Human Rights Bill [Lords] — Guarantee of non-discrimination — 2 Jul 1998

Considered in Committee [Progress, 24 June].

I beg to move, That the clause be read a Second time.

The Second Deputy Chairman of Ways and Means (Mr. Michael Lord):

With this, it will be convenient to discuss the following: New clause 1-- Breach of right to privacy --

circumstances, at an interlocutory stage, the judge says to the plaintiff, 'I am sorry, but the right to utter an untruth, if it proves to be so, takes precedence over your right to protect your reputation.' The injunction is not granted and the article is published."--[ Official Report , 17 June 1998; Vol. 314, c. 426.]

As to our interpretation of clause 6--the acts of public authorities--I can say without exaggeration that my postbag has been almost full of compliments for the exquisite clarity with which I presented an interpretation of how clause 6 would operate--

Question put and agreed to.

Clause read a Second time, and added to the Bill.

I beg to move, That the clause be read a Second time.

The Bill does not seek to introduce new human rights into our domestic law. It seeks merely to bring home the rights guaranteed by the European convention. New clause 10 is closely modelled on new clause 13, and on the earlier new clause tabled by the Government at the behest of the Churches, which were concerned about possible interpretations of convention rights. It is intended to help to guide our courts in their interpretation of article 14. It may be asked whether that is necessary, given considerable jurisprudence over the years on article 14, but it has not been conclusively determined whether that article should be interpreted as setting out rights that are exhaustively covered by the phrase "such as", or whether that phrase is merely a preliminary--I submit that that was what was intended--to an illustration of the rights protected by the convention.

The point is limited in some respects. By passing my new clause, the Committee would not widen the ambit of protection to categories of people who are not specifically mentioned in article 14 of the convention for such matters as, for example, employment, which is not covered. Article 14 is, in a sense, a parasitic prohibition against discrimination, in that it derives from other protected fundamental rights and freedoms. A number of people are concerned that it would be possible to interpret the article restrictively and to treat categories of persons as exhaustive.

That would be undesirable, and it would be out of line with much jurisprudence. It would also be out of line with how courts in Ireland have interpreted comparable

2 Jul 1998 : Column 564

provisions in the Irish constitution, in which grounds of discrimination are enumerated. It would be out of line with the Canadian charter of rights and freedoms. In the Egan case in 1992, Canada's superior courts decided that such rights should be interpreted as not exclusively determined by lists of rights.

Question put , That the clause be read a Second time:--

The Committee divided: Ayes 18, Noes 234.

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Party Summary

Votes by party, red entries are votes against the majority for that party.

What is Tell? '+1 tell' means that in addition one member of that party was a teller for that division lobby.

What are Boths? An MP can vote both aye and no in the same division. The boths page explains this.

What is Turnout? This is measured against the total membership of the party at the time of the vote.

PartyMajority (No)Minority (Aye)BothTurnout
Con0 000.0%
Lab234 (+2 tell) 1056.7%
LDem0 17 (+2 tell)041.3%
Total:234 18040.9%

Rebel Voters - sorted by party

MPs for which their vote in this division differed from the majority vote of their party. You can see all votes in this division, or every eligible MP who could have voted in this division

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Jeremy CorbynIslington NorthLabaye

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