Britain Needs a Bill of Rights for the Individual and the Country
Telegraph View: We understand the concern for civil liberties expressed by those who favour retaining the Human Rights Act. But it is far too open to abuse, and it is time to repatriate legal authorityThis week will presage the first serious domestic test for the new Conservative Government. The Queen’s Speech will include a proposal to scrap the Human Rights Act and replace it with a British Bill of Rights. For some this represents an assault on the very principle of universal human rights. The Government, however, sees it as a repatriation of British legal authority. The man who has been appointed to make its argument is Michael Gove, formerly in charge of the education department and now the Justice Secretary. As one Tory put it, taking on this particular task “will make education reform look like child’s play”.
There are voices of scepticism to be found within Mr Gove’s own party – and a rebellion allied to the SNP, Lib Dems and Labour looms. As we report today, one member of the Government has threatened to resign. Speaking to this newspaper, senior Conservatives have said that they fear scrapping the Act might remove certain legal safeguards and send the message that Britain is somehow uninterested in the principle of human rights. These concerns are well motivated by people worried about the rights of their constituents.
Nevertheless, there is plainly something wrong with the Human Rights Act as it stands.