Parliamentary standards authority “incompatible” with human rights convention

June 30, 2009 at 6:16 pm Leave a comment

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The human rights of Members of Parliament will be compromised by the Parliamentary Standards Bill, which is being rushed through the House of Commons this week, according to a committee of MPs and peers.

The Joint Committee on Human Rights condemned the legisltaion.

It will create a system of independent regulation of MPs’ salaries, allowances and financial interests.

There will also be a new Commissioner for Parliamentary Investigations, to investigate breaches of the rules on allowances and interests, and an Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority which, amongst other things, can sanction MPs in response to a Commissioner’s report, or recommend sanctions to the House of Commons.

The Commons has been given three days to debate the bill.

In its report into the legislation, the committee said:

“We note, with a certain irony, that although the Bill is designed to restore public confidence in the House of Commons, it is being rushed into the statute book and will not receive proper scrutiny, as a result.

“We have been unable to write to the Government to ask for its views on the issues we raise.

“In our view, the Bill is not compatible with Article 6(1) of the European Convention on Human Rights, in respect of an MP’s right to a fair hearing.

“We recommend that the Bill should be amended to include procedural safeguards – such as the opportunity to call and examine witnesses – where disciplinary action is being considered.

“Such measures were recommended by the Joint Committee on Parliamentary Privilege in 1999 and endorsed by the Committee on Standards in Public Life in 2002.

“We also recommend that there should be a right of appeal to the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council against decisions of the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority and the House of Commons which amount either to the determination of a criminal charge or which determine an MP’s civil rights.”

The new Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (IPSA) was proposed after weeks of stories in The Daily Telegraph about MPs’ expenses, which has led dozens of them to announce they will be standing down at the next election.

Some have faced disciplinary proceedings by their own party and two MPs are under police investigation.

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Entry filed under: Committees, Commons, Lords, Procedure. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , .

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