Bill seeking to curb rights to protest gets second reading

Labour has failed to block the government’s new policing bill which includes restrictions on the right to protest and criminalises unauthorised encampments.

Shadow justice secretary, David Lammy

An amendment by Labour’s front bench was defeated this evening in the House of Commons. The vote was 225 in favour and 359 against.

In a second vote, The Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill received its second reading with a majority of 96 (359 votes to 265). It now goes to the committee stage where MPs will examine its proposals in more detail.

The Labour amendment, one of four made to the bill voted on today, opposed the bill because it “rushes changes to protest law” and “fails to introduce a single new measure specifically designed to tackle the epidemic of violence against women”.

Summing up for Labour, the shadow justice secretary, David Lammy, said:

“Instead of tackling violence against women, the government has prioritised giving the police the power to prohibit the fundamental freedoms of protest that the British public hold dear.

“And by giving the police this discretion to use these powers some of the time, it takes away our freedoms all of the time.”

He said the bill targeted protesters causing too much noise and causing annoyance. Referring to protests by the Suffragette, the Jarrow marchers, anti-apartheid movement, Mr Lammy said:

“I’m thankful that the draconian limits on the power to protest were not in place during the great protests of the twentieth century that led to real change.”

In Manchester and York, hundreds of people marched against the legislation.

Throughout the debate, Conservatives criticised Labour for opposing the bill, even though it supported some of the measures.

Justice secretary, Robert Buckland

The justice secretary, Robert Buckland, closing the debate said:

“What beggars belief is that they think now is the time to turn unity into bitterness and partnership into strife.”

He said this stage in the passage of a bill was not about detail but about the principle.

He said:

“Our country today should be a place where no woman has to live in fear of men and I will continue to work tirelessly to build a criminal justice system that is better able to protest women and girls.”

The votes came after nine hours of debate, over two days. (See DrillOrDrop report from Day 1). Much of the discussion centred on the proposed protest measures and encampments and was on party lines.

But yesterday, the former prime minister, Theresa May, referring to the protest proposals, said the government should “consider carefully the need to walk a fine line between being popular and being populist. Our freedoms depend on it.”

This afternoon, the Green Party MP, Caroline Lucas, who was arrested during an anti-fracking protest at Balcombe in 2013, said:

“The right to peaceful protest is absolutely fundamental to our democracy and this dangerous and sweeping attempt to curtail it is a serious assault on democratic freedoms.

“The government is rushing this bill through parliament in a knee-jerk reaction to last year’s Black Lives Matter and Extinction Rebellion protests because some right-wing MPs didn’t like them. Criminalising protests which are noisy or ‘have an impact’, as this bill would, is outrageous and hands the police sweeping powers to interpret that as they will.

“It is trying to neuter protests and undermine one of our most precious rights and should be opposed by any MP who believes in free speech and democratic rights in our country.”

Labour’s Clive Lewis said:

“If the Bill goes through, anyone who values their democratic rights must get organised and fight back. I will stand with protesters, irrelevant of the laws passed by this place.”

Allan Dorans, SNP, said:

“The right to peacefully protest on any issue must not be interfered with by the Government.”

Dame Diana Johnson, Labour, said the proposal to prevent gatherings on the grounds of noise or annoyance was “deeply troubling”.

Gavin Robinson (DUP) said he “railed in the strongest possible terms” against the protest provisions:

“the loose and lazy way the legislation is drafted would make a dictator blush. Protests will be noisy. Protests will disrupt. No matter how offensive we may find the issue at their heart, the right to protest should be protected.”

Labour’s Dame Angela Eagle described sections of the bill as a “premeditated attack on the right to assemble and protest, which is the cornerstone of our democracy.”

Clive Efford, Labour, said:

“We are witnessing a Tory-led coup without guns.

“This Bill is another example of the Tories’ determination to avoid democratic scrutiny. Now, they want to close down public dissent.”

