While Labour continues to devise yet more illiberal policies and the Tories fail to convince that they will be an improvement, it is heartening to see that at least one of our major parties is making a firm and principled stand on the issue of civil liberties.
The Liberal Democrats have unveiled their “Freedom Bill” aimed at rolling back some of the restrictions on our freedoms imposed by Labour and the Tories in the last two decades.
It contains twenty proposals -
• 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. Continue reading