The former appeal judge who led a government-commissioned review of the Human Rights Act has told MPs he does not consider that the government’s consultation on reforming the 1998 legislation reflects his report.
Appearing before the House of Commons justice select committee today, Sir Peter Gross QC was asked by Bob Neill MP whether he characterised the government’s consultation paper, Human Rights Act Reform: a Modern Bill of Rights, as a response to his report.
‘No,’ Gross replied. ‘We knew that the current lord chancellor intended to go wider than our report. He was very courteous and fair in telling us that. What we didn’t know was that it wasn’t going to be what I would call a "response of document". The best way I can put it is, if you compare this document to the response to the Faulks IRAL review [Independent Review of Administrative Law], you could put Faulks down and put the response next to it, and you could run the one into the other. You can’t with this. In short form, you can’t put ours down here, put the government’s consultation down there, and say the two work together.’
Asked by Labour’s Diane Abbott if he was expecting a response, Gross said: ‘We were, but I don’t think we are.’
At the end of the session, Neill asked if there was anything missing from the government's document that Gross wanted to see.
Gross replied that the government said nothing about the margin of appreciation or dialogue with Strasbourg. The government had not explained 'where it differs from us its reaction to the width and depth of the views which informed our deliberations. Those are just some of the gaps'.
Lord chancellor Dominic Raab declared at last year's Conservative party conference that the government would overhaul the Human Rights Act before the next general election.