HL Deb 26 June 1952 vol 177 cc466-86

3.41 p.m.

Debate on Second Reading resumed.


My Lords, I am grateful to the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor for the care which he has taken in expounding to us what is undoubtedly an extremely difficult Bill. But for the events which have taken place, I have no doubt that. I might well have been expounding this Bill to your Lordships. The Convention on which it is based was one which was agreed to in the lifetime of the previous Government, and, in the main, this Bill is designed to carry out that Convention. I do not pretend for one moment that this is not a matter which should cause us considerable anxiety. Yet, haying said that, I think this Bill is framed upon the right lines, and that, on the whole, this is the best way out of a difficult situation.

As the Lord Chancellor said, it is odd, when we look at Clause 1 of this Bill, to find that it applies to the various Commonwealth countries, who in the main, save in the case of Canada, were not parties to the Convention. It is only when we get to Clause 1 (2) that we see contemplated a system whereby the provisions of the Bill may be extended to other countries, including those who did sign the Convention. In view of the fact that the Convention is, in all human probability, shortly to be ratified by a number of these countries, I rather wish that the Bill had been a little delayed, because I am not too happy about Clause 1 (2), under which it may be extended by Order in Council to other countries, subject to any adaptations or modifications which may be specified. That is a very wide power indeed. I presume that the Order in Council which will specify the adaptations will have to be passed by this House, at least in the Negative Resolution procedure form, and I think in the Affirmative Resolution form.


No; that is not so provided.


Then it ought to be so provided. I think it would be quite wrong that the Government should be able to make modifications to this Bill when it becomes an Act, without coming to Parliament and getting approval beforehand of what those modifications are to be. May I say that I hope we shall not be unduly rushed into the Committee stage, because this Bill obviously needs much more consideration than I have been able to give to it at present? I feel that we, should consider Clause 1 carefully; and I certainly feel that Parliament ought to be consulted before the adaptations or modifications are passed, because this is a very wide power—it might include almost anything.

There is another difficulty which I feel arises under Clause 3. The Lord Chancellor has reviewed the previous legislation. I believe that the Acts of 1933 and 1940 gave concurrent jurisdiction—


Yes, that is so.


—whereas the Act of 1942, as the Lord Chancellor said, gave exclusive jurisdiction, though there was a power to request the courts of this country to operate, and in the case to which he referred that is what took place. If that is so, in either of those cases this possible conflict of jurisdiction is avoided. I want to point out to your Lordships how important it is that on this matter there should be no ambiguity at all. If a man commits an offence, or is accused of committing an offence, it would be quite intolerable that there should be an ambiguity as to which court has jurisdiction to try him. If he comes to the English courts, his counsel may raise some point, and the English courts may say that they have not jurisdiction. Then perhaps he may go to the other court (if he ever gets there), where the contrary argument may be used, possibly with different results. We see such a phrase as that contained in Clause 3 (1) (a): the alleged offence, if committed by him, was committed in the course of duty…


I made specific reference to that point, and called the attention of the House to Clause 11 (4), pointing out that it was necessary to solve just that difficulty by providing that the authority of the visiting, force should have the power to certify that it was done "in the course of duty."


I realise that the authority may exercise that power; but they may not. If they do not, then the question still has to be decided, and it may be a difficult question. For instance, we all remember the case many years ago of that shocking incident at the Horse Guards in Whitehall, where two girls went in, were taken in or were lured in—I have forgotten the precise details of the case—and an offence was committed. In one sense, I suppose, those men were acting "in the course of duty," because they were on duty at the time. On the other hand, it is ridiculous to suggest that it was their duty to do anything of the sort. Arguments might arise in that way. I agree that the argument can be resolved if, under Clause 11 of the Bill, the authorities of the visiting forces choose to give the certificate. But if they do not choose to give the certificate, then the matter has to be resolved. I have no criticism of the words, but we must be careful to consider whether they are as precise as they might be, because in all these questions of jurisdiction it is of the utmost importance that there should be as little room for controversy as possible

