Scottish Government will block Human Rights Act repeal for the whole UK, says Nicola Sturgeon

The devolved administration says its consent is necessary for repeal

Jon Stone
Wednesday 23 September 2015 12:24
Nicola Sturgeon
Nicola Sturgeon

The Scottish Government will block the UK Government’s attempt to repeal the Human Rights Act for the whole of the UK, the country’s First Minister has said.

Nicola Sturgeon said it was “inconceivable” that her government would consent to any weakening of human rights anywhere in Britain.

The Scottish Government says the current devolution settlement embeds the European Convention on Human Rights alongside the Human Rights Act and that this would be impossible to unpick without consent from its devolved administration.

“Responsibility for the Human Rights Act rests solely with the Westminster parliament, but European Convention rights are embedded into the devolution settlement and human rights itself is a devolved issue,” she told an audience of civil organisations in Scotland today.

“That means that any attempt to repeal or amend the Human Rights Act is likely to require the legislative consent of the Scottish Parliament.

“It is inconceivable – given the breadth of the support which the Human Rights Act commands across the Scottish Parliament – that such consent would be granted. The Scottish Government will certainly advocate that it is not granted.

“The Scottish Government will also oppose any weakening of human rights protections – not just in Scotland, but across the whole of the UK. Human rights, after all, are not English, Scottish, Welsh or Northern Irish rights. They are universal rights."

Shami Chakrabarti, director of the civil liberties advocacy organisation Liberty, said Ms Sturgeon had shown “international leadership”.

In May Ms Sturgeon first said the Scottish Government would oppose the move over its own jurisdiction.

The Conservatives said in their general election manifesto that they would repeal the Human Rights Act and replace it with a ‘British Bill of Rights’.

The party says it wants British courts to be able to overrule the European Court of Human Rights, which currently has the final say on enforcing the European Convention of Human Rights.

Former education secretary Michael Gove has been appointed as Justice Secretary in David Cameron’s new Cabinet and will likely be involved with the policy’s delivery.

The Human Rights Act in its current form incorporates the ECHR into British domestic law and also requires all public bodies to abide by its rules.

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