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.