[1st Allocated Day]

Part of Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill – in the House of Commons at 8:11 pm on 15th March 2021.

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Photo of Lloyd Russell-Moyle Lloyd Russell-Moyle Labour/Co-operative, Brighton, Kemptown 8:11 pm, 15th March 2021

This is a Trojan horse Bill, and the Home Secretary is Sinon at the gates of Troy saying, “I’m the only one left! Please let me in with this fantastic Bill that’s going to do all the things that you Opposition Back Benchers have been asking me to do.” Well, we see that hidden in the Bill, there are some nasty and pernicious laws. Many of the good things in the Bill could be achieved by either amending or bringing forward separate Bills, such as the Death by Dangerous Driving (Sentencing) Bill, promoted by Mrs May.

Instead, the Government have put forward a Bill that is so big, so expansive and so diverse that it covers two Departments, so that they can squeeze the good things in as well as those that deny the rights of people. If we allowed this to stand, every Government would do it, would they not? They would put pernicious rules into what, in public speaking, we call a “something sandwich”, where you put the bad in the middle and sandwich it with the good. That is what the Bill is. I will come on to what the particularly bad things are, but there are also great missed opportunities. I sat on the upskirting Bill Committee. We pushed amendments, and the Government accepted that they would explore bringing forward misogyny as a hate crime. Where is that in this Bill? That could have been included, and it is so disappointing that it is not. There are clearly missed opportunities.

Part 3 of the Bill is particularly problematic, and notably the use of the phrase “serious unease”. To tell the truth, I find myself feeling serious unease when certain Government Members speak and I disagree with them, but in a democracy, I can feel unease, disagree and even think that they are saying things that are offensive, but they are not criminalised. During the Brexit debates, in the main, the protests outside this place by UKIP and Brexit party supporters and by the remainers were eccentric and annoying to many of us at the time, but to me, it summarised the beauty of British democracy when those peaceful protesters, sometimes of opposing forces, were ringing bells and shouting into horns. Now there is the idea that the police could say, “You’ve gone a decibel over—you’re a criminal.” Many of the people on protests will not even know that the police have laid orders down, because it will not be widely known, so we will be criminalising people without them even knowing it.

I have not even got on to some of the really pernicious measures in the Bill, such as those on Traveller communities. If we had decent move-on sites and decent support from local authorities and made sure that we worked with the community, we could resolve the problems. Surrey has no move-on sites whatsoever—no wonder there are problems in that county. Those are the things we need to deal with rather than criminalising. The idea that someone in a layby over one night could be considered a criminal—