Parliament

Should Parliament have tougher powers to check the work of the Government?

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The UK Parliament is one of the oldest representative assemblies in the world. Parliamentary sovereignty is a principal of the UK's uncodified constitution. This gives Parliament the highest legal authority in the UK, which means it can create or end any law. It has responsibility for checking the work of government and examining, debating and approving new laws. Despite its supreme legal authority, just how much power does Parliament have today? What should our constitution say about its power(s) to check the work of the government? What is the function of the unelected House of Lords and how much power do they really have?

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  1. John Z
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At present Parliament is controlled by the government, which determines what legislation will go through and with what relative priority. One of Parliament's two main jobs is supposed to be to hold the government to account, but it is totally unable to do that while government controls it. Several changes are needed to achieve this switch of control, but we have to recognise how it is currently achieved. 1. The government has powerful patronage, so MPs who don't tow the party line are...

JimF
by JimF
5 Votes
Voting closed
Comments 14
JimF
by
JimF

An MP's sole source of income shall be from their job as MP.  An MP shall not have a second job, nor do independent work such as consulting, lobbying, etc...  This proposal is even more relevent today in light of the Jack Straw and Malcolm Rifkind incidents revealed recently.  The concern here is an MP "selling" or "renting" their influence to achieve a result that may not be available for another constituent who cannot pay their "fee". 

John Z
by John Z
3 Votes
Voting closed
Comments 24
John Z
by
John Z

It is theoretically possible for Parliament to pass a bill to become law that includes multiple unrelated topics.  (For example, a defense bill could include spending on not just the military, but also roads, hospitals, schools, etc...).  This is a sly method of legislating by including items that individually may not have the legislative support to be enacted, but by grouping these items into one legislative bill, it will include a little something for multiple constituencies, which will...

John Z
by John Z
8 Votes
Voting closed
Comments 13
John Z
by
John Z

As membership of political parties has declined massively in the past few decades, donors have become increasingly central to British politics. It also appears to be the case that - particularly big donors - are fundamentally undermining the functioning of our democracy.  There should be restrictions on the amount of funding the political parties can receive - indeed, I would even recommend that they are forced to depend only on 5-10 pound joining fees. They would need to work harder to...

Harry Blain
by Harry Blain
12 Votes
Voting closed
Comments 27
Harry Blain

Although we have a freedom of information act in place at present it is of limited effectiveness because there are too many loopholes which officials and sometimes politicians use to avoid or delay giving proper answers. Democracy without knowledge of what is being done in our name is meaningless. We need a more effective right to freedom of information at two levels, one for everyone, giving a general right to know what has been done or is being planned to be done by all bodies carrying...

JimF
by JimF
9 Votes
Voting closed
Comments 16
JimF
by
JimF

Still two-tier parliament, lower & upper houses.  All lower house representatives are elected Upper house representatives could be a mix of elected or nominated. However in context of devolving power to regional assemblies, national (UK) parliament can be much smaller   Lower House Say 200-250 representatives 5 year terms Independent or party affiliated Constituency based – context of elections by PR Min age 21 Fit and proper person test A process for sacking...

Faisal Ahmed
by Faisal Ahmed
5 Votes
Voting closed
Comments 11
Faisal Ahmed

This is not a new idea. Indeed, despite its inclusion as a pledge in their coalition agreement, the Con-Dems have failed to introduce the so-called "power of recall" - a system whereby an MP's constituents can 'sack' an MP for "serious wrong-doing" (by forcing a by-election). Such a system must include checks and balances to ensure it is not abused, but "serious wrong-doing" should include not only such things as criminal activity, but also not following through on pre-election promises....

Jeremy Harpur
by Jeremy Harpur
15 Votes
Voting closed
Comments 11
Jeremy Harpur

Suggested clause for constitution: 'Members of Parliament must carry out their duties in a manner which is honest and trustworthy'   Idea behind the draft clause: Tiime and time again the public ask for honesty and trustwirthiness from politicians and over and over politicians let us down.  The constitution should state that these are core qualities and that all members of Parliament must carry out their duties in s manner which is honest and trustworthy.

Ian Smith
by Ian Smith
9 Votes
Voting closed
Comments 17
Ian Smith

I would include langauge in the UK Constitution that integrity, ethics, and the removal of all actual and potential conflicts of interests is paramount for maintaining public confidence.  For instance, the Constitution shall include (but not be limited to): 1.  that Parliament shall pass rules regarding MP's revealing all of their and their immediate family members' financial and business interests;  and 2.  that MP's shall abstain from voting on legislation that effects such financial...

John Z
by John Z
7 Votes
Voting closed
Comments 17
John Z
by
John Z

Select Committees should have more power to hold government to account.  Committees like the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) have shown their effectiveness in uncovering poor working practices, areas for improvement and initiative for change. Yet their hard work is undermined by the ability of the government to simply ignore it.  By granting more extensive powers to these committees to call and enforce the attendance of witnesses, to hold civil servants more directly to account and to...

Helen Richardson
by Helen Richardson
18 Votes
Voting closed
Comments 10
Helen Richardson
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