On the 17 February BIHR took part in a Ministry of Justice Roundtable as part of their work on the Human Rights Act Reform "consultation" which will see the UK Government replace our current system of protection with a new "Bill of Rights". The " " are used deliberately. There is little consultation going on here (we've already done this consultation with the Independent Review of the Human Rights Act). And we already have a bill of rights - a law setting down our protections and our ability to hold the government to account - it’s called the Human Rights Act.

Anyone who follows BIHR will know that we are transparent in our views that this "consultation" is highly questionable - find our views and resources on our Hub page here.

We don't think it is necessary; there has already been in Independent Review of the Human Rights Act which concluded the Human Rights Act is working well. And we believe the proposals represent a reduction in the human rights protection of every person in the UK; never mind the total lack of consideration as to how the proposals impact devolved nations.

At the Ministry of Justice on 17th February,  roundtable participants were asked to share their 2 key points with this consultation. We were REALLY clear, this is not about dissecting the proposals and the 29 questions (which we’ve done at length, see our Question by Question guide here) because we need to answer the first question - do we need a new Bill of Rights, before looking at the details. And our answer, and that of the Independent Review, set up by the same UK Government department running this consultation, is a categoric NO. I've recorded the key points we shared below - click on the image below to listen. 

We have asked the Ministry of Justice for clarity around these roundtables, to understand who is being invited to participate (and who is not) and what the purpose of these events is, and how this feeds into the overall consultation. What we have been told is: 

  • The list of invitees is extensive but not being made public, as some individuals are included as well as organisations
  • There are a number of events taking place into early March
  • There are not (currently) plans to produce meeting notes for each roundtable, for these to be shared with participants and agreed, and published (which is what the Independent Review of the Human Rights Act did, a small panel set up by the Ministry of Justice). Civil servants will summarise and feedback to the Ministerial team.
  • There are not (currently) plans to publish all the responses to the consultation, as the usual approach is for the Government to provide its own summary of the consultation response.

It is increasingly hard to see the transparency and good faith of this UK Government consultation exercise. Today, along with several other participants at the roundtable we attended we have written to the Ministry of Justice, requesting a note of the meeting, so we can each confirm our contributions, which we ask to be a public record. We want there to be no doubt around what civil society is telling the Government on the future of human rights protections across the UK. When it comes to something so important to every single person, we hope that the Government will agree transparency should not be optional.