Orders of the Day — WEST MIDLANDS COUNTY COUNCIL BILL [Lords] (By Order)

– in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 6th February 1979.

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Order for Second Reading read.

7.18 p.m.

Photo of Mr Oscar Murton Mr Oscar Murton , Poole

In accordance with precedent, Mr. Speaker has not selected the six months' amendment standing in the name of the hon. Member for Birmingham, Perry Barr (Mr. Rooker). Mr. Speaker has selected the motion standing in the name of the hon. and learned Member for Montgomery (Mr. Hooson) for an Instruction to leave out clause 39. He has not selected the motion for an Instruction standing in the name of the hon. Member for Stockport, North (Mr. Bennett), to leave out any provisions which alter the existing law. The motion to commit clause 39 to a Committee of the whole House, standing in the name of the hon. Member for Perry Barr, is in order and will be called, if there is time to do so, under the provisions of the 10 o'clock business motion. If the Instruction to leave out clause 39 is agreed to, however, the motion to commit that clause to a Committee of the whole House will of course fall and cannot be called.

May I suggest that it might be for the convenience of hon. Members if there were a reasonably short debate—it is entirely up to hon. Members—on the Second Reading, and that when that Question has been disposed of the Instruction should thereafter occupy the attention of the House?

7.20 p.m.

Photo of Mr Reginald Eyre Mr Reginald Eyre , Birmingham, Hall Green

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

With the exception of clause 39, relating to the notice of processions, which is important and is moderate in scope and with which I should like to deal in more detail later, the Bill is almost entirely a consolidation measure with the addition of minor provisions relating to the National Exhibition Centre, the control of foxes, acupuncture and night cafes.

The reorganisation of local government effected by the Local Government Act 1972 required provision to rationalise the large number of Private Acts in the old areas inherited by the new. To achieve this, section 262 provided that, with certain exceptions, all local legislation shall cease in 1984 in non-metropolitan counties and in 1979 in the metropolitan counties. The effect of section 262 of the 1972 Act was therefore to oblige all new authorities to review Local Act provisions in force in their areas and, in cases where any required and justified re-enactment, to promote or secure the promotion of Private Bills to re-enact what would otherwise be repealed in 1979 or 1984.

Accordingly, the local legislation comprised in this Bill will cease to have effect in 1979. The Second Reading debate tonight gives probably the last opportunity for the Bill to receive approval and to pass on the Committee stage for detailed examination and consideration of petitions on points of detail with sufficient time for that process to be carried out properly. You mentioned, Mr. Deputy Speaker, that the motion in the name of the hon. Member for Birmingham, Perry Barr (Mr. Rooker) relating to committal of clause 39 to a Committee of the whole House was in order. It may be helpful if I indicate that I and my hon. Friends would have no objection, if the Bill were given a Second Reading, to this clause being subsequently committed to a Committee of the whole House, so that it might be considered in detail in the Chamber.

The first task of the local authorities has been to establish which of the Local Act powers were in regular use by the county council's predecessors to ensure that these can be continued in a satisfactory manner. To assist in this task, the Department of the Environment introduced the Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1976. Although this Act was helpful in many respects, it did not go far enough, and the district councils will require a number of Local Act powers comprised in the Bill, not re-enacted in the general law.

In the county of the West Midlands there are seven districts. The 1972 Act has produced in some districts a patchwork of local law since reorganisation in view of boundary changes where the area application does not always coincide with the present local authority areas. Some district councils therefore have powers they cannot exercise throughout their areas. Some aspects of this legislation are out of date, either as a result of subsequent general law changes or because of these boundary changes. In the West Midlands, the review of local legislation which followed the 1965 local government reorganisation has made this task easier. The Black Country authorities—Dudley, Walsall, Wolverhampton and Warley and West Bromwich, the latter two now combined as Sandwell—consolidated their existing Acts in 1969. All these Acts are similar both in drafting and content.

The city of Coventry and the city of Birmingham districts experienced boundary changes in 1974 and have a number of Local Acts dating from the last century. In 1974, a joint district and county working party was set up consisting of both district and county members together with their legal officers. The powers which the districts required to be re-enacted were first determined and then referred to the working party for study and discussion. Following this, a draft was circulated to the Government Departments and their recommendations, where appropriate, have been met.

Following approval on behalf of the district councils, it was agreed that the county council should promote the Bill. I stress "Following approval on behalf of the district councils". When the hon. and learned Member for Montgomery (Mr. Hooson) moves his Instruction he may like to bear in mind that a Liberal member, Councillor Tilsley, was a member of the committee which considered this legislation at all stages.

The Bill consists of 132 clauses and five schedules and covers wide areas of requirements in respect of local powers, including open spaces and municipal property, highways, public health, public order and public safety, fire precautions, storage of flammable materials, night cafes and entertainment clubs, licensing of public entertainments, finance, miscellaneous and general matters. The Bill includes a number of provisions at the request of specified districts, including Birmingham, Coventry, Dudley, Sandwell, Walsall and Wolverhampton. To all of these I believe there can be no objection.

I turn now to clause 39, which provides: No person shall organise or conduct a procession through any street in a district unless at least seven days before the procession starts to pass through any street a notice has been served on the district council and the chief officer of police. Dealing only with this part of the clause, the House should know that further consultations have taken place with the police authority, which is as anxious as anyone that this clause should impose only as reasonable an obligation as possible. As a result, I am authorised by the promoters of the Bill to undertake that at any subsequent or Committee stage this clause will be amended so that the requirement as to notice will be reduced from seven days to three days. It is on this basis that the clause should be considered.

The clause will therefore require that at least three days before the procession starts to pass through any street a person organising or conducting the procession shall serve on the council and the chief officer of police a notice stating,

  1. "(a) the route by which, and, the date and the time on and at which it is intended, that is should pass;
  2. (b) the nature of the procession to which the notice relates;
  3. (c) the name of a person responsible for organising the procession."
It will be seen that in subsection (2), If any procession passes through any street in a district by a route or at a time which has not been stated in a notice relating to that procession delivered in accordance with subsection (1) above, except in accordance with any directions given by the chief officer of police under section 3 of the Public Order Act 1936 or other directions given by the senior police officer … any person organising or conducting the procession shall be guilty of an offence and liable on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding £200. I wish to emphasise strongly that under subsection (3) this requirement about giving notice of a procession will not apply to a procession commonly or customarily held by members of a charitable body. Parades and processions which are customarily organised by the Boy Scouts the Boys Brigade, the Girls Life Brigade or the Salvation Army and similar bodies will be exempt from the requirement to give notice.

Photo of Mr Ivan Lawrence Mr Ivan Lawrence , Burton

They are not trade unionists.

Photo of Mr Reginald Eyre Mr Reginald Eyre , Birmingham, Hall Green

In earlier legislation a similar provision requiring notice of street processions applies in West Bromwich, Smethwick, Wolverhampton, Oldbury, Wednesbury, Willenhall, Sutton Coldfield —which is now part of Birmingham—and Coventry. The periods of notice required varied from 24 hours to 48 hours when the requirements of that notice were re-enacted in 1959 in local authority Acts relating to successor corporations. In large parts of the metropolitan county, there have been similar requirements in the past.

I shall explain the strong reasons for clause 39. They are in addition to the fact that similar provision is in force in parts of the West Midlands county council area. The purpose of the clause is to enable people to exercise their right to take part in organised processions, peacefully and in good order.

Processions are part of our democratic right. Reasonable notice enables the police to protect the procession, to protect the people who are not involved in the procession and to regulate traffic in the interests of the marchers as well as the public who seek to move with the minimum reasonable inconvenience in public and private vehicles.

If the police are to carry out all their duties to the public, one must understand the difficulties that are caused by the total demand on their services. The West Midlands police force is seriously undermanned to the extent of between 10 and 11 per cent. That means that sometimes assistance must be sought from neighbouring forces. That takes time to arrange. Transport and catering must be organised.

In addition, one must remember that there are five first division football clubs in the county. That means that on any Saturday—which is the usual day for processions—at least two major matches will have to be policed. In 1977 there were 232 such matches.

One must bear those factors in mind when one considers the record of processions since 1 April 1974. Since that day 129 marches have been recorded in the West Midlands police area.

Photo of Mr Robert Kilroy-Silk Mr Robert Kilroy-Silk , Ormskirk

I understand the reasons why the police seek these additional powers to control marches and demonstrations. But those reasons apply with the same force to those organisations which are specifically exempted. What is the difference between the policing that is required for the massed bands of the Boy Scouts and that required for a demonstration by half a dozen members of a trades council?

Photo of Mr Reginald Eyre Mr Reginald Eyre , Birmingham, Hall Green

I shall try to describe several incidents which have occurred in Birmingham which are not associated with the massed bands of the Boy Scouts or similar events but which have a direct bearing on the reasons that I am advancing in support of the clause.

The 129 marches vary from church parades to political demonstrations. It has not been possible to ascertain the degree of inconvenience and additional work to the police involved in the preparation and policing of the marches. However, it is known that some of the marches involved considerable public disorder. They provide the answer to the question put to me by the hon. Member for Ormskirk (Mr. Kilroy-Silk).

On 21 November 1974 there was the funeral of James Patrick McDade at Coventry which will be prominent in the memories of hon. Members representing Coventry constituencies.

Photo of Mr Ivan Lawrence Mr Ivan Lawrence , Burton

That was not a trade union demonstration.

Photo of Mr Reginald Eyre Mr Reginald Eyre , Birmingham, Hall Green

It was not.

On 28 February 1976 there was a National Front march in Coventry.

Photo of Mr Ivan Lawrence Mr Ivan Lawrence , Burton

That was not a trade union demonstration.

Photo of Mr Reginald Eyre Mr Reginald Eyre , Birmingham, Hall Green

On 15 May 1976 there was a National Front march to Winson Green prison. On 8 September 1976 there was a march by Rastafarians on a police station. On 25 September 1976 there was a National Front march at Walsall. On 26 September 1977 there was a Birmingham trades council committee march against racialism. At the same time there was a National Front march. On 15 August 1977 there was a march by various bodies in the Ladywood by-election in addition to a National Front meeting.

Photo of Mr William Wilson Mr William Wilson , Coventry South East

Can the hon. Member say whether proceedings were taken against the organisers of any of those marches?

Photo of Mr Reginald Eyre Mr Reginald Eyre , Birmingham, Hall Green

If I continue my speech, the answer may become apparent.

On 18 February 1978 there was a march by Birmingham trades council at Digbeth and a National Front meeting. On 11 March 1978 there was a march by the Wolverhampton anti-racist committee. On 18 November 1978 there was a movement associated with a meeting to welcome Mrs. Gandhi.

In each of those processions the police became aware of them before they took place and were able to organise themselves accordingly. In spite of that, arrests and damage took place on a considerable scale. The possibility that ony one of those processions could have taken place without the police having adequate time to prepare is little short of horrifying.

Hon. Members might understand the problems which occur frequently in the West Midlands if I refer in particular to two marches. The first was on 15 May 1976. It was a previously notified and arranged march and demonstration by members of an anti-Fascist committee to Winson Green to counter a meeting held outside by the National Front. In order to prevent the two factions meeting, many police officers were engaged. However, a group of about 200 broke away from the rally and made a determined effort to break the police cordon which prevented access to the National Front supporters.

As a result of that attack, the following occurred: 69 police officers were injured, 16 of whom subsequently reported sick unable to continue with their duties, two police horses were injured, damage was caused to three police vans, three motorcycles and two panda cars, and there were 13 cases of assorted damage to police equipment and uniform. There were 28 arrests for a variety of offences, the majority being under section 5 of the Public Order Act 1936. Other offences included the possession of an offensive weapon, assault on police, damage and causing grievous bodily harm to police officers. Without prior notice the meeting might have been much worse.

Another example that I should report in more detail concerns an incident that took place on 18 February 1978.

Photo of Mr Jeff Rooker Mr Jeff Rooker , Birmingham, Perry Barr

Far be it from me to throw a spanner in the works during the hon. Gentleman's speech, but, since he has referred to the meeting that took place on 18 February 1978 at Digbeth, will he confirm that the proceedings in the Birmingham Crown court last week relating to the demonstration and violence that took place have ceased? Will he therefore confirm that the matter is now not covered by the sub judice rule?

Photo of Mr Reginald Eyre Mr Reginald Eyre , Birmingham, Hall Green

I do not believe that the proceedings are now carrying on. Therefore, I assume that the matter is not subject to the subjudice rule.

Photo of Mr Jeff Rooker Mr Jeff Rooker , Birmingham, Perry Barr

The case was proceeding in the Birmingham Crown court last week. There is a note at the end of the report that I have to the effect that the case is still proceeding. I do not know whether the case has finished but it was proceeding last week, as is shown in the article that appeared in the Birmingham Evening Mail.

Photo of Mr Reginald Eyre Mr Reginald Eyre , Birmingham, Hall Green

I should be as anxious as the hon. Gentleman always is to try to avoid contravening any rule attached to the sub judice instructions. However, I can refer to the outline of the circumstances, which will not reflect in any way upon the conduct of any named individual.

A meeting was held by the National Front at Digbeth city hall. Various organisations under the umbrella of the Anti Nazi League held a separate march and demonstration in opposition to the National Front meeting. During that time an attack was launched on the police lines as people sought to gain access to the National Front meeting.

Photo of Ms Audrey Wise Ms Audrey Wise , Coventry South West

On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. It seems that the hon. Gentleman is making assertions about people launching attacks and we have already had a question about the sub judice rule. May I have a ruling?

Photo of Mr Oscar Murton Mr Oscar Murton , Poole

If, indeed, the case is still under consideration in the courts, the details of it cannot be discussed. I understood that the hon. Member for Birmingham, Hall Green (Mr. Eyre) had left that issue in case the sub judice rule obtains.

Photo of Mr Reginald Eyre Mr Reginald Eyre , Birmingham, Hall Green

I accept entirely the argument of the hon. Member for Coventry, South-West (Mrs. Wise) and your ruling, Mr. Deputy Speaker. I merely say that as a result of that incident 58 police officers were injured, three members of the public were injured and 33 people were arrested for a variety of offences. Damage was caused and serious charges were laid involving a number of matters. I quote those facts to indicate the seriousness of the issue.

Photo of Ms Audrey Wise Ms Audrey Wise , Coventry South West

I shall check Hansard carefully. The hon. Gentleman said that attacks were launched. He named the Anti Nazi League. It seems that he is casting aspersions on members of the Anti Nazi League by linking what he says was an attack by them with an account of injuries and damage done. If that is in order, I am extremely surprised. I am convinced that it is grossly improper.

Photo of Mr Reginald Eyre Mr Reginald Eyre , Birmingham, Hall Green

I note the hon. Lady's intervention. However, the purpose of the sub judice rule is to prevent us from commenting upon the details of a case in a manner that goes far beyond a mere outline of the particulars, which have been published on a number of occasions, of the sort that I have mentioned briefly in seeking to establish the seriousness of the incident.

Had the march been notified to the police, proper arrangements could have been made to route it. The majority of the damage occurred when a number of people broke away from the lines of the procession.

Photo of Mr John Sever Mr John Sever , Birmingham, Ladywood

Will the hon. Gentleman elaborate on his specific argument? Let us suppose that any group had given whatever notice the hon. Gentleman may see fit to hold a demonstration, march or some sort of public expression. Let us suppose that a large crowd came unknown and unexpectedly to protest against the demonstration or march. Surely the provision that he has outlined would not necessarily cover that problem. How would he overcome that?

Photo of Mr Reginald Eyre Mr Reginald Eyre , Birmingham, Hall Green

The hon. Gentleman is right in saying that certain degrees of force may be mustered that may overwhelm whatever strength is available to the police on certain occasions.

Photo of Mr John Sever Mr John Sever , Birmingham, Ladywood

The other people, if we may categorise them in that way, would not have given notice that they were to be present.

