HL Deb 29 November 2004 vol 667 cc270-81

3.9 p.m.

Debate resumed on the Motion moved on Tuesday last by the Baroness Lockwood—namely, That an humble Address be presented to Her Majesty as follows:

"Most Gracious Sovereign—We, Your Majesty's most dutiful and loyal subjects, the Lords Spiritual and Temporal in Parliament assembled, beg leave to thank Your Majesty for the most gracious Speech which Your Majesty has addressed to both Houses of Parliament".

Baroness Scotland of Asthal

My Lords, I am grateful for this opportunity to explain next year's proposed home and constitutional affairs legislative programme, and to put it into the context of the Government's wider reform agenda.

The measures we are proposing for the coming fourth Session build on those we introduced in the past seven years. They are there to provide the nation with a modern legal and constitutional framework fitted to the 21st century, to protect us from existing and new threats at home and abroad, and to provide safeguards for the law-abiding citizen.

This is not a message of doom and gloom. We have many things to be proud of. The Criminal Justice Act 2003 and the Courts Act 2003 have transformed our criminal justice system. All parts of the system now work more effectively together. We have halved the time it takes to deal with young offenders and introduced more effective community sentences. The British Crime Survey shows rising public confidence in the criminal justice system.

We have moved away from a silo-based system to one where partnership is the key element. Across government we work more closely together, and at local level the local criminal justice boards and crime and disorder reduction partnerships are driving forward change, providing a flexible response to meet public need.

Partnership and reform are the watchwords of our legislative programme for this Session. We are consolidating our achievements and adding extra powers where they are needed: adding value to what we have achieved already. All those aspects are key features of our charities, courts and tribunals, drugs and management of offenders Bills.

The charitable sector in this country is one of our greatest assets. More than a quarter of a million charities are active across every area of our national life, helping to transform the lives of citizens and to revive communities. The Government believe unequivocally that a flourishing, independent charitable sector is essential for the health of our democracy.

The charities Bill will ensure that the framework of charity law within which charities operate allows them to realise their full potential and to sustain the high level of public confidence that they enjoy. The Bill's measures have been the subject of extensive consultation with charities and are strongly supported by them. The National Council for Voluntary Organisations has described the Bill as a vital opportunity to modernise charity law and make the necessary changes that the sector wants and needs.

The courts and tribunals Bill will be published as a draft Bill in the coming Session to bring improvements to enforcement and to help responsible creditors who are owed money to have recompense, while at the same time protecting debtors from oppressive pursuit of their debts. By unifying tribunals in a single body and creating a senior president post, we will be giving clear leadership and a single voice to tribunals, and the Bill contains measures aimed at improving the service that tribunals provide to the public.

Our drugs Bill will build on the work that we have done across government to increase the number of drug misusers entering treatment—54 per cent more last year than in 1998–99, according to the National Treatment Agency. We have invested unprecedented resources to tackle the harm that illegal drug use, particularly that of class A drugs, has on individuals, families and communities. The Bill will provide further powers for the police to take tough action against drug dealers and powers to get more of those who commit crime to feed their drug addiction into treatment and away from a life of crime.

Our reforms to the criminal justice system are already changing the way in which we deal with offenders and providing them with more opportunities to turn around their lives. Last year, for example, nearly 50,000 basic skills awards were made to prisoners and 8,500 offenders were placed on drug treatment and testing orders in the community.

Our management of offenders Bill will contribute to the reduction of reoffending by underpinning development of the new national offender management service, known as NOMS. Improvements to sentencing made in the Criminal Justice Act 2003 will be extended by further non-custodial options for the courts in the form of a day fines scheme, and powers to make greater use of modern technology to supervise offenders.

Reform of the constitution is vital if we are to have judicial and democratic institutions that meet the needs of our age. We have been heartened by the large measure of agreement between us, the Lord Chief Justice and the judiciary on important areas of constitutional reform.

The concordat that has been agreed on how measures in the Constitutional Reform Bill will operate in practice is without precedent. We will be continuing with that Bill, which will clarify the relationship between the executive and the judiciary, create a Supreme Court as a beacon of excellence and independence, and provide a modern and transparent means of appointing judges. I echo what the noble and learned Lords, Lord Bingham, Lord Styen, Lord Saville and Lord Walker, said in evidence to the Select Committee earlier this year: that the separation of the judiciary at all levels from the legislature and the executive should be a cardinal feature of any modern, democratic state governed by the rule of law.

