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Public Order Bill

Clause 14 – in the House of Commons at 8:45 pm on 30th April 1986.

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Question again proposed, That the amendment be made.

Photo of Mr Giles Shaw Mr Giles Shaw , Pudsey 10:22 pm, 30th April 1986

In responding to the debate initiated by the hon. Member for Tyne Bridge, I was making the point that, in the Metropolitan police district, static assemblies and meetings contributed substantially to the severe public disorders between 1974 and 1980. I deduce from that that the House would be extremely foolish to accept the advice of the Opposition that clause 14 should be deleted from the Bill.

I remind the House that, in extending to assemblies the proposals contained in the 1936 Act, the Government did not act in a fit of pique or a sudden thirst for additional powers. We acted on the advice of the Select Committee on Home Affairs. We acted with care and had discussions. We acted in a way that was consistent with the Government's purposes without ensuring that an advance notice requirement in respect of assemblies should be undertaken, but that a power to ban should not.

The police already maintain a presence at most demonstrations or pickets. They do so to fulfil their paramount duty in maintaining the Queen's peace. Clause 14 will not require the deployment of more officers or the wasteful use of police resources which might he more profitably employed in fighting crime. It will give the police effective powers to prevent crime by preventing disorder.

The rights to assemble, to picket and to demonstrate are not absolute rights. They should never be an excuse for intimidation or disorder. Every citizen has a right to live his life in peace and the right to protection under the law.

I said in Committee and to the hon. Member for Tyne Bridge, who referred to it in his opening address, that I would advise police officers, in the circular on the Bills provisions, that they should bear in mind the traditional rights of protest and the traditional freedom of assembly which have been so widely observed for many years when they interpret their obligations under the provisions of clause 14. I should like to place that undertaking which I gave in Committee on the record.

In part answer to the hon. and learned Member for Montgomery, I must say that there will be, although not in the statute, a clear expression of the rights to protest which people have traditionally enjoyed conveyed to officers as part of the context in which they execute their duties.

Clause 14 confers no power to ban assemblies. That is a most important point for the House to recognise. The Clause contains powers to enable major mischiefs to he avoided—to avoid serious public disorder, serious damage to property, serious disruption to the life of the community and intimidation of individuals. Do the Opposition seriously believe that the civil liberties of pickets and the right to demonstrate include the right to cause such evils? Surely not. Do they believe that the police should have powers to prevent these evils? Surely they do. Or is the Opposition's new-found, late interest in the problems of crime and of law and order, which is of such concern to the people we serve, a vote-catching operation, carefully timed for individual elections?

The Government believe that the merits of the clause and the bankruptcy of the Opposition's argument are in complete contrast. The Government believe in a balance between the right to assemble and the right of the individual to go about his business in peace, and so do the British people. They will take note of the Opposition's claim that to question the rights of a picket to intimidate or cause disorder is authoritarianism, and they will support our attempts to provide additional protection for the individual citizen from the bully boys and the thugs on the picket lines or elsewhere. I commend the clause. It should remain in the Bill as a cardinal principle of public order.

Photo of David Clelland David Clelland , Tyne Bridge

I remind the Minister that we have seen more lawlessness and disorder under this Government than under any other Government in living memory. The clause does not seek to improve law and order. It will not prevent one riot or many of the problems to which the Minister drew attention. It will restrict the individual liberty and freedoms of people who want to protest against the type of policies pursued by the Government. We shall vote against the clause.

Question put, That the amendment be made:—

The House divided: Ayes 170, Noes 225.

