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Protesters: Motorway Disruption

Volume 726: debated on Thursday 19 January 2023

3. What steps he is taking with Cabinet colleagues to help reduce disruption on motorways caused by protesters. (903134)

Irresponsible action last year by a number of protesters put the lives of police, motorists and National Highways staff at risk and caused travel disruption for thousands. That is completely unacceptable, which is why my Department worked with National Highways to secure injunctions allowing a prompt and effective response. The police and National Highways continue to look at lessons that can be learned to deter similar protests. As my hon. Friend will know, on Monday the Prime Minister announced an amendment to the Public Order Bill giving the police more flexibility and clarity in respect of when to intervene to stop the disruptive minority who use tactics such as blocking roads and slow marching to inflict misery on the public.

When hypocritical wealthy lefties cut off motorways, they are not just damaging people’s jobs and damaging the economy; they are potentially killing people by not allowing ambulances and other blue-light services to pass. Does the Minister agree that we may be able to help them save the environment by locking them up, perhaps with the gas and electricity switched off?

I thank my hon. Friend for putting his question in his own direct, inimitable way. He will, I hope, be pleased to know that we are working closely with council and Home Office officials to ensure that we can follow all legal avenues to pursue those who are arrested for protest activity. The injunctions mean that we can take swifter action. The courts obviously have to hand down the penalties; 13 Insulate Britain protesters received immediate custodial sentences ranging from 24 days to six months, and evidence from the gantry protests is being reviewed to support committal proceedings against more than 50 additional protesters.