Geoffrey Cox: British Bill of Rights could be compatible with European convention on human rights

1st July 2015
Speaking in a debate on the future of the Human Rights Act 1998, Geoffrey Cox dispels the suggestion that it would not be possibly to have a British Bill of Rights alongside adherence to the European convention on human rights.
Mr Geoffrey Cox (Torridge and West Devon) (Con): If it is so impossible to have a British Bill of Rights alongside adherence to the convention, why is it the case that Germany, France and almost every other European country have their own constitutions with enshrined charters of rights that sit quite comfortably alongside adherence to the convention?
Andy Slaughter: That question is for the Minister to answer, because we have seen literally nothing from the Government to explain any compatibility. As for the question about “taking into account” raised by the hon. Member for Cheltenham (Alex Chalk) and how we square the circle between the judgments of the Strasbourg Court, our own higher courts and the sovereignty of Parliament—none of that is in issue any more. The question really, if I may put it back to the hon. and learned Member for Torridge and West Devon (Mr Cox), is this: what is wrong with the existing system that allows the law to evolve and the judiciary in this country to influence judgments of the European Court, often in an entirely beneficial way because of the quality of such judgments? Why are we seeking to retreat from, rather than to advance the cause of international law? Why are we seeking not to have the benefit of international law? It seems to be a little England, or little UK approach, and when the hon. Gentleman reflects on it, he might find himself on the side of those who believe that little needs to change, instead of throwing out an honourable tradition of human rights drawn up over many centuries.

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