Criminal Justice and Immigration Bill

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 7:00 pm on 3rd March 2008.

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Photo of Lord Dear Lord Dear Crossbench 7:00 pm, 3rd March 2008

I find myself following the noble Earl, Lord Ferrers, and agreeing with every word he said. I shall not attempt to go over the same ground. I support the amendment. When the Lord, Lord Waddington, was taking his rather large stick and belabouring the constabulary in various parts of the country, a number of noble Lords looked at me, making eye contact, almost urging me on. I therefore stand to address that one point if nothing else.

The noble Lord, Lord Waddington, was a little harsh on the police who are between a rock and a hard place because the current law is confusing. I have some sympathy with forces that have a complaint made to them as to what they should do in the current state of affairs. Were they to turn their backs on the complaint, they could almost guarantee that Stonewall and others would immediately complain about them. They therefore have little recourse but to investigate the facts and put them to the Crown Prosecution Service, which makes the decision. The decision is with the CPS and would remain with it.

Having tried to put that part of what the noble Lord, Lord Waddington, suggested to the Committee into context, I agree with everything that has been said about the need for clarification on this issue. Noble Lords will have shared my experience of a post bag full of letters from well meaning, honest, decent people who are fearful of being prosecuted if they simply express an opinion. One may or may not agree with the opinion, but they want to be able to express an opinion on this issue. I make no comment about where I stand on that, other than to say that I recognise the need for freedom of expression. It is for that reason, and that reason alone, that roundly I support the amendment tabled by the noble Lord, Lord Waddington.

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david skinner
Posted on 27 Mar 2008 8:04 pm (Report this annotation)

Lord Dear you are absolutely right. Why should the police have to make decisions that no longer rely upon reason or commonsense. And as you say they are damned if the make an arrest and damned if they don't. Why not just arrest everyone who is within a mile of the event? The genius who is behind all this; the one who is pulling the strings is Ben Summerskill; he is the one who should be arrested for subverting the law and trying to create fear and anarchy.