§ 4.4 p.m.
§ Debate on Second Reading resumed.
§ BARONESS WOOTTON OF ABINGER
My Lords, I must confess that this afternoon I feel, rather surprisingly, a little like one of the defendants in the affiliation cases with which this Bill is concerned, because my name seems to have got on the list of speakers by some unfortunate accident which I should be the first to disown. But I have given some little thought from time to time to this question, and I hope that your Lordships will bear with me if I make just one or two points about this Bill in a rather hastily considered way.
I must say at the outset that I am much disturbed not to find myself in the wholehearted agreement that I normally expect with the noble Lords, Lord Amulree and Lord Merthyr. But I have some doubts, and particularly about the nature of the evidence on which proceedings under this Bill will rely. I do not for a moment dispute—I certainly am not in a position to dispute it—all that has been said about the technical aspects of this matter, or about the convincing nature of the disproof in scientific terms, except in the very rare case of a possible mutation. But this evidence is, by its very nature, of a kind which cannot be brought home convincingly to an ordinary layman in court. Many of these laymen and lay women are not very learned persons, and certainly not scientifically literate persons. To some extent, therefore, to the ordinary layman it savours of magic.
1100 The blood test which is envisaged here is in a quite different category from the routine blood test which, as the noble Lord, Lord Merthyr has said, is conducted in cases of pregnancy. If the routine blood test shows pregnancy, nature will, in the course of the succeeding months, confirm this prediction. If the blood tests exclude a possible father it is quite impossible that this should ever be confirmed later by evidence which is comprehensible to the ordinary layman. It is true that to some extent and in a number of cases the courts do rely on technical evidence, or moderately technical evidence; but nearly always I think the layman can get a little nearer to the facts than something which is done in a laboratory and of which he would have no understanding, even if he could see the process.
In fingerprint cases, for instance, photographs are at least produced in court, and a lay jury in criminal proceedings can persuade themselves that they can compare the two prints which are produced in the course of evidence. But this is something in a quite different category; and, after all, although the scientific evidence may be conclusive, mistakes are sometimes made. Tests are done by human beings, and samples have been known to be mixed. While one may accept tests of that kind where subsequent events will prove the answer right or wrong—as, for example, in the diagnosis of a disease or of pregnancy—in this case subsequent events can never produce additional evidence. I think that we are not yet sufficiently scientifically advanced to justify asking, indeed to compel, people to accept evidence of this character. I know that these affiliation cases are exceptionally difficult and often exceptionally distressing, and that probably they are not infrequently the source of some injustice. But if we are going to alter the law here, I would wish that we had altered it in a rather different and much more radical way.
Let us be realistic. It is frequently a matter rather of good fortune than of good management whether a man is or is not the father of the child of a particular woman. I think that one of the Scandinavian countries (I am sorry that, in the shortness of time, I have not confirmed which) deals with this matter in a radical and, in many respects, I think, a 1101 just way. They do not ask whether in fact the man is the father of the child they ask whether his relationship with the woman is such that he could have been the father of the child—that is to say, there has been connection between them in the relevant period. If the court is satisfied that that is so, then all the men who might have been the father of this particular child are required to contribute to its support pro rata. If we are going to modify the law, that seems to me—I hope it commends itself to your Lordships as well as to the noble Lady and myself—to be a more just and considerably more radical measure. I would ask your Lordships to consider very carefully before you accept a compulsory blood test of a character in which a mistake can be made but cannot be disproved, and which is of such a nature that the persons most intimately concerned are quite incapable of judging whether or not the answer is correct.
§ 4.10 p.m.
§ LORD TAYLOR
My Lords, I have the greatest sympathy with my noble friend Lady Summerskill in her approach to this Bill. I only wish that the advance of science had taken a slightly different direction from that in which it has gone and that science had devised a test which would have enabled us accurately to identify a father of a child. Unfortunately, things have not happened like this. The knowledge about heredity which has come about has arisen out of very elaborate and detailed studies based primarily on the need for efficient blood transfusion; and there were many early tragedies when blood transfusion was first started. Gradually, exact knowledge was accumulated about sera and the reactions of red cells to sera and, almost by chance, the odd information was collected which made it possible to say something about the parents in relation to the child.
