Expect an announcement soon
Things have gone quiet with the plans to abolish the HRA and the promise of something before Christmas has not come to anything. There is a glimmer of hope in that Michael Gove has taken over as Justice Secretary and seems willing to modify or drop completely some of the worst excesses of his predecessor. However, the negotiations currently coming to some kind of conclusion concerning our role in Europe are likely to see a fresh assault on the act emerging soon. The watch word is ‘sovereignty’. Parliament wants to be sovereign and this is being presented as a good thing and it is implied we will be the better for it. The right wing press will delight at this and there will be many articles about ‘bringing power back to Westminster’ with the implication that this will result in better laws for us all. Salisbury MP John Glen is a keen advocate for abolition.
A parallel story over the past couple of weeks has been the tax situation of Google and other American behemoths who so manage their affairs that they pay little or only derisory levels of tax. Here, our sovereign parliament (since Brussels has little to do with tax collection) has failed. Indeed, successive chancellors have made numerous announcements about ‘cracking down’ but almost nothing seems to happen. Hardly surprising since accountants from the big four firms are actually in the Treasury ‘advising’ the chancellor on tax policy. So the idea that sovereignty is key and is some kind of magic bullet is clearly illusory and does not lead to better outcomes.
A useful guide explaining the HRA and what it does has just been published by the British Institute of Human Rights and is worth a look. There is a short video as well. No doubt we will be returning to this topic when the announcements are made.