THE Scottish Government has issued a lengthy attack on highly controversial legislation to replace the Human Rights Act, warning it is “harmful and unwelcome” and will undermine devolution.

UK ministers introduced the Bill of Rights in June, which means the UK would not have to always follow case law from the European Court of Human Rights.

Responding to a call for evidence from the Joint Committee on Human Rights and ahead of the Bill’s first reading due to take place on September 12, the Scottish Government highlighted its opposition in a 20-page response.

Equalities minister Christina McKelvie said: “The Scottish Government has repeatedly said that there must be no changes to the Human Rights Act that undermine or weaken existing human rights protections.

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“The UK does not need a new ‘Bill of Rights’. That role is already very successfully performed by the Human Rights Act, which has a 20-year track record of delivering justice, including for some of the most vulnerable people in our society.”

She added: “The UK Government’s proposals have been comprehensively condemned, not just in Scotland but across the whole of the UK.

“UN experts have also recently written to highlight their concerns.

“This Bill will do serious harm to human rights and fundamental freedoms in the UK, and it will badly damage the UK’s international standing.

“The Bill of Rights Bill is ill-conceived and unwelcome. Some of the provisions are confusing and contradictory.

“It interferes with the constitutional settlement in Scotland by legislating for devolved matters, undermining the Scottish Parliament and Scotland’s devolution settlement.

“The Scottish Government remains committed to protecting the Human Rights Act in its current form."

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The response says the UK Government seeking to overturn the principle that the European Convention on Human Rights represents a “floor and not a ceiling” on human rights law.

Another of the major concerns raised in the response is the Bill’s impact on the constitutional settlement, with the Scottish Government accusing ministers of “executive overreach”.

Clause 40 of the Bill would allow ministers to “amend or modify any primary or subordinate legislation so as to preserve or restore (to any extent) the effect of a relevant judgment of a court”.

The Scottish Government’s response says this would allow UK ministers to “pick and choose which features of existing human rights case law, as decided by the courts, are to be retained and which are to be discarded”.

A spokesperson for the UK Government said: “Our proposals will strengthen UK human rights, such as freedom of expression, while staying a party to the European Convention on Human Rights.

“Our reforms will inject a healthy dose of common sense to curb the abuse of human rights.

“We want everyone to benefit from a new Bill of Rights.

“We have sought views from across the UK on how best to deliver these reforms, while reflecting the different traditions and practices of all parts of the UK.”