§ 3.6 p.m.
§ Lord O'HAGAN rose to call attention to the decline in respect for authority, and to the need to reassert the primacy of the law; and to move for Papers. The noble Lord said: My Lords, during the ancient and moving ceremony which once again we have just witnessed when 480 a new Member has been added to our ranks, we heard, as the reasons for which each of us is summoned by Her Majesty to this Assembly, those words which always strike me deeply—"arduous and urgent affairs".
§ I submit to your Lordships that of all the arduous and urgent affairs which we should be considering at the moment, that which I am bringing forward this afternoon is almost the most arduous and the most urgent. I think that it is one upon which noble Lords can bring to bear their collective wisdom. In introducing this debate I am not speaking just about what is commonly called law and order; I am trying to introduce a discussion of all the restraints and constraints which are necessary for the maintenance of a democratic and civilised society, a discussion which I believe this House is very capable of undertaking. Nor am I merely issuing forth a lament for the end of a deferential society, nor am I attempting to lay the blame for the rise in crime throughout the Western World at the door of Her Majesty's Government. If I make some stern comments, I do so because the subject of today's debate is too important for bland trivialities and because our attitudes to this subject reveal our innermost and deepest political convictions.
Nearly 40 years ago my cousin John Strachey published his most famous work, The Coining Struggle for Power. I should like to read to your Lordships one sentence from that work:
The alternative to the violence entailed by the lifting of human life to a new level is the violence entailed by the decline of human society, the breakup of such world civilisation as exists, the dawn of a new dark age of perpetual conflict.
A little before that he said this:
For if men hesitate before the task of achieving a new civilisation, if they draw back because no new order of society can be born without violent conflict, then they will not achieve an epoch of peaceful stability.
If my cousin were alive today, I am sure that the political odyssey which took him from the Conservative Party through every other kind of Party, would have led him back with Paul Johnson, and his biographer Hugh Thomas, to where he should have been. However, the point I am trying to make is not that all noble
Lords opposite are individually subversive but that collectively they present a growing menace to the preservation—
§ Several noble Lords: Oh!
§ Lord O'HAGAN
My Lords, I promised something to talk and argue about, and I am starting now.
§ Lord DAVIES of LEEK
But, my Lords, the noble Lord is already in orbit.
§ Lord O'HAGAN
My Lords, if the noble Lord will follow me, he, too, will be in the right orbit. There has always been an element, a streak of thought, within the Labour movement and the Labour Party, going back to Laski and Cripps, and today manifesting itself in the tendencies towards Marxism— "Benninism"—which have once again found strength in the Labour Party. The point I want to make is, that all political Parties in Government have to have some of the tendencies inherent within them restrained by our ancient Parliamentary traditions, and one of the factors that disturbs me most in the behaviour of Her Majesty's Government is their attitude to the Parliamentary restraints—five guillotine Motions in one day.
§ The LORD PRIVY SEAL (Lord Peart)
My Lords, I do not usually intervene, but I hope the noble Lord will remember that a Conservative Government pushed through the European Communities Bill without proper discussion; we were not able to amend it. To talk in this way really is to spoil a debate which I think could be useful.
§ Lord O'HAGAN
My Lords, I have come to this House to debate some serious issues. I may be young but I am not young enough to be treated like a schoolboy, and I intend to persist. I ask the indulgence of the House to let me continue so that I will take less time. What I want to stress to your Lordships is that, if and when the Government begin to set aside the traditional bulwarks that our ancestors have built up, which hold back any Government from implementing their policies too far and too fast, then we should begin to worry, and we have had sufficient evidence of this over recent Sessions.
482 Why do I begin in this awkward and difficult way? It is because I think that all Governments have a duty to lead, to set an example, and the general level of acceptance of authority is conditioned by the respect that they themselves show to the authority which is and should be above us all. I think this Government have a bad record; think it is a record of shame. I think the story of the TV licences, Thameside, Skytrain and Clay Cross are a catalogue of shameful episodes in a Government which should be giving a lead. And the worst thing of all perhaps was the picketing, peaceful though it might have been, on the Grunwick picket line.
Why have I decided to raise this awkward series of questions at the beginning of this debate? It is because I believe the Government are only just held back by the creaking limits which we have imposed upon them in our ancient Constitution. What I am concerned about is the need for all Governments to give a lead, as an example to those in authority, so that all the various sources of authority within our community can take strength from their example. The first point I am trying to make is that I do not believe that this Government have shown a good example for the preservation of authority in this country.
I want to turn to the role of the police force. I think the way in which any Government treats the police force is a useful indicator of the sort of importance they attach to the maintenance of law and order and the wider questions that I have raised. I should like to ask the noble and learned Lord who is to reply whether he could give the full figures on recent resignations from the police force which his honourable colleague the Minister of State was unable to give in another place. The police are seriously worried about the falling off in their numbers. However quickly and however fully the Government bring into force the recommendations of the Lord Edmund-Davies Committee, that Committee should have been set up a long time ago, and much of the damage has already been done.
None of us can forget the dangers and difficulties posed by the marches at Ilford. It took a quarter of the Metropolitan Police Force, it took £200,000, to deal with that episode. If the police are to sustain their normal duties in the areas 483 which they normally police, as well as carry out these exceptional duties, then we need a stronger police force, one that is better paid and is fuller of recruits. What I am particularly concerned about, as I am sure we all ought to be, is the number of more experienced officers leaving, as well as those lower down in the ranks.
I have tried to pick out one or two of the aspects of the subject which we are debating this afternoon, and I am leaving others to continue on particular lines from their own particular expertise. Nor is it my role to put forward this afternoon specific proposals from the Party I have the honour to represent, because that has been done in another place by my right honourable friends Mr. Whitelaw and Mr. Howell earlier in the week. However, there is one other theme that I should like to introduce at the beginning of this debate. Our discussions are inevitably incomplete without the presence and the contribution of my noble and learned friend Lord Hailsham. As I cannot imitate him, all I can do is quote him. If I may take one sentence from one of his earlier works, my noble and learned friend said this:Conservatives believe in variety and liberty of development under the rule of law. Law they regard as something neither the enemy of liberty nor of authority, but reconciling both.My Motion talks of the need to reassert the primacy of the law and a reconciliation, as my noble and learned friend put it, of liberty and authority.
This subject is not one restricted to the narrow confines of the responsibilities of the Home Office. We are looking at all the stresses and strains which are working against the cohesion of society. If one was not careful one would be talking about every Minister in every Department that exists in Westminster and Whitehall today. I will not attempt to talk about everything. I do want to say a word about another major challenge which has been posed to our very adoptive, very adaptive and very evolutionary social system. I want to say something about race.
I support fully what has been said by our next Prime Minister, Mrs. Thatcher, and Mr. Whitelaw about race and immigration. In the sense in which the term is often used, too, am an immigrant. I am a descendant of someone 484 who came here looking for work, which is what many of those we now call immigrants were. If there are loopholes which can be closed, while still honouring our international commitments to our citizens and abiding by the European Convention, so be it. But as for those who advanced their political careers by dabbling in the rivers of blood, let them realise that their doctrines of racial purity have no place in British politics. Many of us were perhaps too optimistic about the ease with which an unprosperous Britain could cope with new cultures and new colours, but laments about the past are no use to the unemployed blacks of West Indian origin. What do they need? What do they want from authority? They want employment.
The challenge of race leads to inner cities and inner cities lead to the young unemployed and vandalism. One could go on all afternoon about the various aspects of this subject. However, I want to end by saying something more definite about the primacy of the law and I only wish that the noble and learned Lord, Lord Denning, or other noble and learned Lords were present to say it better than I. As I feel it as well as believe it, the law must be above us all. As the nation grows uncertain, so the security offered by our Statutes and common law is more necessary and more reassuring.
Years ago the sovereignty of power belonged to the King, who surrendered it to Parliament. Now Her Majesty's Government, through the control of Parliament, can use and abuse Parliamentary sovereignty as they wish—nothing is beyond the reach of our newly-elected monarchs in the Government. Yet, this headlong path to Parliamentary tyranny must be diverted, if need be blocked, by the reassertion of the law. A Bill of Rights is necessary in my view, but a Bill of Rights will be merely a rickety hurdle against an overpowerful and overmighty Government unless we all reassert our support for the Judiciary and our legal system as the guardians of our Constitution.
I am delighted that so many of your Lordships are to take part in this debate. I am particularly glad that two of my noble friends have chosen to make their maiden speech on this all-important topic. My 485 role is simply that of the prologue, introducing what I believe to be a proper activity for a second Chamber fulfilling a useful and constructive role within the Constitution. At the risk of sounding like an anthology I would remind your Lordships of the words of the Earl of Chatham in 1770. Indeed, I took those words as my motto when trying to prepare for today's debate. The Earl of Chatham was speaking about John Wilkes who caused him to say:Where law ends tyranny begins.I think that that is something that we need to bear in mind.
believe that all Governments must keep sight of the great division between lawful authority and the edge of tyranny. I am sure that the various aspects of this subject will be amply covered by all those noble Lords who are to participate in today's debate. I hope that what we say here today will enable this House and this country to continue to move along a constitutional path towards the preservation of authority. My Lords, I beg to move for Papers.
§ 3.24 p.m.
§ Lord WIGODER
My Lords, I was going to begin by congratulating all the noble Lords on the Conservative Benches for having the courage to choose today—one of their Party's days—to debate a topic which is of the greatest possible public importance, but one of which, I must confess, I assumed nobody would seek to take Party political advantage. Having listened to the most able and, if he will forgive me for saying so, slightly provocative observations of the noble Lord, Lord O'Hagan, it would perhaps not be entirely appropriate if I were to begin in that way.
We are asked today to have regard to the decline in respect for authority, but I take that not to refer to blind obedience to irrational orders promulgated by faceless bureaucrats. We are asked today to have regard to the primacy of the law. I take that to mean the primacy of reasonable laws passed after full discussions by properly democratically elected assemblies. I say that because I believe that part of the problem that has arisen in recent years in this country is that a vast gulf has grown up between the governors and 486 the governed—a gulf between the ordinary people who are expected to obey the law and the politicians, civil servants and judges who are expected to make and to administer the laws. I believe that we shall never solve this problem until we have a genuinely participatory democracy in which ordinary people feel that they are themselves playing a real part in the election of Members of Parliament and in the formulation of our laws.
We have learned one lesson in recent years. It is that it is quite idle and, indeed, counter-productive to seek to pass laws knowing in advance that the vast majority of the community are either unwilling to accept them or will positively oppose them. There is a speed at which one can go in legislation. We have, I think, exceeded that speed many times in recent years and, as a result, we have paid the penalty. I accept the point made by the noble Lord, Lord O'Hagan, that to some extent the problem has been increased by indications from time to time that people who should know better are prepared to countenance breaches of the law. I do not forget the local district councillors in Derbyshire who quite deliberately defied the law and who were actively supported by many prominent politicians. I cannot forget that at present there is a colony in revolt against the Queen and that the Government of that colony is being actively supported by some prominent politicians. I believe that, unless the community as a whole is prepared to enforce the law and to be seen to be abiding by it, it is perhaps unreasonable for those of us in Parliament to turn round and accuse youngsters of breaking the law in one way or another at a Saturday afternoon football match.
If we talk about the primacy of the law, your Lordships' discussion will inevitably come on to what is sometimes called "the crime wave", and to ways of dealing with it. If I may say so, one ought not to become hysterical about this situation. It is, as the noble Lord, Lord O'Hagan, said, a common problem throughout the whole of Western industrial society—indeed, there are some indications that it is a great deal worse in other countries and has been growing more rapidly than it has in this country. The last set of criminal statistics that I have seen showed that in 1976 the total number of indictable 487 offences was up as compared with 1975, but by a very, very small amount—something like 1 per cent. of the whole. It appeared to show that the offence which is most frequently referred to when one is dealing with questions about the crime wave—the offence of robbery—had remained static in number as between 1975 and 1976. I mention that offence in particular, but it is sometimes called "mugging", because there are those who appear to think that, if they can in some way associate the immigrant community with an increase in violence and an increase in the crime of mugging, it may be that there are votes to be obtained on the strength of it. I doubt whether the statistics bear out their argument.
The noble Lord, Lord O'Hagan, was right, of course, to refer to the fact that the police force is lamentably below strength in many areas—lamentably below strength even though there has been a net increase in the number of police officers over recent years. I have no doubt that noble Lords in all parts of the House will want to see that situation remedied. The noble and learned Lord, Lord Edmund-Davies is, as your Lordships know, at present presiding over a committee that will in due course make recommendations about police pay. However, I do not think that we should regard that as an easy solution. We do not know to what extent the falling off in recruitment to the police force is solely the result of dissatisfaction with the financial terms of service. We do not know to what extent pay would have to be raised in order that the police force would be brought up to its full level. We do not know what the total cost would be. Those who talk about these matters ought to have some figures in mind before saying, as though it were a simple solution, that if you pay them more that is all you have to do. Indeed, when we do discover what the figure is we have to consider whether we are prepared to blow a great hole in a wage restraint policy which, on the whole, has proved successful in keeping down the rate of inflation. These are all problems that will require time and patience.
Dealing with the police for a moment, if I may be faintly nostalgic, I am sorry that the days of the small borough police force have gone, where police officers felt an attachment to a local community which 488 was good for their morale, whereas they now find they may have to serve miles away from their own home in some amorphous county body. I am sorry that the days of the village policemen have gone—an officer who knew exactly what was going on in the village, and if he did not know was able to find out very quickly. I am sorry in a way that the increased mechanisation of the police force, which has produced many great benefits, has at the same time led to a startling reduction in the number of police officers engaged on the dull job of patrolling the footpaths on the beat by day and particularly by night. These are all matters which can be considered. Obviously we need more police as part of a solution to this problem, but equally obviously I would suggest it is a difficult road to follow. It is not going to be a complete solution and it is one that is bound to take some little time.
Having mentioned the question of the police force, which is really the means of preventing and arresting criminals, may I say one or two words about the possibility of dealing with this problem by way of punishing criminals. I assume that most of your Lordships would feel that in a civilised society, however uncivilised some of its members may be, we do not deal with them in an uncivilised way, and I hope very much that we are not going to have any observations this afternoon about hanging or flogging or severing peoples' limbs or any penalties of that sort.
The question of punishment is a very difficult one. It will be said by some that we should pass longer sentences, that we should send more people to prison. I think the short answer to that is that whether it is desirable or not—and I doubt whether its worth as a policy has ever been proved—the prisons are so grossly overcrowded that it is quite impracticable, and I doubt very much if any political Party would be prepared to go forward at the next Election and put at the top of its manifesto that it proposes to add so much to income tax in order to raise the revenue to build new prisons. I suggest that the approach must be a gradual one.
There is the question that has been raised—and I do not propose to go over the old ground which we debated in the Criminal Law Act—as to whether it is wise to have the present restrictions on 489 sending young people to prison for a medium length term. There is the proposal that was raised by Mr. Whitelaw in the other House, and which has been raised on many occasions recently, about some form of glasshouse as a solution to the problems of young offenders. I have not the slightest doubt that a strict régime of that sort, extremely unpleasant, would cause a good deal of satisfaction to the victims of the crime and a good deal of satisfaction to the community as a whole. These are not by any means unworthy objects of punishment, but I think one has to consider with very great care whether they would contribute towards deterring juvenile offenders.
I can only remind your Lordships that we used to have the equivalent of glasshouses not so very long ago. We used to have detention centres which were designed purely and simply to deliver a short sharp shock—which are the words so frequently quoted by those who are now advocating this new proposal. They were not a success. The last figures I saw before 1970, when the regime was altered to the rather more educative regime that exists today, were that the re-conviction rate was verging on 50 per cent.— one in two was being re-convicted shortly after release from an institution of that nature. I doubt very much whether, without great care and great research, a proposal of that sort is likely to help.
§ Lord HARRIS of GREENWICH
My Lords, I apologise to the noble Lord, Lord Wigoder, for intervening but 1 think this is an important matter and the glasshouse policy was one clear suggestion which came out of the debate in another place earlier this week. I agree with the noble Lord that one should not debate these matters in a partisan way, and it has always been my intention not to do so. But may I ask the noble Lord whether he is aware—as I suspect he is—that the move away from the policy of glasshouses began with Mr. Maudling when he was Home Secretary, when an instruction went out from the Home Office indicating the new approach to these matters, and was continued when the noble Lord, Lord Carr of Hadley, was Home Secretary? Therefore many of us are extremely mystified about what exactly is the proposal coming from the Conservative Benches on this matter.
§ Lord WIGODER
My Lords, my recollection was clear that it was not a Liberal Government. There is one other suggestion that has been made recently—
§ Baroness WOOTTON of ABINGER
My Lords, I think "a short sharp shock" is a quotation from a Gilbert and Sullivan opera, and it concludes with the words:a chippy chippy chopper on a big black block".It is therefore a requisition for beheading the offender.
§ Lord WIGODER
My Lords, I am grateful for that piece of information. There is one other suggestion that has been made which I might venture to support, though I doubt that it will materially contribute to the solution of this problem. It is that I believe that magistrates' juvenile courts have somewhat inadequate powers in dealing with persistent offenders. The last figures I saw for the metropolitan area showed that in one year 106 juveniles—the worst of them—had between them committed 3,735 offences, and yet they are dealt with by juvenile courts which for practical purposes have no effective power to enforce nonpayment of fines or supervision orders if they are broken. For practical purposes they are limited to making care orders to the local authority, who can then, if they wish—and they very frequently do—send the children back home. Although it is only a small contribution in regard to this problem, I believe that it may be possible to deal with some of the persistent juvenile offenders by giving the juvenile courts better powers to see that when this happens they are placed in secure places of one sort or another.
These seem to me to be all the suggestions so far put forward as a way of dealing with the crime wave. I would suggest that they do not amount to very much. The reason why they do not amount to very much is because the problem is not capable of being solved in these terms. It can only be solved if one looks at the causes of the crime wave and tries to see what can be done about those causes. One then finds that one is embarking on a vast area of social and economic affairs which are not conducive to Party political controversy.
491 May I indicate the sort of matters I have in mind. One looks at the problem of broken homes, of homes where the marriage is subsisting but the wife as well as the husband is going out to work and there is no proper discipline in the home. One looks at the problems of upbringing in the schools—very large classes and, one must say, from time to time a certain number of young teachers who are perhaps not particularly enthusiastic about inculcating in their pupils our accepted standards of society. One looks at the whole problem of religious and moral upbringing. I must say that I am sorry that no right reverend Prelate has found himself able to speak this afternoon on this aspect of the matter, because I believe that in the long run it has a great contribution to make in regard to this problem.
One looks at all the environmental problems—the decay of the urban centres, the high-rise flats and the lack of adequate leisure facilities. One looks at all the economic problems, the boredom that is induced by unemployment and the boredom that is induced by working in a monotonous job, for instance, working on a conveyer belt in some mass production factory. One is perhaps not entirely surprised that people in that situation seek a little excitement every now and again on a Saturday afternoon when they are gathered together at a football match.
One looks at the problems that have been caused by drink among young people and by the increase in the amount of drugs that are being taken. The word "drugs" leads me at once to consider the problem posed by television, which night after night relays a diet of violence to those who watch it. I should not want to say that television is responsible for outbreaks of crime—I do not know; the matter has not been researched. However, I very much doubt whether it diminishes the amount of violent crime; beyond that I would not want to go.
One can go on in these terms covering this vast area, but it would be unreasonable for me to do so. Perhaps I might add that one particular issue has arisen in recent times—and the noble Lord, Lord O'Hagan, touched on it—namely, the very grave threat that has arisen to public 492 order in this country as a result of the growth of two political Parties, the National Front and the Socialist Workers, both of whom seek to provoke the maximum amount of civil disorder and neither of whom is in the least concerned for the preservation of our civil liberties. Again, perhaps one should try neither to exaggerate nor to minimise the danger presented by the National Front. I note, for example, that at a crucial by-election meeting last week for it as a Party it was able only to collect 500 people together by bringing them in from all parts of the country. I note that in Leicester, where it was thriving at the local elections, last year its share of the poll went down and not up. Again, I do not believe that we ought to exaggerate the threat from that gang of desperadoes. Equally, of course, we ought not to minimise it.
I cannot help wondering when we deal with them what exactly is meant by this question of their right to march. I know of no such right. People have the right to use the highway for their lawful purposes to go about their lawful business. I know of no right to assemble in strength and march along with a view to terrifying others and causing the greatest possible disorder. I believe that we should not be too mealy-mouthed, if we want to see our democratic system survive, in dealing with people who are openly and blatantly out to defy that system.
I have ventured to touch on only a few of the problems. Many noble Lords will want to speak and will be discussing these and many other problems. In passing, perhaps I could apologise for the fact that I might not be able to stay until the end of this debate, for which I am extremely sorry. My conclusion is neither optimistic nor pessimistic; it is that we are debating a vast problem with an immense number of facets to it, that there are no easy answers and that we must research and work on the problems, and make slow and steady progress in a whole series of different directions in order that ultimately we shall produce a fully law-abiding society.
§ 3.44 p.m.
§ Lord GARDINER
My Lords, I am told by the Whips that I am normally regarded as making short speeches. If today I am not as short as usual, it will be due to the fact, first, that there are 493 relatively few Back-Bench speakers on this side of the House compared with the number on the other side and, secondly, it will be due to the responsibility that one feels as an opening batsman. This is a very big and important subject, and in any case I should not take more than two or three points because we must be selective.
First, I suppose there can be no doubt that in this country the man who knows most about the facts on crime, both here and abroad—the different penological theories, what measures have been tried to stop crime, and which have succeeded and which have not—is Sir Leon Radzinowicz, who for so long was the Director of the Institute of Criminology at Cambridge. He and Joan King have recently published a book entitled The Growth of Crime—the International Experience. I am hound to say that it is a book of almost unrelieved gloom. He points out that ever since the last World War all the Western democracies which took part in it have experienced an enormous increase in the rate of crime; that although almost every method has been tried in one country or another, practically nothing has been successful, and he asks when it will all end.
Naturally, therefore, I have been at pains to try to ascertain from the book what, if I may put it this way, he regards as our best bet; because although it is true that the rate of crime in this country is slowing down a bit and that experiences in other countries—particularly, the United States and Canada—have been worse, it is still enormously high.
I read only yesterday—I have not had time to check the sources—that in 1976 there was a burglary or a house-breaking in Greater London every 10 minutes and that every day 363 cars or their contents were stolen. Therefore, we have no right to be complacent. It is quite clear what Sir Leon Radzinowicz regards as the best bet. It is the deterrence—not the deterrence of severity of punishment—we obtain by having a high probability of detection. At page 130 he says:The chance of detection—or rather the chance as seen by a person tempted to crime—stands out as the most crucial factor in the whole chain of deterrence.On 15th July 1964, which is a long time ago, with great trepidation I first spoke 494 in a Wednesday debate in your Lordships' House when, at the request of my noble friend Lord Shepherd, I opened a debate on crime and penal reform. As I told the House then, in the days before the war the position was clear. One could walk into any police district one liked and they all confirmed the same basic central fact. Although crime sometimes went up and sometimes went down, the clear fact was that if the conviction rate—by which I mean the relationship between the convictions and all the crimes known to the police—went up, crime went down; if the conviction rate went down, crime went up. I have never understood why that is extraordinary. Of course, it means that when a young man has been invited by a peer group to join in a housebreaking, no doubt he is affected by many things, including whether he has been brought up by his father and mother to know the difference between right and wrong; but what mostly determines him when he is wobbling is the fact that if he thinks he will get away with the job, he will do it, and if he thinks that, having done the job, he will be caught and punished, he will not do it. What the precise punishment will be is a secondary deterrent because, by and large, if he thinks he will be caught and punished he will not do it anyway.
In those days in England and Wales the conviction rate for indictable offences was always over 50 per cent. So if one committed a serious crime in this country the probability was that one would be caught and punished. Although I do not suggest that criminals are great readers of criminal statistics, they do have a pretty good idea of the state of the market. What has happened since the war is that the conviction rate has gone down and down. As I said in that debate 13 years ago—I had been making inquiries—I found that then in London if you did a robbery with violence it was three to one that you would not be caught or punished at all; if you did a housebreaking job it was six to one that you would not be caught or punished at all; if you stole something from a stationary car it was 12 to one that you would not be caught or punished at all.
