Orders of the Day — Defence Regulation 18B (Re-Consideration)

– in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 16th June 1944.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Mr Irving Albery Mr Irving Albery , Gravesend 12:00 am, 16th June 1944

I beg to move, That this House is of opinion that the operation of Regulation 18B should now be reconsidered with a view to the amendment thereof and to the transfer to a judicial tribunal specially constituted, if need be, for the purpose of final responsibility for determining whether there is reasonable cause for detention under the said Regulation; and, in particular, that the detention of an honourable Member for over four years without trial or charge conflicts with the ancient and well-established right of the House to the service of its Members, deprives the electors of the honourable Member from proper representation, constitutes a precedent damaging to the prestige of the House and dangerous to the Constitution of the country and ought to cease unless justified to the House, if necessary, in Secret Session. I should like, first, to thank the Government, and, if I respectfully may, the House in general, for having facilitated the Debate on this Motion. I intend to try to be brief, but I want, in referring to this Motion, to deal with its two separate parts. As regards the first part, dealing with Regulation 18B, perhaps it is useful to consider to what extent we are, generally, in agreement. I think I can say that the House is generally in agreement that it was necessary, and may still be necessary, that such a Regulation as 18B should exist. I think the House is further in agreement with a statement, or with a certain part of a statement, which was made by the Home Secretary on 26th November, 1941, when he said: With great respect, I say to the House that, unpleasant as this Regulation may be, obnoxious as it may be in relation to British traditions—it is abnoxious to me; I do not like the Regulation, and nobody is going to seek the responsibility of its administration. …" [OFFICIAL REPORT, 26th November, 1941; Vol. 376, c. 859.] I quote that statement because there is, I think, a large measure of general agreement on it, and in considering this matter one has to bear that fact in mind. The Regulation is obnoxious to this House generally and to the Government, and, I believe, to the country, although on that point I must say that it is extraordinary to what a very small extent people up and down this country fully realise its implications.

The chief matter which is considered in the first part of the Motion, is that of the Advisory Committee. This House, as Members will remember, had a good deal of discussion about the actual terms of tine Order, but, after those first discussions, I think the House ceased to have as great an anxiety about the Order as it at first had. I think that was mainly on account of the statement which was made by the present Chancellor of the Exchequer, who was Home Secretary at that time. He was, if I remember rightly, replying to a question which had been put by the hon. Member for East Wolverhampton (Mr. Mander), and the effect of his reply was that the great safeguard in these Regulations was the Advisory Committee. He further referred to it as an Advisory Committee independent of the Executive Government. I have the precise terms by me, but, as I do not think anybody will question that statement, I will not weary the House with them. I have no doubt that it was that which influenced hon. Members, and I know the effect it had upon myself. From that time we have, at any rate, thought of the Advisory Committee as a great safeguard. For a considerable time after that, nothing arose on Regulation 18B, although there were a good number of people in detention at the time. Then, later, it was discovered, by a Question in this House, that over 100 persons were being detained against the advice of this Advisory Committee which had been set up, and, on that point, I must draw the attention of hon. Members to the recent letter issued by the Home Secretary, under the Emergency Powers Defence Act, in which he says: During the month of April"— that is this year— two persons were released. In this month, there were three persons in whose cases a decision was taken not to follow the advice c: the Advisory Committee. We are still up against this point that, to a very considerable extent, the advice of this Advisory Committee, which was set up by the Home Secretary and which has been referred to as an independent body, is not taken. From that, one comes to the question of why, and in what circumstances, the present Home Secretary does not take the advice of his Advisory Committee. On that, I shall have to give a quotation referring to the Home Secretary's policy in this matter. On 26th November, 1941, the right hon. Gentleman informed the House that, when he differed from the Advisory Committee, it was not on a question of facts, and, on this occasion, he said, it was on a question of policy. The right hon. Gentleman said this: In other words, if there is positive reason why he should not be detained, I would not detain him, but my bias would be to regard him as a person of completely hostile origin and association and detain him."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 26th November, 1941; Vol. 376, c. 854] I ask the House to mark that. Unless there is a positive reason for not detaining the man, he is to be detained. It is clear that his Advisory Committee took the opposite view on that, and I must say that I, personally, would share the view of his Advisory Committee. It seems to me to be a most extraordinary thing. The terms of the Regulations are: The Home Secretary has reasonable cause to believe and I cannot understand, if those are the words of the Regulation, how the Home Secretary can adopt the policy that, unless he has positive cause for not detaining the man, the man is to detained. It appears to me that it would be next to impossible for anybody, in those circumstances, to give positive cause for not being detained. I do not want to be unfair in this argument. I must remind the House that those words were spoken in relation to people of hostile origin, but it would be very wrong to assume, in all cases, that persons who have brothers or sisters of hostile origin or association, and who have become naturalised British subjects, cannot be loyal, when they have become British subjects. Many of them have the intention of being loyal, and the view which I have mentioned is an amazing proposition to put forward, in this connection.

The next thing which strikes me about the workings of this Committee—and this also is a very serious matter—is that the Home Secretary refuses to disclose, even to the Member for the constituency concerned, whether the Advisory Committee has recommended that a person should be released or not. I take the view that, if a constituent of mine came under 18B and I were appealed to for assistance, the first thing I would want to know would be whether that person had been before the Advisory Committee. If so, I should, naturally, want to know also what the decision of the Advisory Committee had been. Did they recommend release or detention? Only by getting that information could I do my duty to my constituents, and it is only by getting that information that I, or any hon. Member of this House, can say whether the Home Secretary is operating this Regulation fairly—and I am denied it. Yet, curiously enough, when the Home Secretary was asked a Question concerning the hon. and gallant Member for Peebles and Southern (Captain Ramsay) whether he had been before the Advisory Committee, and what the decision of the Committee was, information was forthcoming that the Advisory Committee had advised the continuation of his detention. I am quite willing to believe that the Home Secretary, on that occasion, made an exception to a rule which he had put into practice, because it happened to concern an hon. Member of this House. If one did not believe that, one would be almost forced to believe that, when the Advisory Committee gave a decision which supported the right hon. Gentleman's action, he was willing to disclose it, but, when they took a decision which did not support him, he was unwilling to do so.

While on the subject of the hon. and gallant Member for Peebles and Southern, I wish to make it quite clear that I am not prepared, in any way, to-day, to put that hon. Member's case. I am not making my point, or any point to-day, on the personal position of the hon. and gallant Member for Peebles and Southern. I am putting the position, as I see it, as it concerns this House of Commons, in regard to the detention of any Member of Parliament. I mention that now for this especial reason. It would be very unfair if I did try to make a case for the hon. and gallant Member for Peebles and Southern, because I have not the information which would be necessary in order to make it. I want that to be quite clear.

That is really all I want to put forward on the first part of this Motion, but I wish, before leaving it, to put some questions to the Home Secretary, and I hope that we may have a reply. I would, first, put this to the right hon. Gentleman. Now, some four years after the Regulation was brought into effect, what is the nature of the danger at present anticipated, if people detained under Regulation 18B are released? I think the House ought to know that. There may be an adequate answer. If there is, we ought to have it. The next question is this: Is it just or equitable to conceal a favourable verdict by the Advisory Committee? What is the Home Secretary's answer to that? What are these people to do, eventually, when they are released? How are they ever to clear themselves? If a man is detained, and he has got an impartial committee to say that he ought not to be detained, and that he is not a danger to the State, is he not entitled to know that, and to be able to make use of it? A further question is: Will any person who has been detained under Regulation 18B and subsequently released, have any future opportunity to clear himself? My last question is this: Is it not a fact that serious mistakes have been made? I hope that I may have answers to those questions.

I propose now to deal shortly with the second part of the Motion, which refers to the detention of a Member. I am sorry to have to make some quotations—the House knows it is not a habit of mine—but I want to get this right, and it is an important matter. I, first, quote a short paragraph from the Report of the Committee of Privileges after having considered the case of the hon. and gallant Member for Peebles and Southern, because this ought to be made quite clear, and I think there is some confusion about it. The Report says: Your Committee, in order to remove all this misconception with regard to the scope of their inquiry, directed that a copy of their terms of reference be sent to Captain Ramsay, accompanied by an intimation that these terms do not, in their view, authorise them to carry out a general investigation into the grounds upon which the decision of the Home Secretary to make an Order against him was based, but were limited to the question of whether his detention constituted a breach of immunity from arrest enjoyed by Members of Parliament, or of any other privilege enjoyed by them in their capacity as Members. I have read that because I want the House to be clearly seized of the point that, although the matter of the detention of a Member was considered by the Privileges Committee, they did not, in any sense, consider whether there was adequate justification for detaining him. The only point they were asked to decide, and on which they advised this House, was whether a breach of Privilege had been committed by the Home Secretary in detaining that Member. There was, of course, no doubt that the Home Secretary had received authority from this House to detain all persons. The only question which could arise, was whether a Member of Parliament was an exception to that rule. The Privileges Committee is always—and I think rightly—very conservative in its judgments and very reluctant ever to give any decision, which might appear in any way to limit or extend the privileges of Members of Parliament.

I had an opportunity of speaking in the Privileges Debate, and it appeared to me that the very able and informative memorandum, which was submitted to that Committee by Sir Gilbert Campion, and the evidence which he gave, showed quite clearly that there had, in fact, never been any precious precedent for the question which was before the Committee at that time. The Privileges Committee decided that there had been no breach of Privilege. I, with all respect, held the view that, in giving that decision, which was a first decision, the Privileges Committee had, to some extent, limited the privileges of Members. At any rate, they had given a decision of a limiting nature which had never been given before. It is not for me now, to question that decision, and, in any case, I do not profess to be sufficiently informed to offer any criticism upon a decision come to by the Privileges Committee—but I must point this out. There was one precedent which came near to it, and that was in the year 1715, when a somewhat similar Regulation was passed. This House was disquieted by that Regulation and took the special precaution of inserting a Clause which made it quite clear—it was the suspension of the Habeas Corpus Act—that no Member of this House could be detained, or prevented from carrying out his duties and functions, unless this House had first been informed of the reason and, secondly, had assented thereto.

What really is this question of Parliamentary Privilege? May I very humbly suggest to the House the manner in which I view Parliamentary Privilege? There is no Parliamentary Privilege except so far as it enables a Member to carry out his Parliamentary duties. There are certain matters in which a Member of this House is legally disqualified from continuing his duties and ceases to be a Member of this House, and when that happens, there is a by-election and some other candidate is elected to take his place, and his constituents do not materially suffer thereby, provided they elect a good Member. That covers that part. As I understand Parliamentary Privilege, it was intended to cover the prevention of a Member from carrying out his duties in Parliament, owing to some other cause of a less serious nature, something which did not involve his being convicted or put into prison, which did not actually prevent him from coming to this House and doing his duty, which did not legally interfere with the carrying out of his duties. It appears to me that, in the case of the hon. and gallant Member for Peebles and Southern and resulting from the decision given by the Committee of Privileges, we have to some extent got into a "no-man's land."

The hon. and gallant Member for Peebles and Southern is not disqualified from carrying out his duties as a Member of Parliament by any of the recognised processes. He has not got Parliamentary Privilege to continue them by recognised processes, but he is, in fact, prevented from continuing practically all of them by this detention, which has been made by the Home Secretary. I submit that this House cannot tolerate the position that a Member of this House should be debarred from carrying out his functions, except under the ordinary processes, and if an extraordinary occasion arises, then, a decision in that matter must be taken by this House and very likely fresh rules or legislation must be brought in by this House. It is the responsibility of this House, and not the responsibility of any Member of the Executive, or any Member of the Government. I think it probable, if this matter is fairly and fully considered, that this House may well come to the conclusion that it were necessary to add to the processes under which a Member can be disqualified from sitting in this House. It might be reasonable, if this House should so decide, that a Member who is prevented, through any cause whatever, from carrying out his duties in this House for a period of, say, 12 months or 24 months, should, thereby, automatically vacate his seat. But at the present moment we are in the position that it is indefinite. The war may not last very much longer; we hope it will not. But I believe there have been other cases in the history of this House, which are somewhat on the lines I have indicated. It certainly is a matter which I consider this House should submit for consideration and recommendation, either to some Select Committee, such as the Committee which is now being considered on Electoral Reform, or, probably more appropriately, to the Committee of Privileges.

That covers most of the ground on that point. There is only one other thing I want to say about it. There are hon. Members who take the view that the position of a Member of Parliament, in these matters, is precisely similar to that of any other citizen. I do not think I can take that view, and that view certainly was not taken by a former hon. Member of this House who is now the Lord Chief Justice of India and who spoke in this House on 26th November, 1941. He said It has been suggested that it might be a good thing if it was agreed by the Government that should it become necessary to detain any Member of this House, it should be the obligation of the Home Secretary at once to report in detail to a Select Committee of this House the grounds on which he was acting, and that the Committee, sitting in secret, should report to the House whether or not it was satisfied. My hon. Friend the Member for Lowestoft (Mr. Loftus) made that very suggestion in a letter to a newspaper.On the other hand, it has been suggested that it would be a grave mistake to say that in this matter Members of the House should be put in a different position from members of the public. I do not take that view. In the administration of this Regulation, the public safety lies in the hands of Members of the House and we must be absolutely free on all occasions, and completely fearless in voicing criticism of the administration of the Regulation."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 26th November, 1941; Vol. 376, C. 818–819.] I think that view is worthy of some consideration. Finally, I appeal to the House to give this matter very serious and impartial consideration. It is not a party matter. I do not know whether it will be necessary to divide on it or not; I very much hope it will not. I am sure this Debate will be conducted, as I have endeavoured to start it, in an argumentative and reasonable manner. A French writer wrote these words: Le coeur a ses raisons que la raison ne connoit pas. I find it difficult to put those words exactly into English but they mean this to me in the present case, that by all my intuitions and by all my instincts, I find something wrong in the situation as it is.

Photo of Commander Sir Archibald Southby Commander Sir Archibald Southby , Epsom

I beg to second the Motion.

There have been several Debates on the subject of this Motion, which has been so ably moved by my hon. Friend the Member for Gravesend (Sir I. Albery). The last was almost exactly a year ago. I would like to express my really sincere thanks to the Members of this House for the kindly tolerance with which they have listened to the speeches I have made in almost all those Debates. I do not apologise for making them, because, like my hon. Friend, I feel very deeply on this matter, but I appreciate the kindness of the House in listening. Perhaps the House will extend its tolerance just once more.

I would like to sketch lightly the background of the subject which we are discussing to-day. It is a very important one. The great Charter of 1215 signed on the Runnymede is the core and essence of the freedom of the British people, and the 39th Clause of it says this: No free man shall be arrested, or detained, or deprived of liberty, or banished, or in any way molested without the lawful judgment of his equals and by the law of the land. In 1688 there was a Bill of Rights; almost as important to the British people as the Great Charter, and that decreed that the pretended power of suspending laws or their execution by Regal Authority without the consent of Parliament is illegal. I am one of those who believe, with what I hold to be some reason, that when in November, 1939, as a result of a Debate which took place in this House, the words in Regulation 18B "is satisfied" were changed to "has reasonable cause," Parliament did then, in fact, withhold its consent from the operation of 18B as originally intended by the Executive, and as it is, in fact, being operated to-day. Whatever our individual views may be regarding Regulation 18B, there can be no doubt whatever that, as matters now stand, there is no judicial safeguard for the liberty of the subject against the arbitrary acts of the Executive. Let me say again, as I have said repeatedly on other occasions, that I agree that war conditions make some special powers of arrest and detention necessary, but there should be adequate safeguards against the misuse of those powers, and some guarantee that a detained person should be brought to trial at the earliest possible moment.

The first Regulation was introduced in September, 1939, and a Prayer was most ably moved by the hon. Member for Dundee (Mr. Dingle Foot), who is now a Member of the Government, on 31st October, 1939. As a result of the Debate which then took place—incidentally, the present Home Secretary was one of the critics of the then Home Secretary, now the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and expressed himself as "exceedingly apprehensive"—the then Lord Privy Seal—now His Majesty's Ambassador in Madrid—promised to amend the Regulations after the Home Secretary had had a conference with a number of interested Members. That conference had its first meeting on 8th November, and, as a result of the Conference, the wording was altered. It would be fair to say that the House generally—in view of subsequent events, I would, of course, except the Attorney-General, and the present Chancellor of the Exchequer—was under the impression that the rights of the citizens had been safeguarded, and that, when challenged, the Home Secretary would have to show "reasonable cause" for any action which he took under the Regulation.

That position was unchallenged until August, 1940, when the Liversidge case first came before the courts. During subsequent proceedings in connection with that case the Attorney-General stated in court that the Regulation as amended meant, and was intended to mean, precisely the same as the Regulation which was withdrawn as a result of the views expressed by the House of Commons; but at no time had he told the unofficial conference or the House of Commons that this was so. I can only speak for myself, but I left the conference satisfied that the altered words meant precisely what Lord Justice Atkin in his dissenting judgment on the Liversidge case stated that he believed them to mean. If they meant nothing, then why did not the present Chancellor of the Exchequer and the present Attorney-General tell the conference plainly that that was so?

Photo of Mr Donald Somervell Mr Donald Somervell , Crewe

I think perhaps I ought to make it clear that I was not asked to attend the conference and I did not attend any of its meetings. I am sure my hon. and gallant Friend forgets that, when making his observation.

Photo of Commander Sir Archibald Southby Commander Sir Archibald Southby , Epsom

I, of course, accept what my right hon. and learned Friend says. The proof that this House, as a whole, believed that the ancient liberty of the subject had been preserved lies in the fact that no Prayer was moved against the new Regulations.

In May, 1940, the hon. and gallant Member for Peebles and Southern (Captain Ramsay) was arrested under Regulation 188 and his arrest was reported to this House. Looking back on it, I think the Parliamentary historian will say, with truth, that this House gravely neglected its plain duty, in allowing that arrest to go unexplained. I should like to put on record, and I am sure that history ought to put on record, that one Member did rise in his place and attempt to get some information. That was the hon. Member for Plaistow (Mr. Thorne) and I only wish, Mr. Speaker, it had been myself. When the letter was read out by your predecessor the hon. Member for Plaistow—I am quoting from HANSARD—rose and was greeted with cries from hon. Members of "Sit down"—not unusual in this House. But the hon Member persisted and this is what he said: I am entitled to ask for information. I want to ask whether the Home Secretary is prepared to give information as to the reason why the hon. and gallant Member has been arrested. That is all I want to know. Your predecessor replied: Not at this stage."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 23rd May, 1940; Vol. 361, c. 277.] At no subsequent stage has the House been able to debate or discuss the reasons for which the hon. and gallant Member for Peebles and Southern was arrested. Subsequently, on 5th June, the hon. and gallant Member for Peebles and Southern wrote a letter to the then Speaker. I think I am right in saying that that letter was read out before Questions were taken on 5th June. There was no previous warning. It would then have been in Order, so I am informed, for a Debate to have taken place upon that letter, and I have always regretted that your predecessor the late Speaker did not conceive it to be his duty to warn the House that, unless the Debate took place then, it could never take place except upon a substantive Motion, for which, as events have shown, the Government would be most unlikely to give time. The case of the hon. and gallant Member for Peebles and Southern has never, therefore, been discussed on its merits in this House.

The matter of his arrest, as Members will recall, was referred to the Committee of Privileges. I held the view then, and I hold it still, that the Committee of Privileges came to a wrong conclusion on the evidence before it; but that is only my personal view. On 11th December, 1940, a Debate took place as a result of which the House expressed agreement with the Report of the Committee of Privileges. In that Debate I tried to make my views clear. They are still my views. I make no claim for differentiation between Members of this House and members of the public outside who may commit wrongful acts, but I do claim, with all the vehemence I can command, that where it is alleged that a wrongful act has been done by a Member of this House, it is not only the right, but the duty, of this House to know why that particular Member has been arrested. Should a Member be arrested on a criminal charge, the charge is made public, but Regulation 18B is quite a different matter. There no charge is made public. The House has no means of knowing why the Executive has arbitrarily imprisoned one if its Members. In the past, as my hon. Friend has said, when suspending Habeas Corpus by special Act, this House has added riders to safeguard the position of Members of Parliament. I say we failed lamentably in our duty, in not insisting upon those safeguards in November, 1939. Let me remind the House of what was said by Sir Thomas Erskine May, when referring to the Habeas Corpus Acts. He says they have contained provisions to the effect that no Member of Parliament shall be imprisoned during the sitting of Parliament until the matter of which he stands suspected shall be first communicated to the House of which he shall be a Member and the consent of the House obtained for his commitment. That should be the position, I submit, under Regulation 18B. I am not concerned personally with the case of the hon. and gallant Member for Peebles and Southern, I am concerned with the case of any or every Member of this House, including, if I may say so, yourself, Mr. Speaker, because you stand in the same jeopardy as any of us. One of the fundamentals upon which a free Parliament is based is this: That this House shall have the right to the service of its Members. By arbitrarily imprisoning a Member of this House, the Executive is not only silencing his voice, and obstructing his vote here, but denying the elementary right of representation to his constituents. I contend that we owe a duty not to our own constituents only but to the constituents of all our fellow Members, and we are false to our trust, if we permit, as we have indeed permitted, one of our number to be removed from the service of this House, without our having been satisfied that it is right that he should be so removed. I contend that the Home Secretary has got and is using powers that Parliament never intended him to have, and should have taken steps to ensure that he never did possess.

At the present time the Home Secretary is prosecutor, judge, jury and court of appeal all rolled into one. "Ah," he says, "but there is the Advisory Committee." Very true; but is there not reason to believe that the Home Secretary may and does receive advice from individuals in the security services—M.I.5 and the like—which is not given to the Advisory Committee; and is it not true that he is under no obligation to accept the findings of the Advisory Committee? The prisoner himself is not allowed to have a trained legal adviser, when he appears before the Advisory Committee. He has to answer questions put to him by a body which is ostensibly informed of the allegations and all the circumstances leading to his arrest but which have been withheld from him. That is a mockery of justice. What safeguard is there, then, in the Advisory Committee? The Home Secretary says, "Ah, but if you do not like what I have done, you can challenge me in the House of Commons." When challenged he says, "I refuse to tell you why I have detained your constituent. I will not even tell you the charges against him." In effect, he says that, in challenging him, anyone is challenging the Government. Some of us know only too well how that is made out to be an expression of "No confidence in the conduct of the war." It is ridiculous to suggest that the House has any effective control over the Home Secretary, in respect of any individual case of alleged wrongful detention. On 1st December, 1943, a Debate took place on the subject of the release of Sir Oswald Mosley, and in the course of that Debate the Home Secretary said this—and I ask the House to mark it: There have been keen fights about this in the courts. I think my right hon. and learned Friend the Attorney-General will agree with me that the biggest issue that he has had to deal with was whether the Secretary of State had or had not reasonable cause to believe the things that are set out in the Defence Regulation."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 1St. December, 1943; Vol. 395, c. 461–2.] I contend, and I am not alone in contending, that that particular quotation definitely suggested that, in some way, the courts had gone into the question of whether the Home Secretary had, or had not been reasonable, but that was the question which the Attorney-General had steadfastly declined on grounds of law to discuss. In the Liversidge case, when it was before the House of Lords and when the House of Lords upheld the Attorney-General's view, Lord Justice Maugham said on 3rd November, 1941: The result is that there is no preliminary question of fact which can be submitted to the courts, and that in effect there is no appeal from the decision of the Secretary of State in these matters, provided only that he acts in good faith. I would point out that he is the sole judge of whether he himself is acting in good faith or not. As most of us are aware we are to-day flooded out with a spate of legislation by Regulations under which it is difficult, if not impossible, for the subject to challenge bureaucracy in the law courts.

