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Commons Chamber

Volume 648: debated on Thursday 9 November 1961

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House Of Commons

Thursday, 9th November, 1961

The House met at half-past Two o'clock

Prayers

[Mr. SPEAKER in the Chair]

Petitions

Barnard Castle-Penrith Railway

I beg leave to submit to this honourable House two Petitions under seal objecting to the closure of the Barnard Castle-Penrith Railway.

The two Petitioners are the Barnard Castle Urban District Council and the Durham County Council, one of the smallest and one of the largest in the north of England.

Altogether, the Durham County Council represents about 1 million people. They object to the proposed closure on the ground of hardship to the mining and rural communities, interruption of facilities for recreation for the industrial population, but more especially to the damage which the closure would do to the economic prospects of the area. It is well known the difficulties that South-West Durham has in attracting industry, and this particular closure will cause damage in confidence and damage in facilities, quite apart from the actual unemployment it will cause.

Both the Durham County Council and the Barnard Castle Urban District Council have been very energetic in promoting local industrial schemes and they feel, and so petition, that they should have the assistance of this honourable House.

The Petitioners therefore pray:
That this honourable House directs the British Transport Commission to maintain and improve the direct railway services between Barnard Castle and Penrith.
And your Petitioners, as in duty bound, will ever pray.

To lie upon the Table.

Oral Answers To Questions

Home Department

Road Vehicles (Police Escort)

4.

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many escorts were provided by the Metropolitan Police for abnormal indivisible loads during the last convenient year; how many police officers were engaged in these duties; and for what other duties the officers employed on such escorts were required.

During the twelve months ended 30th September, 1961, 2,198 such escorts, requiring 18,060 man hours of police duty, were provided by traffic patrols of the Metropolitan Police.

Is there not a danger that the provision of this free service may encourage these loads to go by road when they could go by rail? Will my hon. and learned Friend at least ensure that the police see that these loads are moved at a convenient day and time so as not to cause unnecessary congestion?

Of course, it is impossible to say whether these services do encourage goods to go by road. At any event, it is for the user of the transport to decide that. The work of the police in this matter, for which the public at large pays, is of great benefit to road users generally. It is a service which the police provide, and I think it right that they should do so.

Would the hon. and learned Gentleman agree that considerable inconvenience is caused to other road users by these very difficult loads being carried by road and requiring police escorts? Is it not something to which the hon. and learned Gentleman's Department should give very serious attention with a view to assisting in guiding these loads on to a different form of transport which would not interfere with the ordinary convenience of the general public to the degree that they do at present?

The police do give advice. They try to avoid obstruction as much as they possibly can. I can assure my hon. Friend and the hon. Member for Newcastle-upon-Tyne, West (Mr. Popplewell) that the police give a great deal of thought to this matter. It is remarkable what large loads have to be carried which mostly can only go by road, and, bearing in mind the assistance given by the police, it is remarkable how little obstruction they cause.

Bookmakers' Permits And Betting Office Licences

5.

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many applications for book makers' permits and betting office licences have been received; how many have now been granted; how many have been refused; and whether he is satisfied with the progress that has been made.

In England and Wales, 8,779 bookmakers' permits and 7,296 betting office licences were in force on 1st June, 1961. Detailed figures of the numbers of applications, the numbers refused by betting licensing committees and of the results of appeals will be given in a return which will be published later this month. My information is that the amount of unlawful betting in the streets has declined sharply, and this I think is satisfactory.

Can my hon. and learned Friend say whether the policy of the Betting and Gaming Act is working out well? Is he sure that bets are being taken only by permit holders among the bookmakers?

Our information is that the plan under the 1960 Act is going very much in accordance with what we hoped and expected. It is significant that my right hon. Friend has been able to make an Order increasing the penalties under the Street Betting Act, 1906, which will come into operation on 1st December.

Hire-Purchase Debt (Prisoners)

6.

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many people are now in prison as a result of debts incurred through hire-purchase agreements and their inability to pay the instalments; whether he is aware that this is becoming a national problem and creating overcrowding in prisons; and if he will hold an inquiry into the operations and methods of sale of the hire-purchase system.

The Joint Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department
(Mr. Charles Fletcher-Cooke)

It is estimated that on 3rd November, 1961, there were 84 civil prisoners in English and Welsh prisons who had been committed for failure to pay instalments due under a hire-purchase agreement. This figure, which has not greatly increased during the last twelve months, represents a very small part of a total prison population of over 24,000.

Is the hon. and learned Gentleman aware that there are many unscrupulous canvassers who have an almost magnetic influence in persuading housewives against their judgment to purchase things they do not want? Can he do something to introduce legislation to deal with people of that character?

This is a matter for my right hon. Friend the President of the Board of Trade. My right hon. Friend the Home Secretary is only the gaoler in this matter.

Is the hon. and learned Gentleman aware that the figures which he has given are not the true figures in this respect, since there are many cases of fraud arising out of hire-purchase agreements? Is he aware that this is a very serious problem, particularly with women who fall for blandishments of some of the slick salesmen at the door? Is he further aware that when I have visited women's prisons I have found the women prison officers very much perturbed about this problem?

Certainly the hire-purchase ethos has many ramifications, but of the 84 civil prisoners imprisoned for failure to pay hire-purchase debts, only two are women.

Does not my hon. and learned Friend agree that in this connection no one is sent to prison unless he refuses to pay under a court order and it is proved that he has the means to pay?

Air Raid Shelters

7.

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will review requests for the dismantling of air-raid shelters which have been previously refused.

My right hon. Friend is always prepared to consider whether in individual cases there are compelling grounds for authorising removal of air-raid shelters remaining from the last war. If the hon. Member has in mind any particular case and will send me particulars, I will gladly have inquiries made.

Is the hon. and learned Gentleman aware that while removal is permitted only where there is a danger to health, there are many other serious grounds, for instance, in cases where the shelter occupies the whole of a backyard or blocks nearly all the window space, or attracts cats, dogs, insects and obnoxious smells? As shelters are useless against radioactive fall-out, will he reconsider the whole matter?

I cannot accept that these shelters would be useless against radioactive fall-out. Outside the area of complete devastation they would give very useful protection, which is why we leave them. There are three grounds on which consent for demolition is given. One is that mentioned, the danger to health; but in addition there are unsound structural conditions and hardship to the occupier of the premises. I think that the hon. Member will find that most of his complaints come under those three headings.

Trafalgar Square (Demonstrations)

8.

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department under what order the Commissioner of Police for the Metropolis extended the ban on public processions in the Trafalgar Square/Parliament Square area for a further 24 hours from midnight on 17th September.

Under powers conferred on him by Section 52 of the Metropolitan Police Act, 1839, the Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis directed that no organised procession should be allowed to pass along the streets adjoining or leading to Trafalgar Square and Parliament Square for 24 hours as from midnight on 17th September.

As the Public Order Act was introduced precisely because the Metropolitan Police Act does not give the police power to ban processions, how can the Home Secretary say that the police loudspeaker ban on processions after midnight on 17th September, without an Order confirmed by himself, was legal, when it clearly was not?