Further improvements to our justice system will be made through three Bills. The Serious Organised Crime and Police Bill, which was introduced in the Commons last week, builds on progress in reforming the criminal justice system. Police officer numbers are now at record levels and crime has fallen by 30 per cent since 1997, but we recognise that there is still work to be done, especially in fighting organised crime. The SOCAP Bill will establish the serious organised crime agency and through an overhaul of police powers will radically improve the ability of the police, community support officers and their support staff to work together to fight crime and anti-social behaviour.

The criminal defence service Bill, which was published as a draft Bill in the third Session, will be introduced shortly as a formal Bill. It will transfer responsibility for granting legal representation from the courts to the Legal Services Commission, created under our Access to Justice Act 1999, and will reintroduce a test of financial eligibility for legal aid, ensuring that funds are targeted on the most worthy and important cases.

The nation's youth are our future and it is vital that we take the best steps possible to deal with those who have started offending. The draft youth justice Bill builds on the reforms that we have made to the youth justice system, such as the setting up of the Youth Justice Board and the introduction of more effective community-based sentences for young offenders. The Bill follows full consultation through our policy paper Youth Justice - the Next Steps. It will clarify the main purpose of juvenile sentencing as the prevention of offending and provide a more effective, simplified structure of sentences, with strong alternatives to a custodial sentence.

Our focus is on the law-abiding citizen. We have done a great deal to prevent our freedoms being exploited by terrorists and organised criminals and our citizens becoming the victims of crime. Further to our recent consultation on counter-terrorism provisions, we intend to set out our response and proposals for the way forward on those next year.

Our Identity Cards Bill, which is being introduced to the Commons today, will protect our citizens from identity fraud, deter fraudulent entry to the country and illegal working, and help in the fight against organised crime and terrorism. Identity fraud costs the economy £1.3 billion a year. In London, as many as one in five people has been the victim of identity fraud.

Public support for ID cards remains high at about 80 per cent. We have consulted widely on the principle, starting in 2002 and again on the draft legislation published in April 2004. Safeguards for the protection of privacy and against the misuse of information have been built in. For example, any provision of data without consent, other than in the limited circumstances set out in the Bill, would have to be subject to parliamentary approval. Our liberties will be strengthened if we are able to protect our own identity and use identity cards to access the public services to which we are entitled.

I want to mention some key protections for the individual that our proposals for this Session will introduce. We will publish a draft Bill on corporate manslaughter. The Government take the issue of corporate killing very seriously and are committed to reforming the law. This is an area of' law that involves complex questions, and we have been careful in considering the options. We propose in December to come forward with a draft Bill that will offer a more effective sanction for holding companies and other organisations to account where they have paid little or no proper regard to the safety of their workers or the public.

Our Inquiries Bill, published last week, will modernise the framework for conducting statutory inquiries, set up by Ministers, into events that cause public concern. That is long overdue reform. It will bring the clarity of a single statutory framework, making it suitable for any future inquiry. The Bill will clarify the respective roles of the Minister commissioning the inquiry and the chair of the inquiry. It will help inquiries to deliver their conclusions and recommendations in a reasonable time and at a reasonable cost.

Finally, but not least, the Mental Capacity Bill is a vital measure for some of those in society who may not be able to make decisions for themselves, and for their carers. This carry-over Bill will be reintroduced so that we can protect, empower and support people who lack mental capacity. I wish to make it explicit to the House that the Bill has nothing whatever to do with the wider debate about euthanasia, as some have tried to suggest. It is about giving vulnerable people who cannot make their own decisions the benefits and protection that new legislation can bring. They have waited long enough.

The legislative proposals that I have outlined today are vital if we are to achieve our goal of a safer and more secure nation. They build on past progress and lay the framework for further reform and modernisation. There are other reforming Bills in the gracious Speech, such as the draft Civil Service Bill and the Transport (Wales) Bill, which will give the Assembly the powers that it needs to take forward integrated transport.

I hope that the House will join with us over the coming Session to enact these measures and build the trust and confidence of individuals, communities and society in a better future. I am confident that we will have much work to do, and I hope that my 13 minutes will be an example for brevity.

3.23 p.m.

