All 41 Parliamentary debates on 5th Jul 2021

Mon 5th Jul 2021
Mon 5th Jul 2021
Mon 5th Jul 2021
Mon 5th Jul 2021
Mon 5th Jul 2021
Mon 5th Jul 2021
Mon 5th Jul 2021
Mon 5th Jul 2021
Mon 5th Jul 2021

House of Commons

Monday 5th July 2021

(3 years ago)

Commons Chamber
Read Full debate Read Hansard Text
Monday 5 July 2021
The House met at half-past Two o’clock

Prayers

Monday 5th July 2021

(3 years ago)

Commons Chamber
Read Full debate Read Hansard Text
Prayers mark the daily opening of Parliament. The occassion is used by MPs to reserve seats in the Commons Chamber with 'prayer cards'. Prayers are not televised on the official feed.

This information is provided by Parallel Parliament and does not comprise part of the offical record

[Mr Speaker in the Chair]
Virtual participation in proceedings commenced (Orders, 4 June and 30 December 2020).
[NB: [V] denotes a Member participating virtually.]

New Member

Monday 5th July 2021

(3 years ago)

Commons Chamber
Read Full debate Read Hansard Text
The following Member made and subscribed the Affirmation required by law:
Kim Leadbeater, for Batley and Spen.
Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I am now suspending the House briefly to allow the necessary arrangements to be made for the next business.

14:35
Sitting suspended.
14:36

Speaker’s Statement

Monday 5th July 2021

(3 years ago)

Commons Chamber
Read Full debate Read Hansard Text
Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

Before we come to Question No. 1, I wish to inform the House about a change to our business today. At 5 o’clock, proceedings on the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill will be interrupted in order for the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care to make a statement on covid-19, if there is anything left to say. The statement will last for up to one hour and proceedings on the Bill will then continue. If the programme motion on the Order Paper is agreed to by the House, the debate on the first group of amendments must finish at 6.30 pm. The debate on the remaining amendments must finish by 9 o’clock and the debate on Third Reading must finish by 10 pm.

It is very unusual, although not unprecedented, to interrupt the scheduled business of the House to allow for a statement in this way. Given the priority that I have put on ensuring that important statements are heard in this House first, or at least simultaneously, which I know is shared by Members across the House, I think it appropriate for the House to hear a statement given the significance of the subject matter.

Oral Answers to Questions

Monday 5th July 2021

(3 years ago)

Commons Chamber
Read Full debate Read Hansard Text Read Debate Ministerial Extracts
The Secretary of State was asked—
Mark Menzies Portrait Mark Menzies (Fylde) (Con)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

What steps his Department is taking to support employment in the defence industry throughout the UK.

Karl McCartney Portrait Karl MᶜCartney (Lincoln) (Con)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

What steps his Department is taking to support employment in the defence industry throughout the UK.

Scott Benton Portrait Scott Benton (Blackpool South) (Con)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

What steps his Department is taking to support employment in the defence industry throughout the UK.

Jacob Young Portrait Jacob Young (Redcar) (Con)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

What steps his Department is taking to support employment in the defence industry throughout the UK.

Ben Wallace Portrait The Secretary of State for Defence (Mr Ben Wallace)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

May I congratulate the hon. Member for Batley and Spen (Kim Leadbeater) on taking her place and state my personal admiration for both her bravery and her sense of duty in putting herself forward to stand for that seat after the tragic loss of her sister?

MOD expenditure with UK industry and commerce already directly and indirectly supports more than 200,000 jobs across the United Kingdom. The investment of £88 billion in the equipment plan over the next four years, along with the changes we are making as part of the defence and security industrial strategy, will contribute to further economic growth and prosperity, including jobs across the United Kingdom.

Mark Menzies Portrait Mark Menzies [V]
- View Speech - Hansard - - - Excerpts

I was proud to welcome the Minister for exports, my hon. Friend the Member for Beverley and Holderness (Graham Stuart), to BAE Systems in my constituency the week before last to visit the factory of the future. That followed hot on the footsteps of the Prime Minister’s visit back in March, so will my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State outline what is being done to support our world-class defence manufacturing export success, and will he commit to the continuation of the Typhoon export programme?

Ben Wallace Portrait Mr Wallace
- View Speech - Hansard - - - Excerpts

The defence and security industrial strategy published in March set out how the Government will support defence and security exports. The UK Government and BAE are leading on the current opportunity in Finland and will continue to support industry in this campaign and future opportunities where they are present. Typhoon continues to benefit from ongoing investment, including Leonardo’s European Common Radar System Mark 2 radar and MBDA’s Meteor and SPEAR—Selective Precision Effects at Range—weapons. This increased capability delivered by the core programme will strengthen export prospects.

Karl McCartney Portrait Karl MᶜCartney [V]
- View Speech - Hansard - - - Excerpts

Lincolnshire has the privilege of being the historic home of many MOD bases and personnel. I am proud to have RAF Waddington in my constituency of Lincoln; as my right hon. Friend is aware, it houses and employs thousands of my constituents. Will he assure me not only that RAF Waddington will play an active role in our nation’s defence for many decades to come, but that he recognises that the recently announced changes at RAF Waddington are a concern for many Northrop Grumman personnel? What steps are being taken to preserve those with critical skills, both locally and nationally? Will he work with potential overseas buyers of RAF aircraft to secure technically skilled jobs and provide extensive employment for my constituents?

Ben Wallace Portrait Mr Wallace
- View Speech - Hansard - - - Excerpts

May I express my gratitude to the Northrop Grumman team who have worked on the E-3D Sentry over the years? Retiring old aircraft will inevitably impact the people who work on them. However, RAF Waddington, which I recently visited, remains firmly in our plans: as it becomes a national and international centre of excellence for remotely piloted air systems and for intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, it will be a source of skilled employment for my hon. Friend’s constituents. We are investing in 16 Protector remotely piloted air systems. RAF Waddington will be the future home of the Red Arrows as well.

Scott Benton Portrait Scott Benton
- View Speech - Hansard - - - Excerpts

I was delighted to see that last week His Royal Highness the Duke of Cambridge cut the steel for HMS Belfast, the third ship in the Royal Navy’s fleet of next-generation Type 26 anti-submarine frigates. All eight Type 26 frigates are being built by BAE Systems on the Clyde. Can the Secretary of State outline how many jobs that programme will support?

Ben Wallace Portrait Mr Wallace
- View Speech - Hansard - - - Excerpts

The Type 26 frigate programme consists of a total of eight ships, as my hon. Friend says, with work sustaining some 1,700 jobs at BAE Systems in Scotland alone and 4,000 jobs across the wider UK maritime supply chain until 2035.

Jacob Young Portrait Jacob Young
- View Speech - Hansard - - - Excerpts

A crucial part of our defence system is MOD procurement, with military equipment provided by companies such as Typhoon International, which makes dry suits and lifejackets for military divers, and First Choice Labels in Kirkleatham, which kindly provided social distancing floor stickers to businesses during the pandemic. May I invite the Secretary of State to Teesside to visit these great local British businesses and see for himself the high-quality military equipment and supplies that we produce in Redcar and Cleveland?

Ben Wallace Portrait Mr Wallace
- View Speech - Hansard - - - Excerpts

I would be delighted to come over to Redcar to visit my hon. Friend’s constituency. He highlights the real importance of the supply chain in any defence product. It is not always the big primes, although they often get the attention; it is all the little and medium-sized companies that string along behind that often supply the real detail behind the bids.

John Healey Portrait John Healey (Wentworth and Dearne) (Lab)
- View Speech - Hansard - - - Excerpts

I thank the Defence Secretary for his welcome to my hon. Friend the new Member for Batley and Spen (Kim Leadbeater). I will ensure that his kind remarks are known to her.

The Prime Minister has promised an extra 10,000 jobs in defence each year for the next four years. Buying British is the best way to deliver that promise so that we design and build for ourselves in Britain: it strengthens our economy and it strengthens our sovereignty. The defence equipment budget is now £19 billion. What proportion goes not to Britain, but to US suppliers?

Ben Wallace Portrait Mr Wallace
- View Speech - Hansard - - - Excerpts

Many suppliers in this country may not be entirely UK in their country of ownership, but the Ajax, for example, is made in St Athan by General Dynamics, and Boxer is made in Shropshire by a combination of BAE and the German Rheinmetall. We often insist that a significant proportion of those projects are made in the UK: for example, over 65% of the Boxer vehicle’s components are UK-made, including the metal frame made in Stockport. That provides British jobs, even if sometimes the countries of ownership are international. It is important to have international components because, as hon. Members have mentioned in previous questions, we also want to sell abroad. If we shut everyone else out, we should not be surprised if they do not buy from us.

John Healey Portrait John Healey
- View Speech - Hansard - - - Excerpts

The Defence Secretary ducks and dives to avoid the answer, but the highly authoritative Defence Analysis has the figures: 31% of Britain’s defence budget now goes to US suppliers, up from 10% only five years ago. Britain can make the best, but it requires the Government to give it backing. In the past month alone, the Defence Secretary has rejected the world-leading UK-built Brimstone missile and bought US instead. Is it not the truth that Ministers are making big promises to UK industry while the big money still goes abroad?

Ben Wallace Portrait Mr Wallace
- View Speech - Hansard - - - Excerpts

The truth is that the right hon. Gentleman does not seem to understand defence procurement or how things are manufactured. For example, 15% to 20% of the global components for all 3,000 of the F-35 aircraft—the rear part of the aeroplane—are made in Lancashire. Many of the highly complex, highly expensive defence projects are a collaboration. Typhoon is often championed on both sides of the House: that is an international collaboration between Spain, Italy, Germany and the United Kingdom. When the right hon. Gentleman mentions the word “supplier”, he is of course deliberately confusing that with the actual number of jobs and the ownership of their business. Let us ask the question: how many people are working on American companies’ business but based in the UK? He will find that most of them are here in this country.

Andrew Lewer Portrait Andrew Lewer (Northampton South) (Con)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

What steps his Department is taking to support the families of UK armed forces personnel.

Steve Brine Portrait Steve Brine (Winchester) (Con)
- View Speech - Hansard - - - Excerpts

What steps his Department is taking to support the families of UK armed forces personnel.

Ben Wallace Portrait Mr Wallace
- View Speech - Hansard - - - Excerpts

The Government support families by providing successful wraparound childcare pilots, and in the last financial year awarded grants totalling £4.5 million from the MOD’s education support grant fund and its early years and childcare fund. Through Forces Help to Buy, we have helped around 24,100 personnel to buy a home or move as their families’ needs changed. The future accommodation model is looking at how we can support service families with more choices about how, where and with whom they live.

Andrew Lewer Portrait Andrew Lewer [V]
- View Speech - Hansard - - - Excerpts

What is the Ministry of Defence doing to ensure that eligible personnel know that the continuity of education allowance—an important and necessary support for young people from military families, the vast majority of whom are a great asset to the schools they attend—is available to NCOs as well as to officers?

Ben Wallace Portrait Mr Wallace
- View Speech - Hansard - - - Excerpts

The CEA is available to all ranks, and we should encourage as many people as possible to take it up. It is used to achieve essential continuity of education for children, providing educational stability when personnel are assigned to service locations to meet the obligations of their service. Service personnel of all ranks may qualify, subject to their satisfying eligibility criteria, and they are encouraged to seek advice from the chain of command if they wish to take it up.

Steve Brine Portrait Steve Brine
- View Speech - Hansard - - - Excerpts

Armed forces families are very much the backbone of our military, including those living at Worthy Down in my constituency, and it is only right that we do everything we can to guarantee that they and their loved ones enjoy the best possible quality of life as much as anybody else. Can the Secretary of State confirm that it is his mission to see that every service family can live in the modern, sustainable accommodation that they deserve?

Ben Wallace Portrait Mr Wallace
- View Speech - Hansard - - - Excerpts

It is my mission that they get the accommodation that they deserve. The Defence Infrastructure Organisation has recently awarded contracts up to the value of £2.1 billion to a number of market-leading suppliers to provide maintenance services across the UK estate for the next seven years. Those contracts will benefit from the increased investment announced in the integrated review to address the legacy of underinvestment across the estate, enabling improvements for our armed forces and their families.

Stewart Malcolm McDonald Portrait Stewart Malcolm McDonald (Glasgow South) (SNP) [V]
- View Speech - Hansard - - - Excerpts

May I add my congratulations to the hon. Member for Batley and Spen (Kim Leadbeater) on her election? This is the first Defence questions we have had since Armed Forces Day, when we normally thank not only the personnel but their families. As the hon. Member for Winchester (Steve Brine) mentioned, the families really are the backbone of serving personnel across the UK. We know that the Government provide £2,000 for the childcare subsidy, but families are often spending three times as much as that and sometimes even more, so I have a very simple question: will the Secretary of State increase the childcare subsidy available to personnel and their families?

Ben Wallace Portrait Mr Wallace
- View Speech - Hansard - - - Excerpts

First, we are going to increase spending on wraparound childcare to over £165 million a year for families with children up to 11 in primary school. That reflects the fact that most service personnel do not have a nine-to-five job, and it will help them considerably. In fact, where we have run the pilots, this has been incredibly popular. On the continuity allowance, one way to manage the disruption that families suffer is not necessarily by increasing that allowance but by increasing forces’ families ability to find a place they want to live, so that they can be settled and their children can attend the same school. That is a growing trend from when I served, and the 24,000 benefiting from Help to Buy is a really positive number. It shows that a number of people have now made the choice that when they deploy, they will go on their own, and their families and children will stay stable in one place.

Stewart Malcolm McDonald Portrait Stewart Malcolm McDonald
- View Speech - Hansard - - - Excerpts

It is good to hear that there is going to be increased support, and we know from surveys that childcare costs, in particular, can be crippling for service families. May I move on to employment issues for the families of service personnel? At the minute, in the UK, helping the spouses of those who serve in the armed forces is largely left to the third sector. Canada, a fellow NATO country, has a thing called the spousal employment network, which is a very successful model, run in-house by the Government, to help the spouses of those who serve to find good-quality work that suits them. Will our Government look to bring this type of thing in-house, rather than leaving it to the third sector? Although that sector does a good job, the state should be taking on more of that responsibility.

Ben Wallace Portrait Mr Wallace
- View Speech - Hansard - - - Excerpts

The hon. Gentleman will know that we are working on a families’ strategy, and his suggestion is in exactly an area we are working on in that strategy. He is right; when I was serving in Germany in the BAOR—the British Army of the Rhine—where there was a much more settled, huge Army, there were lots of those organisations around, and I think they need some reinvigorating. Whether that is done entirely through the state or through a blend of non-governmental organisations, charities, volunteers and the state is something I would welcome being looked at, and I think there will be some solutions. What he says is totally in line with our policy and view that we have to do more for spouses to help them with their jobs if they move around.

Mary Glindon Portrait Mary Glindon (North Tyneside) (Lab)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

What steps he has taken to help improve transition from the armed forces into employment.

Steve McCabe Portrait Steve McCabe (Birmingham, Selly Oak) (Lab)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

What steps he has taken to help improve transition from the armed forces into employment.

Leo Docherty Portrait The Minister for Defence People and Veterans (Leo Docherty)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

We are always striving to improve transition, but it is a success story. In 2019-20, 84% of service leavers were employed within six months, which is higher than the UK employment rate of 76%. We offer support through the Career Transition Partnership. We have also introduced a national insurance holiday for employers of veterans and a guaranteed interview for those applying to the civil service. This acknowledges that veterans bring discipline and huge employability to the workplace.

Mary Glindon Portrait Mary Glindon
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

The average unemployment rate across the general population in this country is 4.8%, whereas for veterans the rate is a very concerning 7%. Can the Minister say why the Armed Forces Bill does not include employment within its scope?

Leo Docherty Portrait Leo Docherty
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

In contrast to what the hon. Lady says, in reality the statistics show that the picture is very positive. If we compare like for like, veterans are overwhelmingly in good employment, which reflects an overall demand in the civilian sector to take on veterans, especially in growing sectors such as a telecoms and construction, because of the magnificent skillsets they bring to those jobs.

Steve McCabe Portrait Steve McCabe
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I welcome the work of the Career Transition Partnership, but the Minister must be aware that some estimates suggest that unemployment among ex-service personnel aged 18 to 49 is double the national average. Has he asked his Department for Work and Pensions colleagues to consider the simple suggestion of the Centre for Social Justice to include an obligatory question on initial Jobcentre Plus registration: “Have you ever served in the UK armed forces?”?

Leo Docherty Portrait Leo Docherty
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I am grateful for the hon. Gentleman’s question. I am content—I have seen it for myself—that the DWP is now very much veteran-aware. I have been very impressed with its veteran-friendly approach; 10 days ago, I saw an armed forces champion in a DWP Jobcentre Plus office. Government’s joined-up response in ensuring that every Department makes itself aware of veterans is already bearing fruit.

Andrew Gwynne Portrait Andrew Gwynne (Denton and Reddish) (Lab)
- View Speech - Hansard - - - Excerpts

What steps he is taking to help improve provision of mental health services for members of the armed forces.

Tanmanjeet Singh Dhesi Portrait Mr Tanmanjeet Singh Dhesi (Slough) (Lab)
- View Speech - Hansard - - - Excerpts

What steps he is taking to help improve provision of mental health services for members of the armed forces.

Leo Docherty Portrait The Minister for Defence People and Veterans (Leo Docherty)
- View Speech - Hansard - - - Excerpts

The Ministry of Defence is determined to provide the best possible mental health support and care for members of the armed forces. We have introduced a 24-hour mental health helpline for service personnel and families in tandem with Combat Stress. We have also introduced HeadFIT, a training website for mental health, and, from September, all serving personnel will receive a mandatory annual briefing on mental health awareness. All of this must be underlined by a cultural shift in which it is okay to say that you are not okay.

Andrew Gwynne Portrait Andrew Gwynne
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I am grateful to the Minister for that answer and for the work that has been done, but he must also know that Government targets on mental healthcare have been missed for veterans across all services in England, including a wait of 37 days for face-to-face appointments through the transition, intervention and liaison service against a target of just 14. Will he now commit to reviewing these services to ensure that our serving personnel and veterans absolutely get the best standards of care, which they need and deserve?

Leo Docherty Portrait Leo Docherty
- View Speech - Hansard - - - Excerpts

We are committed to ensuring that veterans and service personnel receive a gold standard of care. I was with Op Courage clinicians last week and I was pleased to learn that wait times for those seeking high intensity treatment for high intensity and complex problems have decreased. I was also very encouraged to learn that veterans themselves are part of the mental health support in the form of peer support workers. We will always have more to do, but good progress is being made.

Tanmanjeet Singh Dhesi Portrait Mr Dhesi
- View Speech - Hansard - - - Excerpts

The armed forces covenant states:

“Those injured in Service, whether physically or mentally, should be cared for in a way which reflects the Nation’s moral obligation to them”.

However, the Defence Committee’s 2019 report on mental health suggests that there was a 50% shortfall in both uniformed and civilian psychiatrists’ posts. Can the Minister set out an updated estimate, and what he is doing to ensure that staffing meets the demand from service communities?

Leo Docherty Portrait Leo Docherty
- View Speech - Hansard - - - Excerpts

We will always go after any gaps in provision, but I am confident that progress is being made. When it comes to delivering on our obligations on the covenant, which is to ensure that no serving personnel or veteran is disadvantaged in any way, I am very proud that we are right in the middle of taking forward the Armed Forces Bill.

Stephen Morgan Portrait Stephen Morgan (Portsmouth South) (Lab)
- View Speech - Hansard - - - Excerpts

Government figures show that the number of service personnel being seen by the MOD’s specialist mental health services for initial assessment has fallen by 36% since 2013 to an all-time low. That is despite personnel being more willing to seek help for mental health issues. Will the Minister commit to reviewing all current mental health provision for our armed forces personnel?

Leo Docherty Portrait Leo Docherty
- View Speech - Hansard - - - Excerpts

I welcome that question because, as I mentioned, apart from the physical provision, we are seeking a cultural change and an institutional shift across all our armed forces, led by the chain of command, in which people feel comfortable asking for help. We are already seeing a tangible benefit in that regard. I saw some of that up close when I visited the Op Courage clinicians in St Pancras last week.

Richard Holden Portrait Mr Richard Holden (North West Durham) (Con)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

What steps the Government are taking to support regimental museums.

Jeremy Quin Portrait The Minister for Defence Procurement (Jeremy Quin)
- View Speech - Hansard - - - Excerpts

The MOD recognises the valuable role played by some 140 museums around the country and currently supports 53 Army museums through the provision of curators and infrastructure costs.

Richard Holden Portrait Mr Holden
- View Speech - Hansard - - - Excerpts

I thank the Minister for his recent visit to Stanhope in my constituency where he saw British manufacturing at its best in the tracked vehicles for the armed forces. The Durham Light Infantry Museum was sadly closed in 2016 by the Labour-led Durham County Council as a cost-cutting exercise. However, keeping the collection in storage has actually proved more expensive than keeping the museum open. The new joint administration is looking to reopen that museum. Will he work with me and meet my hon. Friends the Members for Bishop Auckland (Dehenna Davison) and for Sedgefield (Paul Howell), who are very keen on this new initiative, to see what the Ministry of Defence can do to get this museum reopened?

Jeremy Quin Portrait Jeremy Quin
- View Speech - Hansard - - - Excerpts

I greatly enjoyed the visit to Stanhope. If there is an opportunity to meet again, I would be delighted to do so. The DLI has an extraordinary record of service, as did the 68th Regiment that preceded it. I am delighted to hear that the council is reviewing the fact that the regimental museum is currently closed. Using museums to inspire young people not only with what their forebears did, but with the ongoing service of local people in the armed forces, must surely be welcomed by all parties.

Dave Doogan Portrait Dave Doogan (Angus) (SNP)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

What recent assessment he has made of the adequacy of funding allocated to his Department.

Ben Wallace Portrait The Secretary of State for Defence (Mr Ben Wallace)
- View Speech - Hansard - - - Excerpts

The 2020 spending review settlement for defence provided a cash increase of more than £24 billion over four years compared with last year’s budget. That represents an above inflation increase in capital and resource spending over the period, and exceeds the Government’s commitment to increase the defence budget by 0.5% above inflation in each year of this Parliament.

Dave Doogan Portrait Dave Doogan
- View Speech - Hansard - - - Excerpts

In the whole of NATO, only Luxembourg spends less on its personnel than the UK. In 2020, the MOD spent just 34% of its budget on personnel—half the figure that Belgium spends. Does the Secretary of State believe that it is the woeful lack of investment in our personnel that is driving the current recruitment challenges in our armed forces, or is it the chronic accommodation that he expects our service personnel to live in that is to blame? Soon, the size of the Army will be at its lowest since 1714. How does the MOD splashing £200 million on a new royal yacht help with these challenges in our armed forces?

Ben Wallace Portrait Mr Wallace
- View Speech - Hansard - - - Excerpts

I think the hon. Gentleman does not understand how we spend our money in the defence budget; that is 34% of a very large budget on armed forces that are expeditionary and require lots of capital equipment. Of course, the proportion that we spend on human beings compared with equipment will be less than a country such as Belgium, which potentially has a large personnel budget but very little capital budget. That simply explains the different proportion. It does not mean that we spend less. Our forces’ salaries, and terms and conditions, are comparably better than in most countries—not only in NATO, but across the world. It is just that we choose to buy things to put our people in, such as Boxers or aircraft; that is simply the reality of it.

Dan Carden Portrait Dan Carden (Liverpool, Walton) (Lab)
- View Speech - Hansard - - - Excerpts

What steps he is taking to consult on and deliver reparations for service personnel adversely impacted by the historic ban on homosexuality enforced by the armed forces.

Leo Docherty Portrait The Minister for Defence People and Veterans (Leo Docherty)
- View Speech - Hansard - - - Excerpts

The Government accept that the historic policy of prohibiting members of the LGBT community from serving in the armed forces was absolutely wrong. Work is under way to understand and acknowledge the wide-ranging impact of the pre-millennium practice of the ban. That will ensure that it is not only through the return of medals that the impacts of this historic policy are addressed. We will be announcing this work in due course.

Dan Carden Portrait Dan Carden
- View Speech - Hansard - - - Excerpts

The ban on homosexuality in the armed forces is expected to have affected upwards of 20,000 veterans, who faced inhumane treatment, from medical examinations to imprisonment, and have lived a life of shame and fear. This historic injustice warrants an apology from the Prime Minister. I wonder if the Minister will seek that on behalf of the nation. These men and women have waited long enough. Will he set out a timetable for righting this historic wrong?

Leo Docherty Portrait Leo Docherty
- View Speech - Hansard - - - Excerpts

Addressing this injustice will be at the heart of the veterans strategy action update plan, which I will announce in the winter. I thank the hon. Member for his sustained interest in the issue. I cannot pre-empt the findings of this workstream, but I assure him that we will address this matter with compassion, humility and urgency.

Marcus Fysh Portrait Mr Marcus Fysh (Yeovil) (Con)
- View Speech - Hansard - - - Excerpts

What contribution UK armed forces are making to counter-Daesh operations in Syria and Iraq.

