R.A.F. Station, St. Mawgan (Demonstration)

Oral Answers to Questions — Defence – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 3 December 1969.

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Photo of Mr John Pardoe Mr John Pardoe , North Cornwall 12:00, 3 December 1969

asked the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a statement about the demonstration held at the Royal Air Force, St. Mawgan, on 14th August, 1969.

Photo of Mr Roy Hattersley Mr Roy Hattersley , Birmingham Sparkbrook

During the afternoon of 14th August, 1969, whilst my right hon. Friends the Prime Minister and the Secretary of State for the Home Department were meeting at R.A.F. St. Mawgan to discuss the situation in Northern Ireland, a group of about 35 persons, carrying placards and shouting slogans, attempted to reach the building in which the meeting was being held. They were stopped by R.A.F. personnel before reaching the building and later left after being advised to do so by the civil police. The demonstration was non-violent; no arrests were made and no charges preferred.

Photo of Mr John Pardoe Mr John Pardoe , North Cornwall

I thank the hon. Gentleman for that reply. I do not deny the possible beneficial effects of anarchist demonstrations on the Prime Minister, but does not the hon. Gentleman agree that, in view of the wish of the Prime Minister and the Home Secretary to confer about a national emergency, it would have been better to ensure that the demonstrators did not actually get to the building inside the perimeter of the R.A.F. station?

Photo of Mr Roy Hattersley Mr Roy Hattersley , Birmingham Sparkbrook

I have no doubt that we were right to use the absolute minimum of force towards these demonstrators, and they were turned back, if not amicably, peaceably. I hope that in future circumstances will not make it necessary for the Home Secretary and the Prime Minister to meet within a few miles of an international conference of anarchists.