Chapter 11 The Chamber, Buildings and Grounds
Meeting place for Parliament
The place at which meetings of Parliament are to be held is determined by the Governor-General (not by the House itself) and is indicated in the proclamation which summons Parliament to meet.
The place appointed in the proclamation summoning Parliament for Parliament to meet is not expressed with any greater particularity than the city of Wellington. The Governor-General may, by a further proclamation, change the place appointed for the meeting of Parliament, if that place is unsafe or uninhabitable,
for example as a result of an earthquake. Changing the place of meeting by such a proclamation does not bring the session to an end. Except in these circumstances, once Parliament has met following a summons, the place of meeting cannot be changed during the course of a session. Parliament would need to be prorogued and a new session summoned for the meeting place to be altered.
The first meetings of Parliament from 1854 onwards were held in Auckland in a building shared with the Auckland Provincial Council. The transport problems for members from outside the Auckland province were immense. It has been claimed that the South Island members spent nine weeks at sea on their way to attend the first Parliament.
These difficulties, combined with the relatively faster increase in population in the southern settlements, particularly in Otago, throughout the 1850s, resulted in strong pressure for Parliament to meet at a more central location, or for its meetings to rotate throughout the country. Implementation of a proposal to alternate the sessions of Parliament between Auckland and Wellington was postponed on the outbreak of the New Zealand wars, but the 1862 session was held in Wellington. In 1865 a permanent transfer of the seat of government from Auckland to Wellington was made following the recommendation of a commission appointed to study the matter. The site chosen for Parliament to meet was in Thorndon, Wellington, in the Wellington Provincial Council building, adjacent to the then Government House.
For more than 40 years the Legislative Council and the House of Representatives shared this site with Government House until the old Parliament House was destroyed by fire in 1907. The Governor moved to other accommodation to give the House a place to meet while a new building was being erected, and never returned to Parliament grounds, for shortly afterwards the present Government House in Newtown was completed. The General Assembly Library building had been completed in 1899 and work started on a new Parliament House adjacent to it in 1912. This was completed by 1922, but not to the original specification: as an economy measure, the southern section of the building was not proceeded with, and the old wooden Government House building was retained for use instead. As well as housing members, the new building accommodated Ministers’ offices which were transferred away from their departments; “Parliament House thus became not only the home of Parliament but also the centre of the administration.”
The parliamentary buildings are still the centre of administration. Since 1979, Ministers’ offices have been established in an executive wing to Parliament House, popularly known as the Beehive because of its shape, which is situated to the south of the main Parliament House on the site of the old Government House building. Work on the Beehive was carried out between 1969 and 1980. In addition to ministerial offices, it contains part of the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet, and the parliamentary refreshment and catering rooms, better known as Bellamy’s. Some further ministerial accommodation outside Parliament buildings has also been necessary owing to pressure on space in the Beehive. The main Parliament House building contains: the Chamber of the House of Representatives; the Council Chamber, the chamber of the former Legislative Council; select committee rooms, and offices for members and staff. A building connected to Parliament House and the Beehive, completed in 1981 for the Parliamentary Counsel Office, now houses the Parliamentary Press Gallery.
From 1991 to 1995, the House moved its meeting place to a temporary Chamber situated across the road from the Beehive at No. 3 The Terrace. This was to permit Parliament House and the library building to be strengthened against earthquake, refurbished (with an emphasis on restoring much of its original appearance), and further developed. Accommodation for members, their staffs and the parliamentary administration was provided in a building adjacent to the Chamber known as Bowen House. Parliament House was reoccupied in January 1996. Bowen House has been retained on a lease now vested in the Parliamentary Corporation.
It continues to accommodate members and staff and is linked by an underground walkway to the Beehive.
Together, the land occupied for parliamentary purposes – Parliament House, the library building, the Beehive, the Press Gallery building at the rear of the Beehive, and the land and premises subject to the Bowen House lease – constitute the parliamentary precincts both for legal and parliamentary purposes.
