The Queen’s Speech and Human Rights

The HRCS is committed to working with members and supporters over the coming months to defend and promote the Human Rights Act (HRA) which the UK Government condemns as having “damaging effects”.

The media headlines have focused on the positive which is that “My Government will bring forward proposals for a British Bill of Rights”.  On the face of it that could lead to an interesting debate about adding economic and social right to the current ECHR rights which focus on civil and political rights.  The HRA gives the ECHR domestic effect across the UK.

However in the Queen’s Speech Briefing Pack (page 75), available on the Ministry of Justice website, it states:

“The Government will bring forward proposals for a Bill of Rights to replace the Human Rights Act.   This would reform and modernise our human rights legal framework and restore common sense to the application of human rights laws, which has been undermined by the damaging effects of Labour’s Human Rights Act. It would also protect existing rights, which are an essential part of a modern, democratic society, and better protect against abuse of the system and misuse of human rights laws.”

Focusing on ‘problems’ rather than the positive gains that the HRA has made to public services sends out a clear message that the UK Government may adopt the ‘pick and mix’ approach to human rights whereby some people get some rights and some people get all rights.  Yet the whole point of international and European human rights law is that rights are equally accessible to all, designed to protect the weak and the vulnerable as well as the general public.

The HRCS is holding a meeting on Monday 1st June to discuss co-ordinated action to defend and promote the HRA for everyone in Scotland.  Speakers will include Kevin Hanratty from the Northern Ireland Human Rights Consortium.  The meeting will take place from 2pm – 4pm in the STUC, 333 Woodlands Road, Glasgow, G3 6NG.

This meeting will be particularly useful for organisations that wish to make their voices heard on the future protection and promotion of human rights in the UK. Please register for this free event at https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/save-the-human-rights-act-tickets-16934512583