used as far as possible for all but the most serious and violent offenders. Such alternatives should therfore be used for precisely the kind of individual who will be caught by the new offence created by the Bill if it reaches the statute book.

I wonder whether the hon. and learned Gentleman remembers that the Home Secretary has asked the courts to be particularly careful to ensure that every custodial sentence is as short as possible. If that is the case, surely Parliament also has a responsibility, when enacting legislation which contains a new imprisonable offence, to be absolutely certain that that offence justifies the sanction of imprisonment. Parliament must also be certain that if it justifies that sanction the period of imprisonment should be as short as possible consistent with the safety of the public.

No one could argue seriously that minor offenders whose conduct does not even constitute an attempt to commit theft, let alone theft, should be imprisoned for three months. The Home Secretary has said "We do not want to imprison minor, petty, non-violent and non-dangerous offenders. We must ask whether it is necessary to imprison them". Yet tonight we are giving the courts the power to imprison people who have not even been convicted of the attempt to steal, still less of the substantive crime itself. Against that background, it should not be automatically assumed that every new offence which is created should necessarily become imprisonable.

In considering whether the new offence created by clause 8 merits imprisonment it is worth recalling that the report "Too Many Prisoners", published in June 1980 by the parliamentary all-party penal affairs group, said of the present "suspected person" offence: If the offence is retained, it should be made non-imprisonable: custodial penalties cannot be justified when, in the assessment of the prosecution, the evidence is insufficient to support a charge of theft or attempted theft". Clause 8 does not simply re-enact the "sus" law in another guise. It is expressly limited to circumstances in which someone interferes with a vehicle. However, in those circumstances the same considerations surely apply. The new offence is being created for use in circumstances where the evidence is insufficient to support a charge of theft, taking and driving away or an attempt to commit one of the more substantive offences. Moreover, the new offence is wider than the "sus" offence in these circumstances as it departs from the present requirement that there must be at least two separate and distinct suspicious acts before the offence can be proved.

I cannot see why, both in Committee and on Report, the Government have been allowed to get this far in their redefinition of the law, to the point where they are making it more likely that more people will be wrongly accused, convicted and imprisoned.

Custodial penalties are available for the substantive offences of theft, taking and driving away and attempting to commit those offences. If the new offence were comparable in its nature with a fully-fledged attempt to steal or drive away a car, or to steal something in it, it could be argued that it would be reasonable for custodial penalties to be available. However, the offence is not comparable with an attempt, as the whole purpose of creating it is to provide an offence which can be invoked when the evidence falls considerably short of attempted theft.

The arguments against the availability of imprisonment in the case of the "suspected person" law are just as applicable to the new offence in clause 8 as they were—both by the report "Too Many Prisoners" and the Home Affairs Select Committee—to the previous offence of being a suspected person.

I hope that the Minister will answer the points that I have raised, because they are important and substantial. I do not think that the Government have made out a case on grounds of either logic or justice. There is no conceivable justification for continuing, almost as an administrative convenience, to imprison people who by any definition are petty, minor, trivial offenders, who are not a danger to the community, who are non-violent offenders, and for whom prison would serve no conceivable purpose. Therefore, I hope that my hon. Friend the Member for Islington, South and Finsbury will force a Division on clause 8 and that my hon. Friends will join him in the Lobby.

9.45 pm
Mr. Percy Grieve (Solihull)

It is a long time since I have listened to such a rigmarole of nonsense as informed the speech made by the hon. Member for Ormskirk (Mr. Kilroy-Silk). When we debate matters affecting the criminal law I sometimes wonder whether Opposition Members are not more deeply concerned for the criminal than for his victim.

I am on record, both in the House and outside, as deploring the abolition of the "sus" law. It is one of society's first lines of defence. As far as it goes, clause 8 provides a measure of defence for society. It defends those whose motor cars are constantly at risk in public places. They are at risk of depredations by criminally minded persons. To suggest that clause 8 should be omitted or radically amended in order to do away with the power of justices to imprison is to deprive it of its efficacy in defence of society.

Justices are not compelled to imprison. In the majority of cases it is doubtful whether they would do so. They have other powers at their disposal that are short of imprisonment, such as fines, community service orders and other orders. As in the case of other offences in our courts today, imprisonment will be the last resort.

