HEFFER'S CHARTER OF HUMAN RIGHTS; as an Arsonist Is Granted the 'Human Right' to Carry a Cigarette Lighter, a Mail Writer Tries to Redress the Balance

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NO INDUSTRY in our country has grown more in the past few years than that aimed at securing our 'human rights'. A vast amount of public money is spent, usually entirely unproductively, on preventing common-sense laws and regulations from being imposed because they conflict with a largely foreign, and entirely abstract, concept of what these 'rights' should be.

Human rights laws came into being after World War II, and were aimed at preventing horrific crimes such as the murder under Hitler of millions of Jews.

Now, enshrined in British law under the Human Rights Act of 1998, they are being grotesquely abused for such trivial matters as allowing prisoners access to pornography while in jail or protecting the 'rights' of a convicted arsonist to carry a cigarette lighter in public.

This week came the most absurd case yet when a teenage thug, who had been ordered to stop wearing a hooded top as part of a crackdown on street crime in Portsmouth, successfully challenged the ruling on the grounds that it breached his right to 'personal development'.

Never mind that the boy had been waging a campaign of terror on the community, or that trials have shown that in areas where a ban on 'hoodies' has been implemented, levels of petty crime have fallen by more than 20 per cent. In our topsy-turvy legal system, it was the young offender's human rights that took priority.

Meanwhile the wishes of the majority are overlooked by a Government that lacks the will to challenge such ludicrous cases.

Honest, decent and law-abiding citizens deserve better. So here is my proposal for a new charter of Human Rights which, unlike so many modern rulings, would actually make life better in Britain, while punishing those who abuse our liberties.

THE RIGHT to keep at least three-quarters of what we earn.

THE RIGHT to hear non-regional accents on Radio 4 occasionally.

THE RIGHT to celebrate our own history and traditions, even those that reflect our Christian heritage.

THE RIGHT not to be represented in any institution, forum or other body by Peter Mandelson.

THE RIGHT to go out on a Friday evening without being attacked, screamed at or vomited over.

THE RIGHT to expect our welfare state to look after only those truly in need, and not to waste funds on those who will not help themselves.

THE RIGHT of the public to know where their Prime Minister is going on holiday and at whose expense.

THE RIGHT to restrict entry to our country to those we choose to invite here.

THE RIGHT to expect those who are allowed to settle in our country to live by our laws and customs.

THE RIGHT to retain the pound sterling.

THE RIGHT to have the telephone answered by a human being when you ring a public body or a big private corporation.

THE RIGHT to a bed in a single-sex ward.

THE RIGHT to sit quietly in a public place, without having other people's mobile telephone conversations inflicted upon you.

THE RIGHT of the English to opt out of rule by Scots.

THE RIGHT to expect John Prescott to appear on television only with the aid of subtitles. …