The Politics of Electoral Reform - Friday 30th July 2010
On 22nd July 2010 a bill was introduced in Parliament providing for a referendum on the voting system used to elect MPs to the House of Commons and a reduction in the number of MPs, together with an equalisation of the sizes of constituencies. The Parliamentary Voting System and Constituencies Bill provides for an asymmetrical linkage between these two sets of proposals:
* assuming the Bill is passed, the boundary changes take effect at the time of the next general election whatever the result of the referendum
* even if there is a ‘yes’ vote in the referendum, Alternative Voting will not be introduced unless the boundary changes have been made. Alternative Voting is explained in more detail here.
- Is a referendum even necessary?
The Bill embodies a central plank – arguably the central plank – of the Coalition agreement.
The Conservatives appear to believe that the equalisation of constituency sizes and an accompanying reduction in the number of MPs will tilt the electoral landscape permanently in their favour. The LibDems seem to have settled for AV as a second best (in place of the Single Transferable Voting they campaigned for in their manifesto) but still a valuable prize likely to increase their representation in future Parliaments.
The agreement to have a referendum on AV was a compromise reached, possibly because the Conservatives had to offer some concession on electoral reform to secure the agreement of the LibDems. Now, however, both the Conservative and LibDem leaderships place a very high priority on getting these proposals into law as soon as possible.
Why consider AV?
- the LibDems may believe that AV makes it more likely that they will be a necessary partner in future coalition governments; also that boundary changes will make it more likely in future that the Conservatives will be able to form a government of their own. If this is right, it is essential from the LibDem’s perspective to hold an early referendum, before the boundary changes can be implemented
- the Conservatives may believe that AV will work to their disadvantage, but that this will be outweighed by the benefit gained from equalising the sizes of constituencies. It is probable that the Conservatives would prefer a ‘no’ vote in the referendum, but are also alive to the danger that a ‘no’ vote will make it less likely that the coalition will survive for a full five-year term. That may be why the Bill accelerates the normal Boundary Review process by removing the Boundary Commissions’ powers to call local Public Enquiries.
Both parties may believe that there is some general advantage in the mere holding of a referendum on political reform, because it sends a message to the electorate that the Coalition is serious about ‘cleaning up politics’ – even if the actual subject of the proposed referendum is not central to most voters’ concerns.
The Bill is being put through its various stages with the maximum possible speed. The First Reading (i.e. publication) was crammed into the last few days of the Parliamentary Session just ended, without any pretence of pre-legislative scrutiny.
The Second Reading will be on 6th September, the first day of the new two-week mini-Session before the Commons again adjourns for the Party Conference recess.
We will....reduce the number of MPs in Parliament (p65)...A Conservative government will ensure every vote will have equal value by introducing ‘fair vote’ reforms to equalise the size of constituency electorates, and conduct a boundary review to implement these changes within five years (p67)...We support the first-past-the-post system for Westminster elections because it gives voters the chance to kick out a government they are fed up with (p67)
Change politics and abolish safe seats by introducing a fair, more
proportional voting system for MPs. Our preferred Single Transferable Vote system gives people the choice between candidates as well as parties. Under the new system, we will be able to reduce the number of MPs by 150 (pp 87-8)
Referenda, held on the same day, for moving to the Alternative Vote for elections to the House of Commons and to a democratic and accountable Second Chamber (chapter 9:2)
The results of the 2005 and 2010 General Elections show the extent to which the electoral system appears to be biased in Labour's favour:
|Share of National vote||32.4%||35.2%||36.1%
In 2005, Labour won around 780,000 more votes than the Conservatives and achieved a majority of over 150 seats. In 2010, the Conservatives won over 2 million more vote than Labour, but achieved a majority of less than 50 seats.
There are three explanations for these anomalous outcomes, two of them demographic and one behavioural:
* In England, safe Conservative seats are predominately in rural areas and generally have larger electorates than safe Labour seats, many of which are in inner cities. The discrepancy has increased in recent years as the population of many urban areas has fallen.