The hon. Member for Ormskirk spoke of overcrowding in our prisons. Does not he realise that because of the amount of crime our prisons are capable of containing their populations only because the police are unable to bring many criminals to justice? Indeed, the overwhelming preponderance of criminals are not brought to justice. In defence of society more prisons should be built if necessary. If it is possible to keep people out of prison, that should be done. However, ultimately we must retain the sanction of imprisonment, because that is the only sanction open to society if it is to defend itself against crime. It is the ultimate and most important sanction.

I agree that it is important to have short, sharp sentences. Long sentences are necessary only to lock away those who have shown themselves to be persistent enemies of society. Under clause 8 the maximum sentence is a period of three months' imprisonment. By anyone's standard that is not a long sentence. It is deplorable that Opposition Members should argue that we should do away with the protection that our citizens should enjoy and that Parliament should give in respect of property that is likely to be put at danger by layabouts and petty criminals.

It is nonsense to suggest that many people will be wrongly convicted. Under the clause, intent must be proved to the same degree as for any other criminal offence. Therefore, I hope that the House will reject the amendment and it will throw out with contumely the suggestion that clause 8 should be omitted.

Mr. Soley

I shall not detain the House for long, but I hope to be more rational in my arguments than the hon. and learned Member for Solihull (Mr. Grieve) was in his arguments.

To some extent the Minister spoilt his own case and put the case against the clause. He talked consistently of the high prevalence of crime. That provides the police with a crime-fighting weapon. That is why we are here, and why the 1824 Act was passed originally. There were major social and economic problems leading to vagrancy and other associated problems. We are using the same argument to perpetuate a part of the Bill that is a hangover from the 1824 Act. That is why it should be thrown out.

Mr. Grieve

Does the hon. Gentleman realise that in England today there is far more lawlessness than there was in the aftermath of the Napoleonic wars?

Mr. Soley

That is why I think the hon. and learned Gentleman was being so irrational in his approach. He has failed to think through what he said previously and in his intervention.

The problem is one of parked cars in which youngsters show an interest. The difficulty is that young people are interested in cars. If a youngster goes up to a car, puts one hand on the door handle, looks through the window, moves on to a second car and does the same, then moves back to the first car and repeats his actions, he can be arrested under the provisions of the clause. There is no evidence that he intended to commit an offence. He was doing what a number of youngsters do—looking at the speedometers of the cars concerned. Yet the onus is on him to prove his innocence. The Minister knows that. If he does not believe that to be so, he must demonstrate how a person can prove his innocence with a clause such as this. The weight of evidence means that it is for the person concerned to prove his innocence.

Mr. John Wheeler (Paddington)

Clause 8 is very clear. The obligation will lie upon the prosecution to prove beyond reasonable doubt to the magistrates that a person is guilty of the offence. It is not a question of the defendant having to prove his innocence.

Mr. Soley

I should love to agree with the hon. Gentleman, but I must be guided by the words in the Bill, which state: if it is shown that a person accused of an offence under this section intended that one of those offences should be committed, it is immaterial that it cannot be shown which it was. If that does not put the onus of proof on the defendant. I do not know what does, because it clearly states "We can get you for one of these three actions."

Mr. Douglas Hogg (Grantham)


Mr. Soley

I shall not give way. I mean no disrespect, but there is now a major problem with the time factor.

The Minister quoted the police evidence. The memorandum by the Association of Chief Police Officers in England, Wales and Northern Ireland was fascinating. It said: Whilst acknowledging the proposed improvements in the law and the reasons for making these in relation to attempts and of interference with vehicles, it should be made clear that there will be areas where the police in the future would be powerless to act."—[Official Report, Special Standing Committee, 10 February 1981; c.147.] The memorandum continues to give the examples cited by the hon. Member for Burton (Mr. Lawrence:). The Minister correctly rejected the arguments of his hon. Friend. It is clear that the police want extended to houses the power that they have to deal with interference with vehicles. Yet the Minister has rejected that argument. If he is to be consistent he must either give in to the police and give it for households as well, or not give it for interference with motor vehicles. That and the constant talk about the high prevalence of crime in this area is a sure sign that we are going down the same road as in 1824.

