Notice of Street Processions

Part of Nottinghamshire County Council Bill [Lords] (By Order) – in the House of Commons at 6:46 pm on 13th February 1983.

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Photo of Hon. Douglas Hurd Hon. Douglas Hurd , Oxon Mid 6:46 pm, 13th February 1983

It may perhaps help the House if I intervene at this stage to give the Government's view on clause 6, which is the subject of the amendment. I can do that reasonably briefly.

Clause 6 requires a person who organises or conducts a procession through any street in the county to give notice of his intention to the chief officer of police, the notice to be given 24 hours before the beginning of the procession or as soon as is reasonably practicable.

As with other similar provisions in local legislation which has already been before and approved by the House, it must be for the House in the end to decide whether the promoters have made out a case for the provision in the light of circumstances in the county of Nottinghamshire. But, from the Government's point of view, there is no objection to the clause.

I shall deal with a couple of matters which have arisen in the debate because they affect Government policy.

I was asked about national legislation to introduce an advance notice requirement on the organisers of processions. Hon. Members will be aware that my right hon. and learned Friend the Home Secretary and my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Scotland are now conducting a review of the Public Order Act and related legislation. One of the issues being considered is whether a national requirement to give advance notice of processions should be imposed. Work on the review continues. I cannot give a precise date for its completion. We hope that it will be possible to complete the work and announce conclusions within the next few months, as I explained on 19 January in a written answer to my hon. Friend the Member for Bedfordshire, South-West (Mr. Madel).

Hon. Members may suggest that, if that is the case, clause 6 of the Nottinghamshire County Council Bill should be shelved pending the outcome of the review. That is not a valid argument. I cannot anticipate the conclusions to which the review will come, but, even if the review concluded that national legislation including an advance notice requirement should be introduced, the legislation might not follow quickly. In view of the present procedure in Nottinghamshire, I think that it would be wrong to remove clause 6 from the Bill simply because of the existence of a review of public order law.