Leaving the EU: Human Rights

Oral Answers to Questions — Justice – in the House of Commons at 11:35 am on 25th April 2017.

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Photo of Carol Monaghan Carol Monaghan Shadow SNP Westminster Group Leader (Public Services and Education) 11:35 am, 25th April 2017

If the Government will take steps to ensure that any provisions proposing changes to human rights protection in UK law which result from the UK leaving the EU are laid before Parliament for scrutiny.

Photo of Carol Monaghan Carol Monaghan Shadow SNP Westminster Group Leader (Public Services and Education)

Amnesty International, Liberty and other human rights groups have raised the issue of diminished human rights protection as a result of the great repeal Bill and the Government’s plans to correct the statute book through secondary legislation. Will the Minister provide more detail on the extent of these correction powers and whether the changes will include human rights protections?

Photo of Oliver Heald Oliver Heald The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice

As the hon. Lady will know, I cannot make any announcements today because of purdah, but what I can say is that, as I explained in giving evidence to two Select Committees, it is not our intention to have any gaps in our human rights protections.

Photo of Desmond Swayne Desmond Swayne Conservative, New Forest West

Why is it reasonable to expect our justices to be any less creative than European ones?

Photo of Oliver Heald Oliver Heald The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice

We do want a British jurisprudence, and that is what we will have following Brexit. Human rights were not invented with the Human Rights Act; this country has been a leading pioneer in human rights since its first gasps of breath as a nation, so there is no reason for us to think that we will not continue to express our values.

Photo of Greg Mulholland Greg Mulholland Liberal Democrat, Leeds North West

Why are the Government continuing to confuse and, indeed, deceive people by suggesting that the European convention on human rights is anything to do with the EU? It was signed up to by nations that had just come together after the most disastrous war in our history, and it was supported by Winston Churchill. Why can the Minister not support it?

Photo of Oliver Heald Oliver Heald The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice

I have always tried to uphold the vision expressed by Sir Winston Churchill in his great speech at the Place Kléber, when he spoke up for the need for human rights across Europe, and, of course, he did not mean the EU.