DAY 3667: FRIDAY JUNE 17TH 2011.
UK PARLIAMENT: HOT AIR ON HANSARD JUNE 16TH 2011.
In 2006, Ian McDonald QC, of Garden Court Chambers said to Babs, "The Nazis made - laws - to kill people".
If nothing else, the intended new UK 'Legislation', The Police 'Reform' and 'Social Responsibilty' Bill highlights the true "intentions" of a malevolent UK 'Parliament' which surely descended into the gutter, long ago, if it ever actually rose out of it.
Parliament has only ever been an accomodation, or an attempt by those with weapons etc. to appease the rest.
The House of Lords by their own admission didn't discuss this particular Sword of Damocles much on June 16th 2011, because of course they do not want to attract too much attention to what they are really doing.
What the House of Lords did not breathe a word about, is that we are publicly saying they are comitting war crimes 24/7, the most serious crimes known to humanity, and so it is right and proper that they are publicly challenged by all decent and civilzed people.
The legislation highlights the stark difference - between - 'legislatation', where any crook can sit in the Houses of Parliament and lie about whatever they like, so any idiot can enact whatever they like - and - a system of justice, with real checks and balances and safeguards, which can only exist - if - the system of justice is in place - before - and has primacy over - democracy, a word that is merely wheeled out for convenience, and as a distraction here and there.
The supposed 'vote' or 'majority rule' is a pointless distraction and meaningless, when the true starting point is, it always was illegal to wage wars of aggression.
This new legislation intends to make the UK a safe haven for war criminals. A place where politicians can vote to kill whoever they like, anywhere, while turning a blind eye to the actions of chosen cronies, elsewhere.
It will become a criminal offence for ordinary people to publicly - challenge - government over war crimes - and - it will become impossible for ordinary people to put evidence of war crimes, before a 'court'.
At the - heart - of the new 'legislation', Parliament make clear their intention, that "they" say you can register your disapproval over their killing people, for a day, here or there, (and preferably at weekends while they are at their country piles) but you cannot publicly challenge or try to change their killing of people.
A convenient subtext is of course to try and get Parliament et al off the hook over having run the largest operation of agent provocateurs in the country, right outside government.
It is an interesting one, that one. Is it legal to try and pass legislation, to try and conceal agent provocateurs ? Hmmm...
Anyway, when all is said and done, they intend to use force to steal our campaign and imprison us, when we do not "comply" with any number of "orders" that will ban us.
This is from a government, who, let's not beat around the bush, have endlessly anyway, through various means tried to to hasten our demise, including to murder us, (let's have the CCTV of September 3rd & 4th 2009 !!) because "they" claim, they can "vote" to murder whoever they like, anywhere.
"They" just wrap it all up in what they consider to be acceptable "language".
There will inevitably be those who will write hot air about the - legal - situation or otherwise of what WE DO.
What they write will by and large be hot air, because we live what we do and it is our campaign, Parliament is setting out to shut down, so when all is said and done, it is what we know and do that will matter, and we know ALL the games that are played, including that it will never be honestly reported what we said and did.
What is important is that we stay so that our message continues to publicly go out to all the people from around the world, who one way or another, see our campaign in Parliament Square.
Parliament already know the flaw in their proposed 'legislation'.
"They" cannot repeal an Act admitting it is "overkill" while at the same time overtly replacing it with something that is even worse "OVERKILL". Even more draconian.
Parliament claim they will go back to the Public Order Act which is itself tenuous in parts, but now Parliament want to add even more tenuous parts, that are not part of the Public Order Act, which would only apply in a tiny part of Central London, where there really is no discernible HARM. In addition, Parliament intend to create very serious sanctions involving theft and imprisonment, which were not in the previous legislation.
Their - flawed - theory is that we could have our property stolen - and - be fined and imprisoned without even actually committing any PUBLIC ORDER offences.
It would be as simple as being imprisoned for campaigning too long, ( & while their killing which causes real harm, continues)
"They" have simply looked at where - previously - there were no sanctions (because there was no harm) and have now put in place very serious sanctions including major fines, illegal seizure and what would be unlawful imprisonment.
How do we know ? The illegal ....errr....seizure of 2006 & Babs and Steve Jago's extraordinary'Community Orders' in 2007, where in seeking to imprison us for peacefully campaigning, the orders had to be removed, when we just carried on peacefully campaigning.
The authorities would have to PROVE (and that we used force) to stop someone else peacefully using what is a 24/7 public space and they cannot do that.
Tsk Tsk. Those who were present and have looked at the court record know there were three pictures in the High Court & Court of Appeal, that were covered up, that proved, we never prevented anyone from peacefully using Parliament Square.
The photos were from 2007 and the Tour de France passing through a very full Parliament Square, the student protests in December 2010, and New Years Eve 2010, all times the Square was being used by massive groups of other people.
And does Babs really need to say, House of Lords ruling, DPP - v- Jones 1999, Parliament do not even get off the starting plate in the Magistrates Court ?
NB: 'LORD' MARLESFORD will find himself in very hot water - legally speaking - over his Private Members Bill (one of several Private Members Bills), also suggesting using force to remove - what he may arbitrarily consider "detritus". Thankfully this unelected turd has highlighted the contempt with which he holds the people, and the fact that he incorrectly believes some have the right to "vote" to murder whoever they like.
Parliament also know that the whole issue of loudspeakers is based on a lie. You can use a loudspeaker anywhere in the country for political speech. The ONLY requirement that could possibly be imposed, is the statutory one of noise nuisance and we simply do not breach noise levels.
White Rose: INTERVIEW WITH SURVIVOR.
pointing out the "murders"...
HANSARD HOT AIR: JUNE 16TH 2011:
The Bill was brought from the Commons, read a first time and ordered to be printed. Police Reform and Social Responsibility Bill Committee (6th Day) (Continued)
5.32 pm Clause 142 : Demonstrations in vicinity of Parliament: repeal of SOCPA 2005 provisions
Amendment 244ZZA Moved by Baroness Hamwee 244ZZA: Clause 142, page 96, line 32, leave out subsection (2)
Baroness Hamwee: This amendment takes us to the issues relating to Parliament Square. I start with an apology. Like many other noble Lords, I had thought that we would be a little further advanced by this time and I am committed to a speaking engagement, fortunately as near as Portcullis House. However, it means that I will not be here for the whole of the debate on this part of the Bill, about which I am extremely sad. The future of Parliament Square is an issue dear to my heart. However, I am delighted to see the repeal of what I have always thought of as offensive provisions in the Serious Organised Crime and Police Act. I have no need to rehearse at length why it is so important that demonstrations in the vicinity of Parliament should not be blocked. Indeed, I think that they should be facilitated. I was heartened, too, by a discussion that I had with the Hansard Society recently about the work that it is doing to promote better co-ordination of the various institutions around Parliament Square that are part of our democracy.
