Schedule

Orders of the Day — FOOD AND DRUGS AMENDMENT BILL [Lords] – in the House of Commons am 12:00 am ar 3 Tachwedd 1954.

Danfonwch hysbysiad imi am ddadleuon fel hyn

8.0 p.m.

Photo of Mr James Ede Mr James Ede , South Shields

I beg to move, in page 3, to leave out lines 6 to 8.

Photo of Mr William Hall Mr William Hall , Colne Valley

I wonder whether at this stage, Mr. Hynd, I could ask you how it is proposed to deal with the Schedule. There are one or two Amendments to it on the Order Paper, and it occurs to us that you might prefer to take the Amendments first, but we on this side of the Committee, and perhaps hon. Members opposite, are anxious that we should not lose our right to discuss other points in both Parts I and II of the Schedule, if we are so minded.

Photo of Mr James Ede Mr James Ede , South Shields

The lines which we seek to omit deal with the power of the Government to make regulations concerning aliens. We had a discussion on this matter last year, and at that time the then Home Secretary had just presented to the House a new order in which were included all the regulations which it was proposed to operate in the future. In fact, he wiped out 21 previous orders and amending orders and the whole work was consolidated into one order, which certainly was very convenient for reference by those people who had to have recourse to the document. The order was approved by the House shortly after the debate on the Expiring Laws Continuance Bill last year. My hon. Friend the Member for Oldham, West (Mr. Hale) moved a Prayer against it, which was withdrawn after fairly lengthy discussion.

My hon. Friends on this side and myself urged upon the Government that, having consolidated the orders, the order which we then had in front of us could, with advantage, be considered as a Bill—and we still remain of that opinion. Because we had to take or leave the order as a whole, we were not able to move Amendments to particular orders or to particular articles in the orders, or to move that particular articles should be left out. The only issue in front of the House was whether the order should be confirmed or not. We thought then, and we continue to think, that it is time that this matter was considered in detail by the House of Commons.

This Act which we propose tonight to renew was passed in 1919. We have seen very considerable changes in international affairs during the 35 years that have elapsed since then, and we think that it is high time that the House should have an opportunity of considering the matter as a whole.

Last year the Under-Secretary of State told us that 207 deportation orders had been made, and I hope that he will be able to tell us tonight the number of deportation orders that have been made during the current year, and, if possible, how many of them have been executed. There was one deportation order made during the past year which aroused the utmost misgivings among my hon. Friends and which also excited great interest in the country. I think that we are entitled tonight to know from the Under-Secretary that no such order is likely to be made again.

I allude to the order made against Dr. Joseph Cort. I am hopeful that no such order will be made again, because I think that the answers given to some of my hon. Friends and myself last Thursday, with regard to the police inquiries in the case of Mr. Owen Lattimore, which was then raised, indicate that the new occupant of the Home Secretaryship takes a more enlightened and traditional view of this matter than did his immediate predecessor.

If I thought that the case of Dr. Joseph Cort was likely to be repeated in similar circumstances, I should advise my hon. Friends to vote for the Amendment which I am moving tonight. It was an astounding thing that Dr. Joseph Cort left this country a refugee from political persecution in a country of the Right, when, at the same time, the Home Secretary was engaged in taking off that very same ship a man who claimed that he was liable to political persecution by the Left.

I regard political persecution as a crime against humanity, no matter by whom it is committed. It is no excuse to say that the country in which political persecution may be applied is one in which standards of freedom closely approximating to those observed in this country are normally the rule, when, in fact, in that particular case there could be no doubt that a persecution of a political nature was intended. I think that we should all regard with dissatisfaction the fact that this particular man had to leave this country. It is true that he left under his own power, so that he might go to the place that he chose, but I certainly hope that no similar case will occur in the future.

This man was doing very valuable work in this country. He was a specialist in medical studies. He had been appointed by the Birmingham University to a position of some importance, and as there was no British applicant for the post when he was appointed he was not keeping a British subject out of the job. He was, in fact, doing very valuable work. His wife also was employed in a hospital in another part of the country, and these two people left the country owing to the action taken by the Home Secretary.

This was not a case in which extradition was asked for. In fact, there was no extradition law applicable to the circum- stances. The dispute between this man and the authorities in the United States had been going on for two or three years, and those of us who have read the correspondence in detail know the man's fears, that if he returned to the United States he would be the subject of very detailed inquiry, not into his actions, but into the opinions he had held when he was a young man, which, like those of many young men, were pretty far to the Left.

The consequences of that would be that he would probably suffer the same fate as some of the men with whom he had been associated in his earlier days, who had been deprived of their jobs in circumstances which meant that they would never be employed again in American educational institutions, in the reign of terror which exists there at the moment when it is suggested that anybody has held opinions of the Left. And there was a very strong possibility that he might be imprisoned. This man, whose medical category was of the very lowest, was asked to report under the kind of National Service Act that they have there so that he might again be examined to see whether his stay in the notorious health resort of Birmingham had so improved him that he could be drafted into that service.

It is not an extraditable offence to be a person wanted by Senator McCarthy. I had to deal with the case of Gerhardt Eisler, who managed to escape from the United States and was taken off the ship in this country and brought before the Metropolitan magistrate. He was charged with making a false declaration. First, it was said that he would be charged with perjury, which is an extraditable offence, but in fact he was charged with making a false declaration. As a result the Metropolitan magistrate, bound by the law, said that it was not an extraditable offence and, therefore, Gerhardt Eisler was entitled to continue on his journey.

Even if the Metropolitan magistrate had said that it was an extraditable offence, the Home Secretary of the day would then have had to determine whether it was a political offence or an offence other than political. If it is a political offence, it is his duty to see that the man is given political asylum in this country. In the present case, no effort was made to extradite this man, because he was not at that moment charged with any offence. He was doing a good job in this country. He was highly thought of in the University of Birmingham and, as what had happened at the time of his appointment proved, there was no one else in the country to take his place.

What happened? The United States Government said that if he did not return to the United States, they would cancel his United States citizenship.

Photo of Mr James Ede Mr James Ede , South Shields

We get to the old conflict between "may" and "shall." "Might" and "will" are fairly interchangeable terms, and I want to put the case at its highest. The Home Secretary had reasonable grounds to fear that this man would be a stateless person and that, therefore, there would have been grave difficulty in deporting him if at a later date this university lecturer suddenly developed into some form of criminal so bad that it was desirable to return him to the place from whence he came. It was on that—I do not know whether it was a promise or a threat—that the Home Secretary decided that this man could no longer remain in this country.

There are many of us who think that the reputation of this country as a place where men may think and speak in accordance with conscience is one of the things that we should maintain and that we should continue to be the country in which people who cannot think and speak fearlessly should find a place where they can enjoy the ordinary freedom that civilised beings ought to have.

8.15 p.m.

We were very distressed at this case. I rejoice that the man has found a place other than the United States to which he could go and that there was one country—I believe there was another, but the question of the man's wife made some difficulties—where this man was given asylum. I think it was a very bad thing that a man threatened with deportation from this country should find refuge and asylum only behind the Iron Curtain. Being a Communist is not a criminal offence in this country. Having been a Communist in one's earlier days is certainly no criminal offence here. We expect people in this country to hold rather advanced views in their youth. Look at the present Prime Minister. With his past in this country, he would hold no office in the United States. What he said in 1911 about the other place would be quite sufficient to mark him as so great a revolutionary that he should be kept well out of office and out of Government.

We raise this issue tonight because we regard the action in this case as something which is a smear on the liberal reputation of this country, and we hope that it will not occur again. I am one of those who thinks that it is a mistake to have a distinguished lawyer as Home Secretary. Particularly in this sphere, the commonsense of the ordinary Englishman is more likely to guide that great Department with success than the highly legalisitic tendencies that distinguished lawyers are apt to show on some of these occasions.

I remember the depuation of my hon. Friends to see the former Home Secretary on this matter. We put the case before him with every plea that we could think of. The answer we got was that he was not convinced that if this man went back to the United States any harm would befall him. One can only point to what has happened to his associates in refutation of any belief that this man would meet with other than the severest punishment that was available if he went back.

The administration of the Aliens Act is a very important duty of the Home Secretary. The House of Commons gives enormous powers to the Home Secretary in the matter of deportation. Article 20 (2) of the Order which the House granted to the Home Secretary last year is worded thus: A deportation order may be made in the case of an alien in the following circumstances, that is to say— (b) if the Secretary of State deems it to be conducive to the public good to make a deportation order against the alien. When the Home Secretary reaches that decision and makes his order, that man's continued residence in this country becomes impossible.

Such a great power over the life of a fellow human being ought to be used with the utmost care and caution. The possibilities as well as the probabilities of what will happen to the man if the deportation order is enforced ought to be taken into consideration. I cannot think that in the case of Dr. Cort this power was legitimately used, and I say to the Joint Under-Secretary that a repetition of the kind of incidents which I have detailed would compel my right hon. and hon Friends to feel that this is a power which should be withdrawn from the Home Secretary.

Photo of Mr Samuel Silverman Mr Samuel Silverman , Nelson and Colne

I should like to say a few words in support of the view advanced by my right hon. Friend the Member for South Shields (Mr. Ede). I do it with some diffidence, because he speaks with very great authority, having held for a number of years the post of Home Secretary and having, therefore, an intimate personal knowledge on these matters. As this is a matter on which I have ventured to trouble the Committee now year after year for a number of years, I thought that perhaps I might be excused for adding my words to what my right hon. Friend said.

What is it, after all, that the Committee is being asked to do? It is being asked, after 35 years, to continue on a temporary year-to-year basis an Act which gives the Home Secretary absolute power over the liberty and, in some cases, the life of a large number of people living in our midst.

We have said now for a long time that, if we are to give powers of this kind to one man, then the legislative instruments whereby we give them should be the considered detailed judgment of the House of Commons and not a matter of delegated legislation. Last year, all the various orders that have been made—I have forgotten how many there were, but I am told that there were 21—were reviewed, some were deleted and some amended, and they were combined for the first time in 34 years into one legislative enactment. That was an enactment which the House of Commons could not amend.

It is wrong that we should deal with questions of personal and civil liberty in that fashion. Liberty is an inappropriate subject for delegated legislation. I should have thought that right hon. and hon. Members opposite who think that delegated legislation is a bad thing in all respects might well have supported us in the belief that at any rate it is a bad thing in questions which affect the life and liberty of human beings.

We were told then that we need not be unduly disturbed and that in no case was the Home Secretary's discretion in these matters exercised except by the Home Secretary himself personally; that it was his statutory duty to look at the matters and not to delegate them to his Under-Secretary or to a permanent official. We were assured that he did his duty in every case. I do not question that assurance, but, in view of that, is it not rather an unworthy thing—perhaps that is too strong a word; an unusual thing—that the right hon. and gallant Gentleman who is now Home Secretary and who, if the Committee accept the Schedule unamended, will have the responsibility in future for exercising these powers, should not be here tonight to hear a discussion which he must have anticipated would take place?

I shall listen with great interest, as I always do, to what the Joint Under-Secretary will have to say. I recognise that there is a special reason why he should deal with the particular case which my right hon. Friend raised because he was then, as he is now, at the Home Office and the present Home Secretary was not. However, there is nothing we can do about Dr. Cort. The importance of discussing Dr. Cort's case now is not in order to put anything right that was then wrongly done, but so that the Home Secretary in dealing with these matters in future shall know what the feeling of the House of Commons is about them.

We say, as some of us have said for many years, that there ought to be a Bill with a Committee stage, not delegated legislation to cover it, and that the Committee ought not indefinitely, year after year, to go on dealing with these matters on a year-to-year basis with delegated legislation on a permanent basis. If there were such a Committee stage, many of us—certainly I—would think that where a question of deportation arises the responsibility of dealing with it ought not to rest upon the shoulders of one individual, no matter what office he occupies. There ought to be some right of appeal. There ought to be some medium for third-party judgment. The man whose deportation is in question should have the right to be confronted by those who think he should be deported. He should know why. He should have the right to cross-examine them, and the right to call evidence himself. He should have the right to have third-party judgment on his case.

Many of us said this last year, and many of us have said it many times. I do not want to labour the point now, but the particular case of Dr. Cort shows how impossible it is to rely on the judicial discretion of a political Secretary of State.

Photo of Sir Raymond Gower Sir Raymond Gower , Barry

The hon. Gentleman is going somewhat further than his right hon. Friend the Member for South Shields (Mr. Ede) did, is not he not? As I understood it, his right hon. Friend made a strong case that the Home Secretary of the day should perhaps act in a different manner and, preferably, should not be a lawyer. The hon. Gentleman appears to be advocating a complete change in the existing system. I think I follow him correctly.

8.30 p.m.

Photo of Mr Samuel Silverman Mr Samuel Silverman , Nelson and Colne

I do not know whether it is very important whether everything that I think is exactly what my right hon. Friend thinks. I am sure that in some cases it is and in some other cases it is not. However, I do not think there is any very great difference of view between us on this point. I think that my right hon. Friend said in a previous speech that there ought to be an Act of Parliament. Whether he agrees with me or does not agree with me on the question whether, in that Act of Parliament, there ought to be some other method of dealing with these cases than leaving them to the absolute, unfettered, unappealable discretion of a single Minister, is a matter which we can discuss in time. At the moment, I am presenting my own view to the Committee.

Photo of Sir Raymond Gower Sir Raymond Gower , Barry

I am terribly sorry to interrupt the hon. Member again, but I wish to ask him this question. Did he not imply that there should be a legal trial of the case, with witnesses and, presumably, a right of appeal to a higher tribunal?

Photo of Mr Samuel Silverman Mr Samuel Silverman , Nelson and Colne

I feel sure that the hon. Gentleman, if he will have a little patience, will know by the time I come to the end of my argument what it is that I am trying to persuade the Committee to agree with. I have said nothing about a court of law, though a court of law is conceivable. I have said nothing about further and further appeals from that court of law, though that would be conceivable too. All I have said so far is that I prefer, in principle, third-party judgment to ex-parte pronouncements in matters of individual liberty.

I have said that a man against whom deportation is threatened should know why. I have said that he should have the opportunity of hearing what evidence there is against him. I have said that he should have the opportunity of cross-examining upon the evidence. I have said that he should have the opportunity of calling evidence in rebuttal of it and evidence on his own behalf. Does the hon. Member for Barry (Mr. Gower) differ from any of that? Which of those opportunities does he think that Dr. Cort was not entitled to have? What is wrong with them?

The very country in whose interests permission for Dr. Cort to stay here was refused, the United States, does not deport people without a right of appeal. Why should we? When Cedric Belfrage was threatened with a deportation order, it did not depend on the American Secretary of State or upon Senator McCarthy or any other individual holding office or not holding office to decide the issue for himself. Cedric Belfrage was entitled to appeal to some kind of tribunal. All I am saying is that we might at least do the same ourselves.

I was saying that when we advanced these arguments last year we were assured that we need not worry very much, that the Home Secretary always acted in these matters with the greatest discretion and care, and that no one had ever been deported except for such overwhelming reasons that every Member of the House of Commons would support the Home Secretary in the action which he took. I am not quoting verbatim, but I think it will not be contested that that was the spirit of the then Home Secretary's speech to the House. We were assured that, although we have these powers, although they are unlimited, and not fettered in any way, we never exercise the right to deport a man unless there is such overwhelmingly good reason for it that no one would think that we could do anything else.

I now want to quote the Joint Under-Secretary of State on the point. I am quoting from Volume 521 of HANSARD, at column 565, and I am going to read two paragraphs only. [HON. MEMBERS: "What date?"] The date is 26th November, 1953, just about a year ago, and the debate was on the Expiring Laws Continuance Bill in Committee. I will read the whole passage: May I say a word about deportation, which has been mentioned? There have been 207 deportation orders made this year, and, in fact, in only two of these cases were the individuals concerned in this country before the war. They were both cases which were considered most carefully and in which there were strong reasons for deporting them, and that is really the answer to hon. Members who suggest that individuals who have spent their entire lives here are whisked away without their cases being considered. It is quite essential to retain this power to deport as a counterpart to the control of entry of aliens. If we did not possess this power to deport, it would be open to anyone to come here on a visit and later on say simply, 'I am not going away,' and the control of aliens would disappear. Every sovereign State reserves this right. and then follows a reference to the Declaration on Human Rights. The hon. Gentleman continued: If I may refer to the really relevant paragraph in the Declaration of Human Rights, it runs as follows: 'In the exercise of his rights and freedoms, everyone shall be subject only to such limitations as are determined by law solely for the purpose of securing due recognition and respect for the rights and freedoms of others and of meeting the just requirements of morality, public order and the general welfare in a democratic society.' What did the hon. Gentleman have to say about that in relation to Home Office practice?—He said: It is exactly for these purposes that we ask the House to renew these powers for a year now. The power must be discretionary, and we could not deal with it on any other basis."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 26th November, 1953; Vol. 521, c. 565.] What is the hon. Gentleman saying? He is saying, "We need this power, and we shall exercise it exactly for these purposes"—the purposes of the relevant paragraph, as he correctly described it, in the Declaration of Human Rights which he quoted. Will he tell the Committee how he fits Dr. Cort's case into that paragraph? What had Dr. Cort done which was an offence against— due recognition and respect for the rights and freedoms of others … What had he done that was in conflict with the duty of— meeting the just requirements of morality, public order and the general welfare in a democratic society. Anything? What complaint had the Home Office against him? Confessedly, none at all. My right hon. Friend has described the employment which he held and how he came to hold it. May I add that he held it all this time with the full knowledge and consent of the Minister of Labour and of the Home Secretary, who had been consulted and who knew that the appointment was intended to be of a permanent nature.

Photo of Sir Hugh Munro-Lucas-Tooth Sir Hugh Munro-Lucas-Tooth , Hendon South

His permission to say here was expressly stated to be temporary.

Photo of Mr Samuel Silverman Mr Samuel Silverman , Nelson and Colne

I did not say anything to the contrary. What I said was—and I repeat the words in case the hon. Gentleman did not hear them the first time—that he was here in employment which the Home Secretary knew all about and which he had known all about for years, which the Minister of Labour knew all about and which he also had known all about for years, and that both of them knew that the offer to Dr. Cort had a permanent basis. It had, and they knew it had, and that is what I said. The hon. Gentleman does not deny it.

Photo of Sir Hugh Munro-Lucas-Tooth Sir Hugh Munro-Lucas-Tooth , Hendon South

The hon. Member for Nelson and Colne said that my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary said that he knew this was intended to be permanent. Apparently, Dr. Cort applied for a permanent appointment. He was told that he could not have a permanent appointment but only a temporary one.

