HL Deb 14 April 1980 vol 408 cc2-4

2.37 p.m.

The Marquess of AILESBURY

My Lords, I beg leave to ask the Question which stands in my name on the Order Paper.

The Question was as follows:

To ask Her Majesty's Government why, when a lobby queue was formed outside the House of Lords on 27th March, more lateral space was allocated to the queue than to passers-by; and whether this state of affairs will continue during the main tourist season.


My Lords, as the noble Marquess is aware, arrangements for the control of lobbies of Parliament are an operational matter for the Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis. I understand that the police allocate space on the pavement in proportion to the number of people lobbying: the 1,700 people who formed the lobby on 27th March required more lateral space on the pavement than did the passers-by at the time. However, the police are always careful to ensure that space is available for pedestrians to pass a lobby queue.

They will continue to allocate space on a suitable basis during the tourist season.

The Marquess of AILESBURY

My Lords, I thank the noble Lord for that reply. Does he appreciate that my concern is for the police constables whom I see standing out in the traffic for reasons which still seem to me inadequate? Does he appreciate that this is directly related to the excessive amount of space taken up by these queues? So long as there is such a wide queue there will be police constables standing in the traffic.


My Lords, I am well aware that the noble Lord asked a Question on 25th February of this year in similar terms, and my noble friend Lord Belstead (at column 1004 of Hansard for that day) assured the noble Marquess when he said this—and I quote my noble friend's reply: No injuries have been sustained by officers because of any exposure of them to traffic in these circumstances". I know that the Government much appreciate the concern expressed by the noble Marquess on behalf of both the police officers and the public; but circumstances must be taken into account and the judgment taken by the Commissioner of Police.


My Lords, while the interests of the police and the rights of pedestrians should be protected, is it not also important to make such facilities as are practicable available for the lobbying of Members of Parliament?


My Lords, most certainly. The noble and learned Lord, Lord Elwyn-Jones, is perfectly right. The matter of judgment concerns all three aspects and it is a matter of judgment on behalf of the police as to how they adjust it.

The Earl of HALSBURY

My Lords, arising out of the noble Lord's reply to my noble friend, do we have to wait until a policeman is run over before taking precautions? Surely prevention is better than cure.


My Lords, once again this is a matter for the Metropolitan Police and not for the Government. I am well aware what the noble Earl is suggesting. The Metropolitan Police have great experience in this regard. I feel sure that this matter can be left in their very safe hands.