Protections of freedom bill under scrutiny

2 March 2011 by

Updated | The Protection of Freedoms Bill received its second reading in Parliament yesterday, followed by debate.

The bill will have significant implications for civil liberties, although some of the changes, such as those relating to the retention of DNA, the reduction of child protection police checks, and police stop and search, have arisen from court rulings rather than a proactive attempt to roll back the state.

The Parliamentary debate can be watched here (it begins at around 17:38 with a statement by Home Secretary Teresa May) and the transcript is here. To whet your appetites, this is part of May’s opening speech:

Today we have a rare opportunity. The Bill gives us a chance to roll back the creeping intrusion of the state into our everyday lives, and to return individual freedoms to the heart of our legislation. Under the last Government, we saw a steady erosion of traditional British liberties and a slow march towards authoritarian government. They presented us with a false choice between our future security and our historic liberties, disregarding any notion of balance between the two.

We have covered the bill most recently by way of my post on the bill’s potentially revolutionary “public reading stage” whereby the public can comment on individual provisions. We have also published a guest post from Dr Cian Murphy. He said it was “no Magna Carta” and “does little to coherently explain the coalition’s view of the appropriate relationship between the state and the citizen”. We also posted Timothy Pitt-Payne QC’s response to the bill from a privacy perspective.

The BBC website has a useful summary of the Bill’s main features. Blogger ObiterJ has provided an excellent 6-part series of posts on the Bill, which is worth reading in full. The parts are linked to below.

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  1. ObiterJ says:

    Thanks re the link. It was actually my fault but won’t bore you with the details !! It’s summed up in the phrase “finger trouble.” The correct URL is

    Many thanks.

  2. Adam Wagner says:

    Ibrahim – apologies, link fixed

  3. “Counter-terrorism powers” – The Protection of Freedoms Bill – No.6

    This link does not work.

  4. Teresa May and the government are, as they say, full of it –

    “Today we have a rare opportunity. The Bill gives us a chance to roll back the creeping intrusion of the state into our everyday lives, and to return individual freedoms to the heart of our legislation.”

    When Clegg announced the intention to deal with this issue, we thought that finally something meaningful was to be done about the 8000 odd ways introduced by Labour to make us all criminals. The government can make as many opportunities to repeal laws as they like so rarity need not enter into it.

    Instead we have a Bill to protect freedoms that are our birth right; we have amendments to water down powers that should not exist – they have well and truly missed the point; or have they.

    We’re not seeing a government that is removing unlawful legislation and giving back to the people what is rightfully theirs, we continue to stagger under the burden of laws that have been introduced to protect us from the threat of terrorism and to induce us to part with more and more money in the form of fines, charges and other stealth taxes and at the same time the government continues to ignore their own pledge to be more transparent.

    Clause 61 of the Magna Carta gives people the right to Lawful Rebellion and the time seems to be fast approaching where the scenario envisioned in the movie “V For Vendetta” will become a reality.

    The government cannot continue to remove power from the people; undermine the Crown; find ways to segregate and separate neighbours from one another (divided we fall); taxing the people into oblivion while allowing ten figure bonuses for chinless wonders and causing disabled people to contemplate suicide due to poverty and distress; while ensuring their own gilt-edge salaries, pensions and expense regime.

    But then, apathy rules; the majority have become content to sit in front of their TV watching mind numbing shows like Big Brother and the X Factor; being encouraged to believe that they can achieve fame and fortune without the benefit of hard work then being penalised for doing so; being isolated from each other – even to the level that each member of a household will be segregated in a technology induced cloud of entertainment via their Sky box or X-box or via their PC while they twitter or book their faces all over the Internet – constantly searching it seems for fame and fortune within the confines of their bedroom.

    Gone are the days when children played together in the streets and neighbours developed a bond of friendship and community; when families got together. These days people spend their time in splendid isolation even when out socialising they are glued to their phone either sending or receiving messages.

    Maybe it’s too late to reverse the trend, Ministers and local councils are accumulating more and more power with each piece of legislation that is allowed to go through; stealth legislation is introduced when Parliament is not paying proper attention; plans are afoot to remove the Crown and the House of Lords so all the power will lie in the hands of politicians whose most ardent intent is to get back into power so they promise what they know the people crave the most while at the same time enjoying the many benefits of their position over and above what is really needed to do the job.

    What if someone raises an objection? Don’t worry, there is enough legislation in place to prove that a voice of dissent is, in some way, linked to terrorism and there are severe and draconian penalties in place to deal with such objections and the state enforcement officers will descend on you like a ton of bricks and the courts will be hamstrung by the legislation they have to deal with.

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