HC Deb 13 January 1986 vol 89 cc792-869

Order for Second Reading read.

4·34 pm
Mr. Speaker

Before I call the Secretary of State, I should tell the House that I have selected the amendment in the name of the Leader of the Opposition.

The Secretary of State for the Home Department (Mr. Douglas Hurd)

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

I must start with the principle that underlies the Bill. Public order is the fundamental social good. It is a principle of which we were reminded several times during 1985. We shall hear much today and in the debates to come about human rights and freedoms, and rightly so. But let us not forget that the right to go about one's lawful occasions in peace is the underlying human right without which all others are nugatory.

Quiet streets and a peaceful framework for our individual lives can never be taken for granted. For short periods of our history it seemed that public order was established for ever. Other periods, such as the first decade of this century, on which we may look back wistfully, included plenty of public violence. The threat to public order comes in different shapes at different times. That means that the measures needed to safeguard public order and protect the public must be re-examined from time to time. It is half a century since Parliament set itself to that task, and society and its habits have changed radically. It is not unreasonable that the Public Order Act 1936 should be followed by a Public Order Act 1986.

Change must be steadily and carefully considered, and panic and anger are bad guides to this. That is true of all legislation, but especially of Home Office legislation, and even more especially of public order legislation. I make it clear that the Bill was not cobbled together in hasty reaction to last autumn's riots. That is self-evident from its content, and everyone who has followed the proposals knows that their ancestry is older than that and different. When rioting of the sort described in the Metropolitan police report in today's newspapers breaks out, the problem confronting the police is not a shortage of legal powers, but one of enforcement. As I shall try to show, the Bill does not detract from our traditional philosophy of policing, which is based on the principles of policing by co-operation with the public and the minimum use of force. The police are anxious to maintain that tradition, and so am I.

Part I is drawn largely from the English Law Commission's report published in 1983. We agree with' he commission that public order offences should be clearly stated in modern language, and part I revises and codifies the common law offences in England and Wales. No change is made to the common law in Scotland, where the Scottish Law Commission is still considering the law on mobbing and rioting.

In England and Wales, the common law offences are replaced by new statutory offences of riot, violent disorder and affray. Clause 1 defines the new offence of riot, which will be committed when 12 or more people use or threaten violence to achieve a common purpose. Only those using violence will be guilty of the offence. The White Paper suggested a maximum penalty of 10 years' imprisonment for this offence. However, it is the most serious public order offence, and we have provided a maximum penalty of life imprisonment. It does now have a maximum penalty of life for an offence drawn rather more loosely than we propose. On balance, we decided to propose the retention of the present maximum sentence of life imprisonment for the new offence, which will be more strictly defined and which will have a higher threshold.

Clause 2 creates the offence of violent disorder to replace the existing offence of unlawful assembly, with a maximum penalty on indictment of five years' imprisonment or an unlimited fine. Violent disorder will be used in the future as the normal charge for serious outbreaks of public disorder.

Clause 3 largely restates the existing common law offence of affray, with minor changes. I shall not dwell on that. However, I should dwell on clause 5, because the new offence of disorderly conduct has proved controversial in some quarters and is likely to remain so.

The proposal in clause 5 will penalise behaviour which is not itself violent but which is threatening, abusive, insulting or disorderly, and —I emphasise the word "and"—is likely to cause alarm, harassment or distress.

The right hon. Member for Manchester, Gorton (Mr. Kaufman) at one time welcomed such an offence in principle. I can understand why. Right hon. and hon. Members who represent inner cities know how many of their constituents suffer from the mischiefs of hooliganism.

The new offence is aimed at protecting those in our communities who are most vulnerable to loutish and abusive behaviour—particularly the elderly and people from the ethnic minorities. Many hon. Members will be only too familiar with the type of behaviour to which I refer. It casts a blight upon an area, whether it be a shopping precinct or a city housing estate, and makes the lives of people living there fearful and miserable. People are frightened to open their own front doors. They are kept awake by rowdy behaviour late at night. Ethnic minority families are victimised with racialist slogans and abuse. Gangs of hooligans make some pedestrian and shopping areas places where ordinary people fear to go. There cannot be many right hon. and hon. Members who do not have examples in their postbags and at their surgeries.

Mr. Harry Cohen (Leyton)

The Secretary of State rightly refers to ethnic minorities being the victims of racial harassment. Why have the Government not taken the opportunity of the Bill to make racial harassment a specific criminal offence?

Mr. Hurd

If the hon. Gentleman examines the events which constitute racial attacks he will find that they are offences anyway. It seems better to encourage the police in London and elsewhere to take the matter seriously, to issue new guidelines and to let the offence be treated as it is, seriously, with a racial connotation, but within the existing definition of offences. That is better than to single out an offence as the hon. Member for Leyton (Mr. Cohen) suggests.

Clause 5 takes account of the many helpful comments that we received when we asked for suggestions on how the new offence of disorderly conduct should be defined. First, we have abandoned the requirement of proof of actual alarm, harassment or distress. That would have required the victim to give evidence in court. Several bodies represented strongly to us that the more vulnerable victims were most unlikely to be prepared to face their persecutors in case things went wrong and the persecution became worse.

Mr. Robert Maclennan (Caithness and Sutherland)

This is the single most important departure from the White Paper. Who made the representations? How does the Secretary of State answer the argument that he set out so clearly in paragraph 3.26 of the White Paper, which makes it clear that safeguards are required?

Mr. Hurd

We have said throughout that the clause would be difficult to draw. My predecessor set out fairly and clearly in the White Paper the arguments for and against this offence and the considerations in drawing it. Those who commented on the reluctance of victims to go to court to give evidence included the police, the Magistrates' Association, the Association of Metropolitan Authorities, the Society of Prosecuting Solicitors and a number of individuals. When I came to office and considered the Bill, I thought that the case was strongly made out.

We have also dropped the requirement that the alarm, harassment or distress be substantial, in response to criticism that this would present the court with an impossible measurement task. We have introduced a limited power of arrest, which will apply only if a defendant fails to desist from disorderly conduct after a police warning, and we have raised the maximum fine to £400.

Those are the principal changes that we have made since the White Paper foreshadowed this offence. The offence has not been easy to draft. We know what we are aiming at and we do not intend to lose that purpose, but we are certainly open to suggestions on drafting.

Mr. Gerald Kaufman (Manchester, Gorton)

Paragraph 3.26 of the White paper is clear. It says: Any degree of annoyance or disturbance will not suffice. At what stage did the Home Secretary decide that Any degree of annoyance or disturbance would suffice when his predecessor had said that so categorically?

Mr. Hurd

I decided after studying the representations and arguments. The right hon. Member for Gorton is referring to the "substantial" argument—a different point. Setting the courts the task of measuring is unreasonable. However the right hon. Member is entitled to argue his case in Committee.

The response to the White Paper convinced us that we must act to provide the police with more effective powers to protect the public against hooligan behaviour. But we have no desire to use the criminal law to enforce a particular social standard or to worsen relations between young people and the police. This is a law against hooliganism, not against high spirits. It is carefully drafted to avoid the risks of reviving a sus law. Before the right hon. Member for Gorton shakes his head too definitively, I ask him to follow the argument. I hope that we have avoided the risk of reviving a sus law by requiring that the person committing the acts must know or have reasonable cause to believe that his behaviour is likely to cause alarm, harassment or distress. It is the concept of alarm, harassment or distress which distinguishes what we now propose from the old sus law. Let us look carefully at the drafting, but I hope that before any right hon. or hon. Member opposes the clause he will reflect for a minute on the fear and unhappiness that hooliganism inflicts on so many of our fellow citizens. We believe that we have the job of finding a remedy.

Mr. Douglas Hogg (Grantham)

I note that the Home Secretary is anxious to avoid this part of the Bill being abused. He will appreciate that the Bill as drafted enables a constable to arrest without warrant in the event of the conduct being repeated after warning. Would it not be a good idea for the power to arrest to arise only if the constable has given warning that an arrest will follow if the offender does not desist from his conduct?

Mr. Hurd

I should like to consider whether that is practicable. It points in the direction in which I wanted to move when considering whether there should be a power of arrest at all. Some people believe that there should not be such a power and others say that the Bill would be pointless without it. I shall consider my hon. Friend's suggestion.

Mr. William Cash (Stafford)

I have corresponded with my right hon. Friend about riots. Will he consider proposing that a warning he given in advance of action by the police?

Mr. Hurd

My hon. Friend has put that suggestion to me and it has been considered. My hon. Friend might have the opportunity to argue his case but we do not believe that his proposal is likely to be practicable in real life. One of the difficulties is that people might be caught up in a riot but not have committed an offence. If it were an offence to be present after the equivalent of the Riot Act had been read, a person might become caught up. For the moment, we do not think that my hon. Friend's suggestion should find a place in the Bill.

Part II of the Bill deals with processions and assemblies. It establishes a new legal framework for the holding of processions, demonstrations and assemblies, building on the framework already provided by the Public Order Act 1936. We want to ensure that the right to protest, to march and to picket peacefully is regulated only to the extent necessary to preserve order and to protect the rights of others. We have therefore concentrated on trying to ensure that the law provides the police with adequate powers to prevent and deal with violence and disorder, while freedom of speech and the right to protest continue to be safeguarded.

Clause 11 deals with advance notice and sets out a new national requirement for the organisers of marches to give seven days' notice to the police. The requirement exists already in Scotland and there are advance notice requirements in local legislation in parts of England and Wales. Lord Scarman and the Select Committee both supported a requirement of advance notice, which would enable discussions between the organisers of marches and the police to take place in good time. The vast majority of march organisers already give notice to the police, and we think it absurd that the police should have to rely on chance and rumour to learn about marches that are organised by a minority of irresponsible groups, which could give rise to violence on the streets and serious disorder.

In March 1985, the Metropolitan police learnt about a proposed National Front march in Greenwich only as a result of leaflets left at a London railway station, yet the march and opposition to it posed a sufficient threat to public order that the police had eventually to seek consent to a ban.

Mr. David Winnick (Walsall, North)

I take the Home Secretary's point about National Front marches, and I accept, as I am sure my hon. Friends do, that there are certain problems. However, does he recognise that his proposals will cause a great deal of concern to genuine demonstrators? We are living in a democratic country and we must bear in mind always that people have a right to demonstrate on the spur of the moment as strikes develop, for example. Another example is when residents feel strongly that something should be done immediately on their behalf. Therefore, the provisions in the Bill could undermine important and basic democratic rights.

Mr. Hurd

I direct the hon. Gentleman's attention to clause 11(4). We believe that we have provided there for exactly the sort of case that he has in mind. There is a specific relaxation of the requirement for marches called at short notice because of some emergency. The hon. Gentleman thought of one example, and another is when a dramatic event abroad suddenly blows up, against which some people want to protest.

Clause 12 widens the existing powers of the police that are contained in section 3 of the Public Order Act 1936 to impose conditions on marches. At present, the sole ground for imposing conditions is to prevent serious public disorder. We propose to add three new tests—the need to prevent serious damage to property, serious disruption of the life of the community, and the intimidation of others. The second test—serious disruption of the life of the community—was proposed by the Select Committee. I shall not repeat the way in which it described vividly the sort of disruption that can be caused by marches. We believe that the police should have the power to re-route a march to limit the resulting congestion of traffic, to prevent a bridge being blocked, for example, or to stop a city centre being brought to a standstill.

The third test of intimidation is a libertarian safeguard that will prevent demonstrations being used by those whose real purpose is to intimidate and coerce and not to persuade. The National Front provides examples. The provision that we propose would enable National Front marches in suitable instances to be routed away from racially sensitive areas.

I should stress that the new tests will not enable the police to ban a procession. The power to ban marches does not rest with the police. That power remains unchanged and it is re-enacted in clause 13. Nor are the new powers open-ended. The police will be able to impose conditions only if they reasonably apprehend serious disorder, damage, disruption or intimidation. As now—this is crucial—any decision by the police to impose conditions will be subject to judicial review.

Mr. Alex Carlile (Montgomery)

The Home Secretary has spoken about tests and referred to clause 11(4), which provides that the full period of notice will not be required when it is not "reasonably practicable" to give it. Does he not recognise that the application of the tests could be purely arbitrary and that the provisions of clause 11(4) are likely in some instances to be completely ineffective unless there is some immediate and available way of testing the merits of a decision that has been made? Does he agree that judicial review is not a way of testing the merits of a decision? Does he not accept that the Government should provide that those wishing to hold a procession or assembly should be able to apply to the local county court or to a Crown court judge for a review of the decision made by the police?

Mr. Hurd

I think that judicial review has proved itself effective. It provides a means of dealing speedily with matters of the sort that we are discussing. That is why we inserted "reasonable" in clauses 12 and 14, especially. I shall consider what the hon. and learned Gentleman says about clause 11(4). However, if someone goes ahead and does not give clear notice, he might expect to have to argue the matter before the courts and persuade them that he was covered by clause 11(4). It would not be too late because he would not have given notice.

Mr. Peter Bruinvels (Leicester, East)

Is my right hon. Friend aware that nearly two years ago in Leicester there was a possibility of three different marches taking place in the city on the same day, directed mainly to getting the troops out of Northern Ireland? The council made it clear that it would not apply for the Home Secretary to grant a banning order, even though the Chief Constable appeared to want one. What is my right hon. Friend's advice to chief constables when local authorities refuse to grant such applications on political grounds?

Mr. Hurd

My hon. Friend is tempting me on to ground that I do not intend to cover with the Bill. As I have said, I do not think that we should change the arrangements by which it is the responsibility of councils, outside London, to take a decision on a ban. I am aware of the difficulties that arise occasionally but it should remain a matter of local persuasion.

I shall try to deal with the provisions of clause 14 in full before giving way to further interventions. The clause breaks new ground by conferring upon the police certain preventive powers in relation to open-air assemblies. These powers fall short of those in relation to marches which I have been describing. There will be no requirement of advance notice and there will be no power to ban. The clause introduces a new power to impose conditions. Assemblies and static demonstrations may just as often be the occasion of public disorder as marches and the Government believe that it is unacceptable for gatherings, such as those at Greenham common, or the mass pickets of the miners' strike, to be outside the framework of controls. The clause therefore confers on the police powers to impose conditions on open-air assemblies to prevent, on the same three tests I have mentioned, serious disorder, serious disruption or intimidation.

We stopped short of a power to ban because we believed that that would be an excessive limit on the right of assembly and freedom of speech. For this reason, clause 14 does not permit the police to impose conditions changing the date and time of an assembly. They will be able only to impose conditions limiting its size, location or duration. As with clause 12, any decision by the police to impose conditions will be subject to judicial review. Where a rally threatens serious public disorder, the police will in future be able to relocate it. Where, as in the Stop the City campaign, the demonstrators set out deliberately to be obstructive, the police would have the power to take preventive action. Where pickets obstruct deliberately, or try to, the passage of those going to work, as they did at Grunwick's and Warrington and during the miners' strike, the police would be able to limit their numbers or move them further away from the workers' path.

There is an important point, which has not been grasped fully. As we know from experience during the miners' strike, the police have already substantial powers under the common law to remove people who are threatening a breach of the peace. These existing powers enable the police to take action when trouble is imminent or when it has begun. It seems sensible to us that they should have a preventive power that will enable them to negotiate reasonable ground rules that would prevent trouble happening at all. If the police were to try to impose unjustified conditions, that could be challenged by way of judicial review. As the House will see, the right of peaceful picketing will not be infringed.

Mr. Kaufman

It will.

Mr. Hurd

It will, but it depends on what the right hon. Gentleman thinks is the purpose of picketing. Pickets whose purpose is peacefully to dissuade or communicate information will not be touched by the new measure because this picketing will not be disorderly, disruptive or coercive. But where the purpose of picketing is physically to obstruct or to intimidate rather than to persuade, it is right that the police should have preventive powers.

Mr. David Ashby (Leicestershire, North-West)

This clause has a lot to do with the miners' picketing of last year. Is there anything in this Bill that assists with the evidential aspect of the offences that were committed at that time? The problem that arose out of the miners' picketing was the great difficulty in bringing people, who had clearly committed offences, successfully to trial due to evidential difficulties. Is there anything in this Bill that will assist?

Mr. Hurd

I hope when my hon. Friend studies in depth the new definitions of riot and violent disorder he will find that they have been tightened. Areas of uncertainty have been cleared up. We have made it more difficult to obtain a conviction for riot because we have tightened up the definition of that offence. I hope that when my hon. Friend looks at part I as a whole, he will see a tidier framework, which should remove some of the present uncertainties.

Mr. D. E. Thomas (Meirionnydd Nant Conwy)

The Secretary of State spoke earlier of the right of protest and demonstration. Does he not accept that clause 14 means that the right of assembly is now to be defined in its formal context by the police? This is a major change to existing legislation.

Mr. Hurd

Where the police have reasonable grounds—I am sure that the hon. Gentleman knows more about the law than I do and he will know the importance of the word "reasonable"—the court can make a test. When the police have reasonable grounds for supposing that there would be serious disorder, serious disruption or intimidation, they can impose conditions which are subject to judicial review. That is the nub of the change that we are proposing.

Part II applies in Scotland, except for clause 11 and clause 13. Scotland has a separate regulatory structure for the control of marches and certain minor changes to the structure are made by the amendments to the Civic Government (Scotland) Act 1982 in schedule 2.

Mr. John Mark Taylor (Solihull)

I am most grateful to my right hon. Friend for giving way. He has dealt most tolerantly with so many interventions. Will my right hon. Friend turn his mind to the anxiety of many people about gatherings and so-called festivals at archaeological sites and ancient monuments? At an appropriate stage, will my right hon. Friend consider amendments to part II to assist the police to deal with these matters?

Mr. Hurd

Such amendments will be considered, as I know that many hon. Members feel strongly about this. My hon. Friend the Minister will deal with this in the winding-up speech.

I will not dwell on part III, which deals with racial hatred and provides additional protection against incitement to racial hatred. I hope that the provisions will be acceptable to the House.

Mr. Tony Marlow (Northampton, North)

Will the Secretary of State comment on part III?

Mr. Hurd

I am prepared to say a great deal, but in the interests of brevity I will leave it to my hon. Friend to find other ways of making his point.

Part IV consists mainly of measures against football hooliganism. Last summer, with the help of all parties, we passed an Act to control the sale and possession of alcohol at football matches. We now propose to introduce an exclusion order scheme, which will enable the courts to ban convicted hooligans from attending football matches. The purpose of this scheme is to exclude the troublemakers and especially the ringleaders who instigate much of the violence. Anyone found guilty of a football-related offence may be subject to an exclusion order and any breach of that order would be a further offence for which he could be sent to prison. It has been said, since we published the Bill, that exclusion orders will be hard to enforce without membership cards. Certainly I hope that the scheme will stimulate the clubs to make greater speed on membership cards. It is a powerful scheme, even without membership cards. An offender who has an exclusion order added to his sentence will have his photograph taken. He will know that photographs are circulated and he will also know that, more likely than not, there will be closed-circuit television on any ground he is tempted to visit. This knowledge will be a powerful deterrent against his defying the order.

The exclusion order scheme will not apply in Scotland but the further measures against football hooliganism in schedule 1 will apply there as in England and Wales. There will be a new offence of possessing a smoke bomb at a football match, as recommended by Mr. Justice Popplewell in his interim report. In the light of experience and protest, mini-buses are brought within the scope of the alcohol ban which applies at present to coaches and trains.

Mr. John Carlisle (Luton, North)

I am grateful to my right hon. Friend for giving way and I shall be brief. Most of the football industry will welcome this clause. Can the Secretary of State clear up two points? Will those people who are excluded because of violence during a game or on the approach to a game be subject to the law in other forms? The Bill talks about certain football matches—I think the words are "the football ground concerned". What about other grounds? Will offenders be excluded from grounds other than those where the offence took place?

Mr. Hurd

It is not a substitute for other penalties or other sentences. It would be for the court to decide the scope, both in terms of the geography and duration of an exclusion order.

Sir John Farr (Harborough)

Photography has attracted a great deal of interest. Can my right hon. Friend comment on the possibility of adding fingerprinting to clause 30 as well as photography? Will my right hon. Friend seek to take some action relating to the hooligans' passport when an exclusion order has been served? These are the people who behave badly in Britain and then go abroad and besmirch our name at soccer matches on the continent.

Mr. Hurd

I am prepared to think about the second point. Photography is crucial. It would not be possible to take people's fingerprints at football grounds. Photographs can be circulated and there is an increasing use of closed-circuit television. I will consider what my hon. Friend said, though I consider that the circulation of photographs will probably be the effective technique.

Mr. Merlyn Rees (Morley and Leeds, South)

I understand that parts of this Bill include some of the recommendations of Popplewell part one. I understand that Popplewell part two—the final report—is expected shortly. Will its recommendations be absorbed in this Bill at a later stage or will there be separate piece of legislation?

Mr. Hurd

I hope to make a statement about Mr. Justice Popplewell's final report possibly later this week. Much of his report deals with matters that do not fall within the scope of this Bill.

It is 50 years since the Public Order Act 1936 was passed. It has stood the test of time pretty well, but the events of recent years have confirmed the need to update the framework of public order law to ensure that it is strong enough to protect the public in 1986 and hereafter. We have tested each proposal in the Bill against that standard. In Standing Committee, if the Bill gets a Second Reading, the House will repeat those tests—quite rightly, that is what Standing Committee is for. Some will speak, quite naturally, as they have begun to do from the Opposition Benches, this afternoon, for those who define liberty in terms of the right to march, picket and demonstrate, to go unhindered to a football match, to do what they like on housing estates and in shopping precincts without police interference.

Mr. Kaufman


Mr. Hurd

Well, we shall judge what happens in debate. We have to balance those rights, which are understandably of concern, against the rights of the public to be protected from disorder, destruction, intimidation and hooliganism. We shall listen carefully to suggestions that might improve the balance that we have tried to strike. I hope that, like its predecessors, the present team of Home Office Ministers has a reputation for constructive listening.

Before the discussion of detail gets under way, can I leave the House with just one thought? The Government do not believe that there is any intrinsic merit in piling up fresh powers for the police. The police need their powers, not for their own satisfaction or aggrandisement, but to protect the public more effectively. This is a Bill for the better protection of the public. I am certain that the public stand four square behind that argument. In no respect is it more important than in public order. I commend the Bill to the House.

5.9 pm

Mr. Gerald Kaufman (Manchester, Gorton)

I beg to move, to leave out from "That" to the end of the Question, and to add instead thereof, this House declines to give a Second Reading to a Bill which, at a time when serious crime has increased by 40 per cent. under this Government and the crime clear-up rate has markedly declined, contains no proposals which are likely to be effective in preventing disorder, while diverting scarce police resources from fighting crime and at the same time seriously undermining traditional civil liberties. This debate takes place against a background of a crime wave which continues to be the most alarming that the country has experienced in modern times, and the collapse of the Government's policy on law and order. The newly published volume of "Social Trends" documents that 3.5 million serious crimes are now committed in Britain each year—nearly 1 million a year more than when the Government came to office. In urban areas, the crime increase in places such as greater Manchester and south Yorkshire is more than twice the national average. "Social Trends" confirms that, over the nation as a whole, little more than one third of those crimes are being cleared up—a reduction from 42 per cent. when the Government came to office.

Fear of crime has now become a plague, casting a grim shadow across Britain. No fewer than 12 per cent. of all inner-city residents say that they never go out alone at night because of crime. More than 60 per cent. of women living in inner cities feel at least somewhat unsafe and 60 per cent. of those aged over 60 say that they feel very unsafe.

Against that background of soaring crime and a serious decline in proportionate police success in combating it, the pressure on overstretched police forces grows ever greater and more oppressive. Chief constables and police authorities in many parts of the country document those severe problems that seriously hamper their strenuous efforts to combat crime.

Three months ago, the greater Manchester police authority sent a plea to the Home Secretary, documenting the cuts that it might have to make, including a stop on recruitment entailing a fall in police numbers and closure of some police stations. It said that increased insurance costs alone, consequent upon the abolition of the greater Manchester council, will cost the force £700,000. Although the Home Secretary has partially increased the greater Manchester police authority's determination, he has still not met its full needs, yet he claims that his response to such requests will be based on need.

The district auditor recently completed an inquiry into the west midlands police authority. His conclusions included the verdict that that force suffers from insufficient resources for operational policing. He reports: Several senior officers told my staff that their sole objective is to get through the day without a major catastrophe. The district auditor declared: The manpower available for operational policing is often frighteningly low. The chief constable of the west midlands, Mr. Geoffrey Dear, says in his report on the Handsworth riots: currently we are training all personnel in relation to the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984. Such commitments inevitably reduce the uniformed control capacity. The Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis, Sir Kenneth Newman, forecast a few weeks ago another huge increase in crime in London. He warned that, without extra manpower, some burglaries would not even be investigated—that when, in London, the clear-up rate for burglary is only 10 per cent. Today's press reports the estimates submitted by Sir Kenneth to the Home Office and comments that they do not provide even half of the manpower increase that Sir Kenneth says that he needs.

The Government are so ashamed of their response to the financial requests of the police that they have done their best to confuse and mislead Parliament by throwing up a smokescreen around the true figures. Last month, in the House, the Home Secretary, obediently followed by the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, tried to imply that the Government are planning an increase in finance for the police in real terms for the next financial year. The operation was renewed with a planted story in The Times only last week. However, on the most favourable estimates, the Government are planning a reduction in expenditure on the police in real terms this year.

