"They can never accord but are ever snarling and concurring as dogs together by the ears among themselves."
That exactly illustrates the message from the other place. In the terms of Norman French, the word "concur" cannot be allowed to stay in the message from the other place, and we should not have received it this afternoon. According to the Oxford English Dictionary, it does not mean that we are in sympathy with the other place.
Mr. D. N. Campbell-Savours (Workington) : On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. I did give you notice of it. You will remember that, earlier this year, I asked you about the position of Privy Councillors and their right to be called in debates in the House. We are elected equal, yet when we have been elected we find that certain Members have special privileges in so far as they can be called early in debates. Will you reconsider that practice, which I understand has been the practice of successive Speakers? Many hon. Members believe that it is quite unfair, and while we appreciate that you try to spread Privy
Column 246Councillors among the general membership of the House we believe that they should not take precedence in the future.
Mr. Speaker : The hon. Gentleman does not know everything that goes on in my office. If he were to see some of the sad letters written to me by Privy Councillors regretting that they have not been called he would realise that they do not all think that they are getting their due precedence.
Mr. Secretary Wakeham, supported by Mr. Secretary Walker, Mr. Secretary Ridley, Mr. Secretary Rifkind, Mr. Secretary Patten, Mr. Norman Lamont, Mr. Peter Morrison and Mr. Michael Spicer, presented a Bill to make new provision with respect to grants by the Secretary of State to the British Coal Corporation and further provision with respect to grants and loans under existing powers ; and to make provision as to the licensing of coal working, searching and boring : And the same was read the First time ; and ordered to be read a Second time tomorrow and to be printed. [Bill 4.]
Debate on the Address
Order read for resuming adjourned debate on Question [21 November],
That an humble Address be presented to Her Majesty, as follows : Most Gracious Sovereign, We, Your Majesty's most dutiful and loyal subjects, the Commons of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, in Parliament assembled, beg leave to offer our humble thanks to Your Majesty for the Gracious Speech which Your Majesty has addressed to both Houses of Parliament.-- [Mr. Gow.] Question again proposed .
Rights, Freedoms and Responsibilities
Mr. Speaker : Before I call the Secretary of State for the Home Department, as I have already said, a large number of hon. Members wish to participate in the debate. Yesterday the Chair was able to call 28 Back Benchers and I hope that the House agrees that that was good. Today I propose to put a limit of 10 minutes on speeches between 6 and 8 o'clock. I hope that all hon. Members who are called will bear that limit broadly in mind.
The Secretary of State for the Home Department (Mr. David Waddington) : The House may wish to be reminded that the subject of today's debate has been chosen by the Opposition. The title, "Rights, Freedoms and Responsibilities", is a truly Conservative theme. Therefore, I was surprised that it was chosen by Opposition Members. Balancing freedom with responsibility has been at the core of the Government's policy since 1979. We have been energetic champions of freedom, but of a freedom within the law. We have acted to reinforce fundamental rights, while recognising that with rights come responsibilities. That idea was certainly once unfashionable with Opposition Members, and I am glad to see the two words together today.
Our commitment is no mere rhetoric. Act after Act passed since 1979 has created new rights and new freedoms : the right to buy one's council house ; the right given to a tenant to play some part in the management of his estate ; the greater choice given to parents in the education of their children ; the new rights given to parent governors of schools ; the new rights given to schools to manage their own affairs. People have been given the right to own shares in the companies for which they work--and what a success story privatisation has been. Consider the number of people working in industry in Britain today who have a stake in the industry for which they work. Some 90 per cent. of those eligible to buy employee shares have taken up that right. People have the right to choose their own pension arrangements. There is the freedom of choice which comes from greater prosperity and the disappearance of the penal tax rates that obtained when Labour was last in power. I do not believe that even one Opposition Member would be daft enough to stand up in
Column 248the House and suggest that we return to an 83 per cent. top rate of tax on earned income, or 98 per cent. on unearned income.
