HL Deb 11 May 1911 vol 8 cc316-35

Amendments reported (according to order).


My Lords, in asking your Lordships to agree to the insertion, in Clause 2, of the words "and it shall be the duty of the police to remove such offender," I should under ordinary circumstances regard it as my duty to apologies to the House for reviving a discussion on a point on which a Division was taken the other night in Committee; but I venture to think that that Division was taken under rather peculiar circumstances. In the first place, before the House went into Committee I think very few noble Lords were aware that the noble Lord in charge of the Bill intended to agree to, or to move, the omission of these words—not, as he explained to the House, because he was anxious to see the words removed, but in consequence of what I think I am not going too far in saying were the orders or threats of the Home Office that unless he consented to this they would prevent the Bill passing into law. We were not favoured on that occasion with any argument whatever on the part of the Home Office. I do not, of course, complain of the words that fell from my noble friend Lord Allendale, who represented the Government on that occasion with the courtesy which he always exhibits, but he told us himself that he represents in this House the Local Government Board and not the Home Office, and that the instructions of the Home Office were to say that they would not have this.

The Committee were placed at some disadvantage owing to the unfortunate absence through illness of the noble Marquess, Lord Salisbury, who had been Chairman of the Select Committee appointed to consider this Bill; and we were at, perhaps, a still greater disadvantage owing to the equally regrettable absence of Lord Onslow, who could have spoken, from his own knowledge of the countryside, of the nuisance caused by gipsies and van dwellers. There was a third disadvantage that we who supported the original Bill were under on that occasion, because the Second Reading debate took place as long ago as May, 1909, and I think the objects of the Bill were not very fresh in the memory of many members of the House who were present when the Committee stage was taken a few weeks ago. I am not going to weary your Lordships by going into the whole history of this legislation, but I think all parties in your Lordships' House agreed that there was a considerable evil existing which required legislation. Not only were great inconvenience and loss caused to private individuals in the neighbourhood of open spaces where van-dwellers are in the habit of encamping, but there were far more serious evils of a public nature—evils in regard to sanitation and arising from the fires which were lit by these people—and I think that all parties were agreed that it would be a good thing that there should be some legislation on the subject.

Consequently a Select Committee of your Lordships' House was appointed, of which, as I have said, Lord Salisbury was chairman. That Committee made two recommendations of a concurrent nature. The first was that county councils should be empowered to provide camping grounds where proper sanitation could be enforced, and the concurrent recommendation was that the police were to be authorised, where such camping grounds had been established, to, in the words of the Amendment which I am now submitting to the House, remove offenders when found "squatting" elsewhere. Those were the joint and concurrent recommendations of the Select Committee. In Paragraph 11 of their Report the Select Committee say that wherever a county council consider that van-dwellers are in such numbers as to involve the evils which the Committee describe, they shall be empowered to provide camping ground for them under such conditions as might be prescribed by the Local Government Board; and the Committee go on to say that it would, of course, follow that where this power was exercised and camping grounds provided, the encampment of these people on other places would be prohibited, and that it would be the duty of the police forthwith to see that that was observed. I think the House will agree that these recommendations were of a two-fold and concurrent nature—that if camping grounds were to be provided by the county council powers should be given to the police to remove these van-dwellers from other places. Without giving that power the Bill would be absolutely nugatory.

Consider for a moment what would be the effect of leaving out these words. Van-dwellers would be offered two alternatives. They might, on payment of the fee mentioned in the Bill, use the county council camping ground, or they might "squat" gratis elsewhere; and is any noble Lord going to suppose for a moment that these people would take the first of those alternatives? Without this power given to the police to remove them, I think I am justified in saying that the Bill would be absolutely useless. I may be told that the Bill as it stands provides a penalty in the event of these van-dwellers not using the county council camping ground. Yes; but the penalty provided by the Bill would not be of the slightest effect. Clause 6 provides that— any person guilty of a breach of any order or regulation made under this Act shall on summary conviction be liable to a fine not exceeding forty shillings. Summary conviction sounds very attractive, like "justice while you wait," and like the advertisements of quick lunches for City clerks; but from what I know of the law of England there is nothing summary in it.

