Anger in Moray over plans to scrap the Human Rights Act

European Court of Human Rights
European Court of Human Rights

UK GOVERNMENT PLANS to scrap the Human Rights Act have been roundly condemned by Moray MP Angus Robertson.

The MP has said that he has already received a “wide range” of correspondence from his constituents over human rights issues, adding that he was “proud to represent” an area where so many people were showing high levels of concern for those whose rights are ignored or threatened.

Plans to scrap the Act looks set to be a controversial issue for the new Tory government, with indications that David Cameron could face a back bench rebellion over the issue. The Prime Minister has made the abolition of the 1998 Act a priority and it is widely expected it will be included in the forthcoming Queen’s Speech.

His plans to replace the Act with a British Bill of Rights was first announced at the Tory Party Conference last October and came after a long-running dispute with the European Court of Human Rights over the rights of prisoners to vote.

Mr Robertson said the move was intended to remove the important right of appeal to the European Court – and would “fragment the rights” that many people had fought hard to gain.

He added: “There are basic human rights that every individual should be able to expect from their governments and the society they live in.

“People have fought and died to gain such rights and we can be very proud that we have a very strong European Convention on Human Rights which has driven our own Human Rights Legislation.

“Scottish Government ministers, including our First Minister, have made it clear they fundamentally oppose this and we will be arguing very strongly against any watering down or scrapping of Human Rights Legislation in the Westminster Parliament as well.

“Like the First Minister I am appalled at the suggestion of removing people’s fundamental rights and I know that many people across Moray will share these concerns.”

As well as warnings from his own back benches the Prime Minister is facing criticism from Hugh Tomlinson QC, an expert on human rights law, who said the plan was “fraught with legal and political difficulties”.

Mr Tomlinson added: “Not only will ministers have to deal with domestic constitutional problems of scrapping the Human Rights Act which is incorporated into the Scotland Act and Good Friday Agreement but the international ramifications are also profound.”

A Ministry of Justice spokesperson said: “The Government was elected with a manifesto commitment to replace the Human Rights Act with a British Bill of Rights. Ministers will be discussing their plans and making announcements in due course.”