Mass Lobbies

Mass Lobbies

Mass Lobbies

Guidance on Mass Lobbies A mass lobby is when more visitors arrive at Cromwell Green Entrance to the House of Commons to lobby Members than can be immediately accommodated in the Central Lobby. This leaflet gives guidance to both Members and organisers on the most effective way of handling mass lobbies through a partnership approach to planning and management.
Isn’t it a basic right in a free society for people to lobby their elected representatives and make their feelings known? Of course. As is the freedom of people to go about their normal business with a minimum of disruption. That means every effort should be made to achieve a balance between the rights and freedoms of those taking part in a lobby and those working on the Parliamentary Estate. How many people can be admitted into the Palace of Westminster? Up to 100 people may be permitted in Central Lobby at any one time. That includes lobbyists and others. Lobbyists do not have to be escorted between Cromwell Green Entrance and Central Lobby. Children under the age of 16 must be accompanied by an adult. When can lobbies take place? Lobbyists are not admitted until after the House sits at 14.30 on Mondays and Tuesdays, at 11.30 on Wednesdays, 10.30 on Thursdays or after 09.30 on sitting Fridays. Lobbies can only take place when the House is sitting.

Where can Members meet lobbyists? In a Committee Room or in the Interview Rooms off Westminster Hall. These rooms can only be booked by a Member, (see leaflet Committee Rooms, Conference, Meeting and Interview Rooms). No other rooms are available for this purpose. All invitations, notices or circulars in connection with these meetings must be issued in the Member’s name. If large numbers are expected, it is advisable to insert a notice in the All-Party Whip to inform other Members. What can Members do to ensure a successful lobby? Ensure that the organisers contact Police Operations (x6882), and also Charing Cross Police Station if a demonstration is involved. It is recommended that organisers of high volume lobbies consider booking an outside venue where lobbyists can wait or be addressed before or after they enter the House, e.g. the Methodist Central Hall, or other suitable nearby locations. Remember that the numbers admitted to the Parliamentary precincts during the course of a mass lobby will be limited. There is a list of the relevant telephone numbers at the end of this leaflet. Should letters of appointment with Members be discouraged? Definitely. It is not always possible to guarantee access to Central Lobby for lobbyists with an appointment for a specific time, so there can be delays and frustration. In any case, Members may be unable to keep appointments punctually because of business in the Chamber or elsewhere. How else can Members help? The co-operation of Members is important for the success of a mass lobby. There are several ways

Members can help. First by holding short meetings in a Committee Room or in the Interview Rooms off Westminster Hall so that as many lobbyists as possible can meet Members. Secondly, it is important to remember that special care is needed at Cromwell Green Entrance to avoid queue-jumping, particularly as the sight of Members coming outside to pick out parties of lobbyists from the queue can easily inflame tempers. How can Members find out more information? From the Serjeant at Arms’ x3030 or the Metropolitan Police Operations Office x6882. Lobby organisers are welcome and encouraged to have meetings with the House authorities before an event. How can organisers ensure the lobby is a success? By accepting that organising a lobby is a big responsibility. Organisers may be blamed for the consequences if things go wrong, particularly if there are mistakes with event planning or control. Consulting the House authorities and taking their advice is the best way to ensure success. What are organisers’ main responsibilities? They need to be aware of the 1986 Public Order Act, which states that failure to give the police written advance notice of the date, time, venue and route of a procession, or failure to tell them of any changes or to comply with any changes, conditions or prohibitions required by the police on processions or assemblies could be criminal offences. It is also important to understand that in order to ensure free access to the Houses of Parliament for Members the Commissioner of Police may direct the dispersal of certain assemblies or processions in the surrounding area.

Mass Lobbies

How important is it for stewards to be appointed? An agreed plan for a public event could be ineffective if there is no control, so it is vital for organisers to keep control throughout. This is normally achieved by the use of stewards. They act as the organisers’ agents and ensure that the participants abide by what has been agreed, carrying out the organisers’ decisions as the event proceeds in consultation with the House authorities. How many stewards should there be? Enough to ensure all the participants understand the organisers’ wishes. Although events vary, at least one steward to every 50 participants is recommended. If participants arrive by coach, it is best to appoint one or more steward to each coach. How should stewards be briefed? They should know the organisers’ intentions and arrangements that have been agreed with the House authorities. A meeting between the organisers and the House authorities immediately prior to the lobby is recommended. Who should be appointed as stewards? It is vital to select the right people. They should be firm, yet tactful, friendly and good-humoured. The most effective stewards are the ones who develop enough rapport with the participants for whom they are responsible, which will enable them to identify and defuse potentially difficult situations and promote an atmosphere of goodwill. What is the best way to ensure the stewards are easily identifiable? Obviously participants and others need to know who the stewards are. Experience shows that lapel badges are

not enough and that a distinctive garment or coloured tabard should be worn. These should be issued to stewards before the event. However, garments or tabards with political slogans are not acceptable. Please seek advice from the Serjeant at Arms on acceptability x3030. Are there arrangements for disabled lobbyists? Special arrangements for wheelchair users may be made. In certain circumstances, if many of the lobbyists are disabled, exceptional arrangements can be made to hold the lobby in Westminster Hall. The Serjeant at Arms can advise on when such arrangements are permitted. Can loudspeakers or megaphones be used? The use of loudspeakers outside of Parliament needs the agreement of Westminster City Council. Loudspeakers and megaphones are not permitted inside Parliament. Can Members entertain lobbyists in the House? Yes, in the Jubilee Café off Westminster Hall or subject to the general rule about not entertaining more than three guests in the Strangers’ Bar or Terrace Cafeteria. Guests should not be left unaccompanied by a Member in areas not open to the public. Are banners and placards allowed? Banners, placards, flags, leaflets and similar items are not permitted within the confines of the Parliamentary Estate and lobbyists will be required to leave such items at entry points. Lobbyists wearing garments bearing slogans or inappropriate clothing (eg. fancy dress) will be denied access.

Animals? No animals are allowed inside the precincts except for guide and hearing dogs. Useful telephone numbers Serjeant at Arms’ – 020 7219 3030, Fax 020 7799 2178 Police Operations, Palace of Westminster – 020 7219 6882, Fax 020 7219 4800 Operations and Events Office, Charing Cross Police Station – 020 7321 7524, Fax 020 7321 7700 Administration Office, Methodist Central Hall Westminster – 020 7222 8010, Fax 020 7222 6883.

House of Commons London SW1A 0AA
www.parliament.uk

2010

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