MPs ignore terror drill
By Graham DinesPolitical EditorMPs ignored a full-scale security drill in the House of Commons yesterday designed to test the preparedness of parliamentary authorities in the wake of the London bombings.
MPs ignored a full-scale security drill in the House of Commons yesterday designed to test the preparedness of parliamentary authorities in the wake of the London bombings.
Just 30 of the 646 MPs attended the exercise, with Leader of the House Geoff Hoon expressing his disappointment at the turn out.
The only Liberal Democrat to attend was Colchester MP Bob Russell who said: "If politicians are looking to the country to be more aware of security perhaps, leading by example would carry more weight than exhortations."
The drill took place yesterday morning when the Commons chamber and galleries were cleared after a staged interruption from one of the galleries.
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Officials have drawn up plans to deal with different scenarios including the release of a gas, or if a substance was thrown into the chamber as with the Fathers 4 Justice flour bombs last year.
Mr Hoon said he would have liked more MPs to have turned up but he recognised "it is always difficult to juggle the various things they have to do."
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He added: "Members and other people around the House have to recognise that there are threats that affect us and that we have to be prepared to deal with them."
Mr Hoon said Parliament was a target for terrorists. "I don't say there is any heightened concern. But realistically, if you look at the kinds of targets that international terrorists have gone for, they are interested in making a public statement as much as the appalling killing of people.
"And Parliament does present a very powerful symbol both of this country and of our democracy. It is right that we recognise there is a threat to this place."
Mr Hoon revealed he is to look at ongoing training for party whips to deal with an attack.
MPs could have their long summer break curtained if there is another attack in Britain or a need to introduce emergency legislation to deal with any threat from terrorists.