MPs voiced concerns over the cost of president Donald Trump's visit this week and the extra strain it will put on the UK's already stretched police forces.
Extra police officers are being drafted in during the president's trip – which will include appointments in London, Blenheim Palace, Chequers, and Scotland – not only for Trump's security, but also at protests planned across the country during the visit.
Responding to an urgent question from MPs in the House of Commons on Thursday, policing minister Nick Hurd admitted that policing resources were already stretched.
"This is a significant policing operation, and comes, as the House knows, at a time when police resources are also focused on investigating the incidence in Salisbury, on protecting us against terror attacks, and in delivering on their own local policing plans," he said.
He declined to give a figure for the total cost of the visit, but confirmed that it will "run into millions".
The UK government will not foot the whole bill, however. Rather, police forces have the option to apply for a special grant to ease the financial burden.
The proposal was met with scepticism from MPs, including Conservative MP Cheryl Gillan, who asked why it was the UK's responsibility to fund the security for the visit.
"I am pleased to hear that a special grant will be available to supplement funding to Thames Valley police, but could the minister tell me: Will this be forthcoming immediately, and will there be any contribution at all from the US government towards the high costs of this presidential visit?"
Hurd declined to answer the latter question, but MPs continued to question why the onus was on police forces to apply for extra funds. Labour MP Clive Betts said the government should agree to cover all costs of the visit "since they invited him".
The president's visit to Scotland, home of his Trump International Golf Links resort, will alone cost the UK government £5 million and will require the work of 5,000 officers from Police Scotland.
Scottish Liberal Democrat MP Christine Jardine asked how the government could justify the expenditure.
"Could the minister explain, however, why so much money, £5 million, in Scotland is being spent to protect the president at a time when we’re so badly stretched and, in effect, he’s going to play golf on his own golf course?"
Hurd responded: "It is a lot of money, resources are tight, but he is the president of the United States here on an official visit and it is our responsibility to ensure that the appropriate security arrangements are in place, and that is what we’re doing."
MPs also claimed that Scottish authorities were being kept in the dark about Trump's itinerary. The SNP's Drew Hendry said that the Scottish justice minister had to ask the UK government where the president is due to be and when.
"Does the minister believe that effective planning can be made without that information in advance?" he asked.
"Rather than the prime minister and the secretary of state for Scotland rolling out the red carpet, they should be focusing on challenging President Trump on his abysmal records on human rights, women and minorities," he added.
Others were more concerned about the fact that the Metropolitan police has banned the erection of a stage in London's Portland Place for speeches ahead of the biggest march in the capital on Friday.
Labour MP David Lammy said that it would be an "important protest against this most divisive global figure".
"It is usual that as people gather at Portland Place, for those who’ve gathered to be able to hear speeches. Why on this occasion, unusually, have the Metropolitan Police said that they will not allow a stand so that those gathered can hear people speak before they begin the march?"
Hurd stressed that the police are "absolutely determined to respect the fundamental right in this country to peaceful protest", and said he would enquire with police about the staging.
Drew Hendry's name was misspelled in an earlier version of this story.
Hazel is a breaking news reporter and curation editor for BuzzFeed News and is based in London.
Contact Hazel Shearing at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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