The House of Lords debated the main principles and purpose of the Protection of Freedoms Bill on Tuesday 8 November.
Thirty Members were scheduled to speak during the second reading of the Bill which looks to curb the use of CCTV and the DNA database, reform the child protection regime, and change the basis on which law enforcement bodies can enter private property.
Constitution Committee report on the Bill
In a report published on 3 November, the Lords Constitution Committee says new powers proposed under the Protection of Freedoms Bill to allow ministers to change the basis on which law enforcement bodies can enter private property gives the Government too much power.
What does the Protection of Freedoms Bill cover?
The key aims of the Bill are to:
- bring in a new framework for police retention of fingerprints and DNA data, and requires schools to get parents’ consent before processing children’s biometric information
- introduce a code of practice for surveillance camera systems and provides for judicial approval of certain surveillance activities by local authorities
- provide for a code of practice to cover officials’ powers of entry, with these powers being subject to review and repeal
- outlaw wheel-clamping on private land
- introduce a new regime for police stops and searches under the Terrorism Act 2000 and reduces the maximum pre-charge detention period under that Act from 28 to 14 days
- restrict the scope of the 'vetting and barring' scheme for protecting vulnerable groups and makes changes to the system of criminal records checks
- enable those with convictions for consensual sexual relations between men aged 16 or over (which have since been decriminalised) to apply to have them disregarded
- extend Freedom of Information rights by requiring datasets to be available in a re-usable format
- repeal provisions (never brought into force) which would have allowed trial without a jury in complex fraud cases
- remove time restrictions on when marriage or civil partnership ceremonies may take place.
- Bills before Parliament: Protection of Freedoms Bill
What happens at second reading?
Second reading is the first opportunity for Members of the Lords to debate the main principles and purpose of the Bill, and to flag up concerns and areas where they think changes (amendments) are needed.
Any Member of the Lords can speak in the debate so this stage can indicate those Members particularly interested in the Bill - or a particular aspect of it - and those who are most likely to be involved in amending the Bill at later stages.
Second reading debates usually last for a few hours but sometimes stretch over a couple of days