Lords defeat government over planned clampdown on transport protest


The Government has suffered a string of defeats in the House of Lords over its plans to clamp down on protests - particularly those causing disruption to roads and transport.

Opposition peers voted against a range of measures in the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill, forcing the Bill back to the Commons and inflicting 14 defeats against the Government.

Controversially, the Bill planned to clamp down on protests in the wake of environmental activist campaigns that have blocked roads and disrupted transport.

Members of Insulate Britain and Extinction Rebellion have used a range of tactics to raise awareness for their cause including blocking roads and glueing themselves to trains.

The moves to limit the right to protest were decried by camapigners including Transport Network columnist and chair of the accessibility charity Transport for All, Alan Benson, wh was recently given an MBE for services to public transport for people with disabilities.

He tweeted: 'Without the noisy, annoying and lawful protests that I attended Crossrail would not be entirely step free. I am the law abiding majority. It's your laws that will make me a criminal.'

Peers voted against the Government's plans to:

  • create a new offence of 'locking on' carrying a penalty of up to a year in prison - this tactic is used by protesters to make it difficult for security forces to remove them
  • create a new offence of obstructing the construction or maintenance of major transport works
  • make it an offence for a person to interfere with key national infrastructure, including airports, the road network, railways and newspaper printers
  • expand stop and search powers to allow police officers to intervene if it was suspected an offence was planned, such as causing serious disruption or obstructing major transport works, and to stop and search anyone at a protest 'without suspicion'

Peers voted for new amendments to the bill that would restrict the imposition of tougher sentences for blocking a highway to major routes and motorways.

Number 10 said it would 'reflect' on the results, adding: 'It is disappointing the Lords did not back the public order measures that will ensure the everyday lives of the overwhelming majority are not disrupted by a selfish minority of protesters whose actions endanger lives and cost the public millions of pounds.'

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