Civil liberties

We will be strong in defence of freedom. The Government believes that the British state has become too authoritarian, and that over the past decade it has abused and eroded fundamental human freedoms and historic civil liberties. We need to restore the rights of individuals in the face of encroaching state power, in keeping with Britain’s tradition of freedom and fairness.

  • We will implement a full programme of measures to reverse the substantial erosion of civil liberties and roll back state intrusion.
  • We will introduce a Freedom Bill.
  • We will scrap the ID card scheme, the National Identity register and the ContactPoint database, and halt the next generation of biometric passports.
  • We will outlaw the finger-printing of children at school without parental permission.
  • We will extend the scope of the Freedom of Information Act to provide greater transparency.
  • We will adopt the protections of the Scottish model for the DNA database.
  • We will protect historic freedoms through the defence of trial by jury.
  • We will restore rights to non-violent protest.
  • We will review libel laws to protect freedom of speech.
  • We will introduce safeguards against the misuse of anti-terrorism legislation.
  • We will further regulate CCTV.
  • We will end the storage of internet and email records without good reason.
  • We will introduce a new mechanism to prevent the proliferation of unnecessary new criminal offences.
  • We will establish a Commission to investigate the creation of a British Bill of Rights that incorporates and builds on all our obligations under the European Convention on Human Rights, ensures that these rights continue to be enshrined in British law, and protects and extends British liberties. We will seek to promote a better understanding of the true scope of these obligations and liberties.

Your comments (36)

  1. martin rivas says:

    No effective right to strike then. Without this all the other stuff is just a hill of beans.

  2. Ian says:

    I suggest you review the anti money laundering laws.

    These laws impose a lot of extra work for tens of millions of citizens who have to provide certified copies of passports and utility bills to prove identity and address whenever one wants to buy shares, get a mortgage, buy currency etc etc.

    My wife has difficulty proving her address as all our utility bills are in my name as I handle the home finances. I’m sure many couples are in the same situation.

    It creates a lot of needless work and difficulties but I question whether it is of any real value in stopping money laundering by terrorists or drug dealers.

    Terrorists don’t need large sums oif money – the Stanley knives used in the 9/11attacks probably cost $1 each. Drug dealers I’m sure have other ways of moving money around. It is just millions of ordinary people who are massively inconvenienced.

    I hope you can find a way to repeal these laws or improve the way they are implemented.

  3. John A. Douglass says:

    Please ger rid of civil rights and replace it with civil duties.

  4. Old holborn says:

    Tell you what, why don’t we just tell you which laws in the last 13 years we would like to keep and scrap all the rest?

  5. Mike Neumann says:

    I agree in part with John Douglass – it seems that the word ‘rights’ doesn’t work very well when divorced from the words ‘and responsibilities’. Maybe you could look at this at the same time.

  6. Jo Griffin says:

    Will anyone who has purchased an ID card be able to have the cost discounted from the price of the passport that they will now need?

  7. Dave Tilbury says:

    Section 67 NERC 2006 should be repealed fro the following reasons:

    The legislation assumes that every highway authority had (as required by law) a List of Streets that was a) complete and b) readily understandable and c) provided some certainty as to where a route started and where it ended. Many (most) do not have such a LoS.

    The legislation offers a ‘private’ right to property owners if they can demonstrate they would have had a public right before commencement of NERC. Clearly this is all but meaningless as common law (and accidents of history) has made it all but impossible to prove vehicular rights exist over a given route. The Lord Chancellor’s Independent Inspectors have very rarely confirmed a BOAT over an ancient highway in recent years.

    The above means that many rural properties are now technically without access for motor vehicles.

    Again, due to indolence, financial constraints and a many other reasons, highway authorities have not properly recorded old roads (over a period starting in 1949 or 1968, depending on your view), thus the byway network is fragmented, with many BOATs being cul-de-sac due to s.67 NERC.

    The reduction in the network available to the law-abiding trail rider is having two undesirable results.
    a – the remaining network is (in places) becoming over used
    b – many hitherto law-abiding riders are ignoring an unjust law, thus causing understandable tensions
    c – many landowners think that the NERC legislation allows them to gate the new Restricted Byways, thus denying access to cyclists & equestrians

    Because s.67 was so heavily amended during its passage through Parliament there are a number of stupid outcomes. For example, due to poor highway authority performance many good, hard roads (including some tarmac ones) are now closed to motorists whilst many unsuitable (soft, narrow, out of repair) routes remain open to motorists, thus act more as an encouragement to the ‘competitive’ element.

