Following the Law Lords’ ruling today that the Human Rights Act does not apply to elderly people whose places in private care homes are funded by local councils, the Director of Unlock Democracy makes the same call as the Shadow Attorney General in the current issue of The Difference, for a modern, British Bill of Rights:
“The Human Rights Act was an excellent first step towards introducing full guarantees of human rights into the UK constitution. However, the legislation itself is weak, narrow in scope and widespread public ignorance means that it is vulnerable to distorting attacks by the press and irresponsible politicians. There is a growing sense that the Human Right Act is about protecting criminals and not the public as a whole. This is mistaken and needs to be addressed urgently.
“The UK deserves a full Bill of Rights, entrenched in a codified constitution, of which the public has ownership. The public should decide what goes in it, and it should be ratified by a referendum. We shouldn’t have to depend on politicians and lawyers to protect our most basic liberties.
“Gordon Brown has been keen to talk about the need for a public debate on British values, but what good are these if they are not justiciable? He has a real opportunity to turn rhetoric into action when he becomes Prime Minister next week, and should do so.”