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Volume 691: debated on Friday 20 April 2007

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether they have received from the Metropolitan Police any assessment of the costs and benefits of the provisions of Sections 132 to 138 (“Demonstrations in vicinity of Parliament”) of the Serious Organised Crime and Police Act 2005. [HL2796]

Sections 132 to 138 of the Serious Organised Crime and Police Act 2005 are the response to the recommendation of the House of Commons Procedure Committee that the Government should introduce appropriate legislation to prohibit long-term demonstrations and ensure that the laws about access to Parliament are adequate and enforceable. They provide a framework for the commissioner to authorise and consider the management of all demonstrations notified to him in advance in the defined area. This replaces the former requirement laid on him by the sessional order to make sure that passageways to and from Parliament were kept free of obstruction and that no obstruction was allowed to hinder passage of the Lords and Members to and from the House.

Each demonstration is different and has to be risk assessed, and where required a policing operation is put into place. We have not sought an overall cost-benefit assessment.