Tory Gillian Keegan advised arresting homeless individuals for smelling dangerous is not humorous

Education Secretary Gillian Keegan was advised it is “not funny” that homeless individuals might be arrested in the event that they scent dangerous in a TV conflict.

Ms Keegan was challenged on Sky News over a Government clampdown on tough sleepers that might see them jailed or fined if police suppose they are a “nuisance”. Critics say the proposed new legal guidelines may see homeless individuals punished for “excessive smells”.

An uncomfortable-looking Ms Keegan admitted she did not understand how that will be utilized. It comes as Rishi Sunak faces a riot with 40 of his personal backbenchers demanding the Criminal Justice Bill is watered down after an outcry. New legal guidelines would criminalise individuals for being homeless, critics warn.

Presenter Kay Burley requested the highest Tory: “The Bill states that rough sleepers might be considered a nuisance if there’s an excessive smell. So if you smell, you might be arrested?”

Gillian Keegan was told the clampdown on rough sleepers isn't funny

Gillian Keegan was advised the clampdown on tough sleepers is not humorous

As a smiling Ms Keegan started to reply, the host advised her: “It’s not funny.” The Education Secretary mentioned:No, I’m not saying it’s funny. I I’m saying the most important thing is to help people off the streets.

Ms Burley replied: Why does the Bill then say that rough sleepers might be considered a nuisance if there’s an excessive smell? How ridiculous, some might say to put that in the Bill.”

Ms Keegan mentioned: “Yeah, I mean, I don’t know. I haven’t looked at that detail of it, but I mean, I guess the word is excessive and I don’t know. I don’t know what they mean.”

If the laws is handed, tough sleepers deemed to be inflicting a nuisance may face jail or fines of as much as £2,500. The Bill was launched when Suella Braverman – who branded homelessness a “lifestyle choice” – was Home Secretary. It creates new offences which might see individuals sleeping in doorways and on the streets punished for being a public nuisance.

One clause within the Bill states that tough sleepers shall be committing a criminal offense for inflicting “damage to the environment (including excessive noise, smells,litter or deposits of waste)”. Shadow Policing Minister Alex Norris mentioned: “With soaring serious violence, plummeting charging rates and rock bottom levels of confidence in policing the Criminal Justice Bill was a chance to address crucial community safety issues.

“Instead the Government have chosen to go after homeless people or indeed anyone who smells. These are the twisted priorities of a government out of time.”

Matt Downie, chief govt of Crisis, the nationwide homelessness charity, urged Home Secretary James Cleverly to “drop these merciless and pointless measures and concentrate on the true options” including building more social housing.

Polly Neate, chief executive of charity Shelter, said homelessness was a result of the Government’s “catastrophic failure to construct sufficient social houses mixed with spiralling non-public rents”. She said: “Parliament must not enact this legislation. Instead of punishing people for being homeless, politicians should be trying to prevent them from ending up on the streets.”