New Clause 11 — Guidance on offences that involve hatred on grounds of sexual orientation

Part of Pension Credit and Personal Expense Allowance (Duty of Consultation and Review) – in the House of Commons at 5:15 pm on 24th March 2009.

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Photo of Evan Harris Evan Harris Shadow Science Minister 5:15 pm, 24th March 2009

I respect the hon. and learned Gentleman's position on matters of free speech. He is right to criticise Stonewall's view that that material would be caught. That is not our view, and I do not believe that it is the Government's view. I hope that they will make that clear in due course.

Does the hon. and learned Gentleman agree that if we are to solve these problems, we must make it clear, in statute and in the minds of the police, that there is no right not to be offended? We need to get rid of the idea of insult, especially unintentional insult—as in section 5 of the Public Order Act 1986—from our statute book, and also to ensure that guidance throughout makes it clear to the police that they cannot take seriously complaints of insult which is not direct abuse. Does the hon. and learned Gentleman agree with that?

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