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Whither Human Rights?

Posted 03-03-2013 at 05:55 PM by Adrian69702006

Chris Grayling, the Justice Secretary, has indicated that a future Conservative Government could well repeal the Human Rights Act. We wonder how the Government might go about this, particularly if Britain is still part of the European Union, and no doubt in the teeth of significant opposition from Labour and the Liberal Democrats. Perhaps more detail will emerge in the course of time.
We have no issue with the basic idea of Human Rights or legislation designed to safeguard those rights. Anyone who has a even the most passing acquintance with English history knows well that there is nothing new or novel in the idea that people might have rights enshrined in law. Magna Carta (1215) and the 1689 Bill of Rights both recognise the principle and we doubt not that other ancient statues can be cited in the defence of liberty. These ancient laws have had to be abrogated to some extent, not least of all in the administration of justice, due to circumstances arising which could not have been foreseen in times past. The basic principles remain however.
What we do take issue with is the flagrant abuse of a Human Rights Act, intended to safeguard the liberties of law-abiding people, by criminals and undesirable aliens. Many people are rightly sickened to learn that we cannot deport a terrorist on account of his right to "a home and family life" or the "human rights record" of the country from which he came. We should have the right to remove such people from the United Kingdom untroubled by what are, at best, spurious arguments. Scrapping the Human Rights Act is not the way forward though. It is not altogether bad. But for the Human Rights Act, specific primary legislation would have been needed before the Prince of Wales was free to marry Mrs Parker Bowles. No, the way forward is to qualify our Human Rights legislation is such a way as to prevent abuses - or at least to render them less likely. Reform, not abolition, is what is needed and is most likely to secure some sort of cross-party consensus.

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