Sir Lindsay Hoyle hints at tightening of Commons security after Extinction Rebellion protest
XR activists booked on an official tour of the building and superglued themselves in a chain around the Speaker’s chair.
Security at Parliament will be tightened to prevent a repeat of protests in the House of Commons chamber, Sir Lindsay Hoyle has suggested.
The Speaker said steps are being taken to “minimise the risk of a reoccurrence” of the action taken by Extinction Rebellion (XR), with police and parliamentary security changing their approach given more protests are planned in the coming fortnight.
XR activists booked on an official tour of the building superglued themselves in a chain around the Speaker’s chair and read out a speech in support of a citizens’ assembly to act on climate matters.
The protest on Friday, involving around 50 XR members, also saw a person climb scaffolding near Westminster Hall while two others used bike locks to chain themselves to the railings at the New Palace Yard entrance.
The Metropolitan Police (MPS) made eight arrests and launched an investigation into the incident.
Commons Speaker Sir Lindsay, opening business in the chamber on Monday, told MPs: “Steps are being taken to minimise the risk of a recurrence. On September 2 2022, four groups of Extinction Rebellion activists came onto the estate as ticket holders on paid tours.
“One of these groups superglued themselves to one another around the Speaker’s chair. The parliamentary security team and MPS worked closely together to ensure all Extinction Rebellion protesters were removed safely and as quickly as possible from the House of Commons.
“Eight individuals were arrested and have since been released on bail. The police investigation into this incident is now taking place in close liaison with parliamentary security to establish the full circumstances of this incident.
“Given the number of protests and campaigns planned over the coming fortnight, and drawing on the events of Friday, the parliamentary security and MPS have adjusted their posture accordingly.
“You will all understand why I cannot go into what details and what processes are being put in place.”
Sir Lindsay said it was a “real shame” people have had their visits to Parliament disrupted and cancelled following the protest.
He added: “The right of protest is a fundamental principle of our democracy, however, the rights to peaceful protest do not extend to unlawful activity.”
The Speaker went on: “The security of parliament and the police will take appropriate action to deal with any such acts on the parliamentary estate in the future.”
Home Secretary Priti Patel said: “I do want to endorse everything Mr Speaker has just said because we do enjoy the right to lawful peaceful protest but also open democracy as well.
“Those that behave in this way should feel the full force of the law.”