What then was the cause of this disastrous fall in the conviction rate? It was very simple. We had never increased the police force to match the increase in 495 crime. No one Government are responsible for this. I draw no distinction between the political Parties. No Party has ever attempted to deal with it. Being interested in this subject, and having no idea there was going to be a debate on law and order in this House, on the 10th November last year I put down this Question for Written Answer:By what percentage the numbers ofThe Answer was this—it is a bit involved:
in the London metropolis have increased since 1939?".
- (1) indictable offences
- (2) police officersThe number of crimes known to the Metropolitan Police and the City of London Police in 1939 was 96,914. The number of indictable offences recorded as known to the same two forces in 1976 was 477,616. This gives an increase of 393 per cent., but because of changes in the law, in the boundaries of the Metropolitan Police District and in recording practice, the figures are not precisely comparable.The combined strengths of the two forces on 30th September 1939 was 19,935, as against 22,960 on 30th September this year, an increase of 15.1 per cent.".So this is the broad picture: crime has increased 400 per cent; the police have increased 15 per cent.
Well, what do you expect to happen? When I was a boy in London you never knew when the local bobby might come round the corner. The local bobby was a bit of a gossip sometimes, and he knew his local customers. They have all gone now. Because of this steep decline in the police force in relation to crime there are not the people to do the work. Therefore, all I can say quite shortly is that I entirely agree with Mrs. Thatcher, who first raised this point recently, and with what Mr. Whitelaw said: our first priority is to increase the police force to cope with the increase in crime.
I sincerely congratulate her on her recent conversion on this point. It may not be a recent conversion; she may have thought this for some years. But if she has, since the war we have had at least four Conservative Governments occupying 17 years in power who, apart from talking about law and order shortly before a General Election, have had every opportunity of putting remedies into force. What a pity she did not tell her predecessors about this—the noble Lord, Lord Home of the Hirsel, or Mr. Heath, with whom she 496 must then have been on speaking terms. I am sure she is absolutely right. As I say, I draw no distinction between the Parties. Every Government since the war have, in my view, been gravely to blame for never having increased our police force to meet the increase in crime, which is the only way in which we can increase the conviction rate and therefore lower the number of criminal offences committed.
I am not at all hopeful about anything in this field. I remain extremely gloomy, and for two reasons. The first is that, as Sir Peter Rawlinson said on Monday, this would mean a massive shift in resources. We all know that when there are additional Government resources everybody has a different view as to the field in which the money should be spent. Some will say that our National Health Service used to be our pride and joy; now most of the EEC countries spend far more on public health than we do. It is running into the ground for shortage of funds. Others will say of additional resources that we must spend them on more armaments. What the Home Office will be left with we do not know.
Secondly, I very much fear that this Home Secretary, and possibly any Home Secretary, is going to say—and I very much regret it—"If I have got any money to spend I am going to spend it on building prisons". Even in the field of treatment of criminals, I am one of those who think with NACRO, Justice, and the Howard League, and so on, that we had much better spend it on alternatives to imprisonment. But of course I understand that there is a nightmare for every Home Secretary, who fears that with 41,000 people in prison, with a far higher proportion of our population in prison than in any other EEC country bar one, with 15,000 sleeping and living two or three in cells made for one, he faces the situation that some day a judge will send somebody to prison and he will be sent back to the court because there is nowhere in prison to put him. I think that this can be exaggerated, but I understand the fear. I wish I could feel, when one knows the sort of resources involved, that at some time within the next five or 10 years a Government will spend sufficient resources on really making the increase in the police in some way comparable to the increase in crime.
497 May I close on one slightly more hopeful note on this point. On the last page of their book the authors say a word of hope:Yet if the massive growth in crime of all kinds is allowed to continue, where will it end? Perhaps it is possible to offer a little historical reassurance. In Germany, after the second world war, everything seemed to be breaking down. In Berlin there were 12 times as many complaints of theft as there had been before the war, seven times as many burglaries and robberies. And that at a time when many people felt it useless to go to the police at all. In the dire shortage of necessities, money had lost its value and respect for property was shattered. Trains and lorries were cleared of their loads as they travelled, farmhouses, fields and barns raided by looting parties. Food, building materials, electrical equipment, disappeared wholesale. It was estimated that in 1946 crime had swollen to five times its normal scale. Yet in 1947, as the value of money began to be restored, as social and commercial normality returned, crime was already beginning to shrink. It was the bankruptcy of the state, the falling apart of society that had released the flood of crime, not the flood of crime that destroyed the value of money or the authority of the state. Criminals do not determine what becomes of society: they merely show an extraordinary power to adapt to the social climate, whatever it may be. What is remarkable is that most people, most of the time, even in periods of violent upheaval, go about their legitimate business in legitimate ways.".The second point on which I wish to touch is the question of the decline in respect for authority. I agree with much that has been said, but would like to stress that you cannot make A respect B: this depends almost entirely on B, and very little on A. I fear that since the war all Governments—and I do not think, again, that this Government are any worse than any other—have not done as much as they might to increase respect among those they govern. This applies all round.
We all know teachers who can maintain complete order in a class without raising their voice. Those who have been in the Services know that officers can be, and are, trained to gain and hold the respect of the men they command, and that that depends almost entirely on the officers. Every time a policeman is caught out "putting in the verbals", he lowers respect for the police as authorities both among the general public and among the criminal classes. If I say that Governments themselves sometimes treat their subjects with contempt, I am only echoing paragraph 17 of the recent special report of the Joint Committee on Statutory 498 Instruments in the lack of care of the Government in making subordinate legislation without any regard to whether it is possible for citizens to find out at all that a law has been made, when it comes into force before they have any such opportunity.
In this field, I recently asked a Question in respect of Acts which had been passed in the last two years and as to which of those Acts or sections of Acts were not yet in force. The Answer I was given was that no central record was kept and that the information could be compiled only at disproportionate cost. It is no answer for a citizen to say he does not know what the law is, but here are the Government themselves saying that they do not know and do not propose to find out which Acts or sections of Acts are in force and which are not. Therefore, as a whole, I would suggest that this really depends in the main on the proper behaviour of authority. I appreciate that it must be very annoying when those in authority feel they are not being treated with proper respect, but this, I suggest, depends very much more on the actions and attitudes of those in authority than on those in the Government.
Thirdly, the question of the rule of law is of course of paramount importance. I have devoted a great deal of time throughout my life, both here, through Justice, and as a member of the Executive Committee of the International Commission of Jurists, to upholding the rule of law. It is a very wide subject. The only point I want to make is that I do not think it helps the rule of law simply to abuse lawyers. I am not at all impartial about this because I am a lawyer, but never in my life have I been through a period when there has been so much criticism of judges and lawyers, and I do not really know what they have done to deserve it.
As a profession, I do not think they have been good at legal education or training and I think they have paid far too little attention to social security law, but they are men of integrity whom I know well. They are hard working and I know none who live lives of luxury or leave any real money. I believe that, as a group, they probably work longer hours than almost any other group in the community, and I believe I am right in saying that, as a 499 group, their divorce record is extraordinarily low—possibly because they work too hard to get into trouble—and they seem to make good husbands and good fathers. At the moment, however, it seems to be the popular sport to abuse lawyers.
I have always said that, in a democracy, the administration of justice must be open to public criticism and I stand by that, but lawyers today are absolutely overwhelmed and of this I can speak with some knowledge. I am authorised by the Chairman of the Royal Commission on Legal Services to say that the Commission has received 600 memoranda, many of them very long indeed, and 3,000 letters. It is quite impossible for the Bar Council or the Law Society, and absolutely hopeless for a body like Justice, to think that they can answer all those papers that are sent in. And just as they are completely run into the ground by it all, they are now receiving letters from the Royal Commission on Prosecution Process expecting them to do exactly the same thing.
Let me give one example of the sort of thing that is going on. I always had a high regard for the late Lord Feather and I have, too, for his successor and for the Trade Union Congress, to whose courage we owe the present success of our economic measures. They have just put in a 51-page single-space, typed report in which they make a complaint against the Judiciary.
They say:over 80 per cent. of the Judiciary of High Court status and above … had attended a public school".That, if I may say so, is a very old Labour Party myth. There has never been anything in it and I got it when I was Lord Chancellor, when I naturally went into the facts. I found that the higher Judiciary numbered 78—that is, Lords of Appeal in Ordinary, Lords Justices, and High Court judges—and that their average age was 61, which meant that they finished their primary education in the course of the First World War; I was a little older because I finished mine in 1913.
The picture one sees drawn is that of the man who recognises at once that his 10-year-old son is going to be a High Court judge and who says to himself, "Whatever I do I must not send him to a 500 public school". I am not speaking as a particular friend of the public schools because I think that we are still the most class-ridden country in Europe and that probably a large part of the trouble is the whole public school system, but that is beside the point. What school should he have sent the boy to? There were only the independent fee-paying private schools, in which of course I include the public schools, and the grammar schools and a very few county secondary schools. I have had some trouble finding this out and the noble Lord, Lord Robbins, has ascertained for me what a minute proportion of places there were in these few secondary county schools in comparison with the numbers of all those finishing their primary education.
The other night I was reading an autobiography of Storm Jameson; she was just about this age. Her parents were far too poor to give her a secondary education and she thought she was very lucky when, on merit, she won a place at the nearby county secondary school. It was one hour and ten minutes distant in the train and then of course she had to get to the station and get to school at the other end, and the same coming home. She was not complaining about that; her point was simply that the fact that she had obtained a secondary education had changed her entire life. But of course if the man who believes his son is going to be a High Court judge and who says "I must not send him to a public school", then urges him to get a place at the local secondary school, that will simply deprive people like Storm Jameson of any opportunity of getting a secondary education, so I should not have thought that was something a Socialist would want.
This has never been made public before, but I do not see why it should not, and it might cheer the proceedings up; I will tell noble Lords what schools they all went to. There were 51 different schools. The father and mother of the noble and learned Lord, Lord Denning, kept a small draper's shop in what was then a village in Hampshire, and he won a place to Andover Grammar School and then got a scholarship to Oxford, where he got a double First. It may be that the higher Judiciary should attain a certain intellectual level, although I see that some of the memoranda sent in to the Royal 501 Commission say it should not be necessary for a lawyer to pass any examinations at all.
To give the list of schools: Andover Grammar School, Battersea Grammar School, Beaumont, Bellahouston Academy, Bede School Sunderland, Birkenhead School, Blundells, Caterham School, Charterhouse, City of London School, Clifton, Clongewis Wood College, Douai, Downside, Dulwich, Eton, Fettes, Glasgow Academy, Gresham's School Holt, Haileybury, Harrow, Highgate School, Hymers College Hull, King's College School, Lancaster Grammar School, Lancing, Leys School, Malvern, Manchester Grammar School, Mill Hill, Mountain Ash Grammar School, Norwich Grammar School, Oundle, Queen's College Taunton, Radley, Royal Academical Institute Belfast, Rugby, St. Andrew's School Grahamstown, St. Marylebone Grammar School, St. Paul's, Sedbergh School, Shrewsbury, Silcoates School, Southgate School, Sutton County Grammar School, Trinity College Glenalmond, Uppingham, Westminster, Whitgift School and Winchester. I remember that the father and mother, of the noble and learned Lord, Lord Diplock, lived in Croydon and he went to the Whitgift School, which is a day school in Croydon, from which he got a scholarship to Oxford. The other complaint is that too many of them went to Oxford or Cambridge, and this of course was at a time before the large majority of red brick universities were founded in the 1960s. What nonsense it all is! But this is the sort of stuff which the Commission are getting. So all I have respectfully to suggest is that I do not think we shall improve the rule of law simply by abusing lawyers.
On the second point, I think that respect for authority depends more on the authority than on the subject. Also, I am as convinced as I was all those years ago that the real remedy for the crime rate is to increase the police force to match the increase in crime, because this is the most effective deterrent, and the only way to empty our prisons is by reducing the number of crimes that are committed. I am sorry to have been so long. This is a subject which has always interested me, and I am quite sure we are going to have a very interesting discussion.
§ 4.11 p.m.
My Lords, during the last war the people of this country, and particularly the younger ones who were in the Armed Services, whether as Regulars, territorials or conscripts, very soon learned, if they did not know it already, a profound respect for authority, and recognised the meaning and value of discipline and that it was to their disadvantage to step out of line. There were many others who served their country in other capacities, such as the firemen, the air-raid wardens and the nurses, who also learned this lesson. In serving their country in those various ways they all accepted that it was necessary for them to submit to a discipline imposed by higher authority. After the war, National Service perpetuated this respect, greatly to the advantage of the country and the individuals concerned. But, alas! since the end of National Service there has been a marked and growing decline in such respect.
I remember well, shortly after the war, when there was industrial trouble in the country, asking a distinguished general, who had recently retired from the Army, who had been made managing director and who was later chairman of a large industrial concern in England, how it was that the same men whom we had led during the war and who had done all that had been asked of them, sometimes under trying circumstances, whether or not in action and at all hours of the day and night, were now, in civil life, apparently rebelling against the disciplines they had learned in war. His reply was that in the Army there was a subaltern officer with the power of leadership who was the link between the soldier and higher authority, whereas in industry—in those days, at least—there was no exact equivalent. I wish that we could find that hardworking subaltern to bridge the gap in industry.
To arrive at some plausible reason for this change in attitude towards higher authority, it is interesting to make a comparison between the life of the young and the disciplines to which the young were subject in the years immediately preceding the last war, and indeed earlier than that, and those applicable at the present time. In the earlier years parental 503 authority and that of the schoolteacher were respected, and discipline was maintained. At home the successful parent had worked hard, perhaps for very little reward, and had achieved self-respect and self-discipline, which was an example to his children at home; and, in school, the teacher was given this same respect, and so maintained his authority.
Outside school, the local policeman, a respected friend of the locality, whether in the town or the country, had great influence with the young because he knew that he would be supported by the parents, or, rather, most of them. In the event of a minor misdemeanour, such as the stealing of apples, the policeman had only to give a gentle cuff on the side of the head with his glove and warn the culprit that if the misdemeanour was repeated the boy would be reported to his father. The boy knew, and the policeman knew, that the father would administer suitable and perhaps painful punishment, and in this simple manner a repetition of the minor offence was avoided without recourse to the courts and with satisfaction to all concerned. But if a policeman should do such a thing now, he might very well find himself arraigned before an inquiry, at the instance of the parent, for assaulting a child. Fortunately, this is only an occasional happening, but it is illustrative of the change in the attitude towards the police, who do their best to enforce the law.
Similarly, in my young days the cane in boarding schools and the tawse in Scottish day schools were excellent deterrents to bad behaviour and an encouragement to good manners and respect for the teacher. The result was more time devoted to teaching, and the encouragement of self-discipline in school. But, alas!, in these modern days the authority of the teacher in a great number of schools has been seriously eroded. Many reasons for this erosion are put forward by the educationists, such as the limited resources available for schools, too many children in the class and lack of motivation among the children. These may be valid reasons to some, but in my humble opinion the reason is that too many parents give priority to their own pleasures and take too little personal interest in the wellbeing of their children. We must be thankful that there are very many parents who 504 regard the wellbeing of their children as of paramount importance to themselves and the community.
This lack of respect for authority is unfortunately perpetuated in much of industry and commerce, where, very generally speaking, employees of all grades seem to have less respect for the authority of the employer and his managers. I do not enlarge upon this aspect because other Members of our Lordships' House, more knowledgeable about it than I am, will no doubt do so; and, in any event, I must avoid being contentious.
Turning now to the second part of the Motion moved by the noble Lord, Lord O'Hagan—that there is a need to reassert the primacy of the law—I should perhaps declare my interest in that I have practised as a solicitor in Scotland for 46 years (and I might say to the noble and learned Lord, Lord Gardiner, that I did pass some exams), I am a member of the Law Society of Scotland and of the Society of Writers to Her Majesty's Signet, and, as such, I am a member of the College of Justice in Scotland: a humble member, indeed, of the legal profession by comparison with the two previous speakers, the noble Lord, Lord Wigoder, and the noble and learned Lord, Lord Gardiner.
I wish to interpret the expression "the primacy of the law" as meaning the primacy of the Judiciary, because, after all, it is the Judiciary which is pre-eminent in the law. I believe that in Scotland, at least—I cannot speak for England, but would be surprised if the situation is any different there—there is no need to reassert the primacy of the law in the way in which I have interpreted that expression. The Judiciary in Scotland is paramount, whether it be the High Court, the Court of Session, the sheriff court or the district court. Their duty in civil matters is to interpret the law, not to make it. This in itself is difficult enough because of the complex nature of modern legislation, much of which in recent years, I regret to say, has been ill-considered and, therefore, inevitably incomprehensible. It is not surprising, therefore, that from time to time the public and Press criticise the judges for delivering what seem to them to be strange decisions, whereas the real fault usually lies with Parliament, which makes the law.
505 So far as criminal law is concerned, the courts in Scotland administer the common law and interpret the statute law, which again derives from Parliament. It sometimes happens that Parliament lays down maximum penalties which are inadequate to act as deterrents to a repetition of the offence, and the judges are criticised for not imposing longer sentences. Furthermore, the Legislature provides for parole boards, which in themselves have the effect of reducing the length of sentences, sometimes for serious crimes. In recent years the Crown has been enjoined by the Executive not to prosecute for certain offences which, by statute, are against the law; whereas the real remedy is for Parliament to change the law.
There is no middle course, no government by edict or by any means not subject to Parliament. The distressing part of public complaint about judges is that because of their position the judges cannot reply. We can, however, be thankful that such complaints by a vociferous minority are rare. To sum up, my Lords, I agree that in Scotland, at least, there has been a decline in respect for authority; but I disagree that there is any need to reassert the primacy of the law as represented by the Judiciary.
§ 4.20 p.m.
My Lords, it is always a singular privilege in your Lordships' House to be in a position to congratulate a speaker on his maiden speech. I do not personally know the noble Lord, Lord Kinross, but it is quite obvious that he has engaged the interest of the House in what he has had to say. I think that I would congratulate him on choosing to make his speech on a subject which is almost inevitably a controversial one and so skilfully as to have touched lightly on the most controversial matters. He actually succeeded in mentioning the cane without raising a whisper or a note of dissent from the thinly-attended Benches on my left. He struck a chord of sympathy with me on the subject of his military background and I cannot help thinking that we are all looking forward to hearing him again even though, as I suspect, at his next appearance he may remove his restraints on being controversial.
506 It is a singular privilege to introduce a new speaker but it is a double privilege, on one and the same day, to have introduced a new Member to your Lordships' House and to have been able to congratulate a speaker on his maiden speech. The height of my ambition, notwithstanding any other heights, will be if by any coincidence I am in a position to congratulate the noble Lord, Lord McGregor, having introduced him to your Lordships' House, on his maiden speech in his turn.
I have two brief apologies to make before inflicting my own speech on your Lordships. First, owing to an engagement in the North of England later tonight, I may not be able to stay throughout the debate and, secondly, an apology to the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor on coming to your Lordships' House improperly dressed, having the pleasure to declare myself an honorary and locally adopted Welshman—and offer this apology to all good Welshman in this House.
I am glad that the noble Lord—I should like to call him "my noble friend" for he used to sit here and was and still is a good friend—put down this Motion today. It is a measure of the growing concern about the whole subject which he has raised with us that we have, in fact, touched on it on a number of occasions, as your Lordships know, in the last few years in one or other of its aspects. We have talked about—and it has receded I am glad to say—the student challenge to authority in our higher places of education; we have talked about violence in its various forms, including violence of a racial character; we have discussed riots against our staffs in our prisons; and we have discussed pitched battles against the police on our football grounds and in our streets. We have debated quite a number of measures to strengthen the law and how to raise the morale of the police and of our prison officers. We have discussed how to enable the Probation Service to play a fuller part in treating offenders in the community and, in a different context, we have looked at the problems facing teachers in the classrooms—a matter which has been referred to this afternoon—and not least the authority, or lack of it, in the social services.
I have noted very carefully as others have noted—and the noble Lord, Lord Kinross, did the same—the terms in which the 507 noble Lord, Lord O'Hagan has phrased his Motion. They go beyond those related subjects of law and order because not all authority can be imposed or sustained by legislation. Authority—and here I am speaking, I know, with the agreement of everybody, or of nearly everybody, in this House on a note of consensus—is being exploited. It is being exploited, whether to uphold it or to undermine it, from two opposite directions. We all know that it is being exploited by the Socialist Workers' Party for their objective of creating anarchy and replacing that condition with a dictatorship of the Left; and it is being exploited by the National Front—and I am surprised that so far this organisation has not come to significant mention this afternoon—which, posing as the loyal and disciplined citizens who stand for law and order and waving the national flag to good emotional effect, win support on that account alone, quite aside from their racial policies. Their purpose is also clear. It is to pre-empt a state of chaos by proceeding directly to a dictatorship of the Right.
Some of the sources or contributing causes of lawlessness and the weakening of authority in our society, as we know, in whole or in part are external to this country. Some of them, indeed, are global—and the noble Lord, Lord Wigoder, touched on this—but, as I understand it, the noble Lord, Lord O'Hagan, this afternoon has made it clear that his Motion is intended to deal only with those aspects which are or should be within our capability to deal with and to control.
In the minds of many people—and I do not want to exaggerate: I say "many people"—authority is an outdated and irrelevant word. In some situations, like the word "establishment" which lays claim to authority, it is a dirty word; it is something to be thrown out of the window wherever it exists. It is not only on the football terraces and in the streets that opposition to authority is given expression. In many a home, attempts to assert authority are quite counterproductive. How many noble Lords know this from their own experience as fathers, mothers, grandparents! In some classrooms authority is discernible by its absence. In industry and within the 508 trade union movement, authority is often questioned and ignored. Here we are in Parliament. The authority of Parliament, if it is not directly challenged, is held in a good deal less respect than it should be; and I think the noble Lord, Lord Wigoder mentioned this, too. It certainly is held in less respect than is healthy in a Parliamentary democracy. Within the political Parties—my Lords, I shall not proceed for I should be treading on such delicate ground that I will not dare to trespass in this direction.
There are two aspects of the matter of authority raised by the mover of this Motion. First, there is the self-evident, immediate, urgent and continuing necessity to uphold the law, if necessary by sterner measures than are available or are employed at present. I find nothing objectionable—as the Labour Party seems to find—in having resort to short, sharp—and I pause at this point to take note of what my noble friend Lady Wootton has said—prison sentences of strictly disciplinary treatment, carefully controlled and monitored to observe humanitarian considerations. We already have detention centres; the noble Lord, Lord Harris, referred to them, as did the noble Lord, Lord Wigoder. They are, in my view, the appropriate establishments for this kind of treatment, the establishments in which it used to be applied. When I was last in a detention centre as a visitor, that was what I saw going on. It would apply and might be effective and could be just for some hooligans and young thugs. Despite the low success rate, the figures of which have been mentioned, for some success it is, in my view, justified.
I am all for increasing the strength and enhancing the morale of our police forces in any way that we can. I would make a strong plea that this increase should include the special constabulary. There is an immense amount of goodwill towards the police and a readiness to defend society against lawlessness among ordinary, decent citizens. We should use this goodwill and widespread willingness to serve the law. It is far better to have that willingness within the police force than in some private army or other.
Having said that, I make a most urgent plea that fears and anger about the growing disregard for authority and its expression in lawlessness should not prompt us to 509 overreact. I was thankful to hear the Home Secretary say the other night that he is satisfied that he has enough powers at present. I am deeply sceptical from my own experience about the effectiveness of imprisonment, at a cost of nearly £80 a week per inmate, £4,000 a year—the cost of a good class hotel—let alone to reform offenders. I sincerely hope that there will not be a reaction from the Conservative Party and its supporters against parole, community service orders and other measures for treating offenders in the community.
I hope that there will not be a change in the present policy of this Government of shifting the emphasis fom prison towards community measures, on the basis of the total misconception that these are a product of softness, woolly-mindedness and muddle-headed attitudes towards crime. They are not. Community service orders—and we have their author and inspirer here today, the noble Baroness, Lady Wootton of Abinger—are the nearest approach we have yet to making the punishment fit the crime. This is surely a time for cool heads and strong nerves, a time to remember there are many bright aspects in our society which could, sometimes with advantage, be more highlighted than they are. Again, I take note that the noble Lord, Lord Wigoder, supports me in that view.
