Bill of Rights: JCHR call to ensure Scotland's voice is fully heard

Date: 2nd February 2016
Category: General measures of implementation, Scotland-specific monitoring and reporting

Following a meeting with Together and the Children's Commissioner on 14th January 2016, the Joint Committee on Human Rights wrote to the Secretary of State for Justice Michael Gove, seeking assurance that the consultation period for the Government's proposals to repeal the Human Rights Act and replace it with a revised Bill of Rights will not overlap with the dissolution of the Scottish Parliament and pre-election purdah period for the Scottish Government.

Whilst meeting the Joint Committee on Human Rights (JCHR), Together was clear that the devolved nations should be fully involved and consulted in any forthcoming proposals on a Bill of Rights, and that such consultation needs to be ongoing, meaningful and robust.

Together confirmed that no further information had been received regarding a UK consultation since the visit of Dominic Raab MP to Scotland in November 2015.

The letter sent from the JCHR to the Secretary of State for Justice Michael Gove MP followed a visit by the JCHR to Edinburgh, when they also met with the Scottish Human Rights Commission and the Scottish Parliament European and External Relations Committee.

The letter notes Michael Gove's previous promise to JCHR to engage with the devolved administrations and consult with all citizens of the United Kingdom, and seeks assurance that no part of the consultation period will overlap with purdah/dissolution. The JCHR letter further notes that this will be a matter of importance not only for Scotland but also for Wales and Northern Ireland.

The current session of the Scottish Parliament will end at midnight on 23rd March 2016: Dissolution and purdah will begin immediately after that on 24th March 2016. The Scottish Parliament and its committees will be unable to contribute to the consultation once dissolved. The Scottish Parliament elections will take place on 5th May 2016.

On 26th January 2016, Harriet Harman MP (Chair of JCHR) asked for assurance from Dominic Raab MP that the Government would not 'squash out' Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland in the consultation to repeal the Human Rights Act.

Harriet Harman MP tweeted: Govt musn't gag Scotland, Wales & N Ireland in consultation to scrap #HRA - my PQ @UKParlJCHR

During the questions received by UK Justice officials in the House of Commons, Dominic Raab MP stated that a British Bill of Rights consultation will be published "in the near future". Find out more here.

Together will keep members informed on the proposals to repeal the Human Rights Act and a forthcoming consultation on a UK Bill of Rights as soon as we receive any updates.