HL Deb 10 December 1969 vol 306 cc579-648

4.3 p.m.

Debate continued.


My Lords, I share the gratitude which all of us have to the noble Lord, Lord Wade, for raising this issue and making possible this discussion. For me, for reasons to which the noble Lord, Lord Beswick, has already referred, it is extremely topical. From experience of that recent controversy in the North East, in which I am sorry to say abuse and error were somewhat more evident than discussion and truth, I should like at the outset to emphasise that these demontrations are not purely student phenomena; they have a much wider significance than that. Are they to be seen as merely long-haired violence, the work of thugs and so on? That kind of judgment is not only in general reactionary; it is imperceptive, superficial and false.

May I begin by outlining some broader features of the intricate background to the issue before us, mainly, though not entirely, in its relevance to this country. It is nowadays a common presupposition of all Parties that society must be planned. The planned society has come to stay. As I see it from a certain detached position, the only difference between the Parties is how far and in what particular ways should that planning go. And what is true of Government is true also of business: large-scale planning is inevitable, facilitated and rightly encouraged by technological developments of which the computer is the sign and symbol. Nor do I deplore, nor must any of us deplore, these changing patterns of society which have such immense possibilities for everyone's good. But undoubtedly it results in people feeling powerless, frustrated and ineffective; feeling that they are the victims of decisions in whose making they have had no part. And when injustice appears in society, it tends, I fear, to be accepted by society at large—just accepted; it loses its sting. It is thought of as somehow the inevitable price that someone somewhere has to pay for the overall good.

To be fair, various steps have been taken in the past with a view to meeting difficulties and problems such as these. We have our appeals machinery, as with insurances or town planning. We have Regional Boards and local management committees for the hospital services; we have our consultative committees, for instance, for transport and gas and electricity; we have the Ombudsman. But what is unfortunately very clear is that these provisions have not re-created the local initiative and involvement which must be at the heart of all democracy and for which a planned society must be specially careful to make explicit provision. We have done little, very little indeed, to ensure that policies and decisions make evident their moral basis.

Let me give some examples. The formalities and official jargon in which appeals against planning permission are dismissed give the impression of nothing better than stereotyped, routine, ready-made rejections that have made no genuine and serious attempt to grapple with particular difficulties. The rejections are turned out in routine, machine-like manner—and those who get them think they are.


My Lords, about one appeal in three is actually allowed. That is obviously not a case where there is routine dismissal.


My Lords, I am not saying that they are routine dismissals; I am saying that those who get them think that they are. That has still a very had effect on public opinion.

We used to be frequently invited to register protests at the closure of railway lines. But no more discouraging and depressing means could have been devised than the posters which invited us to make representations. We all knew that a good many of the objections—perhaps not one in three, but a good many—would not be successful. As chairman of a hospital management committee I got the impression that many, if not most, Ministry circulars, especially those relating to finance, were devised to keep my colleagues and myself from exercising any novel policies whatever. Just how much initiative we had was a very difficult question to answer. Of course there was always the Regional Board to blame. And when it reached them, they could always blame the Ministry; and the Ministry blamed the Treasury. Then one saw a kind of stony malaise, a kind of dissatisfaction, settling over all. In the local setting, we went on with our usual routine, hoping some day for an explosion; although it was perfectly clear that if it occurred we should have to make it ourselves.

The only way I myself got a decision about building a house, when my application had reached some kind of joint planning committee the length of whose title was a clear symbol of inefficiency and delay, was by a threat not only to appeal to the Minister but to sit in his Department until a decision was reached. You may say "Silly; unreasonable!". Perhaps it was, but it worked where nothing else had worked. That is the unfortunate truth.

Here, I think, is the real significance of demonstrations in contemporary society. Those who are concerned for the health of society, a true democracy with informed and representative decision-making, cannot but in principle welcome demonstrations. Against the features of society to which I have referred demonstrations can fulfil two different and useful purposes. First, they can proclaim and uphold ideals of which even those of us who acknowledge them can be neglectful when we are caught in that intricate professional net of administration, law and economics in which we daily struggle. Here, my Lords, as the noble Lord, Lord Beswick, remarked, is the significance of the demonstrations of the earlier nuclear disarmament movement, and, in our present day, of demonstrations to do with racism, world poverty, and hunger. That kind of demonstration, concerned to uphold an ideal, is not very far from those processions of Christian witness which took place for nearly 2,000 years; though I agree with the noble Lord, Lord Aberdare, that it is somewhat distant from the Walls of Jericho.

Not only may demonstrations uphold ideals: they can more obviously register protest. Here are demonstrations such as those of nurses protesting against inadequate salaries by sleeping out on Ilkley Moor, as the noble Lord, Lord Wade, has already mentioned. There are demonstrations made by villagers whose requests for a bus service have met with stereotyped rejections which give no evidence, whatever was the fact, of responsible consideration having been given to genuine human need.

There are demonstrations by men made redundant, who have been made redundant in such a way that they feel, rightly or not, that no consideration has been given to their interests and their welfare. They feel that they are pawns in a game of industrial and economic planning whose rules other people have devised for their own benefit. That they even think this, whatever the facts, if I may say this to the noble Lord, Lord Silkin, is a sufficient scandal. Here I am bound to recall that in recent days one of the first large-scale demonstrations in this country was by men who felt, in this case rightly, that no one in power in London knew sufficiently their needs and condition. I refer to the Jarrow marchers, who started, I am glad to recall, with a service of worship and prayer in Christ Church, Jarrow Grange, in my diocese. Never let us suppose that demonstrations are students' phenomena or mob rule. That is a gross and insensitive error.

In saying all this my Lords, I do not dispute that demonstrations are a feature of political life that needs constant vigilance, as the noble Lord, Lord Aberdare, rightly implied. Like any other warfare, whether of words or of rifles, demonstrations can give rise to abuse. They can be accompanied by violence. They can inflict grevious personal injury on police and demonstrators alike. They can encourage hangers-on, of many political beliefs or of none. All that is deplorable, as the noble Lords, Lord Aberdare and Lord Beswick, have rightly emphasised. But does this not echo something true of all human endeavour? Is there any social project worth supporting, any social reform worth making, which cannot give rise to abuse? I remind your Lordships that this is what Christians call "original sin", a fact to which we must not be blinded by the foggy language in which that doctrine is so often expressed and discussed.

Again, people get, as they say, fed up and bored with demonstrations, as they get tired of the Esso tiger, or are bored by car stickers, left or right of the window. Demonstrations must reckon with the possibility of becoming counterproductive. Further, demonstrations may be attacked, as the noble Lord, Lord Wade, reminded us, as unreasonable, as elevating the emotions above the reason. This seems to me, as I think it did to Lord Wade, to be a confused criticism. For reasoning about moral issues, reasoning about the problems of society, is not reasoning about a problem in pure mathematics where people rightly speak of cold and detached reason. Demonstrations occur precisely because so many features of our society can be called "cold" and "detached". Reasoning about moral issues is worth nothing unless, first, we open ourselves to all the facts, then recognise a moral claim and ideal, and then take appropriate action.

My Lords, the Good Samaritan had built-in reasons, even better than those which the priest and the Levite had, for passing by. But he was moved with compassion, and in being unreasonable, according to the distinction between Jews and Samaritans, who had no dealings with one another, he was eminently reasonable when his action embodied an entirely novel concept of neighbourliness which was one of the most effective demonstrations that ever occurred. Far from being unreasonable, demonstrations can, when they are safeguarded against abuse, point us to a wider reasonableness in exercising which, to say what the old liberal philosophers would have said, man is distinctively himself and a human being. This is the light—the lumen naturale—which lighteneth very man coming into the world.

But some may say that, far from having affinities in that way with natural law, demonstrations are a threat to law and order. Yesterday my bubbling Brigadier said the same. It may be said that demonstrations disturb the pattern of society. Indeed they do. But ought we not to be disturbed at the injustices, the lack of involvement, the lack of participation in decision-making, precisely at a time when we are daily becoming a better educated, better informed people? What if "law and order" is used as a catch-phrase to preclude change, or as a synonym for reaction? Law and order, like the Church itself, must always contain built-in provisions for reform, or it fails to be at all effective in bringing men to fulfilment.

I come to my conclusion, my Lords. Demonstrations, I have said, underline needs—deep-felt needs which wise Government, of any Party, must do all it can to meet: the need to provide for genuine and effective expressions of local opinion; the need to show that local opinions do matter and are responsibly considered when decisions are made; and the need to keep alive ideals in a society when those in positions of power may understandably think that they have already quite enough on their plates when they have grappled with intricate details of political strategy, high finance and economic planning. I realise that Question Time in your Lordships' House, as in another place, the Ombudsman—all these are in the right direction. However, may I suggest that more is needed? We need better safeguards than we have had so far for channelling local opinion and national opinion in a creative and responsible fashion. We need new institutional structures at the local level.

But, besides those institutional structures, which could provide for and encourage genuine local initiative, we could well benefit from what I might call (I know that this is not a novel suggestion) regional ombudsmen but, I would hope, ombudsmen with a much wider remit, responsible only to the Crown and concerned to bring into focus the needs and dissatisfactions of the community they serve. Implicitly, by their effectiveness ideals would be upheld, and I should be dismayed if in the whole of this field those regional officers did not have the support of the Churches —members and ministers, laity and clergy alike. For I believe that demonstrations, at their heart, witness to the ever-restless spirit of man; and a society which by its large-scale planning, or its large-scale business, oppression, risks, insensitivity, ignorance, or neglect, is bound to threaten that spirit and to be seen to be threatening it. This is a sober reflection, my Lords, and when demonstrations remind us of it, let us be encouraged to grapple better, which means more effectively, with the needs and human problems that underlie those demonstrations.

4.20 p.m.


My Lords, this is my maiden speech, and I should like to ask the indulgence of the House in respect of the faults there may be in it. The phenomenon of the demonstration is one that is being increasingly thrust upon us to-day. Both in terms of its use and its frequency, the demonstration is being used currently, and will no doubt be increasingly used in the future, to draw the attention of the public forcibly to some issue that is of burning interest to a minority of dedicated supporters. It is, of course, a very small minority that are involved in demonstrations, because the majority, even if deeply concerned about the issue in question, would either never demonstrate in public on principle or else would be too busy anyway to get involved.

In my submission, in a society that is becoming increasingly complex and in which, as an inevitable corollary, the State becomes ever more involved in the affairs of the individual, the peaceful—and I would underline "peaceful"—demonstration must be regarded both as an escape valve for passionate concern about an issue and as a valuable pointer by means of which the public's attention can be drawn to an outstanding issue of great social or moral concern. The peaceful demonstration can draw atten- tion to a wide variety of issues of this nature, from, for example, the plight of the homeless in our own country to the need for aid and education in under-developed countries less fortunate than our own; from the necessity, for example, to pay our own nurses an adequate wage to the moral imperative of bringing to a close a war in Africa, in which thousands of innocent children are starving to death.

But the danger in any peaceful demonstration, because of the intensity of the passions involved, is that it contains within it the seeds of violence, exemplified, on the one hand, by a tiny minority within it, who mistakenly think that in direct proportion to the violence of their actions, the public in general and the authorities in particular will be forced to take note of what they regard to be the justice of their cause. They fail to realise that when this happens, sympathy is not only lost but active hostility to the cause takes its place. On the other hand, this sympathy is even more rapidly lost when it seems that there are some demonstrators engaged in violent action in different and unconnected causes, spurred on possibly in many cases by a feeling of frustration and lack of purpose in their daily lives. These troublemakers appear harassing and attacking the police whenever they are confronted by them, and hurling verbal abuse at whatever authority, system or situation it is they disapprove of, whether it be the nuclear deterrent, the American military presence in Vietnam or the visit of the South African Springbok Rugby team.

This is the sort of demonstration with which we are becoming all too familiar to-day. Contemptuous of the law and acknowledging no agreement about routes or behaviour, this minority operate under the cloak of a much wider and quite peaceful movement whose organisers no doubt completely dissociate themselves from these troublemakers in their midst. A classic example of this type of minority demonstration, operating within a large and generally peaceful movement, was seen last year in Grosvenor Square. Here it seems that a small minority, who, influenced by the philosophy of Marcuse, attempted pathetically to overthrow established authority on the premise that the velvet glove of democracy contains within it a mailed fist which, if deliberately provoked, will reveal itself for what it is. This particular demonstration, born out of a sterile philosophy, utterly negative because it has nothing positive to offer, was engineered by a tiny minority of people who follow it. They were amply backed up by a large number of hooligans, whose sole aim was not the Utopia of anarchy but an excuse to have a "punch-up" with the police. The demonstration failed, due entirely to the superb patience and tactics of the Metropolitan Police, who must be an example to the rest of the world in handling this particular type of demonstration, because elsewhere, whether it be Tokyo University or the campus of Berkeley University in California, the police have been only too ready to over-react with the mailed fist, with disastrous results.

In deciding how to deal with a demonstration, I would submit that it is first necessary to seek its cause and, if humanly possible, to rectify it. For every demonstration is a symptom of profound dissatisfaction and concern about some social or moral issue, which either may or may not be justified. If, however, the demonstration is peaceful and concerns something which is contrary to the known policy of the Government of the day, then in accordance with our age-long tradition of free speech and free opinion, it must be allowed to continue, even if the issue itself appears to the majority to be socially and morally repugnant.

If demonstrations are symptomatic of deep public concern about certain issues, then, as a possible practical suggestion, ways might be looked into in which a more accurate assessment of public opinion could be obtained. The real opinion of the majority might be sought as a counterweight to the expressed opinion of the demonstrating minority, either before a demonstration takes place, on such topics as capital punishment, where the moral and practical implications are fairly widely known, or afterwards, on such topics as the homeless. In the latter case, a demonstration is frequently the means whereby an issue of this sort is brought to the notice of the public.

