Two weeks, two major achievements for the Liberal Democrats in government

Last week the Green Investment Bank made its first loans, as Nick Clegg mentioned yesterday, and this week the Protection of Freedoms Bill received Royal Assent and became an Act, as Tom Brake wrote about on this site.

The Protection of Freedoms Act includes the banning of rogue private wheel clampers, who are so unpopular that when Lynne Featherstone announced the plans last year it resulted in wall-to-wall positive coverage from the broadcast media, the tabloid press, the broadsheet press and even the pollsters. When the media and 87% of the public love a policy of ours that we have just turned into law, it is well worth telling the public about it…

On the more traditional civil liberties fronts, the Act includes:

  • the repeal of powers to hold serious and complex fraud trials without a jury
  • an end to the routine monitoring of 9.3 million people under the radically reformed vetting and barring scheme, replacing the dreadful old system where innocent could never mean innocent
  • millions of householders protected from town hall snoopers checking their bins or school catchment area, a great improvement on the deeply flawed RIPA legislation introduced by Labour – though there is much more to be done on that when RIPA comes up again in the next Parliamentary session
  • the scrapping of Section 44 powers, which have been used to stop and search hundreds of thousands of innocent people and widely implicated in over-zealous policing stopping photographers from taking innocent and innocuous photos for no good reason
  • 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  • thousands of gay men able to clear their name with the removal of out-of-date convictions for consensual acts
  • an end to the fingerprinting of children in schools without parental consent
  • 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 extension of the scope of the Freedom of Information Act and strengthening the public rights to data

Oh, and the right to marry after 6pm in the evening has been granted, at least to straight people (another topic that will come back later in this Parliament for more debate…).

Two weeks, two major achievements for the Liberal Democrats in government.

* Mark Pack has written 101 Ways To Win An Election and produces a monthly newsletter about the Liberal Democrats.

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6 Comments

  • LondonLiberal 3rd May '12 - 12:28pm

    i didn’t even know some of those restrictions existed. Thanks for a very helpful and illuminating update, Mark. Definitely worth shouting about.

  • Ruth Bright 3rd May '12 - 5:52pm

    So glad you’ve highlighted some of these changes Mark. Like many people I have several CRB clearances for several different organisations. Nevertheless today my young daughter and I were moved on from watching my son play football at school because I was standing near a separate After School Group where a specific CRB check to the school is required! This is a total misunderstanding even of the current rules – but it shows what a daft world of suspicion the whole CRB system opened up.

  • Stuart Mitchell 3rd May '12 - 6:29pm

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

    You can hardly call the reduction “permanent” when we know that Theresa May is carrying a copy of the Draft Detention of Terrorist Suspects (Temporary Extension) Bill around in her handbag, ready to be deployed whenever she deems it necessary.

  • Mostly good stuff, though I was disappointed to find the GIB funding ‘energy from waste’. Presumably this means incinerators, which rather undercuts those campaigning against incinerators at local level. Have BIS never heard of the waste hierarchy??

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