Thursday, 27 October 2011

So we are going to have a 'British' Bill of Rights?

"It might be more worthwhile if we stopped wringing our hands and started ringing the necks of our politicians."

From the Coalition's 'programme for government' (page 11):
"We will establish a Commission to investigate the creation of a British Bill of Rights that incorporates and builds on all our obligations under the European Convention on Human Rights, ensures that these rights continue to be enshrined in British law, and protects and extends British liberties. We will seek to promote a better understanding of  the true scope of these obligations and liberties."
On 8th February 2010 the European Union produced document 6180/10: which, from the introduction, stated "the question of the accession of the EU to the 1950 European Convention on Human Rights, hereinafter referred to as "ECHR", ranks among the highest priorities". 

The House of Commons Library produced on 22nd March 2011 Standard Note SN/IS/5914, which stated:
"3 The draft Council Decision
The negotiating mandate, the Draft Council Decision authorising the Commission to negotiate the Accession Agreement of the European Union to the European Convention for the protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms (ECHR), has been confidential and therefore was not made available for parliamentary scrutiny. However, the Government deposited a partially declassified version of the Council Decision authorising the negotiation of the accession agreement. On 8 February 2010 the Commission published document 6180/10 on EU accession which outlined the informal discussions and issues being addressed at meetings of Justice and Home Affairs Counsellors, national experts, the Commission and a representative of the Court of Justice.
One does wonder why the negiotiating mandate has been classified 'confidential' and was not available for parliamentary scrutiny, but I digress........

It is now discovered that, in the meantime, the Coalition Government has been working behind the scenes, so to speak, proposing text amendments to the "Draft Agreement on the Accession of the European Union to the European Convention on Human Rights" - those amendments can be read here.

We, in the United Kingdom, already have a Bill of Rights, one that is steadily being eroded by directives and regulations from the European Union; by adherence to the European Court of Human Rights; and by the nudges from unelected 'politically correct' fake charities.

It is becoming obvious that the Coalition's proposed British Bill of Rights has already been written!


Quiet_Man said...

I don't want a British bill of rights, I want the rights back the last 100 years of government have signed or legislated away starting with the pub opening times act of 1914.

WitteringsfromWitney said...

QM: Agreed but also nice to see you have your priorities.......

Anonymous said...

I want the right to rove out of an evening in public with a sword!!

No in all seriousness I agree with the quiet man. If there is one word that gets my Goat and sends me reaching for me grog it is " incorporate" Or as we say in England Stitch up!!

WitteringsfromWitney said...

Anon: 'incorporate'? Sure you dont mean a variation of 'inebriate'?

Woodsy42 said...

As so frequently happens EU laws and initiatives are concealed and introduced behind a pretence of being domestic UK ones.

WitteringsfromWitney said...

W42: As we all now know....... :(

PeterCharles said...

Well of course we need a new British Bill of Rights since, as QM and A point out, our existing rights under common law have long been slowly subverted by government, especially during the Blair years when he was in a rush to drag us into European-style Corpus Juris that we have only a few left. Between them all they went about as far as they could without causing serious political waves, and that only because the judiciary kept stum having found the power to make the law in the flavour they favour particularly intoxicating. That still leaves quite a chasm between UK law and Corpus Juris so obviously we need to dump our few remaining silly old rights and have new ones that can be seamlessly fitted into Corpus Juris.

Let's face it, ever since Michael Howard all governments have been determined that our law should reflect the argument that it be better ten innocent men be hanged than one guilty man escape justice. Best to have a Bill of Rights to make sure people know exactly what rights they have and who gave those rights to them. After all, the days when an Englishman had the right to do whatever he wished unless it was specifically made illegal have long been gone. Indeed the politicians will undoubtedly congratulate themselves thinking 'the idiots will probably think we have actually given them something they never had, ha ha ha ha ha ha'.

The truly horrifying thing is they would probably be right for 99% of the population.

john in cheshire said...

Does anyone else think that the House of Lords, prior to the butchery of the labour party, served us better than the thing that has replaced it?

Anonymous said...

John in Cheshire

Yes! I do!!!! Illogical though it sounds, everything just seemed to tick along nicely when the hereditories had a say in things.


PS Sorry if this duplicates. Having trouble with your post box.

Woodsy42 said...

Yes the old HOL was far from perfect but it was much better. It made honest mistakes but was much less politicised and had fewer self-interested members perhaps?

TomTom said...