* Constituencies in Scotland and Wales, where Labour have many
safe seats, generally have smaller electorates than English seats.
* Turnout at General Elections is usually higher in safe Conservative seats, reflecting the social makeup of these constituencies.
The Bill will address the first two of these issues. Constituency sizes will be equalised and a disproportionate number of Scottish seats will disappear, correcting Scotland's current over-representation in the Westminster Parliament.
However even after these changes the Conservatives will still appear to be significantly underrepresented as this analysis of electoral results in two imaginary constituencies demonstrates:
Labour's unfair advantage?
Pimmshire is a safe Conservative seat with 75,000 registered voters. Voter turnout in the last General Election was 65%.
Champerstown is a safe Labour seat with 65,000 registered voters. Turnout in the last General Election was 45%.
In each constituency the winning candidate achieved 50% of the votes cast. So:
The victorious Conservative candidate in Pimmshire gained:
75,000 x 65% x 50% = 24,375 votes
While the victorious Labour candidate in Champerstown gained:
65,000 x 45% x 50% = 14,625 votes
Taking the two constituencies together, the Conservatives won 62.5% of the global vote, but won the same number of seats as Labour (one each). So the Conservatives appear to need more votes than Labour to achieve the same outcome. In this sense Conservative votes are 'less valuable' than Labour votes.
Now assume that the election is refought after a Boundary Commission review. Both seats now have 70,000 registered voters. In each constituency the winning candidate again achieves 50% of the votes cast. So:
The victorious Conservative candidate in Pimmshire gains:
70,000 x 65% x 50% = 22,750 votes
While the victorious Labour candidate in Champerstown gains:
70,000 x 45% x 50% = 15,750 votes
With equal constituency sizes, the Conservatives have still won 59% of the global vote, without gaining any advantage in parliamentary seats.
So in this imaginary example it is apparent that most of the perceived disadvantage arises from higher voter turnout, not from an inequality in constituency sizes. Only about one third of the disadvantage can be attributed to the unequal size of the two constituencies - some estimates suggest that unequal constituency size in England contributes only around 20% of the disadvantage.
Will the Bill be passed?
Labour have announced that they will oppose the Bill in its current form although, in line with their Manifesto commitment, they would have supported a 'single issue' Bill providing for a referendum on AV. Jack Straw has said that the linkage of referendum and boundary review in one Bill is 'a trick'. Labour are - understandably enough - strongly opposed to 'boundary gerrymandering' which is likely significantly to reduce their representation in future parliaments, and in particular to the proposed reduction in the number of MPs. Feelings on the issue are running high: some people on the Labour benches seem to believe that they could never win another general election under the proposed arrangements.
However the Bill will not be defeated, or substantially amended, unless there is a significant Conservative backbench revolt.
This is a possibility: many Conservative backbenchers, particularly on the right of the party, are strongly opposed to AV which they see as a 'Tory Killer'. Disconnect is focussed on the proposed referendum date, which coincides with elections to the Scottish Parliament, Welsh Assembly and Northern Ireland Assembly, as well as local government elections in parts of England. In consequence, turnout may be significantly higher in areas which are likely to vote in favour of AV.
Some Conservative - and even LibDem - backbenchers are also unhappy with the clause in the Bill which removes the Boundary Commission's ability to convene local Public Enquiries on contentious boundary changes, including the abolition of seats.
The Referendum campaign
Assuming the Bill is passed, public funds will be made available for umbrella 'yes' and 'no' campaigns in the period leading up to the referendum on 5th May. Although it is Conservative policy to oppose AV, David Cameron has made it clear that he will not play a significant role in the campaign, and it is likely that other leading Conservatives will adopt a similarly low profile, perhaps because an acrimonious campaign might increase the chances that the coalition will falter if the result of the referndum is 'no'. Rodney Leach, the veteran Euro-sceptic, has been appointed to lead the 'no' campaign at a safe distance from the leadership.
