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Palace Of Westminster (Security)

Volume 940: debated on Monday 28 November 1977

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On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. I apologise for not having had a chance to inform you about this beforehand. I understand from a notice that has gone to all hon. Members over the weekend that certain major restrictions will be placed upon Members showing constituents around the Palace of Westminster. I believe that this raises very important issues for Members in all parts of the House who wish to show their constituents around the Palace.

The two things that concern me most are, first, the restriction on showing people the Robing Room and, second, the restriction upon numbers. The vast majority of parties that I show around—I am sure this goes for other Members—are from schools. Most of the parties are more than 16 in number, and although there is to be some temporary relaxation to allow those already booked to look around, it appears that after a date in the fairly near future no parties of 16 and more will be allowed around the Palace. I do not quite know how one tackles this, but I thought I might raise it as a point of order and possibly get advice from you.

May I tell the House that these restrictions have been imposed during the present emergency conditions. It is a commonsense restriction. We are asking everyone else in the country to take steps to protect their places against fire and that is why I approved of the recommendation from the Services Committee.

Further to that point of order, Mr. Speaker. I wish to raise two points. I sought an assur- ance that this restriction would be removed at the end of the firemen's strike and I failed to obtain that assurance. Is your statement to the House to the effect that when the firemen's strike ends, so will these restrictions?

The second point is that according to the notice which has been sent around, when there are more than 16 people—and we cannot get a guide for any number above 16—they can obtain a pamphlet and go around on their own, which seems to make it less rather than more secure for the House.

Further to that point of order, Mr. Speaker. If, of course, the number over 16 can go around on their own, they can do so by following about one foot behind the others, and that amounts to the same thing.

So far as I am concerned these restrictions are to apply during the strike. I hope that the House will co-operate on this matter.