Memorandum submitted by the Lord Chancellor's
HUMAN RIGHTS POLICY IMPLEMENTATION
1. Following the General Election responsibility
for domestic human rights policy, including work on the Human
Rights Act, passed from the Home Secretary to the Lord Chancellor.
Michael Wills MP has responsibility, under the Lord Chancellor,
for this subject. Staff and other resources committed by the Home
Office to these functions (mainly the Home Office Human Rights
Unit) are now under the Lord Chancellor's Department (LCD), as
is the associated legal co-ordination function (previously with
the Cabinet Office).
2. The work of the Home Office Human Rights
Unit until the transfer is described in the Memorandum which the
then Home Secretary provided to the Committee in March 2001.
3. The main aims and priorities for the
implementation of the Human Rights Act are similar to those pursued
by the Home Office. They are to:
ensure that public authorities, within
and outside Whitehall, have the information and guidance they
need, and to
help promote and develop a culture
of rights and responsibilities.
4. The Human Rights Division also assists
Ministers in relation to the UK's domestic position under various
international human rights instruments. This topic is the subject
of a separate request for a Memorandum (Paul Evans' letter of
7 November to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, now transferred
to the Lord Chancellor's Department). This will be dealt with
5. An overview of the services currently
supplied by the Human Rights Division is at Annex A.
6. Achievement of the Government's priorities
for its policy on human rights is, of course, not a matter just
for the Human Rights Division, or for the LCD alone: the Government
has repeatedly made it clear that all Departments must play their
part in "mainstreaming" human rights and delivering
appropriate awareness on the ground and in the services they deliver.
This general policy was set out in the Home Office Memorandum
referred to in paragraph 2 above and is being carried forward,
for example, in the last circular letter to Permanent Secretaries
about the Human Rights Act (copy at annex B). It is important
to bear in mind that whilst LCD seeks to prompt and, where appropriate,
co-ordinate human rights activity, it does not, and could not,
direct other departments regarding the policies for which their
Ministers are responsible.
7. Considerable effort is devoted to ensuring
satisfactory co-ordination of human rights interests across Government.
At the Ministerial level, a special Cabinet Committee (CRP(EC))
remains in place to underpin cross-departmental co-ordination
of human rights issues and the implementation of the Human Rights
Act. Its membership and terms of reference are at annex C.
8. The arrangements for co-ordinating legal
work on human rights have been revised following the changes in
the machinery of government. A team of three lawyers in the LCD
works on this, in partnership with the Human Rights Division.
The Human Rights Division and the team of lawyers have networks
of contact points in each Department which they use to collect,
co-ordinate and disseminate information as necessary.
9. The purposes of co-ordination are to:
help Departments resolve Convention
issues, either in litigation or elsewhere
to ensure that issues of wide importance
are considered collectively
ensure a consistent approach across
Government, and to
share information so that lawyers
across Government are aware of developments that might affect
10. Lawyers in the Treasury Solicitors'
department deal with litigation, particularly where the Treasury
Solicitor is acting. And FCO legal advisers remain the UK's agents
for Strasbourg litigation and are departments' principal consultants
on Strasbourg case law.
11. We have asked all Departments to be
alert to the interests of other departments in dealing with human
rights issues. They are to inform LCD about "hot cases",
significant changes to procedure and legislation, and pending
legislation. This information is compiled for circulation to Ministers
and officials. Though Departments are encouraged to liaise in
any event, the internal guidance makes it clear that LCD should
always be contacted:
when proposed legislation or litigation
on existing legislation raises an important, unusual or cross-departmental
human rights point, or a point on the construction of the Human
Rights Act itself
when it is proposed to depart from
agreed legal positions on the Human Rights Act as advised in special
guidance circulated by LCD
when assistance is required in agreeing
a position that requires interdepartmental agreement
in advance of a significant court
judgement on a human rights issue
in developing options for dealing
with a declaration of incompatibility
where it is proposed to consult the
any notification made under section
5 of the Human Rights Act (where the notification is made to someone
other than the Treasury Solicitor).
12. Where departments have generated or
commissioned legal advice on a human rights issue that might usefully
be shared with colleagues, the presumption is that the advice
should be shared. LCD assists by circulating either the advice
or a summary.
13. The information circulated by LCD includes:
a periodic index of Law Officers'
and FCO advice on human rights. The latter is sent to devolved
administrations as well as to Whitehall departments.
judgements and other material of
general interest from Strasbourg (again this goes to devolved
administrations and to Whitehall departments)
miscellaneous points of guidance
and information, counsel's opinions and internal legal advice,
consideration of human rights issues outside government, for example
in the Joint Committee on Human Rights
notifications of possible declarations
under section 5 of the Human Rights Act. These are served on the
person named in the list published under section 17 of the Crown
Proceedings Act 1947 (normally, but not always, the Treasury Solicitor).