Royston Smith Portrait Royston Smith (Southampton, Itchen) (Con)
- View Speech - Hansard - - - Excerpts

What contribution UK armed forces are making to counter-Daesh operations in Syria and Iraq.

James Heappey Portrait The Minister for the Armed Forces (James Heappey) [V]
- View Speech - Hansard - - - Excerpts

Our armed forces continue to provide support to the Iraqi Government in tackling the threat posed by Daesh. The RAF has flown more than 8,700 sorties and released more than 4,300 precision weapons to target Daesh in Iraq and Syria. On the ground, we have trained in excess of 120,000 Iraqi and Kurdish personnel in everything from engineering to countering improvised explosive devices. We remain wholly committed to the coalition and supporting our ally Iraq in countering Daesh.

Marcus Fysh Portrait Mr Fysh [V]
- View Speech - Hansard - - - Excerpts

Yeovil and the south-west are proud of the contribution we make to supplying our service personnel with the best possible equipment on their forward operations in risky environments, such as the fight against Daesh. We are also proud of the apprenticeships and skills that are sponsored through such industrial connections—for example, the 500 apprentices that Leonardo helicopters has recruited over the last decade. Will my hon. Friend confirm that this partnership will be at the forefront of his mind when making the choice of the next new medium helicopter?

James Heappey Portrait James Heappey
- View Speech - Hansard - - - Excerpts

My hon. Friend is right to raise the importance of rotary aviation in support of operations around the world. He knows from our exchange in the debate last week that I am not able to comment directly on the point that he makes, but I hope he knows that we always want to provide our armed forces with the very best equipment.

Royston Smith Portrait Royston Smith
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

British and American F-35s recently conducted operations from the UK’s aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth as part of Operation Shader to degrade the capabilities of Daesh. Will my hon. Friend, as much as he is able, update the House on the nature of those operations and their strategic importance?

James Heappey Portrait James Heappey
- View Speech - Hansard - - - Excerpts

In June 2021, UK F-35B aircraft carried out their first operational sorties in support of the counter-Daesh operations from HMS Queen Elizabeth in the eastern Mediterranean, providing a valuable contribution to Op Shader and the coalition effort. This activity has formed a key part of improving the UK’s carrier strike capability to operate closely with allies and our interoperability with the US and others. We are delighted with how those sorties have gone. The F-35B is a phenomenal aircraft launched from a magnificent aircraft carrier.

Julian Lewis Portrait Dr Julian Lewis (New Forest East) (Con)
- View Speech - Hansard - - - Excerpts

What conclusions have our Ministers and strategists drawn from our use of military force from outside the borders of states such as Syria and Iraq that might help to prevent the re-emergence of Afghanistan as a base and a launchpad for international terrorism campaigns like those of Daesh and al-Qaeda following the withdrawal of NATO troops from Afghanistan?

James Heappey Portrait James Heappey
- View Speech - Hansard - - - Excerpts

My right hon. Friend knows from our previous exchanges on this matter that we have absolutely reserved the right to counter terrorist threats to the United Kingdom that may re-emerge in Afghanistan. He is absolutely right to point us towards an outside-in model such as that prosecuted from Cyprus in support of Operation Shader. That is very much in the thoughts of those who are planning for that eventuality in Afghanistan.

Kevan Jones Portrait Mr Kevan Jones (North Durham) (Lab)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

Whether the procurement costs for the proposed national flagship will be drawn from his Department’s existing budget allocation.

Jeremy Quin Portrait The Minister for Defence Procurement (Jeremy Quin)
- View Speech - Hansard - - - Excerpts

The capital costs of building the national flagship would accrue over a number of years and will be met from the defence budget.

Kevan Jones Portrait Mr Jones
- View Speech - Hansard - - - Excerpts

That is very interesting. I am not sure whether I should be asking this question of the Minister rather than the Prime Minister. Can he explain, then, what else in the defence budget will give to pay the £200 million that the Prime Minister announced, which I think he sprung not just on the nation but the Ministry of Defence?

Jeremy Quin Portrait Jeremy Quin
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

We are delighted to be playing our part in delivering this first-rate asset, which will be a tremendous boost to the UK and global Britain. We should recognise that we will have greater clarity on the costs and the profile of that when we have completed our market engagement. The prior information notice has just gone out. To put it in a helpful context for the right hon. Gentleman, over four years we are talking about an impact on the overall defence budget in the region of 0.1%. I would like to put that into perspective for him.

Chris Evans Portrait Chris Evans (Islwyn) (Lab/Co-op)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

With the National Audit Office having judged the defence equipment plan to be “unaffordable” for the fourth year in a row, the continuing well-publicised disaster and rising cost of the Ajax project, and the cancellation of Warrior, can the Minister explain why this vanity project has become a spending priority for the Ministry of Defence?

Jeremy Quin Portrait Jeremy Quin
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I am delighted to help the hon. Gentleman on a few points. First, on the NAO report to which he refers, I believe that was done on the old numbers prior to a very fulsome provision to the Ministry of Defence of £24 billion being spent from the current levels. That has helped us to ensure that we can deliver the right priorities for this country in the future. On Ajax. I am pleased to reassure him that that is a firm price contract. As to Warrior, that is one example of the tough decisions we make to ensure that the budget comes in on balance, and we will continue to do so. That is the target of the Secretary of State and myself. We will continue to work on that and address all the priorities of the Ministry of Defence.

Gill Furniss Portrait Gill Furniss (Sheffield, Brightside and Hillsborough) (Lab)
- View Speech - Hansard - - - Excerpts

If he will make it his policy to use British steel in future defence projects.

Jeremy Quin Portrait The Minister for Defence Procurement (Jeremy Quin)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

The Government are committed to creating the right conditions for a competitive and sustainable steel industry. We publish the future pipeline for steel requirements enabling UK steel manufacturers to better plan and bid for contracts.

Gill Furniss Portrait Gill Furniss
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

The UK steel sector supports over 30,000 jobs, many of which are in Sheffield, my home town, and the Government have described the industry as “vital”. Can the Minister explain, therefore, why less than 30% of Type 26 frigate steel is being sold from the UK? Will he support Labour’s campaign to make, sell and buy more in Britain, starting with the steel procurement in his own Department?

Jeremy Quin Portrait Jeremy Quin
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I will happily explain that to the hon. Lady. I believe I am right in saying that 50% by total value of the steel for the Type 26s will be coming from the UK, which is about 35% of the tonnage, or 1,400 tonnes per ship. She is correct on her figures, but it is 50% by value. The difference in why we are not able to do more in part reflects the nature of the steel industry in the UK. Unfortunately, not all of the type of specialist steel that is required for defence equipment can be sourced within the UK.

Kate Osborne Portrait Kate Osborne (Jarrow) (Lab)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

What steps he is taking to strengthen the armed forces covenant; and if he will make a statement.

Leo Docherty Portrait The Minister for Defence People and Veterans (Leo Docherty)
- View Speech - Hansard - - - Excerpts

I am proud that we are strengthening the armed forces covenant by enshrining it in law through the Armed Forces Bill and issuing statutory guidance for local authorities in the critical areas of housing, healthcare and education. This milestone Bill will deliver on our duty to our veterans and service people, as they have done on their part.

Kate Osborne Portrait Kate Osborne
- View Speech - Hansard - - - Excerpts

The Government claim that the Armed Forces Bill will enshrine the armed forces covenant into law, yet there is no responsibility for Government Departments, including the Ministry of Defence, to deliver the covenant. The limited focus on housing, healthcare and education risks creating a two-tier covenant that bakes in the existing postcode lottery on access to services. How will the Minister ensure that we eliminate the postcode lottery that our veterans face in accessing vital services?

Leo Docherty Portrait Leo Docherty
- View Speech - Hansard - - - Excerpts

That is the whole point of the statutory guidance: to ensure that there is a best practice template that every local authority can follow to ensure that veterans and service people in their locality are in no way disadvantaged.

Stephanie Peacock Portrait Stephanie Peacock (Barnsley East) (Lab)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

The armed forces covenant is the debt that this country owes to our servicemen and women who have served our country. One such group, whom I met last week, are the nuclear test veterans. They have suffered from cancers, blood disorders and rare diseases as a result of their service. They have been refused support, recognition, compensation and a medal for their service. Will the Minister for veterans today review the Government’s position on this issue and agree to meet the nuclear veterans?

Leo Docherty Portrait Leo Docherty
- View Speech - Hansard - - - Excerpts

Historic medallic recognition cases are a matter for the independent Advisory Military Sub-Committee. Last year, it considered the case of nuclear test programme veterans and concluded that it did not meet the necessary criteria. This was not the decision that the campaign groups the hon. Lady mentioned wanted or the families had hoped for. I fully sympathise that they would have wanted a medallic recognition for their loved ones, but it is right and proper that this is an independent process and therefore not for ministerial intervention.

Nick Fletcher Portrait Nick Fletcher (Don Valley) (Con)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

What steps his Department is taking to help ensure that all members of the armed forces are equipped with financial literacy skills.

Leo Docherty Portrait The Minister for Defence People and Veterans (Leo Docherty)
- View Speech - Hansard - - - Excerpts

The Ministry of Defence is working to raise awareness of financial issues and planning among service personnel across all three services, because we recognise that financial literacy is a critical life skill.

Nick Fletcher Portrait Nick Fletcher
- View Speech - Hansard - - - Excerpts

In October 2019, Danny Butcher, a former soldier and the brother of my constituent, Carrie Jones, sadly took his own life after getting involved in an online money-making scheme that plunged him into debt. He was by all accounts an outstanding member of society. He had toured overseas during his time in the British Army and was mentioned by his commanding officer in dispatches, yet after leaving the armed forces he was lured in by a property scheme that offered those involved the chance to get rich quickly.

Following a surgery with Ms Jones, I had the pleasure of discussing with the previous Minister for Defence People and Veterans, my hon. Friend the Member for Plymouth, Moor View (Johnny Mercer), what could be done to provide members of the armed services who are about to be discharged with some financial education, the objective being for them not to be tricked by unscrupulous money-making schemes. In light of Danny Butcher’s death, what steps is the Minister’s Department currently taking to ensure that all those departing the forces have adequate financial literacy skills, so that they know how to spend their money wisely and become integrated fully in civilian life?

Leo Docherty Portrait Leo Docherty
- View Speech - Hansard - - - Excerpts

My thoughts are with the family of Danny Butcher. Every veteran suicide is an absolute tragedy and we must seek to learn lessons from this. We are working to ensure that all service leavers have adequate financial educational awareness, and we want to ensure that is the case across all three services, specifically with regard to debt, household financial management and mortgages. I am grateful to my hon. Friend for raising this important subject today.

Peter Gibson Portrait Peter Gibson  (Darlington)  (Con)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

If he will make a statement on his departmental responsibilities.

Ben Wallace Portrait The Secretary of State for Defence (Mr Ben Wallace)
- View Speech - Hansard - - - Excerpts

As part of the carrier strike group deployment on 23 June, HMS Defender, during innocent passage through Ukrainian territory waters, was overflown by Russian combat aircraft and shadowed by Russian ships. No warning shots were fired and no bombs were dropped in her path; these assertions were Kremlin disinformation. The Royal Navy will always uphold international law. In the Mediterranean, the group’s ships and aircraft have bolstered NATO, conducted highly successful exercises, flown armed sorties against Daesh and been welcomed into port by many friends and allies, boosting Britain’s trade and diplomatic links. In the coming weeks, we will continue to build relations with our partners as we reach the middle east and the Indo-Pacific.

John Healey Portrait John Healey (Wentworth and Dearne) (Lab)
- View Speech - Hansard - - - Excerpts

We pay tribute to the total professionalism of the HMS Defender crew.

This is a profound moment for the more than 150,000 UK men and women who served in Afghanistan. I pay tribute to their service and their sacrifice, especially those of the 457 who have lost their lives. Where does this withdrawal leave the UK strategy of forward deployment in a region that sits between Russia, China and Iran—three of the main state-based threats identified in the integrated review—and how will the Government ensure that Afghanistan does not again become an operating base for terrorism directed against the west?

Ben Wallace Portrait Mr Wallace
- View Speech - Hansard - - - Excerpts

I join the right hon. Gentleman in his tribute to the men and women who fought, some of whom never came back, and contributed during the many years in Afghanistan. I have previously placed on the record the fact that in my view the United States leaving made it very difficult for us to continue that mission. It left many of us unable to continue that without a significant international uplift. That has not been forthcoming, and therefore we are in a position where we, too, are on the path of withdrawal, with all the risks that may leave in the future—in the next 10, 20 years—so we have to do our very best with what we have now. That means we will continue to work with the Afghan Government. We will continue to focus on the threats that emanate from Afghanistan and may grow towards the United Kingdom and our allies. We will do whatever we can. However, it is important, in forward presence, that we are always in such countries with the consent of those countries. There was a Doha peace agreement, and that means we have to consider what we are going to do next.

Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

These are topicals—short and sweet. I call the Chair of the Select Committee.

Tobias Ellwood Portrait Mr Tobias Ellwood (Bournemouth East) (Con)
- View Speech - Hansard - - - Excerpts

I am pleased to welcome reports in the weekend papers that suggest that the aid budget may return to 0.7%. The utility of hard power without soft power invariably leads to failure, as sadly illustrated in Afghanistan, where the sudden exodus of NATO forces means that there is now a high risk of civil war, with the Taliban advancing and securing more districts by the day. I repeat my call for a formal inquiry so that we can understand how this NATO mission, endorsed by the UN, lasted two decades, has now ended in failure. We are now abandoning the country to the very insurgent organisation that we went in to defeat in the first place. This cannot be what we expected when we went in, and it is not the exit strategy that we anticipated. Our presence gave legitimacy to the Afghan authorities, and our exodus will be seen as a victory for the Taliban. Please let us have the inquiry.

Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
- View Speech - Hansard - - - Excerpts

Can I just remind people—Front Benchers as well, and Chairs of Select Committees—that if they want a long question, they should go in questions earlier? These are short and punchy questions, and we have to keep it that way to get the rest in.

Ben Wallace Portrait Mr Wallace
- View Speech - Hansard - - - Excerpts

I would say two things. First, my right hon. Friend, as I said earlier, has the means of his own salvation. He chairs the Select Committee, and if the Select Committee wishes to have an inquiry, I will be happy to make sure the Department services it.

Sarah Olney Portrait Sarah Olney (Richmond Park) (LD)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

In my constituency, a significant risk of homelessness comes with having served in the armed forces and suffered trauma during that time. A lot of the rough sleepers in my constituency are former members of the armed forces. With the eviction moratorium now ending, what further steps will the Ministry of Defence be taking to help those who have previously served who are now at risk of losing their homes?

Ben Wallace Portrait Mr Wallace
- View Speech - Hansard - - - Excerpts

First, I would not like the hon. Lady to strengthen the wrong perception that a greater number of our armed forces personnel are rough-sleeping or a greater number suffer certain things; the numbers nearly always either reflect the national trend in wider society or, indeed, in some cases are significant lower. There are plenty of schemes that we encourage and support to get behind our veterans and get them back into work, and we are also working with a range of non-governmental organisations. Of course, I would be very happy to meet her to discuss issues in her own constituency and what more can be done to make sure that, if they are rough sleepers, veterans get the best support they can.

Robert Halfon Portrait Robert Halfon  (Harlow)  (Con)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

The Harlow branch of Royal British Legion is supported by thousands of local residents, and they do much to keep the light of remembrance burning strong in our town, and support our veterans. What steps are the Government taking, working with local authorities, to support the Royal British Legion, especially when clubs face difficulties with maintenance and capital building costs for older premises? Will the Minister join me on a visit to the Harlow Royal British Legion branch to see the wonderful work it does?

Leo Docherty Portrait The Minister for Defence People and Veterans (Leo Docherty)
- View Speech - Hansard - - - Excerpts

Let me put on record my thanks for the magnificent work done by my right hon. Friend and the Royal British Legion in Harlow. We are putting millions into that sector every year, which is the right thing to do. I would very much like to visit his constituency and see that up close.

Catherine McKinnell Portrait Catherine McKinnell  (Newcastle upon Tyne North) (Lab) [V]
- View Speech - Hansard - - - Excerpts

In Newcastle, the armed forces community covenant commits the council to tackling disadvantage in access to employment, education, housing and healthcare. Does the Minister share my concern that by not covering all those important areas in the Armed Forces Bill and therefore setting a legal standard in the armed forces covenant that is below existing voluntary commitments such as those in Newcastle, the Government risk creating a postcode lottery for many veterans in accessing services?

Leo Docherty Portrait Leo Docherty
- View Speech - Hansard - - - Excerpts

No, I do not agree. The Armed Forces Bill and the statutory guidance focus on the critical areas of housing, healthcare and education. If we need to broaden that statutory guidance in future to include more areas—it is evergreen, much like the Ministry of Defence ministerial team—we will.

Chris Loder Portrait Chris Loder  (West Dorset) (Con)
- View Speech - Hansard - - - Excerpts

Leonardo helicopters, based in Yeovil, is a big employer for my West Dorset constituency. Its success in gaining foreign direct investments rests on the Government choosing its state-of-the-art AW149 for the military’s new medium helicopter. Will my hon. Friend confirm that the Government will be supporting West Dorset, and indeed the constituents of my hon. Friend the Member for Yeovil (Mr Fysh), with a British manufacturer of helicopters when making this choice?

Jeremy Quin Portrait The Minister for Defence Procurement (Jeremy Quin)
- View Speech - Hansard - - - Excerpts

I confirm our intention to acquire a new medium lift helicopter for the armed forces later this decade, and I assure my hon. Friend that all options will be considered to ensure the best outcome for our defence and security requirements, and indeed for the prosperity of the UK.

Mary Glindon Portrait Mary Glindon  (North Tyneside) (Lab)
- View Speech - Hansard - - - Excerpts

As a community interest company, Operation Veteran in North Tyneside is not always able to access funds under the armed forces covenant, even though it often helps bigger charities with urgent help for veterans. Will the Minister consider making it easier for CICs such as Operation Veteran to access funding, and will he thank people for all the work they did in keeping that service going during the pandemic?

Leo Docherty Portrait Leo Docherty
- View Speech - Hansard - - - Excerpts

I absolutely give those thanks, and I commend the hon. Lady’s work in support of that group. If she would like to send me details of that individual case, I will consider it.

Felicity Buchan Portrait Felicity Buchan (Kensington) (Con)
- View Speech - Hansard - - - Excerpts

Will the Minister update the House on the recruitment and retention of reservists, as well as regular soldiers? Will he confirm that we have sufficient boots on the ground?

Leo Docherty Portrait Leo Docherty
- View Speech - Hansard - - - Excerpts

I am delighted to confirm that we have enough people. They are highly motivated and well-trained, and when meeting new draft recruits to the senior service, as I did in HMS Raleigh last week, one gets a tremendous sense of confidence and excitement about the magnificent diversity of opportunity available for those joining the armed forces.

Steve McCabe Portrait Steve McCabe (Birmingham, Selly Oak) (Lab)
- View Speech - Hansard - - - Excerpts

One in 30 homeless people in this country have served in our armed forces. Could Ministers improve that position by making the provision of acceptable civilian accommodation part of the discharge process?

Leo Docherty Portrait Leo Docherty
- View Speech - Hansard - - - Excerpts

I am not entirely sure that that is the case—[Interruption.] If the hon. Gentleman cares to write to me with the details, I will look at that. I confirm that we do everything we can, especially through the period of transition, to ensure that when people leave, they are housed.

Tanmanjeet Singh Dhesi Portrait Mr Tanmanjeet Singh Dhesi (Slough) (Lab)
- View Speech - Hansard - - - Excerpts

The Ministry of Defence’s own figures suggest that just 20 out of 200 non-UK service personnel who left the regulars in 2019-20 were covered by the Government’s proposed visa scheme. Is it time that the Government woke up to the injustice of our brave Commonwealth and overseas service personnel paying twice for their citizenship?

Ben Wallace Portrait Mr Wallace
- View Speech - Hansard - - - Excerpts

The hon. Gentleman has often raised this cause, and I entirely agree with him. That is why we are now in the middle of a consultation to waive those visa fees for service personnel who have served over 12 years. We think that is absolutely right, and no doubt he will contribute to that consultation.

Scott Benton Portrait Scott Benton (Blackpool South) (Con)
- View Speech - Hansard - - - Excerpts

The residents of Blackpool are sick and tired of seeing the images of illegal immigrants crossing the English channel on a daily basis. While the legislation proposed by the Home Secretary in the autumn will help to address this issue in the longer term, many people are becoming increasingly frustrated at our inability to deal conclusively with the problem. What discussions has the Secretary of State had with the Home Office in relation to the use of Royal Navy vessels to help address this issue?

James Heappey Portrait The Minister for the Armed Forces (James Heappey) [V]
- View Speech - Hansard - - - Excerpts

Defence has collaborated with the Home Office on this issue for several years, providing a range of support, including surface vessels, surveillance aircraft and planning expertise. Most recently, Defence has provided planning support to catalyse operations for this summer, and we continue to work closely with the Home Office to identify where defence capability can most appropriately support Border Force to address this important issue.

Martyn Day Portrait Martyn Day (Linlithgow and East Falkirk) (SNP) [V]
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

This week we learned that the Ajax programme has been withdrawn for a second time, on health and safety grounds. Experts say the problems are so serious that the Government should cancel the £5.5 billion deal. Does the Minister agree that Britain’s defence procurement strategy wastes billions of pounds and actually puts lives at risk?

Jeremy Quin Portrait Jeremy Quin
- View Speech - Hansard - - - Excerpts

No, I do not agree with that contention. This is a firm price contract. We are working closely with General Dynamics to ensure that it gets delivered, but as the hon. Gentleman would be the first to say—as we would all say in this House—the safety of our personnel must come first, which is why we paused those trials. As soon as we can get them going again, we will, but we will do so only if that can be done safely and appropriately.

Harriett Baldwin Portrait Harriett Baldwin (West Worcestershire) (Con)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I welcome the defence memorandum of implementation signed between the UK and Ukraine, which will see our two countries working together on new Ukrainian naval bases and eight fast missile warships. Can the Secretary of State confirm that we will not be deterred, and the Royal Navy will not be deterred, by Russia’s recent attempts at intimidation in the Black sea?

Ben Wallace Portrait Mr Wallace
- View Speech - Hansard - - - Excerpts

My hon. Friend is right to highlight the real importance that we attach to Ukraine as a friend and a partner, and to reiterate the fact that the Royal Navy will always uphold international law and will not be deterred by bullying. The transit by HMS Defender was through Ukrainian waters; we do not recognise Russia’s claim on Crimea. Our Navy will continue to uphold the rule of law wherever she sails.

Diana Johnson Portrait Dame Diana Johnson  (Kingston upon Hull North) (Lab)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

The first ship that the late Duke of Edinburgh served on, aged 18 as a midshipman, was HMS Ramillies, which eventually went on to serve in Operation Overlord. Would it not be a fitting tribute to the late Prince Philip to restore that name to one of the new Royal Navy ships?

Ben Wallace Portrait Mr Wallace
- View Speech - Hansard - - - Excerpts

The right hon. Lady makes a really good suggestion. I have slight scars on my back from dealing with something called the naming committee of the Royal Navy, but I absolutely welcome her suggestion. We should absolutely think about how we name our ships and use them more to remind us of great events but also to inspire a future generation.

Steve Brine Portrait Steve Brine (Winchester) (Con)
- View Speech - Hansard - - - Excerpts

As the Secretary of State will know, Sir John Moore barracks has been home to the Army Training Regiment in Winchester since 1986, when the Light Division moved from Peninsula barracks. He will also know that it is being disposed of, and the Defence Infrastructure Organisation is consulting on a masterplan. Will he or a member of his team please meet me at the conclusion of this exercise to ensure that what comes out of it is something that Winchester will be proud of and not just thousands of new houses to meet quota?

Ben Wallace Portrait Mr Wallace
- View Speech - Hansard - - - Excerpts

I will be delighted to ensure that either I or the Minister for Defence Procurement meets my hon. Friend.

Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I am suspending the House for three minutes to enable the necessary arrangements to be made for the next business.

15:29
Sitting suspended.
Bills Presented
Elections
Presentation and First Reading (Standing Order No. 57)
Chloe Smith, supported by the Prime Minister, Secretary Dominic Raab, Secretary Priti Patel, Michael Gove, Secretary Robert Jenrick, Secretary Brandon Lewis, Secretary Alister Jack, Secretary Simon Hart, Secretary Oliver Dowden, Mr Jacob Rees-Mogg and Mark Spencer, presented a Bill to make provision about the administration and conduct of elections, including provision designed to strengthen the integrity of the electoral process; about overseas electors; about voting and candidacy rights of EU citizens; about the designation of a strategy and policy statement for the Electoral Commission; about the membership of the Speaker's Committee; about the Electoral Commission's functions in relation to criminal proceedings; about financial information to be provided by a political party on applying for registration; for preventing a person being registered as a political party and being a recognised non-party campaigner at the same time; about regulation of expenditure for political purposes; about disqualification of offenders for holding elective offices; about information to be included in electronic campaigning material; and for connected purposes.
Bill read the first time, to be read a Second time tomorrow, and to be printed (Bill 138) with explanatory notes (Bill 138-EN).
Building Safety
Presentation and First Reading (Standing Order No. 57)
Secretary Robert Jenrick, supported by the Prime Minister, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Secretary Priti Patel, Michael Gove, Secretary Robert Buckland, Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng, Secretary Thérèse Coffey and Christopher Pincher, presented a Bill to make provision about the safety of people in or about buildings and the standard of buildings, to amend the Architects Act 1997, and to amend provision about complaints made to a housing ombudsman.
Bill read the first time, to be read a Second time tomorrow, and to be printed (Bill 139) with explanatory notes (Bill 139-EN).

Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill (Programme) (No.2)

Motion made, and Question proposed,
That the Order of 16 March 2021 in the last Session of Parliament (Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill (Programme)) be varied as follows:
(1) Paragraphs (4) and (5) of the Order shall be omitted.
(2) Proceedings on Consideration and Third Reading shall be taken in one day in accordance with the following provisions of this Order.
(3) Proceedings on Consideration—
(a) shall be taken in the order shown in the first column of the following Table, and
(b) shall (so far as not previously concluded) be brought to a conclusion at the times specified in the second column of the Table.

Proceedings

Time for conclusion of proceedings

New Clauses, new Schedules and amendments relating to Parts 1 to 4 and 10, other than any new Clauses relating to offences concerning pets or any new Clauses relating to voyeurism

6.30pm on the day on which proceedings on Consideration are commenced

New Clauses, new Schedules and amendments relating to Parts 5 to 9 and 11 to 13; any new Clauses relating to offences concerning pets; any new Clauses relating to voyeurism; remaining proceedings on Consideration

9.00pm on that day

(4) Proceedings on Third Reading shall (so far as not previously concluded) be brought to a conclusion at 10.00pm on the day on which proceedings on Consideration are commenced.—(Alan Mak.)
15:35
Philip Davies Portrait Philip Davies (Shipley) (Con)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I do not want to take up too much time because the time we spend now eats into the time for the main debate. However, it is important to register that literally hundreds of new clauses and amendments have been tabled to the Bill. It is a 300-page Bill, which had two days for Second Reading. The fact that it has only one day on Report is an absolute abuse of this House.

We are supposed to carry out a job of scrutinising legislation and ensuring that it is fit for purpose, but we will have a matter of a few hours for Report. The Minister has no opportunity to engage in debate on all the new clauses to explain why the Government will accept or reject them. Surely the least this House should be able to expect is to have some proper free-flowing debate and some explanation from the Government of their position on each of the new clauses, which people have taken the time and trouble to table. It is an absolute disgrace and it is important that that point is registered before we start the debate because it is an abuse of this House.

Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I did allow that contribution—there was special dispensation—so that it could be put on the record.

Question put and agreed to.

Consideration of Bill, as amended in the Public Bill Committee
[Relevant documents: First Report of the Joint Committee on Human Rights, Children of mothers in prison and the right to family life: The Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill, HC 90; Second Report of the Joint Committee on Human Rights, Legislative Scrutiny: Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill, Part 3 (Public Order), HC 331; and Fourth Report of the Joint Committee on Human Rights, Legislative Scrutiny: Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill (Part 4): The criminalisation of unauthorised encampments, HC 478].
New Clause 1
Harassment in a public place
‘(1) A person must not engage in any conduct in a public place—
(a) which amounts to harassment of another, and
(b) which he knows or ought to know amounts to harassment of the other.
(2) For the purposes of this section, the person whose conduct is in question ought to know that it amounts to harassment of another if a reasonable person would think the conduct amounted to harassment of the other.
(3) For the purposes of this section—
“conduct” includes speech;
“harassment” of a person includes causing the person alarm or distress.
(4) Subsection (1) does not apply to conduct if the person can show—
(a) that it was for the purpose of preventing or detecting crime,
(b) that it was under any enactment or rule of law or to comply with any condition or requirement imposed by any person under any enactment, or
(c) that in the particular circumstances it was reasonable.
(5) A person who engages in any conduct in breach of subsection (1) is guilty of an offence.
(6) A person guilty of an offence under this section is liable on summary conviction to imprisonment for a term not exceeding six months, or a fine not exceeding level 5 on the standard scale, or both.’
Brought up, and read the First time.
15:37
Harriet Harman Portrait Ms Harriet Harman (Camberwell and Peckham) (Lab) [V]
- View Speech - Hansard - - - Excerpts

I beg to move, That the clause be read a Second time.

(Deputy) Speaker: With this it will be convenient to consider the following:

New clause 2—Kerb-crawling

‘(1) It is an offence for a person, from a motor vehicle while it is in a street or public place, or in a street or public place while in the immediate vicinity of a motor vehicle that they have just got out of, to engage in conduct which amounts to harassment in such manner or in such circumstances as to be likely to cause annoyance, alarm, distress, or nuisance to any other person.

(2) A person guilty of an offence under this section is liable on summary conviction to revocation of their driving licence, or a fine not exceeding level 3 on the standard scale, or both.

(3) In this section “motor vehicle ” has the same meaning as in the Road Traffic Act 1972.

(4) In this section “street” has the meaning given by section 1(4) of the Street Offences Act 1959.’

New clause 23—Child criminal exploitation

‘At end of section 3 of the Modern Slavery Act 2015 (meaning of exploitation), insert—

“Child criminal exploitation

(7) Another person manipulates, deceives, coerces or controls the person to undertake activity which constitutes a criminal offence and the person is under the age of 18.’

This new clause introduces a statutory definition of child criminal exploitation.

New clause 24—Registered sex offenders: change of name or identity—

‘(1) The Secretary of State must commission a review of how registered sex offenders are able to change their name or other aspects of their identity without the knowledge of the police with the intention of subverting the purpose of their registration.

(2) The review must consult persons with expertise in this issue, including—

(a) representatives of police officers responsible for sex offender management,

(b) Her Majesty’s Passport Office, and

(c) the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency.

(3) The scope of the review must include consideration of resources necessary for the long-term management of the issue of registered sex offenders changing their names or other aspects of their identity.

(4) The review must make recommendations for the long-term management of the issue of registered sex offenders changing their names or other aspects of their identity.

(5) The Secretary of State must report the findings of this review to Parliament within 12 months of the day on which this Act is passed.’

This new clause would ensure that the Secretary of State must publish a review into how registered sex offenders are changing their names or other aspects of their identity and propose solutions for how the Government aims to tackle this issue.

New clause 26—Reporting of sexual offences: public awareness—

‘Within six months of the passage of this Act, the Secretary of State must draw up and implement a campaign to improve public awareness of the desirability of reporting sexual offences, with particular reference to offences which may not be reported because they are not considered sufficiently serious.’

New clause 27—Code of practice on dealing with sexual offending—

‘(1) Within six months of the passage of this Act, the Secretary of State must issue a code of practice on dealing with sexual offending.

(2) The code must be issued to—

(a) all police forces in England and Wales,

(b) all local authorities in England and Wales,

(c) the National Probation Service,

(d) the Victims Commissioner and the Domestic Abuse Commissioner, and

(e) anyone else the Secretary of State considers appropriate.

(3) The code must contain provision designed to—

(a) improve public awareness of the desirability of reporting sexual offences, with particular reference to non-contact sexual offences, and

(b) achieve any other purpose the Secretary of State considers appropriate to deal with sexual offending.

(4) Before issuing a code under this section the Secretary of State must—

(a) publish proposals,

(b) consult such persons as the Secretary of State thinks appropriate, and

(c) lay a copy of the code before Parliament.’

New clause 28—Domestic homicide reviews—

(1) Section 9 of the Domestic Violence, Crime and Victims Act 2004 is amended as follows.

(2) For subsection (2) substitute—

“(2) The Secretary of State must in all cases which meet the circumstances set out in subsection (1) direct a specified person or body within subsection (4) to establish, or to participate in, a domestic homicide review.”

(3) After subsection (3) insert—

“(3ZA) The Secretary of State must by regulations set out—

(a) the type of data relating to domestic homicide reviews which must be recorded, including—

(i) the number of domestic homicide reviews taking place across England and Wales annually; and

(ii) the time taken to complete each individual domestic homicide review;

(b) that the data must be recorded centrally in a Home Office database; and

(c) that the data must be published annually.”’

This new clause seeks to modify the Domestic Violence, Crime and Victims Act 2004 to force the Secretary of State to automatically direct a domestic homicide review in circumstances as outlined in Section 9 of the Act. The new clause also aims to improve data collection methodologies around domestic homicide reviews.

New clause 29—The right to protest—

‘(1) The Public Order Act 1986 Part II (Processions and Assemblies) is amended as follows.

(2) Before section 11 insert—

“10A The right to protest

(1) Everyone has the right to engage in peaceful protest, both alone and with others.

(2) Public authorities have a duty to—

(a) respect the right to protest;

(b) protect the right to protest; and

(c) facilitate the right to protest.

(3) A public authority may only interfere with the right to protest, including by placing restrictions upon its exercise, when it is necessary and proportionate to do so to protect national security or public safety, prevent disorder or crime, protect public health or the rights and freedoms of others.

(4) For the purposes of this section “public authority” has the same meaning as in section 6 of the Human Rights Act 1998.”’

This new clause would introduce an express statutory right to protest, imposing both negative and positive obligations on public authorities whilst recognising that the right to protest may need to be limited to protect other legitimate public interests.

New clause 31—Offence of assaulting etc. retail worker—

‘(1) It is an offence for a person to assault, threaten or abuse another person—

(a) who is a retail worker, and

(b) who is engaged, at the time, in retail work.

(2) No offence is committed under subsection (1) unless the person who assaults, threatens or abuses knows or ought to know that the other person—

(a) who is a retail worker, and

(b) is engaged, at the time, in retail work.

(3) A person who commits an offence under subsection (1) is liable, on summary conviction, to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 12 months, a fine, or both.

(4) Evidence from a single source is sufficient to establish, for the purposes of this section—

(a) whether a person is a retail worker, and

(b) whether the person is engaged, at the time, in retail work.

(5) The offence under subsection (1) of threatening or abusing a retail worker is committed by a person only if the person—

(a) behaves in a threatening or abusive manner towards the worker, and

(b) intends by the behaviour to cause the worker or any other person fear or alarm or is reckless as to whether the behaviour would cause such fear or alarm.

(6) Subsection (5) applies to—

(a) behaviour of any kind including, in particular, things said or otherwise communicated as well as things done,

(b) behaviour consisting of—

(i) a single act, or

(ii) a course of conduct.

(7) Subsections (8) to (10) apply where, in proceedings for an offence under subsection (1), it is—

(a) specified in the complaint that the offence is aggravated by reason of the retail worker’s enforcing a statutory age restriction, and,

(b) proved that the offence is so aggravated.

(8) The offence is so aggravated if the behaviour constituting the offence occurred because of the enforcement of a statutory age restriction.

(9) Evidence from a single source is sufficient to prove that the offence is so aggravated.

(10) Where this section applies, the court must—

(a) state on conviction that the offence is so aggravated,

(b) record the conviction in a way that shows that the offence is so aggravated,

(c) take the aggravation into account in determining the appropriate sentence, and

(d) state—

(i) where the sentence imposed in respect of the offence is different from that which the court would have imposed if the offence were not so aggravated, the extent of and

the reasons for that difference, or

(ii) otherwise, the reasons for there being no such difference.

(11) In this section—

“enforcement”, in relation to a statutory age restriction, includes—

(a) seeking information as to a person’s age,

(b) considering information as to a person’s age,

(c) refusing to sell or supply goods or services,

for the purposes of complying with the restriction (and “enforcing” is to be construed accordingly),

“statutory age restriction” means a provision in an enactment making it an offence to sell or supply goods or services to a person under an age specified in that or another enactment.

(12) In this section, “retail worker”—

(a) means a person—

(i) whose usual place of work is retail premises, or

(ii) whose usual place of work is not retail premises but who does retail work,

(b) includes, in relation to a business that owns or occupies any premises in which the person works, a person who—

(i) is an employee of the business,

(ii) is an owner of the business, or

(iii) works in the premises under arrangements made between the business and another person for the provision of staff,

(c) also includes a person who delivers goods from retail premises.

(13) For the purposes of subsection (12), it is irrelevant whether or not the person receives payment for the work.

(14) In proceedings for an offence under subsection (1), it is not necessary for the prosecutor to prove that the person charged with the offence knew or ought to have known any matter falling within subsection (12)(b) in relation to the person against whom the offence is alleged to have been committed.

(15) In this section, “retail premises” means premises that are used wholly or mainly for the sale or supply of goods, on a retail basis, to members of the public.

(16) In this section, “retail work” means—

(a) in the case of a person whose usual place of work is retail premises, any work in those retail premises,

(b) in the case of a person whose usual place of work is not retail premises, work in connection with—

(i) the sale or supply of goods, on a retail basis, to members of the public, or

(ii) the sale or supply of services (including facilities for gambling) in respect of which a statutory age restriction applies,

(c) subject to subsection (17), in the case of a person who delivers goods from retail premises, work in connection with the sale or supply of goods, on a retail basis, to members of the public.

(17) A person who delivers goods from retail premises is doing retail work only during the period beginning when the person arrives at a place where delivery of goods is to be effected and ending when the person leaves that place (whether or not goods have been delivered).

(18) In this section, references to working in premises includes working on any land forming part of the premises.’

New clause 32—Assault due to enforcement of statutory age restriction—

‘(1) This section applies to an offence of common assault that is committed against a worker acting in the exercise of enforcing a statutory age restriction.

(2) This section applies where it is—

(a) specified in the complaint that the offence occurred because of the worker’s enforcing a statutory age restriction, and

(b) proved that the offence so occurred because of the enforcement of a statutory age restriction.

(3) A person guilty of an offence to which this section applies is liable on summary conviction, to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 12 months, or to a fine, or to both.

(4) In consequence of subsections (1) to (3), in section 39 of the Criminal Justice Act 1988 (which provides for common assault to be summary offences punishable with imprisonment for a term not exceeding 6 months)—

(a) insert—

“(3) Subsection (1) is subject to section [Assault due to enforcement of statutory age restriction] of the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Act (which makes provision for increased sentencing powers for offences of common assault committed against a worker acting in the exercise of enforcing statutory age restrictions).”

(5) In this section—

“enforcement”, in relation to a statutory age restriction, includes—

(a) seeking information as to a person’s age,

(b) considering information as to a person’s age,

(c) refusing to sell or supply goods or services,

for the purposes of complying with the restriction (and “enforcing” is to be construed accordingly),

“statutory age restriction” means a provision in an enactment making it an offence to sell or supply goods or services to a person under an age specified in that or another enactment.

(6) This section applies only in relation to offences committed on or after the day it comes into force.’

New clause 42—Offence of interference with access to or provision of abortion services—

‘(1) A person who is within a buffer zone and who interferes with any person’s decision to access, provide, or facilitate the provision of abortion services in that buffer zone is guilty of an offence

(2) A “buffer zone” means an area with a boundary which is 150 metres from any part of an abortion clinic or any access point to any building that contains an abortion clinic.

(3) For the purposes of subsection (1), “interferes with” means—

(a) seeks to influence; or

(b) persistently, continuously or repeatedly occupies; or

(c) impedes or threatens; or

(d) intimidates or harasses; or

(e) advises or persuades, attempts to advise or persuade, or otherwise expresses opinion; or

(f) informs or attempts to inform about abortion services by any means, including, without limitation, graphic, physical, verbal or written means; or

(g) sketches, photographs, records, stores, broadcasts, or transmits images, audio, likenesses or personal data of any person without express consent.

(4) A person guilty of an offence under subsection (1) is liable—

(a) in the first instance—

(i) on summary conviction, to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 6 months, or

(ii) to a fine not exceeding level 5 on the standard scale, or

(iii) to both; and

(b) on further instances—

(i) on conviction on indictment, to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 2 years, or to a fine, or to both; or

(ii) on summary conviction, to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 12 months, or to a fine, or to both.

(5) Nothing in this section applies to—

(a) anything done in the course of providing, or facilitating the provision of, abortion services in an abortion clinic,

(b) the operation of a camera if its coverage of persons accessing or attempting to access an abortion clinic is incidental and the camera or footage is not used for any of the purposes listed in subsection (3), and

(c) a police officer acting properly in the course of their duties.’

This new clause would introduce areas around abortion clinics and hospitals (buffer zones) where interference with, and intimidation or harassment of, women accessing or people providing abortion services would be an offence.

New clause 43—Implementation of the Law Commission review of hate crime—

‘(1) The Secretary of State may by regulations implement any recommendations of the Law Commission which relate to hatred based on sex and gender characteristics following the conclusion of its review of hate crime legislation.

(2) The power conferred by subsection (1) includes—

(a) power to amend primary legislation; and

(b) power to amend or revoke subordinate legislation.

(3) A document containing a draft of regulations under subsection (1) must be laid before Parliament not later than six months after the publication of the Law Commission’s recommendations, and that draft must be in a form which would implement all those recommendations which relate to hatred based on sex and gender characteristics.

(4) Draft regulations under subsection (1) must be laid before Parliament not earlier than 90 days, but not later than 180 days, after the document referred to in subsection (3) was laid before Parliament.

(5) The draft regulations laid before Parliament under subsection (4) must be in the form in which they appeared in the document laid before Parliament under subsection (3), except that they may contain any changes which have been recommended by any committee of either House of Parliament which has reported on that document.

(6) A Minister must make a motion in each House of Parliament approving the draft regulations laid before Parliament under subsection (4) within 14 days of the date on which they were laid.

(7) Subject to subsection (8), if the draft regulations are approved by both Houses of Parliament, the Secretary of State must make them in the form of the draft which has been approved.

(8) If any amendments to the draft regulations are agreed to by both Houses of Parliament, the Secretary of State must make the regulations in the form of the draft as so amended.’

This new clause would require the Secretary of State to implement any recommendations made by the Law Commission’s review of hate crime which relate to hatred based on sex and gender characteristics. Draft regulations implementing the Commission’s recommendations would be subject to the super-affirmative scrutiny process (by subsections (3) to (5)), and would be amendable (under subsection (8)).

New clause 44—Commercial sexual exploitation—

‘(1) A person (A) who gives, offers, or promises payment to any person to engage in sexual activity with a person (B) is guilty of an offence.

(2) For the purposes of subsection (1)—

(a) a “payment” includes money, a benefit, or any other consideration.

(b) an activity is sexual if a reasonable person would consider that—

(i) whatever its circumstances or any person’s purpose in relation to it, it is because of its nature sexual, or

(ii) because of its nature it may be sexual and because of its circumstances or the purpose of any person in relation to it (or both) it is sexual.

(c) no offence is committed by a person (A) unless the sexual activity with the other person (B) involves—

(i) the person (A) being in the other person (B)’s presence, and

(ii) the person (A) touching the other person (B), or

(iii) the person (B) touching themselves for the sexual gratification of the other person (A).

(d) it is immaterial whether the payment is given, offered, or promised by a person engaging in the sexual activity, or a third party.

(3) A person guilty of an offence under this section is liable—

(a) on summary conviction, to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 6 months or a fine not exceeding the statutory maximum or both;

(b) on conviction on indictment, to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 10 years.’

This new clause criminalises buying sex and decriminalises anyone offering sexual services.

New clause 45—Commercial sexual exploitation by a third party—

‘(1) A person commits an offence if—

(a) the person (C) assists, facilitates, controls, or incites, by any means, another person (B) to engage in sexual activity with another person (A) in exchange for payment, anywhere in the world; and

(b) the circumstances are that—

(i) the person (C) knows or ought to know that the other person (B) is engaging in sexual activity for payment; and

(ii) the person (C) assists, facilitates, controls, or incites the other person (B) to engage in sexual activity with another person (A) with the intention of receiving payment.

(c) Subsection (1) of this section is to be construed in accordance with section [Commercial sexual exploitation].

(2) A person guilty of an offence under this section is liable—

(a) on summary conviction, to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 6 months or a fine not exceeding the statutory maximum or both;

(b) on conviction on indictment, to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 10 years.’

This new clause criminalises pimping.

New clause 46—Advertising—

‘(1) A person commits an offence if the person causes or allows to be displayed or published, including digitally, any advertisement in respect of activity prohibited by sections [Commercial sexual exploitation] and [Commercial sexual exploitation by a third party] of this Act.

(2) A person guilty of an offence under this section is liable—

(a) on summary conviction, to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 6 months or a fine not exceeding the statutory maximum or both;

(b) on conviction on indictment, to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 10 years.’

This new clause criminalises those who benefit from the advertising of sexual services. This includes ‘pimping websites’.

New clause 47—Extra-territoriality—

‘(1) A person who is a UK national commits an offence under sections [Commercial sexual exploitation] to [Advertising] of this Act regardless of where the offence takes place.

(2) A person who is not a UK national commits an offence—

(a) under sections [Commercial sexual exploitation] to [Advertising] of this Act if any part of the offence takes place in the UK, and

(b) under section [Advertising] of this Act if any person in the UK pays money to any other person as a result or through the advertisement published or displayed.’

This new clause allows criminal prosecutions for acts contravening the relevant sections whether they occur within or outside the United Kingdom.

New clause 48—Immunity of victims—

‘(1) A person (B), by reason of their involvement as a victim of an offence under sections [Commercial sexual exploitation] to [Advertising] of this Act by another person (A) does not commit an offence by doing anything which (apart from this paragraph) would amount to—

(a) aiding, abetting, counselling, or procuring the commission of an offence under sections [Commercial sexual exploitation] to [Advertising] of this Act by the other person (A);

(b) conspiring with the other person (A) to commit an offence under sections [Commercial sexual exploitation] to [Advertising] of this Act; or

(c) an offence under Part 2 of the Serious Crime Act 2007 (encouraging or assisting offences) in relation to the commission of an offence under sections [Commercial sexual exploitation] to [Advertising]of this Act by the other person (A); or

(d) an offence under section [Advertising] of this Act.

(2) In this section it is immaterial whether the other person has been convicted of an offence.’

This new clause ensures that those subject to commercial sexual exploitation do not find themselves criminalised by having ‘assisted’ the person buying sexual services.

New clause 49—Power of Secretary of State to disregard convictions or cautions—

‘Section 92 of the Protection from Freedoms Act 2012 is replaced as follows.

92 Power of Secretary of State to disregard convictions or cautions

(1) A person who has been convicted of, or cautioned for, an offence under—

(a) section 12 of the Sexual Offences Act 1956 (buggery),

(b) section 13 of that Act (gross indecency between men), or

(c) section 61 of the Offences against the Person Act 1861 or section 11 of the Criminal Law Amendment Act 1885 (corresponding earlier offences), may apply to the Secretary of State for the conviction or caution to become a disregarded conviction or caution.

(2) A person who has been convicted of, or cautioned for, an offence under section 1 of the Street Offences Act 1959, may apply to the Secretary of State for the conviction or caution to become a disregarded conviction or caution.

(3) A conviction or caution becomes a disregarded conviction or caution when conditions A and B are met.

(4) For the purposes of subsection (1), condition A is that the Secretary of State decides that it appears that—

(a) the other person involved in the conduct constituting the offence consented to it and was aged 16 or over, and

(b) any such conduct now would not be an offence under section 71 of the Sexual Offences Act 2003 (sexual activity in a public lavatory).

(5) For the purposes of subsection (2), condition A is that the Secretary of State decides that it appears that any such conduct now would not be an offence under sections [Commercial sexual exploitation] and [Commercial sexual exploitation by a third party] of the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Act 2021.

(6) Condition B is that—

(a) the Secretary of State has given notice of the decision to the applicant under section 94(4)(b), and

(b) the period of 14 days beginning with the day on which the notice was given has ended.

(7) Sections 95 to 98 explain the effect of a conviction or caution becoming a disregarded conviction or caution.”’

This new clause permits those who as a result of exploitation have convictions for soliciting, to have their conviction disregarded.

New clause 50—Repeals—

‘The enactments specified in the following Table are repealed to the extent specified in column 2 of the Table.

TABLE

Short title and chapter

Extent of repeal

Sexual Offences Act 1956 (c. 59)

Sections 33 to 36

Street Offences Act 1959 (c. 57)

The whole Act

Sexual Offences Act 1967 (c. 60)

Section 6

Criminal Justice and Police Act 2001 (c. 16)

Section 46

Sexual Offences Act 2003 (c. 42)

Sections 51A to 56

Policing and Crime Act 2009 (c. 26)

Section 14 and 16 to 19’



New clause 51—Review of crime against Gypsy, Roma and Traveller communities—

‘(1) The Secretary of State must undertake a review of the prevention, investigation and prosecution of crime against Gypsy, Roma and Traveller communities.

(2) The review must have particular regard to the prevention, investigation and prosecution of hate crime against those communities.

(3) A report of the review must be laid before Parliament within six months of the passage of this Act.’

New clause 52—Training for relevant public officials in relation to Gypsy, Roma and Traveller communities—

‘(1) The Secretary of State must, on this Act coming into force, publish and implement a strategy to provide training to—

(a) the Crown Prosecution Service,

(b) police forces,

(c) the judiciary, and

(d) such other public bodies as the Secretary of State considers appropriate on the investigation of crimes against people from Gypsy, Roma and Traveller backgrounds.

