[1st Allocated Day]

Part of Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill – in the House of Commons at 9:37 pm on 15th March 2021.

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Photo of Tom Randall Tom Randall Conservative, Gedling 9:37 pm, 15th March 2021

May I, first, associate myself with the sympathy expressed by my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary to Sarah Everard’s family at the outset of this debate? When this Bill comes to a vote tomorrow I will be supporting it. I will be supporting a Bill that will ensure stronger sentences for child murderers, rapists, violent offenders, dangerous drivers, child abusers, burglars, drug dealers, knife carriers and those who desecrate our memorials. The Labour party will be voting against those stronger sentences. Labour, having previously said that the legislation does not go far enough, will now vote against all of that, in an astonishing U-turn. It will also be voting against increased sentences for those who assault our emergency service workers.

This is a wide-ranging piece of legislation that will, quite reasonably, update public order legislation that is now 35 years old. In the short time in which I have to speak this evening, I am unable to cover the breadth of this Bill, but I will pick out a couple of points. I am pleased to see that the police covenant is to be enshrined in law, strengthening support for serving and retired officers. I know that unauthorised encampments can cause a great deal of stress and inconvenience, as I saw in my constituency, in Colwick, a little while ago, as well as disruption and damage. The power to seize vehicles and arrest or fine trespassers who attempt to reside on private and public land without permission will, no doubt, be reassuring.

It is also important to state that the Bill will not stop the right to protest. The right to demonstrate is a hard-fought one, and it will continue. A number of constituents have written to me regarding clause 59, but it is important to note that this is a component of the existing common law offence of causing a public nuisance, which is being put on to a statutory footing following recommendations by the Law Commission in its 2016 report on the simplification of criminal law. All in all, this is a Bill that makes good on several commitments made in the manifesto on which I stood for election in 2019. I am pleased to support it and I look forward to its passage in the House.