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Human Rights

Volume 622: debated on Thursday 9 March 2017

8. What steps he is taking to ensure that maintaining human rights protections is included in negotiations on the UK leaving the EU. (909144)

The UK has a long-standing tradition of ensuring that our rights and traditional liberties are protected domestically and of fulfilling our international human rights obligations. The decision to leave the European Union does not change any of that. That is the approach we will take as we enter negotiations, and I can confirm that the Government have no plans to withdraw from the European convention on human rights.

Given that answer, will the Secretary of State set out a full and detailed list of all fundamental rights currently guaranteed under EU law and what approach the Government intend to take towards them?

We will be putting the great repeal Bill in front of the House at some point in the near future. That will carry into British law the existing law of the European Union and the case law that goes with it. But British human rights have not depended on the European Union; they have been intrinsic to our history and our tradition, and we—I most of all—will continue to defend them.

I very much welcome what the Secretary of State said about the Council of Europe and the European Court of Human Rights. With that in mind, will he consider giving his support to a fourth summit of the Council of Europe to look at the way forward for the Council and how human rights could be strengthened through the European Court of Human Rights?

The right hon. Lady knows about my ongoing passion for human rights. That is the first I have heard of a proposal for a fourth summit, but I will certainly look at it. She can guess what my sentiments will be.

Is it not a human right to have some certainty about the future? Is the Secretary of State not aware of how many talented, hard-working and entrepreneurial people who have come to this country have no idea whether they can stay here? The Government are now demanding that to be able to stay, people must have full health insurance for life.

Order. I am not sure whether we should have all these hairist remarks—they are rather unseemly. The hon. Member for Huddersfield (Mr Sheerman) is a distinguished senior statesman in the House.

As I was saying, Mr Speaker, I am not sure whether certainty about the future is a human right, and I am certainly not sure whether the House would necessarily extend it to the hon. Gentleman. The simple truth is that we have a large group of people—some of them European citizens and some of them British citizens abroad—to whom we want to give certainty across the board about their right to remain, their right to healthcare, their right to welfare, and so on. I have now seen, one way or another, representatives of around half the member states, and it is plain to me that they all treat this issue seriously and want to see it dealt with early in the negotiations. That is the Government’s policy—to ensure certainty for everybody.