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Delegating Rights ProtectionThe Rise of Bills of Rights in the Westminster World$
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David Erdos

Print publication date: 2010

Print ISBN-13: 9780199557769

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199557769.001.0001

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The United Kingdom and the Human Rights Act (1998)

The United Kingdom and the Human Rights Act (1998)

(p.106) 7 The United Kingdom and the Human Rights Act (1998)
Delegating Rights Protection

David Erdos (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

This chapter examines the socio‐politics of bill of rights debates and outcomes in the United Kingdom including, in particular, the origins of the Human Rights Act (HRA) (1998). Following a brief chronological overview, the first part of the chapter explores the forces which have fuelled the gradually increased background pressures for a bill of rights. Since the 1960s, a postmaterialist rights lobby of civil libertarians and social equality seekers not only emerged politically but came to advocate for a bill of rights. The United Kingdom's participation in the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) also encouraged and shaped the domestic formalization of rights, particularly as instantiated in the HRA. The second part of the chapter explores the much more sporadic nature of elite political interest in a bill of rights. Focusing on the genesis of the HRA, it argues that this was politically triggered by Labour and the left's ‘aversive’ reaction against the perceived authoritarianism of Margaret Thatcher's Conservative Administration. The chapter closes with a brief consideration of the prospects of a fully indigenous British bill of rights designed either to complement or replace the HRA.

Keywords:   Human Rights Act, aversive constitutionalism, Margaret Thatcher, British bill of rights, postmaterialism, National Council for Civil Liberties, Charter 88, European Convention on Human Rights

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