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 163.

    the magna carta among other bills gave us this not the human right act

    You clearly haven't read Magna Carta (properly). It gave the Barons rights, didnt do much for ordainary people (tho the franchise of some it was later extended). It was also highly anti semitic depriving the jews of rights. By the second half of the 19th century nearly all of its clauses had been repealed

  • rate this

    Comment number 162.

    I agree Paul, there is more of an agenda behind this threatened abolition. Cuts in legal aid combined with changes in law may leave citizens vulnerable; and as protests and possible unrest may continue (just look at whats happening in the US), the last thing we need is to lose some of our (at times) flimsy protection.

  • rate this

    Comment number 161.

    Sydney Lotterby, thank you for the correction and my apologies for my misunderstanding, however the fact of whom has gained from that decision still stands. Repealing the HRA and returning to the original system would, under your facts, therefore not impact upon the Human rights of people in this country but rather make it harder for the privelaged few to gain from others woes?

  • rate this

    Comment number 160.

    I have got announcement to make; Yemeni President Mr Saleh and Syrian President Baser Esad have just sent their congratulations to Theresa May. If this Dictatorship regime gets rid of the Human Rights then, they can commit many bloody Sunday like incidents without paying compensations. That is what our Lord Dictators want and the servants doing everything they can to get rid of Human Rights.

  • rate this

    Comment number 159.

    134 - Alina. I couldn't agree more!
    While the HRA does a lot of good, as long as those people who mean others harm are allowed to hide behind the HRA then something is very wrong. It does need revision to help protect the innocent - not the guilty. As many have said, those who benefit most are greedy lawyers who charge massive fees to overturn legal decisions aimed at protecting the masses.

  • rate this

    Comment number 158.

    The only times I have heard of the Human Rights Act being used, have been for the unworthy to extract cash from the government. I accept that prisoners have rights, but I believe that any 'winnings' should first be offered to their victims as compensation. Only once their victims have been compensated and the cost of their detention covered, should they benefit personally.

    Steven Quas Collins

  • rate this

    Comment number 157.

    The problem is I dont trust the ConDems to come out with a proposal that defends our rights.

    Teresa May, Cameron, Osbourne etc are the least trustworthy humans you can imagine.

    All they care about is their egos and protecting the rich and big corporates.

    Im worried that this means they want to take away the rights of the average citizen.

  • rate this

    Comment number 156.

    The UK was perfectly OK without this Bill. And, Labour didn’t introduce it because UK citizens needed more Human rights; it was simply a concession by Blair to the left. Moreover, even Labour regretted implementing it, because they then spent the next decade legislating around it. Any legislation which hinders national security and does not command universal public support must be questioned

  • rate this

    Comment number 155.

    The Human Rights Act was all well and good when it was enacted but since then it has been used as a charter to overthrow Sovereign Laws made in the UK

    Lets assume you're right, the HRA meant UK Human Rights cases were judged in UK courts rather than by council of Europe court. So the people using it to overthrow UK sovereign law are UK Judges in UK courts.
    I wonder why, sabotage?

  • rate this

    Comment number 154.

    Mmm..another massive red herring. The Government have the power to get rid of it - we don't need T.May telling us she is not in favour. Any sign of any action on this point...didn't think so... Torys and Lib Dems are great on words, woefully lacking on any action, except giving £250m to enforce my right to have my bin collected weekly. What a joke...

  • 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 152.

    More knowledgeable posters like TMR have debunked myths associated with HRA more times than Dave Nick and Ed have said one thing and done another......yet still the myopics keep recycling the same disinformation.

  • rate this

    Comment number 151.

    the final step of a dictator

  • rate this

    Comment number 150.

    Before the HRA came into force I went to a seminar about it led by a barrister, eminent in his field. He walked to the podium, looked at us, shook his head and said 'You lot have NO idea what you are going to be in for!'. Actually, having already perused the Act some of us were all too aware & unfortunately over the years our worst fears were confirmed.

  • rate this

    Comment number 149.

    The ECHR was only implemented in this country in 1997,

    The ECHR was implemented in this country in 1950. The Human rights act was passed in 1997, repealing it does not repeal the ECHR, it just means British courts will no longer be able to make ECHR judgements, instead ECHR cases will have to go to the Council of Europe (NOT EU) Court as they did pre 1997

  • rate this

    Comment number 148.

    Just goes to show how much the Lib Dems are out of touch, don't bother with a UK bill of right's put it to a referendum where we decide. Everyone should have a human right but it is just abused as you have a human right to do whatever you like.

  • rate this

    Comment number 147.

    What we could do with is a wriitten constitution outlining the rights of the citizen as our American cousins have. Perhaps it could include the right of referendum on matters concerning all citizens, like whether to opt out of the EU for example. Call me Dave appears to think we have no right to a referendum, rather relying on his perception of what we want.Nice to be asked thoigh

  • rate this

    Comment number 146.

    The Human Rights Act was all well and good when it was enacted but since then it has been used as a charter to overthrow Sovereign Laws made in the UK AND to make money for unscrupulous lawyers, one who will remain nameless, loads of money using it against his own Countries laws. We need our own Bill of Rights and then the ECHR can leave the UK and its elected Parliamentary enacted Laws alone.

  • rate this

    Comment number 145.

    I have long been a advocate of this proposal and it's revocation is way overdue.
    It plays a major part in our Immigration problems and when all is said and done, NO-ONE in this Country requires the use of the Act. IF an individual find themselves in a position where the this ACT can 'bail them out' then the answer is simple. They are NOT living by our Laws, our Standards and our expectations.

  • rate this

    Comment number 144.

    I don't think we need this Act which was thrust upon us! There was a group of lawyers set up ready to operate in the system before we had even agreed to implement it and have since made a fortune from it.
    As a country we should vote it off our books we were quite alone in accepting it, other states didn't bother and probably have not passed it in to law for themselves yet.
    Why must we have it?


Page 12 of 20


More Politics stories



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.