Rights and freedoms cannot exist in a vacuum. They have to be protected by law and exist within the law. He who demands a right to do precisely as he pleases without regard to the interests of others merely deprives others of their rights. In the 1970s, we went through a nasty period when some trade union bosses demanded the right to act as they thought fit without regard to the interests of others. That had to be stopped. Nobody in their right mind wants to go back to those days of intimidation, thuggery, the blockading of hospitals, and the rest of it.
The change in industrial relations since 1979 has not come about by accident. It has been brought about as a result of the passage of laws which were fiercely opposed by Opposition Members.
Mr. Max Madden (Bradford, West) : Will the Home Secretary reflect on the fact that the only two places where the military are driving ambulances are Britain and East Germany? What conclusions does he draw from that?
Mr. Waddington : I am sorry that the ambulance drivers think it right to withdraw their services and thus to imperil the lives and the health of the people whom they are employed to serve. It is a great disappointment to me. I am afraid that it is an echo of the past. In the 1970s, we heard plenty about the rights of those who worked, but never about the rights of those whom workers were supposed to serve.
Since 1979, trade unionists have been given a say in important decisions about their working lives. Protection against strikes has been given. The rights of individual employees have been strengthened. The right to a fair, secret ballot before strikes has been provided and we have provided the right not to join a union. Unions still have their rights, of course, but now those rights must be exercised within the law. Immunities that once put the unions above the law have gone, and thank goodness for that.
Mr. Dennis Skinner (Bolsover) : Does the Home Secretary agree that one of the favourite phrases of Ministers recently, in respect of trade union legislation, is the assertion that they have given the unions back to the members? If that is so, why do they not listen to the ambulance crews who rejected the instructions and ideas of their union leaders who wanted them to accept a 6.5 per cent. pay increase? Having got the right to decide for themselves, union members said in a ballot that they did not want 6.5 per cent. but the full 11 per cent. Now that the union has been given back to the members--the ambulance crews--why do the Tory Government apply double standards? Now that the ambulance crews have spoken, why do the Government not pay them the money?
Column 249standards. He knows perfectly well that the ambulance drivers have their own negotiating machinery which they could go back and use tomorrow.
No right goes more directly to the heart of a Home Secretary's responsibilities than the right to walk the streets unmolested and to go about one's business in peace, yet those rights can be and are threatened by the activities of criminals. Our job is to prevent crime wherever we can.
The Government have met the task head on. Spending on law and order has risen by 72 per cent. in real terms in the past 10 years. There are 14,600 more police than there were 10 years ago. There are 8,800 more civilians working for the police, thereby freeing uniformed constables to be on the beat.
Today, I am able to announce the allocation of 1,160 extra police posts for 1990-91, together with 1,200 more civilians who will release further officers for operational duties.
Mr. Corbyn rose --
Mr. Jeff Rooker (Birmingham, Perry Barr) rose --
Mr. Corbyn : Is the Home Secretary aware that, over a period of 15 years, a campaign was waged for the release of the Guildford Four, which was eventually successful? Will he now recognise that there is potentially a large number of serious miscarriages of justice involving people in British prisons, such as the Birmingham Six? Will the right hon. and learned Gentleman announce that he is prepared to establish a new form of appeal system, so that those who have been convicted on the basis of confessional evidence obtained under prevention of terrorism legislation can be brought once again before the Court of Appeal and their cases reopened and and re-examined? In that way, people such as the Birmingham Six who have been wrongfully imprisoned for 15 years will at last be allowed to go free.
Mr. Waddington : I realise the importance of that point, but I do not agree with the hon. Gentleman's assertions. He knows perfectly well that the Home Secretary can refer a case to the Court of Appeal if there is new evidence or if there are new considerations which were not previously before the court. I assure the hon. Gentleman that I shall take my responsibilities in that direction seriously, but at the present time I do not see such new evidence and, therefore, I do not see the grounds for again referring the case. The terms of reference of the inquiry by Lord Justice May are very wide, and he may well touch on some of the matters that the hon. Gentleman has raised, including the consequences of the committal and trial and what happened after the trial of the Guildford Four.
