Clause 5

Part of Health and Social Care Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 12:30 pm on 15th January 2008.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Stephen O'Brien Stephen O'Brien Shadow Minister (Health) 12:30 pm, 15th January 2008

Indeed. Joined-up government is always a hope, and I, too, noticed what the Ministry of Justice said.

The matter must be considered in detail because, as the hon. Gentleman made clear, a lot of very important legal, conceptual and detailed drafting needs to be done when incorporating the Human Rights Act into legislation. The consequentials and complexities are extremely challenging, which is why we have said that the matter needs to be considered in Committee, for which this Bill seems to offer an ideal opportunity. That would forestall the inevitable delay before the Ministry of Justice produces a Green Paper and Bill to provide for the proposal before us. We hope, therefore, that the Government will consider the matter very carefully and provide some details for us to discuss.

Having said that, the hon. Gentleman will appreciate that—this is consistent with what we said during consideration of the private Member’s Bill that I just mentioned—although we are interested in, and sympathetic to, many of the concepts in his proposal, in the absence of detailed Committee consideration, it would be inappropriate to support his amendment to incorporate en bloc the Human Rights Act. That would have huge ramifications and present many complexities and challenges. However, I hope that he is successful in persuading the Minister to use this Bill as a great forerunner to the detailed debate required to deliver on his wholly laudable objectives.

At a personal level, I should add that it was the wonderful United Nations charter enshrining human rights that first led me to recognise that I had any political bones in my body, because it gave rise to, and was the provenance for, the wonderful organisation that is Amnesty International, to which I gave many years of dedicated work.