Mr Richard Sharples: As the hon. Gentleman knows, we have had a considerable amount of correspondence about the crossing. The survey report is being made to the Metropolitan Police and I will write to the hon. Gentleman and inform him immediately the result of the survey is known.
Mr Richard Sharples: The Working Party on Internal Shop Security is still taking evidence and is unlikely to report for some time.
Mr Richard Sharples: Yes. That is why the working party has been set up to carry out the study. I know that a great deal of work has been done in Bristol where an interesting symposium was held.
Mr Richard Sharples: Yes. One result which I hope will emerge from the working party's study is that some of the temptations to people to shoplift will be removed.
Mr Richard Sharples: I have nothing at present to add to the reply given to a Question by the hon. Member for Nuneaton (Mr. Leslie Huckfield) on 22nd November.—[Vol. 826, c. 290.]
Mr Richard Sharples: Yes, I am well aware of the feeling about this matter. It is not a simple question to resolve. We want to ensure that those who need the register for genuine purposes are able to obtain it without too much difficulty. We have to try to maintain a balance.
Mr Richard Sharples: As I have said, this is not an easy problem. It is not easy for local authorities to check the bona fides of all people requiring the register. We are looking at this problem very carefully but I do not see an easy solution to it.
Mr Richard Sharples: The Act will first be applied to hotels and boarding houses. My right hon Friend hopes to make the necessary orders in the next few weeks. The Central Fire Brigades Advisory Councils are considering which classes of premises should next be brought under control.
Mr Richard Sharples: The considerations advanced by my hon. Friend will be taken into account by the Central Fire Brigades Advisory Councils. Although there are a large number of fires in schools in which property is damaged, fortunately the number of casualties is very small.
Mr Richard Sharples: Yes, I will certainly consider the hon. Gentleman's sugestion.
Mr Richard Sharples: In 1970, the latest year for which statistics are available, 4,481 persons aged 18 and under 22 were proceeded against in England and Wales for offences under the Dangerous Drugs Acts, 1965 and 1967, or the Drugs (Prevention of Misuse) Act, 1964.
Mr Richard Sharples: This will be one of the functions of the Drugs Advisory Council which has just been set up. It was Parliament's decision that it should be given an educational as well as a preventive rôle. I hope that it will take into account what my hon. Friend has said.
Mr Richard Sharples: Tobacco may be dangerous but it is not illegal.
Mr Richard Sharples: There are few who would disagree with the constructive words with which the hon. Member for Hackney, Central (Mr. Clinton Davis) concluded his speech. But perhaps I might turn first to the speech of the hon. Member for Erith and Crayford (Mr. James Wellbeloved). He was good enough to let me know beforehand of the subject he intended to raise, and I am most grateful to him. Because of the...
Mr Richard Sharples: I am propounding the doctrine which was well understood by the Leader of the Opposition when he was Prime Minister. It is clearly understood, and has been by successive Governments, that matters affecting security are not discussed in public and are not discussed in this House.
Mr Richard Sharples: I am referring to matters raised by the hon. Member for Erith and Crayford which, if they were proved, presumably would come within the realm of the criminal law. It is well understood that these matters that the hon. Gentleman has raised come within the realm of the security of the State. That is per- fectly well understood in the House, and I do not intend to add to or subtract a word of...
Mr Richard Sharples: What I am saying is that my right hon. Friend answered a Question on this on 11th November. This was referred to by the hon. Gentleman. The Question was: …if he is satisfied that no officer of the Metropolitan Police has given assistance to agents of the South African Government engaged in the surveillance of residents of the United Kingdom; and if he will make a statement. My right hon....
Mr Richard Sharples: The hon. Gentleman knows, as does the hon. Member for Erith and Crayford—and I have not referred to this matter because the hon. Member for Erith and Crayford did not refer to it—that there was a constituency case of his, to which the hon. Member did not refer, and I do not intend to go into the details of that.
Mr Richard Sharples: No. It is as I said. The hon. Member for Erith and Crayford has said that he will put forward the evidence upon which he has based his statements, and that is absolutely correct. That is the right way to do it. If he has evidence which he believes of something wrong taking place, the right course for him, which he has adopted, is to give that evidence to the responsible authorities. I am...
Mr Richard Sharples: Certainly, in so far as they are threats to the security of this country, one condemns them. Those are security matters. I do not intend to say any more about that.