§ 2.58 p.m.
§ The LORD PRIVY SEAL (Lord Shepherd)
My Lords, I beg to move that this Bill be now read a third time.
§ Moved, That the Bill be now read 3a. —(Lord Shepherd.)
§ Lord HAILSHAM of SAINT MARYLEBONE
My Lords, I do not want to detain the House for any length of time at this stage of the Bill, but before we part with it—
§ Lord SHEPHERD
My Lords, may I intervene? I do not know whether the noble and learned Lord intends to make what might be called a Third Reading speech. There are a number of Amendments on the Order Paper. I wonder whether the noble and learned Lord would think it right to take these Amendments and then to have the debate on the Motion, That the Bill do now pass.
§ Lord HAILSHAM of SAINT MARYLEBONE
My Lords, I am perfectly willing to comply with the wishes 298 of the House in that respect. If it is more convenient to take the Amendments first, I will take that course. I was intending to make a short speech on Third Reading, but I will not do so on the understanding that I will rise when the noble and learned Lord on the Woolsack puts the second Question.
§ On Question, Bill read 3a with the Amendments.
§ Clause 4 [Amendment of the principal Act]:
§ Lord GOODMAN
My Lords, all these Amendments are minor textual Amendments. I beg to move Amendments Nos. 1 to 6 en bloc.
§ Amendments moved—
§ Page 5, line 22, leave out (" and such ") and insert (" or ").
§ Page 5, line 28, leave out (" code") and insert (" charter ").
§ Page 6, line 5, leave out (" code of practice ") and insert (" charter ").
§ Page 6, line 19, leave out (" that subsection ") and insert (" subsection (1) above ").
§ Page 6, line 20, leave out (" code") and insert (" charter ").
§ In the Title, line 4, leave out (" code of practice ") and insert (" charter ").—(Lord Goodman.)
§ On Question, Amendments agreed to.
§ Moved, That the Bill do now pass.— (Lord Shepherd.)
§ 3.0 p.m.
§ Lord HAILSHAM of SAINT MARYLEBONE
My Lords, I do not intend to detain the House very long, but there are one or two points which I should like to place on record. In doing so, let me say at once that I do not wish to cause any pain to noble Lords opposite, and indeed I should like to say that I recognise at once that they have had a difficult and possibly even a disagreeable task. They have had to face criticism not only from those on this Bench but from those on the Cross-Benches, from those on the Bench above me, and even occasionally in rather courageous speeches from behind them.
I think we may look back upon a civilised and, I hope, reasonable debate on the matters which divide us. I believe that we have improved this Bill since it came before us. It is not an attractive 299 Bill even now, and I would not describe it as such, but I think that we have improved it. I should only like to point a contrast in the terms of the Bill as it is now before your Lordships at its last stage, and the Bill which we received. When we received it, I will not say the only honest but at least the only completely accurate and, I think I could go so far as to say, the only absolutely frank defence of it which was made came from below the gangway on the Government Benches from the noble Lord, Lord Houghton of Sowerby, when he said that the reason for the Bill's being proposed in that form was that it was a political necessity for the Government and for the Labour Party. That is an intelligible explanation of the Government's conduct, as it was of Pontius Pilate's, but it is not one which generally commands respect.
The Government's own explanation of the original form of the Bill was that it was in their Election Manifesto. I do not think it was, and I do not recollect, if it was, that it was at any time explained to the electorate. But if it was in the Government's Manifesto it certainly contained an untruth because, as I understand it, the Labour Manifesto contained a pledge on the part of the Government to repeal the Act of 1971. That they had already done by the Act of 1974. If, as they have since claimed, what they were referring to was Section 5 or Section 6 of the Act of 1974, and those two sections owed their origin to the Act of 1971, that may be so. But so also did Schedule 1 to the Act of 1974, all 22½ pages of it, even containing sections of the Act of 1971 which the 1974 Act purported to reenact. So either that defence is a fraud or the Manifesto promise has been broken. But even that defence was not respectable, because it did not go to the merits of what was proposed to be done.
