§ 9. Mr. MAXTON
asked the Secretary of State for Scotland if he will state what progress, if any, he has made in his negotiations with the town council of Glasgow on the question of free speech on Glasgow Green; and if he has taken any steps in connection with the liberation of men imprisoned for offences against the by-laws?
I gave no undertaking to enter into negotiations with the town 1220 council on the subject referred to. The matter is not one in which I have any jurisdiction, as the by-law in question was made by the town council under powers conferred by Statute, and was confirmed by the Sheriff. What I did undertake to do was to ascertain whether there was any difficulty in the way of the lay preachers, referred to in the question of 2nd July, obtaining permits to preach the Gospel on Glasgow Green at any time they so desired. I have done so, and I find that permits under the by-law are freely granted and very rarely refused. Accordingly, there seems no reason to doubt that, had they made application, the lay preachers would have obtained permits. As regards the last part of the question, the lay preachers were liberated on 8th July in due course of law, their fines having been paid.
§ Mr. MAXTON
I understood the right hon. Gentleman's previous reply. Will he not consider, having regard to the great public disturbance that this is causing in Glasgow, the desirability of entering into conversations with the Glasgow City Council, with a view to having these by-laws modified or abolished?
I had already informed my hon. Friend that, whilst I am quite ready to discuss this matter, it is one in which I have no jurisdiction.
§ Sir P. FORD
May I ask if the Secretary of State for Scotland does not think that this proves the necessity of such a by-law, and that, considering the highly inflammable nature of religious opinion in certain parts of Glasgow, it is obvious that any lay preacher who was not going to do more than preach the Gospel and not be provocative, would have no hesitation in asking for a permit?
§ Mr. MAXTON
In regard to the question which has just been asked, is the Secretary of State for Scotland not aware that there was nothing of a sectarian nature in the work that these men were doing, but that they were simply preaching a plain Christian gospel, without any provocation whatever, and that they have been imprisoned for that?