Photo of Mr Samuel Silverman Mr Samuel Silverman , Nelson and Colne

I think that the hon. Gentleman is completely mistaken. What Dr. Cort applied for was permanent residence here. He was told that he could not have permanent residence but only temporary residence here. That is quite another matter. I was not talking about his application for permanent residence, but the plain fact that the employment offered to him at Birmingham was permanent and that the Ministry of Labour and the Home Office gave their consent to his taking it. It is not suggested by the Home Office that they would ever have interfered with his continued residence—if you like on a temporary basis—but for the incidents in America to which my right hon. Friend has referred.

When we talk about "temporary basis from year to year" we may be talking about a long time. This very legislation has been continued from year to year on a temporary basis for 35 years. It is perfectly possible to do things on a temporary basis, and do them periodically for successive periods, reserving to ourselves the academic right not to renew at some future time, but knowing all the time that we do not intend, on our present knowledge, to exercise any such right. It is not contended at all that, but for those matters, there would have been any interference. What were the matters?

Photo of Sir William Anstruther-Gray Sir William Anstruther-Gray , Berwickshire and East Lothian

It is not in order to discuss details of administration. I have been patiently allowing the case of Dr. Cort to be used as an illustration. I hope that the hon. Member is not going into the details of that case.

Photo of Mr Samuel Silverman Mr Samuel Silverman , Nelson and Colne

I am much obliged to you, Mr. Hynd. I was not going into details. I expressly said that there was nothing we could do about it, because the case was over. I am only using it as a test which the Committee ought to apply when the Government ask us to continue this temporary legislation on this temporary basis, on the plea that the discretion is always so widely exercised that the Committee need have no fear.

If the argument in that case be applied to other cases the Committee will see how serious it can become. The Government have said in that case, "We have nothing against this man." His own country has nothing against him which it could put forward under the extradition laws as a ground for his return. They say, however, "He has done something, according to what we are told by the United States authorities, that may lead the United States authorities to cancel his citizenship. That would mean he would be a Stateless person, which means that if ever we should want to deport him we would not be able to do it."

8.45 p.m.

That is a highly hypothetical set of circumstances. But the danger is that if the Home Office continues to act on that principle, the whole basis of political asylum and of the extradition laws will be undermined. There will be no protection left in them for anybody, because any country which cannot get back on to its own territory a citizen which it would like to have back, can, on this principle, get him returned at once merely by saying to our Home Office, "Next week we are going to cancel this man's citizenship, so you had better return him this week. Next week you will not be able to."

If that is a sound principle, then there can be no political asylum left and no protection at all. No doubt the Joint Under-Secretary of State will say, "Ah yes, but had we been satisfied that by deporting this man to the United States of America he would really have been in danger, then we would not have done it." Let us test that. Somebody in the Home Office allowed a most curious letter to be written on this point, which, I am glad to say, the Home Secretary, in an interview which some of us had with him, expressly repudiated. But it was written on the authority of the Home Office. What was written in the letter was that unless his life was in danger there was no question of political asylum.

Photo of Sir William Anstruther-Gray Sir William Anstruther-Gray , Berwickshire and East Lothian

The hon. Member is still on this particular illustration. I hope that he will soon leave it and come to the point before the Committee.

Photo of Mr Samuel Silverman Mr Samuel Silverman , Nelson and Colne

It is a very useful illustration, Mr. Hynd, and I am only using it as a scientist would use a germ in a test tube.

Photo of Sir William Anstruther-Gray Sir William Anstruther-Gray , Berwickshire and East Lothian

I know, but I am under the instructions of the House to conduct this debate in a proper manner, and in a debate on this Bill it is not in order to discuss details of administration. Now the hon. Member is about to quote a letter. Nothing could be more detailed than that.

Photo of Mr Samuel Silverman Mr Samuel Silverman , Nelson and Colne

I am not quoting the letter for the sake of the letter, Mr. Hynd, and I am sorry if I am putting forward my argument so clumsily and ambiguously. What I am saying is that this letter expressed a principle upon which somebody in the Home Office thought that he was entitled to act, and, presumably, will continue to think that he is entitled to act.

Photo of Sir Hugh Munro-Lucas-Tooth Sir Hugh Munro-Lucas-Tooth , Hendon South

Is the hon. Gentleman referring to the letter written by Dr. Cort himself? I think he is.

Photo of Mr Samuel Silverman Mr Samuel Silverman , Nelson and Colne

All the documents are in the possession of the Home Secretary, and——

Photo of Sir Hugh Munro-Lucas-Tooth Sir Hugh Munro-Lucas-Tooth , Hendon South

It was written by Dr. Cort himself.

Photo of Mr Samuel Silverman Mr Samuel Silverman , Nelson and Colne

It was not denied by the Home Secretary. The hon. Gentleman must allow me to complete my sentence, and then he can attack it if he likes.

Photo of Sir Raymond Gower Sir Raymond Gower , Barry

How is it possible, Mr. Hynd, for the Committee to decide an argument which is based on references which the Committee cannot see?

Photo of Sir William Anstruther-Gray Sir William Anstruther-Gray , Berwickshire and East Lothian

That is the kind of difficulty into which we are getting. The point before the Committee is whether this Act should continue for one year.

Photo of Mr Samuel Silverman Mr Samuel Silverman , Nelson and Colne

I will leave the point forthwith, except to remind the hon. Gentleman who was present at the interview that when this matter was brought to the attention of his right hon. and learned Friend, his right hon. and learned Friend said that it had been an error. Perhaps on that ground alone one can safely leave it there.

The point is that these tests of political asylum are becoming extremely blurred. We used to know what it meant. We used to think that it meant that if a man, for political, racial, or religious reasons was in danger of persecution in his own country, we would afford him refuge and asylum. What did the Home Secretary say in this case? He said, "I am not convinced that anything will happen to him or that anything political is involved, and unless I am so convinced no question of political asylum arises."

As my right hon. Friend has already pointed out, on the ship on which Dr. Cort left this country there was another case. Perhaps, as we are now coming to a different case in order to compare the one with the other, it will be seen why I have preferred to rely on cases and to compare them, rather than to rely on mere vague generalisations. On this ship, there was a man called Klimowicz—a Pole. He had come to this country as a stowaway. He was found when the ship came to port, and I think an attempt was made to get him ashore. The attempt did not succeed. The master of the ship drew the attention of the authorities to the fact that he had a stowaway on board. The immigration officer, whose duty it was, served upon the master of the ship a written notice directing him to keep the stowaway on board and take him back to Poland.

At some stage the Home Secretary changed his mind, and ultimately—I leave out the intervening stages, about which there might be interesting comment which might not be so relevant to the present argument—the Home Secretary granted him political asylum. But, so far as we know, the Home Secretary knew nothing whatever about this matter, except that the man had been to this country before as a member of the crew of the same boat, and had so misbehaved himself as to be prosecuted by the English police in the English courts for offences against our law.

At what stage did the Home Secretary come to the conclusion that Mr. Klimowicz was a political refugee seeking political asylum? Does he really say that this was a stronger case than Dr. Cort's? This was not a man who had been resident here for nearly four years. This was not a man who had been employed in one of our universities on work valuable to this country. This was not a man for whom the Chancellor of that university, and a number of other eminent people, had made representations on the ground that he was a political refugee. I do not know whether Mr. Klimowicz was a political refugee. Perhaps he was. If the Home Secretary thought that it was right to give him political refuge I am making no complaint. Whether or not this Pole was a political refugee, I am certainly not the person to say that the Home Secretary should not have done so. But I think one is entitled to contrast the two cases and to ask the Home Secretary to explain on what principle he exercises his discretionary authority which is vested solely in himself without appeal.

Are we reaching the stage—I hope we are not—when we think that granting political refuge means granting asylum to the people with whom we agree and refusing it to people with whom we do not agree? Is it a question of affording political asylum to those who take our view, or something like our view, in the great ideological conflicts that are raging throughout the world and will rage, I suppose, for the greater part of the century?

It is a poor kind of political asylum by which Communist countries give political asylum to Communists and anti-Communist countries give political asylum to anti-Communists. That is not political asylum at all. It may be a good thing to do, but it is quite a different matter, and it is out of harmony with all those principles of civil liberty and humanitarian doctrine which gave this country for so many years a preeminent place in the world as the world's leading defender of liberty and humanity.

The essence of tolerance is to tolerate not the man we agree with but the man we do not agree with. If we do not do that, we have not begun to understand what tolerance means. If we take these two cases together, we see on what grounds it is impossible for the House of Commons any longer to continue to repose confidence, in the discharge of these duties, in the unfettered discretion of one politician against whose decision there is no appeal.

Photo of Sir Raymond Gower Sir Raymond Gower , Barry

The Committee has heard two absorbingly interesting speeches, one from the former Home Secretary, the right hon. Member for South Shields (Mr. Ede), based upon his own distinguished tenure of that important office, and another from the hon. Member for Nelson and Colne (Mr. S. Silverman), who always speaks with a good deal of information on these subjects.

I think that the intervention that I made was justified by the divergencies of these speeches. In so far as the speech of the right hon. Member for South Shields, if I do not interpret him wrongly, was to the effect that the House of Commons, being called upon to renew these powers, should ponder carefully before doing so. Basing his views upon his own experience of this office, he does not consider the existing procedure unsatisfactory, providing that it is administered in accordance with the general feelings of the people and of this House generally.

Photo of Mr James Ede Mr James Ede , South Shields

I would not like the hon. Gentleman to draw that deduction from what I said. I was merely dealing with the issue before me. While I do not agree with all the details of the proposed amendments to the law suggested by my hon. Friend, I certainly think there should be considerable amendments.

Photo of Sir Raymond Gower Sir Raymond Gower , Barry

I certainly accept what the right hon. Gentleman has said, but I think he will agree that the tenor of his remarks was that, with some minor modifications, the existing procedure, embodying this important discretionary power, for affording justice to these people was generally satisfactory and had been over a long period of years, while, on the other hand, the case of the hon. Member for Nelson and Colne is that this power should no longer be exercised by one man. I think the hon. Member several times reiterated that opinion. Indeed, he suggested that it should be a different kind of inquest into the right of an alien to remain here, and that he should appear before some form of tribunal to which there would be some right of appeal.

Many of us would agree with the general sentiments which have been expressed. We would all agree, as a people with a history of liberal democracy, that we certainly want all people who are genuine political refugees to find asylum in this country. It has long been the glory of our society that people of divergent views can so forcibly argue with each other. I am sure that many hon. Members, like me, have taken visitors to this country to Hyde Park Corner and similar places to see that practice. But we are now arguing within narrow limits. I am sure that many of us on this side can see reasons for either of the views which have been expressed, but it is difficult to agree with both views at the same time.

9.0 p.m.

Photo of Mr Samuel Silverman Mr Samuel Silverman , Nelson and Colne

Is it difficult for this Committee to assent to the proposition that the continuation of these powers, whatever they are to be, should be determined by an Act of Parliament and not by delegated legislation?

Photo of Sir Raymond Gower Sir Raymond Gower , Barry

I was just about to say, that my first reaction is to agree with the view of the hon. Member. I suppose he is rather surprised. I believe that in the future, but, certainly not tonight, Governments must give careful attention to this whole problem.

Photo of Mr Samuel Silverman Mr Samuel Silverman , Nelson and Colne

Home Secretary after Home Secretary has said that, year after year, for over 30 years.

Photo of Sir Raymond Gower Sir Raymond Gower , Barry

But, on reflection, I would add that there must be some sound historical reasons why this particular power has been vested in a Minister in this way and not in a tribunal. Such a fundamental alteration in the law is a matter that should not be decided without very great consideration.

I certainly do not accept the statements made from the other side of the House. The right hon. Member for South Shields implied that the exercise of this power by the Home Secretary is completely unfettered, that he could do as he pleased, that if he wished to allow a person in he could do so; if, on the other hand, he did not wish a person to come in, he could stop him. I think the right hon. Gentleman would agree that to some extent this is governed, if not by strict rules of precedent, by the customs which have been built up by successive Home Secretaries, as, indeed, with the other discretionary power of the death penalty.

I think the right hon. Gentleman will probably concede—and it is the feeling of the vast majority of us on this side of the Committee—that the former Home Secretary, in the circumstances in which he was placed—and I shall not develop this for reasons on which your predecessor in the Chair, Sir Rhys, has already given his Ruling—was just as bound by these customs and precedents to arrive at the decisions at which he did arrive.

Photo of Mr James Ede Mr James Ede , South Shields

My statement was that it was in defiance of all precedents that asylum was denied this man.

Photo of Sir Raymond Gower Sir Raymond Gower , Barry

That is surely a matter of opinion, on which both sides of the Committee disagree.

Photo of Sir Rhys Morris Sir Rhys Morris , Carmarthen

I do not think it is in order to discuss details of these cases on this Amendment.

Photo of Sir Raymond Gower Sir Raymond Gower , Barry

In conclusion, I reject one point of view expressed by the hon. Member for Nelson and Colne. Surely he was not serious when he compared the erratic behaviour of some Americans with the complete negation of freedom in some of the countries behind the Iron Curtain.

Photo of Mr Samuel Silverman Mr Samuel Silverman , Nelson and Colne

The hon. Gentleman really must not say anything like that. I never made any comparison of any sort or kind. All I said was that it would be a poor thing if political asylum in the world generally were reduced to the giving of asylum to a Communist by Communist countries and to an anti-Communist by anti-Communist countries.

Photo of Sir Raymond Gower Sir Raymond Gower , Barry

The comparison which the hon. Member drew was the refusal to allow one person to enter from the United States with the permission granted to a Pole. He omitted to mention the fact that it is no crime to try to leave the United States. It is certainly not a capital offence while, undoubtedly, from all our knowledge, it is a capital offence to try to leave Poland or Russia.

Photo of Mr Samuel Silverman Mr Samuel Silverman , Nelson and Colne

The hon. Member must get his facts right. One cannot leave the United States without a passport, and no citizen of the United States who wanted to go to a Communist country—

Photo of Sir Rhys Morris Sir Rhys Morris , Carmarthen

Whether or not the hon. Member gets his facts right, they do not appear to me to be relevant.

Photo of Sir Raymond Gower Sir Raymond Gower , Barry

They were all based upon what has gone before, and I was merely replying to statements made, Sir Rhys. I agree with the former Home Secretary that the Committee should carefully scrutinise the powers which it grants to any Home Secretary, but it cannot, at this stage, alter the whole procedure for dealing with this very difficult problem.

Photo of Sir Barnett Stross Sir Barnett Stross , Stoke-on-Trent Central

The Committee is greatly indebted to my right hon. Friend the Member for South Shields (Mr. Ede) for the way in which he opened the case and for the arguments which he adduced. I do not intend to quote any specific case, because I wish to keep within the bounds of order if possible. My question relates to Interpol. Does the Under-Secretary remember that in connection with the case of Dr. Cort, as a member of the deputation which went to see the Home Secretary——

Photo of Sir Hugh Munro-Lucas-Tooth Sir Hugh Munro-Lucas-Tooth , Hendon South

I do not want to interrupt the hon. Member, but I cannot believe that a question relating to Interpol is material or relevant to the debate. I do not know what point the hon. Member seeks to make, but I do not wish to appear discourteous to him by having to refuse to answer his question on the grounds that it is out of order.

Photo of Sir Rhys Morris Sir Rhys Morris , Carmarthen

It is out of order.

Photo of Sir Barnett Stross Sir Barnett Stross , Stoke-on-Trent Central

As we are discussing the question whether we should permit this law to remain on the Statute Book for another year, can the Under-Secretary tell me whether the promise given by the former Home Secretary upon this matter—which involves a question of principle, namely, whether our police can, at the request of a foreign Power, put questions on behalf of that foreign Power to foreign residents in this country—has been kept, and whether anything has been done to see that such action has not been repeated?

Photo of Sir Rhys Morris Sir Rhys Morris , Carmarthen

That appears to be a question of administration, and such questions are not in order in discussing the Amendment.

Photo of Sir Barnett Stross Sir Barnett Stross , Stoke-on-Trent Central

I have asked my question, and I am sure that the Under-Secretary will take note of it. With due respect, Sir Rhys, my view is that it is particularly germane to the matter if it is the kind of administrative point which makes us get up on our feet and show ourselves as intolerant of the constant continuation of this law year by year.

Let me put another point to the Under-Secretary of State. Parliament, by statute, gives the Home Secretary these specific powers, and has continued them, as we have heard, for over 30 years year by year. Among the powers is a power to deport anyone who is not a British citizen by birth or by naturalisation. Therefore, the power that the Home Secretary has is very great. By statute we have given him certain rights in the matter. For example, no one who is refused permission to become a naturalised citizen can ask him why. He has no right to ask why. The hon. Gentleman will recall that I wrote to him about a constituent of mine two days ago. The citizen cannot ask why he is refused, nor can he ever know whether the reason will ever be rendered to him.

I put this question to the Under-Secretary of State. Does he think it reasonable that the statute should be continued in this way year by year by dele gated legislation which gives a power to the Home Secretary to act as judge in a case without revealing the reasons for his decision, without allowing himself to be questioned about his decision? I think that this is a very good reason why we should not continue these powers in this way any longer, but should have them under review and, if they are required, have them in an Act of Parliament. It will be most interesting to see whether in his answer the hon. Gentleman will make any suggestion about when the time will come when we shall change our procedure.

Photo of Mr Kenneth Younger Mr Kenneth Younger , Grimsby

I want to support what was said by my right hon. Friend the Member for South Shields (Mr. Ede) and a good deal of what was said by my hon. Friend the Member for Nelson and Colne (Mr. S. Silverman), though I differ from him in not being one of those who seek to attack the whole of the discretionary system of the Aliens Order.

My point of view is that precisely because this Act gives the Home Secretary such a complete discretion to deal with aliens as he thinks fit he has a special obligation to deal with them according to correct principles. I want to refer to one or two aspects of a principle that the Under-Secretary of State seemed to be invoking when we had our detailed discussion of the case of Dr. Cort, in July; but I do not want to refer to that case except in so far as may be necessary to make my general point.

Let us consider the case of an alien in this country who is fairly well known, who has been a year or two in the country, who is legitimately employed, and against whom nothing is known. He has the nationality of another country, and, therefore, in the Home Office phrase he is "returnable." That is to say that if he were to do something to which the Home Secretary took exception there would be some other country to which he could be sent back because he has the nationality of that country.

Then, during his stay here, something happens in that country of his nationality that changes the position. In that country a law is passed which includes among the penalties a provision for loss of nationality. A situation newly arises where people of that country who are abroad may suddenly find that their nationality is lost. Therefore, in the Home Office phrase, they will cease to be returnable because there is no longer any country to which the Home Secretary can forcibly return them.

