HC Deb 18 March 1970 vol 798 cc383-4
28. Mr. Mackintosh

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland whether, in view of the dubiety of the present law, he will take steps to provide that the police in Scotland are enabled to enter university premises and to deal with disorders in the traditional manner in Scotland by which students are treated in the same way as any other members of the public.

Mr. Buchan

Students are treated in law in the same way as any other members of the public and I do not believe that any change in the law is needed.

Mr. Mackintosh

I thank my hon. Friend for that reply. Would not he accept that the recent entry by Edinburgh students into premises in Buccleugh Place, where they prevented people working, opened files and so on, might well have constituted a breach of the peace, and that had the police operated as the university authorities requested the subsequent clash between students and the university would never have taken place?

Mr. Buchan

There is some doubt as to the extent to which the authorities or others wanted intervention to take place. In the more recent incident affecting Old Quad in Edinburgh the police showed that they were willing to intervene and did so when they were satisfied that their presence was required.

Mr. Wylie

Is not the position that there is no doubt about the Scottish law on breach of the peace, which is adequate to meet this problem? Does not the intervention to which the hon. Gentleman referred show that it can effectively and quietly be dealt with by the police, both to their credit and to that of the university authorities?

Mr. Buchan

I entirely agree with the hon. and learned Gentleman.