HL Deb 05 August 1965 vol 269 cc492-520

7.30 p.m.

Report of Amendments received (according to Order).

Clause 1:

Discrimination in places of public resort

1.—(1) It shall be unlawful for any person, being the proprietor or manager of or employed for the purposes of any place of public resort to which this section applies, to practise discrimination on the ground of colour, race, or ethnic or national origins against persons seeking access to or facilities or services at that place.

(2) This section applies to the following places of public resort, that is to say— (a) any hotel, and any restaurant, café, public house or other place where food or drink is supplied for consumption by the public therein;

LORD AIREDALE moved, in subsection (2), after "say" to insert: () the place of any public meeting;

The noble Lord said: My Lords, this clause seeks to prohibit discrimination on racial grounds in certain places of public resort to which the Bill applies. This is an Amendment to subsection (2), which lists those places of public resort. Perhaps I could preface my remarks by quoting the right honourable gentleman the Secretary of State for Home Affairs, who explained in Standing Committee in another place what the expression "places of public resort" in the Bill was intended to mean. The right honourable gentleman said, at col. 257 of the proceedings of the Standing Committee B on June 23 last: Places of public resort, in the concept which I would commend to the Committee, are places where, broadly speaking, a person goes to stay for a time to enjoy all the amenities which are provided in that place. That is the purport of the word 'resort'. Simply to use the phrase 'places of public resort' would have been to use a phrase of very indefinite import. We thought it wiser to say exactly what sort of places of public resort we had in mind, and those places are set out in subsection (2).

I will leave out a few words, and then he goes on: We think that we have covered every kind of place—there may be some left out—which can be brought within the category of places which we have designated 'places of public resort'. He gives examples, and then goes on: They all have the common characteristic that one goes there to stay there and to enjoy something which is provided for the public at large, and which one wishes to enjoy in common with fellow citizens whom one finds there. To be told that one cannot go to those places is particularly injurious and wounding to the feelings. That is what the Home Secretary said in Standing Committee in the course of resisting an Amendment which would have included shops within the list of places in subsection (2).

I think I can claim that both this Amendment and the other two standing in my name all refer to places which come within this definition of "places of public resort" as stated by the right honourable gentleman the Home Secretary. This Amendment seeks to include in the list "the place of any public meeting". This Bill does deal with public meetings specifically. Clause 6(1)(b) deals with incitement to racial hatred at public meetings, and I should have thought it was only logical and common sense to include in the list in Clause 1 public meetings—that is to say, in the list of those places where discrimination shall not be practised against persons seeking access. Because it is not much comfort to a person who is denied access to a public meeting upon racial grounds to be told that he would have been protected by something in Clause 6 if he had succeeded in making his way in. The logic and common sense nature of this Amendment is so self-evident to me that I think I should be wasting the time of the House if I were to continue arguing the matter. I think the only sensible course is for me to move this Amendment and see what the Minister has to say in reply. I beg to move.

Amendment moved— Page 1, line, 13, at end insert ("() the place of any public meeting;").—(Lord Airedale.)


My Lords, the noble Lord has quoted what my right honourable friend the Home Secretary said on the subject of places of public resort, and in particular he referred to my right honourable friend as saying that they all had in common something to savour which would cause us distress if it were denied to us. That is to some extent a paraphrase of what my right honourable friend said, but I think the noble Lord, Lord Airedale, will agree it is good enough.


"To be told that one cannot go to those places is particularly injurious and wounding to the feelings".


Your Lordships would expect my right honourable friend to put it more graphically than I have myself. The noble Lord also quoted in aid of his Amendment the fact that in Clause 6 and again in Clause 7 of this Bill the expression "public meeting" is used. I would point out to him, first of all, that he has inserted his Amendment in the part of the Bill dealing with discrimination and has quoted in aid those parts of the Bill which are specifically concerned with racial incitement or incitement to racial prejudice. I have to point out that the noble Lord's Amendment would apply to particular public meetings and is not therefore appropriate to the remedies in Clause 1 of the Bill, which are designed to effect a change in a course of conduct extending over a period of time. It is difficult, therefore, to envisage in those circumstances how conciliation committees could operate or how the civil law could in the last resort be particularly effective.

The noble Lord's Amendment seems to us to be based on the assumption that a public meeting is, or should be, open to all members of the public. This is not necessarily true. Often it is used to mean a meeting of a section of the public on a matter of public concern. Since there is no definition in the Bill of "public meeting", although the term is used, this would be bound to lead to uncertainty. "Public meeting" has been defined in a number of ways for different purposes. For example in the Law of Libel Amendment Act 1888, Section 4, it meant: any meeting, bona fide and lawfully held, for a lawful purpose, and for the furtherance of discussion of any matter of public concern, whether the admission thereto be general or restricted. Subsection (1) of Section 9 of the Public Order Act 1936 states that a "public meeting": includes any meeting in a public place and any meeting which the public or any section thereof are admitted to attend, whether on payment or otherwise", and meeting means, a meeting held for the purpose of the discussion of matters of public interest or for the purpose of the expression of views on such matters". In the Report in 1909 of the Departmental Committee of the Home Office with respect to the preservation of order and public meetings, it was stated that: a public meeting may properly be defined to include any lawful meeting called for the furtherance or discussion of a matter of public concern to which the public, or any particular section of the public, is invited or admitted, whether the admission thereto is general or restricted. I quote these definitions, which have endured, to make the point that in this context it is not possible to have a sort of "blanket" definition of a public meeting which would mean that all members of the public should necessarily be admitted. But the definitions I have given would include any meeting called for any political or municipal purpose to which the public are admitted, whether by ticket or otherwise. It would also include many non-political meetings, such as bazaars, public lectures and the like, but not shareholders or committee meetings to which the public are not admitted.