The LibDems will support the 'yes' campaign, although Nick Clegg has said that he does not expect to play a leading role. Grassroots support for AV in the LibDem Party is fairly thin: the Party has been campaigning for Proportional Representation for several decades (and AV is not a form of PR) and many Party members are beginning to speculate that a referendum on AV will reduce the likelihood of a subsequent referendum on PR, at least in the next a decade or two. Some of these tensions can be expected to manifest themselves at the LibDem Party Conference in September.
It is likely that Labour will also support the 'yes' campaign, although the extent of their commitment will depend to some extent on the result of the leadership contest. However recent events suggest there is an outside chance that Labour may boycott the campaign as a protest against the 'trick' legislation behind the referendum.
As things currently stand, most people in the Westminster Village expect that the referendum will result in a 'no' vote. The results of referenda on electoral reform in other countries support the view that when citizens are offered a new system of voting which they do not feel particularly strongly about - and in many cases do not really understand - they vote for the status quo. The counter-argument is that when people are offered an additional power - in this the ability to vote for more than one candidate - they generally take it. A good deal will depend on the campaign. The 'no' lobby is likely to base its campaign on the idea that 'a vote for AV is a vote for permanent coalition government': how well this plays with the public will depend very largely on the fortunes of the current coalition over the coming months.
A briefing paper on Alternative Voting, including worked examples to demonstrate how the system proposed in the Bill would work in practice, can be found here.
Tue, 28th February 2012
The next meeting of the APPG on the Constitution will take place on Tuesday 28th February at 7pm in Committee Room 3.
Mon, 20th February 2012
Bulletin for 20th February 2012
Mon, 6th February 2012
A summary of The Constitution Society's recent seminar exploring routes towards improved processes for constitutional change.
Thu, 2nd February 2012
An interesting look at the historical roots of modern constitutional law as it effects the issue of Scottish independence.
Would the Conservatives benefit from Scottish independence? - Michael Everett, Researcher, The Constitution Society
Wed, 1st February 2012
Michael Everett looks at the possible effects of Scottish independence on the balance of power between parties in the UK.
Mon, 16th January 2012
Aidan O'Neill QC (Matrix Chambers) discusses the legal issues surrounding a referendum on Scottish Independence.
Mon, 16th January 2012
The UK government’s legal argument for a binding referendum on Scottish independence runs counter to international and constitutional law - Dr. Matt Qvortrup
Thu, 12th January 2012
Answers to some key questions about the methods and effects of the Boundary Review underway.
Thu, 8th December 2011
The House of Lords grand committee met yesterday to debate the Constitution Committee's report on the process of constitutional change
Wed, 2nd November 2011
The Joint Committee on the Draft House of Lords Reform Bill met with four academic experts to hear their views on the merits of the Draft Bill.
Tue, 25th October 2011
A backbench motion debate on Britain’s relationship with the European Union has led to a significant rebellion of government MPs.
Mon, 24th October 2011
Today the government published the Cabinet Manual, heralding it as 'the ultimate user's guide to government'. It brings together a range of sources and aims to give a descriptive account of the procedural arrangements of the executive.
Fri, 21st October 2011
With Parliament preparing to follow the call of a public petition to debate the future of Britain’s relationship with the EU, questions about the appropriate role of direct popular influence on the political process have returned to the spotlight.
On whether or not to repeal; a briefing on the debate surrounding the Human Rights Act and a UK Bill of Rights
Tue, 4th October 2011
This week, as senior politicians from both sides of the coalition express differences in opinion regarding the future of the 1998 Human Rights Act and the prospect of a new UK Bill of Rights, we present some of the best recent writing on the issue as well as some useful background information.
Mon, 19th September 2011
After 14 months, and no small amount of controversy, the government's plan to fix the duration of parliamentary terms becomes law.
Thu, 15th September 2011
As Harriett Baldwin's Private Member's Bill is defeated at it's Third Reading, the government announces plans to create a commission to find a solution to the long-standing debate.
The Boundary Commission for England publishes its proposals for revised constituency boundaries to be contested in 2015
Tue, 13th September 2011
As the Boundary Commission for England releases its revised constituency proposals, we look at the implications of its new focus on equal population distribution.
