I must ask permission of the House to speak again on this Question. The Motion was moved by me some weeks ago. It was felt by the Government that, owing to the interest displayed by a number of Members—who I see are not present to-day—it would be a good thing to give them some time to consider this matter.
Yes, but none of those hon. Members who spoke on the matter. I am not going to repeat what I said on the former occasion, but there are one or two points which were raised by hon. Members with which I might be allowed to deal. I made it. clear then that the only reason for putting down this Motion was that certain hon. Members had raised the question of whether the action of the police, which has been continuing since the autumn of 1940, was in accordance with the constitutional rights of Members of Parliament. It was thought desirable, therefore, to have the matter regularised. The Government were asked whether they would put down such a Motion in order to regularise the matter. The object of the Motion is to enable police officers on duty in the Palace of Westminster, at such times as they are so instructed by the Serjeant at Arms, to require Members to produce what are generally known as the blue passes, which have been issued to them, and which have been in use since 1940. These passes are purely convenient methods of identifying Members, and nothing more. It is not only a question of Members entering this House; sometimes Members may require to go into the precincts of the other Chamber. The police there on duty are not accustomed to seeing all the Members of this House, and, without some means of identification, it is impossible for them to know whether hon. Members are authorised to pass or not.
In ordinary circumstances, the police officers on duty at this House, with the very skilled memories they have, are acquainted with all, or practically all, Members. These officers have been retained in their service here in order to facilitate the passage of Members about the House. But if Members are to have the advantage of rapid identification, instead of perhaps having to have someone to identify them, or having to produce some other paper, they should have some pass of this kind. The object of having an occasional—and very occasional—check on passes is merely to remind Members that it is advisable for them to carry these passes. It is only because it was questioned whether, strictly constitutionally, a Member could be so challenged by the police that it was thought better to put down a Motion which would give the Serjeant at Arms and the police the authority, on behalf of Members, to make this occasional investigation. It is, of course, only a temporary matter which is intended to operate during the present circumstances and not to be a permanent institution of the House. I think the hon. Member for Sedgefield (Mr. Leslie) raised the question of the possible inconvenience to Members, if it was a wet day—as apparently it was on the last occasion when this was done—in being stopped and having to put down their umbrellas and take off their coats and search in their pockets in the rain. There are now, as a matter of fact, shelters erected at the entrances, but in any case, even if there were not, of course in such circumstances it would be quite easy to arrange for it to be done just inside the entrance and not just outside. Therefore, there is nothing that need worry hon. Members about that.
Perhaps I might say a word about another matter that has been mentioned in association with this matter. An hon. Member asked me on a former occasion whether something could not be done about the re-opening of the subway to the Westminster underground station. That does not have very much reference to this particular matter, but as it was then raised, I might perhaps deal with it. I have asked the Chairman of the Fire Committee, which is now charged by Order in Council with the defence and safety of the Palace of Westminster and of these Chambers, to look into the question whether it would be possible, with that degree of safety and security that is necessary both as regards air-raid precautions and defence, to make some alteration as regards the re-opening of the subway, and he has promised to do his best to meet the convenience of hon. Members in this respect. As the House knows, the Chairman of the Fire Committee is the Deputy-Chairman of Committees of this House. I am quite certain that he and his Committee will do everything that is possible to assist hon. Members in that way.
There are on the Order Paper one or two Amendments to this Motion, all of which rather tend to give the impression that those whose names are put to them desire to wipe out the utility of these passes. It is suggested, for instance, that there should be inserted the words "not recognised by such officers" after the words "to require Members." The object of checking the passes is to see that the Member has a pass if the policeman does not recognise him. If it were done only in the case of particular Members whom the police did not recognise, the whole object of checking would disappear. Secondly, it is desired to add at the end of the Motion the words "or otherwise to give satisfactory evidence of their identity." Of course, it would be quite satisfactory evidence of identity to a number of policemen to say "I am I," because the policeman would know the Member; but it would not enable the Member to be reminded of the fact that it is convenient for him, and for everyone, if he carries his pass with him in case he should require it. Therefore, I think none of those Amendments is necessary and that they would rather defeat the object which the House has in view, which is to provide a satisfactory means for this occasional check and to make quite clear that it is not any infringement of the constitutional rights of Members to come to the House, but that they are of their own free will, for their own convenience, making this arrangement by which they can periodically be reminded of the fact that they will pass more easily about the House, into the House and towards the other Chamber, if they wish to go there, if they have their passes with them.
I beg to move, in line 2, to leave out "in," and to insert
at the entrances of.
This is the only Amendment to which the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Leader of the House did not refer. This Amendment has been moved to regularise the existing practice, which is that occasionally Members shall show their passes at the entrance to the House, but not in any other part of the building. I am sure it cannot be the wish of the Government that an hon. Member quietly walking along the corridors or in the Lobby should be suddenly pounced upon by a police officer and asked to produce his pass. It might have unfortunate consequences.
Take the case of those hon. Members who sit immediately behind the Treasury Bench and who add such dignity to our proceedings, who pass ordinary Members like me in the corridor with an air of disdain, their brows furrowed with the cares of Empire, and their pockets bulging with important State documents, which are sometimes, unfortunately, left behind in taxicabs. Suppose that one of those hon. Members is taking one of his constituents round the House, comporting himself with that air of dignity and importance which we would expect from such a pillar of the State. Suppose that a policeman suddenly comes up to him and asks for his pass. The lecture is interrupted and the great words are frozen on the hon. Member's lips, while he searches in his pockets, from which many things may emerge of a personal and intimate character, but not the pass. He has left that with a secret treaty somewhere in a public conveyance. Consider how humiliated this great man would be in such circumstances. In a moment he would fall from the dignity of near office to the humiliating position of being a mere intruder. He might even be asked by the policeman to leave the building, and his constituent with him. In his own constituency such an incident might have an adverse effect upon his position and also upon the position of the Government of which he forms so important a part. I feel certain that the Government, although strengthened, no doubt, by the rejection of the Motion of Censure last week, might in those circumstances sustain a check to their dignity which it is not advisable they should sustain in time of war. Therefore, I hope the Leader of the House, on second thoughts, in order to avert a calamity of that kind, will hastily accept this Amendment.
