MEPs to have Lords passes only

Lord Norton

UK Members of the European Parliament were previously entitled to have parliamentary passes so that they could meet with parliamentarians and not have to keep queuing in order to get into the Palace of Westminster.   Last year, the Commons decided that this privilege should be withdrawn.  As parliamentary passes cover the parliamentary estate, the House Committee in the Lords recommended that we agree to the withdrawal.  However, when it came before the House in November, it was clear that there was opposition to this recommendation and the matter was referred back to the committee.  The committee reconsidered and the Lord Speaker wrote to the then chair of the Administration Committee in the Commons inviting it to reconsider its decision.   It decided not to do so, with the result that special passes will now be created for MEPs so that they can access the House of Lords areas of the parliamentary estate only.  As the Chairman of Committees reported in a written statement, “This work is already under way and the new style of pass will soon be issued to UK MEPs who have requested one.”  It creates a situation that, as far as I am aware, is without precedent.  Though some passes limit access to certain parts of the estate, it is the first time access is restricted to one House.

UPDATE: The story is also covered by the BBC.

25 comments for “MEPs to have Lords passes only

  1. 17/06/2010 at 10:18 am

    With all the new arrivals in the Lords, will there be any room for MEPs in the Lords’ part of the Estate? Time to do battle again for the Pugin Room, perhaps?

    • Lord Norton
      17/06/2010 at 11:10 am

      Stephen Paterson: Access is to the Lords part of the estate, though as pass-holders they will be eligible to use the River restaurant. Most other facilities are confined to peers or peers and their guests. Don’t get me started on the Pugin Room! I don’t see why it should not become a shared facility.

  2. 17/06/2010 at 10:21 am

    This sounds slightly bizarre. As I remember it, there are few locked internal doors once inside the palace, so one can easily wander into green-carpeted sections. What does this change mean in practice? Which rooms or areas will be inaccessible to MEPs, or is it more of a symbolic gesture?

    • Lord Norton
      17/06/2010 at 11:13 am

      Jonathan: That’s a very good question. Their passes won’t allow them into the Commons part of the estate where electronic access exists; I presume they won’t be eligible to go beyond security staff in corridors confined to parliamentarians and certain pass holders.

  3. 17/06/2010 at 10:21 am

    Wouldn’t it be simpler to say, we ban the BNP from the HoC?

    At 2,000 pounds a minute that it costs to run the Lords, you are racking up a huge bill cracking a very small nut.

    Lord Blagger.

    PS. The plus side of all of this is it stops you from doing lots of other damage to the UK

    • Lord Norton
      17/06/2010 at 11:15 am

      Lord Blagger: Banning BNP MEPs also has the effect of banning all other (more numerous) MEPs.

      • 17/06/2010 at 3:10 pm

        No it doesn’t. You just say Andrew Brons and Nick Griffin shall be refused passes to the House of Commons.

        However, the commons were not prepared to do that.

        So instead they beat around the bush taking up lots of time coming up with a rule that excludes those two without mentioning them by name or party.

        Hence the decision to ban all MEPs.

        Lord Blagger

        • Lord Norton
          17/06/2010 at 3:38 pm

          Lotd Blagger: As you say, the Commons was not prepared to do that, hence the consequence I detailed.

          • 17/06/2010 at 5:02 pm

            It doesn’t follow. The HoC could have just allowed MEPs to visit the commons.

            It only follows if they want to ban the BNP, but are not prepared to pick on one set of elected representatives.

            While I detest the BNP as a bunch of socialist racist thugs, having a go at an elected representative for their opinions and the opinions of those who elect them is wrong.

            Lord Blagger.

            PS having a go at the unelected who have their fingers in the pie is fair game, isn’t it?

  4. Chris K
    17/06/2010 at 10:21 am

    So MEPs can’t cross the half-way point in the Lobby? That’s very strange.

    It was an obvious knee-jerk reaction to start with, an obvious attempt by the Commons at keeping Griffo and co at a distance.

    As far as I’m concerned if they will give us a daft electoral system for the ‘European’ ‘elections’ then they can put up with being visited by the consequences.

  5. 17/06/2010 at 10:46 am

    What are the reasons you think the Lords and Commons have come to a different view on this?

    • Lord Norton
      17/06/2010 at 11:18 am

      Mark Pack: As has been mentioned by Chris K (it is also picked up in the BBC coverage), the Commons seemed to want to ensure that BNP MEPs were not permitted access. The Lords was concerned with the broader principle and the fact that MEPs for nearly thirty years had been eligible for passes.

  6. 17/06/2010 at 12:05 pm

    Test comment – previous attempts have disappeared.

    • 18/06/2010 at 11:38 am


      hopefully no contribution is disppearing through cracks-in-the-table and/or gaps-between-the-floorboards, m’ladytizzy

      • 19/06/2010 at 4:31 pm

        I appreciate your concern, JSDM. Thankfully, I have a trusty sonic screwdriver.