Division No. 165][10.30 pm
AYES
Adams, Allen (Paisley N)Dubs, Alfred
Alton, DavidDuffy, A. E. P.
Anderson, DonaldDunwoody, Hon Mrs G.
Archer, Rt Hon PeterEadie, Alex
Atkinson, N. (Tottenham)Eastham, Ken
Bagier, Gordon A. T.Evans, John (St. Helens N)
Barnett, GuyEwing, Harry
Barron, KevinFaulds, Andrew
Beckett, Mrs MargaretField, Frank (Birkenhead)
Beith, A. J.Fields, T. (L'pool Broad Gn)
Bell, StuartFisher, Mark
Benn, Rt Hon TonyFlannery, Martin
Bennett, A. (Dent'n & Red'sh)Forrester, John
Bermingham, GeraldFoster, Derek
Bidwell, SydneyFoulkes, George
Blair, AnthonyFreeson, Rt Hon Reginald
Boyes, RolandFreud, Clement
Bray, Dr JeremyGarrett, W. E.
Brown, N. (N'c'tle-u-Tyne E)George, Bruce
Brown, Ron (E'burgh, Leith)Godman, Dr Norman
Buchan, NormanGolding, John
Caborn, RichardGould, Bryan
Callaghan, Rt Hon J.Gourlay, Harry
Callaghan, Jim (Heyw'd & M)Hamilton, W. W. (Fife Central)
Campbell, IanHancock, Michael
Campbell-Savours, DaleHarman, Ms Harriet
Canavan, DennisHarrison, Rt Hon Walter
Carlile, Alexander (Montg'y)Hart, Rt Hon Dame Judith
Carter-Jones, LewisHattersley, Rt Hon Roy
Clark, Dr David (S Shields)Haynes, Frank
Clay, RobertHeffer, Eric S.
Clelland, David GordonHogg, N. (C'nauld & Kilsyth)
Clwyd, Mrs AnnHolland, Stuart (Vauxhall)
Cocks, Rt Hon M. (Bristol S)Home Robertson, John
Coleman, DonaldHowells, Geraint
Conlan, BernardHughes, Robert (Aberdeen N)
Cook, Frank (Stockton North)Hughes, Roy (Newport East)
Cook, Robin F. (Livingston)Janner, Hon Greville
Corbett, RobinJohn, Brynmor
Corbyn, JeremyKaufman, Rt Hon Gerald
Craigen, J. M.Kennedy, Charles
Crowther, StanKilroy-Silk, Robert
Cunliffe, LawrenceKirkwood, Archy
Davis, Terry (B'ham, H'ge H'l)Lambie, David
Deakins, EricLamond, James
Dixon, DonaldLeighton, Ronald
Dormand, JackLewis, Terence (Worsley)
Douglas, DickLitherland, Robert
Livsey, RichardRichardson, Ms Jo
Lloyd, Tony (Stretford)Roberts, Ernest (Hackney N)
Lofthouse, GeoffreyRobertson, George
McCartney, HughRogers, Allan
McDonald, Dr OonaghRooker, J. W.
McKelvey, WilliamRoss, Ernest (Dundee W)
MacKenzie, Rt Hon GregorRowlands, Ted
Maclennan, RobertSedgemore, Brian
McTaggart, RobertSheldon, Rt Hon R.
McWilliam, JohnShore, Rt Hon Peter
Madden, MaxShort, Ms Clare (Ladywood)
Marek, Dr JohnSilkin, Rt Hon J.
Martin, MichaelSkinner, Dennis
Mason, Rt Hon RoySmith, C.(Isl'ton S & F'bury)
Maxton, JohnSmith, Rt Hon J. (M'ds E)
Maynard, Miss JoanSoley, Clive
Meacher, MichaelSpearing, Nigel
Meadowcroft, MichaelSteel, Rt Hon David
Michie, WilliamStott, Roger
Mikardo, IanStraw, Jack
Millan, Rt Hon BruceThomas, Dafydd (Merioneth)
Mitchell, Austin (G't Grimsby)Thomas, Dr R. (Carmarthen)
Morris, Rt Hon A. (W'shawe)Thompson, J. (Wansbeck)
Morris, Rt Hon J. (Aberavon)Thorne, Stan (Preston)
Nellist, DavidTinn, James
Oakes, Rt Hon GordonTorney, Tom
O'Brien, WilliamWallace, James
O'Neill, MartinWareing, Robert
Park, GeorgeWhite, James
Parry, RobertWigley, Dafydd
Pavitt, LaurieWilliams, Rt Hon A.
Pendry, TomWilson, Gordon
Penhaligon, DavidWinnick, David
Pike, PeterWoodall, Alec
Powell, Raymond (Ogmore)Young, David (Bolton SE)
Prescott, John
Randall, StuartTellers for the Ayes:
Raynsford, NickMr. James Hamilton and
Rees, Rt Hon M. (Leeds S)Mr. Allen McKay.
NOES
Aitken, JonathanDorrell, Stephen
Alexander, RichardDouglas-Hamilton, Lord J.
Alison, Rt Hon MichaelDurant, Tony
Amess, DavidEvennett, David
Ancram, MichaelFenner, Mrs Peggy
Atkins, Robert (South Ribble)Forman, Nigel
Atkinson, David (B'm'th E)Forsyth, Michael (Stirling)
Baker, Rt Hon K. (Mole Vall'y)Forth, Eric
Baker, Nicholas (Dorset N)Franks, Cecil
Baldry, TonyFraser, Peter (Angus East)
Banks, Robert (Harrogate)Fry, Peter
Bellingham, HenryGardiner, George (Reigate)
Best, KeithGardner, Sir Edward (Fylde)
Biggs-Davison, Sir JohnGarel-Jones, Tristan
Body, Sir RichardGlyn, Dr Alan
Boscawen, Hon RobertGoodlad, Alastair
Bottomley, Mrs VirginiaGow, Ian
