The dreadful Civil Contingencies Bill Part 2 Emergency Powers is finally starting to be discussed in the blogosphere, after having been shamefully neglected by the political parties and the media.
- "Civil Contingencies Bill: Britain's Patriot Act - revised, and just as dangerous as before" - Statewatch
- Report of the Joint Select Committee on the Draft Civil Contingencies Bill
- "Makes the USA Patriot Act look like a JCR motion" - The Edge of England's Sword
- "A very British coup" - Samzidata
- "Blair's 'Enabling Act'" - New Alliance
We have huge concerns about the potential abuse of such draconian powers, which are being presented in a Bill without any explicit, easy to understand when people are in a hurry because there is an Emergency, constitutional checks and balances. We even contributed evidence to the Joint Select Committee of Parliament which scrutinised the Draft version of this Bill.
As Philip Johnston writes in an opinion piece for The Daily Telegraph, the New Labour Government under Prime Minister Tony Blair and Home Secretary David Blunkett has been steadily eroding traditional safeguards on civil liberties, often by successfully diverting what little organised opposition there is onto legislation which only affects a handful of people e.g. those foreign terrorist suspects detained without trial, whilst pushing through evil which will affect everyone in the entire country.
"But, when it comes to illiberalism, he is a serial offender. Just consider the charge sheet. Jury trials to be abolished where there is a risk of intimidation or in complex serious fraud cases; the ancient rule of double jeopardy dispensed with; the proposed introduction of compulsory ID cards; a huge extension in CCTV camera coverage; the "snooper's charter", which allows a wide range of government bodies and quangos to watch over people, check on what they are doing and monitor their communications by collecting personal details about the use of phones and e-mails; an assets recovery agency that allows the civil courts to take away the wealth of people suspected of making their money from crime, even if they have not been convicted of anything; a new law to make incitement to religious hatred a criminal offence (dropped three years ago amid fierce criticism, but recently resurrected); the European arrest warrant, which allows for fast-track extradition for such non-existent crimes as "xenophobia"; the so-called Henry VIII provision in the Anti-terrorism, Crime and Security Act, which allows the Home Secretary to amend any provision; and plans in the draft Mental Health Bill to lock away people with psychopathic personality disorders who may attack someone, but have not done so as far as we know.
Last, but by no means least, is the Civil Contingencies Bill, currently before Parliament. Strictly speaking, this is not a Home Office measure, but it vests in the Home Secretary extraordinary powers for use in an emergency"
Of course there is also the Children Bill database on all 11 million children in the UK, and on their parents and guardians, the retention forever of DNA and other genetic material in a police database even if you are innocent of any crime, the linking of Social Security and Pensions databases with Inland Revenue ones, to provide geographical information systems maps of everyone, broken down by racial categories etc.
The forthcoming Queens's speech is alleged to have six legislative slots reserved for the Home Office. How likely is it that they will use these to increase our freedom and liberty and to repeal some of the draconian powers that they have granted themselves, without actually solving any major social and political problems associated with crime or terrorism ?