As announced in Her Majesty’s Gracious Speech, the Government will replace the Human Rights Act 1998 with a Bill of Rights to be introduced in this parliamentary Session.
Will the Secretary of State follow last year’s recommendation of the Joint Committee on Human Rights and ensure that there are no changes to the Human Rights Act—the provisions of which are embedded in the Scotland Act 1998—without the consent of the devolved Administrations? If that consent is withheld and his Government unpick the Act unilaterally on behalf of the four UK nations, what message does he think it will send to citizens across the devolved nations?
I thank the hon. Lady. As she knows, we will assess the question of the applicability of the Sewel convention, quite rightly, when the full Bill of Rights text is provided. This reform will strengthen free speech, but curb the ability of, for example, criminals to take advantage of and abuse the system. I believe that that will be welcomed in all four nations.
Does my right hon. Friend agree that reform of our human rights framework will help to prevent foreign national offenders from avoiding deportation and help to restore some public confidence in our human rights legislation?
My hon. Friend is right. The still high volume—around 70%—of successful challenges, on human rights grounds, of deportation orders by foreign national offenders is on article 8 grounds. That is exactly the kind of thing that our reforms will address and the public across the UK will welcome.
Thank you again, Mr Speaker. The Human Rights Act 1998 has become a cornerstone of justice and democracy in the United Kingdom. It is pivotal legislation not to be tinkered with lightly. Given that cross-party MPs have today found that the now Justice Secretary presided over a
“disaster and a betrayal of our allies”
“a lack of seriousness, grip or leadership at a time of national emergency.”
in relation to Afghanistan, I have to ask in all seriousness why he should be allowed anywhere near such fundamental legislation and indeed why he is in ministerial office at all.