§ Mr. Callaghan
Mr. Speaker, with your permission, may I ask the Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department a Question of which I have given him Private Notice: whether he will make a statement on the reasons for the visit of the Commissioner of Metropolitan Police to C Division yesterday afternoon to address a mass meeting of all ranks?
§ The Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department (Sir Hugh Lucas-Tooth)
Yes, Sir. The Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis visited C Division in view of statements made in a newspaper yesterday that bribery and corruption were widespread in C Division of the Metropolitan Police, and that 450 officers might be transferred to other duties.
As the Commissioner made clear in a statement yesterday, the general accusations made in certain quarters against the police are unwarranted and unsubstantiated. The Metropolitan police are a fine and conscientious body of men and women whose good relations with the public whom they serve might be impaired by irresponsible charges made against them. There is no truth whatever in a suggestion that 450 men, which practically constitutes the whole establishment of C Division, may be transferred. In 914 fact, no transfers from C Division are in contemplation. Certain matters which may lead to disciplinary or criminal proceedings are under rigorous investigation, and it would not be proper for the Home Secretary to comment on them in any way.
My right hon. and gallant Friend, who is constantly in touch with the Commissioner of Police, has the utmost confidence in the integrity of the Metropolitan police as a body and he authorised the Commissioner to inform the men whom he addressed yesterday accordingly. I am glad to repeat this assurance to the House.
§ Mr. Callaghan
May I ask the Under-Secretary of State if he is aware that his firm reply this morning, following the prompt action of the Commissioner, will give a great deal of reassurance to the men concerned? May I further ask him if he is aware that they do not want white-washing but they do object to indiscriminate mud-slinging, and that what really brought the matter to a head was the indignation and distress felt by many of their wives and families at allegations that have been thrown around quite wildly, and in view of the fact, as the Under-Secretary says, that this was brought to a head by a grossly exaggerated article in a newspaper, will he consider referring the article in question to the Press Council for investigation?
§ Sir H. Lucas-Tooth
I am glad to find myself in complete agreement with the preliminary comments of the hon. Gentleman. I have no doubt that what has been said here this morning will come to the attention of the Press Council, and I do not think it would be appropriate for my right hon. and gallant Friend to act as an informer, so to speak, in this connection.