A study of the fine print of ministerial answers shows that the Government's claims of an increase are based on a comparison of this year's budget with that of next year. The problem for the Government is that the pressure on the police this year has caused them to spend £101 million more than their budget. The Home Secretary tried to imply last month that the increase is due to expenditure on police overtime during the miners' strike. When I asked him, the Minister of State admitted to me that the Government had no idea of the cost of police overtime during the miners' strike and that their estimate of all special payments in connection with that dispute is about £9 million—only a small fraction of the £101 million overspent.

If the previous Home Secretary had tried to deceive the House with such manipulation of statistics, I would have accused him of deliberate sharp practice. The present Home Secretary being what he is, all I say is that he has got himself into a muddle. It is unquestionable, however, that the only realistic way in which to compare expenditure levels is to set one year's expenditure, when it is known or can be estimated, against the next year's plans. Such a comparison shows clearly whether there is to be an increase or a decrease. To base comparisons on spending plans that have been exceeded is financial chicanery.

If Mr. Roberts, the Grantham grocer, had based his accounting not on what he spent but on the smaller sum to which he would have liked to limit himself, Mr. Roberts would never have been awarded an alderman's robe, let alone be able to lay it down with honour, as he would have been an undischarged bankrupt at the time.

On the Government's present inflation estimates, they are budgeting for an expenditure reduction of 0.75 per cent. on the police next year. On today's inflation rate, the reduction is 1.8 per cent. Far from doing their best to ease the burdens of the police, in this Session the Government are legislating to increase them. The Shops Bill is before the House of Lords at the moment. Mr. Andrew Mackinlay, the excellent and enterprising prospective Labour candidate for Peterborough, recently wrote to the Association of Chief Police Officers asking about the expected effect on the police of the Sunday opening of shops. I have here the reply that he received from the honorary secretary of the Association of Chief Police Officers, Mr Brian Hayes, the chief constable of Surrey. About the deregulation of Sunday shopping, Mr Hayes says: Traffic … police presence on Sundays might need to be increased and the current practice of minimum manning would need to be re-assessed. Parking regulations would require major revision to incorporate Sundays, as many existing regulations do not apply after 6.30 pm on Saturdays. The increased restrictions would then need to be enforced.

Mr. Nicholas Lyell (Mid-Bedfordshire)

Will the right hon. Gentleman give way?

Mr. Kaufman

No. May I conclude this quotation from a very respected chief constable? About the potential increase in crime as a result of the deregulation of Sunday shopping, Mr. Hayes says: Longer opening hours would provide increased opportunities for persons, particularly juveniles, to commit offences of theft, and there could be an increased risk to shop staff, especially females, who are required to take cash to the bank or to travel home during the hours of darkness. There is also a possibility of an increase in offences of public disorder, criminal damage and violence if late night shoppers come into contact with early evening drinkers. In summing up, the chief constable of Surrey said: It would be difficult to be more precise on the matter of cost, but if Saturdays are any yardstick, we should not underestimate the possible difficulties.

Mr. Lyell

Before the right hon. Gentleman drags away this smelly red herring, will he tell the House what he estimates it would cost local authorities if they set out to enforce the present law on Sunday trading?

Mr. Kaufman

The hon. and learned Member for Mid-Bedfordshire (Mr. Lyell) must follow the creditable example of the future Labour Member for Peterborough and write to the secretary of the Association of Chief Police Officers. What the hon. and learned Gentleman describes as a smelly red herring is, in fact, a letter from the secretary of that respected body. I would bet that if I had quoted from him something derogatory about the miners, the hon. and learned Gentleman would have cheered.

Mr. Hurd

Does the right hon. Member for Manchester, Gorton (Mr. Kaufman) not expect to be called when the House debates the Shops Bill?

Mr. Kaufman

I do not know. After what has happened in the Cabinet, there may be other changes in the House. Who can tell?

If the chief constable of Surrey is correct, the Shops Bill may even increase the number of disturbances with which the Public Order Bill claims to deal.

Public order offences are only a tiny fraction of the crimes committed in Britain each year. Despite the costs caused by their ugly destructiveness, the financial costs to the economy of disorder and rioting—as distinct from the grave, human and social costs,—are small compared to the cost to the nation of financial fraud which is estimated to exceed £3 billion a year. Yet despite the Financial Services Bill, which the House is to debate tomorrow, the Government are taking little more than token action in dealing with fraud, compared with this extremely heavy-handed Bill.

On 20 December the Financial Secretary to the Treasury admitted to my hon. Friend the Member for Hammersmith (Mr. Soley) that criminal prosecutions are undertaken in only a small number of fraud cases. On Saturday The Times gave the excuse: The cost of trials, an average of £500,000 in such complex City cases, makes the Department of Public Prosecutions or the tax authorities reluctant to press cases unless they can safely predict conviction on serious charges. Such considerations of cost and difficulty did not deter the public order trials connected with the miners' strike. One Orgreave trial cost £500,000 and a trial in Nottinghamshire cost £1.5 million. In total, the estimated cost of trials arising from the miners' strike is said to be millions of pounds and all, without exception, ended in ignominious defeat for the prosecution.

The Government's approach to such offences 7eveals a great deal about their real definition of law and order which they apply very differently in a socially and discriminatory way to working people on the one hand arid to City swindlers on the other.

There is great public concern about disorder and riots because such crimes are the most visible of all. They are catapulted into our living rooms by the vividness of television. The nation would welcome firm and effective action to prevent such disorders, provided that such action is compatible with civil liberties. The Opposition would support such action.

Although the Bill is stuffed with new offences and penalties, there is no evidence that it would have the tiniest effect in preventing disorder. I have read press accounts today of the Metropolitan police report on the Broadwater Farm disorders. Having studied the accounts I have no reason to doubt the veracity of that inquiry. Yet it cannot be denied that if this Bill had been an Act at the time of the Broadwater Farm riot, not one event described in the Metropolitan police report would have been prevented and the riot would have proceeded as scheduled. Even people like Mrs. Donna Kiffin, who warned the police several days in advance that such a disturbance was in the offing, could not have influenced the outcome.

It is unlikely that, if the Bill had been in force, there would have been more arrests for public order offences at Broadwater Farm. Another official inquiry prepared by Chief Constable Dear into the Handsworth disorders revealed that only a small proportion of the offences with which people were charged after the disturbance were public order offences—48 out of 355. All the Bill will do, at best, is to create new offences for which people involved in riots can be arrested. However, the evidence shows that sufficient offences are already available to the police and that the courts can already impose heavy sentences, as happened with the recent life sentence on a football hooligan.

At best, the Bill is innocuous and in some ways even comic. At worst, it will impose unnecessary new burdens on our sorely pressed police forces, will invade civil liberties and create new tensions between the police and the public at a time when it is essential that relationships between the police and the public should be strengthened and improved.

Before the Christmas recess, the Opposition assisted and expedited legislation giving powers to ban alcohol from football grounds. In so far as that legislation has been successful, the Opposition are glad that they did so. But the Opposition are still waiting to hear about the Government's success in their other objectives. In April the Government called upon the football authorities to report within six weeks on a practical scheme of membership cards. Nine months later no progress has been made and a group of northern football clubs which I met a few weeks ago assures me that such a scheme continues to be impractical, whatever the Home Secretary has said this afternoon.

The Government asked the football authorities in April to accelerate the introduction of closed-circuit television. The Home Secretary seems to have little idea of what is happening, as he said on BBC radio on 6 December: closed-circuit television is now becoming quite usual in football grounds. Yet the Minister responsible for sport told me six days after the Home Secretary's categorical statement that only 27 grounds in the football league and the Scottish football league have closed-circuit television systems. That is a mere 21 per cent. of the total, yet the Home Secretary has said that closed-circuit television is an adjunct of the other proposals in the Bill. On that basis, the Bill can have no helpful effect on 80 per cent. of football grounds.

In place of the Government priorities which now seem to have been abandoned, the Bill contains two new proposals. One is the creation of exclusion orders by which football hooligans will be banned from matches. In principle, the Opposition see no objection to that. We are baffled, however, about how that will work. The police organisations with which my hon. Friend the Member for Hammersmith and I have discussed the matter are just as baffled. No one has the slightest idea of how the orders are to be enforced or what will happen if an excluded person turns up at a ground from which he has been banned. The Home Secretary seems to say that such a person would be photographed. The clause dealing with photography is one of the most obscure clauses that I have ever seen.

Clause 30 empowers a court to make an order that a person subject to an exclusion order should be photographed. However, the Bill does not state what will be done with the photographs. When the Bill was published, I had meetings with the Police Federation and the Association of Chief Police Officers. At each of those meetings with some of the most distinguished police officers in the country, we sat round the table, with cold towels figuratively round our heads, trying to puzzle out the implications of the photography clause. We agreed that a direct consequence would be an encouraging increase in the sales of the magazine Amateur Photographer. We were equally agreed that that could not be the Government's entire objective. We mused upon the possibility that the photographs could be pasted into albums and that police officers could while away long winter nights turning the pages and admiring these mugshots.

We were sure that it would be impracticable for such photographs to festoon the turnstiles of football grounds, with stewards comparing, one by one, the faces of customers in the queue with these pin-up pictures. It would be impossible to imagine any situation more likely to provoke a riot rather than keep out a rioter. So we must take it that clause 30 is the Home Secretary's little joke.

Mr. John Carlisle

The right hon. Gentleman is giving a graphic description of what could happen and those of us involved in the football industry have some sympathy with what he says. However, will he accept the point made by my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary, which was that there would be a deterrent effect on those photographed after committing a violent offence inside or outside a ground? In the same way, there is a deterrent effect in the curfew orders in the Criminal Justice Act 1982. That is partly what this Bill is about. If it deters offenders from going to grounds, it will have gone some way to remedy this awful problem.

Mr. Kaufman

If I thought that the act of photography would turn a hooligan into a law-abiding citizen, I would advocate the mass sale of cameras. In "A Clockwork Orange" the gentleman was tamed by listening to Beethoven. Perhaps we should try that solution if the photography does not work.

Mr. Tony Lloyd (Stretford)

The people who would recognise those who had been excluded from football grounds, but subsequently got into the grounds, are their colleagues at those grounds. They would quickly realise that the provision was almost unenforceable and it would come into contempt.

Mr. Kaufman

I accept what my hon. Friend says, which implies that they would gain entry to football grounds; exclusion orders are designed to prevent that.

Let us look at other parts of the Bill that are far from a joke and, indeed, have the most serious implications, for example, clause 10. I hope that the Home Secretary will follow this, because the implications of what I have to say are serious.

Following the Handsworth riots in October, I asked the Home Secretary what action could be taken to speed up the payment of compensation under the Riot (Damages) Act 1886 and to expand the scope of that Act to take account of loss of income after riots. The Home Secretary gave me assurances that those issues were being considered. Indeed, he said that he shared my desire that the 1886 Act should be implemented in such a way as to bring as effective and prompt relief as possible.

However, far from assisting with such matters of great importance to innocent citizens who have suffered great material damage, the Bill ensures that in future very few people, if any, will be compensated under the 1886 Act. That is because the new offence of violent disorder will largely replace the old offence of riot. That is the view of ACPO and of the Home Office, which stated in its press release on the publication of the Bill: Riot … will be the least commonly used public order offence, reserved only for very serious cases and the Home Secretary confirmed that view today. Yet far from reassuring us that this grave charge will be sparingly used, the Home Secretary's assertion is worrying, because clause 10 confines eligibility for compensation under the 1886 Act and the Merchant Shipping Act 1894 to those affected by clause 1—the riot clause—which creates the new offence of riot which is rarely to be used.

It is unacceptable that those suffering material loss to their livelihood as a result of disorders should be deprived of compensation by the Government's juggling and manipulating the law in this way. We shall insist that the Bill be amended to remove that unjust treatment.

Both the new offence of riot and the other new offences of violent disorder and affray are defined far too widely, in a manner which goes against previous Government assurances and against the authoritative views of others.

In proposing the new offence of riot, the Law Commission stated that the offence should deal with persons using or threatening violence such as would cause a person of reasonable firmness present at the scene to fear for his personal safety. Paragraph 3.17 of the White Paper said that the Government agreed with the Law Commission's proposed statutory definition. In proposing the new offence of violent disorder, the Law Commission defined it in relation again to a person of reasonable firmness present at the scene". Again, the White Paper stated: The Government is content to accept the Law Commission's proposed statutory definition. The same proposal and the same criterion apply to the new offence of affray. Yet for each of these new offences, the Bill, in clauses 1, 2 and 3, negates the Law Commission's proviso by the subsection which states: No person of reasonable firmness need actually be, or be likely to be, present at the scene. That dilution of necessary safeguards in the creation of the new offences, each of which carries substantial penalties, is all the more disturbing in view of the judgment of the House of Lords in the Kamare case, in which the present Lord Chancellor participated. The judgment stated: The essential requisite was the presence or likely presence of innocent third parties not participating in the illegal activities in question; it was the danger to their security which constituted the threat to public peace and the public element necessary for the commission of the offence. Nowhere are the protections more glaringly absent than in the Bill's version of the new offence of disorderly conduct. When the White Paper was published in May, I welcomed its proposal for the new offence. As an inner city Member of Parliament I am daily made aware of the misery caused to defenceless people—often pensioners, often women—by loutish conduct that goes far beyond boisterous high spirits. The Home Secretary has taken to quoting my welcome of what the White Paper said as some sort of endorsement. I only wish that he would require my endorsement of everything he does and that when I give my endorsement he would do what I endorse.

I should still welcome the creation, with appropriate safeguards, of such a new offence as was described in the White Paper. However, I have to say that clause 5 creates a new offence which has not the slightest chance of accomplishing what I advocate and what the White Paper proposed. Instead, it is fraught with the most serious dangers by its breadth of scope and lack of clarity.

Moreover, clause 5 seriously departs from specific commitments contained in the White Paper, which said of the proposed offence of disorderly conduct: The Government recognises that there would be justifiable objections to a wide extension of the criminal law which might catch conduct not deserving of criminal sanctions. The White Paper went on: For this reason, the offence contains the safeguard that the behaviour must actually cause someone to feel alarmed, harassed or distressed (not that it is merely likely to do so). Yet the Bill scraps what the White Paper says is a necessary safeguard and specifically lays down that an offence is committed if behaviour or the use of words is likely to harass, alarm or distress another person. That was repudiated by the White Paper.

Again, the White Paper insisted, in italics, that the victim—as the White Paper called her or him—should have suffered substantial alarm, harassment or distress. The Bill does not contain the word "substantial". Yet again, the White Paper proposed what it called a sufficient maximum penalty of £100. The Bill provides for a £400 penalty.

The Home Secretary seems to misunderstand what he is proposing. On the day of the publication of the Bill, he claimed on "The World At One" that the new offence of disorderly conduct would cover the kind of hooliganism where a group rushes up and down outside a block of flats terrorising people who live inside without actually causing a breach of the peace. That is precisely what the Bill will not do.

First, the new offence does not require a victim, as was required in the White Paper. Secondly, the provision that the person charged is committing an offence only if he ignores a warning by the police is a complete fantasy. Can anyone imagine a gang harassing an old person on a housing estate, on hearing that the police had been called, deciding to wait until they arrived, wait to be warned and then persist in their behaviour? They would have run off long ago.

The Government, quite rightly, have included in the Bill a requirement for a police warning before arrest—

Mr. Douglas Hogg

Before charge.

Mr. Kaufman

Yes, before charge.

Mr. Hogg


Mr. Kaufman

I accept the hon. Gentleman's point, even before he makes it. I apologise for my error.

The police are well aware that the offence is so widely drawn that it could be used at whim. That is a power that the police do not want, as the chief constable of Essex, on behalf of the Association of Chief Police Officers, told me in a letter stating: We are anxious to see a balanced approach which gives police adequate powers to maintain public order but does not lose the British police its reputation for restraint and impartiality.

Mr. Ken Weetch (Ipswich)

Clause 5 is somewhat controversial. I have experienced a large number of complaints about loutish behaviour in shopping precincts in Ipswich. I have attended meetings with residents, shopkeepers and the police, who want to do something about the problem. However, they cannot do anything about such behaviour because it must relate to specific incidents, which they do not observe happening.

I would appreciate a strong lead from my right hon. Friend. Is he rejecting the clause in principle, or does he believe that the principle is worthy but the clause needs substantial amendment in Committee?

Mr. Kaufman

I am saying what I said when the White Paper was published last May. From my experience in my constituency, which is similar to my hon. Friend's experience, I know of the profound concern felt by those subjected to loutish behaviour that frightens them, but with which the police cannot deal under the present law. That is why I immediately welcomed the proposal in the White Paper. This clause will not deal with that sort of behaviour—

Mr. Ivan Lawrence (Burton)

Why not?

Mr. Kaufman

I was about to explain why not. Clause 5(5) requires a person to be warned by a constable arid then to persist in his behaviour before an arrest without warrant can take place. Let us take the example of old ladies who are regularly harassed. It is inconceivable that the louts would hang around for the arrival of the police, wait for a warning from a police officer and then meekly accept arrest. That is why I describe the clause as a fantasy. The behaviour to which my hon. Friend the Member for Ipswich (Mr. Weetch) and I object, and which we want dealt with in the Bill, will not be caught by the clause.

If the Government could draft a clause that effectively dealt with the sort of complaints that so many hon. Members have experienced, I would, as I said nine months ago, look upon it with great favour. The problem is that the Government, after nine months, have found it impossible to draft such a clause. The clause that they have drafted fails to deal with the sort of behaviour that concerns my hon. Friend and myself, while creating an offence that has grave implications—not for those with whom we are trying to deal, but for other people. That is why I cannot accept the clause. If the Government put forward amendments in Committee to deal with such behaviour, clearly I should be prepared to consider them.

The offence in the clause will provide no protection for the vulnerable about whom I am primarily concerned, but will create circumstances in which the police will have the power to pick up anyone they choose of whose behaviour they disapprove. The Times, on 7 December, warned that the offence was extremely broad in its potential application and that police application of it will require tough monitoring if the old 'sus' problems are not to recur. The Daily Telegraph leading article on 9 December described the disorderly conduct offence as "questionable", and went on to say: Parliament will have to ensure tight drafting to deter police excesses reminiscent of 'sus' and to prevent those who merely give vent to boisterous high spirits from obtaining criminal convictions. I endorse those words. Unless appropriate amendments are tabled, the Opposition will oppose the clause.

Even more dangerous are the proposed limitations on the right to peaceful assembly, whether marches or open-air gatherings. Again, the Daily Telegraph rightly warned: The controversial new powers to impose conditions on the size, location and duration of demonstrations will clearly require sensitive policing if they are not to undermine freedom of assembly. We object to the length of notice that will be required for marches and processions. The Bill provides for six clear days, while the Select Committee on Home Affairs recommended three days and the Association of County Councils said that 36 hours would be adequate. Ministers may point to Scottish legislation, which lays down a seven-day period, but there is a major difference between the Civic Government (Scotland) Act 1982 and this Bill. The Scottish Act provides that notice should be given to a local authority—the Regional Islands council. This Bill requires that notice is given to the police.

It is one thing for a decision about a march to be in the hands of a democratically-elected body, but another to force on to the police responsibility for imposing conditions that rest on political judgments. That is unfair to the police. Moreover, it is a role that the police simply do not want, as the chief constable of Essex has made clear.

Representatives of the Police Federation with whom I have discussed that point said: We do not want to have put into the hands of the police decisions which can be interpreted as political decisions. I fully concur with the statement of Mr. Leslie Curtis, the chairman of the Police Federation, who said: The police of Britain must not be seen either as Maggie Thatcher's boot boys or as a people's militia. The trouble is that the Bill goes a long way towards turning the reluctant and unwilling police into Maggie's boot boys.

The conditions in the Bill allow the police to impose on marches what can, in effect, amount to a ban by the police rather than by an elected authority. Of course, the police will use their discretion. They may, without conditions, allow a march by parents protesting against a road accident blackspot—but not one protesting against the arrival of cruise missiles. Indeed, the Home Secretary mentioned Greenham common in his speech. By doing that, inevitably they will be expressing a judgment on the merits of one against the other.

Moreover, if parents wish to demonstrate speedily and effectively, following an accident to one of their children, they will be able to do so only if the police agree to accept shorter notice. That limitation, based on value judgments that are inevitably subjective, is an unacceptable invasion of civil liberties.

Mr. Douglas Hogg


Mr. Kaufman

Perhaps the hon. Gentleman will allow me to proceed.

What applies to marches applies even more to peaceful open air assemblies, since the restrictions imposed in the Bill are unprecedented and, once again, can result in a de facto ban, although no banning power is contained in the Bill. The Government may claim that the new power of imposing conditions on open air meetings and gatherings can deal with disorder, for example, by providing powers to stop violence on a picket line, but, as the Home Secretary said, there are already ample powers to deal with violence and obstruction, whether on a picket line or elsewhere.

The Bill will give the police the power to limit peaceful picketing by small numbers of people. That the police may not necessarily use the power does not detract from its existence and, moreover, as there is no notice provision—we would completely oppose it—the power to impose conditions on assemblies is even more random and capricious than the limitations on marches. I cannot do better than quote a letter sent to the Home Secretary by the secretary of the Police Federation which, speaking of that power over assemblies, scornfully declares: It is ill conceived, totally impractical and entirely inappropriate to deal with the type of spontaneous disorder resulting from static demonstrations, pickets or football matches … we can see absolutely no merit in legislation that seeks to close a stable door after the horse has bolted and we suggest that this part of the White Paper has little or no merit from the point of view of practical application. That is said by the Police Federation.

That dangerous innovation has less merit from the point of view of our traditional civil liberties. It is significant that in stating the circumstances in which conditions can be applied to marches, the Bill adds to the present limited criterion of "serious public disorder" the alterntive criterion of serious disruption to the life of the community". It is significant that the "serious disruption" criterion can be applied also to open air meetings and gatherings. What is more, the Home Secretary has given an example of what that can mean. He referred to a demonstration outside Selfridges about South African oranges, and suggested that under the new powers the demonstration could be moved away from Selfridges. However, the whole point of such a demonstration is that it should take place at the point of grievance. By moving it away, the police would be making a political judgment. Moreover, they would be making an even greater and more fundamental judgment that the right to demonstrate is less important than the right to shop. It is a provision based on the view that demonstrations on matters of principle are not part of the life of the community. In a democracy, the right peacefully to state a point of view is at least as precious as the right to buy oranges, but the Bill tips the law against that right to state a point of view. The only defence for the Government is that at least they are consistent. The Prime Minister is ready to give to those attending open air meetings the same right of free expression as she gives to those attending Cabinet meetings.

Mr. Hurd

May I press the right hon. Gentleman—on the oranges rather than on the Cabinet? As he accurately said, the test is one of serious disruption. Is he saying that in his view there is no balance to be struck, and it would be reasonable for the demonstration that he said I gave as an example to disrupt Oxford street to such an extent that it was closed to shoppers in the weeks before Christmas? Would he think that that was carrying the right to demonstrate a little too far? Does he accept that there is a balance to be struck?

Mr. Kaufman

Of course, there is a balance to be struck, but it will not be struck by the provisions in the Bill because the police will define subjectively what "serious disruption" means. All that I say to the right hon. Gentleman is that there are powers already in the law to deal with the disturbance that he mentions. It was he who chose the example of Selfridges and the oranges. It was a good example because it shows that he regards shopping as more important than the right, in a democracy, of peaceful protest. If that is his point of view, it is as well that we should know that it is.

Apart from odd corners, this is in parts a silly Bill and in parts a pointless Bill, but above all it is a dangerous Bill. The Home Secretary talks of a Government strategy for dealing with crime but in fact the Government have no strategy for dealing with crime. It is likely that the main outcome of the crime prevention seminar at No. 10 last week, in so far as it has any result at all, is that burgled householders will find it even more difficult in future to get their insurance companies to pay up. The Police and Criminal Evidence Act, now coming substantially into force, imposes bureaucratic burdens that will reduce police effectiveness. The Public Order Bill will reduce further that effectiveness, through dragging substantial numbers of police away from fighting real crime to supervising and interfering with the rights of free peaceful assembly, and it will do so against the wishes of the police themselves.

What do police who have been involved in coping with disorder say about the underlying causes of that disorder? In his report on the Handsworth riots, Chief Constable Dear declared: I would never seek to minimise the problems of being young, black and unemployed in a decaying inner city environment. Black youths suffer particularly from the effects of prejudice, unemployment and scarce resources. These and other ills cannot be ignored and deserve to be addressed by society as a whole. There is not a word in the Bill, nor any other action by the Government, that addresses the ills that Chief Constable Dear says cannot be ignored.

Last month, Commander Alex Marnoch, who was in charge of Brixton at the time of last autumn's riots, and in whom the Home Secretary has such confidence that he is now being transferred and given responsibility for both the Palace of Westminster and Buckingham palace, slated: if unemployment continues to rise and the stabilising middle-aged black population continues its exodus to safer areas, further major disturbances will be inevitable". The article quoting Commander Marnoch stated: He called for fresh initiatives from the Government, the local council, and education, housing and social services departments. Commander Marnoch said: 'Unless there is an influx of extra jobs, or the population moves away, we are going to have serious problems.' Yet there is not a word in the Bill, nor any other action by the Government, designed to ward off the further major inevitable disturbances of which he warns. Indeed, last month's housing investment programme allocations for capital spending on housing are only 29 per cent. of the level when Labour left office. Last month's rate support grant settlement for the partnership authorities increases by £400 million to £2,600 million the amount of rate support grant that the partnership authorities have lost under the Government. Youth unemployment in Britain stands at 1,250,000, nearly three times what it was under Labour. Nearly half a million of those under 25 have been out of work for over a year.

