HC Deb 17 February 1971 vol 811 c1817
19. Mr. Charles R. Morris

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment what application he has received from Manchester City Council for planning approvals in connection with the provision of a site for a speaker's forum in the centre of Manchester.

Mr. Graham Page

I have not been so approached.

Mr. Morris

Does the Minister accept that the provision of a site for open-air speakers in the centres of cities is an essential feature of life in many British cities? Will he do what he can to encourage Manchester City Council in this direction, against a background of 49 people having already been arrested in the city for fighting for this basic human right?

Mr. Page

So far as planning permission is required, it is a matter for the local planning authority, and one with which my right hon. Friend would not wish to interfere.

Mr. Heffer

Since the Government have decided in the Industrial Relations Bill to restrict the rights of journalists and others to express their opinions about industrial matters, would it not be a good gesture by the Government at least to let local authorities know that there should be speakers' corners in every part of the country?

Mr. Page

Of course the Government support freedom of speech, but setting aside a particular area is a matter for the local planning authority.

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