It is said by some people that that is all right, because an injured subject can always come to his Member of Parliament and get redress. But is that really so? What can a Member of Parliament do about it? He can ask a Question, he can raise the matter on the Adjournment. Members know perfectly well how limited is the redress to be obtained by either of those two means. He can put a Motion on the Order Paper. There are only four occasions when, by the luck of the ballot, on going into Committee of Supply on the Navy, Army, Air or Civil Estimates, a Member of Parliament can take advantage of the ancient right: "No Supply without redress of grievance." Those are the only four occasions, as I understand it, when a Member of this House can take advantage of that long-established right. Under the excuse of war-time necessities the Government have taken all Private Members' time, and although the Order Paper contains numbers of Motions with the names of large numbers of Members attached—sometimes as many as 100 or more—unless the Government so choose, there is no means by which this House, representing as it does the people outside it, can get a Debate on a specific Motion followed, if necessary, by a Division on the specific subject of that Motion. Up till to-day—and I would join with my hon. Friend in thanking my right hon. Friend the Leader of the House for giving us this opportunity and I welcome the change of heart—every Parliamentary artifice has been employed to cloud the issue, to avoid a Division, to prevent embarrassment to this party or that, to this Minister or that. If that situation were allowed to continue, not only would we be abrogating our rights and duties—

Photo of Viscount  Turnour Viscount Turnour , Horsham and Worthing

I would like to ask whether it is really necessary for the hon. and gallant Member to thank the Government for having given us this day? Was it not secured by the pressure of the House, admirably led by the two hon. Members opposite?

Photo of Commander Sir Archibald Southby Commander Sir Archibald Southby , Epsom

With becoming modesty, I followed the old rule and I am sure that my Noble Friend would have put it in those same words.

Photo of Mr Frederick Pethick-Lawrence Mr Frederick Pethick-Lawrence , Edinburgh East

Ought the hon. and gallant Member not to thank all the Members of the House of Commons, any one of whom could have blocked the proposal?

Photo of Commander Sir Archibald Southby Commander Sir Archibald Southby , Epsom

Perhaps by a slip of the tongue I omitted that, but I did say that I supported my hon. Friend in what he had said. I was saying that if we were to allow that situation to continue, we should be abrogating our rights and duties as Members of Parliament, and not only that, but debasing the Parliamentary system in the eyes of the public at a time when the men and women in the Fighting Services are proving, day by day, that democracy can beat totalitirianism.

Many Members have, in peace-time, shown countless visitors round the House and they have shown them the book from which the pages were torn out by the hand of King James I. Do they realise what it was he tore out of the book? It was the protestation of 18th December, 1621, in which the Commons denied, by implication, the right of the King to imprison Members. In that protestation, they asserted that their rights and privileges were the ancient and undoubted birthright and inheritance of the subjects of England. They asserted with success that Parliament enjoyed the ancient and undoubted right to debate freely all matters affecting the subject. By what we did in the storm and stress of 1939, and by our failure to amend our work, we have been party to the introduction into this country of a system bearing an unpleasantly close resemblance to the lettre de cachet, the Gestapo, the secret informer and the concentration camp. Reform of the application of Regulation 18B is, in my opinion, long overdue. Some of us have striven to effect this reform, while at the same time safeguarding the security of the country and the conduct of its war effort. I suggest to the House, with all the vehemence and persuasiveness that I possess, that in a war designed to achieve justice and freedom for mankind, it is surely illogical that we should deny justice and their ancient rights to our own people.

Photo of Sir Geoffrey Mander Sir Geoffrey Mander , Wolverhampton East

I think the House is indebted to my hon. Friend the Member for Gravesend (Sir I. Albery) and my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Epsom (Sir A. Southby) for bringing forward this fundamental and vital matter. There is no doubt at all that any proposal of this kind in peace-time would be regarded as absolutely intolerable by the House and by the country, and it is only because of the general circumstances of the war that it has been put into effect. We want to see it brought to an end at the earliest possible moment that that can be done with due regard to security. I have always felt that it was quite wrong to look upon Regulation 18B as a judicial proceeding, or as having anything to do with justice; it is an act of war. It is power specially given to the Home Secretary, to protect this country in an hour of peril, on grounds of security and no other ground whatever, and while I have a great deal of sympathy with what the mover and seconder of the Motion have said, I cannot support a Motion which asks for duties now falling on the Home Secretary under 18B, to be transferred to a judicial tribunal, because, as I have said, I do not think it is a judicial matter at all.

The position is this: In this country in this war practically all—99·99 per cent.—are on one side, different from France where, I am told, people are 10 per cent. on one side, and 90 per cent. with us. Unfortunately, that 10 per cent. are rather influential and have plenty of money, but here we are practically unanimous. At the same time, there are certain individuals here who are, definitely, on the other side, and it is vital that we should not leave our enemies at large. That is the reason why this power has been given, inevitably and regrettably, but rightly, to the Home Secretary. I have no reason to think that the Home Secretary, acting with his Advisory Committee—true, he does not always take their advice—has not acted judicially and in the spirit which the House intended at the time when the Regulation was passed. We shall welcome the day when he gets up at that box and says, "I am now able to bring this procedure to an end, because the interests of the country no longer make it necessary." I do not think that my hon. Friend has been too fortunate in the occasion for bringing this Motion forward, at a time when security is being tightened up in all directions. We cannot hope for a statement of that kind at the present time, but it is right to force on the Home Secretary from time to time the necessary for justifying to the House the very special powers we have given to him.

Having said that, I want to turn to the question of Members of Parliament, which is in a quite different category. I do not think that this is a question which should be dealt with in Secret Session, when nearly every hon. Member is present, and, probably, all sorts of secret information would have to be brought out. It would not be a practical proposition, but I do think, and I have always held, that just as there is an Advisory Committee for the ordinary citizen, there should be an Advisory Committee of Members of Parliament to act in any case where a Member has to be detained. I suggest that such a Committee would be in the same position. It would be purely advisory to the Home Secretary, who could do what he liked, but it would avoid a loophole which might arise in future. It could not apply to any Home Secretary we have known, or know now, but there might be a Home Secretary at some future time, who would use these powers to imprison and keep imprisoned somebody he thought politically undesirable. If the right hon. Gentleman had an Advisory Committee, before which he must lay all the facts, and on which all parties in the House were represented, it would be impossible for him to "get away with that," because his political opponents would expose him at once, and would urge the setting up of such an advisory committee. As stated in the Motion, it is true that the Peebles and Southern constituency has been deprived of the services of its Member, and it is no answer that other constituencies, like Ross and Cromarty, and Rossendale, have also been deprived of their Members, although it is regrettable and undesirable. Reference is made in the Motion to damage to the prestige of the House, but what is damaging to its prestige far more, is to have a Member of this House holding and expressing such views as the hon. and gallant Member for Peebles and Southern (Captain Ramsay) has expressed.

The question arises of the way his case should be dealt with other than by an Advisory Committee. I think that a committee, possibly a Select Committee, ought to go into the question of expulsion. There is no doubt where the House stands on that. I would like to quote a relevant passage from Erskine May: No power exercised by the Commons is more undoubted than that of expelling a Member from the House as a punishment for grave offences. Sir Gilbert Campion, our Clerk, says in his book: The House exercises the right of expelling members who are, in its opinion, unfit to sit and who would bring discredit upon it. I am not necessarily advocating the expulsion of the hon. and gallant Member for Peebles and Southern, but I think that is a matter which ought to be considered by a body acting for the House to get us out of the difficulty in which we now find ourselves. It is true that according to precedent the hon. and gallant Member could stand again for election, but in this case he would not have the slightest chance of getting in again.

Photo of Mr Maurice Petherick Mr Maurice Petherick , Penryn and Falmouth

The hon. Member said that he was not necessarily advocating the expulsion of the hon. and gallant Member for Peebles and Southern (Captain Ramsay). Supposing expulsion was even considered, would the hon. and gallant Member have the right to appear before the House and state his case?

Photo of Sir Geoffrey Mander Sir Geoffrey Mander , Wolverhampton East

Most certainly. I do not suggest impeachment, because I imagine that that is a procedure which is rather out of date. I turn now to my final point, which I think is not without interest. The mover and seconder of the Motion spoke as if they did not know for what the hon. and gallant Member for Peebles and Southern had been detained. They said that no information had been given, and that the House was, generally, ignorant on this matter. Well, I will enlighten them, because there is a great deal of information which may have been overlooked or forgotten.

Photo of Mr Irving Albery Mr Irving Albery , Gravesend

I want it to be clearly understood that I did not ask for the information which the hon. Member is about to give; I said I have not the requisite information with which to defend the hon. and gallant Member.

Photo of Sir Geoffrey Mander Sir Geoffrey Mander , Wolverhampton East

I appreciate that, but, nevertheless, I will give it, not necessarily in response to what my hon. Friend and my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Epsom (Sir A. Southby) have said. In July, 1941, the hon. and gallant Member for Peebles and Southern brought an action for libel against "The New York Times Limited." I have the bulky reports of that case here and I wish to read certain extracts, in order to be as fair and as objective as possible. Now the summing-up of Mr. Justice Atkinson, well-known to many of us in this House. The passages I have selected are chosen in order that the House should be able to form some opinion as to the kind of information on which the Home Secretary may have acted. Of course, the right hon. Gentleman has a great deal more information than I am about to give, but I think this would be quite enough to satisfy most people. Mr. Justice Atkinson said: Now, this fear of a German defeat, this desire for a negotiated peace, led to three results: First, it brought him into direct conflict with the declared policy of the Government, the nation and the Dominions, namely, the destruction of Nazism and no bargaining with it, although he knows perfectly well that a peace treaty with Hitler is worth less, and equivalent only to a declaration of war. Secondly, it led him to work for peace by negotiation, by trying to persuade people that this war was merely a Jewish ramp and that they ought to aim for appeasement and a negotiated peace: that is, it led him to work against the declared policy of the Government. Thirdly, it led him to disapprove so strongly of Mr. Churchill and many Members of the Cabinet that he could say on oath in that box that he disapproved of them more strongly than he disapproved of that loathsome traitor Joyce.Their only crime, and his only grievance against them was that they were out for victory, determined to crush a brutal enemy and to restore liberty to Europe. An awkward position for a man professing loyalty, hating those responsible for the guidance and safety of our country more than he hated traitors, opposed to the victory on which they and the country, and the Empire are determined, secretly working to defeat this universal purpose. A loyal and patriotic subject? To whom was he loyal? … to-day he is pro-Hitler in his attack on Russia. His cross-examination on that point was most illuminating. After much wriggling, it came out perfectly clearly that, if he could have a wish fulfilled, that wish would be the defeat of Russia by Germany, regardless of the consequences to his country.At the end of 1938, or at the beginning of 1939, he formed what he called a club, but what seems to be more properly described as a secret society, known as the Right Club. It was anti-Judaic, that was quite clear. There was not a word in writing. There was nothing to disclose its real purpose, if its real purpose differs from that which he could aver at any moment of time. The only thing that existed was a book of members with a lock upon it, and that book contained the names of some 200 men and about 150 women. Among the earliest members was Joyce, known, I suppose, as 'Lord Haw-Haw.' There was the name of the convict Anna Wolkoff, of the convict Tyler Kent, of the convict Hiscocks. In cross-examination the greatest anxiety was shown by the hon. and gallant Member for Peebles and Southern lest the names of any members of the Right Club should be disclosed. He said it contained members of both Houses of Parliament, and said that particular members of the Club joined on the absolute understanding that, in no circumstances whatever, would their membership of the Club be disclosed. Mr. Justice Atkinson went on: When first asked about some of these people, 'Then it is said that both William Joyce and Anna Wolkoff were members of the Right Club?' his answer was 'yes, latterly just for a short time. They were at the end.' The truth was that Joyce's name is the eighth in a list of 200, and he must have been among the very very earliest members. Wolkoff's name comes 56th out of a list of some 100 or 150 names of the women, and later on, in cross-examination, he admitted that she was one of the earliest batches of members.Early in 1940, Anna Wolkoff met an American named Tyler Kent. He was a decoding confidential clerk in the employ of the American Embassy. Then she found out that he was abstracting—to use a word which will not perhaps offend Captain Ramsay—confidential documents from the Embassy, and that he was ready to disclose them. It would be remembered that, ultimately, Anna Wolkoff got ten years' penal servitude, in connection with two of those documents, under the Official Secrets Act, and for attempting to send messages in code to Joyce in Germany. It willl also be remembered that Tyler Kent got seven years' penal servitude, for offences in connection with documents abstracted from the Embassy, for stealing two of them, and for offences under the Official Secrets Act.

Photo of Mr Richard Stokes Mr Richard Stokes , Ipswich

Would my hon. Friend tell the House what these documents were about?

Photo of Sir Geoffrey Mander Sir Geoffrey Mander , Wolverhampton East

I am reading the summing up of Mr. Justice Atkinson, and I am not prepared to go further. It continues: When Anna Wolkoff found out what he was doing, she brought him to dine with the plaintiff. To her he was 'Jock'; to him she was 'Anna.' Why did she bring him to the plaintiff? Dared she, would she, have brought him to anybody to whom she could not have brought him safely? Within a week or two he tells me that he was visiting Tyler Kent's fiat, in order to read highly confidential documents, which he was quite sure had been wrongfully taken without authority from the American Embassy. He said there were four or five of such visits, but, of course, he saw Tyler Kent more often than that. Straight away, Tyler Kent became a member of the Right Club. Kent was arrested on 20th May, the plaintiff on the 23rd May.In April, during this very time, Norway had been invaded, we were fighting there, and there were stirring events taking place. While those events were going on, the plaintiff was keeping company with this treacherous thief and absorbing confidential documents. I have to determine what the real purpose of all that was, whether it was not his real object to see if he could find out anything which would help him to queer the pitch, of those who were fighting for victory. Two or three weeks before the 20th May, he deposited this locked book in a locker in Tyler Kent's rooms, for safety, he said, against burglars. It came out later that the attraction was the idea that those rooms would have the benefit of diplomatic privilege. I have yet to learn that burglars pay any respect to diplomatic privilege, but the police, of course, do. In his possession when he was arrested, were found certain documents. The first to which I am going to refer is one from a woman named Taylour. When first, asked about this letter he said be had very little, if any, recollection of it, and he was asked about Miss Taylour and if she ran a newspaper and his answer was I do not know, I hardly know her.' Then he was asked if he would like to read this letter, and he read it… The worst feature of that letter was the postscript, which was this. 'I organised a party for a newsreel theatre yesterday, where we spread ourselves out over the house, and successfuly hissed Churchill during his speech to the crew of the Hardy. Many others among the audience joined in, which was what I wanted to see.' That letter, he says, qualified her for membership of his secret society, and she was at once made a member.

Photo of Viscount  Turnour Viscount Turnour , Horsham and Worthing

Is it a criminal offence to hiss the Prime Minister?

Mr. Mender:

Surely the Noble Lord does not wish to associate himself—

Photo of Viscount  Turnour Viscount Turnour , Horsham and Worthing

As the hon. Member is attacking an hon. and gallant Gentleman, I think I am entitled to ask whether merely hissing the Prime Minister is, in his opinion, a criminal offence.

Photo of Sir Geoffrey Mander Sir Geoffrey Mander , Wolverhampton East

I am not attacking anyone. I am reading the judgment of Mr. Justice Atkinson.

Photo of Mr James Maxton Mr James Maxton , Glasgow Bridgeton

Is not the reading of the judgment of Mr. Justice Atkinson an entirely different matter from what we are discussing?

Photo of Sir Geoffrey Mander Sir Geoffrey Mander , Wolverhampton East

The facts are there. The facts which I am reading out enable us to form an opinion upon the grounds on which the Home Secretary may have detained the hon. and gallant Gentleman. Let me continue: How dared she write that to any man unless she knew she could do it safely? Our men were fighting in. Norway and Belgium, things were not going well, the eyes of the country were turning more and more towards Mr. Churchill, and it will be remembered that on 10th May, within a few days, he became our Prime Minister. The plaintiff could receive that letter and do nothing but make her a member of his club. This passage deals with his activity as a Member of the House, showing that he used his position here to endeavour to help the enemy: In the House on 20th March, 1940, he asked the Minister of Information, 'Whether his attention had been drawn to the nightly talks at such-and-such a time, on a short-wave length of so many metres, broadcast by a new station whose signature tune is "Loch Lomond," to the effect that international Jewish finance, and Continental freemasonry are pursuing a policy of world domination by wars and revolutions, and credit monopoly; whether he proposes to reply to this propaganda, and whether he will confer with the B.B.C. to demolish these arguments objectively, instead of avoiding the issues by merely labelling them as German propaganda.'

Photo of Captain Edward Cobb Captain Edward Cobb , Preston

Is there any limit to the stuff that an hon. Member may read?

Photo of Mr Douglas Clifton Brown Mr Douglas Clifton Brown , Hexham

The hon. Member is making quotations at very great length and I am not quite sure that all this is very relevant.

Photo of Viscount  Turnour Viscount Turnour , Horsham and Worthing

I feel that we are in a delicate position. Here is an hon. and gallant Gentleman who has been in prison for four years. I hope some kind of discretion will be exercised in criticising him personally, and in quoting a judgment in court.

Photo of Mr Reginald Manningham-Buller Mr Reginald Manningham-Buller , Daventry

Is it in Order to go into all this, when the hon. and gallant Gentleman has no opportunity of being present?

Photo of Mr Douglas Clifton Brown Mr Douglas Clifton Brown , Hexham

This is a particularly difficult situation. It is wrong to impute unworthy motives on Members wherever they may be.

Photo of Sir Geoffrey Mander Sir Geoffrey Mander , Wolverhampton East

I appreciate the difficulty of the position, but I am reading this in order to assist the House in forming an opinion as to the hon. and gallant Gentleman's general attitude towards the war, and towards this country. I am quoting the summing-up of the judge in the trial, when counsel were heard on both sides, and this is the final conclusion. In view of your suggestion, Sir, I will omit one or two passages, though there is a great deal that is extremely interesting, and I will come to my final quotation. It is: I am convinced, as I believe any jury would be convinced, that his claim to loyalty is false. He shared many of the political views of the Nazi regime, approving their propaganda, endeavouring to persuade our people that they were fighting only in the interests of, and at the dictation of Jewry, and not merely did he approve their propaganda, but he did what he could to assist them in that propagation and took steps of his own to propagate the same kind of thing. He, on behalf of his so-called club, enrolled the woman Taylour, on the strength of that exhibit to which I have referred, he enrolled the thief Tylor Kent as a reward, I suppose, for what he was doing, and enrolled him knowing that confidential documents had been wickedly stolen or abstracted if he prefers the word from the American Embassy; he took advantage of that crime, and I am satisfied that he took advantage of it in his endeavour to discover something which he could use to further his views. … I do not know exactly what 'fifth column' means and I do not know that it has precise definition, but I am convinced that Hitler woud call him friend. He was disloyal, in heart and soul, to our King and Government, and our people fighting and dying not for appeasement, not for preservation of Nazidom, but for victory and its destruction.

Photo of Viscount  Turnour Viscount Turnour , Horsham and Worthing

Does the hon. Member know, when he quotes this about people dying, that the hon. and gallant Gentleman's own son died most gallantly?

Photo of Sir Geoffrey Mander Sir Geoffrey Mander , Wolverhampton East

We are dealing with the father. The hon. and gallant Gentleman brought this condemnation on himself. He was ready to further, did further and would have continued to further, propaganda of that German type. There was nothing contructive about his efforts. They were purely destructive, intended to be destructive of that will to win which is essential, above all else, for victory. I believe that any jury would find that the first two matters complained of were justified, that the expression 'fifth column' applied to him beyond question, and that he was before the war, pro-Hitler.

Photo of Mr Maurice Petherick Mr Maurice Petherick , Penryn and Falmouth

Were the whole of these extracts made from Mr. Justice Atkinson's summing up or were they taken in part from speeches made in Hyde Park?

Photo of Sir Geoffrey Mander Sir Geoffrey Mander , Wolverhampton East

I have said several times that they are a direct extract from the summing up of Mr. Justice Atkinson, and they are drawn from no other source.

Photo of Mr Pierse Loftus Mr Pierse Loftus , Lowestoft

The question of the guilt or innocence of the hon. and gallant Gentleman is not the point at issue. We are dealing with the principle of the detention of a Member of Parliament for which no reason has been given to his colleagues in the House. Is it not a fact that in 1715, when Members of the House were fighting against the King's Government, the House insisted on knowing and giving permission for their arrest?

Photo of Sir Geoffrey Mander Sir Geoffrey Mander , Wolverhampton East

I suggested that this House ought to have an opportunity of investigating this case through a tribunal of inquiry, which might possibly lead to the hon. and gallant Member's expulsion. There is undoubtedly a case—I do not say that it is made out—for expelling him. On the general principle, I entirely agree that we want to get rid of this as soon as possible, but as far as a Member of Parliament is concerned, his case ought to be considered, in my opinion, by Mem- bers of the House. I read the extract because there is obviously a lack of knowledge on the subject. I imagine that the Home Secretary cannot give us all the information he has, but this will probably be some guide to us.

Photo of Mr Reginald Manningham-Buller Mr Reginald Manningham-Buller , Daventry

I do not propose to follow the hon. Member into all the irrelevances that he has introduced into the Debate. The more he went on, the more it seemed to me that he was qualified to be the author of the next book to follow "Your M.P." The reasons he put forward for introducing them are wholly irrelevant to the Motion. I do not think he can have read the last words of the Motion: That the detention ought to cease unless justified to the House, if necessary in Secret Session. If he had read those words, it does not appear to me that he would have sought to pre-judge the issue and to prejudice the House in advance against the case of the hon. and gallant Gentleman, whatever it may be. He started off by introducing three reasons mentioned by Mr. Justice Atkinson as the basis of the criticism he made on the hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for Peebles and Southern (Captain Ramsay). One was conflict with the Government, the second was peace by negotiation, and the third disapproval of Mr. Churchill. When the hon. Member goes from this side of the House to that, I should have thought he put himself in peril on two of those issues.

Photo of Sir Geoffrey Mander Sir Geoffrey Mander , Wolverhampton East

I should like to know on how many occasions the hon. Member has voted against this Government, which he was returned to support. I have always voted for them.

Photo of Mr Reginald Manningham-Buller Mr Reginald Manningham-Buller , Daventry

The hon. Member can easily find that out for himself, if he will look at the literature published in this House, and not go searching through the shorthand notes of judgments As far as my observation goes, he is not always here to support the Government. I am not going to enter into any speculation into the causes of the hon. and gallant Gentleman's detention. I have never had the pleasure of meeting him, and I am not concerned with his case. What I am concerned with is the principle. Reference has been made to the 39th Article of Magna Charta. May I remind the House of the 40th: To no one will we sell, to no one will we refuse to no one will we delay justtice. Those two Articles have been suspended for the greater part of five years, and we are considering how long that suspension is to be continued or whether it can be modified in part. May I cite a passage from Hallam's "Middle Ages" with reference to these two Articles of Magna Charta: It is obvious that these words, interpreted by any honest court of law, convey an ample security for the two main rights of civil society. From the era of King John's Charter it must have been a clear principle of our constitution that no man can be detained in prison without trial. Whether courts of justice framed the writ of Habeas Corpus in conformity to the spirit of this Clause or found it already in their register, it became from that era the right of every subject to demand it. That writ rendered more actively remedial by the Statute of Charles II, but founded on the broad basis of Magna Carta, is the principal bulwark of English liberty; and if ever temporary circumstances or the doubtful plea of political necessity, shall lead men to look on its denial with apathy, the most distinguishing characteristic of our Constitution will be effaced. Those words were written some time ago.

