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Politics / Carmichael voices islanders’ discontent over ‘draconian’ policing bill

Isles MP Alistair Carmichael in Parliament.

NORTHERN Isles MP Alistair Carmichael is calling for greater parliamentary time to scrutinise a controversial and “draconian” policing bill that risks “undermining our reputation as a defender of the rule of law” and jeopardising the right to protest.

The police, crime, sentencing and courts bill is currently under consideration in the House of Lords, with the government seeking significant new police powers and regulations. 

Carmichael said the bill had been “woefully under-scrutinised” since it was previously debated in the House of Commons, with the government having “ladled amendments into it hand over fist in the other place”. 

He sought assurances from Leader of the House Jacob Rees-Mogg this week that the Commons will have more than a single hour to debate the amendments to the legislation once it passes through the Lords.

However Rees-Mogg – under fire this week for the manner in which he dismissed Scottish Tory leader Douglas Ross’ call for Prime Minister Boris Johnson to resign – said the timing of considering amendments to the policing bill would “depend on the other business going through the house at the time”. 

Speaking afterwards, Carmichael said there was “always time for debate if the government is willing to make time”. 

“Constituents in the isles have written to me in recent days to voice their growing unease with the draconian measures being thrown into the Policing Bill with little democratic oversight – their views must be heard,” he said. 

“When our government takes illiberal and authoritarian steps to curb the right to protest, others around the world take notice. We risk undermining our reputation as a defender of the rule of law when we threaten these fundamental rights.

“It seems ridiculous that parliament sat for just four hours yesterday [Thursday] because debates ran short, and yet the government cannot commit to giving the time necessary for full scrutiny of this enormously important bill.”