May seeks human rights law curbs
The Government is on a collision course with judges over the rights of foreign prisoners and other immigrants, it has been reported.
Home Secretary Theresa May is seeking backing from Parliament to curb the use of human rights laws by criminals to avoid deportation, according to The Sunday Times.
She is expected to ask the House of Commons on Monday to pass a motion declaring that the right to a family life - enshrined in Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights - is not absolute.
Instead, she is said to want MPs to make clear that the public interest must come first and that the right to family life is qualified by the need to protect the economic wellbeing of the country, promote public safety and cut crime.
The move is likely to be seen as a direct challenge to the judges who have previously interpreted Article 8 through the development of case law.
According to Home Office figures, last year 185 foreign prisoners successfully appealed against deportation after citing the right to family life.
However, officials made clear that if the courts failed to heed the views of Parliament, ministers could bring in new legislation to enforce their wishes.
The Sunday Times quoted a Government aide as saying: "We expect the courts to take heed, but if they don't we will return with new measures which include the option of primary legislation,"
The move comes as the Government is preparing to impose a new "financial independence" rule intended to curb the spouses, children and other dependants of migrants coming into the country and becoming a burden of the taxpayer.
Immigration Minister Damian Green said: "We will shortly be announcing a major overhaul of the existing family migration rules, to reduce burdens on the taxpayer, promote integration and tackle abuse. The reforms will protect the British public from foreign criminals who try to abuse human rights laws to avoid deportation. We plan to make it clear when the rights of the law abiding majority will outweigh a foreign criminal's right to family and private life."