back to article Home Office classes openness review a secret

It may be a little early for the silly season, but if last week’s antics by the Home Office and the Daily Mail are anything to go by, it is already upon us. On Tuesday, the Home Office pioneered an interesting new approach to public information, by making a series of review documents available on their website – and leaving …


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  1. Nick Palmer

    Not to be picky...

    ...but Statutory Instruments are laws too; they're delegated legislation, certainly, but they're as enforceable as primary legislation, so for once, the Daily Fail are pretty much on the money if the total of both is about 1,000.

  2. David Harper

    Not just in Sussex

    "That’s good use of blocking software, almost on a par with the direct marketing company that invented its own processes for handling rude words, and rejected all addresses containing the word sex.

    readers in Sussex, Middlesex, etc. will instantly spot the flaw in that algorithm."

    As will readers in Scunthorpe and Cockermouth, not to mention the residents of the village of Twatt in Shetland.

  3. Pete Silver badge

    a cry from the heart.

    Please, please don't quote stuff from the Daily Mail. You're better than that and we don't deserve to be exposed to such stuff.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Brain scanning machines

    I wonder. Once they make a machine to see into the mind of people, how long before NuLabour make a law for any clipboard wielding official to be able to scan people's mind? I'd give it 6 months.

    You don't have security of person, security of correspondence, security of family, the right not to be punished without judicial process, none of this. Well unless you're a rozzer or a politician or a celebrity.

    The saddest part of this is Cameron's policy will be "we need TWICE as many permissions to force entry to a persons home".... since he's so frightened to be seen as weak on crime, he's more easily led than even Brown and he doubles whatever Labour policy is.

    Notice the Met spread papers about a knife that injects freeze liquid... direct to the press. In a few weeks you'll see calls from the MET for more powers to tackle these dangerous things they just told you about, and capitulation from the politicians, who will hand them extra powers.

  5. Ashley Stevens

    ....and Disney

    It's not just the government that are idiots. US corporations can be too!

    I live in Stow-Cum-Quy and the Disney website (I have a 5 year old son) refuses to send me information on holidays because my address contains a banned word (Cum). How dumb is that? It's not like I can change my address!

  6. Dangermouse

    Thats me off for a unscheduled summer holiday then...

    So what the fuck is a "plant passport" and do I need one for the spider plant in the bathroom?

    Gitmo here I come, I guess. Can we have a "hooded man in chains" icon, please?

  7. Martin
    Thumb Up

    Nice to see a story....

    ...about Government data that WAS password protected. A step in the right direction...?

  8. Steve

    Too many laws?

    "At the time, the Prime Minister expressed the view that there might be something like 250 provisions granting right of entry to an individual’s home."

    Let me guess, they're going to ban excessive legislating by making it a new criminal offence.

    With enough caveats and loopholes so that it doesn't affect the government, naturally.

  9. Anonymous Coward

    Undeclared Carbon Dioxide

    "Soon, authorities may also be able to enter your home to inspect for non-human genetic material, for looted cultural property from Iraq and for 'undeclared' carbon dioxide."

    Well excuse me for breathing...

  10. Anonymous Coward

    Undeclared hothouse gases?

    Well, well, they're going for those too now. Oh dear. Alright, it's a fair cop, you can have all the methane that I've stored without a proper license. Here you go. And there's more where *that* came from. You're welcome.

    Mine's the one with the big ballon on the back.

  11. Geoff Mackenzie

    Re: Stow-Cum-Quy

    Try Stow-Cvm-Quy - luckily the postie's not as dense as Disney. :)

  12. shay mclachlan


    Just what is 'undeclared' carbon dioxide??? Is there a black market for this stuff in the dodgier parts of town or something?

  13. anarchic-teapot

    Re: Undeclared Carbon dioxide

    I think that anyone with a Persian cat, a downloaded copy of the so-called 'Ai Quaeda manual', or a batch of homebrew beer is going to be in real trouble.

  14. Dangermouse

    Just thought about this a bit more...

    So how many people in the UK have house plants. Probably near-enough all adults. And how many would have this "plant passport" thingy. Not one.

    Ergo, we are now all criminals.

    Hanging's too good for us.

