§ 4.53 p.m.
§ Read a third time.
§ Clause 11 [Advance notice of public processions]:
Lord Silkin of Dulwich moved Amendment No. 1:
Page 7, line 14, leave out subsection (4) and insert—
(" (4) Notice must be delivered to a police station—
§ The noble and learned Lord said: My Lords, I beg to move Amendment No. 1 which stands in my name and in those of my noble friends. This is the third amendment in what I might call a procession of amendments. We discussed the matter at the earlier stages. It concerns the notice of a procession which is required to be given under Clause 11 by the organisers of it. If one assumes that there is to be a march from, let us say, Caithness to Dulwich, possibly to visit the Prime Minister, under the clause as it stands it would be necessary for the organisers to give notice in every police area through which that march would travel.
We thought that that was an unnecessary burden upon the organisers and, moreover, one which might very well bring them into conflict with the criminal law simply through ignorance, because failure to comply with the clause is a criminal offence. We pressed this very hard and I am extremely glad to have received from the noble Earl the amendment which is now on the Marshalled List—one very much better than its predecessors in the procession, having come from the source from which it has come; and it is one that I am very pleased to accept. I assume and hope that the Government will accept the amendment as it now 746 stands, catering, as it will, both for the situation in England and also for the situation which I posited a moment ago of a procession which begins in Scotland and ends in England.
The Earl of Caithness
My Lords, as the noble and learned Lord, Lord Silkin of Dulwich, rightly says, we have had a couple of bites at this cherry already. But we are persuaded by the noble and learned Lord's arguments and are very happy to accept this amendment.
§ On Question, amendment agreed to.
§ Clause 20 [Public performance of play]:
Lord Hutchinson of Lullington moved Amendment No. 2:
Page 13, line 31, after ("circumstances") insert ("(and, in particular, taking the performance as a whole)").
The noble Lord said: My Lords, your Lordships will remember that an amendment very similar to this one was moved by me at the Committee stage. The reason for wishing these words to be in the Bill was very straightforward. It was that they appeared in the equivalent section of the Theatres Act which was repealed by this Bill. In this clause of the Bill they had been replaced simply by the words,
having regard to all the circumstances".
It seemed perfectly clear to all those who had anything to do with the theatre that the vital words,
taking the performance as a whole
were crucial when considering matters of racial hatred in a performance of a play.
Your Lordships will remember that much was said about "Othello" and "The Merchant of Venice". The noble Earl was kind enough to say that he would take the matter away and give it further consideration. There has been further consideration; there have been consultations and I gather that now the Government are prepared to accept the words of this amendment which differs in the addition of the words "in particular", so that it reads now,
and, in particular, taking the performance as a whole".
With reference to the "Merchant of Venice", I ventured to say at the Report stage that I hoped that I would obtain my pound of flesh. I understand now that the happy position is going to be that I have obtained my pound of flesh without one jot of Christian blood being spilt.
The Earl of Caithness
My Lords, we must congratulate the noble Lord, Lord Hutchinson of Lullington, for his dogged pursuit of this particular point. I am glad to say that in all the circumstances and taking the amendment as a whole, I am pleased to commend it to your Lordships.
§ On Question, amendment agreed to.
§ Clause 39 [Power to direct trespassers to leave land]:
Lord Montagu of Beaulieu moved Amendment No. 3:
Page 25, line 36, after ("than") insert ("—(i)").
§ The noble Lord said: My Lords, with the leave of the House, I should like to move this amendment and to speak to Amendment No. 4. At the Second Reading and also at Committee stage I expressed deep concern at the lack of protection against aggravated trespass on our ancient monuments. May I first thank the noble Earl for the constructive discussions which his department had with English Heritage and for the undertaking he gave during the Report stage to consider further the question of the desirability of bringing buildings which are scheduled monuments into the ambit of Clause 39, thereby enabling action to be taken by the police to direct trespassers to leave such buildings.