I should like now to turn to the other side of the matter. Law enforcement and punishment alone may control the symptoms of the underlying troubles which beset us; they are quite unlikely to strike at the malaise itself. It will not help parental authority, nor will it do anything to create an orderly classroom; nor will it do anything to reduce truancy from schools; nor will it help the inclination of workers to challenge the authority of managements; nor of shop stewards to ignore union instructions.
To turn the tide of disrepect, as distinct from enforcing mere obedience to the arm of the law, in these and other areas of society calls for something much more fundamental and long-term: no less than generating a more universal sense and acceptance of responsibility to match the insistence on rights and on the freedoms which are taken for granted and sometimes abused. It might be thought a politically-unacceptable proposition to prolong the 510 obligation on young people beyond the present statutory age of school-leaving. But, in my view, a practical course in citizenship is at least as important as the minimal academic knowledge which most schools impart to most pupils; most of this other kind of education can take place only in the neighbourhood and in the community.
Mr. Peter Shore—and your Lordships will have read what he is reported to have said—was speaking recently about "the steady loss of social cohesion and national purpose", of "the need to evolve a new work ethic"; about the need "to restore individual responsibility". He also said that "the new society requires values of a different kind". He was talking about materialistic values. Of course he was right. But the question is: how else does Mr. Shore see this quiet revolution taking place?
I criticise our schools for sending out far too many young people, only two years before they will have the right to exercise their votes, inadequately literate or numerate, insufficiently informed or interested in the community in which they will live and work, ignorant of the institutions and affairs of their country and its leaders, and, in alarming numbers, without even the desire, aside from the capability, to read. How many junior citizens could define democracy and freedom in terms which would make for any confidence that democracy in Britain is a living and powerful force? For democracy to survive, especially at a time when it is under attack by its enemies, our young citizens need to understand what it means and how its loss would affect their lives. They need to acquire the will to resist the siren voices of Marxism and National Socialism.
We may not like it, but it is urgently necessary to cultivate this element of responsibility in all our secondary schools. There is only one effective way of doing that; that is, to involve the young in some responsibility themselves. The last year in all schools should have citizenship as its central theme with some practical involvement of all pupils in their neighbourhood needs. Of course a good deal of this is going on already in a number of schools. But the jealously guarded and hallowed powers of local authorities and the independence of school heads makes a 511 patchy picture of progress towards the realisation of a universal principle that education is the lifeblood of a whole nation and of a whole people; it is not for the exclusive benefit of its individual members.
I should like to see that principle extended beyond school, leading into a further commitment to day release from jobs for everyone up to the age of 18, up to the age of full civic responsibility, in which some involvement with community work would be included. Universal further education is one of those ideas which has been advocated by distinguished educationalists a number of times in the past. But their reports have been pigeon-holed because the cost has been deemed too great. Of course there is a big financial cost and there is also a price to be paid in individual freedom. But it is a price which will purchase the priceless asset of individual responsibility, a recognition of the need for authority and a willingness to respect it as a basic condition of continuing democracy.
§ 4.38 p.m.
The Marquess of TWEEDDALE
My Lords, first of all I should like to ask where the noble Lord, Lord Wigoder, presides, as he successfully "poached" half my speech and delivered it considerably better than I should have done. During the course of his speech, I felt that a certain note of anxiety crept into his remarks when he was talking about old-fashioned punishments. I should like to tell the noble Lord that, so far as this House is concerned, I think that I must hold the track record: I was beaten 27 times and birched twice at school and I still feel remarkably fit.
I shall try to deal with juvenile delinquency rather than with the subject in general. I start with mugging. This crime is growing nearly every day and it is a repulsive form of behaviour. I would rather not discuss it too deeply because, as one has seen in the Press, it is inclined—rightly or wrongly—to be put down to certain ethnic groups. It is better left out of this debate at the present moment. Then we continue to read about damage to railway property carried out by youths. Trains have had bricks thrown at them as they have passed under bridges. Bricks 512 have gone through engine windows, and the other day a guard was blinded in Scotland. Shoplifting and theft are for ever on the increase. One reads of children, even down to the age of about nine, getting into major sized vehicles and driving them away. There is football hooliganism; and no one can forget that photograph in the Press a day or two ago of the dart sticking into the person's nose—if that dart had been a fraction higher he would have been blinded. There is truancy from school and pre legal-age sex.
What is the cause of all this? I think one way of identifying the cause is to revert to Northern Ireland. In Northern Ireland, a considerable amount of the trouble now appears to come from juveniles. Without any doubt there is a hard core of older people, but most of the trouble-makers appear to be youths from 12 to 16. I believe that in Northern Ireland we have a force which, by its behaviour and conduct, has done what no other force in the world could accomplish. They are working under the gravest difficulties and when they are not working they suffer the greatest boredom. On the whole, I am sure that we are extremely proud of those troops.
Where we have gone completely wrong is that, at home, we have now lost pride in ourselves, and that is where delinquency and the breakdown of law comes in. The police force is badly undermanned and underpaid; parents frequently cannot be bothered to control their children and they are prepared to give them money to get them out of the house. Then the children go on to the streets and get into trouble. I also think that there is far too great a dependence on the Welfare State. That goes back to the parents again, because they are very often inclined to expect the State to do everything for them. Some of the products of the teacher training colleges are not perhaps as good as they might be. On the other hand, I think that they have a difficult task because they are not always backed up as well as they should be. I cannot believe that these comprehensive schools, which are vast and ever-increasing in size, help education at all. They contain enormous classrooms, and that cannot be right. You get children who are bored and then they start breaking the law.
513 There is a great lack of leisure facilities for children in certain places. I know full well that such facilities cost money but I think that that ought to be made a fairly high priority so as to keep children off the streets. Again, parents, whenever their children become a slight nuisance are inclined to push them in front of the television set. I do not know how bad television is for children because I do not watch it very much—as far as I can see, in this House it always seems to be on the same channel—but obviously there are good and bad programmes. One gathers from the Press that children are very much influenced by programmes containing violence. In addition, there is unemployment among children between, say, 16 and 18. That can do nothing but lead to utter boredom and then they tend to drift into crime. That is what appears to be happening. If I may, I should like to ask the Minister who is to reply to this debate whether there will in future be any further backing for teachers to enforce discipline in schools where the cane or the strap is still used, and whether those things are likely to be brought back into schools where they have been abolished.
§ 4.44 p.m.
§ The Earl of LONGFORD
My Lords, it is my pleasant duty to congratulate the noble Marquess on his maiden speech. I looked up his entry into Who's Who and I saw that among his recreations is listedstriving to exist after dynamic Socialism".I do not know whether he will count the Socialist speakers this afternoon as sufficiently dynamic for his purpose, beginning with the noble and learned Lord, Lord Gardiner, but I can assure the noble Marquess he need have no fears: a man who survived 27 beatings at Eton is not going to be abolished by the noble and learned Lord, Lord Gardiner, myself, the noble Baroness, Lady Gaitskell, and others. I am sure we shall all look forward to hearing the noble Marquess again in this House in the future.
We are grateful to the noble Lord, Lord O'Hagan, for introducing this debate. He started off with some very waspish Party remarks, but I think they will be dealt with firmly by the Minister when he 514 comes to reply. It is not for me to continue the debate on that level and, if I may, I will follow the general tone that the noble Lord adopted during the latter part of his remarks.
The Motion before us seems to assume two major facts—two far-reaching tendencies which are not unnaturally linked. The first is a decline in respect for the law, demonstrated by the continuous increase in crime, and the second is a decline in respect for authority in general, whether at home, in school, at work or anywhere else. Those are the assumptions made, not unreasonably, by the noble Lord, Lord O'Hagan. I myself accept beyond dispute, though criminologists both amateur and professional argue about this, that in recent years there has been a great increase in crime. I think the figures given by the noble and learned Lord, Lord Gardiner, in that very telling part of his speech are irresistible. In theory, of course, that could simply refer to what might be called the criminal or near-criminal world, but for the purposes of this discussion I must accept that there has been a considerable decline in respect for the law in our population as a whole. I personally think that fact cannot be resisted.
The question as to whether there has been a general decline in respect of authority is more complex. Certainly there is less automatic respect for authority nowadays, less readiness to govern our lives by rules laid down from outside and less fear of the consequences of breaking those rules. That is a tendency which has been going on steadily over the last half-century and whether it should be described as a decline in respect for authority in general is a semantic question, but the question as to whether it is a good thing or a bad thing is much more interesting. I would certainly not call it either bad or good, without qualification.
In my Roman Catholic Communion, if I may take an example, undoubtedly since Vatican II there has been what many extreme traditionalists would call a decline in respect for authority. Much more stress has been laid throughout the Roman Catholic world on the ultimate supremacy of conscience. There has been an enthusiastic, though sometimes acrimonious, discussion of every possible issue, some of 515 which were previously regarded as sacred and untouchable. In this, the Roman Catholic Church has reflected the spirit of the age and has also contributed significantly to that spirit. Yet I am sure there has never been a time in this country when there was more respect for the authority of a Cardinal than exists at the present time in respect of Cardinal Hume. In other words, there has been a decline in respect for automatic authority but not in any way a decline in the best kind of respect for the leaders of the Church.
Speaking generally, I would regard the freedom of discussion of every possible question under the sun as a genuine step forward in the history of civilisation; but it brings its own attendant perils. It goes hand in hand, in a democratic age, with an insistence on invididual rights—a point which was stressed by the noble Lord, Lord Hunt. Of course, I agree with him entirely that there has not been a corresponding recognition of duties. Individuals have not been slow to realise that these "rights" can best be achieved in collaboration—and it may be a militant collaboration—with those who share their interests. We have seen this factor operating, painfully on occasions, in the activities and pressures of trade unions and professional bodies; and businessmen have pursued their own interests just as remorselessly.
I shall not follow the noble Lord, Lord Wigoder, in discussing the sinister effects of racialism, where it has raised its head in this country. Some years ago a wealthy and well-known Peer, whom I shall call Lord Moneybags, though that does not happen to be his name, said to me—and I think it reflected his deepest feelings— "People say that Lord Moneybags can look after himself. Well, I can tell you, my dear chap, that Lord Moneybags damned well is looking after himself"; and that gave him great satisfaction. Millions of people today are, for the first time, under an impression which is false in the long run, but in the short run often correct. They are now in a position to follow the noble Lord's guidance.
Personally, I am sure that this insistence on rights has come to stay. Whatever I say about it, and whatever anybody here or in another place says about it, it has come to stay. There is no way of 516 putting the clock back, even if we wish to. The real question is how to take advantage of what is best in the modern spirit and counteract, so far as we can, the antisocial implications. Like everyone else, I am all for an effective law and order policy, and on that issue I would just say a kind of respectful ditto to the very strong argument put forward by my noble and learned friend Lord Gardiner. But an effective law and order policy, based on a much larger police force, is by no means the same thing as a tougher policy based on more severe penalties for offenders.
What we need are more constructive penalties, instead of the very negative ones—and here I agree with what I think is the implication of what the noble Lord, Lord Hunt, has said today and on other occasions—which form so large a part of our penal arrangements. However, the House will be glad to know that this is not the occasion for me to make yet another speech to your Lordships on penal reform. I make only this observation. If I take the adult criminals that I have personally known over many years, I cannot think of a single one who would have been less of a criminal if he had been punished more severely in youth. I can think of very many who would have been rescued from a criminal career if they had been cared for earlier and treated as human beings. Of course, in that way a great detriment could have been avoided, not only to themselves but to society, which means the rest of us.
What does a tough policy mean in practice? I understand that Mr. Whitelaw advocated something along those lines the other day. But I also understand, simply from what I read in the newspapers, that he now regrets having been persuaded to make that speech. Perhaps we can be given more information. But we are told that Mr. Whitelaw is now sitting on the stool of penitence about his speech. If I am mistaken in saying that, then I apologise. But I am trying to give him credit for redemption. However, what does a tough policy mean in practice? I have time for only one illustration, and I am wrapping up this one for a reason that may occur to noble Lords.
Some years ago, a father known to me discovered that his son, aged 15, was associating with dangerous criminals. 517 This father loved his son and was determined to save him from contamination, so he said, "No member of my family is going to associate with criminals", and he tried to save his son from a criminal life. His method of doing so was to give his son a thorough beating. Within the hour, the son had left home and after two or three years was doing terrible damage to the community. Since then, this boy, who is now a young man, has received much kindness in prison and persistent loyalty from his family, and is undergoing an impressive moral reformation. That shows your Lordships what can happen. An illustration can never prove anything; it can only indicate a strong possibility.
What does a caring policy amount to? A friend of mine, in late middle age and in no way a wealthy person, but a strong evangelical Christian, took into his home a young man convicted of brutal offences, which was a very dangerous thing to do. My friend and his family were ready to run the risks involved, so he took prudent precautions as best he could. A great change occurred within a year, and today that young man is holding down an excellent job and has undergone a complete transformation. In one case, beating leads to grave crimes, and, in the other, there is the Christian attitude which I have just mentioned.
What of the future? As I say, it is no good trying to bring back a society based on fear, which is not to say that fear of the consequences of breaking the law can ever be altogether excluded from human society. My illuminating friend, Malcolm Muggeridge, as noble Lords may have seen, was recently distinguishing in America between the servitude of Soviet Russia, servitude towards the State, and the servitude of America—a servitude which he was bold enough to describe as servitude towards the selfish ego. He was delivering a religious message at a religious gathering. I entirely agree with what he said on that occasion, that, ideally, we must not worship the State, we must not worship ourselves—we must worship God. But today I am talking in secular terms.
Quite a number of us have studied—some of us have studied together—or even taught political philosophy. The noble Lord, Lord Fulton, will know well what I am talking about—he happens to be the 518 first noble Lord who catches my eye. The key question there, it will be recalled, is that of political obligation: Why do I feel that I ought to obey the law, even when I do not agree with it; even when it does not suit me? Many different answers have been given to this question down the ages, but, unless there is a strong sense of political obligation, there can be no cohesion in the State, which is only another way of saying—to go back to the point made so well by the noble Lord, Lord Hunt—that no State can prosper if insistence on rights is not balanced by a recognition of duties.
I had this in mind yesterday in the New Horizon Youth Centre where, for some years, some of us have been helping large numbers of perplexed and disorientated young people. I was talking to a fine-looking young man who had been incarcerated twice, though he is only 21, once in a detention centre—and detention centres have come under discussion today—and once in prison; once for stealing two cars and once for possessing an offensive weapon. I found myself asking him, perhaps a little pedantically, about his respect for authority. I recalled, as I did so, a story that may be remembered by a few people who were at the same school as I was, though well before the time of the noble Marquess, about one of our schoolmasters who was called Broadbent. He had an irresistible penchant for talking Latin to all and sundry. Seeing a small boy fishing by the river he addressed him, "Ave Piscator", to which the little chap replied, "Hello, old fishface".
The young man looked at me rather as the little boy looked at Broadbent, but he gave me an answer which typifies the attitude of vast numbers of present-day adolescents. I shall not attempt to imitate the voice in which he said it, but he replied "I will play straight with the law, if the law will play straight with me". That is a very typical attitude among the adolescents of today. Stated like that, the point of view would be discouraging. But that young man went on to tell me yesterday that, though he came out of the detention centre and prison full of resentment, he had encountered real friendship in this centre—and, of course, there are many others like it—and he had formed a new kind of attitude to life. Of course, that is not the whole story.
519 What does authority stand for in the eyes of young people who have no special expectations of success and no initial advantages? There is so much in authority which they see, not altogether unreasonably, as unacceptable—the remoteness; the unaccountability of those who rule them; the corruption, no doubt exaggerated by the media, but more widespread, in fact, than it should be. Nevertheless, at the most fundamental level it comes back to this. Whether we be important in the State, or little people, we cannot determine the future of other human beings, but we can make all the difference to their prospects. Despite the noble efforts of countless individuals, we are still a society which scandalously neglects the needs of those, most of all the young, who most require our help. There is no reason why we should go on doing so for ever.
§ 5 p.m.
§ Baroness MACLEOD of BORVE
My Lords, I should also like to congratulate the two maiden speakers to whom we have had the privilege of listening this afternoon. The standard of all speeches so far has been remarkably high—well up to the standard of debate in this House—and the two maiden speeches have come well up to that standard. May I also thank the noble Lord, Lord O'Hagan, for bringing this subject to our attention this afternoon.
Noble Lords may be surprised to know that in a local survey undertaken for the pending by-election by the Party of which I have the honour to be a member, the first two worries of the electorate were prices and law and order; immigration was a long way down the list. I believe that it will be no surprise to your Lordships to realise that the country is indeed desperately worried at this time about the flouting of law and order.
When I was trying to think of something to say this afternoon which might possibly be original, I asked myself where we all went wrong. Surely it was we who went wrong. It seems to me that we left the straight and narrow immediately after the last war. Having been widowed once, I married again and was the mother then of two small children. I was amazed, thankful and could not quite take it in 520 that at the end of the war I had not only my husband but two small children. We were still a family. My instant reaction was to spoil that family, and I did so quite hopelessly; I was so grateful that I had got them.
I believe that we allowed our families, the present young people, to flout our laws and our authority at any time that they chose without bringing them up short, as our parents would have done. Following that period, which lasted for about five years, there was a fashion for about 20 years of freedom of expression and freedom to do as one liked, with no discipline and no respect for law and order. In the fullness of time, that has brought about what was to be expected: that the young people of today, brought up by one generation back, have no discipline. Indeed, this applied to some of their parents, too.
I do not intend to spend my time this afternoon looking back. Perhaps noble Lords will agree with me that when we were young our parents used to say, "Oh, wasn't it so much better before the war?" Each generation has said this, but we are moving forward, in which direction we do not know. Our values and standards are changing and we are part of that changing system. In my few remarks—few because time is getting on and there is a large number of speakers—I want to highlight young adolescents and their future. For 20 years we have adopted the kid glove approach to crime and punishment. Even today, some people believe that young people who take and drive away other people's cars are not committing a serious crime. I happen to think that it is. They also believe that smashing up other people's property is not very serious. In order to be able slightly to turn back the wheel we must adopt a more realistic and positive approach to young people; and by "young" I mean those between the ages of 16 and 21 or 22.
When I consider the reasons for the increase in crime to which other speakers have referred this afternoon, I also put boredom first. Boredom occurs because parents are not taking enough interest in bringing up their children and because nobody seems to have the right priorities regarding the provision of places which will prevent the onset of boredom in 521 young people. Local authorities spend vast sums of money upon new roads and new libraries. They also spend vast sums of money upon swimming pools which are, of course, of use to young people. However, except for the provision of a few skateboard parks by some local authorities, they do not provide sufficient places to which young people can go to be entertained.
The second reason for the increase in crime I put down to unemployment. I am not one of those who in this context put unemployment at the door of the Government. Indeed, in this very difficult situation I know that the Government are trying to persuade employers to take on young people and I understand that they are giving money to employers to do so. That is a help, but if you are a young person and you are bored and unemployed you turn to the easiest way to get money.
It is almost impossible to legislate for the lack of excitement and challenge in young people's lives today. One can try to adopt measures—something which the noble Lord, Lord Hunt, knows a great deal more about than I do—which will provide a challenge for young people. It is not necessary to provide such a challenge for all young people. I am fortunate enough to be dealing with a wonderful set of young people all over the country who, given the challenge of looking after geriatric or psychiatric patients or subnormal children, welcome that challenge and fulfil it to the utmost of their ability. These young people represent the cream of the future generation.
Another reason for the increase in crime is the realisation that crime can and does pay. Yet another reason is the lack of parental guidance. How often do we hear any parents say, "Don't do this; it will get you into trouble"? We hear it practically never. Young people are left to find out for themselves the trouble that they can get into. One noble Lord mentioned television. I am worried about television, not necessarily because of the programmes but principally because while the parents are watching television they allow their children to go out, either to play or to get into trouble.
How do we deter the future young criminal? As has been mentioned so very eloquently by those more able to 522 speak than I, the police must be the first consideration. The police force must know from us that we think that they are a highly dedicated force. We must give them our support. For both of those reasons they must receive more pay. I understand that their morale is low. Those police whom I deal with in my juvenile court are a marvellous band of men, and I hope that as a result of this debate today the police will realise that we do worry very sincerely that they are leaving the force in such numbers.
I turn to the question of the punishment fitting the crime. When an old lady is knocked down by three youths in the street in the evening, and the youths, having knocked her down, escape, what punishment can one give if those youths are caught? Very, very few are. I suggest that crimes of robbery with violence, of which mugging is one, should be dealt with much more severely than we are dealing with them now. That is why I support my right honourable friend Mr. Whitelaw when he suggests a far more severe sentence for a very short time—I would say 28 days, but perhaps two months would be more realistic—for those who commit crimes with violence, in that category only and in the 16 to 22 age group only.
The noble Lord, Lord Hunt, also suggested community service orders. These are working, but, unfortunately, as the noble Lord will know, no one under 17 is eligible for that particular form of help within the community. This type of order has only recently—two months ago—come to my petty sessional division, and we are beginning to use it. I hope it will have a good effect on the criminal people in our petty sessional division. To state my views, I would certainly be against the birch or the cane administered as a result of an appearance in court. However, I do not think, from all that I have heard in my long life, that a cuff round the ears or a good spank on the posterior ever did any child any harm at all if administered at once and on the spot by a parent, or, I would hope, by a teacher.
I shall not take up the time of your Lordships, but I should like to say one or two words about the future, because the future of these young people is vastly important. I am quite certain that the vast proportion of the adolescents in this 523 country today will make good citizens and, eventually, good parents. But I should also like to support the suggestion—I think it was made by the noble Lord, Lord Hunt—that the education in the last year at school should be almost primarily given over to teaching the children about citizenship and family life. One can do this, I suggest, by giving them broader horizons during this last year. I would like them to come to magistrates' courts, to be taken to High Courts, to go round hospitals and to see people worse off than themselves—the subnormals, the geriatrics, the psychiatrics—people who are not able to go out into society and run about as they are able to do. I would like them to attend council meetings and to be taken round picture galleries, and all sorts of things that in their lives they would probably not normally think of doing.
The responsibility for the past the present and the future is ours; that is, it is the responsibility of the parents, the legislators, the teachers and the Church leaders, to name just some. But we must get our priorities right and do far more to encourage the younger people of this country to lead happy, honest and industrious lives. At the same time, we must give them the responsibility for their own future as law abiding citizens.
§ 5.15 p.m.
§ Lord LLOYD of HAMPSTEAD
My Lords, I am sure we are all most grateful to the noble Lord, Lord O'Hagan, for giving us this opportunity to debate a very serious subject, though I confess I was a little saddened by his rather partisan approach, at any rate in the beginning of his speech, for surely this is not a Party political matter at all and should not be so treated. There are no easy solutions to the deep-laid problems to which reference has been made, and certainly not solutions on Party lines. If one considers, for example, the complexity of the relationship of the deterrents to crime by punishment, I cannot help but be reminded—if I may be permitted to quote a very telling illustration which I have heard my noble and learned friend Lord Gardiner give—that at a time when picking pockets was a capital offence and when executions were carried out in public, the art of the pickpocket never flourished more than at the actual time 524 when a public execution was taking place.
The whole question of respect for law is one which is crucial to the survival of our democratic society, and there has undoubtedly been a steep and historical decline during this century, and especially since the last war, of such respect. This is a universal matter in the Western world; it is not just a feature of any one country, and certainly not of our own. The matters upon which stress is rightly laid are no more than symptoms of very deep malaise in our society, whether we refer to the vast increase in crime, particularly violent crime, or the increase in vandalism, which is almost a new form of activity and one which in many instances appears to display a hatred of the whole social order. We have the rejection of the authority of any of the established organisations, whether it he police, universities, schools, the family and so on. And, of course, we have political demonstrations which appear to be aimed not at the pursuing of legitimate political objectives but simply concerned with fomenting subversion and disorder, and linked with this very often the deliberate stirring up of racial antagonisms. Last but not least in this sad catalogue is something which, curiously enough, has not been mentioned this afternoon, and that is the whole problem of terrorists and urban guerrillas, with which, alas! we are not unfamiliar in the United Kingdom, whether we speak of the IRA, or the Baader Meinhof gang, where we have groups of people who appear to want to substitute for law as we understand it the law of the gunman and the total rejection of the established order.
What lies behind this, I would venture to suggest, among other things, is a breakdown of the accepted values of our society; and one of the principal sufferers in this respect is the supreme value of upholding the law itself. We find at the present day groups and sections of people who reject any law which they regard as objectionable, and engage in deliberate campaigns of disobedience to the law and the defiance of its authority.