        • 20/06/2010 at 9:28 am

          No ‘sonic screwdriver’ appears in my Oxford Dictionary of Current English 3rd edition (only sonic boom); but since ‘sonic’ adj = relating to or using sound-waves, the nearest intelligence de-coding of your ‘protective tool’ might be
          “The lady has a driver-of-screws, capable of coping with the risk of an important submission disappearing through cracks in the table or gaps between the floorboards,
          related to or using sound-waves”.

          We actually need an omni-sound* safety-net, under the table and floorboards, daily-retrievement-friendly, for such mis-placements and ‘diappeared’ comunicational efforts, I do submit.

          *. Qua ‘omni-secure’.

  7. Dave H
    17/06/2010 at 12:23 pm

    I don’t remember a queue to get into the Lords when I was there in March. It was all quite civilised going in at that end of the palace, helpul and polite security guards (notable in that in many places they aren’t) and somewhere comfortable to sit while waiting. Perhaps it gets busy at other times?

  8. Twm O'r Nant
    17/06/2010 at 5:19 pm

    “So MEPs can’t cross the half-way point in the Lobby? That’s very strange”

    Heh! Heh!

    “I don’t remember a queue to get into the Lords when I was there in March. It was all quite civilised”

    Lord Norton is quite determined so take care!

    The curious anomaly of the electronic pass to go from Palace to Portcullis is resolved by exiting and re-entering, which some people would find infra dig. The street can be busy outside.

  9. 18/06/2010 at 2:30 am

    I do not comprehend the Order of Security nor its supportive rationales, in this MEP/Foreigners free-access to walk or wander anywhere they like around our British Houses of Parliament, my Lords.

    Nor do I have at hand or clickably-ready on my computer any sort of comprehensive statement about other kinds of Security in and around our Houses of Parliament and the Buildings thereof.

    I’ve never been inside the Houses; so I’m assuming that their various areas are connected by walkways, stairs and lifts; and controlled by variously-secure Doors ?
    Firstly, nevertheless, surely, our parliaments have to be Very-Secure places.
    But since one purpose of the EP, and therefore of all MEPs, is to legislate above the Heads of any British parliament, governance or People, and to impose that downwards upon us all, the conflicts-of-intention and of responsibility should be obvious, and the security-remedies be massively-evident. (And that is before we come down to also assessing conflicts-of-interest).

    To the mind, heart and spirit, UK Parliament buildings and their insides as well as their outsides have, as far as I can see, one primary Purpose and Raison d’Etre; and I can see no greater practical Purpose for our Parliaments.

    The Houses and all of the parliamentary buildings have to Secure legislation for the British People and Supply it to the British People.
    This legislation and its surrounding documentation is extremely valuable and sensitive; and so should be both its material-and-spiritual processes, and the minds, bodies and parliamentary equipment of its legislative-workers.

    There is no greater practical Purpose for our Parliaments.

    Secondly, the European Parliament on the other hand legislates very separately, in Strasbourg and Brussels , for All EU nation-states.
    But in this they have established numerous secure communication and inter-communication rules, channels and facilities.

    If an MEP needs ( not simply ‘wishes’) to interview a member or more than one member of either the Commons or the Lords, in a matter of Governance and only of Governance, then s/he should already have EU legislation and regulation detailing procedure for making an appointment to see that British parliamentary member; and our British Parliaments should have likewise already legislated for a confirmatory one-off Pass for that MEP (and that MEP only) to enter British Government Buildings no deeper than the targeted British parliamentary member’s office; and to speak of relevant matters of governance only, within that member’s office.

    Any matter other than that of governance should be conversed outside of the member’s office, preferably outside of all Parliamentary buildings; for which purpose Parliament could/should have a Rule requiring proper starting-up and shutting-down of each level of security-requirements appropriately to the matter, purpose and intention of the visit.
    There are extravagantly numerous places outside of our Legislature Places that parliamentarians could and should use to meet with Foreigners, and to do so not solely so that our member’s expenses may be alleviated by ‘dutch-treating’. (Presumably letting the visiting competitive MEP pay for the refreshments would be an instant security-issue, a ‘no-no’, in some such area as ‘bribery and corruption’.

    Many of us far outside of Parliament will have experienced meetings during which the Chair or the Facilitator is allowed to call a ‘Suspension of Standing Orders’, in order to widen-out discussion, fact-checking or clarification, before ‘Resuming Standing Orders’ back to the rigours of the narrow-focus matter in hand.
    So; such formal or above-board MEP – UKMP governance-meeting within the UK member’s office having been duly ‘suspended,’ the two respective members would have their ID cards* stamped for a move to a less-secure place, say the restaurant.
    [ Or to such place as is not another medium-security place like the UK member’s office, nor a high-security place like the Chambers, Committee Rooms; nor the Kitchen (in the Kitchen there would be a bad risk of poisoning or ‘doctoring’ our Members’ food and/or drink and/or containers, crockery and utensils; and also a chance for such a known or disguised competitor to make ‘contact’ with Staff (the later to meet up with them elsewhere and ‘turn’ them ].

