Surveillance Society

Chris Grayling, the Shadow Home Secretary, writes:

Good Government is about achieving a sensible balance. We need to protect our society against those who would destroy it. But if we throw away the founding principles of a democratic state to do so, then we are doing the terrorists work for them. So I think that whenever we look at security issues, and potential new weapons for the fight against terror, we should ask one simple question – will this improve the protection of our citizens without undermining our core freedoms? Too often this Government has failed to find the right balance. Indeed, they seem to have lost any sense of proportion about the things that they are doing. The terrorist threat has become an excuse for introducing draconian new powers, and those powers have developed mission creep which means that the intrusion of the state seems to be spreading across our society.

We will seek to restore that balance.

So we will continue with the introduction of biometric passports – but we will scrap the compulsory ID cards that this Government seems to determined to pursue.

We will retain the electronic systems that will record who enters and leaves our country – but we will end the situation where the Government plans to store full details of the holidays, companions and payment details of every citizen for a decade.

We will end the mission creep for anti-terror laws, and limit the use of surveillance powers to the investigation of serious crimes. There is no place for the use of intercept evidence in council tax enforcement.

And there will be no giant big brother databases established under a Conservative Government.

It really is time for a change.