EDM calls for end to ban on cub scouts lobbying in Westminster Hall

July 7, 2009 at 4:55 pm Leave a comment

MPs from all sides have backed an Early Day Motion condemning the House authorities from banning a group of cub scouts from lobbying at the Palace of Westminster because they are not old enough to vote.

Labour MP Martin Salter, who tabled the EDM, has also written to the Speaker to complain about the ban.

A Westminster Hall booking for next week was cancelled by the Commons authorities.

The cub scouts, aged between eight and 11 years old, wanted to lobby MPs about changes to the way water companies charge Scout Groups in England and Wales for the disposal of rainwater.

In the past, organisations like Scout Groups and places of worship have not been charged for the surface water which runs into sewers.

Groups have reported an increase in water costs of between £60 and £600 a year. This represents between 1% and 25% of their overall budgets, according to the Scout Association.

The EDM, which has been backed by former Home Secretary Jacqui Smith and Conservative and Lib Dem MPs, reads:

“That this House believes that all citizens, regardless of age, should be afforded appropriate facilities within the Palace of Westminster to assist in the lobbying of hon. Members on matters of concern;

“Strongly disagrees with the decision to withhold permission from the Scout Association for a cub scout lobby scheduled to take place in Westminster Hall on 15 July 2009 as part of the Stop the Rain Tax campaign;

“Calls upon the House authorities to allow the cub scout lobby to proceed as originally planned in the interests of promoting the engagement of young people in the political process.”

Mr Salter told the BBC:

“Once again the House of Commons has shown what a deeply conservative and out of touch institution it is capable of being.

“On the one hand we have an excellent Parliamentary Education Unit which actively encourages the engagement of schools and young people.

“However, yet another arm of this arcane bureaucracy appears to be doing all it can to slam the door in the face of the young people from the Scouting movement who simply want to press their case with their Members of Parliament.”

Last month Sir Stuart Bell, Commons spokesman for the Church Commissioners, told MPs that surface water charges by area will cost the Church of England “at least £5 million and a further £10 million for highways drainage contributions.”


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