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Last Updated: Sunday, 25 June 2006, 11:52 GMT 12:52 UK
Cameron 'could scrap' rights act
David Cameron
Mr Cameron said he would set up a panel to review the act

The Conservatives would consider getting rid of the Human Rights Act and replacing it with a British Bill of Rights, leader David Cameron has said.

In an interview for BBC One's Sunday AM, Mr Cameron said the Act hindered the fight on crime and terrorism.

A US-style bill of rights would outline the rights of citizens, while the Human Rights Act incorporates European rules into British law.

Lord Chancellor Lord Falconer said Mr Cameron's plans were "unworkable".

The Conservatives have long-pledged to look at the 1998 Human Rights Act, which incorporated the European Convention on Human Rights into UK law.

During the 2005 general election campaign, former leader Michael Howard pledged he would revise or scrap the act if elected, claiming prisoners' rights were being put before those of victims.

'Common sense'

Mr Cameron made clear he was not proposing to withdraw from the convention or stop people pursuing cases at the European Court of Human Rights.

But he said a panel of lawyers and constitutional experts would be set up to examine the issue to ascertain whether a bill of rights could be given legal status instead.

Why not try and write our own British bill of rights and responsibilities, clearly and precisely into law
David Cameron

Tony Blair has recently indicated he wants to see whether new laws are needed to tackle the issue of courts using human rights laws to over-rule the government.

Mr Cameron said the existing law had "actually hindered" the fight against crime.

He said: "It's stopped us responding properly in terms of terrorism, particularly in terms of deporting those who may do us harm in this country - and at the same time, it hasn't really protected our human rights."

He added: "Why not try and write our own British bill of rights and responsibilities, clearly and precisely into law, so we can have human rights with common sense?"

'Recipe for confusion'

"That would be a constructive way forward."

Lord Falconer said: "We won't repeal the Human Rights Act and we won't leave the Convention.

"The Convention sets out basic human rights which we helped write 50 years ago.

"If we remain in the Convention and have our own separate Bill of Rights, as David Cameron suggests, we will have to comply with the Convention's rights and Cameron's new rights. It's a recipe for confusion, not clarity."

Mr Cameron also suggested the Bill of Rights could be exempt from the provisions of Parliament Acts, meaning any changes would have to be voted on by both Houses of Parliament and not just the government in power.

Liberal Democrat Shadow constitutional affairs secretary Simon Hughes gave a tentative welcome to the Conservative leader's call.

Lord Tebbit
Lord Tebbit expressed concerns over the plan

"The Liberal Democrats and many others have campaigned for years for a British Bill of Rights and a written British constitution.

"But David Cameron should not imply that we could give up being party to the European Convention on Human Rights, which is as much a product of British law as any other.

"Human rights are vital for all of us, not just for the prisoner and defendant, but for the parent, the child and the business person."

Tebbit 'worry'

Former Conservative chairman Lord Tebbit also expressed doubts about Mr Cameron's proposals.

He told Sunday AM: "I worry when he says things like bringing in a new British Bill of Human Rights, abolishing the Human Rights Act, but staying in the European Convention.

"That would mean that people would find the law would be different - British law and European law.

Mr Cameron also told Sunday AM there was a "strong case" for an early general election if Mr Blair stepped down long before completing his third term.

Tory pledge on Human Rights Act
12 May 06 |  UK Politics
Tories to review Human Rights Act
23 Aug 04 |  UK Politics


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