I cannot accept the first part of the hon. Lady's supplementary question. I do not think that she is correct in her comparison of the Public Order Act and the Metropolitan Police Act. Whether the ban was legal or not is primarly a matter for the courts. As far as I can see, it was perfectly legal, but if it needs to be tested, that is the way to test it.

Will not the right hon. Gentleman recognise that the Minister of State, in correspondence with my hon. Friend and myself, has already admitted that he made an error in our debate on 17th October, and that a renewal of the Order sanctioned by the Home Secretary and banning processions for a period of 24 hours was not in fact authorised or confirmed by him, although the police announcement in the streets gave the impression, contrary to the fact, that the renewal had been authorised by the Home Secretary? Will he not recognise that this has created a serious situation and led to a great deal of hardship for the people in Trafalgar Square at the time?

The facts are that the Order issued by the Commissioner did not require the agreement of the Secretary of State. I do not think that the hon. Member for Islington, East (Mr. Fletcher) is accurate in what he says about the loudspeaker and what it said, because it was never said in the loudspeaker announcement that I had given previous approval to the Metropolitan Police for this action.

Will not the right hon. Gentleman look at this matter again, not so much from the point of view of its legality as from that of his responsibility for the conduct of the Metropolitan Police? Is it not the case that the original Order was made, with his express approval, under the Public Order Act, and that the announcement made on the spot was said to be an extension of that Order? Is it not clear either that the Commissioner never made an Order which he was authorised to make, or, if he did make it, notice of it to the public was never given?

The Order under the Public Order Act, 1936, was approved by me at the request of the Commissioner. I did not try to extend it, nor did I intend that it should be extended. If there was any misunderstanding on that, that is a further matter for inquiry. It is not a matter of which I approve.

17.

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will hold a public inquiry into the actions of the police in Trafalgar Square on 17th and 18th September.

24.

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will now order a public inquiry into police action in Trafalgar Square on 17th-18th September.

Specific complaints against police officers arising from the demonstration in Trafalgar Square are being investigated in accordance with the statutory procedure, and on the information before me I am not satisfied that any further inquiry is called for.

Is the Home Secretary aware that irrefutable evidence is now available showing that men and women were dragged the length of the Square by their feet with their heads banging on the pavement? Is it not obvious that the present police inquiry, conducted by the Commissioner, who was himself in charge of the operation on that night, is bound to be suspect as a whitewashing affair?

No, Sir. There is a statutory procedure, which is recognised to be fair. I am satisfied that there were individual cases, and perhaps some of the kind mentioned by the hon. Member, but the right thing to do is to have them considered. We have had great difficulty in obtaining the information necessary for a consideration of some of these cases, but I believe that the police have now got most of the evidence they require, and we are proceeding as fast as we can.

Will the right hon. Gentleman undertake to make a full report to the House when he receives the Commissioner's report, and then consider again the possibility of a public inquiry in the light of the contents of the report and the comments that have been made in the House?

There is a later Question on the Order Paper, in answer to which I shall report the latest stage of investigations, but I am not persuaded that a general inquiry is necessary.

Has not some of the evidence in this inquiry been submitted to the Willink Commission? Is it not within the terms of reference of that Commission, since it is a matter of relations between the police and the public? Cannot the Commission consider such evidence? Further, did not some of my right hon. Friends see the right hon. Gentleman the other day and ask him if he would see that the Willink Commision had this evidence before it, and make an interim report if possible?

I saw the right hon. Member for Smethwick (Mr. Gordon Walker), the right hon. and learned Member for Newport (Sir F. Soskice) and the Chief Whip on the Opposition side yesterday in connection with this matter, and I think a statement was issued to the effect that I was prepared to see that the experience of handling these cases was put before the Foyal Commission. I think that it would fall within the Commission's terms of reference.

20.

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will make a statement on the investigation by the Commissioner of Police into allegations of ill-treatment of the sit-down demonstrators against nuclear weapons in Trafalgar Square after midnight on 17th September, 1961.

I am informed by the Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis that, so far, 56 specific complaints arising out of the demonstration in Trafalgar Square on 17th-18th September have been received. These include 23 complaints of which particulars have recently been given by the National Council for Civil Liberties. Inquiries into these are in progress.

Inquiries have been completed in 29 of the remaining 33 cases. In nine of these the complaints made are considered to have been unfounded and in 19 insufficient evidence has been provided to substantiate the allegations. In the remaining case—not involving any allegation of the use of violence—-no further action can be taken as the officer concerned cannot be identified.

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that those who saw those demonstrations, from both sides of the House, have publicly stated that between half-past four and midnight the police acted with commendable restraint, except in a few instances? Is he aware that at midnight action was taken to remove observers, to remove photographers, to remove television apparatus, to remove the Pressmen—

—yes, and to remove me? I am thankful to the hon. Member for strengthening my case. Is the right hon. Gentleman further aware that there is evidence, for example, that one woman was twice thrown into the fountain, then taken to the police station and left in wet clothes all night? Will he see that when evidence goes to the Willink Commission from the police authorities the evidence from those who were the victims on this occasion is submitted as well?

I think that this question illustrates the importance of investigating each of these cases. Those who feel themselves aggrieved always have the power to pursue a policeman in the courts or they have the power of taking the policeman's number and identifying him. I am very keen that individual cases should be thoroughly prosecuted and examined, including the ones referred to in relation to the fountain. Unfortunately, all the accounts do not agree with the hon. Gentleman's claim. All I can say is that individual cases should be examined.

Captain Galvao

9.

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department what further consideration he has given to the application of Captain Galvao for permission to visit the United Kingdom.

25.

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will now allow Captain Galvao to visit this country.

For the reasons explained in the debate on the Adjournment on 13th June, my right hon. Friend is not prepared to authorise the grant of a visa to Captain Galvao.

Will the hon. and learned Gentleman represent to his right hon. Friend that it is very odd that Captain Galvao should be refused admission to this country while three high-ranking officers in Franco's army are admitted? Why is it that we make this distinction between the two? Why is it that the Home Secretary, who has a reputation for a progressive and liberal attitude, is so confirmed in his decision that anti-Fascists are not to be allowed into this country? Has not Captain Galvao as much right to come to this country to put the point of view of his people as he has to go to Sweden, for example, where he has been invited? In the interests of the good name of this country, is it not time to stop this pettifogging nonsense, under the instructions of Dr. Salazar, and admit this man to our shores?

We went into all this very thoroughly when we had a debate on the Adjournment in June, and I do not think that there has been any material change of circumstances which would cause my right hon. Friend to change his decision. With respect to the hon. Member for Deptford (Sir L. Plummer), the case of the Spanish officers is not one with which I am familiar, but it does not seem to me that the Spanish officers intended to come here for the same purpose as Captain Galvao, namely, to advocate insurrection against an ally.