On the Government side, the Back-Benchers tried to console themselves with the argument that labour or industrial relations are not best improved by resort to the courts; a proposition which, so stated, no one would feel much disposed to deny. But the fact is that the Bill had nothing directly to do with industrial relations. It was at that stage basically not a Bill to give trade unions greater power in their negotiations with their employers or in relation to the Govern 300 ment; it was a Bill to put individuals and minorities, who are virtually helpless, at the mercy of the trade union establishment; that is, to put the weak at the mercy of the strong. It was a Bill to free employers from the obligation to give compensation to such individuals or minorities as might be affected if the trade unions used their licence to oppress given in the clauses of the Bill. It was not a Bill to subject industrial relations to judicial scrutiny; it was a Bill to deprive individuals and minorities of judicial protection when their basic freedoms were infringed.
The opposition to it did not come primarily from these Benches; it came from the Liberal Benches—and rightly, if I may say so, in view of the high traditions of that Party; it came from the Cross-Benches, and many of us will remeber for a long time the powerful condemnation of it which fell from the lips of the noble and learned Lord, Lord Salmon, who frankly admitted that if the Amendments in relation to Section 5 which we supported at the instance of the Liberal Party were carried, some at any rate of his criticisms would not be as well founded. We also remember the loud "Not-Content" which fell from the noble Lord, Lord George-Brown, at Second Reading.
As I say, we have improved the Bill since then. It would be a travesty of truth if it were ever suggested that either I or the Party of which I am a member desired in any way to have a confrontation with the Government on this subject, or with the House of Commons or the Labour majority in the House of Commons. On the contrary, there have been those in my Party and outside it who have thought, and have plainly said to me and to others, and in public, that we have gone too far the other way. If we have gone too far the other way, I believe that it has been a fault on the right side. But, at the end of the day, this House has a Constitutional duty to perform, and I do not think that we would be here in such numbers if it was not our intention to perform it honourably, so far as we may, and without seeking to provoke anyone else.
That duty is not performed, in my judgment at any rate, by remaining absolutely passive when we see serious and successive erosions of basic freedom and 301 of the rule of law and Constitutional principle, and when we see by a side wind —possibly unintended, but still a side wind—the threat to the freedom of the Press and freedom of expression. Noble Lords will have seen only today a letter of powerful support in The Times newspaper, which gives effect to the doubts which are felt about the intentions of the Party opposite.
We have no personal interest to defend in this matter: we have a Constitutional duty to perform, and a Constitutional responsibility to carry out. We have sought to discharge that duty and that responsibility. The Government have all the power today. They have their majority in the other House—docile at least for this purpose, if for no other—they have the right to create new Peerages, which they are not slow to exercise, and they have the Parliament Act, as amended in 1949, to support them. So that they may put on the Statute Book virtually any Statute they please, provided they do it by and with the consent of the Commons, and not by and with the consent of the Commons and the Lords Spiritual and Temporal in Parliament assembled. What they cannot do is to say that we have acted irresponsibly, immoderately, or unconstitutionally. What they cannot do, or at any rate what they have not done, is to defend their policy in terms which have convinced anyone who is not already a committed Member of the Labour Party.
The Bill will no doubt go back to another place now. I hope, and I say it as quietly as I can, that the Government will not act precipitately in this matter. I hope that they will consider carefully the weight of public opinion which has been ranged against them outside Parliament, and will realise that we have sought to do what we can to give effect to that public opinion. I hope very much that when they have reflected upon these matters we shall not be met with an obdurate or some absolutely unbending attitude. I have no desire to detain or delay the House any further.
§ 3.10 p.m.
