Page last updated at 15:37 GMT, Wednesday, 19 May 2010 16:37 UK

Human Rights Act: Tories haven't sold out, says May

Theresa May
Theresa May said there had been a difference of opinion

The Conservatives have not "sold out" supporters by agreeing to discuss the Human Rights Act with the Lib Dems, Home Secretary Theresa May has said.

The Tories have proposed replacing the act with a "British Bill of Rights", a move the Liberal Democrats oppose.

The coalition is setting up a commission to discuss the issue, but Ms May said there had been "no decision".

However, Conservative MP Bill Cash said he was "dismayed" that the act was not being repealed.

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg has said that any government would alter the current legislation "at its peril".

The Human Rights Act 1998 incorporated fundamental rights enshrined in the European Convention of Human Rights into UK law.

These include the right to life, the right to family, freedom from torture and the right to a fair trial.

'Way forward'

Opponents say the act, which the Conservatives promised to scrap in their election manifesto, makes it harder for British courts to extradite criminals.

Ms May told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "We did say that we thought the Human Rights Act wasn't working in certain areas and we are now discussing with our coalition partners what we will be doing in that area."

She added: "We are in a new era of politics. It's about us sitting down with the Liberal Democrats, looking at all the areas. There are many areas on which we agree... There are other areas in which there's been a difference of opinion, but we've sat down together, we've discussed those areas and we've come to an agreement on the way forward."

Ms May also said: "There's no decision on this particular issue... We are currently in discussions on it... We are in discussion as to what our approach should be.

"We are talking to the Liberal Democrats about that, but you cannot say that, across the board, somehow we have sold out our supporters, when you look at the whole agreement that has been reached between us and the Liberal Democrats."

On Tuesday, terror suspects Abid Naseer and Ahmad Faraz Khan successfully appealed against deportation to Pakistan.

A special immigration court said Mr Naseer was an al-Qaeda operative, but neither man should be deported under the terms of the act. They argued that they faced torture or death in their home country.

Mr Cash, MP for Stone, said: "I'm dismayed and for a very good reason... The problem is that the laws now are determined in Strasbourg."

He added: "I think our manifesto made this crystal clear. It said we would replace the Human Rights Act with a bill of rights... There are democratic questions about elected on a manifesto."

Questioned on the issue at a press conference, Mr Clegg said: "Yes, there will be a commission which will look into the case for a British Bill of Rights. It will, however, incorporate and build on all the obligations of the European Convention on Human Rights and the way that those rights are enshrined in British legislation."

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