UK Government reject Senedd’s opposition to bill that would ban ‘disruptive’ protests
Opposition by the Senedd to the Police and Crime Bill doesn’t matter according to the UK Government as the controversial legislation made its way through the House of Lords.
The UK Government’s Minister of State for Home Affairs, Baroness Williams, told the House of Lords that she wanted to “put on record” that the UK Government didn’t consider that the bill needed the consent of the Welsh Parliament.
Campaigners say the bill’s anti-protest measures will grant police too much power to ban any marches and demonstrations that they consider to be “seriously disruptive”, including those deemed too noisy.
Police would also be granted expanded stop and search powers and sentences of up to 10 years could be handed down for damage to memorials or statues.
The Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill were debated in the Senedd on 18 January. They voted for half of the bill, but rejected the most controversial provisions, including damage to memorials and imposing restrictions on the right to protest. 14 voted for, with 40 voting against.
Wales’ Minister for Social Justice, Jane Hutt, had said before the vote that “there are parts of the Bill that are within competence that are insidious, and which impact negatively on the rights of people”.
“I’ll continue to make the point to the UK Government that the measures they’re proposing in relation to protest cannot and should not be tolerated. As Members have said today, we must allow people the right to voice their views in peaceful protest in a law-abiding way.
“As also Members have said today, we, so many of us, have seen that as the lifeblood of our politics, of our voices, and the way in which we can enable people to express that is key to the lifeblood of our democracy, as we see on our Senedd steps, as we see in the processions, the protests, the marches, which we know are about the strength of views that we then want to respond to.”
However, in the House of Lords, Susan Williams, Baroness Williams of Trafford, said that the bill did not fall within the Senedd’s competence.
“Turning to the second Motion put forward by the Welsh Government, the Senedd declined to give its legislative consent to certain provisions in the Bill relating to criminal damage to memorials, public order and unauthorised encampments,” she said.
“I therefore want to put on record that, in the view of the UK Government, these measures again relate to reserved matters and therefore did not engage the LCM process, or indeed require legislative consent.”
Baroness Williams however said that the Senedd had given consent to the parts of the bill that required their consent.
“I am pleased to say that the LCM agreed by the Senedd gave legislative consent to all the measures in the Bill which, in the view of the UK Government, engaged the LCM process in the Senedd itself,” she said.
“In addition, the LCM passed by the Senedd also covered the measures in the Bill relating to the increase in the maximum penalty for assaulting an emergency worker and the extraction of information from electronic devices.
“In the view of the UK Government, these measures related strictly to reserved matters and therefore did not engage the LCM process or, indeed, require legislative consent.”
Last week the House of Lords voted to reject some of the controversial changes to the way protests are policed, including plans to give the police new powers to stop protests in England and Wales if they are deemed to be too noisy and disruptive.
The Bill will now go back to the House of Commons so MPs can respond.
Support our Nation today
For the price of a cup of coffee a month you can help us create an independent, not-for-profit, national news service for the people of Wales, by the people of Wales.
One of the cornerstones of an open and free democratic society is the right to protest, this bill is removing that right, this is how dictatorships are created, these english tories know exactly what they’re doing
So Westminster decides which universal human rights we are entitled to? The case for independence seems to grow by the day.
Take a guess which Welsh MPs are in favour of this blatant rigging of parliament? Patel actually waited until the Bill left the Commons for the Lords before adding 18 pages to it hoping to avoid scrutiny so the denial of legislative consent to the devolved governments is just the tip of a totalitarian iceberg.
The answer? Every single Tory.
Yet another reason for further devolution or independence.
Praise god we are not just a musical nation but radical to boot.
This shows the growing differences between the UK Government and the Senedd and not just the Senedd, the Scottish and N.Ireland Goverments too. It’s all leading to one place – separation for all these nations and the UK Government is stupid enough not to even realise it is the driving force in this happening.
Like others on the right in Cymru, I have been sceptical by claims from the Left about the Tories leaning toward fascism, but this a definite indication. We really do need to sit up and take notice? Perhaps a good “disruptive” demo in support of our senedd??
We have all recently witnessed what life could be like here in a few years time, seeing what actions the governments of former Soviet states are taking in Belarus, Kyrgyzstan and Khazakstan when people take to the streets to demonstrate. It has started here make no mistake. Imprisoned for a noisy protest, We need indy now.
Yes indeed. One would hope that the Senedd will contact the Scottish Parliament and NI Assembly to put forward and agreed statement in which the ‘bad’ bits of the Bill are categorically rejected. The whole UK will then see that it is the Tory Cabal in Westminster that is stealing our freedoms.
Could a legal expert please answer this question?
Is the right to peaceful protest protected by the European Convention on Human Rights (e.g. freedom of association, freedom of expression)?
More English Whitehall imposition on Wales. Another Tryweryn will happen one day, and when it does, the brave men & women who fight this fascist government’s Draconian policies will be treated like terrorists for not only protecting our land but civil liberties too.
That picture of Extinction Rebellion Cymru wasn’t taken last year but in 2019 – the caption needs to be changed.