HC Deb 12 April 1994 vol 241 cc35-168

Order read for resuming adjourned debate on Question [28 March] proposed on consideration of the Bill, as amended (in Committee and in the Standing Committee), That the clause (Racial harassment) be read a Second time— '1.(1) In relation to any prosecution for any offence of violence it shall be the duty of the prosecuting authority to place before the court any evidence tending to show that such offence has been committed on the ground of colour, race, nationality or ethnic or national origin ("racial grounds"). (2) On conviction of any offence of violence the court shall have regard to such evidence in determining the penalty, and, if satisfied that the offence was committed on racial grounds ("racial violence"), shall impose an additional penalty which may exceed the maximum penalty otherwise prescribed for such offence.

2.(1) A person is guilty of the offence of racial harassment if on racial grounds he:

  1. (a) uses threatening, abusive or insulting words or behaviour, or disorderly behaviour, or displays any writing, sign or other visible representation which is threatening, abusive or insulting, within the hearing or sight of a person likely to be caused harassment, alarm or distress thereby; or
  2. (b) commits any trespass or nuisance whereby any occupant of any dwelling is likely to be caused harassment, alarm or distress.

(2) A constable may arrest a person without warrant whom he reasonably suspects of conduct constituting an offence under this section.

(3) A person guilty of an offence under this section is liable:

  1. (a) on conviction on indictment to imprisonment for a term not exceeding two years or a fine or both;
  2. (b) on summary conviction to imprisonment for a term not exceeding six months or a fine not exceeding the statutory maximum or both:.—[Mr. Michael.]

Question again proposed.

Madam Speaker

I remind the House that with this we are also debating the following: Government new clause 125—Offence of racially inflammatory publication etc. to be arrestable.

New clause 50—Aggravation of racial hatred—

'(1) If any person commits any offence provided for by—

  1. (i) sections 18, 20 or 47 of the Offences Against the Person Act 1861, or
  2. (ii) sections 1, 2, 3, 4 or 5 of the Public Order Act 1986 and does so with a motive of racial hatred, then he shall be guilty of the said offence with aggravation of racial hatred.
(2) In this section, "racial hatred" means racial hatred against a group of persons in Great Britain by reference to colour, race, nationality (including citizenship) or ethnic or national origins.'.

New clause 88—Racial hatred'.-Part III of the Public Order Act 1986 shall be amended as follows— In section 27(1) there shall be substituted for the words "of the Attorney General" the words "of the Director of Public Prosecutions".'. New clause 89—Offences committed on racial grounds

'.—(1) In relation to any prosecution for any offence of violence it shall be the duty of the prosecuting authority to place before the court any evidence tending to show that such offence has been committed on racial grounds. (2) On conviction of any offence of violence the court shall have regard to such evidence in determining the penalty and if satisfied that the offence was committed on racial grounds shall impose a penalty, which shall not be more than twice the maximum prescribed penalty. The court shall be required to give reasons for the penalty imposed, indicating in what way it has taken account of its finding that the offence was committed on racial grounds.'. New clause 90—Racial harassment (No. 2) '.—(1) A person is guilty of the offence of racial harassment if on racial grounds he—

  1. (a) commits any trespass or nuisance whereby any occupant of any dwelling is likely to be caused harassment, alarm or distress; or
  2. (b) uses words or behaviour or displays any writing, sign or other visual representation which is offensive on racial grounds within the hearing or sight of any person likely to be caused harassment, alarm or distress thereby.
(2) a constable may arrest a person without warrant whom he reasonably suspects of conduct constituting an offence under this section. (3) A person guilty of an offence under this section is liable—
  1. (a) on conviction on indictment to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 12 months or a fine or both;
  2. (b) on summary conviction to imprisonment for a term not exceeding six months or a fine not exceeding the statutory maximum or both.'.
New clause 97—Incitement to racial hatred (arrestable offence).—(1) After subsection 19(1) of the Public Order Act 1986 there shall be inserted the following subsection— (1A) A constable may arrest without warrant anyone he reasonably suspects in committing an offence under this section.". (2) In Schedule 5 Part II of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 (Serious Arrestable Offences) there shall be added at the end— "Public Order Act 1986 (c. 64) 9. Section 19 (publishing or distributing written material likely to stir up racial hatred).".'. New clause 98—Racial hatred (conditions on public processions)—(1) In subsection 12(1)(a) of the Public Order Act 1986 there shall be added after the word "community," the words "on racial, religious, ethnic or other grounds,". (2) In subsection 12(1)(b) of the Public Order Act 1986 there shall be added at the end after the word "do," the words "or to stir up racial hatred,".'. New clause 100—Harassment

'.—(1) The Public Order Act 1986 shall be amended as follows.

(2) For section 5(1) there shall be substituted the following subsection— (1) A person is guilty of an offence if he—

  1. (a) commits any trespass or nuisance whereby any occupant of any dwelling is likely to be caused harassment, alarm or distress; or
  2. (b) uses words or behaviour or displays any writing, sign or other visual representation which is threatening, abusive or insulting within the hearing or sight of any person likely to be caused harassment, alarm or distress thereby.".
(3) For section 5(4) there shall be substituted the following subsection— (4) A constable may arrest a person without warrant whom he reasonably suspects of conduct constituting an offence under this section.". (4) Section 5(5) is hereby repealed.

(5) For section 5(6) there shall be substituted the following subsection— (6) A person guilty of an offence under this section is liable—

  1. (a) on conviction on indictment to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 12 months or a fine or both;
  2. (b) on summary conviction to imprisonment for a term not exceeding six months or a fine not exceeding the statutory minimum or both.".
(6) For section 6(4) there shall be substituted the following subsection— (4) A person is guilty of an offence under section 5 if a reasonable person would have expected any such trespass or nuisance to cause harassment, alarm or distress, or any such words or behaviour, or any such writing, sign or other visual representation to be threatening, abusive or insulting within the hearing or sight of any person likely to be caused harassment, alarm or distress.".'. New clause 127—Racially-motivated violence (No. 2)

—(1) A person shall be guilty of an offence of—

  1. (a) racially motivated manslaughter,
  2. (b) racially motivated grievous bodily harm,
  3. (c) racially motivated wounding with intent,
  4. (d) racially motivated assault occasioning actual bodily harm or
  5. (e) racially motivated common assault.
if, with racial motivation he commits manslaughter, grievous bodily harm, wounding with intent, assault occasioning actual bodily harm, or common assault respectively. (2) In this section "racial motivation" shall mean motivation on the grounds of colour, race, nationality (including citizenship) or ethnic or national origins.

(3) A person guilty of an offence under this section is liable on conviction on indictment to imprisonment for a term not exceeding five years in addition to, and consecutive to, the sentence applicable for conviction of the offences of common assault, assault occasioning actual bodily harm, or assault occasioning grievous bodily harm respectively.'.

4.19 pm
Mr. David Sumberg (Bury, South)

I suppose that I have a unique qualification to speak to the clauses—not simply because I am Jewish, but because I represent in my constituency many members of the Jewish community. Like my constituents, I have, sadly, been on the receiving end of racism from time to time. To attend, as I did recently, a showing of "Schindler's List"—a memorable and awe-inspiring film—and then to open one's parliamentary post the next morning to find a document which purports to deny the holocaust is perhaps the ultimate obscenity.

The clauses seem to be divided between those which want to import a racial motive into certain crimes and those which want to increase the enforcement powers which are available to us. I admit that I approach them with mixed emotions and mixed feelings. Those who have proposed new clause 13 and some of the new clauses which have been tabled for the first time today are motivated by honourable feelings, and by the belief that something must be done to combat and reduce the rising tide of racism in our society, which principally affects the black and Asian communities, but which affects the Jewish community as well. They want to make it clear that that rising tide must be curbed.

It is simply unacceptable that the levels of enforcement, prosecution and action under our existing laws are so deplorably low. Such a situation motivates the belief—particularly in the minds of those who are on the receiving end of racist conduct—that the authorities are reluctant to act.

Some of those new clauses—particularly those which relate to motivation—have, in my view, a fundamental weakness, and for the supporters of the clauses to overlook that weakness does not assist their case.

New clause 13, with some of the other new clauses, establishes the need for a higher burden of proof for offences which are already against the law. Murder, violence, conduct against public order and harassment are already punishable severely under the present system, and that is right.

However, the clauses require an additional burden on the prosecution—to prove a racial motive. Every lawyer and anybody with any connection with the courts will know that the hardest thing to prove is motive. One can easily prove that somebody did something, but to prove why they did it is far harder.

Ms Joan Ruddock (Lewisham, Deptford)

The hon. Gentleman's view is incorrect. New clause 13 is drafted in such a way that, where there is a violent offence, prosecution would be on two counts—the violent offence itself and the racial motivation. It is possible in an aggravated offence that, where racial motivation is not proven, the charge of murder, manslaughter or whatever will still stand and will be prosecuted. We do not believe that the hon. Gentleman's interpretation is in any way correct, and it is not supported by our legal advice.

As for racial motivation, the hon. Gentleman must acknowledge that, if verbal abuse accompanies what are otherwise totally unpredictable attacks, the racial motivation may not be so difficult to prove, after all.

Mr. Sumberg

I have my doubts about that. It will be difficult to prove. I fear that, if prosecutions are brought under new clause 13 and the allied clauses, they will in all probability fail, which will send everyone the message, no matter what side they take in the argument, that the legislation is weak and not enforceable. Prosecuting, enforcing existing law and bringing offenders to book are the basic problems we face when dealing with racist crimes.

Before the recess, the only good reason that might have led me to support new clause 13 and similar clauses was that it would have been unacceptable if a major criminal justice Bill made no mention of the increase in racism that we see. This Bill is the centrepiece of the Government's law and order programme and covers every aspect of criminality—I do not need to go into them all—and it would have been wrong if it gave people no comfort and entirely ignored the fact that racism is increasing in Britain. Such a Bill would have sent a message to the people who suffer from such activity that society does not care, and is not prepared to act.

I am glad that there has been a change of mind during the recess. First, the Government have tabled new clause 125, which I warmly welcome. It will make the publication of racist literature an arrestable offence. Secondly, other hon. Members have tabled clauses that will enforce existing laws and deal with the loopholes.

Unless my right hon. Friend the Minister can convince me otherwise, I shall certainly support the loophole-plugging clauses, because they are essential. We must tackle the evil in society. For one reason or another, the right action is not being taken. We must consider the matter in that way. It is unacceptable for there to be a rise in membership of the hard right in Britain, which has always been a tolerant, just and humane society—a society that has welcomed immigrants to its shores for many years.

Equally, we must be careful about the legislation we pass. The present weaknesses in the law are that people are not willing to come forward and give evidence to the prosecution; that it is not being enforced properly; and that there are enforcement loopholes. Those are the evils and the mistakes that we must now tackle.

I welcome the fact that the Government have moved in some way. I hope that the Minister can move a little further, especially on enforcement. He and the House will know that old axiom that, for evil to succeed, it is enough that good men and women do nothing. I hope that the House will not make that mistake.

Mr. Gerald Kaufman (Manchester, Gorton)

With you in the Chair, Madam Speaker, I moved a new clause to the Public Order Bill in Standing Committee G on April 10 1986, which would have created an offence of racial harassment. We debated the new clause on that day and received a sympathetic response from the then Minister, the hon. Member for Pudsey (Sir G Shaw). He offered us talks on the subject to find out whether we could agree an approach.

