Bulwell MP won't vote for Bill that ‘curtails the right to protest’

Bulwell MP Alex Norris has been outlining why he voted against the Government’s controversial Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill this week

Friday, 19th March 2021, 4:37 pm

Mr Norris, like the rest of his Labour colleagues, voted against the Bill following a debate in the Commons, saying he thought elements of it were ‘poorly thought out’ and would ‘curtail people’s right to protest’.

However, the Bill still passed the second reading stage, moving closer to becoming law, after Conservative MPs, including Hucknall’s Mark Spencer, voted in favour of it.

Members also voted against an amendment tabled by Labour, which would have prevented the Bill from moving forward in its entirety.

Bulwell MP Alex Norris voted against the Bill
Bulwell MP Alex Norris voted against the Bill

Mr Norris said: “While the Bill contains measures I support, I am deeply troubled about the Government’s decision to blow this opportunity for meaningful sentencing reform by rushing through poorly thought out and knee-jerk responses which crack down on freedom of expression and the right to protest."

The Bill has wide-reaching implications for policing and sentencing for a number of different offences.

These include increased sentences for certain types of violent offenders and those who assault emergency services workers and these elements of the Bill have broad support across all parties.

The Bill would also allow the police to take action much sooner against incidents like illegal traveller camps, something many people are also likely to support.

But other aspects of the Bill have concerned many MPs in Opposition parties, particularly increased powers for the police to clamp down on people’s right to protest.

This has been placed firmly in the spotlight after police and demonstrators clashed in London during the vigil for Sarah Everard.

It was following those scenes that Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer publicly stated that they would not back the Bill in its current form.

Mr Norris continued: “I cannot support the inclusion of clauses in the Bill which give significant powers to the police to curtail protests, including limiting noise levels and setting start and finish times.

"These clauses could also be used to restrict trade union strikes and picketing and constitute a fundamental threat to protest, a core aspect of our democracy.”