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Protection of Freedoms Bill

Part of Resource Extraction (Transparency and Reporting) – in the House of Commons at 7:57 pm on 1st March 2011.

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Photo of Tom Brake Tom Brake Liberal Democrat, Carshalton and Wallington 7:57 pm, 1st March 2011

It is a pleasure to follow Jim Shannon, who made a sensible and measured contribution, as have other hon. Members. Mr Straw made a fair assessment of what the previous Government had done. They improved some aspects of civil liberties through the Freedom of Information Act, but he also recognised that some measures had been extremely counter-productive. In any scenario in which a Government, over the course of their lifetime, introduce an extra 3,500 offences, there will inevitably be problems with how the police interpret and apply the rules.

Let me give just one example of how some of the powers introduced by the previous Government have been used in an unfortunate way. The example was given to me by a very good friend of mine who now sits in the other place, and whose son-in-law, who is black and from America, has stopped coming to the UK with his son, because every time he went out in London, irrespective of where he was going, he was guaranteed to be stopped by the police under stop-and-search powers. He did not want to have to explain to his son why his dad was being stopped every time they went out.