Alistair Carmichael
Scottish Secretary Alistair Carmichael voiced his concerns about the Conservative pledgeKevin Edkins/WikiCommons

Scotland will continue to follow the conventions set out by the European Union on human rights even if Westminster follows through on 3 October's threat to withdraw, the Scottish secretary has said.

Alistair Carmichael announced that the Conservative policy to strip European judges of their power to enforce human rights in the UK is "not government policy".

He said he did not envisage any constitutional problems if Scotland retained the Human Rights Act but the rest of the UK did not.

"We had that very situation in at least the first two years of the Scottish Parliament when it was subject to the Human Rights Act", Carmichael said.

Scotland "could end up with a compromise which kept the Scottish Parliament within the European Convention of Human Rights", he added.

However, the Liberal Democrat minister added that any attempts to repeal the Human Rights Act by Westminster "will not happen while Liberal Democrats are in government".

"As a practitioner and as a politician, I have seen for myself the protections that come to our citizens through the ECHR," he added.

"The Human Rights Act, and the convention rights more generally, have a central place in Scotland's devolution settlement."

The Tory government's plans to scrap the Human Rights Act and replace it with a Bill of Rights has been widely disputed since Justice Secretary Chris Grayling announced the measure on 3 October.

Grayling said if the Conservatives win next year's general election, it will pull out of the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR), meaning British judges and politicians will no longer have to consider Strasbourg rulings when casting rulings on court cases.

The Human Rights Act has faced criticism in the past for being typical of the kind of "red tape" processes that critics of the EU say mars the UK's involvement in the union.

The deportation of radical Muslim cleric Abu Qatada to Jordan, for examples, was heavily delayed at a cost of millions of pounds to British taxpayers due to the UK's commitment to abide by ECHR rulings.

However, civil rights campaigners have voiced overwhelming support for our part in the ECHR, stating the list of rules holds governments to account over human rights abuses and protects personal rights and freedoms, such as the right to life, freedom from slavery and the right to a fair trial.