Political reform

The Government believes that our political system is broken. We urgently need fundamental political reform, including a referendum on electoral reform, much greater co-operation across party lines, and changes to our political system to make it far more transparent and accountable.

  • We will establish five-year fixed-term Parliaments. We will put a binding motion before the House of Commons stating that the next general election will be held on the first Thursday of May 2015. Following this motion, we will legislate to make provision for fixed-term Parliaments of five years. This legislation will also provide for dissolution if 55% or more of the House votes in favour.
  • We will bring forward a Referendum Bill on electoral reform, which includes provision for the introduction of the Alternative Vote in the event of a positive result in the referendum, as well as for the creation of fewer and more equal sized constituencies. We will whip both Parliamentary parties in both Houses to support a simple majority referendum on the Alternative Vote, without prejudice to the positions parties will take during such a referendum.
  • We will bring forward early legislation to introduce a power of recall, allowing voters to force a by-election where an MP is found to have engaged in serious wrongdoing and having had a petition calling for a by-election signed by 10% of his or her constituents.
  • We will establish a committee to bring forward proposals for a wholly or mainly elected upper chamber on the basis of proportional representation. The committee will come forward with a draft motion by December 2010. It is likely that this will advocate single long terms of office. It is also likely that there will be a grandfathering system for current Peers. In the interim, Lords appointments will be made with the objective of creating a second chamber that is reflective of the share of the vote secured by the political parties in the last general election.
  • We will bring forward the proposals of the Wright Committee for reform to the House of Commons in full – starting with the proposed committee for management of backbench business. A House Business Committee, to consider government business, will be established by the third year of the Parliament.
  • We will reduce electoral fraud by speeding up the implementation of individual voter registration.
  • We will establish a commission to consider the ‘West Lothian question’.
  • We will prevent the possible misuse of Parliamentary privilege by MPs accused of serious wrongdoing.
  • We will cut the perks and bureaucracy associated with Parliament.
  • We will consult with the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority on how to move away from the generous final-salary pension system for MPs.
  • We will fund 200 all-postal primaries over this Parliament, targeted at seats which have not changed hands for many years. These funds will be allocated to all political parties with seats in Parliament that they take up, in proportion to their share of the total vote in the last general election.
  • We will ensure that any petition that secures 100,000 signatures will be eligible for formal debate in Parliament. The petition with the most signatures will enable members of the public to table a bill eligible to be voted on in Parliament.
  • We will introduce a new ‘public reading stage’ for bills to give the public an opportunity to comment on proposed legislation online, and a dedicated ‘public reading day’ within a bill’s committee stage where those comments will be debated by the committee scrutinising the bill.
  • We will improve the civil service, and make it easier to reward the best civil servants and remove the least effective.
  • We will reform the Civil Service Compensation Scheme to bring it into line with practice in the private sector.
  • We will put a limit on the number on Special Advisers.
  • We will introduce extra support for people with disabilities who want to become MPs, councillors or other elected officials.
  • We will open up Whitehall recruitment by publishing central government job vacancies online.
  • We will publish details of every UK project that receives over £25,000 of EU funds.
  • We will give residents the power to instigate local referendums on any local issue.
  • We will stop plans to impose supplementary business rates on firms if a majority of the firms affected do not give their consent.
  • We will give residents the power to veto excessive council tax increases.
  • We will continue to promote peace, stability and economic prosperity in Northern Ireland, standing firmly behind the agreements negotiated and institutions they establish. We will work to bring Northern Ireland back into the mainstream of UK politics, including producing a government paper examining potential mechanisms for changing the corporation tax rate in Northern Ireland.
  • We will implement the proposals of the Calman Commission and introduce a referendum on further Welsh devolution.
  • We will review the control and use of accumulated and future revenues from the Fossil Fuel Levy in Scotland.
  • We recognise the concerns expressed by the Holtham Commission on the system of devolution funding. However, at this time, the priority must be to reduce the deficit and therefore any change to the system must await the stabilisation of the public finances. Depending on the outcome of the forthcoming referendum, we will establish a process similar to the Calman Commission for the Welsh Assembly. We will take forward the Sustainable Homes Legislative Competence Order.
  • We will make the running of government more efficient by introducing enhanced Departmental Boards which will form collective operational leadership of government departments.

Your comments (271)

  1. Autochthony says:

    Have two Houses – Commons [as now] and Elders – English for senile [same root as Senex and senate - but let's speak English].
    Oh and ‘Le Roi le veult’ could go; ‘His/Her majesty so wishes’ would do.

