London, Sept.24 : Human rights laws and the growth of the benefits culture have destroyed the notion of individual responsibility in Britain, making people lazy and selfish, according to an adviser to London Mayor Boris Johnson. Anthony Browne, the head of the Policy Exchange think-tank who is to become the Mayor of London's policy director next month, said the protection now provided by the state makes people grow up believing they have the right to free health care and protection from discrimination or punishment.
At the same time, however, this safety net makes people abandon their duties to look after elderly relatives, care for children properly or get a job.
The Telegraph quoted him as pointing out that there are now 101,300 drug addicts and alcoholics living on Incapacity Benefit - a number similar in size to the British Army.
Browne warned this is now leading to an "extreme solipsism" whereby individuals think they have the right to get drunk on the London Underground, which is "corrosive to society".
Johnson banned drinking on the Underground in one of his first acts as mayor despite violent protests.
He said there is no "magic bullet" to correct the problems, but urged people to stop thinking that the state knows best and should intervene in all areas of people's lives.
Browne said values had changed rapidly over the past 40 years in Britain, including public attitudes to homosexuality, single mothers, race, alcohol and drugs.
Although he agreed that some of the changes in society were welcome, such as the better treatment people from different backgrounds now receive, people were bound to be "confused" if the morals they were taught as a child had changed by the time they reached adulthood.
Browne went on to point out that gun and knife crime is on the rise in Britain, and that the collapse of the traditional nuclear family that has occurred in recent decades is "unprecedented in history".
He said that "the decline of individual responsibility" is also key to understanding recent changes in society.
"Human rights laws place no emphasis at all on the responsibilities of individuals. They tell all of us that we can have rights without responsibilities," he said.