New Clause No. 12. — (Compensation for Victim.)

Orders of the Day — Criminal Justice Bill – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 26th April 1967.

Alert me about debates like this

(1) Where as the result of any act done in respect of which an accused person has been convicted on indictment of an offence it appears to the Court that any person other than the accused (hereinafter called 'the victim') has suffered injury, loss or damage, the Court may either in addition to or in lieu of any other penalty give judgment in favour of the victim against the accused for the restoration of any property or the payment of any sum of money not exceeding the amount of the loss and such judgment shall have effect as a judgment of the High Court (or where the judgment is for less than £400 of a County Court) to the like effect, or may make a declaration of liability against the accused in favour of the victim for damages to be assessed by the High Court or the County Court for the district wherein the victim resides.

(2) In the event of such a declaration of liability or judgment being made as is described in the last preceding subsection the victim may, subject to any rules of Court made for that purpose, apply to the High Court or to the County Court for the district in which the victim resides for the registration of the judgment or declaration, the carrying out of any enquiries as to damages or accounts, or the enforcement of any judgment in the same manner as if the judgment or declaration had been obtained as the result of proceedings between the victim and the accused in that Court.

(3) Any Court awarding compensation under section (1) of this Clause may assess the sum payable on the basis of the provisions of subsections 1(1) and (4) of the Law Reform (Contributory Negligence) Act 1945, section 2 of the Fatal Accidents Act 1846, section 1 of the Fatal Accidents (Damages) Act 1906, section 2(3) of the Law Reform (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1934 and sections 2(5) and (6) of the Law Reform (Personal Injuries) Act 1948 and any Court making a declaration of liability under section (1) of this Clause may attach to such declaration an instruction that damages be assessed on the basis of the said provisions.

(4) Any Court which makes an order under subsection (1) of this section may make fulfilment of that order a condition of any order for suspended sentence under this Act or any order for probation or any order for conditional discharge.

(5) An order made under this section shall be in addition to and without derogation from any other right the victim shall have against the accused but in exercising such right credit must be given for any act done or payment made in pursuance of such an order.

(6) An accused person against whom an order has been made under this section may at any time apply to the court for revocation, or variation of the order on the ground of change of circumstances since the order was made.—[Mr. Hogg.]

Brought up, and read the First time.

Photo of Mr Quintin Hogg Mr Quintin Hogg , St Marylebone

I beg to move, That the Clause be read a Second time.

I will move this Clause rather more shortly than its appearance would seem to deserve. I propose to make a mouse of a speech in support of a mountain of a Clause. This has been a very dearly loved project of mine for a very long time, and I have tried to press it on successive Home Secretaries in both my own party and in the party opposite, so far without success. They always express their sympathy, they always declare that there are objections—which they do not always specify—and nothing ever happens.

I fear that the present occasion will only be a reproduction in public of what I have long experienced in private. None the less, I believe that if a Clause on these lines were accepted it would be by far the most beneficial Clause in the Bill. If I may say so to my hon. Friend the Member for Ilford, North (Mr. Iremonger), whose articles on this subject in The Times I have both read and admired, it seems to me that when we have passed this Bill, as we shortly shall, we shall, in the absence of a Clause of this kind, be liable to precisely the criticisms mentioned in my hon. Friend's articles. We shall not have made a fundamental change or improvement in our criminal law after all our labour.

The one thing we want to do in relation to the criminal law—and I have said this now several times in this Parliament—is to bring back the elementary principle of morality into our penal treatment as an alternative to punishment in its severer form. That elementary principle of morality is that if one has done wrong, one should try to put right the wrong one has done.

In point of fact, almost every other civilised system of jurisprudence which is not affected by our own common law, and is not founded on our own common law, provides for this. Continental systems provide for it on a very wide scale. We, for reasons that are very largely historical, have always drawn a fundamental distinction between the right to compensation, which is usually given effect to in the civil courts, and the jurisdiction of the public to punish, to which effect is given in the criminal courts. The result is that many criminals are quite severely punished but few victims are compensated.

During the 19th century an attempt was made in various statutes to break out of this dilemma, and numerous statutes contained provisions for compensation of victims. Usually they are too small in scope to be very useful and usually they are neglected almost entirely by criminal courts in practice. Many of them suffer from the additional disadvantage that if a small sum is awarded by way of compensation in the criminal court the victim is altogether prevented from exercising his remedies in the civil court, although he may have had little or no opportunity of giving the criminal court a proper estimate of what he has lost by the criminal conduct of the accused.

Of course, I do not pretend that the procedure which I have set out at some length in this Clause should be applied in accident cases under the Factories Acts or to motor accident cases, partly because the victim of negligence or breach of statutory duty is usually protected very adequately by the civil courts and partly because the interests of insurers are almost inevitably involved in both those classes of case. But I consider that in serious cases of violence and theft there should be inherent in the criminal court both a right to award compensation and a duty to inquire as to whether compensation is offered.

I think this would do very great good to the victim and also a very great service to the criminal. If it were brought to the criminal's attention at the time when he was tried for his criminal offence that there was a way out of imprisonment, an alternative, and that if he would make it clear that there was something serious he meant to do to put things right, he might get probation or a conditional discharge—I have made special provisions about this in one of the subsections— criminal courts could avoid sending to prison people who otherwise would attract prison sentences. That, after ail, is one of the main objects of the Bill.