As one of those unfortunate people referred to by the hon. Member for Broxtowe (Mr. Cocks), I think there has been a tremendous amount of fuss made about this Motion, which is a pretty obvious one. Every morning when I enter the Treasury at a quarter past nine, the guard turn out, salute me and say, "Good morning, Sir Edward; may we see your pass?" Invariably they see it. I think far too much fuss has been made about what is a very natural thing in time of war for the safety of the country. I remember that in the last war a brother of mine was harbour-master at a certain place, and every morning he had to sign a slip giving the pass word for the day. On one occasion he went out and forgot what it was, and when he came back he was ordered, "Halt, and give the password." An Irishman was on guard. My brother said, "I have clean forgotten what it is. Do you know who I am?—Commander Campbell." The guard said, "Sure and bedad, I know who you are, but you won't pass on until you give the password 'Tiger.'" The man was doing his duty, and I know that the police both inside and outside this House will do their duty.
I think the House ought not to treat this just as a joking matter, in spite of the witty and delightful speech of the mover of the Amendment. The fact that the Government have given us so much time to consider this Motion shows that they realise it is a serious matter. It is almost unprecedented in our Parliamentary history, and for that very reason we must give it careful consideration. Looking back over the years, there is one instance which stands out in memory, which should make us hesitate in putting difficulties in the way of Members' access to the House of Commons. That is not the intention of the Government in moving this Motion, but a similar Motion may be made use of in very different times, and we have to look ahead and consider the danger of precedents. If we look in the Journals of the House we shall find a remarkable entry for 6th December, 1648, which
refers to the stopping of Members trying to enter the House of Commons. On that day, the record tells us:
The House, being informed, that divers Members coming to attend the House, were staid, and carried to the Queen's Court or Court of Wards Commanded the Serjeant to go to them to require them to attend he House. Mr. Serjeant brings answer that he signified to Members in the Queen's Court, viz., that it was the pleasure of the House that they should forthwith come to attend the House. The Members seemed willing to consent, but an officer then gave him this answer: That he could not suffer them to come till he had received his orders, which he had sent for.
The sequel is part of our English history. The House of Commons tried repeatedly to get those Members access again to the Chamber, but they were put off. A number of these Members never met again until after the close of the Protectorate. We do not want to see this Motion made a precedent for the future. Some day—we hope it may never come—some dictator might make very convenient use of it to exclude from the House Members who did not receive the kind of pass he issued to his own supporters. For that reason we have to look very carefully at the wording of this Motion. We were very glad the Lord Privy Seal made it clear that it is purely an emergency provision for the war, but I wish the Motion had expressed that in so many words. I think it would have given far more satisfaction if that had been the case. I hope the Government will consider this and other Amendments, in spite of the remarks which the Lord Privy Seal has made. From the point of view of the ordinary Member, such an Amendment would greatly improve the Motion, and I hope the Government will still see their way to accept it.
I think the resentment which is being shown by some hon. Members to this Motion is largely due to the conditions under which it was inaugurated. It was rather unfortunate. I remember in approaching the gates of the House with another hon. Member, who is rather more bulky than myself, we were challenged to show our passes. Needless to say we were surprised, and members of the general public outside were also somewhat surprised. It occurred to me that that procedure was in no way calculated to allay the apprehensive feelings prevailing at that time among the general public. They were of course not properly entitled to draw deductions that anything unexpected was. occurring, or that anything of an alarming character was occurring, but none the less it did become a matter of concern among the general public. It was also unfortunate in the sense that the Member with whom I happened to be entering the gates although he had his pass was, owing to the rain, wearing extra garments and had a large number of pockets to go through before he produced it. He had to remain there in the rain, and I asked myself what reason there was for detaining Members at the gates of the House, when they might have been permitted to go into the courtyard under cover.
I think the procedure adopted at that time was largely responsible for the feeling of resentment among Members. Since then, there has been time to consider the matter, and to weigh up the reasons why this procedure should be adopted. In the main, I think, there is general agreement that in existing circumstances it is as well for Members to carry their passes, but we should not be challenged outside the gates. Members should be given the opportunity to enter the courtyard and should be challenged for their passes in the immediate precincts of the House. If that procedure were adopted, I am sure the Motion would go through unchallenged.
It seems to me a curious coincidence that the first time this matter was raised by the Leader of the House I had just been to see the clerk who issues these passes. When I told him I wanted one, he asked me my name, which I gave, and he then handed me a pass. I was also given a military identity card, having secured a very flattering photograph of myself. On neither occasion was I identified. I am sure no one will think I am making any reflection on the officer of this House who issues these two passes, but it seems to me to be quite easy for any person—a member of the public or of this House—to go into that particular office and secure a pass which might enable him to come into the building. Will the Lord Privy Seal give an assurance that these passes are not a complete farce, and that there is some kind of check from time to time on those to whom they are issued?
From the practical point of view, taking the near view, I do not think the question of whether we have passes or not or whether we have to show them or not, really matters. Certainly my view would not be influenced by whether we had to show them outside in the rain or in the building. I am very glad however that this Debate is taking place, and that the Government has been challenged. The hon. Member for the Combined English Universities (Mr. Harvey) recalled what took place to Members in 1648. There is a dignity which enshrines Parliamentary procedure, and curious rights which are unchallenged must not be interfered with. They have grown up during centuries, and our rights and privileges are not likely to be seriously challenged by any dictator in the future. If they are challenged by a dictator, I do not think they will protect us very much. But I feel that the ritual of Parliament, enshrining so much English history as it does, is something well worth protecting and well worth the short time we have spent on this Debate.
