HL Deb 27 June 1950 vol 167 cc1064-110

4.18 p.m.

Debate on Second Reading continued.


My Lords, as you have already been reminded, on a previous occasion I had a somewhat ample opportunity of discoursing to your Lordships on the main theme of the Bill. I should certainly not aim any accusation of "baby-snatching" at the noble Viscount who has presented the Bill to-day. I have a recollection that there has recently been devised by one department the phrase, "the deprived child." I am, for my part, glad that this Bill has not fallen into that category, but that if its original foster-parent has shown himself somewhat irresponsible the Bill has at least found an adoptive father of impeccable reliability to give it a further chance in life.

I feel that in many ways this revised version of the Bill is better than the authorised version which I was privileged to introduce three years ago: it seems better constructed, better drafted and to form a more coherent, harmonious whole. Perhaps in 1947 I was a little guileless, because I certainly thought that a Bill of this kind and with this purpose was likely to commend itself to the unanimous approval of your Lordships' House. After all, its purpose was to preserve from further encroachment certain liberties, and to restore others which appeared to have been almost, if not entirely, suppressed. One would have expected any such object to be generally commended. In the event, although both Opposition Parties supported the Bill, the Government, while proclaiming their passionate addiction to liberty in the abstract, shied violently at the sight of it in any concrete form.

The noble and learned Viscount on the Woolsack delivered a most brilliant technical—I almost said pyrotechnical—onslaught upon it on that occasion. He met his difficulties by the effective if not entirely logical procedure of denouncing the Bill as being a manifesto, and not a Bill at all, and then going on through the clauses of the Bill one by one, raising what one rather regarded as Committee-stage points upon most of them. I admit that he was in superb form. Never, I think, had his eye been clearer or his hand guider: one after the other he shot down clauses, sometimes two or three in the air at the same time—and never a wounded clause; each one of them stone dead. So it appeared at the time and for the moment. But, unfortunately for him and others who shared his view, all but two turned out to be runners; and those two were shot down, not by him, but by others on either side of him. Now, after these clauses have enjoyed a period of rest and refreshment, the noble Viscount, Lord Samuel, is in a position to put them over the guns again. I do not know at this stage to what extent the noble and learned Viscount on the Woolsack proposes on this occasion to emulate the exploits of Miss Annie Oakley and her gun.

But one thing I do feel—namely, that the interval of time which has elapsed between my introduction of this Bill three years ago and to-day has not made the Bill less necessary now than it was then. I have particularly in mind, I admit, a statement made by the Lord President of the Council which I have always regarded as most ominous, in regard to the use to be made in the future of the Supplies and Services (Transitional Powers) Act. It has been quoted to your Lordships before, but I make no apology of any kind for reminding you of the exact text. It was made in the course of a speech at the Labour Party Conference at Blackpool just over a year ago, when the Lord President said: The Executive and Government have no intention that the Supplies and Services Act of 1945 shall come to an end. It is an essential basis for the organisation of economic planning and control and therefore we shall place a revised and permanent version of that Act on the Statute Book if we are returned to power. That seems to me to follow upon an earlier and not less alarming statement made by Sir Stafford Cripps in the rather more rollicking mood that used to characterise him in the 'thirties, when he said: The Government's first step will be to call Parliament together at the earliest moment and place before it an Emergency Powers Bill to be passed through all its stages on the first day. That was perhaps a rather extreme view, even at that time, but I cite those two passages merely to impress upon your Lordships on all sides of the House how necessary it is—and the more necessary the more extensive use is made of them—that Parliament should reassert and retain effective control over the use of delegated legislation. There are people who have somewhat unusual views as to what liberty means. I select only one sample, a member of the Back Bench of the present Government in the last Parliament, who stated one view with great precision and force: This is a free country, in the sense that individuals are permitted to exercise all the liberty we can afford to allow them in these times. That does not happen to be my view of what is a free country I believe that a free country is one in which those who are deeply concerned with liberty watch from day to day and note every encroachment upon liberty, and publicly and repeatedly express their resentment at that encroachment. In my view a free country is one in which administrative convenience is not made the sole or sovereign test.

When this Bill was before your Lordships' House before, it survived a Second Reading but was then smothered for lack of further time. No time for liberty! There are many people in this country today who have no time for liberty. I very much trust that this time if, as I hope, this Bill obtains a Second Reading, it will not come to the same premature and unhappy end as was meted out to its predecessor. I hope, though perhaps without a very glowing confidence, that His Majesty's Government may enable the hopes of the noble Viscount who introduced this Bill to be realised and accept the Second Reading to-day. If they do not, let them take the responsibility of opposing this measure; but let us take the responsibility of saying: So far as in our hands lies we shall gladly and hopefully set it upon its road.

4.24 p.m.


My Lords, the noble Marquess who has just spoken has said that on the last occasion when we dealt with this matter I expressed a passionate affection for liberty in the abstract and a shrinking from it, almost with horror, when I came within sight of it. The fallacy of his argument from my point of view rests in those last words. If I thought that this Bill was going to increase the sum total of liberty I should support it. But, as I believe this Bill will not only not increase but will decrease the sum total of liberty, I am opposed to it. I regard it as setting forth a string of spurious remedies to deal with a very real problem.

I make not the slightest complaint that this subject should be examined. It seems to me that the situation of the world to-day—I may add the very serious situation of the world to-day—is one which makes it essential that this subject should be examined from time to time. On the one hand we have seen the Fascist régime and on the other hand the Communist régime, both alike in this—that they have not the slightest regard for the liberty of the subject. They treat their subjects as mere ants in an anthill, and it behoves all of us who have been nurtured and brought up in traditions of liberty to see that those ancient privileges are not snatched away from us. Recently we had a most interesting discussion on a Motion by the noble Viscount, Lord Cecil of Chelwood. I confess that I thought his diagnosis was wrong; I did not believe that the Cabinet was the danger. I think that if he had concentrated his case and unmasked his very formidable batteries on the machine and not the Cabinet, he would have presented a more powerful case than he did. But I quite agree, as I have said many times, that there is a danger to-day of the individual being crushed, and it is a danger against which we have to guard.

What are the true remedies that we must follow? First of all, I believe we must have a vigilant, a resolute and a strong Parliament. It must be armed with the necessary powers. It must not degenerate into the position of a mere "talking shop" where nothing can be done. It must have power to act, and to act quickly in appropriate cases. The noble Viscount, Lord Samuel, said much the same thing and, indeed, with the general exordium with which he started his speech I find myself wholly in agreement. One of the tests which we should apply to any of these various proposals is this: Will it tend to increase the power of Parliament or will it tend to clutter up Parliament with such a mass of detail that Parliament will not be able to attend to its important functions? Secondly, I believe that we must maintain a strong and independent judiciary of sufficient numbers to be able to deal promptly with cases brought before the courts and, of course, absolutely independent of any control at all. I thank God that I believe we have that to-day, and I think we shall always have it. As a corollary to that, we must make the law more readily available to the people, and that means several things. It means the elimination of delay, the reduction of the expense of litigation and, if necessary, providing help from public funds. It means also a simplification of the law.

Now I do not doubt for a moment that the noble Marquess, Lord Reading, has devoted much time and much of his great ability to this subject of liberty. I claim with the support of my colleagues in this Government to have made a notable contribution. Indeed I make the claim that there has never been a Government which has made a greater contribution to liberty than this Government has made during the last five years. We introduced—the noble Viscount, Lord Samuel, was good enough to refer to it—the Bill providing for civil proceedings against the Crown; and you can now sue the. Crown just as you can sue any other defendant in any court of the land. We have provided—it is coming into force I hope this year, at any rate in part—legal aid; and we have put the legal aid scheme not under Government control but under the control of the Law Society, which is completely divorced from the Government. We are putting at their disposal considerable sums of public money in order that the man in the street can go to them and be assisted in bringing a case if he thinks he has sustained a grievance.

So far as the simplification of the law is concerned, I have already made a real contribution by these Bills for Consolidation some four of which are included in to-day's Order Paper. That is not due to any merit of my own; my colleagues have allowed me to set up a special branch divorced altogether from current day-to-day legislation, devoting itself entirely to consolidation in order that the law may be simplified. May I say one other thing to make good my claim that this Government has made an immense contribution? There will shortly be brought out a new edition of Statutes of the Realm. No attempt at this had been made since 1927. This new edition of the Statutes will reduce to thirty-seven volumes the previous fifty-two volumes. The Statutes will be revised completely up to the end of 1948. These things may seem to you rather remote from the problem which we are considering today, but I believe they lie at the very heart of it. I believe there is no more important task to be carried out at this moment than that we should advance and secure and, if need be, increase the liberty of the subject.

There is one other thing I should like to say, and it concerns the Donoughmore Report, which I have read and re-read. I believe it is wholly fallacious to regard the Donoughmore Report as if the Committee were recommending that a Bill should be passed on these general lines. I think they were concerned to indicate certain danger signals, to map the way, and to point out what Parliament should have been considering in passing Statutes; and with the great majority of the Report from that point of view, I agree. What I complain about is that the noble Viscount and the Liberal Party who press this Bill are doctrinaire in their approach, and that instead of considering these various questions on their merits they come with a preconceived idea which very often is completely removed from any reality.

