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Great Britain: Government Consultation on Possible Bill of Rights and Responsibilities

(Apr. 13, 2009) The British government has recently published a consultation paper on whether it should introduce a Bill of Rights and Responsibilities “to protect fundamental freedoms and foster mutual responsibility.” (Ministry of Justice, Rights and Responsibilities: Developing Our Constitutional Framework, Mar. 2009, available at http://www.justice.gov.uk/publications/docs/rights-responsibilities.pdf.) In its current version, the Bill of Rights and Responsibilities includes provisions on health care, victims' rights, and equality. There is reportedly some concern within the Executive that the Bill of Rights and Responsibilities would swing the balance of power towards the judiciary. At one point there was even open hostility expressed by Cabinet members towards the judiciary, when they were determining incompatibilities between the legislation and the European Convention on Human Rights. (Id.; Rights Bill Is Branded 'Hot Air,' BBC NEWS, Mar. 25, 2009, available at http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/politics/7959471.stm.)