Amendment 167A (to Amendment 167)

Part of Victims and Prisoners Bill - Committee (7th Day) (Continued) – in the House of Lords am 9:45 pm ar 12 Mawrth 2024.

Danfonwch hysbysiad imi am ddadleuon fel hyn

Photo of Lord Ponsonby of Shulbrede Lord Ponsonby of Shulbrede Shadow Spokesperson (Justice), Shadow Spokesperson (Home Affairs) 9:45, 12 Mawrth 2024

My Lords, I agree with all the speakers so far. My concern is that Clauses 49 to 51 may be another way for the former Justice Secretary, Dominic Raab, to dilute the human rights framework through the back door.

Section 3 of the Human Rights Act requires courts to interpret legislation compatibly with rights under the convention on human rights as far as is possible. The clauses would disapply Section 3 to prisoners as a group when it comes to legislation about their release. Several groups have rightly raised concerns about that.

I, too, cite the Prison Reform Trust, which said:

“The introduction of specific carve-outs from human rights for people given custodial sentences contradicts one of the fundamental principles underlying human rights—their universality and application to each and every person on the simple basis of their being human. Moreover, it is precisely in custodial institutions like prisons that human rights protections are most vital, because individuals are under the control of the state”.

In written evidence to the JSC, the Bar Council stated:

“There is no evidence of any systemic impairment due to the HRA of the Parole Board’s ability to make high-quality, safe, decisions about prisoners—no statistical analysis of recidivism/public safety concerns from prisoners released due to interpretation of legislation in line with Convention principles”.

In his speech at Second Reading in the other place, the chair of the Justice Committee, Sir Bob Neill, said:

“Whatever one’s view of the Human Rights Act, there is no evidence that this is a problem in such cases. In fact, the evidence we heard from practitioners, from both sides, is that it can be helpful to have to have regard to section 3 in these hearings. These clauses seem to be trying to solve a problem that does not exist, and I wonder whether we really need them. It is perfectly possible to have a robust system that still complies with section 3. This is a needless distraction that sends the wrong signal about a certain desire to pick unnecessary fights, which I know is not the current Secretary of State’s approach”.—[Official Report, Commons, 15/5/23; col. 604.]

I really could not have put it any better, and I look forward to the Minister’s response.