By Laura Kemp •
Published: 18 Jan 2022 • 17:15
Kill the Bill protesters. Image - Twitter
The House of Lords has inflicted defeat on the Government as the wide-ranging Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill was considered last night, January 17.
With 261 votes to 166, peers backed a movement led by Labour to remove parts of the bill that gave police the power to impose conditions on protests deemed to be “too noisy.”
Not long after, the Government suffered a further blow as the upper chamber backed a Liberal Democrat amendment to remove further parts of the bill restricting protests by 238 votes to 171.
There will now be a scuffle between the Lords and the Commons, known as ping-pong, as the two chambers decide on a final version of the bill.
The legislation, which was approved by the Commons last year, provoked widespread “Kill the Bill” protests across the UK over fears surrounding its impact on protests.
Protesters who attach themselves to another object or person could also face 51 weeks in prison under the legislation, and those who are charged with damaging a statue or memorial could be sentenced to ten years.
Amnesty UK has warned that the legislation is an “enormous and unprecedented extension of policing powers,” giving authorities the power “to effectively ban peaceful protests should they see fit.”
Parts of the bill that strengthen police stop and search powers and giving authorities more power over traveller encampments have also proved controversial.
Yesterday, peers also backed a Labour-led proposal requiring police officers to tell the truth at public enquiries and criminal investigations with 252 votes to 179.
An amendment from the Tories that would class misogyny as a hate crime was also approved with 242 votes to 185.
Labour frontbencher Lord Coaker said: “The right to protest in this country has never, ever had to have a condition placed upon it which is about noise.”
“I believe that making a noise is a fundamental part of the freedom to protest properly in a democracy.”
A Home Office spokesman said: “We will always champion the right to protest peacefully and this bill in no way changes that.”
“We have seen some of the most self-defeating and dangerous protests in recent years with people gluing themselves to motorways, causing serious disruption to the law-abiding majority across the country and tearing police away from communities that need them most.”
“That’s why our Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill is so necessary – it gives police the power to proactively prevent this kind of chaos before it ensues, and focuses on a selfish minority of relentless reoffenders.”
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Originally from UK, Laura is based in Axarquia and is a writer for the Euro Weekly News covering news and features.
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