While those scandalous facts persist, no legislation will have any hope of dealing with the dreadful disorders from which this country has suffered so grievously in recent years and months. At the end of his report on the Handsworth riots, Chief Constable Dear quoted these words: 'Utopia is not a republic of fraternity to be taken by violence. Neither can it be taken by men who have no vision of better things for mankind.' We in the Opposition reject the violence that is a curse upon the Britain whose values we cherish. We also reject the men and women who have no vision, the men and women who sit on the Government Front Bench. I call upon the House to vote for the amendment.

6 pm

Mr. Mark Carlisle (Warrington, South)

The right hon. Member for Manchester, Gorton (Mr. Kaufman) addressed the House for 49 minutes. For somewhat over half of that time we heard what might be looked upon as the right hon. Member's set speech on crime. It seemed to me to have precious little to do with the Bill that we are debating, although it may have a considerable amount to do with consolidating the right hon. Gentleman's position in his party. He spent the other half of that time making what seemed to me to be Committee points. With great respect, most of them were wrong, certainly as regards affray and clause 5. At no stage did the right hon. Gentleman give any reason for his announcement that the Opposition intend to divide the House against the Bill.

Before I turn to the Bill, upon which I intend to speak briefly, may I point out to the right hon. Gentleman that I am sure that a general debate on crime would be welcomed, but that is not what we are debating today. In answer to his set speech on crime, I would point out to him that today there are 13,000 more policemen than there were when his party was in office, and that we are spending a third more, in real terms, on the police than was spent at that time.

The right hon. Gentleman attacked my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Home Department and suggested that one ought not to talk about increases in proposed expenditure. He ought to talk to his right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition and to all his colleagues. From 1979 to 1982 they did nothing but attack the present Government. However, their attack was based on the figures of proposed expenditure, for instance, upon education. I was told, not that we were spending more, but that we were cutting what was being spent; not on the basis that we were spending less than had been spent in the year before, but on the basis that we were spending less than it had been proposed by the previous Government should be spent on education. Therefore, the Opposition must get their act together.

As for the right hon. Gentleman's dissertation on the Shops Bill, I appreciate that he likes to parade his intelligence before the House, but he took rather a long time to tell us that if shops were not open there would be no shoplifting! That point may be factually accurate, but it does not add to this debate. I turn, therefore, to the Bill that we are debating.

There are two principles upon which both sides of the House may be able to agree. First, the maintenance of public order—the right for people to be able to walk about freely and to pursue their lives without fear of attack and intimidation, and particularly without fear of attack from the mob—is a fundamental responsibility of the Government. Secondly, the traditional freedom to protest, march and demonstrate is an equally important right, as is the right peacefully to picket. Those rights must be preserved in a democratic society. However, while we preserve those rights, we must safeguard the rights of other people so that the right to protest peacefully is conducted without interference, violence, intimidation or threats, and without infringing the rights of other citizens. That balance, to which my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary referred this afternoon, is the balance that the Bill tries to assess.

I hope that the right hon. Member for Gorton will at least agree with me that we as a society are not being very successful about either of those issues. One has only to consider the degree of hooliganism and the riots in various areas of this country to realise that our society has not been very successful in maintaining order so that people can go about their lives without fear and intimidation. The scenes at the Warrington Messenger and during the miners' dispute show that we have not been successful in creating a balance between, on the one hand, the right to picket peacefully, and on the other the right not to be intimidated by threats. These are basic problems which the House should consider and which the Bill attempts to tackle.

The right hon. Gentleman is right when he says that the inadequacies of the existing law are not nearly so important in terms of controlling football hooliganism and maintaining public order as is the inability to enforce the existing law. I repeat, therefore, that it is far more relevant that now there are 13,000 more policemen than anything that the Bill can do. However, the fact that there are inadequacies and difficulties over enforcing the existing law does not mean that there are not certain areas of the law that are inadequate and need to be reformed. They have been identified by the Law Commission, by the Government and by Select Committee on Home Affairs, and they are referred to in the Bill. Despite what the right hon. Gentleman says, the Bill attempts to tackle the problems without the graphic widening of police powers that he suggests.

Many other hon. Members want to speak in this debate. I intend to deal with parts I and IV. I understand that part I follows the Law Commission's proposals. It is a sensible codification of the common law. With great respect to the right hon. Gentleman, I suggest that he should speak to his right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Aberavon (Mr. Morris) who is about to leave the Chamber. If he does so, I think he will find that he was wrong about the point that he made concerning affray. The law, as provided for in the Bill, on both riot and affray is consistent with the current law and the Law Commission's proposals. In any event, this is a Committee point. I may be wrong, but I am prepared to risk saying that I believe that I am right and that the law on affray at the moment is as is set out in the Bill.

As for clause 5, I agree with the right hon. Member for Gorton that there is room for argument about whether it is necessary to show that what was done was with the belief that it was likely to harass someone, or whether it is necessary to call witnesses to prove that someone has been harassed. But these are Committee points. There is genuine concern about a type of behaviour which causes alarm and harassment, but which is not dealt with at the moment. Again with respect to the right hon. Gentleman, his points on clause 5 were completely misconceived. He said that, because one cannot arrest a person without a warrant, it is similar to saying that one cannot proceed against him for that offence.

As for part II, the major part of the Bill, the background against which we have to consider it is the enormous increase in demonstrations and marches of all kinds in recent years. We are told that during the last 20 years there has been a fourfold increase in marches and demonstrations in London, and that during the last 10 years they have doubled. Demonstrations and marches take a great deal of police time and money. This has an enormous effect upon police morale. Saturday after Saturday and Sunday after Sunday large numbers of policemen are involved in policing demonstrations and marches. It is right, therefore, to examine whether the balance is right, or whether it can be varied to relieve the police of those problems.

The House ought to accept that "serious disorder" is not the only ground on which the police may impose conditions. The volume of traffic and the way in which people move around the country compared with 1936 makes serious disruption of the life of a community an equally fair test in deciding where the balance lies between the rights of the protester and the rights of the individual.

The Bill therefore needs to be tested against three questions. First, should those who organise marches have to give notice? Secondly, should there be a general power to impose conditions on the basis of serious disruption as well as serious disorder? Thirdly, should those conditions as a whole be applicable to static demonstrations as well as to marches? Any sensible assessment of those three questions leads to the answer, yes, there is a case for asking those who organise marches to give notice; yes, there is a case for imposing conditions affecting serious disruption as well as serious disorder; and yes, there is a case for imposing similar conditions on demonstrations.

Mr. Douglas Hogg


Mr. Carlisle

I hope that my hon. Friend will not mind if I do not give way. I am trying to make a short speech. I have almost finished, so it would be unfair to give way.

There may be arguments about whether seven days' notice is the right length, but again that is a Committee point. Many people have argued for the right to give notice to the police. The right hon. Gentleman says that he is worried about the additional pressures that will be put on the police, but surely it is better for the police to be informed in advance of marches and to be able to discuss informally with those organising them the routes to be taken to reduce the risk of disorder than to have the pressure of having to police at short notice marches over which the police have not been consulted.

Surely it is right that we should allow conditions to be imposed on the number, location and duration of demonstrations. The right hon. Gentleman says that that is an interference with the right to peaceful protest, but one must remember that those conditions can be imposed only where the police have reason to believe that there is likely to be serious disorder. Therefore, the right hon. Gentleman is saying that the conditions imposed by the police when they fear serious disorder are a direct attack not on the fundamental right to picket or to protest peacefully, but on the fundamental right, which does not exist, to cause serious disorder, damage and disruption to others. One cannot look at the power to impose the condition without looking at the basis on which it is made. Therefore, the right hon. Gentleman is wrong.

The right hon. Gentleman's amendment has three parts. First, it declines to give a Second Reading to the Bill because of the general increase in crime, which is irrelevant to the Bill. Secondly, it says that the Bill will not be effective in preventing disorder. Much of that is a matter of numbers rather than of the law. It goes on to say that the Bill will divert scarce police resources into this area. By requiring advance notice, by giving the power to impose conditions where the police believe disorder will occur, the Bill will not divert scarce police resources from other areas, but will in fact allow fewer people to be involved in policing demonstrations and more to be involved in other work. At the same time, the amendment says that the Bill seriously undermines traditional civil liberties. It is not civil liberties that are undermined by the Bill, only the abuse of civil liberties where those liberties are used in such a way as to intimidate or attack the rights of others.

6.11 pm
Mr. Michael Foot (Blaenau Gwent)

The right hon. and learned Member for Warrington, South (Mr. Carlisle) underlined how necessary it is to strike a balance between the need to protect public order and civil liberties. Of course, that is correct and all of us can accept that. But the Opposition's complaint—my right hon. Friend the Member for Manchester, Gorton (Mr. Kaufman) made it extremely effectively—is that almost every aspect of the Bill enlarges police powers and may diminish civil liberties while no measures are being taken to try to restore the balance. It is my right hon. Friend who is seeking to do that.

It is illustrative of the Government's attitude to these matters that the first Bill to be introduced since the Christmas recess, after all the experience that we have had over the past year or two, should be one that enlarges the power of the police, often without the police wishing to have their powers enlarged, and diminishes the rights of protest and does so in the face of much opinion—Liberal as well as Labour—throughout Britain. That is the major defect of the Bill which my right hon. Friend has so skilfully underlined.

The Home Secretary said that we must not act in panic or anger in dealing with such matters and I am sure that when he says that he means it. But some aspects of the Bill are undertaken and presented to the House in panic or anger, or at least as a result of panic and anger, as, for example, that which was felt in many quarters during the miners' strike. I remember vividly how panic and anger was pressed into the service of the Government on some of those occasions.

I remember the terrible night on which someone was killed when a boulder was pushed off a bridge in Wales just next door to my constituency. That was a tragic and terrible affair. I remember the panic in which the prosecution took place. I remember the charge of murder and the Prime Minister appearing on television that night and saying that it was murder. I remember the chief of police saying that it was murder. I remember the mood in my constituency at the time that those things happened and the mood in the court case that occurred soon after. I remember how the Director of Public Prosecutions, as some of us believed, went ahead with the prosecution in a mood of panic and anger, and how the jury, I am sorry to say, were also affected by panic and anger, as can happen.

But thanks to British justice—and all honour to those who did it—thanks to the Appeal Court and thanks to what happened when the matter was taken to the House of Lords, the charge of murder was changed to manslaughter, as it should have been from the beginning. That should he a lesson to us all. The fact that a person was killed was the worst part of the tragedy but the families concerned also suffered a terrible tragedy and I am glad to say that eventually the British courts upheld the proper sense of proportion. That is what we seek to maintain in the Bill and that is what my right hon. Friend was striving to sustain, and he did it extremely well.

Mr. Douglas Hogg

Is the right hon. Gentleman trying in some way to diminish the gravity of the offence committed by those who toppled a boulder over a bridge into a car?

Mr. Foot

I cannot understand why the hon. Gentleman should make that intervention when I have underlined exactly the opposite part of the case. Indeed, I said so at the time and I have said so on every occasion that I have referred to it. My hon. Friend the Member for Merthyr Tydfil and Rhymney (Mr. Rowlands) has referred to the same matter. We have never diminished the horror of that event, but that is not a reason for British courts to operate in an atmosphere of panic and anger. That is what I was saying. It is a great credit to the British judicial system that eventually the highest court in the land said that those of us who protested at the time were right and not some of those who joined the panic and anger. We should deal with all such matters as coolly as possible and not seek to exaggerate the dangers.

The Government have rushed ahead with establishing new penalties and crimes which interfere with the rights of protest. The new charge of disorderly conduct was criticised when it was proposed, not only by my right hon. Friend and the Labour party, although we criticised it strongly—not in the terms in which it was put in the White Paper, as my right hon. Friend has rightly said—and a fair judgment was made about that. According to The Times, there was a change. I do not know whether the accounts are correct. I know how reticent the Secretary of State has to be in revealing discussion in his Department but according to The Times his Department objected originally to the way in which the new charge of disorderly conduct was proposed. That may be a complete fiction on the part of The Times and may be dismissed, but I believe that many people in his Department rightly had anxieties about giving the police these powers which, in some instances, the police do not want. They may add to one of the many perils to our public order at present—the deepening division between the public and police in many areas. We must overcome that by Acts of Parliament, wisdom and a lack of panic and anger in dealing with such questions, including picketing.

It is rather suprising that the right hon. Gentleman said so much about picketing. He said that there has been no panic and anger but there has been a little action in panic and anger in proposing to deal with picketing under the Bill. The Bill does not say that it will deal with that at all. There is no reference in the decription of the Bill to dealing with picketing, and the name of the Secretary of State for Employment does not even appear in it. As far as I know, this is the first time that, in a Bill dealing with picketing, the Secretary of State for Employment has not had any say. We know that we have a peculiar Secretary of State for Employment in the other place, and one with other interests. A Bill to deal with picketing, its consequences and how the policing of it may be operated, has been introduced without any say by the Department of Employment in the matter. That means to say that the Government and the Home Secretary in particular did not make any effort to have any discussions with the trade unions about these provisions. It would have been more sensible if they had, because some of the parts of the Bill dealing with picketing will not be workable.

There are also major changes in the way that demonstrations can take place and are governed by police decisions. Again, the police do not necessarily want this power, but if they do, they are unwise. I believe that many policemen would prefer the process of decision-making to be similar to that in Scotland. There, matters are referred to the local authorities rather than the police, and we should consider extending that provision to this country. It is a great mistake in a Bill that generally enlarges the powers of the police at the same time greatly to interfere with the rights of demonstration. It puts the police into the position of having to judge which demonstrations are to be tolerated and allowed in particular circumstances.

The balance is against the Government. There was a good leading article in The Guardian when the Bill was published at the beginning of December and its conclusion still stands. It said: Overriding all these serious problems, however, are the bill's new powers for advance police control over meetings, assemblies and mass pickets. Let there be no mincing of words. These powers mean that the police will be able to decide whether crowds of every kind can gather. They will undoubtedly be used to stop strikers from picketing peacefully. They will undoubtedly be used to stop protesters from gathering outside the South African embassy. They will undoubtedly be used against people who gather at nuclear bases. They will make protesting citizens into licensed visitors to their own streets. Yet it need not be so, not if the bill contained a positive right to assemble and march. The last provision would require a balanced approach, but there is none in the Bill. The Government have not sought to protect the right to demonstrate as they should have done and therefore the Bill has rightly been condemned by all champions of civil liberties.

Mr. Jerry Hayes (Harlow)

The right hon. Gentleman has just quoted from The Guardian leader: They will undoubtedly be used to stop strikers from picketing peacefully. The right hon. Gentleman is referring to clause 12, so will he point out, under that clause, where and how that can be so?

Mr. Foot

The police have the power, in certain circumstances, to say whether they will allow a demonstration, and that proves my point. The hon. Gentleman can join me. If he wishes picketing to be dealt with separately, that can be done. That would be the proper way to go about it. It is not right for the Government to have included propositions to govern picketing, as they have done, without any consideration of the contrary arguments and the general points concerned. As a result, there will be grave future industrial disputes about whether the Bill infringes the right, which many people thought was absolute, to picket peacefully. I am not talking about picketing with violence, because that is against the common law. Already, powers exist for dealing with that, as the right hon. and learned Member for Warrington, South said.

I shall comment now on another aspect of the Bill, which I dare say was a reason why the Government introduced the Bill so speedily—I am not objecting on that account. There has been tremendous publicity about football hooliganism and the Government have had to take some action. I do not object to some of the propositions, but some, as my right hon. Friend the Member for Gorton has said, are unworkable and will not assist in solving the problem, but will make it more acute. It would have been more sensible to think out a proper solution.

Again, these provisions are unbalanced, because dealing with football hooliganism is only one aspect of the matter. We should ensure that football thrives. I sometimes think that the Government think that the way to stamp out football hooliganism is to stamp out football. If they do not take a whole series of other actions, football will be stamped out. The imposition of demands on both small and large football clubs are so great that the Government will drive many of them out of business. What will happen to law and order then? What happens if large numbers of football clubs cannot keep going? Many are trembling on the verge of bankruptcy now.

After the terrible tragedy at Bradford, lessons had to be learned. The Government should have come forward then and offered financial assistance to all football clubs to enable them to carry out the measures required to make their premises safe. In my constituency there are not so many football clubs as small rugby clubs. Rightly, they are having to carry out new safety provisions as soon as possible, but they do not have enough money and therefore should have much more assistance from the Government, which would not cost all that much. The Welsh Sports Council has only about £3.5 million to spend and therefore could not possibly deal with the problem. However, if the Government had any imagination they could deal with the problem. The Home Secretary should not have introduced such restrictive measures without also introducing measures that would have allowed football clubs to carry on and to prosper.

This is not a minor matter. If many football clubs were driven to bankruptcy, the addition to hooliganism and to the dangers of riot or people expressing their feelings in violent ways would be enormous, but the Government do not make such book-keeping or understand it. After the Bradford disaster, they told the football clubs that they must speedily put their houses in order and put in new stands so that such things would never again occur. The Government are a good deal swifter in telling football clubs that they must spend money that they do not have in making their grounds safe than they are in dealing with manufacturers who, for example, offend against health and safety provisions. That is a different affair. The Government linger, do not take any action, cut the number of inspectors and do not mind if there are more breaches of the law.

I do not understand why the Government have such a hatred of football—perhaps it is because no one in the Cabinet understands what football is about or what happens at the weekends. Huge numbers of people depend for their excitement and interest on the way in which sport is conducted. All that the Government do is impose a few impractical restrictions—not all of the restrictions are impractical—and say that football clubs must carry them out. The Government will not give the clubs any aid to do so, and seem to feel that if the clubs go bankrupt, so much the better, because that is how the market system works. That is a mad way to deal with such a critical position.

The inner cities may have a worse problem, but other parts which are not described as inner cities face the same problem. In my constituency we have had 20 per cent. unemployment since 1979, and three out of four young people have never had a hope of a job in the area. That is the case in many parts, not only in inner cities. The Government have taken the largest amount of rate support grant from our areas—just as they have taken huge resources from the partnership areas—although we are hit by the heaviest unemployment, and are threatened with the gravest forms of disorder.

The huge increase in crime is not an accident, nor utterly undecipherable. I am not saying that it is all due to one cause, but anyone who imagines that mass unemployment, especially among young people, does not contribute to an atmosphere in which crime grows has not the faintest notion of the mood that prevails in many areas today. The division between north and south, or however it is described, is a division between favoured areas and those which are left to take the Government's brutalities on the chin and on every other part of their industrial anatomy. Those areas face the dangers, but the Government have not a glimmer of understanding for them.

The Government talk of balance in these matters. It may be no coincidence that the Bill is being introduced this Session when the greatest judge we have had in recent years retires from the Bench. I wish that the Government had listened to what Lord Scarman had to say, instead of to those who urged them to introduce the Bill. Lord Scarman held a balanced view. He said: The social conditions in Brixton—many of which are to be found in other inner city areas—do not provide an excuse for disorder. They cannot justify attacks on the police in the streets, arson or riot. Labour Members reiterate that. Lord Scarman continued: At the same time the disorders in Brixton cannot be fully understood unless they are seen in the context of complex political, social and economic factors. In analysing communal disturbances such as those in Brixton and elsewhere, to ignore the existence of those factors is to put the nation in peril Lord Scarman made many proposals, many of which have never been carried out. I have not the slightest doubt what his view would be about the withdrawal of money from inner cities and areas such as my constituency. I have little doubt of the contempt he would have for this pitiful measure to deal with such a giant disease.

6.32 pm
Mr. John Wheeler (Westminster, North)

It is a pleasure to follow the right hon. Member for Blaenau Gwent (Mr. Foot) who displayed his immense anxiety for liberty and freedom. That anxiety is as keenly felt by hon. Members on this side of the House as by the right hon. Gentleman. He raised many points about the Bill, but the Bill seeks to balance the rights of people and to define their freedoms and obligations.

This is not a hasty piece of legislation, as has sometimes been implied in the debate so far. It emerges from one of the most careful and profound considerations which began when my right hon. Friend, now Lord President of the Council and Leader of the House of Lords, introduced a review of public order in 1979. Many people, groups and institutions have contributed to the work of the review, the inquiry and the Bill. They include groups who have already been referred to, such as the Associations of Chief Police Officers of England and Wales, and of Scotland. They were carefully consulted, and as a consequence of some of their suggestions the proposals were amended before coming to the House for our detailed consideration. The Police Federation of England and Wales submitted a substantial review on public order, which my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary took into account. Lord Scarman's report has also contributed to the Bill, as has the report of the Law Commission on public order offences, and the works of many other bodies and institutions.

Clearly, the Bill touches on important, difficult and controversial matters affecting freedom and liberty, but the degree of contribution to its clauses has been considerable during recent years. The Bill does not markedly depart from our philosophy of policing. On the contrary, an underpinning principle of the Bill is that the police will continue to employ the minimum force in the preservation of public order on the streets. The Bill does not dramatically extend police powers, but represents a careful effort to uphold traditional freedoms, such as the right to protest, march and picket peaceably, within a framework of law. Surely that is what we all want to achieve.

I am especially pleased to see a better definition of riot, and of the supporting offences of affray and disorderly conduct. The old common law definitions were in need of review. We should remember that riot involves the deployment of 12 or more people committing grave and serious offences. The Bill gives courts greater sentencing flexibility, and reflects the gravity of the offence of riot. It is right that it should be defined as one of the rarest and least prosecuted offences, and I hope that that will always be so.

The offence of disorderly conduct, which is new and is at the bottom of the scale of crimes that may be committed, is a necessary offence that should be included on the statute book. All hon. Members will have experienced residents' associations complaining about what a minority of people, usually youths, have done to terrify an estate and disrupt the peace and tranquillity of a community. We all know of the difficulty of the police in dealing with such incidents. The offence of disorderly conduct is satisfactorily set out.

I agree with my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary that it was sensible to drop the word "substantial" which appeared in the White Paper. I speak from the point of view of one who has served as a magistrate and has had to try cases. It is extremely difficult for a court to say whether what occurred was "substantial" because it is a question of debate, degree and interpretation of what "substantial" may mean. The offence of disorderly conduct as defined in the Bill makes it clear that there must be a victim or group of victims who have originated the complaint to the police. It has been said in the House and elsewhere that this is a type of sus law offence. I was Chairman of the Select Committee that prepared the report that led to the House repealing the sus law.

Mr. Alex Carlile

The hon. Gentleman says that there is a requirement in clause 5 that someone—presumably a member of the public—should make a complaint to the police. I should be grateful if the hon. Gentleman would point out that provision, because I have overlooked it.

Mr. Wheeler

The clause does not specifically say—

Mr. Carlile

Then why say that it does?

Mr. Wheeler

If the hon. and learned Gentleman will allow me to continue, he will perhaps understand my point. Of course the clause does not state that there shall be a victim. I suggest that that is not said in almost all of the criminal law. The provisions create a series of offences based upon events. It is the prosecution's duty to produce the evidence to buttress its case before the courts. The offence of disorderly conduct is not a victimless crime. It requires a group of people or an individual to pose a complaint to the police and say, "We have trouble on our council estate. We need your attendance. We need you to take some action."

Mr. John Ryman (Blyth Valley)

Surely that is an oversimplification. There are many cases in which prosecutions are brought in which, for one reason or another, the victim has not complained or cannot be traced. The evidence to the prosecution therefore consists of a police observation or something like that. Is not the hon. Gentleman wrong in saying that there must be a victim to produce affirmative evidence of the offence?

Mr. Wheeler

There must be a victim, even if it is only the state. If a vehicle excise licence is not obtained, there is a loss of revenue and the victim is the community. It is in that context that I deploy the term "victim".

The disorderly conduct offence is not a new sus law. I was Chairman of the Select Committee that prepared a report that led eventually to the House repealing that part of the Vagrancy Act 1824 which so many of us thought offensive and undesirable. Clause 5 is in no way a sus law. If it were, I would determinedly oppose it. I welcome the provision. It will make a significant contribution towards improving the quality of life of many ordinary people, especially in the urban areas where they are often at a great disadvantage because of the conduct of a minority.

It is important that the police should be notified about marches and parades. It is a matter of debate whether it should be seven days' notice or less. During the 17 months between 12 February 1983 and 20 July 1984 there were 112 marches in the city of Westminster in the heart of London requiring the deployment of more than 100 officers of the Metropolitan police. When a large march is taking place and the resources of the police have to be called in from all over the Metropolitan police area—this affects the lives of people elsewhere in London who are thus deprived of a police presence—it is reasonable that the police should have the opportunity to prepare for the march and to summon their resources.

The new power to deal with static demonstrations is reasonable and should help the police to control the type of events that cause distress. I remind hon. Members of the particularly unpleasant incident in St. James's square a year ago, which had such awesome consequences. I welcome especially the clause dealing with incitement to racial hatred. I strongly believe that people of every race and colour deserve the protection of the law against racial abuse and the kind of hate campaigns that some hon. Members, especially those from inner London, know can occur. It is right to give reasonable protection to all sections of the community. I welcome the provision to cover behaviour, words or written material intended to cause racial hatred.

The proposal for a new exclusion order system, which depends to some extent on the provision of a photograph, is reasonable and should offer some deterrence to football hooliganism. There is nothing new in this, because, 85 years ago, a black book was maintained in most police stations containing the photographs of habitual drunkards who caused disorder on the streets. Police officers who were going out on duty could peruse the photographs to ascertain those people from whom they might expect trouble and the action that they might need to take. With this measure the police will be able to use photographs through their collators' offices to prevent hooligans from going to football matches.