I do not repeat the same point with regard to paragraph (b) of Clause 3 (1). I can imagine, in regard to that again, that difficult points might arise, and we must look at the Bill between now and the Committee stage to see whether we have exhausted all the possibilities of getting the matter absolutely clear, because it would be most unfortunate if controversy should arise. I feel that this should be said (the Lord Chancellor has already said it, but perhaps I may repeat it): that the difficulties which might have arisen under the Acts of 1933 and 1940 have been avoided by the exercise of good sense; and in the case of the United States of America (Visiting Forces) Act of 1942, under which they have exclusive jurisdiction, it is the fact that the Americans have been most careful to punish all cases which are properly proved against their men—and I may add that they have given punishment to an extent and of a severity which is far more drastic than that which we habitually give in our own courts. So that, in fact, whatever the theoretical objections may be against it, the Act of 1942 has, thanks to the willingness of the American authorities to see, so far as they can, that their men observe law and order in this country, worked well.

I now pass briefly to consider the different matter with which the Lord Chancellor dealt under Clause 9. The difficulty we had here in the old days, before we passed the Crown Proceedings Act, 1947, was well illustrated by what happened in regard to running-down cases. It often used to happen that somebody was able to prove that he had been run down and injured by the reckless driving of some Army lorry, but that he was unable to identify the particular lorry or the particular driver. Though our authorities were most anxious to help in every way they could, there was a real technical and procedural difficulty. That is hound to happen. The Lord Chancellor pointed out that there will be the right of the liege who is injured in this country to bring his action against the man who has injured him. But he may not be able to find him. So far as our War Office are concerned, when this happens now, the man can, if necessary—I think I am right in saying this—bring his action against the Secretary of State for War. In that way he can get redress, if he establishes the fact that he was knocked down by an Army lorry, even if he is unable to identify the particular lorry which did it. But there would be no corresponding right against the American authorities. It is well worth considering whether it would not be possible to arrange with them that they should confer upon the people of this country the corresponding right which they have as regards our own War Office.

I realise that the Minister of Defence and the Claims Commission of our War Office have the right to which the noble and learned Lord on the Woolsack called attention. It is not quite the same thing, however, as giving anybody who has been injured—and unfortunately this is a very common thing in this country—an absolute right to proceed in the courts of law in respect of that accident. I think it is worth while considering whether that should or should not be done.

There are many other matters which need to be considered on the Committee stage, but I should be breaking my own rule and my own suggestion against long speeches were I to go on. The matter needs to be looked at most carefully. It is an important matter. We are all exceedingly grateful to the Lord Chancellor for the admirable way in which he expounded this difficult Bill, and I think we shall all wish to give the Bill a Second Reading. I hope that we shall be allowed some little time, though not an undue time, to consider it before the Committee stage is taken.

3.52 p.m.


My Lords, I should like to join with the noble and learned Earl opposite in thanking my noble and learned friend on the Woolsack for the very clear explanation he has given us of this technical Bill. So far in this debate we have been proceeding on the assumption that the countries who are expected to ratify the Agreement will do so. I suppose that that is all right. Certainly it would be no good our binding ourselves to certain conditions which, as the Lord Chancellor said, would affect our troops in other countries, if it later turned out that the Agreement as it stands was not ratified by the countries in which they might serve. However, I suppose that is a risk which it is justifiable to take to-day.

The Lord Chancellor said that this Bill might surprise any old-fashioned student of law, but I think it certainly would not surprise anybody who has tried to follow the progress of our arrangements for Western Defence, N.A.T.O., and so forth, because, looked at from another point of view (and I do not want to follow either of the previous speakers on the legal points) this is practical evidence that the detailed arrangements made necessary by the strategic requirements of Western Union are slowly and surely being tied up. After all, notwithstanding the Act of 1933, this is the first time that we have ever really envisaged a state of affairs in which visiting forces in large numbers would spend an indefinite period on British soil in what is technically a time of peace—a "hot peace" or a "cold war." That is a situation which has never arisen before in this country, because between the wars the only visiting forces who were here were individuals or small parties of Dominion troops, or possibly foreign troops on courses of instruction in British military establishments. Now, for the first time, we have formations of Commonwealth troops and Allied troops staying in this country under peace conditions for an indefinite time. That makes a great deal of difference.

