§ MR. CONYBEARE (Cornwall, Camborne)
asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department, Whether he is aware that in November 1885 the Town Council of Colchester passed a bye-law identical in terms with the 38th Clause of "The Torquay Harbour and District Act, 1886," prohibiting religious processions with music; whether the sanction of the Home Secretary was required before it could take effect; and, whether the then Home Secretary, Sir Richard Cross (now Viscount Cross), refused to sanction 685 it, on the grounds that such prohibition was contrary to the general law of the land; and, if so, whether he will take steps for the due observance and enforcement by the Local Authorities at Torquay of the general law of the land?
§ THE SECRETARY OF STATE (Mr. MATTHEWS) (Birmingham, E.)
Yes, Sir; the Town Council of Colchester did pass a bye-law forbidding processions on Saturdays as well as Sundays, and therefore wider than the Torquay clause. By Section 23 of the Municipal Corporation Act, 1882, such a bye-law does not require the sanction of the Secretary of State; but comes into force unless disallowed by Order in Council. The bye-law in question was so disallowed. The Justices at Torquay are acting within their legal powers under an Act of Parliament which was recommended by the Police and Sanitary Regulations Committee after hearing evidence from the locality. This Act is as binding upon me as any other Act of the Legislature, and I have no power to suspend it. As the right hon. Gentleman the Member for East Wolverhampton (Mr. Henry H. Fowler), proposes a Bill to repeal the 38th Section of the Torquay Act, I cannot help expressing a hope that in the meanwhile, and until Parliament has decided, the provisions of the existing Act may be respected by all parties.