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Detained Persons (Police Questioning)

Volume 465: debated on Thursday 26 May 1949

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asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether he has considered a letter dated 21st July, 1948, and several reminders, from the Worshipful Company of Solicitors with regard to the procedure applied to persons being held for questioning by the police; and when he is proposing to reply.

I have sent to my hon. Friend a copy of the reply sent to the Worshipful Company of Solicitors on the 20th instant.

In view of the extraordinary delay of nearly a year in answering a relatively simple question on a matter of considerable importance, could the Home Secretary assure the House that there has been no change in the procedure of the police regarding persons held for questioning and that they are still told that they can decline to answer questions and can have the assistance of a friend or legal representative if they so desire?

I regret the delay that occurred, and I apologise for it to the hon. Member and to the Worshipful Company of Solicitors. The answer to the second part of my hon. Friend's supplementary question is that no alteration in the procedure has been made.

Will my right hon. Friend make it perfectly clear that nobody in this country, police or anybody else, has any right to hold or detain anybody unless he is prepared to make a charge?

I would rather not express, in reply to my hon. Friend, an opinion on a legal matter.