Meme: The Great Repeal Bill should seek to abolish…

The Liberal Democrats called it The Freedom Bill. The Tories called it The Great Repeal Bill – and there are more of them in the government, so they will probably win the competition to name it.

Nonetheless, the aim is clear: to slough off the dead skin of government; to deliver us from regulatory evil.

And in a novel (and perhaps suspect) twist, Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg has promised that it will be up to the public to propose legislation for the chop. I have yet to be convinced!

But in this hopeful new dawn, let’s not be cynical. Let’s instead assume that our new masters will indeed listen to the people and will abolish what the people want abolished. The question then is: what would you abolish?

What is needed is a real, open and frank discussion of the Bill and what it should contain. This should include in depth discussions of particular proposals. LDV does not make that easy (no criticism implied) because the single-thread conversation doesn’t lend itself to the inevitable branching discussion that is required.

I therefore invite readers – Lib Dem, Tory or not – to write their own post on what they would like the Great Repeal/Freedom Bill to abolish.

I recommend that you entitle your post “I would like the Great Repeal/Freedom Bill to abolish…[insert brief title here]” and either post it on your own blog or submit it to a friendly source (and what source is friendlier than [email protected]?). Then email the link to that post to The Voice and drop it in the comments box below.

You can also submit suggestions below, of course, but for clarity it will be easier if each topic is a separate thread. I will set out my own suggestion elsewhere.

Next month, I will take a look over what has been written and summarise what has been proposed and how readers reacted.

In the meantime, I’m off to the Lake District for a week.

Tom Papworth is Director of Policy at Liberal Vision, which promotes classical liberal ideas within the Liberal Democrats and beyond. He is a Liberal Democrat councillor in the London Borough of Bromley and a former parliamentary and GLA candidate.

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  • The UK Border Agency. And let’s join Schengen.

  • Health Act 2006

    Misuse of Drugs Act 1971

    I won’t hold my breath though.

  • The firearms acts…

  • Paul McKeown 25th Jun '10 - 1:47pm

    @Chris. Agreed, lets join Schengen.

  • Agree with above. The criminalisation of drugs and prostitution leads to organised crime – have we learned nothing from prohibition in the 30s USA? Plus just think of all that potential tax income and advertising revenue going to waste, we could almost kick start an economic growth spurt if we brought it from the black economy!

    Can we have back our rights to demonstrate outside Parliament also Kettling is an affront to human rights. An end to ASBOs.

  • The changes in election law that brought in the long campaign. Lots more paperwork for Agents no decerinable benefit for democracy.

  • Prohibition in the USA was law from January 16, 1920 to December 5, 1933: it’s therefore more characteristic of the 1920s than the 1930s.

  • Communications (TV Licencing) Act 2004 and all its extortion-enabling precursors.

  • Patrick Smith 26th Jun '10 - 1:02pm

    This proposed Freedom Bill could become the most liberating one for personal liberty, in the history of great Liberal Reforms passes in 1832,1867 and 1911.

    It could be entitled the Freedom and Constitutional Reform Bill as it with public concerns on important civil liberties and constitutional reform together.

    The most important substance should be:

    Notice of the new referendum date on the vote on AV.

    Scrapping of ID cards-the most precious deterrent to civil liberties in one hundred years.

    Ending of biometric passports and Contact Point

    A clear statement on permissable non-violent public demonstrations.

    Defence of the rights of trial by jury as an inalienable individual juridical choice

    Ending of State keeping e mail and internet storage of criminal records without just cause

    Ending of the compulsory fingerprinting of school children without parental consent

    A tighter set of local authority rights to use CCTV and a right to appeal

    The ending of the imprisonment of children in immigration centres.

    A 5 Year Fixed Term Parliament with 55% rule on any abolition.


  • Axe clauses 3-18 of the Digital Economy Act 2010.

  • Evie Conrad 4th Jul '10 - 4:26am

    There are plenty of good suggestions here.

    *The right to bear arms*

    The reason that rifles and handguns were banned was not that a nutter shot some kids in a school in Scotland. it was that the local police were completely incompetent. However, like other unaccountable, powerful and completely deluded groups (such as doctors), coppers believe that they are infallible. It is a capital offence in this country to blame a senior police officer for anything. They could teach the Pope a thing or two, later in the year.

    Thousands of law-abiding sportsmen (and it was one of the few areas of Olympic competition that Britain was consistently good at) were punished, simply because a Scottish policeman and a Scottish GP [i.e. the applicant’s family doctor, who would have to have reported on his fitness to hold a licence] were too lazy, too stupid or too scared to do their jobs properly.