Photo of Mr Reginald Eyre Mr Reginald Eyre , Birmingham, Hall Green

That is possible. We may never assume that everybody will observe the law. However, it is necessary to establish the requirement that those who seek to organise processions are under an obligation to give notice so that the police may make adequate arrangements to carry out their duties—to protect the marchers, to protect onlookers and to protect those who may be concerned in the way that I have described. Surely we must in logic be prepared to accept the idea that we should put the obligation upon those who organise such events. That seems entirely reasonable and proper. I emphasise that if the police had had notice of the march the route would have been established and the police would have been in a much better position to prevent untoward events from taking place. We should start from that reasonable basis and anticipate that the great mass of people will observe the requirements of the law.

Photo of Mr Robert Kilroy-Silk Mr Robert Kilroy-Silk , Ormskirk

The hon. Gentleman still has not answered the question put to him earlier by my hon. Friend the Member for Coventry, South-East (Mr. Wilson). Was notice given in all the instances that he is talking about? If it was not given, it does not necessarily mean that if it had been given violence would not have occurred. Is the hon. Gentleman trying to say that if notice had been given the police would have been present in sufficient numbers and that the incidents to which he has referred would not have taken place? If he is, that is clearly not right.

Photo of Mr Reginald Eyre Mr Reginald Eyre , Birmingham, Hall Green

I am saying that notice was not given of the procession that took place at Digbeth. It would have been a distinct advantage if the obligation had existed. Had it been observed and had the police been given notice of the intended march and route, a great deal of trouble would very likely have been avoided. The police would have had a better chance to organise the proceedings.

I add that five private motor cars and one ambulance were damaged at an approximate cost of £800. Twelve business premises were reported damaged at a total estimated cost of £1,925. Considerable damage was done in that locality and fear and apprehension were caused to the people living there.

It would have been much more reasonable if the police had received notice and then been able to be present along the route in sufficient numbers to have minimised risks. I believe that the serious nature of these incidents, and particularly the two which I have described in some detail, underlines the need for notice to be given so that the police are able to make adequate arrangements for the essential services needed to guarantee the peaceful conduct of marches.

I emphasise that, while the democratic rights of marchers are recognised, it is also necessary that the rights of other people to go about their business peacefully, and in good order, must also be recognised and protected, so that disruption, damage and inconvenience are kept to a minimum. I hope that the hon. and learned Member for Montgomery will bear this practical point in mind when he speaks, because I believe that he will suggest that the Scarman report revealed a situation which made the proposal contained in this Bill unnecessary. The hon. and learned Gentleman must understand that the Scarman report was made in 1974 and the incidents I have described took place after that. One must understand the changing situation.

Paragraph 129 of the Scarman report states: It cannot be said too often that our law assumes that people will be tolerant, self-disciplined, and willing to co-operate with the police. Sadly, the incident I have described makes me question whether elements in society share that tolerant view. I think one has to give the police reasonable opportunity to deal with situations of that kind. The Scarman report referred to the law of most Western European States, including France, West Germany, Italy and Holland, and acknowledged that those countries stipulated the requirement of notice.

Scarman said: It is difficult to argue therefore that it represents an unacceptable encroachment upon liberty. That is the view that I take of this situation. It is necessary therefore to emphasise that the notice requirement for street processions does not apply to assemblies or gatherings. Democratic rights in those circumstances are not affected in any way. The words of the clause are: No person shall organise or conduct a procession through any street. The essence of the requirement is the movement of a body of people from A to B because activity of that kind in such circumstances as I have described gives rise to the special need for police supervision.

Secondly, no offence is created of taking part in a procession. The only person who could conceivably be prosecuted in the event of an offence is the organiser of a procession who had neglected to give notice to the police. Thirdly, the procession which is not organised is a spontaneous procession. For instance, if on the Coventry Road, Birmingham there was an accident involving a child and a number of distressed mothers who saw the accident decided to form a procession to go to the police station or to the local authority to protest, that would be a spontaneous activity which would not be caught by the clause.

Photo of Mr Ian Mikardo Mr Ian Mikardo , Tower Hamlets Bethnal Green and Bow

A number of mothers or a number of any other people, unless they are gifted with great telepathic powers, do not decide simultaneously to march in protest to the police station. Almost certainly one mother will say to the others "Look, girls, we have had enough of this, let us go to the police station." Does not she then become the organiser of the march?

Photo of Mr Reginald Eyre Mr Reginald Eyre , Birmingham, Hall Green

I think that there are limitations in number which apply to spontaneity. I think in the incident that I have described it would be natural for a small number of human beings, having witnessed the incident, spontaneously to go to the police station together.

Photo of Mr Ian Mikardo Mr Ian Mikardo , Tower Hamlets Bethnal Green and Bow

The hon. Gentleman is generous in giving way, but we want to pursue this. How many is "a small number"? I once saw an incident outside a factory when a man went to the management to put in a wage claim. For this heinous crime he was instantly dismissed, whereupon all the other men and girls in the factory walked out and marched to the company offices one and a half miles away to protest. There were about 230 of them. Would the hon. Gentleman say that that was "a small number"?

Photo of Mr Reginald Eyre Mr Reginald Eyre , Birmingham, Hall Green

I am not able to answer the hon. Gentleman's question because it depends on the circumstances at the time. But I emphasise that when there is a spontaneous demonstration it is not possible to identify the organiser.

Photo of Mrs Jill Knight Mrs Jill Knight , Birmingham, Edgbaston

The other point that must be borne in mind is the duration of the demonstration. I have in mind a particular spontaneous demonstration which happened in Bristol Road, Birmingham after a child had been killed there recently. That demonstration lasted about 10 minutes. It was quite effective because the local press picked it up. I ask for my hon. Friend's guidance on this point. Might not the question of duration of a demonstration have an effect?

Photo of Mr Reginald Eyre Mr Reginald Eyre , Birmingham, Hall Green

My hon. Friend makes a very good point because the example that she quotes involving a short time contains the element of spontaneity.

Photo of Mr Andrew Bennett Mr Andrew Bennett , Stockport North

The hon. Gentleman is making the point we would like to make. Will he point out to us the line in clause 39 which gives this exemption for spontaneity, because I think that that would allay some of the fears of hon. Members on this side of the House? I have read the clause very carefully and I can see no reference to the number of people in a procession or its duration. How can one define spontaneity? Could the hon. Gentleman tell us which line in the clause covers this point?

Photo of Mr Reginald Eyre Mr Reginald Eyre , Birmingham, Hall Green

The hon. Gentleman is raising what are really substantial Committee points. I made it clear at the beginning that I would have no objection to this clause being committed to the Floor of the House and being examined in detail. The point I am trying to make—which is one of principle—is that if there is a spontaneous demonstration where there is no organiser, this clause cannot apply. I emphasise that the only event caught by the clause is a procession which has been organised. All that the clause will do, as amended, is to require three days' notice of that event by the organiser. If a person takes upon himself the obligation to organise such a procession, he will be caught by the clause. I accept that it may be desirable to go further into detail to try to determine the precise circumstances in which these principles apply. However, I emphasise that the clause does not extend anyone's power to prohibit or regulate processions.

I have spoken longer than I intended and longer than I told the hon. and learned Member for Montgomery that I proposed to take.

Photo of Mr William Wilson Mr William Wilson , Coventry South East

I wonder whether the hon. Gentleman could help me, because I might have to advise the police in my constituency. Once a fortnight from Coventry station to Coventry City football ground great processions of visiting supporters are organised by the police. We are told that notice has to be given to the police and to the district council. Will it be necessary for the chief superintendent of Coventry police, before organising any procession of visiting football supporters, to give notice to the district council?

Photo of Mr Reginald Eyre Mr Reginald Eyre , Birmingham, Hall Green

Having regard to the hon. Gentleman's legal experience, I should be hesitant about advising him. If the police are organising processions in the way that he described, I do not think that they would have any objection to the requirement that they should give notice to themselves and to the district council.

I have recited a number of serious incidents which have taken place in the Birmingham area during the last four years. Those incidents caused a great deal of concern to citizens. It seems entirely reasonable to them that this clause should be brought into existence to require organisers of substantial events to give notice to the police and to specify the route. It does not seem possible that the police can carry out their wide range of duties with these demands on their strength unless that kind of notice is given. Therefore, it is entirely reasonable that the metropolitan county council should have included a power of this kind in the Bill. Similar powers have existed for a number of years in other parts of the country.

I hope that the Bill will succeed in securing a Second Reading. However, I should make it clear that, if it is the wish of the House that clause 39 be examined in detail on the Floor of the House, I should not only approve but welcome that proposal.

8.3 p.m.

Photo of Mr Jeff Rooker Mr Jeff Rooker , Birmingham, Perry Barr

I rise to make what will probably be the shortest speech on Second Reading this evening, because it will take less than one minute.

I wish to make the point for the record that, although I do not intend to debate any of the Bill other than clause 39 on the Instruction, other aspects will probably need to be brought to the attention of the House on Report. I reserve my position and that of my hon. Friends to ensure that, if necessary, other clauses are looked at on Report.

8.4 p.m.

Photo of Mr Emlyn Hooson Mr Emlyn Hooson , Montgomery

The hon. Member for Birmingham, Hall Green (Mr. Eyre) devoted almost the whole of his Second Reading speech to dealing with the principles involved in and the reasons behind clause 39. Therefore, it might be convenient if I put forward the viewpoint of myself and those who have signed the Instruction on this matter.

The hon. Gentleman has agreed that we should consider this clause as though "three days" rather than "seven days" were inserted. I understand that he has given an undertaking that that will be done in Committee. Therefore, it is important that on Second Reading he should consider this matter further and perhaps be moved to consider the attitude of the West Yorkshire authority, for example, which initially had such a clause in its Bill and dropped it following maturer consideration. I submit to the hon. Gentleman and the promoters of the Bill that it is entirely misconceived.

First, if this provision is necessary from the point of view of public order, it should be carried out nationally, not locally. It is nonsense to suggest that difficulties in Birmingham do not arise in London or that difficulties in Montgomery do not arise in Birmingham.

Photo of Mrs Jill Knight Mrs Jill Knight , Birmingham, Edgbaston

Will the hon. and learned Gentleman give way?

Photo of Mr Emlyn Hooson Mr Emlyn Hooson , Montgomery

I shall give way to the hon. Lady later.

This matter has been looked at in great depth by a most distinguished judge and there have been representations by a police authority which has great experience of it. After mature consideration by those responsible, including consideration of the position in Northern Ireland, it was decided that virtually very few changes were needed in the Public Order Act 1936. Therefore, it ill becomes the House to consider basic changes in our law through a clause of this kind in what is essentially a Local Bill. When one is lobbied simultaneously by the National Association of Funeral Directors and the National Council for Civil Liberties against a particular clause, one thinks that there must be a great deal in it.

Photo of Mrs Jill Knight Mrs Jill Knight , Birmingham, Edgbaston

I am interested in what the hon. and learned Gentleman said about the undesirability of different rules obtaining in different authorities. I ask him to bear two points in mind. First, there are such things as byelaws. Local authorities make their own byelaws, and different regulations obtain in different areas. That is an accepted part of local government. I do not think that local authorities would lightly give up their right to make their own byelaws.

Secondly, the position of the police can vary from place to place. That in itself should be considered carefully when reaching a judgment on this matter.

Photo of Mr Emlyn Hooson Mr Emlyn Hooson , Montgomery

With respect, I ask the hon. Lady to reflect on what she said. The hon. Member for Hall Green did not suggest one reason which was peculiar to Birmingham as opposed to London, Manchester or Leeds. He mentioned certain processions which had taken place in Birmingham, but similar processions have also taken place in London. There are football matches in London, Liverpool, and so on.

Photo of Mr Norman Fowler Mr Norman Fowler , Sutton Coldfield

Will the hon. and learned Gentleman give way?

Photo of Mr Emlyn Hooson Mr Emlyn Hooson , Montgomery

I shall not give way. I am answering the hon. Member for Birmingham, Edgbaston (Mrs. Knight). Byelaws deal with peculiarly local situations. This is not a peculiarly local situation.

Photo of Mr Norman Fowler Mr Norman Fowler , Sutton Coldfield

Will the hon. and learned Gentleman give way?

Photo of Mr Emlyn Hooson Mr Emlyn Hooson , Montgomery

No, I shall not give way. The reasons advanced by the hon. Member for Hall Green for the clause were directed to the national situation. He did not put forward one argument which was not put before Lord Justice Scarman when he was considering the Red Lion Square demonstration.

Photo of Mr Emlyn Hooson Mr Emlyn Hooson , Montgomery

I shall give way to the hon. Gentleman later.

The aim of the clause is clearly to try to prevent the occurrence of violence. That can be the only reason for it. It is in order to maintain law and order, and the maintenance of law and order is a national, not a local, matter. Therefore, it is entirely wrong to do it piecemeal in this way. If we need a change in the law, it should be done nationally.

Photo of Mr Norman Fowler Mr Norman Fowler , Sutton Coldfield

Is not the hon. and learned Gentleman missing one of the basic points about the Bill—namely, that it is based upon precedents in the West Midlands? Notice was required in places such as West Bromwich and, indeed, Sutton Coldfield, my own constituency, before it became part of Birmingham. Surely he should take note of that aspect. I realise that he is not a West Midlands Member and therefore does not have a great deal of knowledge of the local area. However, the Bill is based on about seven precedents governing local areas. Surely he must recognise that aspect.

Photo of Mr Emlyn Hooson Mr Emlyn Hooson , Montgomery

If the hon. Gentleman would inquire about his local area, he would find that paragraph 5 of the statement on behalf of the promoters is misleading. They say that this is, as it were, an accepted state of affairs. But in none of the areas was the seven days' notice required. That is the first point on which paragraph 5 of the statement is entirely wrong. The Birmingham corporation, the Solihull urban district council, the Sutton Coldfield corporation and the Worcestershire county council never had such local provision.

I was chided for not saying enough. I think that I know a little more about the law. I named four of the 11 local government areas that now comprise the West Midlands county. Of the remaining seven, none required seven days' notice. Therefore, the paragraph in the promotional literature is incorrect.

Photo of Mr Norman Fowler Mr Norman Fowler , Sutton Coldfield

I do not argue that all the areas, including the West Midlands, were affected. I think the hon. and learned Gentleman will agree that West Bromwich, Smethwick, Wolverhampton, Oldbury, Wednesbury, Willenhall, Sutton Coldfield and Coventry were involved. The hon. and learned Gentleman is right about the seven days. No one has argued that. But it is argued that a precedent exists for notice being given, A precedent exists for notice of between 24 hours and 48 hours. What the hon. and learned Gentleman originally said about special circumstances does not apply.

Photo of Mr Emlyn Hooson Mr Emlyn Hooson , Montgomery

The promoters of this Bill have already reduced the period, as a result of the Instruction, from seven to three days. If the Opposition had their way, the period would have been fixed at seven days. The hon. Gentleman now tells us that the local precedents were for periods of notice varying from 24 hours to 48 hours. What justification is there, from the local point of view, for making the period three days? I hope that maturer consideration will lead to a reduction in the length of notice.

Photo of Mr Reginald Eyre Mr Reginald Eyre , Birmingham, Hall Green

Earnest consideration was given to all the circumstances. I tried to describe the total demand upon the services of the police and the undermanning of the police in the West Midlands, both of which are intense local factors of a special nature, which made the requirement of three days' notice the minimum for which they could ask.

Photo of Mr Emlyn Hooson Mr Emlyn Hooson , Montgomery

The hon. Gentleman will find that the police manning in the West Midlands is up to national average. It is no lower.

If I had been in the House when the provisions—which were peculiar to the West Midlands—were made in the local Bills requiring notice, I should have objected to them then. Presumably these Acts were passed a long time ago.