One reason why it makes a great deal of difference is that under the so-called peace conditions troops, whoever they are, have considerably more leisure than they have under war conditions. Training is not so intensive; the recreational periods are longer; travel is easier and, therefore, those troops will be mixing a good deal more with the civil population than perhaps they did in war time. I am quite sure that that is a good thing, because the way to make an Act like this work must surely be to have the best possible relations between the visiting forces and the people in the locality where they are stationed. That has always been obvious. It was not so easy in the last war to do what one would have liked in the way of entertaining visiting forces, simply because of the food difficulties and the difficulty of sharing the Sunday joint. But the background for the working of the Visiting Forces Bill, when it becomes an Act, must be the best possible relations between the visiting forces, the people and the police authorities in the places where they are stationed.

From the Service point of view, anything which can be done to clarify the relations between the visiting forces and the people of the country is all to the good, bearing in mind, as the Lord Chancellor said, that what is sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander, and that we must expect our own troops when stationed overseas to be treated in exactly the same way by the local police and the local inhabitants. To look at it for a moment from the point of view of the local police, I think it would be fair to say that this Bill represents a considerable advance on any previous Bill, because it does allow jurisdiction in the local courts in certain cases concerning offences of a type which are clearly not going to have anything to do with the visiting forces' service duties. But we do come across one problem which the noble Earl, Lord Jowitt, mentioned a moment ago—the question of whether people are, or are not, on duty. Now I am not suggesting that we can better this arrangement, because the present clause corresponds very closely with what is written into the Agreement. Any attempt to alter it would involve an attempt to alter the Agreement, which I should think would be very difficult indeed. But there are going to be a good many conflicts of interest over this question of duty.

The noble Earl, Lord Jowitt, mentioned the case of rape, or whatever it was, in the Horse Guards. That may be serious, but what will require a good deal more attention in practice is the question of driving vehicles on duty. Unless a man from a visiting force takes a vehicle out for a joy ride, it can be assumed that he will always be on duty when driving a Service vehicle; therefore, unless I am wrong, it stands to reason that every traffic accident, with the exception of the small percentage of accidents caused by joy-riders, will be an accident caused by a man on duty. I should be very surprised if I were wrong in saying that the great bulk of offences—or a very high percentage of them—caused by visiting, troops anywhere are traffic accidents, all of which, with the few exceptions I have mentioned, will come into the category of accidents on duty because the vehicles will be Service vehicles.

There may also be some points to tidy up about cases where—as in the case quoted by the Lord Chancellor—an American and a civilian jointly commit the offence. There may be other points which will arise as time goes on. With regard to those points, I think it will be found that our powers of amending this Bill will be very limited indeed, unless we are prepared to face any alteration in the draft Agreement, which I imagine is not a thing which will be welcome at all. If that is so—and I rather think it is so—we have either that very difficult alternative or we have to make up our minds not to meet our troubles halfway but to see how the present arrangements work. Provided that we can get good will between the local inhabitants, the local police and the authorities of the visiting forces, then I believe we shall have solved the greater part of the problem. For that reason, I should like to support the Motion for the Second Reading of the Bill and join with the noble and learned Earl in hoping that we may have a little time to look at it more closely before the Committee stage.

4.0 p.m.


My Lords, as previous speeches have indicated, this is a matter both complex and important. We must all be grateful to the Lord Chancellor for the great care he has taken in making the provisions of this complicated measure as plain as may be to the House. Parliament must always be jealous of any infringement of die prerogatives of the Crown in relation to the Sovereign's courts administering the municipal law. It is inevitable, as the noble and learned Lord on the Woolsack has said and as others have repeated, that, in the circumstances in which we find ourselves and which we have to contemplate, a jurisdiction, be it wide or narrow, must he given in certain regards to the courts operating under the auspices of visiting forces.

