§ 5.30 p.m.
§ Order of the Day read for the Bill to be considered on Report.
§ Moved, That this Report be now received.—(The Lord Chancellor.)
§ Clause 1:
§ Loitering or soliciting for purposes of prostitution
§ 1.—(1) It shall be an offence for a common prostitute to loiter or solicit in a street or public place for the purpose of prostitution.492
THE MARQUESS OF READING moved, in subsection (1), to leave out "a common prostitute" and insert "any person habitually". The noble Marquess said: My Lords, I have not up to this point taken any part in this particular Bill, and I offer my apologies to the House for intruding at so late a stage. The fact is that, having studied the Bill afresh after it left this House on the Committee stage, I found myself greatly disquieted by the first subsection of Clause 1, and I set myself the task of seeing whether I could devise any Amendment, not because I alone was disquieted by the position but also because I believe that a large number of your Lordships shared my feelings in regard to it. Therefore I have put down for consideration at this late stage of the Bill the Amendment which to-day stands in my name, and which would make Clause 1 (1) read as follows:
It shall be an offence for any person habitually to loiter or solicit in a street or public place for the purpose of prostitution.
On the Committee stage my noble and learned friend Lord Denning and others had down an Amendment to insert the words "any person". The difference—and in my submission to the House it is a very substantial difference—is that in the Amendment which your Lordships are now asked to consider the word "habitually" appears for the first time. I think that that substantially changes the whole aspect.
§ The Amendment that I have put down is designed to deal with two matters, the one of substance, the other perhaps more of form than of substance, though not necessarily for that reason less important. The matter of substance is that, if my Amendment were adopted, the Bill would include, in the expression "any person habitually" loitering or soliciting, male prostitutes as well as female prostitutes. We are told that the main purpose of this Bill is to clean up the streets in this country; and how you clean up the streets if you succeed by this Bill in sweeping at least a majority of the women off them and giving the men prostitutes a free rein in their place, I simply do not begin to understand. It may be that I am somewhat old-fashioned in these matters, but in my view the presence of male prostitutes infesting the streets is a good deal more 493 repellent and a good deal more scandalous than the presence of the females.
§ I think there is this to be said, too; that one might hope that if this Amendment were accepted there would be a real, solid chance of effecting some considerable reduction not only in the number of male prostitutes on the streets, but also in the number of male prostitutes plying their nauseating trade. Because they would not be in the same position as the women, since they could not resort to any sort of adaptation of the call-girl system; nor could they have recourse to the display of advertisements to which the noble Lord, Lord Stonham, called attention on the Committee stage, for the reason that if they attempted to do either of those things they would be immediately involved in the criminal law.
§ When this matter was discussed on a slightly differently phrased Amendment on the Committee stage, we were told that there already existed machinery under the criminal law to deal with this question of male prostitutes. I should be inclined to reply to that assertion two things: first, that there is no great harm in having a second string to your bow, particularly if the first string is proving increasingly ineffectual in its purpose. I have not the temerity to walk about the streets myself at night, but I am told by those more adventurous than myself that it is virtually impossible to walk about any street in the West End of London at night without being accosted by male prostitutes, with all the danger of blackmail that is involved in that sort of encounter. Surely, when we are dealing with this Bill—and there is nothing in the Title of the Bill to make it impossible—we ought to sweep into the net the male prostitutes who at present pollute our streets in no less degree than the females.
§ I may be told that it is difficult to deal with the word "habitual" in regard to the male. On that, I would say two things. I think it is right to say that in the Acts which affect them at present there appear the words "soliciting and importuning", but not the word "loitering"; and therefore, if your Lordships accepted this Amendment, you would have a new offence as regards the male prostitute of habitually loitering 494 as well as soliciting, which I submit would be a not unuseful weapon to have in your hands. You have, I think, in another context in connection with the criminal law as regards male prostitutes, the word "persistently", and I see no more difficulty in proving that a man is habitually soliciting for prostitution than in proving that he is persistently doing so. It seems to me the two are very much on a par. I should not have thought there was any greater difficulty about the police recognising an habitual male prostitute than about their recognising an habitual female prostitute. They have, in fact, their same beats, just as much as the women and the police have their beats. It seems to me that a policeman, seeing a male prostitute obviously loitering for the purpose of prostitution night after night, would be perfectly able to give evidence to a magistrate that that man had been habitually loitering for the purpose of prostitution.
§ My Lords, that is the point of substance, and I have put it as shortly as I can. It has been argued already at great length in the House, but not with the word "habitual" attached. The point of the word "habitual", in its application to both men and women, is that it is designed to remove the danger of some person quite innocently walking up and down a street and being arrested for loitering, and to exclude the case of a woman who, perhaps from sheer financial necessity, may once or twice go on the streets in order to earn a little money but is not properly described as a common prostitute.
§ The second point of this Amendment is the removal from the clause of the words "common prostitute". It might be arguable, I suppose, that "common prostitute," in effect, would apply equally to male and female prostitutes. But in such Statutes as those in which it has already been used, it has always been confined to women; and even if that were arguable I would suggest that it ought to be made quite plain that it did in this case apply to men as well as women. What I dislike in this phrase as it stands at present in this clause, "common prostitute", is that it is thrust so very much into the forefront of the battle.495
§ I think the effect of the Amendment I suggest is really little more than drafting. None the less, I think it is important, because many people might believe that, under the clause as it at present figures in the Bill, being a common prostitute is not one of the allegations which has to be proved if and when a woman is brought up for trial. I know, of course, that this is not so; and I have no doubt that your Lordships know that one of the ingredients of the offence is that she is a common prostitute, and that that has to be proved just as much as the fact that she was loitering or soliciting in the street for the purpose of prostitution. But in the Bill as drafted it looks too much, in my view, as if it is only necessary for a policeman to point a finger at a woman and say, "You are a common prostitute. I am now going to charge you, not with being a common prostitute, but with loitering or soliciting for the purposes of prostitution". If my Amendment were adopted, the position would be quite clear, because he would have to prove that she was habitually loitering or soliciting in the street for the purpose of prostitution.
§ My Amendment does not, so to speak, take the words "common prostitute" and put them right at the beginning, divorced from the rest of the offence. It makes it, I hope, quite clear that there are the four ingredients to the offence: that the woman is loitering, or soliciting, in a street for the purpose of prostitution, and that she is doing it habitually. It then becomes quite clear that that is what has to be proved. The prosecution cannot start off with a mere allegation that the woman is a common prostitute, and then, having made that allegation, prove merely that she has been loitering or soliciting for the purpose of prostitution. I think the word "habitually" excludes—at least, it is designed to obviate—the possibility thaxt a woman who was quite innocently walking up the street might be arrested, under this clause, on suspicion of loitering or soliciting; because that woman the policeman could not prove to be habitually loitering, since he would not have seen her before, except once or, perhaps, twice. But he would know the "old-timer". Those are the people who can, and ought to be, within the four 496 corners of this Bill, and in order that they, together with, in my submission, no less certainly the male prostitute, may be subject to conditions which will at least introduce some greater degree of decency in our streets than exists to-day. I beg to move the Amendment.
