§ Mr. Ivor Stanbrook (Orpington)
I beg to move,That leave be given to bring in a Bill to extend the application of section 9 of the Criminal Law Act 1977 to Royal premises.The House will recall that in July last year a certain Mr. Michael Fagan entered Buckingham Palace as a trespasser and got as far as the Queen's bedroom. He had committed no offence. He was not charged or prosecuted, because our existing law provides that trespass is not a criminal offence unless the intruder steals or has some criminal intent. That applies whether the building is Buckingham Palace or whether the person put at risk by the trespass is Her Majesty the Queen.
That law is subject to one exception. In section 9 of the Criminal Law Act 1977 we provided a protection for foreign embassies and the homes of foreign diplomats against unwelcome visitors. We provided that it was a criminal offence to trespass in those premises, but there were certain safeguards. The intruder has a defence if he can show that he did not know the nature of the premises in which he had trespassed; the Home Secretary has the power to certify the buildings that are covered by this protection; and the consent of the Attorney-General is necessary in all cases before a prosecution can be lodged.
Subject to the same safeguards, I believe that the existing law should be extended to provide the same protection for Her Majesty the Queen and the royal family as is now available to foreign embassies and diplomats.
At the time of the Fagan incident, the Home Secretary said that the law of trespass would be examined with a view to reform by making all trespass criminal. More recently, a consultation paper has been published in which the authors go through the various possibilities but appear to come to the conclusion that to make trespass a crime in all cases for all residential premises would be extremely difficult and would lead to some difficult situations that could not easily be safeguarded by the law.
The authors of that document considered the possibility of extending the protection to a restricted class of buildings and persons, but concluded that it would be invidious for such special protection to be given when it was denied to the public at large. I believe that the public at large strongly objects to special protection being given to foreign embassies and diplomats when it is denied to Her Majesty the Queen. Whatever we do about the reform of the law of trespass, it will be quite simple to draft and arrange for a reform of the law to ensure that the protection now available to foreign diplomats be extended to the Queen. It would need the insertion of a mere three or four words in the existing Act.
That is the purpose of my Bill, and I hope that the House will give me leave to introduce it.
§ Question put and agreed to.
§ Bill ordered to be brought in by Mr. Ivor Stanbrook, Mr. Donald Stewart, Mr. James Molyneaux, Sir John Biggs-Davison, Mr. Alex Carlile, Mr. Peter Thurnham and Mr. T. H. H. Skeet.