(2) The strategy must include provision to improve the accessibility to people from those backgrounds of means of reporting crime against them.’

New clause 55—Amendment of criminal law in relation to termination of pregnancy—

‘(1) Sections 58 (administering drugs or using instruments to procure abortion) and 59 (procuring drugs, &c. to cause abortion) of the Offences Against the Person Act 1861 are repealed.

(2) After section 59 of the Offences Against the Person Act 1861 insert—

“59A Non-consensual termination of pregnancy

(1) A person (A) commits an offence if—

(a) in relation to a woman (B) A commits any unlawful act involving the use or threat of force, or the administration of any substance capable of causing abortion,

(b) A believes that B is pregnant or is reckless as to whether she is pregnant, and

(c) A intends to cause B’s abortion or is reckless as to whether her abortion results.

(2) For the purposes of subsection (1)—

(a) an act done by, or with the informed consent or assistance of B, or done in good faith by a registered medical practitioner, registered nurse or registered midwife, is not to be considered unlawful,

(b) but B is not to be treated as consenting to the administration of a substance unless she is aware of its nature as a substance capable of causing abortion.

(3) A person guilty of an offence under subsection (1) is liable on conviction on indictment to imprisonment for life or for any shorter term.”

(3) No offence is committed under section 1 of the Infant Life (Preservation) Act 1929 by—

(a) a woman who terminates her own pregnancy or who assists in or consents to such termination, or

(b) a registered medical practitioner, registered nurse or registered midwife acting in good faith.’

The new clause would decriminalise abortion and create a new offence of non-consensual termination of pregnancy, which would include the example where a woman’s abusive partner intentionally or recklessly caused her abortion through abusive behaviour.

New clause 56—Review of stop and search powers—

‘(1) The Secretary of State must undertake a review of police stop and search powers.

(2) The review must consider—

(a) the effectiveness of the use of those powers in the reduction of crime, and

(b) the impact of the use of the powers on policing in Black and minority ethnic communities.

(3) A report of the review must be laid before Parliament within six months of the passage of this Act.’

New clause 57—Public inquiry into the prevention, investigation and prosecution of crimes as they affect Black, Asian and minority ethnic people—

‘Within six months of the passage of this Act, the Secretary of State must cause an inquiry to be held under the Inquiries Act 2005 into the prevention, investigation and prosecution of crime as they affect Black, Asian and minority ethnic people.’

New clause 58—Extraction of information from electronic devices—

‘(1) Subject to Conditions A to D below, insofar as applicable, an authorised person may extract information stored on an electronic device from that device if—

(a) a user of the device has voluntarily provided the device to an authorised person, and

(b) that user has agreed to the extraction of specified information from the device by an authorised person.

(2) Condition A for the exercise of the power in subsection (1) is that it may be exercised only for the purposes of—

(a) preventing, detecting, investigating or prosecuting an offence,

(b) helping to locate a missing person, or

(c) protecting a child or an at-risk adult from neglect or physical, mental or emotional harm.

(3) For the purposes of subsection (2) an adult is an at-risk adult if the authorised person reasonably believes that the adult—

(a) is experiencing, or at risk of, neglect or physical, mental or emotional harm, and

(b) is unable to protect themselves against the neglect or harm or the risk of it.

(4) Condition B for the exercise of the power in subsection (1) is that the power may only be exercised if—

(a) the authorised person reasonably believes that information stored on the electronic device is relevant to a purpose within subsection (2) for which the authorised person may exercise the power, and

(b) the authorised person is satisfied that exercise of the power is strictly necessary and proportionate to achieve that purpose.

(5) For the purposes of subsection (4)(a), information is relevant for the purposes within subsection (2)(a) in circumstances where the information is relevant to a reasonable line of enquiry.

(6) Condition C as set out in subsection (7) applies if the authorised person thinks that, in exercising the power, there is a risk of obtaining information other than information necessary for a purpose within subsection (2) for which the authorised person may exercise the power.

(7) Condition C is that the authorised person must, to be satisfied that the exercise of the power in the circumstances set out in subsection (6) is strictly necessary and proportionate, be satisfied that there are no other less intrusive means available of obtaining the information sought by the authorised person which avoid that risk

(8) Condition D is that an authorised person must have regard to the code of practice for the time being in force under section [Code of practice] in accordance with section [Effect of code of practice] below.

(9) This section does not affect any power relating to the extraction or production of information, or any power to seize any item or obtain any information, conferred by or under an enactment.

(10) In this section and section [Application of section [Extraction of information from electronic devices] to children and adults without capacity]—

“adult” means a person aged 18 or over;

“authorised person” means a person specified in subsection (1) of section [Application of section [Extraction of information from electronic devices] to children and adults without capacity] (subject to subsection (2) of that section);

“child” means a person aged under 18;

“agreement” means that the user has confirmed explicitly and unambiguously in writing that they agree—

(a) to provide their device, and

(b) to the extraction of specified data from that device.

Such an explicit written confirmation can only constitute agreement for these purposes if, in accordance with the Code of Practice issued pursuant to section [Effect of code of practice], the user—

(i) has been provided with appropriate information and guidance about why the extraction is considered strictly necessary (including, where relevant, the identification of the reasonable line of enquiring relied upon);

(ii) has been provided with appropriate information as to (a) how the data will or will not be used in accordance with the authorised person’s legal obligations and (b) any potential

consequences arising from their decision;

(iii) has confirmed their agreement in the absence of any inappropriate pressure or coercion;

“electronic device” means any device on which information is capable of being stored electronically and includes any component of such a device;

“enactment” includes—

(a) an Act of the Scottish Parliament,

(b) an Act or Measure of Senedd Cymru, and

(c) Northern Ireland legislation;

“information” includes moving or still images and sounds;

“offence” means an offence under the law of any part of the United Kingdom;

“user”, in relation to an electronic device, means a person who ordinarily uses the device.

(11) References in this section and sections [Application of section [Extraction of information from electronic devices] to children and adults without capacity] to the extraction of information include its reproduction in any form.

(12) This section is subject to sections [Application of section [Extraction of information from electronic devices] to children and adults without capacity] and [Application of section [Extraction of information from electronic devices] where user has died etc].’

New clause 59—Application of section [Extraction of information from electronic devices] to children and adults without capacity—

‘(1) A child is not to be treated for the purposes of subsection (1) of section [Extraction of information from electronic devices] as being capable of—

(a) voluntarily providing an electronic device to an authorised person for those purposes, or

(b) agreeing for those purposes to the extraction of information from the device by an authorised person.

(2) If a child is a user of an electronic device, a person who is not a user of the device but is listed in subsection (3) may—

(a) voluntarily provide the device to an authorised person for the purposes of subsection (1) of section [Extraction of information from electronic devices], and

(b) agreement for those purposes to the extraction of information from the device by an authorised person.

(3) The persons mentioned in subsection (2) are—

(a) the child’s parent or guardian or, if the child is in the care of a relevant authority or voluntary organisation, a person representing that authority or organisation,

(b) a registered social worker, or

(c) if no person falling within paragraph (a) or (b) is available, any responsible person aged 18 or over other than an authorised person.

(4) The agreement of persons listed in subsection (3) further to subsection 2(b) should only be accepted where, if it is appropriate, the child has been consulted on whether such agreement should be provided and the authorised person is satisfied those views have been taken into account.

(5) An adult without capacity is not to be treated for the purposes of section [Extraction of information from electronic devices] as being capable of—

(a) voluntarily providing an electronic device to an authorised person for those purposes, or

(b) agreeing for those purposes to the extraction of information from the device by an authorised person.

(6) If a user of an electronic device is an adult without capacity, a person who is not a user of the device but is listed in subsection (7) may—

(a) voluntarily provide the device to an authorised person for the purposes of subsection (1) of section [Extraction of information from electronic devices], and

(b) agreement for those purposes to the extraction of information from the device by an authorised person.

(7) The persons mentioned in subsection (6) are—

(a) a parent or guardian of the adult without capacity,

(b) a registered social worker,

(c) a person who has a power of attorney in relation to the adult without capacity, or

(d) if no person falling within paragraph (a), (b) or (c) is available, any responsible person aged 18 other than an authorised person.

(8) The agreement of persons listed in subsection (7) further to subsection (6)(b) should only be accepted where, if it is appropriate, the adult without capacity has been consulted on whether such agreement should be provided and the authorised person is satisfied those views have been taken into account.

(9) Nothing in this section prevents any other user of an electronic device who is not a child or an adult without capacity from—

(a) voluntarily providing the device to an authorised person for the purposes of subsection (1) of section [Extraction of information from electronic devices], or

(b) agreeing for those purposes to the extraction of information from the device by an authorised person.

(10) In this section and section [Application of section [Extraction of information from electronic devices] where user has died etc]—

“adult without capacity” means an adult who, by reason of any impairment of their physical or mental condition, is incapable of making decisions for the purposes of subsection (1) of section [Extraction of information from electronic devices];

“local authority”—

(a) in relation to England, means a county council, a district council for an area for which there is no county council, a London borough council or the Common Council of the City of London,

(b) in relation to Wales, means a county council or a county borough council, and

(c) in relation to Scotland, means a council constituted under section 2 of the Local Government etc (Scotland) Act 1994;

“registered social worker” means a person registered as a social worker in a register maintained by—

(a) Social Work England,

(b) the Care Council for Wales,

(c) the Scottish Social Services Council, or

(d) the Northern Ireland Social Care Council;

“relevant authority”—

(a) in relation to England and Wales and Scotland, means a local authority;

(b) in relation to Northern Ireland, means an authority within the meaning of the Children (Northern Ireland) Order 1995 (S.I. 1995/755 (N.I. 2));

“voluntary organisation”—

(a) in relation to England and Wales and Scotland, has the same meaning as in the Children Act 1989;

(b) in relation to Northern Ireland, has the same meaning as in the Children (Northern Ireland) Order 1995.

(11) Subsections (10) and (11) of section [Extraction of information from electronic devices] also contain definitions for the purposes of this section.’

New clause 60—Application of section [Extraction of information from electronic devices] where user has died etc—

‘(1) If any of conditions A to C is met, an authorised person may exercise the power in subsection (1) of section [Extraction of information from electronic devices] to extract information stored on an electronic device from that device even though—

(a) the device has not been voluntarily provided to an authorised person by a user of the device, or

(b) no user of the device has agreed to the extraction of information from the device by an authorised person.

(2) Condition A is that—

(a) a person who was a user of the electronic device has died, and

(b) the person was a user of the device immediately before their death.

(3) Condition B is that—

(a) a user of the electronic device is a child or an adult without capacity, and

(b) an authorised person reasonably believes that the user’s life is at risk or there is a risk of serious harm to the user.

(4) Condition C is that—

(a) a person who was a user of the electronic device is missing,

(b) the person was a user of the device immediately before they went missing, and

(c) an authorised person reasonably believes that the person’s life is at risk or there is a risk of serious harm to the person.

(5) The exercise of the power in subsection (1) of section [Extraction of information from electronic devices] by virtue of this section is subject to subsections (2) to (8) of that section.

(6) Subsections (10) and (11) of section [Extraction of information from electronic devices] and subsection (9) of section [Application of section [Extraction of information from electronic devices] to children and adults without capacity] contain definitions for the purposes of this section.’

New clause 61—Code of practice—

‘(1) The Secretary of State must prepare a code of practice containing guidance about the exercise of the power in subsection (1) of section [Extraction of information from electronic devices].

(2) In preparing the code, the Secretary of State must consult—

(a) the Information Commissioner,

(b) the Scottish Ministers,

(c) the Welsh Government,

(d) the Department of Justice in Northern Ireland,

(e) the Victims Commissioner,

(f) the Domestic Abuse Commissioner,

(g) any regional Victims Champion including the London Victims Commissioner,

(h) persons who appear to the Secretary of State to represent the interests of victims, witnesses and other individuals likely to be affected by the use of the power granted in subsection (1) of section [Extraction of information from electronic devices], and

(i) such other persons as the Secretary of State considers appropriate.

(3) After preparing the code, the Secretary of State must lay it before Parliament and publish it.

(4) The code is to be brought into force by regulations made by statutory instrument.

(5) The code must address, amongst other matters—

(a) the procedure by which an authorised person must obtain and record confirmation that a device has been provided voluntarily;

(b) the procedure by which an authorised person must obtain and record confirmation that agreement has been provided for the extraction of specified information, including the information which must be provided to the user about—

(i) how long the device will be retained;

(ii) what specific information is to be extracted from the device and why, including the identification of the reasonable line of enquiry to be pursued and the scope of information which will be extracted, reviewed and/or retained;

(iii) how the extracted information will be kept secure;

(iv) how the extracted information will or may be used in a criminal process;

(v) how they can be kept informed about who their information is to be shared with and the use of their information in the criminal process;

(vi) their right to refuse to agree to provide their device and/ or to the proposed extraction in whole or in part and the potential consequences of that refusal; and

(vii) the circumstances in which a further extraction may be required, and what will happen to the information after the case has been considered;

(c) the different types of extraction processes available, and the parameters which should be considered in defining the scope of any proposed extraction from a user’s device;

(d) the circumstances in which the extraction of information should and should not be considered strictly necessary and proportionate;

(e) the considerations to be taken into account in determining whether there are less intrusive alternatives available to extraction for the purposes of subsection (7) of section [Extraction of information from electronic devices];

(f) the process by which the authorised person should identify and delete data which is not responsive to a reasonable line of enquiry and/or has been assessed as not relevant to the purposes for which the extraction was conducted; and

(g) the records which must be maintained documenting for each extraction or proposed extraction, including—

(i) the specific information to be extracted;

(ii) the reasonable lines of enquiry pursued;

(iii) the basis upon which the extraction is considered strictly necessary, including any alternatives considered and why they were not pursued;

(iv) confirmation that appropriate information was provided to the user and, if applicable, agreement obtained;

(v) the reasons why the user was not willing to agree to a proposed extraction.

(6) A statutory instrument containing regulations under subsection (4) is subject to annulment in pursuance of a resolution of either House of Parliament.

(7) After the code has come into force the Secretary of State may from time to time revise it.

(8) References in subsections (2) to (7) to the code include a revised code.’

New clause 62—Effect of code of practice—

‘(1) An authorised person must in the exercise of the power granted under section [Extraction of information from electronic devices] have regard to the code of practice issued under section [Code of practice] in deciding whether to exercise, or in the exercise of that power.

(2) A failure on the part of any person to comply with any provision of a code of practice for the time being in force under section [Code of practice] shall not of itself render him liable to any criminal or civil proceedings.

(3) A code of practice in force at any time under section [Code of practice] shall be admissible in evidence in any criminal or civil proceedings.

(4) In all criminal and civil proceedings any code in force under section [Code of practice] shall be admissible in evidence; and if any provision of the code appears to the court or tribunal conducting the proceedings to be relevant to any question arising in the proceedings it shall be taken into account in determining that question.’

New clause 63—Duties to collaborate and plan to prevent and reduce child criminal exploitation and safeguard affected children—

‘(1) The specified authorities for a local government area must collaborate with each other to prevent and reduce child criminal exploitation in the area and safeguard affected children.

(2) The duty imposed on the specified authorities for a local government area by subsection (1) includes a duty to plan together to exercise their functions so as to prevent and reduce child criminal exploitation in the area and safeguard affected children.

(3) In particular, the specified authorities for a local government area must—

(a) identify the kinds of child criminal exploitation that occur in the area,

(b) identify the causes of child criminal exploitation in the area, so far as it is possible to do so, and

(c) prepare and implement a strategy for exercising their functions to prevent and reduce child criminal exploitation and safeguard affected children in the area.

(4) In preparing a strategy under this section for a local government area, the specified authorities for the area must ensure that the following are consulted—

(a) each educational authority for the area;

(b) each prison authority for the area;

(c) each youth custody authority for the area.

(5) A strategy under this section for a local government area may specify an action to be carried out by—

(a) an educational authority for the area,

(b) a prison authority for the area, or

(c) a youth custody authority for the area.

(6) Once a strategy has been prepared under this section for a local government area, the specified authorities for the area must—

(a) keep the strategy under review, and

(b) every two years, prepare and implement a revised strategy.

(7) A strategy prepared under this section may be combined with a strategy prepared in accordance with section 7 (Duties to collaborate and plan to prevent and reduce serious violence) or section 8 (Powers to collaborate and plan to prevent and reduce serious violence).

(8) For the purposes of this section, “child criminal exploitation” means activity which would constitute an offence under section [Child criminal exploitation] of this Act.’

New clause 64—Scrutiny of timeliness of investigations of complaints against police and allegations of police misconduct—

‘(1) The Police (Conduct) Regulations 2020 are amended by the insertion of the following regulation after regulation 19—

“Scrutiny of investigation timeliness

19A (1) A legally qualified person within the meaning of regulation 28(4)(a) and (6) shall be appointed to scrutinise the information provided pursuant to regulation 19.

(2) On each occasion where information is provided in writing under regulation 19(1) the legally qualified person appointed under paragraph (1) shall determine whether there is good and sufficient reason for the time—

(a) already taken; and

(b) realistically anticipated to be needed for completion of the investigation.

(3) In determining whether there is good and sufficient reason under paragraph (2) the legally qualified person may have regard to any relevant matter, and shall have particular regard to—

(a) whether the investigation has been efficient and effective;

(b) whether there has been unnecessary or unreasonable delay having regard to complexity and seriousness of the case;

(c) the impact upon the officer and others;

(d) any anticipated further delay;

(e) the public interest and affect upon confidence in the police disciplinary system; and

(f) representations made on behalf of any person entitled to receive a copy of the information provided under regulation 19.

(4) Unless the legally qualified person determines that there is good and sufficient reason under paragraph (2)(a) and (b) then—

(a) all investigation into possible misconduct or gross misconduct shall be terminated forthwith; and

(b) no disciplinary proceedings may be initiated in respect of the matters under investigation.

(5) Nothing in this provision shall have any effect in relation to any criminal investigation.”

(2) The Police (Complaints and Misconduct) Regulations 2020 are amended by the insertion of the following regulation after regulation 13—

“Scrutiny of investigation timeliness

13A (1) A legally qualified person within the meaning of regulation 28(4)(a) and (6) of the Police (Conduct) Regulations 2020 shall be appointed to scrutinise the information provided pursuant to regulation 13.

(2) On each occasion where information is provided in writing under regulation 13 paragraph (1) or (2) the legally qualified person appointed under paragraph (1) shall determine whether there is good and sufficient reason for the time—

(a) already taken; and

(b) realistically anticipated to be needed for completion of the investigation.

(3) In determining whether there is good and sufficient reason under paragraph (2) the legally qualified person may have regard to any relevant matter, and shall have particular regard to—

(a) whether the investigation has been efficient and effective;

(b) whether there has been unnecessary or unreasonable delay having regard to complexity and seriousness of the case;

(c) the impact upon the officer and others;

(d) any anticipated further delay;

(e) the public interest and affect upon confidence in the police disciplinary system; and

(f) representations made on behalf of any person entitled to receive a copy of the information provided under regulation 13.

(4) Unless the legally qualified person determines that there is good and sufficient reason under paragraph (2)(a) and (b) then—

(a) all investigation into possible misconduct or gross misconduct shall be terminated forthwith; and

(b) no disciplinary proceedings may be initiated in respect of the matters under investigation.

(5) Nothing in this provision shall have any effect in relation to any criminal investigation.”’

New clause 65—Public inquiry into the policing of protests—

‘Within six months of the passage of this Act, the Secretary of State must cause an inquiry to be held under the Inquiries Act 2005 into the prevention, investigation and prosecution of crime in relation to the policing of protests, including the use of force, use of kettling and use of police horses.’

New clause 66—Air weapons

‘(1) Within three months of the date on which this Act is passed, the Secretary of State must publish a report on the safety of air weapons.

(2) The report must include an assessment of the evidence submitted to the review of air weapons regulation announced on 10 October 2017.

(3) So far as possible without contravening any provision of legislation relating to data protection, the report must publish the evidence referred to in subsection (3).’

This new clause would require the government to publish a report on the safety of air weapons that includes the evidence gathered as part of the Air Weapons Review 2017.

New clause 67—Prohibition of air weapons on private land for those under the age of 18—

‘(1) Section 23 of the Firearms Act 1968 is amended in accordance with subsections (2) to (3).

(2) Omit subsection (1).

(3) Omit subsection (3).’

This new clause would amend the Firearms Act 1968 to prevent a person under the age of 18 from having an air gun on private land other than as part of a sporting club.

New clause 68—Sections 55 to 61: commencement—

‘(1) The Secretary of State may exercise the power in section 176(1) so as to bring sections 55 to 61 into force only if condition A and, thereafter, condition B are met.

(2) Condition A is that a general election has taken place subsequent to the passage of this Act.

(3) Condition B is that both Houses of Parliament have by resolution approved the coming into force of those sections.’

New clause 69—Time limits for prosecutions for common assault in domestic abuse cases—

‘(1) The Criminal Justice Act 1988 is amended as follows.

(2) At the end of section 39 add—

“(3) Subject to subsection (4) below, summary proceedings for an offence of common assault or battery involving domestic abuse may be brought within a period of six months from the date on which a report of the offence was made to the police.”

(4) No such proceedings shall be brought by virtue of this section more than two years after the commission of the offence.

(5) For the purposes of this section ‘domestic abuse’ has the same meaning as in section 1 of the Domestic Abuse Act 2021.”’

This new clause seeks to extend the existing six month time limit for common assault in cases of domestic abuse.

New clause 70—Police driving—

(1) When a vehicle is being used for a policing purpose, the driver may depart from the standard of the careful and competent driver (or cause another to do so), or depart from the direction of any mandatory road traffic sign, if and only if—

(a) driving the vehicle in accordance with road traffic regulations or relevant policy would be likely to hinder the use of that vehicle for the purpose for which it is being used,

(b) any such departure is reasonable in the circumstances as the responder reasonably believed them to be, and

(c) the departure was proportionate to the circumstances as the responder reasonably believed them to be.

(2) In deciding whether the departure was reasonable, the following should be taken into account, insofar as relevant—

(a) any training received by the driver;

(b) any applicable policy of the police force of which the driver is a member;

(c) that a driver reacting to circumstances as they occur may not be able to judge to a nicety the exact measure of any necessary action required;

(d) evidence of a driver having only done what the driver honestly and instinctively thought was necessary in the circumstances constitutes strong evidence that any departure from the relevant standard was reasonable.’

New clause 71—Intentional harassment, alarm or distress—

‘(1) Section 4A of the Public Order Act 1986 is amended as follows.

(2) In subsection (1)(a) leave out “, abusive or insulting” and insert “or abusive”.

(3) In subsection (1)(b) leave out “, abusive or insulting” and insert “or abusive”.’

New clause 72—Criminalising commercial squatting and squatting on land—

‘(1) Section 144 of the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012 is amended as follows.

(2) In the heading, after “in”, leave out “a residential building” and insert “buildings and on land”.

(3) In subsection (1)(a) after “a”, leave out “residential”, and after “building”, insert “or on land”.

(4) In subsection (1)(c) after “building”, insert “or on the land”.

(5) In subsection (2) after “building”, add “or land”.

(6) Leave out subsection (3)(b) and insert “Land has the meaning defined in section 205(1)(ix) of the Law of Property Act 1925.

(7) In subsection (7) after “building”, insert “or land”.

(8) In subsection (8) (a) after “squatting in” leave out “a residential building” and insert “buildings and on land”.’

New clause 84—Non-crime hate incidents not to be recorded on the national police database etc—

‘Non-crime hate incidents are prohibited from being:

(1) recorded on the National Police Database;

(2) kept as a record by police forces against any individual’s name in any way; or

(3) included in any enhanced Disclosure and Barring Service check.’

New clause 85—Code for policing of protest—

‘(1) The Secretary of State must produce a Code for the Policing of Protest (“the Code”).

(2) The Code must set out the how relevant police powers must be used and relevant police duties discharged in accordance with both the domestic law and international law obligations imposed under the right to protest, including—

(a) the duty to facilitate peaceful protest unless not to do so is in accordance with the relevant law, and

(b) the duty to refrain from interfering with peaceful protest except where to do so is in accordance with the relevant law.

(3) In this section—

(a) the “right to protest” includes all domestic and international law rights which provide for the right to protest, and

(b) references to “domestic and international law” include but are not limited to the European Convention of Human Rights and associated jurisprudence.

(4) Any person or organisation exercising a power or duty which relates to protest or public order must act in accordance with the Code.’

New clause 90—Offence of assaulting etc. a person providing a service to the public—

‘(1) It is an offence for a person to assault, threaten or abuse another person who is providing a service to the public.

(2) No offence is committed under subsection (1) unless the person who assaults, threatens or abuses knows or ought to know that the other person is providing a service to the public.

(3) A person who commits an offence under subsection (1) is liable, on summary conviction, to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 12 months, a fine, or both.

(4) Evidence from a single source is sufficient to establish, for the purposes of this section, whether a person is providing a service to the public.

(5) The offence under subsection (1) of threatening or abusing a person who is providing a service to the public (A) is committed by a person (B) only if B—

(a) behaves in a threatening or abusive manner towards A, and

(b) intends by the behaviour to cause A or any other person fear or alarm or is reckless as to whether the behaviour would cause such fear or alarm.

