HC Deb 01 May 1940 vol 360 cc699-700
31. Mr. Paling

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies how many people have been arrested and how many convicted for illegal assembly under the Emergency Powers Act in Jamaica and Trinidad since the beginning of the war?

35. Mr. Leslie

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether he is aware of the arrest and conviction of the secretary of the Trinidad Union of Shop Assistants and Clerks for an alleged breach of the Emergency Defence Act; and will he state the reason for his arrest, the circumstances under which the arrest took place, and the nature of the sentence imposed?

Mr. M. MacDonald

There have been no arrests or convictions for illegal assembly in Jamaica since the beginning of the war. In Trinidad three persons, including the secretary of the Trinidad Union of Shop Assistants and Clerks, have been arrested and convicted under the Public Meetings Regulations made by the Governor under the authority of the Emergency Powers (Defence) Act, 1939, which enact that public processions shall require the permission of the Commissioner of Police or his nominee. The incident leading to the arrest of these persons occurred on 5th February during the annual carnival celebrations. Permission was granted for the holding of some processions, but the three persons concerned were leaders of one which was unauthorised. On being informed by the police that they were acting contrary to the law they adopted an uncompromising attitude. They were found guilty under the Public Meetings Regulations and were fined 15 dollars each and placed on bonds of 50 dollars each for six months. Appeals have been lodged in all cases and are pending.

Mr. Paling

Were not these people conducting a meeting or procession in order to achieve a higher rate of wages, and are they guilty of doing anything which would not have been accepted in this country as a normal practice?

Mr. MacDonald

There would have been no difficulty at all if they had asked permission to hold their procession and the permission had been granted. I have indicated that the authorities granted permission for other processions to be held on that day.

Mr. Jagger

Were there not 40,000 people on the Racecourse, and is it not a fact that this was a procession of about 200 and that they arrested the leaders of the 200, and ignored the fact that there were 40,000 on the Racecourse?

Mr. MacDonald

As regards the other processions and demonstrations, permission was asked and granted for these to take place.

Mr. Leslie

Would it not be wiser to show more clemency in these cases instead of putting something into the mouth of Haw-Haw about the liberty enjoyed by the individual?

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