§ 18. Mr. Wallace
asked the Secretary of State for Energy what discussions he has had with the chairman of the National Coal Board relating to the mass picketing of collieries.
§ Mr. Peter Walker
I deeply regret the scenes of violence and intimidation that have occurred on the picket lines as a result of the activities of a minority of extremists. The Government remain determined to prevent the advent of mob rule and to maintain the rule of the law.
§ Mr. Wallace
Given that it is now clear that the Government are directly intervening in the dispute, and given the Secretary of State's determination that the rule of law should prevail, has he given advice to the chairman of the National Coal Board to make use of the civil procedure along the lines of the legislation introduced by his Government, which they boasted would be so efficient for dealing with such situations?
§ Mr. Walker
I can give no specific advice on that matter, but I repeat that the scenes that we have seen on picket lines are not a matter for civil law but are matters for the type of actions already being taken by the police.
§ Dr. Mawhinney
Is my right hon. Friend aware that some days ago I visited my constituents serving with the Cambridgeshire police force in Derbyshire? Does he accept that I was very impressed by their restraint, common sense and professionalism in doing their job, and that that is the view of the vast majority of my constituents, except some Labour district councillors?
§ Mr. Walker
Yes, Sir. It is also the view of the steel workers, the power workers, and many miners throughout the country that if it had not been for the proper and courageous action of the police they would have been prevented from exercising their basic right and freedom to go to work.