I cannot for the life of me understand the bombastic pedantry which has led to this Motion being put upon the Paper. I know the origin of it. It started with officers demanding to see passes which were issued to Members during critical days. I did not sympathise with it at the time. It was quite nonsensical, because large numbers of people coming to the House were not members at all. If I wanted to be a fifth columnist I could plant 20 or 30 undesirable persons in the House without the slightest difficulty. If I wanted to do anything physically damaging in this place I know of no protection which has been devised which would prevent me from doing so. A large number of people come here every day and, therefore, if the purpose of the passes is to prevent unauthorised and undesirable people from approaching the precincts, our protection is wholly inadequate.
When a Member is elected, as far as I know he receives no summons at all. A General Election takes place and Parliament meets and he wanders up here. No one can stand in his way, because if anyone had the right to stand in his way something would have gone wrong with the Constitution. If a policeman can stand outside the House of Commons and say, "Where is your pass?" whom does he represent? Mr. Speaker? What is the practical purpose of the Motion? Is it to stop undesirable people getting into the House of Commons in time of war who would do mischief? In that case, all the arrangements ought to be revised. On the other hand, is it to make quite certain that a person who represents himself as a Member of Parliament is really a Member of Parliament? That is a difficulty which has existed for centuries. You cannot plead the war as an excuse, because there has always been a difficulty. Individuals have not to prove their title to come to the House, and such a title never has been proved by a document issued by anyone.
The fact is that in time of peace a Member of Parliament has not to prove his title to come here to any officer of the Crown. Therefore, if we are trying to deal with that difficulty, it is one that has always been in existence. If we are trying to deal with the difficulty of people coming here who ought not to be here, there are many other arrangements that would have to be made. I, therefore, want to know why, except for obstinacy, we are proceeding with the Motion at all. We ought to have a practical case for it. There is a case, of course. People ought not to wander in here anyhow. But this is an institution to which a large number of people have access. Six visitors came to see me today. They went into the office and got passes. They have not to show their birth certificates or anything of that sort. They said, "We want to see the Member for Ebbw Vale," and they came in. If they had been evilly disposed persons they would still have come in. The right hon. Gentleman is suggesting a form of procedure by which evilly disposed persons can be prevented from masquerading as Members of Parliament, because anyone can come in here. Therefore I do not understand why the Motion is introduced, except that the Government wishes to continue a practice which has no justification whatever. I seriously suggest that we ought not to pursue the matter any further.
I do not appreciate the apprehensions of the hon. Member. Strangers come into the Palace of Westminster with permanent or temporary passes issued by authorities concerned, and they have to produce them to show that they have a right to be here. The hon. Member's constituents who visited him had to obtain temporary passes and they were only allowed to visit a certain part of the building, the outer Lobby. If they had attempted to go beyond that they would have been prevented by the police.
Having obtained a pass, he can only go to the outer Lobby, where he is under the constant supervision of police officers in uniform and in civilian clothes. An efficient watch is kept on strangers frequenting the outer Lobby.
I think I ought to say that anyone can enter the House at night. I make no reflection on the police, but anyone who watches the system of control in the evening will see that anyone could walk in.
There is a large number of Members who, through the exigencies of war, are serving with the Forces, and who turn up only at infrequent intervals, sometimes in uniform and sometimes in civilian clothes. It might well be, as time passes, that the permanent police force, to whom all Members are known, would be transferred to other duties. Surely it is not unreasonable to ask that a Member of Parliament should have some proof of his identity, if he is not known to a policeman who has not been on duty here very long. Otherwise a person could represent himself as a Member of Parliament, or as a Peer, get access to the building and deposit a destructive instrument which would not be discovered till long afterwards.
If that is the case and if any person can, with a temporary pass, enter the outer Lobby, my hon. Friend's Amendment is relevant, because all Members of Parliament will have to have their passes examined in the House itself. Therefore, in order to satisfy my hon. and gallant Friend's suggestion we are to be pestered all day by officers asking us to show our passes.
A number of things could happen, but in fact they never do. I cannot see my hon. Friend's point. I think that the public at large might get the impression that we are singularly faddy about this matter, because there are authorities all over the country who think it vital for the national security to have a system of passes. If the public get the idea that Members of Parliament are so conscious of their dignity that they are not prepared to show passes to a police officer when they are asked to do so in the interests of national security, we are not serving a useful purpose or extending the prestige of Parliament of which we are so proud.
We are all speaking for ourselves as individuals in this matter and no question of party discipline or anything of that kind is involved. My reaction to this discussion is a simple one. I think that the points made by the hon. Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. Bevan) will be met to a considerable extent by the House agreeing to the pass system as an accepted thing. At the moment there is a pass system in operation that has not yet had the authority of the House, and if we give that authority, we regularise the position and put it on a proper basis.
We should keep in mind the difficulty, which does not seem to be very great in practice, of those who serve us in this House. I am sure that on many occasions there must be doubt in the minds of those who are entrusted with security and looking after things generally in the Palace of Westminster, when they see a Member with whom they are not very familiar. That difficulty has been accentuated in recent times by the large number of by-elections and of new Members who have come into the House. I believe that the membership has changed by about 50 per cent. since the General Election of 1935. The difficulty that lies upon the officials, police and others in the House after a General Election when there is a large number of new Members must be very great. We all recognise the ability which they show in so quickly recognising Members and being able even to name them.
We have many privileges in this House but I think the hon. Member for Ebbw Vale is one who rather prides himself upon not seeking to have privileges as a Member of Parliament that cannot be shared by his constituents. Our constituents, especially those engaged on war work, are called upon when passing into premises where they work and where they are well-known to produce evidence of their identity by showing cards. We are being asked to put ourselves in the same position. Who will say that in entering this place we are not entering a place where we are doing war work? I look upon the Palace of Westminster as a workshop where I do much of the work I have to do as a Member of Parliament, and the pass with which I have to prove my identity when challenged is the same, in substance, as that which is produced by a workman at his place of work during the war. I am glad to have the assurance put on record that this is purely a war emergency expedient, but I would like that to be stated in the Motion. I think that we shall be adding to the security of our own position as Members of Parliament in this building and simplifying and easing the position of those who so well attend to all our requirements by placing upon ourselves the duty of carrying proof of our identity, apart from our own looks, and being ready to show it when challenged.
