HC Deb 04 July 1985 vol 82 cc515-7
10. Mr. John Hunt

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department what recent meetings he has held with the Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis to discuss the likely impact of cash limits on policing in London; and if he will make a statement.

11. Mr. Peter Bruinvels

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department when he last met the Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis; and what matters were discussed.

Mr. Brittan

I last met the Commissioner on 1 July, when we discussed recent developments in relation to terrorism and the Metropolitan police cash limit.

Mr. Hunt

If, as we are told, the purpose of cash limits is to facilitate tax cuts in due course, will my right hon. and learned Friend take it from me that the great majority of my constituents would much prefer even more resources being devoted to the Metropolitan police and even better protection for their homes and families than a penny off the standard rate of income tax?

Mr. Brittan

The purpose of cash limits is not what my hon. Friend said it was. It is to ensure that people live within their means, whatever those means are. The question of the level of resources that should be made available is a different matter. As the House will know, the level of resources made available to the Metropolitan police is higher than it has ever been, and rightly so.

Mr. Bruinvels

Will my right hon. and learned Friend confirm that when he last met the Commissioner he found that morale in the Metropolitan police was extremely high, despite the carping and anti-police behaviour of the GLC police committee, which spends £1 million a year knocking the police all the time? Is it not a fact that the achievements of the Metropolitan police against terrorism have come about solely as a result of the police supporting the Prevention of Terrorism. Act, a measure which the Labour party never seems to have supported?

Mr. Brittan

My hon. Friend is entirely right, and I do not believe that the police are put off their job for a single moment by the activities and antics of the GLC, which we discussed at some length last Friday. I welcome again the opportunity to congratulate the Metropolitan police and all the other police forces involved on their successes of the last couple of weeks in the campaign against terrorism. The Prevention of Terrorism Act has an important role and I hope that when these matters come to be considered again the Opposition will come to a wiser conclusion than has been the case in the last couple of years.

Mr. Winnick

In view of the persistent abuse, racial and obscene remarks and disruption levelled at speakers at Hyde Park, and clearly organised by some members of the Young Conservative movement in Greater London— [Interruption.]—will Ministers, and particularly the Prime Minister, make it clear to those Conservative activists who have only contempt for free speech and fair play that they should not act like storm troopers?

Mr. Brittan

The hon. Gentleman's observations are a classic example of diversionary tactics brought about by his dislike of the fact that the GLC has been exposed for what it is.

Mr. Ian Lloyd

My right hon. and learned Friend will of course be aware by now of the considerable concern caused by the enunciation by a chief inspector at Heathrow of the rather strange doctrine that a jocular remark has now become a criminal offence. Has this matter been discussed with the Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis, either previously or when my right hon. and learned Friend last met him?

Mr. Brittan

I did not discuss this matter with the metropolitan Police Commissioner when I met him on 1 July, but I have to say to my hon. Friend and to the House that I do not think that jokes in relation to bombs and terrorism can or should be treated lightly.

Mr. John David Taylor

When the Home Secretary discussed terrorism with the Commissioner, did he discuss the bomb that was found recently in the Rubens hotel, and was the Commissioner able to advise the Home Secretary from which country the detonators and explosive came?

Mr. Brittan

The answer to the first question is that I did discuss that bomb. The answer to the second question is that I cannot say anything further without being in breach of the sub judice rule.

Mr. Bill Walker

When my right hon. and learned Friend next meets the Commissioner, will he thank him and all those who took part in the recent operations, and will he draw to his attention the fact that the Strathclyde police were able to——

Mr. Speaker

Order. I give the hon. Gentleman a warning. The question concerns London.

Mr. Bill Walker

Yes, Mr. Speaker. I refer to the police who were involved in all these operations. The point I am making is that the terrorists were arrested under powers contained in the Criminal Justice (Scotland) Act 1980.

Mr. Brittan

I think that my hon. Friend has in mind the fact that the Metropolitan police, in their recent operation, were working in co-operation with many other police forces. I would certainly be happy to specify in particular the Strathclyde force as one that played an extremely important part in the operation.