Is the Minister aware that deep concern has been expressed on both sides of the House about conditions in Angola and Mozambique? As Captain Galvao is an acknowledged authority on conditions in both those territories, will the Minister allow him to accept an invitation from a group of hon. Members to come to a Committee Room upstairs to address us about conditions in Angola and Mozambique? Further, will he say why Captain Galvao has been kept out?

He was kept out for the reasons given in the Adjournment debate, and there has been no change of circumstances since then. Whether the issue of an invitation by hon. Members itself constitutes a fresh reason is a matter which one would have to consider.

Will my hon. and learned Friend agree that a man who, with his revolutionary colleagues, has murdered an unarmed officer while on watch in a ship at sea in peacetime, and has played with the lives of women and children, should not be persona gratain this country? Further, has my hon. and learned Friend seen the article by Captain Galvao's revolutionary colleagues, published in the Ultima Horaof Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, which starts by saying:

"We denounce Captain Galvao"—?

Order. The hon. Member is out of order in quoting from articles at Question Time.

12.

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department why Captain Galvao was not permitted the facilities provided normally to transit passengers when passing through London Airport en routefor Stockholm.

31.

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department what instructions he gave to the Home Office authorities at London Airport about the treatment to be accorded to Captain Galvao on his arrival there recently.

32.

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department why Captain Galvao was detained under lock and key while in transit through London Airport on his way to Scandinavia.

35.

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if his attention has been drawn to the treatment of Captain Galvao at London Airport recently by the police; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Renton : For the reasons explained in the debate on the Adjournment on 13th June, my right hon. Friend decided that Captain Galvao should not be allowed to come into this country. When he arrived at London Airport at one o'clock in the morning of the 26th October, he was accordingly refused leave to land and was accommodated in the quarters provided for such passengers until his plane left for Stockholm about nine hours later. My right hon. Friend is satisfied that he was well treated and is assured that he made no complaint.

May I ask the hon. and learned Gentleman whether it is not a fact that when Captain Galvao first arrived he was treated in the same way as criminals are treated when they come here? Was it not in great contrast with the treatment he received at London Airport when he was returning from that journey? Why the contrast between the two treatments? If any charge of violence is made against Captain Galvao, is the hon. and learned Gentleman aware that in Portugal there is no democracy which allows liberal action and candidates? What other course can Captain Galvao and liberals pursue?

When Captain Galvao arrived he was treated in the same way as other people who attempt to land here and are not given leave to land. He was treated with courtesy and consideration. He made no complaint, and, indeed, he appeared appreciative of the arrangements which were made for his refreshment, his rest and his privacy. The only distinction between what happened when he came on 26th October and when he passed through when going back to Morocco on 3rd November, was that on the former occasion he was understood to say that he did not wish to see the Press on that occasion but when he returned through London Airport on 3rd November he said that he was willing to see the Press and he was enabled to do so.

Can the hon. and learned Gentleman confirm whether this mean action against Captain Galvao resulted from consultations which have taken place with the Foreign Office? Can the hon. and learned Gentleman also not realise that the only way his Department can make amends for what was done is to agree to provide a visa for Captain Galvao to come to London? When it is suggested by some of his hon. Friends that Captain Galvao has been guilty of piracy, will the Home Office recognise that in the days of the first Queen Elizabeth some of the most violent fighters for freedom in this country were pirates?

Apart from that part of the supplementary question which deals with Elizabethan pirates, I think the hon. Gentleman will find that his questions are answered in the speech which I made in the Adjournment debate on 13th June.

Is the hon. and learned Gentleman aware that the first time Captain Galvao came here he was in fact accommodated perfectly comfortably, but, as he said to me, as the policeman who had taken him there left he heard the key turning in the lock. Captain Galvao said: "This is the first time that I have been locked in a room by the police since I left Dr. Salazar's regime." Does the hon. and learned Gentleman realise that the only reason why Captain Galvao was not treated in the same way on the second occasion was because a Member of Parliament, in fact myself, went and met him?

People who have to be kept in custody because they have been refused leave to land are provided with these special quarters at London Airport. They are comfortable, but they are special quarters, and it is explained to the people concerned that they are in custody. I understand that it is the usual practice for the entrance to these quarters to be locked. There is nothing unusual about that.

Will the hon. and learned Gentleman answer the simple question, was the Home Office acting on the advice of the Foreign Office?

I answered that question several months ago. The answer is that there are certain cases in which it is right that my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary should obtain the views of my noble Friend the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs. This was done on this occasion, as it is rightly done on a number of occasions.

Owing to the unsatisfactory nature of that reply, I beg to give notice that I will raise this matter on the Adjournment at the earliest possible opportunity.

Eamonn Hamilton

10.

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether he has given further consideration to the additional information about the case of Eamonn Hamilton, given to him by the hon. Member for Ladywood; and whether he will arrange for an inquiry to be held in order to ascertain whether there has been a miscarriage of justice.

I have inquired into this case and can find no grounds for thinking that there may have been a miscarriage of justice.

In relation to the newspaper article which I forwarded to the Home Secretary, may I ask whether he has considered the words which this woman used, namely:

"I took my knife and stuck it in his chest. He dropped. I knew that I had murdered him and I was glad."
This has caused grievous distress to my constituents whose son is serving life imprisonment for this murder. It has also caused distress to the parents of the man who was killed, and in whom my hon. Friend the Member for Liverpool, Exchange (Mrs. Braddock) is interested. In these circumstances, will the right hon. Gentleman cause an inquiry to be made into the matter?

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. Will you clarify a point? As far as we can understand, at least one of the statements read out has appeared only in a newspaper and, therefore, could be quoted only from a newspaper. How does that question differ from the other with regard to your Ruling?

It does not. I was not very good at hearing the hon. Member in the early part of that question. I heard the latter part of it.

I was referring to the newspaper article which I passed to the Home Secretary.

Passing it to anybody does not bring quoting from it into order at Question Time.

Is the Home Secretary aware that all the details were sent to him by me, arising from the fact that I had a visit from the father and mother of the man who was murdered? They are very concerned to think that somebody who may be completely innocent is serving a term of imprisonment. Is there no possibility of the Home Secretary instituting an immediate and full inquiry into the statements in the Press and also the statements that have been sent to him?

The Home Secretary is always in a very difficult situation when a case has been tried and certain decisions have been arrived at. I have not so far received any evidence which would cause me to alter my Answer, but if any hon. Member wishes to see me or bring me further evidence I will certainly examine it.

Is it not extraordinary that an article of this kind can be written in a newspaper—and I understand it has been brought to the attention of the right hon. Gentleman— without any inquiry whatsoever? Will the right hon. Gentleman have an immediate inquiry made to see whether a man who is entirely innocent is serving a term of imprisonment?

If the hon. Lady had listened to my reply, she would have heard that I have inquired into this case. I have made as full inquiries as we ever do in each case on the basis of the evidence submitted. If there is fresh evidence, I will also investigate that.

Owing to the unsatisfactory nature of that reply, I beg to give notice that I will raise this matter on the Adjournment at the earliest possible date.

Immigrants

11.

