§ 32. Mr. BLUNDELL
asked the Secretary for Scotland whether he can say if it was upon instructions from the Lord Advocate that the police authorities prohibited the annual Corpus Christi procession in the village of Carfin, Lanarkshire; is he aware that this procession has taken place for the last nine years; and why on this occasion the procession has been prohibited?
§ 34. Mr. BUCHANAN
asked the Secretary for Scotland if he has inquired into the circumstances in connection with a procession which was to have taken place at Carfin, Lanarkshire, on Sunday, 22nd June, but was banned by the authorities; if he is aware that processions of a similar character have been held on many occasions during the last few years without interference; and if he can now state whether he will take steps to see that the right to hold the processions is restored?
I have inquired into the circumstances of the case. The procession was not prohibited on instructions of the Lord Advocate. It is the case that the procession has taken place for a number of years past, but I am informed that it was not until last year that it attained dimensions which caused serious traffic difficulties, when the procession resulted in a complete obstruction of the public thoroughfare which lasted for a considerable time. I understand that the police authorities this year informed the priest responsible that if the procession on the public roads were repeated the matter would be reported to the Crown Authorities. The result was that the public roads were not used, but the procession took place in private grounds to which the general public had access. I may add in reply to the last part of the question put by my hon. Friend the Member for Gorbals (Mr. Buchanan), that the public right in roads and streets is a right of passage only, and one which must be exercised by members of the public 1936 with due regard to the similar rights possessed by other members of the public.
§ Mr. BLUNDELL
Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the police invoked the Catholic Emancipation Act, 1829, and informed the priests concerned that they would be prosecuted for wearing their vestments in public, as is laid down in the Act? Is the Secretary for Scotland aware that under the same Act any person joining a Catholic religious society is liable to banishment, and if he does not accept banishment within 20 days he is liable to deportation for fife, according to His Majesty's pleasure; and does the right hon. Gentleman intend to enforce that part of the Act?
§ Mr. FERGUSON
Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that it is a deliberate falsehood to say that these people have never marched in procession for nine years? Behind all this is the selling of holy water in order to raise money.
§ Mr. BUCHANAN
Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that processions of this kind are regularly allowed by the local authorities all over Scotland and in England, and that with proper regulations they never interfere with the traffic; and is it, not a fact that no complaint has ever yet been made by the people who use the roads against these processions—
§ Mr. SEXTON
Is it not a fact that similar processions, and even worse from the point of view of public traffic, are held annually in the same place by students from the universities, without objection being taken, and can not this law, which is as dead as Queen Anne, he ignored in the future?
§ Mr. FERGUSON
Is it not the case that this procession was prohibited in London some time ago, and that it is got up for the Irish who will not pay their rents or obey the law?
§ Mr. BUCHANAN
I beg to give notice that at the end of Questions, I shall ask leave to move the Adjournment, in order to call attention to this matter.