SOCPA: The GLA’s campaign against Brian Haw

Having failed to get rid of Brian Haw by force the Greater London Authority is trying again by legislation, their responses to the government consultation ‘Managing Protest around Parliament’ all seem to be aimed at getting rid of the peace camp. And the government agrees with them, SOCrAP isn’t buried yet and they’re already robbing its corpse.

Time for a protest outside City Hall?

“The Government received 512 responses during the 12 week consultation period. Representations were received from 25 campaign groups, from six MPs and two Peers, from a number of other interested stakeholders including the Metropolitan Police Service,the Greater London Authority,Westminster City Council and the Law Society of Scotland.”

“The Greater London Authority (GLA) commented that any discussions on management of protests in Parliament Square needed to take into account proposals to redevelop Parliament Square “to create a more accessible, safe and high quality place”. They also commented that while Trafalgar Square was a good model for successfully managing demonstrations, its layout was different to Parliament Square in terms of its safe pedestrian access and hard landscaped surfaces. The GLA believed that Trafalgar Square had a long and established historical tradition as a place to protest as opposed to Parliament Square.”

“The Greater London Authority commented that a key concern for the Mayor was proportionality and duration, arguing that if a protest took place it would limit public use of Parliament Square and protests should therefore be limited in duration. ”


Sir George Young (Con): On part 1 of the Bill, although no one would object to orderly and peaceful demonstrations in Parliament square, many people object to permanent, unsightly encampments in the middle of a great, historic city. Will the Bill put that right?

Mr. Straw: I understand that there are strong feelings about that. Those encampments are unsightly, but they also represent people exercising a right to demonstrate. The changes in the law have not been conspicuously successful– It is no good pointing at me; I am not the police. The changes in the law have not been conspicuously successful in dealing with the problem, and they have appeared to be pretty heavy handed as well, so better arrangements are needed. Let us see what the House has to say about it.


Lord Hunt of Kings Heath: My Lords, on the substantive question that the noble Baroness raises on sessional orders, there has clearly been a lot of concern about whether some provisions of the SOCPA are necessary and whether they are an inhibitor to legitimate protests and demonstrations outside Parliament. However, there is also concern that if those provisions are simply repealed and problems arise in the future with regard to open and free access to Parliament and issues around noise there will not be sufficient powers to deal with those problems sensibly and effectively.