Hidden plan for ministers to axe laws that protect you – with a penstroke

Gone in a penstroke: If the Deregulation Bill becomes law, Acts of Parliament that protect your freedom could be removed from the statute book at a minister's whim.

Gone in a penstroke: If the Deregulation Bill becomes law, Acts of Parliament that protect your freedom could be removed from the statute book at a minister’s whim.

I have spent much of today putting old paperwork through the shredder in advance of tomorrow’s debate on the Deregulation Bill.

Why? Hidden among the plans to revoke ancient laws regulating pigsties is a clause that revokes the freedom of the press – in particular, the freedom of journalists to protect their sources.

The Conservatives and Liberal Democrats don’t want reporters to be able to protect political whistleblowers and the information they release from state harassment and confiscation.

Vox Political has long warned that the Coalition government was pushing us towards totalitarianism, and that is exactly what this apparently innocuous – but in fact deeply pernicious – piece of legislation proves.

We’ve had the gagging law, to silence organised dissent; we know that police chiefs want to use water cannons to stifle public protest; now we are faced with a cloak-and-dagger scheme to silence the press.

The removal of these privileges means the media will be unable to report anything that does not meet government approval – or face confiscation of equipment including computers, notebooks, recordings and correspondence that will lead to the identification of people who provide information that the government wants hushed up.

As a blogger who is also a qualified journalist, this directly affects me – and that is why I have been destroying paperwork. Tomorrow is only the Bill’s second reading – it must go through the committee stage, report stage and third reading before moving on to the House of Lords – but it is better to be well-prepared than to be caught napping.

Far more insidious than this, however, is the other part of this ‘red tape-cutting’ Bill that goes unmentioned. The really harmful part…

The part that says ministers should have the power to revoke any law they like, using statutory instruments (at the stroke of a pen) rather than taking the issue to a democratic vote in Parliament and, you know, actually telling anybody about it.

This means freedoms we have enjoyed for centuries-  or just a few years – could be removed with no prior notice, under the pretext of getting rid of ‘red tape’.

We would certainly be living in a police state if this were allowed to happen.

So here’s the big question: Do you think your MP even knows about this?

I only know because I read it on Another Angry Voice – from which site this article has swiped much of its information.

In his article, AAV creator Thomas G. Clark points out: “The Tories that devised this scheme… are clearly relying on the vast majority of Coalition MPs voting this through as the whips instruct them, without bothering to even read the documentation, understand the intricacies or even participate in the debate.

“If you chose to ignore the wealth of evidence and refuse to believe that David Cameron and the Tories would use these new powers to… stamp out dissent for their own sociopathic reasons, then at least consider the possibility that they are enabling the possibility of an unimaginably invasive totalitarian regime in the future. One where open justice is abolished, the population permanently monitored for signs of dissent, and dissenters are silenced in secretive Stalinist style legalistic proceedings.”

Obviously AAV and Vox Political will be right in the firing-line if this happens.

You need to contact your MP and ask what they’re going to do about this appalling assault on your freedom. Tell them about the clauses in the Deregulation Bill that have nothing to do with removing archaic regulations and everything to do with clamping down on your freedom and tell them in no uncertain terms that you won’t have it.

It’s a good bet that they won’t know what you’re talking about. Clause 47 relates to the press, as this Guardian report and this article from Inforrm’s blog make clear.

I believe Clause 51, and those following, relate to the repeal of laws by statutory instrument.

You can find contact details for your MP on TheyWorkForYou.com

If you get an email off to them quickly, there might even be a chance to nip this in the bud.

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  1. PendanticGeek February 2, 2014 at 10:32 pm - Reply

    Scan your notes encrypt them and store them in a drop box account. The servers are in the US and not covered under this law. For added protection use someone else’s equipment to make the scans and put them in the drop box. If you want a greater level of protection feel free to ask.

  2. PendanticGeek February 2, 2014 at 10:38 pm - Reply

    Oh BTW this sets ministers above Royal Assent yet again. Since Prince Charles is now patron of certain agencies perhaps it is time for him to release some information by Royal prerogative.

  3. joanna February 2, 2014 at 11:02 pm - Reply

    Hi Mike I have sent this to Alan Johnson my MP!!

    • Mike Sivier February 2, 2014 at 11:03 pm - Reply

      As a Labour MP, I’d hope he would vote against it anyway!

      • joanna February 2, 2014 at 11:19 pm - Reply

        I have included a note asking him to let me know, and I will pass any information to you, we can but hope!

  4. Chris Tandy February 2, 2014 at 11:30 pm - Reply

    I think my Labour MP is voting against it.
    The taxman just gave me a rebate. I vowed I’d buy your book if this happened. It’s on order. A small bit of financial assistance, and I wish I could offer more, as you are worth much more than that.
    You are invaluable, Mike; a glimmer of sanity in a more and more mad world turning upside down.

    • Mike Sivier February 3, 2014 at 12:23 am - Reply

      Sometimes I wonder!

