Non-toxic Tear Gas

Oral Answers to Questions — Scotland – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 14th July 1965.

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Photo of Mr Jon Rankin Mr Jon Rankin , Glasgow Govan 12:00 am, 14th July 1965

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland if he will call for reports from chief constables as to the extent to which they are equipped to use non-lethal gas in an emergency.

Photo of Mr James Dempsey Mr James Dempsey , Coatbridge and Airdrie

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland if he will call for reports from chief constables on the extent to which the police are trained in the use of tear gas.

Photo of Mr William Ross Mr William Ross , Kilmarnock

Arrangements are being made to supply police forces in Scotland with non-toxic tear smoke for use in the circumstances outlined by my right hon. and learned Friend the Home Secretary in replying to a Question by my hon. Friend on 20th May. Chief constables who wish to make arrangements for practical training are being advised to seek the assistance of local military commanders.

Photo of Mr Jon Rankin Mr Jon Rankin , Glasgow Govan

Could my right hon. Friend make clear whether there will be limitations on the use of this gas? Will he also say whether there will be safeguards for innocent persons who may be in the area? Can he assure us that this non-lethal gas will carry no toxic constituents?

Photo of Mr William Ross Mr William Ross , Kilmarnock

My hon. Friend is quite right to be concerned about this as affecting the public. It must be remembered that it is for the protection of the public that this substance is being introduced. I give my hon. Friend the assurance that the gas would be used for dealing with armed criminals or insane persons when failure to use it might itself endanger someone else's life. I understand that there are no lasting harmful effects from its use. Notes and guidance will be issued to chief constable about its effects and on how it should be used. I give my hon. Friend the pledge that there will be strict limitations.

Photo of Mr James Dempsey Mr James Dempsey , Coatbridge and Airdrie

Although we are all very concerned to ensure that there should be adequate safeguards, this will be an effective method of dealing with the gun-toting gangsters who in true Western style are brandishing guns today in the face of Scottish policemen. Will it be equally effective with the hooligan gang warfare which is spreading fear and alarm throughout the community? Is my right hon. Friend satisfied that chief constables will have full power to use this method for the effective maintenance of law in the circumstances he has mentioned?

Photo of Mr William Ross Mr William Ross , Kilmarnock

I have already said that chief constables will have full power to use it in the strict circumstances I have outlined. I am sure that it will be effective. It will certainly prevent the destruction of life by those against whom it is used.