352. Many witnesses agreed that the starting
point for any discussion of a Bill of Rights should be that it
builds on and does not weaken existing human rights protection,
the process for discussing a Bill of Rights
should be clearly premised on the fact that the rights protected
by the Human Rights Act 1998 represent a non-negotiable baseline.
353. We were reassured by the Justice Secretary's
assurance that there would be no weakening of existing human rights
protection if there were to be a Bill of Rights.
consider that there are certain non-negotiables, such as this,
which the Government should set out at the start of the process.
We recommend that a set of guiding principles be drawn up to provide
a basis for the work of the body conducting the consultation,
and we suggest that they could say something along the following
lines (all considerations canvassed in this Report):
The guiding principles are that
any modern UK Bill of Rights must:
- Build on the
HRA without weakening its mechanisms in any way
- Supplement the protections in
- Be in accordance with universal
human rights standards
- Protect the weak and vulnerable
against the strong and powerful
- Be aspirational and forward-looking
- Apply to the whole of the UK
- Apply to all people within the
- Provide strong legal protection
for human rights
- Enhance the role of Parliament
in the protection of human rights.
354. Similarly, before the process
for public engagement starts, the Government should set out its
position on a range of key issues, as the state Government did
in Victoria, in order to be clear about what is realistically
achievable. Having concluded
the public engagement process, the independent body should publish
its recommendations to the Government. Following
the report of the independent body, it would be a matter for the
Government as to the next steps.