HC Deb 14 May 1984 vol 60 cc61-91

'(1) Where a constable, with reasonable cause, suspects a person of committing or having committed an offence contrary to section 32 of the Sexual Offences Act 1956, he shall exercise the powers of arrest conferred in Part III of this Act only if he is in uniform.

(2) The evidence of the arresting policer office shall not be receivable at the trial of any person for an offence contrary to section 32 of the Sexual Offences Act unless corroborated by evidence that some other person (other than a police officer)—

  1. (a) was offended by the conduct of the accused; and
  2. (b) did not incite, encourage or consent to the commission of the offence.'—[Mr. Wallace.]

Brought up, and read the First time.

Mr. Wallace

I beg to move, That the clause be read a Second time.

The new clause relates to offences contrary to section 32 of the Sexual Offences Act 1956. Subsection (1) would allow a constable having reasonable grounds to suspect a person of having committed an offence under that section to exercise the powers of arrest conferred by part III of this Bill only if he was in uniform. Subsection (2) ensures that the evidence of the arresting police officer will not be receivable at a trial unless it is corroborated by a person other than a police officer who shows both that he was offended by the conduct of the accused and that he did not incite, encourage or consent to the commission of the offence.

Section 32 of the 1956 Act makes it an offence persistently to solicit or importune in a public place for immoral purposes. My understanding of the law on soliciting is that it dates back to the 19th century and was primarily directed in those days to acts of a heterosexual nature and particularly to prostitution, but latterly it has been used in particular against homosexuals. Since the 1967 Act, which made legitimate sexual acts between consenting adults in private, the number of prosecutions has almost doubled and the number of convictions under subsection (2) of the 1956 Act has trebled.

I think that it would have been hoped by those who sponsored the 1967 Act that its effect would be to foster and encourage a more tolerant and understanding attitude towards homosexually-oriented people. Perhaps one could argue that the climate has changed in the 17 years since the passage of that Act, but there is widespread fear and concern in the homosexual community that the operations of the police, particularly in bringing prosecutions under section 32 of the 1956 Act, have increased and become more oppressive.

If one takes strictly the terms of the Act the maximum penalty, if the case is dealt with summarily, is six months imprisonment and on indictment two years imprisonment, but very often sucessful prosecutions result in fines of no more than double figures. However, although that is the penalty imposed by the courts, all too often the social consequences that follow from prosecution are more dire and have a greater impact on the individual than any penalty imposed by the courts. There are consequences for employment and the disruption of family life and in some reported cases there have even been suicides.

Very often, in such cases there are no victims of the crime, but at the end of the day the victim is the accused. The increasing number of prosecutions has had a serious effect on relations between police and the gay community. There have been debates in the House and in the country on the importance of the damaging effects of police behaviour in times past on their relations with certain racial communities. That has received widespread public attention, but what has not been so much discussed is the serious feeling within the gay community against what its members feel has been a number of years of police oppression. They feel that the law has been used against them and that has undoubtedly led in many cases to an unwillingness on the part of gay men and women to cooperate with the police on matters relating to sexual offences and equally, and perhaps more importantly, to a fear felt by many victims of crimes about going to the police. They may have been mugged or have been the victim of some other crime, but they are reluctant to complain to the police because of the unsatisfactory relationship between the gay community and the police. It is to tackling some of these problems that the new clause is directed.

Subsection (1) deals with the requirement for the police officer to be in uniform. That has been prompted by the fact that it would appear that in many cases arrests made under section 32 of the 1956 Act have resulted from covert operations in which plain clothes policemen have acted as spies—for example, there are examples of them hiding in false compartments or behind grilles in public lavatories—or acting as agents provocateurs. Often the accused alleges in court that he has been approached by someone pretending to be gay, but when he has responded an arrest followed.

It is the view of our party that entrapment or allurement of such people should be viewed with great concern and suspicion. The role of the police is to prevent or detect crime, not to incite it. I understand that this tactic is officially disapproved of by the Home Office, but it appears to be frequently used.

There is indeed a report in the press today in which the manager of a gay club in London is quoted as saying: The police act as agent provocateurs … They come in in plain clothes as customers paying their £5, go downstairs and attract attention to themselves, and when they get the response they are seeking they make an arrest. 6.30 pm

It is indicative of the attitude which is developing towards such police behaviour that there is an editorial in The Scotsman today commenting on the agent provocateur tactics employed by the police in London to entrap homosexuals and charge them with offences such as importuning or indecent behaviour in public places. The editorial states: Liberalisation of the law against homosexual acts in private has been followed by a rise in the number of men charged with homosexual behaviour in public. Just as in the era before homosexual law reform the blackmailer was generally regarded with greater detestation than his homosexual victim, in today's different moral climate the police agent provocateur might be more generally disliked than the homosexual whom he arrests. Whatever official denials may be made, there is a widespread belief that such tactics are adopted. In one instance, following the replacement of one police officer by another in Stockport, convictions rose by some 700 per cent. It is believed that on one occasion in Bournemouth police officers staked out a certain public convenience on four nights a week over several months in an attempt to make arrests under section 32. Bearing in mind the small fines which often follow successful prosecution, one may feel that police resources are being misused.

New clause 9 is not designed to repeal section 32. We believe that, if public complaints are made, the police have a role to play in following them up making the necessary inquiries and arrests, and letting the law take its course. There could be much greater scope for a uniformed police patrol using warnings rather than apprehension and conviction. For first-time offenders, cautions are used more frequently for offences under this section than for any other sexual offences other than incest and rape.

If a public nuisance is committed and public complaints are made, there is nothing in new clause 9 to prevent the police from instituting a prosecution. Subsection (2) of the new clause specifies that there should be a public element to the offence. In many cases, offences such as these have no victims. We suggest that, before the possibility arises of a successful prosecution under section 32, there must be a genuine public nuisance.

Under the present law, there is no need for the police to prove any public complaints or nuisance. Very often there is a direct conflict of evidence between the accused and the police about exactly what happened. That cannot help to promote good relations between the police and the gay community. There are inevitably suspicions that evidence has been either exaggerated or fabricated. Direct conflicts of evidence are not helpful, and the problem could be overcome if there were a requirement for collaboration by a member of the public. Cases in which the only other parties to the incident are members of the police force could then not arise.

At a time when there is so much public concern about the increasing number of muggings, burglaries and other crimes, it is worrying that so many of the resources of the police are devoted to actions under section 32. The effort is wholly out of proportion to the public nuisance caused—in many instances, there is no public nuisance—and to the size of the fine that may follow a successful prosecution.

The new clause is not a charter that will permit public lavatories freely to become meeting places for gay people. We wish to see the police act responsibly to enforce the law in response to public complaints. We wish to improve relations between the gay community and the police, and to relieve members of the gay community of the oppression from which they believe themselves to have suffered since 1967.

Mr. Matthew Parris (Derbyshire, West)

Section 32 of the Sexual Offences Act 1956 is far too widely drawn. Interpreted literally, it would catch behaviours that no hon. Member would seriously consider to be an occasion for prosecution. It is therefore important that until section 32 is changed—and I hope that, after the Criminal Law Revision Committee makes its report, it will be changed — it should be policed intelligently and sensitively. There are some signs that it is not being policed intelligently and sensitively at the moment.

I should like to ask my right hon. Friend a technical question about the operation of the Bill in this area. I understand that powers of arrest under section 32 would be conferred under part III of the Bill, because the offences would, or might, be offences against public decency. However, it is not clear to me that every solicitation within the definition of section 32 would be an offence against public decency. Solicitations which take place in a public place more than twice may nevertheless take place out of earshot of anybody, except the person solicited. They may give that person no offence and, indeed, may not be discernible to anyone else. If so, I am not sure whether the incident could be called an offence aginst public decency, or whether in that case the legislation would confer powers of arrest. That is a technical question. I am not a lawyer, and I may be wrong.

The offence under section 32 is persistently to … importune in a public place for immoral purposes. The courts have interpreted "persistently" as meaning twice or more. A public place is not what the public would imagine it to be. It can include a public house or a deserted part of the country. The phrase "for immoral purposes" has never been defined. The definition is left to the jury.

When the 1956 Act was passed, all forms of homosexual behaviour, even in private, were proscribed by law. It would not have been hard for a jury to reach the conclusion that such behaviour must therefore be immoral and that the purpose of inviting somebody to indulge in it would be for an immoral purpose. Since 1956, some kinds of homosexual behaviour in private have been made legal. The jury is free to decide that to invite somebody to take part in such behaviour in private is not immoral, although in fact no jury has yet so decided.

I make that point to illustrate the fact that the operation of section 32 is too wide and uncertain, and should be reconsidered. Indeed, it is being considered, although the provisional recommendations of the Criminal Law Revision Committee give every sign of having been written on the back of an envelope. I hope that members of the committee will give the matter more thought before they produce their final recommendations.

I have some reservations about whether the new clause could be carried into law in practice. To take away from policemen the common law right of citizen's arrest, which is available to anybody, whether or not he is in uniform, would be a novelty. I am not entirely sure that there are no circumstances in which a policeman who was not in uniform would be entitled to arrest somebody for an offence under section 32, although we would probably wish that in most cases the policeman should be in uniform. The statutory element of public complaint is another novelty, and I am not sure how it would operate. Therefore, I have some doubts about carrying the new clause, as drafted, into law.

However, the policing of section 32 is not right at the moment. One can argue about whether the police are acting as agents provocateurs, which they deny, or as decoys, which I believe they do not deny. Nobody thinks that there are no circumstances in which the police might not rightly act as decoys, but most people think that a great many policemen acting as decoys in an offence as slight as, in many cases, this one is is an improper use of police resources. There have recently been several cases in London in which the jury has chosen to believe the accused's evidence rather than that of the police. There is some doubt about the type of evidence being presented by the police, which is utterly uncorroborated by witnesses who are members of the public.

I should therefore be much reassured if my right hon. and learned Friend will say that new clause 9 deals with a problem area that urgently needs Government attention and, if it is not the right means by which to cure the problem, the Government will give some sign that they will come forward with proposals of their own in due course.

