HC Deb 27 June 1974 vol 875 cc1720-1
Q2. Mr. Farr

asked the Prime Minister if he will institute arrangements for cooperation between the Ministry of Defence and the Home Office in relation to the purchase of weapons and crowd control equipment.

The Prime Minister

The services with which these two Departments are concerned have very different functions. But arrangements for co-operation already exist and I am satisfied that they are adequate.

Mr. Farr

In view of the recent incidents in London, particularly the incident in Red Lion Square, a fortnight ago—which was contained by the police only at great personal bodily risk, and in which 39 police were injured—may I ask the right hon. Gentleman whether discussions have taken place about the introduction of more sophisticated crowd control equipment, such as, for instance, making water cannon available for use when needed?

The Prime Minister

I am aware of the hon. Gentleman's concern in this matter. As for the Red Lion Square incident, my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary has announced that there will be an inquiry into all the events that took place there on 15th June. The question raised by the hon. Gentleman, whether in the Red Lion Square context or any other, does not, I think, relate to his Question about co-ordination in the purchase of equipment.

Mr. Ford

Is my right hon. Friend aware that the Home Office appears to be badly in need of advice on weapons purchasing policy from, for instance, a central advisory committee on firearms control? Is he further aware that I have been told by the Home Office that 9 mm. Parabellum ammunition for hand guns has too high a velocity for approval but that, on the other hand, the Home Office appears to have approved the purchase of 7.62 mm. rifles for the civilian police force, which use ammunition with a much higher penetrating power than is required for normal police use?

The Prime Minister

I shall refer the matter to my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary. As my hon. Friend is in touch with the Home Office, I am sure that the specialist and esoteric information he has given to the House this afternoon will be conveyed personally by him to my right hon. Friend.