I am afraid I am at a disadvantage compared with the hon. Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. Bevan), but not so grave a disadvantage as he seems to think, because I believe he was here when the House took a step in May, 1940, which is the origin of what we are doing to-day. The hon. Member was here when the House at your request, Mr. Speaker, agreed to a series of provisions for the issue of passes for the entrance and admission of Members to the Palace of Westminster. Among them was a regulation that the inspection of all passes should be carried out regularly by the police and custodians, and all holders of passes were requested to co-operate with the authorities to that end. It was in May, 1940, that the House of Commons approved that measure.
By Mr. Speaker announcing it to the House and the House accepting it. This Motion was produced because some Members, like the hon. Member for the Combined English Universities (Mr. E. Harvey) thought there might possibly be some infringement of the constitutional rights of Members of the House. They desire to do what the hon. Member for the Combined English Universities wishes to do and to protect the rights of Members of the House. The manner in which that could be done best was to show that the House of Commons itself was controlling entirely its procedure. They therefore suggested to the Government that a Motion in this form should be put upon the Order Paper. I rather deprecate the hon. Member making an analogy between this and what happened in 1648. I think it might give the public outside a very wrong impression of what we are doing to-day.
I do not fear the dictator as much as the hon. Member does, but I may point out that the position is precisely the opposite. What we are doing is to secure that this matter remains entirely under the control of the House of Commons. We are not giving an opportunity to some outside person to come in and interfere with the House of Commons. We are securing that Members themselves regulate this matter by passing this Motion which will entitle their good and devoted servant, the Serjeant at Arms, to give certain instructions on their behalf from time to time to the police officers to make certain inspections of passes. That is the true view of this Motion, and that answers the question of the hon. Member for Ebbw Vale——
Well, perhaps that is a very good thing. Let me come to the precise subject-matter of the Amendment. The hon. Member for Broxstowe (Mr. Cocks) wishes to insert instead of
on duty in the Palace of Westminster
on duty at the entrances of the Palace of Westminster.
I would point out to him that his Amendment is misconceived to achieve the purpose he has in view. We are dealing with a certain type of police officer, to wit, police officers on duty in the Palace of Westminster—any of them, any who may have that particular duty to perform—and they are only empowered to examine passes when the servant of the House of Commons, the Serjeant at Arms, so instructs them, and he will, of course, give them their instructions when and where to do it. It is not a question of where the examination should take place.
I should imagine that the instruction would be "The police officers at the entrances should examine the passes to-morrow"; but there is always this possibility, which I have already pointed out, that Members may be passing in unfamiliar parts of the Palace of Westminster, not in the immediate environment of this Chamber in which we are sitting, and where they may not be recognised. This provides a convenient means for them to pass anywhere in the Palace of Westminster where they may want to go, and any police officer there would be able to identify them by asking them for their passes. In that instance they would not feel that they were being challenged by an outside authority, because they were being challenged as a result of what their own servant had arranged for their own convenience. Therefore, I suggest that this Amendment really is not appropriate even to the object which the hon. Member has in view, and that the commonsense of the Serjeant at Arms, under the instructions of the House of Commons, will achieve what he wishes and that we can safely leave it to the Serjeant at Arms to carry out what he knows to be the meaning and intention of this Motion.
There is one point which I should like to put to my right hon. and learned Friend. He knows that I support the Motion for the reasons I gave, and I do not agree that it has been a waste of time to discuss this matter. I do not think we are wasting time, as this is an important constitutional point. I understand from what the Lord Privy Seal has just said that he gives an assurance, so far as he can do it, that this instruction will be carried out lightly, from the nature of the case, and only occasionally, in order to see that Members have passes. I think it right to make this point, that I hope that will be the case, and that we shall not follow the ridiculous attitude which is adopted by the Metropolitan Police on duty at Government offices. They should not be above criticism, as they are so constantly held to be in this House. Let me give an example. I have a pass to go into the Foreign Office. Recently I went into Downing Street, not having been there for months. There were two constables on duty, both of them engaged in an earnest conversation. I held up my pass at a dis-stance as far as I am now from the right hon. and learned gentleman the Lord Privy Seal. Nobody could have read it at that distance. One of the policemen nodded to me. I went up to him and asked, "Does that mean that I can pass in?" He said, "Oh yes." I said, "But you have not seen my pass." He replied, "We know everybody by sight who goes to the Foreign Office." Then I said, "Would you mind telling me my name?" and he could not. He had not the least idea who I was. That such a thing could happen at a Government office shows that this can be a complete farce, and that it is a waste of man-power for the Metropolitan Police to have men on duty there. I hope it is clear that we shall not have here a state of affairs where anyone will be able to walk in on merely showing a piece of blue paper, whether it be a pass or not, the policeman merely nodding and letting him in.
The statement made by the right hon. and learned Gentleman raises a fresh doubt in my mind as to the nature of the instructions to be given by the Serjeant at Arms to the police officers concerned. The right hon. and learned Gentleman said "Whatever instructions may be given from time to time" and he illustrated that by supposing that the instruction was issued on the next Sitting Day. One would imagine from the point of view of those who are arguing in favour of the Motion that the Serjeant at Arms would issue a general instruction that would apply for the duration of the war, but now we are told by the Leader of the House that the Serjeant at Arms can issue instructions from time to time. Just what does he mean by that? Are we never to know whether the police have been instructed or not, so that a Member will be unaware whether the police officer at the gates has had an immediate instruction from the Serjeant at Arms to demand the inspection of the passes? Will he clear up that point? How will the Serjeant at Arms proceed to give instructions to the police officers in regard to this demand for the production of passes by Members?
I imagine in accordance with commonsense. That is all I can say. The Serjeant at Arms, being instructed by the House of Commons in this duty, will no doubt exercise his commonsense in having an occasional check upon passes, and I think the House can safely leave this to so competent a servant as the Serjeant at Arms.
Am I not right in concluding from that statement that the object of asking Members to produce their passes is to see that they are actually carrying their passes and not with reference to the safety of the place by preventing the admission of unauthorised persons?
