Saturday, 21 March 2009

More Human Rights?

The Times reports that Jack Straw, Justice Secretary, is due to unveil new 'human rights' tomorrow which the article states "critics fear could lead to a massive and costly expansion of the welfare state." The article further reports "He will suggest that new entitlements such as rights to good healthcare, education and freedom from poverty could be added to traditional freedoms such as trial by jury and free speech." An accompanying 'comment' piece from Straw's deputy, Michael Wills the Justice Minister, is so contradictory in content that it becomes laughable, as does Straw's new 'human rights'.

Surely we already have the right of good healthcare, education and freedom from poverty - its called 'a standard of living' - and we hardly need this specified in a new document, the result of which will be yet more layers of quangocrats to ensure it happens. To talk about 'traditional freedoms such as trial by jury and free speech' is but just words as such freedoms, it can be argued, are exactly those which this government has done it best to eradicate. New articles in the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU) - Articles 82 & 83 - allow the EU to set common rules concerning legal procedures in criminal cases. There is also provision for EU rules to cover 'any other specific aspects' of legal procedure if EU leaders so decide. 'Any other specific aspects' would allow, for instance, suspension of trial by jury and the substitution of the continental Napoleonic system of justice. This government has also shown that whilst we are supposed to have 'free speech', it is only a form of free speech that they permit.

In his commentry piece Michael Wills even manages to include a mention of 'climate change', which is hardly surprising. He talks about "acting, at the same time, to strengthen communities' and individuals' sense of their stake in society," In fact, the creation of Multi-Area Agreements - courtesy of Hazel Blears - removes 'an individuals sense of their stake in society' from the individual with the creation of another tier of quangocrats! Such a move is hardly "redistributing power away from local authorities."

Acknowledging that there is a call to scrap the Human Rights Act, Michael Wills writes "you run the risk of destroying such freedoms and limiting the ability of the courts to interpret European judgments for British circumstances." That, Mr. Wills, is exactly the point - whilst also stating "that parliament remains the most appropriate forum for making politically sensitive decisions" he fails to acknowledge that he has been party to the process by which parliament no longer has the ability to govern this country and underlines that statement by his use of the words 'interpret European judgements'.

To talk about " It's more than 300 years since this country last had a Bill of Rights. It has served us well but it is time to explore whether we need a new one." fails to acknowledge either that it is Michael Wills and the government of which he is a member that is the cause of the need to explore whether we need a new Bill of Rights.

The 'devil will be in the detail', so it will be interesting to see what our 'font of wisdom' - misnomer for Jack Straw - actually outlines in this Green Paper. If this report is accurate then it does not seem there will be much logic used, when read in conjunction with the article by Michael Wills.

1 comment:

Jock Coats said...

One might hope that a "right to good healthcare, education and freedom from poverty" means that they acknowledge that the state has, after sixty years, still not been able to provide that and are about to let the market work to improve the situation.

Then again, praps not.

Besides, all of these are already in the UDHR and, as far as I understand if not explicitly in the ECHR, then as signatories to the former they are already "human rights" anyway.