Everybody sympathises with the police in their difficulties in maintaining law and order. What happens with processions or demonstrations of that kind? What leads to offences is that people go there determined to break the law. They are much more likely to go there and break the law if they know that there is an organised procession. In my experience a spontaneous procession rarely leads to a breaking of the law. It tends to be much smaller than an organised procession. Over the past few years the large processions that have caused most of the trouble have been extremely well organised and utilised by other people for fell purposes. No doubt the promoters of the Bill mean that police facilities should be available to maintain law and order. The Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis suggested a requirement of seven days' notice to Lord Scarman at the Red Lion Square inquiry. The Commissioner went into the matter in much greater detail and gave reasons, as I would expect him to do. He has far more experience to call upon than the hon. Gentleman.

Lord Scarman considered the suggestion with great care and dismissed it. It is important that the House should remember the words that he used in dismissing it: I do not think that the need for it has been established: and it does present really insuperable difficulty for the urgently called demonstration. Certainly the lack of any such requirement played no part in the causation of these disorders: for the police had all the notice they needed. That is true of almost every major demonstration. Lord Scarman continued: It cannot be said too often that our law assumes that people will be tolerant, self-disciplined and willing to co-operate with the police. The hon. Gentleman quoted that part. He did not quote what Lord Scarman said thereafter. He said: The assumption is still sound: that is why the police go unarmed, and also why, with no legal requirement of notice, the police are in fact notified in at least 80 per cent. of the cases. There are some who—law or no law—would never give notice: but they are on the very fringe of our society, and should not, I suggest, force upon the law a largely unnecessary requirement, which can at times be an embarrassment to law-abiding citizens. In the few instances where no notification is given the police have so far experienced no difficulty in finding out that a demonstration is planned. An effective demonstration needs a degree of advance publicity: the police, therefore, are seldom ignorant of what is planned. I do not recommend, therefore, this change in the law. That is a complete answer to the reasons advanced by the hon. Gentleman today. We all deplore the violence that was seen as Lewkisham, for example, and in various marches of that kind. As Lord Scarman pointed out in another part of his report, the National Front and the Trotskyite bully boys will march regardless of restriction. The more notice they have, the more knowledge they have of the procession, the more likely they are today to take advantage of it.

Photo of Mr John Sever Mr John Sever , Birmingham, Ladywood

I alluded to that point earlier when referring to the matter raised by the hon. Member for Birmingham, Hall Green (Mr Eyre) about the demonstrations in Birmingham. It is my understanding that at a big demonstration that took place about a year ago the police had at least a week's notice that the National Front was to hold a meeting in the Digbeth civic hall, which, to those hostile to the meeting taking place ensured that the information was available to them for their demonstration.

Photo of Mr Emlyn Hooson Mr Emlyn Hooson , Montgomery

The demonstrators against the meeting or demonstration will not be given notice of the intention. That will create problems of law and order on the street. All these marches create problems for the police. In Northern Ireland for many years bodies have had to give notice of marches and agree on routes. Over the years there has been more trouble on the marches when the route has been known, as people have gone there and tried to create trouble. The police in Northern Ireland have developed a good technique for dealing with the matter. Nevertheless, it has not been suggested that we should import their experience and change our law. Mature consideration was given to this matter. The Public Order Act 1936 is very effective in many ways. The civil laws of trespass and nuisance already limit the right to demonstrate. It is often difficult in this country to prove various matters.

An officer in this House once told me that at the Red Lion Square demonstration he had the point of a compass shoved into the back of his knee, but he did not know who did it and could not prove who did it. The problem is not that the law does not provide a remedy but that it is very difficult to prove in evidence who has committed an offence or started the trouble. But, whatever its ostensible aims, the clause will affect all sorts of lawful business.

Suppose that an heir to the throne were born and there were to be a spontaneous march to celebrate it. The organiser or the conductor of the march —both terms are used—would be liable to a fine of £200 under the clause. It is all very well to say that the police would not prosecute or that the local authority would not prosecute, but it has the power to do so. It also has the power to prosecute the organiser of a funeral procession.

The letter that I received from solicitors on behalf of the National Association of Funeral Directors reads as follows: Funeral directors do, of course, organise funeral processions and are frequently required to conduct funerals at short notice and, in any event, most funerals take place within less than seven days of the death of the deceased. This was before the present troubles. The letter continues: In these circumstances, it would be impracticable for funeral directors to give the notice prescribed by each of these clauses. Accordingly, the Association have deposited a petition against each of these Bills in opposition to these clauses. I am reminded that Jewish funerals, under the Jewish religion, have to take place within 24 hours of death.

Clause 39 states that No person shall organise or conduct a procession through any street in a district. What is a procession? A funeral is a procession. The IRA funeral to which reference was made was not only a procession but was in its way used as a demonstration. But there is no definition clause in the Bill. There is nothing to define what is a procession. It was opined that if something were spontaneous or took a short time, it would not offend against the law laid down in clause 39. In law it would certainly constitute a procession. It does not matter whether the procession lasts for five minutes or for five hours, or how long or short it is. In ordinary English usage—which is the way the judges interpret the term—a procession can mean anything from a procession or five people to a procession of 5,000 people.

Photo of Mr Reginald Eyre Mr Reginald Eyre , Birmingham, Hall Green

I am very grateful to the hon. and learned Gentleman for allowing me to say, concerning the funeral directors and their point—it is one which would be very substantially considered in Committee—that the promoters are con- fident that arrangements can be made which will fit in with the private arrangements of funeral directors. I hope that the hon. and learned Gentleman will not relate that too much to the incident associated with the funeral procession of the late Mr. McDade.

Photo of Mr Emlyn Hooson Mr Emlyn Hooson , Montgomery

With the greatest respect to the hon. Gentleman, is he seeking to distinguish between one funeral procession and another? That would lay an impossible task upon the authorities.

The hon. Gentleman should reflect on these matters. The right course for the promoters of the Bill, I suggest, is for them to withdraw the clause. If the promoters, together with the hon. Gentleman and his hon. Friends, think that a change is necessary in the Public Order Act 1936, they should advocate a change in the public law of this country. That is the way to do it, and not by a side wind in a Bill of this kind.

8.23 p.m.

Photo of Ms Audrey Wise Ms Audrey Wise , Coventry South West

I want to draw attention to clause 99. I share the concern of my hon. Friends about clause 39, but no doubt we shall be returning to that clause a little later.

It would have been infinitely better, Mr. Deputy Speaker, if this really had been a consolidation Bill, a tidying-up Bill. However, as it is not a tidying-up Bill or a consolidation Bill, I feel that it is rather wrong of the promoter to put it forward with these reassuring noises.

I notice that the general trend of the Bill is restrictive. It was only through the vigilance of many people that yet another clause has been dropped, and through the vigilance of my own constituents, among others, the council was persuaded to drop the clause relating to caravans. It was originally intended—unnecessarily and in a blanket way—to restrict the right of people to park their caravans on their own premises.

Clause 39 is another restrictive clause. So I wonder whether the promoters, through clause 99, feel that they are redressing the balance in some obscure way. Perhaps they feel that it is a blow for freedom because it relates to the removal from the National Exhibition Centre of certain provisions of the Shops Act 1950.

I draw attention to the removal from application to the National Exhibition Centre of Section 47 of the Shops Act. I am concerned about this removal because it relates to Sunday trading. Some hon. Members may feel that allowing Sunday trading is a blow for freedom. However, they are not considering the interests of a good many working people involved.

I am a member of the Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers—not, I hasten to say, a sponsored Member of the House, but an ordinary lay member. For a long time I have been aware of the concern felt by shop workers about the abolition of the Sunday trading prohibition. Union members feel under constant pressure with regard to this matter. If we lived in the best of all perfect worlds, freedom to trade every day of the week all round the clock might be a good thing. However, we do not live in the best of all perfect worlds.

I do not wish to delay the House unduly, but I should like to draw attention to a peculiarity that faces shop workers and the trade union that attempts to organise them. Most people do not work on Sundays. Therefore, if Sunday trading is allowed, a door is automatically opened for a vast extension of the practice of moonlighting. If there is a complaint about the removal of protection from a group of working people, normally the working people have the remedy in their own hands and they should join their trade union. The trade union, through its activity, should then protect those workers. But in this case, if this group of workers becomes subject to an enormous influx of others not normally employed in retailing but now free to take part in that trade on a day which is usually free, an enormous problem is created for the trade union and the shop workers.

I am sure that members of my union, and people engaged in the retail trade, will share my fears about clause 99. Although it seems innocent, and seems to apply to a special situation, it is another manifestation of the generalised pressure to enlarge the scope of Sunday trading. It therefore poses a threat to the working conditions of shop workers in general. There would also be a threat to the consumer because of the pressure on prices as a result of keeping shops open seven days of the week.

People are often asked "Would you like shops to be open on Sunday?", and the tendency is to say "Yes". But no one asks who will pay the overheads, the shift allowances or the overtime payments. No one asks those sorts of questions. The general impression given is that we can have Sunday trading without any increase in costs, and without any worsening of conditions for shop workers. That is simply not true.

My hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham, Perry Barr (Mr. Rooker) referred to the fact that there will be a Report stage on this Bill. In the light of what I have said, I give due notice that some of us may find it necessary to bring forward amendments to this clause in an effort to change it substantially.

8.30 p.m.

Photo of Mr Peter Blaker Mr Peter Blaker , Blackpool South

I wish to deal with a different part of the Bill, namely, parts VIII and IX, which deal with the licensing of night cafes and entertainment clubs and the licensing of public entertainments, which are defined as "boxing or wrestling entertainment" or "music or dancing entertainment".

As I understand it, the present law is that most of these matters, if not all, are dealt with by the licensing justices. The object of the Bill is to transfer jurisdiction to the local authority. There are two reasons for concern about this proposal, both in relation to my own constituents and also with regard to the entertainment and tourist industry in general. If the pattern is to be set by this Bill and, indeed, by another two Bills which are before the House, that may set a precedent which may spread to other parts of the country.

The second reason for concern, which is the substantive one, is that we have situations in which from time to time local authorities are themselves engaged in the promotion of entertainments, in the form of boxing or wrestling or music or dancing. Therefore, there will be a conflict of interest and the local authority might be a judge in its own cause.

I do not intend to cast any reflection upon the integrity or impartiality of local authorities in the way in which they operate in that capacity. But I believe that this is a matter which should be further considered. I recognise that there are exemptions in clause 68, and also that there is a provision for appeal to the magistrates against the decision of the local authority. I am not qualified to say whether those exemptions go far enough. My point is simply that I believe that there is here a matter for concern. I hope that in the later stages the promoters of the Bill will be prepared to listen sympathetically to any representations that may be made to them on this subject.

8.33 p.m.

Photo of Mr Sydney Tierney Mr Sydney Tierney , Birmingham, Yardley

I was loth to intervene in the good-natured debate, but now that the disruption has taken place I hope that the promoters will agree to the suggestion of the hon. and learned Member for Montgomery (Mr. Hooson) and withdraw clause 39. That would he a happy ending to a good-natured and friendly debate.

There are 131 clauses in the Bill. With my hon. Friend the Member for Coventry, South-West (Mrs. Wise), I feel strongly about clause 99, which comes under the Birmingham provisions in Part XII. I have in mind the length of this part of our debate, but I should like to spend a few minutes commenting in detail about this clause.

A number of constituents have made representations to me about the application of this clause. I have also received representations from shopkeepers as well as shop workers in the Birmingham area, who have expressed particular concern about clause 99.

I represent a Birmingham constituency. The National Exhibition Centre has been a boon to Birmingham, the West Midlands and the United Kingdom at large. I pay tribute to the foresight and determination of the people who made it possible. It has lived up to its expectations, and I trust that it will flourish for many years to come.

Having said that, I am anxious to discover what some of the expectations are, particularly in the retail trade. I believe that they are taking a path that may be of advantage to the centre in its operations but disadvantageous to other sections of the community.

I oppose clause 99. Clause 99 is headed Application of Shops Act 1950 to Exhibition Centre". It provides: Sections 1, 2, 8 and 47 of the Shops Act 1950 shall not apply to—

  1. (a) a shop to which this section applies during the course of an exhibition and in the period when works or facilities in respect of that exhibition are being provided or removed; and
  2. (b) a stand, whether in a building or in the open, while used for the purpose and during the course of an exhibition."
The effects of the provisions are as follows. Section 1 provides that every shop shall be closed not later than 1 p.m. on one weekday in every week. Section 2 prescribes the general closing hours of shops—that is, 9 a.m. on the late day and 8 p.m. on any other day in the week. Section 8 enables a local authority to regulate the opening hours of shops by making a closing order fixing an earlier hour—not earlier than 7 p.m.—than the general closing hour. But it cannot fix a later hour than 9 p.m. Section 47, as mentioned by my hon. Friend the Member for Coventry, South-West, provides that, except for the purpose of transactions listed in the fifth schedule to the Act, all shops must be closed on Sundays.

I have read from the evidence given in another place by Sir Robert Booth, who is chairman of the National Exhibition Centre. It is clear that what the centre requires is exemption from the Shops Act 1950, that is, from half-day closing of retail shops on the site, the observance of 8 p.m. or 9 p.m. closing—it wants it later than 9 p.m.—and the restrictions on Sunday trading.

The National Exhibition Centre provides in its central piazza a range of essential services—banks, travel agents, staff agencies and so on. There appears to be no problem here. There are a number of retail shops providing basic requirements such as tobacco, newspapers, chemists' items, souvenirs and gifts. I understand that these shops already open on Sunday from 12 noon to 6 p.m. They operate within the law. They do not affect shops in the vicinity, including those in my constituency. That is accepted and there is no disagreement on that.

There appears to be no problem here except that the centre may want the shops open later than 6 p.m. on Sunday or—and this is a real fear in my constituency—it may want more shoos in the area of the National Exhibition Centre.

The National Exhibition Centre is on a 300-acre site, well capable of further development. As stated in the evidence in another place, its objectives are, first, to secure maximum occupancy and revenue from its exhibition space. Secondly, it aims to exploit fully the market for its exhibition services and to develop compatible ancillary, promotional and other activities. I am sure that hon. Members will agree that these are objectives capable of the widest interpretation in terms of development now and in the future.

There is a fear that there will be attempts to establish further retail trading units in the NEC, possibly a supermarket or hypermarket or other shops, to sell a wider range of goods. It is envisaged that these would also be exempted from the restrictions of early closing and Sunday trading if clause 99 became legally enforceable. If that occurred, the centre would have an unfair advantage over every other trading outlet within miles of it.

In my view, the clause is not so much concerned with retail shops and their operation as with stands within the exhibition centre. Under the Bill, a stand is defined as any platform, structure, space or other area provided at the centre for exhibition purposes. The main problem with the evidence of the chairman of the National Exhibition Centre relates to the retail sales of merchandise from exhibition stands which are presently caught by the legislation. In his statement, the chairman, Sir Robert Booth, said that in Europe Sunday had become an important day for two types of exhibition, and that the practice of opening such shows on Sundays was developing in the United Kingdom.

First, there are trade shows, the sponsors of which wish to inform the general public of up-to-date developments as demonstrated by the building, home electronics and furniture exhibitions which have been staged at the National Exhibition Centre. Secondly, there are exhibitions aimed particularly at retailers or dealers who find Sunday the best day to attend them. British shows with this characteristic have already been held at the centre. They include domestic textiles, contract furnishing, gifts and hardware, and sports and garden equipment.

Most exhibitions at the centre have wholesale activities which are not affected by the Shops Act 1950. They trade on a different basis. It is evident that the National Exhibition Centre requires the freedom to allow sales directly to the public at these exhibitions, for which, as Sir Robert says, there is a growing demand. This means sales of merchandise directly from the stand to the individual customer. This is the kind of merchandise that can be handled and transported by a member of the public seeking to trade. It would differ very little from the way in which a transaction is normally carried out in the shop or in the market place. In fact, the centre would have all the characteristics of a market, or of a Sunday market, if it were allowed to trade on a Sunday.