However, the talks did not result in our finding a satisfactory way to deal with the matter, which has remained a festering sore during the eight years since, as it was before that date, which was why I moved the new clause, as the official representative of Her Majesty's Opposition in the Standing Committee.

The hon. Member for Bury, South (Mr. Sumberg) spoke about sending a message. Although this is a specific new clause with specific provisions, nevertheless, apart from the specific provisions, which I support entirely, another reason why I wish the new clause to be added to the Bill is that the House of Commons should send a message to the members of ethnic minority communities, of whom I regard myself as one, that Parliament considers crimes with a racial element as even more intolerable than other crimes.

All crimes, by definition, are to be objected to. Those who commit them are to be pursued and, where appropriate, punished, severely if necessary. But crimes related to the race, ethnic origin or religion of a victim are very different from crimes which relate to the vulnerability of a person or to the property of a person that a criminal wishes to take away from the victim.

4.30 pm

The victims of crimes of racial harassment are not attacked because they are rich—or poor but nevertheless have property that can be taken. They are attacked, they become the victims of crime, simply because they are black, come from an Asian community or are Jewish, or for some other reason relating to the uncontrollable factor of their birth, rather than, if I may put it this way, because of their eligibility as victims in possessing property that somebody else wishes to take away from them.

It is a peculiarly odious kind of crime. It is the reason why, if one may extrapolate, the apartheid regime in South Africa was so odious: it was based on racial discrimination. It is the reason why ethnic cleansing in Bosnia is so odious: the victims there are victims simply because of their religion. It is an issue to which it is time the House addressed itself in the most specific form. The House scarcely needs telling that there are far too many examples of racial harassment and victimisation, and far too many crimes committed against individuals and families simply because of their ethnic origin.

A little while ago, I took a group of Pakistani constituents from the Gorton division to see the chief constable of Manchester because they were so concerned that their wives could not go out shopping safely and their children could not go out to play safely. Problems of that kind occur regularly for my constituents—people who, because they come from the Indian sub-continent and for no other reason, are penalised, harassed and attacked. I know of cases where petrol bombs have been put through letter boxes solely because of the victims' ethnic origin.

Mr. Sumberg

We would all deplore that sort of behaviour as quite dreadful, but the point at issue is that such things are already illegal—already criminal offences. I must ask the right hon. Gentleman whether prosecutions were brought, people were taken to court and sentences were imposed in relation to those matters. If not, that is a matter of legitimate complaint, but it is a matter of enforcement, and not something relating to the present state of the law.

Mr. Kaufman

I am surprised that the hon. Member for Bury, South, sharing with me, as he does, the Jewish religion, should intervene in that way.

When I was a child, when anti-semitism was a great deal more overt than it often is now, in Leeds there were people who discriminated against me and other Jews with slogans, calling out, "Dirty Jew!" and insults of that type. In my constituency, my Pakistani constituents have to put up not only with being victims of the type of offence that I have described, but with being verbally insulted because of their ethnic origin, with having graffiti written on walls, and with the accompaniment of the criminal offence by a racial element which aggravates the nature of the offence.

In response to the intervention by the hon. Member for Bury, South, some of the offences were pursued; some have resulted in prosecutions, some have not. That is not because the police are in any way remiss. The police do their best, and when they can pursue such offences, they do.

However, the question is not whether the offenders have been pursued with the full rigour of the law—when they can be, they are. The question is whether the law should have greater rigour. That is what the new clause is about. It is about whether the law should say, "If you attack someone, that is odious, but if you attack someone because they are black or an Asian or Chinese or a Jew, that is even more odious than your attack on them per se." That is my argument, and that is what the new clause says.

Mrs. Barbara Roche (Hornsey and Wood Green)

I have been following my right hon. Friend's remarks extremely closely, and agree with them whole-heartedly. Does he agree that one of the problems is that the aspect in which the law is deficient, and which this new clause would cover, is in relation to those crimes that are petty in nature by themselves—petty criminal damage or petty vandalism—but over a period build up into a picture of intolerable harassment, and that many senior police officers say that one needs to tackle that picture with new legislation so that society can express its repugnance for offences of that type?

Mr. Kaufman

I agree entirely with my hon. Friend. When we debated inner cities, the Under-Secretary of State for the Environment, the hon. Member for Banbury (Mr. Baldry), said, as the hon. Member for Bury, South is saying, that to do what we are seeking to do in this new clause would make it more difficult rather than easier to convict; but he completely misunderstands the nature of the new clause. The Under-Secretary of State seemed to imagine that the racial element had to be proved in order to convict. That is not so. Our new clause says—this is why it is such a good new clause—that the racial element carries with it an additional punishment, to say to people, "You have committed a crime, and the law of the land as it existed before this Act said that that crime was punishable by such-and-such a sentence, but because you committed that crime, which had a racial concomitant, you shall be punished even more, to teach you and to send a message to the ethnic minority communities that, as they are specially vulnerable, they shall have special protection."

I am not saying for a moment that there are a huge number of crimes of racial harassment.

Mr. James Clappison (Hertsmere)


Mr. Kaufman

If the hon. Gentleman will allow me to pursue my argument, I will gladly give way to him.

However many it is, it is too many. Over the years, there have been a considerable number of cases of the kind that I have described involving my Asian constituents. A number of Chinese people in my constituency face a particular problem—perhaps it is a problem in other parts of the country also—because young people congregate around fish and chip shops owned by the Chinese. One Chinese shop owner was murdered in his fish and chip shop, and another constituent has now been driven out of business. Patently racially motivated attacks upon his business are making his life an utter misery. It is utterly intolerable that somebody should be exposed to attacks such as that.

It is interesting that others are using racial harassment as a basis for policy. Manchester city council makes special provision for rehousing people who are victims of racial harassment. If somebody submits a rehousing application on the basis of racial harassment, that application receives special consideration, and rightly so.

Through my experience as a constituency Member of Parliament, I know of too many instances of crimes committed against people because of their racial and ethnic origin. If we were to incorporate the amendment in the Act, it would be a signal from the House of Commons to all members of ethnic minority communities that Parliament is particularly and separately concerned about crime based on race or religion.

The Minister who replied to me in the debate eight years ago was sympathetic, but I am afraid that nothing whatever was done about the problem. I very much hope that today hon. Members—regardless of party; it is not a party issue—will agree that it is proper for the House of Commons to send the message, to use the words of the hon. Member for Bury, South, that racial harassment is intolerable. We must do whatever we can to expunge it from our society, and incorporating the new clause in the Bill is a very good way of going down that road.

Sir Ivan Lawrence (Burton)

I begin by thanking my right hon. Friend the Minister and the right hon. Member for Manchester, Gorton (Mr. Kaufman), who is speaking for the Opposition in this debate, for adjourning the debate on racial matters the other evening when it might have been concluded. It has enabled a majority of members of the Home Affairs Select Committee to agree to some recommendations which we have tabled as amendments to the legislation.

The Home Affairs Select Committee believes that racism, in all its forms, is an evil and destructive force in our multiracial society. There is no doubt that it is spreading and that it has to be stopped. As the pressures build in the liberated eastern European countries following the break-up of the Soviet empire, so ethnic divisions are building up all over Europe, often resulting in ethnic cleansing and wars. Inevitably, we have seen a substantial increase in the number of refugees travelling from one country to another and immigration to countries which have not seen immigration on such a large scale before.

So, too, will the pressures of racism inevitably grow and spread to the United Kingdom. The Committee believes that before that happens we in Britain must realise the likely extent of that evil and start to put up our defences as strongly as we can so that the worst excesses at least can be avoided and this nation can maintain its reputation for being tolerant and decent.

The need for good race relations has always been a primary interest of the Home Affairs Committee and we reported on the matter in 1982, 1986 and 1989. Since then, there have been shocking attacks, murder and violence and the Committee has taken a large amount of evidence from all quarters. We have not yet finalised our report or agreed on all our recommendations, but I am grateful to my colleagues for dealing with this matter with some urgency so that a majority of Committee members, at any rate, have agreed to certain recommendations and therefore amendments to the legislation.

I shall deal with those recommendations under three headings: racially motivated violence, racial harassment which is less than a violent attack, and incitement to racial hatred by such means as hate mail. With regard to racially motivated violence, it is a question of whether violence that is racially motivated should or should not attract a heavier penalty. Most of us believe that we may be able to deter racist attacks by the threat of greater punishment. Of course, some people say that all attacks are criminal and should be punished whatever the motivation and that separating racial motivation is unnecessary and wrong. This has broadly been the Government's line in the past.

4.45 pm

The majority of members of the Home Affairs Committee do not agree with that line. We believe that not only does the identification of racism send the positive signal referred to by the right hon. Member for Gorton to the ethnic minority communities in this country that the law is treating racism seriously, but that an assault motivated by racism is more socially divisive and corrosive of the very fabric of our tolerant society and, for that reason, is itself more serious.

The courts agree with that thinking, as does the existing law. A judge is allowed to take account of aggravating factors, as well as mitigating factors, in passing sentence and racial motivation is understood to be an aggravating factor. Because of this, some of the amendments would create an obligation to put before the court all evidence of racial motivation.

The majority of members of the Home Affairs Committee believe that the matter is so serious, and will become increasingly more so, that the present state of the law is simply not enough. We therefore suggest that new clause 127 should create five new offences of racially motivated assault. This would signal even more strongly to the ethnic communities that we intend to treat the matter more seriously through the power to impose a more substantial sentence, which is why the Commission for Racial Equality and other organisations are in favour of the measure.

But there is another very important justification. In my view, the police will be likely to search for and find racial motivation only if they are required to do so to fulfil the requirements of a separate offence. Furthermore, if such an offence is to receive a stiffer penalty, a jury should decide whether an attack has been racially motivated. It should not be left to the judge to decide, any more than we leave it to the judge to decide whether the seriousness of an attack satisfies section 18 of the Offences Against the Person Act 1861, or whether it should be a lesser offence under section 20, or an even lesser offence under section 47. A jury should decide the extent of the seriousness of offences of violence.

Mr. Clappison

I am grateful to my hon. and learned Friend for giving way. I am listening with great interest to his argument. Does not the point that he has just made go to the weakness of new clause 13, in that there is a muddle as to whether it creates a new offence?

Sir Ivan Lawrence

I agree that clarity is all-important, particularly if we want to send the right signals to those who would commit racially motivated offences or those who are the unfortunate victims of such offences.

Once a jury has decided that a racially motivated offence has been committed, the judge must give effect to the jury's verdict. It is less than fair if the decision about whether the evidence is good is left to a judge rather than the jury set up to take precisely that decision. If I were accused of a crime of violence and it was alleged that the crime was racially motivated, I would want the jury to decide that point. I would not want the decision to be taken away from the jury and the judge to be invited to decide whether the evidence that he had heard warranted an increased sentence. If there were no question of an increased sentence, I agree that it would not matter. But an increased sentence because of racial motivation must, in fairness, be decided by a jury.

That seems to be so self-evident that I find difficulty in dealing with the objections to it. At first, Ministers and others told the Select Committee that a racially motivated offence of violence might prevent conviction because, although the principal matter of violence may be proved, if the racial motivation was not proved, a man who was undoubtedly violent would be acquitted. That problem is simply avoided by charging two counts in the alternative: first, single manslaughter, grievous bodily harm, wounding, assault occasioning actual bodily harm, or common assault; and, secondly, racially motivated manslaughter, grievous bodily harm, wounding, assault occasioning actual bodily harm, or common assault. The added sentence for a racial attack would be passed only if the jury decided that the racially motivated alternatives applied.

