The Cabinet Secretaries' Notebooks (CAB 195/8)

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Convention on Human Rights

Convention on Human Rights

K.Y. 

Convention must be adopted – we couldn't oppose it in principle.
Further amendmt. won't get us anything better than this draft.
The European Court is based on optional clause: we don't need to be bound by it.

P.M. 

Will this be a paid body?  Watch that.

K.Y. 

Art. 23.

R.S.C. 

This Convention makes a planned economy impossible.  Eg. inspection of premises.  Arts. 4, 5, 8, 13. Policy twds. Communists in Civil Service wd. also be barred.

P.M. 

All the Greeks etc. will vote for it, even tho' they won't carry it out.
We shall look v. foolish if we vote v. it.

H.M. 

Is Council/Europe the right place for this sort of thing.  Tories wd. enjoy supportg. somethg. embarrassing to "planning" Govts.

A.V.A. 

I was briefed by F.O. to stall on this in E.C.O.S.O.C.
Can we take an opposite line at Strasbourg.

R.S.C. 

This Convn wd. enable U.K. co. to object at this court to a planning Reg.

Att.G. 

Policy of workg. for a Convention has gone on too long to reverse it now.
This draft follows what U.K. repves proposed.
We cd. meet R.S.C.'s view by small amendment of Art. 8.
All these Conventns will be apt to be out of tune with letter of municipal law.  Enough if consistent with genl. principle and substance of our law.

J. 

Opposed to that view.  We shall be jockeyed into accepting the court – wh. administers no known law but only generalities – and overriding our courts and our legislature.
We shd. be surrendering to the Commn and the Court control over our law.
No pol. advantage.  For Russians and others won't pay the slightest attention to Convention and we shall feel obliged to.

J.G. 

Political diffy. is tht. we shall have to oppose it in public in Assembly. Hope therefore we may take opportunity of seeking amendments in the Council of Ministers, in private. Esp. Art. 23.
Parallel Convention under discn in U.N.  That restricts right of petition to States.  If this is carried in C/Europe same principle may be inserted in U.N. draft.
Urge therefore omission of Art. 23. or at least its modification.

K.Y. 

But can we go back on genl. policy of support for a Convention.

H.M. 

We can either a) say that havg. seen the draft we don't like it. b) U.N. are doing one: no sense in having two.

R.S.C. 

How come we to put fwd. such a draft as this – inconsistent with planned economy.

K.Y. 

Don't accept that it does.

P.M.   

Take the line tht. U.N. shd. do this, and C/Europe shd. leave it alone.

H.McN. 

We cd. have said that a year ago – and didn't.  What new reason for saying it now.  Only hope is to try to reduce it to a declaration.  Or kill it by a 1.000 cuts at particular provisions – eg. Art. 23 and Court.

P.M. 

Are you going to have a Commn.

Att.G. 

There's bn. a declaration already.  Too late for that line.
We have agreed to go ahead with Conventn.
If we oppose it now, we shall be alone with the Greeks.
                   x/ Best line wd. be to stall on this, on drafting grounds.
M'while let J. explain the legal diffies to Maxwell Fyfe.

K.Y. 

Cab. shd. realise it will be seen, at Assembly stage, tht. we have made volte face.
Agreed as at x/.

R.S.C. 

Can we have a memo. showg. how this came about.

P.M. 

Yes. Shdn't anyway have come up so late.

Taken from C.M. 52(50) - Meeting held on 1 August 1950.