Surely it is not suggested that it is necessary that Members should have their passes? If they are known to be Members the passes are not required, and yet Members are to be put under the obligation of answering to the police officers when they do not actually know whether the police officers have had instructions on that particular occasion to ask for the pass. In the last resort it is the police officer who will determine what the position of the Member is to be. He has an instruction from the Serjeant at Arms that, on a certain day of the week, he has to make a demand for the production of passes. Is it to be left to the discretion of the police officer whether or not he asks for the pass, or is the Serjeant at Arms to instruct him to ask for the pass of every Member who enters the gates of the Palace of Westminster? If he has not to ask for the production of the pass of every Member, it is at the discretion of the police officer. The object of those who are pushing this Motion is not served in that way, and no protection is afforded, except that the Member himself is put under the supervision of a police officer posted at the gate.
All the points raised have been covered in the Debate and also in the course of what I have said. If a Member has not his pass with him, he will do just as he did in the days before the pass. He will have to identify himself in some way. The policeman may know him, he may have a friend with him, or he may have some document.
No; but if we have the police here in order to guard the House and policemen to see that unauthorised persons are not allowed entrance, they must have some means to identify the authorised persons.
No, Sir. It would not be respectful of me to take exception to anything which you say, but, in reply, I would point out that I have many more speeches to make yet.
Far be it from me to stand between my hon. Friend and the numerous speeches that he seeks to make, but a difficulty arises in my mind, particularly on the first Amendment, and I hope the Leader of the House will be able to elucidate it. Hon. Members would be prepared to concede the right of the constabulary to restrict entrance into the precincts, to see that no unauthorised person got into the precincts. Everybody is prepared to allow that in present circumstances those who seek to enter should justify their demand by the production of a pass or some other authenticated identification. What concerns me and other hon. Members is this. If the general right sought by the Leader of the House is conceded, it would be
|Division No. 16.]||AVES.|
|Adamson, W. M. (Cannock)||Dobbie, W.||Lambert, Rt. Hon. G.|
|Albery, Sir Irving||Doland, G. F.||Lawson, J. J.|
|Ammon, C. G.||Dugdale, Major T. L. (Richmond)||Leslie, J. R.|
|Bartlett, C. V. O.||Edmondson, Major Sir J.||Linstead, H. N.|
|Baxter, A. Beverley||Elliot, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. W. E.||Lipson, D. L.|
|Beattie, F.||Entwistle, Sir C. F.||Lloyd, C. E. (Dudley)|
|Beauchamp, Sir B. C.||Erskine-Hill, A. G.||Lloyd, Major E. G. R. (Renfrew, E.)|
|Beaumont, Maj. Hn. R. E. B. (P'ts'h)||Etherton, Flight-Lieut. Ralph||Lyle, Sir C. E. Leonard|
|Bennett, Sir P. F. B, (Edgbaston)||Evans, Colonel A. (Cardiff, S.)||McCallum, Major D.|
|Benson, G.||Evans, E. (Univ. of Wales)||Mathers, G.|
|Blair, Sir R.||Everard, Sir W. Lindsay||Morgan, R. H. (Stourbridge)|
|Boles, Lt.-Col. D. C.||Fyfe, Major Sir D. P. M.||Orr-Ewing, I. L.|
|Boulton, W. W.||Gammons, Capt. L. D.||Paling, W.|
|Bower, Norman (Harrow)||Gales, Major E. E.||Palmer, G. E. H.|
|Bracken, Rt. Hon. B,||Glyn, Sir R. G. C.||Peaks, O.|
|Brocklebank, Sir C. E. R.||Gower, Sir R. V.||Peters, Dr. S. J.|
|Brooke, H.||Green, W. H. (Deptford)||Petherick, Major M.|
|Cadogan, Major Sir E.||Gridley, Sir A. B.||Pethick-Lawrence, Rt. Hon. F. W.|
|Campbell, Sir E. T.||Grigg, Rt. Hon. Sir P. J. (Cardiff, E.)||Ponsonby, Col. C. E.|
|Cary, R. A.||Halt, W. G.||Radford, E. A.|
|Cazalet, Major V. A. (Chippenham)||Hannon, Sir P. J. H.||Reed, Sir H. S. (Aylesbury)|
|Challen, Flight-Lieut. C.||Harris, Rt. Hon. Sir P. A.||Reid, Capt. A. Cunningham (St. M.)|
|Charleton, H. C.||Henderson, A. (Kingswinford)||Reid, W. Allan (Derby)|
|Colegate, W. A.||Henderson, T. (Tradeston)||Robertson, D. (Streatham)|
|Colman, N. C. D.||Hinchingbrooke, Viscount||Robertson, Rt. Hon. Sir M. A. (M'ham)|
|Cooke, J. D. (Hammersmith, S.)||Hopkinson, A.||Sanderson, Sir F. B.|
|Courthope, Col. Rt. Hon. Sir G. L.||Hard, Sir P. A.||Savory, Professor D. L.|
|Cripps, Rt. Hon. Sir Stafford||Jarvis, Sir J. J.||Schuster, Sir G. E.|
|Crookshank, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. F. C.||Jeffreys, Gen. Sir G. D.||Scott, Donald (Wansbeck)|
|Culverwell, C. T.||Jenkins, A. (Pontypool)||Scott, Lord William (Ro'b'h & Selk'k)|
|Davidson, Viscountess (H'm'l H'mst'd)||Kennedy, Rt. Hon. T.||Shepperson, Sir E. W.|
|De Chair, Capt. S. S.||Kerr, Sir John Graham (Scottish U'S)||Smith, Bracewell (Dulwich)|
|De la Bère, R.||Keyes, Admiral of the Fleet Sir R.||Smith, Sir R. W. (Aberdeen)|
|Denville, Alfred||Kirby, B. V.||Spens, W. P.|
The only check is that the Serjeant at Arms would not give such an instruction. We are debating the rights of Members, and I still submit that they should be protected, not only in terms of what would follow in practice but in terms of what is possible under the terms of the Motion. Those terms should be such as to make that impossible.
