§ MR. BIGGAR
asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department, Whether his attention had been called to the disturbances created by persons, alleged to be Orangemen, at a public meeting of Irish citizens of Glasgow held on the 14th instant; whether it is correct that the persons who created the disturbance were arrested at the same time as some of those who in self-defence protected themselves; whether the magistrates convicted the persons who had been attacked on the 16th; whether the same magistrates released and discharged the persons who created the disturbance, and against whom the police gave evidence showing them to have created and begun the disturbance; whether the magistrates refused to send the cases before the sheriff; whether the magistrates proceeded under the Prevention of Crimes Act; whether such Act applies to such cases; whether the convicted men are men of good and orderly lives; whether he will undertake to have the cases reconsidered; and, whether he will reverse or modify or otherwise revise the sentences of long imprisonment passed on these persons?
§ SIR WILLIAM HARCOURT
This transaction is one of the numerous examples of the mischievous effects of these foolish Party processions; but in reference to the Questions of the hon. Member I think, so far as I can see, my answer to all must be in the negative. The best thing I can do is to read an extract from a communication I have received in reference to this from the Procurator Fiscal in Glasgow. He says—It appears that Saturday the 14th August was the day appointed for the annual demonstration of the Home Rulers which had previously been advertized. A procession started from Glasgow Green, all wearing green ribands and green sashes; and after marching through the streets, preceded by several brass and flute bands, arrived at Maryhill, a northern suburb of Glasgow. In the course of the march an Orange flag was displayed by some person in the street. It was an Orange neighbourhood, and the appearance of the flag had the effect of throwing the procession into a state of great excitement, At that time it appears a pane 645 of glass was broken by a man in the street; but whether by a processionist or an outsider was not known. The Superintendent of Police directed this man's apprehension, on which the processionists proceeded to his rescue, and with flag-poles, staves, and sticks, assaulted the police, and endeavoured to prevent them doing their duty. A reserve force of police on duty in an adjoining station, on seeing the disburbance, came to the assistance of the first body. The assault on the police increased with the augmented numbers, and for 10 or 12 minutes there was a very serious disturbance. The' police officers were very severely handled, but they succeeded in making 20 arrests. While the prisoners were in the hands of the police there was a disposition to effect a rescue on the part of the processionists. The officer on duty, therefore, directed that they should be taken to the station by a quiet route. The processionists followed for some distance, but afterwards marched back to Glasgow Green, where they separated, apparently with the intention of dispersing. While on the Green, however, a disturbance, the origin of which is unknown, arose among a smaller body of processionists. The police interfered to quiet the commotion, and were again assaulted by processionists or persons wearing party badges, and by persons not so dressed. Half-a-dozen persons were arrested there for assaults on the police, and one person was arrested for assaulting two civilians. At this place several constables had their heads cut and their helmets smashed in. They were disabled for duty. The place where the assault was committed formed a part of the Central district of the Glasgow police. All the persons apprehended by the police were brought to trial, and disposed of by the magistrates. There is no foundation whatever for the suggestion that the magistrates refused to send the cases before the Sheriff. On the contrary, the police proposed that the cases should be disposed of by the Sheriff, and the information was sent to his office for the purpose. The charges, however, were laid for mobbing and rioting; but as their was no evidence of combination or of action for a common purpose, the Sheriff to whom the cases were submitted was of opinion that it would be more expedient that they should be dealt with summarily in the Police Court. The arrests were made without reference to distinctions of class. With regard to the character of the men, I have to state that none of them are known to the police with the exception of one, who will be tried for an assault to the danger of life. I may state, however, that I am informed by the Superintendent of Police, who saw the disturbance in the northern district, that many of the processionists on their return were inflamed by drink and by the speeches which had been delivered at Maryhill.That is all I know of the matter. If it is correct, the arrest of these people was not on account of an attack by other persons outside the procession, but on account of an attack by people in the procession itself on the police. I do not think, therefore, that it is a case in which I can interfere.
§ MR. BIGGAR
From the conflicting nature of the reports with regard to this procession, I wish to ask the right hon. and learned Gentleman whether or not he will cause an independent inquiry to be made into this transaction; because, as a matter of fact, my information is thoroughly opposite to that of the right hon. and learned Gentleman?
§ SIR WILLIAM HARCOURT
If the hon. Member lays before me any reason for thinking that the information of the Procurator Fiscal is unfounded, of course it will by my duty to make further inquiry; but without that I cannot accede to it.