§ 12. Mr. Canavan
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether he will call for a report from the Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis about the conduct of the police in the area around the Houses of Parliament and Whitehall during the demonstration in support of the National Health Service on 3 February; and if he will make a statement.
§ Mr. Douglas Hogg
I understand from the commissioner that the actions of the police on 3 February were taken in pursuance of his general duty to ensure the free passage of the highway and the requirement placed on him by sessional orders to keep the streets leading to the House free and open.
§ Mr. Canavan
Will the Minister investigate reports that people who took part in what had been a fairly peaceful demonstration, including some young nurses in uniform, were jostled, punched and kicked by policemen, some of whom behaved like animals? Does the Minister realise that nurses and Health Service workers would not have had to take to the streets if the Government had given them the same generous pay increases as they have handed out to the police in recent years?
§ Mr. Hogg
That question is typical of the Labour party in that it is a discreditable one. No complaint has been made against the police. It is interesting to note that only four were persons arrested, and of them only one was a nurse. What is intolerable is that the Labour party assists in the passing of these sessional orders and then complains when they are operated in a fair and reasonable manner.
§ Mr. Bill Walker
When my hon. Friend meets the Commissioner of Police, will he convey our thanks for the splendid job that the police carry out every time the House sits, for the protection that we receive from them, for their courtesy and for the fact that they handle all the demonstrations that take place with the kindness and diligence that we expect of them?
§ Mr. Heffer
Although the Minister appears to be satisfied in respect of the National Health Service demonstration, is he satisfied with what happened to the Christians—priests, nuns, laity and monks—who went to the Ministry of Defence yesterday and were arrested because they took the decision—[Interruption.]