It is interesting to note the history of this matter, to which the noble and learned Lord on the Woolsack drew some attention. Hitherto, by the Acts of 1933 and 1940, the position, broadly speaking has been, I think, that in association with concurrent jurisdiction, there was an exclusive jurisdiction of military tribunals of the visiting forces limited to matters of discipline and internal administration only. In the course of the 1914 war, it is true, the American forces claimed far wider jurisdiction over their forces in this country than was claimed by or allowed to other forces—or, indeed, allowed in the event to United States forces, because that war came to an end before the discussion was concluded. But under the 1942 Act during the recent war, the American forces achieved an exclusive jurisdiction, or to all intents and purposes an exclusive jurisdiction, in all matters affecting their armed forces here.

My noble and learned friend Lord Jowitt has drawn attention to the provisions of subsection (2) of Clause 1 of the Bill, whereby the provisions of the Bill may be applied to countries other than the Dominions mentioned in subsection (1) of the same clause; and he has drawn attention in particular to the fact that power is given by Order in Council to adapt or modify the provisions of the Bill. I do not know—I ask for information—whether it may be that the adaptations or modifications by Order in Council could extend the rights of military courts of visiting forces beyond those contained in this Bill, or whether those adaptations or modifications would be by way of limitation. That is, could they be by way of extension or must they be by way of limitation? The reason I ask that question is because if the adaptation be by way of limitation only, then the position of the American forces in this country after the passing of this Bill into law will be different from what it is at present, and the jurisdiction which thus far the American forces have been enjoying will be much more limited than it is at the present time. That may be the intention; I hope it is, but I should like to know.

I do not want to delay your Lordships by dealing with matters of detail which, on this complicated Bill, may well arise—indeed, must arise on the Committee stage. I must say, however, that while the Bill deals so largely with criminal matters and to so small an extent with civil matters, the question of civil action is one of great importance to private citizens in this country. It is perhaps a little disturbing, although it may be inevitable, that the certificate of the military authorities of the visiting forces should be final and conclusive on the question of whether a person alleged to have committed an offence or to have been liable in a civil matter is a member of the armed forces or not. However clear it may be that he was not on duty, if he is a member of the armed forces, or a member of a civilian component, a certificate to the contrary by the military authorities will, as the Bill stands, be final and conclusive. That is the position as I understand it, and it is, I think, a matter which may need to be looked into a little more.

There is another small point which arises on the Agreement, though it is not in the Bill. It occurs in Clause VIII of the Agreement, and it refers to claims not being made between the contracting parties below a certain specified figure. I hope that that means as between Governments themselves and that it is not intended in any way to limit the right of the private citizen who may, perhaps, go to a court in this country to obtain judgment for £490. I mention that figure because in the case of the United Kingdom £500 is the limit mentioned in the Agreement.


Those clauses to which the noble Lord refers are intended to confer exemption only as between State and State—at least, so I read them.


I thought that must be so, and I mentioned the matter for no other purpose than to obtain that statement from the Lord Chancellor. I am grateful to the noble and learned Lord for it. It is quite clear that a Bill along these lines is inevitable and necessary. I would not myself comment adversely as to the general purport of the Bill, but it will require, as has been said, very precise examination in detail at the next stage. We are dealing here with a situation in which the prized jurisdiction of the courts of this country is to be excluded in favour of other courts exercising jurisdiction within this Realm. We ought to be slow to allow such a state of things without providing proper protective provisions.

4.9 p.m.


My Lords, I should like to make one or two observations—not in a critical spirit, because it will be generally agreed that this is a very difficult Bill to understand in detail. We are indeed grateful to the noble and learned Lord on the Woolsack for the most careful exposition of the Bill which he gave us; but there may be one or two points on which we should like to be further informed. I find myself in a great deal of sympathy with the first criticism which was made by the noble and learned Earl, Lord Jowitt. When one looks at the Bill, it is a rather striking circumstance that though it is presented to us, and, of course, quite properly presented to us, as a Bill necessary to carry out our part of the Agreement regarding the state of the forces of the parties to the North Atlantic Treaty, none the less the Bill itself says nothing about the North Atlantic Treaty, either in its Title or, I think, in any of its clauses. You might read the Bill from beginning to end without knowing that it refers specifically to the signatories to the North Atlantic Treaty. That is some confirmation of the first point made by the noble and learned Earl, Lord Jowitt, because in those circumstances it certainly is rather surprising to find that under Clause 1 (2), by Order in Council—which is a purely executive act—the application of this measure may hereafter, subject to "any adaptations or modifications specified in the Order," be applied to other countries.

