I understand that some people have concerns about the measures being introduced through the Public Order Bill to reduce the impact of protests on people's day to day lives. I can assure you that the Government is not eroding people's rights but making sure that highly disruptive protests do not cause misery to the public. At the moment hard-working people across the UK are seeing their lives brought to a standstill by some activist groups.
I understand that the Government has also recently tabled an amendment to the Bill in the House of Lords providing greater clarity on the definition of 'serious disruption'. As such, I can assure you that measures contained in the Bill will only be used to deal with specific incidences and protests that prevent people from being able to go about their daily lives.
Further, I can assure you that the reforms included in the Bill of Rights Bill will strengthen home-grown rights. The Bill will boost freedom of the press and freedom of expression by introducing a stronger test for courts to consider before they can order journalists to disclose their sources. It will also recognise that trial by jury is a fundamental component of fair trials in the UK. I am glad that it will also introduce a permission stage in court requiring people to show they have suffered a significant disadvantage before their claim can go ahead, thereby preventing trivial legal claims wasting taxpayers’ money.
Where human rights have been used to frustrate the deportation of criminals, the Bill will prevent such misuse, ensuring those who pose a serious threat can be deported by allowing future laws to restrict the circumstances in which their right to family life would trump public safety and the need to remove them. It will mean that under future immigration laws, to evade removal, a foreign criminal would have to prove that a child or dependent would come to overwhelming, unavoidable harm if they were deported.
I believe that the Bill of Rights Bill will help to strengthen the UK's traditional freedoms. I will continue to follow its progress closely.