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Sturgeon: Scrapping Human Rights Act is irresponsible

Nicola Sturgeon believes scrapping the Human Rights Act will harm people in the UK. Credit: PA

Scrapping the Human Rights Act in the UK would diminish its reputation, Nicola Sturgeon will warn on Wednesday.

In a speech in Glasgow, Scotland's First Minister will say "no responsible government should even be considering such a step".

She believes the plan, an election pledge by the Conservatives, creates a "completely unnecessary dilemma" and "addresses no obvious problem".

"There is instead a clear risk that it will create legal confusion; harm people in the UK who need support and protection; and give comfort to illiberal governments around the world," Ms Sturgeon is expected to say.


Sturgeon: SNP will block scrapping Human Rights Act

MPs for the Scottish National Party (SNP) will join forces with other opposition parties in an effort to block Tory plans to scrap the Human Rights Act, SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon has said.

Nicola Sturgeon has said the SNP will work to keep the Human Rights Act. Credit: Andrew Milligan / PA Wire/PA Images

The First Minister claimed the Conservatives' agenda "lacks legitimacy in Scotland", where David Cameron's party has just a single MP.

The SNP's priority is ending austerity, and the damage it does to people's lives - the Tory government's priority is ending human rights, and the opportunities for fairness they offer ordinary men and women.

For example, it was the Human Rights Act that enabled people to go to court in this country to challenge the grossly unfair bedroom tax.

To scrap the Human Rights Act would be an appallingly retrograde step.

– Nicola Sturgeon

The Scottish Government's Cabinet Secretary for Social Justice, Communities and Pensioners' Rights, Alex Neil, has already written written to UK Justice Secretary Michael Gove "to reiterate the Scottish Government's opposition to the repeal of the Human Rights Act".

Ms Sturgeon said she also raised the matter directly with the Prime Minister when they met and Holyrood could refuse consent to abolish the Act.

She added: "SNP MPs will work across party lines at Westminster to defeat the Tory government on the Human Rights Act - and the SNP Government will invite the Scottish Parliament to refuse legislative consent to scrap it, given the strong devolved dimension.

"This important issue illustrates how Holyrood working together with SNP MPs and others at Westminster can challenge a Tory agenda that lacks legitimacy in Scotland - and help the cause of progressive politics across the UK."

Government 'too timid' in Sri Lanka summit approach

The Government was too "timid" in its approach to allowing a prestigious Commonwealth summit to take place in Sri Lanka next month despite concerns over human rights in the country, MPs have said.

The cross-party group said the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) should have taken a "more robust stance" over the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM), which takes place in Colombo and will be attended by the Prime Minister.

The Foreign Affairs Select Committee said David Cameron should seek assurances from the authorities in Sri Lanka that anyone who raises human rights concerns with him at the meeting in Colombo will not face reprisals from the security forces.

Concern over UK arms exports to repressive countries

Over 3,000 export licenses for the sale of arms and other military equipment to states on the Foreign Office's countries of human rights concern have been issued, MPs have found.

Over 3,000 export licenses have been issued to countries of concern. Credit: REUTERS/Ibraheem Abu Mustafa

The combined value of the licenses, which remain in force, came to more than £12 billion, according to the Commons Committees on Arms Export Controls (CAEC).

Iran, Sri Lanka, Saudi Arabia, Russia, China and Belarus are among the countries who have been issued licenses.

There are only two nations out of the 27 on the Foreign Office's list of concern that do not hold valid licenses - North Korea and South Sudan.

The CAEC said the numbers were "surprisingly large" but acknowledged many of the licences were for dual-use items (military or civilian).


UK takes migrant children responsibilities 'seriously'

The UK takes its international responsibilities to children seriously and their welfare is at the heart of every decision made.

Unaccompanied asylum-seeking children are always given individual support and reassurance from those in social services and immigration.

Age assessments are vital in ensuring that children and adults are treated appropriately as unfortunately adults claim to be children in order to access this specialist support.

Rightly, local authorities are responsible for making this decision - as they need to make sure that adults are not placed in accommodation with vulnerable children.

– Home Office spokeswoman

Migrant children 'are some of the most vulnerable'

Unaccompanied migrant children in the asylum and immigration processes are some of the most vulnerable young people in the United Kingdom.

They have often fled conflict situations abroad or have been victims of abuse and exploitation, including those who arrive as victims of trafficking.

It is crucial that they are supported effectively. We do not find it satisfactory that immigration concerns are too often given priority when dealing with such children, in doing so the UK is falling short of the obligations it owes to such children under the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.

– Joint Committee on Human Rights chairman Dr Hywel Francis MP

Children seeking safety in UK 'face culture of disbelief'

A group of MP and peers have said Britain is falling short of obligations set out under international law for dealing with migrant children.

According to a report by the Joint Committee on Human Rights:

  • In 2012, around 1,200 such children sought asylum in the UK, and around 2,150 unaccompanied migrant children were being cared for by local authorities.
  • Children who had often faced traumatic journeys faced intensive interviews on arrival.
  • There was also evidence of children being placed in inappropriate accommodation without suitably trained staff
  • A lack of support was "starkly" demonstrated by the "culture of disbelief" about the age of unaccompanied asylum-seeking children.
  • It found that the age of unaccompanied migrant children is too often disputed, putting their welfare and best interests at risk.
  • MPs also said decisions on children's futures are too often delayed until they approach adulthood, leaving children uncertain about what their futures will hold.
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