Efforts to improve human-rights protection for the elderly in privately-run care homes have been blocked by the Government.
At present, many provisions of the Human Rights Act to not cover private-sector providers that have contracts with public bodies such as local authorities and the NHS.
Labour MP Andrew Dismore is seeking to rectify this with his Human Rights Act 1998 (Meaning of Public Authority) Bill, which is intended to clarify the law.
As chairman of the joint committee on Human Rights, he is calling for an ‘unambiguous’ clarification of the meaning of ‘public authority’ as defined in the Act.
He says that recent court judgments have ‘disregarded utterly’ protections offered by the Act, and that the private sector should be covered by it when they carry out public functions, such as care for children and the elderly.
He says: ‘My intention is to ensure that human rights protections apply comprehensively, directly and consistently to all those who receive public services from private providers.’
But junior justice minister Bridget Prentice said the Government would not support the Bill, although she added: ‘I agree entirely that this matter is fundamental to the operation of the Human Rights Act.’