We were also told that producing such evidence would require more work by the police. Well, should it not? If racism is an evil that is spreading and needs to be stopped, should not the police be encouraged to dig out the evidence that would support their allegation? It will not be difficult for the police to decide whether to charge, as was suggested in evidence to the Home Affairs Committee. It will be for the Crown Prosecution Service to decide whether the offence is racially motivated. That is what it is there for and what it does every day of the week. It should not be excused away on the basis that it would be a burden on the police.

In any event, if there is a dispute about whether a sentence should be increased because an attack has been racially motivated and the judge is in doubt about the strength of the evidence, he can call for a Newton hearing that will require evidence to be produced so that he can make that judgment. That means that the police must have gone to the effort of finding out whether there was sufficient evidence of racial motivation.

Mr. Kaufman

What worries me about the hon. and learned Gentleman's argument is that he seems to fall into the very trap which the hon. Member for Bury, South (Mr. Sumberg) alleges against new clause 13—that it would be more difficult to convict in the first place under the hon. and learned Gentleman's new clause. He argues that the police would have to delve further in order to obtain evidence that would justify a jury's offering a guilty verdict. New clause 13 says that evidence of the crime should be sufficient to justify a guilty verdict, whereas evidence of racial motivation should be an aggravating element in the sentence.

Sir Ivan Lawrence

I cannot immediately find new clause 13, so I cannot answer the right hon. Gentleman's point. I do not care whose clause supports it, but it must be clear that it is for juries to decide whether there is sufficient evidence of racial motivation. In the first place, it will be for the Crown Prosecution Service to decide whether the police have sufficient evidence of racial motivation—if they have not, an increased sentence should not be imposed because of it.

If they have, the Crown must prove racial motivation not just on one count in an incident, because I agree that a prosecution may fail if there is only one count with two elements. There must be two offences in the alternative so that the jury can decide, on the basis of evidence, whether an offence is racially motivated. Whether an alternative is put in the indictment will depend on whether the Crown Prosecution Service considers that any evidence of racial motivation sustains account. That is how the logic and practice of the courts would work out.

Mr. Kaufman

The hon. and learned Gentleman is arguing himself into a technical corner. It is clearly emerging from the way in which he expounds his new clause that it would be more difficult to convict for a crime of assault unless the crime of assault contains a racial element. It is therefore inherent in his argument that somebody who may have committed a crime of assault may go free because there is insufficient evidence of a racial element.

That is not so under new clause 13, where evidence that an assault has been committed per se will be sufficient to justify conviction. The merit of our new clause is that if, that evidence having been submitted, there is additional evidence of a racial element, the judge could expand the sentence. That is why our new clause is better than the hon. and learned Gentleman's. However, if our new clause falls, I shall vote for his simply because I want something in the Bill, however inadequate it may be.

Sir Ivan Lawrence

I am grateful to the right hon. Gentleman. I have now refreshed my memory about new clause 13. It may confuse the issue. We want a jury to convict if it is sure that there was an offence of manslaughter, grievous bodily harm, wounding, assault occasioning actual bodily harm, or common assault, and to convict of the alternative offence if it is sure that there was a racially motivated element. Once those two elements are put into one count, the jury will talk the whole count round.

If it concludes that it is unhappy about the evidence of a racial element, it may rub off on its conclusion about the assault itself. That is why there is merit in what my right hon. and learned Friend the Home Secretary told the Committee about the possibility that a jury would acquit, despite the fact that there was sufficient evidence of an assault.

I do not expect my right hon. Friend the Minister to accept this, but those of us who have practised in the courts with jurors for 30 years know that, from time to time, they say, "We are not too sure about the whole of this count," and they drop the lot. So, although new clause 13 is not wrong, it runs a risk that would be avoided by separating the two counts as I have suggested. Moreover, the person convicted of the crime would know that the jury was sure of the racial motivation and had not simply been swept along by the offence itself and thought, "We do not care whether the offence was racially motivated; that person must not go free." In addition, the ethnic community will know, from the separate offence, that the law takes the matter seriously. In those circumstances, the Select Committee on Home Affairs—not all of us, but the majority—decided that an offence of racially motivated attack was justified.

Mr. Clappison

Will my hon. and learned Friend give way?

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Sir Ivan Lawrence

I hesitate to give way as I have received a sign that I should speed up and there are two other offences that I want to mention.

Is there a need for a new offence of racial harassment to deal with the drip, drip, drip effect of constant harassment? The Board of Deputies of British Jews, the Commission for Racial Equality, the anti-racist alliance and a number of others all say yes. At present, section 5 of the Public Order Act 1986 deals with all sorts of harassment, not just racially motivated harassment. However, we were told that there were a number of drawbacks.

When we visited the racial unit in Plumstead, the police officers told us that it was not always possible, when bringing a charge, for the prosecution to satisfy a court that a person intended his words, behaviour or action to be threatening, abusive, or insulting under the meaning of the Public Order Act. Even if the person was aware that that might be the result, if he did not intend for it to be so, he was not guilty. The police officers suggested that an objective test would be sensible. If a reasonable man would consider that such acts, deeds and words were likely to cause such a result, that should constitute the necessary intent required under the Bill.

The Minister of State, Home Office (Mr. Peter Lloyd)

I do not want to delay my hon. and learned Friend too long as I know that the House wishes to make progress. However, I think that both my hon. and learned Friend and the police officer to whom he spoke at Plumstead have not looked carefully at section 5 of the Public Order Act. It is not a matter of intent, but whether something is likely to cause harassment, alarm or distress.

Sir Ivan Lawrence

That was how it was put to us. We considered it and recognised that as one of the criticisms.

A second criticism was made that the offence under section 5 took no account of the seriousness of many of the acts that were taking place, such as the daubing of swastikas, or putting excreta through a door because a person was a Jew, Muslim, Pakistani or Bangladeshi. I shall not list all the particularly repulsive behaviour that is manifestly racially motivated, but does not necessarily call down under the existing law a sentence which responds to its serious nature.

The third criticism made was that it was an arrestable offence only if the offender repeated his behaviour in the sight of a policeman after a policeman had warned him to stop. The fourth criticism was that the offence attracted a maximum fine of only £1,000. We therefore considered that section 5 was inadequate to deal with the important subject of racial harassment.

The proof of that lies in the fact that, despite the increase in racial incidents—however many there are, the number has been increasing—there has been no increase in the number of charges brought or convictions recorded. As a result, we decided that it would be sensible to toughen the law, which is the basis of our new clause 100. It takes into account all those matters, particularly the one to which my right hon. Friend the Minister has just alluded.

Part III of the Public Order Act deals with incitement to racial hatred. The most commonly used sections are 18, which deals with words or displays or behaviour, and covers race hate mail, and section 19, which is intended to deal with publishing or distributing written material. We were told that the amount of racist literature was increasing. In the appendix to its report the Select Committee will publish some examples of the repulsive racist material. I shall not delay matters by referring to them now.

It is inevitable that, as boundaries come down under the single market, more such filth will cross from countries in Europe to Britain. There were strong criticisms of the working of the present legislation, particularly from the Board of Deputies of British Jews, which said that the existing legislation had not proved effective in countering the tide of anti-semitic and other racist literature. It sent us an enormous amount of the sort of literature being circulated.

Three criticisms were levelled at us about that specific aspect of the Publicx Order Act. The first was that a prosecution could not be instigated without the consent of the Attorney-General. There was a feeling that the Attorney-General sometimes decided that a prosecution should not go ahead for vaguely political reasons—perhaps because it would cause more conflict or distress to do so. Although we had absolutely no reason to think that Attorneys-General had ever made decisions other than perfectly correctly and properly, it seemed to us that there was nothing much to be gained from placing the Attorney-General in the invidious position of having to make such choices.

The Attorney-General already has many problems on his plate without having to go through the countless number of allegations and make decisions. We saw no reason why the Director of Public Prosecutions, together with the Crown Prosecution Service, should not make the decisions in those, as in nearly all other, matters. That was our recommendation and it forms one of our amendments.

The second criticism was that the incitement to racial hatred provision did not provide a power of arrest. A person who distributes such material by post cannot easily be found. If there is no power of arrest, by the time that the police arrive at the premises from which they think the material is being distributed the birds have fled and all the forensic signs of their culpability have dried up and disappeared.

We listened to the evidence given to us by a very senior officer at Scotland Yard, Commander Allinson, who was worried about the lack of power of arrest. It seemed to us that if we could provide the power of arrest and the police could act quickly, they could obtain all sorts of forensic evidence that might specifically identify the person responsible. At present the police lack those powers.

The third criticism involved the subject of intention. There has to be an intention to stir up racial hatred and only an objective test would be likely to result in a sufficient number of prosecutions. That was part of the recommendation contained in the Bill of my hon. Friend the Member for Finchley (Mr. Booth).

There were other issues; I shall highlight one that formed the basis of an amendment that we tabled. Under part II of the Public Order Act, senior police officers have the right to impose conditions on, and the Home Secretary has the power to ban, marches, processions and demonstrations if they feel that they might result in serious public disorder, disruption to the life of the community and so on. But the Act does not cover marches and processions involving race hatred. Therefore, the police felt that they were not always able to respond to the community's concerns about marches by right-wing groups which did not, perhaps, result in violence, but which contributed to the climate of fear and hatred among the ethnic minority. Therefore, we have recommended that the Government amend the Public Order Act so that it covers a march or procession invoking the spread of race hatred.

The Select Committee on Home Affairs has attempted to be constructive. If we are right and racism is spreading, is serious and can only get worse, we must do something more about it than the existing law, which has been inadequate. We have come forward with our constructive proposals, to which I hope that my right hon. Friend the Minister will respond positively.

Mr. Peter Lloyd

The House wants to make progress, and as I must say much in response to speeches made today and before the Easter recess, I hope that it may help if I intervene now.

Since we adjourned this debate before Easter, there have been additional amendments from my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Burton (Sir I. Lawrence) and some of his colleagues on the Select Committee. I was interested to read them and I listened with care to my hon. and learned Friend's remarks.

I am sorry that we could not have the Select Committee's report before debating this batch of amendments. It is the Committee's evidence, thoughts and findings rather than its drafting skills from which the Government would have liked to benefit before the debate. I hoped—as I know the Select Committee had intended, before it was sidetracked on to another issue—that the report would be published before Christmas.

The Government always take what the Select Committee has to say with great seriousness—doubly so when it involves a difficult subject such as this, which the Select Committee studied for more than a year. Obviously it would be much better for us to reach our own final conclusions after studying its report rather than before.

I am glad that one amendment in this batch—new clause 97—gives the police power of immediate arrest in cases of incitement to racial hatred, which chimes with our own thinking.

The Government tabled their own version in new clause 125. It is drafted differently and I believe more suitably, but achieves the same effect. It will enable the police to pursue more effectively not just those who distribute, but, through them, those who produce the appalling material on which my hon. Friend the Member for Hendon (Mr. Marshall) focused our attention in his Adjournment debate before Easter, and against which, inter alia, my hon. Friend the Member for Finchley (Mr. Booth) directed his private Member's Bill. I am pleased to meet one of their particular objectives now.

