Scotland’s standing reduced if HRA axed, MSPs told

Fiona Hyslop: Attacked Conservative proposals. Picture: Greg Macvean
Fiona Hyslop: Attacked Conservative proposals. Picture: Greg Macvean
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RESPECT for Scotland on the world stage could be diminished by UK Government plans to scrap the Human Rights Act, MSPs have been told.

The Scottish Government opposes Conservative proposals to replace the legislation with a British Bill of Rights, a move which Scottish Secretary David Mundell has said would apply in Scotland.

There is a respect for Scotland in its approach in that and that’s a value that could quite easily be diminished by proposals from the UK to march this country out of a human-rights agenda

Fiona Hyslop

Europe and External Affairs Secretary Fiona Hyslop warned against the plans as she gave evidence to Holyrood’s European and External Relations Committee on Scotland’s international strategy.

Ms Hyslop said: “The Scottish Government is clear in its opposition to the proposal from the UK Government to abolish the Human Rights Act.

“Embedded in our activity and in our intentional positioning is our belief in the importance of human rights.

“It’s also about a sense of justice, of the type of country that we are, and human rights have been very much central and part of our international development framework. It’s also very much part of our different country plans and how we approach things.

“There is a respect for Scotland in its approach in that and that’s a value that could quite easily be diminished by proposals from the UK to march this country out of a human-rights agenda.”

She said the result of last week’s general election, in which the SNP won a landslide 56 seats north of the border, should result in Scotland having greater influence in delegations to Europe.

Ms Hyslop said: “The Scottish voice being heard at Westminster is not just about Westminster, it’s actually being heard in Europe.

“We’re very aware that within the current operation of the UK Government when we go to Europe ... our position has to be an agreed position with the UK, but there’s absolutely no reason why, whether in the environmental council where we’ve got huge experience in terms of the contribution we make on some of the energy issues ... we can and should lead the UK delegation because of the experience and position and the priority interest we have in different areas.

“I think that that position now is unquestionable and it would be folly indeed for the UK Government to deny that voice be heard, not just within Westminster but also within Brussels.”

Ms Hyslop also warned the UK Government against “railroading” Scotland into a European Union exit against its will if a majority of Scots vote to stay in the union in the Tory’s planned referendum on membership.