(6) Subsection (5) applies to—

(a) behaviour of any kind including, in particular, things said or otherwise communicated as well as things done,

(b) behaviour consisting of—

(i) a single act, or

(ii) a course of conduct.

(7) The Secretary of State must by regulations define “providing a service to the public” for the purposes of this section.’

New clause 91—Review of the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971—

‘(1) The Secretary of State must conduct a review of the criminal offences in the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971.

(2) In undertaking the review, the Secretary of State must consult—

(a) the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs;

(b) the Scottish Ministers;

(c) the Welsh Ministers;

(d) the Northern Ireland Department of Health, and

(e) any other person the Secretary of State considers appropriate.

(3) The Secretary of State must, before the end of the period of 9 months beginning with the day on which this Act comes into force, lay before Parliament a report on the review, including any proposals for legislative change.’

This new clause would require the Secretary of State to undertake a review of the criminal offences set out in the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971.

New clause 101—Training for relevant public officials in relation to the conduct of cases involving modern slavery and child criminal exploitation—

‘(1) The Secretary of State shall, on this Act coming into force, publish and implement a strategy to provide a framework for training on the investigation of cases involving modern slavery and child criminal exploitation complainants for—

(a) the Crown Prosecution Service;

(b) Police Forces;

(c) the Judiciary; and

(d) such other public bodies as the Secretary of State considers appropriate.

(2) The Secretary of State shall ensure that any judge who is asked to hear a trial where the accused’s charges include modern slavery offences and child criminal exploitation offences has attended and completed a training programme for such trials which has been accredited by the Judicial College and College of Policing or through a recognised training provider or non-governmental organisation.’

This new clause ensures that all criminal justice agencies shall attend a trained programme on modern slavery and child criminal exploitation from accredited Judicial College and College of Policing or a recognised training provider or non-governmental organisation.

New clause 102—Duty of local authorities to provide sites for Gypsies, Roma and Travellers—

‘(1) It is the duty of every local authority to exercise their powers under section 24 of the Caravan Sites and Control of Development Act 1960 (provision of caravan sites) so as to provide adequate accommodation for Gypsies, Roma and Travellers residing in or resorting to their area.

(2) The Minister may, if at any time it appears to them to be necessary to do so, give directions to any such local authority requiring them to provide such sites or additional sites for the accommodation of such numbers of caravans as may be specified in the directions.’

This new clause would reintroduce a statutory duty to require that local authorities provide authorised sites for the Gypsy, Roma and Traveller community.

Amendment 25, in clause 1, page 2, line 3, after “workforce,” insert

“including the impact of working with traumatised survivors on officers’ wellbeing and morale,”.

This amendment aims to ensure the police covenant report, when addressing the health and well-being of members and formers members of the police workforce, also addresses the specific impact working with traumatised survivors, such as survivors of child sexual abuse, has on officers’ wellbeing and morale.

Government amendments 32 and 33.

Amendment 64, page 2, line 42, at end insert—

“(aa) members of the British Transport Police,

(ab) members of the Civil Nuclear Constabulary,

(ac) members of the Ministry of Defence police,”.

Government amendment 34.

Amendment 47, in clause 2, page 3, line 30, at end insert—

“(3) In section 3 of the Assaults on Emergency Workers (Offences) Act 2018 (meaning of “emergency worker”), in paragraph (1)(e) omit “of a corresponding kind to those carried out by a prison officer”.”

This amendment would expand the definition of “emergency worker” to include all prison staff, not just prison officers and those carrying out functions of a corresponding kind to those of a prison officer.

Government amendments 35 to 39.

Amendment 97, page 7, line 38, leave out clause 7.

Amendment 73, in clause 7, page 7, line 40, after “violence”, insert—

“and safeguard children involved in serious violence”.

This amendment, together with amendments 74, 75, 78, 79, 80, 81, 83 and 84 would ensure specified authorities involved in the ‘serious violence duty’ safeguard children at risk of or experiencing from harm.

Amendment 74, page 8, line 3, after “violence”, insert—

“and safeguard children involved in serious violence”.

See explanatory statement to amendment 73.

Amendment 75, page 8, line 9, at end insert—

“(d) safeguard children involved in serious violence in the area, and

(e) identify and safeguard children who are involved in serious violence in the area as a result of being a victim of modern slavery and trafficking offences under the Modern Slavery Act 2015.”.

See explanatory statement to amendment 73.

Amendment 87, page 8, line 9, at end insert—

“(d) prepare and implement an early help strategy to prevent violence and support child victims of violence and prevent hidden harm.”.

This amendment would add a duty on specified authorities to prepared and implement an early help strategy.

Amendment 88, page 8, line 15, at end insert—

“(d) any children’s social care authority for the area which is not a specified authority for the area.”.

This amendment would ensure that any children’s social care authority which was not already involved in the strategy would be consulted in the preparation of the strategy.

Amendment 76, page 8, line 35, leave out “from time to time” and insert “every two years,”.

This amendment would require the specified authorities for an area to prepare and implement a revised strategy every two years.

Amendment 77, page 8, line 35, at end insert—

“(7A) The local policing body for the area must provide an annual monitoring report for local safeguarding partners on actions undertaken as part of a strategy.”.

Amendment 98, page 9, line 4, leave out clause 8.

Amendment 78, in clause 8, page 9, line 6, after “violence”, insert—

“and safeguard children involved in serious violence”.

See explanatory statement to amendment 73.

Amendment 79, page 9, line 9, after “violence”, insert—

“and safeguard children involved in serious violence”.

See explanatory statement to amendment 73.

Amendment 80, page 9, line 14, after “violence”, insert—

“and safeguard children involved in serious violence”.

See explanatory statement to amendment 73.

Amendment 81, page 9, line 14, at end insert—

“(d) identify and safeguard children who are involved in serious violence in the area as a result of being a victim of modern slavery and trafficking offences under the Modern Slavery Act 2015.”

See explanatory statement to amendment 73.

Amendment 82, page 10, line 8, leave out “from time to time” and insert “every two years,”This amendment would require collaborating specified authorities for an area to prepare and implement a revised strategy every two years.

Amendment 99, page 10, line 31, leave out clause 9.

Amendment 83, in clause 9, page 10, line 34, after “violence”, insert—

“and safeguard children involved in serious violence”.

See explanatory statement to amendment 73.

Amendment 84, page 10, line 36, after “violence”, insert—

“and safeguard children involved in serious violence”.

See explanatory statement to amendment 73.

Amendment 100, page 11, line 28, leave out clause 10.

Amendment 101, page 12, line 4, leave out clause 11.

Amendment 102, page 12, line 18, leave out clause 12.

Amendment 86, in clause 12, page 12, line 37, at end insert—

“(5) In exercising their functions under this Chapter, specified authorities must have particular regard to reducing serious violence against women and girls, including street harassment, and reducing instances of hidden harm resulting from serious violence.”

Amendment 103, page 1, line 39, leave out clause 13.

Amendment 104, page 13, line 35, leave out clause 14.

Amendment 105, page 14, line 42, leave out clause 15.

Amendment 106, page 15, line 29, leave out clause 16.

Amendment 85, in clause 16, page 16, line 16, at end insert—

“(8) A local policing body must report annually on the requests made under this section, including information on the bodies the request were made to and the use of information provided.”

This amendment would require local policing bodies to report on requests for information made to specified authorities, educational authorities, prison authorities and youth custody authorities for the purpose of assisting with its functions under section 13.

Amendment 107, page 16, line 17, leave out clause 17.

Amendment 89, in clause 17, page 17, line 28, leave out “consult” and insert “receive the consent of”.

Amendment 108, page 16, line 38, leave out clause 18.

Amendment 90, in clause 18, page 17, line 7, leave out “consult” and insert “receive the consent of”.

Amendment 109, page 17, line 12, leave out clause 19.

Amendment 91, in clause 19, page 17, line 41, leave out “consult” and insert “receive the consent of”.

Amendment 110, page 18, line 40, leave out clause 20.

Amendment 111, page 19, line 5, leave out clause 21.

Amendment 92, in clause 21, page 19, line 11, leave out “consult” and insert “receive the consent of”.

Amendment 112, page 19, line 37, leave out clause 22.

Amendment 93, in clause 31, page 26, line 20, after “Ministers” insert “and receive their consent”.

Amendment 94, in clause 35, page 28, line 22, after “Ministers” insert “and receive their consent”.

Amendment 72, in clause 36, page 29, line 12, at end insert—

“(c) the user who has given agreement under subsection (1)(b) was offered free independent legal advice on issues relating to their human rights before that agreement was given.”

This amendment would ensure that users of electronic devices were offered free independent legal advice before information on their device could be accessed.

Amendment 115, page 29, line 26, at end insert—

“(7A) No information other than—

(a) information necessary for a purpose within subsection (2) for which the authorised person may exercise the power, or

(b) information necessary for a purpose within subsection (2) of section 39 (investigations of death) for which the authorised person may exercise the power in subsection (1) of that section may be retained, stored or copied.”

Amendment 117, in clause 40, page 34, line 8, at end insert—

“(6A) Scottish Ministers may prepare a code of practice containing guidance about the exercise in Scotland of the powers in sections 36(1) and 39(1) (“a Scottish code”).

(6B) In preparing a Scottish code, Scottish Ministers must consult any person Scottish Ministers consider appropriate.

(6C) After preparing a Scottish code, Scottish Ministers must lay it before the Scottish Parliament and publish it.

(6D) A Scottish code is to be brought into force by regulations made by statutory instrument by Scottish Ministers.

(6E) A statutory instrument containing regulations under subsection (6D) is subject to annulment in pursuance of a resolution of the Scottish Parliament.

(6F) After a Scottish code has come into force Scottish Ministers may from time to time revise it.

(6G) References in subsections (6B) to (6F) to the Scottish code include a revised code, subject to subsection (6H).

(6H) The duty to consult in subsection (6B) does not apply in relation to the preparation of a revised code if Scottish Minsters consider that the proposed revisions are insubstantial.

(6I) If a Scottish code is in force—

(a) references in subsections (7) and (8) to “the code” apply in Scotland as if they referred to a Scottish code, and

(b) the code prepared and published by the Secretary of State shall not apply to the exercise of the applicable powers in Scotland.”

This amendment would allow Scottish Ministers, with approval from the Scottish Parliament, to draft a code of practice regarding the extraction of information from electronic devices that would apply in Scotland.

Amendment 116, in clause 41, page 35, line 23, at end insert—

“(7) The powers in section 36(1) and section 39(1) may not be exercised until regulations under this section are in force.”

This amendment would prevent the powers to extract data given by section 36(1) and section 39(1) from being exercised until regulations making provision about the exercise of the power in relation to confidential information (such as confidential journalistic material) are in force.

Amendment 51, in clause 45, page 37, line 12, leave out subsections (2) and (3) and insert—

“(2) In section 16—

(a) in subsection (2)(a), leave out “or (5)” and insert “, (5) or (5A)”;

(b) in subsection (4)(a), leave out “or (5)” and insert “, (5) or (5A)”.

(3) In section 17—

(a) in subsection (2)(a), leave out “or (5)” and insert “, (5) or (5A)”;

(b) in subsection (4)(a), leave out “or (5)” and insert “, (5) or (5A)”.

(4) In section 18—

(a) in subsection (2)(a), leave out “or (5)” and insert “, (5) or (5A)”;

(b) in subsection (4)(a), leave out “or (5)” and insert “, (5) or (5A)”.

(5) In section 19—

(a) in subsection (2)(a), leave out “or (5)” and insert “, (5) or (5A)”;

(b) in subsection (4)(a), leave out “or (5)” and insert “, (5) or (5A)”.

(6) In section 21, after subsection (5), insert—

“(5A) This subsection applies if A is regularly involved in caring for, training, supervising or being in sole charge of B and none of subsections (2) to (13) of this section otherwise applies.””

This amendment aims to ensure that all adults who are in a position of trust are subject to the child sexual abuse offences provided for by section 16 to 19 of the Sexual Offences Act 2003, rather than simply extending the definition to those who coach, teach, train, supervise or instruct children in a sport or a religion.

Amendment 1, page 46, line 25, leave out clause 55.

This amendment, together with amendments 2 to 7, would remove Part 3 (Public order) From the Bill.

Amendment 52, in clause 55, page 46, line 28, leave out subsections (2) to (4) and insert—

“(2) After subsection (11) insert—

‘(12) The Secretary of State may by regulations make provision about the meaning for the purposes of this section of “serious disruption to the life of the community”.

(13) Regulations under subsection (12) may, in particular—

(a) define any aspect of “serious disruption to the life of the community” for the purposes of this section;

(b) give examples of cases in which a public procession is or is not to be treated as resulting in serious disruption to the life of the community.

(14) Regulations under subsection (12)—

(a) are to be made by statutory instrument;

(b) may apply only in relation to public processions in England and Wales;

(c) may make incidental, supplementary, consequential, transitional, transitory or saving provision.

(15) A statutory instrument containing regulations under subsection (12) may not be made unless a draft of the instrument has been laid before and approved by a resolution of each House of Parliament.’”

This amendment would remove the proposed new trigger, based on noise, for imposing conditions on public processions in England and Wales. The Secretary of State’s power to make regulations would be amended accordingly.

Amendment 2, page 47, line 42, leave out clause 56.

This amendment, together with amendments 2 to 7, would remove Part 3 (Public order) From the Bill.

Amendment 53, in clause 56, page 48, line 2, leave out paragraph (b).

This amendment, together with Amendments 54 and 55, would remove the proposed new trigger, based on noise

Amendment 56, page 48, line 17, leave out from beginning to end of line 20 and insert—

“(a) in the case of an assembly in England and Wales, such conditions as to the place at which the assembly may be (or continue to be) held, the time at which it is to start and/or conclude, its maximum duration, or the maximum number of persons who may constitute it, as appear to the officer necessary to prevent the disorder, damage, disruption, impact or intimidation mentioned in subsection (1);”

This amendment removes the proposed ability to impose any necessary conditions on public assemblies in England and Wales and replace it with the existing available conditions plus conditions concerning the time at which the public assembly must start and finish.

Amendment 54, page 48, line 19, leave out “, impact”.

See explanatory statement to Amendment 53.

Amendment 55, page 48, line 28, leave out subsections (5) to (6) and insert—

“(5) After subsection (10A) (as inserted by section 57(11)) insert —

‘(11) The Secretary of State may by regulations make provision about the meaning for the purposes of this section of “serious disruption to the life of the community”.

(12) Regulations under subsection (11) may, in particular—

(a) define any aspect of “serious disruption to the life of the community” for the purposes of this section;

(b) give examples of cases in which a public assembly is or is not to be treated as resulting in serious disruption to the life of the community.

(13) Regulations under subsection (11)—

(a) are to be made by statutory instrument;

(b) may apply only in relation to public processions in England and Wales;

(c) may make incidental, supplementary, consequential, transitional, transitory or saving provision.

(14) A statutory instrument containing regulations under subsection (11) may not be made unless a draft of the instrument has been laid before and approved by a resolution of each House of Parliament.’”

See explanatory statement to Amendment 53.

Amendment 3, page 49, line 21, leave out clause 57.

This amendment, together with amendments 1, 2 and 3 to 7, would remove Part 3 (Public order) from the Bill.

Amendment 26, in clause 57, page 49, line 33, leave out from beginning to end of line 35 and insert—

“(a) in the case of a public procession in England and Wales, at the time the person fails to comply with the condition the person—

(i) knows that the condition has been imposed or has deliberately or recklessly avoided gaining knowledge that the condition has been imposed; and

(ii) knows or ought to know that their action or inaction amounts to a failure to comply with the condition.”

This amendment prevents a person who fails to comply with a condition on a public procession in England and Wales avoiding criminal liability by deliberately or recklessly avoiding knowledge of the relevant condition, without extending the criminal offence to cover persons who breach conditions accidentally.

Amendment 27, page 49, line 38, leave out subsection (6).

This amendment removes increases in sentences for non-violent offences by those who organise and attend public processions.

Amendment 28, page 50, line 33, leave out from beginning to end of line 35 and insert—

“(a) in the case of a public assembly in England and Wales, at the time the person fails to comply with the condition the person—

(i) knows that the condition has been imposed or has deliberately or recklessly avoided gaining knowledge that the condition has been imposed; and

(ii) knows or ought to know that their action or inaction amounts to a failure to comply with the condition.”

This amendment prevents a person who fails to comply with a condition on a public assembly in England and Wales avoiding criminal liability by deliberately or recklessly avoiding knowledge of the relevant condition, without extending the criminal offence to cover persons who breach conditions accidentally.

Amendment 29, page 50, line 38, leave out subsections (11) and (12).

This amendment removes increases in sentences for non-violence offences by those who organise and attend public assemblies.

Amendment 4, page 51, line 22, leave out clause 58.

This amendment, together with amendments 1 to 3 and 5 to 7, would remove Part 3 (Public order) from the Bill.

Amendment 5, page 52, line 36, leave out clause 59.

This amendment, together with amendments 1 to 4, 6 and 7, would remove Part 3 (Public order) from the Bill.

Amendment 6, page 53, line 17, leave out clause 60.

This amendment, together with amendments 1 to 5 and 7, would remove Part 3 (Public order) from the Bill.

Amendment 30, in clause 30, page 53, line 31, leave out subsection (2) and insert—

“(2) For the purposes of subsection (1) “serious harm” means—

(a) death, personal injury or disease,

(b) loss of, or damage to, property,

(c) serious distress, serious annoyance, serious inconvenience or serious loss of amenity, or

(d) being put at serious risk of suffering anything mentioned in paragraphs (a) to (c).”

This amendment removes the reference to the experience of a ‘person’ when defining what serious harm means in the context of ‘serious harm to the public or a section of the public’. It also requires the public to be put at significant risk of harm before criminal liability arises, to avoid the offence being excessively broad in its reach.

Amendment 31, in clause 60, page 53, line 37, at end insert—

“(3A) In determining whether a person had a reasonable excuse for the purposes of subsection (3) a court must have particular regard to the importance of the right to protest, including the right to freedom of expression under Article 10 and the right to freedom of association under Article 11 of Part 1 of Schedule 1 to the Human Rights Act 1998.”

This amendment ensures that the right to protest is given particular regard when a court considers whether a person has a reasonable excuse defence to a charge of public nuisance.

Amendment 7, page 54, line 18, leave out clause 61.

This amendment, together with amendments 1 to 6, would remove Part 3 (Public order) from the Bill.

Amendment 8, page 56, line 23, leave out clause 62.

Amendment 128, in clause 62, page 56, line 36, leave out line 36 and insert—

“(d) a constable, following a request of the occupier or a representative of the occupier,”.

This amendment, would provide that, as part of the conditions for the new offence of criminal trespass, only a police officer could request a person to leave land and only following a request by the occupier of the land.

Amendment 11, page 56, line 36, leave out

“the occupier, a representative of the occupier or”.

This amendment would remove the role of a private individual in triggering a criminal offence by requiring that a person would need to refuse a request to leave the land from a police officer before an offence under subsection (2) is committed.

Amendment 12, page 56, line 40, at end insert—

“(1A) A constable may only make a request under subsection 1(d) if a senior officer is reasonably satisfied that it is reasonable and proportionate to do so, after suitable consultations with relevant bodies, having particular regard to Convention rights and personal circumstances, including the best interests of any children residing on the land.”

This amendment would require a senior police officer to ensure an assessment of welfare needs has been considered and the request to leave the land is proportionate before any requests to leave the land are made and any powers under Part 4 are triggered.

Amendment 125, page 56, line 40, at end insert—

“(1A) A constable may only make a request under subsection (1)(d) where the constable has ascertained from the local authority within whose area the land is situated that there is a suitable pitch for P’s caravan or caravans on a relevant caravan site which is situated in the local authority’s area and that P has been informed of that.

(1B) For the purposes of this Section, “caravan”, “caravan site”, “relevant caravan site”, “relevant site manager” and “registered social landlord” have the same meanings as in section 62A(6) of the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994.”

This amendment, taken with Amendment 128, would provide that a person only commits an offence where they are trespassing on land having been offered a suitable pitch at a caravan site in the local authority’s area.

Amendment 13, page 57, line 11, leave out

“or is likely to be caused”.

This amendment, together with Amendments 14 to 18, would limit the conditions for committing the offence to damage or disruption which has occurred rather than potential damage and disruption.

Amendment 14, page 57, leave out lines 13 to 15.

See explanatory statement to Amendment 13.

Amendment 15, page 57, line 17, leave out

“or is likely to be caused”.

See explanatory statement to Amendment 13.

Amendment 16, page 57, line 18, leave out

“or likely to be carried on,”.

See explanatory statement to Amendment 13.

Amendment 17, page 57, line 19, leave out

“or is likely to be caused”.

See explanatory statement to Amendment 13.

Amendment 18, page 57, line 20, leave out

“or likely to be carried on,”.

See explanatory statement to Amendment 13.

Amendment 19, page 57, line 22, leave out

“imprisonment for a term not exceeding three months or”.

See explanatory statement to Amendment 20.

Amendment 20, page 57, line 24, leave out “, or both”.

This amendment, together with Amendment 19, would remove the penalty of a custodial sentence of imprisonment for up to three months for committing the offence, while keeping the penalty to a fine not exceeding level 4.

Amendment 127, page 58, line 25, leave out from beginning to end of line 28 and insert—

“(a) the use of threatening or abusive words or behaviour, or disorderly behaviour, or;

(b) the display of any writing, sign, or other visible representation that is threatening or abusive;”.

This amendment removes ‘insulting words or behaviour’ from the definition of ‘offensive conduct’.

Amendment 21, page 58, line 42, leave out from beginning to end of line 19 on page 60.

This amendment would remove provisions that property belonging to the person committing the offence should be seized and forfeited by the police.

Amendment 129, page 59, line 7, at end insert

“, but does not include any property that is, or forms part of, P’s principal residence”.

This amendment would provide that a police officer does not have the power to seize a vehicle that is a person’s home.

Amendment 9, page 60, line 22, leave out clause 63.

Amendment 10, page 62, line 6, leave out clause 64.

Amendment 113, page 128, line 30, leave out clause 140.

Amendment 68, in clause 140, page 129, line 44, at end insert—

“(9A) If the order is made before regulations have been made under section 176(1)of the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill for the coming into force of section 139 of that Act for all purposes and in relation to the whole of England and Wales, the court must, in every case where the prosecution makes an application under paragraph (b) of section 342A(1) for a serious violence reduction order to be made, set out in writing its reasons for making, or not making, such an order.”

This amendment would require the court, during any pilot of serious violence reduction orders, to set out in writing its reasons for making or not making such an order.

Government amendments 40 to 44.

Amendment 70, page 134, line 43, at end insert—

“(3A) Guidance under this section must include guidance on the intelligence, community information and risk factors that are to be considered before an application is made for the imposition of a serious violence reduction order.”

Government amendment 45.

Amendment 114, line 28, leave out clause 141.

Amendment 66, in clause 141, page 135, line 33, leave out “and (3)” and insert “(3) and (3A)”.

Amendment 65, page 135, line 42, at end insert—

“(3A)The report under subsection (3) must include—

(a) information on the ethnicity of people made subject to a serious violence reduction order;

(b) information on the number of people made subject to a serious violence reduction order where there is no evidence of their having handled a weapon, either in the incident resulting in the imposition of the order or previously;

(c) information on the number of people stopped by a police officer in the belief that they are subject to a serious violence reduction order, broken down by ethnicity (collected on the basis of self-identification by the person stopped), and including information on the number of times any one individual is stopped;

(d) analysis of the distribution of serious violence reduction orders in relation to the ethnic make-up of the population;

(e) an equality impact assessment including an assessment of the impact of the pilot on the groups mentioned in the equality statement produced before the pilot is commenced;

(f) analysis of data assessing the extent to which the pilot has reduced serious violent crime and reoffending by comparison with other areas;

(g) an assessment by the Sentencing Council of the proportionality of the distribution of the imposition of serious violence reduction orders;

(h) analysis of—

(i) the impact of the length of time for which a serious violence reduction order is imposed on reoffending, and

(ii) the extent to which the length of time for which a serious violence reduction order is imposed has harmful impacts on the life of the individual who is subject to it;

(i) an assessment of the impact of the imposition of serious violence reduction orders on the use of ‘stop and account’ in the pilot area or areas;

(j) feedback from Community Scrutiny Panels on scrutiny of body-worn video of all stops of people subject to, or believed to be subject to, a serious violence reduction order;

(k) analysis of any adverse impact of the imposition of serious violence reduction orders, undertaken on the basis of interviews with—

(i) people subject to a serious violence reduction order, and

(ii) organisations working with young people, in addition to any other information considered relevant by the person conducting the analysis;

(l) analysis of who is made subject to a serious violence reduction order, what evidence is relied on to justify the imposition of such orders, and whether there is any bias in the decision-making process;

(m) analysis of information on the reason for each breach of a serious violence reduction order;

(n) analysis of the extent to which searches made under the powers granted by this Part could have been carried out under other powers.

(3B) Statistical information collected for the purposes of section (3A) from different pilot areas must be collected and presented in a form which enables direct comparison between those areas.”