Baroness Anelay of St Johns

My Lords, as ever, I thank the noble Baroness, Lady Scotland, for presenting the Government's position so clearly, even though the past seven years look a rather murky past. I look forward to the two maiden speeches, in particular that of my geographical neighbour, the noble Lord, Lord Gould of Brookwood, although of course he may continue to be a political opponent in this House.

Voters could be forgiven for thinking that this was less the Queen's Speech and more the Home Secretary's speech. Last week he said that it sets the stage for the next general election. He has launched at us a veritable blizzard of Home Office Bills—nine, including three draft Bills. It feels that, yet again, we are stuck in groundhog day—the ever-repeating day that one cannot escape—facing the same torrent of Home Office and DCA Bills. Session after Session, there is the same unwillingness to think through changes before forcing them through another place by guillotine and timetabling Motions. The Government then find that they need to make radical changes to the Bill when it ends up here. So what hope is there for the raft of significant Bills that will start in another place and end up here too late for us to give them proper scrutiny, if the Government do what they told the Sun they will do; that is to say, call the election for 5 May?

Today I shall try to follow the noble Baroness's one good example—keeping to 13 minutes—and bounce through this huge panapoly of Bills in that time. I will refer to some of the Home Office Bills; I would certainly go well beyond 13, 15 or 30 minutes if I tried to deal with all of them. My noble friend Lord Kingsland will comment on the DCA Bills in his speech. I note that the noble Baroness referred to the Mental Capacity Bill, which the Government are treating as a DCA Bill. I give notice that, on these Benches, we will be led on that by the noble Earl, Lord Howe. He will therefore speak to it when he opens the debate on the Address tomorrow.

The noble Baroness hopes that we will welcome the Bills. I am wary of welcoming Home Office Bills, even when they look tempting, because it is a case of once bitten twice shy—at least I have mosquito bites all over me. I had a habit of trying to welcome Bills that appear to do what we think we want, only to find when they go through this House that they are like a dumping ground for the Government to add in other unwelcome proposals. That happened with the Domestic Violence, Crime and Victims Act this year.

So far, we have seen the text of only one of the blizzard of Bills: the Serious Organised Crime and Police Bill. Tentatively, waiting to be bitten back, I offer it a wary welcome. It would be difficult not to welcome it, because it was our idea first—in playground language, we got there first. We welcome the Government's adoption of the idea. We have some concerns about the Government's composition of the agency, but, overall, it should be a valuable weapon in the fight against serious crime in the modern world.

The Bill does much more than create the agency, although that would be enough; it is a full crime and policing Bill. It will overhaul police powers, extend the powers of community support officers, introduce an offence of trespassing on designated sites, and clamp down on the activities of animal rights activists—which I would certainly welcome. At the weekend, when I looked at the Bill's provisions on trespass and animal rights activists, I wondered whether some of the new powers could also be used by the Government to prevent opponents of the Hunting Act demonstrating outside Ministers' houses or government buildings during the general election. It will be intersting to see how that develops.

Demands placed on police officers have grown considerably in recent years. One of our greatest concerns has been the use of community support officers, a concern shared by the Police Federation. The Govermment appear to use them as cheaper alternatives to provide more visible policing. Often they have only three weeks' training. So what do we see in the elegantly named SOCAP Bill? A considerable extension of the powers and role of CSOs. Jan Berry, the leader of the Police Federation, said last week: This dramatically changes the role of CSOs. By giving them more powers we are effectively taking them away from the communities they are there to serve. It also begs the question 'What is the difference between a CSO and a police officer?' So, while we will support elements of the Bill, we shall need to subject it to thorough and constructive scrutiny.

Identity cards are a subject that I know will arouse strong feelings from noble Lords on all sides of the House. Before 9/11, I for one would not have countenanced them; after 9/11, I must accept that we should at least consider them. But nobody should claim that they are a panacea for all ills. They did not stop the terrorist attack in Madrid; they are far from foolproof; nor are they a substitute for the practical and sensible actions that the Government should be taking now to reduce the terrorist threat. If ID cards are introduced at all, they would not take effect for many years yet.

