An overhaul of the Human Rights Act 1998 following government consultation – but not the report of last year independent review – should feature in the Queen’s Speech tomorrow. News reports over the weekend indicated that the legislative programme, which is expected to set the stage for the next general election, will also contain a long-awaited ‘Brexit Freedoms Bill’ as well as reform of the planning.
According to a Law Society briefing, the promised Bill of Rights will establish in law that national courts “may take into account” decisions of the European Court of Human Rights. It may also seek to replace Section 3 of the Human Rights Act with “a more restrictive limitation” on how judges can interpret legislation where it is apparently inconsistent with international law. The bill is likely to also include provisions for the automatic deportation of foreign criminals.
The speech is also likely to announce:
- A Brexit Freedoms Bill to create a mechanism to deal with EU legacy rules to remove “the special status and supremacy of EU law within the UK legal system”.
- A Leveling and Regeneration Bill to codify the government’s white paper on leveling up. It would cover decentralization measures, a government requirement to report annually on leveling missions and elements of the now dead planning bill to support regeneration in less prosperous places, potentially compulsory purchasing powers and support for the reuse of industrial wasteland.
- An economic crime bill to include reform of Companies House and limited liability companies, powers to seize criminals’ crypto-assets and money laundering information sharing.
- A Mental Health (Reform) Bill would aim to give people greater control over their treatment and reform the detention process, improve care and treatment while a person is detained and give them a better support to challenge the detention if she wishes.
- A state threats bill would reform official secrets laws, create a foreign influence registration system and give new powers to the security services. It is designed to prevent countries like Russia and China from operating secretly in the UK.
Other measures that may feature in the speech include free trade bills to cover new international trade agreements that require additional primary legislation; a Victims Bill, an Online Safety Bill and a Data Bill, which would reform EU legacy laws with a focus on reducing unnecessary barriers.
Among the proposed measures that would have been dropped from the Queen’s Speech is an Audit Bill that would create a new regulator of audit firms. The planned audit and corporate governance overhaul was drawn up in response to a series of corporate scandals, including retailer BHS in 2016, contractor Carillion in 2018 and cake chain Patisserie Valerie in 2019.