My principal motive in moving this new Clause, shortly as I have promised to do, is to try to make the Home Secretary admit that our present philosophy on the treatment of offenders is seriously deficient, that many of our troubles stem from this deficiency, and that we should introduce reparation as one of the principal motives underlying our treatment of serious offences.

I am, of course, aware that the Home Secretary is proposing to do something in what I believe is called the Criminal Law Bill which has been going through Parliament in the opposite direction to the Criminal Justice Bill. Whether this curious divergence of nomenclature between law and justice was intentional and designed to cast contumely on one or the other I do not know, but, having read the Criminal Law Bill, I do not think it is adequate in this respect. I should like the Home Secretary to give serious and sympathetic attention to this Clause.

Photo of Mr Dick Taverne Mr Dick Taverne , Lincoln

I want to speak briefly at this stage because I am somewhat surprised that the right hon. and learned Member for St. Marylebone (Mr. Hogg) should move this Clause. The subject was discussed at some length in Committee when the hon. Member for Cheadle (Dr. Winstanley) moved an Amendment concerned with bankruptcy. The Home Secretary, in answer to a somewhat similar speech by the right hon. and learned Gentleman, made it quite clear that he was wholly sympathetic to the idea that some principle of reparation should be introduced into our criminal law. He said that he asked the Advisory Council on the Penal System for a report, and at the end of the debate the right hon. Gentleman said: —as the Home Secretary has referred the matter to his advisory council, it would be prudent to await the outcome of their advice."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, Standing Committee A, 22nd March, 1967; c. 1140.] Since the question of reparation is exceedingly complex and needs to be tackled comprehensively if changes are to be made, that seems to be the course we should take. Before there can be any question of introducing legislation on the lines proposed in this new Clause, it would be necessary to look at the whole machinery of enforcement of a civil debt and to make sure that a scheme for reparation can be effectively enforced. Before that, to do something which certainly would increase the burdens on criminal courts where there would be argument and cross-examination directed to the question of compensation, when the whole matter has been referred for a report by the Advisory Committee, would seem to raise the matter at an unfortunate stage.

Photo of Mr Tom Iremonger Mr Tom Iremonger , Ilford North

I am surprised that the hon. and learned Gentleman should be surprised that my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for St. Marylebone (Mr. Hogg) saw fit to put down this new Clause for discussion on Report. I should have thought that he would have realised that the object of a Report stage is to enable matters of outstanding importance to be emphasised and re-emphasised before the House as a whole, and that hon. Members who may not have been selected by the Committee of Selection to sit on a Standing Committee should have an opportunity of giving evidence of their support for a proposal which may have been discussed in the Committee but on which they have not been able to express a view.

I think it only right that an important Clause of this major dimension should be introduced for discussion on the Floor of the House. I hope that it will attract the attention that it deserves, for I think this the most important part of the Bill. I should like to see this Clause in the Bill. If it were in, it would be one thing which would make the Bill a distinctive measure of reform in the penal field.

Of course, there is a distinction between law and justice, as my right hon. and learned Friend has observed. The question was apocryphally raised by a law student when he told his tutor that he wanted justice. His tutor told him, "You should go to the divinity school over the way. This is a school of law." Justice is extraordinarily difficult to achieve by the law, but that is what this Clause is about. This Clause is about achieving justice through the criminal law. I am afraid that the public as a whole react somewhat unfavourably to the criminal law and the administration of justice and to the penal system. They make their dissatisfaction clear by a rather inarticulate demand for punishment, but what they want is not so much punishment as a sense that wrongs are being righted.

If we had a principle of compensation and restitution of this kind, it would have an impelling sense of rightness which would command public confidence which has been largely forfeited by the penal system. This is an amazing omission from a Bill of this dimension, that the matter should not have been examined and the opportunity taken by the Home Secretary to introduce it. It is always said to be a very difficult matter. I remember that when my hon. and right hon. Friends were sitting on the other side of the House the question of compensation for victims of crimes of violence was raised and enormous difficulties were raised by the Government. It was only after years that the advice of a committee set up by the leaders of the Conservative Party, of which my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Warwick and Learning-ton (Sir J. Hobson) was chairman and I was a member, was taken. It was done simply by an administrative act. That process is going forward fairly satisfactorily. It was not nearly as difficult as was pretended. It was a step in the right direction.

7.0 p.m.

Although it is right that this proposal should be examined by the Home Secretary's Committee, I am sure that the difficulties are not half as bad as they are made out to be. Therefore, although it may be too much to expect the Home Secretary to say later that he has changed his mind and that this proposal will be incorporated into the Bill, I hope that it will be taken as a major criticism of the Bill that it does not incorporate any provision on these lines. I hope that we may look forward to progress in future when the Home Secretary has satisfied himself, as I air sure that he will be able to, that the difficulties are not as great as he makes out.

Photo of Dr Michael Winstanley Dr Michael Winstanley , Cheadle

Comments have been made as to who is and who is not surprised at the appearance of the Clause on the Notice Paper. I hasten to remove any surprise that there may be at my not having tabled a new Clause. I tabled one in Committee on very similar lines to this one. I received an answer to which I will refer later. For that reason, I decided not to pursue the matter on Report.

