House Of Lords
Wednesday, 1st June, 1960
The House met at half past two of the the clock, The LORD CHANCELLOR on the Woolsack.
Prayers—Read by the Lord Bishop of Manchester
The Lord Bishop Of Chester
Gerald Alexander, Lord Bishop of Chester—Was (in the usual manner) introduced.
Sir Hubert Miles Gladwyn Jebb, G.C.M.G., G.C.V.O., C.B., having been created Baron Gladwyn, of Bramfield in the County of Suffolk—Was (in the usual manner) introduced
Business Of The House
My Lords, it may be for the convenience of the House if I draw your Lordships' attention to the arrangements which have been made, through the usual channels, for the House to meet at 2 o'clock tomorrow instead of the usual time of 3 o'clock, in view of the large number of Amendments remaining to be taken in the Committee stage of the Betting and Gaming Bill.
Scholarships To Commonwealth Universities
My Lords, I beg leave to ask the Question which stands in my name on the Order Paper.
[The Question was as follows:
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they will consider giving permission for up to 100 of the 2,000 state scholarships annually awarded in this country to be tenable at Canadian or other Commonwealth universities if the recipient so elects.]
My Lords, the question of awards to students attending first degree courses at universities has been under consideration by a Committee appointed by Her Majesty's Government under the Chairmanship of Sir Colin Anderson. The report of the Committee has now been received and Her Majesty's Government will consider this matter in the light of the Committee's recommendations.
My Lords, I am much obliged to the Government spokesman for his Answer. Could he give us some indication of when we shall have the Report of the Committee?
My Lords, I think it is being published to-morow. I do not think I am far wrong.
My Lords, I hope the noble Viscount will accelerate consideration of this particular matter—the more specific and smaller matter than the wider terms of reference—which the noble Lord, Lord Tweedsmuir, has placed upon the Order Paper to-day. It appears to me—and I am sure the noble Viscount will agree—that both in Canada and in Australia, and maybe in other parts of the Commonwealth, there are a number of universities with very high academic standards, offering wide opportunities to their students, perhaps wider in some respects than we can offer in this country. Would the noble Viscount not agree that it is most desirable to make it possible for boys and girls from our own schools, if they so elect, to proceed to those universities? May we hope that any obstacles that may exist for the encouragement of such movement will be swept aside?
My Lords, I will convey to my right honourable friend the substance of the noble Lord's supplementary question. I would say, however, that there are other Governments to be considered in the matter, apart from our own. I would agree that it is a separate matter from most of the contents of the Anderson Report, but I think we should need to have consultation with the Commonwealth Governments before I could give an answer to that.
My Lords, I would ask the noble Viscount, in the light of his reply, if an important consideration would not be the matter of cost in this regard, by reason of the unfortunate increased cost of maintenance of undergraduates at universities in the Commonwealth outside the United Kingdom, and the cost of transport to and fro. I would also ask whether another consideration is not that of the pressure of university space. Would not the success of the proposal of the noble Lord, Lord Tweedsmuir, depend on reciprocity between Commonwealth countries and the United Kingdom? I believe it would not be a good thing if either Canadian or Australian undergraduates were kept out of their universities by reason of United Kingdom undergraduates taking their places, and vice versa. Therefore, I would ask the noble Viscount if the question of reciprocity in this general regard between the United Kingdom and other Commonwealth countries would not be an essential prerequisite of the success of the proposal.
My Lords, I had the question of space predominantly in my mind when I made the answer I did about consultation. The question of cost I had not considered, but, of course, it is one of the matters which would ordinarily form part of the Government's consideration before arriving at a conclusion on this matter.
Report Of Television Advisory Committee
My Lords, I beg leave to ask the Question which stands in my name on the Order Paper.
[The Question was as follows:
To ask Her Majesty's Government when the Report of the Television Advisory Committee will be available.]
My Lords, copies of the Report were placed in the Printed Paper Office at 1 p.m. to-day. A copy has also been placed in the Library.
I thank my noble friend.
Medical Auxiliaries' Salaries And Conditions
My Lords, I beg leave to ask the Question which stands in my name on the Order Paper.
[The Question was as follows:
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether, having regard to the general satisfaction felt at the result of the Royal Commission on Doctors' Remuneration and the Government implementation of its recommendations, and having regard also to the new importance now being attached to medical auxiliaries, as evidenced by the passage through Parliament of the Professions Supplementary to Medicine Bill, they will now set up a Royal Commission or other appropriate body to inquire into the salaries and conditions of work of the professional persons covered by this Bill.]
My Lords, In the view of Her Majesty's Government, the special circumstances which led to the decision to set up the Royal Commission on Doctors' and Dentists' Remuneration have no application to the professions covered by the Professions Supplementary to Medicine Bill. This Bill, which has now received its Second Reading in your Lordships' House, is, of course, concerned solely with providing for the registration, training and discipline of the members of the professions concerned. The remuneration and conditions of service of members of the professions employed in the National Health Service are negotiated by the National Health. Service Professional and Technical Whitley Councils A and B, and Her Majesty's Government consider that normal opportunities for negotiation provided by this machinery are fully adequate for their purpose.
My Lords, with respect, does not this look like one law for the doctors and another law for the supplementary workers, without whom the doctors would be powerless to do their jobs? Does my noble friend know that the supplementary workers are not satisfied with the Whitley Council, and will he reconsider the Answer which he has given?
My Lords, before the noble Viscount replies, may I ask whether he is not aware that there are Whitley Councils for the doctors, but that that fact did not stop the setting up of a Royal Commission for them? These professions are in an infinitely worse financial position than the doctors, and while not subscribing completely to the noble Lord's observations about doctors and the supplementary professsions, I would agree that the value of their work is very great and their remuneration very poor.
My Lords, before the noble Viscount replies—
Could I answer one question at a time? We are getting rather numerous supplementary questions. I promise the noble Baroness that she shall be next. I cannot for an instant accept the proposition that because a Royal Commission is set up to discuss the remuneration in one profession, in all other cases of wage negotiations it is to be treated as a slight on the employees if a Royal Commission is not set up in that profession, too. That seems to me to be the wrong way of approaching the matter; and it would, in fact, be a counsel of despair in all wage negotiations.In reply to the noble Lord, Lord Taylor, I would say that the circumstances which led to the appointment of the Royal Commission were that a fundamental disagreement had developed between the Government and the two professions about the basis upon which the professions' remuneration in the Health Service ought to be determined. Complex questions had arisen, such as the precise meaning of what had been implied by Government acceptance in principle of the three Spens Reports drawn up before the Health Service was brought into being in July, 1948. According to the Royal Commission, the disputes which arose did
I should hardly think that a comparable situation had arisen in relation to the seven supplementary professions. I think it is fair to say, in answer to my noble friend Lord Fraser of Lonsdale, that since October, 1959, the National Health Service salaries and sessional fees of six of the seven professions covered by the Bill have been increased by agreements freely arrived at on the appropriate Whiteley Council. The salaries of the remaining class, the radiographers, were determined, in default of agreement, by an award of the Industrial Court, effective from February 1, 1959. In all cases the increases were more than would have been justified by increases in the cost of living alone, and in some cases where very considerable."nothing to promote the smooth working of the National Health Service."
My Lords, could the noble and learned Viscount indicate the criteria which determine whether a dispute about the remuneration of a particular profession should be settled by a Royal Commission or by some body of lesser eminence?
I think that, clearly, the criterion is that a Royal Commission should be invoked for any sort of inquiry only when the ordinary machinery is either not working or will not work.
My Lords, I am sure the noble and learned Viscount is absolutely right in rejecting the suggestion of a Royal Commission, but is he aware, as we who have charge of hospitals are aware, that these people are disgracefully under-paid, a fact which creates great difficulties in the running of hospitals? Whilst conceding all he says about the Whitley Councils, I would ask him whether he would have a word with his right honourable friend to see if something could be done. After all, the last increase for radiographers was in February last year, and they are surely entitled now to a further increase.
I think I must assume in all wage negotiations that the ordinary negotiating machinery should be used first.
International Law In Space
My Lords, I beg leave to ask the Question which stands in my name on the Order Paper.
[The Question was as follows:
To ask Her Majesty's Government what consideration has been given to the question of International Law in space and its enforcement.]
My Lords, Her Majesty's Government themselves have naturally given consideration to these matters in the past and are continuing to do so. Inter-Governmental discussions on questions of space law took place in the United Nations ad hoc Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space in 1959. In December, 1959, the United Nations General Assembly adopted a unanimous resolution setting up a 24-nation Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space to work during 1960 and 1961. The Committee (and I quote) is instructed to
It is hoped that the Committee will begin its work shortly. The Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, the United States of America and the United Kingdom are all members of it. If the noble Viscount has a specific point in mind and will be good enough to put a question down I will do my best to answer it."study the nature of legal problems which may arise from the exploration of outer space."
My Lords, I have a specific point in mind. In the opinion of Her Majesty's Government, is it legal for us to participate in or facilitate the present aerial survey of the Soviet Union?
My Lords, does not the noble and learned Viscount think that until we know how to run our own space a little better than we do, we had better leave outer space alone?
May I have a reply to the question which I put to the noble Viscount?
I told the noble Viscount that if he had a specific point in mind and would put it down, I should be very happy to reply. That was in my original Answer.
My Lords, I have put a point, a very specific point, a very immediate point, especially in view of the orders given to Marshal Malinovsky to take action in case of the invasion of territorial air in Russia, without waiting for orders from the Kremlin. That makes it urgent; and, if the noble Viscount would permit me, it is a simple, specific question: is it legal or illegal to carry on this aerial survey of a foreign country?
Whatever else the aerial survey may refer to, it did not refer to outer space, but the noble Viscount's Question did. If the noble Viscount will put his particular question down, I will, as I have now promised him twice, endeavour to answer that one, too.
There is no reference to "outer space" in the Question.
I understand that "space" does not mean the atmosphere.
House Of Lords Offices
Order of the Day read for the consideration of the Second Report from the Select Committee.
The Committee reported as follows:
1.—RETIREMENT OF THE CLERK OF THE JOURNALS
The Committee learnt with regret of the retirement on April 1, 1960. of Mr. Clifford Fortescue Loftus St. George. C.B.E., after forty-two years in the service of the House and sanctioned the payment to him of a pension and additional allowance under the Superannuation Acts.
2.—RE-ARRANGEMENT OF STAFF IN THE PARLIAMENT OFFICE
The Committee were informed that the Clerk of the Parliaments had appointed—
The Committee authorised a new post on the staff of the Parliament Office of a higher executive officer from April 1, 1960, and approved the scale of salary for this post.
The Committee also sanctioned the payment of an annual allowance to the Personal Assistant acting as Secretary to the Clerk of the Parliaments from April 1, 1960.
3.—EXAMINER OF PETITIONS FOR PRIVATE BILLS
The Committee were informed of the appointment of Mr. Peter Stuart-Heaton as Examiner of Petitions for Private Bills in the place of Mr. A. H. Jeffreys.
4.—REVISED SCALES OF PAY
The Committee sanctioned the application of Establishments Circular No. 5/60 Executive Officers, Higher Clerical Officers, etc. revised scales of pay to analogous grades of the staff of the House of Lords.
The Committee authorised the consequential increase in the Estimates for 1959–60 and 1960–61.
5.—SUPPLEMENTARY ESTIMATE 1959–60
The Committee approved a Supplementary Estimate for the year 1959–60 submitted to meet expected excess expenditure due mainly to revised rates of pay and also to the further provision required for repayment of expenses to Peers.
6.—DEPARTMENT OF THE LORD GREAT CHAMBERLAIN
The Committee authorised the appointment of an additional temporary personal assistant in the Office of the Lord Great Chamberlain during the absence on sick leave of one of the clerical staff.
7.—RETIREMENT OF A DOORKEEPER
The Committee sanctioned the payment of a pension and additional allowance under the Superannuation Acts to Mr. Gordon Benjamin Wade who retired on the 23rd April, 1960.
8.—RETIREMENT OF A CUSTODIAN
The Committee sanctioned the payment of a gratuity under the Superannuation Acts to Mr. Arthur Samuel Emmett on his retirement on the 26th July, 1960.
9.—RETIREMENT OF HEAD HOUSEMAID
The Committee sanctioned the payment of a gratuity under the Superannuation Acts to Mrs. Margaret Smith who retired on the 5th March, 1960, after thirty-seven years' service.
My Lords, I beg to move that this Report be now considered.
Moved, That the Report be now considered.—( Lord Merthyr.)
On Question, Motion agreed to.
My Lords, I beg to move that this Report be agreed to. In so doing, I think the only thing that I need say at the outset is that perhaps your Lordships would like to be associated with the action of the Committee, who asked me to write to Mr. St. George, lately Clerk of the Journals of this House, conveying to him our thanks for his continuous period of forty-two years' service to the House and our best wishes upon his retirement. If there are any questions which any noble Lord would like to ask about this Report I will do my best to answer them. I beg to move.
Moved, That the Report be agreed to.—( Lord Merthyr.)
My Lords, I am quite sure that all Parties in the House will be very glad to associate themselves with the suggestion made of sending a message to Mr. St. George.
My Lords, I should like to echo what the noble Viscount has said. Mr. St. George has given valuable service to members of all Parties and to members of no Party, and we wish him a very happy retirement.
On Question, Motion agreed to.
Census Order, 1960
rose to move, That Articles 6 (a) (i) to (iii) and 10 (c) of Part I, articles 2, 3 and 4 of Part II and Article 3 of Part III of the Second Schedule to the draft of the Order in Council, entitled the Census Order, 1960, be approved. The noble Viscount said: My Lords, I beg to move the Motion standing in my name which, as it involves a slightly unusual procedure under the Act of 1920, perhaps I may explain in a little detail to make it plainer than it overwise would be. I suppose that censuses have never been popular—indeed, one Book of the Bible suggests that they might even be irreligious. But they have in modern societies to be undertaken from time to time. Ours, which is due in 1961, will be undertaken under the Census Act, 1920. Section 1 of that Act provides that a census of population can be authorised by an Order in Council, the draft of which must be laid before both Houses of Parliament. The Order relates to Great Britain and, under the terms of the Schedule to the Act and of Section 1, must prescribe the date on which the Census is to be taken, the persons by whom and with respect to whom the returns for the purpose of the census are to be made, and thirdly the particulars to be stated in the returns; that is to say, the nature of the information which it is proposed to elicit from the householder.
The Schedule to the Act enumerates the matters in respect of which particulars may be required. They are in paragraphs 1 to 5 respectively: names, sex, age, occupation, trade or employment, nationality, birthplace, race and language, place of abode and character of dwelling, condition as to marriage, relation to the head of the family, issue born in marriage. But paragraph 6 adds any other matters with respect to which it is desirable to obtain statistical information with a view to ascertaining the social or civil condition of the population.
My Lords, the present Motion is under these provisions and the Act provides by Section 1 that all of the information to be elicited, except the parts which come under that last paragraph of the Schedule, paragraph 6, should be on the Negative Resolution procedure for Orders in Council, but that any particulars required under the last paragraph, paragraph 6, have to be authorised under the Affirmative Resolution procedure—a curious hybrid arrangement which we are obliged to follow by the Act of Parliament itself. Of course, the Motion relates only to the latter—for this reason. Since no Resolution has been put down against the Order in Council, the parts of the draft Order in Council which require your Lordships' approval are those which are printed in the draft before your Lordships in italics—that is to say, Article 6( a)(i) to (iii), but not (iv) and (v); in Article 10 the whole of paragraph ( c) but not the remaining paragraphs; in Part II, Articles 2, 3, and 4, and in Part III, Article 3.
As I told your Lordships, the Schedule to the Census Act, 1920, lists five matters in respect of which particulars may be asked without express approval. These are matters which by long usage had come to be regarded as regular inquiries, and it was felt that Parliament did not need to have attention expressly directed to them on every occasion. But provision was made for other inquiries not specifically covered by the Act to be approved by Resolution of both Houses. Some of these may be extensions of inquiries already made in previous Censuses, and some new developments do not need to be so authorised, as they are already covered. The parts of the 1960 Order, which we are considering, which require Affirmative Resolution are the paragraphs relating to housing tenure, marriage duration, education, scientific and technological qualifications, and internal population movement.
My Lords, one other explanatory point, if I may, about the machinery of the Act, which I personally find slightly cumbersome and difficult to understand. The particulars in the Schedule to the Order represent, in rather dry technical language, under the terms of the Statute, the particulars of the information to be elicited. Of course, that is not necessarily the form in which the question is asked of the householder. Under Section 3 of the Act the form of the question to the householder which elicits this information has to be promulgated in regulations made by my right honourable friend for the purpose of carrying out any Order in Council directing the Census to be taken. In other words, the question to the householder is presented in a form, presumably, in which he will be able to answer it easily; the information which is in the Order in Council to be elicited has to follow the more dry and technical form prescribed by the Statute. Whether that is altogether convenient it is not for me to discuss. This is the procedure which, under the Act of Parliament, we are bound to follow; and we are following it.
The Government Departments have been fully consulted in drawing up the programme. I may tell your Lordships that many suggestions from various quarters were examined for information to be taken in. The programme now put forward is held to be a reasonable balance—a balance, that is, between the convenience of the householder who has to fill up a form and the convenience of the statistical officers in the service of the public who wish to elicit information. We hope that the right balance has been struck. Most of the questions which are to be asked have appeared in previous Censuses, but there are alterations, extensions, and some new questions. The particulars to be covered in the Census returns are set out in the Second Schedule to the Order. Your Lordships will see that the Second Schedule is divided into four parts, of which the first is to be required of all householders; the second is to be taken by sampling procedure in 10 per cent. of the households. Part III relates to Scotland and Part IV to Wales.
May I deal now with some of the particular matters dealt with in the italicised part? The Resolution refers first to the inquiry about marriage and children (Article 6 ( a) (i) to (iii) in Part I of the Second Schedule). Part only of this inquiry requires the Affirmative Resolution procedure, the rest being covered by the Schedule to the Act of 1920. The questions on marriage have varied from Census to Census. Duration of marriage and number of children were first asked in 1911; these were repeated in 1951, with further questions about whether married more than once and whether there had been a child born during the previous twelve months. Similar questions are proposed this time.
There is also a question asking for the date of the end of the marriage for a woman whose marriage (or if married more than once, whose first marriage) has been terminated by widowhood or divorce. The reason for including particulars of women whose marriage has been terminated by widowhood or divorce is to enable statistical use to be made of their experience as regards duration of marriage and number of children. This would be in cases where the marriage was not terminated until after the end of their childbearing life so that their experience in these respects could be regarded as comparable with that of women still married and their particulars could be included with the statistics of married women generally.
The statistics derived from these particulars will comprise the numbers of children born to women at different ages and at different durations of marriage. These will provide a much fuller picture of probable population trends than can be gained from the current birth and registration data alone. In 1911 this information was sought for all married women of whatever age. In 1951 it was sought only for married women under 50, as the 10 per cent. Sample Family Census conducted on behalf of the Royal Commission on Population had been addressed to all women who were married or had been married. This time it is again proposed to ask for the particulars for all women—that is to say, all women who are married at the time of the Census, and it is proposed to extend the question to women who have been married. The reason for this is that it is desirable to provide a complete picture of all generations. In estimating the trends in the size and pattern of families for successive generations, it is desirable to cover as long a period as possible. I am happy to tell your Lordships that there was no difficulty in obtaining the information in 1911, or in 1951, and there should be no difficulty in obtaining it this time.
May I now turn to the new question about housing tenure, which, as I told your Lordships, is in Article 10 ( c) in Part I of Second Schedule? The questions on housing have been expanded as compared with 1951, because of the great use of the Census data to the Ministry of Housing and Local Government in connection with housing requirements. The new questions (of which only those relating to housing tenure require an Affirmative Resolution and are thereby comprised within the Motion) relate to type of building and extend the inquiry about household arrangements to cover hot water supply. The question about housing tenure asks whether the accommodation occupied by a household is held by them as owner-occupiers, is occupied in connection with employment or as part of busines premises, is rented from a council or a private landlord or is occupied on some other terms. At present this sort of information has to be pieced together from a variety of sources, with incomplete coverage. The new question will provide reliable, comprehensive information, compiled on a uniform basis for all types of tenure, which will have great value in the consideration of various policy questions of housing and town planning. Here I
should perhaps refer to Article 3 of Part III as it modifies the new question to fit Scottish circumstances.