Before I turn to new clause 13 and the other amendments selected, I will say something about the overall statistics for racial violence and racial harassment—about which the hon Members for Walsall (Mr. Winnick) and for Leyton (Mr. Cohen) and in particular the hon. Member for Caithness and Sutherland (Mr. Maclennan), who provided a revealing breakdown of such incidents recorded by the Metropolitan police, spoke.

When I gave evidence to the Select Committee last July, I made an estimate of 130,000 to 140,000 racial incidents a year, based on data obtained from the 1992 British crime survey. Grossing up the responses from that survey sample for the total ethnic minority population gave that estimate of the number of crimes and threats in 1991 thought by the victim to have been racially motivated.

Both the survey and police data such as those quoted by the hon. Member for Caithness and Sutherland suggest that only a minority of incidents involved physical attacks—and, of those, a much smaller proportion were serious. The rest were made up of abusive language, criminal damage and other unpleasant behaviour.

I well understand why hon. Members contrast that estimate of 130,000 incidents with the 8,000 incidents recorded by the police, but the work done suggests that perhaps 50,000 incidents were reported to the police but not recorded as racial, either because the victims did not mention it as such or the police failed to note that they did.

Clearly, it is not possible to know how many of those crimes resulted in prosecutions, but they will have been dealt with on the same basis as similar crimes not felt to be racially motivated. All offences of violence are obviously priorities for the police and are pursued with vigour, but for offences at the other end of the scale, there may be no accessible evidence to identify and successfully prosecute the perpetrator of non-violent harassment—even if it is reported, which it generally is not.

The racial attacks group is currently specifically examining the way in which the police compile their statistics. We need them to be as full and accurate as possible and to be compiled on the same basis between forces. We also want to encourage other agencies to use the same categorisation, so we shall know that we are comparing like with like.

Mr. Keith Vaz (Leicester, East)

Will the Minister give way?

Mr. Lloyd

Not at this moment, because I have not gone deep into my remarks. I shall do so later, if the hon. Gentleman still wishes to make a point.

The British crime survey did not show an increase in perceived racial incidents as a proportion of all crime between 1988 and 1992, when the questions were first asked. Whether there has been an increase between 1992 and 1994 should be revealed in the next edition of the survey, which is due to be published later this year.

The apparent sharp increase in racial crime recorded by the police between 1988 and 1992 can be explained, at least in part, by increased efforts by the police to improve their monitoring and recording procedures. I refer in particular to the guidance issued to all forces in 1991. As a result, all police forces have adopted the Association of Chief Police Officers' definition of a racial incident. Racial motivation is flagged up in the report of any incident in which the police officer, victim or any third party believes there to have been a racial element. That certainly broadens the definition and brings more offences within its scope.

It is also obvious that the more successful the police in encouraging reporting, the more the number of incidents recorded will increase, without there necessarily being any underlying increase in the number of offences committed. Does the hon. Member for Leicester, East (Mr. Vaz) wish to intervene now?

5.15 pm
Mr. Vaz

Unfortunately, the Minister is using arguments that he used before, in speaking of classifications, categorisations and definitions. Does he accept that racial attacks are occurring on the streets of Britain and are increasing? Does he accept that they are affecting the lives of many black and Asian people? The Government should not hide behind delaying tactics. It is vital that something is done urgently to protect those people.

Mr. Lloyd

The Government are hiding behind nothing. The Government want to be effective, which is why I am trying to lay out the best information that we have. I do not deny that there are a great number of attacks. I shall refer to that point shortly. Perhaps it was unnecessary to give way to the hon. Gentleman

I do not rule out in particular that publicity and counter-demonstrations in the wake of the British National party victory in Tower Hamlets provoked more mindless thugs to indulge in more racial thuggery. I am sure that, for a long time, ethnic minority communities and some sections of the white community have suffered racial attacks and harassment. What has changed is the declining readiness of those sections of the community to tolerate such treatment, and the growing interest and concern of the rest of the community.

I am certain that the new clauses cover serious matters and I return exactly to the point that the hon. Member for Leicester, East was trying to press. I do not believe that there is any real difference of view between both sides of the House as to our abhorrence of racial violence and our recognition of the hurt and fear that racial harassment can bring to individuals, families and communities. Nor do I believe, after reading the new clauses with care, and having listened with interest to what was said in support of them today and previously, that there is any difference between us on the range of violent or cruel behaviour that the law should punish.

All violence is criminal, whether the assailant and victim are the same colour or of different colours, and whether the motive is racial hatred, anger at women or contempt for the weakness of the elderly and disabled. I am glad that the Opposition, in their new clause 13, no longer propose to distinguish between violent crimes—at least as far as the offence is concerned. There is nothing in new clause 13 about a separate offence of racial violence, and that is progress.

I am sorry that good sense is not carried over into the subsections on harassment. Again, there appears to be no real difference between us on what antisocial behaviour should be covered by the law. In fact, the very words of subsection 2(1)(a) are lifted directly from the Public Order Act 1986.

However, subsection 2(1)(b) seeks to go further and specifically adds the words trespass or nuisance whereby any occupant … is likely to be caused harassment, alarm or distress. I do not believe that it would do much for race relations to create a new offence that has the potential of new clauses 13 and 90 to render certain trespass and nuisance behaviour criminal only when carried out on racial grounds. I do not believe that that would do anything for anyone.

In practical terms, it would be difficult to imagine examples in which such actions could be proven to be racially motivated, unless there was an explicit racial overtone to the behaviour. Simply walking across a garden would not be sufficient without, say, accompanying abuse or implied threat. Of course, if a person were to be verbally abusive, insulting or act in a threatening or harassing way, regardless of whether they were trespassing or not, section 5 of the Public Order Act is already there under which such behaviour may be prosecuted.

Perhaps the hon. Member for Lewisham, Deptford (Ms Ruddock) has something in mind that is not covered by existing law. If not, I have to say to her that, although her new clause gives the first impression of a tough new extension of the law, it will do nothing better to protect, the victims of racial offences. If she does have something in mind that is not covered by existing law, I would genuinely like to consider it. But where I especially disagree with these new clauses is that they seek to do for harassment what, as I observed approvingly, Opposition Members wisely no longer seem to seek to do for violence: create a specific and separate offence of racial harassment.

It is always hard to prove motive—harder, I suspect, than many hon. Members allow. My hon. Friend the Member for Bury, South (Mr. Sumberg) was right about that. If that is so and the court finds the racial motive unproven beyond reasonable doubt, should there be a conviction for a standard offence, the judge, in sentencing, will not be able to take racial motivation into account and will have limited scope for taking into account any other racial element.

I fear that writing into the law an additional penalty for racial motive, as in new clauses 13, 50, 89 and 127, may have the opposite effect in an uncomfortably large number of cases to that intended by those who tabled the new clauses. It makes even less sense to do that, as there is already a duty on judges and magistrates to take into account the aggravating circumstances surrounding an offence. Indeed, that was written into the Criminal Justice Act 1991. It obviously includes racial hostility and the vulnerability of the victims.

It is plain, both from judges' summing. up and the penalties handed down in a growing number of cases, that the courts are taking the racial element firmly into account. The recommendation for minima of 22 and 25 years for the racial murders of Fiaz Mirza, Saddik Dada and Mohammed Sarwar show that the courts are prepared to act when the evidence is there.

Ms Ruddock

I am listening carefully to what the Minister is saying. Is he able to tell the House how many of the offences that have been prosecuted under section 5 of the Public Order Act have been found to be on racial grounds? Does he have the figures? Will he tell us how effective the current law is?

Mr. Lloyd

I cannot, but I would like to be able to. We are currently looking to see how that might be managed so that, as I said earlier, all cases would be flagged up so that we know what happens to them. We could then create those figures at the end of the year. Because there is no separate offence of racial harassment, those figures do not exist at the moment, so I cannot say how many of the cases were overtly racial and in how many of them that factor was taken into account by the court in sentencing.

The racial attacks group, which includes the Commission for Racial Equality and the Crown Prosecution Service as well as the police, is looking at that so that we can provide such information. I do not believe, however, whatever information it produces, that these matters are best handled by legislation, not merely or primarily for the reasons that I have already given, but because of the messages that it will send to the world outside—the very point that was made by the right hon. Member for Gorton.

Mr. Kaufman

I suspect that, somewhere in a pigeon hole in the Home Office, there is a brief for Ministers to use on this occasion. It was also used by the former Minister of State on 10 April 1986 to reject the proposals of the Opposition at that time. No doubt if the Opposition have to vote with Conservative Members and are not successful today, it will be fished out on a future occasion, too.

The Minister has not responded to the prime point of the argument. He says that judges are, of course, at liberty to take into account a racial element when considering a sentence. Being at liberty is very different from being required to take into account a racial element in a crime. Parliament needs to send a signal to members of the ethnic minorities in this country that Parliament has a special concern for them. I hope that, before the Minister sits down, he will respond to that argument, which so far he has failed to do.

Mr. Lloyd

The right hon. Gentleman made two points. The first was the familiarity of some of the arguments that I use. I suggest to him that a good argument retains its freshness, even over the years. On his second point, if he reflects back to the Criminal Justice Act 1991, he will see that the courts are not simply at liberty to take into account what they want, but that they are required to take in fully all the circumstances that relate to the case which indicate aggravating features. Perhaps the right hon. Gentleman would like to refresh himself on that.

Mr. Robert Maclennan (Caithness and Sutherland)

Will the Minister give way?

Mr. Lloyd

No, I must make some progress. If there is a little more time later, I will come back. I want to say a little more about this point.

Mr. Hugh Dykes (Harrow, East)

Will my hon. Friend give way?

Mr. Lloyd

No, I will not, if my hon. Friend will forgive me.

I realise that many hon. Members support a separate offence of racial violence or harassment because of the message that they believe that it would send. They believe that it would reassure ethnic minorities that such crimes against them are taken very seriously. But I suspect that there would be a reaction if, having led them to believe that the law was being strengthened, it was discovered to be neither broader nor more effective and unable to catch a wider range of racially motivated offences.

To be fair, from my strictures I should except new clause 100, which has been tabled by my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Burton, which would replace section 5 of the Public Order Act. It has the great merit of being colour blind. But my approval ends there, for it would make a criminal offence of any trespass or nuisance whereby any occupant of any dwelling is likely to becaused harassment, alarm or distress—so a person who lights a bonfire whose smoke distresses their neighbour, or lets their dog bark incessantly or stray into their neighbour's property and damages it, could be committing a criminal offence. It could, I suppose, apply to intrusive building work.

What is more, the requirement in the current section 5 of the Public Order Act for the conduct to be intentional, or at least for the person engaging in it to have known that harassment, alarm or distress were likely to result, has been deleted. That was not in fact the test that my hon. and learned Friend and the officer whom he met in Plumstead believed was the test in section 5 of the Public Order Act. Such unneighbourly stresses can, I know, be extremely aggravating, but I wonder whether my hon. and learned Friend had them in mind and, if he had, whether he intended to be so sweeping in his extension of the criminal law where the civil law has traditionally provided the remedy.

Perhaps it was that kind of behaviour that the hon. Member for Deptford will tell me that she had in mind for new clause 13(2)(1), but not when it was caused by accident—because it is confined to race—or straight malice, but only when it was racially motivated.