I would add in respect to that matter, that in a later clause of the Bill there is a different kind of provision relating to an Order in Council made under the Bill. If your Lordships will turn to Clause 8 (1), you will see that: Her Majesty may by Order in Council make such provision as she thinks expedient for the purpose of applying to any visiting force … the law relating to the home forces. Then, subsection (4) provides: No recommendation shall be made to Her Majesty in Council to make an Order under this section"— that is, Clause 8— unless a draft thereof has been laid before Parliament and approved by resolution of each House of Parliament. Without presuming to express any final opinion on the matter, I would suggest for consideration the question whether some such limiting and guarding provision might not be proper in relation to an Order in Council which is contemplated in Clause 1. Before passing from Clause 1, I wish to make an observation which occurs to me as I read it. I expect there is a good answer to this point: the draftsmen usually have a good answer. I do not understand why the first words of the clause are: The following sections of this Act shall have effect"— because I have not been able to find any "following section of the Act" which does not apply to Canada, Australia and so on. Therefore I should have thought that "The following sections of" were four wholly superfluous words. That is, of course, a pure technicality.

Then I must join with others in saying a word about Clause 9. It is perfectly true, as the Lord Chancellor said, that it occupies only a small space in the Bill, and it occupied a very small space in his observations, but, having regard to the topic with which it deals, it is difficult to think of anything that is of more importance, because it proposes an enactment with reference to alleged claims made by ordinary citizens against members of visiting forces, and provides a special machinery for dealing with them. I do not for a moment say that some such provision is not necessary. I think that, by the time you work it out, you will find that it will have to be very elaborate indeed. As the Lord Chancellor told us (as I understood him) that such arrangements were already in contemplation and perhaps in draft, I wonder if he would consider, for the better information of the House, whether before the clause is discussed in Committee it would be proper to issue, not, of course, the final Agreement, but at any rate the general nature of the Agreement which is contemplated. I am certain that a large number of important points must arise on it.

May I, therefore, ask the noble and learned Lord to give us a slightly fuller explanation of the clause itself? It begins: The Minister of Defence may make arrangements … I should have thought that, if an Act of Parliament talked about an arrangement being made by somebody, it would be natural to say with whom the arrange-merit was made—for an arrangement certainly involves two parties. A phrase that begins "The Minister of Defence may make arrangements" and leaves everything after that to be inferred, is perhaps a little sketchy. Would it not be well to consider inserting in the clause, when the time comes, words which will show rather more clearly the parties with whom the arrangement is to be made? I presume it must be with the other Governments concerned. The clause goes on to say: …whereby claims … I am not quite clear whether the claims there referred to are all what in our English law we should call claims of tort. Contractual claims are also claims and, when I look at the Agreement in the White Paper, it seems as though it is not limited to claims arising out of tortious acts. If your Lordships have the White Paper before you, you will see at the top of page 9 in Article VIII of the Agreement a paragraph numbered 6, which speaks of: Claims against members of a force or civilian component arising out of tortious acts or omissions … which rather suggests that that is one kind of claim. I think that is confirmed if one turns back to page 7 of the same document, where at the bottom, there is a paragraph numbered 5, which begins: Claims (other than contractual claims …"— and so on— arising out of acts or omissions… It would be helpful to me, and I think it might be helpful to some members of the public, if, at an appropriate moment, the Lord Chancellor would expound the practical working of Clause 9 a little more clearly.

