§ MR. JAMES ROWLANDS (Finsbury, E.)
I beg to ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether the police have instructions to prevent the holding of public meetings in the open air whether they create obstruction or not?
§ THE SECRETARY OF STATE FOR THE HOME DEPARTMENT (Mr. MATTHEWS,) Birmingham, E.
The police have received no such instructions as are suggested in the question. Their instructions are, speaking generally, to prevent obstructions in thoroughfares, to repress disorder, breaches of the peace, and unlawful assemblies, and to enforce the rules of the parks and open spaces of the Metropolis, and the regulations and directions of the Commissioners.
§ MR. J. ROWLANDS
Then I understand that when a meeting is held in an open space, and in no way interfering with the traffic in that locality, the police have no authority to interfere.
§ MR.. J. ROWLANDS
What does the right hon. Gentleman mean by a lawful assembly? [Cries of "Oh."] I only ask as to London; I do not refer to Ireland.
§ MR. MATTHEWS
The definition of a lawful assembly hardly comes within the compass of this question. It involves a great many points; but where there is no breach of the peace or obstruction, generally speaking, a meeting is lawful.