§ 50. Commander MARSDEN
asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many of the men charged in the disturbances over the week-end belonged to the hunger-marchers visiting London?
§ The SECRETARY of STATE for the HOME DEPARTMENT (Sir John Gilmour)
In connection with the disorders on 27th and 30th October, five men belonging to one or other of the contingents visiting London have been charged.
§ Mr. LANSBURY
(by Private Notice) asked the Home Secretary whether he has any statement to make concerning the disturbances in Whitehall last night?
§ Sir J. GILMOUR
The demonstration yesterday was organised by the National Unemployed Workers Movement in support of the petition which the movement had announced their intention of presenting to Parliament at any cost. Meetings were arranged in about 10 parts of the Metropolis, and a mass demonstration was held at Clerkenwell Green, from which it was proposed to send a deputation to the House of Commons. These meetings broke up, in accordance with pre-arranged plans, into small parties and proceeded to Parliament Square and the vicinity. Parliament Square was cleared by the police and a large crowd then assembled in Trafalgar Square and around Charing Cross. Around Charing Cross the crowd became disorderly and it was necessary for the police to draw their truncheons to disperse the crowd. The difficulty in clearing Trafalgar Square was increased by the arrival of demonstrators who came in small parties from Clerkenwell Green. In all about 3,000 persons were present in the Square and they became disorderly. Five windows were smashed, but the police drew their batons and restored order, a number of arrests being made. Later, 1785 more of the disorderly element returned to the Square and it was again necessary to disperse them, but this was done without batons being used, some further arrests being made.
At about 7 p.m. an attempt was made by small groups of demonstrators on the south side of Westminster Bridge to cross the bridge; they were turned back. Shortly after 9 p.m. a crowd began to collect about Westminster Bridge, and the bridge was cleared. Some damage was done to shop windows and iron railings in Lower Marsh, Westminster Bridge Road, and Belvedere Road. The windows of seven premises in the vicinity of Gray's Inn Road and Holborn were also damaged. Earlier in the evening a small party of demonstrators which was about to become disorderly in Edgware Road was dispersed by the police without difficulty, and later on four arrests were made in Praed Street. Forty-one arrests were made in all. Twelve police officers were injured, none seriously, and 32 other persons. As on previous occasions, despite the appeal of the Commissioner of Police, the work of the police was increased by the presence of large numbers of spectators.
§ Sir J. GILMOUR
I think that the House and the country realise the iniquity of these proceedings and we will consider any means by which we can bring them to an end.
§ Mr. MAXTON
Will the right hon. Gentleman consider advising his Government to relieve the necessities of the unemployed in order to save these disturbances?
§ Sir J. GILMOUR
I should think that it is obvious that those who were responsible for bringing these people here should get them back again.
§ Mr. KIRKWOOD
Is not the right hon. Gentleman aware that these individuals have a real grievance and that they are 1786 expressing it. Now that they are in gaol and, according to his own report, that very little or no damage has been done, and no one has been seriously injured, will not this great, powerful Government extend the hand of friendship?