HC Deb 26 May 1881 vol 261 c1308

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department, Whether his attention has been directed to complaints made by various gentlemen who obtained access to the platform at Exeter Hall on Friday last, on the occasion of a meeting at which the chair was taken by Earl Percy, M.P. and who were provided with tickets by the Committee that organised the meeting, but who were forcibly removed from the platform by a body of the Metropolitan Police; and, whether the Police were justified in taking this course of action?


in answer to my hon. Friend, I have to say that, in the interests of public meetings and of free discussion in this country, it is the duty of the police to see that the people who call public meetings should be protected and supported in the holding of the meeting tranquilly, and not be interrupted or interfered with by those who wish to create disorder. The report of this meeting made to me by the police is that a great deal of disorder prevailed on the occasion; that a large number of persons overpowered the official managers who called the meeting, forced their way, took possession of the platform, and created great confusion. The police were requested by the managers to assist in clearing the platform, and I have a positive assurance that no more force was used than was absolutely necessary. The meeting then tranquilly proceeded. The police performed a difficult duty with moderation and good temper.