Wales politics

Ministers investigating Welsh human rights law

Julie Morgan
Image caption Julie Morgan rejected proposals for a older people's rights bill on Wednesday

Welsh ministers are investigating whether they can put UN human rights agreements into Welsh law.

The Welsh Government is concerned that the UK human rights act may be weakened after Brexit.

Details emerged after the Welsh Government said it would not support a Tory attempt to enshrine older people's rights into Welsh law.

The Conservative's Darren Millar said the government's approach was "embryonic".

Government AMs voted down Mr Millar's proposals from passing the first hurdle in the Senedd on Wednesday.

The Welsh Conservatives accused Labour of having a "tribal attitude" that is "holding Wales back", after it voted down a proposed Conservative bill on autism services last week.

On Wednesday Clwyd West AM Mr Millar proposed a bill that would ensure ministers have to pay regard to the UN Principles for Older Persons.

It will ensure ministers promote knowledge and understanding of the UN principles, which stipulate that older people should have the opportunity to work or have access to healthcare.

"The purpose of the bill is to build on Wales's excellent track record to date by embedding a rights-based approach in the development, planning and delivery of public services that affect older people in Wales," he told AMs.

Image caption Darren Millar called the Welsh Government's approach embryonic

Julie Morgan, deputy minister for health and social services, said in the Senedd that Welsh law already requires councils to have due regard to the UN principles for older people.

But she added the Welsh Government is concerned that "following Brexit, the UK Government may well seek to weaken or even repeal the UK Human Rights Act".

"Steps have already been taken towards commissioning independent research to examine how we can incorporate the seven UN rights treaties and the UN principles for older people into Welsh law," she said.

"We intend to consult on the legislative models that emerge from the research and aim to come up with proposals by the end of this year. All this will be done with the involvement of older people and their representatives, amongst others."

Mr Millar told the Senedd chamber that the government's approach was in its early stages and "embryonic".

"There's absolutely no hope whatsoever of us getting something onto the statute book by the end of this assembly, whereas with my older people's bill, there is," he said.

'Tribal attitude'

Mr Millar later said the Welsh Government had voted down "non-contentious proposals which had widespread cross party and stakeholder support".

A total of 27 AMs, versus 21, voted against Mr Millar's proposal, stopping it from progressing further.

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