Do you now need prior Police permission to lobby your MP in Parliament ?


A comment by "Nosemonkey" on "the tale of Princess Tony and the Ugly Face Man" has helped to crystallise Yet Another Worry about the Parliament Square Designated Area protest exclusion zone.

Instead of making the Designated Area just the small stretch of pavement across the road from the Carriage Gate entrance, where the controversial protestor Brian Haw has his "peace camp", the NuLabour Home Secretary Charles Clarke has ordered the Designated Area to include the whole of the Palace of Westminster itself (as well as, for no discernable reason, the London Eye wheel across the river Thames).

This is important because, the Statutory Instrument 2005 No. 1537 means that as of 1st July, it becomes a criminal offence to "demonstrate" without applying for prior permission from the Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police.

Since the public areas of the Palace of Westminster, such as the Lobbies , Corridors, Committee Rooms, Viewing Galleries and even the bars and restaurants, are just that, they are public area, they also fall under the Serious Organised Crime and Police Act 2005 section 132

"7) In this section and in sections 133 to 136-

(a) "the designated area" means the area specified in an order under section 138,
(b) "public place" means any highway or any place to which at the material time the public or any section of the public has access, on payment or otherwise, as of right or by virtue of express or implied permission,"

Does this mean that if you want to exercise your traditional right to lobby your Member of Parliament, in person , at the House of Commons, which is a political act or attmpt to influmece one or more Members of Parliament i.e. a demonstration or protest, you will now have to apply for permission to do so, beforehand, not to Parliament, but to the unelected and politically appointed Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police Sir Ian Blair ?

It does not matter at all if such permmission is automatically granted, or if no unreasonable extra restriction are applied, the need to apply "at least six clear days" or in exceptional circumstances "at least 24 hours" ahead of time is intolerable. This still has a chilling effect on democracy, by discouraging people from lobbying their MPs.

What happens to the names and addresses of all of the people who do apply for permission to "demonstrate" ? How long will your name and address be retained for and what other computer databases will they end up on ?

The Designated Area should be dramatically reduced in size to just include the area of Brian Haw's "peace camp", if that is what Parliament really intended to vote for.

How much more remote and out of touch with the public can our politicians get ?

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