The hon. and learned Member for Solihull got himself muddled about this matter. It is not as though this is a way of dealing with excess crime. Taking and driving away a motor vehicle is a charge in its own right. The more serious charge is the theft of a motor vehicle with the idea of selling it, and that is a separate charge. There is the problem of theft from a motor vehicle, and that is a separate charge. None of those offences would apply.

I turn now to imprisonment. If the Minister took his responsibilities seriously he would suggest one month's imprisonment. There is no rational reason for three months' imprisonment. It does not protect the public. As my hon. Friend for Ormskirk (Mr. Kilroy-Silk) said, it is not a dangerous offence. It tends to becommitted by petty offenders.

The persistent offender will at most serve only two months' imprisonment for this offence. That does not protect the public either. We cannot pretend to be protecting the public with a sentence of three months' imprisonment which is reduced to two months with remission.

The only way to deal with the matter is to get rid of the clause, because it is contradictory and takes us back to the origins of the 1824 Act. If the Minister is to stick with the clause, the least that he can do is to reduce the sentence to one month's imprisonment or, preferably, to get rid of it altogether.

Mr. Douglas Hogg

I should like to comment briefly on the two points made by the hon. Member for Hammersmith, North (Mr. Soley), which echoed points made previously.

The first point relates to the powers of imprisonment. I support those powers. It is important to bear in mind that the powers of imprisonment are merely permissive, and not mandatory. I suggest that three months' imprisonment is a modest period. It would be wrong to take away from magistrates the power to impose prison sentences in a limited number of cases.

This offence is easy to commit. Therefore, it puts many owners of vehicles at risk. Furthermore, the offence bears repetition. Many offenders who are likely to come before the courts will be of bad character and will have previous convictions for similar offences.

I cannot agree with the hon. Member for Ormskirk (Mr. Kilroy-Silk) that this is a trivial offence. In itself it may be. In isolation, one may be concerned with only a few pounds. But pilfering from vehicles in towns is a scourge. Therefore, the courts should have a residual power—which they will exercise rarely—to impose a prison sentence.

The second point relates to the overall criticism of the clause that was first voiced by the hon. Member for Islington, South and Finsbury (Mr. Cunningham). On Second Reading I was critical of the clause, which was then clause 9. I am greatly impressed by the changes that have been made, and I welcome them.

I do not agree that this is an unnecessary clause. Several hon. Members—in particular, the hon. Member for Islington, South and Finsbury—have said that the offences covered by the clause are much the same as those covered by the offence of attempt. Generally speaking, that will be true. There are obviously a large number of cases in which the two classes of offence will overlap, but it is not always true because, as my hon. and learned Friend the Minister of State so aptly said, in order to establish an attempt the offence in respect of which the attempt is alleged must be identified. It is necessary to be specific. Therefore, there are always a number of instances in which a person is undoubtedly doing a criminal act but it cannot be said with absolute certainty to what the attempt relates. That being so, clause 8 should stand.

Another point made by various Opposition Members is that clause 8, in its present form, is by its very nature oppressive and objectionable. That was put in its most extreme form by the hon. Member for Hammersmith, North. With respect, I simply do not agree. This offence, like all other criminal offences, has two elements, namely, the prohibited act itself and the prohibited intention. Merely to interfere—

It being Ten o'clock, the debate stood adjourned.

Ordered. That, at this day's sitting, the Criminal Attempts Bill may be proceeded with, though opposed, until any hour.—[Mr. Le Marchant.]

Bill, as amended (in the Special Standing Committee), again considered.

Question again proposed, That the amendment be made.

Mr. Hogg

I was dealing with the nature of the offence and I pointed out that, in common with all other criminal offences, it has two elements, namely, the prohibited act and the prohibited intention.

It is not sufficient for the prosecution in any case to prove the prohibited act, namely, interference. It must go further than that and prove that the person charged had the prohibited intention. A court will not infer a prohibited intention simply from the trying of handles. There must be more than that.

I have one criticism of the hon. Member for Hammersmith, North. I am afraid that he has misled himself as to the nature and the meaning of this Bill. He suggested that it was for the defendant to prove his innocence. That is simply not so. It is for the prosecution to prove both elements, namely, the interference and the prohibited intention.

As for the choice of three offences as provided for in the Bill, all that means is that the prosecution must prove one of those three. It does not have to identify which of the three prohibited intentions was in the defendant's mind, but the prosecution must prove one of them.

