Friday, July 09, 2010

Ten great ideas from Nick Clegg's Your Freedom

Last week Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg set up the Your Freedom website, inviting people to give their ideas to restore and improve freedom for individuals and businesses. As he says:

We're working to create a more open and less intrusive society through our Programme for Government. We want to restore Britain’s traditions of freedom and fairness, and free our society of unnecessary laws and regulations – both for individuals and businesses.

This site gives you the chance to tell us which laws and regulations you think we should get rid of. Your feedback will inform government policy and some of your proposals could end up making it into bills we bring before Parliament to change the law. We've had an excellent response so far, receiving thousands of ideas, comments and votes.

I thought I'd keep my eye on it and do an occasional list what I think are the 10 best ideas I can find.

It's a bit of a no brainer, but getting rid of the Digital Economy Act figures highly and would be well up my list of priorities.

At the moment in England women have the protection of the law if the choose to breastfeed their babies in public up to the age of just 6 months. In Scotland it's two years. I think that the decision about how long to nurse should be up to mothers and their children, not the state so I'd like to see the age limits taken out of both these laws. If you agree, rate this idea.

Stop the Police apprehending people who are perfectly legitimately taking photographs of public buildings.

Disestablish the Church of England - how can we, in a free society, give one religious institution a special place in our Government?

I will declare an interest in the next one because it's another from my husband - businesses have to spend a fortune making sure anyone who uses a computer complies with the law in terms of the set up of their workstation and shelling out for free eye tests. Given that most of the workforce now uses smartphones and home PCs there's an argument for these regulations to be repealed.

It's not so much the substance of this idea that I think is worth promoting, but the fact that its proposer has, like many others, had the complete run around from the Child Support Agency. We need to get the public services we provide to be more efficient, competent and user friendly and this lady's story shows why.

I've always said that it's ridiculous that if I hit Stephen who is more than able to defend himself, I'd find myself banged up in no time, but if I hit my daughter, that would be perfectly legitimate. I'm glad to see that someone wants to outlaw corporal punishment in the household.

Related to this is the idea that England should follow Scotland's example and raise the criminal age of responsibility.

Right to die. This is something I've struggled with over the years. I'm keen to avoid a situation where people are pressurised to end their lives before they want to but have come to the conclusion that there is more than enough cultural and religious pressure the other way which could do with being balanced. I can't go through all the issues in a paragraph, but I think it's time we had a proper debate on the subject. We're trying, up here, with Margo MacDonald's bill, but I don't think we've got past the knee jerk reaction part yet. Religious organisations have been quick to condemn, but not to offer compassion and understanding.

Reform the libel laws which effectively allow rich, powerful corporations to escape legitimate scrutiny and curtail press freedom with secret super injunctions.

That's a diverse range of opinion to be going along with. If you've seen any good ideas to add to this list, please put them in the comments with links to the Your Freedom site - and if your idea isn't on there yet, add it.


Andrew Hickey said...

I agree with most of the above, but disagree on the workstation one. Quite simply, no-one should be forced to cause themselves unnecessary physical harm in order to do their job. Providing chairs that won't lead to back injuries when sat in for long periods of time, or keyboards that minimise risk of RSI, is no different to providing breathing protection when working with toxic fumes in that respect.

What people choose to do on their own time is their business, and it would be horribly illiberal to prevent someone from causing themselves long-term harm for short-term pleasure if they wish to. But people should not be forced to cause themselves harm when that harm can be prevented by relatively trivial changes made by their employer.

(As a matter of fact my own workspace is set up in the least ergonomic way possible, because I like that and choose to do so, but I am glad that my employer has to keep to minimum standards in these matters).

Munguin said...

How about the right to not have pointless referendums on voting systems that the Lib Dem sponsored Jenkins Commission (you remember him Roy Jenkins fairly important Lib Dem?) said was inadequate and not proportional, to be held in Scotland in contravention of the Lib Dem supported Gould report?

James Kelly said...

"Ten great ideas from Nick Clegg's Your Freedom"

Hand on heart, when I first saw the link to this post on another blog I assumed the title was ironic or a spoof! 'Nick Clegg's Your Freedom' sounds like the name of a slightly sinister game show with an Orwellian twist.

But most of the ten ideas would indeed be welcome although, like you, the 'right to die' is an issue I've really struggled with.

Kelvin Holdsworth said...

>Religious organisations have been quick to condemn, but not to offer compassion and understanding.

I've never known any religious organisation respond to end of life issues with anything other than compassion and understanding.

Mark @ Israel said...

Yes, I agree with these ideas especially on the mother's right to breastfeed her baby at any age she wants and as long as the baby still breastfeeds. It's also ridiculous for the police to be apprehending people who are merely taking pictures of buildings.


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