    There, there should be a choice of screened or unscreened tables or cubicles, and a recording-microphone that may be switched on and off by the two participants (a security-service that if nothing else would show the lengths of time taken talking openly and covertly respectively).
    Competitive foreign politicians or secret-agents in disguise, strolling or striding as they like, almost anywhere within our Legislative Houses ?
    Not on, my Lords.

    Thirdly, although the House of Commons has, I think, acted rightly to keep any kind of ‘enemy’ ‘competitor’ ‘foreigner’ or ‘stranger’ out of their Chamber, did they extend that ban to all of their ‘green-carpet’ areas and to members’ offices ?
    The Commons too still needs to shape up more securely:
    such as by finishing the tightening up of lock-outs and limitations upon all ‘competitors’ and ‘strangers’, and at the same time be securely installing reinforced bullet-proof glass screens everywhere that the Public or other ‘stranger’ or ‘competitor’ could enter to view a chamber, room, place or activity.

    Our British Parliaments Buildings are not ‘open to the public’ Art Galleries, Halls of Mirrors, and Madame Tussaud’s ; neither should they be National Trust-like estates where neatly dressed hospitality-workers make a small living out of serving refreshments and selling mementoes to streams of totally unidentifiable and unaccountable ‘Tourists’, ‘Strangers’, and ‘Competitors’, my Lord.

    Make all visitors toe our British lines and not lines drawn by themselves or other competitors, strangers, and outsiders.
    Our parliaments need to be very highly secure places. Check me please, if this is wrong.

    *I am strongly in favour of a comprehensive ID card; and of a complete DNA bank for all people not just for Britain’s permanently- resident 65 million population.
    Furthermore I would argue strongly that any-one refusing either the ID card or the DNA-record is being anti-social and trying to hide something untoward.
    Any MEP entering Britain should donate his/her DNA sample to the British Non-legislative House of Knowledge and Life-Experience, for safe-keeping.

  10. 18/06/2010 at 2:40 pm

    Clearly there is a security issue.

    Lets apply the standard approach. We put CCTV cameras everywhere, with microphones. All output is put onto a website as webcams, and we let the concerned citizen monitor what’s going on.

    If its good enough for Bradford, its good enough for the crime hotspot that is Westminister

    • 19/06/2010 at 6:03 pm

      D’accord, Lord Blagger;
      1 Taken we are to ‘hold the fort’ while this telegraphed creation-stage Oeuvre (of yours) is all-round and in-depth pegged-down ?
      (Urgent:) Taking it also, that ‘crime hot spot’ indicates in this case a ‘loop-holey crime-permitting headquarters’ rather than an ‘arsoned-roaring-flaming-fireworks-conflagration’ ? noting that ‘Westminster’ would be a smidgen too vast to be thought of merely as a creatively red-hot tinyish ‘crucible’ )?

      2 Were we (Britain) to have had already ready a nearby several-thousand-strong British Non-legislative House of Knowledge and Life-Experience, all ‘Competitors’, ‘Strangers’ , ‘Tourists’ and ‘Public’ could be passed through its wall-sized TV and CCTV screen theatres, the while enjoying either lunch or a Devonshire Cream Tea overtly; or for more ‘special’ visitors, the same in one-way vision ‘boxes’, some reserved for known-allied visitors, but some having been sectioned-off (even in the Non-legislative British House of Knowledge and Life-experience) for ‘Competitors’ and ‘Suspicious Strangers’:

      3 I submit that at this stage no-one can be sure how such an Oeuvre’s details would be Ordered.

  11. Twm O'r Nant
    18/06/2010 at 3:43 pm

    I am always impressed by the amazing security
    discipline, of parliament, but first of all, in the HofL, consider the exemplary skills of the white gloved Society of Doormen (SoDs?!)without whom the HofL would collapse in chaos!

  12. Twm O'r Nant
    19/06/2010 at 11:38 am

    There is also a move to greater involvement of the public with the democracy of parliament.

    Successful endeavours to keep them right out out of the places altogether are obviously also at hand.

    Is this the usual contretemps of totalitarianism (of left or right) at odds with democratic need?

    • Lord Blagger
      19/06/2010 at 5:46 pm

      Twn O’r Nant.

      Don’t you know your place in society? It’s for the Lords and MPs to tell you what to do.

      After all, you don’t get a say in any issues. You just get to pick once in a while who gets to tell you what to do, and then only if you live in a marginal.

      You certainly don’t get to make any decisions about who sits in the Lords and costs you 2,000 pounds plus a day.

      This move to having gated communities where MPs and Lords can live in safety, away from the people they screw up is already underway. Look at Downing Street for a good example.

      Even the Queen is being sacrificed for the security of MPs. The Police can’t find a working CCTV camera on Constituition hill for example.

      Lord Blagger

  13. 19/06/2010 at 5:09 pm

    This typifies the independence of mind and spirit that will either sink or save the HoL.

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