The Conservative, Rob Roberts, said:

I do not pretend that the Bill is perfect, and I sympathise with some of the concerns expressed about the provisions on protest.”

Fellow Conservative, Anthony Mangnall, said:

“The right to protest and to speak is no more reduced by the Bill than by the existing laws on libel, sedition or public order.”

Nickie Aiken, Conservative for the cities of London and Westminster, said:

“let us not forget the human rights of my constituents who live with over 500 protests or marches a year.

“I see a huge spike in my mailbag when Westminster plays host to a major protest, with constituents highlighting that a few cause them distress and loss of amenity.

“They do not question the right to protest, but they do not accept becoming prisoners in their own home and the distress that they often feel as a result of a small minority of protesters.”

Votes : Who voted how?

MPs voting in favour of Labour’s amendment

MPs voting against Labour’s amendment

MPs voting for the second reading of the bill

MPs who voted against the second reading

17 replies »

  1. I feel sorry for the Labour MPs who were not only supporters of big parts of this Bill, but campaigned for them, and then forced to vote against it!

    Not sure they will get a sympathetic ear when it comes to sorting the detail, having voted against the principle. Can’t see the point of that, as the numbers always guaranteed the 2nd Reading would pass, and then the committee stages would be the key. To lose any previous goodwill just seems to be party politics rather than getting better legislation. It is the old maths blind spot, again.

    • Maths? Maths? Not so much maths, as Marx?…..And Low Marx at that….

      Sanity Klaus? Sanity Klaus? There ain’t no Sanity Klaus! Time for their analogous Schwab perhaps?

      I did enjoy that!

      Have a new word order day…..

    • Didn’t understand a “word” did you Martin? Or is that a new “word” order? Never mind. Subtlety is wasted on some.

      As for mathematics. Lets look at the mathematics. In 2019 the tories acquired 45% of 13.9 million voters ,registered and postal (Oops!) voters = 6.2 million. Mostly on the Brexit ticket. The opposition was 55% of 13.9 million = 7.7 million. So 7.7 million people were disavowed of their democratic rights by 359 tory MP’s. Also many of those who voted tory for the very first time that year, and never will again, only wanted Brexit. Not a tory dictatorship.

      Now that, is Mathematics.

      As I’ve explained before Martin old thing, I am not “anti” anything. I am Pro Human Rights and Pro Freedom of thought, pro freedom of speech and action for everyone. Even those who want to destroy everyone else Human Rights and freedoms. All 359 of them. Oh, wait a minute I was forgetting the usual suspects + 1, 2, 3, 4, (5?) = 364 of them.

      Unlike some, I wouldn’t deny someone elses Human Rights and freedoms on some vague pretext of a few days of demonstrations to highlight the lack of any real action on climate and ecology. Particularly when we are in the 6th extinction event in history and 1 in 5 die from fossil fuel pollution. And when the government themselves have done far more damage and locked away the entire country for a year. Except for themselves of course. Dear old Demonic Cousins and Neil Ferguson amongst many others broke the lock down but were neither fined nor arrested. Where were the police then?

      This insanity in UK and worldwide has more to do with the 7 to 10 million children and adults across the world who demonstrated in 2018. Priti Patels hate speech icons, BLM and XR are just convenient ciphers to hold up as scary demons for more fear mongering….same old same old.



      • Wrong, PhilC.

        I did understand the word(s), but, I did not agree they were factual or relevant. I just put that in a different, more polite way.

        You quote freedoms. Well, that also includes the freedom of others to do what they like and not be impeded. So, no, you do not support freedoms as a whole but just for some. You may feel that is laudable. Welcome to that view, but don’t look too closely at others who have felt the same. It might even take us back to HK. It would certainly take us to the different debate around women’s freedoms and how men behave.

        And, you may want further changes in the law, but Cummings broke no law and could not be arrested or fined, and that was clearly investigated by the police and they gave that assessment. And that is not support or otherwise for Mr. Cummings but just putting the record straight about the history. 1720 had a similar issue. Don’t let the facts get in the way-but, they do when they are checked.

