Front Page Titles (by Subject) Should Britain Have a Bill of Rights? - Literature of Liberty, July/September 1979, vol. 2, No. 3
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Should Britain Have a Bill of Rights? - Leonard P. Liggio, Literature of Liberty, July/September 1979, vol. 2, No. 3 
Literature of Liberty: A Review of Contemporary Liberal Thought was published first by the Cato Institute (1978-1979) and later by the Institute for Humane Studies (1980-1982) under the editorial direction of Leonard P. Liggio.
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Should Britain Have a Bill of Rights?
“Some Reflections on Civil Liberty in the English Legal System.” American Business Law Journal 7 (Spring 1979): 1–19.
Many American lawyers find it difficult to understand how the British legal system manages to defend civil liberties without a written constitution or Bill of Rights. How could one possibly reverse executive maneuvers or repressive legislation passed by Parliament? The English system does harbor numerous difficulties in defending civil liberties. Varied arguments exist for and against the adoption of a Bill of Rights in the United Kingdom.
Mr. Levenson begins by cataloguing the strategems employed by the British executive in order to circumvent Parliament's supremacy in government. Such ploys have often endangered civil rights in Great Britain. One such maneuver involves creating a climate of hysteria by which the government can secure the agreement of both the House of Commons and Lords to deal with all stages of a bill in one sitting and with no amendments. In such a climate of panic, repressively inclined laws like the Official Secrets Act (1911), the Prevention of Violence Act (1939), and the Prevention of Terrorism Act (1974) were enacted within hours of being introduced.
Another favorite device of the executive is to issue Departmental Circulars which ostensibly establish mere administrative policy. These Circulars are not subject to debate in Parliament, do not enjoy the force of law, and are not binding in the courts. Nonetheless, such directives constitutes a legal precedent which is not easily overturned. For example, the limits of police power and the rights of suspects have been defined by a Home Office Circular called the Judge's Rules and Administrative Directions to the Police. Following the issuance of this directive, complaints to the Home Office concerning the admission of illegal evidence in court have often received the bland reply that all suspects are protected by the Judge's Rules. No further investigation ensues.
British performance in due-process measure up poorly against Herbert Packer's four standards for adequately rendered criminal justice: (1) the absence of ex post facto laws, (2) the uniform application of criminal law to all segments of the population, (3) specified limits on the powers of the government to investigate and apprehend suspected criminals, and (4) the presentation of adequate proofs of guilt. Levinson cites celebrated and uncorrected violations of each of these standards. In his view, Great Britain's often cavalier attitude toward civil liberties accounts for her very poor showing in cases brought before the European Human Rights Tribunal.
The question then arises whether civil liberties would be better protected if the United Kingdom enacted a Bill of Rights. Such a proposal has been brought forth both by those concerned with due-process freedom of speech, etc. and by those seeking to protect private property against the ravages of further socialist legislation. It has been further suggested that Britain enact either the United States Charter or the European Convention on Human Rights as a symbol of her commitment to civil liberties on a national as well as international level.
Opponents have pointed out that both these documents have proven inadequate to the task of defending freedom in many areas of human activity. A Bill of Rights would, in addition, constitute a broad grant of power to British judges, who would impose their often narrow, class-oriented views on the whole of the nation. Also, the Bill of Rights might be subject to continual and, at times, arbitrary manipulations by Parliament, rendering it worthless as a legal instrument.
Mr. Levenson concludes that, despite the abuses he enumerates, a Bill of Rights would have a minimal impact on civil liberties in the UNITED Kingdom.