Brandon-Bravo, MartinGreenway, Harry
Bright, GrahamGregory, Conal
Brooke, Hon PeterGriffiths, Sir Eldon
Brown, M. (Brigg & Cl'thpes)Griffiths, Peter (Portsm'th N)
Buchanan-Smith, Rt Hon A.Ground, Patrick
Buck, Sir AntonyHamilton, Hon A. (Epsom)
Budgen, NickHamilton, Neil (Tatton)
Burt, AlistairHanley, Jeremy
Butterfill, JohnHannam, John
Carlisle, Kenneth (Lincoln)Hargreaves, Kenneth
Carlisle, Rt Hon M. (W'ton S)Harris, David
Carttiss, MichaelHarvey, Robert
Cash, WilliamHaselhurst, Alan
Chapman, SydneyHawksley, Warren
Clark, Sir W. (Croydon S)Hayes, J.
Clarke, Rt Hon K. (Rushcliffe)Hayward, Robert
Coombs, SimonHeathcoat-Amory, David
Cope, JohnHenderson, Barry
Couchman, JamesHickmet, Richard
Critchley, JulianHicks, Robert
Crouch, DavidHiggins, Rt Hon Terence L.
Dicks, TerryHind, Kenneth
Hirst, MichaelMajor, John
Hogg, Hon Douglas (Gr'th'm)Malins, Humfrey
Holland, Sir Philip (Gedling)Malone, Gerald
Holt, RichardMaples, John
Howard, MichaelMarland, Paul
Howarth, Alan (Stratf'd-on-A)Marlow, Antony
Howarth, Gerald (Cannock)Mates, Michael
Howell, Ralph (Norfolk, N)Mather, Carol
Hubbard-Miles, PeterMaude, Hon Francis
Hunt, John (Ravensbourne)Maxwell-Hyslop, Robin
Hunter, AndrewMayhew, Sir Patrick
Hurd, Rt Hon DouglasMellor, David
Jackson, RobertMerchant, Piers
Jenkin, Rt Hon PatrickMiller, Hal (B'grove)
Jones, Gwilym (Cardiff N)Mills, Iain (Meriden)
Jones, Robert (Herts W)Miscampbell, Norman
Kellett-Bowman, Mrs ElaineMitchell, David (Hants NW)
Kershaw, Sir AnthonyMonro, Sir Hector
Key, RobertMorris, M. (N'hampton S)
King, Roger (B'ham N'field)Mudd, David
Knight, Greg (Derby N)Neale, Gerrard
Knowles, MichaelNeedham, Richard
Knox, DavidNelson, Anthony
Lamont, NormanNewton, Tony
Lang, IanNicholls, Patrick
Latham, MichaelOnslow, Cranley
Lawler, GeoffreyOppenheim, Phillip
Lawrence, IvanPage, Richard (Herts SW)
Leigh, Edward (Gainsbor'gh)Patten, J. (Oxf W & Abgdn)
Lennox-Boyd, Hon MarkPattie, Geoffrey
Lewis, Sir Kenneth (Stamf'd)Pawsey, James
Lightbown, DavidPeacock, Mrs Elizabeth
Lilley, PeterPollock, Alexander
Lloyd, Ian (Havant)Powell, William (Corby)
Lord, MichaelPowley, John
Luce, Rt Hon RichardPrentice, Rt Hon Reg
Lyell, NicholasPrice, Sir David
McCurley, Mrs AnnaProctor, K. Harvey
Macfarlane, NeilRaffan, Keith
MacKay, Andrew (Berkshire)Raison, Rt Hon Timothy
Maclean, David JohnRathbone, Tim
McNair-Wilson, M. (N'bury)Rhys Williams, Sir Brandon
McNair-Wilson, P. (New F'st)Ridley, Rt Hon Nicholas
Rippon, Rt Hon GeoffreyTerlezki, Stefan
Roberts, Wyn (Conwy)Thompson, Donald (Calder V)
Robinson, Mark (N'port W)Thornton, Malcolm
Roe, Mrs MarionThurnham, Peter
Rost, PeterTownend, John (Bridlington)
Rowe, AndrewTwinn, Dr Ian
Rumbold, Mrs Angelavan Straubenzee, Sir W.
Ryder, RichardVaughan, Sir Gerard
Sainsbury, Hon TimothyViggers, Peter
Sayeed, JonathanWaddington, David
Shaw, Giles (Pudsey)Wakeham, Rt Hon John
Shaw, Sir Michael (Scarb')Walden, George
Shelton, William (Streatham)Walker, Bill (T'side N)
Shepherd, Colin (Hereford)Waller, Gary
Silvester, FredWard, John
Sims, RogerWardle, C. (Bexhill)
Skeet, Sir TrevorWatson, John
Soames, Hon NicholasWatts, John
Speed, KeithWells, Bowen (Hertford)
Spencer, DerekWells, Sir John (Maidstone)
Spicer, Jim (Dorset W)Wheeler, John
Spicer, Michael (S Worcs)Whitney, Raymond
Squire, RobinWinterton, Mrs Ann
Stanbrook, IvorWolfson, Mark
Stanley, Rt Hon JohnWood, Timothy
Stern, MichaelWoodcock, Michael
Stevens, Lewis (Nuneaton)Young, Sir George (Acton)
Stewart, Andrew (Sherwood)Younger, Rt Hon George
Sumberg, David
Taylor, John (Solihull)Tellers for the Noes:
Taylor, Teddy (S'end E)Mr. Michael Neubert and
Tebbit, Rt Hon NormanMr. Peter Lloyd.
Temple-Morris, Peter

Question accordingly negatived.

Amendments made: No. 43, in page 10, line 25 leave out 'any conditions which prescribe' and insert 'such conditions as to'.

No. 46, in page 11, line 3 after 'constable', insert 'in uniform'.—[Mr. Giles Shaw.]