POLITICS
10/06/2015 14:51 BST | Updated 22/06/2015 12:59 BST

Petition For A Human Rights Act Referendum Has Got 200,000 Signatures And Counting

The Conservative government has no right to scrap The Human Rights Act and the matter must be decided by the British population, according to hundreds of thousands of people who have signed a petition calling for a referendum on the issue.

The controversial Tory plans may have been dropped from the Queen's Speech last month, but more than 200,000 opponents definitely haven't forgotten that the party is still planning to axe the legislation next year.

A petition on Change.org calling on David Cameron to hold a referendum on whether the UK should keep the Act has drawn 236,327 signatures, and is still growing.

It says that the Tories have no right to "carve up" the UK people's rights, as the party has a small majority in parliament, and most of the UK population is unaware of the "fundamental" change to their liberties that scrapping the Act would entail.

david cameron

The PM's plans to scrap the Act are delayed but not forgotten

It calls on Cameron to arrange a referendum to allow the people of the UK to decide whether to give Tories "permission" to remove the Act.

Petition organiser Marc Chudley demands a referendum to "provide national scrutiny and informed debate" on the Tory plans, which few people "are aware of and even less understand."

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Removing the Act - which the Tories plan to replace with a 'British Bill of Rights' - would remove key rights from the UK, the petition claims.

To change the law in such a major way can only be legitimate if decided through a referendum, it adds.

The petition states:

The Government believes that a majority of 12 seats, a 37 % share of the vote and with just 25 % of the electorate voting for the Conservatives, that this some how gives them a mandate to remove these fundamental rights that protect us all.

We disagree. With such an important change to our rights and our freedoms, this should be a matter decided by the people in a national referendum.

The question should request us to give our permission to the government, to abolish the act and remove these rights; it should also provide us the opportunity to vote on any proposed alternative.

The petition was started in May, when it was thought that the Tories would do away with the Act in The Queen's speech.

In fact, the Government backed off introducing a new British 'Bill of Rights' in this year's Speech, amid fears of backbench rebellion. A government source said that it would be “odd if we did not consult widely”.

A Ministry of Justice spokesperson told The Huffington Post UK: "This Government was elected with a mandate to reform and modernise the UK human rights framework. The UK has a proud tradition of respect for human rights which long pre-dates the Human Rights Act 1998. But the Human Rights Act opened the system to abuse, damaging the credibility of human rights.

"That's why we will bring forward proposals for a British Bill of Rights. Our Bill will protect fundamental human rights, but also prevent their abuse and restore some common sense to the system. We will widely consult on our proposals before introducing legislation."

The plans, which campaigners fear will result in the UK pulling out of the European Convention on Human Rights, are not now expected to be introduced until next year.

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