Attendees and apologies
- Minister for Equalities and Older People
- Alan Miller
- Ashleigh Simpson
- Catherine Murphy
- Eileen Cawley
- Eleanor Sanders-White
- Emma Hutton
- Heather Fisken
- Juliet Harris
- Karen Martin
- Kavita Chetty
- Lisa Borthwick
- Luis Felipe Yanes
- Lynn Welsh
- Mark Hazelwood
- Mary Brennan
- Oonagh Brown
- Paula Preston
- Shivali Fifield
- Yvonne Blake
- Colin MacFarlane
- Danny Boyle
- Gary Christie
- Jatin Haria
- Lorraine Cook
- Mhairi Snowden
- Paul Traynor
- Tim Hopkins
Items and actions
Welcome and introductions
The Minister called the meeting to order and noted apologies.
A staffing update was provided with Elisabeth Campbell and Anna Sheehy moving onto new roles and today’s meeting being Louise Halpin’s last day as the Bill Team Leader before she moves to a new role. The Minister extended her thanks to Elisabeth, Anna and Louise.
The Minister welcomed Kavita Chetty as the new Deputy Director for Human Rights and Trevor Owen as the new Unit Head, highlighting their knowledge and long standing relationships with many members. It was also noted that Neil Meehan will be joining as the new Bill Team Leader at the end of July.
It was explained the initial aim was to launch the consultation this summer, however this is now anticipated to be after the summer recess. Ministers and the Bill Team are mindful of stakeholders capacity over the summer months, with an awareness that the consultation document must be accessible for all to encourage richer responses.
The Minister discussed the UK Government’s British Bill of Rights and explained this was at odds with the direction of travel in Scotland, which is to extend and protect human rights protections. The implications of British Bill of Rights on the Human Rights Bill is anticipated to be on the Advisory Board agenda to discuss further in the September meeting.
The Minister noted the momentum of the Bill work, in particular the Lived Experience Boards that are gathering vital feedback for the Bill Team.
Louise Halpin provided an update on the Bill Team’s work since the last meeting of the Advisory Board. This included recent engagements and work on a range of topics such as access to justice, incorporation, the environment and the equality clause.
An update was provided on the Human Rights Consortium Scotland (HRCS) and Scottish Commission for Learning Disabilities (SCLD) Lived Experience Boards, with both recently publishing reports. The Minister thanked the Lived Experience Boards and highlighted she had recently met the HRCS-led Lived Experience Board and will be meeting with the SCLD-led Lived Experience Board next week.
Implications of the Supreme Court Judgment on the UNCRC Bill and Proposed Amendments to the UNCRC Bill
The Minister noted that Deputy First Minister (DFM) had updated Parliament on 24 May on the proposed next steps for the UNCRC Bill. As part of this there was three weeks of engagement with key stakeholders. It was explained there will be implications for the Human Rights Bill so the Bill Team will continue to work closely with the UNCRC Bill Team to fully understand these implications.
The Minister underlined that the UK Supreme Court judgment made clear that the Scottish Parliament has the competence to incorporate human rights treaties within devolved competence, and the judgment also underscores that giving domestic legal effect to international human rights treaties can only be achieved through incorporation.
Members were positive towards the UNCRC Bill proposed amendments, however it was noted there could be benefits of auditing existing legislation to ensure legislation is compatible with the UNCRC Bill and the Human Rights Bill as we look forward. The example of Jersey’s legislative audit on UNCRC was shared as an example of best practice.
Mainstreaming Equality and Human Rights
The Minister pointed members to the paper that was circulated prior to today’s meeting and underlined the importance of mainstreaming equality and human rights within decision making across duty bearers.
Trevor Owen at the Scottish Government discussed the paper in more depth before members shared their reflections.
Members shared a range of views including the importance of alignment between the Bill and the strategy, improving policy coherence and developing tools and processes to boost capability. Members underlined the importance of gathering disaggregated data and equality and human rights budgeting as a vital tool in how public authorities can boost capability.
The importance of lived experience meaning involvement in decision making was also stressed.
Trevor Owen discussed the proposed agenda items for upcoming meetings and noted suggestions for future agenda items will be considered.
Members highlighted a preference to explore capacity building and the definition of duty bearers further at future meetings.
Access to justice was also raised as an issue the Advisory Board would like to unpick further at upcoming meetings. Members’ preference was for this topic to be broken down into manageable pieces, similar to the access to justice workshops that looked at prevention, non-judicial routes to remedy and judicial routes to remedy.
It was noted the next meeting of the Advisory Board would be in September 2022.
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