§ MR. NORRIS (Tower Hamlets, Limehouse)
I beg to ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether he can define the law as relating to pickets in trade disputes between employers and employed; if men subjected to intimidation, inquiry, or demand, either within or without the dock gates, or other places, as to whether they belong-to Unions or not, and refusing to be interrogated, will receive the protection of the police; if the apparent unsatisfactory state of the law relating to combinations, Trade Societies, and Unions, is receiving the attention of the Government with reference to the rights of free labour, so as to ensure and safeguard such legitimate rights; and whether it is proposed to legislate on the matter during the present Session?
§ MR. C. GRAHAM
May I ask whether such an unsatisfactory state of the law as is alleged in the second paragraph of the question really exists?
§ THE SECRETARY OF STATE FOR THE HOME DEPARTMENT (Mr. MATTHEWS, Birmingham, E.)
I cannot define the law relating to pickets otherwise than by referring my hon. Friend to the third and seventh sections of the Conspiracy and Protection of Property Act, 1875. The police are instructed to give protection to all persons against violence, intimidation, and the other forms of coercion and annoyance which are made punishable offences by Statute, or are punishable by law. The state of the law on the subject referred to has received, and is receiving, the careful attention of the Government. It has not yet been made apparent by judicial decision or otherwise that the Statute and Common Law taken together are insufficient to insure and safeguard the legitimate rights of free labour. Until it has been 1505 shown that the law falls short of what is necessary for that purpose the Government think it is premature to consider fresh legislation.
§ MR. J. ROWLANDS (Finsbury, E.)
Has the right hon. Gentleman received information which leads him to the conclusion that the authorities have not yet power enough for dealing with the whole questions arising out of the dock strike?
§ MR. MATTHEWS
During the dock strike complaints were received from persons who stated that they had been intimidated.
§ MR. J. ROWLANDS
Is there not sufficient power under the existing law to deal with undue intimidation?