That was almost accidental, and certainly it was not the purpose of scientific investigation to produce this information. But, that information having been produced, I think—and I hope your Lordships will think—that it is right that this information should be made available to the law in order that the law can be a little more exact in what it seeks to do. I myself would agree with my noble friend Lady Wootton of Abinger that the proper way to deal with this point might well be to share responsibility among 1102 all the potential fathers of a child. I think that would be a much more just thing to do. That is not what our law does, however; and under the present law there are, every year, perhaps 55 to 60 miscarriages of justice because these blood tests are not applied. The result of those miscarriages of justice is that a man who is not the father of a child has to pay. He may or may not have had intercourse with the woman, as he has been accused of doing; but some other man may be the father of that child.
These blood tests enable detection of the fact that he is not the father: that is all. That can be detected, not with absolute certainty but with a high degree of certainty. There is great difficulty when we are dealing with absolute truth and absolute certainty, because no human being or human activity is completely infallible and, in science we are mainly concerned with the degree of error in any particular test or observation. I had intended to speak entirely on the technical side of these tests, but since other points have been raised I have briefly put that point in relation to the tests. The validity of the tests is very high, as medical tests go. The margin of error is of the order, as my noble friend Lord Amulree has said, of one in 20,000 times that is the degree of likelihood of the test being a failure.
I do not propose to weary your Lordships with the very beautiful and exact work that scientists have done in order to try to pick out the sources of these errors. As my noble Lord has said, over 60,000 mothers and babies were tested in Copenhagen before the single one was found showing a mutation or abnormality in the tests. Here we are dealing with only a few hundred cases a year, so it might be that an error would occur, due to the test, once in every ten or twenty years. That is the order of error. We are fairly sure that at the moment the order of error is about 50 to 60 per year. Surely it is worth getting that degree of certainty into the law in order that injustice may not he done to those men. No injustice or justice will be done to the woman. All this Bill does is to ensure that injustice shall not be done to men who are not the fathers of these children.
My noble friend Lady Wootton of Abinger spoke about routine tests in 1103 pregnancy. Those are not tests for pregnancy. It is vary rare indeed that blood tests are made to see whether a woman is pregnant. If it desired to establish that, the urine is used; but every expectant mother now has blood tests, first in order to discover if she is anæmic; secondly to make sure that she is not suffering from syphilis, and, thirdly, to make sure that her blood group is not likely to give rise to rhesus trouble, through jaundice, in the baby. These are all highly complicated, highly technical, matters which could be explained to her only with very great difficulty—even more complicated, if I may say so, than the matter dealt with in this Bill. Therefore, with great respect to my noble friend, I do not think that that particular part of her argument was valid, although I agree with her that a radical reform might be desirable.
My noble friend Lord Amulree gave a very accurate, in fact, perfect, disposition of the technical side of the Bill, and I do not propose to repeat it, I agree with every word he said. I have done my best to check the information with the best authorities on this subject in the country, and I am certain that my noble friend has told your Lordships precisely what they would tell you. I have tried to indicate to your Lordships the margin of error. It is substantially less than when this Bill was first introduced some years ago, because a number of rare abnormalities which could cause error have been discovered in the interval; and though these very scarce mutations may occur occasionally, they are less important than the human errors which might occur in the doing of any medical tests; and in any scientific or medical test there is the possibility of human errors, which I think are even more important. Human errors can and do occur in hospitals. There are small risks which have to be taken. But, even so, I would expect that it could be said that this would give us results which would be accurate 9,999 times out of 10,000—which would not be at all bad from the legal point of view. I hope your Lordships will support the Bill.