The rather melancholy case, as I confess I regard it, of the Clay Cross councillors is, let it be admitted, no more than an example. Your Lordships could consider, 525 for example, the activities of many very respectable middle-class people—if I may use that term—in our society at present who object possibly to some highway which is to be placed across part of the country, or some arrangement as regards road traffic in their particular district and who are prepared to come along when a lawful inquiry is held and engage in a deliberate process of disruption in order to prevent the legal process being maintained. There was an example reported, imagine correctly, not so long ago where even so eminently a respectable character as the headmaster of a very well known public school was apparently associated with a process of disruption of that kind. Therefore, the problem is quite widespread and cannot be said to be located in any one particular section of society.
I venture to suggest too, that Parliament itself has made a large contribution to this departure from respect for law, by reason of the endless stream of ill-conceived and unenforceable legislation—
§ Lord O'HAGAN
My Lords, the noble Lord, Lord Lloyd of Hampstead, reprimanded me at the beginning of his speech for what he considered to be my partisan comments. He is now repeating them for me one by one by criticising Clay Cross and saying that Parliament is processing too much undigested legislation. To which of my remaining remarks does he object? Will he let us know before he sits down?
§ Lord LLOYD of HAMPSTEAD
My Lords, I am bound to say that I am a little surprised by the intervention of the noble Lord, Lord O'Hagan, because I thought that the way in which I approached the matter of the Clay Cross councillors indicated the total absence of a partisan spirit. As regards the question of passing an endless stream of ill-conceived legislation, that was not, as I imagine your Lordships fully grasped from the manner in which I presented this point, intended to be an attack on any particular Government—this one or any other—but simply a characteristic of w hat has been happening since the war. Government after Government have passed vast quantities of ill-digested legislation which in many cases is unwanted by the public and certainly not understood by them. That occurs 526 in matters great and small. We have, for instance, such an example as the anti-litter legislation which was passed some years ago. I am not aware of any prosecutions having been brought, although there may possibly have been one or two.
Viscount COLVILLE of CULROSS
My Lords, I have actually been engaged in one at Exeter Quarter Sessions.
§ Lord LLOYD of HAMPSTEAD
My Lords, the noble Viscount has such a wide experience of every facet of litigation that it has evidently fallen to his lot to deal with one such matter. However, I think that even he would recognise that that is probably, if not a unique case, a very rare one. I was venturing to point out that we have only to look around our streets to find that the effect of that legislation is either non-existent or certainly minimal.
I hope that nobody will accuse me of being partisan, but as regards industrial relations it is my view—certainly not in a partisan sense—that the Industrial Relations Act 1971 was an extraordinarily unfortunate piece of legislation as regards the effect it had in diminishing respect for law. It was particularly harmful because it led to the disastrous misconception that law has no place whatsoever in resolving industrial disputes. It is my view, certainly based on the experience that can be derived from the practice in many other developed countries such as Australia, Sweden, and so on, that the law can play an absolutely fundamental part in producing good industrial relations. However, what one needs for that purpose is an appropriate framework of law and not a straitjacket. By introducing a piece of legislation which I think was totally misconceived, the strong tendency was encouraged—in many quarters in a most unfortunate way—that law was irrelevant to industrial disputes. By encouraging such a belief the whole task of the resolution of industrial disputes—a matter of immense importance in our society—has been made very much more difficult.
I should like to conclude my rather random remarks by making a few suggestions which might possibly serve to assist in creating a greater respect for law. First, all political Parties should combine to uphold public order. There should be a completely non-partisan approach on 527 this question. For instance, it is great nonsense, in my opinion, to put forward arguments that some fundamental freedom is being assailed when people are prevented from indulging in marches along the public highway in populated areas and shouting inflammatory, provocative, anti-racial slogans directed to sections of the populace who are known to live in large numbers in those areas.
There is really no sense in trying to make any kind of Party point that a Government which enforces the Public Order Act 1936 are in some way engaging in a fundamental encroachment on human liberty. I deplore the attempt of some of the media to run an attack along those lines. Those of us who are old enough—and I am sorry to say that I am—to remember very clearly the activities of Sir Oswald Mosley and his black-shirted fascists in the streets of London, especially in the East End, will have no difficulty whatever in accepting the philosophy of the Public Order Act.
Perhaps I may venture a point as regards the danger sometimes of having very broadly and vaguely expressed catalogues of so-called human rights embodied in Constitutions, because the control of activities of this sort may be rendered very difficult. For instance, in the United States it has quite recently been ruled by courts that neo-Nazis parading in the uniforms of SS troopers are fully entitled under the Constitution to march down the streets in areas heavily populated by Jewish residents, thereby indulging in what is highly provocative and inflammatory behaviour which, so far as I can see, is of no social benefit to any human being.
There is surely a duty on us all—Parliament, Government, the courts or the public—to do everything possible to uphold the rule of law. That means a number of things. First, Parliament should avoid conferring uncontrollable powers on the Executive. Give the Executive powers by all means, but do not give it powers which cannot be controlled. Here is where the courts have a considerable role to play. It has been left to the courts in this country to develop what we now call administrative law, and it is fair to say that until very recently they did not do it very well. However, in recent years they have adopted a more vigorous 528 approach and they are much to be applauded in this respect. But we need an administrative law similar to that which is carried out in many European countries at the present time—in France by the Conseil d'Etat—where there is power not merely to keep public authorities within their powers but also to prevent abuse of power. This is a perfectly normal thing for a judicial tribunal to do and I can see no reason why our courts should not carry out that function. Indeed, they are moving quite steadily in that direction.
This does not mean—and this is sometimes misunderstood—that the Government, the Executive, are not to be given large areas of discretion. Government means discretion. It means, however, that there must be provision within the legal system to ensure that this discretion is not abused. If one may give an example which has been much discussed recently—the question of pay guidelines and the so-called sanctions on those pay guidelines—it seems to me that there is nothing wrong in a Government laying down pay guidelines if they regard this as in the public interest, and even endeavouring to control, within their discretion and powers, the activities of those who may influence the observance of the pay guidelines. However, what we need to ensure is that the powers or discretion which the Executive is exerting are subject to law, that the courts can ensure that there is no abuse.
My noble and learned friend Lord Gardiner delivered a very powerful encomium on the legal profession and the Judiciary, and as a lawyer myself I feel great sympathy with everything he said. I am sure that much of the abuse that is heaped on the unfortunate heads of the legal profession is the result of misunderstanding and to some extent to campaigns which may be worked up by the media. At the same time, I think it is fair to point out that there is also an onus on the Judiciary in these matters. I yield to no one in my admiration of our own Judiciary. I think our Judiciary is quite remarkable and, despite what the noble and learned Lord, Lord Gardiner, was pointing out, it enjoys considerable respect at the hands of the community. But I venture to suggest that although judges in this country normally exercise tremendous restraint and refrain from making broad assertions from the bench, there are 529 occasions when judges yield to this temptation. This is very unfortunate and is one of the things which diminishes respect for the Judiciary. The bench is not a pulpit for public admonitions or for the expression of personal viewpoints, and although this happens only rarely when it occurs it does a good deal of harm.
The public must be educated to understand that the law cannot be set aside or disregarded because it may in some cases lead to results which we do not like. If we do not like the law there is a democratic process for trying to change it.
For the reasons I have given—I am sorry to say at rather too great length—I welcome this debate, especially if it leads, as I hope it will, to a better understanding by the public—if anybody responds to it by reading Hansard—of the crucial need for respect for the law as an essential value in our democratic society.
§ 5.35 p.m.
My Lords, as might be expected there have been many references today to the police, their numbers, their problems and their difficulties, but always expressed in very general terms. Perhaps that is not surprising because as yet we have not had any very precise lead from the Government about these difficulties. I quote from the Daily Telegraph of 24th February when the Home Secretary was reported as saying at a meeting—On behalf of the Government I make it clear that we will provide the resources and the manpower to enable all our citizens to go peaceably about their lawful business.Any of us could have said that, but what we want to know is a little more about the size of the problem and what we can do to help solve it. I submit that the manpower shortage is a good deal bigger than most people realise. It is not just one of more recruits but also of conditions of service, so enabling the police to keep the good men who today are all too ready to leave after five or 10 years' service.
I shall attempt to do better than the Home Secretary and give some figures. I have tried to work out the numbers necessary to increase every relief in the metropolitan police area by two. That is not very much, and many sergeants 530 and station officers will say that it is not enough. The figure that I come to is 4,500 men as a minimum. The calculation is simple, and I will show how I arrived at it. If I am wrong it will give the Minister's advisers time to work it out and he can give the correct figures when he comes to wind up.
I believe there are something like 170 police stations in the metropolitan police area each working on three reliefs per 24 hours. That means just over 500 reliefs, and if the figure is accepted that nine men must be added to strength in order to ensure an additional two men on duty round the clock, it would come to a figure of rather over 4,500. That is for London alone. What about the rest of England? This problem is formidable enough on numbers; it is also formidable on pay. But it is not just a question of pay. Quality is as important as quantity. We must not forget that there must be a fair proportion between PCs and WPCs because for many duties a WPC is not able to substitute for a PC—and I say this with some diffidence, surrounded by women as I stand here. There must be no lowering of standards. Of those men recruited, some must be of the quality who in time will be capable of rising to the highest jobs. If not, the problems of leadership in the police, which are big enough today, will become even bigger. Then there is the time factor. While a young man in uniform with very little training can do a great deal, he cannot do everything—and I shall return to this later.
The police call the first two years of a man's service, "probation"; that speaks for itself. It takes time to become a seasoned PC and that is where we are so short today. Meanwhile, the police presence on the streets is sadly lacking. Men are just not there, and "make believe" has gone on long enough. We are all full of admiration for the success of the operation at Ilford last Saturday when, I believe, statistically more than 25 per cent. of all men on duty in the met police area last Saturday afternoon has to be drawn into Ilford. In addition, we must think of police cover in other parts of London, so drained of manpower as to leave large areas a thieves' paradise for a number of hours, and good people paying rates and taxes in London expect differently from this.
531 I shall now quote another example of what can happen today. I was reluctant to mention it; an incident where I was present myself. As I do not want to be indiscreet or disloyal, but your Lordships' House rates personal experience highly and the gist of what I shall say is familiar to every villain in London. The noble Lord, Lord Harris of Greenwich, who is not in his place at the moment, knows that I have been trying to find out about what we all expect of a police constable of today. His life is really not so very different from that of the rest of us and it is a pity that over recent years the police have become quite so close and inward-looking.
Not long ago, in pursuit of this interest I arranged to visit a certain police station and, as the joining instructions describe, I was to arrive,ready to accompany an officer on normal duty. If necessary, protective clothing will be provided".I turned up. I shall not exaggerate this story or gild the lily, as one might say, because the point of the story is clear enough, but I shall dissemble a little so as not to disclose in which part of London it happened. It was not the roughest part of London, but a lot was going on and having heard what I have to say I would not wish any noble Lord who might happen to live in the area in question to lie uneasy in his bed at night.
On that night, there were barely enough regular men to man the office and two Panda cars. Beyond that there was one special constable with less than one year's service available to patrol on foot. The whole town was his; it was not a question of being tied to one beat. He received his instructions, drew his radio and a torch and he set off with me as an extra pair of eyes and ears. I should have liked a torch too, considering the dark places that we were going to, but I was much too shy to ask for one. There was no other man walking for miles in any direction. It was only a matter of minutes before I became full of admiration for this man's skill, considering his short service, and the very good manners he had with people. By making the most of his single uniform in the high streets and at busy street corners, he not only tried to create a police presence but he did, in 532 fact, create it. In contrast, he knew how to be unobtrusive when we were exploring dark alleys and the sordid areas behind car parks where things happen at nights. Nor did we forget to patrol the public lavatories. I reckon that I have been out with PCs often enough to tell when a man is alert and doing his duty as against someone who is something of a uniform carrier.
Having a prudent nature, I made sure that he kept testing his radio, but we ran into nothing serious. There were plenty of things of minor interest, not least burglar alarms going off in error, one after another. After several hours in the wet and cold that night, we thought it time to go in, and in the spirit of this trade union age when neither of us was being paid, this was not so dreadful. Frankly, I do not know what happened during the rest of that night, but I am sure that something will have been contrived.
That night, I went home proudly feeling that I had not just been a visitor but that I had been part of the system and that he, or we—if I may say this without sounding presumptuous—had done this job as well as most 19 or 20 year-old regulars would have done it, and maybe better. Of course, we had no serious trouble calling for a young man's muscle. But we had the radio and we knew that there was a Panda car to back us up, even if it was some distance away. I shall not give my companion's age away, but our joint ages totalled 119 years. Although we must all admit that exacting police duties can be carried out only by highly trained professionals, not all police duties are so exacting and there is great scope for auxiliaries to help in increasing the probability of detection on which the noble and learned Lord, Lord Gardiner, placed so much emphasis.
I shall now return to a favourite theme of mine—namely, preventive policing, about which the Home Office is so coy. After neglecting preventive policing for some years, it is now becoming the "in" thing. Last year's Ditchley Conference had protective policing as its theme and I cannot understand why the Home Office has cloaked this conference in quite unnecessary secrecy, not least as one of the papers has been printed and published. In 1978, more prominence will be given to the theme of protective policing in the 533 teaching at Bramshill, and it is likely to be the theme of the next ACPO Association of County Councils Joint Conference. I am sure noble Lords will agree that all this will be all to the good.
There are, of course, experiments taking place in enlightened parts of the country. I shall mention only one. In Humberside, there are special anti-vandalism patrols which are in contact with the caretakers and headmasters of schools. This experiment is in its early stages but I believe that the system is showing great promise. If any noble Lord wants any more information about preventive policing, I recommend that he studies the writings of John Alderson, who is now Chief Constable of Devon and Cornwall and who was not so long ago Commandant of the Police College at Bramshill. In November last, I quoted him in a speech as saying that many right-thinking men and women could, after some training and with professional back-up in men and resources, help the police in their own neighbourhood on limited duty. He has made much of this in some of his writings. My evenings out with policemen—not only in London and elsewhere in this country, but also abroad—have convinced me that that is so and have further convinced me that, in the foreseeable future, the task of doing all they have to is beyond the regular police alone while they are at short strength. Of this they have no reason at all to be ashamed.
I would urge the Government to give a lead to the public and not rely simply on general terms such as I quoted at the beginning of my speech. I want them to go further than guarded departmental words or else slogans about beating burglars and locking up bicycles, That is just not enough. I should like to hear a call to service in ringing terms, such as will get a response from men and women of goodwill all over the country to help the police in their task which at present stretches their resources to the utmost. This is no more than the historic duty of every fit man in the country, and it is as pressing today as it ever was.
§ 5.47 p.m.
§ Baroness GAITSKELL
My Lords, I do not think that I shall be able to match the stirring speech just made by the noble Lord, Lord Inglewood. I should like to 534 make a very brief intervention in this debate, which will be strictly non-professional. My fears were originally aroused by the terms in which the noble Lord, Lord O'Hagan, brought this Motion before us. I expected a dive into the political nostalgia of the good old days—hanging, flogging, and all that kind of thing. But my worst fears were confirmed by the way in which the noble Lord, Lord O'Hagan, introduced this debate, because he said absolutely nothing, but made a few rather scurrilous remarks about Labour Governments. The distingushed mantle of his illustrious cousin, John Strachey, has certainly not fallen on him, for whether or not one agreed with John Strachey, he was a great thinker and a very stimulating and rather wonderful writer.
I wish to intervene with a few general remarks which I think relate to the rise of crime in this country today—in fact, in this age. However, I am not a lawyer, so I shall study what has been said by all the lawyers who have contributed to the debate; I do not simply have to read what they say, but I must study it because ordinarily I cannot follow legal language very easily. Therefore, I shall not touch upon the Judiciary, for the best of whom I have the greatest respect.
First, the words "law and order" find rather chilling. In the United Nations they are used mostly by delegates from countries which employ torture in their Judiciary, and they use them in defence of their actions. These delegates come from several Latin American countries, from some South-East Asian countries, and a few others. I believe that the accelerating changes of this technological and scientific age we live in have a great deal to do with the increase in crime, because equality and human rights have not kept up with the advance in the technological and scientific spheres. Social and economic changes have not kept up with them.
The primacy of the law is the touchstone of the Judiciary. Many of the reasons for the rise in crime come right outside this. The noble Lord, Lord Kinross, in his charming maiden speech—and I am sorry that I did not hear the maiden speech of the noble Marquess, Lord Tweeddale, but I shall read it—emphasised that education was one of the factors which we must take account of when we blame those who 535 indulge in crime. Really there can be no doubt that we still maintain a mostly élitist education system. We have not given most of the finance to comprehensive education; we have not improved our comprehensive education; we have not improved our primary education, to the extent that we have improved our colleges of education. This has definitely had an influence on the crime rate. For how can many of our children, without a proper education, without training and so without opportunities, face up to the glittering prizes which they see people obtain quickly in this scientific and technological society?
I call it the "temptation society". I personally am not against advertising, but I am very much against advertising when there is great unemployment, as there is especially among young people in this country, in other countries, and in America. When I was in New York at the end of the year at the United Nations I watched television. I watched the pressure of the advertising to buy, buy, and buy, and wondered what effect this had on the young black unemployed. It seemed to me that it must have a terrible effect. Of course the crime rate is very high there. It is the same here where there is high unemployment among youngsters.
People mention football hooliganism. I think that here too the lack of opportunity for glamour, for achievement; the inability to get the typical glamour and achievement of, say, pop stars, footballers and others, also has an effect. It creates an envy. It is all very fine people saying, "Oh, it is just envy, and therefore it is no good". It is just this envy which leads to a certain amount of crime. Actually, there is very little wrong with envy when it is a spur to achievement and getting on in the world, but when the opportunity is not there, of course, we sort of brush it aside.
This idea coming from the right honourable Mr. Whitelaw of all people, who was so wonderful when he was in Northern Ireland and we all admired him, of these short, sharp sentences, is really a great letdown. I think that Members of Parliament should not only visit prisons, should not only go and look at them and see what is going on, but they should have three weeks in the year to go and live in prisons, and stay there, and see what it is like, and 536 see the monotony, and then I do not think that they would talk so readily about short, sharp sentences, or long sentences. I think we would have something quite different.
§ Lord LYELL
My Lords, would the noble Baroness allow me to intervene? I can vividly remember the first four weeks of my National Service 20 years ago. From my observations, those days of my youth were far harder than anything that the noble Baroness is referring to now. I can remember them vividly, and I do not need three weeks in the year to go back.
§ Baroness GAITSKELL
My Lords, I am sorry; I believe that you had a very hard time, but very many young people in this country are having a much harder time than I think you could ever endure. However, I am ready to believe anything you say about it. There is very little more that I want to add. When I think of the age we live in, I think that a great surge, a great tide of equality must come about before we can have any kind of reduction in crime. After all, there have been a great many international changes towards equality. Look what has happened in the international field. We have to pay more for our oil and raw materials. There is much more equality between nations, and there has to be even more. Well, we need more equality in our own country. By that I do not mean that everybody has to earn 25 shillings a week. I do not mean anything so infantile as that. If equality does not increase—and by that I mean real equality—during this age, I shall feel rather depressed when I think of the life that our children and our grandchildren will have to endure.
§ 5.57 p.m.
My Lords, I feel sure that we are all grateful to my noble friend Lord O'Hagan, not least because his Motion sired two splendid speeches from my noble friends Lord Kinross and Lord Tweeddale. I now know that their names will only need to appear on the annunciators for the Library, the corridors, the tea-room and the bars to be totally deserted. We must also be grateful to the noble Lord, Lord O'Hagan, for initiating this debate, for it raises issues of the greatest importance, not least fundamental juristic and political issues.
537 Referring to the juristic approach, not being a lawyer and not having been subjected to the fine intellectual discipline of legal training and practice, I find this approach most difficult, and I ask for your Lordships' understanding, in this veritable eyrie of legal eagles, of any confusion of thought and any infelicities of style. However, I believe the law to be far too important a subject to be left to the lawyers.
Before one can consider the decline in respect for authority, I feel that one must first consider the nature of authority and from whom that authority receives its mandate, and why. Should any of your Lordships feel that I am delighting in sterile semantics, may I remind your Lordships of Professor J. L. Austin's happy observation that:We may use a sharpened awareness of words to sharpen our awareness of the phenomena.Fundamentally, there are three authorities, and three alone. They are, in my humble view, and in the order in which we experience them, parental authority, divine or moral authority, and sovereign or State authority, and they are all interlinked. The first and in many ways quite the most important of these is parental authority, for its mandate is found in sweet, unquestioning, natural love, affection and respect. We can safely forget Oscar Wilde's slick cynicism when he observed:Children begin by loving their parents. They then get to know them and they never forgive them.It is in the very early years of understanding that the seeds of disrespect are sown. One of the most insidious and dangerous results of creeping Socialism is the erosion of respect for any individual or institution that commands authority, which is in direct proportion to the State eroding the dignity of parents by removing from them their ability to exercise their duties, obligations and responsibilities to their young and to their fellow men.
I am convinced that Socialism will be seen to have contributed more than any other single factor to the breakup of the nuclear and extended family in that, by believing, inter alia, in a high taxation economy, they have driven the mothers into the factories and offices and the 538 children into amorphous groups at too young an age. If the State treats its adults as children, they will behave like children. Even the Warsaw Pact countries are becoming concerned at the social effect on their young as a result of young mothers working and young children being herded into their much-vaunted crèches and nurseries.
I do not pretend that this is an easy problem to solve, but I believe passionately that everything should be done to make it easier in this complex society of ours to strengthen and not weaken family ties, for, once the smallest and quite the most important unit in society breaks up, the fabric of society disintegrates. There are many examples in history to substantiate this point. I despair. I see this destruction of the family happening all around us and frankly I do not know whether this distressing trend can ever be reversed.
As the child becomes older, becomes more aware, an additional and associated authority is accepted. In a Christian society we think of this as divine authority; indeed, on each sitting day of your Lordships' House we declare and accept this authority. We pray,O Lord, our heavenly Father, high and mighty, King of kings, Lord of lords, the only Ruler of princes.And again:Almighty God, by whom alone kings reign and princes decree justice, and from whom alone cometh all counsel, wisdom and understanding".Noble Lords will see that divine authority is analogous to parental authority, in that we vest the authority in a personal deity; this is fundamental to Christianity. However, rather than offend the delicate sensibilities of the humanists of our unholy mother the State, I will call this authority moral authority or the paramount authority of conscience. It was interesting to note only last week that the Prime Minister of East Germany, in justifying certain social policies, had the German word kommunistisch translated as "humanist"; once again, we see that authority must be given its mandate freely by those over whom the authority will be exercised.
To put it another way, every parent—and the State, if it must—has a strict and solemn responsibility to nurture and enrich 539 in the heart of the child its awareness of conscience, of the moral authority, with the guidance and influence of spiritual leaders and spiritual literature. How high a priority is spiritual education—a "leading out", for that is what education means—given in our State schools? I do not know, but I suspect that it is given meagre and thus useless attention.
Many might think that the Churches have abrogated much of their influence and guidance by passing to the State so many of the duties and obligations of their ministries. People used to go "on the parish"; they now go "on the State". Many might point to the obscene silence of the Churches on the vicious subject of Northern Ireland. However, much is said and much good is done, though no churchman would believe other than that much more could be done. But we read little of this in the media, for they persistently insist on reporting only what is had and not what is good. I ask: are the Government and spiritual leaders indirectly encouraging the erosion of moral authority by their lack of concern and understanding of this vital and very real authority?
The third authority is sovereign authority. Again, happily, we in this country see that it is a personal authority vested tacitly by the people and symbolised in the person of the Monarch, our sovereign lady the Queen, and again it has its base in love—love of country—for, as with Thomas Hobbes' men, the people agree not with their ruler but each with every other to obey the sovereign Leviathan. I ask those who may think that this is so much romantic nonsense to cast their minds back to the summer of 1977. There, they will see the reality of the mandate given by the people to their ruler and, through her, to her Government and the institutions of our country.
This leads me to attempt to illustrate how that, in the second part of the wording of the Motion, insidious Socialist thinking can enter the minds and hearts of even the most Conservative. The assumption implicit in the phrase "the primacy of the law"—namely, that the law is pre-eminent and that it is authority, something above us, something apart from us—is fundamentally unsound and confusing. It is this piece of Socialist thinking that, in my untutored view, has been responsible 540 more than almost any other single factor for bringing Parliament, the legislature and the law into serious disrepute.
