New Forest East


Dr Julian Lewis: In opposition, my right hon. Friend, now the Leader of the House [George Young], expressed himself robustly against the permanent colonisation of Parliament Square, and against the guillotining of Bills as they went through the House. Will he make a statement to the House on what we propose to do about those two matters now that we are in government?

[The Leader of the House of Commons (Sir George Young): I am grateful to my hon. Friend for taking such an interest in the speeches I have made in the past. It is certainly the Government's intention not to guillotine Bills automatically in the way that the previous Government did, and to allow adequate opportunity for debate. On Parliament Square, we need to strike the right balance between, on the one hand, the right to protest and, on the other, the conservation of a very important site, right in the middle of the capital, next to Westminster Abbey and the Houses of Parliament. In my view, the balance at the moment is not right. The House will know that the Mayor of London is seeking to enforce the byelaw under the Greater London Authority Act 1999, under which it is an offence to erect tents or other paraphernalia without permission of the Mayor, so I hope we can come up with the right balance. People should protest there but they do not have to live there all the time and create what is becoming a shanty town, which does not do credit to the environment in which Parliament Square is located.]