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Martyn's Law: MPs criticise draft of anti-terror legislation Published Date: 31/07/2023

The bill, named after 29-year old Martyn Hett who was one of the 22 victims of the Manchester bombing in 2017, would mean UK venues and local authorities must draw up preventative plans for terrorism.

A committee says it would burden small businesses and not prevent attacks.

MPs on the Home Affairs Select Committee found the current bill, which has different standards based on venue capacity, would be hard to apply consistently.

They also expressed "concern" that attacks in some parts of the UK, including Scotland, would not fall within the draft bill's scope, and had "serious concerns" about the financial burden it would place on venues.

MPs said the bill's aims as it stands are "unclear".

They said that it has been promoted as terrorism-prevention legislation, but that most of the measures it contains would instead reduce the consequences of attacks.


Jonathan Hall KC, the UK's independent reviewer of terrorism legislation, told MPs the majority of attacks since 2010 would be outside the bill's "scope".

Reflecting on this, MPs wrote: "We are concerned to learn that the draft bill would not have made a difference to the vast majority of the terrorist attacks that have happened in the UK in recent years."

The committee called for the legislation to be introduced in stages, beginning with larger venues, and for it to also cover outdoor events at risk of attack.

It also urged the government to legislate for "live-saving" medical training to be made available at these places.

It commended Martyn's mother Figen Murray's campaigning efforts, saying the bill was well-intentioned

Chair Dame Diana Johnson said: "We must do all we can to ensure venues are equipped to react to terror threats. But the government must ensure that [measures] are based on an accurate assessment of risk and not arbitrary capacity figures.

"We are also concerned that this bill as currently drafted would fail to make a significant impact in preventing or mitigating the effects of terrorism."

She said that, as it stands, a village hall would have to take safety precautions while a city centre open-air farmers market or Christmas market would not, adding this made little sense.

"Also the money and time required under the bill could place smaller businesses and voluntary organisations at risk," she said.

A Home Office spokesperson said: "The government is committed to improving security at public venues and the pre-legislative scrutiny process will ensure we create a strong bill that delivers on this aim while being proportionate."

Source: BBC news

The report summary states:

"Whilst we welcome the Government’s overall intention behind the Draft Bill, we have some serious concerns about the proportionality of the Bill, especially in relation to the impact on smaller businesses, voluntary and community-run organisations in the standard tier premises, where there is a lack of evidence that the Bill will adequately reduce the threat of terrorism for smaller organisations. We also have some concerns about the unfinished provisions in the Draft Bill, the purpose of the Bill, the regulator and some of the duties required. There are a number of other areas in which we feel that the Draft Bill could be improved upon, including introducing a provision for mandatory life-saving training and statutory standards for the design of new buildings."

View the report