HC Deb 29 October 1984 vol 65 cc1111-21

. At the end of section 41 of the Sexual Offences Act 1956 (power to arrest in cases of soliciting by men) there shall be added the words "hut a constable may only do so in accordance with section 24 of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984."."

Read a Second time.

Mr. Alfred Dubs (Battersea)

I beg to move, as an amendment to the Lords amendment, after 'so', insert `when the offence is alleged to have been committed against someone other than a police officer and'. Attitudes to homosexuality in society have changed over recent years. In a survey carried out by the Harris research centre and published in The Observer in September people were asked whether they agreed or disagreed with the statement that Homosexuality is more tolerated by society nowadays than it used to be Eighty-four per cent. of all respondents agreed with that statement.

Therefore, it is surprising to reflect upon the lengthy debate in Committee on the question of entrapment and the conduct of the police in seeking to arrest people on charges to do with homosexuality in public lavatories and other places.

The Opposition received assurances from the Minister in Committee that the police would be asked to ease off in those activities. Those activities were not trivial and gave rise to a great deal of concern. Let me give one example of a complaint that I received from a constituent. He was driving past Battersea park at the edge of which there is a public lavatory. There was nobody there and he went in. He left and went back to his motor car, having noticed that the trap door into the roof area was open. Two police officers in plain clothes pursued him and questioned his motives for entering the public lavatory. In his letter to me he concluded that they had been observing the public lavatory from above it in the roof area to which the trap door was open.

Members of the Committee quoted many other examples and they asked whether the police had any sensible reasons for devoting so much of their time to keeping public lavatories under surveillance. The Minister gave us a number of assurances during those discussions. I can only mention in passing the raid on the Gay's the Word bookshop which served to give people the impression that there was an attempt to harass people of homosexual inclinations.

An additional serious arrestable offence was added to schedule 5 earlier—that being indecent assault which constitutes an act of gross indecency. Whatever individuals may think about that offence, I must say that it is surprising to me that it has been put on a par with murder, manslaughter, rape, kidnapping and other extremely serious matters in the definition of a serious arrestable offence. Hon. Members will be aware that that definition is important because it triggers off much greater police powers. It is a pattern of the Bill that when a serious arrestable offence is committed much greater powers are given to the police. Therefore, it is a matter of some importance.

Amendment No. 347 deals with the powers of arrest. The amendment was added in the other place to include the Sexual Offences Act 1956 in relation to the power to arrest in the case of soliciting by men. We have to consider that amendment this evening. But that amendment also refers to the provisions of clause 24, which is concerned with the general grounds for arrest. Clause 24(5), which deals with offences against public decency states: Nothing … authorises the arrest of a person for an offence against public decency unless the conduct for which the constable proposes to arrest him takes place in circumstances where members of the public going about their normal business cannot reasonably be expected to avoid the person being arrested. Much depends upon the phrase

members of the public going about their normal business". It is not clear—perhaps the Minister will elucidate—whether that includes not just public lavatories, which I presume it may, but pubs, private clubs and similar premises. Will the Minister also explain whether the provisions can apply where there are no members of the public going about their normal business and it is only conceivable that they may do so? The case for amendment (a) rests largely on doubts about clause 25(5).

If our amendment is not accepted, it is possible that, as happened in the recent homosexual club incident involving an hon. Member who was, thankfully, acquitted, an offence may be alleged to have been committed against a police officer and no independent person will be able to corroborate what happened.

To put it bluntly, police officers have been acting as agents provocateurs. Not for nothing are the police described as "Our boys in blue jeans." Matters are serious if police officers not only spy on what happens in public lavatories, but go into homosexual clubs, dressed hike members of those clubs, with the sole aim of entrapping people into doing something that leads to a criminal charge. If the police had not been present, there would have been no offence, because there would have been no other victims. That sort of activity is a dubious one for the police to engage in, especially when people are subsequently charged and no one but a police officer appears as a witness or victim.

If police officers go to clubs to make sure that nothing improper is happening, it might be better for them to go in uniform and act as a deterrent to any conduct that they thought might be taking place. As it is, police officers not only wear civilian clothes but frequently dress in such a way that they appear to be members of those clubs. it is not right that police officers should be asked to do such work. I believe that most policemen find it distasteful; I cannot imagine that they enjoy it. They would prefer to be doing the sort of policing for which they joined the force.

