WE ARE A MAGAZINE ABOUT LAW AND JUSTICE | AND THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE TWO
February 21 2024
WE ARE A MAGAZINE ABOUT LAW AND JUSTICE | AND THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE TWO
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Government attempts to “sneak” protest policy “through the back door”

Government attempts to “sneak” protest policy “through the back door”

A previously struck-down government policy concerning slow-walk protests has been reintroduced in a suspected attempt to bypass parliament decisions. Many in the House of Lords “are now angry” the policy was brought back after they rejected it.

The policy hopes to outline a clearer definition of what “serious disruption to the life of communities” entails to increase police authority in stopping slow-walking protest marches that obstruct traffic and disrupt cities. Under this policy, the combined effect of recurring protests and the resulting potential disruptions to any citizens are covered in the definition. This revised definition would establish a more comprehensive legal basis for police to impose restrictions.

In February, the same policy had been rejected by the Lords when the government attempted to integrate it into the Public Order Bill, yet it has been reintroduced as a regulation. By convention, such regulations are never rejected by the Lords, and as such many are now frustrated over the government’s seeming attempt to force changes “in through the back door”. The House is now divided over how to defeat the changes again, with some in favor of mirroring the unorthodox circumstances and striking down the regulations altogether, while others prefer to resist through voting against it.

The Green Party’s Barones Jones has initiated a “fatal motion” to block the policy, something that peers would never do by convention. Lord Jackson directly opposed this motion, arguing that it risks “legislative overreach” and offends the decision of the Commons – the role of the Lords is only to revise legislation, not to strike it down.

To defeat the government in the Lords, support from Labour is required. However, Labour shadow Home Office minister Lord Coaker also has concerns on over-exercising the Lords’ legislative power and is reluctant to break normality:

“We’re going to vote against it in the Commons on Monday to lay out our position, but we’re not going to fall into the elephant trap of the government using this to show us standing in the way of the democratic will of the elected government, or the elephant trap of them saying we’re somehow in the pockets of Just Stop Oil.”

The final approval will be passed to the Lords today, and as there is no government majority, it is possible that the slow-walk regulations may be defeated for a second time.