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By Ray Fleming

THE word from Westminster is that David Cameron intends to placate his extreme right-wingers by appointing a Commission to consider the establishment of a Bill of Rights. Britain has done very well, thank you, without such a thing for quite a long time but the cabinet has apparently been frightened into taking this action by the recent rulings of the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) on prisoners' rights to a vote and paediphiles' rights to appeal against a lifetime listing on the offenders' register.

The Court is an instrument of the Council of Europe whose concept Britain played a major part in defining during World War Two. By an act of the British Parliament UK judges are authorised to implement the provisions of the ECHR in British courts. Apart from these and other considerations, the former Law Lord, Lord Woolf pointed out recently that a Bill of Rights might not take precedence over the ECHR -- unless, that is, Britain decided to go the whole hog and opt out of the Council of Europe as well.

That would be a move to please many Conservative supporters, especially those who continue to think, or pretend, that the Court is a European Union institution, which it is not. In fact Its role extends to human rights issues in some 47 European countries, many of whose citizens have no other access to external judicial influence.