§ 3.23 p.m.
§ Order of the Day for the Third Reading read.
THE EARL OF ARRAN
My Lords, I beg to move that this Bill be now read a third time. Your Lordships will be aware that there are three Amendments to be dealt with this afternoon. I hope the House will agree to follow what I understand is the customary procedure when there are Amendments on Third Reading; that is to say, to take formally the Motion which I am now moving, and then, after the Amendments have been dealt with, to debate the complete Bill, as it is finally amended, on the Motion, "That the Bill do now pass". Accordingly, I beg to move formally that this Bill be now read a third time.
§ Moved, That the Bill be now read 3a.—(The Earl of Arran.)
§ 3.28 p.m.
§ On Question, Whether the Bill shall be now read 3a?
§ Their Lordships divided: Contents, 83; Not-Contents, 39.147
|Aberdare, L.||Canterbury, L. Abp.||Ironside, L.|
|Aberdeen and Temair, M.||Clwyd, L.||Kinnoull, E.|
|Addison, V.||Colville of Culross, V.||Longford, E. (L. Privy Seal.)|
|Adrian, L.||Cranbrook, E.||Merthyr, L.|
|Ailwyn, L.||Cromartie, E.||Milford, L.|
|Airedale, L.||Elliot of Harwood, Bs.||Mitchison, L.|
|Allerton, L.||Emmet of Amberley, Bs.||Monson, L.|
|Amherst, E.||Falkland, V.||Mottistone, L.|
|Amulree, L.||Faringdon, L.||Mowbray and Stourton, L.|
|Archibald, L.||Furness, V.||Norwich, L. Bp.|
|Arran, E. [Teller.]||Gardiner, L. (L. Chancellor.)||Ogmore, L.|
|Asquith of Yarnbury, Bs.||Grantchester, L.||Reay, L.|
|Attlee, E.||Granville-West, L.||Rowley, L.|
|Audley, Bs.||Greenway, L.||Royle, L.|
|Baldwin of Bewdley, E.||Gridley, L.||Runciman of Doxford, V.|
|Boothby, L.||Hall, V.||Sackville, L.|
|Boston, L.||Hampton, L.||St. Davids, V.|
|Bowles, L.||Harlech, L.||St. Just, L. [Teller.]|
|Brockway, L.||Harvey of Tasburgh, L.||Samuel, V.|
|Burton of Coventry, Bs.||Henderson, L.||Sandford, L.|
|Byers, L.||Henley, L.||Sandys, L.|
|Segal, L.||Stonham, L.||Thurlow, L.|
|Shepherd, L.||Stow Hill, L.||Twining, L.|
|Sinha, L.||Strabolgi, L.||Wade, L.|
|Snow, L.||Strang, L.||Wakefield, L. Bp.|
|Soper, L.||Strange of Knokin, Bs.||Wells-Pestell, L.|
|Southwark, L. Bp.||Swanborough, Bs.||Wootton of Abinger, Bs.|
|Stair, E.||Taylor, L.|
|Albemarle, E.||Howard of Glossop, L.||Milverton, L.|
|Ampthill, L.||Iddesleigh, E.||Monsell, V.|
|Auckland, L.||Ilford, L.||Morton of Henryton, L.|
|Balerno, L.||Kemsley, V.||Oakshott, L.|
|BIyton, L.||Kilmuir, E.||Rathcavan, L.|
|Clifford of Chudleigh, L.||Lambert, V.||Rowallan, L.|
|Daventry, V.||Leatherland, L.||St. Helens, L.|
|Dilhorne, V.||Lindgren, L.||Saltoun, L.|
|Dudley, E.||Long, V.||Shannon, E.|
|Ferrier, L.||MacAndrew, L. [Teller.]||Sherwood, L.|
|Fortescue, E.||Mancroft, L.||Soulbury, V.|
|Grenfell, L.||Merrivale, L.||Strathclyde, L.|
|Horsbrugh, Bs.||Middleton, L. [Teller.]||Stuart of Findhorn, V.|
On Question, Amendment agreed to.
§ Resolved in the affirmative, and Bill read 3a accordingly.
§ Clause 1:
§ Amendment of law relating to homosexual acts in private
§ 1.—(1) Notwithstanding any statutory or common law provision, a homosexual act in private shall not be an offence provided that the parties consent thereto and have attained the age of 21 years.
(2) An act which would otherwise be treated for the purposes of this Act as being done in private shall not be so treated if done—
(a) in the presence of any person other than the parties to the act; or
THE EARL OF ARRAN moved, in subsection (2), to leave out paragraph (a) and to insert instead:
(a) when more than two persons take part or are present; or".
The noble Earl said: My Lords, the purpose of this Amendment is to attempt to meet the point made by the noble and learned Viscount, Lord Dilhorne, in regard to what constitutes privacy. Your Lordships will note that Clause 1(2)(a) as it now stands excludes from the terms of the Bill an act
if done …in the presence of another person other than the parties to the act".
But the noble and learned Viscount pointed out that this wording may not achieve the purpose intended, because it may not cover a case where there are more than two parties to the act of gross indecency although there is another person present who is not a party to the act. The present Amendment, which has been drafted by Parliamentary Counsel,
will, we hope, remove any doubts on this point by providing that an act is not treated as being in private if more than two persons take part or are present. I beg to move.
Page 1, line 11, leave out paragraph (a) and insert the said new paragraph.—(The Earl of Arran.)
§ VISCOUNT DILHORNE
My Lords, I think this Amendment is an improvement to this Bill—if that is the right word to use about this Bill. The best improvement to this Bill would be to cut its throat; but if its throat is not to be cut—and we shall make further efforts to do so—this is a better definition of "privacy" than that which appears in the Bill in its present form. I am grateful to the noble Earl and also to the noble Lord, Lord Stonham, for meeting the point I raised at an earlier stage of the Bill.
§ THE EARL OF ARRAN moved, after Clause 8, to insert the following new clause:
§ Past Offences
§ ".—(1) Except as provided by the following provisions of this section, sections 1 to 3 of this Act shall have effect in relation to acts done before the passing of this Act as they apply in relation to acts after its passing.
§ (2) Except as provided by the next following subsection, this Act shall not have effect in relation to any act which is, or apart from this Act would be, an offence where the defendant to an indictment for that offence has been committed for trial before the passing 149 of this Act or, as the case may be, a court-martial for the trial of that offence has been ordered or convened before the passing of this Act.
§ (3) The foregoing provisions of this section shall not operate to increase the punishment for any offence committed before the passing of this Act."
§ The noble Earl said: My Lords, may I speak to this Amendment and also to the other Amendment standing in my name simultaneously, although of course they will have to be dealt with separately. These Amendments are an attempt to meet a point raised by the noble Lord, Lord Faringdon, in Committee. He felt uncomfortable about Clause 9(5) which states, in effect, that, despite the provisions of the proposed Act, an offence which was committed before the Act came into force would still be an offence. This seemed to him, and to me, to be wrong. The Amendments before your Lordships' House seek to correct this position. They say, in effect, that, except in cases where a person has already been committed for trial before the commencement of the Act, no person shall be convicted after the passing of the Act for conduct which has in itself ceased to be an offence. They also say that the increased penalties under the Act—and let us not forget that there are increased penalties proposed for offences against minors; and this is very important—should not apply to offences committed before the passing of the Act. Put simply and briefly, we are saying that as from the passing of the Act we are starting again.
