Right to Protest

Thank you for contacting me to share your views about new and proposed legislation on protests and on strikes.

The Public Order Act has been introduced to reduce the impact of protests on people's day-to-day lives. However, 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. It is not acceptable that hard-working people across the UK were seeing their lives brought to a standstill by some activist groups.

Meanwhile, the Government hugely respects and values our public sector workers, and it is committed to try to avoid prolonged industrial action. However, a balance must be struck between giving workers a fair and reasonable settlement and taking steps to continue to bring down inflation and protect households’ budgets. Therefore, the Government is inviting trade unions to meet for honest, constructive conversations about what is fair and affordable in public sector and to discuss the evidence that the Government will be submitting to the pay review bodies.

However, the Government also has a duty to the public to ensure their safety, protect their access to vital public services, and help them go about their daily lives. That is why it has introduced the Strikes (Minimum Service Levels) Bill for vital public services including health, education, fire and rescue, transport, nuclear decommissioning, and border security to maintain critical and in many cases life-saving services.

Finally, I understand that the Government intends, in due course, to bring forward legislation on Boycotts, Divestment and Sanctions which will stop public bodies from pursuing their own foreign policy agenda with public money. International sanctions should be determined by the UK Government, and ratified by Parliament. This will not effect private organisations or individuals.

Thank you again for taking the time to contact me.