The Joint Committee on Human Rights today publishes its Sixth Report of the Session 2010-11, on the Superannuation Bill and the Parliamentary Voting System and Constituencies Bill.
The JCHR criticises the limits on civil servants’ redundancy pay under the Civil Service Compensation Scheme (CSCS) proposed by the Government in the Superannuation Bill. In the JCHR’s view the limits constitute an interference with the right to peaceful enjoyment of possessions (Article 1 of Protocol 1 to the European Convention on Human Rights), for which the Government has not provided adequate justification.
The JCHR questions the Government’s argument that limiting redundancy payments by statute leads to less legal uncertainty than doing so by amending the CSCS. It calls on the Government to minimise any legal uncertainty by providing for compensation limits with a stronger justification than the Government has given for the limits contained in the Bill as currently drafted.
Parliamentary Voting System and Constituencies Bill
The JCHR also calls on the Government to explain whether they will amend the Parliamentary franchise in advance of the referendum on the Alternative Vote system to remove the blanket ban on prisoners voting. The blanket ban on voting at elections was found to be incompatible with the right to participate in free and fair elections.
Although the Bill does not directly raise a human rights compatibility issue, because the right to vote in a referendum is not protected by the Convention, the Committee’s view is that Parliament is entitled to know, when considering this Bill, whether the Government intend to legislate to amend the parliamentary franchise in time for the referendum.
Dr Hywel Francis MP, the Chair of the Committee, said
"We do not believe that the Government has provided sufficient justification for the proposed cap on redundancy payments, and that the Bill is therefore in breach of Article 1 Protocol 1 of the ECHR as it stands.
We also call on the Government to explain to Parliament whether they will amend the Parliamentary franchise in advance of the referendum on the voting system, to remove the blanket ban on prisoners voting."