16 Jun 2011 : Column 970 That includes not just Parliament but the Supreme Court and Westminster Abbey. We could all operate better together for the benefit of tourists, of course, but more particularly for our own citizens. I do not want to see the re-enactment in the Bill of what I have described as offensive provisions for a narrower area-in other words, not to halfway up Whitehall and so on, but for Parliament Square itself. Maybe it is important to rehearse the importance of the rights to peaceful protest and assembly, which are integral to our democracy. Any interference in them must be proportionate as it is a matter of human rights. The Government are held to account through a number of mechanisms. Making views clear to both government and Parliament, whose job is partly to hold government to account, is integral to that. This is all wrapped up with the right of free speech. I have said to your Lordships before that it does us as parliamentarians no harm to be confronted, in a physically non-confrontational way, with other people's views. Sometimes those views are expressed vocally, though we may not hear so much of that at this end of the building. We tend to hear more noise from Old Palace Yard, which I think is outside the area covered by these provisions. The loudest is often the hymn-singing that is sometimes organised there by religious groups. As I said, it is not appropriate to re-enact the provisions for a narrower area, nor to give aesthetic considerations -tidying up the square-more weight than considerations based on democracy. What is there about Parliament Square that needs more protection than is available through the Public Order Act 1986? That is at the heart of the questions in this group and on this part of the Bill. The Joint Committee on Human Rights report said that, "the right to protest is clearly not an absolute right". It can legitimately be regulated but, "the regulation of protest should not represent a hidden obstacle to the freedom of assembly". At paragraph 1.16, the committee said: "the proposed offences must be justified by the Government as necessary to meet a legitimate aim and as proportionate to the proposed interference with the rights protected by Articles 10 and 11 ECHR, the right to freedom of expression and assembly". It said, I thought rather generously, that, "the Explanatory Notes explain in very broad terms the Government's view that these provisions are proportionate". I found it harder to detect justification in the Explanatory Notes. That is why I am opposing the question that these other clauses, beside Clause 142, should stand part of the Bill. That will save others from perhaps wondering in my absence why I am opposing that the clauses stand part. I know that my noble friend Lady Miller of Chilthorne Domer, who will move the amendments that I cannot, and who has a much longer track record of standing up for these matters than I do, will speak to them. I will therefore also be opposing that some of the other clauses stand part. On Clause 142, I am troubled by subsection (2) which provides that public assemblies will come within the Public Order Act, including, "public assemblies which started, or were being organised, before this section comes into force". 16 Jun 2011 : Column 971 This may not be retrospective in a technical sense but I wonder what it means. Section 14 of the 1986 Act provides that a police officer can only give directions or impose conditions prospectively. I have been wondering whether Clause 142(2) means that the directions bite only from when they are given. This is of course relevant to whether there is an offence as regards the past, or whether the offence is committed maybe in respect of a continuing activity but only from the point of a direction that is not obeyed. I beg to move.
Lord Campbell-Savours: My Lords, I shall intervene for a few moments. We are often told that scrutiny in the Lords is better than that in the Commons, but this is a section of the Bill that I would have liked to have talked on, under a number of amendments, and due to pressure of time and the fact that we will be going late this evening we will not have the opportunity. This section of the Bill will not be subject to the level of scrutiny that I believe it deserves.
Baroness Miller of Chilthorne Domer: My Lords, I follow that by saying that this is a particularly important section of the Bill. My noble friend Lady Hamwee laid out a little bit of the history of this legislation. Last time, with the SOCPA provisions, which are now being repealed, Parliament got it very wrong-although it got it wrong in a panic, as a reaction to terrorism. There are still things in the Bill that are deeply worrying, which is why it merits scrutiny. Having said that, I welcome the fact that the Government are repealing the SOCPA clauses. In speaking to Amendment 244ZZA, I shall give an example of one thing that should really worry us. My amendment suggests that we should remove from the Bill the words "or is about to". If somebody is doing a prohibited activity, it is quite plain that the police can give them a direction to stop them doing it. However, how will the police know that the person is about to do a prohibited activity? Is the policeman a mind reader? Can he or she guess what that person is about to do? There is something slightly more worrying behind these words. It disguises what we now have in this country-that is, two classes of citizen. The vast majority of the country do not fall into this class, but there is a second bunch of people who are classed as domestic extremists. Some of them may be in your Lordships' House, because to be a domestic extremist, for which there is no legal definition, you simply have to be somebody whom the police think has regularly gone on protests. I do not know the rest of the criteria that the police use to judge, and I do not believe that the Home Office is very aware of them, because when I asked a series of Written Questions about this to the Minister's predecessor I was told that there is no legal definition. There is a database, and people can find out if they are on the database if they apply under the Freedom of Information Act. However, of course they would not know to apply, because most people would not suspect that they were on it. This year we have also had the issue of the somewhat out-of-control undercover surveillance of activists. I am very glad that HMIC is currently carrying out a 16 Jun 2011 : Column 972 review of operational accountability of undercover work of the national public order intelligence unit, but we have not had the results yet of that review. In addition, the Metropolitan police force has just acquired the area to which their proposals should relate? Although he is not in his place, the noble Lord, Lord Blencathra, had amendments proposing, as I understand it, to include Abingdon Green. How would the situation be addressed if those protesting-the permanence of existing protests is an issue-moved just outside the area of Parliament Square? Do all the parties directly involved support the Government's proposals, including the Greater London Authority, Westminster City Council, the Metropolitan Police and indeed the House authorities here? Are there any areas of disagreement over the scope or the practicality of the proposals? We recognise that this is not an easy issue to resolve and that at the end of the day it will not just be about what is or is not in the Bill or any associated documentation. It is also about the degree of common sense-which, hopefully, will be considerable-that will be applied by all concerned in implementing the powers in the Bill.
Lord Wallace of Saltaire: My Lords, with nine clauses to deal with, worrying about a very small traffic island seems on the face of it to be a bit excessive, but I recognise that there is concern about the current situation in Parliament Square, the overkill that SOCPA applied to it and the question of what we put in place as we remove SOCPA. On the problem that we are trying to address and the harm that we are trying to remove, I say to the noble Lord, Lord Rosser, that the democracy encampment actually produced a considerable amount of harm to Parliament Square Garden. The garden, which should be there for the enjoyment of all, is still fenced off, as the noble Lord well knows, and not only tents but some semi-permanent structures now obstruct the pavement. I also recognise that this is part of a much wider discussion that we need to have, not just on the Bill but about the future of Parliament Square and of this part of Westminster as a whole. We had a useful debate on
16 Jun 2011 : Column 974 this on Friday, to which one or two Members here contributed. I recommend that those who were not here on Friday read Hansard. The debate raised some much wider questions to which I hope this Chamber will return, and which I hope that Members of both Houses and the authorities of the Abbey and the Supreme Court will address. Lord Desai: Is there not anxiety on the part of the demonstrators that if they do not have permanent structures they will not be able to come back the next day and demonstrate? They are worried that if they demonstrate only during the day and then go home, the next day the police will say, "You can't come here". They are probably trying, in a clumsy way, to establish a right. I quite agree that these structures are ugly but that right is a crucial one to protect, and we should not worry too much about the structures. Lord Wallace of Saltaire: My Lords, there is no evidence for what the noble Lord has just suggested. We are talking about proportionality in a whole range of different ways here. Parliament Square, Old Palace Yard and the area around them, as some noble Lords were saying on Friday, ought to be a great democratic space to be enjoyed by a large number of people, not just those who come to visit Parliament or those who wish to make their views well known-loudly known-but also tourists and those substantial numbers of people who pass through Parliament Square every day on their way to and from work. It is a transient population that is obstructed by those who wish to be here permanently. Some of those structures are semi-permanent. I think that the noble Lord will agree that if the Aldwych-to take where he and I used to work as an example-had a similarly permanent encampment, there would be real problems of obstruction of the footway and so on. The question that we are dealing with is: how best to arrange Parliament Square for the enjoyment, and the presence, of the maximum number of people under shared rules for all who come. This is a very large area. The intention of this part of the Bill is to give much greater clarity to protestors, public and the police as to what is and is not acceptable in Parliament Square. As I said on Friday, overnight protests and vigils are clearly one sort of acceptable behaviour. Being there for a year at a time-or, in the case of Brian Haw, several years-is a different sort of presence. It begins to obstruct the rights of others. I am sure that the noble Lord is familiar with John Stuart Mill and On Liberty, and the question of how one's liberty has not to obstruct the rights of others. The maximum number of people in the democracy encampment was, I think, nearly 150. Brian Haw's group has always been a mere handful. So we are trading off different rights. That is the purpose of this place. I therefore say to the noble Lord, Lord Campbell-Savours, that scrutiny of this is taking place in a wider context, not simply today. We discussed this on Friday and there is, indeed, another Private Member's Bill. This will continue to be a large set of issues. The noble Baroness, Lady Miller, asked whether the policeman was a mind-reader. No, certainly not. Before anyone can commit an offence under these
