Conservative Manifesto: A British Bill of Rights?

24 April 2015 A manifesto pledge attracting much attention this election is the “British Bill of Rights” proposed by the Conservatives.

24 Apr 2015| News

24 April 2015

A manifesto pledge attracting much attention this election is the “British Bill of Rights” proposed by the Conservatives.

The bill is intended to replace the Human Rights Act 1998.

It would enable British Judges to ignore rulings by European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) and would undermine the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) – the international treaty first drafted in the post-war years to protect fundamental rights and freedoms.

Leading human rights lawyer Lord Pannick QC said the proposed withdrawal was using the ECHR as “a political tool to be manipulated for narrow and partisan advantage”. A flood of watchdogs and organisations have come out against the move, which despite government claims, is clearly intended to remove rather than strengthen civil liberties, to deregulate and remove health and safety and employment protections, among a host of other things.

The plan has been extensively critiqued by the Tories own Dominic Grieve, the former attorney-general who was shafted from government (along with fellow ECHR withdrawal skeptics Damien Green and Ken Clark) to clear the way for repeal of the HRA 1998. He said; “Such a course may be strictly lawful, but its practical consequences are likely to be as devastating both for ourselves domestically as it will be for the future of the convention.”

In a letter to the Guardian shadow justice secretary Sadiq Khan said; “Following the publication of their manifesto we now know that five more years of the Tories would mean the systematic dismantling of the postwar human rights system that has done so much to protect people’s basic rights here and across Europe. And on this erosion of civil liberties, as on so many other issues, the Liberal Democrats have proved themselves to be willing bedfellows, rather than the voice of “conscience” they claim to provide. The decimation of legal aid, curtailing of judicial review, gagging of charities – all have been signed off by Lib Dem ministers.”

The IER has published several articles by leading experts on what withdrawal from the ECHR would mean for employment rights and worker protections.

Article 4: Prohibition of slavery, servitude, forced and compulsory labour

Article 8: Right to respect for private and family life

Article 10: Right to freedom of expression

Article 14: Prohibition of discrimination

We are also holding a conference, Human Rights: Possibilities and Problems for Labour Law in London on 1 July 2015.