HL Deb 23 July 1964 vol 260 cc813-22

3.31 p.m.

Order of the Day read for the Report of the Amendment to be received.


My Lords, I beg to move that this Report be now received.

Moved, That the Report be now received.—(Lord Derwent.)


My Lords, I am astonished that the noble Lord should get up and simply move that the Report should now be received, without dealing with the manuscript Amendment with which he said on Monday he would deal. It is rather astonishing that this has happened, and also discourteous. He will recall that when we were dealing with this Bill in Committee I said that I was considering submitting a manuscript Amendment. I was anxious to know how the Government felt about it, and said that I would not press it on that occasion but would submit it to the noble Lord first. The noble Lord read out my Amendment and said that as he had had only a short time to examine it, he could not reject it or approve it there and then but would certainly consider the matter. I have waited during the last two days, expecting to hear from the noble Lord, but I said to myself "The Report stage is coming up and surely the noble Lord will say something about the Amendment which he undertook to consider"—incidentally, an Amendment of a very important nature. But the noble Lord to-day stands up and in a few seconds expects to get the Report stage agreed without even mentioning the Amendment at all. I feel that I have a grievance on this matter. I should like to put to your Lordships the purpose of the Amendment, and I feel that I shall have the agreement of both sides of the House.

We have been discussing a little Bill called the Refreshment Houses Bill which proposes to prohibit the use of touts outside these establishments. Originally, when the Bill first came to this House touts used between the hours of ten o'clock at night and five in the morning were to be prohibited, but an Amendment was passed in this House two or three days ago aimed at prohibiting the employment of touts outside refreshment houses even at two o'clock in the afternoon. I am reminding your Lordships of this in order that you should realise that the Government have appreciated that touting is bad and should be prohibited. However, I was advised by the police that if they suspected a man of touting, watched him and went up and challenged him, the tout could get away with it as he need not furnish his own name and address after being requested to do so by a policeman, and, indeed need not furnish the address of the refreshment house for which he is touting. Therefore I thought that if this Bill is to be effective, if we are to put some "teeth" into it and if it is to be enforceable, we must give the police the power to extract the name and address of the tout or the name of the refreshment house involved.

The noble Lord said, in answer to this suggestion, that the local authority had a list of the refreshment houses, but the case was put to him that in a long street in Soho there might be two or three of these houses with only one tout and that it would be impossible to know to which of the houses the tout was attached. Secondly, if the man refuses to give the policeman his name and address or the name of the establishment the police cannot arrest him and detain him, so he simply is allowed to go. In the light of this I drafted a manuscript Amendment which would have obliged the tout to give the policeman his name and address and the name of the establishment. I submitted it to the noble Lord and asked him for his advice, and asked whether the Government thought that this would strengthen the Bill. The noble Lord on Committee stage said that the time had been rather short, and he would consider it and decide what to do, and he went away with the Amendment. But this afternoon the noble Lord gets up without any mention of this important Amendment, an Amendment which, in my opinion, is absolutely essential if the Bill is going to be enforced. He has not even mentioned it, and is prepared simply to move the Motion, That the Report be now received.


My Lords, when the noble Baroness has been in the House a little longer, and perhaps knows that our customs here are sometimes rather different, she will probably do the same as I did and ask what is the usual procedure in these cases when in Committee stage a Minister has undertaken to look into a point. I am advised that it is customary in your Lordships' House for the person who is asking the question to put down an Amendment on Report stage; or, if the Member concerned does not wish to put down an Amendment but wants further information, then on the Question, That the Report be now received, which is put by the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor, the Member seeking the information gets up and speaks, as the noble Baroness has done, but usually without a lecture. I have indeed gone into this point, and I am ready to answer the noble Baroness, for I expected her to ask these things to-day after what we said last time.

The main offence created by subsection (2) of Clause 1 of the Bill is that of seeking custom for a known refreshment house, in respect of which seeking custom by personal solicitation is prohibited. If there is no evidence, whether based on the actions of the person to whom the touting was addressed or not, which indicates one particular refreshment house, then no offence can be said to have been committed. The manuscript Amendment which the noble Baroness tabled in draft on Committee stage entails two propositions which I think I shall have to consider separately. It is first suggested that there is an obligation on the tout to give her own name and address (I say "her" own, because these touts are usually girls); and the second is an obligation to give the name of her employer.

As to the obligation to give her own name and address, in general it is not an offence to refuse to give one's name and address to a constable. It is not unknown, of course, for a Statute to make it an offence to do so—I am thinking in particular of the Road Traffic Act, where one is dealing with a rather different sort of person. But touts are far more likely, if challenged, to have recourse to lying rather than to dignified silence. I have consulted the police about this, and they say that the problem is not really one of refusal to give a name and address, but rather of the giving of a name and address which, if not entirely fictitious, is probably very transitory in character. The real way to deal with this particular problem which the noble Baroness has raised, and which has been dealt with in certain Statutes, is for Parliament, if it thinks fit, to confer a power of arrest without warrant. But such powers are, rightly, very jealously guarded by Parliament and we do not think that the power of arrest without warrant in this case would be justified.

