Yesterday (January 30) drama unfolded in the upper chamber as XR protesters were ‘forcibly removed’ during votes on the controversial Public Order Bill. Extinction Rebellion released footage of the demonstration which saw 12 members of the pressure group escorted out the building by security staff.
Campaigners attended the reading wearing tops featuring the slogan Defend Human Rights. No arrests were made during or after the incident but the House of Lords was adjourned following the demonstration.
The Public Order Bill - which directly affects civil disobedience groups such as XR, Just Stop Oil and Insulate Britain - faced a number of setbacks in the Lords. Firstly, peers voted in favour of a higher threshold for police to intervene in protests, demanding a more precise definition of “serious disruption” for police to block action.
Another move sought to prevent protesters from using “an issue of current debate” as a defence and means to cause civil disobedience. It was narrowly defeated by 224 votes to 221, majority three.
The draft legislation will now be sent back to the House of Commons in order to be amended in what is known as Parliamentary Ping-Pong. The bill has to pass in its entirety in the upper chamber to be given royal assent and become UK law.