Peers in the House of Lords are debating the Public Order Bill, which opponents say would introduce draconian new laws against the right to protest in England and Wales.

The draft legislation intends to combat “guerrilla tactics” employed by climate groups such as Insulate Britain and Just Stop Oil, according to Home Office minister Lord Sharpe of Epsom.

It includes a new offence of locking on – for example, glueing yourself to the road – as well as tunnelling, obstructing major transport networks and interfering with key national infrastructure, such as railways, roads and printing presses.

It also proposes to hand police new stop-and-search powers related to these offences.

Read More: Controversial Public Order Bill passed at Westminster

Concerns have been raised about the extent of the proposed new legislation, which has been branded “outrageous” in the Lords, with the Government accused of “shoddy work risking the liberties of our people many years into the future”.

Home Office minister Lord Sharpe of Epsom argued that the Public Order Bill gives police “proactive powers” to help curb disruption caused by protesters’ “guerrilla tactics”.

He claimed that perpetrators are “too often acquitted on a technicality” and that the specialist laws, branded “exotic” in the chamber, were to ensure people do not slip through the net.

He added that the burden of proof for a reasonable excuse is “not a novel concept”, as it is such for possessing a bladed article.

Baroness Chakrabarti said she was “speechless” at the minister’s response, lamenting that the Bill is, in her view, eroding the presumption of innocence.

Human rights group Amnesty International said: "Amnesty has long held the view that Police have a very broad range of existing powers at their disposal to deal with offences that may take place during a protest. We are concerned that the breadth of those powers already give scope for subjective over policing and potential abuse of those powers.

"For example, in a chilling suppression of the rights of a free press, in November 2022, Hertfordshire Police arrested and detained three journalists for reporting on a number of environmental protests taking place. One female reporter from LBC radio was reportedly held in a police cell for five hours.

"The arrest of journalists for reporting in these circumstances is a fundamental breach of universally held rights, which should serve as a chilling warning of the The Public Order Bill – Committee Stage Briefing, Lords dangers of increasing police powers in these areas and further undermines the credibility of the UK as a champion of media freedoms on the world stage."