  15. Bronek Kozicki Silver badge

    I'd certainly appreciate

    ... direct marketing company restricting itself from sending anything to me. As I happen to live in Middlesex.

  16. David Harper

    Re Stow-cum-Quy

    Have you tried Stow-ejaculation-Quy?

    I bet the Disney smut filters allow that one through.

  17. peter
    IT Angle

    Blocking software rule bites back

    I worked for a defence company who decided to instigate blocking software for any words like 'confidential' or 'secret'. At the same time they instigated a legal disclaimer that was automatically appended to be bottom of every email, which contained the phrase 'This email may contain information which is confidential to this company'.

    We spend days in happy ignorance that every single email from the whole company was being trashed.

  18. dervheid

    Only a matter of time...

    before we all have to supply a key to our property to the local authorities then. And Plod. And HM C&E.

    That's presuming we're going to be allowed to have our own 'property' in GB's new Stalinist State.

    You might be allocated a coat, if you're lucky, and toe the party line.

  19. Phil Hare
    Black Helicopters

    "Non-human genetic material"

    What, like a cat? What happens if they find one?

  20. Mike Richards Silver badge

    undeclared carbon dioxide

    Does this mean SodaStreams now have to be licenced?

    One of the reports yesterday mentioned the government can now demand entry to your house to look for bears.

  21. amanfromMars Silver badge

    IntelAIgent Packaging

    "The end of summer term in Parliament is the time for sneaking out as much embarrassing news as possible, in the sure knowledge that parliamentary scrutiny will be at a minimum."

    Have they any idea how much XXXXtra Work will have Landed for them to Explain whenever they Return to Reality2. What do you Think will be Leading Them then .... Communications and Media?

    Thank Global Operating Devices for that WwwRAPPER.

    "Well excuse me for breathing..." ... By Anonymous Coward Posted Tuesday 22nd July 2008 09:21 GMT

    That is Pure Raw Python, AC. :-) Bulldog Spirit.

  22. I. Aproveofitspendingonspecificprojects

    Suspr0n, Middlepr0n, etc

    However, to be fair to the Home Office, there is no evidence that it is any worse than any other government department in this respect.

    Somehow I get a tight restricted breathing feeling when I try to analyse that. Oi! What's that chap doing with my hey.. you...

  23. Anonymous Coward

    Plant fear grips the UK

    Strewth, looks like our pot plants are all in for it! Presumably they'll all shortly need biometric passports with leaf scans and their DNA will go on a government database. I expect we'll need to produce that documentation so we can offset their CO2-absorbing powers against the new household CO2 tax ... so that'll be ten more pages of tax return to fill in (and special plant credits for the elderly to claim).

    I guess the US will also get to see the details through some high-level agreement. After all, big bushy pot plants could be concealing terrorists. And they'll obviously want to know about any castor-oil plants.

    Then of course there are the, ahem, lethal "pot" plants. I imagine they'll get deported cos they won't have a visa, but we'll need detention centres while their cases go through he courts. Just hope there aren't any fires.

    We'll have to think of the children(!!!) too. Plants with big kiddy-skewering spines and carnivorous ones that could digest a small nipper will clearly need special regulation. A licensing scheme involving a huge IT project and expensive annual checks on everyone who's ever owned a pot plant should do the job nicely. That and compulsory CCTV in every greenhouse.

    Thing is, will they delete all this PII (Plant Identification Information) when it's no longer needed? I'd hate to think they still had a dossier on my cactus that popped its clogs years ago.

    I'd get my coat, but it's covering my baby marrows. Can't be too careful with all those paedos about!

  24. Sillyfellow

    undecleared carbon dioxide


    'undecleared carbon dioxide'

    so now it's official. we, the general public, have been criminalised so much and our rights removed to the extent that it could be illegal to breathe...

    .. do we have to declare the co2 we produce from breathing to be legally compliant? and if so, how exactly do we go about doing that? and how much more must we pay our gvt for this privelege?

    these new laws are really taking the piss now.

    notice to all general public: you are now a criminal in the eyes of the law. full stop.

    so where do i get passports for my house plants? the home office? how much is that again??

    is there anyone out there (who doesn't work for gvt) that doesn't think our UK gvt are TOTAL IDIOTS??

