British parliamentarians furious at pro Tamil Tiger demonstrations
in London city.
(By : Janaka Alahapperuma from London)
"Our Capital city has been brought to a standstill by
a bunch of demonstrators who have, in effect, occupied Parliament
Square" Hon MP for Aldershot, Mr Gerald Howarth angrily told at the
House of Commons debate in British Parliament on 11th May 2009. Mr
Howarth was supported by many other British Parliamentarians including
the Speaker of the House of Commons, Rt. Hon Michael Martin.
Speaker MP Martin said "demonstrating is part of a
democracy, but no one has ever expected a demonstration to hijack
Parliament square and the roads, and thereby stop others performing
their democratic duties". He also promised the House to provide more
information regarding this matter, later in the week.
Police said "These demonstrators have taken the
British Law into their own hands". Tamil Tigers are considered as a
banned terrorist group by the UK government. However Police further said
that they have noticed red flags being flown at the protests bearing the
symbol of the Tamil Tigers. This would clearly indicate to British
public that the banned terrorist organization is the main force behind
these illegal demonstrations. Even though they deny any link with Tamil
Tigers, protesters chanted their support for the Tamil Tigers at each
and every protest.
At the parliament debate Rt Hon Michael Martin, MP
Speaker of the House of Commons, MP Gerald Howarth and Conservative MPs
Sir Nicholas Winterton (Macclesfield) and Sir Patrick Cormack (South
Staffordshire) spoke against the illegal demonstrations which paralyzed
the London City. Meanwhile, Labour MP Jeremy Corbyn (Islington, North)
and Liberal Democrat MP Simon Hughes (North Southwark and Bermondsey)
supported the pro Tamil Tiger demonstrators.
The Hansard Report of the Debate is as follows.
House of Commons Debates - 11 May 2009
11 May 2009 : Column 550
I move on. Does the hon. Member for Aldershot (Mr.
Gerald Howarth) now wish to raise a point of order?
Mr. Gerald Howarth: On a point of order, Mr.
Speaker. Yet again, our capital city has been brought to a standstill by
a bunch of demonstrators who have, in effect, occupied Parliament square
for about six weeks. I have raised the matter with you before. Although
it is true that Members have had access, albeit not to the main entrance
of the House-we have had restricted access-there are nevertheless
hundreds of thousands of people out there going about their business,
who have had their business lives and their personal lives disrupted by
the demonstration, at enormous cost to them and their businesses, as
well as inconvenience. I know that the
Metropolitan Police Commissioner has had added to his
list of things to do that which you asked him over the weekend to do,
but I have raised the matter with you before. It is surely unacceptable
that these people should be allowed to take over Parliament square and
disrupt the entire centre of our capital city. I wonder what on earth
the Metropolitan Police Commissioner is doing about it, bearing in mind
that every police officer to whom I have spoken has made it clear to me
that it is his view that the Commissioner will take no action, because
after the G20 they are completely frit of doing anything for fear of
ending up in court themselves.
Several hon. Members rose -
11 May 2009 : Column 551
Mr. Speaker: If hon. Members allow me to
answer, perhaps they will not need to make their points.
I have a great deal of sympathy with the case that the
hon. Gentleman makes. Perhaps later on this week I will make a statement
after I have brought people into the House to try to resolve the matter.
Many of us were involved in demonstrations before we came into the
House, because demonstrating is part of a democracy, but we would have
those demonstrations and then leave. No one has ever expected a
demonstration to hijack Parliament square and the roads, and thereby
stop others performing their democratic duties. I will be able to give
the hon. Gentleman more information later in the week.
Jeremy Corbyn (Islington, North) (Lab): Further
to that point of order, Mr. Speaker. I am pleased by what you have just
said, but will you assure us that demonstrations and the right to
demonstrate will not be impeded? Could we all not have some sympathy for
the Tamil people out there who are desperate to do something to achieve
safety for their families back home? Can we not recognise, at a human
level, that people want their voice to be heard and for this House and
our Government to do what they can to bring about a ceasefire in Sri
Mr. Speaker: I can understand that people have
issues on which they wish to be heard, but to hijack an important part
of this city-with hunger strikers, tents and food stalls, but no toilet
facilities-is not the proper way to conduct a demonstration. I will say
something further on the situation later this week.
Sir Patrick Cormack (South Staffordshire) (Con):
Further to that point of order, Mr. Speaker. When you have your
discussions later this week, will you please discuss with the
Metropolitan Police Commissioner the advisability of bringing in an
implement that would be used in virtually every other capital city-the
Mr. Speaker: We have enough problems without
water cannons; we do not need water cannons.
Sir Nicholas Winterton (Macclesfield) (Con):
Further to that point of order, Mr. Speaker. May I seek your advice,
because I was personally involved in Parliament square this morning? I
was coming in by car and I was almost at Chancellor's Gate when the
11 May 2009 : Column 552
burst out of Parliament square and occupied the road.
I was delayed in attending a meeting in the House. Indeed, I was held up
for an hour and 10 minutes, until the police were able to sort out the
traffic. Is it not the case that Members of Parliament and those
associated with the House should have unimpeded access, and the police
and the authorities should seek to guarantee that?
Mr. Speaker: I ask the hon. Gentleman to wait
until I have further information later this week.
Simon Hughes (North Southwark and Bermondsey) (LD):
Further to that point of order, Mr. Speaker. I do not condone people
going on to the streets, but I wish to place it on record that I know
for a certain fact that the demonstration in the square was applied for
lawfully and granted permission for at least the last four weeks, and it
will be able to continue lawfully for some weeks to come. I hope that
colleagues will understand that there are laws, passed by this House,
governing these matters, and the applicants for the demonstration have
complied with those laws.
Mr. Speaker: I know that I might be in a bit of
a bad mood today, but let me say that when authorisation is given for 50
people to demonstrate, it means 50 people. It does not mean tents or
food stalls, or texts being sent to supporters to tell them to bring
little children along. That is not part of the authorisation of the
demonstration. As a former trade union officer, I know that when
somebody co-operates with the authorities to obtain permission for a
demonstration, they comply with the rules that they lay down. No one can
say that that happened in this case.
Let me add a further thing, because it relates to what
Sir Nicholas has said. People, including me, who have had to drive
around the square, have been put into a dangerous situation-the roads
have been blocked off, because police officers have had to put their
vans in the filter lane. So when anyone tells me that permission was
given, I say that it was given for a limited number of people, not a
Several hon. Members rose -
Mr. Speaker: Order. I think that we must move on. We
have got something called the main business, and we had better get that