The next inquiry covered by the Resolution (Article 2, in Part II of Second Schedule) asks the age at which full-time education ceased. This will provide information about the general level of education in the community, and can be combined with the occupation question to give comparative figures of educational level and current occupation for people leaving school at different ages. In 1951, the question was confined to persons in gainful occupation, as the main purpose was to obtain the level of education for persons in employment and to relate it to the work that followed: the extension to the population generally is new.
We come to a new question in Article 3 in Part II of Second Schedule, which asks for scientific and technological qualifications. The Census provides a convenient means of obtaining the information which can be related to the other information on the Census return—for example, current employment. The question is included because of the need for more information about the six, age distribution and occupation of highly qualified scientific and technological personnel; and those of your Lordships who remember the Report of the Manpower Committee of the Advisory Council on Scientific Policy in 1956 will recall that they referred to the paucity of available statistical information of this kind.
The next question covered by the Resolution is Article 4, in Part 2 of the Second Schedule. This is another new question, the object of which is to obtain information on the frequency, amount, direction and characteristics of population movements within this country; and to measure the degree of permanence of usual residence. At present, I am sorry to say, very little is known statistically about movement from area to area within the country or about the duration of people's periods of residence at the addresses they describe as their usual residences. The new question will make it possible for the first time to measure with some accuracy the amount of movement of the population. The new information will help to improve the present estimates of population, and will assist planning authorities to fore- cast the need for housing and various essential services.
I might perhaps refer briefly to another innovation, although this does not require the Affirmative Resolution procedure. In addition to the usual information about the numbers and condition of the people in various parts of the country at a fixed point in time—the Census Night—inquiries are proposed, on a sample basis only, concerning the usual make-up of private households. Thus people are asked to give particulars not only of the persons present in the house on Census Night but also some particulars of members of the households who happen to be away from home. I believe that I have dealt with that. I have also dealt with the question of sample enumeration, which again is not so primarily concerned with the Affirmative Resolution before your Lordships. I must apologise for having gone into this matter at a little length. The Committee which look's at these matters thought that the House could not easily pass this Order without special attention, and I therefore thought it proper to do what I could to elucidate both the procedure to be followed and the matters to which the Resolution related. I beg to move.
Moved, That Articles 6 ( a) (i) to (iii) and 10 ( c) of Part I, Articles 2, 3, and 4 of Part II and Article 3 of Part III of the Second Schedule to the draft of the Order in Council, entitled the Census Order, 1960 be approved.—( Viscount Hailsham.)
My Lords, I do not think the noble and learned Viscount need apologise in any way for his description, because I feel that it is very essential that, so far as possible, we should understand what we are doing in regard to this draft Order; and I am quite sure that his remarks have been very useful to your Lordships. As to whether he has entirely enabled all of us to understand all the details of the draft Order I am a little more doubtful, because it is exceedingly complicated and not easy to follow. The noble and learned Viscount says, however, that it has been submitted to a number of people who should know, and I am afraid that in the main we shall have to take his word for that, because I do not think we can check it in any way.There are one or two major points on which I am not clear, and if the noble and learned Viscount has spoken on them already I should like him to repeat his words later. Are we to understand that all the paragraphs, or partial paragraphs, which are printed in ordinary type are really a reproduction of similar paragraphs that have been used in previous Census forms? Are we to understand, at the same time, that all those printed in italics are new items which have not appeared in previous forms? If that be so, I imagine that the former, having been tried out in previous years, are more or less accepted by the country and that our main consideration should be of those in italics, which, so far as I can gather (although I am not quite clear), are new questions. It seems to me that one or two of those new questions, while they do not demand opposition in any sense, are matters upon which we should be glad to have a little more information. The first point concerns Article 6 in Part I of the Second Schedule. I can quite understand the importance of several of those questions for statistical purposes, and I should be quite unwilling to limit the statistical information which the Government seek to obtain. I am a little doubtful, however, as to why all these questions are asked of the woman and not of the man. It seems to me, offhand, that what is sauce for the goose might also be sauce for the gander; and if it is thought desirable to ask those questions of women I do not exactly see why they should not be asked of men at the same time. It may be that it is not necessary and that, having got the information from the party more knowledgeable in the matter of children, they need not ask them of the man; but I should like to know precisely if that is so. In particular, I should like to repeat what I said generally a little earlier. Are we to understand that those parts of Article 6 which are not referred to in italics are a repetition of what appeared in previous Orders, while those in italics are new ones, or am I incorrect in forming that opinion? I am very glad that in Article 6 as it stands the questions are put discreetly, because I remember very well in connection with one Registration Order, that a good many of the questions the Government then proposed to ask were expressed most indiscreetly. That fact gave rise to a great deal of opposition in another place when I was there some years ago—I believe during the time of Sir Kingsley Wood—and the wording was completely altered between promulgation and final acceptance by the other place. It may well be that those who have compiled these questions are more discreetly minded than was the case in those days. We are told that these questions, as they are here, are not the actual questions that will be asked but that they will be put in a similar form. I should be all in favour of that, because I think that some of these questions are quite complicated; but I hope that indiscretions which do not appear in this text will not reappear in an undesirable form in the questions as they are actually asked. There is one other question which I should like to put. I am quite pleased to see, in Part II of the Second Schedule, the questions about persons' residence. I only hope that they will be understood by the people who have to answer the questions. They are very complicated and there are immense numbers of them. I think that the Government show very great confidence in the intelligence of the electorate in imagining that all these questions will be understood and answered correctly. I shall study the form when I have one, and I am quite sure that I shall put a wet cloth around my head when I try to deal with it. I am also sure that a great many of the householders and others of this country are likely to suffer the same inconvenience at the same time. However, we will hope for the best, and hope that the statistics which the Government are going to procure by this method will be of value to the nation. When the noble Viscount replies, I shall be glad to have an answer to these questions.
My Lords, I am sure that we are all grateful to the noble Viscount for the extensive way in which he has explained this matter, and it is not simple. In supporting, in the main, what the noble Lord, Lord Pethick-Lawrence, said, I would also agree with the noble Viscount that censuses are not popular. They are, of course, necessary for various vital statistics (by "vital statistics" I do not mean that term in the other sense), but they can be, I think, misused and we, must safeguard against censuses being used for irrelevant information. Here we are up against a definition of what is relevant and what is useful. I have no doubt that these questions which are asked will produce matter which will be extremely useful to those in Whitehall, but I am not quite certain that the extent to which they are using their authority to ask these questions has not been rather stretched.Of course, the electorate may object to certain questions that are asked, and by legislation they can be forced to answer these questions and suffer the consequences if they do not. This might go further. Suppose that this questionnaire asked, "How many visits have you made to your dentist? To what extent do you use contraceptives? What are your political views?", or "What proportion of your income is spent on flowers?" Those can be made mandatory questions which must be answered. I am not suggesting that these questions go so far as that, but I think that, in Part 1, Article 6 (a) (i), (ii) and (iii) the questions in respect of a married woman do infringe on the privacy of the individual and that in many cases they will be taken exception to. Therefore, in general, I cannot support the Motion for this Order to go through, and if I find enough vocal support in other parts of the House I should rather like to see the Motion negatived.
My Lords, when this Order came before the Special Orders Committee it seemed to me that there was here involved a question of very considerable principle which I should like to bring to the attention of your Lordships' House. Article 4 of the Order in Council, following the Statute, provides in these terms:
When we come to the Second Schedule we see that it is headed:"In the case of all persons with respect to whom returns are to be made, the returns shill state the particulars specified in Parts I and II of the second schedule to this Order."
I call attention more particularly to Article 10 of the Schedule, and point out that these particulars have to be given by cottagers, people living in council houses, people living in tenement houses, and, I daresay, even seaside landladies and people of that sort. It will probably generally be left to the wife to fill in these particulars, and it seemed to me that people of that class, unaccustomed to documents of this sort, would have great difficulty in giving the information and understanding the information that they had to give. But I was told by the representative of the Ministry present, "You need not bother about that. These will not be the particulars that will be asked for. The Minister will frame regulations which will make everything perfectly clear." Why on earth, if the Minister is going to frame regulations which will make everything perfectly clear, cannot the regulations be put into the Order in Council, so that the House may know to what they are giving their assent? It seems to me that we are being asked now to give consent to an Order in Council which we are told will be cleared up in some way or another by some regulations. As the noble Viscount pointed out, the sixth paragraph of the Schedule to the Act gives very wide powers with regard to the particulars that have to be given: particulars of"Particulars to be stated in all returns".
I think we should know to what we are being asked to give assent. I know that the Act provides that any regulations made by the Minister have also to be laid before the House, but I think it is a matter of very considerable doubt how far the Minister can clear up these doubts. The Minister is given power by regulations to prescribe the form; but prescribing the form, as I understand it, does not enable the Minister to cut down these questions or to enlarge them, and I doubt whether it gives him power to explain them. The Statute says that the particulars that are to be given are to be set out in the Order, and the Order says that these particulars are to be given by everybody. Therefore it seems to me that this is the governing document, and I think that the House ought to know—is entitled to know—exactly what the questions are, or the particulars which will be sought, before they give their consent to this Order."any other matters with respect to which it is desirable to obtain statistical information with a view to ascertaining the social or civil condition of the population."
My Lords, I suppose I shall be told, if I venture to comment on this matter and to support my old friend, Lord Pethick-Lawrence, and the noble Lord, the ex-Lord Chief Justice, that I was a member of a Government that in the course of the last 40 years passed some Act under which this is done. But all I can say is that one's colleagues did a lot of odd things which one did not altogether appreciate until long afterwards. But even if I were responsible for this myself, which I was not—it may well be that the noble Lord, Lord Morrison of Lambeth, is responsible for it; he held the office and it was one I did not hold—I still think that this is a very odd Order. We have to be careful about the Census. The Lord Bishops will remind us that according to the Old Testament one historic character got into great trouble over a census, and that ought to be a lesson to us all that we should put into a Census only what it is necessary in the public interest that people should know.I must say that this sort of omnibus inquiry is one of the most extraordinary things I have ever seen. To be told that certain things were put down in 1911 is not sufficient reason. I do not remember—and I have filled up a good many Census forms in the course of a long life—having had these intimate questions asked of me. It seems to me that if this Order goes through without any further elucidation we shall be putting Doctor Gallup out of business—I do not know whether that is a bad thing. But, apparently, any question can be asked of the most intimate kind. I remember the trouble there was over one set of inquiries which all had to be altered. We have not the least idea on the face of this Order of the form that these inquiries are going to take. All one can say is that the Minister is going to be able to ask any woman—why not any man I do not know; I appreciate the nice distinction which enables you to ask every kind of intimate question of some unfortunate woman about her married life—why she was married, and why she stopped being married. Why not the man? Is it the sort of delicacy which says that you must not say: "Who were you with last night?" Now suppose the Minister does produce all these very varied questions— and I know, and noble Lords on both sides of the House who have been in Ministries for a long time know, exactly how these sort of things come about. We were told by the Minister that a great many people who know a great deal about all these things have been consulted. Of course they have. Every Nosey Parker you can find has been consulted about this, and everybody who thought there might be something that at some time it would be useful to know has put it in. It is rather like the way the T.U.C. works, I understand; you produce a resolution, everybody puts something in, and then, apparently, everybody gets satisfied. All these things can apparently be included. But why? And to what purpose? I am not the least impressed when I am told that forty-five Government Departments have had a hand in this, and that a number of social busybodies have also had a hand in it and have put down all the things that they would like to make inquiries about. I should like to ask the Minister this: when this questionnaire is produced—I have not seen the questionnaire, but when it is produced—if some unfortunate woman, or even some mere man, says, "I do not want to give these peculiarly intimate details about my private life", or if some unfortunate person is incapable of filling in all these statistics about the rateable value of his land, and what it would be worth if it was devoted to another purpose, and so on (and I am perfectly certain that I could not do it without the assistance of my land agent or of an accountant), and objects, what is the penalty? Does he go to prison? Is he prosecuted? Is he held in contempt? Even in the United States you can plead the Fourth Amendment (is it not?) if you are asked questions which would tend to incriminate you or which you do not want to answer. And in this country, even if you are suspected by the police, you do not have to answer questions of an embarrassing kind. What is going to be the position of the people who are asked questions here and refuse to answer? My Lords, I think we ought to know that. Really, would it not be much better, before we part with this thing—and this is about the only opportunity we are going to have, because if we pass this Order then the Minister can do anything, and we shall not see it—that we should see the questionnaire? Nobody knows more about these things than the noble and learned Lord, Lord Goddard, who has had the opportunity of going into this matter in Committee, and he has not the faintest idea, and has warned the House about it, what the Minister is going to put in; and he is very doubtful whether this can be made into a reasonable form. May we not suggest that, before we part with this Motion—and it is perfectly easy to adjourn it—we should see what is the questionnaire which is going to be put to the men and women of England? We shall not then have this obscure Order, but shall know exactly what the questions are which are going to be asked, and we shall have none of the kind of difficulties that the noble Lord, Lord Pethick-Lawrence, and I remember happened in the House of Commons thirty or forty years ago. We shall know exactly the form of the questions, and we shall be able to form our own judgment whether they are sensible and proper questions to put and whether they are put in such a way that the ordinary individual can understand them. I would venture to make the proposition to the House that the Minister for Science might well take this back for the moment and then present us with the questionnaire which the Ministry (whichever one it is) which uses these things intends to produce. Then, if it is a sensible questionnaire, I am quite certain that we shall pass it with acclamation; but if it is full of embarrassing things, we ought to have a chance of saying so.
My Lords, might I say that I had intended saying a word with regard to the suggestion of the noble Lord, Lord Rea, that, if necessary, we should have a Division on this matter. I have been exceedingly interested in the speech made by the noble Earl, Lord Swinton, and I cannot see that there would be any real difficulty in proceeding along the line that he has suggested. There is, I think, complete support in all parts of the House for reasonable requirements to be made of the citizenship for the purpose for which a census is conducted, and in a modern State it would be quite improper to put unnecessary difficulties in the way of arty Government obtaining that statistical information which is necessary for them to formulate policy—policy in quite a large number of fields.On the other hand, it is certain that it ought to be clear to all the citizenship exactly what they are required to answer, and I think we ought to take into consideration the point that I was going to raise—it was touched on very briefly by the noble and learned Lord who spoke just now—with regard to premises, on page 4, part of Article 10. That will raise all kinds of questions on different types of estate. The noble and learned Lord referred to the variety of classes of persons who would have to answer, from cottagers upwards. There are all sorts of things which arise on different estates. Some have cottages that are let at what I would call the proper annual value rent; others are let at special, private rents; some tenants are given cottages which are quite free. Often these arrangements, made by benevolent landlords—and, by the way, by a large number of farmers with regard to their employees—are matters of entire privacy between themselves and their employees to whom they give These privileges. This kind of thing is therefore likely to lead to all kinds of consulting with each other as to what they are going to answer to Question (a), (b), (c) or (d), and will perhaps give rise to a good deal of unnecessary feeling—jealousy, maybe, and things of that kind. I do not want to see privileges, which are given for all kinds of things—for special qualification, for long service, for good service and the like—if they are matters of privacy between the employer and the employed, in any way endangered by this kind of thing. With regard to some of the other suggestions made, may tell the noble and learned Viscount that I would not dream of wandering into some of the areas of information which it is supposed will be sought, or which has been suggested. I am quite sure that they were put as a light touch to the questions addressed to him, and I do not want to go into them. But I feel, in all the circumstances, that, unless the questions which are going to be asked are so detailed and contain all the information necessary, and unless the questionnaire is to be subject to the Affirmative Resolution procedure also, perhaps it would be wiser to withdraw the Order for the present and to have it looked at again. We can then have the considered view of Her Majesty's Government, and all the information will be before Parliament prior to its giving its final authority.
My Lords, I hope your Lordships will have in mind that we are not considering the actual questionnaire which is to be submitted to the people of this country; we are considering a Draft Order, which is naturally couched in comparatively legal language; and I am sure that we may have confidence that the eventual questionnaire will be in the plain and intelligible terms which were used by its long line of predecessors. Speaking for my sex, may I say that we are most grateful for the gallant defence, continued over so long by the noble Lord, Lord Pethick-Lawrence, and the noble Lord, Lord Rea, in their raising the point as to whether under this Order questions ought to be asked of women that are not asked of men. We appreciate what your Lordships have done, and no one more than myself, in assimilating the position of the sexes.But there remain certain differences, and they are differences that I think neither sex would wish wholly to obliterate. There is some information which women are in a better position than men to give and which is more relevant in the case of women than in the case of men. This information is of peculiar importance in estimating that vital issue, the future population of this country. Therefore, much as we appreciate the defence of our sex that has been put up by those gallant defenders on whom we constantly rely, we do not propose on this occasion to challenge the practice of asking us things which we are in a better position to communicate than perhaps our husbands. Sometimes there are advantages in addressing us directly. It is now 25 years ago—therefore I think that I may safely refer to the matter—since I had the pleasure of defrauding a foreign Government of a considerable sum of money. After travelling abroad with my husband, on leaving the country we were asked whether we had any earnings to declare—that is to say, my husband was asked whether he had any earnings which should be declared for the purpose of income tax. He truthfully answered, "No". No question was addressed to the female half of the partnership, either directly or indirectly—and so long as we are left out, there may be consequences which are unfortunate. I recount that little experience by way of illustration; but seriously, this is an Order which is going to give information which all of us who are interested in social policy regard as vital for the determination of future policy, whether it is to be determined by those on the Benches opposite or those on the Benches on this side. Therefore we do not hesitate to accept that questions on these lines, suitably framed, should be put to the population at large.
My Lords, I am always anxious to answer questions put in relation to a particular matter and also, where necessary, to yield to the wishes of the House on any matter on which your Lordships express yourselves strongly. I must thank the noble Baroness, Lady Wootton of Abinger, for speaking, as I thought, so sensibly about this matter, because I think that a great deal of the feelings which have been expressed are based on a misunderstanding, which I can only attribute to myself. I tried to be plain about the context of the matter but evidently did not succeed.First of all, I apologise to the noble Lord, Lord Pethick-Lawrence, for not having made plain, as I thought I had, the difference between the italic and the roman type. The difference is not dependent upon whether or not the questions have appeared on previous Census papers. Some of the italicised questions which have been most criticised are extremely old. The difference is that they require an Affirmative Resolution. Therefore, although I referred to the roman type questions in order to show the context, and indeed could not have been intelligible had I not done so, we are discussing only the italicised portions and not any other.
My Lords, of course I understood that that was the distinction which the noble Viscount was making, but I thought, wrongly apparently, that there was also a distinction between those Articles and the others. I did not imagine that he had said that, but I thought we had to infer that. But I am entirely wrong. Could the noble Viscount tell us which of the Articles are new? That seems to be very important and I do not think that he told us.
My Lords, I did endeavour to go through that, but I am sure the noble Lord is not asking me to achieve the impossible. I tried to give the significant differences between the powers in this Order and in previous Orders, but they are so numerous and minute that I really could not charge myself to give every particular way in which this Order differs from previous Orders. If the noble Lord wishes me to pursue the matter, I would ask his indulgence and acquire from him a complete list of the changes that he wishes to know about; but I could not charge myself to do this now, because some of them are minutiæ, some are extensions, some modifications and many of them quite insignificant. What I have tried to do is to give a summary of the significant changes. I could not give a complete list without much more consideration, and when the House heard it I doubt whether your Lordships would feel it was of much assistance. But if the noble Lord wants me to pursue this point, I gladly will.
My Lords, referred particularly to Article 6, to the questions being asked of women. It seems important to know whether they are being asked for the first time. Could the noble Viscount not say, without going into the whole lot—we should be here for hours, no doubt—what the position is on that Article? I wrote to the noble Viscount in advance on this matter and I thought that perhaps he could say which part of Article 6 is new and which part was in previous Census forms.
