Amber Rudd is the Member of Parliament for Hastings and Rye. Throughout this week she'll be reporting from the plenary session of the Council of Europe. Read her report from yesterday.
Every delegate at the Council of Europe is appointed to one of the eight Committees covering key themes of human rights, democracy and the Rule of Law. On Tuesday morning, the Committees met at 8.30am. At my meeting, Baroness Nicholson raised the terrible practice of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) and made an impassioned plea for particular attention to exposing this crime against women in Europe, and even in the UK, where it still goes on and where there have sadly been no prosecutions. The Committee will consider whether to carry out a report on this to raise awareness and to look for ways to eradicate it, as part of a wider report into violence against women.
For the British delegates, the main event was the presentation from David Lidington MP at 12.00pm. As we have the Chairmanship for six months, he reports on behalf of the Committee of Ministers of Member States. British Parliamentarians were looking for two things here: a) recognition of the need for reform, of both procedure and costs, of the Council of Europe, and b) clarity on what the Government view is, and what action it proposes, to address the growing conflict between British judges and the European Court of Human Rights.
Mr Lidington set the scene by praising the noble ideals that had led to the formation of the Council of Europe. But he then swiftly pointed out that our British Rule of Law, pre-dated the Council of Europe by many centuries. He spoke lyrically of the Magna Carta, agreed a mere 800 years ago….
He laid the groundwork for the Prime Minister. He refused to be drawn, despite questions, on what the British proposals are regarding our relationship with the ECHR, but he did a good job signalling the direction of change. His Magna Carta passage appeared to indicate the supremacy of British law.
But today is the main event. We will hear from the Prime Minister. Conservative colleagues and I are hoping for some answers.