More Power to People and Parliament

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 threatened with exclusion form government office.
2. Political parties have too much power, so MPs who do not tow the line are threatened with deselection and so loss of their jobs.

The first can be much reduced by implementing properly the existing law that no MP can "hold an office of profit under the crown". That of course needs to be modified slightly to take account of the desirable change to a republic, but the vital point is to recognise that every member of the government, from the prime minister to the lowest private secretary, holds such an office and so has no business to be a member of Parliament.

A major step towards achieving the second problem would be a switch from our archaic first-past-the-post system to the single transferable vote. Not only would the latter give the highly desirable proportional system, but, relevant to the point under discussion, it would much reduce the power of parties by making it far easier for multiple members of the same party to be candidates in the same constituency (more than the number of vacancies) without any problem of vote splitting arising from that.

Going back to the first problem, having excluded all government members from membership of Parliament, it is then necessary to give Parliament power to summon any member of the government (politicians and civil servants alike) to answer questions put to them by either the whole house or, more usually, a select committee, with any refusal to attend or to give a satisfactory and truthful answer to any question being a criminal offence leading to immediate loss of office and serious punishment. Obviously subjects involving national security or personal privacy should, when necessary, be dealt with in camera, with the committee concerned deciding afterwards whether the secrecy needs to be preserved in each case.

These proposals may not be sufficient to solve either problem, but I believe they are a necessary step towards doing so.

edited on Feb 9, 2015 by Jake Wellman

Malcolm Ramsay Apr 17, 2015

I posted the following in a related proposal – Separation of Powers: https://constitutionuk.com/post/90982 – a couple of hours ago:

There is another proposal which supports this (though it hasn't seen much activity either): 'Remove the greasy pole to number 10' (in the Parliament section) – https://constitutionuk.com/post/81412

I suggest that separation between the Judiciary and the other two branches is taken care of in other proposals, particularly Conor's threads on how judges are appointed and overseen. I'd say the easiest way of ensuring separation between Parliament and Executive is simply to require any MP who is appointed as a Minister to give up their seat (which would create two different political career paths). I suggest:

Any Member of Parliament who is appointed to the office of minister shall give up their seat in Parliament

Listed below are some loosely related links: a couple of proposals in the Government section which require the PM and Cabinet Ministers to be appointed by Parliament and another in the Parliament section which says that MPs may not have second jobs:

JimF Apr 18, 2015

Any Member of Parliament who is appointed to the office of minister shall give up their seat in Parliament

Yes, I would agree with that wording.

Sorry this is rather late. I haven't been able to contribute to phase 2 at all until this afternoon, which leaves me far too little time to cover all the ground I should.

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