Sir Eldon Griffiths (Bury St. Edmunds) : As my right hon. and learned Friend has been sidetracked into considering terrorism, it may be convenient for him to deal with this matter at this point. Has he seen the extraordinary story and pictures in one of this morning's newspapers suggesting that a bomber or sniper could gain
Column 250access to a window in the Foreign Office overlooking Downing street? Will my right hon. and learned Friend, in his capacity as the police authority for London, ensure that the Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis investigates that at once? Will my right hon. and learned Friend at some convenient time, and within the limits of security, give an assurance to the House that Nos. 10 and 11 Downing street are immune from any attack of that kind?
Perhaps I should revert to what I was saying, because I notice that one or two Opposition Members seemed to express surprise when I switched from the Birmingham Six to the Guildford Four. I did that intentionally because Lord Justice May's remit is wide and it would be open to him to comment on the question of references to the Court of Appeal and, therefore, on the possibility of the substitution of some other machinery.
I have dealt with the matter of the extra police who will be available in the coming financial year. Far more effort has gone into encouraging the public to help in the task of fighting crime. More than 75,000 neighbourhood watch schemes are now in operation, involving more than 3 million households. Our safer cities programme, which will provide resources and advice for 20 major crime prevention schemes in inner-city areas, is also an important new development.
Mr. Rooker : The safer cities programme is welcomed wholeheartedly in Birmingham. However, I have a question for the Home Secretary, which is meant sincerely. Will he ask the six Conservative Members of Parliament for Birmingham to show interest in the programme and to give it support? So far, only two of them have accepted an invitation to meet the co-ordinator, yet without any organisation, all six Labour Members of Parliament have met the co-ordinator to show their support for the work of the safer cities programme. If the project is to work, bipartisan support is needed. We ask for more help from Conservative Members with Birmingham constituencies because there is bipartisan support for the project on the city council.
Mr. Waddington : I am sure that on reflection, the hon. Gentleman will realise that he is making a partisan point. The scheme has only just started and there will be ample time for all my hon. Friends to meet the co -ordinator. I am confident that all of them will wish to co-operate to the full with that important new development. In this area, as in so many others, what my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs--when he was Home Secretary--used to call "active citizens" are at work. We are involving the local community in this all- important work. Alongside crime prevention, however, we need more criminal prevention--a greater stress on the responsibility
Column 251to bring up one's children to be honest and law abiding. Parents should be obliged to come to court when their children come to trial, and proper sanctions should be available for use against the deliberately irresponsible parents of irresponsible young criminals. When criminals are caught, the courts must have adequate powers to deal with them. We should not, of course, fill our prisons with minor offenders and those who can be punished in the community, but the public expects the courts to have the power to mete out really long sentences to really serious offenders, especially violent offenders. We have ensured that the courts have the powers that they need. The maximum penalty for attempted rape has been increased to life imprisonment, as has the maximum sentence for using a firearm in furtherance of crime. The average sentence for rape has more than doubled since 1985 and we have introduced a vital new power for the Attorney-General to refer to the Court of Appeal a sentence that he considers unduly lenient. Already that power is being used to good effect and it gives the Court of Appeal the opportunity to give guidance to the courts of the land on sentencing for the gravest crimes.
Mr. Robert Maclennan (Caithness and Sutherland) : Will the Home Secretary confirm that in saying that he believes that the Government have given adequate powers to deal with offences, he is saying that he will not throw his personal weight behind any proposal to reintroduce capital punishment?
