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Tom Mendelsohn: The coalition on civil liberties

Posted by Eagle Eye
  • Wednesday, 12 May 2010 at 03:39 pm
The Conservative/Liberal coalition has published its agreement document this afternoon. You can see it here. There's plenty of interesting stuff in it, and it does really seem to be something of a synergy between manifestos - maybe the Conservatives come out on top in terms of victories, but the Liberals have won some important concessions. It'll be picked over in great depth in tomorrow's papers, so I won't discuss it all here.

What I will do, though, is publish the list of measures the two parties wish to take on civil liberties.

The parties agree to implement a full programme of measures to reverse the substantial erosion of civil liberties under the Labour government and roll back state intrusion.

This will include:

• A freedom or great repeal bill
• The scrapping of the ID card scheme, the national identity register, the next generation of biometric passports and the Contact Point database
• Outlawing the fingerprinting of children at school without parental permission
• The extension of the scope of the Freedom of Information Act to provide greater transparency
• Adopting the protections of the Scottish model for the DNA database
• The protection of historic freedoms through the defence of trial by jury
• The restoration of rights to non-violent protest
• The review of libel laws to protect freedom of speech
• Safeguards against the misuse of anti-terrorism legislation
• Further regulation of CCTV
• Ending of storage of internet and email records without good reason
• A new mechanism to prevent the proliferation of unnecessary new criminal offences

There's a lot of strong stuff in here. The multiple scrappings, of ID cards, national registers, biometric passports and Contact Point, will be seen as a significant victory for privacy campaigners. The restoration of non-violent protest is interesting, because it could well see a roll-back of one of the big symbols of Labour's authoritarianism: the banning of protests in Parliament Square. Does this mean Brian Haw can finally get a roof over his head and a hot bath? The review of libel laws could also prove significant, and maybe help stop libel tourists coming to Britain. Finally, the new mechanism to prevent unnecessary new criminal offences is also welcome, as the right sort of red-tape cutting.

Maybe we can all be a bit more optimistic about how this government is going to work now, please?



Great Repeal Bill
minorityp wrote:
Wednesday, 12 May 2010 at 04:56 pm (UTC)
The Great Repeal Bill in itself is set to cover an enormous amount of legislation. Possibly covering Acts dating back to 1967. For many, many people the inclusion of the Hunting Act (2004) is critical. For both 'Pro' and 'Anti'-hunting groups the 2010 election has only been about the repeal of this act. For many 'antis' the ConDem coalition signals a reprieve. The simple arithmetic of 'Anti' vs. 'Pro' hunting MPs seems to point to defeat of repeal in the promised 'Free Vote'. But, in a Bill that looks like it could cover anything up to 100 pieces of legislation, the result could be very different.
ron_broxted wrote:
Wednesday, 12 May 2010 at 04:57 pm (UTC)
What of the Crime & Security Bill 2010? Innocent DNA kept on file for 12 years, contrary to European law.


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