Photo of Mr Andrew MacLaren Mr Andrew MacLaren , Stoke-on-Trent Burslem

And they are consistent with Liberal principles.

Photo of Mr Reginald Manningham-Buller Mr Reginald Manningham-Buller , Daventry

I recognise, and I think we all recognise, the political necessity that existed in 1939, but the question we have to consider is whether that same political necessity exists now. This Debate shows that we are not among those who look on this denial of justice with apathy, and I would like to join with the mover and seconder of this Motion in expressing thanks for the fact that this Debate is taking place on the Motion and not on a Vote of Supply. If it were taken on the Vote it might have appeared as if we were in some way desirous of criticising the Home Secretary in his administration of this Regulation. I do not wish to criticise him for that at all. I say that it is wrong to leave the sole power of depriving a man of his liberty in the hands of one man in this country, whoever that man may be. It is wrong that that one man should be subjected to pressure of all sorts, pressure from one side of one kind and from another side of another kind, as to how he should decide a matter which is really one for judicial determination.

I think that there is a way in which we can preserve the power of the Home Secretary to lock up people in an emergency, and, at the same time, go some way to restore those ancient liberties which we surrendered in 1939. I cannot believe that the Secretary of State or any civil servant is any better judge than anyone else who is impartial and independent of whether or not there is reasonable ground for supposing a man should be detained. I cannot believe it. If that be true, why should it not be provided that the Advisory Committee should be altered and called the Appeal Committee, which should consist of men well known for their independence and impartiality, whose decisions would be respected throughout the country, and whose decisions would be final? I would like to see the Home Secretary retain his power of putting people in detention, subject to this, that within, say, three months, they would be brought before this appeal committee. It could sit in camera, there would be no evidence disclosed, but the appeal committee, consisting of well known people, appointed, it may be, by the Lord Chancellor, would have to decide on matters put before it whether there was reasonable ground for detention. I know the difficulties about proof on the strict laws of evidence, and I would not suggest that the tribunal should be bound by them or by strict proof. It would suffice, in my view, if it could exercise its own judgment on such materials as were put before it—the same materials as those which the Minister and the civil servant had before them. That would be a real step towards the safeguard which should exist for securing that there is no abuse of the liberty of the individual and preventing individuals from being at the complete mercy of the Executive.

Photo of Colonel Alan Gandar-Dower Colonel Alan Gandar-Dower , Penrith and Cockermouth

Will my hon. Friend make clear that the appeal tribunal decisions should be final and not able to be overridden by the Home Secretary?

Photo of Mr Reginald Manningham-Buller Mr Reginald Manningham-Buller , Daventry

I am much obliged to my hon. and gallant Friend. I was coming to that. The whole duty, as the hon. and gallant Member for Epsom (Sir A. Southby) said, of the Advisory Committee in the present arrangements is to advise, so that the Minister remains wholly responsible. Under my suggestion the appeal committee would be the final tribunal, and I think that its decisions would be accepted throughout the country. I have noticed with apprehension the growth of the belief that to secure justice we have only to have an advisory committee whose report shall be secret and not disclosed to anyone, and which anyone forming part of the Executive would be at liberty to ignore.

There has been one case which has come before the courts where the evidence on which a man was detained was investigated and subjected to cross-examination. I wish to emphasise the point that it is the most difficult thing in the world to judge the merits of a case from documents in files. You read one letter and then another, and each, taken by itself, does not contain much, but taken together they build up of necessity a sort of atmosphere of suspicion, such as the hon. Member for East Wolverhampton (Mr. Mander) seemed to be creating Yet, if you saw the people and heard them give evidence, you might well come to the conclusion that it was nothing more nor less than a snowball of slander.

Photo of Sir Geoffrey Mander Sir Geoffrey Mander , Wolverhampton East

The court did hear it in this case.

Photo of Mr Reginald Manningham-Buller Mr Reginald Manningham-Buller , Daventry

I was not dealing with that case. There was the case of a gentleman who was employed by a local authority. He was, in view of reports made, detained for some time. When he was released he was able to bring an action in the High Court because he had been dismissed by the local authority. In that action the local authority sought to justify the dismissal by calling the evidence on which the detention was made. The judge, Mr. Justice Hilbery, had some strong things to say about the value of the evidence. He did not accept one word of it. That man lost his job, he lost his pension rights and he lost his reputation. He has been fortunate because, by good chance, he had an opportunity of clearing himself by bringing this action. But that man has lost a great deal. What is his subsequent history? He joined up in the Forces in the ranks and gained a commission.

I do not desire to criticise the Home Secretary. I am sure that he and his civil servants are doing their best, but a task has been placed on their shoulders which should not rest on them. It is a judicial task and it should be determined by a judicial body, specially appointed, if need be, of Members of all parties. I would like the tribunal to have the power to say, "We think, on the matters disclosed to us, that there is a case here to go to trial. We have power to commit you to trial, and we do so." The hon. Member for East Wolverhampton quoted some passages from Mr. Justice Atkinson's judgment, to the effect that he was convinced by the evidence brought before him as to the disloyalty of the hon. and gallant Member for Peebles and Southern. If that be so, why was there no trial? It is often a matter of difficulty to get evidence which can be used in a court of law. It is much easier to collect suspicion, and suspicion is much harder to refute. There is one danger about acting on suspicion. If people know you are acting on suspicion and you can lock up a man indefinitely on suspicion, why bother to get the evidence which you would have to bring before the judge at the Old Bailey, which may result in getting a long term of penal servitude? It is much easier to get him locked up under 18B. There exists that tendency to collect suspicion and not to go on to collect the evidence necessary to prove his guilt. I would like the appeal committee to have the power to commit for trial, and also the power to say to the individual, "We have heard what the Minister and his representatives have to say. We have heard what you have to say. We have come to the conclusion, considering all that we have heard, that there is reasonable ground for your detention."

With regard to the second part of the Motion, I only desire to say this. When we look back into history we find that among one of the chief of the ancient rights and liberties that you, Mr. Speaker, claim on our behalf is the right of freedom from arrest for 40 days before the Session and 40 days thereafter. That period of 40 days is taken from Magna Charta, and it was the time in those days which it took to get from distant parts of the country back to this House. The real reason of the freedom from arrest of Members of this House was to enable them to perform their duties. I feel that we ought not to let this mattter in regard to the hon. and gallant Member for Peebles and Southern to rest where it is. Either his detention should be justified to this House in Secret Session, or he should be released to perform his duty. If it is justified to this House, then this House, in the interests of the constituents of Peeblesshire, ought to exercise the right of expelling its Member. It is fogging the issue to assert, as the hon. Member for East Wolverhampton did, that that case is analogous to the case of those Members who have gone overseas in the Forces to serve their country while Members of this House.

Photo of Mr John Wilmot Mr John Wilmot , Lambeth Kennington

This is a very grave matter, and the House is indebted to the mover and seconder of the Motion for the manner in which they performed their task. They have kept this serious and historic subject free from prejudice, and they have raised a question of liberty which must make a deep appeal to every Member of the British Parliament. I am bound to confess that every instinct that I have moves me to agree with it. In principle I wish I could support the Motion, but I cannot and I think there are some considerations to which we have not yet given proper weight in this discussion. The first part of the Motion asks for a change in the method of administering this painful and obnoxious business. If there is a better way than has already been found of doing what in war time must be done, I am sure that every Member would like to find it. The contention embodied in the first part of the Motion is that this is a legal and judicial matter and would be more properly and safely discharged by some legal or judicial authority. It is upon that point that I cannot follow the hon. Members. I express the view with all humility because I am not learned in matters of law; but it seems to me that it is really not, fundamentally, a legal matter. If it were, it should go to the courts, but, in time of war, the primary responsibility resting upon the Executive is the safety of the Realm. That is their over-riding duty. It must, in such grave circumstances and only in such grave circumstances, come before considerations of legality. The whole justification for the 18B procedure rests upon this, that a chief executive officer of the State, performing his function in defending the State from a foreign enemy, must sometimes be driven to do things without legal sanction or proof. If that is admitted, it must follow that this is not a judicial matter.

Photo of Mr Francis Bowles Mr Francis Bowles , Nuneaton

Will my hon. Friend allow me to interrupt to point out that the Home Secretary has, on numerous occasions, said that he exercised this duty in a judicial manner?

Photo of Mr John Wilmot Mr John Wilmot , Lambeth Kennington

Yes, I think the word "judicial" is capable of several uses, so perhaps I will use the word "legal" instead. The Home Secretary must, of course, discharge his function with a fair and judicial mind, but it seems to me that he has inevitably to have regard to a number of surrounding circumstances, possibly outside the legal evidence and which a court could not consider, such as: What is the state of emergency? How grave is the threat from the foreign enemy? How wide and serious are the subversive movements in which some person, against whom he is contemplating action, is involved? What is the real danger to the State? Is it safe to let that man be at large although the evidence against him is not conclusive? Is it wise to take, in advance of his doing something you may think he is going to do, action which would never be permitted on the evidence by a court of law? If the Home Secretary was convinced that some person about to commit an act which gravely imperilled the safety of the Realm and the lives of fellow citizens and soldiers, and that the man remaining at large put in jeopardy the safety of the people of the State, I suggest that this House would support him in saying: "I have no right to leave him at liberty, even though I could not secure his conviction in a court."

For those reasons I have been forced very reluctantly to the conclusion, after giving this matter much serious thought, that it cannot be handed over to a judicial tribunal and that it must remain the function of the Minister, who has to take decisions of a character involving policy, and not merely concerned with the law. If we did take the step that was contemplated in the Motion and did follow the advice of the hon. and gallant Member for Epsom (Sir A. Southby), and the hon. Member for Gravesend (Sir I. Albery), look at the difficulties which would follow. The tribunal he seeks should be of the highest character. It would have to adhere most rigidly to the highest canons of legal justice. What a difficult position that tribunal would be in if, for reasons of law, it was bound to release somebody who every Member of that tribunal was convinced was in fact a grave danger to the State. If it gave way to those other feelings of national duty and put considerations of national safety before strictly legal considerations, we should be reducing and debauching the whole conception of legal practice in this country. I submit with all respect and humility that we are bound to come to the conclusion in the end that this is a matter which must be discharged with regard to far wider considerations than those of purely legal evidence.

The second part of the Motion speaks of the special position of Members of this House who may be detained under this Regulation. This is a very painful matter. It is a shocking thing that a Member of Parliament should be so detained for all these years, without a charge being brought against him and without any opportunity of publicly defending himself except to take the opportunity that was given to him of appearing before the Advisory Committee and later the Committee of Privileges but the latter on a very narrow issue. It is obvious that a Member of this House is in some way in a different position from a private citizen. But very wisely Members of Parliament have always been very loath to claim and Parliament reluctant to grant any kind of special position to its Members that it would not grant to their constituents except in pursuance of their Parliamentary duties. I feel, for that reason, that the second part of the Motion cannot be accepted. Any one of the citizens of this country is liable, if he takes certain action, to fall within the provisions of 18B, and all the reasons that have been advanced for the special review of the case of the hon. and gallant Member for Peebles and Southern really hold good in the case of every citizen.

Photo of Commander Sir Archibald Southby Commander Sir Archibald Southby , Epsom

Surely my hon. Friend would admit that there is a difference in the case of the Member of Parliament from that of the ordinary citizen. In the event of the ordinary citizen falling under the provisions of this Regulation he has nobody but his Member of Parliament to whom he can plead his case, but if the voice of his Member of Parliament is to be stilled by the same arbitrary action of the Executive, there is no one who can speak for him.

Photo of Mr George Mathers Mr George Mathers , Linlithgowshire

The fact is that the hon. and gallant Member for Peebles and Southern has had his case pled by his Member of Parliament.

Photo of Commander Sir Archibald Southby Commander Sir Archibald Southby , Epsom

I am not thinking of the case of the hon. and gallant Member for Peebles and Southern at all, but of any Member of Parliament and any citizen.

Photo of Mr John Wilmot Mr John Wilmot , Lambeth Kennington

I hardly think that that is so. I am coming to the very grave aspect of this matter that the electors of this constituency are disfranchised during the hon. and gallant Member's detention. It is indeed a very grave matter, and we have to consider it; but the fact does remain that every citizen detained has as much right as a Member of Parliament to justice, and to any additional consideration for his case. The Member of Parliament should not be put in a better position than the ordinary citizen.

Photo of Mr Quintin Hogg Mr Quintin Hogg , Oxford

I am anxious not to interrupt my hon. Friend and to disturb his argument, but will he not admit that a Member of Parliament is in a peculiarly vulnerable position, as distinct from any other citizen, because any other citizen, in time of war, is not compelled to undertake political activity whereas it is the duty of a Member of Parliament at all times to engage in controversies on matters of State, even during war-time?

Photo of Mr Pierse Loftus Mr Pierse Loftus , Lowestoft

The only safeguard at present, I think the hon. Member for Kennington (Mr. Wilmot) will agree, for the rights of the ordinary citizen against the Executive is his Member of Parliament. Therefore, there should be special provision to secure the Member's freedom from arbitrary arrest by the Executive, as he is the only power in the country that can check the Executive.

Photo of Mr John Wilmot Mr John Wilmot , Lambeth Kennington

That would be so, if all the Members of Parliament had been apprehended.

Photo of Mr John Wilmot Mr John Wilmot , Lambeth Kennington

Yes, in theory, and also in fact. This House has not been closed down. All the other Members of Parliament are here. The matter has been kept very much before the attention of Members and all the constituents of this hon. and gallant Member have, of course, the service of all the Members of Parliament; but still, the fact remains that they are disfranchised. It is a very serious matter. The hon. Member for Oxford (Mr. Hogg) raised a point.

Photo of Mr Quintin Hogg Mr Quintin Hogg , Oxford

I was asking the hon. Member whether he would not agree that the Member of Parliament is in a peculiarly vulnerable position, because it is his duty to engage in controversy, even in time of war.

Photo of Mr John Wilmot Mr John Wilmot , Lambeth Kennington

That is very true, but the Home Secretary gave evidence before the Committee of Privileges—and in the absence of that evidence a very different situation would have arisen—that he had not acted, in detaining this hon. and gallant Member, in respect of anything which the hon. and gallant Member had done in this House or in pursuance of the duties of this House. If that were not so, I think the whole question of Privilege would have been decided otherwise. In fact, the action which was taken by the Home Secretary has nothing whatever to do with the hon. and gallant Member's actions as a Member of Parliament. I think we are driven to the conclusion that if we did adopt the proposals in the second part of the Motion, we should be giving special privileges to a Member of Parliament outside his functions as a Member, special privileges which did not apply to the ordinary citizen. I suggest with the greatest respect that at this time of all times this House should be very loath indeed to plead for privileges and for protection that it is not affording to the ordinary citizen. For that reason also it seems to me that the Motion should be rejected.

There is finally the question of the disfranchisement of the constituents. That is a matter which this House must regard very seriously. What remedy is there that we can afford to the disfranchised electors? It has been suggested somewhat obliquely that if there is a case to apprehend and detain a Member, then that is a sufficient case to unseat him and to give the electors of his division the opportunity of electing another Member. I should be very reluctant to agree with that. The powers in the hands of the Executive are, in truth, wide enough, and to put in the hands of a Member of the Government or a committee of politicians the power to unseat a Member of Parliament seems a precedent that we should not establish. There can be none of us who do not regard the powers vested in the Home Secretary with much apprehension, and I am sure the Home Secretary would agree with us about that. It is not a responsibility that any man would willingly give or lightly take, but I do not think we shall escape from the dilemma by the proposals of this Motion. We must accept it that this is one of the costs of fighting for our freedoms in this war. When history is written, it may well linger in the minds of men long after us, that one of the gravest injuries that Hitler did the world was that he made free men do this kind of thing; but it is part of our armour and our defence. I think, in the light of all the circumstances, I shall be compelled to vote against the Motion, although I shall do it with great regret. We must end the whole business as soon as we can.

Photo of Mr Francis Bowles Mr Francis Bowles , Nuneaton

My hon. Friend has talked of the quasi-judicial manner in which the Home Secretary has to exercise this decision, to some extent in a political atmosphere; but may I ask him whether it is not the case that the Home Secretary has always said that the court of appeal is the House of Commons, and that that involves a Vote of Confidence in the Government?

Photo of Mr John Wilmot Mr John Wilmot , Lambeth Kennington

With your permission, Sir, I would like to answer that question in this way. I have always regarded it as one of the weaker parts of the argument I have been using, that when it is said the House of Commons still has the power in its hands, and can exercise it by challenging the decisions of the Home Secretary by one device or another, the weakness of the situation is that the vote which follows is a Vote of Confidence. I have felt that is a weakness, but when one looks at it I do not see how it can be otherwise. After all, we are challenging the judgment of a principal Secretary of State, his judgment of the facts available to him and upon which he has acted, and if in the opinion of the House he is wrong, then obviously there must be a change. Such a man can no longer continue to exercise those functions. I do agree that this is one of the most difficult obstacles to the acceptance of the argument I have tried to put. Nevertheless I see no escape while such powers continue to be necessary for the winning of the war.

Photo of Mr Reginald Manningham-Buller Mr Reginald Manningham-Buller , Daventry

I would like to ask the hon. Member two questions. The first concerns his point about an appellant tribunal only being able to deal with strict legal evidence. He did not deal with my point that it could act on the same materials as the Home Secretary, and not be bound by legal evidence. How is the House of Commons, which will not have the material before it, to express an opinion and form a judgment, on whether the Home Secretary is right?

Photo of Mr John Wilmot Mr John Wilmot , Lambeth Kennington

I am very grateful to the hon. Member for raising these points. The difficulty I have on the first point is this, that the Home Secretary acts on information obtained from many sources, and there may well arise circumstances in which he is unable to disclose his evidence and is unable to disclose the source and strength of it. It may well be that in the absence of that secret evidence which he is unable to disclose, even to the House, the tribunal might come to a contrary decision, which would result in the release of somebody regarding whom if the tribunal had known the facts it would have decided otherwise. I think the same thing applies in answer to the hon. Member's second point, that the House would be in the difficulty, even if it discussed the question in Secret Session, that it would be impossible in many cases to put the House in possession of the evidence upon which the Home Secretary had come to a judgment. It is these most difficult and distasteful facts of this hateful situation which drive us to the conclusion that our only course is to leave the matter as it is until we can end it.

Photo of Sir Alexander Erskine-Hill Sir Alexander Erskine-Hill , Edinburgh North

I am not greatly concerned about the comfort of the hon. and gallant Member for Peebles and Southern (Captain Ramsay) and, with respect, I am not concerned very greatly with the comfort of the Home Secretary. What does seem to me of supreme importance is that this House should be comforted with the knowledge that it has satisfied itself that the extraordinary powers which have been taken are powers which this House ought to continue to give to the Government. We are all to blame for the fact that this question has not come up sooner for consideration. It is not the fault of the Government when the House of Commons does not insist that a matter of this importance should be debated. The Home Secretary was perfectly right and had the full authority of this House at the start, when the Regula- tions were first put into force. The House gave him that authority, and I have no objection at all to the first exercise of his authority. But I think that these powers have continued for a long while without adequate remedy, and that the time has come when it is the duty of the Government to explain to the House what necessity there is for the continuance of these powers.

At the time when these powers were sought from this House it was in a mood to be very generous to the Government in the powers it gave. It was some four years ago, when there was a definite danger of invasion, and there was a very special necessity, particularly in view of the facts we had learned at the time France collapsed, to take special steps. There are the ups and downs of war, as we realise to-day, but taking it by and large the House ought to consider this question in the light of whether the exigencies of war which may come upon us entitled us any longer to give these powers exactly as they are. That is why I welcome this Debate, and am grateful to those who raised it at this time, and have spoken so admirably. The unfortunate thing from some points of view is that when the Debate involves a question of a Member of this House, it raises questions as to whether we ought first to discuss the general question or the question which is particularly applicable to this House. As to the general question, I listened with great interest to the hon. Gentleman the Member for Kennington (Mr. Wilmot). I do not agree that the proper solution is to have the decision made by some political person, because I think the advantages he seeks to obtain from that course can be got by having the final decision arrived at by a judicial body, which can weigh the evidence and, at the same time, it may be in camera, or it might even be arranged in private, can hear the views of the Home Secretary. Such a measure would give this House and the people of this country a great deal more confidence.

Photo of Mr John Wilmot Mr John Wilmot , Lambeth Kennington

May I ask this question, as it is such an important matter? How does the hon. and learned Member get over the difficulty that the Home Secretary may have acted upon evidence which has been obtained from sources which no Government in time of war can disclose?

Photo of Sir Alexander Erskine-Hill Sir Alexander Erskine-Hill , Edinburgh North

If the tribunal is the sort which I maintain it should be, I can see no difficulty, even in time of war, about their being told what are the views of the Home Secretary. In any event I can perfectly well see that whatever may have been the case in the year 1940, the question the House has to consider now is whether these considerations apply just now.

Photo of Mr John Wilmot Mr John Wilmot , Lambeth Kennington

I am grateful to the hon. and learned Member for giving way to me again. It is important to remember, I think, that it is not the views of the Home Secretary which the tribunal would wish to consider, it is the evidence upon which the decision was made. Surely at this time, as in 1940, the war is still on.

Photo of Sir Alexander Erskine-Hill Sir Alexander Erskine-Hill , Edinburgh North

I am obliged to the hon. Gentleman. I used the word "views" perhaps when what I intended to say was the material upon which the Home Secretary acted. I think in that way there would be a feeling that matters had been dealt with in a fair way, and it would get over the difficulty of a member of the Executive interfering with a Member of this House, which I think is highly undesirable, as I understood the hon. Member for Kennington agreed.

Photo of Sir Alexander Erskine-Hill Sir Alexander Erskine-Hill , Edinburgh North

As regards the ordinary man who has been detained for years, I pay a tribute here to my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary. I think that when questions have been brought up he has gone into cases with extreme fairness and extreme care. My objection is not his use of the powers this House has given to him. What I am questioning is whether these powers continue to be necessary.

Photo of Mr Frederick Pethick-Lawrence Mr Frederick Pethick-Lawrence , Edinburgh East

I have followed the argument of the hon. and learned Gentleman with a great deal of attention and interest. He is a lawyer and I would like to ask him this question as a lawyer: does he think that the kind of person whom he is contemplating would sit on this tribunal, would feel at all capable of exercising the kind of non-judicial powers which the hon. and learned Member wishes to impose on them? I have heard it said in regard to similar other questions made to eminent judges, that they would very much object to forming any judgment without the full process of law. I think it will be clear to my hon. and learned Friend that they cannot have the full process of law in this case. They will hear it on necessarily ex parte evidence which cannot be cross-examined. Does he think that the eminent judges he contemplates having on the tribunal would be in a position, or wish to be in a position, to form the kind the judgment which the Home Secretary has formed?

