Just where is the Tories’ British Bill of Rights?

European Court of Human Rights, June 2010 by James Russell

In the wake of the general election one of the most contentious proposals from the newly potent Tory-majority government was the repeal of the Human Rights Act, a piece of legislation that came into force in October 2000 under New Labour.

At the time the Right Dishonourable unanimously thought this a stupid idea, though the specifics of its stupidity were narrower than some campaigners to save the act have intimated.

In short repealing the act, whilst looking like a bold bid for independence from Europe, would not reduce judicial activism (which would probably afflict a British Bill of Rights), would not stop British courts from considering the views of the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg, and would not free us from international treaty obligations.

Initially the Conservatives wanted to achieve this bold plan within 100 days of taking power, but the government quickly abandoned this by not mentioning the matter in the Queen’s Speech, dodging the issue for a short time.

Since then, little was said on the matter until last month when justice minister Dominic Raab told Parliament that “proposals” would be brought forward and that “preparation is going well.” But concrete details were thin.

The legislative hurdles that face the Tories should they decide to go ahead with scrapping the Human Rights Act are still legion, and include the Good Friday Agreement in Northern Ireland, Scottish devolution and rebellion within the Conservatives.

What is more a fight over the European Court of Human Rights would further anger the very European politicians that prime minister David Cameron needs to woo in order to secure concessions for his campaign to remain within the European Union (even if the court is not itself part of the EU).

As such the British Bill of Rights might remain to be seen for a good while to come…

Image Credit – European Court of Human Rights, June 2010 by James Russell

Jimmy Nicholls

Jimmy Nicholls

Writer on Westminster, free speech, religion and so forth. Contact jimmy.nicholls@rightdishonourable.com

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