Last night, the House of Lords sent the government’s Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill back to the House of Commons with a firm “hell no” to measures in the proposed legislation that would criminalise noisy and disruptive protests.
According to The BBC:
The Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill is a huge piece of legislation that covers major proposed changes on crime and justice in England and Wales.
The most controversial part of the bill is on the planned changes to protests – which the government proposed in response to environmental activists who have blocked roads, glued themselves to trains and stopped printing presses in recent years.
The government was hoping to get the Lords to support its proposals, but in a series of votes lasting until the early hours of Tuesday morning, the Lords repeatedly voted against the government.
Ministers were defeated, by 261 votes to 166, over plans to give the police new powers to stop protests in England and Wales if they are deemed to be too noisy and disruptive.
And peers also turned down other measures which would make it illegal for protesters to lock themselves to things and to give police officers powers to stop and search people in an attempt to prevent them taking part in illegal protests.
Green peer Baroness Jones described the government’s plans as “oppressive” and “plain nasty”.
“How do you seriously think a protest is going to happen without noise?” she asked.
Labour Peer Lord Hain said that the proposed changes to laws on protesting would have “throttled the Suffragettes.” However, Baroness Williams, the government’s Home Office minister in the Lords, defended the bill by drawing attention to anti-vaxxer protests outside schools and nursing homes.
Williams said that the police should have powers to disrupt and break up those types of protests if necessary.