§ The amendment I am moving is intended to achieve that objective. I think the House will agree that it is an amendment totally within the spirit of the clause. Indeed, I would say that it is a serious omission that it is not already included, particularly as the provision was taken as a result of the abuses in recent years at or in the area surrounding one of our greatest scheduled monuments, Stonehenge. I am confident that there will be unanimity in the desire of this House (and, I think, in the country as well) to protect the most important of our treasury of ancient monuments; that is, those that are scheduled by virtue of being of national importance.
§ There are about 13,000 such monuments. They are scheduled by the Secretary of State for the Environment and we at English Heritage are charged by Parliament to protect them. Some of them are of such importance that the Government have already accepted them into ownership or guardianship—places like Whitby Abbey, Launceston Castle and Kenilworth. Those are just a few examples.
§ Since 1882 Governments have recognised the need to identify them and to protect them by scheduling, since they are part of the fabric of our history. It would seem odd, if having done so, we did not grasp the opportunity, when it arises, to carry that recognition to its sensible conclusion and give the additional protection provided under this clause—protection we feel they need. In practice, many of the monuments would already fall totally within the ambit of Clause 39. They are scheduled monuments on which no buildings stand and they include ancient hill forts such as Maiden Castle and many other earthworks and standing stones, such as Stonehenge itself.
§ However, it seems to me to be a serious weakness that some scheduled monuments may be outside this provision simply because they are buildings. A great many scheduled monuments have buildings with floors and roofs, and could certainly be used for the purpose of residing, even if in a pretty rough and ready way; but they are still very vulnerable to damage. That applies to many ruined castles and abbey ruins: yet all such buildings are excluded from the provision. In my view, this is a serious weakness and provides an easy loophole in a provision which otherwise I fully support.
§ The abuse which this clause remedies has so far affected land to a greater extent than buildings but I do not think we should confine our thinking to past abuses. We should think ahead to those which may 748 occur in the future and we must remember the determination and ingenuity of certain groups to find loopholes. By accepting this amendment the Government would help to provide further protection for an essential part of our heritage and would, I think, earn the nation's gratitude. They have already shown themselves sympathetic to, and supportive of, the preservation of the heritage. I hope that the way is now clear for them to demonstrate once, again their goodwill for the sake of future generations. I beg to move.
§ 5 p.m.
§ Baroness Birk
My Lords, while we on these Benches have made it quite clear throughout the passage of the Bill that we do not like criminal trespass to be included in it, it now appears beyond doubt at this stage that it will remain in the Bill. In this case it would be quite wrong if, while agricultural buildings are to be given protection, scheduled monuments are left to take their chance against vandalism and all the other things which can occur to this very fragile part of our heritage.
The noble Lord, Lord Montagu of Beaulieu, has put the case so well and extensively that there is no need for me to repeat it. I certainly got a very strong impression when I spoke on Report that the noble Earl was very favourably disposed to this amendment and that we are now probably pushing at an open door. I hope he will be able to confirm this.
§ Lord Boyd-Carpenter
My Lords, I hope that my noble friend, having accepted two amendments, is now going to achieve his hat-trick!
§ The Earl of Radnor
My Lords, may I briefly support this amendment? It seemed completely illogical, having got so far in the Bill, to leave these buildings without protection. I would go so far as to say that without it they might become more of a prime target than they have been previously, if they were so left out. Perhaps I might add my thanks to the Government for their help over this very vexed Clause 39, and to my own thanks I would add those of my noble friend Lord Stanley of Alderley, who is unfortunately not able to be here today. I would strongly support this amendment.
The Earl of Caithness
My Lords, the Government are indeed sympathetic to, and very supportive of, our heritage. We realise its very considerable importance and I am particularly grateful that the noble Baroness, with her vast experience in these matters, was able to take part in our debate this afternoon. I can confirm to my noble friend Lord Boyd-Carpenter, that I am very happy to accept this amendment on behalf of the Government and I am very grateful to my noble friend Lord Montagu of Beaulieu for pressing this particular point. As the noble Baroness said, this was in any case a fairly open door, and it was logical that this should be in the Bill. As I have been able to accept the hat-trick I would note that the noble Lord, Lord Hutchinson of Lullington, is a cricketing supporter and that his average has come down from 1 for 20 to 2 for 22!
