MPs Attempt To Improve Free Speech in Great Britain

Discussion in 'News and Current Events' started by hushpuppy, Oct 6, 2011.

  1. hushpuppy Member

    MPs want 'insulting words' axed from Public Order Act

    Talking of unlikely political alliances, the combined weight of "faith, family and flag" Tory Edward Leigh, Labour troublemaker Tom Watson, Lib Dem patriach Alan Beith and radical Liberal Julian Huppert (plus more than 50 other MPs) is mustered behind an amendment to the Protection of Freedoms Bill, which might just get discussed next week.
    The Bill is supposed to remove various onerous intrusions on individual liberties that have built up over the years - restrictions on peaceful demonstrations, DNA databases, CCTV etc - and I'm told it more or less abolishes wheel-clamping.
    Mr Leigh and his supporters want to remove "insulting words" from the scope of the 1986 Public Order Act, arguing that it is used by activist groups and over-zealous police officers to undermine free speech.
    They point to anti-scientology protesters threatened with prosecution under section 5 for calling scientology a "cult"; campaigners warned under section 5 for protesting against seal culling; Christian street preachers arrested and handcuffed for allegedly "insulting" passers-by with their doctrines. And, in any case, they suggest, it is no business of the law to criminalise insults.
    Under the usual rules their amendment, New Clause 1, would have been considered at the beginning of the Bill's Report Stage, due on Monday.
    But a Government Programme Motion published on 15 September pushes it to the back of the queue - guaranteeing that it will not be debated. Mr Leigh argues his amendment is precisely the kind of thing that ought to be included in the Bill. In a round robin to MPs, he writes: "New Clause 1 is designed to improve freedom of speech and is supported by civil liberties groups. It seems quite wrong - not to say ironic - that Members will be denied the opportunity to debate free speech."
    He has taken the unusual step of tabling an amendment to the programme which would restore he new clause to the front of the queue
    The selection of amendments is in the hands of the Speaker - so this will be an interesting opening day of the new term for John Bercow, who has made opening up the procedures of the Commons to backbenchers a priority.
    He has infuriated ministers on a number of occasions - allowing the debate on the hacking scandal, refusing to select a Government amendment to a backbench motion and so on. Will he allow the Leigh amendment to get to the wicket?
    MPs want 'insulting words' axed from Public Order Act – BBC News
    • Like Like x 7
  2. Anonymous Member

    What has been said cannot be unsaid.
  3. Anonymous Member

    This was debated in the House of Commons yesterday and defeated. The following exchange is worthy of note:
    For video, see the BBC's report (20:22).
  4. Anonymous Member

    We like this Ben Gummer.

  5. Anonymous Member

  6. cfanon Member

    I dunno, I wouldn't judge him purely on who his dad is. What has he himself done?

  7. cfanon Member

  8. DeathHamster Member

    • Like Like x 5
  9. Anonymous Member

    Bit of a coincidence him being there, if it's nothing to do with who his dad is.

    Looks like his constituency is next-door to his dad's old one:
    which is another remarkable coincidence! Perhaps some of the people in the constituency parties for the two areas know one another, do you think?

    Anyway, I don't really want to beat on him, since he's on our side. Just hate his dad.
  10. cfanon Member

    Don't like his voting record much. Not a complete douche though.

    My point wasn't whether it was a coincidence, or not. More that he should be judged on his own merits.
  11. greebly Member

    Nice find thankyou:)
    scribbles down notes.
  12. Sponge Member

  13. Anonymous Member

    And my point was that the constituency party certainly judged him on his paternity rather than his merits.

    And that's how he got the seat.

    (Otherwise, it's a massive great coincidence that the most capable candidate happened to be the son of the previous candidate in the neighbouring constituency.)

    Which, in my view, sucks balls.