My Lords, I answered that in detail in my opening remarks, but I will deal with it again, if I may, because obviously it occupies the noble Lord's mind. The main differ- ence between this and the 1951 Census is that it covers all women instead of women of 50 downwards. But that is not the only difference. I could repeat myself if the House desired me to do so, but perhaps the noble Lord will look at the OFFICIAL REPORT to-morrow. The other main difference is that the date of the termination of the first marriage is asked for for the first time.If I may address myself to the question of which the noble Lord says he gave me notice, I would say that the confusion is verbal. This question is not asked of women; it is asked of the householder. All questions have to be answered by the householder, including those relating Ito women. The answer was broadly given by the noble Baroness, Lady Wootton of Abinger. In the main these questions go back to 1911 and, for aught I know, long beyond. One or two new questions were added in 1951 and slight modifications and extensions were made thereafter. In fact, if we take the 1946 statistics, Which had to be given for the purpose of the Royal Commission, and the 1951 Census together, I think that we shall find that there is nothing new in what is now asked, except that in the case of the Census it is now asked of all women instead of those from 50 downwards. Why it is asked concerning women and not men is because it is with regard to the fertility of marriages and size of families. The statistical fact required is about the children born of a particular wife, and it is simply asked of women because if it were asked of both sexes the information would be duplicated. It is far more convenient to get the information in relation to the women rather than in relation to the man. Indeed the convenience is overwhelming, because it bus always been done that way, and if you now started getting it from the man none of your figures would be comparable with past statistics. Therefore I should have thought that there was an overwhelming case for asking those questions relating to women. I am sure the noble Lord, Lord Rea, would concede to me that I never tried to misrepresent his arguments, but I do not know what he meant when he referred to questions of contraceptives and things like that. They are not mentioned in the Schedule to the Act; nor are they in the draft Order in Council which we are discussing; nor, so far as I know, do they relate to statistical information.
My Lords, I referred to that as being quite irrelevant and not justified by any powers which a Census has, and I compared it with the question "Whether married more than once, and the date of the first marriage"; and "if that marriage has been terminated, what was the date of termination". Such questions can cause great distress and, in certain circumstances, ruin a marriage.
Then I must have misunderstood the noble Lord. There is really nothing in the Order except what is written down there: the date of the first marriage and the date of termination. In answer to the noble Lord, Lord Rea, I would say this. These are, in the main, as I have said, particulars some of which go back to 1911 and for aught I know to 1901 and before. Slight modifications have been introduced in order to obtain population statistics which are really required and can be got only in this way. I would draw the attention of the noble Lord to the provision on page 2 for members of a household who wish to give confidential returns not known to the head of the household. That provision is made and always has been made in these Censuses precisely in order to protect privacy. Secondly, I would say to the noble Lord, in all seriousness, that the date of a marriage, although of course it relates to one's intimate private life, as my noble friend Lord Swinton said, is not something which is particularly private, because the marriage is a public event. So is the date at which one's first husband died. The date upon which one's decree absolute was pronounced in open court in the divorce court, which is open to publication, although it relates to one's private life, is a public event which is deliberately publicised by the policy of the law in order that it may remain a public event. The number of children born during a marriage, which has been asked in all Censuses from the time they first came into being, although relating in a peculiar sense to one's intimate private life, is still a public event and has to be registered. All that is being done here is to collect that number of public events together from information given by the person to whom they are most closely known and to put them in a form in which they are statistically available to the Government for purposes which are admittedly legitimate.I think that my noble friend Lord Swinton was going far beyond the facts of the case when he sought to pretend that there were a number of embarrassing and intimate questions. I would ask the House to say that there is nothing here which has not in principle been asked before; that there is nothing here which is not in principle required, and nothing which justifies phrases like "busybodies" and "pryers" and that kind of thing, about which he was talking. I must say bluntly to my noble friend that it is all very well to complain of some anonymous civil servants of the public who have been through this information thoroughly and to call them by this kind of name. I wish to say boldly and firmly that those who are responsible for the Schedule are my right honourable friends and myself, and not civil servants at all. It would, of course, be utterly improper that a document of this kind should be laid before Parliament, first in the other place (where it did not occasion quite this debate) and now in your Lordships' House, if Ministers were not prepared to take the responsibility for it. I must say that some of the phrases that my noble friend used seemed to imply that this was not so in the present case.
Not in the least; the noble Viscount must not misrepresent me. He himself said that he had had a great many people, officials and so on, who had considered and contributed to this. I said that that did not impress me very much. Of course the noble Viscount takes responsibility for it; and he has no need to lecture me, as a Minister of almost as long standing as he is, because I always took responsibility as a Minister. But it is because we hold the noble Viscount responsible that we are asking him, as the Minister, now to let us see the questionnaire.
I am sorry then that my noble friend referred to me—and it must now be me he referred to—either as a "pryer" or a "busybody", because those are words to which I take exception. I thought them improper as applied to civil servants, and as applied to myself I consider them unjust. I must say that I hope my noble friend, on reflection, will say that they do not apply to me; or, if he persists in them, that he will say on what ground he bases the charge. I thought that was not justified as against the civil servants or as against the Minister of the Crown.Having said that, I turn to the noble and learned Lord, Lord Goddard, who made a speech which seemed to me to betray a misunderstanding of what we can and what we cannot do under the Act of 1920. The particulars which are given in the Schedule to the draft Order have to be given there because that is what Section 1 of the Act of 1920 demands should be done. All that has to be done in the formal language of the law, so that Parliament—not the householder—may know what is the information that is sought to be elicited. Therefore we put down in formal language that the information is to include full name, relation to the head of the family, sex, age in years and months and whether married more than once; date of first marriage, and, if that first marriage has been terminated, the date of termination and so on; and in the case of the dwelling, whether the dwelling is occupied by virtue of employment, rented as part of or together with other premises, used by the tenant for the purposes of getting his livelihood, or rented from a local authority or new town development corporation and so on. This is the information that we seek to elicit, and before we are allowed to draft a questionnaire, or put it before the House, Parliament must be satisfied that this information is information which ought to be asked in any questionnaire. That is all that the Order in Council does contain, and it is all that it can contain. If the noble Lord had pursued the matter (as I know he has), I think he would have conceded that the regulations can only be laid, and will only be laid, after the Order in Council is passed by the House, and that the questionnaire must be contained in the Regulations. In other words, if I may put a simple example, the Schedule to this Order says that the particulars are to include the sex of each person in the Census. The regulations will prescribe a question and answer which will, for example, say "Write 'M' or 'F'", and then there will be a little box for "M" or for "F". If they were then to ask impertinent questions of the kind suggested by the noble Lord, Lord Rea, those regulations would be ultra vires. Nobody knows that better than the noble and learned Lord, Lord Goddard, who has had such a very wide and varied judicial experience. But when he asks me why the questionnaire does not occur in the Order in Council, and whether it would not be better if it did, my answer to him quite frankly, is that the Act of Parliament under which this Census is taken demands and prescribes that there should first be an Order in Council in this form and then a form of regulations prescribing the questionnaire and seeing that the questionnaire keeps to the Order in Council. So far from that being an added burden on the householder, I would suggest to the House that it is, in fact, an added safeguard for the householder, because any householder can say in relation to a question—and he could challenge it before the brethren of the noble and learned Lord —"This is a question framed to elicit information which Parliament has not authorised." He can, in fact, impugn the validity of the regulations; and no doubt if they were of the kind that some noble Lords have suggested some village Hampden would do that very thing. Does the noble and learned Lord wish me to give way?
I merely wished to point out that the Act requires the particulars to be stated in the returns, and not in some regulations which may be made. The Act is perfectly clear, and the Order in Council is clear. These are the particulars which are to be stated in the returns, and the returns have to be made by the householder.
Surely, my Lords, this is a false point. The Order in Council prescribes that certain information—particulars—should be elicited. The section of the Act says that, when such an Order in Council has received the approval of Parliament, the Minister shall make regulations prescribing the forms to be used in taking a Census. That necessarily implies two separate stages in the proceedings, one to follow the other: first, the particulars as in the Order in Council and, second, the forms which, of course, must be in the form of question and answer which will direct to the mind of the householder the information required to provide the particulars. That can be done only by question and answer in the ordinary way.
May I ask—
I will certainly give way, but I want to deal faithfully with each question. Then the noble Lord asked me why the form is not in the Order in Council. The answer is that it might well have been a better plan to do it that way; but I do not know. We have to do it in the way and in the Order in which Parliament has told us.
I entirely accept that. But what I think the House want to know is this: Are they going to see the questionnaire? The noble Viscount says—and I am sure he is right—that the responsible Minister cannot frame the questionnaire until he has an Order in Council authorising him to do so. Of course we pass an Order in Council. But what we want to know is: Are we going to see the questionnaire?— because that is the real test. If my noble friend tells us that after we have passed this Order the Minister will then make a further Order, or a regulation, which includes the questionnaire, and that that will be available to Parliament to debate, certainly on a Negative Resolution—I do not ask for an Affirmative Resolution—then I think we should be completely satisfied.
I am glad my noble friend has put this point. He will forgive me if I quote the actual words of the Statute, because they are sometimes clearer than what Ministers say.
No, I do not think they are.
I will do my best. Section 3 of the Act provides as follows:
"For the purpose of enabling any Order in Council directing a census to be taken to be carried into effect, the Minister of Health may make regulations …
Then subsection (2) says:(f) with respect to the forms to be used in the taking of a census."
It then goes on to say that it becomes subject to the Negative Resolution procedure."Every regulation made under this section shall be laid before both Houses of Parliament …"
My Lords, could this point be made perfectly plain, while we are discussing it at such length, because here are the authorities upon which the Government proceed? We have asked certain specific questions, and the noble Viscount is doing his best to answer them. Whatever promise is made, we do not want to give authority for wrong regulations if every point we are not satisfied about in the Order has not been met.
I appreciate the noble Viscount's anxiety, and I am doing my best to answer him conscientiously. The only point I am on at the moment is that we are now concerned with rather an unusual and awkward procedure which represents the earliest stage in this course of events. It is awkward and unusual because not only are we dealing only with the preliminary parts, but we are dealing only with part of the Order in Council—that part which requires an Affirmative Resolution. It is indeed the inhibition of that which prevented my explaining at greater length what the other parts of the Order contemplate. I have tried to show to my noble friend—and I think I am correct—that regulations inevitably form the second stage, and that the forms under the regulations will be related there and will be subject to Parliamentary approval under the Negative Resolution procedure in the ordinary way.
I am sorry to interrupt again. I appreciate what the noble Viscount said about the Act of Parliament being simpler than a Ministerial explanation. But what the noble Viscount has not cleared up is what these regulations will contain. If they contain another statement such as is in the Order, then I do not think that is good enough. It may be what is laid down in the Act. But what the House wants to see is the questions that are going to be asked of the householder. If the noble Viscount could say whether it is strictly in the regulation or not, that the regulations will contain as a schedule or accompanying document—a White Paper if you like—the questionnaire which is going to be put to the millions of people in this country, and that we shall have the chance of looking at it, discussing it and commenting upon it, I am sure we should all be satisfied.
My Lords, I hope I can satisfy my noble friend. I am always a little anxious—and I hope the House will think rightly—about seeking to interpret an Act of Parliament, so to speak, from the Box. My noble friend has great experience as a Minister, as he reminded us. A Minister can fall into very serious traps by trying to do so. But I think I can satisfy him on this point. First of all, the regulations have to be laid before Parliament. That is quite clear from the section which I read out. If my noble friend wishes to ensure that he sees the questionnaire, or has a reasonable explanation why he has not got it, one of two things is open to him. If it is in the regulations he will be able to read it in advance. If it is not (I cannot give him an absolute promise about this for the reason I have given: that I should not like, from the Box, to pontificate about an Act of Parliament) and he feels he is entitled to it, he can put down a Motion.
That is good enough.
I am obliged to my noble friend. That is all I would say on that particular point.The noble Viscount, Lord Alexander of Hillsborough, raised the point of privacy with which I fully sympathise. I would point out to him two things, one of which I pointed out to the noble Lord, Lord Rea. The first is the provision on page 2 of the Order for the member of the household who wanted to conceal his data from the householder but has to provide the return. He has a procedure whereby he can do it. Secondly, of course, under the Act, and maybe the Order in Council as well—but certainly under the Act—the confidentiality is expressly protected by the penalties clause; that is to say, if either the householder or the officer collecting the information divulges, except to the proper authority, anything contained in it, he is subject to serious penalties in the courts. I do not know what more we can do with those two things. Certainly that has been done from the first; and although from time to rime the question is raised as to these matters, I think I am right in saying that it has never in practice given rise to any abuse or scandal. I do not know what more we can do at any stage than what has been done in the past, and has been done with success. I hope the noble Lord will be satisfied with that. I am now able to satisfy my noble friend Lord Swinton. The actual Census form is included in the regulations. I hope my noble friend will realise I could not say that unless I had it actually confirmed. I felt it was so, but I did not want to assure him that it was so until I was certain. The noble Viscount and, I think, my noble friend and the noble Lord, Lord Goddard, also raised questions of one sort and another under Article 10 of Part I of the Order relating to tenure. With respect both to the noble and learned Lord and to the noble Earl, I think they made rather too heavy weather of it. I quite appreciate that this form has to be filled up by cottagers. I think it is a mistake to underestimate the ability of cottagers these days to fill up forms. But it is, I think, fair to say, both of my noble friend and of the noble Viscount opposite, that they rather exaggerated the problems of answering the questions by not considering in concrete what the questions are. There is nothing there about rent or rateable value or anything like that. What is asked is, broadly speaking, "Do you own the house you live in?" Is there really anything impossible in a householder answering that question? I should have thought not. It is a matter of opinion for the House, but I should have thought not. Or, again, "If you do not own it, is it a service cottage or are you a tenant?" I have yet to know the farm labourer who does not know the answer to that question. It may be the noble and learned Lord, remembering all the cases under the Rent Acts, would say that he would find it very difficult to answer. So should I. But I do not believe that the average farm labourer is inhibited by that kind of learning. The next question is: "If you do not occupy it as a service cottage, is your landlord the local authority?"; is that very difficult? I think not. The farm labourer may think so, but it is for him to say. Finally, "If from a private landlord, is it let to you furnished or unfurnished?" There is no question about whether it is covered by the Rent Acts; which, with so many noble and learned Lords on the Cross-Benches, I would hesitate to say was a simple matter, although most tenants appear to know the answer, as well as some of us in individual cases. There is none of that. It is simply, "Is it let furnished or unfurnished?" We know the Court of Appeal has decided probably 30 cases on this difficult question, sometimes overruling itself. But the cottager is not necessarily inhibited by the doubts of the Court of Appeal, and he can hazard a pretty rough guess as to whether he rents it furnished or unfurnished. If he is wrong, I feel sure I am right in saying that nobody will think the worse of him, provided that it was an honest mistake. I quite agree that one can make fun of anything about which it is desired to obtain statistical information. It is, of course, for the House to say—this Order is specifically put before Parliament—whether it is reasonable or unreasonable for my right honourable friend the Minister of Housing to say that he wants this information in order to house the people. The only point I am concerned to show is that it is not altogether correct to argue, as the noble and learned Lord did, that these questions are too difficult for a cottager to answer simply because in the Schedule to the Order, which he will not see, they are put in highly technical language. There is a last way in which the cottager can answer the question, because there is an omnibus clause at the end saying "If in doubt explain exactly how you hold the house". I do not know, if the information is worth getting, how it could be got in a simpler way. It is for the House to decide whether it is worth getting. I have tried to deal with everything put to me with such force by various noble Lords. I would hope that noble Lords would give me my Order to-day. If I am pressed, I do not want to force the House to come to a decision if it does not feel it right to do so, and I am not going to adopt the position of trying to do so. On the other hand, I hope that with the explanation I have given, and with the opportunity for further discussion which I have demonstrated exists, the House will support us in asking for the Order now.
My Lords, before the noble and learned Viscount sits down, I should like to ask this question, which I think will influence the House considerably in coming to a decision with regard to the last point raised by the noble and learned Viscount. There are a very large number of questions in this Order. The noble and learned Viscount said he could not tell us exactly in detail which were new and which were old. But could he give us some sort of idea what proportion are new and what proportion are old? If there are more new questions than old, I think the House will want to think about the matter further. He may not be able to give me the proportion in exact figures, but are there 95 per cent. old and only 5 per cent. new? Are the great bulk of the questions the same as appeared in the last Census, or are a very large number of them new ones? I think the House is entitled to know that particular fact.
This is a very difficult question to answer in point of numbers or figures. The question about tenure is new, and that is a long question; that is the longest of the new questions. I have already dealt with the question about marriage. That is a matter of opinion. I should have said that it was almost entirely old. I think it could be agreed that there have been modifications. But the question about tenure is new; that is Article 10 of Part I. The procedure of sampling of particulars is, I think, new, but the questions in it are largely old. I have now received the information which I said was difficult to give. I am told that 10 per cent. of the questions are new and 90 per cent. old. I hope that the House will again forgive my caution in not giving the figures until they were confirmed. My impression is that it would be fair to say that, apart from the question about tenure, part of the question about marriage, and the question about the duration of full-time education, which is different but not wholly new; the question about science and technology, which is wholly new, and the question about population movement (that is the last paragraph, Article 4 of the sample ones in Part II) and the question about absentees, it is virtually all old, with modifications. I think that deals fairly with the noble Lord's question.
I asked the noble and learned Viscount to withdraw the Order for the time being because I felt that we all wanted to see the questionnaire. Now we know that we are going to see the questionnaire, and that it will be scheduled to the regulations, I feel that all the points we have raised, in all quarters of the House, have been completely met; and so far as I am concerned I hope that the House will give the noble and learned Viscount his Order.
My Lords, may I ask the noble and learned Viscount whether the House will not only see but also have an opportunity to reject the regulations?
That follows, of course, because all statutory instruments are subject to the Negative Resolution procedure, if not to Affirmative Resolution. The noble Lord has only to look at them and put down a Motion. I cannot promise that the Government will put down a Motion to negative their own regulations that would lead to a Gilbertian situation.
I am quite content to see the questionnaire in the regulations submitted, and if we do not like them we will raise the matter again.
I am much obliged to the noble Viscount. I hope he does not feel that I have dealt with it in an unconscientious way.
On Question, Motion agreed to.
Magistrates' Powers And Control Of Clubs
rose to draw attention to the increasing social evils arising from the present limitation on the powers of magistrates' courts to refuse the registration or re-registration of clubs upon successful objection by the police or a local authority; and to move for Papers. The noble Lord said: My Lords, I must ask you now, perhaps a little later than some of us had anticipated, to tear your minds away from the fascinating problem of a human census to a kind of census of clubs. That, my Lords, reveals that 60 years ago there were 6,000 clubs in the whole of the country: to-day there are nearly 25,000. Generally speaking, I think we shall agree that this fourfold increase is welcome, because it means that the amenities and social enjoyments offered by clubs have become available to an ever-increasing number of the community, and indeed to all sections.
It is true that this enormous growth has accentuated the grotesque and indefensible injustices and anomalies of our licensing laws. But I do not propose to discuss those laws to-day; nor do I wish to restrict a man's inalienable right to make a fool of himself in his own way, provided that he does not in the process harm anyone else. After all, unless you have to go to work early in the morning it is no more harmful to drink in a club at 2 a.m. than it is to drink in a pub. at 2 p.m. We have to be careful, I think, to avoid the kind of situation which is occasionally contrived by the zealots—such as, for example, in Wales, where on Sundays the pubs, are firmly shut though people can get comfortably drunk in the clubs. But I do not think we need concern ourselves with those respectable establishments where the rites are carried out with all due decorum.
My purpose in moving the Motion which stands in my name is to draw attention to the sudden growth in London, and other large towns, in the number of so-called "clubs" at which, at great profit to themselves, vicious men exploit with impunity almost every known vice, and, in the process, break almost every legal and social law,
written and unwritten. In my view there are two main reasons for this considerable increase in the number of clubs: first of all, the discontinuance since 1952 of the war-time Regulation 55C. Under this Regulation, as your Lordships will probably recall, the police could object to the registration of a club, because of the bad character of the applicant, the unsuitability of the premises, the objects of the club, or the fact that there were already ample facilities in the area. To-day, no inquiry of any kind is or can be made. Any person—a thief, a thug; even a murderer—can register a club. He has merely to fill in a form, take it to the clerk of the justices, with some rules which he himself can devise and write out, and pay five shillings. He can renew the licence every year by paying another five shillings. As Sir John Simon (as he then was) said when Home Secretary:
"If anyone wants to register a club anywhere there is no law in the land to stop them doing so. Many people are under the impression that he has to give a list of twenty-five names. Nothing of the sort. The law, as far as I know, does not prevent him registering his club if, say, he has perhaps five members."