The majesty of the law is a lengthy and slow process, and I believe that as a matter of fact all summary conviction means in this case is that under Clause 6 a summons can be taken out against the person guilty of a breach of the enactment. The summons would be returnable at the next petty sessions, which might be three weeks off, by which time the van-dweller would be sixty or seventy miles off; and it has been demonstrated over and over again that there is immense difficulty in getting these people, even if summonses are served upon them, to turn up at the petty sessions to answer those summonses. These are an exceptional class of persons. They are nameless and homeless "Egyptians," and there is just as much difficulty in serving a summons upon them as there would be in serving a summons on a weasel or any other slippery animal, and when a summons has been served on them there is immense difficulty in getting them to appear. That is why this legislation has been brought in. This power which it is proposed to give to the police is, of course, a little exceptional, but as I have said, this is an exceptional class of people, and the concurrent remedies that were devised by the Select Committee are those which I must venture to ask your Lordships now to re-establish. As the clause at present stands, one remedy has been taken out. Only the camping ground remains; and I respectfully ask your Lordships to re-insert the concurrent remedy provided in the Bill before it was amended in Committee.

Amendment moved— Clause 2, page 2, line 24, after ("Act") insert ("and it shall be the duty of the police to remove such offender").—(Lord Hylton.)


My Lords, as a member of the Select Committee by whom this Bill was considered, perhaps your Lordships will allow me to say a word on this point. I do not know that I can add very much to the arguments of the noble Lord who has moved the Amendment, because they go to the root of the whole matter. The matter is an extremely simple one, and I do not think you can gainsay my noble friend's argument that if you take away the power of the police to act in this way you destroy the efficacy of the whole Bill. It is not desired in any way to act harshly towards these van-dwellers. The Report of the Select Committee states that the policy of driving van-dwellers off the face of the earth does not commend itself to the Committee. They say that wherever a county council consider that these van-dwellers are in such numbers as to involve the evils described the council should be empowered to provide camping grounds where it would be possible to enforce regulations; and if the regulations were not observed, then that the police should have power forthwith to prevent these evils happening. I know it is said that before the police step in there should be a decision of a legal tribunal. But I would point out that in certain cases, for instance in the regulation of traffic and matters of that sort, where very clear rules are laid down for the public guidance, if any person is caught obviously infringing the rules the police can at once interfere for the general convenience and the general good. I earnestly hope that your Lordships will take that point into consideration, and will support my noble friend's Amendment giving the police power to interfere where necessary for the public convenience and the public good.


My Lords, I feel that, representing the Home Office, I ought to make a few observations on the Amendment which Lord Hylton seeks to reintroduce into the Bill. Your Lordships will remember that these words were cut out in Committee as the result of a Division. I do not know whether the noble Lord who has moved this Amendment and the noble Lord who has just sat down quite appreciate the importance of the provision which they seek to insert. Its effect would be to create a new liability to arrest without warrant, and that is entirely contrary to the modern practice of Parliament except in cases of very serious crime; and I may say that in the case of all Private Bills where such a provision exists the Home Office on behalf of the Government always object to the insertion of such a clause. Further, Parliament itself has steadily refused to put into any recent Act such a provision as the noble Lord here seeks to introduce. So that when Lord Zouche said it was a very simple matter I venture to think he did not fully appreciate how serious a principle this Amendment would affect. In this case the objection is intensified because you do not seek to discriminate against a particular class of crime; you discriminate against a particular class of individual—namely, the van-dweller—and to do so seems to me not only most undesirable but most unjust. The noble Lord who moved this Amendment imagines that without the insertion of these words the Bill would be nugatory.


Hear, hear.


I think, however, I shall be able to show the noble Lord that that is very far from being the case. In the first place, the police would, of course, co-operate with the local authorities in enforcing this law.


May I ask the noble Lord how?