Photo of Sir Alexander Erskine-Hill Sir Alexander Erskine-Hill , Edinburgh North

I am much obliged to my right hon. Friend. I think that the judges who examine these cases would have to discover whether there was reasonable cause, which is pre-eminently a question of law. They are able to arrive at a decision on a mixed question of fact and law. As far as ex parte evidence is concerned., having heard the actual material which is before the Home Secretary in each case that would make it eminently possible for them to do it. The personal views of some judges one way or another as to their willingness to serve hardly arises, because I have no doubt some would be found who would act in that capacity. I do not know if it is an ideal solution, but I think the time has come when the House must consider whether some solution of this sort is not better than allowing discretion to any Minister, however good. When one considers the question of a member of the Executive interfering with the rights of a Member of this House to sit, and what is even more important, interfering with the rights of his constituents to be represented, I think there is a clear case for consideration by this House as to whether that can be justified. I am not saying that the Home Secretary cannot justify it. But I want him to justify it to the House, and I am saying it is highly desirable that he should do so before the House consents to a continuation of the power.

It will be within the knowledge of everyone that a long time ago it was a right of His Majesty to be represented in this House by the representatives of the shires and the boroughs of his Kingdom. But now there is a corresponding right, the right of the constituencies to be represented in this House, which is equally important. Upon that this House has a clear duty to see that no powers are taken away from this House to decide whether a constituency should be deprived of its representation. I think this House must consider whether by the action we have taken we have in any way deprived this House of its ancient rights since the year this war broke out. I would assure the Government that the view of those who are anxious the matter should be considered represents in no way a hostile attitude, but there is a desire for the House to have explained to them and have proved to them that the powers which are sought to be continued should still be granted.

Upon that point, all I would say is this, and I shall be short because I know that there are many Members who are just as anxious as I was to take part in the Debate. The position so far, to my mind, appears absolutely clear. The circumstances are quite different from what they were when the proposals were first put before the House. The House is entitled to ask the Home Secretary to prove to it the necessity for the continuance of these emergency measures. The onus is upon him to convince the House—and that onus I feel sure he will be willing to discharge. I will only add that, however serious the situation may become in war, this country has always seen to it that whatever steps it took were in consonance with the traditions of this country, and that any steps which departed from those principles were taken only while the emergency lasted. I feel certain that the whole House will agree that this is no party matter, that we want the minimum exercise of these powers that is compatible with the national interest, and that we want these extreme powers removed at the earliest possible moment.

Photo of Mr John McGovern Mr John McGovern , Glasgow Shettleston

I hope that it may be possible to examine this question from a detached point of view, without regard to party or class, and that we may give our very best thought to the question of whether there is not a great danger that injustices may be perpetrated behind the screen of what we might call national security. Although my party take a line antagonistic to that of the overwhelming number of Members of this House in relation to the war, we would never deny the Executive or the House the right, in an emergency, to secure what they regard as the interests of the State. During that emergency they may not have had time to examine the history and the accusations which may have been made against a large number of people, and they rounded those people up for security reasons. The net was cast very widely.

Then there should have been a most careful sifting out of all the evidence and accusations, by persons who could be depended upon to apply a judicial mind and to be as impartial as possible in the circumstances. I regret that there is a tendency on the part of a number of Members to look at a question of this kind from the point of view of who is the Minister who is being assailed, instead of from that of the principle. One hears Labour Members saying, "We must defend Morrison." But Morrison is not being challenged as Morrison, or as a member of the Labour Party. He is being challenged as a member of the Executive, who is responsible for some act of the Executive, and it is our duty, no matter what party we belong to, to examine the matter in the most careful manner possible.

Photo of Mr Frederick Montague Mr Frederick Montague , Islington West

The hon. Member ought to state to the House by what authority he suggests that the Labour Party have not given fair, impartial consideration to this matter, and that we have been influenced by personalities. He should, at least, give some evidence to justify that statement which he has made.

Photo of Mr John McGovern Mr John McGovern , Glasgow Shettleston

The hon. Member must not challenge me upon something that I did not say. I did not say that the Labour Party did not apply impartial minds. I said that there are individuals who have said, "We must defend Morrison." [HON. MEMBERS: "Who are they?"] Members of the Labour Party; I have heard them frequently. Surely, we know that pressure is applied from time to time by the Labour Whips, and that threats are held out, to prevent Members of the party going into the Lobby against the Government. It is well known, and if the hon. Member does not know it he must be a complete simpleton.

Photo of Mr Richard Stokes Mr Richard Stokes , Ipswich

Is my hon. Friend aware that I have always voted with complete freedom, and have not been stopped on any occasion?

Photo of Mr Charles Williams Mr Charles Williams , Torquay

We cannot go into that question now.

Photo of Mr John McGovern Mr John McGovern , Glasgow Shettleston

I did not intend to make that a major question. I wanted to say only that I hoped that every Member would apply his mind in a fair, impartial way. If Members do that, I shall have no grievance at all. For my part, I would not incarcerate any Member of this House or any member of the public because I wanted to defend a certain Minister or because I did not like that individual's views or his facial characteristics. Therefore, we must be satisfied that there is a 100 per cent. case against the person who is put behind bars during the war. One of the things from which we are suffering, in relation to the defence of a Member of this House, is the fact that we have not a properly constituted Opposition. The duty of an Opposition leader would be to safeguard the rights of minorities and of individual Members of the House, and, therefore, when an Opposition joins a Government, and becomes part of the Executive, it is more necessary than ever that eternal vigilance should be exercised by Members of this House who claim to be of a completely impartial and independent mind. I am glad that we shall be given the opportunity of voting, if necessary, on a direct Motion. My hon. Friend the Member for Bridgeton (Mr. Maxton) and I had to go into the Lobby against the release of Mosley, not because we were against the release of Mosley, in the circumstances put forward by the Home Secretary, but because we were against 18B, and we thought that the issue should be whether 18u should be maintained and whether the cases of these individuals were being examined in a proper manner. We voted rather as a protest against the continuance of a system which we thought was not completely fair.

Hon. Members are sometimes asked, "What is the case against the hon. and gallant Member for Peebles and Southern (Captain Ramsay)?" We say that we do not know, and they look at us as if we were half-wits, because we have agreed to the detention of a Member and do not know why he is detained. Here is the weakness. One may go to the officials of the Home Office and plead for an individual to be released, although, if one knew the whole case, one would be perfectly satisfied that that individual was being given a fair crack of the whip. But we have no means of judging, and that which was done four years ago should not be maintained indefinitely in regard to Members of this House without the House being given a perfectly honest account of what is known against the hon. and gallant Member. I know the hon. and gallant Member for Peebles and Southern. I met him on many occasions, and I discussed things with him more readily than many Members of this House have done—so much so that I am usually described by the party to which the hon. Member for West Fife (Mr. Gallacher) belongs as a Fascist, because, they say, I have kept the company of Fascist Members of this House. But I like to discuss things with Members whose views differ from mine. That may be a weakness, but it is a weakness that I am going to maintain. I do not want to shoot people because they disagree with me, for some of their theories may be right, and some of mine may be wrong, and it is only by discussing things with them that one can find out.

I discussed things with the hon. and gallant Member for Peebles and Southern, and my own conclusion is that he should be detained in a mental institution rather than in some criminal place of detention. He had two ideas: he had a tremendously anti-Semitic outlook and an anti-Communist outlook. That brought him to approve more and more of action which may have given the appearance that he was a traitor to this country. I may be wrong, but this is my summing up. The hon. and gallant Member thought that the only real defence against Communism on the Continent was Germany, and he was prepared to approve of military defence of what he regarded as the property interest of the class to which he belongs. It is not criminal to approve of that, and the hon. and gallant Member expressed these views. At one time he would say, "The Jews are out for world financial domination," and the next minute he would say, "They are out for world revolution." The two things could not square. Therefore, I would say to him, "Will you make up your mind where you really stand in relation to these problems?" He was not without his supporters in this House.

I remember during the Anti-God Congress in London, when many of us were being pressed by religious fanatics, just as fanatical as he was, for some repressive measures to deal with that Congress, that he introduced a Bill, which provided that any alien who had any anti-God literature in his possession should get three months' imprisonment, and deportation. That Bill was supported by the Home Secretary who put the hon. and gallant Member into prison, the present Chancellor of the Exchequer. That shows that the Chancellor of the Exchequer also had this sort of anti-Communist, anti-God—or, rather, pro-God—bug to the extent that he was prepared to put into prison anybody who disagreed with him. It became a vital issue, and I voted against him, because I have never believed that religion should be put down people's throats with a bayonet. I believe that personal example will do more to attract people to religion than the use of any form of repression against them. I want to find out what the hon. and gallant Member has done. He may have done a great deal. There are so many stories going the rounds regarding the detention of this man. We are told by many people that he is not in prison because he is a Fascist. I find it difficult to believe that a man could be in because he is a Fascist, when the Government co-operate with people like Darlan and Badoglio and General Franco.

I am told that it is the case that Tyler Kent used the diplomatic bag, or took copies of letters from the diplomatic bag that were being circulated between the United States and this country, between the present Prime Minister and the President of the United States, and that the present Prime Minister was soliciting military aid in the event of us going to war, and preparations were made and promises given by the President of the United States through that diplomatic bag. I was told, further, that while the present Prime Minister was First Lord of the Admiralty in the Government of the late Mr. Chamberlain, he was still carrying on this campaign behind the back of the then Prime Minister, and engaging in the exchange of letters, through the diplomatic bag, in order to find out the strength of American support and whether America could be depended upon to come into the war when this country was engaged in a vital struggle. This is said, and I would like to add a reply to it. It is said that, if the hon. and gallant Member for Peebles and Southern were released, it would be extremely difficult and dangerous if he were to be going round substantiating these things and stating that they were true, and, therefore, he is being held because the Prime Minister does not want him to be at liberty. If that is the case, and it is the view of a large body of opinion in this country, no matter where they get their information—and I myself have been asked scores of times—I would like to know whether it is the personal animosity or security of any individual in a high place that is responsible for keeping him detained. Let me read this to the House: I am not going to use the argument usually put forward as a matter of courtesy that we do not believe the present Minister would be wicked but that we are afraid his successors might be. I think that any Minister is capable of being wicked when he has a body of regulations like this to administer. … Therefore, let us put aside the cant in which we engage that we are sure the present Home Secretary would not do wrong, but that we are not so sure of his successors. We believe that the present Home Secretary is capable of being wicked, and, therefore, the House should be guarded and careful as to the powers which they give to him."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 31St October, 1939; Vol. 352, C. 1846–47.] That was said by the present Home Secretary about the Home Secretary of that time, and he was speaking from the Opposition Bench. I wish he was speaking from that bench to-day, because the case he could put up would be masterly and devastating. When the Home Secretary was his political opponent, the right hon. Gentleman thought he was capable of being wicked, but he could not guarantee to apply himself impartially if he had been placed in that position. Therefore, I want to know whether the whole of them, jointly, are applying an impartial mind and are not guilty of some prejudice in relation to the individual.

The point has been raised as to what kind of authority there should be. I am in a great difficulty in agreeing to the suppression of the liberty, or the internment, of an hon. Member of this House on the authority of the Executive, because an hon. Member can do a wrong act in a moment of prejudice. Indeed, when many Bills come before the House, hon. Members go into the Lobby and do not know what they are voting for. I can see that that is a danger to the Cabinet, since hon. Members might decide to intern the Cabinet, because they disagree with it. It might be a great injustice to the Cabinet, but it will give them a better idea, and there will be less talk about suspicions and detaining people.

I hope hon. Members will not be carried away by any ideological ideas of the individual who is concerned. I remember sitting for five hours in the British Embassy in Berlin and hearing the late Sir Nevile Henderson—and I have never heard a greater eulogy of the Nazi movement than I heard that evening—saying that he wanted that system put over in this country, and support was given for it by many people in high places. Members of the House of Lords and of the House of Commons and of the Press of this country, were going out as Hitler's special guests. Their theory was that that system could be put over in this country.

This House should be careful, and there should be a body that should consider, at this stage, the evidence against the individual. There may be a good case for keeping the hon. and gallant Member for Peebles and Southern detained, but, at least, we ought to know it, in fairness to the individual, and I plead that there should be a re-examination of this question. Nobody can say, at this stage, that national security demands the action which was demanded in 1939 or 1940. The position has eased tremendously. I have been pleading with the Home Office to release people whom I think should not have been interned, and I do not apologise for that. I say to this House that we should let some judicial body decide. This body should decide whether there is to be a charge, whether an hon. Member should be detained, whether he should be confined to an area on release, or whether he should be released as a person against whom there is only suspicion. I do not believe that all these people have very much against them, apart from muddle-headedness, or that they are necessarily traitors to this country in the war with the Axis Powers. Therefore, I ask that the Home Secretary, with the Executive, should give very serious thought as to whether or not there should be a drastic change in the matter of applying this Regulation.

Photo of Sir Kenneth Pickthorn Sir Kenneth Pickthorn , Cambridge University

It is always a very great pleasure to follow the hon. Gentleman the Member for Shettleston (Mr. McGovern). In my reactionary way, I always listen to the speaker before me, and there is nobody in the House to whom it is a greater pleasure to listen. It is almost always possible to find in what the hon. Member says, a great deal with which one can agree, and something which one can controvert. On this occasion, I think the portion which I should choose for controversy is rather small and incidental, and I apologise to him and to the House for that because with the hon. Member's main thesis—which might be described as a sort of prose version of Milton's "Areopagitica"—with his main thesis, on the whole, I agree, but I think it might lead possibly him and other hon. Members into error when he told us that it was wrong to suppose that anybody could believe simultaneously in two mutually incompatible policies. I believe the hon. Member is mistaken about that. I hope I shall not be accused of Fascism, or excessive fondness for Hitler and the Germans, when I say that "Mein Kampf" was sometimes right. There are, I think, a few acute observations in it and I think one of the most acute is that the man who has a discontinuity of policy has a great advantage over the man with continuity of policy. The people who assume, as my hon. Friend opposite assumes, that the bits of a man's policy must be compatible with each other, are often apt to be scored off, and I think there are things my hon. Friend opposite may fail to understand if he pursues his prejudice in favour of logic too far.

I think it is most important that this should not, in any sense, appear to be a Vote of Censure. To be perfectly honest and frank with the House, I think a case could be made out against the Home Secretary. I do not say an unanswerable case, but that a case could be made out. For the purpose of my argument, I would desire the House to assume that the Home Secretary's administration has been as good as it possibly could be, but, also for the purpose of my argument, I would ask the House to assume, without prejudice to the hon. and gallant Member for Peebles and Southern (Captain Ramsay), that his offence is as rank as possible. I think the main case is much weakened by the attempt to argue that we have got a bad Home Secretary, or that he happens to have pinched the wrong man. I do not see that either of these arguments is, in the least, necessary. If the hon. Gentleman opposite provokes me, I will put my arguments in a hypothetical form; I will say that the House has entrusted the Home Secretary with the duty of arresting and detaining on suspicion everybody, even an hon. Member of this House, who falls into certain categories, and, therefore, it is as much the business of the House of Commons to see that the Home Secretary does what he ought to do, as it is to see that he does not do what he ought not to do.

Suppose there is a considerable party in this country which has a national organiser, and suppose a military officer has been sentenced to several months' imprisonment for giving highly secret information to that national organiser. Indeed, in that case it might possibly be the duty of this House to see that the Home Secretary should take action under 18B. Apart from such suppositions, I would wish this case of a Member to be considered on wholly non-partisan and wholly impartial grounds, and I believe that, considered upon those grounds, none of us have anything to be proud of, with one or two exceptions. I was very glad indeed that my hon. Friend below the gangway reminded the House of the action of the hon. Member for Plaistow (Mr. Thorne)—to whom we owe a very great debt of gratitude—when, at the moment when the House did nothing about this case, he did, at least, try to do something. If I may say so without being fulsome, I think we also owe a great debt of gratitude to my two hon. Friends below the Gangway, who, in these matters have been more persistent than some of us.

Apart from that, I think none of us have anything to be proud of. I think the House has not very much to be proud of in these matters; though I know one must not criticise the Chair while it is alive, but may criticise it, presumably, when it is thoroughly dead, I am bound to say that the House has to consider, for the future, the conduct of its Members as a body, the Chair and Privilege and so on, but I say that none of us have been exempt, but almost all of us are a little guilty, with two or three individual exceptions. I am not in the least sugegsting any censure upon His Majesty's Government in this matter, nor upon the Home Secretary. I fully understand that any censure there may be comes down on all of us and upon me not less than most of us. I might suggest in that connection—to criticise my hon. Friend the Member for Gravesend (Sir I. Albery)—that it is a mistake to thank the Government for letting us have this Debate on this occasion, and even—to criticise the hon. and learned Member for East Edinburgh (Mr. Pethick-Lawrence), who is not in his place at the moment—that it is a mistake to suggest that those of us who are interested, should thank the House in general for making this Debate possible

To the last point, I shall come again, but I would begin by saying that whatever else may be true, it may surely be true, if a Member of this House is to be detained, that then, when any considerable section of the House desires to call attention to it and to discuss it, it is the right of the House that that should be done. Obviously, you cannot have two or three people demanding a Debate twice a week. There is nothing of that sort. But where there have been reasonable demands by Members of the House there must be a duty to find an opportunity for discussion, otherwise we should have abrogated our last right against the Executive. What are the powers, which, in this matter, the Executive has accumulated? They are these: (a) arrest of a Member upon suspicion, (b) detaining him for over four years, and (c) refusing, or at least hesitating, to provide an occasion for considering whether that ought to be continued. The first conclusion, therefore, to which I would ask the House to assent is that as far as (c) is concerned—hesitating to make ample opportunity for debate—that is not tolerable.

I apologise for being rather pedantic in this matter, which is my own excuse for being here. It is my business to represent pedantries in this matter, but I am not going to attempt any long or profund discussion of this matter. Privilege in its origin, as my hon. and learned Friend said, arises out of the King's right to have the attendance of his subjects at his courts, and in particular, to have every shire and borough represented at the High Court of Parliament. That is, at any rate, the old-fashioned mediaeval view of the thing. That is one point of it. If you take the extreme modern view, the mass of the population, rural or urban, in the country should have the right of being arithmetically represented here; and in a final analysis, these two things are in fact the same—they are merely the old-fashioned and the newer way of putting our views in this matter. So that when we talk about Parliamentary Privilege, it is not that we are claiming anything for ourselves more than for private persons, except in so far as, in the words of Lord Denman in Stockdale versus Hansard, all the privileges required for the energetic discharge of a Member's duty must be without doubt. That being the nature of Privilege in general, in particular it applies to freedom from arrest. That has been stated in books in various ways; sometimes negatively and sometimes positively. The ordinary common-sense way of putting it—and I shall be corrected by hon. and learned Members if I get it wrong—is to say that Members were privileged against arrest except for felony or breach of the peace. Sometimes it has been held, on the other hand, that the Privilege applied merely in civil cases. I do not think that we need stop to consider those two arguments.

What is the argument in this case? The argument in the case before us is that there is some third kind of detention, a kind of detention justified under civil process, and not a detention as a result of criminal judgment. Therefore, the argument that the Privilege applies only in civil cases and, therefore, does not apply in this case seems to me clearly to prove too much altogether. Here I would fortify myself by another quotation from one of the authorities. It is from Blackstone, who says: If all the privileges of Parliament were set down and sustained and no privilege allowed but what was so defined and determined, it were easier for the Executive"— It is a remarkable thing that this view some 200 years ago should be applicable now— to devise some new causes not within the line of privilege and under pretence thereof to harass any refractory Member and violate the freedom of Parliament. If it be attempted to abrogate Privilege by arguing that it does not apply to this case, because it is of a new kind such as did not exist in the 14th or 17th century, or whenever you may look for the leading cases, the answer is to be found in Blackstone, and it really is decisive and ought not to have been forgotten. That quotation of mine does not come from my learned familiarity with Blackstone, if I may confess to the House, but through looking at the report of the Select Committee on the Official Secrets Act of which I was a Member some years ago, and which then used the quotation.

There is another quotation from that Report which has not yet been used today and which hon. Members ought to have in mind. That Committee found—I think my hon. Friend the Member for Bridgeton (Mr. Maxton) was a Member of it—among other things, that privileges enjoyed by either House of Parliament or by the Members of either House in their capacity as Members can be abrogated only by the express words of a Statute. I am sorry to have to interrupt the learned Attorney-General in his conversation with the Home Secretary, but I should be grateful if I could be sure that the Home Secretary gets this upon his notes, because it merits some attention. That being so, it might have been thought that the only possible room for argument about freedom from arrest under the Emergency Powers Act was whether there are in the Emergency Powers Act any expressed words providing against the use of Privilege. Of course, there are not. I do not say that that concludes the matter, but it raises a very strong presumption indeed which has never really been thoroughly investigated.

May I return to the three cumulations of powers with which I began by saying that the Executive is, in this matter, under this Statute. The first power was that of arresting a Member upon suspicion. The point I have just been trying to make is that, if that is not a matter of civil process and if it is not a matter of criminal process, then it must be as a result of some kind of process hitherto unknown to the law which is illegal unless it is statutory, and if it is statutory, why did not the Statute expressly abrogate the Privilege according to the doctrine laid down by the Select Committee on Official Secrets?

That brings me to saying a word about the composition of the Select Committee of Privileges, and I hope that no members of that Select Committee will think what I am about to say critical or controversial. The Select Committee of Privileges has wholly altered its character in the course of history. In the old days the Committee of Privileges was constituted of county Members because county Members were generally considered to be more independent than borough Members, and by legal Members. It was a large, open Committee and very much a back benchers' Committee, but as a result, apparently, of the fact that in the second half of the nineteenth century the people who were tiresome were the Irish and, arising out of that, as a result of Mr. Balfour's procedure reforms, the composition of the Committee became much more manageable, semi-official and almost routine. In connection with the matter now before us, the House ought at some time to consider whether it is right that the Select Committee of Privileges should be—

Photo of Viscount  Turnour Viscount Turnour , Horsham and Worthing

I desire to raise a point of Order. The hon. Gentleman is now criticising a decision of the Committee of Privileges. I have no objection to his doing so, but if we are to have a Debate on the Committee of Privileges, can you, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, indicate whether this is the occasion on which to do it, because I would very much like to answer the hon. Member?

Photo of Mr James Milner Mr James Milner , Leeds South East

I did not understand the hon. Member was criticising the Committee of Privileges, and this is certainly not the occasion.

Photo of Mr Irving Albery Mr Irving Albery , Gravesend

I certainly understood the hon. Member for Cambridge (Mr. Pick-thorn) to be giving an historical survey and I did not understand him to be criticising the Committee of Privileges.

Photo of Mr William Gallacher Mr William Gallacher , Fife Western

In view of the fact that there are many hon. Members anxious to speak, is it desirable that the hon. Member should give such a lecture on constitutional history? Should not the speeches be short?

Photo of Mr James Milner Mr James Milner , Leeds South East

That is not a point of Order for me.

Photo of Mr James Maxton Mr James Maxton , Glasgow Bridgeton

May I make this further point of Order, so that I may have your Ruling? Is the Committee of Privileges put into a specially privileged position, and that prevents us making reference to its work?

Photo of Viscount  Turnour Viscount Turnour , Horsham and Worthing

That was not my point of Order. No Member of the Committee of Privileges could take any objection to a criticism of this kind on a proper occasion and I submit, with respect, that the composition of the committee to which the hon. Gentleman is referring is not a matter to be discussed on this occasion.

Photo of Mr James Milner Mr James Milner , Leeds South East

I have indicated my view.

Photo of Viscount  Turnour Viscount Turnour , Horsham and Worthing

May I have an answer to my point of Order? Is the question of the composition of the Committee of Privileges a matter which can be discussed on this occasion?

Photo of Mr James Milner Mr James Milner , Leeds South East

I have already indicated that I did not understand that the hon. Member was discussing the composition of the Committee of Privileges.

Photo of Mr James Maxton Mr James Maxton , Glasgow Bridgeton

If the hon. Member had been discussing the composition of the Committee of Privileges, which had a definite part in this matter which we are discussing to-day, as definite a part as the Home Secretary has had, would it have been out of Order?

Photo of Mr James Milner Mr James Milner , Leeds South East

That is a hypothetical question.

Photo of Sir Kenneth Pickthorn Sir Kenneth Pickthorn , Cambridge University

I was not attempting to criticise the Committee of Privileges, nor should I have assumed that it would be out of Order to do so, if I had wished to do so. I was trying to indicate that, under the Emergency Powers Act, there is a question of Privilege, a very definite question of Privilege, and that, therefore, we have got back to the days when a Member's privilege of freedom from arrest requires defending, as it has not seemed to have required defending in the early twentieth century. That being so, I respectfully suggest to the House and to the Chair, and to anybody else who is interested, that it might be a matter for consideration whether we ought to continue to have a Committee of Privileges like it was this last 30 or 40 years, or go back to something rather different and perhaps of a less front bench character.

Photo of Viscount  Turnour Viscount Turnour , Horsham and Worthing

I am a Member of the Committee of Privileges and I would ask a question. Does the hon. Gentleman suggest by his last observation, when he talks about less official character, that those who criticise the Government constitutionally are thereby likely, because they sit on the Committee of Privileges, to agree with the Government's position? What is his meaning?

Photo of Sir Kenneth Pickthorn Sir Kenneth Pickthorn , Cambridge University

I do not know why the Noble Lord who sits opposite, and who has so long demonstrated in this House the degree of wisdom with which the Conservative Party distributes its safe seats, should think it necessary to put to me that question which has no relevance to my argument.

Photo of Viscount  Turnour Viscount Turnour , Horsham and Worthing

Because it was the hon. Member's argument.

Photo of Sir Kenneth Pickthorn Sir Kenneth Pickthorn , Cambridge University

I propose, in spite of almost insuperable difficulties, to endeavour to resume my argument. The second of these accumulations of Executive authority to which I referred was the detaining of a Member for so long as four, and now it is getting on for five, years. What I would suggest is that a thing alters its nature if there is sufficient change in scale or time. Detaining a man for five years is not the same as five days, only 365 times more so. It is a quite different thing, and I would respectfully suggest that the House ought to consider going back to its old control over attendance in this connection. I do not know when the House gave it up, but as late as 1900 we sometimes used to give permission to be absent on family business, or for ill health, or whatnot, and if you go back to the 17th century you will find that the House used to discharge a Member because of illness, or for some other reason, and he could then vacate his seat. I suggest that in the fifth year of a Member's detention, it becomes the duty of the House to consider whether it ought not to discharge that Member—not necessarily expel him in any punitive way—and make it possible for somebody else to be elected. I believe it could be done on the precedents, and if it could not be done upon the precedents, I do not think there would be any difficulty in passing a two or three Clause Bill through both Houses to make quite sure that it could not be challenged by the courts.

Photo of Mr Maurice Petherick Mr Maurice Petherick , Penryn and Falmouth

May I interrupt my hon. Friend, as I interrupted the hon. Member for East Wolverhampton (Mr. Mander) on the same point? I hope my hon. Friend will make it quite clear that the hon. and gallant Member for Peebles and Southern (Captain Ramsay) may have the complete right to come to the House and to debate his own case.

Photo of Mr John Wilmot Mr John Wilmot , Lambeth Kennington

May I ask the hon. Member, before he resumes, if he will consider seriously the terrifying implications of giving the Executive power to disqualify a Member of the Executive?

Photo of Sir Kenneth Pickthorn Sir Kenneth Pickthorn , Cambridge University

I was not suggesting giving the Executive any such power. The House always has had, and still has, the power to do this. All I am suggesting is that it is a matter for consideration, whether some such practice might not be revived in this kind of case. And I feel certain the House would not think of reviving any such practice, in any way which might at all inflict injustice upon the hon. and gallant Member for Peebles and Southern, or anybody else in a similar situation. In that connection what I would suggest might be considered is this. Reasonable objections have been taken from the front bench on earlier occasions, and from various parts of the House today, to a Secret Session about the reasons for detention. I quite see that, but might it not be possible to have a very small Select Committee to which any Member detained more than so many days, weeks, or months might have the right of appeal? A very small Select Committee of this House, wholly non-party, consisting of only five or six people. The sort of people I am thinking about can most easily be characterised by mentioning two who are no longer here—the then Colonel Gretton or Mr. Gordon Macdonald—

Photo of Sir Kenneth Pickthorn Sir Kenneth Pickthorn , Cambridge University

— people whose judicial character in such a matter everybody in the House would trust wholly, without consideration of party. I think it is most important and most urgent that there should be consideration of some such devices as these, or whatever better devices occur to the ingenuity of hon. Gentlemen. What matters in this affair is the length of time that has elapsed. What matters in this affair is the gradual change in the climate of opinion about what is tolerable. Hon. Gentlemen who knew much of the history of Germany in the years when Hitler came to power, will know that emergency powers played a very great part indeed in all that, and they will know, also, that it was not the emergency powers which did the harm, but the gradual habituation of people to the emergency powers, the gradual building-up in men's minds of the sort of notion that if you wanted something done very much, then that was good enough reason to say, "Oh, well, we will swallow the emergency powers." We have had plenty of lessons about this in this House recently, and I beg the House to think. I do so with no intention of making any debating score for my party, or for the people of my sort who are interested in the matter. It is the duty of all of us to make sure of our position every time we grant any emergency power—and that means every day. Every day upon which we do not take back that emergency power, we ought continually to cross-examine ourselves and each other about the ways in which these emergency powers have been used. Otherwise, we shall get into the habit of thinking that these things are matters of course, and the whole atmosphere of the politics of our country when the war is over, is going to be different from what we fought for when we were young, and what our sons are now fighting for.

Photo of Mr Herbert Morrison Mr Herbert Morrison , Hackney South

May I first thank hon. Members who have taken part in the Debate for the general reasonableness and the good spirit in which the discussion has been conducted? Perhaps I ought particularly to thank hon. Members for the number of kindly references that have been made to myself, and the expressions of confidence which hon. Members on all sides have indicated in the at any rate intended uprightness and fairness of my administration of this Regulation. I think it would be fair to say that in the early stages there was some doubt about that, but I make no complaint at all. The main complaint now is, as I follow it, and it is material to the whole issue of this Debate, that this very great and sometimes embarrassing power over the liberty of many people should repose in one man. It is a point. I hope to show the House that there is Nothing else that can be done about it, but broadly speaking, the line the Government have so far taken, and which I have taken, is that it is perfectly true that constitutionally this is the power of one man, but that one man knows very well that he has to live with the House of Commons and with the country and with his colleagues in the Government, and he is very respectful of all these institutions. As long as it is solely a matter for the Home Secretary, I think the best guarantee of good administration is the amazingly quick insight of the House of Commons if a Minister did not administer this Regulation fairly and reasonably. I admit that the House is at some disadvantage because, if it asks me for reasons and particulars, I cannot tell it them, and that I will explain also. Nevertheless, I believe that if any Minister did the job that I have to do under this Regulation unfairly, unjustly, irresponsibly, this House would find him out in less than three months, and remove him from office. That, I believe, is the final guarantee of the good administration of the Regulation as it stands at the present time.

My hon. Friend the Member for Gravesend (Sir I. Albery) and my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Epsom (Sir A. Southby) moved and seconded this Motion in speeches which have been reported to me, and I apologise to them that I did not hear their speeches, but I had to attend a Cabinet meeting in connection with the statement that I made earlier in the House. I told my hon. Friend the Member for Gravesend that I was very sorry to have missed these speeches, but they have been reported to me and I am told that they were very well-delivered, cogent and very reasonable in spirit, and I am grateful to my hon. Friends for their helpfulness in that matter. There is only one point I will try to put right, a point of fact in the speech of the hon. Member for Gravesend. He quoted some observations of my own in an earlier Debate, indicating a little apprehension as to whether I had a bias in favour of detention. The cases with which I was dealing in that context were, firstly, cases of enemy aliens as such, who are, of course, dealt with under the prerogative and not under the Regulation. I then went on, secondly, to deal with the person who is legally and technically a British subject but, in fact, by birth, training, origin and upbringing is really no different from an enemy alien.

Photo of Mr Irving Albery Mr Irving Albery , Gravesend

In all those cases it is a matter of opinion.

Photo of Mr Herbert Morrison Mr Herbert Morrison , Hackney South

That may be so, and the merits are considered in each case. But I do say, as I said then, that there is a distinction between the case of a person who is largely in opinion and thought still a German and often a Nazi, and the case of the thorough-going Anglo-Saxon of British birth, upbringing, type, and so on. In the administration of the prerogative powers respecting enemy aliens my broad line is that the natural place for the enemy alien in time of war is inside. If he is let out, I have to be positively satisfied—and he must take a part in positively satisfying me—that it is safe to let him out. In the case of the normal British citizen, however, dealt with under 18B, the onus is upon me to be satisfied that he ought to be put inside and kept inside rather than upon him to prove that he ought to be at liberty. I think the House will agree with that broad classification. It is only in the sense of a bias against an enemy alien that I meant I would have a slight bias against the type I have indicated—technically a British subject but otherwise really an enemy alien. My hon. Friend, I am sure, did not in any way mean to misrepresent me, and as it is a subtle point I thought it was worth while to put it right.

Hon. Members will forgive me if I do not refer straight away to every point they have made. I think they will find in the course of my general observations that I shall pick up their points. However, my hon. Friend put some questions to me. One was, What danger do I apprehend from releasing persons detained under 18B at the present time? Well, Sir, I do not know that I can tell the House concretely, any more than I could in 1940, what I apprehend if certain people are at liberty. The simple fact for me is that the nation is at war. I admit that the dangers were greater in 1940 and that they are less now. Indeed, I have shown I recognise that by the very high proportion of releases from detention which I have authorised. But we are still at war, great operations are going on at the present time, and my view is—I reserve the right to modify my view—that at any rate as long as the European war lasts any Home Secretary must be armed with these exceptional powers because we are at war, because of the risks which war involves, and because the Executive ought to be armed with exceptional powers when the nation is at war with a great and powerful enemy. It may be that they will have to remain until the end of the Japanese war if that is later, or it may be that at the end of the European war we can look. at the Regulation again and perhaps modify—possibly repeal—it. If circumstances came about in which I was satisfied that I could reasonably and properly modify or repeal the Regulation even while the European war was on, I would do it. I ask the House to believe me when I say that nobody would be happier than I if I, or the Prime Minister, or my successor, or whoever it might be, was at any time able to come to the House of Commons and say, "We do not want this Regulation any more." I do not want to keep it for pure fun, because there is no fun at all in its administration. There are far more kicks than ha'pence.

Photo of Sir William Davison Sir William Davison , Kensington South

Could the Home Secretary give some evidence that the release of the hon. and gallant Member for Peebles and Southern (Captain Ramsay) has been refused because, in accordance with the actual wording of the Regulation, his release would be "prejudicial to the public safety or the defence of the Realm, or interfere with the maintenance of supplies or services essential to the life of the community?"

Photo of Mr Herbert Morrison Mr Herbert Morrison , Hackney South

My hon. Friend is trying to drag me into the merits of a particular case. My hon. Friend the Member for East Wolverhampton (Mr. Mander) was strongly criticised in various quarters for getting near the merits of this particular case, even although he only quoted the summing up of a High Court judge. My hon. Friend the Member for Ipswich (Mr. Stokes), who reserves the right to pick and choose, says the judge is a bad judge. If the judge had been critical of me he would have said that he was a very good judge. However, I do not want to get on to the merits of this particular case. If I did it would be perfectly competent for me to quote the opinion of the High Court judge, as my hon. Friend the Member for East Wolverhampton quoted it.

Photo of Mr Herbert Morrison Mr Herbert Morrison , Hackney South

That may be so or not. It is remarkable how views as to fairness vary as to whether the argument is going for or against us.

Photo of Viscount  Turnour Viscount Turnour , Horsham and Worthing

As a supporter of the right hon. Gentleman, and with some hesitation, as my hon. Friends opposite do not like me asking questions, is it not the case that we are not concerned in this Debate with the summing-up of a High Court judge, but with the putting of the hon. and gallant Member for Peebles and Southern under detention under Regulation 18B?

Photo of Mr Herbert Morrison Mr Herbert Morrison , Hackney South

That may be so, but if hon. Members in their Motion or speeches ask, as my hon. Friend the Member for South Kensington (Sir W. Davison) has just done, that I should say why I am keeping this man inside they cannot grumble at my hon. Friend the Member for East Wolverhampton if he quotes what a very important person thought about the hon. and gallant Member for Peebles and Southern.

Photo of Sir William Davison Sir William Davison , Kensington South

The Motion says, in particular: … the detention of an hon. Member for over four years without trial or charge conflicts with the ancient and well-established right of the House to the service of its Members.…

Photo of Mr Herbert Morrison Mr Herbert Morrison , Hackney South

I wish when people quoted that they would not stop quoting where it suits them. The Motion goes on to say that detention ought to cease unless justified to the House, if necessary, in Secret Session. That means that I have to go into the whole history of the facts and merits of the case. I am confident that when I had got half way through framing what would be bound to be something like an indictment against the hon. and gallant Member for Peebles and Southern there would be a series of hon. Members who would rise on points of Order as to whether it was fair that the Home Secretary should make such an indictment when the hon. and gallant Member was not there to defend himself.

Photo of Commander Sir Archibald Southby Commander Sir Archibald Southby , Epsom

Surely my right hon. Friend appreciates the contention of some hon. Members that while he should make that indictment in the House the hon. and gallant Member for Peebles and Southern (Captain Ramsay) should have the elementary right of being here to give an answer.

Photo of Mr Herbert Morrison Mr Herbert Morrison , Hackney South

I do not think anything of the kind. I could not administer 18B on the basis that a person detained may occasionally participate in Parliamentary Debates.

Photo of Sir William Davison Sir William Davison , Kensington South

But he is a Member of the House.

Photo of Mr Herbert Morrison Mr Herbert Morrison , Hackney South

I could not do it, and I do not intend to do it. However, I will come to the point about his being a Member of the House in a few minutes. I am anxious to discuss the matter without heat, I will try not to get heated, and I hope my hon. Friends will try to keep me cool. As I was saying, I am certain that before I was half way through the indictment the point would be raised, fairly, that I ought not to do that unless the hon. and gallant Member was here and could answer me, even if it were in Secret Session. Having heard me and the hon. and gallant Member for Peebles and Southern, what would follow? Would the House know all about it? No, it would have heard only the Debate.

With great respect to the House, a full Parliamentary Debate is an impossible forum in which to conduct such proceedings and to try to arrive at the details and give a fair judgment on a case of this kind. That is the reason why it would not be fair of me to give particulars, either in public or in secret, as to why the hon. and gallant Member for Peebles and Southern is detained. If I were to do it in his case other people might ask that I should do it in their case, although they were not Members of Parliament, and then we should be plunged into a series of embarrassments. If I gave particulars in all these cases the character of some people might be blackened beyond their deserts for the rest of their lives—and some of them have improved since they were detained, and have reformed their outlook, which has become more healthy in the light of the developments of the war. If a man did very bad things or potentially was very dangerous, but has since improved his outlook, I do not like the idea of blackening his past.

Let me give one or two more reasons. Our information about these people comes from many sources. The information from the security services comes sometimes from one source and sometimes from another. I know hon. Members have opinions about some of the sources, but if I was bound to give the House particulars of each of these cases, if they were demanded, the fact that I revealed what my information was would in some instances give information to the enemy as to what I knew about his espionage organisation, and information about the British security services as well. That is the dilemma one is in. Take the case of a Member of the House. I agree with the speech made by my hon. Friend the Member for Kennington (Mr. Wilmot), a speech which was very fair-minded, like the speeches of those who opened the Debate. Let me put a purely theoretical case. Suppose there was a Member of the House of Commons—and there are 615 of us here and more in another place, who are also legislators and Members of Parliament—in connection with whom I had evidence that caused me to believe that he was acting against the interests of the country, or, in an extreme case, was being used for enemy espionage against the prosecution of the war. In many cases, especially of aliens, I am tolerably certain that the man concerned has been guilty of espionage, or has been in association with the enemies' espionage service, or would engage in espionage if liberated. I ask myself in every one of those cases: Can I prosecute? If I can prosecute with any reasonable degree of success, I do so, as I ought, and sometimes the man gets worse treatment than if I had dealt with him. It is right that I should prosecute wherever I can. I do not wish to do the work of the courts of law by usurping their functions to the slightest degree.

There are cases of foreigners, and there have been cases of British citizens, where my predecessor and I have been reasonably sure that a man was an enemy agent, or a spy, or was guilty of acts prejudicial, and whose activities and character were such that he was a person dangerous to the security of the Realm. What am I to do if when the competent legal authorities have considered the case they say, "It is no good prosecuting in this case, because, from a legal point of view, it will not stand up," and I am tolerably certain that it would be positively dangerous to leave that man at liberty? What is my duty? I have to put him inside.

Photo of Commander William King-Hall Commander William King-Hall , Ormskirk

Would the Minister feel any doubt, in the case of a Member of the House of Commons, or another place, that he would be able to carry conviction in a small committee? I quite recognise the difficulty of bringing it before the House as a whole.

Photo of Mr Herbert Morrison Mr Herbert Morrison , Hackney South

If the hon. and gallant Member will let me go on, I will come to that suggestion, which has been made in various quarters. What is my duty? I have to balance the considerations. It is just conceivable I may be wrong, that the man may not have done anything or may not do anything. That answers the point about whether any mistakes have been made. I would not say that no mistakes have been made. In some cases I may be wrong, but I must judge according to the best of my ability. On the one side there is a risk that I may unjustly put somebody inside, and that is a serious risk—I do not under-estimate it, no Home Secretary ought to be light-hearted about it and I am not—and on the other side there is the risk that the security of the State at war may be gravely damaged. I have to weigh one against the other, and if I tip the balance slightly or even materially in favour of the security of the State at war is there any Member of this House who would say that I am wrong? I do not think so.

That is the root of this problem. The State at war must take the risk that an injustice may be done to an individual. The risk must be honestly and fairly run. It is right that I should be pursued on this matter. I make no complaint about that. It is good for me and my soul. Apart from Debates, such as this, I try to administer this Regulation properly but there is an element of risk on both sides, and we have to take that risk with our eyes open. I have not signed very many orders for detention lately; I have signed many more for release. If I sign an order for detention can I improve my action by shedding tears over the paper before I sign it? I have to do the job; I must come to a fair decision and do it. It is difficult and obnoxious in many ways. I am too much a lover of liberty to like doing it, but it is a duty among the many difficult jobs which a Home Secretary has to do, including matters connected with the death sentence and with flogging. Anyone can have these jobs so far as I am concerned. But the law must be administered and you must do your job intelligently and as fairly as you can. It is no good walking up and down your room for three days on end, because at the end of the three days you will be less competent to come to a decision than you were at the beginning. There is, broadly, the raw material of the problem.

I will give the House the present position about the general administration of the Regulation, because the Motion is in two parts, one on the general administration of the Regulation and one relating to the hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for Peebles and Southern. The situation has steadily improved from the point of view of my critics, and indeed from my own, ever since the peak was reached in the early days of the war and, as the military situation has improved, it has been possible to release persons whom one would not have thought it proper to release in earlier times. Our last Debate on the subject was on 14th July, 1943, when 429 persons were detained under 18B. On 31st May this year there were 226, a reduction of 203 in a period of some ten months, which is a very considerable change. In the whole of that period there have only been seven new detentions as against 210 releases. This bears upon the future of the Regulation and whether we ought to give it up. We have now reached a stage in its history where the character of the general body of detainees is different from what it was in earlier days. Of the 226 persons who were detained at the end of May no fewer than 174 are persons of hostile origin and/or associations, 30 are persons adjudged—I say adjudged because I am not a court of law—to have been guilty of acts prejudicial to the public safety or the Defence of the Realm, and finally, only 22 persons detained as members of the British Union or active in the furtherance of its objects. They are not detained solely because they have been members of the British Union. There are other circumstances connected with them which cause me still to keep them inside, though they may be related to their membership of the British Union and to the activities of the Union.

These are small figures compared with the total that we had at the peak. The number who have been detained at any time is 1,829, and the maximum at any given time—that was in August, 1940— was 1,428. These cases are kept under review regularly. As for the residuum, I am beginning to know their cases by heart, having read them so often. They are old friends in a way. But they are still regularly reviewed. If necessary, they go to the Advisory Committee again, but in any case the officers of the Home Office make their reviews. They do not always agree with each other. I do not require them always to agree with each other. To each officer, right up to the Permanent Under-Secretary of State, I say, "Say what you think. Do not worry about what the man above you is going to say or what I am going to say." All the observations come up, the whole story is before me, and I read it and come to my own conclusion about it as honestly as I can. I ask hon. Members to believe me when I assure them that it is not a question of a rigid machine which has to be jerked into releasing people. We are always self-critical and constantly looking at cases again. It has been argued to-day as it has been argued before, that, partly in the interests of fairness and liberty and partly to relieve the Home Secretary of an awkward job, for which he is criticised now and again, there ought to be some judicial tribunal or Committee which should take the job off the Home Secretary, at any rate after a certain period of time. I am talking now about the general issue irrespective of the Member of Parliament. On the proposal that a court of law should take over the job, I assure the House from my experience that a court of law could not deal with it. It is not a matter entirely of factual evidence. The hon. Member for Kennington (Mr. Wilmot) was quite right about that. It is not by a very long way a matter entirely of legal argument. There are elements of policy about it, there are elements of knowledge about it, which do not make it appropriate for the ordinary procedure of the courts of law. Indeed, an eminent legal authority, Lord Finlay, said: It seems obvious that no tribunal for investigating questions where circumstances of suspicion exist warranting some restraint can be imagined less appropriate than a court of law. With all respect to the courts of law, for which we all have the highest regard, that is eminently right. From my own experience I am sure that the courts of law would get into a muddle if asked to take on this job.

The other question is whether some Committee of highly discreet, eminent, respectable people could undertake this work, at any rate after a man has been detained for three months. This means handing over the liberty of the subject, in so far as it is invaded by the Regulation, away from a Minister of the Crown responsible to Parliament to a Committee responsible to no one. If this were done, I could not answer any Question about these cases. I could not conduct correspondence about them.

Photo of Sir Geoffrey Mander Sir Geoffrey Mander , Wolverhampton East

If the Committee had purely advisory powers similar to those existing at present, would not that be quite different?

Photo of Mr Herbert Morrison Mr Herbert Morrison , Hackney South

That is all right. There is an Advisory Committee now. It would only be a matter of changing its composition, if I have not misunderstood the hon. Member. It has done its job very well and it has been quite liberal minded. That is pretty clear from the criticisms that I get and the number of recommendations for release which I have not been able to carry through. That may be arguable, but that is another issue. The real issue now is whether the Committee should have the final word if we are not going to maintain Magna Charta and Habeas Corpus intact. If so, it is vitally important that the person to be charged for breaches of Habeas Corpus and Magna Charta should be a Minister of the Crown and not a committee, because the Minister is responsible to Parliament.