Then the second part of the noble Lady's Amendment said that the tout must give her employer's name. I explained during the last stage of the Bill that, once an establishment is identified—and I repeat that under the Bill unless it is identified there is no offence by the establishment—there is no difficulty in prosecuting, because under the Bill it is quite clear that lists have to be kept and the owner is traceable. It is hoped that under this Bill prosecutions will be against employers and premises, rather than against individual touts, because, after all, touts can be changed.

The suggestion that the noble Baroness put forward in Committee was that, unless the tout could be compelled to identify the establishment she was working for, it would not be possible to be sure whether an offence was being committed at all; or if all the available establishments were licensed and prohibited from touting, one could not be sure which one of them should be prosecuted. My Lords, I do not think one can accept an Amendment on those grounds. It is a well-established principle in this country and in many other countries that a person should not be compelled to convict himself out of his own mouth; and it would seem quite wrong, at any rate in the case of a summary offence, that he or she should be required to convict anyone else either. Until it can be proved in a court of law that someone is touting for a particular establishment which is subject to the prohibitions of the Bill, it cannot be said that an offence has been committed at all. Until that stage has been reached we think it would be wrong for the police or anyone else to be invested with special powers in this particular matter. I hope that, in view of what I have said in explaining the position, the noble Baroness is satisfied.

3.44 p.m.


My Lords, I do not know what the noble Baroness thinks about it, but I must say, with regard to references to Ministers on matters of this kind, that we have usually had—I must pay a compliment to noble Lords on the Front Bench opposite—very great courtesy exercised in giving advice when advice has been asked for. Here was a case in which my noble friend Baroness Summerskill had been definitely approached and the matter explained to her by the Police Federation. A great deal of trouble has been created by Press reports and other reports of what people are saying about the police, asking why nothing is done about this, that and the other, and when the Police Federation feels strongly about something it is at least a matter for grave consideration.

I do not understand the position now of the noble Lord, Lord Derwent, on two points. First of all, I should have thought he could have exercised the usual courtesy we get, and which I greatly acknowledge, from Ministers on the other side, that when we ask them privately about a matter like this they telephone us or write to us and say what they really think. Secondly, having apparently done the other side of his homework and got all the facts as the Home Office see them on the point which has been raised by my noble friend, the noble Lord gets up this afternoon and moves, That the Report be received. He has the whole brief in his hand and has not even the courtesy to say that the noble Baroness has approached him. He has the brief and the answer on the point.

In the present circumstances I do not think that the House is really in a fit state to receive the Report. If we had had the usual piece of courtesy of being given the advice that was asked for, and the noble Baroness had been informed, she would at once have made a decision, in consultation with her friends, as to whether the Amendment went on the Marshalled List. If that had been done the Amendment would have been in the possession of the House, for noble Lords to consider for themselves how they would look at any decision which was announced by the Government. Therefore, my point of view at the present time is that we are not in a proper position to receive the Report.

3.47 p.m.


My Lords, may I support my noble friend in this matter? I think the noble Lord will agree that it was only on Monday that we took the Committee stage, and there is a postal strike and many other difficulties. This is not a Party matter. We made a serious effort on Committee stage to improve this Bill; and in one respect we have improved it by the Government's accepting the Amendment of my noble friend. We are now trying to make sure that the Bill can be enforced to deal with certain black spots in London and perhaps in other towns.

Where an authority feel that a refreshment house is not being conducted properly, they are able, under the Bill, to withdraw the licence. One of the reasons for which they can withdraw a licence is that a refreshment house has been guilty of touting. I think the noble Lord was quite correct in saying that what has to be seen, when we are examining the position of the tout, is the tout's connection with a particular refreshment house. I am quite sure that at some time or other, in his youth or in his later age, the noble Lord has been around Soho, even if it was only to go to one of the better restaurants. He will know that there are many of these establishments within a limited number of streets, and there are quite a number of refreshment houses of this type in one street. If there is a tout who is obviously touting for business it will be seen that he is accosting people in the street. Perhaps at the present time it would be lawful for him to tout; he would be soliciting or canvassing for business. But this Bill says that it shall not be lawful for that person now to do that.

If a policeman sees a person soliciting or touting he will obviously see it as a fact. The policeman approaches the individual and says, "I have reason to believe that you are infringing the Refreshment Houses Act. Whom are you working for?" As I see it, to-day the man can say, "I will not tell you." The policeman asks, "Can I have your name and address?", and receives the reply, "I will not tell you." The only way by which the policeman could find any evidence, I presume, would be for him to shadow the man back to his employer, but that is not likely to be done unless some plain clothes policemen were put on to the job. But one of the objects of this Bill is to reduce the amount of police work.

Whether the Amendment of my noble friend fully meets the point, and whether it would need to be amended slightly to cover some of the difficulties that the noble Lord has mentioned in his statement this afternoon—and I appreciate the difficulty of time and the fact that we have only one further week—I do not know, but I should have thought it would not be unreasonable, in view of the importance of the Bill and the real desire on this side of the House to improve it, for the Report stage to be put off till Monday. There would then be an opportunity for both sides to consider what could be done to meet this point. If the Government were to respond in that way, I am quite sure that my noble friends would be willing to expedite the Bill through its remaining stages next week so that it could receive the Royal Assent. We want as much as the Government to see this Bill on the Statute Book, and we will help if they will respond to that plea.

