Archive for the ‘Reforms’ Category

Parliamentary Reform

lundi, novembre 30th, 2009

Dear All,
In September 2009 we had a debate on the various reforms being discussed to enable MPs to hold the Executive to account more effectively. A cross-party set up to consider the problem has now published its report and I am glad to see how closely they have followed the recommendations of our group.
These are:
– to assure back-benchers a greater say in the scheduling of debates.
– establishing methods whereby MPs have more opportunity to improve pending legislation.
– giving greater independence to select committees to scrutinise Whitehall departments.
– to strengthen Committees by ceasing to let the Whips choose Chairmanships as a reward for loyal service to the Party and making more openings for members not necessarily toeing the Party line.
– increasing the resources of the Committees and ensuring more Executive attention to their reports.
– ensuring that Committees offer an alternative career structure to ministerial appointments so that they are made up of hard-working MPs with specialist knowledge.
– finding ways such as e-petitions so that matters of popular concern are given attention without their having to first be taken up by the Executive.

I agree with Michael that these are welcome reforms but it remains a piecemeal reform. Until somebody has the courage to consider looking hard at Britain »s decaying constitution as a whole we will continue to have serious problems with what remains of our parliamentary democracy. During this election campaign, so far, the subject has hardly been touched upon.
The reforms suggested for local government are based on a philosophy of  »direct government » which — we have noted ourselves -will seriously undermine parliamentary sovereignty. Moreover, we must not forget that the convenient MPs » expense  »scandal » (proving that most MPs are actually honest) has led to a purge of almost half the Parliamentary Conservative Party, much of it illegal and certainly not parliamentary (eg dismissals based on retrospective rule-setting). It is going to be very difficult to establish party discipline under these circumstances. Indeed, the situation as it is currently evolving, suggests that the two-party system as it has existed over the last hundred years may be seriously challenged within the next parliament. What will these reforms mean then?
I am coming round more and more to the idea of a written constitution for Britain — not to reform, but to conserve what remains. This of course should be debated before the general elections. But of course it won »t. What a blinkered, provincial, weak and elusive electoral campaign 2009-10 is proving!