|Storey, S.||Walkden, A. G. (Bristol, S.)||Wickham, Lt. Col. E. T. R.|
|Strauss, G. R. (Lambeth, N.)||Walkden, E. (Doncasler)||Williams, Rt. Hon. T. (Don Valley)|
|Strickland, Capt. W. F.||Ward, Irene M. B. (Wallsend)||Wilson, C. H.|
|Stuart, Rt. Hon. J. (Moray and Nairn)||Wardlaw-Milne, Sir J. S.||Winterton, Rt. Hon. Earl|
|Sueter, Hoar-Admiral Sir M. F.||Webbe, Sir W- Harold||Womersley, Rt. Hon. Sir W.|
|Summers, G. S.||Wedderburn, H. J. S.||Wootton-Davies, J. H.|
|Sutcliff[...], H.||Westwood, J.|
|Tate, Mavis C.||White, Sir Dymoke (Fareham)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Thomas, J. P. L. (Hereford)||White, H. Graham (Birkenhead, E.)||Captain McEwen and Mr. Pym.|
|Touche, G. C.||Whiteley, W. (Blaydon)|
|Adams, D. (Consett)||Granville, E. L.||Thomas, I. (Keighley)|
|Barr, J.||Hardie, Agnes||Viant, S. P.|
|Bellenger, F. J.||Hughes, R. M.||Walking, F. C.|
|Bevan, A.||Maclean, N. (Govan)|
|Cooks, F. S.||Naylor, T. E.||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Cove, W. G.||Shinwell, E.||Mr. Harvey and Mr. Bowles.|
|Driberg, T. E. N.||Stokes, R. R.|
On a point of Order. May I ask whether the right hon. Gentleman proposes to pursue this Motion any further, because there are other Amendments on the Order Paper and there is a very considerable amount of disquiet about the situation? The Government are reinforced in the Division Lobby, as usual, by a large number of Members who have not heard the Debate, who do not know what they are voting about, and who follow because the Government is taking a certain line. May I suggest to the right hon. Gentleman that it is not a dignified procedure for Parliament to be occupied with a Motion of this kind?
On a point of Order. I should like it to be made clear whether the Serjeant at Arms is a servant of the Crown or a servant of this House. My information is that he is a servant of this House. I should also like it to be made clear that whenever the passes are called for, it will be subject to the decision of Mr. Speaker, who is a servant of this House and is the custodian of our rights and privileges.
I beg to move, in line 3, after "Members," to insert "not recognised by such officers."
Before proceeding to the argument, may I congratulate my right hon. Friend on having saved the Government a very serious dereat? I know of course that he is not personally responsible for all this trouble. The Noble Lord the Member for Horsham (Earl Winterton), on the last occasion when we were discussing this matter, referred to himself as the fons et origo mali, a description which fits him most admirably. When I raised the question as to the method by which the Serjeant at Arms would instruct the police, the right hon. Gentleman gave-me a reply, as to which much depends as to the practicability and desirability of this Amendment being included in the Motion. The right hon. and learned Gentleman, when he opened the discussion, lumped all three Amendments together, and said there was no necessity for-them. My recollection is that he used no argument against, and raised no objection to, the Amendment which I am now moving. I ask the right hon. and learned Gentleman to say just what is the reason for objecting to this Amendment. Either all the Members without exception have to show their passes if the Serjeant at Arms issues an instruction to the police, or a general instruction will be issued, under which the police will act within their own discretion as to whether they ask for the passes or not. Hitherto, it has been at the discretion of the police, subject to overhead demand, and I want to know what sense there is in a police officer coming to a Member whom he knows to be a Member and asking him to prove whether he is a Member or not by producing a pass.
The right hon. and learned Gentleman said that these passes were issued for the convenience of Members. I agree that that is the object of the pass and that if there was a crowd on the other side of Whitehall, and a Member found some difficulty in getting to the gates, the police would assist him, and the pass would protect him all along Whitehall if necessary. For that reason the pass would be a convenience to Members, but if it becomes an inconvenience, if a Member is to be stopped at the gate because a policeman asks him to produce that pass, then Members are at least entitled to ask the question—I do not think Members need stand on their dignity in the matter—whether the carrying of "the pass is to be at the option of the police officer at the gate, placing him in the position of supervising the conduct of a Member, even though the instruction comes from the Serjeant at Arms. I hope the right hon. and learned Gentleman will answer the question how this instruction is to be given, because on that depends a good deal whether or not we favour the existence of the pass. If he tells us that there is to be a general instruction on which the police will act when they think necessary, as individual officers, then, I say that this Amendment is justified. It is the duty of the right hon. and learned Gentleman to tell the House what object is served by a police officer asking a Member for his pass which is his means of identification when the police officer already knows that he is a Member. One has to admit that a new Member might, possibly, not be identified. Even an old Member might not be identified by a new police officer. In those cases the production of a pass on a demand for its production is perfectly justified.
I would say that, as far as I am concerned, I can conceive of circumstances in which the pass would be useful, but I certainly object to being challenged by a police officer who knows that I am a Member to see whether or not I am carrying my pass. The Motion does not say that a Member of this House must carry the pass. It merely says that on the demand of a police officer the pass must be produced. I say that it is not in conformity with the dignity of the House that a Member should be called upon by a police officer to show his pass without any necessity whatever existing. I do not wish to say anything about the first or the third Amendments. I wish to plead for my own Amendment, and to ask the right hon. and learned Gentleman to consider it on its merits apart from the other two. I am the more interested in this, because having searched for possible objections to these words I fail to find any and certainly the right hon. and learned Gentleman provided us with no objections to it. If he wants another majority on this I should advise him to consider what his objections to the Amendment are, and to state them to the House. Otherwise, I shall have to divide the House on the Amendment.