Photo of Mr Reginald Manningham-Buller Mr Reginald Manningham-Buller , Daventry

The first part of the right hon. Gentleman's speech was directed to pointing out what an unsuitable tribunal this House was in a case of detention of an hon. Member. How does he now say that this House is a suitable tribunal?

Photo of Mr Herbert Morrison Mr Herbert Morrison , Hackney South

My hon. and gallant Friend has not got me right. I said that I thought the House would not be a good tribunal in determining the merits of the case for the release or detention of an individual, and I still say so, but this House is an amazingly successful institution for detecting a good Minister and a bad one.

Photo of Commander Sir Archibald Southby Commander Sir Archibald Southby , Epsom

Are there any bad Ministers?

Photo of Mr Herbert Morrison Mr Herbert Morrison , Hackney South

I would not say that there have not been in the course of the nation's history. I say that the House of Commons, taking it by and large, is pretty acute in understanding without very much delay whether a Minister, at any rate on a matter like this, is fair-minded and competent or not. I am not asking for any decision at the moment; that will come in the Division Lobby later on. This is the dilemma we are in and we have to make a clean choice. Having made it, we must put up with it until better times come and these exceptional powers have been withdrawn.

Photo of Colonel Alan Gandar-Dower Colonel Alan Gandar-Dower , Penrith and Cockermouth

Why does not the Home Secretary uphold his Committee?

Photo of Mr Herbert Morrison Mr Herbert Morrison , Hackney South

What is the good of asking me? It is because I disagree with them in certain cases. The House has placed on me the responsibility of administering this Regulation—I think rightly—and if it has done so it must not grumble if in certain cases I have to disagree with the Advisory Committee. The number of cases that now survive in which I disagreed with the Committee in a recommendation for release, and the number of cases which I have released having disagreed with a recommendation for continued detention, are getting to a point near equality.

Photo of Mr Maurice Petherick Mr Maurice Petherick , Penryn and Falmouth

The real crux of the situation is that 18B is in conflict with the Privileges of the House in the case of the hon. and gallant Member for Peebles and Southern (Captain Ramsay). What possible objection can there be for putting the whole case before a Select Committee? It is a highly confidential and secret Committee, and there would be no risk of leakage. It would be possible for that body to report to the House whether in its opinion there was reasonable ground for keeping the hon. and gallant Member in detention.

Photo of Mr Herbert Morrison Mr Herbert Morrison , Hackney South

I hope my hon. Friend will be patient. At the moment I am dealing with the general issue of 18B and not the Parliamentary point. I have every intention of returning to the point which the hon. Member has raised. I think that what I have said deals with the general issue which has been raised.

Photo of Mr Irving Albery Mr Irving Albery , Gravesend

Before the right hon. Gentleman leaves the general question, there are two points to which he has not replied. One is, Is it just or equitable to conceal a favourable verdict by the Advisory Committee? That is an important question. The other one, which is also important, is, Are there any means of redress for people who have been detained wrongly?

Photo of Mr Herbert Morrison Mr Herbert Morrison , Hackney South

The first question is, If the Committee has recommended that a man should be released and I have disagreed, ought that not to be published? What is the point of publication? I am not saying that there is no point, but let us see what the point is.

Photo of Mr Irving Albery Mr Irving Albery , Gravesend

The right hon. Gentleman refused to inform his Member.

Photo of Mr Herbert Morrison Mr Herbert Morrison , Hackney South

I do not see why a Member has any particular right to know about a particular case. The individual Member has not an executive responsibility. It can be argued that the House and the country ought to know, but if I started telling individual Members, other Members would say that they also wanted to know. There is a point of principle involved, and it is in that sense I say that no individual Member has a particular right to know. The House has rights, but not any particular Member.

Suppose I published cases in which the Advisory Committee recommended release and I continued detention, what is the point of it? I suggest the point is that there should be an argument in the House as to whether I was right or wrong. That argument could not proceed any distance without my giving reasons for detention or for continued detention and full particulars of the case. Then we would be in the very difficulty which I think I successfully dealt with in the earlier part of my speech. That is why I do not want to give cases where I have disagreed with the Advisory Committee one way or the other, for it cuts both ways. If a man is able to say, "I was recommended for release by the Advisory Committee, but it was reversed by that fellow Morrison, who would not let me out," there might be a theoretical advantage, but what about the man whom I let out when the Committee had recommended continued detention? He would be at a disadvantage the other way. The Home Secretary is responsible, and I cannot see that the case for revealing what the Committee recommended in any particular case is a strong one. The Advisory Committee has been of the greatest value to the Department and Secretary of State and to the cause of liberty. I entirely agree about that, but if the responsibility is to be held on the Secretary of State, it had better be held there openly, frankly and cleanly and not confused by publication of the recommendations of the Committee.

Photo of Sir William Davison Sir William Davison , Kensington South

Has the Advisory Committee the secret information which induces the Home Secretary to differ from it?

Photo of Mr James Glanville Mr James Glanville , Consett

Is it not a fact that these interjections from the Benches opposite arise from the fact that it is a Tory Member who is detained?

Photo of Mr Herbert Morrison Mr Herbert Morrison , Hackney South

I do not mind interruptions, but I suggest to my hon. Friends that they have been pretty generous in the number of interruptions, and if I could proceed with a more consecutive statement of my case it would be better; moreover, I do not want to be longer than I can help. I have answered the point raised by my hon. Friend the Member for South Kensington (Sir W. Davison) for whom I have great respect, at least six times. It was one of the points raised in one of the earliest Debates on 18B, and I have answered that the Advisory Committee has the same facts before it as I have.

Photo of Mr Herbert Morrison Mr Herbert Morrison , Hackney South

Of course it is very important. Any difference of opinion does not arise from my knowing more of the facts. It is a difference of opinion—regrettable, but there it is; it happens. It is, of course, also an opinion I am assisted to form because of my position in the Government and in the War Cabinet, and from my knowledge of the war situation and of all sorts of secret organisations all over the place; I have got a wider background than the Committee could possibly have. All the facts relevant to the case, including the reports of the security services, are sent to the Committee, It is not disagreement about the facts, but a genuine difference of opinion about the individual case. The House might like to know that as regards those still detained, 30 recommendations for release have not been adopted, and 24 of those are in relation to persons of hostile origin or associations. There are 19 cases where detention was recommended and release has taken place. I think that deals with the general points. Did I deal with my hon. Friend's second point?

Photo of Mr Irving Albery Mr Irving Albery , Gravesend

The last question I asked was, Will anyone who has been arrested under 18B and subsequently released, get any opportunity to clear himself?

Photo of Mr Herbert Morrison Mr Herbert Morrison , Hackney South

That cuts both ways. I do not recall one case where there was an absolute mistake. I do recall some cases where, in the light of subsequent knowledge, it was open to fair argument whether the person ought to have been detained or not, but it does not follow that there was no evidence against him.

Photo of Sir Kenneth Pickthorn Sir Kenneth Pickthorn , Cambridge University

What about the case of Mr. Knight?

Photo of Mr Herbert Morrison Mr Herbert Morrison , Hackney South

I know about him. There really were some points—but I do not want to blacken the man's character, have no reason to do so—that caused the Home Secretary to have "reasonable cause to believe." If the Home Secretary had known at the beginning as much as we knew at the end, I cannot say whether he would have been detained or not. It is clear that what may be reasonable cause for detention at one point of time may be unreasonable at another. That is the reason for the releases.

If we were to issue a certificate of good character I am not sure it would do the man much good. It is a risky thing to do. Let me give a case in which I released a man. I released him, genuinely thinking that he would not get into more trouble or do more harm and that release would be safe. Well, he did. He communicated with the German Legation in Dublin. Having got out of my clutches under this discretionary detention he was then prosecuted before the courts and he got penal servitude for life. That is much worse than he had from me. That shows one of the difficulties which cut the other way. In that case I could have been charged by the House with having released a man who ought not to have been released. It is a two-way traffic, and both sides of the argument should be considered. I do not think I am vindictive in the administration of this matter and I know I do not wish to do any injustice.

Now I come to the particular case of the hon. and gallant Member for Peebles and Southern. There is a point here which must be recognised. There has been an argument to-day about Privilege. My hon. Friend the Member for Kennington (Mr. Wilmot) said that this House for a long time had been very restrained about asking for any more privileges. That is so, but it seems to me that it is late in the day to raise this issue, which was heard and argued and determined both by the Committee of Privileges and by the House already, except on the point that the hon. and gallant Member has now been detained for four years, and that therefore we ought to think again; but the length of detention is not particularly relevant to the issue of privilege. The privilege issue is an issue by itself. Nor is the length of detention in many respects relevant to my job. I have to decide whether, at any given time, it is or is not a danger to set a man at liberty. That—not the length of the detention, although it sometimes is a consideration—is the issue.

The conclusion of the Committee of Privileges was this—and up to now this does settle the point of Privilege—that the precedents lend no support to the view that Members of Parliament are exempted by the privileges of Parliament from detention under Regulation 18B of the General Defence Regulations, 1939. Preventive arrest under statutory authority by executive order is not within the principle of the cases to which the privilege from arrest has been decided to extend. To claim that the privilege extends to such cases would be either the assertion of a new Parliamentary privilege or an unjustified extension of an existing one. No question of any infringement of the privilege of freedom of speech arises. Your Committee are consequently of opinion that the detention of Captain Ramsay under Regulation 18B of the General Defence Regulations, 1939, does not constitute a breach of the privileges of the House. The Report was brought to the House by my right hon. Friend the Deputy Prime Minister, who was then Lord Privy Seal, and debated. My right hon. Friend spoke and many hon. Members who have taken part in the Debate to-day then spoke. At the end, the House unanimously accepted the Report of the Committee of Privileges. It seems to me that the issue of Privilege has been settled both by the Committee of Privileges and by the present House of Commons itself, and, I cannot see, therefore, with great respect, that the point of Privilege arises now.

What is the next point? It is the point on which I was interrupted by the hon. Member for Penryn and Falmouth (Mr. Petherick) as to whether a Member of Parliament should not be heard by his peers, that is to say, ought not his fellow Members of Parliament to have a Committee and either settle the matter themselves or act in an advisory capacity to the Home Secretary in much the same way as does the other Advisory Committee?

Photo of Mr Maurice Petherick Mr Maurice Petherick , Penryn and Falmouth

I should like to make the point again. I was not suggesting that a Member of Parliament, acting as, say, Mr. Smith, should have the right of trial by his peers, but that a Member of Parliament exercising his function as a Member of Parliament should, when what may be a question of Privilege arises, be heard, say by a Select Committee of the House.

Photo of Mr Herbert Morrison Mr Herbert Morrison , Hackney South

There are three points involved. If the issue is a question of Privilege, then it has already been heard by his peers through the Committee of Privileges. If it is a question of his action qua Member of Parliament, that in my respectful and humble judgment, is also clearly a matter for the Committee of Privileges, and I should be most hesitant about interfering on that ground. If his apprehension arises from activities outside Parliament, it seems to me that he should have as good treatment, and the same treatment, as any citizen of the Realm outside would get. That is the ground upon which I personally would stand.

I will examine the point about the Committee of Privileges or a special Select Committee of the House in a moment. When this point was put on 4th March, 1941, my right hon. Friend the Deputy Prime Minister, then Lord Privy Seal, said: I see no reason why one should say, that, because a person is a Member of this House we should scrutinise more closely any action taken against him by the Home Secretary than would be the case with any individual citizen. We should give the utmost protection we can to all citizens. I think it is wrong to say that the ordinary citizen is only to have a second-grade tribunal—because we should be setting up a special tribunal for one of our own Members—although the whole basis of the case against him is something he has done in his ordinary capacity as an individual."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 4th March, 1941; Vol. 369, c. 874.] I think that argument is sound and is, indeed, unanswerable.

What would the ordinary citizen say if there was a special procedure for Members of Parliament, not as regards their conduct in the House but as regards their conduct outside the House? The ordinary citizen, who is always ready to be suspicious of politicians, as we all know, would tend to say: "These Members of Parliament are looking after themselves. They are given special protection." I think it would do the House of Commons more harm than good.

Photo of Mr Herbert Morrison Mr Herbert Morrison , Hackney South

That is directly related to the Members' service of the House. It is a general issue, for the whole or a substantial portion of the House would be taken away. It seems to me that we should be claiming too much if we were to claim such special protection, and we should be liable to misunderstanding. Let us work it out. Suppose there were a Committee of the House. If the Committee were decisive, that is to say if the decision on continued detention or release was decided by the Committee, then to that extent the Home Secretary clearly could not be held responsible. But it may be said, "Let it be advisory." If it is advisory a most embarrassing situation may arise. If the Committee advised the Home Secretary to release and he did so, and had meant to do so of his own judgment and freely, was not afraid of the Committee of the House and was not afraid of the House, that is all right. I personally would not be afraid, but it is not a nice situation to be faced with a recommendation of a Select Committee and to have to think "Shall I defy this or not?" On the other hand, supposing he did not accept the advice, supposing it was one of those cases where the Home Secretary did not agree, the Committee would presumably report to the House that it had recommended release. It would be known to the House that the Home Secretary had not released. What do you do then?

Hon. Members:

Resign.

Photo of Mr Herbert Morrison Mr Herbert Morrison , Hackney South

Not a bit of it, not yet. If this Motion were carried to-day it would be a fair issue on which to resign.

Hon. Members:

No.

Photo of Mr Herbert Morrison Mr Herbert Morrison , Hackney South

Clearly it would. I am urging a line upon the House, and I have administered on that line. This is still a democratic country, and if the House tells me that I am wrong, I must as a Minister act in accordance with whether I am carrying Parliament with me or not. Do not think I am offended at all. I take a lot of offending. But it seems to me that the constitutional position is much the same as if the vote were on the reduction of my salary.

Let me get back to the other point. If I then disagreed with the Committee, assuming that the Committee was advisory, it would not be a question of resignation. I should still be the Minister administering Regulation 18B. If I disagreed with the Parliamentary advisory committee, what would happen? The Select Committee reports to the House; I take no notice of the Select Committee's report. The next thing, presumably, would be that the House would have to decide by Debate and vote whether it thought the Committee was right or wrong, and if the House decided that the Committee was right even then the fact that the Committee was advisory would mean that I need not, technically, take notice of the decision of the House. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh yes."] Not technically if the Committee is advisory. Yet may I hasten to add, before any expert Parliamentarian puts me right, that any Minister who thought he was going to survive long on those terms would be rather foolish. In fact he could not survive. He would be in trouble anyway when the Committee recommended release. He would be in an impossible position if the House recommended release and he did not release. The idea will not work.

I admire the motive, but again I bring the House back to the point that the only way for these exceptional powers to be administered, exceptional as they are and as I recognise them to be, is to place the responsibility fairly on the shoulders of the Minister, hold him accountable to Parliament, watch him with care. [HON. MEMBERS: "How can you?"] You do, you know, and you form your judgment as to whether he is acting straightly or fairly or is not, [HON. MEMBERS: "How?"] The House knows perfectly well whether I am acting straightly or fairly. The whole House knows whether I am acting fairly or not. The whole House knows that broadly speaking I have administered this Regulation properly. That is agreed. That is fine. I will save my salary yet. If that is so, that is the real test, and I say if I were not fairly administering this Regulation the House would soon get to know and the Home Secretary would go. I admit that it is not a 100 per cent. guarantee or 100 per cent. foolproof, but it is the best guarantee you can have. I have great faith in the House of Commons to form a broad judgment as to whether justice is or is not being done.

The point has been raised whether a criminal prosecution could or could not be taken against the hon. and gallant Member for Peebles and Southern. On that point, which is a perfectly fair one, I have to say that this was considered as this issue always is when there is any prima facie evidence. It was considered by the Law Officers and the Director of Public Prosecutions, but a prosecution was not initiated because the evidence available did not clearly establish the commission of a criminal offence. It is because activities dangerous to national security may be carried on without the commission of any criminal offence that Regulation 18B was made. It is the only reason for its existence.

Finally, on the question of release, I can only say about this case, as I would about any other, that the hon. and gallant Member's case is reviewed from time to time and carefully considered, but I have not yet come to the conclusion that he ought to be released. If and when—there must be a when—I am convinced that it is reasonable and in the public safety and security to release him I assure the House I shall release him, whether I get attacked for it or not. [Interruption.] If the hon. Member wishes to say something—

Photo of Mr Aneurin Bevan Mr Aneurin Bevan , Ebbw Vale

The Home Secretary said "when" he was satisfied that it was in the public interest he would release. I said I hope so.

Photo of Mr Herbert Morrison Mr Herbert Morrison , Hackney South

I did that before when I was satisfied I should release in another case. I cannot remember how every hon. Member voted, whether with me or against me on that occasion—on the Mosley case. I cannot remember how the hon. Member voted.

Photo of Mr Aneurin Bevan Mr Aneurin Bevan , Ebbw Vale

I do not remember myself.

Photo of Mr Herbert Morrison Mr Herbert Morrison , Hackney South

I hope my hon. Friend will never again accuse anyone of irresponsibility. See how quickly memories fade.

Photo of Mr Aneurin Bevan Mr Aneurin Bevan , Ebbw Vale

What has that to do with it?

Photo of Mr Herbert Morrison Mr Herbert Morrison , Hackney South

It has, really. I got into a lot of trouble for releasing a man when I was convinced that it was my duty to do so, and there was a critical situation for myself and the Government. I was attacked all over the place. I never saw trade union executives move with such promptitude.

Photo of Mr Aneurin Bevan Mr Aneurin Bevan , Ebbw Vale

There is another instance.

Photo of Mr Herbert Morrison Mr Herbert Morrison , Hackney South

I have watched the hon. Member's case with interest. As a fellow victim, I understand his feeling. They were nowhere nearly as quick with him. Everybody was after me—not everybody, but a whole lot of people were. Their motives were mixed, some acted from public interest, some were genuinely concerned and some acted from sheer personal jealousy. I had some very good friends with me on that occasion. The nature of this Regulation inevitably exposes you to attack whatever you do. I only say on this case, as I said on the other one, that when I am convinced that it is right and proper and consistent with the public interest that the hon. and gallant Member for Peebles and Southern should be released, I will release him, whether it pleases or whether it offends. To my hon. Friends I would say that they really do not improve my freedom of action. I have promised my freedom of action shall be retained but they no more improve it by even appearing to try to coerce me in this case than some of my hon. Friends opposite helped me when they made a big attack on me on the release of Sir Oswald Mosley.

Photo of Mr Austin Hopkinson Mr Austin Hopkinson , Mossley

There is one thing which disquiets a few Members of this House—I think, justifiably. The right hon. Gentleman says that before in any case he interns or releases a person, he first requires to be convinced. I think that Members in all parts of the House may be quite confident that the right hon. Gentleman acts in accordance with that proper principle, but is it the invariable rule, in all cases of detention or of release, that the convincing part of the thing is always done by the properly-constituted authority?

Photo of Mr Herbert Morrison Mr Herbert Morrison , Hackney South

I think the answer to that is, "Yes." The procedure is the same in all cases; and the final decision in 18B cases, believe me, is an absolutely personal one. I, personally, read all the evidence.

Photo of Mr Austin Hopkinson Mr Austin Hopkinson , Mossley

I think the whole House, certainly myself, are convinced that the right hon. Gentleman does detain or release perfectly straightforwardly and honestly. But convincing requires two parties, the person who convinces, and the person who is convinced. In the second case, it is always the right hon. Gentleman. I want to know whether the convincer is in all cases the same properly-constituted authority.

Photo of Mr Herbert Morrison Mr Herbert Morrison , Hackney South

I am sorry; I had not quite got the hon. Member's point. Broadly speaking, the answer to the question is, "Yes." The case moves up through the different grades of the Civil Service. The report of the Advisory Committee will be in their hands and mine in all cases. It may be that one member of the Civil Service is away, ill or on holiday, one day, and that we miss him then.

Photo of Mr Austin Hopkinson Mr Austin Hopkinson , Mossley

Does it never go up beyond the Civil Service?

Photo of Mr Herbert Morrison Mr Herbert Morrison , Hackney South

Yes, it gets beyond the Civil Service in two senses, one good, and the other, as the hon. Member may think, not quite so good. It goes to the Advisory Committee and to the security people.

Photo of Mr Austin Hopkinson Mr Austin Hopkinson , Mossley

Are not the security people civil servants?

Photo of Mr Herbert Morrison Mr Herbert Morrison , Hackney South

No, I would not say that they are all pukka civil servants. I consider all the evidence, and if the man's solicitor, or someone who says he has known him, has written about him, all that is before me on the file, too. I am very proud to believe that the Home Office has all the instincts of freedom and liberty.

Photo of Mr Herbert Morrison Mr Herbert Morrison , Hackney South

Other people, like the Noble Lord, who have been there before me, know that that is true. I have been impressed by the meticulous care which is taken to see that all the information is before me, particularly any information which is in favour of release. I should be very cross if that was not so. I can only say that, if and when circumstances warrant the release of the hon. and gallant Member, he will be released. I do not wish to keep him detained longer than is necessary. I have dealt with the point about the Advisory Committee; I have dealt with the point as to whether I can give particulars, and I have explained why I cannot. I think, with great respect, that I have covered all the essential points that have been raised in the Debate.

Photo of Sir Percy Harris Sir Percy Harris , Bethnal Green South West

There is just one other point. Will the right hon. Gentleman deal with the question of the disfranchising of the hon. and gallant Member's constituents?

Photo of Mr Herbert Morrison Mr Herbert Morrison , Hackney South

That is a wider point than I as Home Secretary can deal with. I can only express a personal opinion. I have great sympathy with the hon. and gallant Member's constituents: it is rough luck that for more than four years this constituency has not had a Member of Parliament functioning. I have shown why I do not think that, from the point of view of release, I can deal with that situation. The only question is, whether we ought to have power to say that this Member of Parliament should be excluded from the House, and that, therefore, there ought to be a by-election. The Member could have resigned; but that is for the Member himself to decide. The difficulty is that there are certain provisions already that, where a Member of Parliament is guilty of a criminal offence beyond a certain point or is bankrupt, he is excluded, but this type of case is not covered. If we are to extend these provisions, especially in view of the delicate issues which arise, I do not think anyway that it could be urged that the Government should exclude him. That would be quite wrong. The only other way would be for the House to declare, by a majority, that the seat was vacant. There are majorities and majorities. There are political parties in the House. This Member belongs to one political party. I sympathise with the constituency, but I think that the power of exclusion from Parliament, even by the House itself, could be very dangerous. On the whole, I would be disposed to advise, and personally to declare, against it.

I am sorry that I have been on—and off—my feet as long as I have. I would not have been as long if I had not had a good deal of interruption. I thank hon. Members for their consideration. No bones have been broken, and I hope no feelings have been hurt. I told the House that if I could see ways in which this Regulation could be suitably amended, or the administration altered, to improve it, from the point of view of liberty and of the freedom of the individual and the security of the State, I would be the last to resist, and the first to recommend, them. Honestly, I do not think it can be done. We have got through a long period of the war, and only one Member of Parliament has been detained. I do not want to commit myself, but I have no other Member of Parliament in the list for consideration. I think that, when the decks are cleared, either during the war or after, and there is no Member of Parliament in detention, it might well be a matter for consideration by this House, or perhaps a Committee of this House, whether anything can be done as regards the future. I do not think that any harm has been done up to now, but I think there may be arguments as to whether the Executive should have the right to interfere with Members of Parliament. I can only advise the House to continue to watch, to continue to do its best to form a judgment as to whether the Home Secretary has acted rightly in the exercise of his judgment. I promise the House, in all sincerity, that, as the Minister charged with this grave executive function, I will be guided by my own conscience, and that I will administer this Regulation as fairly as I can. I will just add that my speaking does not in any way, of course, close the Debate, and that my right hon. and learned Friend the Attorney-General will be ready to deal with any further points which may be made.

