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Constitutional Reform - Overview

Law scrolls; Parliament copyrightThe Government set out a programme for political and constitutional reform as a fundamental element of the Coalition agreement. The programme is wide-ranging and aims to restore people’s faith in their politics and politicians.

A great deal of work is already underway. Legislation has already been introduced to establish fixed-term Parliaments of five years. This removes the power of the Prime Minister to call elections and means people will know an election is expected to take place in May every five years. The Parliamentary Voting Systems and Constituencies Bill will provide for a referendum on whether or not to keep the existing first-past-the-post system or adopt the alternative vote giving voters – for the first time – a say about the way in which they elect their MPs. It will also reduce the number of MPs from 650 to 600 and provide for a boundary review to make the sizes of constituencies more equal, so that everyone’s votes carry more equal weight.

The Government is also working on greater accountability for politicians, through the introduction of a power of recall. This will enable voters to force a by-election where their MP is guilty of serious wrongdoing.

And work is also being undertaken on reform of the House of Lords, with a cross-party committee producing proposals for a wholly or mainly elected second chamber.

But the Government’s programme of political and constitutional reform doesn’t stop there. There’s also reform of party funding, introducing a statutory register of lobbyists, the implementation of individual electoral registration, establishing a commission to consider the 'West Lothian question', support for people with disabilities to become MPs - and much more.

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