Page 1, line 5, leave out ("a common prostitute") and insert ("any person habitually").—(The Marquess of Reading.)
§ 5.44 p.m.
§ LORD BRABAZON OF TARA
My Lords, I rise to support this Amendment. It is a most ingenious one. We have had a debate already on the word "person", but the addition of the word "habitually" seems to have changed the whole situation and will render the reply by the Lord Chancellor a good deal more difficult than it was the other day. I have the highest regard for the Lord Chancellor; I place him very high in affection and among great men, and frankly, I do not like seeing him used as a Home Office hack. You might think that all the wisdom of the ages was vested in the Home Office. That is a very depressing thought! Of course, you can argue the hind leg off a donkey, but at the end the hind leg remains. I must say that the other day the Lord Chancellor's dialectics over the "person versus common prostitute" Amendment was nothing else but a tour de force—it was astounding. But what gave rise to no little surprise did not convince my noble and learned friend, the great lawyer Lord Denning, on my right; nor did it convince many of your Lordships who, I am perfectly certain, as I was, were left in a quagmire of argument such as few of us were able to understand.
I consider that this Bill, which might be called the "Mayfair Benefit Bill", would be considerably improved by this Amendment, because not only does it do away with the objectionable start of the label of "common prostitute" but it includes men. I want to make a different point from that of the noble Marquess about the male prostitute. I am talking about the males who go to pick up prostitutes. I want to refer to them. I think it would do more, because it would encourage them to shift the locality of assembly, which is what this Bill is aiming to do.
497 In a previous debate it was pointed out most conclusively that prostitutes only assemble—this is axiomatic—where there are men; that they do not go there to look at each other but that they go there to meet men. Yet no word has ever been given us about, nor has any blame been attached to, the men who make prostitution so advantageous in Mayfair. Who are they? They are not local people. Where do they come from? Certainly, they come for one purpose only—namely, to pick up these women. If you can discourage them, which I believe this Amendment would do in that they would not be there habitually, it would consequently change the locality and defeat this assembly of prostitutes which, after all, is at the root of the Bill.
I think that in this measure we have an example of sex prejudice. All we are doing is, first of all, to complain of a nuisance, and then we are being exceedingly hard and harsh on one of the sexes, attributing no blame to the other, and hard on a class of women who cannot speak for themselves. We know the Lord Chancellor and we know the Home Secretary. We know them as good, decent, human, kindly people—friends of ours whom we like. I cannot help asking myself repeatedly, when I think of this Bill, who was responsible for this sadistic measure, because it comes from a sadistic mind. There are the elements of the bully in it. The atmosphere of "Holier than thou" pervades it. There is the Pharisaic outlook which I find so deplorable. There is a lack of humanity, a lack of understanding. There is no charity in it, and it is full of intolerance. To me, and I think to others, fundamentally the whole measure smells.
What is a prostitute? One who lets her body out for hire—a dreadful thing. Are we ourselves so innocent? For instance, do not lawyers let out their brains for hire? Are we not all tarred with the same brush in that we prostitute our gifts from God for gain? Is it worse to let out for hire your body, which is of the earth, earthy, than to let out one's brain, which is of the spirit, spiritual? Ethically, I find the latter the more culpable. Yet, all through this measure there is the idea that we are dealing with the untouchables, the despised and rejected, people who are sub-human. This is not so. I think we fail to remember that these girls are not 498 criminals; they are indulging in their profession by virtue of the desires of men, and for no other reason. We who are privileged to be legislators, and who can with such ease impose extra penalties on a defenceless class of women, ought to remember the saying of our Lord when He said:Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these My brethren, ye have done it unto Me.It is all very late now. The measure is almost through, but I will return good for evil and hope that the noble and learned Viscount and the right honourable gentleman the Home Secretary and all who have voted for this measure will not be kept awake at night by their conscience reminding them that they have imposed on a class of our people, whose lot is not, and never has been, a pleasant one, more misery than before. I most earnestly hope that Her Majesty's Government will not be bullied by a Department this time, but will accept this Amendment so admirably put by my noble friend., for if that is done I believe it will take away a good deal of the objection to this Bill and will help to dissipate that congregation of prostitutes, which is what we are trying to do. For we must remember the fundamental truth of the whole situation: no men, no prostitutes.
§ 5.52 p.m.
§ THE LORD CHANCELLOR
My Lords, I was prepared originally to deal with the Amendment put forward by my noble friend Lord Reading. My noble friend Lord Brabazon of Tara has raised again the principle of this Bill, and I must spend some time upon that. I do not think I ought to spend too much, because your Lordships have approved the principle and have ratified your approval by rejecting the Amendment proposed on the Committee stage to have the words "any person."
My noble friend, Lord Brabazon of Tara has re-read his Pickwick Papers and noted the advice there given so succinctly: "Weak case—abuse plaintiff's attorney!" I should like to tell him that I do not at all resent that part of his speech, but I want to make it quite clear that I do not resile from my responsibility for this Bill. I was Home Secretary for three years. During that time I was constantly pressed by decent people 499 who found life impossible in Paddington and other places. There were deputations led by members of both Parties, and by clergymen, consisting of ordinary people. That was a state of things which I did not think it right to leave alone. I did not rush into legislation. I appointed a Committee under Sir James Wolfenden which, so far as the constitution was concerned, commanded general support. That Committee inquired into the problem. It is a problem which had been inquired into before, but I wanted to have an up-to-date inquiry; and this Bill gives legislative form to what that Committee have suggested. If that is sadistic conduct, as my noble friend Lord Brabazon of Tara has said, then everything that I have known and heard of the late Marquis de Sade has been completely wrong.
The position which the noble Lord, Lord Brabazon of Tara, takes up is one by which it is always easy to get some facile popular acclaim—to ignore the ordinary decent, well-behaved person and his troubles, and transmit sympathy and support to those who would not for a moment claim to be attempting to lead an ordinary, reasonable and decent life. I have stated before to your Lordships, and I venture to state again, that the function of the use of compulsion by legislation is to secure and preserve a decent minimum standard for ordinary people. As I have said, that was why the seventh Earl of Shaftesbury, and those who acted with him a hundred years ago, brought in compulsory process in order to keep a minimum standard of safety in our factories and mines. That is why the Government of Mr. Disraeli, followed by Governments of a different kind, introduced a minimum standard of decency in public health and the conditions under which people live. That is what this Bill does. It gets rid of what has been admitted to be a general nuisance, affecting particular neighbourhoods and also the position and reputation of London as a whole. And I ask your Lordships earnestly to consider the origin and the facts before, at this stage, you reject the result of the years of inquiry and work.