Photo of Viscount  Turnour Viscount Turnour , Horsham and Worthing

One often hears Members of this House say that they are going to deliver only three sentences, after which they go on to make a long speech, but I am, literally, going to utter only three sentences. Like a great many hon. Gentlemen, I came down to this House profoundly disturbed, and my disturbance was not removed by the most eloquent speeches made by my hon. Friends opposite in support of the Motion. I submit that the case made out by the Home Secretary is unanswerable, and I, therefore, give way to any hon. Gentleman who is bold enough to get up and answer him.

Photo of Commander William King-Hall Commander William King-Hall , Ormskirk

I find no difficulty in answering that challenge, I will answer the Home Secretary and I shall confine myself to that part of the Motion dealing with the detention of a Member of Parliament. I think the Home Secretary has dismissed the matter rather too lightly when, at the end of his speech, he said that one can make out, superficially, a case against detaining Members of Parliament in present circumstances. I am bound to say that I think it is a very fundamental matter indeed, and far from superficial. The second point I should like to remark about is that he thought it was easier and in general more suitable from every point of view that the responsibility for the detention of a Member should lie solely on the shoulders of a Minister rather than have that responsibility shared with a Committee of Members of this House either advisory, or legalistic, and responsible to this House. The right hon. Gentleman said it simply would not work. All that I would say to that is, first, that it has not been tried, and, secondly, the British Constitution and our procedure are full of matters which, logically, would not work but which, in fact, do work, and my own feeling, in regard to the Home Secretary's demand that he has to live with public opinion, the House of Commons and the nation generally, is that he would be in no difficulty in living with this Select Committee if it was set up. But I would rather see that the responsibility for the detention of an hon. Member of this House should be in the hands of such a Committee than in the hands of one particular person, be he Minister or anyone else.

Photo of Mr Arthur Woodburn Mr Arthur Woodburn , Clackmannan and Eastern

Suppose the House disagreed with the Committee. What remedy would the House have over the Committee? It would have the remedy of dismissing the Minister, but could it dismiss the Committee?

Photo of Commander William King-Hall Commander William King-Hall , Ormskirk

Obviously, it could. If the House disagreed with the Committee, the House would ask the Committee to cease to exist and the opinion of the House would prevail. It is even possible to consider a situation in which this House might try to vote away its own privileges and become a dummy House. In that case the only privilege left to them in my opinion would be that of hanging by their necks from lampposts in Parliament Square at the hands of an outraged public opinion. The common people of England are the last defence against Parliament surrendering its own liberties. But I will confine myself to the case of a Member of Parliament. I accept 18B reluctantly, in time of war and of emergency, and if the Home Secretary tells me that we are still in a grave emergency, then I will accept that for the time being, and with it, the ordinary operation of 18B. I would just like to say that I was a little alarmed when the Home Secretary said "The short answer is that we are at war." I do not want to hear, first, that 18B goes on until the end of the European war, and then to be told that it will have to go on until the end of the Japanese war, and then somebody else might come down to the House and say that, owing to the difficult period, it would have to go on for an indefinite time longer. However, the Home Secretary has told us that he is anxious to get rid of it as soon as possible.

I suggest that the detention of a Member of Parliament under this Regulation is a very different matter indeed from that of the ordinary citizen. One argument is made that under this delegated legislation, there is the last resort of the right of the citizen to get a matter raised in this House by his Member of Parliament. That right, obviously, means nothing at all unless the Member of Parliament is free from arrest. There is also the fear that, if a Member of Parliament is liable to arrest—although I hope that no hon. Members will allow this to influence their actions—there is, in fact, a threat hanging over them. The Home Secretary has said, however, that nobody is on his waiting list at the Home Office, and so we may continue our work without fear of any kind. By this remark he admits by implication that we are under a threat. We are told that in this matter an hon. Member is no different from the citizens. I say that that view is constitutionally unsound. What I am saying is that the right of an hon. Member to immunity from arrest is a matter of Privilege. We have heard the Home Secretary tell us that the Committee of Privilege have decided that the detention of one of the hon. Members of this House under Regulation 18B was not a breach of Privilege. With the utmost respect, as a junior Member of this House, I think the Committee of Privilege was wrong.

Photo of Mr Donald Somervell Mr Donald Somervell , Crewe

It was not the Committee of Privilege, but the House. It was not the decision of the Committee, and my hon. Friend might, at least, be correct. The Committee of Privilege does not decide these things; it recommends them to the House.

Photo of Mr Aneurin Bevan Mr Aneurin Bevan , Ebbw Vale

That is a pedantic corber of the Committee of Privileges that I not likely to recommend that any breach has occurred, and we can only quarrel with the Committee or accept its decision. We had as much information before us as had the Committee of Privilege, and that was none.

Photo of Viscount  Turnour Viscount Turnour , Horsham and Worthing

May I say, as a Member of the Committee of Privilege, that I have always understood that when a Select Committee reported to the House and the House accepted the report of that Select Committee, it was not open to criticise the action of the Committee in the first instance.

Photo of Mr Aneurin Bevan Mr Aneurin Bevan , Ebbw Vale

While it is not competent for any hon. Member to disagree with a decision of the House, he is entitled to disagree with a decision of a Committee.

Photo of Mr Maurice Petherick Mr Maurice Petherick , Penryn and Falmouth

It has happened on many occasions that the Committee of Privileges has taken a different view to that expressed on a similar case by a previous Committee of Privileges, and, therefore, it is not in the least objectionable, or against the Rules of Order, to criticise any decision of the Committee of Privileges.

Photo of Mr Douglas Clifton Brown Mr Douglas Clifton Brown , Hexham

That may be so, but once the House has given a decision, and it is a decision of the House, it must not be challenged. We are bound by that.

Photo of Commander William King-Hall Commander William King-Hall , Ormskirk

I accept the correction of the Attorney-General. I should have said the recommendation of the Committee of Privileges and not used the word "decision." But I insist that I profoundly regret the character of that recommendation, and I hope I am not out of Order in expressing my regret that I, amongst other hon. Members of the House, agreed with that recommendation of the Committee at the time. I think I can safely say for myself that I made a great mistake and I am glad to admit it. As I have said the part of the Motion in which I am most interested is that dealing with the responsibility of the House for its action when it decided to incarcerate one of its Members. The hon. Member for East Wolverhampton (Mr. Mander) said it would not add to the prestige of the Committee and this House if it included persons who held certain views. I thought his speech a monstrous speech and if some of the views he advanced were accepted, the House would soon have no prestige at all. I am sorry I did not warn him I should attack him, but I did not think, Mr. Speaker, I should be called immediately after the Home Secretary.

I have very little more to say except that, at the root of this matter, is this question whether or not the incarceration of a Member is, fundamentally, a matter of Privilege. I assert it is. Privilege really depends on the desire and the willingness of Members to keep it in being and to guard it very jealously, and if we do not do that, there is always pressure to reduce Privilege. I would even venture to say—and I do not think that I am constitutionally wrong here—that it is the duty of this House to re-enact it in changing circumstances, if necessary, so that it retains its fundamental purpose, and the fundamental purpose of Privilege is that a Member of Parliament shall be able to do his duty. It is a means to an end. It is not that Members of Parliament have a more comfortable life, or have easier circumstances, but that they should be able to do their job. I have been alarmed at the apparent fear on the part of Members, during the short time Mat I have been in this House, to assert themselves completely. I desire that they should demand and insist that anything be done that they can prove is necessary for them to carry out their duties in this House, It is not only their right, but their duty to demand this privilege.

I strongly support the observation made by the hon. Member for Gravesend (Sir I. Albery), who opened the Debate, when he said that it was a concern to him that there had not been public alarm or concern over the question of this Member being incarcerated. I think he is right. I do not think it has caused a sort of terror throughout the country which I would have hoped it had. There was an uproar of quite a wrong character in connection with the release of one of these detainees, but very little seems to have been heard about the much more fundamental matter with which a Member of this House was being concerned.

Therefore, in conclusion, I want to say, in as emphatic a manner as I can, that I am not satisfied in the present stage of the war that there is anything in which there can be a public danger in keeping in detention a Member of this House without some satisfaction having been given by some body of Members in whom this House has confidence that it is necessary for him to be kept in detention. I feel so strongly on this that, though I accept the continuation of the ordinary operation of 18B, provided with the safeguard, in so far as Members of this House are concerned, I want to arouse Members on this question, and I shall certainly vote for this Motion if it is put to a Division.

Photo of Mr Hugh Lawson Mr Hugh Lawson , Skipton

I wish to support the Motion which has been put forward but not because I wish in any way to associate myself with the policy of the hon. Members who have put the Motion forward or with the views and actions of the Member who has been detained. I would like to separate the two points of the Motion and give rather more time to the one which I consider important and which requires more time to be given to it than was given by the Home Secretary. He spent his time speaking about 18B in general, which is something which is necessary in war time, but it is very important that we should differentiate between the position of an ordinary individual and the position of a Member of Parliament in this matter. With the hon. and gallant Member for Ormskirk (Commander King-Hall), I believe this is a fundamental issue of Privilege. If, as the Home Secretary has said, a new issue of Privilege is involved and it would involve the making of a new privilege, then I demand that a new privilege. should be made to meet these conditions.

One of the duties of this House is to see that changes are made in the government of our country which are necessary for the times. It is always true to say that when somebody proposes a change, such a change is felt to be outrageous by those people who, up to that time, have had the government of the country. When small changes are being proposed, this may not matter very much, but when we are at a time of big changes, it will always be thought by the Executive that the views of the few who want to make changes are so outrageous that every means should be taken to prevent them from getting their way. I want to be absolute in this matter. There must be the right, which cannot be tampered with in any way, of every elected Member of Parliament to express his views in this House. That is a principle to which I can see no objection. Nothing that the Home Secretary or any other hon. Member has said is in opposition to that statement. It is a point that we should insist should be maintained in every possible way.

Photo of Mr Aneurin Bevan Mr Aneurin Bevan , Ebbw Vale

The Home Secretary need not take any exception at all to what a Member says; all he need do is to clap him into prison and not give any reason at all why he has done so.

Photo of Mr Hugh Lawson Mr Hugh Lawson , Skipton

I thank my hon. Friend for his interruption, but I want to hang my argument on the assertion that the right of the elected Member to speak in this House is absolute, and even above any consideration of the safety of the Realm. We are trying to preserve the Realm with a democratic type of government. If we were concerned only with the safety of the Realm, we could probably have compromised with the enemy, but there are things which are more important than the safety of the Realm. On a practical issue, however, it is possible to combine this absolute right with normal security. The Home Secretary could, if he set his mind to it, combine the freedom of speech of a Member, however outrageous his views, with the safety of the State. The Member in question could be detained at a suitable place near here and brought here under arrest, and as soon as he got to the House he should be enabled to make speeches. He could have been given a little room in this House. It would perhaps have been necessary to supervise his correspondence, check his telephone calls and see, when he had interviews with persons, there was someone present, and if he gave information of use to the enemy then the person to whom he gave it could be interned.

I believe that practical ways could be found of allowing the detained Member to come here and speak. If the right hon. Gentleman finds that a particular Member should be detained, the question should be asked, Does such a Member how represent his constituents? There could be a way of putting it to a democratic test say in a General Election. If the House had wanted to maintain Privilege there could have been a dissolution so that the electors could have a chance of giving a new mandate to all hon. Members. I am a new Member here, Mr. Speaker, and I would like to ask for a little more information as to the grounds on which a Member can be expelled. Can he be expelled for refusing to maintain the Rules of Order or can a majority vote put him out? If it is the case that a majority vote can expel a Member just because a majority does not like him, I am quite sure that is a thing which ought to be stopped. It may be my ignorance of procedure of the House that makes me ask that question. Another point is whether the constituents should have the right to recall their Member if they want to do so. I know there are difficulties in that particular matter but they could be overcome—if, for instance, over 50 per cent, of the persons registered on the Electoral Roll in his constituency demanded by signature that he should resign, that, it seems to me, would be absolutely concrete proof that he no longer had the confidence of his constituents.

Photo of Mr Douglas Clifton Brown Mr Douglas Clifton Brown , Hexham

The hon. Member is going beyond the scope of the Motion.

Photo of Mr Hugh Lawson Mr Hugh Lawson , Skipton

I had come to the end of that particular point, Mr. Speaker, and was not going to carry it further. I was just trying to indicate that I do not think as much thought as is necessary has been given to finding out ways and means of combining the security of the State with the privileges of this House. Important as it is at the present time that only one Member is in detention out of 615, I do not: think that is any excuse in a matter of principle like this, because I can see times ahead after the war, when the problems we shall have to face will be just as difficult as the problems we are facing now, and it would then be up to a Government to say, "We have difficult times, we must have some sort of Defence Regulations." Therefore, my hon. Friends and I take an absolute view on this and I shall record my vote for this Motion on those grounds.

Photo of Mr Tom Driberg Mr Tom Driberg , Maldon

It is a remarkable fact and one must be impressed by it, I think, that of all the speeches made in this Debate, eight have been in favour of the Motion and, apart from the Home Secretary's, only two against it. The hon. and gallant Member far Ormskirk (Commander King-Hall) and the mover of the Motion remarked on the fact that there has not been a great deal of anxiety in the country generally about this matter. In my view, the instinct of the country on this matter is sounder than that of the hon. Members who have spoken in support of the Motion. The mover and seconder both spoke most moderately and persuasively. I liked very much the French quotation of the hon. Member for Gravesend (Sir I. Albery)—"Le coeur a ses raisons." Unfortunately, my intuitions work along different lines from his intuitions.

Photo of Mr Aneurin Bevan Mr Aneurin Bevan , Ebbw Vale

That is where intuitions are bad.

Photo of Mr Tom Driberg Mr Tom Driberg , Maldon

Maybe; he was using his intuitions as an argument for his Motion, and I am using my intuitions as an argument against it.

I do not want to deal with the general issue of 18B but with the particular issue of the hon. and gallant Member for Peebles and Southern (Captain Ramsay) which, as the Home Secretary was right in insisting, is obviously in Order on this Motion. Unlike many hon. Members who have spoken, I have never met the hon. and gallant Member, I know nothing about him personally, and I have no personal feelings whatever against him. I have no vendetta against him, although I may have to say some hard words. I realise, indeed, the tragedy of his situation. I realise that he is a man of sincerity, although to me it seems a warped and psychopathic sincerity. But I cannot agree with those who are now beginning to take a rather easy-going, "let-byegones-be-byegones" attitude about the hon. and gallant Member's record. The attitude which is often expressed informally and colloquially by his friends is, "Oh, well, dear old Archie was a bit cracked but he never meant any harm." In my view that is not a serious enough way of regarding his record. Several hon. Members have asked, "What has he done? We do not know of anything he has done. We have never been told." I venture to suggest that we know one thing he has done, because it is doubly on record. Here is this hon. and gallant Member, for whom the Privilege of this House is being claimed, and I maintain that he has abused that Privilege by manipulating the machinery of the House to assist the enemy in time of war.

Photo of Mr Richard Stokes Mr Richard Stokes , Ipswich

Would my hon. Friend give me evidence of that since the hon. and gallant Gentleman is not here to defend himself?

Photo of Mr Tom Driberg Mr Tom Driberg , Maldon

Certainly. I thought that one of the hon. and gallant Member's Friends would rise to that point, and therefore I armed myself—

Photo of Mr Richard Stokes Mr Richard Stokes , Ipswich

As I have not had an opportunity of speaking in this Debate, let me make my position quite clear. I am not a friend of the hon. and gallant Members. I am a colleague of his in the House, and that is all, and I stand for his rights as for those of anyone else.

Photo of Mr Tom Driberg Mr Tom Driberg , Maldon

Certainly, but I think it is fair to say that although he is not here to speak for himself, he has plenty of, if not friends, at any rate colleagues who will defend him, and he is, after all, part of the issue that we are discussing.

Photo of Mr Hugh Lawson Mr Hugh Lawson , Skipton

Is the hon. Member suggesting that any hon. Member who supports this Motion, has in any way tried to defend the action of the hon. and gallant Member for Peebles and Southern?

Photo of Mr Tom Driberg Mr Tom Driberg , Maldon

Most of them have been noticeably careful to avoid doing so. However, as I said, I guessed that somebody would rise when I made that remark, and so I have armed myself with the evidence. I will not weary the House by reading it all.

Photo of Sir Arthur Baxter Sir Arthur Baxter , Wood Green

On a point of Order, Mr. Speaker. Has the House now become a tribunal to try the case of the hon. and gallant Gentleman? I ask because an hon. Member is about to make charges against him and there is no one here to answer for the hon. and gallant Gentleman. Has the status of the House of Commons altered? Are we now a tribunal trying the case?

Photo of Mr Douglas Clifton Brown Mr Douglas Clifton Brown , Hexham

The hon. Member will be aware that when the hon. Member for East Wolverhampton (Mr. Mander) read out a very long statement of evidence, I said that he must keep to the Motion before the House.

Photo of Sir Arthur Baxter Sir Arthur Baxter , Wood Green

Arising out of that, is it not more than irrelevant? Is this not really a breach of the Privileges of the House? And is it not against all Parliamentary convention?

Photo of Mr Douglas Clifton Brown Mr Douglas Clifton Brown , Hexham

I think not, as long as it imputes no dishonourable motive.

Photo of Mr Aneurin Bevan Mr Aneurin Bevan , Ebbw Vale

On that point of Order, Mr. Speaker. I am getting into a very confused condition. Though maybe it is my own fault, probably my confusion is shared by the rest of the House. Am I entitled to quarrel with the hon. Member after he has finished, if I catch your eye, and contend that the House of Commons was quite wrong in agreeing that the hon. and gallant Member should be kept in detention, thereby quarrelling with a decision of the House? Can an hon. Member support a decision of the House and no hon. Member oppose it? If so, it makes it a most lop-sided situation for hon. Members. I would be entirely out of Order, as has already been painted out, in quarrelling with a decision of the House and in talking upon a report of the Committee of Privileges: but, apparently, any hon. Member can make long speeches in support of the Privileges of the House. We are getting into a most confused state.

Photo of Mr Tom Driberg Mr Tom Driberg , Maldon

Surely if it is out of Order to criticise a decision of the House it is not therefore out of Order to speak in support of that decision.

Photo of Mr Aneurin Bevan Mr Aneurin Bevan , Ebbw Vale

If a decision of the House cannot be called into question it is redundant, irrelevant and a waste of time to support a decision with which one cannot quarrel.

Photo of Mr Douglas Clifton Brown Mr Douglas Clifton Brown , Hexham

I do not think it can be said that a decision of the House can never be called into question. We are bound by it, however, until it is repealed or altered.

Photo of Mr Tom Driberg Mr Tom Driberg , Maldon

My hon. Friend the Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. Bevan) is now speaking from the Front Bench—almost from the despatch-box—and is acquiring quite those airs and views. I think it would be unfortunate if the intervention of the hon. Member for Wood Green (Mr. Baxter) prevented me from now substantiating the damaging statements which I have made, and which the hon. Member for Ipswich (Mr. Stokes) challenged me to substantiate. But if you, Mr. Speaker, rule that it is slightly irrelevant to do so, I will not substantiate them, but will merely refer hon. Members to the case which has already been referred to to-day—the libel action that was brought by the hon. and gallant Member for Peebles and Southern against the "New York Times." I have the record of evidence here, and I was prepared to read a few questions and answers from it, to substantiate what I have said. To my mind, the admissions then made in the witness box were extremely damaging. Furthermore, with great respect to you, Mr. Speaker, may I point out that the Home Secretary supported the hon. Member for East Wolverhampton (Mr. Mander), to my mind quite rightly, by saying that the Motion itself said that detention of the hon. and gallant Member "ought to cease." Surely, it is extremely relevant to speak to that. Having made my charge I would like, briefly, to quote one or two questions and answers from the evidence given in the case. It will be within the knowledge of many Members that the matter referred to was a Parliamentary Question asked by the hon. and gallant Member for Peebles and Southern, in the course of which he mentioned the wave-length of a Nazi-controlled broadcasting station.

Photo of Mr Reginald Manningham-Buller Mr Reginald Manningham-Buller , Daventry

People have given evidence in all sorts of trials and have sometimes made the most damaging admissions, but the verdict has not always followed on those admissions. Therefore, is it really fair that the hon. Member should read out a few haphazard admissions?

Photo of Mr Tom Driberg Mr Tom Driberg , Maldon

In this case I think it is fair to say that the verdict did follow on the evidence, because the House has already heard the judgment which followed in the same case and about the farthing damages awarded to the hon. and gallant Member for Peebles and Southern. So I think it is fair to read one or two questions and answers. I was explaining that the hon. and gallant Member gave, in a Question in this House, the wave-length of an enemy-controlled radio station. During the cross-examination questions were directed to finding out why he had thought it necessary to include the actual wave-length instead of simply notifying the Minister of it privately. The questions put by the judge and the answers were as follow: The jury thought that the object was to increase the German audience. There is no use broadcasting, is there, unless you have an audience?—No, that is true, my Lord.Anything that will increase the audience is what the other side wants?—Yes, I can see that, too.You could see it then, too, could you not?—Yes, up to a point.But you wanted to increase the German audience?—Put that way, my Lord.I do not care about 'put that way.' I want plain answers.—Yes. That "Yes" was one of the most self-damnatory monosyllables ever uttered in the witness-box. By any ordinary definition of the word, it can be said that the hon. and gallant Member for Peebles and Southern, in using the machinery of the House in that way, was playing the part of a Quisling.

Photo of Mr William Shaw Mr William Shaw , Forfarshire

Why did the Table allow the uestion to be put, if it was detrimental to the safety of the country? Is it not a fact that the "Daily Express" advertised these wavelengths every day?

Photo of Mr Tom Driberg Mr Tom Driberg , Maldon

I am glad that the hon. and gallant Member has reminded me of the fact that some papers, including, I think, "The Times"—I am not sure about the "Daily Express"—were advertising enemy wavelengths at that time, because that point has been used before in arguments on this specific matter. The answer to that—and I think it is a perfectly good answer—is that the wavelengths of enemy stations advertised in the Press were of openly enemy stations, known to be German and manifestly German. This one was called "The New British Broadcasting Station." It was pretending not to be German. Nothing in its talks or news identified it with Germany at all; it purported to be British, the announcer spoke with a Cockney accent, and so on. It was purely a Quisling station. That is the essential difference between that and those advertised in the Press.

A girl was sentenced to five years' penal servitude for doing almost what the hon. and gallant Member for Peebles and Southern did; that is to say, she circulated postcards giving the wavelength of this enemy station. It is said: Why detain a man without trial, why not bring him to trial? If he had been tried for something which arose materially out of his actions and out of his Parliamentary Question in this House, I believe some hon. Members would have been found to say that to prosecute a man for a Parliamentary Question—[HON. MEMBERS: "It could not be."]—was a far greater breach of Privilege. [HON. MEMBERS: "No."] Well, it has been said, Why not try him? It would undoubtedly have been contributory evidence in the case. If it had been referred to it would have been argued that it was a much greater breach—

Photo of Mr Quintin Hogg Mr Quintin Hogg , Oxford

Is the hon. Member aware that proceedings in this House are quite outside the jurisdiction of the courts, and does he not appreciate that the Home Secretary did not detain the hon. and gallant Member for Peebles and Southern for anything whatever to do with what he did in this House? Has not the hon. Member brought this in simply to attack a man who is not here?

