Over 40 Conservative MPs to vote against legislation

Dozens of Conservative MPs have revealed their intention to vote against the government’s Criminal Justice Bill, which would criminalise “nuisance rough sleeping and begging”.


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MPs are revolting against measures included in the Criminal Justice Bill that would prohibit nuisance rough sleeping and begging

The proposed legislation would give police the authority to fine or move on individuals who are begging or rough sleeping if they are deemed to be causing a “nuisance to the public”.

The government’s Criminal Justice Bill, due to be voted on before the general election, aims to replace the Vagrancy Act 1824 “with a modern suite of enforcement powers”.

However, according to the Times, more than 40 Conservative MPs have warned the party’s whips that they will vote against these measures.

As a result, the legislation has been paused while ministers negotiate with the dissenting MPs.

>> See also: Housing leaders call on Suella Braverman to drop crackdown on rough sleepers’ tents

>> See also: NHF raises ‘serious concern’ as three county councils propose to decommission homelessness services

Bob Blackman, the MP coordinating the rebellion, has described the measures, which mean rough sleepers could be moved on, fined up to £2,500 or imprisoned, as “worse than the vagrancy act”. 

Blackman is working with other Conservative MPs, as well as Labour and the Liberal Democratss to produce an amendment which would remove these measures from the bill and repeal the 200-year-old Vagrancy Act. 

In November last year, home secretary Suella Braverman announced her plans to crack down on rough sleepers using tents.

The proposed measures include giving police and local authorities powers to address “nuisance rough sleeping and begging”, by targeting individuals who are obstructing shop doorways or begging by cash points.

In response to the home secretary’s proposals to criminalise the use of tents, 15 housing bodies, including the Chartered Institute of Housing and the National Housing Federation, wrote a letter to Braverman, calling for the measures to be dropped.

The letter stated that the proposal to ban the pitching of tents by homeless people will “remove the only protection many people depend on” and endanger lives.