Amendment (a) would bring pressure on police officers and those who send them on such jobs not to entrap homosexual men, whether in clubs or public lavatories. The amendment also provides that there must be a victim —an ordinary member of the public against whom an offence is alleged to have beeen committed. That is crucial.

Those in the homosexual community believe that the police are conducting a vendetta against them. The many incidents that have been made public provide adequate justification for the widespread support of that view.

Most of our constituents would prefer the police to be catching burglars, reducing street crime, catching bank robbers and so on. The more that police officers are diverted from protecting ordinary citizens in their homes and on the streets, the more disquiet there will be about the activities to which I have referred. I wish that the police would say bluntly, "We do not intend to go into the business of entrapment. We intend to take action only when there are victims." That is the purpose of our amendment, and I hope that I have commended it to the House.

11.45 pm
Mr. Eldon Griffiths

After my remarks in the previous debate, I now have the opportunity to close ranks, support the Government on their amendment and advise them to reject the Opposition amendment to their amendment.

No police officer regards the duty described by the hon. Member for Battersea (Mr. Dubs) with anything other than distaste. The police want no part of this peculiarly nasty business. But they have to respond to pressures from the public. One of the principal reasons why police officers sometimes keep watch on public lavatories is that the parents of local children become alarmed about what they believe may be happening. Sometimes children are molested. When that happens, the fears and anxieties of parents are great.

When complaints are made the police have no choice. They must do what they can to try to prevent molestation. I do not suggest that the natural action of homosexual males is to molest children. There is a distinction. Unfortunately, the public do not take as enlightened a view as the hon. Member for Battersea. Sometimes real fears and anxieties are transmitted to the police station. The police are expected by parents to do something about them.

The Lords amendment is just about right. It honours undertakings made in Committee. The amendment to the amendment was moved persuasively. But it is sad that the Bill should end up in a public lavatory.

The Police Federation is now restored to its general good standing in the House. It advises me that the amendment to the amendment is defective in that it would mean that if a police officer were solicited and made the object of a sexual assault at any time or anywhere, he would be incapable of taking any action against the offender. That is the technical consequence of the Opposition amendment.

Mr. Kaufman

Surely a great, strapping police officer would have the recourse of thumping the offender.

Mr. Griffiths

The right hon. Gentleman, not for the first time, is endorsing violence. I do not think that he intends that. Self-defence is a recourse, but we are dealing with the law. The advice that I have is that the Opposition amendment would lead to absurdity because no police officer would have a defence if he were the object of such molestation. On that ground alone, the amendment to the amendment should not be approved.

Mr. Chris Smith (Islington, South and Finsbury)

I support the amendment to the Lords amendment. On 14 May we debated at length and effectively the whole issue of entrapment and methods used by the Metropolitan police, particularly in the Earls Court area, to trap gay men into committing offences. We had a long reply from the Under-Secretary who ruled out the amendment then proposed. Unfortunately, the House also rejected it. The Under-Secretary was wrong to do that, and the amendment now before us gives him the opportunity to put that matter right.

The speech that the Under-Secretary made at that time contained two important points. One has already been mentioned by the hon. Member for Bury St. Edmunds (Mr. Griffiths)—that the justification for the appointment of plain clothes officers was the general complaint from residents about the nature of an area. There was no attempt, as there should have been, to encourage a visible patrol by officers in uniform. Instead, police officers were deployed in plain, often provocative, clothes to ensure arrests. The deployment of plain clothes policemen, whether or not any action is taken to incite an offence, is a form of agent provocateur. That is not good policing.

Amendment (a) states that the offence is committed only if a member of the public is involved, and not simply a police officer. That was the point of principle upon which the Under-Secretary rested his case in May.

There was also a point about administrative concern. The Under-Secretary gave the House a commitment. He told us of the guidance notes that the Home Office issued to the Metropolitan police. He said in correspondence that no member of the police force should counsel, incite or procure the commission of a criminal offence. That is the guidance given by the Home office to the Metropolitan police. He said also that he and the Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis were considering amending the commissioner's own notes and instructions to his officers. I have subsequently pressed that point in correspondence with Ministers at the Home Office. I find that the commissioner's instructions are not available to individual hon. Members. However, the commitment made to me was that the Home Office had put to the commissioner that the principle of not counselling, inciting or procuring a criminal offence needed restating in the section of his general orders that deals with plain clothes operations. Therefore, the only commitment is that the commissioner will simply restate the notes of guidance in the instructions to his officers. I do not regard that as sufficient.