    Hereditary appointment of MPs = Do Not Want.
  14. Anonymous Member

    Oh pulleeze, no armchair politics. There are more than 50 MPs supporting this ammendment. You gonna analyse every one, and their dads, ITT? Stay on target plox.
  15. WhiteNight Member

    He's a Tory. He's got to vote with his party on manifesto issues in order to ratain his seat within the party (I'm refering to the tuition things).
    All in all I like him.
  16. cfanon Member

    Figured you'd dislike him voting for the anti-terrorism law. Personally defending free speech and supporting gay marriage are two things I like about him, but overall I'm undecided.
  17. Anonymous Member

    not that we're now completely off-topic or anything
  18. in an epic attempt to wrench this thread back on-topic...

    this is the relevant vote, right?

  19. WhiteNight Member

    Part of the knee-jerk after 7/7 so I'll forgive him. Parliament needed to be "seen to be taking action". My complaint is that no one is trying to get them repealed. Instead they're trying to get rid of the Human Rights Act.
    Kinda, but this is more relevant:
    They're at the "Report" stage. The system is:
    1st Reading - Proposal + introduction to the bill
    2nd - Wide + generalised debate, vote.
    Commitee - Public Bill Commitee goes through it clause by clause.
    Report - They report upon ammendments suggested
    3rd - If suggested amendments are approved the Commons votes again and it probably gets a "yes" and goes to the House of Lords.

    House of Lords:
    Follows the same structure as above but generally they:
    Debate and make further amendments
    These amendments are refered back to the Commons.
    Commons agrees or disagrees.
    If they agree then Royal Assent is given and it becomes an Act.
    If they disagree then the Commons have to start from the 2nd Reading again.

    I should be getting paid for this.
  20. Anonymous Member

    His father spoke against the scientology cult in 2005:

    Mr. John Gummer (Suffolk, Coastal) (Con): May I take the Home Secretary back to the point about who defines what a religion is? When Lafayette Ron Hubbard set up scientology, he found it convenient to call it the Church of Scientology, but it is actually a dangerous organisation that preys on people with mental illness, and most of us would want to make that clear. However, it would be difficult to do so without indicating that one was very unhappy about those who promulgate scientology and make money from it. Self-certification of religion could be a means for outrageous and sometimes criminal organisations to protect themselves, which must be of considerable concern.
  21. That's very interesting. Nice find, Anon.

    I wonder if they have some family or friend connection to someone who's been exploited by Scientology?

    Maybe Gummer Sr is just unusually well-informed on the mattter, and has passed on the info to Jr.
  22. Further research:

    More from Hansard:

    Edward Leigh:

    so the expectation seems to be that the Lords will amend the bill.

    Current status of the bill is here:

    meaning that it's just passed the third reading and will now go to the house of Lords.

    The Bill itself is here:

    and its associated documents are here:

    Anons can attend a future Bill Workshop - on how the public can affect bills
    Email to sign up for mailing list

    I don't see anything from Liberty on this issue
    which is a shame.

    Discussion point: Do we need/want to take any action and if so then what?

    It seems the Lords will be the place to lobby, if lobbying is needed.
  23. Anonymous Member

    Riot curfews for public proposed by Home Office – The Guardian


  24. Depends how 'limited' the 'limited time' is.

    If it's for one evening, that's one thing. If it's for months at a time then that's another.

    Also depends on who can issue the order - police themselves? a judge?
  25. Metis Member

    The lords is the best arena to fight a bill once its in motion and passed the second reading stage, the whips take over in the commons after that forcing MP's to vote along their party lines and given the government tend not to go through with bills they may end up loosing it seems foolish to waste attention there. The Lords (although undemocratic and flawed) are not under the same constraints as the MP's in the commons so members are capable of voting with more autonomony.
    • Like Like x 2
  26. hushpuppy Member

    Government consults on removing 'insulting' speech from Public Order ActNational Secular Society

    The Home Office has launched a public consultation asking whether ‘insulting’ words or behaviour should continue to be a crime.

    The consultation is now open and closes on 13 January 2012.

    The full consultation document on police powers to promote and maintain public order can be read online here.
    You can respond online here.
  27. Anonymous Member

    Wouldn't that see a lot of MPs end up in jail?
  28. Anonymous Member

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