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Should the UK have a new Bill of Rights? watch

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    'Bills of Rights' are really pointless. They generally contain only very vague rights that are respected and given effect to in this country anyway, and very quickly become anachronistic e.g. the right to bear arms is used by pro-gun lobbies in the US in a context which was not originally meant by the US Bill of Rights.

    It also injects unnecessary legalism into politics - whether it is appropriate to infringe rights in particular circumstances needs to be judged by democratic process and not by a vaguely drafted piece of paper. Bills of Rights have to be so general that they aren't really easily applicable to everyday situations.
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    (Original post by Prudy)
    They may write it but Parliament has to pass it. An issue like the would require cross party support.
    I think it's fairly inconceivable that the government alone would compose such a document. For one, it would remove the only real point in a British Bill of Rights - to legitimise and popularise the human rights culture in the UK.

    (Original post by SolInvictus)
    You already have a bill of rights from the 17th century, that you have just ignored for the past few centuries.
    I suppose that makes a point about non-entrenchment - or at least having no enforcement provisions at all.

    (Original post by Crimson Black)
    The UK's safeguard against government infringement is the Judiciary anyway, who enforce EU decisions and directives (when not already codified), and especially enforce the HRA. In particular, judges are required to read law wherever possible as confirming to the ECHR. Your much-desired override of parliamentary sovereignty takes the form of our much-maligned EU.
    Groan... I have no idea why people still persist in confusing the Human Rights Act and the European Convention on Human Rights with the EU. The two are completely unrelated, short of having 'European' in the title. The EU doesn't get involved in national human rights law.

    (Original post by Crimson Black)
    The UK system has a decent judiciary system that has defended our rights against the government by invoking the HRA, and even if parliament were to introduce a new (potentially biased?) Bill of Rights it would still, by European law, be undermined by the ECHR. Unless, of course, the UK leaves the EU, in which case all sorts of conundrums appear.
    The ECHR has no effect in UK law. It is only through its inclusion in the Human Rights Act that it has some existence - it cannot enforce anything. Nor, again, does the ECHR have anything to do with the EU.
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    (Original post by L i b)
    Well, parliamentary sovereignty has - to some extent - been shown to be restricted. The Crown and the High Court in Scotland accepted in MacCormick v. Lord Advocate that certain provisions of the Acts of Union were entrenched and could not be amended by the British Parliament. Although I've never read it, apparently even Dicey acknowledged these problems with the concept of parliamentary sovereignty when writing on the Scottish contribution to the constitution.
    Oh most certainly Parliamentary Sovereignty has been limited is certain aspects: MacCormick, Van Gend, and Thoburn (Laws LJ judgment is a tad suspect though). However all these limits are united by their limit through political practicalities, as Lord Denning said: "Legal theory does not march along side political reality". We have allowed our Parliament to be limited in their sov. in the above cases due to the political fallout that may result in renaging on these Acts: it wouldn't be popular to walk back into Canada!

    However, I don't see how we can entrench a 'Bill of Rights' in the same way: a country where Parliament has played a fairly weak role in protecting rights does not engender in its subjects sufficient fire in their bellys (bad wording) to make it a political impossibility to ride roughshod over rights. Indeed this has been demonstrated.

    I will agree with you however that the Government has dealt well with S.4 declarations: if only to introduce another piece of legislation(!).
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    (Original post by L i b)
    I think it's fairly inconceivable that the government alone would compose such a document. For one, it would remove the only real point in a British Bill of Rights - to legitimise and popularise the human rights culture in the UK.
    :yes:
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    (Original post by L i b)
    Groan... I have no idea why people still persist in confusing the Human Rights Act and the European Convention on Human Rights with the EU. The two are completely unrelated, short of having 'European' in the title. The EU doesn't get involved in national human rights law.

    The ECHR has no effect in UK law. It is only through its inclusion in the Human Rights Act that it has some existence - it cannot enforce anything. Nor, again, does the ECHR have anything to do with the EU.
    My mistake with the EU, meant EC (European Council), was typing on automatic. Apart from that, the EC isn't entirely unrelated to the EU, given that it and the ECHR work in close tandem. Semantically you're right.