My noble friend Lord Reading has brought forward a compromise. As he told us, he had seen the difficulty which 500 was raised by the Amendment to leave out "a common prostitute" and substitute "any person". I want to make clear to your Lordships again that there is no question under the Bill as it stands of the onus on the prosecution—the burden which the police have to carry if they prosecute—being in any way lightened. They have, first, to show that the woman in question is a common prostitute—and I have discussed, and your Lordships have heard, what that connotes: a woman who commonly offers her body for reward. They then have to show that the defendant was either loitering or soliciting; and thirdly, they have to show that she was loitering or soliciting for the purpose of prostitution. But the Bill is aimed at the nuisance created by prostitutes who ply their trade in the street, and I believe your Lordships realised and supported the necessity of identifying the woman who, as a way of life, commonly offers herself in the streets.
The main difficulty of the Amendment of the noble Marquess is a practical one—and I should like him to know that not only I but my right honourable friend the Home Secretary and the Law Officers also have given it full consideration. We have all come to the conclusion that in order to sustain a charge under the language which my noble friend would substitute it would, to the best of our view, be necessary to produce fresh—I repeat, fresh—evidence every time a prostitute was charged that she solicited habitually. If the substitution were made, the habitual element could not be proved even partially by evidence on which a previous conviction had been founded.
The ground for this view would be that as the woman had been convicted and punished—and I ask my noble friend to note the point, because this is what has presented the difficulty to myself and my right honourable and learned friend—she has, on the hypothesis of my noble friend Lord Reading, been convicted of habitually soliciting or loitering and she could thereafter be convicted only in respect of an entirely fresh course of conduct which would constitute a further offence of habitually soliciting or loitering. That would mean the prostitute would have to be kept under observation for whatever period the court thought necessary to establish that a loitering and solicitation was habitual; not merely 501 before her first prosecution but before every subsequent prosecution. As a result, the prostitute would know that after every conviction there would be a "close season", during which she could solicit without being arrested while the police were obtaining evidence of a further course of conduct; and the amount of observation by the police required before an arrest could be made would be greatly increased, and the effectiveness of the enforcement of the law would be correspondingly reduced.
My noble friend made the point about male prostitutes and, my Lords, I hope that not one of your Lordships would suspect that my view in regard to male prostitutes is any less strong or less adverse than that of the noble Marquess. I think those of your Lordships who heard my speech in a debate on that aspect of affairs would be in little doubt as to my view on this point. But there is a difficulty in having both the noble Marquess's suggested provision and the provision to which he referred, Section 32 of the Sexual Offences Act, 1956. With all respect, I do not think that it is usually a good thing to have two competing strings to your bow in your bow at once; I do not think that the arrow proceeds as straightly or as clearly in these circumstances.
§ THE LORD CHANCELLOR
The noble Marquess did, of course, with complete frankness and candour, remind your Lordships that under Section 32 the offence is for a man persistently to solicit or importune in a public place for an immoral purpose. I think the noble Marquess would agree with me that "habitual" and "persistent" do not mean the same thing. Under Section 32 a man commits an offence if he solicits by word or gesture a series of individuals within a relatively short period, such as a single evening. I think that that is what you want to catch in the case of the male prostitute. I think that this is a state of things in which he well deserves to be prosecuted and convicted under Section 32. But habitual solicitation implies soliciting as a habit or way of life over a longer perod, and in these circumstances I should prefer, from the point of view of administering the criminal law, to leave it as it was. 502 Some reference has been made to the customer. As I said when we were discussing this matter before, the customer does not normally solicit or loiter, and even if he did I do not think that it would ever be held that he did it for the purpose of prostitution; because, of course, there is no question of his offering his own body for reward. As to the case of the person who pesters or annoys women, I think that can be dealt with under the various Acts which I have drawn to your Lordships' attention in many cases. For these reasons, while we have considered this Amendment, and are most grateful to the noble Marquess for the time and thought that he has spent upon it, we consider that the objections which I suggest, and which your Lordships approved, to the expression" any person", though to some extent less, would not be overcome by the introduction of the word "habitually"; and as explained, the administration of a provision containing that word would give rise to practical difficulties.
At the end of the day we have to face the situation of this general nuisance which is caused to a very great extent by the large number of female prostitutes. This question has been considered time and again. Every Committee has come to the conclusion that the old provision of annoyance makes the Act a dead letter. That has been said over and over again by independent people examining it. We had to deal with that point, and now we have put before your Lordships a solution which my noble friend Lord Reading says will, in his opinion, have the effect of getting most of the prostitutes off the streets. I know the reluctance of many noble Lords to take any step that means the employment of compulsion. I ask your Lordships to say that to resile now from the course along which we have taken a considerable number of steps would be once again, because of the fear of facing our responsibilities, to condemn our fellow-citizens in London to nuisance and circumstances to which we have no right to condemn them so long as we are in part responsible for the legislation of this country. Therefore, my Lords, with the greatest respect to my noble friend, and indeed—I am sure he believes me—not merely with a forensic or rhetorical gratitude, but with 503 a real gratitude, for his applying his mind to this problem, I ask him not to press the Amendment before the House.
§ 6.9 p.m.
§ LORD SILKIN
My Lords, I speak as one who is in favour of the principle of the Bill and as one who is as anxious as the noble and learned Viscount to remove the nuisance and annoyance that is caused in the streets of our large cities, but I must say that I find the speech of the noble and learned Viscount most unconvincing. I do not think that he dealt at all with the two main objections that exist and which the noble Marquess brought out so clearly to the clause as it stands. The first was that he is assuming, and from the experience of a great many people, assuming wrongly, that the evil is due solely to female prostitution. But there is a great amount of evidence that the nuisance we are dealing with, this infestation of the streets of certain parts of London and the big cities, is caused as much by male prostitutes as female. The Amendment is designed to secure that male prostitutes should be dealt with in the same way as females. The noble and learned Viscount said they were already dealt with under Section 32 of the Sexual Offences Act, 1956. But they are not dealt with in the same way. The noble and learned Viscount made this point on the Committee stage and I then drew attention to the fact that Section 32 did not deal with the offence of loitering. It left out loitering, and loitering is the essence of the whole thing. If one leaves out loitering one is treating male and female prostitutes in different ways.