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether he will include in legislation to control immigration provisions to ensure that potential immigrants do not come into the United Kingdom unless they have undergone proper medical examination in their country of origin.

I would ask my hon. and gallant Friend to await the debate on the Second Reading of the Commonwealth Immigrants Bill.

Foreign Prisoners

13.

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many persons not of United Kingdom origin were in Her Majesty's prisons on 31st December, 1960; if he will state the countries from whence they came; and how much per annum it is costing to keep them in prison.

Is my hon. and learned Friend aware that many members of the public feel that there are large numbers of foreigners in our prisons? In view of the fact that we have so many people sleeping three in a cell and that in any case it costs the taxpayers a lot of money, will he look into the matter?

My hon. Friend's original Question related to persons not of United Kingdom origin, which is a somewhat different question from that of foreigners. However, we are looking into the matter, and it will obviously come up for debate under the Commonwealth Immigrants Bill.

Aliens (Deportation)

14.

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department on how many occasions he used his powers of deportation during 1960; and of what crimes the deportees had been convicted.

One hundred and six aliens were deported, including 53 recommended for deportation by criminal courts. The 53 offences included 27 against property, 13 under the Aliens Order and eight of a sexual character.

Is my hon. and learned Friend aware that there is a growing number of people in Birmingham who are Eire subjects or colonial subjects, who would normally be eligible for deportation if not of United Kingdom origin, and that people are apprehensive about the situation?

My hon. Friend may be anticipating such discussions as may take place on a Bill which is likely to come before the House very soon.

Nuclear Warfare (Shelters)

15.

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he now proposes to introduce into this country, as part of his Civil Defence plans, family fall-out shelters, such as are now being recommended to citizens of the United States of America by the United States Federal Government.

No, Sir. The question of shelter against fall-out is kept under review, but at present my right hon. Friend thinks it is more practical, in the circumstances of this country, to make available advice on the measures that could be taken by the average householder to provide protection in or near his home.

Is the Minister aware that President Kennedy has stated in a broadcast that the American Government have embarked on a large-scale programme of fall-out shelters which it is estimated will save millions of American lives? Do not the Government want to save millions of British lives—or is the position that we cannot afford it?

We do indeed wish to save British lives. The hon. Member may be aware of some of the arrangements we have made. There is obviously no protection against a direct hit—that is generally accepted—but protection against fall-out, which is what the hon. Member is presumably referring to, can be achieved fairly easily by individual householders if they adopt the advice contained in pamphlets already issued. Particulars may be obtained from the nearest Civil Defence headquarters. But for the Government to provide a high degree of protection on a country-wide scale would involve a vast diversion of resources and effort.

Duke V Director Of Public Prosecutions

16.

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department what steps are being taken, in the light of the decision in the case of Duke v. Director of Public Prosecutions and other cases, to remedy a state of the law which the Lord Chief Justice has said might work injustices and considerable hardship.

I am considering the matter in the light of the Lord Chief Justice's comments.

Have not various eminent judges over a long period of time deplored the inability of persons found guilty but insane to appeal to the Court of Criminal Appeal? Is not this necessary amendment to the Criminal Appeal Act long overdue?

This matter was considered by the Atkin Committee in 1923, which recommended against allowing a right of appeal. I am considering the matter in the light of the comments of the Lord Chief Justice, and it may be that I shall have to submit this to the Criminal Law Revision Committee.

Detention Centres

18.

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether, in view of the necessity for maintaining strict discipline, he is prepared to consider the appointment of suitable service officers on the Retired List as wardens or deputy-wardens of detention centres.

No, Sir. The kind of discipline required can best be maintained by members of the Prison Service.

Would not my hon. and learned Friend agree, from his own experience, perhaps, that a little Service experience would be a welcome reinforcement to the efforts of these civilian officers, in relation to the very difficult problem which has to be solved?

I do not think that anybody criticises the state of strict discipline already existing in detention centres. Since there is no shortage of excellent candidates from within the Prison Service for these important posts, I do not think that we need go wider, at least at present.

19.

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department what consideration he has given to the effect upon the strict regime, which he aims at in detention centres, of requiring the disciplinary staff as well as the inmates to wear uniform.

I have decided that disciplinary staff at senior detention centres shall wear uniform. This will be introduced as soon as possible.

Firearms And Ammunition (Amnesty)

21.

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department what was the total quantity of firearms and ammunition handed in at police stations throughout Great Britain as a result of the amnesty announced by him on 3rd August and terminating on 31st October.

27.

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department what the result has been of the recent amnesty for the surrender of firearms in London and the provinces, respectively; and whether the penalties for the unlawful possession of firearms will now be increased.

11,518 firearms and 280,026 rounds of ammunition were surrendered in the Metropolitan Police District and the City of London. Provisional figures show that approximately 54,000 firearms and 1,800,000 rounds of ammunition were surrendered in the rest of Great Britain. As to the penalties for the unlawful possession of firearms, my right hon. Friend is not satisfied that any increase is called for.

Despite the apparent success of the amnesty, is it not clear that there are still very many firearms illegally possessed by members of the public in this country? Although the courts are independent of my hon. and learned Friend and he cannot seek to dictate to them, would it not be reasonable for him now to ask the courts to treat the offence much more severely and impose far more severe penalties?

As to the success of the appeal, I am glad to say that this has been very satisfactory and is a tribute to the public spirit of all those who responded to it. The present maximum penalty is three months' imprisonment or a fine of £50, or both. It is, of course, for the courts to decide what to do in any case brought before them. Those people who, now that the so-called amnesty has come to an end, retain firearms without certificates are acting in breach of the law.

Were they not in breach of the law before the amnesty as well as after it, and does not the amnesty and the collection of this massive armoury of weapons and ammunition show that it is quite impossible for the hon. and learned Gentleman to say that the result has been satisfactory, since he does not know how much in the way of firearms and ammunition is still being illegally held by the public? In the circumstances, does he not feel justified in saying that, after the collection of all this quantity of weapons, those who still retain weapons and ammunition should be subject to a much more severe penalty than three months' imprisonment or a fine?

No, Sir. We feel that the present maximum penalty is adequate to the circumstances.

Commercial Vehicles (Insurance)

22.

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he is now aware of the difficulty experienced by operators of commercial vehicles in getting adequate insurance against theft of the goods they carry; in view of the large number of such thefts, what steps he now proposes to take to deal with this matter; and if he will make a statement.

My hon. Friend has brought some particulars of such difficulties to my notice. It is primarily the responsibility of the owner to protect his vehicle against theft, but the Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis, in consultation with representatives of the operators, is paying special attention to this problem, and the police generally are very ready to advise owners about precautions which can be taken.

Is my hon. and learned Friend aware that the after-dark cover is excluded within 15 miles of Charing Cross unless vehicles are in a locked garage or in a park with an attendant constantly on duty? Further, is he aware that there simply is not a sufficient supply of such places, and the result is that, with inadequate cover, one severe loss will drive a haulier out of business altogether?

