Speaker overturns ban on lobbying by cub scouts

Lobby against 'rain tax' will go ahead on St Swithin's Day

Speaker John Bercow has overturned a ban on 100 cub scouts attending a charity lobby in Parliament next week.

Officials said the cubs would not be allowed to enter Westminster Hall to protest against a new system of charging by water companies because they were too young to vote.

But the new Speaker intervened after three MPs wrote to him describing the decision as "unacceptable".

The Scout Association had planned the lobby, which is being supported by sports groups, village halls and churches, to coincide with St Swithin's Day on 15 July.

But Conservative MP Julian Brazier, who was helping the association organise the event, was told this week that the cubs would not be let in.

Brazier, who is joint chairman of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Adventure and Recreation in Society, and Labour MPs Martin Salter and Stephen Pound, who chairs the All-Party Parliamentary Scout Group, wrote to the Speaker saying: "The House authorities have withdrawn permission on the ground that they are not yet eligible to vote. This is unacceptable as all constituents, regardless of age, should be free to lobby their MPs."

Salter also tabled an early day motion, which has been signed by 28 MPs, protesting at the decision. Bercow said yesterday that the cubs would be welcome.

The protest is against a new charging system, dubbed the ‘rain tax', which has dramatically increased the water bills of charities that own buildings.

Stella Creasy, head of public affairs and campaigns at the association, said: "The cubs want to come to Parliament as part of our Stop the Rain Tax Campaign because scouting encourages young people to value democracy."

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