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Human Rights Act

Volume 616: debated on Tuesday 1 November 2016

5. What recent progress has been made on the Government’s plans to replace the Human Rights Act 1998. (906942)

This question is to be taken with No. 7. There is something missing from the right hon. and learned Gentleman’s briefing today.

I am so sorry, Mr Speaker. Perhaps with your leave I could also answer question 7 in the same way.

We are no closer to a timeframe, a plan or a common theme in regard to how the Human Rights Act is to be replaced. Earlier this year, Nils Muižnieks, the Council of Europe commissioner for human rights, said that the

“repeatedly delayed launch of the consultation process”


“creating an atmosphere of anxiety and concern in civil society and within the devolved administrations”.

Will the Minister tell us exactly when the consultation on this matter will be brought forward?

The Government were elected with a mandate to reform and modernise the UK human rights framework, and there are good reasons for that. We have a proud tradition in respect of human rights. The Government are also considering the overall constitutional landscape and how this will fit it following Brexit, but this is something that we are committed to.

The Council of Europe commissioner for human rights has also said of the consultation on the Human Rights Act:

“My impression is that the debate over the HRA in Westminster is not a true reflection of concerns outside England”.

Does the Minister appreciate that there is no support in Scotland for the plans, and that the impact of any attempt to repeal the Act would be to provoke a constitutional crisis?

The issue of human rights is important in all parts of the United Kingdom, and we accept that. We will fully engage with the devolved Administrations on this question. Many people feel that there is a need for a British jurisprudence to emerge on the European convention on human rights and a need to assert certain ancient rights that we have in Britain, such as that relating to jury trial.

I welcome that statement from my right hon. and learned Friend, but I urge him to look particularly hard at the military aspects. The efforts of those who currently risk their lives for us on operations are being overshadowed by what is going on with IHAT—the Iraq Historic Allegations Team—and the pursuit of human rights cases under British law by people who were our enemies.

My hon. Friend makes an important point. He will be aware of the announcement about derogation. Previously, there have been occasions when industrial-scale allegations could be made, many of which were later proved to be false, but that will change once the derogation process is in place.

It has been reported that 28 terrorists have used the Human Rights Act to avoid deportation—no doubt using legal aid as well. Is it not time to scrap the Act and to start thinking less about the human rights of terrorists and foreign-born criminals and more about the human rights of law-abiding members of the British public?

The House will be aware that there are concerns among the British public about the barriers to the deportation of criminals that should not have been there. There is also a need for British conditions and British jurisprudence in this area, something which the Conservative party has been calling for over many years and which the Government are alive to.