Creating a British Bill of Rights

Essay, 2011

9 Pages, Grade: 1.0



Creating a British Bill of Rights

Building on European obligations

Better Understanding of the obligations

Enshrined in British Law

Extending British Liberties


Creating a British Bill of Rights

The struggle between liberty and authority is the most conspicuous feature in the portions of history with which we are earliest familiar1. This balance between the powers of the people and the government is a debate that has been evident throughout all of human history. The declaration in the 2010 coalition agreement makes clear mention to this classical problem by stating a need to restore the rights of individuals in the face of encroaching state power, in keeping with Britain’s tradition of freedom and fairness2. Difficult to achieve this median, John Stuart Mill stated that “the aim, of patriots was to set limits to the power which the ruling should be suffered to exercise over the community, and this limitation was what was meant as liberty3 ”. British liberty has been on the decline; and as a result, the Conservative party declared that the current form of human rights protection (through application of the Human Rights Act 19984 ) within the United Kingdom is inadequate to protect civil liberties. A new commission has been set up to investigate the creation of a British Bill of rights and Responsibilities to either replace or supplement the European influenced rights regime. The commission will look at how to build on the obligation set out in the European Convention on Human rights5 while also addressing the inherent problems with judicial involvement and enshrining it within the law. It will become evident that the current structure of rights protection in the UK is unique and adapted appropriately for the parliamentary model; however there is a need to build upon Britain’s European Responsibilities while respecting the structure of the political system. In its current incarnation rights are limited and do not reflect the wider needs of the British people, however any new declared rights packaged passed will be best implemented through public involvement, and created from the basis of the ECHR.

Building on European obligations

The acceptance of the ECHR has struggled to find its place within English legal culture, and public. The HRA was brought in not as a Bill of Rights, but drafted to be an incorporated treaty6 subsequent to the ECHR. Bringing these rights home was the platform it was ushered in through, meaning that British people would be able to argue for their rights in the British courts7, and save them time and money which were previously required to get to the European Court of Human Rights8.

This however seems to be the essential starting point to the question of a Bill of Rights. Consequently, following the incorporation, multiple views were presented on creating a British Rights package to enhance rights culture in Britain. The Labour government described this as the first step in a journey9, and what would complete it was ultimately creating codified rights. The Ministry of Justice and JUSTICE lobbying group both issued reports on evolving the human rights culture, and any move to alter the HRA model must be to increase rights protection10. The conservative party took the opposite approach to this, by claiming the need to repeal the HRA within their election platform, and leader David Cameron said that it has an allegedly adverse impact on tackling crime and terrorism, the thesis being that the Act had made it harder to deal with crime and had a “similarly damaging impact on our ability to protect our society against terrorism”11.

Looking at the conservative approach; abolishing the HRA or revoking the European Convention is surely unrealistic, and politically difficult. It would mean that individuals in the UK would be in the same position as they were before the HRA came into force12. Furthermore, repeal cannot occur because of the non-regression principle, established by UN treaty bodies, requiring that standards for human rights protection that


1 Mill, J.S. (1978). On Liberty. (E. Rapaport, Ed.) Indiana, United States of American : Hackett Publishing Company Inc., pg.1

2 Government, HM. (2010). The Coalition: our programme for Government. London, UK: Cabinet Office. Pg.11

3 Ibid (1)

4 Hereinafter “HRA”

5 Hereinafter “ECHR”

6 Harvey, Colin. "Taking the next step? Achieving another Bill of Rights." European Human Rights Review (2011).

7 Ibid (5) pg.2

8 Brazier, Rodney. Constitutional Reform: Reshaping the British political system. New York: Oxford University Press, 2008. Pg.128

9 Lord Chancellor, Secretary of State for Justice. The Governance of Britain. Government Report. London: Stationery Office Limited, 2007. Pg.61.

10 JUSTICE, Constitution Committee. A British Bill of Rights: Informing the debate. London, UK: Justice Organization, 2007. pg. 15.

11 Harvey, Colin. "Taking the next step? Achieving another Bill of Rights." European Human Rights Review (2011). Pg.5.

12 Wadham, John. "Comment: Rights and Responsibilities." Law Society Gazette (2009)

Excerpt out of 9 pages


Creating a British Bill of Rights
University of Manchester  (School of Law)
Constitutional Reform
Catalog Number
ISBN (eBook)
ISBN (Book)
File size
400 KB
British Bill of Rights, European Convention, Human Rights, European Responsibilities, Britain's responsibilities, politicial system
Quote paper
Yuce Baykara (Author), 2011, Creating a British Bill of Rights, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


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