HC Deb 30 April 1986 vol 96 cc1034-7

Question again proposed, That the amendment be made.

10.22 pm
Mr. Giles Shaw

In responding to the debate initiated by the hon. Member for Tyne Bridge, I was making the point that, in the Metropolitan police district, static assemblies and meetings contributed substantially to the severe public disorders between 1974 and 1980. I deduce from that that the House would be extremely foolish to accept the advice of the Opposition that clause 14 should be deleted from the Bill.

I remind the House that, in extending to assemblies the proposals contained in the 1936 Act, the Government did not act in a fit of pique or a sudden thirst for additional powers. We acted on the advice of the Select Committee on Home Affairs. We acted with care and had discussions. We acted in a way that was consistent with the Government's purposes without ensuring that an advance notice requirement in respect of assemblies should be undertaken, but that a power to ban should not.

The police already maintain a presence at most demonstrations or pickets. They do so to fulfil their paramount duty in maintaining the Queen's peace. Clause 14 will not require the deployment of more officers or the wasteful use of police resources which might he more profitably employed in fighting crime. It will give the police effective powers to prevent crime by preventing disorder.

The rights to assemble, to picket and to demonstrate are not absolute rights. They should never be an excuse for intimidation or disorder. Every citizen has a right to live his life in peace and the right to protection under the law.

I said in Committee and to the hon. Member for Tyne Bridge, who referred to it in his opening address, that I would advise police officers, in the circular on the Bills provisions, that they should bear in mind the traditional rights of protest and the traditional freedom of assembly which have been so widely observed for many years when they interpret their obligations under the provisions of clause 14. I should like to place that undertaking which I gave in Committee on the record.

In part answer to the hon. and learned Member for Montgomery, I must say that there will be, although not in the statute, a clear expression of the rights to protest which people have traditionally enjoyed conveyed to officers as part of the context in which they execute their duties.

Clause 14 confers no power to ban assemblies. That is a most important point for the House to recognise. The Clause contains powers to enable major mischiefs to he avoided—to avoid serious public disorder, serious damage to property, serious disruption to the life of the community and intimidation of individuals. Do the Opposition seriously believe that the civil liberties of pickets and the right to demonstrate include the right to cause such evils? Surely not. Do they believe that the police should have powers to prevent these evils? Surely they do. Or is the Opposition's new-found, late interest in the problems of crime and of law and order, which is of such concern to the people we serve, a vote-catching operation, carefully timed for individual elections?

The Government believe that the merits of the clause and the bankruptcy of the Opposition's argument are in complete contrast. The Government believe in a balance between the right to assemble and the right of the individual to go about his business in peace, and so do the British people. They will take note of the Opposition's claim that to question the rights of a picket to intimidate or cause disorder is authoritarianism, and they will support our attempts to provide additional protection for the individual citizen from the bully boys and the thugs on the picket lines or elsewhere. I commend the clause. It should remain in the Bill as a cardinal principle of public order.

Mr. Clelland

I remind the Minister that we have seen more lawlessness and disorder under this Government than under any other Government in living memory. The clause does not seek to improve law and order. It will not prevent one riot or many of the problems to which the Minister drew attention. It will restrict the individual liberty and freedoms of people who want to protest against the type of policies pursued by the Government. We shall vote against the clause.

Question put, That the amendment be made:—

The House divided: Ayes 170, Noes 225.

