Amendment 150

Part of Victims and Prisoners Bill - Report (4th Day) (Continued) – in the House of Lords at 8:45 pm on 21 May 2024.

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Photo of Lord Ponsonby of Shulbrede Lord Ponsonby of Shulbrede Shadow Spokesperson (Justice), Shadow Spokesperson (Home Affairs) 8:45, 21 May 2024

My Lords, Section 3 of the Human Rights Act requires courts to interpret legislation compatibly with rights under the European Convention on Human Rights as far as is possible. Clauses 49 to 52 would disapply Section 3 to prisoners as a group when it comes to legislation about their release. It is disappointing to see this Government wasting parliamentary time and public money to remove human rights from prisoners.

There is no evidence of the Human Rights Act 1998 limiting the Parole Board from making decisions about prisoners. These clauses appear to be trying to solve a problem that does not exist, while the Government ignore the many critical problems across our criminal justice system. We in the Labour Party are proud that it was a Labour Government who brought about the Human Rights Act in 1998, and a future Labour Government will continue to be a bastion of justice and hope, unlike this current Government, who cannot bring themselves to focus on the real issues affecting the public.

The noble Lord, Lord Marks, and my noble friend Lady Lister spoke about the lack of support from the Labour Party if he were to press this matter to a vote. He said—I wrote it down—that he thought this was “a sad portent for the future”. That is a harsh interpretation of our stance. I have just reiterated our commitment to the Human Rights Act. We would not have chosen to support him if he had pressed the matter, but the statement I have read out reaffirms the Labour Party’s commitment to the Human Rights Act. Having said that, I think the noble Lord, Lord Pannick, has put his finger on the central question. If the Government see no diminution of the Human Rights Act, why are they disapplying Section 3 within this Bill? Do they believe that it would breach the Human Rights Act if they failed to disapply the Act in this case?