It’s not often I have anything positive to say about the Lib Dems, but just for today I’ll make an exception in the case of their proposed ‘Freedom Bill’ or ‘Great Repeal Bill’, which they also called it.
Okay, so its pretty much a gimmick with little real prospect of going anywhere other than the Lib Dems website, but at least the list of illiberal laws they want to get rid of is pretty good one to be going on with, and with a bit of luck it should spark off a bit more debate on the subject of personal liberty.
1. Restrictions on protests in Parliament Square - Sections 132 to 138; Serious Organised Crime and Police Act 2005
No complaints with this one at all.
2. Identity Cards - Identity Cards Act 2006
Nor this one.
3. Extradition to the US - Part 2, Extradition Act 2003
Fine, again, although would have been better to qualify this as ‘Fast Track Extradition to the US’ - it’s not the we object to extraditions to the US outright, we’d just prefer them to follow a fair and equitable judicial process.
4. Conditions on public assemblies - Section 57, Clause 123, Anti-Social Behaviour Act 2003
Removal of more curbs on the right to peaceful protest? Yep, good one.
5. Criminalising trespass -Sections 128 to 131, Serious Organised Crime and Police Act 2005
And again, no real problems with one either.
6. Control orders - Section 1, Prevention of Terrorism Act 2005
Do we want to get rid of indefinite house arrest without trial? Yeah…
7. DNA retention - Sections 78-84, Criminal Justice and Police Act 2001, Sections 9-10, Criminal Justice Act 2003
Nice to see S78-84 of the 2001 Act get a mention - that’s the Act we passed to cover the Old Bill’s arse after it was found that they’d been illegally retaining DNA samples for years.
8. Public interest defence for whistleblowing, Official Secrets Act 1989
Ah, yes - the Ponting Bill. See, its not just Labour that passes shitty illiberal legislation.
9. Right to silence, Sections 34-39, Public Order Act 1994 - England and Wales
And another Tory Act makes the top ten. Yeah, lets have the right to silence back and not the ‘you sort of have the right to silence but if you don’t cough we’ll string you up anyway’.
10. Hearsay evidence, Sections 114-136, Criminal Justice Act 2003
And another good one to finish on.
Okay, so there are a few omissions from the list that need to be added;
Blasphemy - for starters.
Something to tone down our berserker libel laws which are so pernicious that even Americans come here to sue.
The section in the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act that deals with data encryption keys that the govenment haven’t enacted due to their inability to figure out how to make it work.
The Inquiries Act - for obvious reasons.
The Emergency Powers provisions in the Civil Contingencies Act - anything that allows the suspension of the Courts and Habeas Corpus is a bad idea.
And given time, I’m sure that I’ll think of plenty more to be going with, especially anything that provides for the creation of a centralised database of personal information that’s not required for the purpose of criminal justice, licencing or tax/benefits.