33. Letter from Michael Wills MP,
Minister of State, Ministry of Justice
As you know, in July last year the Prime Minister
announced the publication of The Governance of Britain Green Paper,
which set out the Government's programme for Constitutional change
and signalled our intention to consult on a Rights and Duties.
Both he and Jack Straw confirmed the planned publication of a
Green Paper on the subject at separate events on 25 October.
Since then, we have been working within the
Ministry of Justice to draft a paper which will set rights and
responsibilities in context, both historical and philosophical,
and will ask a range of questions about content, process and outcomes.
The paper will not be prescriptive. It is our
intention to carry out a thorough consultation process going,
we hope, far beyond the views of constitutional experts, from
whom we are already seeking advice. A key aim of the public engagement
process will be to target those harder-to-reach constituencies
who stand to benefit most from our work.
The responses we anticipate receiving are very
much in line with those you are likely to receive from your own
enquiry presaged in your call for evidence by way of Press Notice
No. 38 of Session 2006-07 A BRITISH BILL OF RIGHTS.
Our preparations for the Green Paper have reached
the stage of inter-Departmental discussions, which we hope to
have completed shortly. We also await Lord Goldsmith's report
to the Prime Minister on his citizenship enquiry, the outcomes
of which we would expect to inform our paper.
We want to work as closely as may be with everyone
who has an interest in this matter. It is not a proper subject
for "quick wins" or party based spinning. Indeed, we
expect the results of this exercise to last well into the future.
If that is to be the case, we would hope to take opposition parties
with us and we will endeavour to do that as the process goes on.
Meanwhile, it would be most helpful to know
the timetable for your own enquiry. I will happily come to give
oral evidence if invited in due course, but would very much like
to be able to take advantage of your final report as an important
source of wisdom on the topic, whether or not it comes in time
for the eventual publication of the Green Paper, scheduled for
sometime in the first part of this year.
24 January 2008