Andrew Tettenborn

A Scotsman’s home is no longer his castle

(Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)

If you suggest to an English politician that your home should be your castle to use as you like, he will probably nod. Tell that to a member of the SNP ruling class in Bruntsfield or Kelvingrove, however, and they will take any such view as a challenge to be overcome.

A couple of years ago, following a public consultation answered by a whacking 122 respondents, the SNP quietly changed Scottish building regulations. The new rules allow the government at a future date to order every homeowner in Scotland to install smoke detectors and other safety devices of a type dictated by it, whether they liked it or not. That date is now set for February 2022. Last week Scots householders were given their orders in the unequivocal, if bossy, style typical of the new model Scots bureaucrat.

Every living room, hall and landing must have a smoke detector. Not any smoke detector, mind you. It must either have irremovable tamper-proof batteries or be wired in by a professional electrician so you cannot switch it off. And if one detector goes off, all of them must, to prevent you sleeping through them. Your kitchen is to have a heat detector and any room with a fireplace (even unused) a carbon monoxide alarm. Already have perfectly good smoke detectors? Sorry: if they aren’t exactly right you must upgrade. For an average house this costs about £220, assuming you do the job yourself: for many, it will cost more, and tradesmen come extra. What if you don’t? The local authority can in the last resort intervene and make you do as you are told.

This is a worrying assault on the rights of private property, but don’t imagine it will be the last

All this is presented as sweet reasonableness with a dash of paternalism. It nevertheless represents a degree of state interference that ought to worry anyone.

For one thing, it sets personal choice at nought.

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