Take, as an example, a case where an ordinary citizen contends that he has been induced to part with his money to some member of a visiting force in circumstances which entitle him to a claim to be paid back. That is not necessarily, of course, a criminal proceeding; it may be a civil proceeding. How will it really work? What will happen in such a case? He will have to make his claim—I suppose it is possible that he might issue a writ—and there is provision as to what is to happen in that case in Clause 9 if the United Kingdom court gives a judgment in his favour. Or again, I suppose it might be a claim which he says is genuine and important, in which he does not issue a writ but, none the less, puts forward his claim. There again, I should be rather glad to have an illustration of how the procedure is going to work. It is not that I am criticising the Bill, except to say that Clause 9, as it stands, has necessarily been dealt with a little summarily, having regard to the great importance of the topic.

I do not know whether the other suggestion made by the noble and learned Earl, Lord Jowitt, is at all likely to receive consideration. I was very much impressed with what he said. As he reminded the House—it happened not so many years ago—we in this country now have an arrangement by which the ordinary citizen who says he has been injured by the reckless driving, say of an Army car, but who cannot identify the driver, may none the less, in case of need, take proceedings in the ordinary courts in the ordinary way against the Crown itself. He is entitled to serve his writ and prove his case, even though he may not be able to identify the driver, if he is able to show that it was an Army car and, perhaps, to give its Army number. It is not to be presumed that Army cars will go careering about the countryside unless they are driven by Army drivers. At any rate, it would certainly be for the defence to prove otherwise.

That is very satisfactory as between us and the British Army authorities. I quite appreciate that it would not necessarily be so easy in the case of visiting forces. If the result of this reckless driving was a smash, and things came to a standstill, I suppose that the British policeman who came up would be entitled to demand the name of the driver. What would happen if the driver refused to give it? I am not clear on that. At the moment I am not quite clear at what point the British policeman (acting, of course, in the interests of British law and order on the roads) would cease to have authority to discharge his ordinary police duties. I appreciate that at some point, if he thought a member of the visiting forces was concerned, it would be a question of a report through his superior officer to the visiting authorities. If I may say so with respect, it would greatly assist the public, and I think probably some other people who claim to be specially instructed in this matter, if at an appropriate time the Lord Chancellor could give us a little more information in regard to the way in which this will work. I have no doubt at all that it has been thought out very carefully, and I am not at all criticising, except to say that I think it is a little difficult to understand at present. That leads me to reinforce my suggestion, that before we discuss Clause 9 in Committee we should see in outline what sort of arrangement is contemplated with a given visiting force.

Lastly, I wish to make this observation—it is a point which often arises in this class of Bill. When an international Convention is agreed, with a large number of signatories, your intention is, of course, that your own law in accordance with that Convention shall apply only if the other signatories act in the same way. It is meant to be an all-round arrangement. One very common way of providing for that is to say in the terms of the Bill that, although the Bill has been passed, it will not come into force until ratification of the Convention has been made by a certain proportion of the total number of signatories. There is nothing of that sort in this Bill. Whilst I am not disputing that it is quite right to have such a Bill, and whilst I do not for a moment question the good faith of all the other signatories to the Convention that they mean to do the same, I feel that there is something to be said for the view that we cannot be expected to enact this law unless the other nations effectively put it into force in their own countries. Whether that is provided for, or whether we are simply relying on their assurances I am not at present quite clear.

My Lords, I have made these observations with not the slightest desire to "crab" the Bill, or to oppose it, but because I think we must all recognise that it is an extremely difficult, important and rather novel kind of Bill. I have no doubt that it is the right kind of measure to take, largely for the reason mentioned just now by the noble Viscount, Lord Bridgeman, that it is the way to get good co-operation with those who are our colleagues in these visiting forces. At the same time, it is our duty to look at it as carefully as we can. I am quite sure that neither the Lord Chancellor nor any one else will resent these inquiries, which are intended not as criticisms but as an application for enlightenment.

4.26 p.m.


My Lords, I am grateful to noble Lords who have spoken for the criticisms which they have made of the Bill. I have no doubt that they will be taken into consideration and will be found very helpful. In regard to the final words of the noble and learned Viscount, Lord Simon, I certainly assure him that I have no objection of any kind to the criticisms that he has made indeed, I regard them as most helpful.