I am glad that the right hon. and learned Member for St. Marylebone (Mr. Hogg) has tabled a Clause, which is a rather different one in certain ways from that which 1 tabled, although it aims at the same result, because it will give the Home Secretary an opportunity, which he may grasp, to decide which is the better way of doing this and to which of us he will award the golden apple, as it were. I am not saying that he will disclose the exact method to be adopted, but at least he can comment on possible ways of doing this and tell us the direction in which his mind is moving.

I am concerned, as all hon. Members will be, that we should do something soon to establish an effective and efficient system of providing compensation and adequate reparation for the victims of violent and other crimes. I was involved in this issue at the 1964 General Election, because there was then an outbreak of crime in my area. I was made very closely aware of the deficiencies in the present law regarding the victims of crime, deficiencies which the Clause seeks to rectify. I undertook to pursue the matter. Unhappily, I was not able to pursue it immediately after the 1964 General Election, but this speech can be taken, at least to some extent, as honouring an election pledge.

It is an extraordinary deficiency in the present system that people can commit crimes, can be convicted of them, and can be punished for them, although the person who has suffered cannot be effectively compensated. For cases of injury through violence, the Criminal Injuries Compensation Board has been set up. We all welcome its establishment. However, nothing has been done about other forms of damage. It is the other forms of damage to which the new Clause specifically refers.

We know that the Home Secretary is sympathetic to this proposition. He said so in Committee. In reply to the new Clause—"Power of courts to make receiving order"—whose Second Reading I then moved, the right hon. Gentleman said this: One of the first two questions which I referred to the Advisory Council on the Penal System…is the question of reparation. I hope to have a fairly early report from that Council. It will be one of its earliest reports forthcoming. I should then wish to consider the question afresh, bearing in mind the reparation and bankruptcy aspects of the matter.In the meantime—and I think that this is in keeping with the tenor of the hon. Gentleman's speech—he wishes us to consider the problem, to consider it with reasonable urgency and to consider it sympathetically. But I do not think that he would necessarily wish us to write the Clause into the Bill as it stands without further consideration."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, Standing Committee A, 22nd March, 1967; c. 1137–8.] We now have one stage in the possibility of further consideration, in that the right hon. and learned Member for St. Marylebone has advanced an alternative method of providing the arrangement. The Clause I moved in Standing Committee, and which I did not press, in view of the Home Secretary's reply, very much pressed the use of bankruptcy proceedings to fill this gap in our law.

I hope that the Home Secretary will tell us which method he is leaning towards. I hope, too, that he will underline the undertaking he gave in Committee to act speedily, no matter in which direction he intends to act, when he has the information for which he is waiting. In the combating of crime generally, it is important that we make it, not only clear that crime does not pay, but manifestly clear to everybody that it is not paying. At present there is no method of ensuring that a person convicted of a crime and sentenced to imprisonment does not come out of prison and live for many years afterwards on his loot. The right hon. and learned Gentleman's suggestion and the arrangement I suggested are methods of combating a very real problem which the entire public believes should be dealt with speedily.

Photo of Mr William Rees-Davies Mr William Rees-Davies , Isle of Thanet

When the Under-Secretary said that my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for St. Marylebone (Mr. Hogg) was imprudent in raising this matter, I reflected that the rare occasions when my right hon. and learned Friend is imprudent are nearly always the sort of occasions which greatly endear him to us. It is that class of im- prudence which brings forth suggestions of this character, which are precisely the sort of suggestions we want to hear.

I raised this subject in 1953, when I first entered the House. It is idle for the Home Office to say, under successive Governments and under successive Home Secretaries, that it has had no opportunity to consider this broad issue. It is plainly right that criminals must repay. That is part of the policy.

Further, criminals must pay compensation. It is said that this matter is referable back to some Committee. I greatly hope that on the Criminal Law Bill, which I have had the good fortune to look at, we shall be able to do something in this regard. I will say no more about that now, otherwise I shall be out of order.

As to criminals repaying, it is not difficult, whether in this form or in another form, to lay a Clause to provide that, in addition to a fine or coupled with the sentence of imprisonment imposed on an offender, he must, as part of his sentence, make a repayment in respect of the fruits of his crime. This would cover cases of theft, robbery and housebreaking.

It has always seemed to me that, if morality means anything in our criminal code, it must clearly mean that a man who has been found guilty of theft, housebreaking or robbery—for the moment I omit cases of violence—should have to repay, as part of his sentence, what he has stolen. The issue which then arises is—what part of that, if any, should be repaid to the victims?

There may be argument on those issues, but it does not require any further Committee, at the Home Office or elsewhere, to tell us that it is possible to include a Clause, either in this Bill or in the Criminal Law Bill, to cover that eventuality.

In 1953 or early 1954 I, together with a number of others, was asked to consider the question of compensation for victims of crimes of violence. A later Committee was set up, with which my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Warwick and Leamington (Sir J. Hobson), my hon. Friend the Member for Ilford, North (Mr. Iremonger) and others were associated. Nobody pretended that it was an easy problem. When the scheme was introduced by the right hon. Member for Hampstead, Mr. Henry Brooke, as he then was, he said that it was a very difficult subject and that the scheme must he purely experimental. In fact, it has worked successfully. There is no real difficulty in deciding what are the appropriate cases for compensation where violence has been used. The only question has been whether, in certain cases, the person involved in the assault should or should not receive the compensation.

