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 9:45 pm on 7th February 2005.

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Photo of David Heath David Heath Shadow Spokesperson (Home Affairs) 9:45 pm, 7th February 2005

In fact, I do not think the Government have a clue what they are doing. They simply have a visceral dislike of someone disagreeing so obviously, and in such a prolonged way, on their doorstep. That is why we have what can only be described, although it is a cliché, as a sledgehammer to crack the proverbial nut. I do not believe that the Government should be making it a criminal offence for someone simply to express his view in Parliament square in a time-honoured way, and I do not think they should extend the area to 1 km. I find it alarming enough that the Minister has changed the Government's position since she said in Committee that the intention was to protect Parliament. Now it is Parliament and Government buildings, which is illustrative in itself.

I believe that the Government have got this wrong and I urge my colleagues to oppose their measure.