New Clause 18 — Demonstrating without authorisation in designated area

Part of Orders of the Day — Serious Organised Crime and Police Bill — [1st Allotted Day] – in the House of Commons at 9:03 pm on 7th February 2005.

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Photo of Caroline Flint Caroline Flint Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office) 9:03 pm, 7th February 2005

These new clauses are a response to the Procedure Committee which, in its report on Sessional Orders and Resolutions, considered in detail the legislation governing protests and demonstrations in Parliament square, which have given rise to a great deal of discussion and concern among Members of the House, as well as staff.

Following the concerns expressed in Committee about clause 128, particularly subsection (2)(c), the Home Secretary and I reconsidered how best to implement the Procedure Committee's report. We need specific legislation that recognises the unique position of Parliament and its surroundings. The Government recognise that existing legislation has not provided the police with all the powers they need to control all protests and demonstrations around Parliament. That was demonstrated clearly during our debate on the ways in which local authorities, the police and others have tried unsuccessfully to use the law to deal with particular problems.

Government new clauses 18 to 22, which would replace clauses 128 and 129, require all demonstrations that are planned to take place in the designated area to be notified to the Metropolitan Police Commissioner six days in advance. That follows the requirement in the Public Order Act 1986 for all marches to be notified in advance. The precise area will be defined in secondary legislation.

Following our discussions in Committee, we decided that it was important to have a clear process in line with current precedent on processions to provide greater certainty on what we intend to achieve and greater consistency for people applying to hold demonstrations.