HC Deb 21 April 1932 vol 264 cc1616-7
11. Mr. MAXTON (for Mr. McGOVERN)

asked the Home Secretary for what reasons he has prohibited the holding of mass meetings by the police; and whether he will make a statement on the matter?


The Police Act, 1919, authorised the constitution of a Police Federation for the purpose of enabling the members of the police forces of England and Wales to consider and bring to the notice of the police authorities and the Secretary of State all the matters affecting their welfare and efficiency, other than questions of discipline and promotion affecting individuals. The Act does not provide for the holding of any meetings other than the annual central conferences of representatives of branch boards of all forces, meetings of the central committees elected by the central conference, and quarterly meetings of branch boards in each force. Open or mass meetings, attended and addressed by persons unconnected with the police service, have never formed any part of the constitution or regular procedure of the Police Federation, and can be held only with the consent of the police authorities. The holding of such meetings requires specific justification and permission for them has been given only in special circumstances. The police being a disciplined service, Parliament decided, in the procedure and machinery established by the Act of 1919, the method of affording reasonable and proper opportunity to the members of that service of submitting representations to the responsible police authorities.

After full consideration, I have decided that no advantage is likely to be gained from the holding of meetings at the present time, other than those provided for in the Act of 1919, and I am satisfied that this decision places the police under no disability. All branches of the service will continue to have full opportunity to submit their representations through the statutory channel.


Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that his predecessor, in introducing the Bill which provided the police with the right to hold meetings, made a very definite promise quite contrary to the statement which the right hon. Gentleman has just made?


No, Sir. I am not aware of that, but I will refer to the statement mentioned by the hon. Gentleman.


Does the right hon. Gentleman agree that the Police Federation can be nothing more than a farcical representation of the men if the opportunity for the men meeting together to discuss their problems is denied by him?


No, Sir; they have other opportunities besides open meetings.