It is quite untrue to say that the defendant must prove his innocence. That is not a proper reading of the Bill and, anxious as I was about what I think was clause 9 when the Bill came before the House on Second Reading, I am now content, and I hope that the clause will win the approval of the House.

Mr. Christopher Price (Lewisham, West)

If I felt that this clause would operate along the lines described by the hon. Member for Grantham (Mr. Hogg) I would not be as worried about the clause as I am. But I am a Member for South-East London and the truth about "sus" is that it was a London offence. It was used far more widely within the Metropolitan area than in any other area in London and it was, quite frankly, a catch-all offence; it was a holding charge, something with which the police would charge virtually anybody.

In a case with which I was associated, the Confait case, which some hon. Members will remember, two youngsters who were picked up watching television in their own house were registered as having been charged as being suspicious people in a public place on the actual charge sheet before they were charged with murder.

The "sus" offence was used by the police substantially in London as an offence with which they could charge anybody at any time, particularly if they wanted to hold him and charge him with something else later.

My great fear is that by simply replacing that "sus" offence with this clause 8, in the mind of the ordinary copper in South-East London we are providing another holding charge, because this will be tried in front of a magistrate. The hon. Member for Grantham may be right about a proper judicial court with a jury and all the rest, where the two legs of this offence really do have to be proved, but I can assure him that in a London magistrates' court it is not remotely like that. What the magistrates do is either say that the defendant is lying or say that the police are lying, and 99 times out of 100 they decide that the defendant is lying because, in the natural course of events, they cannot bring themselves to say that the police are lying.

If the police say that a defendant has touched a door handle, how can he, particularly if he is a young black defendant in South-East London, prove to a magistrate that he did not interfere with a door handle? The House got rid of "sus" on an all-party basis, in spite of the opposition of the hon. and learned Member for Solihull (Mr. Grieve) because it was a brutally counter-productive law. It may have been a tool of law enforcement for the police, but it massively exacerbated race relations in the part of London that I represent. In the end an all-party committee, and everybody, even the Home Office, agreed that it had to go.

My great fear that is that the police force will use clause 8 in exactly the same way as it used section 4 of the Vagrancy Act 1824, and the London magistracy will go along with the police and it will grow into a new "sus" law.

I am no lawyer. I do not think that anyone knows how clause 8 will operate if it becomes part of the armoury of law enforcement, but the Government are, tragically, losing an opportunity to get themselves a good reputation for this legislation. They rightly received many congratulations for bringing in the Bill, but it is marred by a clause which might be used in exactly the same oppressive way as its predecessor, the "sus" law, was used. If it is used in that way and there are no independent witnesses to prove a defendant's innocence in the face of the police evidence in a magistrates' court, cynicism among youngsters against whom the clause will be used will be heightened and in the end the law will be brought into greater disrepute. That is why I shall vote against the clause.

Mr. Lawrence

The hon. Member for Islington, South and Finsbury (Mr. Cunningham) asked three questions, one of which the Minister has properly and helpfully answered by his amendment, namely, that "public" shall now include "private", or words to that effect.

The second question was whether we needed the clause 8 offence at all. The answer was given by three chiefs of police in evidence before the Special Standing Committee. Sir Philip Knights, the chief of police for the West Midlands said: Of the 82 offences brought before the courts under section 4, 61 related to tampering with motor vehicles. So from West Midlands experience, there is a case for creating this offence if `sus' is to be removed. That is an extraordinary proportion. It would be insanity to leave a gap there which the police would not feel able to fill under existing law.

The point was backed up by the chief constables of Merseyside and of the Thames division, who said that about 25 per cent. of the total crime figure was related to theft of or from motor vehicles, or the unlawful taking away of motor vehicles. That is an extraordinarily high proportion of crime. Are we at this stage to take away a weapon in the armoury of law enforcement for dealing with the very problem that faces so many citizens in town and country alike?

The second question is whether imprisonment should be an available sentence for this offence. 'The hon. Member for Ormskirk (Mr. Kilroy-Silk) made a long speech. He, like many of his hon. Friends, always ignores, as though it does not exist, the deterrent factor of having a sanction of imprisonment for a number of offences. It is not simply a question of saying "Do we want to put these people into prison?" It is also a question of saying "Can we have some sort of sanction that will, at the margin at any rate, deter an offender from committing an offence?"

