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Human Rights Claims

Volume 570: debated on Tuesday 12 November 2013

As my hon. Friend knows, we continue to implement the work completed in the Brighton declaration, but he is aware that, as a party, the Conservatives are considering further measures that we would introduce as a majority Government to reduce the scope of the Court in Strasbourg to impose unwelcome judgments upon us.

After Qatada and prisoner voting, the latest ruling from Strasbourg demands that all lifers have the chance to be released. Does he agree that that latest shifting of the human rights goalposts offends the rule of law, erodes democratic accountability and only strengthens the case for that overhaul of our relationship with the Strasbourg Court?

I very much agree with my hon. Friend. The decision on whole-life tariffs was entirely regrettable and should not have been taken, and certainly not at the level of an international court. I assure him and all colleagues that the decision simply redoubles my determination to deliver a strategy, which I will do next year, for our party to go into the next general election with a clear plan for change.

On 4 November in the Chamber, the Home Secretary said that we should consider replacing the Human Rights Act 1998 with a British Bill of Rights. Given that the relevant commission reported to the Secretary of State last December, when can we expect draft legislation to abolish the Act in this Parliament?

I can give my hon. Friend an assurance that we will publish proposals for change in the new year, and they will include a replacement to Labour’s Human Rights Act 1998. I can also assure him that we, as a party, will publish a draft Bill later next year. Whether the coalition and this Parliament will choose to accept such a Bill, or whether it needs to wait for a majority Conservative Government, is something I suspect we will discover then.