There are just a few comments that I should like to make upon the speeches that have been made. The noble and learned Earl, Lord Jowitt, emphasised the importance of avoiding ambiguity and consequent controversy. With that sentiment, of course, I am wholly in accord. Although he has left the House he was courteous enough to inform me why he had to leave. But I cannot resist saying that the example which he gave of "intolerable ambiguity" really fell to the ground. I agree that it might be a matter of intolerable ambiguity if the phrase "in the course of duty"—a very important phrase in this Act—were left undefined. It was just for that reason that in the Act the authoritative right to say that an act was done "in the course of duty" was left to the single arbitrament of the authority of the visiting force. And his suggestion, when I pointed that out to him, that, after all, the difficulty might still arise because the authority might refuse to give the certificate, was, I thought, really rather shallow. Clearly, the visiting authorities would be bound to say, and as a matter of courtesy and common sense would say, whether an act done by the offender was or was not done "in the course of duty." But I agree with the noble and learned Earl that, so far as possible, all controversy should be avoided.

That leads me to this general observation, which covers what was said by more than one noble Lord. This is an Agreement which was come to as a matter of good will by the contracting parties signatory to the North Atlantic Treaty, and it is implicit in it that, having made such an Agreement, the parties must show the utmost good will and good sense and accommodation in making it work. I can see all sorts of difficulties if parties in several contracting States do not act with good will, candour and good sense towards each other. But we must assume that, just as for many years past the system has worked—I agree a slightly different but still a somewhat similar system—so, with good will, this scheme will work.

The noble and learned Earl, Lord Jowitt, referred to the fact that Clause 1 of the Bill does not provide for an Affirmative, or indeed for even a Negative, Resolution procedure in regard to the Orders in Council which are contemplated in respect of other countries with regard to whom an arrangement for common defence has been made. That is true. But let me say this about it. It is true that the application of the provisions is to be subject to any adaptation or modification specified in the Order. I had not read that as contemplating the possibility of an adaptation or modification which amounted to an extension. We shall certainly give consideration to the suggestion which the noble and learned Earl made. But your Lordships will remember this. What we have to do is to fulfil our obligations under the Convention. Therefore, in any Order that is made we shall have to comply with those obligations. We shall not go beyond, and I hope that we shall not fall short of them. The difficulty is, as I pointed out in my opening speech, in interpreting. As I pointed out, there you have a Convention in the English and French languages which is meant to cover an Agreement which relates to the systems of law—and the different systems of law—of many countries.


My Lords, I apologise for interrupting the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor, but he has said something which I do not quite follow. Do I understand from what he has just said that the need for an Order in Council is in order to apply the Bill to one or other of the Signatories of the North Atlantic Treaty? I should have thought that it was applied without that.


That is so—except, of course, in the case of Canada, which is not only a Signatory of the North Atlantic Treaty but also is specifically mentioned in Clause 1 (1) of the Bill and has already passed relevant legislation.


Surely no Order in Council is needed to apply the Bill to Canada.


No. I am sorry if there is any misunderstanding. Canada is mentioned in Clause 1 (1) of the Bill. Therefore, there is no need to make an Order in Council. It will be necessary to make Orders in Council under subsection (2) in regard to the other Signatory Powers of the North Atlantic Treaty, and it may be necessary or desirable to make an Order in Council in relation to other States of whom it can be predicated that they have made arrangements for common defence to which Her Majesty's Government and the Government of that country are for the time being parties. Subsection (2) clearly covers the North Atlantic Treaty Signatories and it is because it is necessary to provide for other countries with which arrangements of this kind are concluded that it has been inserted in this way. We will, however, consider what has been said by noble Lords in regard to the desirability of the Order being subject either to the Negative or Affirmative Resolution procedure.

The noble Viscount, Lord Bridgeman, was good enough to say that he thought—and I fully agree with him—that the operation of this Bill when it becomes an Act will, of course, depend very largely upon the good relations between the authorities of the visiting forces and the authorities here. I agree with him wholeheartedly. Nothing could be more important than to cultivate, by every means possible, good relations between these parties. I am sure that he, for his part, in that part of the country where he lives, will do his best to that end. There was one point—I think perhaps a rather minor one—to which he referred. He was not fully aware of the provisions of paragraph 8 of Article VIII, which provides—as I say, this is rather a minor matter, but it does deal with the point he had in mind—that, If a dispute arises as to whether a tortious act or omission of a member of a force or civilian component was done in the performance of official duty or as to whether the use of any vehicle of the armed services of a sending State was unauthorised, the question shall be submitted to an arbitrator appointed in accordance with paragraph 2 (b) of this Article, whose decision on this point shall be final and conclusive. That is part of the arrangement which will no doubt be made.

