Socialist Worker

More action needed as Tories’ hated anti-protest bill is back in Commons

by Isabel Ringrose
Issue No. 2761

Harlow Essex

Harlow Essex (Pic: Anti-racist protesters welcome Travellers in Harlow, Essex )


The Tories’ protest-smashing bill is due back in the House of Commons next week for discussion on amendments following the committee stage.

MPs will also have the chance to suggest new amendments to the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill—and then the bill will move to its third reading.

The committee stage saw sections of the Bill examined in detail, debated and voted on.

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The bill includes plans to restrict the right to protest, clamp down on the rights of Gypsies, Roma and Travellers and more powers for police to stop and search.

Debates on Part Three of the bill—involving the restrictions on protest—saw MPs ask for clarity on “the issue of noise”. Under the bill protests will not be allowed to go ahead if they’re too loud.

Tory Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department Victoria Atkins said, “The senior officer must decide whether the impact is significant.”

Proportionate 

Intentionally causing a public nuisance—which includes causing “serious annoyance” was also voted through by all but two of the committee. The Joint Committee on Human Rights published a report last week raising concerns about clampdowns on the right to protest.

It slammed the proposed rule to allow the police to put conditions on protest that cause a disturbance as neither “necessary nor proportionate”.

“There is a real risk that more substantial penalties would have the effect of dissuading people from exercising their right to engage in peaceful protest,” the report warns.

In debates about the planned attacks on Travellers, Tory MP Lee Anderson claimed “that there is a direct correlation between Travellers being in the area and crime going up”. Labour MP Bambos Charalambous said these are some “of the many prejudices that exist about the Gypsy, Roma and Traveller communities”. He added it may lead to “people invoking some of the clauses in the Bill in order to criminalise people.”

Kill the Bill protests have already seen thousands take to the streets across the country in outrage at the Tories’ plans.

Bigger and more militant protests are needed again.

Join the Gypsy, Roma and Traveller protest in Parliament Square on Wednesday 7 July, 1pm. Detailsdrive2survive.org.uk

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