§ THE EARL OF LONGFORD
My Lords, may I ask the noble Lord a 1104 question? Who are these gentlemen who are suffering at present? They are gentlemen who have lived with the woman but are not, in all cases, the father—is that the position?
§ LORD TAYLOR
My Lords, by no means. It may well happen that the noble Lord, Lord Merthyr, would be the proper person (because he has had far greater experience of magistrates' courts than I have) to answer my noble friend's question. In paternity cases the woman may accuse anybody of being the father, but presumably she will have evidence. Sometimes she is what might be called a "loose" woman and she will pick the wealthiest of her paramours and go for him—for obvious reasons. I believe that that is the kind of situation which may occur but I should prefer the noble Lord, Lord Merthyr, to answer my noble friend's question.
My Lords, will the House permit me to try to answer the noble Earl's question? The noble Lord, Lord Amulree, mentioned one doctor who had dealt with 600 blood tests. In a little under 20 per cent. of those 600 cases it was proved that the man had been wrongly accused of being the father of the child. That is the answer to the question. Those are the men whom this Bill will help.
§ THE EARL OF LONGFORD
My Lords, I am so sorry to intervene again, but that, I am afraid, did not answer my question. I was assuming that these gentlemen in some cases had not been the fathers of the children. But I was saying: Have they, in fact, been what the noble Lord called paramours? They are not, in other words, innocent gentry—not like Members of this House.
§ 4.21 p.m.
§ LORD CONESFORD
My Lords, I rise briefly to support the noble Lord, Lord Amulree, and trust that the House will give a Second Reading to this Bill. I very much welcome the speech of the noble Lord, Lord Taylor. For my part, I speak in medical matters as a completely ignorant person, but I have no hesitation in accepting what has been told me by the noble Lord, Lord Amulree, and the noble Lord, Lord Taylor; that is to say, that the blood test can show, beyond all reasonable 1105 doubt, in certain cases that the man cannot be father of the child in question.
My Lords, in contrast, I think, to those who nave already spoken, I have myself as a barrister had direct experience of appearing in bastardy summonses; and I can remember very vividly, even at this distance of time, the circumstances of one case where I appeared for the unmarried mother, and another case where I appeared for the putative father. In both cases I believed that justice was done. I hope that my belief was not based on the fact that in both those particular cases I was successful for my client.
But, my Lords, I agree profoundly with what was said by the noble Lord, Lord Merthyr, and with what was said in an important speech in this House many years ago by the noble Lord, Lord Atkin: that there is no class of case before the courts in which perjury is more common or more nearly universal. Anything that can give the courts more certainty seems to me to be desirable. I could not follow the noble Baroness, Lady Summerskill, when she seemed to think that it showed a lack of sympathy with the unmarried mother if you wished her to be unsuccessful in her application against a man who was not the father of her child. Whatever my sympathy with the unmarried mother, I do not wish her to triumph by inflicting an injustice. It is, I think, justice that is at stake. Therefore, I hold very strongly that this Bill should receive a Second Reading.
That does not mean that some of the clauses as they stand strike me as unquestionably right. They do not. I think that, if this Bill receives a Second Reading, there are matters which, with the aid of the Government Department that will advise us, we must most carefully consider with a view to improving the Bill. It has been assumed in some quarters that, if the evidence shows that the man cannot be the father of the child, the certificate will be conclusive. I see nothing in the Bill that so provides; but I may be wrong—and I do not say it is wrong that it should not be conclusive. But I agree entirely with the noble Lord, Lord Taylor, that information which is so relevant in certain cases should be available to the court. That is the ground on which I support the Bill. It can only avail, as my noble friend Lord Merthyr said, to protect the 1106 man who cannot have been the father of the child in question. If the test does not prove that, it cannot be given in evidence at all.
The risk of personation has been mentioned. The Bill endeavours to provide against that; and we shall have to consider whether or not the provision is sufficient and will necessarily be successful. But whatever improvements may have to be made to the Bill in Committee, I think it deserves a Second Reading in the interests of justice.
