HC Deb 10 December 1928 vol 223 cc1729-30W
Commander BELLAIRS

asked the Home Secretary whether he is aware that there is some misconception as to his authority over the police outside the London area; and, in view of the drastic action taken by certain chief constables against whist drives, lotteries, etc., for hospitals and charities, whether he has issued any advisory circulars of any kind on these matters?


I do not think there ought to be any misconception. It has often been explained that the Secretary of State has no direct authority over the action of the police outside the Metropolis except that, if the discipline and efficiency of a force cannot be certified, the Exchequer contribution can be withheld. In other matters, however, he may make his views known and chief constables in their discretion commonly act upon those views. As regards the second part of the question, public lotteries are definitely illegal, the law making no distinction regarding the purposes for which they are held, and, when my attention is called to a public lottery, I am, of course, bound to bring it to the notice of the chief officer of police concerned, who usually gives a warning and does not prosecute unless the warning is disregarded. This cannot be called drastic action on the part of the police. I have issued no special circular on this subject. As regards whist drives, the position is conveniently explained in a circular, issued to the police on 18th June, 1928, which sets out questions asked and answers given in this House. As this document is rather long, I will, with my hon. and gallant Friend's permission, send him a copy instead of stating its contents in full.