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Human Rights Act 1998 (Amendment)

Volume 698: debated on Tuesday 29 June 2021

The Government have established the independent Human Rights Act review to examine the framework of the Act, how it is operating in practice and whether any change is required. The review is considering the approach taken by our domestic courts to the jurisprudence of the European Court of Human Rights and whether the HRA currently strikes the correct balance between the roles of the courts, the Government and this place. The report, due this summer, will be published, as will the Government’s response.

Given this Tory Government’s track record of either not consulting or railroading changes without consultation, will the Secretary of State confirm that any proposals to amend the Human Rights Act will be subject to a full public consultation lasting at least three months?

The hon. Lady will be glad to know that a wholly independent review reflecting opinion from right across the United Kingdom and beyond was set up and will report in due course. Then, no doubt, there will be a consultation on those issues ahead of any legislative change that the Government might introduce to this place.

This week, the UN’s special rapporteur for human rights said that the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill, the Covert Human Intelligence Sources (Criminal Conduct) Act 2021 and the judicial review Bill will all make human rights violations more likely to occur. The Lord Chancellor will be aware of his special responsibilities to defend human rights both in his Department and across Government. As his two-year anniversary as Lord Chancellor arrives next month—I congratulate him on that—will he consider starting to do that part of his job? How will he respond to the UN special rapporteur’s assessment?

I am grateful to the right hon. Gentleman for his kind words. With respect to the special rapporteur, I would strongly argue that in everything we do and say in this place and in Government, the necessary checks and balances are carried out to ensure that the human rights that he and I believe in are preserved. I can think of no better example than the Bill currently before the House with regard to the duties that the police will have on the need to balance freedom of expression and the rights of other people. That is a balancing exercise at all times, and I will discharge my duties in the way that I believe I have for the past two years.