§ 4.26 p.m.
My Lords, I do not intervene in this debate for more than a moment, but the noble Earl, Lord Longford, has asked a question and I think I can provide an answer. I remember a case being reported, between the wars, which took place in East Anglia, where a man had been sent to prison 19 times for refusing to pay maintenance orders, made by the magistrates, and it was afterwards proved that he had had nothing at all to do with the woman ever. I have never succeeded in getting what would have interested me enormously: the terms of the apology that was tendered to him.
THE DUKE OF ATHOLL
My Lords, could we be told why this Bill should not apply to Scotland? I cannot believe that this problem never arises in Scotland.
THE DUKE OF ATHOLL
We have already been told that there is a suitable place for the test to be taken in Glasgow. So perhaps the noble Lord, Lord Amulree, who, after all, is a Scottish Peer, could tell us why he has excluded his own country from this particular piece of legislation.
§ 4.28 p.m.
THE JOINT PARLIAMENTARY UNDER-SECRETARY OF STATE FOR THE HOME DEPARTMENT (EARL BATHURST)
My Lords, as always when experts propound upon an expert and technical matter, sides are immediately perspicable in your Lordships' House; and the expert evidence of the noble Lord, Lord Amulree, clashed immediately with that of another of his profession on the opposite side of the House to mine, the noble Baroness, Lady Summerskill, who, as we know, is a 1107 skilled doctor. And her opinions clashed with those of her noble friend Lord Taylor. I think that what we have seen as a result of this debate is that, on the one hand, there is the certainty (as the noble Lord, Lord Amulree, and the noble Lord, Lord Taylor, especially pointed out) that there are some few cases of men who may be wronged at law, yet should this Bill be passed by your Lordships there would be a definite proof by testing of blood that would save them from being wronged at law, and it would prove them not to be the father of the child. That is the limited provision on the one side.
On the other side, there are the complications of administration about which I must say a little. There is a certain loss of freedom, to which the noble Ladies, Lady Summerskill and Lady Wootton of Abinger, referred. That case can be argued, I think, as we heard this afternoon. Then without doubt there will be many drafting points, to which the noble Lord, Lord Conesford, referred, in order to be sure that this Bill is watertight. And I need not tell your Lordships that time in this Parliament is running short for such very drastic redrafting that might be necessary, as I think the noble Lord, Lord Amulree, will agree.
My Lords, tribute has been paid to my noble friend Lord Merthyr, who is Chairman of Committees of this House. In fact, I was most impressed by the special tribute that the noble Lord, Lord Taylor, paid to him, in suggesting that he would be the best person to explain a point in this Bill to the noble Earl, Lord Longford. Did the noble Earl wish to interrupt?
§ THE EARL OF LONGFORD
I am sorry; I wish that I were in a position to interrupt the noble Earl, but my attention distracted itself from him.
We were reminded that the noble Lord, Lord Merthyr, introduced his Bill in 1939, and that the war stopped the later process of its becoming law. Now since those days the science of blood testing has made great advances, as the noble Lord, Lord Taylor, and others of your Lordships, have told us, and the rudiments of this knowledge are becoming diffused among the population. The basic prin- 1108 ciples underlying this Bill are very much the same as they were twenty years ago, and it is to them that I will turn in a moment or two.
The noble Lord, Lord Amulree, and the noble Lord, Lord Taylor, described the principles of the division of the blood groups, of the testing and of the transmission of the genes to a child according to the laws of the Mendelian theory. I will not go over any of those points again, but it is quite true, as the noble Lord, Lord Amulree, said, that in some cases—though not in all—where a man is wrongly alleged to be a child's father, tests of his blood and that of the mother and the child will show that he could not be the father of that child—that is, where the test shows that his blood characteristics are incompatible with those of the child.