In so far as the noble Lord intends his Amendment to deal with a public meeting in a public place, there is no room for discrimination, since all members of the public, irrespective of their colour, race or nationality, have the right to be present, and on this count the Amendment is unnecessary. In so far as the Amendment deals with a public meeting held in private premises, it would unwarrantably limit the right of the promoters of the meeting to invite such members of the public as they saw fit. Such a limitation would be far-reaching and totally unacceptable. Is there any reason why, for instance, Turkish Cypriots or Greek Cypriots should not be able to hold meetings confined to members of their own racial group and to exclude members of the other racial group? Or, to quote a recent actual case which no doubt noble Lords remem- ber, is there any reason why Asian or African members of a trade union in this country should not hold a meeting to discuss ways of removing alleged disabilities suffered in their employment? Such a public meeting would be for the purpose of discussing matters of common concern to them, and it would be an incitement to disorder if they were not able to exclude persons hostile to them on racial grounds.

In my view, the only case in which, in theory, the Amendment might serve a useful purpose is that in which there is a meeting in private premises, which is announced as being open to all members of the public but from which, in practice, certain racial groups of the public are excluded. Here, it might be argued that discrimination on grounds of race and so on should be prohibited. But the Amendment is not limited to this particular case. And in so far as there is a problem in relation to public meetings in private places it would not, as I have already indicated, be appropriate to deal with it by the procedure in Clauses 1 to 3 which relate to prohibiting a course of conduct.

To sum up, the Amendment fails in three ways. First, if "the place of any public meeting" means a public meeting in a public place, it is unnecessary because there is no room for discrimination. Secondly, if it means a public meeting confined to persons of a particular category, it would be an oppressive incitement to disorder; and, thirdly, if it means a public meeting in a private place, it is not appropriate to the section of the Bill in which it is proposed to insert it. On those grounds, therefore, I hope that the noble Lord, Lord Airedale, will see fit to withdraw the Amendment.

7.46 p.m.


My Lords, I had not intended to speak on this Amendment because I have a later Amendment which not only covers this item but subsequent items which are to be moved in Amendments by the noble Lord, Lord Airedale. But the Minister will forgive me if his speech has incited me to take part in this debate. He began by saying that this Amendment was irrelevant.


My Lords, I am quite sure it is within the recollection of your Lordships that I did not use the word "irrelevant" at all at any time during my speech.


"Irrelevant" was my own word, and I would not suggest that the Minister used that word.




My Lords, I meant by the term "irrelevant" the dictionary meaning: that this particular Amendment is not related to the item of the Bill because it is unnecessary and because it is inconsistent.

My noble friend argued, first, that this Amendment was not applicable because this clause of the Bill deals with discrimination which is continuous and persistent. I submit to the Minister and to noble Lords that frequently public meetings are continuous, and are persistent in their denial of racial equality. I have had handbills in my hand of meetings which have been organised by Fascist societies which have not only announced one meeting but a series of meetings and therefore, so far as those meetings are concerned, the discrimination is persistent and continuous. And it may well be that at those public meetings discrimination is practised against members of the public attending them, on the ground that they are of a particular race or colour.

The second argument which the Minister put forward was that meetings may be called for a particular purpose by a particular community. I would submit to him that those are not public meetings, in the sense of being places of public resort as defined in this clause. It may be that Greeks or Turks from Cyprus may seek to hold a meeting of Greeks or of Turks to express their view about the problem in Cyprus. If those meetings are specifically meetings of Greeks or Turks, I submit that they are not public meetings in the sense of this clause, which speaks of "places of public resort".

A third point which was put by the Minister was that there might be public meetings to which the general public were invited, and which seemed to me to be within the term of meetings in "places of public resort", but that if at those meetings persons were excluded on the ground of race or colour there are other provisions in the law (or if the incitement took place, there is a later clause in the Bill) covering those conditions. I submit that that is not the case. A public meeting may easily be called, open to the general public, and when members of a particular race or particular colour desire to attend that meeting they may be either excluded from the meeting, or, when they have gained attendance, may be expelled from it. That is a public place, a public meeting. It is discrimination on the grounds of race and colour. Even if the Minister suggests that the actual wording of this Amendment goes beyond the kind of case which I have indicated, I would suggest very strongly to him that, even if he cannot accept the terms of this Amendment, it is one further argument in favour of the Amendment of a more comprehensive nature which I shall move later.


My Lords, I wish that we were not in such a hurry over this Bill. In the present circumstances, we are not able to do the thorough job on this most important measure which I am sure everybody in your Lordships' House would wish to do. The noble Lord, Lord Stonham, has put forward points of great substance and importance which I should much like to consider. I think that the noble Lord's point about the public meeting held in a private place could probably he met by a definition of "public meeting" for the purposes of this Act. If we have time to consider the matter thoroughly, and if the noble Lord, Lord Airedale, has a chance to consult with his friends on the matter, no doubt a valuable Amendment could be put down on Third Reading—a right which the House is now being denied.

I am most disappointed that the possibility still exists that a coloured man may be excluded from a public meeting in a private place. I cannot see why exclusion from such a meeting should not come under the provisions of this clause. The exclusion is likely to take place by some act by an over-excited steward—and stewards do get rather excited—at a public meeting saying, "e don't want your sort here. There is no room for you." It would be perfectly possible to subject treatment of that kind to consideration by the conciliation committee. The organisers of the meeting could be told by the conciliation committee, "We are quite sure that you did not mean to exclude coloured persons from the meeting. Will you in future instruct your stewards to take a reasonable line?"

