§ MR. S. SMITH (Flintshire)
asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department, Whether his attention has been drawn to the following statement contained in St. Stephen's Review of last week:—It is only quite lately that a case occurred which led to a fracas at the gates of the British Museum, between the guardian of a young girl and a perfumed old rake. This latter gentleman, it transpired, had followed, spoken to, and forced his company on the girl in question all the way from Piccadilly to Great Suffolk Street;and, whether the police have power to arrest men who molest modest women and girls in our streets and squares; and, if not, if he will take the necessary steps to empower them to do so?
§ THE SECRETARY OF STATE (Mr. MATTHEWS) (Birmingham, E.)
, in reply, 761 said, the police had power to arrest a man who, in the public thoroughfares, used indecent or insulting language, or was guilty of insulting or indecent behaviour towards a woman to her annoyance, or if he molested her in any way amounting legally to an assault. If, however, the behaviour of the man fell short of that neither the police nor the Secretary of State had any power by law to arrest the man.
§ MR. MATTHEWS
I have given the hon. Member the condensed effect of the Acts on the question, which say that a man can be arrested for using indecent or insulting language to a woman. Merely following is not an offence, except under what is known as Viscount Cross's "Picketing" Act.