HC Deb 27 January 1972 vol 829 cc1600-2
11. Mr. Douglas-Mann

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether he will set up an inquiry into relations between the police and the black community in Notting Hill.

16. Mr. Arthur Davidson

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if, in view of Judge Edward Clarke's remarks as presiding judge at the Mangrave trial that there was evidence of racial hatred on both sides, he will institute an inquiry into relations between the police and coloured citizens.

Mr. Maudling

I am still considering a very detailed report which I have received from the Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis. The Select Committee on Race Relations and Immigration, which is inquiring into relations between the police and coloured people, will be visiting Notting Hill shortly.

Mr. Douglas-Mann

I welcome the indication given by the Home Secretary that he will review the situation after he has the Select Committee's Report. Would he take note of the fact that a very large body of moderate opinion, both in the area and outside it, feels that an inquiry of the kind requested in the Question is absolutely essential; that there is a danger of racial violence in the area which has not existed for many years; that the acquittals in the Mangrave case raise a strong inference that a number of police officers were lying in concert and that, with the connivance of senior officers, they have been responsible for persecution of particularly articulate black people in the area; that this is only an inference and that, as the current issue of the Police Journal makes clear—[HON. MEMBERS: "Too long."]—only such an inquiry will clear the imputations which have been raised against the police officers concerned—

Mr. Speaker

Order. There must be a limit to the length of supplementary questions.

Mr. Maudling

I do not in any way accept the imputations based on the result of that particular case. I do not think it would be wise for me in an answer this afternoon to go further than to say what I have already said. I am considering the detailed report.

Mr. Davidson

In view of the unusually strong words used by the judge in what in itself was a disturbing trial, does not the Home Secretary think that it is in the interests both of the police and of the coloured community that there should be an immediate inquiry into these allegations in case there has been some sort of breakdown in communications on both sides leading to a serious crisis of confidence?

Mr. Maudling

If I were persuaded that an inquiry of that kind would be of service, I would proceed to one. I am not sure that I am persuaded at present.

Mrs. Knight

Would my right hon. Friend agree that as long ago as last October it was decided that the Select Committee should look into these matters and that it is doing so in a very searching manner?

Mr. Maudling

Yes, and I think that its visit will be valuable.

Mrs. Shirley Williams

I welcome the visit of the Select Committee. I am sure the right hon. Gentleman will appreciate that he has a special responsibility for good relations between the Metropolitan police and the coloured community. In view of the serious rumours which are circulating in Notting Hill, will he seriously consider whether, following his study of the report, an inquiry in this case might be highly desirable?

Mr. Maudling

May I first welcome the hon. Lady in her new capacity on the Front Bench. Certainly I will consider proposals. What I am concerned about is to see that community relations in this area not only are good, but are known and recognised to be good.