      • Joseph Smith February 3, 2014 at 9:23 am - Reply

        Mike, I’ve said this before, we need you otherwise these pink cheeked wealthy self seeking idiots would be in total control now. I’ve got several friends who read VP on a regular basis, keep going mate.

  5. Neil February 3, 2014 at 2:08 am - Reply

    shredding paperwork, were you not tempted to scan any important stuff and bang it in a truecrypt volume, truecrypt is very secure, very safe and is your friend, http://www.truecrypt.org/

  6. […] I have spent much of today putting old paperwork through the shredder in advance of tomorrow's debate on the Deregulation Bill. Why? Hidden among the plans to revoke ancient laws regulating pigstie…  […]

  7. Editor February 3, 2014 at 8:43 am - Reply

    Reblogged this on Stuff That Stood Out.

  8. Huw Sayer - Business Writer February 3, 2014 at 9:39 am - Reply

    Have written to my MP – Richard Bacon (C) but doubt it will worry him.

    I know Cameron once said he wasn’t a libertarian – but I didn’t expect him to be so draconian.

  9. beastrabban February 3, 2014 at 9:39 am - Reply

    Reblogged this on Beastrabban’s Weblog.

  10. gingerblokeblog February 3, 2014 at 9:44 am - Reply

    Reblogged this on gingerblokeblog.

  11. Norman FitzNicely February 3, 2014 at 10:09 am - Reply

    As my MP is the idiot who wants to rename a bank holiday after Thatcher (spit!), I hold out little hope of him actually reading the detail in this bill. Come Election Day I will be actively campaigning against him and the Tories.
    Thank you, Mike,and please keep it up.

    • Athene Noctua February 4, 2014 at 3:17 pm - Reply

      Norman – that makes yours and mine, then! My MP being Dom Grieve, and a more odious, obnoxious, obstreperous and obtuse ‘man’ you are unlikely to encounter. He sits in his office, rubbing his hands in glee at the thought of all the lovely extra lolly he’ll be raking in come the day the NHS is finally eradicated (he’s on the boards of THREE companies which are set to get a big slice of NHS pie). I’m a socialist republican living with 2 Tory monarchists, who are so f***ing naïve that they HONESTLY believe that every law that’s made is made for the good of the country! I hate to keep banging on about it, but the fact that weed MUST be dangerous (yes, they believed that article!) or it’d be legal. My father dismissed as “absurd” the notion that it was illegal simply to protect Big Pharma’s profits and MPs self-interests. This directly affects me, as I’m autistic and have chronic health issues. My mother says she’s too much of a “goody-goody” to break the law, but she’s a strange idea of ‘good’ if you ask me; what’s “good” about a law which criminalises thousands of innocent people…? Or locking someone up for protesting…? She says I’m living on a different planet, implying that I need to start “living in the real world” (another of her favourite stock phrases). Don’t think it’s ME not living in the real world – do you…?! I’m not the sheeple, living my life with my head in the sand, oblivious to what’s REALLY going on in this country. They believe everything they see on the Beeb, everything they read in the Torygraph. Y’know, if I went out on a 420 demo and was arrested for protesting and/or smoking – they’d not support me – I broke the law, therefore I’m bad and deserve all the punishment I get… I can just hear them now “I don’t care WHAT you think of the law, the law exists and you broke it. Bad people break laws; we are GOOD people because we don’t. Maybe this time you’ll realise that…”

      They are just gonna LOVE living in a police state, aren’t they…?! They’re the model citizens Scumoron, Gidiot, Schmitty et al have wet dreams about!

      And woe betides me if I should speak ill of The Maggot… It’s EXTREMELY hard having a conscience in this house. I’m Red in a house of Blue. I’m 99% certain they’re NOT my parents; I don’t LOOK like them, SOUND like them, ACT like them – we have ABSOLUTELY F*** ALL IN COMMON! I’ve given up trying to educate them, because they Simply Don’t Care. Everything I do is “evil” or “bad” or I’m a “criminal”. I’ve got to find some way of getting a weed grow started, because I can’t cope with living here much longer. I want out, and it’s the only thing that’ll help my autism – AND my physical health.

      I have to be surreptitious about it because, otherwise, I won’t have a roof over my head – and/or I’ll find myself arrested (yes, they’d shop me!) and because I’m autistic, I tend to get my head kicked in by the plod (and, yes, I DO mean literally. Got a 3″ scar on the top – and another on the back- of my head from the boot of a police c***! They have NEVER supported me (it’s because of them I’m as f***ed-up as I am!(

      • Mike Sivier February 4, 2014 at 6:11 pm - Reply

        For legal reasons I should point out that Vox Political does not, of course, endorse criminal activity.

  12. stewilko February 3, 2014 at 10:39 am - Reply

    Reblogged this on stewilko's Blog.

  13. Simon February 3, 2014 at 10:52 am - Reply

    Clause 57 is “Repeal of duties relating to consultation or involvement” in the Local Government Act, which could mean local Councils won’t have to consult with the public over local services.

