Page last updated at 13:37 GMT, Wednesday, 8 July 2009 14:37 UK

Speaker Bercow lifts scouts ban

John Bercow
Speaker Bercow was petitioned by backbench MPs

Cub scouts are to be allowed to hold a meeting in a hall at the House of Commons, Speaker John Bercow has said.

The 100 scouts had been told by the Commons authorities that they could not use Westminster Hall because they were not old enough to vote.

But Speaker Bercow has overturned the ruling after cross-party pressure from backbench MPs.

The scouts want to use the hall to lobby MPs over a rise in water charges for voluntary groups.

Labour MP Martin Salter, who organised the campaign to elect Mr Bercow, led calls for the scouts to be allowed to use Westminster Hall for their protest meeting.

He said it was "unacceptable as all constituents, regardless of age, should be free to lobby their MPs" and tabled a cross-party Early Day Motion calling for the ban to be reversed.

In a statement, a spokeswoman for the Speaker said: "The issue of the cub scouts and Westminster Hall raised by Martin Salter MP, Stephen Pound MP and Julian Brazier MP has been drawn to the attention of the Speaker and Serjeant-at-Arms.

"The Speaker welcomes the visit by the cub scouts to the House of Commons on July 15 and has given permission to allow the cub scouts to meet MPs in Westminster Hall."

Scout groups are campaigning against planned changes in the way water companies charge community groups in England and Wales for the disposal of rainwater.

They face paying hundreds of pounds for a service which is currently free to many of them.

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