David Davis: what he said


Taken from the BBC video here. Any errors and omissions my own.

I had intended to make this statement in the House of Commons, the appropriate place in my view for something as important as this, but the Speaker ruled that because it revisited controversial issues from yesterday, that that was not appropriate.

So I am going to read you the statement that I was about to make in the House. It will take a couple of minutes.

Before I start, the name of my constituency is Haltemprice and Howden. Haltemprice is derived from a mediaeval proverb meaning “noble endeavour”. Up until yesterday, I took the view that what we did in the House of Commons representing our Constituents was a noble endeavour, because like centuries of forbears, 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 the 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 citizens for up to 6 weeks without charge.

Now the Counter Terrorism Bill will in all probability be rejected by the House of Lords very firmly, after all, what are they 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 overrule the Lords.

Now, they have no democratic mandate to do this, since 42 days was not in their manifesto. Its legal basis is uncertain to say the least, but purely for political reasons, this Government is going to do that.

And because the generic security arguments relied upon will never go away – technology, developing 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. Now we will have shortly, the most intrusive identity card system in the World. A CCTV camera for every 14 citizens. A DNA database bigger than any dictatorship has, with thousands of innocent children and a million innocent citizens on it.

We have witnessed an assault on jury trials, that bulwark against bad law and its arbitrary abuse by the State. Shortcuts with our justice system that make it neither firm nor fair. The creation of database state, opening up our private lives to the eyes of official snoopers, 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 scott free.

This cannot go on. It must be stopped. And for that reason, today, I feel it is incumbent upon me to take a stand. I will be resigning my membership of this House and I intend to force a by election in Haltemprice and Howden.

Now I will 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 the Government.

Now, that may mean I have made my last speech to the House. It’s possible. And of course that would be a cause of deep regret to me, but at least my electorate and the nation as a whole will 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 we passed yesterday will not stand.

Someone at the BBC described this speech as “a most bizarre statement”. Nick Robinson keeps harping on about personal positioning. This is what the BBC has come to: portraying politics as value-free.

No wonder the Nation is disillusioned.

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