The Scottish government has made clear its opposition to Conservative Party proposals to repeal the Human Rights Act.
Responding to yesterday’s Queen’s Speech, in which the plans to replace the Human Rights Act with a British “Bill of Rights” were put on hold, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon warned that the UK government’s ongoing commitment to scrapping the legislation must be resisted.
In a statement, Ms Sturgeon said: “When it comes to human rights legislation, we will continue to make clear our opposition to proposals to scrap the Human Rights Act, and to any attempts to further diminish workers’ rights.
“While the proposals on the Human Rights Act appear to have been delayed, today’s Queen’s Speech makes clear the UK government is still committed to its repeal. We believe that is wrong and deeply misguided, given the protection the Act affords to ordinary citizens in a whole range of areas.”
Referring to the UK government’s legislative programme more generally, the First Minister added: “The key problem with this Queen’s Speech as far as Scotland is concerned is that it does not take account of the dramatically changed political circumstances we now find ourselves in. As a result, it is abundantly clear that the priorities this UK Government have outlined in the Queen’s Speech are not the priorities of the Scottish Government.”
She also condemned the UK government’s attitude towards austerity, and called for a more responsible plan to reduce the deficit. “At a time when people are suffering the impact of austerity…we believe it is quite wrong to continue with an economic policy which involves more savage cuts to welfare provision. We have made clear that the deficit can still be reduced and ultimately eradicated while at the same time making modest increases in spending to invest in the economy and public services, and we will continue to make that case and to oppose austerity”, she explained.
The First Minister also reiterated her commitment to opposing NHS privatisation, pressing for the Smith Commission’s proposals to be implemented in full and making the “powerful and positive case for Scotland and the UK’s continued membership of the European Union”.
Alyn Smith, a Scottish National Party MEP and member of the EU Intergroup on LGBTI rights, told KaleidoScot: “We should not take our eye off of the Human Rights agnenda, it is clear that the UK government will continue to systematicallty misrepresent, misunderstand and undermine our fundamental rights and freedoms.
“The European Convention on Human Rights, underpinned by an independent judiciary in Strasbourg, is a fundamental part of internationally recognised decency. For the UK to even hint at removing us from us, lining up with international pariah Belarus as the only European country somehow uniquely unable to function within it, has already done huge damage to the UK’s representation.
“LGBTI folk especially are acutely aware that it is legal rights and responsibilities that ensure progress, not empty words from politicians. We have, in Scotland, been able to play our part in facing down this deeply misguided attept to withdraw the UK from the ECHR, but the Tories have not gone away.”