Mr. Chris Smith (Islington, South and Finsbury)

I support new clause 9 because I have been extremely anxious for some time about the apparent practice of entrapment in the Metropolitan police, especially in the Earls court area of London.

My first worry concerns the enticement of an offence. The police rightly deny that they are acting as agents provocateurs, but the line between the entrapment techniques that appear to have been used and the use of police officers as agents provocateurs is thin and depends on an extremely nice definition of what provocation is involved. I have been deeply worried that there might be cases of police officers enticing an offence. The House must be extremely worried about that.

My second anxiety is that there have been several successful defences against prosecution brought by the police on the basis of evidence gained in the way that I have described. The hon. Member for Derbyshire, West (Mr. Parris) mentioned defendants pleading not guilty, going to court, challenging a police officer's uncorroborated evidence and winning. It cannot be good for the police to be involved in such prosecutions.

My third major anxiety is that there seems to have been a concerted policy on the part of the Metropolitan police to focus on the gay community and facilities used by it, and taking action against such places rather than all other forms of entertainment used by other parts of our community. I am worried that that might be something to do with the Metropolitan police's policy decisions.

6.45 pm

Some time ago I raised the issue of entrapment with the Metropolitan police and the Home Secretary. it is interesting that each made the same point in their respective replies. I shall quote what the Metropolitan police wrote from New Scotland Yard. The letter said: The attention of officers to be deployed is drawn to the requirement that in general a person should not be arrested for a Section 32 offence solely on account of behaviour towards the officers themselves". So far, so good. The letter continued: although it is acknowledged that if the offence is flagrant, arrest may be necessary to put a stop to it. The phrase if the offence is flagrant was also used in the Home Secretary's reply. I am grateful to him for the detailed but still disappointing reply that he gave.

The crucial point is, who on earth is to define "flagrant"? There is no doubt that, when the courts have been called upon to decide when the uncorroborated evidence of a police officer has been involved, they have decided that the defendant is innocent. The width of interpretation that present legislation gives the police cannot be justified or good.

I support new clause 9 because it clarifies the circumstances in which an offence can be identified by the police and upon which action can be taken. It will clarify matters for the police and for the general public who may fear that what appear to be the police's present practices may be used against them. I accept some of the doubts that the hon. Member for Derbyshire, West expressed-about the wording of new clause 9, but it can be clarified and polished by the Government if they accept its principles.

I said earlier that Metropolitan police policy seems to be harassment. I hate to call it that, but that is what many people in the gay community feel it to be. We have only to consider the case of Mr. Jimi Christmas who was arrested by the police some time ago, the case, which my hon. Friend the Member for Holborn and St. Pancras (Mr. Dobson) referred to on Friday, of 50 or 60 police officers descending on The Bell public house on Pentonville road in an utterly unwarranted show of strength, and the way in which the Inland Revenue behaved in regard to the Gay's the Word bookshop in Marchmont street to realise that there is tremendous worry among much of the gay community about the Metropolitan police. The use of entrapment techniques in the Earls court area is just one of those major worries.

I hope that, in his winding-up speech, the Home Secretary will concentrate on the specific matter to which new clause 9 relates because there are valid anxieties to be put at rest and will address himself to the more general fears experienced by members of the gay community in London. I also hope that he will give an assurance that it is not deliberate policy on the part of the Metropolitan police to identify the gay community for the harassment which they fear and suffer.

Mr. Eldon Griffiths

Everyone will welcome the sober and reasonable tone of the debate. I welcome it because, just as some years ago I played some part in bringing the Police Federation into discussions with ethnic minority communities long before the problem started to hit the headlines, so recently I was able to bring about a sensible and useful meeting between the Campaign for Homosexual Equality and the chairman of the Police Federation. Meeting and discussing matters rationally and soberly is a far better method to proceed than using some of the hyperbole that is slung back and forth.

I hope that the hon. Member for Orkney and Shetland (Mr. Wallace) will allow me to say that there is no police officer that I know — I know a few — who regards hanging around in public lavatories to entrap some wretched person under sexual offences legislation with anything but the greatest distaste. Nobody wants to do it. It is clear that my right hon. and learned Friend will be able to speak with more authority on behalf of the Metropolitan police, but one is entitled to say that there is not a considered policy of harassment of the gay community in London. I should like to say as a preliminary that the majority of police officers in London and other cities greatly resent some of the more extreme language that is thrown at them occasionally.

A document from one of the many gay liberation groups in London says of the Bill, especially that part of the Bill that we seek to amend, that the police are racialist, sexist, drunken and bullying".

That description of the Metropolitan police was in the PSI report. The document continues — I ask the House to remember what it feels like to be a police officer trying to do one's duty while being called racialist, sexist, drunken and bullying —to say that the Bill will leave those wretched policemen with powers to forcibly strip and intimately search you. This means looking inside your anus or vagina, to search your home even if you are not suspected of any offence, and this means letters from your mother or the names and addresses of members of a gay group or a gay club will be seized by the police, that the police will be able to arrest you for any affront to public decency and you can guess how it will be used and to whom it will apply—two women greeting each other with a kiss, two men holding hands, someone wearing a gay badge. That sort of literature is being pushed out widely. I suggest that, unlike the rational argument of the Campaign for Homosexual Equality, which I respect and with which I shall deal, such scaremongering language about the Bill or the police service does no service to the cause of trying to arrive at a more rational approach to this very sensitive and difficult matter. I should have thought that I would carry the whole House with me in saying that.

I turn to the specific complaints of the Campaign for Homosexual Equality. As I have told the House, I have had the benefit of discussing in great detail its anxieties about the Bill. I recognise the group's concern about the definition of the affront to public decency, the provisions in respect of intimate body searches, as well as in relation to the general powers of search and entry. I have debated that with the CHE and the police service.

It is only right for me to set out the views of the Police Federation, which were arrived at after much thought, based on experience. The affront to public decency in clause 22 is only one of the many arrest conditions that need to be satisfied before an arrest is made. The clause does not create a new offence as such. A good deal of unnecessary alarm has been created by suggesting that that is so.

We shall be dealing with intimate body searches later, so it would be out of order for me to deal with them now. Once again, in broad terms, far more unnecessary alarm has been generated than the Bill can possibly justify.

I share the Minister's reservation about the practicability of enforcing the amendment as it stands. The amendment stands on two legs: only a uniformed officer can make an arrest, and there must be corroboration by some other person of the police officer's testimony.

Mr. Corbett

Does the hon. Gentleman acknowledge that the new clause does not interfere with the common law power of arrest by the citizen?

Mr. Griffiths

I am obliged to the hon. Gentleman for raising that matter. Perhaps the Minister's reply will deal with it. One of my anxieties about our abolishing the general powers of arrest under the common law, which is done in an earlier clause, is that I am not sure whether this aspect is covered. I shall leave that for the Minister to deal with, rather than replying myself.

The amendment requires, first, that the officers shall be in uniform — I understand the reason for that — and, secondly, that there should be corrobation. I put it to the hon. Member for Orkney and Shetland, who moved the new clause in a reasonable way, that a police officer is under discipline and has no choice but to enforce the law because Parliament has placed that duty upon him, whether he is off duty, a CID officer or a uniformed officer going home in plain clothes. If he has reasonable grounds for believing that an offence is being committed or is about to be committed, he has a duty under the law, under his oath of office and his code of discipline, to prevent that offence or to arrest anyone who is involved in it. If we were to confine the position whereto only a uniformed officer could act in that way, we would be removing from the police their general, 24-hour-a-day responsibilities under discipline and under the law. That is a difficult path to go along.

I am reminded of Committee debates in which it was claimed that only a police officer in uniform should be able to stop a vehicle on the road. I understand the reason for that. A motorist who is stopped by a policeman in plain clothes may be greatly concerned that that person means him no good. None the less, a police officer who is off duty, in the CID or the special branch must be able to deal with an offence if he comes across one. The amendment is rather difficult to carry on that ground, although that does not mean that I object to the principle of it.

Mr. Kaufman

Can the hon. Gentleman explain to me how an officer who is off duty and going home comes upon an offence in a gay club?

Mr. Griffiths

Yes, I can. There is nothing to prevent a police officer, if he is so minded, from going to any club that he likes on his way home. He is a free citizen. Whatever his purpose in going there, if when he gets there an offence occurs, such as a fight, a theft or a sexual offence—it matters not—that officer has a duty to deal with the matter. I am dealing with the leg of the amendment that requires an officer to be in uniform.

A further point should be considered. I received a letter from the Police Federation saying: The restriction is patently aimed at preventing plain clothes officers from doing the task which at present the law requires of them and the argument is apparently"— I am not putting words into the hon. Gentleman's mouth; I am quoting the Police Federation's assumptions— that uniformed patrols prevent the offences from taking place and therefore would obviate the need for their subsequent detection. In other words, the presence of more uniformed officers on patrol would mean less need for entrapment, allurement or plain clothes spying, as the hon. Gentleman put it. I can see that argument but, unfortunately, as the federation goes on to say, that is an ideal proposition for an ideal world: Unfortunately, if uniformed patrols of regular meeting places were to be set up for the purpose of preventing offences, our experience is that it would only cause a relocation of those places of meeting. That practical observation comes from practical police officers.

The second leg of the amendment concerns the point of corroboration. I do not think that anybody in the House —certainly not a police officer—would enjoy the one-on-one situation that may arise where, on the evidence of a single police officer and the counter evidence of the arrested person, a court must decide the case. That is a difficult position, especially when dealing with a matter of such sensitivity. The hon. Gentleman rightly drew attention to the fact that a number of cases brought by the Metropolitan police have failed; they have been thrown out. The police did not enjoy that. It is up to the House to ensure that they are not put in that position too often.

