The House of Lords today agreed to refer back a recommendation that would have given force to the House of Commons purported decision to stop UK MEPs from having passes admitting them to the Parliamentary Estate. The House of Commons decision was intended to avoid having to allow the BNP MEPs, Nick Griffin and Andrew Brons, access but would have had to apply to all MEPs.
In practice, this is not just a matter for the House of Commons. The Parliamentary Estate is a single entity and there is currently no way in which a passholder can be prevented from entering both ends of the building; it follows therefore that as currently constituted both Houses have to agree to deny passes to particular categories of person.
The original decision to give MEPs passes was intended to facilitate communication between UK MEPs and the UK Parliament and, when the issue was brought to the Lords today, the unanimous view expressed was that this interchange was valuable and important.
There are some 12,000 passholders with access to the Parliamentary Estate – the occasional access by MEPs has not produced any visible problems.
Summing up Lord Brabazon of Tara said:
“The Chairman of Committees: My Lords, I think I can honestly say that I have heard enough. [Laughter] Seldom have I heard such unanimous opposition by noble Lords on all sides and of all political complexions to a House Committee report. I can say that the committee should indeed reconsider this matter, taking into account what has been said today, and we will therefore do just that. Perhaps I may say that the amendment tabled by the noble Lord, Lord Tomlinson, is absolutely correct to refer this matter back to the House Committee, so I recommend that the House should agree with his amendment.
Noble Lords: Hear, hear.”
What was left unsaid was: why give Nick Griffin and his sidekick another opportunity to claim martyrdom?