How an Englishman's home ceased to be his castle under Labour
There are more than 1,000 laws and regulations which permit officials to force entry into homes, cars and business premises, a report commissioned by Gordon Brown has found.
The publication of the first comprehensive list of laws available to police, council staff and other inspectors will renew concerns about the erosion of civil liberties.
The dossier, compiled by Lord West, the Home Office minister and former first sea lord, details the often obscure acts and regulations which give the authorities the power to break into homes.
Hundreds of new powers of entry have been created since 1997, including ones relating to illegal gambling, congestion charging, high hedges and weapons of mass destruction.
West’s report details 753 separate “big brother” provisions in acts of parliament and a further 290 minor regulations. A total of 430 of these powers have been approved by parliament since Labour came to power.
that great principle of English law, the 'inviolability of the dwelling house'.
The right dates back to 1604, the year that Shakespeare presented Othello to James I and his court and a man named Semayne complained that his home had been broken into and his assets seized by the sheriff. The judgment that followed declared: 'The house of every one is his castle.' It went on to say that if a door is open, a sheriff may enter but that 'it is not lawful for the sheriff, on request made and denial, at the suit of a common person to break the defendant's house.'
Those words are as moving to me as any in Othello because they establish an essential part of English culture: that the home is fundamental to the individual's right to privacy. As one 18th-century commentator put it: 'The law of England has so particular and tender a regard to the immunity of a man's house, that it stiles [sic] it his castle, and will never suffer it to be violated with impunity. For this reason, no doors can in general be broken open to execute any civil process; though, in criminal cases, the public safety supersedes the private.'
This 400-year-old principle has been chucked over by Blair with the familiar combination of stealth and a witless lack of respect for what has gone before. Now your home, like your DNA, fingerprints, image and movements, becomes part of the state's province.
— Regulations to prevent the spread of avian flu
— The London congestion charge – the cars of nonpayers can be entered
— The energy rating of refrigerators for sale in electrical shops