Many of you have written to me about the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts (PCSC) Bill.
Like you, I have serious concerns about this legislation. Together with my Labour colleagues, I voted against it.
First of all, I ask myself, what is the problem this legislation is designed to fix? We certainly need changes in our justice system, for example to tackle the appallingly low numbers of prosecutions and convictions for the rising rates of sexual assault and rape. However, this Bill is a mess, designed to divide the country.
The PCSC Bill is a huge missed opportunity to address the problems of rape, sexual abuse and harassment which are pervasive in our society.
And the Justice system’s response is failing. Rape convictions have fallen by two thirds over five years. An incredible 98.4% of reported rapes end without charge. These horrifying statistics should shame the government into action – yet ministers seem more concerned about increasing the penalties for defacing statues and monuments.
As Shadow Leader of the House, I have raised this with my opposite number Jacob Rees-Mogg recently. His answer was disappointing, repeating the Prime Minister’s offensive comments and dismissing Labour’s concerns as “jabber.”
I am also extremely concerned about some of the measures included in the PCSC Bill which could restrict our freedoms – including the vital democratic right to peaceful protest. I’ve written more on this here. As it stands, this law could make protests illegal for simply being annoying.
There is no need to crack down on protests in this way. As many others have pointed out, we already have laws against violent protest and disruption.
For these reasons, and more, I voted against this Bill. Unfortunately the government was able to push this through. But I can assure you I will continue to fight for everyone let down by this appalling piece of legislation.