Rt Hon Lord Lilley

    Oral Parliamentary Question (OPQ)
    Date of Answer: 18.07.2007
    Column References: 463 c261-2
    Member Tabling Question: Lilley, Peter
    Topic: Human Rights Act
    Question: I am grateful to the Lord High Chancellor for his answer and welcome him to his post. Has not the decision to enshrine in law the declaration of human rights proved to be an own goal in that it has limited the power of Government to uphold the rights and security of the people of this country? Is not the underlying problem the fact that rights are not absolutes but need to be balanced against each other, which requires political judgment and common sense, and that that is best left not to lawyers but to Parliament, which developed those human rights in the first place?
    Answering Department: Ministry of Justice
    Member Answering Question: Straw, Jack
    Answer: Of course rights have to be balanced by responsibilities, and that is precisely what the European convention on human rights does. As the shadow Lord Chancellor, Lord Kingsland, has pointed out, it was drafted not by some rabid radical socialist-leaning French or Italian lawyers but by Sir David Maxwell Fyfe, later Lord Kilmuir, a senior and highly respected member of the Conservative Bench. Its rights are supposed to constrain the power of the state against the individual. If the right hon. Gentleman is serious about wishing to withdraw from the European convention or to reduce rights, he must say which rights he wants reduced. Does he want the right to life to be reduced? Does he want the prohibition on torture or the right to a fair trial to be abolished? Does he want the right to marry-I know that he is concerned about such matters-to be cut out, along with respect for private and family life? It is time for Opposition Members to move away from slogan-making and instead put up or be quiet about which aspects of this great convention they wish to be repealed.