    Unfortunately you're wrong on the ECHR not being able to enforce anything regarding the HRA. You're right in saying that outside of the HRA it can't enforce anything. The HRA isn't just a list of do's and don'ts, and compells the UK judiciary to read any parliamentary Acts to be in accordance with the ECHR, and if this isn't the case, declare the offending act incompatible under the convention, stating how the offending Act breaches human rights. In short, the ECHR, through the HRA, enforces a damn sight more than you think.
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    (Original post by Crimson Black)
    My mistake with the EU, meant EC (European Council), was typing on automatic. Apart from that, the EC isn't entirely unrelated to the EU, given that it and the ECHR work in close tandem. Semantically you're right.
    Well you're confusing the European Council - the main policy body of the EU - and the Council of Europe now!

    The Council of Europe is a completely separate organisation; it's no more related than, say, the UN is to the EU.

    Unfortunately you're wrong on the ECHR not being able to enforce anything regarding the HRA. You're right in saying that outside of the HRA it can't enforce anything. The HRA isn't just a list of do's and don'ts, and compells the UK judiciary to read any parliamentary Acts to be in accordance with the ECHR, and if this isn't the case, declare the offending act incompatible under the convention, stating how the offending Act breaches human rights. In short, the ECHR, through the HRA, enforces a damn sight more than you think.
    The point being that a declaration of incompatibility doesn't have any substantial legal effect.
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    (Original post by Prudy)
    They may write it but Parliament has to pass it. An issue like the would require cross party support.
    Are you honestly saying that the War on Iraq, 42 day terror bill etc had cross party support? The Lords wouldn't have the power to block and hold out against a Bill of Rights
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    (Original post by Albangura)
    Are you honestly saying that the War on Iraq, 42 day terror bill etc had cross party support? The Lords wouldn't have the power to block and hold out against a Bill of Rights
    As Lib mentiond, a document that is designed to outline the fundamental rights and freedom of the British Constitution will be drafted by all parties and would need to be passed with cross party support. Hence the use of a Joint committe to investigate the need for a Bill of Rights and for Gordon Browns speech saying: " Addressing these issues is a challenge for all who believe in liberty, regardless of political party.

    Men and women are Conservative or Labour, Liberal Democrat or of some other party - or of no political allegiance.
    "
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    (Original post by Prudy)
    As Lib mentiond, a document that is designed to outline the fundamental rights and freedom of the British Constitution will be drafted by all parties and would need to be passed with cross party support. Hence the use of a Joint committe to investigate the need for a Bill of Rights and for Gordon Browns speech saying: " Addressing these issues is a challenge for all who believe in liberty, regardless of political party.

    Men and women are Conservative or Labour, Liberal Democrat or of some other party - or of no political allegiance.
    "
    If a proposed Bill of Rights is to have any sort of significance and not just go onto the statute books as an ordinary Act of Parliament, it ought to also be put to a referendum, in my opinion.
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    (Original post by 2026)
    If a proposed Bill of Rights is to have any sort of significance and not just go onto the statute books as an ordinary Act of Parliament, it ought to also be put to a referendum, in my opinion.
    Would the electorate understand it sufficiently to make their vote trustworty though?
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    (Original post by Prudy)
    Would the electorate understand it sufficiently to make their vote trustworty though?
    Well if the proposed Bill of Rights is concise and there's sufficient effort to educate the masses on the subject of the Bill, it shouldn't be a problem. For this reason, I think it's important that any proposed Bill of Rights deals primarily or even solely with first generation human rights.