Any question of insurance is between the insurance company and the motorist. The security of vehicles is a matter to which the Commissioner of Police is constantly giving attention. In so far as it depends on more off-street parking, I invite my hon. Friend's attention to the increased opportunities which my right hon. Friend the Minister of Transport, with the local authorities, is providing.

Crimes Of Violence (Compensation For Victims)

23.

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether he has now given further consideration to the report of the working party on compensation for victims of crimes of violence; and if he will now introduce a scheme to deal with this matter.

36.

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether he will make a further statement on the question of compensation for the victims of criminal injuries; and whether he will introduce legislation on this matter during the current session.

The White Paper which I presented to Parliament in June made it clear that there were several questions of principle and many practical difficulties to resolve before a decision could be taken to introduce any scheme of compensation. A number of bodies have undertaken to let me have their views on these matters, and I am awaiting these before making any further statement of Government policy.

Will the right hon. Gentleman give an undertaking that, if a practical and workable scheme is submitted to him by bodies such as "Justice", which has set up a widely representative committee on the matter, he will give it serious and sympathetic consideration?

Are there really any difficulties disclosed by the White Paper which could not be solved in a month or two? Will the right hon. Gentleman bear in mind that the longer the matter is delayed the more people will be injured without compensation? Will he keep open the possibility of legislation in this Session?

I do not think that there will be time for legislation this Session. I am aware of the importance of the matter.

Will the Home Secretary do everything he can as soon as possible? Is he aware that there is a widespread feeling both inside and outside the House that something should be done quickly?

Irish And Commonwealth Citizens

26.

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many Irish and Commonwealth citizens have been bound over or placed under suspended sentence on condition that they leave the United Kingdom.

This information could not be provided without special inquiries which would involve an unreasonably large expenditure of time and labour.

Does that Answer mean that the hon. Gentleman admits that such orders have been made and that Irish and Commonwealth citizens in a number of cases have been deported in this rather unusual way?

Yes, of course such orders have been made and indeed their legality has been confirmed, but they are somewhat blunt instruments. The offender is not compelled to leave the country but is given a sort of choice between departure and some other penalty. It is very difficult to prevent him from coming back.

Civil Defence

28.

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department what action is being taken and contemplated, on a more ambitious scale than has so far been the case, to convince men and women willing to serve the community in Civil Defence that it is a worth-while job, by seeing that they have an adequate supply of up-to-date equipment.

Under the revised programme of home defence preparations announced in this year's Defence White Paper, more training equipment of many kinds is being supplied for the Civil Defence Corps and the emergency fire service, and the stockpiling of operational equipment for these and other essential services is continuing. The provision of emergency communications is also being developed.

Is it not a fact that we have heard that sort of promise for many years? Is the hon. and learned Gentleman not aware of the frustration of some Civil Defence volunteers? Will he bear in mind that at Crayford, for instance, the unit has to share a utility vehicle with Bexley and Erith? Would he not help them at least to decide who gets the priority if the balloon goes up, Erith, Bexley or Crayford, for the one utility van?

The disposition and use of any particular equipment within any particular Civil Defence authority is a matter for that authority, but, as the hon. Member knows, in this year's Defence White Paper we have increased expenditure by 20 per cent. I know from my own observation by visiting Civil Defence authorities that there is now a fairly plentiful supply of training equipment. If the Kent County authority has any shortage it should make representations to us and we shall see what we can do about it.

Is the hon. and learned Gentleman aware that quite a number of people are still retaining their gas masks from the last war? Will he give some instructions in that respect?

Experiments On Living Animals

29.

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many inspectors are now employed under the Cruelty to Animals Act, 1876, to enforce the provisions of that Act relating to experiments on living animals; and whether he will appoint additional inspectors in view of the increase in such experiments in recent years.

My right hon. Friend recently decided to increase the number of inspectors from five to six, and a competition is in progress to fill the additional post.

Is the Minister aware that when this Act came into force in 1876 two inspectors were appointed and at that time there were about 300 experiments a year on live animals? Now that there are about 3½million experiments a year, does he not think that rather more than six inspectors are needed to enforce the standards laid down by Parliament?

The increase in these experiments—although there is an overall increase—is in the form of standard experiments very largely to ensure the purity of medicines which are not allowed to be tested chemically but have to be tested biologically under the Orders of this House under the Therapeutic Substances Act. Many of these are routine experiments in the sense that they are mere injections and not surgery. Provided that the system is properly enforced and properly inspected, as it is, the mere fact that we do not have proportionately the same number of inspectors as we had in the last century need not cause the hon. Member too much disturbance.

Is my hon. and learned Friend aware that there is quite an amount of concern among people who are not anti-vivisectionists on this subject? Will he undertake that the inspectors responsible for issuing licences and supervising establishments in which experiments on animals are carried out assure themselves that such experiments are not repetitive and are necessary in order to increase and improve medical science and knowledge?

Yes, certainly. I know that there is anxiety. Most of the anxiety, I think, is due to some ignorance of what these experiments are. I can certainly give the undertaking for which my hon. Friend asks.

Will my hon. and learned Friend take it from me that the ignorance on this matter is not completely on one side, and that there is great feeling in the country that there is inadequate inspection? Frankly, it would pay a very large dividend in public opinion if he did something about this matter.

We are appointing another inspector, but we have certainly listened to what my hon. Friend and other hon. Members have said this afternoon.

Chancellor Of The Exchequer (Speech)

Q1.

asked the Prime Minister if the speech of the Chancellor of the Exchequer on economic policy on 28th October at Leicester represents the policy of Her Majesty's Government.

Is the Prime Minister aware that, according to the report in The Times,the Chancellor said that he had been unable to forecast the extent of the economic problem? Further, is he aware that The Timesreports today, from its correspondent in Geneva, that the international trade report of the G.A.T.T. shows that the British share of the British overseas sterling markets dropped from 62 per cent. in 1950 to 40 per cent. in 1960? Does not this confirm the enormous neglect of the past ten years? Since the Chancellor of the Exchequer admitted some of the blame, will the Prime Minister accept part of the blame for the mistakes that have been made?

My right hon. and learned Friend covered this matter very fully in his speech to the House on Tuesday. I should have thought that he showed extreme foresight in his Budget by asking Parliament for additional regulators in case the very severe deflationary effect of a £500 million surplus was not in itself sufficient.

If the Prime Minister says that the speech made by the Chancellor at Leicester on 28th October did represent the policy of Her Majesty's Government, is it not very fortunate that that speech was reported by the newspapers, even though the Chancellor subsequently said that he had said something quite different?

That matter also was dealt with by the Chancellor of the Exchequer.

Does the right hon. Gentleman consider that the remission of Surtax was another example of foresight?

The remission of Surtax does not become effective until next year.

Security Services (Radcliffe Committee Report)

Q2.

asked the Prime Minister when the Radcliffe Committee report on the security services will be received.

I understand that the Radcliffe Committee expects to submit its report very soon.

Will the Committee's report be made available to the witnesses, having regard to the fact that the witnesses were selected by the Committee and, in the main, most of them knew more about the security services than the Committee itself? Since we are not, as I understand it, to have the report published, would it not be a good thing, and give confidence to the public, if the witnesses who gave evidence had a chance to see how the Committee reacted to the evidence they gave?