But my fundamental criticism of new clause 13 and others is not that they are generally ineffectual, as my hon. Friend the Member for Bury, South said they were, in providing extra protection—they are. My criticism is that I do not believe that Parliament should construct two categories of harassment any more than two categories of violence. It must be wrong to create the impression that there are extra protections for ethnic minorities that are not available for, say, the elderly and the disabled.

Sir Ivan Lawrence


Mr. Maclennan


Mr. Lloyd

I shall give way in a moment, but to the hon. Member for Caithness and Sutherland.

The danger is particularly well illustrated by the ill-judged subsection (2) of new clauses 13 and 127, which would require an additional penalty for racial violence which may exceed the maximum penalty otherwise prescribed for that offence. Indeed, under new clause 127, the assailant in a racially motivated common assault could get a sentence 10 times the maximum for any other common assault.

Apart from giving the court power in new clause 13 to impose an additional penalty beyond the maximum set by Parliament for the offence—a departure from every other area of our law where maxima are always enshrined in statute and set to allow for the worst possible example of a particular offence—these new clauses would send a clear message that an assault on the disabled, the elderly or a small child, however cowardly or brutal, could never be punished as severely as it was possible to punish a racial attack.

Mr. Maclennan

I ask the Minister to reflect on the fact that the rights of ethnic minorities are considered under our international commitments—through the European convention on human rights—as matters especially to be protected against discriminatory behaviour. Motivation is also something which the English common law recognises as significant in determining the appropriateness of a penalty; it is what distinguishes certain types of homicide from murder. It is bizarre that he should say as a matter of principle that the Government are setting their face against treating racially motivated attacks as different in kind from other forms of attack. Surely that is mistaken.

5.30 pm
Mr. Lloyd

I am not saying that they are not sometimes worse than other attacks, and I am certainly not saying that the courts should not take that into account. Indeed, I spent some time saying that the courts did take that fact into account and that it was their job to do so. If race was an aggravating factor, it should be implicit in the way in which the court determines the sentence.

However, I am saying that to give a specific additional sentence for a racial attack when there could be worse attacks on, for example, the elderly, the disabled or children, and on others who are not disabled, elderly or young, sends the wrong message. I am sorry that the hon. Gentleman and some other Opposition Members cannot understand that. The sense of fairness of the community as a whole is quite different from how the hon. Gentleman perceives it. I do not want, and I was sure that no hon. Member would want, to send such a crudely divisive message to the country.

We do not want to bring about circumstances in which a mugged pensioner could say, however unfairly, that if he had been black, his assailant would have had to receive a much heavier sentence, or in which a victimised family, suffering regular harassment from neighbours, could say, "Of course, if we had been a different colour, the police would have had to do something." That would be doubly foolish when the basic reach of the law, certainly where violence is concerned, remains the same under new clause 13 and others, whether or not there is a racial motive. So why lead the public to believe otherwise? Why introduce a potent source of misunderstanding and resentment? I suspect that to do so was considered an easy way for the Opposition to respond apparently decisively to ethnic minority fears and the appalling experiences that so many have indeed suffered.

I do not impugn the integrity of the hon. Members who have put their names to the new clauses or who have spoken in support of them. I am sure that they are utterly sincere in their desire to provide better protection for ethnic minorities and to build the good race relations on which it must finally depend—it is their wisdom and good sense that I question.

Although new clause 13 and others would no doubt give immediate encouragement to ethnic minorities, it would surely bring cynicism in its train when they began to notice that it secured few, if any, extra prosecutions, especially when it was clear that the price had been to sour race relations and to provide a handle to those who like to argue that the law gives black people a privileged position anyway.

Mr. Vaz

Who are those people?

Mr. Lloyd

There are plenty of them, alas. If the hon. Gentleman has not met them, he has led an extraordinarily sheltered life. A number of them voted for the British National party in Tower Hamlets at the previous local election.

Sir Ivan Lawrence

Of course my right hon. Friend has a point and it is one which should be heard, but is it not also a reason for dismantling all our race relations legislation, whether civil or criminal, because the effect of that is presumably to create exactly the same reactions as he says are so abhorrent to us now?

Mr. Lloyd

That is of course one of the downsides, but, as my hon. and learned Friend will know, without such laws against discrimination, discrimination would not be unlawful. However, harassment and violence are unlawful, so he is not comparing like with like.

While I am waxing so critical of the content of the new clauses, I shall mention briefly what is not in them and, despite what the hon. Member for Hornsey and Wood Green (Mrs. Roche) said in her intervention, something that is certainly not there but which would genuinely benefit ethnic minorities and others if it were. The Government believe that the one aspect that the law does not sufficiently cover is low-level, repetitive abuse, name-calling or nuisance which as a one-off might be no more than a minor legal breach and on which no court is likely to come down with great severity, but which cumulatively is deeply hurtful, building fear, anxiety and distress, blighting the lives of individuals and families and poisoning relationships between different sections of the community.

It is in dealing with such persistent harassment, which can cause such misery, that I believe the law needs to be extended with appropriately severe penalties. I have said so many times in recent months, including at the Dispatch Box, but it is not easy to formulate an amendment that we can be sure would focus effectively on the offence without unwelcome side effects. I am, however, confident that we can produce such an amendment and the Government would have liked to do so on Report, but the complexities have proved too great.

Mrs. Roche


Mr. Lloyd

If the hon Lady wants to tell me that new clause 13 covers this point, she can do so and then I shall continue.

Mrs. Roche

I am grateful to the Minister for giving way. New clause 13(2)(1)(a) refers to the use of threatening, abusive or insulting words or behaviour …or … any writing, sign or other visible representation that is abusive or insulting, which is exactly the type of behaviour to which I referred in my intervention. We are talking about the swastika daubed on a wall, threatening behaviour against a black family or a car aerial being vandalised. New clause 13 seeks to deal with such harassment.

Mr. Lloyd

The hon. Lady was not listening when I said that the words that she has just cited admiringly are already law—they have been lifted wholly from section 5 of the Public Order Act 1986. I am trying to tell the hon Lady that those words are insufficient to deal with cumulative low-level harassment which causes so much harm and has such a corrosive effect.

Mrs. Roche

I am grateful to the Minister for giving way a second time. I listened very carefully to what he was saying. New clause 13 would tighten existing legislation and enable it to deal with exactly the sort of incident to which I referred. There has been a failure on the part of the Home Office to listen properly to what is being said not only by Opposition Members but by some of the Minister's right hon. and hon. Friends.

Mr. Lloyd

The failure is that of the hon. Lady to read what is on the statute book.

Mr. John Marshall (Hendon, South)

Will my right hon. Friend give way?

Mr. Lloyd

No, I cannot give way.

I must stress that the improved law would not be confined to racial harassment but would extend to other forms of harassment, although ethnic minorities may be the chief beneficiaries. I should be happy if that were so as I am quite sure that they are the chief sufferers. The important point would be that the same protection would exist for any repeatedly harassed individual or family, whatever the motive for the harassment.

Mr. Marshall


Mr. Lloyd

No, I shall not give way as I have already done so too often in view of the time available.

I share with all hon. Members who have spoken their patent desire to make the law work more effectively. The chief impediment to prosecution is lack of evidence which will stand up in court, a point made by my hon. Friend the Member for Bury, South. That must be a matter for the police and local agencies working effectively together, and it is why earlier this year I was happy to speak in support of the CRE campaign urging victims to report incidents and, just as important, witnesses to come forward.

However, it is clear that the Public Order Act is used to very much greater effect in some spheres than in others. That is why the racial attacks group is also looking to see what can be learnt from those areas about the way in which good practice could be applied generally. It is not spectacular work, but it will prove far more helpful to minority communities than any of the new clauses before us today, however impressive they may sound when dolled up in a superficial and self-indulgent press release.

As I said earlier, making the distribution of material that is likely to stir up racial hatred an arrestable offence will help the police to get to the source of the material and I hope that the House will support amendment No. 125. It follows that I have immediate sympathy for those sections of new clause 13 and new clause 100, which would provide the police with an immediate power of arrest for harassment. However, on reflection, I am afraid that I am not yet convinced that it would on balance help to do so.

Section 5 of the Public Order Act, to which the new clause relates, is used in a variety of circumstances for dealing with a broad spectrum of abusive and threatening behaviour in public places, not only racial harassment. It could, for example, be employed by the police when they have been abused and harassed by demonstrators. At present, the police must give the demonstrator a warning. I am not sure that the Opposition would want to do away with the necessity for that warning and perhaps find that many of those arrested turned out to be black or white protestors who were perhaps protesting over the BNP book shop in Welling. I am not convinced that the requirement for an opportunity to cool off is not useful all round, but I do not rule out the new clause. It needs further and wider discussion, which it will receive when the Select Committee is able to publish its report.

Again, I understand why new clause No. 89, spoken to my hon. Friend the Member for Harrow, East (Mr. Dykes), queries the role of the Attorney-General, whose approval is necessary before a prosecution can be brought under part III of the Public Order Act for stirring up racial hatred. As some hon. Members have observed, he has given his go-ahead to only 14 prosecutions, implying that, somehow, he has been preventing many more from being brought.

That is certainly not so. Only 19 cases have been referred to him and the ones with which he did not proceed were disallowed on the same grounds by which other prosecutions are denied—two because of insufficient evidence and three on public interest grounds. At least two of those cases were dismissed because of the age of the person who was alleged to have committed the offence. Again, I am quite sure that the lack of evidence on the identity of the authors of the racial material which would stand up in court is responsible for the small number of prosecutions in that area, perhaps because so much comes anonymously through the post or is imported.

There are other broader issues relating to the scope of part III of the Act which were raised by some Asian groups, by the Tabachnik report and most recently by my hon. Friend the Member for Finchley in his Bill. They involve important questions about where the balance should be struck between free speech, public order and group sensibilities. They are beyond the scope of the new clauses and thus the debate, but they are an area to which we must and will return when the Select Committee unveils its remedies.

Finally, in new clause 98, my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Burton and some colleagues on the Select Committee seek to strengthen section 12 of the Public Order Act which deals with processions. At present, a police officer may place conditions on a march if he believes that it may cause serious disorder, damage or disruption. I cannot see that it helps to add the ability to put conditions on a march on racial, religious or ethnic grounds, as subsection (1) of my hon. and learned Friend's new clause would. It gives the police no new power or new guidance.

Subsection (2) of the new clause, however, would insert the stirring up of racial hatred as an additional criterion for imposing conditions on a demonstration. Again, it would add little more to the way in which the present law is being used. The police already use their powers to impose conditions on marches for example, to re-route them where necessary away from areas where large Asian populations live—not on the grounds of stirring up racial hatred, but for straightforward public order grounds.

It could be difficult to argue—perhaps it has occurred to my hon. and learned Friend—that a march of Nazi skinheads down Brick lane would stir the local population to racial hatred, but it may well cause them fear and distress and provoke angry and violent reactions. That is why the 1986 Act, with the effects of some demonstrations on ethnic minorities clearly in mind, introduced criteria to ensure that individuals can go about their business free from intimidation.

It seems that the police have the professional expertise and the powers under the current law to make the operational decisions needed. To ask them to assess the likelihood of racial hatred being stirred up would be much more difficult and subjective and would not, for the reasons that I have given, be of much help. Of course, where those taking part in a demonstration incite racial hatred, the police may take action under part III of the Act. On that matter, in due course, I would again like to see the considered opinion of the Select Committee on how marches may be better managed as part of the wider questions of group defamation and the stirring up of racial hatred in a society which values freedom of expression and the right to demonstrate.