Amendment 67, page 135, line 42, at end insert—

“(3A) The condition in this subsection is that consultation on the report under subsection (3) has been undertaken with anyone the Secretary of State considers appropriate, including—

(a) representatives of the voluntary sector, and

(b) representatives of communities disproportionately represented in the criminal justice system.”

Amendment 69, page 136, line 2, at end insert—

“(4A) Regulations under section 176(1) which bring section 139 into force only for a specified purpose or in relation to a specified area—

(a) must include provision bringing into force section 342J of the Sentencing Code (Guidance); and

(b) must provide that section 139 may come into force for other specified purposes or in relation to specified areas only once guidance has been issued under section 342J of the Sentencing Code.”

This amendment would require the Secretary of State to issue guidance on serious violence reduction orders before any pilot could commence.

Amendment 71, page 136, line 2, at end insert—

“(4A) The powers under section 342A(2) of the Sentencing Code are exercisable before the power in section 176(1) has been exercised so as to bring section 139 into force for all purposes and in relation to the whole of England and Wales only if every officer of any police force in an area in relation to which section 139 has been brought into force has completed the College of Policing two-day training on stop and search.”

This amendment would require all police officers in a pilot force area to have completed the College of Policing training on stop and search before the power to impose serious violence reduction orders could be used.

Amendment 22, in clause 149, page 151, line 14, at end insert—

“(1B) Unless there are exceptional reasons not to do so, a sexual harm prevention order must require the offender—

(a) to comply with a referral for assessment of suitability to participate in a treatment programme approved by the Secretary of State for the purpose of reducing the risk of sexual harm that a person may pose, and

(b) if assessed as suitable for such a programme, to participate in it.”

Amendment 23, page 153, line 34, at end insert—

“(1B) Unless there are exceptional reasons not to do so, a sexual harm prevention order must require the defendant—

(a) to comply with a referral for assessment of suitability to participate in a treatment programme approved by the Secretary of State for the purpose of reducing the risk of sexual harm that a person may pose, and

(b) if assessed as suitable for such a programme, to participate in it.”

Amendment 24, in clause 150, page 155, line 42, at end insert—

“(7A) Unless there are exceptional reasons not to do so, a sexual risk order must require the defendant—

(a) to comply with a referral for assessment of suitability to participate in a treatment programme approved by the Secretary of State for the purpose of reducing the risk of sexual harm that a person may pose, and

(b) if assessed as suitable for such a programme, to participate in it.”

Amendment 120, in schedule 4, page 201, line 31, leave out paragraphs 2 to 12 on page 203.

This amendment, together with Amendment 121, would leave out the paragraphs of Part 1 of Schedule 4 which reverse the current presumption against the grant of pre-charge bail.

Amendment 121, page 204, line 8, leave out paragraphs 14 to 16.

See explanatory statement to Amendment 120.

Amendment 118, page 212, line 27, at end insert—

“31A(1) Section 47ZG (Applicable bail period: subsequent extensions of limit by court) is amended as follows.

(2) In subsection (2), at the beginning, insert ‘Subject to subsection (10),’

(3) After subsection (9), insert—

‘(10) The court may not authorise an extension of the applicable bail period beyond the period of 24 months beginning with the person’s bail start date.’”

This amendment would restrict the period which a person could spend on pre-charge bail to a maximum of two years.

Amendment 119, page 212, line 28, leave out paragraph 32.

This amendment is consequential on Amendment 118. Paragraph 32 of Schedule 4 would make provision for oral hearings in cases where a bail period was to extend beyond 24 months, which would be prevented by Amendment 118, so this amendment removes that paragraph.

Government amendment 46.

Amendment 95, in clause 176, page 194, line 12, after “33,” insert

“[Sections 55 to 61: commencement],”.

Amendment 96, page 194, line 26, at end insert

“(ka) section [Sections 55 to 61: commencement]”.

Harriet Harman Portrait Ms Harman
- View Speech - Hansard - - - Excerpts

Let me say at the outset that I completely agree with everything that the hon. Member for Shipley (Philip Davies) has just said. We have not got enough time to properly debate the Bill and the many issues it engages.

I have four key issues, which are the subject of cross-party amendments and new clauses. One is to do with the crucial right to protest, which the Bill curtails. As Chair of the Joint Committee on Human Rights, I have tabled amendments on that. I hope that the hon. and learned Member for Edinburgh South West (Joanna Cherry) will get an opportunity to speak about protecting and enhancing the right to protest. The right hon. Member for Orkney and Shetland (Mr Carmichael) has also tabled a new clause on that, which has a great deal of support. Many other hon. Members will speak about the subject.

There are also concerns about the rights of the Gypsy, Roma and Traveller community. Again, as Chair of the Joint Committee on Human Rights, I have tabled amendments on that and so have other Members, including the hon. Member for Stockton South (Matt Vickers). My hon. Friend the Member for Croydon Central (Sarah Jones) will speak about both issues from our Front Bench. I will therefore not speak specifically about the right to protest and Gypsy, Roma and Traveller rights, but I strongly support those from all parts of the House who will speak on those matters.

I will confine my comments to new clauses 1 and 2, which have support from across the House. They deal with the safety of women and girls on the street. Hon. Members will remember that, after the horrific killing of Sarah Everard, there was an outflowing on social media from young women and girls, even young schoolgirls, saying, “We are not safe walking on our streets at night. If we have to walk home in the dark after school, we will often find a man in a van kerb-crawling us with the window wound down, calling for us to get in the van, asking why we are not getting into the van, and following us home.” Often, they will take a longer route home, even though it takes more time, to go down busier streets, rather than the quickest route, where they feel less safe. Often, they will take a cab when they would really like to walk home, but just do not feel safe.

What has been shown is that this is not just a problem for some young girls and women; it is a problem for all. It is a universal, everyday experience. Sexually predatory men feel that they can harass and intimidate young girls and young women when they are on the street, especially after dark and if they are on their own. We simply have to decide whether we are going to protect and support the rights of men to do that, or whether we are going to say, “No, we support the rights of women and girls to be able to walk down our streets at night on their own, after dark in the winter, coming home from school, without being subjected to this sort of intimidation, menace and harassment.” I do not think we hear anybody arguing that in this day and age, women and girls should accept that. I remember that, back in the day when I, like everybody else, was subjected to it, if someone complained, people said, “But you should be flattered—you should be flattered that people find you attractive.” It is not flattering. It is menacing, it is unwarranted and it is unwanted, and we should not accept it.

I have tabled two new clauses. One is about kerb-crawling. Currently, it is a criminal offence to kerb-crawl a woman if someone is doing so to solicit her because they want to pay for sex. That was introduced many years ago to protect a neighbourhood from becoming a red light district and having endemic kerb-crawling, so we already have the basis in the law. What I am suggesting, with a lot of cross-party support, is that this should be a criminal offence without it being because the man is doing it to try to pay for sex; it is enough if he is kerb-crawling. He should not be able to do that. The punishment ought to be taking away his licence. If a man is going to lose his licence for his van or car, he will pretty soon alter his behaviour, which is exactly what he should be doing.

I also have a new clause on harassment in the street. At the moment, if a man harasses a woman and there is a course of conduct because he is generally stalking her, that is a criminal offence, but if he does it to a schoolgirl going home who he does not know and it is not a course of conduct but one-off conduct, she has no right of redress. I suggest expanding the stalking offence to include even a one-off, so we have two bespoke offences.

If we have two new crimes, women and girls will know that they do not have to put up with this and that they can complain, men will know that they are going to be called to account and end up in court if they do it, the police will know that they have to investigate it and prosecute it, and the courts will know how to deal with it. Then, we can end the shameful situation that women and girls find themselves in on the street.

The Government have said in Committee that they are in listening mode. That is welcome, but it does not go far enough. Women and girls want the Government not just to listen, but to act. It is about time that the concerns of women and girls were heard and acted on. If we do not support the new clauses and the Government do not accept them, they will be guilty of letting women and girls down. I hope that will not be the case. I press the Minister, who has been very generous with her time in meeting me, to say that this is the moment that we are going to change the law and make a new start.

Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I remind hon. Members that, if we do put a speaking limit on, it will be on the countdown clock, which will be visible on the screen. I am now going to appeal to everybody, without the time limit on, to please not force it. Let us be kind to each other—short and brief. Everybody, I believe, has a genuine contribution to make, so I really want to hear them.

Robert Goodwill Portrait Mr Robert Goodwill (Scarborough and Whitby) (Con)
- View Speech - Hansard - - - Excerpts

Thank you very much, Mr Speaker. I will try to lead by example in that regard.

Part 1 of the Bill increases the penalty for assault on an emergency worker from 12 months to two years. Many other key workers are on the frontline, too. Indeed, shopworkers have borne the brunt of much of the abuse about mask wearing and social distancing in stores, on top of the existing problems associated with age verification for the purpose of alcoholic drinks purchases, drunken abusive behaviour, and of course shoplifting. Late-night shops are often run single-handedly, so the distress and trauma associated with assaults or threatening behaviour should not be underestimated. I am due to meet shortly with in-store workers from my local Tesco to see at first hand how this problem has affected staff in that setting. I hope the Minister can reassure me—either now or when she sums up at the end—that she is aware of the issue’s importance and that amendments may not be necessary to deliver the action we all believe is needed.

Victoria Atkins Portrait The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department (Victoria Atkins)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I thank my right hon. Friend for his scrutiny and service not just on Report but in Committee. I can reassure him; I know how strongly he and other Members across the House, including my hon. Friend the Member for Stockton South (Matt Vickers), feel about the matter. I reassure the House that we are not complacent about ensuring that the criminal law is fit for purpose. We are actively considering an amendment in the Lords if appropriate.

15:45
Robert Goodwill Portrait Mr Goodwill
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I thank the Minister for that reassurance. The other two items I want to discuss were underlined by the points made by the right hon. and learned Member for Camberwell and Peckham (Ms Harman) about lining up with wokeism rather than with the hard-working people who find their lives disrupted in the workplace, when travelling to work or, indeed, in their communities. I commend the Government for the public order measures in part 3 and despair at amendments 1 to 7 tabled by several Lib Dem and Labour colleagues, which would completely remove that aspect of the Bill.

It is of course, a basic human right to be allowed to demonstrate one’s strongly held feelings. Indeed, I have been on demonstrations myself. I went on the countryside march, and I marched at the head of an opposition demonstration in Minsk, which had a slightly less jolly atmosphere. However, the Government must take action to prevent deliberate acts of vandalism or obstruction such as those associated with Extinction Rebellion and, I am sorry to say, Black Lives Matter. Yes, people have the right to demonstrate, but not in a way that prevents people from going about their lawful business: travelling to work, being taken to hospital by ambulance or, indeed, Members of Parliament being able to access this building to exercise our democratic mandate.

I am particularly pleased that we are taking action on single-personal protests. Over the spring bank holiday in May, local Labour councillor Theresa Norton sat in the middle of the street in the middle of Scarborough on the first weekend on which many of our hard-pressed tourism businesses were keen to make up some of the money they had lost during the pandemic. She caused a massive traffic jam, supposedly demonstrating in the cause of Extinction Rebellion. That sort of behaviour should not be allowed because it disrupts people’s lives and, I believe, actually antagonises people against such issues.

Finally, I am disappointed that the Labour and SNP Front-Bench teams are so out of touch with the genuine distress and disruption caused by illegal Traveller encampments. They seem to have some kind of rose-tinted view of traditional Romany lifestyles, but that is not the reality on the ground and the Government are right to take action. Communities have asked us to take action, and there is a clear choice to be made between supporting those communities or supporting people who lawlessly occupy land and cause havoc and destruction.

Sarah Jones Portrait Sarah Jones (Croydon Central) (Lab)
- View Speech - Hansard - - - Excerpts

This Bill contains some of the most controversial restrictions of our rights for many years. It is very long, and we have only a few hours to debate it, so I agree with the hon. Member for Shipley (Philip Davies) that we should have had more time. During the pandemic, we have seen more than 400 regulations passed through statutory instruments with little or no scrutiny—necessary, but unprecedented. Now is the time to be reclaiming our rights, not restricting them further. This Bill will do little to tackle the real problems that British people face. It will not protect vulnerable children who are victims of criminal exploitation. It will not take dangerous weapons off our streets. It will not protect rape victims. It does nothing to tackle violence against women and girls.

Turning to part 1, we are pleased that, after almost three years of campaigning from the Police Federation, the Government have finally introduced the police covenant. I am reassured that the Government agreed with my amendment to include the whole policing family in the covenant, but why did the Government not accept amendments from my hon. Friend the Member for Rotherham (Sarah Champion) to support mental health when we know that suicide levels are increasing and that one in five officers has PTSD. Why did they not accept our simple suggestions for some independence and scrutiny to be included in the process? As currently drafted, the covenant could be little more than warm words—a wasted opportunity to stand with our police officers after all they have done for us.

Clause 2 relates to assaults against emergency workers. My hon. Friends the Members for Halifax (Holly Lynch) and for Rhondda (Chris Bryant) have campaigned for years to introduce a separate offence, with longer sentencing, for assaulting an emergency worker. Following years of increasing assaults against our most valued public servants, we are pleased that the Government have finally listened to the call, but why on earth will they not now commit to extending similar protections to the key workers who have done for so much for us, such as shop workers?

On Friday, I visited a Co-op in Croydon, where I heard about the violence and abuse that shop workers suffer and that, sadly, they feel has become part of the job. I met a man in his 70s in New Addington who runs a pet shop and was punched in the face by a customer. Of our 3 million retail workers, 300,000 were assaulted last year, yet only 6% of incidents led to prosecution. Abuse must not be part of the job.

The public agree with us: a survey published on Saturday shows that 89% back the new law. Industry agrees with us: the Co-op, the Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers and the British Retail Consortium have been campaigning on the issue for years. Yesterday, leaders of 100 brands, including Tesco, Sainsbury’s, IKEA and Aldi, all published an open letter calling for greater protection for retail workers. MPs agree with us: the Select Committee on Home Affairs published a report last week, and the hon. Member for Stockton South (Matt Vickers) has corralled a very impressive number of Conservative MPs to support his new clause 90 on the same issue.

Tonight, the Government have a choice: do the right thing and back our retail and public service workers, or ignore the wishes of the public and give us another excuse. I hear the Minister saying that she is actively considering it, but she could commit to it tonight and give retail workers and our public servants the protections that they deserve.

Chapter 1 of part 2 introduces a duty to tackle and prevent serious violence. I have campaigned for years for the Government to tackle the growing epidemic of violent crime. Yesterday, I was at a vigil for a boy, just turned 16, who was brutally murdered in my constituency last week, in his own home, in front of his mother. Nothing is more important than keeping our children safe.

We have called for an evidence-based approach to tackling violence, and we support the intention of the serious violence duty to get every agency locally working together to tackle violence, but we have serious concerns on three fronts. First, there is no provision in the Bill to safeguard children and the Government have rejected calls for a new definition of child criminal exploitation. Secondly, we are very concerned about the data capture elements of chapter 1; the duty risks becoming an intelligence-gathering exercise with potentially ominous consequences. Thirdly, it must be made clear in the Bill that violence against women and girls counts as serious violence—it should not be an added extra. We want the serious violence duty to work, but we fear that, as currently drafted, it will not. I ask the Government to consider our amendments to protect children, to protect data and to protect women and girls.

Chapter 3 of part 2 relates to data extraction. We are asking the Government to protect victims, particularly victims of rape and sexual abuse, from painful and often necessary intrusion into their lives by the mining of their phone data. When we raised concerns in Committee, the Minister said:

“I…urge caution until the rape review is published, because there may be answers in that document.”––[Official Report, Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Public Bill Committee, 27 May 2021; c. 286.]

With respect to the Minister, the rape review has been published and its recommendations do not address the problems that we defined. One in five rape victims withdrew their complaints, at least in part because of disclosure and privacy concerns. The Secretary of State for Justice has apologised for failing rape victims, yet he is bringing forward legislation that would legitimise over-intrusion. The Government did not support our amendments in Committee to protect victims, but tonight they have a chance to think again.

Part 3 relates to public order. Over the past year, the police have had to enforce necessary but draconian covid regulations after little scrutiny and short notice. I have heard many times from the police that they have struggled to be the ones interpreting the law without the leadership from the Government that they needed. It is our job to define the law in a clear way so that the police are not the ones getting the blame for our lawmaking. That must be a firm lesson for us.

The public order powers in part 3 threaten the fundamental balance between the police and the people. Her Majesty’s inspectorate of constabulary and fire and rescue services called for a “modest reset” of the scales on public order legislation in its recent report. On any measure, a “modest reset” is not what this is. The new measures in the Bill target protesters for being too noisy and causing “serious unease” or “serious annoyance”. The vague terminology creates a very low threshold for police-imposed conditions and essentially rules out entirely—potentially—peaceful protest.

Robert Goodwill Portrait Mr Goodwill
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

Does the hon. Lady agree that when she talks about “the people”, that would include the people whose lives are disrupted, who cannot get to work, who experience all the points that I made in my remarks? They are the people as well and they want to get on with their lives.

Sarah Jones Portrait Sarah Jones
- View Speech - Hansard - - - Excerpts

I wonder where that stops and at what point we accept the right balance between the right to protest peacefully and the right of people to go about their business. The inspectorate called for a moderate reset and that is not what this is.

Dawn Butler Portrait Dawn Butler (Brent Central) (Lab)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

Does my hon. Friend not agree that without noise, protest will not achieve anything?

Sarah Jones Portrait Sarah Jones
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I thank my hon. Friend for her intervention; that is clearly the case. It is also really important to note that the police at no point have asked for these powers on the basis of noise. The Metropolitan police said that it did

“not request the legal change on noise”.

The National Police Chiefs’ Council lead on public order told Parliament’s Joint Committee on Human Rights that police chiefs had asked for a “lower, broader threshold” for imposing conditions, but not a law relating to noise. Inspector Matt Parr told the JCHR that he was not asked to look specifically at whether or not noise should be included. The point of protest is to capture attention. Protests are noisy. Sometimes they are annoying, but they are as fundamental to our democracy as our Parliament.

Gareth Johnson Portrait Gareth Johnson (Dartford) (Con)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

Can the hon. Lady clarify whether or not she supports protests that cause serious disruptions to people going about their lawful business?

Sarah Jones Portrait Sarah Jones
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I will give to the hon. Gentleman, if he would like, a list of existing police powers and laws that do exactly that. There are many different laws from different pieces of legislation that I have here that do mean the police have the powers that they need to stop serious disruption. The increasing powers in the Bill are what we have a problem with, and where they could lead, because the definitions are so broad.

The Government published last week a draft definition of what they mean by “serious disruption”. It is very broad and it gives away a bit where all this came from in the first place, because top of the list of products and goods that are included in the legislation are time-sensitive products, including newspapers.

Alistair Carmichael Portrait Mr Alistair Carmichael (Orkney and Shetland) (LD)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

The hon. Lady is making a very good case on this point. Does she not agree that there is a serious danger of a chilling effect? The people who are referred to by Government Members will not stop protesting. We know that that is the case, but community groups who perhaps have a legitimate concern and want their voices to be heard will look at this and then exclude protest from their arsenal of options to move forward.

Sarah Jones Portrait Sarah Jones
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I thank the right hon. Gentleman for making that good point and I welcome the amendments that he has tabled to this section of the Bill. The Opposition want clauses 55 to 61 removed from the Bill and we want to protect our right to protest.

Rachael Maskell Portrait Rachael Maskell (York Central) (Lab/Co-op)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

When I spoke to my local police about these clauses, they were really concerned that policing by consensus will be replaced and drive protests into more conflict, and therefore, for them and for us, it is a negative step.

Sarah Jones Portrait Sarah Jones
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

That is a very good point. The Peelian principles—the people are the police and the police are the people—are very important. I know the police value that careful balance between them and the public and where consent is and how powers are drawn. We strongly believe that these powers go too far.



Part 4 on unauthorised encampments represents an attack on the Gypsy, Traveller and Roma communities and their whole way of life. The police are clear that they do not want these powers. Martin Hewitt, head of National Police Chiefs’ Council, said in Committee that he strongly believes that

“the fundamental problem is insufficient provision of sites for Gypsy Travellers to occupy, and that that causes the relatively small percentage of unlawful encampments”.––[Official Report, Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Public Bill Committee, 18 May 2021; c. 15, Q20.]

The police already have extensive powers in the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994 to move on unauthorised encampments. As at January 2020, just 3% of Gypsy and Traveller caravans in England were on unauthorised encampments. We know that there are high levels of prejudice and hate towards Gypsy Traveller communities. Even on this Bill Committee, one Member made an incredibly prejudiced and offensive remark. We have asked this of the Government before, and we will keep on asking: under the provisions in part 4, what would happen to a Traveller family in a single vehicle who are residing on a highway and have nowhere else to go?

16:00
The right hon. Member for Scarborough and Whitby (Mr Goodwill) talked about antisocial behaviour, but the answer to antisocial behaviour, wherever it comes and whoever does it, is tougher action on antisocial behaviour. Last year, 19 million people experienced some form of antisocial behaviour, up by 1 million in a year and up by 5.5 million in 10 years. We say that the Government should focus on the real problems and not marginalise even further an entire minority. That is why we are supporting amendment 8 from my hon. Friend the Member for Liverpool, West Derby (Ian Byrne).
Serious violence reduction orders are the last element of the Home Office parts of this Bill, which would allow officers with such orders to stop and search people without reasonable grounds and without authorisation. It is very hard to be persuaded that more sweeping powers to stop and search people with previous convictions will reduce serious violence. There is little evidence that that will be effective. The Prime Minister himself experienced that. Every year that he was Mayor of London, the number of stop and searches fell on his watch, and for the latter half serious violence fell, too. The Government’s proposed serious violence reduction orders risk further increasing disproportionality in the criminal justice system, and we ask them to accept our amendments.
In conclusion, there are elements of the Bill that we welcome, but the Government have undermined the parts of the Bill that we support by including a series of disproportionate and draconian provisions that risk undermining human rights and dividing communities. The right hon. Member for Maidenhead (Mrs May) was right when she said that there is a fine line between being popular and being populist. It is time for the Government to decide where they draw the line. We are debating this Bill after a difficult and turbulent year, but it is a year in which people from this country came together. I urge Members across the House to come together and vote to improve this flawed and divisive piece of legislation.
David Davis Portrait Mr David Davis (Haltemprice and Howden) (Con)
- View Speech - Hansard - - - Excerpts

It is a pleasure to follow the hon. Member for Croydon Central (Sarah Jones). I will return to one of her points in a moment, but I shall start by focusing on the amendments tabled in my name—amendments 118 to 121.

In 2017, we reformed pre-charge bail—that is police bail in the jargon—to introduce time limits on how long suspects can be held on bail before being charged, and we introduced a general presumption against the use of pre-charge bail. These changes came after the terrible treatment—I reiterate, the terrible treatment—of some people, the most famous of whom, I guess, was Paul Gambaccini, in the spin-off from the Savile affair. Gambaccini’s career was destroyed by the effective presumption of guilt in the treatment of him.

Even with those 2017 reforms, we still see a large number of people on pre-charge bail today and, indeed, for excessive lengths of time. In 2019, the number on pre-charge bail was 84,000. In 2020, it was nearly 154,000. The effect of the 2017 legislation, therefore, was not to suppress pre-charge bail, so the logic behind the changes in the current Bill are flawed to start off with. Worse than that, the number of people held on pre-charge bail for more than 12 months is 2,344, which is itself an increase on the previous year. These are people for whom there is not enough evidence to charge—not to convict, but to charge, which is a much, much lower threshold.

Currently, I have a case where the National Crime Agency has kept an individual on bail for almost six years. That is six years of being unable to live anywhere but her home address; six years of being unable to see her family because her passport has been withheld; six years of being without a bank account; six years of being without a job or career; and six years of being unable to lead a normal life. When I took it up with the National Crime Agency, I got a letter in response, which, frankly, would have done justice to an episode of “Yes Minister.” The most interesting point in it was a comment making the point that investigations took a long time. It said: “Investigations of this length are not uncommon when dealing with complex cases.” Six years is not uncommon in a justice system where the presumption of innocence is paramount. That is the problem that I am addressing with my amendments. For someone who has not even been charged, the NCA’s actions in this case make a complete mockery of the principle of presumed innocent until proven guilty. By the way, as an aside—separate from the Bill—we cannot find out how many people the NCA has under these circumstances. It is not subject to freedom of information requests and we know nothing about its operations, yet it still does these things.

The Bill seeks to undo the 2017 reforms, eliminating the general presumption against pre-charge bail and amending time limits. Although reform is clearly needed, this is not the correct way to do it. As the Law Society has said, changes to pre-charge bail may lead to people being kept “in limbo” for long periods of time, impacting their civil liberties. I entirely agree. The Government, of course, argue that their proposed reforms have public backing, but the consultation responses were starkly skewed. Police and law enforcement agencies accounted for 65% of the responses, compared to the legal professions at a mere 3%. Nobody should take at face value the Government’s claim that that backing reflects the consultation; it reflects the interests of the agencies involved.

