Wednesday, 22 June 2022

Human Rights protection in the UK ~ the proposed Bill of Rights - No. 1

The Secretary of State for Justice - Dominic Raab MP - has announced the government's plans to reform the protection of human rights in the UK - see Hansard 22 June 2022.

The proposed Bill of Rights bill and supporting documentation may be seen at - Bill of Rights: Bill documents - GOV.UK (

The Bill contains 41 sections and 5 Schedules. and will extend to England and Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. 

The Human Rights Act 1998 (HRA 98) will be repealed.

If the Bill becomes an Act of Parliament

then commencement orders will apply with the exception of section 31 to 41 which will come into force once the Act is passed. Sections 31 to 41 contain powers to make rules and regulations (Clauses 31 to 33), interpretation ( clauses 34 to 36) and final provisions (clauses 37 to 41).

The 17th century Bill of Rights remains on the statute book.

The UK will remain a signatory to the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) and Clause 2 of the Bill defines the term "convention rights." 

Declarations of incompatibility will continue to be possible (Clause 10) subject to the provisions in the Bill.

Jury trial:

Clause 9 deals with Jury trial and, in fact, seems to add nothing to existing law under which jury trial is not always available.

Manifesto, Independent Panel, Consultation:

The government claims a manifesto commitment for these reforms - (see the 2019 Conservative Party manifesto).  The manifesto actually stated - "After Brexit we also need to look at the broader aspects of our constitution: the relationship between the Government, Parliament and the courts; the functioning of the Royal Prerogative; the role of the House of Lords; and access to justice for ordinary people. The ability of our security services to defend us against terrorism and organised crime is critical. We will update the Human Rights Act and administrative law to ensure that there is a proper balance between the rights of individuals, our vital national security and effective government. We will ensure that judicial review is available to protect the rights of the individuals against an overbearing state, while ensuring that it is not abused to conduct politics by another means or to create needless delays. In our first year we will set up a Constitution, Democracy & Rights Commission that will examine these issues in depth, and come up with proposals to restore trust in our institutions and in how our democracy operates ...." [Emphasis added].

Given the lack of actual detail in the published 2019 manifesto, an interesting question is to what extent the House of Lords will recognise the Bill as a manifesto commitment and, as a result, permit the Bill to pass.  The so-called Salisbury-Addison convention is to the effect that the Lords should not seek to prevent the government from implementing manifesto ledges.

Also, in connection with the manifesto, it is worth noting that the proposed Commission  never materialised - What happened to the Constitution, Democracy and Rights Commission? | The Constitution Unit Blog (

The Bill of Rights was preceded by the report of a government appointed independent panel - (considered in detail HERE ) - and a consultation (considered in detail HERE ). The independent panel made very few recommendations and saw minimal need for change.  

The consultation document simply put forward the government's view about reform with the independent panel's views mostly ignored.

There can be no doubt that the government's proposals for a "Modern Bill of Rights" are regressive making it harder for individuals to enforce human rights. As argued by Sacha Deshmukh (Chief Executive Amnesty International) - "Ignore the name of this new legislation. It is a rights removal bill, and it will leave us all the poorer" - A British bill of rights? This draconian plan is a rights removal bill | Sacha Deshmukh | The Guardian. The power of the executive will, yet again, be increased.

Continued at Law and Lawyers: Human Rights protection in the UK ~ the proposed Bill of Rights - No. 2 (

22 June 2022

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