HC Deb 08 May 1996 vol 277 cc234-7
17. Mr. Whittingdale

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent representations he has received about the European Court of Human Rights; and if he will make a statement. [27209]

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Sir Nicholas Bonsor)

My Department receives a steady stream of correspondence about the European Court of Human Rights.

Mr. Whittingdale

Does my hon. Friend agree that, if a court is to retain its authority and its support, it is important that its judgments should be in tune with the values and instincts of the people who are affected by its rulings? Will he accept that some of the recent judgments of the European Court of Human Rights departed from that principle? Does he agree that, if that practice continues, there must be a danger that it will call into question the value of our remaining members of it?

Sir Nicholas Bonsor

I certainly agree with my hon. Friend that some of the judgments of the court have been questionable, but the value of our membership goes much wider than the European Court, because the European convention on human rights is the foundation on which the guarantee of human rights throughout Europe is founded. The accession of the new states that have got free of the Soviet Union's clutches make it all the more important that we continue to support the European convention. I hope, however, that we will have an opportunity to review the workings of the European Court of Justice and that the British proposals for changes will be adopted by colleagues.