The Reform Clause 1 campaign succeeded in its aim to amend Clause 1. The change is now incorporated in Section 1 of the Anti-Social Behaviour Crime and Policing Act 2014 and came into force in October 2014.


January 10, 2014

Sir Edward Leigh MP has urged the Minister to accept Lord Dear’s amendment to reform Clause 1 of the Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Bill, after the Government suffered a crushing defeat in the House of Lords on Wednesday.

He said the House of Lords had “sent a very clear message to the Government that their plans to outlaw annoying and nuisance behaviour are unclear, represent muddled thinking and could have a chilling effect on free speech.

“As Lord MacDonald, the former Director of Public Prosecutions pointed out in a legal opinion, the legislation could be used to stop street preachers, political protestors and even buskers, as they are all capable of causing a nuisance or annoyance to someone at some point.

“This is why 306 peers, including 89 out of 91 Crossbenchers, 25 Conservatives and 16 Lib Dems, agreed that the wording of this Bill was draconian, illiberal and had to be changed.”

Sir Edward continued: “It was interesting to note that despite repeated questions, the Government side failed to give a single example of thuggish and loutish behaviour that would not be caught by the existing ASBO wording – not one!

“And the size of the majority against their proposals, which seems to have caught them by surprise, puts huge pressure on the Minister to accept these changes to the legislation.

“I hope that Mr Baker accepts the amendments from Lord Dear as they strengthen the Bill rather than weaken it, which is why these changes are backed by a range of civil liberty groups, the police and many of his own colleagues.”

Peers voted 306 to 178 in favour of Lord Dear’s amendment to protect free speech. The amendment seeks to replace the Government’s proposed ‘nuisance or annoyance’ threshold for its new injunctions, with the tried and tested phrase ‘harassment, alarm or distress’.

The Bill will move to the House of Commons where MPs will vote on whether to accept the amendment. Write to your MP now by following this link and clicking ‘Get Involved’.