My amendments 118 and 119 would introduce a two-year absolute limit on the use of pre-charge bail, ensuring that agencies had time to investigate properly but promptly. We should remember that the test is the ability to charge, not the ability to convict. That is how far it has to get in two years; that is the primary aim.

Amendments 120 and 121 would prevent the Government from reversing the presumption against the use of pre-charge bail. That would prevent a return to the practice of bailing suspects for lengthy periods with strict and unacceptable curbs to their civil liberties.

I would like to pick up the point made by the hon. Member for Croydon Central (Sarah Jones), because clearly she got some pushback from the Government Benches. As it stands, the Bill actually does pose a grave threat to the fundamental right to protest that this country has had enshrined in our national fabric for, I think, some 800 years. The Bill does address real issues, but the Government want to have the power to arrest people who cause “serious annoyance” or “serious inconvenience”. These are incredibly vague terms, frankly. It is clearly a breach of the normal reasoning behind a demonstration when somebody glues themselves to a train with the direct intention of inconveniencing everybody else, but demonstrations do lead to inconvenience.

It is not just the leftie, liberal, legal fraternity that has been worried about the proposed power; there was a letter to the Home Secretary, elements of which were published in today’s edition of The Times, from a number of police chiefs, who are concerned that the effect of the provision is twofold. First, it puts the police in the position of making judgments that they should not be making; that should be specified by this House, not by the police chiefs themselves. Secondly, that puts them in a politicised position, and that is really problematic. We have an apolitical police and every law we write must be written on the presumption that it will be a Government very unlike ours who oversee us at some point in the future. What if, in 20 years’ time, we have an extreme right-wing or extreme left-wing Government, and this sort of vague provision is in place? I ask the Government to pay attention to the precision of this measure, so that we get it exactly right.

Joanna Cherry Portrait Joanna Cherry (Edinburgh South West) (SNP)
- View Speech - Hansard - - - Excerpts

Does the right hon. Gentleman agree that there is an incongruence in the Government saying they want to defend free speech in universities while effectively attacking the right of freedom of expression on our streets by criminalising activities that will cause serious unease?

David Davis Portrait Mr Davis
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

The hon. and learned Lady has a point.

Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

Order. Just to say I really am up against the time. I want to hear a lot more free speech.

David Davis Portrait Mr Davis
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I take your point, Mr Speaker. I will be finished in less than a minute.

I was the person who brought in the 10-minute rule Bill, the precursor to the Government’s Bill, but there is a balancing issue and the House must be precise about that balance.

Given Mr Speaker’s injunction, I will bring my comments to an end. The Bill does some important things, but it needs to get some things very much closer to right than they are now.

Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

Before I bring in the SNP spokesperson, I must warn people that it is looking like speeches will have to be three minutes or a maximum of four minutes.

Anne McLaughlin Portrait Anne McLaughlin (Glasgow North East) (SNP)
- View Speech - Hansard - - - Excerpts

I rise to speak to new clause 91 and amendment 117.

Amendment 117 simply says that the Scottish Government reserve the right to amend the code of conduct governing data extraction if the UK code of conduct is not suitable for our distinct policing service. I cannot imagine why the Government would not just accept that amendment, so I look forward to hearing that they have.

New clause 91 will instruct the Secretary of State to conduct a review of the criminal offences set out in the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971. Let us face it: after 50 years, it is high time. That argument is gaining traction across party and with good reason. One of my colleagues will be saying more about that later in the debate, so I will simply say that my support for it is wholehearted. Our approach to drug misuse and addiction should be a public health approach, because that is what saves lives.

Mr Speaker, I understand that I have unlimited time, but I can reassure you that I will talk as briefly as I can to allow other speakers to make their contribution. I will look at three areas of the Bill.

I have said before that the curbs on the right to protest are draconian and contrary to international law—it is not just me saying that, of course—and I know colleagues will say more on that shortly, but people out there need to be aware of how the provisions will impact on them. I always use the example of the WASPI women, the Women Against State Pension Inequality. I do that because, whether it is anti-war protesters, the Black Lives Matter movement or those who are desperately worried about the environment, there is always a cohort in here ready to tell us what is wrong with those protesters: how “dangerous” they are and how we need to clamp down on them.

Now, nobody is going to tell me that the Women Against State Pension Inequality are a threat to any of us. The opposite is true. These are older women who should be retired by now, but they have had their retirement stolen from them by the UK Government. So many times we have all gone across the road to join thousands of WASPI women and their supporters from all across the UK, but because of the exclusion zone to be thrown up around Parliament they will be prevented from ever doing that again. We are to hear and see nobody unless they agree with us. That is just one tiny part of the curbs on the right to protest. It is not what we expect from the so-called bastion of democracy.

I want to turn briefly to serious violence reduction orders. Members might ask why, given that they apply only to England and Wales, but here is why. I was quite shocked to hear the Home Office attempt to make a comparison between serious violence reduction orders and the work of the hugely successful Scottish Government-backed Scottish Violence Reduction Unit. The Scottish VRU adopts a public health approach to violence. I urge hon. Members not to be fooled by attempted comparisons. The underlying principle—

Anne McLaughlin Portrait Anne McLaughlin
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I know that Mr Speaker is trying to create time for other people, but I will give way briefly.

Victoria Atkins Portrait Victoria Atkins
- View Speech - Hansard - - - Excerpts

I just want to correct the hon. Lady. In the Bill Committee I was drawing a comparison not with the orders but with the serious violence duty, which I imagine she welcomes because we have looked carefully at the Glasgow model. We would argue that we are going further than the Scottish Government, because we are making the provision a legal duty. I hope she would support that in principle.

Anne McLaughlin Portrait Anne McLaughlin
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

The underlying principle of the Violence Reduction Unit is that the causes of violence are deep-rooted and that we need a public health approach. These orders do not take a public health approach. In order to make a lasting improvement, numerous agencies have a role to play, including education, social services, health, justice and the third sector. Rather than creating barriers to education, housing and employment, the multiagency approach in Scotland actively removes them. The focus in Scotland has been on listening to the community, not dividing it. SVROs conform to outdated reactive practices. By the time one is issued, the damage has been done. The Government say they represent a public health approach, but a public health approach emphasises prevention. It is glaringly obvious when we think about it: fewer crimes create fewer victims, and that reduces demand on public services. Crime prevention is the public health model in action and that is not what these orders represent.

Finally, I support the amendments to delete part 4 of the Bill, on Travelling communities. That part of the Bill sickens me to my core. The Conservative hon. Member for Ashfield (Lee Anderson) has been allowed by his party to get away with claiming that Travellers today are

“more likely to be seen leaving your garden shed at 3 o’clock in the morning…with your lawnmower”.––[Official Report, Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Public Bill Committee, 8 June 2021; c. 410.]

In other words, he is saying they are thieves. There can be no hiding from the fact that this is anything other than a full-on attack on the way of life of Gypsy Travellers. The Travelling community in Scotland are deeply concerned, as are all others across the UK.

16:15
One of my colleagues will say more later, but I wish to point out how one Traveller described the Bill. The Minister should listen, because this person said the Bill was
“the single biggest threat to the traditional way of life”
and may “entirely eradicate nomadic life”.
On Wednesday this week, from 1 pm to 3 pm, people from Travelling communities will be across the road. They are inviting hon. Members to say hello, and to hear more about their lives, their lifestyles and their fears about how much more difficult their already difficult lives will be when this Bill passes. I urge Members on both sides of the House to take them up on that invitation. I will be there, but the irony is not lost on me that if this Bill passes unamended, not only will they face losing their homes for a minor infringement of the law because of part 4, but they will never again be able to protest against that by demonstrating across the road, because of part 3.
Rosie Winterton Portrait Madam Deputy Speaker (Dame Rosie Winterton)
- View Speech - Hansard - - - Excerpts

I know that Mr Speaker has urged right hon. and hon. Members to take between three and a maximum of four minutes, so I shall just re-emphasise that.

Jonathan Djanogly Portrait Mr Jonathan Djanogly (Huntingdon) (Con)
- View Speech - Hansard - - - Excerpts

Thank you, Madam Deputy Speaker. I shall address part 3, on public order, having joined the inquiry by the all-party group on democracy and the constitution, which reported on this part of the Bill last week in the context of the march events at Clapham common and Bristol. We found not just a lack of justification for many of these proposed new powers but—of equal concern—a lack of understanding of the current law among the relevant police.

Everyone, including the local police, knew what was going to happen in every event, and yet the local activist organisers were not only ignored, but threatened with prosecution. What should have been a quiet, well-organised vigil for a slain innocent woman became an increasingly disorganised public order situation, with police using extreme, repressive techniques. As a result, public safety at that event was diminished—first, as a result of the police’s omission to engage in advance; secondly, because of their lack of preparedness, engagement and intelligence; and, finally, because of their overreaction on the day. That is why the Bill ought to set out the basic human rights position, along the lines of that which is in new clause 29.

William Wragg Portrait Mr William Wragg (Hazel Grove) (Con)
- View Speech - Hansard - - - Excerpts

Does my hon. Friend agree that much of what we sadly saw at the vigil at Clapham common was a consequence of sloppily drafted covid regulations, which were given so little scrutiny by this House, let alone being understood by the police, whom we compel to enforce them?

Jonathan Djanogly Portrait Mr Djanogly
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I thank my hon. Friend, because had I had five minutes in which to speak and that was exactly the case I was going to make. What he says was proven in our inquiry. Sadly, the time allowed today permits me to give only one example of concern on these new public order powers. Clause 55 provides powers to deal with non-violent serious disruption. First, that should be stated in the Bill, not in secondary legislation. Furthermore, I am concerned that it will provide excessive powers to prevent non-violent disruption to business, in circumstances where the business concerned may not be the focus of the protest. Again, this shifts the ground towards making a presumption of illegality. In practice, working out to what extent a business can be disrupted will only make the job of the police tougher, not easier, and it will certainly make it more political in nature.

For instance, if protest that has until now been kept away from residential areas will also be removed from business areas, where does it go? Presumably, it will go to a place where it cannot be heard, but, as has been said, noise and disruption are integral to protest. As many commentators have pointed out, in practice, the police will increasingly be put under pressure from businesses to impose conditions, and they will be put under pressure from demonstrators, who will then go ahead in any case, as they did at Clapham common and in Bristol.

This clause could well undermine public confidence in the police and reduce public safety. That is why our inquiry recommended the production of guidance to help both police and organisers to understand their respective powers and obligations—that is what is in new clause 85. More fundamentally, we also need to question whether it is still appropriate that police both condition protest and enforce their own conditions. To that end, I am drawn to having something like the Northern Ireland Parades Commission, which has power to place conditions on public processions, thus leaving the police with the enforcement role that they know how to do so well.

Yvette Cooper Portrait Yvette Cooper (Normanton, Pontefract and Castleford) (Lab)
- View Speech - Hansard - - - Excerpts

The Home Affairs Committee has considered many different aspects of this Bill and these amendments at different times and in different ways, but given the time I will focus on just a small number of areas.

I particularly want to address new clause 69, in my name. Its purpose is to get justice for victims of domestic abuse who are being timed out and take action against perpetrators who are being let off the hook. Many domestic abuse cases are prosecuted as common assault in a magistrates court where police and prosecutors may say that the threshold for the Crown court is not met. In these cases, there is a time limit on justice—most victims are not aware of this—of six months from the offence, even though in domestic abuse cases it may take many months, for good reason, for victims to feel able to go to the police. They may still be in an abusive relationship. They may be afraid. They may not be safe. They may have children and be worried about how to leave or where they will go. It may take them time to get the support that they feel they need to be able to talk to the police. There are so many reasons that are, in themselves, the essence of continuing crimes of domestic abuse. That is why the new clause increases the time limit so that there can be six months for the police to deal with the case from the point of reporting, rather than from the point of the offence itself.

Somebody I have talked to told me her story. She was assaulted while she was pregnant. She went to A&E but did not, at that stage, want to talk about what had happened. However, when the abuse continued after the baby was born, she left and gathered her courage to talk to the police, who started an investigation but before long told her that she had passed a time limit she never even knew existed and her ex would not be charged. There are many more such victims of domestic abuse who, for serious and obvious reasons, do not report it immediately, and the perpetrators go on to be free to commit more crimes.

Victoria Atkins Portrait Victoria Atkins
- View Speech - Hansard - - - Excerpts

I thank the right hon. Lady for having raised her constituent’s case with me in previous meetings. We take this issue very seriously, and I can assure the House that we will return with a proposal at a later stage. I certainly do not rule out an amendment, if appropriate, in the Lords. This must be looked into and I am extremely grateful to her for raising it.

Yvette Cooper Portrait Yvette Cooper
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I welcome the Minister’s statement. I am keen to pursue this and to work with her on it, as we have cross-party support. I really do want to see progress and I hope we can achieve that in the House of Lords.

This is, once again, about the blind spot where the legal system does not recognise the reality of violence against women and girls. There may be many reasons why a six-month time limit is appropriate for summary offences about altercations between acquaintances in the pub or tussles in the street, but it is not appropriate for domestic abuse—for the experience of violence against women and girls that is, too often, being missed out in the criminal justice system, where thousands of cases a year may be affected in this way. We have support for changes in this area from the domestic abuse commissioner of Refuge, Women’s Aid, the Centre for Women’s Justice, and West Yorkshire police.

On new clause 31, the Select Committee has conducted a detailed inquiry into violent abuse against shop workers. We have recommended a stand-alone offence because we need to strengthen the focus on this escalating offence and to have the police take it much more seriously. It is simply unacceptable that shop workers should face this escalating abuse over very many years. The new offence of assault against emergency workers has made a difference and increased prosecutions, and we need to increase prosecutions in other areas as well.

Liz Saville Roberts Portrait Liz Saville Roberts (Dwyfor Meirionnydd) (PC)
- View Speech - Hansard - - - Excerpts

Will the right hon. Lady give way? [Interruption.]

Yvette Cooper Portrait Yvette Cooper
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

No, because I am very conscious of Madam Deputy Speaker’s coughing to remind me not to.

I also hope that the Government will accept amendments that provide greater safeguards for freedom to peacefully protest and strengthen the law on kerb-crawling, but I particularly hope that we will continue to work on much stronger protection for victims of domestic abuse and those who suffer from violence against women and girls.

Philip Davies Portrait Philip Davies (Shipley) (Con)
- View Speech - Hansard - - - Excerpts

I have five new clauses in this group. New clause 64 would ensure more timeliness of investigations of complaints against police officers and allegations of police misconduct. On new clause 70, at the moment a police officer has the power to tell somebody to stop their car, but not to shut off the engine. My new clause 70 would give them the power to shut off the engine as well, because not having the power to do that can put police officers in a dangerous position, and this would deal with that anomaly. New clause 71 would remove the word “insulting” from section 4A of the Public Order Act 1986. People should not be guilty of an offence for using insulting language, in my opinion. It would still keep threatening and abusive language as an offence, but the word “insulting” really should have no place in the law. New clause 72 would criminalise commercial squatting and squatting on land. The Bill addresses the issue of trespassers on land, but misses the opportunity to expand the current residential squatting offence to cover village halls, churches, pubs and so on, and is much needed in many local communities. New clause 84 would mean that non-crime hate incidents could not be recorded on the national police database. The police should be focusing their efforts on tackling crime, not non-crime incidents. I hope, by the way, that the Government will respond in detail with why they are not accepting my entirely reasonable new clauses, because I would be very interested to know why they cannot accept them.

I also want to talk about new clauses 31 and 90. As somebody who spent 12 years working for Asda before I became an MP, I feel very strongly about the issue of violence against shop workers. These are often very low-paid people who are expected by the Government, in effect, to enforce the law—whether it is on age restrictions or, in recent times, about covid rules and restrictions, face mask wearing and social distancing—and the only thanks that many of them have had for keeping the nation fed during the covid restrictions, and for going out to work every single day to make sure that happened, was to see the number of assaults on them double over that period. It is an absolute disgrace.

The Government say that the courts can already use this as an aggravating factor if necessary, but the law to charge people with assaulting an emergency worker was introduced even though that could already be used as an aggravating factor if necessary. New clause 90 is better because it covers not just shop workers, but all people who are on the frontline and providing a service to the public. I hope the other parties will reflect on that and support new clause 90.

Liz Saville Roberts Portrait Liz Saville Roberts
- View Speech - Hansard - - - Excerpts

Will the hon. Gentleman give way?

Philip Davies Portrait Philip Davies
- View Speech - Hansard - - - Excerpts

I am not going to give way, because so many people want to speak and there is not much time. I hope the right hon. Lady will forgive me.

New clause 90 is much better, and I hope hon. Members will support it. I will support new clause 31 as well, but new clause 90 is much better. These workers deserve our support. They have done so much for us over recent years. Surely the least that they can expect—the least that they can expect—from this House is for them to see that we are on their side, respect the job they have done and understand the terrible abuse they get, often, as I say, for very little reward, at the hands of their customers. We should be there to protect them.

This will just give the Crown Prosecution Service and the police an extra tool in their armoury to make sure that those who assault frontline workers and shop workers are brought to justice and to make sure that those shop workers and frontline workers get the justice they deserve. This House should be on their side, and I very much hope the Government, at this late stage, will reflect on this and accept new clause 90. It only uses the same wording as the Sentencing Council uses when it considers whether this should be an aggravating factor. It is well-used terminology to describe people who are providing a service to the public, including shop workers. This is a really important moment for the Government, and I hope that they will show they are on the side of our shop workers and frontline workers to whom we owe so much, particularly over the last 15 months.

Rosie Winterton Portrait Madam Deputy Speaker (Dame Rosie Winterton)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

As we will have to suspend the debate for the statement at 5 o’clock, after the next speaker I am going to put on a time limit of four minutes just to help guide colleagues.

Diana Johnson Portrait Dame Diana Johnson (Kingston upon Hull North) (Lab)
- View Speech - Hansard - - - Excerpts

Because of the time available, I am going to speak to the amendments tabled in my name. First, I will focus on new clauses 26 and 27, which would encourage the public to report all cases of sexual offending, including low-level or non-contact sexual offending, and amendments 20 to 24, which would put in place early interventions for referrals to treatment services to stop sexual offending escalating. There is a great deal of evidence that those who commit low-level or non-contact sexual offences will take more risks if not stopped, and move to increasingly violent sexual crimes.

16:29
In the case of Hull University student Libby Squire, who was raped and murdered in 2019, the defendant had been prowling the streets of Hull for 18 months, committing low-level sexual offences such as indecent exposure, voyeurism and burglary of women’s underwear and sex toys. Unfortunately, very few of his crimes were reported to the police before Libby went missing. I understand from talking to the police that even if the offender had been charged and convicted, little would have been done to address his offending behaviour, as his actions did not meet the required high threshold for a referral to specialist treatment services.
The status quo is not working to protect women and girls. These new clauses would interrupt a pattern of sexual offending behaviour at the earliest possible point and stop it escalating, helping to reduce the risk of sexual harm to women and girls and the wider public. Tackling the low public awareness of the importance of reporting sexual offences is crucial. That, and the focus on early intervention, are critical to help fight violence against women and girls.
I turn briefly to new clauses 44 to 50. These would criminalise those who pay for sexual activity with others, decriminalise those who are subject to commercial sexual exploitation and criminalise those who intend to profit from and/or advertise the commercial sexual exploitation of others. These clauses are designed to bust the business model of sex trafficking, which is taking place on an industrial scale in England and Wales. It is dominated by serious organised crime, using non-UK national women, advertising them on legal pimping websites such as Vivastreet and AdultWork, and moving them around networks of pop-up brothels and hotel rooms to be raped by paying punters.
These new clauses would bring our laws in line with those of France, Ireland, Northern Ireland, Sweden, Norway, Israel and Iceland. All those countries have criminalised paying for sex and decriminalised victims of sexual exploitation in order to put pimps and traffickers out of business. Difficult or inconvenient as it may be for some to confront this issue, there is simply no avoiding the reality that to stop sex trafficking, we have to deter demand from sex buyers and shut down pimping websites.
Finally, I refer to new clause 55, which I have tabled as a probing amendment in the light of abortion being decriminalised in Northern Ireland by this Government, to ascertain what the Government intend to do about women in England and Wales who are still subject to the criminal law under the Offences Against the Person Act 1861. For those who have spread much misinformation about what this new clause is about, let me be very clear. Decriminalisation of abortion does not mean deregulation of abortion, as we have seen in Northern Ireland. The behaviour of some hon. Members and national organisations, particularly on social media, is not helpful to the proper scrutiny and debate in this place of serious issues affecting the lives of vulnerable women, doctors, nurses and midwives.
Fiona Bruce Portrait Fiona Bruce (Congleton) (Con) [V]
- View Speech - Hansard - - - Excerpts

I speak to oppose new clauses 55 and 42, which I urge colleagues to vote against. New clause 55 is truly shocking on many counts. It would legalise abortions in this country right up to the moment of the birth of a child. No reason would need to be given. The current 24-week limit provision would go. The new clause would legalise sex-selective abortions: an abortion could be legally performed if someone chose to reject an unborn boy or girl. It would remove the requirement for abortions to be carried out by doctors, and the protection for women that abortions should take place on approved premises. It would remove the conscience clause: healthcare professionals could be required to conduct abortions contrary to their conscience or beliefs, or lose their job. It would sweep away current legal safeguards and protections not only for the unborn child, but many that protect women. The Abortion Act 1967 would, in effect, be void.

New clause 55 would be significantly more permissive than the Northern Ireland regulations introduced in 2020, and it would leave England and Wales with one of the most extreme abortion laws in the world. In Europe, the median gestational time limit for abortion is 12 weeks. Here, it is currently 24, with some exceptions. We should not be looking to increase it to 37 weeks—full term. Indeed, we should now be looking to lower it following medical advances over recent years regarding viability—the ability of a child to survive outside the womb at now 22 or even 21 weeks. The proposals are shocking: a viable human being could have his or her life ended up to the point of birth, with no one held accountable, and yet a day later similar actions against a child outside the womb would constitute murder. If, as has happened, the abortion procedure goes wrong, what then? Is the child to be left alone, crying and uncomforted, until it breathes its last? If new clause 55 were put to a vote, I am confident that it would be soundly defeated. The proposal has no place on the amendment paper. It has no place in this House. We are better than this. We are better than this as a Parliament. We are better than this as a country, and our constituents know it. Our inboxes have been flooded with calls to oppose new clause 55. I have had over 150 constituents email urging me to vote against new clause 55—not one constituent has asked me to support it. More than 800 medical professionals have today called for its withdrawal.

Reports indicate that only 1% of women want the current 24-week limit extended, with 70% wanting it lowered. It was lowered in 1990 from 28 weeks to 24 weeks as medical advances improved, and now is the time to reduce it further following greater such advancement. That is what we should be debating today, and I hope we soon will. Let today be a turning point in our approach towards the review of this country’s abortion laws. Let us determine to secure better protection for the unborn child and for women, not worse. New clause 55 has no place in a compassionate, civilised and humane society. If, as I now understand, the proposers tabled it as a probing amendment, then I hope, given the strength of opposition that has gathered in just a few days within and outside this House, they will never contemplate reintroducing it. We are better than this.

Sarah Champion Portrait Sarah Champion (Rotherham) (Lab) [V]
- View Speech - Hansard - - - Excerpts

It is an honour to speak in this debate after having served on the Bill Committee. While I am deeply worried about part 3 of the Bill, which undermines the right to protest, I will spend the short time I have on my amendments, which aim to improve the criminal justice response for victims and those at risk of sexual exploitation and all forms of abuse.

The 2019 national police wellbeing survey identified that 57% of police officers responding reported post-traumatic stress symptoms, which would warrant an evaluation for PTSD. A Police Federation survey of 18,000 members found that attending traumatic or distressing incidents was one of the top 10 reasons why respondents were having psychological difficulties at work. John Apter, chair of the Police Federation, stated in evidence to the Committee:

“The covenant gives us a great opportunity to put in place mandated levels of psychological support and training”.––[Official Report, Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Public Bill Committee, 18 May 2021; c. 20, Q30.]

My amendment 25 acts on those concerns and would ensure a clear focus within the police covenant on the impact of working with trauma, ensuring that the impact on officers’ wellbeing and morale is mitigated. We owe them that.

Turning to amendment 51, after years of campaigning with Baroness Grey-Thompson and the hon. Member for Chatham and Aylesford (Tracey Crouch) I welcome the measures in the Bill to extend the definition of positions of trust to include faith leaders and sports coaches, which is a vital step in improving safeguarding. However, the Bill still leaves children vulnerable to abuse from other adults in positions of trust, such as driving instructors, private tutors or counsellors. I urge Ministers to adopt my more comprehensive solution, which ensures that children across all activities and settings are protected from adults in positions of trust.

The Bill should do more to address child criminal exploitation. The Children’s Commissioner estimated that at least 27,000 children are at high risk of exploitation by gangs. Despite the scale of child criminal exploitation, there is a lack of shared understanding about what it is and the forms it takes. Questions are not consistently asked when children are identified as being associated with criminal activity. Children are arrested for crimes that they are being forced to commit, while the adults who exploit them are not brought to justice. My new clause 23 would introduce a statutory definition of “child criminal exploitation”. That would enable a shared understanding and a better multi-agency response, and it would support professionals to spot the signs of exploitation earlier and disrupt grooming.