I do not believe that new clause 98 would alter that balance as it would not give the police any useful additional powers. If it did anything, it would confuse the basis on which they are properly required to make an operational judgment as to the impact of a march on public order.

Sir Ivan Lawrence


Mr. Lloyd

As I have been talking of my hon. and learned Friend, I shall give way.

Sir Ivan Lawrence

We were asked to add those conditions by the police. If they do not understand the present law, what on earth is the likelihood of the ethnic minority communities in Britain understanding it?

Mr. Lloyd

I am certain that my hon. and learned Friend has spoken to some policemen. I would like to see the informed, complete, official response to the suggestions of the police and the Association of Chief Police Officers. Of course, we shall get that with the Select Committee report.

We have a limited time for the debate. I hope that I have managed to persuade the proposers of the new clauses that it would be better not to press them to a vote. If I have not, I must ask my hon. Friends to vote against them, except, of course, new clause 125, which I trust that the whole House will accept with acclamation.

5.45 pm
Ms Diane Abbott (Hackney, North and Stoke Newington)

I rise to support new clause 13. The Minister asked why we should single out racial attacks for special legislative treatment—treatment that is not applied to attacks on disabled or elderly people. We should do so because nobody ever builds a mass political movement out of smashing those groups' windows—or out of spitting on them, assaulting them or killing them in their millions. In the lifetime of some hon. Members present in the Chamber, mass political movements in Europe have been built with the building blocks of individual acts of racial violence.

A responsible Government who were aware of the patterns of rising racial and fascist violence in Europe would see the need to send a message from Parliament to individual racists and fascists and to those terrorising black and Asian people saying that racism is a phenomenon—a social and political manifestation—that our society will not tolerate. Racial attacks ought to be singled out in the way set out in the new clause because of what they represent politically—a threat to the stability of society that no amount of individual attacks on elderly, poor or disabled people could ever represent. I am surprised that the Minister, who is normally a man of some sensitivity and insight, cannot see that simple point.

Britain's black and Asian communities wish that even at this late stage the Government will change their mind on the issue of racial harassment. They want to see the law changed first and foremost because no amount of legal quibbling and juggling with figures can bring home to people who do not experience racial attacks the fear and terror that individual acts of racial violence and low-level harassment can cause.

The Minister said that few acts of racial harassment are acts of violence. Tell that to Asian women who are trapped in their flats week in, week out because they are frightened to leave—because they are spat on, because they are shouted at and because they have graffiti on their doors. It is all very well to produce figures that say that those are not acts of violence, but for a woman who speaks little English and is frightened to leave her house for weeks, for months, for years, the situation is just as threatening as any individual act of violence.

Black and Asian people want new clause 13 to be accepted because we believe that many people underestimate the effect on individual communities of the fear of racial harassment and attacks. We want new clause 13 to be accepted because one of the problems with racial harassment is getting different communities in different places to report it. In my local Jewish community in Stamford Hill there is great fear and reluctance to report acts of racial violence to the authorities—and that goes for many different types of community in many different areas.

If Parliament made new clause 13 law, that would give the different ethnic minorities increased confidence to come forward and report acts of violence.

Mr. Jeremy Corbyn (Islington, North)

Does my hon. Friend agree that one of the problems is that while there is a sort of permissive element in whether the police report or treat an incident as a racially motivated crime, many people are afraid to report such incidents to the police? Does not too much depend on the discretion of individual police officers on desk duty at a particular time? The advantage of our new clause is that it would force all police officers to take the issue of racial violence seriously, and thus give communities greater confidence in reporting the sort of horrors that my hon. Friend has rightly described.

Ms Abbott

I agree with my hon. Friend.

Britain's black and Asian communities want not crocodile tears from the Minister about how terrible such attacks are, but a recognition of the plight of tens of thousands of people, whether as communities or as individuals. Individuals can be trapped on estates, with one person being the only member of a particular minority. Those people want recognition of their plight. They want legislative action. They want an acknowledgement from the Government that individual acts are not merely random acts of violence, however reprehensible those may be, but represent the building blocks of a political tide. Unless the politicians of this country stand up against that tide it could bring to this country the sort of political movements and the sort of violence that we are now seeing in the rest of Europe.

Ms Ruddock

With the leave of the House, Mr. Deputy Speaker, I shall speak again.

When I opened the debate on the Opposition's new clause 13, on 28 March, I was mindful of two things. The first was the fact that the overwhelming weight of the evidence on racial attacks and harassment given to the Select Committee on Home Affairs was supportive of Labour's proposals in the new clause. The second was that every ministerial statement on the subject of racially motivated crime had displayed an extreme reluctance to legislate effectively on the issue.

My expectations both of the Minister and of the position of the Select Committee have been met in full today. It is clear that in tabling their new clauses members of the Select Committee have responded to community concerns and to expert opinion such as that of the Commission for Racial Equality and the Board of Deputies of British Jews, which agreed with us that a range of new measures was required and should be tabled for Report.

Dame Jill Knight (Birmingham, Edgbaston)

I want there to be no misunderstanding about the fact that the Home Affairs Committee was divided six to four on the matter.

Mr. Corbyn

Name the four.

Dame Jill Knight

For various reasons that I shall not go into now, four of us strongly disagreed with the wisdom of what is now being suggested.

Ms Ruddock

Nothing that the hon. Lady has said changes the fact that there was a majority in favour. I was speaking especially of the expert evidence given to the Select Committee.

The range of measures tabled by those holding the majority view on the Select Committee, and the range of measures that we and other Opposition Members have tabled provide for enhanced penalties to be applied on proof of racial motivation in the commission of violent offences, and for the creation of new harassment and incitement offences.

I agree with the hon. and learned Member for Burton (Sir I. Lawrence) that if the racial motivation test is applied, that motive will be sought by the police and by the courts, and it will be found where it exists. That is what is so essential about the test of racial motivation. That is why it should be mandatory.

The hon. and learned Member for Burton believes, as we do, that racial incidents have increased. The Minister did much to try to rubbish that notion, and to try to talk down the extent of the problem and the pain that it causes. He cited in evidence the British crime survey, but that deals with two racial groups in particular, and does not even consider racial motivation in offences committed against members of the Jewish community. There is no doubt in the minds of the experts dealing with the issue that such attacks and incidents are on the increase, and are very serious.

I further remind the Minister that other surveys have suggested that only one in 20 racial incidents is reported. I remind him that there are believed to have been 14 racially motivated murders in this country over the past two years. Yet when I asked a parliamentary question about homicide one of his ministerial colleagues told me that the police are not specifically requested to note whether they consider racial motivation to be a factor".—[0fficial Report, 7 February 1994; Vol. 237, c. 24.] That is a disgrace. If the Minister feels that the huge number of racial incidents cannot be tested for the purposes of record surely at least the most serious violent offences should be categorised as to whether ethnic and racial motivations were a factor.

I remind the Minister that we do not know what the clear-up rates for racial incidents are. We do not know how effective the present law is, although most of us believe that it is entirely deficient. In another parliamentary answer I was told that there were no plans to require the police to publish clear-up rates for racial incidents".—[Official Report, 11 March 1994; Vol. 239, c. 414.] The Minister's speech was a disgrace. There is a wide consensus on the range of new measures needed to deal with the rising incidence of racial attacks and harassment, yet the Minister gave us the most minimal of responses. Of course we shall support new clause 125, but he spoke about a new offence of persistent racial harassment. That is a totally inadequate response to all the evidence that has come before both the Select Committee and his own committee, and the evidence that has emerged in the Standing Committee and during the earlier debates on Report.

We may ask why the Government are bothering to do anything at all, as they deny all the evidence and expertise brought before them. I can tell the House why, because I have here a letter sent by the Home Secretary to the Lord Privy Seal, which says that there has been intense public and Parliamentary pressure … for changes in the law on racially motivated crimes.

The letter mentions the pressure that the Government are under not only from the official Opposition but from their own Back Benchers, and describes the Home Secretary's concern that … the Government's position is likely to become untenable and at the very least open us to enormous criticism, especially once the urgent measures relating to stop and search powers I intend to introduce in the Bill become public. The proposed new powers are already being described in the minority press as recreating the discredited "sus" law and there are serious implications for both community relations and to public order if we are unable to present any positive counter-balance. It is therefore important that the Government take the initiative on racial crimes if it is to counteract the belief amongst ethnic minority communities that we do not take their concerns equally seriously. That is why the Government have proposed that most minimal of responses—because they are concerned about mounting pressures, and are deeply embarrassed because they have not been able to satisfy their own Back Benchers. More importantly, I believe that they understand that concern will be caused by the proposed new stop and search powers—concern that could properly be met by accepting the proposals of the official Opposition. Cynically, the Government seek to counteract the concerns of the ethnic minority communities, of which they are aware, by making the minimal proposal of a persistent harassment offence. That is a cynical move by the Government. It is totally unacceptable and it flies in the face of all the evidence that has been brought before them.

The letter does not try to persuade the Cabinet and the Prime Minister that racially motivated crime is on the increase, that it is serious and pernicious and that it needs to be dealt with effectively. It is a defensive, purely party political document and one that the Government, and the Home Secretary in particular, will regret writing.

It is absolutely unacceptable that the Government will not respond to new clause 13 in a more effective and sympathetic way. It is even more unacceptable that they cannot respond effectively to the new clauses that have been tabled by the Select Committee on Home Affairs on an all-party basis and with our support. The Government will remain deserving of our utmost criticism and condemnation and will continue to be under real pressure to deal with the matter in another place.

As Labour Members and so many of the Minister's colleagues have said, there is a need to do much more, but the Minister has not gone forward in any way to meet that need. He could not have heard the position spelt out more clearly than it was by the hon. and learned Member for Burton, who spoke to no fewer than five amendments dealing with racially motivated crime—or, indeed, by my right hon. Friend the Member for Manchester, Gorton (Mr. Kaufman), who spoke so movingly about the horrific offence of racial violence and racial harassment.

6 pm

Today, the Minister seemed to suggest that racial harassment would be a crime or would really hurt people only if it was repetitive. I tell him that once is enough: people who have been spat at, or who have had their homes daubed, or who have had violence perpetrated against them because of their colour or creed know that there is a need to strengthen the laws of this country.

The Minister says that the proposed measures would be divisive—that people will simply say that they would have a better deal from the law if they were black. Does he not appreciate the words of my hon. Friend the Member for Hackney, North and Stoke Newington (Ms Abbott), who aptly described the way in which this is a matter of organised violence against individuals on the basis of colour or creed? Does he not accept that a person who has been the subject of harassment or violent attack which is motivated on racial grounds is a victim twice over: once of the crime—the violence or whatever—and once of racial motivation? That is a double burden that must be borne by the victim and it is something for which a double penalty is appropriate.

We are not satisfied in any way by the Minister's explanation of why the new clauses tabled by the Select Committee should not be accepted. We will press them to a vote. More important, the Minister has not appreciated the strength of feeling and the weight of evidence on the issue. We shall pursue the issue wherever we must if the Minister continues to fail the ethnic minority communities with his attitude today.

Mr. Hartley Booth (Finchley)

The way in which the debate has proceeded makes it absolutely clear that all hon. Members are united about one thing: their detestation of racism and any form of anti-semitism. It is also obvious that initially many hon. Members welcomed the clause tabled by the hon. Member for Lewisham, Deptford (Ms Ruddock) for the obvious reason that many of us support it and there was unity of feeling about it with regard to my Racial Hatred and Violence Bill a few weeks ago. But life in politics moves on: a week in politics is a long time.

