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Public Buildings And Installations (Security)

Volume 892: debated on Wednesday 14 May 1975

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asked the Secretary of State for Scotland if he is satisfied with the security of public buildings and installations in Scotland.

Responsibility for the security of public buildings, as of private property, normally lies with the owner or occupier. The police are always ready to assist and in consultation with those concerned with premises subject to particular threats have prepared appropriate contingency plans. Suitable arrangements have been made for the security of those buildings for which I am responsible.

I appreciate that there are matters presently sub judice. In view of the regretted spread to Scotland of robbery and violence for the attainment of political objectives, which inevitably accompanies nationalism, will the hon. Gentleman make plans for the protection of life, limb and property in view of this infectious manifestation?

As I explained, we are satisfied that the contingency plans which have already been made for buildings which are subjected to particular potential threats are adequate to meet any threat that anyone may attempt to carry out. Therefore, while I recognise the concern on this point, we consider that the present plans are adequate for the situation we face.

Does my hon. Friend agree that it is very dangerous to exaggerate the supposed latent potential for political violence in Scottish society? Will he take this opportunity to tell everyone in Scotland that there is absolutely no need for anyone to turn to violent action for political ends, because there is an abundance of democratic avenues open to everyone, of every political view, in Scotland?

I am most anxious that nothing said in the House or elsewhere should inflame a potentially highly inflammable situation. My hon. Friend's message is admirable, that there is no need for anyone of any connection or persuasion to resort to violence to achieve political ends. There are adequate democratic means to achieve them.

Does the hon. Gentleman agree with what I think most citizens would accept, that crime is objectionable whether it is political or nonpolitical, and that the best way of beating crime of any sort is to ensure that we have a strong police force? Will he therefore accept that there is a need to increase the remuneration of the police so as to recruit more people to the forces of law and order?

As I said, I am most anxious not to say anything that would inflame any inflammable situation. That applies equally to police pay as to the subject of the original Question.

Does the Minister agree that the Government's measures for the protection of oil installations, whether onshore or offshore, are at the moment almost ludicrously inadequate, and that this applies most strongly to onshore installations because they are more vulnerable? Will he therefore consider setting up a committee to make use of the considerable expertise which already exists in Scotland to assess properly the threat to onshore installations and to advise how best they may be protected?

The protection of onshore installations is the responsibility of my Department, through the police. The protection of offshore installations is the responsibility of the Department of Trade. I am satisfied that, so far as my Department is concerned, the protection of onshore establishments is adequately covered, although obviously we keep the matter under continuous review.