HC Deb 10 June 1912 vol 39 cc524-31

asked the Home Secretary whether his attention had been called to the police attack upon people who stood upon the footpath between Canning Town station and the iron bridge, Barking Road, on Thursday morning last; if he was aware that a reporter of the "Star" newspaper was witness to a man being chased across the road, and to his being pushed and struck by the police, and of the fact that the man moved off to the pavement and approached a sergeant, when two other constables rushed at him, seized him by the scruff of the neck, and, with unnecessary force, hurried him off down a side turning; whether he was aware that on Wednesday, 29th May, at the corner of Beckton Road, the police on horseback rushed into the crowd and attacked men, women, and children, with the result that two children and an old man and woman were injured; and if he was prepared to hold an inquiry into the matter?


The Commissioner of Police reports to me that he has made inquiries. The spot referred to in the first part of the question is one at which the police have experienced much difficulty in escorting the convoys owing to the large numbers of strikers who assemble there. The incident referred to took place at 11.50 a.m. on 30th May. It became necessary on this occasion to remove a man who was interfering with horses, but, so far as the inquiries have gone, there is no reason to believe that unnecessary force was used. There was nothing in the nature of an attack by the police upon any person present. On Wednesday, 29th May, the police experienced difficulties in escorting a convoy past the junction of Barking Road and Beckton Road, where a meeting was being held, and some thousands of persons were assembled. The incident mentioned in the question arose out of a driver's mistaking his direction and having to turn in the middle of the crowd. Some missiles were thrown, the reins of one of the horses were seized, and the crowd obstructed the van. As a result, the mounted police were compelled to clear the way, but, though one officer waved his baton indiscreetly, it is not correct to say that the crowd was charged or attacked. Beyond the fact that one man had his foot accidentally trodden on by a horse, no person present, so far as the police have been able to ascertain, was injured.


Is the right hon. Gentleman prepared to hold a public inquiry into the matter; and is he aware that a reporter of the "Star" newspaper was standing close by, and is quite prepared to give evidence in the matter?


Well, Sir, I will inquire further into the subject, but the circumstances at present do not seem to be sufficient to warrant a formal inquiry being held.