I've just been having a look around Your Freedom, the site set up at the instigation of Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg where we are asked for our suggestions of unnecessary laws to repeal in the Freedom Bill to be published in the next session of Parliament.
Here are some ideas I've come across that I think are worth considering:
A couple of weeks ago I had a prescription to pick up. I went to the pharmacy but was told I'd have to wait an hour or so because the locum pharmacist was on lunch. Fair enough. When I returned, the pharmacist had indeed returned from lunch, but had disappeared, nobody knew where, from the shop floor. They couldn't simply give me the medication which the pharmacist had made up and sealed because they weren't qualified to do so. When the pharmacist eventually re-appeared some 10 minutes later, the assistant behind the counter went and got my medicine and handed it to me. The pharmacist had no input into this transaction whatsoever. She could have given me anybody's medicine. Requiring the pharmacist to oversee all transactions seems to be one of these pieces of bureaucracy we could do without. I certainly wasn't any safer for his presence and it was time consuming and inconvenient. I wasn't surprised to see that someone else had already suggested repeal on Your Freedom.
Then there's this excellent contribution from Mike Brady of Baby Milk Action who calls for a simplification of the Infant Formula and Follow on Formula Regulations in order to bring it into line with the International Code on the Marketing of Breast Milk Substitutes. This is long overdue. I am fed up of going into supermarkets and seeing promotions and displays of formula that I am fairly certain aren't legal and nothing can be done about. I was really annoyed a few years ago when Katie Price did an interview with OK Magazine which extolled the virtues of formula and around it were advertisements for the brand she was using but the Advertising Standards authority and Trading Standards between them didn't have enough power, and there were sufficient loopholes in the legislation so nothing was done. I felt that that formula manufacturer and the publisher were basically laughing at the Code.
Formula promotion undermines breastfeeding and Mike Brady's proposal shows how much money the NHS could save even if there was a modest increase in breastfeeding rates.
Imagine if you made some mistakes early in y our life which resulted in you getting a criminal record. You want to lead a law abiding life, but what chance do you have if potential employers reject you simply on the basis of you declaring your previous offences as you are required to do by law? This proposal suggests that employers should not be allowed to reject someone purely on the basis of their declared, unspent convictions. I'm not sure whether that would actually result in more ex offenders getting jobs, but I think it's worth looking at barriers to employment ex offenders face. It's a big success if someone is able to turn their life around and if we believe in rehabilitation, as I do, we have to help people get into work. Obviously there are some offences which would mean that it's not appropriate for someone to work with vulnerable people, whether children or the elderly, but this proposal is a good starting point to considering how we can help ex offenders re-establish themselves.
I include this idea on dealing with homophobic bullying at school to highlight the fact that the Coalition Agreement specifically includes help for schools to tackle this. This is something else that Liberal Democrats can be proud of because I doubt the Tories would have introduced this on their own.
The abolition of control orders is for me a must. Detention without trial or charge or even knowing why the order has been issued is so fundamentally unjust and this practice must be stopped.
A proposal for an evidence based drugs policy is exactly what we need. The alternative point of view has been failing for too long.
Ending 28 day detention without charge- which is, by the way, Liberal Democrat policy. This is as good a time as any to point out the excellent speech made by Julian Huppert, new Lib Dem MP for Cambridge on the subject a few weeks ago when he concluded:
"We do face a serious situation, and we do need to have the right tools to combat terrorism, but 28-day detention without trial is not the right one. It causes too much collateral damage in its effect on our civil liberties and the message that we send to others who might be considering such issues and those who look up to us from other countries. I urge hon. Members to reject 28 days."
The Government is currently reviewing this provision and should report back in the Autumn with future proposals.
I hope you've found this interesting and that it's encouraged and inspired you to put your ideas up on this site for discussion.