In saying all this, I am afraid I am wasting your Lordships' time, because this measure is being rushed through this House. How much better it would have been if we had decided to meet rather earlier in October and to subject this Bill to the thorough and proper examination which it deserves!


My Lords, I am grateful for the support I have received from noble Lords. I propose to accept the advice which has been given by the noble Earl, Lord Iddesleigh. Before I do so, I would mention that "public meeting", which is referred to specifically in Clause 6 and 7, is defined in Clause 6 as having the same meaning as in the Public Order Act 1936. I do not know whether, if that definition were to be included in Clause 1, it would make my Amendment more acceptable than it is at present. However that may be, I put down the Amendment at short notice, and it has been amply demonstrated to me that Lord Stonham has gone into the matter with great throughness, and I should not feel it right to press the matter without studying in great detail what he has said in reply. The only proper course for me at this stage is to ask leave to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

7.56 p.m.

LORD AIREDALE moved, in subsection (2), after paragraph (a) to insert: () any museum or other place of an educational or cultural nature to which the public is normally admitted;

The noble Lord said: My Lords, paragraph (b) of this subsection specifically lists places of public entertainment and recreation. I should have thought that it was equally important that foreign students and other serious-minded foreigners should not be liable to be excluded from museums and places of that nature which are the subject of this Amendment. I seek to include museums, et cetera, within the subsection. Among the other places to which I refer after the words "any museum", I have in mind such of Mr. Noel Coward's stately homes of England as open their doors to the members of the public, and places of that kind. The words "of an educational or cultural nature" in the Amendment are already enshrined in the Statute Book in the Public Libraries and Museums Act 1964. I beg to move.

Amendment moved— Page 1, line 16, at end insert the said paragraph.—(Lord Airedale.)


My Lords, before dealing with this Amendment, I ask your Lordships' indulgence as I suffer under two disabilities. The first is that on Report stage I cannot speak a second time without leave of the House, and for that reason I could not reply to the points made by the noble Earl, Lord Iddesleigh, or those made by my noble friend Lord Brockway. The other disability was referred to by the noble Earl when he spoke about the hurry we were in. To be fair, we have had a reasonable time between Committee and Report stage for the tabling of Amendments, and the noble Lord, Lord Airedale, was kind enough to say that I had gone thoroughly into his Amendment and had given it a considered reply. I shall certainly do so on this one too. I think that all friends of the Bill will agree with me when I say that the most important thing is to get the Bill. As I understand the time-table, it is necessary for us, after the completion of the Report stage, to have a Third Reading to-night in order that we can get the Bill. Apart from that, I am in your Lordships hands with regard to the particular Amendments we are considering.

To come now to the Amendment which has just been moved, it includes among the places of resort covered by Clause 1 of the Bill, museums and other places of an educational or cultural nature, such as libraries and art galleries, to which the public are normally admitted. In large part, in our view, the Amendment is unnecessary, because subsection (2) (d) of Clause 1 has the effect of including museums, libraries, and so on, maintained by the local authority or other public authority, and the paragraph was designed for that very purpose. Admittedly, it would not cover places of the kind maintained by a Government Department—for instance, buildings scheduled as ancient monuments by the Ministry of Public Building and Works—because the Bill does not bind the Crown. But this, of course, and for the same reason, would apply equally to the Amendment of the noble Lord, Lord Airedale, if it were accepted. In any case, I know your Lordships will agree that the point is of very little real significance or practical importance, because it can scarcely be suggested that the Government would itself practise discrimination or tolerate it among its employees.

But there remain museums, art galleries and similar buildings maintained by private individuals and organisations, to which the public are normally admitted. These may often be in private homes. Indeed, the noble Lord, Lord Airedale, made it clear in moving his Amendment that where it is the practice to open to the public private parks or historic or stately homes, no one member of the public should be excluded solely on grounds of colour or race. But I must say, quite frankly, that I am not aware of any case in which discrimination of this kind is practised. Many of those stately homes are in fact owned by Members of your Lordships' House, and it is quite inconceivable that anyone would dream of allowing discrimination of that kind.

In common, no doubt, with many of your Lordships, a week or two ago I saw a programme on television which illustrated some of the stately homes. Indeed, some noble Dukes who own those homes were interviewed frankly and freely on the subject, and, if I am not being unfair, it seemed to me that their greatest concern was the maximum number of half-crowns. Some, at least, took a particular pride in the fact that their homes and gardens were a source of great attraction to visitors from overseas and to people of many different races. I can assure your Lordships that. I listened carefully, but I did not hear any noble Duke suggest that anyone who visited his grounds or his house and who paid his 2s. 6d. or 3s. 6d. should be asked for a certificate of entry; and certainly no noble Duke questioned anyone about the number of dependants that the visitor had overseas. Their interest, if they had asked about the dependants, would probably have been in future business. In any case, it would be a quite unwarrantable intrusion on the freedom of the individual to require him to accept into his own home or precincts people whom he wished, however misguidedly, to exclude— although I am certain that those people do not exclude them, and would not dream of excluding them.

This is a principle which the Bill has throughout been at pains to safeguard—for instance, by omitting from its provisions boarding houses and private hotels, and by the special saving in Clause 5 for landlords who share accommodation with their tenants—and there is certainly no reason for abandoning it here. Put in its most plausible form, the argument may be that people who own stately homes, libraries and collections should be considered as holding them in trust for the public and should be expected to act accordingly. But the logic of that would require that all these places should be open to the public whether the owners wished it or not, and, clearly, whatever may be thought of that principle, it is still a long way from being accepted or made acceptable.

