§ 12. Mr. Andrew F. Bennett
asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether he will call for a report from the chief constable of Manchester on his response to the independent inquiry panel report on the policing of the then Home Secretary's visit to Manchester university on 1 March.
§ Mr. Giles Shaw
It would not be right for me to comment, or take any other action, until the investigation being conducted by the deputy chief constable of South Wales has been completed and the results have been considered by the Police Complaints Authority and, if appropriate, the Director of Public Prosecutions.
§ Mr. Bennett
Does the Minister agree that it was extremely arrogant of the chief constable not to agree to a proper public inquiry into the principles involved in the policing of that incident, and that it was particularly arrogant of him to refuse to co-operate with the inquiry that was set up or to comment on the serious allegations that were made? Is it not clear that inquiries by the Police Complaints Authority can have little credibility when it has taken it so long to come forward with any information at all?
§ Mr. Shaw
It is anything but arrogant for the chief constable of Greater Manchester police to take note of the fact that the provisions of part IX of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act are in force and that he should, therefore, comply with the decision of the Police Complaints Authority to investigate police complaints in accordance with the Act. That seems to be a wholly appropriate step for him to take.
§ Mr. Favell
Is my hon. Friend aware of a leaflet, of which a sponsor was the Labour party, circulating in the union at Manchester before the Home Secretary's visit, exhorting members toStop Leon Brittan from speaking in our union on Friday 1st March: meet on the union steps at 6.30 pm for a mass picket to keep him out"?On the back, the leaflet said; "Paint him red!", as they did to the Secretary for State for Defence. Is my hon. Friend proposing to help the Labour party make Manchester university a no-go area for anyone holding views different from themselves?
§ Mr. Shaw
I am grateful for my hon. Friend's comments. Hon. Members might care to note that in the case to which the hon. Member for Denton and Reddish (Mr. Bennett) drew attention there was a major police presence, but when the Minister of State paid a visit he deliberately required that there be no such police presence and he was forcibly prevented from addressing the students' union in that university. Is it not an astonishing fact that the freedom of speech that we cherish so greatly in the House is not available in the University of Manchester?