Now let us take the first clause. I do not see how I can explain my reasons for being opposed to the Second Reading of this Bill without considering it clause by clause. The difficulty for any speaker is that on any one of these clauses we could have a whole day's debate. I must indicate what I think of several of these clauses. I agree with what the noble Viscount said about the first clause: I think it is a most important one which raises the question whether or not, with this delegated legislation, we should be able to modify as well as to reject; and, be it observed, that is diametrically opposed to the recommendation of the Donoughmore Committee. They said expressly and in terms that there should not be this power to modify. The noble Viscount on this occasion has limited it to the Supplies and Services Act. I am sorry if I led him to do that by anything I said on the last occasion. I confess I have not refreshed my mind as to what I did then say. But on looking at the matter with a fresh mind, on this occasion I came to the conclusion that it is quite illogical to confine it to those Acts. If the principle is right that Parliament should be able to modify as well as to reject, then obviously it ought to extend to all occasions.

Will your Lordships just consider what is involved in that? Suppose there is to be some Statutory Order made under an Act of Parliament which comes before either House. There must be a Committee stage. I do not believe that anybody who has had experience doubts that if you have a Committee stage you must also have a Report stage. Suggestions have been made; some are accepted and others not accepted and there must be a later stage than the Committee stage at which you can consider the Amendments together. If you are going to have a Committee stage and a Report stage, is it not wise for you to have also a Second Reading stage when you deal with the general principles of the matter? If we are going to say that, then this Parliament or any other Parliament is going to get absolutely cluttered up with a mass of detailed business which it really can- not undertake. I am far from suggesting that there has been any obstruction in this House; and it is not for me to indicate whether there has been any obstruction in another place. But if you introduce this as a scheme, you are going to create an obstructionist's paradise.

Consider for a moment, my Lords, the amount of delegated legislation. In 1913, when we had a most respectable Government (both Lord Samuel and the noble and learned Viscount, Lord Simon, would, at any rate, unite on that point)—


And I think the present Lord Chancellor would have approved of it.


I think it was one of the best Governments we have ever had. In the year 1913, there were 1,406 of these regulations made by that Government. Then, coming to 1938—I am deliberately taking years before the Wars, when we had a Government which included Lord Simon (and a very admirable Government it was—I need not express my opinion en that one) there were 1,660. In the last year there were 2,468. I agree that if we were to devote ourselves to it we should no doubt find some way of resolving to some extent the problem of the differences between the two Houses. I have no doubt that the scheme of having modifications is a possible scheme, but I believe there is a much better method which was, in fact, adopted. It was pointed out that what was wanted with regard to these measures was a closer scrutiny than anything we had had. Accordingly, in 1944, there was set up a Scrutinising Committee of the House of Commons, which now scrutinises every Statutory Instrument which is laid; and if they think there is any reason they draw the special attention of the House to it. The Committee consists of ten Members, drawn from the different Parties. In the year 1948–49 they considered 1,300 of these Orders and drew the attention of the House of Commons to five of them: three of them because the Committee thought the use being made of them was unusual or unexpected, one because there was considered to be unjustifiable delay in sending notification to the Speaker, and one for elucidation. In fact, these five Orders have passed through quite happily.

We, too, have a special Committee of our own. It consists of a large number of Peers of whom the Opposition Peers are in a substantial majority. It considers all those Statutory Instruments which require an affirmative Resolution. For myself, on the spur of the moment and without consulting my Leader and the Officers of the House, I should not in the least mind, if it were possible, extending its powers to consider all regulations. It considers to-day whether the provisions raise important questions of policy or principle, how far they are founded on precedent and whether the special attention of the House should be drawn to them. We are not allowed by our Rules to put down one of these regulations for approval of the House unless and until that special Committee has reported upon it.

I believe that is a much more effective way than the other of dealing with the matter. I think the power to refuse consent is a very real power. I do not see why your Lordships—we have never attempted to take this power away from this House—should not exercise that power if you think that some regulations offend in this, that or the other respect. If you do refuse, the regulation will be withdrawn and most probably will have to be reintroduced minus the peccant paragraph. It seems to me that the procedure that is open to your Lordships now is far better than letting loose the floodgates by providing that you can move to amend these regulations. I point out again that the Donoughmore Committee, who did not merely make an abstract consideration of this question, expressly said it would be a mistake to make any such alteration. I hope I have made it plain. I object to this scheme in limine because I believe that, so far from making the House effective, it would do as much as could be done by one stroke to make this House ineffective. We should find ourselves cluttered up with a mass of detail and not have time to give to the consideration of those broad principles which ought to be considered.

I pass now—I am going to say this as briefly as I can; I am sorry to inflict all this upon your Lordships again—to consider Clause 2. That deals with the validity of certain Orders. Up to the year 1930, there was a practice sometimes of stating that an Order could not be questioned by any legal proceeding at all; but since the year 1930—and bear in mind that the year 1930 was the year of a Labour Government—that provision has never been used. All that you do is to say sometimes that the Order, if it is to be questioned, must be questioned within a limited period of time. The Donoughmore Committee thought that the period of time ought to be three months. I think it is much better for Parliament in each particular case to consider, first, whether there is any need for a time limit at all, and secondly, if so, what the time limit should be.

Let me give your Lordships an illustration. Suppose some question arose about land for the Festival of Britain which is opening next year. Obviously a prompt, quick decision would be required. Then it would be for Parliament to consider whether the regulation in question was to be opposed within six weeks or three months or longer, if you like. One should not start off by a rigid rule which is to apply to all cases. One should bear in mind those two principles: first of all, that we should never refuse to allow a challenge at all—no Party has ever done that since 1930; secondly, we should consider in each particular case what is the appropriate time limit. I am perfectly prepared to agree that, unless there is some strong case to the contrary, three months would be an appropriate time. Recently we have had in this House, either this year or certainly last year, several Bills dealing with this matter. There was the case of the special trunk roads, where we provided for six weeks as the appropriate time of challenge. Then there was the distribution of compensation under the Coal Industry Act, where we provided for six weeks. Then there was the case of the authorisation procedure for the compulsory purchase of land, where we provided for six weeks. It is quite true that the Donoughmore Committee say that generally it should be three months, but you will see the note at the bottom of page 65 referring to the Housing Act, 1930, which, they say, exactly meets their requirements. In fact, the Housing Act. 1930, prescribed the period of six weeks. Therefore I object to this clause because it is casting into a rigid statutory mould that which Parliament ought to consider in each case having regard to the facts of that case.

I come to Clause 3, which deals with the abolition of all existing powers to alter an Act of Parliament by delegated legislation. It is a great pity that those who advised the noble Viscount on this Bill did not tell him of the distinction between the Henry VIII clause—a distinction which is often lost sight of—and a very different type of clause with which I will deal in a moment. The Henry VIII clause properly so called is where an Act itself provides in detail the machinery and the steps which are to be taken—and then there is a provision saying: "If for any other reason a difficulty arises, then A, B or C may alter the provisions of the Act." There is only one case in which this is now the law of the land—that is, under the Local Government Act, 1894, where, dealing with meetings of the parish council, the Act sets out full details as to the various steps to be taken; and then there is a section providing that the county council may authorise a departure from those steps. That is the only Henry VIII clause, properly so called, which survives.

But one often finds an Act of Parliament which contains power to alter Acts by Order-in-Council. It is absolutely essential that it should be so. May I give your Lordships some illustrations? Take the India Act of 1949, when India declared herself to be a Republic; or the Newfoundland Act of 1950, when Newfoundland ceased to be a self-governing Dominion and became part of Canada. It is provided in those two Acts that there shall be power to modify previous Acts, and there were a vast number of Acts that had to be looked at in which Newfoundland was referred to as a Dominion and in which India was referred to as being under the King. They had to be altered. Take another instance, the Ministers of the Crown (Transfer of Functions) Act. Suppose you are transferring a certain power from the President of the Board of Trade to the Minister of Transport. You have to go through a whole host of Acts which say that the approval of the President of the Board of Trade is necessary and you have everywhere to strike that out and write in "Minister of Transport." Nearly every year there are about twenty of these regu- lations that come to be made. There has never been the slightest objection to any of them. No one has ever suggested that anybody has been wronged, aggrieved or hurt in any way, and it would be most unfortunate if Parliament were called upon to do that particular piece of work by passing Bilk each time. To my mind, it would give us and another place much wholly unnecessary work which could be done otherwise.

Let me give another illustration—one Could go on almost for ever. Take the Poisons List. There is a list of dangerous drugs or poisons which the Home Secretary may amend and alter from time to time, and of course it does not have to be considered by this House. When some new drug is evolved which is found to be dangerous, or some old drug is found to be not so bad as had been thought, quite frequently the list is modified. Is it really to be suggested, in the name of the liberty of the subject, that this must be done by a Bill on each occasion? It seems to me that there we should get such a rigidity of structure that the thing would be quite impossible. Let Parliament scrutinise and watch all these things. Let them see that we are not taking undue advantage of the powers. But do not put us in the straitjacket of making Parliament pass Bills for all these things. I warn the noble Lord below the gangway and the noble Viscount, Lord Samuel, that, if either of their Parties were in power, whatever they may do with this Bill—they may vote for the Second Reading now—I am absolutely confident that they would never pass Clauses 1, 2 or 3 of this Bill at all. I believe that those clauses would be far from helpful but rather a very great hindrance.

