MPs are calling for a British Bill of Rights, which would go further than existing human rights law. The cross-party Joint Committee on Human Rights wants to include greater protections for vulnerable groups such as children and the elderly.
Currently, our main protection in law comes from the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) - an international treaty - and the UK's own Human Rights Act (HRA), which makes the ECHR into a part of our legal system, and says that UK law has to be compatible with it.
My initial reaction was worry. Are we talking about legislation to supplement the HRA, or to replace it? This might seem like a trivial point - if the new Bill of Rights replaces the HRA, but contains all the same rights and more, what's the problem? But in fact, it's an absolutely crucial detail.
Most countries have a written constitution to protect their citizens' rights, which has sacred status, and which the government of the day can't just amend at will. But in Britain, any Act of Parliament has the same status as any other. A purely British Bill of Rights could easily be messed around or repealed a future government.
The ECHR, on the other hand, is an international treaty. Although it's now become a part of our legal system, the actual text describing our human rights is contained in that treaty, which puts it beyond the day-to-day reach of MPs. Our politicians can't modify, edit or repeal it. In that sense, the ECHR fulfils the same role as the German Grundgesetz or the US Constitution - it creates a red line which politicians can't cross.
If we were to follow David Cameron's policy of scrapping the HRA and completely replacing it with our own British Bill of Rights, we'd throw away an important safeguard against a corrupt or malevolent government in future.
So I was relieved to see the following paragraph in this latest report:
"In our view it is imperative that the HRA not be diluted in any way in the process of adopting a Bill of Rights. Not only must there be no attempt to redefine the rights themselves, for example by attempting to make public safety or security the foundational value which trumps all others, but there must be no question of weakening the existing machinery in the HRA for the protection of Convention rights."
Thank goodness, really. As long as we remain protected by the European Convention, I can't see a problem with a supplementary set of rights. With that caveat, I'm broadly in favour of this report and its findings.
The biggest problem for human rights law, however, is the problem of perception. There's already a mistaken belief that human rights benefit criminals and terrorists more than the law-abiding citizen. It's not helped by the lurid reports in the gutter press every time a prisoner or deportee launches a legal challenge under the HRA. The most important thing the government can do right now is to stick up for their own legislation - to say that the HRA is a fundamentally good thing, and that it protects everyone equally under the law.