Finally, I turn to new clause 24, which is supported by 41 Members across the House and to which the Minister gave a good hearing. I was astounded when I realised that registered sex offenders are changing their names without notifying the police, despite a legal requirement to do so. Current notification requirements leave the onus on the offender to report a change in their name. The result is that many slip under the radar of the police, with potentially devastating consequences. This serious safeguarding loophole leaves sex offenders free to get a new name, a new driving licence and a passport, and then to secure a new disclosure and barring service check, with which they can go on to gain jobs working with children and vulnerable people. Alarmingly, an FOI request by the Safeguarding Alliance, which I thank for its support on this matter, found that more than 900 registered sex offenders went missing between 2017 and 2020, and that was with only 16 of the 43 forces responding.

We cannot rely on sex offenders to inform the police themselves if they change their names. New clause 24 requires the Government to undertake a review into the problem and to propose solutions within a year of the Bill being passed. I hope that the strength of support for the clause will make the Minister consider working with me to get the changes we seek.

Sally-Ann Hart Portrait Sally-Ann Hart (Hastings and Rye) (Con)
- View Speech - Hansard - - - Excerpts

I welcome this Bill, which backs the police to cut crime, building on our record of cutting crime, backing our front-line officers and reforming our justice system to make sure that criminals spend longer in jail. However, I will focus my comments on new clauses 55 and 42.

Having an abortion is a significant, irreversible and life-changing event for a woman, and I know that most women do not make the decision to abort lightly. Women who seek abortions need compassionate advice and support, but probing new clause 55, tabled by the right hon. Member for Kingston upon Hull North (Dame Diana Johnson), is at odds with the recognition that abortion is a difficult and heavy decision that requires support and compassion. Removing safeguards and legal provision around abortion devalues women’s experience of abortion and drives the focus away from quality healthcare.

The amendment’s proposal to decriminalise abortion would, in my view and in the view of numerous constituents in Hastings and Rye who have contacted me on the subject, introduce abortion on demand for any reason up to birth. Abortion would be available on demand for any reason. Evidence shows that after a few weeks, unborn babies are sentient beings in the womb. Who gives them a voice? We should ask ourselves what kind of a society we are that we would condone that.

Diana Johnson Portrait Dame Diana Johnson
- View Speech - Hansard - - - Excerpts

As I expressed in my short contribution, we need to get the facts straight here. Will the hon. Lady point to where the amendment says that there will be no safeguards around abortion? It talks about decriminalisation, not deregulation.

Sally-Ann Hart Portrait Sally-Ann Hart
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

The right hon. Lady points out that the amendment talks about decriminalisation, but it does not underline the safeguards. As 800 or so medical professionals said in an open letter to her,

“Your proposal to allow abortion up to birth in this country would be to attack the heart of the medical profession: our core duty to protect life whenever and wherever possible.

The British public prides itself on being a reasonable, humane and tolerant society. Such an extreme and radical abortion law has no place in the UK.”

Seventy per cent. of women favour a reduction in abortion time limits, and we see from recent history that abortion time limits align to the viability of a baby—the point at which a baby can survive inside or outside the womb. We should therefore seek to reduce the time limit, save for exceptions.

New clause 42, introduced by the hon. Member for Ealing Central and Acton (Dr Huq), would impose censorship zones outside abortion clinics. That goes against the long-standing tradition in the UK that people are free to gather together to express their views. It also goes against this Government’s commitment to human rights and freedom of speech in our party manifesto. The right to protest is the cornerstone of our democracy.

Although I personally find it somewhat offensive and lacking in compassion for people to gather outside an abortion clinic, where women should be given space when accessing an abortion, what I find offensive may be different from what other people find offensive. If we ban speech or assembly because of the likelihood of causing offence, we will have to ban far more than demonstrations outside abortion clinics.

16:45
Robert Goodwill Portrait Mr Robert Goodwill (Scarborough and Whitby) (Con)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

Does my hon. Friend agree that many abortion clinics are co-located with general hospitals, which could curtail the rights of trade unionists and health workers to demonstrate outside their own hospital?

Sally-Ann Hart Portrait Sally-Ann Hart
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I acknowledge that that is the case. If we cannot have demonstrations, that sets a dangerous precedent, and I urge hon. Members to reject the new clause. Current laws provide wide-ranging powers for authorities to keep public order and protect women and the public from genuine harassment and intimidation. An extensive review undertaken by the Home Office in 2018 concluded that

“legislation already exists to restrict protest activities that cause harm to others.”

Most notably, under section 59 of the Anti-Social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014, public space protection orders can be used. The UK’s first buffer zone around an abortion clinic was established in 2018 by Ealing Council, in the constituency of the hon. Member for Ealing Central and Acton, using a public space protection order. It prevents protesters from gathering up to 100 metres from the clinic. Other local authority areas have brought in similar public space protection orders. In summary, I urge Members of the House to reject the new clause.

Bell Ribeiro-Addy Portrait Bell Ribeiro-Addy (Streatham) (Lab)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I rise to speak to the new clauses in my name, and owing to time constraints I will focus my comments mainly on those. I would, however, like to give my right hon. Friend the Member for Kingston upon Hull North (Dame Diana Johnson) the chance to intervene further.

Diana Johnson Portrait Dame Diana Johnson
- View Speech - Hansard - - - Excerpts

I am grateful to my hon. Friend. When discussing these types of issues in this House, we must look carefully at what is actually in the amendments. We should not just say what we think is in the amendment; we should look at its actual drafting. This Bill is about the criminal law and justice system. It is not about safeguards or anything else to do with healthcare. My amendment is specifically about decriminalisation, as the Government have already done in Northern Ireland.

Bell Ribeiro-Addy Portrait Bell Ribeiro-Addy
- View Speech - Hansard - - - Excerpts

Let me highlight the amendments and new clauses that I seek to support, including those on the right to protest in the names of the right hon. Member for Orkney and Shetland (Mr Carmichael) and my hon. Friend the Member for Coventry South (Zarah Sultana). I support those amendments that seek to stand up against the discrimination and persecution of the Gypsy, Roma and Traveller communities, particularly those tabled by my hon. Friends the Members for Liverpool, West Derby (Ian Byrne) and for City of Durham (Mary Kelly Foy), and those that challenge wider inequalities in the criminal justice system, from class to age, race, sexuality, disability and gender, including the new clause tabled by my hon. Friend the Member for Leicester East (Claudia Webbe). I oppose the introduction of secure academies for 16 to 19-year-olds, which is essentially the expansion of child prisons, as reflected in the new clause tabled by my hon. Friend the Member for Poplar and Limehouse (Apsana Begum). I will also support any other amendment or new clause that seeks to remove or address the sinister nature of the Bill.

We can be under no illusion—this is yet another authoritarian clampdown on our civil liberties. The right to peaceful assembly and protest is a fundamental principle of any democracy, and the rich tradition of dissent in this country shows us that such actions can change the course of history. They are the reason that someone of my race, class and gender has the rights I have, and why I can stand here as a Member of this House. We must not forget that the struggles and protests being demonised by this Bill are seen as the milestones of progress in our society. The suffrage movement, for example, faced considerable state repression and police brutality.

My new clauses 56 and 57 call respectively for a review of stop-and-search powers and for a public inquiry into how the criminal justice system affects black, Asian and minority ethnic people. BAME people are more than nine times as likely to be stopped and searched by police, yet this Government think that it is okay just to plough ahead, exacerbating the situation further. Just last week, the United Nations released a report analysing racial justice in the aftermath of the death of George Floyd and called on member states, including the UK, to end impunity for police officers who violate the human rights of black people. A 2019 report by the Women and Equalities Committee recognised that Gypsy, Roma and Traveller communities are one of the most persecuted groups in Europe, yet the Government seek literally to persecute them further through the Bill.

We need a full public inquiry into the disproportionality that exists at every single level and junction of the criminal justice system. High prosecution rates, higher custody rates, longer-than-average custodial sentences, disproportionate representation in the prison system and deaths in custody—this is what under-represented communities have come to expect. We need answers, and then we need justice in order to move forward.

The Black Lives Matter movement and the protests that sprang from it sought to challenge these injustices—and what was the Government’s response to national calls to end institutional racism? It was to commission a report that said there was no institutional racism, and to introduce a policing Bill that will only further criminalise and brutalise these communities. If the Government were actually listening to what the BLM protesters said, they would not be bringing in a Bill like this.

Why not follow the example of the England football team, who have inspired us during Euro 2020 not only with their football prowess, but with their collective and principled bravery in taking the knee, representing the very best of us and our communities? To quote Gareth Southgate, it is about a

“duty to continue to interact with the public on matters such as equality, inclusivity and racial injustice, while using the power of their voices to help put debates on the table, raise awareness and educate”.

He is a football manager—he does not work for this House, but he does much better than we do, day to day.

I know with all my heart that I am on the right side of history. I urge hon. Members to stand with me and stop the criminalisation of black, Asian and minority ethnic communities, of Gypsy, Roma and Traveller communities and of every single under-represented group that will be destroyed by legislation such as this.

Rosie Winterton Portrait Madam Deputy Speaker (Dame Rosie Winterton)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

Could the last two speakers stick to four minutes?

Danny Kruger Portrait Danny Kruger (Devizes) (Con)
- View Speech - Hansard - - - Excerpts

Thank you, Madam Deputy Speaker. I will speak quickly about new clauses 42 and 55, which concern the regulation of abortion.

New clause 42, tabled by the hon. Member for Ealing Central and Acton (Dr Huq), proposes the creation of censorship zones around abortion clinics. The intention behind it is to stop the harassment of women seeking abortion.

We already have laws against harassment which can be, and are, applied. We also already have public order laws that allow councils to impose restrictions regarding specific clinics that are experiencing any real public order difficulties, so the activity that the new clause proposes to criminalise is peaceful, passive, non-obstructive activity—less disruptive than the sort of protests that Opposition Members are so busy trying to defend today. I recognise the good faith behind the new clause, but in practice it is an attempt to criminalise the expression of an opinion. I cite the campaigner Peter Tatchell, who said today that it is an

“unjustifiable restriction on the right to free expression.”

I urge the House to vote it down.

New clause 55, tabled by the right hon. Friend the Member for Kingston upon Hull North (Dame Diana Johnson), would not criminalise anything; it would decriminalise something, namely abortion itself up to term. It would effectively legalise abortion on demand up to birth. She is keen that we pay attention to the text of her new clause, so I shall quote from it:

“No offence is committed…by…a woman who terminates her own pregnancy or who assists in or consents to such termination”.

The effect would be to legalise or to decriminalise abortion up to birth.

I am not arguing that the new clause is an attempt to deregulate abortion, although I believe that that might be the effect; my objection is to the principle. It says a very, very terrible thing about the value that we place on an unborn life if we simply say that it should be determined by whether or not the mother would like to keep it—by whether that baby is wanted or not. Let us think of that in terms of other lives—a newborn child, a disabled person or a vulnerable elderly person: when their family is unable to look after them, the community and the state step in. We should apply that principle in the case of a child in the womb, especially one that is still viable and could live outside the womb. I urge the House not to support new clause 55.

Alistair Carmichael Portrait Mr Alistair Carmichael (Orkney and Shetland) (LD)
- View Speech - Hansard - - - Excerpts

I will speak to amendment 1, which has cross-party support, and amendments 2 to 7, which would remove the provisions in the Bill that affect the right to protest.

In passing, I point out that a number of other issues are in play today, and goodness only knows what such a debate must look like to those looking in from the outside, but that is the consequence of the inadequacy of the time that has been made available to us. I will therefore limit my remarks strictly to the amendments that stand in my name.

Essentially the objection that many of us have to the proposals is that, first, the Government have got the balance badly wrong, and, secondly, their language in trying to strike that balance is among the vaguest and most imprecise I have ever seen as either a legal practitioner or a parliamentarian.

To ban protest on the basis that it would be noisy or cause serious annoyance may appeal to many parents of teenagers up and down the country, but we have to do rather better when fundamental issues of free speech are in play. Many years ago, it was said—the hon. and learned Member for Edinburgh South West (Joanna Cherry) may have heard the same thing—that in Scots law, a breach of the peace was almost anything that two cops did not quite like the look of. It seems to me that what the Government want to do here, in regulating not the conduct of a few drunks on the high street on a Saturday night but the fundamental right to protest, is to take the law back to that imprecise state of affairs. The risk is that that serves only to pit the police against the protesters. It will not be the Home Secretary who makes a decision about what is noisy and causes serious annoyance, but police officers, often those on the ground at the time. That risks undermining the fundamental principle of policing by consent, which has always underpinned the way in which we police protest and, indeed, all behaviour in this country.

I remain of the view that the provisions will be ineffective and have a chilling effect. I do not believe for one second that, if the Bill becomes law, Extinction Rebellion will look at it and say, “Oh well, we can’t possibly go out and protest on the streets of the capital. We’d maybe better just go home and email our Members of Parliament.” Although I have heard some in the House say that even that is seriously annoying sometimes. The Bill will not stop Extinction Rebellion protesting.

However, communities throughout the country who face a challenge to hospitals, schools, traffic management and so on will look at the Bill and think, “Actually, it’s not safe for us to use our voice and to protest against what is being done to our community.” For that reason, as in so many other cases, I believe that this is a fundamentally mistaken provision. The only amendments we can seek to introduce are those that would excise it from the Bill, where they should never have been in the first place.

Steve Brine Portrait Steve Brine (Winchester) (Con)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

Will the right hon. Gentleman give way?

Alistair Carmichael Portrait Mr Carmichael
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

If the hon. Gentleman can intervene in nine seconds.

Steve Brine Portrait Steve Brine
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I am listening to what the right hon. Gentleman says. He does not want Conservative Members to smear Opposition amendments, so in that spirit, I point out that the Bill does not ban protest. Is he not tempted by new clause 85, which my hon. Friend the Member for Huntingdon (Mr Djanogly) spoke about, and which provides for a code for the policing of protest?

Rosie Winterton Portrait Madam Deputy Speaker (Dame Rosie Winterton)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I am sorry, but I will have to ask the right hon. Gentleman to take 30 seconds.

Alistair Carmichael Portrait Mr Carmichael
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

And 30 seconds, because of the nature of the programme motion that the House has passed, is inadequate, so I am afraid I will pass the hon. Gentleman up on that. There might be some future point at which we can return to it. That shows the inadequacy of the way the Government are dealing with this. In the absence of any amendable propositions, I urge the House simply to take these provisions out of the Bill.

Debate interrupted.

Rosie Winterton Portrait Madam Deputy Speaker
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I am going to suspend the House for one minute. After the statement, there will be a three-minute limit on speeches.

16:59
Sitting suspended.

Covid-19 Update

Monday 5th July 2021

(3 years ago)

Commons Chamber
Read Full debate Read Hansard Text Watch Debate Read Debate Ministerial Extracts
Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

Before I call the Secretary of State, I would like to point out that a British Sign Language interpretation of the statement will be available to watch on parliamentlive.tv. I call Secretary Javid to make his statement—and I welcome him back to the Front Bench at the same time.

17:02
Sajid Javid Portrait The Secretary of State for Health and Social Care (Sajid Javid)
- View Speech - Hansard - - - Excerpts

Thank you, Mr Speaker, and I am extremely grateful to you for accommodating the timing of this statement.

I would like to update the House on the pandemic and our road map to freedom. This morning, I joined some of the remarkable people who have been at the heart of the pandemic response at a service to mark the NHS’s 73th birthday at St Paul’s Cathedral. Together, we reflected on a year like no other for the NHS and for our country. I know that hon. Members on both sides of the House will join me in celebrating the decision by Her Majesty the Queen to award the NHS the George Cross. I can think of no more fitting tribute to the NHS. I know that everyone in this House—indeed, everyone in this country—will celebrate that award.

There is no greater demonstration of our high regard for the NHS than the manner in which we all stepped up to protect it. Now, it is thanks to the NHS and many others that we are vaccinating our way out of this pandemic and out of these restrictions. Eighty-six per cent. of UK adults have had at least one jab, and 64% have had two. We are reinforcing our vaccine wall of defence further still. I can tell the House that we are reducing the dose interval for under-40s from 12 weeks to eight, which will mean that every adult should have had the chance to be double-jabbed by mid-September.

And those vaccines are working. The latest data from the Office for National Statistics shows that eight in 10 adults have the covid-19 antibodies that are so important in helping our bodies to fight this disease. When we look at people aged over 50—the people who got the jab earlier in the programme—that figure rises to more than nine in 10. Allow me to set out why all this is so important.

Before we started putting jabs into arms, whenever we saw a rise in cases, it would inevitably be followed by a rise in hospitalisations and, tragically, a rise in deaths. Yet today, even though cases are heading upwards, in line with what we expected, hospitalisations are increasing at a much lower rate and deaths are at just 1% of the figure that we saw at the peak. Our vaccines are building a wall of protection against hospitalisation. And, jab by jab, brick by brick, that wall is getting higher.

For those people who sadly do find themselves having to go to hospital, we have better treatments than ever before. Last week on my visit to St Thomas’ Hospital, clinicians were telling me just how transformative dexamethasone has been in their effort to save lives. Taken together, the link between cases, hospitalisations and deaths is being severely weakened. That means that we can start to learn to live with covid.

As we do that, it is important that we are straight with the British people. Cases of covid-19 are rising and will continue to rise significantly. We can reasonably expect that, by 19 July, the number of daily cases will be far higher than today. Against this backdrop, many people will be understandably cautious about easing restrictions. After many months of uncertainty, that is entirely natural. But we can now protect the NHS without having to go to the extraordinary lengths that we have had to in the past. That is not to say that this is going to be easy.

Of course, the pandemic is not over. The virus is still with us; it has not gone away. The risk of a dangerous new variant that evades vaccines remains real. We know that, with covid-19, the situation can change and it can change quickly, but we cannot put our lives on hold forever. My responsibility as Secretary of State for Health and Social Care includes helping us to turn and face the other challenges that we know we must also address, from mental health to social care to the challenges of long covid. I am also determined to get to work on busting the backlog—the backlog that has been caused by this pandemic and which we know will get a lot worse before it gets better.

As I set out to the House last week, I remain confident that we can move to step 4 in England on 19 July and that the Government will make their final decision on this on 12 July, so today I wish to set out further details of what step 4 will look like. In essence, our national response to covid will change from one of rules and regulations to one of guidance and good sense. We will revoke all social distancing guidance, including the 2 metre rule, except for in specific settings such as ports of entry and medical settings, where of course it would continue to make sense.

It will no longer be a legal requirement to wear face coverings in any setting, including public transport, although we will advise this as a voluntary measure for crowded and enclosed spaces. It will no longer be necessary to work from home. There will be no limits on the number of people we can meet. There will no limits on the number of people who can attend life events such as weddings and funerals, and there will be no restrictions on communal worship or singing.

We will remove legal requirements on how businesses operate. Capacity caps will all be lifted and there will no longer be any requirement to offer table service. All businesses that were forced to close their doors will be able to open them once again. And we will lift the cap on named care home visitors so that families can come together in the ways they choose to do so. Ministers will provide further statements this week on self-isolation for fully vaccinated people, including for international travel, and on restrictions in education settings, including the removal of bubbles and contact isolation in schools.

Today, I can also confirm to the House that we have completed our review of certification. While already a feature of international travel, we have concluded that we do not think using certification as a condition of entry is a way to go. For people who have not been offered a full course of vaccination and for businesses, we felt that the impact outweighed the public health benefits. Of course, businesses can use covid-status certification at their own discretion and, from step 4 onwards, the NHS covid pass will be accessible through the NHS app and other digital routes. This will be the main way that people can provide their covid status—a status that they will achieve once they have completed a full vaccine course, a recent negative test or some other proof of natural immunity.

Taken together, step 4 is the biggest step of all: a restoration of so many of the freedoms that make this country great. We know that, as a consequence, cases will rise, just as they have done at every step on our road map, but this time our wall of protection will help us.

While step 4 will be the moment to let go of many restrictions, we must hold on to those everyday, sensible decisions that can help make us all safe. The responsibility to combat covid-19 lies with each and every one of us. That means staying at home when you are asked to self-isolate. It means considering the guidance that we are setting out, and it means getting the jab—both doses. When you are offered it, please, please take the jabs. This is something that everyone can do to make a contribution towards this national effort. It may even mean, for some people, that they will get three jabs in a single year. Last week, the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation provided interim advice on who to prioritise for a third dose, and our most vulnerable will be offered booster covid-19 jabs from September in time for the winter.

And preparing for the winter ahead is not just about covid, but flu as well. Because of the measures in place this winter, almost nobody in the UK has had flu for 18 months now. That is obviously a good thing but it does mean that immunity from flu is down. This winter’s flu campaign will be more important than ever, and we are currently looking at whether we can give people the covid-19 booster shot and the flu jab at the same time.

Step 4 is the next step in our country’s journey out of this pandemic. I know that, after so many difficult months, it is a step that many of us will look upon with a great deal of caution, but it is one that we will all take together, with a growing wall of defence against this virus—a wall that each and every one of us can help build higher. It is vital that each of us plays our part to protect ourselves and to protect others into better days ahead. I commend this statement to the House.

17:13
Jonathan Ashworth Portrait Jonathan Ashworth (Leicester South) (Lab/Co-op)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I start by paying tribute to our NHS on its 73rd anniversary and thank again our extraordinary health and care workforce. The best birthday present they could have, of course, is a fair pay rise, not the proposed real-terms pay cut that is currently on offer.

We all want to see these restrictions end. Lockdowns are a sign of policy failure and I hope that, when the Secretary of State makes the final decision next week, it will be based on the data, the modelling and the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies advice, but let us be absolutely clear about what he is talking about today. When only 50% of the total population across England are fully vaccinated and another 17% are partially, his strategy, as he indeed was gracious enough to concede, accepts that infections will surge further and continue to rise steeply, and accepts that hospitalisations will continue to rise until they reach a peak—presumably later this summer. Some of those hospitalised will sadly die, and thousands upon thousands of mostly children and younger people, but others as well, will be left exposed to a virus mainly because they have no vaccination protection—we also know that even double-jabbed people can catch and transmit the virus—and many of them will be at risk of serious long-term chronic illness, the personal impact of which may be felt for years to come.

Even though vaccination may have broken the link with mortality, there are still questions about the link to morbidity. As part of the Secretary of State’s strategy of learning to live with covid, will he spell out today for the British public what that actually means? How many deaths does he consider are acceptable when we are living with covid? How many cases of long covid does he consider acceptable when we are living with covid? Given that we know that covid can escape and evolve when the virus circulates at high rates, what risk assessment has he done on the possibility of a new variant emerging? Will he publish it?

The Secretary of State says that every date for unlocking carries risk and that that is why we need to learn to live with covid, but we should not have to take a high-risk approach. We should be pushing down risk. Indeed, we mitigate risk across society all the time. We do not just accept other diseases; we take interventions to try to prevent them. Why is he therefore collapsing all mitigations completely when he knows that covid rates will continue to rise? He will be aware that Israel has reintroduced its mask mandate because of the delta variant, so why is he planning to bin ours? Masks do not restrict freedoms in a pandemic when so much virus is circulating. They ensure that everyone who goes to the shops or who takes public transport can do so safely, because wearing a mask protects others. If nobody is masked, covid risk increases and we are all less safe. He must understand that those in the shielding community are particularly anxious. Why should they feel shut out of public transport and shops because he has abandoned the mask mandate? That is no definition of freedom that I recognise.

Who else suffers when masks are removed? It is those working in shops, those who drive the buses, those who drive taxis and those who work in hospitality—it is the low-paid workers who have also been without access to decent sick pay. Many of them live in overcrowded accommodation. It is those who have been savagely, disproportionately impacted by the virus from day one and now the Secretary of State is asking them to bear the brunt of the increased risk again. Will he explain why he thinks abandoning masks is a sensible proposal to follow?

Given that people will still need to isolate, as the Secretary of State recognised, and that test and trace will still be in operation, will he accept that living with the virus will mean that, more so than ever, those who are sick will need to isolate themselves from the rest of society? Will he therefore ensure that they are paid proper sick pay and isolation support to do it? Does he agree that it has been a monstrous failure of the past 15 months that isolation support has not been in place?

Now, masks are effective because we know that the virus is airborne. The Secretary of State could therefore further mitigate covid risks by insisting on ventilation standards in premises and crowded buildings. He could offer grants for air filtration systems. Instead, all we get is more Government advice. Ventilation in buildings and grants to support air filtration systems do not restrict anyone’s freedoms. Indeed, they would probably help get back into school some of those 400,000 children who have been off school because of covid.

Yesterday, the Secretary of State said that he believed the best way to protect the nation’s health was to lift all restrictions. I know he boasts of his student years at Harvard studying pandemics, but I think he may well have missed the tutorial on infectious disease control because widespread transmission will not make us healthier. We are not out of the woods yet. We want to see lockdown end, but we need those lifesaving mitigations in place. We need sick pay, local contact tracing, continued mask wearing on public transport and ventilation in buildings and schools to prevent further illness. I hope, when the right hon. Gentleman returns next week, he has put those measures in place.