In other cases—for example, where the blood characteristics of the mother, the true father and the alleged father are all similar—the tests will be inconclusive, showing merely that the alleged father, along with many other people who have similar blood characteristics or a similar blood group, could have been the father. And these are the people to whom the noble Baroness, Lady Wootton of Abinger, referred, I think, in one of the Scandinavian countries. I do not know whether it would be possible to find all the people to whom the noble Lady referred. Now, of course, this blood testing, as envisaged in the noble Lord's Bill, does not help that in any way at all.
I think I can safely say that these scientific principles and the deductions drawn from them command general acceptance. In some cases, such information would be of very great assistance to the courts, as my noble friend Lord Merthyr has most graphically described to us. He told us some of the difficulties which confront magistrates in such cases—comparable, even, with the difficulties of deciding whether or not a poacher of trout (or was it salmon?) was telling the truth.
Those of your Lordships who sit in magistrates' courts from time to time adjudicating in these proceedings will agree, I am sure, that this is a field where the Court is sometimes confronted with the conflicting testimony of the two parties, with little or no independent means of assessing their reliability. That is the problem that the noble Lord seeks 1109 to solve. What has to be considered is whether the assistance which might be rendered to the courts justifies the elaborate machinery which would have to be set up. At present, parties in affiliation proceedings may, by mutual agreement, arrange for blood tests to be carried out, and the results may be put before the court as evidence in such form as the court will accept, but—and this is where the Bill comes in—no one has the right to demand a test, and the court has no power to order a test.
While, in the Explanatory Memorandum to his Bill, the noble Lord, Lord Amulree, says that blood tests are being employed in affiliation cases in this country with increasing frequency, such information as the Home Office has suggests that in fact such tests are rarely carried out; and the reasons for this, venture to suggest, are not difficult to see. As we have heard to-day, as matters stand, a woman cannot be obliged to submit herself to a blood test, and any woman who takes advice will be told that a blood test cannot in any circumstances help her case. But that is not to say that it will damage her case. And I think the noble Baroness, Lady Summer-skill, will agree that to say that it will damage the woman's case is very different from saying that it will not help her case. This Bill helps only the men: in no way can it help the women.
Moreover, the part that blood tests can play in these cases is still not too widely known, as I have indicated, and as, indeed, the noble Lord, Lord Taylor, indicated. The number of doctors and other people who are ready and able to carry them out is small, and the costs of the tests must be met by the parties, who are generally poor people. The purpose of the Bill, as I see it, is to remove those difficulties, and I know that that is what the noble Lord, Lord Amulree, and the noble Lord, Lord Merthyr, set out to do. But your Lordships should be in no doubt, in weighing the advantages of this Bill, that its effect, if it becomes law, will be strictly limited; and the noble Baroness, Lady Summerskill, made that point.
My Lords, rather less than 5,000 applications for affiliation orders are made each year, and rather more than 4,000 orders are made. I think the noble Lord, 1110 Lord Amulree, gave some fairly complicated figures, and those are the ones to which I am referring.
§ LORD AMULREE
May I interrupt the noble Lord? Those are exactly the figures which I gave, except that I gave the full four figures. Rather than saying 5,000, I said 4,996.
I thank the noble Lord. I want to emphasise the point which he made, and to make it quite clear to your Lordships that only a small number of cases are involved, and that we cannot get any really accurate estimate of what the number is. Certainly some of the 4,000 orders that are made are made in contested cases, and some of the 1,000 unsuccessful applications fail for reasons other than that the defendant successfully contests the case. For instance, a woman may withdraw her case, there being insufficient evidence, or it may be settled out of court.
