Scotland exempt from Tories’ Human Rights Act axe

Home Secretary Theresa May walks on to the stage to  address the Conservative party conference. Picture: Getty

Home Secretary Theresa May walks on to the stage to address the Conservative party conference. Picture: Getty

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SCOTLAND will be protected from Tory attempts to scrap the Human Rights Act in Westminster, the UK Government has conceded.

In his conference speech Prime Minister David Cameron said he wanted to end the UK’s relationship with the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg and scrap the 1998 Human Rights Act replacing it with a British Bill of Rights.

The move has been attacked by human rights groups, but the Scotland Office have said it would not apply north of the Border.

A Scotland Office spokesman confirmed that human rights legislation is devolved to the Scottish Parliament because it was “built into the 1998 Scotland Act [and] cannot be removed [by Westminster].”

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The SNP Scottish Government has made it clear it will not remove the Human Rights Act and raised concerns about its future in the independence referendum if Scotland voted No.

The move by Mr Cameron was aimed at stemming the flow of Tories defecting to Ukip.

In a tub thumping passage of his speech, Mr Cameron railed against the Human Rights Act and attempts to force the UK to give prisoners the votes.

He said: “Of course, it’s not just the European Union that needs sorting out - it’s the European Court of Human Rights.

“When that charter was written, in the aftermath of the Second World War, it set out the basic rights we should respect but since then, interpretations of that charter have led to a whole lot of things that are frankly wrong.

He lambasted “rulings to stop us deporting suspected terrorists”, then suggestion that “you’ve got to apply the human rights convention even on the battle-fields of Helmand” and attempts to give prisoners the vote.

He said: “I’m sorry, I just don’t agree. Our Parliament - the British Parliament - decided they shouldn’t have that right.

“This is the country that wrote Magna Carta, the country that time and again has stood up for human rights whether liberating Europe from fascism or leading the charge today against sexual violence in war.

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“Let me put this very clearly: we do not require instruction on this from judges in Strasbourg.

“So at long last, with a Conservative government after the next election, this country will have a new British Bill of Rights to be passed in our Parliament, rooted in our values and as for Labour’s Human Rights Act? We will scrap it, once and for all.”

Criticising the proposal, Tim Hancock, the campaigns director of Amnesty UK, said: “Theresa May made much in her speech about how we must stand up and fight for human rights abroad, it makes absolutely no sense to denigrate those same rights at home.

“It’s exasperating to hear the Prime Minister vow to tear up the Human Rights Act again - so he can draft ‘his own’.

“Human rights are not in the gift of politicians to give. They must not be made a political plaything to be bestowed or scrapped on a whim.

“It’s time politicians accepted that they too have to follow the rules and that those rules include the civilising human rights standards Churchill championed.”

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