Prior to the 2015 general election, the Conservative Party undertook in its manifesto to repeal the Human Rights Act 1998 and to enact a British Bill of Rights. In this video, Mark Elliott addresses three key questions raised by these proposals.

First, what lies behind the desire of some politicians to secure the Human Rights Act’s repeal? Second, how might a British Bill of Rights differ from the present legislation? And, third, what constitutional obstacles might lie in the way of the implementation of these reforms?

In relation to the last of those three issues, the argument is developed that although the UK Parliament has the legal power to legislate for the proposed changes, the increasingly multi-layered nature of the British constitution limits Parliament’s capacity to exploit its sovereign legislative authority. In particular, the constraining effects of international law - in the form of the European Convention on Human Rights - and the devolved nature of the modern British constitution are likely to limit the UK Government’s room for manoeuvre. As a result, it is likely to be difficult to deliver upon the manifesto commitments that were made in a legally coherent and constitutionally legitimate manner.

Dr Mark Elliott is a Reader in Public Law at the University of Cambridge and a Fellow of St Catharine's College. His main research interests are in the fields of constitutional and administrative law. Dr Elliott's recent publications include Elliott and Thomas, Public Law (2nd ed OUP 2014); Elliott, Beatson, Matthews and Elliott's Administrative Law: Text and Materials (OUP 2011, 4th edition); and Forsyth, Elliott, Jhaveri, Scully-Hill and Ramsden (eds), Effective Judicial Review: A Cornerstone of Good Governance (OUP 2010). Dr Elliott was the 2011 Legal Research Foundation Visiting Scholar at The University of Auckland, New Zealand. In 2010, he was awarded a University of Cambridge Pilkington Prize for excellence in University teaching. He writes a blog which includes information for people applying, or thinking of applying, to study Law at university.

For more information about Dr Elliott, you can also refer to his Faculty profile.

Law in Focus is a series of short videos featuring academics from the University of Cambridge Faculty of Law, addressing legal issues in current affairs and the news. These issues are examples of the many which challenge researchers and students studying undergraduate and postgraduate law at the Faculty. Law in Focus is available on YouTube, or to subscribe to in iTunes U.

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