Even though those guidance notes are issued from the Home Office to the commissioner, despite the broad debate in the House and the fact that the Under-Secretary made it crystal clear that the incitement of an offence by a police officer was not acceptable to him or the Government, the practice of entrapment in the Earl's Court area has continued. That should cause the House great anxiety, because it is clear that the wishes of the House and the Government, as expressed in that debate, have not been carried out in view of the policing operations which have occurred since then. On the practical level, I believe that the commitments made to the House then and the actions taken by the Home Office since have been insufficient to deal with the problem which was acknowledged at the time of the debate as being unacceptable to us.

I urge the Government not to dismiss amendment (a) out of hand, but to study carefully what is still happening in London; to study the effect of entrapment techniques upon members of the gay community in London; and to respond to the genuine fears of members of the gay community, some of whom are constituents of mine, who are extremely worried about what is happening.

The gay community feels itself under attack by what is happening— entrapment, the raid on Gay's The Word bookshop, and the raids on gay clubs and pubs in London. In the debate in May, the Government made it clear that entrapment, incitement and agent provocateurism were unacceptable. They gave us those "in principle" commitments. By putting forward this amendment we are asking that the Government put their legislation where their mouth is and enshrine in the law the principle that, where such an offence is committed, it must be committed against a member of the public and not solely against a member of the police force, whether or not he is directly inciting an offence. That is the simple way to replace confidence in the way that the police operate, and for the Government to honour the commitment they made in May.

Mr. Wallace

My right hon. and hon. Friends support the amendment. One of the provisions of an amendment that I moved on Report was to remove from the criminal law those incidents where only the police had been involved—where there was no victim of the crime in the normal understanding of the word "victim". I made the point that while the police were using manpower and resources pursuing and prosecuting crimes without a victim, there were many crimes where there were genuine victims of muggings, thefts and burglaries where the police were not using their manpower properly. They would have been far better occupied chasing up some of those crimes.

Since moving that amendment I have received many letters of support from all parts of the country. On many occasions they related to people who had been prosecuted and were the "victims"; what happened to them afterwards with the disruption or breakdown of their family and business life; and incidents where no one other than a police officer was involved.

Two letters were about innocent members of the public who, as one person said, went to a public convenience for the usual purpose and who received a rude awakening from a policeman, and who was worried that if he had given a wrong look he may have ended on a criminal charge. The expressions,in the letters that I received were of the support that exists among the general public for the view that the police should not be wasting time on such exercises. The amendment is a limited attempt to curb the powers of arrest. For those reasons it has the support of my right hon. and hon. Friends.

12 midnight

Mr. Maclennan

I need not detain the House, because most of the arguments have been made. I hope, however, that the Minister will take the opportunity of the debate to say what developments there may have been since we last discussed the matter. I shall be especially interested to know whether the Metropolitan commissioner has issued new guidelines and in what terms. I have also received a substantial number of letters which suggest that considerable police resources must be being deployed on entrapment of the type that we are discussing.

It is becoming clear that the consensual view of the House is that it is a gross misuse of police forces to impose this task upon them. The hon. Member for Bury St. Edmunds (Mr. Griffiths) said that the police had to respond to pressure from parents and others in the community who complained about what was happening in public lavatories. But we all know that those are by no means the only circumstances in which activities take place. There are clubs, pubs and other places where homosexuals resort and where there can be very little question of anyone else being offended by what goes on there, because other members of the public do not go there.

This is of particular importance in the Metropolitan area. I have received more letters from people in the metropolis than anywhere else. Forces there appear to be depleted. London's police have to cope with all the problems associated with terrorism and the protection of diplomats, high and rising rates of crime, and, in addition, they are being sent all round the country to deal with picketing problems.

I hope that the Minister will also take the opportunity to say by how much the Metropolitan police are under establishment and by how much they are under strain as a result of these additional tasks. It is a gross misuse of police establishments to allow officers to be deployed in the way that the amendment seeks to change. I hope that by what they say tonight the Government will show that they intend to act strongly to discourage the present practice.