Provisions of that kind in the law of any foreign country are out of accord with, out of the spirit of, our modern legislation. From the point of view of British legal history we could say that they are a throwback to the old system of outlawry from which we freed ourselves more or less at the same time as we became free of the arbitrary system of imprisonment on political grounds. Such provisions are a reversion to what we used to call oulawry.

It seems to me to be a very dangerous thing for the Home Secretary to say that he will stick slavishly to the principle of returnability in circumstances of that kind, because, normally, a foreign country can get back one of its nationals from abroad only under the very strict terms of its extradition legislation. Extradition legislation is passed precisely because it is known that the legal systems of different countries differ and it is, therefore, thought that individuals should not be returned from one country to another against their will, except under very closely-stated safeguards.

9.15 p.m.

Right hon. Gentlemen opposite appeared to take the view in this case that it would all have been quite different had they been satisfied that, on return to his own country, the alien would be subject to persecution in the sense in which that term is used when we are discussing extradition or political asylum—in other words, that he would be suffering danger to life or liberty. But this principle does not stand or fall by the answer to that question.

Let us see how it would work out. Imagine a country—I think there are several which fall into this category—which, without being in the full sense a totalitarian country, nevertheless imposes certain restrictions upon its citizens, particularly in the field of free speech. Think of a country which has various forms of censorship. Suppose a national of that country were to come to Britain and to write or speak in a way which, had he been at home, would have contravened those laws; and suppose his Government think that it would like to stop all their citizens from going abroad and talking in this free manner.

Is it to be possible for such a Government merely to pass some legislation of their own, in which they include among their penalties that any of their nationals abroad who infringes these rules is to be liable to lose his nationality, for the British Home Secretary to say, "I am sorry. This journalist, from whichever country it may be, has written this article, his Government have taken exception to it and in respect of it have threatened to deprive him of his nationality; and they are entitled to have him back. I cannot keep him because he is not returnable"? Is that the principle to which the Home Secretary now wishes to commit himself? This matter does not turn on the question of whether the particular inconveniences which Dr. Cort was believed likely to suffer if he went back to the United States measured up to those which we apply to political persecution in respect of the law of asylum.

I think that the Home Secretary has opened the operation of this Act and this Order to very dangerous possibilities. As far as we know, this is the first case of the kind in which this discretion has been so wrongly exercised. There was absolutely no reason for the Home Secretary to have taken the action which he took. Nobody was asking him to make some great general declaration that the political situation in the United States was such as to amount to political persecution. He could have done no such thing, and nobody asked him to do it.

All that was needed on his part was a little masterly inactivity, simply to allow a man who had been three years in this country doing a decent job to go on doing a decent job for a little longer. There would have been no complaints from any quarter in this country, and, to do the United States authorities justice, I do not believe they ever made any complaints or ever demanded from the Home Secretary that he should take any action to force their national back to his own country

I believe that by taking the action which he took the Home Secretary has betrayed the very fine liberal tradition of the Home Office. I am not disputing that he was entitled in terms of the law to do what he did; nevertheless, he should not have done it. Because he did it we are entitled to hunt him for it, if only as a warning to his successor of the standard of conduct which the House expects.

Photo of Sir Hugh Munro-Lucas-Tooth Sir Hugh Munro-Lucas-Tooth , Hendon South

The complaints made by the hon. Member for Nelson and Colne (Mr. S. Silverman) that my right hon. and gallant Friend the Home Secretary is not here to answer the debate is one upon which I must comment. It is fair to point out that on no occasion since the war, and, as far as I know, long before that, has the Home Secretary personally answered this debate. The right hon. Member for Grimsby (Mr. Younger) answered in the time of the previous Administration. Furthermore, my right hon. and gallant Friend was not given very much notice. At 10.15 last night I inquired whether this Amendment had been put down, and it had not then been put down. We did not know until this morning that the matter would be raised.

Three main lines of argument have been raised from time to time in connection with the renewal of the Aliens Order. First of all, there is the line of criticism of particular acts which have been done and rules of administration which have been applied under the order. Secondly, there is very often voiced a demand for the complete abolition of the control of immigration, and, thirdly, there is the case, which was put this evening by the right hon. Member for South Shields (Mr. Ede), demanding permanent legislation instead of the present system.

Concerning the first of these arguments—the criticism which has been made, and very properly made, in the course of this debate of the way in which the Home Secretary exercises his powers under the order—I think that I should give the Committee some general facts to show the background against which our administration has been carried on during the past year.

Nine hundred and twenty thousand aliens were admitted to this country during the 12 months ending 30th September last. Of those, only 1,333 were refused leave to land. I cannot give the complete breakdown of the figures of those who were refused leave to land, but I can give the three largest categories.

In 521 cases the applicant did not have the means to support himself. In 115 cases the applicant had inadequate documentation; in other words, he did not have a passport. In 59 cases the applicant came here for a job for which he had not the necessary Ministry of Labour permit.

I am referring, of course, only to aliens. In addition, there was a very large number of visitors and people coming to this country from overseas who were British subjects, and therefore not within this jurisdiction. At the present time, we have rather over 360,000 aliens who are resident in this country in the sense that they are here for three months or longer. Of course, a very large number of these are here permanently. I mention them to the Committee in order to show that we are dealing here with such large numbers that one must expect cases in which administrative mistakes were made.

I am not suggesting for a moment that the cases referred to this evening come within that category. But, from time to time, cases do come to light in which mistakes have been made, and I think that the Committee will agree that, considering the numbers involved, it is astonishing how few complaints there are. Because this is a matter which engenders more indignation than any other, curiously enough, when a mistake is made, a great deal of publicity attaches to it.

Photo of Mr Samuel Silverman Mr Samuel Silverman , Nelson and Colne

If it was only in 1,333 cases that permission to land was refused, we can almost forget the other aliens who came, can we not? It is not a very big problem if there are only 1,333 cases in a year which have to be examined.

Photo of Sir Hugh Munro-Lucas-Tooth Sir Hugh Munro-Lucas-Tooth , Hendon South

All the 920,000 cases have to be examined—the whole lot of them. The point I am making is that difficulties arise in only a tiny proportion of the cases.

A great deal has been said about the question of returnability. The right hon. Member for Grimsby suggested that if returnability were taken away from an alien for some such reason as his having written documents which were offensive to the Government of another country, we would be wrong to refuse to let him stay here in those circumstances. What the right hon. Mem- ber was saying is that if an alien had his citizenship taken away for political reasons, because what he said amounted to political, religious or other reasons of that kind, we would be wrong to allow him to stay here. The right hon. Member is probably right about that.

If citizenship were taken away from an alien for reasons of a kind which would clearly involve political asylum, political asylum would be granted. But what the right hon. Member seems to forget is that in the case to which he referred—the case of Dr. Cort—citizenship was being taken away because Dr. Cort had failed to comply with a perfectly normal law of the United States with regard to his being called up as a doctor. There was, therefore, no question in that case of his having his citizenship taken away from him for political reasons.

Photo of Mr Kenneth Younger Mr Kenneth Younger , Grimsby

I do not want to take the hon. Gentleman into the details of the case, but it is only fair to register that his interpretation of it is not generally accepted on this side. What the hon. Gentleman has said is, at the very best, half the truth.

Photo of Sir Rhys Morris Sir Rhys Morris , Carmarthen

It does not appear to me to be in order on this Amendment to discuss in detail the rights or wrongs of a specific case.

Photo of Sir Hugh Munro-Lucas-Tooth Sir Hugh Munro-Lucas-Tooth , Hendon South

I appreciate, Sir Rhys, that we are in difficulty in that respect, but the case has been made and I think it only fair that I should be entitled to reply to it.

The right hon. Member for South Shields referred to the Eisler case. If he casts his mind back to that case, he will remember that there was no question whatever of Eisler claiming to be allowed to remain in this country; he wished to go to Poland. In other words, he wished to do exactly what Dr. Cort did. In that case, all that the right hon. Gentleman did was precisely what we did in the Cort case. I am quite certain that the right hon. Gentleman would, at any rate, hesitate——

Photo of Mr James Ede Mr James Ede , South Shields

The hon. Gentleman cannot say that. We made arrangements—I was somewhat severely criticised at the time for making them—to see that Eisler appeared before a court in this country. It was the decision of a court and not of the Home Secretary that allowed Eisler to proceed to Poland.

Photo of Sir Hugh Munro-Lucas-Tooth Sir Hugh Munro-Lucas-Tooth , Hendon South

That was because in that case there were extradition proceedings. The parallel between that case and this one could only have arisen had Eisler claimed to be allowed to remain in this country.

Photo of Sir Rhys Morris Sir Rhys Morris , Carmarthen

Cases might be instanced as an argument for the repeal of a specific Act, but to discuss in detail the merits or demerits of these cases surely is out of order.

Photo of Sir Hugh Munro-Lucas-Tooth Sir Hugh Munro-Lucas-Tooth , Hendon South

These cases have been cited, and the former Home Secretary the right hon. Member for South Shields cited this case. It is not fair that he should make a point of that kind without my being able to reply to it.

Photo of Sir Rhys Morris Sir Rhys Morris , Carmarthen

It may be that opportunities for dealing with those cases arise when dealing with appropriate orders, but they do not fall within the present Amendment.

Photo of Sir Hugh Munro-Lucas-Tooth Sir Hugh Munro-Lucas-Tooth , Hendon South

I cannot carry that matter any further, but I have indicated that the comparison which the right hon. Member for South Shields sought to draw was totally without foundation, and that had he been confronted with a claim of that kind, I am perfectly certain that he would have refused Eisler permission to stay in this country.

9.30 p.m.

We must insist upon returnability. That is the only possible basis on which we can conduct the whole policy. Our only sanction on which the whole of the policy is based is that of deportation, or rather the power to deport, because, of course, actual deportation is, fortunately, very rare. The right hon. Gentleman asked if I could give some facts about the exercise of this power. In the year up to 30th September, 1954, 124 deportation orders have been made, all of them by the Home Secretary personally. I cannot say how many have been executed, because many orders are made which are never executed since the individuals leave the country. In other cases, there is considerable delay between the making of the order and the time when it can be carried into effect.

Photo of Mr Arthur Woodburn Mr Arthur Woodburn , Clackmannan and East Stirlingshire

When a person is in prison and a deportation order is issued against him, does he usually finish the sentence or is he deported immediately?

Photo of Sir Hugh Munro-Lucas-Tooth Sir Hugh Munro-Lucas-Tooth , Hendon South

If an alien is convicted of a crime and sentenced to imprisonment and if it is possible to deport him, he finishes the sentence and is then deported immediately afterwards. We never make a deportation order merely to hold an alien in gaol; that is to say, although it may be necessary to arrest an alien in order to carry out a deportation order, my right hon. and gallant Friend would never make an order solely in order to hold a man in gaol for an indefinite period. That is not the purpose of the power.

Photo of Mr Samuel Silverman Mr Samuel Silverman , Nelson and Colne

Of the 124 persons against whom deportation orders were made during the last 12 months, can the hon. Gentleman say without notice how many are now in prison on a deportation order itself—people whom he has been unable to deport but against whom a deportation order has been made?

Photo of Sir Hugh Munro-Lucas-Tooth Sir Hugh Munro-Lucas-Tooth , Hendon South

I will try to get that information and to let the hon. Member know before we part with the Clause. I cannot answer on the spur of the moment. Of the 124, 76 related to aliens who have been here for less than four years; in other words, aliens who are here on a temporary basis.

I should tell the Committee that one of these cases relates to a man who has been here since before 1939. I think that the facts of that exceptional case are worth mentioning to show the way in which the order is worked. The individual concerned was an Italian who had been here since childhood, and therefore one might suppose that this was a peculiarly harsh exercise of the power.

In June, 1940, he openly declared that he would rather serve in the Italian Army than in the British Army. He was interned. It was necessary to keep him in internment until May, 1945, on account of his strongly expressed anti-British views. It was then decided that he would not be repatriated because of the general circumstances of the conclusion of the war and the fact that he had lived here for a long time. He then took to a life of crime and was twice given specific warnings that if he so continued he would be deported. It was only after that that it was finally decided to deport him. That shows that even the type of case which, at first glance, might look as if deportation were a harsh measure may be one where an order must properly be made.

The question which I would put to those who argue in the way the hon. Member for Nelson and Colne has argued, that we should deal with the matter by statute, is, "Do you really want hard-and-fast statutory rules in this connection?" Does the hon. Member really want it laid down that a man who commits one serious crime, two serious crimes, three serious crimes, or whatever number one wishes, shall be deported? That is what he argued.

Photo of Mr Samuel Silverman Mr Samuel Silverman , Nelson and Colne

What I argued was that if we are to give these powers to the Home Secretary, the House of Commons should define them. What I further argued is that even in the sort of case which the hon. Gentleman has described, and especially in that kind of case, it is very much better that the man should have the right to be heard than that we should be left dependent upon the Home Secretary's perfectly honourable but quite ex-parte judgment.

Photo of Sir Hugh Munro-Lucas-Tooth Sir Hugh Munro-Lucas-Tooth , Hendon South

If the man is to be heard by the court, then the court must have the conditions in which he is to be deported laid down precisely, and we should then do away altogether with the discretion which is now vested in the Home Secretary. A man who is the subject of a deportation order has a perfectly good right to be heard at the moment, and, indeed, every hard case is heard. All he need do is to bring the matter to the attention of a Member of Parliament, and it can then be raised in the House. That seems to be a far more appropriate way of dealing with the matter.

Photo of Mr Samuel Silverman Mr Samuel Silverman , Nelson and Colne

The hon. Gentleman is surely mistaken in supposing that the only choice before us is discretion in the Home Secretary or a completely rigid code. Surely there are many cases in which matters are referred to a court and the court is left with a discretion. I should prefer a judicial discretion to a political one.

Photo of Sir Hugh Munro-Lucas-Tooth Sir Hugh Munro-Lucas-Tooth , Hendon South

If the hon. Member really means that all he wants to do is to put it out of his own power to take up the cudgels in a case which is thought to be hard, I do not think he will find many hon. Members who will agree with him. There are some cases where deportation would obviously appear to be abominable, and there are other cases where deportation appears to be essential. In fact, all these cases have difficult, complicated features. There may be security reasons; there may be compassionate considerations, if for instance, the man has a wife and children in this country, and there are other considerations. It really is not possible to deal with these matters except on the basis of the widest possible discretion.

Deportation is not a punishment, as the hon. Member for Nelson and Colne appears to think. It is an administrative act——

Photo of Sir Hugh Munro-Lucas-Tooth Sir Hugh Munro-Lucas-Tooth , Hendon South

—and it is on that basis that the discretion should be exercised.

A good deal has been said on the question of political asylum. I must repeat what has been said many times before. Political asylum is the right of the State and not the right of the individual concerned. I want to quote what I said in the last debate on this subject. The traditional test applied to applications for political asylum is that the applicant's life or liberty would be in danger on account of race, religion, nationality or political opinion if asylum were refused. The hon. Member for Nelson and Colne suggested in his speech that the Home Office tended to regard that definition as if it was limited to the applicant's life, and he referred to a letter which he said had been written from the Home Office to show that that was the case. In the debate which we had on 30th July on the Cort case, I said: Dr. Cort then supplied the Press with a statement saying that the Home Secretary had rejected his claim because the rule under which political asylum can be granted was limited to danger to life. That was the next action that was taken. Of course, if indeed my right hon. and learned Friend had ever said that that was the rule, then I quite agree that all the criticisms that have been levelled against him would be valid, but the plain truth is that that statement by Dr. Cort was completely and absolutely without any foundation whatsoever. That was the first time, so far as I know, that this matter reached public ears."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 30th July, 1954; Vol. 531, c. 964.] I was interrupted by the hon. Member for Bristol——

Photo of Sir Rhys Morris Sir Rhys Morris , Carmarthen

I think we are back on the details of this case.

Photo of Mr William Keenan Mr William Keenan , Liverpool Kirkdale

On a point of order. This matter has been ventilated, and, as the details of this particular case have been debated, I think we should get a reply from the Under-Secretary, whether he likes it or not.

Photo of Sir Rhys Morris Sir Rhys Morris , Carmarthen

It might be desirable to have a reply, but this is not the occasion for such a reply, nor is it the occasion for a detailed discussion of the case.

Photo of Sir Hugh Munro-Lucas-Tooth Sir Hugh Munro-Lucas-Tooth , Hendon South

This point was made at some length, and, indeed, the hon. Member really virtually accused me——

Photo of Sir Rhys Morris Sir Rhys Morris , Carmarthen

I cannot allow that. I think I have made it quite clear that the case may be referred to as an illustration whether the restriction should be repealed or not, but that does not make it in order to discuss the detailed merits of a particular case.

Photo of Mr Ivor Thomas Mr Ivor Thomas , The Wrekin

Further to that point of order. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."] I have as much right to interfere in this debate as any other hon. Gentleman. I am a Member of this House, and I want to draw attention to a point connected with the matter under discussion. Is it not correct, when dealing with a purely technical legal matter of this kind, to illustrate such a matter with definite and concrete historical cases?

Photo of Sir Rhys Morris Sir Rhys Morris , Carmarthen

That is the case; it is in order to use a particular case as an illustration, but that is a very different thing from going into the merits or demerits of the case and discussing it in detail.

Photo of Sir Hugh Munro-Lucas-Tooth Sir Hugh Munro-Lucas-Tooth , Hendon South

I cannot pursue that matter, though I think I could answer all the points that have been made. I think I can at least go as far as to say that the distortion of that case by the hon. Member for Nelson and Colne really cannot be allowed to go uncontradicted.

Photo of Mr Samuel Silverman Mr Samuel Silverman , Nelson and Colne

I apologise for interrupting again, but I think the word "distortion" is a rather harsh word to use in connection with what I said. I said in my speech that the Home Secretary had expressly repudiated any such opinion, and I said that to the House, and I made it perfectly clear that I know perfectly will that the Home Secretary never held any such view. What I did say——

Photo of Sir Rhys Morris Sir Rhys Morris , Carmarthen

The hon. Member is now going into the details of the case.

Photo of Mr William Hall Mr William Hall , Colne Valley

May I interrupt? I think it is fair to my hon. Friend the Member for Nelson and Colne (Mr. S. Silverman) that the Under-Secretary should withdraw the word he did use. I quite realise that he cannot now discuss the merits of this case, and, that being so, and as previously both sides of that case had been put, no harm would be done if the hon. Gentleman left the discussion where it is. Those who agree with him already know the case that he will deploy, and, in my submission, it would be unfair for what he said to stand on the record.

