asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department what regulations he has made to allow police officers off-duty to offer themselves as guides in the Palace of Westminster.
I appreciate the reply, but is the hon. Gentleman aware that it is contrary to police regulations to offer a policeman alternative duty? Is it not possible, through the hon. Gentleman or his Department, to see that hon. Members have opportunities of getting police guides, as has been the practice through the ages? Is it not the case that an hon. Member is more comfortable and happy if his constituents can be shown round the Palace of Westminster by someone he knows and can trust?
Police regulations do not prohibit police officers off duty acting as guides, although they would require the consent of the Commissioner of Police before accepting a reward for doing so. The rule that police officers may act as guides only when off duty has been made by the Serjeant at Arms. It was not made at the instance of my right hon. and learned Friend, nor the Commissioner of Police. Hitherto, plain clothes police officers on duty in the Palace of Westminster have conducted hon. Members' parties, when their duties permitted, as a courtesy to hon. Members and without official authority.
Could not the same facilities be granted, as, so far as I can see, an encroachment has been made on the amenities of hon. Members which have been in existence for many years? I intend to fight for the right which hon. Members opposite have had for centuries in this House.
If there has been any encroachment it is not the responsibility of my right hon. and learned Friend.
Will the hon. Gentleman bear in mind that a Select Committee is at present looking into this matter? Will he take no action in these cases until that Committee has reported, as, in the body of the report, there will possibly be reflections about this sort of thing which will cause changes of opinion about it.