We must restore power, accountability and competence to our political system. The electorate must be sure that that their vote counts and that all local and national matters will be dealt with properly and democratically. Without this our much vaunted democracy simply does not exist.
The House of Commons used to contain an enviable degree of skill and experience. Today we find parliament staffed with people who have only ever worked in or around politics. The result is a political system that favours regulation over personal responsibility and government over society.
The case for reform
The present ‘first past the post’ system may not be perfect but it is a great deal better than any of the alternatives. We believe that Proportional Representation and the Single Transferable or Alternative Voting systems would be a grave mistake and would lead to the further corruption of politics by ‘rolling coalitions’ permanently entrenched in power. These systems have been extensively trialled elsewhere without success.
There is however need for reform in the House of Lords which has been undermined by politically-motivated appointments. We believe that the House of Lords should be a non-political revising and scrutinising chamber made up of people with experience and expertise. The best way to achieve this would be through an independent appointments panel with clear and transparent guidelines. Under our proposals, members of the House of Lords would be obliged to refrain from membership of political parties and avoid political activism.
The impartiality of the Civil Service must be protected from inappropriate political interference and we would ensure that political appointees had no direct authority over government officials.
The devolution settlements in Scotland and Wales are deeply flawed, hugely expensive and unsatisfactory. We believe that there needs to be a better connection between the devolved assemblies and the Westminster parliament. The roles of Members of the Scottish Parliament (MSPs) and Welsh Assembly Members (AMs) would therefore be combined with those of Westminster MPs. Those representing Scottish and Welsh constituencies would sit for part of the time in Westminster and at other times in their devolved chambers. This would get rid of double representation and deliver more powerful and accountable legislatures. To further balance matters we would set up an English Grand Committee to initiate and review England only legislation in the House of Commons, with certain powers (similar to the House of Lords) to block legislation that impacts only on England.
These key reforms are proposed in order to strengthen parliament, re-establish the authority of the House of Commons and make government more democratic, accountable and effective.