What discussions has the Counsel General had with the new Secretary of State for Wales regarding the defence of the European Convention on Human Rights?
I and the Minister for Social Justice have had meetings with UK Government Ministers, as well as with Welsh Stakeholders, since the consultation on replacing the Human Rights Act 1998 (HRA) with a Bill of Rights was launched in December 2021, including a meeting with the Deputy Prime Minister in February. The Welsh Government submitted a response to this consultation in March, which set out how human rights, the HRA and the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) have been “at the heart of devolution in Wales”. The Minister for Social Justice and I also issued a Written Statement when the Bill of Rights was introduced in the House of Commons on 22 June.
I also attended a meeting of the Cross-Party Group on Human Rights on 30 June and met the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, Dunja Mijatović on 13 July. The Bill of Rights Bill and the ECHR were the main topics of discussion at both meetings.
I have not yet had a meeting with the new Secretary of State for Wales, Robert Buckland MP, since he was appointed on 7 July. When we meet, I intend to highlight again the Welsh Government’s substantial concerns about the Bill of Rights Bill. Although the Deputy Prime Minister has recently confirmed that the UK will remain signatory to the ECHR, our concerns remain that the Bill could lead to regression on human rights in Wales and the UK.