HC Deb 11 April 1893 vol 11 cc20-2

I beg to ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department a question of which I have given private notice—namely, whether he has received any communication from the Watch Committee of the Borough of Hull, the body responsible for the peace of the town, informing him that the shipowners, who are enjoying the protection of the military, have refused all efforts to arrive at a compromise or towards conciliation; and whether, under these circumstances, he will order the withdrawal of the military forces?


In answer to the hon. Member's question, I have to say I have received no such information from the Watch Committee of the borough. I have no knowledge of the facts except what is to be gained from reading the newspapers. As to the withdrawal of the military, they were not sent there by my orders, but upon the responsibility of the Local Authorities, and I have no power to order their withdrawal.

MR. J. WILSON (Durham)

I had intended to ask a question framed on the same lines. I will now further inquire of the right hon. Gentleman if he is aware that it has been arranged by the employers of Hull that the military and civil forces are to be employed for the purpose of breaking up the Union, and the employers have refused all conciliation, saying that they will not yield until the Union has been entirely broken up; and whether he believes that the civil and military forces of the Crown should be employed for any such purpose?


I have received no such communication. In my opinion— an opinion which I have often expressed in similar circumstances to Local Authorities—the military and naval forces of the Crown should not be resorted to in aid of the civil power except in a great emergency and for the preservation of public order. The responsibility of taking that step must rest with the Local Authorities, who are acquainted with all the facts.


Arising out of the answer of the right hon. Gentleman, may I ask him, as showing the orderly character of the town, whether he is aware that there has been a procession of from 8,000 to 9,000 people, and that there was not the smallest disorder; and whether he is aware there has not been a single case in the Police Court arising out of this strike?


I have no official knowledge of the subject, but I believe from what I have read that the facts are as stated by the hon. Member.

MR. LABOUCHERE (Northampton)

May I ask the right hon. Gentleman whether the commander of the district has not a perfect right to exercise his own judgment whether he will carry out the wishes of the Local Authority?


My hon. Friend should put the question to the Secretary of State for War.


Then I put it to the Secretary of State for War.


My hon. Friend should give notice of a constitutional question of that sort. There is no nicer point, I should think, that can arise as to how far the military authorities are to obey the invitations of Local Authorities under these circumstances.


With regard to the last question, may I say that I handed in to the Clerk at the Table a question on the lines of that put by the hon. Member for Northampton and another addressed to the Home Secretary bearing upon the dispute at Hull, I should like to ask why they did not appear on the Paper?


They were both out of Order, and I directed them not to he put on the Paper. A communication was sent to the hon. Gentleman that they were out of Order that he might have the opportunity of putting them into more regular and formal shape; but the hon. Member was not here, and therefore no action could be taken by the Clerk at the Table.