The Bill will be subject to the inevitable scrutiny of the Standing Committee, but it is a balanced package which seeks to ensure that the police and the courts have reasonable, but fair, powers. It tries to deal with the most controversial aspects of public life—the use of the highway and the behaviour of people on it. I commend the legislation. I believe that it will be successful in reaching its objectives.

6.46 pm
Mr. Robert Maclennan (Caithness and Sutherland)

The hon. Member for Westminster, North (Mr. Wheeler) was right to remind the House that the genesis of the Bill was not recent. Since Lord Whitelaw initiated the inquiry into public order, a succession of events have accentuated the need for the review that was introduced in the wake of the Southall riots. From time to time the Government give the impression, not of carrying out a deliberate review, but of responding by legislation to events as they arise. I take no general exception to that—indeed, the alliance supported, for the most part, the Sporting Events (Control of Alcohol etc.) Act 1985 to deal with football hooliganism. This Bill extends those proposals.

I listened with great attention to the Home Secretary, in the hope that he would underline and explain the Government's basic philosophy and objective in bringing forward this legislation with its sweeping changes in the codification of the old common law offences—in the light of the recommendations of the Law Commission—and with its important and, in some respects, controversial amendments to the Public Order Act 1936.

The introduction by the Home Secretary, in which he set out his thinking, was extremely exiguous. He merely stated that there were two considerations: first, that the citizen should be able to pursue his lawful business without interference or disruption by others exercising unreasonable means to threaten; and, secondly, that there should be rights of assembly. He did not say how he felt that the changes he was proposing in the Bill would increase police effectiveness to control an unacceptable breakdown of public order. That was the penumbra of his speech that was missing. It leads one to take the view that the Bill contains an element of gesture which is inappropriate when considering its merits.

The Government too often confuse law and order by linking them inextricably together. Of course it is right that the framework of the law should be such as to enable those who are charged with the responsibility of maintaining the law to do their job effectively. We must express considerable doubt about whether mere changes in the law render more effective the work of the law enforcement agencies. There is a strong onus of proof on those who seek to make changes in the law which in some respects curtail established principles and in others change practices and laws which over the years have been found adequate to provide for the needs of the police.

The Home Secretary has not explained the deficiencies in the existing public order law, or the fact that representations were made by some bodies and individuals, or why he thought it right to depart from the proposals contained in the Government's White Paper. His speech was empty of argument to persuade me that the changes are necessary or desirable. The right hon. Gentleman has conceded somewhat too much to those who feel less sensitive than they should about the rights of the individual in a democratic society. He produced a most convoluted argument to show that his proposal to extend controls over static assemblies and marches to those who threatened coercion was in some way a libertarian measure. He did not face the difficulty that traditionally the police have found little problem in controlling public meetings by the use of the criminal law.

The increase in the number of public demonstrations is not indicative of a growing problem of control. They might involve more police than before, and that perhaps is inevitable if we are to maintain the right of freedom of assembly to which we are, I believe, committed.

The common law powers, in particular the breach of the peace powers, available to the police have worked relatively well, and there is not the same pressing need for an extension of the controls contained in the Public Order Act 1936 as there was perceived to be in 1936. Merely because 50 years have elapsed is not a good reason, as the Home Secretary seemed to suggest, for enlarging the powers in the way that he proposes.

The issue which the Home Secretary hinted—he never stated it—was crucial in his thinking was the fact that it was necessary to exercise prior restraint over demonstrations which might threaten a breach of public order. I presume he feels that the common law remedies which have been customarily invoked by the police to deal with static assemblies are inadequate because they are exercised ex post facto. That is not strictly the case, because breach of the peace powers can be invoked before trouble occurs.

The argument about the need for such powers would have carried greater weight if the Government had shown the slightest inclination to use the civil powers which they took to themselves to control mass picketing during the miners' strike. It was conspicuous that those civil powers were not used. One can only assume that that was because the Government felt that it was inappropriate to use them.

Mr. Douglas Hogg


Mr. Maclennan

The hon. Gentleman always provides a descant to my speech, and because I enjoy his speeches I am delighted to give way.

Mr. Hogg

The hon. Gentleman frequently gets his facts wrong, but he is a nice chap and I always like listening to him. Civil powers belong to the employers in disputes, and they cannot be invoked by the Government acting as the Government.

Mr. Maclennan

The point at issue is whether the powers, be they civil or criminal, are effective. The Government went to great lengths to persuade the House that the civil power should be amended to deal with the circumstances which we now appear to be having to deal with by amending the criminal law. I am not persuaded that the Government were wrong to effect that change in the civil law, but they cannot claim that the civil law failed during the miners' strike and therefore the criminal law must be amended, because they never used the civil law.

Mr. Hogg

The Government do not have the power to invoke the civil law; that is for the employer.

Mr. Maclennan

The hon. Gentleman is not as naive as he would sometimes like us to believe when he suggests that there was no communication between the Government and the chairman of the affected nationalised steel and coal industries.

Mr. Lyell

Will the hon. Gentleman clarify his party's position on this matter? It is accepted by the National Union of Mineworkers—the NUM suggested it—that six was a reasonable number of peaceful pickets. If a great mob of people who are likely physically to try to prevent others from going into work are standing beside those six and blocking the way, does his party oppose the fact that the police should have the power to say, "No, you must stand over there as one of the conditions of your demonstration"?

Mr. Maclennan

The police already have the power to take action if they apprehend that a breach of the peace will result from the presence of more than six pickets. It is an offence to cause a breach of the peace. It is that provision that gives the police the authority that they enjoy.

I supported the Government's view that those who considered that their civil liberties or those of their employees were at risk could invoke the civil law. I am not persuaded that the balance of the argument favours giving the police the power in respect of static assemblies that the Bill proposes. A fine balance must be struck between the need to protect the right of freedom of expresssion and the right to peaceful assembly in association with others, and the duty to protect individuals going about their lawful business from violence, intimidation and harassment. The Government have not dispatched the onus of showing that the law that distinguished between marches and static assembly 50 years ago should be altered.

The Government have not only extended the controls to static assembly, but they have changed the grounds on which the police may exercise controls on marches. The scope of the Public Order Act 1936 has been widened unacceptably. It is no longer confined to circumstances where the police believe that there will be serious risk of public disorder. The additional circumstance, where serious disruption to community life is feared, or where it is feared that an individual could be faced with intimidation or coercion, are unacceptable extensions of that power.

We agree that the requirement of notification is acceptable in principle, although we can argue in Committee about the length of time. The right hon. Member for Manchester, Gorton (Mr. Kaufman) got it right when he distinguished between the Scottish case and that of England. Six clear days' notice is too long. The effectiveness of demonstration often comes from its spontaneity, but we can pursue that point in Committee.

My principal anxiety is that the Government have not given weight to the inhibition which the controls on assemblies and marches will place on freedom of expression. It is easy to drive opposition underground, but that can be considerably more dangerous to society than opposition that is freely expressed in an orderly way by a group of people appearing in public. The Government should not curtail freedom of assembly without producing more evidence to suggest that curtailment will have the desired effect.

I wish to discuss the new offence of disorderly conduct as defined in clause 5, which differs from the definition in the White Paper. This is one of the Government's more risky steps in the Bill and one which has been taken without any compelling reason. The alliance supported the view that there was a need for codification of the old common law offences, and we broadly supported the definitions of those new offences in the White Paper. We believe that there is a case for amending section 5 of the Public Order Act 1936 to create the new offences in clauses 4 and 5. However, the definitions in clause 5 are alarming. With regard to disorderly conduct, when the White Paper was published we supported the view that there was a need to create an offence punishable by a fine for threatening or abusive words or behaviour which caused substantial alarm, harassment or distress. There is no such requirement in the Bill.

The Government strongly supported the original proposals in the White Paper, which set out the proposed limitations on the new offence. Paragraph 3.26 of the White Paper states: The Government recognises that there would be justifiable objections to a wide extension of the criminal law which might catch conduct not deserving of criminal sanctions. For this reason the offence contains the safeguard that the behaviour must actually cause someone to feel alarmed, harassed or distressed (not that it is merely likely to do so). Any degree of annoyance or disturbance will not suffice: because the offence would be concerned primarily to protect the weak and vulnerable, the proposed definition requires evidence that the victim suffered substantial alarm, harassment or distress. The definition is not simply a matter for the Committee. An important issue of principle is raised. The Bill hands to the police a wide discretionary power which, if used insensitively, could degenerate into a serious exacerbation of the relations that exist between the more junior members of the police who come into contact with the public and those who are most likely to be involved in that type of offence, such as young people and ethnic minorities.

It is especially disturbing that the police will not be required to produce in court the person who is alleged to have been alarmed. In fact, there is no requirement that anyone has to be alarmed. The clause is sufficiently seriously defective to call into question whether the Bill should be supported on Second Reading. However, my objections are wider than that. The alliance supports the amendment tabled by the Labour party, and we broadly adopt its reasoning.

There have been some striking breakdowns of public order in Britain in recent years, which have understandably given rise to considerable public disquiet. Before we legislate to change the law, it is important to show that the proposed changes will produce the necessary effect. The Government did not discharge that duty in the speech of the Home Secretary tonight.

7.9 pm

Mr. Warren Hawksley (The Wrekin)

I was glad to hear the hon. Member for Caithness and Sutherland (Mr. Maclennan) say how the alliance will vote tonight, because I was not sure about the position from the arguments that he put. However, the hon. Gentleman must be grateful that he succeeded in doubling the representation of his party in the House today when the right hon. Member for Glasgow, Hillhead (Mr. Jenkins) arrived during his speech. His speech showed the problems of the alliance, which does not know which way it is going on this and on many other issues.

I welcome the proposals in the Bill. I also welcome not only the Government's commitment but the Prime Minister's personal commitment to making law and order more relevant and giving it a high priority. We should welcome the holding of the conference last week to highlight the problems of law and order. That is what the public demands.

During the Second Reading debate on the Police and Criminal Evidence Bill, I spoke about the fine balance between the powers of police officers to carry out their duties and the work that the public expects of them and the civil rights of individuals. I said on that occasion—and I repeated it in Committee—that the civil rights lobby seemed to be winning the day on many occasions. I hope that when this Bill goes to Committee the Government will reject any moves to alter the emphasis of the Bill towards the civil liberties lobby. During the 59 Committee sittings of the Police and Criminal Evidence Bill, it was alarming to see that nearly all the Opposition amendments had the stamp of the National Council for Civil Liberties.

Mr. Alex Carlile

If the hon. Gentleman was so alarmed by the amendments tabled to the Police and Criminal Evidence Bill, why did he not express his alarm until about the 56th sitting of the Committee?

Mr. Hawksley

Had the hon. Gentleman attended the Committee as often as I did, he would have realised that I raised various matters in Committee. I was certainly there much more often than he was. It was interesting to hear the Opposition accuse the Police and Criminal Evidence Bill of creating bureaucracy for the police force, when their amendments to include so-called safeguards provided such bureaucracy. I do not understand how the right hon. Member for Manchester, Gorton (Mr. Kaufman) could have made that point earlier today.

The public demand that the police have the power to stop a small minority in society—whether they be football hooligans, illegal pickets or a threatening mob of youths—intimidating the young and the elderly and endangering innocent lives or their property. People want action and they believe that this legislation will give them action. The right of an individual to live in peace without threat to his life or his property must be protected by the House, and this legislation will do so.

Television has reported acts of violence, terrorist acts which cause anxiety to many members of the public. It is unacceptable that many of those acts do not result in court appearances. When they do, we often discover that the powers which we thought existed do not exist. That is why we must give the police the additional powers that the Bill suggests. The need for the new offence of disorderly behaviour will be clear to anyone who has watched what has happened on television and seen in their homes acts which the public believe should be stopped.

With other Members of Parliament, I received literature from the NCCL in preparation for today's debate. I suspect that the hon. and learned Member for Montgomery (Mr. Carlile) will, like me, have received a letter from the Shropshire and Mid-Wales branch of the NCCL, which states that the new proposals would mean: You could be arrested for: organising a demonstration without police permission, taking part in a demonstration that has been banned, ignoring police conditions … ignoring police directions. So what? Most of my electors would be grateful if the police had those powers if it meant that demonstrations would show respect for their property and for their lives. They believe that the police would use those powers wisely. It worries me that a body such as the NCCL should believe that citizens go round in fear of being mugged or arrested by the police. That is not the case in my constituency. My constituents fear being mugged and attacked, and believe that the police act as a deterrent and are their friends. That is how it should be; that is how the majority of the public believe it is. They do not accept the NCCL's arguments on that matter.

Those who oppose the legislation, especially its proposals on marches, are the same people who expect the police to respond under the present legislation when the National Front proposes to march through a sensitive area. They should support this legislation on marches and static demonstrations, because it gives the police the power to respond to the fears of those who live in the areas where marches are likely to occur.

Most hon. Members seem to believe that the sentences provided in the Bill are about right, although there has been criticism of one proposal. I am not worried about the sentences available under the legislation, but I question whether they will be used to their full. The public showed great admiration for Judge Michael Argyle when he sentenced a Chelsea football fan to life imprisonment. They believe that that example should be followed.

Mr. Kevin Barron (Rother Valley)

With regard to the Chelsea football supporter who was imprisoned for life for that vicious attack, does the hon. Gentleman believe that the law is likely to be ridiculed if, on appeal, that sentence is greatly reduced, which most people believe it will be? Is that not ridiculing the law instead of having sensible law?

Mr. Hawksley

I was about to say, without dealing with that case—although I admired the line taken by the judge—that we must ensure that the appeal judges respond to that sort of public attitude. We need tough sentencing.

Mr. Alex Carlile

On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. Is it right for an hon. Member to support a sentence passed by a court of first instance when that sentence is subject to a pending appeal in which notice of appeal has already been filed?

Mr. Deputy Speaker (Mr. Harold Walker)

The sub judice rule does not apply when the House is considering legislation.

Mr. Hawksley

It is important to encourage and to support the judiciary in giving sentences that fit the crime. The time may come when the House considers the need not only for maximum sentences, but for minimum sentences, unless we see that the law is being used to the full. Our electors will insist that the House protects them.

One aspect of the Bill which causes me some concern—it will be considered in detail in Committee—is the Riot (Damages) Act 1886. We now have insurance and the Criminal Damages Act 1971 which help many people who would otherwise be out of pocket after their properties are damaged. I question whether, in this day and age, we need to retain that Act. Although riots may be less common under the new definition in clause 1, I should think that people could make their own arrangements to cover themselves against the risks covered in the Bill.

Also the Bill does not cover the people who deliberately trespass on private land with the purpose of committing a criminal offence. The National Farmers Union has brought that to our notice and I hope that the Committee will fill that gap in the Bill.

People have had enough. They have seen enough on television. They saw the violence by the miners last year. They have seen enough of the hooliganism at football matches. They demand action. The Bill is a right response and I have great pleasure in supporting it.

7.20 pm
Mr. David Clelland (Tyne Bridge)

I stand here today proud to represent the people of the Tyne Bridge constituency but conscious, as are we all, of the tragic events which brought about my presence in the House. My predecessor, Harry Cowans, was not only an excellent representative of the people and a first class Member of Parliament; he was a personal friend for many years. Harry and I met before we became members of the Labour party. We joined the party at about the same time. We served together on Gateshead county borough council and, following local government reorganisation, the Gateshead metropolitan borough council. We were even members of the same social club. It comes, therefore, as no surprise to me to learn that Harry was well respected by hon. Members on both sides of the House. Tyne Bridge, the House and the country are the poorer for his untimely departure.

I know that his wife Margaret and his family would wish me to express personally their deep appreciation to all those who have been so kind and who have expressed sympathy and sadness. It is a great comfort to his wife and family to be reminded so vividly of the high esteem in which that bonny lad from Tyneside was held by Members of the House and by the staff here.

In Harry's maiden speech to the House in November 1976 he spoke of the difficult task that he faced in filling the shoes of his predecessor, Lord Glenamara, or Ted Short, MP, as he then was. Harry lived up to that task. He gave good account of himself as a Member of Parliament and was loved and respected in his constituency. Indeed, only last week I attended a ceremony at which a Tyneside metro car was named Harry Cowans in his memory.

Now it is my turn to say, as Harry said in his maiden speech, That is, indeed, an eminent and enviable record to follow."—[Official Report,24 November 1976; Vol. 921, c.111.] My task will be to match that record and to represent the best interests of the people of Tyne Bridge. In so doing I shall follow in the very capable footsteps of Harry Cowans.

It will be my task to stand up and fight for the thousands of decent families in my constituency who suffer the frustration and indignity of unemployment, the thousands of young people who have been denied the opportunity to build decent lives for themselves, the thousands of elderly people who suffer from inadequate incomes and insecurity and the thousands who have jobs but also suffer from worry and insecurity as redundancy announcements become an almost daily occurrence.

As leader of Gateshead council for the last two years I know of the efforts by the local authorities in the area to overcome those and other problems. Many improvements have been made. I have also suffered the frustration of being prevented from progressing on anything like the scale necessary, by continual attacks on our rate support grant, capital spending and housing programmes.

Tyne Bridge constituency is contained within the Newcastle/Gateshead inner area. It is an inner city constituency with all the problems currently typical of such areas, which are prominent in all our minds. Its people face the difficulties of escalating crime rates, plummeting housing starts, high unemployment and low incomes. Yet, despite these cruel ups and downs of inner city life, the people remain resilient and retain the Geordie friendliness and good humour which so impressed the many visitors to the constituency during the recent by-election campaign.

Unfortunately, some mistake our conviviality for contentment and our resilience for resignation. I say to the House that the people of our inner cities are neither content nor resigned to accepting that the problems cannot be resolved. Indeed, discontentment and a refusal to become resigned to accepting inner city conditions have too often spilt over into violence on city streets. It is the frustration of knowing that there can be—there ought to be—a better way of life for themselves and their families but being unable to achieve it that generates anger. It is the need, the desire to escape from the problems that too often drives people into drug or alcohol abuse.

If the problems of disorder in the cities are to be resolved, and if harmony is to prevail, more emphasis must be placed on tackling the causes rather than the effects. That does not mean that we should be soft on crime. I am not implying that the Bill is totally irrelevant to the problems. Indeed, I welcome the measures proposed to combat racism and the repugnant literature that promotes it. However, my constituents who suffer from such activities might well feel that it does not go far enough. I have always believed that prevention is better than cure and that rehabilitation is better than revenge.

In its present form the Bill is unlikely to promote better relationships between the police and the community. It gives chief constables, and in some cases more junior officers, the power to make political decisions and to exercise political judgments. It undermines traditional liberties. It is restrictive and will not achieve its goal. Worst of all, it diverts our attention from the real questions—why these problems have arisen in our society and how we so arrange things that we reverse the trends.

So long as we concentrate more of our time on talking about combating disorder than we do about creating the conditions in which disorder need not occur we are not using our time or our imaginations in the best interests of our children. They will inherit the consequences of our failures.

We have witnessed some ugly incidents in recent years and of course we cannot stand by while crime rises, riots break out and disorder threatens the peaceful lives of ordinary people. But equally—no, principally—we cannot ignore the link between rising unemployment, poverty and deteriorating social conditions with rising crime, vandalism and unrest, particularly in our inner cities.

We must take measures to cure the disease, not merely treat the symptoms. The measures should be designed to protect and enhance freedom and democracy, not—as I fear will happen if the Bill is enacted in its present form—damage civil freedoms and individual liberties while doing little or nothing to relieve the frustrations and tensions of inner city life.

The Home Secretary has said that public order is the essence of any civilised society. But surely, if order can be maintained only by increasingly punitive measures, it is an indication that civilised behaviour is deteriorating and that society itself is therefore becoming less civilised. Last year was international youth year. Young people all over our country were encouraged to think about the society in which they lived and to develop an understanding of the importance of harmonious international relationships. Yet, despite some marvellous work—nowhere better than in my constituency—too many of our young people were unable to find contentment and were driven to violence, vandalism and crime.

This year has been designated as the international year for peace. We all hope and pray for peace, but if we want peace on our city streets we shall have to do more than hope. Peace is something for which we shall have to work, and in ways that the Bill does not address itself to or take into consideration. We must begin in earnest to encourage investment in Britain, to restore confidence and to bring new hope to the regions and the cities.

In 1979, we were offered hope and harmony, but a lack of hope and a growing pessimism have destroyed harmony and created discord and disorder. When we mobilise our construction industry to resolve the massive housing problems, many of which we inherited from the 1950s and 1960s, when we begin to show real support for our engineering and new technology industries, when we generate real jobs and meaningful training and when people can plan for their future because they have secure employment, the calls for new hope and harmony in the years of youth, peace and industry may be rewarded by some identifiable results.

In a truly civilised society, the Bill would be irrelevant. Therefore, the challenge to civilised people is to create conditions that make unnecessary the measures that are proposed in the Bill. That must be our real and only goal.

7.32 pm
Mr. Jerry Hayes (Harlow)

It is with particular pleasure that I have the honour to congratulate the hon. Member for Tyne Bridge (Mr. Clelland) on his maiden speech. I think that Members on both sides of the House will agree that it was a maiden speech in the finest traditions of the House, being short, to the point, and from the heart.

I am sure that the hon. Member for Tyne Bridge will be the first to appreciate that Harry Cowans was held in great esteem and respect in this place. He managed to combine the ability to fight hard for his constituency and party with being well liked on both sides of the House. As I have said, I congratulate the hon. Gentleman on his maiden speech. It is obvious that he is a man to be watched. Anyone who can bring 30 members of the Labour party into the Chamber at 7.31 pm is bound to do well. The newly appointed Opposition Chief Whip is in his place, and I am sure that he will be watching the hon. Gentleman.

I turn to the less pleasant subject of public order. I welcome the Bill and I suspect that that welcome will be echoed throughout the country, especially by those who live on housing estates that have been subjected to the spiralling lawlessness of the past 10 years. I was disappointed when Opposition Members suggested that the Bill was ill thought out. Nothing could be further from the truth. This is not a panic measure that has been introduced because of the miners' strike. Labour Members should appeciate that consultations on public order legislation began as long ago as 1979.

I always find the right hon. Member for Manchester, Gorton (Mr. Kaufman) at his most unnerving when he tries to be nice, and he tried desperately to be nice this afternoon. I find it sickening when the Labour party masquerades as the party that cares for the aspirations of ordinary people. All in this House and all who watch television and read newspapers know that nothing could be further from the truth. We know what has been happening in the inner cities. We read reports about those who have been manipulating organised violence and intimidation. When it comes to the day of reckoning at the next general election and the electorate has to decide which party will form the next Government, perhaps it will ask where the Labour party was when the bricks were winging their way through the windows of miners' houses. Perhaps it will ask where the Labour party was when it came to condemning violence irrespective of its source.

On every occasion that the Government have brought legislation before the House to give the police the powers that they need so desperately to enforce the law and protect the citizen, what has the Labour party done? The answer is that it has voted against the proposed legislation. It even had the hypocrisy to vote against the prevention of terrorism legislation while almost at the same time condemning the bombing at Brighton. That is the party that is masquerading as the party of law and order. I believe that that charade will be seen through.

Labour Members have told us that they believe in civil liberties and the freedom of the individual. We know and they know for what their police committees stand. Civil liberties mean, in their terms, political control of the police.

I welcome the revamped offence of riot. It is only right and proper that its terms should have been changed to provide for 12 persons as opposed to three. Similarly, as a legal practitioner who prosecutes and defends, I am pleased that the law has been clarified and that a person of normal and reasonable firmness does not have to be present. The right hon. Member for Gorton seemed to think that that was a departure in the law. If he reads Smith and Hogan's Criminal Law, especially page 737, he will find that it has been the law for quite some time.

I move on to the more important offences regarding and affecting ordinary people. We talk about flashpoints and picketing and all that is involved when serious public disorder breaks out—we have seen shocking violence on picket lines and there has been shocking violence, arid sometimes death, in public demonstrations—but although such events have increased in number over the past decade, it is merciful that they are still few arid far between. They constitute the flashpoints and they are the matters that the media like to play up, sometimes, sadly, out of all proportion.

The Bill deals with everyday occurrences of violence and hooliganism and that is one reason why it should be welcomed, especially by many of those who are living within council estates and are terrified of opening their doors at night. They are terrified of going out on to the streets for fear of being assaulted or mugged. That is not a generalisation and it happens to be a fact. Only this morning I was prosecuting in a case in which young people had terrorised a whole community. They had set out to burgle flats in the area where they live. Indeed, they burgled the same block of flats in which they live. One of the prosecution's difficulties was that it could not get witnesses to say that these youngsters were terrorising the community.

Mr. Alex Carlile

So the hon. Gentleman lost the case.

Mr. Hayes

I am happy to say not. One of the difficulties in such cases, especially those involving hooliganism and harassment on the streets, is that members of the public telephone the police to complain but are not prepared to attend court as witnesses. They decline to do so because they are frightened. That is unfortunate but it is something that I can understand. That is why the offence of disorderly conduct is ideal for that sort of situation.

Mr. Alex Carlile

For attempted burglary?

Mr. Hayes

The hon. and learned Gentleman should pay more attention. I was giving an example of what happens on estates where young people control law and order—perhaps the hon. and learned Gentleman is listening now and will learn something. It does happen, people are afraid to come out; that was the example I was giving to the hon. and learned Gentleman. When this legislation is on the statute book, there will be added protection for the public.

