[1st Allocated Day]

Part of Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill – in the House of Commons at 6:21 pm on 15th March 2021.

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Photo of Nick Thomas-Symonds Nick Thomas-Symonds Shadow Home Secretary 6:21 pm, 15th March 2021

Because the existing laws deal with those issues. The Conservative party is not making the case for the additional powers.

The right to protest to those in power—including the Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department, Chris Philp, who waves his Order Paper at me—is extremely precious. I declare an interest as a proud trade unionist and refer to my relevant entry in the Register of Members’ Financial Interests on support from the Unite union and the GMB. Whether it is our trade unions or another group that wants to make its views known loudly in our streets, we curtail their ability to do so at our peril. The right to protest is one of our proudest democratic traditions, and that this Government seek to attack it is to their great shame. Our existing laws on protest strike a careful balance between legitimate rights and the need to keep order. Our laws on protest do not, and never should, seek to shield those in power from public criticism and public protest. We on the Opposition Benches will oppose a Bill that puts at risk the whole right to protest, hard-won by previous generations, that is part of the fabric of British democracy. In seeking to preserve the right to protest, we on these Benches stand in a long tradition of British democracy. It is this Government who seek to undermine those traditions.