7 pm

I am afraid that, as a matter of practicality, the advice that I had from the Police Federation is that it would be well nigh impossible for the police, in a large number of cases, to prove the offence of soliciting by males if, in every case, they had to establish a third witness. It is not—

Mr. Kaufman


Mr. Griffiths

Exactly. It must be proved, otherwise the case should not be brought. The federation's conclusion is that the new clause is an effort to change the law without recognising the consequences. Therefore, the federation makes a suggestion that I hope the House will find more welcome. It believes that the Sexual Offences Act 1956, particularly the relevant section to which my hon. Friend the Member for Derbyshire, West (Mr. Parris) referred, may be uncertain and unclear. The federation states: If the Campaign for Homosexual Equality consider that public or Parliament should now regard male soliciting as being a less obnoxious act or should be placed in some different category, then they should seek an amendment to the Sexual Offences Act 1956 itself. I agree with that to a great extent. That is the place to make the change. The matter needs clearing up. This is not a proper use for the Bill. For the various practical reasons that I have given, I hope that the Government will not support the amendment.

Ms. Clare Short

I wish to speak strongly in favour of new clause 9 and draw to the attention of the House the present disgraceful and offensive situation. Serving police officers throughout the country get dressed up in ways that they think will make them attractive to gay men, go to places where gay men are known to meet and put themselves around so that they are approached, and then arrest people. We are talking about policemen deliberately going not just to public lavatories, but to pubs and clubs where gay men are known to meet. Such behaviour can be explained only by saying that homosexual relations between consenting males used to be illegal.

However, that law has been changed, so it cannot be against the law for gay men to meet each other and to decide to have a relationship. It is as permissible as, it is for a man and a woman to meet. Yet today, when there is an enormously low crime detection rate in areas such as my own, where people's houses are burgled and there are not enough police officers to attend to constituents' complaints, policemen are indulging in this unnecessary activity.

It is important that the House understands that entrapment is part of the exercise. The police dress up deliberately so that it is more likely that an approach will be made to them. I should like to read the account of an individual recently found not guilty in London. He refers to the way in which the policeman involved in his case was dressed. He came out of a pub that is well known to be used by gay men. The young man said: Leaning against the railings of private premises"— in a street nearby— was a young blond man dressed provocatively in tight jeans with a split round the upper thigh of one leg revealing his buttocks, and otherwise wearing only a tee shirt. As I approached he looked at me and smiled slightly. I stopped just past him and looked round. He looked at me again, acknowledging me with the look, so that I was left in no doubt that he wished to communicate with me. By this time I had walked past him again, this time more slowly, and stopped next to him. It is all very well for a policeman to dress up in his uniform, go to court and say that he was approached improperly by a gay man, but the truth is that British policemen are going around dressed in that way, and deliberately setting out to get convictions of gay men, which is the job that they have been given to do.

We are talking not about streets outside pubs or public toilets where gay men are known to go to meet each other. Policemen even go into gay clubs where gay people meet each other, as they are legally entitled to do.

It would be a disgrace for the House to allow this situation to continue. The proposal made by the hon. Member for Bury St. Edmunds (Mr. Griffiths), that we should delay taking action on the matter, is unacceptable. It is surprising that under the present law it should be thought necessary to have a power against soliciting by gay men, but that there should be no equivalent provision for men who might approach women. It is exactly the same problem. It is legitimate for gay men to meet each other and form friendships and to have a relationship in private. It is legitimate for men and women to meet each other. That meeting might be acceptable to both parties or it might be offensive. In the long term, we should have a law that provides equally for both situations. I do not see why we need a special provision for dealing with gay men.

In the meantime, new clause 9 would massively improve the situation. If anyone is irritated by the behaviour of a gay man, he is still able to complain. If there were a problem in certain public toilets, a uniformed police constable could be asked to keep an eye on the area and walk up and down regularly, so that anyone who had had an objectionable experience could complain to the policeman.

I appeal to everyone in the House to support this extremely reasonable amendment to bring to an end this disgraceful situation of British policemen deliberately dressing in ways that make them attractive to gay men, even going into gay clubs and arresting people who respond to them. That will not do.

Mr. Ashby

I want to speak on the new clause to show to my hon. Friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State that this is a matter of deep concern and that there are many problems in this area. Many of us are very concerned about this area of the law.

The law of entrapment—the agent provocateur—is a very difficult area. It has been a problem for some time. Not long ago, there was a major case dealing with major crime. However, we are talking not about major crime, but about the tawdry, shabby, small and minuscule end of crime. I cannot help likening this matter to the sus laws, with regard to a suspected person liotering with intent.

The House has done away with the sus law, and it might wish to consider section 32 of the Sexual Offences Act 1956 in its entirety. The amendment does not deal with that side; it deals with the evidential side. Often one has evidence from a police officer, who was looking through a grille in the roof of a public lavatory, that he was offended and that he saw someone else who appeared to be offended. No attempt is made to ask that person whether he was offended or to show that any real offence or harm was done to the public. It is grubby not only to the person who committed the offence, but to society and the courts. I have been involved as a lawyer in such cases, but in all my 20 years at the Bar I have never come across a case where real harm was done to anyone except the person who was charged. Such offences are socially disastrous to the person charged, but harmful to no one else.

The new clause is good. It would tighten up the evidential side of the law. It demands that the evidence of the arresting officer should be supported by evidence from another person—a member of the public—who was offended by the conduct of the accused". We cannot ask for more than that. It means that the solid evidence that somebody was offended is required.

Until such time as we can consider the full impact of section 32 and do something about it, we can tighten up and improve the evidential side by the use of this clause. I support the clause and hope that my right hon. and learned Friend the Home Secretary will undertake to consider the matter carefully. I hope that we shall not have to vote on this matter, and that the Home Office will consider it to be an area of deep anxiety which must be dealt with immediately.

Mr. Bell

It is a great pleasure to follow the hon. Member for Leicestershire, North-West (Mr. Ashby), having listened to his eloquent comments about evidence drawn from his 20 years' experience at the Bar. He described the matter as grubby to society and to the courts. He mentioned the effect that this matter has on the reputations of those who are charged. Some people are never charged, and the impact on their reputations is as great as it is on the reputations of those who are charged.

This matter concerns human and civil rights. We are debating the rights of minorities to go about their lawful business as they think fit. The words "entrapment", "decoy" and "agent provocateur" were used during the debate, but they have no place in a free society. The amendment refers to the powers of arrest in part III of the Bill, only if the person who effects the arrest is in uniform.

I am a barrister, and I know of many cases on Teesside of people having been arrested by a police officer not in uniform. The hon. Member for Bury St. Edmunds (Mr. Griffiths) touched on that point. He said that it was desirable for a police officer to be in uniform, so that citizens know with whom they are dealing. I referred to that in Committee. When I was in Paris, I was stopped at 2 am by three French police officers, all of whom were in plain clothes. I did not believe that they were officers and promptly tried to flee the scene. It is wrong that police officers are entitled to arrest citizens when they are not in uniform.

The hon. Member for Bury St. Edmunds seemed to suggest that the citizen's power of arrest—the common law power, as opposed to statutory powers—was being abrogated, and that an officer could not arrest a citizen in the course of his own lawful business. We are discussing officers who are on duty, but not in uniform, who, as my hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham, Ladywood (Ms. Short) said, are used as decoys to entrap citizens who may be going about their lawful business.

7.15 pm

The new clause touches on a sensitive point for all those who are worried about the rights and freedoms which form the basis of our democracy. It is designed to deal with the serious problems that arise in enforcing the laws against soliciting in public. The hon. Member for Orkney and Shetland (Mr. Wallace) said that the law was first introduced in 1898 and has since been applied exclusively against male homosexual soliciting. In 1966, the Divisional Court, in the case of Crook v. Edmondson—reported in 1966 2 Queen's Bench Division, page 81—ruled that the offence did not apply to a man who accosted a woman for sexual intercourse. That is a clear case of discrimination, which runs at odds with other Acts—notably the 1957 legislation. According to the Campaign for Homosexual Equality, that law has been used only once for heterosexual soliciting involving under-age girls. The new clause would not prevent its use where there was corroborative evidence. It calls for corroboration of evidence by a person, other than a police officer, who was offended by the conduct of the accused; and (b) did not incite, encourage or consent to the commission of the offence. At present the onus rests on the court, because, if such evidence is brought before a jury, there may be an acquittal. Last summer six gay men were arrested in Earls court. They contested the charges before a jury. In five of those cases, it was concluded that the police evidence was highly unreliable, and they were acquitted. The individual who finds himself in that invidious position must show that he is innocent and call upon a jury to give a verdict of innocence. Given the nature of the crime and the legal penalties — apart from the social penalties — that is wrong.

The new clause is serious and would add greatly to the Bill. The hon. Member for Bury St. Edmunds, who put Police Federation views, felt that there was a case for such a new clause, but that it should be in the Sexual Offences Act 1956. However, we are not discussing that tonight. It would be fitting and proper for the Government to consider the new clause and incorporate it in the Bill.

The Campaign for Homosexual Equality, on the concept of entrapment, says: Police evidence itself shows that plain clothes officers go to considerable lengths to position themselves and behave in ways that can only be seen as inviting an approach from gay men in the area. They cannot be said to be merely keeping observation. The law should not permit this form of entrapment to be used, least of all for such a trivial offence. Those points were made by the hon. Member for Leicestershire, North-West. It serves no social or useful purpose if police officers behave in that way. It leads only to the harassment of individuals. In 1981 only 40 out of 919 cases were dealt with by police cautions. Those cases do not originate with the public, but we said in Committee that the public were worried about the sort of behaviour that the police have sought to limit.

Mr. Eldon Griffiths

It is the experience of the police that women, especially mothers, become alarmed about what they imagine to be the risks to their children in some places, so they telephone the police and put pressure on them. As often as not, the police act in this way in response to public pressure. The idea might not always start with them.

Mr. Bell

Rarely is specific evidence produced in such cases to show that the police were acting after complaints from the public.

Mr. Kaufman

Would my hon. Friend care to speculate upon the possibility of complaints from the "League of Soho Mothers" against entrapment in Soho gay clubs?

Mr. Bell

I am grateful to my right hon. Friend. The hon. Member for Bury St. Edmunds referred specifically to lavatories, toilets and public places, but, as my right hon. Friend the Member for Manchester, Gorton (Mr. Kaufman) said, this goes far beyond that. As my hon. Friend the Member for Ladywood said, police officers get themselves into guises so that they can enter premises for the purposes of entrapment. The citizen who is entrapped must face serious consequences.