The law is not authority. The law is our reward and not our master. To paraphrase the noble and learned Lord, Lord Denning (I think in the High Trees case), the law is a shield and not a bludgeon. The law issues, or should issue, from the people. It is part of us. It is for our protection so that we may live in peace in the way in which we choose, subject to respect for the lives and property of our fellow men. I believe that this fundamental misunderstanding of the function of law has in the past few decades led directly to much bad law. It has led to our legislators using the law as a means whereby the State can impose its political philosophy on its people. It has led to the belief that the law can and should entrench rights. To think of the law in this way is to take the long route to totalitarianism. But it takes a great deal of juristic determination to perceive of "rights", to quote Professor H. L. A. Hart,As a conception of moral rules, as not only prescribing conduct but as forming a kind of moral property of individuals to which they are, as individuals, entitled.Odd consequences must and do flow from this thinking. The Seventh Commandment does not give spouses the right not to have adulterous actions performed. We see bad law in the multiplicity and complexity of the law; in law by decree—the bundles of Statutory Instruments referred to so eloquently by the noble and learned Lord, Lord Gardiner. A former Lord Chancellor said in this House when speaking to a clause in some Bill, "I cannot pretend to understand this". The noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor said of one clause during the debate on the Criminal Law Bill in this House that it was "one gigantic intellectual puzzle". If the lawyers do not understand the law as it is enacted by Parliament, what hope is there for the people?
It should never be forgotten that it is the legislators who bring the law into disrespect. The current debate on the future of the legal profession is a good example of Parliament finding a scapegoat for its own shortcomings. I never believed that the cry, "Pity the poor lawyers!" would command anything other 541 than a horse-laugh. Now I am not so sure. Yet another of the most disturbing results of Socialism is manifest in the distressing modern tendency to cry for one's rights and to remain silent about one's duties, obligations and responsibilities. Not only in the juristic sense do I believe that Bentham was correct when he wrote, "Talk of rights is nonsense on stilts".
The Ten Commandments, the very hub of our common law, have been seen by some as an early Bill of Rights. This I believe to be nonsense; Moses was a far better lawyer than that. If anything, it is an early Bill of Duties and Responsibilities. Our rights flow from the performance of our duties, obligations and responsibilities to our fellow men, not the other way round. This continual crying for "rights —"rights against whom one might ask?—like children whining for more sweets without heeding their own long-term good or the donor's capacity or willingness to provide, is a good demonstration of the decline in respect for the peace and wellbeing of our fellow men. But, by serious misunderstanding of the function of our law, by abusing the law, our legislators have earned the disrespect that they so thoroughly deserve.
§ 6.10 p.m.
The Earl of LYTTON
My Lords, some time ago, when the noble Lord, Lord O'Hagan, was sitting on these Benches, some member of his family said, "Keep an eye on that young man and help him if you can". It is rather like my grandfather, who, on his deathbed, said, "I advise you, cultivate Winston". Winston never needed any cultivation from me, of course; and I really do not think the noble Lord, Lord O'Hagan, needs a helping hand from me. I have watched his progress with interest and, sometimes, with admiration. I say that because at the beginning of this debate I suffered a short, sharp shock. This was because it was at once apparent that this was a motion of censure against the Government on their mishandling of the situation with regard to crime. The second part of the shock was the extension of the whole debate to crime, which is not mentioned in the Motion. Nor is law and order, although law is mentioned separately. I shall reserve my ammunition regarding crime for a little debate which the noble Baroness, Lady Phillips, is due 542 to lead in about a week's time, on the 8th of this month.
I mentioned to the noble Lord, Lord O'Hagan, what I was going to talk about, and he nodded his head and gave me full benediction for that particular line. But I must say that I was shocked, and wish to take no part in this partisan assault on the Government in the matter of crime. I sec no reason why it should be answered, because the debate has been first-class in all directions on crime, though it was not quite the line that I had prepared. How interesting it was; and I thought that if we had heard nothing else but the defence of the Judiciary by the noble and learned Lord. Lord Gardiner, who has just left the Chamber, it would have been well worth while to come for that alone.
There were other good speeches, too. There was that from the noble Marquess, Lord Tweeddale. I have always wanted to ask a question of a man who has been beaten a lot, and I think it was he who said he had frequently been beaten. Surely, beatings in public schools and elsewhere, as I know them, are reserved not for any major crime but for minor acts of indiscipline; for major offences they are totally and utterly unsuitable. I remember my daughter listening to my son saying he had been beaten nine times during the course of the term from which he had just returned. He was explaining that it was simply because he did not make his bed; he had been beaten for that reason. She said, "Oh! I wish I could be beaten. You have no idea the kind of tiresome punishment the nuns inflict upon us because they cannot beat us. If only we could get rid of it quickly." it is, I think, a punishment reserved for minor offences of indiscipline, and not for anything very serious. Of course, if the noble Marquess were to rise and say that his crimes were very grave, I should not ask any further questions; but he does not move.
I had intended to speak on authority in the broader sense, because I thought that that was possibly what a large part of the debate would be about. I remember addressing audiences in Los Angeles in May of last year on the exercise of authority by Parliament, the House of Lords and the House of Commons, and by the trade unions, and on the flaws of the system. We had some interesting talks. 543 I should like to mention the flaws and the weaknesses which I see, which are weaknesses in the exercise of democracy in the new age. Perhaps I ought to say, before going on to the reform of our Parliamentary and voting systems, that the change in the attitude towards authority is worldwide and widespread. I do not quite know what the causes are, but it is very notable and not everywhere at all objectionable. In fact, it is a manifestation of a coming to maturity of people in walks of life where, at one time, they had nothing to discuss. There is a new confidence. People who used to call me, "My Lord", such as small children at school, now say, "Hello, Lord Lytton; how are you this morning?" In America, where, 50 years ago, I visited a ranch and was addressed, "Good morning, colonel"—I was then a captain—they now say, "Hi! ', and you say," Hi! "back. Everybody you pass says," Hi! "—and why not? Everybody is more friendly.
I do not look at television—I have no set—but I notice that the impact on people of the radio and television has many beneficial aspects. They know so much. They talk to you about experiences far away. I met a negro from Zaire on the campus of a university in Los Angeles. Once we got into conversation, he said, "What do you think of Amin claiming the throne of Scotland?", and we had much laughter on the subject of Scotland. I said, "What do you think of the people with bows and arrows coming to the rescue of your President Mobutu?" We had further laughter on that, and he said he thought the bowmen were winning. This was information taken from the media on that very day, or the evening before. People are interested in all sorts of things, and they argue. It is not all amiss that this tremendous effervescence of energy leads to a certain amount of crime.
Now to move on to what I had hoped to make the exclusive subject of my speech. It seems to me—and this is what I said to my audiences in Los Angeles—that we in the House of Lords have lost the power which we exercised for, say, a thousand years. We exercised supreme authority. "Do you repine?", they asked. I said, "No, not at all. What we deplore is that, within half a century of passing on our power to the 544 Commons, where it should be, it has passed out of the Commons and is no longer there. That is the trouble we are suffering from."
I merely mentioned that, with the polarisation of Parties and the system of election which we have, even a Party with a majority in the House of Commons enjoys the support of no more than 40 per cent. of the electorate. Therefore, it has another 40 per cent. against it and 20 per cent. of "don't knows". So they asked me, "Is power in the hands of the trade unions?" I said, "There again, you must look at the trade unions. It is not really. Power has not moved to them just like that". I added, "Recent reports have indicated that only half the labour force of this country belongs to a trade union; only one-tenth of that half ever attends a meeting; and only a fraction of that one-tenth of one-half takes part in the election of members". That is not representative; it cannot be representative; and if you go to the CBI to discover how they base their authority, it is even more difficult. It is democracy which we are failing to manage. We are not enlisting the participation of a maturer kind of person who wants to take part. It is not only the election of candidates which is wrong; it is the selection of candidates, heaven knows where from, behind people's backs. That is surely the trouble from which we are suffering. That is the trouble with regard to Parliament; authority has left the Commons. What I should like most is to restore to the Commons—not to this House but to the Commons—its proper authority, which it has not now got.
There is another thing in regard to industry. I get so monotonously bored by this dreadful conflict between the public sector and the private sector. What is wrong is that the huge organs of both the public sector and the private sector are so organised as to be impersonal—so impersonal, no boss, nobody knows whom he is serving, nobody can get his little problems solved over the counter. The other day my wife was in a train coming from Three Bridges to Victoria and she happened to sit among a number of railway drivers who were coming to lobby a Minister. One of them, a loco-driver, complained—and it was a typical complaint of these days—that when something went wrong with his 545 locomotive and he got on to people about it, the people who should decide, they, having heard what he had to say, always gave the answer: "Do what you think is right! You are the man on the spot." There is no authority, no boss. If you ask Sir Richard Marsh then you will hear him say the same thing: there is no authority in this organisation.
I chose the railway system simply because I happen to know of an illustration. But it is the same with Henry Ford and his huge organisation. There is this degree of impersonality. I thought that a very good point was made by one of the distinguished maiden speakers, the noble Lord, Lord Kinross, who spoke of the subaltern in wartime. I am not so sure whether it is the subaltern or the commanding officer; but there is a limit to the number of people that a man should be able to control and be in charge of. But about those he should know everything. He should know them, their names, their wives, their homes, their Children. He must know everything; otherwise how can he deal with them as human beings? It is the lack of a leader who knows how to deal with people that is at fault with the public sector and with the private sector. Heaven knows how I long for this sterile dispute between the two to be brought to an end! My Lords, I have spoken for far too long.
§ 6.22 p.m.
§ Lord LYELL
My Lords, I should like to do three things; first, to thank my noble friend Lord O'Hagan for initiating this debate. It may be that he was provocative at the start, but I do not think that your Lordships' House expects anodyne debates Wednesday after Wednesday. I think that we heard some notable speeches and, above all, the speeches of the two maiden speakers. I would hope that I may, with the other Members of your Lordships' House, offer my congratulations to the two noble Lords who spoke for the first time today and express the hope that we shall hear very much more of them in the future. The third thing that I should like to do is to mention to the noble Earl. Lord Lytton, that my speech will cover law much more than authority and that it may stray from some of the aspects of law and order and the more philosophical 546 bent that we have had from many noble Lords.
I should like to say something about a subject which concerns me and my noble friend Lord Colville of Culross over many years, over five, six or seven years. This is a subject which may not be familiar to many of your Lordships. It is the particular behaviour of large crowds at, around and in football stadiums in the biggest cities throughout the Kingdom. The scenes at Ilford last weekend that we have heard mentioned by several noble Lords are, I regret, not abnormal throughout the autumn and winter months, in that large crowds gather in various parts of towns ostensibly to attend football matches. But often we find that a few hotheads, it may be 10 or 20 but could be up to 100, can cause immense and disproportionate trouble requiring close organisation and continual scrutiny from the police.
Ilford may have made the headlines but the threat of disruption to the lives of those of us who wish to watch live sport or wish to go about the streets on Saturday afternoons, as well as the hundreds or thousands of people who do not wish to go near a football stadium is a permanent one. Examples come readily to my mind as, I am sure, to many noble Lords. Let us take one example in Derby. A residents' association representing the neighbours of the local team had thought of asking for an injunction against the football team concerned. These neighbours were worn out with boarding up their windows against a minority of supporters from a minority of visiting teams. Happily, the football clubs concerned were able to give assurances to channel off the more aggressive supporters who came with certain identified teams and the injunctions were no longer needed. But rumbles of discontent were heard this week in Liverpool after major disturbances following a match watched by 50,000 spectators. Only 30 or 31 people, I think, were arrested within the stadium for what I shall call such relatively minor crimes as drunkenness or pick-pocketing. I shall take correction as to whether these may be considered minor crimes; but in the field that I am discussing they can be regarded as relatively minor, although breaches of the law.
547 Certainly, I understand, fights broke out with police who had carefully escorted the visiting supporters away from the ground and back to their coaches in the car parks. Fights broke out when stragglers were left without the protection they required—the police had thought that everybody had gone back to the coaches—when these stragglers had wandered off to get supplies of alcoholic beverages or food for what was likely to be a long journey. But when they got back to their coaches the local supporters were waiting for them and there were disturbances. Again, the Anfield Tenants' Association raised the problem with their councillors, I think on Tuesday of this week. It seems that at last local residents who have to put up with this fortnight after fortnight are no longer prepared to tolerate wanton vandalism, damage and assaults.
North of the Border the problem of crowd behaviour at football games is more complex; first, in the ages of the hooligans and miscreants and, secondly, in the incidence of alcoholic beverages. We have our own admirable report on Crowd Behaviour at Football. I managed to obtain a copy of this yesterday with some difficulty. It is a valuable document and I may refer to this document later. Last week-end I went home to Scotland. I did not attend any particular event or match but in the evening, as is my habit, I turned on the television for the televised evening report. This showed a serious crowd invasion of the pitch which necessitated a stoppage of the particular game for four minutes. Many of those who ran out on to the pitch were fleeing from trouble within the terracing. Any solutions which may have been arrived at by the Safety of Sports Grounds Act or the Green Code accompanying it such as the fencing of the ground in this instance would haw caused even more problems. There could have been serious injuries through crushing. The first people who came on to the pitch were children running away for protection from trouble in the terraces. I have spoken to observers who attend many such matches, journalists and others and those who know about the control of crowds and they told me that at this particular game all the ingredients for disturbance were in evidence.
548 Firstly, alcohol was being consumed in very large quantities among the spectators both outside and inside the ground while the game was in progress; secondly, there was a hard competitive match played in front of these spectators; and, thirdly, tempers were running very high among the visiting supporters whose team happened to be two goals down. The police in this instance, as in many other cases, acted swiftly and with commendable restraint. Order was restored and the game continued after, as I have said, a stoppage of four minutes.
There have been other pitch invasions even in England. This year in January there was a serious disturbance at Leeds. It seems in the main that these pitch invasions are designed to have games called off when an adverse result for either team seems imminent. Of course, the football authorities and the police have taken, and continue to take very strong action to punish the perpetrators of these crazy acts. But from what I have been able to observe—and I do not know whether my noble friend Lord Colville or anybody responsible for the administration at the Home Office may think—the police, the football administrators and magistrates regard the problem of crowd hooliganism and vandalism as one of containment rather than of outright cure.
What should we do if a young schoolboy or a 16-year-old or perhaps two of them or a small group of young people may be attacked by a considerable crowd of supporters of a rival team? If one or any of the individuals submits tamely, will he join the appalling terrible list of youngsters who have died over the week-end as a result of a disturbance outside discotheques and places where alcohol is not necessarily sold?
I believe the ingredients are just the same outside these football grounds. Will these young people, who are a minority and who are surrounded by a "pack"—that is the best way one can describe it—of rival supporters, join the young people who have died? If the attacked victims fight back, the police will, we hope, arrive and will arrest one or more of the attackers. But the police probably do not know who started the trouble and they will arrest everyone, including the unfortunate victims.
549 This may appear florid to your Lordships. I assure the House that I am not describing a scene from a nature film from the Serengeti National Park. I go further and assure your Lordships that were I to be in such a position, I would not play the part of some tame, docile prey. Noble Lords may have seen an interview at the weekend, when the weather was bad, between the Minister for Sport and one of our leading television commentators. The Minister expressed his desire for what he called "harsh penalties" for football hooligans. So do we all. Those were admirable sentiments. We come hack, particularly in your Lordships' House, after each riot or disturbance, to the problems first of identifying and then of apprehending the trouble-makers and those responsible for starting the trouble, either as a result of drink or wanton high spirits, through lack of control of their temper or, worse still, because their team is losing and they think that, if the game is called off, the match will be replayed and their team will have a better chance. This, too, can happen.
If innocent victims cannot be distinguished from trouble-makers—and the police have told me that it is often difficult to know who has started the trouble and is at fault—then I believe that the law can and does fall quickly into disrepute. This does not help to achieve the solution that we desire: respect for the law and freedom to act or speak within that law or to go about our business when and where we please without carrying banners. This may have a connotation with Ilford, but I can assure your Lordships that people carry banners and other implements when they go to football games. Small banners can be used as weapons. In many States in America banners are forbidden because they can be used as weapons. Banners are not banned in this country yet.
I referred earlier to a report of a working party in Scotland. I believe that that report contained much good sense, as did the Safety of Sports Grounds Act and its accompanying green code. Yet even those admirable measures have serious flaws. First of all, so far as the report is concerned, there is one recommendation within the report that alcohol may—I think they say, "in certain selected grounds"—be sold or distributed within the grounds where football is actually being played. 550 There is less and less evidence in Scotland of civilised drinking within that land, and the police repeat time and time again that crowd trouble is due almost entirely—certainly in Scotland—to drink being consumed within the ground or before spectators get in.
Then we come to the Safety of Sports Grounds Act 1975. This is accompanied by an admirable green code, which is akin to the Highway Code, so far as transport, driving and conduct on the roads is concerned. This green code gives details of regulations as to ingress and egress, crush barriers, walls, stairways and the like. It is reasonable to have such a code; but the code itself stresses the need for flexibility in interpreting that code. It has been pointed out to me that on several grounds in the country regulations are too often enforced with rigidity. This takes no account of how a crowd will behave within any stadium, however safe or modern it might be.
One example occurred at the start of this season in August last year. It involved a major stadium which had a restriction on one terracing limiting numbers to 15 per cent. of what had been until April 1977 regarded by the police as eminently safe and reasonable. Consequently, the home supporters who turned up at the start of the season were unable to get in and stand in their usual places. They had to stand among the visiting supporters. This particular team manager admitted that his supporters were not the types whom he would invite round for tea. This mingling of potentially rival supporters is one problem which the police can very well do without.
Happily, at this particular game there was no disturbance during the first half. At half time, when the teams went off for refreshment and a rest, the home supporters, seeing huge gaps in their normal stand, marched in thousands—not hundreds, not tens, not as many as there are noble Lords in this House—the whole length of the pitch. Even if the police had wished to prevent this march, it would have required an inordinate force. The force would have been larger than the number we saw at Ilford. One of the earlier speakers mentioned that a quarter of the Metropolitan Police Force were at Ilford. To prevent this march would have required a vast amount of police. This is a perfect example of 551 inflexibility in the law, as well as of making law enforcement absolutely impossible. I do not want to join those who demand super stadia for league clubs playing football. I believe that we can find better uses for the scarce Government resources which are at our disposal, be they national or local.
I have seen excellent police measures to combat assaults and thuggery at Leicester. At one particular entrance, each young man was checked to see that he had no beer cans or bottles on him and no studded boots or belts or anything that could cause injury. It seemed that everyone was willing to submit to a swift and fairly cursory search carried out by the police. I stress that this was carried out by the police at one particular part of the ground which had had a very had record of violence earlier in that season. Sadly, I have also been informed that in England and Scotland police do not readily have available the power to search for weapons at the turnstiles. These are weapons which will probably turn out to be offensive. If people do not openly carry knives, or anything else which could cause trouble, the police do not have the power to search every spectator who goes in through the turnstiles. Nor do the police have power to search for bottles or cans of beer carried on the person of the spectator.
It is easy to prevent people going into a football ground with what we in Scotland call a "carry-out" a brown bag, or supermarket bag full of bottles or cans. Police can tell people to leave those behind. If a person is carying a bottle in his hip pocket it is extremely difficult to "frisk" him and 40,000 or 50,000 other people. The police are unable to do this. We do not want to advocate a change in the law just to cope with this problem, but the police are normally in a position to charge hooligans with serious crimes wherever and whenever such people can be apprehended. The problem is catching and apprehending them. I presume that the noble Lord, Lord Harris of Greenwich, will be replying and, as he is not at the moment in his place, I wonder whether the noble Lord, Lord Winterbottom, can make a note for him. Can the noble Lord say what steps the Government can take to ensure that 552 hooligans, thugs and bullies can be charged with very serious crimes and can at some stage be cleared from the streets, the railway stations and the football grounds where so many people go for enjoyment?
This epidemic of violence affects very many people directly or indirectly. There are those of us who are unable to purchase weekend tickets on the railways. This is because it is thought by the railway authorities that if we innocent people purchase such tickets in order to make visits at the weekends, football supporters will also be able to purchase cheap weekend tickets and, where there is an incidence of violence, the railway authorities say that in order to prevent the minority of 5 per cent. who are going to cause trouble at Manchester, Leeds or Liverpool, the 95 per cent. of the rest of us who may wish to buy weekend tickets, are not able to do so. There are also those of us who would like to see the football without the police continually, weekend after weekend, being over-burdened by endless misbehaviour. There are those of us who simply want to spend our weekends in peace without vandalism and damage to gardens, walls, property and streets.
We have had a number of philosophical, wise and excellent speeches today. I want to ask the Government to follow the advice of the police primarily in this matter of crowd behaviour. It is a matter of law enforcement. Nothing would do more to help football. Such advice would reassure thousands of people up and down the country who, for any number of reasons, fear football in the idiotic, mindless violence which stains the reputations of those good natured, decent, humorous supporters of our national game.
My Lords, in conclusion, I apologise to the noble and learned Lord who sits upon the Woolsack and who is to reply. I am sure he will be kind enough to note my possibly florid and hot-tempered remarks and answer them.
§ The LORD CHANCELLOR
My Lords, I apologise to the noble Lord that, in a brief interregnum of 10 minutes, I missed the privilege of hearing the whole of his no doubt excellent speech.
§ 6.40 p.m.
§ Lord LEE of NEWTON
My Lords, although we in this House have no particular right of participation in a General Election, the Opposition, of its charity, has today given us an opportunity to take part in the preliminaries. Those preliminaries I have been studying lately and they appear to be four-sided. They include an undertaking that if only the nation will return the Tories to power the sky will be the limit on incomes increases, but of course there is no mention whatever of prices and inflation. They have a difference with Government policy over Northern Ireland, with no indication whatever as to what that difference may be. Then they propose to put a stop to immigration, with a rather belated indication that they would honour their past promises to let in more immigrants—in which event it is rather difficult to understand why Mrs. Thatcher made a statement in the first place. Perhaps now that the Runnymede Trust has informed us that to cut immigration from the New Commonwealth and Pakistan would breach the European Code of Human Rights, we can expect a further, considered, statement on the matter from the Leader of the Conservative Party.
The fourth issue, of course, is law and order, which was debated on Monday in another place and, just in case the electors of Ilford North failed to get the message, we are staging a repeat performance in this Chamber today. My charge against the Tories is that, while they have very little to suggest in the way of worthwhile change on a number of subjects, most of which contain considerable emotional overtones, they are striving to convey the impression that if only they were in power the issues which are causing unhappiness and fear would be eradicated forthwith.
Having read Monday's debate in another place on what, I would remind the House, was a Censure Motion, and having listened attentively to most of the speeches today, I am, quite frankly, still wondering what are the accusations the Opposition are making against the Government. In view of the facts which have been revealed by the Government in another place, and indeed by statements made in this House today, I suggest that it is quite impossible for the Opposition to sustain any accusation of neglect on the lines of law and order.
554 The constant theme that we have heard has been that thousands of police have been leaving the force because of dissatisfaction with pay and also, according to Mr. William Whitelaw,with their status in society, with the unpleasant duties forced upon them and the disgraceful treatment that they receive from certain sections of our people".Where is there an accusation in that of anything against this Government'? I cannot find anything, and it really is disgusting. I listened to the noble Lord who opened this debate. If only he could find the moderate words that he found to put down his Motion I think he would be a more respected Member of this House now. But his utterly unfounded accusations were not supported by one single fact of any type or description, and I will challenge him to get up now and tell me what those facts are.
§ Lord O'HAGAN
My Lords, I am quite willing to prolong the debate for another five hours. If the noble Lord wants that to happen no doubt he will be happy to continue; but just as the noble Lord the Leader of the House asked me to tone down, I would say the same to him.
§ Lord LEE of NEWTON
My Lords, if the noble Lord could continue to speak for another five hours, as he threatened, judging by his first speech he would still have said nothing. The answer to these charges of people running away from the police force in masses is that, at the end of 1977, there were 7,500 more members of the police force than when the Opposition left Office in 1974. I wonder what they did to the police to cause a situation of that type. But indeed, when Mr. William Whitelaw, for whom I have the greatest respect—I am sorry he has got into such bad company—was confronted with that fact he complained:The right honourable gentleman's answers to criticism about police strength always compare present figures with those in March 1974. The comparison is totally irrelevant to the solution of our problems in 1978".Well, we all like Willie, but he had better think of something better than that. Indeed, it was pretty cool stuff after he had spent much of his time trotting out large numbers of figures designed to show that the police force was in danger of being almost deserted overnight.
