The House of Lords inflicted a staggering 14 defeats on the government in one historic evening, with a further 5 government amendments being withdrawn.
The Lords seized their chance to reject most of the 18 pages of late government amendments to the Police, Crime and Sentencing Bill. This forces Ministers to either drop these proposals or bring them back in completely separate legislation at a later date. The Lords only have this power on very rare occasions because the government introduced the amendments late and by-passed scrutiny in the commons.
The impact of these votes is significant as the Lords have stopped people from being given 51 week prison sentences for the offence of locking on, or for obstruction of major transport works. The Lords also stopped suspicion less stop and search of anyone in the vicinity of a protest and banning orders which would have allowed the police to stop named people attending protests even if they had committed no crime.
Green Party peer, Baroness Jenny Jones said:
“This was crunch time for the opposition to this increasingly authoritarian government. The Lords struck a blow for civil liberties and defended democratic rights in this country. The government is proposing Belarus-style laws, but the Lords have stopped some of the most draconian measures.”
“We have a government that is passing rules for us, while not obeying laws itself. The police protect the powerful, while getting more oppressive powers to use against the voiceless. This is an autocracy, not a democracy.”
“Boris Johnson once promised to lay down in front of the bulldozers if they expanded Heathrow, now he wants a year in jail for anyone doing that.”
Baroness Natalie Bennett said:
“If we don’t have protest, we will have an even worse government, with even worse policies, than we have now.
“The House of Lords has seized its opportunity to stand up for rights that so many working people, over more than a century, have actually used to achieve a better society.”