If the management of the National Exhibition Centre does this on as big a scale as it does everything else, we could have the beginnings of the biggest Sunday market in Britain, and possibly Europe, within the confines of the National Exhibition Centre. It would be housed in the best buildings with the best facilities that the country can offer. This would affect retailers in general and workers in the retail trades. People would go there to buy articles that they would have bought elsewhere in the centre of Birmingham or in my constituency, for example, during the week.

If we pass the clause, we will give legal status to Sunday markets and invite hundreds more to seek the same right of trading on Sundays. It will be the thin end of the wedge. Shops, supermarkets and hypermarkets will not hold back if their sales are affected by an avalanche of Sunday markets which are open to the public during hours when the shops are closed by law.

I do not want to argue the points in detail about Sunday trading and the effect that it would have within the community. There are those who wish to continue to observe Sunday in line with their religious beliefs, and that is their right. There are those who want Sunday to remain as it is now—the one day of the week when the hustle, bustle and noise cease for a few hours at the end of a busy week. They want a time when they can go into built-up cities and towns where the streets are clear of exhaust fumes, at least for a while, so that they can do some window shopping. Workers in the retail trades will be greatly affected and placed at a great social disadvantage if they are asked to work on Sundays as well, bearing in mind that they already work on Saturdays. These workers have always taken a broad and reasonable view on the question of providing adequate shopping facilities for the public. In recent years there has been a decided extension of weekday shopping facilities for the public. A six-day trading week has been introduced. This has been coupled with late night closing facilities provided for the public. These have provided the public with more than adequate facilities to shop during a six-day week.

It is necessary to strike a balance between the justified and proven needs of the public, the efficient economic operations of retailing, and the shop workers' need for reasonable and equitable working schedules. Parliament has accepted the need for statutory regulation of trading hours in retail establishments for over 50 years. If Parliament fails to maintain control in respect of Sunday trading, seven-day trading will develop across the board and the increased cost will be borne by the housewife. Laws are made to apply to all, not to give advantage to one over another. It would cause great concern in the retail trades if some sections in a community were able to depart from the present law on shops, or if it were not applicable to them and an advantage was gained by them.

Clause 99 seeks to make sections of the Shops Act 1950 non-applicable to all outlets of retail trading carried on within the National Exhibition Centre. That centre is asking for an advantage over all other retail traders. On that ground alone, clause 99 should be deleted. If not, I will oppose the Second Reading.

Question put and agreed to.

Bill accordingly read a Second time and committed.

Photo of Mr Oscar Murton Mr Oscar Murton , Poole

Mr. Alan Beith, formally to move his Instruction.

Photo of Alan Beith Alan Beith Opposition Whip (Commons)

Am I not permitted to move it rather more than formally, Mr. Deputy Speaker?

Photo of Mr Oscar Murton Mr Oscar Murton , Poole

Most certainly. The hon. Gentleman can move it at whatever length he likes. I shall not curb him.

8.46 p.m.

Photo of Alan Beith Alan Beith Opposition Whip (Commons)

I know, Mr. Deputy Speaker, that you would do no such thing.

I beg to move, That it be an Instruction to the committee on the Bill to leave out clause 39. In moving, though not at great length, this Instruction standing in my name and those of others of my hon. Friends, to which many welcome names have been added, I do not want to add to what was said by my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Montgomery (Mr. Hooson) on Second Reading because I feel that he made the issues very clear.

In my view, legislation which severely restricts, for whatever reasons, the rights of citizens should have its place in public law if we have it at all, and not in the private legislation of local authorities. In the past that has not always been the case and we have placed restrictions on the rights of individuals' in private legislation over many years. But here we have a major restriction on the freedom of the individual, the freedom of association; and the proper place for that, if it is to be argued for at all, is in public order legislation and not in private legislation.

Secondly, I do not believe that the existence of provisions of this kind would materially assist the police, because my experience of the way these matters have happened in the past suggests to me that the demonstrations which cause the greatest difficulty are known about in advance, because for them to take place at all a substantial number of people have to be told of them, and that very fact suggests that it is inappropriate to place restrictions on more spontaneous demonstrations of the kind which are involved here.

My hon. and learned Friend pointed to some of the ways in which this restriction would extend to genuine spontaneous demonstrations of many kinds—for example, demonstrations when a particular decision is taken and there is an immediate angry reaction to it, perhaps when a council decides that it is to put up the rates by 25 or 50 per cent. and a group of people from a particular area decide that they will march quite peacefully to, the town hall, wave a banner and put their point of view.

There are demonstrations of a happy, cheerful kind. In my constituency it has been the practice over scores of years, when the Liberal Party, as it often does, wins elections, to hold great torchlight processions.

There has been a long list of Liberal Members in my constituency, such as Sir Edward Grey, whose hackney carriage, when he was elected to the Berwick-upon-Tweed seat, was drawn up the steep hill in the centre of the town and a crowd gathered round. He was re-elected time after time. When we hold such processions, we do not presume upon the wishes of the electorate. We wait until its verdict is declared before we hold our torchlight procession or other celebration in which thousands of people take part. I have taken part in three and intend to take part in many more.

There are many occasions when happy, cheerful, spontaneous processions take place without causing any difficulty to the police. They would be prohibited by the proposed legislation. My hon. and learned Friend the Member for Montgomery quoted the example of funerals to show the ultimate absurdity of supposing that it is right to require seven days' notice before any group of people can hold a procession on our streets. It is a right which we have enjoyed over many years, and it is carried out by the vast majority of those who exercise it with the utmost restraint and concern for law and order.

Indeed, most of those who hold short-notice processions usually telephone police to tell them that there is to be a march and to check the route. The requirement for seven days' notice will not make it easier for the police to deal with such processions.

Photo of Mr Reginald Eyre Mr Reginald Eyre , Birmingham, Hall Green

The hon. Gentleman may not have been here when I moved the Second Reading of the Bill. I made clear that the promoters have authorised me to give an undertaking that the clause will be amended so that three days' notice, rather than seven days, is required.

Photo of Alan Beith Alan Beith Opposition Whip (Commons)

I heard the hon. Gentleman and I am well aware of the under- taking, but we have to look at the matter against the background of four other county councils queueing up to ask us to approve seven days' notice. I shall refer later to a very much better assurance given by another county council.

Everything that I have said about restrictions applies equally to a requirement for three days' notice to be given. It is ludicrous to have to give even three days' notice of one's intention to organise a funeral procession. Most funerals in my constituency are organised in just about that time and we have enough bureaucratic problems with coroners' certificates, problems over the border and so on.

Difficulties can arise in all the places to which this legislation and similar measures will apply and I see no reason for the citizens of Birmingham to be regarded as inferior to those in the part of the country that I am happy to represent or as being less entitled to their civil rights.

The West Yorkshire county council faced up to the strong objections and gave a clear assurance that it would withdraw the requirement to give notice of processions. Due credit goes to that council and I am sorry that the West Midlands council and other county councils have not given a similar indication.

We should make clear that we regard the proposal as a severe limitation upon the freedom of association and the freedom to express views in civil and peaceful ways and that we do not want to see it as part of any Bill. We should therefore strike it out now.

Photo of Mr Oscar Murton Mr Oscar Murton , Poole

May I remind the House that we are also discussing the committal motion in the name of the hon. Member for Birmingham, Perry Barr (Mr. Rooker): That notwithstanding the provisions of Standing Order 109, clause 39 of the Bill be committed to a Committee of the whole House and that the remainder of the Bill be referred to the Committee of Selection.

8.53 p.m.

Photo of Mr Jeff Rooker Mr Jeff Rooker , Birmingham, Perry Barr

This is an important Bill and in many ways its provisions transcend the West Midlands. It is the forerunner of Bills from other counties. Bills are before this House and another place and I have no doubt that there are even more Bills in the hands of draftsmen throughout the country containing provisions similar to those in clause 39.

The matter ought to be dealt with by taking clause 39 out of the Bill. I have certain reservations about doing that, but I shall vote for that course if there is a Division. The second best choice is that the Committee stage should be taken on the Floor of the House so that all hon. Members may participate and we can get the necessary amendments to cover the problems that have been raised and will be raised in this debate.

Many questions have already been posed about the frequency of marches, the number of people taking part in spontaneous processions, the problem with funerals and so on. If we do not cover all those matters, we shall pass bad law from which our constituents will suffer for years. It will require primary legislation to change what we do wrong.

Mention has been made of what might be called the explantory memorandum, except that it does not deserve the title. It is a statement consisting of three or four paragraphs. To say: These provisions are promoted by way of re-enactment of local Act sections which are now in force in the greater part of the County is totally misleading. There is no excuse for that. The promoters know as well as every hon. Member who has taken the trouble to find out the antecedents of the clause that not one of those areas had a seven-day requirement. No reference has been made to that whatsoever. In fact, the statement is deliberately misleading.

On 25 January the parliamentry agents wrote to me, as one of the persons who had down an Instruction, saying that if there were any parts of the Bill other than clause 39 in which I was interested they would be happy to meet me. The last sentence of the letter read: I do not, however, think that there is anything we can usefully discuss with regard to clause 39". They were not even open to discussion or negotiation.

The agents came to the House on 12 December last to talk to Labour Members. That happened to be the date of the Second Reading of the Consolidated Fund Bill, a day when the House is not generally well attended. I was here because I had secured a debate on Second Reading. That was my first priority. It is quite clear, however, that clause 39 was not even up for discussion.

The minute this Bill was put down for Second Reading last Thursday, statements were made about "three days" instead of "seven". Movement starts once it is realised that a matter is actually coming to the Floor of the House.

I thank the hon. Member for Birmingham, Hall Green (Mr. Eyre) for his concession. Those concerned must have at least shown that they are willing to move. However, it still does not meet the argument that this Bill is not really re-enacting other Acts already in force or consolidating them. For the citizens of Birmingham the time limit goes from zero to three days, rather than from zero to seven days. In other parts of the county, of course, it may go from 48 hours to 72 hours. The fact remains that in Birmingham there is a large jump from no time at all to three days.

Photo of Mr Andrew Bennett Mr Andrew Bennett , Stockport North

Will my hon. Friend accept—though many people in Coventry perhaps will not accept it—that an awful lot of people in the West Midlands look at Birmingham as the centre of the West Midlands? Therefore, if they are organising a demonstration there is a tendency for them to choose the centre of Birmingham as its focal point, so that in fact it is slightly more significant than it would be if it was one of the outer districts of the West Midlands.

Photo of Mr Jeff Rooker Mr Jeff Rooker , Birmingham, Perry Barr

The fact that Birmingham is classed as the centre and the heart of this thriving community in the West Midlands naturally annoys people in Walsall, Wolverhampton and Coventry. But of course it is the focal point because the county administration—the West Midlands county council—is there. Therefore, if one wants to lobby County Hall one has to go to Birmingham. My hon. Friend has raised an important point.

I do not want to delay the House, because other hon. Members wish to speak. But I want to make the point that great play has been made about the undermanning of the police force. The hon. Member for Hall Green referred to that in his introductory speech on Second Reading. On 15 January, in an ATV television programme called "Left Right and Centre", there was a discussion between Councillor Taylor, the leader of the West Midlands county council, and my hon. Friend the Member for Coventry, South-West (Mrs. Wise) on the matter of clause 39. I have taken the trouble to obtain a transcript. Councillor Taylor said: I am backing the chief constable … he is under-manned … he would like seven days' notice. We have heard about the undermanning of the police force in the West Midlands. In fact, on 1 April 1974 its strength was 5,235 and on 13 September last year it was 5,822, an increase of 587. The force is still under strength, but it is worth pointing out how much it is under strength.

The figures I have just quoted were given to me in a parliamentary answer on 8 November last year. But on 13 November, in answer to a question by my hon. Friend the Member for Gravesend (Mr. Ovenden), it was indicated that on 1 April 1974 the undermanning— that is, strength against establishment—was 1,231. On 1 April 1978 it was 761 under strength. It is clear that a Labour Government take the strengthening of the police seriously, and in absolute terms we have more police nationally and in the West Midlands.

The undermanning has been almost halved since the Tory Party left office, yet the Tories have the brass face to complain that it is the undermanning of the police force that causes the requirement for this legislation. Clearly, we have moved a considerable way towards getting rid of the undermanning in the country and in the West Midlands in the past five years. This must be taken into account.

Let us consider the time limits of the other areas covered by the Bill. Some hon. Members have referred to the Bill and the other measures, so we must put on the record what the position is. In the Wolverhampton Corporation Act the restriction is: the day next but one before the date started", excluding, of course, Sundays, bank holidays, and so on. The Walsall Corporation Act 1969, the West Bromwich Corporation Act 1969, the Dudley Cor- poration Act 1969 and the Warley Corporation Act 1969 contain the same provision. The only exception is the Coventry Corporation Act 1920. I am not sure why there was not a new Act for Coventry in 1969. Section 108 of the 1920 Act requires notice at … head police office twenty-four hours at least (exclusive of Sundays) previous to the time fixed for such procession". Dependent on the time when one is having the procession, that can vary by 24 hours and probably up to 48 hours.

If the county had followed the words in the long title An Act to re-enact with amendments and to extend certain local enactments in force within the county of West Midlands", if it had stuck to the re-enactment of those Acts with amendments for the areas not already covered—in other words, to bring Birmingham into the same position as Warley, Wolverhampton, Dudley, and so on—it could be argued that it was a true tidying-up measure following local government reorganisation. There might have been an argument about the principle, but one could at least have seen that there was some logic in it. But, no, we had the move to seven days' notice for all the areas. Although we are now talking about three days, until a couple of hours ago we were talking about a whole week, which is a considerable period.

It is not true that in Birmingham, where there are no restrictions at present, processions take place with no notice. I think that the hon. Member for Hall Green read a list of 10 demonstrations or processions that had given cause for concern. He said that the police became aware of all of them. It is usually the function of the organisers of a demonstration or procession—the two usually go hand in hand, but not always—to have as many people there as possible and to secure as much publicity as possible in order to put their case. One does not do that by not telling anybody about it.

The essence of demonstrating is to make a point. Four people walking along a pavement, ignored by everybody, do not make a point. One must get publicity. One must organise, and it is very difficult. It is ludicrous to argue that this measure will, first, solve those problems and, secondly, solve the problems of the violence. It will not meet the issue of the breakaway demonstrations.

Nothing can affect the problems involved in breakaway demonstrations. Who is to be held responsible? No fool will give three days' notice that he will go on a procession and organise a breakaway procession. The people who are out for trouble and who create violence on the streets will still do that after the passage of this Bill, if it is passed, in the same way as before. Necessary laws to meet that situation under the Public Order Act already exist. Action has to be taken. The great tragedy is that it takes so damned long to get the matters before the court. The issues at Digbeth last year were before the courts in Birmingham only last week, 11 months after the problem occurred. It is a tragedy that the operation of the law takes so long. I will not go into great detail—

Photo of Mr Andrew Bennett Mr Andrew Bennett , Stockport North

Does not my hon. Friend agree that one of the problems is that a group of people organise demonstrations and other people object to them and want to counter them in some way? The provision that three days' notice must be given makes it impossible for someone to organise a counter-demonstration. Is there not a major advantage in having a counter-demonstration which can be organised and so allow people to express their feelings rather than people having to stand on the sidelines of one permitted demonstration and make comments or do worse?

Photo of Mr Jeff Rooker Mr Jeff Rooker , Birmingham, Perry Barr

My hon. Friend the Member for Stockport, North (Mr. Bennett) makes a valid point. We have seen the position in Northern Ireland. One march goes down various streets. Others may have been banned. But people will stand in those streets and hurl bricks and missiles at those they disapprove of, because there is no way of organising a peaceful counter-demonstration.

No one in this House, I hope, is advocating violent counter-demonstrations or violent primary demonstrations. We are trying to secure for our constituents only the liberty to participate in peaceful processions and peaceful demonstrations, whether primary or secondary. The essence is that a demonstration has to be peaceful. If opportunities are closed off for certain groups, they will legitimately feel that they have not been able to put their point, and it is easy for these matters to end up in violence.