Now we come to Clause 4, which deals with the universal right of recourse to the High Court on a point of law. Here, again, I am a great believer in people bringing these points of law to the courts. This year I have had great trouble with regard to appeals from the General Medical Council. There had been no appeal, but ultimately I managed to get all the parties concerned and the Scottish authorities (which is no mean feat) to agree to an appeal to the Privy Council, since that is not an English Court any more than it is a Scottish. Court. Incidentally, it is, of course, not the High Court. The clause, as drafted, does not help solve the difficulty at all. Wherever a Minister is dealing with a judicial or quasi-judicial function, no doubt it is right as a broad general rule that there should be an appeal to the courts. I am sorry if on the previous occasion I did not make my objection plain. I do think there is truth in the old adage that it is in the interest of the public that there should be an end of litigation. When a man has had his case heard and disposed of and has not appealed, I think it is unfortunate that the demand should arise thereafter that that case should be reopened and reheard. It does not happen in the law courts. If a man brings a case at law and loses it and it is not appealed, then that is that; and if thereafter some litigant in exactly the same sort of case takes that case to the higher courts and wins, the man who has previously lost does not litigate all over again, nor would it be in the public interest that he should do so.

The trouble about the pensions appeals was, first of all, that there was a divergence of opinion in England and Scotland, which is most unfortunate and can only be resolved by the House of Lords, a Court common to both countries; and secondly, we have now twice had some new decision given and the whole thing has been opened up all over again. If that is done there will be no end to litigation, which is an undesirable thing. My Lords, as any competent lawyer will know at once, the trouble is that this clause has obviously not been drafted by a lawyer, because points of law emerge which cannot be identified and isolated, and it cannot be done as it is done in this clause. I am anxious not to spend undue time, but I want just to add that when I was Minister of National Insurance and I launched the Industrial Injuries scheme there was one point (which as a lawyer I regarded with some regret) on which I found the workers and the employers absolutely united: they wanted a tribunal staffed, as it is, by three competent lawyers—indeed, two of them are former county court judges. They wanted to cut out the appeal to the courts because they thought that an appeal from one court to another, going up to the highest courts, added to the delay and to the uncertainty, and they wanted the informal atmosphere of a tribunal. That we gave them. Lord Beveridge was here. He has a great knowledge of this matter, and my recollection is that he supported me on that occasion. We have deliberately provided in that case that there shall he no appeal to the courts. But, of course, there is an appeal to this tribunal, which, as I have said, consists of three very competent lawyers, two of them former judges.

I pass to consider briefly Clause 5, which says that the report of a public inquiry should be published. I criticised it on the last occasion because I said that the Donoughmore Report had made it quite plain that its recommendation applied only to judicial and not to administrative determinations. If any noble Lord would like to look at pages 105, 106 and 107 of the Donoughmore Report he will find that the Committee's recommendation is limited to judicial, not administrative determinations. They point out that there are border-line cases, partly judicial and partly administrative, which are left to the discretion of the Minister. Here, again, I object to putting this into the rigid mould of a Statute. I think it is a very sound principle that wherever you have a report dealing with a judicial matter, it should be made public. I can recollect one case in my experience where I decided not to make the report public, I think for very good reasons; but in the vast majority of cases I should always make the report public. That is the very wise principle that the Donoughmore Committee laid down. By all means let us have regard to that general principle, but do let us remember that the Committee are not seeking to lay down absolute principles. They made it quite plain that all these recommendations were to apply, save in exceptional circumstances.

Now, m Lords, a word or two about the men who are authorised to go into and inspect premises. There was an error on the part of the noble Lord, Lord Llewellin, if he will forgive my saying so. He seems to think that most of the powers of entry arise under the Supplies and Services Act. The noble Lord will find the totals in the OFFICIAL REPORT of another place of May 23, 1950, column 1858. The total is 18,342, of which only 3,685 are enabled to go into private houses. So far as the Food Ministry are concerned, the noble Lord will find the figure given in this return as 1,112, but these inspectors are authorised to inspect only food establishments; they have no power whatever to go into private houses. The number has since been reduced to between 700 and 750, and I hope that it will be reduced still further. I believe the right principle here is this: that so long as you have a rationing system there must be an organisation to see that that system is enforced, otherwise the rationing system becomes a great evil, because you are simply encouraging a complete disregard for the law. The right way in which to deal with this matter is, as soon as you possibly cart, to abolish the rationing system. When you abolish rationing all these inspectors and people will go with it.

When I think of this list, I think of the Inland Revenue—2,657 officials who are entitled to go into your private houses. After all, this Bill is being introduced under Liberal auspices. There are 1,409 people in the Revenue Branch who have these powers, 1,124 in the rating branch and 134 revenue officers going round watching sheets and P.A.Y.E. records; and there are 1,800 customs and excise officers. And this scheme was largely introduced by that great Liberal measure, Sir William Harcourt's Act of 1894. Encroachment on the liberty of the subject, of which we have heard so much, was at any rate started by the Act of 1894. Does anyone really suggest that all these powers should be taken away, that the Home Office should not be allowed to inspect children's homes, that the powers of inspection of farms by the agricultural authorities and the power in this connection in respect of civil aviation and the Tithe Redemption Commission should be taken away?

Let Parliament scrutinise these things, and look at them carefully if you will. But this general principle of selecting out of these masses particular services coming under Supplies and Services seems to me, if I may say so with the greatest respect, to show that the noble Viscount, Lord Samuel, is here straining at a gnat and swallowing a camel. He strains at the 750 who are allowed to go to inspect food establishments but accepts the proportion of the 18,000—there are some 3,800 of them—who are entitled to visit private houses.


Would the noble and learned Viscount forgive me for interrupting him? I am sure he would he the last to wish to make a mistake in this connection. I think that perhaps he is doing so, though on the other hand it may be that it is I who am making the mistake. He appealed to the House to consider whether they would really wish to prevent the Home Office inspecting children's homes. Am I wrong in saying that I think they do not do that under the Supplies and Services Act, or under any Order-in-Council or regulations made thereunder?


Of course not,


Then what on earth is the point of referring to that in criticism of Clause 6?


I pointed out, first of all, that I think the reference to the Supplies and Services Act is absolutely illogical. I said that the noble Viscount was straining at a gnat and swallowing a camel. He is prepared to accept the right of inspection by all the inspectors of the Revenue Branch in private houses, but boggles at the 750 inspectors who can enter food establishments under the Supplies and Services Act—and I am now pointing out how utterly illogical the whole position is. I hope that I have carried the noble Viscount with me in that observation.

Clause 7 I pass by very rapidly. Of course we have not the slightest desire to suppress or suspend any newspaper. As the noble Viscount is aware, I accepted an amendment in the Supplies and Services (Extended Powers) Act of 1947 to provide for this. Clause 8 I am going to leave to my noble friend Lord Hall. We have parcelled out this work between us and this will be the first of the clauses with which he will have to deal.

With regard to Clause 9, I ask again: What is the encroachment? I am sorry to remind your Lordships of this matter. The Public Authorities Protection Act was passed in the year 1893—I think Mr. Gladstone was Prime Minister at the time —and the Act laid down the period of limitation for local authorities at six months. That survived until 1939. Then the Government, just before the war, extended the period of six months to one year. That one year was copied in the Crown Proceedings Act, and we extended it to three years for the great public services. I, myself, caring something about liberty, was so impressed by this that I appointed a small but very powerful Committee to advise me what we ought to do. That body has generally been known as Lord Justice Tucker's Committee. They made recommendations to this effect: that the statutory period of limitation should be six years for private and public persons for both contract and tort, save that in what they called "personal injury cases" it should be two years.

I confess that I have devoted a great deal of time and care to this matter and I have discussed it with many of my learned friends. I express no final opinion now. I agree with the proposition, as at present advised, that the period of time should be the same whatever the status of the defendant may be. But I am not satisfied, if I may say so with the greatest respect; that that Committee, for whom I have the most profound regard, have come to a completely satisfactory conclusion. I am inclined to think, myself, that a better conclusion might well be that it should be six years for everyone in contract and three years for everyone in tort. I am not satisfied that the proposal that they have made to apply to the court for an extension in time is right. This is a matter to which, as I say, I have given consideration, and sooner or later this Government or its sccessors will have to deal with it. Clauses 10, 11 and 12 are going to be taken by the noble Viscount, Lord Hall.

I hope I shall not be criticised if I have tried to make runners fly again. In fact I do not know how to do that. I have tried to indicate briefly but quite sincerely why I believe this Bill is not one which would assist the cause which, believe me, my Lords, we all have at heart. It is, if I may say so, not quite right to introduce a Bill with the title "Liberty of the Subject" and to append to it a number of clauses which have not been very carefully worked out or thought out, and then when anyone opposes those clauses to say: "You are not in favour of the liberty of the subject." I suppose that every doctor who tries desperately hard to advance by one inch the sum total of human knowledge about his trade must be slightly annoyed sometimes when he finds quacks advertising all sorts of remedies which are going to cure every ailment under the sun. It behoves us all to look to see whether these remedies are real and useful remedies or whether they are spurious remedies. I must say that, in my most respectful submission, the noble Viscount, Lord Samuel, has, for once in his life, been led astray and has failed to distinguish the true from the false.

5.10 p.m.


My Lords, the noble Marquess, Lord Reading, and the noble and learned Viscount who sits on the Woolsack have both described the progress of this Bill in sporting metaphors. It is now possible to see the result of the last drive. The noble and learned Viscount who sits on the Woolsack has, unfortunately, shot every bird clean out of the sky and he has severely peppered most of the beaters. Speaking as one of the younger and more inexperienced beaters, I am not well able to see where the birds have fallen or how many are still runners. That does not prevent my regretting that the noble and learned Viscount who was sitting on the Woolsack has adopted the strong line that he has adopted with the Bill. I agree that many of these clauses are open to objection. I myself take exception to one or two of them, particularly Clause 11, and I think they might well be amended. But that is what we are here for, and, if I may say so with the greatest respect, we do that job very well.

