Letter published in The Guardian
28 Jun 2006
||Doc. No. 2006.024
CAMERON'S BILL OF RIGHTS PROPOSAL CRITICISED
Cameron’s Bill of Rights Proposal 2
You say that introducing Cameron’s entrenched
bill of rights would be “on a par with the
defeat of the divine right of kings in the 17th century” (Leader, June 27). Only this time it
would be the defeat of the people’s secular right of democracy in the 21st century.
that the Cameron bill of rights would be “entrenched against amendment or repeal
by the elected House of Commons”. So a drafting error in the bill could not be put right. A policy
mistake could not be corrected. A change in conditions requiring the bill’s updating could
not be dealt with. Above all, an unwanted judicial interpretation could not be overridden.
There’s the rub. As a constitutional and legislative
draftsman (and Conservative party member) I can say that any bill of rights has to consist
of very short, general paragraphs. The full legal
meaning of these is spelt out over time by unelected judges, who have a very free hand. They would
do the same to Cameron’s bill as they have with similar productions.
Cameron has spotted that
an entrenched bill of rights is popular with many on the left. He aims to spread confusion, and he
See also 2006.023 for Cameron’s
Bill of Rights Proposal 1