We could lay down a Clause providing that, when a person is found guilty of robbery with violence or of a grave assault, he shall pay, as part of the penalty, a direct financial penalty to the person who has suffered the assault. This will not only have the advantage of helping to rectify the wrong to the person who has suffered, but it will be of real benefit also to the person who has committed the offence. I beg the Home Secretary to realise—I have said this many times and I shall repeat it whenever opportunity offers—that the criminal of today is less likely to be the criminal of tomorrow if, over a period of time, week by week and month by month, he realises that he is repaying in cash for the crime which die has committed.

We are now talking of imposing substantial fines rather than sending people to prison, a course which I support, but it is, at the same time, essential to carry that through into all offences, ensuring that the criminal pays compensation in respect of the crime which he has perpetrated. He can do it by a general sum in tort, which is recognised by the common law in the assessment of damages for the assault and harm he has done. Equally, he can pay a financial penalty over a period in respect of the other aspect of it.

I had grave doubts about the provision we discussed earlier allowing the Home Secretatry to release prisoners on licence in certain circumstances when they had served one-third of their sentence. On the whole, I came to the conclusion that it was worth trying, but largely for this reason. It seemed to me that we could attach to it a scheme for repayment by the criminal and the effort to recapture the money which he had spent or salted away.

Let us suppose that a man is found guilty of breaking into a house and stealing goods to the value of £1,000. The judge comes to the conclusion that he must sentence him to 18 months' im- prisonment, the man having been convicted, shall we say, on two previous occasions. At the same time, however, the judge recognises that the man has obtained some of the spoils. He has had the money. Perhaps he was caught a day or two after the crime. It is perfectly possible for the judge in such a case to impose a dual penalty, a fine of £500 and 18 months' imprisonment, ordering repayment of that sum. Off the man goes to prison for 18 months. After one-third of his sentence, presumably, he is entitled to be considered for parole. It might well be said, after he has served half his sentence, that parole should be exercised, but on the condition that he continues to pay the financial penalty out of his weekly wages while on licence. In that way, we should overcome the difficulty that a man when in prison cannot make a contribution. When he comes out, he can, over a period of weeks, continue to repay out of his earnings for the harm which he has done.

I could give a good many examples of the way it would work, but I shall not do so. The advantage of the so-called imprudence of my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for St. Marylebone is that it gives the Press and the public, I hope, the opportunity to carry on a debate on this matter. We are here discussing many questions of procedure, some unquestionably of great importance in our criminal justice, but the question before us now is of even greater importance. It touches on what is to be the future path which we lay in trying to prevent crime and trying to save criminals themselves, making them recognise that society is determined that they shall repay the fruits of their crimes.

7.15 p.m.

Photo of Sir John Foster Sir John Foster , Northwich

The Government's objection to this proposal is based on the ground that there ought to be a larger code of reparation. In my submission, it is possible to have a Clause on these lines which takes care of part of the problem of reparation by the criminal. In effect, the Clause, only extends, though fairly substantially, the principle of restitution.

At present, the criminal court may order a criminal to restore that part of the property which is found on him. Obviously, this is rather restricted. But it works when property is found on the criminal. It is no objection to say, as the Under-Secretary of State did, that this proposal would greatly add to the business of the criminal courts, would take up too much time, would entail difficulties of enforcement, and so on. None of these difficulties really exists under the new Clause.

Let us assume a case in which certain property has been stolen. The court makes an order for restoration of the property. One could sue the criminal and get a judgment for that. This is a short cut to getting the judgment. The objection to incurring the expense of suing the man in the civil courts and saying, "He broke into my house and stole £1,000" is that the man has not got the money. There is no method at present whereby the criminal court could order enforcement of the judgment.

There have not been 13 wasted years on this idea. Sixty years have been wasted by all parties and all Governments. It is an idea which the Partie Civile has mooted in literature ever since the 1900s. The trouble is that all Governments, when civil servants or Ministers do not like an idea or cannot be bothered with it, refer the question to a Committee. The solution really depends on the judgment of the politicians in charge of the particular office. In this case it depends on the judgment of the Home Secretary. Ministers cannot decide how to do it. But here is a method of taking away a segment of the reparation problem. It will not overburden the time of the courts in granting a restitution order. At the end of a case, counsel will say that £1,000 was stolen—that will be in the indictment—and he wants an order for the restitution of £1,000. This would then become the judgment of the High Court.

If it is a crime of violence, the court must fix such sum as is well below—

Photo of Mr Charles Doughty Mr Charles Doughty , East Surrey

If several articles are stolen and hidden away overnight, is the court to set up as a valuer?

Photo of Sir John Foster Sir John Foster , Northwich

No. The same principle would apply as in crimes of violence. The court will take the minimum which any fair-minded person would accept—there could be no objection to it—well below the maximum which could be recovered in a civil court. For example, a man who is hit on the head might recover £2,000 damages in a civil court. In this case, the court would award £500 or £750. The House will note subsection (5), which provides that there shall be no derogation from any other right which the victim may have, and credit must be given for what is done under the order.

