Joint Committee on Human Rights Written Evidence

16.  Memorandum from Chris Himsworth, School of Law, University of Edinburgh

  I wonder if I might respond very briefly to this call for evidence to make one "devolutionary" point about the notion of a UK Bill of Rights? At least in relation to Scotland, "human rights" are not, as such, a matter reserved to the UK Parliament—although certain rights-related matters such as equality laws are reserved and there are limitations on the Scottish Parliament's powers to modify the terms of the Human Rights Act 1998. If, therefore, there were an intention to legislate in the human rights area at UK level and with effect, by definition in the case of a UK Bill of Rights with purported effect in Scotland, any Bill would presumably be subject to the Sewel convention and would require legislative consent from the Scottish Parliament? It has to be doubted, in the light of arguments which might, in any event, tend in the direction of a preference for "devolved" Bills of Rights for eg Scotland and Northern Ireland but especially in the light of the current political dispensation in Scotland, whether it would be diplomatic to seek the consent of the Scottish Parliament for such a Bill and, if sought, whether it would be granted.

24 August 2007

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