Ms. Clare Short

Does my hon. Friend agree that the new clause would take account of what the hon. Member for Bury St. Edmunds (Mr. Griffiths) said about mothers being worried for their children, in that it would be possible for a policeman in uniform to patrol those areas and thus reassure mothers?

Mr. Bell

Yes, indeed; and the new clause would also provide appropriate corroborative evidence from the person who was offended by the conduct of the accused. It seems that the police believe that they must justify their conduct in such matters by reference to the public.

In Committee, and elsewhere, the hon. Member for Bury St. Edmunds said that the police do not wish to be involved in such investigations. Although, as my right hon. Friend the Member for Gorton said, there are fewer cases in the north-east of England than there are in other parts of the country, the point is that this is a waste of police time, effort and money. It would be in taxpayers' interests if that money could be saved, and more policemen could then be used to weed out and prevent serious crime.

The new clause should be part of the Bill. The Government should give us an assurance that they are prepared to consider this matter seriously, in the interests of equality of all our people, of human and civil rights, and of common dignity. The new clause would also prevent prejudice, because we believe that much of what happens is based on prejudice and on the principle that all men are not entirely equal.

Mr. Peter Bruinvels (Leicester, East)

I had not intended to speak in the debate, but I believe that we must protect the public and we must never offend public decency. One is tempted to believe that, by supporting the new clause, one might encourage activities that are completely unacceptable to most people. However, we must consider such offences, which might be witnessed, and ask ourselves whether such activities are acceptable in this day and age. Since the weekend several hon. Members might have changed their views slightly. What I say is that a policeman who deliberately creates such an offence is not doing his job. However, at the same time we must deter people from carrying out such activities. Will this new clause deter them?

Most hon. Members will believe that such activities are unlawful, but how will the evidence be corroborated? In Scotland two policemen must always give evidence, but here only one policeman is needed. The problem is that some voyeurs might enjoy watching such activities and might even be stupid enough to give evidence in support of any later charge.

The police must be certain whether the act has taken place, but how can they be certain if they are in uniform? Policemen in uniform will neither encourage nor witness such acts.

Mr. Michael Brown (Brigg and Cleethorpes)

My hon. Friend talked about the need to prevent offences from being committed under the Sexual Offences Act 1956. He must agree that if the policeman is in uniform and no offence has been committed, the purpose has been served.

Mr. Bruinvels

I accept that, but the problem is that the person then goes down the road to another site. However, the police must be certain. A non-uniformed police officer might go into such a club, but in effect he will be in uniform because he is a detective constable and is there to investigate a club or to see what is happening there. Nevertheless, agents provocateurs are not the way to solve the problem.

I believe strongly that the new clause is the best way of handling the matter. However, the Sexual Offences Act 1956 must also be amended, otherwise this new clause need not have been brought forward. I believe also that all our children must be protected and the last thing we want in public lavatories, which I fear we must talk about today, is interference with young children. In such cases the police must be entitled to move in, arrest the person committing the offence and take him to the station to be charged.

The clause is acceptable to many of my hon. Friends, and I shall support it, if only to warn some policemen that they must be most careful when charging someone. Genuine cases will always occur and if the police can show that they exercised greater discretion than on some occasions, this will be a better place in which to live. For that reason, I shall, if necessary, vote for the new clause.

Sir Anthony Meyer (Clwyd, North-West)

With my hon. Friend the Member for Leicester, East (Mr. Bruinvels), and for the same reasons as my hon. Friend the Member for Brigg and Cleethorpes (Mr. Brown), I support the clause.

My anxiety about the activities of policemen in plain clothes was aroused because of an incident in my constituency four or five years ago. A young lady cycling home late at night was pounced upon by four men in plain clothes and thrown to the ground. She was convinced that she was about to be subjected to a gang rape. However, they were policemen in plain clothes carrying out a drugs search. She had just returned from visiting her boy friend, who was suspected of having cannabis. I was extremely unhappy about that, and ever since I have had a natural prejudice against the police carrying out activities in plain clothes unless they cannot possibly avoid it.

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Mr. Eldon Griffiths

Did my hon. Friend cause a formal complaint to be made about that police behaviour and, if so, what was the result?

Sir Anthony Meyer

I try to avoid dealing with such things formally. However, I had extensive correspondence with the chief constable. I would rather not go into the matter any further — [Interruption.] There is no allegation of improper conduct, but I was very unhappy about the whole incident, and I was not altogether happy about the chief constable's reaction. However, I do not want to pursue the matter further.

I was much impressed by the speech made by my hon. Friend the Member for Bury St. Edmunds (Mr. Griffiths). He pointed out that if the police were in uniform, such offences would tend to relocate elsewhere. That is rather a curious argument. I have always thought that it was considered valuable to have policemen in uniform to deter people from committing offences. That is the argument that is always used in relation to motorways. It is said that the police are not there to catch people but to discourage them from breaking the law. Surely, therefore, it should be the aim of policing to discourage offensive conduct. That can best be done by the police being present in uniform. The police cannot achieve the same effect by going about in plain clothes and pursuing policies of entrapment.

None of us could say that all use of agents provocateurs must be forbidden. Apart from anything else, they are probably the most effective means of catching, for example, terrorists or the pushers of hard drugs. Hon. Members have repeatedly pointed out that the person who suffers most is the accused in every case. In a great many cases he is acquitted by the court, but his life is nevertheless ruined. The conduct of the police—if it has been correctly reported—in deliberately enticing people to commit a very minor offence for which their names will be dragged into the newspapers and their lives will be wrecked is inexcusable.

I do not know whether the House intends to divide on the new clause, but I hope that the Minister will make it plain that it is not justifiable for the police to use methods of entrapment to secure the conviction of someone who is committing an offence that cannot possibly do any harm to persons innocent of all evil intent. Those who are in such clubs and pubs know perfectly well what is going on. No offence is given to the general public and it is not justifiable for the police to use such techniques in those cases.

Mr. Michael Brown

I apologise to the hon. Member for Orkney and Shetland (Mr. Wallace) for being unable to listen to his opening speech. However, I have listened to most of the debate and I agree with most of what has been said. I simply wish to add my voice to the view of the House, which is that, even if the new clause is technically deficient, its meaning is clear and is accepted by us.

I look to my hon. Friend the Minister to give a clear statement to the House that the Government recognise that there is a grey area in this sphere of the law, and that as long as that grey area exists the law and the activities of the police should err on the side of the individual. As my hon. Friend the Member for Clwyd, North-West (Sir A. Meyer) said, during the past few years it has been drawn to our attention that a disquieting number of people have been unsuccessfully prosecuted amidst great press publicity, and their lives have often been ruined. The House should be concerned about that. I cannot understand why the police should not, in such circumstances, be carrying out their duties in uniform. As my hon. Friend said, if it is the job of the police to prevent the law from being broken, they can best do that, in the circumstances, by being in uniform.

I sincerely hope that my hon. Friend the Minister will recognise that the House has spoken with a virtually united voice on this issue. If he is not prepared to accept that, or to recognise the great disquiet that we all feel, I for one will find myself able to vote for the new clause, even if it is technically deficient.

Mr. Kaufman

It is notable that with the exception of the hon. Member for Bury St. Edmunds (Mr. Griffiths), every hon. Member who has spoken in the debate—on both sides of the House—has been of one mind. In this context, I hope that I am not misunderstood when I say that over the months I have come to be very fond of the hon. Gentleman—this is a public place—in that one comes to anticipate his arguments and the picture that he paints of the policing world. He paints us a picture of a world of a kind of policeman's Camelot, in which a golden rosy haze surrounds the work of the Metropolitan police and the other police forces as the hon. Gentleman fulfils his acknowledged function in speaking up on behalf of the Police Federation. This evening he provided us with a touching picture, in its way, of a policeman who just happens, on his way home, to slip into a gay club—as so many policemen do. It turns out that he has slipped into this gay club to stop a fight that has broken out. To his horror, while he is separating the combatants, he receives an approach that offends his tender susceptibilities. In those circumstances, the police officer has no alternative but to uphold the traditions of the force and to arrest some unoffending person.

Of course, that is not what happens. The debate has made it clear that no hon. Member wishes to encourage crime; far from it. As the hon. Member for Clwyd, North-West (Sir A. Meyer) said, if the police wish to carry out the function that we all want them to perform and to prevent crime, they can best do that, in the circumstances, by wearing their uniforms. There can be no greater certainty in this context that if the police are in uniform, no offence will be committed. In that way, the object of preventive policing will be fulfilled.

When we look at such alleged offences, what are we talking about? As my hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham, Ladywood (Ms. Short) pointed out, we are now looking at something that has been built around the Sexual Offences Act and not at a context in which homosexual relationships are regarded, in and of themselves, as criminal offences. Yet the assumption and consequences of such arrests is to punish them as such.

The disposition to have a homosexual relationship is turned into a criminal tendency. That is not what the law requires or what Parliament has asked the police to do.

In a pub, club or bookshop where homosexuals almost uniquely gather because they know that other homosexuals will be present, how can an alleged or technical offence carried out in those circumstances be regarded as offensive? To whom is it offensive? It will not be offensive to an innocent bystander because no innocent bystander will be present. It will not be offensive to a susceptible child because by definition a susceptible child will not be present. It will not be offensive to a worried parent because a worried parent has no business to be there and almost certainly will not be there. Who, then, is offended?

When we discussed these matters in Committee, clause 22 referred to an "affront to public decency". The Government now wish to refer to an "offence against public decency". But what kind of affront to or offence against public decency—I stress the word "public"—is committed by one homosexual towards another in a place where homosexual people gather to meet one another? In that context an offence against public decency cannot in logic, as distinct from what is technically within the law, be taking place.

