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MPs To Vote On Changes To Human Rights Law

Home Secretary Theresa May is seeking the backing of MPs to tackle foreign criminals who use human rights laws to avoid deportation.

She is expected to ask members to pass a motion declaring the right to a family life - enshrined in Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights - is not absolute.

Ms May wants the public interest to come first and the right to family life to be superceded by the need to protect the economic wellbeing of the country, promote public safety and cut crime.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 judges who have previously interpreted Article 8 through the development of case law.

"This is not an absolute right. So in the interests of the economy or of controlling migration or of public order - those sort of issues - the state has a right to qualify this right to a family life," she told BBC1's The Andrew Marr Show.

"What I am going to do is actually set out the rules that say this is what Parliament, this is what the public believe is how you balance the public interest against the individual's interest.

"We are going to ask Parliament to vote on this to say very clearly what constitutes the right to a family life.

"I would expect that judges will look at what Parliament will say and that they will take into account what Parliament has said.

"If they don't then we will have to look at other measures and that could include primary legislation."

According to Home Office figures, last year 185 foreign prisoners successfully appealed against deportation after citing the right to family life.

Ms May's comments come as ministers prepare to impose a new "financial independence" rule intended to curb the number of spouses, children and other dependants of migrants coming into the country.

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."