For five shillings, therefore, anyone can have an unlicensed public house from which he can exclude the police or anyone else. And he can, in London, legally sell drinks for a total of nine hours in any twenty-four hours; and he himself chooses when those nine hours shall be.
I could give quite a number of examples of the misery that this sort of thing inflicts on ordinary, decent, innocent people, but I will just give one. In the Royal Borough of Kensington there is a mews off Cambridge Gardens. It is one of the many which have been expensively and attractively converted into a quiet residential backwater. Until the end of 1956 the British Legion had an assembly hall there, but they gave it up at that time. The property was acquired by a local publican, who opened it as a drinking club. Almost immediately, every day, but particularly on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays, the residents were suffering broken windows, fouled doorways, continuous noise up to 4 o'clock in the morning, insults, fighting, drunks and threats of violence. The police had to be called three or four times a week, sometimes even twice a day; but they were quite powerless.
Within a few months the residents organised petitions which they sent to the Borough of Kensington, to the London County Council and to Scotland Yard. Six months after the place was opened the London County Council informed the owner that in November. 1957, on expiry of the licence granted to use the premises as an assembly hall, its club use must be discontinued. He just laughed at them, and appealed to the Minister of Housing for planning permission. So the matter dragged on for another fifteen months, until in February last year a public inquiry was held. Of course the club owner lost the inquiry, but he did not lose his club. That is still functioning because, anxious as they are to end this abominable nuisance, the L.C.C. are afraid that they cannot take successful action in the courts to enforce the closure, because planning permission had been granted for its previous use before its present club use began.
I checked on the situation just a few days ago. It is still just the same. A lady resident told me, "The club is still functioning. Every weekend, Friday, Saturday and Sunday, we find it necessary to telephone Harrow Road Police Station to ask for police action to break up fights or to remove drunken men from our doorways. The mews is still used as a urinal by club members. If our sad and sorry story can be of any help towards closing such clubs my neighbours and I would be delighted." My Lords, this sort of thing could be happening right outside our own homes, and we should be absolutely powerless to prevent it, with the law as it stands at present.
In case anyone should think that this is an exception, or that it is confined to certain parts of London, or that the police have any effective powers to close such places, let me quote from a report by the chief constable of Huddersfield on a club in that town. This particular club was registered in 1932, by a man who then had fourteen convictions, including convictions for counterfeiting, gaming, wounding and many others. Throughout the years there were numerous complaints, but it was impossible for the police to get evidence because witnesses were afraid to come forward, for fear of personal violence. For 25 years, according to the chief constable, this one-man club was used for the illegal sale of liquor, gaming and prostitution. Although it was run for the man's sole benefit, his name never appeared as an official and when, after 25 years, the police finally succeeded in raiding the place he was shown in the books as an unpaid steward. That is a mild case compared with many in London.
That brings me to what I regard as the second main reason for this great and dangerous increase in the number of clubs, the Street Offences Act. Those who supported that Act claimed that it would clear the streets of prostitutes. We who opposed it said that it would "sweep the dirt under the carpet" and thus increase the evil. Both views have proved correct. Unfortunately, when you cover over any sort of dirt it starts to breed other rottenness. I am perfectly well aware that Scotland Yard and the police deny that this is true. It is quite Obvious that, having given the advice that they must have given over the Street Offences Act, they would now have to deny the results. They will no doubt go on denying it until the facts are so far beyond dispute that the Government will have to take action. There was, indeed, an article only yesterday in the News Chronicle which quoted Scotland Yard senior officials on this, and it said:
"Top men at the Yard do not believe that the Street Offences Act, by driving prostitutes off the street, has forced them into the Soho drinking clubs and presented crooks with a ready-made protection racket."
Soho is not the only place. It is impossible for anyone to say whether there are more or fewer prostitutes, but it is quite certain that a far greater evil has arisen. I would take as my authorities two that I would regard as much more reliable and less biased in this matter than the police or, indeed, any Minister. The first is Sir Laurence Dunne, who until April 14 this year was Chief Metropolitan Magistrate. A day or so before he retired he gave a Press conference at which, among other things, he said:
"The Street Offences Bill has achieved what it set out to do—to get women off the streets. It has also given a 'shot in the arm' to a lot of very disreputable cafes, unlicensed clubs and 'near-beer' clubs. They have now become the prostitutes' stamping ground. That is where they do their prostitution. It makes it very hard for the police to prove that a woman who is, in fact, soliciting prostitution, is doing so. The Bill has also strengthened the position of ponces."
I would say that if anyone in this country knew the effect of that Bill it would be the Chief Metropolitan Magistrate; and since he was retiring and able to speak frankly, I think we can take that as not only an expert but informed and unbiased judgment.
My other quotation is from an article which was published in the Daily Express in February, three months ago—and I emphasise the date. Under the headline "Why Gang Wars are Hotting up?" the article said that the police were perturbed by the mushroom little clubs with their sprays of hostesses, and juke boxes like pagan altars, which are springing up in the narrow, grimy streets near central London. Every day new clubs open in Stepney, Islington, Notting Hill, Kennington and Shepherd's Bush. They present the police with a frustrating and fearful problem because in these squalid little clubs is the germ of a situation which could resemble Chicago in the 'thirties. When the new legislation drove girls off the streets, where did they go? The amiable, easy, perhaps even the official view is that they became "call girls" or "went straight" and became honest waitresses. That is nonsense. They had to find trade somewhere, and they find it in the ever-increasing little clubs, many of them employ strip-tease girls who get £5 to perform in an area no larger than a suburban drawing room; and inevitably sitting at the bar or putting money in the juke bax are unaccompanied girls who pay the management for the privilege of being there. It is the problem which these girls create which is worrying the police. Once they are under one roof and paying money, they became a self-contained easy-money proposition. Then a group of clubs comes under the eyes of what the underworld call "tearaways". They start extracting protection money from the clubs. Then another gang realises how easy the money is, tries to move in and fights start.
That article, my Lords, was published last February. Since then what it described as the "germ of a situation" has developed into a real menace to the forces of law and order. Although, naturally, I have not investigated all the districts mentioned in the article, I have looked closely into the position in one district—Stepney. What I have seen there for myself, and information supplied to me by the clergy, social workers and probation officers, proves that, if anything, that article was a considerable understatement.
The Borough of Stepney includes the London Docks. For many years immigrants seeking work and food have settled there and become part of a respectable, hard-working community. More recently, of course, large numbers of Indians, West Africans, Somalis, West Indians and Maltese have arrived and stayed. There is work for them, and although in this badly bombed area the housing shortage is still desperate, there is no reason to think that they will not, and could not, be absorbed into the life of the borough. Before the war prostitution in Stepney was almost unknown, and the advent of coloured men is not responsible for the situation which now exists, although, of course, it underlines its gravity.
The present situation has been created by the men who have descended on the area to open drinking clubs and all-night cafés, many of which go together—and by the women and girls they bring in. Up to 1954, only six years ago, there were only 18 registered clubs in Stepney. All were established and respectable, and every one served a definite social purpose for a clearly identifiable group. Now there are 90; and if we analyse that increase over a little more than five years we find that in the first three years the increase was only twelve and in the last two years—1958 and 1959–51. none of them respectable. This year there has already been a further increase—eleven more clubs in five months.
How anyone, certainly a senior police officer, can suggest for one moment that is not cause and effect I really do not know. And this is done with impunity. For example, the Shamrock Club, which immediately backed on to the Pen Club, was not opened until after the trouble at the Pen Club in April. That has already been raided and closed; and the day it was closed it opened again as the "Ricardo"; and the police did not know anything about it until they were informed by a social worker. Within three minutes' walk of St. Paul's Church, Dock Street, there are 32 cafés and clubs. In one spot, within 25 yards, there are six combined clubs and cafés, four of them adjoining. Their hours of drinking just cannot be controlled. The police, few in number and with virtually no enforceable legal powers, are quite helpless. At any time of the day or night one can see crowds of young men lounging at the doors. Their main work is living off women, drug trafficking and all the rest. Vice has "never had it so good" as in this country to-day.
I cannot even speak, either here or anywhere else, of some of the things that go on, things which make life an affront and torment to decent people who have to live in the area. I will mention examples taken from a report published on February 1 this year by the Society of Juvenile Probation Officers. They visited a large number of these clubs, and when they visited the Pen Club, in Duval Street, a barmaid said: "I can see you are looking for dens of iniquity but you will not find anything here." A few days later the part owner of the Pen Club was shot dead there. He also owned a club in the West End. There is usually a tie-up of that kind.
Some indication of the profits earned and the power of the gangs who run these places can be seen from the fact that two important prosecution witnesses had to be kept in a secret police hide-out—one has decided to emigrate and the other is still under guard—and that a third witness was spirited or frightened away and did not reappear until the case ended. The Judge stopped the first trial, and when the first jury were empanelled for the second trial there were objections to nine of the people who were produced. At the end, the Judge said to the jury:
"No doubt you have been shocked to hear the sort of thing that is going on in this city",
and the defence counsel said he hoped that the long arm of the law would be long enough to see that the Pen Club did not operate again. My Lords, there is no "long arm". The police just cannot lift a finger to stop clubs like this being opened or reopened. On May 27 there was a news item which referred to Miss Fay Sadler, the woman who did not appear to give evidence at the Pen Club trial but reappeared the day after it was all over. The news item said that her club in Soho was struck off. Chief Inspector Leslie Jones told the magistrate that the police had been unable
to trace the secretary but that Miss Sadler's club had ceased to exist. He added that he had visited the premises of the Club at 17, Moore Street, Soho, and found a new club there which had been registered at the court. Mr. Barker granted the application to strike off Miss Sadler's club. Before it was struck off there was another club in the same premises carrying on the same kind of business. Could there by any greater farce or graver dereliction of duty than if we were not to admit these circumstances and attempt to put them right?
A few days ago the Government were pressed in another place to expedite legislation for the better control of undesirable clubs. According to The Times report, Mr. Vosper, the Under-Secretary of State for the Home Office, said:
"Consultations are proceeding with a view to amending the law as soon as practicable."
My Lords, that is not nearly good enough, At best it could mean a delay of twelve months; at worst, it might mean three or four years. Why—I hope that the noble and learned Viscount, who I am very glad to know is going to reply, will deal with this point—as an emergency measure, cannot Regulation 55C, or something equivalent thereto, be re-imposed immediately? Almost every day the papers report a gang battle, like the one in North Kensington last Thursday night, for which a headline was, "Rival Gangs in London Club Fight." They always start in or outside a club. And there is the pitiful comment of a woman living near, "I heard shouts and screams, but was afraid to find out what was going on." It has got as bad as that.
We must, in my view, act quickly, because these gangs have already become sufficiently strong to defy the law even in a case of murder, and they are continuing their ways undeterred. Last Easter morning, in the early hours of the morning, there was a bottle battle between the Dock Street Club in Stepney and the Tower Club nearby and it took three carloads of police to quell it. I spoke to a business man with premises next door to the Tower Club, now closed, who telephoned to the police. He said that he was disturbed so often by callers at 2 and 3 o'clock in the morning that he hung a notice on his door, "Gamblers next door". It is as open and blatent as that, and the police are
powerless to do anything about it. These are not the sort of places which the word "club" conjures up in the mind's eye; they are not the kind of places referred to in The Times article to-day, which are apparently doing very much better than they did a few years back. These places I am talking about are small, narrow, grimy shops, with the ground floor serving drinks; the basement is a gambling joint and there is a brothel upstairs: the most sordid and depressing and filthy sights imaginable.
Let me mention one or two other examples from the probation officers' report. The Corridor Club was, until recently, the "Horse-Shoe", and before that it was the "9A Club". It had one evening and two afternoon shows of the G-string type, performed by teenage girls for an audience of about 50, mostly City workers. Immediate admittance could be gained just by signing a membership form. The sole purpose of the performance was to attract customers and increase the sale of drink when ordinary licensed premises were shut. Marty of the worst clubs are attached to cafés. The Cockney Café in Backchurch Lane is an example. It served only tea, soft drinks and light refreshments, and full to capacity it would hold 28 people. Yet the owner paid a rent of £20 a week. He got his money, of course, from the steady flow of girls who took men upstairs. After a time, observation on the café became much more difficult, because the rooms upstairs became the Britannia Club and, of course, all those who mounted the stairs were club members.
The "Play Box", in Berner Street, close to the Bernhard Baron Settlement, was for years a notorious centre for ponces and prostitutes. The juke box went on all night, so that decent working folk in Basil House, a neighbouring block of flats, were constantly disturbed by it and by the fights and the cars arriving and departing at all hours of the night. Two years ago, after a tremendous effort, the police managed a successful prosecution. The proprietor was fined a total of £140 on seven counts, including that of allowing prostitutes to consort there, and he was deprived for five years of his licence to run a refreshment house. The very same night it opened as the Blue Heaven Club. What a sickening business for the police after all their work! What a sickening business for the people who live there! Nothing was changed, except that the police could no longer go when the local residents complained, because now it was a club. Three or four months ago the name was changed again: it is now the Transport Café. But the business has not changed.
The people who run these places do not merely use existing legislation, they are ahead of it. If ever they get into trouble with the police they can afford to pay for the best legal advice, and they often get away with it. The Pen Club case is reported to have cost some £20,000, but money is no object in this business. For example, Graces Alley is a slum clearance area. It is owned by one man, a Greek, whom I saw the other day, and the houses are all condemned, but he was allowed to patch them up. One of them was simply appalling—not even a shell: just Mother Earth, without roof, windows or doors; and on this site in the night hours, and largely in matchboarding, the Green Parrot Club has been built with rooms over the top. It exists solely for prostitution, drink and drugs. Of course, the eventual scrapping of the place as a clearance area is a mere trifle in the overheads, so large are the profits.
In my view, the most tragic feature of this business is that many of the girls are educationally subnormal. Many come in on long-distance lorries. They have run away from unhappy homes in the Provinces, or perhaps from approved schools. Through some mysterious network they get the addresses from friends, and, once contact has been made, it is only too easy for a homeless girl, susceptible to the kindness of a so-called protector, to get into the routine of organised prostitution. Late one night last winter, two girls, aged seventeen, were stranded and came to St. Paul's Church House. Both had been doing a strip-tease at the Tower Club; both were pregnant. Generally the girls are not free-lance; they are attached to a ponce. The clubs are the centres for organised prostitution and are becoming increasingly so. The men buy up houses or secure rooms for their girls, and some hovels are let for as much as £20 per week per room.
I have the names of girls who have come to London from the North (of course I shall not disclose them) and of some who, after a social worker had made contact, have been spirited away and never seen since. Others, when they are willing, have been and are being cared for at the Church House in Wellclose Square. There, on the initiative of Father Williamson, the Vicar of St. Paul's, magnificent work is being done by two dedicated women who devote their lives, and not infrequently their beds, to these unfortunate girls. No fewer than 82 have been cared for in the last eighteen months. My Lords, I have been there and I have seen them, and it is impossible to withhold the utmost admiration, not only for the work these people are doing but for their magnificent courage in face of actual physical threat. Indeed, I would couple with them Miss Edith Ramsay, a member of the Borough Council of Stepney and a former head of the Stepney Community Centre, who is truly magnificent. I suppose she has the courage, the strength and the determination of a Florence Nightingale, and she is indeed a Florence Nightingale of the brothels. Some of the younger girls are taken to Church House by the older prostitutes, who say, "You must not go through what I have gone through."
All this is in London, my Lords, the capital of the Commonwealth, where conditions, as Father Williamson told me, are as bad as any he has seen in Egypt, North Africa or Spain. As he said, "We live in hell here." I cannot say that conditions are as bad in the other districts which I have mentioned in the Express article; but I can say that I have details of examples in various parts of London where organised vice is just as rampant, and the offence to recent residents in the community just as acute, as those in Stepney. For example—and this may surprise the noble and learned Viscount—Lambeth Court is so overloaded with cases that every Wednesday they have to take an overflow right over to Old Street No. 2 court in Shoreditch; and an additional court is to be opened in Marylebone.
On May 19 the right honourable gentleman the Home Secretary said that he was satisfied that the police were doing everything possible to suppress gang, warfare and organised crime in London. Of course they are doing everything possible. They are performing miracles, with both hands tied behind their backs. The trouble is that it is not only the underworld which is affected; the gangsters not only "knock spots off" each other; they terrorise ordinary decent people in their homes and at their work.
Only two weeks ago I personally had an experience which proved to me how utterly these thugs have dominated and put fear into the minds of ordinary working men who do not normally come into contact with them. I have a factory which has what I would call a large yard. It is a public thoroughfare and it is shared with the Ministry of Labour. There is room there for three lines of vehicles. Normally, therefore, the lorries which are constantly arriving and departing every day can easily get about their business.
It was a Friday afternoon—almost the only day that I am there in the afternoon—and I saw lots of cars in the road or yardway, whatever you would call it. I asked why they were there, and I was told, "Those are the young crooks, coming up in their cars to draw their dole". I saw some half-a-dozen of my men standing still doing nothing, and I said, "What are you waiting for? Why aren't you at work?" They said, "We're waiting for the lorry to come down". I said, "Why doesn't it come down?" and they said, "The cars are in the way". I said to one of the men, "Go and tell them to move them." He replied, "I don't know who they belong to". I said, "Go into the Labour Exchange and find out." He said, "I did that last week, and they threatened me with a broken bottle in my face if I did it again". So, of course, I went up myself—thirty yards. They were not all young men. I asked, "Who does this car belong to?", and one of them said, "It's mine". "Then move it", I said, and without a word he did. But what staggered me was that my men let me walk up there and watched me come back, and when I came back one of them said, "If you go on like that you'll get a knife in your back". It does not matter whether or not that is so. What does matter is that those men believe it—and they are men of the type who two or three years ago would no more have tolerated insolence from young men like that than fly in the air.
My Lords, these conditions are a challenge to us all, and to none more than the Government, because of the conditions as to the registration of clubs that have been allowed to go on, and the things which have arisen, exacerbated as they are by the Street Offences Act. The London County Council tried to deal with the situation by promoting a Private Bill, the Registration of Clubs (London) Bill. It was not allowed to proceed because it sought to amend an important Act of Parliament, and I am glad that it was not allowed to proceed. That was obviously the right decision, if I may say so with respect. I am glad that it did not go on because the Bill permitted objection only to the registration of new clubs, whereas all the types I have mentioned are already in existence, and their number is growing daily.
It is also clear that some cafés which do not sell intoxicants are as big a menace as the registered drinking clubs. Your Lordships will be aware that at one time I represented in another place the constituency of Shoreditch and Finsbury, which includes the old village of Hoxton. It is still a village, and the people there are tough, courageous and respectable. We had only one of these evil cafés there—an all-night café. It was a resort of evil, a centre for training prostitutes and for approved school boys "on the run". The police could do nothing about it at all, so the good folk of Hoxton went and smashed it up. It was patched up again and was reopened. They went and smashed it up again; and that was enough. Unofficially, I approve, but it is bad for decent people to have to break the law as the only way to protect their homes and their children. Have we got back to the days of the Wild West and the Vigilantes? It is the Government's responsibility to create and maintain conditions in which our people can live in safety and decency.
My Lords, I want to say, with the greatest possible emphasis, that the dirt cannot be pushed any further under the carpet. It must be uncovered, exposed and dealt with. There must be an end of this kind of official humbug, pretending that things are not as they are and allowing them to get worse all the time. It was not pleasant for me to investigate this problem; it is not pleasant for me to have to come and talk about it, but somebody has to do it.
I do not expect the noble and learned Viscount to say in any detail what form of legislation the Government will introduce, but I do ask for an undertaking that the Government will take immediate emergency action. If it is not possible for Regulation 55C, or something like it, to be reimposed under the main Act, then I say it is possible, certainly with the goodwill of this House, and quite certainly with the good will of the other place, to put through during this Session of Parliament a Regulation which would have equal effect. I also ask the noble and learned Viscount on the Woolsack to give an undertaking to-night that in the next Session the Government will introduce a measure to give courts the power to refuse the registration or the re-registration of a club on a successful objection by the police or a local authority. I also ask that in that legislation in the next Session they will take powers to deal with undesirable cafés and other so-called houses of refreshment. It is no good the Home Secretary assuring us that the police are adopting new methods to tackle the gangs and to deal with the gangsters. Of course they are; and of course they must. But what we have to do is to shut the places where the gangs breed and where they make their vicious profits, which are the basis of all the things which I have dicussed.