Photo of Mr Tom Driberg Mr Tom Driberg , Maldon

That strengthens very much the case that it would probably have been very difficult to bring the hon. and gallant Member to trial, and that it was necessary simply to detain him since he was engaged in these dangerous practices. Members of Parliament are not above the criminal law. Hon. Members have repeatedly referred to that to-day. We are not above the law, and in wartime the criminal law is supplemented by a number of Regulations which are essential for the safety of the community. Members of Parliament cannot claim to be above the Regulations, any more than they can claim to be above the law.

I see extraordinary difficulties and anomalies in the situation, especially as it affects the hon. and gallant Member's constituents. That is a point which has rightly worried hon. Members again and again. I wonder whether it would be possible, as some hon. Members have tentatively suggested, to devise constitutional procedure whereby Members could, with due safeguards against action by the Executive alone, be deprived of their seats if they have been detained for a considerable period, just as they are unseated if they commit a breach of the criminal law? A few weeks ago there was an extremely interesting Debate in this House, initiated by the Noble Lord the Member for Horsham and Worthing (Earl Winterton), to which the hon. Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. Bevan) made a notable contribution, on the need for, so to speak, streamlining Parliamentary procedure to adapt it to the changed circumstances of the world in which we live. I wonder whether something of the same kind is not needed in regard to our conception of Privilege.

We are not agreed on all sides of the House about the type of war that we are engaged in. Some see it simply as a straight-forward national war on old-fashioned lines, others see it as a more ideological war. But I think we should all be agreed in saying that, since the last war, that part of warfare which is known as political warfare has made enormous advances. There is the radio, there are leaflets, there is the new term "Quisling," there is the term, dating from the Spanish war, "Fifth columnist"—terms which are different by slight gradations of meaning from the old term "traitor" or "spy." In view of the enormous advance in the art of political warfare, and the ingenuity which the enemy has shown, I suggest that this is not the moment for relaxation of Regulation 18B or for setting free too many more of those who are detained under it. Some Members talk as though the war were practically over. Despite the wild missiles which have been hurtling round our housetops lately, there has not been the intensified blitz which some people feared might be the reaction to the British and American invasion of Europe; but I am sure the Home Secretary would not tell us that he proposed to disband the Civil Defence services. The Home Guard have never been more alert than they are now. There is a danger—and the Government are aware of it—that parachutists might land and try to disorganise our transport. With all these considerations in mind, I suggest that this is not the time even to consider the release of hundreds of Quislings or potential quislings.

I feel inclined to quote, in a different sense from that in which hon. Members opposite might quote it, the old tag: Liberty, what crimes are committed in thy name! This week we have heard some rather curious things argued under the cloak of liberty. On Tuesday some Members were defending the "fundamental liberty" to poison children's milk. Today they have been defending, in effect, the liberty to poison people's minds with enemy propaganda. I do not say to the right hon. Gentleman, as some people might, "Jug the lot," though I do not believe the public would mind very much if he did; but I ask him not to be too tender to those who abuse the sacred name of liberty, and those who would have destroyed all our liberties if their machinations had been successful.

Photo of Mr Richard Stokes Mr Richard Stokes , Ipswich

I cannot take up all the points in the speech we have just heard but I would say about it and about the speech of the hon. Member for East Wolverhampton (Mr. Mander) that I think they were both deplorable. Whatever the rights of a Member to say what he thinks, as a matter of common fairness I think it is most unjust that the actions of the hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for Peebles and Southern (Captain Ramsay) should have been called in question in his absence. In view of the way the hon. Member for East Wolverhampton raised the matter, I should like to ask him whether he gave notice to the hon. and gallant Gentleman that he intended to raise the matter in that way, so that he could have asked some other Member to sponsor his case.

Photo of Sir Geoffrey Mander Sir Geoffrey Mander , Wolverhampton East

Certainly not. The case was heard in court, the hon. and gallant Gentleman's case was put by his counsel, and I read, as objectively as I could, extracts from the decision of the judge.

Photo of Mr Richard Stokes Mr Richard Stokes , Ipswich

That is just what I thought the hon. Member would not have done, and it is unfair that he should not have done so. As far as the judgment is concerned, I suppose we are debarred from criticising the judicature, but I have read it, and I watched the case, and I think the judgment was more colourful than judicial. I have been to see the hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for Peebles and Southern. I always have a feeling for a chap who is locked up, whatever he has been locked up for. It is most deplorable that a Member of the House should be locked up. I know that very few Members do see him, but I have been from time to time to Brixton Prison, and I was there yesterday. As he has been attacked, I propose to make one or two remarks on what he said, though I do not pretend that I am able to state his case because I do not think he himself really knows what he is locked up for. Certainly the Select Committee which inquired into the question of Privilege were never told the reason. [Interruption.] It is all very well to laugh, but here is a man who fought in the last war. His political views are entirely opposed to mine.

Photo of Sir Geoffrey Mander Sir Geoffrey Mander , Wolverhampton East

You are both in favour of peace by negotiation.

Photo of Mr Richard Stokes Mr Richard Stokes , Ipswich

The policy of the Labour Party is that peace, to be just and lasting, must be agreed and not dictated, and I shall always stand by that. The House does not realise that the hon. and gallant Gentleman has lost one son in the war, he has one son in the Army and one who is just going in; he has a stepson in the Army and another son who volunteered, but was refused and is now engaged in Civil Defence work. What the hon. Member for Shettleston (Mr. McGovern) said just now has a lot of truth in it. When I asked the hon. and gallant Gentleman the straight question, "What are you locked up for?" he said, "I think for two reasons only, first, because I am, and I think I shall continue to be, a believer in the Protocols of Zion." I have never read those things, and whether that view would be a reason for putting a person in a mental home is another matter. He continued by saying that he was in, secondly, because the Government suspected that he had more knowledge than he actually had of the documents in the Tyler Kent case, and the correspondence between the Prime Minister and President Roosevelt which was conducted, so as to evade the censorship. He absolutely denied that he had anything to do with the Loch Lomond wireless.

The Home Office for some reason seem to be very anxious, if what I am told is correct, to keep the hon. and gallant Gentleman in. I do not say that the Home Secretary is trying to do so, because I am a complete supporter of his fairness of mind. I have always supported him. He may not be aware of it, but there it is. I have criticised him too, but that is very often the fairest form of support. I have been shown a document stating that another detained person, when he went before the advisory committee, was pressed to say that the hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for Peebles and Southern had revealed matters which he had heard in Secret Session to other detained persons, and the man who went before the Committee was told that, if he consented to say so, he would be released, and the statement was signed by no less a person than Prince Henry of Pless. I will furnish the Home Secretary with the information if he wishes, and I hope he will have it properly looked into.

I want to take up a point about the Advisory Committee. The Home Secretary played the old game which the Prime Minister so often plays—"I am in the hands of the House." That is just where he is not. The House was very dubious about the whole of this Regulation and did not like it, so an Advisory Committee was devised as a protection. The Home Secretary said openly to-day, "You would soon be after me if I was not fair." What he is doing is trading on the good will of every Member of the House and on their feeling that he would be fair. We have no evidence on this point. All we know is that an Advisory Committee was set up to safeguard the individual, but when it recommends release the Home Secretary sometimes chooses to over-rule it, but we are not told his reasons. We would like an opportunity of knowing whether the Home Secretary is fair. I agree with the hon. Member for Gravesend (Sir I. Albery) that where the recommendation of the Advisory Committee has been over-ruled, the Member who represents the individual should be told substantially the reasons why the Home Secretary has decided that he must continue to detain him. I fail to see how we in this House are to defend the liberties of the people we represent unless we are given that right. It is nonsense to say that Members of Parliament are in this matter on the same footing as everybody else. Every Member of this House is filled up with secret information which he has no right to disclose, and which he would not disclose, and surely, if we trust legions of civil servants and advisory committees with the facts, the Member who represents the detained person should be allowed to know what the reasons for his detention are.

There are one or two points of a minor nature which I want to make on behalf of the people who are detained. The Home Secretary agrees that it is important that detention should not be punitive. Will he please pay serious attention to this matter? I have raised it before, and it has not yet been put right. I can give him evidence in over 40 cases where, after a man has been released and has got into a job, the police have come round a few days afterwards and warned his employers that they had a very dangerous man on the premises. As often as not the man was sacked as a result. That is not fair. I see the importance of the police knowing where the people are, but they should not interfere. Representations were made to the Home Office on this matter, and the Home Office said they could not help it as the Ministry of Labour insisted on it. When representations were made to the Ministry of Labour, they said that the Home Office were insisting on it. So where are we? I ask the Home Secretary to look properly into the matter and see that all these people are not prejudiced.

Another point which was raised by the hon. Member for Gravesend, is about people being able to clear their characters when they are released. I raised this matter first in 1940, and practically everybody has written to me and told me of their cases. I know a great number of distressing cases where people have not been able to get themselves back into the same position that they held before, in spite of the fact that they were released without a stain on their character. A great many people feel strongly on this matter and want an opportunity of clearing themselves. I hope that some effort will be made at the end of the war whereby there can be made available the full reasons for their detention, because a great number do not know the reason at all. There should also be supplied the evidence on which the Home Secretary detained them. If 18B cannot be done away with altogether, something should be done to modify it. I do not believe, with great respect for the Home Secretary, that the House ever meant the Regulation to go the way in which it has gone. It was put in at a time of great emergency. Nobody thought the war would still be going on in 1944, except a comparative handful, and I do not think that the House ever dreamed that one of its Members would be locked up for four years, or any ordinary person either, for that matter. I ask the Government to accept the Motion so that the case of the hon. and gallant Member for Peebles and Southern can be properly reviewed and the Regulation modified as soon as possible.

Photo of Sir Arthur Baxter Sir Arthur Baxter , Wood Green

I have only three or four minutes, and I shall have to say bluntly what I feel and not lead up to it by any oratory. In this country we never needed 18B at all, for the soil of this country does not breed traitors. That is not the discussion today, however. A challenge has come to this House and to every Member. For four years a Member of Parliament has been detained without trial. For four years his constituency has not been represented and the House has permitted that to go on. I believe that as the years pass by and historians come to deal with this section of the story of the British Parliament, it will be a chapter of shame and wonderment. This Member was elected by the people. It does not matter whether he is guilty or not. It is irrelevant and mischievous for an hon. Member to begin to try the case here. We are not asking whether he is guilty. We are asking in the name of the House of Commons that a fellow Member, protected by the traditions and privileges of the House, should come to us, either in a Select Committee or in Secret Session, so that it can be decided by us whether he should continue to be a Member of Parliament. For the Home Secretary to refuse that is to challenge the authority of the House. It does not mean that if we decided that the hon. and gallant Member is a fit Member of the House that should affect the Home Secretary's judgment. I appeal to you, Sir, in this matter, because you are the guardian and spokesman of our rights and privileges. I want to repeat the words of Abraham Lincoln, who, when his Cabinet rebelled on the impact of the Civil War and refused to reinforce Fort Sumpter, said: There comes a moment in history when neither by your significance nor by your insignificance can you escape the judgment of those who will follow. My hon. Friends and myself who put our names to this Motion will press it to a Division. We believe that this matter is far above the discipline of party or the loyalty which we feel so strongly towards the Government and our personal loyalty to the Home Secretary. Every Member must record by his vote whether or not a Member of this House shall be detained for four years without a hearing. Those who vote that this is right will, I believe, look back with great regret that they took that decision as Members of the House.

Photo of Rear-Admiral Tufton Beamish Rear-Admiral Tufton Beamish , Lewes

The Home Secretary is presumably protecting the country and the Government against some danger or another. I do not know what the danger is. I want the Attorney-General to be good enough to inform us. If it is a general danger, we shall all understand. If it is a specific and a particular danger, will he define it?

Photo of Mr Donald Somervell Mr Donald Somervell , Crewe

I have left myself a very short time, because I knew that there were many hon. Members who wanted to speak. The question which has been put to me is of a very wide character and was expressly dealt with by the Home Secretary when it was put to him by my hon. Friend the Member for Gravesend (Sir I. Albert'). I do not think I can add to what he said on that point. The ground has been very fully covered by my right hon. Friend, but there are one or two points raised by my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Epsom (Sir A. Southby) with which I want to deal, partly by reference, instead of developing the argument.

It was suggested by my hon. and gallant Friend that the argument which I put forward on behalf of the Crown in the courts in the Liversidge case was inconsistent with some understanding which had been given to the House or to Members of the informed part of it at the end of 1939, after the Debate in October. That point was raised and I dealt with it fully, and I think to the satisfaction not only of the vast number of those who took part in those conferences, but of those who took part in the Debate, on 26th November, 1941. In fairness to me, I hope that my hon. and gallant Friend will revive his memory of what was said on that occasion. The suggestion really was that the House, at the end of 1939, were given to understand that, after the Home Secretary had made his order, any person detained could issue a writ for false imprisonment, and that then the Home Secretary would have to justify it before the courts. Of course, if the House had understood that anybody detained could at once issue a writ and have his whole case investigated by the court, then all the discussion as to the Advisory Committee was a sheer waste of time. What would have been the good of setting up an Advisory Committee whose advice would be disregarded, when the person concerned could go to the court and have the whole case investigated by a judge?

On the issue of Privilege referred to by my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Ormskirk (Commander King-Hall), the House did unanimously accept the decision or recommendation of the Committee and one has to proceed on that basis. I would again suggest to hon. Members who are interested in this matter and may not have the terms of the Report before them, that they might find it worth while to refresh their memories on the reasons which the Committee gave and which were accepted by the House. For instance, we were faced by the fact that, during the last 20o years, privilege from arrest has not been successfully claimed except in civil cases. There is also the fact, which is referred to in the Committee's Report, that the Statute of 1881, which dealt with the restoration of order in Ireland, quite clearly proceeded on the basis that it was not a breach of Privilege for the Executive to arrest a Member under a Statutory power. There are various other arguments, which I do not now want to go into.

On the general issue, I would summarise the main argument in a sentence. If you set up a judicial or quasi-judicial, or any other form of tribunal or committee, to decide finally whether a man shall be detained or released, you are doing something which is constitutionally wrong, because the exercise of exceptional powers in war-time must be left in the hands of the Executive. First of all, the Executive must be entitled to have them because the Executive are the people responsible for seeing that we are safe.

Photo of Mr Andrew MacLaren Mr Andrew MacLaren , Stoke-on-Trent Burslem

Powers given to them by the House.

Photo of Mr Donald Somervell Mr Donald Somervell , Crewe

Yes, and rightly given to them by this House, because they have the responsibility of carrying us through the war. There is the further complementary argument that exceptional powers should be exercised only by those who can be challenged by this House. On the second part of the Motion dealing with the position of a Member of Parliament, I do not think that many hon. Members suggested that a Member of this House should, in respect of his activities outside, be entirely free from a Regulation of this House. Again, one is faced with precedent that that has never been done in the past. There may be one or two hon. Members who advocate that view, but I do not think it is the general sense of the House, either now or at any time. Once that is conceded, then it is plain that the power must be exercised by the Home Secretary, or whatever Minister the duty is laid upon by Parliament, and according to the Statute which is running at the time of the emergency in question.

Once that is agreed to, the question then is, Should you have some exceptional procedure for the consideration of his case? What is the suggestion in the Motion? That it should be justified to the House, if necessary in Secret Session. I think that everybody who heard my right hon. Friend must have felt the overwhelming weight of the argument which he adopted against the House deciding in the case of a Member. The other suggestion is for a Select Committee instead of the Advisory Committee. I am not sure whether the Member himself is not better served by going before the normal Committee, which has been presided over from the beginning by Mr. Justice Norman Birkett or by other members of the legal profession, and which gets the experience of considering case after case and getting to know what type of information is reliable and what type is unreliable; but, putting aside that argument, again I would do little more than remind the House of the difficulties which the Home Secretary pointed out you get into if you have a Select Committee of this House. If he disagrees with the Committtee, it is for the House to decide between them, and then you are back in the original impasse of getting the House as a whole to decide whether the particular Member—

Division No. 28.AYES.
Baxter, A. BeverleyLawson, H. M. (Skipton)Sanderson, Sir F. B.
Beamish, Rear-Admiral T. P.Lloyd, Major E. C. R. (Renfrew, E.)Scott, Lord William (Ro'b'h & Selk'k)
Bennett, Sir E. N. (Cardiff, Central)Loverseed, J. E.Shaw, Capt. W. T. (Forfar)
Berry, Hon. G. L. (Buckingham)Lucas, Major Sir J. M.Southby, Comdr. Sir A. R. J.
Boothby, R. J. G.McGovern, J.Stokes, R. R.
Elliot, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. W. E.Manningham-Buller, R. E.Stourton, Major Hon. J. J.
Galbraith, Comdr. T. D.Maxton, J.Thornton-Kemsley, Lt.-Col. C. N.
Gammans, Capt. L. D.Moore, Lieut.-Col. Sir T. C. R.Ward, Col. Sir A. L. (Hull)
Grigg, Sir E. W. M. (Altrincham)Nicolson, Hon. H. G. (Leicester, W.)Williams, Sir H. G. (Croydon, S.)
Harvey, T. E.Peters, Dr. S. J.TELLERS FOR THE AYES:—
King-Hall, Commander W. S. R.Peto, Major B. A. J.Sir Irving Albery and Captain Cobb.
NOES.
Adamson, Mrs. Jennie L. (Dartford)Bird, Sir R. B.Cary, R. A.
Adamson, W. M. (Cannock)Blair, Sir R.Castlereagh, Viscount
Apsley, LadyBossom, A. C.Chapman, A. (Rutherglen)
Attlee, Rt. Hon. C. R.Bower, Norman (Harrow)Chapman, Sir S. (Edinburgh, S.)
Balfour, Capt. Rt. Hn. H. H.Brown, Rt. Hon. E. (Leith)Charleton, H. C.
Barnes, A. J.Bull, B. B.Clarke, Colonel R. S.
Beauchamp, Sir B. C.Burden, T. W.Cluse, W. S.
Beaumont, Hubert (Batley)Burton, Col. H. W.Colman, N. C. D.
Beaumont, Maj. Hn. R. E. B. (P'tsm'h)Campbell, Sir E. T. (Bromley)Cooke, J. D. (Hammersmith, S.)

Photo of Mr Donald Somervell Mr Donald Somervell , Crewe

I cannot give way. I have only a few minutes more.

Photo of Mr James Maxton Mr James Maxton , Glasgow Bridgeton

I was not aware of any limitation upon the Debate.

Photo of Mr Donald Somervell Mr Donald Somervell , Crewe

It is to finish in a few minutes. In fact, I have only one minute. I wanted to conclude by recalling the moving peroration of my hon. Friend the Member for Gravesend, which he said he felt in his heart; I agree with him that there is something we dislike here. It is not in the Regulation, or in the way it is administered, or in its form. The reason why we dislike it is because the conditions, which the total war into which our enemies have plunged Europe and have forced upon us, make it necessary that the Executive should have, and exercise for the period, powers of this kind.

Question put, That this House is of opinion that the operation of Regulation 18B should now be reconsidered with a view to the amendment thereof and to the transfer to a judicial tribunal specially constituted, if need be, for the purpose of final responsibility for determining whether there is reasonable cause for detention under the said Regulation; and, in particular, that the detention of an hon. Member for over four years without trial or charge conflicts with the ancient and well-established right of the House to the service of its Members, deprives the electors of the hon. Member from proper representation, constitutes a precedent damaging to the prestige of the House and dangerous to the Constitution of the country and ought to cease unless justified to the House, if necessary, in Secret Session.

The House divided: Ayes, 31; Noes, 135.

Critchley, A.Hynd, J. B.Raikes, H. V. A. M.
Crookshank, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. F. C.Isaacs, G. A.Reed, Sir H. S. (Aylesbury)
Denman, Hon. R. D.Jenkins, A. (Pontypool)Reid, W. Allan (Derby)
Douglas, F. C.R.Jones, A. C. (Shipley)Ross, Sir R. D. (Londonderry)
Drawe, C.Jones, Sir G. W. H. (S'k N'w'gt'n)Rothschild, J. A. de
Driberg, T. E. N.Keir, Mrs. CazaletSchuster, Sir G. E.
Duckworth, Arthur (Shrewsbury)Kerr, Sir John Graham (Scottish U's.)Shepperson, Sir E. W.
Dugdale, John (W. Bromwich)Kirby, B. V.Silkin, L.
Ede, J. C.Law, Rt. Hon. R. K.Smith, Bracewell (Dulwich)
Eden, Rt. Hon. A.Linstead, H. N.Smith, E. P. (Ashford)
Edmondson, Major Sir J.Lipson, D. L.Smithers, Sir W.
Elliston, Captain Sir G. S.Locker-Lampson, Comdr. O. S.Somarvell, Rt. Hon. Sir D. B.
Evans, Colonel A. (Cardiff, S.)Longhurst, Captain H. C.Storey, S.
Findlay, Sir E.Mabane, Rt. Hon. W.Strauss, H. G. (Norwich)
Fraser, T. (Hamilton)McEntee, V. La T.Stuart, Rt. Hon. J. (Moray and Nairn)
Fyfe, Major Sir D. P. M.McEwen, Capt. J. H. F.Studholme, Major H. G.
Gallacher, W.Mack, J. D.Suirdale, Viscount
George, Maj. Rt. Hn. G. Lloyd (P'broke)Makins, Brig.-Gen. Sir E.Sutcliffe, H.
Glanville, J. E.Mander, G. le M.Tate, Mrs. Mavis C.
Goldie, N. B.Mathers, G.Taylor, R. J. (Morpeth)
Grant-Ferris, Wing-Commander R.Mayhew, Lt.-Col. J.Thomas, I. (Keighley)
Green, W. H. (Deptford)Mills, Sir F. (Leyton, E.)Thorneycroft, Major G. E. P. (Stafford)
Greenwood, Rt. Hon. A.Molson, A. H. E.Viant, S. P.
Grenfell, D. R.Montague, F.Wakefield, W. W.
Gridley, Sir A. B.Morrison, Rt. Hon. H. (Hackney, S.)Walkden, A. G. (Bristol, S.)
Crimston, R. V. (Westbury)Morrison, Rt. Hn. W. S. (Cirencester)Walkden, E. (Doncaster)
Groves, T. E.Naylor, T. E.Ward, Irene M. B. (Wallsend)
Gunston, Major Sir D. W.Nicholson, G. (Farnham)Watkins, F. C.
Guy, W. H.Oliver, G. H.Watt, Brig. G. S. Harvie (Richmond)
Hacking, Rt. Hon. Sir D. H.Peaks, Rt. Hon. O.Whiteley, Rt. Hon. W. (Blaydon)
Harris, Rt. Hon. Sir P. A.Peat, C. U.Wilmot, John
Henderson, A. (Kingswinford)Pethick-Lawrence, Rt. Hon. F. W.Windsor-Clive, Lt.-Col. G.
Hepburn, Major P. C. T. Buchan.Ponsonby, Col. C. E.Womersley, Rt. Hon. Sir W.
Hogg, Hon. Q. McG.Pritt, D. N.Woodburn, A.
Hollins, J. H. (Silvertown)Procter, Major H. A.TELLERS FOR THE NOES:—
Holmes, J. S.Pym, L. R.Mr. A. S. L. Young and Mr.
Hume, Sir G. H.Quibell, D. J. K.Beechman.