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Human rights: Coalition Government split by call to scrap Human Rights Act

The Home Secretary Theresa May's comments yesterday (2 October) about scrapping the Human Rights Act angered the Liberal Democrat members of the coalition Government and ignited intense debate.

The Home Secretary complained that the Act made it difficult to deport foreign criminals and suspected terrorists who could claim that their human rights were being infringed.

She said: "I'd personally like to see the Human Rights Act go because I think we have some problems with it.

"I see it, here in the Home Office, particularly, the sort of problems we have in being unable to deport people who perhaps are terrorist suspects.

"Obviously we've seen it with some foreign criminals who are in the UK."

The Prime Minister has agreed that the current legislation, which came into force before the terrorist attacks in New York in 2001 and in London in 2005, needs changing.

He claimed he would prefer to do away with the Human Rights Act and replace it with a British Bill of Rights.

However, at his party conference last month, leader of the Liberal Democrats Nick Clegg stated that the Act was "here to stay".

Chris Huhne, the Liberal Democrat Energy Secretary, said: "If Conservative backbenchers persist in wanting to tear up the European Convention on Human Rights, then I can foresee a time when this party would be extremely uncomfortable in coalition."

But Mr Cameron's comments at the party conference in Manchester yesterday seemed to suggest that the Conservatives did indeed plan to go ahead with the change to legislation, with only the Liberal Democrat members of the coalition slowing the process down.

When asked if there were no resistance from the Liberal Democrats would he scrap the Human Rights Act, Mr Cameron replied, "Yes. Would I like to go further and faster? Yes, I have said so."

Since Britain is soon take on a six-month role as chair the Council of Europe, it will be an opportunity to influence how the European Convention on Human Rights Works.

Related links:
Read more on the story (The Independent)
The articles of the Human Rights Act in detail (FindLaw)
Find local specialist solicitors throughout the UK (FindLaw)