I shall consider that, but I should not have thought that it was the usual practice. The first thing is for me to await reception of the report and then any question about whether it can be published in part or in whole would be open for decision then. I shall, of course, follow what I think has been the practice in these matters, as I did earlier, and consult the Leader of the Opposition as soon as the report is available.

Minister For Civil Defence

Q3.

asked the Prime Minister, in view of the growing concern in the country over Government plans for the defence of the civil population in the event of nuclear war, if he will appoint a Minister for Civil Defence.

Is the Prime Minister aware that there is widespread and growing concern in the country about the possible fate of the civil population in the event of nuclear war? Is he aware of a statement recently made by Sir William Stratton, the Inspector-General of Civil Defence, who said that the plans for evacuating 12 million people have to be revised because estimates of destructiveness have now to be increased and new plans are being arranged? Does not the Prime Minister think that this is beyond the capacity of either the Home Secretary or the Secretary of State for Scotland to handle?

Of course, we all know the terrible dangers, but this Question relates to the present Ministerial arrangements, and I think that they are satisfactory.

If it is necessary to have the military defence of the United Kingdom under one head, is it not equally reasonable that the civil defence, which is very important, should be under one command also?

I do not think as a matter of administration it is a wise thing to set up a new department. The Home Secretary is in general control and the departmental heads of other Departments concerned—local government, health and so on—work together under him.

Does not the Prime Minister think it would be a very good idea to have a closer look at this problem? Does he not recognise that involved in it is the question of providing deep air-raid shelters, food, drinking water and the question of whether we can segregate contaminated areas from uncontaminated areas? Is it not essential in the interests of the people of the country and those who are likely to survive that we should have a coordinated plan for Civil Defence? Will he kindly have a further look at this matter?

Of course we are continually reviewing the situation. What I am dealing with today is whether the appointment of a single Minister is likely to increase the efficiency of all the Departments concerned.

In view of the right hon. Gentleman's well-known anxious care for the name and thought of England, could he not spare a few minutes to look after the safety of its people?

I think that anyone who knows the work of the Government knows that these matters are continually being put forward either in the Defence Committee or another part of the Government's organisation.

Offices Act, 1960

4.

asked the Prime Minister when, and for what purpose, responsibility for making regulations under the Offices Act, 1960, was transferred from the Secretary of State for the Home Department to the Minister of Labour.

There has been no formal transfer of responsibility. As a matter of practical convenience my right hon. Friend the Minister of Labour has been dealing with matters arising under the Offices Act, since the subject is closely linked with the Government's comprehensive legislation on shops, offices and railway premises which he will be introducing next Session.

While accepting that the Ministry of Labour is a proper Department for this work, may I ask if the right hon. Gentleman can give us an assurance that this change was not made in order to save the face of his right hon. Friend the Home Secretary from the many undertakings which he has given? If the Prime Minister is not concerned about the welfare of office workers, is he not at least concerned about the integrity of his Government? Will he not instruct the Minister of Labour to desist from his unconstitutional refusal to make regulations under an Act of Parliament?

I have said that this change was made as a matter of practical convenience. I think the hon. Member himself accepts that.

Are we to take it that there has been no transfer of responsibility and that it still remains the responsibility of the Home Secretary under the Act of 1960 to make regulations under an Act which will come into force on 1st January? Although we have had statements from the Minister of Labour and the Leader of the House, may we take it that the Prime Minister is not intending to shield the Home Secretary from his obvious responsibility to make regulations under the Act? Is he further aware that if he fails to make arrangements he will be acting in clear defiance of the will of Parliament?

It is not proposed, as has been explained, to make regulations because, even under Section 1 (4) of the Act, that would take considerable time in consultations with interested organisations and so forth. It seems better, as a Bill is being drafted in the Ministry of Labour, for the Minister of Labour to be responsible for it.

Is it not a fact that when the Joint Under-Secretary of the Home Office made a firm promise to lay these regulations he said that the only event in which they would not be laid would be if the Government introduced comprehensive legislation instead? Is it not a rather shabby manoeuvre to dodge a firm promise?

No, it is intended to introduce this Measure in the next Session. If we were to go through all the complicated business of consultation under the existing Act it would merely confuse the authorities and organisations and would not speed up the matter.

Is not the Prime Minister aware that a very firm undertaking was given by the Government that comprehensive legislation would be introduced before the Bill sponsored by my hon. Friend the Member for Greenwich (Mr. Marsh) became law, that is to say, at the beginning of next year? Is it not quite unsatisfactory to have this matter postponed for another year? Is the Prime Minister further aware that it is no excuse to say that negotiations and discussions have to take place, for there have been such discussions; they have been taking place over the past six or nine months? Will the right hon. Gentleman have another look at the matter and see whether it is possible to introduce the comprehensive legislation which we have been promised in this Parliamentary Session?

Of course I will have a look at it, but I would think it would be much more satisfactory to have a full and comprehensive Bill which will be introduced in the next Session.

Will my right hon. Friend make everyone aware of the dilemma we must be in in that there is a call for alteration in the Offices Act but in fact the whole answer of the Opposition to our economic policy is to stop new office building?

Would the Prime Minister agree that now that the Minister of Labour is looking after these things he will know that at any rate within those industries covered by the Factories Acts there has been a very substantial increase in accidents in the last year? Is that not a good reason why we should have the comprehensive legislation immediately rather than permitting more and more accidents in shops and offices which at the moment we cannot even register?

Of course I should like to have it as soon as possible, but it does not seem practicable to have it this Session.

Business Of The House

Will the Leader of the House state the business of the House for next week?

Yes, Sir. The business for next week will be as follows:

MONDAY, 13TH NOVEMBER—Second Reading of the Education Bill,and Committee stage of the Money Resolution.

As already announced, we hope then to obtain the Second Reading of the Health Visitors and Social Workers Training Bill, and the Committee stage of the Money Resolution.

TUESDAY, 14TH NOVEMBER—Second Reading of the Sea Fish Industry Bill, and Committee stage of the Money Resolution.

Consideration of the Motion to approve the White Fish and Herring Industries (Grants for Fishing Vessels, Engines and Conversions) (Amendment) Scheme.

WEDNESDAY, 15TH NOVEMBER—Committee and remaining stages of the Expiring Laws Continuance Bill.

If not previously obtained, the Second Reading of the Export Guarantees Bill, and Committee stage of the Money Resolution.

Consideration of the Motions to approve the Import Duties (General) (No. 7) Order, and the Motor Vehicles (Tests) (Extension) Order.

THURSDAY, 16TH NOVEMBER—Second Reading of the Commonwealth Immigrants Bill, and Committee stage of the Money Resolution.

FRIDAY, 17TH NOVEMBER—Committee and remaining stages of the Export Guarantees Bill.

