[7th Allotted Day]

Part of Points of Order – in the House of Commons at 2:30 pm on 11th January 2019.

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Photo of John Bercow John Bercow Speaker of the House of Commons, Chair, Speaker's Committee on the Electoral Commission, Chair, Speaker's Committee for the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority, Chair, Commons Reference Group on Representation and Inclusion Committee 2:30 pm, 11th January 2019

Clearly it is a magnificent cause, and I am very sorry to hear news of the postponement or cancellation, and the rationale for that decision. I am grateful to the hon. Lady for her point of order because it gives me an opportunity to say a very small number of words on the subject of security. She was very likely present in the Chamber earlier in the week when very grave concerns were aired about aggressive, threatening and intimidating behaviour towards Members and journalists. In response to points of order on that matter, I hope I gave sympathetic and understanding responses. More particularly, I committed to inquire further into the matter and to make appropriate representations.

On top of the letter sent to the Metropolitan Police Commissioner by well in excess of 150 colleagues, as I subsequently advised the House, I myself wrote to the commissioner in explicit terms underlining the extent and intensity of concern felt in this place about the threat to security. Further to that letter to the Metropolitan Police Commissioner, I must tell the House that in Speaker’s House yesterday morning I hosted, with the Lord Speaker, a meeting with Commissioner Cressida Dick and her colleagues for members of the Commissions of both Houses and the consultative panel on parliamentary security. In the course of that constructive engagement, the police communicated plans for increased security in the period ahead, which they trust and we very much hope will enable Members, journalists and members of the public to go about their business unimpeded by aggressive, threatening or intimidating demonstrators.

In that context and flowing from that meeting, a detailed letter has today gone to all colleagues from Eric Hepburn, the director of security for Parliament, and Jane Johnson, the Chief Superintendent of the Metropolitan police based here, together with a short covering letter from me. I hope that is of interest and potentially of reassurance to colleagues. I am looking in particular in the direction of Sir Nicholas Soames, who very eloquently raised his concerns, together with other colleagues, on the matter earlier in the week. I hope that its relevance to the event to which the hon. Lady has referred is obvious. That event is some distance in the future and the question of whether it goes ahead is not a matter for the Chair, but I very much hope that, as a result of the increased security that is now to be set in train, people organising events within the precincts of the Palace of Westminster, adjacent to it or in close proximity to it, will feel confident and comfortable that they can safely proceed with their plans. I hope that is helpful to the hon. Lady.