09 May 2016
The House of Lords’ EU Justice Committee today (09 May 2016) published a report on its inquiry into the government’s plans for a British Bill of Rights, warning that there is little justification for the change and that it poses a risk to the British constitution.
Creating a British Bill of Rights and pulling out of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) were promises made by the Conservative Party in its 2015 election manifesto.
However, publication of a Bill has been repeatedly delayed and there is suspicion it is being held back for use after the referendum in order to placate right-wing Brexiters should the public vote to stay in the EU.
Expanding for the first time on the government’s plans, the Secretary of State for Justice Michael Gove told the Committee that a significant purpose of the Bill will be to reaffirm that human rights “are fundamental British rights”. He explained that the ECHR is seen by some as a “foreign intervention”.
However, the Committee noted that there seemed to be no significant difference between the proposed contents of a British Bill of Rights and the ECHR, and the government seems to have retreated from its manifesto focus of permitting the easier deportation of foreign criminals.
“His evidence left us unsure why a British Bill of Rights was really necessary,” the report stated.
Furthermore, the Committee warned that devolved administrations are specifically opposed to the scrapping of the Human Rights Act – which the British Bill of Rights would replace – and that the government could be forced to impose the Bill on them without their consent. This, they warned could mean “unravelling the constitutional knitting for very little”.
But how would a British Bill of Rights affect workers? Find out as we call our own experts to the stand to perform a detailed scrutiny of the possible risks to unions, their members and the wider workforce. Our speakers at this Liverpool conference on May 19 will analyse recent developments in the human rights debate and take questions from delegates.
Our expert panel:
Jo Seery Thompsons Solicitors
Robert Knox University of Liverpool
Professor Keith Ewing IER and King’s College London
Hannah Reed TUC
Paul Draycott Doughty Street Chambers
David Whyte & Stefanie Khoury University of Liverpool
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