At the moment, the temperature of public opinion is taken approximately every five years at a General Election and by frequent sampling in public opinion polls, the former being exclusively concerned with Party political issues, the latter largely so. It would seem that there might be some need for a means whereby public opinion could be accurately assessed on moral and social issues that cut right across Party lines, issues as diverse as capital punishment, religious education in schools, the homeless, the adequacy of housing, the treatment of the mentally sick, the care of the aged, squatters, drug addicts, social drop-outs and the pay of nurses, teachers, doctors, police and firemen, and so on. This latter group may be loath to strike, because of the social and moral implications, yet at the same time they may feel themselves the victims of a policy on pay that they regard as unfair.

All these issues and many others could present possible situations for future demonstrations. If, first, the fullest possible information is gathered and made available on these and other similar issues before demonstrations are resorted to, and if public opinion is sampled to a degree that is wider and more accurate than the present public opinion poll, but which falls short of a public referendum, with all its pitfalls, then, in my humble submission the authorities, armed with the measured weight of public opinion behind them, may be in a better position to deal with these situations as they arise. The way in which this sort of opinion could be ascertained I have not attempted to suggest, but it should not be beyond the capability of a computerised, technological and industrial society to devise a method that is fair, accurate and not too expensive.

So much for the peaceful demonstration. It is necessary, as I have indicated, as an escape valve for passionate concern about an issue and as a pointer to stimulate public concern. Ideally, it would be better if the cause for concern that brought it into being could be dealt with before it erupted. But we do not live in an ideal world. However, once a demonstration has got under way, and it appears that it is going to be violent, then in my submission we must continue to have regard for the lessons that have been bitterly learned abroad, from Chicago to Milan, that oppressive and violent action by the police merely exacerbates a situation that is already dangerous. No praise, I think, can be high enough for the patience and professional skill with which our police have dealt with violent demostrations in our own country. Let us give them all the encouragement and support that we can: for we need not only a strong, highly skilled and professional police force to-day, but we shall need one even more so in the future if the present trend towards violence, both in terms of criminal activities and in terms of violent demonstrations, continues.

4.31 p.m.


My Lords, I am fortunate in following the noble Viscount who has just spoken in having the opportunity to congratulate him on art excellent maiden speech, both in quality and in delivery. I am sure that we all hope that he will regularly deploy his wide experience in Canada, and in other parts of the world, here in this House with the same elan as doubtless his ancestor, who I understand commanded the cavalry of Wellington in the Peninsular War, made a habit of doing.

My reason for intervening in the debate is mainly that I wish to speak on the interference with Rugby football. I am sure we are all grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Wade, for introducing this Motion, in a speech in which he gave a penetrating analysis of the problems, and a helpful catalogue of the many reasons for which demonstrations have recently occurred. He was followed by my noble friend Lord Aberdare, speaking from the Opposition Benches, whose speech contained what I thought was a most helpful and informative review, but was expressed, if I may say so, with less vehemence than that of the Shadow Member for the Home Office as recently reported in the Press. I am sure that we are all in agreement with the case as he put it. We had, too, a most helpful explanation from the noble Lord, Lord Beswick, who put his case with great moderation. It is one from which I am sure we shall all benefit when we read it to-morrow, particularly in regard to some of the legal angles which he endeavoured to explain for our benefit, and to which I shall refer again.

Many of us did, or do, enjoy taking part in or watching Rugby football. Surely a competition between two teams, however selected, is an admirable example of athletic prowess. It is for this reason that I feel profound indignation that there has been interference with good games of Rugby football. The bringing of politics into sport is reprehensible. Who is it who takes part in these demonstrations? The noble Lord who has just spoken gave a list and other noble Lords have referred to this. I suppose we must recognise that there are genuine sentimentalists, but there are also a great many professional agitators; and then, I suppose, there are a lot of rum-looking people. What do the males look like? They look like drug-addicted anarchists. What do the girls look like? They look like a cross between Christine Keeler and a "Blue Coat" boy inmate. These are the people with whom the police have to deal.

Having referred to the police, I was particularly glad that the noble Lord, Lord Beswick, paid proper tribute to them for their restraint and tolerance. This was in marked contrast with what happened in the debate recently initiated by my noble friend Lord Ferrier, when the noble Baroness, Lady Serota, replied. There was in her speech not a word in praise of the police. Incidentally, when I refer to her speech, I am unable to understand what she meant when she said that the agitation was "against a minority group". I am confident that the majority of the voters in this country are in favour of the undisturbed playing of any game of Rugby football. If it is to be a question of politics interfering with sport, you can have it in cricket—how could you contain it in a three-day match?—you can have it in tennis, in golf, and extending to the limit of absurdity.

I think it was the right reverend prelate the Bishop of Chester who referred to the selection of teams. If the selection of a South African football team is to be criticised, cannot this be extended to the Australian cricketers when they come here? If there was not a White Australia policy, there would be a mass of non-whites in Australia, and we might well have the same position. I think it was the right reverend Prelate who said that it was not we who were interfering, but the South African Government. On that basis, the Australian Government equally are interfering with sport in pursuing a White Australia policy and in preventing non-whites from going in, whereby they do not include non-whites in their teams. One could go on endlessly with an analysis of that kind. It is because I feel—and I repeat it—such indignation that I am speaking to-day.

I assume that most of your Lordships will have read the speeches made by my noble friends Lord Ferrier and Lord Wakefield the other day. They put the situation very clearly, my noble friend Lord Wakefield speaking with unsurpassed experience on matters connected with Rugby football. I am inclined to think that there is some Communist influence in this. I have in my hand a report of the Anti-Separatist Development Movement annual general meeting, and I think that a special campaign was somehow organised from a central point and pushed around. We find 200 students having their fares paid from Scotland to Swansea to try to stop the game there. This cost £1,200, and it must have been organised. Who is paying for these things? Among the names of the members who took part in the discussion in the Anti-Separationist Development Movement one sees that several are well-known Communists.

It is for that reason that I venture to suggest that there is something slanted in this. But I am puzzled. Why is there all this agitation against South Africa? Why not agitation against Russia? Last week we had the example of an escapee from, I think, Czechoslovakia, who told of the sort of treatment he was getting from Russia, and that was much less civilized than anything which is handed out anywhere in any other country. But there is no agitation against Russia. I cannot help thinking that there is some sinister association in this matter.

The Government surely have a responsibility for preserving without interference the access of crowds to see games. What has happened only approaches what can happen. Suppose that somebody wanted to demonstrate at the Cup Final at Wembley, the police would not have a hope. I remember a Cup tie after World War I, when the crowd broke out, got on the ground and delayed the game for two hours. You would need the troops to deal with that. Surely, it is the Government's responsibility to hold the ring so that games can be played without interference and so that spectators can get there without interference.

Under what Act should action be taken in this matter? We are grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Beswick, who referred to several Acts. The noble Lord, Lord Ferrier, referred to this matter in his speech the other day. I am not sure under which Act this should be. I have read all these Acts, and I have here the Act of 1926. I had some difficulty in getting a copy of it, but, thanks to the Printed Paper Office, I got it. That Act was amended and strengthened by the Act of 1963. Then there is the Race Relations Act 1965. There is enough in all that verbiage to give the Government plenty of authority to ensure that Rugby football games are continued without interference to the players or spectators.

I realise the serious work that the police have to do, and, apart from other speakers, I am grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Beswick, for having put on record to-day what he feels is justly due to them. It is in that connection that I would add a comment on the Grosvenor Square disturbance. This is quite apart from what I intended to say in regard to Rugby football. Anybody who attended that disturbance—and I watched it carefully—could perfectly easily see that the aim of the demonstrators, when they got anywhere near a ring of cameras, was to act in a way which would infuriate the police, so that there would be coverage in the Press.

In regard to the Rugby football matches, if the Press would give more reports on the game and less on the disorders, it would be much better. It is this present sensationalism which encourages these demonstrators and inflates their ego. In conclusion, may I say that I was distressed when a member of the Government, I think it was, said, or was reported to have said, recently that a permissive society is a civilised society. If that is the sort of permissiveness that is encouraged, it is not—and I repeat this—it is not a civilised society.


My Lords, I wonder whether the noble Lord would allow me—



Discipline is despised. The Government should be more emphatic in denouncing all these demonstrations, and more vigorous in the pursuit of the order in which spectators may enjoy their game.


My Lords, before the noble Lord sits down, I wonder whether I may ask him a question? Would he not agree that the basic objection that the demonstrators have at the Springbok matches—and this does not apply to Australia, as the noble Lord indicated—is the fact that the Rugby team is selected from a small minority of the population and a large section of the population is excluded? Secondly, the South African Government have themselves, by their attitude, judged other teams, in the sense that they indicated that they would refuse to take Basil d'Oliveira in our team.


My Lords, if the noble Lord had heard me correctly he would know that I said that I am among those who enjoy a good game of Rugby football, against a team selected no matter how, provided that they display and deploy proper prowess and observe the rules of the game. The noble Lord tried to draw me on the question of the internal affairs of South Africa. I would not pretend to discuss that; it is out of context in this discussion. It refers to something quite other than the subject I have been speaking about. If the noble Lord is asking for a reply on that issue, I would say that on all matters connected with South Africa my noble friend Lord Milverton, who is not at present in his place but who has been Governor of a great number of our former Colonies in Africa, must know more about the subject than most of your Lordships, and I am always ready to be subservient to his views.

4.47 p.m.


My Lords, it will be evident at this stage of the debate that the House is grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Wade, for introducing it, and I should like to thank him for the opportunity which he has given for the deployment of arguments of one kind and another and of eliciting the sort of information which is necessary for the formation of sound and moral judgments. I would ask his permission to go from this Chamber before the end of the debate as I have another imperative engagement, but I will try to return later on. It would also be seemly for me to thank the noble Viscount, Lord Combermere, for his maiden speech, as much for the promise as the performance of it, and to say how much this House will delight to pursue at greater length the matters he introduced when, as we hope, he speaks again to us.

I have no need, my Lords, to declare an interest in this subject, for, so far as I remember, I have derived no pecuniary benefits from demonstrations; at least, they have been of an invisible character. I have suffered a few disadvantages from them. It may be of help in what I have to say if your Lordships will permit me for a little to indulge in reminiscence. It seems that my whole life has been involved, in some sort or another, with demonstrations. One of my first memories is that of being taken by my mother, who was an ardent suffragette, to a suffragette meeting many, many years ago. I recollect that on that occasion I discovered facets of my mother's character which theretofore had been veiled from me.

When I was a student I took part in the hunger marches, and I think they had a greater and more dynamic effect on my own thinking and feeling than almost any other demonstration of which I have any memory. Soon after that, 43 years ago, I began a series of modest personal demonstrations, twice a week, and in fact I have just come from one of them now. During the C.N.D. demonstrations I sat down, stood up and walked around in the interests of C.N.D., and I am not ashamed of that. Throughout these many years it is not surprising that I have culled a certain number of impressions from my own direct association with demonstrations, and perhaps it will not be thought impertinent if I suggest that academically to look at them from afar, and even to study them from the pictorial representations given them by the Press, does not give that necessary immediacy which I have found. And, if I may say so, sundry references to Grosvenor Square and other demonstrations have appeared to me as being strange records of events at which I was not present, though I have the liveliest memory that I was. My overall memory of demonstrations and participation in them causes me, in the first instance, to pass a number of observations upon their significance. I will come to the implications of them later on. I am sure that the law of diminishing returns operates if there is a proliferation of demonstrations, and I think it likely that the impact of demonstrations is less than it was because there are so many of them, and because indeed so many of them now are, as my noble friend suggested they were, entirely peaceable. Furthermore, it is an experience which every demonstrator knows, to see the same familiar faces and the same kind of "stage army" at demonstration after demonstration. How much I have often looked for a red face, a red nose, at a Temperance rally! It may well be that the number of demonstrators is even smaller in proportion to the total population than some of the more melancholy observations today have suggested.

Certain it is that demonstrations have changed somewhat. It was interesting to me to hear the noble Lord, Lord Wade, refer to the amplitude of the subjects involved and the circumference of matters discussed. When I began to speak in Hyde Park 43 years ago there were very few dark faces and no dark speakers. At three o'clock last Sunday afternoon—no, it was the Sunday before; it was very wet last Sunday and I was the only speaker—there were six speakers besides myself and five of them were black, or brown. The variety of subjects dealt with and the proliferation of ideas has been one of the characteristic changes in demonstration, and it may well be that people now have a certain indigestion created by the varied diet which they are invited to give themselves.

It is also certain that there has been a marked change in the causes of demonstration from more political and essentially political issues to those which rage in the minds and hearts of people to-day, whether they are exactly and syllogistically set out or not. I have been vastly impressed by the demonstrations in which I have been involved by the burning sincerity, the fire in the belly, of a great many people. And I utterly, and with amiable contempt, refute the observations of the last speaker. I do not believe they have anything to do with the vast propor- tion of people, young and old, who are mobilised time and time again to express, not perhaps a clear view of the City of Light, but an ardent detestation of the City of Destruction.

There is yet another aspect of the demonstration which I think is relevant to this discussion to-day. It is that many demonstrators (perhaps this applies particularly to the younger members of demonstrations) have a deep sense of alienation. As my noble and ecclesiastical friend said, it appears to them that injustice prevails and that there is little they can do about it. Maybe it is their fault; maybe they are not sufficiently well informed; maybe they are hasty and impatient. But, God knows! they are speaking and demonstrating about things which for all of us must react powerfully in our own feelings. When, for instance, they object, as I heartily and often object, to the evil of apartheid, when they object to the colossal enormity of warfare, and when they feel that there is little they can do except to express their solidarity in coming together and shouting about it, and speaking about it, and feel that at least they are not entirely impotent in the present context, then so far as I am concerned, God bless them! I do not for one moment subscribe to violence—and I will say more about that in a moment. What I do subscribe to is the sense that many of these young people have been estranged, by bitter experience or by inferior information, from the normal methods of social change to which our fathers gave much greater credit than many of these youngsters do to-day.

