Peers block law on being annoying in public


Peers debate the proposal: from BBC Democracy Live

Related Stories

Peers have voted against a government proposal under which courts could stop people being annoying in public.

Ministers want to replace anti-social behaviour orders in England and Wales with injunctions to prevent nuisance and annoyance (Ipnas).

Courts could impose these on anyone engaging - or threatening to engage - in "conduct capable of causing nuisance or annoyance to any person".

But the government was defeated by 306 to 178 votes in the Lords.

The 128-vote defeat came despite ministers offering to hold talks about how the proposed measure could be improved.

Start Quote

Our aim is to ensure that decent law-abiding people can go about their daily lives, engage in normal behaviour... without having their own freedoms constrained by anti-social individuals”

End Quote Lord Taylor of Holbeach Home Office minister

The BBC's deputy political editor James Landale said many peers believed the new injunction would undermine freedom of speech and association.

Crossbench peer Lord Dear, who led opposition to the plan, said anyone over the age of 10 could be served with an Ipna, which could last for an indefinite period of time and result in a prison term if breached.

"It risks it being used for those who seek to protest peacefully, noisy children in the street, street preachers, canvassers, carol singers, trick-or-treaters, church bell ringers, clay pigeon shooters, nudists," he said.

"This is a crowded island that we live in and we must exercise a degree surely of tolerance and forbearance."

Campaigners said the laws would not deter those most intent on causing trouble and likely to be committing other offences.

"But it will give massive power to the authorities to seek court orders to silence people guilty of nothing more than breaching political correctness or social etiquette," Reform Clause 1 campaign director Simon Calvert said.

'Elastic term'

Crossbencher Lord Blair of Boughton, a former commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, said: "This is a piece of absolutely awful legislation and we should seek to avoid it."

Former Labour Attorney General Lord Morris of Aberavon criticised the Home Office for bringing forward "ill thought out" proposals with "little regard for the consequences".

"The Home Office I fear, from time to time, does not fulfil a purpose as a guardian of our liberties and as a watchtower against infringement of those liberties," he said, arguing that the words harassment, alarm and distress had been well tested in the courts.

"Nuisance and annoyance is such an elastic term that, if applied widely, can be open-ended machinery which would catch all sorts of people who really should not be before the courts," he concluded.

The Home Office has said the new injunctions - part of the Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Bill - would never be imposed in an unreasonable way.

And Home Office minister Lord Taylor of Holbeach denied that the bill would create a "chilling effect" on free speech.

"Lords have suggested, for example, that an injunction could be sought against bell ringers or street preacher or carol singers or indeed others engaging in perfectly normal everyday activities.

"That is clearly not the government's purpose. It is my belief that these concerns are misplaced. The purpose of our reforms is not to prevent people exercising their rights to protests and free speech.

"Our aim is to ensure that decent law-abiding people can go about their daily lives, engage in normal behaviour and enjoy public and private behaviour without having their own freedoms constrained by anti-social individuals."

The government could seek to reinsert the proposal in the bill later in its passage through the Lords and, if that fails, when it returns to the House of Commons.

Both Houses of Parliament must agree on the final wording of the bill before it can be sent for Royal Assent, when the Queen approves bills and they become law.


More on This Story

Related Stories

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites


This entry is now closed for comments

Jump to comments pagination
  • rate this

    Comment number 171.

    a way has to be found to deal with people who terrorise the weak and infirm for fun. It happens a lot. The unelected lords are taking a law designed for that and applying it to whatever their fevered imagination can think of and say that is what will happen that people will be arrested for wearing loud shirts or walking on the cracks in the pavement or what not. Let lords be elected first.

  • rate this

    Comment number 170.

    First an attack on press freedom and now one on individual freedom.


    "The Home Office has said the new injunctions would never be imposed in an unreasonable way."

    You mean just like the way the anti-terrorist laws were not being used unreasonably? The trouble with this is what is defined as being
    "conduct capable of causing nuisance or annoyance to any person".

  • rate this

    Comment number 169.

    147. Richard Tams
    The police will invariably misuse the law when they feel like it. As when two old ladies out for a walk near the Fylingdales were arrested on suspicion of terrorism offences.

    Filingdales is about a mile from the main road surrounded with signs saying stay away. Its the early warning radar that detects incoming nuclear missiles. The MOD police (not civil) are touchy

  • Comment number 168.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 167.