The House is empowered, by resolution, to vary the extent of the parliamentary precincts by adding to it or excluding from it land and premises. However, it cannot add land or premises unless the Crown or the Parliamentary Corporation already hold an interest in that land or premises.
The ground on which Parliament House, the library, the Beehive and the Press Gallery building now stand comprises three distinct parcels of land set aside at different times as reserve for use for parliamentary purposes. The whole of that land is now vested absolutely in Her Majesty the Queen for parliamentary purposes.
The Speaker is vested with the control and administration of the whole of the parliamentary precincts, on behalf of the House, whether Parliament is in session or not.
Between a general election and the first meeting of the House in a new Parliament, the person who was Speaker until the election continues to perform those functions.
In the case of a vacancy in the office of Speaker, the Deputy Speaker may perform the Speaker’s functions.
The Chamber of the House is 19.83 metres by 13.12 metres. The Speaker presides at an ornate raised chair – a gift of the House of Commons in 1951 to mark the centenary of parliamentary institutions in New Zealand
– and the Clerk of the House is seated at an oblong table (the Table of the House) immediately in front of and below the raised chair. On the Table are trays made of selected Samoan woods presented by the then Western Samoan Legislative Assembly in 1955.
On either side of the Speaker’s chair and the Table the members sit at desks arranged in three to five tiers in an irregular horseshoe shape, with the horseshoe divided at three points by gangways. One gangway at the far end of the Chamber leads beyond the bar of the House to an exit. The other two gangways are on either side of the Chamber. The one on the Speaker’s right leads into a lobby known as the Ayes Lobby, and the one on the left leads into the Noes Lobby.
The members of Parliament who are members of the Government occupy seats on the Speaker’s right. Those seats in the block nearest to the Speaker are occupied by Ministers, Parliamentary Under-Secretaries and whips. Other Government members occupy the seats at the far end of the Chamber beyond the gangway and, if necessary, some of the seats at the far end of the Chamber on the Speaker’s left beyond the central gangway. Opposition members occupy seats on the Speaker’s left. Although each member occupies an individual seat at what resembles an escritoire, the term “bench” (which is what members sit on in the House of Commons) is still used to refer to the seats occupied by Ministers (Treasury benches), the seats occupied by senior opposition members (front benches), the seats beyond the gangways on both sides of the House (cross benches), and to refer to non-ministerial members of Parliament generally (backbenchers).
The colour of the carpets and seats is green, a colour associated with the lower chamber of a legislature, which is what the House was until the abolition of the Legislative Council. Wooden plaques commemorating battlefields and campaigns engaged in by members of New Zealand’s defence forces are affixed to the Chamber and gallery walls.
Ministerial advisers are able to converse with their Minister from a bench situated immediately to the right of the Speaker’s chair. Immediately to the left of the chair there are seats available for former members of Parliament, heads of diplomatic missions and visiting members of overseas parliaments.
Seating in the Chamber
The Prime Minister, Deputy Prime Minister, Leader of the Opposition and deputy to the Leader of the Opposition sit facing each other in recognised front bench seats. Their respective whips are seated immediately behind them. Other Ministers and members are allocated seats within the area of the Chamber occupied by the party to which they belong on a basis determined by the party. As far as practicable, each party occupies a block of seats in the Chamber, so that its members are seated contiguously.
A member who is under suspension from his or her party continues to be seated within the area of seating allocated to that party.
It is also a recognised practice that, if at all possible, every party leader should have a front-bench seat.
The Speaker resolves any disputes about seating that may arise.
This generally involves the Speaker determining which area of the Chamber particular parties are to have allocated to them if the parties themselves cannot agree on this. Within these areas the allocation of seats to individual members of each party is left to the party leaders and their whips, and the Speaker does not intervene.
Conduct in the Chamber
It is the Speaker’s duty to maintain order and decorum in the House.
But Speakers often remind members that they too share severally in that responsibility so that the House can function in an orderly manner without damaging its reputation. Speakers must also take account of the state of opinion among members in the standards that they seek to impose. Informal consultation, discussion at the Business Committee, and occasionally more systematic canvassing of members’ opinions are means of gauging this.