It would be impudent of me to try to warn the Government, but it is only right of me to recall, as I think it is sensible to say from all who have experience in these matters, that the prowess and prestige of Parliament has seriously declined, and that prowess and prestige has declined partly because of the lack of idealism as represented by those in high office, and partly by the failure of the outsider to recognise the necessity of compromise that is inevitably associated with Government. It is alike a sense of frustration and a sense of inability to see with sufficient clarity what are the steps requisite and necessary to improve a given situation.

I do not know in any precise detail how this situation can be reversed; but I am sure that demonstrations will be ardently continued, and will be pressed with ever greater vigour, and perhaps with ever greater numerical strength, as the process goes on whereby a younger generation feels that it is impotent in the face of war, that its Government can do nothing to bring wars to an end. It may be that Governments have plans which will so do. It may be that the people I refer to are unduly pessimistic. But this fact of alienation is a salient fact, and we deny it at our peril. It would be ineffective to be merely diagnostic. What ought to be the attitude, as I try to see it? What ought to be the place of the demonstration in modern society? I am satisfied, in the first place, that there must be the possibility of peaceable demonstration by these people to call attention to evils which can be the more quickly dealt with if there is an intelligent response to the nature of those evils. This is an imperative part of the true democracy. And so to protest and so to demonstrate is an inalienable right which we should with great care preserve. As a pacifist I have not the slighest use for the violent demonstration which is intrinsically violent.

I would not agree with those who see a Communist behind every ugly incident. I wonder whether your Lordships realise how democratic Communists are in Opposition, and how anxious many of them are to preserve at least a facçde of democratic principles—they may behave very differently in office. The violence of the modern demonstration is a much more technical affair, sponsored by much more selective groups who have already, as I have every reason to know, undertaken specific and organised training in this particular form of terrorism or sabotage or violence, or whatever you like to call it. It is an extension of dear old Lenin's observation on the way to conduct the first stages of a revolution. They are a very small minority. Unfortunately, as Bernard Shaw points out in, I think, Everybody's Political What's What, a small group of highly trained and disciplined people can disrupt a very much larger demonstration of peaceable and decent people; and it would be foolish to deny that there are people calling themselves by various anarchistic names who have the developed conviction that the proper thing to do at the moment is to disrupt the society in which we live in order to provide the necessary basis for a better one. I have no use for them. I believe they are malevolent and dangerous. But they are, as I say, a very small minority.

But the matter is not quite so simple even as to allow us to say that all violent demonstrations, calculated in violence, are wrong. I think one must go further and say that demonstrations which, though they may be in themselves peaceable, are calculated, according to the unregenerate nature of human kind, to provoke violence are themselves wrong. To calculate, as I think one can with fair accuracy, that if you embark upon a certain peaceable invasion of a particular piece of ground you will by that very process be encouraging, and probably making inevitable, a violent response in which you yourself and the police will be involved—I think this is a much more delicate and difficult matter upon which we have to make our judgments.

Perhaps your Lordships will permit an anecdote. Some years ago I was in Australia and went to that most remarkable place, some 500 miles from Adelaide and 500 miles from Sydney, in the heart of the desert, a place called Broken Hill, where there are practically no laws at all. I was anxious to conduct a Christian demonstration. Those who had invited me felt that my own oratory was not sufficient to accumulate any kind of crowd, and they appealed to the chief of police. He said that he could guarantee a crowd if I let him choose the place where the particular demonstration could be held. And, believe it or not, my Lords, he did. He chose the crossroads of Broken Hill; and very soon, of course, people who could not get through gathered round and we had a most successful meeting. I think I ought to mention that the chief of police was a Godly Methodist. Quite apart from that, there was no reaction of violence because they did not care a fig whether they spent an hour at the crossroads listening to me or doing something else. There was no urgency to get on with what they were doing, as those who have ever visited Broken Hill will know. But it is an entirely different situation when, by a peaceful demonstration, however peaceful it is, certain people obstruct others in the pursuance of what they regard as their lawful and habitual practices.

So I come to the question of the Springboks. If I may say in amity to the previous speaker, I think he ought to have baled his hay before he delivered it. Indeed most of what he said was irrelevant—even that part of it which was articulate. One thing I would say to him in all fairness is that it is no argument against demonstrations in general to point out that some demonstrations are in themselves disreputable. What I believe to be the situation with regard to the Springboks is this. I shall go and demonstrate on Saturday week. I shall go peaceably, and I shall stay outside the ground. I shall endeavour to speak, with others, to those who care to listen to what I have to say in order calmly and, I hope, with dispassionate zeal, to present the case—which of course has not been presented by the previous speaker.

This is not a question of whether Rugby football takes precedence over every other human activity: it is whether we are condoning a lie in the very soul of Rugby football if we designate a team which is a minority team as having the authority and prestige of coming from a country where the vast majority of people have not the least chance of kicking a ball. That is the issue. What I shall not do is to go inside to watch the match or endeavour to invade the pitch. I should very much like to see the match, and I shall be presented with a delicate moral issue later that night when I shall have the opportunity to see it on television. I could almost wish that the matter would be settled for me by something like a thunderbolt destroying my machine before I have the difficult job of making that conscientious decision. Any advice that any Member of the House may like to give me afterwards might perhaps assist me.

Strictly speaking, my Lords, the situation is that there are a great many people in this country who feel that the question of apartheid needs ventilation at the point at which crowds can be gathered to hear it; and there is a deep sense that those who execrate apartheid, as I do, should have the opportunity of coming together in such a way as to fortify one another. Finally, I believe that only by a public opinion which is so educated and peaceably enjoined in these matters is there a reasonable hope that this evil, as well as many other evils for which demonstrations are promoted, will one day finally be done away with.


My Lords, before the noble Lord sits down, may I ask him what conclusions he draws from the fact that the students who demonstrate most vocally against apartheid do not demonstrate against the appalling slaughter of the African tribes in the Southern Sudan or, for instance, the holocaust in Zanzibar, or the march of the Russians into Hungary or Czechoslovakia?


But they do.


My Lords, I could quote many massacres in Africa which have not provoked such demonstrations by students in this country.


My Lords, I wonder whether I might appeal to the noble Viscount, Lord Massereene and Ferrard. Of course, it is for the House to say how the debate is to be conducted, but if the noble Viscount has these interesting comments to make would it not be better if he made them in a speech, like other noble Lords?


My Lords, the noble Lord stopped me before, but there is such a thing as free speech.


My Lords, if I am in order in speaking again, there are two answers to that question. One is that factually many of these students do exactly what the noble Viscount says they do not do; and secondly, it is no condemnation of one evil if, for lack of time or enthusiasm, all the other evils are not also dealt with by those who object to that particular evil. One at a time is a very good rule for dealing with sin as well as with most other human things.

5.5 p.m.


My Lords, at this point in the debate if those who intend to speak are possessed of a blue pencil they are probably wise to use it. I shall certainly do so and shall not detain the House too long. However, at the beginning I should like to pay tribute to the notable maiden speech made by the noble Viscount, Lord Combermere —to its structure and persuasiveness—and indeed to the general tone of the debate, which I feel has been most useful. I am delivered from speaking at great length by the speaker immediately preceding me. I thought he made his points with delightful persuasiveness, and therefore he relieves me of having to say very much.

My Lords, it would ill become a Bishop to object to demonstrations and to the freedom which they imply. As has already been pointed out, Christians have been the foremost of demonstrators all down the ages. They have been foremost in making processions and in all similar activities. One of my predecessors in the See of Manchester, Bishop Knox, led a famous procession from Manchester to London at the time of one of the Education Acts. Demonstrations demonstrate the idealism and social concern of many people, and sometimes demonstrations are the only way of getting under the skin of bureaucracy and of government. Having said that, is it not right to go on to say that enough is enough? I feel sure that many of your Lordships will have met with a groan the persistent appearance of demonstrations on the television screen.

What are the causes of these demonstrations? Enough has already been said on that subject, but the first seems to me to be the fact that authority to-day, without real consultations, is unacceptable to most people. That is a fact, no matter how we explain it. It is true in industry, it is true in education, it is true in the Civil Service. Secondly, the younger generation to-day do not see what has been done. They do not remember 1929–30, with the hunger marchers and the social conditions of those times. For the most part they have inherited the Welfare State. Therefore the older members of society are inclined to see the great advance that has been made; the younger to see the great advance that has yet to be made. Thirdly and lastly, although there are many reasons and causes for demonstrations, I believe that the effect of television, and of the Press to a much lesser extent, is one of the real causes for the provocation of demonstrations.

To take a hypothetical example: if a few of your Lordships were to process up and down the square outside with sandwich boards over your shoulders, saying that you objected to—what shall we say?—bowing to the Throne, because it was an act of idolatory, you may be sure that if you continued to do it for half an hour you would have plenty of television cameras and Press men around you, and the whole thing would appear in every national newspaper the next day. But what would be its significance? Nothing, except that a certain number of our Members had had serious mental aberration.

It seems to me that to-day many of the demonstrations that appear on television are largely without significance, but the people who demonstrate in that way are wise. If you wish to show some goods on Independent Television you probably have to pay for your advertisement at the rate of £1,000 a minute. But you can very easily, with a few placards and a bit of a row with the police, get maybe three minutes on the B.B.C. or I.T.V. for nothing at all; and there are many people who know that.

What can be done to take the burden off the police? One point that has not hitherto been mentioned in the debate is that although it is the task of the police to preserve an ordered democracy, and they have a duty in regard to demonstrations, in many ways their prime duty is in regard to crime. With our crime statistics rocketing up, certainly in Manchester, I find it very difficult to justify the drawing off of a huge police force to look after these demonstrations. As regards the way in which they could be dealt with, police consultation has already been mentioned, and I hope that such consultation will be increasingly resorted to. The police—and I would pay tribute, as many speakers have done, to their exemplary conduct—have a heavy role to bear. Not only have they long hours, but "P.C. 49" has also to bear the noise of the demonstration; and if a man has to bear noise continuously for six, seven or eight hours it is a very trying thing indeed. After all, the police are only human, and sooner or later there are bound to be ugly incidents. I think a great deal could be done through consultation between the police and those who organise demonstrations.

My second suggestion is this. I wonder whether it would not be possible—whether or not it is legally possible I do not know —to provide that any person convicted of violence in a demonstration should be debarred by the court from taking part in any other demonstration for a period of two years: that he should be, as it were, put on probation. If that were to happen, would it not mean that in course of time that rowdy element, that anarchistic element, that element which does wish to provoke violence, would gradually be weeded out, and that peaceful demonstration would have a chance?

Finally, I suggest—although it is not one that can be implemented by Her Majesty's Government—that the television authorities, both B.B.C. and I.T.A. should be much more guarded in their coverage. The television at present, I believe, actually provokes demonstrations, demonstrations which are quite unnecessary. I am fortified in this opinion by an interesting address which was given by Sir Robert Fraser, the Director-General of I.T.A., on "Troubles of Democracy", and, if your Lordships will forgive me, I should like to read one short paragraph from that.

He said: Northern Ireland will serve as an example of our own problem in journalism and in television. The Cameron and Hunt Reports repay reading, not least these 15 lines from the Hunt Report"— and he quotes: 'We feel bound to deplore the extent to which some Press and television coverage of these events has resulted in magnifying, in the minds of readers and viewers, the actual extent of the disorders, in generalising the impression of misconduct by the police and of bad relations between the police and public, while sometimes failing correspondingly to illustrate the calm which has prevailed in most parts of Ulster, or the degree of deliberate provocation, the danger and the strain under which the police, frequently and for long periods, tried to do their duty, as well as the fact that the great majority acted not only with courage but with restraint. Such impressions may, as in this instance, do harm to the future maintenance of law and order and the restoration of confidence upon which this so largely rests. We wish to take this opportunity to correct the perspective'. Sir Robert Fraser adds this comment: One should not bridle at these words, nor brush them aside. They deserve to be remembered. How can we be sure, we in the newspapers and television, that we have quite succeeded in giving the balanced account or securing the balanced pictures that self-government needs as its guide? How do we do justice to quiet virtue and the peaceful ones? I do not know the answer to Sir Robert Fraser's question, but I am sure of one thing: this is a question to which both television and Press will in the near future have to address themselves very seriously and urgently. It is not a question which should be left to the intuition or to the news nose of some nameless individual in some office. In television and Press, I think it is true to say, too much coverage has been devoted to events of too little significance; too much to too little, and too little to the great issues of to-day—too little to too much. And so I hope that one result of this debate may be that television and Press will listen to the words of Sir Robert Fraser, if not to me, and try to see how television, at any rate, can play a considered and legitimate part in democracy to-day.

5.17 p.m.


My Lords, as I look at the list of speakers, I feel that I am a very weak centre playing in the middle of what otherwise would be a very powerful three-quarter line, with the noble Lord, Lord Soper, on one wing and the noble Lord, Lord Macleod of Fuinary, on the other; and I am not quite sure whether I am playing left or right centre with the right reverend Prelate, the Bishop of Manchester. But if perhaps this afternoon I do a bit of thrusting and straight running, and not much passing, I hope that I may be forgiven. With others, I would pay tribute to the noble Lord, Lord Wade, for the reasoned and balanced way in which he has opened this debate. May I also join with others in congratulating the noble Viscount, Lord Combermere, on his maiden speech? I hope that we may hear him frequently in this House.

I spoke at some length in the debate we had a fortnight ago on the working of the Race Relations Act, and I speak again tonight only because of the support I have had for the views that I expressed on that occasion and because of my dissatisfaction with the Government reply to that debate, which is so closely connected with to-day's debate. To a certain extent the noble Lord, Lord Beswick, has remedied the Government's previous shortcomings. Nevertheless, it was most noticeable, I thought, how in the debate a fortnight ago the Government were given an excellent opportunity to do two things. First, they could have condemned outright the invasion of private property by persons, many of whom appear to be foreigners, using abusive, obscene and provocative words, determined to disrupt peaceful and lawful proceedings with a view to creating violence. They did not do so, although they have done so to-day —but with the reservation, if I understood the noble Lord, Lord Beswick, aright, that the consequential violence to peaceful demonstration could be more effective.

