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European Convention On Human Rights

Volume 984: debated on Thursday 8 May 1980

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asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department what is the judicial status in British domestic law of the European Convention on Human Rights, ratified by the United Kingdom on 8 May 1951; and whether the efficacy of the provisions of that convention would be enhanced by their incorporation into statute law.

The provisions of an agreement between the United Kingdom and other sovereign States do not ordinarily have legal force in the domestic legal systems of this country except to the extent that they are embodied in United Kingdom legislation. There is no such legislation embodying the European Convention on Human Rights. The extent to which United Kingdom courts have regard to the Convention was examined in a Home Office memorandum submitted in June 1977 to the Select Committee of another place on a Bill of Rights. The memorandum, a copy of which I am sending to my hon. Friend, was published by the Select Committee with its Minutes of Evidence—HL 81 of 1977–1978, pages 84–86. The possible advantages and disadvantages of a Bill of Rights, which might embody the convention in our domestic law, have been a matter of public debate for some years and were considered in a discussion document " Legislation on Human Rights" published by the last Government in 1976 and in the Select Committee's report—HL 176 of 1977–1978. As we made clear in the manifesto, the Government intend at a suitable time to propose all-party talks about a possible Bill of Rights.