    "annoyance to any person". the government annoys the hell outa me so the law says they can be banished. Great!

  • rate this

    Comment number 166.

    Freedom RIP

  • rate this

    Comment number 165.

    158. Bill Walker
    If it stops me from having to run the gauntlet of those trying to get me to sign up to paying £5 a month to save the poor donkeys of Khazakstan then I'm all for it. Ditto those having shouted conversations into their mobile on the bus.

    Just buy as Tesco lasagne if you want to save a donkey ;)

  • rate this

    Comment number 164.

    This law seems to be so badly conceived as to be almost laughable....unless you were to believe that this govt.wants to allow the "authorities" to suppress anyone for anything. It's about time someone reminded our political "masters" that they govern not by absolute right but only with the consent of the populace.

  • rate this

    Comment number 163.

    Are the Peers in favour of annoyance or are they standing up for freedom?

    Remember, it was the House of Lords that thwarted moves to reduce benefits.

  • rate this

    Comment number 162.

    Dealing with antisocial behavior shouldn't be a problem. If you gave proper sentences for crimes already on the books like assault, underage drinking, driving without a licence, using foul and abusive language, making fake emergancy calls etc you could soon sort this prob. If every offence got a couple hundred hours+ of supervised community service they wouldn't have the time to be a problem.

  • rate this

    Comment number 161.

    The house of Lords is like a fat, bloated, over paid security guard who gives you hassle. Should have been replaced years ago by a better and cheaper alternative. In this case though he has at least done his job.

    None of us are entitled to a an annoyance free life, it would be boring anyway. This law will take away the last recourse of the 'small man' while ignoring the real hoods on the street

  • rate this

    Comment number 160.

    So a public protest would be "annoying"?
    I'd be annoyed by UKIP/EDL/BNP match if they come to my street, but I wouldn't want them arrested as long as they don't break anything.
    Sounds like government control tactics.

  • rate this

    Comment number 159.

    Who told you that?"
    I study law. Parliament pass primary legislation +are able to enact or repeal any laws (broadly speaking, there are exceptions, ie new statues having to comply with the HRA 1998 etc). The judiciary too create law through judicial decisions + precedents, this is how common law develops, but Parliamentary Acts can overturn such rulings.

  • rate this

    Comment number 158.

    If it stops me from having to run the gauntlet of those trying to get me to sign up to paying £5 a month to save the poor donkeys of Khazakstan then I'm all for it. Ditto those having shouted conversations into their mobile on the bus.

  • rate this

    Comment number 157.

    At all costs this proposal needs to be defeated. Of course, by posting this I have just made myself an 'unperson' and will soon disappear, along with this message...

    A more blatant attempt to deny people the right to meet in public and protest cannot be imagined. What's next, imposition of permanent Martial Law?

  • rate this

    Comment number 156.

    What the hell is this, Nazi Germany or something? If I want to annoy someone, I will. If I want to offend someone, I will. To hell with political correctness, the NMBY's and complainers in this country will just have to get over it!

  • rate this

    Comment number 155.

    These spiteful millionaire Tories are annoying me, I want them banned from Parliament under threat of imprisonment.

    Fair's fair, they're annoying millions of people with their deliberate impoverishment of everyone, and enrichment of themselves and their banker/stock trader cronies.

  • rate this

    Comment number 154.

    Can this law stop people like Lucy Emmerson co coordinator of the sex education forum, who says today we should stop our children from kissing grand parents, that for me is the very definition of being annoying in public and indeed holding a public office.

    The point being we have a very real lack of common sense thinking in this country right now and so out of touch it's scary.

  • rate this

    Comment number 153.

    "conduct capable of causing nuisance or annoyance to any person".

    There's about 700 of them just across the way from the lords.

  • rate this

    Comment number 152.

    'great idea.
    Give our honest and incorruptible police the ability to arrest anyone who wants to say anything that may annoy them. '

    This bill wouldn't. It would allow the police (and some others) to apply for an injuction and later apply for a warrant if the annoyance continued. And I suspect 'annoyance' in law means more than merely 'annoying'.


Page 24 of 32


More Politics stories


Politics Live

    12:02: Key clip: Douglas Alexander
    Douglas Alexander

    You can now watch Labour's election strategist Douglas Alexander on the Andrew Marr Show refusing to rule out a coalition with the SNP.