I believe that this Bill is a great improvement on the previous Bill which the noble Marquess, Lord Reading, introduced, because it drops two of the most controversial clauses. I have, however, never known a Bill so "savaged" as this one has begin by the Lord Chancellor—with perhaps the possible exception of the Bill which I attempted to introduce last year. The noble and learned Viscount on the Woolsack said—I could not get his words quite accurately, but he suggested in effect—that in the last five years this Government had taken vast strides forward in furthering the liberties of the subject, and he quoted several examples which none of us will for one moment deny. We are grateful to him for all the things he is doing in this respect. He is doing a fine job and layman and lawyer alike on boll sides welcome it. But I am sure that, whilst the noble and learned Viscount is progressing with Statute Law revision and all the other things he men- tioned, it might be a good idea for him to look to the left arid see what one or two of his colleagues are up to. He will find that as he attempts to give us a taste of liberty some of his colleagues are doing exactly the opposite. I thought also that the Government might succumb to a political temptation and agree with this Bill.

There was a comment in the American Press recently that one factor which swayed votes in the last General Election more than most English observers realised was fear of the threat of dictatorship which some quite reasonable people, maybe wrongly, read into the Government's policy of the last five years and their programme for the next five. That fear may have discouraged them from voting for the Government. Perhaps the American view was right, because we now find the leaders of political thought in the Socialist Party attempting to break down that fear, or trying to assuage it. Mr. Morrison is assiduously wooing the middle classes. I am never quite certain who they are. I suppose in this case they are the people who think in terms of overwork rather than of overtime. In any case that fear was widespread and any of us who went to political meetings during the Election must have heard, time and time again, the repetition of the apothegm: "Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely," by speakers who I am sure would never have been able to give correctly the context of that very wise remark.

It seems to me that between the two Parties there is a differing conception of liberty. We on this side regard liberty as a fundamental right. I do not in any way allude to noble Lords opposite, but too many of their supporters think in the same terms as the honourable Member for Newcastle-under-Lyme who, I gather, from the tenour of the quotation of the noble Marquess, Lord Reading, must have been the Member to whom he referred. They think of liberty as permissive. If Mr. Mack himself is not a sufficiently senior or responsible member of the Party, perhaps I may quote the Minister of Town and Country Planning who the other day used an expression which electorally he may live to regret. He described some concessions as "experiments in freedom." That may have been thought to be a slip of a notoriously slippery tongue, but he went on to repeat it, so we must confidently expect that to be the view that he and his senior colleagues hold.

That is why I feel that the time for action has come, and the time for talking has ceased. We have had books, broadcasts, propaganda, essays and theoretical disputes. Now the noble Viscount, Lord Samuel, has taken a concrete step which, however criticised it may be, registers a protest against this constant attack upon the liberties of the subject. Both Parties on this side, Liberal and Conservative alike, have admittedly an equal share in the responsibility for the development of delegated legislation. Certainly noble Lords opposite cannot possibly be saddled with the sole blame for that. What we accuse them of doing is of taking undue advantage of the conditions which two wars and the vast increase in the complexity of legislation have brought about. The real thing wrong with this Bill is that it ought never to have been necessary to introduce it at all. I readily agree that there are better ways in which this problem might be met. I should like to see, for instance, Ministers not asking to have put into Bills which their Departments father any of these powers against which we protest. More could be done administratively to remedy these evils. I admit that it is difficult to legislate about this sort of thing away from the separate Statutes with which the clauses of this Bill are concerned, but it seems the only way we can tackle it at the present moment. We are grateful to the noble Viscount, Lord Samuel, because he has not gone too far. He has not attempted to undertake too much in this Bill. That, I know from my own experience as an amateur legislator, is fatal. Many a man who has fallen in love with a dimple has made the mistake of trying to marry the whole girl. That has not been done by the noble Viscount, and this Bill, however much it may be objected to in detail, is worthy of your Lordships' support. We can amend it when the time comes.

The time is not far off, I feel, when we shall want a wider restatement of all the liberties of the subject. The noble Viscount, Lord Samuel, mentioned the Bill of Rights and Habeas Corpus. Not much of our Constitution is written, but if it is to be slowly whittled away, the time may shortly come for a completely new Bill of Rights to be drafted. I warn your Lordships. I am sorry to tell you that I have already tried my hand at drafting it. There is only one alternative it this Bill is not acceptable, and time apparently runs against us in another place. We have time to discuss cattle-grids, midwives, white fish, digging up of streets and diseases of animals, but no time to discuss the liberties of the subject. Very well, we must accept that. The only other remedy that remains is a change of Administration, and that is not a bad remedy either.

5.18 p.m.


My Lords, the noble Lord, Lord Mancroft, began by describing himself as one of the youngest and most inexperienced members of your Lordships' House. However that may be, I think I am certainly the youngest and definitely the most inexperienced member to take part in this debate. Other noble Lords have dwelt in considerable detail on the clauses of the Bill. I intend to make a few general observations on this vital issue of liberty which we are discussing this afternoon, an issue which I think is too often and too long kept dormant in the hazy background of our affairs. I intervene to say a few words on this issue simply because I believe that the vast and overwhelming economic and political problems which confront the country to-day will never be overcome until once again the individual is restored, far more than is the case at the present moment, to his rightful status and may once again aspire to the just reward of his energy and skill.

I fully realise that we must be fair. The tendency to subordinate the individual to the State has not come about during the last few years. During several generations now, and more and more as the generations have gone by, we have been subjected to more and more controls and regulations, and to increasing delegation of legislation. Few will argue that much of this has been necessary if such a highly complex civilisation as ours is to survive. But I think it must be admitted that there must be some basis of agreement between the individual and the State. As the American Declaration of Independence puts it, Governments derive their just powers from the consent of the governed.

There are a great many rights, such as defence, protection of property, and so on, which are voluntarily surrendered by the individual to the State. Nevertheless, as has been pointed out, there is a limit. I feel that we should depart at once from the whole character of the British contribution to civilisation if we failed to assert definitely that the individual comes before the community and the community before the State. If we reverse or confuse that order, then we betray not only ourselves but the whole cause of human rights. I would say that, certainly in the last decade or so, the potential threats to freedom have really become unequalled. It was the late Earl Baldwin who once said, in reference to the British people: "They hardly notice freedom; it is the very air they breathe."

It is perhaps small wonder that the constant encroachments upon our individual liberty have failed to provoke the truly British outcry which they might well have provoked from this once so-called "cradle of freedom." I am afraid that the war has so dulled our senses that it has blinded us to the melancholy existence of these thousands of controls since the war, and to the various increases that have taken place in ministerial power over our lives. There is altogether too much of a tendency to force individuals into becoming accustomed to manœuvre their way through cobwebs of controls, and to care less for personal initiative and responsibility. Our national traditions and our very way of life are becoming increasingly menaced by the administrative power held by a handful of men, and those who value liberty should be constantly on guard. Well was it said that "The price of liberty is eternal vigilance." We should never forget that. It is rather significant that, in this progressive and enlightened age, ancient principles so often have to he re-stated. We have the four freedoms—the freedom from fear, freedom from want, freedom of speech and freedom of religion—all constant reminders that liberty is a right not to be taken for granted. Somerset Maugham once said: Any country which thinks more of its ease and comfort than its freedom will very soon lose its freedom; and the ironical thing about it is that it will have lost its ease and comfort as well. I welcome this Bill as one which is long overdue. It is a modest start in trying to tackle a few of the glaring examples of excessive administrative power. It may be said that it is a some-what unconnected string of proposals. Nevertheless, they all have one common link—namely, that they aim at curbing the potential abuse of power over the individual. I would draw your Lordships' attention to the fact that this Bill has much in common with a proposal made in 1947 at the annual conference of the Conservative Party, which endorsed a proposal calling for a Charter of Liberties. This Bill does not go nearly as far as that, though it is a step towards it. I feel that the challenging times of this materialistic and modern age call strongly and loudly for a new 1950 Charter of Liberties which can take its place amongst the other written documents, another monument to freedom in our unwritten Constitution.

Noble Lords opposite may point out that in recent months there has been a considerable relaxation in various controls. Certainly since the beginning of this year there has beet a great improvement in our economic situation. I should say that the fresh and invigorating winds of returning freedoms have largely been the cause of that. But I feel that the average person feels little gratitude or thankfulness towards the Government for what one might well call this "policy of appeasement" or, as one member of the Government so irritatingly calls it, these "experiments in freedom." Far from that, all I can find amongst the average person is a continued impatience for the whole process to be speeded up. After watching five years of the policies of the Labour Government, it will take a long time to convince me that: the leopard has changed its spots. Certainly by not accepting this Bill the Government have come out in their true colours. I must say that I could never understand how the Government could reconcile a Bill of this kind, limited in scope though it is, with their declared intent on to make permanent the Supplies and Services Act—an Act with such unprecedented power that no Government before the war would have dreamed of introducing it. If ever that Act is made permanent—and I hope it will not be—I feel that it might well be called a Charter of Bondage.

I have no doubt that noble Lords opposite agree with the principles behind this Bill, but I have grave doubts of their colleagues in the other place. I find it scarcely reassuring when the present Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations, Mr. Gordon-Walker, says that the aim of the Socialist Party is to achieve permanent power by democratic means. How can one talk of "permanent power" and "democracy" in the same breath? Such statements as these make me, and I am sure millions of others, very doubtful about the true intentions of the Government, not only as to this Bill, but to the whole issue of freedom. I hope that this Bill will fare well and have a speedy passage through Parliament, though I have doubts whether it will. At any rate, one useful purpose will have been achieved—and all our thanks should go to the noble Viscount who introduced the Bill—in that the Bill places to the forefront the too long dormant issue of freedom. It draws the attention of us all to the ever-growing tendency for all power to be invested in the State, and for our lives to be more and more controlled by remote and inept bureaucrats, a process which, if completed, can result only in a harsh totalitarianism which nobody wishes to see. If the inevitability of this can be brought home to the minds of our freedom-loving people—and certainly this Bill is a step in the right direction—I feel that there is little danger of that ever occurring.

