Joint Committee on Human Rights Appendices to the Minutes of Evidence


Memorandum by the Department for International Development


  1.  The Department for International Development (DFID) has no significant operational role within the United Kingdom and the 1998 Act therefore has only limited implications for the Department. The principal areas where the Act is of importance are in the legislative sphere and in the Department's role as an employer of staff in the UK.

  2.  On 15 February 2001 the Government introduced the International Development Bill into Parliament. The Secretary of State for International Development has made a statement under section 19(1)(a) of the Human Rights Act 1998 that, in her view, the provision of the International Development Bill are compatible with the Convention Rights. A statement under the same section was made in respect of the Commonwealth Development Corporation Act 1999.

  3.  In determining the compatibility of this legislation, we have been informed by the guidance on the Home Office's Human Rights website and have taken legal advice from Treasury Solicitors. In both cases, the process of determining compatibility has been straightforward. No issues relating to compatibility were raised during the passage of the Commonwealth Development Corporation Act 1999 through Parliament.

  4.  Other than in the legislative sphere, the implications of the Act for the Department's role as an employer have meant that it has been necessary for key members of the Department's Human Resources Division to be trained in the significance of the Act since it forms part of the background of law against which they are required to operate and to advise other parts of the Department. It is also intended to disseminate this training by introducing some familiarisation briefings on the Act for staff more generally.

  5.  The Act has not so far raised very many practical issues for the Department. We can identify only two instances in which it has had direct consequences for the Department.

  6.  The first was in the need to reflect the right to respect for private and family life and correspondence (Article 8) in the Department's official policy on the use of official communication systems (relating to monitoring of e-mail and Internet usage). The second was, again, concerned with Article 8 rights and caused the Department to withdraw an internal questionnaire on diversity which would have resulted in the gathering of identifiable data on sexual orientation.

  7.  We envisage that the future implications of the Act will, for DFID, continue to be largely confined to issues to do with Articles 8 and 14. The Department has not been involved in any litigation involving the provisions of the Act.

February 2001

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