SCOTLAND, Wales and Northern Ireland could block David Cameron's bid to scrap the Human Rights Act, Dominic Grieve, the former Conservative Attorney General, has suggested.


Mr Grieve said there was "no quick fix" to getting rid of the Act, which the Conservative Government has pledged to do, as it was well- embedded in the British constitutional settlement and described as the "first hurdle" to abolition securing the backing of the Scottish Government and the other devolved administrations.

"The Act underpins devolution in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. In the case of Northern Ireland, it is part of an international treaty with the Irish Republic," explained the Tory MP. "It's difficult to see how to replace it with a Bill of Rights could be done against the wishes of any of those parties."

The Conservative manifesto said that scrapping the Act would "break the formal link between British courts and the European Court of Human Rights and make our own Supreme Court the ultimate arbiter of human rights matters in the UK".

It followed complaints that criminals were using the Act to go to Strasbourg and overturn rulings made in Britain. Instead, the Tories want to replace it with a British Bill of Rights.

Last week, Scottish Secretary David Mundell said: "New legislation replaces existing legislation and therefore the new Act will apply in Scotland. People in Scotland share the concerns that have been voiced across the United Kingdom; that we've got the balance wrong between rights and responsibilities. So, what the purpose of the Act that we'll be bringing forward is, is to not only enshrine rights but also enshrine responsibilities."

But the SNP leadership has made clear it will oppose any abolition of the Act.

Nicola Sturgeon condemned what she branded the Prime Minister's "appalling" proposal, making clear the SNP Government would oppose any move to abolition. Alex Salmond described the Tory plan as "insane".

The First Minister explained: "Human rights are there to protect all of us. For example, it was the Human Rights Act that enabled people to go to court to object against the bedroom tax.

"The idea that we take away human rights is just an awful suggestion, so the Scottish Government will oppose that and work hard to make sure that in Scotland people still get vital human-rights protection," she added.

Mr Grieve urged a period of consultation ahead of a review before any changes were sought and warned the reputational consequences for Britain in the wider world would be "very considerable" if it were to abolish the Act.

While the former law officer said he understood the need to clarify the situation, he added: "It's not at all clear as to what we are trying to achieve. At the end of the day, what are the benefits going to be compared to the costs of change?"