European Convention on Human Rights compatibility statement

Some paragraphs in this section have been updated, added or deleted since the publication of the current edition. The most recent updates, made March 2020, can be highlighted by clicking ‘Highlight updates’ below. Read a summary and schedule of latest updates here.

26.14Under s 19 of the Human Rights Act 1998 (which incorporated the European Convention on Human Rights into the law of the United Kingdom), the Minister in charge of a government bill in either House must, before second reading, make a statement to the effect that in that Minister's view the provisions of the bill are compatible with the Convention rights as defined in s 1 of the Act. If the Minister is unable to do so, they must state this to be the case and indicate that the Government nevertheless wishes the House to proceed with the bill.1 The statement usually appears on the first print of the bill.2 Where bills are not printed for the Lords, the statement is publicised by means of a written statement.3

This requirement does not extend to Private Members' Bills. For private bills, see paras 43.4, 46.8.4

In the House of Lords, the Minister who makes the statement should under normal circumstances move the second reading of the bill. If that Minister is unavailable, another Minister should do so on the basis that they are acting on behalf of the Minister who has made the statement.5

For the scrutiny of bills by the Joint Committee on Human Rights established under Standing Order No 152B, see para 41.11.


  1. 1. For example, House of Lords Reform Bill 2012–13 where the statement gave reasons for non-compatibility. The bill for the Northern Ireland (Executive Formation etc) Act 2019 carried a statement of compatibility on introduction in the Commons but amendments made in that House prevented the Minister from stating compatibility when it reached the Lords. See HL Bill 190 (2017–19).
  2. 2. For an example of a bill with no statement on first print, see the Data Protection Bill [Lords] (Bill 153) (2017–19); HC Deb (1 March 2018) 636, c 31WS.
  3. 3. See para 29.7, fn 2; HL Deb (2009–10) 717, c 47WS; ibid (15 November 2017) 785, c 243WS.
  4. 4. The requirement also extends to provisional order confirmation bills (see para 42.18 ).
  5. 5. First Report from the Select Committee of the House of Lords on Procedure of the House, HL 9 (2001–02).