Photo of Sir Rhys Morris Sir Rhys Morris , Carmarthen

I have nothing to say to that. I have given my Ruling.

Photo of Sir Hugh Munro-Lucas-Tooth Sir Hugh Munro-Lucas-Tooth , Hendon South

The facts in that case certainly did not amount to anything sufficient to justify a claim to political asylum, and when the right hon. Gentleman the Member for South Shields speaks of a reign of terror in America, I can only suppose that he has been paying a great deal of attention to his hon. Friend the Member for Nelson and Colne.

9.45 p.m.

Photo of Mr James Ede Mr James Ede , South Shields

I used those words before my hon. Friend the Member for Nelson and Colne (Mr. S. Silverman) had spoken. They expressed views which, as a teacher in this free country, I hold very sincerely. I lose no opportunity of expressing my sympathy with my colleagues in America in the unfortunate circumstances in which they are now placed.

Photo of Sir Hugh Munro-Lucas-Tooth Sir Hugh Munro-Lucas-Tooth , Hendon South

I am content to leave that matter where it stands. I hesitate to go into any of the other individual cases which have been mentioned. I would like to do so, but I think I should offend against your Ruling, Sir Rhys.

With regard to the abolition of control over immigration I recognise that there are excellent a priori arguments that can be put forward for it. Unfortunately there are insuperable practical objections. I think they are recognised in all parts of the House, and certainly by the right hon. Member for South Shields who speaks for the Opposition in this matter. I assume that the Committee as a whole is with me in saying that we must, in present circumstances, retain control of immigration.

The question then is whether the control should be exercised through the Parliamentary machinery which we have dealt with this evening or by means of permanent legislation. Should there be a statute embodying the Aliens Order, as the right hon. Gentleman suggested? I think he would agree with me that that Order is almost altogether administrative machinery of the kind found in a statutory instrument and not in a statute. What he and hon. Members in various parts of the Committee want is a statute setting out substantive rules. That is what the hon. Member for Nelson and Colne wants. It has been asked for in various parts of the Committee.

I must tell the Committee that the conditions for the admission of foreigners into this country are almost impossible to define. I believe that both the right hon. Gentlemen who spoke and who have practical knowledge of that difficulty will agree that we could not set out effectively in a statute the considerations which ought to be taken into account when admitting aliens into this country, and that we must deal with the matter in the way it has been dealt with in the past, not only by an order but by building up a kind of case law and trying to keep to it. If Questions are put down on individual cases or general policy, they are always answered fully. Also, the matter is ventilated every year, as it is this evening, by a debate on this Bill. That is a more satisfactory way of dealing with the matter.

There must be a discretion. What tribunal could possibly say that X's employment is needed in the national interest? It is a consideration which could be advanced. This must be a question of policy, to be decided by a Minister. Would hon. Members prefer that questions of hardship in individual cases should be removed from the purview of the House of Commons and put before some kind of tribunal? It seems to me that the best way to deal with those matters is the present way, so that hard cases can be brought up and ventilated. here.

Of course, the way in which I have just put this matter greatly over-simplifies the problem, because there are, of course, many other considerations than those I have mentioned. Besides, if a statute were passed now it would have to give sufficient powers for dealing with the kind of base we have been discussing, or, alternatively, impose itself adequate restrictions to deal with them.

I recognise that the powers of the Home Secretary and the restrictions which he has to impose are very onerous indeed. That is due to the circumstances of the world in which we live, but I think it would be quite wrong to freeze our powers and our restrictions in the present state of affairs, because that is what we should have to do if we tried to deal with the matter by statute now. If a statute were adequate to deal with the present position, it might be much more than adequate to deal with it in a few years' time.

I can assure the Committee that every aspect of this question is constantly under review, and when I say that I mean every aspect, both in general policy and in particular cases. Certainly no one would be more thankful than my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary, or, if I may say so, the Joint Under-Secretary, to be able to place a part at least of this matter on a more stable basis, but I believe that at the present time it is essential to continue as we have been doing for so many years past.

Amendment negatived.

Photo of Mr James Callaghan Mr James Callaghan , Cardiff South East

I beg to move, in page 3, to leave out lines 13 to 15.

If this Amendment were accepted, it would destroy the 30 miles-an-hour speed limit. That, no doubt, would meet with the approval of a number of motorists, but I am not at all sure that it would meet with the approval of pedestrians. However, as you may have guessed, Sir Rhys, it is not really my intention to do that. I do not want to get rid of the 30 miles-an-hour speed limit, but only to get it put on a permanent basis.

The submission I wish to make to the Committee tonight is that it is high time—indeed, long past time—that the Government should take that step. The 30 miles-an-hour speed limit dates from the 1934 Act.

Photo of Captain James Duncan Captain James Duncan , South Angus

Why did not the hon. Gentleman's own Government do it during the six years of Socialism?

Photo of Mr James Callaghan Mr James Callaghan , Cardiff South East

The hon. and gallant Gentleman, if he cares to stay, will hear the reply very quickly. This dates from the 1934 Road Traffic Act.

Photo of Mr James Callaghan Mr James Callaghan , Cardiff South East

If the noble Lord cares to refer to the Bill, he will see that we are discussing the context of Section 1 of the Road Traffic Act, 1934.

When the Coalition Government was in existence—I hope that the hon. Gentleman will watch my history—it set up a committee to review road safety in general, including, of course, the operation of the 1934 Act. There was an interim report in 1944, a final report in 1947, and, following on that final report, which dealt with a large number of issues ranging from driving while under the influence of drink to guard rails at pedestrian crossings, the Government of which I happened to be a very junior Member proceeded to consult the interests concerned and to pave the way for legislation. When, in 1951, I left the Ministry of Transport legislation was well on the way. I am told that by the time the Labour Government left office in 1951 a Bill was about to be put into draft form.

Our hopes were encouraged in 1952, when the hon. Baronet the Member for Bristol, North-West (Sir G. Braithwaite), who was then the Parliamentary Secretary, came to the House for the debate on this matter. I raised the same question then as I am raising tonight. I was followed by my hon. Friend the Member for Sowerby (Mr. Houghton), who so incited the Parliamentary Secretary that he gave utterance to an expression that I have no doubt the Ministry has long since regretted.

In response to the challenge of my hon. Friend the Member for Sowerby as to why, five years after the Report had been prepared, the House was still not in possession of the proposed legislation, he said: But I add immediately that my right hon. Friend is not definitely wedded to that idea, and that we hope before too long—I cannot give a date—to introduce to the House a comprehensive Road Traffic Bill, in which we intend, among other things—there are, as hon. Members will realise, a number of matters awaiting attention: rear lighting, and so on—to seek authority to make the power to impose the speed limit permanent. That was two years ago. I think I am entitled to say that the words … we hope before too long … to introduce … a Bill … really were an indication to us that we could expect it fairly shortly. Certainly, the hon. Baronet, who had then been rendered wholly punch drunk, but was still on his feet and weaving, came back with a straight left to the jaw when I interrupted to say that the Government could claim no special virtue in that. He replied: The virtue of action as against inaction; that is all."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 2nd December, 1952; Vol. 508, c. 1374 and 1381.] These were the brave words of 1952. But where is the Bill? There has not been much action so far. We are still waiting.

This matter has been raised since then. I am not sure whether the present Parliamentary Secretary has had Questions on the subject, but, certainly, his predecessor had, and so had the Minister. On 3rd February, 1954, my hon. Friend the Member for Dartford (Mr. Dodds) and my hon. Friend the Member for Enfield, East (Mr. Ernest Davies) asked the Minister when it was … propose to present legislation to Parliament to improve measures of road safety as announced in the Speech from the Throne. In the Gracious Speech from the Throne in 1953—that is, a year ago—we were promised a Measure dealing with road safety. We have not had it. I hope that the hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for South Angus (Captain Duncan) is taking as much interest in this as he did in his jibe at the beginning, because I think that he might himself be pressing his own Government for a Measure of this sort.

Photo of Captain James Duncan Captain James Duncan , South Angus

It is in action already. The hon. Gentleman is talking of improvements in road safety. This 30-mile speed limit all over the country has been decided by Parliament.

Photo of Mr James Callaghan Mr James Callaghan , Cardiff South East

The hon. and gallant Gentleman is not following the argument. [An HON. MEMBER: "He is not capable."] No, I shall not say that he is not capable, but a comprehensive Bill dealing with this was promised to be introduced. We were promised it in a speech by the Parliamentary Secretary in 1952, we were promised it in the Queen's Speech of 1953—and still it has not appeared. I should like to ask the Government why it has not appeared and when we are to get it. That seems to be a perfectly legitimate request. After all, it is not often that legislation promised in the Queen's Speech just disappears without a word. The Gracious Speech is supposed to lay down the Government's legislative programme for the remainder of the year.

Photo of Mr William Hall Mr William Hall , Colne Valley

There is teachers' superannuation.

Photo of Mr James Callaghan Mr James Callaghan , Cardiff South East

My right hon. Friend reminds me that, of course, the Teachers' Superannuation Bill has not got very far. [An HON. MEMBER: "The Dentists Bill."] It will be seen how I am being led astray, but these are purely illustrations of the muddle into which the Government get themselves in their legislative programme. I would not dream of spending any more time on them because I do not want to rub the Government's nose in the dirt. Goodness knows, it is dirty enough without any rubbing. All I would say to the Parliamentary Secretary on this aspect of the matter is that he must not give us the reply that the Minister gave on 3rd February, when he said, in reply to a Question by me: I have made it plain in earlier answers in the House that a good Bill involves a great deal of preliminary consultation,"— he did not remember that on the Transport Bill— so that some of the problems which might otherwise occupy public attention after the Bill is presented can be thrashed out first."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 3rd February, 1954; Vol. 523, c. 336.] 10.0 p.m.

Both Governments have had seven years in which to do something. This Government found a Bill practically in draft. Is it not the case that there is a Road Traffic Safety Bill in draft today, in the form of Clauses, which could have been presented to the House in the last 12 months, but is lying in a dusty pigeon hole, mouldering?

The Minister goes to the Road Safety Congress and makes brave and bold speeches. I am in favour of brave and bold speeches from the Government. We hear enough muttering from them, but cannot we have some action as well? Instead of having just brave and bold speeches at the Congress, why not put some teeth into the speeches?

This is a serious matter. I assure the Parliamentary Secretary that we are not disposed to allow it to pass lightly or easily. He knows, because he is Chairman of the Road Safety Committee, that if there is one problem which is touching the conscience of people today it is this question of accidents on the roads. Practically every figure in public life has expressed concern at the growing toll of accidents on the roads because of the increasing number of vehicles and the need for an overhaul of existing legislation.

I say this to the Parliamentary Secretary in his capacity as Chairman of the Road Safety Committee. I regard it as his duty to badger the Leader of the House and the Government to get a nonparty and a non-controversial Bill of this sort introduced as soon as possible. If he had showed a little more action and made fewer speeches, we should have had this Bill a long time since. I would cheerfully have given up some of the legislation that we have had in the last few years in exchange for it.

A committee considered and reported on the matter. A committee examined all the implications that would be necessary to revise the existing Act. Since that time, the Minister has had years in which to consult the various interests concerned. I know that conferences have taken place, for two reasons: first of all, I was on the end that started the consultations, and later, I have been on the receiving end, and I know some of the consultations that the Minister has had. He has had all the consultations he can possibly want. The Bill is ready, but it has not been introduced.

I say to the Parliamentary Secretary that there is a very strong case for bringing in this Bill at the earliest possible moment if he means the public to take seriously the suggestion that the Government are in earnest about preventing road accidents. The Parliamentary Secretary knows, as I know, that in this legislation there are many provisions dealing with drunkenness and a great many other things. [Interruption.] Will the hon. and gallant Gentleman either stop muttering or stand up and say what he wants to say?

Photo of Captain James Duncan Captain James Duncan , South Angus

What has this got to do with the 30 miles-an-hour speed limit? All we are concerned with on the Amendment is the continuation of Section 1 of the Road Traffic Act, 1934, which deals with the 30 miles-an-hour speed limit only. It has nothing to do with drunkenness.

Photo of Mr James Callaghan Mr James Callaghan , Cardiff South East

I am sure that if I were out of order, the Chair would pull me up. If the hon. and gallant Gentleman had been at these debates in the last few years, as some of us have been, he would know that the discussion has ranged over this problem. If the Parliamentary Secretary states in reply to a debate, that legislation is coming shortly, and goes on to detail some of the points with which the legislation deals in previous debates in previous years, there is nothing out of order in referring to them again on this occasion. The trouble with the hon. Gentleman is that he feels his Government have a guilty conscience. So do I and I do not wonder that he is trying to protect his Front Bench.

I have no desire to detain the Committee except to say that I hope the Parliamentay Secretary will do his duty. Get this Bill off the stocks. Get it in front of the House. Plenty of hon. Members will give up their time to get it through. There will be no fractious comment. We want to see an end to the terrible road accidents. The Ministry of Transport has a bad legislative record and so has the Minister's predecessor. It is time we had this Bill.

Photo of Mr William Hall Mr William Hall , Colne Valley

We had hoped to have a reply from the Minister. I was under the impression that he was about to rise, Sir Charles.

Photo of Mr Ernest Fernyhough Mr Ernest Fernyhough , Jarrow

On a point of order. The hon. Member for Kirkdale (Mr. Keenan) was on his feet when you were about to put the Question, Sir Charles.

Photo of Mr William Morrison Mr William Morrison , Cirencester and Tewkesbury

I think I was a little too quick.

Photo of Mr William Keenan Mr William Keenan , Liverpool Kirkdale

I do not want unduly to prolong the proceedings, but I think something should be given to us on this particular question. I have raised the subject of road safety in the last 12 months on two Adjournments, once with the Home Office and once with the Ministry of Transport. The reply I got about a fortnight, or three weeks, ago was such that it was sufficient to demand a new road traffic Act.

Our present legislation is inadequate and merely to continue as is suggested here is absolutely preposterous. One hon. Member suggested we should be limited to the 30 miles-an-hour limit. I prefer to be limited rather than argue for something to be done which is different from the expressed intention.

All we are asked to do is simply to continue as we are, with no promise that anything will be done in the near future. What is the value of continuing with the 30 miles-an-hour limit when neither the Home Office nor the Ministry of Transport is able to enforce it? Everybody knows perfectly well that the majority of motorists and motor-cyclists are exceeding the 30 miles-an-hour limit in almost 50 per cent. of the cases. There is hardly a motor cyclist on the road who does not exceed the speed limit, yet there is no promise of any intention to do anything about it.

I had a Question on the Order Paper today, but I did not have the opportunity of questioning the Minister because it was not reached. It was to ask why there was a limitation on crossings and what was being done about those alleged to be travelling at 30 miles an hour but often travelling at 40 or 50 miles an hour. The enormous toll of murders on the road is sufficient justification for demanding from the Government a Bill that has been on the stocks for so long. Such a Bill would give the House an opportunity of improving road safety measures and of trying to get changes made by law which would cut down the accident rate. If it is intended to continue with the present Road Act next year, what is the good of road safety programmes such as we have in Liverpool at present? What good are they if we do nothing effective to follow them up?

Photo of Mr Arthur Molson Mr Arthur Molson , High Peak

The hon. Member for Kirkdale (Mr. Keenan) addressed his speech to the real question of road safety. I cannot follow him in all he has said, because the only effect the Amendment would have would be to bring to an end on 31st December all the restrictions of 30 miles per hour. We are convinced that it is extremely important for road safety that this limitation should continue.

Photo of Mr James Callaghan Mr James Callaghan , Cardiff South East

No one is arguing otherwise.

Photo of Mr Arthur Molson Mr Arthur Molson , High Peak

The hon. Member says that no one is arguing, but that is the effect of the Amendment, and I am under an obligation to give some reasons why I must advise the Committee to reject it. This may be one of those cases where the Opposition choose to make irrelevant speeches upon their Amendments, but that is no reason why I should not justify the action of the Government in putting this provision into the Schedule of the Bill.

A Select Committee of another place went into the question of road safety and came to the conclusion that the principle of a speed limit must be retained. But it is not in a Select Committee of another place that we find the classical pronouncement upon this matter. The hon. Member for Cardiff, South-East (Mr. Callaghan) was Chairman of the Road Safety Committee at the time when it was asked by the right hon. Member for East Ham, South (Mr. Barnes) to report on various aspects of road safety. I congratulate him upon the excellent piece of work produced by the Committee under his chairmanship, but when he moves tonight that we should bring all 30 miles an hour speed limits to an end on 31st December, I feel bound to read to him the general principles that he laid down as Chairman of the Committee. He said: Safety on the road is the major consideration and a speed limit is a safety measure which should be imposed wherever justified and appropriate. Why he should be so impatient when I am quoting with appreciation and agreement a report of which he was certainly the main signatory, I cannot imagine.

Photo of Mr James Callaghan Mr James Callaghan , Cardiff South East

I said at the outset that as far as I knew nobody wanted to get rid of the 30-miles-an-hour speed limit. The Joint Parliamentary Secretary must have heard what I said. He should know that that is not the main substance of the argument. What we are really interested in is the fact that the promise made in this debate two years ago has not been carried out, and we shall be much obliged if he will come to the point as soon as he can.

Photo of Mr Arthur Molson Mr Arthur Molson , High Peak

I hope to deal with the points made by the hon. Gentleman, but I must point out that there is very little connection between the Amendment he moved and the speech he made. Later, fortunately, there was an intervention by the hon. Member for Kirkdale, who is fully aware of the gravity of the Amendment.

Photo of Mr Arthur Molson Mr Arthur Molson , High Peak

The hon. Member for Kirkdale has always emphasised the importance of the 30 miles-an-hour speed limit, and has been pressing for its introduction in places where it does not exist at present. He is certainly not in agreement with the hon. Member for Cardiff. South-East on this point.

10.15 p.m.

Photo of Mr Arthur Woodburn Mr Arthur Woodburn , Clackmannan and East Stirlingshire

On a point of order. There are many other questions to be discussed tonight, and although probably it is quite justifiable for the Joint Parliamentary Secretary to go on as he is and comment on things that are not under discussion in order to twist my hon. Friend's tail, I take it that you, Sir Charles, are desirous that the business should be discussed in a speedy manner so that other hon. Members will be able to discuss other matters before the early hours of the morning, and that, therefore, the hon. Gentleman should not waste the time of the Committee.