Thu, 18th August 2011
The Scotland Bill faces its second reading with the Lords' return in September. But does it get to the heart of the devolution debate?
Baroness Royall on House of Lords Reform: The government’s draft bill ducks the crucial constitutional questions.
Tue, 9th August 2011
Shadow Leader of the House of Lords, and contributor to "The end of the peer show?", Baroness Royall sets out her view on House of Lords reform.
Thu, 26th January 2012
An archive of all regular bulletins
Tue, 9th August 2011
Downing Professor of the Laws of England at the University of Cambridge, and contributor to "The end of the peer show?", Sir John Baker sets out his view on House of Lords reform.
Thu, 21st July 2011
The Lords Constitution Select Committee concludes that the current variable treatment of constitutional proposals is unacceptable. It argues that there should be a “clear and consistent process” applied to all cases of “significant constitutional change”.
Tue, 19th July 2011
A debate at the LSE this week launched The Constitution Society's publication of a collection of responses to the draft bill on Lords reform from distinguished academics, peers and MPs.
Fri, 22nd July 2011
Minister for Political and Constitutional Reform, and contributor to "The end of the peer show?", Mark Harper sets out the government's view on House of Lords reform.
Tue, 28th June 2011
The House of Lords significantly amended the European Union Bill during its third reading in the Upper House last week. Peers used this last opportunity to amend the Bill to demonstrate their unwillingness to accept its controversial proposals.
Mon, 6th June 2011
Dr Robin Archer of the LSE has explained the lessons the UK might learn from examining the history of the Australian Senate. The insights he offered, in an interview with The Constitution Society, are of particular interest in light of the government’s new proposals on Lords reform.
Thu, 2nd June 2011
On May 17th the government introduced its House of Lords Reform Draft Bill in the Commons and the Lords. The Draft Bill suggests a move to an 80% elected upper house, with the remaining members appointed by recommendation of the Prime Minister. The new House of Lords would be made up of 300 members, with the 240 elected members sitting for 15-year terms.
Sat, 7th May 2011
The electorate has resoundingly rejected a proposal to introduce a system of alternative voting. The fall out will be the deferral of electoral reform for another generation and the political manoeuvring which underpinned the referendum is unlikely to have done anything to improve public perception of the integrity of politicians and our political system.
Wed, 18th May 2011
The Constitution Society’s evidence to the House of Lords Constitution Committee’s inquiry into Constitutional Reform was published on the 13th of May 2011 (link). The Society used agreed principles of Good Government to assess the quality of the legislative process behind the recently enacted Parliamentary Voting Systems and Constituencies Act (which led to May 5th’s referendum).
Fri, 13th May 2011
Elizabeth Truss, Member of Parliament for South West Norfolk, has called for councils to be “more free to take their own decisions”, warning that an excessive concern for equality between local government bodies disempowers British communities. Ms Truss made the case for a stronger localism in Britain during an interview with the Constitution Society.
Tue, 26th April 2011
Alan Renwick of the University of Reading explores the arguments around the AV referendum.
Mon, 18th April 2011
Chris Nicholson, Chief Executive of the liberal think tank Centre Forum, explains his reasons for supporting a move to the Alternative Vote at the forthcoming referendum.
Tue, 12th April 2011
Lord Kinnock recently spoke to The Constitution Society about his support for AV and his reaction to the negativism of the no campaign in the lead up to the referendum on May 5th. Here we report his thoughts.
Wed, 6th April 2011
A collection of resources to help you make up your mind ahead of Thursday's referendum.
Tue, 5th April 2011
Former Chair of the Labour party Baroness Hayter defends First Past the Post ahead of next month's referendum on the Alternative Vote.
Wed, 6th April 2011
Former cabinet minister Peter Hain MP explains why he supports the yes to AV campaign.
Fri, 6th May 2011
The AV referendum ballot papers are being counted. We show you the latest figures.
Wed, 13th April 2011
Links to The Constitution Society's Briefing papers on AV. We explain what it is and how it might affect our political system? We also report on our findings when we commissioned YouGov to ask 2000 people what they thought.