Mr. Mellor

I am glad to have an opportunity to respond to the debate. I should perhaps say at the outset that I shall be advising the House to agree with Lords amendment No. 347, which is a drafting amendment abolishing the specific power of arrest by a constable in respect of section 32 of the Sexual Offences Act 1956, dealing with soliciting by men, but leaving the offence subject to the general arrest conditions provided by clause 24.

For the reasons given already by my hon. Friend the Member for Bury St. Edmunds (Mr. Griffiths), I am afraid that I cannot commend the Opposition amendment. That would mean that the police would be left with no remedy in cases which might arise where officers were themselves the complainants in cases of importuning.

I am not prepared to say, any more than I was when we debated the matter last time, that there are not circumstances in which it is perfectly proper for a police officer to be on watch outside or even inside a public lavatory or in other locations where there have been public complaints and where the officer might well be the victim of an approach which can properly lead to criminal proceedings.

It is important to note that at the moment section 32 of the 1956 Act is subject to an automatic power of arrest. We shall be modifying and reducing the powers of arrest if the House accepts Lords amendment No. 347.

About the necessity for the law, I can only say that when the Criminal Law Revision Committee had occasion to consider sexual offences, as it did recently, it had drawn to its attention the controversy about police activities in relation to section 32, and, in a footnote to its report, it said: We have not thought it part of our function to advise how, or when, police officers should keep observation for the purpose of detecting the commission of this offence. In our opinion this should be left to the decision of senior police officers. The methods used are likely to depend, so it seems to us, upon where, and the circumstances in which, offences are suspected of being committed. Offences may be detected by police officers in plain clothes whilst investigating other and more serious offences. Police officers must not, of course, act as 'agents provocateurs'. While the police are reluctant to undertake the distasteful and time-consuming task of obtaining evidence on charges of homosexual soliciting, the Metropolitan Police evidence to us shows that when they do so they are responding to very strong pressure from local residents and others. I submit that if there is a complaint in a neighbourhood that a public lavatory or some other public facility has become notorious so that, people are legitimately concerned about public nuisances going on there, and particularly about the effect on minors, it is perfectly proper for the police to take an interest. It would be wrong if the message sent out by the House to the community was that people were not entitled to be troubled by such things.

I should say, for the avoidance of doubt, that the laws that relate to the creation of public nuisance, potentially —and actually in some cases—leading to breaches of the peace, are not confined to homosexual activity. In fact, section 32 of the 1956 Act can apply to heterosexual acts. The case of Dodd in 1977 established that the soliciting of two 14-year old girls was an offence under the Act. I do not think that it was the same Dod who produced the worthy manual on which we rely so much in the House.

A good deal of concern has been occasioned by manifestations of kerb-crawling is some parts of London and other cities. That is why the Government are minded to accept the recommendations of the Criminal Law Revision Committee that there should be changes in the law, again on the same public nuisance grounds, to make the solicitation of women by men from motor cars, or the putting of the women concerned in fear, a criminal offence. We hope that progress will be made on that in the next Session.

Mr. Chris Smith


Mr. Mellor

If the hon. Gentleman will contain his enthusiasm for a moment, I intend to answer the points that he raised.

It is important that the debate should not proceed on the assumption that it is in any sense motivated by an animus on the part of either the Government or the police against homosexuals. It relates to a legitimate concern in the community about public nuisances that can be of a hetrosexual as well as a homosexual nature.

Mr. Smith

Will the Under-Secretary tell the House whether it is a more effective deterrent to such activity in a neighbourhood, lavatory or wherever, to have police officers patrolling visibly in uniform, or to have plain clothes officers stationed in the vicinity endeavouring—or not endeavouring — to entice the behaviour about which he is concerned?

Mr. Mellor

I say, with respect to the hon. Gentleman, that that point is central to the debate and is such that even I could not miss it. I was about to come to it and did not need to be prompted by the hon. Gentleman.

Mr. Smith

One never knows.

Mr. Mellor

One never knows, but the hon. Gentleman should give me the benefit of the doubt after 59 sittings of the Committee. I shall come to that point, which is important. However, perhaps I can do so in my time, and not be prompted by the hon. Gentleman. I wanted to prepare the ground with a little more care.

The question of the power of arrest, which is what the debate is about, is bound up with the question of whether the law should exist and the way in which it is to be enforced. We are not dealing with the existence of the law. In due course we shall have to consider the Criminal Law Revision Committee's report in toto. That body looked with care at the issue and made several imaginative suggestions for change, but I believe that it is necessary to retain section 32 much as it is at present.