Mr. Waddington : The hon. Gentleman knows my views on that matter and I suspect that I know his. He is entitled to his views and I am entitled to mine. I know that the matter will be dealt with in the House only on a free vote. We have had a number of free votes and we shall no doubt have more. My personal view is that our prime responsibility is to ensure that there is maximum protection for the public and if one is convinced in all conscience that the return of capital punishment would add to that protection, the argument is resolved in favour of those who wish to see its return. That is a matter for the hon. Gentleman and for me, but I should not like it to be thought that it is at the centre of my ideas on penal policy. I know that that matter can be dealt with only on a free vote on the Floor of the House, so we can talk about other matters today.
Mrs. Gwyneth Dunwoody (Crewe and Nantwich) : I am grateful to the Home Secretary. While we all welcome the clarity of the guidelines on sentencing for rape laid down by his Department, does he not find it worrying that there is clear evidence that the older the victim, the less likelihood there is of a penal sentence for rape? That is an unfortunate fact, and one which his own statistics demonstrate precisely. It would be wrong if people were encouraged to give evidence against those responsible for rape, but were deterred because they gained the impression that their evidence was weighted according to their age and their nearness to the age of consent. That would be difficult to understand.
Column 252and we have moved a long way from the old days when a person might go into a police station, make a complaint in a sexual case and not receive the consideration that she felt she deserved. However, that is a different point from the one with which the hon. Lady started. I know of no evidence to support her assertion.
Mr. Gerrard Neale (Cornwall, North) : In this part of his speech my right hon. and learned Friend is dealing with preventing crime and implicity with apprehending criminals. Earlier in his speech he mentioned trade union rights and was challenged by the hon. Member for The Wrekin (Mr. Grocott) on the GCHQ issue. Is not my right hon. and learned Friend concerned that recently there have been cases of ancillary civilian staff, in the communications services which support the police, taking strike action and thus impeding critical activities designed to aid the police? Is it not time that we considered having a special union with a no-strike clause for those civilians working with the police force so that they are taken out of their current unions?
Mr. Waddington : That is an interesting point, but it has never been represented to us before and I should have to give it serious consideration before taking such action. I firmly believe that the strike weapon is one to be used in the last resort and that people who serve the public should hesitate for a long time before using it.
We have to do our utmost to see that those accused of crime have their rights properly protected. I am sure that the House has not forgotten the new rights afforded by the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984--the statutory right, for example, of the suspect to have access to a solicitor, and universal tape recording will, in future, guarantee an accurate record of all interviews at police stations, which will be an important safeguard for suspects and police alike. I will say this about recent events : wrongdoing in the police must be rooted out, but the vast majority of police officers carry out their work of protecting the public with real dedication and probity. They are the guardians of our freedom and we should treat with the utmost contempt those who set out to denigrate them out of malice or because it is fashionable to do so.
We must not forget the rights of the victim. The Criminal Justice Act 1988 extended the rape victim's right to anonymity, which now exists from the moment she enters a police station to report the crime. There are now over 350 victim support schemes in operation, providing vital advice and support. Direct compensation of the victim by the offender now takes priority over fining in court. I have to say that in the past too little has been done to stress the rights of victims as against those of offenders. Redressing that balance will be a priority for me as Home Secretary.
Mr. Keith Vaz (Leicester, East) rose--
The Government's responsibilities in relation to crime do not stop at our borders. Crime is increasingly international and our response must match that. We have already played a part internationally in encouraging other countries to co-operate in confiscating the proceeds of crime.
The Criminal Justice (International Co-operation) Bill, which was announced in the Gracious Speech, will enable
Column 253countries to work ever more closely together in the fight against crime. It will make it easier for us to assist other countries in the investigation and prosecution of criminal offences and to obtain evidence abroad for use in proceedings here. It will, for example, mean that a prisoner in America can be brought here to give evidence. It will enable the police to go to a judge here to secure a search warrant for evidence sought by the prosecution in France. There is no more international crime than drug trafficking. We have been at the forefront in developing an international response--for example by stationing British drug liaison officers in the principal supplier countries overseas, and by improving co-operation with other countries. At home, we have also stepped up our action against the drug trafficker. The regional crime squads now all have specialist drugs wings and the creation of the national drugs intelligence unit has added another important weapon to our armoury. The maximum sentence for drug trafficking has been increased to life imprisonment, and the drug barons should know that they can expect no mercy from the courts. Alongside the sentence, we have power to confiscate their ill-gotten gains. Confiscation orders to the tune of £13 million have already been made and a further £20 million has been frozen pending trials.
