HC Deb 13 June 1966 vol 729 cc1010-1
12. Mr. Hunt

asked the Minister of Public Building and Works whether he will reconsider the granting of future permission for the holding of May Day meetings in Hyde Park, in view of the public nuisance and disturbance created.

The Minister of Public Building and Works (Mr. R. E. Prentice)

No, Sir. It is not the Government's policy to trample on democratic traditions.

Mr. Hunt

Does the right hon. Gentleman realise that this year hundreds of people trying to rest and relax had their afternoons completely ruined by the amplified inanities booming across Hyde Park? Why cannot these May Day meetings be confined to the area of Speakers' Corner or the people concerned asked to manage without their extremely powerful loudspeaker equipment?

Mr. Prentice

It has been a tradition for a very long time for May Day rallies to take place in Hyde Park. Although I can understand hon. Members opposite getting worried about the popularity of Left-wing ideas these days, I should not have thought that they would propose these methods for suppressing them.

Mr. Shinwell

Does my right hon. Friend realise that the Opposition are worried not about the May Day meetings but because the views expressed are anathema to them?

Mr. Prentice

Yes. It is always open to them to try to organise May Day meetings of their own.

Mr. Rippon

While successive Governments have allowed these meetings freedom of speech, may I ask the right hon. Gentleman whether he will address himself to the point about the use of amplifiers? That is what causes so much complaint.

Mr. Prentice

I think that amplifiers are necessary and usual at meetings of this sort. If what was said was too loud and carried too far, I should like to have details of it, because it might well be suggested, reasonably, to those concerned, whoever they might be, that they have the meeting elsewhere.

Mr. Frederic Harris

Did any Ministers of the present Government take part in any of these May Day meetings?

Mr. Prentice

I would need notice of that question. I believe so. Certainly I have had the pleasure of taking part in them in the hon. Member's constituency.