Speaker condemns Tamil protesters

April 20, 2009 at 11:10 pm 3 comments

The Speaker of the House of Commons has said he is disturbed that groups of Tamils protesting outside the Houses of Parliament have brought small children with them.

Answering points of order at the first sitting since the Easter Recess, Speaker Michael Martin said that the presence of young children, including toddlers, had made the job of the police more difficult.

The protestors are demanding that the British government intervene to end the civil war in Sri Lanka where the Tamil Tigers are fighting for a separate state.

Tamil supporters have been occupying Parliament Square for two weeks.

More than 3,000 blockaded the Square today as MPs returned from their holidays and some members had difficulties getting into Parliament.

Answering a point of order, Mr Speaker said:

“It has been reported to me not only that a demonstration has been blocking off our entrance, but that young children—little children, and sometimes toddlers—have been put at the perimeter, or the outside, of the demonstration, which puts the police in a very difficult situation.

“Policemen who have been under criticism for the way in which they have handled adults are being put in a situation whereby they cannot make any clearance because little children have been put to the perimeter of the demonstration.

“That is very sad and not an act of democratic demonstration—the type of demonstration that I have been used to as a Member of Parliament and as a former trade union officer.

“I am saddened that the police have been put in this situation and that little children have been put in their way.”

Tory MP Gerald Howarth wanted to know if Mr Speaker has powers to order the Metropolitan police to ensure MPs have access to the Palace of Westminster.

“That used to be the Sessional Order that was passed at the state opening of each Session of Parliament. I submit that it is completely outrageous that Members of the House have been subjected to this inconvenience, and that the people of London have been subjected to it.

“The situation in Sri Lanka is nothing to do with the House and it is an affront that we should have been subjected to this inconvenience. Is it going to continue? I have just spoken to a police officer.

“He tells me that there is no police officer out there who will take action because the police are fearful that the television cameras will be on them and that if they show anything other than a softly, softly approach, they will find themselves in court. Surely law and order has broken down outside the Houses of Parliament.”

The Speaker said he would speak to the Serjeant-At-Arms, who is responsible for the security of the House of Commons, about the situation.


Entry filed under: Commons. Tags: , , , , , , , .

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3 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Civil  |  April 20, 2009 at 10:21 pm

    Pleased to see that Points of Order are being followed – they are perhaps the most interesting part of any day in Parliament.

  • 2. Howard Hatchard  |  April 21, 2009 at 12:27 pm

    I find all this fuss about the Tamil’s protest quite confusing. I went for a walk around parliament Square and the protestors were very polite and peaceful- even going as far as handing out leaflets to commuters apologising for any problems caused to their daily commute.

    In addition to that I think the police have also been behaving very well and I could not sense any hint of violence or aggression on either side. It is very easy to walk through the protest and feel perfectly safe, also the traffic was flowing freely around the square.

    These are people who’s families have been murdered by a regime that the British Government supports and I commend them for the way that they have conducted there argument. It would be deeply wrong to think that in any way this protest can be compared to the shameful vandalism of the G20 protests.

    The Speaker should not listen to gossip and look out the window.

    • 3. Pelican  |  April 24, 2009 at 2:35 pm

      Shameful vandalism of the G20 protests?! you should look out of the window yourself.


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