back to article The repeal bill: what's left in, what's left out

Today’s Repeal Bill is likely to receive an enthusiastic welcome from Big Brother Watch and a lukewarm endorsement from the Lib Dems. But as the proposal is more closely analysed, a fair few of those cheering now may soon be a good deal more gloomy; in respect of what has been left out and the fine detail of how freedoms are to …


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  1. david wilson

    Posible futures?

    >>"What actually happened is that detention could be pushed back up beyond 14 days under emergency legislation if the government felt so inclined."

    Could a government easily make it *impossible* for future legislation to permit something?

    1. Col


    2. John Smith 19 Gold badge
      Thumb Up

      @david wilson

      "What actually happened is that detention could be pushed back up beyond 14 days under emergency legislation if the government felt so inclined."

      Could a government easily make it *impossible* for future legislation to permit something?

      Good point. Jacquie Smith pointed out that Labor could make carrying identity cards compulsorily with essentially a one clause bill.

      None of that namby pamby getting a consensus when you've got a big parliamentary majority.

      It's an interesting question if the UK would even get *this* if the Conservatives had a majority or weather they'd just spout aphorisms like "Let sleeping dogs lie, least said soonest mended" etc.

    3. lIsRT

      Parliamentary sovereignty


      Parliament can pass or repeal whatever laws it wishes to, it can (and I think has?) passed legislation to subordinate itself to certain international law, but it could repeal this if it wanted.

      copypasta from wikipedia:

      The doctrine of parliamentary supremacy may be summarised in three points:

      * Parliament can make laws concerning anything.

      * No Parliament can bind a future parliament (that is, it cannot pass a law that cannot be changed or reversed by a future Parliament).

      * A valid Act of Parliament cannot be questioned by the court. Parliament is the supreme lawmaker.

    4. penguin slapper

      Constitutional Issue

      This is one of the great Constitutional questions - "can a Parliament successfully bind a successor Parliament?"

      The simple answer is "no".

      Parliament is supreme and can repeal any prior Act at any time, or, by passing an Act that contradicts an earlier Act, can, via the "Doctrine of Implied Repeal", change the law without actually repealing the prior Act.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    Point taken but...

    Point taken but you said it yourself. You can only put so much in one bill.

    The changes are welcome and insofar as they are not far reaching enough, well there's time.

    The real danger is that the government gets the bill through and declares the "job done" and we don't see the subsequent additional bills required to go further.

    1. Graham Marsden

      "You can only put so much in one bill."

      Really? See the last Government's "Christmas Tree" Bills where everybody got a chance to hang something on it, so much so that the majority of it was never debated by our elected representatives and even the Lords didn't have the time to go through it all.

      As you say, the risk is that, once this (hopefully) goes through, any other such repeals/ reformations will be kicked into the long long grass with a "Well, we've spent a lot of time on this, so now we want to go on to something else".

      Meanwhile people will still be open to arrest for dangerous pictures/ cartoons/ video clips of Tony the Tiger etc...

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    The whole thing is arse about tit

    it's treating a citizens basic rights as something a government graciously bestows ... and encourages sheeple to continue thinking this.

  4. Paul Gomme

    Quite frankly...

    ...what did you expect?

  5. Spanners Silver badge
    Black Helicopters

    A journey of a thousand miles etc

    This is a very very small step, but at least it proves that the right sort of thing can happen.

    We just need to keep pushing for more.

  6. Anonymous Coward


    I've said it before and I'll say it again.

    Democracy is nothing more than a filler for textbooks...

  7. Tom 38

    a lot of support for repealing the smoking ban and bringing back the death sentence

    As a punishment for smoking? Seems harsh...

    1. TeeCee Gold badge

      @Tom 38

      I thought that the whole point of the smoking ban was that Death *is* supposed to be the penalty for smoking.

      (Posted while still not dead.)

  8. Anonymous Coward

    I can't wait for the next 'direct democracy' experiment.

    Why bother? All the effort put into Great Repeal Bill wiki / Your Freedom website - pretty much wasted. So many excellent suggestions, not in the top-ten..or even 100...... that only a mad-man would disagree with have been ignored.

    UK Gov had a chance to prove that the public could *help* shape policy other than by the blunt ballot box.

