Orkney and Shetland MP, Alistair Carmichael, has today challenged the government to come clean on its plans to scrap the Human Rights Act and potentially leave the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) which underpins the legislation. The United Kingdom was one of the lead authors of the ECHR following the Second World War but a significant number of Conservative MPs wish to leave the Convention, which would leave the UK alongside Belarus as the only non-signatories in Europe.
Speaking in the House after the Justice Secretary reaffirmed plans to scrap the Human Rights Act in this Parliament, Mr Carmichael said:
“This is not new territory for the Secretary of State, he’s been round this course. He failed last time of course because he could only get what he wanted by leaving the European Convention on Human Rights. That’s still the situation now, so is it going to be government policy that we should follow the human rights example of Belarus in leaving the protections of the Convention?”
Responding, Justice Secretary Dominic Raab MP said:
“It is precisely because our reforms make a substantial difference in injecting a degree of common sense without leaving the Convention that we will proceed. One of the challenges dealing with terrorist offenders is the issue of separation… claiming that Article Eight rights [within the Convention] are getting in our way. That’s a good example of the common sense approach we want to have.”
Reacting after the exchange, Mr Carmichael said:
“It will surprise no one that Raab’s response was utterly incoherent. He rails against the European Convention on Human Rights while simultaneously claiming that he does not want to leave the Convention. It is a contradiction in terms but nothing surprising from this Mad Hatter government that believes in six impossible things before breakfast.
“Tory ministers like to present scrapping the Human Rights Act as a way of getting tough on criminals. The reality is that they have let criminal fraudsters have a free rein in the last two years with a 47% rise in fraud crime. If ministers put half the effort into tackling these crimes that they do into attacking human rights then perhaps we might see some help for the millions of fraud victims each year.”