§ On Question, amendment agreed to.749
Lord Montagu of Beaulieu moved Amendment No. 4:
Page 25, line 38, after ("1967") insert (", or
(ii) scheduled monuments within the meaning of the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979,").
§ The noble Lord said: My Lords, I beg to move.
§ On Question, amendment agreed to.
§ Moved, That the Bill do now pass.—(The Earl of Caithness.)
§ Lord Elwyn-Jones
My Lords, we certainly will not let it pass without a word. While today all has been sweetness and light, it is a sombre thought that discussion of this Bill began way back on the 13th June last. It has dragged its slow length along during the whole of the summer months. It was introduced following a series of grave public disturbances and riots in our inner cities at a time of mounting crime.
Throughout the consideration of the Bill in both Houses—whose debates have, I think, improved the Bill a good deal since it was introduced, particularly in your Lordships' House—there has always arisen the problem of maintaining a balance between, on the one hand, the necessity of maintaining public order and, on the other, the need to preserve and protect the classic civil liberties of the subject: the right to freedom of speech and of lawful protest, the right of public assembly and of procession, all the hallmarks of a democratic society.
We have stressed also in the debates the importance at this time of maintaining and improving co-operation between the police and the public who they serve. On the Opposition Benches we have questioned strongly whether some of the Bill's proposals may not be more likely to alienate than to win public support. However, we must acknowledge—and I readily do so—that in another place the Under-Secretary and in this House the noble Lord, Lord Glenarthur, and following him the noble Earl, Lord Caithness, assisted by the noble Lord, Lord Beaverbrook, took away some of the Bill's proposals and accepted the advice offered to them from time to time from the Opposition Benches.
We won an early concession from the noble Lord, Lord Glenarthur, when he agreed to drop the proposed maximum penalty of life imprisonment for riot and to accept instead 10 years' imprisonment. I fear, however, that we achieved no further victories during the reign of the noble Lord, but we have done rather better under the ministrations of the noble Earl, Lord Caithness, no doubt due in part to the fact that by then time was running out for the Government, quite apart from the noble Earl's own excellence and his intelligent anticipation that he should adopt our proposals.
We are grateful to noble Lords who have spoken on the Government side for their courtesy, their ability and their willingness to look again at some of their proposals. The debates have indeed shown that the government mind, like a parachute, works only when properly opened. Have I got it quite right? I think I have.
750 We readily welcome the changes in the law, above all by Part III of the Bill which is directed against acts intended or likely to stir up racial hatred. When I was an attorney, I was frequently up against the difficulty of proving intent to stir up racial hatred. No doubt my noble friend had the same difficulty. Some extremely unpleasant racists got away by simply saying that nothing was further from their minds than the alleged intent. The Bill in Part III adds the alternative and very useful and valuable provision,having regard to all the circumstances, racial hatred is likely to be stirred up thereby".I shall not attempt at this stage to list either our victories or our defeats. We are sorry to see the introduction of criminal trespass, as my noble friend Lady Birk has indicated, and we regret some other elements in the Bill. Perhaps I ought to mention the most controversial part of the Bill which has survived attack from all quarters on the Opposition side. That is Clause 5 which creates the offence of disorderly behaviour. We tried to get rid of that in Committee and on Report but, alas, to no avail.
I must also record our regret at the refusal of our proposal to set up an appeal system to allow for appeals to be made against conditions imposed by senior police officers on assemblies and processions under Clauses 12 and 14. Another misfortune that remains in the Bill is the inclusion of the dangerously wide words "serious disruption to the life of the community" as one of the elements in Clauses 12 and 14 of the Bill.
We end with our gratitude for what has been conceded and in particular for Part III. We think the Bill has been improved by reason of the deliberations to which it has been submitted in this House. We think it might have been even better if all our proposals has been accepted.
§ Lord Denning
My Lords, may I welcome in every detail the passing of the Bill? I should first like to thank the Law Commission for their excellent report which has restated in statutory form the common law as to riot, affray and unlawful assembly. Previously the position was vague and indeterminent, depending entirely on the dicta of judges. Now these matters have been brought into proper form and are clear and intelligible to everyone.
