Protection of Freedoms Bill (Programme) (No. 3)

Part of Oral Answers to Questions — Defence – in the House of Commons at 6:33 pm on 10th October 2011.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of James Brokenshire James Brokenshire The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department 6:33 pm, 10th October 2011

My hon. Friend takes the issues of the House extremely seriously, and I respect him for that. The Government have made important changes to how legislation is scrutinised. We are having two days on Report for the Bill, and that is markedly different from what we would have seen from the previous Government; we would have had a day for consideration of a Bill of this kind.

The terms of the programme motion will come as a disappointment to my hon. Friend Mr Leigh and the other right hon. and hon. Members who have put their name to new clause 1. Despite the two days that we have set aside for Report, twice the normal allocation that we were accustomed to seeing in the last Parliament, regrettably it is unlikely that the House will be able to consider all the new clauses tabled for debate.

As I said, the programme motion has been constructed to ensure that there is adequate time to consider the key provisions already in the Bill. I believe that that is the right approach. Although this is not the occasion to consider the substance of new clause 1, which seeks to amend section 5 of the Public Order Act 1986, I fully recognise that the matter is of considerable interest to a number of Members on both sides of the House. That much is clear from the number of right hon. and hon. Members who have added their names to the new clause.

We agree that the issue should be examined further. That is why, in the next few days, we will publish a consultation seeking views on whether section 5 should be amended along the lines proposed by my hon. Friend the Member for Gainsborough. I will be happy to meet him to hear his views on this important issue. Once the consultation has concluded—it will run to early in the new year—the Government will set out their conclusions as quickly as possible, so that they can inform the debate on the issue while the Bill is in another place. I have no doubt that there will be other opportunities for the House to consider section 5, either when we next examine the Bill on its return from the other place or on some other suitable occasion. I can assure my hon. Friend that through the consultation we want to promote debate on this issue, not seek to curtail it, by widening and broadening it outside this House.