Police attempt to ban “political materials” from House of Commons

For our latest update see: Parliament security abuse rules to confiscate visitors’ briefing notes

Police officers told a member of the public they were prohibited from bringing “political materials” into the Houses of Parliament, the Commons heard yesterday. In a great spot from Matthew Barrett at Conservative Home, a woman attending a lobby on Palestine was told by two police officers that this bizarre ban was on the order of parliamentary staff.

In a point of order to deputy speaker Lindsay Hoyle, MP David Burrowes told the chamber:

“As she arrived at security, a police officer confiscated her lobby briefing material and told her that she was not allowed to have anything of a political nature. In fact, she was told that this was a direction from the House authorities. The officer then spoke to a senior officer, who gave the same response.”

Political briefing papers in Parliament. Fancy that!

UDPATE: Scrapbook has spoken with the woman concerned, who says the officers told her this was “a directive of the Serjeant-at-Arms”. You can view the materials which the officers found so objectionable here.

UPDATE II: Reports have emerged on Twitter and in the comments that the same thing happened during a mass lobby on pensions which took place on 26 October.

11 Comments

  1. Tim says:

    This happened to many of us when we attended a lobby of Parliament 0n 26 Oct called by education unions NUT,UCU, NAS/UWT etc. in defence of pensions & in lead up to N30 strike. We were put thru body scanner by police – some of whom were armed – and our lobby briefing materials were confiscated.

  2. IanVisits says:

    I go though Parliament security on moderate number of occasions and have never been stopped and had any of my documents searched.

    What are people doing that makes their documents look suspicious (or what am I doing that makes me look docile?)

  3. Tris says:

    I imagine that it would have been OK if they had been brandishing a manual entitled “How to Cheat at Expenses – An Advanced Course”.

    Ian: Maybe you dress in a suit and tie, and maybe the people who are stopped didn’t.

    The chamber on the matter of men’s clothing seems to be stuck in the 1950s. I seem to remember that the little speaker told an MP who had taken off his tie, that he must either dress properly or leave the chamber. Strangely he has never directed such comments at Theresa May who has a very strange taste in garments,verging at times on the fetish scene, nor has he ever said anything to Nadine whose idea of business wear calls into question her type of business.

  4. Cat says:

    Yesterday there were also two bars of soap confiscated. Yes, bars of soap. Why? Well, they were made in Palestine so that’s clearly a threat to the UK Parliament…

  5. IanVisits says:

    Sorry Tris, but don’t leap to assumptions.

    I usually go in in jeans and a t-shirt under a jacket.

    I haven’t worn a tie regularly for about a decade.

  6. Keith says:

    This is not new. I recall being at a meeting several years ago, I cannot remember whether it was Commons or Lords, when a couple of people arrived late. They had had all their political material confiscated on entry to Parliament. Simon Hughes MP was asked to deal with it. I dare say he did nothing.

  7. Oliver Slaughter says:

    This seems incredible but not surprising: the weird thing is, if you actually asked an MP on the matter, I bet they wouldn’t know about this. Stupid civil servants

  8. [...] of the public have prepared in order to lobby their representative.After MP David Burrowes raised the case of his constituent, who was ordered by police officers to hand over papers she had prepared for a lobby on Palestine, [...]

  9. Lukibus says:

    Sounds more like MPs don’t hassle civil servants because MPs don’t want rules being applied to them. MPs must bring all sorts of things of a political nature into the Houses of Parliament; themselves for a start. Stupid people serving stupid people who don’t care and all of them serving the public – sad for us. Even worse are those whose knee jerk reaction is to blame civil servants after admitting that MPs are ignorant of what is happening around them.

  10. Ian says:

    I have never been searched for documents when entering Parliament (whether in Jeans/shirt/jacket or a suit). I suspect this probably happens more at St Stephen’s entrance (and perhaps Portcullis House) than at the other entrances where you have to be accompanied by a pass-holder. Still, it seems odd and in contravention of the right of access to ‘green card’ your MP on any matter. Perhaps the key is to get a friendly pass holder to carry any political material in for you.

  11. [...] Police attempt to ban “political materials” from House of Commons | Political Scrapbook GA_googleAddAttr("AdOpt", "1"); GA_googleAddAttr("Origin", "other"); GA_googleAddAttr("theme_bg", "ffffff"); GA_googleAddAttr("theme_border", "eeeeee"); GA_googleAddAttr("theme_text", "555555"); GA_googleAddAttr("theme_link", "36bcab"); GA_googleAddAttr("theme_url", "36bcab"); GA_googleAddAttr("LangId", "1"); GA_googleAddAttr("Autotag", "politics"); GA_googleAddAttr("Tag", "activism"); GA_googleAddAttr("Tag", "curios"); GA_googleAddAttr("Tag", "governments-behaving-badly"); GA_googleAddAttr("Tag", "political-studies"); GA_googleFillSlot("wpcom_sharethrough"); Like this:LikeBe the first to like this post. [...]

  12. R. Ellis says:

    Well, at least the police did not come up behind the woman and put eight bullets in her head as has happened in other odd procedural mistakes.

  13. Dave Waite says:

    We also had to remove any political items during the pensions lobby. Stickers had to be taken off. I stuck mine onto a leaflet I was holding, which made the heavily armed policeman scratch his head a little, but he eventually decided it could pass. Maybe it’s like those cafe’s which don’t allow people to bring their own food.

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