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Serious Organised Crime and Police Bill

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 5:30 pm on 6th April 2005.

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Photo of Lord Phillips of Sudbury Lord Phillips of Sudbury Liberal Democrat 5:30 pm, 6th April 2005

My Lords, I shall speak briefly in support of my noble friend Lady Williams. I fear that this part of the Bill in particular gives such wide and discretionary powers to the police, and those to whom they are expressly given, as to create a dangerous regime. I should add to my noble friend's remarks that, for example, under Clause 136, a constable can arrest a single demonstrator in the belief that the demonstrator has not obtained the necessary authorisations.

A demonstration could constitute a single person, because the Bill makes it clear that the demonstration can be by someone who is merely shouting in the street—for example, when seeing someone leaving these Houses who that demonstrator feels passionately about in relation to the issue concerned. That individual will, if the provision is passed, be subject to immediate arrest by any policeman in the vicinity. That is not remotely right or sensible.

If the Minister says that the police will of course exercise their discretion, it would underline my concern about the discretionary nature of these vast powers. Parliament is increasingly dealing with that type of legislation and it is bad legislation. I merely wished to say that and to support strongly the comments that have been made.