I welcome the additional provisions concerning harassment or disorderly behaviour. That is very necessary today. Of course we have our fundamental freedoms of speech, of assembly and of demonstration; but we must always realise that those freedoms must be exercised with regard to the freedoms of others. Indeed, they must be exercised without violence, disorder or anything of that kind. It is a matter of keeping the right balance.
As regards provisions concerning harassment and disorderly behaviour, how much we need them today in regard to freedom of speech when one who goes to universities to speak to students may be disrupted by violent disorder. It is a good thing that we have this new clause to deal with disorderly behaviour of that kind. That is the position under common law but how good it is also that processions and the right to demonstrate should be controlled. If I may I should also add the new offences dealing with new matters, 751 whether that be trespass, racist behaviour or whatever it may be. On the whole, I should say this is a very good Bill all the way through and everyone should be grateful for its passing.
§ 5.15 p.m.
§ Lord Hutchinson of Lullington
My Lords, may I, from these Benches, also pay tribute to the noble Earl the Minister and express our admiration for the way that he has guided this Bill through the choppy seas (stirred up largely, I am afraid, by a battery of lawyers), and for the way he has managed to bring the Bill to harbour having come to the steering wheel in the middle of the voyage. We appreciate and are grateful for his co-operative and helpful attitude throughout the time he has been in charge of the Bill.
Having said that, I would express my sadness that we have not been able to amend the Bill in any fundamental way. In a Bill of such paramount importance for our civil rights and liberties, it is also sad that we have divided along party lines. In Committee there was at one moment some support from two or three distinguished noble Lords opposite, some of whom I see here today. That support faded away on Report and the Divisions were of that kind.
The Bill starts well, and, in so far as it follows the Law Commission's report in rationalising the common law (as the noble and learned Lord, Lord Denning, has just said) it is in many ways an admirable Bill. However, I should like to echo the words of the noble and learned Lord, Lord Elwyn-Jones, that regarding Clause 4, when read with Clause 6, the Bill really has been left in what one can only describe as a real mess for the courts to deal with in regard to the states of mind of accused persons and of victims.
Equally, in Clause 5 the concept of disorderly behaviour and harassment, alarm and distress is so wide and of such catch-all phraseology that I fear that this part of the Bill will be abused when it comes into force. I suggest that the view of the noble and learned Lord, Lord Scarman, that this part of the Bill is an unwarrantable extension of criminalisation of people's behaviour is a view which is nearer the truth than the view which has just been expressed by the noble and learned Lord, Lord Denning.
I find Part II of the Bill verbose and loose with the concept of serious public disruption and such wide power being given to the police and the court to interpret. Again, one cannot help feeling that this part of the Bill will be open to abuse. One can only hope that the concern of those of us on this side of the House with regard to those parts of the Bill will not be borne out in future years. Otherwise, we give this Bill a fair wind and hope that it contributes to this very serious matter of our fundamental rights of public meeting and procession. We sincerely hope that our concerns will not be borne out.
§ Lord Boyd-Carpenter
My Lords, as the noble and learned Lord, Lord Elwyn-Jones, said, in contrast to some of our earlier proceedings this afternoon all has been sweetness and light. Indeed, the proceedings on amendments did something to convert me—who, having come from the Commons, always regarded 752 amendments on Third Reading with some suspicion—as to their value. With due deference to those who put them down, on this occasion they were just the sort of amendments that justify being put down on Third Reading; whereas on certain other measures the constant reiteration of highly controversial issues which had already been fully debated at earlier stages sometimes struck one as an abuse. But certainly this afternoon's proceedings have shown the value of this procedure, provided that it is, as it has been this afternoon, properly used.
I think at this moment your Lordships will also want to cast your minds back to the circumstances in which the Bill was introduced and the circumstances with which it was intended to deal and I hope will deal. It was introduced against the background of very grave disorders indeed, of riots, of serious injuries to policemen, of intimidation of individuals, of a great deal of damage and of a great deal of alarm. I think that the Government had no option but to respond to the very strong demand for a strengthening of the law to deal with situations of that kind. Whether they have the answer completely right is a matter on which there may be, as has been expressed this afternoon, reservations, but the need to legislate on this subject was, I think, very strongly felt by the public as a whole.
