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Nick Clegg: tell us the laws that you want scrapped

Andrew Porter
Daily Telegraph

18th May 2010

The most radical redistribution of power from the state to the people for 200 years is to be made by the new coalition Government, Nick Clegg is to claim.

The public will be asked what laws they want ripped up, in far-reaching reforms designed to put back “faith in politics”, the Deputy Prime Minister will say.

It will involve the end of the controversial ID cards scheme, the scrapping of universal DNA databases – in which the records of thousands of innocent people have been stored – and restrictions placed on internet records. The use of CCTV cameras will also be reviewed.

Dubbed the “Great Reform Act”, the measures will close down the ContactPoint children’s database. Set up by Labour last year, it includes detailed information on all 11 million youngsters under 18.

In addition, schools will not be able to take a child’s fingerprint without parental permission.

In an attempt to protect freedom of speech, ministers will review libel laws, while limits on peaceful protest will be removed.

Mr Clegg said the Government wanted to establish “a fundamental resettlement of the relationship between state and citizen that puts you in charge”.

In a speech in London he will say: “This Government is going to transform our politics so the state has far less control over you, and you have far more control over the state. This Government is going to break up concentrations of power and hand power back to people, because that is how we build a society that is fair.”

He will describe the plans as “the biggest shake-up of our democracy since 1832, when the Great Reform Act redrew the boundaries of British democracy, for the first time extending the franchise beyond the landed classes”.

Mr Clegg has been the most vocal of the three main party leaders arguing for political reform since The Daily Telegraph exposed the expenses scandal a year ago.

Today, he can put in train the measures which, he claims, will deliver “a power revolution”.

He will say that reform will not simply mean “a few new rules for MPs [or] the odd gesture or gimmick to make you feel a bit more involved”.

Mr Clegg will announce that he wants to hear about which laws should be scrapped to roll back the state encroachment into people’s lives.

“As we tear through the statute book, we’ll do something no government ever has: We will ask you which laws you think should go.

“Because thousands of criminal offences were created under the previous government. Taking people’s freedom away didn’t make our streets safe.

“Obsessive law-making simply makes criminals out of ordinary people. So, we’ll get rid of the unnecessary laws – and once they’re gone, they won’t come back.

“We will introduce a mechanism to block pointless new criminal offences.”

The measures to repeal so-called surveillance state laws will be included in next week’s Queen’s Speech.

Under the coalition agreement, Mr Clegg and David Cameron said they would end “the storage of internet and email regulations and email records without good reason”.

This is likely to mean the end of plans for the Government and the security services to intercept and keep emails and text messages.

The £224 million ContactPoint database can be accessed by 300,000 people working in health, education, social care and youth justice – leading to fears it could be exploited or fall into the wrong hands.

Mr Clegg will add: “It is outrageous that decent, law-abiding people are regularly treated as if they have something to hide. It has to stop.

“This will be a government that is proud when British citizens stand up against illegitimate advances of the state. That values debate, that is unafraid of dissent.”

View the original article at the Daily Telegraph

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