Thank you to all those who contacted me about the Public Order Bill and Bill of Rights.
I oppose both of these Bills. The Government seems more focused on divisive, headline-grabbing policies rather than dealing with the people’s priorities, such as the appallingly low charge rates for rape and sexual offences; worrying levels of violent crime; the thousands of criminals going unpunished; and victims withdrawing from the investigation process because they do not believe they will see justice.
With regard to the Public Order Bill, I think the threshold for triggering the new offences contained within it is too low and casts the net too wide, risking criminalising legitimate, peaceful protests and non-criminal action. I also think the Bill will disproportionately interfere with human rights legislation and that there are not enough safeguards in place to mitigate this risk
For these reasons, I have voted against the Public Order Bill at every opportunity. Sadly, attempts to amend the new powers in this Bill have so far been unsuccessful. The Bill is currently being considered in the House of Lords where I hope such amendments will have more chance of success.
With regard to the Bill of Rights, I believe that the current Human Rights Act works well and should not be replaced. I am proud that in 1998, the then-Government introduced the Human Rights Act, which brings important rights home, giving our most vulnerable citizens a powerful means of redress. That is why I robustly defend the Human Rights Act, as well as Britain’s continued membership of the European Convention on Human Rights.
I note that despite the fact the Bill of Rights was published over six months ago, it has still not been set a date for its Second Reading. This indicates that even Ministers may recognise there are significant issues their plans. I continue to follow developments in this area very closely.