The noble Lord, Lord Nathan, referred to the earlier Acts of 1933 and 1940. I think he made a slip, as one well may, in describing the import of the earlier Acts for, in fact, as I pointed out in opening this matter, it was in 1942 for the first time that an exclusive jurisdiction was given to a visiting Power. The Acts of 1933 and 1940 give only a concurrent jurisdiction, except, of course—and this is where the noble Lord may have been misled—that there may well be cases where a member of a visiting force does something which is an offence against his own law, an offence against discipline, but not an offence against the law of this country. In such a case, of course, the service court of the visiting authority would alone have jurisdiction, because it would be against the law of the visiting country alone that the offence had been committed.


I am very grateful to the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor. I had intended—and indeed I hoped that I had succeeded in so doing—to express myself in the way he now tells me that I should have expressed myself, because that was how I understood the matter.


It is a passing matter. Perhaps I misunderstood the noble Lord—I expect I did. The noble and learned Viscount, Lord Simon, made a number of—if I may say so—very helpful criticisms. One minor one for which I have full sympathy—so far as I can see it is well-grounded, but I will discuss it with the draftsman—is to the effect that the first four words of Clause 1 (1) might usefully be omitted. It may be, as the noble and learned Viscount himself said, that there is a good answer to that. If there is no good answer to his criticism then those four words shall certainly disappear. The noble and learned Viscount also criticised the fact that there is no reference in the Bill to the North Atlantic Treaty, though that Treaty was itself the genesis of the Bill. That is perfectly true, but I do not think it is a very forcible point for, after all, the Bill is intended to cover not only the Signatories to the Treaty but any other Powers who come within similar arrangements.

The noble and learned Viscount said a good deal about Clause 9. The first thing I want to say about Clause 9 is that it does not take away any right at all from anyone. What it does is to provide additional rights. It was for that reason that I did not think it was important to go into the clause in any detail. But I see the force of what the noble and learned Viscount has said, and I will see whether, before the Committee stage of this Bill, we cannot issue something in the nature of a White Paper, or a statement of some kind, which will indicate what are the arrangements which have been made, or are in course of being made, under that clause. Then the noble and learned Viscount has criticised, perhaps justly, the wording of the clause in which it is stated that the Minister of Defence is to make arrangements, and he said that apparently the Minister is to make arrangements "in the air." I should have supposed that the Minister of Defence, when he makes arrangements, makes them with that personal authority which he holds, but with the co-operation which is necessary, so that the subject matter is brought to fruition. No doubt that may be stated more precisely. Again, in regard to claims, I think it is clear from the text that "claims" mean civil claims which can be compensated for by money payments, as distinguished from the offences which are the subject of other parts of the Bill.

With regard to the noble and learned Viscount's final point, whether it is proper to include in this Bill any qualification that it should not be brought into force until other Treaty Powers have indicated their intention, or have carried out their intention, of giving similar privileges to the visiting forces of this country, I should have thought that reliance could be placed upon the fact that, in Clause 19 (2) of the Bill, it is set out that: This Act shall come into operation on such date as Her Majesty may by Order in Council appoint, and different dates may be appointed in relation to different provisions of this Act. I should think it unlikely that Her Majesty by Order in Council will confer any privileges or benefits upon visiting forces of other countries, unless assured by the fact, or by an expression of intention on which reliance can be placed, that reciprocal advantages will be given to this country. I am grateful for the way in which noble Lords have assisted me by their criticisms. All these criticisms will be taken into careful account and an opportunity for their further consideration will be given upon the Committee Stage of this Bill.

On Question, Bill read 2ª, and committed to a Committee of the Whole House.