A Freedom or Great Repeal Bill would address concerns around what has been described as a tidal wave of criminal justice legislation in recent years. It also provides an opportunity to strengthen the accountability of bodies receiving public funding in light of lessons learnt so far from the operation of the Freedom of Information Act.
The purpose of the Bill
Roll back the State, reducing the weight of government imposition on citizens that has increased in recent years through legislation and centralised programmes.
The main benefits of the Bill
The exact content of the Bill will be announced in due course and could cover a range of benefits, including:
- restoring freedoms and civil liberties
- providing for greater accountability of the State to citizens
- reducing the burden of Government intrusion into the lives of individuals, by repealing unnecessary criminal laws
- strengthening the accountability of bodies receiving public funding in light of lessons learnt so far from the operation of the Freedom of Information Act
- introducing new legislation to restrict the scope of the DNA database and to give added protection to innocent people whose samples have been stored
- allowing members of the public to protest peacefully without fear of being criminalised
- ensuring anti-terrorism legislation strikes the right balance between protecting the public, strengthening social cohesion and protecting civil liberties
- protecting privacy by introducing new legislation to regulate the use of CCTV
- ensuring the storage of internet and email records is only done when there is good reason to do so
The main elements of the Bill
The exact content of the Bill will be announced in due course and could cover a range of policies, including:
- The extension of the scope of the Freedom of Information Act to provide greater transparency.
- The protection of historic freedoms through the defence of trial by jury.
- The reform of libel laws to protect freedom of speech.
- The repeal of unnecessary criminal offences.
- Adopting the protections of the Scottish model for the DNA database.
- The restoration of rights to non-violent protest.
- Safeguards against the misuse of anti-terrorism legislation.
- Further regulation of CCTV.
- Ending of storage of internet and email records without good reason.
A speech by the Deputy Prime Minister on the Government’s programme of reforms, Wednesday, 19 May 2010
Existing legislation in this area is:
- CCTV - Data Protection Act 1998 and Regulation of Investigation Act 2000.
- Protest - Public Order Act 1986.
- DNA - Crime and Security Act 2010.
- Terrorism - Terrorism Act 2000, Prevention of Terrorism Act 2005 Terrorism Act 2006 and Counter-Terrorism Act 2008.
The legislation involved is subject to further review, which the Government has indicated will involve input from the public (see Deputy PM speech above).
Criminal measures will normally only apply to England, Wales and Northern Ireland. The storage of DNA samples is a power devolved to the Scottish Assembly. The bill would adopt the Scottish model.