    If in spite of all efforts, the Daily Mail/The Sun readers, the type of people who think habeas corpus and the 1689 English Bil of Rights are for Muslims and liberal pussies, then there's not much we can do. We'll just have to continue placing our hope in the majority and an unrestrained Parliament.
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    Afraid I don't much care about a referendum on the issue - in fact I'd actively oppose it - but what I think is important is how it is drafted. Hopefully a wide-ranging Convention would be held, much in the same way as the EU drafted the Charter of Fundamental Rights and the Constitutional Treaty.
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    (Original post by L i b)
    Afraid I don't much care about a referendum on the issue - in fact I'd actively oppose it - but what I think is important is how it is drafted. Hopefully a wide-ranging Convention would be held, much in the same way as the EU drafted the Charter of Fundamental Rights and the Constitutional Treaty.
    I'd also support a Convention, which would allow NGOs and all private parties with an interest to make their contribution, but why would you oppose a referendum?
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    (Original post by 2026)
    I'd also support a Convention, which would allow NGOs and all private parties with an interest to make their contribution, but why would you oppose a referendum?
    Well I don't like referendums at the best of times, and certainly not referendums where the result is something of a foregone conclusion of policy. Somehow I can't see this being the sort of thing which, once decided upon, will be significantly changed following a rejection by 'the people' - a bit like the EU's Constitutional Treaty really.

    I've never witnessed a referendum do any good for anybody.
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    I think we should adopt the same measures as the American system for sure at least. The US Bill of Rights is established in the constitution and therefore cannot be altered without significant widespread public and political support. I believe a third of the Congress and 3/4 of all the state legislatures have to agree before a change can be made and that is very high consensus level to achieve.
    Also, the Human Rights Act in the UK was never sufficiently implemented and therefore does not adequately protect human rights.
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    (Original post by Antonia87)
    I think we should adopt the same measures as the American system for sure at least. The US Bill of Rights is established in the constitution and therefore cannot be altered without significant widespread public and political support. I believe a third of the Congress and 3/4 of all the state legislatures have to agree before a change can be made and that is very high consensus level to achieve.
    Also, the Human Rights Act in the UK was never sufficiently implemented and therefore does not adequately protect human rights.
    How do we adopt a system like the US when we don't have a strict separation of powers?

    Also, what do you mean the HRA was never sufficiently implemented?
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    (Original post by Prudy)
    How do we adopt a system like the US when we don't have a strict separation of powers?

    Also, what do you mean the HRA was never sufficiently implemented?
    I'm not saying we should mirror the way in which the Americans govern as such, I'm saying that we should adopt the same attitude to theirs regarding the Bill of Rights. The first ten ammendments to the US constitution contain the Bill of Rights and so far, only 27 ammendments have been made to the constitution in over 200 years. Basically, humans rights are extremely difficult to amend or abolish in the US.

    The HRA is not sufficiently implemented because it is contained in an uncodified constitution. An uncodified constitution is very flexible and can be updated/changed very easily. BUT since it can be changed easily, it means that the human rights legislation in the UK is very vulnerable to the whim of Parliament.
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    (Original post by Antonia87)
    I'm not saying we should mirror the way in which the Americans govern as such, I'm saying that we should adopt the same attitude to theirs regarding the Bill of Rights. The first ten ammendments to the US constitution contain the Bill of Rights and so far, only 27 ammendments have been made to the constitution in over 200 years. Basically, humans rights are extremely difficult to amend or abolish in the US.

    The HRA is not sufficiently implemented because it is contained in an uncodified constitution. An uncodified constitution is very flexible and can be updated/changed very easily. BUT since it can be changed easily, it means that the human rights legislation in the UK is very vulnerable to the whim of Parliament.
    Both these points seem to encompass the same priniple so I shall respond to them in kind:

    How to you suppose we can 'solidify' rights in the UK?

    You rightly identify that we have an uncodified constitution and that as such it can be updated/changed. However the reason (as I see it) that we cannot have an embedded system of rights is not due to our constitution being uncodified - supremacy of Parliament over the judiciary is very much embedded - but due to Parliamentary sovereignty: any Parliament that passes HR legistation is at the mercy of a subsequent Parliament.
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    (Original post by 2026)
    I'd also support a Convention, which would allow NGOs and all private parties with an interest to make their contribution, but why would you oppose a referendum?
    I wouldn't go for a referendum-I don't like how it undermines representive democracy and how it can be so heavily influenced by the media. I do like the idea of a conventions-recomending mesures to Parliment and then a multi-party committee drawing up a bill.

    The really question is how we can entrench it IMO-or even if its possable in the current British system.
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    Do we really need more rights?

    The universal declaration of rights, British law, the pathetic human rights act etc, surely uphold peoples rights enough? Creating a new bill of rights just seems like a petty political gesture.
 
 
 
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