I can understand some of the fears voiced by hon. Members and the National Council for Civil Liberties about harassment being substantial. This was in the White Paper—I think the hon. and learned Member for Montgomery (Mr. Carlile) would agree with me on that point. There was always the view that perhaps the younger police officers could take advantage of certain situations. That happened with the sus law, which we had to abolish, and quite rightly. It was open to abuse. There is a thin dividing line between what is harassment, what is riot and what is boisterous behaviour. For this reason I ask my hon. Friend the Minister, who is replying, to consider this carefully when the Bill goes into Committee.

Mr. Tony Lloyd

This is an important point and I think the hon. Gentleman should not simply ask the Minister but tell us precisely what he would do. If the hon. Gentleman is not prepared to do so, all his comments about recognising the doubts over this aspect of the Bill are simply pious nonsense. What would he do?

Mr. Hayes

With respect to the hon. Gentleman, I have just told him: the original word in the White Paper, "substantial", should be put in the legislation. The dividing line between boisterous behaviour, harassment and riot would then not be such a thin one.

Mr. Kaufman

Plus a victim.

Mr. Hayes

There is a very good reason why we cannot have a victim. I know that the right hon. Gentleman says that we should, as does the NCCL. People have been so frightened of their neighbours who have been terrifying them that they are not prepared to go to the police and become witnesses in court. Those of us who are practitioners recognise that this is a problem.

Mr. Kenneth Hind (Lancashire, West)

Does my hon. Friend not feel that he will have the same problem as our right hon. Friend the Secretary of State in defining what "substantial" means and to what extent behaviour becomes substantial or less than substantial? Perhaps in those circumstances my hon. Friend will feel that it is better to leave the word out.

Mr. Hayes

I hesitate to disagree with my hon. Friend, who I know is very learned in these matters. However, by putting in the word "substantial" the difference between boisterous behaviour, harassment and alarm is absolutely clear. That is the point I want to get across.

With regard to processions and marches, the Opposition say that the proposals are a major infringement of civil liberties. Nothing could be further from the truth. Many of the powers that are codified by the Bill are contained in section 3 of the Public Order Act 1936. There is now the sensible requirement for consultation—this is what it is effectively—and contact between the organisers of the marchers and the police. Therefore, any flashpoints or any difficulties are likely to be sorted out beforehand. This has been the experience in the past. Many organisers go to the police and report precisely what they are doing. In the past local authorities have consulted with the police on these matters and it is absolutely proper that the police and the police alone make the decision.

It has been suggested by the Opposition that it is a political decision. How can the police be making a political decision when they are asked under clause 12 to consider the following: (a) it may result in serious public disorder, serious damage to property or serious disruption to the life of the community"? Where is the political decision?

The NCCL has compounded that lie. In its press release it states: For the first time the police are going to be able to limit the duration, number or place at which an open air demonstration takes place on the grounds of serious public disorder, serious disruption to the life of the community, or intimidation. So a peaceful group of parents protesting outside the council offices about the lack of zebra crossings in their area, a picket outside a supermarket to persuade customers not to buy South African goods and even vigils outside churches could be moved on by the police even if there is no violence or threat of violence to persons or property. Really, that is arrant nonsense.

Mr. Kaufman

No, it is not.

Mr. Hayes

I heard the right hon. Member for Gorton say, from a sedentary position, "No, it is not". I challenge him to look at clause 12 and tell the House how those examples from the NCCL briefing can possibly be banned within the terms of this Bill. The right hon. Gentleman has an opportunity—he shakes his head. Is he afraid to do so? It is more likely that he is unable to do so. The truth is that there will be no more major infringements of any public liberty or freedom of expression than there have been since section 3 of the Public Order Act 1936.

I view with certain concern the new test on major disruption in the community and I ask my hon. Friend the Minister to consider this when replying. We must never allow that test to become just a convenience and nothing more than that. The protection of the people must always come first.

The last matter I would draw to the attention of my hon. Friend the Minister is a point brought to the House's attention by the hon. Member for Caithness and Sutherland (Mr. Maclennan). I found it quite impossible, listening to the hon. Member, to know whether he was speaking on behalf of the alliance, because we are not sure what the alliance is saying. A few weeks ago the hon. Member said that the SDP was all in favour of this legislation. Then we hear that the Liberal party is not in favour. Evidently, from what we understand, the alliance, for what it is worth, is completely split asunder on this matter. For example, it appears that the Liberal party is against any form of requirement. [Interruption.] It is very difficult to make oneself heard.

Mr. Deputy Speaker

Order. There is too much noise.

Mr. Hayes

I am sure that there is an interesting conversation taking place on the Opposition Benches and I imagine that something exciting will happen when so many hon. Members have been removed from the various bars.

One aspect of the provisions concerning marches and processions worries me. People should have the right to a judicial review. That is a reiteration of section 3 of the 1936 Act. The difficulty is that that can be expensive and slow. I hope that my hon. Friend the Minister will consider that in Committee and see whether a legal aid fund could be established to help or, more importantly, will see whether some of the decisions could be transferred to a county or Crown court.

The Bill would in no way infringe civil liberties. It is an answer to the cry in the wilderness from many people in council estates who are desperately frightened because their estates have been turned into ghettoes of fear.

7.50 pm
Mr. John Smith (Monklands, East)

On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker, arising out of the statement made earlier this afternoon by the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry.

The House will recall that the right hon. Member for Henley (Mr. Heseltine) asked the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry whether he had seen any letter from British Aerospace about the meeting between the Secretary of State and the chief executive of British Aerospace. The Secretary of State replied that he personally had not received any such letter.

As the House will recall, there was repeated questioning of the Secretary of State, and the impression that he conveyed was that he was not aware of any letter having come to the Government from British Aerospace, In reply to a specific question by my hon. Friend the Member for Bolsover (Mr. Skinner), the Secretary of State said—here I rely on my memory—"I am not aware of any letter from Lygo to anyone else either." I submit that that reply created the clear impression in the mind of the House that there had been no letter from British Aerospace to the Government, and questioning of the Secretary of State on that matter ceased.

I can only speak for myself, but I left the Chamber under the impression that the Government had rebutted the allegation that any letter had come from British Aerospace to the Government. The Secretary of State might claim that he was technically correct to say that no letter had been received from Lygo, but I am reliably informed—I do not think there is any dispute about this—that at noon today a letter was delivered by hand addressed to the Prime Minister, to No. 10 Downing street, from Sir Austin Pearce, the chairman of British Aerospace, add that the content of that letter related to a meeting between the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry and Admiral Sir Raymond Lygo, the chief executive of Brush Aerospace, and may well contain the recollections of the chief executive of British Aerospace about what transpired at that meeting.

There is no doubt that three and a half hours elapsed between a letter being given to the Prime Minister's office and a statement being made to the House of Commons by the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry in which he said that he had explained his own position and that of the Government. Despite repeated questioning, the information that I have given the House was not provided by the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry. In those circumstances, and as the Government will not deny that the letter was delivered at noon—I gather also that explanations of what he said have been given to the press on behalf of the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry by his press department—the least I can ask for is that the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry comes back to the House today.

So as not to do any more harm to this debate, which I apologise for having had to interrupt, I request, in the presence of the Leader of the House, that the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry comes to the House after the Division at 10 pm to explain his remarkable conduct today.

The Lord Privy Seal and Leader of the House of Commons (Mr. John Biffen)

I join the right hon. and learned Member for Monklands, East (Mr. Smith) in wishing not to impair this important Second Reading debate. I shall certainly look at the point that he has raised. Perhaps we could consider it through the usual channels.

7.54 pm
Mr. Chris Smith (Islington, South and Finsbury)

The House has today been given the rare privilege at this stage in a Parliament of hearing a maiden speech. That maiden speech, by my hon. Friend the Member for Tyne Bridge (Mr. Clelland), was made with clarity and wisdom. Although I am sure all hon. Members regret the sad circumstances which gave rise to the by-election, they will, I am sure, feel that my hon. Friend will be an honourable and worthy successor to Harry Cowans.

My hon. Friend the Member for Tyne Bridge said that we should concentrate on the causes rather than on the effects of crime and violence in inner cities. He urged us to cure the disease, not simply to address ourselves to the symptoms. We should bear the wisdom of that remark in mind when considering the Bill. I fear that the Government have not borne it in mind when presenting the Bill in an attempt to deal with the major problems in our inner-city areas.

This morning, Islington borough council published a survey on the level of crime in the area that I represent. It is a remarkable survey, drawn from detailed interviews with 2,000 households in the borough. It provides us with one of the clearest indications yet of the level of crime and the fear of crime in an inner-city area.

One of the survey's startling findings is that more than half of Islington's households have experienced crime in the past 12 months, and that 46 per cent. have experienced crime more than once. It shows that more than half of the women in the borough always or often avoid going out after dark because of fear of sexual attack or street robbery, that one quarter of the population always avoid going out after dark. It shows that more than one quarter feel unsafe in their own home and worry about their house being burgled, that the burglary rate in the borough is five times the national average, that the danger of burglary is 60 per cent. greater for black people than for white people and that women are 40 per cent. more likely to be assaulted on the streets than are men.

The survey reveals much more, but the interviewers also asked for interviewees' priorities for tackling crime. They were as follows, in order of importance: sexual attacks on women, burglary, robbery in the street, heroin, drunken driving and racist attacks. The overwhelming finding of the survey is that people are worried about burglary, robbery and assault, which people such as those whom I represent experience too often and with increasing frequency. The survey also shows that only 50 per cent. of crimes were reported to the police, and that only 3.8 per cent. of all crimes were solved by the police.

It is against that background that I shall consider the Bill. The survey reveals the problems facing my constituents and many thousands of people around the country. People are concerned about these issues. Crime and the fear of crime are going up. Confidence in the policing and detection of crime is going down. The Government ought to address such issues, but I do not believe that the Bill goes any way towards that.

The first and major charge that I make against the Government is that the Bill is, by and large—there are some minor points that I welcome—irrelevant to the issues and concerns that face many millions of people in inner-city areas.

Parts I and II are the specific provisions that concern me. They concentrate on the offences of riot and the control of demonstrations, meetings, assemblies and so on. Those parts of the Bill contain a number of new provisions for offences and powers for the police to deal with them. Many of the new offences and powers are unnecessary. The police already have at their command a wide range of powers that permit them to prevent a breach of the peace if they believe that is likely to occur or is occurring. There is little in the Bill that will improve the situation.

The Bill is an attempt by the Government to seem to be doing something about matters that worry many members of the public. In many respects the new powers suggested in the Bill, and in particular the new offence of disorderly conduct, are extremely worrying. My right hon. Friend the Member for Manchester, Gorton (Mr. Kaufman) and my hon. Friend the Member for Ipswich (Mr. Weetch), in his intervention on the subject of shopping centres in his constituency, both raised an extremely important point about which all hon. Members who represent inner-city areas are deeply conscious. Many tenants of council estates fear the congregating gangs of young people. The tenants are afraid to leave their homes and wander around their estates. That does not happen only on council estates, but that is where the problem tends to be most evident, in inner-city areas.

The Government have not got it right with their new offence of disorderly conduct. That offence will not tackle the problem on estates. That problem occurred on an estate in my constituency through three summers, causing considerable distress to many tenants. The problem has been solved under existing legislation. It was solved by close and concerted action and discussion between the tenants living on the estate, the local police and the local authority that owns the buildings. The problem has been solved by regular patrolling by the police on foot through the estate and along the walkways of the various blocks. Entry phones have been fitted in the problem blocks, and there are regular meetings between police officers and tenant representatives to discuss the priorities of policing the estate and how that should be carried out.

The measures that I have described solved the problem. A new offence, which will catch all sorts of other considerations, does not need to be brought in to solve such problems. The situation does not require a new law that gives extra powers to the police in handling and dealing with members of the public. The situation needs good, sensitive, detailed policing, in concert with local people. That policy has achieved success on the estates in my constituency and I believe that it can achieve success elsewhere.

I am also anxious about the provision in the Bill dealing with marches, demonstrations and picketing.

Mr. Hayes

The hon. Gentleman said how much he applauds contact with the police. Will he therefore take the opportunity to condemn those Labour-controlled authorities which are refusing to allow the police to enter schools?

Mr. Smith

I commend the work of my local authority, which has extremely good relations with the police who sit on the police consultation committee of which I am a member. That committee meets regularly and has extremely good relations with the police. I also commend the work which many police officers—not all—are doing in Islington in coming into contact with representatives of the local community. I believe that such contacts ought to be developed nationally.

The Bill's provisions about marches and demonstrations worry me with regard to civil liberties and the power that they give to the police. My right hon. Friend the Member for Gorton was correct to point to the fact that the conditions that can be imposed on marches and static demonstrations under the Bill are entirely at the discretion of the police. The Bill gives powers to an unelected authority to determine the way in which democratic process and democratic protest can take place. I hope that we will be able to discuss those provisions in great detail in Committee.

I should also like to make a point that has not already been made. In London the power to ban a demonstration, which throughout the rest of the country will ultimately be in the hands of the local authority, will rest with the Home Secretary. No reference need be made by any police officer or the Home Secretary to a London local authority. I shall raise this point in Committee.

Having heard the speech by the hon. Member for The Wrekin (Mr. Hawksley), I am worried that there have been proposals, particularly by the Country Landowners Association, and, as I see from some of the briefing material for the debate, supported by the Association of County Councils, to amend the law on trespass to prohibit public entrance on to private land and to make that an arrestable offence in some circumstances. The proposal from the Country Landowners Association would catch a family of four out for a stroll in the country. The Opposition will keep a careful watch on such amendments if they come forward.

There are some welcome provisions in the Bill, particularly in relation to incitement to racial hatred. However, those provisions do not go far enough and the disparity between the sentences available under part I and those proposed for the racial hatred offence make one pause for thought.

I wish that the Government would consider more seriously the proposals of my hon. Friend the Member for Leyton (Mr. Cohen) to try to deal with the major problem of racial harassment which many black and Asian families face in their homes, particularly in inner London. My hon. Friend's proposed Bill would go some of the way, and I wish that the Government would be less dismissive of his proposals than the Home Secretary was when my hon. Friend intervened during his speech.

My fear about the Bill, and particularly about the part that creates the new offence of disorderly conduct, is that it may worsen relations between the police and the community. The problem with creating new powers for the police lies in determining how they will be used. I fear that the drafting of clause 5 will ensure that police officers will be tempted to use their new powers in much the same way as they used the old sus law. The Government have denied that that is the intention, but I fear that it may happen. If it does, the Bill, far from creating order on our streets and preventing disorder, may do the precise opposite.

Order in society and the prevention of disorder rest on the acceptance by all parts of the community of the fairness of the laws and of the police officers who operate the laws. I fear that the Bill will destroy the balance. We have heard much in the debate about the necessary balance between protecting the public from disorder and ensuring fundamental freedoms and civil liberties. Of course that balance must be preserved, but I think that the Government have got it wrong.

8.12 pm
Mr. Kenneth Hind (Lancashire, West)

It would have been wrong for the Government to refuse to act on the events of the past 12 months and not to produce a Bill to deal with public order. I emphasise the words "public order", because the Bill is not a palliative for crimes of dishonesty or for individual assaults; it is a Bill about public order.

No one who witnessed the riots at Tottenhan and Brixton, the events at the Orgreave coking plant or the activities of the pickets outside pits could say that a Bill of this nature is not necessary. Home Office Ministers have my full and unreserved support in bringing forward a Bill which is necessary to deal with the evils of our time.

I am not surprised that the Labour party, along with the Liberals and the SDP, has come out against the measure. The Labour party has for years failed to tackle the problems of public order. Labour Members constantly harp on the need to keep a balance between freedom of speech, freedom of action and civil liberties. I believe that in all the circumstances the Bill more than adequately preserves that balance.

Standing behind the statements of the right hon. Member for Manchester, Gorton (Mr. Kaufman), the Opposition spokesman, are the Bernie Grants of this world. Mr. Grant today said that the report of the Metropolitan police on the Tottenhan riots was a lot of lies. Such Labour politicians make it their business to criticise the police at every opportunity and to harass chief constables—the case of Mr. Anderton in Greater Manchester is a classic example and we see similar action by Lady Simey in Liverpool.

The Bill tackles the problems of today—the riots outside the pits, the riots in the streets and the riots at football matches. It is not before time that such legislation has been brought before the House. Five new offences are created by the Bill and the law is codified. The offence of riot recognises for the first time the need to include violence towards property. That is important, and I am sure that all the Asian traders who had their shops wrecked in the Handsworth riot will be extremely grateful for that proposal.

My only criticism relates to the sentences for the new offences. I believe that the offence of violent disorder should carry a maximum sentence of seven years' imprisonment rather than five years. The maximum sentence for affray should be five years and not three years, and I should also like to see the maximum sentence for disorderly behaviour increased.

The offences have been created to meet the problems of today: riot to deal with the problems faced at Tottenham, Handsworth and Brixton; violent disorder to meet the problems of disturbances at static demonstrations and outside industrial plants; and affray to deal with the problems that the police face every Saturday night in tackling fights outside public houses and general disruption by those who have consumed too much alcohol. Despite the criticisms made about the new offence of disorderly behaviour, I welcome it. It deals with a problem with which the law has previously not been capable of dealing. Those of us who represent constituencies with large housing estates and shopping centres know the problems faced by some of our law-abiding constituents who are intimidated by gangs of youths who do not actually do anything, but who frighten people and disrupt their daily lives. The new offence is the tool which the police need to deal with that problem.

I speak from experience. I opened the newspaper one morning to find that a riot had allegedly taken place at Skelmersdale in my constituency. When I investigated the matter, I discovered that the report had no foundation. A couple of windows had been broken and a small fire had been started in a health centre, but it never amounted to anything. People who are frightened by gangs of youths on shopping parades and housing estates will welcome the new offences and realise that, far from changing the fabric of society or diminishing civil liberties, they will be a useful adjunct to the powers that the police need to keep public order.

As a lawyer, I welcome the sensible alternatives included in clause 7(3). A jury in the Crown court will be asked whether it is satisfied that the offence of riot has been proved. If it is not, it may reach an alternative verdict on the second offence in the tier, violent disorder. Where the charge is one of violent disorder, a jury can reach an alternative verdict on affray. That is a sensible, modern solution to a difficult problem.

I congratulate my hon. Friend the Minister on including in the Bill the summary offence of disorderly conduct. If a jury is satisfied that someone's behaviour has been in breach of the law, but does not meet the standards laid down for other offences, it can still find that person guilty of the summary offence—something that is usually not open to a jury. That is a means of dealing with the reprehensible behaviour that brought the person before the court. I am sure that that sensible move will be appreciated by lawyers and juries throughout the country.

With the repealing of the common law offences in clause 9, we see the end of an era. Part I brings public order offences into the 1980s. We should welcome that rather than vote against it. Conservative Members recognise that that deals with the problems of today. Yesterday's answers will not solve our problems. The public will realise that it provides a substantial answer to our difficulties.

The right hon. Member for Gorton levelled a great deal of criticism at the provisions in part II relating to processions and demonstrations. I believe that it is not unreasonable to ask the organiser of a well-prepared demonstration, whether static or otherwise, to notify, and make the necessary application to the police six days before the proposed date of a demonstration, especially as any demonstration is likely to disrupt the life of a community, particularly if it is to be held in London. Surely the public are entitled both to know and to have some say about the proposed route so that serious public order can be avoided, together with damage to property and disruption of life. Part II of the Bill is intended to deal with that.

Those who wish to organise a proper demonstration have nothing to fear from those provisions. If they have nothing to hide and do not wish to disrupt the life of a community or to incite violence, they surely cannot fear going through the proper procedures and applying to the police for permission to hold their demonstrations. Contrary to what has been said about the necessity for checks to be imposed upon the new police power, if an organiser is not satisfied with the restrictions imposed upon a demonstration, he can apply to the Queen's Bench division of the High Court for a judicial review. That will develop a body of authority and precedent to guide judges. The organiser can also call upon the existing body or authority that has guided chief constables exercising a similar power under the Public Order Act 1936.

My only criticism is that where a chief constable or local authority applies under clause 13 for a three-month order banning a certain sort of demonstration, the Bill should include the right to apply to a court for a review of the refusal. My hon. Friend the Minister can consider two or three alternatives—first, through the Crown court with circuit judges or magistrates; secondly, the High Court's judical review procedure; and, thirdly, the possibility of applying to the county court.

In view of the comments of Bernie Grant in Hackney, and my awareness, as a Member of Parliament representing an area on the edge of Liverpool, of the outpourings of Mr. Derek Hatton, who says the most peculiar things, we cannot rely on the judgment of some lunatics to decide whether demonstrations should be allowed. There must be a neutral procedure, with the law applied on a neutral basis, to cover refusals or conditions imposed on any demonstration.

I welcome the introduction of the provisions in part III to tighten the law to deal with the mean and despicable offence of racial hatred. I hope that my right hon. Friend will reconsider the sentences for that offence because I believe that they should be tougher.

Part IV deals with football hooliganism, and is probably the most important part of the Bill. It recognises that unless we do something as a community, our national game will be ruined. Incidents such as those last year at Millwall and Brussels must be tackled. Far from the provisions being a breach of civil liberty, they take the sensible course and will keep hooligans away from football matches so that they can no longer ruin the country's reputation and make the life of the communities around football grounds intolerable. The punishment must fit the crime, so it is sensible to exclude the hooligans from football matches. By driving them away from the game, we stop them from offending the public and from bringing the national game into disrepute.

Despite the criticism levelled against part IV, I believe that its provisions are the only way to deal with hooliganism at football matches. We want football once again to be a game of which we can be proud and which will bring credit to our country.

The Bill is a realistic way to bring public order law into the 1980s. I congratulate my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State and his Ministers on producing a Bill that is realistic and relevant to this period in our history. I am sure that the public will recognise that the Bill is needed and that they will support it when it becomes law.

8.28 pm
Mr. D. E. Thomas (Meirionnydd Nant Conwy)

I do not intend to respond to the rhetoric of the hon. Member for Lancashire, West (Mr. Hind), other than to speculate that some of his remarks may have brought him within the scope of clause 5 of the Bill.

This is not a public order Bill; it is about extending the control of the state over public disorder. Much of that disorder is created either directly or indirectly by the activities of the state. What must concern us in this Bill, or in any public order legislation, is the way in which both the central and local states define their responsibilities for maintaining order within society. That takes us to the central issue of the role of the state in civil society.

In their rhetoric, this Government more than any other have addressed themselves to the role of the state. Even before the Government were returned in 1979, we had long speeches about the dismantling of the strong state—the paternalistic state—and allowing people to be free from state control, state welfarism and state paternalism or maternalism. Since 1979 we have learnt that the withdrawal of the state from large areas of life and the pursuit of economic policies which mean that large sections of the population become marginalised result in disorder. The free economy advocated so strongly by the Government is followed by the creation of a strong state to maintain that free economy, as Stuart Hall has reminded us on several occasions. Therefore, we cannot separate order in civil society from social and economic disorder within the boundaries of the state or, indeed, from international disorder, which often leads to manifestations—I find the continental word better than "demonstrations"—by people against international disorder.

Therefore, we must ask whether we want to see the state assuming a more authoritarian, coercive role such as that set out by the hon. Member for Lancashire, West and other Conservative Members, or whether we believe it is possible to maintain order by the pursuit of a range of economic, social and legal policies that can result in the communities, classes and minorities within the state being able to relate to the state and not being coerced to do so. That is the central issue that most Conservative Members have been trying to avoid in the debate.

I go further than that and stress that often there is a tendency in such discussions for Conservative Members to view society in a very simplistic, indeed myopic, way. They tend to think of society as out there to be controlled by Government through their law and order policies. They do not recognise the essential interaction between the state and civil society at all levels of society and the operation of the state. Nor do they recognise that extra-parliamentary democracy or direct democracy is as much part of our lives as the politics of representational democracy that we see here in Parliament. Therefore, when we start the process of enacting legislation, as we are doing tonight, which affects the rights of individuals or groups to express their grievances, we must realise that that legislation has an important effect upon the whole of our democratic process. We must recognise that the form of legislation with which we are dealing arises directly out of the Government's failure in other areas of their policies.

It should not be seen as surprising that the groups that have been most directly affected by the economic crisis that the Government's policies have generated are those who behave in a deviant way. The Bill deals with such people—young people whose opportunities have decreased, black communities whose employment and housing prospects have declined and who find that conditions in the inner cities have deteriorated substantially, the long-term unemployed and the unemployed in general, and in particular those who live in regions that have been hard hit by the Government's policies. In 1979–80, in paragraph 28 of its report on employment opportunities, the Select Committee on Welsh Affairs stressed that there would be serious social disorder if there were to be very high and chronic levels of unemployment, particularly amongst the young. That form of disorder was exhibited during the dispute in the mining industry and in other areas. Industrial disputes are not created by pickets; they are created by the breakdown of industrial relations, and that breakdown is created by the pursuit of different objectives by the employees and employers. We must recognise that that is so in any serious consideration of social policy.

Therefore, the Bill must be seen as part of the political programme of the new Right, which, so far, is still in the ascendancy in the Government, although today's events may have an effect on that. It is part of the new Right's policy to roll back the state in every area of life except coercion and control. Members of the new Right believe in regulating the actions of those of us who go against the Government's line of policy, by increasing surveillance and control, and increasing the number of offences against public order.

One of the things that concerns me very much is the way in which, in such debates, all forms of dissent and deviant behaviour are lumped together. The Home Secretary did it again this afternoon when he seemed to link those who dissent from or demonstrate against Government policy with all other forms of criminal behaviour. Dissenters and demonstrators are lumped together as deviants and potential delinquents. There is a wrapping up of demonstrations and manifestations of public concern—which is what demonstrations are—with other forms of criminal activity. That has been done in the reports of chief police officers and many press statements by the so-called law and order lobby.

