Joint Committee reports on the Criminal Justice and Courts Bill and Deregulation Bill

On 11 June 2014, the Joint Committee on Human Rights published a Legislative Scrutiny report on the Criminal Justice and Courts Bill, and the Deregulation Bill.

In the Report, the Committee welcomes the provision in the Criminal Courts and Justice Bill, carried over from the last Session of this Parliament, which extends the current offence of possession of extreme pornography to include possession of pornographic images depicting rape and other non-consensual sexual penetration. The Committee considers this provision to be human rights enhancing, given the evidence of cultural harm done by such pornography, and acknowledges the strong justification provided by the Government and others for this proportionate restriction on individual rights.

The Committee also reports on the Deregulation Bill. It expresses its concern that application of the economic growth duty in that Bill to the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) risks the possibility of that body’s UN accredited ‘A’ status being downgraded and could put the UK in breach of its obligations under EU equality law. It therefore recommends that this duty not be applied to the EHRC unless that body is satisfied that it can be done in a way that will not restrict its independence. The Committee further recommends that the power of employment tribunals to make wider recommendations in discrimination cases – the removal of which is proposed by the Bill – should be retained.