‘Amending’ Human Rights Act is for the UK Gov, not the Senedd, says Tory Minister
A Tory minister has said that amending the Human Rights Act “is for the UK Government”, not the Senedd.
The Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice, Dominic Raab, has launched a consultation on overhauling the Act and replacing it with a Bill of Rights.
He said “Human Rights Act is UK-wide legislation”. The UK Government has said it would “consult” the devolved governments, but Plaid Cymru MP Liz Saville Roberts has suggested that it “means a tick-box exercise”.
She said that Wales has “developed a distinct body of law” in the area as a result of the Government of Wales Act, which gave the Senedd responsibility for observing “obligations under the Human Rights Convention” and asked the Conservative minister how the consultation would not “undermine the Senedd’s ability to protect and promote human rights in Wales.”
Rabb replied that he looks forward to “proving her cynicism wrong” and that the UK Government does “respect” that “devolved Administrations can legislate on human rights in areas”.
Liz Saville Roberts said: “Diolch yn fawr iawn, Mr Llefarydd. During the course of devolution, Wales has developed a distinct body of law, which safeguards specific rights arising from international law, including the rights of children and older people.
“Schedule 7A of the Government of Wales Act 2006 makes it clear that ‘observing and implementing international obligations and obligations under the Human Rights Convention’ are the responsibility of our Senedd.
“In Wales, we learn fast. We learn that, for this Government, the word ‘consult’ means a tick-box exercise. I therefore ask the Secretary of State how the proposed consultation on the UK’s international human rights obligations will not undermine the Senedd’s ability to protect and promote human rights in Wales.”
Dominic Raab replied: “We will consult not only the devolved Administrations, but practitioners, academics and civil society in all the devolved nations.
“As I mentioned earlier, the Human Rights Act is UK-wide legislation and its enactment is protected under the devolution settlement. Amending it is for the UK Government.
“However, we also recognise that devolved Administrations can legislate on human rights in areas that remain devolved competences. That is the position. We respect it and I look forward to consulting the right hon. Lady and proving her cynicism wrong.”