Reference has been made to the trades council in Birmingham. I am not sure that the hon. Member for Hall Green was correct in attributing to the trades council the organisation of the marches he gave. I will not nitpick with him. I am sure that there was one march which he listed for which the trades council was not responsible. Sir David Perris, secretary of the Birmingham trades council, has been organising processions and demonstrations in Birmingham for over 13 years. These have included up to 10,000 people. He has had no problems whatever with the police in getting the route organised and organising the stewards.

Photo of Mr Ivan Lawrence Mr Ivan Lawrence , Burton

Is that not perhaps because he gave notice of those demonstrations and processions?

Photo of Mr Jeff Rooker Mr Jeff Rooker , Birmingham, Perry Barr

He gave notice although there were no requirements to do so under any Local Acts affecting Birmingham. He gave notice because he is a responsible individual, heading a responsible organisation. The great mass of people and organisations are responsible and will give notice. Those who are not responsible and who want to cause trouble will not give notice even if this Bill is passed. That is the whole point at issue. As Scarman said, notice is given in 80 per cent. of cases.

Those who want to organise a disruption will organise a breakaway without giving any notice. Sir David Perris has had no problems in Birmingham over a period of 13 years. The trades council has lodged a formal petition against this clause. If the matter is taken on the Floor of the House, the petition will clearly not be presented to a Committee in the normal way, but we will be able to raise these points in great detail.

The trades council makes a point which is worth emphasing— There is no constitutional or statutory right of freedom of assembly, including a right of procession. The freedom of people to take part in public processions is subject to the civil law of trespass and nuisance, and to the powers of criminal sanctions imposed in legislation relating to the highway and public order … no other restriction should be placed on the exercise of these rights other than those that are in the interests of public safety. That is fair. Nobody has argued that clause 39 will alter the reality. It would be a mistake to give people outside the House the impression that the mere passing of a Bill or clause that requires people to give notice will mean that there will be no more rough and tumble in processions, no more violence and no more problems. That would be a false impression.

The Government have considered this matter with the chief constables. The chief constables are not unanimous. If we must curtail the civil liberties of our citizens—and I do not say that we should—all citizens should be affected, not only those covered by local authority Acts.

If farmers in Warwickshire want to demonstrate spontaneously in their tractors and to fill up the streets of Warwick and Leamington, they will be able to do so. If my constituents arrive at their factory one morning and find that there is a "closed" notice on it they will not be allowed to demonstrate. It is not fair to distinguish between people who live in different areas.

This is a matter which is too important to be dealt with in a Local Act. If necessary there should be an amendment to the Public Order Act 1936. That is the only satisfactory way of dealing with the situation.

I gave two examples of the problem during the debate in August. One of them involved the operation of planning rules and the other the incidence of road accidents. During the Summer Recess another case arose. In my constituency there is a former quarry covering about 150 acres. A small part of it is used as a refuse tip by the county council. The council did not adequately cover the crude household refuse with topsoil. Plagues of flies swarmed in their millions in the shops and houses nearby. Petitions were presented and lobbies took place. A group of my constituents decided that an effective way of achieving publicity was to march to the Birmingham council house and present the petition to the mayor, to move to the local environment department and on to county hall.

My constituents equipped themselves with aerosols, fly swats and fly papers. They informed the local press. They marched through the city. That march would have been illegal under the clause. The woman who organised the demonstration could not have given seven days' notice. The houses were invaded by millions of flies. What were they supposed to do? If the clause had been in operation, should they have done nothing? Should they have relied upon local councillors to take action at the next monthly meeting of the council? Not on your life. This required spontaneous action by citizens at the grass roots.

Hon. Members are fond of citing Lord Denning when it suits them. I shall quote him because it suits me. I refer to a dissenting judgment in the case of Hubbard v. Pitt in 1975. It involved estate agents in London. Lord Denning argued about the rights of free-born Englishmen. His arguments are important because they show the willingness of the courts to take on board certain rights which they have not done before.

At page 6 in his dissenting judgment, Lord Denning said: The principle on which we go was stated many years ago by a very strong Court of Appeal … in Bonnard v. Perryman It was stated: The right of free speech is one which it is for the public interest that individuals should possess, and, indeed, that they should exercise without impediment, so long as no wrongful act is done; and unless an alleged libel is untrue, there is no wrong committed; but on the contrary, often a very wholesome act is performed in the publication and repetition of an alleged libel. Lord Denning added: the right of protest is one aspect of the right of free speech. That is important because the right of procession and demonstration is clearly part of the right of free speech in English law.

At page 10, Lord Denning said: That case spoke of the right of free speech. Here we have to consider the right to demonstrate and the right to protest on matters of public concern. These are rights which it is in the public interest that individuals should possess; and, indeed, that they should exercise without impediment so long as no wrongful act is done. Lord Denning continued to talk about the demonstration that occurred at St. Peter's Fields, Manchester in 1891 in support of universal suffrage. The magistrates sought to stop it. Hundreds were killed and injured. Afterwards the Court of Common Council in London affirmed 'the undoubted right of Englishmen to assemble together for the purpose of deliberating upon public grievances'. Such is the right of assembly. So also is the right to meet together, to go in procession, to demonstrate and to protest on matters of public concern. The existing common law rights of our individual constituents cannot be stated more clearly. Lord Denning makes the necessary qualification that I have already stated—namely, As long as all is done peaceably and in good order without threats or incitement to violence or obstruction". Lord Denning continued: I stress the need for peace and good order. Only too often violence may break out: and then it should he firmly handled and severely punished. I do not dissent from that. I do not advocate a charter for violence. I do not advocate a wreckers' charter. I want to protect the individual rights of my citizens and those of others not in the West Midlands, like the hon. Member for Berwick-upon-Tweed (Mr. Beith), who may be next in the queue. This is a classic case where we have to stand and defend the rights of one group to protect the rights of the mass of the people. If we do not do so, they will be impeded later. Lord Denning concluded: It recognised that it was important to maintain the 'freedom of protest on issues of public concern'. It is time for the courts to recognise this too. That was in 1975. Although it was a dissenting judgment, it was Lord Denning's. I have quoted a statement made by the Master of the Rolls that transcends the attempt in the Bill to impinge upon the rights of our constituents.

During the ATV programme entitled "Left, Right and Centre" the leader of the West Midlands Council kept on saying that he wanted to support the police. In answer to a question put by the interviewer he replied: Yes, I think that a spontaneous action of that nature, if it is genuinely spontaneous, is not an orgainsed procession"— in other words, a group of parents marching on the town hall. The leader of the council was saying that, if the procession is genuinely spontaneous and is not an organised procession, he, the chief of West Midlands county council, is prepared to sanction it. Councillors are not supposed to make law in that way. That is the function of this place. That is our purpose as legislators.

I am not prepared to accept the words of the leader of the county council when he appears on television to try to reassure citizens of the West Midlands. It is all very well saying "It will be all right because I, John Taylor, say so", but that is not good enough. The courts will not take any account of what a councillor says on television. The courts will take account of the common law of the land as I hope was correctly enunciated by Lord Denning and they will take account of Acts of Parliament. For that reason, this House should not unknowingly put into a statute something which could have repercussions reaching much farther than the promoters of this Bill are prepared to admit.

Clearly the hon. Member for Hall Green could not answer all the interventions put to him, because that is the problem in promoting a Bill which contains such a wide-ranging clause. Hon. Members ought to be of a mind to throw it out completely, but if that is not possible they ought at the very least to do the job themselves in Committee of the whole House. They should put in amendments, if the clause stays there, such as are reasonably practical to provide a way out for the spontaneous demonstration where it is clearly not possible, in the interests of getting a grievance heard, to give notice, whether it be one day, three days or seven days.

9.26 p.m.

Photo of Mrs Jill Knight Mrs Jill Knight , Birmingham, Edgbaston

I sometimes think that the hon. Member for Birmingham, Perry Barr (Mr. Rooker) is God's gift to the debater. I cannot resist answering some the points that he made, although I shall not follow his example as to length.

I find it hard to believe that the only way in which the hon. Gentleman's constituents could have been saved from the plague of savage flies was by having a demonstration. I have no doubt, because I respect the hon. Member for Perry Barr as a good constituency Member of Parliament, that he could have dealt with the plague of savage flies without a demonstration. I assure him that, had that happened in my area, I should have stormed into the environmental department and had something done about it at once. The hon. Gentleman must not suggest that the only way in which his troubled constituents could have had their difficulties alleviated was by a march.

Photo of Mrs Jill Knight Mrs Jill Knight , Birmingham, Edgbaston

Secondly, the hon. Gentleman made great play of the fact that the strength of the West Midlands police force had increased. I know that the hon. Gentleman has acquainted himself with the facts. Therefore, he will know, as I know, that it is necessary to look somewhat further than the question of numbers, because the increase in numbers is frequently accounted for by the increased recruitment of women police officers.

One of the difficulties of dealing with violence, demonstrations and activities of that kind is that, no matter how excellent women police officers may be in areas of police work, they cannot do the same job as police constables. I think that it was a little unfair of the hon. Gentleman to talk about numbers without at the same time saying that, although there was an increase in recruitment of 587 in the West Midlands police force, it did not necessarily mean that there were 587 more burly, capable, police officers, because there were not.

Photo of Mr Jeff Rooker Mr Jeff Rooker , Birmingham, Perry Barr

Half of them were women. So what?

Photo of Mrs Jill Knight Mrs Jill Knight , Birmingham, Edgbaston

If the hon. Gentleman had been listening to me, he would have heard me say that it was absolutely misleading to talk of an increase in numbers, thereby suggesting that there was now no serious problem of undermanning in the West Midlands police force. During the period that we are considering, the crime rate doubled, so that the police have a much more difficult job than they used to have. They have to do that job with a seriously undermanned force.

Another reasonable point made by the hon. Member for Perry Barr was that, if a demonstration were to be organised, it was important to tell people that it was being organised. Otherwise, as he said, the organisers would not get support. If the organisers have to tell a lot of people that they intend to organise a demonstration, why should they object to telling the police?

Photo of Mrs Jill Knight Mrs Jill Knight , Birmingham, Edgbaston

The hon. Gentleman made the point that it was not necessary because the organisers have to tell everyone. If they do it now, why is the hon. Gentleman complaining about this clause?

Photo of Mr Jeff Rooker Mr Jeff Rooker , Birmingham, Perry Barr

The point has clearly been made that, in order to have an effective procession, people must be informed. Most people tell the police. The hon. Lady is missing the point that, with a spontaneous demonstration, where notice cannot be given, failure to notify, because it would be impracticable, is to be a criminal offence.

Photo of Mrs Jill Knight Mrs Jill Knight , Birmingham, Edgbaston

It is the hon. Gentleman who has missed the point. If there is this widespread dissemination of information, why is it wrong to ask that it should be given to the police?

Photo of Mr Robert Kilroy-Silk Mr Robert Kilroy-Silk , Ormskirk

Perhaps I may ask the hon. Lady a question. If there is such widespread dissemination of information, why is it necessary for the police to have criminal sanctions at their disposal?

Photo of Mrs Jill Knight Mrs Jill Knight , Birmingham, Edgbaston

If the hon. Gentleman will wait a little, I shall cover that point in my few remarks.

I find it extraordinary that the hon. Member for Perry Barr should have said that, for a demonstration to be successful, people have to know about it. If so, why should it be such a bad thing for the police to be informed officially?

The hon. Gentleman said "We are only trying to get for our constituents the freedom to demonstrate." He then quoted Lord Denning. If clause 39 forbade demonstrations, I should be against it. If it said "You will no longer have the right to demonstrate", I should agree with the hon. Gentleman that that would be a serious curtailment of liberty which the House could not possibly contemplate. But it does not do that. People will still have the right to demonstrate, and we should support that right.

Lord Justice Scarman, in his report, referring to the fact that most Western European States have the requirement of notice for which we are asking here, said: it is difficult, therefore, to argue that it represents an unacceptable encroachment upon liberty. I do not think it does. I agree that if it banned demonstrations absolutely it would be a totally different matter.

I support clause 39 for reasons of law and the need to protect citizens. I believe that citizens have the right to go about their business unfettered. They should not be hampered by demonstrations across a busy Birmingham street.

Photo of Mr Robert Kilroy-Silk Mr Robert Kilroy-Silk , Ormskirk

The hon. Lady is talking about police powers.

Photo of Mrs Jill Knight Mrs Jill Knight , Birmingham, Edgbaston

We cannot take one section of the populace and say that we defend their rights but that the rest do not matter. That is what those who oppose the clause are virtually saying. People who wish to demonstrate have the right to demonstrate. But I suggest that those who wish to walk the streets peacefully and quickly also have rights, and their rights have been very badly affected in recent years.

My hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham, Hall Green (Mr. Eyre) gave many instances. For example, there is a real need to protect shopkeepers. In Birmingham in recent years shopkeepers have had to bear serious deprivation because of unschooled, out-of-hand demonstrations. I think that most Birmingham Members have had letters about that very point.

Photo of Mr Julius Silverman Mr Julius Silverman , Birmingham, Erdington

The hon. Lady mentioned violent demonstrations and people crossing busy streets. What additional powers does the clause give to the police to deal with processions, violent or peaceful, passing through busy streets?

Photo of Mrs Jill Knight Mrs Jill Knight , Birmingham, Edgbaston

If the police are made aware of an intended demonstration, they can make arrangements for detours or they can ask that the demonstration takes place in another street, and so forth.

I support clause 39 because I trust the judgment of the police. If the police had not asked for this power, I should not want it. But, the police having asked for it, I believe that it is essential. I believe the police when they say that they will not be able to protect the public without three days' notice. If the police tell me that they need three days' notice to make arrangements to protect the public, I judge that they know what they are talking about. I do not believe they say that to be provocative. Nor are they saying that because they want to curb the unions and the National Front. The police want this for a good reason.

The period of seven days is constantly suggested. The police agreed that the matter could be dealt with within three days. I am talking about the three-day period. It is important for hon. Members to remember that the police must defend our people. Unless we give the police our backing in the task we give them, we should not be surprised if our constituents are angry at the way in which we do not seem to care any longer for their safety. If the police want this provision, they do so for a good reason.

A red herring has been drawn across this debate. I refer to the question of funerals. I have no doubt that funerals need not be covered by this point. No doubt an amendment could be made to cover that aspect. Any hon. Member is at liberty to move amendments to Bills. It is ridiculous to talk about a funeral in the same way as we talk about some of the violent demonstrations that we have seen in Birmingham in recent years.

The Bill should make a distinction. It is our job to ensure that it does so. Frequently points such as the funeral point have not been considered before a proper examination in the House. Hon. Members know that they must not prevaricate on this matter. They know that it is possible to exempt funerals from this provision.

Finally, I refer to Lord Justice Scarman. In his 1974 report, he did not recommend a change in the law. Since 1974 we have seen an escalation in violent crime figures and violent demonstrations which have racked Birmingham in recent years. If the rest of the country follows Birmingham's lead, so be it. Birmingham puts the protection of its citizens at the top of the list. If the Birmingham police ask for this provision, I shall support it.

9.33 p.m.

Photo of Mr Merlyn Rees Mr Merlyn Rees , Leeds South

The suggested amendments to clause 39 are an important aspect of the Bill. It is important that the provisions should be subject to careful scrutiny both now and later. Perhaps the House might find it helpful if I were to give my view on the general matter of making a requirement for advance notice of processions.

The hon. Member for Birmingham, Hall Green (Mr. Eyre) spelt out why this legislation was brought forward at the moment. I want to make this clear. When this matter was discussed before Christmas certain views were put forward. The contents of this Bill and others like it are the responsibility of the local authorities. The Government have neither asked nor in any way suggested to the authorities that provisions on the notice of processions should be included. That is entirely a matter for the local authority concerned.

