THE SCOTTISH Government has expressed “grave concerns” over plans to replace the Human Rights Act with a new UK wide Bill of Rights.

Christina McKelvie, Scotland’s equalities minister, warned that any changes risked interfering with the devolution settlement.

As expected, the Bill was announced in Monday’s Queen’s Speech, with Prince Charles saying it would “restore the balance of power between the legislature and the courts”. 

Justice Minister, Dominic Raab, said it was about returning “common sense to the system”.

The Human Rights Act (HRA) was introduced in 1998 and effectively incorporated the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) into UK law

That includes the right to life; to be free from torture; to liberty; privacy; to freedom of speech and assembly, and to a family life. 

It allows people take breaches of their human rights to the UK courts

However, it’s long been a bugbear of the Conservative party, and there have many been plans to reform the legislation over the years. 

They believe that the HRA undermines parliamentary sovereignty, and forces UK courts into ruling on issues that are political rather than legal.

But it is Article 8, the right to family life that the Tories are perhaps most keen to see reformed, as they claim it is often used to prevent the automatic deportation of serious foreign criminals. 

The Ministry of Justice says is used in about seven in ten successful challenges against deportation who say they can’t be removed from the country as they have a family life here. 

Mr Raab said the government wanted to “achieve a number of things” with the legislation. 

“First of all, we want to strengthen and reinforce the British tradition of freedom and liberty that we've had for hundreds of years. So we're going to be strengthening freedom of speech, the liberty that protects all the others. 

“We're going to be recognising trial by jury. Quintessentially a UK right in the way that it applies variably across the United Kingdom. 

“At the same time, we want to restore some common sense and prevent abuses of the system. So we want to stop foreign national offenders using the elastic interpretations of Article 8 and the right to family life to scupper deportation proceedings. 

“That way, we'll get some more common sense and, frankly, greater public confidence in our human rights laws. 

“And at the same time, we want to recast or delineate a clearer balance between the need for the courts to robustly apply the law, but also the need for parliament to have the last word on the law of the land when it changes or evolves over time. 

“That way we can reinforce Britain's proud tradition of liberty, protect the public in greater ways and restore some common sense to the system.”

Ms McKelvie vowed the Scottish Government would “robustly oppose” the plans. 

The minister said: “The Human Rights Act has successfully protected rights and freedoms across the whole of the UK for more than 20 years. We will continue to robustly oppose any attempt to replace it with a Bill of Rights.

“The safeguards provided by existing legislation protect every member of Scottish society. They are an essential feature of a democratic society founded on the rule of law.

“These rights are also at the heart of the devolution settlement. Changes must not be made without the explicit consent of the Scottish Parliament.

“At the same time, the Scottish Government is showing human rights leadership by protecting and enhancing our rights and freedoms. Future Scottish legislation will extend human rights safeguards even further.”

Earlier this week, Amnesty, Liberty, the British Institute of Human Rights wrote to Boris Johnson to warn that repealing the act could have significant implications in Northern Ireland, where the incorporation of the ECHR was an explicit commitment of the Good Friday agreement. 

Amending the act could risk breaching the peace deal in Northern Ireland, and possibly require a review of the peace settlement, they said.