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Peers block law on being annoying in public

January 8, 2014 9:18 PM
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Peers block law on being annoying in public

Peers have vetoed 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".

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

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."

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.

But 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.

MPs could seek to reinsert the proposal in the bill when it returns to the Commons.

After debate on the report stage of the bill, the legislation still has to go through its third reading in the House of Lords.

The House of Commons will then consider any amendments made by the Lords before the bill can be sent for Royal Assent - when the Queen signs bills into law.


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