HC Deb 08 April 1869 vol 195 c355

said, he would beg to ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, Whether his attention has been called to a statement in The Times of the 27th instant, that a Ritualistic procession took place on Good Friday in the parish of St. George in the East, in this Metropolis, which started from St. Peter's Church, and went all round the parish through the public streets, headed by the incumbent in a plain cassock, a curate, choristers, and others, making twelve stations by the way, at each of which the incumbent delivered a discourse referring to the ascent of Mount Calvary; and, whether such processions were in accordance with the Law?


Sir, I read the report of this procession in the newspapers, but I have received no account from the Metropolitan Police, nor does it appear that any report of it was sent to the Chief Commissioner. These processions are not in themselves illegal. The law makes no distinction between religious and political processions or assemblages; but, if they are likely to lead to a breach of the peace, there are methods by which they can be put a stop to or rendered illegal. An information may be sworn before the justices, and thereupon notice will be given to the parties that such procession or assemblage tends to a breach of the peace, is unlawful, and must not be held. If no such fears are apprehended, then those persons who are interested in preventing the disturbance of the streets may apply a general remedy which is open to anybody—I mean the general remedy under the Highway Act, by which a penalty of 40s. may be imposed on any person who obstructs the free passage of the streets.