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Clause 9. — (Interpretation, etc.)

Clause 4 (Prohibition of offensive weapons at public, meetings and processions), ordered to stand part of the Bill. – in the House of Commons on 26th November 1936.

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Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Clause stand part of the Bill."

11.23 p.m.

Photo of Mr Campbell Stephen Mr Campbell Stephen , Glasgow Camlachie

I notice that there is no interpretation of the phrase "usurping the functions of the police" in Clause 2. Should there not be an interpretation?

11.24 p.m.

Photo of Mr Thomas Cooper Mr Thomas Cooper , Edinburgh West

I am bound to say that it had not occurred to me until the hon. Member raised the point that the expression '"usurping the functions of the police" was in any sense a technical term or would require statutory definition. I am not going to traverse the arguments which the Committee has already heard, nor am I going to attempt, without a moment's consideration, to draft a definition of the phrase. I am confident that the Committee is sufficiently appreciative of the idea involved in these words as to know precisely what they mean. Speaking without consideration, I would say that an organisation which was trained to usurp the functions of the police was attempting to discharge duties which are, according to our constitution, the duties of the police. Certain instruments of force must be employed in any civilised Government if order and law are to be preserved. The appropriate instruments of law and order are the police under normal circumstances and the military forces in abnormal circumstances. The idea underlying the prohibition in Clause 2 is that no private citizens or organisations of private citizens are to be entitled to constitute themselves the instruments of force for that purpose.