Charter of Fundamental Rights – Government Report

Part of European Union (Withdrawal) Bill – in the House of Commons at 3:00 pm on 21st November 2017.

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Photo of Dominic Raab Dominic Raab The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice 3:00 pm, 21st November 2017

I am going to make a bit of progress, but I will give way shortly.

Let me, again, be clear about what the Bill does. It takes a “snapshot” of substantive EU law, including the underlying fundamental rights and principles at the point of exit. It converts those into UK law, where they will sit alongside the Human Rights Act and other UK legislation on human rights. That is a crucial point. As my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Beaconsfield rather perceptively asked during debates on the Lisbon Treaty in 2008,

“Will the Lord Chancellor confirm that every country that is a member of the European Union is also a signatory of the European Convention on Human Rights? Indeed, I believe that every single one has incorporated it. In view of that, what is the purpose of the charter of fundamental rights?”—[Official Report, 5 February 2008;
Vol. 471, c. 804.]

During the same debate, my right hon. and learned Friend made the point, far better than I can—and I say this with all due deference—that the risk of adopting the charter was that it would, at least potentially, run into conflict with domestic human rights law, thereby creating at least the potential for legal confusion. This is the point that I want to make to my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Rushcliffe. If we incorporated or implemented the charter, we would in effect be triplicating human rights standards in UK law, opening up wide scope for uncertainty. My right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Beaconsfield was right about that then, and I think he is right about it now.