The Coalition is making a clear effort to end what it sees as an era of very interventionist government. And the restoration of civil liberties is prominently on the agenda. But what is conspicuously no longer on the agenda - at least in the immediate future - is any attempt to replace the Human Rights Act 1998 with a so-called British Bill of Rights.
This proposal was based on the manifesto pledge made by the largest party within the Coalition to 'protect our freedoms from state encroachment and encourage greater social responsibility'. In fact, the Political Reform Draft Structural Reform Plan states that the creation of a British Bill of Rights is now no more than an 'ongoing' policy.
It may be that the Human Rights Act is now safe because compromise is the nature of Coalition government. However, an alternative possibility is that the original policy has been quietly shelved, or in any event redefined to the point of being significantly different, because it has been overwhelmed by further consideration and better argument.
As we reported in the first edition of Coalition Watch, it is likely that the repeal of the Human Rights Act would have little practical effect on the law. Moreover, many prominent lawyers - most notably Lord Hope, Deputy President of the Supreme Court, taking the unusual step of speaking extra-judicially about a piece of legislation that is politically contentious - have publically come out in favour of retention of the Act.
If the Act is retained, or in any event if its provisions are simply reproduced in the proposed British Bill of Rights, it will no doubt come as a disappointment to many who might have thought they were voting for something different. Perhaps that is why, for the time being, the issue has been quietly dispatched into the (at least) medium length grass.
Regardless of whether the current policy is born of compromise or deliberation; the Commission investigating the creation of a Bill of Rights can only make proposals consistent with the European Convention on Human Rights. This must severely limit the role that such a Bill could play in changing the United Kingdom constitution.