Over the Easter recess, we heard that the Government will go forward, although we have not heard any details of the proposals. I hope that the matter is not regarded as one of petty party political bickering. The issue is too important for party political bickering. Even my hon. Friend the Member for Hornsey and Wood Green (Mrs. Roche) accepted that persistent violence, persistent harassment and persistent incidents created an offence and a situation that needs to be dealt with. Apparently, that is what the Government will deal with—at least according to a leak last week.

Before hon. Members deride what I am saying, they should hear that what the Government intend to do is much more, much deeper and much more effective than new clause 13. Although we heard those good intentions derided a few moments ago, there is no doubt at all that Tory Members are deeply against any form of racism and that the measure brought forward—as we imagine from the leak that we read on the front page of The Daily Telegraph on Friday—will go much further.

Although initially Tory Members could perhaps be persuaded by new clause 13, on further consideration, and having heard what the Government will do, I feel that the new clause should be abandoned. Hon. Members should abstain from voting on new clause 13 and support what the Government propose.

Mr. Vaz

When the hon. Member for Finchley (Mr. Booth) got up to speak, I thought that he would support new clause 13 because it is in keeping with the private Member's Bill that he introduced last year, of which I am a co-sponsor. He recognises, as Labour Members recognise, that it is important for the House to make a decision today that will send out to the black and Asian communities the message that we care about their plight in the current circumstances.

I was not going to speak in the debate until I heard the Minister's speech. Like my hon. Friend the Member for Hackney, North and Stoke Newington (Ms Abbott) I have a soft spot for the Minister, having dealt with him for many years when he was the immigration Minister. I say nothing more than "soft spot". Today, Labour Members who know the Minister and who have had dealings with him will be astonished by his extraordinary attack on the black and Asian community in Britain. Here is the Minister responsible for community relations. He is responsible for going to the black and Asian community week after week —I have been at many engagements with him—and telling the community how much the Government support them. Today, he came to the Dispatch Box and put to the House this choice: we either support the white pensioner or the Asian mother. That is exactly what he said today.

Mr. Peter Lloyd

I was simply saying that the law should not distinguish; it should take in the circumstances of the particular case.

Mr. Vaz

Here is the Minister who wriggled throughout his speech. He has already had a Select Committee report that was produced five years ago under the chairmanship of the right hon. Member for Westminster, North (Sir J. Wheeler). I know about that report because I served on the Home Affairs Committee. Five years ago, the Committee took a great deal of evidence on the issue.

What did the Minister say today? He criticised the hon. and learned Member for Burton (Sir I. Lawrence) because his report is not ready, as though the Minister is waiting for the report before he can decide what to do about the issue. That is a disgrace for a Minister who is supposed to be protecting the people of Great Britain. The right hon. Gentleman knows the statistics. He knows that in the time that it took him to speak today—20 minutes—another black or Asian family has been attacked in Britain in 1994.

We can all condemn racial attacks on fellow citizens, but the important thing is what we propose to do about them. The Minister said that he did not propose to do anything other than reclassify offences and wait for another report. He was waiting for new guidelines from the Association of Chief Police Officers. He would do everything under the sun except take proper action to protect the black and Asian community. That is what the right hon. Gentleman told the House.

Mr. Lloyd

What I said was that the Opposition's new clauses would not protect the black community, that they were ineffectual, pretentious and self-indulgent and would not help to solve a problem which I, like the hon. Gentleman, know is very real. It is a problem that deserves better argument than has been presented by the hon. Gentleman.

Mr. Vaz

The Minister now says that there is a problem. I am grateful for the fact that he has moved from his original statement, in which he questioned the extent of attacks in Britain.

Mr. Lloyd

I did not.

Mr. Vaz

The hon. Gentleman talked about estimates that were being made and said that criminal damage did not really matter as it was not a serious issue. He will be able to read the report of his words in Hansard. He was concerned only about the most serious attacks.

I know about these issues as I was subjected to attacks from the moment of my arrival in this country. As the representative of a constituency that is 70 per cent. non-Asian, I realise that it is very important that legislation on race issues be undertaken very carefully indeed. In this regard, Parliament must bring the nation with it. That is how I conduct my duties as a Member of Parliament. I represent everyone in my constituency.

There comes a time when the hand-wringing must stop —when the Minister must stop blaming the Select Committee on Home Affairs and other agencies and start taking effective action. The right hon. Gentleman could have come to the House and made a statement about changing the law of which every hon. Member would have been proud. We live in a multicultural society. We are proud of Britain's achievements and want to make sure that they continue. Race relations legislation is based on the fact that a minority of people are subjected to racial attack. The House of Commons must protect those people and, indeed, white pensioners who are attacked, through effective law and order legislation. But the Government refuse to introduce such legislation. The matter is in the Minister's hands. He must stop wriggling and ensure that effective action is taken.

Finally, I want to tell the House a story about a person in London—not a constituent of mine—who came to see me two weeks ago. This gentleman came to Britain as a first-generation immigrant and established himself here. He now owns five chemist shops in the east end of London. When he was driving in the east end he was dragged out of his car and kicked and otherwise attacked, and he had to go to hospital for treatment. The Crown Prosecution Service refuses to prosecute those responsible on the ground that they are already the subject of a list of offences. It will not take effective action.

We must today send out, not just to the black and Asian community but to the country at large, the message that we are not prepared to do nothing. Action must be taken to protect our fellow citizens.

6.15 pm
Mr. Stephen Byers (Wallsend)

In a very short time I shall join my hon. Friends in voting for new clause 13. I speak as one of the majority of members of the Select Committee on Home Affairs who tabled new clause 127, which would create a new specific offence of racially motivated violence. The Chairman of the Select Committee—the hon. and learned Member for Burton (Sir I. Lawrence)—has addressed adequately the substance of the issues and the reasons for tabling the new clause. As the offence that would be created is very specific and very clear I should like, Mr. Deputy Speaker, to notify you formally that a majority of the Select Committee's members and, I believe, a large number of hon. Members in general would like to have a separate Division on new clause 127.

Mr. Deputy Speaker (Mr. Michael Morris)

The hon. Gentleman would need the leave of the House. [HON. MEMBERS: "No."] It appears that leave is refused.

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

The divided: Ayes 247, Noes 285.

