Letters: Constitutional change for a better life

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The Independent Online
Sir: John Major rejects the need for a Bill of Rights for the UK because it "would diminish Parliament's historic role as the defender of individual freedoms" (leading article; "Major launches a defence of the indefensible", 27 June).

However, the principle of parliamentary sovereignty does not in and of itself necessarily protect human rights. Of the findings of violations by the European Court of Human Rights against the UK, over three quarters have resulted from legislation passed through Parliament. Parliament is allowing laws to take effect which, at the same time as breaching our international obligations, also fall below the minimum acceptable standard of human rights.

Rather than diminishing the role of Parliament, a Bill of Rights would have the opposite effect. On incorporation of a Bill of Rights, it would become incumbent on Members to ensure that proposed policy and legislation conforms to its minimum standards. As such the process of legislative scrutiny by MPs would be greatly enhanced. An incorporated Bill of Rights should mean that policy is less likely to become law which could undermine guaranteed rights and freedoms.

Its effective implementation, with accompanying reforms to the parliamentary process, should, contrary to popular myth, reduce judicial activism and not increase it.


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