Joint Committee On Human Rights Appendices to the Minutes of Evidence

27.  Extract from a Memorandum from the Faculty of Advocates

  The Faculty of Advocates welcomes the initiative of the Parliamentary Joint Committee in launching a debate on the important question whether there should be a Human Rights Commission for the United Kingdom and, if so, what might be the constitution, role and functions of such a Commission. The Faculty has addressed closely related questions in response to the Scottish Executive Consultation Paper "Protecting our rights: a Human Rights Commission for Scotland?" The Faculty thinks it proper to submit in evidence to the Parliamentary Joint Committee the Faculty's response to the Scottish Executive Consultation Paper. The Response is attached.

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  C.  Do you consider that there is a strong case for a specifically Scottish body?

  If there is to be a Human Rights Commission, the question whether it should be a UK or a Scottish body is substantially political. Cases can be made on legal grounds for and against a specifically Scottish body. There might be both a UK and a Scottish body. Reference is made to the Appendix.

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  H.  What in your view should be the relationship between a new body and existing UK statutory bodies?

  The Faculty envisages that existing statutory bodies would continue to fulfil their respective remits. On this basis any new body should co-operate with existing bodies and offices within Great Britain including specialised UK anti-discrimination commissions, the Scottish Law Commission, the Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission and the Information Commissioners for the UK and Scotland. Were there a Scottish Human Rights Commission and a UK Human Rights Commission, those bodies would also require to co-operate.

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  L.  How many members should a new body have?

  Any new Scottish body should be relatively compact, having perhaps five to seven members. There might be part and full-time commissioners. Were there to be a Scottish and a UK body, there ought to be an institutional connection between the two bodies, for example by providing that the chair of the Scottish body should have membership ex officio of the UK body.

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