In order to make the two offences, by male and female, comparable one would have to amend Section 32, and I see no insuperable difficulty. I imagine the noble Marquess would be very willing to have a sort of consequential Amendment in the Bill which would deal with Section 32 of the Sexual Offences Act, so as to ensure that there are not two different types of treatment for the same offence. The second difficulty is that we all find it obnoxious and repugnant to use a term of opprobrium in advance of establishing the guilt of a person. One does not say "that you, being a common receiver of stolen property, have received this stolen property". It introduces straight 504 away a note of prejudice. I accept the fact that when the common prostitute comes before the court it has to be proved that she is a common prostitute. Nevertheless, she starts off with that disability of already having been labelled. It is something over which we all have a certain feeling of repugnance. I am sorry the Government have not felt it necessary to do something to remove this feeling of repugnance that we have about labelling a person before she has been proved guilty of the label.
Finally, the noble and learned Viscount made some play of the fact that it is difficult to prove that the person is an habitual offender. "Habitual" is something that is quite well known in our criminal code. We have to deal with habitual offenders of all sorts. The term is introduced in legislation. I cannot understand the practical difference between a person who habitually loiters and solicits and the common prostitute who habitually plies her trade. I should have thought that one would have to establish the same kind of proof in both cases. The noble and learned Viscount shakes his head, but I think that that is so. In both cases one has to establish a degree of habitualness to establish the guilt of the person. I should have thought that that, in itself, was certainly not a ground for rejecting the Amendment. I hope my noble friends will support the Amendment, because we think it is right and, as has already been said, an ingenious attempt to get over a difficulty which I am sure every noble Lord in this House feels we ought to make every attempt to get over.
§ THE LORD CHANCELLOR
My Lord, I did not use the words, but I must ask your Lordships to face up to the fact that in my considered opinion and in the considered opinion of the Home Secretary and the Law Officers of the Crown, to make this Amendment will wreck the Bill. You must do it on that basis.
§ 6.16 p.m.
§ LORD DOUGLAS OF BARLOCH
My Lords, one substantial point the noble and learned Viscount has made against this Amendment is that it would make it difficult on the occasion of a second offence to provide the necessary proof, unless there had been a series of observations of the offender subsequent 505 to the first offence. That is why he says that this would wreck the Bill and make it impossible to administer. But to state that is to state that, under the Bill as it stands, a woman will be labelled as a common prostitute and that fact will stick to her, and it is on that account that on the second offence it will not be necessary, in effect, to prove it. That is the essential difference between the Bill as it stands and the Amendment which the noble Marquess has moved in what I consider to be a most masterly speech.
Now may I venture to make a suggestion that there is a possibility of making an Amendment which would meet both points of view? Because if I understood correctly what the noble and learned Viscount said, he saw no difficulty if, instead of the word "habitual" there were inserted the word "persistently", which, in fact, is used in certain sections of the Sexual Offences Act. I wonder whether that alteration would not reconcile both points of view and enable this measure to proceed with an accurate definition of the offence.
§ 6.19 p.m.
THE MARQUESS OF READING
My Lords, I put down this Amendment, as I told your Lordships, in the hope that it might resolve a difficulty which I think was obsessing the minds of a good many noble Lords. I hoped it might provide such a solution, and I confess to more than a little disappointment, not on personal grounds but on grounds of public good, that my noble and learned friend on the Woolsack has not found himself able to accept it. I still believe that there is a strong feeling, not only in the House but in the country, that some form of words might still, even at this last moment, be devised which would, at least to a degree, assuage the feeling of discomfort with which so many people are, I think, attacked over this Bill. But, my Lords, my attempt has obviously failed to make any impression upon the Government.
I am not going to speculate upon what the result would be if I asked the view of the House, because—and I have come regretfully to this conclusion—if the noble and learned Viscount the Lord Chancellor assures me that the weight of his opinion, that of the Home Secretary, and that of the Attorney-General, is that to accept this Amendment would make 506 the Bill less effective and would impede the process of law which it is designed to carry out, then I do not feel that I could go further in opposing the Government's view. But I regret that they have found themselves driven to that point of view; and I would still appeal to my noble and learned friend, even at this stage, to look again at the position before we have a Third Reading debate.
§ THE LORD CHANCELLOR
My Lords, may I say to my noble and learned friend, in thanking him for the extremely generous attitude which he has adopted, that of course I will do what he has asked. I will convey to my right honourable friend the Home Secretary not only his first speech, but what I understand to be the sense of his last remarks—that is, that even if we feel that this Amendment will not work, in the view of my noble and learned friend Lord Reading we ought still to look for an improvement. I will certainly do that. I will convey that to my right honourable friend, and I will, of course, personally see him upon it. I will do that with the greatest of pleasure; and I am most indebted to the noble and learned Marquess for the generous way in which he has acted.
§ EARL ATTLEE
My Lords, I have listened to this debate as one who has no special knowledge of the subject but I have listened to it carefully. And I am bound to say that I am wholly unconvinced by what the noble and learned Viscount the Lord Chancellor has said. I do not think he has shown in the slightest degree that this would not work; and I really cannot rest on the ipse dixit of the Attorney General that it will not work. We have other distinguished lawyers in the House here and we have heard their views. It is profoundly unsatisfactory, after listening to the noble Marquess and to the noble Lord, Lord Brabazon of Tara, who made what, to my mind, were most convincing speeches.
§ VISCOUNT SAMUEL
My Lords, I should like very briefly to add my own opinion to what has just been said. I am not speaking now of this particular Amendment. It may be that the word "habitual" is not a suitable word, and that the word in the noble Marquess's Amendment is not a good word in this 507 connection. Nevertheless, I feel most strongly that for Parliament to pass an enactment saying "It shall be an offence for a common prostitute" to do this or that, would be a blot upon our Statute Book. I do not know what the right word is, but I am quite convinced that those are the wrong words. I therefore trust that when the noble and learned Viscount the Lord Chancellor and his colleagues consider the matter afresh, they will do so from that point of view, in order to get rid of those words.
§ THE LORD CHANCELLOR
Do I understand that the noble Marquess wishes leave to withdraw his Amendment?
THE MARQUESS OF READING
My Lords, the position is not that I wish it withdrawn, but that I feel bound to withdraw it. I do so all the more readily, however, in view of the slight encouragement which has come from the noble and learned Viscount on the Woolsack; and I feel that that encouragement may have been stimulated by what has fallen from the noble Earl, Lord Attlee, and the noble Viscount, Lord Samuel. I think the noble and learned Viscount the Lord Chancellor, if I may say so respectfully, will have realised from listening to this debate that it would bring real relief to the minds and consciences of a great many Members of your Lordships' House if, before the next stage of this Bill, he were, with his colleagues, to devise some form of words which would bring us some comfort in our problems.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ 6.25 p.m.