I want to make it very clear that it is not serving the cause that we all have at heart to put up theoretical cases where discrimination could possibly be exercised but where we have no knowledge that it is being exercised. Also, in this case—although, of course, I fully appreciate the reasons why the noble Lord, Lord Airedale, is moving his Amendment and am glad that he has done so, because it gives the opportunity for this discussion—we feel that in great measure, and in so far as it is necessary at all, the point he has in mind is covered by the Bill. On those two grounds, therefore, we feel that the Amendment is not necessary.


My Lords, before the noble Lord replies, may I say that I have listened with great interest to these discussions? Surely, the criterion should be one of behaviour, whether the person is coloured or white, and if a person arrives at a museum or a concert hall, whether it is owned by the Government or privately-owned, in a truculent state, those who run it should have the right to refuse entry. I agree with the noble Earl, Lord Iddesleigh, that there has not really been sufficient time to discuss this Bill properly. I think that the Bill as drafted covers many of the points which the noble Lord, Lord Airedale, seeks to cover, but it is surely the criterion of behaviour and apearance which should dominate the precepts of this Bill.


My Lords, I am sorry to say that I was not nearly so satisfied with the Minister's answer to this Amendment as I was with his answer to the first one. What the noble Lord's argument boils down to is this: "I cannot think of any cases where discrimination would be practised in the sort of circumstances that this Amendment envisages, and therefore it is unnecessary". In my submission, that sort of argument is never a very strong one. In this particular instance it seems to me that we have really reached a quite extraordinary position. Paragraph (b) specifically lists sports ground, swimming pool or other place of public entertainment or recreation ". We may have this position. A noble Duke has a stately home which he opens to the public in order primarily that serious-minded people may enjoy the treasures there. In the grounds he puts a swimming pool and roundabouts, for the public entertainment of the children of the people who come primarily to enjoy the cultural surroundings of the stately home. As I understand it, under paragraph (b) the noble Duke cannot exclude persons on racial grounds from his public entertainment facilities—his swimming pool, and so on—but, unless my Amendment is accepted, he is going to be able (I am not suggesting that any noble Duke would do it, but he would be able) to exclude people upon racial grounds from going inside the stately home and enjoying seeing the treasures. That seems to me to be a perfectly ridiculous position to allow to exist. I really do not think I can withdraw this Amendment.


My Lords, if I may be allowed to speak again, I want to make only two points. First, I would remind the noble Lord, Lord Auckland, that, even in a place which is covered by the Bill, if a person is truculent or offensive in any way other than in regard to questions of race, ethnics, nationality or creed, then, of course, the proprietor has every right, and a continuing right, to exclude him.

On the point raised by the noble Lord, Lord Airedale, he said that a noble Duke could not exclude a person of colour from his swimming pool or roundabout but he could exclude him on those grounds from his home. The answer to that, my Lords, is that an Englishman, Duke or otherwise, can exclude any person from his home on any grounds. Therefore, the noble Lord's Amendment would not alter or add to that position at all. I still feel that the case I made was a complete answer to his Amendment, and that it is unnecessary.


My Lords, I suppose that if I say anything more I shall be in grave danger of being called out of order, but I shall chance it. I would suggest to the Minister that it is not reasonable to call those parts of a stately home of England which are not lived in but which are preserved as a museum for the enjoyment of members of the public, part of an Englishman's home. They are nothing of the kind. It is only the flat in which he lives privately which is the Englishman's home.

On Question, Amendment negatived.

8.11 p.m.

LORD AIREDALE moved, in subsection (2), after paragraph (a) to insert. () any public exhibition;". The noble Lord said: My Lords, this Amendment seeks to include in the list any public exhibition. A public exhibition is not usually a cultural place, and it is not a place of entertainment such as comes within paragraph (b)—at least, not usually. That is not to say that the Antique Dealers' Fair is not primarily a cultural occasion, or that many of the people who go to the Boat Show do not go for the purpose of entertainment. But, my Lords, public exhibitions are very much part of our national life in these days. They deal with almost all the material facets of our national life, and they draw enormous crowds. I should have thought it would undoubtedly be felt by anybody to be a serious deprivation to be excluded upon racial grounds, or upon any other ground, for that matter, from attending one of the many public exhibitions which are held in this country all the year round.

If the words of the Home Secretary (which I quoted, which the Minister paraphrased, which I then requoted and which, if I may do so, I will quote once more) mean anything, I should have thought that it was quite evident that public exhibitions ought to be in this list. The Home Secretary's words were: To be told that one cannot go to those places is particularly injurious and wounding to the feelings". Again, I am not suggesting that this would happen, but I can imagine the feelings of somebody who, on racial grounds, might be told, "You cannot go into the Ideal Home Exhibition", or "You cannot go to the Boat Show". I beg to move.

Amendment moved— Page 1, line 16, at end insert: ("() any public exhibition;").—(Lord Airedale.)


My Lords, the noble Lord, Lord Airedale, quoted my right honourable friend again, and said that if you were told you could not go into one of those places it would be very wounding. I quite agree; but he did not give any indication when, if ever, anyone had been told that he could not go to those places on the grounds of race or colour, or for any of the reasons which are objected to in this Bill as a matter of discrimination.

However, to come to the particular Amendment, first of all I have to say to the noble Lord, Lord Airedale (always, of course, with the proviso that I have never regarded this as very important), that the drafting of his Amendment is at fault because its words do not necessarily convey the meaning which he has assigned to them. To include in Clause 1 of the Bill any place at a time when a public exhibition is being held there would mean, for example, that Olympia would qualify only when an exhibition was being held there. If that is what the noble Lord intends, then much the same objections apply as they did to the previous Amendment dealing with museums, art galleries and so on, when he found my answer singularly unconvincing. That is to say, it would apply except, perhaps, that the number of public exhibitions sponsored by individual organisations and undertakings is greater in proportion to the whole than the number of museums and art galleries privately maintained to those maintained by local or public authorities. In another way the consideration may also be said to differ in degree because public exhibitions, from their nature, tend more often to be held in premises specially hired for the purpose and frequently hired from public authorities.

