You would think, wouldn't you, that I'd have been delighted to see the last bit of the ID database being destroyed on BBC Breakfast this morning. I wasn't. Obviously I'm pleased that another Liberal Democrat promise has been kept, but my overwhelming feeling was one of being cheated. Labour wasted billions on something that was never going to be effective, was always a waste of time, in the face of all the evidence to the contrary. They racked up the deficit even more for no good reason. Gee, thanks, Labour.
But back to the Bill in question. It applies to England and Wales, so not much in here for Scotland as the areas it covers are all devolved. It "steps up the government’s commitment to restore hard-won British liberties with an array of sweeping reforms that will put an end to the unnecessary scrutiny of law-abiding individuals".
- a new code of practice for CCTV;
- dumping the DNA of innocent people - Labour held on to a million people's DNA. For things like sexual offences, it'll be held indefinitely, but if you're innocent, it won't be;
- related to that - no taking of fingerprints from kids without parental consent ;
- forbidding council from over the top snooping to check people live in school catchment areas or put the right things in their bins;
- wiping out convictions for consensual gay sex;
- strengthened Freedom of Information legislation;
- an end to unauthorised wheel clamping.
The real biggie for me as a mum is the end to this ridiculous, overly bureaucratic vetting and barring scheme which would have led to 9 million adults having to be subjected to needless checks, being presumed guilty until proven innocent. It was way over the top. I wrote about this at length when the idea was first brought in by Labour. I am a worrier by nature and have to stop myself from wrapping my child up in cotton wool. Even I, though, could see the flaws in the proposals, how they would be unnecessarily intrusive, and would not have protected the victims of murderers like Ian Huntley. I'd like to see enhanced disclosure, the system we have up here, scaled back. It only shows that people haven't committed an offence, not that they won't.
All in all, a sensible package of measures and another welcome example of Liberal Democrat words being turned into Government action. One question, though. Nick Clegg had a big consultation in the Summer asking people for ideas for laws that could be repealed. A fair few of the suggestions (eg my husband's on fire extinguishers) just would look out of place in this Bill, but I wonder what's happening with them and if there are other ideas that will be brought into other bills in other areas in the future.