BBC: June 12, 2008
UK Shadow Home Secretary David Davis resigns to defend British liberties!
‘”In truth, 42 days [detention without trial] is just one – perhaps the most salient example – of the insidious, surreptitious and relentless erosion of fundamental British freedoms.”
‘He listed the growth of the “database state,” government “snooping” ID cards, the erosion of jury trials and other issues.
‘”This cannot go on. It must be stopped and for that reason today I feel it is incumbent on me to make a stand,” said Mr Davis.’
Video and Audio
The name of my constituency is Haltemprice and Howden. The word Haltemprice is derived from the motto of a medieval priory, and in Old French it means “Noble Endeavour”.
I had always viewed membership of this House as a noble endeavour, not least because we and our forebears have for centuries fiercely defended the fundamental freedoms of our citizens. Or we did, up until yesterday.
Up until yesterday, I took the view that what we did in the House of Commons representing our constituents was a noble endeavour because with centuries or forebears we defended the freedoms of the British people. Well we did up until yesterday.
This Sunday is the anniversary of Magna Carta – the document that guarantees that most fundamental of British freedoms – Habeus Corpus.
The right not to be imprisoned by the state without charge or reason. Yesterday this house decided to allow the state to lock up potentially innocent British citizens for up to six weeks without charge.
Now the counter terrorism bill will in all probability be rejected by the House of Lords very firmly. After all, what should they be there for if not to defend Magna Carta.
But because the impetus behind this is essentially political – not security – the government will be tempted to use the Parliament Act to over-rule the Lords. It has no democratic mandate to do this since 42 days was not in its manifesto.
Its legal basis is uncertain to say the least. But purely for political reasons, this government’s going to do that. And because the generic security arguments relied on will never go away – technology, development and complexity and so on, we’ll next see 56 days, 70 days, 90 days.
But in truth, 42 days is just one – perhaps the most salient example – of the insidious, surreptitious and relentless erosion of fundamental British freedoms.
And we will have shortly, the most intrusive identity card system in the world.
A CCTV camera for every 14 citiziens, a DNA database bigger than any dictatorship has, with 1000s of innocent children and a million innocent citizens on it.
We have witnessed an assault on jury trials – that balwark against bad law and its arbitrary use by the state. Short cuts with our justice system that make our system neither firm not fair.
And the creation of a database state opening up our private lives to the prying eyes of official snoopers and exposing our personal data to careless civil servants and criminal hackers.
The state has security powers to clamp down on peaceful protest and so-called hate laws that stifle legitimate debate – while those who incite violence get off Scot free.
This cannot go on, it must be stopped.
And for that reason, I feel that today it’s incumbent on me to take a stand.
I will be resigning my membership of the House and I intend to force a by-election in Haltemprice and Howden.
Now I’ll not fight it on the government’s general record – there’s no point repeating Crewe and Nantwich. I won’t fight it on my personal record. I am just a piece in this great chess game.
I will fight it, I will argue this by-election, against the slow strangulation of fundamental British freedoms by this government.
Now, that may mean I’ve made my last speech to the House – it’s possible. And of course that would be a matter of deep regret to me. But at least my electorate, and the nation as a whole, would have had the opportunity to debate and consider one of the most fundamental issues of our day – the ever-intrusive power of the state into our lives, the loss of privacy, the loss of freedom and the steady attrition undermining the rule of law.
And if they do send me back here it will be with a single, simple message: that the monstrosity of a law that we passed yesterday will not stand.
June 13th, 2008