It is clear that in some circumstances people are deterred from committing criminal offences by the knowledge that they may go to prison. It is not simply a matter of stopping someone trying car door handles; it is stopping someone taking and driving away a motor vehicle, which he may drive while uninsured and in a dangerous manner, and sometimes cause loss of life or loss of limb to ordinary innocent citizens. Within reason, anything that exists within our law to deter would-be offenders from committing offences of this kind is valuable to the whole system. It would be an act of utter stupidity for us to take away the sanction of imprisonment for offences as frequently indulged in as those that we are discussing.

Mr. Andrew F. Bennett

On hearing a remark just made from my Front Bench, I can only say that I was intending to be brief. However, the more interruptions that are made, the longer a speech tends to drag out.

Mr. Arthur Lewis (Newham, North-West)

Instead of shouting at the Back Benches, the Front Benches should observe advice to be brief and cut their speeches shorter.

Mr. George Cunningham

I did not shout a thing.

Mr. Bennett

I should perhaps start again. The first matter that concerns me is why the motor vehicle should be selected for special attention. It seems illogical to me that the bicycle is not included. The theft of bicycles seems to be one area where crime is growing. I am opposed to the whole clause. It poses the central question of what is the duty of both police and the general public. Is it to try to establish that a crime has occurred or is it to prevent crime in the first place? This is a difficult area. Often, it is the duty of the police to try to detect a crime—in other words, to watch it take place and to try to arrest someone and bring a prosecution. On other occasions, it should be their duty to stop it happening in the first place.

I have talked to policemen over the last fem, months. They are in a dilemma. Whether or not it is true, they tend to feel that they receive far more approval from senior officers for the number of people that they detect committing a crime that produces a prosecution than they do for the number of people that they deter from committing a crime. What is the duty of a member of the public or of a policeman if someone is seen trying car doors? Is it to keep out of sight and to observe what goes on, in the hope that a prosecution can take place? Or should the policeman make himself known and so deter the criminal?

I suggest that in this fairly minor area the duty of the police is to prevent a crime taking place by making clear to anyone contemplating a crime that the policeman is present and watching. The young person will therefore not commit the crime. That will stop the more serious offence rather than allow a situation in which the policemen waits until an offence has occurred and then attempts to make an arrest and bring about a prosecution. I do not believe that prosecution in these cases has any deterrent effect on other people.

It cannot be argued that by catching one person in 100 the other 99 are deterred. It would be better not to have the offence on the statute book. The police should be encouraged to stop people attempting crime instead of ensnaring and catching someone committing an offence. I hope that the clause will be deleted.

10.15 pm
Mr. Mayhew

I should be discourteous if I did not reply to an interesting debate.

The hon. Member for Ormskirk (Mr. Kilroy-Silk) said that the working party was against the philosophy of the clause. However, paragraph 203 of its report shows that the working party proposed to keep "sus" on the statute book, albeit with qualifications. It is easy to determine whether the offence in clause 8 has been committed, since interference is a more overt and unambiguous act than anything that is required to establish the offence of "sus". That is the distinction. The working party proposed a modern language version of "sus" embracing all types of suspicious or antecedent conduct.

The hon. Gentleman spoke of the need to avoid overcrowding in prisons. It was misleading, no doubt unintentionally, to suggest that the Home Secretary had in mind that the statute book should be amended so that magistrates should not be able, even in the most persistent or serious cases, to send people to prison when all non-custodial ways had been tried and had failed. We cannot carry our determination to reduce unnecessary overcrowding in prisons to the extent that would, in bad or persistent cases, deprive magistrates of the ultimate sanction of imprisonment. My hon. and learned Friend the Member for Solihull (Mr. Grieve) made that point. My hon. Friend the Member for Grantham (Mr. Hogg) hit it on the head when he said that there was no compulsion to send people to prison and that that would happen only in rare cases. It is right that the power should remain.

The hon. Member for Hammersmith, North (Mr. Soley), who knows much about these matters, made an uncharacteristic mistake when he said that the burden of proving innocence would lie upon the accused person. That is not right. The prosecution does not have to show which of the three theft-related offences was intended but it must show that there was one. Magistrates will require that burden of proof to be discharged.