We have set out five tests that the legislation must meet before we can offer our unqualified support. First, the legislation must clearly define the remit of the cards, which should be very closely drawn. Secondly, the Government must prove that they would be effective. We are all aware that the technology required to make the system work is highly complicated and still in development. Thirdly, can we really trust this Government to make them work? We have already seen the spectacular failures of the Criminal Records Bureau, the Child Support Agency and, last week, the computer systems at the Department for Work and Pensions. Fourthly, is the estimated £3.5 billion cost of ID cards really the most effective way to tackle these problems? That was only the first level of cost. We know that, so far as concerns biometrics, the cost will be far greater. Last—and, by no means, least—there are concerns about the threat to our civil liberties, although that matter has not, as yet, seemed to be of much interest to the present Home Secretary.

Whether one supports or opposes the introduction of ID cards, it will mark an historic shift for peacetime in the relationship between the British citizen and the state. It must not be undertaken lightly, and the Bill must be given careful scrutiny.

As the noble Baroness said, the Bill will be published today, after the conclusion of Statements in another place at about 5 o'clock or 5.30. We will not have sight of it, so I would be grateful if the noble Baroness, Lady Ashton of Upholland, could, in responding to the debate, explain why the Government released a copy in advance of publication to the Times, to the journalist Mr Peter Riddell, who wrote about it with such detailed knowledge in today's newspaper, even down to the contents of Clause 15.

The Government have given notice that two Bills will start in this House after Christmas. The first is the management of offenders Bill. We have already made our position on it clear. Merging probation and prison services will be a mammoth task. Handled well, it could be a great move forward for the justice system, but, so far, the Government have handled it badly and have created insecurity and uncertainty. When the Government publish their proposals, I shall listen carefully to the views of the Prison Service and the probation service.

What else will be in the Bill? The noble Baroness told us today that we could look forward to some more of the forms of disposal that were started in the Criminal Justice Act 2003; namely, non-custodial sentences. I wonder whether the Government are wise to press ahead so soon on further early release, given the leaked report in the Mirror today, which shows that, on the Government's own figures, the system is failing. A significant number of people are reoffending and committing serious offences.

The second Bill to start here will be the charities Bill. Like the noble Baroness, I recognise that the voluntary sector is looking forward to reform of the law. There is a clear need for it. The current system is complex, outdated and confusing—to me, let alone those who have not had to deal with it yet. If the Bill simply seeks to strengthen the charitable sector, the Government will have our support. If, however, the Government use the Bill to attack the providers of private education, the Bill will become controversial. In any event, it will need thorough scrutiny. That is my mantra.

There are one or two disappointments. The first relates to the draft anti-terrorism Bill. We are concerned that the Home Secretary has forced other business into the parliamentary timetable, yet found no time for that important measure. The Government warn us of the continued threat from terrorism. There are many practical measures that the Government could take now, for example by legislating to allow evidence gained from intercepts to be used in court. That was recommended by the Newton review nine months ago, but still there has been no action.

I welcome the contribution made to the debate by the Director of Public Prosecutions in the Sunday Times yesterday. He said: We do not want to fight terrorism by destroying precisely those things terrorism is trying to take from us. Open liberal democracies fail if they try to protect themselves by becoming illiberal, closed and oppressive". His conclusion was that dangerous times needed jury trials. How right he is.

I am pleased to see that my noble friend Lord Newton of Braintree is in his place. I look forward to his contribution, when, I am sure, he will speak as ever on such matters in a non-partisan way, as chairman of the committee.

The vast package of home affairs and legal affairs legislation has been presented by the noble Baroness as building on the Government's past successes. It is a recognition of the Government's failures in their stewardship of the criminal justice system over the past seven years. The Government have changed the methods by which crime is measured—I do not object to that—but we know that recorded violent crime is up by 83 per cent since 1998. It hit the 1 million mark for the first time last year. In addition, the number of firearms offences has risen every year since 1997. In fact, gun crime has doubled. In 1997, there were 12,410 crimes recorded involving a firearm; in 2002–03, that figure had risen to 24,070. Those are the Home Office's figures.

We can bandy figures until the end of the day. The one objective that we should all have, beyond anything to do with statistics, is ensuring that our communities are secure. If the Home Office is serious about its legislative programme, it will make sure that there is time for proper and constructive scrutiny by this House. All the signs are that that may not happen. I give this undertaking: Her Majesty's Loyal Opposition will, as always, work constructively and patiently to achieve the right result for our country.

3.35 p.m.

Lord Dholakia

My Lords, I am delighted to respond to Her Majesty's gracious Speech from this part of your Lordships' House. I thank the Minister for her introductory speech. I shall concentrate on home affairs, and I must say straightaway that it is refreshing to be back on the Front Bench. It seems that not much has changed in the short time that I have been away on other duties.

