Whilst supporting the right to protest as fundamental to our democracy, Harriett Baldwin asks the Home Secretary if the police need new powers to deter the extreme activity of gluing oneself to parts of our national infrastructure.
Protestor Activity: Risk to Infrastructure and Public Safety
Harriett Baldwin (West Worcestershire) (Con)
6. What steps she is taking to ensure that activities by protestors do not create excessive risk to national infrastructure and public safety. (901261)
The Secretary of State for the Home Department (Priti Patel)
We live in a vibrant, open country, where we all enjoy the right to lawful, peaceful protest. However, I, the public and, no doubt, my hon. Friend are increasingly incensed by the attention-seeking antics of a small band of publicity-hungry lawbreakers intent on causing disruption for the law-abiding majority. We have a proud tradition of upholding the rule of law, and those who trespass and cause criminal damage should face the full force of the law.
As the Home Secretary says, the right to protest is fundamental to our democracy, but this new activity of gluing oneself to parts of our national infrastructure—indeed, gluing oneself to your Chair, Mr Speaker—is absolutely unacceptable. Does the Home Secretary need to give the police more powers to deter such activities?
My hon. Friend raises some really important points, and this comes back to your opening remarks, Mr Speaker, about the season of protest that seems to be taking place, which has actually become an annual thing, particularly with Extinction Rebellion and others. First and foremost, she asks about police powers. I give credit and pay tribute to the police, because they use specialist skills to de-glue or de-bond. But had we not seen the measures introduced in the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Act 2022 earlier this year thrown out by Labour Lords, the police would have had the powers to deal with these types of protests. Of course, the Public Order Bill, which is going through the House right now, will absolutely double down and reaffirm those powers.