New Clause 6 - Police directions stopping the harassment etc of a person in his home

Part of Criminal Justice and Police Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 12:30 pm on 6th March 2001.

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Photo of Stephen Ladyman Stephen Ladyman Labour, South Thanet 12:30 pm, 6th March 2001

As I said in an intervention, all my life, before becoming a Member of Parliament, I have been involved in organisations that did medical research and used animals for the purpose. I am proud of that. The work of my colleagues during those years has helped millions of people. Now it falls to me, as a Member of Parliament, to protect them and do something for them in return for what they have given to so many. At present, the law is clearly letting them down.

We need to consider the activities that people engage in against scientists—by which I do not mean only scientists who use animals. People have, for one reason or another, taken it upon themselves to think that a range of scientific activities, such as research into genetic modification, is inappropriate. We must judge the new clauses against activities such as assault and the vandalism of people's homes and properties, both of which are covered in existing legislation and need not trouble us. However, we must also consider activities such as the sending of poison pen letters, telephone calls and e-mails; the issue of threats by letter, telephone and e-mail; demonstrations at the work place and at home; abuse of people going to or coming from their work; and abuse of people at leisure, in their local high street for example, because they work at these establishments. The amendments deal with such activities and we must judge whether they will be successful in that respect.

New clause 6, which refers to demonstrations at people's dwellings, is a major step forward. The hon. Member for Surrey Heath (Mr. Hawkins) said that the Bill does not go far enough and that organisations such as the Research Defence Society and the ABPI agree with him. That is not what they tell me; they have certainly come up with ideas that go further than the Government's, but they are delighted that the Government are going as far as they are. Clearly, they want us to encourage the Government to go further and to reconsider some of the issues, and I shall be expanding on such matters in my speech.