Richard Holden MP asks the Home Secretary about the implications of her new Public Order Bill and about Extinction Rebellion in particular.
Last night the Government introduced the Public Order Bill. The right to be able to protest is fundamental and the Government recognises that. However, when those protests mean blocking roads, stopping ambulances and creating severe disruption at a massive cost to others, it is clear that they move from legitimate demonstrations to something dangerous and criminal.
One of the key changes the bill will introduce is to increase the maximum offence for someone causing serious disruption of transport infrastructure or emergency services from a maximum level 3 fine (max £1,000) to a maximum 6 or 12-month prison sentence for the most serious cases or repeat offenders.
Commenting, Richard said:
"This is sadly necessary due to people like Extinction Rebellion founder Roger Hallam - who said he’d block ambulances and allow people to die to make his political point (http://www.independent.co.uk/.../ambulance-roger-hallam...) - I raised his case in Parliament with the Home Secretary.
"Moreover, the sheer cost and requirement of police time that is diverted from elsewhere to deal with some of these highly disruptive protests are eye-watering: £122 million for the HS2 protests. £37 million for the Extinction Rebellion protests. And £4.6 million for recent Stop The Oil protests (this is what it cost Essex Police alone).
"Last night I was shocked that Opposition MPs voted en masse against the new laws at Second Reading (this means that they rejected the whole bill rather than voting on specific changes they wish to see). It’s sad that rather than side with law-abiding majority and allow safe protests, they have chosen to align themselves with an obsessive minority who are happy to block roads and emergency services.
"I look forward to this legislating progressing through the House of Commons and House of Lords although given the Oppositions stance getting these necessary changes over the line will be a battle."