My hon. Friend the Member for Burton (Mr. Lawrence) spoke of the high proportion of "sus" cases established by the police evidence related to motor offences. That is why the gap must be filled with the offence contained in clause 8. The hon. Member for Stockport, North (Mr. Bennett) thought it better to prevent crime than to put people in prison or secure convictions. He is right. The purpose of the clause is to create the offence of motor interference with the object of preventing the full offence of theft or taking and driving away.

I am confident in urging my right hon. and hon. Friends to support the Government. The arguments adduced against clause 8 do not hold sufficient water to justify a contrary view. Clause 8 is established as an important clause, and it is important that it should remain in the Bill.

Question put, That the amendment be made:—

The House divided: Ayes 100, Noes 155.

Division No. 130] [10.18 pm
Alton, David Howells, Geraint
Anderson, Donald Hughes, Robert(Aberdeen N)
Ashton, Joe John, Brynmor
Atkinson, N(H'gey,) Jones, Dan(Burnley)
Beith, A. J. Kilroy-Silk, Robert
Bennett, Andrew(St'kp't N) Lamond, James
Boothroyd, Miss Betty Leighton, Ronald
Brown, R. C.(N'castle W) Lewis, Ron(Carlisle)
Brown, Ron(E'burgh, Leith) Litherland, Robert
Callaghan, Jim(Midd't'n & P) Lyons, Edward(Bradf'd W)
Campbell-Savours, Dale McCartney, Hugh
Cartwright, John McElhone, Frank
Cocks, Rt Hon M.(B'stol S) McGuire, Michael(Ince)
Cook, Robin F. McKay, Allen(Penistone)
Cowans, Harry McKelvey, William
Cox, T.(W'dsw'th, Toot'g) McNamara, Kevin
Cryer, Bob Marshall, Dr Edmund(Goole)
Cunliffe, Lawrence Maxton, John
Cunningham, G.(Islington S) Mikardo, Ian
Dalyell, Tam Millan, Rt Hon Bruce
Davis, T.(B'ham, Stechf'd) Mitchell, R. C.(Soton Itchen)
Deakins, Eric Morton, George
Dempsey, James O'Neill, Martin
Dixon, Donald Penhaligon, David
Dormand, Jack Powell, Raymond(Ogmore)
Douglas, Dick Prescott, John
Dubs, Alfred Price, C.(Lewisham W)
Duffy, A. E. P. Race, Reg
Dunwoody, Hon Mrs G. Richardson, Jo
Eastham, Ken Roberts, Albert(Normanton)
Ellis, R.(NE D'bysh're) Rooker, J. W.
Ellis, Tom(Wrexham) Ross, Stephen(Isle of Wight)
English, Michael Sever, John
Evans, John(Newton) Skinner, Dennis
Flannery, Martin Smith, Cyril(Rochdale)
Fletcher, Ted(Darlington) Snape, Peter
Foot, Rt Hon Michael Soley, Clive
Foster, Derek Steel, Rt Hon David
Fraser, J.(Lamb'th, N'w'd) Stoddart, David
George, Bruce Summerskill, Hon Dr Shirley
Golding, John Taylor, Mrs Ann(Bolton W)
Gourlay, Harry Thomas, Dafydd(Merioneth)
Grant, George(Morpeth) Tinn, James
Hamilton, James(Bothwell) Wainwright, R.(Colne V)
Hamilton, W. W.(C'tral Fife) Welsh, Michael
Hardy, Peter Whitehead, Phillip
Hattersley, Rt Hon Roy Whitlock, William
Haynes, Frank Woolmer, Kenneth
Hogg, N.(E Dunb't'nshire)
Home Robertson, John Tellers for the Ayes:
Homewood, William Mr. Walter Harrison and Mr. Joseph Dean.
Hooley, Frank
Alexander, Richard Carlisle, Kenneth(Lincoln)
Arnold, Tom Chapman, Sydney
Aspinwall, Jack Clark, Hon A.(Plym'th, S'n)
Atkins, Robert(Preston N) Clarke, Kenneth(Rushcliffe)
Beaumont-Dark, Anthony Clegg, Sir Walter
Bendall, Vivian Costain, Sir Albert
