Thursday 9 March 2023

Braverman's "Illegal Migration Bill"

The "Illegal Migration Bill" was presented to the House of Commons on Tuesday 7 March 2023. It contains this remarkable statement:-

The Bill itself may be read at Illegal Migration Bill - Parliamentary Bills - UK Parliament

Parliament is being asked by the Home Secretary to legislate in the clear knowledge that the Bill - (or aspects of the Bill) - cannot be said to be compatible with Convention rights. 

Does Braverman's statement make a legal difference? The generally-accepted answer is that statements under section 19 are neither binding on the courts nor legally persuasive. That was certainly the view of  Lord Hope in A, R v. [2001] UKHL 25 (17 May 2001) ( Plainly, if a question of compatibility comes before the courts then the judges will do what they consider the law requires in the circumstances of the case.

Politically, it reveals - (if further revelation were required) - that at least some members of the present government view human rights as an obstacle preventing Ministers from getting their way.  Some of the more "hardline" politicians in the UK would take the nation out of the European Convention on Human Rights. The Home Secretary - Suella Braverman KC MP - is among their number.

At present, withdrawal from the convention is NOT officially Conservative Party policy but here we see the government asking Parliament to pass legislation that may be contrary to the European Convention. 

The government is also distancing the UK from the Refugee Convention which, in international law, grants the right to seek asylum and does not require that to be in the first "safe" country reached by the individual.

The European Convention protects the rights of all in the UK and it underpins other international agreements including the Trade and Cooperation Agreement with the EU and the Northern Ireland Good Friday Agreement.

If the government's so-called Bill of Rights Bill proceeds it will repeal the Human Rights Act 1998 and significantly weaken protections within the UK for human rights even though the UK would still be bound in international law by the convention.

Voters may yet have to decide whether they are prepared to allow UK politicians to go further still and remove altogether the protection for fundamental rights offered by the European Convention.

The Bill is discussed in this House of Commons Library briefing - Illegal Migration Bill 2022-23 - House of Commons Library - Research Briefing (