§ 44. Mr. DAGGAR
asked the Home Secretary whether he is now in a position to make a statement with regard to the disturbances in the Nantyglo, Blaina, and Abertillery areas; the number of men, women, and children who received injuries; whether those received by the women and children were due to the baton charge of the police; and whether he is prepared to institute an inquiry into the cause and into the conduct of the police?
§ Sir J. GILMOUR
Yes, Sir; I have now obtained from the Chief Constable of Monmouthshire a full report of the 1585 disturbances which took place in the areas referred to on the 21st instant. In view of disorders which had occurred in this district, the Chief Constable caused a warning to be given to the organisers of an intended demonstration to the office of the public assistance committee that, as it could only be for the purpose of intimidation by numbers, it could in no circumstances be allowed, and that the police would take such steps as were necessary to prevent any interference with the committee in the execution of their lawful duties. In spite of this warning, on the afternoon of the 21st instant, contingents of 500 persons from Abertillery and of about 5,000 from Nantyglo began to concentrate on Blaina. These crowds were stopped by the police and turned back. In the meantime the police received information that a large crowd was marching from Blaina. This crowd refused to disperse and attempted to force their way past the police. Fists and a stick were used, and eventually the police were compelled to draw their truncheons. Meanwhile they were assailed by a shower of stones from a crowd which had come up behind them. Stones were thrown at the police in such number that the road was covered. Eventually the crowd was dispersed and order was restored. Seven police officers were injured seriously enough to require medical attention, but few escaped minor injuries from the stones. It is estimated that about 200 men were struck by police batons. Nine men were treated at the local hospital. The attention of the police was called to one woman who was alleged to have been struck by a truncheon, but the nature of the injury indicates that it was more probably caused by a stone. There were no injuries to children. I am satisfied that the police dealt with a difficult situation with firmness but with their usual forbearance.
§ Mr. DAGGAR
Will the right hon. Gentleman consent to meet one or two of my friends from these benches and myself further to discuss the matter?
§ Sir J. GILMOUR
I am always ready to confer with any Member of this House, but, of course, the responsibility for this matter does not rest strictly with me, but with the local police.