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Cambridge Liberal Democrats

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Julian Huppert MP

Howarth calls for new law to protect Britain's freedom

September 18, 2009 11:41 AM

Howarth NO2ID Strawberry FairMP David Howarth is calling for a new law to restore and protect the freedom of British residents and visitors.

He wants to see the introduction of a Freedom Bill because he fears that over the last 20 years the nation's civil liberties have been steadily eroded.

Mr Howarth, Shadow Justice Secretary, will call for the new Bill at the Liberal Democrat's autumn conference in Bournemouth on Sunday (September 20).

He will tell delegates that the government is spending billions of pounds collecting more and more of people's personal data and Britain has the largest DNA database in the world, including data on a million innocent people.

The conference will also be told that there is one CCTV camera for every 14 people in Britain.

"A generation of children are growing up as strangers to the treasured freedoms on which Britain once prided itself," he said. "Successive authoritarian Labour and Conservative Governments have passed laws which have turned the UK into a surveillance state.

"The state must not be allowed to trample over an individual's right to privacy, liberty, free expression and association."

Mr Howarth will tell the conference that the new Bill should include:

• reducing the maximum period of pre-charge detention back to 14 days;

• the scrapping of ID cards, including for foreign nationals;

• the restricting of surveillance powers for use only for the investigation of serious crimes and require a warrant from a magistrate;

• innocent people should be removed from the DNA database;

• the ContactPoint database of all children should be scrapped;

• no restrictions on the right to trial by jury for serious offences.

Mr Howarth added: "The commitment of political parties to civil liberties and human rights is measured by whether they are prepared to protect them in the case of unpopular and marginalised groups and not just for 'free-born Englishmen'."