    The shadow foreign secretary was repeatedly pressed on whether Labour would do a deal with Nicola Sturgeon's party in the event of a hung parliament but said he was "not going to play that game".

    Mr Alexander conceded the "polls are tough" for Labour but insisted the party was fighting for a majority.

    11:54: Heseltine on Europe
    Michael Heseltine

    Former deputy prime minister Lord Heseltine argues for the UK to remain in the European Union on Sky's Murnaghan programme.

    Though "Britain has always had doubts about Europe" the UK always joins in out of "an overarching self-interest" in its trading partners, he says.


    tweets: Why women in politics still have a long way to go, in 7 charts

    11:45: NI peace process

    Former Northern Ireland Secretary Paul Murphy has said establishing peace has taken longer than expected. Speaking to BBC Wales' Sunday Politics, he said process was "a bit slower than we thought".

    "I didn't think the process was going to last quite as long as that. But it did. It's 10, 15 years before things started changing," he said.

    11:42: Maude stepping down

    Cabinet Office minister Francis Maude will step down as an MP at the general election, the Conservatives have confirmed. The Tory MP for Horsham said that 32 years after entering parliament it was time to ''make way for a younger candidate'', PA News reports.

    11:39: No 'back seat driving'

    The Cabinet Office has released a statement rejecting the Independent on Sunday's story that former education secretary Michael Gove is still "back-seat driving" the Department for Education.

    It says: "The Independent on Sunday's story is totally untrue. The Chief Whip's office has not received, handled or put into the red box any of the Education Secretary's paperwork."

    11:35: Miliband defended

    Ed Miliband's campaign manager Lucy Powell dismisses stories of senior figures chipping away at the Labour leader's credibility as "more about the agendas of newspapers than what colleagues are feeling".

    Speaking on Sky's Murnaghan programme Ms Powell says she "totally disagrees" with former health secretary Alan Milburn's comments on the NHS and millionaire donor John Mills comments on privatisation, and describes them as "deeply unhelpful".

    UKIP Leader Nigel Farage
    Nigel Farage

    tweets: As of this moment I'm returning as a fully paid up member of the drinking classes! #dryjanuary #DryJanuaryIsOver

    11:13: 'Sharpening the knives' The Daily Mail
    Ed Miliband

    The Mail on Sunday is reporting that senior figures in Labour are "sharpening the knives" for Ed Miliband. The paper highlights criticism of ""mansion tax" plans by a Labour donor, and criticism of NHS strategy from former Health Secretary Alan Milburn.

    11:11: Key clip: Nicky Morgan
    Nicky Morgan

    You can now watch a clip of Education Secretary Nicky Morgan on the Andrew Marr Show. "If we don't get it right at primary, then it becomes much harder for children to catch up," she says.

    10:54: Youth-KIP
    Youth Independence

    The BBC's Leala Padmanabhan has been talking to UKIP's 3,000-strong youth wing, known as "Young Independence" which is determined to tackle what some have described as the party's "young people problem".

    Recent polls, including a survey by ComRes, suggest voters in the over-65 category are twice as likely to vote for the party as 18-25 year olds.

    10:51: Labour on education

    Tristram Hunt MP, Labour's Shadow Education Secretary, has responded to Nicky Morgan on the Andrew Marr Show, blaming "David Cameron's flawed schools policy" for "failing to close the learning gap between disadvantaged children and the rest".

    Responding to the education secretary's plan to tackle illiteracy and innumeracy, Mr Hunt said: "The surest way to raise standards in every lesson, in every school, is to improve the quality of teaching in the classroom. That begins with an end to Cameron's unqualified teachers policy."

    Andrew Neil Presenter, Sunday Politics

    tweets: Sunday Politics coming up immediately after the tennis on BBC1. Who's winning?

    10:29: Salmond on Murnaghan

    Alex Salmond tells Sky's Murnaghan programme that another referendum on Scottish Independence would not form part of any coalition negotiations.

    Scotland has already "set the gold standard " for establishing a national referendum, Mr Salmond says: If Scottish people want another referendum on Scottish independence they should vote for a party that promises one.

    Dermot Murnaghan reports Andy Murray has lost the first set in the Australian Open: "It's just like the referendum," replies Salmond.

