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Points of Order

Volume 528: debated on Thursday 19 May 2011

On a point of order, Mr Deputy Speaker. I wish to raise with you a matter relating to the rights of Members of this House. I have today received a notice about the restrictions being imposed on access to this House on the day of the visit by the President of the United States. I recognise entirely that it is essential to provide the President with maximum security. I recognise further that this will involve, and needs to involve, restrictions on access to this building by strangers—people who are not Members of this House. However, the notice includes a series of restrictions on access to this House by elected Members of this House. I regard that as unacceptable. It is also a violation of the Sessional Orders, which give every Member the right of access to this House in the service of his or her constituents. I would therefore ask you to have this matter re-examined urgently, so that while of course welcoming the President and providing him with security, we can at the same time maintain the right of Members of this House to come into this building whenever they need to.

What I can say is that we do not discuss security issues in this Chamber, and quite rightly so, as Sir Gerald will know, given that he is a very senior Member of this House with great knowledge. I suggest that he meet with the Serjeant at Arms to discuss the issues. He has put them on the record for the rest of the House to consider, but the right way to proceed is to sit down with the Serjeant at Arms. I will, of course, also pass on his comments to Mr Speaker.

On a point of order, Mr Deputy Speaker. I am glad that the Secretary of State for Transport is still in his place to hear my point of order. Have you had any indication from him that he intends to make a statement to the House to clear up the confusion caused by his comments on television and in The Times today? Coastguards at Crosby and across the country, and the public whom they serve, are extremely concerned about the proposed changes, as are Members of all parties across the House, and we would all appreciate some clarification in a statement from the Secretary of State.