Thursday, February 26, 2009

Lib Dems publish their Freedom Bill

The Liberal Democrats today published their Freedom Bill, designed to "roll back the draconian laws passed by successive Labour and Conservative administrations". You can read more about it on the party's Freedom Bill website.

Chris Huhne, the Lib Dem shadow home secretary, sets out the case for the bill in a Guardian article:
The Liberal Democrats are determined to resist the slow death by a thousand cuts of our hard-won British liberties. George Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four was a warning, not a blueprint. Yet the Big Brother society that he satirised is growing before our eyes. Our forebears who fought so hard for the rights we have had stripped away would be shocked at what we've lost.
He also lists the 20 measures in the bill to "restore the fundamental rights that have been stripped away in recent years":
  • Scrap ID cards for everyone, including foreign nationals.
  • Ensure that there are no restrictions in the right to trial by jury for serious offences including fraud.
  • Restore the right to protest in Parliament Square, at the heart of our democracy.
  • Abolish the flawed control orders regime.
  • Renegotiate the unfair extradition treaty with the United States.
  • Restore the right to public assembly for more than two people.
  • Scrap the ContactPoint database of all children in Britain.
  • Strengthen freedom of information by giving greater powers to the information commissioner and reducing exemptions.
  • Stop criminalising trespass.
  • Restore the public interest defence for whistleblowers.
  • Prevent allegations of "bad character" from being used in court.
  • Restore the right to silence when accused in court.
  • Prevent bailiffs from using force.
  • Restrict the use of surveillance powers to the investigation of serious crimes and stop councils snooping.
  • Restore the principle of double jeopardy in UK law.
  • Remove innocent people from the DNA database.
  • Reduce the maximum period of pre-charge detention to 14 days.
  • Scrap the ministerial veto that allowed the government to block the release of cabinet minutes relating to the Iraq war.
  • Require explicit parental consent for biometric information to be taken from children.
  • Regulate CCTV following a Royal Commission on cameras.
Terrific stuff.


Anonymous said...

Its value is mainly in the way which it will keep highlighting the issues of civil liberties and repressive legislation, along with the growing trend towards this now in the MSM.

It will force New Labour and New Tory soundbiters to actually explain why we all need to be thrown into metaphorical or literal Titan Prisons to protect us in (or from) The War on Terrr.

It may also make people wonder why they think that there are only two parties for which to vote, especially when the polls suggest that New Labour could easily slip into third place over the coming months.

It is actually also nice to have proposed legislation made available for discussion and development, rather than given no thought, squeezed through the back door by Statutory Instrument and never scrutinised by our wonderful Parliament.

dreamingspire said...

And throw us back 150 years to the rich man in his castle, the poor man at his gate, a time when few people travelled far. Oh, sorry, we are there now, except that the castles in the "village" of Bowden turn out to have cardboard defences and a marauding band of robbers who can be 3,000 miles away overnight. I expected Huhne to do much better than that while baby-face is away tending the real baby.
He is of course right about regulation, but muddled. A robust regulatory regime across the board is the right layer to place between the policy wonks and the front line, but let the regulators decide on the details, don't allow any more micro-managing from the top. For example, give the Information Commissioner responsibility for Information Assurance (combination of service quality and information security - a Cabinet Office policy that doesn't get implemented, but is already suffering from micro-managementitis even before it gets started) to go alongside the current DP powers.

Anonymous said...

But one assumes it excludes abolishing banning orders for Dutch MPs...

Anonymous said...

Would have like to see the scrapping of ASBOs on that list, but otherwise good stuff.