In a reversal of the normal rules of courtesy, members must, when the Speaker rises, resume their seats. They must also be silent so that the Speaker can be heard without interruption.
Members can, within limits, speak from seats that are not their own. But, except when speaking in debate or voting, members are expected to occupy a seat in the Chamber and not to move around it.
It is acknowledged, however, that some members (such as party leaders and whips) have duties to perform in the House that require them to move around the Chamber in the course of carrying out those duties and the seating requirement is relaxed in respect of them.
Originally the seats that members occupied in the Chamber were intended to function as their offices because members did not have individual office space in the building. Even today they are still designed to facilitate members working on correspondence or other papers. Members have traditionally been permitted to read newspapers in the Chamber although these are no longer delivered to members at their seats as a matter of course. As technology has changed the use of other devices in the Chamber has been permitted too. There are a number of telephones installed, principally for leaders and whips. The installation of telephones and the use of electronic devices are subject to the Speaker’s discretion.
The Speaker has, for instance, permitted members to use laptop computers in the Chamber provided these can be used silently and unobtrusively.
But cellphones are not permitted and must be turned off within hearing of the Chamber.
Members are not permitted to drink or eat food in the Chamber (except water and inconspicuous confectionery such as peppermints).
Refreshment facilities are provided in the lobbies and it is to these that members must repair if they wish to consume food or beverages.
Knitting is permitted in the Chamber, but not by a Minister who is at the Table in charge of a bill in committee.
The standard of dress of members is also regarded as a matter of order under the general control of the Speaker.
There are no fashion codes prescribed. The Speaker is expected to take issue with any member who is not dressed in appropriate business attire, whether the member is male or female.
Male members are regularly polled by the Speaker on their attitude to wearing a jacket and tie in the Chamber.
Currently, by an overwhelming majority, this is the preferred standard of dress.
There is no rule against the wearing of a hat;
indeed, a hat was a normal article of attire among nineteenth-century parliamentarians (a member has been sworn-in wearing a hat
) and a rule requiring members to take off any hat they were wearing only while actually speaking was revoked as recently as 1985. However, members cannot wear a hat with advertising or a message written on it for the purpose of making a “silent interjection” in the Chamber.
Maintenance of order
Any conduct or remark in the Chamber that is heard or comes to the attention of the Speaker may be dealt with by the Speaker as a matter of order. The Speaker, in the course of a debate, often requires members to withdraw unparliamentary expressions and sometimes requires them to apologise for having used those expressions.
Withdrawal from the Chamber
To deal with more serious breaches of order there are more potent weapons in the Speaker’s armoury than merely requiring a member to apologise. In exceptional cases these may be resorted to. The Speaker has, on occasion, asked a member who has been persistently disorderly to withdraw voluntarily from the Chamber while a point of order or other matter is under discussion. This has helped to relieve tension and has obviated more serious steps being taken, but it depends on the co-operation of members.
In the absence of co-operation, or if the situation has deteriorated to such an extent that it is inappropriate to request a member to withdraw, the Speaker may order a member whose conduct is highly disorderly to withdraw from the Chamber for a period up to the remainder of the day’s sitting.
Any member who is thus ordered to withdraw cannot re-enter the Chamber during the period of exclusion, but he or she is not suspended from the service of the House and can carry out other duties as a member, such as voting.
Where the Speaker uses this power to order a member to withdraw from the Chamber, the objectionable conduct which gave rise to the Speaker’s action is dealt with finally by the order to leave the Chamber. The matter is at an end at that point. This contrasts with the situation where a member has defied the Chair and voluntarily left the Chamber rather than withdraw or apologise for unparliamentary remarks. In this case the matter is not at an end and the Speaker will deal with the member on his or her eventual return to the Chamber.
The Speaker when excluding the member under this provision may name the period of exclusion. If the Speaker does not name the period, the member may make inquiries of the Speaker through the Serjeant-at-Arms as to the period of exclusion from the Chamber.