However, it is estimated that about one-fifth of the cases are, in fact, contested. The proportion of these cases in which the defendant is innocent cannot be estimated, but it is probably small. I believe the noble Lord, Lord Taylor, thought there would probably be fifty. Again we cannot estimate the proportion of cases in which the courts now come to a wrong decision, with resulting injustice to the man. In about half of this unknown but, I believe, very small number of cases (as I say, the noble Lord, Lord Taylor., thought that there would be about 50 cases) where paternity has been falsely alleged against a man, blood tests might be expected to prove his innocence and so avoid the risk of a wrongful finding of paternity. Now I do not suggest that this is an argument against the noble Lord's Bill, and there is force in the argument that any procedure which would save even a few men from a wrongful adjudication of paternity would be welcome. There is no doubt about that, and that has been expressed on both sides of your Lordships' House. But what I am saying is that the limited scope of what the Bill would achieve should not be forgotten when we are considering its provisions, some of which have their complications; and there is also the question of the expense that it would entail.
I should like to say a little more about some of these provisions. First, it must 1111 be accepted that it is, to an extent, an infringement of individual liberties to enable an alleged father to oblige a woman seeking an order against him to submit herself and her child to an operation, an operation which, though trifling and virtually free from risk and danger, she may find frightening or distasteful. Whilst I do not like that word operation "I must use it, because this is, in fact, an operation; and I do not want to give the impression that blood-testing can be done haphazardly or inexpertly. But I think I must take up this point against the noble Baroness, Lady Summerskill. Really, it is a small matter of a little injection into the arm and the withdrawal of the blood. It cannot really be worthy of the term "operation"; and it would be very wrong if any woman thought that, by being submitted to a blood test, she was going to undergo a full-scale operation. I do want to correct that idea, which I think people outside your Lordships' House might have gained from what the noble Lady said.
§ BARONESS SUMMERSKILL
My Lords, I did not mention the word "operation". That was the noble Lord's word, not mine.
My Lords, I know the word "operation" was not used by the noble Lady; but her emotional description of the process of blood-testing would make it seem that an operation was involved. I do not think that is fair to the noble Lord's Bill; nor would it be fair to public opinion.
Your Lordships will observe that if the mother refuses to submit to the tests, the consequence is the dismissal of her application, however good her case against the man. I do not suggest to your Lordships that this consideration should weigh too heavily against the noble Lord's Bill's advantages, but it is one that your Lordships must consider. The Bill places no restriction on the right to demand a test, although the noble Lord has suggested a possible Amendment. The noble Lord, Lord Merthyr, also gave examples of how a frivolous case might be brought, yet he thought that in fact, by the court's giving payment against the frivolous case, this possibility would not be too serious. It is a point which will have to be borne in mind, however. It is difficult to 1112 form an estimate of the number of men—for it would always be the man—who might exercise their right to demand a test. The only guide is the rough estimate, as I mentioned earlier, of the applications which are at present contested—one-fifth of the total, or nearly 1,000 a year.
Since the test can exonerate a man but cannot inculpate him, the only deterrent would be the cost, which is the cost of taking the blood samples. The noble Lord, Lord Amulree, said that it might be ten or twelve guineas. I am not sure that I agree entirely with the noble Lord's ingenious plea about the saving of money on prison sentences for fathers who would not be paying maintenance. I am not sure whether that plea would stand up in print, but I take note of the noble Lord's ingenious idea. I think it is only realistic to suppose that a large amount of the costs would be bound to fall on some public fund or other.
Most of the tests will achieve nothing that would not otherwise be achieved. For while some tests will exclude paternity, it will never be known in how many such cases the court would have found the paternity proved had it not been for the test. My Lords, that is a complicated point, and I sympathise with the noble Lady. I see she shakes her head, but I hope she will read those words in Hansard tomorrow. The gist of the matter really, my Lords, is that had the test not been taken the court might easily have found, or there would have been a good chance of the court's finding, the correct paternity in the case. We can never tell how many of the cases this blood testing will in fact solve, against Lord Taylor's guess (shall we say?) of 50.
I should also like briefly to refer to the administrative arrangements which would be necessary under the Bill. They are, for the most part, left to be prescribed by rules to be made by my noble and learned friend who sits on the Woolsack. I think the proposed Blood Tests Board may be rather a cumbersome edifice for this purpose, as the noble Lord, Lord Amulree, suggested. I do not know whether the noble Lord has any idea about salaries, contracts, and so forth, of such people. Nevertheless, it is quite clear—and I am sure my noble and learned friend would be the first to 1113 agree with me—that it would be a considerable task, and my noble and learned friend who sits on the Woolsack would need expert advice.
