Public Order Bill - Report (1st Day) – in the House of Lords at 6:30 pm on 30th January 2023.
Moved by Lord Faulks
8: Clause 1, page 1, line 18, at end insert— “(2A) The fact that the person did the act mentioned in paragraph (a) of subsection (1) as part of or in furtherance of a protest on an issue of current debate will not constitute a reasonable excuse for doing that act.”Member’s explanatory statementThis amendment seeks to limit the scope of the reasonable excuse defence, as the ingredients of the offence themselves ensure consistent with case law that its interference with a protester’s Convention rights is proportionate.
The House has heard the debate, and I am not going to repeat the arguments, which have been well set out. I suggest that it is clear as a matter of law that this is a perfectly sensible and legal amendment to the Bill that would provide clarity. The alternative approach is that the police somehow have to assess the absence of reasonable excuse. It is a difficult balance to achieve; what the amendment does is strike a balance between the undoubted and important right to protest and the right of people to go about their everyday life. I commend this amendment to the House, and I wish to test the opinion of the House.
Ayes 221, Noes 224.