§ THE LORD CHANCELLOR
My Lords, I wonder whether it would be to the convenience of the noble Earl if we dealt with Amendments Nos. 2, 3 and 4 together. That is, of course, only if that course suits his convenience.
§ THE EARL OF SWINTON
I think that is certainly a very convenient course. The Amendments all hang together, and form part of a single proposition. The first Amendment is in subsection (1), after "prostitution" to insert:if that street or public place is or is part of an area which common prostitutes are accustomed to frequent so as to cause a nuisance".508 I would suggest to the House that, in view of what has happened on the last Amendment, and of the unwillingness with which we accepted the considered legal opinion of the noble and learned Viscount the Lord Chancellor and of the Law Officers—and, personally, I entirely agree with my noble friend; I should have felt bound to do the same, because when the noble and learned Viscount pronounces on a matter of law from that place then it really is not a question of policy or politics: he is giving us the considered opinion of all those legal authorities to whom the Government have access—it makes these Amendments that I have put down all the more important. They are designed to give effect to a proposal which was considerably discussed on the last occasion and which I think had a large measure of support, in principle, in the House—and for which, indeed, the noble and learned Viscount himself said he felt sympathy and would consider, as I am sure he has, in a fully sympathetic manner.
On the last occasion the proposal also had the support of the most reverend Primate the Lord Archbishop of Canterbury. He regrets that he is unable to be here to-day, but he has written to me to express his views, and has given me his full authority to communicate them to the House—and I think the House would wish to have them. What his view comes to is this: that if the limited purpose of this Bill—that is, that it deals only with common prostitutes—is to be accepted, then there should be a definition of the nuisance or offence created. The most reverend Primate therefore thinks that the Amendments which I have put on the Paper agree well with the limited purpose of the Bill, and that if that limited purpose is to be accepted, the Amendments will be very helpful.
I think we should all agree that it is desirable to have the Bill in a form which commands the largest measure of support. There is general agreement on the problem and on the need to solve it; there is general agreement that it is the congregation of prostitutes in particular places which causes the scandal and public, nuisance; and there is general agreement that that has got to be stopped. I think we also all agree that 509 it ought not to be necessary for any individual person to prove individual annoyance. In that, we are all in agreement, think, with the Macmillan Committee originally, and the Wolfenden Committee later. But probably most of us would agree, particularly when we come to create new criminal offences and new penalties, that we ought not to go beyond what is necessary. The punishment should fit the crime, but we should not punish where there is no crime.
Now what is the crime here? We have been told repeatedly that this is not a Bill to enforce morality; that it is not a Bill to penalise fornication; that it is not a Bill to suppress prostitution. It is a Bill with one object, and that is to abate a nuisance and to ensure decent behaviour in public places. My Lords, I submit that that is exactly what my Amendments would do. These Amendments would make it a criminal offence to loiter or solicit in any public place in respect of which a local authority declares that prostitutes are a nuisance; and it makes such a declaration by a local authority conclusive evidence. But the Bill as it is drafted makes every prostitute who loiters or solicits in any public place a criminal. Surely, that is going too far.
I would ask the noble and learned Viscount this: do you intend to prosecute every prostitute? I am sure you do not. Well, if not, presumably the Home Secretary or the local police authorities will give administrative directions to the police that they should prosecute only where the numbers or conduct of prostitutes create a scandal or a nuisance. If that is so, why not put it in the Bill? It could be done in as wide language as is administratively necessary. It certainly need not be proved, and I am not asking that it should be, that a particular nuisance is being committed at the time a prostitute is arrested or that she herself added or contributed to the nuisance. I give the local authority full power to declare that any place is a nuisance area and I submit that in this form the Bill would do what is intended, and do that without widening the criminal scope of the Bill unnecessarily.
It has been said that the proposal I am making is open to the criticism that if the concept of nuisance is imported 510 into the Bill, it would be necessary to prove that the woman charged was herself committing a nuisance. But the whole basis of the Bill is that any prostitute anywhere in any public place is a self-evident nuisance. I do not think that the noble and learned Viscount the Lord Chancellor would challenge that. But he admits that he does not seek to make prostitution by itself a crime. Yet his Bill does, in fact, make every prostitute in a public place a criminal. On what ground? Not because she is a prostitute but because she is committing a nuisance. In short, the noble and learned Viscount lays down by law that every prostitute in a public place is a nuisance, without any proof at all. I propose that she should be held to be a nuisance in places where the local authority declare that prostitutes are a nuisance, and I say that that proposition is more reasonable and fairer and more in line with the purpose of the Bill.
Then it is said that if there are areas where the nuisance is prevented because they are declared nuisance areas, prostitutes will congregate and create a nuisance elsewhere, and that these areas will have to be declared nuisance areas, too; or that, alternatively, a local authority may declare the whole of its area a nuisance area. As a matter of fact, if it did, the women would be no worse off than they are under the Bill. But I believe that both local authorities and prostitutes would be more circumspect. I think that the Home Secretary has already told us that in more than one area the nuisance has already been abated, or largely reduced, in anticipation of the Bill. If that is so, then it is an answer to the last criticism and a justification of my Amendments. It is sometimes wise to proceed by trial and error, and not least when we are creating new criminal offences. Certainly it is always wise to legislate by general consent, if that is possible. I would venture to suggest to your Lordships' House that the proposals I have put upon the Marshalled List satisfy both those desirable objects. I beg to move.
Page 1, line 7, after ("prostitution") insert ("if that street or public place is or is part of an area which common prostitutes are accustomed to frequent so as to cause a nuisance").—(The Earl of Swinton.)
§ 6.35 p.m.
§ THE LORD CHANCELLOR
My Lords, for forty years now I have admired the ingenuity and ability of my noble friend Lord Swinton, and I certainly admire immensely the ingenuity which he has shown in this series of Amendments. I would ask your Lordships to believe that there is nothing more distasteful for a Minister of the Crown, even if he occupies my position, than to put again and again the legal difficulties which in my view exist. I know exactly how your Lordships must be feeling about what I have to do, and I would ask your Lordships to bear with me, because the one thing we all desire to do is to put on the Statute Book legislation which will be workable and will deal with the mischief on which we are legislating.
My noble friend's Amendments would have this effect: first, of providing that a local authority could declare any street or public place within its area an area which common prostitutes are accustomed to frequent so as to cause a nuisance; and secondly, of providing that any common prostitute loitering or soliciting for the purpose of prostitution in such an area could be charged with an offence under subsection (1), whether or not it could be proved that she was actually contributing to the nuisance. If the noble Lord will allow me to say so, I was impressed by the approach of the noble Lord, Lord Grantchester, in the Amendments which he put down on the Committee stage, because they dealt with the gravamen of the difficulty—that is, the fact that, as we all agree, it is a nuisance for ordinary people.
