HC Deb 29 June 1972 vol 839 cc1651-2
23. Mr. Winterton

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department by what authority he has given instructions to the police in Manchester not to inter- vene in a case of illegal trespass in an industrial dispute in a factory in that area, the name of which has been sent to him.

Mr. Maudling

I have no authority to give such instructions and have given none.

Mr. Winterton

While thanking my right hon. Friend for that reply may I ask whether he is aware that in the incident in question the three persons who entered the factory were members of the International Socialists, a body with an alien philosophy, and that they apparently entered that factory at the invitation of a factory convener, a self-confessed Communist? Would my right hon. Friend agree that any restrictions placed on the police acting in instances of this sort cannot help either responsible trade unionists or responsible management to achieve harmonious industrial relations?

Mr. Maudling

I must make it clear that no restrictions are placed or can be placed on the police in enforcing the law.

Mr. Kaufman

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that in the Manchester area there is at the moment great bitterness among the workers which is being manifested, for example, by sit-ins? Is he aware that if the police were in any way to become involved in this situation it would exacerbate that bitterness because of the strong feeling in our area about Government policies which are bringing this situation about?

Mr. Maudling

I will not enter into the question of Government policies. What I should say is that in problems of this kind the police have to act with very great discretion and I think they handle these problems with extraordinary tact and skill. They should be allowed to get on with their job as they do it by and large pretty well.

Mr. Rose

Would the right hon. Gentleman agree that the Question, by prejudging and stating that a criminal offence has been committed where none has been charged, is far from helpful and can only make the situation a great deal worse?

Mr. Maudling

I am not sure whether the word "illegal" necessarily means criminal. It might mean a civil offence, which could well be involved.