MSPs explore the future of the Human Rights Act

Scottish Parliament Debating Chamber 2
At a debate in the Scottish Parliament, MSPs have rallied in defence of the Human Rights Act 1998, calling for the UK Government to avoid the “dangerously retrograde step” of repealing the Act.

The ALLIANCE briefed MSPs ahead of the debate highlighting the view that the Act has “consistently proved its value by providing an essential safeguard in areas such as protecting older and disabled people who are receiving care”.  Their briefing was noted by Roderick Campbell MSP and John Finnie MSP in their speeches.

The members business debate, > called by Christina McKelvie MSP in support of Amnesty International’s Do The Human Right Thing: Keep the Human Rights Act campaign, heard support for the Act and its aims from across the Parliament chamber.  Much of the debate focused on concerns that the UK Government plans to consider repealing the Act, replacing it with a British Bill of Rights, after wider consultation.

Ms McKelvie began by highlighting the experiences of Jan, who lives with MS, who said that the Act “helped me to feel stronger—strong enough to search for the support to challenge my local council”.  Ms McKelvie questioned whether, without the Act, Jan’s support would have been increased.

Labour’s Malcolm Chisholm also highlighted the protection provided by the European Court of Human Rights to a number of disabled people who use support and services in “groundbreaking judgements… helping to make the UK a more progressive society”.  Speaking on behalf of the Conservatives, Margaret Mitchell MSP, defended the UK Government’s approach stating it does not “propose to abolish human rights… (but) address concerns over the so-called mission creep of the European Court of Human Rights.

Summing up, Minister for Local Government and Community Empowerment, Marco Biagi MSP, welcomed the range of “positive examples” highlighted by MSPs “that we need to hear more about including “disabled people, including people with mental health problems in care or detention, who can expect to receive treatment and conditions to meet their specific needs.”

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