§ Lord HOUGHTON of SOWERBY
My Lords, the noble and learned Lord, Lord Hailsham of Saint Marylebone, referred at the beginning of his speech to some comments which I made to your 302 Lordships at an earlier stage of the Bill, when I said that the Bill, in its unamended form, was a political necessity to the Labour Government and to the Labour Party. The justification I have for saying that was that a firm pledge was given by the Labour Party, in an agreement which has now become known as the Social Contract, to repeal the 1971 Act completely. This is what it was intended to do in the Act of 1974; but that Bill, when before another place and when before your Lordships' House, was amended in several forms which were unacceptable to the Government. Owing to the Parliamentary situation at that time, the Government were not able to reverse the Amendments which had been made to the 1974 Bill, but they said that it, after a General Election, the Labour Party came back with a majority they would seek to reverse the unacceptable decisions made by both Houses in the summer of last year. That explains why we have the Bill before us today. Had those Amendments to the Bill of 1974 not been passed, we should not be asked today to pass a Bill which substantially reverses what was done last year. The reason why this Bill is a necessity to the Labour Government is because it is indispensable to the fulfilment of the pledge given in the agreement reached before Labour came to Office in February, 1974, and again last October.
My Lords, I do not want to go over the past proceedings in your Lordships' House in respect of this Bill, but I feel impelled to delay your Lordships for a few minutes to say a little more about my own position on this Bill. The last time I spoke to your Lordships, on the 25th March, I became a little overheated. I hope I can put my point of view a little more coolly today; but I felt strongly then, and I feel strongly now, that the majority of your Lordships are ill-advised to return this Bill to another place in its present form.
Among a number of comments that I wish to make, the first is that I think it is regrettable how much mistrust of the policies and possible intentions of the National Union of Journalists has been spread around in earlier debates in this House, in the other place and elsewhere. There are few grounds and little evidence 303 for asking the House to legislate on surmise, speculation or against fear. On the contrary, the National Union of Journalists' Executive Committee have gone out of their way, while the Bill has been debated in this House, to dispel the fears upon which Lord Goodman's case rested so heavily. He has put it frankly and fearlessly to your Lordships. But I want to say quite strongly that he cannot rely on substantial evidence for the fears which he asks us to take into account.
My Lords, I draw your attention to a letter which appears in The Times this morning from Mr. Eric Winter, who is the Father of the Chapel of the magazine section of the International Publishing Corporation. In it, he says that no difficulties have arisen between the N.U.J. Chapel under his responsibility and the publishers in reaching agreement on a number of matters which would appear in a code of conduct or a charter proposed in the Amendment accepted by the House earlier on. I think that it augurs ill for the future of industrial relations when a majority of your Lordships are persuaded to endorse the spirit of mistrust which has been translated into the Bill. By contrast, I think that, despite all that we have heard and read about the safeguards needed to strengthen the rights of editors and others, the NUJ has refrained from making any provocative statement whatsoever in this controversy. I think that what they have said has been dignified and helpful, and I wish to repeat that at no stage has the NUJ or the Secretary of State asked for or hinted at my own intervention in this matter.
I was invited to an informal meeting with editors and proprietors of leading national newspapers to see whether their apprehensions could be met by an Amendment to this Bill. I was not alone; I was there with other Members of your Lord-ships' House. It was in consequence of that, and under no other influence, that I applied my mind to the problem with a genuine desire to find some accommodation which might be acceptable to the Government, to the editors and to the other interests concerned. I do not think there is anything reprehensible in trying to find an acceptable means of overcoming difficulties of this kind. But I find 304 that those whose cause I tried to serve now reject me and that the Amendment your Lordships wrote into the Bill at the Committee stage is now said by influential editorial and management opinion in newspapers to be totally unsatisfactory. My Lords, there is another letter which appears in The Times this morning from very responsible editors of national news-papers. There is, of course, one name missing: it is that of Mr. Alastair Hetherington, the Editor of the Guardian, who put his own point of view—a different one—in a very informative and temperate article that he wrote in the Guardian last Friday.
