Rushing the Rights Hurdle

The NIO [man with a hundred job titles – Ed] Human Rights Minister David Hanson has announced a short period of consultation on the remit and membership of a Bill of Rights Forum. Make that very short. You have until 28th November to respond. Consultation document here[pdf file] The first meeting is already scheduled to take place on 11th December. Interestingly the document refers to the recent agreement in the Preparation for Government Committee and the report it produced.. although that report hit a last minute snag.. The Forum though was mentioned in Annex B of the Agreement that wasn’t an Agreement[pdf file], along with some other measures no doubt soon to be announced.The terms of reference for the Forum for consultation are to be as follows

Remit, procedures and timescale

7. The role of the Forum will be to inform the work of the NIHRC in fulfilling its statutory duty to provide its advice to Government. Specifically,
building on the consultation that has already taken place with and between the political parties and other interested organisations and groups, the Forum will give the parties and other representatives of civic society the opportunity to consider the structure and content of a Bill of Rights. To that end, the Government proposes that the terms of reference of the Forum should be:

“To produce agreed recommendations to inform the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission’s advice to Government on the scope for defining, in Westminster legislation, rights supplementary to those in the European Convention on Human Rights, to reflect the particular circumstances of Northern Ireland, drawing as appropriate on international instruments and experience.”

8. The Government intends that it should be for the Forum itself to decide on the procedures it will follow in producing agreed recommendations. However, given the recent agreement in the Preparation for Government Committee on the principle of a Bill of Rights, and the long-standing duty on the NIHRC, the Government considers that it would be right to set a timescale for the Forum’s work, so that the NIHRC can then proceed with its advice to Government. The Government proposes that the Forum should produce its final agreed recommendations by 30 September 2007. The Forum will be provided with adequate financial and staff resources to complete its work within this timescale.

Our particular circumstances… lovely..