Benyon, Thomas(A'don) Cranborne, Viscount
Best, Keith Crouch, David
Biggs-Davison, John Dorrell, Stephen
Blackburn, John Douglas-Hamilton, Lord J.
Boscawen, Hon Robert Dover, Denshore
Boyson, Dr Rhodes du Cann, Rt Hon Edward
Bright, Graham Dunn, Robert(Dartford)
Brinton, Tim Dykes, Hugh
Brooke, Hon Peter Eyre, Reginald
Brotherton, Michael Fairgrieve, Russell
Brown, Michael(Brigg & Sc'n) Faith, Mrs Sheila
Bruce-Gardyne, John Farr, John
Buck, Antony Fenner, Mrs Peggy
Budgen, Nick Fisher, Sir Nigel
Bulmer, Esmond Fookes, Miss Janet
Carlisle, John(Luton West) Fowler, Rt Hon Norman
Fraser, Peter(South Angus) Parris, Matthew
Garel-Jones, Tristan Pawsey, James
Goodlad, Alastair Pollock, Alexander
Gorst, John Prentice, Rt Hon Reg
Gow, Ian Proctor, K. Harvey
Greenway, Harry Rathbone, Tim
Grieve, Percy Renton, Tim
Griffiths, E.(B'y St. Edm'ds) Rhodes James, Robert
Griffiths, Peter(Portsm'th N) Rhys Williams, Sir Brandon
Gummer, John Selwyn Rifkind, Malcolm
Hawkins, Paul Roberts, M.(Cardiff NW)
Hawksley, Warren Roberts, Wyn(Conway)
Heddle, John Sainsbury, Hon Timothy
Henderson, Barry Shaw, Giles(Pudsey)
Hogg, Hon Douglas(Gr'th'm) Shaw, Michael(Scarborough)
Holland, Philip(Carlton) Shelton, William(Streatham)
Hooson, Tom Shepherd, Colin(Hereford)
Howell, Ralph(N Norfolk) Silvester, Fred
Hunt, John(Ravensbourne) Sims, Roger
Hurd, Hon Douglas Skeet, T. H. H.
Jenkin, Rt Hon Patrick Speed, Keith
Jopling, Rt Hon Michael Speller, Tony
Kellett-Bowman, Mrs Elaine Sproat, Iain
Knight, Mrs Jill Stainton, Keith
Lang, Ian Stanbrook, Ivor
Lawrence, Ivan Stanley, John
Le Marchant, Spencer Stevens, Martin
Lester, Jim(Beeston) Stewart, Ian(Hitchin)
Lloyd, Peter(Fareham) Stewart, A(E Renfrewshire)
Luce, Richard Stradling Thomas, J.
Lyell, Nicholas Thatcher, Rt Hon Mrs M.
Macfarlane, Neil Thomas, Rt Hon Peter
MacGregor, John Thorne, Neil(Ilford South)
Madel, David Townend, John(Bridlington)
Major, John Townsend, Cyril D,(B'heath)
Marlow, Tony Trippier, David
Marten, Neil(Banbury) Trotter, Neville
Mates, Michael van Straubenzee, W. R,
Mather, Carol Vaughan, Dr Gerard
Mawhinney, Dr Brian Viggers, Peter
Maxwell-Hyslop, Robin Waddington, David
Mayhew, Patrick Wakeham, John
Mellor, David Waller, Gary
Meyer, Sir Anthony Ward, John
Miller, Hal(B'grove) Warren, Kenneth
Mills, Iain(Meriden) Watson, John
Moate, Roger Wells, Bowen
Morgan, Geraint Wheeler, John
Murphy, Christopher Wickenden, Keith
Neale, Gerrard Wilkinson, John
Needham, Richard Wolfson, Mark
Nelson, Anthony Young, Sir George(Acton)
Newton, Tony Younger, Rt Hon George
Normanton, Tom
Onslow, Cranley Tellers for the Noes:
Osborn, John Mr. John Cope and Mr. Donald Thompson
Page, Rt Hon Sir G.(Crosby)
Page, Richard(SW Herts)

Question accordingly negatived.

Amendments made: No. 17, in page 5, line 12, leave out "in a public place".

No. 18, in page 5, line 13, leave out "in such a place".—[Mr. Mayhew.]

Amendment proposed: No. 4, in page 5, line 27. leave out from `to' to 'a' in line 28—[Mr. George Cunningham.]

Question, That the amendment be made,put and negatived.

Amendment made: No. 19, in page 5, line 36, leave out from '1972' to end of line 39.—[Mr. Mayhew.]

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