Naming and suspension of a member
Whenever a member’s conduct is so grossly disorderly that the Speaker considers that simply ordering the withdrawal of the member would not be adequate, the Speaker can “name” the member and thereby call on the House to pass judgment on the member’s conduct.
The first member said to have been “named” in this way was Julius Vogel in 1887.
When a member is named, the Speaker says, “I name … [the member for …] for grossly disorderly conduct.”. It is not possible to define what conduct will be regarded as grossly disorderly and so warrant naming. This will depend very much on the individual circumstances that confront a Speaker. But the Speaker has indicated that a member flagrantly defying the Chair can expect to be dealt with in this way.
Where a member has been named, the House itself is asked to censure the conduct of the member and the Speaker accordingly states a question to the House immediately for the member to be suspended from the service of the House. This question is put without any amendment or debate.
If the motion is carried, the member is suspended for 24 hours, or for seven days if this is the second occasion on which he or she has been suspended in the same Parliament, or for 28 days if it is the third or more.
In each of the two latter cases, the day on which the member is suspended is not counted as one of the seven or 28 days of suspension; it is additional to them.
If a member who is suspended refuses to withdraw voluntarily from the House at once, the Serjeant-at-Arms will be called on by the Speaker to enforce the House’s direction. Should force prove to be necessary, the Speaker calls the House’s attention to this fact and the contumacious member is automatically suspended from the service of the House for the remainder of the calendar year.
Consequences of suspension
A member who is suspended from the service of the House suffers a number of disabilities during the period of suspension.
The member cannot—
•enter the Chamber (or the galleries
•have a vote cast in a party vote
•vote in a personal vote
•give or exercise a proxy vote (though the member is still part of the party’s membership in the House for the purposes of calculating how many proxies may be exercised for the party)
•serve on (or be replaced on
) a select committee
•serve as a member of the Intelligence and Security Committee
•lodge an oral or a written question (but a question already lodged may be dealt with or asked on the member’s behalf)
•lodge a notice of motion (but a notice already lodged may be dealt with on the member’s behalf)
•lodge an application for an urgent debate (but an application already lodged will be dealt with and, if accepted, a motion may be moved on the member’s behalf)
•submit an item for inclusion on a select committee’s agenda (but an item already submitted may be dealt with by the committee).
Contempt of the House
Serious disorder in the House by members could also be held to be a contempt of the House; indeed ultimately the House’s power to protect itself against disorder, whether by its own members or by strangers, depends upon its privilege to punish for contempt. (See Chapter 47.) The fact that the House has by its Standing Orders set out procedures for the disciplining of members for breaches of order does not prevent the House proceeding against a member under its privilege of punishing for contempt.
Thus, even though a member may have been suspended for grossly disorderly conduct, it is open to the House to hold that member in contempt in respect of that conduct and punish the member for it.
However, the fact that the member had already been suspended for the offence would be a relevant factor for the Speaker to consider in determining whether a question of privilege was involved and for the Privileges Committee and the House to consider in determining any punishment for the contempt.
Adjournment or suspension of the House for disorder
In addition to the powers to proceed against individual members, the Speaker has authority to adjourn the House or to suspend the House’s sitting if the Speaker considers it necessary to do so to maintain order.
The Speaker automatically resumes the chair in any case in which the chairperson temporarily suspends the proceedings of the committee of the whole House for disorder.
It is then up to the Speaker as to whether the House should be adjourned or suspended or whether the Speaker should otherwise deal with the disorder that had arisen in committee and declare the House in committee again.
After suspending a sitting the Speaker decides when the sitting will resume,
which may be at any time up to the time that the House would have adjourned in any case. If the Speaker adjourns a sitting the House stands adjourned until the next sitting day.
The power to suspend the sitting was last used by the Speaker in 1987, when the sitting was suspended for five minutes.
Order in the committee of the whole House
The rules for maintaining order in the Chamber in a committee of the whole House are similar to those in the House itself.
