British House of Lords Votes Against Banning Annoying Behavior

Credit: Terry Moore/wikimediaCredit: Terry Moore/wikimediaThe British House of Lords, the U.K. Parliament’s upper unelected chamber, has voted in favor of amending a clause in a bill that as written would allow anyone in England and Wales engaging in or threatening to engage in "conduct capable of causing nuisance or annoyance to any person" to face an injunction. According to the BBC, the Home Office “has said the new injunctions would never be imposed in an unreasonable way.”

The campaign group Reform Clause 1, named after the worrying clause in the Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Bill, claims that if implemented Clause 1 of the bill “could have a chilling effect on free speech.” The group rightly highlights the fact that numerous groups and people could be considered to be “causing nuisance or annoyance,” such as carol singers, Scientologists, political protesters, and soccer players.

The injunctions outlined in the bill would replace Anti-Social Behavior Orders (ASBOs) which, despite their name, are not handed down to people who don’t like socializing. Rather, they can be imposed on people who display “drunken or threatening behaviour,” carry out vandalism, or “playing loud music at night.” Unsurprisingly, ASBOs have been used on a wide range of people, as George Monbiot explained in The Guardian a few days before today's vote:

Asbos have been granted which forbid the carrying of condoms by a prostitute, homeless alcoholics from possessing alcohol in a public place, a soup kitchen from giving food to the poor, a young man from walking down any road other than his own, children from playing football in the street. They were used to ban peaceful protests against the Olympic clearances.

Monbiot went on to point out that the injunctions would come with potentially lifelong obligations attached:

The bill would permit injunctions against anyone of 10 or older who "has engaged or threatens to engage in conduct capable of causing nuisance or annoyance to any person". It would replace asbos with ipnas (injunctions to prevent nuisance and annoyance), which would not only forbid certain forms of behaviour, but also force the recipient to discharge positive obligations. In other words, they can impose a kind of community service order on people who have committed no crime, which could, the law proposes, remain in force for the rest of their lives.

The bill now goes back to the House of Commons.

Track the Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Bill here.

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  • Rich||

    Man Killed By 'Atomic Wedgie'

    Now, *that's* annoying!

  • Jordan||

    The dreaded Rear Admiral?

  • Curtisls87||

    I notice that the wedgie took place in Pott county.

  • ||

    I didn't think Britain had any free speech to "chill".

  • The Rt. Hon. Serious Man, Visc||

    The campaign group Reform Clause 1, named after the worrying clause in the Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Bill

    Jesus Christ, that might be the most Orwellian name for a law I've ever heard.

  • Rich||

    That's why they call it "Majestycare".

  • Jordan||

    It would replace asbos with ipnas (injunctions to prevent nuisance and annoyance), which would not only forbid certain forms of behaviour, but also force the recipient to discharge positive obligations. In other words, they can impose a kind of community service order on people who have committed no crime, which could, the law proposes, remain in force for the rest of their lives.

    Why is George Moonbat against this? Isn't this exactly the same sort of language they frame their beloved regulations in? I mean, just look at Tony's screeching about the minimum wage. This sounds like a key plank of progtopia to me.

  • Swiss Servator, KALT!||

    He might be afraid a Tory government might wield it agin' him and his.

  • Medical Physics Guy||

    The more Orwellian the name of the bill, the faster the Brits roll over and take it. To protest would just be too undignified, or involve shutting off Channel Four, neither of which suit the British temperament.

  • Paul.||

    carol singers, Scientologists, political protesters, and soccer players.

    Interestingly, all things that should be banned.

  • SugarFree||

    That we resist banning the worst of society means we have principles. Stay strong, brother.

  • The Original Jason||

    I fail to see MPs in that list...

  • ||

    Ricky Gervais had the nerve to suggest (sorry - outright state) Britons are more anti-authoritarian than Americans. I couldn't quite understand his reasoning on that,

  • Paul.||

    Hell get no argument from me that Americans aren't anti-authoritarian enough, or much at all lately, the yeah, the British have accepted a dizzying array of governmental edicts which give pause to even a progressive American.

  • Paul.||

    I should post when I'm drunk.

  • pan fried wylie||

    2nd'd

  • ||

    Yeah, that wasn't his point. His point was that Americans were not anti-authoritarian and the Britons were. It was a treatise on the differences between British and American humo(u)r. I didn't get past the anti-authoritarian B.S., because how could anyone that thinks that possibly know anything about the differences in our humor, comedian or not? (and I happen to like his comedy!)

  • Paul.||

    I'm guessing he didn't cite examples, because I come preloaded with examples of British Authority Love.

  • Pro Libertate||

    Americans are kind of known, historically, for being anti-authoritarian.

  • Zeb||

    The tradition is still strong enough that a lot of progressives manage to delude themselves into believing that they are anti-authoritarian.

  • MJGreen||

    Britons are more anti-authoritarian, except in regard to all the Common Sense things the government does. I don't think you'll find many British comedians that don't make lame jokes about owning guns.

  • Zeb||

    There is plenty wrong with America, but how anyone figures that Britain is more anti-authority is rather puzzling.

    Jeremy Clarkson seems to have a lot of the same problem. Though from watching Top Gear obsessively, I get the sense that some car regulations are less restrictive over there. I don't see buttons to turn of traction control or ABS on a lot of American cars.

  • cw||

    The nannies will keep writing this crap, trying to pass it. Before long a new group, one even more statist, will replace the current crop in the House of Lords, and this shit will pass. It's only a matter of time.

  • Jordan||

    Probably as soon as the next Labor government is elected.

  • cw||

    Yeah, fuck Labour. But I could see the Tories doing the same.

  • Jordan||

    But I could see the Tories doing the same.

    Oh, I could see them trying. I just think that the progderps would resist, whereas if a Labor government attempted this, they'd be all for it.

  • cw||

    I just wish the American progs and socons would move to the U.K. They can live in that blissful statist society, passing social legislation to their hearts' content, while leaving the rest of us in the U.S. alone.

  • cw||

    [T]he Home Office “has said the new injunctions would never be imposed in an unreasonable way.”

    Whew! That's all the reassurance I need!

  • Pro Libertate||

    I always wanted to be a Lord.

  • Zeb||

    The House of Lords seems to be a bit more sensible on this sort of thing than the Commons. The UK is lucky that they haven't managed to abolish it yet.

  • BuSab Agent||

    That's because the House of Lords is stuffed full of incredibly ordinary people. Yeah back in the 13th century, Lord X was an incredible power hungry bastard, but his great-great-great-great-great-great etc grand children, not so much. The Commons on the other hand is full of politicians...IOW jackwads who WANT to boss other people around. America could use a proper House of Lords, but our Senate is just a feeble substitute.

  • Cdr Lytton||

    Hereditary peers, like what you're describing, were mostly kicked out by Labour about a dozen years ago. The House of Lords today is almost completely composed of life peers, political appointees and rewardees that hold a title for their own lifetime only. My prediction is that the Brits continue down the appointee path to where life peers are indistinguishable from politicians or just abolish the whole thing and directly elect Lords.

    Not that it matters all that much. The Lords haven't been a serious impediment to the Commons for over a hundred years.

  • KPres||

    "The campaign group Reform Clause 1, named after the worrying clause in the Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Bill, claims that if implemented Clause 1 of the bill “could have a chilling effect on free speech.”"

    Free speech? It's the UK!

  • Russell||

    Citizens should encourage the enforcement of those splendid survivals of English Common Law, the Common Scold acts, designed to wash away the sins of goodbodies who turn into busybodies by ducking them in the fine lustral water of the municipal pond.

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