555 On pay alone, last year the police received a 10 per cent. increase, and in 1975 they had a 30 per cent. increase, while other workers received £6. Is that really a record that substantiates the charges that we have heard about policemen running away because of lack of pay? It really cannot stand inquiry or investigation. Surely the very fact that there are 7,500 more in the police force is among the most highly relevant of factors contributing to the solution of our 1978 problems. It also happens to be the perfect answer to the nonsense the Tories have been churning out about the position of the police force. Indeed, the statement by Mrs. Thatcher at Northampton, that under this Government there are fewer policemen than there were in 1974 is, if I can say it with moderation, just not true. But, from experience, I doubt whether we shall hear the right honourable lady withdrawing it—at least, not until after the next General Election; and anything can happen after that.
Quite apart from the numbers of police officers, Government expenditure to combat crime has increased by £250 million in real terms since the Tories left Office. Whether the Government have had to do that secretly because of the campaign to cut public expenditure, I do not know; but, quite frankly, £250 million in real terms is, to us on this side at any rate, a figure to be rather proud of in our effort to get rid of the crime and terrorism which is worrying all of us. In the past year alone an extra £50 million for police support has been spent. I suppose that, too, is irrelevant to the issue!
The Criminal Law Act 1977 has strengthened the law itself over a wide range of offences and has effected a substantial reform of the penalties available to magistrates. We have heard references to community services. They will be operating throughout the country by the end of the next financial year, and £3,500,000 has been made available over two years for secure accommodation in the community homes system. There are now plans—the Opposition must know this—for 12 more attendance centres for juveniles, in addition to the 60 already available to provide for part-time attendances. There are also 11 detention centres for men and six for boys.
556 Of course, the problems—and we have today, very rightly, heard of the problems of terrorism and burglary and of a general decline—are increasing, and they are increasing at an even faster pace throughout most of the 'Western World. The Government, anyway in this country, have reacted to these problems in the way I have indicated. Indeed Mr. Whitelaw himself, when confronted with this, said:I agree it is part of a world-wide trend".Does anybody wish to blame this Government for the world-wide trend in this matter?
But apart from howling about the problems, I put it to the House: What major suggestions have the Tories for dealing with them, and in what way do their propositions, such as they are, differ from what the Government are already doing? Indeed, if, on close analysis, there are no major differences between the political Parties, while crime continues to increase, can the criticism be levelled at the other instrument involved; namely, the police themselves? There is no restriction by Government on them. In fact, many of the leading figures in the police forces of this country, who have served both Governments, are in great demand by other countries for advice on countering terrorism and various other crimes.
Sir Robert Mark, former Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, whose organisation of our defences against crime and terrorism commands admiration throughout many parts of the world, and Sir James Houghton, former Chief Inspector of Constabulary at the Home Office, have been asked by the Australian Government to advise their police on anti-terrorist methods; and, since his retirement, Sir Robert has been in demand in the USA for lectures on this subject. Does all this sound to any reasonable person as though there has been neglect by either Governments or police forces in Britain of the very real problems which this nation faces? Again, I argue that there is no justification at all. There was none on Monday in another place and there has been none today, for the general accusation that the Government are not doing enough on law and order. If there are no substantial differences over methods between the Parties, and our leading policemen are advising throughout the world, one wonders what all the fuss is about.
557 I was looking this morning at the leading article in the Guardian, and I quote it because I think that it puts the position succinctly and correctly. It says this:Like Labour, the Conservatives want more community service orders and more use of probation".Is there any dissenting voice? I will proceed.
Like Labour, the Conservatives want fewer people sent to prisons and shorter sentences for the people who have to be sent".There is still no difference.
Like Labour, the Conservatives want the mentally sick and the alcoholic removed from prison. And, like Labour, they want more pay for the police".The Guardian quoted Mr. Maudling as saying in the debate:I am appalled at the thought of an election being fought on the basis of candidates being for or against the police".I hope that the Party opposite take very much to heart what a former Home Secretary of theirs has been saying.In a statesmanlike speechsaid the GuardianMr. Reggie Maudling implicitly accepted Labour's support for the police ".It is also suggested that Mr. Whitelaw is rather unhappy about the Tory campaign—I am not quoting now; this is me, as a certain man on television says—and about those in his Party, including his leader, who are very much involved in it.
When the noble Lord, Lord O'Hagan, opened the debate, he spoke about his ancestors coming over—I presume that he means from Ireland—to avoid unemployment and so on. He told us that they arrived in this country to find a better chance in that sense. He also quoted the Earl of Chatham in 1770. I think that he quoted him as saying: "When law ends, tyranny begins." But he could have quoted from 1970, let alone from 1770. But this connotation of Ireland, law and order and so on, reminded me of the time at the earlier part of this century when the Tories under Carson were not quite so loud in their praise of law and order as they are now, and when they staged in Ireland the only insurrection in my lifetime against a democratically elected Government. It so happened that the Government, which was threatened by 558 rebellion in Ireland, had for its Home Secretary one Winston Churchill, of whom the noble Lord may have heard. When Winston Churchill, as Home Secretary, replied to a Censure Motion like the one moved by the Tories in the Commons on Monday, his comment was:It sounds more like a Motion of Censure by the criminal classes upon the police".I put it that we are not very far from that point now.
§ 6.57 p.m.
§ Baroness FAITHFULL
My Lords, I am afraid that I cannot aspire to the very accurate information of the noble Lord who has just spoken. In the light of events in our country at the present time, this debate, initiated by the noble Lord, Lord O'Hagan, is timely and appropriate, and in thanking him may I also join with others in congratulating our two maiden speakers. As I understand the intention behind the Motion, the subject is germane to all spheres of public life in every town, in every village, in every neighbourhood and in every family. I propose to move into another sphere. Indeed, I feel that the noble and learned Lord on the Woolsack will condemn me, because I do not propose to touch on delinquents, criminals or anything at all in that sphere. I propose to stray into completely different fields. I propose to confine myself to the sphere of local government and local responsibility, and to attempt to touch on the complexities concerned with the decline in respect for authority and the value of acknowledging and abiding by the law.
I believe that responsibility for local affairs should, as far as is practicable, lie with local people in each area. I recognise that there must, of course, be guidelines laid down by the Government of the day. But where a local authority is failing to provide a service, or is providing less than an adequate service, I believe that it is appropriate for the relevant Ministry to make representations to that local authority. Furthermore, I believe that the local ombudsman is playing an essential and vital role.
The Motion is in two parts. The first concerns authority, which in the Oxford English Dictionary is defined as:Power—the right to force obedience; delegated authority".559 "Law" is defined in the same dictionary as:A body of enacted or customary rules recognised by a community as binding".People concerned in local government—electors, councillors and officers—question how authority is exercised and the law administered, when it is not clear where in a democracy loyalty should lie.
This brings me to the question: What is democracy? It is government by the people, direct or representative. And what is loyalty? It is defined as "true, faithful to duty, love or obligations". A loyal person is one who remains loyal in times of dissatisfaction. When it comes to practical, everyday terms, in local government what does all this involve? Some teachers, for instance, have said that their primary loyalty surely lies to their profession and to the education of children. They say that this takes precedence over their loyalty to the local education authority for which they work. Similarly, some social workers consider that their first loyalty lies to the people in trouble and in need for whom they are responsible, and not to the department or authority of which they are a part. The dilemma of loyalty applies equally to other departments—to the housing, planning and treasurer's departments.
There is a further complexity. Local government officers belong to a trade union, and rightly so. Their loyalty is divided on occasions between their authority and their union and, in some cases, their professional code. The problems of authority have been highlighted in past years because of the lack of resources, causing friction; but they are not basic to the issue. I believe in local government but it will not survive unless the electorate, the councillors and the officers together work out a code of conduct and ethics.
In order that this may be done, may I mention three points. First, the essence of the success of local government lies in people knowing people. The electorate should share the responsibility of local government. It is a cause for great concern, as was mentioned by the noble Lord, Lord Lyell, that only 40 per cent. of the electorate take part in local elections.
Not so very long ago I visited a very well known city in this country, where I 560 found that if one talked to the taxi-cab drivers one could learn much about what is going on in that city. I said to a taxicab driver, "I want to go to the council offices". "Oh", he said, "you mean the Kremlin?" "No", I said, "I don't mean the Kremlin; I mean the council offices. Why the Kremlin?" He answered, "Although we're a democracy and although they have the authority, we don't know what goes on in there and we have no idea what policies they are engendering".
When one speaks about authority and law and order it is important to say that the electorate should be part of democracy. In some areas, once they have been elected, the councillors who represent the electorate do not keep in touch with their electors. Therefore, their local policies tend to be determined by ideologies rather than by the reality of the needs of the electorate at a given point in time. There are councillors who give quite outstanding service; but, sadly, there are others with very little real knowledge of their duties. Often I wonder how much councillors know about what their staff, in all spheres and at all levels, are thinking. If councillors are to administer with authority, subscribe to the law and represent their constituents, they require knowledge and aptitude for such responsibilities.
May I turn to the officers of the council. They have a difficult task. Officers are professionals who are working for lay people, which is good. Officers have the complexity of split loyalty, as was mentioned earlier. If local government is to be effective there should be a partnership between electors, council officers and councillors.
In many local authorities militant action has been taken. Militant action is flamboyant; it is assertive; it is colourful. But does militant action effect a change of heart and imbue knowledge of a subject? I believe that it may have a role to play on a few occasions, but they are very few. In the words of Trollope, "It is dogged as does it".
Persistent dialogue, well-written, cogent reports, patience in discussion and long term persistence may seem like very hard work and may be difficult, but there are those working in local government who are dedicated to their profession. If they 561 feel that they or their work are not understood, surely the best service that they can render to their profession is to work slowly and, as I said, persistently towards effecting a change of heart and giving knowledge to the electorate and the councillors with whom they work. Surely democracy and loyalty are better served in this slow but sure way, when all sectors can be convinced of an appropriate sense of authority and can build up and adhere to a law which is recognised by our community and is binding.
§ 7.7 p.m.
§ Lord AUCKLAND
My Lords, this is not a subject which one debates with any great enthusiasm, to the extent that one wants to gloat over it; but I submit that at the present time it is a subject of major importance. Whether or not we agree with all of his points, we are all grateful to my noble friend Lord O'Hagan for having initiated this debate. I think it will be generally agreed that the fact that both our debate and that in another place are taking place shortly before a by-election in a very marginal seat is purely coincidental.
I speak as the husband of a magistrate who has sat for 16 years on both a juvenile and an ordinary bench, if that is the right word. My wife has also sat, as most magistrates do now, in the Crown Court. One disturbing feature at present is that magistrates as a whole do not get the support of the various means of communication and the other bodies which should be responsible that they deserve. Of course, they may make errors of judgment. So do members of the judiciary as a whole. I am not a lawyer. All of us make errors of judgment from time to time. Nevertheless, if we look at other countries, either in the Commonwealth, or in Europe, or across the Atlantic or elsewhere, I submit that we shall not find a more impartial and fairer judicial system than that which we have in this country.
The same point can be applied to our police force. I would say only this about the police. A very great friend of ours, who is a widow, has a son in the police, and this son has had to play his part in keeping order at a number of demonstrations. He has had a few knocks, but when we saw him recently he was as cheerful 562 and as warm-hearted as anybody can be. I think some of the portraits we have of our police are grossly misjudged.
I should like to follow what my noble friend Lady Macleod said about young people taking an interest in their local organisations, and particularly hospitals. My younger daughter has just started nursing at one of our big teaching hospitals. Some people have said to her, "You have a frightful job, very long hours, very dedicated". But it happens to be the job for which she is very much cut out. I think one of the tragedies here is that at a time when we are short of nurses, let alone staff in other vital spheres, there is not sufficient money available to recruit more staff in many areas. I do not apportion blame here necessarily to any one political Party; this has been a problem over many years.
Two evenings ago I paid a visit to the Old Bailey with the council of the club in the City to which I belong, and talking to the under-sheriff, whom I know very well, some very disturbing figures were quoted. I think I have them accurately. There are currently 1,800 cases awaiting trial, and, if I understood his remarks aright, 1,500 of those are for what I believe the legal profession call offences against the person. I do not want to draw too many conclusions over this, because I do not necessarily think that any Government can reform or alter the ways of certain classes of criminals. But mention has been made of what my right honourable friend the Member for Penrith said two days ago about glasshouses. I have had the experience of having to escort two people in the regiment in which I was serving in Austria just after the war to the glasshouse, at a place called Lienz; this was in 1947. Luckily I only spent about 15 minutes inside, including a meal in the sergeants' mess. It was everything at the double. But I do not think that either my right honourable friend or anybody else meant that, whether one has one place akin to the glasshouse or 20, one should necessarily have all the dreadful things which go on in those places. It should be remembered that my right honourable friend was a distinguished regular soldier himself. I think what he was meaning, and I do not think there can be overmuch quarrel about this, was that there are certain young offenders for whom a short sharp sentence involving a high standard 563 of discipline—not brutality—would not come amiss. Of course, it is better that this comes from the home.
What this debate is all about, as I see it anyway, is, first, where all this trouble starts, and, secondly, what we are going to do about it. The fact that it is taking place is something of which we are all aware. Of course, the number of broken homes is very disturbing, the number of the latchkey children, as they are often called, going to a house, probably a cold house, with no adult to look after them. That, in my submission, can be the first road, so to speak, to going off the rails. I think those who work in our social services do as good a job as they can, but they frequently come up against awkward parents, or even awkward foster parents sometimes, in the discharge of their duties. We must remember that the vast majority, particularly of our young people, in this country are law-abiding citizens. Certainly in the village where I live there is a large membership of the Church; a great many do community work. In the six mental hospitals on the periphery of Epsom a large number of youngsters from the schools go and read to patients and do other work of a very good social order.
But, my Lords, in the last analysis it is the general public who are anxious about the subject which we are debating today. Last night there was a particularly interesting programme on television, which I think was called "MPs rule, O.K.", which rather gave the impression that MPs did nothing but go to sleep in the seats, with their feet on the table if they sit on the Front Bench—nothing of those who serve on Standing Committees and Select Committees and so on. So many people get the view that those in authority, whether in Parliament or in business, the law, the captains of industry, or in the Church, are not setting an example; and they, rightly or wrongly, take the view, "If I am in the Public Gallery and I see my Member sitting with his feet on the table, why should not I go out and do something which is contrary to public order or contrary to public taste?"—a completely wrong view, but a view which is held, in the minds sometimes of responsible people.
What I think we need to do, quite apart, obviously, from getting more re- 564 cruits for the police, is to try to instil in the minds of young people, that if the law is obeyed, it is much more comfortable and comforting than going against it. Every now and again there comes a time when the courts, perhaps with the utmost reluctance, do have to take drastic action; but I do not believe that the terms inherent in this Motion imply that the Party of my right honourable friend the Member for Finchley want to see any more ruthlessness than do any other Party. What they want to see is law and order preserved as I am sure the present Government do. However, the problem is that at present there is a fringe of our population which wants to see all this thrown to the winds, and that must certainly be stopped.
§ 7.21 p.m.
§ Viscount HANWORTH
My Lords, this is a very wide debate and I propose to deal with only three subjects. Indeed, if I adhere to the notes which I have written my speech will take well under 10 minutes. First, we are rightly concerned and justifibly fearful about the possibility of losing our traditional freedoms. Any inroads into those, be it in politics such as, for example, the Government black list of firms exceeding the 10 per cent. pay guide, or overdue changes in our legal system, are seen in this light and are often opposed solely on this ground. I am quite convinced that in this country at any rate, the real danger of loss of freedom lies elsewhere. If we fail to take effective action against those who are undermining our society whether for political motives or simply through lawlessness, we shall find that our freedoms fail. Freedom cannot survive in a lawless society, and that should be our primary consideration.
With the very best intentions, we have greatly increased legal aid and made other idealistic changes in our legal system. As this debate has been rather frank, I point out that during the past few years we have suffered from what I would term "silly, soppy, emotionalist idealists and pseudo-scientists". They have been our danger and they have been, in a way, our undoing. It may well be that in the future the Nationalist Front will be a far greater threat but, at present, those people hide behind the extreme Left of the Socialist Party and one cannot help wondering 565 whether, if that Party is again elected in the next Election, these ideas which do not represent true Socialism and the majority of the Socialist Party will not once again, obtain undue prominence.
Unfortunately these changes—I am talking about the legal system—were engrafted on fundamentally traditional approaches which have needed change to meet a new situation. That has meant that justice is being exploited to a major and not a minimum extent by many who deserve little consideration from our society. All of this has been bravely said by Sir Robert Mark in his Dimbleby Lecture some years ago and far better than I could, even if I took the time in trying to do so. It is nonsense to say that any effort to prevent a miscarriage of justice occurring is worth while. Miscarriages will occur occasionally whatever is done. Like everything else, the legislator must know that perfection is impossible. Almost nothing is black and white. A reasonable compromise is the best that we can hope for.
Bearing in mind that the brief extracts of a speech reported in the media can wholly misinterpret one's views, I would hasten to say that I am not in favour—I repeat not in favour—of more swingeing sentences or of introducing birching or necessarily capital punishment. I am in favour of considering the basic causes of crime and in trying to help those who may be brought back to being useful members of our society and there are very few people, if anyone, who would not agree with those sentiments.
I am, however, if need be, in favour of increasing at this time police powers, albeit with surveillance, but not with lengthy appeal procedures. We can see where appeal procedures lead in America. I think that the ethics of defending barristers and solicitors in putting forward any defence, and in wasting court time in nothing more than histrionics or irrelevant legal argument, needs examination and a rethink of their role with professional sanctions where they fail to carry it out in the terms that I have suggested.
Secondly, on the 29th June, as some of your Lordships may remember, I spoke about alternatives to prison sentences, especially for younger and even, in certain cases, first offenders. I advocated "social 566 work camps" for those who would benefit by a short sentence which was analagous—I hesitate to say it after the remarks that have been made tonight—to army detention, but with the possibility in the evenings of some rehabilitation and social therapy. They could well be directed on worthwhile social projects such as forestry, rehabilitation of industrial wasteland and the waterways. This I regard as filling a gap between community service, which needs very careful supervision, and prison, with all the problems which are present, including over-population.
I noticed that in another place this point has been put forward. I very much hope that it will be seriously considered without perhaps attaching to it the stigma of detention and short, sharp sentences. I base the case largely on the gap which exists between social service and prison. I am not the only person to put forward this suggestion. It has been operating in Sweden for a long time which, to those on the Left, ought to make it respectable. I corresponded with the Ministry and the Ministry raised certain objections, but none of them is insuperable if it were decided that such a proposal was desirable. I hope that perhaps the Ministry and those who are interested will again read the speech that I made on the subject, because I do not intend tonight to deploy it in further detail.
The third point that I should like to make concerns terrorism. This subject was mentioned earlier. Whether we like it or not, we must face the fact of terrorism, hijacking and abduction of persons with rather more vigour than certainly we have done in the past and possibly even today. Life is not safe; I think one has to accept that, even if you take the view that what matters is only the preservation of human life. We would have saved far more human lives had we been tougher at the start. If you take the other point of view, taking the world as a whole life is not safe. There are 15 million people suffering from leprosy, one quarter of the world is suffering from starvation, yet here we talk about a few lives in jeopardy by taking effective action on a hijack. It would stop if we did.
There is the other long-term point of view, that sooner or later, whether or not we go for the nuclear programme, we will be faced with a nuclear threat; and what 567 are we going to do about it when the apparent threat is to 5,000 lives? Maybe it will not be a real threat. Almost certainly this is a vast exaggeration. But unless we get a little tougher and a little less worried about our own skins, I hold little hope for the future of our democratic society.
§ 7.31 p.m.
My Lords, we are indebted to my noble friend Lord O'Hagan for having introduced this Motion today and certainly its terms have provided noble Lords with a broad canvas on which to air views on a wide variety of subjects. At this comparatively late hour, and rising nineteenth in the debate, I find that much of what I might have said has already been covered. Therefore, I shall try as far as I can not to be repetitive. A very sombre note has been struck. I for one share the concern, the alarm, of noble Lords who have discussed and drawn attention to the trends in our society today.
Perhaps appropriately, as I am the father of teenagers, one of whom will shortly be officially an adult, it is the problems of the young and of young adults and their current behaviour to which I should like to make particular reference at this point in my speech. Not for a moment do I wish to give the impression that I do not realise that a great deal of good is done by many very sensible and practical young people. What I have to say is no reflection upon them. But it is without question a phenomenon of our life today in this country, and in other countries overseas, that there is a great increase not only in hooliganism but in the violent and criminal activities of the younger generation.
We are all products of environment, and I suppose our moral environment is to a large extent conditioned by the example that is set. This question of example has been touched on by many speakers today. There are bad examples about which we can perhaps do very little; there are certain bad examples about which we can probably do nothing, but there are others about which I think perhaps we could do more. We could do something about the attacks upon the Judiciary, upon the Bench, whether they 568 have arisen as a matter of political pique at a particular moment or whether they are deliberate and considered attacks. About the apparent condoning of the use of violence in pursuit of sectarian or political or industrial objectives, we could, perhaps by the application of a self-denying ordinance, do a great deal.
There are other things which are obviously examples, which one could perhaps term international examples. Today, by courtesy of modern communications such as television, we are all, young and old alike, only too well aware of the violent subversive, terrorist actions overseas and of the misconduct or dubious conduct of eminent people in other countries. Can we do anything here? Perhaps we can do very little, but, to my mind, when the Government of the day—those who are in authority—are considering their attitudes and their reactions to hijackings, and are deciding what degree of recognition should be given to organisations which, all too often, are only a front for terrorist violent activities, I think consideration should be given not merely to the foreign affairs aspect but to the effect that apparent reluctance to be positive, even unilaterally, has on the climate of opinion in our country.
Before I turn from this matter of example, I should like to quote from a Press report which caught my eye a couple of days ago. The report referred to a lunch-time sermon that was given by the chief constable of Greater Manchester. In it, he is reported as having said:Complacency is driving good people to despair, and encouraging the lawless and subversive beyond their wildest dreams.Later he is quoted as saying:Most people take their cue from what they see going on above them. The road to reformation of the character of any organisation starts in the office of the man at the top.I think that can be applied to all the institutions in our national life.
Before I leave the question of the young and the young adults who have featured so much in today's debate, and following on some remarks of my noble friend Lord Lyell, I should like to turn to the question of alcohol in crime. In doing so, I should like to quote from the 1976 report of Her Majesty's Chief Inspector of Constabulary for Scotland. We have had quotations from two English reports 569 this afternoon and, I think, from a Scottish one also, but, since I live in Strathclyde, which has nearly 50 per cent. of the Scottish population and over 60 per cent. of its crime, it is perhaps appropriate that I should turn to this volume to see what is being said—and I assure noble Lords that the fact that Her Majesty's Chief Inspector of Constabulary for Scotland rejoices in the name of David Gray has no influence upon my judgment. On page 36, paragraph 104, he writes:The most obvious example of the precipitating factors in crime in Scotland today is alcohol.Later in the same paragraph he goes on:We may not yet know the exact nature of its relationship, and contribution, to crime. It is far too often pled in the courts as an excuse by those whose drinking is just another symptom of their anti-social and irresponsible character rather than the "cause" of their crime.Later, however, he makes this observation:But in numerous cases the experienced police officer investigating the circumstances can make the judgment that crime, serious or less serious, would never have occurred but for the intoxication of offender or victim or both.In the following paragraph, he says—and this point follows on from what my noble friend Lord Lyell said and also has relevence to what I have been saying about young persons:I am very much concerned with increased drinking by the young, who are less able to withstand its effects. In some quarters "getting drunk" seems normal and admired behaviour for teenagers and appears to be an important element in many breaches of the peace, assaults and acts of hooliganism and vandalism.I apologise for the length of those quotations, but they bring me to my next point. Although during the passage in the summer before last of the reforming Act on licensing in Scotland we were able to introduce into the Bill some measure of additional control over what happened at off-licences, and although there are campaigns and publicity to discourage and to bring to the attention of the young the dangers of alcohol, I cannot too strongly urge upon Her Majesty's Government the need for their continuing and increased support in the field of education and assistance in this matter.