The chairperson is responsible for keeping order in committee and has the same powers as the Speaker in the House to require a member to withdraw unparliamentary expressions and apologise for having uttered them.
The chairperson may also require a member whose conduct is highly disorderly to withdraw from the committee for a period fixed by the chairperson. In this case the period cannot exceed the time that the House spends in committee that day and does not apply whenever the House resumes during the course of the sitting (for example, to take a ruling from the Speaker). If the member has not been readmitted to the Chamber by the time the committee reports back to the House that day, the exclusion automatically lapses.
The chairperson may also name a member for grossly disorderly conduct. In such a case the proceedings of the committee must be immediately suspended and the fact of the naming reported to the House.
A committee of the whole House cannot punish a member; only the House can do that. Where the committee does report the naming of a member to the House, the Speaker institutes the same procedures as if the naming had been made by the Speaker in the House and immediately puts a question for the member’s suspension.
The chairperson may also temporarily suspend the proceedings of the committee of the whole House in any case of grave disorder.
In such a case the Speaker automatically resumes the chair.
It is then for the Speaker to determine what, if any, further action is required to be taken. Whenever the committee resumes sitting again after such a temporary suspension, its proceedings are resumed at the point they had reached when the sitting was interrupted by the suspension.
Admission of officials to the Chamber
Officials are permitted to occupy seats on the right of the Chair to assist Ministers with business before the House or the seats on the right or left of the Chair to assist other members in charge of a bill before the House.
Officials are expected to conform to the dress standards required of members and otherwise to conduct themselves appropriately. Members are not permitted to refer to the presence of such officials in the course of debate or to approach them directly without the Minister’s concurrence. If a member considers that an official is acting inappropriately this should be raised as a point of order or discussed privately with the Minister. On no account should the officials be directly accosted.
From time to time the Speaker issues guidance for how officials should conduct themselves when occupying these seats.
The lobbies on either side of the Chamber are set aside for the exclusive use of members while the House is sitting. Strangers should not enter them during this time.
The lobbies are used in a formal sense to transact business of the House when a personal vote is being held. But generally they are not a place of formal business, rather they are a place of retreat. Consequently, there are few, if any, rules as to how they may be used (food and beverages may be consumed there for example, but smoking is no longer permitted
). Indeed, formerly, the Speaker was not regarded as having jurisdiction over what occurred in the lobbies, except during a vote.
Now the Speaker’s delegation of authority from the House to control admission runs as equally to the lobbies as to the Chamber and the galleries,
so disorder in the lobbies could be dealt with by the Speaker if necessary.
The press gallery is situated immediately above and behind the Speaker’s chair. Admission to it is restricted to members of the Parliamentary Press Gallery. (See Chapter 45.)
Around the sides of the Chamber and at the far end of the Chamber are public galleries. The gallery at the far end of the Chamber is known as the Speaker’s gallery. Admission to it may, at the Speaker’s discretion, be subject to stricter dress standards than the other galleries. Some 400 persons in total can be seated in the public galleries.
Admission to the galleries
The right to control access to its proceedings and determine the conditions under which such access is granted are aspects of the House’s privileges.
(See Chapter 46.)
Conduct in the galleries
It is a condition under which strangers are permitted to be present at proceedings of the House that they do not misbehave or interrupt the business of the House. The Speaker and the Serjeant-at-Arms are authorised by the House to require any strangers who misconduct themselves or interrupt proceedings to withdraw from the galleries and the parliamentary precincts.
In committee, the chairperson has this authority also. The Speaker has ordered all strangers to withdraw from particular galleries when it was impossible to distinguish between strangers in those galleries who were misbehaving and strangers who were not.
Other control over the behaviour of strangers in the galleries is exercised by means of the House’s privilege to punish for contempt. A stranger wilfully interrupting the business of the House commits a contempt, which can be punished by the House as such.
Members are not permitted to converse with strangers from the floor of the House.
They must go out beyond the bar of the House if they wish to speak to visitors.
It is also a rule of debate that members in their speeches should not refer to the presence of strangers
or to what is happening in the galleries.