5.28 p.m.


My Lords, at this hour, and after this full debate, I do not desire to make a speech of the ordinary kind or of uncommon length. However, I should like in a few sentences to state what is the effect of the debate upon myself, and I hope upon a good many others. The effect of the debate as a whole on me is to make me feel that we ought to have a Committee stage in which we examine these clauses carefully, one by one. There is obviously a great deal to be said in their favour, and some things have been very forcibly said against some of them. I should have thought, the subject being what it is that is not a reason for rejecting this Bill on Second Reading, but is one for saying that we should like to have the contents of the Bill carefully and systematically examined with the help of members of the House on all sides.

My noble and learned friend the Lord Chancellor made a brilliant speech, not repeating altogether what he said before, but adopting a rather different line in some respects. He has indeed a logical ground on which he would seek to reject the Bill here and now, and he stated it in his first sentence. If what he then said was correct, I should agree with him at once that we should have nothing more to do with the Bill. His view is that this Bill will not increase the sum total of liberty at all, but on the contrary will actually decrease the liberty of the individual. That is what he stated in terms in his very first sentence. I ask myself only: Is that really true? Is that really the effect of this Bill?

One of the provisions of this Bill is that it provides for the individual recourse to a court of law where he conceives himself to be injured by a wrong decision—a right which at present he does not enjoy at all. Whatever may be said of the practical merits of that proposal, it is not decreasing but increasing the liberty of the individual. Another provision of this Bill is that there must be an appeal from a Ministerial decision or from the order or regulation whose validity is challenged in point of law in cases where it does not now exist. I do not understand the sense of saying that a provision of that sort will not increase the sum total of individual liberties but will in fact decrease it. Another provision of this Bill—and I do not think the Lord Chancellor very much objected to this—is that an individual's extent of claim against a public authority should not be less than the extent of his claim, in point of time and other things, against an individual. In what conceivable sense can it be said: "There is a provision which does not increase the liberty of the citizen but decreases it"? With all respect to my noble and learned friend, I am wholly unable to follow the meaning of the language which he used in that respect.

There is another provision upon which I ventured to interrupt him. One of the clauses of this Bill would reduce the number of cases in which an official has the right to enter a house without a magistrate's warrant. Whether that be wise or unwise, can it be disputed that that, in fact, is giving an additional protection to the individual liberty of the man who lives there? When I interposed to ask the Lord Chancellor why it was relevant to appeal rhetorically to the House and ask whether their Lordships really desired to abolish the right of the Home Office to send its inspectors to examine children's homes, I received an answer which, with very great respect, does not appear to me to have any logical basis whatever. Of course, my noble and learned friend at once admitted that there was nothing in Clause 6—the clause in question—which affected that in the least—the Home Office could go on doing that after this Bill became law as they do now. But the Lord Chancellor said: "No. I used that illustration to show you how foolish it is to pick and choose." If you are not going to pick and choose in the cases where officials are to have a right to enter your house without a magistrate's warrant, what sort of State are we going to live in? We are going to live under Hitler. Hitler is the truly original supporter of the proposition that you must never limit the right of one class of official to enter the house of an individual because to do so would really be picking and choosing between one class of case and another.

The whole point is that there must be some cases in which individual liberty and individual rights are modified and set aside in the general interests of the community. But there is a distinct limit to the cases in which that is the right thing to do. If we look at this thing for one moment historically, without going into the detail, I think that the case for discussing the clauses of this Bill in Committee is very strong indeed. What has happened, as we all realise, is this. During the war there was of necessity an immense extension of autocratic power authorised by Parliament and exercised by Ministers under regulations such as would never have been tolerated in times of peace. It is very regrettable that since then, instead of there having been a rapid return to the old system under which we used to live, there has in many cases been a very great delay.

The noble and learned Viscount said that the number of statutory instruments had greatly increased. They have indeed. In this very year up to date—and we are only half-way through the year—the num- ber of such instruments is 1,050. I venture to say that there are not two members of this House, or the other House, who could give an account of one-hundredth part of them. I do not deny that there must be regulations in proper cases, but surely we are blind to the situation in which we live if we do not realise that in these years after the war there has been, for good reason or for bad, a very grave invasion of what used to be regarded as the ordinary rights of the individual. You may be able to justify that according to your political philosophy, but to say that a Bill of this sort will not decrease such interference but will increase it seems to me to be very difficult to follow.

Therefore, without in the least saying that I agree with every clause in the Bill —in point of fact, I do not—the effect upon me is to feel that it is high time we did have, clause by clause, a discussion of the principles of this Bill in order that we may, without rhetoric, quite calmly, taking one thing at a time, see whether or not the war-time extensions of interference in individual liberty are not continuing too extensively and too far. I am far from saying that there is nothing in this Bill with which I, on my present information, would disagree, but I am quite certain that it would be wholly contrary to my notions of liberty, at any rate, to treat our present situation as though it were one deserving of nothing but praise; of treating the situation in which the ordinary citizen finds himself every day of the week, restrained in all sorts of ways by regulations, as the normal situation of his time. Surely, the general judgment of the House, while complimenting the Lord Chancellor on his ingenuity and the boldness of his argument, will recognise that we are in a grave danger of seeing what is called the Welfare State developed at the expense of a sacrifice of liberty which some of us, at any rate, are not prepared to see. My noble and learned friend the Lord Chancellor, in the course of his very eloquent oration, complained of the doctrinaire approach. There are one or two doctrines of which I am not in the least ashamed. I have a horrid prejudice in favour of liberty.

5.38 p.m.


My Lords, many differences of opinion have appeared during The discussion of this Bill, but about two things I am sure all your Lord- ships are agreed. The first is that debates of this nature, upon such a subject as this, are essential to the working of our democratic Parliamentary system. The second thing upon which I am sure all your Lordships are agreed is admiration for the speech with which the noble Viscount, Lord Samuel, introduced the Bill. If the noble and learned Viscount who sits on the Woolsack will not think it impertinent of me to say so, I should like to say how deeply impressed I was by his speech. While I thought in one or two places I detected a slight fallacy, I must say that he entirely convinced me upon some other points. I would certainly agree with him that there has been a great extension of liberty and freedom for the individual in consequence of the social legislation which has been introduced in recent years. I fully agree also with the steps which the noble and learned Viscount has taken to reform the law and to strengthen the Judiciary—steps towards preserving and ensuring the liberty of the individual.

However, I felt two other things about the noble and learned Viscount's speech. I felt that in many respects it was more a demonstration of the fact that this Bill requires considerable amendment than that the object of the Bill is wrong in itself. I felt that, in spite of what the noble and learned Viscount said, our liberties do seem to be shrinking; there does seem to he encroachment upon them—very likely inevitable. I was reminded of something which Mr. Bevin once said. He said that he looked forward to the day when a man would he able to go to Victoria Station and buy a ticket and travel anywhere he wanted in the world. Mr. Bevin saw a picture of a brave new world. Some little time after that, I read an account by Sir Norman Angell of his experiences when he was a young man. He was filled with a desire to visit the United States and to try his luck there. He says that he left this country without having to procure one single paper—no exit visa or anything of that sort; he was able to go without any such documents. He travelled across the Atlantic for £3 steerage, when the first-class fare was between £10 and £12. When he stepped off the boat on arrival in America he did not have to produce a single paper of any kind whatsoever; and thereafter for several years he travelled the length and breadth of the United States, earning his living at one job after another and never having to produce a single paper of any sort. So that when Mr. Bevin was contemplating a "brave new world" he was really thinking about the brave old world.

I apologise for detaining your Lordships at this hour but I should like, if I may, to devote myself to one aspect of this matter which is particularly in my mind. We are now committed to the policies of the Welfare State and of a planned economy. I support, as I always have supported, those policies, but I find that there are many people who fear very much that the policies contain within themselves the seeds of authoritarianism. Even if the Government set out to pursue such policies without any intention whatever of encroaching on liberty beyond the least possible extent, I feel they are in danger of finding themselves upon a slippery slope. The Welfare State must be based upon a planned economy—and how can you plan your economy 100 per cent. unless you have control over everything? We have already seen one weakness develop in the planned economy policy in the inability to control wages. That has presented considerable difficulties to those concerned, Moreover, although 80 per cent. of our industry is still in the hands of free enterprise, yet almost daily one notices expressions of irritation that the Government have not yet complete control, and that there are some portions of the national economy which still escape. I think this irritation is very natural. On the other hand, some people may find it inexcusable. I will not argue that now, but at least it is natural. If you have a plan which you believe to be a good plan, which you think will advance the welfare and happiness and prosperity of the people, it must be very irritating indeed to find that someone is able to hold you up.

I hope your Lordships will not think the illustration I am about to give too trivial. I have every day to pass the Army and Navy Stores, which some years ago embarked upon a great rebuilding scheme—and to-day there is that fine facade of theirs in Victoria Street. But at one corner of the building there is a shop—Fuller's sweet shop. I do not know the whole story, but I am perfectly convinced that when the Army and Navy Stores were embarking on that extension they must have made some proposal to Fuller's for securing, that shop. But Fuller's evidently did not wish to be swallowed up in this way, and they were able to resist. I have often thought about that as I have passed the Army and Navy Stores. But, my Lords, Governments have no mercy on the Naboths of this world. If the Government had been concerned and had been building some great air terminus or something of the kind, one may be sure that Fuller's sweetshop would not be standing there where it is today: it would have gone into the general plan. In these ways it does seem to me that we stand in danger of a drift towards authoritarianism when we are committed to these right and proper policies of the planned economy and the Welfare State. We have to be constantly on our guard: Parliament must he constantly on its guard, to see that any drift at all towards authoritarianism is dealt with at once.

