Any Bill purporting to repeal the Human Rights Act 1998 (HRA) is certain to come up against considerable opposition in both Houses of Parliament. Both Houses continue to have considerable numbers of lawyers in their ranks and many non-lawyer members are also vehemently opposed to repeal of the HRA. This post takes a look at how the Parliament Acts and the Salisbury Convention might operate in the context of such a Bill.
A Bill must pass through both the House of Commons and the House of Lords and receive Royal Assent before it becomes law. This is subject to the Parliament Acts 1911-49 . The Parliament Act 1911 removed the Lords power to veto a Bill, except one to extend the lifetime of a Parliament. Instead, the Lords could delay a Bill by up to two years. The Parliament Act 1949 further reduced the delaying powers to one year.
Opposition to a Bill to reform human rights is unlikely to fade away merely because there was a Conservative Party manifesto commitment but this fact would seem to trigger the so-called "Salisbury Convention" (or "Salisbury-Addison" as it sometimes known). The convention is considered in some detail in a library note published by the House of Lords in 2006 - The Salisbury Doctrine.
The 2015 Conservative manifesto stated:
The Guardian 22nd May 2015 - Attempt to scrap Human Rights Act will not get past Lords, Falconer tells Gove
When did a Bill of Rights become something that could conceivably be 'fast tracked'? It's not a burger and chips http://t.co/2LduIrturU— Adam Wagner (@AdamWagner1) October 18, 2015
Gove and Raab have a real opportunity to propose legislation that actually enhances rights protection. https://t.co/5QO0C4uWJM— Dinah Rose (@DinahRoseQC) October 19, 2015