Secondly, they could have condemned the fact that people were causing disturbances and creating violence in public places, as well as using threatening, abusive and insulting words, in order to stir up hatred against a section of the public distinguished by colour, race, or ethnic or national origins. Again they did not do so. To-day we have had from the noble Lord, Lord Beswick, an authoritative statement on the powers available to the Government, and they appear to be adequate to deal with the kind of violence and disruption of leisure activities that have been taking place recently.

Section 6 of the Race Relations Act says that a person shall be guilty of offence if he uses words which are threatening, abusive or insulting, likely to stir up hatred against any section of the public on grounds of colour, race, or ethnic or national origins. Section 7 is a substitution of Section 5 of the Public Order Act 1936, so that any person using threatening, abusive, or insulting words or behaviour with intent to provoke a breach of the peace, or whereby a breach of the peace is likely to be occasioned, is guilty of an offence. Yet the noble Baroness, Lady Serota, in her reply a fortnight ago, suggested that the Race Relations Acts did not apply to the demonstrations now taking place wherever the Springboks play a game of Rugby football.

My Lords, if that is indeed the case, what is the purpose of these Acts? It seems to me that nothing could be clearer, or more obvious, to anyone who has seen some —a minority—of the demonstrators at work, as I have, than that their sole purpose is to stir up hatred against the Springboks on racial grounds because of the racial policies being pursued in South Africa. And this has been done, and is being done, by the use of threatening, abusive and insulting language; by deliberate disruption, accompanied by violence, of lawful and peaceful activities taking place on private property. This being so, why do the Government not prosecute, either under the Race Relations Acts or under the Public Order Act 1936, as amended? Without any doubt at all, hundreds of offences under Section 5 of this Act have taken place; and guilty persons can be sent to prison for a year, or fined £500, or both.

What I am so concerned about is the failure of the Government emphatically to state that they are not going to allow a small minority of people to cause disorder, because of course, as the noble Lord, Lord Soper, has already said, it is only a small minority that is causing disorder and creating violence. If the Government were to state that no longer would they tolerate a few people creating disorder and violence, and using abusive and threatening language; that they would use to the full the powers they have of imprisonment and/or heavy fines, then these disturbers of the peace, these few disturbers of the peace would realise that the Government meant business and disorder would cease.

If the Government do not take firm action, as indeed they can do if they wish, it seems to me that they are failing to protect the rights of all those who, like the noble Lord, Lord Soper, may wish to demonstrate peacefully and lawfully, and they are placing in jeopardy that ancient right and privilege of peaceful demonstration. At present it seems that a few determined people, not infrequently foreigners, can if they so wish create disorder and disrupt our way of life. My Lords, that is anarchy. What is the difference between people blowing whistles to disrupt play, using filthy words, invading the playing pitch and doing everything they can to stop the playing of a game of football, and their doing the same thing at a concert in the Albert Hall or at an opera at Covent Garden, or invading the Centre Court at Wimbledon because they wish to demonstrate and show their dislike of somebody or something? The noble Lord, Lord Beswick, as I have already suggested, seemed to me to say that this kind of action would be more likely to be effective than peaceful demonstration.

A few days ago there appeared in the Guardian a letter from Mr. Laithwaite, in which he said that my noble friend Lord Ferrier and I appeared not to have a serious grasp of the issues. With great respect, it is not my noble friend and I who have not grasped the issues, it is Mr. Laithwaite and those who, by their behaviour, are threatening and undermining our freedom and way of life in this country. What Mr. Laithwaite is advocating in his letter to the Guardian is that because I profoundly disagree with the suppression of freedom in Russia, and because I oppose the Russian invasion of Czechoslovakia and the suppression of freedom in that country, then I should be allowed to demonstrate, as a means of expressing my views, by invading Mr. Laithwaite's house and grounds when he is entertaining his Russian friends to chess and tennis (which he is fully entitled to do), and disrupt the playing of those lawful and peaceful games, while at the same time using abusive, threatening and obscene language. I consider that I have no such right, and were I to take such action I should be guilty of an offence either under the Race Relations Acts or the Public Order Act.

Behaviour of this kind—and it has been reported in the Press, as no doubt your Lordships have seen, that certain Members of another place intend to take this kind of action—can only lead to anarchy. Those who sit in either House of Parliament should respect the laws for which they are responsible and do their best to uphold them, otherwise the law is brought into disrespect and so is Parliament.

I applaud the action that the noble Lord, Lord Soper, is proposing to take on Saturday week. That is the way in which views ought to be put over to other people, and I would hope that in the long run that will be far more effective than violence, the interruption of the game and the use of filthy language on the field of play.

Only a few days ago, as has been mentioned, we read in the newspapers of the disgraceful denial of free speech at the London School of Economics, aided and abetted by people who, I should have thought, more than anybody else ought to be defending those very rights and privileges which by their actions they are undermining. It seems to me, and indeed to many others as well, that such people ought not to be in receipt of public funds for further education because they are not fit persons to receive this subsidy at the public expense. It would be far better for them, and for everybody else as well, if they were earning their own living, instead of spending their time in using up the hard-won savings and earnings of others to prevent freedom of speech.

There are now available through the media of television and radio, newspapers and magazines, together with discussion groups of all kinds, immense opportunities for the exchange of information and for the dissemination of every kind of opinion and viewpoint. I was extremely interested in what I thought were the most useful and constructive remarks made by the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Manchester, who spoke before me, and I agree very much with the views that he expressed. These modern means of inter-communication are available to those who wish to influence public opinion. There is in this country freedom for a mass of like-minded people to demonstrate peacefully and lawfully their viewpoint or grievance. There is, therefore, no justification or excuse for the kind of provocative, deliberate, and violent interference with free speech and with the lawful and peaceful pursuits of people enjoying leisure-time activities such as we have endured recently and are threatened with next summer.

To me, the issue is a simple one. Are the Government, with all the powers that are available to them, going to enforce respect for law and order, or are we to slide into anarchy? At the beginning of my speech I said that there were two things that the Government could have done when replying to the debate a fortnight ago, and that on that occasion they did neither. They could have condemned the invasion of private property for the purpose of causing disorder and provocation by the use of filthy, threatening and abusive language. They did not do so; and even to-day I do not think the Government have firmly said that they are not going to countenance such things. A fortnight ago, too, when I invited the Government to do so, they could have commended the police for the calm, patient and outstanding manner in which they are discharging their difficult and exacting duties in the public interest in all parts of the United Kingdom. I am glad that in this debate others have paid tribute to the work of the police; and although the speaker on behalf of the Government did not do so a fortnight ago I am glad that to-day the noble Lord, Lord Beswick, has been more forthcoming.

Even if the Government were not willing on that occasion to pay tribute where tribute is so well deserved, at least large numbers of the public have recently been able to see for themselves, and judge accordingly, the work of that very fine body of men who do their best, frequently under the most difficult circumstances, to ward off anarchy and preserve law and order to enable us to enjoy our lawful and peaceful pursuits, as the noble Lord, Lord Aberdare, has already said. At least I know that as well as speaking for myself, I am also speaking for the vast majority of our fellow citizens when I say to the police, "Thank you, with great gratitude, for what you are doing, at the expense of your week-ends, to enable other people to enjoy their week-ends".

5.32 p.m.


My Lords, my first word must be one of sympathy for the noble Lord, Lord Wakefield of Kendal, in finding himself in the position in which he did. If it is not an impertinence, I should like to congratulate him on scoring, according to his views, an excellent try. I only regret that I cannot convert this try from the point of view of my profession, because for the sake of brevity I am going to speak on the other side in many regards, though not in regard to his essential design. For the sake of brevity, may I make three points in single sentences? First of all, I am in favour of demonstrations without exception. Secondly, whenever I say "demonstrations" I am referring throughout to non-violent demonstrations. Thirdly, while nearly all my illustrations refer to student demonstrations, simply because I have special interests in that area, and therefore am in touch with statistics in that area, my remarks are intended to apply to demonstrations generally, and only incidentally relate to student demonstrations.

Why am I in favour of demonstrations simpliciter? It is because I submit that a new method of democratic representation is required—interim, if you like—because the old methods are most gravely failing us. This is so obvious that again I think we can be quite brief. Perhaps I can further explain my position by saying that I go further to the Left than does the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Durham, in his magnificent speech, but I find myself not satisfied with the fullness of his presentation. Can we put it in this way? Several times the Labour Party's Annual Conference has spoken out against our involvement in Vietnam, yet such involvement is very much the continuing policy of the Labour Government. Like many of your Lordships, I know what our problems are here, and it is for this reason that I do not know the answer within our present democracy. But the fact of the matter is that, whether it is one Party or another Party, the generality of people are not being represented by the kind of views they express when they send representatives to the Labour Conference or, for that matter, to the Tory Conference. So there is the first way in which democracy can be said not to be working.

Coming down a step, but still keeping within Parliamentary democracy, we find there is local control in our various Parties. It has been reckoned—I confess that this figure is seven years old, but I do not think it would be very different to-day —that in the city of Glasgow, between General Elections, at all the local meetings of Parties, including the Conservatives, Liberals, Labour and Communist, and leaving out paid agents (I am not speaking cynically, but leaving out those people who are there full-time) something like 2,000 persons of all Parties, including the Communists, attend the monthly gatherings of this or that Party. Why is that? It is not because of anything sinister, in the sense of corruption, but simply because, human nature being what it is, as has been pointed out by the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Durham, the people in office just do not want large gatherings to come together. So-and-so is in the chair and has been in the chair for a long time, somebody else is secretary and somebody else is treasurer, and the last thing they really want is a large number of people coming together to upset this on-going local situation. So again people in the constituencies say increasingly, cliché upon cliché, that they do not really believe in democratic government.

I myself came to membership of the Labour Party through my membership of the Co-operative Party. We all know what the Co-operative Party was founded to do: it was to ensure that, by-passing capitalistic interests, people should share and thereby be able to cut down the price of the products they bought, and that they should meet together constantly to review the situation. Everybody knows—and I am talking about human nature, not about corruption—that for some time now a caucus has run the Co-operative Party, that we are the "also-rans" and that it is certainly not worth while going to meetings. Again, democracy knocked down.

Lest that seem to be all on one side of the case, does not the same apply in regard to shareholding? I am now talking of money markets. I personally hold some shares in a bank, somewhat to the North of Manchester. I hold a minimal number of shares, but at least I hold shares in a bank. I open the paper one morning and find that this bank is to be amalgamated with another bank. In due time, some months later, there is to be a shareholders' meeting. I was rather amused, when I got my call to the shareholders' meeting. The agenda read that at two o'clock the amalgamation of the two banks would be before the gathering.

This gathering was held in an hotel with seats for less than 200, for the shareholders of one of our largest banks. I was informed that at two o'clock the matter of the amalgamation would be brought up, and that at 2.15 matters arising from the amalgamation would be dealt with. I was amused to find that 15 minutes was to be allowed us to decide whether we should amalgamate with another bank. Should I have been amused? Should I have gone to the meeting? Should anyone go to such a meeting? Once more, in this regard, the caucus has organised the situation. Be it banks, be it co-operatives, be it Labour, be it Conservative, it is all done for us. There is a rabid indifference to democratic processes.

Now nature abhors a vacuum, and things can become quite serious if we do not pay any attention to this state of affairs, both at the national level and at the local level. If a vacuum is here, can dictatorship be far behind? Therefore, as an interim measure it seems to me that a new method of democratic representation is required if people are not going to lose interest altogether. May I give an absurd instance? There are 9,000 students in Glasgow University. An election was held for student representation, in which all the students had a vote. As the committed few were going about saying, "Be sure to come back on Tuesday and vote", they were constantly met with the phrase, "We belong to the apathetic majority". This phrase has been distributed among hundreds of students—"We belong to the apathetic majority". That is the situation which is rapidly growing up as (shall we use the word?) a caucus. I do not use it in a sinister sense, but, as was so well said by the right reverend Prelate, it is because of the complexity and because people are not being allowed to decide.

You may say that you can write to your M.P. But may I give two very short instances of that?—not in connection with Parliament or Members of Parliament. I spoke in a rather well-advertised service held in a Scottish town; and there I was talking about the prostitution of science in our universities where science is being sold to the American Forces (in an issue to which I will refer in a minute). It happened that the American consul was present at the service; and the service was not over half an hour before he was on the 'phone for twenty or more minutes to the Minister of the parish and then for another twenty minutes to the Lord Provost of the town pointing out the gross inaccuracies and exaggerations of my speech.

I immediately wrote to the consul giving my full figures, facts and sources. I assured him that I should be speaking at another meeting which would have even greater publicity and would be attended by even more people, and that nothing would give me greater pleasure than to withdraw my inaccurate information about the prostitution of science in our universities. I received neither answer nor acknowledgment. I rang to find that the letter had been received; but having said that I was speaking in those terms because I was speaking of things outside the interest of the caucus, the result was: "Pay no attention; the man is grossly exaggerating. Do not even reply to his letters."

Again, when I was representing my particular denomination in an interdenominational group that went to the Holy Land and then called in on Athens, we went as a group to the Cathedral and were received by His Beatitude the Archbishop of Athens, or, strictly speaking, by his representative, also a Bishop. Such was the sycophancy of the statement which was made on our behalf to the people of Greece that I found myself, almost to my own surprise, going forward and asking permission—in, oh! so short a sentence—to plead with the Archbishop to assure me that torture was not taking place at the present time in Greece, so that I could carry that information back to my church and other churches. He assured me that no such thing had happened in Greece and would not happen. Shortly afterwards I found chapter and verse in newspapers. I took chapter and verse and wrote to His Beatitude and to his interpreter, and I wrote also to the Greek Embassy, pointing out that these were issues of a kind which seemed to belie what was said by His Beatitude. There was no reply and no acknowledgment—as if to say, "Just leave it aside and say we are talking out of turn."

All this is a build up of the sense in which democracy is going down. In the demonstrations, certain factors are not getting through because the Press (consciously or unconsciously; and I think largely unconsciously, but sometimes consciously) is part of this government by mass—massive Parties, massive co-opera- tives, massive mergers—that rule our land. The vast majority of the people feel that they have no say in it, for the simple reason that they have no way in.

