Tuesday, 22 June 2022 the new Bill of Rights had its first reading in the House of Commons.
The government is proposing that the Bill of Rights replaces the current Human Rights Act.
Learning Disability England members have been talking about how important these planned changes are to them.
Mary Woodhall, self advocate Rep Body member said:
“Human Rights laws make sure we are treated fairly and with respect and have a say over the important things in our lives. This has not always happened for people with learning disabilities.
And now there is a fear this new Bill of Rights may take some of that protection away. This is making some people with learning disabilities feel isolated, scared and left out.”
Provider organisations that support people with learning disabilities have been reflecting on how it will affect them and the potential impact on how they work.
Tim Keilty, who works for New Prospects and is a paid supporter member rep on the Rep Body said:
“People we support knowing their rights and organisations upholding these rights are fundamental to good support.
I am worried by the speed of the changes, the lack of any meaningful time for consultation. Good things are rarely done quickly; by rushing this Bill through without peoples’ views being heard, we may find ourselves stuck in messy legal arguments, sucking yet more money out of a chronically underfunded system.
This is particularly scary at a time of overhaul of the mental health act and liberty protections safeguards too.”
Section 3 of the current Human Rights Act means judges and public officials have to interpret laws in ways that respect our human rights.
People with learning disabilities and their families are often dependant on a range of public bodies upholding the human rights protections they rely on.
And are worried that the Bill will weaken this requirement.
Wendy Burt, family carer and family and friend rep on the Rep Body said:
“As a family member of a person with learning disabilities, I am very worried about the proposals in the Bill of Rights to get rid of the requirement to interpret laws in a way that is compatible with human rights.
There have already been too many tragedies where people with learning disabilities have not had their human rights respected. And families have not been listened to.
This Bill, and especially the changes happening so fast, risks creating confusion, uncertainty and less security for the very people in society most at risk of human rights abuses.”
Learning Disability England has been working closely with the British Institute of Human Rights to share resources and webinars to help everyone get involved and understand the planned changes.
You can see the BIHR resources, including easy read, and how to get involved here
About Learning Disability England
Learning Disability England is the only national membership organisation that brings together members with learning disabilities, families, professionals and organisations. We believe that societal change will happen when people with learning disabilities are seen and accepted as equal citizens in their communities and in media and politics.
Lisa Watchorn, Communications Lead