Saturday, August 13, 2005

Blair is Not Taking Rights Seriously

Tony Blair is willing to jettison the few good things he has done in his first term as prime minister. Back then, he firmly believed in the crucial importance of the modernisation of constitutional institutions. The Human Rights Act 1998, and the Devolution act were acts of a great constitutional importance, possibly the main achievement of the labour government.

But recently, Tony held fiercely: 'Now the rules of the game are changing,!' meaning that rights protection would be lowered in favour of security controls. What was then the point of 'entrenching' a bill of rights, when after less than 5 years (it only started being implemented in 2000) it is set aside very easily.

Maybe few of you recall how intense was the debate following the enactment of the HRA 98. Many rights advocates complaint that the HRA 98 was only a statute as any other open to revision by parliament at any time, or simple implied repeal if posterior statutes were contrary to the HRA 98. Lord Chancellor Irvine of Lairg spent a lot of time and energy explaining that the HRA 98 was a special act, which could not be impliedly repealed because it would govern the interpretation of any posterior acts.

Rights in 1998 seemed to be the new labour constellation. Nowadays, in Blair's words, as a cumbersome obstacle on the way to justice and security. This is regrettable. What is worse, is that Tony did not learn from the very lesson he wanted to teach in 1998. And the change is for the worse, he shows once more that he just belongs to the 3Bs' family: Bush, Berlusconi and Blair.

1 comment:

ken said...

The Problem with the hierarchy of statutes argument is that the The Human Rights Act 1998 itself could be repealing other statutes impliedly, such as the Bill of Rights, which also falls into this category, according to other judges. If there is such a thing as an act of Parliament that cannot be changed or repealed by a subsequent act, then you have undermined the concept of Parliamentary supremacy and the understanding that one government cannot bind a following Parliament in any way.

I do not belive the HR 98 did state that it was changing the Bill of rights so if you argue now that the HR 98 cannot be repealed you must also be arguing that it is itself illegal.

The Lord Chancellor`s argument that The Human Rights Act 1998 cannot be repealed by implication, does not mean that it cannot be repealed or change by Parliament.

To answer your question what is the point of entrenching the act if it is subsequently changed, must be obvious, it is not working it is binding the government, it is clear that the government cannot have both The Human Rights Act and the freedom to make any laws it wishes.