The Joint Committee on Human Rights examines the human rights implications of Government Bills.
In this Report the Committee draws the special attention of both Houses to aspects of the Education and Skills Bill which in its view have significant human rights implications. The Bill's main provision requires many young people aged 16-18 to participate in education or training or potentially face criminal sanctions. In the Committee's view, this reliance on coercion is a potentially disproportionate interference with the right to respect for private life under Article 8 ECHR (paragraphs 1.1-1.15).
The Explanatory Notes which accompany the Bill do not explain how each of its provisions would comply with the right to respect for private and family life under Article 8 ECHR. The Committee recommends that the Bill should be amended to define more closely what information may be disclosed and for what purposes. Recalling its Report on Data Protection and Human Rights, it again calls for legislation which permits information sharing to include safeguards against arbitrary use. It recommends that guidance should be issued to clarify when consent is or is not required before certain disclosures may be made. It also recommends that the Bill should be amended to require that young people or their parents should be notified at least once a year what personal information might be disclosed and that they should decide whether to permit such disclosures (paragraphs 1.16-1.35).
In the Committee's view the Bill's provisions for the Chief Inspector to enter independent educational institutions and take copies of records may raise several human rights issues. It considers unacceptable the lack of safeguards on the face of the Bill, especially to provide protection for documents subject to legal professional privilege (paragraphs 1.36 -1.39).
The Committee again expresses its view that provisions which fail to guarantee children of sufficient maturity, intelligence and understanding the right to withdraw from compulsory religious education and collective worship are incompatible with their human rights and calls for the Bill to be amended accordingly (paragraphs 1.40-1.45).