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Poll shows little support for abolition of Human Rights Act

Published 08/11/2015

The measure was dropped from the Queen's Speech
The measure was dropped from the Queen's Speech

There is little appetite among the British public to scrap the Human Rights Act, a new poll suggests.

Just one in 10 (11%) of Britons said they think it should be one of the top three priorities for the Government, according to the ComRes survey, commissioned by Amnesty International.

It comes as ministers prepare to publish proposals to get rid of the Act and replace it with a new British bill of rights.

The poll of 2,051 British adults also revealed that almost half (46%) of Britons would not want to remove any of the rights currently in the Act from a new bill of rights.

Although a sizeable minority - 16% - of those surveyed said they did not think the outlawing of the death penalty should be included in the new bill.

Kate Allen, Amnesty UK director, said the survey showed the Government should abandon its "ill-advised" plans to repeal the Human Rights Act because there is "simply no appetite" for it.

She said: "The British people clearly want the Government to get on with their proper business of the day-to-day running of the country, and abandon these destructive plans."

Under controversial proposals, the new bill of rights would replace Labour's 1998 Act, which implements the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) in UK law.

There has been speculation the new bill could give UK citizens greater protection than foreign nationals.

But the new ComRes poll found that more than three quarters (78%) of Britons think that rights, laws and protections must apply to everyone equally in order to be effective, while 67% agree that governments should not be able to choose which rights they enforce.

Plans for the new bill of rights were shelved from the Queen's Speech after opposition from Tory backbenchers.

And it has emerged that the pledge was pushed to the back of the general election manifesto after private polling found that just 16% of people identified the reforms as a priority.

Ms Allen said: "It's quite right that it shouldn't be up to governments to pick and choose which rights we are entitled to and select who they deem worthy of them. It took ordinary people a very long time to claim these rights and we mustn't let politicians take them away with the stroke of a pen.

"It's great to have it confirmed that British people think that rights and protections must apply to everyone equally in order to work at all.

"That includes people whose beliefs and actions we might profoundly disagree with, and it's all the more important we stick to our enduring principles in challenging times.

"This is no time for the British government to set about dismantling and undermining human rights protections."

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