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Wednesday, May 02, 2012

A good day to be a Liberal Democrat

Mark Pack highlights one of the successes of the Liberal Democrats in Government with the coming into law yesterday of the Freedoms Bill. He quotes Liberal Democrat MP, Tom Brake, who said this: “brings to fruition proposals which were first drawn up by Nick Clegg four years ago, and demonstrates our commitment to rolling back unnecessary and intrusive laws introduced by Labour”.

Key provisions of the Bill include the enactment of some previously announced decisions alongside some new, additional proposals:

■an end to the routine monitoring of 9.3 million people under the radically reformed vetting and barring scheme

■millions of householders protected from town hall snoopers checking their bins or school catchment area

■the scrapping of Section 44 powers, which have been used to stop and search hundreds of thousands of innocent people

■the permanent reduction of the maximum period of pre-charge detention for terrorist suspects to 14 days

■DNA samples and fingerprints of hundreds of thousands of innocent people deleted from police databases

■thousands of gay men able to clear their name with the removal of out-of-date convictions for consensual acts

■thousands of motorists protected from rogue wheel clamping firms

■an end to the fingerprinting of children in schools without parental consent

■the introduction of a code of practice for CCTV and Automatic Number Plate Recognition systems (overseen by a new Surveillance Camera Commissioner) to make them more proportionate and effective

■restrictions on the powers of government departments, local authorities and other public bodies to enter private homes and other premises for investigations and a requirement for all to examine and slim down remaining powers

■the repeal of powers to hold serious and complex fraud trials without a jury

■the extension of the scope of the Freedom of Information Act and strengthening the public rights to data

It was the fact that many of the provisions that have been repealed were introduced by Labour that made them so toxic to Liberals and libertarians.
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