I will explain in a moment. They will, as I say, co-operate, and this offence will be one which is punishable on summary conviction. That in itself is a great advance on the present state of the law in regard to trespass. But observe what this proposal means. I would remind your Lordships that it applies not only to public land, but also to private land. By Clause 2, subsection (2), it is made applicable to any land in private occupation where camping takes place without the permission of the occupier of such land, so that the proposal cannot be defended on public grounds alone as if it applied only to public commons. The noble Duke asked me in what way the police would be able to assist local authorities in carrying out this law. I would draw his attention to the fact that the police habitually assist in enforcing the provisions of by-laws made by county councils. I have before me a list of county council by-laws in common form. They are very numerous, and include a great variety of subjects. For instance, they deal with music near houses, music near churches, noises by excursionists, noisy hawking, touting, street betting, shooting galleries, threatening language, fighting, nuisances contrary to public decency, wilful jostling, loitering at church doors—there are a host of things which form the subject of county council by-laws, and in these cases the police habitually assist the county councils in seeing that proper effect is given to the by-laws, and of course it would be their duty in this case to perform a similar office.

This Bill, as I said just now, marks a very great advance upon the present law of trespass. How great your Lordships will know, because under the present law it is extremely difficult to get any legal assistance in removing trespassers. I believe that the owner has to do the removing himself, and all that the police can do is to see that there is no violence and no breach of the peace. Anyhow the position of the private owner, and, indeed, of the public authority at the present moment, is not a very strong one. This Bill strengthens it immensely, for it will be possible for an occupier, whether a private individual or a local authority, to obtain a definite remedy at petty sessions.

One word with regard to Lord Hylton's objection on the ground that these individuals were by the very character and nature of their calling difficult to get at. He used language to the effect that they were "here to-day and gone to-morrow." Well, if they are gone to-morrow the object is attained. That is exactly what we seek to achieve, and I think as far as that is concerned we shall not suffer very much from the omission of this provision. But, of course, all migratory persons come under the same category, and it is one of those difficulties which are inherent in the case. But I do appeal to the noble Lord very strongly not to press this Amendment. The Home Office take a very serious view of it. It has been the practice of Parliament for many years to object, with the greatest regularity, to the insertion of any such provision, and I think this case is hardly sufficiently serious to warrant Parliament in making a new departure in principle.


Do the Home Office really contend that these are not an exceptional class of people? Why, this is exceptional legislation.


My Lords, whether you insert this provision or not is a matter entirely for your Lordships. I only rise to correct a mistake which was made by the noble Lord who spoke on behalf of the Home Office. The noble Lord said that this Amendment would justify arrest without warrant. It does nothing of the kind. It simply enables the police to move people on. These words would give them no additional power of arrest. If this had been a proposal empowering arrest, there would have been a great deal in the objection. I do not say whether the provision is necessary or not, but certainly it does not affect the power to arrest.


My Lords, I would remind the House that the Select Committee who considered this Bill, and of which I was a member, were unanimously of opinion that some power of this sort is necessary, and that the police are practically the only people who can preserve our commons, which are so essential for the health and benefit of the inhabitants of London, from this evil. The evil is really worse on those great stretches of common that surround London, and the Select Committee were very much impressed with the growth of the evil of recent years. I can say from my own experience, living in Surrey, that I cannot now allow my own children to go out on the Downs. My poorer neighbours are equally unable to let their children go alone on to these wastes and commons, and I look with the utmost apprehension to the loss of these great playgrounds around London. Every coroner in the county in which I live has called attention to this great evil. Only a month ago a child was burned to death in one of these vans, and the senior coroner of the county said— These people who encamped on commons were a perfect curse and nuisance to the community. He had over and over again made strong remarks as to the way in which these roving classes were allowed to occupy tents and caravans without any supervision whatever. They lived under most insanitary conditions, and he thought it was a national matter to see whether something could not be done to stop this state of things. The matter came up at the meeting of the Surrey County Council on Tuesday, and I believe the council were unanimous in thinking that the police are the only persons who can deal with this matter. Unfortunately, owing to a technical objection the particular motion could not be carried, but I have a letter from the chairman of the county council, in which he says that I am more than justified in stating that the council were practically unanimous in favour of having the police as the regulating authority in these particular cases. As has been pointed out by the Lord Chief Justice, the words do not refer to arrest but to removal. All we are anxious for is that there should be some power to remove these people. Before you can serve an injunction these people are away, and the only method of effectively dealing with them is to remove them off the common. Therefore I hope the Government will consider whether some words cannot be inserted which would at any rate give power to the police to co-operate in a more definite way than they do now.


