The [uncorrected*] transcript of the evidence from the Secretary of State for Justice, Michael Gove, taken before Parliament’s (in the fact the House of Lords’) EU Justice Sub-Committee (2 February 2016) was published the other day. As others (see Dr Merris Amos) have noted, the answers supplied by Mr Gove would seem to reflect a real mellowing of the UK government’s position with respect to ‘Convention rights’ and the Strasbourg Court, which could be reflected in a proposed UK/British Bill of Rights that is, in fact, remarkably similar to the current Human Rights Act 1998 (HRA).
Indeed, in response to Mr Gove’s evidence the Chairman of the Committee (Baroness Kennedy) suggested that the proposed UK/British Bill of Rights sounded like it would be ‘putting on a gloss rather than making a radical change’ and that ‘all the same rights will be there, save for a few bits of tweaking, and essentially a gloss will be put on things’. Mr Gove did not reject the comment, and seemed to largely agree.
Of course, we still await the government’s proposals for a UK/British Bill of Rights, so we shall have to wait to see if they reflect this new, changed mood and if it really will be the HRA with some airbrushing or a slight ‘makeover’. (As to when we will get the proposals, Mr Gove said, two weeks ago, ‘there will not be too long to wait’).
The aim of this post is to (i) briefly comment on the background, and how a change of heart, if that is what it proves to be, should be viewed; and then (ii) to set out selected extracts from Mr Gove’s evidence , so that readers can draw their own conclusions about the apparent change of mood (for the full transcript, see the link above). Continue reading