§ MR. MACDONALD (Tower Hamlets, Bow)
I beg to ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department at whose request, and by whose orders, a force of police was stationed at the gates of Messrs. Bell's Match Factory, Bromley by-Bow, on Monday, 1st January, when the employes were proceeding peaceably to work, and when there was no strike and no disturbance; and whether it is to be understood that the police can be used in this way at the instance of private employers?
§ THE SECRETARY OF STATE FOR THE HOME DEPARTMENT (Mr. ASQUITH, Fife, E.)
I am informed by the Commissioner of Police that on December 30th a letter was received at the Low station from Mr. Edwin Bell saying that his firm expected a number of hands would strike on Monday, January 1st. and they thought it advisable to inform the police in order to prevent any danger to the peace. Inquiry was made of Messrs. Bell, and they repeated what they had written and referred to a former dispute with their hands in July, 1893, when Mr. Bell, on leaving his works, was alleged to have been followed by about 200 men and girls, who hooted and yelled at him on his way to Bromley Station, and the police had some difficulty in protecting Mr. Bell from molestation. Two constables at each relief were directed to patrol St. Leonard Street, in the neighbourhood of the works, on January 1st, but they were not placed at the gates, and never entered the factory at all. Only two constables went near the gates at all; one went down at 7 a.m. on the 3rd, and asked the gate- 283 keeper a question, but did not remain two minutes; the other did the same when some girls left, and asked if all was quiet, but came away at once. It is a general practice when information is given at a police-station of any event such as an anticipated strike, or ball, or large dinner party, or any occasion likely to bring a number of people to a given spot, to send one, two, or more police, as circumstances may demand, to see that there is 110 obstruction to the traffic or breach of the peace.