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
    2085 pts
  2. Ian Smith
    1814 pts
  3. James Doran
    1410 pts
  4. Malcolm Ramsay
    1137 pts
  5. Tel
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The constitution should enshrine the democratic accountability of the security services, authorising intelligence agencies to undertake surveillance for counter-terrorism purposes, and requiring the relevant government ministers to present reports of their activities to parliament.

James Doran
by James Doran
17 Votes
Voting closed
Comments 26
James Doran

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

There should be a very serious debate about whether members of parliament should be entitled to carry out any other paid work. If it is decided that they should be allowed, there should less be limitations. At the very least MPs should not be allowed to undertake any outside work connected with law reform or law enforcement.

Ian Smith
by Ian Smith
3 Votes
Voting closed
Comments 8
Ian Smith

The UK government should be required to publish the annual budget four months in advance of it being laid before parliament, to enable greater public and parliamentary scrutiny of it.   In a lecture to the London School of Economics [http://www.lse.ac.uk/publicEvents/events/2015/03/20150316t1200vLSE.aspx], the First Minister of Scotland Nicola Sturgeon called for a reform to the way in which the UK government sets the budget and allows for parliamentary scrutiny. As an alternative,...

ConstitutionUK
by ConstitutionUK
10 Votes
Voting closed
Comments 9
ConstitutionUK

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

It seems odd that there is no mention yet of the Select Committees. Margaret Hodge in particular gets a lot of attention in the media, and although I gather the government always has a majority I think the fact that they have their own chair person who may not be from a government party greatly improves the public perception of the House of Commons. I think they do a good job and I wonder whether they need to be strengthened further and if so how. It seems to me that their independence...

Alan Ray-Jones
by Alan Ray-Jones
10 Votes
Voting closed
Comments 11
Alan Ray-Jones

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

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

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

Suggested constitution clause: 'In general, all communications to and from Members of Parliament and civil servants shall be made publicly available.  Such transparency of information may be restricted by Parliament where necessary for the purposes of national security, the national economy, public safety and order, the integrity of the individual, the sanctity of private life, or the prevention and prosecution of crime.'     Idea behind the draft clause: Openness is a key component...

Ian Smith
by Ian Smith
13 Votes
Voting closed
Comments 21
Ian Smith
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