§ There is, however, one point which may not entirely satisfy the noble Lord, Lord Faringdon. If criminal proceedings have already been instituted before the passing of the Act, then the terms of the Act will not apply. In other words, such proceedings will continue. The noble Lord, Lord Faringdon, may not be entirely satisfied, but I deeply hope that he will not object. Our courts are not Hollywood courts, not—to those familiar with television—Perry Mason courts, where there is a last-minute intervention and a cry of" Reprieve!" The law is the law, and once invoked it must pursue its inexorable course. I understand this, and I hope that the noble Lord, Lord Faringdon, will do so, too. After all, he will have secured nine-tenths of what he rightly desires.
§ But there is a third point arising from the noble Lord's Amendment which, so 150 far as I know, has not been raised. If, by any chance, this Bill should be enacted, what will happen to those who are already in prison and, under the terms of the Act, are not criminals? Will they be released? I ask Her Majesty's Government for advice on this point. I beg to move.
After Clause 8, insert the said new clause—(The Earl of Arran.)
§ 3.42 p.m.
My Lords, the noble Earl, Lord Arran, besides producing this particular Amendment, has referred to what is behind it, and I am extremely grateful to those who have cooperated to produce an acceptable Amendment. When I say "acceptable" I do not wish to imply that I myself accept it—I do not. It is not satisfactory and it does not meet the whole of my case, although, as the noble Earl said, it does meet nine-tenths of it. It will, however, remain the case that where proceedings have been begun against a man before the passage of this Act we shall still have the extraordinary situation of court proceedings going forward, and of a defendant being judged by a jury or by a judge under a law which is no longer our law for the commission of an act in respect of which, had it been committed at the time when the sentence was passed on the defendant, no proceedings could have been taken because no offence would have been committed. This, quite clearly, is an anomaly, though I see that there are very considerable and heavy difficulties in the way of meeting this particular anomaly.
Having said that, I can only hope that the noble Lord, Lord Stonham, who has shown himself so sympathetic all through our proceedings dealing with this Bill, will be able to give me an assurance that administratively everything possible will be done to prevent this situation from arising. For example, it is already the case, I believe, that chief constables have been asked, before opening proceedings of this kind, to consult the Director of Public Prosecutions, and I suppose that if this were done in the circumstances which I have outlined there would be no prosecutions under a law which was already about to become obsolete. Similarly, I suppose that if a judge or a 151 court was passing a verdict on a man after the passage of the Bill for an offence which was no longer an offence, this would weigh very heavily with the court in considering the penalty to be imposed. With these rather unsatisfactory consolations I am bound to be content, but I hope that the noble Lord, Lord Stonham, will be able to give me some kind of assurance such as I have asked for.
§ 3.44 p.m.
§ THE JOINT PARLIAMENTARY UNDER-SECRETARY OF STATE, HOME OFFICE (LORD STONHAM)
My Lords, we should very much have liked to find a way of meeting 100 per cent. the case put in Committee by the noble Lord, Lord Faringdon, but it has just not been possible to devise a workable provision to cover cases in which proceedings may already be in progress when the new law comes into force. We are considering a Bill, and the only point at which the courts may take notice of it is when the Bill becomes an Act of Parliament. The cases may be at one of a number of stages ranging from the hearing of committal proceedings to the summing-up by the judge of evidence already taken at a trial; or it might happen even at the time of the retirement of a jury. They may or may not be cases in which the defendant would escape conviction if he had the benefit of the new law.
Our problem was how it would be possible at the particular stage of the proceedings which had been reached to identify a defendant entitled to the benefit of the new law so there ought not to be a conviction. As the proceedings would have been conducted under the present law the defendant would simply have been charged with a particular homosexual offence. The proceedings would not have been concerned with the crucial issue under the new law of whether the offence was with a consenting adult in private. Therefore there would not be, or there would not necessarily be, evidence on which the court could decide these issues in respect of the case before it. A similar problem would arise when a defendant had been committed for trial and the trial had not yet begun. Who would decide, and how? Who would decide whether the defendant was entitled to the benefit of the new law?
152 In order, as I say, to frame a workable provision it has been necessary to draw a dividing line between cases already committed for trial when the new law comes into force and those which have not, and to provide that the former should con-tine to be dealt with under the present law. Of course, as my noble friend is aware, there is no reason to foresee that there would be many cases in progress when the Act came into force which would create difficulty. If however a case was in progress in which the defendant could be convicted for conduct which would clearly be lawful under the new law, it would be open to the court to take note of it in considering the penalty to be imposed.
The noble Earl, Lord Arran, in moving the Amendment went beyond its scope and asked me, as indeed did my noble friend Lord Faringdon, what would be the position of all people who, when this Bill becomes law, are in prison for offences which under the Bill would cease to be crimes. This is not just those whose cases were in process when the Bill became law, to which my noble friend has referred, but those convicted and sentenced beforehand, although what I am about to say applies a fortiori to the "pipeline" cases to which my noble friend referred, if there were any. My words have been chosen with care. If this Bill becomes law the Home Secretary would be prepared to look at the cases of those who are serving terms of imprisonment for conduct which had ceased to be an offence, and to consider in each case the possibility of recommending the use of the Royal Prerogative of mercy to remit the remainder of the term. I hope that your Lordships will feel that this Amendment and the assurances I have given fully cover the point which was made.
§ Clause 9 [Short title, citation, interpretation, saving and extent]:
THE EARL OF ARRAN
My Lords, this Amendment is consequential upon the previous Amendment which we discussed. I beg to move.
Page 5, line 18, leave out subsection (5).—(The Earl of Arran.)
THE EARL OF ARRAN
My Lords, I beg to move that this Bill do now pass. I am not going to talk about the Bill itself, I have said all that I have to say on that subject. Instead, with your Lordships' permission, I propose to speak about the future of the Bill if your Lordships are good enough to pass it this afternoon. I say "the future" but in fact there is seemingly none.
THE EARL OF ARRAN
I respect the noble Lord's opinion. No one high in the Commons ballot has seen fit to take on this Bill and the Government will not promise time and facilities to debate it in the other place. This means that our Bill will moulder until the end of the Session and will then, for the second time, die. It will be two years before these matters are debated again.
This seems to me absolutely wrong. We have spent in all eleven days of Parliamentary time on this Bill. It has been fought and debated up and down this Chamber. One hundred and thirty-five speeches have been made by serious men and women for and against, and 192,000 words have been spoken. And in the end, at the point of exhaustion, we threshed out a Bill which pleased this House once, by a large majority, and which, if I am not over-audacious, looks like doing so again. It also pleased the other House, though it had to be introduced afresh there—but it was none the less your Lordships' Bill. Had it not been for the General Election, it would almost certainly have been on the Statute Book before the Summer Recess, though probably in amended form.
