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Tory pledge to protect homeowners’ from ‘state snoopers’

"Gordon Brown’s pledge to scale back powers of entry was a sham", Spelman said. "His Labour Government has massively extended the powers of the state to invade your home and spy on law-abiding citizens".

This comes amidst growing public concern about unregulated "home invasion" powers

New analysis has revealed that there are now a record 1,242 state powers of entry. The assorted powers date back as far as 1737, yet a massive 587 of the powers have been created by Labour since May 1997.

In October 2007, Gordon Brown pledged to introduce a new liberty test to curtail powers of entry and to "do more to safeguard privacy in the home". Yet a review of powers of entry by Lord West has been kicked into the long grass, the new liberty test has never been introduced, and over 40 new entry powers have been created since October 2007

State inspectors can raid properties to look for pot plants without a ‘plant passport’ (2005 Order); unregulated hypnotists (1952 Act); gambling without a licence (2005 Act); a dancing bear without a permit (1925 Act); if your fridge has the wrong energy rating (2004 Order); to hunt for rabbits (1954 Act); to look for bovine semen (2007 Order); to check your stamp collection for forged stamps (1868 Act); to check how long you are working (1998 Act); to look for German property (1949 Act); and to measure your hedge’s height (2003 Act).

The last incoming Conservative Government cut back powers of entry, after concerns about the number created by Labour. A review demanded by Margaret Thatcher in 1980 revoked 30 powers of entry and scaled back a further 63. That review also called for tougher rules against introducing new powers. Yet such lessons from the past have been disregarded by Labour.

Now the Conservatives plan to again protect the privacy and liberty of homeowners by taking the following actions:

– All powers of entry inside homes by state officials would require a magistrates’ warrant. These restrictions will apply to all quangos, departments and agencies which are not specified law enforcement bodies or emergency services.
– New statutory guidance will stop magistrates giving consent for entering inside a home unless a serious criminal offence was suspected of being committed, or if there was a clear threat to public safety. The provisions would not apply to illegally occupied sites (e.g. squatters, travellers) or to long-term vacant property (e.g. rundown, boarded up properties).
– The powers of the Valuation Office Agency to enter homes for council tax valuations will be abolished outright, as will town hall powers to seize and spy on people’s bins. Labour plans to give bailiffs powers of forced entry into homes to collect civil debts will be revoked.

"A Conservative Government will ban state snoopers and clipboard inspectors from entering people’s homes on a whim", Spelman added.

"We will stand up for people who simply want privacy in their homes and liberty from Labour’s snooper state."

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