HC Deb 20 November 1969 vol 791 cc1481-2

CS Smoke

1. Mr. Dalyell

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether he is satisfied with the current methods of granting permission to the police for the use of CS gas in cases of civil disorder; and if he will make a statement.

The Secretary of State for the Home Department (Mr. James Callaghan)

Chief officers of police in England and Wales do not contemplate the use of CS smoke to control civil disorder.

Mr. Dalyell

Granted that the Government have done a good job in training the R.U.C., may we have an assurance that there has been a directive to police forces that never again will there be a repetition of the original events in Londonderry when CS gas was used by an untrained police force?

Mr. Callaghan

That does not arise out of the Question. I am responsible for police in England and Wales.

Mr. McMaster

Will the right hon. Gentleman ensure that the same rules about the use of CS gas apply to the Army as to the police. so that there will be no repetition of what occurred when CS gas was used at a peaceful church parade at which there was no fear of either rioting or looting?

Mr. Callaghan

The Question and my answer dealt with police in England and Wales.

2. Mr. Dalyell

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department what action he is taking as a result of the Himsworth Committee Report on the use of gas in Northern Ireland.

Mr. Callaghan

The report recommended the enlargement of Sir Harold Himsworth's committee and the extension of its terms of reference to assess the evidence about CS in the widest possible way. This has been done, as indicated in the report itself.

Mr. Dalyell

If part two of the Report is expected in March, may we be told something about the question that is left open by part one as 10 the effect of CS gas on the old, the sick, the pregnant and the very young? Will part two deal with those matters?

Mr. Callaghan

I would expect the committee to take that fact into account as it was raised in the original report.

Mr. Macdonald

In view of the fact that all forces, except the Metropolitan Police, hold devices which are inaccurate for discharging CS gas, what steps will my right hon. Friend take to ensure that these devices are replaced by more accurate ones?

Mr. Callaghan

The stocks held by the police are for use only in limited cases, and I have no reason to believe that they are inadequate for that purpose.