Second Reading of the Civil Aviation (Eurocontrol) Bill, and Committee stage of the Money Resolution

MONDAY, 20TH NOVEMBER and TUESDAY, 21ST NOVEMBER—The proposed business will be for a two-day debate: the Second Reading of the Transport Bill, and Committee stage of the Money Resolution.

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the Second Reading of the Education Bill may well take the whole of Monday? In that case, will he give an assurance that the Government will not persist at a very late hour with the Second Reading of the Health Visitors and Social Workers Training Bill? May I also ask whether the arrangement which was arrived at last year, whereby the Opposition have two Supply days before Christmas, is accepted for this year?

I certainly will not try to proceed with the Health Visitors and Social Workers Training Bill, which is an important Bill, at an unreasonable hour. The answer to the second question is, "Yes, Sir".

Is my right hon. Friend consulting the Minister of Transport, as he apparently promised last week, to see whether we can have a full day's debate on shipbuilding and shipping? Will that debate take place before we have the Transport Bill, in view of the fact that most people in the country are profoundly disturbed by what is going on in shipbuilding and shipping and that those of us who are interested in our maritime nation want to know where we stand?

I have had discussions on this matter, as I promised the right hon. Member for Easington (Mr. Shinwell) last week that I would. The Minister is having discussions with the industry on the recent Report, and I suggest that we should not consider this matter further until these discussions are concluded. But I will bear in mind what has been said last week and this week about the desirability of time for this subject.

On a point of order. Owing to the unsatisfactory nature of that reply, I beg to give notice that I will raise the matter on the Adjournment with my right hon. Friend for a change, in order that he may defend the liberties of the House in this matter.

In the light of the number of Questions which have been asked this afternoon, may I ask the Leader of the House whether time will be found for a debate on the specific subject of Civil Defence? Also, can he hold out any hope of a debate on the Albemarle Report on the Youth Service? It was a very valuable Report, which has not received the consideration in the House which it deserves.

On neither of those subjects at this stage can I promise Government time. They are suitable perhaps either for private Members' time or Supply time.

Is my right hon. Friend aware—I am sure he is—that one of the days in the last Session promised for a debate on the Public Accounts Committee and the Estimates Committee was postponed or lost? On 1st August his predecessor gave a definite and unqualified pledge that it would be made up early this Session. I do not press my right hon. Friend for an answer now, because it is a complicated matter, but will he at any rate say that he has not forgotten this and that this pledge will be kept?

Yes, Sir. I am aware of the position. We will take into account what was said by my predecessor in planning these days for this Session.

Is the right hon. Gentleman satisfied that one day is sufficient on Thursday for the very important Commonwealth Immigrants Bill, particularly in view of the fact that I understand that two days are being given to the Transport Bill? Will he consider the possibility of allowing a longer time for Thursday's business?

I do not think that I could undertake to have longer than one day for this matter. It has been before the House for just over a fortnight, and I am sure that whatever our views on this subject it is desirable that the views of parties in the House should be on record and that we should proceed to remove doubts and anxieties as soon as we can.

Is it proposed to restore to the Order Paper the Motion which stood on the Order Paper last Session about a possible Joint Committee of both Houses to consider the position of Peers and other matters affecting another place?

I will certainly undertake to put a Government Motion on the Order Paper, but I will not undertake that it will be in precisely the same language as the previous Motion, which has not met unqualified approval from all quarters.

Does what the right hon. Gentleman has just said indicate a definite change of view on the part of the Government? The right hon. Gentleman will remember that his predecessor refused to consider any amendment of the terms of reference. May we be a little clearer on this matter?

Yes, Sir. I hope to have discussions with the right hon. Gentleman and others at a fairly early date on this matter. If we can obtain agreement I am prepared to consider an amendment to the previous Motion.

Is it the Government's intention, as reported in the newspapers, to put a Motion on the Order Paper to set up a Select Committee on Procedure with a view to making recommendations for the further expedition of the business of the House?

Has the right hon. Gentleman seen a Motion on the Order Paper dealing with pit closures and railway closures in Scotland, and signed by every Scottish Member on this side of the House? It will be the general wish that this matter should be debated at an early date.

[ That this House calls upon Her Majesty's Government to appoint an independent committee to inquire into and report upon the social and economic consequences of the pit closures in Scotland proposed by the National Coal Board and the railway closures and curtailment of services in Scotland proposed by the British Transport Commission; and further calls upon Her Majesty's Government to direct that these closures and curtailment of services will not take effect until the report of the committee has been received and considered.]

Yes, Sir. I have studied that matter. It is the view of my right hon. Friend the Minister of Power that an inquiry as suggested by the Motion is perhaps not necessary, and I imagine that some at least of the aspects of the Motion, subject to your guidance, Mr. Speaker, will be in order during the two-day debate on the Transport Bill.

In view of the deplorable state of Civil Defence, will the Leader of the House reconsider his decision that in the type of world in which we are living this is a subject only for private Members' time?

With respect, that was not what I said. I said that I could not promise Government time.

A large number of hon. Members on both sides of the House are very anxious to take part in the debate on the Commonwealth Immigrants Bill. As a second day is not to be made available, will my right hon. Friend consider giving us an extra hour after ten o'clock for this discussion?

I will, of course, consider the views of the House in this matter and have any discussions which might be appropriate.

Is the Leader of the House aware that his reply to my hon. Friend the Member for Hamilton (Mr. T. Fraser) is completely unsatisfactory? His answer referred merely to the transport aspect, but we in Scotland are very much concerned about the serious position arising from the pit closures in Scotland. Will he consider giving us time to debate the question of those closures?

I understand the anxiety felt by hon. Members about these matters, and I thought that I had associated myself with it. However, my answer was correct, that some railway aspects of it at least would be in order on the Transport Bill. We are now concerned with next week's business, and I cannot promise Government time for this Motion.

Does not the Leader of the House appreciate that these two items of pit closures and the projected changes in respect of railway lines and trains are of such importance to the whole economy of Scotland that it is most unfair to suggest that they should be discussed only incidentally during the course of a debate on a Bill? I ask the Leader of the House to put these matters in their proper perspective and ensure that we get a day in which to debate them.

I did not by any means suggest that the two-day debate on the Transport Bill was the only opportunity. In my first reply to the Leader of the Opposition I confirmed that the Opposition have at their disposal two Supply days before Christmas.

If hon. Members representing Scottish constituencies feel that this is a matter which should be discussed on one of those days, no doubt they will make representations to the Leader of the Opposition.

Will the right hon. Gentleman reconsider his decision on the Albemarle Report? Will he consult his right hon. Friend the Home Secretary, who is very enthusiastic about the Report and who will probably be able to persuade him to realise that it is extremely important that there should be a debate on it?

I must tell the House frankly that I cannot at this stage, when the Government are anxious to get the Second Readings under way so that the Committee stages can be proceeded with, see any prospect of Government time being provided for this purpose.

Many of us greatly deplore the fact that two days are not to be allotted to the Second Reading of the Commonwealth Immigrants Bill, but can the Leader of the House at least give us an assurance that the Committee stage will be taken on the Floor of the House?

