» Wednesday, September 15, 2004

House Security

Asked if Cabinet had discussed what lessons needed to be learnt from yesterday and if there were plans to ban protesting from close proximity to the House, the PMOS said that members of the Cabinet had been very conscious of the fact that there was an enquiry under way and that that enquiry was first and foremost the responsibility of the House authorities. Clearly there would be input from the Government when asked by the House authorities, but that enquiry must be allowed to take place. In terms of demonstrations in Parliament Square, that was the responsibility of a mixture of authorities, Westminster Council and the Highway Agency included, and therefore any discussions should be with them.

Asked about what had happened to a previous law that prevented demonstrations from taking place within a certain radius of Parliament when the House was sitting, the PMOS said it had been his understanding that that law had lapsed. He was not sure of the precise time of when this had happened.

Questioned about whether Cabinet had asked why the demonstration was allowed to take place in Parliament Square, the PMOS said this was one of the issues that had to be looked at but in the proper way.

Questioned about the security of Ministers, the PMOS said that security of Ministers was a matter for the Government, but security within the House was a matter for the House authorities.

Asked if the Prime Minister had confidence in the House authorities, the PMOS said that the Prime Minister was confident that these issues were going to be treated with the seriousness they deserved. These matters would be urgently discussed in the House. The Prime Minister went in to the building on a regular and basis and was happy to do so. The lessons of yesterday need to be learned in a calm way and using the appropriate mechanisms. Nobody was trying to down-play what had happened yesterday. It was important that Parliament’s modus operandi and place be respected and therefore that the discussions took place in the proper way, that was what a Parliamentary democracy was about. Anything that disrupted Parliament must be deplored.

Briefing took place at 15:45 | Search for related news

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