As it is, where are we? The answer is, nowhere and with no prospect, seemingly, of getting anywhere. It takes the heart out of one. What is the point of all this, if it is to be entirely disregarded? Why are we here? I think that the House will know me well enough by now to know that I am not a political animal. I would speak in exactly the same way to a Tory Government. I am, on the other hand, very much a House of Lords man. I believe in the House of Lords. I like to think that we do a useful job here and that our views and findings are taken seriously. If it is not so, we might as well pack up and go home. This Bill is to me a touchstone 154 of the importance or otherwise of your Lordships' House—but let me leave that aside.
I speak to the Government to-day not as a critic, but as a suppliant. I ask for their help and their indulgence. I have the honour—I regard it as a very high honour—to speak on behalf of perhaps one million men, men who cannot, who dare not, speak for themselves, men who are despised, men who are deprived, men who are different from the rest—as some of your Lordships insist, bad and evil men, but men who are not criminals. Shall we not listen to these findings? Shall we not listen to the things these men themselves cannot say? Shall we not give them peace? Can your Lordships think of anything more frightful than for a man, very often a decent man, to feel that he is a potential, if not an active, member of the criminal classes?
We have before us to-day a major measure of social reform. This Government declare themselves, I believe genuinely, to be a reforming Government. Reform is the very essence of their beliefs and their intention. I know that they have a heavy legislative programme. I know that their job, first and foremost, is to carry out their mandate and that other things, however important, must come second. Nevertheless, second things can have their place. This is a long Session. Cannot time be found during the next eighteen months to settle this business? Surely it is not too much to ask. I appeal to the Government, in the name of justice and social progress, to give aid to those who watch, and wait, and hope.
§ Moved, That the Bill do now pass.—(The Earl of Arran.)
§ 3.55 p.m.
TIIE LORD ARCHBISHOP OF CANTER-BURY
My Lords, as my noble friend Lord Arran has just said, the arguments of this Bill have been heard many times and, like him, I do not intend to repeat any of those arguments. In the debate on the Second Reading of the present Bill a few weeks ago, it was acknowledged on both sides of the discussion that there is a great concern for the upholding of the standards of morality in this country. That is acknowledged, and the issue is: what is the role of the law in the up- 155 holding of morality and, in particular, what is the role of the present law? I have argued all along that the present law makes it hard to help those whom society should help to free themselves from wrong influences. But none of those arguments do I want to repeat. Like the noble Earl, I want to say just a word or two about the future.
If this Motion is carried presently, what will the position be? The position will be this. This Bill has been carried in your Lordships' House in two successive Parliaments, and in the last Parliament the Bill was given its second Reading by a large majority. Is it not therefore fair to say that there is no doubt now as to the opinion of Parliament upon the issue raised by this Bill and the reforms which it proposes? It would seem a lamentable pity if difficulties of time and procedure now make it impossible to give legislative effect to what appears clearly to be the judgment of both Houses of Parliament. Therefore, I want to join the noble Earl in begging the Government to facilitate this Bill by accepting it as their own.
The noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor has voted for this Bill; the noble Earl the Leader of the House has voted for this Bill; in another place the Home Secretary has spoken very powerfully on behalf of the Bill. Is it too much to hope that the Government, by adopting the Bill, will carry into law a reform which appears to have the strong support of the majority of both Houses of Parliament?
§ 3.58 p.m.
§ THE EARL OF KILMUIR
My Lords, I have spoken so often on this Bill that it would be a poor compliment to your Lordships if I thought that my views were unknown, and therefore I want to follow my noble friend Lord Arran and the most reverend Primate in not repeating the arguments which we have made in the past, but simply to give a brief explanation of the vote which I wish to get and which I shall ask the House to let me give. I have listened with all the care and attention I can command to the arguments in favour of this Bill, but I go out "by the same door as in I went". I am not only not convinced that this Bill is necessary or desirable; I am convinced that it will be one of the most serious 156 blows at our moral standards that has taken place this century.
It is one of the problems of government—and I ask Her Majesty's Government to consider it as a problem of government—that government and life must always consist in a proper admixture of liberty and order. Few who look at the condition of our country to-day would deny that the problem of arriving at the right admixture is one of the most serious in our national life. I know it is easy to make satiric fun of those who believe in the necessity in some fields of order supported by the sanctions of law. I know it is always attractive to every one of us in this House, whatever our political views, to be, apparently, lighting a new candle of liberty. But on important occasions there arises a confusion between a supposed candle of liberty and the will-o'-the-wisp of licence. I would remind your Lordships again, as has been often said before, that that will-o'-the-wisp rises only from the irridescence of decay. Because I believe that it is a will-o'-the-wisp, because I believe that the end of the search is decay, I shall seek to divide your Lordships against this Motion and to vote against the Bill.
§ 4.3 p.m.
§ LORD SOPER
My Lords, in allowing my name to be set down to take part in this debate, I was well aware that by the time it came for me to speak what I had to say might well have been said by a previous speaker. That, in fact, has happened, and I undertake not to repeat what was the substance and the spirit of what I intended to say, as it was most admirably set forth by the most reverend Primate. What I should like to do is to add, in two short comments, support for what to me is a matter of equally intense moral concern as it most obviously was to the last speaker.
I would not pretend to represent the Nonconformist conscience; but I know a little about it. Your Lordships will be aware that in past days there was a tendency for personal morals to be more rigid and for social morals to be more radical: teetotalism alongside political radicalism. It is, therefore, the more remarkable that within the last decade there has been a great and significant movement of conviction away from the narrower standards that, as I believe, once prevailed in this particular field of personal 157 ethics; and from a democratic standpoint I would, if I may, ask the House not to under-value the transformed situation which has been represented in public declarations by most of the Nonconformist bodies, to which I made reference in a previous debate and will not repeat now. It is for this reason that I am the more persuaded that there is democratic authority outside this House and throughout the country for the kind of changes that are envisaged in this Bill.
Secondly, I know among my many friends many whose hearts are now sick because of what they believe is hope deferred. I am concerned, as this House is, for those who, as homosexuals, have had a glass of water before their eyes and before their mouths for some little time now and may well feel that it will be dashed from their lips before they have a chance to quench their thirst. This is no sentimental appeal, for there are many criminals among all categories of this community in which we live. But I feel strongly for those who, having felt that perhaps there was hope for them, will feel the more bitterly if that hope is now snatched away. It is in no rush of œcumenical fervour that I feel so completely in agreement with what the most reverend Primate had to say. I merely support what he has had to say, and hope that the Government will find time to put so many wrong things right and to give so many people hope in the dark places in which they now live.
§ 4.7 p.m.
§ LORD FERRIER
My Lords, like other speakers, I have no intention of going over the ground again, but following upon the speech of the noble Lord, Lord Soper, in which he mentioned Nonconformist opinion, I think it would be fair for me to remind your Lordships that the Church of Scotland took another view of the matter. I only mention that in passing, because, of course, this Bill does not apply to Scotland.
§ LORD SOPER
My Lords, the noble Lord will remember that the Church of Scotland is not Nonconformist.