Therefore, as an interim measure, I suggest we should have demonstrations until we find something better in regard to this mass production of democracy in our time. Take the students in Japan. We see pictures of them on television from time to time. We read of a thousand students in the last month having been arrested. What are they protesting about in Japan? Does it ever appear in the Press? This is the historic clause inserted in the Constitution of Japan after the Second World War, largely put there by the American people but with the agreement of the Japanese Legislature. I quote: We renounce for ever war or the threat or use of force as a means of settling conflicts between nations. I continue quoting: Land, sea and air forces will never be maintained. That is the law and order that is still in force in Japan.

What in fact do we find in Japan? We find that Japanese arms expenditure in 1959 was 100-million yen. The forecast for arms expenditure for their own purposes around 1969–70 is 2,340 billion yen. It has gone up 2,340 times. Their supplies to the United States, from artillery to toilet paper, are worth now two billion dollars a year to the military industrial complex. The students of Japan say, "Is that your law and order? Is that your interpretation of what is still on our Statute Books?" Because the people who are putting these boys in prison (and most of their efforts are non-violent) are the people who are incurring these expenditures against what their law and order provides. Do we want the students of Japan to sit down to this situation? Do we want Japan to become a nuclear power? If we are going to say that it should not become a nuclear power, why should not the students say what I have said they have been saying?

To come back to this country equally briefly (and this is the figure which upset the American consul), people were very impatient about the Sussex students who demonstrated in 1968, but how many know that in 1967 the U.S. Army and the U.S. Air Force spent half a million dollars asking for scientific experiments to be made in our universities in order to assist them to discover what they should do next in Vietnam? The sum of £23,000 was sent to Sussex University in one year to prostitute the laboratories of Sussex University and to ensure, not that students dealt with pure science but that they did the kind of experiments in the scientific laboratories which would contribute to the knowledge of the American Air Force and the American Army. I hope that your Lordships do not get me wrong. "U.S." stands for United States and also for "us"; and I am not speaking of the "U.S." as against "us" in this situation. I am saying that this is going on. Do we want the students of Sussex to sit down under a situation in which science is being prostituted in order that the American Forces in Vietnam may fight more effectively?

I pass from the merely university issue to the issue of money, the issues of loans. I am talking about loans for houses—for instance, a loan on a 40-year basis for a house costing £6,000. How many people know that by the time the man gets the key to the door he has paid over £21,000 for that £6,000 house? In Germany, if a man has three children and an income of not more than £1,600 he can borrow at one per cent., or a little more than one per cent. If you tell me that the Government in Germany are paying back the 7 per cent. to the finance houses which are losing 7 per cent. of the 8 per cent. that we are being charged, then you are telling me something.

It is a perfectly possible thing to have loans going out whereby buyers of a £6,000 house do not at the end of the day pay £21,000, or indeed more. All this can be extended to the situation of money in the world situation. Take the starving children in the world to-day. I know for a fact that if you made a queue, one behind the other, of all the starving children in the world to-day—not merely the under-nourished, but the starving—it would extend for 21,000 miles. That is the issue to-day; and in that situation democratically we are doing nothing about the fact that in 1968 Germany put in store 80,000 tons of butter—and it is still in store. In 1967 France destroyed 10,000 tons of apples and 12,000 tons of cauliflowers—and it takes a good many cauliflowers to get 12,000 tons. There were 2,000 tons of tomatoes destroyed by France in 1967. Pro rata, Holland and Belgium did the same thing.

When the noble Earl, Lord Cromer, was Governor of the Bank of England, a heading in one of the financial papers referred to the Prime Minister as "Lord Cromer's poodle". Was there laughter or protest because the Prime Minister of Great Britain had been referred to as "Lord Cromer's poodle"? This is in the same way as the President of the United States is the poodle of international interests—I do not say "nefarious" international interests: I believe that they are interests which are terrified and almost paralysed by their inability to know what to do about the situation. I am talking about whether democracy is working and whether there are even the most incidental democratic situations. Are we to laugh or have a revolution at the recent revelation indicated in one of the financial newspapers by the headline, World wheat market. Danger of a surplus. With 21,000 miles of starving children, my Lords, it appears that it is a threat to have a surplus!

Demonstrations will grow. It is said that so rapid is change that we can take things into our heads but not into our beings. This is true. How far have we taken into our heads the significance of the rapid growth of the student population? How much less have we taken into our beings the significance of the rapid growth of the student population? In Glasgow University the number of whole-time teaching staff (I am talking not about laboratory assistants, but about lecturers and professors), is the same as the number of students was in 1905. Five years ago, there were 5,000 students, to-day there are 8,000. By present reckoning, in less than ten years there will be 17,000 students. Taken over the whole country, ten years ago there were approximately 115,000 students, including those at teacher-training colleges. In ten years time there will be 500,000 students. In twenty years time the student population will have quadrupled. When I was at Princeton University a few weeks ago I was told that the number of negro students there now equals the number of white students there twenty years ago. My Lords, this proliferation in the number of students is gradually seeping into our minds, but to what extent is it seeping into our beings? Unless we take time by the forelock, most of these people will begin to doubt the democratic process.

I close with a quotation from Herman Goering, who was Hitler's right-hand man, and who, when making his defence at the Nuremberg trials, said this: Of course the people do not want war. Why should some poor slob from a farm risk his life in a war when the best he can get out of it is to come home in one piece? It is the leaders who determine policy. And it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether under a democracy or under a dictatorship. Just tell them they are threatened. Denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and for exposing the country to danger. It is the same in any country. My Lords, how many of us are aware in our beings that not just 5,000 or 7,000, but hundreds of thousands—and across the world millions—of people are determined not to be "slobs" any longer? They are now educated and determined not just to "buy it" because in fact they do now know the facts.

The right reverend Prelate, the Bishop of Durham, gave us leave to speak in religious terms. I believe that we are living in a demonic age—at least, I hope that we are not living in a rational age, in the sense that I hope it is not rational that we can possibly decide in the last resort to fire a Polaris, which carries in its belly the equivalent of the accumulated fire power of all the explosive used by both sides during the last war, including the Hiroshima bomb and the Nagasaki bomb, at a city 2,000 miles away, to kill in one morning a million men, women, children and babies. Why we lift our eyebrows about Pinkville I cannot imagine. Is it contemplated so to use a Polaris, without having warned the recipients that a war is to take place? And to do what?—to prove Christanity over against Communism. In other words, to prove our belief in the infinite value of the human personality over against the collectivism in which the Russians believe, we would start by killing off, in the course of a morning, one million infinitely valuable human personalities. I hope that we are demon- possessed to contemplate such a possibility.

I hope that we are demon-possessed, too, if it is true—as we are told by the B.B.C.—that if all the money being spent by all the nations on armaments were used to distribute free food we could give a square meal every day to everybody in China, India, Africa, and South America, without putting a penny on income tax anywhere. Faced with these thoughts, my Lords, I ask: are we rational? I hope that we are demon-possessed, obsessed with a demon of fear. Until a new objective arrives, until a new magnetic North Star is seen to give the world a common objective, let us have interim democratic processes to let the people know that we are, in fact, listening to them.

5.58 p.m.


My Lords, the House is greatly indebted to the noble Lord, Lord Wade, who has done so much for the cause of human rights in this House and in another place, for enabling your Lordships to discuss a matter of enormous topical importance. Demonstrations are topical, but as the noble Lord, Lord Aberdare, pointed out, they have been taking place, in one form or another, since well before Christ was born. We are also indebted to the noble Viscount, Lord Combermere, for a maiden speech of great distinction to which he had devoted a great deal of thought.

The Oxford Dictionary defines "demonstration" as an outward display of military force or offensive movement. The latter part of the definition is the most commendable one, because demonstrations can be peaceful and are invariably much more effective when they are.

This is a two-part Motion. The significance of a demonstration is what is achieved and at whom it is directed. Its implications are the impact on the community and whether the target has been reached. The Motion refers to "present-day society". Young people, who are always regarded as the most prolific demonstrators, have always been in that mood. Many of my own age group were doing some form of National Service when we were of an age when we might have been marching in Hyde Park, demonstrating against war or some other matter which failed to take our fancy. But even those of us in the Services, where one is not allowed to march in demonstrations, had our own means of demonstrating our feelings. If we were doing bayonet practice, for example, and felt frustrated about something, we could give an extra thrust to the bayonet to work off our frustration.

It seems to me that the trouble with present-day demonstrators is that they do not really know what they are demonstrating about. If I may quote one example, during the 1966 General Election I was speaking at an open air meeting on Chiswick Green in support of a friend of mine. In front of a fairly large audience were a few young men shouting, "Vietnam; Americans out!" This went on like a gramophone record whose needle had got stuck in the groove. Eventually, even some of the older and, I think, wiser friends of these young men got fed up. Having disregarded these interruptions for some time, I pointed to one of the young men and politely asked him, "Can you enlighten us as to where Vietnam is?" And the group of them marched off quickly.

I sometimes wonder whether those who quite sincerely demonstrate about Vietnam, Biafra or apartheid really know what these things mean. Of course, they are entitled to air their views by peaceful means. Many of us have great reservations about the way in which apartheid has been used in the past in South Africa. But I believe much has been done recently to make things more liberal. Much has been said about the Springbok Rugby tour and about the police, to whom I pay my own warm tribute. On these occasions the British police carry out their duties with a patience and fortitude which no words can describe.

What is the answer to those young people who say that if they cannot go to Twickenham and kick up a row because a country has sent a team of Rugby football players of all one colour, how are they to express their feelings? I would draw their attention to some of the other matters about which they could quite reasonably demonstrate. Take the number of men who have been severely injured during the past two world wars. I am thinking about this as a member of the British Legion, who has taken part in a number of charity walks and who hopes to take part in more in the future. These walks are demonstrations. They are demonstrations of loyalty towards those who have sacrificed their limbs, and in some cases their lives, for this country. To be fair, many young people do take part in these walks, but far more young people could do so. If any of them feel that by helping the British Legion they are helping those who fight and kill other people, I would accept that argument without agreeing with it, but what about the homeless and such organisations as Shelter? I do not agree with all that Shelter does, but I believe that by helping Shelter we are helping many homeless people.

I believe that those who wish to take part in protest marches should indict both the present Government and past Governments because they have not solved the housing shortage and cleared up the slums and have failed to provide sufficient hospitals. So by all means let those who wish to demonstrate use their two legs on charity walks. The money from these walks could help to pay the nurses, to whom we owe so much. I think that is one way in which we should look at demonstrations.

Finally, may I say that the many and elaborate media of communication will invariably focus their attention on incidents like the events at Grosvenor Square. I think most of us would deplore the violence that was used there by a minority of demonstrators. Most of us would deplore the violence used in our Rugby football grounds. But if we were able to put on some of the counter-attractions which I have suggested, and if many more young people were to take part in these walks, for causes which give a good reason for demonstrations, perhaps the publicity could be given to them. Then the word "demonstration", which after all has Greek democratic origins, would no longer be the dirty word which it so often is now.

4.10 p.m.


My Lords, I should like to thank the noble Lord, Lord Wade, for introducing this debate and thank in his absence the noble Viscount, Lord Combermere, for breaking the warm and friendly ice of your Lordships' House. I should like to talk for a moment about the Press. We know that the Press is accused of spot-lighting these riots and demonstrations. Perhaps I had better declare that I am rather sympathetic to the Press, because years ago I wrote ten books, which I admit were all unreadable. I feel that there is a tremendous news shortage throughout the world, and that the ordinary journalist is very hard hit to fill up the papers, which have to be filled every day, with an outpour of news which is coming across from the satellites and is coming at the enormous speed of communications. So everything is out of date.

It is no longer news that a man should swim the Channel, unless his legs are bitten off by a shark; and even that rates only a paragraph. It is no longer news that a man should fly to the moon. It is no longer news that a man should bite a wolf. One would think that that might be news; but it is now out of date, and has gone. So I feel that the Press have to try to get the news. I appreciate why they have to get news out of these riots, and I cannot really blame them for not pointing their intelligence at the agitators who started the riots and are standing outside, but rather at the people who have been stirred up to riot. Sometimes, however, I feel that they go a little too far.

I thought of quoting a few things from the actual Press, but as I am on the side of the journalists, I will not do that. So I will tell your Lordships a fictitious account to illustrate my meaning. A young boy comes down to see a football game in London. He has time off, and he has never been in London. So he goes to the zoo, where a lion has escaped and is mauling a child. He dives in, saves the child and kills the lion. A journalist gets this as a scoop; but heroism is no longer news, and saving children is no longer news. But he puts as his headline: "Football hooligan kills child's pet", and so gets the news in that way.

As with every sensible person in this country, Russia has worried me for years. Being British, I do not like a country which has millions and millions of possible voters, and in which only a very mini-majority get the vote. I do not like the idea of snoopers all over the place. I do not like what they did in Hungary, or what they did in Czechoslovakia. I do not think I will march about it. I think Russia is a big bear, and a very tough one to crack. I feel that it may be climatic. It was exactly the same in the Czar's day; it is only getting more efficient. Maybe that is the way that Russia always turns out. What I feel is that one should leave some sort of friendly communicating tube between our country and Russia.

Of course I feel the same about South Africa; and I suppose that everybody does. I have a daughter who was out there. She came back and said, "This is more than I can stand". But it is getting much worse, as your Lordships know. I have had quite a lot of information recently from people who have just retired. It is now not very safe for white people to speak in public against it. And very soon it will not be safe—indeed it will be dangerous—for white people to speak against it anywhere. I sympathise very much with many white people there who do not like what is going on. But what can we do? The country does not belong to us. It used to, but we made a mess of it, and now it has gone. It is there, but it is not ours. It is an immensely rich country, full of energy and full of developing power. But I do not think we want to go to war with that country. We could of course do the usual thing and apply sanctions. But this only stops all our trade; it prevents the possibility of friendly relations with the country, and does not do much good. What we can do is the same as with Russia; that is, keep a friendly life-line between the two countries so that we remain in touch.