I ask the Home Secretary not to wait for a complete code of reparation. There are always objections to that. One must advance steadily and in segments in matters of law reform. The compensation for victims of crimes of violence was, I think, started by the organisations to which many of us on both sides of the House belong, including Justice. Those organisations put it forward. There were the usual objections on the lines of le mieux est l'enemi du bien, which is a valuable principle for Governments. The then Home Secretary said, "It is very difficult. I do not know if I can do it. There will be so many objections." But he had the courage to introduce a little of that idea. It must be improved again some day, but it is a way of moving on. I appeal to the Government to set a good example to other Governments and introduce a small segment of this method of reparation, which will have beneficial effects in the realm of penology.

Photo of Mr Percy Grieve Mr Percy Grieve , Solihull

I support the proposed new Clause because I believe that it could properly be incorporated in the Bill, and not merely because it is a talking point. I wholly reject the suggestion of the Under-Secretary of State that because this matter was raised in Committee and the Government are not unfavourable—could they possibly be unfavourable to it?—we must leave it alone and not take up time with it.

The rigid separation in this country between the criminal procedure between the Crown and the subject, and the civil procedure between the criminal and his victim, is wholly anachronistic and outdated. We have a great deal to learn from those systems of continental jurisprudence where the Partie Civile, the injured person, can appear in the criminal proceedings by counsel and obtain satisfaction there.

It seems to me that our present system has no fewer than four vices or defects. First, it is bad for the administration of criminal law and for the criminal that he should see his wrongdoing merely in the light of what he has done to society. As often as not he has done harm and grave injury to an individual who should be compensated. The new Clause goes far towards providing that compensation, which should be forthcoming where a man is found guilty of a crime. It would go a long way providing alternatives to the penalty of imprisonment which courts now have to impose in default of any other way of dealing with wrongdoers. The courts impose longer and longer terms of imprisonment and the man comes back again and again for his crimes.

The second vice of the present system is that it leads to repetition in litigation. Since tie injured person cannot obtain satisfaction in the criminal court where the man who has done him wrong is brought to justice, he must go to a civil court. The third vice is that this puts on the injured person an appalling burden which he frequently may not wish to discharge, even with legal aid. Because of the ruling in the High Court case of Hollington v. Hewthorn the wrongdoer is not estopped in the civil proceedings from denying his crime and fighting the case over again.

There has lately been a number of cases in the High Court which amounts to nothing less than a public scandal. There was one case in which a bank sued bank robbers for the money involved, knowing that it was there. The robbers denied their guilt and the matter was tried ail over again. Frequently such actions take weeks. Sometimes in the civil proceedings somebody convicted by a jury gets away with it. That is wholly wrong, and the present system which has served us over the centuries now stands in need of radical changes. The step proposed by my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for St. Marylebone (Mr. Hogg) is a first step towards such radical changes—or a second step, if we accept the compensation which can now be given to victims of crimes of violence.

Photo of Mr Charles Hale Mr Charles Hale , Oldham West

I humbly apologise to the House for having the impertinence to intervene in a discussion in which I had to deprive myself of the privilege of hearing the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for St. Marylebone (Mr. Hogg) open, on the sole ground that I was taking my second snack of the day in 24 hours under the, I think, well-founded apprehension that we are moving to a part of our discussions which may take a considerable time and in which, whether my presence is desired on the Front Bench or not, it is desirable from my point of view.

I was sorry about that, because the Clause seems to me to be an admirably drafted and well thought-out way of dealing with some of the major problems, of which there are many. The hon. Member for the Isle of Thanet (Mr. Rees-Davies) made an admirable statement of principle, in which there appeared some rather menacing words. I have been told that he said—I was on the cold table at the time—that this must go to some sort of Committee and I apprehend that the "some sort of committee" may be the Payne Committee, of which I am a member. Those of us who struggle on the Payne Committee to resolve the very difficult, complicated and multifarious problems already submitted to us might have some difficulty in facing additional problems.

As a member of the committee I cannot make any observations about its deliberations, although almost everyone else who is not a member is constantly making them. Here and in another place it has been reported from time to time that decisions will be made shortly, and that one has only to wait for another dawn. I am prepared to say that we shall go on with our labours until we finish them, unless we expire in the process—

Photo of Dr Horace King Dr Horace King , Southampton, Itchen

The hon. Member will please come to the Clause.

Photo of Mr Charles Hale Mr Charles Hale , Oldham West

I did not hear you, Mr. Speaker, but I apprehend that you said that I was almost out of order. I was thinking the same thing at that moment and would have turned at the end of my sentence to revert to the question.

I am not sure what the position is in the Fifth Republic. No doubt, we shall know when the "grand debate" opens and continues almost indefinitely for the next six months. I think that the position of the Partie Civile in French law is singularly objectionable. There is the fiction that the Advocat-General is holding the balance between the parties, considering the interests of the State, criminal and justice, and the real prosecuting counsel is always for the Partie Civile, who takes part. Under the right hon. and learned Gentleman's provisions, the advocate of the Partie Civile does not take part. It is merely for the court to say that it is an appropriate case in which the question of compensation should be considered, and there are obviously many cases where it should be considered.

