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Public Meetings (Disturbances)

Volume 148: debated on Wednesday 9 November 1921

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asked the Home Secretary what instructions have been issued to the police as to how they who deal with the Communist bands ho are organised to attend and break up, either by noise or methods of violence, meetings of law-abiding citizens in the metropolitan area; and is he aware of the danger of a grave breach of the peace should the audiences attending such meetings be compelled to take the law into their own hands and deal forcibly with their opponents?

Persons who disturb a public meeting so as to interfere with the business, whether Communists or others, are dealt with under the Public Meetings Act, 1908. If the meeting is held in a building the police can only enter when called upon to do so by the conveners or some responsible person to suppress breaches of the peace, to assist in ejecting offenders, and to obtain the names and addresses of persons behaving in contravention of the Act in order that proceedings may be taken against them. I am well aware of the difficulties to which the hon. and gallant Member refers, and can assure him that the police do all they can within their powers to prevent serious breaches of the peace.