The fact remains that we have had no complaints of discrimination being practised in public exhibitions, nor are they the sort of occasions on which we would expect it to be. Indeed, many trade exhibitions make a point of publishing each day the number of overseas visitors and buyers who have been at the exhibition. Most trade exhibitions, at least those of a national character or on a substantial scale, go to a great deal of expense and trouble to advertise overseas to attract visitors to the exhibition. It would therefore be ludicrous to suggest that any discrimination of this kind would be practised in those circumstances.

I believe that there is general agreement that it is not in large gatherings of that kind that the abuse which we all deplore tends to show itself, but in the more intimate circumstances—the circumstances, for example, of a public house, or in places at which people are served together, as in restaurants, or where they are engaged in a common activity such as at a swimming pool or at dances. These are the places where discrimination is likely to be practiced, and not—I repeat not—in public exhibitions where, by the very nature of things, all who will come and pay for admission or are qualified to enter by reason of their trade and occupation (and some exhibitions are limited in that way) are welcome.

The purpose of this Bill, I must say once more, is to strike at likely, actual or threatened abuses and not at purely theoretical ones. I would say this. If we were to try to cover every public place or occasion where discrimination might theoretically be practised, and where there is little or no reason to believe that it ever would, and where we have no evidence that it ever has been, it would be difficult to know where to stop. What is more important—and I hope the noble Lord will accept this point—is that, however long a list we compiled, we should be bound to leave something out. The result would be to encourage people to think that discrimination was all right in any of the places or circumstances not specifically mentioned in the Bill. I believe, therefore, much as I appreciate, as I always do, the noble Lord's reasons and arguments on this occasion, that the Bill would be much better without his Amendment and I hope he will not press it.


My Lords, the arguments of the Minister on this Amendment are very much the same as his arguments on the other. He says he cannot think of any circumstances where discrimination would be practised in such places as exhibitions and therefore it is unnecessary to have exhibitions in the list. I can use that argument, too. Paragraph (b) includes sports grounds and swimming pools. I could have moved an Amendment to leave out "sports grounds and swimming pools" and, in support of that, I could have said that I cannot think of any sports ground or swimming pool where anyone is liable to be excluded on racial grounds. I could then ask the Minister whether he could give me examples of sports grounds or swimming pools where this would be so. If he could not do so, then I could say, "Let us leave those words out of the Bill." I imagine that the Minister's answer would be, "I have no specific instance in mind, but this is the sort of place which ought to be on the list."

My Lords, I think that exhibitions ought to be on the list. Not all exhibitions are enormous, or held at Olympia or Earl's Court. We have large, small and medium-size public exhibitions. If theatres, public houses, cafés, sports grounds and dance halls are to be included, I think that exhibitions ought also to be on the list, and I do not feel that I ought to withdraw the Amendment.

On Question, Amendment negatived.

8.21 p.m.

LORD BROCKWAY moved to add to subsection (2): () any other place to which the public is normally admitted. The noble Lord said: My Lords, I think I should begin by expressing an apology to the Members of this House, because I had an Amendment down in the same terms during the Committee stage and was not in my place when it was called. This was due to the fact that I was working in the Government Peers' Room, which is in the dungeons of this House; the previous debate ended rather precipitately and I was not informed in time to be in my place to move the Amendment. I apologise to those who were present on that occasion; I apologise even more to those who are present now, because they are being detained at a late hour.

I am moving this Amendment not because I am opposed to the principle of the Bill but because I am enthusiastically in favour of it. I hope that I may be able to argue the case quietly and reasonably, and in such a way that I may have a response from the Government. Clause 1(2) of the Bill includes as was said by the noble Lord, Lord Airedale, a list of places of public resort where discrimination would be regarded as unlawful. They are four in character: any place where food or drink is sup-lied for consumption by the public; any place of public entertainment or recreation; any premises used for the purpose of public transport, and any other place of public resort maintained by a local authority. Those are not inclusive words; those are the principles of the four sections. Subsection (2) not only lays down those principles but lists a number of places where the provisions of this Bill should apply: hotels, restaurants, cafes, public houses, theatres, cinemas, dance halls, sports grounds, swimming pools, vehicles, vessels or aircraft used for public transport.

If the purpose of this Bill were to take into a court of law, either in civil proceedings or in criminal proceedings, any person who practised discrimination in those places, I could understand that they should be specifically and directly mentioned in the Bill. The first draft of the Bill was made with that kind of purpose; but the amended Bill has a different purpose—and I am among those who welcome that purpose. The purpose now is not to take to a court of law an individual who practises discrimination in a series of specific places: the purpose now is, where discrimination is practised in places of public resort, to make the utmost effort to settle the difference by the method of reconciliation. I submit to the members of the Government who are here that that change in the character of the Bill makes unnecessary the listing of a series of places in which discrimination may take place (which nevertheless may omit some) and makes it desirable that there should be a much broader definition. In my Amendment I have not suggested omitting the list, but in view of this change in the nature of the Bill, I propose that there should be added the words: any other place to which the public is normally admitted".