§ LORD FERRIER
In the face of the noble Lord's superior knowledge, I stand corrected. I have only two small points to make, and they relate to what happened on the Second Reading when, having taken the stand which I have 158 always taken about this Bill, and of which your Lordships are aware, a noble Lord suggested that I was quite out of touch with the people. I feel it is only fair that I should say that one cannot have been a schoolboy, a prefect, a private solider and an officer; one cannot have worked half a life in an Eastern seaport, had dealings with the tribesmen of the North West Frontier, and returned to this country to bring up a family, now grown up, without having views which I think it is proper that I should express in a debate of this nature.
The second point I want to make is that I was taken to task for saying that in continually worrying about this particular Bill we are bringing your Lordships' House into contempt. I respect the views of any noble Lord, and for that reason I have taken particular trouble since the Second Reading to inquire of the people I have met on this very matter, and sought further information as to whether what I said was correct or not. I should like to tell your Lordships that I found that those I consulted broke about even. But in the middle was a large body of opinion who agree with me that the matter should certainly have been discussed, but that we have overdone it. That is the stand I take.
After the speech of the noble and learned Earl, Lord Kilmuir, there is nothing more that I can say, except that I propose to go into the Division Lobby with him, because I believe that, law or no law, crime or no crime, the people as a whole despise and detest homosexual behaviour, and this gives no relief.
§ 4.10 p.m.
§ THE EARL OF DUDLEY
My Lords, I wish to say only a word or two. I have been seriously ill and unable to take part in earlier debates on this Bill; otherwise I should have put my point of view very forcibly. But I have a namesake in this House, a Baron, who supports the Bill, and as I have had several letters from relatives and strangers expressing their disgust at my having supported this Bill, I want to make it quite clear that I am wholly against the Bill. I cannot stand homosexuals. They are the most disgusting people in the world, and they are, unfortunately, on the increase. I loathe them. Prison is much too good a place for them; in 159 fact, that is a place where many of them like to go—for obvious reasons.
If noble Lords will only consider for one moment the filthy habits these people have in private, I do not believe that one of them will vote in favour of this Bill; and particularly not the Bench of Bishops and the most reverend Primate, who are supposed to set a good example against sin. I think the blackmailing angle of this subject is very much exaggerated. Blackmail exists in all parts of the world; and, after all, a blackmailer can operate where a married woman and a married man have sinned—not, of course, getting them into prison, but perhaps ruining their lives. That is all I want to say. I am going to follow the noble Earl, Lord Kilmuir, into the Lobby, and I hope that the Bill will be thrown out. I am delighted to hear from the noble Earl, Lord Arran, that it is going to have a short life, and therefore I will not waste any more time on it.
§ 4.11 p.m.
My Lords, I look upon the provisions in the first clause of the Bill for the protection of youths as so utterly illusory that I had it in my mind to put down an Amendment on the Third Reading cutting out any reference to age, in order to make the Bill, as I thought, more straightforward and honest for the people who read it. But then I remembered that the noble Lord, Lord Annan, had professed himself in favour of the Bill and that it would fall to him to make distinctions between 20½ and 21½. Therefore, I thought it would be rather presumptuous of me to move an Amendment of that nature to the Bill on Third Reading, and so I refrained.
None the less, I could wish that, if there is any good to be done by the Bill, it could be done by the Legislature in some indirect fashion, and not by an ad hoc Bill for the purpose. I refuse to believe that a legislative ability which has produced the Bills of Exchange Act and the Sale of Goods Act is incapable of amending the law in some way to bring to effect any good purpose that may be in this Bill.
On the last occasion, when I happened to say what the noble Lord, Lord Ferrier, has said (I think better than I can say it), 160 and when I pointed out how the people whom I look upon as the salt of the earth were astonished that the House of Lords should vote for this measure, the noble Earl, Lord Arran, jumped up and in an impassioned way said that the House of Lords was in favour of reform of the law on homosexuality and not in favour of the act itself. All I can say is that if something is illegal, and we pass an ad hoc Act to make it legal, it is very difficult to say that we are not promoting that activity. We cannot legislate in a vacuum; we always have to take into account the circumstances in which we are legislating, and I still say that it is very difficult for your Lordships, if you agree to the Third Reading of this Bill, to say that you do not promote the activity which you thus make legal.
THE EARL OF ARRAN
My Lords, I must intervene here. Surely it is true to say that, in all the discussions we have had, and in all the speeches, no single noble Lord or noble Lady has ever said that homosexuality is a right or a good thing. It has been universally condemned from start to finish, and by every single Member of this House.
That is perfectly all right, and it does not mitigate anything that I am going to say. I am merely pointing out, as I pointed out before, that if this House gives the Bill a Third Reading, it will have a great deal of explaining to do.
I now turn to Her Majesty's Government. When I tried to father this Bill on Her Majesty's Government on a previous occasion, the noble Lord, Lord Stonham, immediately jumped up and perfectly accurately pointed out that this is not a Government Bill, but a Private Member's Bill, and that the Government were free from any responsibility concerning it. Shortly after the noble Lord made that statement, I complained in your Lordships' House, not for the first time, of a very long-standing grievance, that is, that your Lordships have no assistance in drafting Bills and Amendments to Bills in which you are interested. Not receiving any reply from the Government, I took a week or ten days to study the matter in all its facets, and eventually I wrote a letter to the Leader on the subject, suggesting ways in which this wrong might be righted. Nothing has 161 happened about it since then, except that from time to time I have had a quiet word whispered in my ear to the effect that my letter is "receiving great attention"; but I am fairly sure that it will receive the attention that this suggestion has always received in the past.
None the less, when the question of amending this Bill came up not long ago, the noble Lord, Lord Stonham, promised the noble Earl, Lord Arran, the help of the Government draftsman in drafting the Amendments which your Lordships have passed this afternoon; and I am perfectly certain that the assistance of the Government draftsman was very useful. I do not say, any more than I said before, that the Government are responsible for this Bill, but I do say that they have a great deal of explaining to do.
§ LORD STONHAM
Would the noble Lord allow me to interrupt? He is speaking of the assistance which the Government gave in connection with the work done by Parliamentary draftsmen on this Bill. There is nothing unusual about that. We have done it with other Bills, including the Abortion Bill; and he may recall that we gave major assistance by Parliamentary draftsmen on the Protection of Birds Bill.
That is perfectly true, but it is an assistance which is never granted unless the Government have an interest in a Bill; and I say that the Government have a great deal of explaining to do.
§ LORD STONHAM
My Lords, I have made it perfectly clear at almost every stage of this Bill—and when my turn comes to speak I shall make it very clear again—that the attitude of the Government at every stage of this Bill has been one of neutrality, but we have felt, with this and other Bills, when the wish of the House is known, that it would be wrong to withhold the assistance of Parliamentary draftsmen, which would thereby make the wish of the House effective.
I think the noble Lord, Lord Stonham, has made my point for me. It is a matter which requires 162 explanation, and no doubt will get it. There are other matters, too, which require explanation.