But as the noble Lord, and also my noble friend Lord Swinton, will remember, I was brought up against the problem that, while it is good law that it is enough if you can prove a nuisance and that someone is contributing to that nuisance, there might be some difficulty in proving a nuisance. That is the point my noble friend has sought to meet. I am in this difficulty, however, especially after the opinion which your Lordships have expressed this afternoon. The clause deals with a criminal offence, and if the concept of nuisance is to be imported into the Bill it is extremely difficult, having regard to the ordinary principles of criminal liability, to provide that the offence is committed even if the 512 woman does not contribute to the nuisance. That is the difficulty with which we are faced, and my noble friend knows of it.
If the express qualification of nuisance were imported in this way, as I said to the noble Lord, Lord Grantchester, then the existence of a nuisance, and the fact that the woman was causing or contributing to it, would have to be proved as an ingredient of the offence; and it would not be enough, I think, to prove that by calling a police officer or an officer of the local authority. It would be necessary to show that, at least at the time in question, a number of prostitutes, including the accused, were soliciting for the purpose of prostitution in that area and were thereby causing a nuisance. For the reasons I have stated, it would be extremely difficult to prove that fact.
Therefore we are in this dilemma—and I am afraid that we have not got to the solution now: that either we are going to say that someone is a criminal, on the grounds of nuisance, when she has not contributed to the nuisance, or we are in the old difficulty, which I put to the noble Lord, Lord Grantchester, of proving the general nuisance. I think there are two difficulties which this collection of Amendments raises—and I do not use the word "collection" in any derogatory sense; I mean the whole scheme which my noble friend has put forward—because the means by which my noble friend seeks to relate the individual prostitute's activities to the existence of a general nuisance is that a street is to be deemed to be the area which common prostitutes are accustomed to frequent so as to cause the nuisance if the local authority declares it to be so. My noble friend has not said (I do not hold this against him, but it is a problem) on what evidence the local authority is to declare the area to be such an area. I think one gets into this further difficulty: that no local authority is likely to say that an area has ceased to be an area where prostitutes congregate, because that would immediately send the prostitutes into that area. I think that must be so. Therefore what would be likely to happen would be that the local authority would extend the area to the whole of the local authority's area, at any rate in Central London. The result would be that it 513 would all become a prohibited area, and we should be back in the same position as we are in under the Bill, except that there would be the other point: that soliciting would be an offence without proof that a particular woman caused or contributed to a nuisance.
The other difficulty I find is this. My noble friend has assumed that one prostitute could not herself become a nuisance. I wonder whether that is so from the practical point of view. I admit at once that the nuisance is more obvious, and more scandalous, where there is a congregation of prostitutes, as there is in many streets in the West End and elsewhere. But nuisance may not depend on there being many prostitutes. In some streets the persistent presence of one prostitute would be offensive and injurious. I think I gave two examples on the last occasion. One was where there was a small, quiet, residential street which one prostitute adopted as her walk, and as the place where she could he picked up and gone home with; and the other was where her pitch was outside a school. In the first of those cases, the residents of a respectable residential area would be scandalised if the prostitute adopted it as her pitch; and in the other case parents of the children at school would be scandalised. I should have thought that the public are entitled to protection against that form of scandal, just as the others. Again I find difficulty in seeing as a practical matter why, if a woman secures a whole street to herself, she is to be safe. It is not the law at the moment that a prostitute operating by herself commits no offence, and I do not think that it should be so. It is an essential element in dealing with general nuisance, and I think that that power has to be retained.
My noble friend knows that I have considered this matter most carefully, because he was good enough to ask me about it. I saw my right honourable friend the Home Secretary about it again to-day, and, as my noble friend knows, he had considered it before. We have really tried to approach this with unclouded minds. I know, as I said at the beginning of my speech, that it sounds as if I am just raising difficulties, but I assure my noble friend that I am not. All the difficulties I have raised to-night, I am afraid rather imperfectly, have been carefully considered. If my right 514 honourable friend could have met my noble friend Lord Swinton he would have been glad to do it, but he is advised that, both from the legal point of view and the point of view of police administration, this proposal would not work. Therefore, while I will gladly have another look at this question if my noble friend thinks I have failed to appreciate any point, I hope he will not press the Amendment to-day.
§ 6.46 p.m.
§ LORD GRANTCHESTER
My Lords, I should like to thank the noble and learned Viscount the Lord Chancellor for the consideration he has given to the suggestion that I made on the Committee stage. I felt rather depressed when he told me that he was unable to find a way, and if he could not do so I did not presume to try to find words which could be discussed this afternoon. But I still feel disturbed, as I am sure many of your Lordships are, that this point has not been dealt with, in the same way as we have been disturbed over the point raised in the Amendment moved by the noble Marquess, Lord Reading. The impression I get is that it is going to be a little more difficult if we introduce these points into the Bill. If it is going to be more difficult to prove that a crime has been committed, perhaps we would rather accept that than accept the provisions of this Bill as they stand. I would plead with the noble and learned Viscount to give this matter equal consideration with that raised by the noble Marquess, Lord Reading, and see whether we cannot yet find an agreed solution. It seems to be a great pity that we should have the Church of England Moral Welfare Council and the National Council of Women opposed to the Bill on a matter which is not a Party matter at all and on which we, as sensible people, should be able to reach agreement.
§ THE EARL OF SWINTON
My Lords, I feel, as I think the whole House must, that we are in a difficult position. I am quite sure that the noble and learned Viscount the Lord Chancellor and the Home Secretary have given this matter most careful consideration. I am sure that they would do that, because they said they would, and also because I have no doubt at all that if something like either the Amendment of my noble 515 friend Lord Reading or the Amendments which I have introduced could be incorporated into the Bill it would be a much more popular Bill. I believe the Lord Chancellor entirely agrees with that. On a matter which has no Party politics in it at all, where we are all agreed that there is a problem to be met and one that must be met, it is extraordinarily unsatisfactory if the great majority of us feel uncomfortable as to the way in which that problem has been met.
I must accept, if the Lord Chancellor says it is so, that the Amendments I have put down would be so administratively difficult as really to prejudice the solution of the problem that we all wish to see solved. I do not think the Lord Chancellor is contending that to put into the Bill my provision that the local authority could declare a nuisance area, and that any prostitute soliciting within that area would be guilty of an offence, is an impossible or an impracticable thing to do. He maintains, as I understand it, that it would be contrary to an ideal concept of the criminal law that a nuisance ought to be proved against that particular woman, and that the local authority and/or the police—I think both—would have to prove to the court, not merely by their ipse dixit (though I must say I think they are the best people to judge) that the area is a nuisance area.
