Police Services (Questions to Ministers)

Oral Answers to Questions — Home Department – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 9th April 1959.

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Photo of Mr Frank Allaun Mr Frank Allaun , Salford East 12:00 am, 9th April 1959

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will introduce legislation to enable him to take full responsibility for police matters outside the Metropolitan area which involve national policy, thus permitting Questions to be put to him in Parliament on these issues.

Photo of Mr R.A. Butler Mr R.A. Butler , Saffron Walden

No, Sir. An essential feature of our police service is that it is organized and controlled on a local basis.

Photo of Mr Frank Allaun Mr Frank Allaun , Salford East

Is the Home Secretary aware that in Salford, Bradford and four other places that we know of the local police, clearly acting upon national instructions, photographed anti-H-bomb marchers, and that we were prevented from raising the question in this House?

Photo of Mr R.A. Butler Mr R.A. Butler , Saffron Walden

I would not accept that they were clearly acting under national instructions. I have always respected the view that the local police, in so far as they are under the control of watch committees or local authorities, are not under my control—except to the extent that they receive a grant from the central Government.

Photo of Mr Patrick Gordon Walker Mr Patrick Gordon Walker , Smethwick

Would not the right hon. Gentleman agree that there is a general problem here which needs some thought? Is it not anomalous that we can ask Questions in this House about the Metropolitan Police without infringing or reducing their independence in any way, but cannot ask any Question about police actions in any other part of the country? This seems to be an anomalous situation.

Photo of Mr R.A. Butler Mr R.A. Butler , Saffron Walden

Yes, but it is a situation that has been respected by my predecessors, of whichever Government; it would be undesirable for our police to be centralized.