  2. Autochthony says:

    Individual Voter Registration = ID Cards??
    Tighten up on Postal Vote – that was a gerrymandering moment [and the pious Man-of-Straw was there all along!].
    Don’t make voting compulsory – but get Tesco to offer 1000 extra points for having voted, with the net cost allowable against their tax

    House of Lords: two possible reforms
    - one is to move to a fully elected House; more bloody politicians, unless it is done carefully – should not have been a member of a political party for – perhaps – four thousand days; should not have held elective or high office for two thousand days; should not be related any closer than grandparent/grand child/sibling in law [say] to a current parliamentarian; elected for one eighteen year term [with one sixth renewed every three years in, say, the first Thursday in March (new electoral register)]. and banned from reelection for seven years to Commons or ‘Lords’.
    The suffrage needs to be different.
    Suggestion, revert to 21 years to vote for the Commons, but sixteen for the ‘Lords’.
    Suggestuion – an extra Lords Vote if you’re ove 32, and another over 48 and so on until any 112-year-old has seven such votes.
    Extra vote for VC and GC, for a Nobel Prize – and even winning the Eurovision Song contest (perhaps).
    Perhaps for ten years in the Forces – one extra vote.
    House-owner [freehold, no mortgage, maybe] – an extra vote?
    For some grades of civic service [mayoralty?], too – possibly.
    Extra vote for an Olympic gold medal – yes, some cyclists would have several such votes – or World Championship in some [all?] sports, and perhaps other competitive fields – hairdressing, or Scrabble, or lawn-mower racing.
    You get the idea, and no two lists would match.

    - the other is to revert to a random selection – which is more-or-less what the hereditary principal was – but with changes.
    First, start creating new peers – not just Barons/Baronesses.
    Second – first-born to inherit [unless they're an imbecile - "ginger" is no disqualification] – male or female.
    Third, the level of the peerage declines every other generation. A new Duke has a child that become s Duke or Duchess; their child is a mere Marquess/Marchiness, grandchild the same, but great grandchild just an Earl. Exception is creations of Barony – who get child and Grandchild as Barons – then reversion to commons.
    As a twist – a crowd pleaser – for twenty years, apply to five reasonably distinguished, historic people a year [one for each rank of the peerage - Duke, Marquess, Earl, Viscount and Baron] – with clear lineage, and no peerage themselves. Trace the firstborn of the firstborn’s and award a peerage to the current scion [rank - of the five - to be decided by lot].

  3. Clea Curtis says:

    Whilst I welcome the proposed reforms I see them only as an initial step towards a properly proportionate system for voting such as STV.

  4. Bruce says:

    Devolution for England.

    Reduce the number of MP’s by a third.

  5. Kit Barritt says:

    The House of Lords should be an apolitical reforming chamber. It should be made up of a mixture of (a few) government appointments, a large number of professional body appointments and some PR elected politicians. The majority of appointments should come from organisations such as the CBI, trade unions, science bodies, universities, medicine, charities, the national trust, etc. These people would answer to their professional bodies and would provide a informed input on legislation.
    Unless the purpose of the second chamber is clear, deciding on its make-up is foolish, it is a recipe for constant fight for supremacy between the two houses.

    The House of Commons should be elected by STV. That way we get a say on both the candidate and the party, the system would be broadly proportional, and we would retain a constituency MP.

    The mechanics of elections should be one suited to the 21st century not the 18th. We should be able to vote electronically, the voting booth should be an electronic system not a place to mark a piece of paper with a pencil.

  6. Adrian Tupper says:

    The Lords (yes, I agree with those who say it should be renamed) probably should be elected using PR. We certainly don’t need a “constituency Lord” so the current electoral system would not be correct. Maybe this will encourage groups not normally associated with politics to put forward candidates, rather than just the usual selection of political parties.

    Happy with AV (I think) although I don’t see why we need a referendum for it. Nobody voted for the existing system either, and that’s certainly not democratic. Democracy has been thus far sacrificed by the two main parties who benefit the most from FPTP. I really do hope the Conservatives will embrace AV and see the value it brings to constituency voting.