Mr. Vaz : Does the right hon. and learned Gentleman share my concern that perhaps too much emphasis is placed on international co-operation and not enough on initiatives in Britain? According to figures that he has released, the street value of crack seized in the past two years has increased 20 times. Will he look at other initiatives such as the establishment of drug helplines for young people and children? That would enable the authorities to target resources on areas where they are most needed. Does he agree that there is a tendency to concentrate too much on the ill-gotten gains of criminals and not enough on preventive measures? If he looks at the report by the Select Committee on Home Affairs he will see the effect of crack on America's youth.
Mr. Waddington : The hon. Gentleman is plainly wrong if he imagines that all the emphasis is placed on punishing drug traffickers. I shall describe the Government's approach, which certainly embraces the punishment of drug traffickers, the seizure of drugs at ports and education at home, but also the treatment of people who have become addicted to drugs.
We must fight drug misuse through education, publicity and treatment. We have funded specialist drugs education co-ordinators in every local education authority and we are enrolling the whole community in the battle. That is why we will make available £2.3 million next year for the establishment in areas where the drug problem is worst of local drug prevention teams designed to mobilise community resistance against drug taking. Those action teams, which initially will be based in nine areas, will pull together the efforts of the Government, local authorities, local business, churches, voluntary groups and individuals who are all willing to work and to help in this fight.
The House will know that this Session, we intend to bring forward a major Bill on broadcasting. Here, too, the emphasis is on rights and responsibilities. They include the right of the viewer and listener to wider choice and the responsibility of the broadcaster to transmit material of an acceptable quality. That Bill is about choice--the choice
Column 254which will exist between five terrestrial TV channels and many more that will broadcast by satellite. There will also be wider choice in radio with three new national independent radio stations, and hundreds of new community radio channels. The present framework for broadcasting simply could not remain. The technological revolution will ensure that soon a multitude of channels will be available to us, so a new regulatory regime for independent television, meeting the needs of the times, must be developed.
That regime will stress the responsibilities of the broadcaster. It will set high quality standards for news, for regional programming and for taste and decency. The regulatory body, the Independent Television Commission, will leave programming to the broadcasters, but it will ensure that their product is a good one. The Broadcasting Standards Council, equipped with statutory powers, will reinforce those responsibilities, and the obscenity laws will be extended to cover broadcast media.
Mr. D. N. Campbell-Savours (Workington) : Will the right hon. and learned Gentleman give an assurance to my constituents and to the people of southern Scotland and northern England that nothing in the broadcasting Bill threatens the future of the Border television station, which is very popular?
chairman-designate of the ITC has already said that it is highly unlikely that he will think it right to alter the boundaries of the existing franchises. Therefore, the hon. Gentleman can rest pretty well assured that there will be a franchise that covers the area of Border television. I can also assure him that these new franchises will be awarded to people who have to put on regional programmes, who will have to make programmes in the region, who will have to put on a high-quality news programme and current affairs programmes and who will have to appeal to a wide range of tastes. The hon. Gentleman can rest assured that he will be a happy man when the new regime comes into place.
Mr. Jonathan Aitken (Thanet, South) : My right hon. and learned Friend will be aware that one of the glories of British television in recent years has been the production of high-quality drama serials, such as "The Jewel in the Crown", "Brideshead Revisited", and so on. How does he expect television companies to produce such high-quality programmes if they have to deplete their resources under the terms of the Bill by bidding for the franchises, thus transferring to the Treasury money that would otherwise have been spent on programmes?