    Section 67 does not target the irresponsible, but negatively impacts on the law-abiding, removing legitimate access too OUR countryside.

    Section 67 is far from clear and four years on from commencement of this legislation some highway authorities are still telling trail riders that it is OK to ride on restricted byways and bridleways because ‘they are also on the List of Streets. If those applying the law do not themselves understand it, and if the law contains so many (and indeterminate) exemptions, it cannot be good law and should be repealed.

  8. Lee Marsons says:

    Restore the right to silence that was undermined in the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994. The judge now must give a very complex and lengthy direction to a jury about the defendant’s silence even though it can only “add some additional support to the prosecution case” i.e. it is merely supportive evidence. It is a waste of time and energy and, more importantly, illiberal.

  9. Sophie Holland says:

    Where to start? Remove the many powers of entry to the home e.g. tax inspectors; abolish random stop and search under the terrorism act; abolish the bad character provisions in the Criminal Justice Act 2003; restore double jeopardy. For starters.

  10. Edward says:

    The right to strike is under judicial pressure and may require legislative protection.

    The use of anti-terrorism laws against photographers, protesters and others needs to be stopped urgently. Review of libel law likewise.

    Legal protections should apply to all. “Terrorist” suspects should not be treated differently to other suspects. The law must allow them to be charged and brought to trial. They must be allowed to prepare a defence to the evidence against them. Extended detention without trial, and so-called “control orders” are an affront to what our justice system ought to stand for.

  11. David says:

    Please keep the ID card as an optional extra with a passport – scrap all of the complicated bits and database.

    It is very useful as a proof of age / ID card + travel when the passport is away getting a visa.

  12. Richard says:

    I would strongly suggest repealing the ‘Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act’

    There should be a clear distinction between those who make laws and those who investigate and prosecute alleged offences. Allowing councils to do all three of those has led to abuses of power, corruption and a break down of trust between citizens and the state.

  13. Jethro_uk says:

    very simple : protect people from unlawful searches, and require courts to follow the “fruit of the poisonous tree” doctrine. If the police had to start obeying the law to enforce it, they would gain a lot more respect.

  14. John Chambers says:

    My first ID card expired when I was 16. I had to wait almost 50 years before I was
    able to renew it, two months ago. I have already used it to travel within EU without
    needing to show a passport. So the infrastructure is already in place.
    Other EU citizens are free to travel within the EU using ID cards.
    It looks as if we are about to lose this freedom.

  15. John Chambers says:

    My first ID card expired when I was 16. I had to wait almost 50 years before I was
    able to renew it, two months ago. I have already used it to travel within EU without
    needing to show a passport. So the infrastructure is already in place.
    Other EU citizens are free to travel within the EU using ID cards.
    It looks as if we are about to lose this freedom.

  16. Fred Goodwin says:

    Is the attack on Brian Haw this morning an example of the promises shown above in action?

    How quickly the new government has abandoned these promises. If these promises meant anything it would have got the police under control on this high profile day.


  17. Richard says:

    I’m hoping the repeal bill will include anti-civil-liberty acts/clauses passed by all previous administrations, and not just the Labour one? e.g.t eh RIght to Silence and the aspects of the Criminal Justice Act which weakened the right to free assembly.

  18. Harley says:

    Repealing the Digital Economy Act would be a good move. If Parliament wants to try and pass it again, then they can do it without rushing it and they can do it without having clauses written by the parties that stand to benefit most from it.

    Oh, and they could actually consult experts from the affected industries first to see if it’s both feasible and fair.

  19. Veronica Griffin says:

    As someone who works with the ContactPoint database and is now hearing from my practitioner colleagues and those from other authorities the benefits they are getting from the system, particurlarly locating those potentially vulnerable children and young people, I cannot understand why something that could potentially save lives is being scrapped. Yes, saving money is important but saving lives and keeping children and young people safe is surely equally as important. Do we have to wait for the next high profile death of a child for the process to start again – doubling the cost.

  20. Andrew Paul Landells says:

    I think the Liberal Democrat “Freedom Bill 2009″ is an excellent starting place for our civil liberties and I’m delighted to see both parties of the coalition supporting this.

    In addition to it, I would like to see a repeal of the Digital Economy Act (or at the very least, clauses 11-18) as I do not believe they are workable or fair. I would be happy to see the issue given proper debate, but the law as it stands is nonsense. Long term, I feel that copyright reform is essential in the digital age, to re-balance the rights of both the content creators and the consumers.

