Qualifying Bodies

Part of Clause 12 – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 8th July 1976.

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Photo of Mr Ivor Stanbrook Mr Ivor Stanbrook , Bromley Orpington 12:00 am, 8th July 1976

That is true. It shows how crazy the whole thing is.

If the Home Secretary is not impressed by my arguments, I suggest one other aspect—the provision in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights condemning the punishment of a man for doing something which was not a crime when he did it. That is a fundamental concept which we all accept, as we glibly accept so much of that declaration. The subsection offends against that concept because it goes back so far. It will go back far beyond any time when the Bill could come into operation. Clause 12 may provide a defence, but only for proceedings under the Act.

The Home Secretary dislikes retrospective legislation and he also dislikes any action which has the effect of lifting a previous immunity, with the result that there is now an amnesty for certain classes of illegal immigrants. The Home Secretary did that at his own discretion. In order not to introduce retrospective legislation and not to penalise someone who imagines himself to be free of penalties, he lifted the penalties. And yet here he is proposing a new section of the law whereby a man will never be free of possible penalties as a result of something he did which was not a crime, which was not intended as a crime and which need not be proved. The Home Secretary should withdraw the provision.