My Lords, I must say I feel considerable pity for the noble Lord who represents the Home Office in this House. He seems to be very badly coached by the Department. He has already been corrected as to his law by the Lord Chief Justice, and. I am now going to call attention to some facts of which the noble Lord seems to be unaware. He spoke of the power of moving van-dwellers on from place to place as being quite sufficient to meet all the exigencies of the case. He told us just now that if you can move these people on, then there is no grievance. Is that the opinion of the Home Office?


I said the object was attained.


Well, is that the opinion of the Home Office? It is bad enough to be governed in this country by bureau, but at least they might know something about their business. Is it the opinion of the Home Office that if an owner or the commoners can move on people occupying the common the whole object is attained?


They have their remedy at petty sessions. Summary jurisdiction acts in this case.


I will come to that in a moment. The noble Lord says that if the power existed of moving these people on the object would be attained. Therefore the Home Office appear to be perfectly unaware that the state of things which exists in counties like the county of Surrey is that you have a continuous stream of these people coming often daily and trespassing in this way. I will tell the noble Lord of a case in Surrey. A gentleman affected told me that the whole of the area near his house was made positively insanitary by the number of people who "squatted" there all the winter in succession. If the object were attained by moving these people on, we should never have had a Movable Dwellings Bill at all.

The noble Lord who represents the Home Office next said that these persons could be summoned at petty sessions. That is something like telling a farmer that he can prevent damage from sparrows by putting salt upon the birds' tails. These people whom you are going to summon to petty sessions are off before you can catch them. Do you think it is practicable to track them all over a county and bring them before petty sessions for punishment? Moreover, the object is not the punishment of these unhappy people. The object is the correction of their mode of life, and the gradual conversion of their present nomad habits into something of a more permanent character. The whole feeling of the Select Committee was, as Lord Hylton has already said, strongly against hunting these people from place to place, and the object we had in view in recommending the formation of encampments was to avoid having to hunt them from place to place. I would impress upon the House that the recommendations of the Committee are useless unless you give some power of this kind.

I do not know what the noble Lord meant when he referred to the action of the police under by-laws passed by county councils. If the police can under the by-law of a county council move these people off the land—if the noble Lord will tell us that that power is given to the police, then it will meet our point. But we believe that whatever assistance the police may have to give to county councils under their by-laws, it will not include the power of removing these people from the ground on which they are, and that is the one thing which alone can make the provisions in this Bill operative. The original form of the Bill was that all these dwellers or the habitations which they occupy should be registered, and that is the strong feeling of a great many of the magistrates and those most acquainted with the subject in the counties. The Select Committee came to the conclusion that, however desirable, this was not possible for various reasons with which I need not now detain your Lordships, and we fell back upon the system of encampments as an alternative.

Encampments are awkward things for those who live in the vicinity. We did not conceal from ourselves that fact. I know perfectly well that landlords will be reluctant to give ground for encampments, and I am certain that the tenants of those landlords will be even more inclined to oppose encampments. Therefore a landlord will not only have to get over his own reluctance, but he will have to overcome the reluctance of his tenants before county councils are granted land for these encampments. But if van-dwellers are to have the same opportunity as now of occupying the roadside, the commons, or waste lands, and private land, and we are to fall back on the only remedy which we have at present, then none of these encampments will be formed and the Bill will become nugatory. I must say I think it is making fools of the members of a Select Committee of this House if they are called upon to sit and consider a question all round and hear the evidence of the Home Office, and are then to be told that they are to be over-ridden by the dictum of a bureau which is evidently totally unacquainted with the conditions of the subject. If this Amendment cannot be adopted, or something equivalent, I for one shall vote against the Third Reading of the Bill, for I will not be a party to putting an absolutely useless measure on the Statute book.