I must try only to remove the impression that I am seeking to imperil the freedom of the Press. That is absolute nonsense. I go a long way with the aims of the Amendments of the noble Lord, Lord Goodman, but I differ from him in the method of achieving his purpose. That is the substantial difference between us. I must deny that I am some obstacle in this matter, that I have attempted to put impediments in the way of the freedom of the Press. Must I go from being a would-be benefactor, a compromiser, if you like, who attempted to find an agreeable compromise, to become the culprit in this situation? I sincerely hope not. But as it is, and 1 make no complaint, the noble Lord, Lord Goodman, now carries the torch of the freedom of the Press. He bears the light and flame of the truth that editors want to publish without let or hindrance from the NUJ. I hand it to him. If the paper is to be stopped, it may be the fault of SOGAT or of the National Graphical Association, or even of the electricians; but, God save us from the NUJ!
Reading some of the newspapers the day after the previous debate one would have thought that the historic roles of David and Goliath had been reversed. It was Goliath who single-handed fought the enemies of the light and vanquished them in the end. It is that victory which we are asked to celebrate today with pleasantries and votes of thanks all round for co-operation in seeing the Bill through to be transmitted to another place. The message of freedom apparently is to resound down the corridors of power and the message must go that we in this House stand alone, if need be, in upholding one of the cardinal freedoms of a free 305 society. But, my Lords, let us be a little more realistic about this matter. We bear witness yet again to the determination of the Opposition and the lawyers and the editors to lean yet again on the broken reed of the law in situations where bitter experience has shown that the law cannot be enforced. While the Bill as amended on Report does not propose to make breach of the charter a criminal offence, it does propose to make observance of it a statutory duty "owed to any person who may be affected by a contravention of it". And any breach of that duty by industrial action or otherwise would be actionable. That could put five journalists instead of five dock workers into prison; it could result in the National Union of Journalists instead of the Amalgamated Engineers being fined £70,000; it could produce the Official Solicitor to release the men and the anonymous benefactor to pay the fine imposed on the union.
We have all been here before. By then history will have repeated itself and the law could look more ineffective and more foolish than before. Has not the blockade of the ports by offshore fishermen shown how futile it is to apply for and to obtain an injunction against collective action? Those who did not defy that injunction took evasive action, and the law was made to look ridiculous as well as ineffective. While we were discussing these matters on the Trade Union and Labour Relations Bill the staff of the Houses of Parliament were on strike. Had an injunction against them been possible would it have been applied for? Would it have been granted? Would it have been effective? Surely it is wise to face the facts of democratic life which are based on self-government, self-discipline and a sense of responsibility, rather than upon Statute Law where the conduct and behaviour of organised workers is concerned with what is called industrial action.
No law should be passed in Parliament which cannot be enforced, and those who cherish the precious possession of the sovereignty of Parliament should inquire whether it exists even at home in many areas of our public life today. Today, under conditions so different from the past, we have to acknowledge the fact that measures taken to enforce the law sixty or seventy years ago are not accept 306 able now—the Riot Act, the troops, the baton charges, the use of force. Who, fifty years ago had heard of the stay-in strike, of the sit-in, of the take-over, the squatters, the lightning strike and all the other manifestations of industrial discontent that we have witnessed in recent years? And whenever were proceedings taken against unlawful strikes in public utilities? Yet for a very long period of years, from 1875 in certain of the utility services (from 1919 in the case of the electricity services) strikes were unlawful; and never within my recollection has any injunction been sought to restrain workers in those utility industries from taking industrial action. In fact those laws were repealed in 1971.
My Lords, we need a new concept of law and order in the relationship between organised groups of citizens and the statutory powers of Parliament. The writ of Parliament no longer runs and the order of the courts is no longer obeyed where the arm of the law is not strong enough to prevail. The feeling in the trade unions at the present moment about the imprisonment of the Shrewsbury pickets —and there are only two of them—is causing the Home Secretary, the trade union movement and the Government a great deal of anxiety. There is wide-spread talk of a one-day general strike to endeavour to coerce the Government and Parliament to release these two men. What would it be like if there were 22, or 32, or 62 of them? Would the prison gates then be opened under the strong pressure of mass opinion and mass action?