If members wish to express greetings to persons in the galleries they need leave of the House.
Amongst other things, these rules are designed to avoid any provocation of interruptions to the proceedings of the House by strangers present at the time. Strangers must refrain from encroaching into those parts of the House set apart for members while the House is sitting; that is, the floor of the House and the lobbies.
Members themselves may not bring strangers into those areas.
Celebrations in the galleries
The Speaker will permit contributions from the galleries in some circumstances. It is traditional when members make their maiden speeches for their families and supporters to be on hand to hear them and a wider latitude is given to persons in the galleries on these occasions. Less commonly, a group particularly affected by a piece of legislation (such as legislation effecting a settlement of a Treaty of Waitangi grievance) may wish to celebrate the occasion of the legislation passing. Speakers may permit this to occur.
The Speaker has set out the circumstances and conditions in which a contribution from the galleries may be permitted—
•prior permission of the Speaker is always required
•permission of the Speaker must be sought in writing
•permission will only be given for a contribution that is celebratory in nature and which relates to a speech or decision of the House
•usually the contribution will only be permitted between speeches, so as not to interrupt a member speaking, but on an occasion such as a maiden speech, if the member desires it, it can be permitted during a speech
•otherwise a celebratory contribution can take place only after the House’s decision has been made; it can never be used to influence the House’s deliberations on a matter
•karanga (welcoming call) and waiata (song) may be permitted but not anything in the nature of a speech (whaikorero)
•accompanying music is not permitted.
The Parliament buildings
The Parliament buildings contain the premises of a number of separate buildings: Parliament House, the Parliamentary Library building, the Beehive and the building occupied by the Parliamentary Press Gallery. It is not common to regard Bowen House as being part of the Parliament buildings but as it is part of the parliamentary precincts it is also under the control and administration of the Speaker. The Parliament buildings and Bowen House contain, as well as the Chamber, meeting rooms for select committees and caucuses, office accommodation for members, their staffs and parliamentary staff and other service areas necessary for a complex that has over 1,000 people working in it and through which approximately 100,000 visitors pass each year. The latter principally consist of tour parties conducted under the aegis of the Parliamentary Service. The buildings also contain reception areas which, with the Speaker’s permission, may be used by groups from outside Parliament.
The buildings are used for parliamentary purposes as places of work. They are not places in which it is traditional or appropriate for persons to conduct demonstrations (unlike in Parliament grounds, for example). They are protected by security guards employed by the Parliamentary Service with the aim of safeguarding the personal security of members, staff and other persons who have resort to them to carry out parliamentary business or to observe proceedings. The Speaker exercises the powers of an occupier to exclude persons who act inappropriately in the light of these considerations. Occasionally, the House has resolved that certain persons be excluded from all or part of the buildings.
The Speaker, exercising control of the buildings on the House’s behalf, has implemented these decisions under the powers possessed by the Speaker as occupier.
The Speaker has entered into an agreement with the Commissioner of Police as to the exercise of policing powers within the parliamentary precincts. The police liaise with the Parliamentary Service about operational policing functions and acknowledge the need to seek the authority of the Speaker to interview members within Parliament buildings.
The Speaker has also issued a protocol setting out the conditions under which reporters and associated camera and sound persons may have access to members for interviews and filming in the buildings
and supplemented this with a statement as to the new media’s positioning within the buildings, especially when members are making their way to the Chamber.
The courts have recognised the necessity, for its proper functioning, for a legislature, through its Speaker, to have control over the parliamentary precincts, including the power to exclude persons from the premises. It is for the House and the Speaker to judge whether in a particular case it is necessary to exclude an individual.
Usually the power to exclude a person from the buildings would be invoked by an official of the Parliamentary Service under delegation from the Speaker, rather than by the Speaker personally or by the Speaker at the behest of the House.
