DISGRUNTLED public housing tenants were forcibly removed by police yesterday after besieging Government House for five hours. Seven men and 16 women were taken to Central police station and released at 9 pm on $500 bail. A large force of police moved in shortly after 6 pm to end the sit-in on Upper Albert Road which had been allowed to paralyse traffic. The residents were protesting against the Housing Authority's decision to charge tenants with higher incomes double rent - in most cases this would be less than an extra $1,000 a month. The policy is partly to encourage well-off families to give up flats, many of which are not occupied and are kept as cheap storage space. Protesters demanded the Governor, Mr Chris Patten, abolish the policy, in keeping with the Legislative Council vote last December condemning the authority's decision. About 150 tenants from 15 estates took their demands to Government House after a fruitless protest and a scuffle with security guards at the authority's headquarters in Ho Man Tin yesterday morning. Their action coincided with a meeting of the authority at which it decided to continue with the policy, with minor amendments. After arriving at Upper Albert Road at about 1 pm, they carried a pig's head and burned effigies of authority members, including outgoing chairman Sir David Akers-Jones. The demonstrators, mostly elderly women, unfurled banners and sat in the road. An elderly protester from Shamshuipo accused the Governor, who was meeting with officials inside, of refusing to receive them. ''Both the Governor and the Housing Authority are pigheaded. They fear to face the public. There is no point for the Governor to talk about democracy. ''We shall not support his political reforms if he does not support us.'' About 50 policemen and police tactical unit officers barricaded the roads leading to Upper Albert Road. Vehicles were diverted but traffic in Central was seriously jammed. The tail back stretched past Causeway Bay during the peak hours after 4 pm. Liberal legislators Mr Frederick Fung Kin-kee, Mr Fred Li Wah-ming, and Mr Tik Chi-yuen, who supported the tenants, went to the scene at about 3.45 pm to mediate after the police failed to persuade the group to leave the road. But the demonstrators insisted on meeting the Governor in person and demanded his written promise to end the policy. They said they had the right to stage a rally wherever and whenever they liked. Tension started building shortly after 4.30 pm when Central Division Commander Superintendent Chow Yin-wo declared that the disruption to traffic had reached an intolerable level. An extra 50 policewomen were called in. Some tenants decided to give up at 5.10 pm, as they felt disappointed by the authority and the Governor. When 23 of them continued the sit-in, the police issued the first official warning at 5.15 pm, telling the protesters their assembly was illegal and they should leave in five minutes or face police action. Five minutes after the second warning at 5.55 pm, 30 officers surrounded the protesters and manhandled them to waiting police trucks. There was no strong resistance and the road was re-opened soon afterward. Those taken away were driven to Central police station, where the others staged a sit-in on the footpath outside. Legislators Mr Lau Chin-shek and Mr Frederick Fung were allowed to visit the detainees. The Governor's spokesman Mr Mike Hanson last night deplored the demonstrators' actions. He said they had deliberately blocked Upper Albert Road and caused considerable traffic congestion. Mr Hanson said the blockade was entirely unnecessary because protesters had been asked to deliver their petition to the East Gate of Government House where an official was ready to accept it. Central district commander Chief Superintendent Gus Cunningham said police waited over four hours before taking action because they wanted to give the demonstrators ample time to leave peacefully. But tenants' representative Mr Leung Ping-wah said they wanted to comply with police advice to present their petition at the East Gate but a police blockade obstructed their path. Police wanted the demonstrators to approach the East Gate from behind Government House, but tenants did not want to do this, he said. The Attorney-General's office will decide if further action should be taken and the 23 are expected to report to the Central police station in three weeks. In the earlier protest at Ho Man Tin, about 300 tenants had blocked a south-bound lane of Fat Kwong Street to hold a mock funeral to mourn the ''low-rent policy''. Entrances to the building had been barricaded but about 20 protesters were able to force their way into the ground floor lobby after a scuffle with the security guards. Lift services were quickly suspended and about 30 police tactical unit officers were called in to stop the protesters from going up to the chamber on the 10th floor. The authority members voted 10-3 for a modified double-rent policy - taking effect from next month - after a two-hour debate. Under the revised policy, households with monthly income between two and three times the income limit for public housing will be required to pay 11/2 times the normal rent. And those whose incomes exceed three times the limit will be charged twice the normal rent. Elderly households are allowed to apply for exemption. Sir David said the adjustment was a big concession and had taken into account the views of the tenants and pressure groups. He also noted that the new arrangement would reduce the income from such policy from $400 million to $280 million a year. Mr Frederick Fung and Mr Lee Wing-tat, both legislators and authority members, however said it was not acceptable for the authority to go against public opinion and continue the policy. They had vowed to raise the issue with Mr Patten and press the Executive Council to scrap the policy. But authority member Mr Victor So Hing-wo, who was responsible for revising the policy, said an authority survey conducted late last year had shown that 70 per cent of residents in private housing and 40 per cent of public tenants supported the policy. He also noted that the rents in average only took up about five per cent of the income of households paying double rent. Sir David said he was aware of the tenants' concern and had also asked the Housing Department to study the feasibility of expanding the interest-free Home Purchase Loan Scheme, which aims to help tenants buy private flats and thus vacate their public units. He suggested the amount of loans be raised from the present $200,000 to $500,000.