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.
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?
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.
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?
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.