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

Minutes from the meeting of the group on 28 September 2022.

Attendees and apologies


  • Christina McKelvie MSP
  • Alexis Camble
  • Andy Sirel
  • Catherine Murphy
  • Charlie McMillan
  • Danny Boyle
  • Eileen Cawley
  • Gary Christie
  • Jatin Haria
  • Juliet Harris
  • Karen Martin
  • Kenny Stewart
  • Laura Pasternak
  • Lisa Borthwick
  • Lorraine Cooke
  • Luis Felipe Yanes
  • Mark Hazelwood
  • Mary Brennan
  • Mhairi Snowden
  • Paula Preston
  • Rebecca Crowther
  • Sabrina Gatella
  • Sarah D’Agrosa
  • Shivali Fifield
  • Susie Fitton
  • Yvonne Blake


  • Alan Miller
  • Colin McFarlane
  • Emma Hutton
  • Heather Fisken
  • Oonagh Brown
  • Paul Traynor

Items and actions

Welcome and introductions

The Minister called the meeting to order and noted apologies.

Laura Pasternak from Who Cares Scotland was welcomed to the Advisory Board. The Minister noted that Who Cares Scotland have been invited to join the Advisory Board to share their expertise and ensure the perspectives of care experienced people are reflected in our thinking.

The Minister set out revised plans to now consult on proposals for the Bill in the first half of 2023. The policy prospectus has required additional development to ensure that clear and focused proposals are brought forward that build on the recommendations of the Human Rights Taskforce. The importance of ensuring that the consultation is as clear and accessible as possible was also emphasised. The Minister explained the benefits of added time would be felt in a better consultation with more robustly tested policy proposals.

The Minister thanked those Board members who had recently written to the First Minister. A response to this would be provided in due course but it was highlighted that this letter was both constructive and helpful.

The Minister restated the commitment to introduce the Bill within the current parliamentary session.

It was highlighted by the Minister that there had originally been an agenda item for the Board regarding the British Bill of Rights Bill, but the Bill did not have its second reading on 12 September so it has technically been postponed.  It was therefore felt that it would be more beneficial to discuss this once the UK Government’s plans are clearer.

Bill updates and forward planning

Trevor Owen provided an update on the Bill Team’s work since the last meeting of the Advisory Board and echoed the Minister’s commitment to work with the Board to develop robust policy positions in the lead up to the consultation.

He explained that the Bill Team is currently focusing on the models of incorporation that the Bill could take, including a potential ‘hybrid’ model that was being explored. The Bill Team was also considering the National Taskforce for Human Rights Leadership recommendation to restate the rights protected by the Human Rights Act in the Bill and would look at this further in the coming period. Non-judicial remedies were also a current focus for the Bill Team, as was thinking around implementation.  

Members highlighted the importance of the Bill Team’s capacity noting the Bill would be foundational so should be resourced accordingly. Trevor explained resourcing discussions are ongoing and that progress is being made to ensure the team has what it needs to deliver the Bill.

Civil and political rights were discussed with members highlighting these could be considered within the Human Rights Bill to ensure the Bill is for everybody, reflecting the universal nature of human rights.

Members asked for clarity on the Bill timeline and consultation. Trevor stated that the consultation would be launched in the first half of 2023 and the Bill would be introduced in the current parliamentary session, which runs 2021-2026. 

Members sought reassurance that the Bill Team was taking a cross-government approach to developing the Bill, with links to the mainstreaming strategy highlighted as a way government is embedding equality and human rights into policy development.

Lived experience boards

Neil Meehan updated on the recent work of the Lived Experience Boards. It was explained that the programme of work has been split between the Human Rights Consortium Scotland, Scottish Commission for Learning Disabilities and Together Scotland. The upcoming dates were outlined, with it noted the reports provided by these groups will inform the Bill as it develops.

Mhairi Snowden gave an update on the work of Human Rights Consortium Scotland led Lived Experience Board. Mhairi explained that the group will be looking at monitoring and reporting of the Bill in November. Accountability and the lack of ways to hold duty bearers to account when a human rights breach occurs was emphasised as a key consideration of the group, which would be reflected in the reports.

Juliet Harris gave an update on the work of Together Scotland’s Lived Experience Board. Juliet explained that the group of children and young people were being given “missions” from the Scottish Government and were called the “Rights Detectives.” As this part of the work had started later than the other Lived Experience Boards work continues and reports will be provided in due course.

Sarah D’Agrosa gave an update on the work of the Scottish Commission for People with Learning Disabilities Lived Experience Board. Sarah explained that the fourth block of meetings were being held in October, that will include an in-person event in Edinburgh. Upcoming meetings of this Lived Experience will focus on accessibility, inclusivity and accountability.

Any other business

It was noted that the next meeting of the Advisory Board would be in November 2022.

The Minister stated that she would think about how to increase the profile of the Bill through engagements and via messaging.

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