To emphasise my point, let me describe the procedure that will be followed under this Bill. First, if there is a charge of discrimination in one of these public places, a complaint will be made to the local conciliation committee. The object of that conciliation committee will be to use its best endeavours to secure a settlement of the difference. Only when it has used its utmost efforts to bring about conciliation, and has failed, will the case be reported to the Race Relations Board. Even when it is reported, it is not inevitable that the case will be taken to court. It is only if it is clear to the Race Relations Board that a contravention of this clause has taken place, and is likely to continue, that the case will be reported to the Attorney General, in England and Wales, or to the Lord Advocate, in Scotland. Even then, the case will not necessarily be taken to court: that will be a matter for the Attorney General or the Lord Advocate to decide. And even when the case has gone to court, and if the charge is proved, there will not be a sentence of imprisonment or a fine. The court can only grant an injunction to require that the offence is not continued.

What I am trying to do is to convince members of the Government, in a cooperative and constructive way, and the Members of this House, that when this Bill is aimed at conciliation, then the broadest possible definition of circumstances in which discrimination could take place should be included in the Bill, rather than the listing of possible places of discrimination which are not necessarily inclusive of all those where it occurs, and almost certainly will not be inclusive of all places where it will occur in future. This would seem to me to be ground, not for limiting an effort to settle differences in the stated places of public resort, but for giving the local conciliation committees authority to bring about conciliation in all places of public resort. I submit that argument to the Minister with all the persuasion that I can, because I believe it is the only principle that is consistent with the changed character of the Bill.

There is another case for accepting the Amendment that I have on the Marshalled List. Indeed, I am tremendously fortified by the concluding passage of the speech which the Minister has just delivered. He has argued against a list of places where discrimination has not at present occurred on the very grounds on which I am arguing for the acceptance of this Amendment. There is a danger in listing a number of places without including all places of public resort, because those who control those other places will take the fact that they are not made unlawful under this Bill as justifying the practice of discrimination in those places. Discrimination (and I am almost using the words used by the Minister) could be practised with impunity in public places other than those which are specifically listed in this Bill.

I want to recognise at once that discrimination may not occur beyond the places which are recorded in the Bill. Indeed, I would say to the Minister—and I have made some examination of this problem—that there are places in the list already where it would be difficult to find the practice of discrimination at this moment. My study of this problem has led me to the view that the practice of discrimination at this moment is actually decreasing. It was at its height about eighteen months ago. I think the Minister would find it difficult, in certain of the places which he has included in this Bill, to prove that any discrimination is now taking place.

But, in my view, it is dangerous to gamble that this psychological situation will be maintained. It may be that, owing to the development of unforeseen and unhappy circumstances, discrimination will grow. It may easily be that it may grow in particular places. If it does grow in that way, discrimination will occur, not only in the specific places of public resort mentioned in this Bill, but also in other places.

May I indicate what I have in mind? In America now, there are certain public corporations which are providing beauty parlours and barbers' shops of an exclusive character, from which coloured persons and those of a different race are excluded. Such places are not covered in this Bill. Is the Minister really suggesting that in the kind of atmosphere of business exploitation for profit which is now occurring, and particularly the epidemic (if I may so call it) of attempts to find a particular presentation of a business which will appeal to certain sections of the people, it is unlikely that a concern which is running a beauty parlour or a barber's establishment may not, if the feeling of colour and discrimination arises, apply—quite lawfully under this Bill—discrimination to its establishment?

In saying this I am not speaking without some evidence. I had a lady friend this week who went to a beauty parlour. The owner of that parlour said to her: "I am sorry that there are coloured people here. I hope that the time may come when it will be possible to run an establishment of this kind where only white women can have the services which we can provide".

The Minister cannot possibly say that the list of particular places set out in this Bill is the complete list of places of public resort where discrimination is likely to take place. I take another instance which is, I admit, on the borderline between the area of employment, which the noble Lord has already excluded from the Bill, and the area of public resort. We are now having for the first time large numbers of coloured children school-leavers. I was quite surprised to see in the White Paper on Immigration which has been distributed this week that there is very little difficulty for coloured teenagers leaving school. That is not my experience. My experience is that in town after town where there are Commonwealth immigrant communities, the Youth Employment Officers are finding the greatest difficulty in obtaining any opportunity for those children in offices in this country.

As I have said already, I recognise that that is partly a matter of employment. But it is not only a matter of employment. Those offices which are public offices, in the sense that anyone should have the opportunity to participate in the work of those offices—places of public resort in that sense—are excluding from a coloured child the opportunity to enter. The Minister has to look at that problem very seriously indeed in view of the school leavers whom we now have in our midst. He has to look also at the problem, if racial discrimination increases in this country, that there may be some exclusion even from shops of a particular kind, in particular areas of a particularly snobbish character.

I suggest to him, further that he has got to look at the problem of clubs which are normally open to the general public. I am not asking him to apply this Bill to clubs of a particular character—it may be clubs of a religious community, it may be some special association—but to clubs which are normally open to the whole population, where the only restriction is colour or race; they ought to be included within the terms of this Bill. The Labour Club at Smethwick was an unfortunate example of that.

I have tried to put this case reasonably. I have put it, I hope, with some conviction. I want to know what is the objection of the Government and the Minister to this wider definition, when this is a matter of conciliation and agreement and trying to end racial feeling. The criticism of this Bill is that it is inadequate, that it does not deal with the most urgent cases of discrimination. I want to ask the Minister, in these last moments of the consideration of this Bill, whether he will do something to meet this criticism by accepting the Amendment which I have put forward.

May I add just this?—and I think the Minister knows how I feel about this matter. In one sense I was a pioneer, with my noble friend Lord Sorensen, of legislation in this sphere. I am terribly proud to-night that we are reaching the stage where this Bill is likely to become law. I am pleading with him to look at the Amendment which I have moved because I believe by this Amendment we shall be able to improve race relations in this country; we shall be placing the emphasis not so much on the penalisation of those who commit offences as on seeking by conciliation to bring about agreement. I beg to move.

