§ 4. Mr. Bidwell
asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will call for a report from the chief constable of Sussex concerning the commandeering of a Southdown bus by police in Brighton on Tuesday 13 March to take peace movement demonstrators to the local police station; and if he will make a statement.
§ The Minister of State, Home Office (Mr. David Waddington)
No bus was commandeered. On 13 March, 25 people sat down in Preston road, Brighton, bringing traffic to a halt. Police officers arriving on foot or by motor cycle arrested 11 people, but no police vehicle was able to reach the scene. The driver of a nearby bus readily agree'! to carry the people arrested to a police station.
§ Mr. Bidwell
Is the hon. and learned Gentleman aware that the Transport and General Workers Union, by whom I am sponsored, and the busworkers are gravely concerned about the possible use of public vehicles for police purposes. Will he, as legal person, consider the propensity of bus men to suffer injuries and to be involved in actions against the police for false arrest.
§ Mr. Waddington
One must get one's priorities right. This is a good example of the way in which the vast majority of people are prepared to afford every assistance to the police in carrying out their duties. The bus driver was willing to help the police, as I expect every reasonable bus driver would do.
§ Mr. Stanbrook
Will my hon. and learned Friend not take this question too seriously? Would not the hon. Member for Ealing, Southall (Mr. Bidwell) have been even more upset if the demonstrators had been required to walk?
§ Mr. Waddington
That may be so. Clearly, one must not take this question too seriously. This was a potentially serious matter, because the entrance to the fire station was blocked.