I am afraid I am in danger of offending against the Rules of the House by making a repetitive speech, because on more than one occasion already I have covered the points which the hon. Member has put to me. If I may put the matter again quite shortly, this Motion does not purport to lay down a method of Members' passes. That was done by the House in May, 1940. The passes were then issued, and have been in the possession of Members, or should have been in the possession of Members, ever since. At the same time it was laid down that the inspection of passes should be carried out regularly by the police and custodians. That inspection was, of course, for the obvious reason which arises in connection with every issue of passes that some form of check must be carried out from time to time to see that people have not lost them, and can still produce them if necessary. This Motion deals only with the question of whether the police are to be given authority by this House to carry out this inspection.
The hon. Member said he did not wish it to be in the discretion of the police to stop a Member and that that is something which the House should control. I entirely agree with him, but if his Amendment is carried it will be left entirely to the discretion of the police, who will be able to say, "I do not recognise this man. Shall I ask him for his pass?" and whether they recognise him or not is a matter for the police, and no one else. The object of this Motion is that the police shall not have power to make any inspection of passes unless instructed by the Serjeant at Arms who will, in accordance with the Regulation' which has already been approved by the House, order from time to time an inspection of all passes carried by all Members.
The words "from time to time," are used in order to show that it does not relate only to one occasion, and that the intention was that it should be done as occasion might offer, every six months, or once every year, or whatever it might be, depending upon how long the war lasts. The Serjeant at Arms will no doubt say, "It is about time we had another check-up to see whether Members have got their passes, or have lost them or mislaid them." [Interruption.] Obviously the Serjeant at Arms acts through Mr. Speaker, and Mr. Speaker represents the House. That is the machinery by which the message would pass, and if anyone wishes to do so, he can question his actions in the House. Therefore, the form in which the Motion now stands indicates the form in which the examination will be carried out for all Members. It will not be left to the discretion of the police and will only be carried out on such occasions as the Serjeant at Arms gives instructions. This, no doubt, will be from time to time as he thinks fit or necessary, acting as the servant of the House in order to perform what the House has desired to be performed—the inspection of passes by the police or custodians.
I am sorry to have to repeat myself. I have said it, I think, on half a dozen occasions. The object is in order to see that Members still have their passes, that they have not lost them or that the passes have not been stolen.
No, not to see whether they are goad boys, but to remind Members of the fact that passes should be carried and to see whether they still have them. This is done, as far as I know, in every case where passes are issued. There is a periodical check, as there must be, unless you wish passes to get disseminated all over the world.
Surely the point could be met by a very simple device. Passes are issued to Members of Parliament. Periodical inspection takes place to find out, not whether a Member is still a Member of Parliament, but whether he still has his pass. It may easily happen that he has mislaid his pass or that some evilly-disposed person has got hold of it. That could be solved by calling in all the passes. Do not issue the passes. Why have the passes at all?
This Motion does not deal with the issue of passes. If an hon. Member thinks that regulations, which have been in force now for two and a quarter years, should be withdrawn he should put a Motion down on the Paper to that effect.
The Lord Privy Seal has misled the House—I am sure not deliberately—on several occasions. He has told us that he does not want to repeat himself. May I be permitted to put him right at once? There are no regulations issued by the House and for goodness sake do not let us hear it again. The right hon. Gentleman has said this half a dozen times. The House of Commons has issued no regulations about passes. Mr. Speaker in 1940 in circumstances of exceptional difficulty—there was no decision by the House and no notice given—announced to the House that certain steps had been taken, in the unusual circumstances arising at the time. It is easy for hon. Members to envisage that Mr. Speaker was faced with circumstances of exceptional delicacy at that time. These are not regulations but arrangements that were made at that time.
The hon. Member is not dealing with the Amendment which is now before the House. The Amendment does not relate to the necessity of passes at all, but deals with the question of whether the police should ask for passes to be shown by Members not recognised by them.
The Amendment is that the police officers should be empowered to request the production of passes only if they cannot recognise a Member of Parliament as being a Member of Parliament. That is the purpose of the Amendment and I am addressing myself to that point. The right hon. and learned Gentleman said that the purpose of demanding the pass is not to identify the Member as a Member of Parliament, but to prove that the Member has a pass. Why do you want to prove whether the Member has a pass? Because he might have lost it. Then call in the passes and the danger of the pass having got into unworthy hands is removed. Otherwise, why does not the right hon. and learned Gentleman accept the Amendment? All this discussion is on the assumption that it is the House which is deciding a certain thing. The House is deciding nothing of the kind. The Government are deciding it. The idea that the House is, in any collective capacity, asking for this sort of thing is a fiction. The Government Whips are on and the Government Members crowd into the Lobbies to support propositions which are really fantastic. Not a Member who has risen in his place—not even the right hon. Gentleman, who falls back on what happened in 1940—has justified this fantastic procedure of having passes. It would be much more appropriate to the dignity of the House if the Government withdrew the Motion which has no priority in the Constitution and no justification in practice. I am going to support the Amendment, and, if it is not accepted, I hope that my hon. Friend will press it to a Division.
The argument of my hon. Friend the Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. A. Bevan) in objecting to passes altogether is logical, but if we are to have passes, all Members must be subject democratically to the regulations. There cannot be any differentiation between one Member and another. It would be very offensive for my hon. Friend who moved the Amendment to be recognised and the police not to recognise me and to insist upon my pass being shown. In a democratic institution like ours, if we are to have passes, every Member should be under the same kind of arrangement.
It would be creating not only an anomaly but considerable ill-feeling. There are something like 90 new Members in the House now, and a number of them may not be recognised by the police. Supposing there was a downpour of rain, the police might recognise an old Member, who would be in a privileged position and could pass through, but another Member might have to produce his pass. I think it is entirely wrong.
I am at some loss because I, unfortunately, do not possess a pass. I was not in this House when Mr. Speaker's Ruling was made, and I have not been able to obtain a pass. I endeavoured to surrender my military pass for the one issued to Members of Parliament. I was told that I might get a political one, and as I stoutly refused to part with my only identity until I got a new one, I am presumably one of those covered by the Amendment. Maybe my only chance of getting into the House would be to be recognised by the policeman. My hon. Friend the Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. A. Bevan) has raised the point as to the object of producing passes. The object is presumably to see that Members have still got them. I still fail to see why a Member should have to have a pass. We are told by my right hon. and learned Friend that if we have not got our pass, we can still get into the House, that we can still walk about without let or hindrance. All that happens is that we might have to produce what we could rightly be asked to produce, our national registration card. I would like my own personal position to be made clear and to know whether or not I ought to have a pass, what would happen to me if I did not have it, and whether I should take immediate steps to procure that which apparently I should have had in May, 1940.