After all, the preservation of law and order and the security of the citizen to go about his life and work free from interference and violence is the basic duty of government. Indeed if one casts one's mind back, it was largely for that purpose that at the dawn of history governments were formed at all and societies came together for the protection that that would give.
It is in that context that I have my own reservation. I was disappointed when my noble friend Lord Glenarthur gave way to the blandishments of the noble and learned Lord, Lord Elwyn-Jones, on Clause 1 and accepted the diminution of the sentence for riot from life to 10 years. My noble friend Lord Glenarthur had the support of noble Lords on this side of the House for maintaining that sentence, and, in my view, the offence of riot is so serious that the maximum penalty should be a great deal higher than 10 years. That must be even more the case where there is a second or subsequent offence.
Riot, as so defined, endangers the whole structure of society and it is—I say it at this stage with regret—a pity that a Bill that does much to strengthen the law for the protection of order and the stability of society should now open with so relatively weak a penalty for that most serious offence, particularly in the case of second and subsequent offences. I hope that our experience in the next few years may not be such as to cause us to regret this decision. But it is at least possible, if that hope is frustrated, that my noble friend may well find himself under considerable pressure to restore the Bill to the position in this respect in which it started.
On other matters I welcome the Bill wholeheartedly. I disagree with the noble and learned Lord, with respect—as I always do with respect—on criminal trespass. I am glad that the Bill seems to deal in considerable measure with the habit which developed this summer of people arriving and squatting on other 753 people's land and property and refusing to move. The Bill, which gives the power to a policeman to order them to leave, with penalties if they decline to carry out that order, should make a repetition of that kind of thing in the future impossible, and I very much hope that it will turn out to be effective.
On the whole, I should like to give my good wishes to the Bill. I share the high regard which most noble Lords have already expressed for the way in which it has been conducted by my noble friend Lord Glenarthur—with the one exception to which I referred a moment ago—and by my noble friend Lord Caithness, both of whom have shown patience, consideration for the House and clarity of thought in handling difficult amendments. That is all the more astonishing in view of the fact that there they were as, from the legal point of view, laymen competing with, among others, a former Lord Chancellor. Many people would have thought that was grossly unfair to them, but there were moments when I think the former Lord Chancellor was rather inclined to think it was unfair to him, and no higher compliment can be paid to my noble friend and his predecessor than to say that. In this connection, we have been fortunate with the Scottish connection.
§ Lord Jenkins of Putney
My Lords, let me briefly say that I dislike this Bill very much indeed. My role in it has been to follow my noble friends through the Lobbies in their endeavours to make it less bad than it otherwise would have been. As my noble friend has shown, we have not, alas, been as successful as we should have wished on all occasions.
My other purpose in rising is, perhaps unusually, to pay tribute to the noble Lord, Lord Hutchinson of Lullington, because he has succeeded in protecting the special interests of the theatre. The Bill could have made a total fool of itself in that area and I think noble Lords on both sides of the House feel that a considerable improvement has been made. We have been in association with each other on this matter and my name is not on the amendment on the Marshalled List through sheer inadvertence. I am as enthusiastic about it as the rest of your Lordships. We are very happy with that outcome, much as we may regret some aspects of the Bill itself.
§ Lord Mishcon
My Lords, like my noble and learned friend Lord Elwyn-Jones, I, too, thought everything was brightness, light and general contentment, especially when I heard the noble Lord, Lord Boyd-Carpenter, say that he approved today of the behaviour both of the Government and of the Opposition. This is indeed a unique day in the parliamentary history of this generation. But I saw very soon a slight cloud, a slight darkness—almost a reactionary darkness in that cloud—over our general enjoyment when he objected to a sentence of 10 years only for the offence of riot. I do not claim any monopolistic right on behalf of my noble friends in making that suggestion. It was indeed the suggestion of the Law Commission itself that it should be only 10 years, and when the noble Lord, Lord Boyd-Carpenter, finds himself even behind the Law Commission in its thoughts about matters, maybe we can return to a spirit of complete contentment.