My Lords, I cannot help thinking that the noble Duke proves too much. No doubt it would be an extremely convenient thing for us all if our private rights could be enforced at our request by the police on demand, but that is not the law of this country, and if it were the duties of the police would become overwhelming. I think it was a sense of that truth that led your Lordships in Com- mittee to come to what seems to me to be the wiser decision of omitting the words in this Amendment.

It is no doubt true, as the noble and learned Lord opposite said, that this is not technically and in terms a proposition to confer upon the police a right to arrest for trespass, but it comes to very much the same thing if you look at the clause. Under the Bill it is proposed to create a new offence. If a county council has provided sufficient land for a camping ground, then anybody who encamps, contrary to that provision, upon other ground, upon either a common or waste land or upon the land of a private proprietor, commits a new offence which is created under this Bill, and for that offence the Bill proposes to exact a penalty. But before you can tell whether sufficient land has been provided and establish that an offence has been committed, you have to go in the ordinary way before a Court of summary jurisdiction. Otherwise, who is to tell whether an offence has been committed? Who knows whether sufficient land has been provided or not? The matter is in dubio. You have the ordinary remedy which you possess in all other cases. You may establish that an offence has been committed, and then the penalty is exacted. But the proposition here is to get the police in aid of the right which every one has to remove trespassers if he can do so without a breach of the peace. It is the right of a private owner of land to remove trespassers, but he is not entitled to call in the assistance of the police except where he is threatened with a breach of the peace in the exercise of his right to remove.

But this Amendment goes far beyond that: It proposes that while the matter is in dubio, before it is established that an offence has been committed and simply because people have "squatted" upon the ground, the police may be called in to enforce the provisions of the by-law. The Home Office have always taken up the ground that it is very undesirable to cast new duties of this kind upon the police. This has been the settled practice of the Home Office under successive Governments for some years. It was upon this that in Committee you came to the decision that the words should not be inserted, and I venture to suggest to your Lordships that the decision you came to in Committee on the 2nd of this month is the wise course, the sound course, and the one which is in accordance with the common law of the land. We should not, merely on the ground of sentiment, disturb what is the settled practice in our legislation.


My Lords, I am sorry I cannot concur with my noble friend who has just addressed your Lordships, because I think he has completely answered his own objection. What is quite true is that for the mere prevention of civil trespass you cannot call in a constable, whose duty is to preserve the peace. But the noble Viscount has answered his own objection, because he has said that this particular Bill makes trespass by these people an offence, and if an offence is committed in the sight of a constable he has a right to interfere. It seems to me that the Home Office have not sufficiently considered what they are doing when they set themselves against the preservation of the law and the preservation of the peace by the police. I confess that when I see what the attitude of the Government is—and their view apparently is that they do not want to have these duties fastened upon the police—I rather doubt the wisdom of insisting upon this Amendment, because if it is insisted upon I am afraid that in another place the Government would prevail upon their supporters there to refuse to acquiesce in this Bill.


My Lords, the history of this Bill is rather peculiar and interesting, and as all your Lordships have probably not read the proceedings of the Select Committee fully I would like to dwell upon them for a moment. The Bill was introduced two years ago by Lord Clifford of Chudleigh. It was then a Bill which provided for every sort of inconvenience in the matter of the registration and licensing of these unfortunate people, and I have a recollection that the Second Reading of the Bill as it then stood passed this House with general approval, and, so far as I can recall, mine was the only voice which vas raised in opposition to it. Then a Select Committee was appointed on which I had the honour of sitting, and while on the one hand the Select Committee as a whole came to the conclusion that there was not a sufficient case for the extremely drastic provisions of the Bill as then introduced—the provisions as to registration, licensing, and so on—on the other hand every member of the Committee was convinced that there was some case for legislative interference, and that there was a distinct nuisance with which Parliament was entitled to deal. As a result of these deliberations, the Select Committee put forward a series of recommendations and amended the Bill in the form in which it was re-introduced this year.