    Clause 60 is the one on “Legislation no longer of practical use”, which says “Schedule 17 makes provision for legislation which is no longer of practical use
    to cease to apply.” And Schedule 17 lists all the sections of the Laws that would be deleted: laws on companies, industry, energy, transport, environment, animals and food, education, and criminal law.

    Clause 61 is “Exercise of regulatory functions: economic growth” which means that anyone exercising a regulatory function “must, in the exercise of the function, have regard to the desirability of promoting economic growth.” So the driving consideration for everything will be economic growth!

    • Mike Sivier February 3, 2014 at 10:56 am - Reply

      Clause 51 is “Orders disapplying legislation no longer of practical use”, and the wording suggests a danger for any laws offering no profit to the Tories or their friends. That’s why I reckon this is the one to fear.

      • Simon February 3, 2014 at 11:08 am - Reply

        Which version of the bill are you looking at? I think mine is more up to date. Clause 51 is now about gangmasters. Bills often change the numbering of clauses during their passage through Parliament; very confusing. For up to date documentation on a bill, see the bill’s business page: http://services.parliament.uk/bills/2013-14/deregulation.html

        • Mike Sivier February 3, 2014 at 11:18 am - Reply

          I had an earlier version of the Bill (which I am sure was up on the same page you reference).

          Anyway, it seems the relevant clause is now Clause 65, unless anyone else can cast illumination on this?

        • Mike Sivier February 3, 2014 at 11:22 am - Reply

          And the part relevant to the press is now Clause 57.

  14. […] to a police raid- as they would be in a weak position to defend themselves. It is worth reading Vox Political’s blog on this point and taking […]

  15. Simon February 3, 2014 at 11:46 am - Reply

    Sorry Mike, not it’s not clause 57 that’s about PACE and production orders for journalistic material, it’s still clause 47 (for the moment).

    Clause 65 is the usual “consequential” part of a bill, and it refers to the whole bill, but it’s still clause 60 on getting rid of laws “no longer of practical use”, and clauses 61 and 64 on the primacy of economic growth.

    Use the link above (services.parliament) to find the most up to date version of the bill, which I have just checked.

    Here is the link to the current version, and clause 60 onwards:


    • Mike Sivier February 3, 2014 at 12:45 pm - Reply

      The trouble is, the legal language used is practically impenetrable to anybody who isn’t professionally involved in this, or who doesn’t have hours and days to go and look up the various pieces of legislation in which this Bill demands that Parliament “omit” one part and “insert” another.

      It seems clear that the intention is to obfuscate.

  16. Tim H February 3, 2014 at 12:37 pm - Reply

    Oh dear. Predictable response from my anti-gay rights Tory MP…

    Thank you for your email regarding the Deregulation Bill.

    I have noted your views.

    Yours sincerely

    David Evennett MP
    Member of Parliament for Bexleyheath and Crayford
    Lord Commissioner of HM Treasury

    • Caroline February 6, 2014 at 3:08 am - Reply

      Dear Tim, Please reply to him, and say that you actually
      wrote for ‘his’ views on the subject. Don’t accept that answer
      ‘I have noted your views’ If you ask him if he would kindly
      state his views, it would be interesting to know what he says..

  17. Jonathan Wilson February 3, 2014 at 12:58 pm - Reply

    I’m curious, isn’t IDS already trying to apply a SI (3rd March) according to the latest speye post to strike down the 1996 test and therefore circumvent the whole debate/vote issue or have I misunderstood something and it will in fact be debated in both chambers?

    Or, the cynical in me, is he hoping this act will be passed so he no longer needs to use the standard systems to change anything anytime that he has a beleif that it gets in his way.

    • Mike Sivier February 3, 2014 at 1:18 pm - Reply

      From Parliament’s website, http://www.parliament.uk:

      “Statutory Instruments, also known as SIs, are a form of legislation which allow the provisions of an Act of Parliament to be subsequently brought into force or altered without Parliament having to pass a new Act. They are also referred to as secondary, delegated or subordinate legislation.

      “Acts of Parliament confer powers on Ministers to make more detailed orders, rules or regulations by means of statutory instruments. An Act will often contain a broad framework and statutory instruments are used to provide the necessary detail that would be too complex to include in the Act itself.

      “Statutory instruments can also be used to amend, update or enforce existing primary legislation.”

      He’ll be amending existing primary legislation and so he won’t have to go through a debate/vote – or at least, that’s my understanding of it.

    • Athene Noctua February 4, 2014 at 3:21 pm - Reply

      I know where *I’D* like to insert a ‘statutory instrument’…

  18. seachranaidhe1 February 3, 2014 at 2:26 pm - Reply

    Reblogged this on seachranaidhe1.

  19. Paul Smyth February 3, 2014 at 9:48 pm - Reply

    Reblogged this on The Greater Fool.

  20. Beeb February 17, 2014 at 8:09 pm - Reply

    Ok, I found the parts about revoking passed laws etc, but can someone explain what the hell the ‘pigstye’ clause in this bill has to do with journalists protecting their sources???

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