These are the dangers which we face today and which we must try to overcome. But this Bill is not the way to do it. I am not satisfied with trade union law as it stands now. I shall not be satisfied with trade union law even though this Bill is passed in its original, unamended form. The unions have not yet summoned enough moral and institutional strength to govern themselves wisely and with tolerance, and this is the great danger to our community today. Yet the paradox is that the more we try to invoke the process of Statute Law to regulate their affairs and conduct, the more we lessen their capacity to put their own house in order. This must be accepted as one of the counter-productive elements in an attempt to put trade unions within the 307 framework of the law. I know that in Europe trade unions regard the law as their friend, as establishing their right; but in this country, whether we like it or not, trade unions regard the law as restricting their rights, as shackling them in their freedom of activity and movement. We have to understand that difference and try to meet it if we can. I believe that but for the 1971 Act we should now have been enjoying better industrial relations than we are at present. Millions of people will not be coerced. If, however, they reject the disciplines of Parliamentary law, they must find some self-discipline to take its place or we shall sink into anarchy or the perils of the dictatorship of a trade union State. Some people think that a showdown with the unions is inevitable, even if it brings us near to the brink of civil war. I profoundly hope that that is not a likelihood; I do not believe it is. But the situation has certainly been aggravated by the 1971 Act, and this Bill endeavours to remove the last traces of that unacceptable Act of Parliament.
Now, by the facile and silver tongues of lawyers and the naïvities of Conservative politicians, we are asked to set the stage for a miniature mock battle between editors and their journalists. What I and my noble friends say today may be brushed aside, but our words I think will be heeded rather more when the chips are down and when we get the message from another place. I profoundly hope that if it cannot prevail today then later the wise judgment of this House will understand some of the things I have been trying to persuade it to accept.
§ 3.29 p.m.
§ Lord LEATHERLAND
My Lords, there have been many references today, and in the earlier stages of this debate, to the National Union of Journalists and to the Fathers of editorial Chapels. I have been in the National Union of Journalists for 54 years and now enjoy the dignity of being one of its life members. On the daily newspaper where I spent a great deal of my working life before I rose to executive roles, I was for several years Father of the editorial Chapel so I do not speak exactly as a virgin. My Lords, if brevity be a virtue, I shall be very virtuous this afternoon. I have only 308 one point to make and that may be something in the nature of a minor point—a procedural or a Committee point. However, I feel that this House and the news-papers generally have been misrepresenting the position when they have pretended that the battle over the Bill is a fight for the freedom of the Press, when it is in fact a fight for the freedom of trade unionists to defend the interests of their members.
The point to which I wish to draw attention is contained in Clause 4(8) on page 5 of the Bill. This is a Government Bill, so I must perforce direct any remarks I have to make upon it to my noble friend on the Front Bench. If I have any criticisms, I must direct them to him and if I have any condemnation of slipshod drafting, I must direct that to him. Perhaps, however, he may have an alibi and will be able to shift the responsibility to someone else on the Cross-Benches. Clause 4(8) says that industrial action is actionable and then goes on to define in subsection (9)(a) that industrial action means,a concerted stoppage of work … whether … the stoppage … is carried on during or on the termination of their employment …My Lords, let me put myself once again in the position of a working journalist. How would this affect me? The clause makes it clear that a stoppage of work is actionable—
§ Lord CARRINGTON
My Lords, I wonder whether I may interrupt the noble Lord? I apologise for doing so, but there has been a tendency recently in your Lordships' House to forget what is the purpose of the various stages of a Bill. We are now moving that the Bill do now pass, but the noble Lord is going into considerable detail on what, in ordinary circumstances, would be a Committee point or a point which should be made at Report stage. Of course I would not wish to stop the noble Lord, but I suggest to the noble Lord the Leader of the House that perhaps in the future we might all pay a little more attention to the purposes of the various staees of a Bill.
§ Lord LEATHERLAND
My Lords, my purpose was to draw attention to something that is wrong and improper in the Bill, which it is too late for this House to remedy but of which the other place might take note.