Photo of Mr William Morrison Mr William Morrison , Cirencester and Tewkesbury

The Parliamentary Secretary is quite in order. Naturally, as the right hon. Gentleman knows very well, I am always interested in speedy business.

Photo of Mr Arthur Molson Mr Arthur Molson , High Peak

I find myself in some difficulty in this matter. We have introduced a Bill in order to continue after the 31st December this year, for a further 12 months, a Measure that all Governments, the previous Government as well as this, have continued from year to year.

Even if new legislation had been introduced just recently, or even if it were introduced now, it could hardly be on the Statute Book before 31st December, and it is, therefore, essential that this Bill should continue for a further year the valuable provisions of Section 1 of the Road Traffic Act, 1934. Because the hon. Gentleman opposite chooses to hang upon a peg of this kind a criticism of the Government, that is really no reason why at the beginning of my speech I should not seek to persuade the Committee that it is extremely valuable to maintain this 30 miles an hour speed limit, and it is obviously necessary that this Amendment should be rejected by the Committee if we are to have it in operation after the beginning of next year.

As the hon. Gentleman the Member for Cardiff, South-East objected to my reading paragraph 5 of his valuable Report, I will not proceed to do so any further. The general gist of that paragraph is to emphasise how valuable it is to have the 30 miles an hour speed limit in suitable places. As the hon. Member for Kirkdale tonight, as on previous occasions, has urged upon us the desirability of extending the 30 miles an hour speed limit elsewhere, I would suggest to him that he should read paragraph 7 of the same Report. He will see that in this admirable Report of his hon. Friend it is emphasised that while the 30 miles an hour speed limit is valuable in some places, and, therefore, must be retained by this Bill, it does not follow from that that a general and indiscriminate extension of it all over the country would be equally desirable.

We can point to very considerable improvement in the road accident records since the 30 miles an hour speed limit was originally introduced. In 1934 the total number of accidents was 239,000, and in 1953 it was only 226,000, in spite of an increase in the number of motor vehicles from about 2½ million to over 5¼ million. In the face of an improvement of that kind, it is obvious that we could not accept the Amendment.

Photo of Mr William Keenan Mr William Keenan , Liverpool Kirkdale

A number of factors are involved here. We have trained some of the children better than they were trained in those days. People are less inclined to cross the road now, because they are afraid of being knocked down. They dodge crossing the road. That is one reason fewer are killed.

Photo of Mr Arthur Molson Mr Arthur Molson , High Peak

A number of improvements in the law were effected in 1934, and one of the most radical changes was the introduction of the 30 miles-per-hour speed limit.

For those reasons, I feel sure the House will agree that, after the improvement which has taken place, we could not lightheartedly accept the Amendment.

The hon. Member for Cardiff, South-East made a protest that I began my speech by addressing myself to the Amendment, and I promised him that I should not fail to answer some of the points he had made, especially as they amounted to a criticism of the Government. My hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Bristol, North-West (Sir G. Braithwaite), who was my predecessor, indicated two years ago that the Minister of Transport hoped at some time to introduce a Road Traffic Bill. My hon. and gallant Friend was careful, however, to point out that it was not possible for him to mention a date.

Photo of Mr James Callaghan Mr James Callaghan , Cardiff South East

The hon. and gallant Gentleman said: … we hope before too long—I cannot give a date—to introduce to the House a comprehensive road traffic Bill,"—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 2nd December. 1952; Vol. 508, c. 1374.] How long is too long?

Photo of Mr Arthur Molson Mr Arthur Molson , High Peak

The answer is that it is not long enough yet. My hon. and gallant Friend was careful in what he said on that occasion; he said, "I cannot give a date." The same applies generally to me at present. I can, however, make it plain that it is not the Government's intention to introduce a Road Traffic Bill during the remainder of the present Session.

There was no promise in the Queen's Speech that legislation would be introduced during the present Session. I have furnished myself with the words, which read: My Ministers are attentively examining the Road Traffic Acts with a view to introducing further legislation to improve road safety and promote the orderly use of the roads."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 3rd November, 1953; Vol. 520, c. 6.]

Photo of Mr George Porter Mr George Porter , Leeds Central

But the hon. Gentleman will agree that the Queen's Speech contained a reference to the Government's intention in that sentence.

Photo of Mr Arthur Molson Mr Arthur Molson , High Peak

It was for that reason that the Gracious Speech carefully said: My Ministers are attentively examining the Road Traffic Acts … Having heard my definite statement on behalf of the Government that it is not our intention to introduce a Bill dealing with road safety during the remainder of the present Session, I am sure that hon. Members opposite will realise that it would be quite improper for me in any way to anticipate what might appear in the Queen's Speech opening the next Session of Parliament.

Photo of Mr William Hall Mr William Hall , Colne Valley

I think the whole Committee will agree that we have rarely listened to a speech which contained so little in it, and which, in fact, contained no reply whatever to the very cogent arguments put from this side of the Committee. If it were not that we on this side are just as keen as anyone else to have this provision retained until further legislation comes along, I would invite my hon. Friends on this side of the Committee to vote against it.

Earlier, Sir Charles, I asked whether you would permit the hon. Gentleman to reply to the debate. He has made no reply; he has simply wasted our time, and I am sorry that I put that point to you.

Amendment negatived.

10.30 p.m.

Photo of Mr Arthur Blenkinsop Mr Arthur Blenkinsop , Newcastle upon Tyne East

I beg to move, in page 3, to leave out lines 41 to 45.

Photo of Mr James Carmichael Mr James Carmichael , Glasgow Bridgeton

On a point of order, Sir Charles. As we are dealing with all the Acts in this Schedule, I want to be assured that after the Amendments have been dealt with we shall be allowed to discuss any of the Acts that have not so far been debated.

Photo of Sir Charles MacAndrew Sir Charles MacAndrew , Bute and North Ayrshire

Certainly. I have to put the Question that, "That this Schedule be the Schedule to the Bill."

Photo of Mr Arthur Blenkinsop Mr Arthur Blenkinsop , Newcastle upon Tyne East

It has been customary for a considerable number of years to take this opportunity of discussing the Act to which I am referring in my Amendment, that is to say, the Furnished Houses (Rent Control) Act, 1946, and its continuation.

In moving that these lines be left out, I am following precedent in a way which I hope the Minister will appreciate. I am doing so for the reason that it is desirable that we should have some account of the operation of this Act before agreeing to its continuation, and that we should consider before agreeing to its continuation whether or not it is desirable that this Act should be on a more formal basis and be given indefinite statutory effect.

I hope that it will be recognised that, since this matter was last discussed a year ago, there have been some important changes which affect quite considerably the operation of the Act. I am referring, of course, to the changes brought about by the introduction of fresh legislation under the Housing Repairs and Rents Act which was passed through the House this Session. In that Act references are made to the rent tribunals under the Furnished Houses (Rent Control) Act, 1946, and our experience of the last few months suggests that a considerable number of tenants are, in fact, taking advantage of the opportunity of referring cases to the rent tribunals. That means that there is bound to be a considerable increase in the amount of work which these tribunals have to carry out.

The first question I put to the Minister is whether he is satisfied that the reduced number of rent tribunals now in operation is sufficient to do the work efficiently and give proper opportunity to tenants to make their claims before them. As the Minister knows, we originally had 81 or more rent tribunals in operation in England and Wales. Over the period of time since the present Government came into power, we have had a reduction in the number of the rent tribunals, and I think that the figure quoted today in the Financial Memorandum of this Bill is 61 rent tribunals; that is to say, there has been a reduction of some 20 tribunals. That has been carried out with a great deal of protest from this side. Many of my hon. Friends have felt that the closing down of tribunals meant that tenants would not have the opportunity of raising their cases, as they had before. We should re-examine the position now, in view of the new category of case which is bound to come before the tribunals. Does the information which the Minister has about the use of the tribunals and the need for them justify an increase in their number?

Now that these rent tribunals have been enshrined in other legislation, is it not time to consider whether they should not be put upon a more permanent basis? In 1946, we thought of them as required for a temporary period while the demand for houses was in its most acute state. Now they are to be used for other legislation, and it is worth while considering whether the Act included in this Schedule should not be made permanent. We all recognise the value of the work done by the tribunals and how many families are protected today against gross malpractice by the existence of the tribunals. Many tenants have been able to secure rent reductions. Many landlords would be charging higher rents for furnished tenancies if it were not for the tribunals. We are anxious not only that the Government should maintain the existing number of tribunals but should give full consideration to increasing the number.

In doing so, the Government should consider not merely the number of applications made to the tribunals but the actual cases that come forward for consideration. The tribunals have given valuable advice to tenants and landlords about cases which have not proceeded to full examination. That advice may help the parties to reach an amicable solution. We urge the Minister to give us some satisfaction that he will do his best to ensure, with cases already arising under the new Act of landlords trying to increase their charges for services of all kinds, that everyone in the country realises his rights and powers and the willingness of rent tribunals to hear cases. We hope he will satisfy us that the Government recognise the importance of this matter and will consider even increasing the number of tribunals, particularly in places where tribunals were closed down.

Photo of Mr William Deedes Mr William Deedes , Ashford

I appreciate that the main purpose of the hon. Mem- ber for Newcastle-upon-Tyne, East (Mr. Blenkinsop) in moving this Amendment is to obtain up-to-date information on the activities and the prospects of the rent tribunals. I welcome this chance to say a word on these prospects. First, may I give this general assurance in answer to the hon. Gentleman's speech? They will remain as long as they have got a task to fulfil, and it is quite clear that, although their work has been considerably reduced from the early days, they still have a considerable amount to do.

With regard to reduction by amalgamation, of which the hon. Gentleman spoke, as the work of the tribunals is reduced, as in certain areas it has been reduced, it is the policy—and this was discussed last year—to reduce their number by amalgamation, and I think that is reasonable on grounds of economy. In respect of the later legislation, that situation is being kept under very close watch.

The assurance was given last year that there would be no reduction in the service to meet the public needs, and I can repeat that assurance now; a close watch will be kept on the numbers and, if necessary, adjustments can be made in both directions.

The Committee may like some figures indicating the current activity of the tribunals. In the peak year of their activity which ended in October, 1950, the tribunals decided 18,351 cases. There were, as the hon. Gentleman has said, 80 tribunals in existence in England and Wales. In the year ending 31st March, 1954, they decided 8,568 cases. The tribunals had then been reduced to 61. There have been no amalgamations since January of this year.

As the hon. Gentleman may have calculated for himself, whereas the cases have been reduced to 50 per cent. of what they were in the peak period, the tribunals are still at 75 per cent. of their strength. We have felt that they should be able at that level to absorb the new work which the Housing Repairs and Rents Act, 1954, has brought to them without addition, but if additions are needed they will be provided.

I should add that all the indications are that further amalgamation will be possible but, as an indication of the work which the tribunals are already doing under this Act, I would say that they have had 100 applications under Sections 24 and 40 of the Act, most of which were from London and Manchester. I think that the incidence of cases under this Act will probably be geographically uneven; that is to say, they will arise obviously more in London and one or two other places than elsewhere.

To indicate that we are keeping a close watch on the needs of these tribunals in their fresh task, I can say that they are being asked to report progress once a month rather than once every three months, and they have been asked when under any pressure to report to the Ministry.

I should add that an alternative means has been found of economising in the use of these tribunals where they are not required full-time, and that is to keep certain tribunals working part-time—that is to say, three days a week. These were all done with the agreement of the tribunals concerned. I think I would be right in saying that not more than 10 of the tribunals are now affected by that reduction.

The hon. Gentleman mentioned the question of advice which may be given. I think it is generally accepted that the staff of tribunals give advice to all, and on every occasion that they can, but their advice is limited by the consideration that the tribune may sooner or later have to adjudicate on a point on which advice is sought. I think it will be agreed that we cannot maintain the tribunals for advice only. The local authorities are now empowered to give a certain amount of advice on the new Act, and there are other agencies which can supply the advice. To keep the tribunals in operation solely for that purpose would not be proper.

The hon. Gentleman spoke of their future in terms of their permanence. I cannot add to what has already been said, that this is a matter to be reviewed when there is a comprehensive review of the rent control situation, which there has not been yet, and there can be no change in their permanence until such a review is undertaken. I can, however, give this assurance. These tribunals will be kept equal to the work which they have to do, and I hope the hon. Gentleman will be satisfied with that assurance.

Photo of Mr William Hall Mr William Hall , Colne Valley

I should like to thank the hon. Gentleman for his reply. What he has said and the way in which he has said it has been in marked contrast to the attitude of his predecessor at that Box. The hon. Gentleman knows that, in spite of this Amendment, we do not want to let these tribunals disappear, but under the rules of the House the only way in which we can debate a matter of this kind is to put down an Amendment of this sort. I should like to thank the hon. Gentleman for realising that, and for not wasting any time in reply by pretending that we wanted to do something other than what we wanted to do.

I understand that there are no arrears of cases, and those who apply to these rent tribunals are coming forward and are now being dealt with with reasonable despatch. If that is so, I do not think we have any criticism to offer to the hon. Gentleman, particularly as he has indicated to us that these tribunals will be kept in being as long as they are necessary.

Amendment negatived.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That this Schedule be the Schedule to the Bill."

Photo of Mr James Carmichael Mr James Carmichael , Glasgow Bridgeton

I should like to raise a question that I raised last week concerning the Education (Exemptions) (Scotland) Act, 1947. It deals exclusively with potato harvesting. From the beginning, I have objected to children going potato harvesting.

The important point that I want to stress tonight is that it is the children with the limited education who, in the main, go potato harvesting. The most important function that the education authority can fulfil in Scotland is to develop the faculties of children at the time when they are going out into the world.

I should like to be told the reduction in the potato-growing acreage during the last two years. That may be responsible for much of the decrease in the number of children so employed, but an examination of the record which was given last week shows that this year, from the junior secondary schools in Glasgow alone—I shall not discuss any other part of the country, because that would be unfair to other hon. Members from Scotland—there were 1,544 children engaged on the work. That means that almost 94 per cent. of the children from the junior secondary schools of Glasgow went potato harvesting, and about 6 per cent. went from the senior secondary schools. None went from the fee-paying schools.

10.45 p.m.

I make no protest about the parents who have children at the fee-paying schools not allowing them to go potato harvesting, but from that a lesson can be drawn. The people who send their children to the fee-paying schools want to give them the very best education they can get. The secondary schools are in many cases on a par with the fee-paying schools, but, as I said more than a year ago, the junior secondary schools are the Cinderella of Scottish education. Children regarded by some people as not competent to get to better schools go to that type of school, and they are not allowed to go potato picking until they are more than 13 years of age. Yet this is the most important period of their school education because they have to leave the school at 15, and, if I am any judge, the older the pupil gets the more attention should be paid to the education it gets within the school.

One of the most serious aspects is that children in Glasgow return to school after the summer recess at the end of August. They go into a new class and the teacher prepares them for work for the new session. These junior secondary schools are overcrowded, and by the time the teacher has shepherded them into something like order to begin the new curriculum, they are taken away at the beginning of October to start potato harvesting. The Under-Secretary might say that they are not taken away but volunteer. That is a very poor argument. There are some people in this country who would not let their children go to school. This House, by every piece of legislation, compels the community to do things which it is doubtful they would do if they were allowed to act voluntarily.

The Government have no right to give parents permission to allow their children to go potato harvesting. They do not benefit physically. My predecessor, Mr. James Maxton, once said that Scotland is a small country, and the only way in which a small country of five million people can take its place in the world is by the advancement of knowledge and the improvement of education. Therefore, I submit that the time has arrived when some action should be taken to stop children harvesting potatoes.

During Question time last week one hon. Gentleman who had been to Russia said that he had seen harvesting of potatoes done by machinery. No children were involved. That was behind the Iron Curtain, and I think that we as a democracy should be more advanced than the people behind the Iron Curtain. I know of a farmer in Scotland who will not employ children for this task because he has machinery to do it, and I could give the name of this person to the Under-Secretary after the debate.

I suggest that in Scotland we have able-bodied men who could do this work, and I am satisfied that sufficient has been paid in subsidies to farmers. I have never known a rich farmer in my life. All farmers are very poor. They generally come to the markets in Rolls Royces. Cadillacs or Bentleys. I am quite satisfied that if the farmers were to pay proper rates to adults we could find sufficient men for the job. The great proportion of the children from Glasgow who go to the potato harvesting come from the east end of Glasgow, and they could easily be replaced by unemployed people.

I welcome the news that the numbers are being gradually reduced, and I hope that in due course, by some positive Measure, the Government will repeal the Act. The Under-Secretary cannot argue that it was a Labour Government which introduced the Act. I have it here, and it is quite plain that it was intended to expire in 1948. I do not care who abolishes it; I shall give credit to whichever Government does so. I hope that the Minister will be able to provide some evidence that steps are being taken in this direction.

If children must be employed in this work, let it be apportioned between those who will continue at school after the poorer children—the majority of whom will be economically and socially handicapped all their lives—have left at 15 years of age.

Photo of Mrs Jean Mann Mrs Jean Mann , Coatbridge and Airdrie

I wish to speak for a few minutes on the next Act mentioned in the Schedule.

Photo of Mr James Carmichael Mr James Carmichael , Glasgow Bridgeton

No, no; we are still on this one.

Photo of Mr Arthur Woodburn Mr Arthur Woodburn , Clackmannan and East Stirlingshire

On a point of order. Would it not be desirable to finish with one Act at a time, Sir Rhys.

Photo of Sir Rhys Morris Sir Rhys Morris , Carmarthen

We are dealing with the Schedule. The right hon. Member is not raising a point of order. I cannot tell what an hon. Member is going to talk about when I call him.

Photo of Mr James Carmichael Mr James Carmichael , Glasgow Bridgeton

I should like to put it to you, Sir Rhys, that if the Minister rises to reply to one item and then sits down and rises to reply to another item, the whole issue will be confused. Surely one issue should be finished at a time, after which we can proceed to the next?

Photo of Sir Rhys Morris Sir Rhys Morris , Carmarthen

The Question is, "That this Schedule be the Schedule to the Bill." I cannot say beforehand what a Member is going to say.

Photo of Mrs Jean Mann Mrs Jean Mann , Coatbridge and Airdrie

I hope that I shall not confuse the issue if I refer to the next Act on the Schedule, which is the Tenancy of Shops (Scotland) Act. It seems that the last time we discussed this matter in the House a great storm blew up, and we finished with a Motion of censure upon the Chair. In case you, Sir Rhys, might feel apprehensive at that fact, I would remind the Committee that the Motion of censure was orchestrated and set to music and became a paean of praise in the end.

Photo of Sir Rhys Morris Sir Rhys Morris , Carmarthen

I do not know what that has to do with the continuation of the Act in question.

