Remember the government’s plan to allow bailiffs to use violence to collect debts, brought in just before Christmas:
The government has been accused of trampling on individual liberties by proposing wide-ranging new powers for bailiffs to break into homes and to use “reasonable force” against householders who try to protect their valuables.
Under the regulations, bailiffs for private firms would for the first time be given permission to restrain or pin down householders. They would also be able to force their way into homes to seize property to pay off debts, such as unpaid credit card bills and loans.
The government, which wants to crack down on people who evade debts, says the new powers would be overseen by a robust industry watchdog. However, the laws are being criticised as the latest erosion of the rights of the householder in his own home.
“These laws strip away tried and tested protections that make a person’s home his castle, and which have stood for centuries,” said Paul Nicolson, chairman of the Zacchaeus 2000 Trust, a London-based welfare charity. “They could clearly lead to violent confrontations and undermine fundamental liberties.”
Bailiffs have for hundreds of years been denied powers to break into homes for civil debt or to use force against debtors, except in self-defence. In a famous declaration, William Pitt the Elder, the 18th-century prime minister, said: “The poorest man may in his cottage bid defiance to all the forces of the crown.”
Well it’s claimed its first victim:
Andy Miller, 78, a retired pub landlord and father who had recently returned from hospital after a stroke, collapsed and died from a heart attack whilst being forced to a cashpoint by baliffs ‘under duress’.
The father-of-five collapsed last week on his way to a cash machine in Accrington, while the bailiff parked and waited for the money.
The death is not being treated as suspicious.
This was entirely predictable, indeed predicted. The Conservatives used to be called the “Nasty Party”, but I think that label fits New Labour better now.