Human Rights Bill Governance and Engagement Advisory Board minutes: March 2022

Minutes from the meeting of the group on 16 March 2022.

Attendees and apologies


  • Christina McKelvie MSP
  • Ashleigh Simpson
  • Danny Boyle
  • Eileen Cawley
  • Eilidh Dickson
  • Eleanor Sanders-White
  • Gary Christie
  • Heather Fisken
  • Jatin Haria
  • Jen Ang
  • Juliet Harris
  • Kelly Munro
  • Kenny Stewart
  • Luis Felipe Yanes
  • Lisa Borthwick
  • Lorraine Cooke
  • Mary Brennan
  • Megan Snedden
  • Mhairi Snowden
  • Oonagh Brown
  • Paula Preston
  • Rebecca Patterson
  • Shivali Fifield
  • Yvonne Blake


  • Alan Miller
  • Kavita Chetty
  • Mark Hazelwood
  • Tim Hopkins

Items and actions

Welcome and introductions

The Minister called the meeting to order and welcomed Ashleigh Simpson to the Advisory Board, noting that Ashleigh is taking Matthew Downie’s position on behalf of Crisis. Apologies were also noted from members that were unable to join the meeting.

The Minister provided members with a short update on the UNCRC progress and highlighted the Scottish Government continues to look closely at the UNCRC Bill Supreme Court judgment and its implications on the Human Rights Bill. Members agreed that the impacts of the UNCRC work on the Human Rights Bill will be explored further at a future meeting.

Bill team updates

The Minister underlined the momentum that is building within the Bill development process before inviting Anna Sheehy, Head of Human Rights Strategy and Legislation, to provide members with an update on the work undertaken since the last meeting of the Advisory Board.

Anna echoed the pace and momentum that has been built and explained the substantial work that is being undertaken to navigate the significant complexities of incorporating the four United Nations treaties set out in the National Taskforce for Human Rights Leadership’s recommendations. It was noted that viable solutions to incorporating four overlapping treaties will be explored and then tested with the Advisory Board members.

The recent workshops undertaken by the Bill Team were noted with three access to justice workshops focussed on prevention, non-judicial routes to remedy and judicial routes to remedy that were particularly engaging and will feed into the upcoming consultation. Recent equality and environmental workshops were also underlined as being very beneficial to policy development, with it agreed at these meetings for the Bill Team to develop early draft policy proposals to test with stakeholders and Advisory Board members.

Mhairi Snowden and Oonagh Brown provided updates on the Lived Experience Board work that the Human Rights Consortium and Scottish Commission for Learning Disability are leading on. Both emphasised the positive engagement and feedback from both Lived Experience Boards with further meetings of the groups in the coming months. It was noted the Bill Team would look at ways for the Advisory Board, Lived Experience Board and Executive Board to feed into each other’s conversations as the work progresses.

Equality provision and protections for older people and LGBTI people

The Minister introduced the third agenda item and noted the paper Advisory Board members have received illustrates how we want to harness the experience and expertise of Advisory Board members to help shape the Bill’s policy development.

The Minister introduced Dan Garraghan from the Bill Team to discuss the paper. Dan highlighted the early policy thinking in relation to providing equal access to everyone to the rights contained in the Bill, including for older people and LGBTI people and invited members to provide their thoughts.

Key themes of the discussion included the importance of guidance, enforcement and increasing visibility of particular groups, such as older people and LGBTI people. In addition, members raised that links to current domestic equality legislation and the role of international jurisprudence are other important considerations for the Bill.

It was noted that further consideration will continue to be given to defining characteristics and ensuring how best to strengthen protections for people, including older people and LGBTI people.

Forward look

Louise Halpin, Bill Team Leader, discussed the forward look document that was issued to members prior to the meeting noting the next meeting is likely to discuss the right to a healthy environment and the consultation.

Members highlighted enforcement of rights and the need to make links between the Advisory Board, Executive Board and Lived Experience Boards as being useful topics of conversations to consider in the forward planning of meetings.

Any other business

The Minister provided members with a short update on the UK Government proposals for reforming the Human Rights Act, emphasising that the Scottish Government has been working closely with Welsh ministers to underline the unwelcome nature of the UK Government proposals. This has included a joint letter to the Deputy Prime Minister, Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice sent on 1 March 2022.

Members noted the implications that potential changes to the Human Rights Act may have on the Human Rights Bill underlining it will be essential for there to be legal certainty. It was also emphasised that clarity will be required, particularly related to the devolution settlement although it was recognised this would not be possible until the implications of potential changes are known.

Members were also mindful of the timing of potential reforms and capacity if the Human Rights Bill consultation is introduced at the same time.

The Minister thanked members for their time and continued engagement in the Bill development process and noted the next meeting of the Advisory Board is anticipated in May 2022. 

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