Orders of the Day — Declaration of Human Rights Bill

– in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 27th June 1952.

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Order for Second Reading read.

3.57 a.p.m.

Photo of Mr Charles Hale Mr Charles Hale , Oldham West

I beg to move, "That the Bill be now read a Second time."

I move this Motion formally because I believe that the House would wish this Bill to go to a Standing Committee.

3.58 a.p.m.

Photo of Sir Edward Boyle Sir Edward Boyle , Birmingham Handsworth

I am sorry that I have such little time to speak on the Bill, because I listened to the hon. Member for Eton and Slough (Mr. Fenner Brockway) the last time the Bill came before the House and I regret that I was not able on that occasion to contribute to the debate.

Photo of Mr Marcus Lipton Mr Marcus Lipton , Lambeth Brixton

Could the hon. Baronet say why he did not?

Photo of Sir Edward Boyle Sir Edward Boyle , Birmingham Handsworth

I do not think that is relevant to the remarks I am about to make.

I wish to start from a point made by the hon. and learned Member for Northampton (Mr. Paget), which explains exactly why I find myself in difficulties about the Bill. He said, in an interjection Ought we not to endorse the principles in this Bill?" —[OFFICIAL REPORT, 23rd May. 1952; Vol. 501, c. 909.] My complaint about the Bill is that I do not believe it is possible to turn a declaration of human rights into a precise legislative instrument.

Photo of Mr Lynn Ungoed-Thomas Mr Lynn Ungoed-Thomas , Leicester North East

May I remind the hon. Member for Handsworth (Sir E. Boyle) that that is exactly what his own party proposed to do at Strasbourg?

Photo of Sir Edward Boyle Sir Edward Boyle , Birmingham Handsworth

I was not a delegate at Strasbourg and I do not know what happened on that occasion, but I wish to explain the difficulties which arise in connection with this Bill. I do not take quite such an enthusiastic view as the hon. Member for Eton and Slough about certain Declarations he mentioned in the course of his speech.

Photo of Mr Charles Hale Mr Charles Hale , Oldham West

On a point of order. In view of the previous discussion and the hon. Member not having been present, I beg to move, "That the Question be now put."

Mr. SPEAKER withheld his assent and declined then to put that Question.

Photo of Sir Edward Boyle Sir Edward Boyle , Birmingham Handsworth

Yes I was present and listened to the hon. Member for Eton and Slough and rose when he concluded his speech——

Photo of Sir Edward Boyle Sir Edward Boyle , Birmingham Handsworth

No, I was sitting in my place all through the debate. I do not take quite such an enthusiastic view as does the hon. Member about certain Declarations. He mentioned the Declaration of Independence of 1776. A notable fact, if one turns to American history, is that that Declaration and the American Constitution did not save that country from a very bloody war some 80 years later.

There is great difficulty in turning these Declarations into legislative acts and I wish to explain some of the problems. For example, Clause 13 thus: All persons regardless of race, nationality or colour, shall have the right to freedom of opinion or expression including the right to seek, receive and impart information and ideas.

Photo of Mr Charles Hale Mr Charles Hale , Oldham West

rose in his place, and claimed to move, "That the Question be now put"; but Mr. SPEAKER withheld his assent and declined then to put that Question.

It being Four o'Clock,Mr. SPEAKER proceeded to interrupt the business:

Whereupon Mr. Hale rose in his place, and claimed to move, "That the Question be now put"; but Mr. SPEAKER withheld his assent and declined then to put that Question, and the Debate stood adjourned.

Debate to be resumed upon Friday, 11th July.