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House of Commons Hansard
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11 February 2019
Volume 654

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On a point of order, Mr Speaker. Last Friday afternoon, I was conducting an interview with a constituent whose son had been killed. It was impossible for me to continue or conclude the conversation due to the motorised protest taking place outside in Whitehall, which culminated in a cacophonous crescendo of car horns and klaxons. That noise was unbearable, and it was appallingly disrespectful to my constituent. What discussions have you had with the authorities to prevent this happening again, bearing in mind that it affected not only those of us who operate out of No. 1 Parliament Street, but Scottish National party Members just along the street, and considering that, should we move to Richmond House, the situation will be even worse?

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I readily accept, before I say anything further to the hon. Gentleman, that a cacophonous crescendo of car horns and klaxons—a wonderful display of alliteration—the spectre of which he has just invoked, is undesirable. I have no reason to doubt that when he was conducting an extremely serious meeting with his constituent about the gravest of matters, it must have been at the very least disconcerting and at worst, frankly, destructive, so I am not insensitive to what he has said. Off the top of my head, I cannot claim to have an immediate resolution of the matter. The Serjeant at Arms, who is in his Chair and whose presence is a constant source of reassurance to us, will also have heard what the hon. Gentleman has said.

I think that the matter bears reflection, because of course the conduct of a demonstration—I know that the hon. Gentleman will be on the same page as me on the matter, because he is a very well-read and cerebral fellow—is necessarily an other-regarding act, not a self-regarding act, in the sense that it has implications for other people. It might be referred to, in more commonplace parlance, as a neighbourhood effect; in this case, the hon. Gentleman was in the neighbourhood and the effect was upon him and his constituent. I think that we do need to consider this. I hope that the Serjeant, the parliamentary security director and the police can give some thought to the matter.

The right to demonstrate, including making some noise in the process, is an important right, but so too is the right of another person to go about his or her lawful business, and the right of Members of Parliament to go about their business on behalf of, and frequently in conversation with, constituents is very important, too. Let the matter be further reflected upon, and I hope that the hon. Gentleman will receive some feedback in due course. That might not be an ideal reply, but I hope that it will pass muster for now.