Joint Committee On Human Rights Fourth Report


FOURTH REPORT

The Joint Committee on Human Rights has agreed to the following Report:

SCRUTINY OF BILLS: FURTHER PROGRESS REPORT


Summary

This Report examines the human rights implications of the Licensing Bill, the Courts Bill and the Communications Bill in the light of the Government's responses to the Committee's questions on a number of points. The Committee draws attention to the following matters—

In relation to the Licensing Bill, the Committee considers—

— that the requirements for licensing premises in which public performances are to take place are not sufficiently focussed to be compatible with the rights of performers under ECHR Article 10 (paragraphs 19 and 21).

In relation to the Courts Bill, the Committee considers—

— that clause 37, potentially affecting rights of individuals whose cases were decided by a bench of magistrates including a Justice of the Peace whose appointment was invalid by reason of section 3 of the Act of Settlement 1700, and the doctrine of de facto authority, raise issues of legal certainty under ECHR Article 6 (paragraph 35); and

— that clause 83 of that Bill should be amended to provide for equality of arms between prosecution and defence in respect of the time limits for applying for permission to appeal (paragraph 36).

In relation to the Communications Bill, the Committee—

— accepts the Government's grounds for introducing the Bill without being able to say confidently that clause 309 (banning political advertising in the broadcast media) would be compatible with ECHR Article 10 (paragraph 41); and

   — considers that there is a risk of violating rights under ECHR Articles 6 and 8 by reason of a weakness in safeguards for the privilege against self-incrimination and legal professional privilege in respect of investigations under the Bill, and for procedural propriety in decision-making under clause 230 (paragraphs 44 and 48).

In other respects, the Committee concludes that these Bills are not likely to give rise to a significant risk of incompatibility with Convention or other human rights.

The Committee also reports that a number of other Government Bills and Private Members' Bills are not, in its view, likely to give rise to incompatibilities with Convention rights (paragraphs 54 and 55).

Finally, the Committee reports further on two Private Bills, the Hereford Markets Bill and the Nottingham City Council Bill, in the light of further correspondence (paragraphs 56-61).

Introduction

1. This Report sets out our considered views on the human rights implications of three Government Bills: the Licensing Bill, the Courts Bill and the Communications Bill, in the light of the Government's responses to a number of questions raised with Ministers. We also report on our preliminary consideration of a number of other Government Bills and private Members' Bills.


 
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