Then, again, there is the Church. The Church has taken a very decided line on this Bill, and I think that the Church will have a great deal of explaining to do. Some 60 or 70 years ago I was instructed, by men who were an ornament to that Church, to which I belonged in their doctrine, in their service book, in their ritual and in their moral code. I do not know what has happened to the doctrine because that is a matter most people decide for themselves. But the service book seems to me to have been thrown into the gutter, I suppose because it was in very good taste; at any rate it has all altered now.
Again, their ritual would have horrified the men who taught me; and I am sorry to say that the moral code set by the Church now is one that I have ceased altogether to agree with. I feel like a shipwrecked mariner who has taken refuge on an iceberg which has carried him to calmer and warmer waters and then melted and left him floundering in the waves. Fortunately, I have not very far to swim, so it does not matter. But the point is that the Church will have a lot of explaining to do over this Bill.
I have been accused of many things in my life, some perhaps true, some perhaps false. There is one thing experience has taught me, and that is that explanations are tedious, embarrassing and utterly futile. I have been a Member of your Lordships' House a long time, and your Lordships' reputation and welfare are very dear to me. I will wish your Lordships better experience with your explanations than I have had in my own life.
§ 4.23 p.m.
§ VISCOUNT DILHORNE
My Lords, I am sure it is the desire of this House to proceed fairly shortly to a Division, and I do not propose to speak for very long, but I think it would be ungracious of me not to take this opportunity to congratulate the noble Earl, Lord Arran, on getting so far with such a controversial measure which I am sure is not wanted by the country at large. I think that he personally has gained a great deal of political experience and has shown a great deal of skill in the way he has got the Bill to this stage. Of course, he has had 163 tremendous support from the most reverend Primate and the right reverend Prelates. I notice that their attendance has been remarkable. I have never seen such attendance on any other Bill. It is really not quite so great to-day, so that gives me hope that in a Division we may succeed. And no doubt the rival attractions of another Lords and of Ascot accounts for the absence of some of those Peers who were present on earlier occasions.
The best news I have had to-day is the statement of the noble Earl, Lord Arran, that this Bill really has no future. If he knows that and he says that is the case, I wonder why we are wasting time with it at all. I must say I find the position of the Government in this matter extremely anomalous. The noble Earl, Lord Arran, would readily confess that he would not have a chance of getting this Bill through this House were it not for the massive support he has had from Government supporters and the Government Front Bench. Now he tells us that the Government flatly refuse to give any further facilities for debate of this measure or make any promises. I am delighted. I hope they will adhere to that decision, and I think the reasons for it are very good indeed, because if ever there were a Bill which the majority of people of this country do not want I am sure this is it.
Is it not really rather extraordinary if the Leader of the House, the Lord Chancellor and other Front Bench members of the Government here go into the Lobby and vote with their Labour supporters for the Motion "That this Bill do now pass", and then, speaking for the Government, say, "We do not propose to provide any facilities for its being dealt with in another place"? I am glad of that decision, but to be consistent I should have thought that the Front Bench members of the Government and their supporters should not vote in favour of this Bill passing. Or are they going to say that really the Parliament Act should apply in reverse: that if a Bill has been passed by this House in two successive Sesions it should certainly be enacted by the Commons? I must say I think the attitude of the Government on this point is rather curious and I hope they will reflect upon it. I am saying this 164 in the hope that the consideration of these arguments may lead to the Leader of the House and the Lord Chancellor thinking it really would be more consistent with the Government's attitude if they refrained from voting "That this Bill do now pass".
§ LORD SHEPHERD
My Lords, may I interrupt the noble and learned Viscount, as one who, as he knows, has opposed this Bill in Division? The answer is, and I believe it applies right through this House, that all Members, whether they are Ministers or Peers who sit on the Front Bench opposite, here vote as individual Peers, and the Government is surely not committed by any particular expression of any member of this side or noble Lords opposite.
§ VISCOUNT DILHORNE
I am not suggesting that they are committed—not in the least. I am just pointing out the anomalous position they find themselves in and the inconsistency. I am not suggesting that the noble Lord is being inconsistent; he is not. In opposing this Bill he is being entirely consistent with what I understand is the Government's view: that no further facility should be given. I think it is a valid point for consideration and I hope it will be considered.
I do not intend to go over again the reasons why I am, and have been throughout, strongly opposed to this measure. They have been most excellently and ably put by my noble and learned friend Lord Kilmuir. I would add only this: that there are two arguments which have been repeatedly advanced, both of which I think are unsound. The first is that if this Bill is passed blackmails will become a thing of the past. I do not think it will. I do not believe you will find support for that in Wolfenden, but I think a great many people will have been induced to support this Bill in the hope that that will be the result.
Another argument is that the law should not interfere with anything a man does in private. I think that that, too, is an extremely doubtful proposition. If that be so, then surely we ought to amend our drugs legislation so as to permit of people taking drugs if they so wish with impunity, so long as they do it in private. I must say I think this is an extremely bad Bill, and if we pass it to-day, as I hope we shall not, I only 165 hope the Government will not change their mind but will adhere to their decision not to provide time for it and not to give any facilities for it. It is my belief that if the country at large had had a real opportunity of expressing its opinion upon this measure, the overwhelming majority would have been against relaxing the law so as to make sodomy in private lawful.
§ 4.29 p.m.
§ LORD SOMERS
MyLords, I cannot let this Bill go through its final stage without registering a protest against it, and registering it with every ounce of strength of which I am capable. The reason is this. It is not that I consider that those who indulge in this particular offence are the worst members of our community. I think there Are many worse crimes. Those who beat up their wives or their children, those who cause distress and suffering, are probably a great deal worse citizens. But I think that the passing of this Bill would be another landmark in what I feel is a most distressing trend in our country to-day. That trend is the gradual releasing of penalties against certain offences and certain crimes in order to make things easier for those who commit them. Naturally I am not referring to capital punishment, upon which I personally have divided views; but I think that this endless concern to make things comfortable for the prisoner, who has probably caused the greatest distress and the greatest want and misery to those who are his victims, is all a sign that we are trying to make things comfortable for the man who has committed evil. To my mind, this is a sign of a gradual waning of self-discipline. Self-discipline is something that one has to learn when one is young from those who are older and wiser. One has to learn it in the form of discipline, and then, as one grows older, it turns into self-discipline.
But where has that gone to-day, particularly with the young? We have all this new psychological attitude towards bringing up young children. It is considered entirely wrong to say "No" to a child. One must allow it to do whatever it likes, and one must give it whatever it wants. All those who desire anything must be given it at once. One has only to look at the endless list of strikes to wonder how many of them have been unsuccess- 166 ful. Those who have desired a little extra in the way of welfare and so on, purely in their own interests and not in the interest of the country, have been given it. I think this is a distressing trend.