    10:26: Salmond on Murnaghan

    Former Scottish first minister, and prospective parliamentary candidate, Alex Salmond tells Sky's Murnaghan programme he is "not ruling out" a coalition with Labour that would make him Deputy Prime Minister after the general election.

    However "a formal coalition is unlikely" he warns. In his experience "the best way to affect change is to negotiate on a vote by vote basis" he says. But "who'd want to give either David Cameron or Ed Miliband a majority?" Mr Salmond asks.

    10:24: Union hits back at Boots CEO

    Paul Kenny, General Secretary of the GMB union, has been reacting to comments by the acting CEO of Boots who said a Labour government would be a "catastrophe" for the UK.

    Mr Kenny says: "This is the same boss who used private equity to take Boots private and move the domicile off shore to stop paying corporation tax since 2007. Given the amount of taxpayers money Boots get from NHS you would think this guy would keep his head down. There used to be the slogan 'no taxation without representation'. Surely the opposite is equally true."

    10:14: Ex-Army chief on IS

    Former head of the army Lord Dannat tells Sky News' Dermot Murnaghan that Islamic State (IS) can be beaten.""if there is the right degree of equipment, training and support from ourselves".

    Lord Dannat warns this will be a "generational struggle" and tells Murnahan the coalition against IS has "to grow" for this to work.

    There has been international outrage after a video appearing to show the beheading of Japanese hostage Kenji Goto by an IS militant appeared online.

    09:56: Syriza on Marr
    Marina Prentoulis

    Catching up with an earlier Marr interview now. The academic Marina Prentoulis, from Syriza London, was on the show, talking about the new Syriza government in Greece which seems determined to carry out its campaign promise, to overturn years of enforced austerity.

    Ms Prentoulis, from Syriza London, called on the Labour Party to support that fight against austerity.

    "Any person who calls themselves a socialist should come out against austerity," she told Marr.

    Nick Robinson Political editor

    tweets: So close and yet....anyone else finding this agony? @BBCSport: Novak Djokovic takes the first set 7-6 on a tie-break. @BBCOne @bbc5live

    (BBC Sport has live coverage of the Australian Open tennis final)

    Editor of @SchoolsWeek Laura McInerney

    tweets: I think Nicky Morgan has said "since I've been going around the country" - about ten times. It's the new "as a mum". #Marr

    09:50: Morgan on Marr

    Nicky Morgan dismisses claims that her predecessor Michael Gove is "back seat driving" the education department as a "complete load of nonsense."

    Michael Gove has been "nothing but supportive", and while he may have seen some departmental briefings in his role as Chief Whip Ms Morgan affirms "I am in charge of the Department of Education".

    The Andrew Marr Show

    tweets: Morgan - It is an 'outrage' if students leave school with qualifications that do not help them to enter the world of work #marr #marrshow

    09:47: Morgan on Marr

    Asked by Andrew Marr whether schools funding for ages five - 16 will be "ring fenced" under a Conservative government Nicky Morgan nods. She tells Marr that she is "fighting" for the funding.

    09:43: Nicky Morgan on Marr
    Nicky Morgan on The Andrew Marr Show

    Education Secretary Nicky Morgan is on the Andrew Marr Show, defending her "war on illiteracy and innumeracy" which includes new plans to get all children to know their 12 times table when they leave primary school.

    "Getting... the absolute basics right has to be at the core of our education system," she says.

    09:38: Alexander on Marr

    Douglas Alexander refuses to be drawn on whether he will make a deal with SNP and Sinn Fein to from a majority government after the general elections. But he accuses the Conservatives of trying to "split the vote on the left" after they tweeted a mocked-up picture of Ed Miliband alongside SNP politician Alex Salmond and Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams, with the caption: "Your worst nightmare just got even worse."

    Labour has vowed not to feature Prime Minister David Cameron on its campaign billboards ahead of the general election.

    The Andrew Marr Show

    tweets: Alexander - Voting for the SNP in the general election will result in a Conservative government

    09:34: Alexander on Marr

    Douglas Alexander is pressed on the challenge facing Labour in Scotland, where Andrew Marr suggests his own seat is under pressure. "The polls are tough", Mr Alexander says, adding that he realises there is an appetite for change north of the border. But he says "I share that appetite for change" and adds: "The way we can secure that change is to deliver the maximum number of Labour MPs..."