It is perfectly true to say, as was stated by the Duke of Northumberland, that the right to remove is really an essential part of the scheme of the Committee as put before this House, and that if you take that right away you destroy the scheme of the Committee. The mischief which was represented to the Committee as existing was that these people moved up and down the country committing various offences and were generally a nuisance, and that you could not deal with them by the ordinary law, because, in the first place, if you took their names and addresses they would probably prove false; in the second place, you probably could not serve a summons at all; and, in the third place, if you did there would be no appearance at the petty sessions. The Committee, being satisfied that there was a mischief, had to devise some kind of remedy that would inflict less hardship and less annoyance on these people than registration and licensing. They therefore came unanimously to the decision that encampments should be established where people could properly encamp under efficient supervision and sanitary conditions. But it is an obvious and necessary correlative to establishing these camping grounds that you should prevent unauthorised camping elsewhere. It is not a matter of sentiment.

Let us consider what the facts are. You have a piece of waste land, say, in Surrey, and on a certain night A and B arrive there in caravans and camp upon the land. The policeman is not to remove them, but to take their names and addresses. He has to chance whether they are correctly given. Having taken the names and addresses he is to go away and get a summons. The people arrived at six o'clock at night, but when the policeman returns to serve the summons at eleven o'lock the next morning they will have gone.


How could he remove them any quicker?


But though they have gone they have done the very mischief you want to avoid. They have camped there for the night, and may have been engaged in picking up stray chickens, &c., and behaving in an insanitary manner. This Bill proposes, not that people who camp on unauthorised camping grounds should be arrested, but that power should be given to the police to remove them—that is to say, a policeman when he comes up will say "Off you get." That surely is the obvious way of dealing with these people; for, otherwise, on the next night on the same ground you would have C and D camping, and you would have the same futile procedure over again. It is said that it is the duty of the owner to remove trespassers, and the general law of trespass is appealed to. Of course that is so, and there may be something to be said for exempting private land from this provision, although I can quite understand that a farmer does not care to summon his farm labourers and take upon himself the removal of a gipsy encampment with the possibility of a fracas; he would very much rather have that done by the police, and would be perfectly willing, no doubt, to assist them.

But the real evil that this Amendment is directed against is camping on commons. The difficulty, without the power proposed in the Amendment, would be to find the owner of the common and get him to move. It may be said that when there are proper camping grounds these people will go to them; but the worst class whom you most wish to have under supervision will be the people who will defy the law. The noble and learned Earl, Lord Halsbury, said it was little use persisting in this Amendment because of what might be its fate in another place, but I think the balance of argument here has been in favour of the Amendment and in another place the same thing might prevail even against His Majesty's Government. I believe these vagrants themselves would infinitely prefer a provision of this kind to the provisions regarding registration and licensing which were in the Bill as originally introduced and which we have succeeded in getting out of the way. I venture to think that they themselves would prefer that there should be a power to remove them from camping grounds on which they have no right to go. I therefore hope that the Amendment will be inserted, and that His Majesty's Government will see their way, on reconsideration of all the circumstances, to accept it.


My Lords, speaking on behalf of an area peculiarly troubled by gipsies—the New Forest—I strongly support the Amendment. The noble Earl opposite, Lord Russell, has ably put forward the case with regard to commons, where the difficulty is to find the owners. The same argument applies to the New Forest, where there is divided management. It may interest the noble Lord who represents the Home Office to know that some years ago in the Crown Lands Bill a special clause was inserted which gave the Crown power in regard to the New Forest to remove gipsies and visit them with penalties if they did not so remove to certain stated grounds, largely on the lines proposed in this Bill. These people are the greatest possible nuisance, not only to those owning land adjoining, but to the poor people and small holders of land in the neighbourhood, who suffer greatly through the depredations of these gipsies. It is not a question of private parks and private owners of land. I speak in this matter on behalf of over 3,000 commoners of the New Forest who desire that these encampments should be regulated. I hope the Government will carefully consider the necessity for this provision. In my opinion, the Bill would be absolutely nugatory in the case of the New Forest unless the police were given this power.