We have had such trends before. But what distresses me even more is the fact that it is supported by the Church. I am, I hope, a faithful member of the Church, and, as such, naturally I will not say anything in criticism of the most reverend Primate. I can only say that what he said to-day gave me the greatest and deepest sorrow. I dare say your Lordships have read a book which has been distributed fairly widely recently called The Cult of Softness. It is by two authors, Sir Arnold Lunn, a Roman Catholic, and Garth Lean, who is an Anglican. They are both at one in one thing, namely, that this swinging away from true Christianity to a sort of fake Christianity in order to make things more popular for the young is, in the end, going to be, as I fear, the downfall of our country. I feel that this Bill is all part and parcel of that trend, and therefore I sincerely hope that your Lordships will not pass it.
§ 4.33 p.m.
§ LORD BROCKET
My Lords, I wish to say only three things. First of all, it has been stated that the opinion of Parliament is in favour of this Bill. I do not believe that there has ever been more than one-tenth, or thereabouts, of the Members of the House of Lords in favour of this Bill. We know that many Peers do not come, but I believe that the greatest number in favour of this Bill—out of 1,000 Peers, some of whom have "signed off"—is about 90 or 100. That is the fact. So it cannot be said that this is the opinion of Parliament. Secondly, I do not believe that it is the opinion of the Bishops' Bench. I have a letter in my possession from a Bishop, who says that the Bench of Bishops is as equally divided as the country. If that is so, it may be a case of 50/50. The third matter is, that I cannot understand how the Church can be in favour of this Bill and not wish to have the sanction of the law behind the Church.
§ 4.34 p.m.
§ LORD SNOW
My Lords, I have not taken up your Lordships' time since I 167 left the Front Bench, and I shall not do so for more than five minutes now. But I have sat through a large number of hours, so it seems to me, on this somewhat overheated topic, and I should like to explain my own position, for in fact I am in support of the Bill—not with the passion which various of my noble friends feel, and certainly not with the passion some of its opponents feel. I have never believed that men are naturally good, or that all one has to do is to give them freedom in order to obtain a perfect society. I have never believed that, and here I have often been greatly divided from noble friends of mine who take what I regard as a more romantic attitude to man's possibilities.
Therefore, I approach this libertarian legislation which we have had, in a much more empirical fashion—will it, on the whole, do more good than harm, or more harm than good?—and without much in the way of overwhelming principle behind my attitude. On this Bill, I am compelled to say that I think that, although it will not do anything like the good that has been claimed for it by some of its proposers, it will not do like anything the harm that has been claimed by some of its opponents. By and large, I suspect that it is worth having. It will remove some pain and will do relatively little social harm.
There is on all these subjects a tendency grossly to over-dramatise the whole topic. I have been struck throughout our debates with how rapidly the temperature has gone up, and how rapidly overdramatic statements have been made by noble Lords whom I respect, on both sides. To be honest I have often been surprised by the curious unworldliness of some of the discussion. It has seemed to me, occasionally, that some noble Lords speak as though they have never met a homosexual, as though these were something like the white rhinoceros—strange animals, difficult to observe. Yet every noble Lord here must have met many homosexuals, and many must have met some of the most distinguished and, if I may say so, worthy of Englishmen. This must have happened. It would be indiscreet of me to give names across the Floor of this House, but I am quite sure that these confrontations have occurred. This curious unworldliness, as though we are discussing something which 168 is, as I say, as strange as the white rhinoceros, has tended to increase the over heatedness of the whole discussion.
I would take a much more temperate and, some may think, cold-blooded attitude. I have lived in many countries: in countries with quite different kinds of sexual legislation; in countries with extremely severe sexual legislation, like the Soviet Union; and in countries with extremely permissive legislation, like Sweden. As I have said before, I am no more a believer than many noble Lords opposite in total permissiveness; but on this particular subject, sexual behaviour and its relation to the law, I must say that in the countries in which I have lived, the correlation has seemed to me extremely slender: that is, human behaviour seems not to be affected greatly, and, on the whole, the moral tone seems not to be much affected. That being so, to the best of one's observation, if we can make life slightly more comfortable for people who have no greater fault than to suffer from something that is an innate part of their constitution, a thing which is certainly not in their control, I believe that we are sensible to pass this Bill.
I therefore suggest that we congratulate the noble Earl, Lord Arran, who has submitted himself to unpleasant ordeals in the pursuit of this particular piece of legislation, for anyone who speaks either for or against sexual emancipation knows that he is going to get into trouble. I had had this in my own family recently. My wife suggested that it might not be an entirely good thing for Krafft-Ebing to be on every bookstall in the country. Immediately she got obscene letters of protest. I am sure we are all in the noble Earl's debt. I would suggest to your Lordships that we pass this Bill without too much heat, and suggest to the noble Lord, Lord Stonham, that he should communicate with the Government to see whether they can find time for it to become law in this Session.
§ 4.40 p.m.
§ LORD BOOTHBY
My Lords, I know that your Lordships are anxious to divide. I want to make one only brief comment on the speech of my noble and learned friend Lord Kilmuir. I was a little astonished to hear him say that if we pass this Bill it will be the greatest 169 blow to morality in this country that has been enacted by Parliament in this century. Opinions are bound to differ, but perhaps the noble Earl will forgive me if I say that, in my judgment, by far the greatest blow against social morality that has ever been delivered, not only in this century but in any other, was the Bill passed in all innocence by the Government of the day, which legalised gambling in every shape and form. The moral deterioriation that has flowed from that in this country—and we are not yet at the end of the story—is absolutely colossal. This country has become a cesspit of gambling in every shape and form, and the damage it is doing in every class of society could be irretrievable.
There was another thing that astonished me in the speech of my noble friend. We were both born and bred in the same city, the great City of Edinburgh, and he did not seem to accept—and this applies also to my noble friend Lord Ferrier—the incomparable superiority of Scottish law over English law, to which the noble and learned Lord, Lord Reid, drew our attention the other day. There is no problem in Scotland about this matter, because we administer the law properly. Proceedings are not taken against homosexuals according to the temper of innumerable chief constables, or whether they suffer from indigestion after breakfast. Proceedings in Scotland are taken by Procurators-Fiscal on the authority of the Lord Advocate, and they are not instituted unless it is considered by him in the public interest to do so. That is why there is no problem in Scotland. If we had that situation in England and Wales, there would be no necessity for this Bill.
I would say to my noble friend Lord Arran: do not be too sad or pessimistic; the stature of this House is not going down. If we pass this Bill, as I think we probably shall, for the second time in two Parliaments, the other place will take notice of it. I think that the Government ought to give serious consideration to the appeals made to them, and there was great force in the argument put forward by the noble and learned Viscount, Lord Dilhorne, on this matter. However, I do not think we should complain of another place. I cannot for the life of me see why Mr. Steel, the 170 Member for Roxburgh and Selkirk, should be reproached, as I think he was in some newspapers, because he did not introduce this Bill there. He is a Scottish Member, and it does not apply to Roxburgh and Selkirk. And why should he introduce it? But I say to my noble friend Lord Arran, who has done a great and courageous job, that he should keep his courage up, and that he should not allow himself to utter the few despairing sentences which he uttered just now.
§ 4.44 p.m.
