James Cleverly: Parliament has a fantastic track record on standing up for human rights

James Cleverly speaking in the debate on the Brexit Bill, 16 January 2018

James Cleverly rejects an amendment to the Brexit Bill that would see the Charter of Fundamental Rights continue to apply to domestic law post-Brexit as the rights already exist in UK law and Parliament has a good track record on standing up for human rights.

James Cleverly (Braintree) (Con)

The catalogue of rights that the hon. Gentleman has just read out is impressive, without a shadow of a doubt. Will he concede, however, that throughout the glorious history of this place, Governments of all political persuasions have enshrined, in primary legislation and elsewhere, rights that include almost all of those? Indeed, in continental Europe, when many of those rights were being stripped down and attacked, this place had a fantastic track record of defending them both in the UK and in other parts of the world, spilling the blood of our young people in order to do so. How on earth can the hon. Gentleman think that we would strip them away?

Mr Leslie

No one is more proud of being a member of this fine body than I am. Parliament is a great institution: I would say that it is one of the greatest democratic institutions in the world. We are perfectly capable of dealing with many of these issues, but the hon. Gentleman unwittingly went against his own argument when he said “almost” all the rights in the charter were covered or duplicated in primary legislation. Not all of them are covered, as was made clear in some of the evidence that the Select Committee heard.

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James Cleverly

I am not trying to scrape over the point I made earlier, but I am very proud of the history of this place in enacting and protecting rights whether they are in primary legislation or not. The implication of what the hon. Gentleman is saying is that, upon our departure from the EU, unless we bind the hands of Governments of the future in some way, we can no longer trust this place to enhance and protect human rights. Can he reassure me that in no way is he implying that this place will in any way in the foreseeable future row back from its commitment to extending human rights?

Mr Leslie

Who knows what will happen in terms of future majorities in this place. The hon. Gentleman is still not explaining to me why this issue of all the issues ​should not be carried forward into legislation. He says he is in favour of almost all, or all of the rights in the charter, but we know there are examples where problems arise.

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