    09:28: Alexander on Marr
    Douglas Alexander on The Andrew Marr Show

    Labour election strategist Douglas Alexander tells the Andrew Marr Show: "We face a challenge to secure a recovery that reaches beyond the city of London and reaches kitchen tables right around the country."

    Robin Brant Political Correspondent, BBC News

    tweets: first question to @NickyMorgan01 on @MarrShow is surely 'whats 12 x 12?'

    Robin is of course referencing the education secretary's "war on illiteracy and innumeracy" which state that all children in England will need to know up to their 12 times table when they leave primary school.

    Guardian political editor Patrick Wintour

    tweets: Some pointed advice from Andrew Rawnsley for Tony Blair - time to say whose side you are on.

    09:13: Papers on Marr
    Sun on Sunday editor Victoria Newton and impressionist Rory Bremner are doing the paper review to get The Andrew Marr Show under way

    Reviewing the newspapers on the Andrew Marr Show, impressionist Rory Bremner picks out the Observer's story on what it says is an acute shortage of beds for young mental health patients. This will be a "critical area" for the next government to get involved in, the comedian says. His fellow paper reviewer is Sun on Sunday editor Victoria Newton.

    Labour press team

    tweets: Labour's Shadow Foreign Secretary @DAlexanderMP will be speaking to the @MarrShow this morning on @BBCTwo at 9am

    08:50: 'Back seat driving' The Independent
    The Independent on Sunday

    The Independent on Sunday claims former Education Secretary Michael Gove is still "back-seat driving" his old department and maintains a "shadowy influence" behind the back of his "more teacher-friendly" successor Mrs Morgan.

    The paper says the chief whip still receives paperwork related to Department for Education issues.

    08:44: New beds crisis
    The Observer

    The Observer leads on what it says is an acute shortage of beds for young mental health patients in the NHS.

    According to guidelines from NHS England, leaked to the Observer, 16 and 17-year olds, who should be admitted to specialist child adolescent mental health facilities (Camhs), are likely instead to be admitted to adult wards.

    08:41: 'War on illiteracy' Sunday Times
    Sunday Times

    The Sunday Times's top story (paywall) is Education Secretary Nicky Morgan's "war on illiteracy and innumeracy". The paper says she plans to remove head teachers from schools where 11-year-old pupils cannot pass tests on basic English and times tables.

    08:37: Miliband attacked The Daily Telegraph

    Ed Miliband has faced criticism from a leading business chief who said a Labour government would be a "catastrophe" for the UK.

    Stefano Pessina, acting chief executive of Boots, said in an interview with today's Sunday Telegraph that Mr Miliband's plans were "not helpful for business, not helpful for the country and in the end, it probably won't be helpful for them".

    He did not elaborate on which specific policies of the party he disliked but told the newspaper: "If they acted as they speak, it would be a catastrophe."

    08:33: Sunday papers

    It is a very mixed - and highly politicised - Sunday for headlines in the nationals. You can read the full write up from our online paper reviewers. But we'll also break it down into bite-sized chunks for you in the next few entries.

    08:28: Coming up

    A few must watch items for your Sunday morning:

    The Andrew Marr Show is at 09:00 when Education Secretary Nicky Morgan and Shadow Foreign Secretary Douglas Alexander will be on the sofa. You can watch via the Live Coverage tab at the top of this page.

    Sunday Politics, tennis permitting, at 11:00 will hear from Culture Secretary Sajid Javid and Labour MP Tom Watson. Again, watch live on this page.

    Other options for your Sunday morning political fix include Pienaar's Politics from 10:00 to 11:00 on BBC radio 5Live and we'll also bring you updates from the Murnaghan programme, over on Sky News from 10:00-12:00.

    And of course you may want to keep one eye on events in Melbourne too, where Andy Murray is taking on Novak Djokovic in the Australian Open tennis final. The BBC has live coverage here.

    08:20: Good morning

    Hello and welcome to Politics Live. Over the course of the next 10 hours we'll be bringing you all the news, views and analysis as it happens from the BBC's political team in text and video - including all the key moments from the Andrew Marr Show, Sunday Politics, the World This Weekend and reaction to the big Sunday newspaper stories. You can see how Friday, which was a Churchill remembered special, unfolded by clicking here.



Copyright © 2015 BBC. The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.