JCHR Press Notice 03-04 No. 28

Session 2003-04                                            29 July 2004

Forthcoming Publications

The Joint Committee on Human Rights will be publishing the following Reports on Wednesday 4 August 2004, at 10.00 am.

1.  Sixteenth Report of Session 2003-04, Commission for Equality and Human Rights: The Government's White Paper , House of Lords Paper 156/House of Commons Paper 998

The Government proposes to establish a new Commission for Equality and Human Rights. This is in line with the recommendation the Joint Committee on Human Rights made in its report on the case for a human rights commission in March 2003.The Government published a White Paper, Fairness for All,  in May setting out its proposals for the role, duties and powers of this new body. Just before the Government published its White Paper, the Joint Committee on Human Rights had published its Eleventh Report of this Session on the Commission for Equality and Human Rights: Structure, Functions and Powers, setting out its own recommendations on the functions, powers and structure of the new commission so far as they relate to human rights. In this latest report, the Committee compares the proposals of the White Paper with its own recommendations.

2.  Seventeenth Report of Session 2003-04, Scrutiny of Bills: Seventh Progress Report , House of Lords Paper 157/House of Commons Paper 999

This report is the latest of the Committee's regular progress reports drawing the attention of Parliament to concerns it has relating to compliance with human rights standards of Bills before the two Houses. In this report the Committee comments on the Age Related Payments Act, the Draft School Transport Bill and the Draft Criminal Defence Service Bill. It publishes responses from the Government to earlier comments it made on the Asylum & Immigration (Treatment of Claimants, etc.) Bill and the Employment Relations Bill. It also notes Bills which either engage Convention rights but do not appear to give rise to any risk of incompatibility (including the Energy Bill), or appear not to raise any human rights questions.

3.  Eighteenth Report of Session 2003-04, Counter-terrorism Powers Review , House of Lords Paper 158/House of Commons Paper 713

On 25 February 2004 the Government published a discussion paper, Counter-Terrorism Powers: Reconciling Security and Liberty in an Open Society. In its preface, the Home Secretary invited debate on how the Government should strike the balance between security and liberty in the context of the present threat from international terrorism. The paper also included the Government's response to the Report of a Committee of Privy Counsellors under the chairmanship of Lord Newton of Braintree on the operation of the Anti-terrorism, Crime and Security Act 2001.

The Joint Committee on Human Rights decided to hold its own inquiry into the human rights issues raised by the Home Office discussion paper. This report is its initial response to the Government's discussion paper. It addresses principally alternatives to Part 4 of Anti-terrorism, Crime and Security Act 2001(which provides for the detention without trial of certain suspected international terrorists or their associates) which might avoid the need for continued derogation from the ECHR.