In the community where I come from, processions and assemblies are a regular part of our life. Under the Bill, a procession or assembly is potentially a serious disruption of the life of the community, but in the Wales and inner city areas that I know it would be strange if manifestations did not take place. Resistance is often part of the life of the community, because the community is often threatened by the policies of economic and social disorder.

I appreciate that some Conservative Members cannot take that. They should understand that in representing that point of view I am speaking for the community that I come from.

Mr. Hind

Does the hon. Gentleman agree that under the Bill the processions to which he refers will have no problem, but the National Front march that is likely to disrupt a predominantly black community will be banned and dealt with suitably? Therefore, can he not see the purpose towards which that part of the Bill is directed?

Mr. Thomas

All of us who oppose the Bill have been arguing that powers already exist to control such potential disorder. We do not require this form of public order legislation to do so.

It concerns me that the definition and control of different forms of manifestations will be a matter for the police. I refer to clauses 11 and 14. For example, clause 14(2) says: The senior police officer may give directions imposing on the persons organising or taking part in the assembly any conditions which prescribe the place at which the assembly may be … held, its maximum duration, or the maximum number of persons who may constitute it'". When I asked the Home Secretary about that issue during his speech, he denied that it was a major qualitative change in the right of assembly. Surely, if the right of assembly is to be demarcated entirely by the police officers at the assembly, that is a major change. We know what is likely to happen with the Police and Criminal Evidence Act. We remember that the code of practice issued under the Employment Act 1980 referred to a recommended number of six people on a picket line, and it was for the police to decide, taking into account all the circumstances, whether the number of pickets at any particular place was likely to lead to a breach of the peace. The experience in the mining industry dispute in South Wales was that the police took that figure as the maximum and quoted the civil law as though it had criminal authority. The same will undoubtedly apply to the discretion on numbers, lime, place and route. Those matters will be left exclusively in the hands of the police. If there is to be advance reporting of demonstrations, we need to look again at the possibility of it being on the basis of what happened in Scotland. It ought not to be on the basis that is provided for in the Bill. The police will become the arbiter of the right of people to manifest their views. This represents a serious change in liberty of assembly and police powers.

Other aspects of civil disorder are not covered by the Bill. It contains no provision to cover the kind of deplorable incident that took place this weekend in Carmarthen. On Sunday I visited Sue Pitman in hospital. She was injured by an employee of the private army, if I may so call it, or private security firm that is being used by Carmarthen district council to protect its public property against non-violent demonstrations—which may involve trespass—against the council's decision to implement the Home Office's policy on civil defence.

I am glad that the Minister of State, the hon. Member for Pudsey (Mr. Shaw), is on the Treasury Bench, as he is the Minister who is in charge of this policy. His colleague and friend, Mr. Eric Alley, has been visiting Welsh local authorities trying to get them into line with the Government's policy on civil defence. Carmarthen district council stands against the nuclear-free policy of Dyfed. The result is that there have been manifestations of feeling in the locality. On Saturday that manifestation resulted in serious injury to a non-violent person, Sue Pitman. I have known her for many years as a member of the peace movement. She would have shown no violence at all in her conduct at that demonstration. The police should have been there to maintain order and to protect the lives of people who were involved in a non-violent demonstration. If we are serious about public order, we need to be serious about the use of private security firms to protect property, as happened in Carmarthen.

The Bill does not represent a serious attempt to face up to the nature and causes of disorder in our society. It is part of the rhetorical flourish of this Government in defence of their economic and social policies. There is no need for the Opposition to predict what the result of that policy will be. It will create further disorder. The state will then seek further powers of repression. The spiral of repression will be increased. The victims will be those who are least able to bear the brunt of the Government's economic policies and the civil liberties which supposedly were part of the British liberal tradition when that tradition was still alive.

8.43 pm
Mr. Robert Key (Salisbury)

This Bill is essentially about the right to go about one's lawful business, and about the legal right of enjoyment. We have heard much about the desire for peaceful streets, which I completely endorse. It may be true that 80 per cent. of the population live in towns, but 80 per cent. of the land area of this country provides the working and living environment for the rest of us. Change must be steadily and carefully considered, as I believe that it has been in the preparation of the Bill. My right hon. Friend the Home Secretary said earlier this afternoon that there has been no shortage of legal powers but that there has been a shortage of enforcement powers. Therefore, the common law has been revised and codified.

Hon. Members have said that people are frightened to open their front doors. Reference has also been made to the problems caused by alarm, harassment and distress. One of the Bill's purposes is to prevent the disruption of the life of the community. The hon. Member for Meirionnydd Nant Conwy (Mr. Thomas) referred to the problems that he believes face the peace movement. As a direct result of the activities of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament and Cruise Watch in my constituency there has been a massive closure of traditional rights of way across Salisbury plain. Local inhabitants have thus been deprived of the age-old and traditional rights which they have enjoyed, despite the fact that Salisbury plain is an important military training area. Only the intervention of these outsiders has caused that deprivation.

The hon. Member for Caithness and Sutherland (Mr. Maclennan) believes that the Bill's proposals are unjustified. His constituency is almost as beautiful as mine, but that beauty and tranquillity is not so threatened as it is in my constituency.

There are a number of areas of threatening action. I regret very much that the first comes from animal liberation and animal rights groups. I welcome the establishment of police unit co-ordination to pool information on dangerous and misguided acts. That is of direct relevance to the Bill. Militant animal welfarists, and others, increasingly trespass en masse on to farms, intending to cause injury to the occupiers and damage to the property. No effective remedy is available to the farmer unless he can identify which person in the group caused the injury or the damage, despite the fact that all those present deliberately entered his land and property.

The difficulty under the present law lies in being able to identify the offenders. Often they come to farms under the cover of darkness or they threaten a farmer and his family. This happened recently in my constituency. It causes farmers to fear for their safety. Clause 4 will therefore replace section 5 of the Public Order Act 1936, as amended. It will make it an offence to use threatening, abusive, or insulting words or behaviour in a private as well as a public place. This will be only of limited help. Similarly the new controls that will be available to the police concerning the imposition of conditions relating to demonstrations will be of assistance only in those very rare cases where a warning is given beforehand of the intention to hold a demonstration, such as an animal rights demonstration.

The Bill will have an immediate impact upon mass poaching and illegal hare coursing in rural areas. I have received a large number of representations about this from farmers and their families and from members of the public. Recently I received a letter from a farmer who pointed out that in general he tries to encourage the public to walk the footpaths, both public and private, on his farm, in the hope that while they enjoy their walk they will discourage the small percentage of unwelcome visitors from visiting their property. However, the problem with the mass poachers and the illegal hare coursers is that they frighten innocent people away to such an extent that a kind of no-go area is being created in parts of southern rural England. This is serious because of its economic implications for farmers. Farmers complain to me about the number of ewes that are becoming barren because of persistent dog worrying. Furthermore, a great deal of damage has been done to beef cattle because they have been chased by dogs. One farmer wrote to me and suggested that many of these people have no respect for people, property or livestock. He pointed out that farmers have had to mount special patrols to keep an eye on their livestock.

Mr. Douglas Hogg

This is a most interesting point, but I am not at all clear what part of the Bill is likely to meet the problem that my hon. Friend is describing.

Mr. Key

If my hon. Friend will have the patience that we showed when we listened to his earlier interventions, he will find out.

The farmer was concerned because three types of sporting activity were involved: the desire to blood lurchers on hares ready for deer coursing, placing large bets on the ability of individual dogs to catch hares, and the blooding of dogs for the track. I have pursued, as far as I can, all of these cases. My inquiries led me to the National Greyhound Racing Club. Its response was that there was nothing in my complaints which gave rise to evidence that these people came from greyhound racing, but that they may be connected with the sport of coursing which uses greyhounds to chase live hares. On the advice of the National Greyhound Racing Club I took up the matter with the National Coursing Club on 6 December, but I regret to say that I have not heard from them.

The reason why this is all important and of relevance to the Bill is that the police are worried about their inability, because of the state of the present law, to cope with this problem. The chief constable of Wiltshire is reported in the Western Gazette on 10 January as saying that already there are reports of people being injured by trespassers. He suspects that it will not be long before somebody says that people have been killed by trespassers. I shall write to my hon. Friend about that and I hope that he will undertake to look into the problem of illegal coursing and mass poaching as a matter of urgency.

Another area of particular relevance to south Wiltshire is the Stonehenge festival. This is not a sudden matter. The Bill has been carefully prepared and is not a rushed or panic response. On 10 November 1983 I initiated an Adjournment debate on travelling people and the build up of the Stonehenge festival which has taken place over some 10 years. I am glad to say that that debate was replied to by my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary in his previous incarnation in the Home Office. I said: The law is a living thing and must surely change to meet the changing needs of society … Above all, the rule of law must be seen to apply to all the people all the time. If the Government fail to act now, we will see an unwelcome increase in the trail of disorder and unhappiness spreading across the country from Haverfordwest and Brecon through Glastonbury to Stonehenge, Greenham Common, Norwich and Leicester, to Cambridgeshire, Sussex and Kent."—[Official Report, 10 November 1983; Vol. 48, c. 514.] The Bill is a response which has been developing over many years and I welcome it.

In the community which faces these problems in rural Wiltshire there is much debate. In a recent editorial in the Salisbury Journal under the heading "Muddle at the Stones" the editor wrote: the Stonehenge festival story will complete its transformation from a crowd of scruffy dope smokers making a nuisance of themselves in a Wiltshire field to a major civil rights issue. He said that the way of avoiding that was to allow the National Trust and English Heritage to have a controlled festival on the old site and that that required the swallowing of pride and the recognition that thousands of young people want there to be a festival. He said: It does not mean that they would be caving in to anarchy but it would be a way of reducing the influence of the Convoy. That is all very well, but it shows the crucial misunderstanding of the problem of public order—that we can live in a peaceful society only when there is consent to do so on all sides. Unfortunately, in the case of Stonehenge there has been a lack of good will on at least one of the sides for many years.

In a report in The Times on 4 January 1986 the environment correspondent said: one of the co-ordinators of the hippy convoy which annually visits Stonehenge for the summer solstice festival gave a warning of 'a month of aggravation in June'. The convoy co-ordinator went on to say that the festival would definitely go ahead in June on a larger scale than last year. There would also be a similar, smaller festival at the summer and autumn equinoxes and at the winter solstice. 'They will have four headaches instead of one'. I must make it clear that every effort has been made to find a solution to the problem which will not involve the use of police or indeed the use of the law. Consultations on management versus confrontation were at an advanced stage two years ago. I visited California to learn about the American techniques of policing pop festivals which involved management, not confrontation. But it comes back to the fact that there is no reason why a considerable group of people should meet outside the law. The rule of law in our democratic society must surely be paramount. Many attempts have been made over the years to establish an organised festival. Indeed, that has openly been said to be unworkable and unwelcome by the festival goers who are self-confessed anarchists and fellow travellers.

I am sorry that the hon. Member for Holborn and St. Pancras (Mr. Dobson), who I fought in the 1979 election, is not here. I had meant to tell him that I intended to mention that he told me that when he was leader of Camden council in the 1970s and dealing with the squatter problem in Camden it was with the same personnel who are now involved in this public disorder.

The problem of a controlled festival is that the peace convoy people have said clearly to me that even if there were a controlled and organised festival they would not attend it but still seek to have their own unlawful festival.

I know that the hon. Member for Hammersmith (Mr. Soley) has been deeply concerned in the issue, and last June we had several talks about it. Ever since we first served together in Committee we have enjoyed friendly relations, but we fell out over this issue because he did not perceive the problem at the time that people were not willing to co-operate.

Mr. Clive Soley (Hammersmith)

The hon. Gentleman is giving a one-sided view. It was he who changed sides. Initially, he was prepared to say that there were many people on the other side, as he has now defined it, who were willing to co-operate and make arrangements. English Heritage under Lord Montagu are not exactly innocent in all this. In fact, there are many sides to the argument. If there were not so many sides God would not have invented lawyers.

Mr. Key

That precisely illustrates the problem. Up to last year English Heritage and the National Trust were prepared to see that festival happen. Therefore, it was the duty of all those who had any influence to try to make it happen with the minimum of disruption and law breaking. That was what we were trying to do. The only people who can do anything about lawlessness and trespassing are the landowners and the police. The Government do not have a direct role. It is the landowners who decide whether they wish to go to the High court and the police who have to enforce the injunctions. There was no question of my changing sides; it was a question of the ground shifting underneath us. That was the problem as I perceived it.

Mr. Soley

The hon. Gentleman must acknowledge that many members of the Conservative party in Salisbury wrote to me to complain about what was happening, the style of policing and what happened on that day. He knows that because he has seen the letters.

Mr. Key

No, I have not seen those letters. I would be grateful if the hon. Gentleman would show them to me. That is the first that I have heard of them.

The Bill will not deal with the problem of festivals. The offence of trespass is particularly difficult to cope with and the Bill tries to address some of the problems surrounding it.

I want to take to task the hon. Member for Islington, South and Finsbury (Mr. Smith) who said that the Country Landowners Association had produced unacceptable proposals. The CLA has made representations on the Bill to the Government and it has consulted widely with various organisations, including rambling, mountaineering and other similar bodies. Unfortunately, those bodies have been in opposition because they have mistakenly seen the proposals as an attempt to exclude members of the public from the lawful use and enjoyment of rural land. That is not the case. The CLA is not trying to prevent or discourage people from the lawful use of the land, and nor does its proposals relate to accidental trespass. In fact, the latest position is that the Association of County Councils, English Heritage and the CLA have produced a common position and they hope that they will be able to influence the Government to include a new clause so that an assembly, in the words of the agreed statement, of three or more persons, but, in the specific request of the CLA, six persons, on any land which is wholly or partly open to the air, (not being a public place) shall be deemed to be a public assembly for the purposes of this Part if the assembly of those persons is without the consent of the person entitled to occupation of that land". I do not believe that, on either side of the House, Members are against pop festivals or agaist the use of rural land by the majority of people. After all, some 75 pop festivals were held in the countryside last year, and 39 in London. The vast majority of them caused little trouble. History teaches us the folly of forcing opposition underground. We alienate young people at our peril. They have so much to offer and they are the future. However, that does not absolve us from upholding our responsibilities to the rule of law, which has evolved over more than 1,000 years.

Until there is reciprocal goodwill on both sides—I hope that goodwill will prevail—English Heritage and the National Trust will be obliged to seek the protection of the law, and the police will be obliged to enforce it. Therefore, Parliament must ensure that the law-abiding are properly protected and that law, which is a living thing, is properly updated and continues to guarantee the rule of law under which the majority of our people will wish to live and which protects their rights. I support the Bill.

8.58 pm
Mr. Alex Carlile (Montgomery)

As we debate the Bill we see on the face of the nation two particular expressions of which we should take special note. The first is the expression of disorder, which we see demonstrated by the rising level of crime. The second is that of frustration which we see in the rising level of protest against Government and the authority. In those two expressions we see a challenge of which we should take note. It is a challenge to reconcile certain freedoms, which all hon. Members should regard as important.

First and foremost, the public would rightly say that we must ensure the freedom to be able to walk our streets in peace and enjoy our homes in quietness. Secondly, the public would agree, rather more readily than many Conservative Members sometimes think, that we must struggle to maintain the freedom of members of the public, individually and in groups, from arbitrariness and injustice, whether imposed by the Government, the police, local authorities or any other form of authority.

The public hold dear, as a matter of tradition and expectation, the freedom to make peaceful and orderly protest against Government and public authority. They rightly hold dear their freedom not to be intimidated and not to be disturbed gratuitously by those who step far over the mark of acceptable public order.

It is beyond any doubt that the old common law public order offences need to be revised, codified and put in order. However, there will need to be a great deal of improvement to this Bill before it can be said to achieve that end and before it can be said to achieve the balance between an acceptable level of authority and authoritarianism. Whereas the latter is never acceptable, I hope that all of us agree that an acceptable level of authority is necessary.

I turn now to what I regard as the most important part of the Bill, at least from the practical everyday point of view of the administration of justice. I refer to part I, which deals with such offences as that of riot. There is no doubt that the old common law offences were very much in need of rationalisation and reform. However, the Bill is a prolongation of the reliance of the police and the courts upon unspecified and, really, inchoate offences. Those of us who have practised in the criminal courts of England and Wales know full well that juries are often extremely reluctant to convict of such offences. They are particularly unprepared to convict of these offences where such specific charges as assault, wounding or criminal damage would have been available. They are also influenced by the penalties that they know are available—penalties are much better known to the general public than they used to be—if the defendant is found guilty.

It is counterproductive and much more than unhelpful to impose draconian maximum penalties which may well be out of proportion to the conduct complained of. One of my major misgivings about clause 1, which creates the offence of riot, is that there are forms of conduct which, if not trivial, might be regarded on a balanced view as relatively minor, and which nevertheless could attract in theory the maximum penalty of life imprisonment. No sensible judge will impose a life sentence for such conduct, but a jury does not know that when it is trying a case. For one reason or another the jury may think that because the judge's summing up is a little pro-prosecution, as it occasionally is, he will pass a tough sentence if the jury records a conviction. The approach shown in clause 1, particularly in the provision of a maximum life sentence, will create precisely that type of practical problem. Do we really want a maximum life sentence for an inchoate, unspecific offence?

There is a real danger that a person using minimal violence, for example a push or a nudge, will, under the terms of clause 1, be liable to a maximum sentence of life imprisonment. The definition of violence contained in clause 8 is circuitous, and of the sort that causes immense humour in the lecture room of first or second-year at law school, but does little to specify the type of violence that should be subject to criminal sanction and condign punishment.

Under clause 1, in certain circumstances a dozen lively students throwing tomatoes at an Education Minister visiting their student union just after a grant cut could be guilty of riot, and subject to a maximum of life imprisonment. A dozen mothers pushing or shoving at the chairman of an education committee outside a nursery school which is facing cuts could be liable to the maximum sentence of life imprisonment. Those would be ludicrous consequences.

The most effective demonstration that I ever saw consisted of a large number of mothers with their prams and pushchairs walking backwards and forwards across the A41 trunk road between Chester and Birkenhead because the previous day a child had had an accident there. They wanted a pedestrian crossing, and their demands had been ignored for years. If they were pushing their prams into a policeman of reasonable firmness who was afraid for his safety, they could be guilty of the offence of riot under clause 1.

The Government have the measure of the offence wrong. A life sentence should be available only for the most terrible crimes, but that is not what is provided for in the Bill. In a lesser way, violent disorder and affray, which are equally inchoate offences, give rise to the same problems, as each provides for a severe maximum sentence for the crime concerned.

Regarding the offence of disorderly conduct in clause 5, I do not propose to rehearse what my hon. Friend the Member for Caithness and Sutherland (Mr. Maclennan) read to the House from the White Paper. The Government have turned the White Paper's arguments on their head. I do not understand why, despite the careful efforts of the Home Secretary to explain. It is important for our busy and sometimes oppressed police force, and for the public, that we should keep out of the criminal calendar conduct which does not deserve a criminal sanction in a reasonable and reasonably robust society. I hope that we believe that we should be living in a reasonable and reasonably robust society. If so, we should recognise that clause 5 seeks to apply criminal sanctions to what should not be criminal offences.

I am concerned at the broad application of clause 5 to dwellings. It does not apply if both parties concerned are in a dwelling; but it applies, for example, to an argument over the garden fence between two neighbours who disagree about who should pick the apples from an encroaching apple tree. Surely that should not come within the scope of criminal law.

One of the key problems of public order is that the rights of peaceful protest and assembly, which, together with freedom of speech, form the basis of the right of political dissent, exist under current law only in the negative sense. There is, for example, no defined legal right to demonstrate or to attend a meeting, yet those freedoms are a crucial part of the relationship between the Government and the people. I believe that we shall never create a satisfactory law to deal with processions and assemblies until we state those rights in positive form in a Bill of Rights or something similar.

When faced with the one option offered to us—provisions of the present statutory type—we must ensure that the measure does not go further than is reasonable. Seven days' notice is too long. It is rightly said that spontaneity is sometimes the essence of a demonstration which is in the public interest. The right to apply for judicial review is an inadequate protection against an incorrect and unfair decision by the police because an application for judicial review under order 53 of the rules of the Supreme Court does not generally come before the court during the period in which one would want to have the meeting or procession. I join those hon. Members who have called for a right to apply to the county court judge in the local summary civil court for a review of the merits of the decision to prohibit a meeting or impose conditions. Certainly, a summary procedure is required to enable a review on the merits of a meeting to take place.

I shall make some final and brief points in an effort to let at least one Conservative hon. and learned Member participate. I welcome the provisions in part III, which deals with racial matters and harassment. Religious groups have not been included. Some of the worst oppression and harassment this century in Britain and the world has been against various religious groups. I ask the Home Secretary to consider whether, by a simple drafting amendment, religious groups can be included in part III.

I turn now to football exclusion orders. If it were possible to have a practicable system of membership cards, football ground exclusion orders would work well, but without them the system would be absolute nonsense. That type of law brings the law itself into disrepute because it is unenforceable. It may do a great deal for the false beard and moustache industry, but it will not do anything to protect us as it was intended to do. The sanction is imposed at the wrong time. Those who have been excluded but break the exclusion order and go to a football match will probably—this is human nature—behave well when they go to a match in breach of the exclusion order. Thus they may in fact be sentenced to imprisonment after going to a football ground and behaving well. The emphasis should be upon the court which deals with them for the original offence passing a sentence sufficiently severe to ensure that they do not do it again. I hope that when the Bill comes back to the House we shall see that this part has been radically altered if not removed from the Bill altogether.

9.14 pm
Mr. Nicholas Lyell (Mid-Bedfordshire)

I am pleased to have a brief opportunity to welcome a Bill to modernise the law on public order. When it has been through a constructive Standing Committee, it will be a worthy successor to six years of useful law reform under this Government.

I am confident that the Bill passes the test which requires a balanced legal framework in which the police have the powers necessary to prevent and deal with public order, while freedom of speech and the liberty to protest continue to be safeguarded.

I wish to make two brief points. The first relates to marches and demonstrations. It is 50 years since the Public Order Act 1936 was passed, and it is fair to say that London today has become the demonstration capital of the world. On average there has been a major demonstration—one involving more than 100 police in attendance—every week over the past several years. The great majority are peaceful, but not all. If such demonstrations are to go off peacefully, they require careful organisation, not just for the sake of the public, but for the marchers. The Bill's proposals are sensible, because they merely require organisers to do what most reasonable organisers are already doing.

The power to impose conditions on static demonstrations or assemblies is a logical and necessary development in view of the disorders, not just during the miners' strike, but of the past 10 years. One can remember Grunwick and Warrington as well as the miners' strike.

We hear much from the Left about the right to work, but it is wrong that under the cloak of freedom of assembly those who truly wish to go to work should be prevented by threats to life and limb from an organised mob, with the police able only to keep a way open by linking arms and struggling against it, while those who plan and organise it, or who continue to take part, contrary to police directions, should be untouchable.

Disorderly conduct has attracted a great deal of attention in the press and during the debate. I believe that a skilful formulation has been achieved. The wording that the offender has reasonable cause to believe that the use of the words or behaviour is likely to harass, alarm or distress another person does not merely leave the matter to the police officer's subjective judgment, but causes the court to consider whether the offender knew that what he was doing was thoroughly unreasonable and unpleasant to other people.

It is right that we should seek to protect the elderly and the defenceless against cruel harassment such as occurs in too many flats and housing estates. It is not fair to expect such victims to go to court. Although there may be some risk that the offence could be used unreasonably by some police officers, the answer is not to deprive the community of the necessary protection or the police of the necessary powers. The answer lies, as is increasingly happening, in the good training of young police officers and the inculcation of and insistence upon high standards throughout the force.

I have been lucky enough—or unlucky enough—to be a member of the Standing Committee on almost every major law and order Bill during the past six years. I see the right hon. Member for Manchester, Gorton (Mr. Kaufman), which shows that it will be a pleasure once again if I am lucky enough to be selected for this Standing Committee. No such Bill arrives fully fledged on the statute book. All Home Office draftsmen will probably draft restrictively, on the basis that it is easier to give away than it is to recoup.

This is a well balanced Bill. It helps the maintenance of normal public order, while preserving the principle of peaceful protest. I believe that it will protect and enhance the liberty of our society as a whole. I wish it well and, after a constructive Committee stage, a safe path to the statute book.

9.19 pm
Mr. Clive Soley (Hammersmith)

It is a pleasure to begin by welcoming my hon. Friend the newly elected Member for Tyne Bridge (Mr. Clelland), who made a well-structured speech. I sat on the Committee that dealt with the abolition of the Greater London council and the metropolitan counties with his predecessor, Mr. Harry Cowans, whom we all greatly miss. Harry made a great contribution to that Bill and I am sure that my hon. Friend the Member for Tyne Bridge will be welcome in Committee, should the Bill receive a Second Reading, to follow through the arguments that he put so well tonight.

Following what my hon. Friend the Member for Tyne Bridge and other hon. Members have said, the Bill must be seen in the context of the disastrous failure of the Government's law and order policy. My right hon. Friend the Member for Manchester, Gorton (Mr. Kaufman) was absolutely right to link that failure to the crime rate. The Government were elected in 1979 and in 1983 on a get-tough policy to deal with crime. They got tough. Britain has more people in prison than any other country, except Turkey. However, the policy has been a disastrous, embarrassing and frightening failure for many people in Britain. The problem is not only one of rising crime. There have been riots of a number, nature and intensity that this country has not seen for more than 100 years—all that from the law and order Government. That is what makes people so angry about Bills such as this, which have nothing to do with the causes of those riots. If the Government were serious, they would do something about the causes.

