Plans for British Bill of Rights to go ahead

Liz Truss

Plans to scrap the Human Rights Act and replace it with a “British Bill of Rights” are to go ahead according to Justice Secretary Liz Truss.

Ms Truss insisted it will be introduced amid speculation Theresa May’s Conservative government had “junked” the plans.

She told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “We are committed to that. It is a manifesto pledge. We are looking very closely at the details but we have a manifesto pledge to deliver that.”

Earlier this month, a source told The Times that Ms May had instructed Ms Truss to re-examine plans to repeal the HRA, championed by her predecessor, Michael Gove, and replace it with legislation meant to “restore common sense in the application of human rights in the UK”.

The source said: “The bill is ready but my hunch is that she might junk it. I think the priority for the justice department will be prison reform and she won’t want another fight with the Scottish government . I just don’t think the will is there to drive it through.”

In a damning report published in May this year, the House of Lords EU Justice Committee questioned the need for the British Bill of Rights, given its similarity to the Human Rights Act and European Convention on Human Rights, and warned that it may damage the UK’s international standing and cause “constitutional upheaval”.

The committee said the evidence it received makes “a forceful case” for the government to think again on the policy.

Baroness Kennedy of the Shaws, chairman of the committee, said: “Many witnesses thought that restricting the scope of the Human Rights Act would lead to an increase in reliance on the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights in UK courts, which has stronger enforcement mechanisms. This seemed to be a perverse consequence of a Bill of Rights intended to give human rights greater UK identity.

“We heard evidence that the devolved administrations have serious concerns about the plans to repeal the Human Rights Act. If the devolved Parliaments withheld their consent to a British Bill of Rights it might very well end up as an English Bill of Rights, not something we think the government would want to see.

“The more evidence we heard on this issue the more convinced we became that the government should think again about its proposals for a British Bill of Rights. The time is now right for it to do so.”

Photo credit: UK government (OGL 2.0).

Share icon
Share this article: