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Procession (Route)

Volume 466: debated on Thursday 7 July 1949

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asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department on what grounds, at whose request and by what power did the Commissioner of Police change the route of the demonstration from Hyde Park to Grosvenor Square on Sunday, 3rd July.

I am informed that the Commissioner of Police received no request from anyone to change the route in question. He decided to exercise his powers under subsection (1) of Section 3 of the Public Order Act, 1936, to impose conditions as to the route because he had reasonable grounds for apprehending serious public disorder if the route proposed were followed.

Why is it that in this particular case the Commissioner of Police used these powers; and why is it that when the Fascists intended to demonstrate in East London, and the local citizens protested through their mayors, the Commissioner of Police could not use the same powers?

On the last occasion when there was some trouble during a march of Fascists, it may be recalled that the police in fact did vary the route, and it excited some anger on the part of friends of the hon. Member and they stoned the police as a consequence. On this occasion it was felt, in view of what happened on 1st May, that it would be unwise for this procession to follow the route originally planned. Serious difficulties and disorders did occur in that neighbourhood in connection with people associated with this procession, and it was felt unwise to give them an opportunity of repeating that.

Will the Home Secretary allow at least as much freedom to Communists to demonstrate in London against the British or American Government as would be allowed in any demonstration which might take place in Moscow against the Moscow Government?