    But what did we expect :)

  9. sheila

    The most dangerous threats.. our freedoms develop quietly behind the scenes regardless of which colour of politician are "in power" on the stage and don't get reported in the mainstream media.

    Kenneth Roy, a highly respected old school journalist with his own online publication has recently highlighted the Scottish surveillance scandal - a joined-up, cradle to grave citizen surveillance and monitoring system which makes ID cards , Contactpoint and the NIR look almost benign.

    Open Democracy commented thus on his latest articles:

    "In this two-part exposé, Kenneth Roy, editor of the Scottish Review, reveals the true nature of the long-awaited 'privacy principles' and the back-door introduction of a compulsory ID scheme for Scotland. In both cases, it is the liberties of children that are first on the line. In addition to the intrinsic importance of what happens in Scotland, there are two reasons why everyone across the UK should be alert to warnings of this kind. OurKingdom and openDemocracy played a big role in the 2009 Convention on Modern Liberty. This was a"wake up call" about the dangers of the database state. The evidence it brought together shows that there is a driving state-culture pushing for the penetration of information on citizens and central control of that information, while people are far too complacent and trusting about what this process is, which is being developed with minimal publicity. This is the first reason. Second, from the Poll Tax to the Scottish Consitutional Convention, in both bad ways and good, what happens in Scotland today can impact on what happens in London tomorrow. This is a warning!

    Please heed this warning and read the rest of Kenneth's articles and other related coverage which I'm collating on this thread:

    For some reason, an awful lot of effort has been put into painting Scotland as the epitome of privacy friendliness when nothing could be further from the truth. The only thing myself and others can think of is that our Scottish system, with its prize-winning eCare framework, is destined for further rollout.

  10. Peladon

    Wrongs and rights...

    In the absence of a written Constitution/ Bill of Rights/ Some other name, 'rights' are always subject to interpretation and on-the-fly modification.

    The existance of such a thing does not _prevent_ said 'rights' being buggered about with, but can make such buggerations more visible and, the more reverence applied to the instrument of rights (which in some places means 'Old Fred signed it' and in others means 'it's bloody old -leave it alone'), the more risk there is for a political officer or group to commit said buggery.

    Yes, there are also advantages in not having one - for some people. Yes, the Law of Precedent, establishing an unwritten but documented 'right' can have value. Sometimes even more than the paper it's not written on :-). But in this case, a defined set of Constitutional rights might, or might not, be worth some thought. Again. Not that any political party wants one. Even when they're in Opposition.

    I'm not in the UK, so I don't really have a voice. So now I'll stop speaking in the voice I don't have :-P.

    Yup - that one's mine. The one with the Charter of Rights and Freedoms in the pocket :-P.

  11. Jim Bobble

    This is a title.

    "This Bill looks as though it will best satisfy the conservative heartlands – especially those happiest imbibing a particular Daily Express and Mail vintage of freedom."

    I suspect you're hoping that nobody notices the small 'c', rather than capital 'C', use of the word 'conservative' and are just mixing the two for convenience.

    There's a sizeable faction of Conservative voters who support a liberal conservative approach to civil liberties (and admittedly, many who don't). The 'conservative heartlands' you refer to are actually going to be floating voters - people who, at previous elections, would have been likely to have voted Labour (remember how they kept getting reelected with their toilet roll approach to producing legislation?).

    The Government just doesn't want to scare the horses at The Sun and the Daily Mail right now. It can't really afford to.

  12. JaitcH

    A beginning doomed to failure

    The success of the U.S. Constitution is due, mainly, to the vision of the founding fathers who, on reflection, did a pretty good job, but it's significant benefit there was no political baggage surrounding the writers of the document.

    Fast forward to 1982 when Canada's home written Constitution was signed into law by the Queen giving Canada full independence from the UK - British North America Act in 1867 governed Canada until this point.

    Although the Canadian Prime Minister of the day, Pierre Trudeau, wasn't the most popular guy to hold that office he did have the foresight to get the constitution from a wet dream to reality. Examination of the Canadian Constitution will show there are quite a few 'outs' for political office holders that aren't to be found in the U.S. Constitution.

    Jump to today's feeble attempt of a British 'Constitution' and it is completely devoid of protection of citizens that can be found in both the aforementioned constitutions.

