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Political violence adviser urges new police powers to protect MPs

Lord Walney, an independent advisor, has called for enhanced police powers to shield Members of Parliament (MPs) from protest-related intimidation, particularly outside of Parliament.
This request follows concerns from Commons Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle about threats to politicians, notably highlighted during a contentious debate on Gaza.

Home Secretary James Cleverly acknowledged the need for police to act against demonstrations targeting MPs' homes meant to impact voting decisions but did not believe in a significant increase in police authority for Parliament demonstrations.

Amidst this, Sir Lindsay faced criticism for his decision-making during a vote on a Gaza ceasefire, ultimately apologizing after receiving backlash from MPs, including a lack of confidence motion from the SNP.

Reports suggest that Lord Walney's review proposes expanding police powers to disperse protests at key democratic venues, with local authorities able to issue fines under new protection orders.

Concerns have been raised about the negative impacts of protestor intimidation on MPs' willingness to participate in political debate, an issue that came to the forefront during Gaza discussions and could affect future discourse, including climate change debates.

Former Labour MP Lord Mann warned against banning protests outside Parliament, emphasizing it as the proper venue for such expressions, unlike private or community areas.

While the government stresses the importance of MPs' protection, it points to existing and forthcoming legislation that grants police increased authority to manage protests. Despite heightened security expenses following the tragic murders of MPs Jo Cox and David Amess, details regarding MPs' security measures remain undisclosed.

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