“In my view, the obligation imposed upon the Attorney-General and his response or lack of it to that obligation, can properly be described as a part of the proceedings in Parliament and therefore encompassed by Article 9 of the Bill of Rights 1688. … In the end it seems to me that the most significant aspect of this case is the fact that the prime safeguard upon which the plaintiffs rely, that of the obligation on the Attorney-General to report, is in my view a procedural consideration designed to ensure that Members of Parliament are fully aware of the consequences of the passing of a particular Bill as proposed. Members of Parliament are there as representatives of the community at large and in the absence of some entrenched Constitutional provision, it seems to me that the Court would be usurping the authority of the legislature if it endeavoured to substitute its own opinion of the legislation proposed.”
That said, I've always been attracted to the reform of the section 7 reporting role. I think it's one of the most important aspects of the Bill of Rights. I think we could semi-entrench the Bill of Rights by, in part, mandating the present constitutional dialogue model.
1. Legislation which is inconsistent with the Bill of Rights which has previously been reported to Parliament before it was passed is protected by section 4 and cannot be overturned.
2a. Legislation which is inconsistent with the Bill of Rights which has not previously been reported to Parliament can be subject to a declaration of inconsistency.
2b. The declaration is automatically suspended for, say, 6 months for Parliament to consider it.
2c. If Parliament subsequently endorse the inconsistency, then the legislation is protected by section 4 and cannot be overturned.
2c. If Parliament fails to endorse the inconsistency, then the legislation is not protected by section 4 and can be quashed (in the same manner as in jurisdictions with fully entrenched bills of rights).
The underlying principle is that Parliament ought to expressly consider and endorse non-compliance with the Bill of Rights. If it does though, then the legislation should prevail.