Human Rights Bill Governance and Engagement Advisory Board minutes: September 2021

Minutes from the meeting of the group on 9 September 2021.

Attendees and apologies


  • Christina McKelvie MSP
  • Alan Miller
  • Cath Denholm
  • Eileen Cawley
  • Eilidh Dickson
  • Emilia Hanna
  • Emma Laurie
  • Heather Fisken
  • Jatin Haria
  • Jen Ang
  • Juliet Harris
  • Kavita Chetty
  • Mark Hazelwood
  • Mary Brennan
  • Matthew Downie
  • Megan Snedden
  • Mirren Kelly
  • Shivali Fifield
  • Tim Hopkins

Scottish Government:

  • Elisabeth Campbell
  • Louise Halpin
  • Joseph McKeown
  • Fraser Meechan
  • Ciar Nixon
  • Marisa Strutt
  • Daniel Garraghan
  • Alice Greig
  • Janet Davis
  • Lydia Norwood
  • Afson Bareka
  • Victoria Morton
  • Kirndeep Kaur


  • Hannah Martin
  • Mhairi Snowden
  • Yvonne Blake
  • Danny Boyle
  • Gary Christie

Items and actions

Welcome and introductions

The Minister for Equalities and Older People welcomed attendees to the inaugural meeting of the Human Rights Bill Advisory Board and noted apologies had been received from Hannah Martin, Mhairi Snowden, Yvonne Blake, Danny Boyle and Gary Christie.

The Minister led introductions around the table and highlighted that a press release had been published by the Scottish Government overnight regarding the Advisory Board.

Discussion on Covid recovery and Human Rights Bill 

The Minister introduced Elisabeth Campbell, Deputy Director for Human Rights from the Scottish Government, to discuss Covid recovery, the Covid Recovery Bill, the Scottish Covid Inquiry and National Care Service Bill. It was stressed that Human Rights Bill work will align with wider work on Covid recovery, and will not be created in isolation. 

Louise Halpin, Bill Team Leader, provided an update from the Human Rights Bill Team. Louise outlined the work of the First Minister’s Advisory Group and the National Taskforce for Human Rights Leadership. The work since the Taskforce report was published and since the Scottish Election was also highlighted. The role of the Executive Board was discussed, with lived experience through public participatory methods highlighted as being key in the Human Rights Bill development process.

 It was noted that the Scottish Government would have a public consultation on Bill policy within the coming year and the Scottish Government are awaiting the UK Supreme Court judgment regarding the UNCRC Bill. Members were advised that the Scottish Government do not have timescales for the UK Supreme Court judgment, but the Scottish Government will take learning and experience from whatever decision is made and discuss this with members.

Interconnectedness was flagged as being key to Bill development by members, both between rights but also other strands of ongoing work, so it was highlighted a challenge going forward for members was to avoid working in silos. The Minister explained the Human Rights Bill was regularly being raised in discussions with the Deputy First Minister and Cabinet Secretary for COVID Recovery.

The scale of the Human Rights Bill was recognised among members, with human rights mainstreaming and systems being embedded into public services emphasised as being crucial to its effectiveness. Members also felt future proofing the Bill, involving duty-bearers throughout the process and input from the networks of real people with lived experience would be important.

Terms of reference

The Terms of Reference were circulated to members prior to the meeting. Members agreed they were happy to proceed with the terms of reference. 

Next steps and look ahead to future meetings

Public participation was highlighted as being key as the Bill develops. Members felt it was positive to see alignment with the Executive Board, and with lived experience, to ensure that these groups were working in a connected way. 

Members felt a discussion on duty-bearers and what remedies and justice would look like when rights are not being met would be beneficial for the Advisory Board to consider in the coming meetings. The views of scrutiny bodies were also noted as being a key consideration in this. It was mentioned the Scottish Human Rights Commission convened a meeting of scrutiny bodies recently on their potential role under the new framework, which was very positive and scrutiny bodies would welcome being brought into the dialogue.

Members extended offers to help with lived experience and emphasised the issue of digital exclusion and ensuring broad engagement.

It was also noted that members would appreciate some more information, in time, from officials on what they felt the best approach to Bill development was, and what lessons could be learned, both domestically and internationally.


The Minister thanked attendees for their time and called the meeting to a close noting the Programme Office will be in touch with calendar invitations to upcoming meetings, with the next meeting anticipated in November 2021. 

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