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Holyrood rejects moves to replace ECHR with British Bill of Rights

11 January 2017

A plea to the UK Government not to withdraw from the European Convention on Human Rights in favour of a British Bill of Rights was passed by the Scottish Parliament last night.

MSPs voted 93-30 in favour of a Scottish Government motion calling on the UK government not to withdraw from “international human rights mechanisms” such as the ECHR, after rejecting by a similar margin a Conservative amendment commending the UK Government for its assurances on the safeguarding of individuals' rights.

It has been reported recently that Prime Minister Theresa May intends to include replacement of the Human Rights Act and withdrawal from the Convention in her party's manifesto for the 2020 general election, after the negotiations for the Brexit process are concluded. Mrs May has previously stated her hostility to the Convention, which "binds the hands of Parliament".

Equalities minister Angela Constance told the chamber during yesterday's debate: “We should be in no doubt in this chamber, in this Parliament and across Scotland as a whole that dragging Scotland out of the EU and attempts to undermine fundamental human rights safeguards will indeed have profound implications for our country.

“It would seem to me that the UK Government, in its endeavours to repeal the Human Rights Act and, reprehensibly, to even talk, to moot the suggestion, of withdrawing from the European Convention, it appears to me it is tearing up any notion, any shared heritage we have as political nations and, indeed, is ripping up any shared notion that we have of what being British actually means.”

The motion, which has no legal force, was supported by the other parties apart from the Conservatives, for whom Douglas Ross MSP accused the SNP of being “alarmist”.

 

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