I understand concerns about the proposed powers in relation to so-called "noisy" public protests. Freedom of assembly and freedom of expression are vital rights that I wholeheartedly support. The right to peaceful protest is a cornerstone of our democracy and the Bill does not change that.
The guerrilla tactics we have seen in recent years, however, cause misery to the public, cost millions in taxpayers’ money and put lives at risk. Using egregious noise, not as a method of legitimately expressing themselves, but to antagonise and disrupt others from the enjoyment of their own liberties and rights is something we cannot leave unchecked. It is, therefore, right that the police should have the power to intervene in exceptional cases where the noise generated by a protest is such that it is injurious to others. Let me be clear, we are not silencing protesters or curbing freedom of expression, and the threshold for the use of these powers will be appropriately high. Police will only use it in cases where they deem it necessary and proportionate, and they will need to consider the protesters’ freedoms of expression and assembly when making use of these measures.
Obviously, the vast majority of protests in England and Wales do not cause serious disruption to the activities of an organisation or a significant impact on the people in the vicinity of the protest so will be unaffected by this legislation. This power will only limit the most extreme cases where the noise from protests is unjustifiable and damaging to others.
I also welcomed ministers' reassurances that the police would only impose conditions where necessary and proportionate and where they have fully considered protesters' freedoms of expression and assembly, as they are duty-bound to do so already.