The new Justice Secretary, Dominic Raab, has revealed new details about how he plans to prevent interference from Strasbourg in British matters as part of his overhaul of the Human Rights Act.
At the Conservative Party conference earlier this month, the Justice Secretary said Boris Johnson had given him the task of rewriting the law when he moved him from the Foreign Office in September’s reshuffle.
In an update on those incoming changes, Raab has said soldiers and UK institutions such as the police and health service should not be “dictated to” by judges in Europe.
During an interview with the Sunday Telegraph, he also repeated an assertion he made during his conference speech in Manchester about the Act being used by criminals to prevent their deportation.
Speaking to the newspaper, the Cabinet minister, who is also the Deputy Prime Minister, warned that a “serious issue” was developing where foreign criminals were using the Act’s “right to family life” clause to frustrate deportation orders, with it being cited in “somewhere between 100 and 200 cases a year”.
The proposals to shake up the Human Rights Act are likely to be put before MPs in the spring, with changes to the judicial review process possibly to be debated before the month is out.
The plan had initially been to give a second reading to the Judicial Review and Courts Bill on Monday, but the House of Commons is preparing to clear its timetable to make way for tributes to Conservative MP Sir David Amess, who was murdered on Friday.
Raab told the Telegraph it was “wrong” that judges in Strasbourg ruled on matters relating to British soldiers fighting overseas, telling the newspaper he was studying how to wind in the court’s influence in the UK.
“I don’t think it’s the job of the European Court in Strasburg to be dictating things to, whether it’s the NHS, whether it’s our welfare provision, or whether it’s our police forces,” the Lord Chancellor said.
“We want the Supreme Court to have a last word on interpreting the laws of the land, not the Strasbourg court.”
As part of his judicial review proposals, Mr Raab told the Sunday newspaper he wanted to change the current system, which he said left the door open to lengthy and expensive legal challenges which were being used to “harpoon” major Government infrastructure projects and slowing down development.