As to the general law—so I am reminded, as this has been said before —the House will know that the Public Order Act 1936, which contains the relevant national law, imposes no requirement on the organisers of processions to give advance notice. In this country we have not found the need to impose a general requirement, although in recent years we have had to consider that on more than one occasion.

We have been reminded that the then Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis proposed to the Scarman inquiry that the law should be changed so as to include a requirement of seven days' clear notice of processions. A great deal of what Lord Scarman said has been quoted.

I should like to use one part of it again to aid my argument. Lord Scarman said at that time that our law assumes that people will be tolerant, self-disciplined, and willing to co-operate with the police. The assumption is still sound: that is why, with no legal requirement of notice, the police are in fact notified in at least 80 per cent. of the cases. We are talking here about a proportion of cases in which no notification is made. Lord Scarman went on to say: There are some who—law or no law—would never give notice; but they are on the very fringe of our society and should not, I suggest, force upon the law a largely un- necessary requirement, which at times can be an embarrassment to law-abiding citizens. Lord Scarman did not recommend a change in this law.

We considered in the Home Office, after the disturbances at Lewisham and Ladywood, that the Public Order Act 1936 should be reviewed. Admittedly, at Lewisham the lack of an advance notice requirement had in no way contributed to the disorder. It had, however, I am advised, made more difficult the policing of the election meeting at Ladywood, where impromptu marches were organised by the demonstrators.

The lack of such requirement also had a bearing, I am advised, on events in Manchester on 8 October 1977, when the National Front held a march through Levenshulme and Longsight. Our subsequent discussions with chief officers did not suggest that deficiencies in the national law were regarded by them as a major problem. The arguments were finely balanced, but it is the view of the Government that the views expressed by Lord Scarman have not been invalidated for the country as a whole by subsequent events. We see no reason currently to amend the Public Order Act 1936.

What, then, about a police authority acting through its local authority which wishes to do differently? In my view, it is most important to consider the arguments very thoroughly when they come from a large area, where the number of people is 2,700,000. The views of the police authority and the chief constable should be considered in great detail.

I have taken my view about the metropolis for which I am responsible and for the country as a whole, but I do not believe that there is a need for what is proposed here. It is my job, as an individual Member—because this is a Private Bill—to listen carefully to the arguments put forward. I am not much moved on this issue by what happens in Berwick-upon-Tweed. Judging by the once or twice that I have been to the town, I should not have thought that this problem arose there.

I know that the problem arises in Northern Ireland, and that therefore there is a public order measure in the Province. I know that in Northern Ireland the seven days' notice is extremely important. It is probably an important element also in Liverpool, with the Orange and Green tradition. Here we are considering the West Midlands and the arguments put forward in that context.

Much as I respect the views put forward tonight, in my view it is important that the matter be looked at in greater detail, and that it should not be decided by people coming in in an hour and 20 minutes' time. There is a great deal of room for discussion on this matter, and a number of issues arise. I acknowledge the point raised by my hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham, Perry Bar (Mr. Rooker) that similar powers have existed in some of the county boroughs since 1969. What I am not so sure about is whether, in the past 10 years or before, demonstrators ever had any problems with the existing legislation, and, if so, why.

I was interested in the legal analysis of the hon. and learned Member for Montgomery (Mr. Hooson) about what might happen under the proposed legislation. I am not the police authority for the West Midlands, although I have endeavoured to get some information. Has the advance notice provision ever stopped impromptu and other demonstrations in the West Midlands? We owe it to the promoters of the Bill to find out the facts, and they have not been put forward this evening.

Photo of Mr Robert Kilroy-Silk Mr Robert Kilroy-Silk , Ormskirk

Does my right hon. Friend equally accept that the promoters of the Bill have a duty to this House to show that the absence of such a provision in Birmingham has in some way inhibited them? That fact has not been made clear by any hon. Member who has spoken in support of the Bill.

Photo of Mr Merlyn Rees Mr Merlyn Rees , Leeds South

As someone who sometimes takes advice on proposed national legislation, I have not heard from either side of the House, except on matters of principle, sufficient and detailed argument about an important Bill that originates from the West Midlands area with the support of the police authority and the chief constable. It deserves more detailed investigation.

Photo of Mr Emlyn Hooson Mr Emlyn Hooson , Montgomery

I am interested in what the right hon. Gentleman says about the experience in the West Midlands. It may be that the provisions in seven of the Acts have been honoured more in breach than in observance by the local authority. Judges always say that Parliament should look to the words used in the Act rather than the intention, because the two are often completely at variance. I believe that that is the position with the clause as drafted.

Photo of Mr Merlyn Rees Mr Merlyn Rees , Leeds South

That may well be, but I believe that we need more information about the matter. I would not bring such a Bill forward in the metropolis area. That is not the advice that I receive. It is not something that I would wish to do, anyway, nor is it for the general legislation of the country. But for an area of nearly 3 million people it is important that greater analysis of the argument should be made. This situation does not occur in London and I shall not bring forward such legislation for the metropolitan area.

With regard to the point made by the hon. and learned Member for Montgomery, I should like to know more about what happens in relation to spontaneous demonstrations. Who makes the judgment? Is it a question of good sense, as the hon. and learned Gentleman said? As I understand it, the chief constable or the prosecutor has exercised a sensible judgment, and that good sense seems to have prevailed in the past. It is important to know whether such a provision has ever inhibited a spontaneous demonstration.

I know that my hon. Friend the Member for Bethnal Green and Bow (Mr. Mikardo) is aware of the problem with regard to the metropolis area because he and some of his colleagues discussed with me, some 18 months ago, changes in the Public Order Act. I had talks with the Metropolitan Police Commissioner and his staff and there are problems in making a decision on marches. It is important that the routes of demonstrations should be known in order to be able to direct traffic on a Saturday afternoon. It is important that if a march goes through an immigrant area the route should be known in advance, whether the march is organised by the National Front or the SWP.

The routes are not known of 10 per cent. or 20 per cent. of marches and I should not like to be responsible for the fact that a march went through an immigrant area in Birmingham and led to trouble. However, I am not aware of the figure in the West Midlands area and therefore I cannot make up my mind on that. Is it 80 per cent.? Is it 85 per cent? I should like to have more details, and I have not heard them in today's debate.

I say to the hon. Member for Birmingham, Edgbaston (Mrs. Jill Knight) that there is no point in making the argument that because one is against a Bill one is against the police, or if one is for a Bill one is for the police. That kind of argument shows the House at its worst.

I am told that at Ladywood 97 police officers were injured and that extensive damage was caused. One must take such circumstances into account if one has any responsibility for policemen. The same is true if one serves in the Ministry of Defence or in Northern Ireland and puts a soldier in a position in which one will not be oneself. In such circumstances it is important to realise the responsibility of what one is doing.

Photo of Mr Emlyn Hooson Mr Emlyn Hooson , Montgomery

I am worried about the trend of this argument. The right hon. Gentleman is arguing that this depends on experience. Surely that must be wrong, because a person who conducts or organises a procession must know whether he is committing an offence. If he or she does not know, and it is left to the whim or judgment of a chief constable or a local authority, the law cannot be right because the law aims at certainty as far as possible. What the right hon. Gentleman is now arguing is that this must be left to the judgment of the local officers, and that cannot be right.

Photo of Mr Merlyn Rees Mr Merlyn Rees , Leeds South

It may be absolutely true that it cannot be right in the legalistic sense of the term, but we must consider the problem of injury to people or damage to property. Such a situation may not happen in Montgomeryshire or in the rural areas, but it does happen in certain parts of our inner cities. We must also take into account the problem of coloured people, the problem of the National Front, and so on.

Much as I do not want such a provision in London—and no argument has been put to me that we should have it in London—the immediate question I ask myself is why it is needed in the West Midlands. I want to know the facts of the matter, because undoubtedly problems have arisen there as a result of spontaneous marches. But our duty to the West Midlands area, and to the police authority there, is to look into this matter in greater detail.

The hon. Member for Hall Green talked about the organiser of a procession. I believe that he was wrong. With respect, I believe that his argument related to conducting as well as to organising a procession. But it is an important point.

The hon. Gentleman put forward the Bill on behalf of the West Midlands. Let us look at it in greater detail to see what lies behind it. For example, the question of funerals was a new one on me. I made some inquiries this afternoon, and no one told me that in the whole of the West Midlands area there had ever been a problem with funerals. I recall that when James McDade, who I understand was an IRA man, was killed, the funeral was banned nationally by my predecessor. But I cannot find any examples of funerals having been stopped in the past.

It may well be that as a result of the way in which the Bill is drafted funerals can be stopped. If it is drafted in that way, it must be drafted differently because I know of no examples when that has happened.

Photo of Mr Reginald Eyre Mr Reginald Eyre , Birmingham, Hall Green

May I explain to the right hon. Gentleman that the funeral of James McDade led to a difficult situation in the West Midlands? On that basis, the promoters wrongly included the funeral directors in the proposals. They have instructed me to say that they will exempt private funerals. I hope that that will deal with that difficulty.

Photo of Mr Merlyn Rees Mr Merlyn Rees , Leeds South

That illustrates the point. I believe that this clause in particular needs far greater investigation than we have been able to give it tonight. Speaking for myself, I would prefer this matter to be looked at in greater detail on the Floor of the House at a later stage. Nationally there is no question of our doing this. In the metropolis for which I am responsible there is no question of its being done. In the case of the West Midlands, I would want to hear longer argument on it before any decision was taken.

9.50 p.m.

Photo of Andrew MacKay Andrew MacKay , Birmingham Stechford

I rise to oppose this motion for an Instruction. It is important that clause 39 remains part of the Bill. I should like to explain in broad principle why we consider clause 39 to be so important. It is in the interests of the overwhelming majority of the citizens who live in the West Midlands metropolitan county district, first, that their lives are not unreasonably disrupted. Secondly, it is important that their property is not unreasonably damaged when there is a march or procession. Thirdly, local traders and shopkeepers whenever possible should have an opportunity to operate their businesses on a Saturday afternoon or any other time that a march is taking place.

If the police are given prior notice, preferably of two or three days, there will be a good chance that the rights of the great majority of citizens will be upheld. The police will be present in the appropriate strength to make sure that the procession or march does not become unruly or cause damage to property or gross inconvenience to those living in the West Midlands metropolitan area, and certainly allows traders to carry on their business, which is vitally important to them.

I followed closely the speech of the hon. Member for Birmingham, Perry Barr (Mr. Rooker). I am not sure whether he is totally opposed to the reasoning behind clause 39 or whether he objects to the seven days that was mentioned when the Bill was orginally opposed and now the three days that has been correctly mentioned tonight by my hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham, Hall Green (Mr. Eyre). The hon. Member for Perry Barr rightly pointed out that many other borough councils which make up the metropolitan county council already have a similar clause, some for 24 hours and others for 48 hours. Is his principal objection that it is 72 hours and he feels that it should be 24 or 48? Alternatively, is he against the whole principle? it was not clear from his speech.

Photo of Mr Jeff Rooker Mr Jeff Rooker , Birmingham, Perry Barr

I made it absolutely clear. The Bill should perform the function intended under the Local Government Act 1972 and achieve uniformity in the county area. I probably would not have raised any objection in principle if Birmingham had had the same imposition as Walsall, Wolverhampton and Dudley. I said that more than once, but that is not the argument. The promoters of the Bill have been grossly dishonest in their drafting. That is why we object tonight.

Photo of Andrew MacKay Andrew MacKay , Birmingham Stechford

That is interesting, because this is principally a consolidation measure. As the hon. Member for Perry Barr said earlier, at present Birmingham and Solihull have no such provision. The remaining districts in the West Midlands metropolitan county area have a provision of 24 or 48 hours. Are we right in assuming that the hon. Member for Perry Barr and his hon. Friends opposite would be happy in principle with the Bill, including clause 39, if it was 48 hours as opposed to the 72 hours mentioned by my hon. Friend the Member for Hall Green?

It is interesting to note that during the last 50 years on more than 100 occasions a similar clause has been in a Private Bill that has passed through this House. As recently as 1969, several Black Country boroughs within what is now the West Midlands metropolitan council included this measure and it was not objected to at all by any hon. Member, including the hon. and learned Member for Montgomery (Mr. Hooson).

I ask hon. Members representing West Midland seats how many objections they have had in Walsall, Sandwell, Wolverhampton and Coventry to the clauses that are already in operation in their various districts. I think that there have been very few objections. The only objections that I have received have been from Sir David Perris and others involved specifically in the Birmingham trades council or Birmingham trade unions. This is the first time they have come into contact with such a clause. I have had no objections from any trade union groups representing the other boroughs which constitute the West Midland county.

Photo of Mr Jeff Rooker Mr Jeff Rooker , Birmingham, Perry Barr

That is not exactly so, because the National Union of Mineworkers, which is not exactly strong in Birmingham, has lodged objections to the Bill. The reason why there has been no problem about spontaneous demonstrations in those areas already covered by an enactment is that the police have chosen to use their discretion and turn a blind eye. I object to the use of that discretion, because it means that they will choose to prosecute one person and not another. If people are to be covered by the law, all should be treated equally. Clearly that has not happened. People organising spontaneous demonstrations in Walsall and Wolverhampton have not been prosecuted, whereas they should have been had the law been enforced.

Photo of Andrew MacKay Andrew MacKay , Birmingham Stechford

I am not sure how one organises a spontaneous demonstration.

The whole point behind the remarks made now and earlier by the hon. Member for Perry Barr was that when Sir David Perris organised his many marches in his 13 years with the Birmingham trades council he always informed the police. Under the Bill, Sir David will have no problems in organising as many more marches as he wants to. It is not Sir David or others like him whom we wish to restrict or control in any way. The trades council is a perfectly reasonable organisation, and any other such organisation which wishes to march or hold May Day rallies will be able to do so if it gives two or three days' notice. There is no question of this being in any way a trade union-bashing measure, and it will not restrict officially organised trade union demonstrations and processions.

The other sort of trade union demonstration was mentioned by the hon. Member for Bethnal Green and Bow (Mr. Mikardo). This is the one in which a man is dismissed suddenly from a branch, and the workers decide to march up the road to the head office to object strongly to the dismissal which they consider unreasonable. I suggest that that is a spontaneous demonstration. It is quite clear that spontaneous demonstrations which have not been formally organised do not come under the provisions of the Bill. Therefore, I suggest to the hon. Member that there is no possibility that his constituents, so marching, would be affected.

Photo of Ms Audrey Wise Ms Audrey Wise , Coventry South West

The hon. Gentleman may not have noticed that the clause speaks of "conduct" as well as "organise". Can he define the word "conduct" in this context?

It being Ten o'clock, the debate stood adjourned.

Ordered, That, at this day's sitting, the motion in the name of Mr. Emlyn Hooson and the second motion in the name of Mr. J. W. Rooker relating to the West Midlands County Council Bill [Lords] may be proceeded with, though opposed, until eleven o'clock or for one hour after the first motion has been entered upon, whichever is the later.—[Mr.Walter Harrison.]

Question again proposed.

Photo of Ms Audrey Wise Ms Audrey Wise , Coventry South West

For example, if there is a spontaneous demonstration and someone walks at its head, is he conducting it? Alternatively, if he attempts to marshal or steward such a spontaneous demonstration, is he conducting it?

Photo of Andrew MacKay Andrew MacKay , Birmingham Stechford

The answer is quite simple, if one looks at the definition of "spontaneity". If a march is spontaneous, it does not come under this Bill and it is quite wrong for hon. Members opposite to suggest that it does and to put fear into the minds of trade unionists or, as was also mentioned by the hon. Members for Perry Barr and for Bethnal Green and Bow, to refer to the example of mothers taking action where a child has been run over at a pedestrian crossing. They may have been campaigning for a long time for their local council to provide a better crossing at the junction but nothing has happened, the council has done nothing. The Member of Parliament has done nothing. Then suddenly a child is run over and killed and there is a terrific emotion. Most Members will recall what has perhaps happened in their own constituency or locality where such things happen.

