Scottish and Welsh governments slam UK proposal to scrap Human Rights Act
The UK Government’s plan to replace the Human Rights Act with a Bill of Rights is an “ideologically motivated attack on the freedoms and liberties” it protects, the Scottish and Welsh governments have said.
In a joint statement, the two devolved administrations said the proposals were “unwelcome and unnecessary”.
They have urged the UK Government to retain the Human Rights Act.
It follows UK justice secretary Dominic Raab launching a consultation on the Act’s replacement last week.
In the foreword, Raab said the proposals “reflect the government’s enduring commitment to liberty under the rule of law”.
He added: “We intend to revise and reform the flaws we have identified, and replace the Human Rights Act with a modern Bill of Rights, one which reinforces our freedoms under the rule of law, but also provides a clearer demarcation of the separation of powers between the courts and Parliament.”
Raab said the views of each of the devolved administrations would be sought as part of the consultation process.
But Scottish and Welsh ministers have said they have “grave and deep-seated concerns” about scrapping the Act.
The joint statement, signed by equalities minister Christina McKelvie on behalf of the Scottish Government, said: “The Independent Human Rights Act Review concluded there was no good case for making significant changes to the Act as it currently exists based on the extensive evidence it received from some of the United Kingdom’s most eminent legal experts.
“Disregarding that weight of evidence and expertise to press ahead with these plans can only be interpreted as an ideologically motivated attack on the freedoms and liberties protected by the Human Rights Act.
“The proposals for a ‘modern Bill of Rights’ are both unwelcome and unnecessary. We are very clear that the interests of people in Scotland and Wales are best protected by retaining the Human Rights Act in its current form.”
The Conservative Party has a long-standing commitment to scrapping the Act but moves to do so have previously been met with concerns it would weaken human rights protections.
The role of the European Court of Human Rights was a key flashpoint in the Brexit debate.
The UK Government’s consultation says it will “continue to respect” obligations within the European Convention on Human Rights.
But it also says the UK will “support further reforms” to both the Court and the Convention.