As hon. Members on both sides have graphically pointed out, entrapment by deliberate provocation takes place in these matters. The Minister of State strongly condemned such methods. He said in the Standing Committee: The phrase 'an affront to public decency' means exactly that. On guidance to the police, he said: The most relevant principle in that guidance is that no member of a police force shall counsel, incite or procure the commission of a crime, and that is reflected in the orders issued to the Metropolitan police. He further stated: It is essential that the police operate within the law and that they avoid provocative or unsavoury tactics." — [Official Report, Standing Committee E, 31 January 1984; c. 804–20.] The best way to achieve that is to accept the new clause because the new clause rules out provocative and unsavoury tactics and it rules out the counselling, incitement or procurement of a crime because no person in such circumstances would respond to a uniformed police officer. The Minister's aim as stated in Committee can thus be assisted by the inclusion of the new clause.

Mr. Tony Favell (Stockport)

The offence is to importune. There is no guarantee that homosexuals will importune only fellow homosexuals. The person importuned might not be a homosexual.

Mr. Kaufman

If the person importuned is not a homosexual he is unlikely to respond, so I cannot see what harm is being done. If a man who does not wish to be solicited cannot make that clear without the assistance of a plain clothes policeman he must be in some difficulty in his personal life.

I find the police preoccupation with these particular activities and this particular aspect of life somewhat odd. Since my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition asked me to accept the responsibility of being Front Bench spokesman on these matters I have received a considerable amount of correspondence from people who are extremely concerned about the raids being carried out on gay clubs or raids such as those on public houses or the "Gay's the Word" bookshop to which my hon. Friend the Member for Holborn and St. Pancras (Mr. Dobson) and others have referred. What on earth are the police up to in frequenting these places and carrying out these raids? How can they spare the manpower? We are constantly told that they are short of people.

7.45 pm
Mr. Chris Smith

Is my hon. Friend aware that the raid on The Bell public house to which my hon. Friend the Member for Holborn abd St. Pancras (Mr. Dobson) referred last Friday involved 50 or 60 police officers, whereas on the same night on the other side of Pentonville road in my constituency it took the police an hour and a quarter to arrive when they were called to a brawl in a public house involving the destruction of a good deal of furniture and several windows'? The distinction between the two incidents is so manifest that I have still to receive a satisfactory response from the Metropolitan police.

Mr. Kaufman

Indeed. When a registered blind constituent of mine telephoned the police because he feared that his house was being broken into, it took them two hours and five minutes to respond. The House can imagine the anxiety and fear experienced by my constituent.

In those circumstances how can the police spare the manpower to concern themselves with these matters?

Mr. Eldon Griffiths

Without getting into any rosy hues, quite often it happens like this. The parents in a neighbourhood become extremely worried, for instance, about a series of sexual offences against children. Police in uniform may not succeed in deterring them, but: the public nevertheless demand that something be done, so the police use these other methods, which the right hon. Gentleman and many others, including myself, find objectionable. What else can they do?

Mr. Kaufman

On that basis, to deal with the problem that the hon. Gentleman mentions would require the recruitment of child police officers to masquerade as civilian children.

Last Friday the House debated the problem of crime in London. I have no misgivings about repeating the statistics that I gave last Friday about crime in London. Over the past five years the overall total of 659,180 notifiable offences in London is up by 16 per cent. Crimes of violence against the person increased from 14,727 to 17,707, a rise of 20 per cent. Burglary, one of the most widespread of crimes, increased from 121,127 to 152,620, a 27 per cent. increase. Yet the number of arrests has declined by 8 per cent. and the percentage of crimes cleared up is down from 21 per cent. to only 17 per cent. The clear-up rate of crimes in London has fallen by 24 per cent. The clear-up rate per policeman of crimes in the metropolis is worse and often substantially worse than in any other police area, with the single exception of the City of London. In 1982 each London policeman on average cleared up precisely four crimes.

Our constituents want these crimes dealt with. They want these crimes prevented. They want the burglaries prevented. They want the assaults prevented. They want the rapes prevented. My hon. Friend the Member for Holborn and St. Pancras gave statistics on Friday to show that in London today there are 94 murders that have not been cleared up. Our constituents want to be safe in their homes. They want to be safe in the streets. They want the police to be dealing with serious crimes against individuals and their families. The record of the police in dealing with those crimes is poor. Last year there was a 17 per cent. clear-up of crimes. Each police officer, on a budget of £750 million, cleared up four crimes per year. Our constituents want the clear-up rate to be better. They want genuine crime to be dealt with and not these offences. Here we are discussing victimless crimes and those are not the crimes about which our constituents are most anxious.

Let us be clear about what we are discussing. The hon. Member for Brigg and Cleethorpes (Mr. Brown) talked about the damage that could be done to someone who was unsucessfully prosecuted. The problem is that with these tactics the damage is not done only to someone who is unsuccessfully prosecuted. He does not even have to be charged. He merely has to be arrested and to have his name published in a newspaper. That is all that is required for the damage to be done. An arrest, let alone a conviction, can cause appalling permanent damage, and it is damage not to the person who has had the alleged crime committed against him but to the person who is alleged to have committed the offence.

Mr. Tony Marlow (Northampton, North)

May I return to the matter raised by my hon. Friend the Member for Bury St. Edmunds (Mr. Griffiths)? It is a serious one, which worries a lot of people because it concerns children. If the new clause were agreed to, is the right hon. Gentleman satisfied that children in public lavatories would be sufficiently protected from being importuned? Would the police have the ability to provide proper protection in those circumstances? How could it be provided?

Mr. Kaufman

The hon. Gentleman has raised a point that I want to deal with, and I shall do so towards the end of my remarks. Although I replied flippantly to the hon. Member for Bury St. Edmunds (Mr. Griffiths), it is of paramount importance to us all that children be protected. No one will take any different view about that.

Right hon. and hon. Members who support the new clause—with one exception, every contributor to this debate so far—want to see police resources used against the kind of crime that our constituents fear. If the Under-Secretary of State has the statistics, I should like him to say how many policemen in London find themselves diverted from fighting real crime to these unsavoury duties of going into gay clubs and hanging round public lavatories, surely one of the most unattactivee duties that any policeman can be called upon to carry out. Our constituents want the bobby on the beat protecting them in their homes and in their neighbourhoods. They do not want the bobby in the basement club or in the public urinal.

The hon. Member for Northampton, North (Mr. Marlow) asked me whether I was satisfied that the new clause would deal with the protection of children. I am not 100 per cent. sure that it does. But that is not at issue. No Opposition can be relied upon or can be asked to draft technically perfect legislation. After all, the Government have tabled 300 amendments for this Report stage, so it is not easy for the Government, with unlimited access to parliamentary counsel, to draft legislation. What is more, I remind the House that this is the Government's fourth go at the Bill.

We are not saying that the new clause is technically immaculate. It does not have to be. The House can force the Government to act on this issue by voting the new clause into the Bill. Then they can amend it in the House of Lords to make sure that it deals with all these issues.

The Under-Secretary of State is a powerful and attractive advocate. I advise the House not to be beguiled by him. The House has an opportunity to put the new clause into the Bill. If it does that, the Government will have to amend the clause in the House of Lords to meet the preoccupations of the hon. Member for Northampton, North.

The official Opposition will be voting for the new clause. It is clear that other Opposition parties will do so as well. I trust that enough Government supporters will vote for it, too, so that we can deal with an abuse which I believe the nation will no longer tolerate.

The Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department (Mr. David Mellor)

My hon. Friend the Member for Bury St. Edmunds (Mr. Griffiths) said that this had been a sober and reasonable debate. So it has been. We must be grateful for the way in which the hon. Member for Orkney and Shetland (Mr. Wallace) moved his motion, which he did with considerable clarity and cogency. I believe that our time has been well spent debating these important matters.

In replying to the debate and, I hope, not breaking the spell of sobriety and reasonableness which has been passed across the Chamber and which perhaps is not always the case, I hope that I shall be able to separate out some of the strands in the debate. If I have any criticism to make, it may be that the debate became a little entangled. I believe that we need to be especially clear that we are able to distinguish in our minds between whether we need a law such as that contained in section 32 of the 1956 Act and, if we do, how that can be properly enforced for the benefit of the public, and the techniques that have been described by a number of hon. Members as entrapment or the use of an agent provocateur.

My one criticism of the hon. Member for Orkney and Shetland is that he talked about spies and agents provocateurs as though keeping observation and acting as an agent provocateur were the same. They are not, and I hope that by the end of my contribution, which was attractively trailed by the right hon. Member for Manchester, Gorton (Mr. Kaufman) and by which I was properly beguiled, if I have not made any other point clear, I have at least made that one clear. There is no reason to believe that we cannot have on the statute book in an unamended form section 32 of the Sexual Offences Act without leading to the kind of allegations of entrapment about which we have heard a great deal today.

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It is important to recognise that the new clause seeks to amend only one part of the 1956 Act—section 32—which provides: It is an offence for a man persistently to solicit or importune in a public place for immoral purposes. It does not touch upon a number of other offences involving homosexuality — acts of gross indecency, indecent assault and the rest — which also find their place in that Act.

It was not the Government's intention in bringing forward the Police and Criminal Evidence Bill to make changes in the Sexual Offences Act. That was a perfectly right and proper decision for us to take and to which we adhere. As my hon. Friend the Member for Bury St. Edmunds rightly said, that was not the purpose of the Royal Commission either.

However, it is clear that there is a good deal that needs to be looked at in the tangled web of the law on sexual offences. That is being done by the Criminal Law Revision Committee and, plainly, there will come a time when the House will have to look with great care not just at section 32 but at many other parts of the 1956 Act. I cannot properly commend to the House that we should take a piecemeal approach to that difficult matter tonight.

It is important that I make clear the one material change that is made by the Bill to the 1956 Act and the effect that it has on section 32. The power of arrest under section 41 of the Sexual Offences Act so far as it relates to police officers is abolished and clause 22 is substituted. Therefore, the Bill narrows the power of arrest because under clause 22 the police may arrest only if it is impracticable or inappropriate to proceed by way of summons whereas they may exercise their present powers under section 41 whether or not an immediate arrest is necessary. An ordinary citizen's power of arrest remains as already provided for in section 41.

It is crucial to appreciate that in clause 22 and section 32 we are concerned with a public place. I must make it clear from the outset that a private club where homosexuals may gather together is not a public place either for the purpose of section 32 or for the power of arrest under clause 22. Indeed, clause 22(8) makes that perfectly clear. We are dealing with importuning in a public place which often, but not exclusively, means outside public lavatories. We are not dealing with what goes on in private clubs where people who enter know full well that they are going into places to which homosexuals have recourse where an ordinary member of the public who merely feels the need to pass water before he gets home is unlikely to venture.

Mr. Ashby

Is not a public place simply defined as a place to which the public have access? Is it not as simple as that? Most clubs, whether they be termed private or otherwise, are places to which the public generally have access and that means that they are.

Mr. Mellor

The line is drawn at whether any member of the public may enter or whether it is a private club. A private club is unlikely to be a public place. As my hon. Friend knows only too well, just as I do, what is or is not a public place is a question of fact for the court to determine in any case.

We must not be under any illusions in dealing with the narrow point — although the debate has perfectly properly ranged much wider—of whether we need to attach to one section and one section only of the 1956 Act, that relating to importuning in a public place, various rather unusual restrictions on the ability of the police to enforce the law. We have to ask ourselves whether it is appropriate or not to do so in the context that, for the most part, the offence that we are talking about is committed outside public lavatories.

Mr. Kaufman

The hon. Member for Leicestershire, North-West (Mr. Ashby) has made an important point which is supported by the Bill. If the hon. Gentleman looks at clause 1(9) he will see that 'public place' means any place to which the public or any section of the public has access, on payment or otherwise".

Mr. Mellor

The right hon. Gentleman will find that later in our proceedings that will be changed, if the House wills, in a way consistent 'with what I have just said.

Mr. Kaufman

I apologise for intervening again. In fact, if we look at the amendments to which the hon. Gentleman refers—I have studied them because we had long debates on them in Committee—they come after that part and are intended, as the hon. Gentleman knows, though not very successfully, to deal with the problem of whether a private garden is a public place. What they do not do is interfere in any way with those two and a bit lines that I have just quoted. They remain as they stand in the Bill.

Mr. Mellor

I said that a private members' club is not a public place, and I adhere to that.

The central part of this debate is the question which the hon. Member for Orkney and Shetland addressed at the outset. He recognised, in a way that subsequent hon. Members have not always done, that there is a need for section 32 and that if members of the public complain about incidents in places of public recourse it is the duty of the police to go in and investigate those complaints and to enforce the law. We must ask ourselves whether, if the new clause were to be enacted, the law could be enforced. It is not necessary for us to go into great detail on whether the law can be enforced only by constables in uniform or only by plain clothes officers. I should have thought that we were better off doing what is the constitutional position and leaving that for the determination of the chief officer of police. That is, after all, part of his day-to-day duties. Part of his job is to determine how the law should be enforced in his district and what officers he should place on which duties. We should be taking a brave step indeed if we were to say that only officers in uniform could enforce this part of the Act. What would be the effect of it? It would not be practicable to enforce the law in that way. I am sorry that I do not have the attention of the principal actors in this drama because it is intended to assist in answering the debate that I make these points.

It is not a practical means of enforcing section 32 of the 1956 Act merely to have it enforced by constables in uniform. As the hon. Gentleman and others have recognised, the effect of a constable in uniform positioning himself outside of a public lavatory which it is alleged is being used for acts of importuning and gross indecency would be to move the problem from one area to another. That may be the right thing to do in some cases, but it may be necessary in others for an arrest to be made and for people to be brought before the courts.

I cannot agree with the right hon. Member for Gorton that the public is not troubled by the matters that we are discussing. A police chief, faced with a great crime wave and serious crime, should not allow half, a quarter, or 20 per cent. of his force to be permanently deployed in one public lavatory. It is certainly no part of my task to suggest that that is a proper way for any chief police officer to police his area.

We have to bear in mind that some people go to public lavatories to use them for the purposes for which the munificent municipality provided them. If it is impossible for people to do that without being accosted, or seeing acts of gross indecency going on in one corner, I do not believe that it is any part of the public's wish that we should make it impossible for the police to clear that up. I hope that I carry with me a number of hon. Members in making that point.

Sir Anthony Meyer

I am sure that my hon. Friend carries the House with him in what he says about public lavatories, but would he say a little more about clubs, those rather loosely defined institutions, which must be in the minds of many hon. Members today?

Mr. Mellor

No. I shall stick to the venues where section 52 of the 1956 Act is most commonly applied, because that is the subject of the debate.

If we were to say that a chief police officer could enforce this part of the 1956 Act only by stationing a uniformed police officer outside the place about which complaints had been made, I think that he would be unduly handicapped in enforcing the law. In some circumstances only a non-uniformed officer, properly stationed, can properly see and indentify what is going on.

While nobody wants disproportionate amounts of police time to be spent on matters of this kind, if it is necessary, to end a public nuisance about which the public is rightly exercised, for a police officer not in uniform to keep observation in order to make arrests, I believe that that is the price that we are entitled to expect to extract so that the law may be properly enforced, and the public may have confidence that they can use a particular facility, or that their children can use it without the danger of their children being molested. That has nothing to do with homosexual acts in private, but it has everything to do with the fact that I believe that people would want to know whether it was homosexual or heterosexual acts that were going on inside.

Prohibiting in an arbitary way, as the clause proposes, the use of CID officers— and I hope that I carry the House with me on this — I cannot think would be helpful. Indeed, it would undermine the hon. Gentleman's stated intention that, where there is a legitimate public complaint, the law should be enforced.

Ms. Clare Short

The Minister raises the important question of children. Clearly there is no more likelihood that a homosexual man will approach children than there is that a heterosexual man will approach children. Will the Minister help us on this point by saying what other provisions there are in the law to prevent adults from approaching children sexually? It seems wrong, and a smear on homosexuals, to suggest that they have a greater proclivity to approach children than do other adults.

8.15 pm
Mr. Mellor

I am sure that the hon. Lady wishes to be fair. I have never suggested that. Indeed, I introduced gratuitously into the debate my recognition of the fact, as any Home Office Minister dealing with such a case is bound to do, that the problem of molestation of children is a homosexual and heterosexual matter. I draw no distinction between the two. They are both serious problems. We must not fall into the temptation of getting so worked up about one or two of the allegations about entrapment as to be utterly convinced that all the public wants us to do is to make the task of the police impossible in enforcing this part of the 1956 Act. I believe that we would be making a fundamental mistake if we were to do that. I do not take my stand on that.

My only other criticism of what the hon. Gentleman said concerns the proposal that there should be corroboration or, in effect, a move almost to redraft the constituents of the offence by requiring that there had to be a complainant in the matter other than a police officer. I am not sure that the hon. Gentleman would not make it impossible for this part of the law to be enforced. In the nature of things, as long ago as the Wolfenden committee—nearly 30 years ago—it was recognised that persons who are accosted often will not attend court to give evidence. Wherever possible, I hope that the police will ensure that, where a member of the public is approached, or is plainly upset about what he saw, he will be brought before the court to give evidence.

To make it a requirement that in every case that has to happen is not just a suggestion with which I am not prepared to agree — that one cannot rely on police evidence unless it is backed up by somebody else, which I think is an unnecessary slur on our police force, to put it no higher than that—but it also means that there can be no guarantee that the law would be enforced. In the nature of things, the victim of male importuning may well be reluctant to go to court to give evidence, since he puts himself in line with its being suggested by counsel or solicitors that he led the poor innocent defendant on, and he will be subjected to a great deal of rigorous examination about why he felt it necessary to visit that public lavatory at that time.

My hon. Friend the Member for Leicester, East (Mr. Bruinvels), having made a speech against the new clause, told the House that he would vote for it. In saying what I have said, I hope that I have persuaded him that, while there are issues about the quality of policing in this part of the law, it would not be prudent for the House to pass the new clause. This should be done only by those who believe that there is no place on the statute book for section 32. It would hobble section 32, and make it impossible to enforce.

Mr. Parris

My hon. Friend has put forward one possible reason why unsuspecting members of the public who have been importuned by homosexuals may be unwilling to come before the courts to give evidence. May I put forward the suggested alternative reason that such people do not exist in any large number?

Mr. Mellor

My hon. Friend can put it forward, but I do not think that he can seriously expect me to agree with it, and I do not.

Mr. Wallace

On the point raised by the hon. Member for Derbyshire, West (Mr. Paths), is one of the other reasons why it would be difficult to get witnesses to corroborate that, in many cases, people do not consider that they have been victims of a crime? In many of these cases, there are no victims of the crime.

Mr. Mellor

That may be the case, but it is not simply a question of whether somebody is present when a specific incident where A accosts B takes place. It is the fact that there is a general imputation that, in a particular location in a particular area, something is going on that makes people nervous about using it, and makes them feel that their children are vulnerable. This is particularly so when, as it is often the case, these locations are in parks, recreation grounds and areas to which children go, but a a little away from the highways and byways and therefore suitable for purposes other than those for which the local authority thought it right to provide the facilities in the first place.

It is crucial that one should recognise that there are limits, to which the House has properly drawn attention. It is hoped that chief officers of police will study with great care, as I shall, what has been said in the debate. There is plainly concern on both sides of the House about some of the ways in which it is said the law is being enforced. I stress that that, to my mind, is a separate question to whether we need the law to be effective. If chief officers of police believe that the problem is too bad merely to have a uniformed police officer to go along to frighten people away, and that it requires someone out of uniform passively to observe what is going on and to gather evidence, it seems perfectly proper that he should do so, and a perfectly legitimate tactic for a plain clothes officer to be used in that context, just as in any other.

I deal next with the serious point about entrapment, to which I wish to devote the rest of my speech, in the hope that even those hon. Members to whom my observations so far have brought not much cheer may feel encouraged by what I say. First, we need to define our terms. What do we mean by entrapment, and by agent provocateur? The best possible definition of an agent provocateur was probably given in the Royal Commission on the police report in 1928. In that report, an agent provocateur was defined as a person who entices another to commit an express breach of the law which he would not otherwise have committed, and then proceeds to inform against him in respect of such an offence.

We are dealing with a serious matter because, as is well recognised, there is no defence in English law to a case of entrapment, unlike the situation in some other jurisdictions. Therefore, it is all the more necessary that we ensure, as far as possible, that the police do not employ tactics that could properly be called entrapment or the use of agents provocateurs.

