Human Rights Bill Governance and Engagement Advisory Board: December 2023

Minutes from the meeting of the Human Rights Bill Governance and Engagement Advisory Board on 13 December 2023.

Attendees and apologies

  • Emma Roddick MSP, Minister for Equalities, Migration and Refugees, Scottish Government

  • Brianna Fletcher, COSLA

  • Catherine Murphy, Engender

  • Charlie McMillan, Scottish Commission for People with Learning Disabilities

  • Danny Boyle, BEMIS

  • Eileen Cawley, Scottish Pensioner’s Forum

  • Emma Hutton, Just Right Scotland

  • Graham O'Neill, Scottish Refugees Council

  • Heather Fisken, Inclusion Scotland

  • Jatin Haria, Coalition for Racial Equality and Rights

  • John Wilkes, Equality and Human Rights Commission

  • Juliet Harris, Together Scotland

  • Kavita Chetty, Scottish Government

  • Robert Foster, Who Cares Scotland

  • Gordon McRae, Shelter Scotland

  • Mark Hazelwood, Scottish Partnership for Palliative Care

  • Mhairi Snowden, Human Rights Consortium Scotland

  • Neil Cowan, Crisis

  • Paul Traynor, National Carers Organisations

  • Paula Preston, Scottish Civil Justice Council

  • Shivali Fifield. Environmental Rights Centre for Scotland

  • Rebecca Crowther. Equality Network


  • Alan Miller, Independent Expert and Former National Taskforce for Human Rights Leadership co-chair

  • Luis Felipe Yanes, Scottish Human Rights Commission

  • Mary Brennan, Scottish Food Coalition

  • Yvonne Blake, Poverty and Inequality Commission

Items and actions

Welcome and introductions

The Minister welcomed members to the meeting, noted apologies and asked members to raise any issues with the minutes before Friday 15 December.

The 75th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the UNCRC Bill being passed by the Scottish Parliament was marked by the Minister during her introductory remarks.

Update on consultation analysis

The Bill Team provided background and further information on the ongoing consultation analysis. This highlighted almost 400 responses had been received, alongside seven Scottish Government led events. Feedback gathered from these sources were being analysed by Alma Economics, who will provide a report in early 2024. It was noted there would be accessible formats of the analysis report.

The methodology used by Alma Economics was shared with members. This included a range of quantitative and qualitative techniques given the range of questions asked in the consultation. The structure of the analysis report was also shared with members.

Shortly after the consultation closed, the Bill Team reviewed responses to gather early insights that have fed into policy development. Recent engagement with Alma Economics showed the many of the themes identified by the Bill Team correlated with analysts findings.

Neil Meehan discussed these early insights in areas such as incorporation approach, access to justice, implementation and the right to a healthy environment. Overall the theme was of broad support for the Bill, albeit with constructive challenge from stakeholders.

Members felt the approach taken to the consultation analysis was clear and helpful, with support for providing accessible versions of the analysis report and publishing of responses, where permission was provided. Different approach to feeding information back to consultation respondents were also discussed.

Bill Policy Development and Engagement

The Minister introduced policy leads for incorporation, access to justice and implementation to discuss recent progress in their areas of the Bill. Regarding incorporation, work was being done on the scope and coverage following the UNCRC Bill being passed by the Scottish Parliament. Further analysis was also being undertaken to test the model against the Equality Act.

For access to justice, consideration of what would be on the face of the Bill and what would follow during Bill implementation was continuing. This included work on the multi-institutional approach and what further powers for the Scottish Human Rights Commission, Scottish Public Services Ombudsman and scrutiny bodies could look like. Links to implementation work and role of the courts were also mentioned.

The implementation update referenced the human rights scheme proposals and reporting being both forward and backwards looking. Work to considering how to approach the participatory process for defining minimum core obligations was ongoing, with a brief update on recent Implementation Working Group discussions shared with members.

Engagement plans for the new year were discussed by policy leads.

Members asked questions following the updates. This included further detail on how the proposed equality provision would interact with the Equality Act, and additional information on the multi-institutional approach given some concern over duplication of remits if roles aren’t clearly set out.

The Human Rights Scheme timescales were discussed, with a preference for reports to be every three years to ensure UNCRC alignment, however, members queried whether a mechanism could be built in for interim reports every year. Questions were also asked on the links between reports and how these could be used.

Any other business

The Minister thanked members for their time and effort this year, noting the great strides being made in the Bill’s development. It was noted the next meeting of the Advisory Board is expected to be in February 2024.

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