Huppert secures key legislation in Queen’s Speech

10 May, 2012 No Comments

May 9, 2012

Cambridge MP Julian Huppert has welcomed key legislation on libel reform in the Queen’s Speech, which he fought for and which will promote free speech and free up academic and scientific debate.

He has also welcomed other Liberal Democrat victories, including tougher regulations on the giant supermarkets, major reform of the House of Lords and moves to break up the banks.

But he has again expressed his grave concerns about new powers to allow the police and intelligence services to snoop on texts and emails.

“The Lib Dems have achieved key legislation addressing major issues which have stifled freedom of speech and led to unfair competition,” said Julian. “I am delighted that we have been able to get these recognised by the government and action taken to tackle them.”

Julian worked on the draft libel reform bill and pushed it on many occasions, including at the Lib Dem Conference, for it to be in this year's legislative programme.

He also received assurances in the House of Commons from the Lord Chancellor, Kenneth Clarke earlier this year that the government would ensure that research could be published freely without fear of defamation, after cases such as that of Simon Singh and Peter Wilmshurst led to great concern.

And today (Wednesday, May 9) the new Bill, which prevents scientific and academic debate from being stifled by fear of legal action, was announced in the Queen’s Speech.

“This is a huge step forward,” said Julian. “It gives academics and scientists the opportunity to publish their research findings freely and openly without the risk of being sued.

“Now we can give them the freedom to speak out when their work makes discoveries that challenge ideas and concepts even if that research is controversial.”

He also welcomed the Groceries Code Adjudicator Bill to enforce the Groceries Code. This makes sure the largest retailers, such as the big name supermarkets, treat their suppliers fairly.

“We have seen the giant supermarkets such as Tesco and Sainsbury moving into Cambridge and threatening the smaller, independent traders,” said Julian. “This new Bill will provide tougher regulation, promote fair competition and give everyone a fighting chance.”

Julian also welcomed the reform of the House of Lords – a key Liberal Democrat election pledge.

He said: “This move will substantially cut the number of peers and allow the people to elect 80 per cent of the second chamber. I firmly believe that those making the laws should be accountable to the people and not given a seat by some ancient right.”

But Julian has again expressed his concerns about extra powers to allow the surveillance of internet communication, although he welcomed the decision to publish a draft of the bill.

He said: “I cannot support any plans which allow the state to view the content of private emails, telephone calls, text messages or any electronic communications without a warrant,” he said. “The police and the security services should not be given a free pass to snoop on the private lives of my constituents.

“There can be no justification for this and I will do everything in my power to stop this happening. We need greater protections and safeguards so our private data stays ours. The Home office has refused to say publicly exactly what it intends to do, and it must do so urgently before we can sensible discuss their proposals.”


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