Having expressed one general approval, I must say this in fairness to my right hon. Friend. I feel that the right hon. and learned Gentleman overlooks his criticisms in Committee for introducing too many new Clauses and getting almost near the exterior bounds of the ambit of the Bill. This is a pretty hefty new Clause to ask my right hon. Friend to accept offhand, or to do other than raise what I hope will be a very reasonable and constructive discussion. My right hon. Friend may say that it has been raised before and that we must not on this debate talk about who was here before, or how long he has had to deal with this. But in a comparatively short time he has produced some major reforms, and this is a Measure of an admirable and constructive kind. This debate has brought us to a considerable advance.

7.30 p.m.

I have always said that I disliked the fact that our rules impose upon us the burden of piecemeal legislation. I want to see compensation for everyone physically crippled; I want to see it done on a general principle and not on the principle that we should begin by having exceptions for policemen with dangerous duties, and not for policemen injured by motorcars. I want to see not only compensation for the victims of a crime but compensation for the people who rush to their assistance, and so on. This is no criticism of the new Clause. The right hon. and learned Gentleman is bound by the rules of the House, and has tabled, within the rules, an admirable suggestion for consideration and debate, but not for immediate consideration and debate. I hope that my right hon. Friend will say that his new Clause is one that he will regard as worthy of further study.

A recent speech of Lord Denning's it seems indicated the need for proposals for reform. Many Measures have been propounded and are coming forward which will give us a chance to consider this again. It is a matter to be considered again favourably and in detail.

Photo of Mr Roy Jenkins Mr Roy Jenkins , Birmingham Stechford

The right hon. and learned Member for St. Marylebone (Mr. Hogg) has made a good attempt in his new Clause to put forward a constructive solution, but I do not think that he will be surprised if I say that I cannot accept the new Clause as it stands offhand, it having been on the Paper for only a very short time. I am most anxious, I think as anxious as any hon. Member in the House, to move quickly on this question of reparation. It is most important, and I read with great interest the article by the hon. Member for Ilford, North (Mr. Iremonger) in The Times this morning. We had a debate in Committee but that does not preclude having another one here, and I attach great importance to it.

If there have been 60 years wasted, I have not wasted a very large part of them, and I will endeavour not to do so in future. This is one of the two most urgent questions which I referred, not to the committee, on which my hon. Friend the Member for Oldham, West (Mr. Hale) sits, he will be delighted to hear, but to the Advisory Council on the Penal System. I hope to have an early report from it. I do not think that it would be right, having referred it to the committee, to accept a partial solution even if there were not other difficulties, and there are other difficulties associated with this new Clause at this stage. I have no intention of being dilatory about it. I am grateful to the right hon. and learned Gentleman for his suggestion which we will study carefully.

Photo of Mr Quintin Hogg Mr Quintin Hogg , St Marylebone

I believe that I have a right to reply, which I will seek not to abuse. It would be churlish of me not to thank various hon. Members, from all quarters of the House, who have paid me the compliment of taking this as it was intended to be taken, as a serious suggestion. I am bound to say that the Home Secretary has, to some extent, blunted the edge of the rather bitter reply that I was preparing for his hon. and learned Friend, who I thought made a perfunctory, superficial and highly discourteous speech.

I am very sorry that he thought fit to make it, but since he made it, it is necessary for me to say why I put this new Clause down. One has every right to put down on Report, Amendments to which one attaches a great deal of importance. The Amendment that we discussed in Committee was a different Amendment, quite different in conception although it was designed to meet a similar purpose. I supported it in principle, but said then that I did not think that the actual terms of the Amendment mattered, for we were discussing the principle.

I gave the matter further thought in between the Committee stage and Report I have been 35 years of my life in the study of the law and I took some trouble to draft this Amendment myself. I expected it to be treated with a little more courtesy from the Under-Secretary than to be told that I was imprudent and foolish to put it down at all. I bitterly resented his speech, and I saw nothing in what I have said or done to deserve it.

I expected to be told, and I was duly told, at the Home Secretary was referring this to his Advisory Committee. That is all very well. We were told that in reply to the Amendment of my hon. Friend the Member for Ilford, North (Mr. Iremonger). How often has this Committee met? Neither the Home Secretary nor the Under-Secretary of State has told us. My information is that it has not met at all, or that it has only met once to discuss this urgent question. Is that right? I was told that I ought not to have raised this matter for discussion because it was being referred to the Advisory Committee.

This is a committee put forward to the House as an alternative to the Commission which was killed, of which my hon. Friend the Member for Ilford, North was a member. How often has the Committee met? I am told hardly at all. When will it report? We have not been given any indication at all. I would be prepared to accept from the Home Secretary, because I have accepted a good deal from him, his good intentions in these matters, but what we desire to see is a little bit of action.

I sincerely believe that there are no practical objections to the new Clause that I have proposed. There are none that I can see, and none have been put forward. I know that it is a difficult matter, but it is a difficult matter to which I have given a good deal of thought and the speakers who have contributed to this debate have, collectively, a good deal of experience behind them.

My hon. Friend the Member for Ilford, North was a member of the Commission on Penal Reform which was destroyed. The hon. Member for Cheadle (Dr. Winstanley) has had previous experience. My hon. Friend the Member for the Isle of Thanet (Mr. Rees-Davies) has unrivalled experience of criminal law and my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Northwich (Sir J. Foster) has a lifetime of experience both of criminal and civil law. He has sat as a judge and incidentally, is very familiar with the law on the Continent. He is one of the very few experts on comparative law in the House. All of these speakers say that it is possible, as did the hon. Member for Oldham, West (Mr. Hale), who has given his whole life to the solicitors' profession. They all see nothing wrong with the new Clause and the Government have not specified anything wrong with it.

