A “British Bill of Rights”: Michael Gove’s view

Today, the House of Lords Constitution Committee took evidence from Michael Gove, Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice. Following are a few bullet-points on the proposed “British Bill of Rights”:

  • The forthcoming consultation on a “British Bill of Rights“ would consist of several open-ended questions and was currently in circulation among officials, prior to publication in the New Year.

  • The consultation would include, at the particular request of the Prime Minister, a look at the issue of an ultimate “backstop” court and whether or not the Supreme Court should be that body – though whether or not UKSC should, in fact, be the ultimate “backstop” was an enormously complex issue on which the Government had to tread carefully.
  • The Government was trying to create a framework that would have the widest possible support.
  • He suggested that the “good name” of human rights had been tarnished and, in answer to a question from Lord Lester, said that the aim of the consultation was to strengthen human rights, not to weaken them: he was clear that the new “British Bill of Rights” would strengthen rights of minorities but would not protect those whom he described as “unmeritorious”.
  • The rights enshrined in the ECHR were admirable but their enforcement inevitably varied between states parties of the Council of Europe; for example, it would be possible for the UK to be more specific about the right to trial by jury and the value of freedom of speech.
  • No new legislation would be introduced in the meantime to resolve the political standoff between Parliament and the ECtHR over prisoners’ voting rights; and any parliamentary vote on the issue would be after the consultation had been published.
  • Parliamentary sovereignty had been more important for human rights than any other institution he could think of.
  • It was an open question as to whether or not the Sewel Convention would apply to the Bill.

You can watch the proceedings here.

Cite this article as: Frank Cranmer, "A “British Bill of Rights”: Michael Gove’s view" in Law & Religion UK, 2 December 2015, https://lawandreligionuk.com/2015/12/02/a-british-bill-of-rights-michael-goves-view/

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