HL Deb 15 May 1906 vol 157 cc333-4

My Lords, I rise to ask His Majesty's Government whether it was with the knowledge and approval of the Home Office that a banner inscribed "Work or Riot" was carried through the streets at the head of the unemployed procession on Monday. It appears to me, and I think it will appear also to your Lordships, that it is neither right nor prudent that such a banner, bearing an incitement to a breach of the peace, should be allowed to be carried through the streets of London. I quite appreciate the fact that these processions and the speeches which are made at the meetings are regarded as a useful kind of safety valve. Wild words which may be spoken before a few hundred idlers in Hyde Park may, however, do little harm, but a seditious banner carried through the streets with the apparent sanction of the authorities, and which may be read by thousands of people, may be productive of great mischief. It is clear that the authorities did not regard this procession with indifference, since yesterday a very large force of police were drafted into the West End. It seems curious that this force should have been employed while a banner inciting to riot was allowed to be carried. I have great sympathy with the genuine unemployed, but it was clear that the procession in question consisted for the most part of the unemployable, public-house loafers and members of the criminal classes. I trust that in the interests of the public safety the Government will see that in future no banners of a seditious or inflammatory character are allowed.


My Lords, it is true that such a banner as the noble Lord has described was carried in yesterday's procession. Both the procession and the meeting, however, were perfectly orderly, and no necessity for intervention arose. The Homo Office had no previous notice of the matter, and were, therefore, unable to take any stops. I venture to think that the noble Lord's melancholy prognostications as to the future are not likely to come true.


I should like an Answer to the Question whether the Government will in future endeavour to see that such banners are not carried in processions.

[No Answer was returned.]

House adjourned at twenty minutes before Seven o'clock, to Thursday next, half-past Ten o'clock.