§ MR. KEIR HARDIE (West Ham, S)
I beg to ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether his attention has been called to the resolution passed at a meeting of 30,000 workmen held at Victoria Park, London, on Sunday last, protesting against the Naval and Military Forces being used at Hull in the labour dispute existing there: and whether the Government is now prepared to withdraw the Naval and Military Forces from Hull?
§ MR. ASQUITH
The Naval and Military Forces now at Hull were sent, and have been used, not to take one side or the other in an industrial dispute, but to aid in the preservation of the peace and the protection of life and property. For this purpose the Local Authorities are of opinion—and I concur with them—that the presence of the Forces is still necessary; and, until the necessity ceases to exist, they will not be withdrawn.
§ MR. KEIR HARDIE
May I ask whether it is true that a requisition has been made for additional Forces to be sent to Hull, and whether these additional Forces are to be sent?
§ MR. J. HAVELOCK WILSON (Middlesbrough)
Will the right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary take steps to send the additional Forces to Hull for the purpose of preventing the free labourers from breaking the peace among themselves? I should like also to ask whether the Home Secretary is aware that a free labourer attacked another free labourer the other evening with a knife?
§ MR. ASQUITH
I am not aware of the fact stated by the hon. Member. The Government, in dealing with these matters, necessarily depend on the demands made on them by the Local Authorities, and it is in compliance with those demands that, the additional Force has been sent to Hull.
§ MR. CHARLES DARLING (Deptford)
I beg to ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether he can give the House any information as to how the tire at the Hull Docks was caused; whether a hose was found to be so damaged as to be useless in extinguishing the flames; whether any men have been, or are likely to be, deprived of work in consequence of the destruction of stock in trade; and what steps have been taken to prevent the further destruction of property at Hull?
§ MR. J. HAYELOCK WILSON
Before the right hon. Gentleman answers that question, may I ask if he is aware it was the usual practice for many years for smoking in the docks to be strictly prohibited, and whether since the free labourers were brought there they have been allowed to smoke amongst the 1135 timber, and where cotton is stored, so that they have caused this fire and probably many more?
§ MR. ASQUITH
On this point I must take my information from the Local Authorities, and they inform me that fires, which are believed by the Local Authorities to be the result of incendiarism, occurred in several places on Sunday. All were promptly extinguished except one in the large timber yard, which was still burning yesterday. I believe, however, it is now out. It is a fact that the fire hose was cut. I have no information as to men being deprived of work in consequence of the fire; but damage to the extent of £50,000 has been done. In answer to the last paragraph, I have to say that the Mayor has telegraphed for additional soldiers and police, and I have authorised the despatch this morning of 25 mounted men of the Metropolitan Police to assist in the preservation or order.