  7. Elaine says:

    I’m not supportive of parliament having the right to rule for a 5 year fixed period. The current conventions mean that political pressure can force an election. So what if an election is called when the main party is most likely to win, they were the winner on the day. Allowing the same said parliament to decide on dissolution, does not that mean that people will vote to keep their own jobs?
    I am not happy about having fewer constituencies; I feel that this would lead to less representation of local issues. The MP needs to know the area that they are representing, how can they produce the same service to more constituents, without increasing the length of each day.
    I approve the proposal to enable the public more access to political processes, response to petitions enables the public to have a say in the political process, and hopefully will reduce the influence of lobbyist which often go against public opinion.
    PR for a Second Chamber makes sense, the Second Chamber should reflect the nation, it is there to provide a check, and should represent us all.
    The public reading stage seems good; hopefully it will provide considered legislation, rather than a need to spend valuable time on legislative amendments.
    Changing The Civil Service Compensation Scheme is a bad idea. Many Civil Servants have worked hard for many years, at salaries that were often below industry equivalents, because of this scheme. To make a change, that affects entitlement gained in the past, is unfair. That would be taking away something that person has already worked for.
    I am worried that a vote to veto council tax rises is a folly, unless individuals are aware of precisely what services would be affected. Everyone wants to pay less, but at what cost?
    No one has suggested a single transferrable vote system; it could help stop your least favourite candidate getting in, yet gives you a chance to have your say.

  8. Ashley Ballard says:

    The proposed House of Lords reform is far more far-reaching than tinkering with voting to allow ranking of candidates. So I hope there is a referendum on House of Lords reform at the same time as the AV referendum. I haven’t seen any evidence that people are unhappy with an appointed House of Lords. What I am unhappy about is cronyism, and I think elections would do nothing to solve that, and could make it worse if done badly.

  9. Carl Martinez says:

    Proportional representation.

  10. Vincent says:

    I do not understand why Mp’s get all these living expenses, they chose to stand for that particular job and they should account that from their wages not my wages (through tax)!!

    We have a huge deficit at the moment, and with the spending cuts coming in that will hit me (the little man) hard, i should hope to think that Governemnt officals will also be personally affected with cuts within their benifits, just like the working familys of this country will also experience cuts in their benifits!

  11. Edward says:

    I am still in College education and believe I do not look backwards to the old days of Britain, but to its future. The House of Peers helped make this Great Country; with all the members experience and devotion, with some of them having aquired it from running their own estates, which can then be translated into helping further this Nation. I do not agree with any elections to the House of Lords, but I see that it is inevitable that it will happen.
    But I ask that there should at the very least be a a guarenteed place for current Lords alongside the elected ‘Senators’ in the mentioned Grandfather style. I do not see how having a secound fully elected Chamber can be of any benifit to this countries future, unless the people in it are experts in different fields, have experience and maturity. As the current Archbishop of York has said, some of the legislation which comes from the House of Commons if poor in quality, and it is often the experienced Lords who can help develope and amend it to a high standard. In my opinion, the current model of the two houses of Parliament and the role of the Monarchy work perfectly well, and little change is needed.
    So i ask that: the proportion of elected members in kept to a minimum, they are elected by PR, there is still a place for the current twenty six bishoprics of the Established Anglican Church and that there is still a place for appointed Lords (under more scrutiny of appointments than before). I wholly believe this country does not need a secound fully elected chamber, as we already have a fully elected chamber, but that we need a mature place, where experience and stability are key.
    May I also say, I admire your work in the cutting of the deficit, and really do hope that the public do not punish this current coalition for its cuts, as it is evident to those who research, it was the previous administrations mistakes, over spending and lies that has made the recession have such a negative effect on the country.

  12. Peter S says:

    Westminster has been sidelined, it is just an EU puppet, packed full of Quislings doing the job of the unelected masters in Brussels.

    Until we leave the EU it is useless to think that the MPs have any power over Britain.

  13. Christopher Holt says:

    Having a fixed term for the duration of a parliament will inevitably reduce the frequency of general elections. That is, the electorate will have fewer opportunities to express their political power.
    If our representatives have no need to fear of losing theor job in an early election, then what motivation is there for them to properly represent their constituents until the last year of a Parliament? This is serious business, and it is good to keep them on their toes.
    True, the Prime minister does have a disproportionate constitutional power to choose the time of an election, but for his tenure to instead be guaranteed by law merely avoids the real problem. If a govenment cannot command a majority in the Commons, then it has clearly lost it’s mandate to govern. Stability should be the reward of popularity, not an end of itself.
    I cannot see this proposal as anything but a diminishment of democracy.

  14. Catherine Beer says:

    We desperately need a more proportional voting system and an elected second chamber is the best way forward.

  15. Anne Palmer says:

    There is far more to the House of Lords than evicting and replacing various Lords and Ladies and more “Lords a Leaping” than ever before.