        So, perhaps you need to be a bit more accurate with words.

        [Edited by moderator]

        • [Edited by moderator]

          No Martin. Subtle, but right and only too relevant. This is just another diversion from the fact that. “This insanity in UK and worldwide has more to do with the 7 to 10 million children and adults across the world who demonstrated in 2018. Particularly when we are in the 6th extinction event in history and 1 in 5 die from fossil fuel pollution. Priti Patels hate speech icons, BLM and XR are just convenient ciphers to hold up as scary demons for more fear mongering”

          So boring…Yes, Yes, Yes. Dominic Cummings did break the lock down advice and the Road Traffic Act and the DVLA advice for sight impairment. Though the police wouldnt prosecute as soon as they knew who he was. He went for a fifty mile round trip drive just to “test his eyesight”. He claim that he and his wife and child had a bout of corona virus and were bedridden not long before. Though they all tested negative. “He said he’d been having problems with his vision before making the long 260 mile drive back to London”

          “Sir Peter Fahy, former chief constable of Manchester Police, said the drive to Barnard Castle was potentially a criminal offence. “It’s not the way to test your eyesight and put, potentially, other people in danger.” On Twitter, John Apter, chair of the Police Federation for England and Wales, said: “If you’re feeling unwell and your eyesight may be impaired do not drive your vehicle to test your ability to drive. It’s not a wise move.”

          Dominic Cummings’ flouting of lockdown rules ‘clearly undermined’ fight against coronavirus, ex-civil service chief admits.

          “The 1988 Road Traffic Act says: “If a person drives a motor vehicle on a road while his eyesight is such (whether through a defect which cannot be, or one which is not for the time being, sufficiently corrected) that he cannot comply with any requirement as to eyesight prescribed under this Part of this Act for the purposes of tests of competence to drive, he is guilty of an offence.” The Highway Code says: “You MUST report to the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) any health condition likely to affect your driving.”

          That is the law. No need to “change” the law, even if some are able to avoid it. That is the true history.

          [Edited by moderator]

          • Ahh, now it is breaking the advice!

            Nope, you said something very different before. You made an error but nice to see you are correcting it.

            And, yes, the matter was subject to a police investigation who had that responsibility and the matter was closed by the police. Those not involved in the situation then claimed much, as they do, don’t they-and much of that which was not opinion was found to be incorrect. Sound familiar?

            [Edited by moderator]

  2. Not so much Marx as democracy.

    Thanks to Ruth for supplying the lists, demonstrating (oops!) for all to see.

    Even those who have trouble with the maths can see one list is much, much longer than the other.

    (The Labour list might have been one longer if one had not resigned. And why did he have to resign? And what were Labour still pontificating about during the debate? Neck and brass come to mind.)

    Too much consideration about politics, not enough about policy.

    But, now the whole thing will trundle through next stages and finally emerge-just as the Domestic Abuse legislation is doing in front of it, but you wouldn’t know it from the nonsense being spouted over two part days.

    A new word? No, an old word for the antis-hypocrisy.

    Isn’t it great though that the UK can now make it’s own laws-again! Might take a bit of time for some to get used to making the best law they can, but it will come eventually.


    • “Antis-hypocrisy”, – interesting neologism comprising a collocation of terms you favour, Martin, hypocritically predisposing your readers to think that those who favour a new look at certain planetary threats are by definition hypocrites. It’s an old trick used by those who prefer to talk about the risks of red wine stains rather than the real issues. I think that the hypocrisy is more likely to be found on the side of the industry-defending polluters.

  3. Off topic but I don’t expect DOD will be posting an article on this:


    “The IEA’s influential report found that a rebound in oil demand, particularly in developing economies across Asia, could lead the world’s appetite for crude to break above 100m barrels of oil a day for the first time by 2023.