I am bound to say that I feel it rather difficult to accept that as a sort of moral principle of the criminal law. If we were merely creating a new offence—that to be a nuisance as a prostitute was a criminal offence—I would accept that. But what are we in fact doing? Under the Bill as it stands, no nuisance has to be proved against any prostitute anywhere, and any prostitute anywhere, once she has been warned twice, is guilty of a criminal offence if she solicits or loiters for prostitution in any place, although we should all admit that she was not annoying anybody or being a nuisance at all. Honestly, between the two concepts—the concept I have put to the House that the local authority can say that certain areas are nuisance areas, and the concept the Lord Chancellor has put into the Bill that every prostitute per se is a nuisance—I must say I think my concept is less repugnant, I hesitate to say to law, when 516 arguing with the Lord Chancellor, but certainly I would have said to humanity and to common sense.
It is really very tiresome. This is not intended to be a moral Bill. We have been told that over and over again. This is a Bill to deal with a nuisance. That is the word which has been used over and over again. It has been said over and over again that that nuisance is the congregation of prostitutes in particular places. The Lord Chancellor now says—and I would not dissent from him—that one prostitute in exceptional circumstances may be a nuisance. All right, then, provide for that. But what you are putting in the Bill is that every prostitute anywhere is a nuisance, and you can convict her without any proof at all. I must say that I think that is a most unsatisfactory way of dealing with the nuisance of congregation or, if you please, the nuisance of a single prostitute in peculiar circumstances in a particular place. Not only to call them all common prostitutes, but to make them all criminals because they are common prostitutes, is really a most extraordinarily unfortunate way of dealing with this problem which we want to solve.
I will not press this Amendment to a Division now if the House will allow me to withdraw it. I am quite sure that what both my noble friend Lord Reading and I have said to the House to-day has commanded a great amount of sympathy in the House, and I think the Lord Chancellor and the noble Earl the Leader of the House will realise that. I hope that they will have a good look at this matter and see whether they cannot get this Bill, even at this late stage, into a form which will make the punishment fit the crime, will solve the problem and, at the same time, will satisfy the sentiment and, indeed, the conscience of this House and, I believe, of the whole country.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ 6.56 p.m.
LORD PETHICK-LAWRENCE moved to add to the Clause:
Provided that where the only charge proved against a person is that he is living on the immoral earnings of one woman this section shall not apply.
§ The noble Lord said: My Lords, your Lordships will remember that during the Committee stage of this Bill I raised a 517 question dealing with the substance of the Amendment I am proposing to-day. The noble and learned Viscount was good enough to express considerable sympathy with the object of my Amendment, but I think he used the words—I should not like to misquote him—that it is difficult to separate the wheat from the chaff. By that I think he meant that while it was perfectly right to punish very severely persons who were guilty of major offences, the man who lived on the immoral earnings of one woman and was not otherwise objectionable ought not to have that larger penalty hanging over his head. He went so far as to say that he thought in general that he would not come into the larger penalty, but that he would be brought up only on a charge in a magistrates' court for the maximum penalty, which would be very much less.
§ The Lord Chancellor said that he would think over a form of words. In effect, he invited me to think over a form of words which would enable us to distinguish between these two types of people. I suggested—and I think my noble friend behind me suggested at the same time—something which applied merely to living on the earnings of one woman. The Lord Chancellor promised to consider that. But he said that a man might be living on the earnings of one woman and yet be a brute and a bully. He might be guilty of very serious offences in that direction. It is with the intention of meeting that point which the Lord Chancellor made that I put down my Amendment in the precise form in which it stands on the Order Paper: that where the only offence that is proved against a person is that of living on the earnings of one woman, he should not be liable to the larger penalties which it is proposed in Clause 4 to introduce. Therefore I do not think I need elaborate the matter any further. But I should like to put forward that view, and I hope the Lord Chancellor will be able, if he cannot accept my Amendment or the Amendment of my noble friend which follows, to do something himself to make this distinction. I beg to move.
Page 4, line 14, at end insert the said proviso.—(Lord Pethick-Lawrence.)
§ 6.59 p.m.
My Lords, I think it might be for the convenience of the House and save time if I spoke to my noble friend's Amendment and dealt at the same time with the Amendment in my name. At this late hour I will not elaborate on what I said on the Committee stage. I hope that some of your Lordships will have read the documents which I then mentioned—the book The Women of the Streets and the extremely interesting article in the magazine Encounter. If they have, cannot help thinking that many of them may have come, as I did, to a rather unexpected conclusion. I had never previously considered the position of the ponce or the pimp in society, and it was definitely, I may say, a surprise to find that research workers among prostitutes had found that the ponce was in many cases—indeed I gather in most cases—the most stable element in the unstable life of the prostitute. Therefore I have put down this Amendment, which, if I may say so, I prefer to that of my noble friend.
On the Committee stage the noble and learned Viscount the Lord Chancellor treated this point with the seriousness which I think it deserves, and also with the charming consideration which he always shows for propositions put up to him in your Lordships" House. I suggested then that perhaps it might be possible to differentiate between the man who lived on the immoral earnings of one woman only and those who live on the immoral earnings of more than one. For in the first case, as I said at that time, it might well be that the man was practically the woman's husband; whereas when he was exploiting more than one woman it would be an obvious conclusion that he was encouraging her way of life and, indeed, possibly forcing her to it for his own profit.
For that reason, because it seemed to me impossible to be sure that even a man living on one woman's immoral earnings was not responsible for her way of life and was not for his own profit driving her to that way of life, I have put down my Amendment to-day, with the provision that where a man is accused of living on the immoral earnings of only one womanit shall be necessary, for the prosecution to succeed, to show that he has constrained her to an immoral way of life.519 It seemed to me that in my noble friend's Amendment that possibility was lost sight of, and that anyone living on the immoral earnings of one woman only would slip through the net in which we should certainly all desire to catch the man who was exploiting a woman in this particular way.
§ LORD PETHICK-LAWRENCE
He would not slip through the net; he would not be liable to the more severe penalties proposed in Clause 4. He does not slip through the net. He is still liable to come under the old section, but would not be liable to the more severe penalties.
I thank my noble friend very much for that explanation. I had thought that all the pains and penalties would cease to be operative in the case of such a person. I accept the noble Lord's assurance that he would come under the law as it now exists. I read it otherwise. The noble and learned Viscount the Lord Chancellor, will, I know, between the Committee stage and Report stage have considered the matter with the seriousness that he always gives to all our proposals and without, I know, any of the prejudice which is bound to attach to this particular form of human activity, and I therefore look forward with interest and with some hope to what he has to say in reply to this Amendment.