Photo of Mrs Jean Mann Mrs Jean Mann , Coatbridge and Airdrie

It arises out of the Bill, and from the fact that we had tabled an Amendment to extend the Act for five years. Tonight I want to submit evidence to prove the necessity of giving better security to shopkeepers by means of the Act. We say now, as we said then, that the Act, being only on a yearly basis, gives the shopkeeper very little security. I have here an outstanding case of this insecurity.

I have a sheriff's interlocutory, and the sheriff finds that the applicant had been, in this particular case, an occupant of premises for 35 years. I do not want to weary the Committee with all the details, but, in part, the sheriff says that this business has been the applicant's sole means of livelihood; and then adds that, in fact and in law, if he had to remove from the premises now he would suffer very serious hardship, whereas it is not proved that the respondent would suffer any very great hardship at all by not getting possession of the applicant's premises.

Then the sheriff says that he finds that greater hardship would be caused for the applicant if a renewal of the tenancy was refused than if the application was granted. This is not giving the tenant that security which we all desire for shop tenants when they are faced with the threat of "buy or quit." But the real sting of this interlocutory is in the tail, because the sheriff states that whereas the applicant, if he is ejected from his shop would suffer very grievous hardship in the loss of his livelihood, he—the sheriff—because of the sacrifice of shop and fittings and equipment, felt compelled to grant the applicant one more renewal. This is the third time that that has been done, and each time this shopkeeper has to find a lawyer, and each time he gets this threat.

Here is the end of what the sheriff states: I warn him that a fourth application for renewal may not meet with the same success as on this occasion. That is signed, "Sam Macdonald."

All I say is that I do not know why this Sam should pick up his musket and fire through the security of an Act which is intended to protect the shopkeeper. Why, if the circumstances are exactly the same next year, should he have cause to say that because that will be the fourth time the applicant may not meet with success?

Photo of Sir Rhys Morris Sir Rhys Morris , Carmarthen

If I understand aright, the hon. Lady is now criticising the decision of a court of law.

Photo of Mrs Jean Mann Mrs Jean Mann , Coatbridge and Airdrie

I am sorry, Sir Rhys; we are not permitted to criticise that, but I am glad that you have allowed me to get this on the record. I am sorry if I have offended the rules of the Committee.

Photo of Mr William Ross Mr William Ross , Kilmarnock

Surely my hon. Friend is not commenting on the decision of a court, but merely on certain comments which were made?

Photo of Sir Rhys Morris Sir Rhys Morris , Carmarthen

I understood that the hon. Lady was criticising the decision of a magistrate.

Photo of Mr William Ross Mr William Ross , Kilmarnock

Sheriff substitute.

Photo of Sir Rhys Morris Sir Rhys Morris , Carmarthen

All right; sheriff substitute. In any case, that can be done only on a substantive Motion.

11.0 p.m.

Photo of Mrs Jean Mann Mrs Jean Mann , Coatbridge and Airdrie

I shall finish quickly, because the hour is getting late. The statute says that the tenant shall have the right to apply for renewal. That is very reassuring, but it would appear from what I have quoted that the position is reversed, and that the tenant is threatened if he applies for a further renewal.

We have not put down an Amendment to the Bill relating to the Act, but I say this to the right hon. and gallant Gentleman the Joint Under-Secretary of State for Scotland. He will recall the introduction of the Act. We were all united upon it. There was no opposition to it. He himself had in his own constituency a great many shopkeepers who were threatened with "buy or quit." If this sort of thing to which I have referred were to happen in Glasgow—it has not happened in Glasgow—and the shopkeepers in the properties in Argyle Street had to go year after year to court and were told in a threatening way, "This is the fourth time you have come and you may not meet with success if you come here again," Glasgow would not stand for it. I hope, therefore, that although we have not put down an Amendment, the right hon. and gallant Gentleman can do something about removing this threat from where it is appearing, namely, Aberdeen.

Photo of Mr George Thomson Mr George Thomson , Dundee East

I wish to say a word or two about two or three Acts mentioned in the Schedule. First I wish to support my hon. Friend the Member for Bridgeton (Mr. Carmichael) in what he said about the Education (Exemptions) (Scotland) Act. I should like to see it erased from the Statute Book. I should like also to see taken out of the Schedule the Rent of Furnished Houses Control (Scotland) Act, but I should like to see it made a permanent feature of the statutes.

As to the first, it appears to me that the Education (Exemptions) (Scotland) Act, which comes back to us year after year, is becoming one of the permanent educational problems of Scotland. It is one of many disturbing aspects of conditions in the Scottish schools. I have been recently urging that we should try to restrict corporal punishment in Scottish schools and limit it a bit more than at present. I should like to see Scotland keep up with modern trends in education and with England in this respect. But I should not like it to be thought that my sympathies are confined to the schoolchildren of Scotland. I have the deepest sympathy with the school teachers of Scotland, and nowhere more than in the matter of the exemptions of schoolchildren who go to the potato picking. It seems to me that the teachers of Scotland do one of the most important jobs in the community, and that nowadays they are having to do it in some of the most difficult circumstances, particularly in the junior secondary schools, where the problem of the children going off each autumn to the potato harvest is especially acute.

It is the junior secondary schools, as my hon. Friend pointed out, that are specially affected in the city I represent, for instance, only four pupils from fee-paying schools went to the potato harvest this autumn, against 3,772 from the junior secondary schools in Dundee and 430 from the senior secondary schools. It is a clear piece of educational privilege. It is a quite wrong approach to the educational problems we have to face. It is working out that those who enjoy the most education are making the least sacrifice and that those who have the least education are making the most sacrifice.

Teachers in the junior secondary schools are teaching over-crowded classes and so have difficulty in maintaining the interest of the pupils. Now, year after year, when the school year has scarcely begun, the curriculum scarcely planned, they find the school year interrupted. This year the interruption has been even bigger than in previous years.

Only a few days ago the Dundee Education Committee dealt with an application for extension of the period for potato picking. It was asked that the children should be permitted to be away for 22 days instead of 15. The committee, with a proper sense of the difficult weather conditions with which the farmers were coping, and the importance of the harvest, and having already committed itself to the job, agreed to the extension. It did, however, add a rider stating that it agreed with the greatest detestation. In Dundee and many parts of Scotland, there is a feeling that this procedure ought to be ended. It has continued for a great many years. I know that the Under-Secretary appreciates that feeling on this matter is widespread in Scotland. He understands that many local authorities have been increasingly reluctant to see the curricula of junior secondary schools interrupted.

Photo of Mr Charles Simmons Mr Charles Simmons , Brierley Hill

Will the hon. Member point out that, in England, if parents keep children away from school for hop-picking they are fined?

Photo of Mr George Thomson Mr George Thomson , Dundee East

I am obliged to my hon. Friend for that interruption. It pains me greatly to find any respect in which England leads us in matters of education. I have been dealing with this in the matter of corporal punishment, and here again, England is more fortunate in the matter of child employment in the fields. The Under-Secretary knows that feeling in the teaching profession has been mounting year by year. Teachers are an important section of the community. I hope that something more will now be done to meet this growing body of protest at the employment of children in the harvest.

About a year ago I asked a Question about a mechanical potato harvester demonstrated at the Highland Show. I was promised that there would be experiment and investigation into its use. I would be interested to hear tonight what the outcome has been. I would be just as interested to hear from my hon. Friend the Member for Dunbartonshire, East (Mr. Bence) about the principal details of a machine which he saw in the Soviet Union.

There is still an insufficient effort by the Secretary of State to get a solution of this problem. Some farmers seem to be able to do without child labour, and it seems strange to a layman like myself in agricultural matters that there should not be a greater effort to persuade other farmers to work methods which would avoid the need for child labour. We cannot be satisfied with conditions in Scottish education until we have got rid of the annual re-appearance of this Bill before the House. I hope this will be the last time we spend time at 11 o'clock at night discussing potato picking by Scottish schoolchildren.

As I have condemned this matter, I would now give some praise to the Rent of Furnished Houses (Control) (Scotland) Act, 1943. We have had this measure before us year by year for 10 years. I feel that it is of such importance that it ought to be made a permanent part of the statutes. I would hope that when that is done the Government will amend and strengthen it in the light of experience of its working. It would seem that the need for rent tribunals and the protection of tenants in furnished accommodation will continue for a considerable number of years. One thing we do need is greater publicity in Scotland in the operation of the Act.

We have heard, from my hon. Friend the Member for Newcastle-upon-Tyne, East (Mr. Blenkinsop), and from the Minister of Housing and Local Government, an interesting account of the operation of the rent tribunals in England and, although he has had little notice of the point, perhaps the Under-Secretary will give us some information on the working of rent tribunals in Scotland. My impression is that the Scottish tribunals are less active, perhaps, than those in England. Lack of publicity is one important point. When I go to St. Pancras to catch my train to Dundee, I see large posters put up by the local authority advertising the advice service which is available to the citizens of the area through the rent tribunals. I should like to see Scottish local authorities providing the same sort of service.

In an area with which I am particularly familiar, there is a growing tendency by landlord in effect to use the provisions concerning furnished accommodation to evade the normal Rent Restriction Acts. When tenement property becomes empty, the landlord's immediate effort is to try to sell it. If he is unable to sell it, there is a tendency for him to put a few sticks of furniture in and call it furnished accommodation, letting it under the terms of the Act which I am discussing.

There were some cases in Dundee recently in which room-and-kitchen property of a very poor sort was rented under so-called furnished conditions at 35s. a week. I visited one such property and found that it was a shocking property, with an outside lavatory and altogether in a disgraceful condition for the rent which was being asked. One tenant took steps under the Act and had his rent reduced to 12s. 6d. but——

Photo of Sir Rhys Morris Sir Rhys Morris , Carmarthen

The hon. Member seems to be going into detail on specific cases.

Photo of Mr George Thomson Mr George Thomson , Dundee East

I am in no way criticising the administration of the Act. I have no complaints against the Secretary of State's administration in this respect, although I have many other complaints against his administration. I suggest that the Act requires amendment and strengthening, and I am giving examples of where it ought to be amended.

Photo of Sir Rhys Morris Sir Rhys Morris , Carmarthen

It is not in order to discuss the amendment of the Act. It is merely a question of whether it should be continued in this form.

Photo of Mr George Thomson Mr George Thomson , Dundee East

In making this Act a permanent feature of the statutes of the country, an opportunity should be sought by the Government to look at it again so as to see how it could be amended to make it a greater service to the community. In particular, I want the Act considered from the point of view of the protection offered to tenants. If a tenant is served with a notice of eviction, under the Act he has no recourse to the rent tribunal once the notice has been received.

Photo of Sir Rhys Morris Sir Rhys Morris , Carmarthen

The hon. Member is pursuing the amendment of the Act. We are dealing with the question whether it should be continued for one year.

Photo of Mr George Thomson Mr George Thomson , Dundee East

I think that tenants under the Act should be given the same sort of protection as is given to tenants in unfurnished property, otherwise there is a danger that landlords will use this Act as a means to evade the Rent Restriction Acts. As we have passed a Housing Repairs and Rents Bill which it seems to us is over-generous to the landlords, there is even less excuse than there was in the past for landlords to do this sort of thing. I leave the matter there: I ask one of the Under-Secretaries to tell us that he would like to see an end to the Education (Exemptions) Act and the other to tell us how we might strengthen the Furnished Houses (Rent Control) Act.

11.15 p.m.

Photo of Mr William Ross Mr William Ross , Kilmarnock

I think that the Scottish Members on this side of the Committee know this Schedule well. We are glad to see that the Government intend to continue the Tenancy of Shops Act for yet another year, and I think the points made by my hon. Friend the Member for Coatbridge and Airdrie (Mrs. Mann) are very relevant. I have felt for some time that the Government were not too keen on continuing this legislation, and I hope they will give us an assurance that they are not intending this year to drop it, and that in future they will not drop it without putting an adequate safeguard in its place, because in the West of Scotland, certainly where I come from, there have often been cases of this kind during the past year.

I hope that no one replying will venture the opinion that, because the Committee did not make any specific recommendation on this, they think that the Act should be dropped, say, after this continuing year. We on this side would be glad to hear, therefore, what the Government have to say about the future outlook for this Tenancy Act. [Interruption.] If the hon. Member for Edinburgh, South has something to say, I am sure we shall all be glad to hear him.

Photo of Sir William Darling Sir William Darling , Edinburgh South

I was informing the hon. Gentleman that the Government's intention was to continue the Act. He is arguing that they should do so. They are doing it.

Photo of Mr William Ross Mr William Ross , Kilmarnock

We have quite different feelings when we come to consider the Education (Exemption) (Scotland) Act, 1947, which we are discussing tonight by special permission of the Leader of the House and the Patronage Secretary, who severely guillotined it on the last occasion. The hon. Member should be more careful. He got into a lot of trouble last time when the Scots had a night out on this, because at 4 o'clock or 7 o'clock in the morning we were very severely guillotined. So I hope he will behave himself tonight.

When one looks at this Education (Exemption) (Scotland) Act, 1947, and reads its purpose, it is surprising that the Government should again be considering its continuation, because the original purpose of the Act was to make temporary provision for the exemption of children from attendance at school, to enable their employment in the in-gathering of the potato harvest. Temporary provision in 1947! Here we are in 1954 carrying it on for another year, to the end of 1955.

I can well remember that Second Reading debate, when the pledge was definitely given that this would be only for a time. It was the Labour Government that was then in power, and we heard then the stories of the great developments being made in mechanical potato harvesting. What has happened? I believe that in that year the number of Scottish schoolchildren over the age of 13 who were employed was somewhere about 40,000. So great is the progress towards a solution of this problem that this year the number is 42,000. Is it any wonder that we are concerned about this?

The Scots are sometimes accused of being rather hypocritical about some things, and when I consider the glowing speeches made about Scottish education and the value that Scotsmen place on education—this is relevant to this Bill. Sir Rhys.

Photo of Sir Rhys Morris Sir Rhys Morris , Carmarthen

It may be relevant to the Bill. We are not discussing the Bill, but whether or not it should be continued annually.

Photo of Mr William Ross Mr William Ross , Kilmarnock

Well, the actual fact is that we place such value on education, and under this Bill which we now propose to continue for another year. In the course of the present year, more damage has been done to education than in any of the previous years since 1947. A Question was answered in the House, telling us that in some cases there had been an extension of three weeks given to the children from school.

Photo of Mr William Ross Mr William Ross , Kilmarnock

I do not think the Minister gave the specified period. I have seen that elsewhere. It was the right hon. and gallant Member for Pollak (Commander Galbraith) who answered a supplementary question by me and said that there had been extensions for a considerable period. The actual fact is that these have been necessary because of the type of weather we have been having, but it is flying in the face of all the promises given all these years. Three weeks out of the school curriculum of a child for three years is serious.

Photo of Mr William Ross Mr William Ross , Kilmarnock

We have all the night before us. If hon. Members will look at HANSARD, they will find the supplementary answer that was given to me; it was by the Joint Under-Secretary on 26th October, in Vol. 531, column 1740. He said that some were away a fortnight and that in Perth and Angus the local authorities had generously extended the period of exemption.

Photo of Sir James Henderson-Stewart Sir James Henderson-Stewart , Fife East

The hon. Gentleman said that the period had been extended by three weeks.

Photo of Mr Michael Maitland Stewart Mr Michael Maitland Stewart , Fulham East

That is what he said. He was, of course, mistaken. I said that the total amount of time spent was up to three weeks.

Photo of Mr William Ross Mr William Ross , Kilmarnock

That was exactly what I said. The period of extension had been to three weeks.

Photo of Sir Rhys Morris Sir Rhys Morris , Carmarthen

The Bill is not concerned with the extension of time.

Photo of Mr Archibald Manuel Mr Archibald Manuel , Central Ayrshire

On a point of order. This is important. Some of us are seriously perturbed about the extensions that can take place under a Measure which is being continued by the Bill. Surely it is in order to deal with what is happening under those exemptions?

Photo of Sir Rhys Morris Sir Rhys Morris , Carmarthen

Yes, as an argument for repealing the Act, but hon. Members must not go into the details.

Photo of Sir William Darling Sir William Darling , Edinburgh South

Has the matter that we are discussing now anything to do with expiring Members?

Photo of Mr Hector Hughes Mr Hector Hughes , Aberdeen North

Surely, in giving reasons why this Act should be extended for a few months or made permanent, it is necessary to give illustrations?

Photo of Sir Rhys Morris Sir Rhys Morris , Carmarthen

Hon. Members can give illustrations but not discuss education.

Photo of Mr William Ross Mr William Ross , Kilmarnock

I quite agree with you, Sir Rhys. I am arguing that these extensions are detrimental to child education. I am interested in cases in which exemption has been given for three weeks, and in some cases for 25 days. The children are hardly back at school when they are out again for a week, two weeks or three weeks. I am not complaining about any detrimental physical effect. I am satisfied with the administration of the order by the Secretary of State for Scotland and with how these children are looked after. It may do them good. The point is that it is no substitute for education. Any Scots country schoolmaster will say that the children for whom exemption is sought are generally those most needing education. I do not know whether the hon. Member has any experience of this kind of thing in a country school——

Photo of Mr Kenneth Thompson Mr Kenneth Thompson , Liverpool, Walton

I object to these children who volunteer being called "dead-end kids" by an hon. Member.

Photo of Mr John Timmons Mr John Timmons , Bothwell

I said "dead-end kids from the dead-end schools." I said that advisedly. I was thinking of an education authority in Lanarkshire of which I was chairman which always objected to the use of these children. The Secretary of State for Scotland has superseded local authorities, whose purpose is to administer education, and to whom an appeal was addressed that children should go out voluntarily.

Photo of Mr William Ross Mr William Ross , Kilmarnock

Perhaps I might intervene. If the hon. Gentleman had been listening carefully, and if he understood the educational system in Scotland, he would know that there are senior and junior secondary schools. The junior secondary school is the one to which 90 per cent. of the children go. The figures given in the past few weeks amply demonstrate that the majority of the children going to this work, under the Bill now under discussion, are children from the junior secondary schools.

There is a feeling amongst teachers in those schools that they are "dead-end" schools. I am interested in this because I think that there is a great educational future in Scotland for these schools if they are properly developed, and what makes me so angry is that these schools should be penalised. I have been a schoolmaster. If one is getting on to something new at the start of a session and then, maybe, 10 or 12 children go out potato harvesting—or anything else—it upsets the rest of the children.

Photo of Sir John Macleod Sir John Macleod , Ross and Cromarty

Then why was it that some 23,000 more children went potato gathering in 1948 than went in 1947? And that was under the hon. Member's own Government's administration.

