Defending the Rule of Law - an Emergency Motion Passed at the Liberal Democrat Conference 28th September, 2020



Emergency motion at the Liberal Democrat Autumn Conference 28th September, 2020:
Defending the Rule of Law

Mover: Wera Hobhouse MP (Spokesperson on Justice and Equalities).
Summation: Lord Thomas of Gresford QC (Shadow Attorney-General)

This Conference:

1. notes that, on 31st July 2020, the Conservative Government announced an Independent Review of Administrative Law to examine judicial review and reportedly plans to establish a future panel to "update" the Human Rights Act, both with the aim of restricting the ability of individuals to challenge the Government in court.

2. further notes Dominic Cummings' long history of attacking the rule of law, from his complaints about civil servants trying to prevent Michael Gove from acting unlawfully as Education Secretary to his petulant outbursts over recent court rulings against the Government.

3. is deeply alarmed at Number 10's plans to weaken the courts, limit judicial review and unpick the Human Rights Act, which would allow Ministers to break the law with impunity, enable the Government to violate people's rights and make it harder to secure inquiries or put things right when mistakes are made.

4. believes that the rule of law is fundamental to our society. When the Government rides roughshod over people's rights, the law is our vehicle for justice.

5. further believes that threatening to weaken the courts because they sometimes rule against you is the act of dictators and despots, not democrats.

6. reaffirms the Liberal Democrat commitment to promoting justice and human rights and building a free, fair and open society where everyone's dignity and wellbeing is respected.

7. affirms that Liberal Democrats will always defend individuals' abilities to challenge the Government in court and uphold their rights.

8. strongly opposes any proposals to restrict judicial review, weaken the Human Rights Act or undermine the rule of law in any way, and calls on the Government to drop these plans.

I was proud to add my personal vote in support of this Motion at the Liberal Democrat Conference this evening.

I stand against moves by this present government to remove the universal Human Rights which UK citizens and others currently enjoy in this country and to replace them by a nationally based code of more limited rights which will not be universal and subject to political tests for eligibility.

I stand against the actions of this present government in introducing legislation such as the Internal Market Bill which amounts to a declaration of an intent to break International Law, weakens the UK itself by damaging devolution, amounts to a breach of the Withdrawal Agreement, is in conflict with the Northern Ireland Protocol and is inconsistent with the Rule of Law to which government in England has been subject since Magna Carta.