§ Lord HAILSHAM of SAINT MARYLEBONE
With respect, my Lords, the other place cannot do that. Nothing can be done to remedy Clause 4(8), because the only thing the other place can do after it has sent the Bill up to us with that clause in it is to consider our Amendments. It is perfectly proper for the noble Lord to draw attention to any weaknesses of drafting, although it may be rather a late stage, but I suggest that he should do so by letter to the noble Lord the Leader of the House, because this House can do absolutely nothing about it at this stage except refuse to pass the Bill, which I do not think anyone would wish to do.
§ Lord SHEPHERD
My Lords, I cannot disagree with what the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, has just said in terms of what we should be doing on Third Reading, though I shall not go as far as he in terms of making it a general criticism of your Lordships' House. I think, however, that I should say to the noble and learned Lord, Lord Hailsham, that the subsection to which my noble friend is referring is a new part of the Bill which was put in at Report. If it is imperfect—and I indicated to the noble Lord, Lord Goodman, at Report stage that there were some imperfections in his Amendments—I believe that it will be possible, if my noble friend draws our attention to an imperfection in an Amendment made by your Lordships' House, for another place to bring it to our notice and make the necessary Amendment which we would then consider. However, I hope that my noble friend will treat this as a Third Reading debate and make his point very briefly. If it is to be of any length, perhaps he will speak to me outside and I will see that the matter is communicated to my friends in another place.
§ Lord LEATHERLAND
My Lords, I thank my noble friend and noble Lords on the other side for drawing attention to this matter. I believe that there is a real imperfection in the clause and hope that some steps can be taken to remedy it, either here or elsewhere; or, if not, it must be known to those in the newspaper industry that this imperfection exists.
Subsection (8) says that a stoppage of work is actionable. If a stoppage of work takes place during the employment of a person, that is perfectly understand 310 able, but if the employment of that person has been terminated how on earth can he continue to work? Is the law to compel him to organise a "sit-in" or a takeover of the plant? He has already been sacked by his employer. How can he then continue to work, and how can it be held that his stoppage of work has constituted what is equivalent to an offence under the clause? That is all I have to say. I feel that if Clause 4(8) is passed in its present form it will lead to a very great deal of complication. I sincerely hope that at some stage and in some place this matter can be remedied.
§ Lord GORDON-WALKER
My Lords, I should like very briefly to make three points. The Bill is going to another place containing the Amendment for which the noble Lord, Lord Goodman, was primarily responsible. It seems to me that noble Lords who supported that Amendment did so on the basis of rather contradictory and inconsistent arguments. First of all, it was said that it would be a great danger to the Press if the Secretary of State were entitled to impose a code upon them. At the same time, it was argued that what was called the "Lord Houghton Amendment" was so toothless that it was not worth having. It does not seem to me that one can maintain both those points and argue that it is an absolutely hopeless Amendment which no one could enforce, and also that it is an extremely dangerous Amendment which will go to the very root of the liberty of the Press.
Secondly, it seems to me that, in effect, the Amendment of the noble Lord, Lord Goodman, reimposes the worst aspects of the Industrial Relations Act upon one single industry, and, indeed, upon one single union. If the Amendment remains in the Bill, I believe that it will poison industrial relations in the Press in a way which would not happen if the Amendment had not been included. My third point relates to a remark made by the noble and learned Lord, Lord Hailsham, when he spoke of the use of the Parliament Act, from which I infer that he may have it in mind to use the majority behind him in this House to challenge the other place twice on the same issue.
§ Lord HAILSHAM of SAINT MARYLEBONE
My Lords, I said nothing of the kind. I only said that the 311 Government had the ultimate power and that they could use it if they wished, provided that in the last resort they were prepared to adopt a different formula from that which accompanies most Acts of Parliament. It may be that it would more accurately reflect the real opinion of Parliament if they did so. That is all I said. I said nothing about future intentions, and I think that the noble Lord was trying to read an interpretation into what I said which it certainly was not intended to bear, and I can assure him that it does not bear it. No decision has been taken about what we should do in a certain eventuality.
