Tuesday 2 June 2009

Freedom of Passage to the House of Parliament

Earl Ferrers will today ask Her Majesty’s Government "whether the House’s sessional order relating to the freedom of passage to the Houses of Parliament, made on 3 December 2008, has been fully implemented."

A similar question was asked in November 2000, when the Leader of the House replied -

"The Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police has accepted without qualification that it is the duty of the Metropolitan Police to implement in full the terms of the sessional order to ensure that passage through the streets leading to this House is kept clear and open for the duration of this Parliament.

While I recognise the right of individuals to demonstrate and to lobby their members of Parliament, I do not consider it acceptable to prevent noble Lords from performing their duties in this House.

I receive regular reports from Black Rod, and the Commissioner has assured me, through Black Rod, that his officers will do everything necessary to ensure that the business of both Houses of Parliament is not hindered by disturbances in the streets."

Sessional Orders are passed at the start of each session (after the Queen's Speech). A report on sessional orders was produced by the Commons Procedure Committee in 2003, and it deals with access to parliament. It is available at http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm200203/cmselect/cmproced/855/855.pdf

Recent demonstarations - particularly by Sri Lankans - where the roads around Westminster have been brought to a complete standstill - have led to much concern.