I understand that when previous attempts have been made to revise the law of clubs and of the registration of clubs there has been great opposition by the existing respectable clubs. They fear that their reasonable liberties will be restricted—and I am glad that the right reverend Prelate the Lord Bishop of Carlisle is going to take part in this debate, because I am sure he will tell us that the Athenaeum has nothing to fear, and also that no working men's club, if it is a bona fide, respectable club, has anything to fear from a reasonable right of entry by the police in order to satisfy themselves that it conducts its affairs in a proper way. Indeed, I think that a sensible revision of the law is in the interests of all respectable clubs. But it is surely common sense, common justice, and the preservation of the true freedom of the great majority of citizens, to give the police, local residents and local authorities the right to make an
effective protest against the opening or continuance of any club or café whose purpose is clearly anti-social and evil.
The rising generation, as we know, is more mature at the same age than we were: they also have more money. But, paradoxically, though older outside, they are younger inside than we were. It is our duty to give them such protection as we can. Therefore I ask the Government to give a pledge that they will introduce the necessary legislation as soon as possible, so that decent people will no longer be powerless to prevent the demoralisation of their districts and the debauching of their young people. I beg to move for Papers.
My Lords, in supporting the Motion of the noble Lord, Lord Stonham, I must speak to your Lordships' House with the greatest vehemence I can. As your Lordships will remember, in the debates on the Street Offences Bill, I voted against the Government and against certain clauses, and mentioned twice the appalling outcome of merely taking one class—the women—off the streets and pushing them "under the carpet". The shocking situation which the noble Lord has just described is, alas! to my sorrow, largely the direct result of the Street Offences Act. In getting rid of one nuisance, it has created another, with all its hideous ramifications of vice, violence, gangs, blackmail; with, as your Lordships have heard, these wretched clubs, flowering, pushing up everywhere like mushrooms. The street-woman of 1959 has become the clubwoman of 1960. These women have been driven by this legislation into drinking dens—and what a boom these shocking places are having! Huge sums are made out of them. Criminals, pimps, ponces, call-girls, are all in this sordid racket.Your Lordships have heard how easy it is to register a club for five shillings. It is as easy as getting a season ticket. It is a very curious business, this marriage of crime and profit. And it is ironic that in war time we had Regulation 55c, simply because we were scared out of our lives for survival, in order to control these wretched clubs, whether to protect us against spies or underground machinations of the enemy. Well and good then; but now there are no underground machinations; no inquiry at all and no inspection made. We protect the citizen in war, but in peace, through misguided legislation, we hurl him into every known danger and peril as the outcome of the Street Offences Act. Would your Lordships also please contrast the sneer these dubious club proprietors must have on their faces as they go zig-zagging through my area, Stepney, opening club after club, flouting the police entirely, whilst a pathetic publican trying to get a licence to run a pub is faced with formulas far worse than climbing Mount Everest. And if a publican does not run his pub properly, he loses his licence. It may be said that a club is a private place and free from supervision. Why should the proprietor be free from supervision when he has under his care human souls whom he uses as white trash for his nefarious deals? It is a dreadfult blot on our escutcheon. There is nothing sacred in it and it is profane, this licence for five shillings, with no questions asked and the alleged rules never even looked into. London is becoming a place of fear to live in. Peaceful, law-abiding citizens in the areas of these clubs go in fear of their lives, and if they dare murmur of these terrors to the police or to anyone else, they are scared. I still want to work in the area I love, Stepney; and in recounting to your Lordships what I have seen in these clubs and cafés. I will not mention any names—I do not want to be slashed or to have vitriol thrown into my face. The force that could help us—the police force—is utterly frustrated. In my tour in my area one night I found one club proprietor who admitted that he himself had once been in the police. This job was no doubt more profitable. I am not fitted to speak to your Lordships on these evils unless I have personal evidence to offer, or your Lordships might say, "What does she know about vice and prostitution, pimps and ponces and club proprietors—unless she is in the racket herself!" I have here an application form for membership of a club as a proof of what I have seen. Here it is—I procured it on my tour that night. I passed the notorious Pen Club where Cooney was murdered. It was all boarded up. But, as the noble Lord, Lord Stonham, has said, in another street, only 150 yards off, I went into a very sleazy, posh club—and I may say that Miss Ramsay and I entered several through that long night, looking for a lost girl from Newcastle. The proprietor who had been connected with the Pen Club opened it, as you have heard, a week after the Pen Club was closed. This is one of the "hottest" strip-tease clubs in London. And will your Lordships listen to this tragedy? There are four shows daily. Have your Lordships ever looked, or taken thought to look, at the horrifying life of a striptease girl, stripping from 11.30 a.m. to the small hours of next day, giving 23 or 24 shows a day for a sum of £50 a week? These wretched girls rush from one smoky beer-stained cellar to another, racing from place to place on scooters or in cars run by their employers. They are offered fabulous fees for special "anything goes" performances. And who goes to these strip-tease shows? Ninety per cent. are ordinary City types, with black coats and striped trousers—begging your Lordships' pardon. They stride religiously into "Peeporama," and they take a pal so that they can put it on an expense account. They are aged between 30 and 55. Why do they go in? They go in to giggle and goggle and leer at these miserable strip-tease girls. I am not going to psychoanalyse their reasons. But we all know from Press articles and personal information that there is a vast strip-tease business, a business with a national turnover of £5 million a year. That is big business. Is it here to stay? How can we, as decent citizens, battle with this; or how can the Government control this big secret society, when the supporters are ordinary citizens—supporting, my Lords, these hundreds and hundreds of strip-tease clubs? They line the pockets of these men I mention who run Britain's latest gold mine. Miss Ramsay and I were totally defeated in endeavouring to witness these shows. The proprietor of the club behind the Pen Club was oily and cautious with excuses. His application forms "were with the police". I asked why? No explanation. The police had taken them in order to look at them. At another luxurious club the proprietor kicked us out with a volley of abuse. In those countless sordid, rowdy, evil-smelling clubs that I entered that night, certain wonderful people, God be praised, like my dear friend Miss Edith Ramsay or the Reverend Father Williamson, as you have heard, can walk through and enter those hideous centres, like angels of light and in a black, black world; otherwise the noble Lord, Lord Stonham, and myself could never have seen what we did see. The clubs that I entered, and I am sure those that the noble Lord entered, too, all had the blackest record. The prostitutes were tragic and squalid, and the men with whom I spoke and chatted mostly coloured. I have no doubt that they were all experts in vice, dope-selling and drug-peddling. One coloured man even offered me a dance to a "juke box", and when I said that I was too old for the "Cha-Cha" he said that he would put on a slow fox-trot for me. I said that his young companions were more suitable than my ancient self. But, my Lords, he had the touching decency to say to Miss Ramsay and me as we left that he hoped his companions had caused us no inconvenience, as some of them were pretty drunk. There is a chivalry even among these thugs and gangsters, and one prostitute said to me that she wished we could find the Newcastle girl "to save her in time from getting into trouble". So, my Lords, we hovered that memorable and tragically sordid night between respectability and vice. One coloured proprietor told us that his club had been closed by the police in a liquor raid two nights before. But there he was in the same street, a few doors down on the opposite side, having opened another club. Nothing said; nothing done. The blond girls behind the bars were all known to Miss Ramsay; they had all been up on every known charge, and, sadly, they openly chatted about it, because they depend on the flouting of the law to get on with their trades. These places that I visited had been struck off again and again, but up they pop, perhaps with the same manager, a few streets away, as you have heard, in a few days. It is exactly like prohibition days in America. The scum in these clubs is monstrous to see, and they lure in by every wile and subterfuge, often, alas! as you have heard, the weak and innocent girls; and, tragically, women police have brought to juvenile courts girls of 15 years old whom they have found in these ghastly cafés and clubs—because the cafés, too, are in the racket. The sinister web is woven by pimps and ponces all over London. Another terrible evil is the notices for models. What a gold mine for shopowners! A barrow man I watched myself off Curzon Street was selling his flowers with all these horrifying notices on the back of his barrow; and the police, whom I saw standing around, were completely impotent. How can we catch these men? And who are the men?—because they exist in vast numbers and are making fortunes on immoral earnings. One of the tragedies of Stepney, too, is the increase in high wages, because it enables everywhere the weak, rotten, poor, tempted citizens to pay vast sums for these lewd pleasures to a very high tune. I walked down a vile street in Stepney filled with battered, war-damaged hovels. All the girls were casually smoking at their doors—the police cannot touch them in the doorways—and the men, chiefly coloured, were pouring in like ants. These girls hire from a landlord a filthy room for £20 a week, but these doomed girls can coin the money. They will charge a "fiver" (your Lordships will forgive my being so sordid and vulgar) for a long spell and £1 for a quick bash". And who takes the money? The sinister employer in the background. Estate agents well known to the police are contining their business, too—and I referred to this in my remarks in the Street Offences debate. One woman, I gather, with 36 convictions has 15 flats let to prostitutes. Notorious brothel keepers in Mayfair still possess flats to let. An estate agent in Soho took over from a well known criminal and has many flats to let. All this is a great evil crossword puzzle that links up with vice and drugs, nudist shows and striptease in these registered clubs. And in these pitiable daily occurrences in this Jacket no one ever sees anything or hears anything, because a quick slash with an underworld knife is a more effective weapon than the protection of the law. Guns now play a part in the warfare, too. Gangsters have been taken up, but there is no evidence against them. Even if a man is caught with a gun on him he can only get three months. But a man should be certain of going to gaol—should be not?—if he is found with an illegal gun on him in these pitiable circumstances, where murder may come out of it. May this debate hasten the right honourable gentleman in another place to bring in this quick legislation! I realise that even he is getting bothered. But I respectfully say, "I could have told you so". To patch up this running sore in our midst, please! please! Her Majesty's Government must bring in legislation enabling, as your Lordships have heard, the police, the local authorities or the magistrates to investigate the record of a proprietor applying for registration, and also for re-registration. If the record is unsavoury, the licence should be refused. If that rule came in none of the proprietors I saw could exist at all on their dirty records. Her Majesty's Government must equally evolve legislation to catch the stooge who may be running the club, say, for a group like the notorious Messina gang, or any other proprietor who may already have a monopoly of clubs, thereby hiding his own name in his monstrous trade. So the stooge should be watched and his record identified and supervised. As I moved around that night I recalled my early days in Stepney over 43 years ago when, as your Lordships have heard, prostitution was hardly known. Of course, the population has changed entirely now, because it is largely coloured. It is the Maltese who are some of the worst offenders. A Mr. and Mrs. Summitt were in a shocking case the other day before Mr. Justice Finnemore for letting flats to East End prostitutes. The judge said that it was a story of beastliness, degradation and greed, and a shame to any civilised country The husband was in Malta, but Elia Bajada, a café proprietor, and Mrs. Summitt let these rooms to prostitutes at £2 10s. a night. These four rooms were meanly furnished and dirty, but they brought in rents totalling £3,000 a year from prostitutes. Bajada got three years and Mrs. Summitt 2½, but both had had many previous convictions for soliciting. Once she was fined £15. So light occasionally does shine but, alas! not often enough. A Stepney man, the father of seven children, Alfred Attard, was fined £30 and ordered to pay £6 in costs or three months' imprisonment for letting a ground floor room in Penton Street, which is near my own clubs, to a prostitute for £12 a week. Leo Steinberg was gaoled for three months, thank God! and fined £50 at Thames Court for allowing his premises in Stepney, in Christian Street, again not far from the Highway Clubs, to be used for habitual prostitutes. He was sentenced previously to four months, when he was fined £60 and costs. But the money is there. He goes up again for the same offence. It is the same woman who has already been up twenty times—the same man, same premises, same woman. Superintendent Charles Attwood said the woman paid £2 a night for use of the front room, though the rent book was made out for £2 a week. She never had a key. Steinberg had it, the man I have mentioned, and he opened and locked the door for her. I come back to these club proprietors. They should never have been allowed to register these premises. As you have heard from the noble Lord, Lord Stonham, they will pay anything in fines up to £200 or more, but within a week the premises are reopened on another floor or further down the street. The moment the disqualification runs out, up bobs the club again and, as you have heard, there is always that mystery on the top floor or in the basement of these clubs. You cannot get beyond the bar, the juke box, dance room or rather sleazy, gay little restaurant. That is the blind. As I realised only too fully, standing in these places hour after hour, the evil was up there, down there. You cannot get there, but I have enough imagination to know what is going on. To end my few words to your Lordships, I would say that. Stepney, alas! is not the only evil breeding ground, as you have heard. These clubs are all over the West End. The murdered Cooney owned a West End dive, too. As you have heard from the sainted Reverend Williamson, we are worse than Spain, Egypt or Africa. As surely as I stand before you the case is surely proved. The evil arises from out-of-date laws regarding registration of clubs and from the Street Offences Bill. I support the noble Lord's Motion, and I ask Her Majesty's Government to please take immediate steps to give the police the power to stop these local gangsters, so that ordinary citizens can walk abroad once again in decency and safety.
My Lords, a few days ago we had a debate on procedure in the House, and a good deal of emphasis was laid upon the undesirability of a Member of this House speaking on a subject in which he had a personal interest, at least without revealing his interest. So I must begin by admitting that I belong to a club which serves drink. I hope that the mover of this Motion would agree with me that if the Reform Club is a political evil, it is not a social evil. I must go on to say that, although that is the only club of which I am a member now, in the past I belonged to three other clubs. One was a working men's club in Bethnal Green, which I joined in the hope that I should be allowed to lecture to them—but they did not want lectures: they preferred snooker and other games. The other was the Atheneum, to which I found myself promoted after a few years at the Reform Club. My name had been down for some time. Then I found that the Athenæum very definitely did not want something that I, at the age of 40 (as I was then) happened to want. It did not want women. In those days both the Reform and the Athenæum were as completely masculine as this House was until very recently, and I found that if I wanted to entertain my lady friends I must go to Soho; and I went to Soho and joined a club there.
As one who has often accepted the hospitality of the noble Lord in the Reform, and is also a devoted member of the Athenæum, may I ask him what the Reform has got that the Athenæum has not, and why he resigned from the Atheneum to join the Reform?
May I ask him why he regards the Athenæum as promotion from the Reform?
I stayed in the Reform from conservatism. I was very happy and I saw no special reason for paying two subscriptions; so I saved the money on the Athenaeum and went to Soho. I am no longer a member of that club in Soho, but I have been told a good deal about it by a friend of mine at the Reform. He tells me that it seems to be in a very bad way financially because it seems to be unable always to provide full clothing for the ladies on its staff; whether it is financial difficulty or whether it is something the noble Lady who has just spoken calls strip-tease I will not endeavour to say. I can say nothing more about that club or about any other club. I am a member of the Reform, and I know nothing myself of clubs such as those subject to this Motion.But I am an academic person, and an academic person, if he does not know something, devotes himself to research about it; and I may assure your Lordships that, with the admirable help—I cannot say how admirable it is—of our Library here, and of the Officers of our Library, I have done a very thorough research into the licensing Acts which affect clubs, from the Conservative Act of 1902, the Act of 1910 and the Conservative Act of 1953. All of them are mainly concerned with pubs rather than clubs, but they all have a substantial number of sections about clubs. What was much more interesting and important, I found in my researches there a Report of a Royal Commission on Licensing which sat from September, 1929, to December, 1931. It also dealt with clubs as well as pubs. Its Chairman was the first Lord Amulree, and there were nineteen other members. It produced a monumental Report, consisting of 852 paragraphs, in 39 chapters, with three Minority Reports and six reservations. It dealt with clubs very shortly, comparatively, in about 50 paragraphs—I think paragraphs 493 to 539, one in twenty of all its length. But what is really important is that that Report said that clubs were one of the most important subjects of its whole inquiry, and a very large part of the evidence given to the Commission (these are its own words) was on clubs, and it was very, very critical of the clubs. It described many of them as deplorable. It described the law as utterly futile and registration as a formality. It spoke of the difficulty of getting evidence of misbehaviour; of removal of registration being no deterrent at all, because somebody else came in and opened up again. That Report told us, 30 years ago, practically everything that the mover of this Motion and the noble Baroness have told us to-day. Let me say at once that does not mean that I am not very thankful that they should have said it again. But it was all known to the Government of the day of 1931. That Report went on to propose vital changes of law as to clubs. There was to be discretionary registration, not automatic registration with annual renewal. A formal right of objection to renewal was to be given to the police; to the local authority; to any neighbouring householder who was affected by the management of a club. The police were to have—and this was a really vital point—on the order of a chief constable, the right of entry to any club to see how it was being conducted. The law then (and your Lordships will be shocked to know that the law is the same to-day) was that entry was permitted only by the authority of a justice of the peace, on a case submitted to him on full information. Otherwise, no policeman—nobody—could get into the club to find out What was happening. That was the law 30 years ago. That was the law that the Amulree Commission wanted to get altered. What happened to the Report of that Commission? What has happened since? One thing we know is that the number of clubs has increased from about 13,000 to 25,000—double. Another thing—and I believe it is possibly true; though I do not know—is that there has been more of this horrible growth of prostitution. I am prepared to accept the evidence that has been submitted by those who have spoken before me. But nothing whatever else happened about the Report of the Commission. Of course, nobody would expect anything to be done about a Report like that in the 1930's. The 1930's in this country were almost the most miserable political time in our history, with the Hitler menace growing and nobody except two people (I heard them both speak splendidly in the House), Winston Churchill and Archie Sinclair, making any real attempt in the House of Commons to get the Government to move against that menace. Why should a Government that would not pay any attention to Hitler worry about Amulree and his Commission Report and prostitution and drinking in clubs? And it did not. But now we come to after the war. One thing frankly shocked me in my attempt to discover—it was a very difficult attempt—how the present Licensing Act, the Act that is now in force, the Act of 1953, came to be drafted and put through. Would you believe it, my Lords, that that Act repeats, in all the words, everything about clubs and their registration that appeared in the Act of 1902? The Conservative Government was 50 years behind the times. So was the Labour Opposition of that time. That Act of 1953 went through literally without discussion. There was one question raised on some other point about licensing, but all the sections of the Act dealing with clubs are not recorded anywhere as having been discussed: you get only a list of them as passed.
My Lords, may I interrupt my noble friend, because I know that he does not want to make a bad point? That was a Consolidation Act and, under our consolidation procedure, we do not make changes in policy; otherwise it would be impossible to continue with the great work of consolidation and the improvement of the Statute Book. I am not objecting to any of the blame that he is seeking to place in other respects, but he cannot blame us for that one.
May I say that of course I always accept that kind of correction from the Lord Chancellor. But I still ask: why in the world was it necessary to make a Consolidation Act about clubs, repeating literally what was previously in the Act? I honestly think that it was a waste of time and energy. Would anything wrong have happened to this country if it had never been passed at all? At any rate, that is the law now—the law made in 1953. I agree that it is a Consolidation Act; that is why nobody thought it ought to be discussed. Unfortunately, there were not then the noble Lords and Baronesses present in this House to make a row about carrying on the Act of 1902 in regard to this horrible evil of clubs. It really is a horrible evil. On this occasion both Parties accepted it. That is why I am so glad that both the large Parties—I am saying nothing about the Liberal Party, because your Lordships will all realise that Lord Amulree was a good Radical, though he served for a while in the Labour Government—
I do not want to make a Party point, but since my Party was being lambasted, may we ask what the Liberal Party were doing in 1953, and what the noble Lord was doing? He was already a great ornament of this House at that time.
With all respect, and having regard to the time, I will decline to answer the noble Lord, Lord Pakenham, because I do not want to get into a political controversy. I can tell your Lordships that I have already left out a number of Party political points to shorten my speech, and I am not going to lengthen it. I am delighted that the speakers of both the great Parties, and myself, speaking as I do for the Liberal Party here, are perfectly clear that the management of our clubs to-day is a disgrace, and that it is necessary to do something to put that right.I suspect that Lord Amulree, for whom I had great respect for what he said, would have said that it is essential in one way or another now to distinguish member clubs from proprietary clubs. Let me tell your Lordships that, while wishing to put the proprietary deplorable clubs in good order and on proper behaviour, he fully recognised the need of real club life for people of all grades of society. He was not in the least a person wishing to abolish every kind of club life: he wished only to abolish the evil of it. I am therefore delighted that this Motion is going forward. I support it wholeheartedly. This story of evil is, in a sense, 30 years old. It does not make it less desirable, but even more desirable, that it should be put forward in such excellent language as it has been put forward to-day.