16 Jun 2011 : Column 975 provisions, they must first be issued with a direction to stop: a warning. It is acceptable to issue a warning to someone you see carrying their sleeping bag and various other things that they should not put it down and spend several nights on it. That is what is intended in this clause. The noble Baroness talks about fears of domestic extremists. I do not particularly want to go down that road beyond saying that I recall that when I once turned up to speak to the Campaign for the Accountability of US Bases in Britain at RAF Menwith Hill, it was remarkable how quickly the MoD policeman appeared to recognise who I was-my name and everything else. Perhaps I am on the list, too. We do not need to go too far into that for the moment. These amendments rightly test the replacement for SOCPA. The Government's view is that getting rid of SOCPA and replacing it with measures that existed before-as far as demonstrators are concerned, the previously operating Public Order Acts-is the right response. There is a trade-off between different users, as I have already said. However, there is a clear consensus on all sides of this Chamber after five years of debate that Parliament Square should be fully developed as a democratic space and that we should be discussing with the Palace authorities, the Abbey, the Supreme Court and others how to use it better. That discussion is rather wider than the Bill goes and needs to be continued elsewhere. The question of Abingdon Green was raised briefly. There are particular problems because Abingdon Green is private, not public, property. Noble Lords will be aware of the many subtleties of who is directly responsible for which bit of the various facilities around here. There are risks of hybridity if we apply this Bill to Abingdon Green. However, we understand the practical challenges in terms of applying these various remedies. The Government will therefore additionally discuss with the House authorities the benefits of moving an amendment on Report to make provision for a power of seizure to be attached to Royal Parks regulations, which apply to Abingdon Green, to support the position that we have taken for effective enforcement of GLA and Westminster City Council by-laws. Lord Campbell-Savours: Suppose that there is a big demonstration in London with a couple of thousand people on Whitehall all marching down towards Parliament Square carrying sleeping bags. Suppose that it looks to a police officer that they may well want to spend the night somewhere in the vicinity of Parliament. It does not mean that they are going to do it every day, or every week or whatever; they are not going to put up tents or anything. What would happen in those circumstances? Would the police simply ignore it? Or would they somehow find some excuse under the proposed legislation to say, "We are warning you, you cannot do it". Then, if they breach that, an argument breaks out on the streets between the police and the demonstrators. 6 pm Lord Wallace of Saltaire: My Lords, the noble Lord is enjoying asking a hypothetical question. As we know, the police operate through discretion and by
16 Jun 2011 : Column 976 consent. I remind him that the most hostile response I have had from the House when answering a question was when we discussed sessional orders and a number of his colleagues on the Benches opposite demanded that the police should clear space for their cars to enable them to drive through large demonstrations on their way to the House. I had to point out that the police operate by consent and occasionally do not wish to clear away thousands of demonstrators in order to ensure that noble Lords can drive in here. These are matters of judgment. We have to allow the police to operate by consent and to have confidence in them in that regard. We are working with Westminster City Council and the Greater London Authority to ensure that the relevant by-laws are strengthened to deal with disruptive activity in the wider area as well as in the central traffic island-as I call it-of Parliament Square itself. Our approach is aimed at targeting specific problems in a small area of Parliament Square and empowering the local authority to take action by giving it the ability to enforce relevant by-laws more effectively. Having reassured the Committee on that, and having encouraged it to continue the wider debate which we started on Friday about the future of Parliament Square, Old Palace Yard and the environs of this world heritage site, I hope that I can persuade the noble Baroness to withdraw the amendment.
Baroness Hamwee: My Lords, I am grateful to my noble friend and to the noble Lord, Lord Desai, for their support. I keep coming back to my question about what is so special about Parliament Square, apart from the fact that we love it. Noble Lords may have noticed that although I oppose a great deal of the Bill, the encampment is a different matter. I am not entirely encouraged to hear that more by-laws may be applied, but there we go. I do not think that my noble friend answered my question about Clause 142(2). Can he answer the question about when it applies from-what I said was not technically retrospective-
Lord Wallace of Saltaire: My Lords, I apologise. That is very much a transitional arrangement to ensure that those who are already encamped there when the regulations are changed are not enabled to say that they do not apply to them. As I say, this is a transitional arrangement.
Baroness Hamwee: My Lords, I understand that but since they will be committing an offence it may well be relevant to how long that offence has been committed for. If a direction is given on a Wednesday and they move the following Wednesday, they have committed an offence for a week, but they may have committed an offence for a year and a week if this measure is not technically retrospective, as I say. In terms of sanction, I would have thought that might be very relevant.
Lord Wallace of Saltaire: My Lords, that is a very fair point. I promise that I will go back to the department and will write to the noble Baroness about that.
16 Jun 2011 : Column 977
Baroness Hamwee: My Lords, I am grateful for that. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment. Amendment 244ZZA withdrawn. Clause 142 agreed. Clause 143 : Controlled area of Parliament Square Amendments 244ZZAA and 244ZZAB not moved. Clause 143 agreed. Clause 144 : Prohibited activities in controlled area of Parliament Square Amendment 244ZZB Moved by Baroness Hamwee 244ZZB: Clause 144, page 97, line 16, leave out "constable" and insert "senior police officer"
Baroness Hamwee: My Lords, I beg to move Amendment 244ZZB. I suppose for Hansard I should also say that I am also speaking to Amendments 244ZA, 244ZAC, 244ZCE, 244ZCF, 244ZDZA, 244ZDZB, 244ZEA, 244ZEB, 244ZEC, 244ZED, 244ZEE, 244ZEF, 244ZF, 244ZG and will oppose the Question that Clause 149 stand part. The first half of the amendments in this group would replace "constable" with "senior police officer" in Clauses 144, 145 and 146. Under Section 12 of the Public Order Act a "senior police officer" means the most senior in rank at the scene. I had wondered whether a constable was referred to because of the seizure powers that would be likely to be carried out in many instances by a relatively junior officer. However, the definition in my Amendment 244ZAC answers the point. The Public Order Act got it right by stating that the officer should be the most senior in rank at the scene. It is appropriate to ask the Government to justify why they have extended that right, only in the case of Parliament Square, to warranted officers below the most senior in rank at the scene. What worries me more are the powers to be extended beyond warranted officers; those powers are the subject of the remainder of the amendments in the group. Powers are to be given by the Bill to authorised officers, who will include employees of the GLA and Westminster City Council. Assistant Commissioner Lynne Owens of the Metropolitan Police gave evidence to the Public Bill Committee in the Commons to the effect that a broad discretionary power, vaguely drafted, is very difficult for a police officer to exercise in the middle of a protest. However, police officers have training and experience that are probably not available to authorised officers-council employees. I know that the duties of some council employees have been extended to some public order matters. There are wardens in Trafalgar Square, but their experience and duties are rather different from those expected under the Bill. The Bill grants powers of direction and seizure to an authorised officer, although, as a result of an amendment during proceedings on the Bill before it 16 Jun 2011 : Column 978 reached us, only a constable may use "reasonable force". I welcome that, of course, although I cannot quite envisage an authorised person-a council employee-seeking to seize an item, its owner holding on to it, and the authorised person saying something such as, "Oops, please wait right there while I get a constable". It is not clear that this is workable. It is better not to let those who are not warranted officers-warranted officers would be clearly identifiable-getting into the situation at all. This was something on which the Joint Committee on Human Rights made a number of comments, referring to the fact that the Minister had explained that the Government thought it would be bureaucratic and time-consuming to limit the direction-making power to police officers. I am well aware of how much work the Committee has to get through tonight, but I nevertheless want to read the JCHR's recommendation into the record. At paragraph 1.22 of the report the committee said: "We are concerned that the main reason given by the Minister ... is cost and administration saving". The committee continues: "We welcome the Minister's reassurance that these powers would be accompanied by guidance dealing with the appropriate exercise of discretion, identification and, in particular, with the reasonable use of force. However, no provision for these important safeguards is made on the face of the Bill. We regret the Government's reluctance to accept the need for further definition or statutory guidance. In the absence of statutory safeguards, we do not consider that the Government has provided adequate justification for the extension of this broad discretion to use such powers to local authority employees or contractors". It also states at paragraph 123: "We consider that the power to seize property is a power of the type which should generally be reserved to police personnel. Without further justification for seizure powers to extend to the local authority, we consider that this power should be limited to police personnel". I have cut down the amount that I was intending to read into the record. I beg to move.