§ Lord GORDON-WALKER
My Lords, I did not say that the noble and learned Lord had said such a thing. I said that his words had given rise to fears in my mind that that was what lay behind what he said. I am very glad to hear that he does not intend it, but I must say that other words have come to my ears about this intention of the Conservative majority in the House to consider challenging the other place twice on the same issue. As a very recent Member of this House, I have learned greatly to respect it, to respect its powers and the use it makes of them, and to respect its influence. However, I have very grave fears that, if the intention is to challenge the other place twice on the same issue, this House will not come unscathed out of such a confrontation.
§ 3.40 p.m.
§ Lord SHEPHERD
My Lords, this Bill has now been before your Lordships' House. It has been considered here and it now goes to another place. I do not intend to say a great deal about the Bill itself. It was part of our Manifesto, in which we said that we would deal with the 1971 Act, and it was a consequence, shall we say, of some misadventure in another place which made it necessary— or created a necessity—for this Bill in this Parliament. I personally regret it because I should much prefer to have dealt with the labour relations situation —which my noble friend, Lord Houghton of Sowerby, stressed so much—in the Employment Protection Bill which will be introduced shortly in another place, when we can deal with labour relations as a whole, and in a constructive way.
312 I can only say to the noble and learned Lord that I enjoyed his speech. Perhaps one day, when he has a few moments of quiet, he will come and tell me what it is like to be part of a docile majority. I have been in your Lordships' House for twenty years and I have never had that pleasure. I do not think that my right honourable friend the Parliamentary Secretary to the Treasury—or the Chief Whip—would suggest that his majority in another place is exactly docile—
§ Lord SHEPHERD
The noble and learned Lord as always has a qualification. The Bill goes to another place, and we shall then have to consider whatever may be the message from there. I am very sorry that the constitutional issue has arisen at this stage. I think that we are a long way away from that situation, and I hope that it is the wish of your Lordships' House that such a situation will not be created—certainly it will not be created lightly by one side or the other.
I will therefore leave that aspect aside. What has been said about this Bill will be considered by another place—certainly the speeches that have been made in support of the Amendments have been drawn to the attention of my right honourable friend; and I shall certainly be having further discussions with him. But I should not lead the House to believe that the issues which have been created are in any way easy for the Government. It is not that we have anything between us. I believe that in what we are seeking— the rights of an individual, to which the noble and learned Lord attaches great importance, as do the noble Lords on the Liberal Benches, or in the question of freedom of the Press—there is nothing between us. In fact, throughout our debates I do not believe that that has ever been questioned. What is open is the method of achieving it; and here there is a fundamental disagreement between us. There will be another opportunity for this to be considered. Therefore I suggest that we let the Bill go to another place; let another place consider the matter, as we have done on many occasions in the past; and when the Bill returns with the message from another 313 place, it will be for us coolly, calmly, and, I hope, with a sense of responsibility, to consider what is sent to us, and then for us to make our decision. My Lords, I commend that action to your Lordships' House—
§ Lord GOODMAN
My Lords, before the noble Lord sits down, would he be good enough to dissociate himself from the remarks of the noble Lord who indicated that if this House did decide to take a particular course, that the most terrible things might happen to it? That does not seem to me consistent with an attitude of leaving the matter to be determined by cool objectivity.
§ Lord SHEPHERD
My Lords, I do not think that I am called upon to dissociate myself from any speech made by my noble friends, or any speech made in any other part of the House. As to what dreadful effect might fall upon your Lordships' House—well, it might be that the bar and the guests' room and the lounge would become more crowded. That would be, as the noble and learned Lord himself suggested, a way of dealing with the situation. The Liberal Party, I believe, consider this as a means. I hope that this will not arise. I think that it is still a long way away and I think that cool and wise heads should now prevail.
§ On Question, Bill passed, and returned to the Commons.