It may be helpful if I rehearse my understanding of the law of entrapment. There is no defence of entrapment known to English law. The fact that a person would not have committed an offence but for the activities of an agent provocateur is no defence in law. A British court will not refuse to admit evidence of an offence on the ground of entrapment and nor will the evidence be refused on a vaguer ground of discretion. If someone has been entrapped. it is the offence—not the evidence of it—which has been unfairly obtained.

However, the crucial point is that, to avoid the injustices that would follow from that, the police must follow the guidelines drawn up by the Home Office. If they fail to do so, they risk censure by the court and criminal liability, as was made clear by Lord Diplock in the leading case of Sang in the House of Lords in 1979, as accessories or for incitement.

I wish to deal with the rules governing the activities of the police. The Home Office guidelines to police forces make it absolutely clear that we have no truck with entrapment and the use of agents provocateurs. They say: No member of a police force and no public informant should counsel, incite or procure the commission of a crime.

Mr. Martin Stevens (Fulham)

I apologise for not being here for the earlier part of the debate. My hon. Friend's comments are reassuring, but I understand that the rules on entrapment are not observed in every police station in the land. Can my hon. Friend tell us that his rules are uniformly obeyed?

Mr. Mellor

I do not suppose that I could say that of these rules any more than I could say it of others. I am as disturbed as anyone else at the suggestion that the rules are not observed. However, it is clear what we believe the rules should be and we expect chief officers and the police to adhere to them. I shall mention later further arrangements that have been entered into with the Metropolitan police to try to ensure that the rules are adhered to.

My hon. Friend the Member for Fulham (Mr. Stevens) knows that, as so often in this place, merely passing a law or issuing a circular does not solve a problem. It becomes a matter for good management. We do what we can, as do chief officers of police, to ensure that rules are adhered to.

Mr. Ashby

What happens if the rules are not followed? A person is still arrested and goes through the heartbreak of publicity and all the rest that follows, culminating possibly in a trial.

Mr. Mellor

I know that my hon. Friend would not wish to intervene gratuitously, and I thought that I had just dealt with that point by saying that there is no defence of entrapment in English law. That is why it is crucial that we do as much as we can, as we do, to ensure that police forces adhere to the rules that are clearly set out in the Home Office circular. Secondly, careful consideration must be given to the decision to prosecute, which is why I believe that the proposal that we shall shortly be bringing to the House for an independent prosecution system, in which the decision whether to prosecute will be separate from the investigation of offences, will allow certain cases to be weeded out at a crucial point if a prosecutor believes that police tactics have contributed more than they should to an individual's downfall

However, I stress that that is a matter on which no Minister would want to go further. The enforcement of the law and the decision whether to prosecute are rightly divorced from politics. Long may that be the case.

Mr. Alex Carlile (Montgomery)

Does the hon. Gentleman agree that usually it emerges only halfway through a trial that there has been or may have been entrapment? By that point it is much too late, because entrapment is not a defence. The person who has been entrapped stands to be convicted and often is. Are not the cases that cause trouble those in which the police steadfastly deny that there has been entrapment until evidence of it is revealed?

Mr. Mellor

But I am sure that the hon. and learned Gentleman would not want to suggest that every time that entrapment is alleged it has taken place. We all know what people sometimes say when faced with a charge. In certain circumstances, virtually the only course open to someone who wants to deny a charge is to make an allegation against a police officer. The crucial point is that, as far as possible, proper arrangements should be followed so that entrapment does not take place. In the end, there can be no absolute guarantees in this area, any more than in other areas. It is a mistake to think that the problems of entrapment and the agent provocateur arise only in the context of this sexual offence. To the extent that it is a problem, it covers the system as a whole and only by good management in the police force can one ensure that it is kept to a minimum.

Mr. Kaufman

The hon. Gentleman is doing his best to make the best of a case in which I suspect he does not believe—and that is to his credit. He spoke about what happens when a prosecution takes place, but the problem is that the damage can be done without or before a prosecution and even without a charge. A simple arrest can bring about the sort of destruction that we are discussing.

Mr. Mellor

I fully appreciate that, but the dilemma that I thought that I had put before the House is that there is no way, short of removing this part of the law from the statute book or preventing it from being enforced, that the problem can be prevented. I do not believe that the public feel that would be proper for us effectively to remove this part of the Sexual Offences Act from the statute book.

I hope that I have made it clear that the internal disciplinary arrangements of the police should make it plain that entrapment is wholly contrary to our principles of fairness and justice. Indeed, the Metropolitan police general orders and procedures make those points.

Those orders provide that a plain clothes operation relating to male importuning has to be authorised at area district assistant commissioner level—a very high level. Only experienced officers may take part, the officers involved must be specially instructed on the need for circumspection in carrying out their duties and their attention must be drawn to the requirement that, in general, no person is to be arrested for a section 32 offence solely on the ground of his behaviour towards the officers, though if the behaviour is flagrant arrest may be necessary to put a stop to it. In order to get corroborative evidence, persons importuned should be asked to give their names and addresses and to attend court. Should such assistance be refused, particulars are to be noted in the officer's pocket book and stated in evidence.

We have had discussions with the Metropolitan commissioner about whether the orders should be amended to give further emphasis to the need to avoid action, while on plain clothes duty, that could cause the commission of an offence. Indeed, the commissioner intends to make some amendments to the rules to point out even more clearly that officers deployed on plain clothes duty should never act as agents provocateurs.

I believe that the key to the new clause is to make a clear differentiation between the need for this section of the 1956 Act, the need not to hobble it with restrictions that would be counterproductive and against the public interest and the need to ensure that the law is enforced properly and fairly by a police force which we can all feel confident is acting in accordance with the best traditions and highest standards.

I hope that I make it clear that we deplore the use of agents provacateurs and entrapment as much as anybody else, and we are taking steps to ensure that the police rules state clearly, so that no one can be in any doubt, the dividing line between legitimate tactics to enforce the law and illegitimate ones. On that basis, I urge the House to reject the new clause.

8.30 pm
Mr. Maclennan

I regret that the Parliamentary Under-Secretary has not more precisely sensed the mood of the House in this important debate. It is unfortunate that he has not recognised the virtual unanimity of opinion expressed in all the speeches made, with the exception of that made by the hon. Member for Bury St. Edmunds (Mr. Griffiths), who spoke openly from a point of view that he has frequently declared to the House.

My hon. Friend the Member for Orkney and Shetland (Mr. Wallace) opened the debate, and did so, as the House has acknowledged, with no exaggeration and with a great sensitivity and awareness of the genuine social problem. His speech was followed by those made by the hon. Members for Derbyshire, West (Mr. Parris), for Brigg and Cleethorpes (Mr. Brown), for Leicestershire, North-West (Mr. Ashby), for Leicester, East (Mr. Bruinvels) and for Clwyd, North-West (Sir A. Meyer), all of whom support the new clause. The Minister has not begun to answer the points made by his hon. Friends.

From the Opposition side of the House, the hon. Members for Birmingham, Ladywood (Ms. Short), for Middlesbrough (Mr. Bell) and for Islington, South and Finsbury (Mr. Smith) and the right hon. Member for Manchester, Ardwick (Mr. Kaufman) all made measured, moderate speeches describing a situation that is commonly acknowledged as unacceptable. It is remarkable that the Minister should seek to persuade the House that a problem acknowledged by every hon. Member who has spoken does not really exist.

The Minister is reflecting the Home Office complacency about the issue of entrapment and agents provocateurs. In his concluding remarks, he sought to persuade us that the Government were attempting to do something about the matter. However, this issue was raised with the Home Secretary, whose presence we finally welcome to the debate, by my right hon. Friend the Member for Plymouth, Devonport (Dr. Owen) as long ago as 18 October, in connection with a specific problem in a specific part of London—Earls court—where there were alleged cases of entrapment and agents provocateurs. The Home Secretary did not choose to reply to our general inquiries until February. He said what had already been said in a Committee sitting on the Bill, that guidance had been given on entrapment to the police. He did not answer the questions about the factual circumstances which had given rise to the complaints in Earls court, or say what the results of the consultations with the Metropolitan commissioner had been. Tonight we have heard nothing from the junior Minister about the possible changes in practice that might occur as a result of his discussions with the Metropolitan commissioner.

We have been told that the rules are to be changed, but we have not been told in what manner. These are the rules set out in paragraph 1.92 of the consolidated circular to the police on crime, or in the force general orders. I do not know whether the Minister knows in what manner the rules are to be changed, but the House and certainly those hon. Members who have spoken in the debate will take some persuading that it is a defect of the rules that is to blame. The problem is that the rules are not being observed. It is because of that that an amendment to the law is necessary.

The Bill seeks to codify police practice. The Minister's argument was designed to suggest that a new clause such as ours, which deals with a particular problem of police practice that has given rise to considerable anxiety, and with clear evidence of misdirection of police resources, related to a matter more approriately dealt with in the context of a revision of the law on sexual offences. However, the new clause is not, strictly speaking an attempt to amend the Sexual Offences Act, but one to regulate police behaviour, and that is why it is appropriate to the Bill and why it is not appropriate to wait for the report of the Criminal Law Revision Committee or to postpone to the Greek calends acting upon something with which the Home Office must be familiar.

The Minister also suggested that he was giving us some encouragement and hope that some of our criticisms and concerns would be dealt with by the Government's proposals to establish an independent prosecution system. Has he consulted with the Secretary of State for Scotland to discover whether the existence of an independent prosecution system in Scotland has led to the elimination of all concerns about agents provacateurs and entrapment? That is not my impression. I do not believe the Minister's plea that we should not act on this matter tonight would stand up on that count.

Mr. Martin Stevens

The hon. Gentleman would have been taking me into the Lobby with him but for the requirement in his new clause that the police officers making the section 32 arrest should at all times be in uniform and not in plain clothes. That is an unrealistic proposition and that is why I shall support the Government.

