Last night (7 Feb 2023) concluded Report Stage on the Public Order Bill in the House of Lords and the Bill will now return to the House of Commons. The Bill paves the way for the UK government to introduce a range of new powers to restrict demonstrations and erode protest rights. However, Peers did succeed in mitigating some of the harm by:
- Voting to remove stop and search without suspicion (Amendment 47)
- Voting to remove Serious Disruption Prevention Orders without conviction (Amendment 63)
- Voting to introduce greater protections for journalists and other observers of protest (Amendment 54)
- Voting down government amendments to introduce new police powers to pre-emptively restrict protest (Amendment 48)
- Voting down government amendments that would have removed the reasonable excuse defense from the offences of willful obstruction of the highway and public nuisance (Amendment 50)
However, in a missed opportunity, several amendments were not put to a vote today including amendment 46 on suspicion-based stop and search, and amendment 59 Serious Disruption Prevention Orders made on conviction; alongside amendments to remove the criminal offices of locking on and being equipped to lock on which were not put to a vote during day one of Report Stage.
In reaction to this evening’s outcome, Stephanie Draper, CEO at Bond, the UK network of NGOs, said:
“While we were pleased Peers voted to mitigate some of the harm this Bill will have on the right to protest, we are extremely disappointed that key amendments were not pushed to a vote.
At a time when the right to protest is under attack around the world, the government should be setting a positive example to countries that have clamped down on civic space. Instead, the UK is mirroring this trend and is becoming increasingly authoritarian by making it harder for people to protest. How can the UK call other world leaders out for undermining democracy if we are doing the same thing here?”
Notes to editor
- Following today’s reading at report stage, the Bill now has a third and final reading in the Lords before going through the final stages of consideration of amendments and royal assent.
- More information on the timeline of the Public Order Bill.
- How Lords voted on key amendments on 7 Feb:
Amendment 47 passed 284 contents to 209 not content
Amendment 48 failed 240 contents to 255 not content
Amendment 50 failed 239 contents to 248 not content
Amendment 54 passed 283 contents to 192 not content
Amendment 63 passed 247 contents to 192 not content
- Joint briefing on the Public Order Bill available online.
- Bond is the UK network for organisations working in international development. Bond unites and supports a diverse network of over 400 civil society organisations from across the UK, and allies to help eradicate global poverty, inequality and injustice.
- For further information or interviews please contact Jess Salter at [email protected]