No, Sir. This is not a constitutional Bill. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."] No, it is not. In any event, there is no set procedure that constitutional Bills are necessarily taken on the Floor of the House. The Government, in the ordinary way, propose that this Bill be sent to a standing Committee.

May I revert to the Scottish question? Does the right hon. Gentleman realise that very important policy considerations are involved? There is a strong feeling in Scotland that the Government are embarking on a policy of closing every service in Scotland which is not showing a commercial profit? In those circumstances, if the Leader of the House cannot find time for the Motion to be debated on the Floor of the House in Government time, will he consult his right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Scotland with a view—this would be a very bad alternative, but it would at least be something—to it being debated in the Scottish Grand Committee?

Yes, Sir. I was already aware of the anxieties of Scottish Members about these matters. The questions which have been put to me this afternoon obviously reinforced my feeling. I will discuss this matter with the Secretary of State.

On a point of order. Mr. Speaker, is not the reply which the Leader of the House has just given to the effect that the Commonwealth Immigrants Bill is not a constitutional Bill a matter on which you might reasonably rule? I sat on the Select Committee on Procedure which dealt with this. I am not making a party point to the Leader of the House. I hope he will believe that. My view is that this is a constitutional Bill in the context in which we considered constitutional Bills in the Select Committee. I hope that there will be some consultation about this, because I am sure that the Leader of the House would not wish to mislead anybody.

I have no desire to mislead anybody on this subject. I inquired into this, because it was an obvious question which might be raised this afternoon, and I was informed that it was not a constitutional Bill. I will gladly, if necessary, recheck my advice.

Further to the point of order raised by my hon. Friend the Member for Leeds, West (Mr. C. Pannell). We have not had the advantage of a Ruling from you about it, Mr. Speaker. May I submit this to you, Sir?

It was not a point of order. I did not feel that it was right for me to indicate which was the right view between the two opposing views, as it did not involve order.

In a moment, no doubt. I do not know what the Leader of the Opposition desired to ask when I called him.

I am concerned about the same question, Sir. Is the Leader of the House aware that his answer to the question whether the Commonwealth Immigrants Bill is to be taken in Committee of the whole House or in Standing Committee has caused considerable surprise on these benches? Whether or not it be strictly speaking in order for the Bill to be taken upstairs, is the Leader of the House aware that this Bill is of very great importance to the Commonwealth, that it raises extremely far-reaching issues, and that it would be very undesirable that it should be taken upstairs? It would be far better if it were taken on the Floor of the House, where the public generally can follow the arguments for or against far more easily.

It is, of course, a Bill of the very first importance. I have undertaken to recheck this with the best advice I have available to me, but in my own view it is not a constitutional Bill, although I imagine this is a matter which is very difficult to define. Accordingly, the view of the Government is that it would be appropriate for the Bill to be considered by a Standing Committee.

May I press the Leader of the House on this? Whether or not it is always the rule that a constitutional Bill is taken on the Floor of the House, surely the right hon. Gentleman is not suggesting that no other Bills are taken on the Floor of the House? Is it not the fact that in the normal course of events anything which is of this degree of importance—as it happens, it is not a very long Bill— should be taken on the Floor of the House?

I should have thought that the precedents would argue against the Leader of the Opposition on this, because the majority of Bills which are taken on the Floor of the House are taken on Fridays and other days—[HON. MEMBERS: "No."] Yes, as is happening this Friday and on succeeding Fridays at this stage. This, obviously, does not apply to a Bill of this importance; this Bill could not conceivably be dealt with in that way. Everybody would at least agree about that. That being so, I think that the view I have expressed to the House is the right one.

Is not my right hon. Friend mistaken in assuming that there is some technical distinction between constitutional Bills and Bills which are not constitutional? Is not that a fundamental misunderstanding of the situation at which our procedure has arrived?

About a quarter of a century ago my hon. Friend tried to teach me constitutional history and law.

I expect so, but we cannot tell whether that was the fault of the pupil or the master. I did not mean to imply that there was any hard and fast line. What I said was that there is not, in fact, a requirement that a Bill, even if it be what one calls a constitutional Bill, is automatically taken on the Floor of the House.

Is it not true that there could not be any such requirement, but that there is in fact a well-established practice that Bills which amount to what would in rigid Constitutions be classified as constitutional should be taken on the Floor of the House? Is it not always extremely regrettable when, as happened sometimes under the former Socialist Administration, Bills with a clear constitutional content are sent upstairs?

I agree with that. I think that by convention such Bills are taken in general on the Floor of the House. But I do not accept the contention made from the other side of the House that this Bill should be so included.

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that because of its economic state now no coloured immigrants will want to come to Scotland? Will he, therefore, consider leaving Scotland out of this Bill?

If I may revert to the two Scottish issues already mentioned, the right hon. Gentleman said earlier that he would let the Opposition "carry the can" for the Government's policy. Is he still adhering to that decision, or does he propose to abandon it in view of the fact that during our debate on the coal industry it was stated that the closing of pits was part and parcel of Government policy? As the Government bear the responsibility for this, ought they not to provide the time to debate it?

I do not think that I can add much to the answers I have already given, and, in particular, the answer that I gave to the hon. Member for Fife, West (Mr. W. Hamilton), that I would consult my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Scotland on the proposals put to me.

I should like to revert to the problem of the Commonwealth Immigrants Bill. Is it not admitted on both sides that as this is a distinct departure from our traditional attitude to our fellow subjects of the Queen living overseas, and the whole of the former Colonies that have become independent, it ought to receive the full consideration of this House before such a tremendous departure is made, particularly as it seems we shall be sorting out in Liverpool or the Tyneside the exact position of a person born in the southern part of Ireland, or feeling allegiance to that part, and what, in future will be our relationship to our fellow citizens?

I have always acknowledged the immense importance of this departure. I said so to the House eight months ago when answering Questions as Secretary of State for the Colonies. But, after all, the House will consider the Bill on Second Reading, on Report and on Third Reading, and will have full opportunity then. The question is whether the Committee stage as well should be added to those three stages. The view I put before the House is that it should not.

But is it not the duty of the Leader of the House to carry out the will of the House? Is it not clear from the very strong representations that have been made not only from those of us in front of the right hon. Gentleman, but from his own back benches, that there is an overwhelming feeling in the House that this is a matter that concerns every one of us, and that it would be quite intolerable if this Bill were to be sent to a Standing Committee where only 16 of my hon. Friends would have a chance of discussing, line by line and detail by detail, this fundamentally important Bill? Will not the right hon. Gentleman, therefore, bow to the will of the House, clearly expressed on this matter, and take the discussion on the Floor of the House?

I would not think, with respect, that the point of view that has been put forward, which is certainly held very strongly, is by any means as unanimous as the hon. Lady believes. It is quite clear that three of the four stages of the Bill will be taken in this Chamber. The question we are discussing now is whether the fourth stage should be added to that, and I have made my view clear to the House. I shall, of course, take into account the representations that the House has made.

Viscount Hinchingbrooke