    It comes after a warning from the IEA last summer that the world’s daily oil demand may climb at its fastest rate in the history of the market in 2021 unless green policies are adopted to dampen a record-breaking oil demand rebound.

    To date, government efforts to establish a green economic recovery are failing even to reach the levels of green spending seen in the stimulus that followed the 2008 financial crisis.

    The IEA’s predictions for the year ahead show the world’s oil demand may climb by 5.5m barrels of oil a day, one of the fastest annual climbs on record, to an average of 96.6m barrels a day.

    The oil demand surge is expected to continue through the IEA’s forecast, which extends to 2026, where it reaches above 104m barrels a day. This would be more than 4m barrels a day higher than in 2019 and during a crucial decade for reducing carbon emissions to avert a climate catastrophe.”

  4. I should have added – “as predicted”……evolving middle classes in Asia aspiring to what we have as their standards of living improve.

    XR are protesting in the wrong geographical area but we all know that. This is why it is important the subject Bill is passed.

  5. So had this proposed legislation been in place from 2010 onwards fracking would have already decimated the Fylde Coast in Lancashire. Simply because without the many high profile, well supported anti-fracking protests and Court Challenges having raised public awareness the numerous Hydrofrac Earthquakes would have been dismissed as naturally occurring events.
    Right to peaceful protest wherever and whenever citizens feel the need is a vital part of FREEDOM. This needs to be preserved at all costs.

    • Incorrect, Peter.

      This legislation simply tightens up protest not exclude it. Maybe you would have needed to be a little more controlled about it. Interesting that one of those who supported protest at PNR actually posted on DoD that he would remove himself from DoD when he saw certain elements becoming involved in the PNR protest. So, although he now joins you in criticizing this proposed legislation he actually applied his own “legislation”!

      That is an option for individuals. Government has a responsibility to do so for the wider population.

      • [Edited by moderator]

        No, Martin, it was “Reclaim the Power” that I thought were “exciting” a heavy handed reaction from the police and government. And look what has happened? I was quite correct wasn’t I? Extinction Rebellion came later. Better to get these things right isnt it.

        Nor did I say I would “remove himself”? I said “Reclaim the Power” actions were not entirely representative of everyone else. Though for the individuals it was well meant and I couldn’t criticise. I said that too.

        Remember that now? Meanwhile I had other things to do abroad. And so I did. What was that? Three, Four years ago?

        However now, your own government have done far far worse to everyone in the UK, than anything Reclaim The Power, or Black Lives Matter, or Extinction Rebellion have ever done, or ever could. Just normal people objecting to the government. Just like the anti slavery movement, the Suffragettes, and the movement for Women’s Rights to Vote. The Ban the Bomb movement. Folk and Rock music open air concerts such as Glastonbury and many others.

        Not to mention hundreds of occasions by demonstrations and marches, when government were exposed to be inadequate or downright wrong for their actions. Without those, you and I and many others, would probably not even exist today.

        Which kind of puts it into stark perspective doesn’t it.

        [Edited by moderator]

  6. Don’t believe I mentioned XR, PhilC. Perhaps you could show me where I did? I can read “certain elements” on my screen. Maybe you need to get your technology checked?

    Of course, if XR is not on your screen, it is just you trying to create a false narrative. No one would notice that, would they, because they can’t understand words. Well, they can, and they do.

    ( As an aside, I thought XR were a lose association of individual groups. Or, that seems to be the excuse given when one wing does something that produces public disapproval.)

    [Edited by moderator]

    I watched the debate. I saw XR stopping traffic on Westminster Bridge, including a red bus. Buses are running during lockdown to enable essential workers to travel. Did anyone check whether there might have been a nurse on her way to a night shift on that bus? Using that bus because she felt safe on a bus? Somehow I doubt it based upon when they were trying to stop trains. So, my eyes tell me more control has been required. It is your eyes that have an issue.

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