Question 1. What (if anything) do you think
a Human Rights Commission
might add to the current methods of protecting human rights in
the United Kingdom? In particular, are there useful functions
in connection with protecting human rights and developing a culture
of human rights which do not fall within the remit of any existing
agency in the United Kingdom, such as:
(a) fostering a human rights culture in the
(b) education in human rights;
(c) advising and assisting people who claim
to be victims of violations of their Convention rights;
(d) developing expertise in human rights;
(e) bringing legal proceedings on human rights
issues in the public interest?
Question 2. If a Human Rights Commission were
established, how should its role and functions relate to those
of this Committee?
Question 3. In what order of priority would
you arrange the functions of such a Commission? If you think that
a Commission should examine a range of issues, to which issue
or issues do you think that the Commission should give priority?
Question 4. If a Human Rights Commission were
to be established, should there be a single body with a jurisdiction
extending to all parts of the United Kingdom, or separate bodies
for England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, or both a United
Kingdom body and bodies with territorial responsibilities? (The
Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission must continue to exist,
as this is one of the requirements of the United Kingdom's agreement
with Ireland about the future of Northern Ireland.)
Question 5. If there were to be a Human Rights
Commission with responsibilities for the whole United Kingdom
(whether or not it operated alongside other bodies with responsibility
for just one part of the United Kingdom), what relationship should
there be between its work in respect of Northern Ireland and the
work of the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission (and similar
Commissions in Scotland and Wales if they are established at some
time in the future)?
Question 6. If a Human Rights Commission were
established, how should its work relate to that of other bodies
with special responsibility for particular rights, such as the
Information Commissioner, the Equal Opportunities Commission,
the Commission for Racial Equality, the Disability Rights Commission,
and the Equality Commission for Northern Ireland? In particular:
(a) should a Human Rights Commission perform
functions now performed by existing specialist Commissions, or
should it co-exist with them? If they were to co-exist, what roles
should they perform in areas where their responsibilities might
be expected to overlap?
(b) if a Human Rights Commission were to
co-exist with the existing equality Commissions, should issues
relating to equal opportunities be excluded from the remit of
the Human Rights Commission and be given to the Equality Commissions?
Question 7. If a Human Rights Commission were
to be established, how should its independence of Government be
preserved while ensuring an appropriate type and level of accountability?
(a) how should its Chair, members and key
staff be appointed?
(b) how should its funding be provided?
(c) to whom should it be accountable (for
example, to a parliamentary body)?
(d) how should the matters mentioned in (a),
(b) and (c) take account of devolution to Northern Ireland, Scotland
Question 8. In the light of your answers to
Questions 1 to 7, what is your estimate of the level of staffing
which would be required by the body or bodies you propose and
what the annual cost might be?
Question 9. Some Commissions currently operating
in fields related to human rights have a range of powers. For
example, they might be empowered to conduct investigations; to
require people to provide information; to issue notices requiring
people to cease conduct which the Commission considers to be unlawful;
to conduct legal proceedings; to assist other parties to legal
proceedings; to issue Codes of Practice; to conduct research;
and to engage in a range of activities designed to heighten awareness
of issues within their remits. If a Human Rights Commission were
to be established, what powers should it have?
Question 10. Are there other relevant issues
or considerations which have not been covered in answers to the