Like a number of us here, I am very old, and sometimes when I wake up in the morning I take a glance down The Times at the death columns to see whether I am still alive. Having assured myself of that, I wake up and start to think about things. It is obviously going to be worth trying to get up. I was thinking the other day about the British Empire. After all, I was brought up on all the Kipling stuff. I was born before the aeroplane left the ground, or was even thought of. I was wondering whether we in Britain, who had this Empire (it used to be said that the sun never managed to set on the places we had), all over the world—I know that it has now gone—left anything worth while behind. The Romans left us straight roads, which we eventually managed to make crooked. They left us nice, straightforward laws, which we have got into such a tangle that only lawyers can understand them. But at least they left us something. I was wondering whether we had left anything. We left some statues, but they will probably be blown up in time; some buildings, and things—I really wonder what we did leave.

Perhaps one of our big chances there (I am sorry that all the Bishops have gone, and Lord Soper) was to leave Christianity, because that had an enormous effect in Europe. The effect upon the Roman Emperor was marvellous. I am afraid that we went in for missionaries. It was a very tough time in Victoriana, when everybody was so self-righteous, and our Christian religion was split up in so many branches, with so many missionaries teaching roughly the same thing yet slightly different. It was all very confusing to the natives. They did not like being told that all the things they had always thought were fun were sinful, and that if they did them they would be cast into fire everlasting. It was not a popular doctrine. Perhaps nobody appreciated at that time that they had religions of their own which were very old and based on tribal custom.

I came to the conclusion that the lifeline which must be kept was unlikely to be Christianity. We could not call Christianity into account. But the one lifeline that was left was sport. That is the only thing—quite unconsciously, and without any thought—which we have left behind in all our Empire, which has survived. It is a great link, or could be, between us and our Empire of the past. Our sport came accidentally upon us, and that is always the best way to make anything start. Our cricket developed on the village green, and various rules of fair play had to be, and were, willingly introduced. We have studied fair play in our cricket all the way through, and indeed in all our sports. Rugby football, as the noble Lord, Lord Wakefield, will know, developed at Rugby School. If Tom Brown's Schooldays is to be believed, half the school divested themselves of half their clothes and played against the other half of the school. Gradually rugger has taken on all the trappings of fair play and, as the noble Lord will agree, "us rugger chaps", when the Springbok was taking a penalty kick and all those boys yelled at him to put him off so that he missed the goal, felt that it was all against what we believe in any sport and fair play.

As your Lordships know, Association football is perhaps the biggest thing we have. I remember old Lord Kinnaird very well when I was a boy. He invented it. He had a spade beard, and in my imagination I used to think of him sprinting about with long baggy trousers tucked into woollen black stockings, in boots with nails or studs on them. He was very keen, and the game that he developed arrived from various games played in villages, grammar schools and public schools, and notably the field game. He put them all together into the game that has developed into Association football. It was a rough game. I remember being told that some person ran in and told his wife: "Arthur is coming in with a broken leg", and she said: "Well, it won't be Arthur's"—she knew him very well. I cannot help making a joke occasionally, my Lords, but, if you will bear with me, I will come to my point in the end.

Two of the most sporting races in the world are the Grand National and the T.T. motor cycle race in the Isle of Man. Anybody can go in for them. Japanese riders take part in the T.T. race. Anybody can take part, no matter what his colour. Garry Hocking was a South African, and nobody formed a procession or shouted at him. He was a very gallant man. In his book he said that every time he rode in the T.T. race he was terrified when he was waiting to start. It is the most dangerous and forbidding course in the world—


My Lords, if the noble Lord will excuse me for just a moment, I am sure the House is finding his remarks absolutely fascinating—



My Lords, what did the noble Lord say?


I was venturing to say that I am sure that the House found the noble Lord's remarks absolutely fascinating, but I wonder which particular part of what we have already heard relates to the Motion which the noble Lord, Lord Wade, moved.


My Lords, I thank the noble Lord. I was not quite sure what it was he meant, but now I understand. I am leading up to the point; I am not far off it—in fact I am on it. This sporting spirit could be the one thing that could form the navel cord between South Africa and ourselves—our sending over teams and receiving their teams kindly. This is important. If we receive their teams kindly, without hostility, I think that in time they might send a black team of Association football players to play us, and we will receive them willingly. That might be the thin end of the wedge in our relationships. Sport is, to my mind, the cure.

It is very sad to hear the noble Lord, Lord Soper, say that he was going to talk with a large crowd of people who would gather at a match. I was sorry to hear him say that, because it only means that it is encouraging violence one way and another, even if he does not believe in it himself—which he does not, of course. I felt he was changing from the ordinary church to the church militant, although he does not know it. It was sad that it should come from him, for he has been our greatest exponent of pacifism in the past. I am also sad when I read in the papers reference to 100 Members of Parliament who intend to march. I feel that what they may do is break the one link we have with South Africa. I hope that that one link may bring us a little friendship and hope for South Africa in the future.

6.24 p.m.


My Lords, the House is grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Wade, for introducing this Motion, and of course I am additionally so because it follows the short debate on the Unstarred Question, to which he referred, a fortnight ago, and enables me to go wider than I was able to do on the narrow issue of the Springboks' tour on that occasion. I do not propose to take up much of your Lordships' time, and I will only draw from this Springboks' tour aspect of the subject in so far as it con- tributes to the broad issue of the noble Lord's Motion.

I have been rather struck by the number of speakers who have repeated that we have a right to demonstrate. I think it is generally accepted on both sides of the House—and there is no question about this—that we have a right to demonstrate. But I believe it is clear that our traditional right to demonstrate is being used as a vehicle by rabble-rousers, with the result that law-abiding citizens are being subjected to what amounts to mob violence. That is what is happening. My contention is that this threat could be greatly reduced if existing laws were applied as Parliament intended that they should be applied.

In my researches in connection with the previous debate, I came upon a speech by the noble Lord, Lord Brooke of Cumnor, on the Race Relations Bill in which he pointed out that our common law was very strong on the subject to which I am now going to refer; namely, that of incitement. In doing so, I refer to the Public Order Act 1936, which was passed at the time of the Mosleyite trouble, Section 5 of which was amended in 1965 by the first Race Relations Act. In my speech on the Unstarred Question a fortnight ago, I inquired: "Have the Government been dragging their feet?" I think they have. I think it may even be said that they have allowed themselves to be in breach of their duty in this respect.

I gave the noble Lord, Lord Beswick, notice that I was going to say this, and I hope that he will be able to give me a more satisfactory answer than I received from the noble Baroness, the Minister who replied to my Question. I say it in this way because in her reply she said: … the Race Relations Act, which deals with racial incitement against minority groups… She went on: I would urge your Lordships to look at the Act and to understand that that is its purpose …"—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 26/11/69, col. 1377.] I do not know how many of your Lordships have taken this advice. I have, only to find that the word "minority" does not appear in either the 1965 Act or in the 1968 Act, and far less in the section to which the noble Baroness referred. Is it unfair to inquire whence springs the notion that the word "minority" does appear in that Act? Perhaps it was the brief of the noble Baroness which was wide of the mark. I look forward to the speech of the noble Lord, Lord Beswick, at the end of this debate.

Like the noble Lord, Lord Wakefield of Kendal, I have been written to, telephoned, cabled and stopped in the street by folk who have supported the stand I took a fortnight ago, and which I take again to-day. This has been not only on the Race Relations Act but on the Public Order Act—indeed, on the common law. That stand, as I have explained, is that if Section 5 of the Act, as amended, is firmly administered, most, if not all, of the unruly and, therefore, the undemocratic demonstrators who are executing such an important influence on the demonstrations—the vast majority of these trouble-makers—would be prevented from their action. For instance, take the Murrayfield incident. To what end were tickets for the Murrayfield ground sold in the streets of Edinburgh after the perfectly legal and peaceful demonstration on the Friday night preceding the match? It would appear from the Press that those who sold these tickets were dissatisfied with the peaceful nature of the demonstration—which was, in consequence, as other noble Lords have said, extremely impressive. They were dissatisfied and using threatening and insulting words, and these tickets were made available to them. The Act says: … with intent to invoke a breach of the peace, or whereby a breach of the peace is likely to be occasioned … Those are some of the words in the section of the Act to which I refer.

Who sold those tickets? Who trained the mob to shout in disciplined unison? What about the "job lot of anarchists" to whom the Home Secretary has referred? I look forward to reading the speech of the noble Lord, Lord Soper, who said that he knows that there are training cadres who are training people in violence. If that is not what he said, well, what did he say? If this is what is going on—and I think I am right in saying that the Home Secretary has said, "And some of these people are known to me"—why have the perpetrators of these acts gone unpunished? Why in the event has the public been subjected to the deplorable scenes which took place at Murrayfield on Saturday? The fact is that it was deplorable. It must have affected adversely the whole sense of an afternoon's sport of the great crowd. That in itself was an offence, I think, to the people. Why was it necessary to deploy so strong a force of police?—I believe there were 900—police, I may say, who behaved in the most commendably tolerant manner in the face of intense provocation. To them and to the chief constables concerned the public owes a debt of gratitude.

However, I want to make a point that has not already been made in connection with the police. I think your Lordships should know that at Murrayfield the police firmly resisted some of the ordinary spectators' cries of protest that they were not using the people whom they were taking into custody more roughly. This gives some indication of the point made by the noble Viscount, Lord Combermere—whose maiden speech I found so attractive and to which I will refer again —that these violent performances act in the very reverse direction from what the promoters intend.

Before I leave the question of the police and the numbers employed, together with the structural additions which had to be made to the field, I would ask: who pays for all this? I take it that it is the Rugby Football Union and perhaps in many respects the public purse. I see there are moans in the Press to-day that the proprietors of a football pitch in Wales are daring to put up barbed wire to keep people from breaking up the pitch. Are we not living in a sort of Cloud-Cuckoo-Land?

As for the students, two packs of them were there. It was students who were mainly concerned. All my contacts have been scathing about students in general taking part in demonstrations of all sorts; and conjoined with this complaint they talk about the nonsense of their applying for grants to be increased. This is grossly unfair. It is for the authorities to protect not only the general public but the vast majority of the students, who have nothing to do with these antics. When it was proposed, for instance, in the case of the Heriot Watt University in Edinburgh, that the funds of the college should be used to pay bail for any student who might be arrested, a general meeting of the students was called and over a thousand, an unprecedented number, attended and insisted that this decision was rescinded. I mention this matter to illustrate my point that the students, the "guid-going" students themselves, can well demand to be protected. In fact, there is a letter in the Scotsman to-day from a student from which I take the liberty of quoting a sentence because it seems to me that it contains so much the essence of what I am saying. He says: That the young should be idealistic is both good and necessary, but the corruption of constructive protest as seen in the tautological shouting and current contempt of accepted standards of decency can only be deplored. One can understand the reluctance of people like that to be associated with the type of people who were concerned with the disturbances I saw. Why are the law-abiding students who want to get on with their studies not being protected?

There is another letter in the Scotsman, not I think from a student, which refers to these troublesome ones in these terms—anti this illustrates the point which was made so well by the noble Viscount, Lord Combermere: These young idiots, who are So ready to shout 'Nazi!' at a long-suffering policeman who stands in their way, are themselves the Nazis, 1969 style, in their arrogant dismissal of any viewpoint but their own. Well that was in Scotland.

So far as England is concerned, I make bold to suggest that some one should take out a writ of mandamus as early as possible against the Home Secretary in respect of Section 5 of the Public Order Act. I believe there are already adequate grounds for such an action, and it is clear from the Press, which publishes the threats for the future, that there are more grounds to come. The position in Scotland, of course, is different, as are the people and as are the laws in respect of trespass and the like. The Advocate General may be able to help us here.

The noble Lord, Lord Beswick, asked: "What kind of demonstration is the best?" Surely it is fair to deduce from what has been said in your Lordships' House this afternoon that the peaceful demonstration is the best. I think I said a fortnight ago that no one can do other than respect people who take a stand such as the noble Lord, Lord Soper, does, and nobody can but respect the man who prefers not to play in a match against a team he does not want to play against. But the present position is such that the right to demonstrate is being impaired by the violence which is going on, I believe by Government's neglect to carry out the wishes of Parliament. There is only one good side to the whole situation, and that is that as the General Election approaches (and the noble Viscount, Lord Combermere, touched on this angle) the very spread of violence, which could in my view be checked, brings the present Government more and more into disrepute.

The point has been made to me that television media are to be congratulated on resisting the temptation they were offered at Murrayfield to give more coverage to the demonstrators than to the game. I think that that was the case, although I myself did not see the television showing of the game because I was there. But I have it from several people who did, including my wife, that on the whole the balance was not too bad at all. I have heard the complaint that it was a pity that the television showing did not show the peaceful demonstration which was outside the ground—a demonstration such as the one which the noble Lord, Lord Soper, says he is going to take part in at Twickenham. My impression also is that the Press, on the whole, have listened to what Peers said in the debate a fortnight ago. I think it was the noble Lord, Lord Auckland (or it may have been the noble Earl, Lord Ferrers), who said that a great responsibility rests with the broadcasters in this respect. This point has been very well developed by the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Manchester—and I shall very carefully read what he said because it was a good deal more profound than some of the other speeches we have heard to-day. I shall be interested to see what his specific suggestions are in regard to placing some kind of responsibility on the television media concerning the communication of news to the people.

This brings me to my final point: namely, the offence of insulting or striking a policeman. The noble and learned Lord the Lord Chief Justice had something to say on this score the other day. I expect all your Lordships read what he said. I think that the courts—and this is the view not only of the noble and learned Lord, but of most of the public—are too lenient on charges of striking, insulting or interfering with the police. How are these hard-working, patient and gallant men to be protected so long as the position which they once held is being eroded by stupid sympathy with demonstrators—and by "demonstrators", I mean violent demonstrators. As I think the noble Lord, Lord Beswick, pointed out, increasingly the sensible demonstrators are consulting the police as to the routes they should take and the way they should behave. I believe that anyone who strikes, insults, or throws missiles at the minions of the law should be dealt with in severe fashion. When I was young, anyone who struck a policeman was looking for real trouble, but it is not so to-day to the same extent.