My Lords, before the House goes to a Division I should like to say one or two words on this subject. It is very important that, having occupied such a large portion of the time of the House, this Bill should, when the terms of it are settled, be a Bill that is likely to be a settlement of the question, and should deal with the matter from a commonsense point of view. In the discussion this evening there have been differences of opinion as to the legal effect of this provision, and it has struck me, in looking through the Bill, that there might also be a difference of opinion as to whether the Amendment as it stands will have the effect that its promoters desire. Clause 2 of the Bill deals entirely with the occupier of the movable dwelling. It provides that where a county council has, with the approval of the Local Government Board, provided sufficient land for camping grounds under the section, the occupier of a movable dwelling may encamp upon any such ground upon payment of the authorised fee, but the occupier of a movable dwelling shall not encamp within the county upon any land in private occupation without the permission of the occupier of such land. And then this Amendment goes on to say that in certain circumstances the police may remove him.

I understand that the occupier could not be arrested. What, then, is to be done if the moment the police have gone he goes back again? And does this power to remove the occupier cover also a power to remove his cattle, his movable dwelling or van, and his family? As the clause stands, only the occupier is referred to; and the occupier is defined in Clause 10 in this way— The expression 'occupier' in relation to a movable dwelling means the person occupying or having for the time being control or charge of a movable dwelling. Therefore I take it you could not remove the family, and I very much doubt whether you could remove the man's cattle or his movable dwelling. If that be the case, it would appear that the clause as it stands is not efficacious for the purpose desired. It certainly seems to me that some further power would be necessary in this case. I should have thought there must be some means of devising arrangements, of which the Home Office could approve, for taking care that, if the law said a man was not to go on particular land, you could have some power to move him off and keep him off.

I am sorry the matter has got to this point, as the success of the Bill in its later stages may be interfered with. This Bill has been promoted by the County Councils Association. My noble friend Lord Clifford has taken charge of it, and has taken a great deal of trouble in regard to it. Our only object is to meet the difficulties which have arisen in particular counties, and to do that without unreasonable provisions or provisions of too onerous a character. As the Bill stands, it would appear necessary to insert further Amendments at a later stage, but perhaps some noble Lord experienced in the law will answer the question I have put—whether this provision would give power to remove not only the occupier, but all his properties and his family as well.


My Lords, I am in a somewhat curious position with regard to this Amendment. As originally introduced by me the Bill contained no provision of the nature proposed in this Amendment, but there was Amendment but there was an elaborate system of registration, by means of which, when an offence against the Bill had been committed, there was a possibility of tracing the offender and bringing him before petty sessions. When the Bill was referred to the Select Committee this system of tracing the offender was removed. The Committee objected to the system of registration on the ground that, if it was to be of any use at all, it would have to extend over the whole country. They therefore substituted this remedy, which would enable the authorities to get rid in a rapid and efficient way of persons who camped upon ground forbidden by the by-law approved by the Local Government Board. In this matter I think the noble Viscount, Lord Haldane, hardly did the Bill credit, because he supposed that it was to be used for the benefit of every private owner. It is only to be used in regard to such places as may be specified in the order; those places may be public places, they may be commons or they may be private property, but in the latter case the particular proprietor has to be mentioned in the order. Therefore it is not generally to be used for relieving private owners from trespass.

The principle of registration having been rejected by the Select Committee, when I introduced the Bill this session I introduced it in the form approved by the Committee. But the position taken up by the Home Office was such that it would have considerably jeopardised what I regard as an extremely useful, I might almost say necessary, measure—it would have jeopardised the chance of doing anything to remedy what the Committee found to be a very considerable grievance if this power to the police to remove offenders had remained in the Bill. In those circumstances I felt bound to move in Committee an Amendment deleting this power to the police, and to that Amendment, of course, I strictly adhere. I therefore regret that I must oppose the Amendment to reinsert these words.