Procedures for taking samples for their speedy transmission to a testing centre, and for the avoidance of impersonation and error, would also have to be devised. The noble Lord, Lord Merthyr, and the noble Baroness, Lady Summerskill, both mentioned difficulties under those headings. Centres and staff to carry out the tests must be found. Here I would say that the tests, if they are to be prescribed by Statute, will need to be thorough and reliable, and are thus likely to need expert staff and suitable conditions under which they can be carried out. They may, indeed, differ from the sort of facilities which are available in the centres which the noble Lord mentioned. It may be that those centres would be able to carry out such tests, but that is a point which would need considerable consultation between the departments concerned and those centres, and I could not say any more about that particular point at this stage.
Her Majesty's Government are not entirely happy about all the provisions in the noble Lord's Bill, as I have endeavoured to point out to your Lordships. We should wish to give it very careful thought, and to consult a number of persons and bodies interested in the provisions of this Bill, if the Bill received a Second Reading and came before a Committee of your Lordships' House. Whatever comes of the Bill, we have had—and I know your Lordships will agree—a most interesting and expert debate by experts, except for myself, on both sides of your Lordships' House. I can only ask your Lordships to weigh up the matters that you have heard and to take notice of the problems to which I have brought your Lordships' attention. I leave it to your Lordships to decide whether the Bill shall be read a second time.
§ 3.49 p.m.
§ LORD AMULREE
My Lords, the first thing I should like to do is to thank noble Lords who have spoken on this Bill. Some have spoken not very kindly about it; some have spoken very kindly, but it certainly has made for extremely good debate. I think we are all now a great deal clearer in our minds than we were before the debate started. There 1114 are one or two points to which I should, very briefly, like to refer. The first matter is one of the matters raised by the noble Baroness, Lady Summerskill, about what I called a "conscience clause", where the mother would be able to object if she had proper feelings of objection. As I mentioned in my first speech, that is a point which I thought should be considered between now and the Committee stage, and if some reasonable Amendment were drafted along those lines, I should be prepared to accept it.
It has been suggested that the certificate could be used before the court, even if it gave a negative result, because one wants to get the full benefit of the test. I shall be pleased to consider some Amendment of this sort before the Committee stage if one can be put forward. I do not think that I said that the Bill would cut down the prison population, but that it "might conceivably" cut down the prison population.
§ LORD AMULREE
Another point raised by the noble Baroness, Lady Summerskill, was whether protection against fraud and conspiracy was good enough. Again, I agree that this has to be made as foolproof as humanly possible. I think that the penalty imposed in the Bill is not big enough. This is a matter which could be considered, and I am prepared to move an Amendment strengthening this in due course.
I am grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Taylor, for the kind things he said about the Bill and for the way in which he explained several points, which I had not gone into, so clearly and fully that he made the Bill far more simple to your Lordships. The noble Duke, the Duke of Atholl, put a difficult question to me. He asked why the Bill did not apply to Scotland. The answer is that I really do not know, but I think that the reason was that when we were drafting the Bill we, felt that there was no one expert enough in questions of Scottish law to venture to make the Bill applicable to Scotland as well as to England. But I am sure that if the Bill becomes law here, it will be possible for a similar Bill to be introduced by the noble Duke to make the same provisions apply to Scotland.
1115 Lastly, I would mention that the expenses of the Board would not be great. As I explained in my first speech, they will be merely to pay the travelling expenses to members. There is no contemplation of salaries or a secretariat or anything like that, so that the cost of this measure, if it comes ninto force, would be the cost of test, the medical cost and
§ Resolved in the affirmative. Bill read 2a accordingly, and committed to a Committee of the Whole House.