CONSERVATIVE
New Forest East

LEADER OF THE HOUSE/HOC COMMISSION – HARASSMENT AT THE ENTRANCES TO PARLIAMENT [62245] – 18 June 2020

Dr Julian Lewis: To ask the Leader of the House, if he will publish the (a) dates and (b) changes that have been made to policing arrangements in the vicinity of the parliamentary estate in the last 10 years in relation to (i) demonstrations and (ii) the (A) obstruction, (B) abuse and (C) intimidation of hon. Members at entrances to the Palace of Westminster; and what steps he plans to take with (1) City of Westminster local authority, (2) the Greater London Authority and (3) the Metropolitan Police to ensure the safety of (x) hon. Members, (y) parliamentary staff and (z) other people entering and exiting the parliamentary estate.  [62245]

[Due for Answer on 25 June.] 

QUESTION TRANSFERRED FROM LEADER OF THE HOUSE TO HOUSE OF COMMONS COMMISSION [SEE EXCHANGE OF COMMENTS BELOW]

ANSWER

The hon. Member for Perth and North Perthshire, representing the House of Commons Commission (Pete Wishart): The Parliamentary Security Department (PSD) has a Special Services Agreement for provision of policing on the Parliamentary Estate; external policing is a matter for the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS). The House of Commons Commission cannot therefore provide the requested information pertaining to policing arrangements in the vicinity of the Parliamentary Estate in the last 10 years.

PSD is in frequent communication with the MPS to assess expected protest activity and other events in the surrounding area that may impact access to and/or the safety of Parliament and those working or visiting here. During extended and heightened protest activity, for example around the debates on Brexit, PSD has worked with the MPS and with other parties such as broadcasters to protect Members, staff and the public. PSD also issues advice to Members and other passholders around personal security, including any specific guidance around ongoing events.

PSD and other Parliamentary officials also liaise with Westminster City Council (WCC), the Greater London Authority (GLA), the MPS and others on issues of safety and security in the nearby area. Parliament has supported the Parliament Square Streetscape Project, which is led jointly by the GLA and WCC and with the involvement of the MPS, to consider the feasibility of improvements to the Streetscape around the Palace of Westminster.

----------------------------------------------------------------------

NOTE: On account of the transfer from the Leader of the House's Office to the House of Commons Commission, and the rewording of the Question originally drafted by Julian, this Answer entirely failed to get to grips with the substance of that Question which was about the circumstances in which demonstrators are now allowed access right up to people entering and leaving Parliament, when previously no such interference was permitted by strict regulations promulgated by Parliament.

THE WORDING OF THE ORIGINAL QUESTION: To ask the Leader of the House, if he will publish a timeline setting out (a) at what stages, and (b) in which respects, former prohibitions on (i) demonstrating,  (ii) obstructing and (iii) abusing or otherwise intimidating Parliamentarians at entrances to the Palace of Westminster, were dismantled; what steps he will take, in concert with relevant local authorities, to restore such protections; and what powers currently exist to enforce such regulations as have not already lapsed.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION [JL]: It never used to be permitted to hold political demonstrations adjacent to Parliament, and any attempts to impede Parliamentarians entering or leaving were similarly prohibited.

EXCHANGES BETWEEN THE TABLE OFFICE AND JULIAN LEWIS ON WHO SHOULD ANSWER THE QUESTION

[Table Office] 18 June: This Question should be asked of the House of Commons Commission. The Commission has limited powers in relation to policing. For that reason, a suggested redraft is proposed that should engage the Commission and elicit the information sought.

[Table Office] 22 June: Dr Lewis called 17.35 on 22 June 2020 and gave basis for PQ being addressed to the Leader (in summary, PQs on long-standing Iraq war protests in Parliament Sq were answered by the then Leader).