§ LORD CARRINGTON
My Lords, like the noble Lord, Lord Snow, I have not spoken on either of the two occasions on which the Bill has passed through this House. I hope that he will forgive me if I describe his speech as coming from somebody who has been sitting on a fence, and who has just fallen off on the side of the Bill. I should describe my position as that of somebody who has been sitting on a fence and who has just fallen off on the opposite side to the noble Lord. Although I feel that logic is all on the side of my noble friend Lord Arran and his Bill, I have considerable misgivings about the psychological effects on the country at this particular moment.
§ SEVERAL NOBLE LORDS: Hear, hear!
§ LORD CARRINGTON
Therefore, I have neither voted nor have I spoken on this measure, which was probably very cowardly of me, although no doubt it saved a good deal of time. My only reason for breaking my silence to-day is this. Due to my noble friend Lord Arran's determination, against great difficulty and, I imagine, a great deal of abuse, I should like to congratulate him on his determination in succeeding in getting the Bill, on the second occasion, to this stage. The Bill has been passed twice by pretty large majorities in this House. Yet it seems, if we are to believe my noble friend and the most reverend Primate, that the Government are not going to find time for it in the House of Commons. I have risen merely to say one very brief word about that.
To say the least of it, I think that that attitude is very discourteous to this House. Can we contemplate such a situation in reverse? Suppose a Private Member's Bill 171 had been passed through another place with a big majority, would it be conceivable that we in this House should not find time for its discussion? Of course we should; we should accept it as a House of Commons Bill. And if we did not do so, can your Lordships imagine the reactions of Members of another place? This seems to me to be a matter of propriety between the two Houses. It calls into question whether or not all your Lordships, whether you are for or against the Bill, have been wasting your time in hours of debate, hours spent on Committee stage in amending the Bill minutely and at great length, and then, after all that time and trouble, it does not even get to the House of Commons.
I would remind those of your Lordships who are against the Bill that there is an issue of principle here. This may well happen at a time when all your Lordships will be unanimous in wishing this Bill to go further than just this House, to go to the House of Commons, and to get on the Statute Book. I have no idea what would happen if this Bill went to another place. For all I know, it might well be defeated; but I think that the House of Commons should be given an opportunity of making their views known. I do not imagine that even those noble Lords in this House who feel most strongly against this Bill would wish it to fail for that reason, for lack of opportunity. After all, all of us are believers in a democratic system of government, and this has become a very widely discussed problem. I should think that all of us wish to see these controversial matters discussed and settled in normal Parliamentary fashion. I, for one, certainly hope that the Government will see that the opportunity is given.
§ 4.48 p.m.
My Lords, I am afraid that I have spoken too often on this Bill at various times, but I would remind your Lordships that the Wolfenden Report admitted, in paragraphs 57 and 58, that the passing of this Bill would lead to an increase in homosexuality. Are your Lordships prepared to face up to being guilty of causing that, even obliquely, or do you believe that people who are at present sitting on the fence and who are able to hold their head high in self-respect should be pushed off? It 172 is not a very laughable thing: I wonder how any of your Lordships would feel if it happened to one of your own sons, or to any noble Lady's husband. But it is a thing that I personally am not prepared to do—to cause even one foot to stumble and be driven into homosexuality because we have not the decency to keep the country clean.
§ 4.50 p.m.
§ LORD STONHAM
My Lords, I join with my noble friend Lord Snow in congratulating the noble Earl, Lord Arran, on his achievement in bringing this Bill to this stage. Whatever our views may be, I think we cannot but admire his courage and perseverance in piloting such a difficult, controversial and, to many of us, unpleasant measure once again through your Lordships' House. I would, however, make one point clear at once in respect of what I am going to say, with regard to the contention of the noble and learned Viscount, Lord Dilhorne, that the Government have given massive support to this Bill.
§ LORD STONHAM
My Lords, I listened carefully to what the noble and learned Viscount said, and I know he referred to Government supporters and people who are not Government supporters. But he will find that he also said that the Government have given massive support.
§ VISCOUNT DILHORNE
If I did say so, I must have expressed myself wrongly. I was contrasting the attitude of the Government, as such, in not providing further facilities, with the attitude of members of the Government on the Back Benches and those who support the noble Lord on the Front Benches. I never sought to suggest that the Government, as such, had given massive support.
§ LORD STONHAM
I am very glad that I raised the matter, because, obviously, I misunderstood the noble and learned Viscount, and he agrees with me that in no real sense have the Government given massive support to this Bill. However, I believe that we have given valuable support in trying to ensure that the intentions of your Lordships on a number of issues and as expressed in a considerable number of 173 Amendments have been given practical effect by the assistance which has been given by Parliamentary draftsmen.
In the discussions on this Bill last year I tried to carry out my task of strict neutrality on behalf of the Government. In this I was so successful, or unsuccessful, that both those who support the Wolfenden recommendations and those who oppose them thought I was biased—in the opposite direction. To-day, if there is any doubt, let me make it perfectly clear that I personally am wholly in sympathy with this Bill, and if there is a vote I will vote for it. I have been asked by noble Lords, and in particular and specifically by the most reverend Primate, to say that the Government will now sponsor this Bill and assure its passage. Thinking as I do, I understand the feelings of those who want to see the law reformed. But I ask them, as the Government must, to consider the other side of the picture which was so ably and, if I may say so, feelingly delineated by the noble and learned Earl, Lord Kilmuir.
There is, I suppose, no issue which more deeply divides those who are concerned with the criminal law than the relationship which ought to exist between the criminal law and the accepted morality of the community. Again, the noble and learned Earl, Lord Kilmuir, described the proper admixture of law and order. It is a divisive issue, not only among lawyers, moralists and philosophers, but also among the less articulate members of society. We find it, and have found it, reflected in strongly held views and attitudes, wherever people stop to consider what conduct people should tolerate among themselves and their neighbours. So it follows that anyone who seeks to alter, in any major way, the delicate balance between conduct which we enforce by criminal sanctions and conduct which we seek to enforce by moral sanctions alone, is likely to be seen as challenging the deep moral convictions of individuals.
The reform in the law which we are now considering epitomises that moral challenge, and reactions to it have little or nothing to do with a majority Government, and little or nothing to do with the people's political and social attitudes. This issue is one which cannot possibly 174 be resolved in a way to satisfy all the Members of your Lordships' House or all the members of the community, and in the Government's view it is essentially one which must be decided in a way which requires no one to act against his moral feelings and conscience.
The noble and learned Viscount, Lord Dilhorne, found something inconsistent, perhaps, in someone like myself sitting on the Government Front Bench, who has one opinion, or like my noble friend Lord Shepherd, also sitting on the Government Front Bench, who has another opinion, expressing those opinions by their votes. From the very beginning, I said that the Government would adopt a neutral attitude and insist that everyone should be free to express his vote as he wished. I see nothing inconsistent in that, and I think there is everything right about it.
Whatever views your Lordships may take, one way or another, on the issue on which we shall have to vote, I think you will agree that the Government's attitude has been the right one and the only possible one to adopt. The attitude which we have maintained throughout these discussions, and which we shall continue to maintain, is a neutral attitude to this Bill. Therefore, I cannot grant the plea of the most reverend Primate, that the Government should take over the Bill. I realise that what I have said will be a disappointment to many noble Lords, but the attitude of the Government has been clear throughout.
