JUSTICE briefing for House of Lords debate on impact of Human Rights Act 1998

JUSTICE briefed House of Lords peers ahead of their debate on Thursday 14 July 2022 on the impact of the Human Rights Act 1998. The debate inevitably also addressed the Government’s proposals to repeal the Human Rights Act, through their Bill of Rights Bill. There was consensus from across the house at the debate that the Human Rights Act was working well and that the Government’s proposals were ill-thought out and could reduce domestic rights protections.

JUSTICE’s briefing emphasised the following:

  1. That the Human Rights Act 1998 is a well-crafted piece of legislation that protects both the rights of individuals and Parliamentary sovereignty. Our independent panel found that the legislation was working well. The Human Rights Act has empowered thousands of individuals to enforce their rights in domestic courts. It has allowed the victims of serious crime, vulnerable medical patients and Windrush victims to achieve justice.
  2. That the Government’s Bill of Rights Bill is a fundamentally flawed piece of legislation that will weaken domestic rights protection, undermine legal certainty and put the UK on a collision course with our international obligations under the European Convention on Human Rights. It will lead to more cases being heard against the UK at the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg, lead to years of unnecessary domestic litigation and undermine our devolved settlements and the Good Friday Agreement. There is a lack of evidence for the proposed legislation and the Government have sought to limit scrutiny of such a fundamental constitutional change. 
  3. The Salisbury Convention does not apply to the Bill of Rights Bill. The 2019 Conservative manifesto only committed to an ‘update’ of the Human Rights Act rather than a complete overhaul and fundamental repeal. The independent report of Sir Peter Gross, commissioned by the Government to fulfil their manifesto commitment, has been completely ignored. The House of Lords should feel able constitutionally to reject the proposed legislation.

JUSTICE will continue to work on a cross-party basis to make the case for the Human Rights Act and to oppose the Government’s divisive Bill of Rights Bill, which will weaken domestic rights protections, undermine the Good Friday Agreement and put the UK on a completely unnecessary collision course with our obligations under the ECHR.

Read our briefing here.

Read the debate.