On enforcement, there is all the difference in the world between that which results in proper policing — first putting people on notice that the area is the subject of police attention by putting in officers in uniform—and actions which cross the line and become those of agents provocateurs. I should make it very clear that the enunciation that I made on behalf of the Government in May very much stands and has indeed had effect, as I hope and intend to show.

With regard to the arrangements to which the hon. Member for Islington, South and Finsbury (Mr. Smith) has referred, I am sure that this would be in accordance with best practice. Indeed, in a recent radio interview, the commander of B division, which includes the very relevant area of Earls Court, made clear his view that when complaints are received it is important that uniformed officers should go in initially and that only if their presence fails to deal with the problem should plain clothes officers be used. Although, in the nature of things, plain clothes officers blend in with the community in which they are operating, it is important that this should not extend to some of the lengths that have been described. We attach considerable importance to that and have some progress to report.

The Home Office guidelines have always made it clear that behaving as agents provocateurs is not permitted for members of the police force. The guidelines put it in quite bald terms: No member of a police force and no public informant should counsel or procure the commission of a crime. The 1928 Royal Commission made it clear that an agent provocateur is 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 have been discussing with the Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis how those very clear guidelines can be translated into more effective practice so that we do not continue to hear allegations, whether true or not, of police officers going into pubs and clubs wearing jeans with slits in interesting places. The consequence has been that a change in the Metropolitan police force orders was recently promulgated. In deference to the hon. Member for Islington South, and Finsbury and others, I will read it to the House. It is an amendment to the section dealing with plain clothes duties, forming a new sub-paragraph (2) after a sub-paragraph (1) which deals generally with such duties. It reads: Officers selected for these duties must be briefed by a senior officer to ensure that they avoid behaviour which could give rise to legitimate accusations that they had acted as agents provocateurs. The term agent provocateur was defined by the Royal Commission on Police Powers in 1928 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". The way in which we imagine that this will operate in the future is that plain clothes operations on male importuning within the Metropolitan police area should be authorised at area district assistant commissioner level and no lower. Only experienced officers should be involved, and they should be instructed upon the need for circumspection in the manner in which the investigation is carried out. [Interruption.] I am sorry that the hon. Member for East Lothian (Mr. Home Robertson), who so often seems to want to turn these matters into low farce, should seek to distract the attention of his hon. Friend the Member for Islington South, and Finsbury, whose points I am seeking to answer. I hope that the hon. Member for Islington South, and Finsbury will not allow himself to be distracted by any agent provocateur, as I believe that my comments are worth listening to, at least by those who posed the questions in the first place.

We envisage that only experienced officers should be used and that they should be instructed on the need for circumspection in carrying out difficult duties. In general, no one should be arrested solely on account of behaviour towards police officers although, if the offence is particularly flagrant, arrest may be necessary. Persons importuned who are not members of the police force should be asked to give their names and addresses and every effort should be made to persuade them to attend court. If they refuse to do so, a note should be made of the fact that the request was made.

In other words, every effort will — and, indeed, should—be made to ensure that such investigations are carried out in accordance with what I believe are strict guidelines and rules of practice which, if honoured, should lead to a diminution in the number of complaints. I agree with the hon. Member for Caithness and Sunderland (Mr. Maclennan) that one cannot imagine circumstances in which such matters would be a top priority, but I believe that there are occasions when it is perfectly proper for a senior police officer to take the view that such an exercise is necessary.

12.15 am

If the guidelines and rules of practice are followed, cases in which an officer who is importuned is the complainant will be very much the exception. Where such cases are brought, every effort will be made to ensure that ordinary members of the public are there to give evidence in order to ensure beyond peradventure that there is a legitimate public interest in the enforcement of the law in that area.

Ms. Clare Short


Mr. Mellor

The hon. Lady, perfectly properly, says "if." I had to concede in May, and I concede now, that what happens on the ground is a matter for the conscience of individual officers, the vigilance of their superiors, and the effective operation of complaints and disciplinary procedures where there is any evidence of a breach. However, there is evidence of an improvement in the situation. I can give the figures for Earls Court. They may contradict what the hon. Member for Islington, South and Finsbury said in his speech. If he has evidence of recent problems, I hope that he will let us have it.

