There’s been much talk today about the new government’s plan to do away with the current Human Rights Act.
The first thing to point out is that this is one of the UKIP policies pinched by the Conservatives.
Secondly – and I want to make this absolutely clear – they are not planning to simply scrap all human rights. This is contrary to what has been implied by numerous articles that I’ve seen and upon which ridiculous assumption there is now a 38Degrees petition that reads;
“Unbelievably, he [David Cameron] is trying to abolish the law which gives us the right not to be tortured, the right to a fair trial and the right to an education. It allows any of us to hold public institutions like the police, prisons, and councils, to account. Scrapping this law isn’t what most of us signed up for.
People power got us these rights. If we don’t speak up again now, the government could destroy them.”
Of course it’s unbelievable, because it isn’t true. Part of the petition has a quote from Lucy (whoever she is) who says;
“The Act covers everyone living in the UK. The policies have been created for no reason other than to protect us as human beings.
Without it any one of us could be wrongly accused of a crime, the government will be allowed to breach our privacy, and anyone could fall victim to careless decisions made by authorities.”
The whole point of this plan is to replace the current European Human Rights legislation with a British Bill of Rights.
This will, one assumes, cover the same areas as the current European bill and in mostly the same way. To all intents and purposes our Human Rights will remain the same, but there will be two key differences;
Firstly the wording of the legislation will be back under the control of the British Parliament – meaning as a nation, we can amend/ improve/ adapt the legislation as we see fit (through our MPs). Europe will no longer be dictating to us as they currently do.
Secondly the bill will put our own Supreme Court as the ultimate arbiter of disputes and not, as is currently the case, allow the European Court of Justice to overrule our own legal system.
There is, however, one big problem with the PMs plan – he can’t do it under current EU law. As Diane James MEP points out in this article;
“Tory pledges to make the British Supreme Court the ultimate arbiter of human rights are a fraud. Article 7 (TEU) of the Lisbon Treaty gives the European Council the power to strip a member state of its EU voting rights if it decides the state is in breach of Brussels’ definition of human rights. This is EU law. And since EU law is at all times superior to UK law, as long as we are members of the EU our Supreme Court will be supreme in name only.”
The only way to escape the clutches of the EU is to leave it – the only party committed to leaving the EU are UKIP.