The Home Secretary has said that he will give us action. If there is to be rapid action, let us have this new Clause accepted and given a Second Reading. Why not? My hon. and learned Friend the Member for Surrey, East (Mr. Doughty) murmured that it would be difficult for a criminal court to act as an assessing authority. It is not asked to do so. It can give a declaration on the law under subsection (2). The rights are not exhaustive but concurrent under subsection (5). What is the objection to this? I think that we ought to give this new Clause a Second Reading, and I am going to ask my hon. Friends to support me in the Division Lobby.

Question put, That the Clause be read a Second time: —

The House divided:Ayes 121, Noes 176.

Division No. 322.]AYES[7.40 p.m.
Alison, Michael (Barkston Ash)Atkins, Humphrey (M't'n & M'd'n)Bennett, Sir Frederic (Torquay)
Allason, James (Hemel Hempstead)Awdry, DanielBiffen, John
Astor, JohnBeamish, Col. Sir TuftonBody, Richard
Buck, Antony (Colchester)Hill, J. E. B.Page, John (Harrow, W.)
Bullus, Sir EricHobson, Rt. Hn. Sir JohnPercival, Ian
Burden, F. A.Hogg, Rt. Hn. QuintinPeyton, John
Cary, Sir RobertHolland, PhilipPink, R, Bonner
Chichester-Clark, R.Howell, David (Guildford)Powell, Rt. Hn. J. Enoch
Clegg, WalterHunt, JohnPym, Francis
Craddock, Sir Beresford (Spelthorne)Hutchison, Michael ClarkRamsden, Rt. Hn. James
Crouch, DavidIremonger, T. L.Rees-Davies, W. R.
Cunningham, Sir KnoxJoplling, MichaelRenton, Rt. Hn. Sir David
Currie, G. B. H.King, Evelyn (Dorset, S.)Rldsdale, Julian
Dance, JamesLegge-Bourke, Sir HarryRossi, Hugh (Hornsey)
Davidson, James (Aberdeenshire, W.)Lewis, Kenneth (Rutland)Russell, Sir Ronald
d'Avigdor-Goldsmid, Sir HenryLloyd, Ian (P'tsm'th, Langstone)Scott, Nicholas
Dean, Paul (Somerset, N.)Longden, GilbertSharples, Richard
Deedes, Rt. Hn. W. F. (Ashford)Lubbock, EricShaw, Michael (Sc'b'gh & Whitby)
Elliot, Capt. Walter (Carshalton)McAdden, Sir StephenSinclair, Sir George
Elliott, R.W.(N tle-uponTyne,N.)Mackenzie, Alasdair(Ross&Crom'ty)Stoddart-Scott, Col. Sir M. (Ripon)
Erritigton, Sir EricMaclean, Sir FitzroyTapsell, Peter
Eyre, ReginaldMcMaster, StanleyTaylor, Edward M. (G'gow, Cathcart)
Fisher, NigelMaginnls, John E.Taylor, Frank (Moss Side)
Fletcher-Cooke, CharlesMaude, AngusTemple, John M.
Fortescue, TimMawby, RayTilney, John
Foster, Sir JohnMaxwell-Hyslop, R. J.Turton, Rt. Hn. R. H.
Gibson-Watt, DavidMaydon, Lt.-Cmdr. S. L. C.van Straubenzee, W. R.
Gilmour, Ian (Norfolk, C.)Mills, Peter (Torrington)Walker-Smith, Rt. Hn. Sir Derek
Gilmour, Sir John (Fife, E.)Miscampbell, NormanWalters, Dennis
Glover, Sir DouglasMitchell, David (Basingstoke)Webster, David
Gower, RaymondMonro, HectorWells, John (Maidstone)
Grant, AnthonyMorrison, Charles (Devizes)Whitelaw. William
Gresham Cooke, R.Mott-Radclyffe, Sir CharlesWilson, Geoffrey (Truro)
Grieve, PercyMunro-Lucas-Tooth, Sir HughWinstanley, Dr. M. P.
Hall, John (Wycombe)Murton, OscarWolrige-Gordon, Patrick
Hall-Davis, A. G. F.Nabarro, Sir GeraldWood, Rt. Hn. Richard
Harris, Frederic (Croydon, N.W.)Neave, AlreyWorsley, Marcus
Harrison, Brian (Maldon)Nicholls, Sir Harmar
Harrison, Col. Sir Harwood (Eye)Noble, Rt. Hn. MichaelTELLERS FOR THE AYES:
Heald, Rt. Hn. Sir LionelOnslow, CranleyMr. Jasper More and
Heseltine, MichaelOsborne, Sir Cyril (Louth)Mr. Timothy Kitson.
Hiley, JosephPage, Graham (Crosby)
NOES
Albu, AustenFaulds, AndrewLawson, George
Allaun, Frank (Salford, E.)Fernyhough, E.Lee, Rt. Hn. Frederick (Newton)
Alldritt, WalterFinch, HaroldLestor, Miss Joan
