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Protection of Freedoms Bill

Part of Resource Extraction (Transparency and Reporting) – in the House of Commons at 7:35 pm on 1st March 2011.

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Photo of Gareth Johnson Gareth Johnson Conservative, Dartford 7:35 pm, 1st March 2011

The hon. Lady makes a good point. The intention of the Bill is not to put off volunteers. I have worked on the governing body of an organisation that assists young children. We all joined in September and submitted our CRB checks at that time, but we did not get the results back until the following June, which highlights the farcical nature of the system. The Bill is about trying to strike a balance; we need to protect children without putting off the volunteers who want to work with them. The Bill is all about trying to find that sensible balance, and I suspect that the debate will largely centre on that today. There will be as many opinions on where that balance should be struck as there are people voicing an opinion. I believe, however, that the Bill gets it about right in balancing our basic right to freedom with protecting us from those who abuse freedom.

The Bill covers many issues but I will concentrate on just three. The first is the retention of DNA. The right hon. Member for Blackburn told the House how he had allowed his fingerprints to be taken to eliminate him from suspicion of committing a crime. That, however, was a choice that he was able to make, as distinct from the circumstances envisaged by the Bill in which people have no choice. Even if he had to face Mr Oddjob when giving his fingerprints, he nevertheless had a choice about doing so for the purposes of elimination.