Before I close I should like to turn to the police forces of our islands. Echoing what other noble Lords have said, I should like in particular to say how strongly I share the view about the need 570 to review—with the possibility of increasing them—the establishments of our police forces as suggested by the noble and learned Lord, Lord Gardiner, and which equates with statements made by my right honourable friends at the other end of the corridor. We have heard statistics on manning and success quoted this afternoon and, as they are most usually referred to in percentages of crimes cleared up when we are considering police success, it is perhaps not a had thing to look behind these figures and to recognise that they really mean that there is a very large number—larger than the figures actually produced by breaking down these statistics—of people who have been the victims of crimes, vandalism, hooliganism, and so on, who feel that because the police have been unsuccessful, they have been let down. Likewise, this creates many frustrated police when they are unable to assist. Very often it is because of the lack of an adequate number of policemen actually on the beat that these crimes are not cleared up.
When we come to look at the statistics for the number of vacancies in a particular force, I recommend noble Lords and others who may be interested to look at the numbers that are available for normal duties. That is the significant figure, because I have been talking about the ordinary duties, not major crime work. Obviously, increasing police strength involves a great deal of money, of which mention has been made today. There are a number of ways in which we could release men in advance of any decision that some future Government may take to increase establishments all round. There could be the re-employment in certain categories—in certain duties—of retired police officers; there could be the rebuilding of the Special Constabulary where this has fallen in numbers.
Perhaps we should look again at the success that the police are having in graduate recruiting. We ought perhaps to look again at the ways in which—and here there is a great deal of activity—we approach the schools, colleges and young people. The noble and learned Lord, Lord Gardiner, referred to his first speech in a Wednesday debate on a similar subject, although I do not think that it was his maiden speech. He referred to research that he had done then. Perhaps 571 I could take that as an excuse for quoting from my own maiden speech, which was in a similar debate some years later. I then quoted from a critical essay by Lord Macaulay. The quotation was as follows:We consider the primary end of Government as a purely temporal end, the protection of the persons and property of men.I also quoted his words in an illustration of this point:… and that no part of its efficiency for that end should be sacrificed in order to promote any other end however excellent".—[Official Report, 18/2/70; col. 1207.]That may be something which we would find very hard to swallow today. But if we were spending thousands of millions of pounds on creating, we hope, a caring society—a society of greater social equality—by perhaps understaffing our police and not giving them the pay and conditions which their job warrants, are we not putting at risk all this other work that we have been doing? I, personally, look forward to the day when some Government in the future have the courage to remove the Police Service once and for all from the usual round of pay negotiations.
§ 7.48 p.m.
§ Lord WESTBURY
My Lords, I know that tonight I shall almost get a medal because I guarantee that I shall make the shortest speech that has so far been made.
This debate, which was introduced by my noble friend Lord O'Hagan, has come at a very relevant time. Last week a ban was enforced on the Ilford march of the National Front and on all other marches for two months, for the very good reason that the Home Secretary, in conjunction with Sir David McNee, decided—and I think quite rightly—that the police would not be able to contain the march in a peaceful way and that bloodshed and violence would break out. This would mean that peaceful citizens and their property would be in danger. As it happened, about 5,000 policemen were drafted into the area although a ban on the march had been ordered. The result was that the march went off fairly peacefully.
Although I agree with this action being right in the circumstances, it proves that the police are not able to deal with this 572 kind of situation without an immense disruption of normal police duties and vast expense. Will this happen every time that there is a threatened march?—because surely every intended march, however small, will have to be treated in the same way. I do not believe that the police can stand so much extra work and strain on their manpower.
I believe that the noble Lord, Lord Lee of Newton, may be correct in his statistics, but he is not quite correct about which section of the police force is leaving. It is the middle block of policemen who are leaving. Recruits are coming in, but it is the trained policemen who are going because the conditions are so bad. I believe that really strong and effective laws must be made and enforced on anyone who violates them.
Our policemen have never been armed, and that is their strength as long as the law upholds them. But hooligans are let off with small fines, having assaulted with intent to do bodily harm, or even kill, when they should be severely dealt with. Vandals are already defying the laws and getting away with it in the United Kingdom. This situation is becoming intolerable. I must make it clear that I am in full support of the police, but understand fully their unbearable situation, in that they are grossly underpaid and undermanned.
This brings me to the Armed Forces, and especially the Army. As we know, they have two major roles to perform. First, honouring our NATO commitment and defending us from aggression; secondly, keeping the peace in Ulster, which they have done very successfully for the past eight years. I believe that unless we are very careful Ulster will only be the beginning if things are allowed to deteriorate any more. We have already had a sharp warning with mob violence in Lewisham, bombings, kidnappings, and soccer hooliganism.
Her Majesty's Government must act now or be responsible for a complete breakdown of authority and the triumph of anarchy. This can be done by improving the pay structure of the police and the Armed Forces. This will, in its turn, stop the drain of good young men leaving and improve recruitment, and will create a deterrent to violence no hooligan will 573 dare to challenge. It will also give our men in the police and Armed Forces a pride in their jobs and a knowledge that they are capable of carrying out properly whatever job they are asked to do. We have the best policemen and soldiers in the world. Why disintegrate such a fine national asset?
Improve their conditions, and all of us will be able to go about our business, walk in the streets without fear of being mugged or our property being vandalised. I pray that Her Majesty's Government will grasp this very stingy nettle now, before it is too late. I should like to summarise what I really want: better pay for the police and the Armed Forces; stronger penalties by the law against hooliganism and violence; and Government help financially for voluntary associations that help youth.
§ 7.53 p.m.
§ Lord DORMER
My Lords, in view of the lateness of the hour, I shall be as brief as possible, like my noble friend Lord Westbury. I should like at the outset to congratulate the noble Lord, Lord O'Hagan, on introducing this debate. Next to defence of this realm this is the most important subject to be debated in your Lordships' House. Great concern is felt in all areas, and in all sections of our society, at the lawlessness that exists at present. A marked deterioration has taken place in the last 10 years. A very real fear of armed robbery is prevalent in large cities, vandalism is rife, housebreaking is common, and abduction and murder occur regularly.
Inevitably in these cases one must turn to the police, as has so often and so wisely been said this evening; and it must be a cause for concern that police resignations have been on the scale that has occurred. In 1975 there were 2,701 resignations in England and Wales; in 1976 there were 3,827, and in 1977 there were 5,163. The remedy for this is, of course, as has so often been said tonight by other noble Lords, greatly to increase the pay, and to increase it to a point where it attracts the best young men in the country rather than that they should go into industry.
I should like to put forward a special suggestion, that the police service career 574 be restructured so as to attract the best boys from our public schools. It has truly been said that there are better brains in the criminal classes than in the police. This, as I am sure all noble Lords will agree, is entirely wrong. The best of our young men should be offered a worthwhile career in the police force, which should be equal in pay and status to that of the Armed Services. These young men could then go on and become the senior officers of the future.
May I turn again to the rather more gloomy side. In 1976 there were 30,000 indictable crimes over the 1975 total. In 10 years the number of persons brought before the superior criminal courts has more than doubled. The figures for 1977 have not yet been published, but it appears that a further very substantial increase is envisaged. When one has looked recently at the local paper in Acton one has found headlines such as "Death in the Park"; "Home raided"; "TV Row ends in Stabbing"; "Lunchtime killing"; "Paranoid Albanian who took gun to work". These are not the work of a paranoid reporter; these are facts.
Remedies for this situation in the short term, I believe, are a far larger and better paid police force of greatly increased morale, and an increased number of special constables, particularly in the rural areas where, with their own specialised knowledge, they can perform most valuable work. I consider that preventive detention measures as envisaged by my right honourable friend in another place, Mr. William Whitelaw, should be encouraged and tried. They may not perhaps in all cases be successful, but they probably would in many.
I believe myself to be a humane person, as I believe is everybody else in your Lordships' House. But I believe that in certain cases of armed robbery the birch could be tried as an experiment. We have before us the example and the experience of the Isle of Man, where it is still in use; but, as has recently been disclosed by the superintendent there, it is extremely rare, and those who receive it do not come back for a second dose. I am not advocating inhumanity of any kind, but I believe that fact might well be noted.
Society of itself must face up to its responsibilities in this matter of law and order. In two areas especially is this very 575 apparent. One is discipline, and the other is responsibility. Discipline in the schools should be greatly increased. This is the desire of parents as well as of teachers. The other is that responsibility should be restored to parents. At present we are removing it from them. Parents should be made aware of their responsibilities to their children and, in suitable cases, mothers should be allowed to leave their place of work at 4 p.m. to provide the essential home care at that very important hour when the children return from school.
That concludes, I am glad to say, the gloomy side of this speech. There is a far happier side. One has only to look at the Services to see what discipline, interests, and opportunites for self-development can produce in the young people of today. I have been enormously struck in my visits to the Services by the obvious well-being and happiness of the young men and women in them, and in the same way their more senior members found in the Services a life of fulfilment and happiness.
There is, I believe, a lesson for society here. I should like to reiterate the remarks of the noble Baroness, Lady Macleod, that there is a real need for occupations such as community service in visiting the old and infirm, performing some tasks for them, and in cultural visits to art galleries, perhaps at home as well as abroad, to broaden the mind, un-isolate them from themselves, and perhaps to inculcate in them the idea that Britain is not so bad a place to live in after all and that they are indeed privileged to be citizens of it.
I believe the young people of today, properly led and with full opportunities for the development of talent and character, are every bit as fine as their forefathers and will be worthy citizens of tomorrow if they are given the leadership and the chance. It is up to the Government to provide the recreational facilities and courses in schools as well as the playing fields, and to abolish the slums and the less attractive communities which contribute so much to boredom and discontent. Society must of itself face up to the challenge of respect for authority and the law and must of itself, with the help of the Government, change the order 576 of society to provide the peace and wellbeing in our society which it so richly deserves.
§ 8.1 p.m.
Viscount COLVILLE of CULROSS
My Lords, it is clear from this debate that it is no issue of Party politics to be concerned to see that society in this country operates under the rule of law. There have been some very thoughtful speeches and among those which I know the House particularly enjoyed were the two maiden speeches of my noble friend Lord Kinross and the noble Marquess, Lord Tweeddale. My noble friend Lord Lyell is an expert on football crowds, as is my noble friend Lady Faithfull on the world of the local authorities. The noble Lord, Lord Lee of Newton, reminded us that even Wednesdays are still political days in this debating House of Parliament. I can only congratulate the noble Lord on having so accurately rehearsed the figures given by both Government Ministers in the debate on Monday and I hope that in the process he has not taken all the Lord Chancellor's best points.
§ Lord LEE of NEWTON
My Lords, would the noble Viscount not agree that it was rather strange that not a single one of them came from the Opposition side?
Viscount COLVILLE of CULROSS
Very few of the Government's figures ever come from the Opposition, my Lords. What I will do is to accept the invitation of the right honourable gentleman the Home Secretary to seek to analyse the complicated problem we have before us, the problem of lawlessness, and I will also seek to consider what your Lordships have been doing all afternoon; namely, the behaviour and attitudes which we hope the public may be induced and persuaded to uphold for themselves and to insist on in others.
There are very many factors indeed, and I can deal with only a comparatively small number of them in the course of this debate, but certainly when I was considering the question of lawlessness, the first thing that came into my mind—and I am glad here to be at one with the noble and learned Lord, Lord Gardiner—was the question of the chance of the criminal being caught. That part of my speech was made for me by Lord Gardiner a 577 great deal better than I ever could, and I therefore need only say that his remarks expressed exactly what I think is the view of noble Lords on all sides on the subject.
But of course offenders will be caught only if the police are in strength and properly experienced. My noble friend Lord O'Hagan asked a specific question of the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor about police retirement, and it is on this as much as anything else that those on these Benches are a little perturbed. Whereas the figures can be made to look reasonably prepossessing, what I think has never been disclosed is the extent to which experienced police officers are retiring. Not only are they retiring in the middle of their service but I have a suspicion—I do not know whether any information can be given about this—that nowadays officers tend to retire at the very first moment they can do so, taking with them their full pension. Therefore, when officers are in their early forties we are losing the most experienced men in the police force who in previous years would have stayed on rather longer to aid the police with all that they have learned previously. It is really about that that I should like the Government to give some extra information because if they are not concerned about that, they should he. As has been made clear in this debate, it is not just a matter of pay; it is the sort of life policemen have to lead and the sort of conditions they are forced to endure, a subject to which I shall return later.
If the offender is caught, he must also be punished and a great deal has been said about that by many noble Lords today. I want to make only one point and it arose out of the debate on Monday in another place; it is about the Children and Young Persons Act. The Home Secretary gave some figures—and I am glad to see them—about the secure places that are now being built or are planned for future years. The difficulty about it is that until now we never had them and the criticism all over the country, certainly from the magistrates, is that the 1969 Act should never have been introduced until some secure places were available, and it is the absence of those during the whole of the time since that was put on the Statute Book that has been the trouble. Now I hope we will be able to put it 578 right, but we will have to consider carefully whether or not the magistrates themselves should have some say, or perhaps even the main say, in choosing which of the young offenders go to those secure places. That matter has not been resolved and it is one we shall have to think about carefully.
The next point that has a real bearing on this is the question whether people can be certain of what is the law. Lord Gardiner and others talked about the vast mass of our legislation and particularly the great volumes of subordinate legislation which nobody can possibly absorb, and I agree with that; it makes the citizen's life to keep within the law extremely difficult. This is not meant to be a Party polemic point, but I thought that the Grunwick affair illustrated this particularly well, too. First of all, there has for a long time—I think it is now the subject of legislation in another place—been a great dilemma about whether or not discriminatory refusal to deliver the mail was indeed an offence at all under the Post Office Act. If I have any criticism of the Government and perhaps of the Attorney-General, it is that it took them a very long time to state finally what were their views and that, during that period of uncertainty, which lasted from about August 1976 to June 1977, when the Attorney-General finally made a pronouncement about this, nothing was being done. It is not surprising the Attorney-General did not act, because he was not sure about the law, and in such circumstances we get the spectacle of the private citizen frustrated by inaction coming in, wrongly, as we now discover, but it is that sort of uncertainty that is undermining confidence in the law.
One other aspect of that dispute which puzzles me is that in the Trade Union and Labour Relations Act 1974 there is a provision in Section 15 which permits peaceful picketing. I have no objection to that; I think it entirely proper that it should be on the Statute Book. But is it supposed to encompass what happened at Grunwick or is it not? I should not have thought that the activities of some of the more violent participants in the picket lines at Grunwick could possibly have come within Section 15. Those are the sort of things which, on account of uncertainty, lead to very grave disrepute 579 in the world of legislation and the law, because people think that the matter is clear yet they find others acting in a way which does not seem to make any sort of sense and does not in any way correspond with the legislation on the Statute Book. So that is another area which we should bear in mind.
Lord O'Hagan talked about setting an example. If we in Parliament are, as we are so often told, held in disrepute, it may well be that this disrepute—this contamination—spreads like an infection to the legislation we pass. I do not think that it is illegitimate for me to criticise noble Lords opposite in this debate, but I do it for a very particular reason. I have found—I have been looking these up, so I am accurate—three major occasions over the period of the last two Labour Governments when I was personally outraged by what I thought was a flouting of the law of the land or of the law of Parliament. It is a personal matter, and I do not think I was alone in feeling outraged; but I will remind the House what the three occasions were.
There was the occasion of the Parliamentary boundaries in 1969. Reports had been received from the Boundary Commissioners, and the law of the land required the Home Secretary to lay those reports before Parliament as well as draft orders implementing their recommendations, either in whole or in part. There was no provision in the law of the land for the Home Secretary to disregard and shelve those reports. But the Home Secretary—he is now the right honourable gentleman the Prime Minister—did not wish to implement those reports. Very properly, he came before Parliament and he promoted a Bill, which passed through both Houses, which would have enabled the Government not to implement the reports after all. But the Bill failed; it never got on to the Statute Book. What did the Home Secretary do? In the following Session he laid the orders, as he was still by then bound in law to do, but he moved a Motion in the other place—and it was whipped through—inviting the House to reject them. That, I suppose, is proper Parliamentary tactics, but I thought it was an outrage against the law of the land.
Then, there is the question of Clay Cross. I am not going to be wholesale 580 about this. I have only one very narrow point about Clay Cross which I consider to be an outrage, and it is this. Some of the Clay Cross councillors had, at the time of the passage of the Bill, already been surcharged for their disregard of the Housing Finance Act; the surcharge had been quantified, and they had been disqualified from office. They had been disqualified from office by the courts because of the requirements of the Local Government Act. One provision in the Housing Finance (Special Provisions) Act which was then passed by the Labour Government cancelled the disqualification imposed by the courts under the law for those specific councillors. I thought that was an outrage. I also thought that it was very foolish, because it did not achieve anything since they were also going to be disqualified for other surcharges that were coming up, and therefore it was a nugatory thing in any event. But I thought it flouted the law—not only the law of the land in the external sense but the law of Parliament.
Your Lordships will remember only too well the Aircraft and Shipbuilding Industries Act. When that legislation started its passage through another place on the second occasion, the Examiners in that House, having listened to what was said in this House when the first Bill was going through, looked at it again and said that it required to be examined in case it was hybrid. The Leader of another place put down a Motion to discharge that order and to treat the Bill as a public Bill, and that Motion was whipped through. The provision for Examiners to look at a Bill to see whether it is hybrid is not there just to be tiresome; it is there to protect individuals. When the Bill came to this House, fortunately your Lordships were sufficiently courageous to see that it did go to the Examiners, who said that, after all, it was hybrid. The result, of course, was that that part was lost to the Government.
I pick those three occasions out and I say this to noble Lords opposite, or to noble Lords in any Party: that if they wish to pick out similar, narrow points where my Party has infringed or run contrary to the express law of the land, let them do so (though I would say, please not this evening, because I must get through my speech, but on another occasion) and I will 581 listen to them, I will learn from them and I am sure that those behind me will do the same, provided that they will confine themselves to precise issues of that sort; because I believe that we should all learn from these things and see whether we can improve our own standards.
If we in Parliament decline from the proprieties and from the strict rules of law, is it any wonder that citizens outside, hearing about this, tend to suffer a decline in their own personal responsibility, and, in so doing, tend to rely more upon the increase of group power over individual responsibility, the increase of group defiance of the law and the increase of group selfishness regardless of its effect upon anybody else? I think the noble Lord, Lord Wigoder, although I know he has had to go, would probably agree about this. When I talk about groups, I am not thinking, any more than did the noble Lord, Lord Lloyd of Hampstead, about only trade unions. This happens all over the place, and I shall give another example a little later on.
The fourth point that occurred to me, which I am sure is an element in this tide of lawlessness, is the citizen's inability to influence events. I am not going to go into the question of vandalism in inner cities—I made a speech on this the other day—but I genuinely believe that the inability to influence your massive environment in a city can lead to a sense of frustration which vents itself in lawlessness. It is because you cannot get at the people who matter, at the people who control it, and there is no way of doing anything about it, that people have recourse to these things. But I do not want to talk about that this evening; I want to talk about another inability to influence events—and that, I think, is very well illustrated by what happened at Ilford last Saturday.
There is no question that the exercise last Saturday was a success, and I wish to join with those who have congratulated the police (and, indeed, as far as that goes, the right honourable gentleman the Home Secretary for having the courage to agree to it) for a proper and successful decision. Nevertheless, I think that we should all be very careful before we allow there to be imposed bans on marches. This should be done with the greatest possible reluctance; and only if there is no way of, 582 for instance, re-routing the marchers, or something like that, should we go in for that kind of thing.
Talking in terms of the inability of the ordinary citizen to do anything, about it, I should like to read to your Lordships what the Police Federation said after their battles with the pickets on the Grunwick occasion. It requires only the substitution of the necessary terms in order to apply directly, I think, to Ilford.
This is what they said:The police are not concerned with the issues giving rise to this dispute. It is their simple duty to uphold the law. The police must remember at all times that both sides have rights under the law. Just as free citizens have a right to go on strike and to picket in a peaceful manner, so have other free citizens the right not to strike, to refuse to be persuaded and an inalienable right to go to work.Along with citizens' rights go citizens' responsibilities. A citizen who takes advantage of the right to picket or to take part in a demonstration, has a responsibility to ensure that his conduct does not deprive other citizens of their rights. He must obey the law. The same applies to organisations which take part in disputes and demonstrations. They have a special responsibility not to create situations in which maintenance of the rule of law becomes impossible.Amongst the crowds outside Grunwick on most days there have been elements who have no respect for law, nor any obvious connection with the dispute. Such people have a vested interest in violence and confrontation with the police. They cannot be controlled by officials of the trade unions concerned in the dispute. They can and must be controlled by the police.The same goes, with changes of terminology, for demonstrations such as that which happened at Ilford.
It is no use, therefore, if I may respectfully say so, the Home Secretary saying, after his famous, "Watch it!":At the end of the day the mass of people will decide that there will be peace on the streets, and people of that nature" —that is to say, the rowdies—will not determine what will happen [Official Report, Commons, 27/2/78; col. 62.]I am afraid that, unless we are talking about vigilante groups—and I am sure that the Home Secretary was not—the people of the part of the world where the demonstration is going on are quite unable to exert any influence upon the matter. They are powerless, and we are therefore able only to depend upon the police to protect them, in the way that the Police Federation themselves explained their duty to act.
583 When considering whether or not there should be a ban on a march as there was at Ilford, I should like to add one thing which has not been mentioned by anybody else. I do not know whether or not it is relevant, and I leave it to your Lordships to decide. A Party like the National Front—and I should think that the Socialist Workers' Party is probably the same—is a comparatively small one and, in terms of radio and television time at an Election, they would get very little airspace, if any at all, to explain their views to the public. They have, however, discovered that the most magnificent opportunity for publicity is available to them for nothing. All that they have to do is to organise marches and the mere fact that they are there and that they are who they are automatically stirs up the opposite faction to create the most appalling row and they are given publicity in newspapers, radio and television for days before, during and after.
Why do people fall into that trap? Why do the Socialist Workers play into the hands of the National Front by insisting on provoking them and giving them this publicity? I do not understand it—especially as the Socialist Workers do not seem to me to be all that intent to keep within the law themselves.
§ Lord STONE
My Lords, from an opposite point of view would it not be the case that if no one took them up, if there was not a row they will get equal and better publicity from the march itself?
Viscount COLVILLE of CULROSS
My Lords, this will always be a matter of judgment. I should have thought that if they did it on a Saturday afternoon there would be practically nobody who would bother to go out to see them and they certainly would not know what the particular issues were. It is only a point that I put forward. I think they would do much better out of having a demonstration which causes a counter attack by the opposite faction. At any rate, I say that; but it is a serious point because we must consider, if we are going to continue to ban these demonstrations for the sake of the local populace, where it will lead.
As two noble Lords have said, about a quarter of the total Metropolitan force on duty last weekend were at Ilford. The result of that has been explained by my 584 noble friend Lord Inglewood as to the effect elsewhere. In the five years ending 31st December last, there were in London 2,185 events which come within the public order category and which required special police arrangements. I hasten to say that by no means all of those were on the same scale as Ilford; but that is the number. I am with my noble friend Lord Westbury in wishing to know what plans the Government have if we have this kind of thing happening in a General Election. I know that it will be said that the numbers are few and therefore it will not be widespread on any one night. I can imagine the results on the police of having to deal with this night after night after night over the period of an Election campaign. I believe that we should be sure that we have contingency plans to deal with that sort of thing, too.
Those were two cases where I think we have the inability of the public in rather different settings. There is one other thing I would like to say and that is where I believe there is a genuine misunderstanding which is bringing the law into dispute. It was a point raised by the noble Lord, Lord Lloyd of Hampstead, about the disruption of public inquiries. It happens as always that there is an expert on something in this House. I have been at one public inquiry where there were disruptions and I have advised the disrupters on another; so that I know a little about it. The situation is, I think, this. I cannot go on long about it.
People in small local areas are being asked to suffer for years and years, or perhaps for ever, a major disruption in terms of projects such as motorways or opencast mining which are in the national interest very much more than they can be seen to be in the local interest. These people are nowadays much more articulate. They know that individually they cannot oppose it; indeed, that is why they say, in terms, they disrupt. They band together, as they see others do, to try to stop the processes of law.