Baroness Miller of Chilthorne Domer: Briefly, I agree heartily with my noble friend. It is not just a question of the seniority of the police officer, or whether they are warranted. My noble friend made some important points. Every inquiry into difficulties with protests recently has found that training is the issue. I hope that the Minister will be able to tell the House what provisions are in place under this Government for better training. The other place concluded after G20 that never again must untrained officers be placed in the front line of public protest. Nowhere is more front-line than Parliament Square. Inadequate training in the law, including human rights and public order powers, and a lack of clarity about the role and function of the forward intelligence teams, who are very much on the ground in the case of bigger public demonstrations, have been issues. I realise that since some of those comments were made, we have had the appointment of Sir Hugh Orde, who has brought some valuable experience in human rights training from Northern Ireland, which was recognised for integrating human rights training into general training. In human rights training, it is so important to get the balance between freedom of expression and that spilling over into something else.
16 Jun 2011 : Column 979 The previous Government rather sloped their shoulders with regard to the Home Office giving guidance on what training should be given and said that it was a matter for ACPO. Does the Home Office feel more strongly now that guidance on training, particularly in this regard, is a matter for the Home Office? Lord Rosser: My Lords, I, too, will be brief. I have one amendment in the group. It relates to Clause 149 and deals with a very similar issue to that raised by the noble Baroness, Lady Hamwee: the definition given of "authorised officer". The clause states that it can be, "an employee of the responsible authority", or, "any other person who, under arrangements made with the responsible authority ... is so authorised for the purposes of this Part". All I want to add is that there are concerns, which have been eloquently expressed, about the powers that may be operated by someone other than a warranted police officer. I appreciate that the purpose of the amendments tabled by the noble Baroness, Lady Hamwee, is to ensure that it is a senior police officer. It will be very helpful in probing how the Government see the role of people other than warranted police officers under this part of the Bill, if the Minister could say what those authorised officers, as defined under the Bill, will be expected to do. What will an authorised officer not to be able to do that a warranted police officer could do under the Bill? Will the role of the authorised officers include policing demonstrations? How will people know that they are authorised officers under the terms of the Bill, since presumably they are not going to be dressed like police officers? Will it be obvious to all concerned? The Minister will know from evidence given in relation to this Bill that a view has been expressed in police circles that even clearly identifiable police officers may at times have difficulty in having their decisions and instructions accepted by those who are taking part in demonstrations-certainly in the heat of the moment. Surely that becomes even more difficult, depending on what the Minister has to say about the role of authorised officers, in relation to somebody who is not a police officer. Who will determine the suitability of these authorised officers for the role envisaged for them in this Bill, whatever that role may be? I hope that the Minister will be able to clarify the situation and perhaps put minds at rest to some extent by what he has to say about the role and responsibilities he expects for these authorised officers who are not warranted police officers.
6.15 pm Lord Campbell-Savours: My Lords, I intervene with another rather silly and naive question. I ask these questions because previously sometimes the most ludicrous things have happened and we find an article in the Evening Standard about action taken during one of these demonstrations which none of us comprehends. I want to ask a very simple question. Clause 146(1) says, "if it appears to that constable or officer that the item is being, or has been, used in connection with the commission of an offence under section 144".
16 Jun 2011 : Column 980 What about a deckchair? If a demonstrator turned up with a deckchair, who will decide whether the chair is for sitting upon or for sleeping upon? It is in those silly little areas that stupid decisions are taken that can lead to trouble in crowds, and subsequently to violence. It can be the small things that trigger a demonstration. This is why this whole area of the Bill should have been dealt with in far greater detail than it has been, and I simply ask what might appear a naive question but may well turn into an issue at some stage.
Baroness Miller of Chilthorne Domer: I have one illustration to add to the point that the noble Lord, Lord Campbell-Savours, made so well. Who is to say that that person with the deckchair is even on the demonstration? One of the issues under the-happily to be repealed-SOCA provisions was that a person turning up in a T-shirt with a slogan saying "down with the war" might be taken to be on a demonstration but might be taken to be walking down the road in a T-shirt. The same thing would apply to things like deckchairs and blankets. Is a poncho something for sleeping in? It is a sort of blanket but your head can go through it. There are all sorts of issues that the noble Lord, Lord Campbell-Savours, is correct to raise that are going to be an immense matter for judgment. Baroness Browning: My Lords, I will pick up on that last point about seizure before I begin to address the amendments. Police officers have different seizure powers that are largely based on their need to prevent crime or to seize evidence for a crime. People have mentioned deckchairs and other such items. Depending on the circumstances, it would be up to the police officer concerned to exercise their judgment about whether the item they were seizing was involved in either preventing crime or was evidence that might be used in a later prosecution. Amendment 244ZZB is premised on ensuring that only the most senior officer present at a scene can issue a direction to cease doing a prohibited activity. The Government fully appreciate the likely challenge to these provisions. We understand that the intention behind the amendment is to ensure that directions are properly issued by escalating authority to the senior officer present at the scene. On a point of principle, the Government are confident that police constables, regardless of rank, can issue appropriate directions. The Government support the return of discretion to police professionals. On a point of operational practicality, the package of reforms is designed to support early and proportionate interventions by the police to prevent an escalation of prohibited activities. However, the amendment would hinder that. Amendments conferring powers only on the senior officer present at the scene would have an adverse impact on practical enforcement on the ground, and on that basis I urge the noble Baroness to withdraw the amendment. The same arguments extend to Amendment 244ZA and other amendments in a similar vein. These amendments would remove powers from authorised officers of the Greater London Authority and Westminster City Council, about which I shall say more in a moment. The effectiveness of the new legal framework in Part 3
16 Jun 2011 : Column 981 depends on a strong collaborative partnership approach between the Metropolitan Police, the Greater London Authority and Westminster City Council, with which the Home Office continues to work closely. It is necessary for all three agencies to be able to exercise some powers to avoid the type of situation in which, for example, a heritage warden employed by the Greater London Authority found himself unable to act or to deal with an individual until a police officer arrived to assist. Removing all powers from authorised officers would make the provisions in Part 3 unworkable. Clearly, members of the public must be able to identify authorised officers, understand what powers they have and their authority to use them, and what avenues of complaint are open to them. Greater London Authority heritage wardens carry identification and wear a uniform, as do authorised officers from Westminster City Council. We understand from both the GLA and Westminster City Council that to date there have been no issues with authorised officers' identification for the purposes of implementing by-laws. In addition, we are working with the relevant authorities to develop enforcement protocols and guidance on all these issues. I say to my noble friend Lady Miller of Chilthorne Domer that the Home Office has undertaken to provide the guidance and operation for this part of the Bill. The Government recognise the concerns generated by the powers that are available to authorised officers. That is why, as noble Lords may know, we have listened to concerns raised in the other place and have decided to remove the power to use reasonable force from authorised officers. However, the amendments would take away the powers of authorised officers to deal with even the most routine cases. I urge noble Lords not to press their amendments, which would make the provision in Part 3 unworkable. I hope they will feel that I have given them sufficient information to be more confident about how we intend to proceed with this part of the Bill.