The Bill of Rights 1689 has been disembowelled by Parliament long before the EU.....the right of Protestants to bar arms......disappeared even though it made it into the US Bill of Rights and gun ownership is increasing there as people feel resistance to Government Absolutism might become necessary

The antidote to Standing Army is an armed Citizenry which is why the Citizens in the UK were disarmed in the 1920s when the elites ran the economy into the ground and feared insurrection

IanPJ said...


There is a common belief that Acts of Parliament are the ultimate word in law. they are not. Common Law may not be repealed.

Our Common Law is supreme. Acts of parliament only act to cover up our Common Law as it cannot be repealed. For instance, Treason is a Common Law offence, and the various Treason Acts have moved to water it down, the latest being the one by Blair which removed the death penalty and other clauses.
Repeal the Treason Act, and our Common Law offence of Treason comes to the fore again.

For clarity on the supreme nature of our Common Law over both UK Acts of Parliament and EU law, there is a handy guide here.
Common Law vs Statutes

PeterCharles said...

I accept your point IanPJ, however statute law trumps common law, although in theory all statute law should be interpreted in accord with common law, only the absence of statute law allows common law to prevail. So in your example if the Treason Act was amended to state a maximum sentence for treason to be 1 days imprisonment that is what would prevail. Thus common law is subverted and any Bill of Rights would similarly trump applicable common law.

Since its modern inception parliament, or more properly government, have to worked ceaselessly to negate common law. Any successful recourse to common law on matters of import would be purely accidental from a government position and no doubt quickly remedied. Common law is one of our few remaining safeguards in some respects but don't expect that to last much longer if politicians have their way.

IanPJ said...

but you missed out the most important bit, consent.

Statutes are only applicable BY CONSENT...and that is not collective consent, but individual consent.

The rule of law is our Common Law, the Statues only make up our rules of law, but by consent.

At some stage in the not too distant future we are going to have to say to those who make these Acts, and impose upon us EU Acts, We no longer consent.

PeterCharles said...

IanPJ The government argues that 'by consent' in the case of statute law is the same meaning as in parliament makes laws by consent and the constabulary police by consent, in other words, it is a declaration of democratic legitimacy and does not refer to individual consent.

Nor does it matter, the point is moot. To my, admittedly not encyclopaedic knowledge, no court has ever entertained let alone accepted a defence that person X is immune to prosecution because they do not consent to a particular statute law they have been charged under, not even when the accused has responded "no, I don't understand the charges against me" and has consistently stated they do not recognise the authority of the police under statute.

Even if 'by consent' was intended to require individual consent it matters not as the judiciary and parliament are the arbiters of what is meant by such words and I am sure there are no persons in either category prepared to make a contrary declaration.

IanPJ said...


That may be about to change, if enough like Guy are willing to stand up.

WitteringsfromWitney said...

Not wishing to interrupt the discussion betwee IPJ and PC as I don't think they have finished..... I will respond to the remainder.

jic, Anon & W42: Agree and it was probably due to the fact the old HoL was filled with learned men and women and not the current empty-headed placements - plus, regardless of previous party affiliation they tended to look at matters from a non-political angle.

TT: Fair comments, good points and as ever totally concur.....

PeterCharles said...

IanPJ If I follow that case correctly it all hinges on matters of Administrative Law and seems to boil down to a failure of authority to correctly use and even enforce the law, rather than a case of the law cannot be enforced. Councils printing off their own summonses and the like would seem prima facie unlawful and would open a huge can of worms if found to be so in court, but a council going to the magistrates' court would make it lawful, provided it is lawful to recover debts or fines or whatever in the first place. The government response would be that the councils' failures were tantamount to only a technical error as the summonses would have been approved anyway. In any event, you can be sure government would be very quick to hammer the lid on any opened cans toute suite with all the proper bells and whistle to make it air-tight this time around.

There are two reasons I think the whole thing is moot, as I say, even if due process was found to be absent or improper government response would be to fix it as is and the second reason is because government does not and does not ever intend to represent the common man, they represent the vested interest of 'people with influence' and the interests of the State.

Common law is likely viewed by government more as an irritant that needs be fully codified into statute law to get rid of it, as is of course essential if we are to merge with European Corpus Juris.

IanPJ said...

Common law is likely viewed by government more as an irritant that needs be fully codified into statute law to get rid of it, as is of course essential if we are to merge with European Corpus Juris.

That's it in a nutshell, full and final merger, and it is therefore our duty to ensure that Government cannot do this secretly, behind closed doors or without the consent of the public at large. That is why we keep pricking, prodding and bringing it to the attention of as wide an audience as our limited resources allow.