Lord chancellor Dominic Raab has said he is confident that his Bill of Rights bill will receive overwhelming support when it resumes its passage through parliament.
Raab was questioned in the House of Commons this morning on why he was introducing the bill, which will have its second reading 'shortly', given widespread criticism of the measure.
He told the House of Commons that there were ‘some well-known differences of opinion, but I will confidently predict that at second reading the Bill of Rights will have overwhelming support in this house’.
Scottish National Party MP Kirsten Oswald told the lord chancellor that four of the five parties in the Scottish parliament were committed to protecting the Human Rights Act. It was a view shared by the party of government in Wales, it constituted a majority position in Northern Ireland and it was shared by more than 40% of MPs in Westminster who collectively represent a clear majority of the electorate. ‘Does he not see that by pushing his proposed bill he’s trampling across the will of the devolved administrations but also across the views of the majority of the public?’
Raab did not accept Oswald’s argument and said he was committed to working with the devolved administrations to make sure the bill benefits everyone.
The European Convention on Human Rights will not be removed, he added. ‘But I do think the idea that the Human Rights Act was the last word on human rights in UK constitutional history is daft.’
Raab is expected to be questioned again on the Bill of Rights when he appears before the House of Commons justice select committee this afternoon.
The Law Society has urged the committee to raise concerns from City lawyers that the bill will give international competitors ‘a stick with which to beat the reputation of the UK jurisdiction and take business away’.
Society vice-president Nick Emmerson said: ‘If the Bill of Rights bill were to pass as drafted it would give the UK government greater latitude to diverge from its international obligations under the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR). The bill could put the UK at greater risk of being found in breach of the ECHR. This would send a clear message to global businesses that the UK is a riskier place to invest and do business.’
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