21 December, 2012
The Commission set up in 2011 to report on the possibility of a UK Bill of Rights published its report yesterday, 18 December. It has not attracted much attention from the media. The report itself runs to 282 pages, which I do not claim to have read in full. I was aware that its terms of reference rather oddly precluded the Commission from considering the possibility of the UK’s withdrawal from the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) but had not previously appreciated that this prohibition was an addition to the terms of reference on which Nick Clegg had insisted.
It is interesting that the report notes that only a quarter or so of those who put in submissions to the Commission were in favour of a UK Bill of Rights. Nevertheless the majority of the members of the Commission, seven out of nine, conclude that there is a strong argument in favour of such a Bill on the basis that it would incorporate and build on the UK’s obligations under the ECHR. Two members wrote their own dissenting conclusions on the main ground that the majority had failed to identify any shortcomings in the Human Rights Act or its application by the courts – a ground which anyone concerned in recent years with the application of the ECHR in numerous major court decisions on asylum and immigration cases must surely find astonishing. They appear also to hint at suspicions that consideration of a UK Bill of Rights may be a way of setting about the process of withdrawing from the ECHR.
To read the full Briefing Paper No 8.68 please click here