Mon, 17th January 2011
Direct links to briefing papers produced by The Constitution Society.
Fri, 25th March 2011
As more of the Government's legislative programme reaches the Lords, we consider the implications of Coalition for the Upper Chamber.
Tue, 1st March 2011
In the context of Thursday's Welsh vote on broader legislative independence, we consider the genesis and implications of the wave of referendums currently planned for the UK.
Fri, 18th February 2011
Cameron and Clegg have stated their cases for and against AV. The public now has 10 weeks to decide the future of the electoral system.
Fri, 11th February 2011
We take stock of the changes made to the Voting System Bill during its epic scrutiny session in the Lords.
Mon, 17th January 2011
We assess the progress made in a century of debate on reform of the House of Lords. Are we any closer to knowing what we want from a reformed Upper House and are we sure we know how to achieve it?
Thu, 17th February 2011
Almost seven months after being introduced in the Commons, the Voting Systems Bill has received royal assent in time for the May 5th referendum.
Tue, 25th January 2011
This month's meeting of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on the Constitution hosted a fascinating discussion on the Cabinet Manual. Despite broad consensus on the potentiality of the document, the merits of its implications could not be agreed.
Wed, 2nd February 2011
A promised "package of concessions" at report stage has permitted the Voting System Bill to conclude its marathon committee stage debate in the Lords.
Mon, 31st January 2011
Facing their 17th day of programmed discussion of amendments to the Voting System Bill, the Lords for the first time face a guillotine on debate.
Tue, 25th January 2011
The Government yesterday afforded the European Union Bill a further day of debate in the Commons but critics argue it that the Government continues to curtail proper scrutiny.
Wed, 5th January 2011
The infinite questions on Lords reform left unresolved by a century of debate.
Tue, 21st December 2010
Following the publication of the Draft Cabinet Manual, the Constitution Society talks to the experts.
Fri, 17th December 2010
Reform of the House has been on the political agenda for more than a century yet the Lords stands largely unchanged. The Coalition have made the most recent pledge in the line of policy promises but what do we want from reform?
Fri, 10th December 2010
Notoriously difficult to define, the tangible face of constitutional reform can be glimpsed in the recent debate over tuition fees. The cries of 'unfairness' and 'punishment' reignite the devolution debate amidst a continuing trend towards increasing regional autonomy.
Fri, 3rd December 2010
Will the dramatic pace of the Voting System Bill be slowed as it navigates resistance in the Lords?
Thu, 25th November 2010
Constitution expert Meg Russell makes powerful plea for Government to reform appointment policy or face "serious damage" to the House.
Fri, 26th November 2010
A group of new MPs have launched a bid to introduce an electronic voting system in the House of Commons.
Thu, 18th November 2010
Lord Howarth's passionate response to the Parliamentary Voting System and Constituencies Bill is indicative of a broad appetite for continued debate on electoral reform and boundary revision.
Fri, 19th November 2010
Simon Hix, Professor in the Department of Government at the LSE, has criticised Government proposals to hold a referendum on AV in an interview with reconstitution.org.uk.
Tue, 16th November 2010
A "lawyer's wheeze" or a serious matter of constitutional principle? A group of peers claimed on Monday 15th November that the Pariamentary Voting System and Constiuencies Bill is technically "hybrid" and as such should undergo a longer process of scrutiny by committee. A subsequent vote in the Lords was narrowly defeated, meaning that the progress of the Bill will not be slowed as anticipated.
Mon, 8th November 2010
From the perspective of proposals to "reduce and equalise" parliamentary constituencies, we probe the ties between the Government's broader programme for constitutional reform.
Mon, 25th October 2010
Harriett Baldwin, Conservative MP for West Worcestershire, speaks to ReConstitution about her private members’ Bill, seeking to find a solution to the issue commonly known as the ‘West Lothian Question’, and the future of constituency boundaries.
Mon, 1st November 2010
Following a lecture by the former President of the New Zealand Labour Party, we look for lessons to be learnt from their experience of constitutional reform.