754 I go on, if I may, to make just a few brief remarks on matters which I hope your Lordships will agree have not so far been touched on. We realise that legislation of some kind was necessary in order to deal with the difficulties of our time, which all of us regret wherever we may sit in this House. I hope that a message will go out from your Lordships, wherever you may sit, that on the passing of this important Bill the police, whose relationship with the community is so important, will realise that Parliament, from all parties, expects them to be opposers of violence but also protectors of the proper civil rights of the citizen.
I also hope that in any circulars or directives that go out from the Secretary of State for Home Affairs the position of the police will be made abundantly clear; that is, that those who peacefully wish to exercise the age-old free traditions of which we are so proud in this country are to be protected when they do that and that those who offend against those rights by using violence and improper and illegal means will be punished as they deserve to be punished.
I almost said that I wanted to move from here to trespass, but that sounded rather funny, even in my mind, before I uttered the sentence. But what I wanted to do in that connection was not to repeat any of the things that have been said in arguments as to the difficulties of criminal trespass but to say this. I regret that in connection with a matter which does affect our criminal law there should now be an offence which makes complete nonsense to anybody who reads it—that of 12 vehicles entering upon land perfectly peacefully; nobody insulting anybody, nobody perpetrating any damage.
Anyone who is the cause of those 12 vehicles—and indeed the 12 vehicle drivers themselves—will be guilty of an offence if they do not obey a police direction. But if they be only 11 vehicles they are as innocent and as free in connection with our criminal law. If Parliament passes such a measure, as it now will presumably, Parliament must be prepared for some rather extraordinary remarks from our courts and for extraordinary remarks from those who will have to be in charge of prosecutions in the future.
My closing remarks are in connection with the race relations clauses of this Bill. I want to say only this in regard to it. I tried from these Benches on behalf of my noble friends and with the help of others on this side of the House to see that a duty was cast upon local authorities to remove racially offensive graffiti as soon as practicable. I was unsuccessful when trying to take this through the Division Lobby and this is my last attempt. I hope that the noble Earl the Minister will understand me when I say that I think it is a proper last attempt. I hope that when saying goodbye to this Bill and to those who have discussed it, as he will do in a moment, he will be able to say something helpful about that matter in regard at least to a wish to be expressed to the local authorities that they will carry out this work, because it is so offensive and so damaging to our national life.
In my last sentence perhaps I may join those who have paid tribute to the noble Earl, to the noble Lord, Lord Beaverbrook, who has sat by his side assisting him with, I am sure, great ability, and to the noble Lord, Lord Glenarthur. I recollect that the noble Earl 755 was thrown into the middle of this Bill by a sudden appointment to the "Ministership", if I can use that dreadful word, that he know adorns. I think he is especially to be congratulated on the way in which, if I may continue the cricketing metaphor, he picked up the ball when the captain threw it at him, and he has bowled rather well.
§ 5.30 p.m.
The Earl of Caithness
My Lords, it is now a number of months, but months well used, since my noble friend Lord Glenarthur recommended this Bill to your Lordships on Second Reading. We have spent some 35 hours in consideration of the Bill. The other place will need to consider about 40 amendments made to the Bill by your Lordships during its various stages. That only goes to prove that the Government mind has been shown always to be open and that there has never been a need for a parachute. Some of the changes we have made to the Bill have been technical and have improved its form rather than its substance. Others, on some of which I shall comment further shortly, have added new important measures. Your Lordships have done sterling work on this Bill and we return it to another place strengthened and burnished by its passage through this House.
The Public Order Bill achieves a necessary balance. It protects cherished democratic freedoms such as the right to demonstrate and march peacefully, while strengthening the protection afforded everyone to go about their business free from disorder, intimidation and unnecessary disruption. The Bill is designed to give important new protection to ordinary people from the hooliganism and violence than can destroy their peace and tranquillity. It aims above all to preserve order, on which depends the rights and freedoms which characterise a democratic and civilised society.