Baroness Hamwee: My Lords, as has been said, seizure of items, as well as directions, will be very much a matter for judgment. My noble friend referred to training-an issue which was highlighted following past experience. We often talk about lessons learnt but do we ever actually learn the lessons or just talk about learning them? Exactly the same applies to the example given by the noble Lord, Lord Campbell-Savours-it will be a matter for judgment. Overenthusiastic authorised officers may well escalate a problem rather than calm it down. The Minister refers to practical problems regarding the senior officer on the scene. I think that the issuing of directions will be less of an issue than one-to-one encounters. Therefore, again, I am not wholly persuaded. The GLA and Westminster say that there have been no problems with identification as regards their own officers in the past, but I wonder how much that has ever really been tested. I hear what the Minister says, so at this point I beg leave to withdraw the amendment. Amendment 244ZZB withdrawn. Amendment 244ZA not moved.
16 Jun 2011 : Column 982 Amendment 244ZAA Moved by Baroness Miller of Chilthorne Domer 244ZAA: Clause 144, page 97, line 17, leave out ", or is about to do,"
Baroness Miller of Chilthorne Domer: My Lords, the Committee will have noticed that I confused my ZZAAs before, which is why I moved that amendment earlier, for which I apologise. It is confusing when they are grouped like this. With the amendments in the name of my noble friend we move to whether the maximum fines for a summary conviction for an offence are proportionate under Clause 144 for failure to comply with the direction. We feel that it would be more proportionate to move from level 5 to level 3, which the JCHR comments on. It says that the Minister may wish to impose an effective deterrent, and that, "any punishment should be proportionate to the relevant offence. We do not consider that the Minister has explained why these offences differ significantly in impact or scale from other public order offences to justify a significantly greater degree of sanction. Without further justification the Bill should be amended to reduce the sanction from level 5 to level 3, in line with other similar public order offences". I should be grateful if the Minister could explain why this is considered worthy of such a significantly greater fine. Amendments 244ZCG and 244ZCH would reduce from 90 days to 14 days the period in which an activity is prohibited. Surely 90 days is really very extreme. Do we imagine that people will hang around for 14 days and try to repeat their activity? That is possible; it might be taken as part of the freedom to try your demonstration again. But similarly, the Joint Committee on Human Rights asks the Government for an explanation as to, "why they consider that it is appropriate for the Court to have such broad Order-making powers in connection with the proposed offences. In particular, the Minister should explain why lengthy Orders banning an individual from the vicinity of the controlled area around Parliament might be appropriate". Under the provisions of SOCPA part of the enormous offence caused by the clauses in that Bill was to do with banning individuals from an area. The Government need to proceed with extreme caution in this case. If individuals feel very strongly about something that is about to happen-I could quote, for example, the country going to war-of course, individuals will want to protest again and again. Is it really reasonable to prevent them doing so for three months just because they lay down to sleep although they were directed not to do so and contravened the Act? In any case, if they feel that strongly, why should they not do it again? I am not condoning people undertaking criminal activity but in this case, there is a very fine line between taking all individuals who protested and contravened something and banning them from appearing anywhere outside Parliament for 90 days. I do not feel that that is proportionate and I beg to move.
6.30 pm Lord Rosser: My Lords, I hope that I have the right group of amendments and will not start talking to something that I am not meant to be talking to. I will
16 Jun 2011 : Column 983 not add to the points made by the noble Baroness, Lady Miller of Chilthorne Domer. Like her, I await the response with interest. I will raise the issue of guidance, which is covered by an amendment in this group in the name of my noble friend Lord Dubs, who unfortunately is not in his place. I will not go through everything in the amendment, but will simply ask the Minister for clarification. There have been one or two references to other documentation or some form of guidance being issued. Can this be clarified now across the Dispatch Box? What part of the clauses relating to Parliament Square that we are discussing will be the subject of further guidance, perhaps to identify the meaning or interpretation that is to be put on some of the words that are used, in addition to the specific guidance referred to in the amendment? I ask this in the context of wanting to be clear on what areas the Government are going to issue guidance about as far as concerns the clauses in relation to Parliament Square.
