I’ve just heard Andrew Dismore, chair of the Joint Committee on Human Rights, speak in support of his ten minute rule bill which aims to “clarify” the meaning of “public function” of the Human Rights Act 1998. What he actually wants to do is reverse the effect of the Lords’ judgment in YL v Birmingham earlier this year, which ruled that private care homes do not have to act compatibly with the Convention rights of their residents.

I’m not surprised by this in the slightest: Andrew Dismore and people like him think it obvious that the HRA should apply, and probably see me as a Thatcherite stonyheart. But the point isn’t whether vulnerable people should be protected – Dismore kept referring in his speech to abuse, and vulnerability, using an emotional argument http://www.gooakley.com/ rather than a rational one. The point is how they should be protected. Dismore criticised government guidance to local authorities on how to contract with care homes, saying the guidance was “vague”. But if they were subject to the HRA, the duties of care homes to residents would also be vague, and care homes would have to invest in human rights law advice, which is not cheap or necessarily very certain.

Fundamentally, this is about the circumstances in which care homes should be able to close, or give residents notice to quit. In my view, vulnerable people would be better served if rather than enabling residents and their families to enforce a right to respect for their home, and leaving it to judges to decide cheap oakley whether or not a closure respects this right, Dismore tabled amendments to the government’s Health and Social Care Bill to make specific provision for when homes should be permitted to evict residents, and when not.

I’m afraid, though, that tabling such an amendment would require serious, detailed policy thought about what the content of those rules should be. Much easier, isn’t it, to just impose vague legalistic duties on everyone?

2017-03-20T10:35:58+00:00Tags: , , |