UK Politics

Peers give MEPs free access after MPs withdrew passes

Parliament
Image caption MEPs will have passes for the Lords but not the Commons

Peers are to give MEPs special passes to allow them access to the House of Lords - after MPs removed their rights to Westminster passes.

The move by MPs last year was seen as a bid to deny BNP MEPs Nick Griffin and Andrew Brons access to Commons facilities.

But peers objected to what they saw as a "messy, shoddy" proposal.

Head of administration Lord Brabazon said work was under way on new passes giving access only to Lords' areas.

He said it would have been "preferable" - for administrative and security reasons - if the Commons and Lords had "identical rules" for passes.

'Altered appearance'

But he told peers that they had agreed to continue issuing Parliamentary passes to UK MEPs.

In a written statement, he said: "However, because of the decision taken by the House of Commons, it will be necessary to alter the appearance of UK MEPs' Parliamentary passes to make clear that they only grant access to the House of Lords' areas of the Parliamentary estate.

"In addition, the new passes will only operate the pass readers in the Lords' area.

"The work is already under way and the new style of pass will soon be issued to UK MEPs who have requested one."

When peers rejected the approach taken by the Commons last year, Labour's Lord Tomlinson said MEPs had enjoyed the right to passes "for the last 29 years without, as far as I'm aware, having produced any problems".

He suggested the issue could become "a very serious irritant between ourselves and the European Parliament".

At the time, the then Commons leader Harriet Harman said the decision had been made after a review of the rules relating to passes and concern about pressure on facilities.

But Labour MP John Mann said it would stop the BNP "parading round here as if they're legitimate politicians".

British MEPs have had automatic access to the Westminster Parliament since 1989.

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