The Police, Crime, Courts and Sentencing Bill was this week voted through the House of Commons and has now been passed to the House of Lords for additional scrutiny.
At its Third Reading on Monday (05 July 2021), 365 MPs – including all Conservative Party members – voted in favour of the Bill. All Labour, Green, Plaid Cymru, SNP and Liberal Democrat MPs were among the 265 who voted in opposition.
The Bill increases the power of the police to place conditions on peaceful protests – including their location, size and duration – and imposes severe penalties, including prison sentences, against participants who cause “annoyance” such as by making too much noise.
During the debate, Shadow Home Secretary, Nick Thomas-Symonds, described the legislation as “a Bill that destroys the fine British tradition of protecting the right to protest”.
“It allows the noise generated by persons taking part as a reason to curtail protest and criminalises people – mark this – who break a condition they ‘ought’ to have known existed,” he said.
“Whether it is our trade unions or another group that wants to make its views known loudly in the streets, we limit their ability to do so at our peril.”
“I wonder what it is about the appalling record of this government that makes them so concerned about people organising protest against them,” he continued.
“That the government attack our democratic traditions in this way, limiting the rights of those whose beliefs are inconvenient to them, is dangerous and to their shame.”