Depending on the subject-matter, a lead department will be identified,
and the papers will be circulated to that and other interested
14. Meetings are held regularly and ad hoc.
Regular meetings with Treasury Solicitors focus on civil rather
than criminal matters, but include a round-up of recent criminal
issues. There is a separate criminal issues group and "fast
track" group chaired by the Legal Secretariat to the Law
Officers. The second meets more fortnightly to identify cases
which might be "fast tracked". The meetings cover litigation
and policy items that need to be discussed collectively (leaving
other business, and the exchange of information, to be done on
15. Consistent with the "mainstreaming"
approach it remains for each Department and public authority to
assess its own training needs and secure the appropriate training
at all levels, including specialist legal training and "awareness
raising". However the LCD provides training materials and
speakers, on invitation, at a range of Departmental events, seminars
and conferences, as well as organising and providing a continuing
series of regional "roadshows" about the Human Rights
Act and its implications. The roadshows offer a review of key
cases; a talk on the meaning and practical implications of the
human rights culture; and practical exercises. No charge is made
for any such training or materials.
16. The Civil Service College provides a
range of dedicated training on the Act for administrators and
lawyers, as well as integrating human rights issues into its main
training programme. In particular it provides a two-day course
on the Human Rights Act which it has run 15 times since May 1999.
LCD has contributed to the design and content of courses, and
provides speakers for them. In addition, the College has provided
tailored in-house training for a range of Departments and public
authorities including Cabinet Office, Ministry of Defence, Department
of Trade and Industry, Department of Culture, Media and Sport,
Financial Services Agency, Department of Health, Department for
Education and Skills, Department for the Environment, Food and
Rural Affairs, the Intervention Board, War Pensions Agency, the
Radiocommunications Agency and the Isle of Man Government.
17. The LCD has a small team of seven people
devoted exclusively to human rights, including one person working
full-time on the Helpdesk. This team is the Human Rights Division.
They are supported by a legal team which is equivalent to at least
two full-time legal advisers. The Division has currently two additional
staff, acting as researchers, who are students employed on a temporary
basis. One of these is a French post-graduate specialist in international
law who has developed expertise in the work of the United Nations
Human Rights Committee.
18. The delegated budget for the Division
in this financial year is around £370,000 excluding publicity.
Although it is not possible at this stage to say if additional
resources will be made available for the next financial year,
no reduction is planned. In addition to the £370,000, about
£30,000 has been spent this year on printing, storage and
distribution of guidance material. A further £100,000 has
been given to assist culture building projects, namely distribution
of a human rights edition of the Young Citizenship Passport (with
the Citizenship Foundation); and to help develop an important
new project in schools and youth organisations across the UK to
promote a culture based on the Human Rights Act (a summary of
the pilot project for this is at annex D).
19. As Human Rights is mainstreamed throughout
Government Departments, human rights issues are increasingly integral
to daily work. Accordingly, it is difficult to separate out work
and resources as devoted specifically to "Human Rights".
It is not possible, for example, to identify how much of the budget
on Legal Aid is devoted specifically to human rights cases, since
cases raise human rights along with a broad range of other issues.
Departments have reported that though training resources and legal
advice are expended on human rights it is not possible to identify
20. Please see paragraph 18 above and the
summary overview at annex A. Over the last six months over 20,000
copies of guidance have been issued, 3,000 telephone enquiries
have been answered, and there have been around 132,000 `hits'
on the website. The Division and the associated LCD legal team
remain a focal point for knowledge and good practice on human
rights; is making significant contributions to a range of training
events, not least through its own `roadshow' events outside London.
As mentioned in paragraph 18, the Division is also sponsoring
a major culture-building, UK-wide youth project work on the Human
Rights Act (see annex D).
21. A significant proportion of LCD's effort
is taken up liaising with other Government Departments about specific
proposals or cases involving the Human Rights Act. Most of these
arise as a result of the guidance on referrals mentioned in paragraph
11 above, though we may become involved of our own initiative
(perhaps following media or other reports). Such work often entails
22. At least three more regional `roadshow'
events about the Human Rights Act will take place before Easter
and the Division will continue to supply speakers to other Departments
training and awareness events. These will increasingly focus on
the meaning, social utility and practical implications of the
culture at which the Act is aimed. We also plan to establish regular
but informal Ministerial meetings with the major Non-Governmental
Organisations operating in the human rights area and to involve
them more in our training events. The Unit is currently revising
the guidance for Whitehall Departments about the Act to take account
of experience since the Act's introduction and this should be
available by the end of February.
The popular Study Guide to the Act is also being completely updated
to include more useful information for members of the public.
This work is being done in close co-operation with the Bar Council
and should be completed by Easter. Work will also continue on
the youth awards scheme referred in paragraph 18 above.
23. The Human Rights Division's work on
the UK's reporting obligation under international human rights
treaties and associated departmental effort is the subject of
a separate memorandum.
1 This will include an important change to the guidance
about Ministerial statements under section 19 of the Human Rights