HL Deb 13 October 2004 vol 665 cc21-2WS
The Minister of State, Home Office (Baroness Scotland of Asthal)

The House will be aware of the review by the Security Service and Metropolitan Police of the security of the Palace of Westminster. This report is, of course, a matter for Mr Speaker, for the Lord Chairman and for the House authorities. However, it may be helpful if I update the House on the steps we have been taking to enhance the external security of Parliament and the surrounding area.

The Government have always set out clearly the nature of the threats that we face and the importance of keeping all our security measures and contingency planning under constant review. Therefore, alongside this formal review, my right honourable friend the Home Secretary asked the Intelligence and Security Co-ordinator, Sir David Omand, earlier this year to gather a small team to provide advice on protective

Title Details Target
KT 1a—Provision of Available Force Element Days The measurement of the number of days when the material condition of a vessel enables it to perform its scheduled task on that day. To provide Commander-In-Chief Fleet (CINCFLEET) with the target level of available force element days agreed in the CINCFLEET/Defence logistics organisation (DLO) customer supplier agreement (CSA).
KT 1b—Provision of Ready Force Element Days The measurement of the number of days when the material state of a vessel enables it to meet its required readiness category. To provide CINCFLEET with the target level of the ready force element days agreed in the CINCFLEET/DLO customer supplier agreement (CSA).

security measures outside the Houses of Parliament and more generally in the central Westminster area.

As the House would expect, the Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police constantly reviews policing activities around the Whitehall and Westminster area. Operational police deployments have already been increased to counter the potential threat of vehicle bombs. In addition, we have already agreed further enhancements to the support for operational policing of the area including work on a new control room and CCTV.

We will also be discussing with Westminster City Council, the Mayor, Transport for London and other relevant authorities whether any further physical measures are required to provide additional protection around the Palace of Westminster. The Government recently tabled an amendment to the Civil Contingencies Bill, which will allow highway authorities to make an anti-terrorist traffic regulation order, on the application of the Chief Constable. As we indicated in laying the amendment, this is not specifically intended to control vehicle access around Parliament but it will make it easier for the police to respond to particular threats by further controlling traffic.

While there are no plans for any major programme of road closures, we are determined that we should avoid a situation in which a series of steps, which may be sensible in themselves, has a wider impact on traffic and public access to this important part of London. We therefore believe that it would be helpful to undertake a wider process of consultation with the Mayor, Transport for London and other authorities and interested parties of the consequences of and options for changes to management of traffic around Parliament should further restrictions become necessary. We believe that this is essential if we are to safeguard and enhance not just the security of the area but also its economic and social well-being.