    I would also like to see the removal of the airport “body scanners” that have recently been introduced. I consider them to be very intrusive and but provide little actual security benefits.

  21. DHAM says:

    Please reconsider plans to install airport full body scanners in British airports. The privacy controls are insufficient to give assurance to passengers and leave many vital questions unanswered. People are being frightened in to thinking that anything which prevents them from being blown out of the skies is justifiable. The British travelling public are being mislead about how much safety the scanner provides (only 50-60% effective) and are largely unaware of how intrusive it is (shows sanitary wear) and the potential health hazards of scanning involving exposure to ionising radiation- there is no such thing as a safe level. There needs to be some means of identifying people with existing medical conditions eg joint replacements, so that innocent holiday makers are not always required to undergo intrusive scanning/searches. People with medical conditions will already have been exposed to considerable doses of ionising radiation from medical technology designed to investigate and treat their medical problem and will therefore have accumulated higher doses which may trigger cancers. People who have inherited genes for some breast/ovarian cancers may have extra sensitivity to radiation likely to cause cancer . What is to stop other operators with safety concerns eg Ferries, Bus/Train services, shopping malls etc from installing security scanners if airports do? This would add considerably to cumulative background radiation levels in addition to privacy issues for the future on a grand scale.Terrorists are always going to be one step ahead and will find other ways to conceal explosives eg in implants (eg breast) , catheter bags, on a disabled person not required to be scanned etc. If this is what it takes then the terrorists have won.

  22. Nigel Harris says:

    From Wikipedia (I agree with Monbiot’s objections):
    The Protection from Harassment Act 1997 is a piece of United Kingdom law, which, among other things criminalises, and creates a right to protection from, stalking, and persistent bullying in the workplace. However the first three people prosecuted under the act were all peaceful protestors, and commentators such as George Monbiot have voiced the concern that the amended Act effectively “allows the police to ban any campaign they please”.
    for his well argued case, which I ask you please to read.

    Please amend this act to exclude its application:
    1. to prevent legitimate protest or
    2. for one partner involved in the ongoing or recent break-up of an emotional relationship to substitute throwing pots for the nuclear option of abusing state power against the other partner.

    I quote London’s Stipendiary Magistrate Rosamunde Keating: “The law has gone potty.” “Clogging up the courts with this nonsense.”

    It would seem that Michael Howard introduced the bill which Labour then implemented as law.

  23. Sebastian Noel says:

    I would like to congratulate the Conservatives & Liberal Democrats on their plans to scrap the obscenely expensive and intrusive Identity Card Scheme.

    Hats off to you all of you who campaigned so hard for such a basic freedom.

  24. Mick says:

    Delete “Rights” – Insert “Responsibilities” vast majority of the problems solved.

    Even a balance between the two would go some where near. But to have rights without responsibilities has lead to the very broken society that Mr Cameron based his election campaign on.

  25. Richard Hall says:

    As an amateur photographer I’m all too aware of the flow of reports about the use of anti-terrorist laws against ordinary photographers. It obvious that sometimes it could be important to understand why someone wants to use a camera but the law doesn’t always seem to be applied with much common sense.

    More generally, I think it is an abuse by any public body to use anti – terrorism powers outside a terrorist context unless Parliament has specifically approved their use in that context. Although I’ve never suffered personally it does seem that alarming number of local authorities are abusing the original purpose of these laws. I think this is profoundly wrong and I also think it would be useful to understand what lead to this happening.

  26. Jack says:

    Scrapping ContactPoint is a bad idea. Many young people will be at great risk.

  27. Wendy Sayer says:

    I support the suggestion to replace Civil Rights with Civil Responsibilities. However to give greater freedoms back to the individual and abandon technological advances will assist criminals and terrorists, making their detection more difficult.

    I do not support the reduction in the scope of DNA database as it has been proved to be an valuable tool for the Police in detecting serious crimes. DNA can prove innocence as well as guilt.

    CCTV is also vital to Police in solving serious crime. In fact in the news today a man has been arrested on suspicion of killing several women who worked as prostitutes in the Bradford area thanks to CCTV.