    If the UK government intended to protect the citizenry it would strike down many of the give-aways that Plod enjoys such as no-warrant searches, your-password-or four-years, entitlement not to answer police questions without penalty.

    As both a citizen of Canada and the U.S. (and, actually, the UK) I enjoy many rights that the politicians would never dare give the British. I don't have to respond to Plod yelling: 'Oi, you' if I haven't committed a crime, I don't have to identify myself as a pedestrian (vehicle use requires ID) and I am free to take pictures of any damn thing I see.

    The American Constitution can be amended but only with extreme difficulty; the Canadian likewise but with far lower requirements and the British attempt ...

    Therefore, IMO, no UK 'constitution' will ever succeed unless politicians, with characters that we see no longer, drafted the document.

  13. Sid

    eh, does this 'analysis' have a point?

    Jeez, you can't win can you?

    So the present Coalition set out to put right some of the worst excesses of our past 'Masters' and still end up getting a slagging in 'El Reg' ~ your sub even managed to get in the obligatory reference to the 'Daily Mail'. (Not that I'm a reader by the way).

    Some people will never be happy.


    Confused Uncle Sid.

  14. Robert E A Harvey

    Bring back the stocks

    I have a number of suggestions for them:

    Bring back the stocks, for a start. Nothing like leaving someone out in the rain for two days to soil his pants and get laughed at by his mates as punishment for behaving like a dick.

    Ban Lawyers in all cases not likely to result in a prison sentence. On both sides. let the Judge ask some searching questions, and allow questions from the public gallery.

    Ban TV adverts for compensation lawyers, or in fact any sort of land shark at all.

    Replace the insurance and banking ombudsmen with committees of other policy holders, chosen at random by computer.

    Just repeal the law that costs pubs a thousand quid for a music licence for one night, and replace it with nothing at all. Then start to ask really serious questions about why we have any controls on opening hours. Find some way to stop Greene King buying up and ruining small hotels and make them concentrate on brewing good beer again.

    Remove Sky's apparent monopoly on big screens in pubs. With any luck football will stop being broadcast at all.

    Oh, and bring back the Sunday trading laws. I really like Sundays in Germany where all the shops are shut. You can sit and a have a few beers in peace instead of traipsing round buying sofas and shoes and sealing wax and soup and suits and sausage and suzukis and and Sauternes and spacehoppers and stuff and stuff and stuff...

    1. Chris Parsons

      Why do I need a title to reply to a post?

      I don't see how anyone other than a complete twat could have downvoted your post.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      >>"Ban Lawyers in all cases not likely to result in a prison sentence. On both sides. let the Judge ask some searching questions, and allow questions from the public gallery."

      Who defines 'likely'?

      Who vets questions from the public gallery to make sure they're reasonable (like not allowing people to just accuse someone of some other crime)?

      Who's going to stop a judge asking leading questions?

      Who's going to provide a judge with all the information they need to ask the relevant questions?

      If a judge could be influenced by some of the information they're given which doesn't get revealed, how is a defendant or anyone else going to be able to address that?

      1. Robert E A Harvey
        Thumb Down


        1. The available punishments for all crimes are laid down in statute or guidelines. That seems a pretty good way to decide what is likely to lead to a jail term.

        2. The french, swedish, etc. get on pretty well with inquisitorial magistrates. Are we a special case, then?

        1. david wilson

          @Robert E A Harvey

          So the French, Swedish, systems allow public questions in court?

          In all but the most trivial cases, not allowing a person to have someone to speak for them does seem to risk some people being disadvantaged, and a lesser number being effectively unable to defend themselves properly.

          Just because someone may be unlikely to go to prison if convicted doesn't necessarily mean that a conviction wouldn't have a serious impact on their life.

  15. ShaggyDoggy

    Why don't we

    Why don't we all pop down to Trafalgar square and camp out for 18 days and see if anything happens.

    Oh, wait


    Did no one read this ?

    The useful ideas are outnumbered by the waste of time brigade.

    Item 6042:

    * Do you think any polotitions actually read these comments.

    <p>If you are an MP reading these comments please leave a message and mame.</p>

    <p> If no names are left then we know we are wasting our time....</p>

    My reply: use a spell checker and the politicians might reply.

    Item 6047 is similar.

    Item 6144:

    * Reintroduce transportation to Fraggle Rock

    There are some good ones in there.

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