§ 44. Mr. JOWETT
asked why the Herald League meetings in Finsbury Park have been prohibited under Regulation 9 A of the Defence of the Realm Act, which allows the prohibition of meetings likely to give rise to grave disorder, in view of the fact that these meetings have been held for the last eighteen months without disturbance?
74. Mr. CHANCELLOR
asked the Home Secretary whether he is aware that orderly meetings have been held in Finsbury Park for many months on Sundays by the Herald League and by other bodies; whether, whilst other bodies are still allowed to hold their meetings, those held by the Herald League have been prohibited; if so, will he state the reason for this action; whether he is aware that the police officer who warned the league secretary refused to produce any written authority for his action; whether the suppression of free speech is left to the personal discretion of individual police officers; and whether he will in future instruct the police not to interfere with public meetings or to prevent them without producing to the organisers their written authority for so doing?
§ Sir G. CAVE
I prohibited a meeting proposed to be held in Finsbury Park on Sunday last because I was satisfied that there were good grounds for anticipating grave disorder if it were held, and that in view of present circumstances it would be making an undue demand on the police to require them to provide such a force as would be sufficient to maintain order. My action was taken under Defence of the Realm Regulation 9 A. The police officer who interviewed the secretary had omitted to take a copy of the Order with him. I have given instructions that in any future case a copy of the Order prohibiting a meeting shall, if possible, be handed to the promoters.
Have any of the series of meetings held by this league led to disorder before, and, if not, why are disorders apprehended in this case?
§ Mr. OUTHWAITE
Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that meetings held by such organisations as the Roman Catholic Guild have been broken up by gangs of scoundrels who come there for the purpose of breaking up all meetings, even meetings that have nothing whatever to do with the War?
§ Mr. HERBERT SAMUEL
Are we to understand that when disorder is expected the right hon. Gentleman proposes to take action by prohibiting the meeting or by providing a sufficient force to prevent disorder?