§ THE LORD CHANCELLOR
May I first of all explain the difficulty of the Amendment of the noble Lord, Lord Faringdon, which really drew the intervention of the noble Lord, Lord Pethick-Lawrence. The Amendment says:Provided always that where the accused is charged with living on the immoral earnings of one woman only it shall be necessary, for the prosecution to succeed"—I repeat—"for the prosecution to succeed"—to show that he has constrained her to an immoral way of lifeI do not know whether the noble Lord intended to do it, but what he has done is to give the man a complete defence unless it can be shown that he forced the lady to be a prostitute.
§ THE LORD CHANCELLOR
I think the noble Lord, Lord Pethick-Lawrence, is really considering the less radical point, that we should make such a man subject only to the old lesser penalties and not subject him to the new larger penalties.
I have found a great difficulty with regard to this matter. I should like to say what it is. Perhaps if I may give a case which I think illustrates the difficulty of attempting to draw a distinction of this kind—that is, the recent case of Atillio Messina. Whatever may have been thought about Messina, he was in fact convicted of living on the earnings of one prostitute who was named—there is no point in repeating the name here. He had been living on her earnings for more than ten years during which time she claimed to have brought him over £40,000. If the clause were amended as the noble Lord, Lord Pethick-Lawrence, suggests, and if that were the only offence on which Messina had been convicted, he would be liable to the lesser penalty. But that is very different from the case the noble Lord, Lord Pethick-Lawrence, had in mind. He had in mind the case—which attracted my sympathy, and still does—where you find a man, often a poor specimen, and unhealthy, who does very little, if any, work, and his wife goes out as a prostitute and thereby keeps him. Such a case, of course, is poles apart from a case like Messina's case, where the one woman in question has been providing him with an income of £4,000 a year for ten years.
That is the first difficulty. The second difficulty, of course, is the one which the noble Lord, Lord Faringdon, with, if he will allow me to say so, all the candour one would expect, had in mind. The noble Lord, Lord Faringdon, is absolutely desirous, as I understand his point of view, of making the bully suffer. I do not think he is directing his mind to the exact penalty, but what Lord Faring-don had in mind was that where you have a bully who has constrained and forced a woman to act as a prostitute, then a stiff penalty is a good social provision for him. That is the other case that is still not subject to the differentiation of the Amendment moved by the noble Lord, Lord Pethick-Lawrence. You might still have a man living on the immoral earnings of only one woman, 521 but it might be a case like the Messina case, where he is working the woman to the extent of very large sums. Or you might have the other case which the noble Lord, Lord Faringdon, had in mind, that of the bully (I use the phrase in its technical sense) who drives and constrains his wife to prostitution. For either of these offences I confess that I should be very glad to see that the man was in risk of seven years' penal servitude.
The other point at the other end of the scale which I do not think I can have made sufficiently clear is that although the maximum penalty is increased to seven years, that is the maxim um penalty. The courts are not required to impose it; they can impose one which fits the circumstances of the case. But the noble Lord, Lord Pethick-Lawrence, has this fear—and penologically it is one that I fully appreciate. He says that if you put forward this high penalty then you are automatically making the court lift the sights of its gun. I think the answer to that is that in the type of case which he has in mind—namely, of the poor specimen whose wife or mistress goes out to prostitution to keep him, and there is only one woman—it is almost inevitable that the police would bring the charge under the provision for a summary offence; that is, they would bring the charge in the magistrates' court. In that case, the maximum penalty which could be imposed on him would be six months.
I have considered this matter, and so has the Home Secretary and our advisers at the Home Office, and we really do not think that the case which has rightly, if I may say so, touched the heart of Lord Pethick-Lawrence—that is, the case of the poor specimen whose wife really wants to help him in this immoral way—presents any practical danger to him of ever being brought into a court where the seven years' penalty will apply. But the difficulty of the Messina or the bully is too much for us to accept the Amendment. I am sorry. I will have another look at it, because I always like to meet the noble Lord, Lord Puthick-Lawrence. I am afraid that I cannot, for these reasons, meet him to-day.
§ LORD PETHICK-LAWRENCE
My Lords, I do not propose to press this Amendment to a Division. I do not think that the Lord Chancellor has quite met my point of view. I was not thinking solely of the man who was a weakling and whose wife went out to keep him; I was thinking of the man who, in the words of my noble friend, was a husband who stayed at home and she earned money in this way. But the point was that if a man commits this offence it is quite right, within the law, that if he is guilty he should pay the penalty. It is probable that he will, as the noble and learned Viscount says, be brought up on a summary charge and convicted, and will not receive a severe penalty. But I would regard him as at risk in regard to the imposition of a much larger penalty under the clause as it now stands, and the penalty might rise higher if we get many cases such as the Messina case, which the noble and learned Viscount quoted. I cannot help thinking that, if necessary, something more might have to be found against the man. I did not specify merely that it was only one woman, but that he had committed no other offence; and I thought possibly that in such a case some other offence might have to be found to have been committed.
§ THE LORD CHANCELLOR
Might I say that I have differentiated in regard to the Messina case because the police managed to prove that in that case he constrained the girl to prostitution. But I took it as an example of the case where you could not prove the second fact. I do not want to mislead the noble Lord for a moment. He is quite right.
§ LORD PETHICK-LAWRENCE
I think the Lord Chancellor has got my point. I still think that it would be better to have some differentiation. I have tried my hand, and apparently the noble and learned Viscount has tried his, and we have not succeeded. I have not very much hope that if he tries again he will find a solution, but if he does, I shall be much obliged. In any case, I do not press the Amendment. I beg leave to withdraw it.
§ Amendment, by leave withdrawn.523
§ 7.15 p.m.
LORD FARINGDON had given Notice of his intention to move to insert the following proviso at the end of Clause 4:
Provided always that where the accused is charged with living on the immoral earnings of one woman only it shall be necessary, for the prosecution to succeed, to show that he has constrained her to an immoral way of life.
The noble Lord said: My Lords, I do not intend to press my Amendment, but, if I may say so with the greatest respect, I think that the noble and learned Viscount the Lord Chancellor was a little less than fair in quoting the Messina case. If my Amendment had been the law of the land at that time, I suggest that the police could have shown—as they in fact did—that he had constrained the woman. Moreover, I do not think that in that case the police could have been put too much difficulty to find other women who had equally been constrained by Messina. Therefore, I think it was perhaps a little less than fair to give the example of that case. I am sorry that he cannot see his way to accepting this Amendment. It is a difficult subject and one which I think might well have been left out of the Bill, which is designed to deal with a nuisance of an entirely different kind. In any case, I do not intend to press my Amendment.