My Lords, it may be that the county of Surrey and the New Forest are districts more chiefly affected, but to some extent at any rate we in Kent also suffer in the same way, and I think we should generally be strongly in favour of this Amendment. Lord Belper expressed a doubt a moment ago whether the insertion of these words would carry out the object with which they are moved. He understands this matter much better than I do; but I would point out to him that he did not quite follow the wording of the clause. He said that any occupier would be guilty of an offence under the Bill and might be removed, but he doubted whether members of his family could also be removed. If he will look again at the clause he will see that it is not confined to the occupier. It says that if "any person" acts in contravention thereof he shall be guilty of an offence. Therefore it is clear that a member of the family would be a "person" and might be removed under the provisions suggested. I hope that, on further consideration, the Government may be induced to give way in view of the very strong feeling in favour of this power being given, not only in this House but also generally throughout the districts which are affected by the Bill.

Resolved in the affirmative, and Amendment agreed to accordingly.


The amendment standing in my name to Clause 8 exempts from the operation of the Act any movable dwelling used by or on behalf of and with the authority of any Department of His Majesty's Government. At present the clause provides that the Bill shall not


I do not think my noble friend understood exactly what Lord Belper said. Lord Belper was questioning whether the man's property—his van, horse, and anything else that he had with him—could be removed.


Lord Belper also doubted whether the man's family could be removed.


Does the noble Lord below the Gangway (Lord Belper) think that if the occupier and his family were removed, the van and the cattle would be left?

On Question?

Their Lordships divided: Contents, 50; Not-Contents, 21.

Bedford, D. Russell, E. Cottesloe, L.
Northumberland, D. [Teller.] Vane, E. (M. Londonderry.) De Mauley, L.
Verulam, E. Digby, L.
Westmeath, E. Ellenborough, L.
Bath, M. Farrer, L.
Camden, M. Greville, L.
Churchill, V. Hindlip, L.
Camperdown, E. Goschen, V. Hylton, L. [Teller.]
Cathcart, E. Halifax, V. Kilmarnock, L. (E. Erroll.)
Cromer, E. Hood, V. Lawrence, L.
Dartrey, E. Montagu of Beaulieu, L.
Devon, E. Alverstone, L. Ritchie of Dundee, L.
Eldon, E. Ampthill, L. St. Levan, L.
Fortescue, E. Avebury, L. Saltoun, L.
Halsbury, E. Basing, L. Sempill, L.
Harrowby, E. Brodrick, L. (V. Midleton) Silchester, L. (E. Longford.).
Lovelace, E. Clanwilliam, L. (E. Clanwilliam.) Templemore, L.
Morley, E. Wynford, L.
Portsmouth, E. Clinton, L. Zouche of Haryngworth, L.
Loreburn, L. (L. Chancellor.). Bangor, L. Bp. Courtney of Penwith, L.
Morley of Blackburn, V. (L. President.) Denman, L.
Eversley, L.
Allendale, L. Glantawe, L.
Beauchamp, E. Ashby St. Ledgers, L. Granard, L. (E. Granard.)
Carrington, E. Belper, L. [Teller.] Haversham, L.
Craven, E. Clifford of Chudleigh, L. [Teller.] Heneage, L.
Southwark, L.
Haldane, V. Colebrooke, L. Weardale, L.

apply to any movable dwelling used by any portion of His Majesty's naval or military forces. The Treasury are anxious to include all Departments in this Clause.

Amendment moved— Clause 8, page 4, line 6, after ("by") insert ("or on behalf of and with the authority of any department of His Majesty's Government or by").—(The Earl of Liverpool.)


I cordially accept this Amendment. It is quite in keeping with the principle of Clause 8, which is to exempt from the action of the Bill any person overlooked by a proper authority who can insure against abuse.

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

Bill to be read 3a on Wednesday next, and to be printed as amended. (No. 80.)