We have made important changes to the Bill. In the course of its passage through this House we have agreed to a number of points made by noble Lords opposite. In Part I we accepted an amendment moved by the noble and learned Lord, Lord Elwyn-Jones, to reduce the maximum sentence for riot to 10 years' imprisonment. In Part II we have provided for banning orders under Clause 13 to be made in writing wherever possible, in response to another amendment moved by the noble and learned Lord, Lord Elwyn-Jones. We have just agreed that in relation to marches which pass through more than one police force area, notice need be given only in the police force area where the march begins—an amendment moved by the noble and learned Lord, Lord Silkin of Dulwich. In addition in response to a commitment given to the Opposition in another place we have substantially improved Part III of the Bill by bringing broadcasting, films, video tapes, sound tapes and other media within the incitement to racial hatred provisions, and in response to the amendment moved by the noble Lord, Lord Hutchinson of Lullington, we have made clear that the theatrical performance needs to be considered as a whole.
Part III of the Bill is of course mainly concerned with protecting against threats to public order. Our 756 debates have also looked at wider issues and touched on the need, especially for those in positions of authority, to work for a society in which all our people have equal opportunities and in which sections of the community do not feel themselves under attack because of their racial origin.
The noble Lord, Lord Mishcon, raised many matters of importance during our debates. In particular, he gave the House the opportunity to discuss the problem of racist graffiti. Although we were not able to accept the particular amendments he moved, we all share the distaste and abhorrence which he expressed so eloquently. Our debates on this problem served to underline the harm which racist graffiti can do. I can assure the noble Lord that this has already been noted by at least one local authority and I am sure that the others have taken note of what your Lordships have said on this matter.
The Earl of Caithness
My Lords, as my noble friend Lord Glenarthur said on Second Reading, racists have few friends anywhere and certainly none in this House. Part III of the Bill contains the strongest measures against incitement to racial hatred to be proposed by any Government. They prove in a way which mere speeches cannot that we will not tolerate the incitement of hatred of anyone because of the colour of his skin or the nature of his ethnic background.
Your Lordships have also accepted two important new measures. First, Clause 38 of the Bill strengthens the law to deal with those who cause so much mischief by contaminating consumer products or by issuing threats or claims. The message of your Lordships' House is absolutely clear: in a democratic country, no matter how strongly views are held, this can never be an excuse for endangering the lives of others or causing public alarm by what amounts to cowardly blackmail.
Clause 39 gives the police a new power to deal with aggravated trespass. Our debates on this have been full so I need not dwell on this important new power at any great length. Your Lordships have reacted swiftly to ensure that the disgraceful scenes we witnessed this summer including the abominable harassment of farmers by the hippy convoy shall be met in future with a swift and effective response. In particular, I should like to mention the unflagging work of my noble friends Lord Stanley and Lord Montagu of Beaulieu in helping us to make sure that Clause 39 is a sound, sensible and workable provision.
I shall not delay the House by listing the many other improvements that we have made to the Bill. Suffice it to say that your Lordships have yet again proved to the full the worth of this House as a revising chamber. The Bill returns to another place in much better order than it arrived.
Before I conclude I wish to place on the record my appeciation to all your Lordships. Because of the pressures of business and the importance of the measures the Bill now contains, work on the Bill has placed particularly hard demands on noble Lords. These demands have been impressively coped with, with unflagging courtesy and a deal of good humour. For their advice, help and criticism I am grateful to my noble friends: in particular, my noble friends Lord 757 Boyd-Carpenter, Lord Campbell of Alloway and Lord Renton, but I do not forget the others although time prevents me from mentioning them by name.
I should also like to thank noble Lords opposite. As is right and proper our detailed debates have been hard-fought with strong views held on both sides. I shall not disguise the fact that when I took over this Bill halfway through its passage I did so with some trepidation. However, while the intellectual battle has raged, the personal courtesy shown to me by noble Lords opposite has never wavered, and I am grateful to them. They always listened to my arguments with care, notwithstanding that they have profoundly disagreed with some of them; and they themselves are owed respect because of the rich experience that they bring to our debates.
I hope that Members in another place will appreciate the work we have done on this Bill and will give the amendments we have made a fair wind. I commend the Bill to your Lordships.
On Question, Bill passed, and returned to the Commons with amendments.