chapter  8
A Bill of Rights for the United Kingdom? Nicola Lacey
Pages 10

Anyone thinking about the issue of whether the United Kingdom should adopt a Bill of Rights, giving legal force to a set of funda­ mental human freedoms, is confronted at the outset with a paradox. The paradox lies in the fact that some of the groups which one would expect to have most to gain from this development — disadvantaged groups such as ethnic and religious minorities and women - seem to place so little faith in it. Perhaps this is because of doubts about the utility of exploiting a legal system which seems generally so effectively to protect the vested interests of those who already hold political power. Indeed, the Labour Party, which champions the cause of minority groups in the political arena, has rejected the idea of a new constitutional settlement entrenching a charter of basic human rights. The position in Britain, of course, contrasts sharply with that in the United States, where, for example, members of the black community have made substantial gains, such as in breaking down racial segregation of public facilities, both by exploiting the legislative process and by claiming their constitutional rights in the courts.