Joint Committee on Human Rights Appendices to the Minutes of Evidence



Memorandum by the Cabinet Office


What efforts has your Department made so far to implement the Act, and, in particular, to build a "human rights culture"?

  1.  The impact of the Human Rights Act has been less substantial for the Cabinet Office than for those Departments whose core business involve the profession of services direct to the public. Nevertheless, we have been committed to promoting a human rights culture. The Office embarked at an early stage on a review of our policy areas and working practices.

  2.  We have made sure that information about Human Rights Act guidance and training facilities are available to staff members. Individuals have benefited from a variety of opportunities: internal training sessions and presentations have been held, and individuals have had access to the Civil Service College's Human Rights Act training course. We have used the Cabinet Office intranet site to disseminate guidance about the Act, publishing the Home Office's core Guidance, and providing links to the fuller range of material provided on the Home Office site.

  3.  We have also followed Home Office requirements in briefing Agencies and other sponsored organisations about the Act's implications for their work.

How has the Act affected your Department's approach to human rights issues and what have been the consequences both for policy-formulation and for the delivery of services?

  4.  The Human Rights Act has of course necessitated a systematic approach to human rights issues, which now feature in the services we provide to Government in a number of ways—for instance:

    (i)  the Civil Service College has played an important part in providing training across Government and the public sector with dedicated Human Rights Act courses;

    (ii)  Economic and Domestic Secretariat checks that Bill teams have taken on board the need to be clear about the implications of the Human Rights Act when preparing their Bills;

    (iii)  Constitution Secretariat now co-ordinate the central monitoring of the impact of the Human Rights Act post-implementation, and will produce regular reports for Ministers.

What have been the implications of any court judgements on human rights matters since the Act came into force on 2 October?

  5.  There have been no court judgments with any direct impact on the Cabinet Office's policy areas.

What impact has the Act had on everyday life in your fields of responsibility?

  6.  Given our particular role in providing services to the rest of the Government, human rights issues do not arise on a daily basis for the majority of our staff. Nevertheless, now that commencement has happened, monitoring legal developments is of course a serious concern for the Cabinet Office.

Have you addressed the duty under section 19 of the Act to make statements of compatibility or non-compatibility with the Convention in relation to Government bills? What problems has this process created?

  7.  The Cabinet Office has had a relatively light legislative schedule, but we have addressed that duty seriously with the Regulatory Reform Bill (about which you wrote to Lord Falconer on 14 February requesting specific information). The process has not led to any significant problems.

March 2001

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