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June 25, 2006

A New Bill of Rights

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David Cameron has suggested that the Conservative party could scrap the Human Rights Act (HRA). This suggestion has also come from Tony Blair over the past few months (though strangely it was Blair who passed the law). The Human Rights Act, it is argued, gives too many rights to criminals and not enough protection to the population at large.

Cameron's suggestion differs from that of Blair because he is suggesting getting rid of the HRA but introducing a Bill of Rights for the UK, along the lines of the American on (though evidently different from the English Bill of Rights, which was passed in 1689). Cameron said that the current HRA is both giving too many rights to criminals whilst failing to protect civil liberties, a new act would be an attempt to reverse both these trends.

For my part, I would argue that this is desperately needed. We are losing rights every day because the current government's attitude is “even if it isn't broke… introduce more laws”, a tribute to that never give up, never think things through, attitude. The 90 day detention was a case in point; there is no need to have any length of detention without charge over and above about 24 hours. If you suspect that someone has committed a crime then you should charge them, at least then they know what they are meant to have done and can try and produce some counter evidence. This was a horrific breach of civil liberties which we couldn't stop because the laws which forbade it were seen to be too old, too remote and not clear enough. The 90–day law clearly breached the Habeas Corpus Act (1679) but this is still just a law, and Parliament can get rid of or over right any law it wants. If we have a new Bill of Rights it could be set up in such a way that it cannot be easily overwritten or changed.

It is also not too difficult to see examples of criminals been given too many rights. An example is the man who whilst escaping from the police climbed on top of a house. He threw bricks and tiles at the police and yet the police was bound to provide food for him because to not do would go against his “human rights”.

We clearly need a new set of rules which everyone can see, understand and feel confident with. A new Bill of Rights is a very good start.

June 12, 2006

Reid attacks 'too lenient' sentence

According to the BBC, John Reid has critised the judgement on a man convicted of sexually assaulting a 6–year–old girl as 'too lenient'.

The man in question recieved life inprisonment, but with the possibility of release in 5 years.

I'm not going to say much here, because I've just finished my exams today, and I'm a bit worse for wear shall we say…

I'll just propose a question. With the separation between the legislator and the judicuary so important in the UK constitutional arrangment, does this signal a step too far by a politician, or is this indeed within John Reid's responsibilities (ie to question the sentencing of independant judges)?

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