    There is the Treaty and Act of Union 1706/1707 to consider and THAT Treaty also holds the Act of Settlement together also.

    There is no doubt that there would have been no need for the “Act of Union”, a Treaty between two separate Nations/Countries, in fact Kingdoms, that had decided to be united, a coming together to be ruled by one Parliament situated in England, and that this was to be for all time, if Article XX11 of that Treaty (“That by virtue of this Treaty, Of the Peers of Scotland at the time of the Union Sixteen shall be the number to sit and vote in the House of Lords, and Forty-five the number of representatives of Scotland in the House of Commons of the Parliament of Great Britain) was not included or entrenched within it. There is no doubt at all the Act of Union, was and is entrenched. (Protected) it was indeed a TREATY and although at the time of writing the 1706 Treaty, it was insecure up until the Treaty had been ratified. It was ratified.

    Without representation of the Hereditary Peers and representation in the House of Commons in the Westminster Parliament guaranteed by statute, there would have been no Union. In other words those Members in the Scottish Parliament would not have agreed to the Treaty of Union if the position of the Scottish hereditary Peers and of Members of Parliament had not been entrenched. There were only Hereditary Peers at that time.

    The Treaty and Acts of Union are the very foundation stones of the Common Law Constitution of this Kingdom and Parliament, for not only was it the end of an independent sovereign Nation and Country of Scotland, it was the birth of the then sovereign Nation and people’s of Great Britain as well as the “Parliament of Great Britain” as we know it today, the Great British Parliament and the United Kingdom of Great Britain. These words are to be found in those ancient documents.

    As I understand it, (Quite simply) if an alteration of a Treaty is required, it needs the ‘voice’ of assent from all parties that have taken part in the original Treaty.
    There is a great deal more, but mostly the people of this Country are getting a tad fed up of seeing their own long standing Common Law Constitution ignored, while every dot and comma of every EU Treaty is underlined. Well enough is enough, Remember that when the EU breaks up, as in the end it will, we will need our once united United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and the British Commonwealth more than we have ever done in the past for break up the United Kingdom and you might also break up Her Majesty’s CommonWealth.
    A country that cannot close its own borders, is no longer a sovereign Country.

    We elect a government that should know whether we can afford to keep all those that enter the Country they are supposed to govern. We may be offending those that fought along side us from the Commonwealth if we do not allow them to come here to live, yet leave our borders open for those we cannot even talk to in their language.

    I have no idea WHO would want to come to this Country to live anymore, for so many are applying to get out of it to start a new life in Australia and New Zealand. They though are also having to have a point system there before they are accepted.

  16. Lorna says:

    I agree with Mike Powell and Daniel Henry.

    If we are going to have PR (which i definitely think is long overdue) then we should do it properly. If the people want a truly proportional system then they should be able to have it.

  17. Colin Martyn says:

    This coalition is making the same mistakes as the last government regarding the Lords.
    It can fulfil a vital role in democracy but it needs to be apolitical rather than reflecting any single vote, General Election, Referendum or anything else.
    We need clever experienced people who have demonstrated little or no political affiliation, but many constructive and sensible deeds to provide the checks and balances within a second chamber.
    Those who have served a party machine faithfully should be the last ones considered to be made a peer. The recent additions to the fold have, in the main, been a disgrace.

  18. Karl Shivers says:

    love the BBC but I don’t like how it represents liberal, politically correct views on its News and TV broadcasting stations. The BBC should be representative of opinions within the UK which means hearing out populist and not so populist opinions including those of the BNP and other fringe parties. By educating people about differing views, we can give people the right to form their own opinions rather than being told what is wrong or right. That will create a culture of diversity without the need for political correctness to be enforced by Government because people will naturally begin to care about what others think. Right now, I think the UK is too narrowly focused on not offending others by speaking out of turn. That to me, is state sponsored censorship.

  19. Catherine Beer says:

    Please stop the ‘expenses’ witch-hunt – it is tired and tasteless. Pay MPs more – it’s important work! Have a seperate standard ‘London Living’ allowance to stop complex expenses schemes.

    Re-drawing the boundaries to equalise number of constituents should not be bundled in the AV bill.

  20. Paul Randle-Jolliffe says:

    The Isle of Wight with it unique Island Community identity would not be served by a splitting of the constituency into two, especially with one being partly mainland, but given the large size of the constituency it could be served by two MPs in one constituency for which there is historical precedent, voters would get two votes for two Parliamentary Candidates who would both serve as separate MPs, parties could field two candidates.

  21. M Shaw says:

    What are you going to do about the scotish voting on english problems