HL Deb 17 February 1997 vol 578 cc32-3WA
Lord Kennet

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether the recommendation of the Peking appointed Hong Kong legal group that parties planning a demonstration must obtain police permission to do so differs from the provisions of the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994, and if so in what ways, given that the courts have recently ruled that there is now no right without police authorisation to hold peaceful, non-obstructive demonstrations on the highways in England.

Baroness Blatch

I understand that under the current legislation it is necessary to seek approval from the Hong Kong Commissioner of Police for a procession consisting of 30 persons or more. A Peking-appointed Preparatory Committee for the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) has proposed that some provisions of certain Hong Kong laws should not be adopted as laws of the HKSAR. It is not certain therefore whether the laws covering public order in the HKSAR will remain the same in the future.

Police permission is not needed to demonstrate in this country. Under Section 14A of the Public Order Act 1986, introduced by the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994, a chief police officer may in certain circumstances apply to a district council for an order to be made prohibiting trespassory assemblies for up to four days within a given area. The purpose of such an order, which requires the Home Secretary's consent, is to prevent serious disruption to the life of the community or significant damage to land or a building or a monument which is of historical, architectural, archaeological or scientific importance.