Those mothers, quite rightly for the moment, will take the law into their own hands. They will demonstrate or march. Perhaps they will sit in the middle of the road and then march to the local police station or the town hall. We could not condone that, for it is breaking the law, but I believe we could sympathise with it. This is another example of spontaneity, and those mothers would in no way come under this Act.

To suggest, as several hon. Members have, that mothers demonstrating in this way could place themselves in a position where they could be prosecuted under this Bill is, with the greatest respect, misrepresentation.

Photo of Alan Beith Alan Beith Opposition Whip (Commons)

With great respect to the hon. Gentleman, I am sure that he is quite sincere in his wish that demonstrations of this kind should be excluded under the Bill, but there is no way in which one can read this clause and find in it any suggestion that spontaneity is to be an exception or that anybody involved in organising the demonstration would not be open to the full rigours of the law.

Photo of Andrew MacKay Andrew MacKay , Birmingham Stechford

Any person who is to be prosecuted has to come before the courts. Clearly, the courts will define what "spontaneity" is. I have given two examples, that of union members deciding on the spur of the moment, because of a sudden act by their firm, to march on the head office, and that of mothers. Neither is to be included in this Act because their act is spontaneous.

I will now refer to another example given by the hon. Member for Birmingham, Ladywood (Mr. Sever), who raised a very important point: what happens if an organisation agrees to march and gives the necessary number of days' notice? Let us say for the sake of argument it is a highly respectable group such as the Stechford Conservative association. It decides to move down Washford Heath Road in my constituency, and unknown to it the Socialist Workers Party decides to infiltrate the march and causes considerable trouble and smashes windows in that road and does damage to people's property and cars—which could happen. The hon. Member for Ladywood asks whether the organiser of that march, perhaps my constituency agent or chairman, is liable. Clearly, the answer is that in a court of law, the prosecution, principally the chief constable, has to prove—and one can only prosecute the organiser—that those who committed offences were actually part of the organisation which was marching. I could easily prove to the hon. Member for Ladywood that those concerned were not supporters of the Stechford Conservative association and were not members of some fringe or other group. I am absolutely satisfied that no respectable march can be taken over by militants and extremists which then will lead to the organiser of the march being prosecuted.

Photo of Mr John Sever Mr John Sever , Birmingham, Ladywood

I asked the hon. Member for Birmingham, Hall Green (Mr. Eyre) whether he would concede that anyone turning up to oppose an approved march or demonstration would necessarily come under the provisions of the Bill. I do not think that there is any proposal that adds extra provisions in regard to public order for the groups who come to protest. We would still have the sort of trouble to which the hon. Member for Birmingham, Stechford (Mr. MacKay) referred. Has the hon. Gentleman any experience of the notice given for a demonstration curtailing those who wish to oppose such a demonstration?

Photo of Andrew MacKay Andrew MacKay , Birmingham Stechford

The hon. Gentleman's last comment has been adequately covered by some of his hon. Friends. In the great majority of cases, those who oppose a march or demonstration will know about it long before the three days' notice is given. If they wish to counter-march, they may apply for permission and the organisers of the counter-march will be responsible for the counter-marchers, just as those who organise the original march will be responsible for their supporters.

The hon. Member for Coventry, South-East (Mr. Wilson) spoke about football crowds. Football matches are a very good example of the police being notified in advance and restricting the problems that can occur for the local population. Every first-class football club employs, through the local constabulary, a large number of police officers at its matches. The clubs obviously notify the chief constable well in advance. He is given a fixture list at the beginning of the season and any alterations are notified well in advance. The claim of the hon. Member for Coventry, South-East that there is something out of the ordinary in football supporters is fallacious.

However, there is an important aspect related to football matches. Many demonstrations, particularly political or industrial demonstrations, take place on Saturday afternoons. From mid-August until nearly May, there are regular football matches on Saturday afternoons and they require many police to be in attendance. It is very difficult for the local chief constable to deploy extra police officers at short notice to look after demonstrations. Three days' notice would give him time to acquire police from neighbouring areas to handle the football crowds and the demonstration.

It may be that the West Yorkshire county council decided to withdraw the clause because it has only one first division football club in its area. At the moment, though not, I fear, for long, we have five first division clubs in the West Midlands metropolitan area.

It has been suggested that the police know of marches anyway and have manned all the demonstrations that we have talked about and that we do not therefore need the proposed regulations. We are lucky if the police have known about every demonstration to date. We should congratulate them on their intelligence.

I confirm that the great majority of demonstrations are law-abiding, respectable and reasonable, but there will be demonstrations where the demonstrators' sole aim is to cause trouble and damage to the local population. The hon. Member for Perry Barr suggested that every group of demonstrators will always want publicity and will always let the press know and that, therefore, the police will also know. I can think of certain groups, particularly on the political extreme—groups such as the National Front and other extreme racist organisations—which are not particularly interested in publicity in newspapers but are interested in going into an area of racial conflict and causing the maximum amount of trouble. They would not necessarily let the press know. They would not be letting the police know that they are out to have a punch-up and cause a great deal of trouble to the immigrant community and to the law-abiding white community.

Such people would come directly under the Bill. The hon. Member for Perry Barr says that they would not register anyway. I suggest that with a fine of a maximum of £200 they would be likely to register. We would be doing a service to the great majority of people in the West Midlands and doing no harm to any genuine group that wished to march or demonstrate. If I thought that we were, I, too, would be opposing the clause.

When the clause first came to my notice, I told the sponsors that there was no way in which I could support it with a seven-day provision, because that was totally unreasonable and I believed that it would be contrary to the interests of many innocent, law-abiding groups in the West Midlands.

Bearing that in mind, I hope that the hon. Members who wish to amend the clause dramatically or have it withdrawn will think again. I believe that it is a reasonable clause, particularly as the period has been reduced to three days. It would require only a small reduction to two days to bring it totally into line with the provisions of many of the borough councils within the West Midlands group.

10.11 p.m.

Photo of Mr George Park Mr George Park , Coventry North East

It is poetic justice that, owing to the swings of local political fortune in the West Midlands, the hon. Member for Birmingham, Hall Green (Mr. Eyre) had the job of sponsoring the Bill tonight. I cannot help contrasting his reception with the one accorded to me when I introduced a similar Bill.

It must be evident from the actions and comments of my hon. Friends that they intended all the way through not to do as the Opposition did last time, throwing the baby out with the bath water. They understood that the Bill contained valuable provisions which were essential for local government to continue in the West Midlands. On that basis, their comments have tended throughout the debate to be constructive and directed to trying to strengthen those parts of the Bill they felt to be weak. They felt that some provisions should be deleted.

But this is a cumbersome, clumsy way of trying to secure legislation which affects large tracts of our country. To have a whole series of metropolitan county council Bills, many of them with common clauses, and to have them debated interminably in the House is surely not the best way of using our time. I know that the Government tried to help with the Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1976. It helped a bit, but it did not go far enough.

If we look at this Bill and the others to follow, we shall find many examples of needs which are national in character and not strictly confined to one neighbourhood. The clause that has attracted the most attention tonight, clause 39, is one such.

I cannot agree with my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary, who spoke on behalf of the Government, that what was all right for London was not all right for Birmingham. I can see no basic difference between the make-up of a large city such as Birmingham and that of London.

Photo of Mr Chris Price Mr Chris Price , Lewisham West

My hon. Friend should try representing both.

Photo of Mr George Park Mr George Park , Coventry North East

I would not mind representing both. London Members apparently think that they are the only ones who represent polyglot communities. They should come to Coventry some time and have a go in my constituency. I reckon that it is a bit like the League of Nations. I doubt whether hon. Members could name a nationality that is not to be found in my constituency and that of my hon. Friend the Member for Coventry, South-West (Mrs. Wise).

Photo of Mr George Park Mr George Park , Coventry North East

There have been some comments about the rights of free-born Englishmen. Maybe I am not the right person to talk about that matter, being a Scotsman.

I think that the county council has taken cognisance of the fact that those rights apply to all the people and not to just some of the people. It has introduced in clause 39 what it considers to be a method of allowing those people who do not happen to be involved in demonstrations to conduct their lives in the way they want. It is clear from the short examination that we have given to clause 39 that it demands further considerable examination and amendment. If it cannot be amended properly so that the law can apply equally to everyone, it would be better if this part of the Bill were deleted altogether rather than have a weak law or one that was open to misinterpretation.

I support my hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham, Perry Barr (Mr. Rooker) in his proposal that clause 39 be taken on the Floor of the House.

Photo of Mr Stanley Thorne Mr Stanley Thorne , Preston South

I beg to move, That the Question be now put.

Photo of Mr George Thomas Mr George Thomas , Cardiff West

The hon. Gentleman must move that a little later. I am prepared to consider it later, but not at this moment.

10.16 p.m.

Photo of Mr Norman Fowler Mr Norman Fowler , Sutton Coldfield

The most significant speech we have heard was that by the Home Secretary. It was different in tone and in approach from many of the comments made by his hon. Friends. The approach suggested by the Home Secretary was sensible. May I summarise some of his arguments? First, he said that notice was not given at Ladywood, which made the job of the police more difficult. Indeed, 97 policemen were injured. Secondly, although he does not intend to deal with the problem nationally, which he rightly pointed out was proposed by Scarman, he did not have objections to its being dealt with in important local areas—such as the West Midlands, with almost 3 million people. He also distinguished between areas where the problem exists and areas where it does not exist. He seems to have neatly demolished the case of the hon. and learned Member for Montgomery (Mr. Hooson). It is the exact opposite of what the hon. and learned Gentleman, representing the Liberal Party, was saying. We agree with the Home Secretary that local discretion is an important and sensible step to take.

Photo of Mr John Sever Mr John Sever , Birmingham, Ladywood

The hon. Member for Sutton Coldfield (Mr. Fowler) has referred to the National Front meeting during the Ladywood by-election. One of the matters that concerned local people at that time was that the local authority, having control over the school in which the meeting was called, would have known some considerable time in advance because it had the booking for that school and would have been able to notify the police. If that was not done, surely that was the fault of the local authority, which should have recognised that there might be problems and notified the police.

Photo of Mr Norman Fowler Mr Norman Fowler , Sutton Coldfield

I take the point. I was summarising what the Home Secretary had said. The hon. Gentleman probably has a point worthy of consideration.

The Home Secretary asked whether the existing requirements which apply in parts of the West Midlands had deterred demonstrations. The answer appears to be that they have not. I agree with the Home Secretary. He is saying something with which the whole House can agree, namely, that some areas require further consideration. That can be done following the assurance of my hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham, Hall Green (Mr. Eyre) that this matter will be dealt with in Committee on the Floor of the House.

The question of demonstrations is undeniably difficult. It has caused prob- lems not only in this country but throughout the democratic world. It has caused problems in every country of Western Europe and in the United States. It is at least proper for this House to approach the question with certain humility. There is a balance between the right of the demonstrator to demonstrate and the right of the public to have their rights protected. We are discussing that balance tonight. We deceive ourselves if we believe that the citizen has no right in this matter. The citizen has the right to go about his business and to use roads and pavements with as little interruption as possible. More important, citizens have the right to go about their business in peace.

We are talking about the right of peaceful demonstration in an important area of the country. We are not discussing the possibility of banning demonstrations. That would be wrong in principle and in practice. The police would not support that; politicians would not support it. In the 1968 Paris riots the Government sought to ban a demonstration. The police role has changed. Instead of controlling the demonstration, they sought to prevent it from taking place. If only a few people challenge such a ban, a confrontation is inevitable.

In London in 1968 and since we have placed our faith in seeking to control demonstrations peacefully. In this country we recognise the right to demonstrate but we seek to control it peacefully. In modern circumstances, how can that policy best be followed? I suggest that a period of notice is necessary in the West Midlands and Birmingham.

That period of control is necessary for two reasons. First, demonstrations are more common and, at times, more violent than they were 10 or 20 years ago. More important, they are more common than they were four or five years ago. My hon. Friend the Member for Hall Green talked about demonstrations in 1975–76 and after that. He did not go back beyond that period.

Other circumstances have also changed. My hon. Friend the Member for Hall Green was right to say that events such as football matches place enormous pressures on police resources at weekends. Crime has increased in the West Midlands, as it has elsewhere. There has also been a disturbing increase in the number of assaults on the police. Last year there was an 18·5 per cent. increase in such assaults compared with the previous year. The police are under unprecedented pressure. Nowhere is that more evident than in the West Midlands.

The police are undermanned. That is so in the major cities of Western Europe. The police forces of Munich, Amsterdam, Paris and Birmingham are undermanned. The resources that are available to the police are now insufficient to allow them to make arrangements within hours to deal with a demonstration. It is unrealistic to imagine that men can be deployed in a short time, with all the changes that that involves.

All that we request is that some notice of a demonstration is given. There must be a period of notice which allows a chief constable to take precautions to protect the public safety and to organise his force so that the chance of violence is minimised. That is neither repressive nor revolutionary. It is a condition which attaches to demonstrations in other countries in Western Europe. That system works in Holland, where civil liberties are as important as they are here. It works in West Germany, France and in other countries. It works effectively in other parts of Europe, and perhaps for once we should consider that experience.

When the question of notice was raised initially, my first question was the same as that of my hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham, Stechford (Mr. MacKay). It did not go to the principle of the notice but was concerned with whether seven days was too long. As a result of approaches, and as a result of the chief constable's own decision, the period was reduced to three days. That seems a reasonable limit.

The Scarman report has been quoted extensively, but events have changed considerably since 1974. For example, Scarman was dealing with a situation and circumstance which had arisen before riot shields had become so apparent in the handling of demonstrations. Would Scarman have made the same recommendation had he been considering some of the problems that have arisen since? I wonder whether other respected judges, if not Scarman, would have come to a different conclusion.

Photo of Mr Norman Fowler Mr Norman Fowler , Sutton Coldfield

No, I shall not give way. The hon. Gentleman has not been in the Chamber during the debate. I am coming to the end of my speech.

The proposal that notice should be given to the police was made by one of the most distinguished policemen that the country has had, the then Commissioner.

The Home Secretary made a constructive, fair and sensible speech. He said that we should take note of a local decision, of what the local people want, of how they feel, of how chief constables feel and the feelings of local authorities. I do not see how we can disagree with that.

It is clear that the local authority and the chief constable want clause 39 to be in the Bill. It does not restrict or limit any freedoms. It is a sensible and rational measure. My hon. Friend the Member for Hall Green has given the assurance that the proposal may be debated on the Floor of the House. That seems a rational and reasonable offer.

I very much hope that the proposal will have the support of the House.

Photo of Alan Beith Alan Beith Opposition Whip (Commons)

Mr. Beithrose in his place and claimed to move, That the Question he now put.

Question, That the Question be now put, put and agreed to.

Photo of Mr George Thomas Mr George Thomas , Cardiff West

The Question is, That it be an Instruction to the Committee on the Bill to leave out clause 39. As many as are of that opinion say "Aye".

Hon. Members:

Aye.

Photo of Mr George Thomas Mr George Thomas , Cardiff West

To the contrary "No".

Hon. Members:

No.

Photo of Mr George Thomas Mr George Thomas , Cardiff West

I think the Ayes have it.

Hon. Members:

No.

Photo of Mr George Thomas Mr George Thomas , Cardiff West

It is not the hon. Gentleman who has to hear hon. Members shout "No". I have to hear them shout "No", and some hon. Members shouted "No".

The House divided: Ayes 119, Noes 95.

