European Union (Withdrawal) Bill - Committee (2nd Day) (Continued)

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 10:15 pm on 26th February 2018.

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Photo of Lord Goldsmith Lord Goldsmith Labour 10:15 pm, 26th February 2018

The noble and learned Lord knows that I took Article 1 as an example only because it is the very first article in the charter. I have respectfully invited noble Lords to look at the Joint Committee on Human Rights report, where the committee goes through each of the articles and through what the Government have said in relation to them, and identifies where they find place already in existing, enforceable UK law, and where they do not. It is where they do not that we are concerned with, and where they do not that there will be the very gap that the Prime Minister has said should not exist.

There is the further problem that, even if the rights survive, they will survive without the enhanced status and protection that they currently have. They have an enhanced status at the moment because of the 1972 Act and because of EU membership, but from the date of this Act they will only survive in a delegated form and be amendable by delegated legislation. They are not protected from being amended or removed by delegated legislation.

Compare the position in relation to the ECHR and the Human Rights Act. The Bill says in three places—in Clauses 7(7)(e), 8(3)(d) and 9(3)(d)—that the Human Rights Act is protected from amendment or revocation. The classic civil and political rights, but no more, which are, rightly, protected by the HRA, are protected from being amended other than by primary legislation to which this House and the other place have specifically agreed after proper scrutiny. However, none of the rights underlying the charter will be protected in that way, unless they find themselves within the ECHR, which is only some of them. That is unacceptable for many people.