Slipping new "rights" in under the radar
Within the next couple of months, Jack Straw will outline the Government's plans for a new Bill of Rights and Responsibilities.
Will this legislation, if enacted, give "practical effect to our common values", as the Lord Chancellor suggested in a speech this week? Or will it just be a lot of hot air, unenforceable in the courts and designed simply to wrongfoot the Tories?....
...Mr Straw's Bill of Rights will probably not give us any rights at all - or, at least, not the sort of rights you can enforce in court.
Instead, he is thinking of including economic and social rights in his Bill - benefits payments, the minimum wage, and so on. These are already legally enforceable, as Mr Straw pointed out. "But," he stressed, "we would have to look very carefully before making any further economic or social rights justiciable."..Even so, Mr Straw insisted, "this would not in any way make the exercise worthless". A Bill of Rights was "a combination of law, symbolism and aspiration"...."There is a continuum," Mr Straw said. "And it is entirely consistent that some broad declarative principles can be underpinned by statute. Where we end up on this continuum needs to be the subject of the widest debate."
So you want the widest debate about a weasel worded bill which you claim will confer no new legally enforcible rights, but just enshrine "feel-good" sentiments into law. OK here it is: you are a duplicitous shyster - you know lawyers and judges will pick up these aspirations and create new "rights", creating the laws you would like to see but daren't present to public and parliamentary scrutiny.