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THE Tories’ anti-protest Bill has suffered eight defeats in the House of Lords, setting back government plans to outlaw tactics used by climate activists.
The votes mean that some of the most controversial elements of the Public Order Bill have been thrown out for good, including a measure that sought to give police powers to preemptively shut down protests where officers believe disruption might occur.
However other powers could be reinserted into the Bill when it returns to the Commons in the coming weeks.
They include measures allowing police to conduct suspicionless searches of protesters – powers which had previously only been used to prevent serious crime and terrorism.
Peers also backed restrictions on the use of protest ban orders and removed a provision that would have allowed people to be handed an order without being convicted of a crime.
The government was forced to concede to peers demands to remove a provision allowing protesters to be fitted with GPS ankle tags, in another victory for civil liberties campaigners.
Protections for journalists covering protests against arrest were also backed by peers.
The defeats in the House of Lords set the stage for a showdown between the lower and upper chambers, in what’s known as parliamentary ping-pong.
Speaking at the end of the Bill’s report stage in the Lords on Tuesday, Home Office minister Lord Sharpe expressed disappointment at the removal of some of the measures.
“Blocking motorways and slow walking in roads delays our life-saving emergency services, stops people getting to work and drains police resources and the British people are rightly fed up with it,” he said.
“It is more important than ever that the Bill moves swiftly to become law.”
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