Mr. Maclennan

I am grateful for the hon. Gentleman's support as far as it goes. I hope that he will find it appropriate to vote in favour of the new clause. I acknowledge that it is not necessarily possible for Opposition parties to draft amendments that are entirely apposite to deal with the admitted social evil about which the hon. Gentleman is concerned. The Bill has still to make progress in the other place, and it is possible for the Government to respond to the clear feeling expressed by the House and to amend the terms and the language of it to meet this point and others that have been made. Therefore, I hope that—

Mr. Dennis Skinner (Bolsover)

There have been agents provacateurs in the miners' strike for weeks, but the House has not worried about that.

Mr. Maclennan

—the House will, in the absence of stronger arguments than those supplied by the Minister, take this opportunity to vote in favour of the new clause.

Question put, That the clause be read a Second time:—

The House divided: Ayes 131, Noes 191.

Division No. 296] [8.39 pm
Alton, David Brown, M. (Brigg & Cl'thpes)
Archer, Rt Hon Peter Brown, N. (N'c'tle-u-Tyne E)
Ashby, David Bruinvels, Peter
Atkinson, N. (Tottenham) Buchan, Norman
Banks, Tony (Newham NW) Caborn, Richard
Barron, Kevin Callaghan, Jim (Heyw'd & M)
Beckett, Mrs Margaret Campbell-Savours, Dale
Bell, Stuart Clark, Dr David (S Shields)
Bennett, A. (Dent'n & Red'sh) Clarke, Thomas
Bermingham, Gerald Cocks, Rt Hon M. (Bristol S.)
Bidwell, Sydney Concannon, Rt Hon J. D.
Blair, Anthony Corbett, Robin
Bray, Dr Jeremy Cowans, Harry
Brown, Hugh D. (Provan) Craigen, J. M.
Crowther, Stan Mackenzie, Rt Hon Gregor
Davies, Ronald (Caerphilly) Maclennan, Robert
Davis, Terry (B ham, H'ge H'l) McNamara, Kevin
Deakins, Eric McTaggart, Robert
Dewar, Donald Marek, Dr John
Dixon, Donald Mason, Rt Hon Roy
Dormand, Jack Maxton, John
Douglas, Dick Maynard, Miss Joan
Dubs, Alfred Meyer, Sir Anthony
Dunwoody, Hon Mrs G. Millan, Rt Hon Bruce
Eadie, Alex Montgomery, Fergus
Eastham, Ken Morris, Rt Hon A. (W'shawe)
Evans, John (St. Helens N) Nellist, David
Fatchett, Derek Oakes, Rt Hon Gordon
Field, Frank (Birkenhead) O'Brien, William
Fisher, Mark O'Neill, Martin
Forrester, John Orme, Rt Hon Stanley
Foster, Derek Owen, Rt Hon Dr David
Foulkes, George Park, George
Fraser, J. (Norwood) Parris, Matthew
Freeson, Rt Hon Reginald Parry, Robert
Garrett, W. E. Patchett, Terry
Golding, John Pavitt, Laurie
Gould, Bryan Pike, Peter
Gourlay, Harry Powell, Raymond (Ogmore)
Hamilton, James (M'well N) Richardson, Ms Jo
Hamilton, W. W. (Central Fife) Roberts, Allan (Bootle)
Hardy, Peter Robertson, George
Harman, Ms Harriet Ross, Ernest (Dundee W)
Harrison, Rt Hon Walter Rowlands, Ted
Hart, Rt Hon Dame Judith Sheerman, Barry
Haynes, Frank Short, Ms Clare (Ladywood)
Hogg, N. (C'nauld & Kilsyth) Short, Mrs R.(Whampt'n NE)
Howell, Rt Hon D. (S'heath) Skinner, Dennis
Howells, Geraint Smith, C,(Isl'ton S & F'bury)
Hughes, Roy (Newport East) Smith, Rt Hon J. (M'kl'ds E)
Hughes, Sean (Knowsley S) Spearing, Nigel
Janner, Hon Greville Stott, Roger
John, Brynmor Strang, Gavin
Jones, Barry (Alyn & Deeside) Thomas, Dafydd (Merioneth)
Kaufman, Rt Hon Gerald Thomas, Dr R. (Carmarthen)
Kilroy-Silk, Robert Thompson, J. (Wansbeck)
Kirkwood, Archibald Torney, Tom
Knight, Gregory (Derby N) Wainwright, R.
Lambie, David Wardell, Gareth (Gower)
Lamond, James Wareing, Robert
Leighton, Ronald Welsh, Michael
Lewis, Ron (Carlisle) Wigley, Dafydd
Lewis, Terence (Worsley) Winnick, David
Litherland, Robert
Lloyd, Tony (Stretford) Tellers for the Ayes:
Lofthouse, Geoffrey Mr. James Wallace and
Loyden, Edward Mr. Alex Carlile.
McKay, Allen (Penistone)
Alexander, Richard Brinton, Tim
Amess, David Brittan, Rt Hon Leon
Ancram, Michael Brooke, Hon Peter
Arnold, Tom Buchanan-Smith, Rt Hon A.
Aspinwall, Jack Buck, Sir Antony
Atkins, Rt Hon Sir H. Budgen, Nick
Atkins, Robert (South Ribble) Burt, Alistair
Atkinson, David (B'm'th E) Butterfill, John
Baker, Nicholas (N Dorset) Carlisle, John (N Luton)
Baldry, Anthony Carlisle, Kenneth (Lincoln)
Batiste, Spencer Carlisle, Rt Hon M. (W'ton S)
Beaumont-Dark, Anthony Cash, William
Bellingham, Henry Chapman, Sydney
Bendall, Vivian Chope, Christopher
Benyon, William Clark, Hon A. (Plym'th S'n)
Berry, Sir Anthony Clark, Dr Michael (Rochford)
Bevan, David Gilroy Clarke, Rt Hon K. (Rushcliffe)
Biggs-Davison, Sir John Cockeram, Eric
Boscawen, Hon Robert Colvin, Michael
Bottomley, Peter Coombs, Simon
Bottomley, Mrs Virginia Cope, John
Bowden, Gerald (Dulwich) Cranborne, Viscount
Braine, Sir Bernard Currie, Mrs Edwina
Brandon-Bravo, Martin Dorrell, Stephen
Douglas-Hamilton, Lord J. Pollock, Alexander
Dover, Den Powell, Rt Hon J. E. (S Down)
Durant, Tony Powell, William (Corby)
Dykes, Hugh Powley, John
Eggar, Tim Prentice, Rt Hon Reg
Emery, Sir Peter Price, Sir David
Eyre, Sir Reginald Proctor, K. Harvey
Fairbairn, Nicholas Pym, Rt Hon Francis
Favell, Anthony Raff an, Keith
Fenner, Mrs Peggy Renton, Tim
Forman, Nigel Rhys Williams, Sir Brandon
Freeman, Roger Ridley, Rt Hon Nicholas
Gardiner, George (Reigate) Ridsdale, Sir Julian
Garel-Jones, Tristan Rifkind, Malcolm
Glyn, Dr Alan Robinson, Mark (N'port W)
Goodlad, Alastair Roe, Mrs Marion
Gower, Sir Raymond Rossi, Sir Hugh
Griffiths, E. (B'y St Edm'ds) Rowe, Andrew
Hamilton, Hon A. (Epsom) Rumbold, Mrs Angela
Hargreaves, Kenneth Ryder, Richard
Haselhurst, Alan Sackville, Hon Thomas
Hind, Kenneth Sayeed, Jonathan
Hogg, Hon Douglas (Gr'th'm) Scott, Nicholas
Holland, Sir Philip (Gedling) Shaw, Giles (Pudsey)
Holt, Richard Shepherd, Colin (Hereford)
Hordern, Peter Silvester, Fred
Howard, Michael Sims, Roger
Howarth, Gerald (Cannock) Smith, Tim (Beaconsfield)
Hunt, David (Wirral) Soames, Hon Nicholas
Hurd, Rt Hon Douglas Speller, Tony
Jones, Robert (W Herts) Spencer, Derek
Knowles, Michael Stanbrook, Ivor
Lang, Ian Stern, Michael
Lawrence, Ivan Stevens, Lewis (Nuneaton)
Lester, Jim Stevens, Martin (Fulham)
Lewis, Sir Kenneth (Stamf'd) Stewart, Allan (Eastwood)
Lightbown, David Stewart, Andrew (Sherwood)
Lilley, Peter Stradling Thomas, J.
Lloyd, Peter, (Fareham) Sumberg, David
Lord, Michael Tapsell, Peter
Luce, Richard Taylor, John (Solihull)
Lyell, Nicholas Taylor, Teddy (S'end E)
McCurley, Mrs Anna Temple-Morris, Peter
MacKay, Andrew (Berkshire) Terlezki, Stefan
Maclean, David John Thomas, Rt Hon Peter
Major, John Thompson, Patrick (N'ich N)
Malone, Gerald Thorne, Neil (Word S)
Marlow, Antony Thornton, Malcolm
Marshall, Michael (Arundel) Thurnham, Peter
Mates, Michael Tracey, Richard
Mather, Carol Trotter, Neville
Maude, Hon Francis Twinn, Dr Ian
Mayhew, Sir Patrick Vaughan, Sir Gerard
Mellor, David Wakeham, Rt Hon John
Merchant, Piers Waller, Gary
Mills, Sir Peter (West Devon) Ward, John
Mitchell, David (NW Hants) Wardle, C. (Bexhill)
Moate, Roger Watson, John
Molyneaux, Rt Hon James Watts, John
Morris, M. (N'hampton, S) Wells, Bowen (Hertford)
Morrison, Hon P. (Chester) Wheeler, John
Moynihan, Hon C. Whitney, Raymond
Mudd, David Wiggin, Jerry
Neale, Gerrard Wolfson, Mark
Needham, Richard Wood, Timothy
Newton, Tony Woodcock, Michael
Nicholls, Patrick Yeo, Tim
Norris, Steven Young, Sir George (Acton)
Onslow, Cranley Younger, Rt Hon George
Oppenheim, Philip
Osborn, Sir John Tellers for the Noes:
Page, John (Harrow W) Mr. Michael Neubert and
Page, Richard (Herts SW) Mr. Tim Sainsbury.
Pawsey, James

Question accordingly negatived.

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