Lord Wallace of Saltaire: My Lords, I will say two things before I answer the particular points. First, we will come back to Parliament Square on Report. The noble Lord, Lord Blencathra, was unable to be here today and asked to withdraw his amendments and bring them back on Report. I very much hope that we will take further the whole issue of what we should do about the environs of Parliament. I say to the noble Lord, Lord Campbell-Savours, that I have been thinking about when I first became conscious of how special this area is. It was when I was standing on top of the Henry VII chapel at the 1951 State Opening of Parliament. I was fascinated by the speed with which the Westminster City Council rubbish collectors picked up the horse manure as the Horse Guards rode past. My views on what is important have changed a little since then. The following year I sang in Westminster Hall at the lying in state of King George VI, and I have been involved in this area ever since. On Saturday night I will take part in a singing tour of the abbey, so I am probably among those who care most about the integrity of the area. Secondly, in answer to my noble friend Lady Hamwee, I have the answer from the Box on Clause 142(2). If the provisions come into force on 1 May, for example, directions can be issued from 1 May onwards in relation to activity being engaged in from then, but they cannot include any activity that took place before then: there is no question of retrospectivity. Clause 142(2) ensures that ongoing encampments can be subject to directions once the provisions are commenced. I hope that that answers the point. I turn to the points made by my noble friend Lady Miller. The Government note that the issues raised are similar to those raised by the Joint Committee on Human Rights. The issue is the appropriate maximum level of fine and whether it is commensurate with the potential damage and harms caused by the prohibited activities. Under the provisions, an individual commits an offence only when they fail to comply with a prior direction that provides an opportunity for them to desist from an activity before committing an offence. While the level of fine is higher than for some other comparable offences, this is balanced by the opportunity to desist from an activity before any criminal liability
16 Jun 2011 : Column 984 is attached. Level 5 is the absolute maximum penalty for this offence, and the courts have discretion in setting the level of fine in any case. The Government therefore consider that this maximum level of fine could be a proportionate response to an evidenced problem of serious and wilful disregard of local by-laws. My noble friend also raised the question of how one measures the strength of protest. Again, we have to balance the strength of protest that a very small number of people wish to assist in against access for a very large number of protestors. I suspect that my noble friend was, as I was, on the demonstration against the Iraq war. We spent a very long time marching-actually, shuffling because there were so many people there-along the Embankment, through Parliament Square and down Whitehall. I never got to Hyde Park. There were 2 million of us. If there had been a small number of people encamped in our path, we would not have been able to get even as far as we did. One has to think about the right to protest in a balanced way. Strength of protest there was expressed by the number of people, not by the fact that any of us wanted to stay overnight and camp for the next six weeks in Hyde Park or anywhere else. On the other amendment, the Government think that a maximum of 90 days strikes the right balance. Without any limit it would, for the person directed not to start a prohibited activity, be unclear and uncertain at what point a direction ceased to apply. With the limit of 14 days, we could, with some persistent resident protestors, so to speak, create a burden requiring unduly frequent renewal. Ninety days has been applied in a number of other areas for these sorts of orders. Subsections (1) and (2) of this clause provide that the direction to stop a prohibited activity may include a direction that the person does not start doing that activity again and that the direction continues in force for a period of time specified by the constable or authorised officer giving the direction. Then we come to the use of "varied" in Clause 145(6)(c). We thought it fair to give officers the ability to amend a direction given to enable them to deal with changing operational circumstances. This would mean the officer would be able to change the duration of the direction or to reinforce the direction taking account of changing circumstances. This amendment would curtail the rights of officers and reduce their ability to respond proportionately to changing circumstances, and we are all familiar with how difficult it can be to do so in large demonstrations. I am not sure whether the noble Lord, Lord Rosser, formally moved the amendment tabled in the name of the noble Lord, Lord Dubs, but our sense on the amendment is that he was providing detailed guidance of the sort that should not be in the Bill but which should be provided. I think I will need to write to the noble Lord about exactly which parts of these clauses will be subject to further guidance, but I promise that I will write. Lord Anderson of Swansea: When the Government look at issuing detailed guidance, I hope they will not neglect the concern of my noble friend Lord Dubs about the use of amplifying equipment. I recall that
16 Jun 2011 : Column 985 during the encampment in Parliament Square I was unable to use my parliamentary office in 1 Parliament Street over an extended period. I hope that that will be taken fully into account when detailed guidance is given by the Government. I have very many scars from that time. Lord Wallace of Saltaire: My Lords, we will be coming on to that. I know that there are different, but very strongly held, opinions on amplifying equipment. Westminster City Council replied that by all their measures traffic noise was more important than the amplifying equipment. I think my colleague will be coming on to that on the next amendment. Lord Anderson of Swansea: Members of Parliament were unable to do the job for which they were elected as a result of the activities of certain of the protestors. Lord Wallace of Saltaire: Having heard this useful further discussion, I invite the noble Baroness to withdraw her amendment. Baroness Miller of Chilthorne Domer: My Lords, on behalf of my noble friend I thank the Minister for his reply on the retrospective aspect of this matter. I am sure that she will be as reassured as I am by that. I thank him for his explanation on why the penalty is as it is. I still wonder whether 90 days is rather heavy-handed. We will want to come back to whether police officers should be able to vary their guidance or their judgment of a situation on Report. Around the House, we are in agreement that peaceful protest is a good thing and violent protest is not. On 28 March, we had a good example. At the Fortnum & Mason peaceful protest, 138 people were charged. Of several dozen violent protesters only 11 were charged. Somewhere there the police did not get their judgment right. I am grateful that my noble friend the Minister has had such broad experience of protests-going on them and now from the Dispatch Box. I am sure that he will be able to weave a careful path through this very knotty issue. In the mean time, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment. Amendment 244ZAA withdrawn. Amendments 244ZAB and 244ZAC not moved. Amendment 244ZB Moved by Baroness Miller of Chilthorne Domer 244ZB: Clause 144, page 97, line 22, leave out paragraph (a) Baroness Miller of Chilthorne Domer: My Lords, this group of amendments moves us on to amplified noise, which was referred to a moment ago. The Bill prevents all use of noise amplification equipment without prior authorisation, which rather returns us to the situation under the SOCPA provisions where you had to have prior authorisation for a demonstration. Following representations from Members of the other place and from this House, it is understandable that the Government
16 Jun 2011 : Column 986 have felt that they have to react to the issue of noise equipment. On the day of the visit of the President of the United States there were a couple of demonstrations outside this building. I am sure that all of your Lordships could tell that it was not necessary to have amplified noise equipment in order to have a loud demonstration, even from 30 or 40 people. The matter of whether we need such restrictions to be so overwhelming is one issue. The Bill gives a large amount of discretion to the police as regards reasonableness, on matters such as whether a person is about to turn up the volume so that people around are likely to be able to hear it. That is very theoretical and it will make the life of the police more difficult if they have to make that sort of judgment. However, there is clearly a judgment to be made here. People have a right to go about their business in the square, whether they are tourists or Londoners, and they should not have to hear an incredible amount of noise-although the traffic is probably still the noisiest thing. Our amendments probe whether there should be an overall prohibition on amplification and whether the restriction should be so broad. I beg to move.
6.45 pm Lord Rosser: Perhaps I may raise one point. My memory may have failed, in which case I am sure it will be pointed out to me. In the proceedings in the other place, some surprise was expressed when the Minister said that a loud radio would be regarded as amplified noise equipment. Is the Minister able to say any more about the definition of amplified noise equipment? I appreciate that it is dealt with in Clause 144(4), but if someone came along with a radio, some of which can be pretty loud, and played it, would that be regarded as being amplified noise equipment or not?
Baroness Browning: My Lords, in responding to Amendment 244ZB and its linked amendments, it is important to re-emphasise why the Government are bringing forward this package of reforms. Parliament Square is a World Heritage Site surrounded, as we know, by important historic buildings such as Westminster Abbey. Its location opposite the Houses of Parliament makes it a focus for protests, and rightly so. This means that we need to balance the competing and legitimate needs of members of the public who come to the area as protestors and of Members of Parliament and others who need to be able to carry out their daily work and enjoy the space as visitors. This extends to the use of amplified noise equipment as much as to encampments. However, the Government recognise that the use of loudhailers is linked to freedom of expression in a way that erecting a tent is not. The package of reforms accordingly puts lesser restrictions on the use of loudspeakers than on the erection of tents. It does this by putting in place a proportionate authorisation scheme which balances competing rights, so using a loudhailer is a prohibited activity only if it has not been authorised. The authorisation regime set out in Clause 148 applies to a much smaller area than the SOCPA provisions which the Government are repealing. This is in line 16 Jun 2011 : Column 987 with the Government's determination to take an approach based on evidenced problems of the misuse of loudhailers in Parliament Square. The amendments would mean that there would be no regulation whatever on the use of items such as loudhailers and loudspeakers. Not only would this be an abdication of responsibility to deal with the noise nuisance that has plagued Parliament Square for many years, it would also risk causing difficulties where a number of competing protests are taking place. I will not go into great detail on this. I give way to the noble Lord. Lord Campbell-Savours: Can I check on a technical point with the noble Baroness? Clause 148(5) states: "The notice must specify... the kind of amplified noise equipment to which the authorisation applies". Does that mean that there will be a control on equipment in terms of the channel output of the equipment being used? It is quite a technical question, but I would have thought that some kind of estimate must be made of the channel output of the equipment. I cannot see any other way of determining what kind of equipment could be authorised. Baroness Browning: I do not know if I am going to answer the noble Lord in as much detail as he would like. There are already noise regulations which, for example, would deal with other types of equipment such as radios. The noble Lord is indicating from a sedentary position that that is different. Perhaps I may write to him on the point. We understand that the use of a loudhailer is intrinsic to the right to protest and being able to communicate one's message, but we consider that some restrictions along the lines proposed in these clauses and elsewhere in Part 3 are required in order to ensure that the rights and freedoms of others are adequately protected and balanced with the rights of protestors. We have no wish to prevent protest around Parliament, and I would hope that the other provisions in Part 3, namely the repeal of SOCPA, show clearly our commitment to restoring rights to protest. As I have made clear during the debate, the provisions in Part 3 are about ensuring that individuals do not usurp the rights of many others. Therefore it does not seem disproportionate for responsible authorities to be able to place limits on the duration of the use of a loudhailer. The details of this authorisation scheme are clearly set out in the Bill to ensure that it is clear and accessible to all. I urge noble Lords not to press their amendments.
