A security review for MPs will conclude within days, the home secretary has said, before she mounted a staunch defence of the intelligence agencies.
Priti Patel faced calls from Labour to put in place a strategy to reduce the risk posed by lone attackers, following the murder of Conservative politician Sir David Amess.
The long-serving Southend West MP was fatally stabbed while meeting constituents at Belfairs Methodist Church in Leigh-on-Sea, near Southend, prompting a review of security measures.
Speaking in the House of Commons, Patel said she had been working with Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle on the issue of security for MPs in recent days.
She added: “It is absolutely right for all members of the House to recognise that we want to see consistency across the board when it comes to the safety and security of Members of Parliament and our ability to conduct our public duties as democratically-elected members of this House.
“The review is under way right now and I can confirm to all MPs that the policing review is concluding literally in the next few days.
“There will be more communications to all colleagues across the House in terms of how to conduct their work publicly in a safe and secure way, while giving the public the confidence and the assurance that they need when they’re coming to meet members in forums such as surgeries, but also that the one-to-one contact that members of Parliament require will be taking place.”
Patel also told MPs: “The issue of lone attackers is not new and across society and across our country and other countries around the world sadly we’ve seen too many lone attackers in previous years.
“There’s a great deal of work taking place and we will continue to discuss actually the work across intelligence, policing, security, prisons and probation as well, to prevent the attacks, but also the data and intelligence-sharing that is undertaken across our systems, across our government but across all aspects of various institutions and society linked to some of the inquiries that are taking place.
“I also think it’s important to recognise, and I would like all members of the House to hear this, we have some of the best intelligence and security agencies in the world.
“I want to pay tribute to them today and our police forces for the work they have been doing, specifically in regard to the current investigation but also the much wider work they do to keep us safe every single day.”
As MPs paid tribute to Sir David, Labour’s Stephen Timms – who was stabbed during one of his constituency surgeries in 2010 – said “we mustn’t give up on the accessibility of members of Parliament”.
Timms said of Sir David: “He was accessible to his constituents. Tragically he has now given his life. We will rightly reflect on what more we can do to stop that happening again.
“I wonder if we might ask the police to review our appointment lists ahead of each surgery, for example?
“But we mustn’t give up on the accessibility of Members of Parliament. If we do, the sponsors of those who attacked David and who attacked me will have succeeded. That must not happen.”
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