Time to concentrate on issues raised to me countless times on Burnley residents' doorsteps/ Antony Higginbotham column

This week we’ve seen two key items of legislation, outlined in the Queen’s Speech, come to Parliament for them to commence the start of their legislative journey.

By Antony Higginbotham
Thursday, 26th May 2022, 4:14 pm

And both are items which have been raised with me on the doorstep multiple times by local residents. That is the barometer of whether we in Parliament are focusing on the right things.

If it relates to issues local residents are raising with me time and time again, we’re on the right path. This week it was the Public Order Bill and the Legacy Northern Ireland Bill.

The first of these is simple – it introduces tougher penalties on those criminals who try to use the cover of protest to cause unjustified disruption and endanger others, including blocking our critical national infrastructure.

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Antony Higginbotham this week talks about the Public Order Bill and the Legacy Northern Ireland Bill, two issues he says the people of Burnley have raised with him on numerous occasions

These are powers we sought to introduce in the last session of Parliament, to tackle the kind of disruption that ‘Just Stop Oil’ used when they tunnelled into oil refineries and erected huge structures at the gates. That caused fuel shortages across the country and was incredibly dangerous for those who did it, and the police who had to get them out.

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But unfortunately Labour, the Liberal Democrats and the Greens all got together to block it in the last session on the grounds it was being proposed too

quickly. So we’re going to try again.

The legislation will create a new offence of ‘locking-on’, criminalising the protest tactic of individuals attaching themselves to others, objects, or buildings intending to cause serious disruption; introduce an offence of obstructing or interfering with transport and other critical infrastructure; extend stop-and-search so that can be used to find those who are likely to undertake such activity before they do it; and introduce preventative court orders to target repeat offenders.

The second item of legislation related to Northern Ireland and addressing the legacy issues, with the aim of bringing reconciliation to victims and removing the constant worry our veterans of that conflict have had.

The Troubles continues to cast a long shadow and whilst successive policy makers have tried to find a permanent resolution, none have managed it. That is what we are trying to do now, by providing answers and accountability to families and survivors and delivering on the manifesto commitment I made, and the Conservative Party made, to our veterans.

Giving them certainty and ending the cycle of investigations that has plagued too many, for too long. I am a huge supporter of these bills and will keep residents updated on their passage.