Those of us who fear that the Civil Contingencies Blil which is currently in Committee in the House of Lords, will be extended into a dictatorial Permanent State of Emergency under vague threats of terrorism etc., are not reassured by the Government 's amendment to the Bill, for permanent restrictions on freedom of movement, without financial compensation even when an Emergency has not been formally declared.
In a written Ministerial Statement on Wednesday 13th October 2004 on "Security (Palace of Westminster)":
"The Secretary of State for the Home Department (Mr. David Blunkett):
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"
The Police already have plenty of powers to block off roads if they suspect that a terrorist or criminal act is likely or in progress.
The roads around Parliament are regularly closed to traffic on ceremonial occasions like the State opening of Parliament or major events at Westminster Abbey etc.
The planning authorities already have powers to permanently close roads, pedestrianise streets etc. This process can even even attract European Union grants and subsidies under Heritage preservation schemes. This has already been applied to the National Gallery side of Trafalgar Square, and there would be no question of it not applying to Parliament Square either.
From a security of the public point of view, closing off part of central London, will just create queues of public and VIP targets at the extended perimeter of checkpoints (the bigger the perimeter, the less well guarded it becomes), which will then become targets for bombs and bullets, just like at the perimeter of the "Green Zone" in Baghdad.
Why is the Government trying to shove extra, over broad legislation, which covers the entire United Kingdom, into the Civil Contingencies Bill, to deal with local, non-regional, non-national security measure specifically for the Houses of Parliament ?
Where is the provision for an environmental impact statement of the extra congestion and pollution that such permanent road closures will have on the surrounding areas ? Where is the economic impact assessment and financial compensation to those businesses affected by such road closures ? Where is the planning appeal process ?
All of these normal and necessary checks and balances will be crushed if this amendment is passed into law.
Fighting terrorist threats is right and proper, but pretending that anti-terrorist measures have no monetary or disruptive cost to society is dishonest.