  28. Anne Garvey says:

    Is complete dissent from this doctrine allowed? I think the perception that we are somehow arriving at new freedom is utterly wrong. ID cards are useful and here . And they’ve had them in France for decades . As a correspondent has pointed out, Europeans can travel with them. If they are such a dreadful intrusion into our lives, why are they still being retained for immigrants from outside Europe, or don’t they matter? The idea that we are all free roaming individuals is an illusion. Anyone with an Iphone can be tracked within yards of it as I learned the other day when I lost mine and consulted the website who accurately found it for me. The internet is full of social networkers who all give up minutiae of their personal data for no special reason than entertainment.
    The idea of ID cards, the children’s protection website and other measures was surely combat the all too sophisticated systems which those will malevolent intent are using for their own purposes, be that fraud, terrorism or online grooming. Am I the only person who feels that ID cards would make us safer? This panic about them simply panders to the paranoid and anxious in all of us. In the future this will be seen I think, as a form of strange Luddite attempt to roll back the years, stop the clock and return to a previous era. The genie, whether we like it or not, is out of the bottle. Now we are getting the worst of all worlds, where we give away tools to help us track down criminals and terrorists whilst not being any more private at all.
    As for CCTV cameras. I challenge the Prime Minister and the Deputy Prime Minister to nominate the first one hundred cameras to come down. Or even the first ten.
    Dare I press Submit? Or will I be tracked to my home address and arrested for dissent?

  29. Sue Bamber says:

    I think an urgent review of the independent safeguarding authority and its vetting and barring scheme needs serious thought as to its purpose and the effect it is having. There have been at least 2 guidance leaflets issued which do not have the same information in them. There is confusion over who it applies to. The staff at the help line dont know either!! It is a law which is wide open to interpretation and no law should be so. Scrap it ???

  30. Seb Merritt says:

    I have to say I think it short sighted to scrap the national ID scheme entirely. I believe it should be optional (maybe a referendum on the mater) and I think it will prove that most people are more keen for the ID card than it’s paper counterpart. Most people I have spoken to about are in favour but just think, as it has, will be scrapped. Yes, it does help increase security and if you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear. The humble debt card can tell more about a person than the ID card. Hell, asda knows when and how you shop and what your buy. Companies more than governments know more about you and your habits. The important thing about ID cards is the ability to protect the data and that you can not be convict solely on that data. Tagging of info could also be used to solve many traveling complaints, such as over staying your agreed visit to a country. We are holding GB back because we are scared; we are nation of innovators, of free thinkers, a progressive society and one of the first democratic societies in this small world. Lets leed and not follow.

  31. I am the first time on this site and am really enthusiastic about and so many good articles. I think it’s just very good.
    Always yours Mr. Cialis

  32. Nigel Burke says:

    Will this government finally explode the myth that CCTV prevents crime?
    Every study the last government commissioned has proven, without doubt, that it does not prevent crime… with the only exception being when it is used in Car Parks, against car-crime…
    CCTV is the biggest scam this country has seen in generations. It is snake-oil, paid for by the public.
    Three-quarters of the Home Office crime-prevention budget is thrown away on this useless technology.
    Stop the waste! Restore our civil liberties, return policemen to where they should be, on the, streets preventing crime.

  33. David Williams says:

    I can understand, and tend to agree with the Government’s wish to abolish the ID cards scheme, simply because of the financial savings it will make. As a nation it looks like we cannot afford a voluntary ID card scheme. But as one of the 15,000 people who acquired one, I think it is wrong for the Government to void those already issued. They are, in effect, a passport with limited availability. The scheme is already administered by the Passport people, and unless I’m missing something, all that they need to do is to retain the current data base of cards issued, for record purposes. The cost should be nil, or at least negligible.
    We have paid for these cards and the Government will be in breach of of its agreement if it refuses to recognize them. The situation is analogous to that where a Government is bound by a Treaty made with a Foreign Country by a previous Government. It will honour it even if they did not agree with it, until such time as they might renegotiate it.
    It is morally wrong for the Government to fail to recognise those already purchased, at least without a refund; but as we are so few in number I can’t see it changing its mind.

  34. Rhoderick Gates says:

    “We will further regulate CCTV.”

    I think we want the total number reduced. Why are there CCTV cameras in places where crime rates are at the lowest in the country? Why not focus them mainly just on crime hotspots?

  35. Justin says:

    Despite the fact that there is no evidence that draconian anti-terror legislation prevents terror and jury-less trials will remain in place. This Con-lib clique is under no obligation to keep their promises. The clean up of politics is a lie. In fact it there will be even more treachery under this coalition cabal than New Labour.

  36. Gareth Hamilton says:

    While I am glad that the National Identity Register is to be abolished, the idea of an ID card is not a bad idea per se. It should be kept as an option. If the identity document issuing infrastructure is there for passports, why can it also not be used to produce a card as well for no extra cost?

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