Speaking of the police, the noble Lord, Lord Soper, said that in his view one of the reasons for the decline in the control of law and order was the decline in the respect for Parliament. That may be so. Indeed, I am sure that I am not alone in regarding with alarm and despondency the prospect of Members of Parliament taking part in demonstrations at Twickenham—and demonstrations on the ground are now threatened. Does this mean that these men feel they are not having sufficient opportunity, to which they are entitled, for free speech in Parliament itself? The noble Lord, Lord Soper, suggested that the prestige of Parliament had declined, and I wonder whether the rigid use of the Whip in Parliament and the ruses and tricks to which heavy Party discipline apparently leads those in charge to resort, is not a contribution to the urge—whatever it may be—for a Member of Parliament to take part in a demonstration against the law.

To conclude, my Lords, I consider that Section 5 of the Public Order Act has not been applied as it should have been, and I look forward to the reply by the noble Lord in the hope that he will be able to deal with this point. The last thing I wish to do is to repeat the outspoken advice given by the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chief Justice, that the punishment meted out to those guilty of insulting or striking the police should be of the most rigid nature. If such steps follow, do not let the Press moan about "savage sentences", which I think is their usual phrase. My Lords, the drift to mob rule and anarchy must, and I believe can, be stopped.

6.45 p.m.


My Lords, as an inveterate and impenitent demonstrator who will demonstrate for the right to demonstrate, I am grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Wade, for initiating this debate to-day. It has been an interesting and, in some ways, if I may say so, sitting on this side of the House, a rather menacing debate. If we study in Hansard to-morrow some of the undertones of this debate I do not think we shall derive much comfort. I am proposing to give your Lordships what I believe to be the true nature of demonstration. I have neither the eloquence nor the direct day-to-day experience of the noble Lord, Lord Soper, as a one-man demonstrator, but I have a long history of demonstration.

I do not go back to Wat Tyler or the Chartists, but pretty well. Like my noble friend Lord Soper, I was involved in the Hunger Marches. I am grateful to the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Durham for recalling the Jarrow March. I did 300 miles from Jarrow to London with that March. It was most impressive; and if one studies that March it will give all the assurance one wants that demonstrations are really fruitful and have an enormous impact. That was the March which, as the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Durham has recalled, started off in a church. But it began before that, in the town council, which passed a resolution; and thus it became an official march of the town. It was a town on the march: and there was this remarkable attachment to, and the recognition that we in this country have of, the proper thing to do, as distinct from some of the hunger marches I was on.

Because we were a town's march from Jarrow we got receptions at Harrogate, St. Albans—everywhere we went—by the town councils. We were put up in public baths, in churches, and so forth. That was a most impressive march, which unfortunately did not achieve its real purpose because when we marched into London it was just a week before the King abdicated. What we had done by way of bringing this to the attention of the country was lost in the Abdication.

I was involved on the wrong side of the situation, if I may put it that way, with the Blackshirt demonstrations in London, because those of us who in fact were demonstrating against the Blackshirts were the people who were coming off worse. I was involved with a remarkable number of your Lordships in something called the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament. I think that if I took out a comb and a piece of paper and played "Down by the River" a large number of your Lordships would fall in behind. I can assure your Lordships that the history of that whole thing, in spite of all the denigration and all the attempts to misrepresent C.N.D.—and it was consistently misrepresented by the Press and by others—the whole history of that campaign, and of the Aldermaston Marches, is a wonderful demonstration not merely of what can be achieved in directing public attention, but also what can be achieved, as we did, in regard to a close working relation with the police.

We did the whole of our own marshalling. The police may have had riot vans out of sight, but we never saw them. Indeed, we rarely saw a policeman apart from senior officers, on the march. It was only in the last marches, when the anarchists started to jump on the bandwaggon, that we ran into serious trouble. The only trouble we had before that was from the Press—my old profession—which used to go out and look for all the "weirdies". There were about a dozen of them perhaps; and these were the ones who appeared on the television and in the papers, while the 99.999 per cent. were the dedicated, earnest people —both old and, to a substantial extent, young.

That brings me to a point to which we must pay a great deal of attention when we are considering what in fact is the modern idiom of demonstration. The modern idiom is very substantially in the voice of the young people. We older people go along, but most of the time we are really fighting for the young. In the case of C.N.D. we can say quite seriously that at least 75 per cent. of the march represented young people. In the 1950s I used to say that the concern with the younger generation behind us on the march was the fact that they had no future: the atom bomb was going to take care of it; there was no future, and all their songs were the songs of a non-future.

In the '60s, by the time we got the later Adermaston marches, the younger generation had a future. They knew that they had a future, and they did not like the future they saw. And this is where we are to-day: the younger generation do not like the future. I can assure your Lordships that in everything they are doing, in terms of the students, and the like, with whom I am in contact —the younger generation—this is the great obsession; the lack of contact, the way in which the whole thing is moving to a monolithic centralisation in every way, not by a mischievous device, but by force of circumstances. They are lacking the means to communicate with the Establishment; they cannot get through. And this is true of many others than young people.

Now we are giving the vote to the 18-year-olds and telling them, "You now have the right to vote; you do not have to go and demonstrate. You can go to the polling booth and vote and decide the issue". Nobody is going to believe that. What is needed beyond that is the safeguard of knowing the door on which you can knock—something that I regard as essential to democracy; knowing where to go when you want to express yourself or look after things which concerns you. If you lose that sense and get remoteness, all you can do, if you do not know the door—and it is what they are doing—is to go and stand outside the skyscraper and shout. This is a very important question for us now, in thinking of the whole relationship of Government. All the things we can achieve by the Welfare State, by the machinery of Government, will, with the best intentions, be lost if people do not know the door on which to knock.

We know when we are talking about demonstration that we are talking about the whole of progress. I cannot think, and I defy anyone here to think, of any great advance which has been made which, beyond the reasoning stage, has not depended upon the fact that people demonstrated. They fought for things they believed in, and they transformed them; and others transformed them beyond that. The whole of our political history is a history of protest. It must be, because that is where progress begins. If you did not have demonstrations, how on earth could you bring anything to anybody's attention? If I were a Minister or had anything to do with the Government, I would organise demonstrations against myself for not doing the things I want to do. That is the only thing you can do. You must bring things to people's attention and hammer upon the attention, so that you can move it on to the stage where organisation and reason take over. This is to me the essence of a demonstration, and the healthiest thing in the world. I do not expect some noble Lords opposite, pre-occupied with the Rugby game as they are, to agree.

My Lords, the thing which is significant everywhere in the world is the uniformity of the protest. It is imitative. People see something happen in Berkeley, California, and the same sort of thing happens in Glasgow University. It has not happened yet because the Lord Rector, Lord Macleod, has kept a very tight hand on it. But there is a solidarity of new thinking which is protesting against these bigger things like apartheid. Why do the young people protest about apartheid'? What are they going to get out of protesting about apartheid; about showing concern for some people in South Africa? Why are they protesting about Vietnam, where, as individuals in this country they are not personally involved? The young people in this country are not the draft card burners, but they are concerned. If this is not a real manifestation of the struggle of young people towards the bigger realities; if that is not true we are in a very desperate state—if we ignore it—because we have no salvation.

6.57 p.m.


My Lords, I think that everyone would agree that this has certainly been a most interesting debate which has ranged over quite a distance and has shown a great deal of different opinions. We are all grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Wade, for introducing the Motion. I liked the choice of wording for the Motion: "The significance of demonstrations in present-day society". There seemed to me in that to be something querulous; almost it seemed to say, "What is it that causes society, or some part of it, to behave in this manner"— as if were one to find out the cause one could cure the cause and thereby prevent the results. But I doubt if it would be quite as simple as that.

We are getting used to demonstrations. Indeed, several noble Lords have said that they have frequently taken part in them and find them of great value. And one must be careful not to categorise all demonstrations in one group: either that they are all good or, equally, that they are all bad. They vary greatly in objective, in nature and in method. What has brought them so much into prominence of late is that they have been given more prominance by Press and television and that they have been accompanied by violence. The prominence of reporting encourages the violence. Equally the violence encourages the reporting.

My remarks this evening will tend to refer not so much to the organised accepted demonstration with which we are all in agreement, but mostly to those demonstrations which are accompanied, whether intentionally or not, by violence. People are led to believe by all sorts of types of persons that by demonstrating they are participating in democracy and indeed furthering it; and, so the inference goes, if the demonstrations did not take place democracy itself would suffer, as the real opinions and views of the people would be stifled and suffocated under a large impersonal régime. Of course, the right to demonstrate is one of the signs and one of the privileges of a democratic society. But here let us recognise a distinction. Those who demonstrate are not in fact furthering the cause of democracy, they are not helping it, nor by their action are they creating it. They are availing themselves of one of the privileges which result from democracy.

I stress that point because in the wave of demonstrations we have seen lately much has been said about the individual's undoubted democratic right to express the view that he disagrees with or disapproves of what is being done or what is being proposed. That is a valuable right which none of us here would like to see go. As somebody said to me only to-day, it is a sad thought that to make yourself felt you have got to be beastly—in fact the adjective he used was somewhat more explicit, but somewhat unparliamentary. You have to do it by writing a letter to a paper, by marching up and down, or by creating trouble or violence. The sad fact is that the more beastly you are, the more people take notice, and the more beastly you are the more likely you are to get your opinions heard and to make the authorities listen. That is a curious reflection, of course, on civilisation, because those who have worked so hard for democracy over the generations before have fought against anarchy, oligarchies, autocracy, and dictatorships in order to ensure that the right of the individual is heard and that the views of minorities are taken into account.

The process and the progress of education have taught vast numbers of people, who were previously outside its ambit, to understand the methods and the problems of society and government; above all, to try to understand and respect the other person's view, and to appreciate the value and the necessity of law and order. Those pioneers of democracy would have been surprised to see that one of the fruits of their efforts was large hordes of people demonstrating, sometimes violently, simply because their views are the ones that, at any given moment of time, have not found favour. The fact of mobs, and mob violence, now sometimes epitomised by demonstrations and the necessity for them, must have been one of the aims which these pioneers worked to try to eliminate. And yet it is an ironical—


My Lords, I do not want to interrupt the noble Earl, but he seems to be creating the impression that all demonstrations necessarily have an element of violence in them. Historically that is obviously not true. There were 7,000 teachers and their supporters a few days ago who marched from the Albert Hall to Speakers' Corner, and there was no violence whatsoever. There are demonstrations going on all the time without violence. To stress from the Benches from which the noble Earl speaks—

SEVERAL NOBLE LORDS: Speech, speech!


My Lords, I only wish that the noble Lord, Lord Sainsbury, had listened with equal intent to the beginning of my remarks as he did to the latter part of them. If he had done, he would have heard me say that I entirely accepted that there were many demonstrations of a peaceable nature which we all wished to see flourish, and my remarks referred mostly to those which were accompanied by violence.

What I was trying to say was that it is surely somewhat ironical that in many cases precisely the state of affairs exists which in fact those who tried hard to get into a state of democracy were hoping to be able to avoid. if one pursues this to its logical conclusion, one would have to accept that minorities have the right to express their views by demonstration, which indeed they have, and that as no decision is ever 100 per cent. unanimous, or deserving 100 per cent, of support, one must, in a democratic society, be prepared to accept a constant and perpetual, if changing, manifestation of demonstrations by those whose views are contrary to the ones being pursued. I suggest that this could be regarded as an abuse of democracy and not as a fruit of it. This must surely be, because although democracy gives an individual privileges, so also it places upon him responsibility to society as a whole which has given him these privileges. There must be a point at which the privilege of the individual conflicts with the rights of society and militates against it.

This, my Lords, as I see it, is where the crunch comes. What do you do? What does the Government do?—curb the individual and risk being told that it is curbing the right to free expression, or permit the individual to express his views and sometimes to force them on to an unwilling, but essentially quiescent and uncomplaining, community? That is the real problem. The trouble with the more recent demonstrations which have been accompanied by violence is that those who have taken part have been pushing the case for free expression of the individual as far as possible—almost too far and almost to a point where it becomes unacceptable by the public. Anything must go: violence; policemen injured; private property invaded and ruined, all because efforts to prevent this may be construed by some as curtailing the right of free expression.

I am reminded of a remark that was once made by a Member of your Lordship's House, the noble and reverend Lord, Lord Fisher of Lambeth, who once said that there is no unreasonable argument that cannot be proved reasonable by reason. I believe that the time may be coming when it can no longer be considered reasonable for a tolerant public to be perpetually afflicted by violence simply because to curtail it would, by some, be regarded as a threat to their liberty to express their views. We have the right of free speech, and a treasured right it is too; and yet abuse of this is curtailed by the laws of libel and slander. Yet at the moment the right to demontrate, and the effects of it, seem to know no bounds.

In the Grosvenor Square riots last October police poured into London, and equally Londoners poured out, and were advised to do so. A quarter of a million pounds was spent in extra police pay, and the public had to spend a further quarter of a million pounds in barricading up their premises. For what purpose? For democracy to assert itself? But I believe, in fact, it was to protect society from the abuse of democracy. I am bound to say that it seems to be becoming less acceptable for the public and for the police—and here I would add my tribute to those that have already been paid to the police for the magnificent job of work they have been doing to try to control the rowdier element of these demonstrations—for them to be made to suffer all, and any, of the consequences which a gathering of demonstrators may choose, either individually or (and this is more important) unwittingly, collectively to inflict upon them. Why, indeed, should the public have to spend half a million pounds to protect itself or to watch policemen injured? And in that case some were injured to such a degree that they were never likely to be returned to active service.

