Sadiq Khan MP, Labour’s Shadow Secretary of State for Justice, commenting on the Written Ministerial Statement released today announcing the government’s commission on a British Bill of Rights said:
“After a long delay Cameron and Clegg have announced a commission that won’t even report until the end of next year. Those hoping for reform of the European Court of Human Rights or repeal of existing legislation shouldn’t hold their breath.
“The Prime Minister seems to have raised expectations that this commission would placate his backbenches and create the impression he is taking a tough stance on Europe. It will do nothing of the sort as the commission explicitly states that any Bill of Rights will incorporate the European Convention.
“It is hard to see how this commission will agree anything like that which Cameron has promised his party. This commission kicks into the long grass the issues on which the government can’t agree and haven’t been able to manage, including prisoner voting. It just looks like a way to paper over the cracks in a divided government, rather than a genuine attempt at constitutional reform. Once again this government is putting the interests of their parties before the needs of our country.
“Labour’s Human Rights Act brought home to British law the rights and freedoms enshrined in the European Convention. The Act means that British People can bring cases to British courts in front of British judges if they feel their rights have been breached. The terms of reference of the commission announced today say it will ensure that the rights contained in the European Convention will continue to be enshrined in UK law. Unlike the Liberal Democrats, we will hold them to this and oppose any attempts by the Tory-led government to water-down or repeal the Human Rights Act - legislation designed to safeguard our rights and freedoms in British courts.”