A number of different departments of state occupy accommodation in Parliament buildings: Office of the Clerk, Parliamentary Service, Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet and Department of Internal Affairs. (The Parliamentary Counsel Office, which was formerly located in the Parliament buildings, now occupies its own premises outside the buildings.) These may have their own workplace policies on various matters, particularly in relation to smoking. The Speaker has therefore prescribed a complex-wide smoke-free policy after being guided by a survey of members and staff opinion. Under this policy the entire complex is declared to be smoke-free.
The Parliament grounds
The Parliament grounds are also part of the parliamentary precincts and are therefore subject to the Speaker’s control and administration, but they are regarded as being in a different position to Parliament buildings as regards access and use.
The Parliament grounds are freely open to, and used by, the public.
Traditionally, they have been a place of resort for persons wishing to hold rallies, demonstrations and meetings, sometimes with and sometimes without, the prior permission of the Speaker. (This is so only insofar as pedestrian access is concerned; vehicular access is expected to be for the purposes of transacting business in the buildings and is subject to stricter controls, particularly for security reasons.) The law relating to criminal trespass does apply to the Parliament grounds. The Speaker is able to exercise the rights of an occupier to require persons to leave the grounds and can delegate this power to other persons.
Trespass notices are not generally issued by the Speaker personally; they are issued by members of the police or senior Parliamentary Service staff under powers delegated to them by the Speaker.
The powers that the Speaker possesses as the occupier of Parliament grounds are conferred for the performance of a public function. Principally, these powers are entrusted to the Speaker to promote the effective functioning of the parliamentary system. They are explicitly conferred on behalf of the House.
But the Speaker and the Speaker’s delegates must exercise the rights of an occupier in a manner that is reasonable having regard to the fundamental right of every person to assemble peacefully,
a right that applies within Parliament grounds. If a demonstration became disorderly or breached or threatened to breach the peace or to infringe unreasonably the rights of others (including those of the occupier to use the grounds), the Speaker would not be acting unreasonably in requiring the demonstrators to leave the grounds.
But in no circumstances should the right to assemble be abridged arbitrarily or without good reason. In exercising the occupier’s powers the Speaker must: act in good faith, exercise the powers for the purposes conferred (as a public function) and not for an ulterior purpose (for example, party advantage), exercise the powers reasonably when balanced against the rights and freedoms of those affected, exercise the powers with due regard to others present in the grounds and others wishing to enter or use the grounds, and take into consideration the need effectively to operate, manage and control the property.
The Speaker has acknowledged these constraints on the exercise of the occupier’s powers and has declared that the powers will be used positively to facilitate the holding of demonstrations at the traditional venue of Parliament grounds provided that the manner of demonstrating is consistent with the Speaker’s other duties to members and other persons using the buildings and grounds.
It is for the Speaker to judge in each case whether demonstrators are conducting themselves in a way which makes it reasonable to require them to desist or to leave.
The Speaker’s expectations for the use of the grounds by demonstrators are—
•participants must assemble within and disperse from the grounds in an orderly manner, using the pedestrian ways so as to avoid damage to the lawns and flower beds and so as not to interfere with the flow of vehicular traffic
•participants must not mount the main steps nor interfere with the use of Parliament buildings by those entering or leaving it in the normal course of their business
•sound amplification equipment may be used, but never from the main steps of Parliament buildings without express permission; it must be directed away from the buildings and not operated in a manner disruptive to occupants of the buildings
•the size of any deputation from the group waiting upon a Minister or member is to be limited to six people
•participants are to conduct themselves in such a way as to avoid any breach of the peace
•no food may be prepared or sold within Parliament grounds, but there is no restriction on people consuming food that they may have brought with them
•without express authority to the contrary, no demonstration should last for longer than a normal working day, that is, eight hours
•no vehicles may be brought on to the grounds as part of a demonstration
•no structure, such as a tent, may be erected.
Members are not prevented from taking part in demonstrations in the grounds or from addressing the crowds, but if they do so they must abide by the same rules as apply to the public.
Organisers of demonstrations are asked to inform the Speaker’s office or the Parliamentary Service management of the intention to hold a demonstration in Parliament grounds, particularly one of any size, so that appropriate arrangements can be made to facilitate it.