Tories to move fast on Human Rights Act

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The Conservatives will bring forward plans to “curtail” the role of the controversial European Court of Human Rights in the UK, Justice Secretary Chris Grayling said yesterday.

Mr Grayling confirmed the Tories would set out their proposals in time to be included in the party’s manifesto for next year’s general election.

The move comes after the two staunchest supporters of the European Convention on Human Rights among Conservatives in the Cabinet – Kenneth Clarke and former Attorney General Dominic Grieve – lost their jobs in David Cameron’s reshuffle of his top team.

Their departures – with Mr Clarke retiring from government and Mr Grieve getting the sack –were widely seen as clearing the way for Mr Cameron to fight the election on a platform of radical reform – possibly withdrawing from the convention altogether.

The Conservatives cannot act in this parliament as their Liberal Democrat coalition partners are strongly committed to the convention.

Speaking on BBC Radio 4’s The World at One, Mr Grayling said: “We will curtail the role of the European Convention on Human Rights in the UK. We will replace Labour’s Human Rights Act (enshrining the convention in British law).

“We will have a balance of rights and responsibilities in our law, which I think is very important, and we will have a Supreme Court that is supreme. That gives a very clear sense of direction, of the big change which is what I think we need.”

Many Tories would like Britain to withdraw from the convention following a series of adverse rulings by the court in Strasbourg – including a ruling that prisoners should be entitled to vote.