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Lords defy government on Policing Bill once again

PEERS have once again defied government plans to hand police the power to clamp down on “noisy protests.”

Rights groups praised Tuesday’s intervention by Lords to protect the right to protest after they voted, for a second time, to remove measures intended to curb demonstrations from the Police Crime Sentencing and Courts Bill.

The mammoth piece of legislation, currently going through Parliament, has been widely opposed as draconian due to plans to give police the power to shut down protests deemed “too noisy,” among other restrictions. 

Peers had previously stripped the measures from the Bill, but earlier this month Tory MPs voted to reinstate them.

On Tuesday, Lords dug in their heels, again rejecting the proposals by 208 votes to 166.

The Lords also supported — by 190 votes to 175 — a Liberal Democrat amendment removing the same provision for public assemblies, while also preventing an expansion of police powers for such gatherings.

During the debate, Labour peer Lord Coaker warned that moves to criminalise noisy demos would undermine people’s ability to protest. 

He also highlighted problems in defining “too noisy,” pointing out a threshold set by the government included whether a building had double glazing.

Describing the provision as “unworkable and ridiculous,” he added: “The government should, whatever else it does, withdraw that part of the Bill.”

Welcoming the votes in the House of Lords, Friends of the Earth said: “Once again the House of Lords has made a historic intervention to protect our right to protest.

“It’s time the government dropped draconian measures to criminalise peaceful protest from the Bill.”

The Bill will now return to the Commons for further consideration, in what’s known as “parliamentary ping-pong.” 


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