Division No. 165] [10.30 pm
Adams, Allen (Paisley N) Dubs, Alfred
Alton, David Duffy, A. E. P.
Anderson, Donald Dunwoody, Hon Mrs G.
Archer, Rt Hon Peter Eadie, Alex
Atkinson, N. (Tottenham) Eastham, Ken
Bagier, Gordon A. T. Evans, John (St. Helens N)
Barnett, Guy Ewing, Harry
Barron, Kevin Faulds, Andrew
Beckett, Mrs Margaret Field, Frank (Birkenhead)
Beith, A. J. Fields, T. (L'pool Broad Gn)
Bell, Stuart Fisher, Mark
Benn, Rt Hon Tony Flannery, Martin
Bennett, A. (Dent'n & Red'sh) Forrester, John
Bermingham, Gerald Foster, Derek
Bidwell, Sydney Foulkes, George
Blair, Anthony Freeson, Rt Hon Reginald
Boyes, Roland Freud, Clement
Bray, Dr Jeremy Garrett, W. E.
Brown, N. (N'c'tle-u-Tyne E) George, Bruce
Brown, Ron (E'burgh, Leith) Godman, Dr Norman
Buchan, Norman Golding, John
Caborn, Richard Gould, Bryan
Callaghan, Rt Hon J. Gourlay, Harry
Callaghan, Jim (Heyw'd & M) Hamilton, W. W. (Fife Central)
Campbell, Ian Hancock, Michael
Campbell-Savours, Dale Harman, Ms Harriet
Canavan, Dennis Harrison, Rt Hon Walter
Carlile, Alexander (Montg'y) Hart, Rt Hon Dame Judith
Carter-Jones, Lewis Hattersley, Rt Hon Roy
Clark, Dr David (S Shields) Haynes, Frank
Clay, Robert Heffer, Eric S.
Clelland, David Gordon Hogg, N. (C'nauld & Kilsyth)
Clwyd, Mrs Ann Holland, Stuart (Vauxhall)
Cocks, Rt Hon M. (Bristol S) Home Robertson, John
Coleman, Donald Howells, Geraint
Conlan, Bernard Hughes, Robert (Aberdeen N)
Cook, Frank (Stockton North) Hughes, Roy (Newport East)
Cook, Robin F. (Livingston) Janner, Hon Greville
Corbett, Robin John, Brynmor
Corbyn, Jeremy Kaufman, Rt Hon Gerald
Craigen, J. M. Kennedy, Charles
Crowther, Stan Kilroy-Silk, Robert
Cunliffe, Lawrence Kirkwood, Archy
Davis, Terry (B'ham, H'ge H'l) Lambie, David
Deakins, Eric Lamond, James
Dixon, Donald Leighton, Ronald
Dormand, Jack Lewis, Terence (Worsley)
Douglas, Dick Litherland, Robert
Livsey, Richard Richardson, Ms Jo
Lloyd, Tony (Stretford) Roberts, Ernest (Hackney N)
Lofthouse, Geoffrey Robertson, George
McCartney, Hugh Rogers, Allan
McDonald, Dr Oonagh Rooker, J. W.
McKelvey, William Ross, Ernest (Dundee W)
MacKenzie, Rt Hon Gregor Rowlands, Ted
Maclennan, Robert Sedgemore, Brian
McTaggart, Robert Sheldon, Rt Hon R.
McWilliam, John Shore, Rt Hon Peter
Madden, Max Short, Ms Clare (Ladywood)
Marek, Dr John Silkin, Rt Hon J.
Martin, Michael Skinner, Dennis
Mason, Rt Hon Roy Smith, C.(Isl'ton S & F'bury)
Maxton, John Smith, Rt Hon J. (M'ds E)
Maynard, Miss Joan Soley, Clive
Meacher, Michael Spearing, Nigel
Meadowcroft, Michael Steel, Rt Hon David
Michie, William Stott, Roger
Mikardo, Ian Straw, Jack
Millan, Rt Hon Bruce Thomas, Dafydd (Merioneth)
Mitchell, Austin (G't Grimsby) Thomas, Dr R. (Carmarthen)
Morris, Rt Hon A. (W'shawe) Thompson, J. (Wansbeck)
Morris, Rt Hon J. (Aberavon) Thorne, Stan (Preston)
Nellist, David Tinn, James
Oakes, Rt Hon Gordon Torney, Tom
O'Brien, William Wallace, James
O'Neill, Martin Wareing, Robert
Park, George White, James
Parry, Robert Wigley, Dafydd
Pavitt, Laurie Williams, Rt Hon A.
Pendry, Tom Wilson, Gordon
Penhaligon, David Winnick, David
Pike, Peter Woodall, Alec
Powell, Raymond (Ogmore) Young, David (Bolton SE)
Prescott, John
Randall, Stuart Tellers for the Ayes:
Raynsford, Nick Mr. James Hamilton and
Rees, Rt Hon M. (Leeds S) Mr. Allen McKay.
Aitken, Jonathan Dorrell, Stephen
Alexander, Richard Douglas-Hamilton, Lord J.
Alison, Rt Hon Michael Durant, Tony
Amess, David Evennett, David
Ancram, Michael Fenner, Mrs Peggy
Atkins, Robert (South Ribble) Forman, Nigel
Atkinson, David (B'm'th E) Forsyth, Michael (Stirling)
Baker, Rt Hon K. (Mole Vall'y) Forth, Eric
Baker, Nicholas (Dorset N) Franks, Cecil
Baldry, Tony Fraser, Peter (Angus East)
Banks, Robert (Harrogate) Fry, Peter
Bellingham, Henry Gardiner, George (Reigate)
Best, Keith Gardner, Sir Edward (Fylde)
Biggs-Davison, Sir John Garel-Jones, Tristan
Body, Sir Richard Glyn, Dr Alan
Boscawen, Hon Robert Goodlad, Alastair
Bottomley, Mrs Virginia Gow, Ian
Brandon-Bravo, Martin Greenway, Harry