The matter goes deeper than that. I fear there are those who look upon authoritarianism as an end in itself—not as a means to an end, which is quite legitimate. I confess, my Lords, that the doctrine that "the gentleman in Whitehall knows best" gets "under my skin," if I may use that colloquialism. It was the "gentleman in Whitehall" who made the unfortunate miscalculation about the ground-nuts scheme. It was a lady in Whitehall who told us that the period of gestation for a cow is eleven months. It was the "gentleman in Whitehall" who said, "You must throw your surplus milk away down the drain—you must not make it into cream." And when a certain old lady of eighty-six wanted to send some honey to her son in hospital abroad it was only when she had completed six forms that she was told that she could not do it.

I am not sure who is responsible for putting out posters. I remember that there was gentleman in Whitehall who some time back put out posters very lavishly. I recall one in particular, which ran: Some use big tools, some use small, But a little more production, would be good for us all. And that, if you please, was displayed in Bond Street—that is where I saw it. I observe now an outbreak of posters which actually tell us the correct way to hail a bus. I do not think this is very good employment for those gentlemen in Whitehall. I think they might be better employed in many other activities. I am reminded of the mother who said to the nurse "Go and see what Master Willie is doing and all him not to." I think, too, of the nurse who was always saying "I know best what is good for you, Master Albert." I feel that these are reminiscent of the sort of things that an: being said and done by those "gentlemen in Whitehall." It is all one of a piece with the phrases which have been quoted to-day about "experiments in freedom." "Experiments in freedom" in the country of Pym and of Hampden—a country in which even a Lord Chancellor once died for conscience' sake! Well, my Lords, this is not the country, and the English are not the people, to talk to about "experiments in freedom".

I have ventured to put forward these few remarks because I feel most sincerely that in these polices of a planned economy and a Welfare State these dancers lurk. They may well be brought about with the best of intentions, and for the best of motives; but the danger does lurk of starting a trend towards authoritarianism. I find everything that I feel on, that point summed up in an article that recently read in the Church Times which, with your Lordships' permission, I will read: Faced with economic crisis, a start might he made by tampering with the rights and liberties of our people, in the hope or on the pretext of saving their economic lives. How easy and fatal it will be to make an argument on chose lines. The article goes on: Hard circumstances play havoc with good intentions. The situation may present itself as a choice of circumstances. Liberty must be curtailed or the achievements of the past few years must be jeopardised. It concludes: A people loses liberty by a process of erosion, rather than by a single act. In connection with that article, I venture to remind your Lordships of words used by the noble Viscount, Lord Cecil of Chelwood, when he dealt with the growing power of the Executive. He said: We have a Constitution here in Britain which, if extremists gained office, would enable them to carry through any policy they wished. It seems to me that, although a Welfare State may be right, you cannot box up nearly 50,000,000 people in an island of this size without having to regulate their lives for them to a considerable extent; the Welfare State is in many ways completely incompatible with full individual liberty. If we achieve liberty in this modern complicated world, we must accept the corollary that bad luck or failure may land us in poverty and misfortune. But if we achieve social security, we must accept an ever-increasing regimentation, because such security must be based upon a planned economy which cannot go hand in hand with the right of the individual to do exactly what he likes. Therefore, I feel that the question which we have to consider and examine is this: How far can we pursue the policies of planned economy and of a Welfare State without encroaching too far and unbearably upon individual liberty? In those policies I feel lies the possible danger which the frogs found in Æsop's fable: It is so very easy indeed to change King Log for King Stork.

5.53 p.m.


My Lords, in his remarks I thought that the noble and learned Viscount who sits upon the Woolsack was a little less than fair to the noble Viscount the Leader of the Liberal Party, who I think was at particular pains to say that he recognised that the Bill might he improved in detail, and that he would be only too ready to co-operate with the Lord Chancellor if he felt inclined to lend him his own eminent legal ability together with the abilities of the Parliamentary draftsmen. So I cannot think that the noble and learned Viscount was being wholly just in calling the noble Viscount a doctrinaire, although, as my noble and learned friend, Lord Simon, has said, in the pursuit of liberty he is not ashamed to hold prejudiced and even doctrinaire views. If we are going to accuse the noble Viscount, Lord Samuel, of being doctrinaire, we must at the same time accuse Lord Acton, who said quite specifically: Liberty is no: a means to a higher political end. It is itself the highest political end. During the course of this debate, it seems to have emerged that, although many noble Lords on this side of the House and possibly some on the other side do not agree with every clause in this Bill, it is a Bill which is worth committing to the Committee stage. It is easy, or apparently easy, to criticise each clause and show that as drafted it would not achieve the end which it has in view. But surely that consideration is the duty of the House sitting in Committee. I do not agree at all with the view once expressed by a former Minister in the Government, Miss Ellen Wilkinson, who in an Annex to the Donoughmore Committee's Report said that in her view: Parliament can only deal really effectively with the principles and the general plan of proposed legislation. The details should be left to the experts. She added that it would be better if the Committee stage of a Bill, as we now understand it, did not come before Parliament at all. We have seen—and it has been long known since the time of John Stuart Mill a hundred years ago—that we cannot draw any general theory of where liberty begins and tyranny ends. It lies in the question of expediency and detail. It lies so much in detail and it is vital, as the Lord Chancellor himself recognised, apparently differing from his late colleague, that Parliament should be intimately concerned with the details of legislation.

How far we should go and how far Statutory Instruments and regulations should remove from Parliament the consideration of detail is in itself a matter of expediency. Certainly a freedom-loving people always lean towards Parliamentary control rather than towards Ministerial control. The Lord Chancellor told us that the independence of the judiciary was a certain prop and stay of a free people. It is, and we agree with him; but he must forgive us if we feel slight misgivings when some of his colleagues give utterance to such sentiments as these. The Minister of Health, speaking in Committee stage in another place, said: That is what the courts are being asked to decide under this Amendment, and I say that if we give to the doctor his right of appeal to the High Court against his dismissal because he has been a bad servant to the public, how can we withhold it from any member of the public?"— and so on. Then he says: This would be real judicial sabotage of socialised services… I do not know whether he considered his words or whether he received the support of his colleagues in the Government, but such sentiments as that give us the gravest cause for misgivings, which I think the noble Lord, Lord Winster, had in mind when he gave expression to his views and misgivings about the course of our national politics and. where we are going. It is not enough for the noble and learned Viscount to say that he has during this present Parliament introduced a Bill which increases the liberty of the subject. As the noble Lord, Lord Mancroft, said, it is his duty to reconcile his action with the sentiments and actions of his Government and his colleagues. If we weigh in one balance the Act in which he so justly takes pride against the Supplies and Services (Transitional Powers) Act, I do not think that the historian of the future will find that the balance is weighed down on the side of liberty.

The noble Lord, Lord Winster, told us that we were in grave danger in the Welfare State of losing our liberty in the pursuit of security. I am sure that his remarks are just and will be read with the greatest interest. In our view, it is also because the Government have needlessly pursued the political aim of nationalisation that we have so many more regulations than are really necessary for the running of a modern State. The noble Viscount the Leader of the House told us the other day that an industry, whether it is coal, gas or electricity, cannot be nationalised without a comprehensive mass of regulations, Orders and all the rest of it. That is exactly our political objection to nationalisation. As the accumulation of Statutory Orders and regulations grows, it is necessary for Parliament to see how liberty is faring, and that is why we on these Benches congratulate the noble Viscount that, by introducing a Bill offering specific remedies to what he believes to be legislative and administrative evils, he has focussed attention upon this very important question. We believe that he has every right to see this Bill considered in Committee We believe that from time to time we must consider as widely as possible how liberty and order are to be reconciled. We believe that that cannot be done by general sentiment, but by looking at legislation and administration in detail.

I myself do not take so depressed a view as the noble Lord, Lord Winster, about the future of freedom, if we really mean to have it. We feel that there are influences at work which do not really love freedom; but in a world in which, if it manages its affairs aright and maintains peace, the productive forces should increase the welfare and wealth of the world, there ought to be increasing and not diminishing liberty to every man woman and child. But we must plan for it. We must regard this matter in detail, and we must not throw away an opportunity such as this. Therefore, I advocate that we give this Bill a Second Reading.

6.3 p.m.


My Lords, I am very glad to see this Bill before us to-day because I believe it gives an opportunity to me and to many who I believe are of my opinion to state where we stand in this matter. I personally entirely agree with Lord Samuel's main contentions as to the necessity for increasing liberty in all possible ways, and, what is more, I also agree with his general method of attempting to do it through Parliament. There is only one snag in the matter and that is one which I think the Lord Chancellor has already very well pointed out—namely, the fact that if it is done by the methods advocated in this Bill it will produce the complete collapse of Parliament through gross overwork.

