Home Secretary Theresa May wants Human Rights Act axed

Theresa May Theresa May says the Home Office has had "some problems" with the Human Rights Act

Related Stories

The home secretary has called for the Human Rights Act to be scrapped, less than a fortnight after Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg said it was "here to stay".

The act enshrines the European Convention on Human Rights into UK law.

But Theresa May told the Sunday Telegraph she "personally" would like to see it go because of the problems it caused for the Home Office.

Lib Dem Chris Huhne has warned scrapping the act would threaten the coalition.

The coalition has set up a commission comprising of human rights experts to report on the possibility of bringing in a Bill of Rights for the UK to replace the Human Rights Act, by the end of the year.

'Extremely uncomfortable'

Speaking as the Conservative Party conference got under way in Manchester, Ms May said: "I'd personally like to see the Human Rights Act go because I think we have had some problems with it.

"I see it, here in the Home Office, particularly, the sort of problems we have in being unable to deport people who perhaps are terrorist suspects.

"Obviously we've seen it with some foreign criminals who are in the UK."

Prime Minister David Cameron said he agreed with Mrs May that the act should be scrapped and replaced with a British Bill of Rights.


Speaking to the BBC's Andrew Marr Show, he said that because of the coalition it would take longer to review this than he would like.

He also said he wanted to change the "chilling culture" created by the act.

Start Quote

Only a pretty 'nasty party' would promote human rights in the Middle East whilst scrapping them at home.”

End Quote Shami Chakrabarti Liberty

He cited an example of a prison van being driven nearly 100 miles to be used to transport a prisoner 200 yards "when he was perfectly happy to walk".

"The Human Rights Act doesn't say that's what you have to do. It's the sort of chilling effect of people thinking 'I will be found guilty under it'.

"The government can do a huge amount to communicate to institutions and individuals let's have some commonsense, let's have some judgment, let's have that applying rather than this over-interpretation of what's there."

Britain is about to start a six-month role as chair of the Council of Europe, which would be an opportunity to influence how the European Convention on Human Rights works, he said.

"We're going to try to get some commonsense in at that end as well. Would I like to go further and faster? Yes, I have said so."

But Mr Clegg, the Deputy Prime Minister, defended the act at his party's conference.

'Lazy and incoherent'

Mr Huhne, the Lib Dem energy secretary, said: "If Conservative backbenchers persist in wanting to tear up the European Convention on Human Rights, then I can foresee a time when this party would be extremely uncomfortable in coalition," he said.

Shadow justice minister Sadiq Khan described scrapping the act as a "lazy and incoherent position to hold".

"When Tory ministers blame the Human Rights Act, it's usually an excuse not to sort out the problem or a cover for their own failing policies," he said.

He called on government to clarify the coalition's stance.

"Either the deputy prime minister has been overruled, or this is another fantasy policy from Theresa May."

Human rights organisation Liberty did not welcome the government's stance.

Director Shami Chakrabarti said: "Modern Conservatives should think again about human rights values that were truly Churchill's legacy.

"Only a pretty 'nasty party' would promote human rights in the Middle East whilst scrapping them at home."


More on This Story

Related Stories

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites


This entry is now closed for comments

Jump to comments pagination
  • rate this

    Comment number 328.

    Babies & bathwater. When the HRA has resulted in manifestly wrong decisions, it's been because citizens who haven't lived up to their responsibilities as members of society have nevertheless claimed rights. If HRA was balanced by a Citizen's Responsibilities act, clearly stating which rights were forfeit for which levels of crime, then we would see an end to the occasional nonsenses we get now.

  • rate this

    Comment number 310.

    The HRA in its current form robs people of their right to security and destroys safe communities. It simply doesn't work in its current form. It not fit for purposes and should be replaced with one which is based on pragmatism not PC dogma.

  • rate this

    Comment number 204.

    The HRA is frequently abused and has gone a long way in undermining my faith in the British justice system. Axe it!

  • rate this

    Comment number 153.

    The intention of the HRA is to do good. The issue is with people abusing it and claiming 'rights' where they deserve none. Prisoners, terrorists etc should not have their rights put before that of victims or intended victims. The Act has been used to allow a minority to adversely affect the majority and at a huge cost to the tax payer so if a Bill of Rights will correct that then bring it on.

  • rate this

    Comment number 91.

    This goes both ways. We don't want to throw away ALL of our rights for the sake of a few people who find respecting Human Rights "problematic".
    If we are going to have a British Bill Of Rights it has to be created by the people, not unilaterally by a powerful elite. They don't have the same lives as the rest of the country, and they are clueless.
    Be very careful what you wish for!


Comments 5 of 7


More Politics stories



Try our new site and tell us what you think. Learn more
Take me there

Copyright © 2015 BBC. The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.