Photo of Mr William Ross Mr William Ross , Kilmarnock

I do not know whether the hon. Gentleman was here when we started this discussion, but I certainly attacked my own Front Bench in regard to this matter. What is worrying me is that there are more schoolchildren going potato harvesting today than at any other time.

11.30 p.m.

Photo of Mr William Ross Mr William Ross , Kilmarnock

We have got plenty of time. The rule is suspended. The hon. Gentleman can speak later.

Photo of Sir Charles MacAndrew Sir Charles MacAndrew , Bute and North Ayrshire

It is true that the rule is suspended, but that does not allow us to discuss an administration.

Photo of Mr William Ross Mr William Ross , Kilmarnock

I agree, Sir Charles. The point that I was making was the effect of this principle on education. There is no doubt that it not only affects the children who are away, but it affects the organisation of work in school. That is why in some places, such as Ayrshire, there has never been any co-operation with the Secretary of State in this work.

I want to know whether we are any nearer the point at which we can get rid of this Measure altogether. We have been told about this mechanical device which can harvest potatoes. I am a little doubtful about the impression gained by my hon. Friend the Member for Bridgton (Mr. Carmichael) who spoke of this machine that was seen in Russia. So far as I can gather, the machine was not seen harvesting potatoes. The machine was seen, and he was told what it could do, but he did not actually see it in operation.

Are we any nearer that state of affairs when potatoes can be harvested mechanically? What I am afraid of is that if this Government remains in office much longer, in view of its attitude and its effect on farming prosperity, it will ensure that the farmers will not be able to buy such a machine.

I had hoped that one of the means by which we could get rid of this potato harvesting by school children was through the realisation that it was urgent from the point of view of education. I ask the Government to consider the effect it has upon the nation which has come to depend upon its children. This is nothing to be proud of. We have heard that in England if a child picks hops when he should be at school his parents are fined. Surely we can do better than this in Scotland. From the point of view of the children, I sincerely hope that the Government will be able to announce that this is the last time that they will seek this extension.

Photo of Mr James Hudson Mr James Hudson , Ealing North

Mr. James Hudson (Ealing, North) rose——

Photo of Mr Archibald Manuel Mr Archibald Manuel , Central Ayrshire

On a point of order, Sir Charles. Some of us are perturbed about the continuation of the Education (Exemptions) (Scotland) Act, 1947, in relation to certain exemptions, and I have felt that there has been little co-operation from you, Sir Charles, in continuing the debate on that subject. It would appear that to jump from the question of furnished lettings to potato harvesting and then to licensing laws is not going to be of much use in formulating opinion in Scotland, unless we have some cooperation.

Photo of Sir Charles MacAndrew Sir Charles MacAndrew , Bute and North Ayrshire

I do not know what any hon. Member is going to speak about when I call him. [Interruption.] Well, I can guess, of course.

Photo of Mr James Hudson Mr James Hudson , Ealing North

I could talk about potatoes, but I do not think this is an appropriate time for me to deal with that matter, especially as there are so many Members from Scotland who are able to do so. But I am going to deal with a matter of great importance.

Photo of Mr James Hudson Mr James Hudson , Ealing North

No, I will not. I think Scotland has had a good run.

Photo of Mr James Carmichael Mr James Carmichael , Glasgow Bridgeton

The hon. and learned Member for Aberdeen, North (Mr. Hector Hughes) is not a Scotsman.

Photo of Mr James Hudson Mr James Hudson , Ealing North

I wish to deal with a matter which has been on my mind during our discussion of this Bill. The Licensing Act, 1953, which is the last in the list of Measures in the Schedule, is a very long Act. I have it with me, but before I mention the number of pages in it I will promise not to read all of it in order to illustrate my case. There are 120 pages, and Part II of the Act, which is sought to be continued, deals with important matters. It is suggested that Part II shall be continued for longer than a year—until 1956. According to Section 67 of that Act, it is laid down that This Part …"— that is Part II— shall continue in force until the thirty-first day of March, nineteen hundred and fifty-four … That was seven months ago. The thing has been dead for seven months, so that this Act, which is for the purpose of continuing expiring laws, is out of order. I do not know whether we can have a ruling on that matter. In the proviso it says that, under the Interpretation Act, it shall have effect as if this part of the Act had been repealed by another Act. To an uninstructed lay mind, and not at all learned in these matters. I understand that mumbo-jumbo to mean that the whole thing is finished twice over. The part of the Act to be continued by this Bill was finished on 31st March, 1954. That is an astonishing state of affairs, particularly when the matter to be dealt with is one of great importance.

The part of this Act mentioned in the Schedule deals with the whole of the licensing for the areas that were blitzed during the war. The former Home Secretary was attached to the principles laid down in this part, and on occasions he told the House that it had been taken as a model for legislation dealing with licensing laws introduced by the Conservative Government. That may be so, but it is to me a defective process. When we could at least be dealing with the war-damaged areas under the ordinary licensing laws of the country, the Government are insisting on keeping alive the provisions of this special Act. I have addressed private questions to the Home Office, and have as yet had no replies, about the job which was provided for under Part II, but as far as I can get any information it appears that it has been done. New public houses have been opened in newly planned areas, and many public houses blitzed and laid bare have been removed under the provisions of that Act. I should like to know what the total of licences removed was.

Photo of Sir Charles MacAndrew Sir Charles MacAndrew , Bute and North Ayrshire

I think the hon. Gentleman is now going into detail. The only question is whether the Act should be continued or not.

Photo of Mr James Hudson Mr James Hudson , Ealing North

I felt I might run into that snag sooner or later. I should have liked to have heard from the Government whether a lot of the work which was to be done under that Act has been done as was intended, and if so I might have been persuaded to fall in with their suggestion. I bow to your Ruling, and if I cannot press the point I will pass on to something else. It ought to be possible under the licensing laws of the country to examine the claims of every new public house in war damaged areas, or in other areas, without recurrence to Part II of this Act. The work could be better done that way than by continuing Part II.

Photo of Sir Charles MacAndrew Sir Charles MacAndrew , Bute and North Ayrshire

It is only Part II that we are discussing at the moment.

Photo of Mr James Hudson Mr James Hudson , Ealing North

I am giving a reason for dropping Part II. I say that there exist, in the ordinary law, provisions to make it possible to deal with licensed premises in all manner of areas. I do not want to see Part II continued. I thought that this was a bad Bill at the time it was introduced. You will prevent me from saying why it was a bad Bill, Sir Charles, so I content myself with saying that it was a bad Bill. The liquor trade has carried on all sorts of dodges behind the scenes, whereby it has been able to get its claims for licences continued under Part II. It would never have been able to have them continued if the ordinary licensing laws had been followed.

Under Part II, for example, the procedure of the courts to which everybody, at any rate south of the Border, is accustomed—of objection by members of the public who do not want to see certain licences extended—cannot be followed; the whole thing is cut and dried by planning authorities and by five or six representatives of the full bench of magistrates, who decide, often in consultation with the trade, what sort of licences should be granted.

I dislike that process, as do my friends. Part II ought to be abrogated for good. I am sure that it would be easy for the Government to accept my plea, because the very terms of Part II indicate that it can be looked upon as dead since 31st March of this year. I hope that the Government will keep it dead and will seriously consider a return to the general licensing law of the country, by which the public has the right of objecting to the granting of certain licences.

Photo of Mr Archibald Manuel Mr Archibald Manuel , Central Ayrshire

I want to say something about the Education (Exemptions) (Scotland) Act, 1947. I had not intended to take part in the debate, but I feel that the attitude of the Government has been so complacent that we ought to attack the matter with greater vigour. There is far too much complacency at the Scottish Office, and on the part of the Joint Under-Secretaries of State for Scotland, who are directly in charge of this matter. It is becoming accepted throughout Scotland as a permanent thing that children should gather in the potato harvest.

In many parts of Scotland there is great resentment at the continuation of this Act, and I feel certain that many farmers are not desirous of being parties to the use of child labour for this work. I should like the Joint Under-Secretaries to consider seriously whether it would not be far better if they devoted what talents and opportunities they have to producing an alternative method of carrying out this work.

11.45 p.m.

I have had serious complaints from up and down Scotland by members of education committees. The members of those committees are giving their time on a voluntary basis in order that our children may have the best that can be offered in education. They feel that this Bill should not be passed if it includes this particular provision, which means that their voluntary efforts are being nullified through the action of the Secretary of State for Scotland. These committees are formed by members of county councils and the large burghs and the churches in Scotland, and yet when they tell the Secretary of State that they do not want the children to be allowed to claim exemption for three weeks for this purpose, the Secretary of State says, "You must claim this exemption whether you like it or not." That is the reply which is given even where there is a unanimous decision; always, it is "You must allow your children to claim the right of exemption."

The education committees are backed by the best of our teaching profession. I used to be convenor for two schools, and I have been told by a headmaster that when a proportion of the children in his care were taken away for three weeks, one of two things had to happen after they had returned—and let it be remembered that very often, in junior secondary schools, a large proportion of one class may go. What had to happen, according to this headmaster, was that those children had to be put back three weeks in order to cover the curriculum they had missed, or they had to be given special tuition; and, of course, schools have not the staff necessary to give special tuition.

Photo of Sir Charles MacAndrew Sir Charles MacAndrew , Bute and North Ayrshire

I have given the hon. Member a lot of latitude, but surely this is a matter of administration?

Photo of Mr Archibald Manuel Mr Archibald Manuel , Central Ayrshire

No, Sir, it is anything but administration; what I am doing is to give the views of people who serve on education committees as to why this Act should not be continued. I am not dealing with the administration of the Act; I am giving the views of people in the teaching profession and those who serve on our education committees. I have given the opinion of one headmaster, and I should like to finish the case I was quoting. What happens is that the children who were ingathering the potato harvest have a blank three weeks which they never catch up throughout the whole of the rest of the session.

I know that it may be a matter for amusement to the hon. Member for Edinburgh, South (Sir W. Darling), because he is one of those hon. Members who say that this does the children no harm. But I wonder if he has ever picked potatoes? I think that my hon. Friend the Member for Bridgeton (Mr. Carmichael) was not sufficiently emphatic about it. This is heart-breaking and back-breaking work, and no child ought to be employed on it. I am quite convinced of that; and I speak as one who has had a taste of it.

Photo of Sir Charles MacAndrew Sir Charles MacAndrew , Bute and North Ayrshire

A predecessor of mine in the Chair in 1948 made quite clear what can be discussed in debate on this Bill. He said that a Member … can generally … discuss an Act which he wishes or does not wish to continue, but he cannot do so in too great a detail."— [OFFICIAL REPORT, 5th November, 1948; Vol. 457, c. 1188] I hope the hon. Member will try to keep to the general point of whether he wants the Act or not.

Photo of Mr Archibald Manuel Mr Archibald Manuel , Central Ayrshire

I thank you, Sir Charles. My recollection of Erskine May on the matter is that it does not quite bear the interpretation of the Chairman who preceded you. It is entirely within the discretion of the Chair. If the Chair feels I am completely out of order, I would ask you, Sir Charles, to tell me so and put me down, and leave it at that.

Photo of Sir Charles MacAndrew Sir Charles MacAndrew , Bute and North Ayrshire

I was hoping I should not have to do that.

Photo of Mr Archibald Manuel Mr Archibald Manuel , Central Ayrshire

I hope you will be fair in your attempt to do it, anyway.

Photo of Sir Charles MacAndrew Sir Charles MacAndrew , Bute and North Ayrshire

The hon. Member must withdraw that remark.

Photo of Mr Archibald Manuel Mr Archibald Manuel , Central Ayrshire

If you feel it is an insult, I will withdraw it. I have been pulled up when dealing with an Act that ought not to be renewed. I rather feel I have put your back up.

Photo of Sir Charles MacAndrew Sir Charles MacAndrew , Bute and North Ayrshire

Nothing gets my back up. It is not a pleasure to me to interrupt or curtail a speech, but I have to carry out the rules. I think the hon. Member has been going into too much detail, and I hope he will keep to my Ruling.

Photo of Mr Archibald Manuel Mr Archibald Manuel , Central Ayrshire

I certainly do not want to cause you further anxiety, but perhaps, Sir Charles, you would give a Ruling on what is the extent of detail. Should I be in order or not in quoting the view of a headmaster? May I talk about an education committee?

Photo of Sir Charles MacAndrew Sir Charles MacAndrew , Bute and North Ayrshire

One can judge only by what is said when it is said. In my view, too great detail was being entered into by the hon. Member, and I hope he will not continue with too great detail.

Photo of Mr Archibald Manuel Mr Archibald Manuel , Central Ayrshire

I will depart from the résumé of the views of people working the Education Acts in Scotland, and not inflict them upon the Committee, although I think those are the most important views that it would benefit the Committee to know.

I would ask the Joint Under-Secretary of State some questions. I believe that the case for the discontinuance of the Act has been strengthened by the decision of certain hard Tory education committees, which is to give greater exemption than was envisaged when the Act went through in 1947. I think that decision has aroused resentment.

The Joint Under-Secretary of State should consider the suggestion made by my hon. Friend the Member for Bridgeton in his eloquent speech, and that people able to do only light labour should be employed on the potato picking rather than schoolchildren. My hon. Friend was completely in order. At least, he was not pulled up, so I think I shall be allowed to cover this part of the argument. There are registering at labour exchanges certain people fit only for the lighter type of labour. I say that a certain proportion of those people would be able to undertake this work.

Recruitment of that type of adult labour would be preferable to using school children. It is too bad that education committees, composed of people voluntarily working our educational system, should be turned into potato committees by the Scottish Office whether they like it or not. I hope that we shall hear from the Secretary of State something about this Bill being discontinued, and about how long he thinks we shall have to suffer this weakening of our educational system. Many children are leaving school without the ability they ought to have because of the recurring periods of absence. The Scottish Office has rather played up the point that voluntary application for exemption is patriotic. I am convinced that not one in 20 of the children who apply—or of the parents, who make the actual decision —is moved by patriotism. What drives the parents to apply for exemption for their children to go potato harvesting is——

Photo of Sir Charles MacAndrew Sir Charles MacAndrew , Bute and North Ayrshire

I have warned the hon. Member several times, and I must now ask him to resume his seat.

Photo of Mr Archibald Manuel Mr Archibald Manuel , Central Ayrshire

I thank you, Mr. Chairman, for your forbearance and toleration. I bow to your Ruling.

Photo of Mr Cyril Bence Mr Cyril Bence , Dunbartonshire East

I agree with what has been said about the disturbance of education. Despite what the hon. Member for Brierley Hill (Mr. Simmons) said, there have been cases south of the Border. As a boy, I did harvest work during the 1914–18 war. I remember that it did as much harm to the boys left at school as it did to us who had gone harvesting. We used to send letters to the boys still at school telling them what a wonderful time we were having. There was only half the form left at school, and the master took things easy because when we returned there would have to be a sort of doubling up. Parents, as well as teachers, complained about the disturbance.

The hon. Member for Kilmarnock (Mr. Ross), who is a school teacher, will agree that there is not only disturbance of the education of the children who are absent from school and the teacher, but of the scholars left at school. I appreciate the difficulties over the potato harvest in Scotland which would have to be faced if the practice of granting exemptions were suddenly stopped: but so long as there is confidence that exemption is to be permitted year after year, nothing will be done to harvest potatoes by any other means.

Reference has been made to my having said that I saw a potato harvesting machine in the Soviet Union. Perhaps it is my fault if hon. Members are under the impression that I saw this machine digging potatoes. I am sorry if I gave that impression. I saw it at an exhibition in Moscow. I saw it demonstrated, but not in practical use. It seemed to me a very strong machine and certainly competent to do the job. I have been told that our difficulty is the number of stones, but there are stones, surely, in the Soviet Union. If there are a lot of stones in the field which the farmer intends to plant with potatoes, why not first go over it with the potato harvester and pick up the stones? Afterwards, the potatoes could be planted and later picked with no trouble. When cultivating a garden, we first rake out the stones.

12 midnight.

Photo of Captain James Duncan Captain James Duncan , South Angus

Did the hon. Member bring home a leaflet explaining this Russian harvester? Has he any information about it? I am interested in this harvester.

Photo of Sir Rhys Morris Sir Rhys Morris , Carmarthen

I think we had better keep to the Schedule.

Photo of Mr Cyril Bence Mr Cyril Bence , Dunbartonshire East

I am sorry, but I have no leaflet on the harvester. I have asked the Foreign Secretary to make the necessary inquiries in Russia. No doubt the British Ambassador could go to the exhibition and get all the information he wants about the machine.

Will the Under-Secretary tell us that within a reasonably short time we shall put an end to the employment of children for this purpose? Necessity is the mother of invention, and if the agricultural technicians and the farmers were told that within a stated number of years we should put an end to this practice, I am sure that the inventors of this country would provide a machine which would do the job.

I do not doubt that in 1946 there was some justification for the introduction of this Act. There were difficulties and a case could be made for it. But surely that justification will not be offered every year. Surely we shall not suggest that, in the twentieth century, we must continue to use children for this work because there is no other way of doing it. No doubt, in the nineteenth century, when they tried to stop the practice of pushing boy chimney sweeps up the chimney, people claimed that there was no other way of sweeping the chimney; they had not thought of using a brush. The same may be true of the potato harvest.

I think we are on the way to solving the problem and I hope we shall be told that the employment of children for this purpose during school time, which disturbs the teachers and both the children who go to this work and those who remain in the classes, will be brought to an end.

Photo of Sir James Henderson-Stewart Sir James Henderson-Stewart , Fife East

I do not dispute the suggestion that if we take a number of children away from any class in September for a fortnight or three weeks it disturbs the education of the class. Nor do I contest the statement that many people and many local authorities in Scotland do not like taking children away from school, even for this short period. I understand that and I accept the point. But the problem for this Government is precisely the problem which confronted our predecessors. What are we to do? If there are no children available, we shall not be able to lift the potato crop.

Photo of Alice Cullen Alice Cullen , Glasgow Gorbals

Re-form the Women's Land Army.

Photo of Mr Michael Maitland Stewart Mr Michael Maitland Stewart , Fulham East

The conclusion which any Government would reach is that until we can find a mechanical alternative we cannot do without the children.

Photo of Mr Michael Maitland Stewart Mr Michael Maitland Stewart , Fulham East

The hon. Member has already taken up a great deal of time.

Photo of Mr Archibald Manuel Mr Archibald Manuel , Central Ayrshire

That is quite an unfair criticism. The hon. Gentleman says that he is convinced, or the Scottish Office are convinced, that the only alternative is a mechanical contrivance that will do this job. Has a labour alternative been considered instead of using children, as against the mechanical?