My Lords, I confess to your Lordships that what I have heard from my noble friend Lord Stonham, and from the noble Baroness, has simply shocked me, and if I followed my present inclination I should just sit down, on the ground that I have listened to what appears to me to be an experience completely foreign to that which I have gained in my years in Scotland. I may say that I have served as a magistrate on the bench. For those of your Lordships who do not know of the practice in Scotland, I should perhaps explain that in ordinary cases the magistrates sit there not as a bench but as individuals. I have heard cases of a more or less sordid kind, but I do not think I have ever heard of conditions such as have been described this afternoon. I can only wonder whether the licensing laws which we are operating in Scotland, particularly in respect to clubs, are so much better than those in England that the offences do not exist there to the same extent as they do here.In order to acquaint myself to some extent with the problem with which my noble friend is dealing to-day, I consulted one of the Town Clerks of the City of Glasgow, and also the Chief Constable of Glasgow. In the course of my conversation with one of the Town Clerks, he appeared to think that the problem in Scotland, or in Glasgow, was not so bad as, certainly I have gained the impression, it is in England. He mentioned, in regard to this strip-tease business that we have heard about, one occasion on which a man from England came up for the purpose of inquiring whether it would be possible to open a club in Glasgow. Having heard all the conditions with which is was necessary to comply before the club could be opened (he had given them to understand that this would be some kind of strip-tease club), he said that he would think it over and let the Town Clerk know. Nothing more has been heard of him. Apparently conditions in Scotland, in respect to the licensing of clubs, are rather different. In regard to the police, whilst I do not pretend that there are no problems of this kind in cities like Glasgow, Edinburgh, and even Aberdeen and Dundee, I cannot believe that these places have anything like the sort of clubs that I have heard described this afternoon. It is true that there have been times when proceedings have been taken against some clubs which have been proven to be not desirable, but I think that the number of such clubs has not been so great as to create, or give the impression of creating, a big social problem. Therefore, as I say, and as your Lordships will gather, I feel a little bewildered at having to deal with a problem which, quite frankly, I did not realise was so serious and so great as obviously it is, certainly in London and, apparently, even in Huddersfield. If, therefore, I am to try to justify my entering into the debate this afternoon, it is because I was wanting to look at the thing from a somewhat broader and more general angle, for, as your Lordships know, of recent years there have been quite a number of contributions to this problem, not particularly in regard to clubs, but in regard to social evils of one kind or another. Recently, we have had Questions in your Lordships' House. Only yesterday, I believe, there was a Question dealing with the running of motor cars and of living at high rates of expenditure on what are called expense accounts. Then, there was the speech in another place of Mr. Butler in regard to the Betting and Gaming Act, when he gave some kind of account of what it is that should determine opportunities or necessities for legislation. Perhaps I might quote just a word or two from what he said, because I think it is appropriate. When introducing the Bill on Second Reading in another place he said [OFFICIAL REPORT, Commons, Vol. 613 (No. 18), col. 805]:
and that does appear to be a reasonable attitude to adopt when we come to legislate upon such things. In the current number of Parliamentary Affairs there is an article by the right reverend Prelate the Lord Bishop of Exeter entitled "Parliament and Morals" and there he deals very thoroughly with these problems about which we have been hearing this afternoon. Perhaps I am interpreting his view correctly when I say that he certainly does not think that either what he calls the "theocratic attitude", which is an extreme authoritarian attitude to morals, or what he calls a "liberal" attitude, which is the more easy going attitude, is right but the law can act only as a referee in matters of this kind. I do not want to misrepresent what the right reverend Prelate said, but there he seemed to me to give a balanced view of how we should tackle the problems of the social evils of this kind with which we are faced. Then we have the Press reports which reflect not merely the events of the day but also the views, or what are supposed to be the general views, of the population upon them. Yet here, too, I am prepared to say that there are often cases of abuse. May I quote, for example, a case which was before the courts the other week in Scotland, in which two men, were charged with benefiting from the immoral earnings of a woman? The newspaper quoted what were alleged to be the actual words of the woman concerned, who was a witness, the amount she received, the time she was away, the accommodation she offered, and so on. Even on the assumption that that kind of detailed and sordid evidence was necessary in a court of law, one feels that it was not necessary in a newspaper report of a particular event. I thought to myself that if this woman who, having taken money for what she was alleged to have done, was called a common prostitute, was there any great difference between that and the action of the newspaper, also for money, in printing these sordid details for the titillation of the public? These are questions of wider issue, perhaps, than the particular one dealt with by my noble friend Lord Stonham, but I believe they form part of the larger picture with which we are faced to-day. I sometimes think that instead of publicising (as we have the right to do) the evils which undoubtedly exist—and the extent to which, apparently, they exist in London is certainly surprising—it is necessary, also, to emphasise the other side of the picture: that on the whole the population of our country is a law-abiding, kindly, considerate and dependable body of people; and that we ought to take credit for the great majority of our population, who are decent people. It is also admitted that there is a too large minority who carry on in the way that has been described to-day and that we should do all we can to eliminate, either by persuasion or legislation, the evils for which they are responsible. Yet however strongly we may feel about these evils, I think it is necessary to keep a balanced judgment upon what is taking place. We know of the increase in these evils, as my noble friend Lord Stonham has described; that there are young people who are beginning these evils at a younger age than they did in the past; and that, apparently, these clubs are multiplying. But when I look at the experiences that we have been suffering I feel that we in Scotland have not the same kind of problem as apparently exists in this country, and I ask myself whether this is due to the legislation we have. Apparently our licensing laws are different from those in England. If my own experience is anything to go by, I would say that, for example, a licence for a club is not automatically handed out on application. I make no point of the fact that £1 is paid, instead of 5s., but I do make a point of the fact that the application goes to the sheriff's clerk and not to some lower individual, and that the police make a thorough investigation into the character of the applicant. The Act lays down certain conditions which must be fulfilled, and those are not mere paper requirements. A magistrates' committee of a town council have regularly submitted to them every time they meet—and they are not sitting as magistrates on a bench but sitting in the local authority committee, as a magistrates' committee—such things as these: and I quote the heading of the minute—" Registration of Clubs, application for renewal". With your Lordships' permission I will read it as an example of the procedure."In framing our modern legislation, we must … decide what aspects of conduct can appropriately be regulated by the criminal law.… We should distinguish between what is immoral or sinful and what is criminal,"
So the impression I gain is that there is considerable inquiry before a licence is granted. The licence is, of course, renewable. If I sense that there is anything the police would like to have, it is the power of entering these registered clubs without the necessity of applying for a warrant, for that does hold up the ordinary powers of supervision of what goes on within the club, because of the technicalities necessary before that kind of order is given."The Town Clerk having reported that intimation had been received from the Sheriff's Clerk of Lanarkshire that application had been made by the Royal Antediluvian Order of Buffaloes Club for renewal of the certificate of registration under the Licensing (Scotland) Act, and that there were no police objections thereto, the Committee, after consideration, agreed that no objection be offered on behalf of the Corporation."
My Lords, may I ask my noble friend whether the police, having obtained that information, have the effective power to prevent a licence from being granted if the answers to the questions or inquiries are not satisfactory?
My Lords, with the necessary reserve I would say "Yes", because when the application comes before the magistrates they have before them the police reports and they then decide whether or not to grant it. I believe the objections are not treated in any casual fashion. I would also speak of something of which I was reminded, although I confess it did not occur to me until I had a conversation with one of the town clerks. Let us remember that the right of assembly of individuals is not here being affected. If a group of people wish to form, say, a debating society, a music society or a literary society, and so on, there is no reason whatever why they should not do so, and these legal requirements do not apply. They apply only because drink is the object against which we seek protection. Therefore, it is within the licensing laws that these applications come, and it is within the operation of the licensing laws that this business of renewal or refusal comes in. I think—or, rather, I am convinced myself—that, although I would not for a moment pretend that some of these things are not abused, on the whole, by the operation of the Act as it appears to me as I read it, conditions are not nearly so bad in Scotland. And if it be that that better state of affairs is due to our licensing laws, then the sooner similar laws are adopted for England the better can this evil be remedied.
My Lords, first of all, I must apologise to my noble friend Lord Stonham, and to my noble and learned friend on the Woolsack, because I shall not be here at the end of this debate. I should not like it to go forward to the papers from this debate that this city of ours is so much a sink of iniquity as, if I may say so, has been so ably put forward by my noble friend Lord Stonham and the noble Baroness, Lady Ravensdale of Kedleston. Yesterday my noble friend Lord Pakenham and I saw the Commissioner of Police, Scotland Yard. He gave us the courtesy of answering all questions which we liked to put to him. Here I would say that I am still a fervent defender of the Street Offences Act. I think it took an intolerable nuisance off the streets and it also, which was probably even better, took a great deal of temptation which was in the streets away from young people. I asked the Commissioner this question: "Have the clubs"—which we are debating to-day—"rocketed up in numbers since the Street Offences Act?" His answer, through his juniors who were there with the details, was, "No".I am a fervent believer that when possible, and if possible, something should be done to straighten out the question of these clubs. But we must remember that it is not just as easy as it sounds. If we licensed the lot, then the police would do a routine check to every one. The evidence is that a great many would close and would remain closed. But a great many would remain open and would, of course, give a lot more work to the police. That does not matter. The point is, to my mind, my Lords, that we must not get too sentimental—although we deprecate it heartily—about this question of prostitution, because it is the oldest thing; it has been going on for years. We cannot legislate against it; it is impossible completely to turn it out. But this is where the danger lies, to my mind, in the clubs—and I would speak from experience, because I was, during prohibition time, in Chicago, and I did not see but I heard the result of gang warfare and I did actually, through a strange experience, speak to two gangsters. So I put this question to the Commissioner: "Is it, in your opinion, or is it from the evidence which you have in the country, in the city of London, a possibility that gang warfare to a major degree could be effected, or is it arising, from the clubs that are now growing up?" His answer was: "I do not think so." I am trying to get a proper perspective of the whole of this situation. I know of the difficulties. I know the dangers of, and the cruelties of, the life of prostitution; and also of the dangers that these gangs may—shall we say—make take-over bids, not with money but with guns, knives and knuckledusters. Brilliant as the speeches were of the first two speakers, I feel that the evidence does not show—and I would not agree with my noble friend Lord Stonham-that the police were just putting up a story because they wanted a Street Offences Act. I believe their evidence. And I do not think that the evidence shows that we are in danger in this city of gang warfare to a great degree. It is not quite the sink of iniquity which it has been made out to be in this House to-night. But, on the other hand, I would most urgently ask that the Government consider the whole of this question and see whether any method can be brought forward, or legislation can be made, to put the whole matter on a proper footing.
My Lords, many years ago I was instructed to draft the rules of a club. When I looked into it I found that there was nothing easier to draft and nothing easier to get through, because when any of these rules are submitted to the clerk to the justices, his duty is simply to register them. He has no right to inquire whether the club should be registered or not. That does not come before the justices in any way. They cannot say "Aye" or "Nay" to the registration of a club. All that has to be seen to is that the drinks which are supplied are to be under the control of the members, or of the committee of the members. When you see the nominees who are put in as members of the committee, you will see that in most of these drinking clubs, these proprietary clubs, it is the proprietor who really runs the club. The trouble about our definitions in the Licensing Act is that there is no definition of "club". The legislation is aimed to protect the right-running recreational or social clubs, which are not run for profit at all, and what has happened is that drinking establishments have been set up masquerading as clubs in order to avoid the licensing laws.Let me draw your Lordships' attention to some of the differences. Under an ordinary licence you must have a person responsible. With these clubs, you need have no person; you need have only a limited company as a proprietary club with someone behind it. And what are the sanctions? A club—an undefined, uncontrolled person or thing—may be struck off, but the individuals can put on a different hat next day and can carry on the club; the same persons under a different hat. You can disqualify the premises for twelve months, but when they are disqualified the real people who run the club can go next door. On licensed premises, moreover, you are not allowed to supply drinks to people under eighteen years of age. There is no such provision in regard to clubs. In their case, any child can be supplied with drinks, or other people can treat them to drinks. With licensed premises, you must not let them be used as a place where prostitutes resort. That applies only to licensed premises: it does not apply to clubs. With licensed premises, a constable can enter and see what is happening, but not so with a club. He must get a search warrant from a magistrate in respect of a club, and must put a reasonable case before him. My Lords, what do these differences lead to? The manifestations of unlawful conduct in these clubs come before the courts, but the clubs themselves, rarely. We have heard illustrations this afternoon of cases from this great metropolis. Let me tell your Lordships of a case which we had before us, but in that part of the country in which I am partly responsible for the administration of justice—in Sussex. This was the case of a girl of fourteen years of age who, during her short summer holiday, helped as a waitress in a restaurant. A man of forty-four took an interest in her. He took her for a ride in a motor car, gave her money to buy black underwear and paid for her shoes. Within a week, he had taken her to a club—she was aged fourteen—had treated her to drinks in that club, and had then taken her to a flat immediately above. He said to her, "If you ever want to run away from home, you can always come here." Then, with another man of forty-one, he indecently assaulted her in his flat above the club, with the other man looking on and keeping watch. One of them said, "Don't be embarrassed; I see twenty girls a day like this." Those men were convicted of indecent assault upon the girl, who ran home to her mother: but there was nothing that could be done against the club. The club was, and still is, registered as a club—a place where this girl of fourteen was served with drinks, and where there were such goings on as I have described to your Lordships. Is it not important—and, indeed, the police in the county say it—that there should be an end to this easy registration and operation of clubs? These drinking clubs should not be allowed to masquerade any longer under the guise of ordinary clubs. It is all very well for ordinary members' clubs, which are not run for profit; they do not need an extension of the law, because they are run reasonably well. It is these proprietary clubs, these drinking establishments, these centres in which vice flourishes, which certainly ought to be brought within the reach of the long arm of the law.
My Lords, I think we have all been deeply moved by the situation which has been outlined by the noble Lord, Lord Stonham, in introducing this Motion, supported by all the information that has been given by the noble Baroness. I have come here to support the Motion; but, while I could corroborate and add to the evidence which has been provided by both speakers mentioned, I do not feel that at this late hour of the evening I ought to go into many details. However, as it is essential that the evidence of these conditions should be as broad as possible, I want to make it clear that I have obtained a great deal of information from responsible bodies such as the Church of England Moral Welfare Society, under whose auspices there are many workers in London and in many other big cities throughout the country. I also have information from the London Welfare Council, from the Salvation Army, and from a man who has been professionally in show business for a lifetime, and whom I am permitted to quote, as I shall do in a moment or two. My other source of information has been a borough councillor. Your Lordships will therefore see that I have tried to gain knowledge of conditions from a fairly wide source. I also have evidence of conditions in a city which I shall not mention by name, but which is in the North Midlands. Perhaps I ought to say that it is not the city of Carlisle.From all that has been already said, and from such information as I am now going to add, it is clear that we are faced with a very grave and growing social evil. Let me give you some idea of how persons are affected by it. I have here a list of young women whose lives have been fouled by this colossal evil. I am not going to mention any names, or the names of any places, but I will say that the first girl is aged seventeen. She was found by a R.S.P.C.C. officer in grave moral danger. She was acting as a hostess in one of these clubs, later closed by the police. She was an adopted child, and she had run away from her foster-home. She had lived in a room in bad quarters. That is the kind of young person who is so seriously affected. Here is another case. This young woman was referred to the Council for the Unmarried Mother, when she sought help because she was pregnant. She said that she was a telephonist but actually worked in a club. She disappeared until picked up at King's Cross Station by a Salvation Army Worker. She disappeared again and was next found in hospital with pneumonia. She has since disappeared, and no-one has been able to find her. A third young girl worked in a striptease club. She became pregnant. She said that she was staying in a house owned by the manager for his girls when they became pregnant. The baby was eventually looked after by her father's mother, who lives in appalling slum conditions. The girl herself was last seen with a man, and subsequently disappeared. I could quote many instances like these, which I give in order that the evil we are facing may be presented to us in personal terms. Let me say one word in reply to the noble Lord, Lord Grenfell, who seemed to think that the increase in clubs had not been so great since the passing of the Street Offences Act. There is very strong, clear and reliable evidence that the number of clubs has increased since the beginning of 1958. Seventy-five per cent. of the present clubs were not registered before 1958.
My Lords, is the right reverend Prelate referring to the Metropolitan Area?
Yes, my Lords. I am glad the noble Lord has made that clear. Your Lordships can draw such conclusions as you like about whether or not the Street Offences Act has been instrumental in increasing this number. I think that preparations for opening clubs were made fairly well beforehand, as soon as it became known that the Street Offences Bill was likely to be passed into law.Let me quote another piece of evidence, lest it may be thought that the evidence I am giving had been collected by people who have religious and other interests in collecting it. I have been in touch with a man who has been professionally in show business all his life, and here is something which I am allowed to say. The first part of his statement refers to strip-tease clubs:
Those are strong words, my Lords, and I am sorry to have to quote them: but I do so to bring home how serious these conditions are in this Metropolis. And though they may be less serious in other cities, it is the kind of thing that easily spreads. I want to emphasise what has already been emphasised, in order that I may broaden the appeal and make it as wide as possible. I do not claim to speak here in the name of the Church of England, though I think that I am representing fairly well the mind of that Church. I am certainly relying a good deal on information provided by the Church of England Moral and Welfare Council. To check the growth of this evil, legislation is necessary, and it must be the kind of legislation which will give the police and the magistrates a chance of carrying it out. There was some suggestion that legislation might be confined to the Metropolis. In my view, that would be quite useless and dangerous. Legislation should be on a national basis, for it is not only in London but also in some other great cities that this evil resides. I have a report from the North Midland city I mentioned, and I am permitted to quote as follows:"The performances are tasteless and tatty, not to mention lewd. The behaviour of the artistes on the stage is certainly not professional in the theatrical sense of the word. To me there is nothing artistic about the presentation of these nude female bodies, bodies which for the most part are neither beautiful nor even particularly clean. There is no lighting or make-up effects to improve the spectacle. In fact, the spectacles are uncouth, tawdry and distasteful, and make you feel disgusted and sick. I had seen nude performances in many of the red-light quarters in Europe and none of them, in my opinion, are as disgraceful, tasteless and nude as are these London shows."
I quote that so that there may be no danger of concluding that we are concerned only with a particularly black spot in some part of the Metropolis. I want to plead for legislation to be very clear and definite, and such as can be made effective. I am grateful to the noble and learned Lord, Lord Denning, for what he has said. It encourages me to believe that it is not beyond the wit of man to devise such legislation. I would submit something of the following. If clubs were licensed on the same basis as public-houses, then the premises would have to be inspected by justices; and I would plead that a standard should be established by which to judge their suitability. At present, any old shop or basement or attic can be used as a club. Then they should be subject to inspection by the police at any time. I know that here there may be the objection by some clubs that this is an infringement of the right of free association, but I should like to express my belief that most clubs in this country are decent clubs, and that most of the people who use them use them for right and proper social purposes. If we appeal to them to give up even a little of their freedom for the sake of clearing out these dens of iniquity, I am sure the response will be what we should expect from people who are accustomed to our way of living. I do not think that legislators ought to be held back for fear of any kind of strong feeling on the part of the clubs that are decent and traditional places and such an important part of the life of our country. Then the manager or person responsible for the running of the club ought to be approved by justices, as is the manager of licensed premises. I feel that this is an important item and a very justifiable condition. Not long ago I had a letter from a licensing authority about a young man whom I had known years ago and who was applying for a licence for his hotel. I was very moved by the fact that they had taken so much trouble to find out all about this young man. I had not seen him for ten years, but I had once given him a reference and I was written to direct. If it was worth while taking so much trouble over granting a licence to a responsible young man, certainly it is worth while taking equal trouble to protect the public by finding out what kind of people desire to run licensed clubs. Accordingly, I think that the Licensing Act should be amended to deal with this matter and make the provisions of the Act which apply to licensed premises apply to clubs, as well. I would put in here one other note I have made. I understand that the Society of West End Theatre Managers have made, or soon will make, representations to the Home Office about certain kinds of clubs which can only be described as lewd. That is another representation pressing for new legislation, and I am sure that the Home Office will give full attention to it. Let me plead now that weak legislation at this point would be worse than useless. We are up against a very powerful combine. I want to emphasise that what we are talking about to-day is not just ordinary immorality, due to human frailty, human weakness or human sins. We are all familiar with that kind of immorality and most of us feel that we want to go in sympathetic help to such people and discover how they can be redeemed from their own weaknesses. But here we are faced with evil in a gross and beastly form, organised for commercial gain by clever and wicked men. They are the villains of the piece, not the unfortunate females, or, indeed, the unfortunate young males, who are tempted so strongly by the forces within them that they get beyond their control. We all have sympathy for young people who are moved by these deep forces and by the temptations which make it so difficult for them to exercise control. These men behind the scenes plan and propagate this evil by subtle and ingenious devices, drawing into their net girls and young women, who in many cases have been unfortunate in their home life or are unable to understand or control the strong forces within them. They are found to be easy prey, and are tempted by the money offered; but they soon discover that they are the victims and slaves of vice. I would plead that the Government should be courageous and go in for legislation which they believe can be made effective. They will have the support of all the decent people of this country. When we appeal to the better feelings of the British people, I am quite sure that they will all be behind any Government, irrespective of political Party, that will endeavour to clean up by legislation these spots which are a disgrace to our country. The legislation must be directed against the people who stand behind the scenes of action, the purveyors of vice who hire the bodies and damn the souls of women, and of men, in their selfish pursuit of what can be literally and rightly described as filthy lucre."Many cafés and clubs are opened in large houses. These are generally in a bad state of repair. The cafés are opened in the basements and it is suspected that the upper rooms are used for immoral purposes. Some cafés and clubs are only open for a few months. They subsequently reopen in the same house under another name and with fresh, glaring paint on doors and window frames. In this city the clubs and cafés are generally opened by rich prostitutes, who use them to attract young girls they may use as call-girls or to make money for the owner in the usual way. Certain kinds of men are said to make huge sums of money from these places and from underground activities connected with them."
