HC Deb 19 April 1910 vol 16 cc1874-5
Viscount CASTLEREAGH (for Earl Winterton)

asked whether it is the practice of his Department to request the local police authority to take special precautions to protect from violence Ministers of the Crown when visiting localities outside the Metropolitan Police area for the purpose of making a political speech; and, if so, whether the Home Office makes any grant towards the cost of such precautions; and, if not, under what Statute local authorities are asked to incur this burden?


The preservation of order and maintenance of the peace is a matter for which local police authorities are responsible, and expenditure for this purpose falls on local funds, but half the cost of the pay and clothing of the police is repaid from the Exchequer contribution. Cost incurred by local police authorities on the occasion of visits by Ministers of the Crown forms no exception to the general rule.


Have not representations been made to the right hon. Gentleman expressing dissatisfaction at the additional charge cast on a locality, and if that is so cannot he see his way to allowing a grant from the Treasury, or else restraining the unpopular Ministers who perambulate the country?


Will the right hon. Gentleman also apply the same principle to unpopular ex-Cabinet Ministers?


In answer to the Noble Lord, the answer I have already given to the question covers the case of any of His Majesty's subjects who may stand in need, or may be thought, however erroneously, to stand in need, of special police protection. I see no reason to depart from the ordinary methods by which the charge is defrayed.


On a point of Order. This question stood in the name of the Noble Lord (Earl Winterton) yesterday. It was reached, and the Under-Secretary was quite prepared to answer it. The Noble Lord, however, said he would postpone it till to-day. As far as I can understand, under the new Rules in reference to questions one is not entitled to defer a question if the Minister is prepared to answer it, and the question stands unless notice be given to the Clerk beforehand.


It is open to any hon. Member to postpone a question.