Photo of Mr Michael Maitland Stewart Mr Michael Maitland Stewart , Fulham East

I was about to deal with that in due course.

I was saying that there is no practical way of coping with this large problem at present, other than by the production of a piece of mechanism. The hon. Member for Bridgeton (Mr. Carmichael) asked if there were not two other ways, and whether we could not make use of some other kind of labour. He raised this point with me two years ago and, as he knows, I went into it then very carefully. Last year I met the Glasgow education authority, with my hon. Friend the Joint Under-Secretary, the hon. Member for Kinross and West Perthshire (Mr. Snadden), and the head of the Ministry of Labour in Scotland; and we looked at this very problem.

The Glasgow representatives said, "But are there not unemployed persons—adults who could do this work?" And the head of the Ministry of Labour in Scotland took out all his tables and figures and proved, even to those from Glagow, that there are not the bodies available to do this job. Last year 31,390 children were granted exemption. We do not yet have the figure for this year, but it is something of that order. With the exception of 1949, the exemption figures have fallen steadily: in 1948, 40,000; 1949, 43,000, and then a fall to 37,000, 36,000, 32,000 and 31,000. Therefore, I do not think the Committee should be over-anxious about that.

There is a steady fall, and hon. Members will say, "We hope it continues." Personally, I shall not object. The fall is partly due to the fact that there has been a fall in the potato crop. It has fallen now to a point that is, in our view, the lowest that we can let it go to. This year it had fallen to 167,000 acres. My right hon. Friend does not feel that it would be right to allow our potato output to fall below an output production of that amount. So we are faced in the years to come with the same amount of potatoes to lift and the same extreme difficulty in getting adult labour. I could give the figures for adult labour employed this year.

Hon. Members accuse us, and myself, of complacency. I do not object, but I would ask the Committee to believe sincerely that we take the most extreme care and exercise every possible effort to get labour other than the labour of children. We scour everywhere, but it is not possible with all our efforts to do without that very large number of children.

Photo of Mr George Thomson Mr George Thomson , Dundee East

Has the hon. Gentleman studied the farmers who use only adult labour, and inquired whether other farmers could not be persuaded to copy their example?

Photo of Mr Michael Maitland Stewart Mr Michael Maitland Stewart , Fulham East

Yes. Some farmers live in areas where there is adult labour available. We have used adult labour this year. The seasonal labour force produced 600 man-weeks, and volunteers 450 man-weeks. Help was also given by Forestry Commission workers and employees of county councils, and there was some help from the Armed Forces. There are, of course, some farms which do not use any children.

Photo of Mr John Timmons Mr John Timmons , Bothwell

There is also a grain crop in Scotland, which is harvested by adult labour. Surely it should be possible to use some of that labour to assist in the potato harvest.

Photo of Mr Michael Maitland Stewart Mr Michael Maitland Stewart , Fulham East

We thought of that, too, but the grain harvest is always a good many weeks earlier than the potato harvest. In Scotland, it sometimes starts in the middle of August, which is in the holiday period and we have no difficulty in getting volunteers. We do not get these people in the colder and wetter weather of September and October, and sometimes November. On Monday of this week, 20 per cent. of the potato crop in Scotland had still to be lifted. It is a very serious matter for the food of our people.

The other alternative is a machine. Hon. Members have quite properly asked me how we were getting on with this alternative. The hon. Member for Hamilton (Mr. T. Fraser) said, as he was entitled to, that it was time that an all-purpose machine was produced. I was for some years closely associated with a private company which tried to produce a universal harvester for the Highland potato crop, but our scheme did not come off. The Government have research stations in Scotland and in England devoting much time to this matter. The last official test made was disappointing. It concerned a machine which separated stones from potatoes by passing them through water. The potatoes floated and the stones fell. That seemed the answer, until it was discovered that the potatoes that had been soaked did not keep. The experts, therefore, turned down that scheme.

Photo of Sir Rhys Morris Sir Rhys Morris , Carmarthen

The Question before the Committee is, "That this Schedule be the Schedule to the Bill." Hon. Members ought not to go into details upon specific points.

Photo of Mr Michael Maitland Stewart Mr Michael Maitland Stewart , Fulham East

In spite of all the criticisms, we cannot do without the exemption of children this year, or, as far as we can see, next year, or for quite a little time to come. I can give the Committee an assurance that we shall continue to do everything to advance the prospects of alternatives so that the number of exempted children need not continue to be high.

Now I turn to the point made by the hon. Lady the Member for Coatbridge and Airdrie (Mrs. Mann) about the Tenancy of Shops Act. We have no intention of dropping this Act, which has gone on from year to year. It may be that next year we shall have to ask the Committee to continue it for another year. It is a very valuable Measure for small and large shops. It has been a great success. If it is necessary to do so, we shall certainly consider whether it should be continued next year. My own view is that, on the figures we have, we may possibly have to take it further.

12.15 a.m.

Photo of Mr Archibald Manuel Mr Archibald Manuel , Central Ayrshire

My hon. Friend the Member for Coatbridge and Airdrie (Mrs. Mann) made the point that a certain value had been lost because shopkeepers were having only one year's protection. Should not this period be made longer—say, two years?

Photo of Sir Rhys Morris Sir Rhys Morris , Carmarthen

I note that the hon. Member supports that view.

Photo of Mr Hector Hughes Mr Hector Hughes , Aberdeen North

It is a very strange procedure on the part of the Joint Under-Secretary to reply before the debate is concluded. I doubt whether he will have another opportunity of replying to the one point which I wish to make.

This Bill relates to five earlier statutes, and it is remarkable that it proposes to extend their duration to two dates which are dates probably just before the next General Election. It is noteworthy that the two dates to which they are proposed to be extended are 31st December, 1955, and 31st March, 1956.

Photo of Sir Rhys Morris Sir Rhys Morris , Carmarthen

I think the hon. and learned Gentleman is now referring to Clause 1. We are discussing the Question, "That this Schedule be the Schedule to the Bill."

Photo of Mr Hector Hughes Mr Hector Hughes , Aberdeen North

I am dealing with the 11 statutes set out in the Schedule, Sir Rhys. I am discussing the Schedule, and pointing out that these 11 statutes are to be extended, by this Bill, to two dates falling just before the time when a General Election is likely to take place. There are eight statutes in Part I and three in Part II—those are the 11 statutes to which I am referring.

With respect, I think that my point is a perfectly valid criticism of the conduct of the Government in choosing those dates for the prolongation of these statutes. The statutes are either good or bad. If they are good, why should not their prolongation be made permanent? If they are bad, why should they be prolonged at all. In my submission the Government's conduct in selecting those dates is open to criticism.

Photo of Sir Rhys Morris Sir Rhys Morris , Carmarthen

The dates are not now in issue. They are in Clause 1, as I have already pointed out.

Photo of Mr Hector Hughes Mr Hector Hughes , Aberdeen North

Surely, Sir Rhys, one cannot consider the Schedule without the Clauses which relate to them.

Photo of Sir Rhys Morris Sir Rhys Morris , Carmarthen

But the Clauses have already been passed, and we are now discussing the Schedule.

Photo of Mr Hector Hughes Mr Hector Hughes , Aberdeen North

Well, I have made the point, so I shall pass from it.

To illustrate my argument, I shall take one statute which has just been referred to by the Joint Under-Secretary of State for Scotland; and a propos your Ruling, Sir Rhys, may I say that that Minister has said that it is the intention of the Government to put these 11 statutes into a similar Bill this time next year? If that is the attitude of the Government, why, if the statutes are good, should they not be made permanent now? The statute on which I wish to concentrate was referred to by the Joint Under-Secretary. It is the Tenancy of Shops (Scotland) Act, 1949. That was passed by a Labour Government to provide for the renewal of tenancy of shops and thereby protect tenants from eviction.

I see, Sir Rhys, that you are restive, if I may put it respectfully, but in my submission I am entitled to present an argument on the goodness or badness of the particular statute which it is sought to prolong, otherwise the Committee would be acting blindly and would have no reason——

Photo of Sir Rhys Morris Sir Rhys Morris , Carmarthen

The Question before the Committee is, "That this Schedule be the Schedule to the Bill." The hon. and learned Gentleman may think it a bad Schedule because it contains one statute or another, but he cannot go on to details.

Photo of Mr Hector Hughes Mr Hector Hughes , Aberdeen North

With respect, I can say that the Schedule is either good or bad because it contains for prolongation either a good statute or a bad one. You allowed the Joint Under-Secretary to make that comment about the intention of the Government this time next year, Sir Rhys. All I am saying is that the right hon. Gentleman the Joint Under-Secretary said the very reverse when this Bill with which I am now dealing was before the House on a former occasion. He then said I can only express the hope that this will be a temporary Measure … Now the Minister, his colleague, has expressed the hope that this time next year it will be included in a Bill similar to this. The right hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for Pollok (Commander Galbraith) said on that occasion We on this side of the House regret the circumstances which have made this Bill necessary that is, the Tenancy of Shops (Scotland) Act, 1949— and I deplore the intervention of the State into new fields, unless the necessity for that intervention has been abundantly proved."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 22nd February, 1949; Vol 461, c. 1747.]

Photo of Sir Rhys Morris Sir Rhys Morris , Carmarthen

I assume that the right hon. and gallant Gentleman said that in the discussion of that Measure, when it would have been in order. It is not in order now.

Photo of Mr Hector Hughes Mr Hector Hughes , Aberdeen North

I do not wish to contest your Ruling in the slightest degree, Sir Rhys, but the point that I am making, in my submission, is valid, namely, that the Government are open to criticism for the time that they have selected to prolong these statutes in the Schedule. The statutes in the Schedule are either good or bad, and my submission is that if they are good they should be prolonged permanently and if they are bad they should not be prolonged at all.

Photo of Mr Thomas Fraser Mr Thomas Fraser , Hamilton

I think that hon. Members who have contributed to the debate are entitled to a reply. Perhaps I may ask a question on another statute in the Schedule. I had hoped to have the other matters cleared out of the way before I raised this question, and I do hope that something will be said about the Tenancy of Shops (Scotland) Act and other matters which have been under discussion.

We have in the Schedule the Local Government (Scotland) Act, 1951, Section 4, which is sought to be continued for a further year. For my part, I should like to ask the Joint Under-Secretary if we may be told why it is desirable to continue Section 4 of that Act. This Section has never been discussed in the House of Commons proper. It was contained in a Bill introduced late in 1950. It was a five-Clause Bill, and was referred to by my hon. Friend the Member for Lanarkshire, North (Miss Herbison), who was then one of the Under Secretaries of State for Scotland. She said in justifying Clause 4 of that Bill—and I wonder whether the Government will give similar justification for continuing it now— Clause 4 is where we are enacting in statutory form, for a period of three years, the provision for the approval by the Control Department of local authority borrowing, which in Scotland at the present time is contained in the Defence (Local Government) (Scotland) Regulations. In present circumstances the need to make the best use of our capital resources and to prevent inflation makes it inevitable that this provision should be retained, and we feel that it is much preferable that, if the provision has to be retained, it ought to be in statutory form."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, Scottish Standing Committee, 18th November, 1950; c. 1758.] That is all that has been said in our discussions about Section 4.

The House accepted as justification for it that the Government had to have control of the expenditure of her capital resources, and should thereby be able to take action to prevent inflation. In the last three years the Government have given up all control over capital resources by all authorities in this country with the exception of the local authorities. Only this week the rest of building controls were removed. If they think that the position has so improved that anyone can use capital resources in any way they think fit—so long as they do not conflict with planning authorities—in erecting cinemas, hotels and other buildings, why should local authorities continue to be restricted in their expenditure of capital resources? Why should they not be allowed to borrow money as they think fit and provide services for the people they serve? The Government cannot plead as the only justification for this the one that has hitherto been offered.

I wonder whether the enactment is to be continued for another year for another reason than that given by my hon. Friend when it was originally enacted. If so, I should like to hear it. It is regrettable that the great local authorities should be picked out as the one institution, or person if one likes, which will not be given freedom to spend their money as they think fit, and that authorities like Lanark Town Council, Lanarkshire County Council and Glasgow Corporation should have to go to the Secretary of State and ask his permission to borrow money to carry out their projects in the interests of their people.

The Joint Under-Secretary of State for Scotland (Commander T. D. Galbraith):

The hon. Gentleman the Member for Hamilton (Mr. T. Fraser) has raised a new point not mentioned in the debate so far. Surely, if he had listened to my hon. Friend the Minister of Works explaining the reasons why building licences should go he would understand the position. It is that labour and materials are available, and there has been no general restriction, although there have been certain limitations, on the issue of licences for some considerable time. I think there is no danger of resources for building being insufficient to meet anything in future.

Of course, there is the question of the money involved; because it is not all local government money. Government money is also concerned. Local authorities are responsible for a very large part of the investment in building, and the Government do not feel that the time has come when they can give up control over the expenditure of local authorities in that connection. That is why Section 4 is being continued.

12.30 a.m.

Photo of Mr Thomas Fraser Mr Thomas Fraser , Hamilton

Does the right hon. and gallant Gentleman not agree that where Government money is involved there is no difficulty at all; the local authority must go to the Secretary of State? It is where no Government money is involved and the scheme is not grant-aided that it is wrong that local authorities should still have to go to the Secretary of State to get approval for borrowing money.

Photo of Sir Rhys Morris Sir Rhys Morris , Carmarthen

We cannot go into that matter in detail.

Photo of Mr Thomas Fraser Mr Thomas Fraser , Hamilton

That is the whole point that arises from the continuing of this provision for another year.

Commander Galbraith:

I have answered the hon. Gentleman to the utmost extent possible under the rules of order.

I now want to deal with two or three points raised by the hon. Member for Dundee, East (Mr. G. M. Thomson). I understood from his remarks with regard to the Rent of Furnished Houses Control (Scotland) Act, 1943, that he felt that it should become permanent legislation, and, therefore, there was no question of doing away with it at present. That is a policy of complete defeatism. The Government believe that if they continue to carry out their policy and continue with their housing programme the housing situation in Scotland will be very much improved. As a result, there will not be the difficulties in connection with the letting of furnished apartments which now exist.

I should have thought that his suggestion that landlords were getting round the Rent Restrictions Acts by putting a few sticks of furniture into a house was a justification for the continuation of this Act for the moment, and it seems obvious that it works very well from the illustration he gave, where a rent of 35s. a week had been reduced to, I think, 12s. 6d. a week. In these circumstances it must be obvious that this Act should be retained for a further temporary period; but it would be a defeatist attitude to make it permanent.

Photo of Mr James Hudson Mr James Hudson , Ealing North

On a point of order. During the time that your predecessor was in the Chair, Sir Rhys, I pointed out that the matter I then raised should be ruled upon as ultra vires. I said that Part II of the Licensing Act, 1953, is actually dead, and has been dead for seven months. Unless a reply can be given, I submit that you are bound to rule upon that question.

Photo of Sir Rhys Morris Sir Rhys Morris , Carmarthen

It is not my function to rule upon an issue of that sort.

Photo of Sir Hugh Munro-Lucas-Tooth Sir Hugh Munro-Lucas-Tooth , Hendon South

Perhaps I can answer the hon. Gentleman.

Part II of the Licensing Act, 1953, was renewed by the Expiring Laws Continuance Act, 1953, which was passed later in the same year, so as to extend it until 31st March, 1955. If the hon. Member looks at that statute he will see how it is that the Act is still alive. The Act itself is merely a consolidated form of the earlier Licensing Planning (Temporary Provisions) Act, 1945. That Act was renewed by the last Government and has since been renewed by this one. The reason for its renewal is that it was contemplated in 1945 that the work involved should be finished by 1950 or 1951, when the Act expired. It was not, in fact, possible to complete that work, and there is still a good deal to be done. All those who are concerned agree that the Act has worked well.

I am sorry that the hon. Member for Ealing, North (Mr. J. Hudson) does not think so, but I can tell him that from inquiries which I have made, I have found that everybody who has had anything to do with the working of the Act thinks that it would be wrong to let it expire now and thereby jettison the advantages which it provides before the work is completed; so, we propose to continue it for another year.

Photo of Mr James Hudson Mr James Hudson , Ealing North

I have given the hon. Gentleman's Department notice by the request for information that I should like to know what precisely is still to be done. Could he say what is the total percentage of tasks still remaining?

Photo of Sir Charles MacAndrew Sir Charles MacAndrew , Bute and North Ayrshire

I do not think that that arises here.

Photo of Sir Hugh Munro-Lucas-Tooth Sir Hugh Munro-Lucas-Tooth , Hendon South

I do not think that I could give an answer, in any event, to the hon. Gentleman's question, Sir Charles. It would mean going into the matter in considerable detail.

Photo of Mr James Hudson Mr James Hudson , Ealing North

But is it not the case that, if it can be shown that there is no ground for further work being done, or that nearly all the work has been done, there is then a fair reason for not continuing that Act? Is that not what is usually done? Is not such an Act allowed to expire, and the Government then falls back on some other general legislation which would deal with the case?

Photo of Sir Charles MacAndrew Sir Charles MacAndrew , Bute and North Ayrshire

If the hon. Gentleman had put down an Amendment to leave out that Act from the Bill, it would have been one thing; but the Question before the Committee now is, "That this Schedule be the Schedule to the Bill."

Photo of Mr James Hudson Mr James Hudson , Ealing North

I have a manuscript Amendment here which does precisely that; but I fell in with the suggestion that I should raise this matter in general discussion on the Question "That this Schedule be the Schedule to the Bill." The general gravamen of my case is that the job is nearly done, and surely that argument still stands.

I submit that that is a reason, and I hope that you, Sir Charles, will not rule me out of order. I do not want the Under-Secretary of State to give a long account, but to give me a general estimate of the total percentage of work still to be done.

Photo of Sir Hugh Munro-Lucas-Tooth Sir Hugh Munro-Lucas-Tooth , Hendon South

Even if I am in order on this matter, I could not give the necessary answer, as I have already explained.

Photo of Mr James Hudson Mr James Hudson , Ealing North

I understand, Sir Charles, that you have not ruled me out of order. I have put the matter, I think, very fairly, and I am not pressing for long tables of figures; but could not the Under-Secretary say something in general? That is all I ask.

Photo of Sir Charles MacAndrew Sir Charles MacAndrew , Bute and North Ayrshire

I am not ruling the hon. Member out of order, but I understood the Under-Secretary to say that he could not give an answer.

Preamble agreed to.

Bill reported, without Amendment; read the Third time, and passed.