3.49 p.m.


My Lords, I wonder if I may ask my noble friend whether he can explain how the policeman would know that the tout was touting for somebody to go into a refreshment house, unless he could hear him speak or knew that he was a tout because there were refreshment houses in that street? My difficulty is that if the policeman sees what he thinks may be a tout speaking to somebody in that street, how can he prove that he is touting for custom for a refreshment house? I think the noble Lady said last time that there might be three refreshment houses in a row and therefore the policeman would not know for which of the three the man was touting. But would that very much matter? I cannot see how the policeman is to be sure that the individual is touting, unless he can hear him touting and asking someone to patronise a particular place.


My Lords, I am sorry if anyone thinks I have been discourteous. I knew that I was going to have to answer this to-day. As I have already said, there were two ways of doing this. I thought the noble Baroness would put down an Amendment. If I had thought I could meet her, I should have put down an Amendment myself. As she had not put down an Amendment, I naturally thought that she was not going to raise it. With the greatest respect to the noble Lord, Lord Shepherd, I do not think that it is worth taking this matter back for reconsideration, because the short answer is that under most Statutes it is not an offence to refuse to give a name and address. It is not an offence at all—and here we are asking for it to be made an offence—unless you give a power of arrest without warrant in respect of a secondary person, because it is the establishment which is the principal offender. We have been into this matter very carefully, and we do not think—and I am afraid we are not likely to alter our minds—that this is a case which ought to be made an exception.

My noble friend Lady Horsbrugh asked how one could prove this offence unless a policeman overheard. There are ways, and one of them, I am advised, is that if you see a woman stopping two or three men and they then all go into one particular establishment, you know she is touting for that establishment. That really is the position. I am sorry, but I do not think it is worth taking this matter back. I think what is proposed is trying to make this sort of touting, although an offence, too grave an offence, and we really must not give exceptional powers to the police in what is a comparatively minor matter in so far as the tout is concerned. There is the further point that I have already mentioned, that under the Bill it is not

Resolved in the affirmative, and Report received accordingly.

Then, Standing Order No. 41 having been suspended (pursuant to the Resolu-

an offence unless you can prove the touting for a particular refreshment house. That, of course, was the point of the noble Baroness's suggestion; but we think it would be going too far to give these very exceptional powers to the police in this comparatively minor matter.

3.53 p.m.

On Question, Whether the Report shall be now received?

Their Lordships divided: Contents, 72; Not-Contents, 36.

Abinger, L. Devonshire, D. Long, V.
Ailwyn, L. Dilhorne, L. (L. Chancellor.) Luke, L.
Albemarle, E. Ebbisham, L. Margesson, V.
Alexander of Tunis, E. Effingham, E. Merrivale, L.
Allerton, L. Ellenborough, L. Meston, L.
Alport, L. Elliot of Harwood, B. Milverton, L.
Arbuthnott, V. Falkland, V. Molson, L.
Auckland, L. Ferrers, E. Monsell, V.
Balerno, L. Ferrier, L. Montagu of Beaulieu, L.
Barnby, L. Forster of Harraby, L. Montgomery of Alamein, V.
Bossom, L. Fortescue, E. St. Aldwyn, E. [Teller.]
Boston, L. Fraser of North Cape, L. St. Oswald, L.
Brain, L. Gage, V. Sandwich, E.
Brecon, L. Glasgow, E. Selkirk, E.
Bridgeman, V. Goschen, V. [Teller.] Sinclair of Cleeve, L.
Carrington, L. Grantchester, L. Somers, L.
Chesham, L. Harvey of Tasburgh, L. Soulbury, V.
Conesford, L. Hawke, L. Strang, L.
Cowley, E. Horsbrugh, B. Stuart of Findhorn, V.
Crathorne, L. Iddesleigh, E. Swinton, E.
Daventry, V. Ilford, L. Thurlow, L.
De La Warr, E. Killearn, L. Tweedsmuir, L.
Denham, L. Lambert, V. Twining, L.
Derwent, L. Lansdowne, M. Wakefield of Kendal, L.
Addison, V. Hobson, L. Shackleton, L.
Airedale, L. Huntingdon, E. Shepherd, L.
Alexander of Hillsborough, E. Kinnoull, E. Silkin, L.
Attlee, E. Lawson, L. Sinha, L.
Burden, L. [Teller] Lindsay of Birker, L. Stonham, L.
Burton of Coventry, B. Listowel, E. Summerskill, B.
Champion, L. [Teller.] Morrison, L. Taylor, L.
Citrine, L. Morrison of Lambeth, L. Uvedale of North End, L.
Douglas of Barloch, L. Moyne, L. Walston, L.
Elton, L. Peddie, L. Williams, L.
Francis-Williams, L. St. Davids, V Williams of Barnburgh, L.
Henderson, L. Samuel, V. Wise, L.

tion of July 20), Bill read 3a, with the Amendment, and passed, and returned to the Commons.