Liberal Democrats would repeal 'illiberal laws'

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Indy Politics

A great Repeal Act should be passed to slice away "a generation of illiberal legislation", Nick Clegg, the Liberal Democrat home affairs spokesman, will declare today.

He will launch a campaign to identify obsolete and unnecessary legislation, pledging that "it is time to take our freedom back".

Mr Clegg will highlight the revelation in The Independent that Labour has created more than 3,000 new criminal offences since it our came to power and insist that the days of kneejerk law-making should come to an end.

Mr Clegg will say that legislation alone cannot be used to combat the threat to Britain from international and domestic terrorism.

He will say: "Fear cannot be quelled by a torrent of panic legislation, by knee-jerk announcements from one home secretary after another, invariably designed to capture headlines, not to safeguard our security. Yet that is exactly what this government has done. Under New Labour the Home Office has been ... the object of relentless legislative hyperactivity, married to dismal administrative incompetence. This is New Labour in a nutshell, all rhetoric, no results."

He will add: "How dare John Reid condemn his officials as 'not fit for purpose' when it is his government's frenzied law-making which has done so much to ... damage the Home Office, erode trust in our criminal justice system and so heighten feelings of fear and insecurity."

Mr Clegg, seen by some as a future party leader, will hit back of critics who claim the party's stance is soft on terrorism and condemn the Government for laws restricting the freedom to protest. He will say: "There is nothing more abhorrent to liberals than the violence that springs from warped fundamentalism ... but we are entitled to ask ministers to have the humility to recognise that nobody has a monopoly on truth.

"You don't fight terrorism, Dr Reid, by stifling debate at home."

At the conference today

* 10.50am Speech by Michael Moore, foreign affairs spokesman.

* 12.25am Nick Clegg, home affairs spokesman.

* 2.45pm Question and answer session with Sir Menzies Campbell, party leader.

* 3.55pm Debate on diversity in the Liberal Democrats.

* 6.15 pm The Independent fringe meeting "How do the Liberal Democrats move closer to power" with Simon Hughes, Nick Clegg, Chris Huhne and Lord Rennard.