Rt Revd James JonesBishop‘s LodgeWoolton ParkLiverpoolL25 6DT
11th February 2011
I listened to your interview on Radio 4 on Thursday 10th Feb about
I think you rather missed the main issue, which isn‘t whetherprisoners should be allowed to vote or not, but who should decide.
The Charter of Human Rights was a faux de mieux invented by MrsEleanor Roosevelt at the end of the last war to be imposed on theshattered countries of continental Europe. It was imposed, and this isvital to understand, because hardly any of those countries in Europehad any tradition of democracy. Nearly all had been under variousforms of totalitarian rule, whether monarchist, presidential orideological. Further, nearly every country had, and still has, a legalsystem based on Corpus Juris (sometimes known as Code Napoleon).Corpus Juris originates from totalitarian rule and views the citizenas subservient to the State: thus in a court of law an accused personhas to prove their innocence - their judge is also their prosecutorand defence lawyers are never allowed to become prosecutors or judges.There is no jury system as understood in the UK (the judge directs thejury to a verdict - the judge is not impartial, he is part of theprosecution). Thus some protection of individual liberty had to beimposed.
The situation in the UK was and is quite different. From kingAlfred‘s establishment of Common Law and the jury system, throughMagna Carta, Habeus Corpus and the Bill of Rights, the people of thiscountry, through their elected representatives in Parliament, decidethe Law and then it is the duty of the judiciary to administer it. Ifa law seems bad to the people then the law can be changed byParliament. The system of British Law enshrines all the ideas of HumanRights by default: a British citizen is free to do as he or she chosesunless it is contrary to the law of the land. This is not true underCorpus Juris nor even the CHR. There, only what is expressly permittedis allowed. Britain should never have signed up to the CHR as it isnot required in this country.
Parliament is sovereign with regard to what constitutes Law in the UK.Indeed you and I have assented to this, as Anglicans in holy orders:both by our assenting to the 39 Articles (in particular Article 37)and by our oath of allegiance.
That a Parliament agreed to sign up to the CHR is irrelevant:Parliament can equally decide to revoke that agreement (no Parliamentmay bind its successors) - indeed I believe it should do so as soon aspossible.
Laws must not be imposed on this country from outside by people whohave never been elected or appointed by Parliament. That is the roadto totalitarianism.
A word about this famous ECHR. It is made up of superannuatedplacemen and bureaucrats, many of whom have no experience ofjurisprudence and hardly any the slightest understanding of UK law.There are, for example, judges from Russia in the ECHR. The countriesof Europe may bow to it if they wish, but the peoples of thosecountries have never been consulted about it.
Regarding prisoners‘ votes. In this country we do not (yet) haveprisoners of conscience - unlike not a few European countries -therefore the issue does not even arise. As David Davis MP quiteneatly put it, ”Those who break the law cannot be allowed to make thelaw.•
When a prisoner is released they may of course use their vote.
Yours faithfully,--Rev Philip Foster MA 1 Barnfield, Common Lane, Hemingford Abbots,Cambridgeshire PE28 9AX 01480 399098 Also SMP Ltd.
"In politics, stupidity is not a handicap." Napoleon Bonaparte (1769-1821),
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