I hear what the noble Baroness says. All I would say is that by ensuring that we incorporate things into UK law, we then have an opportunity, democratically and in an accountable fashion, to make modifications as may be necessary. The danger is that we will throw out babies with bathwater.
Again, the Government have stated that the removal of the European Charter of Fundamental Rights from UK law,
“will not affect the substantive rights from which individuals already benefit in the UK”.
The White Paper notes that many of the rights protected in the charter are also found in UN and other international treaties that the UK has ratified, including the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. However, in a centralised context there is no specific statutory provision requiring respect for children’s rights in lawmaking, nor a general requirement to safeguard and promote the welfare of children in the UK.
Furthermore, this particular argument has a specific Welsh angle. Stronger protection for children’s rights exists in the devolved nations, specifically in Wales. The Rights of Children and Young Persons (Wales) Measure 2011 imposes a duty on Ministers to have due regard to children’s rights as expressed in the UNCRC when exercising any of their functions. To achieve that obligation, since 2012 the Welsh Government routinely undertake child right impact assessments on proposals for Welsh law or policy that will affect children directly or indirectly.
The withdrawal Bill will limit the scope of the devolved nations to alter law within the current devolution settlement and brings competence on matters that have been arranged under EU law back to Westminster. This would prevent the devolved nations from exercising their powers to withstand or amend legislation from Westminster, even where this contradicts their own commitments to children’s rights. I submit the amendment to the Committee as a contribution to the debate on these most important considerations.