Wednesday, 16 September 2009

Conservative 'Devolution Of Power'?

Dominic Grieve, Conservative Shadow Justice Minister, has today unveiled 11 Measures to Protect Personal Privacy and Hold Government to Account.

Whilst time has not permitted a detailed reading of the document, one fact sticks out - and it is one that can hardly be called 'devolving power', nor does it comply with the subject of making Parliament more accountable to those that elect it.

In the Executive Summary the document states:

"Strengthening the audit powers and independence of the Information Commissioner"


"Requiring Privacy Impact Assessments on any proposals for new legislation or other measures that involve data collection or sharing at the earliest opportunity. Require government to consult the Information Commissioner on the PIA and publish his findings."


"Immediately submitting the Home Office's plans for the retention of - and access to - communications data to the Information Commissioneer for pre-legislative scrutiny."

For a party who believes in 'rolling back' the surveillance state to then propose giving what amounts to 'control' of legislation to an unelected and unaccountable bureaucrat would appear odd to say the least.

As Douglas Carswell says on one of his postings today:

"Creative public policy making is about more than establishing quangos charged with delivering certain outcomes. Liberty is not something delivered by a commission. Nor by judges empowered by the ECHR. It is, more subtly, an absence of unchecked, arbitrary power. Preserving our liberties can only be done with any effective legislative check on the powerful. That means shaking up the jobs-for-life system in SW1. It means democratising law -making, not give technocrats vetoes."
One has to ask - have the Conservatives 'thought this through'?

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