My Lords, the right reverend Prelate can be sure that the House has been deeply moved by his speech, and I should like to support very strongly his main contentions. There is a pleasant custom in this House that any Peer who opens a debate is congratulated and thanked for the immense services that he has rendered, whether the subject is appropriate or not. But to-day there can be no doubt whatever that we must feel a debt of a special kind to the noble Lord, Lord Stonham. He has not only brought this matter before us—and that was important enough—but has tackled it in a manner that was so courageous, so concrete and so irrefutable, at any rate in the cases he actually took for illustration, that it stands, in my opinion, among the most notable speeches to which we have listened in this House for a long time. Certainly the noble Baroness, Lady Ravensdale, maintained the same level of speaking from the depth of her wonderful concern for the human beings involved, and showing, as one would expect, an equal courage.I should like to support those speeches, and, indeed, all the speeches that have been made in support of the noble Lord, Lord Stonham. It is noticeable that, so far as I can tell without any calculation, we have had a front this afternoon which has united all sides of the House. The noble Lord, Lord Beveridge, spoke from his great researches from the same point of view, and we have had with us the Church and the Law. I feel sure that, whether or not the noble and learned Viscount on the Woolsack, whose concern for public morals is so well known to all of us, is able to say anything very positive this afternoon, he will in conjunction with his colleagues in no mean fashion ponder over all that has been said. The Motion on the Paper is a fairly narrow one, and I do not wish to detain the House for more than a few minutes; certainly I shall not try to bring in any really new matter. We are asked to notice
Though we have ranged—and I am sure the noble and learned Viscount will not object—a bit wider than that, we obviously are not attempting this afternoon to tackle the whole question of crime and vice. I say that, because there are those of us here—the noble Baroness is prominent among them, and also the right reverend Prelate, the noble Lord, Lord Stonham, and, indeed, all speakers—who, if we were really thinking of the whole assault on viciousness, would talk more about the constructive or redemptive side which was clearly in the mind of the noble Baroness when she was speaking. This evening we are dealing with what might be called the negative aspect. We are seeking, most of us, to confer more powers upon the police and courts of law. We do not forget that these unfortunate people—even the worst of them, and even those so rightly castigated by the right reverend Prelate—are human beings, and on another day we are concerned with their welfare, whether they find themselves in or out of prison, or wherever they may be. This afternoon I think this strong support for the police comes rather well from those of us who are particularly interested in the criminals, because penal reformers are sometimes accused of being too softhearted towards the criminals and not fair enough to the police. We do not accept that charge, but I think it right to make it plain that some of us so concerned with delinquents realise that in matters of this kind we owe a great duty to the police. We must see that they are supported in their efforts to tackle this organised vice. The facts are not substantially in dispute, I think. The noble Lord, Lord Stonham, gave so many positive illustrations that few of us will have much doubt about the general nature of the situation. There is one aspect of the argument on which I myself am not trying to rest any conclusions. As the noble Lord, Lord Grenfell, mentioned, the authorities at Scotland Yard, with, I am sure, the good wishes of the noble and learned Viscount, were kind enough to see the noble Lord and myself yesterday. I am aware of the view formed in Scotland Yard, as mentioned by the noble Lord, Lord Grenfell, that the Street Offences Act has not in fact led to an increase of these clubs. That, in my view, is a matter of opinion. Having conducted an inquiry in my time, with facilities from the noble and learned Viscount, into the causes of crime, I know how problematical these conclusions must be. Perhaps the noble and learned Viscount could say something more to-day. But I am not concerned (and I do not honestly think that it makes very great difference when it comes to legislation and the remedies) whether the great increase of vice and the great extent of vice—because even the increase can be argued about—has been brought about by the Street Offences Act. I do not know that the question of whether the Street Offences Act did or did not play its part in bringing about the present situation is a matter on which a conclusion is necessary one way or another. That is my own position. There are those who would say that, not the whole of London but certain parts of London certainly, must be regarded as places of fear, as an iniquity and a blot on the name of the city we regard as the greatest in the world. All that, and more than that, I gladly accept. The question then arises—and this is all I mean to touch upon now—what can we reasonably ask the Government to do about it? I say "the Government" because this afternoon I, at any rate, do not feel qualified to point out their duty to social reformers and others of these splendid people like Father Williamson and his assistants. It would be much better—I expect they are too humble—if they began pointing out my duty to me. I am therefore, as a public person, concerned with the Government. If the Government say that Opposition people should also assist, then let us be given our guidance and let us throw ourselves behind the Government in helping them in any way they think useful. But what can the Government be expected to do? The Sunday Pictorial has recently conducted a very interesting inquiry into the whole position, into what they call "The hidden menace". Whilst I am not going to say that I agree always with everything the Sunday Pictorial or the Daily Mirror offer, between them they appear on this occasion to have rendered a distinct public service. They came out with a three-point plan, but I am concerned this afternoon only with one point, and that is a point which has been brought up in one way or another by other speakers. One of their points is a wholesale attack on pornography. That is entirely laudable, but I must leave that over today. They also argue that it ought to be made an offence to commit the sex act for money, or to seek to do so, or to incite or abet any such attempt; and the man who prowled after prostitutes should be guilty of an offence. Some of us at the time of the Street Offences Bill were anxious to catch the customer along with the lady, but the House did not share our view, though we had a powerful group, which included, among others, the noble Baroness, the most reverend Primate the Lord Archbishop of Canterbury and Lord Attlee. I personally—and I speak entirely for myself—should be happy to see prostitution—that is, the sale of one's body for money—made a criminal offence, and I should be happy to see anybody penalised who played any part in those operations. We heard some interesting remarks about Scotland from the noble Lord, Lord Greenhill. He told us—and I do not doubt it—that things are much better there. It appears that in Scotland the man who loiters for the purpose of im- portuning a woman can get 30 days' gaol on second conviction."the increasing social evils arising from the present limitation on the powers of magistrates' courts to refuse the registration or re-registration of clubs upon successful objection by the police or a local authority."
I did not know that.
That is what I am informed. If that is so, that may be one of the reasons why things are better in Scotland, in addition to the reasons mentioned by the noble Lord.I want to come down to the particular aspect on which we have tried to concentrate this afternoon. It seems to me that two main provisions have been urged upon the Government: they go together but they are distinguishable. First of all, there is the restoration, in effect, of Regulation 55c. I am sure we shall be told that if it were to be restored it could not be restored in quite that way. But at any rate there should be the restoration, by whatever method is thought most advisable, of the power which existed up to 1952 under the war-time Regulation 55c. In other words, an applicant who wishes to open a club should be compelled to establish his own bona fides and that of his associates, and also the respectability of his objectives. It might be that on other grounds—unsuitability of premises, or certain other grounds—the police would have reasonable cause for objection. At any rate, he would have to go to the courts and establish this all-round respectability before he could get his club registered or reregistered. That goes closely with what I am going to say in a moment and what has been said so strongly by the noble Lord, Lord Stonham, the right reverend Prelate and others—the freer access of the police to these premises. At present if you strike a club off the owner can start quickly again. It seems to me that we have to make a double attack on these wicked club owners. We must make it difficult for them to start the club in the first place, and we must find means of stopping them if they are misbehaving themselves. If they are then struck off we must make it difficult for them to start again. So the two ideas go together: the difficulty about registering a club and the better control of the club when it is functioning. When we come to the question of control of the club, the right reverend Prelate said clearly that clubs should be placed on the same footing as public-houses in a great number of respects, including the access of the police to the premises. I realise that there are rather difficult matters of definition here on which the noble Viscount may wish to inform us. I am not trying to lay down the law as to how exactly you would define a club for this purpose. I am quite certain that a definition could be found which would catch most of the evil clubs—it might not catch all—although I realise that there would be some awkward cases. At any rate, if the registered clubs, as we understand them, were placed under the same restrictions as public-houses, we should be a long way forward. I do not think anybody could doubt that by taking a step of that kind we should be launching a serious attack on vice. There might be objection from the vicious people themselves, but we hope that they would not be listened to too carefully. The only objection would come from people who say that an Englishman's club is his castle and that if you try to stop the wickedness of the Pen Club you interfere with the harmless activities of the Reform and Athanæum. That is the only argument against a measure of this kind. I think the right reverend Prelate put it better than I can: that these high-minded people in the clubs we mentioned should reasonably be expected to make this very small sacrifice. I do not myself see that it is a sacrifice at all, for a reason I will come to; but even if there were a small sacrifice they should be ready to accept it in the interests of national morality, to which I am sure they all subscribe. But would it indeed be any sacrifice? It would not be necessary for a uniformed police officer to make his way into one of the innermost sanctums of these famous clubs. At the present time, I am told, the leading hotels are in fact visited by police. I have never seen a police officer there in uniform, but I am told that they make it part of their duty to visit the leading hotels. It could be, if they ever get worried about one of these clubs, that they would feel it necessary to call and see the secretary, but I do not suppose myself that they would, in practice, think it necessary. It would simply give the police the right to inspect club premises in the way that they have the right to inspect premises of public-houses. If you wanted to, you could go further and put a duty on them, but I would not at the moment necessarily go as far as that. I would leave it to the consideration of the Government. But, at any rate, I would give the police the right to enter club premises. Here, again, I must place myself in the hands of the lawyers, but I should think also that if you gave them that right you would give them the power to interfere with certain practices inside these clubs with which they would not at present be able to interfere. There are certain practices forbidden in publichouses—gathering of prostitutes and thieves, and so on—and I hope if the police were given this right of access they would be able to check that kind of congregation and a number of undesirable activities. I am not trying to draft any legislation this afternoon. I am simply trying to draw together what has been the overwhelming feeling of the House. This thing cannot be left as it is. It is already a disgrace to London and, in the end, it would be a disgrace to all of us in public life if we just made speeches about it and went our way and did not bother to find out very much whether anything had flowed from our eloquent words. Reference has been made more than once to that wonderful man, Father Williamson, and in a pamphlet about reclaiming prostitutes and girls in moral danger I notice that he uses this expression:
I give all praise, and I know in this House and many other places we are sincere in paying tribute to this work. But there is a kind of danger or temptation which can afflict us in doing so. We are able to console ourselves with the thought that these people are doing this work; how marvellous that our race is throwing up people like these who are doing this work! In public life, are we entitled to draw that kind of consolation from those who are setting an example unless we are prepared to follow that example? Whether we look at the individuals, these young prostitutes who are being corrupted, at the police whom we ought to help, or at our own good as a community, one with another, I would feel that we are failing badly in our Christian duty if we leave matters as they are. I have thrown out suggestions, obviously not perfect; none of us has come down with precise words adapted for an Act of Parliament. But we know that in the Lord Chancellor there is a man who at times, if I may say so, has faced no little unpopularity in order to try to improve public morals. I would much rather, if he could not say anything very definite this evening, that he did not feel bound to give a negative answer. I would much rather wait until he had had time to consider these matters in the light of this discussion. But naturally I hope that he will be able to say something encouraging. When all is said and done, we now confide the matter to the Lord Chancellor, and there is no one in public life who would be more anxious in his heart to try to give effect to what has been the overwhelming feeling of the House of Lords this afternoon."These places must be under the supervision of women like my two workers, who are most humble, entirely dedicated to the work, and have such an abundance of charity that when they have done all within their power and been let down they lift up the soul for God to bless and care for".
My Lords, I shall do my utmost to respond to the invitation of the noble Lord, Lord Pakenham. I was glad that he mentioned at the beginning of his speech that the debate had run rather wide. We have had a considerable amount of discussion on crime in general, on prostitution and on sex, and I hope that your Lordships will not hold it too hardly against me if a great deal of my speech is relevant to the Motion that is on the Order Paper.I think it is some time since your Lordships discussed the question of registered clubs, and it is a subject of no little controversy and complexity. I think it is most opportune that we should consider it now, because, as I think most noble Lords are aware, the Government have announced their intention, in accordance with an undertaking in the Election Manifesto, to introduce amending legislation about clubs; and in a debate in another place last January my right honourable friend the Home Secretary indicated the lines which he thought this legislation might take, subject to the consultations and discussions that are proceeding. Therefore, I am grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Stonham, for raising the matter, and I shall refer in a moment to these proposals of my right honourable friend. I should like to say now, however, that I know that Mr. Butler will consider carefully everything that has been said to-day and especially the slant and the problems which have exercised your Lordships' minds. I am not saying that as a preliminary excuse for not discussing the question of legislation. I shall do that. But Mr. Butler was very anxious that your Lordships should know that all you have said, and whatever you may have to say on these problems and the subject generally, will be of the greatest interest to him. I hope your Lordships will not think it a work of supererogation if I say a few words about the present law and the difficulties which have attended many attempts to alter it, because I think we should be clear about the background against which any current proposals for amendments of the law should be considered. The noble Lord, Lord Beveridge, was absolutely right in his law: that the present law about registration of clubs, which is now consolidated—as I am sure he did not object to my pointing out to him—in the Licensing Act, 1953, was first enacted in 1902. It is quite true, as Lord Stonham said, that the club need only be registered with the clerk to the justices; but I point out that the registration, which is automatic, does require the furnishing to the clerk of the particulars prescribed in Section 141 of the Act, which include the name and objects of the club, the number of members, the rules relating to election of members, hours of opening and the like, together with the payment of the small fee. The noble Lord, Lord Stonham, seemed to be under some misapprehension as to the conditions of the sale of liquor. A club cannot select any 9 hours in the 24; it cannot supply liquor earlier or later than the statutory earliest or latest hours, and there must be a break of at least 2 hours in the afternoon. Lord Stonham rather gave me the impression that he thought that they could select any 9 hours which would take them over any period which they found most attractive to their purposes. They cannot do that; they are limited in the way that I have mentioned.
Will the noble and learned Viscount forgive me for interrupting him? The limitation is nothing like the same limitation as that which is imposed on a public house. They can, and do, serve drinks, for example, in the small hours of the morning.
No, they cannot; and if they do they are liable to be struck off. I am not saying that the noble Lord does not know of clubs that do it; but they should not do it, and they have not the right to do it: That was what I ventured to correct him on. They are within the same limits as public houses, and they have to have this 2-hour gap in the afternoon. If they break these laws they are liable to be attacked and struck off. I am not here to "whitewash", but I think that if we are attacking things and attacking laws, we ought to be correct in our basis for such attacks. These particulars must be furnished on initial registration and thereafter annually. Of course, the noble Lord is quite right in saying that there is no power on the part of the clerk or the court to refuse initial registration or annual re-registration; and it follows from this that there is no power on the part of the police or anyone else to object to registration. To this extent, the noble Lord's Motion understates the case. It is not a question of limitation on powers to refuse or object, but of absence of such powers. I recognise that. I think the noble Lord will know, from his great experience, that it is seldom that he would find a Government spokesman in a debate more Royalist than the King on the Motion that is put before him. I wanted to make that point clear.
Would the Lord Chancellor clear up one point on powers? One of the great points made by the Royal Commission was that, although the law had provided means for getting clubs struck off on evidence, it had made it practically impossible for the evidence to be obtained—because there was no right of entry. As I read the Act of 1953, that situation stands, so the police cannot discover whether misbehaviour is going on. I wonder whether he would agree with that, and that there should be some amendment in that respect.
I agree that there are not the powers of entry, but I do not agree that it puts the problem beyond the powers of the police. For my first ten years at the Bar, I practised a great deal in criminal courts and I have seen a great many prosecutions of this kind. But the noble Lord is quite right—there is not the power of entry that there is into licensed premises. That is a point which I want to discuss somewhat more fully in a moment.
Please forgive me.
Not at all; I am most grateful to the noble Lord. But I did want to point out that the grounds (I am not going to read the section) upon which a club can be struck off include frequent drunkenness, illegal sales of liquor, or that the supply of liquor is not under the control of the members or of a committee appointed by them. I was not sure whether Lord Stonham had appreciated that one of the grounds on which a club can be struck off is that there are fewer than 25 members, or that the club is not conducted in good faith as a club. I think it is important to remember that point.
This is quite an important point. I did quote the former Home Secretary on this point about the minimum of 25 members. Is that a recent alteration? The noble and learned Viscount quoted the Statute.
May I quote the Act? It is Section 144 (1) (a):
The other paragraph I had in mind was paragraph (b):"— that the club has ceased to exist, or has less than twenty-five members."
I think those words are rather important. I do not think that the noble Lord had in mind (it is difficult to remember everything) the bit about 25 members; and, of course, an "unlawful purpose" would include brothel-keeping, if that was done on the club premises. On the other point, that when striking a club off the register, the court may disqualify the premises from use as a club for a period not exceeding one year, on a first order, or five years, on a subsequent order, my noble and learned friend Lord Denning, said that they can go next door. Well, that is often much easier said than done. It varies according to the circumstances. Nonetheless, I think that is a useful provision. It is true that the police may enter a club only on the authority of a search warrant issued by a magistrate and must be satisfied by information on oath that there are reasonable grounds for believing that the club is so carried on as to constitute a ground for striking it off the register. I do not think that the difficulties on that point are so overwhelming, but I should like your Lordships to suspend judgment until I have developed my argument. It has long been felt that these provisions are not adequate to prevent abuse, because initial registration is no more than a formality; and even if the club is struck off there is the difficulty, which I recognise, that if the premises are not disqualified it can come forward again under a new guise, though, from my own experience, I do not believe it is so easy to find new premises. I should not like the noble Lord, Lord Greenhill, to think that I have not paid attention to his speech. If I may say so with respect, I think he put the position of our native land absolutely correctly; and it is only fair to him and to the noble Lord, Lord Stonham, who is putting forward this Motion, to say, without going into details, that the licensing law of Scotland with regard to application and re-registration is much tougher than the law in England, and already has a number of the provisions for which noble Lords have pleaded in England this afternoon. I should like the noble Lord to know that I have carefully examined the position in Scotland and am fully familiar with it. I believe that the noble Lord, Lord Greenhill, would agree with me that the objections to a club which can be made at the sheriff court are very specific; but if the objection is established one can go to the sheriff who will deal with re-registration the next time it comes up. I do not deny that there are bogus and undesirable clubs, some of which are unsavoury in themselves and by reason of the persons who frequent them. The Government are not complacent about the position; indeed, it is partly because of the recognition that the defects in the present law give rise to social evils that the Government have decided upon legislation. But while we must not be complacent, it would be equally wrong to suppose that the kind of clubs which have been the subject of recent cases, which have naturally attracted much publicity, and which have been so vividly described to your Lordships this afternoon, are so typical of the generality that there is nothing for it but to impose fairly drastic restrictions on the formation of any club where liquor is being supplied. I believe that that would be to get the matter totally out of proportion, and in a moment I will deal with figures which I have examined. We must also recognise that even if new legislation succeeds in preventing the formation of clubs where criminals and the like foregather, this will not prevent these undesirable persons from congregating somewhere or other if they are so minded. But having said that—and I should not like it to be thought that we in your Lordships' House had got the matter out of proportion—what I said a moment ago is not a reason for refraining from tackling the problem of the undesirable club. We should not be under any illusion about it. With regard to the numbers, if I may say so, again with great respect, I believe that there has been some confusion among your Lordships as between clubs and cafés, because the right reverend Prelate the Lord Bishop of Carlisle has said that the number in the Metropolitan area has increased by 75 per cent. since 1948. I got the figures from the Commissioner of Police—"that the club is not conducted in good faith as a club, or is kept or habitually used for any unlawful purpose."
