UK Politics

David Cameron opposes St Paul's protest

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David Cameron has told senior MPs he does not think the protest at St Paul's Cathedral is constructive.

The prime minister said there was a fundamental right to protest but it should be "on two feet", not in a tent.

Mr Cameron is in his third meeting this year with the liaison committee - made up of the chairmen of all Commons select committees.

He is facing questions from members about his flagship "Big Society" project and the summer riots.

Activists, who first set up camp outside the cathedral in central London on 15 October, are protesting against inequality and corporate greed.

Asked whether the St Paul's protest was a manifestation of the Big Society, Mr Cameron said: "Protest is to me a separate issue. It is certainly a right that people have.

"But I have got this rather quaint view - 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."

He added that: "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."

'Appalling idea'

Later, Mr Cameron was asked about the Metropolitan Police's option of using rubber bullets if needed during Wednesday's student protests.

Mr Cameron said it was not for politicians to interfere directly with this area of policing.

"What I said at the time of the disturbances in August was that it was right for politicians to discuss these issues, for us to discuss them with the police and for the police to feel that they have political backing and accountable backing from the government for what they do.

"But in the end the operational decisions must be for them to take."

The theme for the session - expected to last for an hour and a half - is "Big Society or Broken Society?".

The Big Society initiative aims to shrink the state and hand more control to communities.

Mr Cameron says the Big Society - which he has described as his "mission" in politics - is about a greater role for community and voluntary groups in running services.

But some charities have said it is being undermined by government spending cuts and Labour leader Ed Miliband has said it is a return to the Thatcherite policies of the 1980s.

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