Justice secretary Alex Chalk today confirmed that the government will not proceed with the Bill of Rights Bill, ending weeks of speculation about its potential demise. As widely expected, Chalk told the House of Commons during justice questions today that the proposed legislation had been abandoned.
He told MPs: ‘Having carefully considered the government’s legislative programme in the round, I can inform the house that we have decided not to proceed with the bill of rights.’
The bill was introduced last summer in parliament but had only cleared its first reading in the Commons. Despite Dominic Raab – a passionate advocate for reform – returning as lord chancellor under Rishi Sunak, the bill continued to stall. Once Raab was replaced with Chalk earlier this year, the legislation appeared all but dead.
Raab had introduced the measure in his first spell as lord chancellor in Boris Johnson’s administration. It would have explicitly given UK courts supremacy over rulings of the European Court of Human Rights, created a higher threshold for foreign national offenders seeking to challenge deportations based on the right to a private life and introduced a new permission stage for human rights challenges.
In a conference speech earlier today, the former Treasury solicitor Sir Jonathan Jones said the bill was a 'chaotic' measure ’surely to be consigned to the bin’.
Commenting on today's decision, Society president Lubna Shuja said: 'We are pleased the government has seen sense and decided not to pursue the Bill of Rights Bill, which would have been a step backwards for British justice.
'Scrapping the bill is the right decision as it would have created an acceptable class of human rights abuses, weakened individual rights and seen the UK diverge from our international human rights obligations.'
Labour’s shadow justice secretary Steve Reed said: 'The plans were a dangerous threat to peace in Northern Ireland, prevented us from deporting foreign terrorists and dented the rights of rape survivors. What’s astonishing is that a string of Tory prime ministers indulged this half-baked nonsense for so long.'
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