HC Deb 19 August 1909 vol 9 cc1529-30

I wish to ask the Home Secretary a question of which I have given him private notice. Is he aware that for the last 24 hours three members of the Women's Freedom League have been on picket duty in Downing-street; that they not been interfered with by the police; and that on 9th, 16th, and 23rd July ladies belonging to this organisation were arrested by the police, and afterwards were convicted for exactly the same conduct; and can he say if the reason why the ladies are now left alone by the police is because the police action on the three dates mentioned was illegal; and, if so, does he propose to give the convicted ladies compensation for wrongful imprisonment?


I understand that members of the Women's Freedom League, sometimes two, sometimes four, stood at 10, Downing-street from 2.45 till a little after midnight yesterday. They were not removed by the police. There is nothing in this to cast any doubt upon the propriety of the action of the police upon the other dates mentioned by the hon. Member, or upon the justice of the convictions which followed. It is necessary for the police on each occasion to decide according to the best of their judgment whether there is or is not obstruction, and if they act on the view that there is obstruction, their action is subject to the review of the Court before which the cases may be brought.


Seeing that since my notice was handed in these ladies have been arrested, can the right hon. Gentleman say how it is that an obstruction was caused something like 24 hours after the picketing began?


I was not on duty myself, and, as I have said, it is really a matter for the police to decide whether there is or is not an obstruction.


Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that a number of ladies are waiting at the gates of this House to see the Prime Minister; and can he inform the House how the Prime Minister gets out without being seen? May I have a reply to that question?


I can only refer the hon. Gentleman to the ladies themselves as to whether they are sufficiently vigilant.


I want to know how the Prime Minister gets out of the House.