The long list of Home Office-related Bills and draft Bills set out in the Queen's Speech includes some welcome and genuinely useful measures to reduce crime and reoffending, alongside other measures that reveal the Government's blind spot with regard to the importance of maintaining civil liberties. It is unfortunate that the Government have chosen to waste parliamentary time by introducing a long series of measures, most of which have little chance of making the statute book, if there is to be a May general election. It would have been preferable to concentrate the available parliamentary time on a smaller number of useful measures that could gain all-party support.

The political debates of the past few weeks are a good indication that the Government still have an insatiable appetite for prescribing instant solutions to crime and problems in dealing with offenders. There is serious concern among our judiciary that previous legislation passed by the Government has not had a chance to bed down. There is still inadequate research about the impact of legislation previously enacted. The question that we must pose is why, if the Government's strategy is working, we now have the highest recorded prison population for men, women and children.

We have now the eighth annual programme of legislation. On every previous occasion, we were told that the relevant measures would be effective in tackling crime and criminality. Yet, we get more and more of the same every year. That may make the voters feel that the Home Office is tackling public concerns. However, it is obvious that many of the previous legislative measures have simply not worked. I am afraid that we may be looking for easy solutions to complex social problems.

Crime and criminality have a lot to do with social exclusion, which is often reflected by factors such as unemployment, discrimination, poor skills, poor education, poor housing, high crime, family breakdown and poor mental and physical health. Those of us who have sat in the magistrates' courts have identified those factors in the reports that we have received.

We have to accept that these are challenging times for our criminal justice system. The Government's commitment to make law and order a primary plank in their political platform for this Session of Parliament is bound to raise the profile of our criminal justice system still further. If we are to meet the challenges, we need to think innovatively about the means to secure the highest standards of efficiency, coherence and accountability, while protecting the essential values of fairness, discretion and independence.

It is even more important to ensure that, by enacting legislation, we are not sacrificing the rights and liberties of our citizens. Is it not a shame that our country, renowned for its judiciary and its laws, is being criticised by the United Nations for the way in which detainees in Belmarsh are being dealt with?

Our judicial system is the envy of the world. It is at the heart of our democracy. It is followed by many emerging and developing countries. What messages are we giving to them? Plans to put terrorist suspects on trial without a jury abandon the fundamental principles of the justice system. Moreover, it undermines public confidence in it. Those are not my words, but the words of the Government's chief prosecutor.

My noble friend Lady Williams of Crosby and I visited the Human Rights Commission in India last week. That country has known what terrorism is all about. Yet, its chairman was adamant that rights and liberties would not be sacrificed in dealing with terrorism and the threat of terrorism.

Some government measures reflect posturing rather than policy; for example, the completely otiose plan to make it an aggravating factor in sentencing for drug dealers to use children as couriers or to sell drugs outside schools. I do not know any court that would fail to regard those things as aggravating factors. Legislating to do something that invariably happens already may make good election-related headlines, but it is difficult to regard it as serious policy making.

There are other measures for which no adequate explanation is available. We are told that identity cards are essential in tackling terrorism and illegal immigration. That is how the debate started. But in July 2000 David Blunkett said that, it is important that we do not pretend that an [ID] card would be an overwhelming factor in combating international terrorism".—[Official Report, Commons, 3/7/02; col. 231.] He continued: I have not made such claims, including ruling out their substantial contribution to countering terrorism".—[Official Report, Commons, 3/7/02; col. 236.] Then there is an about turn by David Blunkett. In summer 2004, he said that an ID card would make a significant contribution to tackling terrorism.

It will do nothing of the sort. We are opposed to compulsory identity cards. The scheme is likely to become yet another expensive government ID failure because it relies on untested new technology. It is unlikely to achieve its stated objectives of tackling illegal immigration, terrorism and fraud.

There is a serious risk that it will lead to further discrimination against ethnic minorities who are already being disproportionately targeted under terrorism and illegal immigration operations. The impact of stop-and-search procedures on our Muslim community has been disproportionate. The cost is likely to be in excess of £3 billion, yet there has been no proper analysis of its cost-effectiveness.