Although along Lord Samuel's general lines it lies later on in the process, I believe that the real remedy must start with a reform of Parliament. I have seen my father's old speech notes. My father, of course, sat with Lord Samuel on the Liberal Benches. In one of those speech notes my father stated that he thought that a Second Chamber was useful only for reassuring old women. I personally differ very strongly from that view. I follow Bernard Shaw in the matter. Bernard Shaw was once asked whether he was in favour of a Second Chamber, and he said: "Yes, certainly; we shall want four or five before we are through." That is the real truth. We must have four or five, or possibly more, different departments of Parliament which can deal with these matters. The separate Committees which now sit on the matter of the Statutory Rules and Orders are what one might call the eggs from which such later Houses may hatch. If we have something like that, then I think we may be able to tackle the problem along the lines suggested by Lord Samuel. Until then, I believe that such a method is hopeless, because it will cause such confusion as to bring this Parliament to disaster. Let us remember that dictatorship abroad has generally been caused by one of two things: either by foreign invasion or by the internal collapse of the Parliaments of the countries concerned. That, I believe, is something upon which we must ruminate when we consider laying extra burdens on this already overburdened Parliament.

As to these statutory Rules and Orders and the rest, what disturbs me most is the matter of inspectors. We do not want to have more of our lives inspected than is necessary. I personally divide inspectors into two kinds—those who inspect factories and such places, and those who have a right to enter our homes. I think the idea of having somebody inspect the kitchens of various hotels and such establishments is a very good one. When I am eating out, many times I have a quiet shudder when I think of what may be going on down in the kitchen. Perhaps it is lucky for me that I cannot go down and inspect it myself. Therefore, I am glad to think that there is somebody who can. I believe those inspectors are vital to the existence of this country, and I believe that they represent an actual increase in our liberty.

But there arc inspectors whom we really must try to get rid of—namely, those who can enter our homes. Here I should like to congratulate the Government on the great decrease in recent years in the number of such inspectors. I think that a debate of this kind should not conclude without somebody mentioning the fact that we have got rid of the majority of the inspectors who can inspect men's homes. We have got rid of the Poor Law inspectors and we have got rid of the Means Test inspectors. They really were inspectors of a dictatorial kind. If the Govern- ment can find any method of getting rid of that kind of inspector (and possibly the best way is to get rid as fast as possible of rationing and such other controls as make them necessary), then I think they should take the chance. If there is any way of transferring those who inspect men's homes to the alternative work of inspecting factories or food depots or any such place, then we should try and change the law to make that possible. But I believe that any sweeping legislation of a general type such as is now contemplated would he quite impossible and, whilst Parliament is formed as it is now, would lead to Parliamentary disaster.

6.9 p.m.


My Lords, I do not propose to take up much of your Lordships' time at this late hour, but I should like to address a few remarks to your Lordships upon this exceptionally important subject. It must have been fairly clear that many noble Lords who support the Government are more than a little worried about the whole situation, particularly in respect of administrative law and many of the other matters covered by this Bill. Your Lordships will have realised that from speeches which have been delivered from this side of the House this afternoon, and that anxiety is but a reflection of a very widespread anxiety in the Party to which I have the honour to belong—perhaps more particularly among those members of the Party who are practising members of the legal profession. I have, indeed, myself been asked to convey to His Majesty's Government the anxiety of the Society of Labour Lawyers in respect of this matter, and to ask the Government whether they cannot see their way to going at any rate some distance in support of the principles of this Bill.

I entirely agree with what the noble and learned Viscount who sits on the Woolsack said in his speech to the effect that the present Government have done more to spread liberty widely through the great masses of the people in this country than any previous Government have ever done. The noble and learned Viscount himself has been one of the greatest Lord Chancellors we have ever had, and I feel that I have bad a little reflected glory by reason of the fact that I have been privileged to assist him in some of the very important liberty-promoting measures which he has carried through your Lordships' House. As he has said, some of the work upon which he is engaged at the present time is of the greatest importance from that point of view. But I cannot see that that fact prevents his accepting at any rate some of the proposals made by the noble Viscount, Lord Samuel.

The whole of this problem of administrative law has been left exactly where it was when the Donoughmore Committee reported about the matter well back in the 1930's. Not only have the recommendations of that Committee not been fulfilled, hut, so far as I am able to see, no very real effort had been made by any Party, until this Bill was brought before your Lordships' House, to get the proposals of the Don oughmore Committee implemented. I find it very difficult to believe that proposals which have had the backing of my late colleague Professor Laski, the late Miss Ellen Wilkinson, and Mr. Richards, are really not proposals which are valuable from the point of view of the liberties of the subject in this country. This is not a matter which is so difficult that it cannot be effectively dealt with in legislation. This country is one of the few countries with modern civilised legal systems in which provision is not made for appeal from administrative decisions on legal points of great importance. In the United States of America, within only the last few years, a most important Act of Congress has been passed through which, I suggest, is in many ways a model of its kind. It provides valuable recourse from the decisions of administrative tribunals in the United States to what is in effect an administrative court of appeal. The precise way in which such appeals should be provided for is a matter for discussion.

It might well be that this Bill could be withdrawn and a new Bill introduced after consultations had taken place. I am sure that the great masses of the people of this country are feeling very anxious at the present time, holding the view that something is needed in respect particularly of administrative law and the decisions of Ministers of State, given in almost every Department of State at the present time, which in all sorts of ways affect the rights and liberties of the ordinary men and women in this country and from which they have no sort of appeal whatever. It is only right that there should be an appeal and that that appeal should be brought in a neutrally constituted court. There may be reasons against these cases going to the ordinary Court of King's Bench. It may be that the judges there have not sufficiently wide experience of administrative arrangements to be able to deal with such matters effectively. But I cannot see why some sort of administrative court such as exists in other countries should not be set up. The President of such a court, I suggest, might be a judge of the High Court, who would be assisted, possibly, by eminent retired civil servants or others who had detailed knowledge of the administrative arrangements of the country. I suggest that there are a number of clauses in this Bill which the Government could very well accept, and if they will do so they will accept them with the support of the great mass of men and women of this country. I hope, therefore, that they will look at the matter again to see whether something can be done.

6.18 p.m.


My Lords, I want to join with other noble Lords who have expressed their gratitude to the noble Viscount, Lord Samuel, for initiating such a very interesting and important debate. Nobody is more anxious than His Majesty's Government to ensure that the ancient rights and liberties of the subject are safeguarded. We therefore welcome the motives which have prompted the presentation of this Bill, and I can assure the noble Viscount, Lord Samuel, that nobody will be more zealous than ourselves in jealously safeguarding the long-established liberties of this land. The debate has been essentially a legal debate, and I should have wished that the noble and learned Viscount, the Lord Chancellor, had waited a while and had delivered his speech at the end of the debate, instead of intervening about hall' way through, for I regard his able and indeed devastating speech against the Bill as about the last word which it was necessary to say against it. His legal arguments were such that I thought it would be impossible for a layman to follow them or to deal with the points as fully as he dealt with them. In the course of the short time which I propose to detain your Lordships I shall not attempt to emulate that able and eloquent speech.

I was interested to note the emphasis placed in the earlier speeches upon the individual liberty of the subject in this country. I fully agree with the importance of it, but I should have wished that some reference had been made before the speech delivered by the noble Lord, Lord Winster, to the economic and industrial liberties and rights of the people in this country. Some of us who have lived a long time recall the state of affairs which existed a good many years ago, and while "the good old days" might have been regarded as a sort of Eldorado in the matter of personal liberty for a number of people, it may be said of the great masses of the population of the country that the economic and industrial conditions in which they lived were worse than at present, and they did not enjoy even the measure of political liberty which they enjoy at the present time.

My memories go back to 1947 when the noble Marquess, Lord Reading, introduced the previous Bill. The House was impressed by the powerful speech of our late colleague Lord Dukeston, whose passing we all deplore. He dealt fully with that aspect of the situation. He and I. and many who were with him during the latter part of last century and the first half of this, became somewhat cynical at this prating of liberty after the treatment we received at the hands of the Liberals in the early days. I agree with what was then said by my noble friend. Lord Dukeston. The period between 1906 and 1914 was a period in which we had more strikes and victimisation of the industrial population than at any other period in our history. The noble and learned Viscount, Lord Simon, refers to the miners' Minimum Wages Act of 1912, but the minimum wage the miners asked for was a moderate and totally inadequate wage for the people employed in the most important and dangerous industry of this country—no more than 2s. 6d. per day, plus a percentage. Our memories go back to the dockers' strike, when the dockers went on strike for the "dockers' tanner" and were kept out on strike because those who prated about political liberty at that time gave no consideration whatever to the standards of life of the people.

I was somewhat alarmed by the statement made by the noble Lord, Lord Winster, about the Welfare State and the social services. We have been building up the Welfare. State over a long period, ever since 1870, when the Government gave the people the right to receive education—just a grounding in the three "Rs". But that was enough to enable some of us to do what was necessary to build up what Parliament had denied to the people, an adequate standard of living. We built up outside Parliament the strongest industrial movement in the world, and whilst we were not deterred from building also a political movement, the working people in those early days pinned the whole of their hopes upon industrial action. The result is that to-day we have, working side by side, a powerful trade union movement and the most powerful political movement in the country. Both would sacrifice a considerable amount for the complete restoration of the liberties of the subject—but not at the expense of our economic and our social liberty. That is where I cross swords with the noble Lord, Lord Winster. We can have adequate safeguards for the liberty of the individual if they coincide with safeguarding the standards of the people. There is this difference between the present day and thirty or forty years ago, that to-day it is the great mass of the people who enjoy both economic and political liberty.

The noble and learned Viscount the Lord Chancellor said that I would refer to some of the clauses with which he did not deal. I will first of all deal with Clause 8, which proposes to deprive the marketing boards of their statutory powers and duty, now exercised by a special disciplinary committee of the board under the chairmanship of a lawyer. I question whether this clause is necessary. It would be interesting if the noble Viscount, Lord Samuel, would tell the House where the representations have come from which prompted him to include a clause of this kind in the Bill. Have they come from the agricultural producers or from the consumers? I was surprised to hear the noble Lord, Lord Llewellin, suggest that he was going to support this clause.