Bright, Graham Gregory, Conal
Brooke, Hon Peter Griffiths, Sir Eldon
Brown, M. (Brigg & Cl'thpes) Griffiths, Peter (Portsm'th N)
Buchanan-Smith, Rt Hon A. Ground, Patrick
Buck, Sir Antony Hamilton, Hon A. (Epsom)
Budgen, Nick Hamilton, Neil (Tatton)
Burt, Alistair Hanley, Jeremy
Butterfill, John Hannam, John
Carlisle, Kenneth (Lincoln) Hargreaves, Kenneth
Carlisle, Rt Hon M. (W'ton S) Harris, David
Carttiss, Michael Harvey, Robert
Cash, William Haselhurst, Alan
Chapman, Sydney Hawksley, Warren
Clark, Sir W. (Croydon S) Hayes, J.
Clarke, Rt Hon K. (Rushcliffe) Hayward, Robert
Coombs, Simon Heathcoat-Amory, David
Cope, John Henderson, Barry
Couchman, James Hickmet, Richard
Critchley, Julian Hicks, Robert
Crouch, David Higgins, Rt Hon Terence L.
Dicks, Terry Hind, Kenneth
Hirst, Michael Major, John
Hogg, Hon Douglas (Gr'th'm) Malins, Humfrey
Holland, Sir Philip (Gedling) Malone, Gerald
Holt, Richard Maples, John
Howard, Michael Marland, Paul
Howarth, Alan (Stratf'd-on-A) Marlow, Antony
Howarth, Gerald (Cannock) Mates, Michael
Howell, Ralph (Norfolk, N) Mather, Carol
Hubbard-Miles, Peter Maude, Hon Francis
Hunt, John (Ravensbourne) Maxwell-Hyslop, Robin
Hunter, Andrew Mayhew, Sir Patrick
Hurd, Rt Hon Douglas Mellor, David
Jackson, Robert Merchant, Piers
Jenkin, Rt Hon Patrick Miller, Hal (B'grove)
Jones, Gwilym (Cardiff N) Mills, Iain (Meriden)
Jones, Robert (Herts W) Miscampbell, Norman
Kellett-Bowman, Mrs Elaine Mitchell, David (Hants NW)
Kershaw, Sir Anthony Monro, Sir Hector
Key, Robert Morris, M. (N'hampton S)
King, Roger (B'ham N'field) Mudd, David
Knight, Greg (Derby N) Neale, Gerrard
Knowles, Michael Needham, Richard
Knox, David Nelson, Anthony
Lamont, Norman Newton, Tony
Lang, Ian Nicholls, Patrick
Latham, Michael Onslow, Cranley
Lawler, Geoffrey Oppenheim, Phillip
Lawrence, Ivan Page, Richard (Herts SW)
Leigh, Edward (Gainsbor'gh) Patten, J. (Oxf W & Abgdn)
Lennox-Boyd, Hon Mark Pattie, Geoffrey
Lewis, Sir Kenneth (Stamf'd) Pawsey, James
Lightbown, David Peacock, Mrs Elizabeth
Lilley, Peter Pollock, Alexander
Lloyd, Ian (Havant) Powell, William (Corby)
Lord, Michael Powley, John
Luce, Rt Hon Richard Prentice, Rt Hon Reg
Lyell, Nicholas Price, Sir David
McCurley, Mrs Anna Proctor, K. Harvey
Macfarlane, Neil Raffan, Keith
MacKay, Andrew (Berkshire) Raison, Rt Hon Timothy
Maclean, David John Rathbone, Tim
McNair-Wilson, M. (N'bury) Rhys Williams, Sir Brandon
McNair-Wilson, P. (New F'st) Ridley, Rt Hon Nicholas
Rippon, Rt Hon Geoffrey Terlezki, Stefan
Roberts, Wyn (Conwy) Thompson, Donald (Calder V)
Robinson, Mark (N'port W) Thornton, Malcolm
Roe, Mrs Marion Thurnham, Peter
Rost, Peter Townend, John (Bridlington)
Rowe, Andrew Twinn, Dr Ian
Rumbold, Mrs Angela van Straubenzee, Sir W.
Ryder, Richard Vaughan, Sir Gerard
Sainsbury, Hon Timothy Viggers, Peter
Sayeed, Jonathan Waddington, David
Shaw, Giles (Pudsey) Wakeham, Rt Hon John
Shaw, Sir Michael (Scarb') Walden, George
Shelton, William (Streatham) Walker, Bill (T'side N)
Shepherd, Colin (Hereford) Waller, Gary
Silvester, Fred Ward, John
Sims, Roger Wardle, C. (Bexhill)
Skeet, Sir Trevor Watson, John
Soames, Hon Nicholas Watts, John
Speed, Keith Wells, Bowen (Hertford)
Spencer, Derek Wells, Sir John (Maidstone)
Spicer, Jim (Dorset W) Wheeler, John
Spicer, Michael (S Worcs) Whitney, Raymond
Squire, Robin Winterton, Mrs Ann
Stanbrook, Ivor Wolfson, Mark
Stanley, Rt Hon John Wood, Timothy
Stern, Michael Woodcock, Michael
Stevens, Lewis (Nuneaton) Young, Sir George (Acton)
Stewart, Andrew (Sherwood) Younger, Rt Hon George
Sumberg, David
Taylor, John (Solihull) Tellers for the Noes:
Taylor, Teddy (S'end E) Mr. Michael Neubert and
Tebbit, Rt Hon Norman Mr. Peter Lloyd.
Temple-Morris, Peter

Question accordingly negatived.

Amendments made: No. 43, in page 10, line 25 leave out 'any conditions which prescribe' and insert 'such conditions as to'.

No. 46, in page 11, line 3 after 'constable', insert 'in uniform'.—[Mr. Giles Shaw.]

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