I think if my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Smethwick (Major Wise) pursues his inquiry a little further, he will find that he has raised a difficulty which does not exist and never did exist. All I wish to say briefly is this: The House of Commons has passed Regulations drastically affecting the lives of millions of our fellow subjects, and the House expects that they will obey them. How much will they respect this House, which, after passing those Regulations, makes all this fuss about the small Regulations concerning ourselves? I would accept, honour and obey this Regulation and any other brought forward by those who are really responsible if they thought it was really necessary for the security of this House.
|Division No. 17.]||AYES.|
|Adamson, W. M. (Cannock)||Gower, Sir R. V.||Reid, Capt. A. Cunningham (St. M.)|
|Albery, Sir Irving||Grigs, Rt. Hon. Sir P. J. (Cardiff, E.)||Reid, W. Allan (Derby)|
|Aske, Sir R. W.||Groves, T. E.||Rickards, G. W.|
|Bartlett, C. V. O.||Hall, W. G. (Colne Valley)||Roberts, W.|
|Beamish, Bear-Admiral T. P.||Hannon, Sir P. J. H.||Robertson, D. (Streatham)|
|Beattie, F.||Harris, Rt. Hon. Sir P. A.||Robertson, Rt. Hn. Sir M. A. (M'ham)|
|Beauchamp, Sir B. C.||Henderson, A. (Kingswinford)||Sanderson, Sir F. B.|
|Beaumont, Maj. Hn. R. E. B. (P'tsmth)||Hinchingbrooke, Viscount||Scott, Donald (Wansbeck)|
|Bennett, Sir P. F. B. (Edgbaston)||Hurd, Sir P. A.||Scott, Lord William (Ro'b'h & Selk'k)|
|Benton, G.||James, Wing-Comdr. A. W. H.||Shapperson, Sir E. W.|
|Blair, Sir R.||Jarvis, Sir J. J.||Smith, Braceweil (Dulwich)|
|Bower, Norman (Harrow)||Jeffreys, General Sir G. D.||Spens, W. P.|
|Boyce, H. Leslie||Jenkins, A. (Pontypool)||Storey, S.|
|Brocklebank, Sir C. E. R.||Keeling, E. H.||Strauss, G. R. (Lambeth, N.)|
|Brooke, H.||Kennedy, Rt. Hon. T.||Strickland, Capt. W. F.|
|Cadogan, Major Sir E.||Kerr, H. W. (Oldham)||Stuart, Rt. Hon. J. (Moray and Nairn)|
|Campbell, Sir E. T.||Keyes, Admiral of the Fleet Sir R.||Sutcliffe, H.|
|Cazalet, Major V. A. (Chippenham)||Kimball, Major L.||Tasker, Sir R. I.|
|Charleton, H. C.||Lawson, J. J.||Tate, Mavis C.|
|Colman, N. C. D.||Leslie, J. R.||Touche, G. C.|
|Cooke, J. D. (Hammersmith, S.)||Linstead, H. N.||Viant, S. P.|
|Courthope, Col. Rt. Hon. Sir G. L.||Lipson, D. L.||Walkden, A. G. (Bristol, S.)|
|Cripps, Rt. Hon. Sir Stafford||Lloyd, C. E. (Dudley)||Walkden, E. (Doncaster)|
|Crookshank, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. F. C.||Lloyd, Major E. G. R. (Renfrew, E.)||Walker, J.|
|Culverwell, C. T.||Lucas, Major Sir J. M.||Watkins, F. C.|
|Davidson, Viscountess (H'm'l H'mst'd)||Lyle, Sir C. E. Leonard||Wedderburn, H. J. S.|
|De Chair, Capt. S. S.||McCallum, Major D.||Westwood, J.|
|Denville, Alfred||Macdonald, Capt. P. (Isle of Wight)||White, H. Graham (Birkenhead, E.)|
|Dugdale, Major T. L. (Richmond)||Mathers, G.||Whiteley, W. (Blaydon)|
|Edmondson, Major Sir J.||Mayhew, Lt.-Col. J.||Wickham, Lt.-Col. E. T. R.|
|Elliot, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. W. E.||Morgan, R. H. (Stourbridge)||Williams, Rt. Hon. T. (Don Valley)|
|Entwistle, Sir C. F.||Mott-Radcliffe, Captain C. E.||Wilson, C. H.|
|Erskine-Hill, A. G.||Orr-Ewing, I. L.||Winterton, Rt. Hon. Earl|
|Etherton, Flight.-Lieut. Ralph||Paling, W.||Womersley, Rt. Hon. Sir W.|
|Evans, Colonel A. (Cardiff, S.)||Palmer, G. E. H.||Woodburn, A.|
|Evans, E. (Univ. of Wales)||Peake, O.||Wootton-Davies, J. H.|
|Fyfe, Major Sir D. P. M.||Petherick, Major M.|
|Gammans, Capt. L. D.||Pym, L. R.||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Gates, Major E. E.||Quibell, D. J. K.||Mr. J. P. L. Thomas and|
|George, Megan Lloyd (Anglesey)||Radford, E. A.||Captain McEwen.|
|Glyn, Sir R. G. C.||Reed, Sir H. S. (Aylesbury)|
|Adams, D. (Consett)||Granville, E. L.||Shinwell, E.|
|Barr, J.||Hardie, Agnes||Sorensen, R. W.|
|Bevan, A.||Harvey, T. E.|
|Cooks, F. S.||Hughes, R. M.||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Cove, W. G.||Maclean, N. (Govan)||Mr. Bowles and Mr. Ivor|
|Driberg, T. E. N.||Martin, J. H.||Thomas.|
|Garro Jones, G. M.||Naylor, T. E.|