The noble Viscount is wrong. I suggested that the right way of dealing with this was that a man should have the choice of going to the courts instead of paying the fine of the disciplinary committee.


That is so—I apologise to the noble Lord. A similar clause was moved as an amendment against the Agricultural Marketing Act which passed through another place in April of last year and then passed through your Lordships' House without any amendment at all. The interesting thing is that when it was voted on in another place, this clause received only two votes, apart from those of the Tellers, one being a Liberal and the ether an Independent. Not a single Conservative Member voted for the clause. That is in itself an indication that there is no purpose in this clause. If there was, then the right place for introducing legislation of this kind was in the Agricultural Marketing Act.

We take strong objection to two clauses in the Bill, Clauses 10 and 11. Although the noble Viscount said that Clause 10 of the 1947 Bill had been dropped. Clause 10 in the present Bill takes its place, for the Unemployment Assistance Board, as well as the industries which have been nationalised, is brought within the scope of the clause. I think that this clause is.misconceived and it seems unlikely that the noble Viscount realizes its full implications. In the first place, the socialised industries are commercial undertakings, and it was the deliberate intention of Parliament that they should be free from detailed Ministerial or Parliamentary interference in their day-to-day operations and that Parliamentary supervision should be limited to the broadest questions of policy. This clause offends against that principle and, if it is desired to attack it, it would be more honestly and fairly done by an attempt to amend the nationalisation measures themselves than this rather loose method of inserting a clause in a Bill concerned with the liberty of the individual.

It is impossible to accept the implication of the clause that the public authorities listed in the Schedule to this Bill are more inclined to be unfairly oppressive than are private enterprises. Quite the contrary. The Government have no reason to think that the existing safeguards of the individual are insufficient. They are certainly more substantial than in the case of private industry. In many cases the aggrieved individual has a remedy in the courts. Where this is so it is better that the courts should deal with the matter, and it would be undesirable that the Minister should intervene in a case which was before the courts or might come before them. In other cases the aggrieved individual has at least the same, and indeed greater, opportunities for obtaining redress than he has from private industry.

Those supporting this clause entirely ignore. the machinery which the Statutes have set up for dealing with the grievances of the two largest bodies of people affected by the operations of the social. ised industries—namely, the consumers and the workpeople. Consumers' consultative machinery was set up in each industry for the precise purpose of enabling the grievances of consumers to be thoroughly ventilated and, if necessary, brought before the Minister who is empowered to give direction to the hoards. Similarly, the grievances of the work people are at present most successfully dealt with through conciliation machinery. Is it wise to imperil the success of these arrangements, which have never worked better than they are working at the present time, by enabling the aggrieved individual to short-circuit: them? It is most undesirable that the Minister should deal with the details of staff relations and personnel manageinent. Indeed, the trade unions concerned, and the nationalised boards themselves would resent interference by the Minister in matters which they have already discussed and agreed through the usual machinery of collective negotiation. It will be another interference with the work of the trade union movement in this country if the Bill is carried through in its present form. Indeed, the Minister himself would find it difficult, and possibly disastrous to the stability and efficient running of the industry, to interfere in these matters. It is right, of course, that the liberties of the individual should be protected, 'put it would be wrong to allow and certainly to encourage any individual to make collective bargaining unworkable. In short, the adoption of this clause would drastically upset the economy which the socialised industries need for their everyday commercial activities. while it would be more likely to weaken than to add to the safeguards against oppressive behaviour on their part.

As to Clause 11, why such a clause has been included is indeed a puzzle to me. I suppose it takes the place of Clause 11 of the 1947 Bill, which has been dropped. This clause has for its purpose the prevention of political and religious victimisation by an employer. Those of us who have had to deal with large numbers of cases of victimisation know that it is almost impossible in private employment to fix any cause for victimisation. You can legislate, if you like, and say that this legislation prevents victimisation, but we have seen every device adopted for the purpose of victimising a man for his religious, political or, indeed, his trade union activities. We feel that this clause, again, is an interference with an organisation which during the last twenty or thirty years has been able, through its relationship with the employers, to deal with this matter infinitely better than any legislation could possibly deal with it. Indeed, the trade unions would deprecate the singling out of any political Party or any religious denomination for mention in a Bill of this kind, as here they have cegislative protection against what was one of the worst evils—namely, the victimisation of the individual by industry. The trade union movement would take strong exception to that clause, because, as they rightly say, again it is an interference with duties which have been carried out much more successfully than they could he carried out under any legislative instrument of this kind.

Finally, I come to Clause 12, the object of which is to allow a writ of habeas corpus to be issued in the case of a member of a Commonwealth country's Forces stationed in this country.


Or others.


Yes, or others. The noble Lord, Lord Llewellin, asked whether any approach had been made to the Commonwealth countries in relation to any change which might be required in connection with this legislation. No approach was made to the Commonwealth countries or, indeed, to any of our Allied countries during, the last war; indeed, there was hardly any need for an approach to be made by us. The position is as it was. Here is legislation which was entered into as a result of a complete understanding between the Commonwealth countries and our own Government and our Allies during the last war, and that legislation has worked very satisfactorily for the seventeen years for which it has been upon the Statute Book. Why, in a Bill of this kind, further legislation should be asked for upon legislation which is agreed between ourselves and other nations, is beyond our comprehension. There is nothing more that I can say. The noble and learned Viscount, the Lord Chancellor, has dealt with what are regarded as the legal aspects of the Bill, and I have attempted, very inadequately, to follow him and deal with the clauses which were left to me. From what he and so many noble Lords have said about certain clauses of this Bill, I hope noble Lords will agree that there is no purpose at all for this measure and will vote against the Second Reading.

6.40 p.m.


My Lords, I confess that I am profoundly disappointed at the attitude taken by the Government. We invited their co-operation. We wished the whole House to work together in order to deal with a few exceptional matters which have aroused a good deal of public opinion in recent years. They have returned a fiat negative, and apparently are going to press the House to a Division and vote against this Bill. The reasons given seem to me quite inadequate, consisting almost entirely of Committee points which could properly be dealt with at the next stage of the Bill. With regard to the first part of the speech of the noble Viscount who has just spoken, it seemed to me to have a certain familiar ring about it—grievances of the miners thirty or forty years ago, and the injustices which they suffered. I forget whether he mentioned the Means Test this time—he may have done so. But noble Lords know the familiar feeling when one seems to have heard exactly the same thing before and to have been in a place already. I seem to remember hearing the same speech on two or three previous occasions on entirely different matters. However, at the end he came to the Bill and dealt with one or two of the particular clauses.

The noble Viscount urged that the Welfare State requires all these restrictions on liberty. Well, the two ought not to be antagonistic to one another. You cannot have a true Welfare State which treats personal liberty as unimportant. That is the Welfare State in Russia, where people have to submit to slavery in order to have what is called economic freedom. The business of this Government, and particularly a Labour Government, I think, should be to relieve the Welfare State which they have helped to build up from the accusation that it unnecessarily restricts liberty. I was much struck by the courageous speech of the noble Lord, Lord Chorley, who, speaking on behalf of an organisation of lawyers belonging to the Labour Party, said that they were deeply concerned at the manner in which the judicial procedure was neglected in certain cases and the encroachments that had in fact been made upon personal liberty. He urged the Government to take these facts into account and to think yet again before they gave a complete negative to all proposals such as those embodied in the Bill.

With respect to the noble Viscount's last point, in urging that political and religious tests should not be imposed by private employers as a condition of employment, I fail to follow his argument entirely, because he said that we were interfering—tha t was his word—with the activities of trade unions in protecting their members against victimisation. In what smallest particular would this clause, if it were passed into law, affect in any way the admirable efforts that are made by the trade unions to protect their members from victimisation? It adds a fresh safeguard to personal liberty in the case where private individuals try to make as a condition of employment some particular political or religious faith, or the absence of some particular religious or political profession or belief.

With regard to habeas corpus, the noble Viscount said that the legislation has worked perfectly satisfactorily for seventeen years. How can you tell that it has worked satisfactorily if you deny to an aggrieved person the right to sue for habeas corpus? How do you know whether or not things have occurred on which a writ of habeas corpus ought to have been issued?


Because His Majesty's Government have had no complaint at all from the British Commonwealth. If there had been any complaint against it, then, of course, His Majesty's Government, with other Governments, would have heard of those complaints.


The noble Viscount again refers only to Commonwealth affairs, but there are other foreign forces—certainly the Polish forces. How do you know that people have not been subjected to injustice there for their political beliefs or other beliefs? I do not say that they have been; I have no knowledge whatever of the subject. I am making no insinuation of any sort or kind. All I say is that we cannot tell—because no writs have been sued for, having been prohibited by law—that there have not been occasions upon which writs ought to have been, and probably would have been, sued for if there had been permission to do so. An opinion strongly urged by Sir Stafford Cripps—this was when he was not in the present Government—was that this was a matter of pro-found importance, a matter of principle; that certainly no ham could be done by allowing writs of habeas corpus to be sued for, and that much harm might be done by the refusal. However, I do not propose to chew the cud of the debate and to go over again till the matters that were dealt with in my previous speech, for the length of which I must apologise to the House. I trust that noble Lords who have heard the debate and have followed these matters will support the Bill in the Division, since one is being forced upon us, and will urge that this measure is worthy of consideration, point by point, in a Committee of your Lord, ships' House.