Thursday, 12 June 2008

42 is the answer
According to Douglas Adams in The Hitch-Hikers' Guide to the Galaxy the answer to the Ultimate Question of Life, the Universe and Everything is
This number has been causing considerable heat in Parliament recently. I am not in a position to judge whether 28 days is sufficient time for the authorities to carry out their investigative processes or not. However I can certainly say that most of the 'facts' presented for and against the case for extending the period of custody for terrorist suspects were bunkum. About the only thing I heard which made any sense at all was this. We do not know what crises we may have to cope with in the future but the time to prepare for them is before they occur. Legislation introduced in the panic following a disaster is usually another disaster.
In 1997, in the aftermath of the massacre of 16 children at a primary school in Dunblane hand guns were outlawed in Britain. It is almost impossible to establish whether gun crime has increased or decreased since then as by picking and mixing the statistics for shotguns, handguns, airguns and replicas any case can be supported. However the impression I have is that this panic ban has not made a noticeable difference to the illegal use of guns. Some indisputable figures I do find interesting. After the Hungerford shooting in 1987 a gun amnesty yielded 48,000 guns. Following Dunblane a similar amnesty produced 23,000 guns and 700,000 rounds of ammunition In 2003 a further amnesty after the shooting of Letisha Shakespear and her cousin in Birmingham 43,000 guns and over a million rounds of ammunition were handed in..
Although all the argument recently has been about the number 42 this Bill worries me for a more fundamental reason and that has been voiced by David Davis today. Over the past ten years there has been a relentless erosion of our liberty by power mad politicians. I have a vain hope that the announcement by Mr. Davis today will herald the end of this process. One has to have hope.

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