Wed, 6th October 2010
Results of our specially commissioned YouGov poll on AV and the referendum. 2548 people were asked various questions about their voting intentions and their understanding of voting systems generally. They were also asked to give their reasons; with surprising results.
Fri, 13th August 2010
Although people tend to talk about Alternative Voting as if it is a single concept, there are in fact many different variants on the AV system. Our briefing paper gives a clear explanation of the AV system currently proposed by the Government, together with worked examples.
Thu, 16th September 2010
Like the Parliamentary Voting System and Constituencies Bill, the Fixed term Parliaments Bill is being rushed through Parliament, with woefully inadequate time for scrutiny. Yet the Bill contains novel provisions which will have a profound impact on votes of no confidence and dissolution of Parliament - not least the abolition of one of the Queen's prerogative powers. Why the hurry?
Thu, 7th October 2010
The Constitution Society (TCS) commissioned YouGov to carry out an on-line poll to gauge public opinion on a broad range of issues around electoral reform and the government’s referendum proposal. 2548 people were asked various questions about their voting intentions and their understanding of voting systems generally. They were also asked to give their reasons. The survey produced some surprising results .
Thu, 21st October 2010
An archive of agendas and resources from previous meetings of the APPG on the Constitution.
Fri, 20th August 2010
Following the Electoral Commission's confirmation of funding rules for the AV referendum campaign, we look at how this interesting campaign might evolve, and whether either camp is advantaged from the start.
Looking for that special someone: the enduring relationship between politicians and special advisers
Thu, 29th July 2010
We take a look at special advisers, often thought of as a recent phenomenon. However closer examination reveals that special advisers have been around as long as politicians.
Sat, 17th July 2010
On 15th July 2010 Nick Clegg, the Deputy Prime Minister became the first witness to the newly-formed Select Committee on Political and Constitutional Reform. The committee cross-examined Mr Clegg both on the timing and content of reform proposals.
Sun, 11th July 2010
The first weighty debate of proposals to reform the House of Lords took place on 29th June 2010. Though ignored in the media, the debate included some of the most cogently reasoned arguments for and against a move from an appointed to an elected House, with a majority of the 65 peers participating in the debate expressing concern at the prospect of the creation of 'a pale imitation of the House of Commons'.
Sat, 24th July 2010
In a further valuable contribution to the burgeoning debate on constitutional reform in general, and the codification of the British constitution in particular, a group of constitutional experts led by Stephen Hockman QC and Professor Vernon Bogdanor have called for a holistic approach to the constitution. In a paper published by JUSTICE, the group analyses the questions which need resolution before any moves can be made towards the creation of a codified constitution.
Fri, 2nd July 2010
Prompted by the recent publication of a book on the subject by Richard Gordon QC, the PR consultancy SPADA recently sponsored a debate on whether the UK now needs a written constitution. Read more, or watch a video of the debate in full.
Wed, 16th June 2010
The Rt Hon John Bercow, Speaker of the House of Commons outlined his vision of a revitalised chamber of the House of Commons. The new Parliament has seen an encouraging number of new faces in the House taking an active interest in the business of the Chamber. But what will it take to sustain that enthusiasm and reinvigorate debate in the House?
Mon, 7th June 2010
Both the Scottish National Party and Plaid Cymru have stated that they intend to exploit the hung parliament to their own advantage, once again putting the spotlight on the 'English question' - that Scottish and Welsh MPs may vote in Westminster on issues that affect only England, whilst English MPs have no say in relation to the deliberations of the Scottish parliament or the Welsh assembly. We look at whether there will ever be a solution to this problem.
Sat, 29th May 2010
Amid the calls for electoral reform and the coalition government's promise to put the Alternative Voting system to a referendum, we look at what difference a change to the voting system would make. Is democracy in the voting or the counting?
Tue, 18th May 2010
The European Union has been criticised in the past for failing to develop a more effective foreign policy, but the External Action Service is supposed to bring new cohesion and coherence to this area of European cooperation. However, the new High Representative for Foreign Affairs, Baroness Ashton, has already run into opposition to her plans and, although a compromise has been struck, the road ahead scarcely looks any easier.