Allen, ScholefieldFletcher, Raymond (Ilkeston)Lewis, Arthur (W. Ham, N.)
Atkinson, Norman (Tottenham)Fletcher, Ted (Darlington)Lomas, Kenneth
Bacon, Rt. Hn. AliceFoley, MauriceLoughlin, Charles
Bagier, Gordon A. T.Galpern, Sir MyerLyon, Alexander W. (York)
Baxter, WilliamGinsburg, DavidLyons, Edward (Bradford, E.)
Beaney, AlanGordon Walker, Rt. Hn. P. C.MacColl, James
Bence, CyrilGourlay, HarryMacDermot, Niall
Bishop, E. S.Gray, Dr. Hugh (Yarmouth)Macdonald, A. H.
Blackburn, F.Gregory, ArnoldMackenzie, Gregor (Rutherglen)
Booth, AlbertGrey, Charles (Durham)MacPherson, Malcolm
Boston, TerenceGriffiths, David (Rother Valley)Mahon, Peter (Preston, S.)
Bowden, Rt. Hn. HerbertGriffiths, Rt. Hn. James (Llanelly)Mailalieu, E. L. (Brigg)
Braddock, Mrs. E. M.Hale, Leslie (Oldham, W.)Manuel, Archie
Brooks, EdwinHamilton, James (Bothwell)Mapp, Charles
Broughton, Dr. A. D. D.Hamling, WilliamMarquand, David
Brown, Rt. Hn. George (Belper)Harper, JosephMason, Roy
Buchan, NormanHarrison, Walter (Wakefield)Mellish, Robert
Buchanan, Richard (G'gow, SP'burn)Hart, Mrs. JudithMendelson, J. J.
Butler, Mrs. Joyce (Wood Green)Haseldine, NormanMillan, Bruce
Carmichael, NeilHazell, BertMiller, Dr. M. S.
Coe, DenisHenig, StanleyMilne, Edward (Blyth)
Coleman, DonaldHerbison, Rt. Hn. MargaretMoonman, Eric
Concannon, J. D.Horner, JohnMorgan, Elystan (Cardiganshire)
Conlan, BernardHoughton, Rt. Hn. DouglasMorris, Charles R. (Openshaw)
Craddock, George (Bradford, S.)Howarth, Harry (Wellingborough)Moyle, Roland
Cronin, JohnHowarth, Robert (Bolton, E.)Murray, Albert
Crossman, Rt. Hn. RichardHowie, W.Neal, Harold
Cullen, Mrs. AliceHughes, Emrys (Ayrshire, S.)Newens, Stan
Davidson, Arthur (Accrington)Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.)Noel-Baker, Francis (Swindon)
Davies, Dr. Ernest (Stretford)Hynd, JohnNoel-Baker, Rt. Hn. Philip (Derby,S.)
Davies, G. Elfed (Rhondda, E.)Irvine, A. J. (Edge Hill)Oakes, Gordon
Delargy, HughJackson, Peter M. (High Peak)O'Malley, Brian
Dewar, DonaldJenkins, Hugh (Putney)Oram, Albert E.
Dickens, JamesJenkins, Rt. Hn. Roy (Stechford)Orme, Stanley
Doig, PeterJones, Dan (Burnley)Oswald, Thomas
Eadie, AlexJones, Rt. Hn. Sir Elwyn (W.Ham,S.)Padley, Walter
English, MichaelJones, J. Idwal (Wrexham)Palmer, Arthur
Ennals, DavidKenyon, CliffordPannell, Rt. Hn. Charles
Ensor, DavidKerr, Dr. David (W'worth, Central)Parker, John (Dagenham)
Evans, Albert (Islington, S.W.)Kerr, Russell (Feltham)Parkyn, Brian (Bedford)
Pentland, NormanSteel, Thomas (Dunbartonshire, W.)Whitaker, Ben
Perry, Ernest G. (Battersea, S.)Stewart, Rt. Hn. MichaelWhite, Mrs. Eirene
Perry, George H. (Nottingham, S.)Stonehouse, JohnWhitlock, William
Price, Thomas (Westhoughton)Swingler, StephenWllkins, W. A.
Pursey, Cmdr. HarrySymonds, J. B.Willey, Rt. Hn. Frederick
Rees, MerlynTaverne, DickWilliams, Alan Lee (Hornchurch)
Rhodes, GeoffreyTomney, FrankWilliams, Clifford (Abertillery)
Roberts, Albert (Normanton)Urwin, T. W.Williams, W. T. (Warrington)
Roberts, Gwilym (Bedfordshire, S.)Varley, Eric G.Willis, George (Edinburgh, E.)
Robinson, W. O. J. (Walth'stow, E.)Wainwright, Edwin (Dearne Valley)Winterbottom, R. E.
Rowlands, E. (Cardiff, N.)Walden, Brian (All Saints)Woodburn, Rt. Hn. A.
Shaw, Arnold (Ilford, S.)Walker, Harold (Doncaster)Woof, Robert
Shore, Peter (Stepney)Wallace, GeorgeYates, Victor
Silkin, Rt. Hn. John (Deptford)Watkins, David (Consett)
Silverman, Sydney (Nelson)Watkins, Tudor (Brecon & Radnor)TELLERS FOR THE NOES:
Small, WilliamWeitzman, DavidMr. Ernest Armstrong and
Spriggs, LeslieWellbeloved, JamesMr. Neil McBride.