HC Deb 24 May 1960 vol 624 cc200-1
29. Mr. Reynolds

asked the Minister of Housing and Local Government and Minister for Welsh Affairs what correspondence he has sent to the St. Pancras Metropolitan Borough Council with regard to its decision to close the public gallery during the next three council meetings; and whether he will make a statement.

Mr. H. Brooke

I have sent no correspondence. I have no statement to make.

Mr. Reynolds

Is the Minister not going to deprecate the activities of this Tory-controlled authority in excluding the public from meetings, in the same way as he deprecated the action of a Labour-controlled authority in excluding the Press from meetings last year? Would he not agree that his statement on 6th July last year should apply equally to Tory-controlled as to Labour-controlled councils?

Mr. Brooke

I understand that in this case it has been necessary for the council to adjourn on several occasions while interrupters were removed, and that on the last occasion eggs were thrown from the public gallery and demonstrators chained themselves to their seats. I can understand the council authorities wishing to take some effective action in such circumstances.

Mr. M. Stewart

But does the Minister consider that local authorities ought to exercise a right of collective punishment over their electorates, and will he draw the attention of St. Pancras Council to the words he used a little while ago in answer to a supplementary question of mine, that councils are elected not to please themselves but to please their electorates?

Mr. Brooke

It is extremely doubtful whether the demonstrators are pleasing anybody but themselves.