Some factors would have caused problems for any Government. The first is the move from the inner cities to the country and, to some extent, to the suburban areas. That move reverses the trend of the previous 100 years. What the Government have done that has been so wicked and that has had such a devastating effect is to rip the sticking plaster off the inner-city areas by making devastating cuts in public expenditure.

The Government have created long-term youth unemployment, which, with the ripping apart of the fabric of the social structure of the inner cities, is a deadly combination. What occurs is a rise in what I prefer to call the alternative economy instead of the black economy. It is an alternative to the existing economic system, which has broken down. In that context, people work while drawing social security benefit, they steal and engage in drug dealing, but the crucial factor is the style of policing. The majority of police convictions are obtained through information from the public. As that information dries up, the police must resort to more desperate measures to get evidence to obtain convictions. They do so by stop-and-search techniques, which have been used before, or by breaking into houses and flats, which has happened recently.

The police are not the cause of the problems, but they are frequently the trigger. For that reason, my right hon. Friend the Member for Gorton was right to quote the Police Federation as saying that the police do not want to be seen as "Maggie Thatcher's boot boys". We must do something to take the police out of the front line, but the Bill puts them right back into it.

Under the previous Home Secretary, the Government's response was to make even tougher noises and to try to use the police as a private army. He recommended hanging to his party conference, but was happily got off that hook by his Back Benchers, who persuaded him to vote for hanging for terrorists only. That was the most stupid thing for which to vote.

The present Home Secretary has a more sophisticated approach. He knows what some of the problems are, and he is trying to do an about-turn. There was that bizarre conference at Downing street last week, which involved two or three hours' discussion, with 50 people speaking for three minutes each. That was all they got. Many of the things said there were already known. Indeed, most of them were packaged and were being carried out by Labour-controlled authorities before their finances were cut.

If the Home Secretary believes in what he said at Downing street last week, I challenge him to give a guarantee now that any local authority that funds a crime prevention policy or a victim support scheme will not be rate capped or cut when that is taken into account. Let him give another guarantee that all the crime prevention and victim support schemes that were paid for by the GLC and the metropolitan authorities will be restored in full to all those local authorities. If they are not, they will become meaningless.

The Secretary of State's handout talked about 1.3 million houses needing special measures to help to make them secure from burglars. The cost will be about £500 million. Where will the money come from? Will the local authorities have to pay it? But they will be rate capped, so that is not on. The Home Secretary is in the deadly position of trying to introduce a policy in which he believes, but which the Prime Minister will not allow him to carry out. Unless he takes action similar to that taken by the previous Secretary of State for Defence, I suspect that the Secretary of State will become a meaningless and sad figure trying to deliver a policy which he knows is right but for which money will not be made available.

The Government's law and order policy has failed because of their savage attack on our economic and social structure. More seriously, the Government are now engaged in an equally savage attack on the basic democratic rights of our people.

Mr. Lyell

indicated dissent.

Mr. Soley

The hon. and learned Gentleman might shake his head, but he cannot have considered the detail of the Bill. He had better understand it, because ultimately it will affect his people just as much as it affects ours. The people will be angry about the Bill. The Bill says that the police will decide whether a demonstration or assembly should be allowed at certain places or along certain routes, and will determine the numbers, if they believe that disorder, damage, disruption or intimidation is likely. The use of the word "disruption" is most dangerous to democracy. We are talking about comparing the right to go shopping with the right to express one's feelings in a demonstration. We must consider that carefully.

One matter that troubled me greatly was paragraph 4.22 on page 27 of the White Paper, which said: The Committee therefore suggested an additional test which would enable the police to impose conditions on a procession in order to prevent serious disruption to the normal life of the community. The normal life of a democratic community involves the right of assembly and the right to demonstrate. If we remove that, we remove one of the roots of democracy.

Evidence was given to that Select Committee by the Association of Chief Police Officers, which expressed similar views and went on to say that the disruption could be the dislocation of bus services. We do not need demonstrations to do that. The Secretary of State for Transport does it far better than any marcher or demonstrator could. That is usually perfectly lawful, although the Secretary of State for Transport has been before the courts once or twice. Perhaps I should offer my services, as a former probation officer. We can all make one mistake, but two or three in a row suggest a tendency towards recidivism.

The point is that Walter Bagehot is alive and well. The concept of the efficient and decorative parts of the constitution, about which Walter Bagehot warned the country so many years ago, still applies strongly. We can bring all of London to a halt for visiting dignitaries from overseas or for the lord mayor's show, but people dare not go out on the streets to demonstrate their feelings, anxieties or anger about a political, economic or social policy. That is the difference, and that is why I say to the hon. and learned Member for Mid-Bedfordshire (Mr. Lyell) that the Bill is dangerous.

At times, we believe that the only part of democracy that matters is the representative part, when we come here and speak on behalf of the people. That is a vital part, because it gives the medium and long-term expression of people's views, and sometimes the short-term, too, but when people are deeply angry about something they must be able to express their views, whether they relate to a school crossing, as the hon. and learned Member for Montgomery (Mr. Carlile) said, or to much more important affairs of state. The Government are closing a safety valve on democracy. If they go down that road they can make the police impose any conditions, and we might end up like the Poles or the South Africans. The people will reject that absolutely.

Government Members have ignored the fact that all the clauses make it clear that the most senior police officer present at a demonstration or assembly can decide the numbers and the route. That most senior police officer might be only a constable.

Clause 14 outlaws picketing, which can be regarded as a dangerous activity. A police constable, or the most senior police officer present, can limit numbers and move people away from an area. That means that the police can determine how people picket, how many are allowed to picket, and so on. The police should be determining whether an offence has been committed and by their presence deter an offence. That is what the police want to do.

It is interesting to see how the Government's policy has changed. My right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Aberavon (Mr. Morris) drew my attention to the Government's Green Paper on trade union immunities, which flies in the face of the Bill. On secondary picketing, it says: to stop everyone from entering a given area would mean creating areas where, if only temporarily, the right of passage along the highway and the right of free speech for the purpose of peacefully communicating and persuading no longer applied. Moreover, whatever the details of the proposal, it would again seem that the services of the police were being enlisted or behalf of the employer. The Government accepted that. Why do they not accept it now? Why have they gone back on what they said in their Green Paper and their response to it?

The police are being put right in the front line. What will happen when a police officer says "I think there are too many people here and I want some of you to go away"? That is emotive. People feel strongly. Several thousand people might be present, or only several hundred, and a police officer will have to tell some of them to go away. The Home Secretary says that the police can do that already. Perhaps they can, but the Bill gives legal power, backed up by sanctions, which will make the problem worse. That is why the Labour party is making it clear that we expect people to have a special, defined right to demonstrate and assemble.

If we do not have that, we shall end up before the Strasbourg court again. What will happen when people who want to demonstrate are not allowed to do so and they go to Strasbourg? I am becoming fed up, because we have a marvellous reputation under previous Labour, Tory and Liberal Governments for human and democratic rights. Today, Britain is brought before that court more often than any other country in western Europe. What is happening to our reputation under this Government?

Even if one accepts that the conditions are necessary—I am not convinced that they are—the case for the conditions being decided by the police does not exist, not even in the interests of the police. The police should not be dragged into the political arena, and they do not want to be. They do not want to decide whether a demonstration should take place, which route it should take or how many people should be there. Such decisions should be made by an elected authority, if we decide to go along that road, so that those who are prevented from carrying out their democratic rights can complain to elected representatives. Such decisions should not be made by the police.

The hon. Member for Westminster, North (Mr. Wheeler) told us that it was important to put riot in its proper perspective. He told us also that riot was an extremely serious offence. The hon. and learned Member for Montgomery adduced some good arguments on that score. The hon. Member for Westminster, North seems to forget that under the Bill a riot can consist of 12 people threatening to fight one another at a private party. For that, the Government are proposing to introduce a maximum sentence of life imprisonment. The hon. and learned Member for Montgomery is probably right, inasmuch as the courts will not normally impose such a sentence. However, it will jack up—the hon. Member for Westminster, North, being an ex-prison governor, should know this better than anyone else—prison sentences, because for any serious offence of that nature a long sentence will be imposed.

I have a specific question for the Home Secretary to which I hope the Minister of State will respond. In answer to an intervention by the right hon. and learned Member for Warrington, South (Mr. Carlisle), the Home Secretary said that the courts would decide what were prescribed football matches. The Bill does not provide for that. We are told in clauses 29(4) and 31 that the Home Secretary will make the prescriptions. First, I should like to know whether my interpretation is correct. Secondly, will the Home Secretary be prescribing World Cup matches? Will they be included?

Like the 1936 Act, the Bill has been introduced theoretically to deal with racism. We welcome the provisions that deal with racism as far as they go, but they do not go anywhere near far enough. I am left wondering why the consent of the Attorney-General has to be given before a prosecution can be initiated. Racism is not an excuse for taking away the democratic rights of the people. There is a problem of racism in Britain—a desperately serious one—and it is one to which we must address ourselves. At times of economic distress there is a search for scapegoats, and scapegoats are often minority ethnic groups.

If we are to tackle that problem, the Government should initiate and support a campaign against racism. They should not produce a Bill whose overall effect is to undermine democratic rights while pretending that they are dealing with racism, when in fact they are not. My hon. Friend the Member for Leyton (Mr. Cohen) raised an important argument when he said that the Government should do far more to deal with racism.

The Government are attacking basic democratic rights, dragging the police into the political arena and ignoring the very problems that have been the focus for the Bill. Until there is some understanding of the Socialist principle of more equity between the distribution of wealth and power, the riots that have broken out on our streets will continue to distort the fabric of our society. As the social survey trends showed recently, as the rich become richer, the poor become poorer and unemployment increases, we can expect more disorder and more crime.

As long as the Government go down the dangerous road of trying to use the police to cope with the consequences of a disastrously failed social and economic policy, so the problems of the police on the street will become increasingly difficult. As a result, the people will become increasingly frightened about their welfare. The sad feature is that minority groups will be the first to be picked on; they are in the front line when it comes to racism.

This is a bad Bill and it represents a lost opportunity. So many things could have been done to codify properly common law offences. So much could have been done to improve the law in this area generally. The Government have chosen to ignore the problem and to carry out an attack on the democratic rights of the people of this nation in a way that will undermine their rights of assembly and demonstration in a manner that we have not seen this century, and I include in that my comments on the 1936 Act.

9.38 pm
The Minister of State, Home Office (Mr. Giles Shaw)

May I commence my response to this debate by referring to the elegant and eloquent maiden speech by the hon. Member for Tyne Bridge (Mr. Clelland). I wish to associate with the remarks made by those on this side of the House and say that we do indeed carry a warm respect for his predecessor the late Harry Cowans. Harry Cowans was a much beloved figure here—a man of great charm and character.

The hon. Member for Tyne Bridge spoke well and spoke with experience and as a dedicated representative of that grand part of the world. As leader of the council in Gateshead, his knowledge is that of somebody whose roots are in his constituency. We wish him well and we look forward to his further contributions in our debates in the future.

The hon. Member used the phrase "prevention is better than cure." I suspect that it is in the context of prevention that we seek to discuss the Public Order Bill. Before turning to the personal contributions made, I would like to say that we considered matters in this Bill carefully and over a considerable period, as my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State made clear this afternoon.

We recognise and expect—indeed hon. Members on all sides have stressed this—that these matters deserve the most thorough examination that Parliament can afford. I look forward to the detailed discussions in Committee. We are dealing here with issues which lie at the heart of a free society: with the rights of people to live their lives peacefully and free from violence and intimidation. We believe that we have got the balance right. But it would be wrong for me to pretend to the House that the Bill is perfect. Certainly our minds are not closed to improvements.

Widespread support has been expressed for the changes in the racial discrimination provisions and there has been considerable support for the exclusion orders. However, I notice that there are some problems. The rest of the Bill has received a less generous welcome from Opposition Members. In my view, most of their criticisms fail to address the basic purpose of the Bill, which is to prevent the traditional freedoms of assembly and protest from turning into weapons of intimidation and harassment.

This Government fully uphold the right of everyone to protest, to march, to assemble, to demonstrate and to picket—so long as these activities are carried out peacefully. But we do not believe that these rights are absolute or that they cannot be and have not been abused. Hon. Members must ask themselves whether the right to march is a right to be exercised whenever one chooses, regardless of the effect on the rest of the community; whether the right to picket is a right to intimidate and obstruct those who wish to go to work; whether the right to assemble is a right to prevent others from going about their lawful business. The truth is that none of those rights is unfettered: they are not licences for the activists and the militants to impose their views by force on other people.

There has been reference to the White Paper. It contained considered views and refers to the longstanding origination of this measure. There are certain matters in it which are not to be proceeded with, and I should explain to the House what they are.

First, there was the proposed power to ban a single march. The police felt that if they had power to apply for a ban on a single march—for example, by the Militant Tendency, or CND—it would lay them open to accusations of political bias in an area where they already have to tread very carefully. At present under the Public Order Act 1936 they can apply only for a ban on all marches in an area, or certain classes of march. This ensures an even-handed approach—which I trust will commend itself to the House.

The second matter that we have not pursued is the possibility of enabling a police authority to recover policing costs from demonstration organisers when police conditions are broken. This was a consultative proposal in the White Paper, and the response was overwhelmingly against the idea. It would be difficult to calculate the costs involved. I am sure that hon. Members on both sides of the House agree that it is right not to proceed with that.

The White Paper also considered the possibility of enabling magistrates to bring in alternative verdicts, not simply in regard to public order offences. The majority of those who responded to our invitation to comment on the idea favoured the introduction of alternative verdicts in magistrates' courts and thought that they would be a major innovation. We have concluded, however, that if such action is to be taken it should cover the full range of offences for which alternative verdicts might be available. We have therefore decided against making any such provision in the Bill, as alternative verdicts could have related only to public order offences.

There has been a full and frank exchange of views today. My right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Warrington, South (Mr. Carlisle) made a robust speech and I am grateful for his comments about notice of marches and assemblies. We shall have to bear his comments in mind.

The right hon. Member for Blaenau Gwent (Mr. Foot) mentioned picketing and people's rights. We fully support the right to picket and have no intention of interfering with the right of peaceful picketing. However, there is a difference between peaceful and lawful picketing and picketing which provokes violence and intimidation. Those who suggest that only mass picketing can be effective must be trying to legitimise intimidation and violence.

The right hon. Gentleman also said that there should be a statutory right to demonstrate. The Bill will not affect traditional rights to demonstrate peacefully and lawfully. It is a basic assumption in public order law, as with other law, that people are free to do something unless there is a rule to the contrary. If we provided a right to demonstrate or to march, the presumption that the law gives other rights would be undermined. The right of peaceful assembly is in any case guaranteed by the European Convention on Human Rights.

My hon. Friend the Member for Harlow (Mr. Hayes) mentioned judicial review, as did the hon. and learned Member for Montgomery (Mr. Carlile). I accept that it is not always the speediest form of redress but it has worked speedily. In 1984, there was a ban on a Sikh march in London due to be held on a Sunday. The organiser sought judicial review of the ban from a High Court judge the previous Saturday morning. I believe that there is a good prospect of judicial reviews continuing to provide speedy redress.

My hon. Friend the Member for Westminster, North (Mr. Wheeler) reminded the House of the Bill's long gestation. It goes back to the events of 1981 and the Law Commission. He is right to welcome the powers concerning static demonstrations, which will help to provide information to the police and allow them to impose conditions of duration, location and time. He will recall that that does not include the power to ban.

The hon. Member for Caithness and Sutherland (Mr. Maclennan) sought a new philosophy behind the Bill. The philosophy behind it is the desire to ensure that the rights of the minority to protest are preserved, but that the rights of the majority to live peacefully are also preserved. My hon. Friend the Member for The Wrekin (Mr. Hawksley) said that the public were greatly disquieted by television coverage of recent disorders.

The hon. Member for Islington, South and Finsbury (Mr. Smith) mentioned the problems of sensitive policing and the need to organise such policing in communities and estates. I see that he is nodding assent. If so, he must agree that it is important to establish consultative committees which represent communities fully, to which the police can give their full attention arid with which the police can discuss various issues. I hope that such consultative committees will be established throughout London, especially in Labour-controlled boroughs.

My hon. Friend the Member for Lancashire, West (Mr. Hind) made a substantial contribution to our discussions once again. He asked about appeals to the High Court concerning applications for a ban that are refused by the local authority. That is certainly something for the Government to consider, but, at the moment, as the Bill makes clear, we do not intend to do that. That is one of the clauses that ought to be considered carefully in Committee.

My hon. Friend the Member for Salisbury (Mr. Key) raised the question of the protection of monuments in relation to the new offences contained in the Bill. I advise my hon. Friend that the powers to impose conditions on a static demonstration would apply to assemblies in public places in the open air. It would therefore seem that monuments open to the public would come within the ambit of the Bill. I hope that that will give my hon. Friend some encouragement.

The hon. and learned Member for Montgomery again referred to a Bill of Rights. That is not part and parcel of the measure. There are substantial arguments against proceeding along that line in a country that has not had the written constitution that he might prefer. I understand why he seeks to ensure that in the discussions on the Bill he will keep a close eye on the various aspects that affect the liberty of the individual.

The hon. Member for Hammersmith (Mr. Soley) asked me a direct question about exclusion orders. If my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary will allow me to say this, I would admit that a correction should be made to that. The courts will not have discretion to decide the scope of the exclusion order, only its length. Exclusion orders will, of course, ban offenders from all prescribed matches. The hon. Gentleman will recall that the Government's intention is to prescribe football league matches, international matches and other matches involving league clubs. There is no present intention to prescribe football matches abroad. That should correct the impression given by my right hon. Friend.

Last but by no means least, I turn to the contribution of the right hon. Member for Manchester, Gorton (Mr. Kaufman). The right hon. Gentleman was in one of his most expansive moods and he managed to cover a vast amount in the vast amount of time that he took up. It was not one of his more exciting performances and I think that the old Gortonian club will be pretty disappointed and that that ancient brigade, the old Ardwickhamists, will, I am sure, be a little upset at his remarks. His speech did, however, contain two or three nuggets of importance.

The right hon. Gentleman raised an issue in relation to compensation. I advise him that, to the best of my knowledge and belief, clause 10 of the Bill, which refers to that matter, makes only a marginal change to the eligibility for compensation by bringing the test into line with the new definition of riot. In future, claimants will have to show that damage was caused during rioting by a crowd of 12 persons or more, rather than by the present minimum of three. The Government have not studied details of previous claims, but I believe that the majority of claimants who were compensated after the 1981 riots would still be compensated under the provisions of the new Bill. Now no new prosecutions for riot will have to be brought and convictions obtained before compensation is claimed. That is the position.

Mr. Kaufman

That is clearly a very important matter. Is the Minister saying that clause 10 provides that the payment of compensation under the Riot (Damages) Act 1886 or the Merchant Shipping Act 1894 will be available only where people are charged with riot under clause 1?

Mr. Shaw

That would seem to be the case in relation to riot in the conditions outlined in subsection (1). No doubt charges will be made and compensation sought under other clauses, but riot damage compensation is confined to clause 1. If the right hon. Gentleman wishes to pursue the matter further, I shall be delighted to take it up.

The main part of the right hon. Gentleman's speech, and of the speeches of many other hon. Members, involved the new offence of disorderly conduct. The right hon. Gentleman devoted much of his speech to that offence. It appears to be common ground between us that we should seek to deal with anti-social behaviour. We know how much misery can be caused by gangs of youths to many people in our inner cities and elsewhere. There seems to be general agreement that we should look for an offence to cover such behaviour.

Many hon. Members have referred to the experience of their constituents and I take it that there is wide support for the new offence, although I noted that the right hon. Member for Gorton did not give a direct reply when his hon. Friend the Member for Ipswich (Mr. Weetch) asked whether he supported the offence of disorderly conduct. The right hon. Gentleman said that he supported the concept, but not the offence as defined in the Bill.

We ought to find out exactly where the right hon. Gentleman wishes to go. I invite him to table amendments in Committee so that we can see precisely where he stands. I believe that we are agreed on the concept, though we understand the importance of drafting. I am sure that the right hon. Gentleman will wish to make it clear to the House where he stands on disorderly conduct. We can certainly look at the drafting, but we must not resile from the need to describe in the Bill an offence that will bring substantial support and encouragement to many of our constituents.

The Bill has taken a great deal of time to prepare. It had its origins many years ago in the Law Commission report, in the events of 1981, in the discussions about what happened in Southall, in Lord Scarman's report and in the discussions that surrounded events at Grunwick, Warrington, Orgreave and Armthorpe. All Conservative Members, and I trust all Opposition Members, will agree that it was necessary to update public order law and to meet the immense public disquiet and the problems associated with public disorder.

It is clear that hon. Members are motivated by a need to bring more than a semblance of order and peacefulness to various activitities in our country. We are seeking to codify and update the common law offences, to bring them into a new form and to take forward many of the recommendations made, not least, by the Select Committee on Home Affairs. We have also tried to ensure the rights of the minority in relation to peaceful protest, the expression of views and marches and assemblies and to ensure that the rights of the majority are not overruled by a minority.

That is why we are so keen to see that there is a constructive exchange of views between the organisers of marches and the police. That is why we have inserted in the Bill provisions that do not allow the banning of assemblies, but provide for conditions to be applied on the duration, location and numbers involved in assemblies. We are not talking about the removal of statutory rights. We are trying to ensure peaceable arrangements between those who want to protest and those who live in communities. We have established for the first time the need to look at offences against property as well as against persons during riots. We are very clear about our duty—it is to all citizens, wherever they live; it is to everyone, not simply a single group. We must ensure that their environment is not unnecessarily disturbed.

The Public Order Bill is the most important piece of legislation to be brought before this House for decades. It provides the context in which our democracy can live and develop without threat, intimidation, disruption and violence.

Mr. Walter Harrison (Wakefield)

I have sat in the Chamber for two hours listening to the debate. I have discovered that a week is a long time in politics, and so too is a minute a long time in politics. I know that the Government are pressing—

Mr. Carol Mather

(Comptroller of Her Majesty's Household) rose in his place and claimed to move, That the Question be now put.

Question, That the Question be now put, put and agreed to.

Question put accordingly, That the amendment be made:—

The House divided: Ayes 202, Noes 289.

