Speculation mounts over fate of Human Rights Act

Chris Huhne is reported to have threatened to quit over the HRA
Chris Huhne is reported to have threatened to quit over the HRA

By politics.co.uk staff

There are reports today that the Conservatives have been forced to back down on their commitment to scrap the Human Rights Act (HRA) in a bid to maintain the unity of the coalition government.

Tories have long wanted to get rid of the Act, which is blamed by some commentators for creating a compensation culture and giving more weight to criminals' views than those of victims. The Tory policy was to replace it with a British Bill of Rights.

But the HRA has many supporters, who argue that it is the first piece of law in Britain which gives rights to privacy, and that it allows Britain to resolve its own legal disputes without having to resort to the European courts.

The Sun reported this morning that Lib Dem energy secretary Chris Huhne and justice minister Lord McNally were both prepared to quit the government rather than see the HRA scrapped.

During last weekend's Lib Dem conference, Lord McNally allegedly told delegates: "If it goes, I go." Mr Huhne then said: "So will I."

Several figures in the Tory party also support the Act, including Ken Clarke, justice secretary and Lord Chancellor and Dominic Grieve, attorney general.

Speaking on the Today programme this morning home secretary Theresa May insisted the HRA was still being negotiated behind closed doors.

"Yes, we did say that we thought the Human Rights Act wasn't working in certain areas prior to the election and we are now discussing with our coalition partners what we will be doing in that area," she said.

Some media reports indicate the Conservatives have agreed to set up a commission review, effectively kicking the issue into the long grass.

But comments from Nick Clegg at a speech in north London today seemed to suggest that much of the HRA could be transposed into a British Bill of Rights, a document the Tories have previously pledged to introduce. The deputy prime minister refused to get dragged into a discussion of closed-door negotiations, however.


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