Division No. 192] [6.15 pm
Abbott, Ms Diane Bayley, Hugh
Adams, Mrs Irene Beckett, Rt Hon Margaret
Ainger, Nick Beith, Rt Hon A. J.
Ainsworth, Robert (Cov'try NE) Bell, Stuart
Allen, Graham Bonn, Rt Hon Tony
Alton, David Bennett, Andrew F.
Anderson, Donald (Swansea E) Benton, Joe
Anderson, Ms Janet (Ros'dale) Bermingham, Gerald
Armstrong, Hilary Berry, Roger
Ashton, Joe Betts, Clive
Austin-Walker, John Blair, Tony
Banks, Tony (Newham NW) Blunkett, David
Barron, Kevin Boateng, Paul
Battle, John Boyes, Roland
Bradley, Keith Heppell, John
Bray, Dr Jeremy Hill, Keith (Streatham)
Brown, Gordon (Dunfermline E) Hinchliffe, David
Brown, N. (N'c'tle upon Tyne E) Hoey, Kate
Burden, Richard Hogg, Norman (Cumbernauld)
Byers, Stephen Home Robertson, John
Caborn, Richard Hood, Jimmy
Callaghan, Jim Hoon, Geoffrey
Campbell, Mrs Anne (C'bridge) Howarth, George (Knowsley N)
Campbell, Menzies (Fife NE) Howells, Dr. Kim (Pontypridd)
Campbell, Ronnie (Blyth V) Hughes, Kevin (Doncaster N)
Campbell-Savours, D. N. Hughes, Robert (Aberdeen N)
Cann, Jamie Hughes, Roy (Newport E)
Carlile, Alexander (Montgomry) Hume, John
Chisholm, Malcolm Hutton, John
Clapham, Michael Illsley, Eric
Clark, Dr David (South Shields) Ingram, Adam
Clarke, Eric (Midlothian) Jackson, Glenda (H'stead)
Clarke, Tom (Monklands W) Jackson, Helen (Shef'ld, H)
Clelland, David Jamieson, David
Clwyd, Mrs Ann Janner, Greville
Coffey, Ann Jones, Barry (Alyn and D'side)
Connarty, Michael Jones, Lynne (B'ham S O)
Cook, Robin (Livingston) Jones, Martyn (Clwyd, SW)
Corbett, Robin Jones, Nigel (Cheltenham)
Corbyn, Jeremy Jowell, Tessa
Corston, Ms Jean Kaufman, Rt Hon Gerald
Cousins, Jim Keen, Alan
Cunningham, Jim (Covy SE) Kennedy, Charles (Ross,C&S)
Cunningham, Rt Hon Dr John Kennedy, Jane (Lpool Brdgn)
Dafis, Cynog Khabra, Piara S.
Dalyell, Tam Kinnock, Rt Hon Neil (Islwyn)
Darling, Alistair Kirkwood, Archy
Davidson, Ian Lestor, Joan (Eccles)
Davies, Bryan (Oldham C'tral) Lewis, Terry
Davies, Rt Hon Denzil (Llanelli) Livingstone, Ken
Davies, Ron (Caerphilly) Lloyd, Tony (Stretford)
Denham, John Llwyd, Elfyn
Dewar, Donald Loyden, Eddie
Dixon, Don Lynne, Ms Liz
Dobson, Frank McAllion, John
Donohoe, Brian H. McCartney, Ian
Dunnachie, Jimmy Macdonald, Calum
Eagle, Ms Angela McFall, John
Enright, Derek McGrady, Eddie
Etherington, Bill McKelvey, William
Evans, John (St Helens N) McLeish, Henry
Ewing, Mrs Margaret Maclennan, Robert
Fatchett, Derek McMaster, Gordon
Faulds, Andrew McNamara, Kevin
Field, Frank (Birkenhead) McWilliam, John
Fisher, Mark Mahon, Alice
Flynn, Paul Mallon, Seamus
Foster, Rt Hon Derek Mandelson, Peter
Foulkes, George Marek, Dr John
Fraser, John Marshall, David (Shettleston)
Fyfe, Maria Marshall, Jim (Leicester, S)
Galbraith, Sam Martin, Michael J. (Springburn)
Galloway, George Martlew, Eric
Gapes, Mike Maxton, John
Garrett, John Meale, Alan
George, Bruce Michael, Alun
Gerrard, Neil Michie, Bill (Sheffield Heeley)
Godman, Dr Norman A. Michie, Mrs Ray (Argyll Bute)
Golding, Mrs Llin Milburn, Alan
Gordon, Mildred Miller, Andrew
Gould, Bryan Mitchell, Austin (Gt Grimsby)
Graham, Thomas Moonie, Dr Lewis
Grant, Bemie (Tottenham) Morgan, Rhodri
Griffiths, Win (Bridgend) Morley, Elliot
Grocott, Bruce Morris, Rt Hon A. (Wy'nshawe)
Gunnell, John Morris, Estelle (B'ham Yardley)
Hain, Peter Morris, Rt Hon J. (Aberavon)
Hall, Mike Mowlam, Marjorie
Hanson, David Mudie, George
Harman, Ms Harriet Mullin, Chris
Harvey, Nick Murphy, Paul
Hattersley, Rt Hon Roy O'Brien, Michael (N W'kshire)
Henderson, Doug O'Hara, Edward
Hendron, Dr Joe Olner, William
O'Neill, Martin Spearing, Nigel
Patchett, Terry Spellar, John
Pendry, Tom Squire, Rachel (Dunfermline W)
Pickthall, Colin Steel, Rt Hon Sir David
Pike, Peter L. Steinberg, Gerry
Pope, Greg Stevenson, George
Powell, Ray (Ogmore) Stott, Roger
Prescott, John Strang, Dr. Gavin
Primarolo, Dawn Taylor, Mrs Ann (Dewsbury)
Purchase, Ken Turner, Dennis
Quin, Ms Joyce Vaz, Keith
Radice, Giles Walker, Rt Hon Sir Harold
Randall, Stuart Wallace, James
Raynsford, Nick Walley, Joan
Reid, Dr John Wardell, Gareth (Gower)
Robertson, George (Hamilton) Wareing, Robert N
Roche, Mrs. Barbara Watson, Mike
Rogers, Allan Welsh, Andrew
Rooker, Jeff Williams, Rt Hon Alan (Sw'n W)
Ross, Emie (Dundee W) Williams, Alan W (Carmarthen)
Rowlands, Ted Wilson, Brian
Ruddock, Joan Winnick, David
Sedgemore, Brian Wise, Audrey
Sheerman, Barry Worthington, Tony
Sheldon, Rt Hon Robert Wray, Jimmy
Shore, Rt Hon Peter Wright, Dr Tony
Short, Clare Young, David (Bolton SE)
Skinner, Dennis
Smith, Andrew (Oxford E) Tellers for the Ayes:
Smith, C. (Isl'ton S & F'sbury) Mr. Jon Owen Jones and
Smith, Llew (Blaenau Gwent) Mr. Peter Kilfoyle.
Soley, Clive
Ainsworth, Peter (East Surrey) Clappison, James
Aitken, Jonathan Clark, Dr Michael (Rochford)
Alison, Rt Hon Michael (Selby) Clarke, Rt Hon Kenneth (Ruclif)
Amess, David Clifton-Brown, Geoffrey
Ancram, Michael Coe, Sebastian
Arbuthnot, James Colvin, Michael
Arnold, Jacques (Gravesham) Congdon, David
Arnold, Sir Thomas (Hazel Grv) Conway, Derek
Ashby, David Coombs, Simon (Swindon)
Aspinwall, Jack Cope, Rt Hon Sir John
Atkins, Robert Couchman, James
Atkinson, Peter (Hexham) Cran, James
Baker, Nicholas (Dorset North) Currie, Mrs Edwina (S D'by'ire)
Baldry, Tony Curry, David (Skipton & Ripon)
Banks, Matthew (Southport) Davies, Quentin (Stamford)
Banks, Robert (Harrogate) Davis, David (Boothferry)
Bates, Michael Day, Stephen
Beggs, Roy Deva, Nirj Joseph
Bellingham, Henry Devlin, Tim
Bendall, Vivian Dickens, Geoffrey
Beresford, Sir Paul Dorrell, Stephen
Biffen, Rt Hon John Douglas-Hamilton, Lord James
Blackburn, Dr John G. Dover, Den
Body, Sir Richard Duncan, Alan
Bonsor, Sir Nicholas Duncan-Smith, Iain
Booth, Hartley Dunn, Bob
Boswell, Tim Eggar, Tim
Bottomley, Peter (Eltham) Elletson, Harold
Bottomley, Rt Hon Virginia Emery, Rt Hon Sir Peter
Bowden, Andrew Evans, David (Welwyn Hatfield)
Bowis, John Evans, Jonathan (Brecon)
Boyson, Rt Hon Sir Rhodes Evans, Nigel (Ribble Valley)
Brandreth, Gyles Evans, Roger (Monmouth)
Brazier, Julian Evennett, David
Bright, Graham Faber, David
Brooke, Rt Hon Peter Fabricant, Michael
Brown, M. (Brigg & Cl'thorpes) Field, Barry (Isle of Wight)
Browning, Mrs. Angela Fishburn, Dudley
Burns, Simon Forman, Nigel
Burt, Alistair Forth, Eric
Butcher, John Fowler, Rt Hon Sir Norman
Carlisle, Kenneth (Lincoln) Fox, Dr Liam (Woodspring)
Carrington, Matthew Fox, Sir Marcus (Shipley)
Carttiss, Michael Freeman, Rt Hon Roger
Chapman, Sydney French, Douglas
Churchill, Mr Gale, Roger
Gallie, Phil Major, Rt Hon John
Gardiner, Sir George Malone, Gerald
Garel-Jones, Rt Hon Tristan Mans, Keith
Garnier, Edward Marland, Paul
Gill, Christopher Marlow, Tony
Gillan, Cheryl Marshall, John (Hendon S)
Goodlad, Rt Hon Alastair Martin, David (Portsmouth S)
Goodson-Wickes, Dr Charles Mawhinney, Rt Hon Dr Brian
Gorman, Mrs Teresa Mellor, Rt Hon David
Gorst, John Merchant, Piers
Grant, Sir A. (Cambs SW) Mills, Iain
Greenway, Harry (Ealing N) Mitchell, Andrew (Gedling)
Greenway, John (Ryedale) Mitchell, Sir David (Hants NW)
Griffiths, Peter (Portsmouth, N) Moate, Sir Roger
Grylls, Sir Michael Molyneaux, Rt Hon James
Gummer, Rt Hon John Selwyn Monro, Sir Hector
Hague, William Montgomery, Sir Fergus
Hamilton, Neil (Tatton) Moss, Malcolm
Hampson, Dr Keith Nelson, Anthony
Hanley, Jeremy Neubert, Sir Michael
Hannam, Sir John Newton, Rt Hon Tony
Hargreaves, Andrew Nicholls, Patrick
Harris, David Nicholson, David (Taunton)
Haselhurst, Alan Nicholson, Emma (Devon West)
Hawkins, Nick Norris, Steve
Hawksley, Warren Onslow, Rt Hon Sir Cranley
Heald, Oliver Ottaway, Richard
Heathcoat-Amory, David Page, Richard
Hendry, Charles Paice, James
Heseltine, Rt Hon Michael Patnick, Irvine
Hicks, Robert Pattie, Rt Hon Sir Geoffrey
Higgins, Rt Hon Sir Terence L. Pawsey, James
Hill, James (Southampton Test) Peacock, Mrs Elizabeth
Hogg, Rt Hon Douglas (G'tham) Pickles, Eric
Horam, John Porter, Barry (Wirral S)
Hordern, Rt Hon Sir Peter Porter, David (Waveney)
Howard, Rt Hon Michael Portillo, Rt Hon Michael
Howarth, Alan (Strat'rd-on-A) Redwood, Rt Hon John
Howell, Rt Hon David (G'dford) Renton, Rt Hon Tim
Hunt, Rt Hon David (Wirral W) Richards, Rod
Hunter, Andrew Riddick, Graham
Hurd, Rt Hon Douglas Robathan, Andrew
Jackson, Robert (Wantage) Robertson, Raymond (Ab'd'n S)
Jenkin, Bemard Robinson, Mark (Somerton)
Jessel, Toby Roe, Mrs Marion (Broxbourne)
Johnson Smith, Sir Geoffrey Ross, William (E Londonderry)
Jones, Robert B. (W Hertfdshr) Rowe, Andrew (Mid Kent)
Jopling, Rt Hon Michael Rumbold, Rt Hon Dame Angela
Kellett-Bowman, Dame Elaine Ryder, Rt Hon Richard
Key, Robert Sackville, Tom
Kilfedder, Sir James Scott, Rt Hon Nicholas
King, Rt Hon Tom Shaw, David (Dover)
Kirkhope, Timothy Shaw, Sir Giles (Pudsey)
Knapman, Roger Shephard, Rt Hon Gillian
Knight, Mrs Angela (Erewash) Shepherd, Richard (Aldridge)
Knight, Greg (Derby N) Shersby, Michael
Knight, Dame Jill (Bir'm E'st'n) Sims, Roger
Knox, Sir David Skeet, Sir Trevor
Kynoch, George (Kincardine) Smith, Tim (Beaconsfield)
Lait, Mrs Jacqui Smyth, Rev Martin (Belfast S)
Lang, Rt Hon Ian Soames, Nicholas
Legg, Barry Spicer, Sir James (W Dorset)
Leigh, Edward Spicer, Michael (S Worcs)
Lennox-Boyd, Mark Spink, Dr Robert
Lester, Jim (Broxtowe) Spring, Richard
Lidington, David Sproat, Iain
Lightbown, David Squire, Robin (Hornchurch)
Lilley, Rt Hon Peter Stanley, Rt Hon Sir John
Lloyd, Rt Hon Peter (Fareham) Steen, Anthony
Lord, Michael Stephen, Michael
Luff, Peter Stewart, Allan
Lyell, Rt Hon Sir Nicholas Streeter, Gary
MacGregor, Rt Hon John Sweeney, Walter
MacKay, Andrew Sykes, John
Maclean, David Tapsell, Sir Peter
McLoughlin, Patrick Taylor, Ian (Esher)
McNair-Wilson, Sir Patrick Taylor, Rt Hon John D. (Strgfd)
Madel, Sir David Taylor, John M. (Solihull)
Maginnis, Ken Taylor, Sir Teddy (Southend, E)
Maitland, Lady Olga Temple-Morris, Peter
Thomason, Roy Wells, Bowen
Thompson, Sir Donald (C'er V) Wheeler, Rt Hon Sir John
Thornton, Sir Malcolm Whitney, Ray
Thurnham, Peter Whittingdale, John
Townsend, Cyril D. (Bexl'yh'th) Widdecombe, Ann
Tracey, Richard Wiggin, Sir Jerry
Tredinnick, David Wilkinson, John
Trend, Michael Willetts, David
Trimble, David Wilshire, David
Trotter, Neville Winterton, Mrs Ann (Congleton)
Twinn, Dr Ian Winterton, Nicholas (Macc'f'ld)
Vaughan, Sir Gerard Wolfson, Mark
Viggers, Peter Yeo, Tim
Walden, George Young, Rt Hon Sir George
Walker, Bill (N Tayside)
Waller, Gary Tellers for the Noes:
Wardle, Charles (Bexhill) Mr. Timothy Wood and
Waterson, Nigel Mr. Robert C. Hughes.
Watts, John

Question accordingly negatived.

  1. New Clause 124
    1. cc68-86
  2. New Clause 125
    1. c86
  3. New Clause 15
    1. cc86-94
    2. LAW OF MURDER 4,394 words, 1 division
  4. New Clause 17
    1. cc94-104
    2. FIREARMS OFFENCES (PENALTIES) 6,332 words, 1 division
  5. New Clause 21
    1. cc104-25
    2. DOGS 12,509 words, 1 division
  6. New Clause 22
    1. cc126-9
    2. DIGGING FOR WILD ANIMALS 2,317 words, 1 division
  7. New clause 42
    1. cc129-41
  8. New Clause 60
    1. cc141-54
  9. New Clause 66
    1. cc154-7
    2. TOUTING 1,670 words
  10. New Clause 69
    1. cc157-68