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2. The History of Rights Protection in the UK
About this Lecture
In this module, we think about the history of rights protection in the United Kingdom, focusing in particular on: (i) the fact that the UK has no single codified constitution, but instead relies on a range of different sources of law; (ii) the hierarchy of these sources of law, including (at the top) Acts of Parliament; (iii) the extent to which the concept of the ‘sovereignty of Parliament’ weakens rights protections in the UK; (iv) some of the key Acts of Parliament that have shaped rights protections – Magna Carta (first agreed to in 1215, but became part of English law in 1297), the Habeas Corpus Act 1679, the Bill of Rights 1688, the Human Rights Act 1998, and the Constitutional Reform Act 2005; (v) international sources of law, e.g. those derived from the European Union, the European Convention on Human Rights, etc.; (vi) common law (in England, Wales, Northern Ireland and the UK as a whole, but not in Scotland), i.e. the fact that judges can develop law in their own rulings; and (vii) the impact on events on how we think about rights protections, e.g. terrorism, cyber-crime.
In this course, Dr Matthew Williams (University of Oxford) explores the development of civil liberties and human rights protection in the UK through the question ‘Civil liberties and human rights have been eroded in recent years. Discuss.’ In the first module, we introduce the question itself and think about some of the things to think about when answering any essay question of this kind. In the second module, we think about the history of rights protection in the UK from Magna Carta onwards, before turning in the third and fourth modules to four substantive areas of law in which human rights and civil liberties have arguably been ‘eroded’ – national security, criminal justice, the right to protest, and data protection. In the fifth module, we think about how procedural changes have impacted human rights and civil liberties protections, in particular some of the procedures laid out by the Human Rights Act (1998), before turning in the sixth and final module to consider the potential impact of Brexit on human rights and civil liberties protection in the UK.
Dr Matthew Williams is Access and Career Development Fellow at Jesus College, Oxford. His research focuses on the the language of politics, especially how the language of legislation has changed over the previous century. His recent publications include How Language Works in Politics: The Impact of Vague Legislation on Policy (2018).
Cite this Lecture
Williams, M. (2020, December 30). UK Politics – Civil Liberties and Human Rights - The History of Rights Protection in the UK [Video]. MASSOLIT. https://massolit.io/courses/uk-politics-civil-liberties-and-human-rights/the-history-of-rights-protection-in-the-uk
Williams, M. "UK Politics – Civil Liberties and Human Rights – The History of Rights Protection in the UK." MASSOLIT, uploaded by MASSOLIT, 30 Dec 2020, https://massolit.io/courses/uk-politics-civil-liberties-and-human-rights/the-history-of-rights-protection-in-the-uk