In B district of the Metropolitan police area, which includes Earls Court, the figures for importuning show that in 1982 there were 117 such arrests, in 1983 there were 65 and in 1984, for the two thirds of the year until August, there were 12. The figures seem to be moving in a direction which those who have properly made their points tonight would welcome.

Progress is being made in this area. I ask the House to accept amendment No. 347 and to reject the Opposition amendment, even though it has been an extremely convenient and appropriate peg on which to hang the debate.

Mr. Kaufman

The debate has been worthwhile, and so was our tabling of the amendment, because we have elicited a statement from the Parliamentary Under-Secretary, and because it is only when we debate such matters in the House and draw the attention of the public to the strong feelings held about them here that pressure from the House results in action such as we have heard about. That is why we will continue to press this issue in the hope of obtaining a more permanent amelioration.

Hon. Gentlemen talk about complaints from the public — the hon. Member for Bury St. Edmunds (Mr. Griffiths) did so again this evening — but the public complain about other matters, too. At my advice bureau in Gorton Labour club a few weeks ago a woman came to see me whose face was a mass of appalling bruises. She had been attacked and beaten up by a man who had tried to rape her. She told me that there were many such incidents in her area. I immediately communicated with the chief constable about the situation, and I hope that action will be taken to protect women in that area.

Such offences are serious. Women who are beaten up and assaulted really suffer. They are the victims of crime. What we dealt with in May, are dealing with now and will continue to debate is the question of victimless crime. That is what these statutory offences are.

First, it is pointless to remove from the statute book legislation that persecutes certain sexual preferences and then in practice to persecute those who exercise those preferences. Secondly, in view of the shortage of police manpower and the enormous increase in crime, especially violent crime, crimes with victims should be pursued and the victimless crimes should be dealt with less persistently.

Because of the case that came to light earlier this year and was completed a few days ago which involved an hon. Member who suffered as a result of being dragged through the courts — only he and those close to him can understand how much he suffered—we have held this continuous debate and the public have been given an opportunity to express revulsion at police activities that result in such cases. In many of them, there is no doubt that the police dress themselves deliberately to entice. The Minister can say that when the police engage in plain clothes activities they try to blend in with the community, but, as he said, for a policeman to enter an environment such as that, dressed in a manner which he must have known would be provocative, and then to feel that his manliness has been impugned—although it is now clear that the alleged offence did not take place—is to stretch hypocrisy to its limits. What is in the mind of a person such as that to dress like that and go into a gay club? As my hon. Friend the Member for Islington, South and Finsbury (Mr. Smith) and the Minister said., a policeman dressed in a uniform will stop anything that the police want to stop. The uniform is the deterrent.

When the Minister quoted some cases as examples of the need for our amendment to be rejected, he did not do himself justice as action against the cases that he cited would not be damaged by our amendment. Assaults, interference with 14-year-old girls and even kerb crawling could be dealt with if our amendment were accepted. It would not damage the upholding of law and order as it is understood by millions of people. We are considering the power of arrest. We are asking what we asked when the issue was debated in Committee months ago. Why is arrest necessary in these circumstances? The caution is all that is required. A caution by a uniformed policeman would have all of the deterrent effect required.

The debate and our tabling of the amendment have been worthwhile because we have elicited the Minister's statement. In the debate on the Scarman amendment, which the House wisely upheld, we had a declaration of intent by the Government which the House decided to transform into a statutory provision. The Minister has made a statement of intent. I do not doubt his sincerity, but it is our profound belief that, for all his good intentions and for all the progress that has been made, that statement will not be acceptable or effect what it is required to effect until it also is transformed into a statutory provision. We say clearly and unequivocally that a change in the law is needed. We shall continue to press for that change, and I believe that within a measurable period of time we shall attain it. I hope that the Government will take the view speedily that that change in the law is required and that they will co-operate with us in enacting it.

My constituents, like those of all hon. Members, want law and order to be maintained. They want to be safe in their homes, neighbourhoods and districts. The distasteful manifestations to which we keep having to refer when we raise the issue do nothing to maintain law and order. They place the police in positions in which they are derided by members of the public. In the recent case there must have been derision against the police constable by millions of working people when they read in newspapers about his activities and his garb. Therefore, we shall continue to press the issue, even if we cannot succeed in our case tonight.

Question put and negatived.

Lords amendments Nos. 347 and 348 agreed to.

Lords amendment: No. 349, in page 111, line 13, at end insert—