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PM: Tent demo is not constructive

Demonstrators should not be able to erect a tent village outside St Paul's Cathedral as part of their protest against excess in the City, Prime Minister David Cameron has said.

Mr Cameron said that the form of encampment seen at St Paul's and outside Parliament - where anti-war campaigners have held a vigil for more than 10 years - was not a "constructive" way to exercise the right to protest.

And he dismissed suggestions that it might be a manifestation of the kind of civic activism which he hopes to encourage through his Big Society agenda.

Speaking as he gave evidence to the House of Commons Liaison Committee about the Big Society, Mr Cameron said: "Obviously, the right of people to protest is fundamental to our country.

"The idea of establishing tents in the middle of our city, I don't feel is particularly constructive. I don't think it's particularly constructive in Parliament Square and I don't think it's particularly constructive at St Paul's."

Asked whether the protesters were a "manifestation of the Big Society", Mr Cameron insisted that his agenda was about making it easier for individuals to get involved in social action such as volunteering in their communities or setting up free schools.

"Protest is, to me, a separate issue," he said. "It is certainly a right that people have, but I have got this rather quaint view that you shouldn't be able to erect tents all over the place.

"I think protesting is something you, on the whole, should do on two feet rather than lying down - in some cases in a fairly comatose state."


From Belfast Telegraph