Why should the private individual be obliged to adopt his own private siege tactics in order to barricade himself in to protect himself and his property? We have seen it again with the wave of violence over the Springboks tour—and I am not here concerned, in the very slightest, with the merits of those who demonstrate against it, or of the political undertones or overtones of it. But the fact is that noble Lords who have read their papers know that the demonstrators have run riot, and gardens and property have been invaded, and mothers have had to lock their children in to protect them. This does not seem to me to be a true manifestation of democracy; it is anarchy resulting from the abuse of democracy. It is this which I suggest the Government must be made aware of and somehow —and I accept it is not easy—try to curtail.

But in all this I would—and we must—make a distinction; there is all the world of difference between those who wish freely and peacefully to demonstrate (and I hope the noble Lord, Lord Sainsbury is helped by this) and to express their views, and on the other side the camp followers who deliberately attach themselves to such a demonstration, who care not what the cause is but who merely want violence, who come and create it, who deliberately provoke the police and when the police react cry, in injured innocence, "Police brutality", and demand an inquiry. I hope that the Government will not be stampeded into endless inquiries by complaints of that nature. But those who organise and claim that they want peaceful demonstrations cannot, I respectfully suggest, absolve themselves from responsibility for the turmoil which ensues when it is a direct result of the demonstration which they have themselves caused and convened, and when the outcome, even if it is not officially wished or intended, is frequently perfectly obvious.

But there is a more sinister aspect to it than this; and again it is exemplified by the Springboks' tour. It is the avowed intention of the "Stop the '70s Tour" committee to stop the tour. That is the purpose of the committee; and they may well succeed. But it will not be, my Lords, by democratic methods. If they succeed, it will not be because they have persuaded the organisers, the players or the spectators, or even the general public, that their own views are right. It will be because the non-peaceful aspects of the demonstration which they create have become so intolerable that the match cannot physically be played; or—and this is worse—because the cost of police protection to the host club, whichever it might be, would be so high that the organisers simply cannot foot the bill. For instance, the cost of police protection for the Springboks' match at Manchester last month, when 1,750 policemen were involved, was £8,985.

I hope that the right reverend Prelates and Members of another place who have intimated that they would be prepared to take part in such demonstrations, and even sit upon the pitch physically to prevent play, as has been suggested, will on reflection realise that, however strong and genuine are their views—and I accept that they are both—such action will not advance democracy one iota. It will demean themselves and, worse, it will demean Parliament, and it will make a mockery of democracy.

So, my Lords, one comes back to the nub of the whole question: what happens when the right to demonstrate to express one's own views conflicts with and militates against the right of the individual and the public to go about their work or pleasure without let or hindrance? Both these rights are treasured rights, and both require to be preserved. The danger is that if those who demonstrate push their case and the methods which they employ too far, they will build up in the eyes of the general public a reaction against such freedom, and such reaction, and the results which may flow from it, will be far more damaging to democracy and the freedom to express one's views than ever would be a more modest exercise of those privileges which at present exist.

7.14 p.m.


My Lords, I hesitate to intervene, but I do so for one reason apart from my desire to congratulate my noble friend Lord Combermere on his splendid speech. The reason is that I myself was on a demonstration a month or so ago—as it happens, my first. I was protesting against the near-criminal folly of Her Majesty's Government's policy over the Nigerian-Biafran war, implicating them, as it does, in the deaths of countless men, women and children. I was very worried about violence, particularly because my wife and my 16-month old daughter were with me, As the procession moved towards Downing Street we kept to the edge and to the back; and because there were a lot of interested spectators on the pavements who might have got involved with the demonstrators, we kept to the middle of the road—on the right side of the white line, I hasten to say. We thought that would be safest. Over my shoulder, I saw an old Morris Minor swing slowly towards my wife, who was on my left. I paid no heed, as there was plenty of room for the car to get past, and I turned away. Then she gave a start; and the bruises she received from that car kept her awake for several nights and made it uncomfortable for her to walk.

My Lords, I was justifiably angry, I think, at the violence perpetrated on my wife. If I had been a Biafran whose family was starving, might I not have been provoked to attack the driver of this car, especially as a few minutes before someone else had gone down shouting in a very loud voice, "Go home, Wogs!" But there was not any violence, my Lords—not from me nor from anyone else, except from someone not connected with the demonstration. So let us keep this question of violence in perspective. The police here are wonderful and human. Demonstrators are human, too. Lord Ferrers's narrow distinction between the totally good type and the totally bad type is a bit too blunt, I feel. There are lots of people in between, who will behave all right, so long as people behave all right to them. I hope that we have helped to take some of the steam out of violence in this context tonight, but I am not quite sure that we have.

7.17 p.m.


My Lords, we have had an extraordinarily interesting debate, probably a little lengthy, and I think it would be wrong if I inflicted a second speech upon your Lordships. I do not therefore propose to do that. But I would take the opportunity, if I may, of offering a collective tribute to all those who have taken part, and a special word of congratulation to the noble Viscount, Lord Combermere, on his maiden speech. It was sensitive in its treatment of the subject, and the clarity of his thought and expression commended itself, I am sure, to all of us. As has already been made clear, we all look forward to hearing him again many times in the future.

My Lords, I should like to say to the noble Lord, Lord Wakefield of Kendal, that he made a mistake if he thought I said anything approaching the suggestion that violence could be made more effective. I think that if he reads what I said he will see that I said precisely the opposite. Indeed, if one thing goes out from this debate, it is, as the noble Lord who has just spoken said, that we have done something to take the steam out of violence. We are all for demonstrations; and I think that most of us will agree that to be really and genuinely effective they have to be non-violent.

I was asked specific questions by the noble Lord, Lord Wakefield, and the noble Lord, Lord Ferrier, about the application to this situation of the Public Order Act 1936 and the Race Relations Act 1965. I think there has been some misunderstanding about what my noble friend Lady Serota said about the Race Relations Act, and possibly in view of that misunderstanding I might set down in some detail what is its relevance to the present situation.

That part of the Race Relations Act 1965 concerned with public order contained two sections, Section 6 and Section 7. Section 6 deals with incitement to racial hatred. The effect of Section 7 was to substitute amended provisions for those originally enacted, as the noble Lord, Lord Ferrier said, in Section 5 of the Public Order Act 1936. That section, as he rightly said, is concerned with threatening, abusive or insulting words or written matter. It was, I think, Section 6 to which my noble friend was speaking, and I had spoken earlier, in answer to a question by the noble Lord, Lord Vivian, about Section 2. I, for my part, was concerned to say that Section 2 did not apply, and the noble Baroness was saying that Section 6—


My Lords, may I interrupt the noble Lord? I did ask him which section it was.



It was Section 5 of the Act of 1936 which was revised and strengthened by the Act of 1965. Are they not the Acts under which we expect action to be taken, with the penalties that they lay down?


My Lords, I think I made it clear that Section 7 of the 1965 Act amends Section 5 of the 1936 Act; and from now on I am talking about the latest Act, the Race Relations Act 1965. I was going on to say that my noble friend had said that Section 6 of the 1965 Act, and I had said Section 2 of the 1965 Act, did not apply to the situation that we have been discussing outside these football grounds—or, for that matter, inside them. Let me set out the effect and purpose of Section 6 of the 1965 Act. Under that section a person shall be guilty of an offence if with intent to stir up hatred against any section of the public in Great Britain distinguished by colour, race, or ethnic or national origins—

  1. (a) he publishes or distributes written matter which is threatening, abusive or insulting; or
  2. (b) he uses in any public place or at any meeting words which are threatening, abusive or insulting,
being matter or words likely to stir up hatred against that section"— that is, that section of the public, the British public— on grounds of colour, race, or ethnic or national origins. My noble friend Lady Serota said that this did not seem to apply to the situation outside Rugby grounds at Swansea—


My Lords, it is the penalties that we are interested in.


My Lords, that is not what I understood from the question I am trying to answer, which was put to me by the noble Lords, Lord Wakefield and Lord Ferrier. I do not know of any specific suggestion that there has been anything in connection with the various demonstrations which might amount to an offence under Section 6 of the 1965 Act. But if there is an allegation under the Act it will of course be for my right honourable friend the Attorney General to consider it in the light of the details of the particular case alleged.

Then we come to Section 7, the section in which the noble Lord, Lord Ferrier, was interested, and rightly so. I have already made clear to the noble Lord, Lord Barnby, that Section 7 is now substituted for Section 5 of the Public Order Act 1936. This section makes it an offence if "in any public place or at any public meeting", a person uses threatening, abusive or insulting words or behaviour, or … distributes or displays any writing, sign or visible representation which is threatening, abusive or insulting, … I was asked why that scetion does not apply, why action has not been taken, under it. But the fact of the matter is, as my noble friend made clear, that action has been taken. In fact, out of a total of 102 arrests, 61 were for alleged offences under that section; 61 people have been charged with offences under Section 7 of the 1965 Act.


My Lords, I think I can help the noble Lord: I have here a copy of Hansard. The noble Baroness said: I submit to the House that the problems which arise in connection with these matches are not really problems of the kind to which the race relations legislation is really directed."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 26/11/69, col. 1378.] I wrote in the margin, "I agree"; so we are at one on that matter. My criticism of her reference to Section 6 concerned the reference to the word "minority" which does not occur in the Act at all. I tried to build my speech in regard to the present demonstrations on the 1936 Act, Section 5, as amended in 1965.


My Lords, I am not quite sure how far this takes us. I agree with the noble Lord, in the presence of the noble and learned Lord who sits on the Woolsack, that "minority" does not come into this. It is equally an offence for a member of any minority section to insult and abuse me, as a member of the majority colour in this country, as it is for me, a member of the majority colour, to insult any member of a minority colour.


My Lords, surely thirsty football players are a minority.


My Lords, we are getting into deep water. I thought I made it clear, in reply to an earlier question put by the noble Lord, Lord Vivian, that these people who were demonstrating there were demonstrating not against any minority of British people at all. Of course, they were not. They were not abusing or insulting them on account of race or colour. They were protesting against the fact that the team from abroad was chosen on colour grounds. The 1965 Act applies to behaviour as between one citizen of this country and another citizen of this country. I do not really see why the noble Lord, Lord Ferrier, should be concerned about this, because all he wants can he obtained under Section 7. The noble Lord shakes his head; but I say that it can. In this country if a person is abusive he can be charged under Section 7 whether he be black, white, green or any other colour and whether his behaviour concerns anyone of a different colour or not. That is quite clear. Really I beg the noble Lord to think again on what I say. If I can explain it any clearer outside I shall be happy to do so.


My Lords, I cannot help referring to Section 5 of the Act of 1936 which says: Any person … using threatening, abusive or insulting words or behaviour with intent to provoke …


My Lords, I am inclined to say to the noble Lord, for whom my respect is unlimited, "So what!" I think that he should look again at what I have said. I genuinely feel that he misunderstands or that I have inadequately put my explanation.


My Lords, could the noble Lord please tell us, in regard to the people who have been found guilty, what is the extent of the punishment? Does he know what punishment was awarded them? Have any been sent to prison or heavily fined? What has happened? If he could give the House this information I think it would be extremely helpful.


My Lords, I cannot tell the noble Lord what the courts have found in each of these cases. Of course not. If there is any information I can give him I will send it to him.

There was just one other thing I should like to say; and this is the nearest I come to comment. With what my noble friend Lord Soper said and what was said by the right reverend Prelate, the Bishop of Durham, I find myself for the most part heartily in agreement. But I feel that they tended to over-emphasise what they thought were the legitimate complaints of the younger generation. They said that they were remote; they said that they had a sense of ineffectiveness; they said that they felt that they were alienated from the centres of power. I really believe that they were carrying sympathy too far in this respect. It was suggested that this remoteness, this alienation, was because Parliament had lost the respect of the people of the country.

But it is not our Parliament any more than it is theirs. It is their Parliament to do something about. If those people of my generation who went into the House of Commons immediately after the war had taken that kind of line and sat back and not tried to do something through Parliament, I wonder if we should have all the social service legislation that we have had since 1945. I listened to what the noble Lord, Lord Macleod, said. I say in his presence that I never heard a more pessimistic speech. He complained about the universities joining what he called the "apathetic majority". If there were an apathetic majority there, they must have listened to the noble Lord. It is not good enough to have undiluted pessimism of that kind. I have no doubt that it is easier to go out on the streets, as I have been out on the streets—


My Lords, the point about Glasgow University was that as people were going about reminding others that there was to be an election the following day and asking them if they would take part, large numbers of students met them and said, "No, we are not voting. We belong to the apathetic majority".


That is what I said, and that is what I am complaining about. I am saying that there is an apathetic majority probably because they have listened to the kind of speech which we heard from the noble Lord earlier. It was undiluted pessimism and it was not justified.

There are many things that can be done. Most of them can be done through Parliament. It is not fashionable nowadays to become a member of a political Party; it is too much of a bore for some people to do the necessary work in a political Party. However, if we are to achieve things, we must be prepared to accept some of the chores of the ward work and the work in the local constituency parties; and, through that, we can get through to Parliament. For my part, I am all in favour of Parliament. Let us improve it, by all means. Let us have demonstrations—non-violent ones. But let us not whine and sit back, and just complain and refuse to do some of the more humdrum things in the world.

7.31 p.m.


My Lords, I feel as though we are just warming up for another debate; but I will restrain myself. This has been a thoughtful, an interesting, and an important debate. I am very grateful to all those noble Lords who have taken part in it. I join other noble Lords in thanking the noble Viscount, Lord Combermere, and in congratulating him upon his maiden speech. I shall look forward to hearing him in future debates.

I must thank the noble Lord, Lord Beswick, for answering the questions which I put to him. I will not comment on all the replies he gave, but it will be useful to have those replies on the Record. I am now faced with the dilemma which always arises on occasions such as these. I have listened to, and made notes of, every speech. If I refer to one speech, I shall appear to be impolite to noble Lords to whose speeches I do not refer. Therefore may I offer my collective thanks to all those noble Lords who have taken part in the debate and, having done so, ask leave to withdraw my Motion.

Motion for Papers, by leave, withdrawn.