Did the public know about the costing and its effectiveness when questions were put asking for their support? The savings made from not proceeding with the scheme would be better spent on more police on our streets. We have been warned by the chief police officers that they are facing a £350 million shortfall for fighting crime next year.

However, all in the Queen's Speech is not bad. First, I shall refer to a number of worthwhile measures which deserve, and will receive, our support. Legislation to outlaw incitement to religious hatred is welcome. There is no logic in a position where inciting hatred against a minority group because they are black or Asian is an offence, but inciting hatred against them because they are Muslims is not. Although the offence will protect members of all religious faiths, it is particularly important at a time of increasing Islamophobia.

There are serious issues to be discussed and addressed. I shall be delighted to offer the help of my noble friend Lord Lester of Herne Hill to take that matter further. A measure likely to be promoted by the DTI about a draft corporate manslaughter Bill will obviously be dealt with by my noble friend Lord Goodhart.

I welcome the proposed youth justice Bill, which will contain greater restrictions on the use of custody and measures to increase the credibility of community sentences for young offenders. The proposal to restrict detention and training orders to young people who have previously received an intensive supervision and surveillance programme is particularly welcome.

I must declare an interest as president of NACRO, which runs some excellent intensive supervision and surveillance programmes. These programmes are keeping some prolific young offenders—for whom other community sentences and short custodial sentences have failed—away from further crime through intensive education and mentoring, combined with restrictions enforced by electronic monitoring. It cannot be right to send a young person into custody before a programme such as that has been tried.

There must also be a clear recognition that faced with the highest ever prison population we must have the courage to explore tough but effective community alternatives. It is right that the intensive community sentences that have been shown to work with under-18s should be extended to older age groups. Strict supervision in the community is not a soft option for many offenders. A well executed rehabilitation programme involving mentors and specially designed courses can put order back in a young life and help to reduce crime in the community.

We also strongly support much of the Government's drug strategy that will form the content of the drugs Bill. In particular, we strongly support measures to increase the number of drug-addicted offenders who receive drug rehabilitation and treatment programmes. According to recent research by South Bank University, those programmes reduce the number of crimes committed by offenders who enter treatment by around 70 per cent. That is a phenomenal reduction in the number of burglaries, thefts, street robberies and offences of selling drugs carried out by such offenders to feed their habits.

We remain unconvinced of the need to move to a single correctional service at this stage. There are strong arguments for better co-ordination between the Prison Service and the probation service, especially in the light of the new custody plus sentences due to start in 2006, which comprise of a period of custody followed by a longer period under supervision in the community. However, the plans for NOMS are vague, poorly thought out and threaten to put more pressure on the probation service, which is already in a state of crisis.

We have set out our "payback not layback" proposals which aim to keep non-violent offenders out of prison wherever possible, giving them tough community sentences instead. Properly implemented, community sentences can seriously challenge offending behaviour, making offenders repay their victims and meet the needs of the community that they have harmed. That is a visibly tougher sentencing option than prison.

However, the new service stands a realistic chance of achieving its aims only if it is properly resourced, introduced in a way that engages the support of members of both services and makes maximum use of partnerships with voluntary agencies.

So far I have referred to measures that have some merit, at least in principle. Unfortunately, too many measures in the Queen's Speech do not have merit because they disproportionately affect and attack civil liberties. The extension of powers of arrest to all suspected offences, however minor, is a breathtakingly disproportionate approach that fails to maintain any reasonable balance between the rights of citizens and the powers of the police. The Government assure us that in practice those powers will not be misused.

But all our experience shows that powers of a very wide discretionary nature can sometimes be abused by over-zealous law enforcers. It shows us too that they are often used disproportionately against people from minority ethnic groups.

The Government are also proposing a power to test people compulsorily for drugs on arrest rather than charge. It surely cannot be right to subject people to such an intrusive and invasive procedure before the police have concluded that there is sufficient prima facie evidence to charge them with an offence. I am frankly astonished that the Government cannot see how draconian and unbalanced those approaches seem to many people who strongly support any reasonable measure to tackle crime and deal with offenders more effectively.

In conclusion, there is a danger than an approach based simply on "being tough" is counter productive. We must remember that it is not so much what the law or declaration specifically says as the general underlying attitudes and values it is held to express that are of importance for social well being. Of course, the interests of the law-abiding community have to be protected. But civil rights and civil liberties are an essential element of our judicial system. They sustain our democratic values. We dilute these at our peril.

Back to