§ Mr. David Ashby (Leicestershire, North-West)
On a. point of order, Mr. Speaker. My point of order arises out of a meeting that is taking place within one mile of the House of Commons. The matter is dealt with on page 224 of "Erskine May", which says:not more than fifty persons shall meet together within the distance of one mile from the gate of Westminster Hall … to consider or prepare a petition or other address to both Houses, or either House of Parliament, on any day on which those Houses, shall meet and sit.In Jubilee gardens, which is within one mile of this building, there has been a meeting that has been addressed by someone called Mr. Arthur Scargill. I submit that the meeting is intended to intimidate the House and incite some of its Members. As that gentleman could be in control until 2004, this is an important matter. I ask for your ruling on this matter, Mr. Speaker, because such meetings are most unfortunate.
§ Mr. Speaker
I thank the hon. Gentleman for having given me notice of his point of order. He will observe that the Acts of Parliament to which he referred are closely tied to the purpose of presenting a petition or address to Parliament. I am not aware that that is the objective of the persons at present assembled in Jubilee gardens. Furthermore, enforcement of the law is a matter for the police, not me. The Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police acts under directions given by the two Houses at the commencement of each Session to keep free and open the streets leading to the Houses of Parliament to ensure the access of Members of Parliament to them. As far as I am aware, that is happening today.
§ Mr. Dennis Skinner (Bolsover)
Further to that point of order, Mr. Speaker. I am pleased that, at the end of your statement, you referred to the free access of hon. Members to Parliament because one of our number, my hon. Friend the Member for Coventry, South-East (Mr. Nellist), was making his way to the House a little over one and a half hours ago in accordance with what you have just said when he was obstructed by one of the Prime Minister's private army—the police—and arrested. In view of what you have just said, Mr. Speaker, I think that you have a duty to make inquiries into that matter to see under what pretext my hon. Friend was arrested while coming here to represent his constituents.