Lord Campbell-Savours: I have a further question. Sometimes when we come in by St Stephen's Entrance, 200 or 300 people might be meeting on the other side of the road where there is a space. Someone with a loudhailer will be standing there. What control on them will exist? Will they be free to use that loudhailer, or is that a regulated area? Baroness Browning: They would be free to use it, but subject to authorisation, which at the moment they do not have. I am coming to the question of 16 Jun 2011 : Column 988 applications to use the loudhailer, which might be helpful to the noble Lord. I shall just make this point. He and I have both experienced the use of a loudhailer there. If you stand within the precincts of the House of the Commons, you cannot hear what is being said. Protestors are not delivering a message; you just hear a very loud screeching noise. In that context, I also point out that it is not only Members of Parliament who have had their work disrupted by this. It is extremely difficult for the police officers who stand permanently on duty by Palace Gates, and who also have to endure this noise.
Lord Campbell-Savours: I did not refer to Palace Gates.
Baroness Browning: You can still hear it from there. I am not saying that that is where the loudhailer is; I am saying that you can hear it from there. You cannot hear what is being said; you just hear a shriek. As I have said, we are not trying to prevent protestors using a loudhailer but we want it to be proportionate in how it impacts on other people. I shall just go through the regulations on applications. Twenty-one days is the period currently used by the GLA and Westminster to consider applications for loudhailers under local by-law provisions and Section 137 of SOCPA. Six days would be too short a period and would not give local authorities sufficient time to consult others. We are talking about a very limited area in which authorisation to use amplified noise equipment is needed. The authorisation scheme is there to protect competing interests in the limited space. Therefore, I urge the noble Baroness not to press her amendment. I come to the court and the distinct issue of limiting its ability, on conviction, to make an order requiring the convicted person not to enter the controlled area of Parliament Square by imposing a time limit of no more than seven days. The Government's provisions leave the length of time entirely to the court to determine, in line with the circumstances of each case. This is wholly appropriate and would allow the courts to deal with determined individuals who might be resolute in simply coming back after seven days. I hope noble Lords will understand that we believe we have got the proportionality right here. I will write to the noble Lord on his more detailed technical question about different types of equipment. Baroness Miller of Chilthorne Domer: I thank my noble friend the Minister for her reply. She has certainly laid out the Government's thinking very clearly. It is still possible to see one or two difficulties. For example, if you wanted to use a loudhailer at the last minute because you had only just decided to march on a particular issue, you would not have 21 days in which to apply to do so. In that case, would you be in contravention of what is in the Bill? There may be some other details that we shall want to come back to on Report, but we now have a clear understanding of where the Government are coming from. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment. Amendment 244ZB withdrawn. Amendments 244ZBA to 244ZCC not moved. 16 Jun 2011 : Column 989 Amendment 244ZCCA
Moved by Lord Marlesford 244ZCCA: Clause 144, leave out Clause 144 and insert- "Parliament Square committee (1) Within six months of the passing of this Act, the Secretary of State shall by regulations establish a committee with responsibility for managing the controlled area of Parliament Square. (2) The committee's members shall be representatives of- (a) all of the bodies which own or have responsibility for the controlled area of Parliament Square, and (b) the Metropolitan police force. (3) The committee shall co-ordinate the work of its members in order to ensure that the controlled area of Parliament Square is kept clear of litter, detritus or other debris. (4) The Committee shall report annually to both Houses of Parliament."
Lord Marlesford: My Lords, I am putting to the Government a rather simpler method of dealing with the whole problem. It is a gentler method. It is something that I have given a lot of thought to over a very long time. Indeed, I have a Private Member's Bill, which was published on 1 February, which has received lot of support. I have now incorporated that into Amendment 244ZCCA and Amendment 244ZEZA. This starts from the premise that we are all agreed that Parliament Square is an excellent place for there to be public protest and where there has always been public protest. It is only in recent years that the problem has emerged at all. The catalyst for the problem, of course, has been the introduction of camping. Although Parliament Square is an ideal place for people to protest and should be made available for people, it is not a good thing that people are able to camp there for weeks, months or sometimes years and hog the space, which in effect prevents other people from having use of it. It also makes it a much less impressive, vibrant and immediate source of protest. Therefore, my solution is much simpler. All we really need to do is to ensure through practical housekeeping that people do not camp there. The problem of control of Parliament Square should be dealt with by having a Parliament Square committee, which would have the function of managing Parliament Square. All those who were interested could be on that committee. That is laid down in my first amendment. Then my suggestion is simple. At some point during each night during midnight and 6.00 am, Parliament Square should be swept clean and any detritus left is removed. People can come back in the morning, start all over again and do whatever they want. When my Private Member's Bill was published, I got a telephone call from Westminster City Council which expressed great interest in it. I explained what I just said and someone said, "We never thought of that". It is not only simpler and gentler but-this might be presumptuous-it is more elegant. Frankly, the Home Office has an awful lot of people who labour to produce these things and inevitably they produce more detail. One detail leads to another and one factor leads to another. I have removed a couple of clauses from their Bill, which I hope they will not take too much offence at, but I have included in the categories in my second amendment the sort of things that could be removed.
16 Jun 2011 : Column 990 I hope very much that the Government will realise that this would deal with the essence of the problem. It would be much less confrontational and difficult. If it did not work, of course in the future this could be looked at again and we could do more. But by removing that catalyst of the permanent encampment and occupation of the square, which is a pretty dead form of protest, we would be moving forward. It is a solution that I hope will commend itself to the Government and I hope that they do not produce a lot of technical reasons why it is not practical. I beg to move.
7 pm Lord Campbell-Savours: I am very sympathetic to the amendment because I feel quite strongly, and always have done, that people should be allowed to demonstrate in the square. This is a perfectly reasonable way of dealing with the difficulties that arise. Basically, you are simply clearing the square in the evening after the demonstrations have taken place during the day. It always gives me a thrill when I drive around Parliament Square to see those people encamped on the pavement. This must be one of the only democracies in the whole world where people can demonstrate on the very steps of Parliament. It must be most enlightening for people coming in from all over the world to see it actually happening here in the United Kingdom. It might give them cause to reflect on the way we run our democratic arrangements in this country. This amendment should be seriously considered by the Government. It would certainly save a lot of space in the printing presses where they produce legislation and it would deal with the problem in a way that is perfectly acceptable. I hope it can be considered on Report in perhaps greater detail-perhaps even in the Division Lobbies.
