Lords defeat Government 14 times on Police Bill

Yesterday evening (17 December), the House of Lords rejected the best part of 18 pages of late amendments to the Police, Crime and Sentencing Bill, in a historic defeat. Green Peers Jenny Jones and Natalie Bennett thank those who stood with them.

Police at XR protest
Jenny Jones and Natalie Bennett

We did it. You did it. The Lords have stopped four of the government’s draconian ideas from becoming law and the government will only be able to enact them by bringing in a whole new Bill. In total, the Lords defeated the Government 14 times in the course of one night, which was an act of determination and stamina.

This is a major success and we want to give a huge thank you to everyone who was part of this amazing campaign and who lobbied to make this happen. We know from talking to fellow peers that without that public lobbying, Labour would have sat on the fence over many of these new laws and the House of Lords would not have been packed out until late into the night.  

The Lords stopped people from being given 51-week prison sentences for the offence of locking and for obstruction of major transport works. The Lords also stopped suspicionless stop and search of anyone in the vicinity of a protest and banned orders which would have allowed the police to stop named people attending protests even if they had committed no crime.    

There are now several Lords’ amendments to the bill for us to get behind, so there is still a lot of lobbying to do. These won’t make it perfect legislation but taken together, they will make the Police Bill significantly less repressive of protest.

Amendments 115/122 remove the clauses on “serious disruption” and “noise” from the Bill.

Amendment 114c puts a duty of candour onto those who work for the police. The Police have failed in owning up to their mistakes, there has been a culture of secrecy and deceit with everything from the murder of Damilola Taylor to the Hillsborough tragedy. We can still see it going on with the Undercover Policing Inquiry and the failure to investigate the lockdown parties at Downing Street. 

Another amendment seeks to limit the restriction on the right of the public to protest in the vicinity of Parliament.

The Green Party peers spoke against the Labour amendments on obstruction of the highway, which would limit the serious penalties to the strategic road network. We warned peers that any amendment to a Government amendment would open the door for Ministers to re-insert their original wording when it goes to the Commons. Labour know this, but went ahead anyway.

Two other important changes made it through the Lords. Amendment 114F makes misogyny a hate crime. For which we have to congratulate campaigners, such as Green Party Deputy Leader Amelia Womack, for her longstanding campaign on this issue. Peers also voted to abolish the Vagrancy Act which criminalises homeless people.

We need to persuade MPs to keep all these amendments in the Bill, or to at least force the Government into compromising more. We therefore need you to lobby MPs to stop the government from reinstating their intention to apply this to all roads.

While we should take this moment to celebrate our work in defending civil liberties, we are very aware that the Police, Crime and Sentencing Bill is still horrible, even with these Lords amendments. It will effectively criminalise the lifestyle of the Gypsy and Traveller community and Natalie’s attempt to delete this section of the Bill was not supported by Labour. 

This legislation is oppressive and should be repealed by any decent government.