Mr Waddington : I do not understand that argument. We are talking about valuable rights, and it is right that the proper price should be paid by the franchise holders for those rights. It is also sensible that decent standards are maintained. That is why there will be a quality threshold through which each bidder will have to pass before having any hope of winning a franchise.
Some worry has been expressed about networking, but I assure my hon. Friend that there is no earthly reason why networking arrangements should not be made between the eventual franchise holders, just as they are made now.
Column 255Mr. Richard Holt (Langbaurgh) : Will my right hon. and learned Friend give way?
It would be easy to fall into the trap of saying, "The viewer cannot be trusted, choice will lower standards, let there be no choice." That is precisely what Labour Members' predecessors said when ITV was brought in in the 1950s. They were wrong then and they will be wrong again.
Of course, a great responsibility rests on broadcasters. Television is a very potent medium, and we are entitled to expect high standards, and our proposals stress throughout the need for quality. The viewing public deserve that quality. Broadcasters will therefore have rights, but with responsibilities--the right to enter the market and compete, and the responsibility to provide a quality product. Mr. Holt rose--
The broadcasting world is not unique in requiring a balance of rights and responsibilities. This year, in response to concerns--they were well aired in the House--about press intrusion, and the right to privacy, we have established an inquiry under the chairmanship of Mr. David Calcutt QC. We are all anxiously awaiting his findings. I note also the efforts that newspaper editors and the Press Council are making to balance their responsibility to report events with the rights of individuals to remain free of harassment and intrusion. I welcome their efforts, but this time the House really expects them to deliver.
I announced yesterday the coming into force of the Security Act 1989, and the new Official Secrets Act 1989 will come into force early next year. Both measures represent a fundamental reappraisal of the rights and responsibilities of those handling sensitive information. By removing the threat of criminal sanctions from the vast majority of disclosures, the new Official Secrets Act achieves a proper balance beteween between the interests of national security--upon which may depend every individual's right to safety--and the interests of the individual in speaking freely. It has been condemned by those on the Opposition Benches as a repressive measure, but they know perfectly well that it greatly narrows the categories of information protected, and they know also that when in office their Government did precisely nothing to amend the old 1911 Act.
There is one acid test of a commitment to rights and the responsibilities that go with them. That is the determination of a Government to protect the citizen's right to safety from a terrorist attack. I know that those on the Opposition Front Bench share my revulsion for the terrorist and his works, but for so long as their determination to safeguard the citizens turns on mere words, their expressions of revulsion are valueless. Their real intention remains to remove from people the protection of the Prevention of Terrorism Act 1974 and the Northern Ireland (Emergency Provisions) Act 1978. Nobody in this House would want to take lightly the
Column 256powers made available by those Acts. The detention of suspects is a very serious matter, and I certainly take my powers very seriously indeed. But, and I am reminded of this by every Army base that is bombed, by every foul murder that is perpetrated, the Government's first duty must be to protect the innocent. The terrorist threat that we face is unique, and we are simply not prepared to lower our guard and place lives at risk.
I have spent a little time reading the Opposition's policy review. If we take at face value what the document states, it is a great compliment to Conservative endeavour. A Labour party document talking about rights and responsibilities is a remarkable new departure. In the old days, the right that the Labour party exercised best of all was a very different one and it was what it talked about as the right of appropriation. As we used to say in Lancashire, the Labour party said, "What's thine is mine and what's mine's my own." That was the old Labour philosophy, and it is only recently that we have heard all this stuff about rights and responsibilities. Even so, the Labour party has a long way to go. In one chapter of its policy review document, a quick word count revealed 58 rights and only 10 responsibilities. The responsibilities relate almost entirely to as yet non -existent Government departments and non-existent assemblies. Perhaps the message that rights and responsibilities must go hand in hand has finally crossed the Floor of the House, but I suspect that, as yet, it has found only a tenuous foothold on the Opposition Benches--
Several Hon. Members rose --
Mr. Waddington : I hope that my hon. Friends will forgive me, but there will be ample time to discuss these matters. No doubt hon. Members will be looking at the clock and remembering how many of them want to speak.
