Jack Straw plans to overhaul the Human Rights Act amidst claims that it has become a charter for criminals.
The Injustice Secretary wants to reflect complaints that the act protects rights but says nothing about responsibilities.
In an interview with the Daily Mail, he says he is frustrated by the way the legislation he introduced ten years ago has sometimes been interpreted by the courts. He blames nervous judges for refusing to deport extremists and terrorist
suspects despite assurances by ministers that their removal is in the national interest.
In a move which will alarm the civil liberties lobby, Straw reveals that he is studying whether the act can be tightened and has taken legal advice.
In due course I could envisage that there could be additions made to to work in the issues of responsibilities, he says.
He tells the Mail that he wants to rebalance the rights set out in the Human Rights Act by adding explicit responsibilities , specifically to obey the law and to be loyal to the country.
He is also looking at ways of promoting social rights such as access to health care, as well as social responsibilities such staying healthy or the education of children.
Jack Straw's attack on the Human Rights Act is sly populism of the worst kind, and in keeping with his party's statist tradition
Jack Straw's headline-grabbing declaration that Britain's Human Rights Act has become a villain's charter, and must be rebalance d, should be seen for what it is: a rejection of the simple notion that all of us, no matter how rich or poor,
how powerful or weak, possess certain inalienable rights.
Of course, these rights do not entitle anyone to break the law. In a mealy-mouthed sop to the opponents of the Human Rights Act, Straw has declared that our human rights should be qualified by new responsibilities to obey the law and be loyal to
the country. But no one has ever claimed that human rights should absolve anyone of their responsibilities .
The justice secretary is picking a meaningless fight to generate a favourable headline, while conning opponents of the Human Rights Act into believing that he's saying something of greater significance. In short, it's sly populism of the worst kind.
One of the eminent outsiders brought into Gordon Brown's government of all the talents has revealed that he quit in disgust at
what he describes as Labour's dismal lack of political leadership on human rights.
Lord Lester, a Liberal Democrat and distinguished human rights lawyer, quit as the prime minister's adviser on constitutional reform a month ago. In a scathing attack yesterday, he revealed for the first time how he felt tethered by the government,
describing its record on human rights as dismal and deeply disappointing.
He was speaking on the 60th anniversary of the UN's declaration of human rights, and singled out the justice secretary, Jack Straw, for failing to produce a radical constitutional renewal bill or to defend the Human Rights Act.
Straw angered human rights campaigners by giving an interview in the Daily Mail this week in which he said many people felt the act, passed by the government in 1990 while he was home secretary, was perceived as a villains' charter.
Lester angrily described the interview as a sly attempt to undermine public support for the act. Under the headline Straw gets tough, the Mail described his pledge to reform villains' charter .
Lester went on to criticise the government's failures to fight for human rights across a range of issues.
He said the government's failures to pursue constitutional reform were why I decided, with regret, to cease to be a government-tethered 'goat' - that is, one of those flatteringly and misleadingly described as part of a government of all the talents.
Lester is understood to be dismayed that Straw has allowed the constitutional reform bill not to find a firm slot in the Queen's speech, and fears the justice secretary is using his plans for a bill of rights and responsibilities to weaken rather than
strengthen British commitment to human rights.
Jack Straw's proposal to rebalance the Human Rights Act is an insult to even the Daily Mail's intelligence
Preying on the intellectual dysfunction on the right, Jack Straw went to the Daily Mail to announce his new policy of rebalancing the Human Rights Act on its tenth anniversary. He proposes to end the aspect he calls the villain's charter , adding
responsibilities to obey the law and to be loyal to the country.
The poor fools at the Daily Mail swallowed Jack's bait and put the story on the front page, in the process completely forgetting about their long running campaign against police state Britain, which they made so much of last week.
Jack Straw seems to be introducing the idea that it is our responsibility do do what the government tells us before we qualify for any
He explains his approach in a speech that he has just given at the annual conference of the British Institute of Human Rights:
I wanted the process by which we develop the Bill of Rights and Responsibilities to be a genuine dialectic. So I make no apology for the delay in publishing the Green Paper which outlines the government's thinking in this area. We
are dealing here with the fundamental building blocks of our constitution, and it goes without saying it is something we need to get right.
But if this entire process is to work, it needs to have legitimacy in the eyes of the public. And that means making the case for why we need a Bill of Rights and Responsibilities and giving them a stake in the process. Just as
fundamental human rights are not in the gift of governments or lawyers, the public must have sense of ownership over a Bill of Rights and Responsibilities if it is to become a defining constitutional document of our times.
I do not dismiss ideas about the many different forms this process might take; but I do believe that if one is to build up a political consensus, and develop democratic legitimacy, the process necessarily has to be initiated by government and Parliament.
But it will not succeed unless individuals and organisations across the country, not least those here today, are able to help to secure the necessary broad public consent across UK society that can ensure that any Bill of Rights and Responsibilities
Jack Straw pledged to bring together economic and social rights, including the right to free healthcare, victims' rights and the right to
equality, into a single bill of rights and responsibilities.
The injustice secretary told MPs that also enshrining responsibilities such as the duty to vote and serve on juries, to live within our environmental limits, and to promote the wellbeing of children in a bill of rights could be the first step towards a
written constitution for Britain.
In the face of promises by David Cameron to repeal the Human Rights Act, Straw made clear that the government was proud to have introduced it: We will not backtrack from it or repeal it. But we believe more could be done to bring out the
responsibilities which accompany rights.
Straw's green paper makes clear that while a bill of rights would extend the coverage of the Human Rights Act to social and economic rights, such as free healthcare, it would stop short of making them newly legally enforceable in the courts.
The green paper, which is designed to launch a public debate on the issue, says that these social and economic rights that are part of our well-established welfare state go beyond the civil and political rights set out in the European convention
on human rights.
Today's green paper is expected to be followed by a white paper before the next election.
Home Secretary Theresa May has used an interview with The Sunday Telegraph to warn that the Human Rights Act is hampering the Home
Office's struggle to deport dangerous foreign criminals and terrorist suspects. She said:
I'd personally like to see the Human Rights Act go because I think we have had some problems with it,
I see it, here in the Home Office, particularly, the sort of problems we have in being unable to deport people who perhaps are terrorist suspects. Obviously we've seen it with some foreign criminals who are in the UK." The Coalition has set
up a commission of human rights experts to report on the possibility of bringing in a British Bill of Rights to replace the Act by the end of next year.
The Home Secretary's words will be cheered by many Conservatives. However, they are likely to be greeted with dismay by leading Liberal Democrats, some of whom have signalled the future of the Coalition would be under threat if any serious action
was taken against the Act, which incorporates the European Convention on Human Rights into UK law.
At last month's Liberal Democrat conference, Nick Clegg, the Deputy Prime Minister, was loudly cheered by his party's activists as he declared: Let me say something really clear about the Human Rights Act. In fact I'll do it in words of one
syllable: It is here to stay.