Letter: Significant ruling on part-time work

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Sir: The Law Lords' decision on rights for part-time workers has been enthusiastically welcomed by those groups concerned with low pay and equal opportunities ('Law biased against part-time workers, Lords rules', 4 March). However, there is a wider political significance to the ruling which, to some extent, has been overlooked by media pundits. It underlines the need for the individual's rights to be written down, rather than relying on contentious and protracted judicial archaeology.

Labour is committed to introducing civil and political rights for all British citizens by incorporating into British law the European Convention on Human Rights. This will give individuals the basic freedoms of speech, association, privacy, etc.

We are now looking at a similar process for economic and social rights. This might be achieved by making the 1961 Council of Europe Social Charter (CESC) justiciable in the UK. This would give individuals the basic freedoms to fair treatment at work, adequate health and social provisions, etc, and provide a speedier remedy in British courts.

In addition, the 1996 Intergovernmental Conference will undoubtedly involve a wide-ranging debate on a European Bill of Rights and a European Constitution. All these developments will hasten the day when written rights will be understood by every British citizen and used to correct abuses promptly, rather than being lost in the private playground of lawyers and judges who may take years to conjure a 'final' decision.

Yours sincerely,


MP for Nottingham North (Lab)

House of Commons

London, SW1

4 March

The writer is the Labour Party Spokesman on Democracy and the Constitution.