I believe the right reverend Prelate said since 1958.
The right reverend Prelate said since 1958.
Yes, but the noble and learned Viscount on the Woolsack said since 1948.
My Lords, I am most grateful, because that is most important. I had intended to say 1958. He said that since then the num- ber has increased by 75 per cent. I got these figures from the Commissioner of Police, who says that the number has increased by about 62 per cent. since 1945—from 2,274 to 3,682; and, as the noble Lord knows, these were the figures given to him and the noble Lord, Lord Greenhill, yesterday. This is rather important, because it has to be remembered that clubs have steadily increased in this country since the beginning of the century, but particularly, since the First World War. I have tried to be fair. Before dealing with figures, I remember what was said by my noble friend Lord Waldegrave, quoting Professor Blackett of Edinburgh, as saying that politicians were inclined to use statistics as a drunken man used a lamp-post—for support rather than illumination; and therefore I have tried very hard to see that I used the figures fairly.
My Lords, I may have been mistaken to the extent that I said that this increase was in the Metropolitan area. It may have been in a smaller area than that. But I believe that in stating that in that particular area there had been an increase of 75 per cent. since the beginning of 1958, I am not mistaken.
My Lords, I am quite sure that the right reverend Prelate is thinking of Stepney, where, beyond any dispute, the number of clubs has increased by that proportion in that time.
My Lords, again with respect to your Lordships I believe that in that figure the noble Lord is including cafés, because on the figures put by the noble Lords, Lord Pakenham and Lord Grenfell, the number of clubs has increased to 90, which is 72 per cent. I understood the explanation was that cafés were included, because, again, I have the figure. There are only 65 clubs in Stepney, Bethnal Green and Poplar, so that the figure of 90 just does not fit in with that unless it includes cafés. I am giving the police figures which show that in London there has been an increase of 62 per cent. in 15 years. Your Lordships must consider what has happened before, and I will take, as comparable—and I hope your Lordships will think this is fair—the period 1945 to 1959 and the period 1920 to 1935.In that period, the period which I am comparing, 1945 to 1950, in London the numbers increased by 62 per cent. But in the whole country they increased by much less than that. Between 1945 and 1950 they increased by 23 per cent., and between 1950 and 1959 by 20·5 per cent. If we look at the same period from 1920 to 1925 we find that they increased by 30 per cent.; from 1945 to 1950 they increased by only 23 per cent.; from 1925 to 1935 they increased by 30 per cent. And from 1950 to 1959, over the whole country, clubs increased by only 20.5 per cent. These figures show that the increase after the last war has been less than the increase after the First War; and that, I think, is something one has to bear in mind. Noble Lords have been good enough to say that the police are emphatic that their view is that there has been no change in the situation since the passing of the Street Offences Act. They have said that they kept a close watch on clubs and that:
The point the police made was that it is not an economical proposition for prostitutes to use clubs for the purpose of soliciting, and they say that the prostitutes would do far better by operating on their own premises and advertising; and, although the pattern has not fully emerged, they believe that the majority of the prostitutes now operate under a "call-girl" system. And, of course, arrests are only 10 per cent. But the police say they have no positive information that protection rackets were developing as a result of the situation. Of course, they are watching the situation clearly. I do not want to go into matters which I discussed very fully at the time of the Street Offences Bill, but I should like to remind your Lordships' of this. I told your Lordships that when I was Home Secretary I sent out two highly intelligent people, one of my best civil servants and a very good officer from Scotland Yard, to examine the different systems in the different States in the United States; and the result of their information was that the decline in acceptance of temptation to sleep with the woman was 30 per cent.; that 30 per cent. less temptations were accepted under the "call-girl" system than when prostitution is pushed at the man by the prostitutes in the streets. Therefore, one has to bear that in mind. The noble Lord, Lord Stonham, would be the first to accept this. He said, "Of course, the police advocated the Street Offences Act and therefore they are partipris". But I might as well say to the noble Lord that he was a passionate opponent of the Street Offences Act and therefore he is partipris. One does not get much further that way: I give your Lordships the evidence as it was given to me. Now may I give way to the right reverend Prelate if he wishes to speak?"We could tell from those on which we kept observation, and subsequently raided, that the number of prostitutes who used them had not materially increased."
My Lords, I thank the noble and learned Viscount for giving me the opportunity of apologising for a mistake. I should not have said "Metropolitan Area". Seventy-five per cent. increase is the figure given to me as in one magistrates' court area in a district in London. Seventeen out of the twenty clubs now existing were not in existence before 1958.
My Lords, I cannot, of course, verify that and I do not know the area. I have dealt with the figures which dealt with the main point that was made, but I will look into that. I cannot say what the circumstances were at that special time. That is the position on the Street Offences Act.With regard to the cafés, the noble Lord, Lord Stonham, will remember that up to the time of the passing of the Street Offences Act a café could be disqualified, I think, only on a second offence; now it can be disqualified for a period right away. So there we have brought into being what he in his speech wanted; that is, regarding the cafés which remain open after ten o'clock in the evening: they require refreshment-house licences, which are issued by the London County Council. Although the London County Council have no discretion to refuse a licence, on conviction for certain offences (including drunkenness, disorderly conduct, or the presence of prostitutes) the licence may be revoked and the licensee of the premises disqualified for a period not exceeding five years. As II said, before the Street Offences Act that could happen only after a second conviction; now it can happen after the first. Something has been said about Regulation 55C. Of course I am a very good, or perhaps a very bad, person to say that to, because I abrogated Regulation 55C—I should say that I abrogated the remainder of it: the Labour Government abrogated part of it—and I should like your Lordships to know that. It was brought in in 1942 and it enabled the police to oppose the registration of clubs on one or more of four grounds; first, that having regard to existing facilities, the club was not required; secondly, that the club premises or their situation were unsuitable; thirdly, that the particulars of the application were incorrect or incomplete; fourthly, that the character and antecedents of any of the promoters were such that it ought not to be registered. As I say, the Labour Government did away with the requirement about the premises; and I had to face the situation in 1952 that that Regulation was introduced in 1942 with the object, first, of effecting economies in supplies, including supplies of liquor; and secondly, to save police manpower, by preventing them from having to deal with undesirable clubs. The first of those matters was an entirely wartime purpose, and it just happens to be contrary to my political philosophy that regulations that are made during the war for two purposes, one of which was a war purpose, should be kept on in time of peace for other purposes. I do not think that that is the way we ought to legislate, and so I did away with the Regulation; and, of course, it would require legislation to reintroduce it. That leaves only an objection to using the Regulation. The noble Lord, Lord Stonham, can check me, but I am sure of that point. As he knows, I had to deal with this matter all along. Now that is the situation. The noble Lord, Lord Beveridge, said: why has action not been taken since the Amulree Report? I do not feel too much on the defensive, because I have said that we are going to take action; and, after all, we have not been the only Government or the only Party in power since 1902, so we all share to some extent the blame, if blame there be, for not having done it up till now. The noble Lord, Lord Beveridge, told this House about the House of Commons before the war. I was there and he was not, and I am actually refraining from taking up his challenge because there are so many other points, but I should not like him to think that, on a suitable occasion, I shall not take it up again, for there is nothing I would enjoy more. However, to come back to the matter, I want to put before your Lordships as briefly as possible the main reasons which have prevented legislation hitherto, because they illustrate the difficulties and, at the same time, explain the way in which the Government are now approaching the question. There are two opposing schools of thought on the subject. On the one hand, there are those who, like the noble Lord, Lord Stonham, and others, seeing the ease with which a club can get registered for the supply of liquor and the abuses to which this can give rise, and comparing it with the fairly strict control over the grant of licences for the sale of liquor, naturally think that a club should be allowed to supply liquor only if it survives the scrutiny of a court and the challenge of the police where the latter see good ground for objection. There are also those, particularly in the licensed trade, who would say that, in the interests of fair competition, clubs that supply liquor ought to be subject to at least some of the restrictions imposed on licensed premises, including, again, some discretionary powers to refuse an application for registration. On the other hand, we have the point of view of the reputable clubs, of which there are thousands, both inside and outside the leading club organisations, and which are a traditionally legitimate and valued part of our social life, and are the basis of the Johnsonian comment, "He is a clubbable man". These clubs take the view that any group of respectable citizens with some interest in common ought to be allowed to form a club and, if they feel so disposed, to supply themselves with liquor there, without any interference from outside. Noble Lords have given the answer that these respectable clubs would have no need to fear from a system of discretionary registration and police objection and inspection. The clubs, however, rightly or wrongly, do not look at it in that way. Their point is that if the members of a club, whether it be a working men's club in a mining area or a club in London's West End, prefer to meet and take refreshment, including alcoholic refreshment, on their own premises rather than in a public-house or in the cocktail bar of a hotel or restaurant, why should they first have to ask the permission of a court? Why should they have to submit to the possibility of police objection, any more than a group of friends gathering in a private house should have to do so? This is the real difficulty, and I remember very well, when I was Home Secretary, this point of view being put to me very forcibly by the Working Men's Club and Institute Union, as well as by the Association of Conservative Clubs; and, as my right honourable friend the Home Secretary indicated in a debate quite recently, that is still their view. Accordingly, this cuts right across Party divisions, and it is not surprising that all previous attempts at legislation, whether by the Government or by Private Members, have failed. I am not going to give your Lordships a detailed account, but I would remind your Lordships (and this may be within your recollection) that only three years ago this House, after a full debate, refused to give a Second Reading to a Bill promoted by my noble friend Lord Merthyr which would have empowered the courts to refuse registration of a club if objection was made by the police and sustained on certain specified grounds. If the noble Lord, Lord Beveridge, would like to continue his researches, he will find that in Hansard for February 19, 1957. It is against that background, my Lords, that, as my right honourable friend said in another place, we need to find an approach which will avoid abuse of the law without detriment to the rights of the individual or legitimate club interests; and my right honourable friend suggested that this approach should take the form of drawing a distinction between genuine members' clubs—that is, clubs effectively controlled by, and run for the benefit of, members—on the one hand, and proprietary clubs, on the other. My right honourable friend expressed the view that the present law was right in allowing automatic registration of a genuine members' club. As to proprietary clubs, some can be as respectable as members' clubs, and have been carried on for years without the slightest ground for complaint. But some are little more than unlicensed drinking shops, and, as the noble Lord, Lord Stonham,, has pointed out, places where even more discreditable things happen. In their case, there is some justification for the complaints that have been made. In addition, of course, my right honourable friend pointed out, as did the noble Lord, Lord Stonham, that there are the undesirable "mushroom" clubs which make a quick profit for the promoter before they fall foul of the law, and then spring up again in another guise. These are the clubs which have been the subject of the indictments in your Lordships' House to-day, and I think that almost entirely—I put it as high as that—they are proprietary clubs. They are certainly clubs that could not pass the test of a bona fide members' club. In the light of these considerations tentative proposals were circulated to the main club associations land other interested bodies, including the Magistrates' Association, as the basis for comment and discussion. The essence of the proposals is that members' clubs should retain their present right to registration, provided that, on first registration, and annually thereafter, they pass the test of being genuine members' clubs run by and for the benefit of members, and satisfy somewhat more stringent conditions than at present as regards their rules. The registration authority will be the magistrates' court, and not simply the clerk to the court. Proprietary clubs (and as I say, in my view, they are the basis of the evil which we have been discussing to-day) would cease to be entitled to be registered as clubs; and if they wanted to supply liquor they would have to apply for a justices' licence in the ordinary way, though some transitional provisions might be made to ease the position of existing, respectable proprietary clubs. The details of these proposals need careful working out, and they are now being studied further in the light of the comments and suggestions which have been received. My right honourable friend has very much in mind that any legislation for distinguishing between genuine members' clubs and others should also have the effect of weeding out the undesirable clubs, though it is by no means the case that all proprietary clubs are undesirable. I do not think that a proposal of this sort would merit the potential criticism of the right reverend Prelate. I do not think that he would find in bona fide members' clubs girls led astray and the other abuses which horrify us so much. We have to find a test for proprietary clubs, which are the ones with which my right honourable friend intends to deal. The noble Lord, Lord Stonham, asked me about time. My right honourable friend is now reviewing the proposals with the intention of introducing legislation as soon as practicable. The noble Lord knows the rules that govern these matters. I would say to him, and I want him to take this at the foot of the letter, that it is our hone that legislation will be sooner rather than later. He will realise that I am trying to be as reassuring as I can, but I cannot go farther than this at the beginning of the month of June. In the meantime, I will bring to the notice of my right honourable friend everything that has been said in the debate. I always enjoy very much the speeches of the noble Lord, Lord Pakenham, on moral questions. When I saw his name on the List of Speakers I could not help philosophising upon my own difficulties, and if I could express them to him, I would do so. I am not fitting caps, I assure him, to him or anyone else—merely stating the difficulties that have appeared to me. One of the awful thoughts that comes to one when considering social reform is how much it has been delayed by the action of good men. The good men usually fall into one of three classes: the pre-conceptionists, the perfectionists and the egocentric empiricists. The pre-conceptionists see some immutable moral principle being affected by the specific reform. I suppose that the most famous example in history are those laissez-faire economists who were the most bitter opponents of the seventh Earl of Shaftesbury in his desire to prohibit children from being employed in coal mines until they reached the age of ten. The perfectionists always feel that anything that recognises that politics is the art of the possible is wrong. They say, "A plague on any of your compromises", and result in making the best the enemy of the good. The egocentric empiricist—and this is the great fear and threat to all of us, including myself—is the person who has thought out a solution to a problem and simply cannot understand the human fatuity that sees any fault in the solution. I respect and love all three classes, but when think of the delays that have been caused to human decency, comfort and happiness, I think nostalgically and wickedly of the political philosophy of Henry of Navarre, which was contained in the phrase,
—and of that of my countryman, the great Montrose, who was prepared to fight and die for the middle course. I have thought to inflict this on your Lordships because we shall have great difficulty in finding an approach which has any chance of commanding sufficient approbation to be brought into effect. The noble Lord, Lord Pakenham, was good enough to ask me not to close any doors, and I shall not do so; but I would also ask your Lordships not to close any doors. If your Lordships will examine this approach to the differences between bona fide members' clubs and proprietary clubs, as I have suggested, improved, as your Lordships no doubt could improve it, then we have some hope of solving a problem which has been apparent for the last 30 years, as the noble Lord, Lord Beveridge, has pointed out, and probably long before. If we take too severe a view, we may fail to find a solution for another 30 years."I want to see every peasant with a tickle in his pot on Sunday."
My Lords, before I express in your Lordships' name and in my own thanks to the noble and learned Viscount for the speech he has just delivered, I hope your Lordships will allow me to say a word of thanks to all those who have made contributions to this debate. Some have stayed the course, but others have sent me word that they could not stay. I should like to thank the noble Baroness, Lady Ravensdale of Kedleston, for a completely informed and stately, but nevertheless passionate, speech. She has devoted her life to the prevention and suppression of many of the evils we have been discussing to-day, and I am most grateful for her unswerving support in this matter, which I know will continue.I am most grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Beveridge, for his contribution and for the research he has carried out, and for proving so clearly that nothing has been done in this matter for 60 years. The evidence he put forward clearly confirms all that was said by the Amulree Committee. I am also grateful to my noble friend Lord Greenhill, who did so much to help to prove our case. He said that there was little organised vice in Scotland and pointed to the difference in the law affecting the regulation of clubs. I think, and I am sure that the noble and learned Viscount the Lord Chancellor thinks, that there is some connection between the two things. I am very glad that that has been pointed out. Of those who spoke prior to the noble and learned Viscount I think the only noble Lord who was not in complete support was the noble Lord, Lord Grenfell, who said that he could not remain until the end of the debate. He said that we had had the answer from the Commissioner of Police, who said that the number of clubs had not increased suddenly. If I may say so to the noble and learned Viscount on the Woolsack, I do not think it is very important whether they have increased suddenly or not. Our case depends on the undisputed fact that there is organised vice and that there are gangs—and you certainly cannot go two days running without getting fresh evidence of that. So that I do not think it matters very much who is right about the sudden increase in the number of clubs, and whether it is due to prostitutes. It matters only from the point of view of the credibility that your Lordships can attach to anything else that I said, and I bring it up only for that reason. I would assure your Lordships and the noble and learned Viscount that the figures I quoted did not include cafés. I have checked this up this afternoon. These figures have been extracted from the records at the Thames Magistrates' Court and the Old Street Court. Those two courts cover a bigger geographical area than Stepney, but these figures apply only to the Borough of Stepney. I would just give the figures. In 1954 there was an increase of 18 clubs. In the three years 1955, 1956 and 1957 there was an increase of 12, of which 3 were respectable clubs. In 1958 there was an increase of 19, one of which was respectable. In 1959 there was an increase of 32—and in that year we were coming into the Street Offences Act. This year the increase is 11. That makes a total of 92. As I say, these figures have been extracted from records and they are absolutely up to date; this report came into my hands on May 30. I would submit to the noble and learned Viscount—and I am sure it will go to the Metropolitan Commissioner—that I do not think the Commissioner has examined the records in the same way. If he doubts the correctness of anything of that nature I have said, then I personally should like to conduct the Commissioner and show him the evidence which he doubts, which I am sure will convince him as I have been convinced. I make no reflection or suggestion other than that. The right reverend Prelate the Lord Bishop of Carlisle made it clear that his material had been provided for him; but, if I may say so with respect, he made remarkable use of it and, I thought, put his points not only in a moving but in a convincing and effective way. I am very grateful for his speech, supported as it is by the powerful opinion of the Church of England Council for Moral Welfare and the other authorities that he quoted. I always tremendously enjoy what the noble and learned Viscount has to say to my noble friend Lord Pakenham. On the points my noble friend put, that we should make it a criminal offence to allow the sale of one's body for money, and that we should put clubs on similar lines to public houses and give the police the right of entry, I do agree with him; and I feel, whatever the Working Men's Clubs Association may say, that it is the overwhelming feeling of the House, and I think of the country, in the light of recent experience and knowledge, that this should be attended to. The noble and learned Viscount gave us three divisions of good men: the preconceptionists, the perfectionists and the egocentric empiricists. I am not a good man, so I can claim not to belong to any one of those three bodies. But I do assure him that never, certainly since I started my humble political career, have I allowed myself to make the best the enemy of the good. I realise that there are many difficulties. I am grateful for the fact that the Government have been giving and are giving this matter such earnest consideration. I appreciate that it is quite impossible for the noble and learned Viscount to be any more definite than he has been on the point of time, but, so far as I am concerned, I should not in any case like to commit myself to expressing an opinion as to whether a possible solution along the lines on which the Government are working is the right one or not. I am sure it is not the best; but, having regard to what he said about the best being the enemy of the good, I should not like to commit myself either way. There is, however, another body which does not come within the Lord Chancellor's sphere; that is, the people to whom a vested interest is paramount. I would say that, whether the vested interest is in a working man's club in Carlisle or a West End club in Pall Mall, if they pursue their vested interest to the point where the country has to tolerate an iniquity, then it would be an un-Christian act, and I think they would be condemned by public opinion as a whole. I am grateful to all noble Lords who have spoken for the contributions they have made. I will study the Lord Chancellor's speech with the closest attention. He has had a long ordeal and has paid the greatest possible attention to what we have said, and we cannot be too grateful to him for that. While we have not got everything that we might like, I feel that the debate may have done some good, and it is in that belief that I ask your Lordships' leave to withdraw the Motion.
Motion for Papers, by leave, withdrawn.
Brighton Corporation Bill
Reported, with Amendments.
House adjourned at eight minutes past eight o'clock.