Disturbance, Westminster.

Oral Answers to Questions — Unemployment. – in the House of Commons on 14th September 1931.

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Photo of Mr Fenner Brockway Mr Fenner Brockway , Leyton East

32.

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether he can now stale the results of his inquiry into the action of the police in dealing with the unemployed section of the crowd outside the House of Commons last Tuesday; what is the estimate of the number of unemployed persons in the section of the crowd against whom action was taken; how many police were specially employed; what was the cost of the extra provision of police; and who was responsible for ordering the augmented force of police to be on duty?

Photo of Mr John McShane Mr John McShane , Walsall

33.

asked the Home Secretary whether he has yet appointed a committee of inquiry into the recent unemployed demonstration disturbance and, if so, the names of the personnel of the committee?

Photo of Mr Herbert Samuel Mr Herbert Samuel , Darwen

I have now made full inquiry into the incidents referred to. I had not contemplated the appointment of a committee of inquiry, and I did not suggest that course when the matter was under discussion in the House last Wednesday. The number of persons taking part in the demonstration is estimated to have been from 800 to 1,000. The number of police employed in the vicinity, apart from those engaged in connection with the flood-lighting display, was 230. No appreciable additional expenditure was involved. The decisions as to the number of police to be employed and the measures to be taken were made by the Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis. It was necessary, under the Sessional Order of this House, to keep the vicinity of Parliament free from obstruction, and as the demonstrators persisted in endeavouring to make their way into Parliament Square, the police were obliged to disperse them. I have no reason to believe that any excessive force was used. No specific instances have been alleged either to the police or to the Home Office, and there has been no response to the invitation which I gave on Wednesday that any hon. Members who had knowledge of such incidents should send me the particulars in order that investigation might be made.

Photo of Mr John McShane Mr John McShane , Walsall

Is the right hon. Gentleman satisfied with an inquiry which must necessarily rest entirely upon official statements: and would it not still be better to broaden the inquiry in order that others who actually saw what was going on should he enabled to give their views?

Photo of Mr Herbert Samuel Mr Herbert Samuel , Darwen

Public invitation was given by my remarks in the House, that anyone who had information to give should present it. No responses were made, and in those circumstances there is no material to be laid before the committee of inquiry.

Photo of Mr Carlyon Bellairs Mr Carlyon Bellairs , Maidstone

Can the right hon. Gentleman give the House any information as to who was responsible for organising the disturbance?

Photo of Mr Herbert Samuel Mr Herbert Samuel , Darwen

No, Sir. Various persons have appeared before the Court and one or two have had sentences imposed. We do not know who was actually responsible for the disorder.

Photo of Mr Oliver Locker-Lampson Mr Oliver Locker-Lampson , Birmingham Handsworth

Will the right hon. Gentleman congratulate the police after these unfounded aspersions upon their conduct?

Mr. ALLEN:

Is it not a fact that the left wing of this country does not know the first thing about making a row?