Division No. 32] [10.00 pm
Abse, Leo Faulds, Andrew
Adams, Allen (Paisley N) Field, Frank (Birkenhead)
Anderson, Donald Fields, T. (L'pool Broad Gn)
Archer, Rt Hon Peter Fisher, Mark
Ashdown, Paddy Flannery, Martin
Ashley, Rt Hon Jack Foot, Rt Hon Michael
Ashton, Joe Forrester, John
Atkinson, N. (Tottenham) Foster, Derek
Bagier, Gordon A. T. Foulkes, George
Banks, Tony (Newham NW) Fraser, J. (Norwood)
Barnett, Guy Freeson, Rt Hon Reginald
Barron, Kevin Freud, Clement
Beith, A. J. Garrett, W. E.
Bell, Stuart George, Bruce
Benn, Rt Hon Tony Gilbert, Rt Hon Dr John
Bennett, A. (Dent'n & Red'sh) Godman, Dr Norman
Bermingham, Gerald Gould, Bryan
Bidwell, Sydney Gourlay, Harry
Blair, Anthony Hamilton, James (M'well N)
Boyes, Roland Hamilton, W. W. (Fife Central)
Bray, Dr Jeremy Hancock, Mr. Michael
Brown, Gordon (D'f'mline E) Hardy, Peter
Brown, N. (N'c'tle-u-Tyne E) Harman, Ms Harriet
Brown, R. (N'c'tle-u-Tyne N) Harrison, Rt Hon Walter
Brown, Ron (E'burgh, Leith) Hart, Rt Hon Dame Judith
Bruce, Malcolm Hattersley, Rt Hon Roy
Buchan, Norman Haynes, Frank
Caborn, Richard Healey, Rt Hon Denis
Callaghan, Jim (Heyw'd & M) Hogg, N. (C'nauld & Kilsyth)
Campbell, Ian Holland, Stuart (Vauxhall)
Campbell-Savours, Dale Home Robertson, John
Carlile, Alexander (Montg'y) Howell, Rt Hon D. (S'heath)
Carter-Jones, Lewis Hoyle, Douglas
Cartwright, John Hughes, Roy (Newport East)
Clark, Dr David (S Shields) Hughes, Sean (Knowsley S)
Clarke, Thomas Hughes, Simon (Southwark)
Clay, Robert Janner, Hon Greville
Clelland, David Gordon Jenkins, Rt Hon Roy (Hillh'd)
Clwyd, Mrs Ann John, Brynmor
Cocks, Rt Hon M. (Bristol S.) Johnston, Sir Russell
Cohen, Harry Jones, Barry (Alyn & Deeside)
Coleman, Donald Kaufman, Rt Hon Gerald
Conlan, Bernard Kennedy, Charles
Cook, Robin F. (Livingston) Kilroy-Silk, Robert
Corbett, Robin Kinnock, Rt Hon Neil
Cox, Thomas (Tooting) Kirkwood, Archy
Craigen, J. M. Lambie, David
Crowther, Stan Lamond, James
Cunliffe, Lawrence Leadbitter, Ted
Cunningham, Dr John Leighton, Ronald
Dalyell, Tam Lewis, Ron (Carlisle)
Davies, Rt Hon Denzil (L'lli) Lewis, Terence (Worsley)
Davies, Ronald (Caerphilly) Litherland, Robert
Davis, Terry (B'ham, H'ge H'l) Livsey, Richard
Deakins, Eric Lloyd, Tony (Stretford)
Dewar, Donald Lofthouse, Geoffrey
Dixon, Donald Loyden, Edward
Dobson, Frank McCartney, Hugh
Dormand, Jack McDonald, Dr Oonagh
Douglas, Dick Maclennan, Robert
Dubs, Alfred McNamara, Kevin
Eadie, Alex McTaggart, Robert
Eastham, Ken McWilliam, John
Edwards, Bob (W'h'mpt'n SE) Madden, Max
Evans, John (St. Helens N) Marshall, David (Shettleston)
Ewing, Harry Martin, Michael
Fatchett, Derek Mason, Rt Hon Roy
Maxton, John Short, Ms Clare (Ladywood)
Maynard, Miss Joan Silkin, Rt Hon J.
Meacher, Michael Skinner, Dennis
Michie, William Smith, C.(lsl'ton S & F'bury)
Mikardo, Ian Smith, Rt Hon J. (M'dse)
Millan, Rt Hon Bruce Snape, Peter
Mitchell, Austin (G't Grimsby) Soley, Clive
Morris, Rt Hon A. (W'shawe) Spearing, Nigel
Morris, Rt Hon J. (Aberavon) Steel, Rt Hon David
Nellist, David Stewart, Rt Hon D. (W Isles)
O'Brien, William Stott, Roger
O'Neill, Martin Strang, Gavin
Park, George Straw, Jack
Parry, Robert Thomas, Dafydd (Merioneth)
Patchett, Terry Thomas, Dr R. (Carmarthen)
Pendry, Tom Thompson, J. (Wansbeck)
Penhaligon, David Thorne, Stan (Preston)
Pike, Peter Torney, Tom
Prescott, John Wallace, James
Radice, Giles Wardell, Gareth (Gower)
Randall, Stuart Wareing, Robert
Redmond, M. Weetch, Ken
Rees, Rt Hon M. (Leeds S) Welsh, Michael
Richardson, Ms Jo White, James
Roberts, Allan (Bootle) Wigley, Dafydd
Roberts, Ernest (Hackney N) Williams, Rt Hon A.
Robertson, George Wilson, Gordon
Robinson, G. (Coventry NW) Winnick, David
Rogers, Allan Woodall, Alec
Rooker, J. W. Wrigglesworth, Ian
Ross, Stephen (Isle of Wight) Young, David (Bolton SE)
Rowlands, Ted
Sedgemore, Brian Tellers for the Ayes:
Sheerman, Barry Mr. Allen McKay and
Sheldon, Rt Hon R. Mr. Ray Powell.
Shore, Rt Hon Peter
Alexander, Richard Dorrell, Stephen
Alison, Rt Hon Michael Douglas-Hamilton, Lord J.
Ancram, Michael Durant, Tony
Ashby, David Dykes, Hugh
Atkins, Robert (South Ribble) Farr, Sir John
Baker, Rt Hon K. (Mole Vall'y) Fenner, Mrs Peggy
Baldry, Tony Finsberg, Sir Geoffrey
Beaumont-Dark, Anthony Fletcher, Alexander
Bellingham, Henry Fookes, Miss Janet
Best, Keith Forman, Nigel
Blackburn, John Forsyth, Michael (Stirling)
Bottomley, Peter Forth, Eric
Bottomley, Mrs Virginia Fowler, Rt Hon Norman
Bowden, Gerald (Dulwich) Fox, Marcus
Bright, Graham Franks, Cecil
Brooke, Hon Peter Fraser, Peter (Angus East)
Brown, M. (Brigg & Cl'thpes) Freeman, Roger
Bryan, Sir Paul Gale, Roger
Buchanan-Smith, Rt Hon A. Galley, Roy
Buck, Sir Antony Gardiner, George (Reigate)
Budgen, Nick Gardner, Sir Edward (Fylde)
Burt, Alistair Garel-Jones, Tristan
Butler, Rt Hon Sir Adam Gilmour, Rt Hon Sir Ian
Carlisle, John (Luton N) Glyn, Dr Alan
Carlisle, Kenneth (Lincoln) Goodhart, Sir Philip
Carlisle, Rt Hon M. (W'ton S) Goodlad, Alastair
Carttiss, Michael Gorst, John
Cash, William Gow, Ian
Chalker, Mrs Lynda Gower, Sir Raymond
Chope, Christopher Grant, Sir Anthony
Clark, Sir W. (Croydon S) Greenway, Harry
Clarke, Rt Hon K. (Rushcliffe) Gregory, Conal
Clegg, Sir Walter Griffiths, Peter (Portsm'th N)
Cockeram, Eric Grist, Ian
Conway, Derek Ground, Patrick
Coombs, Simon Gummer, Rt Hon John S
Cope, John Hamilton, Hon A. (Epsom)
Cormack, Patrick Hamilton, Neil (Tatton)
Corrie, John Hampson, Dr Keith
Couchman, James Hanley, Jeremy
Cranborne, Viscount Hannam, John
Currie, Mrs Edwina Harris, David
Harvey, Robert Mawhinney, Dr Brian
Haselhurst, Alan Maxwell-Hyslop, Robin
Hawkins, Sir Paul (N'folk SW) Mayhew, Sir Patrick
Hawksley, Warren Merchant, Piers
Hayes, J. Meyer, Sir Anthony
Hayhoe, Rt Hon Barney Miller, Hal (B'grove)
Hayward, Robert Mills, Iain (Meriden)
Heath, Rt Hon Edward Mills, Sir Peter (West Devon)
Heathcoat-Amory, David Miscampbell, Norman
Heddle, John Mitchell, David (Hants NW)
Henderson, Barry Moate, Roger
Hicks, Robert Monro, Sir Hector
Higgins, Rt Hon Terence L. Montgomery, Sir Fergus
Hind, Kenneth Moore, Rt Hon John
Hirst, Michael Morrison, Hon C. (Devizes)
Hogg, Hon Douglas (Gr'th'm) Morrison, Hon P. (Chester)
Holland, Sir Philip (Gedling) Moynihan, Hon C.
Holt, Richard Murphy, Christopher
Hordern, Sir Peter Neale, Gerrard
Howard, Michael Nelson, Anthony
Howarth, Alan (Stratf'd-on-A) Nicholls, Patrick
Howarth, Gerald (Cannock) Norris, Steven
Howell, Rt Hon D. (G'ldford) Onslow, Cranley
Howell, Ralph (Norfolk, N) Oppenheim, Phillip
Hubbard-Miles, Peter Ottaway, Richard
Hunt, David (Wirral) Page, Sir John (Harrow W)
Hunt, John (Ravensbourne) Page, Richard (Herts SW)
Hunter, Andrew Parris, Matthew
Hurd, Rt Hon Douglas Patten, Christopher (Bath)
Jackson, Robert Patten, J. (Oxf W & Abdgn)
Jenkin, Rt Hon Patrick Pattie, Geoffrey
Jessel, Toby Pawsey, James
Johnson Smith, Sir Geoffrey Pollock, Alexander
Jones, Gwilym (Cardiff N) Porter, Barry
Jones, Robert (Herts W) Portillo, Michael
Jopling, Rt Hon Michael Powell, William (Corby)
Joseph, Rt Hon Sir Keith Powley, John
Kellett-Bowman, Mrs Elaine Prentice, Rt Hon Reg
Key, Robert Price, Sir David
King, Roger (B'ham N'field) Proctor, K. Harvey
Knight, Greg (Derby N) Raffan, Keith
Knight, Dame Jill (Edgbaston) Raison, Rt Hon Timothy
Knowles, Michael Rathbone, Tim
Knox, David Renton, Tim
Lamont, Norman Rhys Williams, Sir Brandon
Latham, Michael Ridley, Rt Hon Nicholas
Lawler, Geoffrey Ridsdale, Sir Julian
Lawrence, Ivan Rifkind, Rt Hon Malcolm
Lee, John (Pendle) Roberts, Wyn (Conwy)
Leigh, Edward (Gainsbor'gh) Roe, Mrs Marion
Lennox-Boyd, Hon Mark Rost, Peter
Lewis, Sir Kenneth (Stamf'd) Rowe, Andrew
Lightbown, David Rumbold, Mrs Angela
Lilley, Peter Ryder, Richard
Lloyd, Ian (Havant) Sackville, Hon Thomas
Lloyd, Peter, (Fareham) Sainsbury, Hon Timothy
Lord, Michael St. John-Stevas, Rt Hon N,
Luce, Rt Hon Richard Sayeed, Jonathan
Lyell, Nicholas Shaw, Giles (Pudsey)
McCrindle, Robert Shaw, Sir Michael (Scarb')
McCurley, Mrs Anna Shelton, William (Streatham)
Macfarlane, Neil Shepherd, Colin (Hereford)
MacGregor, Rt Hon John Shepherd, Richard (Aldridge)
MacKay, Andrew (Berkshire) Shersby, Michael
MacKay, John (Argyll & Bute) Silvester, Fred
Maclean, David John Sims, Roger
McNair-Wilson, M. (N'bury) Skeet, Sir Trevor
McNair-Wilson, P. (New F'st) Smith, Sir Dudley (Warwick)
McQuarrie, Albert Smith, Tim (Beaconsfield)
Madel, David Soames, Hon Nicholas
Major, John Speed, Keith
Malins, Humfrey Speller, Tony
Malone, Gerald Spencer, Derek
Maples, John Spicer, Jim (Dorset W)
Marland, Paul Squire, Robin
Marlow, Antony Stanbrook, Ivor
Marshall, Michael (Arundel) Stanley, Rt Hon John
Mates, Michael Stern, Michael
Mather, Carol Stevens, Lewis (Nuneaton)
Maude, Hon Francis Stewart, Allan (Eastwood)
Stewart, Andrew (Sherwood) Wakeham, Rt Hon John
Stewart, Ian (Hertf'dshire N) Walden, George
Stokes, John Waller, Gary
Stradling Thomas, Sir John Ward, John
Sumberg, David Wardle, C. (Bexhill)
Taylor, John (Solihull) Warren, Kenneth
Taylor, Teddy (S'end E) Watson, John
Temple-Morris, Peter Watts, John
Terlezki, Stefan Wells, Bowen (Hertford)
Thatcher, Rt Hon Mrs M. Wells, Sir John (Maidstone)
Thomas, Rt Hon Peter Wheeler, John
Thompson, Donald (Calder V) Whitfield, John
Thompson, Patrick (N'ich N) Whitney, Raymond
Thorne, Neil (Ilford S) Wilkinson, John
Thornton, Malcolm Wolfson, Mark
Thurnham, Peter Wood, Timothy
Townend, John (Bridlington) Woodcock, Michael
Townsend, Cyril D. (B'heath) Yeo, Tim
Tracey, Richard Young, Sir George (Acton)
Trippier, David Younger, Rt Hon George
Trotter, Neville
Twinn, Dr Ian Tellers for the Noes:
van Straubenzee, Sir W. Mr. Ian Lang and
Viggers, Peter Mr. Michael Neubert.
Waddington, David

Question accordingly negatived.

Main Question put forthwith, pursuant to Standing Order No. 41 (Amendment on second or third reading.)

The House divided: Ayes 292, Noes 201.

Division No. 33] [10.14 pm
Adley, Robert Durant, Tony
Alexander, Richard Dykes, Hugh
Alison, Rt Hon Michael Farr, Sir John
Ancram, Michael Fenner, Mrs Peggy
Ashby, David Finsberg, Sir Geoffrey
Atkins, Robert (South Ribble) Fletcher, Alexander
Baker, Rt Hon K. (Mole Vall'y) Fookes, Miss Janet
Baker, Nicholas (Dorset N) Forman, Nigel
Baldry, Tony Forsyth, Michael (Stirling)
Beaumont-Dark, Anthony Forth, Eric
Bellingham, Henry Fowler, Rt Hon Norman
Best, Keith Fox, Marcus
Blackburn, John Franks, Cecil
Bottomley, Peter Fraser, Peter (Angus East)
Bottomley, Mrs Virginia Freeman, Roger
Bowden, Gerald (Dulwich) Gale, Roger
Bright, Graham Galley, Roy
Brooke, Hon Peter Gardiner, George (Reigate)
Brown, M. (Brigg & Cl'thpes) Gardner, Sir Edward (Fylde)
Bryan, Sir Paul Garel-Jones, Tristan
Buchanan-Smith, Rt Hon A. Gilmour, Rt Hon Sir Ian
Buck, Sir Antony Glyn, Dr Alan
Budgen, Nick Goodhart, Sir Philip
Burt, Alistair Goodlad, Alastair
Butler, Rt Hon Sir Adam Gorst, John
Carlisle, John (Luton N) Gow, Ian
Carlisle, Kenneth (Lincoln) Gower, Sir Raymond
Carlisle, Rt Hon M. (W'ton S) Grant, Sir Anthony
Carttiss, Michael Greenway, Harry
Cash, William Gregory, Conal
Chalker, Mrs Lynda Griffiths, Peter (Portsm'th N)
Chope, Christopher Grist, Ian
Clark, Sir W. (Croydon S) Ground, Patrick
Clarke, Rt Hon K. (Rushcliffe) Gummer, Rt Hon John S
Clegg, Sir Walter Hamilton, Hon A. (Epsom)
Cockeram, Eric Hamilton, Neil (Tatton)
Conway, Derek Hampson, Dr Keith
Coombs, Simon Hanley, Jeremy
Cope, John Hannam, John
Cormack, Patrick Harris, David
Corrie, John Harvey, Robert
Couchman, James Haselhurst, Alan
Cranborne, Viscount Hawkins, Sir Paul (N'folk SW)
Currie, Mrs Edwina Hawksley, Warren
Dorrell, Stephen Hayes, J.
Douglas-Hamilton, Lord J. Hayhoe, Rt Hon Barney
Hayward, Robert Miller, Hal (B'grove)
Heath, Rt Hon Edward Mills, Iain (Meriden)
Heathcoat-Amory, David Mills, Sir Peter (West Devon)
Heddle, John Miscampbell, Norman
Henderson, Barry Mitchell, David (Hants NW)
Hickmet, Richard Moate, Roger
Hicks, Robert Monro, Sir Hector
Higgins, Rt Hon Terence L. Montgomery, Sir Fergus
Hind, Kenneth Moore, Rt Hon John
Hirst, Michael Morrison, Hon C. (Devizes)
Hogg, Hon Douglas (Gr'th'm) Morrison, Hon P. (Chester)
Holland, Sir Philip (Gedling) Moynihan, Hon C.
Holt, Richard Murphy, Christopher
Hordern, Sir Peter Neale, Gerrard
Howard, Michael Nelson, Anthony
Howarth, Alan (Stratf'd-on-A) Neubert, Michael
Howarth, Gerald (Cannock) Nicholls, Patrick
Howell, Rt Hon D. (G'ldford) Norris, Steven
Howell, Ralph (Norfolk, N) Onslow, Cranley
Hubbard-Miles, Peter Oppenheim, Phillip
Hunt, David (Wirral) Ottaway, Richard
Hunt, John (Ravensbourne) Page, Sir John (Harrow W)
Hunter, Andrew Page, Richard (Herts SW)
Hurd, Rt Hon Douglas Parris, Matthew
Jackson, Robert Patten, Christopher (Bath)
Jenkin, Rt Hon Patrick Patten, J. (Oxf W & Abdgn)
Jessel, Toby Pattie, Geoffrey
Johnson Smith, Sir Geoffrey Pawsey, James
Jones, Gwilym (Cardiff N) Pollock, Alexander
Jones, Robert (Herts W) Porter, Barry
Jopling, Rt Hon Michael Portillo, Michael
Joseph, Rt Hon Sir Keith Powell, William (Corby)
Kellett-Bowman, Mrs Elaine Powley, John
Key, Robert Prentice, Rt Hon Reg
King, Roger (B'ham N'field) Price, Sir David
Knight, Greg (Derby N) Proctor, K. Harvey
Knight, Dame Jill (Edgbaston) Raffan, Keith
Knowles, Michael Raison, Rt Hon Timothy
Knox, David Rathbone, Tim
Lamont, Norman Renton, Tim
Lang, Ian Rhys Williams, Sir Brandon
Latham, Michael Ridley, Rt Hon Nicholas
Lawler, Geoffrey Ridsdale, Sir Julian
Lawrence, Ivan Rifkind, Rt Hon Malcolm
Lee, John (Pendle) Roberts, Wyn (Conwy)
Leigh, Edward (Gainsbor'gh) Roe, Mrs Marion
Lennox-Boyd, Hon Mark Rost, Peter
Lewis, Sir Kenneth (Stamf'd) Rowe, Andrew
Lightbown, David Rumbold, Mrs Angela
Lilley, Peter Ryder, Richard
Lloyd, Ian (Havant) Sackville, Hon Thomas
Lloyd, Peter, (Fareham) Sainsbury, Hon Timothy
Lord, Michael St. John-Stevas, Rt Hon N.
Luce, Rt Hon Richard Sayeed, Jonathan
Lyell, Nicholas Shaw, Giles (Pudsey)
McCrindle, Robert Shaw, Sir Michael (Scarb')
McCurley, Mrs Anna Shelton, William (Streatham)
Macfarlane, Neil Shepherd, Colin (Hereford)
MacGregor, Rt Hon John Shepherd, Richard (Aldridge)
MacKay, Andrew (Berkshire) Shersby, Michael
MacKay, John (Argyll & Bute) Silvester, Fred
Maclean, David John Sims, Roger
McNair-Wilson, M. (N'bury) Skeet, Sir Trevor
McNair-Wilson, P. (New F'st) Smith, Sir Dudley (Warwick)
McQuarrie, Albert Smith, Tim (Beaconsfield)
Madel, David Soames, Hon Nicholas
Major, John Speed, Keith
Malins, Humfrey Speller, Tony
Malone, Gerald Spencer, Derek
Maples, John Spicer, Jim (Dorset W)
Marland, Paul Squire, Robin
Marlow, Antony Stanbrook, Ivor
Marshall, Michael (Arundel) Stanley, John
Mates, Michael Stern, Michael
Mather, Carol Stevens, Lewis (Nuneaton)
Mawhinney, Dr Brian Stewart, Allan (Eastwood)
Maxwell-Hyslop, Robin Stewart, Andrew (Sherwood)
Mayhew, Sir Patrick Stewart, Ian (Hertf'dshire N)
Merchant, Piers Stokes, John
Meyer, Sir Anthony Stradling Thomas, Sir John
Sumberg, David Waller, Gary
Taylor, John (Solihull) Ward, John
Taylor, Teddy (S'end E) Wardle, C. (Bexhill)
Temple-Morris, Peter Warren, Kenneth
Terlezki, Stefan Watson, John
Thatcher, Rt Hon Mrs M. Watts, John
Thomas, Rt Hon Peter Wells, Bowen (Hertford)
Thompson, Patrick (N'ich N) Wells, Sir John (Maidstone)
Thorne, Neil (Ilford S) Wheeler, John
Thornton, Malcolm Whitfield, John
Thurnham, Peter Whitney, Raymond
Townend, John (Bridlington) Wilkinson, John
Townsend, Cyril D. (B'heath) Wolfson, Mark
Tracey, Richard Wood, Timothy
Trippier, David Woodcock, Michael
Trotter, Neville Yeo, Tim
Twinn, Dr Ian Young, Sir George (Acton)
van Straubenzee, Sir W. Younger, Rt Hon George
Viggers, Peter
Waddington, David Tellers for the Ayes:
Wakeham, Rt Hon John Mr. Donald Thompson and
Walden, George Mr. Francis Maude.
Abse, Leo Dixon, Donald
Adams, Allen (Paisley N) Dobson, Frank
Anderson, Donald Dormand, Jack
Archer, Rt Hon Peter Douglas, Dick
Ashdown, Paddy Dubs, Alfred
Ashley, Rt Hon Jack Eadie, Alex
Ashton, Joe Eastham, Ken
Atkinson, N. (Tottenham) Edwards, Bob (W'h'mpt'n SE)
Bagier, Gordon A. T. Evans, John (St. Helens N)
Banks, Tony (Newham NW) Ewing, Harry
Barnett, Guy Fatchett, Derek
Barron, Kevin Faulds, Andrew
Beith, A. J. Field, Frank (Birkenhead)
Bell, Stuart Fields, T. (L 'pool Broad Gn)
Benn, Rt Hon Tony Fisher, Mark
Bennett, A. (Dent'n & Red'sh) Flannery, Martin
Bermingham, Gerald Foot, Rt Hon Michael
Bidwell, Sydney Forrester, John
Blair, Anthony Foster, Derek
Boyes, Roland Foulkes, George
Bray, Dr Jeremy Fraser, J. (Norwood)
Brown, Gordon (D'f'mline E) Freeson, Rt Hon Reginald
Brown, N. (N'c'tle-u-Tyne E) Freud, Clement
Brown, R. (N'c'tle-u-Tyne N) Garrett, W. E.
Brown, Ron (E'burgh, Leith) George, Bruce
Bruce, Malcolm Gilbert, Rt Hon Dr John
Buchan, Norman Godman, Dr Norman
Caborn, Richard Gould, Bryan
Callaghan, Jim (Heyw'd & M) Gourlay, Harry
Campbell, Ian Hamilton, James (M'well N)
Campbell-Savours, Dale Hamilton, W. W. (Fife Central)
Carlile, Alexander (Montg'y) Hancock, Mr. Michael
Carter-Jones, Lewis Hardy, Peter
Cartwright, John Harman, Ms Harriet
Clark, Dr David (S Shields) Harrison, Rt Hon Walter
Clarke, Thomas Hart, Rt Hon Dame Judith
Clay, Robert Hattersley, Rt Hon Roy
Clelland, David Gordon Haynes, Frank
Clwyd, Mrs Ann Healey, Rt Hon Denis
Cocks, Rt Hon M. (Bristol S.) Heffer, Eric S.
Cohen, Harry Hogg, N. (C'nauld & Kilsyth)
Coleman, Donald Holland, Stuart (Vauxhall)
Conlan, Bernard Home Robertson, John
Cook, Robin F. (Livingston) Howell, Rt Hon D. (S'heath)
Corbett, Robin Hoyle, Douglas
Cox, Thomas (Tooting) Hughes, Roy (Newport East)
Craigen, J. M. Hughes, Sean (Knowsley S)
Crowther, Stan Hughes, Simon (Southwark)
Cunliffe, Lawrence Janner, Hon Greville
Cunningham, Dr John Jenkins, Rt Hon Roy (Hillh'd)
Dalyell, Tam John, Brynmor
Davies, Rt Hon Denzil (L'lli) Johnston, Sir Russell
Davies, Ronald (Caerphilly) Jones, Barry (Alyn & Deeside)
Davis, Terry (B'ham, H'ge H'l) Kaufman, Rt Hon Gerald
Deakins, Eric Kennedy, Charles
Dewar, Donald Kilroy-Silk, Robert
Kinnock, Rt Hon Neil Roberts, Ernest (Hackney N)
Kirkwood, Archy Robertson, George
Lambie, David Robinson, G. (Coventry NW)
Lamond, James Rogers, Allan
Leadbitter, Ted Rooker, J. W.
Leighton, Ronald Ross, Stephen (Isle of Wight)
Lewis, Ron (Carlisle) Rowlands, Ted
Lewis, Terence (Worsley) Sedgemore, Brian
Litherland, Robert Sheerman, Barry
Livsey, Richard Sheldon, Rt Hon R.
Lloyd, Tony (Stretford) Shore, Rt Hon Peter
Lofthouse, Geoffrey Short, Ms Clare (Ladywood)
Loyden, Edward Silkin, Rt Hon J.
McCartney, Hugh Skinner, Dennis
McDonald, Dr Oonagh Smith, C. (Isl'ton S & F'bury)
Maclennan, Robert Smith, Rt Hon John (Monklands, East)
McNamara, Kevin
McTaggart, Robert Snape, Peter
McWilliam, John Soley, Clive
Madden, Max Spearing, Nigel
Marshall, David (Shettleston) Steel, Rt Hon David
Martin, Michael Stewart, Rt Hon D. (W Isles)
Mason, Rt Hon Roy Stott, Roger
Maxton, John Strang, Gavin
Maynard, Miss Joan Straw, Jack
Meacher, Michael Thomas, Dafydd (Merioneth)
Michie, William Thomas, Dr R. (Carmarthen)
Mikardo, Ian Thompson, J. (Wansbeck)
Millan, Rt Hon Bruce Thorne, Stan (Preston)
Mitchell, Austin (G't Grimsby) Torney, Tom
Morris, Rt Hon A. (W'shawe) Wallace, James
Morris, Rt Hon J. (Aberavon) Wardell, Gareth (Gower)
Nellist, David Wareing, Robert
O'Brien, William Weetch, Ken
O'Neill, Martin Welsh, Michael
Park, George White, James
Parry, Robert Wigley, Dafydd
Patchett, Terry Williams, Rt Hon A.
Pendry, Tom Wilson, Gordon
Penhaligon, David Winnick, David
Pike, Peter Woodall, Alec
Prescott, John Wrigglesworth, Ian
Radice, Giles Young, David (Bolton SE)
Randall, Stuart
Redmond, M. Tellers for the Noes:
Rees, Rt Hon M. (Leeds S) Mr. Allen McKay and
Richardson, Ms Jo Mr. Ray Powell.
Roberts, Allan (Bootle)

Question accordingly agreed to.

Bill read a Second time and committed to a Standing Committee pursuant to Standing Order No. 42 (Committal of Bills).

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