I come to the point which was put to me by the noble Earl, Lord Arran, by my noble friend Lord Soper and, again, by my noble friend Lord Snow, that we should seek the alternative method of providing Government time so that the Bill can make speedy progress in another place. I am sure that noble Lords will appreciate my difficulty in discussing in your Lordships' House the arrangement of Business in another place. This is not a matter which we can take very far. The noble Leader of the Opposition said that we were being discourteous to your Lordships' House.
§ LORD CARRINGTON
I said that if no opportunity were given in the Commons for this Bill to go through, then it would be discourteous.
§ LORD STONHAM
There are many opportunities in the Commons, apart from giving Government time. I suggest to the noble Lord, that he is being a "bit previous" in suggesting that there is going to be discourtesy over a matter on which your Lordships have not yet given a final decision. It is a little early to criticise in this way.
But I do not intend to shelter behind this, because I recognise the validity of the points which have been made. This is a most unusual Private Member's Bill and it has reached an unusual stage, in that it has received decisive majorities on a number of occasions in your Lordships' House, and also a decisive majority for a Second Reading in another place during the last Parliament. I have little doubt that your Lordships will very soon again demonstrate your clear views on this matter, and there is no reason to suppose that opinion in another place has substantially altered.
I think, therefore, despite what has been said by a number of noble Lords, that there is a general feeling in the country that this Bill is going to become law sooner or later, and the only issue is whether it becomes law this Session, next Session or the one after. This, I agree, is an unsatisfactory state of affairs, both for those immediately concerned and for the law in general, and it would be desirable to have a clear-cut decision in both Houses of Parliament as soon as possible. But your Lordships will also appreciate the overwhelming difficulties which face those responsible for organising Business in another place. As a Minister, I know only too well of the Bills which I should like to see enacted quickly and which because of the shortage of Parliamentary time simply cannot proceed as fast as I would wish. I
§ know, also, that all my colleagues could produce lists of their own.
§ My Lords, those are the difficulties. I am glad that your Lordships have expressed your views on this matter so forcefully, and I shall report them no less forcefully to my right honourable friend. Your Lordships will be aware of the views the Home Secretary has expressed on liberal reforms of the criminal law, and will appreciate that his personal attitude to this Bill will certainly not be unhelpful. I hope your Lordships will accept that that is as far as I can take the matter at this stage.
§ 5.3 p.m.
THE EARL OF ARRAN
My Lords, I cannot say that I am other than very disappointed at what the noble Lord, Lord Stonham, has said. It does rather look like, "This year, next year, some time, never". Of the Bill itself, again I shall say nothing. The fact is—is it not?—that there are two sides. One side will never persuade the other. One of us is right and the other is wrong. I do not know which it is. We shall just have to find out if and when this reform ever comes to pass.
In all matters of social reform there is a risk. There was a risk in suspending the death penalty for sheep stealing; there was a risk in its repeal. These risks were taken, and the country survived. I do not conscientiously believe that the risks here are as great as have been made out. If I had thought so, I would not have promoted this Bill, and I would certainly not have gone on with it. We have appealed to the Government—with little success, I fear. But to prove that we mean what we say in this House, I appeal to your Lordships, when we go to a Division, to give the Bill a smashing majority.
§ 5.6 p.m.
§ On Question, Whether the Bill do now pass?
§ Their Lordships divided: Contents, 78; Not-Contents, 60.177
|Addison, V.||Archibald, L.||Boston, L.|
|Adrian, L.||Arran, E. [Teller]||Bowles, L.|
|Ailwyn, L.||Asquith of Yarnbury, Bs.||Brockway, L.|
|Airedale, L.||Attlee, E.||Burton of Coventry, Bs.|
|Amherst, E.||Audley, Bs.||Canterbury, L. Abp.|
|Amory, V.||Birdwood, L.||Chorley, L.|
|Amulree, L.||Boothby, L.||Citrine, L.|
|Clwyd, L.||Kinross, L.||St. Just, L. [Teller]|
|Colville of Culross, V.||Lloyd of Hampstead, L.||Samuel, V.|
|Cranbrook, E.||Longford, E. (L. Privy Seal)||Sandford, L.|
|Cromartie, E.||Merthyr, L.||Segal, L.|
|Darwen, L.||Mitchison, L.||Sherfield, L.|
|Donovan, L.||Monson, L.||Snow, L.|
|Emmet of Amberley, Bs.||Mountevans, L.||Soper, L.|
|Falkland, V.||Mowbray & Stourton, L.||Sorensen, L.|
|Faringdon, L.||Norwich, L. Bp.||Southwark, L. Bp.|
|Foley, L.||Ogmore, L.||Stonham, L.|
|Furness, V.||Phillips, Bs.||Stow Hill, L.|
|Gardiner, L. (L. Chancellor.)||Plummer, Bs.||Strang, L.|
|Granville-West, L.||Rea, L.||Strange of Knokin, Bs.|
|Greenway, L.||Reay, L.||Swanborough, Bs.|
|Gridley, L.||Robertson of Oakridge, L.||Taylor, L.|
|Harlech, L.||Royle, L.||Twining, L.|
|Harvey of Tasburgh, L.||Runciman of Doxford, V.||Wakefield, L. Bp.|
|Henley, L.||Sainsbury, L.||Wells-Pestell, L.|
|Kinnoull, E.||St. Davids, V.||Wootton of Abinger, Bs.|
|Albemarle, E.||Hall, V.||Monsell, V.|
|Allerton, L.||Hawke, L.||Morrison, L.|
|Alport, L.||Henderson, L.||Morton of Henryton, L.|
|Ampthill, L.||Hilton of Upton, L.||Nugent of Guildford, L.|
|Auckland, L.||Hodson, L.||Oakshott, L.|
|Balerno, L.||Horsbrugh, Bs.||Rhodes, L.|
|Blackford, L.||Howard of Glossop, L.||Rowallan, L.|
|Blyton, L.||Iddesleigh, E.||St. Helens, L.|
|Brocket, L.||Ilford, L.||St. Oswald, L.|
|Burton, L.||Kemsley, V.||Saltoun, L.|
|Champion, L.||Kilmuir, E. [Teller]||Sandys, L.|
|Daventry, V.||Lambert, V.||Shepherd, L.|
|Dilhorne, V. [Teller]||Leatherland, L.||Sherwood, L.|
|Dudley, E.||Lindgren, L.||Sinha, L.|
|Ebbisham, L.||Long, V.||Somers, L.|
|Ferrier, L.||Luke, L.||Soulbury, V.|
|Fortescue, E.||MacAndrew, L.||Strathclyde, L.|
|Fraser of Lonsdale, L.||Merrivale, L.||Stuart of Findhorn, V.|
|Goddard, L.||Middleton, L.||Tweedsmuir, L.|
|Grenfell, L.||Milverton, L.||Williamson, L.|
§ Resolved in the affirmative: Bill passed accordingly, and sent to the Commons.