But I think a lot of them suffer from a major misunderstanding. I do not think that they understand that it is a process of law at all. I think they believe it is a public meeting and that it is going to be the result of a democratic vote, of how many people in the room can persuade the inspector (who is always called the chairman) to agree or not to agree to the 585 project. They do not understand that it is a quasi-judicial process which is going through and that this is the only way in which you can reach the sort of decision which these inquiries are set up to achieve. I believe that we might do a certain amount by way of educating the public about this to the effect that there is no use their disrupting these inquiries because they will have to be held in the end and it merely is a waste of everybody's time and money without achieving anything.
But, again, if people are to accept that those Ministerial decisions when given are going to be fair, they must be able to trust Ministers and—as they know it is often done by the civil servants—they must be able to trust the civil servants also to be well advised. I must tell the House that the cynicism about this at the moment is very extensive. I end very much in agreement with my noble friend Lord O'Hagan but, I am afraid, rather late. For 5½ hours now we have been talking, really, about standards. As our contribution at Westminster, I am going to make some suggestions. I agree with my noble friend Lord Morris and others that we are not the only body that sets standards and promotes authority in this country. But we can do what we can; and I suggest that we should. We should, as the noble Lord, Lord Gray, said, watch our own standards in Parliament on the sort of points I have been making. We should not make it impossible to know what the law is or to obscure it by ill-drafting. Let us try to see that the rights referred to by the noble Earl, Lord Longford, and by the noble Lord, Lord Hunt, on which the individuals in our society now insist are matched by their realisation that they have concomitant rights and duties. I agree with the two noble Lords on that.
And I would say that we will do this most successfully—and I agree with my noble friend Lady Macleod on this part of her speech—by enabling individuals themselves to be able to take their own decisions, to have their opportunities for progress, their opportunities for success and their opportunities for prosperity, without the endless interpretation by local and central Government except at the absolutely minimum possible level and without recourse to pressures of mobs either for them or against them. In the context of this debate, if they are to be 586 allowed to do that in security when they go about their own affairs in this way, let us see, above all, that Government does ensure protection for that vast majority of the good and honest against the intentions of the incorrigible and wicked and that those incorrigible and wicked are detected and convicted when they act against the law. I would suggest that those are ways in which we can do something to restore the primacy of the law and a respect for authority.
§ 8.28 p.m.
§ The LORD CHANCELLOR
My Lords, nobody who has listened to the long and interesting debate that we have had today and who has studied the report of Monday's debate in another place can have any doubt about the genuineness of the concern that is felt both by the Government and the Opposition spokesmen and by supporters of all Parties and of none at the increasing volume of crime in our society, or about the anxiety that we should do whatever we can to contain that increase and to enhance respect for the law in the community and for the agents who have to enforce it. Inevitably, the debate that we have had has, with this large number of speeches, covered a large wide range indeed. Many points of interest have been raised in the speeches, notably by the noble Lord, Lord Kinross, and the noble Marquess, Lord Tweeddale, in their valuable maiden speeches.
I would be tempted to take up the challenge that has just been cast down by the noble Viscount, Lord Colville of Culross, to examine some of the historical and well-known infringements of the rule of law of the Tory Party in office. I have little doubt that it will more than compensate for those historical reminders, from Clay Cross onwards, that he has so attractively taken up at this late hour. But I shall resist the challenge tonight and look forward to another opportunity of taking it up. Furthermore, I hope that he will forgive me if I do not follow him in his important discussion of the problems raised by picketing, mass demonstrations and other matters which present serious problems for the future, as he has said, particularly at Election times.
It seems to me that four main themes dominated the discussion. I hope I shall be permitted to address myself to those. The first was the concern that we have 587 all felt—and the noble Baroness, Lady Macleod of Borve, emphasised this—at the sheer extent of crime today, particularly crimes of violence, burglary and wilful damage, which is disclosed in the statistics of recent years. Though this increase tends to be exaggerated, as the noble Lord, Lord Wigoder, said, it is nevertheless serious and of course the Government take it seriously. Secondly, there is the importance of eliminating, so far as we can the social conditions which lead to crime and criminal habits and therefore to disrespect for the law and authority generally. Thirdly, there is the desirability of ensuring that the law enforcement agencies, particularly the police, are kept up to strength, that their standing in the community is enhanced and that they have the resources that they need to discharge their difficult and responsible task. Fourthly, there is the desirability of ensuring that those who, at the end of the road, have to deal with convicted criminals, have the necessary powers to do what ought to be done.
I put these themes in that order because, when we are faced with the problem of crime, we are not looking merely at the questions of how criminals are caught and prosecuted, and what is done with them, having done so; we also have to look at the more fundamental problems of why they commit crimes at all. I appreciate that, in this debate, it has been the position of the law enforcement agencies that has been mainly in the minds of speakers. It may be desirable to look for a moment at the more fundamental problem. We cannot of course ignore the extent of crime, and it is, as my noble and learned friend Lord Gardiner said, a matter of serious concern. This is so, not least because it is a real, practical threat to those—and, as more than one noble Lord has said, they comprise the vast majority of our people—who want only to feel free and safe in going about their ordinary, lawful business. They are of particular concern to those—and this includes especially the Home Secretary and myself—who have a large measure of responsibility for the agencies which have to deal with crime, and my own concern raises matters to which I shall return later.
There is of course no room for complacency here. On the other hand, there is no room for panic. Crime is not something that has suddenly happened. 588 It has always been with us and covers a very wide range of anti-social conduct. I remember that when I was in another place the cry at the end of the day was, "Who goes home?" That came from the days when it was unsafe for Members to leave the place alone in case they were beset by footpads. Perhaps they are more respected these days or there may be fewer footpads: who knows, my Lords? That it has a history is of course apparent.
The more complex society becomes, the more complex its laws also become. Therefore, the wider is the range of conduct which falls within the ambit of the criminal law. As has been said more than once, the increase in crime that we have seen in this country over the past two decades is not something peculiar to our own society. It is a feature of all highly developed societies and of many not so highly developed as our own. I was relieved during the remarkable opening speech of the noble Lord, Lord O'Hagan, that at least he did not blame the Labour Government for all the crimes of western Europe, for which relief I say to the noble Lord, "Thank you very much, most kind". I thought that speech was dealt with in most devastating fashion, if he will permit me to say so, by my noble friend Lord Lee of Newton. It was good to see him in action as he used to be in those many years from 1945 onwards in another place.
With the leave of the House, I have attended international gatherings in various parts of the world, and the common picture has been of increase in criminal behaviour and of strains growing upon the forces of law and order. So we are not alone—not that that gives us any grounds for consolation. But it shows that the malady, of which we see the symptoms in the crime figures of our own country, has many causes, is deep-rooted and will not, I fear, be susceptible to any sudden or magic panacea.
We have heard a great deal about the causes of crime. The noble Lord, Lord Wigoder, spoke of that. I cannot claim any monopoly of wisdom on this subject, although I have been in and out of the criminal courts—I may say, in a professional capacity!—for a very large number of years. There are certain causes of crime which we can safely identify although they are by no means exhaustive 589 or exclusive. First, there is human nature itself: its occasional greed, its selfishness; its violence. I fear the instinct to break things up is fairly widespread and is not always successfully contained.
We are not going to change human nature or eradicate the "old Adam" easily. But we have to recognise that the "old Adam" will flourish where conditions are apps opriate for that to happen. If a sizeable section of our community thinks that the law is loaded against it, that the forces of law and order are hostile towards it, that the economic and social conditions in which it lives will condemn it indefinitely to poverty and discomfort, that those who have the power and resources to do something about it simply do not care, then that section will feel few inhibitions about crime, stealing, knocking people about, damaging property and generally behaving in a way which the law and enforcement agencies seek to prevent. This is something about which we have done something, are doing something and propose to go on doing something.
In this connection, I am sure that race relations are crucial. We must remember that the coloured section of our community is not by any means made up only of first generation immigrants. A large number of them were born here and have grandchildren who were born here. But, if they become persuaded that the law itself does not hold the balance fairly between them and the indigenous population, or that the forces of law and order—particularly the police and the courts—are in some way prejudiced against them, those coloured people are not going to have the respect for the law which is so desirable, and they are not going to have any inhibitions about breaking it. That is why I regard the operation of our race relations legislation as of prime importance. It was passed in 1976. It has not had a great deal of time to take effect. I regard it as a bold and far-reaching piece of antidiscrimination legislation—perhaps the boldest and most far-reaching that has ever been enacted in this country.
It is not of course easy to keep the balance between attempting to improve by legislation the relationships within our society and, on the other hand, preserving individual freedom. The Act we passed holds this balance as well as it can be held. I have a considerable measure of hope that it will go a long way to eliminating the 590 fear which some at any rate of our coloured citizens may have that the law does not hold the balance fairly, or that those who have to administer it or hold the reins of power are prejudiced against them.
If we are to tackle one of the root causes of lawless behaviour, we must ensure that this legislation is fully implemented and use our influence to combat the deliberately provocative actions of the National Front and its allies, whose avowed object is to make life unpleasant and difficult for our coloured citizens. Their actions impose enormous burdens not only on the ordinary citizen, who is afraid of violence and disruption, but also of course on the police. Elimination of this particularly unpleasant form of gutter politics would, I believe, make a very real contribution to the solution of the problems which your Lordships have been discussing today.
In this connection I ask leave to quote the words of a former Conservative Minister who seemed to me to have hit the nail on the head when he expressed the importance of ensuring that coloured citizens in Britain are given equality of treatment. It was Mr. Peter Walker. He said this:To succeed would not only be morally right but it would also be of immense significance that the nation which once exercised more imperial power over coloured people than any nation in history, a nation whose commercial strength was developed and built up on the trade and goods from African and Asian territories and which in the 20th century pointed the way to a world in which human beings, irrespective of racial background, united for a decent and civilised common purpose.Those are noble words: I am sure we all endorse them.
May I also venture to quote words which I myself used when I stressed the importance of judges being sensitive to the feelings of minority groups, and in particular coloured immigrants, when I said I was confident:… that the courts do and will continue to administer the law fairly and impartially to all sections of our population of whatever race, colour or creed, and that they will be mindful of the need in their public utterances to respect the feelings of the members of those sections".Another condition of our society which I believe to be conducive to criminal activity is what now goes by the name of urban deprivation. This overlaps the race relations problem, because so many of our coloured citizens live in the worst parts of our major cities. As my right honourable friend the Home Secretary 591 said the other day:The problem of the inner cities is no doubt related to the growth of crime "—though to what extent that was so he rightly said was difficult to decide. Nevertheless, the Government attach great importance to these steps that have been taken to increase expenditure on urban programmes, and the House will be aware that the Government are looking hard at the problem of industry in the urban areas, with a view to providing urban employment there, where unemployment is often most acute. The very factor of unemployment, which, again, the noble Baroness, Lady Macleod, so fairly pointed out, is one of importance in this field.
It is not the occasion for me to embark upon a detailed examination of the economic problems which have led to the present unacceptably high level of unemployment. The only point that I wish to make this evening is that the prospect of waiting indefinitely for a decent job, with no guarantee of finding one in the end, must in the nature of things lead to young persons taking, or being more readily tempted to take, to a life of crime. Unemployment contributes to our problem therefore, and it is one reason, among others, why the Government are now spending so much on special schemes to reduce unemployment, especially among the young.
I now come to the frequent discussion with regard to the police which has been, rightly, a constant theme in the course of our debate. My noble friend Lord Lee of Newton dealt with this fully in his speech, but there are some matters which, despite the discouragement from the noble Viscount, Lord Colville, I will attempt to deal with. Certainly the Government will unequivocally support the police in their difficult, dangerous and often thankless task. The police have had some considerable successes, which have been recognised today, during the last few weeks in preventing what might have been some very ugly scenes. They are under continual pressure. Many of them get seriously hurt in discharging their duties, and on behalf of my colleagues and myself and, I am sure, of the whole House, I should like to say that they have our full confidence and support.
Concern has been rightly expressed by several noble Lords about the state of 592 morale of the police and I have been asked to give some specific information about the number of premature retirements that we have seen in recent months. I do not want to underestimate the importance of this matter, but I think it is worth reminding your Lordships of what the Home Secretary said in another place on Monday:In the two years 1975 and 1976 the overall strength of the police in England and Wales in fact increased by 7,500. This is a figure which must be set against the net loss of 1,275 police officers from the Service in 1977. It is also the fact that recruitment for the Metropolitan Police in 1977—and they are the force causing the greatest concern—was higher than in any earlier year since 1960, apart from the two previous years of 1975 and 1976, when it was at a record level.I do not want to take any political point on that, but nevertheless I think it is worth mentioning en passant, and I share the charming approach of my noble and learned friend Lord Gardiner to the attitude of the Leader of the Opposition in another place on this matter, but this is no occasion for making political points.
Now we come to the matter which does cause anxiety; namely, the premature retirement of experienced officers. The total retirements for last year were 5,166. More than half of those—that is to say, 2,726—were resignations on the part of officers who had served fewer than two years. Only 1,700 of those officers who had completed four years' service resigned. The equivalent figures for the Metropolitan Police Force for which the noble Lord, Lord O'Hagan, and the noble Viscount, Lord Colville, asked me are as follows: less than 2 years' service 728; over 4 years' service 254. That was out of a total of 1,060. It is interesting to note that the normal age limit for police officers is 55; that is, 35 years' service for those joining at the earliest age, which is now 18½. Full pension entitlement is earned after 30 years' service: that is, before the age limit is reached by most officers. Few officers in fact serve right up to the age limit. That is the normal pattern, and has been. The great majority retired at some time after 25 years' service, when pension entitlement is first earned, and the pattern does not really seem to have changed.
In 1972, for instance, in the glorious days of the Tory Government when they had full concern for these matters, 1,080 officers retired after 25 years' service, but 593 before the age limit, and 183 officers retired at the age limit. In 1977, 3,185 officers retired after 25 years' service, but before the age limit, and 316 officers retired at the age limit. So that, at any rate, the pattern is not a diminishing one or a bad one, but it is, nevertheless, a matter of concern that there are a number of very high ranking, senior officers among those who have resigned.
Pay has, of course, something to do with it, but I do not think that it is the only factor. The Government are committed to paying the police at a level which reflects the demanding and dangerous service which they perform so well. That is not only fair; it is also prudent, because they are vital to the very fabric of our society. Like everyone else, the police stand to gain by the success of our policy of containing inflation, and for this purpose the Government regard the guidelines affecting pay as essential. Nevertheless, we recognise the strength of the case put forward by the Police Federation and, as I think the House is aware, in addition to the immediate 10 per cent. increase in police pay, to which my noble friend Lord Lee referred, the whole subject has been referred to the noble and learned Lord, Lord Edmund-Davies, and his committee for urgent review. I cannot think that this problem could be in more capable hands than those of my old friend, especially, if I may say so, as I mention it on St. David's Day. May I simply add that the Government are committed to accepting the recommendations of Lord Edmund-Davies's committee, subject to the right to consider the phasing of their implementation.
The noble Lord, Lord Inglewood, asked me some questions about Metropolitan Police reliefs. The information I have is that it is normally considered that at least five officers, and sometimes six, are needed to provide one officer on duty 24 hours a day, seven days a week. So that, to provide one extra man on this basis at each of the stations, would take about 900 officers. The 4,500 figure which the noble Lord quoted would, if the Commissioner decided to use them all in that way, provide an extra nine officers at each station. Of course, the House—
My Lords, would the noble and learned Lord allow me to interrupt? His calculation is that 594 my 4,500 would produce three men per relief and not two?
§ The LORD CHANCELLOR
My Lords, I have given the figures and I think that that must be the result, but if I am wrong, I will have the matter corrected. However, it is reasonably reassuring, in so far as I can understand the somewhat complicated arithmetic. But perhaps we can go into it later. May I say that I entirely agree about the importance of the work of the Special Constabulary, and the noble Lord may care to know that, at the present time, a publicity campaign is being carried out in support of the recruitment of Special Constables. I hope that this will encourage more members of the public to assist the police in this important way. So that that is being done. Preventive policing is something which the House will be discussing in detail, when we consider the Motion of my noble friend Lady Phillips on the prevention of crime, which we are to debate in, I think, the coming week. Perhaps we can postpone consideration of it until that time.
I listened to what was said by the noble Lord, Lord Lyell, during most of his speech, on the subject of football hooliganism. My right honourable friend the Minister for Sport chairs a working party on crowd behaviour, at which the Football Association and the police are represented, and their helpful and expert advice on detailed matters of crowd control has already proved very valuable. Football hooligans who are convicted of offences of violence and criminal damage, or threatening behaviour, may be sentenced, as the noble Lord knows, to a wide range of penalties. The Criminal Law Act, which we passed last Session, increased the maximum fine which magistrates may impose for some of these offences to £1,000, and it also strengthened the powers of the courts to deal with juveniles, particularly in regard to the making of attendance centre orders. All this, I think, demonstrates that the Government are, of course, concerned both about crowd disorder and about football hooliganism.
If I have time, I should like to speak a little of the anxieties which I face in regard to the burden placed upon the courts by the increasing number of criminal cases that fall to be dealt with 595 in the Crown Court. In the first year, 1972, for which we kept comprehensive statistics, the figures of committals for trial to the Crown Court were under 40,000. Last year, there were 57,000 and the figures have risen by about 46 per cent. over the last six years, and I fear that they show no sign of decreasing. The outcome, I am afraid, will be that in 1980 we shall be seeing about 66,000 committals for trial to the Crown Court in a year, and a decade later the position may well be worse. Waiting times before trial could be stretched not only into weeks and months but into years. This is something which we cannot accept and which, I confess, I find deeply disturbing.
I make the point in this debate, because respect for law and order will not be enhanced if, with a strengthened police force and, therefore, presumably, a higher detection rate, the courts find themselves increasingly incapable of dealing with the resulting volume of cases. Prisons will become overcrowded, waiting lists will become a scandal and the public will, I fear, lose confidence in our machinery of justice; and when they lose that confidence they lose respect for law and order. I therefore wish, as Lord Chancellor, to underline the importance of this aspect of the problem that we have been discussing.
The solution is not easy. To cope with it, there are only two basic approaches. In the first place, we can try to increase the resources of our courts by appointing more judges, building more courts, streamlining the procedure, enlarging the courts' staff et cetera. But there are limits to that process, because the resources are not infinite, neither is the judicial manpower, nor is the money. Moreover, one of the results would be to put yet further strains on the prison service, and that is something which we must watch very carefully.
The other approach is to reduce what is fashionably, in the jargon, called the input. The House will remember that we made a considerable effort in that direction—and I have sour memories about this—with the Criminal Law Act of last year. Quite apart from increasing the powers of the courts, we redistributed significantly the business between the Crown Court and the magistrates' courts, and now many crimes, which would otherwise have led to trials by jury in trivial cases, will be disposed 596 of by the magistrates. But, alas! that was not permitted to happen in the case of minor, trivial offences which still crowd courts and enjoy the full panoply of trial by jury.
If we are to keep under control the trial of serious crimes, I am afraid that the time is likely to come when we shall have to accept the need to divert to the magistrates' courts still more categories of crime which can at present lead to trial by jury. This may be unpalatable. Indeed, last year it proved to be unacceptable and a formidable range of noble and learned Law Lords was lined up against me, and the Government lost the day. But I am afraid that we cannot have it both ways and I give a solemn warning that we may have to return again to this matter, unless we are to accept delays and congestion in the Crown Courts which at present we consider to be quite intolerable.
Alas that the sands of time are running hard and fast against me! So far as the powers of the courts are concerned, I do not think that there has been much complaint about their inadequacy, save in regard to what magistrates can do in respect of juveniles. In my view, the powers are adequate, and Parliament has given discretion to the courts within the considerable maxima that are available to them. We have increased substantially the penalties which can be imposed in the courts. We have introduced measures like the Prevention of Terrorism Act 1974, and there is now before the House the Government's Suppression of Terrorism Bill, which is designed to deal with the threat of international terrorism, to which the noble Viscount, Lord Hanworth, referred in his speech.
The courts are not reluctant to use the swingeing powers that they have under the law. There has been much criticism of sentences passed, in particular for rape and robbery. Indeed, I was almost publicly hanged—in effigy, of course—in Trafalgar Square because of some alleged inadequacy of sentencing, but may I remind the House that 91 per cent. of offenders convicted of rape are sentenced immediately to prison or other custodial institutions, and so are 84 per cent. of offenders convicted of robbery. There is no lack of willingness, therefore, on the part of the courts to impose these severe sentences where necessary. However, at this point, may I say that I should be totally opposed to a return to capital 597 punishment, to corporal punishment or to the adoption of any of the extravagant penalties about which we read that are imposed in other countries, from the cutting of hands—up or down as the case may be. Mutilation and branding were not unknown in this country in the Middle Ages and, as my noble friend Lord Lloyd of Hamspeatd has said, they were not particularly effective then.
I have mentioned the powers of the courts, but it is also important not to underestimate, in particular in regard to young offenders, the importance of nonresidential care, including supervision, intermediate treatment, fostering and measures of that kind. And, in the face of having to deal with a limited number of serious or persistent juvenile offenders, we must not turn our backs on an approach which I believe has proved to be of value.
With regard to the absence of secure accommodation in the community home system for offenders who cannot safely be left at home, the Government have, over two years made available to local authorities no less than £3½ million for such accommodation and we are making full use of the Children Act 1975 to make direct grants for the provision of secure accommodation. There are now under construction 113 secure treatment places; 12 more attendance centres for juveniles are planned, in addition to the 60 already available to provide for part-time attendance, and we intend to establish more. There are to be more detention centres. I am not saying that they are glasshouses, as envisaged by Mr. Whitelaw, but the discipline is brisk and firm.
There is, admittedly, a dispute between the Government and Members of the Opposition over a question of policy, as the noble Viscount, Lord Colville of Culross, has pointed out; namely, whether it should be for the magistrates to decide whether or not a secure care order should be made for juveniles or whether this should be a matter for local authorities. The Government have taken the latter view, but the improvement which has taken place is in the greater liaison with magistrates. The position was reviewed recently and I think that certain improvements have resulted from it. It is of some comfort, at any rate, that, regarding juvenile delinquency, in the last two years for which figures are available the number of juveniles cautioned or charged with 598 crimes has decreased by 5 per cent. and 4 per cent. respectively.
In conclusion, we must recognise that there is a limit to what can be done either by legislation or by the improvement of our penal institutions. This was the point which was made by the all-Party Expenditure Committee in another place when it stated that no legislation can be expected to have a significant effect on the general level of delinquency; the underlying social and environmental factors are too complex and too deep-rooted to be readily susceptible to influence by legislative means. The whole community must help in this battle. Increased community commitment is essential. So also, of course, is the factor of greater acceptance of parental responsibility, to which so many noble Lords have referred.
At least I hope that, after what I have said, your Lordships are satisfied that the issue of law and order is one about which the Government are very greatly concerned. We think that the right way of tackling the problems that have been brought out in the course of our debate is to persevere with our policy of making the law be, and be seen to be, fair to those who might have thought that it was loaded against them; to support as best we can, and within the constraints we all suffer from, the agencies of law enforcement; to do what we can to ensure the smooth running of the machinery of justice; to arm the courts with the powers that they need and which are likely to be effective in dealing with those who fall foul of the criminal law; to improve our economic situation by containing inflation and reducing unemployment so as to give to the younger members of our society the prospect of earning their living honestly in useful and rewarding work; and finally, by impressing on all concerned the very real responsibility of social workers, local authorities, school teachers and other educationalists, and, above all, parents, for the upbringing and standards of behaviour of the rising generation.
§ 9.10 p.m.
§ Lord O'HAGAN
My Lords, this has been a most useful and constructive debate. I would like to thank all noble Lords who have spoken in it. I should like doubly to thank those noble Lords who have spoken in it and have actually stayed, and, as a special commendation, 599 I should like to thank those noble Lords who have not spoken but who have stayed: I think they deserve great credit.
Much to my surprise, the noble Lord, Lord Lee of Newton, did not seem to like what I had to say. The only thing that attracted him at all was the quotations that I included, and so in a spirit of friendliness I will offer him one more, from Sir Thomas Browne's Religio Medici, which I have written in my diary:There is no man's mind of howsoever discordant and jarring a disposition to which a tunable mind may not strike a harmony.The noble Lord is young and impressionable. I am sure that over the years he and I will find ourselves thinking and speaking in harmony. Meanwhile, I think we should all go home and risk the footpads. I beg leave to withdraw the Motion.
§ Motion for Papers, by leave, withdrawn.