Amendment moved Page 2, line 2, at end insert the said new paragraph.—(Lord Brockway.)


My Lords, I should like to point out to the noble Lord, Lord Brockway, that the wording of his Amendment in fact covers both your Lordships' House and the other place. We all know, naturally, that so far as admission is concerned there is no problem there—and I am thankful there is not—but it is not impossible, although perhaps not likely, that words might be said during some debate which might be taken as being discrimination in one way or another. I think it would be a most serious thing if this Bill were to inhibit the freedom of speech of either Members of your Lordships' House or honourable Members in another place.


My Lords, may I just say to the noble Lord that your Lordships' House and the other place are not public places. The public are in fact outside the House, so the point made by the noble Lord, Lord Somers, is not valid.


I think that is rather a technical point.


My Lords, I have listened carefully to the speech of the noble Lord, Lord Brockway, which he has made with a good deal of sincerity, but I think his Amendment is much too widely drawn. As I understand it, it would take in places like Tower Hill and Speakers' Corner, where you not only may get a white man inciting racial hatred but you may get a Zambian or some other coloured national doing the same thing. I am not suggesting that this happens on a very big scale. I used to visit Tower Hill quite a lot and also, on occasions, Speakers' Corner. I think it would be a very great pity if the carryings on there were curbed through the means of this particular Bill. I would ask the Government to consider that point.

My second point is this. We are, of course, discussing Clause 1, but if there was really discrimination on a large scale the implications would surely turn towards Clause 6, because there may well be violence ensuing, and under Clause 6 there are very wide powers to deal with any incidents, or most incidents, of the kind which the noble Lord, Lord Brockway, has mentioned.


My Lords, in sixty seconds I should like to support this Amendment to m the Bill compre- hensive, if only in order to justify the Title of the Bill which is An Act prohibiting discrimination on racial grounds in places of public resort. It does not say "in certain places of public resort"; still less does it say "in a few selected places of public resort chosen upon an arbitrary basis". I should have thought that Her Majesty's Government had only two choices: either to accept the noble Lord's Amendment or else to move on the Third Reading in a few minutes' time an Amendment of their own to amend the Title so as to read, not "places of public resort", but "certain places of public resort". I think I have taken 57 seconds.


My Lords, I regret to have to inform the noble Lord, Lord Airedale, that I shall have no difficulty in resisting the temptation to accept either of the suggestions that he put to me as the only two possible alternatives. We have listened, as we might have expected to a speech from my noble friend Lord Brockway fired with sincerity, in which at different stages he presented his case passionately, sympathetically and engagingly. It is good that at this almost last stage of this Bill I should be speaking in the presence of my noble friends Lord Brockway and Lord Sorensen, who between them have done certainly more, I would say, than any two men in Parliament to bring about the state of affairs that we have now in this Bill. But I really do not think it is appropriate that at this stage we should be asked virtually to transform this Bill completely and fundamentally.

My noble friend said that the change in the character of the Bill, meaning that we have now related it to discrimination as a course of conduct as distinct from what it was in the original draft of the Bill, renders unnecessary any restriction with regard to type of place. Again, those may not be his exact words, but certainly that is the intention.


To a type of public place.


As my noble friend knows, I did not want to misquote him. But it seems to me impossible that we could, even for a moment, consider utterly and completely changing the whole concept of the Bill in the way that he suggests. He wishes to extend the provision against discrimination to the generality of places to which the public are normally admitted, and of course this is a most attractive appeal. It is one which readily appeals, I should have thought, to most of us. Under his proposal, as he made clear, the Bill would cover all premises, all places to which the public is normally admitted—shops, hairdressing establishments, beauty parlours, clubs and similar places which are normally open to the public. Even when my noble friend quoted an example it was that of a hairdressing establishment, not where colour discrimination was practised, because coloured people were there, but where it was the hope of someone that it one day might be practised.

I am bound to say that in this context the Amendment itself, apart from my noble friend's exposition of it, is obscure; and we have to consider the Amendment and its effect if we accepted it. It would be at the least confusing and at the worst inflammatory, and it would also be misleading if, after setting out in the subsection that the provisions are to apply to certain specific places of public resort, we should add certain words which would mean they would apply to all. It is imperative that we should avoid imprecision in our legislation and particularly in this Bill, and that we should make the effect of the law as certain as it can be; but it would be almost impossible to put any exact limit on what may be comprised within the term "place to which the public is normally admitted", because the Amendment would provide a wide and indeterminate field within which neither the members of the immigrant communities would know whether they had rights of entry or service; nor would the proprietors or managers know whether they were entitled lawfully to exclude them or deny them service. Such a situation would inevitably cause friction and would be likely to impose intolerable difficulties on the local conciliation committees in deciding which complaints they were entitled to consider and which they were not.

The places to which Clause 1 applies have all been carefully selected and defined with as much precision as is possible. I am delighted to hear that it would be difficult in some cases to find or to quote examples where discrimination was being or had been exercised in such places. It has not been thought necessary to extend the Bill to shops and similar places because there is no evidence that discrimination is in fact being practised in them. I know that the noble Lord, Lord Airedale, does not accept that as a convincing argument, but I do find that it is a proper argument to use. And there is the strong practical objection to including them that discrimination is widely defined in subsection (3) of Clause 1 so as to cover not only refusal to provide access facilities or services, but also to neglect to provide them in the like manner and on like terms as to the public in general. This opens up the prospect of innumerable complaints, for example, of delays in service in shops, most of which may well prove trivial or unfounded or imagined, but which might create feeling and prove excessively burdensome to the conciliation committee.

