Members of the House of Lords will today vote on an amendment to the Policing, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill that would protect people’s right to peaceful protest around the Houses of Parliament.
In a move that has drawn widespread criticism of the government, and raised concerns over the state of democracy and accountability in the UK, provisions within Clause 59 of the Bill would effectively ban any demonstrations in and around the highest seat of power in Britain. Unamended, the Bill would prohibit large scale demonstrations around Parliament, Whitehall and outside Downing Street.
However, new amendments co-ordinated by Best for Britain would defend these fundamental rights by ensuring that legal avenues for people to apply to hold peaceful demonstrations will continue to be available. The amendments, which will be voted on today, were tabled by crossbench peer Lord Colville, are backed by opposition parties as well as Conservative peers, and were drafted with the assistance of former Attorney General and Conservative MP, Dominic Grieve.
The government’s proposals have been labelled an attack on the basic democratic rights of UK citizens and an attempt to silence their critics and further insulate themselves from debate and accountability. Fresh data released today further suggests that the move is also incredibly unpopular.
New polling undertaken by Opinium on behalf of Best for Britain shows that 79% of people asked think peaceful protests should be allowed outside the Houses of Parliament including 75% of people who voted Conservative at the last election and 76% of people who voted Leave at the EU referendum. Only 15% of people asked disagree with this.
Such a law would have prevented some of the largest demonstrations in British history including the Countryside Alliance march, the protest against the Iraq war, the marches for a second referendum on EU membership, and the Brexit day of Celebration.
Naomi Smith, Chief Executive of Best for Britain said,
“The events of last week showed us how desperate those in power are to avoid scrutiny. This clause would give new meaning to the phrase Westminster bubble by outlawing protest where it matters most, on the government’s doorstep.
“To be clear, this is not the only disturbing aspect of this Bill and while we want to see the whole thing scrapped, we are committed to doing anything and everything possible to mitigate the damage of this government’s suite of anti-democratic legislation.”
Former Attorney General, Dominic Grieve QC said,
“Whatever our political differences, it is important that we are all allowed to air them freely and fairly.”
“By changing this one part of the bill, we can hope to retain this vital method of holding power to account. Protests are meant to make an impact - and that is something this Government does not seem to want to allow.”
Lord Colville who tabled the amendment said,
“ The Police Bill as it stands will ban protests over 5,000 people taking place in Parliament Square. Surely at a time when the Government is increasingly seen as out of touch with feelings of the country it is more important than ever that peoples’ voices be heard outside mother of parliaments”
"My amendment will protect the right for protests to continue to take place in Parliament Square. It will protect our most basic freedom, the right for the people of the UK to be heard by those who exercise power in their name .”
Sign the petition today
Make sure your voice can still be heard, add your name to the pressure on the Government to accept the amendments and show Members of the House of Lords that people really do care about their rights to protest.
Amendment 133B co-ordinated by Best for Britain would protect citizens’ right to protest, ensuring that legal avenues for people to apply to hold demonstrations will continue to be available. You can find out more here.
The House of Lords will vote on this amendment today. The vote is expected to be at 20:00. If successful the amendment will be voted on by the House of Commons when the Bill is next debated by MPs.
Polling undertaken by Opinium on behalf of Best for Britain between 11th-13th January 2022 asked a representative sample of 1,999 people,
"Do you think that peaceful protests should or should not be allowed to take place outside Parliament?"
The results were:
Definitely should - 46 %
Probably should - 32 %
Probably should not - 11 %
Definitely should not - 4 %
Don’t know - 6 %
NET: Should - 79 %
NET: Should not - 15 %
*Disparity between Net Should and breakdown explained by fractional results.