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Cs Gas

Volume 32: debated on Thursday 18 November 1982

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asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department what further consideration he has given to the requests for a public inquiry into the use of CS gas during the Toxteth riots in July 1981.

I remain of the view that it would not be proper to institute such an inquiry. Civil proceedings are pending against the police on the part of three people injured by CS projectiles, and the matters are therefore sub judice.

In view of the grave anxiety that is felt on Merseyside and the call for a public inquiry, which is supported by the Liverpool city council, the Liverpool trades council, the Merseyside police committee, trade unions and many right hon. and hon. Members, in order to allay public disquiet and refute any claims of a cover up, will the Home Secretary reconsider the decision, bearing in mind the recent well-documented report in the New Statesman?

I appreciate what the hon. Gentleman says about feelings on Merseyside, but I remain of the view that to establish an inquiry now would only prejudice the civil proceedings, and it would be wrong to do that.

Order. The House has heard that this matter is sub judice, or at least the use of it previously was sub judice. If that can be avoided, I shall call another question.

As CS gas was used in Toxteth last year in defiance of the guidelines that were laid down by the right hon. Gentleman's predecessor in a statement to the House on 20 May 1965, what confidence does the Home Secretary have that his new guidelines will not also be defied? In view of the scale of the injuries caused by the use of Ferret cartridges on that occasion, will the right hon. Gentleman now ban its use and the use of CS gas in all circumstances on the British mainland?

We have issued the new guidelines, and I have every confidence that they will be respected. It was realised that the use of Ferret cartridges on that occasion was a mistake, and that has been accepted.