Human Rights Bill Governance and Engagement Advisory Board minutes: January 2023

Minutes from the meeting of the Human Rights Bill Governance and Engagement Advisory Board on 26 January 2023.


  • Christina McKelvie MSP, Minister for Equalities and Older People

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

  • Alexis Camble, COSLA

  • Ashleigh Simpson, Crisis Scotland

  • Catherine Murphy, Engender

  • Eileen Cawley, Scottish Pensioner’s Forum

  • Emma Hutton, Just Right Scotland

  • Heather Fisken, Inclusion Scotland

  • Graham O’Neill, Scottish Refugees Council

  • Jatin Haria, Coalition for Racial Equality and Rights

  • Juliet Harris, Together Scotland

  • Karen Martin, National Carers Organisations

  • Kenny Stewart, Equality and Human Rights Commission

  • Laura Pasternak, Who Cares Scotland

  • Lisa Borthwick, Shelter Scotland

  • Luis Felipe Yanes, Scottish Human Rights Commission

  • Mark Hazelwood, Scottish Partnership for Palliative Care

  • Mary Brennan, Scottish Food Coalition

  • Cllr Maureen Chalmers, COSLA

  • Mhairi Snowden, Human Rights Consortium Scotland

  • Neil Cowan, Crisis

  • Oonagh Brown, Scottish Commission for People with Learning Disabilities

  • Rebecca Crowther, Equality Network

  • Paula Preston, Scottish Civil Justice Council

  • Shivali Fifield, Environmental Rights Centre for Scotland

  • Yvonne Blake, Poverty and Inequality Commission


  • Danny Boyle, BEMIS

  • Paul Traynor, National Carers Organisations

Items and actions

Welcome and introductions

The Minister called the meeting to order, noted apologies and outlined the agenda for the meeting.

​​​​​​​Cllr Maureen Chalmers was welcomed to the meeting, attending as an observer.

​​​​​​​The Minister thanked members for their continued positive, and pro-active engagement and stressed how important this had been in developing Bill policy proposals so far. It was explained the Scottish Government remains on course to consult in the first half of this year and will ensure the process is as inclusive and accessible as possible for respondents.

​​​​​​​The joint letter sent by some members of the Board in December was noted by the Minister. The Minister advised that she hoped her response would provide members with reassurance that the Scottish Government continues to prioritise the development and effective implementation of the Human Rights Bill.

Bill updates and forward planning

​​​​​​​Trevor Owen provided an update on behalf of the Human Rights Bill Team on resourcing, policy development and next steps in developing policy proposals towards consulting in the first half of the year.

​​​​​​​It was noted that the Executive Board at their December meeting agreed to the convening of a Bill Implementation Working Group. Further details will be communicated to the Advisory Board in due course and as the Working Group is set up.

​​​​​​​Board members expressed their concern regarding the recent Section 35 order in relation to the Gender Recognition Reform (Scotland) Bill, and how this could impact on development of the Human Rights Bill and our thinking around incorporation of the three equality treaties. There was an acknowledgement that the environment was complex due to competence constraints and that these would need to be carefully navigated.

​​​​​​​Members raised the importance of access to justice, independent advocacy, and human rights-based budgeting to ensure effective implementation of the Bill.

Consultation engagement

​​​​​​​Joseph McKeown provided an update on initial considerations regarding consultation engagement plans. This included further detail on accessible formats of the consultation document, proposed regional in-person events and the importance of working with stakeholders to develop targeted engagements where necessary. Board members were supportive of proposals with offers made to assist with consultation engagement.

​​​​​​​Some key challenges of the consultation engagement plan were highlighted by Members. This included the importance of ensuring accessible versions are available from day one of the consultation going live, ensuring that there is a feedback loop for those that are engaged with and developing capacity for grassroots organisations to hold their own events. Members were asked to continue to feed in thoughts and suggestions to the developing engagement programme, including how they might be able to assist with facilitating engagement with seldom heard voices.

Any other business

​​​​​​​The Minister thanked members for their work to date and noted the next meeting of the Advisory Board would provisionally be scheduled for March 2023.

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