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Parliament and Human Rights in the UK: Two Years On

Speakers: Jean Corston, MP; David Feldman; Francesca Klug
Chair: Professor Conor Gearty
November 2002

Click here to download Francesca Klug's address| (PDF)

Two years on, the Human Rights Act is already a well-established part of Britain's ever changing constitution. The primary guardian of the spirit of the Act is Parliament's Joint Committee on Human Rights. But has the Act fulfilled the expectations of those who promised a new 'culture of rights' in this country? Has the legislation empowered politicians as well as lawyers? Does the Human Rights Act improve or undermine Britain's parliamentary democracy?

Jean Corston MP is the first Chair of the Joint Committee on Human Rights of the House of Lords and the House of Commons, set up following the Human Rights Act 1998. In the session 2001-2002 the Committee published 20 reports. Jean Corston was first elected MP for Bristol East in 1992 and  is currently also the elected Chair of the Parliamentary Labour Party. She read Law at LSE as a mature student in the 1980s and briefly lectured there before becoming a barrister in Bristol.

David Feldman, BCL, MA, FRSA, has been Legal Adviser to the Joint Committee on Human Rights in the Houses of Parliament and Professor of Law in the University of Birmingham since 2000, and will become an international judge (part-time) of the Constitutional Court of the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina with effect from the autumn of 2002. Professor Feldman has published extensively, particularly in the fields of constitutional and administrative law, criminal procedure, and human rights. His latest book is Civil Liberties and Human Rights in England and Wales (Oxford: Clarendon Press,  1993; 2nd edn 2002).

Francesca Klug is a senior research fellow at the London School of Economics' Centre for the Study of Human Rights and is a Visiting Professor at the University of North London. She is also academic director of the Human Rights Act Research Project. Francesca was one of the driving forces behind the UK's Human Rights Act, working with politicians and civil servants to develop a model for incorporating the European Convention on Human Rights into UK. law. She was a member of the Government's Human Rights Task force and is a former Director of the Civil Liberties Trust. She was awarded an OBE for services to human rights and civil justice in the 2002 new year's honours list.

Francesca is the author of Values for a Godless Age, the story of the UK's new bill of rights, published by Penguin in October 2000, and has contributed to, or co-authored, numerous other publications.

Conor Gearty is Professor of Human Rights Law and Rausing Director of the Centre for the Study of Human Rights. Formerly at Cambridge and King's College London, he has written extensively on civil liberties, human rights and terrorism.

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