Wed, 12th May 2010
The negotiations leading to the formation of the new coalition government have turned, in part, on the question of electoral reform. A matter of such constitutional importance should, it is argued, form part of a wider review of the constitution and should not be used merely as a political bargaining chip. Will sufficient time be given to consider the implications of change before reforms are pushed through?
Should civil servants have the tyranny of the first draft? Peter Lloyd considers the Cabinet Secretary’s “Cabinet Manual”
Thu, 6th May 2010
Peter Lloyd questions the provenance of the recently disclosed 'Cabinet Manual'. Amid suggestions that the manual might form the basis of a written constitution, he questions whether it should be for a civil servant to generate the first draft of such a fundamental document.
Sat, 1st May 2010
In a letter published in the Financial Times this week, members of The Constitution Society and the Better Government Initiative outline four basic principles of good government that could improve the legislative process. The principles are difficult to fault, and could be implemented without legislation, but the question will remain whether there is any incentive for politicians to change the way that they behave.
Tue, 13th April 2010
At a debate of the Society of Cogers on 19th April 2010, Nat le Roux, Chairman of the Trustees of the Constitution Society, argued that our problem may not lie with our constitution itself, but rather with the conduct of our politicians. He suggested that the single biggest problem of contemporary democracy - is that all politicians are terrified of losing power, because the lesson of the last 30 years is that once you’ve lost power you don’t get it back for a generation.
Mon, 26th April 2010
In an article published for the first time on the ReConstitution website, Professor Dawn Oliver argues that we should resist political pressure to reform the House of Lords by making it an elected body. She proposes abolishing the House of Lords and starting from scratch by the creation of a wholly appointed Commission for Executive Scrutiny, with proposals which chime with views expressed by Lord Bingham.
Thu, 4th March 2010
The head of the Civil Service is warning Gordon Brown not to leave Number 10 if it is unclear who has won the upcoming election. Sir Gus O’Donnell told MPs that it is “the Prime Minister’s duty not to resign” until a successor can be found.
Wed, 21st April 2010
Will the problems with Parliament be solved by the retirement of many of the worst expenses offenders and an influx of new MPs? There is a perceptible mood for change amongst voters, but will altering some of the personnel be enough to restore confidence in both Parliament and the ‘constitution’ of the United Kingdom?
Wed, 7th April 2010
Campaigners are expressing their dismay, as the government’s legal commitment to hold a referendum on reforming the electoral system looks set to be scrapped as part of the ‘wash up’.
Mon, 29th March 2010
Legendary anti-corruption campaigner Martin Bell is spearheading a campaign to make the ‘wash up’ more transparent. Mr Bell is criticizing the process, which takes place during the final days of a parliament to try and get as many of the remaining bills finished as possible, as a “stitch-up by and for the main political parties”.
Wed, 17th March 2010
A senior government minster has laid into David Cameron’s plans to reduce the number of MPs should he get into power.
Mon, 15th March 2010
The controversial libel judge at the centre of a storm over the development of privacy law in the UK has hit back at his tabloid critics. Justice Eady, who rose to notoriety after punishing the News of the World for publishing intimate photos of Formula 1 boss Max Mosely’s private life, accused tabloids of having a vested interest in stunting privacy for financial gain.
Wed, 10th March 2010
A senior Tory is expressing her support for an elected House of Lords. Margot James, a vice-chairwoman of the Conservative party, made the announcement during an interview with Reconstitution where she claimed the current system was “out of kilter”.
Mon, 8th March 2010
Academics are calling for “immediate assurances” from the government that it will implement the recently agreed Wright reforms before the end of this parliament. Dr Meg Russell of the UCL Constitution Unit warned them “this is the timetable the Commons voted for and party leaders must work together to honour that.”
Tue, 23rd February 2010
The parliamentary reform movement is split over whether the proposed Wright Reforms go far enough.
Mon, 1st February 2010
Better Government Initiative launches major report.
Mon, 1st February 2010