Skip to main content

Grunwick Processing Laboratories Limited

Volume 933: debated on Monday 13 June 1977

The text on this page has been created from Hansard archive content, it may contain typographical errors.

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. It was my intention to raise with you, under Standing Order No. 9, the question of the arrest of pickets this morning at the premises of Grunwick Processing Laboratories Limited arising out of a long industrial dispute. Since then I have received a note from your Secretary which indicates that men have been charged and that the matter is, therefore, sub judice.

As I take the view that a serious situation has been precipitated by the action of the police this morning and that the only way in which that matter will be ameliorated is by some action in the House, can you tell me whether your ruling applies also to putting down a Private Notice Question tomorrow or to a statement by the Home Secretary to indicate why it was that the police intervened in the way that they did?

I understand that the people concerned have already been charged and will have to appear in court. The matter clearly is sub judice and cannot be discussed here as long as those people are waiting for their cases to be heard.

Further to that point of order, Mr. Speaker. It is with some diffi- culty that I have just arrived here from the factory in question. I understand your ruling perfectly clearly, but can you give further advice on this matter? On television last night background cases were discussed and, therefore, whilst this matter is sub judice, there is an explosive situation in my constituency. Would it be in order for me to see you or your Office privately to find out what protection the House can give in this kind of situation where, for the rest of this week, there are likely to be further problems in my constituency?

The hon. Member knows—as does the House—that I am always willing to see hon. Members to discuss their difficulties, but it is clear to me that this matter is sub judice, and I therefore cannot allow it to be discussed.

Further to that point of order, Mr. Speaker. Will you confirm that in 1972 the House amended its sub judice rule in such a way as to make it clear that where a matter of grave national importance existed it was within your discretion to allow matters which would otherwise not be discussed in this House to be raised even though they were technically sub judice? I am making the plea that when you have these little meetings with people today or tomorrow you will bear that possibility in mind, because on a first reading of the resolution passed by the House I should have thought that that gave you a certain latitude in this case.

Further to that point of order, Mr. Speaker. You will recall that one of your predecessors established a precedent for this. During a strike in the coal industry, when I and others received information on the telephone, in some cases from places as far as 160 miles from London, it was ruled that we could raise matters with the Home Secretary of the day on that very afternoon concerning certain incidents that had occurred. The right hon. Gentleman who was then the Home Secretary is now sitting on the Opposition Front Bench. I submit that between today and tomorrow you should respectfully and carefully consider whether, under this precedent, we should be entitled to raise questions tomorrow on this dispute.

I shall, of course, give careful attention to what both hon. Members have said, but my ruling for today must stand.


On a point of order. I seek your advice, Mr. Speaker—and I do not want to raise again points of order with which you have already dealt. Can you advise me on the general situation in any part of the country where the police may have prevented lawful picketing but where there happens to be a case in point? What way have I of raising the general point? Is this a matter of interpretation of the law which I should raise with the appropriate Law Officers or are there some other means whereby the general point relating to interference with peaceful picketing, wherever it may be in the country, can be raised in this Chamber?

The hon. Gentleman has long experience in the House. He knows as much as I do about the various means open to him. However, what I am sure of is that we cannot discuss a matter which is sub judice.