Published On: 17th June 2024Categories: General

PILC Legal Director, Paul Heron, updates on the oppressive proposed legislation.

The General Election puts breaks on government’s controversial plans to stop people gathering to protest.

With the calling of the July 2024 General Election, the Economic Activity of Public Bodies (overseas Matters) Bill has shuddered to a halt. 

This oppressive proposed legislation represented a significant assault on democratic rights. As PILC had outlined in our factsheet On the Wrong Side of History the Bill posed a threat to local democracy, freedom of expression, and the campaigns for social and climate justice. 

Had the Anti-Boycott Bill passed, it would have barred public bodies (including local councils, universities, and public-sector pension funds) from making ethical decisions regarding spending and investment. 

The government’s intention was to suppress campaigns challenging Israel’s violations of Palestinian rights, and also campaigns against fossil fuels.

PILC supported the Right to Boycott campaign initiated by the Palestine Solidarity Campaign. Alongside trade unions and NGOs we lobbied our elected political representatives to oppose the legislation. 

It wasn’t just the fact that the Government ran out of time that the Bill failed to pass. It was also due to the intense opposition from within the House of Commons and the Lords. 

The movement to oppose this anti-democratic bill must remain vigilant – even though the Bill has been halted – the next Government may choose to resurrect a form of it.

Nonetheless, the defeat of the Anti-Boycott Bill is significant. Campaigners can continue to put much-needed pressure on  public bodies for actions such as divesting from Israel’s complicity in war crimes, and to divest in the ruinous fossil fuel industry.