Baroness Miller of Chilthorne Domer: The noble Lord, Lord Campbell-Savours, is quite right. When parliamentarians from other countries come here it is one of the things that they comment on-and not adversely. They do not dwell as much on the slightly messier aspect that MPs and some noble Lords have complained about. They are more impressed with the fact that the demonstrations take place. There is much attraction in the noble Lord's amendment, not least for the Government. They have signed up to a bonfire of regulations and this gets rid of an awful lot of regulations all at once. I imagine that they will be nervous of adopting it because it seems perhaps too gentle but for my part I am very attracted to it. Lord Wallace of Saltaire: I note that these two amendments are identical, and almost identical to the Private Member's Bill of the noble Lord, Lord Marlesford. Does this replace his Private Member's Bill or will we return to this on 1 July, which I think is now scheduled for the Second Reading of his Bill, for a third debate on the issue that began with the Second Reading of the Private Member's Bill of my noble friend Lord Tyler last Friday? As I have already said, I welcome the discussion of not just the future of Parliament Square but also the whole question of the democratic environs of the
16 Jun 2011 : Column 991 Palace of Westminster. If I might go slightly off ministerial piste, so to speak, I think that we all recognise that the most intrusive element in Parliament Square is traffic. Some of us were actively supportive of the World Squares for All initiative which intended to close off either one or two sides of the square. That would give us back a major democratic space. Part of the reason that the encampment has been able to lodge on those pavements for some time without interference is because it is difficult for the ordinary person to get across the traffic on to Parliament Square Garden under most conditions except in the middle of the night. If we are going to discuss the whole issue of Parliament Square and demonstrations in the vicinity of Westminster, Abingdon Green and so on, I suggest that we need to pull together a committee which will include not just the authorities here but also the Supreme Court, the authorities of Westminster Abbey and elsewhere. I am sympathetic to a good deal of what is behind the amendment but suggest that if we are to discuss this area it is not just a question of the management of demonstrations or the encampment in the middle of Parliament Square. The Government are working with the Greater London Authority, Westminster City Council and the Metropolitan Police on effective enforcement protocols. Guidance will be issued to the public about these new provisions. However, that is about the narrow issue of the future of encampments in Parliament Square. The wider issues that I suspect the noble Lord wishes to get to require debate outside the confines of the Bill. I therefore request him to withdraw his amendment. Lord Marlesford: That was a pretty negative response, if I may say so. Although I shall withdraw my amendment, pending Report, I am very glad that I have a slot for my Private Member's Bill on 1 July, when we will have the opportunity to discuss the matter in more detail. It was mentioned several times by people in the discussion of the Bill proposed by my noble friend Lord Tyler. Indeed, my noble friend himself said that it would be a very useful follow-on for his Bill. Others welcomed it, too. Frankly, the point made by my noble friend Lord Wallace about the traffic is pretty irrelevant; it is not in any way involved in what I am suggesting, nor is it involved in what the Government suggest in their Bill. So that is a bit of a distraction. There seems to be an idea that this matter should be just pushed into the long grass. I know that the Home Office is very reluctant to accept views from outside, but there are occasions when it has to. I remind the House that in 1997 I proposed an amendment to have a national register of firearms on a computerised system. For 10 years, the department played "Yes Minister" in order not to get it. Fortunately, every Minister during that time on both sides did their best to get it done and, eventually, it was put into practice. It is now working extremely well. When the noble Lord, Lord Corbett, who was then chairman of the Home Affairs Committee in another place, called the Permanent Secretary to the Home Office to ask why this proposal, which had been enacted, had not been carried forward, he was told, "It was never our idea-it was Lord Marlesford's idea. We have our own views". The noble Lord said, "But it's law". Anyway, the Home Office did it eventually. 16 Jun 2011 : Column 992 I am sorry that my noble friend Lord Wallace does not feel inclined to take a slightly more positive view than he has done. I am glad that we will have a debate on 1 July, and I hope that noble Lords will come and take part in it-and I look forward to bringing back the amendment at Report. Meanwhile, I beg leave to withdraw it. Amendment 244ZCCA withdrawn. Clause 144 agreed. Amendment 244ZCD not moved. Clause 145 : Directions under section 144: further provision Amendments 244ZCE to 244ZEZA not moved. Clause 145 agreed. Clause 146 : Power to seize property Amendments 244ZEA to 244ZEF not moved. Clause 146 agreed. Clause 147 agreed. Clause 148 : Authorisation for operation of amplified noise equipment Amendments 244ZEG and 244ZEH not moved. Clause 148 agreed. Clause 149 : Meaning of "authorised officer" and "responsible authority" Amendments 244ZF and 244ZG not moved. Clause 149 agreed. Clause 150 agreed. Amendment 244A had been withdrawn from the Marshalled List. Amendment 244AA not moved. Clause 151 agreed. some suspect-mapping software called Geotime, which can take account of the activity done by domestic extremists in their everyday lives. For example, it can follow social networking when they use their sites, as well their mobile use, cash withdrawals and sat-nav use. The police can build up thus an entire picture of somebody who is not a criminal or somebody who has been convicted of anything but someone who is classed as a domestic extremist, for which, as I say, there is no legal definition. It is quite worrying. Those people, the domestic extremists, have not necessarily done anything criminal-nothing except to be known protesters and activists. In other words, they are people who might do something. That is what worries me about the wording, "or is about to do". 5.45 pm What particularly concerns me is that if that class of person appears in Parliament Square, they will be given a direction not even to put their blanket down and not to do any of the things that could be classed as a prohibited activity and will be subject to a certain degree of judgment by the police. Why is this particularly important? It is important for all the reasons that my noble friend gave in introducing this group of amendments: Parliament Square is an iconic place in which to protest and to demonstrate. More than that, it is an extremely iconic place internationally. At a time when the rest of the world is seeing protests put down in incredibly violent ways, it is incumbent on us to make sure that, being a flagship of democracy, we can demonstrate freely-and that we, as the legislature, demonstrate that we take incredibly seriously the rights and freedoms of our citizens. I do not want to see in the Bill little weasel words such as, "or is about to do". We need this legislation to be as clear as possible and for the freedom to demonstrate to be as enabled as possible. Lord Desai: My Lords, I spoke on this section of the Bill at Second Reading and I very much support the amendment of the noble Baroness, Lady Hamwee. If we have subsection (1) of Clause 142 in place, which re-establishes the Public Order Act 1986 as the ruling legislation, the rest of that clause/section is completely unnecessary. We can omit all that. If we have the 1986 Act, all subsequent legislation is not required, including Clause 143 and the rest of the provisions in this section. Lord Rosser: My Lords, I have an amendment in this group but we agree with the repeal of the provisions in the Serious Organised Crime and Police Act 2005 relating to demonstrations in the vicinity of Parliament. We also agree with the need for further proposals and for the use of the 1986 Public Order Act. The 2005 Act created a new offence of demonstrating without authorisation in what is described as a designated area, which was defined by order. That designated 16 Jun 2011 : Column 973 area had to be within 1 kilometre of Parliament Square. The use of loudspeakers in the designated area was also banned. However, that Act had unacceptable and unintended consequences on the right of some to protest and it soon raised concerns that the Act had not, in reality, struck the correct balance between the right to protest and the rights of people to go about their everyday business and for them to enjoy Parliament Square. A proposal to repeal the provisions of the 2005 Act was included in the Constitutional Reform and Governance Bill. That proposal fell in the wash-up at the 2010 general election. In looking at the Government's proposals we have some questions to raise, simply to test whether they are likely to achieve their objectives. It would certainly be helpful if the Minister could define the problem that the Government feel that their proposals will address, and to define the harm that the Government are trying to deal with. The Government's proposals are, in many ways, similar to the provisions of the Serious Organised Crime and Police Act but they apply to a much smaller area, namely Parliament Square. How did the Government decide that Parliament Square should be the limit of