CONSERVATIVE
New Forest East

POINT OF ORDER – PROTEST NOISE – 18 November 2008

Dr Julian Lewis: On a point of order, Mr Speaker. I believe you are aware of a letter that I recently received from Westminster city council saying that despite your robust statement on 28 October about the unauthorised and illegal protest noise in Parliament Square, there are no plans to prosecute, because, as the council puts it,

“the Courts would be unlikely to impose a penalty much beyond a nominal fine”.

Would you care to inform us whether the Government have responded to your request to be consulted about the matter? If they have not, when they consult you, will you draw to their attention the recent report that Westminster City Council has ordered Debenhams to stop playing Christmas carols outside its window display, because, the council says,

“it will cause noise pollution”?

Mr. John Wilkinson, the council's noise team manager said:

“We don't think it's fair for hundreds of thousands of daily visitors to be bombarded by loud music in the street as they walk past shops.”

Perhaps we should advise Debenhams to intersperse its carols with terms of abuse towards politicians and our armed forces, in order to be allowed to play them.

[Mr Speaker: I am not aware of what restrictions on noise nuisance are being imposed by Westminster City Council away from Parliament Square. Perhaps Debenhams was putting us all in a Christmas spirit – good luck to it. I am awaiting the response of the council to the deliberations of the Joint Committee about noise affecting the House.

* * *

Sir Nicholas Winterton: Further to the point of order made by my hon. Friend the Member for New Forest, East (Dr Lewis), Mr Speaker. You gave a good answer to my hon. Friend, but may I remind the House, through you, that the Procedure Committee, which I chaired some years ago, produced a report into the noise and other antisocial activity in Parliament square? It appears that the advice of the Committee, which was accepted by the House, has not been followed through properly by the Government and Westminster city council.

Mr Speaker: I thank the hon. Gentleman for bringing that matter to my attention.]