It is no proper answer to say that the same objections could apply to restaurants which would be brought under the clause, because this would ignore the question of degree, which cannot be lightly disregarded when you come to a practical issue of this kind. Moreover, if we include shops and the other establishments which my noble friend mentioned, it will make a major inroad into the whole basis of retail trading under which the display of merchandise with a price ticket is not regarded as an offer for sale which may be accepted by any customer. There is no doubt that it would be opposed by the whole trading community. The fact that there would be opposition is not in itself a reason for not accepting my noble friend's suggestion. A reason is that the trading community would resent it because the clause would be applied in a field where in fact there is no evidence of discrimination and where they do not discriminate.

Therefore, I must ask my noble friend to accept that an Amendment in such wide and definite terms as the one which he is proposing would create difficulties, not only for suppliers but for consumers in fields where they do not at present exist. I say again that I do not think it is going to serve the cause which we both have at heart if we go on imagining possible places or avenues of discrimination that do not at present exist or where discrimination is not at present being exercised. If a situation should arise such as he fears might arise, then it is a matter which we could look at again. But, meanwhile, I am bound to advise my noble friend that we cannot possibly accept his Amendment, and I hope that he will withdraw it.


My Lords, I will not pretend that I have been convinced by the speech which the Minister has delivered: but first, in view of his undertaking that, if conditions develop so that the Bill should be extended, that would be considered by the Government, and, second, because, like others, I am much more concerned that the Bill should be placed on the Statute Book than that one should press points about which there is difference, I beg leave to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Then, Standing Order No. 41 having been suspended (pursuant to the Resolution of July 22):


My Lords, I beg to move that the Bill be read a third time. I will detain your Lordships for only a few moments. I think despite, or perhaps even because of, what has been said to-night, the Government can reasonably claim that the machinery devised for our purpose has been well-designed to provide the greatest possible opportunities for the settlement of disputes with the least possible cause for misunderstanding or friction. Its success will depend very greatly on the efforts of the Race Relations Board which the Home Secretary is to appoint. In making these appointments it will be my right honourable friend's object to find people of ability, of wide human sympathies and of some national reputation, capable of winning the confidence of all sections of the community, whether immigrant or native born.

But success will not only depend on the ability of the Board; it will depend even more on the good sense and restraint of the communities themselves. During the passage of the Bill, we have argued about the forms of discrimination and the places of public resort to which the provisions should apply. I do not wish, in these final words, to spend further time in explaining the principles that have guided the Government's choice. It is sufficient to say that the aim throughout has been to find ways of easing racial tensions and not to carry principles—however excellent in themselves—to an extreme that is likely to alienate well-intentioned and moderate public opinion and so to provoke those very feelings of antagonism which we wish to allay.

The noble Lord, Lord Derwent, who informed me that he could not be here to-dad, has suggested, among others, that in some respects the Bill goes too far. I know that your Lordships felt considerable sympathy with the argument which he so clearly and ably advanced for extending to tenants who may be required to share kitchen and sanitary accommodation the protection already given to landlords under the Bill. I promised to look again at what he said, but I am bound to say that, after the most careful consideration we in the Home Office have been quite unable to find any way of effectively meeting the substance of his case without opening the provisions as a whole to wide-scale evasion and abuse. Equally, on the other side of the argument, I realise that there are others, like my noble friend Lord Brockway, who are disappointed that the Government have not felt it wise to go further and attempt to apply the provisions to a wide range of places and activities, in which it is said that discrimination has been, or may at some time in the future be, practised. This balancing of opinion, on the one side and the other, may well prove that the Government have not been so very far wrong in gauging the scone of the Bill. Clearly, however, this is not a matter capable of precise and objective assessment: it is something that time and experience can show.

My final word is this. Whether the Bill goes too far, or not far enough, I trust that all of us will give it every opportunity for the machinery to prove itself in an atmosphere free of unnecessary sectional controversy and provocation. It would, I am sure, be a tragedy if the work of the Race Relations Board and its local committees were to be impeded by well meaning but misguided people seeking to force upon their attention problems with which they will have no authority to deal. Whatever larger ends such action was intended to serve, it would not, I am sure, be the way to promote that goal of racial harmony to which all people of goodwill, whatever their race or national origin, are united in dedication. My Lords, I beg to move.

Moved, That the Bill be now read ª.—(Lord Stonham.)

9.2 p.m.


My Lords, although, as the noble Lord, Lord Stonham, said, the Bill in some ways goes too far for some people and, on the other hand, not far enough for others, I am sure that all noble Lords will feel that this has now been thoroughly examined and gone into. I feel that the best thing we can do is to wish the Bill the very best luck it can have; and, as the noble Lord said, we shall do anything in our power to make it work well and be a success.


My Lords, I cannot entirely agree that we could not have improved the Bill, had we had the opportunity of exercising the privilege of this House and amending it on Third Reading, and had we had longer to consider it. But I entirely agree with the words of the noble Viscount, Lord Goschen, that whatever criticisms and objections there may be in detail—and I felt that the noble Lord, Lord Derwent, had a point which deserved to be met—we greet the Bill with great satisfaction. We rely very much on the conciliation committees to enforce its provisions in a reasonable and sensible way, and we wish it full good fortune.


My Lords, I am not sure that it is necessary to add anything to what has been said. I very much hope that we shall all co-operate in making the Bill successful in diminishing racial and colour feeling in this country. With the knowledge that will be obtained from the operation of this Bill, I hope that we may at a later stage be able to introduce further legislation which may deal more fully with the problem.

On Question, Bill read 3ª, with the Amendments, and passed, and returned to the Commons.