    Since Dunblane, tidal waves of illegal firearms have washed over south London, Manchester etc and the number of shootings has increased sharply. I also understand that rifles and handguns are still legal in Northern Ireland- of all places!! The situation shows how moronic the ban-everything, knee-jerk Nazis at the Home Office are. They really haven’t a clue how to deal with anything. After the latest massacre (in Cumbria), there was an immediate call for shotguns to be banned! Had any of the people making such idiotic suggestions ever even visited the countryside? It was a re-run of Dunblane. The problem was exactly the same: the police and doctors failed to fulfil their responsibilities. To paraphrase an ad for a well-known soft drink, “Reality is nothing: obey your government press releases and web sites!”.

    Incidentally, I have never fired or owned a gun and have no wish to do either. I recognise the right of others to use firearms responsibly, though.

    *Dissolution of parliament*

    I can’t see the 55% threshold for dissolution being approved. The law should require coalitions to be governed by contracts, each of which would be signed at the outset by all the participating parties. Such a coalition contract could only be nullified with the agreement of all the signatories. Otherwise, the government would complete a full term (or call an early election, if defeated in a confidence vote).

    No further hurdles can be placed in the way of “no confidence” motions, sponsored by the Opposition. That sort of thing would only happen in a dictatorship.

    I favour four-year Parliaments. That has become the normal period, in recent times. The logical outcome of fixed terms is direct elections for the office of Prime Minister. That might not be a bad idea (and it would keep all the foul-mouthed, Celtophobic yobs, sorry, “disgruntled English nationalists” happy).

    Freedom of speech: give that girl a coconut (but don’t let the Lord Mayor see you doing it)

    When I looked over news reports from the last week, the main civil-liberties issue seemed to be freedom of speech- yet again. It was raised by the ridiculous trial of a Bristol City Councillor, who referred to a colleague as a “coconut”. I don’t believe that the relevant legislation should have been interpreted as it was but the judgement has been given and, so, the law must be repealed. [In any case, should councillors not have something like parliamentary privilege, when speaking in the chamber or in committee?]

    It’s beyond me how it can possibly be “racist” for one “woman of colour” to suggest to another “woman of colour” that she has forgotten the interests of ethnic minorities and has begun to think like a white, middle-class person. “WoC1” was entitled to her view of “WoC2”.

    Race was irrelevant. Similar criticism could have been aimed at one Scot by another Scot at a meeting of Corby Borough Council [a town in Northamptonshire, famed for the number of Scottish inhabitants] and no one would have seen an accusation of “anglicisation” as racist.

    The Bristol incident did not constitute “racial hatred”, just as protests against the cover-up of paedophilia within the Catholic Church were not a form of “religious hatred”. [How can Catholics, as the victims of abuse must have been, possibly hate all Catholics?]

    New Labour, while doing its best to create a totalitarian state [even threatening to allow ministers to rule by decree simply to by-pass legislative “traffic jams”, at one stage], threw a few sops to its friends in the gay-rights and racism “industries”, so that we’d think Blair and Straw were actually quite liberal. All they did was to remind real liberals how many “New Labour” figures were Marxists and Trotskyists, when they were students. Who can accuse them of having abandoned their principles? They certainly never lost their anti-libertarian instincts.

    These laws are “whingers’ charters”, which are only of benefit to the kind of people, who are always on the lookout for an opportunity to be offended. Ironically (in the selfish and vicious society, which Britain has become), there has been far too much emphasis on group rights in recent years and not enough on those of the individual. Classical liberals might now have the chance to redress the balance.


    The legalisation of recreational drugs is such a complex issue that it really will have to be considered on its own. The Freedom Bill can only do so much: it has to concentrate on fundamental civil liberties (such as those outlined in the ECHR and the Bill of Rights within the US Constitution).

    *The right to seek justice*

    The right to a legal remedy does not yet exist in Britain. The UK refused to ratify the relevant part of the ECHR. That right should be introduced, without delay.

    *Rights abolished by the EU*

    Another question, which ought to appeal to Eurosceptic Tories, is that of former rights, which Britons have lost, on the introduction of European Directives. For example, the old Statutes of Limitation in UK jurisdictions protected victims of fraud and misrepresentation, so that they would not be “timed out” by attempts at obstruction by their persecutors. The EU’s “statute of limitation”, a directive of 1987 dealing mostly with consumer law, did not contain such protection. Therefore, all that the provider of faulty goods or services needs to do is keep the victim in the dark, until the time limit has passed.

    That doesn’t sound too serious. However, it is a particular problem in the area of pharmaceutical negligence, where, although a patient’s injuries can be severe, the ignorance and dishonesty of the medical profession greatly aids multi-billon-pound drug companies by suppressing the truth for years (twenty years, in some cases). The time limit for legal action (under the Consumer Protection Act) is only ten.

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