The Government are committed to a proper balance of rights, freedoms and responsibilities. The evidence is clear--a list of measures enhancing choice while retaining the fundamental rights of the citizen to safety and protection. It is a record which deserves the support and approval of the whole House.
Mr. Roy Hattersley (Birmingham, Sparkbrook) : I offer the Home Secretary our congratulations on his new appointment. He is not new to the subject. Indeed, he already possesses what, in one area of his responsibilities, could be described as a record. I shall not be as unkind about that record as the profile writers of national newspapers have been during the past fortnight. I shall simply refer to the one incident that his previous tenure at the Home Office brings immediately to mind--his arrangements for Miss Zola Budd, the South African athlete, to jump the queue, bypass the usual interrogations and acquire British citizenship within weeks of arriving in Great Britain.
The decision was justified by the phrase that Miss Budd had thrown in her lot with Great Britain. Anyone who believed that was clearly deceived--some people, I suspect the Home Secretary, willingly so. He described Miss Budd's application to come to this country as exceptionally urgent. I have to tell him that in the years ahead my hon. Friends will present him with very many more urgent immigration and nationality cases--sick mothers who need to join their husbands in this country
Column 257and elderly parents who are desperate to come here to live with their children. We shall watch with interest, although not with optimism, his decision whether to treat those cases in the way that he treated Miss Budd.
Mr. Waddington : I hope that the right hon. Gentleman will be a little more up to date when he is recounting the interesting history of Miss Budd. I hope that he will recall that she arrived in this country as the under-18 daughter of a British citizen father. I hope that he will make it absolutely plain that the most that he can complain about is the fact that her application was dealt with swiftly. He certainly cannot complain about the granting of citizenship because that is the one thing that simply could not be refused. If the right hon. Gentleman is merely complaining about the speed with which the case was handled, I hope that he will consider for one moment the criticisms that would have been showered on the Home Office if it had used bureaucratic delay to frustrate the wishes declared by that young girl to run in the Olympic games.
Mr. Hattersley : I understand, of course, the Home Secretary' sensitivity to this issue--nobody could be surprised by it. I was complaining about exactly the point that he made--the fact that one person was given prominence and preference while thousands of other more deserving cases were required to wait for weeks, months or even years because of bureaucratic delays intended to hold back legitimate immigration. I might also have complained that the then junior Minister was acting on the instructions of a Tory newspaper, but that is nothing new for this Government.
Mr. Holt rose--
Mr. Hattersley : Despite the Home Secretary's record, I welcome one aspect of his appointment ; we will be spared his predecessor's embarrassed attempts to pretend that he supported the authoritarian aspects of Government policy. The bogus claims to liberalism are now over. The new Home Secretary is unenlightened and proud of it. What is more, as was revealed from what I will charitably call the philosophic passage at the beginning of his speech, it is clear that he has not the faintest idea what liberty and freedom really mean. Freedom is not a theoretical thing ; it is a practical ability to make the choices that a free citizen wishes to make. How much freedom does the Home Secretary think that a pensioner living on the basic pension has to make the choices of a free society? How much educational freedom does he think exists for the families in the inner cities who have no choice but to send their children to decaying, dilapidated, understaffed local schools? How much freedom in medicine exists for my constituents waiting in hospital queues for operations because they cannot afford the choice of private medicine? Freedom exists only when freedom can be exercised, and for millions of men and women in Britain the opportunities to exercise the choices of a free society have been reduced by what has happened during the past 10 years.
Mr. Edward Leigh (Gainsborough and Horncastle) : Does the right hon. Gentleman agree that one important freedom is the freedom from fear? No one doubts his commitment to protecting innocent lives. Therefore, will