Division No. 70]AYES[7.0 p.m.
Adley, RobertDurant, TonyHowell, David (Guildford)
Aitken, JonathanDykes, HughHowell, Ralph (North Norfolk)
Alison, MichaelEden, Rt Hon Sir JohnHowells, Geraint (Cardigan).
Amery, Rt Hon JulianEdwards, Nicholas (Pembroke)Hunt, David (Wirral)
Arnold, TomElliott, Sir WilliamHunt, John (Ravensbourne)
Atkins, Rt Hon H. (Spelthorne)Emery, PeterHurd, Douglas
Atkinson, David (B'mouth, East)Eyre, ReginaldHutchison, Michael Clark
Awdry, DanielFairbairn, NicholasIrving, Charles (Cheltenham)
Baker, KennethFairgrieve, RussellJames, David
Banks, RobertFarr, JohnJenkin, Rt Hon P. (Wanst'd&W'df'd)
Beith, A. J.Fell, AnthonyJessel, Toby
Bell, RonaldFisher, Sir NigelJohnson Smith, G. (E Grinstead)
Bendall, VivianFletcher, Alex (Edinburgh N)Jones, Arthur (Daventry)
Bennett, Dr Reginald (Fareham)Fletcher-Cooke, CharlesJopling, Michael
Benyon, W.Fookes, Miss JanetJoseph, Rt Hon Sir Keith
Berry, Hon AnthonyForman, NigelKaberry, Sir Donald
Biffen, JohnFowler, Norman (Sutton C'f'd)Kellett-Bowman, Mrs Elaine
Biggs-Davison, JohnFox, MarcusKilfedder, James
Blaker, PeterFraser, Rt Hon H. (Stafford & St)Kimball, Marcus
Body, RichardFreud, ClementKing, Evelyn (South Dorset)
Boscawen, Hon RobertFry, PeterKing, Tom (Bridgwater)
Bowden, A. (Brighton, Kemptown)Galbraith, Hon T. G. D.Kitson, Sir Timothy
Boyson, Dr Rhodes (Brent)Gardiner, George (Reigate)Knight, Mrs Jill
Braine, Sir BernardGardner, Edward (S Fylde)Knox, David
Brittan, LeonGilmour, Rt Hon Sir Ian (Chesham)Lamont, Norman
Brooke, Hon PeterGilmour, Sir John (East Fife)Langford-Holt, Sir John
Brotherton, MichaelGlyn, Dr AlanLatham, Michael (Melton)
Brown, Sir Edward (Bath)Godber, Rt Hon JosephLawrence, Ivan
Bryan, Sir PaulGoodhart, PhilipLawson, Nigel
Buchanan-Smith, AlickGoodhew, VictorLester, Jim (Beeston)
Buck, AntonyGoodlad, AlastairLewis, Kenneth (Rutland)
Budges, NickGorst, JohnLloyd, Ian
Bulmer, EsmondGow, Ian (Eastbourne)Loveridge, John
Burden, F. A.Gower, Sir Raymond (Barry)Luce, Richard
Butler, Adam (Bosworth)Grant, Anthony (Harrow C)McAdden, Sir Stephen
Carlisle, MarkGrey, HamishMcCrindle, Robert
Chalker, Mrs LyndaGrieve, PercyMacfarlane, Neil
Channon, PaulGriffiths, EldonMacGregor, John
Churchill, W. S.Grist, IanMacKay, Andrew (Stechford)
Clark, Alan (Plymouth, Sutton)Grylls, MichaelMacmillan, Rt Hon M. (Farnham)
Clark, William (Croydon S)Hall-Davis, A. G. F.McNair-Wilson, M. (Newbury)
Clarke, Kenneth (Rushcliffe)Hamilton, Archibald (Epsom & Ewell)McNair-Wilson, P. (New Forest)
Clegg, WalterHamilton, Michael (Salisbury)Madel, David
Cockcroft, JohnHampson, Dr KeithMarshall, Michael (Arundel)
Cooke, Robert (Bristol W)Hannam, JohnMarten, Neil
Cope, JohnHarvie Anderson, Rt Hon MissMates, Michael
Cormack, PatrickHaselhurst, AlanMather, Carol
Costain, A. P.Hastings, StephenMaude, Angus
Critchley, JulianHavers, Rt Hon Sir MichaelMawby, Ray
Crouch, DavidHayhoe, BarneyMaxwell-Hyslop, Robin
Crowder, F. P.Heseltine, MichaelMayhew, Patrick
Dodsworth, GeoffreyHicks, RobertMeyer, Sir Anthony
Douglas-Hamilton, Lord JamesHodgson, RobinMiller, Hal (Bromsgrove)
Drayson, BurnabyHolland, PhilipMills, Peter
du Cann, Rt Hon EdwardHooson, EmlynMiscampbell, Norman
Dunlop, JohnHowe, Rt Hon Sir GeoffreyMitchell, David (Basingstoke)
Moate, RogerRhys Williams, Sir BrandonStewart, Ian (Hitchin)
Monro, HectorRidley, Hon NicholasStokes, John
Montgomery, FergusRidsdale, JulianStradling Thomas, J.
Moore, John (Croydon C)Rifkind, MalcolmTapsell, Peter
More, Jasper (Ludlow)Roberts, Wyn (Conway)Taylor, R. (Croydon NW)
Morgan, GeraintRodgers, Sir John (Sevenoaks)Taylor, Teddy (Cathcart)
Morgan-Giles, Rear-AdmiralRoss, Stephen (Isle of Wight)Tebbit, Norman
Morris, Michael (Northampton S)Rossi, Hugh (Hornsey)Temple-Morris, Peter
Morrison, Hon Charles (Devizes)Rost, Peter (SE Derbyshire)Thatcher, Rt Hon Margaret
Morrison, Hon Peter (Chester)Royle, Sir AnthonyThomas, Rt Hon P. (Hendon S)
Mudd, DavidSainsbury, Tim Townsend, Cyril D.
Nelson, Anthony St. John-Stevas, NormanTrotter, Neville
Neubert, MichaelScott, Nicholas van Straubenzee. W. R.
Newton, TonyShaw, Giles (Pudsey)Vaughan, Dr Gerard
Normanton, TomShaw, Michael (Scarborough)Viggers, Peter
Nott, JohnShelton, William (Streatham)Wainwright, Richard (Colne V)
Onslow, CranleyShepherd, ColinWakeham, John
Page, John (Harrow West)Shersby, MichaelWalker, Rt Hon P. (Worcester)
Page, Rt Hon R. Graham (Crosby)Silvester, FredWalker-Smith, Rt Finn Sit Derek
Page, Richard (Workington)Sims, RogerWall, Patrick
Pardoe, JohnSinclair, Sir GeorgeWalters, Dennis
Parkinson, CecilSkeet, T. H. H.Warren, Kenneth
Pattie, GeoffreySmith, Cyril (Rochdale)Weatherill, Bernard
Penhaligon, DavidSmith, Dudley (Warwick)Wells, John
Percival, IanSmith, Timothy John (Ashfield)Whitelaw, Rt Hon William
Peyton, Rt Hon JohnSpeed, KeithWhitney, Raymond
Pink, R. BonnerSpence, JohnWiggin, Jerry
Prentice, Rt Hon RegSpicer, Jim (W Dorset)Winterton, Nicholas
Price, David (Eastleigh)Spicer, Michael (S Worcester)Wood, Rt Hon Richard
Pym, Rt Hon FrancisSproat, IainYoung, Sir G. (Ealing, Acton)
Raison, TimothyStainton, KeithYounger, Hon George
Rathbone, TimStanbrook, Ivor
Rees, Peter (Dover & Deal)Stanley, JohnTELLERS FOR THE AYES:
Rees-Davies, W. R.Steel, Rt Hon DavidMr. Spencer Le Merchant and
Renton, Tim (Mid-Sussex)Steen, Anthony (Wavertree) Mr. Michael Roberts.
Rhodes James, R.
NOES
Abse, LeoCowans, HarryFreeson, Rt Hon Reginald
Anderson, DonaldCox, Thomas (Tooting)Garrett, John (Norwich S)
Archer, Rt Hon PeterCraigen, Jim (Maryhill)Garrett, W. E. (Wallsend)
Armstrong, ErnestCrawshaw, RichardGeorge, Bruce
Ashley, JackCronin, JohnGilbert, Rt Hon Dr John
Ashton, JoeCrowther, Stan (Rotherham)Ginsburg, David
Atkins, Ronald (Preston N)Cryer, BobGolding, John
Atkinson, Norman (H'gey, Tott'ham)Cunningham, G. (Islington S)Gould, Bryan
Bagier, Gordon A. T.Cunningham, Dr J. (Whlteh)Gourley, Harry
Barnett, Guy (Greenwich)Davidson, ArthurGraham, Ted
Bates, Alf Davies, Bryan (Enfield N)Grant, George (Morpeth)
Bean, R. E.Davies, Rt Hon DenzilGrant, John (Islington C)
Benn, Rt Hon Anthony WedgwoodDavies, nor (Gower)Grocott, Bruce
Bennett, Andrew (Stockport N)Davis, Clinton (Hackney C)Hamilton, W. W. (Central Fife)
Bidwell, SydneyDeakins, EricHardy, Peter
Bishop, Rt Hon EdwardDean, Joseph (Leeds West)Harrison, Rt Hon Walter
Blenkinsop, ArthurDell, Rt Hon EdmundHart, Rt Hon Judith
Boardman, H.Dempsey, JamesHattersley, Rt Hon Roy
Booth, Rt Hon AlbertDewar, DonaldHayman, Mrs Helene
Boothroyd, Miss BettyDoig, PeterHealey, Rt Hon Denis
Bottomley, Rt Hon ArthurDormand, J. D.Heffer, Eric S.
Bradley, TomDouglas-Hamilton, Lord JamesHome Robertson, John
Bray, Dr JeremyDuffy, A. E. P.Horam, John
Brown, Hugh D. (Proven)Dunn, James A.Howell, Rt Hon Denis (B'ham, Sm H)
Brown, Robert C. (Newcastle W)Dunnett, JackHoyle, Doug (Nelson)
Brown, Ronald (Hackney S)Dunwoody, Mrs GwynethHuckfield, Les
Buchan, NormanEadie, AlexHughes, Rt Hon C. (Anglesey)
Buchanan, RichardEdge, GeoffHughes, Robert (Aberdeen N)
Butler, Mrs Joyce (Wood Green)Edwards, Robert (Wolv SE)Hughes, Roy (Newport)
Callaghan, Rt Hon J. (Cardiff SE)Ellis, John (Brig & Scun)Hunter, Adam
Callaghan, Jim (Middleton & P)Ellis, Tom (Wrexham)Irving, Rt Hon S. (Dartford)
Campbell, IanEnnals, Rt Hon DavidJackson, Colin (Brighouse)
Canavan, DennisEvans, Fred (Caerphilly)Jackson, Miss Margaret (Lincoln)
Cant, R. B.Evans, Gwynfor (Carmarthen)Janner, Greville
Carmichael, NeilEvans, Ioan (Aberdare)Jay, Rt Hon Douglas
Carter-Jones, LewisEwing, Harry (Stirling)Jeger, Mrs Lena
Cartwright, JohnFaulds, AndrewJenkins, Hugh (Putney)
Castle, Rt Hon BarbaraFernyhough, Rt Hon E.John, Brynmor
Clemitson, IvorFitch, Alan (Wigan)Johnson, James (Hull West)
Cocks, Rt Hon Michael (Bristol S)Flannery, MartinJohnson, Walter (Derby S)
Cohen, StanleyFletcher, Ted (Darlington)Jones, Alec (Rhondda)
Coleman, DonaldFoot, Rt Hon MichaelJones, Barry (East Flint)
Colquhoun, Ms MaureenFord, BenJones, Dan (Burnley)
Concannon, Rt Hon JohnForrester, JohnJudd, Frank
Cook, Robin F. (Edin C)Fowler, Gerald (The Wrekin)Kaufman, Rt Hon Gerald
Corbett, RobinFraser, John (Lambeth, N'w'd)Kelley, Richard
Kerr, RussellNewens, StanleyStott, Roger
Kilroy-Silk, RobertOakes, GordonStrang, Gavin
Kinnock, NeilOgden, EricStrauss, Rt Hon G. R.
Lambie, DavidO'Halloran, MichaelSummerskill, Hon Dr Shirley
Lamborn, HarryOrbach, MauriceSwain, Thomas
Lomond, JamesOrme, Rt Hon StanleyTaylor, Mrs Ann (Bolton W)
Latham, Arthur (Paddington)Ovenden, JohnThomas, Jeffrey (Abertillery)
Leadbitter, TedOwen, Rt Hon Dr DavidThomas, Mike (Newcastle E)
Lee, JohnPadley, WalterThomas, Ron (Bristol NW)
Lestor, Miss Joan (Eton & Slough)Palmer, ArthurThorne, Stan (Preston South)
Lever, Rt Hon HaroldPark, GeorgeTierney, Sydney
Lewis, Ron (Carlisle)Parker, JohnTilley, John
Litterick, TomParry, RobertTinn, James
Lofthouse, GeoffreyPavitt, LaurieTomlinson, John
Lomas, KennethPendry, TomTomney, Frank
Luard, EvanPerry, ErnestTorney, Tom
Lyon, Alexander (York)Phipps, Dr ColinTuck, Raphael
Lyons, Edward (Bradford W)Price, C. (Lewisham W)Urwin, T. W.
McDonald, Dr OonaghPrice, William (Rugby)Varley, Rt Hon Eric G.
McElhone, FrankRadice, GilesWainwright, Edwin (Dearne V)
MacFarquhar, RoderickRees, Rt Hon Merlyn (Leeds S)Walker, Harold (Doncaster)
McGuire, Michael (Ince)Richardson, Miss JoWalker, Terry (Kingswood)
McKay, Allen (Penistone)Roberts, Albert (Normanton)Ward, Michael
MacKenzie, Rt Hon GregorRoberts, Gwilym (Cannock)Watkins, David
Maclennan, RobertRobertson, George (Hamilton)Watkinson, John
McMillan, Tom (Glasgow C)Robinson, GeoffreyWeetch, Ken
Madden, MaxRoderick, CaerwynWeitzman, David
Magee, BryanRodgers, George (Chorley)White, Frank R. (Bury)
Mallalieu, J. P. W.Rooker, J. W.White, James (Pollok)
Marks, KennethRoss, Rt Hon W. (Kilmarnock)Whitehead, Phillip
Marshall, Dr Edmund (Goole)Rowlands, TedWhitlock, William
Marshall, Jim (Leicester S)Ryman, JohnWigley, Dafydd
Mason, Rt Hon RoySedgemore, BrianWilley, Rt Hon Frederick
Maynard, Miss JoanSelby, HarryWilliams, Rt Hon Alan (Swansea W)
Meacher, MichaelSever, JohnWilliams, Alan Lee (Hornch ch)
Mellish, Rt Hon RobertShaw, Arnold (Ilford South)Williams, Sir Thomas (Warrington)
Mikardo, IanSheldon, Rt Hon RobertWilson, Rt Hon Harold (Huyton)
Millan, Rt Hon BruceShore, Rt Hon PeterWilson, William (Coventry SE)
Mitchell, Austin (Grimsby)Short, Mrs Renee (Wolv NE)Wise, Mrs Audrey
Molloy, WilliamSilkin, Rt Hon S. C. (Dulwich)Woodall, Alec
Moonman, EricSilverman, JuliusWoof Robert
Morris, Alfred (Wythenshawe)Skinner, DennisWrigglesworth, Ian
Morris, Rt Hon Charles R.Smith, Rt Hon John (N Lanarkshire)Young, David (Bolton E)
Morris, Rt Hon J. (Aberavon)Snape, Peter
Morton, GeorgeSpriggs, LeslieTELLERS FOR THE NOES:
Moyle, Rt Hon RolandStallard, A. W.Mr. James Hamilton and
Mulley, Rt Hon FrederickStewart, Rt Hon M. (Fulham)Mr. John Evans.
Murray, Rt Hon Ronald KingStoddart, David

Question accordingly agreed to.

ordered.That it be an Instruction to the Committee on the Bill to leave out clause 39.