Burglar protection bill ‘talked out’ of parliament

A bill that would have allowed homeowners and shopkeepers to use greater force to defend themselves against burglars was ‘talked out’ of the House of Commons today.

To the dismay of Conservative MP Anne McIntosh, who proposed the private member’s bill, the legislation ran out of time after Labour MP Andrew Dismore talked for a total of three hours and 17 minutes on the issue.

MPs are allowed to talk about a proposal as long as they stick to the subject and Mr Dismore – known for his long speeches in the Commons in the past – surpassed his own record and scuppered the bill at its second reading.

The former lawyer discussed the bill’s legal minutiae at length in what Ms McIntosh described as “negative behaviour”.

It was the second time the Conservatives had attempted to change the law in the victims’ favour. Patrick Mercer’s bill passed its second reading in the Commons earlier this year by 130 votes to four, but also ran out of parliamentary time.

Speaking after the debate, Ms McIntosh said: “The negative behaviour of government backbench MPs today shows that the Labour party simply do[es] not care about the rising fear of crime among the general public.

“This was a bill that was chosen initially by the people, was genuinely needed and had widespread support, yet Labour decided to block it.”

She added that the bill was “necessary” and that she believed most people would have “given it their support”.

“Sadly, the government felt that they could ignore this strength of feeling and maintain the unacceptable and inadequate status quo,” Ms McIntosh said.

The bill would have amended current laws so that only people who used “grossly disproportionate force” against intruders on their property would have been liable for prosecution.

Its proponents, who included shadow home secretary David Davis, said it would have restored the balance between the criminal and the victim, but the government maintained property owners already had sufficient rights.