  25. amanfromMars Silver badge

    ESPecial Branches and Stirling Forces

    I. Aproveofitspendingonspecificprojects,

    Does it do what it says on the tin and also approve of it spending on specific projects?

    El Reg are bound to know a man with Particular and Peculiar Programs, which are UltraSpecific seeking Obfuscated Funding Streams...... One Program of which would UltraSpecific, and Seeking Distressed and Distressing Funds for InterNetional RSQ.... and Credit Transfer.

  26. Luther Blissett

    Apologies from the Management

    a cry from the heart.

    By Pete

    Posted Tuesday 22nd July 2008 08:47 GMT

    "Please, please don't quote stuff from the Daily Mail. You're better than that and we don't deserve to be exposed to such stuff."

    The management of Radio Luther would like to apologise for making you cry. When you grow up to be a real daily male, we are sure you will be big enough to take on the facts.

  27. Anonymous Coward

    cvm, middle5ex and undeclared CO2

    u=v... Good suggestion. My humble offering is s=5.

    ...presumably, inhaling is okay - we're just not permitted to exhale. Oh, and whilst we're mentioning great non-exhalers... AKA 'he of the presidential seal of approval' (lol) I still believe him when he said, "I did not have 5exual relations with that woman"... after all, all they did was talk about it over a nice fat cigar... didn't they?

  28. Andy Mabbett

    Get a grip

    So, if your neighbours return from holiday, and don't care that they've illegally imported a plant with an invasive and potentially devastating pest species, say Colarado Beetle:

    you think the authorities should be powerless to enter their home to destroy it before they can accidentally release it into the wild?

  29. Dave

    A New Room in the House

    I think I'm going to build an extension and get a genetically modified Venus flytrap to put in it. That way any government official who's concerned about plant passports can go in and interview it in person.

  30. Sillyfellow

    i might have a BEAR. lol

    yeah. and besides the possibility of having plants with no passport..

    they might have a BEAR in their house.

    our great and efficient <cough cough> authorities wouyld definately need legislation to gain entry for that eventuality. check it out.


  31. RW

    Plant passports, the Colorado potato beetle, and the nature of "law"

    I'm none too certain what a "plant passport" is but suspect it's along the lines of a phytosanitary certificate: a piece of paper issued by the agricultural authorities in one country assuring the agricultural authorities in another country that a certain specimen of a certain plant is free of pests and diseases.

    Used to be these were easy and cheap to get, so individuals found it practical, for example, to import plants from the UK into Canada, from the US into Canada, and so on, in complete conformity to the law.

    But the "user pay" concept took over, the fees rose to prohibitive levels, and those days are now past. This application of "user pay" overlooks the fact that it's in everyone's interest to keep out plant pests and diseases, not just the importer who desperately wants a specimen of the double-flowered, silver-variegated form of /Veriolitsis glomulama/, the better to indulge in gamesmanship with his fellow plant nuts.

    Gardeners, however, are as a class criminals and have never let anything as simple as a missing piece of paper stop them. The rise in fees has the net result that more plants are smuggled without inspection than ever before.

    [Aside: phytosanitary certificates issued by China are, as you would expect, worthless. A small bribe is all that is required to get one, evidently, regardless of the subject plants' health.]

    As for the Colorado potato beetle, it's a serious pest and one that's been the subject of serious efforts to block from the UK. But laws to facilitate this have been on the books a long time: probably things like mandating reports of any infestations found, and so on. Look at how the hoof & mouth disease outbreaks in Britain have been handled for an example of how this works.

    And, moreover, no thinking citizen would disagree with a law giving entry in pursuit of a Colorado potato beetles.

    At one time, the theoretical view of the law was that statutes merely gave voice to what everyone agreed was the law: no raping, stabbing, killing, stealing, etc. NuLizar (hail our Lizard Overlords) doesn't understand this bedrock conception, and thinks they can pass laws to institute their personal silly ideas.

    Just as Monte Python had silly walks, so NuLizar has silly thoughts.

    Gordon Brown & Jacqui Brown in a Punch & Judy show, anyone? Or have P&J shows been outlawed as tending to encourage violence among the young? (As thought without them Britain is an utterly peaceful place where no one does anything awful to anyone else.)

    Better stop; I'm starting to rant. Please forgive me, O Divine Moderatrix!

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