Commons tours ‘big security risk’


Published: Sunday 26th October 2014 by The News Editor

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An MP has warned that tours of Parliament represent a “big risk” amid reports that Islamic extremists have used them to “scope out” the building.

Intelligence sources told the Mail on Sunday that individuals linked to terror groups had participated in “history tours” around the Palace.

Although visitors are banned from taking photographs inside, there are fears they could study the layout and identify weaknesses in security.

The concerns have been raised in the wake of the gun attack on the Canadian Parliament, which saw a soldier killed at the National War Memorial before the assailant was shot dead.

More than a million members of the public enter the Westminster estate every year, with numbers expected to rise as the House authorities seek to raise more money from tourism.

Labour MP Barry Sheerman said: “What has happened in Canada is a wake-up call to us all. Opening up Parliament to tours is fine in principle, but it does carry big risks.

“The traffic through the Commons now is enormous.

‘When I raised this danger earlier this year I had my knuckles rapped. The former Commons Clerk Sir Robert Rogers accused me of being a scaremonger.

“But it does not just belong to the realms of Doctor Who for people to blow up Big Ben.”

However, an aide to Speaker John Bercow told the newspaper the British Parliament was “much more secure” than its Canadian cousin. While the Ottawa complex had only been at medium alert level, the Commons had been “at, or close to, the highest level of alert pretty much since the IRA threat in the 1970s”.

“The day people would rather click on the internet to read about politics than come to Parliament to see it in action would be a dark day for democracy,” the aide added.

“We must not hand that propaganda victory to the terrorists.”

Published: Sunday 26th October 2014 by The News Editor

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