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Government keeps vast council snooping powers

Despite the constraints of coalition in many areas the Conservatives have delivered on areas where the civil service might have been expected to be obstructive. But the promise to curtail powers of entry by the state into our homes has not been kept. Far from slashing the 1,400 different grounds under which council staff can enter your home without a warrant, the Government have added 20 more.

The Lords have proposed an amendment to the Protection of Freedoms Bill which would have greatly reduced this list. But the Home Office Minister James Brokenshire rejects this and says instead there will be a "review." Sir Humphrey seems to have him well trained.

This should be an important issue for the Conservatives who regard, as Margaret Thatcher put it, "the state as servant not master." One would hope that there would be a few liberals in the Liberal Democrats who would also be concerned about it.

Nick Pickles, director Big Brother Watch, said:

“It is beyond belief that a Conservative Home Office Minister is so blatantly trying launch this issue into the long grass.

“Two years of hand wringing will not change the fact that there are already more than 1,000 laws that give public officials the rights to enter our homes without a warrant. We do not need a consultation to decide that suspecting unregulated hypnotism is going on or extreme comics are being read should not give officials the right to barge into our homes.

“In opposition the Conservatives pledged that apart from the police and emergency services, public bodies would require a magistrates warrant to enter a home. The Home Office may have had a change of ministers, but it seems little else has changed and the general public are left high and dry, at the mercy of an army of pen-pushers who can enter our homes as they please.”

Jacob Rees-Mogg, the Conservative MP for North East Somerset, says:

"If an egg inspector turned up at your front door you would turn him away, but people don’t know there are penalties for refusing entry that they may be caught out by.

"Because of administrative convenience, important civil liberties have been eroded.

"The Government has a chance to put them back, and the  more pressure they come under the better."

Go Jake!


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