Members of the House of Lords discussed the European Convention on Human Rights and its relationship with and application in the UK, particularly in the light of the votes for prisoners’ judgment, in a debate on Thursday 19 May. The possible introduction of a British Bill of Rights is also expected to be discussed.
Lord Irvine of Lairg (Labour), former Lord Chancellor and Government spokesperson for Legal Affairs and the Lord Chancellor's Department (1997-2003) opened the debate.
Among the issues covering during the debate were:
- the meaning and scope of 'human rights'
- the Human Rights Act 1998, which enshrines the ECHR into UK law, including consideration of whether the Act has 'lived up to expectation' and how to 'build on' the Act – including extending scope of Act to enshrine economic and social rights; reviewing Section 12 of the Act, which concerns freedom of expression
- 'stereotyping' of the ECHR and the Human Rights Act by the press and media
- personal privacy
- protection of private interests and public interests
- accountability of publich bodies, such as the Press Complaints Commission, regarding human rights obligations
- the impact of the ECHR of press freedom and privacy
- the empowerment of minorities and vulnerable communities through the ECHR.
Contributions to the debate
Other Members who took part in the debate included the following (watch/listen to their speeches using the links below):
- Lord Lester of Herne Hill (Liberal Democrat), Governor of the British Institute for Human Rights and member of a number of other human rights organisations including Liberty and the Human Rights Lawyers Association
- Baroness Kennedy of The Shaws (Labour), President of the Civil Liberties Trust and Investigating Commissioner of the European Human Rights Commission's Human Rights Inquiry into Human Trafficking in Scotland
- Lord Falconer of Thoroton (Labour), Opposition spokesperson for Justice and former Lord Chancellor
- Lord Dubs (Labour), former Chair of Liberty, who has a strong interest in civil liberties and human rights
- Baroness Whitaker (Labour), Member of the Advisory Board for the British Institute of Human Rights
- Lord Goodhart (Liberal Democrat), former Committee officer for the Human Rights Institute
- Lord Thomas of Gresford (Liberal Democrat), former spokesperson for Justice
- Lord Prescott (Labour), former Cabinet Minister and Deputy Prime Minister
- Lord Black of Brentwood (Conservative), chairman of the Press Standards Board of Finance, which funds the press Complaints Commission, and executive director of the Telegraph Media Group
- Lord Faulks (Conservative), barrister and former special adviser to the Department for Constitutional Affairs.
Other Members due to speak include Lord Pannick (Crossbench), barrister; Lord Wills (Labour), foremr Minister of State at the Minstry of Justice; Lord Ramsbotham (Crossbench), former Chief Inspector of Prisons; Lord Grenfell (Labour), the Bishop of Bath and Wells, and Lord Tomlinson (Labour) member of Council of Europe's Legal Affairs Committee.
Lord McNally (Liberal Democrat),responded on behalf of the Government.
Members of the public can attend House of Lords debates and follow proceedings from the public gallery.
Image: The European Convention on Human Rights © Council of Europe