Quantifying compromise

Yesterday the Government announced a “Freedom or Great Repeal Bill” to undo the worst excesses of Labour authoritarianism. If many of the policies therein seem familiar it’s because they seem to have been cherry-picked from the Freedom Bill that the Liberal Democrats put together for the Convention on Modern Liberty last year. After the publication of that Freedom Bill, the Conservatives were also heard to say they would repeal various Labour Acts of Parliament, though they were much less specific about which ones.

I thought it would be interesting to compare the contents of the Liberal Democrat Freedom Bill with the new Government’s version:

Liberal Democrat Freedom Bill Government “Freedom or Great Repeal Bill”
Scrap ID cards for everyone, including foreign nationals. Scrap the ID card scheme, the National Identity register, the next generation of biometric passports.
Ensure that there are no restrictions in the right to trial by jury for serious offences including fraud. Defend trial by jury.
Restore the right to protest in Parliament Square, at the heart of our democracy. Restore rights to non-violent protest.
Abolish the flawed control orders regime.
Renegotiate the unfair extradition treaty with the United States.
Restore the right to public assembly for more than two people.
Scrap the ContactPoint database of all children in Britain. Scrap the ContactPoint database.
Strengthen freedom of information by giving greater powers to the Information Commissioner and reducing exemptions. Extend the scope of the Freedom of Information Act to provide greater transparency.
Stop criminalising trespass.
Restore the public interest defence for whistleblowers.
Prevent allegations of ‘bad character’ from being used in court.
Restore the right to silence when accused in court.
Prevent bailiffs from using force.
Restrict the use of surveillance powers to the investigation of serious crimes and stop councils snooping. Safeguards against the misuse of anti-terrorism legislation.
Restore the principle of double jeopardy in UK law.
Remove innocent people from the DNA database. Adopt the Scottish approach to stopping retention of innocent people’s DNA on the DNA database.
Reduce the maximum period of pre-charge detention to 14 days.
Scrap the ministerial veto which allowed the Government to block the release of Cabinet minutes relating to the Iraq war.
Require explicit parental consent for biometric information to be taken from children. Outlaw the finger-printing of children at school without parental permission.
Regulate CCTV following a Royal Commission on cameras. Further regulation of CCTV.
A review of libel laws to protect freedom of speech.
Ending of storage of internet and email records without good reason.
A new mechanism to prevent the proliferation of unnecessary new criminal offences.
End the detention of children for immigration purposes.

What do I conclude from this comparison? That the Government’s outline proposals are a massive step in the right direction however there is still more work to do.