HC Deb 30 April 1913 vol 52 cc1189-90

asked the Home Secretary whether Mr. Sydney Harris was arrested by Police-constables 430 E and 431 E on Saturday afternoon last, in Bow Street, at about 5 p.m., because the man Harris was taking down the numbers of constables who were pushing people about outside the Police Court; if Mr. Harris swore on oath at the Bow Street Police Court on Monday last that Police-constable 430 E threatened him in various ways whilst in the police cell; if he will state the nature of the charge entered in the charge sheet at the Bow Street Police Station; if Mr. Harris was fined 20s. and costs on Monday, 28th April; and if he will cause inquiries to be made into the matter?


I have made inquiry into this case, which was heard at great length, and find that the prisoner was charged with using insulting words and behaviour, whereby a breach of the peace might have been occasioned. The magistrate who heard the evidence was satisfied that it fully sustained the charge; that the prisoner was not arrested because he took the numbers of constables as alleged, and that the statement that he was threatened by Police Constable 430E was untrue. The prisoner was fined 20s., but there were no costs. I find no reason for further action on my part.

79. Sir W. BYLES

asked whether the Police Order prohibiting meetings in Hyde Park has had the result expected from it of preventing disturbance of the peace; and, if not, will the said Order be now withdrawn and the ancient freedom of public speech be restored?


The result of police action in Hyde Park has been that no serious disturbance of the peace has taken place. It is not proposed to modify the instructions given to the police, which, as I have already pointed out, apply only to meetings promoted by members of organisations which are endeavouring to further their cause by criminal acts.


Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that on Sunday last a meeting of a Men's Political Union was broken up for lack of proper police protection?


Police protection was given, but it was quite impossible—the crowd being of such a size last Sunday in the park—for the police to ensure the meeting being held.


Were not the crowds last Sunday greater than ever? Is it not the fact that when meetings are prohibited the disturbance becomes greater, as used to be the case in Ireland? Would it not be better to restore the fashion of freedom of tongue as well as of pen.


My hon. Friend is, I think, confusing two sets of circumstances. A meeting was held in Hyde Park and caused great disturbance, but other meetings were not allowed, and I believe there was less disturbance in consequence of their not being allowed.


asked what fees, in addition to salary, have been paid to each of the Law Officers in connection with the prosecution of suffragists; the dates upon which the Law Officers appeared in Court in that matter; and, if none, the occasions and nature of the work for which the payments have been made?


The only fee paid to a Law Officer was £351 16s. 6d. to the Attorney-General in respect of the trial of Mrs. Pankhurst and others at the Central Criminal Court. The Attorney-General appeared in Court on six days.